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4: In The Woods

This issue opens later in the same day as issue 3. Shadows will be longer and the Sun is low in the West, if we ever see it.

Most narration will be in the form of Chi-Yun's letter, which will be noted as such in the script. This should be lettered with a distinctive "handwriting" style, a bit untidy but not illegible. Sometimes, a misspelled word may be crossed out or corrected. It should also be decorated with little pictures and icons in appropriate places—hearts, smiley faces, etc, showing that she's young and still somewhat immature at this stage of the story.

Note that the Jerome/Paul character is still Paul when this issue opens, so his dialogue is marked as such. But he will later change to Jerome.

PAGE ONE. Three panels.

Issue title and credits go somewhere on this page.

Panel 1

Close-up of DON leaning out of the window of his RV, speaking. (Note, this could be a small panel overlaying panel 2, which needs to take up a fairly big chunk of the page to establish the group).

CAPTION:

15 September 2014

DON:

—straight up that trail. You can't miss it. An hour. Less than an hour! You'll be fine. Jerome, you're in charge till I get back.

Panel 2

Big panel of the whole group, showing the RV driving away. We see SARA, JAMES, CHI-YUN, and PAUL. Sara is waving. Each is dressed for an outdoors hike. Except for James, who wears the green-and-black costume and the SHIELD strapped to his arm. Chi-Yun's coat should match the one she looked at last issue. All have a small pack on their back or on the ground next to them. Small packs, not huge rucksacks—they're spending the night in a cabin, not a week in tents. Chi-Yun's pack should be on her back and she will never take it off—it will be either on her back or missing completely. (This is because it does not exist—it is one manifestation of her shape-changing and therefore a part of her.) Sara's hair is tied back into a pony tail—very sensible when you have long hair and you're hiking through woods. Note that over the course of the next few pages, Chi-Yun's hair will grow slowly longer and more blonde. By page six it will match Sara's style exactly.

We can now see where they are: by the side of a road running through wooded hills. The flora is redwood, or sequoia, and whatever else is suitable for California in September. The woods slope upward steeply behind them—that's where they are going, so we may see the track they will be starting up.

CAPTION:

Southern California

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Dear Grandfather

PAUL:

I am not Jerome!

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

This is very exciting.

Panel 3

Sara points her finger in Paul's face while, in the background, James starts up the track.

SARA:

You're not in charge because you're not Jerome, ok?

PAUL:

I'm still the only adult here!

JAMES:

Can we just go before the Sun goes down?

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

I don't know which of my new friends is going to kill the others first :-o

PAGE TWO. Five panels.

Panel 1

They wind their way up a steep forest trail. The marching order is: Sara leading, then James, Paul, Chi-Yun.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

I'm sorry I left without saying goodbye. But I was in deathly danger. It's what you always warned me about. People chasing me because of my powers.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

But try not to worry about me. I am with other people just like me. For safety in numbers. I will be ok :-)

Panel 2

Close up on James and Sara.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

James is nice. Once you get past his idioc [scratched out] ideosin [scratched out] his weirdness. I mean dressing like a TV superhero.

JAMES:

Sara?

SARA:

Hmmm?

Panel 3

Still on Sara and James.

JAMES:

One thing I don't get about last night. Don sent you to find these three—but you didn't really know who you were looking for, did you?

SARA:

I'm just good at finding things. Don told me there were three super-humans, so I went looking and— just found them. That's just how it works. Then when I needed help I found—

JAMES:

—Me.

SARA:

Uh-huh.

Panel 4

Wider angle to include Paul, behind Sara and James. Emphasis on Paul.

PAUL:

Super-humans? I am not a super-human, thank you very much!

SARA:

Doc, you changed into your 300-year-old ancestor!

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Sara is so cool. She's nineteen and she knows all about clothes and things. And she saved my life from the werewolves—which are not really werewolves and I am not allowed to mention them to you.

Panel 5

Now showing Paul and Chi-Yun bringing up the rear.

PAUL:

Hypnotic regression isn't a superpower—it's a documented psychiatric procedure.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

I liked Paul better when he was Jerome—all English and polite. When he's Paul he's all L.A. and rude :-(

PAGE THREE. Five panels.

Panel 1

Interior of Don's RV, on the highway. Don is driving. FRED sits next to him. Music is coming from the vehicle's sound system (the song captions should be accompanied by little musical symbols). Oh dear, it's another talking heads page...

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

But if you think that sounds bad, you should hear Fred.

FRED:

You're really trusting the four stooges alone out there?

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

He really is Mister Attitude.

MUSIC:

Bermuda Triangle it makes people disappear

Panel 2

Don is looking at Fred and frowning. Fred is taking out a cigarette.

DON:

We have to get your legal problems straightened out. And we don't need them tagging along while we do it.

MUSIC:

Bermuda Triangle don't go too near

DON:

Not in the van. Please.

Panel 3

Holding the cigarette, Fred looks back at Don.

FRED:

I'll make you a deal. I'll put this away if you turn off that godawful noise.

MUSIC:

But look at it from my angle

Panel 4

Small panel: close up of Don's hand touching a control on the dash.

MUSIC:

And you'll see what I'm so gl—

SFX:

*tek*

DON:

Deal.

Panel 5

Sitting side-by-side in the cab again. Both staring straight forward.

FRED:

You could just throw me to the wolves—literally—and make a getaway with the others.

DON:

Your point being?

FRED:

You're walking back into who knows what danger—and those kids need you.

PAGE FOUR. Nine panels.

These panels should be arranged in a repetitive sequence of five rows: Panel 1 is a wide group shot, then a row of three smaller panels of close-ups; panel 5 is wide again; 6-8 are in a row; 9 is wide again.

Panel 1

They are still hiking. The same formation as before.

CAPTION (voice-over, DON's speech):

"Right now, you need me more than they do."

PAUL:

How long have we been walking?

JAMES:

One hour seventeen minutes.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

We're supposed to hide in some cabin till they get back.

SARA:

Hey look!

Panel 2

Sara is bending over and picking something off the floor. James watches.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

I'm sure we could hide just as well in a hotel.

JAMES:

What?

Panel 3

Sara has straightened up and turned and is dropping something into James's open hand.

SARA:

I guess some previous hiker lost this!

Panel 4

Close-up of JAMES's gloved palm. Lying there we see a small item of jewellery—diamond ear-ring or something. It looks pretty valuable.

JAMES:

I'll—ah—hand this in to the—ah—

Panel 5

The group continues walking.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

It seems a lot further than he described it!!!

PAUL:

For God's sake, how—

JAMES:

One hour thirty-six minutes.

SARA:

Hey!

Panel 6

Sara is bending over and picking something off the floor. James watches. This should be visually identical to panel 2.

JAMES:

What? Another one?

Panel 7

Sara is dropping something into James's open hand, in an exact copy of panel 3.

SARA:

No! Much better!

Panel 8

Close up of James's palm. Lying in it is a four-leafed clover.

JAMES:

Ohh—kay.

Panel 9

The straggling line continues onward and upward...

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

I'm pretty sure we took the wrong path.

PAUL:

Stop showing off and find us something useful—like the cabin!

SARA:

Found it!

PAGE FIVE. Six panels.

Panel 1

A view of a clearing in the woods. There's a small cabin. Typical log construction, part of one wall is stone and forms a chimney for a fireplace. Windows are shuttered. No sign of life—except the door is hanging open. It's growing late and shadows are lengthening.

No dialogue.

Panel 2

The group moves into the clearing.

PAUL:

That's it?

CHI-YUN:

It's kind of small...

SARA:

Do you think it has a bathtub?

Panel 3

Paul moves towards the cabin.

PAUL:

Why is the door open? Don said it had supplies but if it's been raided—

Panel 4

Paul is now almost at the doorway. A figure suddenly appears in the doorway. It's small—a foot shorter than Paul—but broad. It's also not human. Although it's the right shape, it's covered in shaggy hair and looks more like a small bear than anything else. We will call this WILD BOY.

PAUL:

What the—

Panel 5

Wild Boy runs into Paul, shoulder-charging him and knocking him off balance.

WILD BOY:

rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

PAUL:

Ooof

Panel 6

Paul is sitting on the ground, winded, while Wild Boy disappears into the trees. James and Sara start after Wild Boy, while Chi-Yun moves towards Paul.

CHI-YUN:

What was that?

SARA:

Was it a Krai?

JAMES:

I don't think so!

PAGE SIX. Seven panels.

Panel 1

James and Sara walk back towards Paul.

JAMES:

It must have been a... bear?

PAUL:

That was no bear.

Panel 2

Sara stands in the cabin doorway, looking in. We don't need to see inside the cabin—so we probably see the other three behind her from this POV.

SARA:

Whatever it was, it ransacked the cabin.

SARA:

But there's a lot of canned stuff here that's not touched.

Panel 3

Close-up on Chi-Yun

CHI-YUN:

Great! I'm starving!

Panel 4

Everybody looks at Chi-Yun

CHI-YUN:

What? It's gone, we're safe, let's eat!

Panel 5

Close-up on Sara. She is holding her pony-tail in her hand and waving it.

SARA (softly):

Chi-Yun...

Panel 6

Close-up of Chi-Yun. She's touching her own hair, which now looks identical to Sara's.

CHI-YUN (softly):

Oh.

Panel 7

Same view of Chi-Yun, but now her hair is her old bob-cut style.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Of course, even though there [sic] friends I'm not letting them see what my power can do.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

So far I think I'm doing pretty good.

PAGE SEVEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

Obviously later. The group sits outside the cabin, around a camp fire. All dressed as before. Packs lie scattered around. Finishing off a meal of canned yummies. It's now dark enough for the camp fire to throw shadows behind them.

JAMES:

We need to set a watch tonight, in case it comes back

SARA:

We should watch in pairs.

CHI-YUN:

Shhh! Someone's coming!

Panel 2

Paul, Sara, and Chi-Yun stand and look in the direction Chi-Yun is now pointing. And from the direction comes RANGER MARC CARTER. He's a Park Service ranger, and wears the appropriate uniform and carries suitable equipment—including a rifle slung on his shoulder. When we see him closer, we will see a youngish, handsome, but lined and weather-beaten face. Note that James is sitting in shadow away from the others throughout the following conversation.

CARTER:

Evening, folks. You're a bit off the beaten track. Not many hikers make it over this way.

Panel 3

Close on Paul, Sara and Chi-Yun. Overlapping speech bubbles for the last three captions on this panel will indicate them speaking in unison.

PAUL:

Good evening, Ranger!

SARA:

Lovely evening for camping!

CHI-YUN:

Actually we're on—

PAUL:

A field trip!

SARA:

Vacation!

CHI-YUN:

The run!

Panel 4

Same view of them. Looking at Carter with "oh my God" expressions on their faces.

No dialogue.

Panel 5

Same view as they all speak again. Speech bubbles for captions the last three captions will overlap to indicate simultaneous speech again.

PAUL:

Ha ha ha ha!

SARA:

Oh, ignore her, she's—

PAUL:

Young!

SARA:

Insane!

CHI-YUN:

Chinese!

Panel 6

Close up of James, sitting in the shadows.

JAMES (softly):

Oh good grief.

PAGE EIGHT. Six panels.

Panel 1

Carter looking bemused at Paul, Sara, and Chi-Yun.

CARTER:

You folks been drinking?

Panel 2

Paul steps up to the ranger, taking charge.

PAUL:

Oh, don't mind them, Ranger. Just fooling with you.

CARTER:

Well—if you folks want, I can lead you to the main camping ground—

Panel 3

Paul has his hand on Carter's shoulder, all friendly but actually turning him away from the campfire.

PAUL:

No, really, we're fine. We've got food and shelter and we'll be pushing on in the morning.

CARTER:

Well if you're sure you want to stay here...

Panel 4

Paul's POV as Carter moves to the edge of the clearing.

No dialogue.

Panel 5

Continue Paul's POV. Carter is crouching and looking at the ground.

PAUL (softly):

uh-oh

Panel 6

Identical scene, but the ranger is looking back at Paul.

CARTER:

You folks haven't seen anything—strange—around here have you?

PAGE NINE. Six panels.

Panel 1

Sara has moved next to Paul.

SARA (softly):

Does he mean—

PAUL (softly):

shhh

PAUL:

Why, no! Not a thing!

Panel 2

Carter walking back towards Paul. Significantly, he has his hand on his rifle.

CARTER:

There have been some reports of a—bear.

Panel 3

Paul and Carter facing each other, probably a couple of yards apart. Sara and Chi-Yun may be visible behind Paul.

PAUL:

A bear? A bear here?

CARTER:

Yeah, I know. But still, maybe I should get you folks to a proper camp.

Panel 4

Same situation.

PAUL:

A bear. Ha ha ha—no, we'll be fine. We've got the cabin and all—

CARTER:

Well—you just take care, ok?

Panel 5

Paul, Sara, and Chi-Yun watch Carter walk back towards the trees.

PAUL (softly):

He knows something about that—thing.

SARA (softly):

Why do you think that?

PAUL (softly):

My job is knowing when someone's holding something back.

Panel 6

The ranger disappears into the gloom of the trees.

PAUL:

Besides—he's going in exactly the same direction it did.

PAGE TEN. Seven panels.

Panel 1

Close up on Paul, looking thoughtful.

PAUL:

There's a mystery here.

PAUL:

And I'm going to get to the bottom of it.

Panel 2

Sara and Chi-Yun exchange a doubtful look.

CHI-YUN:

We shouldn't be looking for more trouble—

SARA:

Don said to stay put—

Panel 3

Paul walks away from the other two, following the ranger's direction.

PAUL:

You do what Don wants. I can think for myself

SARA:

Don't be stupid—it's getting dark. You can't hike through these woods in the dark.

Panel 4

Paul is now at the edge of the clearing. Speaking with his back to the others.

PAUL:

No. I can't—

Panel 5

And now Paul has turned to face them—but it's no longer Paul, it's JEROME. Of course there is no visible change, but we'll use 'Jerome' in the script from now. Jerome is smiling at them.

JEROME:

But I can. I will return within the hour.

Panel 6

Sara and Chi-Yun watch Jerome vanish into the murk.

CHI-YUN:

Jerome—?

SARA (yelling):

Wait!

SARA (softly):

Aggravating—ok, I'm telling Don.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

You know those movies where the kids are in the woods and they always split up so the boogie-man can get them—

Panel 7

Sara turns to where James is sitting—he's seemingly oblivious to all this.

SARA:

And dammit you're not much help!

JAMES:

Who me? Don left him in charge!

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

—Well I'm starting to think I'm the only one who watches those...

PAGE ELEVEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

Don's RV parked outside a police precinct. It's a busy city street, at night.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

I'm sure Don would have a plan.

DON (from inside vehicle):

Okay, here's the plan—

Panel 2

View inside the parked vehicle, where Don is talking to Fred.

DON:

We're gonna go in, you'll give a statement, and we'll get the APB on you dropped.

FRED:

You make it sound easy.

Panel 3

Don and Fred have left the vehicle. Don is activating the alarm with his key-fob thing.

DON:

I know the investigating officer. It will be cool.

SFX:

beeeep

FRED:

And if the Krai are there, waiting for me to walk in?

Panel 4

They are ascending the stairs into the building. A number of people are about, including uniformed officers. Fred is looking around nervously.

DON:

There's a warrant out for your arrest. They won't expect you to be just walking into a police precinct.

FRED (softly):

No, I'd have to be a lunatic to do that.

Panel 5

They stop just before entering the door. Don has his hand on Fred's shoulder, reassuringly.

DON:

You know we have to do this. We can't have every cop in California looking for you.

FRED:

Whatever. Let's get it over with.

PAGE TWELVE. Four panels.

Panel 1

Sara, James, and Chi-Yun sitting around the camp fire. It's decidedly dark now.

CHI-YUN:

How long has Jerome been gone?

JAMES:

One hour fifty minutes.

SARA:

I hate how you do that!

Panel 2

Focus on James and Sara.

JAMES:

I'm sorry, but I'm not Jerome's keeper, and blundering through the woods in the pitch dark is not my idea of—

SARA:

Oh, fine. I thought you were along to help us, but if you're going to back down as soon as it gets dangerous—

JAMES:

All I'm saying is—

SARA:

Damn it will you at least raise your voice when you're arguing with me!

Panel 3

Now a close up on Chi-Yun, gazing into the woods.

CHI-YUN:

Guys...

JAMES (off-panel):

I'm not arguing with you.

CHI-YUN:

Guys...

Panel 4

A wide shot of the clearing, showing the group by the fire and the person Chi-Yun has been staring at. This is DOYLE. He's dressed for hiking, with a pack on his back. He has a pump-action shotgun strapped to his pack; we might not see it in this view (maybe we see the stock over his shoulder), but it will become apparent eventually. Doyle is getting on in years—he could easily be in his 60s, but he looks wiry and tough. Something like an older Clint Eastwood would be about right. He's at the edge of the clearing and has possibly been observing the group for some time. His face is grim.

CHI-YUN:

Do you know there's an old dude over there, watching us?

CHI-YUN (softly):

And I don't think he looks very friendly.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Sometimes I'm sure I'm the only person here with any common sense.

PAGE THIRTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

Doyle is crossing the clearing towards them.

DOYLE:

Interesting costume, son.

Panel 2

The three are now on their feet. Doyle has stopped in front of James. He holds his hand out to shake, but his expression is still hard.

DOYLE:

Seems to me I saw one just like it on a fella, more'n twenty years ago.

Panel 3

James takes Doyle's hand.

DOYLE:

The name's Doyle. Mike Doyle. Ring any bells?

JAMES:

No. Any reason why it should?

Panel 4

The handshake over, Doyle is now looking around carefully. He's not looking at James while he's speaking.

DOYLE:

Oh, no reason. Say—

Panel 5

Doyle suddenly turns and looks right at the group.

DOYLE:

—You kids haven't seen anything strange around here have you?

CHI-YUN:

You mean like a small bear thing?

SARA:

Oh my God, Chi-Yun!

Panel 6

Focus on Doyle. He's now wearing a grim smile.

DOYLE:

Bear thing, huh? That could be it. Any idea which way it went?

PAGE FOURTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

James is standing face-to-face with Doyle. Very confrontational.

JAMES:

We don't know anything, Mister Doyle.

DOYLE:

You don't, huh?

Panel 2

Doyle is using a match to light a thick stubby cigar. Oh yes, definitely going for the Clint look here. The set of James's jaw is grimly determined.

DOYLE:

It would be in your interest to stay on my good side.

JAMES:

Maybe you should be getting on your way now.

Panel 3

Wider shot, showing Chi-Yun and Sara at James's back. Doyle grins, cigar between his teeth.

DOYLE:

So that's the way it is, is it?

Panel 4

Doyle is now walking away. His back is to the group. From their POV, we should quite clearly see the pump-action on his back.

DOYLE:

You've got some big boots to fill, kid. But so far, all I hear is talk.

DOYLE (softly):

That was the problem with the last one, too.

DOYLE:

Later, kid.

Panel 5

James watches the darkness where Doyle has now vanished. His face is impassive. Sara and Chi-Yun both look at him.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Everybody we meet knows James. It's the costume he wears. I don't know what it is, but I will find out.

SARA:

Well?

JAMES:

Well what?

Panel 6

James is striding into the woods. The other two trail behind him.

SARA:

Well what are we doing now?

JAMES:

I don't know about you, but I'm going after Jerome.

SARA:

Now you decide!

PAGE FIFTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

Establishing shot of Fred alone, sitting on a chair in a corridor. He's by a door that is obviously an interview room. Police officers are moving past. He's uncomfortable and his body language is very defensive.

No dialogue.

Panel 2

Inside the interview room. Only two occupants: Don and ALAN GRADY, the detective from last issue. Although there is a table and chairs, they are both standing. Both a little agitated.

DON:

I mean it, Grady. I need you to forget this kid as a suspect.

GRADY:

He's my only suspect. You want me to drop him, you've got to give me solid reasons.

Panel 3

Still in the room. Confrontational.

DON:

I can't give you anything. It's a matter of national security.

GRADY:

Don't con me, Don. You're not in that business any more.

DON:

Okay, so I'm out of the Department. There are still things out there bigger than your murder investigation.

GRADY:

I've got two dead people. That's pretty big in my book.

Panel 4

Don is looking out of the interview room's small window. He can just about see where Fred is sitting.

GRADY (probably off-panel):

I'm sorry, Don.

DON:

You'll be sorry if you hold that kid and find he's dead by morning.

Panel 5

Don is again facing Grady, pointing a finger emphatically in his face.

DON:

That kid is important in ways that I just can't explain. And some seriously powerful forces are out to get him.

GRADY:

Then work with me! Give me names and details. We can arrange protective—

Panel 6

DON getting visibly more angry.

DON (yelling):

No!

DON:

No—you can't protect him. Haven't you been listening to me?

PAGE SIXTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

Grady leans over the small table, resting his hands on it. Head bowed.

GRADY:

You walk in here—it's been years—and ask me to break every ethic I've got—

DON:

The kid needs to vanish, and he can't while you have a warrant out on him.

Panel 2

Don turns his back on Grady as he speaks (we see him from behind, so we don't see his expression any more than Grady does).

GRADY:

Why can't you just tell me?

DON (softly):

I'm working with a group put together by Fennec.

Panel 3

Grady sinks into one of the interview room chairs.

GRADY (softly):

Oh my god.

Panel 4

Don looks down at Grady, who is visibly shaken.

DON:

You understand why that can't leave this room?

Panel 5

Outside the interview room. Fred is watching the door; it is opening.

No dialogue.

Panel 6

Don has stepped into the corridor. Fred rises to face him.

DON:

You'll have to sign a statement, but he'll sit on it until we've vanished.

DON:

You're clear. At least try to look happy.

PAGE SEVENTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

An exterior view of a suburban house. A large, up-market kind of house, but not ostentatious, in a respectable neighbourhood. A respectable-looking saloon car is on the driveway outside the garage (it's a double garage). It's night and street lights are on (this is simultaneous with events in the woods). A man is at the front door of the house. This is FRANKLIN MARKS. He's fiftyish, slim, neatly groomed, wearing office clothes and carrying a briefcase. Letting himself into the house.

CAPTION:

San Francisco.

Panel 2

He's in the hallway. He puts his case on a side table and loosens his necktie. The computer voice in this panel should be lettered in a distinctive "computer style" type. Computer captions don't have an obvious point of origin.

COMPUTER:

Good evening, Doctor Marks.

FRANKLIN:

Shut up, computer.

COMPUTER:

Shutting up, Doctor Marks.

Panel 3

He's entering a sitting room. Very comfortable. Lots of bookcases.

FRANKLIN:

Carla, I wish you'd keep the voice interface off. It gives me creepy flashbacks.

Panel 4

We now see CARLA MARKS. She's a similar age to Franklin. Her brown hair is shoulder length and shows unmistakable streaks of grey. Dressed casually. Wears glasses. Attractive. She's curled up in a big, comfortable armchair, a computer balanced on her knees. She smiles as she looks up at him.

CARLA:

Luddite!

Panel 5

He is mixing drinks. Note that if we can identify what the drinks are, hers should be non-alcoholic. (Carla doesn't drink; it's not relevant now, but one day it might become important for continuity purposes.)

CARLA:

So? How did the search for Alex go?

FRANKLIN:

Alex Moon has vanished from the face of the Earth.

Panel 6

Hands her a drink.

FRANKLIN:

His girlfriend is convinced that cult has something to do with it. I'm starting to believe her.

CARLA:

So then it's a police matter.

PAGE EIGHTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

He sits down in an armchair opposite her.

FRANKLIN:

I don't want to risk the police. Because of what he is—

CARLA:

Frank—

FRANKLIN:

—what he might be.

Panel 2

He is standing again, pacing.

FRANKLIN:

He's tested higher on latent psychic ability than anyone since—

FRANKLIN:

—Well, since me.

CARLA:

I know we've theorised about a new generation of super-humans, but—

Panel 3

He's still pacing.

FRANKLIN:

But nothing! If we've thought about it, so have other people. And that means he might be a target. And that's why I'm going to—

CARLA:

Don't even say it. You are not going into action again Franklin Marks!

Panel 4

Close up on Carla looking down at her computer. She's smiling.

CARLA:

I got a call from Luey today. He was acting all mysterious.

FRANKLIN (off-panel):

Oh, that can't be good.

CARLA:

Don is back on the West Coast.

Panel 5

Close up of Franklin now.

FRANKLIN:

Don? Don!

Panel 6

She's now looking at him and both are smiling broadly.

FRANKLIN:

I might just give him a call—

CARLA:

In the morning.

FRANKLIN:

—In the morning.

PAGE NINETEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

It's dark. I mean, a black panel. James, Chi-Yun, and Sara are visible as dark grey shapes, nothing more. Maybe some dark grey tree-shapes, also.

SFX:

THUD

SPEECH (uncertain origin):

Ow!

SFX:

Crack!!

SPEECH (uncertain origin):

Ow!

Panel 2

Still black. One dark shape (Sara) is confronting another (James).

SARA:

Do you have any idea where we are?

JAMES:

Not much...

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

So here we are, lost in the woods. We can't even see where—

Panel 3

Small panel showing a close up of a grey shape that might be Chi-Yun's face.

CHI-YUN (softly):

—Oh!

Panel 4

Identical panel, but now Chi-Yun's eyes are glowing green with wide, vertically-slitted pupils, like a cat's.

CHI-YUN (thought):

Cat.

Panel 5

Identical panel to panel 2, but now we're seeing it from Chi-Yun's POV. And she has perfect night vision, so James and Sara are thrown into sharp relief (there should be some unnatural cast to the colours or the lighting—maybe like those nature programmes filmed at night with vision enhancement).

SARA:

So what are we gonna do now?

CHI-YUN (off-panel):

Uh... did you know I can see really well in the dark?

Panel 6

Same view, but now Sara and James are looking out-of-panel at Chi-Yun.

SARA (softly):

Brilliant.

JAMES:

See? All it needs is for us to act like a team!

SARA (softly):

Oh yeah, that's gonna happen any year now.

PAGE TWENTY. Five panels.

Panel 1

It's still dark and the shapes of James, Sara, and Chi-Yun are moving through the woods. Chi-Yun is leading.

SARA:

We're still lost, aren't we?

CHI-YUN:

Yes, but at least I've stopped walking into—

SFX:

CRACK!

CHI-YUN (softly):

Owwww.

Panel 2

Close-up of (dark) Chi-Yun, rubbing her head.

CHI-YUN:

Shhh! There's—

JEROME (off-panel):

Well met, friends!

Panel 3

Chi-Yun's POV, so we get the night-vision lighting effect. Jerome is moving towards them (possibly vaulting carelessly over a fallen tree, or something), and waving.

Panel 4

Jerome has reached them and is pointing off to the side.

JEROME:

Where are you going? The cabin is only fifty yards that way.

JAMES:

Fifty yards?

SARA (softly):

<sigh>

Panel 5

All four are now moving through the woods.

JAMES:

Did you learn anything?

JEROME:

Very little. Naught about what the animal was. The Ranger was not able to track it and neither was I.

PAGE TWENTY-ONE. Five panels.

Panel 1

They arrive back in the clearing. The cabin is visible, with the door slightly ajar, and the remains of the fire. There is now light from the Moon—still almost full.

SARA (softly):

We didn't leave the door open.

Panel 2

They make their way across the clearing, towards the cabin.

JEROME (softly):

I believe it has returned.

JEROME (softly):

Wait here—I am going in.

Panel 3

Jerome is at the cabin door, a little ahead of the others.

JAMES (softly):

But—

JEROME (softly):

Shhh!

Panel 4

Jerome entering the cabin, alone.

No dialogue.

Panel 5

The cabin. The door is now shut.

No dialogue.

PAGE TWENTY-TWO. Six panels.

Panel 1

Exactly the same view of the cabin.

SFX:

CRASH!!!!

SFX:

WHAM!

SFX:

SMACK!!

Panel 2

Sara, James, and Chi-Yun look at each other.

SFX:

THUD

Panel 3

The cabin again. The door is open slightly and Jerome's head pokes out.

JEROME:

Bring me some food.

Panel 4

The other three approach the cabin. Jerome remains where he is, not opening the door any further.

CHI-YUN:

What happened?

JEROME:

He was mightily strong. But in my voyages in the East, I learned a secret art of turning an opponent's strength against—

SARA:

Yeah, yeah. Ju-jitsu. So what about the...?

Panel 5

As before, Jerome still blocking the door.

JEROME:

He's a child. Younger than you, I think. But malformed though he may be, he is as human as you or I.

JEROME:

Now please may I have some food for him?

Panel 6

Showing James's, Sara's, and Chi-Yun's reactions—mostly shock and amazement.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

We're doing ok Grandfather. I know we will be fine.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

I will visit when it's safe.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Love from Chi-Yun Chi-Yun signature =^..^=

Next issue: Choices

See also: Don's Mission Report

Copyright © 2002, 2008, 2016 by David Meadows. All rights reserved.