Episode 16: Witch Hunt

[SCENE I. A montage of interrogation. Three WITCHES are bound, the WIZARD is performing some magic rituals. There is the traditional single chair in a dark room with a bright light, with, at different intervals, SARAH, MELINA, and the WIZARD asking them questions. MELISSA sits in the background looking vaguely uneasy. Nobody is paying her much attention. Eventually the interrogation is finished, and all four of them stand outside.]

WIZARD: This is far worse than I thought.

LINA: I’m still kind of annoyed there’s more than three of them. There’s supposed to be three witches.

SARAH: I don’t think that’s how it works, Lina.

LINA: Still. They said they had designs on the highest offices in the city. There could be witches anywhere.

WIZARD: I should just caution you that, though the witches were compelled to answer truthfully, their answers may be deceiving. They are only truthful in the literal sense.

LINA: I’m not sure how deceptive a witch invasion of Portland could be.

WIZARD: Just be cautious, my friend.

SARAH: Should we let someone know? I could write something to Charlotte. I bet she’d run a last-minute addition to tomorrow’s paper.

(MELISSA begins making ‘no, don’t do that’ gestures.)

SARAH: Why not?

(MELISSA gives a blank glare.)

LINA: She probably just wants to write it herself. I say fuck her. This is important.

(MELISSA gestures frantically.)

LINA: Listen. Melissa. We have the chance to expose something before it has a chance to take root. We don’t have time to wait for you to write something. You can write the full expose or something tomorrow.

(MELISSA shakes her head and continues making frantic, incomprehensible gestures.)

LINA: Christ, sunrise can’t come soon enough, huh? I really hate to see you like this. (To SARAH.) I don’t think I’ve seen her this upset in years.

SARAH: I know. (She gives MELISSA a hug. MELISSA goes stiff for a moment, then sighs and sags, looking defeated.) It’ll all be over soon!

LINA: On the plus side, now we can tell Nick Hayes that there was an entire night where Lissa didn’t say a word and he wasn’t even there to enjoy it.

(MELISSA punches LINA in the arm, hard. They head off into the night. The WIZARD returns to his lab, looking troubled.)

 

[SCENE II. SARAH’s bedroom. She is apparently asleep, and the light of the dawn is just breaking through the window. Abruptly, the door opens and MELISSA runs in, wrapped in a blanket, and jumps on the bed.]

MELISSA: Sarah! Wake up!

SARAH: (Rolling over and opening an eye.) Couldn’t you have waited a few hours to tell me you could talk again?

MELISSA: What? That’s not what–Christ, I am never swearing a blood oath again.

SARAH: Are you prepared to swear a blood oath not to?

MELISSA: Well, I–damn it, shut up, not what I came here for.

SARAH: (Rolls over again and closes her eyes.) If you’re here to seduce me, I’m not interested.

MELISSA: We have to stop that article you sent out.

SARAH: Was it that bad?

(MELISSA gets up and begins going through SARAH’s dresser, and throws some clothes at her.)

MELISSA: Get dressed. We have to go.

SARAH: Can’t you–

MELISSA: I tried calling. Charlotte’s not picking up.

SARAH: But why–

MELISSA: Just trust me! (She departs the room in a hurry.)

SARAH: “Just trust me.” The motto of all crazy people, ever. (She sighs and gets out of bed and starts getting dressed.)

 

[SCENE III. The offices of the Portland Examiner. CHARLOTTE is in the press room watching the last of the day’s papers get printed as MELISSA and SARAH arrive. MELISSA looks in a rush; her hair is in disarray and she looks generally the worse for wear. SARAH looks vaguely confused, but otherwise appears bright and alert as ever.]

CHARLOTTE: Ah, good morning!

MELISSA: (Dejected.) I take it that’s today’s paper you’re printing.

CHARLOTTE: Yes, we had to run it a bit late to work in the last-minute addition of the witch advisory.

MELISSA: How much would it cost to get you to burn all of them?

CHARLOTTE: Why would I do that?

MELISSA: Because I’m pretty?

SARAH: She’s been acting crazy all morning.

CHARLOTTE: Crazy?

SARAH: Well, crazier.

CHARLOTTE: Fair enough. Why do you think–

MELISSA: Still here. (Beat.) Listen. This article is just going to start a witch hunt. That’s exactly what the witches want.

(They both give her a blank stare.)

MELISSA: Christ. Listen, this is going to go out to the mayor’s office, and he’s going to send out his jackbooted thugs to–

(Some JACKBOOTED THUGS walk in through the door, followed by a MAN IN BLACK.)

MIB: Melissa Xenakis?

MELISSA: Who’s she?

MIB: Don’t play dumb, Xenakis. We’ve got a file on you longer than the summer solstice at the equator. (He holds out a manila envelope.) This is a subpoena. You are ordered to appear before the Portland Grand Jury on Witches today in one hour. (He turns to depart.) I trust you know what happens to dissenters.

MELISSA: Let me guess. Does it involve jackboots?

(The MAN IN BLACK and his JACKBOOTED THUGS depart.)

CHARLOTTE: Sometimes I feel like perhaps my boyfriend should not have access to jackbooted thugs and grand juries.

MELISSA: He needs constant abuse to keep him in check. Give him a taste of power and he’ll go mad and lash out at random.

CHARLOTTE: Somehow I don’t think he is targeting you at random. Still, jackbooted thugs are a dealbreaker for me. What’s the plan?

MELISSA: Well, the witches must have known that the grand jury was coming. I need you to call the wizard.

CHARLOTTE: You know a wizard?

SARAH: We do! He’s the best.

MELISSA: Make sure he’s at the grand jury. See if you can scare up a protest so they won’t notice.

CHARLOTTE: Wizards Against Witch Hunts?

SARAH: Yess. Charlotte, I am inviting you back to our house to pick from my wizard hat collection.

MELISSA: You have a wizard hat collection?

SARAH: Good luck at the grand jury! Try not to get burned at the stake!

MELISSA: You always know just what to say.

 

[SCENE IV. The Portland Courthouse. A small gathering of people in wizard hats and robes waits outside, with signs saying ‘No Witch Hunts For Witches’ and ‘Witches Are People Too.’ They offer a cheer of support as MELISSA walks by and enters the courthouse; she still looks a little ragged. She is shown into the courtroom and given a seat. A great deal of MEN IN BLACK stand around, looking very official. At about this point the JURY files in; each juror is green-skinned and covered in warts. The BAILIFF announces the arrival of the JUDGE, who is also clearly a witch in a judge’s wig.]

MELISSA: Well, that explains . . . something, probably. (She begins texting the WIZARD as unobtrusively as possible.)

BAILIFF: You may be seated. Court is now in session.

JUDGE: Prosecutor, you may call your first witness.

PROSECUTOR: The prosecution calls Melissa Xenakis to the stand.

(MELISSA sighs and makes her way to the stand, and sits under the scrutinizing gaze of the witch jury.)

PROSECUTOR: Miss Xenakis, is it true that you were in the presence of witches for the entirety of last night?

MELISSA: Look, Melina is kind of a hag sometimes, but that doesn’t make her a witch. I think that’s unfair.

PROSECUTOR: I would like to state for the record that the witness is being blatantly disrespectful of this sacred institution.

MELISSA: I would like to state for the record that the judge and jury are entirely comprised of witches.

JUDGE: The executioner is, too, but he isn’t here.

MELISSA: Oh, that’s good. I was worried there wouldn’t be an executioner. (Her cell phone beeps; she glances at the screen.)

JUDGE: (Clears throat.) Melissa Xenakis, you stand accused of being a horrible witch. If you are found guilty, you may be burned at the stake. How do you plead?

MELISSA: Bored, mostly.

JUDGE: Bored?

MELISSA: That’s a valid plea, right? I only took a few law classes because I thought it would be fun but I seem to remember a few pleas of boredom on the books, and–

(A giant net materializes in the courtroom and falls on the courtroom. The PROTESTERS from outside hurry in, led by the WIZARD, CHARLOTTE, and SARAH, all of whom are dressed in wizard hats and robes. They help extricate MELISSA from the net and stand surveying the damage.)

WIZARD: I believe that is all of them.

MELISSA: Did they just need an excuse to gather together?

WIZARD: I believe the intention was to sacrifice you as part of some sinister occult ritual.

CHARLOTTE: Why her, though?

MELISSA: Oh, I can think of a number of reasons.

WIZARD: As can I.

SARAH: Me too.

CHARLOTTE: And how did they manage to get all these witches on the jury?

MELISSA: Well, grand juries are pretty corrupt anyway. And Nick is easily intimidated by generic-looking G-men. So . . .

CHARLOTTE: Yes, he has believed that he is going to lose his job as acting mayor any day now for several months. And I do remember seeing a number of . . . angry men in black suits in the past week or so. I thought it was a little odd.

MELISSA: So what now?

CHARLOTTE: Well, I have to print it. And I think I will have to find a boyfriend who doesn’t employ jackbooted thugs.

MELISSA: You set your standards unachievably high. I think I’m the only person in Portland who doesn’t have any jackboots to her name.

(As they are talking, the various wizard-protesters, led by the WIZARD, gather up the net and drag the WITCHES out of the courthouse.)

CHARLOTTE: I refuse to settle for less than perfection. (She pulls out a notepad.) Go ahead and take today off. You look terrible. (She heads off to begin interviewing people standing around.)

MELISSA: Ice cold, Charlotte. Ice cold.

(SARAH wordlessly puts her wizard hat on MELISSA’s head.) 

MELISSA: Come on, I’ll drive you home.

(They walk out of the courthouse. In the background, a WITCH can be seen leaving the bathrooms, grinning devilishly at the camera, and flying off on a broomstick. Fin.)

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