PIDGE-ADMIN//

open chat @01:24 PM

MYRTLE//

Kevin, where are you?

KEVIN//

I'm at the lab, why?

MYRTLE//

One of my students is here, looking for someone.

We attempted to scry for her but I didn't like what I saw.

KEVIN//

What foci did you use?

CEDRIC//

The yearbook.

KEVIN//

The yearbook? That's all you had?

MYRTLE//

That's all we had.

CEDRIC//

If they truly want to continue on this fool's errand, I suggested they should bring in the Master.

KEVIN//

Well that certainly would provide a certain clairvoyance.

MYRTLE//

Are you in the middle of something?

KEVIN//

Nothing important. Just working overtime.

It'll take me a while to get over there.

MYRTLE//

We can wait.

close chat @01:36 PM


// MARSCAPONE SCHOOL OF MAGIC //

The drive from FutureSim to Queens is mostly uneventful. A few nutsos but nothing out of the ordinary. Finally, he reaches his destination.

VINCENT//

Ah, yes, the homestead.

Your mother had quite the time, in those days, acquiring the loan.

'Aren't you married, young lady?'

'Shouldn't your husband co-sign?'

'Don't you want your husband's name on this?'

to which she responded,

'My husband's name IS on this!'

KEVIN

(thinking) Mother was quite the go-getter.

KEVIN is in the process of parallel-parking the car.

VINCENT//

There were plenty of brokers in the city that worked primarily with magic folk.

But your mother wanted to go legit; no middle-man.

KEVIN

(thinking) Dangerous. What with her weakness for lay-text.

VINCENT//

You're telling me.

KEVIN

(thinking) I wonder how many seats I need.

He eyes the driveway to the auxiliary units.

VINCENT//

Don't go without Henry.

This would be good for him.

KEVIN

(thinking) He’s afraid of Straud.

VINCENT//

As well he should be.

KEVIN removes a set of keys from his pocket. In a moment, the front door to his mother’s academy is unlocked.

The entrance and parlor are empty.

KEVIN

(yelling) MOTHER!

VINCENT//

George Henry is hiding.

Fetch him.

A familiar face hangs down the upper landing.

CEDRIC

KEV.

DON’T BOTHER TAKING OFF YOUR SHOES; WE GOTTA GET THE VAN.

KEVIN

I FIGURED AS MUCH.

CEDRIC comes downstairs and slips his shoes back on.

Once they are outside, CEDRIC spills the beans.

The weather is calm and sunny.

CEDRIC

IT’S ONE OF OUR DEARLY DEPARTED CLASSMATES.

LARRY.

KEVIN

POTTER? WHAT’S HE NEED?

CEDRIC

HIS LITTLE GIRLFRIEND HAS GONE M.I.A.

KEVIN

HERMIONE?

CEDRIC

YEAH.

KEVIN

MOM SAID YOU GUYS SCRIED FOR HER?

CEDRIC smooths his hair.

CEDRIC

YEAH AND NO DICE.

KEVIN sighs, but tries to restrain his disappointment.

KEVIN

NOT TERRIBLY SURPRISING IF ALL YOU HAD TO GO BY WAS THE YEARBOOK.

KEVIN unlocks the gate to the driveway of the left units.

KEVIN

KEYS TO THE MONSTROSITY ARE INSIDE?

KEVIN, of course, refers to a large, black, high-walled van owned by the MARSCAPONES.

CEDRIC

YEAH, HANGING ON THE PEG.

KEVIN

AIGHT. I’LL BE RIGHT BACK.

KEVIN goes in the side entrance of the complex, nabs the keys from the nearby hook, and returns to the outdoors. On the ring is an oversized barcode fob for the local pet store.

He raises his hand with his own set of keys in hand. CEDRIC reaches forward to receive the intended drop. It lands, secure.

The pair perform a sort of round-robin wherein KEVIN runs the van out of the driveway and CEDRIC replaces it with KEVIN’s teal jalopy. CEDRIC relocks the door to the driveway and meets KEVIN in front of the MARSCAPONE HOUSE, where he’s parked the dark van. KEVIN passes the keys back to KEVIN.

CEDRIC

YOU OKAY DRIVIN’ THIS THING?

KEVIN

LIKE BUTTER.

CEDRIC laughs lightly, almost a scoff.

CEDRIC

TO EACH HIS OWN.

They reenter the house. Still, the entry is quiet; it’s not immediately apparent where the guests are.

KEVIN speaks quietly, for only CEDRIC to hear.

KEVIN

SO.

POTTER, HUH.

CEDRIC

YEAH, POTTER.

KEVIN

WHAT’S HE UP TO THESE DAYS?

CEDRIC

I DON’T KNOW. DIDN’T ASK.

KEVIN

WHERE’S G.H.?

CEDRIC

SLEEPIN’. LIKE A FOOL.

KEVIN

COULD YOU DO THE HONORS?

CEDRIC

MY PLEASURE.

CEDRIC leaves and heads to the basement. It is up to KEVIN to find his mother and her guest.

VINCENT//

She always loved the library.

KEVIN

(thinking) But I don’t hear any noise from the landing.

KEVIN goes up to the second floor but no one is around. The record player echoes some sort of pop melody.

KEVIN

MOTHER! WHERE ARE YOU?

But there is no response.

He ascends to the third floor, quietly, slowly, carefully.

There is his mother, trolling the (w)IntraNet. Lurking.

KEVIN

MOTHER?

She jumps and looks toward his voice.

MYRTLE

KEVIN! HELLO!

His expression calms.

KEVIN

EY, MA.

She double-checks the computer screen.

MYRTLE

YOU MADE GOOD TIME, DIDN’T YOU?

KEVIN laughs a bit, shrugs.

KEVIN

YOU KNOW ME: ALWAYS SPEEDING.

MYRTLE

WELL YOU ALWAYS KEEP SAFE.

GOOD, GOOD, GLAD TO SEE YOU.

KEVIN

WHERE’S LARRY?

MYRTLE

OH GEEZ, I LOST TRACK OF HIM. YOU SURE HE’S NOT IN THE LIBRARY?

KEVIN

I JUST PASSED THROUGH…

MYRTLE

RIGHT.

WELL LET’S GO FIND THE LITTLE BUGGER.

The pair descend the stairs. KEVIN lets his mother go first. When she gets to the bottom of the stairs, she looks about.

MYRTLE

NO, CERTAINLY NOT HERE.

They pass through two more floors until they are in the basement. LARRY is there, at a computer station, browsing a popular forum-style website on the Internet.

He hears the two step into the lair and looks around to greet them.

LARRY

…KEVIN…. HI.

KEVIN

LARRY. SALUTATIONS.

LARRY

AND… SAME TO YOU.

The conversation hangs for a moment until MYRTLE breaks the silence.

MYRTLE

LARRY IS TRYING TO LOCATE HIS CLASSMATE.

KEVIN

HERMIONE.

LARRY

YES.

KEVIN

CEDRIC TOLD ME.

LISTEN. WE GOTTA GET ON THE ROAD IF WE’RE GONNA MAKE IT IN ANY DECENT TIME.

LARRY

YOU’RE WORKING AT FUTURESIM?

KEVIN

(with pause) FOR NOW.

LARRY

WE’RE SEEKING THE SERVICES OF A HOLY MAN?

KEVIN

IN A MANNER OF SPEAKING.

CEDRIC comes out of the doorway at the end of the hallway.

CEDRIC

G.H. IS GETTING AROUND. HE’LL BE OUT IN A FEW.

MYRTLE desires to provide additional background to the uninformed.

MYRTLE

LARRY, I HOPE YOU DON’T MIND. AN ASSOCIATE OF MY LATE HUSBAND WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND THE SÉANCE.

KEVIN

CAR SEATS SEVEN COMFORTABLY SO WE SHOULD BE FINE.

(to LARRY) WHEN’S THE LAST YOU HEARD FROM HERMIONE?

LARRY

FEW YEARS AGO WE MET UP FOR COFFEE IN THE CITY.

KEVIN

THAT’S NOT MUCH TO GO ON.

VINCENT//

Certainly not.

KEVIN

WELL, WE’LL WORK WITH IT. WE’RE GOING TO VISIT THE VAMPIRE VLADISLAUS STRAUD.

LARRY

STRAUD?

CEDRIC

VLADISLAUS STRAUD. COUNT. THE FOURTH.

LARRY seems unnerved.

LARRY

…THIS… NEARBY?

KEVIN

THE COUNT LIVES IN JAMAICA ESTATES.

CEDRIC

AND THANK GOD YOU AIN’T DRIVIN’.

LARRY flashes an indignant look at CEDRIC.

MYRTLE

WHY DON’T WE ALL GET IN THE CAR? I’M SURE G.H. WILL BE READY MOMENTARILY.

LARRY, MYRTLE head upstairs. CEDRIC, KEVIN stand in the basement, wordless for a few moments.

GEORGE HENRY emerges from his sanctuary. He is clad in a jacket and dockers. His orange hair is tied into a bun.

G.H.

(to KEVIN, bowing) CONJURER.

…STRAUD’S?

CEDRIC

YEP.

G.H.

OKEE DOKIE.

~ ~ ~

In the car are five people. KEVIN drives, CEDRIC rides shotgun. MYRTLE takes the middle bench by her lonesome. LARRY, G.H. sit as far as possible from each other in the backseat.

KEVIN

ANYONE HAVE ANY REQUESTS FOR THE RADIO?

IT’S NOT A SHORT RIDE.

The car is silent, each contemplating his own dilemma.

After a moment of indecision,

CEDRIC

JUST PUT IT ON THE ALTERNATIVE TRASH.

but G.H. pipes up.

G.H.

THEY PLAY TOO MANY COMMERCIALS.

‘TWO MINUTE PROMISE’, MY ASS.

VINCENT//

He's not wrong.

The car is silent for a few choice moments before LARRY speaks up.

LARRY

MY PHONE’S GOT BLUETOOTH.

KEVIN

GO AHEAD. I’LL KEY YOU IN FROM UP HERE.

The group proceeds to listen to a procession of girl bands while they move across Queens.

~ ~ ~

// STRAUD MANSION //

When they reach the STRAUD MANSION, the sun is threatening to set in the sky. The huge stone structure stands monolithic against the impending sunset.

KEVIN drives up the carpark and secures the vehicle just barely catty-corner. The engine goes to silence, begging the passengers to exit the van.

SLAM.
SLAM...
...SLAM.

And soon the five are collected outside the dark, high-walled van.

KEVIN is the first to approach the door. He knocks. A moment passes. MYRTLE, LARRY, G.H. still collected, scattered about the carpark.

A young man with pale skin and a tossle of dark hair answers the door.

KEVIN

MANDARC. GREETINGS. WE’RE HERE TO SEE THE MASTER.

MANDARC

HE’S AVAILABLE. ALLOW ME A MOMENT TO FETCH HIM.

PLEASE, COME IN.

The inside of the mansion is darkly colored and severe. Stone gargoyles line the entrance. MANDARC has disappeared. The party of five stands awkwardly in the entrance.

MYRTLE

WELL.

IT’S ABOUT DINNER-TIME AND I DOUBT MY GOOD FRIEND HAS A TURKEY PREPARED.

PLEASE, POTTER, COME INTO THE KITCHEN AND I’LL FIX A LITTLE RESPITE FOR US.

LARRY is cautious. CEDRIC has left the foyer and sits at the pipe organ in the parlor. KEVIN takes up the place to his right, at a far more modern piano.

MYRTLE goes into the dining room and prepares to summon a feast at the table.

She raises her hands and waves them about, tiny sparks flying about as she recites the words.

MYRTLE

OUR FATHER, WHICH ART IN HEAVEN.

HALLOWED BE THY NAME.

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES.

FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, THE POWER, AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER AND EVER.

AMEN.

As she completes the prayer, she flicks her wrist and all the makings of a fine dinner clutter the table.

CEDRIC soon joins the party, leaning up against the doorway, arms crossed, watching LARRY, MYRTLE enjoy the feast.

~ ~ ~

They are nearly done eating when the smell of wet tar fills the air. KEVIN gets up from the piano.

STRAUD materializes in the doorway.

STRAUD

WELCOME TO MY ABODE.

LARRY still has a face full of food, desperately trying to swallow when he sees he’s being greeted.

MYRTLE takes it upon herself to try to help him out.

MYRTLE

(gesturing) MY STUDENT, LARRY.

POTTER.

He struggles to quickly chew his food and down a gulp of water –

CEDRIC

MY… CLASSMATE.

LARRY collects himself.

LARRY

WELL YOU WERE A FEW YEARS AHEAD OF ME, UPPERCLASSMAN.

CEDRIC

INDEED.

No one seems to have taken notice of the silent entrance of the house’s butler.

MANDARC

MY MASTER HEARS THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR ANSWERS FROM THE GREAT BEYOND.

He stands behind the freshly recomposed Elder. KEVIN soon follows, standing behind them, but in earshot, in the hallway.

LARRY

YES… MY FRIEND HAS GONE MISSING.

MYRTLE

(interrupting) A FORMER STUDENT OF MINE, THE YOUNG HERMIONE GRANGER.

STRAUD

HERMIONE… ‘GRANGER’.

As if to try to qualify the information, MYRTLE speaks with surprising vigor.

MYRTLE

SHE WAS A STUDENT OF MINE, JUST A FEW YEARS OLDER THAN LARRY HERE.

HER PARENTAGE WAS NON-MAGICAL, AN ORPHAN, LIKE SO MANY OF MINE.

CEDRIC

‘I’ SUSPECT SHE’S MUDDLED IN MAGICS BEYOND HER UNDERSTANDING.

STRAUD

…KEVIN?

KEVIN

WELL, SIR. I CAN’T SAY I WAS TOO CLOSE WITH THE YOUNG WITCH BUT SHE WAS INDEED ONE OF MY MOTHER’S STUDENTS.

AS FOR HER GENERAL APPROACH, QUITE HONESTLY I CANNOT COMMENT.

BUT SHE WAS ALWAYS KIND TO ME.

STRAUD

…VERY WELL.

YOU WANT TO KNOW IF SHE YET LIVES?

CEDRIC

OR IF SHE’S CAUGHT ON SOME DISTANT PLANE.

STRAUD

SHE WAS A PLANESWALKER?

MYRTLE

NOT HABITUALLY. BUT I DO THINK SHE WAS MORE THAN CAPABLE.

MANDARC

SHALL I SET UP THE TABLE, PROFESSOR?

STRAUD

INDEED.

WE’LL NEED TWO ADDITIONAL CHAIRS.

NO. THREE.

MANDARC

THREE, SIR?

STRAUD pauses and looks toward the young vampire, looking him up and down.

STRAUD

YES, MANDARC. I THINK IT WOULD BE GOOD FOR YOU TO BE IN ATTENDANCE.

MANDARC

UH… SIR…

STRAUD

IF CEDRIC CAN SIT THROUGH THIS SCHLOCK, SURELY YOU CAN MANAGE IT.

Embarrassed, MANDARC acquieses. He disappears.

STRAUD turns toward the remaining in attendance.

STRAUD

YOU DO REALIZE THAT IF I SPEAK TO MY GODS THAT I AM TALKING TO ‘MY’ GODS.

NOT YOURS.

THAT DOESN’T CHANGE THE VERITY OF THE DIVINATION BUT IT DOES COLOR THE RESPONSE.

MYRTLE

WE TRIED TO SCRY FOR ANSWERS IN MY REALM. BUT WE RECEIVED NO SATISFACTORY ANSWER.

STRAUD

AND IT’S IMPERATIVE THAT YOU CONDUCT THIS RITUAL?

LARRY

YES, SIR!

IT IS!

The party focuses their attention upon the young upstart.

MY FRIEND IS MISSING!

STRAUD’s demeanor toward the young wizard is kindly, if somewhat pandering.

STRAUD

AND I ASSUME YOUR LETTERS HAVE GONE UNANSWERED?

LARRY goes silent, embarrassed.

LARRY

YES… SIR.

STRAUD takes pause, looking at each of his guests.

Then he turns a gaze of disgust upon the bird’s corpse neatly garnished upon his table. He sneers.

STRAUD

WE’LL BEGIN THE RITUAL SHORTLY AFTER YOU HAVE FINISHED YOUR EVENING REPAST.

The moments pass by agonizingly. STRAUD retreats into his parlor. Finally MYRTLE, LARRY, KEVIN clean the table.

~ ~ ~

STRAUD

I HOPE EVERYONE IS SATIATED.

MY MAN HAS PREPARED THE RITUAL SPACE. BUT LET US ALLOW FOR A BIT OF A DIGESTIF.

KEVIN

(to LARRY) THE PROFESSOR COMMONLY PREFERS A MOMENT OF MUSIC POST-DINNER.

He looks around at the room and notes a violin sitting upon a stand next to a plush couch.

LARRY

(to KEVIN, quietly) I… UH… DON’T KNOW HOW TO PLAY.

STRAUD

THEN YOU WILL PERMIT YOURSELF TO BE ENTERTAINED BY ME AND MY FRIENDS.

~ ~ ~

The sun is just setting when the music-making concludes. STRAUD gets up from his seat at the parlor’s pipe organ.

STRAUD

MANDARC HAS BEEN WAITING LONG ENOUGH FOR US. I SUGGEST WE RETIRE TO THE OBSERVATORY.

The six slowly file upstairs, past the floor of bedrooms.

On the third floor is a small table with a crystal sphere set in its center. MANDARC stands off to one side, attempting to play steward to the guests.

The table is dwarfed by the seven chair clamoured around it. The primary four all match, but two folding chairs and a strange wooden chair make the contrast.

STRAUD

IT’S GOING TO BE A BIT OF A TIGHT SQUEEZE, BUT I THINK WE CAN FIT SEVEN AROUND THE TABLE.

MANDARC

SIR?

STRAUD

YES, MANDARC?

As if he’s put his foot in his mouth, he’s reserved.

MANDARC

OH, UH… NOTHING, SIR.

The seven file in toward the chairs. STRAUD stands while the rest find their seat.

KEVIN is the first to sit. CEDRIC, MYRTLE follow quickly after. GEORGE HENRY takes one of the folding chairs, as does LARRY POTTER.

MANDARC takes the back of a chair in his hands and stands until his Master approaches the dais.