[SCENE I. NICHOLAS’s house. NICHOLAS is in his bedroom, a personality-less space with a bed, a desk, and maybe a poster or two, full of clutter that somehow just makes it look unused. He is at his desk, typing furiously. KELLY walks into the open doorway.]
KELLY: Hey, Nick.
NICHOLAS: What do you want?
KELLY: Just making sure you’re okay. You’ve been in there since you got tied up for being a cultist.
NICHOLAS: (Annoyed.) I’m not a cultist. (Kinder.) But I’m fine, thank you.
KELLY: Are you sure?
NICHOLAS: I’m sure. Why are you so worried?
KELLY: We share genes. If you have some sort of hereditary madness that makes you predisposed to joining cults or writing angry political manifestos in your bedroom, I deserve to know about it so I can get preventative treatment.
NICHOLAS: Ha ha. Leave me alone.
KELLY: Suit yourself. (She departs.
(After a few ticks, NICHOLAS gets up to shut the door behind her. When he turns around, the DEVIL is sitting on his bed.)
THE DEVIL: Hello, Nick.
NICHOLAS: Lucifer! How the devil are you?
THE DEVIL: (Cringes.) That was bad. Leave the puns to the experts, won’t you?
NICHOLAS: Melissa would have laughed.
THE DEVIL: (Thoughtful.) Perhaps, if she were me. But she is not, and if she were me she would likely have my tastes and predilections, so she likely–
NICHOLAS: All right, all right. What do you want?
THE DEVIL: It breaks my heart to see a young man waste his days away writing political essays that he subsequently hides in a folder labeled ‘research’ on his hard drive.
NICHOLAS: And? You’re the devil. If you don’t want me do it that probably means I’ll get a Nobel Peace Prize if I do.
THE DEVIL: Not really. I just find wasted potential so tragic. Which is why I have come to give you today’s copy of the Portland Examiner.
NICHOLAS: Is that why I never got mine today? So you could be my glorified, Satanic delivery boy?
THE DEVIL: Well, yes and no.
(Cut to the offices of the Portland Examiner. A pile of freshly-printed newspapers suddenly catches fire. The infernal flames burn only the paper, but nothing else, and refuse to be put out.)
THE DEVIL: (Voiceover.) There was an accident at the Examiner.
(The few advance copies around the office also burn up, and computers explode. MICHAEL is shouting at employees, who hold up their hands helplessly.)
THE DEVIL: Several accidents, really. So this is, in fact, the only copy of today’s Examiner in existence.
(Cut back to NICHOLAS’s room, as he’s reading through it.)
NICHOLAS: Well, I’m glad that (he flips to an article at random) Aaron Paulson won the spelling bee this year.
THE DEVIL: I had a hand in that, you know.
NICHOLAS: What? Why would you do that?
THE DEVIL: (Hurt.) Education is important, Nick. Children are our future. (Beat.) But that’s not what I wanted you to see. Turn to the want ads.
NICHOLAS: (Does so.) All right, and . . . .
THE DEVIL: You might note that I’ve circled an ad for you.
NICHOLAS: (Looks.) An internship at the new mayor’s office?
THE DEVIL: With course credit and a monthly stipend.
NICHOLAS: I . . . that actually sounds great. Why are you doing this?
THE DEVIL: I felt bad about tricking you into doing my bidding before. I thought I’d make it up to you.
NICHOLAS: Well . . . thank you.
THE DEVIL: Don’t mention it. Give my regards to Mayor-Elect Hall. (Beat.) Actually, don’t do that. She’ll think you’re a Satanist and reject your application.
NICHOLAS: Uh, thanks for that.
THE DEVIL: Best be getting on, though. Work to be done, souls to corrupt, you know the drill. Or you will soon enough. (Grins and vanishes.)
(NICHOLAS looks over the newspaper ad, then begins typing a few searches into his computer.)
[SCENE II. An office somewhere in Portland. It looks like it was designed to be temporary, but it is currently decorated with ‘HALL for MAYOR’ posters. NICHOLAS walks in tentatively. Inside, Mayor-Elect NAOMI HALL is sitting at a desk.]
NAOMI: Can I help you?
NICHOLAS: Uh, I’m here about the ad?
NAOMI: Oh, thank goodness! I was worried nobody was going to respond.
NICHOLAS: Well, here I am. (He hands her a resume.) Nick Hayes. I’m a political science student at Portland University, and–
NAOMI: (Cuts him off.) I’m going to be honest with you, Mr. Hayes. I was running as a joke. I have no staff and no experience. My platform was “being nice to people.” That is not a serious political stance.
NICHOLAS: Apparently it resonated.
NAOMI: Yes. But since the people decided that they wanted Naomi Hall as their mayor, then who am I to deny them? But I need someone who understands politics, to help grease the wheels of Portland’s political machine. Can you do that, Mr. Hayes?
NICHOLAS: It’s . . . within the realm of possibility.
NAOMI: You’re hired. (She hands him a stack of paperwork.) The internship lasts until my inauguration, at which point you’ll be eligible for a full-time staff position. Read this over and get it back to me tomorrow.
NICHOLAS: I . . . yes, ma’am.
NAOMI: I look forward to working with you, Mr. Hayes.
(They shake hands. NICHOLAS departs.)
[SCENE III. The Jaded Old Crone. MELISSA and SARAH are eating dinner.]
SARAH: I was pretty sure I was going to die.
MELISSA: Oh no! Don’t die, small friend! Then I’d have to find another small friend.
SARAH: You’d never find a replacement.
MELISSA: She would be smaller, but I wouldn’t like her as much. Her name would be Gladys.
(NICHOLAS and KELLY walk in.)
KELLY: I’m just saying, your generosity is welcome even if it is kind of stupid. (Beat. She notices MELISSA and SARAH.) Hey, it’s Melissa! Can we go say hi? I’m going to go say hi.
NICHOLAS: I’m sure they don’t–(KELLY rushes off anyway. He sighs and follows.)
MELISSA: Kelly! Hello! (Looks at NICHOLAS.) Nick. Don’t you have an apocalypse to cause or something? Oh wait, no, because we eat chaos cults for breakfast. (She gives SARAH a high-five.)
NICHOLAS: I told you, I’m not a cultist.
MELISSA: (Waves her hand irritably.) Yes, yes.
KELLY: Nick just got a job as the new mayor’s intern!
MELISSA: Is he an intern or an “intern?”
KELLY: The latter, I think.
NICHOLAS: What? No, she just liked my resume.
MELISSA: I find this highly suspicious. But congratulations, I suppose. I take it you’ve gotten your chaos cultist tendencies out of the way?
NICHOLAS: I–yes. I’m done with that. Those days are behind me. I love law and order now.
SARAH: Really? I always found it kind of boring. But I mostly only watch British television.
(She earns a blank stare from the others, except for MELISSA, who smirks and goes back to her meal. SARAH looks smug.)
NICHOLAS: (Uncomfortable.) Right.
SARAH: So tell me about the new mayor! Who knew that “being nice to everyone” would be so popular with the voters?
KELLY: Yeah, I always kind of thought most people were jerks.
NICHOLAS: I guess people want others to be nice to them, so they can take advantage of it? (He shrugs.) She gave me a lot of papers to read on her policies. I don’t really know much about them yet.
SARAH: How mysterious! And exciting!
MELISSA: I’m sure he’ll post some sloppily edited and poorly worded political essays on his blog, detailing why being nice isn’t just a slogan–it’s a whole new way of looking at mayoral politics.
NICHOLAS: That’s–that’s actually pretty good. Can I use that?
NICHOLAS: Will at least you edit my essays so they’re less sloppily edited?
NICHOLAS: How about dinner sometime this week?
MELISSA: Sorry, but your sister won me over with her charms. My heart belongs to her alone now. (Beat. NICHOLAS gives her a blank stare; KELLY turns red. MELISSA laughs and shakes her head.) You two.
NICHOLAS: So, is that a no?
MELISSA: Last time, you tried to bring about the apocalypse. Pass.
KELLY: (In a hurry to get away.) Well anyway we’ve taken up enough of your time and probably shouldn’t take up any more of it so shouldn’t we go get a table Nick?
NICHOLAS: Uh, yeah. See you around, Melissa. Sarah.
MELISSA: (A farewell.) Nicholas.
(NICHOLAS and KELLY walk off and find a table.)
[SCENE IV. NICHOLAS’s room. He is lying on his bed reading the paperwork he was given. Eventually we become aware that THE DEVIL is reading over his shoulder. NICHOLAS senses the presence and glances up, then stands up in alarm.]
THE DEVIL: Oh, no, don’t stop on my account!
NICHOLAS: (Weary.) You again. What do you want?
THE DEVIL: Just seeing how you’re settling in. I hear congratulations are in order.
NICHOLAS: Yeah. I think she might be crazy.
THE DEVIL: Maybe you had very impressive references. (He picks up a copy of NICHOLAS’s resume.) Though your hypothesis is looking pretty solid right about now.
NICHOLAS: And these position papers are . . . rough reading. It’s almost like she doesn’t want people to understand what she’s saying.
THE DEVIL: That’s why she needs you, Nick! Spin it! Spin it into something that sounds like “let’s be nice to people.”
NICHOLAS: Do you think she’ll mind if I don’t read the last . . . (He picks up a stack of paper.) . . . hundred or so pages?
THE DEVIL: I’m sure you’ve got the gist of it by now.
NICHOLAS: Yeah, you’re probably right. (He heads towards the computer.) Best get to work. I want to impress.
THE DEVIL: Oh, I’m sure you’ll do just fine. (Grins devilishly and vanishes.)