SETTING: ‘TZU PRANO’S MAGICADEMY’
YEAR: approx. 2020, autumn

~

Egwene is face-down on a floor done in wooden panels. She had been sleeping, but not anymore.

At first, the floor appears normal enough, and she’s tired, but when she lifts her head and begins to look around, the floor has no walls, no ceiling…

Fear chills her body. Uncertainty teases emotions from storage. Where am –

ARF!


But it’s not an ‘arf’ or ‘woof’ or any ‘word’. It’s a guttoral emptying of the lung, a bullet of sound-waves, but more precisely, a bark of intimidation. – and it works.

Egwene is paralyzed when she hears the sound. It’s just a dog. Just like the pups Mom used to keep. .. ….

But despite her best attempts at bravery, this sound is not made by any animal ‘mother used to keep’.

The beast doesn’t bark again, but instead releases its jaw as it breaks into a run toward Egwene, who is struggling to raise herself from the throes of sleep’s haze.

The animal closes its mouth to moisten its tongue in a sickening set of splats.

Finally, Egwene gets the creature in the eyes, dark and feral. It is more tooth than treatise. More saliva than substance.

But the tongue remains, aloft and eager to feed. Egwene struggles to concentrate, but chitters the beginning of a defensive spell.

EGWENE AL'VERE

IN-FERN--

She never finishes the incantation, but her fear begins to dissipate when her attacker stops moving. As one might say, ‘as if time itself stopped’.

The beast’s hair is black and waxy, teeth smooth and glistening, more ivory than incisor.

The beast is no more real than her fevered dream.

KEVIN MARSCAPONE (YOUNG)

NOT A DOG.

Egwene looks around, warmed for a moment by the memory of family. But he’s not here. (No surprise… I’ve been dreaming of little brother a lot lately–)

KEVIN MARSCAPONE (YOUNG)

I'M NOT YOUR LITTLE BROTHER.

The dreamscape changes suddenly, and Egwene is sitting cross-legged on the floor of a bedroom she recognizes. The finely detailed carpentry, the handmade bookshelves, her mother’s quilt…

She’s in Kevin’s bedroom. But the curtains are pushed aside – the intense midday blue pours over the tidy room. Behind her the door squeaks. When she sees the form of her little brother, eight-or-nine-or-so, she tries to make eye contact, but the embers of embarrassment toast her cheeks.

KEVIN MARSCAPONE (YOUNG)

'TARG'. <i>'TARG'</i> 'T'. 'A'. --

He forms the letters with exaggerated vocal serif. Egwene sits still on the floor, stupified.

KEVIN MARSCAPONE (YOUNG)

'R'... (pause) YOU KNOW WHAT? FORGET THIS. 
EGWENE AL'VERE

(suddenly repentent) NO... NO, PLEASE....
KEVIN MARSCAPONE (YOUNG)

NO, EGWENE. 'YOU': 'NO'. I'M TIRED OF THE BEGGING, I'M TIRED OF THE BULLSHIT.
EGWENE AL'VERE

KEVIN...
KEVIN MARSCAPONE (YOUNG)

IT'S IN THE MONSTER MANUAL, EGWENE. YOUR BOOK. THE BOOK YOU GAVE TO ME. I DIDN'T MAKE IT UP.
EGWENE AL'VERE

(heavy silence)
KEVIN MARSCAPONE (YOUNG)

'TARG'. NOT 'DOG'. NOT 'PANTHER'. 'TARG'. DO WE NEED TO --

Seized with sudden indignant energy, Egwene rushes to her feet and retrieves the afore-mentioned tome from the shelf. She is about to open it and flip through the alphabetical entries when – SHFFFT! Kevin punches the book and it falls from her hands, landing closed on the floor.

KEVIN MARSCAPONE (YOUNG)

WHAT, YOU DON'T TRUST ME?

Finally the two make eye contact. He is four foot tall but his eyes burn with an intensity Egwene associates with his older self, as he had appeared in the last few years he dwelled in his basement room… just as his hair had started to fade…

The curtains are closed. Egwene looks down at the tattered book. She opens to the first white paper and the rest of the room seems to fade into darkness.

Penned in a child’s unwieldy cursive, are the letters as follows. Egwene reads them out-loud, pointing to each letter with her right first-finger.

EGWENE AL'VERE

A. E. G. W. (pause)

It’s her name, but it’s as Kevin used to mispell it. THE LETTER ‘A’ SAYS ITS NAME: ‘A’. ‘A’. ‘A-GWAIN’. Strange words cloud her brain, assaulting her self-possession as might the smell of sulphur. DiSLEX–

But it seems unimportant now.

KEVIN MARSCAPONE (YOUNG)

I DIDN'T WRITE THAT. 

She looks down at the forms. The letters join mechanically, lawfully, but awkwardly; the effort at cursive a superficial obfuscation of the printed letters. A style for which no one had asked, but she had, regardless, performed. But it was legible, and she felt a tiny twinge of pride reflecting on her consistent inclination toward neatness and clarity, here documented to exist in her person at a highly precocious age.

All thought suddenly leaves this dreamscape as she snaps awake – the targ reappearing invisibly, its vicious SNARL roaring, rather, reverberating through her skull.

Again the sun has risen,
Again the eye is uncov'r-èd,
So riseth Aegwain(e).