Episode 23: The Raven

[SCENE I. A dreary midnight at the house of NICHOLAS Hayes. He is pondering, looking like he’s barely keeping himself awake, over some old books. Just as he is about to nod off, there’s a tapping sound, like someone knocking at the door. NICHOLAS starts awake.]

NICHOLAS: Someone there?

(He looks around. There is a fire burning in the fireplace, though it is dying, casting ghostly shadows on the floor. It looks pretty bleak outside. The curtains rustle uncertainly, and as he looks around he seems to be growing increasingly apprehensive. He rises to his feet as if to confront some unknown monster.)

NICHOLAS: It’s just someone at the door. Calm the fuck down. (He approaches the door.) Coming, sorry, I was falling asleep. Wasn’t sure I heard you! (He opens the door. Outside there is only the darkness and the sound of the rain. He stares into the night, clearly more than a little frightened.) . . . Melissa? 

(There is no response, except a faint echo. He turns back inside, but before he can begin pacing, the tapping happens once again, this time quite a bit louder.) 

NICHOLAS: Must be just the wind, I guess? Let’s go see what it is.

(He flings open the window. With many a flirt and flutter, a stately RAVEN enters the room. It ignores all pleasantries and flies over to a little statue of Athena above the door and perches and sits and stares at NICHOLAS gravely with its beady little raven eyes.)

NICHOLAS: (Smirks.) . . . all right. You got a name?

RAVEN: Nope.

NICHOLAS: This is so weird. (Staring at the bird for a long while.) Of course, you’ll be gone tomorrow.

RAVEN: Nope.

NICHOLAS: (A little startled at this.) If I had a raven I would train it to say something slightly cooler than that.

(He shakes his head and smirks, and moves his chair closer so he can better sit and watch the raven. It continues to stare at him with eyes burning like hellfire.)

NICHOLAS: Melissa would have thought this was hilarious. (His mood darkens.) I’m onto your game, raven. Couldn’t you just let me forget about her for one night?

RAVEN: Nope.

NICHOLAS: So you’re just going to torture me forever? Great. Is anything good ever going to happen to me again?

RAVEN: Nope.

NICHOLAS: Is Melissa ever going to stop hating me?

RAVEN: Nope.

NICHOLAS: All right, I’m done with you. You can fuck right off. (He points at the window.) How’s about you get out of my house?

RAVEN: Nope.

(They stand staring at one another for a while. NICHOLAS shakes his head and goes back to reading. The RAVEN’s shadow is still sitting on the bust of Athena, staring at him like a devil-bird. After a few moments the door opens and KELLY comes in. NICHOLAS just about jumps out of his skin.)

NICHOLAS: Jesus Christ, don’t you knock?

KELLY: So sorry I interrupted your boring old history books. I need to get some stuff from my old room. (Beat.) You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.

(NICHOLAS points at the RAVEN. She turns to look at it.)

KELLY: . . . huh. Any idea where it came from?

NICHOLAS: The window. It’s just sitting there staring at me.

KELLY: That’s weird.

NICHOLAS: It won’t tell me why it’s here, either. (To the bird.) Will you, you useless fucker?

RAVEN: Nope.

KELLY: Have you offended anyone of a particularly gothy persuasion recently?

NICHOLAS: I figured maybe Melissa sent it. Or had Celeste send it or whatever.

KELLY: I don’t think either of them are particularly offended at you at the moment. You did try to save Melissa from Christmas, after all.

NICHOLAS: It’s still the most likely thing.

KELLY: Whatever. Since you’re bored and alone and I’ve got nothing going on tonight, you want to buy me dinner? Get away from your new friend?

NICHOLAS: . . . I suppose. Let me get my coat. (He gets up and, a few steps away from his chair, suddenly stops.) Okay, I find myself unable to move.

KELLY: Look, if you don’t want to–

NICHOLAS: No, I mean it. It’s like my muscles just won’t let me leave this fucking bird’s shadow.

KELLY: Huh. (She tries leaving the room, and has no particular issue with it.) Good news, ish! It only wants you.

NICHOLAS: Don’t you have anything better to do, bird?

RAVEN: Nope.

KELLY: How about board games? You’ve always been at least moderately positive towards board games.

NICHOLAS: All I’ve got’s a Go board.

KELLY: That works. Same place as they used to be?

NICHOLAS: Yeah.

(She goes and returns with a card table and a roll-up Go board and some velvet pouches of stones. They sit down and play, mostly in silence, for some time.)

KELLY: You don’t happen to have any, like, steak or anything laying around, do you?

NICHOLAS: No, you can’t just help yourself to my food because I am stuck in the shadow of some demonic carrion bird.

KELLY: How little you trust. (She places a stone.) I was going to try to lure your friend away.

NICHOLAS: Oh. I guess that might work. There’s some ground beef in the freezer.

KELLY: Great.

(She withdraws for several moments and returns with some ground beef. The RAVEN turns up its beak when she offers some to it. She leaves a bit next to the statue and it is ignored.)

KELLY: All right, plan B. (She leaves and returns with a broom, then chases the raven off the statue and herds it towards the open window. It flutters outside with a squawk and she slams the window shut.) Free again, dear brother?

(NICHOLAS rises and paces around a bit.)

NICHOLAS: Apparently. You still hungry?

KELLY: If you’re buying.

(They depart. The RAVEN watches them go, then flies off to another house–this time SARAH and MELISSA’s. It knocks on SARAH’s window until she opens it to see what’s going on. She seems delighted as it flies inside and perches on her easel.)

SARAH: So cute! Are you going to help me paint?

RAVEN: Nope.

(SARAH sits back down to continue painting, apparently oblivious to the RAVEN giving her the death-glare all the while.)

(Fin.)

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