Episode 20: Grave Tidings

[SCENE I. Outside the Jaded Old Crone. MELISSA and GAVIN have just finished lunch and are walking down the street. It is raining, and MELISSA is in a black raincoat and impractical gothy boots and carrying a colorful umbrella.]

MELISSA: Shall I walk you home?

GAVIN: Pretty sure you’d follow me even if I said no.

MELISSA: True. (They walk for a while.) So, my sister tells me you almost got her killed in a murderous explosion.

GAVIN: I get the feeling she’s tougher to kill than that.

MELISSA: Probably. Still, try to avoid it next time you take her on some insane excursion.

(They are walking past a graveyard. MELISSA idly runs her hand along the gate, but they otherwise don’t seem to notice.)

GAVIN: What makes you think I plan on more insane excursions?

MELISSA: I know you, and I know Lina.

GAVIN: I happen to be a very reasonable man.

MELISSA: Said the man who launched a fake snark hunt that ended in a grisly murder.

GAVIN: I don’t think Portland’s preeminent crazy woman needs to be lecturing me on being a reasonable man.

MELISSA: I’m very good at identifying other crazy people, Gavin.

GAVIN: So you say. (They enter the graveyard by the gates. GAVIN begins to look slightly puzzled.) Well, someone’s feeling gothy today.


GAVIN: Walking through the graveyard, in the rain? In your black raincoat?

MELISSA: I was following you.

GAVIN: I was letting you lead. (Beat.) Where the hell are we, anyway?

MELISSA: I have no idea.

GAVIN: Well, I mean, Portland isn’t that big. We can’t actually be lost.

(A long pause.)

MELISSA: Let’s, uh, head back.

(They turn back towards the gate, which they find closed. MELISSA tries it and finds it locked.)

MELISSA: I think we’re in trouble.

(GAVIN produces a smartphone, meanwhile, and begins searching.)

GAVIN: According to Google, we’re in Nowhere Land.

MELISSA: That’s not a real place.

GAVIN: Right, hence the name.

MELISSA: I don’t think most places that aren’t real places are called Nowhere Land.

GAVIN: . . . do you ever listen to yourself talk?

MELISSA: I try, but I get distracted by how beautiful the sound of my own voice is. (She produces her own cell phone and calls SARAH.)

SARAH: Melissa!

MELISSA: Yeah, hey, are you by a computer?

SARAH: I could be. What’s up?

MELISSA: We may be stuck in a graveyard. It’s not too far from the Jaded Old Crone. I’d like to know where exactly.

SARAH: Stuck?

MELISSA: Boring story.

SARAH: Okay. (Pause.) I’m not seeing it. Do you want me to just drive around until I find you?

MELISSA: No, it’s okay. We’ll figure something out.

SARAH: Okay! Call me if you need me!

MELISSA: I will. See you, small friend. (She hangs up.)

GAVIN: No luck?


GAVIN: Well, maybe there’s another way out.

(They explore the rest of the graveyard’s paths, but find that all gates are shut. The wind and rain pick up in the meanwhile, and eventually MELISSA is struggling with her umbrella.)

MELISSA: That’s it. I’m taking shelter in that crypt.

GAVIN: That sounds like a bad idea.

(She ignores him and ducks into a crypt. GAVIN sighs and follows.)


[SCENE II. The crypt. It looks like a truly vast complex, though from the surface it didn’t look particularly large. MELISSA is sitting on a stone bench and staring vacantly at the wall opposite. GAVIN is pacing restlessly. There is a loud stony thumping sound, as of, for instance, a giant stone door being slammed shut over a crypt.]

GAVIN: Did you hear that?

MELISSA: It was probably just my boots. Here. (She clicks her heel against the stony floor, which makes a high clicking sound entirely unlike the stony sound from earlier.) See? Doomed.

(GAVIN shakes his head and runs to the entrance, and finds that there is now a large stone door blocking the exit.)

GAVIN: Good news! We’re trapped.

MELISSA: Mm. (Beat.) I don’t mean to alarm you, but do you hear a kind of bony scraping sound?

GAVIN: Quit fucking around, Melissa, this is serious.

MELISSA: Sort of a scrapy shuffling. Like skeletons walking.

GAVIN: Just shut up! I’m trying to think of a way out.

(He turns his back and closes his eyes, evidently trying to concentrate. Meanwhile, several SKELETONS appear from deeper within the crypt. MELISSA backs towards GAVIN, wielding her umbrella as if it might help fend them off. She bumps into him, and he whirls around, angry, only to see the SKELETONS.)

GAVIN: Why didn’t you tell me there were skeletons?

MELISSA: (Sighs.) Any bright ideas?

GAVIN: Not die?

MELISSA: Doesn’t look like it’ll be too difficult! We’ll just become skeletons forever.

GAVIN: Not what I had in mind.

(MELISSA sighs, takes a deep breath, and swings her umbrella at the skeletons. They briefly scatter long enough for her to run deeper into the crypt. GAVIN follows after, shouldering through the reforming throng. The SKELETONS shamble after.)


[SCENE III. Deeper in the crypt. MELISSA and GAVIN are barricaded in a large room.]

GAVIN: I still can’t believe you can run in those boots.

MELISSA: I’ve had a lot of practice.

(The barricaded door thumps–apparently the SKELETONS are breaking it down with a battering ram.)

GAVIN: Also I can’t believe we’re going to get eaten by skeletons.

MELISSA: I don’t think skeletons eat people. They’re more fueled by a burning hatred for the living.

GAVIN: You know what I mean.

MELISSA: Besides, all we need to do is destroy them all, steal the ram they’re using, and break out of here.

GAVIN: I wish I had your confidence.

MELISSA: (Weakly.) I’ve had lots of practice. (She pulls out her cell phone.) Hey, I’ve got signal!

GAVIN: It’s nice that this crypt has modern amenities.


SARAH: Hello?

MELISSA: Hey, it’s Melissa.

SARAH: Hey! Did you get out of the graveyard?

MELISSA: . . . sort of.

SARAH: Well, if you come home in an hour or two, I’ve decided to do a little barbecue.

MELISSA: Okay, small friend. I’ll be there if I don’t die horribly before then.

SARAH: Great! See you then!

MELISSA: . . . yeah. See you. (She hangs up.)Ethical dilemma for you, Gavin. Is it wrong to promise to do something if you don’t die horribly when you know that dying horribly is in your immediate future?

GAVIN: Probably.

MELISSA: I guess I’ll just have to find a way not to die horribly, then. (She wields her umbrella as a cudgel.)

GAVIN: It’s been good knowing you, Melissa.

MELISSA: You’ve been relatively amusing to keep around.

(The thumping on the door continues until the stone finally shatters. MELISSA and GAVIN let out shapeless battle cries and charge the skeletons, which swarm in through the broken door.)



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