You Wyvern, You Lose Some

SOUNDSCAPE: A LOVELY SWATH OF FANTASY COUNTRYSIDE.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) In the land of Exposition, a stagecoach coaches across the Valley of Setting…

SFX: A STAGECOACH COACHES ACROSS THE STAGE.

BRADDADOCIOUS: I certainly home we didn’t waste my time coming here, Chadthony. If the President of the Land of Exposition Board of Directors himself can’t approve the plans for my new electric horse factory, I’m going to be out a lot of money.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Braddadocious Richmanson, heir to the Richmanson family orphan-blood mine fortune.

CHADTHONY: I know, Brad. I know. But I have known the President for a very long time. And while Guilty B. Association certainly may be a fool, an idiot, and a war criminal, he’s not stupid. He’ll do as he’s told.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Senator Chadthony Screwem, elected representative of the City of Pushover and collector of lost souls.

CHADTHONY: Also, I picked up this lovely thing while we were in the capital.

LOST SOUL: (INCOHERENT PAINED WAILING)

CHADTHONY: (CHUCKLES) I think the girl at the shop said this one was an erotic fruit painter, or something. (TO TIM) What did you get up to, Tim?

TIM: I watched the ladies dance.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) And Tim, local small business owner and voter against his own interest.

BRADDADOCIOUS: (TO NARRATOR) Alright, alright. I think everyone gets it – the three of us are a bunch of real bastards. No need to be such a farting pill about it.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Sorry.

BRADDADOCIOUS: Yes, well… You ought to be. People like you are always prattling on about things that matter to you and making pointed statements of the abuses you suffer at the hands of men like us. But you never stop to think that maybe we’re more than the shallow caricatures of selfishness, violence, and treachery that we make ourselves out to be, do you?

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) No. No, I guess I never really–

SFX: THE STAGECOACH SCREECHES TO A HALT, ROCKS CABIN.

BRADDADOCIOUS: Genitals!

CHADTHONY: Dammit all! Do you know how much child labor it’ll take to get Lost Soul out of this?

TIM: Mr. Senator, would it help matters any if I increase my donations to your re-election fund?

CHADTHONY: (CONSIDERS THIS) No, but you probably should do that anyway.

TIM: ‘kay.

BRADDADOCIOUS: Driver, what the Hell is going on out there?

DRIVER: (OFF) Sirs, there’s a bit of a problem on the road.

BRADDADOCIOUS: Well, either go around it or run it over.

WYVERN: (ROARS)

CHADTHONY: Oh, my stars and bars…

TIM: If I double my donations and let you increase my taxes, can you make this go away?

CHADTHONY: Triple it.

TIM: Deal.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) The problem, as it turns out, is a rather large, yet ill-tempered–

BRADDADOCIOUS: Dragon!

WYVERN: (SNARLS)

DRIVER: (OFF) Wyvern, actually.

BRADDADOCIOUS: I beg your pardon?

DRIVER: (OFF) Yeah, it’s a fairly common misunderstanding. Ya see, Dragon’s are much larger and typically have four legs while Wyverns are smaller, more agile, and only have–

SFX: KA-BOOM!

BRADDADOCIOUS: What can it possibly be this time?!

DRIVER: (OFF) I ain’t sure, Sir. But there was a streak of light across the sky just now, and then it–

WYVERN: (DEATH WAILS)

SFX: WYVERN DROPS DEAD.

DRIVER: (OFF) Yup. Killed that wyvern dead.

TIM: Anyone else hear a ringing?

CHADTHONY: Let me privatize your healthcare and I’ll make sure you’re taken care of.

TIM: Deal!

BRADDADOCIOUS: I’ll give you fifty bucks for the rights to that dragon’s corpse.

DRIVER: (OFF) Wyvern.

BRADDADOCIOUS: (TO DRIVER) Okay, okay. (TO CHADTHONY) I’ll give you fifty bucks for the rights to that wyvern’s corpse.

CHADTHONY: Deal!

DRIVER: (OFF) Sirs, I think someone’s flying over this way!

BRADDADOCIOUS: I’m sorry, did you say “flying”?

DRIVER: (OFF) Yes, Sir.

BRADDADOCIOUS: Right, just making sure.

SFX: A PASSING WIND.

TIM: Look! It’s some kinda short, stocky woman in a crazy outfit!

SFX: WINTER LANDS WITH A GRUNT.

WYNNTER: (OFF) (EXCITED) You guys saw that crazy shot, right? That had to be at least a solid half-mile!

BRADDADOCIOUS: You there – the short, stocky woman who killed my dragon!

DRIVER: (OFF) Wyvern.

BRADDADOCIOUS: We get it!

SFX: WYNNTER APPROACHES THE STAGECOACH.

WYNNTER: This is your wyvern?

BRADDADOCIOUS: Yes, I purchased the rights to it mere moments before you carelessly shot it dead.

WYNNTER: Sorry about that. I didn’t see a collar on it.

CHADTHONY: Young lady, you saved us from that terrible lizard!

WYNNTER: Huh? But he just said–

BRADDADOCIOUS: Nevermind that. Miss, I’ll forgive your reckless destruction of my personal property in exchange for the rights to calling myself the hero of this little vignette.

WYNNTER: Hey, you’re that guy who makes whatever an electric horse is!

CHADTHONY: What’s your name, young lady?

WYNNTER: Oh. I’m Wynnter Fyre. Nice to meet ya.

CHADTHONY: The pleasure’s ours, I assure you. I’m Senator Screwem from the City of Pushover. Miss Wynnter, how can my associates and I ever thank you?

WYNNTER: (CONSIDERS THIS) I guess money’s pretty good.

BRADDADOCIOUS: (CLEARS THROAT) I’m, uh… I’m afraid we don’t have much money on us. All tied up in the stalk market, I’m afraid.

WYNNTER: Stalk?

BRADDADOCIOUS: Corn, mostly.

WYNNTER: That’s okay. I’ll just take whatever you got on ya.

BRADDADOCIOUS: You’re not very heroic, are you?

WYNNTER: Oh, that’s because I’m not.

BRADDADOCIOUS: You’re not?

WYNNTER: No, but I am robbing you.

CHADTHONY: What?

SFX: SHOTGUN COCKS.

DRIVER: Ma’am, I’m gonna have to ask you to walk away now.

WYNNTER: Are you really aiming a shotgun at a woman who just downed a wyvern with one shot from a half-mile away?

DRIVER: Yes, Ma’am.

WYNNTER: Right. Just checking.

DRIVER: Sorry, Ma’am. I don’t care much for these men…

TIM: Ouch…

DRIVER: (TO TIM) Sorry, Tim. (TO WYNNTER) But they are my customers. And I have a duty to protect them.

WYNNTER: (SIGHS) Memmer…

SFX: WOM-WOM-WOM! MAGIC HYPNO-EYE SOUNDS!

DRIVER: Ma’am, I don’t know what you’re doing with your eyes, but… (SOBS) But, uh… I really… (SNIFFS) Oh… Oh, no…

BRADDADOCIOUS: What is this? What’s going on? Why is that man showing me his feelings?

DRIVER: I remember… I, I remember that time… Why did he have to leave me? I was a good kid!

CHADTHONY: Oh, this isn’t good.

WYNNTER: Heartbreaking, really. I unlocked some of his repressed memories and emotions.

SFX: DRIVER RUNS OFF.

DRIVER: (OFF) (SOBBING) Daddy! Come back, Daddy! I’ll be better! I promise!

WYNNTER: So, Gentlemen… About that money?

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Several minutes and small fortunes later…

SFX: STAGECOACH SPEEDS OFF.

WYNNTER: You’re a natural, Tim! Just be careful with all that horsepower! (A BEAT) Hey. You can get up now.

WYVERN: (STIRS AWAKE)

WYNNTER: Yeah. I think it went better than expected.

WYVERN: (GRUNTS)

WYNNTER: What? Yeah, yeah. Go ahead, I think we got everything of value from them now.

WYVERN: (GRUNTS)

WYNNTER: Uh-huh. I will. You have fun, ‘kay?

WYVERN: (GRUNTS)

SFX: WYVERN FLIES OFF.

A BEAT. THEN…

SFX: WYVERN ATTACKS IN THE DISTANCE.

WYNNTER: (SIGHS) Today was a productive day.

IT’S OVER.

The Magic Hour: An Occult Cult, Of Course

The sort of late-night radio call-in show with a host known only as MAGIC DAVE.

MAGIC DAVE: Ladies and Gentlemen. It’s the dead of night. You don’t know how you got here. (considers this) Huh. Neither do I. (shrugs) Congrats. You found Santa Carla Public Radio. This is “The Magic Hour” with Magic Dave. I’m Magic Dave, we are The Lost, and this is our hour, man.

Lines are open. Give us a call. Let thy sins be known.

Magic Dave looks to, fiddles with his board.

First caller – what’s your name, what’s your sin?

CALLER: (phone) Hey, Dave. Long Time Listener First Time Caller.

MAGIC DAVE: That’s a heck of a name you got there, Long.

CALLER: (phone) It’s a family name.

MAGIC DAVE: My condolences. So, what’s keeping you up tonight?

CALLER: (phone) Well. I may have recently stumbled across a literal demonic death cult, and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

MAGIC DAVE: Not the religious type?

CALLER: (phone) Yes, but no, except every other holiday. You see, in an entirely intentional attempt to isolate myself from any sight or sign of humanity as possible, I unintentionally found myself lost in some remote corner of Black Star Canyon.

MAGIC DAVE: That’s a cool story, man.

CALLER: (phone) Right. Well. Somewhere between realizing I had one hell of a walk back to my car and crying for my mother, I heard a strange chanting coming from deep within the old, abandoned mine shaft I’d foolishly chosen to expel both urine and insight into my predicament.

MAGIC DAVE: Happens to the best of us.

CALLER: (phone) To make a long hike through a dark, winding series of tunnels and tangentially related anecdotes short: I eventually found myself in a vast, underground cavern with an equally vast, underground lake. And in the center of the lake were a bunch of strange little men chanting a strange little diddy to a strange, yet maddeningly large, fleshy skeletal something or other sitting right there in the water like it was a kiddie pool.

MAGIC DAVE: There’s always that one guy hogging the hot tub at those places.

CALLER: (phone) Having spent my fair share of afternoons in Irvine, I can’t say I haven’t seen worse. But once I witnessed this entity drink the wailing souls of several middle-school science teachers, I figured I’d seen most of what they had to offer and politely left without signing the registry.

MAGIC DAVE: Well. It’s always a good idea to keep an open mind and expose yourself to new, interesting things. On a scale of whatever, how’d you rate your visit?

CALLER: (phone) Oh, at least a solid, mid-level cream.

MAGIC DAVE: I’m sorry to hear that.

CALLER: (phone) To make things even worse, I didn’t realize I’d left my keys by the toilet until I’d already made it back to the parking lot.

The Sound That Night (II-III)

II-III. A DEBT PAID

SOUNDSCAPE: THE STILL SILENCE OF A VAST AND ENDLESS DESERT.

SFX: BENNY ABSENTLY TOSSES ROCKS AT THE TRACKS.

BENNY: (bored sigh)

SFX: A COYOTE HOWLS.

BENNY: (looks up, out) Huh?

SFX: THE DISTANT SOUNDS OF AN APPROACHING HORSE.

BENNY: (sees something) Hey… (it clicks, all smiles) Hey! (laughing) He did it!

SFX: STRANGER ARRIVES ON HORSEBACK.

BENNY: You did it! You really did it! It is him, right?

SFX: STRANGER DISMOUNTS.

STRANGER: You tell me.

STRANGER GRABS A HANDFUL OF CLARENCE’S HAIR, PULLS HEAD UP.

CLARENCE: (pained groans) You can’t do this to me…

STRANGER: I can and I am.

BENNY: (looks on at CLARENCE) My God… the sight of him…

STRANGER: This your man?

BENNY: Yeah… Yeah, that’s Clarence.

SFX: STRANGER RELEASES CLARENCE.

Oh. Yeah. Right. (fumbles in pockets) I think this is yours.

SFX: BENNY DROPS TWO COINS IN THE STRANGER’S HAND.

I suppose this makes us even.

STRANGER: (agreeable grunt)

BENNY: (nods) Good. Good… (looks at CLARENCE) I still can’t believe that’s him. (to STRANGER) Ya know, I didn’t think about it till now, but… (emotional) with her folks, and now Clarence… me… Natalie’s all alone now.

STRANGER: Aren’t we all.

A SILENCE, THEN…

SFX: STRANGER TURNS, WALKS AWAY.

BENNY: What happens now? You… you take him to Hell, or somethin’?

STRANGER: My experience? Hell is what you make of it.

SFX: STRANGER MOUNTS HORSE.

BENNY: And me?

STRANGER: Follow the tracks west.

BENNY: (looks west) What’s out there?

STRANGER: (considers this) Maybe we’ll both find out someday.

BENNY: Yeah. I hope so.

SFX: STRANGER RIDES OFF INTO THE EAST.

A SILENCE, THEN…

SFX: BENNY WALKS WEST.

OUT.

THE END

The Sound That Night (II-II)

II-II. THE HUNT

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNSUSPECTING AMBIENCE OF A CONVENIENTLY QUIET, ISOLATED STRETCH OF ROAD.

STRANGER: (voice-over) I’ve heard it said you never hear the one with your name on it. That’s why I make sure they see me coming first.

SFX: CRUISER DRIVES BY, AWAY.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNCOMFORTABLE INTERIOR OF THE POLICE CRUISER.

OFFICER JIMMY: So, uh… How’s Natalie doing?

CLARENCE: Why the sudden interest in my baby sister, Jimmy?

OFFICER JIMMY: No reason, Clarence. Just…making conversation, is all.

CLARENCE: (disapproving growl)

SFX: BANG! THE CRUISER’S TIRE BLOWS OUT.

SFX: CRUISER LOSES CONTROL, CRASHES.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNUSUALLY PEACEFUL ATMOSPHERE OF A QUIET, ISOLATED STRETCH OF ROAD AFTER A CRASH.

SFX: CLARENCE EXITS THE WRECKAGE.

CLARENCE: Jimmy? Jimmy! Jimmy, you brain-dead idjit! What the Hell was that all about?

SFX: A COYOTE HOWLS.

STRANGER: Clarence Middleton!

SFX: STRANGER APPEARS, APPROACHES ON HORSEBACK. SLOW, STEADY.

CLARENCE: Deputy Middle–! (wait, back it up) (barking) You! This your doing?!

OFFICER JIMMY: (off) (pained) Clarence?

CLARENCE: I’m here, Jimmy! Some horse-riding son-of-a-whore shot out our tire!

OFFICER JIMMY: (off) (pained) I ain’t doin’ so good, Clarence…

CLARENCE: Look what you did to Jimmy, you damned savage! 

STRANGER: He’ll live.

SFX: CLARENCE STRUGGLES TO HIS FEET.

CLARENCE: That right? And me? You gonna kill me, Cowboy?

STRANGER: Dead or alive, you’re—

CLARENCE: Fuck you!

SFX: BANG! CLARENCE SHOOTS STRANGER.

SFX: STRANGER DROPS DEAD OFF HIS HORSE.

A SILENCE. THEN…

SFX: CLARENCE LAUGHS HYSTERICALLY.

CLARENCE: Take that you stupid summna–

OFFICER JIMMY: (off) (pained) Clarence…

CLARENCE: I heard ya! Don’t you worry. I’ve got this one handled, Jimmy. You radio for–

SFX: BANG! STRANGER SHOOTS CLARENCE IN THE GUT.

CLARENCE: (weak-in-the-knees) Wha-What in the…

SFX: CLARENCE DROPS TO HIS KNEES.

SFX: THE STRANGER RISES TO HIS FEET.

STRANGER: Clarence Middleton.

CLARENCE: God in Heaven…

SFX: STRANGER APPROACHES, THE JANGLING OF SPURS PUNCTUATING EACH STEP. ONE STEP… TWO… THREE…

CLARENCE: No… No, I shot you. I shot you!

STRANGER: I don’t care.

CLARENCE: Who do you work for? Huh? Who sent you?

STRANGER: You’re wanted for the murder of Benicio Sierra.

CLARENCE: What? That filthy wet–?! Did his people send you? Huh? You idiot! I’m the police! You can’t–!

SFX: BANG! STRANGER SHOOTS CLARENCE, POINT BLANK.

SFX: CLARENCE DROPS DEAD.

STRANGER: I can, Deputy Middleton. And I will.

FADE.

To be continued…

The Sound That Night (II-I)

II-I. THE BOUNTY

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNCOMFORTABLE ATMOSPHERE OF A COZY 1950S HOME OCCUPIED BY A YOUNG WOMAN (NATALIE) AND THE OLDER BROTHER (CLARENCE) WHO MURDERED HER BOYFRIEND IN COLD BLOOD.

SFX: NATALIE CLEANS DISHES IN THE KITCHEN.

CLARENCE: (off) (calm, but dominate) Natalie.

SFX: NATALIE FREEZES. SHE’S TRAPPED IN A ROOM WITH A BEAR.

SFX: CLARENCE ENTERS.

CLARENCE: Is my lunch ready?

NATALIE: It’s on the table.

SFX: CLARENCE INSPECTS THE BAG.

CLARENCE: (warm. ish.) Are these Ma’s persimmon cookies?

NATALIE: Yes.

BEAT.

CLARENCE: You know, I promised her I’d look after you best I could. And I ain’t gonna let any harm come to you. Even when you bring it upon yourself.

NATALIE: Okay.

A BEAT. THEN…

SFX: CLARENCE CLOSES, CRUMPLES BAG.

CLARENCE: I’m all you’ve got left now…

SFX: CLARENCE APPROACHES NATALIE FROM BEHIND, UNCOMFORTABLY CLOSE.

You understand that, don’t you?

NATALIE: Yes, Clarence.

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

SFX: HONK-HONK! THE CRUISER’S HORN, CURBSIDE.

CLARENCE: That’s Jimmy. I gotta go. I’ll be home late.

SFX: CLARENCE GRABS HIS KEYS, LEAVES, AND THEN…

SFX: SLAMS DOOR BEHIND HIM.

SFX: NATALIE FLINCHES, GASPS AT THE SOUND. SHE CAN BREATH AGAIN, FEEL AGAIN. AND THE TEARS WON’T STOP COMING.

FADE.

To be continued…

The Sound That Night (I-II)

I-II. THE STATION

SOUNDSCAPE: THE PEACEFUL AMBIENCE OF A BUSTLING, OTHERWORLDLY TRAIN STATION SURROUNDED BY AN ENDLESS STRETCH OF DESERT.

STATION MANAGER: Sir? Excuse me, Sir. Train’ll be arriving shortly.

BENNY: (stirs) Train?

SFX: DISTANT SHRILL OF A TRAIN WHISTLE.

STRANGER: (voice-over) Like many others before him, Benny finds himself on a bench on the platform of a train station looking out across a vast and endless desert. The wood planks worn smooth. The paint peeling and flaking. And the sky burns in the flames of perpetual sunset.

SFX: BENNY RISES, STEPS FORWARD, AND TAKES IT ALL IN.

BENNY: Where am I?

STATION MANAGER: A long way from home. But I suppose we all are.

SFX: TRAIN APPROACHES. UP, UNDER.

SFX: CROWD MURMURS IN ANTICIPATION.

STRANGER: (voice-over) The black locomotive trimmed in gold appears in the east, cutting west across the burning desert, toward the station. The gathering crowd marvels as silver plumes of steam and smoke stretch upward forever until they become the clouds and the stars in the sky.

SFX: TRAIN PULLS IN, STOPS.

SFX: PASSENGERS BOARD.

BENNY: Where does it go?

STATION MANAGER: Somewhere else.

BENNY: Will it get me home?

STATION MANAGER: (considers this) Eventually.

BENNY: Am I dead?

STATION MANAGER: (nods) Afraid so.

SFX: A DISTANT GUNSHOT RINGS OUT ACROSS THE DESERT.

BENNY: (it sinks in) He shot me…

STATION MANAGER: Who?

BENNY: A man named Clarence… Will he come here too?

STATION MANAGER: Does it matter?

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

SFX: A COYOTE HOWLS.

BENNY: What…?

SOUNDSCAPE: THE STILL SILENCE OF A VAST AND ENDLESS DESERT.

BENNY: (panicked) No. No-no-no. This isn’t–this is… It’s gone! Where did it all… No, it can’t– Hello? Hello?!

SFX: THE STRANGER APPROACHES ON HORSEBACK, SLOW, STEADY.

STRANGER: They’re gone.

BENNY: Where?

STRANGER: (gestures) West.

BENNY: What’s that way?

STRANGER: Something else.

BENNY: And the other way?

A SILENCE. THEN…

STRANGER: The man you spoke of…

BENNY: Clarence… You heard that?

STRANGER: (nods) The bounty is two coins.

BENNY: Coins? I don’t… (checks pockets) I don’t think I’ve got any… (pulls out TWO COINS) (to STRANGER) What is this?

STRANGER: Every soul must pay The Conductor to ride the Train to Elsewhere.

BENNY: (puzzles this) But if I pay you…

STRANGER: You must walk west, across the desert.

BENNY: (looks westward) (to self) Natalie… (To STRANGER) Will I ever make it?

STRANGER: Someday. But long after those you love.

BENNY: And Clarence?

STRANGER: I will find him.

BENNY: (considers this) Yeah. Yeah, okay. You’ve got a deal.

SFX: THEY SHAKE HANDS.

SFX: A COYOTE HOWLS.

FADE.

END ACT ONE

To be continued…

The Sound That Night (I-I)

I-I. CRY, LITTLE SISTER

SOUNDSCAPE: THE DRAMATICALLY APPROPRIATE SOUNDS OF A LONELY CANYON ROAD AT NIGHT.

STRANGER: (voice-over) The year is 1955. The place, a moonlit stretch of road cutting and weaving through a weed and bramble-choked canyon somewhere in California.

SFX: A CLASSIC ROADSTER APPROACHES, ROARS PAST, AND AWAY.

The car, meanwhile, belongs to the young man behind the wheel — Benny Sierra. But while his eyes are on the road, Benny’s attention and affection both belong to the charming young woman seated beside him.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE ROCK ‘N ROLL INTERIOR OF A 1955 BEL AIR AS IT SPEEDS DOWN A LONELY CANYON ROAD AT NIGHT.

NATALIE: Benny… I had a really nice time tonight.

BENNY: (smiles) Me too, Natalie. (putting on the charm) So, uh… what was your favorite part?

NATALIE: (considers this) Well… I want to say it was the part where I got to share a moonlit picnic by the lake with a dark, handsome stranger.

BENNY: S’that right?

NATALIE: (smiles) Mm-hmm. (teasing) But…

BENNY: (wait. what?) “But”? Wait. What? Why’s there a but?

NATALIE: (bigger smile, pressing on) But… I gotta say, I kinda wish I stayed with that Mutant fellow with the big brain.

BENNY: Laws, that was an awful movie!

NATALIE: (laughs) Did you hear that man sitting behind us?

BENNY: Hear him? I still can’t get his bad jokes out of my head. He was talking through the whole movie!

NATALIE: (snuggles close) I guess it’s a good thing we left early, huh?

BENNY: Yeah. I guess it was.

AND THEN…

SFX: WOOP-WOOP! A POLICE CRUISER FLASHES LIGHTS AND SIREN.

BENNY: Aw, man. What now?

NATALIE: Benny, you better pull over.

SFX: THE BEL AIR PULLS TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, STOPS.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNCOMFORTABLE AMBIENCE OF AN UNWARRANTED TRAFFIC STOP ON THE SIDE OF A LONELY CANYON ROAD AT NIGHT.

SFX: OFFICER (JIMMY) APPROACHES, TAPS ON GLASS.

SFX: BENNY ROLLS, CRANKS DOWN WINDOW.

OFFICER: Please step out of the car, Sir.

BENNY: Excuse me?

NATALIE: (to OFFICER) Jimmy?

OFFICER: Hey, Nat. This’ll just take a second. (to BENNY) Sir, please. Step out of the car.

NATALIE: Jimmy, what are you doing?

OFFICER: I’m sorry, Nat.

SFX: DEPUTY CLARENCE MIDDLETON EXITS THE CRUISER, APPROACHES THE BEL AIR.

CLARENCE: The man asked you to step out of the car twice now. Don’t make him ask you a third time.

NATALIE: (furious) Clarence!

BENNY: Aw, shit.

SFX: NATALIE STORMS OUT OF THE CAR, AT CLARENCE.

CLARENCE: Natalie. You get back in there. This ain’t got nothing to do with you.

NATALIE: Like Hell!

SFX: SLAP! CLARENCE STRIKES NATALIE ACROSS THE FACE.

NATLIE: (pained scream)

BENNY: Natalie!

CLARENCE: See what you’ve made me go and do, Mr. Sierra? Think you want to step out of that car now?

SFX: BENNY STEPS OUT OF THE CAR.

CLARENCE: That’s a good boy. (to NATALIE) See? Was that too hard? All I wanted was a little pow-wow with our mutual friend.

BENNY: What do you want, Clarence–

CLARENCE: Deputy Middleton. (To OFFICER) Jimmy. Escort my baby sister back home.

OFFICER: Come along, Nat.

NATALIE: (pulls away) What? No!

BENNY: What do we have to talk about? Was I speeding? You gonna give me a ticket?

CLARENCE: No. We’re past that, Mr. Sierra.

SFX: CLARENCE UNHOLSTERS HIS SIDEARM, PISTOLWHIPS BENNY.

SFX: BENNY DROPS LIKE A ROCK WITH A BROKEN JAW.

BENNY: (pained, broken grunts)

NATALIE: Benny!

CLARENCE: Yeah. I bet that smarts.

OFFICER: Clarence…

CLARENCE: Jimmy. Wouldn’t you agree that there is a God-given order to the world? A purpose. A plan. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

OFFICER: Yeah. Yeah, I guess so. But, uh… Clarence, I don’t think–

CLARENCE: Nor should you. Didn’t I order you to take Natalie home?

OFFICER: Yeah. But…

CLARENCE: Then I suggest you mind your place and do your job.

OFFICER: Yes, Sir.

CLARENCE: And you, Mr. Sierra. We’re going to see if we can sort out exactly where you belong.

SFX: CLARENCE KICKS BENNY IN THE RIBS.

BENNY: (pained grunts)

NATALIE: (sobs) Benny!

OFFICER: Clarence! Stop this!

CLARENCE: Jimmy, I told you–!

SFX: BENNY TACKLES CLARENCE TO THE GROUND.

OFFICER: Clarence!

SFX: BENNY AND CLARENCE WRESTLE, STRUGGLE OVER GUN.

NATALIE: Both of you! Cut this out right this instant!

SFX: BENNY PINS, PUNCHES CLARENCE. ONCE, TWICE…

SFX: BANG! A SINGLE GUNSHOT ECHOES THROUGH THE CANYON.

NATALIE: (frightened gasp)

SFX: BENNY DROPS DEAD.

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

NATALIE: (broken) Oh, God…

OFFICER: Clarence… Clarence, what did you do?

SFX: CLARENCE RISES, DUSTS HIMSELF OFF.

CLARENCE: Eliminated the threat.

OFFICER: You shot him, Clarence. He’s dead. He ain’t supposed to be dead. But you shot him, and now he’s dead.

CLARENCE: Then I guess he knows his place now, don’t he?

OFFICER: (shakes head) This is wrong. This is all wrong.

CLARENCE: The only thing wrong, Officer, is that you’re disobeying a director order. Get Natalie home. Now.

OFFICER: What are you going to do?

CLARENCE: It’s like I said: a place for everything, and everything in its place. And someone’s gotta take out the trash.

SFX: OFFICER ESCORTS A BROKEN NATALIE INTO THE CRUISER, DRIVES AWAY.

FADE.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Elsewhere: Audrey


DR. HOWARD FINE: When I first met Audrey McGuire in the bar of a hotel on the outskirts of Los Angeles, she was a fiery shock of red hair poured into a full skirt dress that teased a curvy figure beneath.

Her full, blood-red lips pouted at me as she performed a sob story about needing money for a bus ticket to Indianapolis, to stay with her mother after her husband had raised his hand to her one time too many.

The second time we met, Audrey was a willowy blonde wearing long boots and a short skirt, lying through thin lips about visiting her sister in San Francisco.

A PAUSE. THEN…

The third time we met, I observed Audrey gracefully flowing from one potential mark to the next, shedding her previous appearance between tables before seamlessly slipping into a new life with a single, gentle touch of each man’s hand.

One moment, she’s an olive-skinned beauty in a cardigan distracting a married man with her piercing blue eyes as she steals his wallet. The next, she’s laughing it up with a group of drunken suits pawing at a pair of milky thighs exposed by the short hem of her fashionable Mod dress.

I never gave a second thought to the way she’d temporarily leave with this or that man as she wore this or that face – sometimes an hour at a time, sometimes for mere minutes. But when some loud, dark-haired stranger in an expensive suit dragged Audrey away by the wrist, the panicked look she shot my way from a hauntingly familiar face convinced me to follow close behind.

A PAUSE. THEN…

I caught up to Audrey and that dark-haired stranger in the stairwell, just in time to hear a cry of pain closely followed by a drunken voice demanding to know why he had to hear from the boys at the office that his wife was moonlighting as a whore in a hotel bar.

Cynthia. Some poor housewife named Cynthia was probably somewhere cooking dinner for a husband she didn’t know was drunk in the stairwell of a hotel, threatening a frightened woman wearing her face.

And as Cynthia’s face attempted to lie her way out of a literal corner, Cynthia’s husband raised his hand. But as he raised his hand, her face changed. Her left eye darkened and swelled shut. Her bottom lip split and bled. And bruises appeared on her from head to toe.

Whether by fortune, divine intervention, or alcohol, Cynthia’s husband stumbled backward down a flight of stairs and scuttled out the door without another word, looking as if he’d just seen a ghost. Then once we were both sure he wasn’t coming back, I returned to the bar with a woman who looked like my dead wife.

A PAUSE. THEN…

Over the next several hours and drinks, I found myself lost in the glittering hazel eyes and gentle lines of my wife’s face as she shared the story of a life she never lived with a name she never knew. There was mention of a one-bedroom apartment in Shermer, Illinois, some boy named Reggie, and a kiss behind the high school gym that left her with no choice but to leave behind both Shermer and Reggie forever.

As we danced, the woman I struggled to call Audrey inquired about my work with childish wonder and glee. And as I explained the nature of the microscopic Sutherland Fluke coiled around both her central and peripheral nervous system, how it allowed her body to instinctively reshape itself in reaction to physical and emotional stimuli, she pulled her body closer to mine.

Audrey was gone by morning. And while I’m unsure if I’ve seen her in the years since… or if a person by the name of Audrey McGuire from Shermer, Illinois, ever existed… I do know a lost soul gave a lonely man one last night of happiness. And for that, I will always remember her.

Elsewhere: D’ja Vu’larian


DR. HOWARD FINE: Feeding exclusively on those threads of time and space intertwined with some poor soul’s untimely, traumatic death, the D’ja Vu’larian’s morbid appetite is seen by some as a cosmic blessing in disguise.

Effectively a wholesale rejection of death itself, these individuals… I hesitate to call them “victims”… regain consciousness sometime in their own past, with only a faint, dreamlike recollection of what transpired.

But much like those affected by a Chronopillar, there is a serious philosophical discussion to be had regarding that lost part of us, devoured moment-by-moment, and now slowly digesting in the belly of some great, trans-dimensional worm.

Elsewhere: Smeltett


DR. HOWARD FINE: The very existence of the Smeltett has been a point of contention for millennia, with records of arguments spurred on by the sudden onset of a foul and malicious odor found in the form of rudimentary cave paintings in both Africa and central Asia.

Current research of the Smeltett leads many to believe that it is the female of the species which is responsible for the foul odor, used in an effort to attract the attention of nearby males, which are believed to be responsible for the… sound… also associated with the Smeltett.

Unsurprisingly, all major contributions to research on the Smeltett have been submitted anonymously.

Elsewhere: Wah’wazzat


DR. HOWARD FINE: I hesitate to refer to such a frightening, malicious thing that gleefully toys with its unsuspecting, isolated prey as a mere “creature,” but the Wah’wazzat is certainly one of the most elusive, deeply unsettling entities I have ever encountered.

Because the human mind is fortunately, mercifully incapable of properly processing the physical appearance of the Wah’wazzat, wouldbe victims are left to question the origin and direction of the scattered sound of skittering, rustling, and faint breathing as the Wah’wazzat closes in for the kill.

If not for the fact that the Wah’wazzat is easily and conveniently startled by so much as a quick glance in its general direction, I suspect reports of missing persons would quickly outpace the obituaries in every morning paper.

Elsewhere: Whattamadoon


DR. HOWARD FINE: The Whattamadoon itself is hardly a creature worth making note of, as its teeny-tiny, squishy, toothless body makes it incapable of causing any physical, temporal, or psychological harm to any living creature.

However. The Whattamadoon’s web is notorious for snatching up any thoughts blossoming and fluttering about one’s head as they pass through the doorway in which said web is hung.

Fortunately, walking back through the web often allows an unwitting buffet to recover whatever million-dollar idea I totally believe you had before the Whattamadoon can feast upon it.

Elsewhere: Chronopillar


DR. HOWARD FINE: The chronopillar is a ridiculous looking, but wholly frightening creature with the ability to directly interact with the very fabric of time and space.

A single, undisturbed chronopillar has been known to devour upwards of several weeks of isolated space-time, leaving victims unaware that an entire summer has literally – and not simply metaphorically – passed in a blink of an eye.

But as frightening as such an event may be, it pales in comparison to the wholesale rewriting of our timeline whenever a chronopillar survives long enough to emerge from its singularity cocoon as a fully-grown quantumfly.

Elsewhere: Hik’kappu


DR. HOWARD FINE: Commonly found in the chest cavity of mammals, the numerous needle-like appendages of a fully-matured Hik’kappu not only serve as sensory organs, but also to stimulate what was once believed to be an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm.

Some researchers believe this serves little-to-no purpose, while others claim this is an effort by the Hik’kappu to coax its host into performing a rudimentary mating call. 

However, the manner in which the Hik’kappu enters the chest cavity of a given host remains the biggest mystery of all.

Elsewhere: Moh’ko


DR. HOWARD FINE: Perhaps one of the silliest of the countless woozles and wutzits I’ve encountered over these years is the Moh’ko, a solitary, beetle-like creature whose diet consists entirely of the mucus found in the respiratory tracts of primates.

Though mostly harmless to almost all but the very young or the elderly, the Moh’ko’s insatiable hunger has seen it evolve the ability to stimulate the production of mucus by means not yet fully understood.

That said. There is little-to-no evidence to support the claim that the Moh’ko is also responsible for the actions of those individuals inclined to ingest their own mucus.

Elsewhere: Madness Worm


DR. HOWARD FINE: The larval stage of the Madhouse Fly and closely related to the Peeper Creeper, the Madness Worm is a parasite with the unique ability to mimic up to several minutes of any combination of sound it’s been exposed to, often with a preference for human music.

While originally thought to generate such sound on its own, it was recently discovered that this is merely a side-effect of the Madness Worm performing its mating dance in the ear of its host.

Thus, while it is very fortunate that the lifespan of the Madness Worm can be measured in hours, this likely means little to the poor, unfortunate soul stuck with more than a simple tune in their head.

Elsewhere: Spiter


DR. HOWARD FINE: Similar in appearance and behavior to the common skin mite, the spiter is a grotesque, but minuscule parasite that burrows into and lays eggs beneath its host’s skin. Metaphysically speaking, of course.

But rather than a nasty rash, an untreated spiter infestation frequently results in ever-increasing antisocial and self-destructive behaviors by the host.

However, several hosts possessing great strength of will have been observed to thrive when fully consumed by a nest… at least for a brief time.