Episode 18: Carving A Niche

[SCENE I. MELISSA and SARAH’s house. SARAH and MELINA are eating breakfast when the DOPPELGANGER of Melissa makes her way downstairs, looking bright and cheerful.]

LINA: Since when does my sister look so happy to be awake at eight in the morning?

DOPPELGANGER: I’m turning over a new leaf!

LINA: Right, you said.

DOPPELGANGER: Things are going to be different around here.

SARAH: Are they so different you’re not going to the party tonight?

DOPPELGANGER: Party?

SARAH: Gavin’s Halloween party. The one he does every year.

DOPPELGANGER: Oh, the party. Yes. Of course. I just assumed it was so obvious I was going that, you know, you must have meant a different one because you wouldn’t have bothered asking otherwise.

SARAH: Well, let me know if you need help with your costume.

DOPPELGANGER: Have no fear, little friend. Everything will work out perfectly. (She pauses dramatically.) I won’t be home for most of today because I have a date with Nick. Before the party. Because we’re going together.

LINA: That’s great, Mel. Sarah and I were just going to carve some pumpkins today.

DOPPELGANGER: Well, yes. I will see you tonight. At the party. That I am going to, because I knew about it all along. (She departs.)

LINA: They just don’t make evil spirits like they used to.

SARAH: It’s kind of cute though, isn’t it?

LINA: I’m too busy feeling offended it thinks it can pass as Melissa.

SARAH: . . . yeah, that is kind of disappointing. I was hoping for something clever.

 

[SCENE II. JEREMY’s lab. MELISSA is sleeping on a mysteriously comfortable-looking couch when JEREMY wakes her.]

JEREMY: You up?

MELISSA: I am now. What do you want?

JEREMY: I made some coffee?

MELISSA: (Sighs.) You’re forgiven, for now. (She sits up.) Any news?

JEREMY: Uh, no. (He hands her a cup of coffee.) Unless you would like to carve some pumpkins. I picked a couple up. I was going to head down to, uh, your place before Gavin’s party, but–

MELISSA: Sure, it’ll give me something to do. (She hits a remote, and a little television screen turns on. It shows a first-person view of SARAH, carving a pumpkin opposite MELINA.) This is not exactly the in-depth investigation I dreamed of.

JEREMY: Well, we’re waiting for the party, remember?

MELISSA: Yes, but I’m trapped here and I hate waiting. Can’t you do some science or something?

JEREMY: I don’t think that’s how it works.

(A long pause.)

MELISSA: On the plus side, I don’t have to worry about going to a Halloween party on a Thursday. That’s always weird.

JEREMY: It’s Wednesday.

MELISSA: Is it? Feels like Thursday.

JEREMY: So, do you want me to stay here? I mean, you’re the one who invited me to your place, only–

MELISSA: Go on. I’ll entertain myself with Sarah-vision here.

JEREMY: Right. See you around.

(He departs. MELISSA sighs and looks forlornly into the pumpkin on her lap.)

 

[SCENE III. GAVIN’s house, that night. SARAH and MELINA arrive with pumpkins in tow. SARAH is dressed in very Victorian men’s evening dress, complete with a cane and top hat. MELINA has adopted the bomber jacket, white scarf, and goggles of a World War II-era fighter pilot. Outside, they encounter NICHOLAS and the DOPPELGANGER of Melissa. NICHOLAS wears the robe of a Caesar; the DOPPELGANGER has dressed in wicked witch-style makeup, complete with ruby red slippers.]

LINA: Well, look who it is.

NICHOLAS: Oh, hey.

DOPPELGANGER: What are those? (She indicates the pumpkins.)

LINA: Uh, it’s just a thing that I doodle. (She holds up a pumpkin which has a simplistic distraught-looking face on it.)

SARAH: It’s got spiders for eyes! (Her pumpkin is a traditional, albeit exceptionally elaborate, jack-o-lantern face, with eyes made of intricately carved spiders.)

DOPPELGANGER: No, I mean, what are they?

SARAH: . . . pumpkins? Is this a trick question?

DOPPELGANGER: I just–

NICHOLAS: Why don’t you head inside, Melissa? Let Gavin know we’re here. I just realized I forgot something in the car.

DOPPELGANGER: Oh, of course. (She heads inside.)

NICHOLAS: What did you do to her?

LINA: I didn’t do anything to her.

NICHOLAS: Well, that’s not–

LINA: It’s not Melissa. It’s like a shadow double or something.

SARAH: We thought maybe you had fallen for her spell.

NICHOLAS: Yeah, no. I’m not stupid.

LINA: Then why are you hanging out with her if you knew it was an evil shadow double or something?

NICHOLAS: Well, that’s the thing. I don’t think she’s actually evil. She’s actually really nice, and well-meaning, and polite, and not a horrible person. Whereas Melissa is–

LINA: All right, I get it.

NICHOLAS: So the point is if either of them is an evil double . . .

LINA: Is it the one whose sister is going to kick your ass if you keep talking shit?

NICHOLAS: Hey, I’m just–

SARAH: Lina, let’s go inside and see if there’s candles.

LINA: You’re spared for now, Hayes. Don’t expect it to last.

(SARAH and LINA leave the pumpkins on the porch in strategic locations and walk inside. They find GAVIN talking to the DOPPELGANGER.)

GAVIN: I think they’re supposed to ward off evil spirits or something.

DOPPELGANGER: So why do we have them here? I didn’t think evil spirits were much of a problem anymore.

GAVIN: This is Portland. But it’s just a fun tradition, you know?

SARAH: Talking about jack-o-lanterns?

GAVIN: Ah, yes, I expected you might bring some by. (He produces some candles and a lighter.) And Sarah’s work has never been anything less than exquisite. This way! (He leads them outside. The DOPPELGANGER follows at a distance. Upon their arrival outside, GAVIN inspects the jack-o-lanterns.) You’ve really outdone yourself this year, Sarah.

LINA: She outdoes herself every year. It’s not fair that she’s actually good at this shit.

SARAH: I’m sure you’ll find something you’re good at, Lina. (She takes the candles and lights them, then carefully sets them in each pumpkin.)

GAVIN: And now it looks like a party. My thanks, ladies. (They stand to admire them for a while longer before heading back inside. The DOPPELGANGER seems hesitant.) Something wrong, Melissa?

DOPPELGANGER: Oh, it’s nothing. (She shakes her head as if to dislodge a thought and walks inside. As soon as she passes the pumpkins she screams and collapses to the ground, and begins to evaporate into a thick black smoke.) I’m melting, I’m melting! (Eventually she is gone entirely, leaving nothing but the witch’s robes and the ruby red slippers on the ground.)

SARAH: Well, that was . . .

LINA: Implausible?

SARAH: I was going to say unexpected.

GAVIN: Uh, did I–

LINA: Nothing you need to worry about, Gav.

SARAH: She really goes all-out on her costumes.

GAVIN: (Shakes his head.) You people.

(They continue inside together. Fin.)

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