FUGUE ROBERT E G BLACK Black. Off center the title fades in then fades away. FADE IN Night.

Los Angeles from the air. CUT TO EXT – DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - ALLEY – NIGHT A young woman comes down the alley: PERSY, late teens, thin but not frail, blonde hair. She wears a plain white dress, a little dirty, maybe a little old fashioned. She looks around. She is rather amazed by what she sees like she is not familiar with cars or high rise buildings. She reaches the street and looks back down the alley. A HOMELESS MAN sleeps against one wall. He is so dirty that he is barely distinguishable from the rest of the alley. PERSY steps on a newspaper, trash on the sidewalk. She glances down at it. Atop a nearby light post, a traffic camera moves. The light below it turns red. There are only a handful of cars. It is very late at night and the city is mostly asleep. Persy eyes the walk signal for a moment. It is one of those figures of a person walking, no words. She heads out into the crosswalk. A car hits her, abrupt, out of nowhere. Persy is knocked down, hard, hitting her head on the concrete. Close on her as her eyes flutter and close.

2

CUT TO EXT – FIELD - DAY A male, white horse, QUIET CRIER, is running in a field. He slows as he gets closer to us, then he stops. He looks at us and he speaks. QUIET CRIER Wake up, Persy. CUT TO EXT – DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - STREET - NIGHT Persy’s eyes open and she sits up suddenly. PETER, a man in his twenties, is crouched down next to her. PETER Are you alright? You shouldn’t— Persy starts to get up. PETER You probably shouldn’t get up. I called for an ambulance. I was… You had me scared for a minute there. I thought you were dead. Persy looks at him, confused. She puts a hand to the back of her head. PETER You hit your head pretty hard there. Persy brings her hand down. There is blood on it. PETER Miss, Just sit tight. The ambulance will be here… He looks down the road. There are hardly any cars and definitely no ambulance in sight. He looks at Persy. She looks at him. She is beautiful and it is right about now that Peter notices that.

3

PETER Um, they’ll be here soon. You hurt anywhere else? I mean, I know I wasn’t going that fast—piece of shit car’s dying on me—but, are you ok? Persy nods, but she looks like she is not sure if she is hurt or not. Peter looks around as a car speeds by the two of them, honking its horn. Someone inside yells something like GET OUT OF THE ROAD. Peter looks at Persy again. PETER I’m sorry I— She just looks at him. PETER I didn’t… You sure you’re ok, Miss? Persy nods but, after a second, that nod is a shaking of her head. PETER Miss… What’s your name? QUIET CRIER (V.O.) Wake up, Persy. PERSY Persy. PETER Hi, Persy. I’m Peter, the guy that just hit you. Persy pulls away from him a little. PETER I didn’t mean… I just… I didn’t expect anybody to be around here this late. This street’s usually pretty damn empty when I get off work. Persy looks around. PERSY

4

You work about thisplace? Peter nods. PETER Big building over there. I’m just temping right now, but someone in personnel told me they wanted to make it permanent. Persy does not have any idea what he is talking about. PETER You sure you’re ok? PERSY I am ok. I just… I cannot… PETER Can’t what? PERSY Where am I? Peter looks concerned, worried even. PETER You don’t know where you are? Persy looks around. She looks up at the tall buildings. PERSY I have never… I have never been thisplace fore. PETER It’s ok. It’s just downtown. He looks around. PETER Where’d you come from? You have any idea how you got here? Persy shakes her head. PETER You knew your name, though. So, it’s not amnesia or something, right? I mean, you said you were ok. PERSY

5

I do not know. The horse… PETER The horse? Oh god, you’ve like lost your mind or something. You hit your head and now you’re going crazy, and it’s all my fault. PERSY Calm down. I am ok. I just… I cannot remember how I got to thisplace. This is downtown? What city? PETER Los Angeles. PERSY I have heard of it. PETER Heard of? It’s Los Angeles. L.A. It’s… Where are you from? Persy thinks for a second. PERSY I am not sure. PETER Shit. I’m— SIREN in the distance. An ambulance approaches and stops by them. Two paramedics get out. PETER She came out of nowhere. She… Is she going to be ok? The first paramedic, BENNY, kneels down by Persy. The second paramedic, LES, goes to Peter as Benny talks to Persy. BENNY (smiling) Hi, my name’s Benny. What’s yours? PERSY Persy. BENNY

6

Well, Persy, looks like you took a good hit here. Can you tell me where it hurts? Persy looks down at herself. On her bare arms and legs are numerous scrapes, nothing too serious. PERSY I guess it is just my head. These are not too bad. BENNY You hit your head? Persy nods. Benny checks out the back of her head and reaches for his bag. BENNY How old are you, Persy? PERSY I am… Benny looks at her, concerned. PERSY (matter of factly) I am 19. BENNY Really? I’ve got a sister your age. He moves her head a little. BENNY When’s your birthday? Does your neck hurt? Persy shakes her head. BENNY You don’t have a birthday? PERSY My neck does not hurt. I have got a birthday. BENNY So, when is it?

7

PETER (O.S.) I’M NOT ON ANYTHING. Benny looks toward Peter. Then, he returns his attention to Persy. BENNY Don’t move. Benny gets up and returns to the ambulance. He comes back with a neck brace. BENNY I’m going to put this on you, just in case. Persy eyes the brace suspiciously then she nods. Benny crouches by her. BENNY So, what happened? PERSY To what? BENNY To you. PERSY Car hit me. BENNY Fan of details, aren’t you. PERSY What? Now, Benny’s got the brace on Persy’s neck. BENNY Nothing. What were you doing out here this late on a Tuesday? Persy looks at him. PERSY You cannot trick me. BENNY

8

Ha. Thought I had you there. You’re right, it’s Thursday. PERSY And this is Los Angeles. BENNY Right. You win a prize. PERSY Really? BENNY No. Well, a ride to the hospital. PERSY Really, I am ok. BENNY Just to be sure there wasn’t any internal trauma. Benny touches Persy’s side lightly. She winces. BENNY That hurts? Persy nods. Benny looks at Peter’s car. BENNY How tall are you? PERSY I do not know. Benny looks at her. PERSY I have not been measured lately. BENNY You know where the car hit you? PERSY (pointing toward car) Right there.

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BENNY (smiling) I meant, where did it hit you on your body? He touches lower on her side. She winces more. BENNY Missed your ribs, but not by much. Les, get over here. Les leaves Peter. He and Benny head for the ambulance. They start to get out the stretcher then realize Persy is standing behind them. They step out of her way and she climbs into the ambulance and sits down on the stretcher. Peter gets in too. Benny gets in the back. Les closes the door. INT – AMBULANCE – NIGHT Benny sits by the stretched. Persy is lying down. BENNY Can you move your toes? Persy looks at him like he is crazy. PERSY I can walk. BENNY Well… PERSY My head hurts is all. BENNY You could have a concussion. Did you lose consciousness back there at all? QUIET CRIER (V.O.) Wake up Persy. PERSY Mayhap a little. Silence as Benny checks Persy’s blood pressure.

10

BENNY So what kind of name is Persy? PERSY What kind of name is Benny? BENNY Touché. PERSY French. BENNY Persy is French? PERSY Touché is French. BENNY Right. PERSY I know French. BENNY Ever been to France. Persy thinks. PERSY No. You? BENNY Once when I was younger. PETER I’d like to go to France. Persy and Benny both look at Peter. Peter looks down, avoids their eyes, says nothing. Benny looks to Persy. BENNY What WERE you doing out there this late at night? Benny looks at Peter.

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BENNY And, what were YOU doing? Peter does not look up. PETER I work graveyard at Undheri Dandridge. BENNY Lawyers have graveyard shifts? PETER Documents department does. Benny looks at Persy again. BENNY You working late too? Persy nods. PERSY Same place as he was. Peter shoots Persy a look. He knows she does not work where he works. But, he does not say anything. Persy looks right back at him. PETER (to Persy) You should have waited. I would have given you a ride. (to Benny) She insists on public transportation. BENNY So, you know each other? PETER Acquaintances more than friends. Benny nods. PERSY Are we almost there yet?

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CUT TO INT – HOSPITAL – NIGHT Persy is on a bed in Emergency. A DOCTOR is talking to her. But, we can barely hear him. What we can make out is the same sorts of question Benny asked, her name, her age, etc. Persy answers but she is not paying attention either. She is watching something. What she is watching is Peter in the hall talking to a POLICE OFFICER. Peter looks back at Persy as he speaks. A moment later, the doctor gone, the police officer using a phone nearby, Peter walks over to Persy. PETER They’re going to know you lied. That I lied. PERSY They know who you are. Peter nods. PETER I’m gonna be in trouble. PERSY I am already in trouble. PETER Who are you? PERSY I do not know. PETER How do you know you’re in trouble? PERSY I just know. Peter looks out at the police officer. PERSY

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Will you help me? Peter looks at her. He wants to say no. That much is clear. PETER How? PERSY Get me out of thisplace. PETER My car’s not even here. Police have it. PERSY There are other ways about in this city, yes? PETER Yes. PERSY Well, let us go. They sneak out into the hallway, behind the back of the POLICE OFFICER and head down the hall to the stairs and they leave. INT – STAIRWELL – NIGHT Persy and Peter run down the stairs. EXT – HOSPITAL – NIGHT Persy and Peter emerge from the hospital by an unmarked (read: not for the public) door. PETER We can catch a bus near here. This way. He grabs Persy’s hand and pulls her along. PERSY Wait. Peter stops. PETER What?

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PERSY You talked to that policeman. PETER Yeah. PERSY He knows who you are. PETER A lot of people know who I am… Well, not a whole lot, but, it’s not like I’m… What are you getting at? PERSY Do you have family at home? Briefly Peter glances down at his left hand. There is nothing there. He looks at Persy. PETER Yes. PERSY You need to warn them, choosehow. PETER Warn them about what? PERSY They are in danger. You are in danger for helping me. PETER Thanks for warning me beforehand. PERSY I told you I was in trouble. PETER You also said you’d only HEARD of Los Angeles. Who are you? What did I just get mixed up in? PERSY You can get out thismoment. Go to the police, tell them I left. Tell them you have no idea who I am— PETER I don’t have any idea who you are.

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PERSY —and you do not know where I went. I told you, I am Persy. PETER Persy who? And, what trouble are you in? PERSY I cannot tell you. PETER Cause you’d have to kill me, right. Persy has never heard that phrase. PERSY Kelly? I would never kill you. You just saved me. PETER And, I nearly killed you. PERSY On a clear day, that was an accident. PETER Yeah, but— PERSY But nothing. You helped me. Thismoment, I am giving you the chance to help yourself, help your family. Leave me thismoment, go on your way, make sure the police do not think you have anything to do with me and my escape— PETER Escape? PERSY —and you should be fine. Your family should be fine. PETER And, if I don’t just let you run off by yourself? Are you even ok? You hit your head pretty bad. PERSY I will be fine. And, if you come with me thismoment, I told you, you are in danger. Someone is after me… has been for a while, I believe. And, the police have your name.

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PETER Do they have yours? PERSY No. Not really. But, they have a description. And, he is very persistent. PETER Who is? PERSY I do not— QUIET CRIER (V.O.) Stop dawdling. PERSY —know. PETER You don’t know? Persy looks at him. PERSY I have got to go. You coming or staying? Peter thinks about it. Persy starts to leave. Against his better judgement, Peter follows. PETER Wait up. He catches up to her and they walk, quickly, away from the hospital. INT – BUS – NIGHT The bus is mostly empty. There is one other passenger besides Persy and Peter. He keeps to himself in the back. PETER So, what is all this? PERSY

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Really, I do not know. I do not know if it was hitting my head or something fore, but things… Things are blurry. I know my name. I know someone is after me. Wrath. PETER Wrath? He rolls his eyes like he is sure right then Persy is nuts. PERSY His name. Wrath something. And, he has killed fore. Somewhere… PETER It would be easier for me to save you if I had a better idea of what I was up against. PERSY (smiling) You are going to save me? Peter shrugs. PETER I’m going to try. But, I need to… What time is it? PERSY I do not know. PETER You say that a lot, you know. PERSY (smiling) I do not know. PETER We’ll stop at my place first. This guy who’s after you, Wrath something, he won’t be there already, will he? Persy thinks about it before answering. PERSY Probably not yet. Will we be there soon? PETER Yeah.

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CUT TO EXT – BUS - NIGHT Peter and Persy exit the bus in Echo Park. Not much of a neighborhood, but Persy does not seem to notice how run down it is and Peter is used to it. PETER This way. Persy follows him. PETER So, this Wrath guy? Who is he? PERSY (thinking) Private. PETER It’s private? I’m going to need some kind of information if I’m going to help you. PERSY No. He is a Private. PETER In the military? PERSY Mayhap. PETER So, you don’t know who you are, but a Private Wrath from the military is after you, a horse talked to you and you’ve only heard of Los Angeles. Persy nods. She knows it sounds crazy but it is true. Peter wants to be rid of her on the one hand, but he also cannot help but feel something for her. They turn a corner by an apartment building. PETER How dangerous is he?

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PERSY I do not really know. He has killed fore. PETER Over you? Persy looks at him. PERSY Yes. A man that helped me. PETER Here. PERSY What? Peter indicates an entrance into the apartment building. PETER Here. Persy follows him to the gate. It is open, the lock broken. They go inside and head toward a ground floor apartment near the entrance. There are no lights on inside. Peter unlocks the door with a key. PETER If my… Don’t… Just wait here for a second. Peter goes inside. Persy waits. After a few seconds, Persy enters also. CUT TO INT – APARTMENT – NIGHT The apartment is small. A living area goes right into a dining nook right into a kitchen. There are paintings on the walls of the living room. Persy looks at the paintings. The one nearest the door is mostly a blood red and black. It is a strange image, a red woman on a black background, the two blending together, the colors twisting about each other, the woman a whirlwind in human form.

20

The next is more abstract, a white triangle with a brilliant white center and a bluish halo, the blackest of backgrounds. There are others. They are each relatively simple, evocative colors and imagery but no real substance to them necessarily. These are the works of an amateur. There is a hallway off the living area that leads to the two bedrooms and the bathroom. Persy wanders toward this hallway. Something catches her eye. By the TV in the living room, there is a shelf with videos on it. They are children’s movies, with the oversized plastic cases. There’s nothing too special there, maybe some Disney films, a copy of A Bug’s Life, maybe The Wind in the Willows. But, one in particular is noticeable. It is still wrapped in clear plastic, a thin paperback book wrapped with it. As Persy moves closer to it, we see the title, The Empress of Time. Persy picks up the case and turns it to see the front of the book. It is also titled The Empress of Time. It is by N A Strauss with a foreword by Zoe Christopher. The book has a relatively simple fantasy cover, a mystical mountain, a castle, a meadow. In the foreground a young girl. In the background, there is a face, only barely hidden in the clouds above the scene, looking down on everything. PERSY (fondly) Empress Time. PETER (O.S.) They’re gone. Persy looks toward the hallway. Peter stands there, looking shocked, frightened, dismayed, finally aware, even if only momentarily, of how serious the situation is. PERSY What? PETER They are gone. What happened? What did you get me into? PERSY We should have called.

21

PETER (increasingly loud) Should have called? Should have called? Damn it. Why the hell didn’t you tell me this Private Wrath guy was going to take my family? PERSY (calmly) I believe I did warn you. PETER (practically yelling) No, you didn’t. PERSY I did. I told— QUIET CRIER (V.O.) Persy, the fridge. Persy looks toward the kitchen. Video and book still in hand, she walks over there. PETER What are you doing? Persy looks at the fridge. PERSY Who is Nana? PETER Nana’s my… What? Why? Persy points to a note on the fridge, held by a magnet that says something like Look What Billy Did. Peter enters the kitchen and looks. CUT TO The Note. Peter,

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I took Nana up on her offer. I tried to call you but they said you were busy. See you in the morning. Love, Annie CUT TO Peter has noticeably calmed down. PETER Nana’s what Billy calls my mother. PERSY So, they are safe? PETER Most likely, yeah. We were supposed to go to my parents’ cabin in Arrowhead this weekend. Annie wanted to go early but I had to work. My mom offered to take Annie and Billy with her and I’d come later. PERSY And, they took her up on the offer. PETER Looks like it. PERSY (indicating video) What is this? PETER What? Persy holds up the video and book. PETER It’s a movie. PERSY A movie with Empress Time. PETER The Empress of Time. I never really cared for it myself, but Billy loved it when they showed it on cable a couple years ago.

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PERSY He has not opened it. PETER No. Guess he didn’t love it as much as I thought. PERSY Are there others? PETER Other movies? PERSY Gardea movies. PETER I think they made a Return to Gardea movie or something, or I might be confusing it with the Oz one… I’m not sure. PERSY Can we watch it? PETER I thought someone was after you, and you want to watch a movie? PERSY Not thisplace. Not thismoment. PETER Then where? We can’t stay here, right? PERSY Right. We should go. But, first, you should call your family, let them know they are in danger. PETER It’s the middle of the night. I’m not calling them. Persy is quiet for a moment. PERSY Very well. Can we go somewhere else? Can we go to this Arrowhead place? PETER I’m not just going to show up with you in tow. My… My family wouldn’t get it.

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PERSY You believe me, right? PETER I’m not sure what I believe, but I know you need help. Maybe help I can’t give you. PERSY So, we will go somewhere else. Peter nods. PETER Let me get some clothes and things. Peter leaves the room. Persy looks at the TV and the vcr, then she sits down on the floor, turns on the TV and rips open the plastic wrapper on The Empress of Time. But, she stops abruptly and stares at the screen. On the screen is a late night replay of the nightly news. A reporter, CHRISTINE SANCHEZ is sits behind a desk. In the top right corner of the screen is a photo of a balding man, old but not too old, a distinguished businessman. This is TALUS COYNE. CHRISTINE …Talus Coyne, current CEO of Zaladhis International and major contributor to Senator Le Marchand’s campaign. PETER (O.S.) What’s wrong? Persy looks up at Peter. He holds a suitcase. PERSY You packed quickly. PETER Annie already packed my things for Arrowhead. I just had to add one or two things. What’s wrong? Persy looks at the TV. PERSY That is my pere, my… father.

25

PETER Senator Le Marchand? Senator RANDOLFO LE MARCHAND is on the screen now. Talus is gone. PERSY No. Talus Coyne. Persy looks down. PERSY This is strange. I thought I was… Well I know you think I am crazy and I have not been able to remember much tonight. I thought it was by cause I hit my head on the street and it would all come back in time, but I still cannot remember much, but I know that Talus Coyne is my father. PETER Talus Coyne is not your father. PERSY How would you know? PETER He doesn’t have any kids. They had some thing on 20/20 a while back about the Arnisso family and this whole thing about which kid was heir to the whole fortune. Persy doesn’t know what he is talking about. But, she does not speak. PETER Well, they made a point of how no one in the Zaladhis family, even with their own separate chunk of cash from they’re big corporation was going to get any of it. And, Talus Coyne is part of that family, and barely even that. He’s got no children and his wife is dead. Persy just looks at him. PETER I work nights so I don’t get to watch much television. When I do, it’s mostly news shows. What can I say? PERSY You would not have seen me on any news show. The fact that I am alive is not usually advertised.

26

Peter nods. PETER Right. You know when I said you’d probably need help I can’t give you. I think that was an understatement. PERSY I am not lying to you, Peter. By Parrow, I swear it. PETER Parrow? PERSY And, I need your help. My father does not want me out on my own like this. PETER I thought Private Wrath wanted you. PERSY Wrath is after me. But, my pere is pulling the strings. PETER Convenient how that works. If you’re Talus Coyne’s illegitimate— PERSY I am not illegitimate. PETER —daughter, just go to the press or the police and tell them everything. Hell, go to Le Marchand’s campaign headquarters here in Los Angeles. Tell them who you are and make them help you. PERSY They will not help me. If I will not go home quietly, my pere will have me dead. Wrath will kill me. The press cannot stop him. The police cannot stop him. Senator Le Marchand cannot stop him. The most any of those people could do is let Wrath know right where I am so he can come pick me up. Then, he will kill me like he killed Morty Fenimore— PETER Who’s Morty— PERSY Thismoment, I need to know something.

27

PETER What? PERSY Are you going to help me or not? If you are not then I need to be on my way. PETER On your way where? Persy holds up the video. PERSY Choosehow, I need to find the person hind this. PETER The delusions just keep getting more complicated, don’t they? PERSY I am not delusional. PETER Right. PERSY Will you help me or not? Peter looks around the empty apartment. PETER Hell, why not? CUT TO EXT – GARAGE – NIGHT Peter and Persy enter the apartment building’s garage area. There is a jeep in one of the spaces under a canvas cover. PETER This jeep was my dad’s. I don’t get much chance to drive it, usually. PERSY But, thismoment you do.

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Peter pulls the cover off the jeep. PETER Lucky me, I’ve got to drive a crazy girl— Peter stops and looks out toward the street. A police car has just parked out in front of the building. PETER Shit. Get in. They get in. Peter throws his suitcase into the back then pulls the jeep out of its space, leaving the cover behind, and speeds out of the driveway. CUT TO INT – MOTEL ROOM – NIGHT Peter and Persy enter. Peter throws his suitcase on the bed. PETER I got you some clothes, if you want ‘em. Some of Annie’s. PERSY She would not mind? PETER Oh, she’d probably mind, but that dress of yours isn’t looking to great, torn and greasy, and is that blood? Persy looks down at her dress then up at Peter. PETER Hold on. I’ll get you something. Peter opens the suitcase. Behind him, Persy heads for the bathroom. PERSY I think I will take a shower first. Peter looks up as she pulls her dress off. She wears no bra and there are deep red lashes visible on her exposed back and shoulders. PETER

29

What the hell? Persy turns around. PERSY What? PETER What happened to your back? PERSY Bruises from earlier. PETER No, not that. The scars. PERSY Oh, that. My pere. PETER Your father did that? Persy nods then closes the bathroom door. She turns on the shower. The bathroom fills with steam as she strips off her slip, revealing scars covering the entirety of her back, and steps into the shower stall. She winces getting into the shower. Her back and side, which are quite bruised, still hurt from getting hit by Peter’s car. As the water and steam cover her, a scene plays out projected onto the steam and the wall of the shower… EXT – MANSION – DAY MORTY FENIMORE in a three piece suit stands near Persy in the yard. She is wearing the same white dress from before but it is cleaner, newer. MORTY Get out of here Persy. Now, while your father’s in Washington. PERSY I cannot. I go away, I always end up back in thisplace. I cannot stay there. The scene fades as Persy opens her eyes in the shower.

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MORTY (V.O.) No! Please! GUNSHOT O.S. Persy cries. She turns off the water and gets out. CUT TO Persy comes out of the bathroom wrapped in a white towel. Peter looks up at her. PERSY What? PETER Your father? Persy looks down, then she sits on the bed. She does not look at Peter. PERSY My pere did not like me seeing the world. (smiling) It is evil. (frowning) He is evil. She looks at Peter. PERSY Morty worked for my pere. He was one of his many personal assistants. PETER What’s Morty’s full name? PERSY Morton Fenimore. Why? Peter says nothing. PERSY

31

You are going to check my facts. You do not believe me. PETER It’s hard to believe all this. PERSY It is ok if you do not believe me. PETER Tell me anyway. PERSY I will tell you what I remember. PETER Whatever you can. PERSY Morty worked for my pere. Morty was probably the only assistant to my… father that liked me or paid any attention to me. Mostly, I was kept locked away from prying eyes. You said my father has no children. That does not surprise me—that that would be the official story, I mean. He did not let my mere get out much either. When he went away on business, he would leave men to watch us. Persy is silent for a moment. PERSY Morty was one of those men. Others—they would see what my pere would do to me and they would not do a thing. Morty tried to stop it. Persy turns her back more to Peter, showing off her scars. PERSY When my pere would whip me, Morty was the only one with the guts to try to stop him. Persy lets her towel slip down, showing off her whole back. She sits there silently as Peter eyes her scars. PERSY And, it was Morty that helped me get away. She pulls her towel back around her body.

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PERSY He is dead. Wrathbone killed him. PETER Wrathbone? Private Wrath? PERSY Private Investigator I think. It is like some details are getting a whole lot clearer, some are just staying right out of reach. Wrathbone is the guy that killed Morty. I know that. But, there is something else. There is more to Wrath than him. PETER What does that mean? Persy gets up and goes to the dresser. The Empress of Time video and book are sitting there by the suitcase, which is open now. Persy picks up the book. PERSY I think she can help. PETER The Empress of Time? Persy nods. PERSY Zoe Christopher. Gardea has something to do with this. PETER Gardea’s a made up place. It’s no more real than Oz or Never Never Land. Persy sets the book down and looks at Peter. PERSY You have a limited worldview. PETER What? PERSY Just by cause something is in a book or a movie does not mean it cannot be real. PETER

33

There’s no such place as Gardea. PERSY How do you know? How do you know that Dorothy Gale was not a real person, that Mary Prejean was not a real girl? How do you know what is real or what is not? PETER It’s fairly easy to not believe in things like that. Hell, I barely believed in any of that stuff when I was a kid. PERSY You seem like someone with more imagination than that. PETER I’ve got imagination. Some say I’ve got too much imagination. That’s how I know what’s real and what isn’t, what’s hard fact and what’s imagined. Gardea is just a place from some children’s books and a couple movies. PERSY Anne Frank. PETER What? PERSY Morty gave me a copy of her diary once. My pere never knew. I burned it after I read it. Did you ever read it? PETER I think we had to in school. PERSY Was Germany a made up place? PETER That’s not even close to being the same thing. There’s a big difference between biographies and novels. Book stores are so nice, they let you know right off whether a book is a true story or not. They put them in sections and everything. PERSY I have never been in a book store. PETER Sorry.

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PERSY What if they are all true? PETER They’re not. PERSY What if they are? What if this world—this universe—is bigger and more complicated than you have ever imagined, than anyone has ever imagined? PETER Ok, I’ll play along. Gardea, Oz, Never Never Land—they’re all as real as Germany. So what? PERSY You can fly a plane to Germany right? PETER I don’t have my pilot’s license, but yeah, I could go as a passenger. PERSY What if there are ways into these other worlds, these “imaginary” worlds, ways to— PETER (abruptly) Talking horses! PERSY What? PETER You said something about a horse. There are talking horses in Gardea. I remember. The Bellroffs. They were like the Houyhnhnms, only more fun. PERSY The who? PETER Nevermind. Different world altogether. PERSY And you went to this different world?

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PETER I read about it, just like I read about the Bellroffs in Lion Horse Tree. PERSY Lion Horse Tree? PETER The second Gardea book. You’ve never read it? PERSY No. Morty gave me a copy of Ugly Ogre once, not long fore he helped me escape. Thing is—I had met Dilden. I always thought it was in my head. When my pere would punish me, I would go away in my head. And, I would be in this other world—Gardea. I thought I had made it up. I had a limited view of things like you. I never expected it all to be real. PETER You’d probably heard the story when you were little. PERSY I considered that. PETER But? PERSY There are things we just know, somewhen. Persy looks at the open suitcase, grabs some clothes from it and heads into the bathroom. She comes back out in a large tee shirt and continues talking like there was no break. PERSY And, this was one of those things I just knew. In my head, I could pull myself into Gardea just like you could take a plane to Germany. It was real. PETER Unless you’re nuts. PERSY What?

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PETER Follow me for a minute. What if you are crazy? What if there’s something wrong in your head? Or maybe this is all some delusion from hitting your head earlier. Why would your explanation be any more valid or likely than any other? PERSY And why do I have to be crazy to validate your ken of the universe? Do you hold to God? PETER Hold to… You mean, do I believe in God? Not most of the time. PERSY But, some of the time? Mayhap YOU are crazy. Mayhap all the Christians are crazy. Mayhap there is something wrong with the human brain itself that makes us all delusional, makes us all see a creator or a pantheon of gods, makes us see whatever we need to see to make our world keep going from day to day. Mayhap we are all crazy. What difference does it make if that God or those gods or a monster from some made up world can effect our lives as directly as such things often do? You think every miracle is just chance or is it possible that, made up or not, real from the beginning of time or not, God can do exactly what enough of us hold he can do? Mayhap we make him real. PETER And maybe reading Gardea stories makes it real? PERSY Something like that. PETER But, you said you’d never read them. PERSY And, you said you do not always believe in God. But, still there are those that do believe in him all the time. And, there are plenty who have read all the Gardea stories. PETER Especially now. PERSY What?

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PETER Since Zoe Christopher bought the rights to the stories so she can rework them and write new ones. PERSY Kelly, I do not ken. PETER Right, you’re a shut in. Zoe Christopher’s quite a success in the book business, with half a dozen bestsellers already. PERSY Oh. So, she is not the one who wrote them originally? PETER No. She’s not even that old. That movie version was made a few decades ago. The books even farther back, maybe even a hundred years or so. I don’t recall exactly. N A Strauss wrote them originally. But, he’s dead. He died a long time ago. Persy looks down, thinking. She looks up. PERSY You want to check my story, right? You want to check what you can about me and about Morty. Peter nods. PERSY You can do that at the library, I assume. Peter nods again. PERSY Well, while you do that, I am going to do some checking of my own. I need to see all the Gardea stories. I need to see if Strauss could go there too. PETER Why? What does it matter? PERSY I can hide there. I can hide there forever. CUT TO

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Persy and Peter are asleep in the motel bed together. There is some space between them though. Persy does not sleep restfully. She moves about, like someone stereotypically reacting to a nightmare, which is just what she is doing. A scene plays out projected onto the wall above the bed… EXT – WOODS – DAY Persy is running with a small drawstring bag in her hand. She wears that same white dress. As she runs it should be noticeable that there is blood spattered on her dress, but only here and there. Close on her hand and a bag covered in blood. She got this from Morty. In the motel bed, Persy moves some more. In the woods on the wall above, Persy comes to a fallen tree and clambers over it then sits down behind it, glancing back to see if anyone is following her. No one is in sight. She relaxes and catches her breath. She opens the bag and pulls out a handful of things. She sets them in her lap and looks at them. There is a passport, a large wad of cash and a couple candy bars. She laughs. It is a strange laugh, a realization of some absurdity to her situation. She starts to cry, then stuffs the things back into the bag, closes it and gets up. She pulls herself together and hurries off on foot again. She walks quickly. She does not run. In the motel bed, Persy relaxes a little. CUT TO EXT – LIBRARY – MORNING Peter’s jeep enters the parking lot. Peter and Persy are in it. Nearby a man watches. A large man, he goes by the inappropriate nickname LITTLE B.

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He pulls out a cell phone and hits a number on speed dial. LITTLE B It’s me. They’re at the library. Pause. LITTLE B What should I do? Pause. Persy and Peter get out of the jeep. Persy is wearing blue jeans and a white blouse, Annie’s clothes. LITTLE B Got it. He hangs up the phone. Then, he walks toward the parking lot. Little B enters the library about ten feet behind Peter and Persy. CUT TO INT – LIBRARY LOBBY – MORNING Peter and Persy stop. PETER (indicating direction) Children’s section is that way. PERSY Where will you be? PETER Computers. (indicating direction) That way. You’ll be ok? Persy nods. Peter leaves her. She stands there for a moment, watching him. Then, she heads toward the children’s section. Little B follows Persy.

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CUT TO INT – CHILDREN’S SECTION – DAY Persy has seven books laid out on a library table. First on the left is The Empress of Time with a similar cover to the one we saw before. Next to it is Lion Horse Tree with a Yggsdrasilic tree connecting a forest below to clouds above, a group of horses running near the forest below, a lone girl in white riding one near the lead. Next is The Song of Fellfaraway with hands on the cover with a strange writing on the flesh. Next is Ugly Ogre with the most childish of the covers, a little girl Ogre in a lacy dress picking flowers. Then is On a Clear Day: Tales from Gardea with an old man on the cover, sitting on a tree stump with a large book open in his lap. Then is The Eleventh Heir, with a classy image of a knight fully decked out in armor, a friendly but vicious dragon behind him, its tail curled about in front of him. Last is The End of Time with an old woman pouring out a bag of sand, amongst the grains tiny people and animals and buildings and trees. Persy stares at the group of books for a moment. A LIBRARIAN sets down three more books before Persy. LIBRARIAN There you go. That should be everything we’ve got. Persy looks at these new books. The first is a proof edition of Sword in Shadow by Zoe Christopher. The second is From Twisted Rock to Mullivan’s Pike: An Atlas of Gardea. The third is Faraway Castle and the Unattainable: The Works of N A Strauss. Persy looks up at the Librarian and smiles. PERSY Thank you. LIBRARIAN This is for a school paper? PERSY Yes. My Thesis. The librarian nods, happy to help, then walks off.

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Persy opens the Atlas first. Inside there is a map of The Kingdom of Gardea. There are illustrations of specific places. There is Salogee, a massive stone arch. There is the Pavanschall, a steppes region. There is Stanjantuwel, the volcano. There are the titular Twisted Rock and Mullivan’s Pike, two malformed mountains. There is Malminaret, a stand alone castle tower so tall it puts Rapunzel’s cell to shame. There is Hide Lake, Finity Field, Sidhollow, the Ester Wall, Hanging Shadow, Keravel, Parrow’s Peak, Orm and the Balkor, a dark swampy area on the outer borders of Gardea. And, of course, there is Faraway Castle. They each have text descriptions, but we do not spend much time even glancing at these. Persy closes the Atlas and opens the first Gardea novel, The Empress of Time. As she leafs through it and then the other books, we notice a few key names: Quiet Crier, Dilden the Ogre, Hesperus, Empress Time, Tonomo, Kimbly, Leandress and Agirath. Upon seeing that last one, Persy abruptly gets up from her seat and turns to leave but Little B is right behind her. He speaks with a southern accent. LITTLE B Hiya Persy. PERSY Who are you? LITTLE B Name’s Beauchamp but my friends call me Little B. Persy looks up at him. PERSY Little? LITTLE B One of them ironic kinda names. I work for Ansin Wrathbone. Well, I’m doing him a favor anyway. PERSY You are following me. LITTLE B

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Right. And, I’ve got a message for you. See, Ansin’s on his way here to LA to get you himself, take you back where you came from. Me—I’m just supposed to keep an eye on you… Little B gives her a quick look up and down. He likes what he sees. LITTLE B …though I’d be up for a little more than just some voyeuristic thrills, and what’s with you and that guy sleeping in the same bed and there’s no touching at all? What is that about? PERSY I do not— LITTLE B Anyway, I’m supposed to give you a message. Persy backs away from him, right up against the table. PERSY What is it? LITTLE B Come quietly and nobody gets hurt. PERSY Somebody already got hurt. LITTLE B I don’t know nuthin about that. I just know what the good man lets me know. PERSY The good man, ha. LITTLE B I’d not go mocking the likes of Ansin Wrathbone if I was you girly. PERSY You are not me. LITTLE B Nor do I want to be. Little B looks over her at the books laid out on the table.

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LITTLE B What’s all this? Persy looks down at the books. One of them is open to an illustration of Grilder the Ogre, piggish of face with two tusks and extra joints in his legs like a satyr. Persy reaches down and closes that book. Persy looks Little B in the eye, as best she can anyway given the height differential. PERSY Tell Wrathbone or Agirath or whomever you work for that not only will I not be coming quietly I will not be coming at all. LITTLE B I’ll tell him. But, if I was you, I’d stop with that line soon as I could. You don’t want to be on Wrathbone’s bad side. Little B looks down at the books again, then at Persy. LITTLE B Good day to you. He turns and leaves. Persy stands there momentarily, shaken. Then she grabs the books into a stack and carries them with her as she heads out toward the lobby. CUT TO INT – COMPUTER ROOM – DAY Peter is sitting at one of the computers. Persy comes up behind him, books in hand. PERSY We need to leave. Do you have a library card? Peter turns around and looks at her. He gets up. PETER What’s wrong? PERSY

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Nothing. Can we go? PETER Yeah, sure. He reaches down and uses the mouse to close the window he had been using on the computer. CUT TO: EXT – LIBRARY – DAY Persy hurries to the jeep. Peter keeps up. PETER What’s the rush? What happened? PERSY Just get us out of thisplace. Then, I will tell you. Persy looks back behind her as Peter gets into the jeep. Little B emerges from the library. Peter notices him as Persy drops the books onto the floor of the jeep and climbs into the passenger seat. PERSY Let us go. Peter starts the engine and pulls out of the parking space. Out on the city streets, Persy calms down a little. PETER What happened? Who was that guy? PERSY He said he worked for Wrathbone. PETER And, he let you walk out of there? PERSY Wrathbone wants to get me himself, I guess. Little B—that was his name—told me to come quietly and no one would get hurt.

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PETER And you’re— PERSY —not going to come quietly. I did not go through all this just to be sent back home. Besides, it will not matter if I come quietly. It is not just Wrathbone that is after me. PETER What do you mean? Persy grabs the copy of The Song of Fellfaraway from the floor of the jeep. She flips through it. PERSY Remember I said there was something more to Wrath than just him. PETER Right. Didn’t make much sense. Persy finds a particular passage and reads. PERSY Carrian fell from Salieron’s saddle, the poison inside her taking effect. The Demon stepped out of the shadows and laughed. “You thought you could get away from me, Carrian? No one ever gets away from Agirath.” Persy stops reading and looks at Peter. Peter gives her a look that half says he’s convinced finally that she is the craziest person he ever met and half says don’t worry, I can protect you from that thing. Persy holds up the book to show Peter the front cover. There again is Agirath looming over Stanjantuwel. Peter looks ahead. He steers into a lane to get on the freeway. PETER There’s no demon from Gardea following you. PERSY You do not even believe there is a murderous private eye following me, so what does it matter what you think? PETER

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I’m taking you with me to Arrowhead and my… My family isn’t going to like that very much, but I’m doing it. I believe that you believe it— PERSY You believe I am insane. PETER —and Morton Fenimore did work for your father. PERSY What? PETER Morton Fenimore did work for your father— PERSY You called him my father. PETER —and Morton is dead. Short pause. PETER I’m helping you, Persy. What more do you want? There is a long pause. PERSY I want to live. CUT TO EXT – FREEWAY – DAY A sign for San Bernardino. Peter’s jeep goes by. CUT TO EXT – MOUNTAINS – DAY The jeep speeds around a bend. CUT TO INT – JEEP – DAY

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Persy has Faraway Castle and the Unattainable open in her lap. PERSY Did we not just drive through San Bernardino? PETER Yeah, why? PERSY It says that is where Zoe Christopher lives. PETER So? PERSY It cannot just be a coincidence. PETER We’re not going to go find her. PERSY Why not? PETER We’re just not. Persy looks down at the book, frowning. CUT TO EXT – MOUNTAINS – DAY The jeep keeps going up the mountain road. CUT TO EXT – CABIN – DAY The jeep pulls into a parking space before a modern log cabin. There are already a couple cars parked out front. Persy gets out of the jeep and grabs her stack of books. PERSY They will not like me in thisplace, will they—your family?

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Peter looks at her for a second then gets out of the jeep and grabs the suitcase. PERSY Peter? Peter looks at her again. PETER My family is nice enough. Don’t worry. Peter walks past Persy and walks toward the front door of the cabin. Persy follows. PERSY I did not ask if they were nice. I asked if they would like me in thisplace. Will they think we are— PETER I don’t know what they’ll think, Persy. The front door opens just as Peter reaches to open it. And, there is ANNIE. ANNIE Peter. (smiling) Who’s this? PETER (to Annie) Annie, this is Persy. (to Persy) Persy, this is Annie… My wife. PERSY Your wife? PETER Yeah. PERSY You did not say you had a wife. PETER I thought that was kinda obvious. You saw our house—

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ANNIE She saw what? PETER What did you think all those pictures were about—Annie and I and our little boy? PERSY I did not notice any pictures. When you said you had family at home— ANNIE What’s going on, Peter? Peter faces Persy PETER (to Persy) Give us a second. (to Annie) Annie, inside. Peter goes inside with Annie. Persy waits outside. Persy looks around at the trees all around, another cabin down the road. It is all very quiet. PETER (O.S.) Persy. Persy looks. Peter has the door open. PETER Come in. Persy goes inside. Immediately on entering she notices Annie is on the phone. PERSY (to Annie) Who are you… (to Peter) Who is she calling? PETER

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I told her what happened. PERSY You told her what? Who is she calling? PETER I told her the truth. PERSY What truth? PETER About the car last night. PERSY Who is she calling? PETER Don’t worry. ANNIE Hi, I need to report a, well not a crime exactly. Persy shoots Peter an accusatory look. PERSY To whom is she talking, Peter? PETER The police. PERSY No. Persy drops her books and grabs the phone from Annie and slams the receiver down. PERSY No police! Annie backs away from Persy. ANNIE Don’t hurt anybody. PERSY What do you mean? I would not hurt a…

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PETER She wouldn’t hurt— Persy looks at Peter. PERSY What did you tell her? ANNIE He told me you’re crazy. PETER That’s not how I said it. PERSY How could you? You said you would help me. PETER I will help you. ANNIE The police could have gotten you help. Persy spins and faces Annie. PERSY (loudly) The police would put my name out there and Ansin Wrathbone or one of his people would be on this place in no time. I will not hurt you, but Wrathbone would. ANNIE Don’t threaten me. PETER Annie, come on. PERSY I am not threatening you. Billy, age 4 comes into the room. BILLY Mom, can I have a… Dad! When did you get here? PETER

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Just now. ANNIE Billy, get out of here. Go back down and play with Nana. BILLY But, I wanted a— ANNIE Now! Billy pouts. PETER Do what your mother tells you. Billy turns to leave. The phone rings. Billy stops. Annie looks at the phone. Persy looks at it then at Peter. Peter picks up the phone. PETER Hello? BILLY Who is it? Is it Uncle Craig? PETER (into phone) No, there’s no one by that name here. Peter hangs up the phone. He looks at Persy. ANNIE Was that the police? PETER No. That was Mr Wrathbone. PERSY What? He knows I am in thisplace? ANNIE I thought you said she was crazy? PETER

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(to Annie) That’s not what I said. (to Persy) That’s not what I said. PERSY I am not crazy. ANNIE If you’re not crazy then you just put our family in danger. Either way, I don’t want you here. PETER Annie, stop it. We can’t throw her out. ANNIE Yes, we— PETER (loudly) No, we can’t. (normal) I nearly killed this girl last night. Then, I helped her. And, I’m not going to stop helping her now. If this Wrathbone IS after her, I’m going to get her help. ANNIE Just what you’ve always wanted. PETER What’s that supposed to mean? ANNIE An adventure. You’ve always had your head in the clouds, Peter. Ever since you were little. All those wasted years on dreams you couldn’t achieve, and you’re still just dying for an adventure, aren’t you? PETER Annie, don’t— ANNIE Don’t what? You bring this woman here, you endanger your family, and for what? You hoping she’ll put out later? PERSY Put out?

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PETER It’s not like that, Annie. I would never… I love you, Annie. I wouldn’t cheat on you like that. ANNIE No. You’d just endanger my life and the life of your son. PERSY Wait a minute. ANNIE You think I like that you work nights to make enough money to keep us from being broke? You think I don’t miss you. You think I don’t miss the old you, with all those dreams. PETER Those wasted dreams, you mean. ANNIE You don’t get it, Peter. You— PERSY Wait a minute. ANNIE —just don’t get it. I’ve offered to help with money stuff, but you insist it’s your job. PERSY We do not have time for this. ANNIE (to Persy) Shut up. (to Peter) Just because you’re too scared to keep painting. PETER I’m not too scared to keep painting. There are more important things than chasing dreams, more important thing than wasting years. ANNIE I didn’t mean it like— PETER

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You can’t have it both ways, Annie. You can’t want me to keep painting to make myself happy— ANNIE So, you’re not happy? PETER That’s not what I said. You can’t have me keep painting AND have me make a living for our family. It doesn’t work that way. And, you can’t say I wasted years painting then act like I abandoned some great part of my life. It’s one or it’s the other. It’s not both. PERSY Peter. PETER What? PERSY We do not have time for this. ANNIE (to Persy) We’d have time for anything if you weren’t here. PERSY I did nothing to you. You do not need to be rude. ANNIE You’ve endangered my family. PERSY It sounds like your family was already endangered. Annie’s mouth drops open. ANNIE Don’t you dare speak to me like that. PERSY I will speak choosehow. I am no child anymore. I am not going to let anybody tell me how to live or how to speak. I will do what I please. ANNIE Well, you will do it somewhere else. Get out.

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PETER Annie. ANNIE What? You going to defend her? Our family is none of her business. PERSY It IS my— Annie turns on Persy. ANNIE It’s not! It’s not your business. PERSY You want your family to stay intact? Annie just looks at her. PERSY I will leave. PETER Persy, no. PERSY Yes. I will leave. It is for the best. I will go someplace else, get you out of danger. PETER And, how will you keep from getting caught? PERSY Admit it, Peter, you do not have any way of stopping Wrathbone when he finds me. I am just aswell off on my own as I am with you. ANNIE Well, what are you waiting for? Get out already. Persy looks at Annie. ANNIE What?

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PERSY We are in the wood. ANNIE So? PETER I’ll give you a ride. ANNIE No, you won’t. You’ll stay right here with us where you belong. You’re not running off on this adventure with her and risking your life. PETER First of all, that’s my decision— ANNIE Oh really? PETER —not yours. Second of all, I’m not running off on some adventure. I’ll take her back down the mountain, into the city. PERSY Then, I can fend for myself. PETER No more than that. I’ll be back before you know it. Annie thinks about it. Billy looks back and forth between the adults. ANNIE Back before I know it. Peter nods. ANNIE Get going. The sooner she’s gone, the sooner you’ll be back. PERSY And, you will not be in any danger. ANNIE My husband gets hurt at all, and Wrathbone won’t be the only one after you.

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PERSY He is already not the only one. ANNIE What? PERSY Nevermind. (to Peter) Let us go. Peter hugs his wife. Persy walks out the door as he also hugs Billy. CUI TO EXT – CABIN – DAY Peter comes out behind Persy. They go to the jeep and get in. The jeep pulls out of the parking area. CUT TO EXT – JEEP – DAY It grows dark outside. The sun is not yet down but it is cloudy, a storm brewing. Peter’s jeep speeds around a mountain curve. CUT TO INT – JEEP – DAY As Peter drives out of the mountains and toward San Bernardino, Persy mostly just looks at the passing scenery. PETER Looks like a storm is coming. Persy is silent. She looks at him. PERSY Those paintings in your apartment—you did those?

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Peter glances at her then returns his attention to the curvy road. He nods. PETER I used to paint a lot. I wanted to be an artist. PERSY What happened? Peter is silent. PERSY If you do not want to— PETER It’s not that. I think Annie gets it wrong. PERSY How so? PETER She thinks I gave it up for her and Billy. PERSY And you did not? PETER I didn’t give it up. It just wasn’t going anywhere. It’s hard to… It’s not the… Life is complicated. PERSY Not always. Silence. PERSY Do you miss it? PETER Sometimes. PERSY But you do not do it anymore? PETER Haven’t even picked up a brush since before Billy was born. I’m not sure Annie realizes that.

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PERSY Realizes what? PETER I gave it up fore Billy was born. She thinks I gave it up to have more time for work to keep us all from starving. But, that’s not how it went. For years, I’d had nothing coming from my work, my art. There were those who liked what I did, Annie for one. But, all in all, it just wasn’t going anywhere. And… Peter takes a deep breath. PETER Life with Annie was. PERSY Only room in your life for one great idea at a time? PETER What? PERSY I have never had much of any great ideas in my life. There have never been any lofty plans for me. Most of the time, I just did not even know I needed any. If I had had some talent to put paint to canvas or some great love, a child… Persy is quiet. After a moment she leans down and picks up the library copy of Lion Horse Tree. PERSY All I ever wanted to do is live. That was my great idea. She holds up the book for Peter to see. She points at the cover. PERSY That girl on the horse, that tiny speck of white—that is me. Well, that is who I am when I go there. She puts the book down in her lap. PERSY There is a whole other world that is at least partly inside of me, and all I ever wanted to do is just live, to be able to make my own way in the world, this world. You have got more than I ever dreamed. You have got a wife and a boy. You have got dreams

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of leaving your mark on the world and you have got the talent to do so. Do not waste any of it. Do not neglect it. Do not work so much that it seems like it is everything you are and everything you do. It is possible to be great, you know. It is possible to have two great ideas or even three or as many as you can imagine. This universe allows us all the opportunities we could ever hope to get. Do not let any slip by… except mayhap one. Peter looks at her. PETER What one? PERSY When you drop me off, do not follow me— PETER I wasn’t going— PERSY You thought about it. PETER Oh, you’re psychic now? Persy looks directly at Peter. PERSY Do not try to protect me anymore. There are more important things in your world than being a part of mine. I have made it this far. I will make it farther. Thisplace is good. PETER What? PERSY Exit thisplace. Peter heads off the freeway and pulls the jeep into a gas station. Persy gets out. PETER You can take the books. I trust you to return them. PERSY

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(smiling) You take them. I do not think I will need them anymore. I am remembering more every minute. Thank you for everything. Persy turns to leave. Peter quickly gets out of the jeep and comes around to the passenger side. PETER Persy, wait. PERSY You are not coming. There is no adventure for you thisday. There is just life. That is better than any adventure. Peter comes close to her. PETER Good luck finding your Empress Time. Persy laughs. PETER What? PERSY You are not even sure you believe me, still. PETER I believe you. PERSY Well, believe me also in this: this world, your world is all you need to be happy. Go be with your wife and your boy. Peter hugs Persy. Persy steps away from him. PERSY Peter means rock, right? PETER Right. PERSY Well, I will remember my rock.

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Suddenly, blood spurts, a knife bursts out of Peter’s stomach. Persy screams. Somebody laughs. A devilish laugh. The knife pulls back through Peter and he falls. There behind him is Little B, knife in bloody hand. LITTLE B Hello again, Persy. Persy drops to the ground by Peter and picks him up in her arms, cradles him. Blood comes from his mouth. He coughs. PERSY What did you do? LITTLE B Man shouldn’t have gotten involved. And, he definitely shouldn’t have hung up on Ansin Wrathbone. Leave him be and come with me and no one else gets hurt. PETER Don’t— Peter coughs up more blood. Persy holds Peter tight against her. She looks up at Little B. PERSY Go to hell, and tell Agirath he cannot have me. Little B smiles. LITTLE B I don’t know any Agirath, but after I’m through with you, no one will even want you. His smile disappears. LITTLE B See, thing is, I’ve got permission now to do anything to keep you from talking. If I can’t get you to go home, well then, I’ll just have to make sure you don’t go anywhere. Little B grabs Persy by the arm and yanks her to her feet.

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LITTLE B That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves first. He throws her against the side of the jeep. Then, he is by her again and he tears her blouse open. Underneath is her slip from before, tattered and dirty. LITTLE B Tsk Tsk. You should really take better care of your underclothes. She struggles to get free. He shoves her hard against the jeep again. He rips her slip open. PETER (O.S.) Get off of her. Little B turns around. Peter is on his feet though he does not seem to have much strength left. Little B rolls his eyes. LITTLE B It’s like you want me to finish you. PETER Leave her alone. Persy spots a toolbox in the back of the jeep. She reaches for it but cannot quite reach without moving. Little B lets go of her and moves toward Peter. Persy grabs the toolbox by its handle and swings it over her head right into Little B’s. Little B is momentarily motionless then he falls to the ground. Persy runs to Peter and he collapses into her arms. They fall to their knees together. She holds Peter from falling any further. PERSY You will be ok. I will get you to a hospital. Peter laughs. Blood spurts from his mouth.

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PERSY What is funny? PETER Crazy shut in girl— (coughing) —thinks she can drive. PERSY I will get help, Peter. Just hold on. Peter coughs. It does not sound good. Peter looks around, dazed. Rather abruptly his eyes focus on the camera, on us. PETER They’re watching. With that, he goes limp in Persy’s arms. Persy bows her head over him. Then, Little B pulls her to her feet again. LITTLE B You thought you could get away from me, Persy? No one ever gets away from Little B. It’ll take more than a toolbox to put me down. Persy screams. Little B shoves her against the jeep again, his hand, knife in it, to her throat. LITTLE B Silence, bitch. PERSY Why? You are going to kill me othergate. Little B presses the knife against her neck. There is a droplet of blood. Persy quiets. LITTLE B See, you and me are going to have some fun here in this little… He looks around and the gas station is not there.

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LITTLE B What the hell? Pull back and we see Persy is no longer up against a jeep but a tree. The pavement and asphalt, the gas station, the city—all gone. Little B and Persy are at the edge of a clearing in the woods. QUIET CRIER (O.S.) Get off of her. Little B turns around. A semicircle of horses surround him. Quiet Crier is in the middle. LITTLE B Who said that? QUIET CRIER I did. Step away from Leandress. LITTLE B You got the wrong girl. This here’s Perseverance Coyne. PERSY (from behind Little B) Not anymore. Little B turns to look at her. She looks mostly the same, but her ripped blouse and her blue jeans have been replaced by a simple white dress, so thin as to be translucent. Her hair is pulled back, plaited. She is radiant in this world, Gardea. She is Leandress here. Little B grabs her and gets her between he and the horses. He puts his knife to her throat. LITTLE B Don’t come any closer. What the hell is all this? What’s going on? QUIET CRIER I am Quiet Crier. We are the Bellroff. You are about to die. LITTLE B You come near me, it’s this girl that dies. QUIET CRIER

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I do not think so. Little B’s knife suddenly dissolves in his hand. Persy pulls free from his grip and the circle of horses closes on Little B. Several of them rear up and kick at him. Little B screams in pain. We follow Persy as she squeezes past them into the clearing. And there stands a woman in a purple robe. She is old but somewhat spry. She clutches strangely at her side, where her robe is a deeper hue, like all the pain of her age is focused there. The witch, HESPERUS. PERSY (LEANDRESS) On a clear day, I know you. HESPERUS You should. PERSY (LEANDRESS) You are Glimmer Hesperus. Hesperus curtsies, with a pained expression. HESPERUS At your service. Little B’s cries stop. HESPERUS A violent end for a violent man. It is poetic in a way. PERSY (LEANDRESS) It is death. HESPERUS And death is not poetic? PERSY (LEANDRESS) Death is ugly. Quiet Crier comes to Persy’s side. QUIET CRIER That is why you never killed your pere. If willan took, you could have escaped years earlier, but you would not kill him.

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PERSY (LEANDRESS) I could not. It was not right. She turns and looks toward Little B’s battered body leaning against the tree. The other horses linger nearby. PERSY (LEANDRESS) That was not right. QUIET CRIER He would have killed you. PERSY (LEANDRESS) Not thisplace he would not have. You cannot just kill Leandress. She is a story. She lives forever. HESPERUS Until Ladytime ends her. Persy looks at Hesperus. PERSY (LEANDRESS) That is why I am thisplace, actually. I need to see the Empress of Time. HESPERUS You need to see her in your world. PERSY (LEANDRESS) I do not know how to find her. HESPERUS Yes, you do. Your memory has been coming back. Concentrate and you will remember where she lives, the specific address even. Étan menem. PERSY (LEANDRESS) No, I— HESPERUS See, you remember. PERSY (LEANDRESS) How did you know? HESPERUS

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It was I that took your memory away. PERSY (LEANDRESS) Why? Hesperus takes a sudden, deep breath. HESPERUS To give you a head start. It was the last I could do… the least I could do. PERSY (LEANDRESS) Kelly, I do not ken. QUIET CRIER It was the easiest way to keep Agirath off your trail. If you could not remember how to get to this place you would not come to this place and Agirath could not catch your scent. HESPERUS You traveled in your world to get to Empress Time, the Creator of us. Agirath lingered thisplace, waiting for a sign. PERSY (LEANDRESS) Does he know where I am thismoment? HESPERUS I suspect he does. You should leave. Go back to your world and find Empress Time. She is the only one that can guarantee your safety. PERSY (LEANDRESS) But, I just got thisplace. I cannot just leave. QUIET CRIER You must. It is the only way. Go thismoment, fore you bring Agirath down on the Pavanschall. Persy hugs Quiet Crier. QUIET CRIER (whispering) She dies for you. Persy takes a deep breath and pushes away from Quiet Crier. PERSY (LEANDRESS)

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What? QUIET CRIER Dirak could mayhap fix this, but… Quiet Crier looks to Hesperus then again to Persy. QUIET CRIER Go. PERSY (LEANDRESS) How? HESPERUS It is easy for you now. You have but to want it. Close on Persy as she closes her eyes. Pull back and she is back in the gas station. And, she is Persy again, torn blouse and everything. Peter’s body is nearby. Persy looks at it briefly then she goes around to the driver’s side of the jeep and gets in. The engine is still running. She looks at Peter again, then puts the jeep into gear and drives. She does surprisingly well for someone who has never driven before. CUT TO INT – JEEP – DAY Persy drives well enough. But, she fights off tears. As she drives, a scene plays out, projected onto the inside of the windshield. INT – BEDROOM – NIGHT Persy in white nightgown kneels by her bed to say her prayers. There is a triptych on the bedside table. PERSY …and bless mother in heaven. Amen. The triptych changes. The center image is a man, resembling stained glass in structure but moving. The image on the left is a demon, sedate and resolute, structured like stained glass and

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barely moving. The image on the right is an angel, beautiful but cunning, structured like stained glass but fluid almost, the feathers of her wings ruffling. The man in the middle, the TRIPTYCH MAN looks at Persy. TRIPTYCH MAN It’s not all like this, you know. Persy looks around, not realizing from where the voice is coming. PERSY Who said that? TRIPTYCH MAN I did. Persy looks at him. He playfully waves his hand. PERSY Who… What are you? TRIPTYCH MAN I’m here to tell you something. PERSY What? TRIPTYCH MAN That place where you go in your mind when your father hurts you— that place is real. PERSY That place is in my head. TRIPTYCH MAN Every place is in your head. Every place is in my head. The whole universe is inside us all. And we are all inside it. PERSY Sounds complicated. TRIPTYCH MAN Quite simple really. PERSY And if Gardea is real, so what?

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TRIPTYCH MAN Dreaming of escape without ever doing so is pointless, Persy. Don’t let your father hurt you again. The image fades and that last line seems to echo a bit: Don’t let your father hurt you again. Persy, driving the jeep, pulls to the side of the road and breaks down in tears. CUT TO EXT – HOUSE – DAY The storm clouds are worse. It seems almost night. Peter’s jeep parks in front of a small rundown house. There is a shiny black car parked out front already. Persy gets out of the jeep and walks toward the house. She rings the doorbell. Nothing happens. She rings the doorbell again. ZOE (from inside) I’m coming. Another moment passes. Then, the door opens and there is ZOE CHRISTOPHER. There is nothing about her to imply she is rich or powerful or that she just happens to be the goddess of another world, but she is all those things and more. PERSY Empress Time. ZOE Leandress of the Wild Wood. PERSY I need— ZOE You need my help. I know. PERSY

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You wrote this too? ZOE No. Hesperus got a message to me. Also, like Agirath, I noticed when you dropped off Gardea radar. Come in. Persy steps past Zoe into the house. Inside it is much nicer than on the outside. Zoe closes the door. Persy stops by a large pencil drawing on the wall. It could pass for a portrait of Persy herself. ZOE (O.S.) Leandress of the Wild Wood. Persy looks at Zoe. ZOE That’s you. I’m told you don’t remember everything. Persy shakes her head. ZOE You remember anything? Persy nods. ZOE What do you remember? PERSY Gardea from Strauss’ books is real. I have been there many times sithence I was young. I used to think I was just imagining it but I was not. Recently, I escaped the house of my pere and came searching for you. ZOE Why is that? PERSY I want to live. I do not want to be in both places. I do not want to be who I have been in thisplace. I cannot go back to the house of my pere. ZOE

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You want to belong in Gardea. Persy nods. ZOE Difficult to do. PERSY If I stay in this world, I am as good as dead. ZOE If you go back to Gardea, you’re as good as dead. Agirath doesn’t like you. PERSY Why not? ZOE He’s jealous. You can go back and forth at will. He can’t. It takes a lot of his power and strength to cross over. He has no alternate here. PERSY What does that mean? ZOE Only some of the players in Gardea have counterparts in this world, alternate selves with at least limited knowledge of the parts they play in both places. I am not actually Empress Time. PERSY You are not? ZOE No. But, then again, I am, sometimes. When I cross over, I am she. When I write the Gardea stories, I am she. PERSY Stories? I thought you have only written one so far. ZOE Silly Leandress. Empress Time is forever. Who do you think N A Strauss was? PERSY I do not know. A man who had been to Gardea fore.

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ZOE Strauss was not a guy. Strauss was me. I was Strauss. I’ve had many names over the years. Zoe Christopher is just the latest in a long line of them. PERSY So, you control Gardea? ZOE I create Gardea. I maintain Gardea. But, strictly speaking, I do not control Gardea. Once things there are there they have lives of their own. PERSY So, you cannot stop Agirath. ZOE I could end any life in Gardea at any time just by writing it, but that would ruin it. That would kill everything that makes Gardea special. See, I could make things happen however I want them to in Gardea, but I choose not to. I choose just to record what I see there, throw in some new characters from time to time and see what happens. I’m not God. PERSY Empress Time is. ZOE And, again, I am not Empress Time. At least, not completely. PERSY So, you cannot help me? ZOE That’s not really my place. PERSY But, you were my only hope. ZOE Get used to disappointment. Life isn’t fair. PERSY No. ZOE What?

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PERSY No. You CAN control things. You just do not want to. ZOE Right. Pause. ZOE I don’t want to. PERSY Well, mayhap you do not have a choice. ZOE What? PERSY I stay in thisplace, Agirath comes to thisplace. I stay in thisplace Ansin Wrathbone comes to thisplace. In Gardea or in Earth, you are in danger as long as I am in your house. ZOE And I could just as easily write you out of the story altogether as write out Agirath. No, in fact, it would be easier to write you out. Agirath is a necessary part of Gardea. You are not. PERSY A necessary part? What does he do that is so necessary? He is evil. All he does is cause people pain, inflict misery and death. ZOE And, without those things, the good parts wouldn’t be worth the time. You think bliss is a good thing, Leandress? PERSY Stop calling me that. ZOE I’ll call you whatever I want to call you. You’re just a fluke in the grand design, consciously existing in both worlds, able to slip back and forth at will— PERSY You cannot do that either, can you?

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ZOE What? PERSY You said Agirath was jealous. You are jealous too. You created the place and you cannot just go there whenever you like. Zoe looks away. PERSY I am right, am I not? ZOE I can’t go there at all. PERSY What? ZOE For me, it’s in my head, and that’s where it stays. I can see everything that goes on there, and I can effect things there by writing them, but I cannot go there myself. Empress Time is just an illusion. PERSY But, people have seen her. Mary Prejean went to her for help. ZOE An emissary playing a part. I can’t go there and Agirath— PERSY —cannot come to thisplace. Zoe nods. ZOE Something like that. PERSY Agirath cannot come into this world after me? ZOE No. PERSY So, if I can just stay out of the clutches of Wrathbone, I am free to live in this world.

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ANSIN (O.S) A little too late for that. Persy spins around. Behind her is ANSIN WRATHBONE, private investigator. In his own way, he is more powerful than Zoe could ever be and it shows in his eyes. This is a man who can make people jump through hoops if he wants them to do so. PERSY Wrathbone. ZOE He got here before you did. PERSY And this was not worth mentioning? Ansin raises his hand to show he has a gun. Persy looks at it then at Zoe. PERSY I thought Empress Time is forever. ZOE You ever get shot? It hurts. ANSIN And there’s a lot more I could do to someone like her to be sure I get my way. A lot I can do to you too. You killed one of my best men. PERSY I did not kill him. ANSIN You pulled him into another world. PERSY And he died there. I did not do it. ANSIN You couldn’t just come quietly, could you? PERSY I do not do quietly anymore.

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ANSIN This is why your father wants you dead if you won’t go home. PERSY Then kill me thismoment. I am not going back there. I cannot live like that. I cannot live like this. ANSIN I was hoping for something better from you, Persy. Can’t you at least beg a little? PERSY You know, in another reality, mayhap I was never beaten, whipped. Mayhap I was never chained to my bed. Mayhap I never had to run away and you never killed Morty. ANSIN Right. Well, this is this reality. PERSY Is it? Ansin rolls his eyes. PERSY Mayhap I never had reason to meet you. Mayhap I never even went to Gardea. ANSIN Or maybe that car killed you the other night. What’s your point? PERSY Some realities are better, stronger than others. Some exist only in our heads, in our books, our movies. Some are weak, only there for amusement. Some watch us. Some think they can control us, tell us what to do, how to live. Persy steps up onto a chair. Ansin points his gun at her. ANSIN Get down. What are you doing? PERSY

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I am closing this. I am ending this. This is my life, my world as much as it is your world or the world of my pere. Ansin shoots. The shot hits Persy in the chest, a bright red spurt on her torn white blouse. Persy reaches up and as she falls she grabs the edge of the screen and pulls at the edge of the film, tears it down. It rips, blinding white light coming through the tear. The film burns on the projector. White, blinding light overtakes us. Then, gradually, back into focus and Persy is there in the light. The blood is gone. She is in white, her skin pale. She looks right at us. PERSY You cannot just put me through all of this. She moves closer to us. PERSY I am not just some mindless fiction, some blank slate on which you can hang your hopes, your dreams and your fears idly. She is quiet for a moment. PERSY You do not just get to sit there watching. She looks away for a second, then takes a deep breath and returns her attention to us. PERSY This may all just be a story for you, sitting there with your popcorn and your fountain drinks. But, that does not mean it does not hurt. She pulls off her blouse. There are scars that wrap all the way around to the front but she turns so we can see her back, the lacework of scars there. PERSY

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These scars are not just makeup to me. Every line hurt. Every line still hurts. Persy faces us. PERSY My pain is not for you to put away in your memory with all the fictions you have read or seen. She is silent for some time. She moves closer. PERSY Leave me alone. Go home. Live your own lives. She turns to leave. PERSY I do not have the strength to amuse you anymore. She walks off into the light, fading into the white of it. Off center “the end” fades in then fades away. The credits roll, black on white. regb 2-26-3

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