// MARSCAPONE SR. RANCH //
A number of days have passed since the ordeal at the Old Goth Estate. MYRTLE MARSCAPONE, otherwise known as the White Witch, has begrudgingly taken on a new pupil, the young LUCIA EKSTROM, a princess seeking asylum.
MYRTLE is sitting in her small living room, listening to the rain and clouding the small space with cigarette smoke.
In a flash, a young man with pale skin and dark hair appears behind her. She takes another draw from her half-finished cigarette.
LUCIA IS ON HER WAY.
MYRTLE exhales, the smoke wafting toward the antiquing CRT television.
I HAD HOPED.
DO YOU WANT HIM TO STAY OR LEAVE?
LEAVE. TODAY HE HAS BETTER THINGS TO DO.
MANDARC fusses about in the kitchen. He stirs a bowl of souring fruit sitting on the counter. After this quick task is done, he steps over toward the window and peels back the curtain. Rain pours out over green lawn.
The silence is broken by MYRTLE.
MY ONLY LAMENT IS THAT I CAN’T HAVE THE GIRL SCRUB MY CAULDRON TODAY. IT NEEDS TREATMENT.
Upon the girl’s appearance, MYRTLE has rededicated herself to taking on the student. She called up one of her old accomplices and reluctantly had a new cauldron brought to what she’d regarded as her retirement home. She reflects on her failures.
MANDARC stares out the window, only able to see half the cauldron from his vantage point.
IT’S IRON. PURE. THE RAIN WILL DO IT GOOD.
The familiar roar of KEVIN’s jalopy whirs into place in front of the sidewalk.
I’M NOT READY.
SHALL I TURN THEM AWAY?
MANDARC lowers the curtain and turns toward MYRTLE, eyeing the age in her posture.
She crunches her cigarette into the melamine ashtray. It sizzles from the force.
MANDARC retrieves a black umbrella from the stand at his feet. He steps out on the porch, surprised somewhat at the strength of the wind resisting. He leaves the porch, taking the mail from the mailbox, placing it inside his jacket.
LUCIA is sitting in the passenger seat of the car. KEVIN has already crossed the engine when she turns to exit the vehicle.
The wind blows her braid as she exits.
MANDARC does not greet them, instead faces toward the door. He lowers his umbrella, leaning it against the wall of the house.
LUCIA is about to enter the porch when KEVIN holds his hand out to his side, motioning her to stop.
It appears MANDARC is dispelling a ward. While he channels, his feet raise from a the ground. A shadow flows from his person, enrobing the door in a dark energy that quickly dissipates.
MANDARC says nothing and simply enters the house, umbrella in hand.
GO. I’M NOT COMING IN TODAY.
KEVIN bids her goodbye, wordlessly, and leaves as soon as LUCIA has entered the house and closed the door behind her.
When LUCIA enters the small house, there is no sign of the dark-haired man who opened the door.
SO YOU’RE FINALLY HERE.
I’D LIKE YOU TO TELL ME A STORY TODAY. I AM SURE THAT YOUR EDUCATION HAS BEEN LACKING, BUT PERHAPS WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT.
YOU THINK OF YOURSELF AS A PRINCESS, BUT I AM SURE THAT IS ONLY AN ILLUSION.
THERE IS BUT ONE KINGDOM IN THE WORLD OF DREAM AND WE ARE ALL SERVANTS.
TELL ME THE STORY OF CINDERELLA.
MYRTLE fiddles with a pack of cigarettes, drawing a clean one from inside the blue box. She draws her right hand near her face and flicks her thumb against her first finger. A small blue and orange light appears from her thumb, and LUCIA notices her nails are trim and neat.
The cigarette crackles and lights as MYRTLE inhales.
CINDERELLA’S FATHER WAS A WIDOWER WHO REMARRIED TO A CRUEL WOMAN.
WAS SHE A PRINCESS?
IN CERTAIN RETELLINGS –
WAS SHE A PRINCESS?
LUCIA is quiet a moment, trying to glean the meaning.
NO. SHE WAS A NOBLE.
YES. THAT’S HOW I PREFER THE TALE TOO.
MYRTLE continues to smoke.
ISN’T IT FUNNY, TOO? NOT HER REAL NAME.
AFTER HER FATHER DIED, SHE WAS LEFT TO BE CARED FOR BY HER CRUEL STEPMOTHER.
HER STEPMOTHER FORCED HER TO –
YES. COOK AND CLEAN. AND SERVE.
LET’S NOT FORGET HER STEPSISTERS, WHO JOINED IN THEIR MOTHER’S CHARADE.
IN THE MODERN AGE, A YOUNG WOMAN SUCH AS YOURSELF MIGHT ASK HERSELF WHY SHE REFUSED TO FIGHT. WHY SHE DIDN’T INSTEAD CHOOSE TO RUN AWAY.
THE YOUNG MAN YOU MET IS MY FRIEND, THE VAMPIRE MANDARC. HE IS LOYAL. HE IS FULL OF KNOWLEDGE OF HIS DUTY. TODAY HE HELPS ME. TOMORROW, I HELP HIM.
TODAY HE MAKES A CAKE OF FRUIT FOR ME. HE CAN’T EAT BUT HE STILL COOKS.
IF CINDERELLA HAD LEFT, WHERE WOULD SHE HAVE GONE?
HER HAIR WAS COVERED IN DUST, THE LUSTER GONE FROM HER EYES.
I WANT YOU TO REFLECT ON DUST.
NOT THE CRUELTY OF HER STEPMOTHER, OR THE PEOPLE WHO’D HAVE REFUSED HER IF SHE’D SHOWED UP ON THEIR DOORSTEP. BUT THE DUST THAT COVERED THE DISPLACED NOBLE.
KSSSS…. MYRTLE puts out her cigarette.
CINDERELLA WAS SIMPLY A SUBJECT OF MAGIC. SHE CHANNELED WHATEVER MAGIC SHE HAD THROUGH HER ACTIONS. HER PATIENCE, HER DILIENCE, HER FAITH. BUT FAITH IS NOT ENOUGH FOR YOUR KIND.
MYRTLE stands and waits for LUCIA to fall into position.
DUST WILL SETTLE, AND YOU’LL THINK IT’S A PATTERN, BUT IT’S NOT. IT’S A FOOL’S ILLUSION.
YOU WILL LEARN TO GIVE OF YOURSELF, SURRENDER YOURSELF TO BECOME SLAVE TO THE PATTERN. YOU’LL SEE THE TRUE PATTERNS, YOU’LL LEARN TO DESPISE THE FALSE ONES. DUST WILL SETTLE, AS IT DOES, AND SOMETIMES YOU WILL BANISH IT, SOMETIMES YOU WILL EMBRACE IT.
MYRTLE leads LUCIA to a small bathroom and steps inside, leaving enough room for LUCIA to enter. She does, and with a wave of her hand, MYRTLE slams the door shut. The whiteness of the tiny room is overwhelming.
DISORGANIZATION. CHAOS. ENTROPY. WILD –
MYRTLE’s voice, already commanding, dominates the space. LUCIA stands awkwardly apart, feeling the walls close in.
Suddenly the toilet gurgles and begins to emit a foul smell. It quickly overpowers the small space but no visible filth can be seen.
LUCIA cannot help herself but to voice her disgust with a small ‘ugh…’ and moves to cover her nose with her hand.
THAT’S NOT WHERE THE SMELL COMES FROM.
MYRTLE steps into the shower and pulls the curtain closed, leaving LUCIA alone. The sound of clothes shuffling suggests MYRTLE is disrobing. The bathtub begins to fill with water.
LUCIA stands still, feeling frozen from confusion, kneels down and looks underneath the sink for cleaning supplies, trying to endure the foul odor.
There is nothing but a dry sponge underneath the sink. There is no soap.
(sound dampened by running water) LOOK HARDER.
Her next instinct is to look behind the toilet, but there is no brush.
Next she goes to the mirror, wondering if it opens. The mirror has become foggy with condensation. But something is strange about it.
She claws at the condensation, but the mirror remains foggy. She can’t see her own reflection. Her heart drops in shock.
She steps toward the mirror, in an attempt to wipe the water away, but the floor is surprisingly icy. She stumbles, slipping. She grasps toward the sink edge, but it too, is icy. Time seems to slow as she falls. Her balance lost, her head tilts backwards and her body twists out from under her.
But she is in an instant captured by a chair of shiny translucent ice. The shower curtain flings back to reveal MYRTLE, fully clothed and surrounded by the warm comfort of steam. Her hair has darkened to a deep brown and hangs dark about her face.
IT IS EASIER TO DISTURB A PATTERN THAN IT IS TO PUT IT TOGETHER. A MILLION NONSENSICAL COMBINATIONS FOR EACH PLEASING SEQUENCE.
MYRTLE steps from the bathtub, the ice slowly melting from her aura.
ORGANIZE AND YOUR ENEMIES CAN SET IT AGAINST YOU. HASTEN THE DECAY OF THE SYSTEM. WASTE NOT YOUR ENERGIES SETTING YOUR WEAKNESSES NEATLY BEFORE THEM.
The steam has distracted LUCIA from the scent, but it begins to rise again and cloud her judgement.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH CINDERELLA?
I WANT YOU TO CONDENSE THE UNPLEASING PATTERN.
LUCIA stands and looks again into the mirror, still seeing nothing.
She looks downward, a moment of shame.
WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I CALLED IT… SCRUBEROO.
A DOLL. I HAD A DOLL.
Her voice brightens as she begins to access a forgotten memory.
I USED THE DOLL’S HAIR TO CLEAN THE STAIRS. HER BLONDE HAIR FOREVER STAINED BY DUST, NO MATTER HOW MUCH I TRIED TO WASH IT OUT.
SAY THE WORDS.
I MADE THE DOLL ALWAYS PLAY THE GRANDMOTHER FROM THEN ON OUT.
LUCIA looks into the mirror, and though she cannot see her reflection, she can feel her face start to thicken, threatening tearfall.
SAY THE WORDS.
(quietly, downcast) NO… I CAN’T.
LUCIA, YOU ARE THE PATTERN, NOT THE DUST!
SAY THE WORDS!
LUCIA looks at her reflection again, yearning to see her face. The bathroom is silent, half steaming, half frozen.
She clenches her fists, remembering the doll of her childhood.
In an instant, the bathroom is void of the smell of filth. The steam and ice have disappeared and all that remains is the faint stench of cigarettes. MYRTLE is back in the living room, having another smoke.