Episode 5: Self-Examination

[SCENE I. The mayor’s office. NICHOLAS is working late on a project when he is interrupted by a phone call from MELISSA. She is evidently rather drunk, lying in her bedroom with a glass of wine.]

NICHOLAS: Hello?

MELISSA: Nicholas!

NICHOLAS: I’m busy. What do you want?

MELISSA: I was just bored. Thought of you. You know how it is.

NICHOLAS: Christ.

MELISSA: Did I ever tell you about that time I traveled into the future and made out with myself?

NICHOLAS: What?

MELISSA: Oh, I didn’t? It was amazing! It kind of ruined sex for me though. You know, in a good way. I don’t recommend it. (Beat.) Making out with yourself, I mean. (Beat.) Making out with me is always a good decision.

NICHOLAS: Melissa.

MELISSA: But you know that. Oh, speaking of! I saw your girlfriend today.

NICHOLAS: Is there a point to this?

MELISSA: She offered me a job! I’m no longer a shiftless layabout. I’m . . . what’s the word for people who work at newspapers?

NICHOLAS: A reporter?

MELISSA: I’m a reporter now!

NICHOLAS: Congratulations?

MELISSA: You should be happy for us! Two of Portland’s sexiest ladies teaming up to expose the sinister corruption at the Mayor’s office, etc. etc.

NICHOLAS: I work for the Mayor’s office.

MELISSA: Oh, shit, that’s right! (Beat.) So, Lina owes me twenty bucks if I can score an interview with you for tonight. You free?

NICHOLAS: Will you publish an interview with me even if you don’t actually interview me?

MELISSA: Yes.

NICHOLAS: I’m at my office all night. Just call when you get here.

MELISSA: Great! See you then.

[SCENE II. The mayor’s office. NICHOLAS is meeting SARAH and MELISSA outside.]

NICHOLAS: Oh, good. Both of you.

SARAH: I had to drive. Also, I work for the Examiner now, too. But mostly she made me drive.

NICHOLAS: What?

MELISSA: Yeah, I convinced Charlotte that Sarah should work for us. Mostly we work together on the new comic!

NICHOLAS: Comic?

SARAH: Yes! It’s called Cabaret Spectres. After those Tom Waits ghosts we saw.

MELISSA: She draws. I write. It’s based in the fictional town of Seattle, Oregon.

NICHOLAS: . . . right. So, how do you want to do this interview?

MELISSA: Show me around! I’m sure I’ll come up with a few questions.

NICHOLAS: Christ. All right, come on.

(NICHOLAS takes them through the building, showing them various rooms. Most of them are pretty unremarkable: desks with computers on them. Maybe a map or two on the wall, but nothing exciting. Then he takes them to the Mayor’s office. A map is hanging on the wall with several pins in it. The pins form a strange shape. MELISSA freezes and stares at the shape.)

NICHOLAS: So, this is Mayor Hall’s office. Where all the magic happens, I guess. Uh, don’t write that down. That’s terrible.

SARAH: So is it true that nobody who works in politics has ever had fun in their lives?

NICHOLAS: I–what? No. That isn’t true.

MELISSA: (Distracted.) What’s this a map of?

NICHOLAS: Oh, that? That’s just some building projects we’ve got planned. They’re finally all approved! Groundbreaking ceremonies on the first one is next week, actually, and we’d be grateful if the Examiner could–

MELISSA: Buildings? Of what?

NICHOLAS: (Indicating various points on the map.) Well, that’s the new elementary school, that’s a new parks and rec building, that’s–

MELISSA: This is wrong. This is all wrong.

NICHOLAS: I know you’re not a big fan of Mayor Hall’s proposals, but–

MELISSA: Christ, turn off the political spokesman for a minute. Look at that map! Really look at it.

NICHOLAS: What about it?

MELISSA: Does that shape remind you of anything?

NICHOLAS: What? No. Why would it?

MELISSA: Right, right. Forget I asked. It’s just the, uh, drugs, of which I have done many tonight.

SARAH: But you haven’t–(MELISSA kicks her in the shin.) I mean, yes, I’ve been babysitting her all night. She’s been surprisingly lucid since we got here but it’s apparently fading. That’s more common than you’d think.

NICHOLAS: . . . right.

MELISSA: Did you have a hand in this project?

NICHOLAS: I found most of the building sites myself, actually. Seems I have a knack for it.

MELISSA: (In a hurry to get out.) Right. So! I think I’ve got all I came here for.

NICHOLAS: What, no trolling questions?

MELISSA: (Clearly feeling uneasy.) Not tonight. You know how it is. Freaking out from the copious amounts of drugs.

NICHOLAS: You don’t seem that drugged out. You seem like maybe you’ve had a few drinks. And like something just scared the shit out of you. (He lowers his voice.) Is this place haunted? Did you see a ghost? I’ve always thought this place must be haunted.

MELISSA: (In growing panic.) Yes, that must be it! Sarah, get me the fuck out of here.

SARAH: I’ve really got to get her home, Nick.

NICHOLAS: . . . of course. You two take care.

SARAH: We’ll give our regards to Charlotte!

(MELISSA and SARAH depart in haste. NICHOLAS watches them go, clearly confused.)

[SCENE III. MELISSA and SARAH’s house. MELISSA is lying on her back on the couch, very much in the ‘I’m at the psychiatrist’s office’ pose. SARAH, nearby, is in a very ‘I am the psychiatrist’ pose.]

MELISSA: Sarah, did you see that map?

SARAH: It had some pins in it. Are you afraid of pins? Did I miss this about you?

MELISSA: No, I–

SARAH: Oh my God, didn’t I give you a little map with pins in it once? You should have said something!

MELISSA: Sarah–

SARAH: And I keep linking you to Pinterest! I’m a terrible friend! I’m so sorry.

MELISSA: I’m not afraid of pins.

SARAH: . . . oh.

MELISSA: That was a demonic sigil, though.

SARAH: Oh.

MELISSA: The Devil is at work here. I think he’s got control of Nick somehow.

SARAH: I wonder when that happened.

MELISSA: We can’t just idly wonder anymore, Sarah. We’re reporters! We report things. If the Mayor’s office is part of some devil plot to . . . draw a meaningless sigil on Portland, we have to find out what’s happening!

SARAH: And stop it?

MELISSA: Maybe? Do reporters do anything or do they just sort of hang out and talk about what they saw?

SARAH: Well, Superman is a reporter and he saves the day all the time.

MELISSA: Clark Kent is a reporter. Superman is . . . is . . .

SARAH: They’re the same person. He’s a reporter. He’s a reporter who’s kind of a dick all the time.

MELISSA: Fine. So if the opportunity presents itself, we can save the day.

SARAH: So, what’s our first move?

MELISSA: I have no idea.

(TBC.)

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