Episode 5: The Case of the Missing Melissa

[SCENE I. Behind GAVIN’s house, behind some bushes. SARAH and MELINA have gathered and are quietly but urgently discussing the situation.]

SARAH: I thought you had a plan.

LINA: You know how sometimes you have an idea that’s so brilliant you don’t think past the initial stages of “wow, that’s actually really clever?”

SARAH: Why would anyone want to make a fake Melissa?

LINA: I don’t think I actually want to speculate. Anyway, I–(her cell phone rings. She answers it.) Yeah?

(Cut to the WIZARD, in the sorcerer’s tower, on his cell phone.)

WIZARD: Miss Xenakis! I was worried the shroud would block cell phone signal.

LINA: I thought you’d been captured and replaced by an evil double.

WIZARD: Miss Corday helped me escape. Listen. Do you still have the Melissa detector I gave you?

LINA: Never leave home without it. It’s surprisingly handy.

WIZARD: In my youth I was quite talented at experimental serendipity. (Pause.) Did you find out that one of the Melissas was fake?

LINA: Yeah. How did you–

WIZARD: I’m a wizard, Harry. Now, I’m going to walk you through some modifications I need you to make on it. Listen very carefully, because you don’t have very much time.

LINA: Okay, go ahead.

WIZARD: First, open the back panel . . .

 

[SCENE II. The SORCERER’s tower. CHARLOTTE has found CELESTE and JEREMY still in their magical prisons in the entry chamber. She quietly plants a small device with a blinking red light on the floor.]

CELESTE: Great, are you bombing us now?

JEREMY: Whatever he’s paying you, we . . . can’t really do much about it, but please don’t.

CHARLOTTE: Close your eyes and plug your ears.

(CHARLOTTE takes cover. The others reluctantly follow her instructions. A moment later there is a blinding flash and a loud bang; the magical cages fade away. CHARLOTTE reemerges.)

CHARLOTTE: Anti-magic bombs, courtesy of the wizard.

(JEREMY stands. CELESTE attempts to stand but falters; CHARLOTTE catches her.)

CHARLOTTE: Since you’re magically attuned you’ll probably feel a little disoriented for a while.

CELESTE: Apparently. How long’s ‘a while’?

CHARLOTTE: Six to eight hours.

CELESTE: Six to eight hours of sinister spinning towers. Great.

JEREMY: And bad poetry, apparently.

CELESTE: That was unintentional and also fuck you.

CHARLOTTE: Anyway, we have work to do. The wizard wants us to bring this place down. Come with me.

 

[SCENE III. Elsewhere in the tower. The WIZARD, balancing a twisted black magic wand on his finger, walks carefully through the hallways. It looks like a dungeon of some variety. His cell phone rings. He answers it with his free hand, keeping the wand carefully balanced as he talks.]

WIZARD: Melina.

LINA: Yeah. Everything’s in order. Now what?

WIZARD: I need you to find the fake Melissa. Then, when the time is right, I will send you a notification, indicating that you need to press the red button.

LINA: Notify me?

WIZARD: You’ll know it when you see it.

LINA: All right. And what will this do?

WIZARD: It should put transpose the spacetime position of the real Melissa and the fake one.

LINA: You don’t sound very confident.

WIZARD: Confidence is not always a good quality, Miss Xenakis. Best of luck. (He hangs up; his cell phone vanishes. He continues walking the corridor for a moment when the wand abruptly falls towards one of the cells. He smiles grimly and presses his hands against the cell door. It evaporates. MELISSA, not dressed for a time travel party, looks up.)

MELISSA: It’s about time you showed up. My battery died hours ago.

WIZARD: I trust you are well, Miss Xenakis?

MELISSA: Well, an evil sorcerer kidnapped me for some reason. But I could be worse.

WIZARD: (Closes his eyes for a moment and whispers some arcane words.) Are you ready to travel?

MELISSA: Well, I could use something to eat–(she vanishes.)

WIZARD: I’m certain there will be something to eat at the party. (He summons his magic staff from thin air.)

(PAST MELISSA appears; she appears to be asleep, and various brilliant purple lights are apparently glowing through cracks in her skin.)

WIZARD: Now, then. Time to find out who you really are.

 

[SCENE IV. The summit of the sorcerer’s tower. The SORCERER is standing, overlooking the shrouded landscape below, as CELESTE, CHARLOTTE, and JEREMY reach the peak. He does not turn around.]

SORCERER: So, you’ve managed to slip my bonds.

CHARLOTTE: We’re here to put a stop to your evil schemes!

SORCERER: With what power? You haven’t the magic potential between the three of you to light a candle!

CHARLOTTE: Yeah, about that. (She produces a small needle and jabs it into CELESTE’s arm.) Sorry, Cel.

CELESTE: Ow! Fuck!

(CELESTE staggers, then glares at CHARLOTTE, lashing out with magical power. It knocks CHARLOTTE off her feet. A moment later, CELESTE realizes that her power has returned, and she turns to face the SORCERER, and strikes him with the same attack, except much more powerful. He falls from the roof of his tower and screams for a while, then goes silent. Everyone walks to the edge and looks down.)

JEREMY: So, do we win?

CELESTE: I think I’m owed an explanation. And an apology.

CHARLOTTE: Later. We’re not done here. (She hurries back downstairs. The interior of the tower seems to have shrunk considerably; only a few flights down, and they are in the entry chamber once again; now, however, there is a pedestal with a large glowing crystal at the heart of it.) Celeste, make sure that doesn’t explode. Jeremy and I will keep watch. Now we wait for the wizard.

 

[SCENE V. Back at the party. MELINA is in GAVIN’s room with the REAL MELISSA and the Melissa formerly known as FUTURE MELISSA (who is actually PAST MELISSA). REAL MELISSA looks confused and a little annoyed.]

REAL MELISSA: You’re telling me I missed the time-travel party?

LINA: Yeah.

REAL MELISSA: And you! (She points at PAST MELISSA.) You’re supposed to literally be me! You should have spotted an impostor.

PAST MELISSA: (Distant.) I wasn’t really paying attention to her personality.

LINA: Okay, first of all, gross. Second, I thought you were the one from the future?

PAST MELISSA: No, we switched costumes so nobody would argue when we tried to send her back instead.

LINA: So you were conspiring to send an impostor into the past.

PAST MELISSA: I didn’t know she was an impostor! I was distracted.

REAL MELISSA: You make me sick.

(The clock strikes midnight and a portal opens on the dresser. GAVIN comes in, covering his eyes.)

GAVIN: All right, listen, stop what you’re doing and–

LINA: They’re not doing anything.

GAVIN: (Uncovers his eyes.) Didn’t you say–

LINA: Things change, apparently. (She gets out her phone and begins reading something on it.)

GAVIN: What happened to your costume?

REAL MELISSA: Long story. (Glares at PAST MELISSA.) You’re a shame to the Xenakis name, you know.

PAST MELISSA: But–

REAL MELISSA: Get in the portal of shame. You have until Gavin throws this party next time to think about what you’ve done.

LINA: (Not looking up.) Actually, the wizard is saying not to use the portal.

GAVIN: Is he insane? One Melissa is already two too many!

LINA: That’s what he said. And he’s about the only sane person in this town.

GAVIN: That’s sad, isn’t it? The only sane person in this town is an actual wizard.

REAL MELISSA: Well, and Charlotte.

LINA: Oh yeah. I always forget about her.

PAST MELISSA: So what happens to me?

LINA: Search me. Just don’t go in the portal until the wizard says it’s okay.

PAST MELISSA: You can’t just put a big glowing portal in front of me and say “don’t go in there.”

LINA: I just did.

PAST MELISSA: Are you going to stop me?

LINA: Yes.

(They glare at one another for a few moments. After an awkward pause, GAVIN produces a deck of cards from somewhere.)

GAVIN: Anyone for poker?

 

[SCENE VI. The basement of the SORCERER’s tower. The WIZARD is casting some sort of spell on FAKE MELISSA. As he finishes, she is surrounded by a blinding halo of purple light. After several moments, SOPHIE SWANSON emerges, wearing PAST MELISSA’s costume, blinking in confusion.]

SOPHIE: What–

WIZARD: Miss Swanson. I thought so. Come with me, please. (He places magical shackles on her wrists.)

SOPHIE: What’s going on?

WIZARD: Come with me. You will be disoriented for some time while the spell wears off.

(He begins walking away. At first she doesn’t seem inclined to follow, but the magical shackles appear to be dragging her along anyway, so she hurries along behind. They walk through the corridors and arrive at the heart room of the tower. CHARLOTTE, CELESTE, and JEREMY are still there, keeping watch.)

WIZARD: Ah, good. Everything went as planned?

CHARLOTTE: Exactly as you said it would. You’re a wizard.

WIZARD: Yes, I am.

CHARLOTTE: Is that–

WIZARD: Sophie, yes. She has apparently stolen Melissa’s form with the Sorcerer’s aid.

CELESTE: That’s creepy.

JEREMY: But at least the sorcerer’s a pretty little splatter on the ground?

WIZARD: He’ll be back. He’s an implacable foe. I’m only sorry that he has decided to come here. (He places his hand on the glowing orb.) Celeste, we need to destroy this. Charlotte and Jeremy, be ready to take Miss Swanson and take her to a safe place–the Examiner’s offices, perhaps. I would like to question her when she comes around. You won’t have much time once we destroy the orb.

(Everyone follows instructions; CELESTE and the WIZARD cast a spell on the magic orb, which shatters in a blinding flash. CHARLOTTE and JEREMY make it to the Examiner’s offices and leave SOPHIE tied up in the basement.)

CHARLOTTE: I never thought she’d turn to sorcery.

JEREMY: I’m not actually surprised. (Beat.) Where’s the coffee? I need some fucking coffee.

CHARLOTTE: I’ll show you.

(They head upstairs, leading SOPHIE alone. She remains lying motionless on the floor for a while. Then her eyes open and she stirs and begins muttering to herself.)

SOPHIE: Melissa . . . I need to find Melissa . . .

(Fade to black. FIN.)

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