Episode 6: Devilishly Clever

[SCENE I. The offices of the Portland Examiner, late at night. CHARLOTTE is working on something in her office–she seems rather engrossed, and barely notices when MELISSA walks in and leans on the desk.]

MELISSA: What if I told you your boyfriend was probably a Devil-worshipper and/or pawn in some horrible devilish games?

CHARLOTTE: (Clearly not listening.) Sounds interesting. When can you have it on my desk?

MELISSA: Charlotte. (She walks around and leans in front of CHARLOTTE so that she can’t actually see her work.) This is important.

CHARLOTTE: (Sighs and leans back.) Yes, what is it, Melissa? (She sniffs at the air.) This had better not be an attempt to drunkenly seduce me.

MELISSA: (Distracted now.) God, I wish.

CHARLOTTE: Then what is it?

MELISSA: (Struggling to focus.) Right. Your boyfriend. Niiiicholas? He’s, uh. You know that map of new building projects he’s working on?

CHARLOTTE: I’ve seen it a few times. What of it?

(MELISSA grabs a notepad and a pen and sketches an eldritch symbol.)

MELISSA: It’s kind of in the shape of a demonic sigil.

CHARLOTTE: All right. What do you want me to do about that?

MELISSA: I . . . huh. I don’t know. I hadn’t gotten that far.

CHARLOTTE: I could ask him to stop, maybe.

MELISSA: What if he’s doing it on purpose?

(CHARLOTTE rises, causing MELISSA to lose balance, and begins to pace. As she speaks, MELISSA struggles back into a standing position, leaning heavily on the desk.)

CHARLOTTE: You’ve known Nick longer than I have. Maybe you have some insight into this. Do you think that he might be inclined to servitude to the Devil?

MELISSA: (Thinks about it.) Yes, probably.

CHARLOTTE: This would destroy his career, you know.

MELISSA: Yes, probably.

CHARLOTTE: And I suppose you probably want me to ply him for more information.

MELISSA: That seems like the logical solution.

CHARLOTTE: You don’t think that would be a breach of trust on several levels?

MELISSA: I count, hang on. (Thinks about it.) Three levels. Maybe four.

CHARLOTTE: And yet, I have to do this.

MELISSA: Well, no, you could say no.

CHARLOTTE: No, I mean I’m actually contractually obligated to do this. I’m required to use every resource at my disposal to investigate the influence of the Devil within the city of Portland.

MELISSA: That’s . . . weirdly specific.

CHARLOTTE: I’ll talk to him. Maybe he doesn’t know. (Beat.) Come to think of it, how is it that you know what the devil’s sigil looks like?

MELISSA: I am easily bored and very clever, and this town is crawling with weird occult activities. You learn to recognize them eventually.

CHARLOTTE: I see. Well, thank you for coming to me with this. Is he still at the mayor’s office?

MELISSA: Maybe! I’d give him a call. (She sits down at CHARLOTTE’s desk.)

 

CHARLOTTE: I suppose I’ll see you tomorrow.

MELISSA: Probably!

(CHARLOTTE departs.)

 

[SCENE II. GAVIN’s house. He is playing some video game or other when MELISSA walks in and sits down next to him.]

GAVIN: One of these days you’re going to regret your habit of just walking in here.

MELISSA: Hm. Doubt it. Do you still hang out with Gotharella?

GAVIN: Sometimes. Not often. Why?

MELISSA: I need her.

GAVIN: I think she’s out of town.

MELISSA: Damn it! That must be why she’s not answering her phone.

GAVIN: (Checks the time.) Also, it’s about two in the morning. Is there something I can help with?

MELISSA: Maybe. (She shows him the sketched devil sigil from earlier.) Know anything about this?

GAVIN: Uh, it looks kind of spooky.

MELISSA: It’s one of the devil’s sigils. I was hoping Gotharella could tell me more about it.

GAVIN: I think I’ve got a book on demonology, actually.

MELISSA: And you’ve never read it?

GAVIN: It’s one of those books you don’t read. You just keep it around so that you look sophisticated. You know, like Harry Potter.

MELISSA: . . . okay. Well go fetch it.

(GAVIN gets up and walks over to his bookshelf.)

GAVIN: And here we are. Demons and You: A Mortal’s Primer to the Unspeakable Monsters Trying to Enslave Your Immortal Soul.

MELISSA: That’s a hell of a title.

GAVIN: (He grabs it off the bookshelf and sits down next to MELISSA with it.) Damned if I can be bothered to read it, though.

MELISSA: Really Styx in the craw, doesn’t it?

GAVIN: Dis is getting absurd.

MELISSA: Bad demon-puns getting your goat? (She takes the book and begins looking it over.)

GAVIN: I–hang on, is that a pun?

MELISSA: Sure. Satanists are always sacrificing goats, right? (She pokes the cover.) There’s even a goat on the cover.

GAVIN: Hm. I’ll allow it if you’re willing to call it a draw.

MELISSA: Bit of a Faustian bargain, but I’ll accept.

GAVIN: (Rising.) Well, now we’ve got that out of our systems. Would you like some beer to go with your demonology research?

MELISSA: Oh, yes please.

(He returns from the kitchen with two beers, and they begin poring over the text, looking for the sigil in question.)

 

[SCENE III. The mayor’s office. CHARLOTTE is visiting NICHOLAS in his office. He looks troubled.]

NICHOLAS: You’re not here because you just wanted to hang out, are you?

CHARLOTTE: I’m here about the map, Nick.

NICHOLAS: Christ. Did Melissa put you up to this?

CHARLOTTE: She told me about it. I came because it’s the right thing to do.

NICHOLAS: Look, I don’t even know why she got so freaked out by it.

CHARLOTTE: It’s a demonic sigil, Nick.

NICHOLAS: What?

(CHARLOTTE shows him a drawing of the sigil. He doesn’t seem to recognize it.)

CHARLOTTE: And these building projects have been your thing. So I think it’s time you came straight with me.

NICHOLAS: About–

CHARLOTTE: Nicholas.

NICHOLAS: All right, all right. The Devil got me this job. I don’t know what he wanted. But I really am trying to make things better! There’s nothing wrong with schools and libraries! I’m not a bad person!

CHARLOTTE: And you don’t know why, or what, or–

(An ominous draft closes the door behind them. They both turn to look; when they look back at the desk, they find it occupied by THE DEVIL.)

THE DEVIL: Perhaps I can be of some assistance.

NICHOLAS: Did you have to materialize in front of my girlfriend?

THE DEVIL: She’s the reason I’m here, old friend. Do have a seat. There are some things you should probably hear.

(TBC.)

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