[SCENE I. GAVIN’s party. GAVIN and MELINA are talking. GAVIN looks uncomfortable; MELINA looks like someone who has just realized there’s a camera watching her and is trying to appear nonchalant.]
GAVIN: There’s a lot of “if” in your plan, Lina.
LINA: Look at it like this. If I’m wrong, and you do what I say anyway, the universe doesn’t collapse. But if I’m right, and you don’t do what I say, reality itself will rip itself to shreds.
GAVIN: What if you’re wrong in a world-destroying way?
LINA: You’ll just have to take that completely nonexistent risk.
GAVIN: (Sighs.) Fine, I’ll do it. It’s not like things could get any worse.
LINA: Christ, don’t say that. You’re just begging for something truly awful to happen.
(There is a commotion from outside, and several people come running in, looking panicked.)
UNIMPORTANT PARTYGOER: There’s–there’s something coming!
(LINA shoulders through the crowd to investigate. A dark shroud is creeping down the street towards the house. The MELISSAE and SARAH both join her.)
THE MELISSAE: Yes?
LINA: When this is over remind me to never let you do anything ever again.
SARAH: That’s actually a really good idea.
PAST MELISSA: Et tu, small friend?
FUTURE MELISSA: It’s not our fault horrible things happen around us all the time.
LINA: Yes it is.
FUTURE MELISSA: . . . okay, sometimes it is, but that’s no reason to act like we’re somehow responsible for it.
LINA: That’s literally what “your fault” means.
FUTURE MELISSA: (Long pause.) I’m sensing a lot of antagonism from you today, Lina. Is there something you’d like to discuss with your beloved sister?
LINA: (Ignoring her.) Sarah. Walk with me. (She grabs SARAH by the arm and drags her inside. The MELISSAE exchange a glance and watch the terrible creeping shadow for a while; it seems to come to a halt once it has completely surrounded GAVIN’s house.)
PAST MELISSA: I think she’s on to us.
FUTURE MELISSA: It’ll be fine.
PAST MELISSA: (Long pause.) So, want to make out in Gavin’s room until the portal opens?
FUTURE MELISSA: Sure, why not?
(They head inside together.)
[SCENE II. The SORCERER’s tower. CHARLOTTE is creeping along a series of surreal, Escher-style hallways, documenting the journey with a camera and notebook. As she walks, a spectral hand taps her on her shoulder. She spins around, and finds no one there.]
CHARLOTTE: Either that was the worst magical booby trap ever, or–
(The hand waves at her, then points at a door she walked past.)
CHARLOTTE: Okay, so. Is there a reason I should trust you?
(The hand makes an open-palm ‘search me’ type gesture.)
CHARLOTTE: Well, it’s not like I had any better ideas. (She opens the door. Within, the WIZARD is trapped in a prison cell.) It’s you! (Beat.) Do you have a name? I feel weird just shouting ‘wizard’.
WIZARD: Just ‘the wizard’ will suffice. I wonder if I could trouble you for some assistance, Miss Corday?
CHARLOTTE: How do I know you’re really the wizard?
WIZARD: That’s an interesting question, actually. If you and I were close friends, of course, you could ask me to tell you something that only the real wizard would know. But, through no fault of your own, I’ve never really gotten to know you, so–
CHARLOTTE: Good enough. What do I need to do?
WIZARD: Just press that button there–(she does)–yes, that’s it. (The cell door opens and the WIZARD departs.) The sorcerer is clever, but not very thorough. (He taps the cell.) The bars are made of anti-magic metal–
CHARLOTTE: But there’s still gaps in the bars.
WIZARD: (Pleased.) Yes! Very good. So I was able to send my spectral hand of dubious trustworthiness to summon assistance. I’m glad it found someone clever.
CHARLOTTE: Yes, well. How much do you know about what’s going on right now?
WIZARD: Very little, I’m afraid. You’ll have to fill me in.
CHARLOTTE: Well, the sorcerer is pretending to be you and trying to mess with the fabric of spacetime by interfering with Melissa and Gavin going back into the past, or something. I confess I’m sketchy on the details myself.
WIZARD: That is . . . troubling and confusing on a number of levels. Is the party tonight?
CHARLOTTE: It’s probably going on as we speak.
WIZARD: Then we’ve no time to waste. (He produces a magic wand from his robes and points it at the ceiling. It lights up and sends off a pulse, then everything seems to go unnaturally quiet.)
CHARLOTTE: What was that?
WIZARD: I’ve put the tower in a time loop. Everyone inside will relive the same second until I break the time loop.
CHARLOTTE: You can do that?
WIZARD: “The wizard” is not just a name. It’s who I am.
CHARLOTTE: Yes, but–
WIZARD: Anyway, come on. We’ve got a party to crash.
[SCENE III. A walk-in closet somewhere in GAVIN’s house. MELINA and SARAH are talking quietly.]
LINA: So, we have to stop Melissa.
SARAH: Normally I’d make a joke, but yeah, I think she’s gone off the deep end. Or they have. Or whatever.
LINA: Yeah. Well, I’ve got Gavin running interference, but he’s shifty and untrustworthy.
SARAH: Doing what?
LINA: Well, I think Melissa wants to send the wrong version of her into the past. I got him to agree to make sure that’s not what happens.
SARAH: I see. (Beat.) Is it just me, or is she being even weirder than normal?
LINA: Yeah. I mean, you know how she gets when she has a plan.
SARAH: Or is excited about something.
LINA: Or is bored.
LINA: But this seems different.
SARAH: So what can we do?
LINA: I was hoping you had an idea. (A long pause follows.) Oh, hang on! What if only one of the Melissas is actually Melissa?
SARAH: Do we have a way to find out?
LINA: We do! Wait here! (She leaves the closet, then returns a few moments later with a small electronic device, looking a little flustered.)
LINA: What? Oh, yes. But I think people think we’re having sex back here. (She indicates the device.)
SARAH: Worse things have happened. (Beat.) It’s not a sex toy, is it? Because I’m flattered, but–
LINA: No! The wizard gave it to me a few years back. It’s a Melissa detector. She’s got unique magical properties that this thing picks up on.
SARAH: So, we just get each of them alone, and if it doesn’t go ‘bing!’ on one of them, she’s not the real Melissa?
LINA: Basically. Unfortunately I’m pretty sure they’re the opposite of alone right now. I don’t think I’m mentally equipped to handle that.
SARAH: This, Lina, is why they invented Sarah Ames. (She takes the Melissa detector into hand, and departs, whistling a cheerful tune. A moment later, she ducks her head back in.) You’d best stay here. I’ve got a plan that involves you being out of sight.
(SARAH departs, leaving MELINA alone in the closet. She sits down and sighs.)
[SCENE IV. Outside GAVIN’s house, at the edge of the shadowy shroud that now covers the land. The WIZARD and CHARLOTTE are within the shroud, and seem to be unable to cross to the other side.]
CHARLOTTE: Well, this is awkward.
WIZARD: What is this meddlesome fool doing?
(The disembodied voice of the SORCERER begins speaking.)
SORCERER: You cannot stop me now, Wizard.
CHARLOTTE: Stop you from doing what, exactly?
SORCERER: You also won’t catch me monologuing. Just know that I have won.
WIZARD: This is not good, Miss Corday. (Beat.) We should return to the tower and help your friends. Perhaps they can be of service.
[SCENE V. Outside GAVIN’s room. SARAH arrives, hides the device, and stops whistling her cheerful tune and adopts a worried-looking expression.]
SARAH: (Knocking at the door.) Melissa?
MELISSA: Hang on!
(After a few moments, FUTURE MELISSA, in her futuristic jumpsuit, emerges from inside, her hair a mess, looking rather flushed.)
MELISSA: You need something?
SARAH: I can’t find Lina. She went to get something for me from the house about an hour ago.
MELISSA: All right, calm down. Did you try calling her?
SARAH: (Nods.) It went straight to voicemail. I mean, it’s probably nothing, but her bag’s still here, so I thought–
MELISSA: No, you’re right. I’ll help you look.
SARAH: I think I’m going to lie down for a bit.
MELISSA: (Frowns.) All right. Well, past-me is in there. She’ll take care of you.
(As MELISSA is departing, SARAH checks the device, which is blinking, indicating the presence of Melissas in the vicinity. The light fades as she withdraws, and SARAH enters the bedroom.)
PAST MELISSA: Hey, small friend. What’s wrong?
SARAH: She’s just trying to find Melina. (She checks the device. It is not blinking.)
PAST MELISSA: What’s the gadget?
SARAH: Gavin gave it to me to use with my costume. Looks nice and futuristic, doesn’t it? (She lies down on the bed and pockets it, then gets out her cell phone.) I’m going to try texting to see if she turns up. (She texts the words ‘Past Melissa is a fake, not sure what to do next’ to Melina, then hits send. Then she smiles.) I think I’m going to head home. I’ve got this awful headache. (She stands and leaves the room, now looking genuinely worried.)