Episode 6: The Devil You Know

[SCENE I. The mayor’s office. NICHOLAS is standing at the window, looking out into what looks like an endless field of nothingness. His cell phone, on his desk, begins to ring, and he walks over to answer it.]

NICHOLAS: Mayor’s office.

KELLY: Nick? Is that you?

NICHOLAS: Yeah, hey, are you on your way?

KELLY: Uh, was I supposed to be?

NICHOLAS: Someone has transported the mayor’s office into some nowhere land, and I’m trapped. I told Jeremy to send help . . . Christ, I don’t know how long ago.

KELLY: Let’s see. The mayor’s office was replaced by a sinister sorcerer’s tower last night, and Jeremy seemed to think you were okay, so I didn’t–

NICHOLAS: It feels like days.

KELLY: Well, uh. I don’t know how to access extradimensional mayor’s offices, but I’ll look into it.

NICHOLAS: Please.

KELLY: I’ll call you when I can.

(NICHOLAS hangs up and goes back to staring out the window. This continues for a while before his phone rings once more.)

NICHOLAS: Kelly?

KELLY: So, uh. I have . . . news.

NICHOLAS: Not the good kind, I take it?

KELLY: Well, the wizard says you should probably be dead. So he doesn’t know why you’re alive and why you’re in a building that was destroyed.

NICHOLAS: Is that why there’s nobody else here?

KELLY: Probably.

NICHOLAS: Even the guy who dusts the plants is gone. I liked him.

KELLY: Well, I–

NICHOLAS: But more importantly, I liked the fact that he dusted the plants. The plants in this place are dusty, Kelly. I’m tired of dusty plants.

KELLY: Maybe you could dust them yourself?

NICHOLAS: Not helpful.

KELLY: Well, look, the wizard is doing some research, so maybe–

NICHOLAS: Yeah, yeah, call me when you need anything.

(He hangs up again and sits down at his desk. After a moment or two of staring vacantly he puts his head on the desk and lies still for a while. As he lies there, footsteps approach, but he does not look up. The camera shows a tall figure in a nice suit from behind; he sits down in the chair opposite the desk and clears his throat. NICHOLAS finally looks up. The camera reveals THE DEVIL, grinning devilishly.)

THE DEVIL: Hello, Mr. Mayor. It’s been a while.

NICHOLAS: You! I thought I was done with you.

THE DEVIL: You may have been done with me, Mr. Hayes, but I was not done with you. (He leans forward.) You do, however, owe me one.

NICHOLAS: What?

THE DEVIL: This place. I saved your life from the machinations of an evil sorcerer. Indeed, if you remain here forever, you’ll likely live forever. It takes your despair and turns it into life energy.

NICHOLAS: What if I stop despairing?

THE DEVIL: You won’t. And I wouldn’t ask you to remain here forever. I’m not a monster.

NICHOLAS: You are literally the devil.

THE DEVIL: Are you always so literal? I remember a bright young man who–

NICHOLAS: Get to the point.

THE DEVIL: Well, all you need to do to return is sign this contract. (A very lengthy contract appears on the desk.) Roughly, you are ceding all powers of the mayor’s office to me. You will remain as a figurehead, of course, and a powerful spell will prevent people from realizing what is going on.

NICHOLAS: Melissa’s apparently immune to mind-affecting magic.

THE DEVIL: You need not trouble yourself with Melissa. Indeed, when you are my right-hand man, you will no longer need trouble yourself with many things. Indeed, so long as your actions don’t interfere with my plans, you will be one of the most powerful forces in Portland.

NICHOLAS: Supposing I say no?

THE DEVIL: Then you remain here for all eternity. But you won’t. You’ve wanted power ever since you got your first taste of it. And I am offering you the closest thing to unfettered power you will ever have. You’d take this deal even if it weren’t your only way back into the mortal world.

NICHOLAS: (Sighs.) Fine. (He signs the contract.)

THE DEVIL: Pleasure doing business with you. (He snaps his fingers, and suddenly they are both in NICHOLAS’s living room.) You were not present at your office when it was destroyed, of course. You have a press conference scheduled at the Examiner’s offices in one hour to discuss it.

NICHOLAS: I . . . thanks?

THE DEVIL: Always pleased to assist. (He grins and vanishes.)

(NICHOLAS sighs and lies down on the couch and stares up at the ceiling.)

 

[SCENE II. The offices of the Portland Examiner. NICHOLAS has just arrived; CHARLOTTE quickly escorts him inside to the press room, where several reporters are there with cameras and all that jazz. NICHOLAS approaches the podium and begins making a brief speech, full of platitudes and empty condolences–typical political speech. CHARLOTTE is standing off to the side, whispering something to MELISSA. JEREMY approaches them.]

JEREMY: Charlotte, the wizard would like to question Sophie tonight.

CHARLOTTE: Not now, Jeremy–

MELISSA: (surprised, a little upset.) Sophie is here?

(NICHOLAS does not falter in his speech, but his eyes glance over at this conversation and he looks decidedly interested.)

CHARLOTTE: Now is not the time, Melissa. (Sighs.) But tonight will work, Jeremy.

NICHOLAS: . . . and I look forward to working with the city of Portland to rebuild. Thank you. (He leaves the podium and approaches.) Melissa, a moment of your time?

MELISSA: Only because you came back from the dead. (They depart into a back hallway.) Something up?

NICHOLAS: (Closing his eyes for a moment.) I know where Sophie is. She’s tied up in the basement.

MELISSA: What?

NICHOLAS: I’m just as curious as you are. You coming? (He walks off without waiting for an answer.)

MELISSA: (Hurrying to catch up.) Since when do you know what’s going on?

NICHOLAS: It’s been a while since we spoke last, Melissa. Things have changed since then.

MELISSA: Okay, ominous.

(They arrive at a basement doorway and open it. SOPHIE is still tied up and still wearing PAST MELISSA’s costume from the party. She locks eyes on MELISSA and smiles creepily.)

SOPHIE: Melissa. You’ve come.

NICHOLAS: Why are you down here?

(NICHOLAS hurries to her side and unties her ropes. SOPHIE gets up experimentally, then approaches MELISSA rapidly, grabs her by the collar, and pins her against the wall. MELISSA is too startled to resist for the moment.)

SOPHIE: I’ve been inside your mind, Melissa Xenakis. I know things. Things you thought were secret.

MELISSA: What–

SOPHIE: And I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for so very long. (She releases MELISSA and escapes into the hallway.)

NICHOLAS: What was that about?

MELISSA: I think I may be in trouble. (Beat.) Why did you let her go?

NICHOLAS: Did I? I thought you did.

MELISSA: I did not. (She sighs.) I guess we’d better get out of here before someone figures out we’ve let loose a crazy person on Portland.

NICHOLAS: Well, to be fair–

MELISSA: Not now, Nicholas. I’m not in the mood. (She stalks out, followed by NICHOLAS.)

(TBC.)

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