It has begun to rain. There are Police around, now. They surround the alley, bustling about like bees in a hive. The body is covered by a sheet, surrounded by yellow tape as Officers lean around. The two Goth kids who found the body are sitting together, isolated in a back corner. The boy holds the girl as she cries. The police are wearing yellow slickers over their uniforms. A pair of surly Police stand at the opening of the alley, warding off the onlookers. The crowd is faceless, jumbled and disorganized as they swarm the tape, looking to get a glimpse at the grisly scene. James stands off to the side, a Detective is standing in front of him. James is soaked, and is looking down towards the ground, his face cast in shadow. Marigold stands slightly off to one side, soaked as well. None of the Police have offered either of them coats or umbrellas. Marigold is hugging herself, trying to keep warm in the chill rain.
NARRATION: Naturally, there are questions.
DETECTIVE: And you said you know this woman?
JAMES: No. I don’t know her. But we’ve met.
DETECTIVE: At a comic book store?
JAMES: Autograph signing. Her son or Grandson wanted me to sign his comic. She…disapproved.
NARRATION: I already know how this will go. I’ve written police scenes several times.
JAMES: She…told me off.
DETECTIVE: She told you off? And what did she say, exactly?
NARRATION: Here it comes.
JAMES: She told me I was sick, and that I was disgusting.
DETECTIVE: What kind of comic do you do?
NARRATION: It’s going to get worse.
JAMES: A horror comic. Mature readers. It’s called “The Horror”.
DETECTIVE: Yeah? What kind of Horror?
James says nothing, but points into the alley, towards the body.
JAMES: That kind.
The Detective looks at him for a moment, in silence.
DETECTIVE: I think you should come with us, Mister Lunt. To the station. Answer some more questions.
Marigold walks up, quickly.
MARIGOLD: What’s going on?
DETECTIVE(To the men at the tape): Can we keep these people back?
MARIGOLD: Hey, Mr.Tibbs, I’m a witness, remember?
MARIGOLD: My name is Marigold.
DETECTIVE: Let’s see some ID, ‘Marigold’.
Marigold hands him her wallet. He looks at it and looks back at her.
DETECTIVE: Says here your name is Esther Carmicheal.
James looks at Marigold with a smile. She looks at him and scowls.
MARIGOLD: Marigold is my middle name. There’s a pause, and then Okay, it’s not! Fine. Yes, Esther Carmicheal. But I want to know what’s going on here.
JAMES: The Detective thinks I murdered the woman in the alley. Marigold looks at him.
JAMES: Look, Esther…why don’t you just head home, and if you still want me to, I’ll call you tomorrow…
DETECTIVE: Sorry, Boss, but if your girlfriend here saw something, she’s needed at the station, too. Marigold continues to stare at James. He stares back, but offers no more information. So Mister Lunt, you come with me. Ms.Carmicheal, go with Detective Graves over there in his car. We need to ask you both some questions. Detective Graves comes and takes Marigold to his car. James watches her go a moment, and then is led into the first Detectives car.
James sits in a chair in a small room. The room has a mirror on one side, which James has clearly seen enough TV to know that it’s a two way. He is sitting at a small table. Across the table is the Detective from the alleyway who took him in.
JAMES: Detective Miller, am I under arrest? There’s a pause.
DETECTIVE: Not just yet, Mister Lunt. Unless you have something else you want to tell me.
JAMES: Not at this juncture.
DETECTIVE: Okay. Then for now, you’re a witness being interviewed.
JAMES: I already told you everything I know, Detective Miller. The woman screamed at me in the store. I don’t know anything about her other than that. I think she said her son or whatever’s name was Tommy or something. I don’t know who she is.
DETECTIVE: Right. And then you went out for a drink, and went home that night. What did you do then?
JAMES: I worked. I wrote a scene or two, drew a few pages, and then went to bed. The next day I worked some more, went out for a drink, met Esther…
DETECTIVE: So you don’t know her?
JAMES: I don’t, no. I had just met her tonight. She came up to at the bar.
DETECTIVE: What bar?
JAMES: Smokey Pete’s Irish Pub. It’s uptown.
DETECTIVE: Whose idea was it to go to the little Vampire party?
JAMES: Marigolds’. I mean, Esthers’. I was leaving when we heard the two kids in the alley scream, went to see if they were okay. I look down, and there’s a dead woman I met the day before.
DETECTIVE: Do you have any other hobbies, Mister Lunt? Do you…hunt, anything like that?
JAMES: No. My parents did, when I was little. Well, my Father and Brother did. I’m the artist.
The Detective takes notes as the conversation progresses. James begins to feel hot, and trapped- edgier and edgier.
JAMES: Detective Miller, it’s very late. I’d really like to get some sleep. I don’t know how else I can be helpful to you.
DETECTIVE: Well, Mister Lunt…a woman yells at you in front of a bunch of people, insulting your lively-hood and then ends up brutally murdered in an alley you happened to be a few feet from.
JAMES: Yes, it looks suspicious, I’ll give you that. But really, unless you plan to charge me, I can’t see anything else I can do for you.
The Detective looks long and hard at James. He looks at his notes, and then back at James.
DETECTIVE: Okay, you’re free to go. But you tell me if you need to leave town. And you call me at this number (Slides a card across the table) if you remember anything else.
JAMES: I will.
In the lobby is a very wet and very angry Marigold. She is sitting, legs crossed, bobbing her foot impatiently. James walks out, putting his coat on. She gets up in a hurry, facing him.
MARIGOLD: Did you kill her? James looks at her a moment.
JAMES: Not that I know of. Why are you still here?
MARIGOLD: Because…I was worried.
JAMES: You don’t know me, Esther.
JAMES: Right. Well, you don’t know me. Why are you worried? Seems to me I’m a pretty convenient suspect, and you don’t know otherwise.
MARIGOLD: Sure I do. I can see it. You’re not a killer.
JAMES: No? I write it pretty well.
Marigold is silent to that for a moment, her eyes downcast. Then she looks up at him.
MARIGOLD: I’ve never seen a dead body before. Have you?
A flash in his head of a woman being eaten by a female creature comes to him for a moment, and then is gone.
JAMES: No. No, I never have.
James once again sits at his desk, drawing furiously. His hair has unraveled even more, pressing against his forehead with perspiration. The first half of his buttons are undone on his shirt, and his hands are darkened with pencil lead.
NARRATION: Working again. It seems wrong somehow, given what I’ve seen and heard tonight…but I can’t stop myself. I need to work. I’m driven tonight, almost feverish. Or worse…crazed.
He continues to scribble, unaware that he’s beginning to make grunting noises as he goes, his hand moving furiously, lightning fast. The pencil scrapes loudly against paper.
And then, black.
NARRATION: Power outage?
He hears a noise in the dark, a scraping sound not unlike his pencil touching the paper. But this is happening rhythmically, patterened, like clawed feet against the hardwood floors of his apartment.
Light then, dim light, like a candle glowing in the dark. It illuminates the room slightly, and he sees one of them again.
This one is taller than the others he has seen. It’s hair is longer, it’s claws more curved, looking like scicles rather than claws. It’s long, horrid toes scrape across the floor. It’s grin is even wider than the others. It’s teeth are horribly, horribly sharp.
JAMES: Not again. No…you’re not there.
He turns to his drawing desk, but the paper is empty now. He turns rapidly, staring at the beast before him with wide, frightened eyes. It grins knowingly- this one seems intelligent. It’s eyes regard him, coolly. He now can see that this one is male, as well…it’s enormous penis pokes accusingly at him.
JAMES: Please…whatever you are, whatever you’re doing…leave me alone. I don’t want you here.
The creature places a long claw to it’s non-exsistent lips. James stares at him, and he stares right back. There is a tense silent, as Master and servant stare at each other. But who knows which is which?
Clearly, The Beast does.
BEAST(softly): You…. It steps forever, towards him. James leaps from his chair, backing against the wall.
JAMES: W-what?! What is it?! GODDAM YOU, WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!
JAMES(anguished, and near tears): I don’t know what you mean. Please, just go away…
BEAST(with effort, as if expression is something new, untested- an experiment): Creator. You…free…us.
JAMES: Creator? You mean…I made you? The Beast seemingly shrugs. It’s grin becomes wider. But…you’re just fiction. I made you up for stories. Just things that live under the ground and come up to eat people. That’s it. You don’t want anything else.
The Beast steps forward again, and again. James shrinks further against the wall, thudding against it. He begins to side-step away as the beast steps closer and closer to the writing desk. It arrives at the desk, and taps the white paper with it’s grotesque finger.
BEAST: We…are…trapped. Here. Free. Us.
JAMES(shaking his head furiously): I can’t! You’re not real.
Suddenly, in a heartbeat, the creature is on him, pinning him to a wall. It’s fetid breath washes over his face, as he shuts his eyes and slams his head against the wall, as if he would push the wall backwards away from this monster. It’s long fingers crack into the wall around his head, like spider’s legs. It’s face is close, intimate, like a lover. It smells him, it’s horrid nostrils flaring as it takes in his scent.
BEAST: We are…inside, Creator. You…let us…kill. For you.
JAMES(with effort, panicked): Not real! Just…characters. They’re not real. I don’t want you to kill anyone. Not for real.
BEAST: We kill. For you. We eat. For you. It sticks a horrid black tounge out, licking up his adams apple. We…want to eat. For Usssss. Free Us.
JAMES: I…I can’t…
The Creatures claws rap into the wall rhythmically, sounding like knocking.
AMON(from outside): James?! Hey, what the fuck are you doing in there?
James is standing alone in his apartment, next to his desk. He looks at the wall, there are no marks. He looks back at his drawings, ignoring the pounding on the door from his friend, and sees the beast is back where it belongs, sketched out on a white plane. He turns and looks, and then lunges for the door, opening it.
Amon stands there, his hand raised for another barrage of knocking. He looks James up and down.
AMON: You got a girl in there? You look like you’ve had the wildest sex a man could have.
JAMES(fiercly): What is it?
Amon looks taken aback, looking up at James.
AMON: Came by to see how you were feeling…I was wondering if you came up with vacation plans or anything yet…you were so screwed up yesterday, I’m sad to say I was actually worried.
JAMES(calming himself): Look, I’m sorry…I just, uh, I guess I nodded off at my desk. Had a nightmare. Amon’s frown increases, his brow furrows.
AMON(looking James up and down): Some nightmare… was a girl biting off your pecker in it? I had that one once. Couldn’t sleep for weeks…
JAMES(sits down on his bed, looking at Amon. He looks sick; his skin is pale, his eyes red and wide. He puts his head down in his hands): You ever think you’re cracking up, Amon? Like, really?
AMON(pulling a chair up): Uh…well, no. I mean, sometimes you think you’re losing your mind; you forget shit, stuff like that. But I’ve never been, y’know…psycho or whatever. Nervously. Uh…why do you ask?
JAMES: I just…look, I have no idea why I’m telling you this…but I’ve been seeing things. Like…the things I draw. In alleys and…well, just places.
JAMES: And…that old woman? The one from the comic shop? She’s dead, Amon. Someone killed her.
AMON(now even more nervous, talking really fast): Probably some other horror writer with a grudge. Everyone’s a critic. Y’know, I had this critic call this one book I did about a talking dog blasphemous. Ruined the sales on it. Wish I could have had a minute alone with that assmunch. Know what I’d do with that-
JAMES: Amon! I’m serious! Christ, I was there when they found the fucking body! He gets up from the bed, and begins to pace. Behind him, Amon is looking apprehensive. He begins to edge further towards the edge of the chair. I mean…and this is ridiculous…but what if they’re really real, and they’re…I dunno…killing people I don’t like? Amon gets up and walks over to the desk. Amon, you listening to me? I need your help, here…
AMON(looking at the desktop, he says it quietly, conspiratorially): Jimmy, come look at this.
James comes closer, and stands next to Amon. He looks down at the desk, and sees what he had been drawing. It’s the old woman, being chased down by the beast. It catches her, biting into savagely. He tears out her throat, blood gushing from the wound. Amon taps a finger at it.
AMON(a little relieved, but a little skeptical): See? THIS is all it is, man. The woman just got to you more than you thought is all. So you did a little therapeutic drawing of the bitch getting her shit ruined.
JAMES: I dunno…
AMON(feeling more sure of himself now, but still shaky): Sure, dude! You were just drawing, and then you fell asleep. See? He turns the pages, and shows some cops talking to a man that looks a little like James. Looks like you’re even adding some film noir to it. Actually… he looks closer. This may be some of the best shit you’ve even done. This detail is amazing. Wow… He turns back to James. See, it’s all in that batshit crazy brain of yours. You’re just so worked up and overworked all at once. C’mon, let’s get a drink, you’re buying.
JAMES: I thought in this case, you’d say “I’m buying”?
AMON: You’re buying? Great idea.