Episode 21: The Bony King of Nowhere

[SCENE I. Deep within the crypt. GAVIN and MELISSA are making a desperate attempt to fight their way out through a horde of SKELETONS. Somehow they seem to be making headway until MELISSA slips, twists her ankle, and falls to the ground. GAVIN’s momentum breaks as he turns to help her, but there are too many skeletons in the way.]

MELISSA: Get out of here, Gavin! And tell Sarah–

GAVIN: I can’t leave you like this!

MELISSA: Tell Sarah to make Lina start paying rent.

(GAVIN continues trying to make his way towards the exit. The SKELETONS close in around MELISSA, reaching out for her. She closes her eyes and cringes. After a few moments of not dying, she opens one eye to see if she’s still alive. It becomes apparent that the skeletons are offering to help her to her feet. She tentatively takes a bony hand and stands up, tries to walk, and stumbles again as she tries her bad ankle. This time she is caught by a skeleton.)

MELISSA: Gavin!

(GAVIN turns to look at her and gives her a puzzled look.)

GAVIN: Aren’t you supposed to be dead?

MELISSA: Maybe I’m a zombie now! Or–look, stop escaping and come with me. They might eat me without someone to hold them back.

GAVIN: I thought you said skeletons don’t eat people.

MELISSA: Shut up! Also help me walk. I’m not going to use a skeleton as a crutch.

(GAVIN sighs and lets MELISSA lean on him. They follow the SKELETONS through the crypts.)

GAVIN: So do you know why the skeletons are trying to befriend you?

MELISSA: I usually just assume it’s because I’m sexy and everyone loves me.

GAVIN: I . . . huh. I think I’m going to stop asking you questions.

(MELISSA looks smug. They proceed in silence to something like a very austere throne room–all sullen grey stone, with a large granite throne on which sits the SKELETAL KING. The SKELETONS escorting MELISSA and GAVIN all fall on their knees. GAVIN and MELISSA stand there awkwardly.)

GAVIN: Do you think he wants us to kneel?

MELISSA: Unless you have a crutch handy–

KING: No need, my friends, no need. It is how they show their loyalty. I hope you aren’t hurt?

MELISSA: Actually, I–

GAVIN: Nothing she won’t recover from. (This earns a sharp glare from MELISSA.)

MELISSA: Maybe you could have sent less terrifying, uh, messengers.

KING: Ah, but I am stuck down here, with only my skeletal friends as companions. And you may have noticed, they aren’t very talkative.

MELISSA: I figured maybe they were just afraid of talking to me. Most people are.

GAVIN: So why are we here?

KING: I require two live humans to assist me with the rituals I am preparing. If they are successful, I can break free of this prison and put an end to these centuries of loneliness.

MELISSA: And supposing we’re not interested?

(Long pause.)

KING: Why on earth would you be so cruel?

MELISSA: Right.

GAVIN: So, tell us about these rituals.

KING: Mostly you’ll be standing around and chanting. Then when the portal has opened you’ll go through to make sure that everything is all right.

MELISSA: Portal?

KING: Oh yes. The ritual opens a portal into the world outside. Once you’re outside you’ll just come back here and let me know that it worked. If you don’t come back I’ll just assume the worst.

GAVIN: I’m sure it won’t come to that. May I ask how you got us here in the first place?

KING: Just a little ritual that gently nudges the two nearest minds to wander in this direction.

GAVIN: So why us?

KING: Dumb luck, I suppose. The magic only works once every hundred years. You just happened to be walking and distracted at the time.

MELISSA: Distracted?

KING: Oh yes! It doesn’t work on people who are paying attention.

(MELISSA and GAVIN glare at one another, but keep silent.)

KING: Anyway! I’ve prepared rooms for you. You may rest while I prepare the ritual. My, ah, companions will escort you there.

(Some SKELETONS lead GAVIN and MELISSA out of the throne room.)

 

[SCENE II. A sepulchral bedroom. MELISSA is sitting on the bed, massaging her ankle. GAVIN walks in, knocking on the stony threshold as he approaches.]

GAVIN: May I come in?

MELISSA: Might as well. If I have to walk anywhere I’m going to need you as a crutch.

GAVIN: You know, I bet the skeleton king has something you could use.

MELISSA: Pass.

GAVIN: I won’t always be around to help, you know.

MELISSA: You will as long as we’re stuck here.

GAVIN: Which won’t be long. I think this guy is just expecting us to come back when we get out through the portal.

MELISSA: It’s almost a shame taking advantage of him, really. He seems reasonably nice.

GAVIN: Reasonably nice?

MELISSA: Well, apart from kidnapping us to use as fodder for his almost certainly unspeakably horrible rituals, he’s been quite friendly.

GAVIN: Well, once we go through the portal we aren’t coming back.

MELISSA: Oh, obviously. I said it was almost a shame, not that it was one. (Beat.) You don’t suppose we’re going to die horribly, our fragile mortal frames suffused with terrible eldritch energies?

GAVIN: Well, probably not. (Beat.) Though I mean, what’s the alternative?

MELISSA: We could jump the fence. I mean, I didn’t want to earlier because I was worried about twisting my ankle or something, which, too late for that.

(Some SKELETONS appear in the door and stare at them. One of them makes a beckoning gesture. GAVIN gets up and starts to leave, but is stopped when MELISSA clears her throat expectantly. He sighs and helps her to her feet and lets her lean on him as they follow after.)

 

[SCENE III. The throne room. There is a magic circle, some dribbly candles, etc. on the floor. MELISSA and GAVIN have some cultish robes, and are chanting halfheartedly along with the SKELETON KING, standing outside of the circle. Eventually the floor within the circle is replaced with portal glowing a sickly rainbow sheen, like oil on the sidewalk.]

KING: Well, this is it, my friends! Just step through the portal and report back to me, and I will finally be free!

MELISSA: (Aside.) Is it just me, or did he get the date wrong?

GAVIN: (Aside.) I’m sure it had eldritch significance.

MELISSA: (Aside.) He said it was 2013!

GAVIN: (Aside.) That’s probably a prime number or something. Very occult.

KING: I don’t have all day. (Beat.) Well, technically I have all of eternity, but–

MELISSA: All right, all right. (She steps forward, apparently forgetting about her ankle, slips, and falls through the portal. GAVIN, to his credit, looks concerned as he follows after. There is a long silence after as the SKELETON KING watches.)

KING: Oh, shoot! I forgot to tell them how to get back here. (Sighs.) I guess there’s always the next century.

 

[SCENE IV. A back alley somewhere in downtown Portland. MELISSA and GAVIN fall to the pavement unceremoniously, and cautiously get up and make for the alley’s exit. GAVIN suddenly pulls them both back, sending MELISSA reeling into the wall.]

MELISSA: Christ, what is your problem?

GAVIN: That’s you out there!

(MELISSA peers out of the alley. Sure enough, she sees a version of herself, dressed in a futuristic silvery jumpsuit, is walking along with a similarly-clad SARAH.)

MELISSA: Damn, I look good in the future. (She hobbles out from cover.)

GAVIN: I don’t think that’s advisable!

MELISSA: I trust me a hell of a lot more than I trust you! (Raising her voice.) Sarah! Melissa!

(FUTURE MELISSA and FUTURE SARAH both turn back and see PAST MELISSA approaching. After a few brief words they assist PAST MELISSA along. GAVIN watches them go with a sigh, and pulls out his cell phone.)

GAVIN: Hey, it’s Gavin. I need your help. I think the future of reality might be at stake. Give me a call when you get this.

(He hangs up the phone and walks off through the streets of Portland.)

(Fin.)

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