SETTING: ‘TZU PRANO’S MAGICADEMY’
YEAR: approx. 2020
Sunlight from the porthole above has just started to illuminate the room. Egwene is stirring from sleep. Her bed doesn’t appear to be in a bedroom; the space is large and its periphery is dotted with closed doors. (Someone from the P.M.Plane might see it as a meeting room in a sorority’s house.)
Egwene stirs and rolls over. She is awake but remains in bed. She clutches the edge of her woolen blanket and pulls it against herself. The white cotton sheet has been tangled and lost to the floor.
Only a handful of stairs separates Egwene’s earshot from the front door. She grimaces in irritation as the sounds begin to form a pattern that will force her from bed.
(THERE IS SOMEONE AT THE DOOR.)
The person at the door is Gianna Hightower, a part-time student at the Magicademy. That is to say, she was…
Tzu canceled all classes and declared the school closed.
The students had cried out and promised every spare penny to keep the school open. They offered nurses, suggested distance learning, study groups….
But their pleas fell on deaf ears when came Tzu’s terse reply:
‘ALL CLASSES DISCONTINUED, EXPECT REFUNDS BY MAIL’
Gianna had just started study here and hope still sparkled in her eyes. Why had the school been suddenly closed? Something just didn’t sit right with her.
A brisk autumn wind pushes brittle leaves against the pavement.
Gianna pounds the frame of the door, a wooden door partially painted white and partially laquered to reveal the original wood – a medium brown just beginning to grey from age. And it is no wonder – the area around the Magicademy is cleared of treecover and the sun beats down heavily on the deck despite the early morning hour.
Gianna knocks on the door again.
GIANNA HIGHTOWER EGWENE, ARE YOU IN THERE?
Gianna looks around uneasily, right, then left. When no one is on the street, she knocks again with more urgency.
GIANNA HIGHTOWER EGWENE? ...PROFESSOR?
Egwene is finally roused from bed, in a proper state of anger, when she hears the ping of a tiny bell falling to the floor. She recognizes it immediately as a very specific tiny bricabrac she suspended on a shelf hung near the front door. The bell had a string around it, once blue, now fading to a soiled green…
but now … Gianna’s senseless pounding on the door knocked it from its resting place.
Egwene rises from the bed, her posture unable to hide the fit of rage rising. She straightens her clothes – an untidy tracksuit and a ponytail frizzy from fitful sleep. (Apparently she doesn’t bother with pajamas.)
Egwene begins to stomp toward the door, silent but burning as a bear disturbed from a merry dream. But her fugue is suspended when her careless pathing ends with an error: her foot depresses a dog’s rubber ball and it whispers its pre-squeak whistle.
Egwene stops still, lest the ball reveal her presence to the unwelcome visitor.
Gianna keeps knocking on the door. It doesn’t appear that she heard the noise from inside the house.
GIANNA HIGHTOWER EGWENE? YOU OPENING SHOP TODAY?
Egwene remains silent, one foot balanced on the ball.
A few moments pass as Gianna presumably begins to doubt that anyone is going to answer the door. A moment of hesitation and she gives up the knocking, and moves to walk alongside the house toward the kitchen door.
The side of the house has every impression of being the pride of her tender – fifty years ago. Grapevines have gone feral and choke the fence. Clusters of dry leaves have made home underneath tangled bramble. Only the most necessary path has been cut through the brittle weeds.
As Gianna pushes open a poorly secured chainlink fence, Egwene secures the squeaky ball between her fingers and allows it to take in air as silently as possible. It is back to static equilibrium; the potential dissolved. Egwene bowls the ball toward a dusty pile of dog toys in the corner of the room. What was once a center of canid activity now awaits archaeology.
Gianna seems to have little concern for stealth; she crushes sticks underfoot as she walks through the narrow garden. Again, Gianna knocks on the house. This time on a glass window to the basement.
A very specific tempo, as if code. Inside, Egwene, who has been spying through the corner of a curtained window, is ignited to pure rage at the sound of the knock.
She opens her mouth to speak, but what comes out is a bark of pure intimidation.
Gianna expects to hear a voice from inside the house respond to her knock, but what she doesn’t expect is the baritone pitch, or the volume, which has such force it frightens away some ambient idling birds.
EGWENE AL'VERE KEVIN'S NOT HERE, MAN!
Gianna’s heart sinks in fear and she runs away from the house in silent, incomprehensible panic.