Episode 6: Into the Woods

[SCENE I. Some form of psychedelic dreamscape version of the woods outside of Portland. Bright colors, giant mushrooms, and a sky that is an unnatural shade of purple. MELISSA is just coming to; SARAH is sitting on a giant mushroom drinking from her flask.]

MELISSA: They should really make otherworldly portals that don’t make you simultaneously re-experience every hangover you’ve ever had.

SARAH: It’s not that bad.

MELISSA: Whatever you say. (Getting to her feet, brushing herself off.) So, weren’t we supposed to be following some goblin somewhere?

SARAH: Yes! He said not to wake you. (Standing, tossing MELISSA the flask.) Come on!

(They walk down a narrow, winding trail, which eventually opens up into a large, sprawling marketplace full of goblins, crying out their wares–“Come buy our orchard fruit! Come buy! Come buy! Sweet to tongue and sound to eye! Come buy! Come buy!” et cetera.)

MELISSA: (Under her breath.) They’re doing this on purpose.

SARAH: What?

(At this moment, their GOBLIN companion appears.)

GOBLIN: There you are! Come this way. (He hurries down a path.)

SARAH: Oh, can’t we buy something at the market?

MELISSA: Stop that.

GOBLIN: There’s no time, pretty lady. Hurry.

(They continue down another winding path to a hot spring in a remote copse of trees. The GOBLIN stops here.)

GOBLIN: The crossing of the springs! I can open the way to Cedric from here. Melissa, I believe you said something about a hot shower?

MELISSA: Well, yes, but I don’t have anything to wear, and no offense, but–

(The GOBLIN tosses her a satchel. She opens it to reveal that it contains a set of bathing suits and some beach towels.)

MELISSA: Right. Fairy.

 

[SCENE II. MELISSA and SARAH are relaxing in the springs, while the GOBLIN works on opening the way. Eventually he stops and looks at them for a few moments.]

GOBLIN: Ritual’s done. Once the way is open, it will only be open for a few moments.

MELISSA: (Not really listening.) Yes, yes.

GOBLIN: That’s why I couldn’t let you spend time at the market while I’m doing this.

MELISSA: That’s great.

GOBLIN: It should open any second now.

MELISSA: I can’t wait.

GOBLIN: I’m just telling you, because the springs are the circle, so when it happens–

MELISSA: Wait, what?

(The water begins to emit a strange greenish mist, shrouding SARAH and MELISSA.)

GOBLIN: I wonder if perhaps I should have warned them beforehand. (He jumps into the water.)

 

[SCENE III. The middle of the woods somewhere. MELISSA looks angry and is dripping wet; SARAH has somehow managed to hang on to her towel and is drying off happily. The GOBLIN emerges momentarily.]

GOBLIN: And here we are! It shouldn’t be hard to follow Cedric’s tracks from here.

MELISSA: I’m not following anyone’s tracks in a bathing suit! I don’t even have shoes! I–

(The GOBLIN tosses her a satchel.)

MELISSA: (Sighs.) Right. Fairy.

SARAH: You need to just take things as they come, Melissa.

(A minute or so later, they are dressed in foresty colored clothing, practical for a hike but still eminently stylish. MELISSA looks mollified.)

GOBLIN: Shall we go?

MELISSA: Bring it on. What are we looking for?

GOBLIN: Well, Cedric was going to visit the Seer. He should have come back by now.

MELISSA: Nasty piece of work, this Seer?

GOBLIN: Oh, no. (Beat.) But there are giant spiders out here. It’s possible he ran afoul of them.

MELISSA: Giant spiders.

GOBLIN: Yes. I believe that we are now in what you would call “Canada.” Here they have not hunted giant spiders to extinction.

MELISSA: Are we talking, like, giant house spider-sized giant spiders? Big as your hand?

GOBLIN: Oh, goodness no! (Beat.) The smallest ones are about the size of a cat.

(SARAH half-hugs MELISSA.)

SARAH: It’ll be okay! You’re Melissa Xenakis! You’re not afraid of anything!

MELISSA: Except, as you will recall, spiders. Of which I am deathly terrified.

SARAH: (Scolding.) Melissa! I am trying to bolster your spirits.

MELISSA: (Sighs.) Fine, let’s get this over with.

(They head off into the forest.)

 

[SCENE III. Deeper in the forest. There are giant spiderwebs everywhere around here, and SARAH, MELISSA, and the GOBLIN are moving slowly and more cautiously.]

GOBLIN: Not this way, Cedric!

MELISSA: I hate to break it to you, but I think Cedric is–

(She is cut off by a long, loud, inhuman howling sound. SARAH and MELISSA exchange terrified glances, but the GOBLIN cries out with joy.)

GOBLIN: That was Cedric! Come quickly!

(The GOBLIN hurries off down the path.)

MELISSA: That was–

SARAH: (Guilty.) Maybe I should have said. Cedric is kind of the most terrifying thing you’ll ever seen.

MELISSA: Oh, good.

SARAH: In my defense I was pretty much out of my mind on fairy wine at the time and didn’t really notice.

MELISSA: That would about do it.

(They head down the path, considerably more reluctantly. MELISSA grabs a stray branch and wields it as a cudgel. Eventually they come upon the GOBLIN and CEDRIC. CEDRIC is a monster that distantly resembles a bear, if bears were designed by someone who is about as insane as it is possible for someone to be, and who used that insanity for the purpose of creating terrifying killing machines. Given that, he seems to be in good health. He is making hideous growling noises at the GOBLIN.)

GOBLIN: But what about the spiders? They’re all over! Surely you haven’t–

(A cat-sized spider scuttles out of sight, and the GOBLIN rises. MELISSA raises her stick. Then several, much larger spiders emerge from all around them–the largest of them are the size of a horse, give or take. MELISSA backs against a tree, shaking violently. SARAH does her best to comfort her friend. A long, tense moment occurs. Then the largest spider, a bulbous creature with white marks on its abdomen, speaks.)

SPIDER: He is our guest.

SARAH: Is that ‘guest’ in a ‘he just stopped by for tea’ sense or ‘guest’ in a ‘Soviet prison’ sense?

SPIDER: (Hesitates.) Could you repeat the question?

MELISSA: (Stage whisper.) They’re Canadian.

SARAH: Oh right. Sorry, I forgot. I meant are you using ‘guest’ in a friendly or a not so friendly way?

SPIDER: I see. (Beat.) Cedric is a friend. Why are you here?

GOBLIN: I was worried about Cedric, so I asked my friends here to help me find him.

SARAH: Hi! I’m Sarah, and this is Melissa, who doesn’t usually shake uncontrollably. (She helps MELISSA to a sitting position and leans against her.)

MELISSA: (Weakly.) I think it’s this Canadian pollen that does it.

SPIDER: Well, any friend of Cedric’s is a friend of ours. I’m not sure what humans eat, but I hear the trees here are quite palatable.

GOBLIN: I’ll fix my companions something! Thank you for your hospitality.

SPIDER: Of course. Welcome to Canada.

 

[SCENE IV. The heart of the spiders’ colony. There is a small campfire burning, and some spiders in the background are devouring the flesh of some creatures they have captured and killed. MELISSA has the glazed look of someone who has been in mortal terror so long her brain has simply shut off; SARAH seems worried about her friend but is otherwise in good spirits. The GOBLIN, CEDRIC, and the SPIDER who spoke earlier are just now joining them at the fire.]

GOBLIN: The spiders say the Seer is gone.

SPIDER: She fled with the new year.

(CEDRIC makes a hideous growling gurgling sound.)

GOBLIN: Hm, yes, that is suspicious.

SPIDER: Suspicious how?

SARAH: Oh, evil fairies replaced Baby New Year with a changeling.

SPIDER: Ah yes. They are seeking to bring about the calamity themselves. (It makes a strange chittering noise that might be a laugh, and turns to look at SARAH and MELISSA. MELISSA makes a terrified whimper.) And now you seek the Dark Lady.

SARAH: Actually she’s a friend of ours. We’re more trying to figure out why she’s so important.

SPIDER: I see. (Beat.) You are familiar with Helen of Troy?

SARAH: Yes, I–wait, really?

SPIDER: Oh yes.

SARAH: Celeste?

SPIDER: There will be a war for her. And she will determine the victor. Whether that brings peace or calamity is up to her.

(MELISSA rallies somewhat.)

MELISSA: The priest said that the Mushroom of Perpetual Flame could, uh. Stop her.

SPIDER: Imagine what would happen if someone killed Helen of Troy.

MELISSA: So, basically, don’t do that.

SPIDER: But keep the Mushroom safe.

MELISSA: Oh, we will. (A brief cut to the box the Mushroom is in, in the corner of MELISSA’s room, nearly covered by dirty clothes) It’s pretty much in the safest place in Portland right now.

SPIDER: Good. Very good.

SARAH: Can you maybe provide some slightly more specific details?

SPIDER: I can’t. I’m sorry. (Beat.) But you are free to stay here and enjoy our hospitality. I’m sure you’ve had a long day of traveling and–

MELISSA: (Too quickly.) No, we couldn’t. That is, we’d hate to impose, and–we really should be getting back.

SPIDER: Very well. You are always welcome here.

(SARAH gives the SPIDER a hug.)

SARAH: Thank you! I hope you’ll visit Portland sometime.

(MELISSA’s eye twitches.)

GOBLIN: Are you sure you won’t come back with us, Cedric?

(A low, hideous growl from Cedric.)

GOBLIN: Of course! But do warn us next time you disappear! I was very worried.

(The GOBLIN opens another portal, this one in the trunk of a giant tree. MELISSA is through it in a flash. SARAH, grinning, makes her way through shortly thereafter, followed finally by the GOBLIN.)

SPIDER: Well, they seemed nice.

(A brief snorting sound from CEDRIC.)

SPIDER: Perhaps not the most reliable people, no. But I think they mean well.

(Something like a barking noise from CEDRIC.)

SPIDER: You say ‘apocalypse’ like it’s a bad thing. But I’m sure they’ll be fine. (Beat.) Now, I believe we’ve just captured some moose, if you’d like to join us for dinner.

(CEDRIC and the SPIDER make their way away from the campfire, which is at this point little more than embers. A gust of wind stirs up the embers briefly, which then fade into nothingness.)

(Fin.)

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