[SCENE I. A haunted house. MELISSA, SARAH, and MELINA are going through a haunted house. It features very realistic-looking spiderwebs, and generally looks like it has been abandoned for many years. Some spooky statues and architecture complete the look. Rather than the typical scares of people jumping out, the ambiance is subtle. Objects seem to shift in the corner of one’s eye, and there are some faint, ghostly images and strange, haunting music playing. SARAH and MELINA seem to be getting into the spirit; MELISSA looks incredibly bored. As they reach the end, a GHOST appears in a blood-stained wedding dress and passes through them. SARAH screams; she and MELINA break into a run. MELISSA saunters after slowly. After a while they are standing just outside, looking panicked.]
MELINA: Jesus fuck!
SARAH: I can’t decide if that was awesome or genuinely frightening.
MELINA: Can’t it be both?
SARAH: Did you have fun, Melissa?
(MELISSA, behind them, folds her arms and yawns.)
SARAH: Are you even capable of having fun?
(MELISSA sighs theatrically.)
LINA: She’s a jaded realist now, Sarah.
(MELISSA rolls her eyes and walks over to a corner of the garden and begins pounding on the wall there.)
LINA: And she has also gone insane.
(After a moment, a hidden door in the wall opens and the WIZARD emerges.)
WIZARD: Ah, I should have guessed it was you. Come in, quickly!
(They head inside. Within, there is an elaborate set of screens displaying the haunted house, and some evidence that arcane rituals are being performed.)
WIZARD: I meant to let you know that you would probably not find the haunted house particularly enjoyable, but–
SARAH: This is yours?
WIZARD: Well, yes. Just some minor illusions to–
SARAH: It was kind of awesome.
WIZARD: Well, thank you. I still think of Portland as my home in this world, so I thought I’d give something back.
LINA: What do you know about blood oaths?
WIZARD: Why do you ask?
LINA: My beautiful and intelligent sister has apparently taken a blood oath to say nothing until sunrise, and now she can’t talk.
WIZARD: Oh dear.
LINA: And as much as I am obligated to love her because she is genetically identical to me, Melissa Xenakis is not cut out to be a mime.
(MELISSA flips LINA off.)
SARAH: I think she’d be okay with a bit of practice.
WIZARD: I expect it has something to do with the other reason I am back in Portland.
SARAH: So you’re not just some kind of wizard Santa Claus for Halloween?
LINA: Sandy Claws. I’m pretty sure the title is Sandy Claws.
SARAH: You never struck me as a Burton fangirl.
LINA: I think I still have a Jack Skellington hoodie.
WIZARD: (Clears his throat.) To answer your question, no, my motives are not entirely altruistic. I detected the arrival of some . . . unusual occult energies earlier this month.
LINA: Like a cult?
SARAH: Or witches?
LINA: Or a cult of witches?
WIZARD: . . . like a cult of witches, yes.
(MELISSA makes an ‘I knew it!’ gesture.)
WIZARD: I was hoping they might be lured here by the energy my magic is giving off, but so far, they have been elusive.
SARAH: Do you want help? Do you guys want to help?
LINA: Sure, why the hell not?
(MELISSA nods enthusiastically.)
WIZARD: Right now, we wait. There is still some time yet before Halloween. But if nothing else I could use some company while I wait.
LINA: I don’t think we had any other plans.
(The WIZARD conjures up some comfortable chairs, and they all sit down.)
[SCENE II. The haunted house control room, later.]
SARAH: So this witch cult is more powerful than you?
WIZARD: Not more powerful, just different.
SARAH: Also isn’t your weird potion supposed to protect Melissa from mind control?
WIZARD: Well, it wouldn’t protect her against swearing blood oaths. And it doesn’t really protect against, say, foreign thoughts. It just prevents them from taking hold. Perhaps in the right frame of mind–hang on, I think the witches are here.
(He indicates one of the screens, which is flashing. A trio of green WITCHES arrive and enter.)
WIZARD: Now, I can probably trap them with illusions, but I can’t do anything to harm them. There are rules.
LINA: Any chance you can make them illusions that only they can see?
WIZARD: Unlikely. But–
(MELISSA stands up and puts on her coat.)
WIZARD: I think maybe you have a guide.
SARAH: Oh boy, we can all hold hands and she can lead us through the labyrinth! She’s like our blind seer, except she’s not blind.
WIZARD: Now, once you get there, you need to catch them in this net. (He holds out a net.)
SARAH: Is it a magic net?
WIZARD: No, it’s just a normal net. All witches are powerless against nets.
WIZARD: And when captured and bound, a witch must answer truthfully any question asked of her three times, if three different people ask the question.
LINA: You’re making this up.
WIZARD: Would that I were. Go now. The fate of Portland might depend on it.
(They depart the control room.)
[SCENE III. The haunted house. It now appears to be a labyrinth of shifting walls; with MELISSA navigating, the trio have reached the heart of the labyrinth, where the WITCHES are trapped. As they notice the intruders, they begin trying to cast a spell, but MELINA throws the net, and the WITCHES cry out in anguish as they are captured.]
MELINA: That was easy.
(The labyrinth fades away, and the WIZARD hurries inside.)
WIZARD: Excellent work, ladies. Just take them back to the control room. There are questions that need answering.
(The WITCHES do not resist as they are led out of the haunted house and into the hidden control room. As they enter the control room and the door closes behind them, a heavy rain begins to fall. TBC.)