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A Dark and Stormy Night

This issue takes place entirely at night and outdoor scenes should be lit appropriately. Furthermore, it is raining heavily throughout the issue.

Narration will be in the form of CHI-YUN's LETTER to her GRANDFATHER, which will be noted as such in the script. This should be lettered with a distinctive "handwriting" style, a bit untidy, with crossing-out and corrections, and occasionally decorated with smiley faces and other whimsies (see ISSUE 4).

PAGE ONE. Four panels.

Panel 1

A highway snakes through a wooded, hilly region. Sheets of rain batter the road. In the distance, the headlights of a lone vehicle (a big SUV, the same one our heroes have used in the last few issues, though details may not be apparent at this distance) come towards us.

CAPTION:

Tuesday 30 September 2014

VOICE (from vehicle):

Maybe you should slow down, Sara.

VOICE (from vehicle):

I do know what I'm doing James.

Panel 2

The vehicle gets closer; still in the middle distance.

CAPTION:

Minnesota

VOICE (from vehicle):

We'd do better on a proper highway.

VOICE (from vehicle):

Don't blame me, Fred, James had the map.

Panel 3

We now watch the vehicle coming towards us (it's still some way off) from road level, at such an angle that the foreground is filled by the trunk of a massive oak tree which is on the uphill slope at the side of the road. Water runs down the slope in rivulets.

VOICE (from vehicle):

We would do better with computer navigation, James.

VOICE (from vehicle):

I don't trust computer navigation, Paul.

SFX (tree):

Cre-e-e-k

Panel 4

From the same POV (with the vehicle a little closer), the tree is leaning at a dangerous angle. Roots are tearing out of the ground.

VOICE (from vehicle):

Should have expected that from a man who uses a wristwatch like that.

VOICE (from vehicle):

There's nothing wrong with a Mickey Mou—

SFX (tree):

K-e-e-r-r-

PAGE TWO. Four panels.

Panel 1

Now looking from behind the vehicle, we see the huge tree, completely uprooted, falling across the road immediately in front of it.

SFX (tree):

KER-RASH

VOICE (from vehicle):

Look out!

VOICE (from vehicle):

Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!

Panel 2

The vehicle swerves off the road, narrowly missing the tree.

SFX (tyres):

Screeeeee

Panel 3

The vehicle crashes into a ditch, sending up a huge splash of water.

SFX (vehicle):

SPLOOSH

Panel 4

The vehicle sits at a tilt with its front axle submerged. It's unlikely that it will be going anywhere. All is still, apart from the falling rain.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Dear grandfather. We are in trouble again.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

This possibly does not surprise you very much.

PAGE THREE. Four panels.

Panel 1

We can now see the interior of the vehicle. SARA is in the driver's seat, gripping the wheel tightly. JAMES sits next to her. In the back seat sit PAUL, FRED, and CHI-YUN -- with CHI-YUN sandwiched between the two men and looking considerably smaller than either of them (as if she has shrunk to make space). All are in assorted travelling clothes, as suit their individual tastes (SARA's are fashionable, PAUL's are smart, JAMES's are practical, FRED wears his leather jacket, and CHI-YUN is in her "cute Chinese teen" look.)

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Our friend Don was missing and we were supposed to be rescuing him. The alien wolf-things got him after we separated. So, as you can see, time was short.

FRED:

I thought you were supposed to be lucky?

SARA:

We're alive aren't we?

PAUL:

Let it go, Fred.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

So were tempers.

Panel 2

They all stand in the rain, examining the stuck vehicle and looking very wet and miserable.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Luckily I was there to save the day. As usual.

SARA:

Chi-Yun, you can change into a horse and pull—

CHI-YUN:

I can't move anything that big!

CHI-YUN:

But we could ask for help at that house!

Panel 3

CHI-YUN is pointing off into the distance (we only see blackness).

JAMES

What h—

Panel 4

A sudden flash of lighting illuminates the entire sky. Silhouetted against the sky, in the direction CHI-YUN is pointing, is a house. It's in the distance but we should be able to see a large, gothic mansion: three stories, pointed roof with gables, many windows. There are gargoyles on the roof (but it's not necessary to show that much detail at this distance).

SFX (thunder):

KA-BOOM!

JAMES

Never mind.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

It's useful be able to see in the dark like a cat.

SARA:

Come on, at least we can get out of the rain.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

And to be waterproof like a duck.

PAGE FOUR. Five panels.

Panel 1

The five of them are now at the door of the house. We need to show the reader a very spooky place -- hence the gargoyles. The windows are all dark (with closed curtains). A short flight of steps leads up to the big, imposing front door. The old-fashioned door knocker is in the form of a lion's head. The group stands at the bottom of the steps (dripping), looking up at it. Note that JAMES is carrying the big "art case" that holds his shield, as well as a small bag. The others are carrying small bags or backpacks, except for CHI-YUN who is empty-handed (she doesn't need a change of clothes).

FRED:

I've got a bad feeling about this.

PAUL:

For God's sake, let's just get in!

Panel 2

Close-up on FRED's frowning face (rain streaming down it) as he looks up at the building.

FRED:

A very bad—

Panel 3

A sudden cut to a different scene. It's indoors, a dark room. We can't see much detail except for CHI-YUN, on her back on the floor, arms up to protect her head, screaming. And sitting atop her, pinning her to the floor, is a man -- well, maybe a man. It's humanoid but has long claws or talons on its hands, which it is using to slash at CHI-YUN. Its head is thrown back in a howl. Its hair is long and wild. But the form is in silhouette and we can make out nothing more than this.

CREATURE:

Aaooooooooooooooo

CHI-YUN:

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

Panel 4

Back to the close-up on FRED, in a panel identical to panel 2.

FRED:

Wait!

Panel 5

Everybody turns to look at FRED.

FRED:

Don't go in. There's a monster. It will attack Chi-Yun and—

SARA:

Oh come on, Halloween is a month away!

PAUL:

You're letting the setting spook you, Fred.

PAGE FIVE. Six panels.

Panel 1

FRED grabs PAUL by the arm.

FRED:

I saw it! Something in there's gonna get Chi-Yun.

CHI-YUN:

Why is it always me getting attacked when you have a precognition?

Panel 2

JAMES and SARA stand side-by-side at the top of the steps. JAMES is hammering on the big door-knocker. SARA looks down and to the side.

JAMES:

Everybody be on your guard. But we've got to get out of the rain before we catch pneumonia.

SARA:

Oh, look—

Panel 3

SARA takes a step to the side and bends down.

SARA:

A quar—

Panel 4

A big stone gargoyle drops from above and crashes to the floor, exploding into fragments, precisely where SARA was standing a second ago!

SFX (statue):

KRASH

Panel 5

SARA straightens up, holding a coin. She and JAMES both looked, stunned, at the rubble on the floor.

SARA:

—ter.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

I did tell you that Sara is supernaturally lucky? I think that's why it's always me getting attacked in Fred's visions and not her.

Panel 6

An angle up to the roof of the building. Crouching by a remaining gargoyle (there is an empty plinth where its twin stood) is a figure. A flash of lighting has thrown everything into sharp relief -- so all we see is the same silhouette FRED saw attacking CHI-YUN in his vision. Still no details. Just a shadow, lurking.

SFX (thunder):

KA-BOOM!

PAGE SIX. Five panels.

Panel 1

Everybody looks up at the roof. Except for CHI-YUN: she holds up a piece of the gargoyle's head and regards it critically. (Everybody is going to speak so it will need a large panel and the character placement must allow the conversation to flow meaningfully.)

CHI-YUN:

Also! Poor Yorrick!

SARA:

"Alas"

JAMES:

I suppose the wind — and the rain —

PAUL:

Did you see something?

FRED:

I'm not sure—

Panel 2

CHI-YUN gapes, disbelieving, at SARA.

SARA:

Chi-Yun, fly up and—

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Sometimes, being the most powerful member of the team is a liability.

CHI-YUN:

Oh, right, like, I'm just going to fly up there all by myself and get attacked by a monster just so Fred can say "I told you so"!

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Anyway, it's a good thing I didn't go. Because we're supposed to be keeping our powers secret and at that moment—

Panel 3

A close-up on the door as it opens -- just a crack, at the moment, to let light spill out onto the porch.

SFX (door):

Crreeaak

Panel 4

The door is now fully open and we see the group from the back as they all look at the man in the doorway. He's old (70, maybe?), stocky, has slicked-back grey hair, and is dressed like an English butler. (Of course. What else in a house like this?) This man is ARTHUR FIRNE. I'm not sure if his name will come out in the dialogue but I'll label his captions "ARTHUR" anyway.

ARTHUR:

Yes?

Panel 5

Identical panel. Nobody has moved, except CHI-YUN is holding out the gargoyle head.

CHI-YUN:

Excuse me, is this a piece of your gargoyle?

PAGE SEVEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

Now we look from FIRNE's POV at the five soaking figures looking back at him.

JAMES:

We have car trouble, sir.

SARA:

We'd appreciate it if you could give us some shelter.

FRED (softly):

Take your time. It's only a frickin' monsoon out here.

Panel 2

Same view. A voice calls from inside the house.

VOICE (off panel):

What is it, Arthur?

ARTHUR:

A stranded party, sir.

VOICE (off-panel):

Well, let them in, for pete's sake. Don't leave them dripping!

Panel 3

A wide, high entrance hall. There are several doors leading off it and a wide, sweeping staircase to the upper floors. It is minimally furnished (table, hat stand, etc.) Our heroes stand dripping in the centre of the floor. (Actually, CHI-YUN isn't dripping. Her clothes don't seem wet at all. Her powers have kept her dry.) ARTHUR closes the front door behind them (but he doesn't need to be in the panel). From one door, a man emerges: tall, slim, the wrong side of 50, hair greying at the temples, dressed semi-formally (as befits the owner of a big olde-worlde mansion in the woods, if you see what I mean). His face is smiling and jovial. This is ALAN HAMPSHIRE.

ALAN:

Good evening, good evening. Welcome to our humble abode. What brings visitors in this weather?

Panel 4

PAUL steps forward to shake the man's extended hand (remember that PAUL is the only adult in the group).

PAUL:

A tree fell in the storm. Our car's in the ditch and—

Panel 5

Close-up of PAUL holding up his phone.

PAUL:

We can't get a phone reception. Can we use your—

ALAN:

Electrical storms aren't good for those satellite phones. But our land line is down, too. The storm, again.

Panel 6

ALAN gestures expansively.

ALAN:

But you must stay with us! The weather will clear by morning.

PAGE EIGHT. Five panels.

Panel 1

PAUL looks back at the rest of the group, doubtful.

PAUL:

We shouldn't impose—

JAMES:

The town is only five miles away. Someone should have a tow truck.

ALAN (off-panel):

Nonsense! None of you should go out again in this weather!

Panel 2

As CHI-YUN speaks, SARA elbows her in the ribs.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

After Fred's warning, I didn't want to stay here all night.

CHI-YUN:

I can Fl-iyyyyy

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Luckily I had the sense not to mention my powers.

Panel 3

Close-up on FRED and JAMES, with FRED staring into JAMES's eyes.

FRED (thought):

James. Something feels wrong. Let's leave.

JAMES (thought):

We would never make the town in this weather, Fred.

Panel 4

JAMES turns back to PAUL and ALAN. FRED glares at JAMES's back.

FRED (thought):

You just can't resist the mystery, can you?

JAMES:

If it's really no imposition, sir?

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

So, as usual, we did what James wanted.

Panel 5

ALAN gestures towards ARTHUR, who stands at the bottom of the stairs. ARTHUR frowns.

ALAN:

No imposition at all! Firne will show you to your rooms.

FRED (softly):

Terrific.

ALAN:

We have not yet dined. Please join us. Nine-thirty should give you enough time to freshen up and dry yourselves.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

But he's not team leader or anything. Oh, no.

PAGE NINE. Seven panels.

Panel 1

In another room of the house: a library. Floor-to-ceiling shelves are lined with books. A large portrait (of an unidentifiable subject -- a man in 19th century dress, or something) hangs on one wall. The heavy rain can be seen through a large window (though it's not essential to show the window at all in this panel). (Before somebody points out that all the curtains were closed: this room is obviously at the back of the house. Duh.) Sitting in a large leather chair and reading a book is JEAN HAMPSHIRE. She is of a similar age to ALAN, red-haired and attractive, and smartly dressed. ALAN has entered the library and she glares at him.

JEAN:

You let them stay?

ALAN:

What was I supposed to do, Jean? Let them use the phone and bring other people here?

Panel 2

She stands to confront him.

JEAN:

You're a fool! What if they find—

Panel 3

He has his hands on her shoulders, reassuringly.

ALAN:

Darling, don't worry. They're just travelers. And it's only one night. We need to stay calm, act normal—

Panel 4

She had turned from him and looks out of the window.

JEAN:

Normal? How can anything ever be normal again? Ever since—

Panel 5

We can see the two of them, standing by the window, through two small eye-shaped holes in an otherwise black panel. Our POV is actually through the eyes of the portrait.

JEAN:

it.

Panel 6

Now a reverse view of the wall, showing us the portrait. It needs to be obvious, in this view, that the "eyes" of the portrait are actually real eyes looking through holes. Neither of the occupants of the room need to be present in this panel.

ALAN (off-panel):

Now, come on. You know how close I am to ending our problem!

JEAN (off-panel):

Close! How many years have you been saying that, Alan? And now, if we are discovered—

Panel 7

An extreme close-up on the eyes, just to make the point obvious.

ALAN (off-panel):

Darling, don't worry. And if they should discover our secret—

PAGE TEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

Close-up as JAMES is closing a heavy wooden door on ARTHUR.

CAPTION (voice-over, continuing ALAN's speech):

"—Well, Arthur and I will do whatever is necessary to stop them revealing it."

JAMES:

Thank you, er, Mr. Firne.

Panel 2

Wider view as JAMES turns and surveys the room he's in. A bedroom with heavy, dark, old-fashioned wooden furnishings. There is a four-poster bed. And another door, in the wall to JAMES's left.

No dialogue.

Panel 3

JAMES has crossed to the other door and has his hand on the handle.

No dialogue.

Panel 4

JAMES has opened the door. We see, from his POV, into a bedroom very similar to his. SARA stands by the bed. She has her back to us, which is lucky because she's taken her shirt off. (She's taken her boots off, too -- a minor detail but important in a moment.)

JAMES:

Oh!

Panel 5

SARA has spun to face JAMES and is holding her shirt (or towel, or something) against her front. JAMES is studiously looking away.

SARA:

James!

JAMES:

Oh — we seem to have—

Panel 6

Close-up on JAMES, still looking away, as SARA's boot hits him on the head.

JAMES:

—connecting—Ow!

PAGE ELEVEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

In a room similar to those occupied by JAMES and SARA, PAUL looks disdainfully at a large china jug and bowl placed on a side table.

PAUL:

They don't have running water in Minnesota?

Panel 2

He has lifted the jug and is pouring water into the bowl.

SARA (through wall):

James!

PAUL (softly):

Always squabbling about something.

Panel 3

PAUL has now lifted a washcloth and is dipping it in the water. Only an inch or two of cloth is in the water -- and it's steaming and bubbling a little. As if he's dipped it in acid.

SFX (cloth):

fssssssss

PAUL:

What the—?

Panel 4

He has pulled the cloth out of the water and is holding it up to examine it. He holds it carefully by the top corners. The bottom of the cloth has been dissolved away, leaving an uneven brown edge which smokes slightly.

PAUL:

There's something you don't see every day.

Panel 5

Through two eye-shaped holes in a black panel (again), we see into PAULs' room and watch him examining the cloth.

VOICE (softly):

Hur hur hur

PAGE TWELVE. Six panels.

Panel 1

A view of another bedroom door, from the hallway side. This one is just opening, showing part of the room beyond. There is no-one visibly opening it -- but we only see the top half of the door in this panel.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

While the others were getting changed, I decided to explore. Well, it doesn't take me any time to change.

SFX (door):

creeeak

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

There was a candle in my room but I decided not to take it. You always get killed if you walk round a spooky house on your own with a candle.

Panel 2

Now we shift our POV to look DOWN at the bottom of the door. And a large German shepherd dog is slipping out into the hall.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Anyway, how would a dog carry a candle?

Panel 3

The DOG (it's CHI-YUN -- that was obvious, wasn't it?) pauses to sniff at the feet of an ornamental suit of armour.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

I could go back for it if I needed to go into the cellar.

SFX (DOG):

sniff sniff

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Oh, wait — I can see in the dark.

FRED (off-panel):

Hey!

Panel 4

FRED is now kneeling and petting the dog. Note that FRED has changed out of his wet clothes (but as he's always in t-shirt and jeans this may not be obvious to the reader).

FRED:

Good boy!

Panel 5

CHI-YUN has reverted to her human form and, crouching on the floor, glares at FRED, who leaps back.

CHI-YUN:

Fred! It's me!

FRED:

Yahhh!

Panel 6

They face each other (both standing now).

FRED:

What are you doing creeping around?

CHI-YUN:

Exploring! What about you?

FRED:

Oh—just—mind your own business!

VOICE (off panel):

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

PAGE THIRTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

In SARA's room, FRED and CHI-YUN are bursting in from the hall door, PAUL enters from one connecting door and JAMES from the other connecting door. SARA, JAMES, and PAUL are all in different (dry) clothes by now. (It's probably worth pointing out that whenever JAMES is in "civilian" clothes, his shirt will always have long sleeves -- to hide the costume beneath.)

SARA stands in the middle of the room, pointing to a an old portrait (of an unimportant person) on one wall.

FRED:

Sara—?

JAMES:

What's—?

SARA:

The painting—

SARA:

The eyes moved!

Panel 2

JAMES looks up at the portrait (which looks perfectly normal). CHI-YUN has her ear against the wall.

JAMES:

It looks perfectly normal.

CHI-YUN:

I think I hear rats!

Panel 3

FRED is pouring water from a jug into a glass. PAUL has his hand on FRED's arm.

FRED:

Here, have some—

PAUL:

Whoa! Careful with the water! It's—

Panel 4

SARA throws up her arms in exasperation.

SARA:

Oh, sure, get the hysterical girl a drink, and maybe she wants some smelling salts!

SARA:

Come on, I know what I—

ARTHUR (off-panel):

Ah-hem!

Panel 5

Everybody turns to look at the doorway (to the hall), where ARTHUR stands looking back at them.

ARTHUR:

Dinner is served.

PAGE FOURTEEN. Three panels.

Panel 1 should be the dominant panel on this page, to set the scene and the relative positions of the characters. The other panels (and the panels on subsequent pages) are smaller close-ups of individuals).

Panel 1

The dining room. Our heroes sit round a long table. ALAN sits at the head and JEAN at the foot. The others are in whatever order is convenient to make their captions flow. I think that should be: SARA and CHI-YUN on one side, FRED (opposite CHI-YUN), JAMES, and PAUL on the other. But any workable order is acceptable. ARTHUR stands nearby, serving the party. Various dishes are on the table.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Dinner was fun. Not. Paul and James were trying too hard to make conversation. Oh—and no vegetarian dish so I couldn't eat much except the potatoes.

PAUL:

This house has been in your family a long time, Alan?

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

And Paul wouldn't let me drink any wine.

ALAN:

Oh, no, we took possession some years ago. I don't know any of the people in these portraits!

CHI-YUN:

Did you know there are eyes in the—ow!

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

And Fred kept kicking me.

Panel 2

CHI-YUN sticks her tongue out at FRED.

No dialogue

Panel 3

Close-up on FRED, showing CHI-YUN reflected in his eyes.

FRED (thought):

Here's a plan—just let them think you suspect something. Then they'll have a good reason for setting their monster on you.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Huh. Sometimes I think they think I'm stupid. I'm sixteen, not six.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

I am sixteen, aren't I, Grandfather?

PAGE FIFTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

JAMES addresses ALAN.

JAMES:

You're very isolated out here, Mr. Hampshire. Is it just you, your wife, and—

JEAN (off-panel):

Always so many damned questions!

Panel 2

Everybody turns to look at JEAN. She's angry, slamming her wine glass on the table.

JEAN:

You people are always asking questions! Always poking and prying!

JEAN:

We just want to be left alone!

Panel 3

JEAN rushes from the room. (Her chair can be tipped over to indicate that she's just jumped up from the table.) Everybody watches her go.

No dialogue.

Panel 4

ALAN rises.

ALAN:

I must apologize for my wife. She's been under a lot of strain recently.

ALAN:

She hasn't been herself.

Panel 5

ALAN is at the door (following his wife) and has turned back to look at the group. JAMES is on his feet but PAUL has a hand on his arm to hold him back.

ALAN:

Please—finish dinner. Ring for Firne if you need anything.

JAMES:

Can we—

PAUL:

James—

PAUL (softly):

Let them have their privacy.

PAGE SIXTEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

The remaining five sit at the table, looking at each other (JAMES is sitting again).

FRED:

Touchy, aren't they?

JAMES:

I didn't mean to—I mean, I was just making conversation.

PAUL:

It wasn't your fault, James. There's something else going on there.

SARA:

I think they're hiding something.

CHI-YUN:

Yeah, like a monster in the attic! Ha ha!

Panel 2

In the hall outside the dining room, ARTHUR stands by the open door, but out of sight of it, listening. His face is grim.

CHI-YUN (through door):

Ha... ha... er...

CHI-YUN (through door):

It was a joke, guys!

Panel 3

Back at the dinner table, nobody is laughing.

JAMES:

Everyone take care tonight. Sleep light.

Panel 4

In another room, ARTHUR is opening a gun case. There are several hunting rifles inside it.

CAPTION (voice-over, continuing JAMES's speech):

"Probably nothing's going on—but just in case."

PAGE SEVENTEEN. Three panels.

Panel 1

In CHI-YUN's bedroom, she's putting a chair beneath the door handle.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Everyone was spooked by Fred's premonition. Even though they're not very reliable.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Paul even suggested I double up with Sara for the night. HA! Last time I got attacked in the night, it was HER FAULT!!!

Panel 2

CHI-YUN lying in bed. The light is off (but we should still be able to make out her features). She's holding the covers up round her chin and her eyes are wide open.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Anyway, I wasn't worried.

CHI-YUN (thought):

Cat's eyes. Bat's hearing. Rhinoceroseses [sic] hide. Cockroach's poison immunity.

CHI-YUN (thought):

What have I forgotten?

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

I am the most powerful person in the team. Nothing was going to get me.

Panel 3

From outside, in the hall, we see a bedroom door opening and CHI-YUN looking out.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Then I got the munchies.

PAGE EIGHTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

CHI-YUN creeps down the hallway. She passes a window just as a flash of lightning illuminates it, throwing the cross-hatched shadow over her. Note that she's dressed exactly as she was for dinner -- she never needs to change into night clothes because they're not really clothes anyway, of course.

SFX (thunder):

KA-BOOM!

CHI-YUN (thought):

I do believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do believe in spooks.

Panel 2

CHI-YUN creeps down the stairs. There are no lights on (but details should still be visible to readers). High on a wall, another one of the generic old portraits looks down on her.

No dialogue.

Panel 3

A close-up of the portrait (this only needs to be a small panel). And the eyes are "human" eyes, looking down on CHI-YUN.

No dialogue.

Panel 4

CHI-YUN makes her way along another hallway. She is passing a door in the wood panelling, though paying no attention to it.

CHI-YUN (softly):

Kitchen? Hello kitchen? Come out, come out wherever you are.

SFX (from CHI-YUN):

sniff sniff

CHI-YUN (softly):

That's odd.

Panel 5

Close up of CHI-YUN's face (it can be a small panel). Her nose has elongated and grown hairy, so it looks more like a dog's muzzle than a human nose.

SFX (from CHI-YUN):

sniff sniff

CHI-YUN (softly):

Hmmm.

PAGE NINETEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

CHI-YUN opens a door in the wood panelling and looks into darkness. IMPORTANT: the door opens IN, i.e. AWAY from her, so she (and the reader) can't see what is behind it.

SFX (door):

c-r-e-e-a-k

CHI-YUN (thought):

I'm not going into the cellar on my own. No. I'm not. Uh-uh. Nope.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

So I decided to take a look in the cellar. Just in case.

Panel 2

CHI-YUN stands at the top of steep wooden stairs and looks down. The door behind her, if visible to the reader in this panel, is still open (but not pushed flush against the wall), concealing anything that might be hiding behind it.

No dialogue.

Panel 3

Now looking from CHI-YUN's POV, the panel is shown in sharp relief and unnatural colour (we used this technique for her night vision in ISSUE 4). And at the bottom of the stairs is a large laboratory. There are benches with test tubes and bottles of chemicals, oscilloscopes, big machines of no obvious purpose, and an operating table -- the operating table should be very prominent. This panel can take up a big chunk of page to give the place suitable impact.

No dialogue.

Panel 4

Tight close-up on CHI-YUN's face (so the reader can't see anything behind her). Her nose is back to normal but her eyes are slitted like a cat's.

CHI-YUN (softly):

Weird.

SFX (door):

c-r-e-e-a-k

PAGE TWENTY. Five panels.

Panel 1

In a bedroom (similar to those already seen), JEAN and ALAN are talking. She sits on the bed, head bowed. He's pacing up and down the floor.

ALAN:

It's going to be all right. No reason for them to suspect anything. They'll be gone in the morning.

JEAN:

It's all lost. Everything we've worked for. Our last chance to—

Panel 2

He rounds on her angrily.

ALAN:

No!

ALAN:

No! I'm almost there. A few days—weeks at the most—

Panel 3

She looks up at him, sadly.

JEAN:

Alan, how many years have you been saying the same thing? How many promises have you broken? And now we've been discovered and—

Panel 4

He grips her upper arms with his hands and pulls her to her feet, forcefully.

ALAN:

I tell you they don't suspect anything!

Panel 5

She pulls free and pushes him away.

JEAN:

I don't mean them you fool!

JEAN:

I'm not blind, Alan. I know what you and Arthur did.

PAGE TWENTY-ONE. Four panels.

Panel 1

CHI-YUN has turned to face the door, which has swung shut to reveal what is behind it -- a dead body! It's a man in an ordinary suit and overcoat and the back of his coat is hung on a peg on the back of the door, so he's just dangling there. His eyes are open and staring and there's nothing really to tell the reader he's dead except -- well, who hangs themselves on the back of cellar doors for fun? Oh, and his head is at an unnatural angle, as if his neck has been snapped.

CAPTION (voice-over, continuing JEAN's speech):

"And that one won't be the last to die, will he?"

SFX (door):

c-r-e-e-a-k

CHI-YUN (yelling):

YAHHHHH!!!

Panel 2

CHI-YUN stumbles out of the cellar (we should be looking at this from the hall side, so she's coming towards us).

CHI-YUN:

A—A—Ahh—

Panel 3

She stand with her back against the wall, slumped and breathing heavily.

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Of course I was spooked! Sure, I've faced thugs and werewolves and aliens, but—!!!

VOICE (off-panel):

RrrrrrraaaRRRRRRGG!

Panel 4

She has turned to look down the hallway, her face a mask of terror, her hands thrown up defensively. But we don't see what's coming towards her (yet).

CAPTION (CHI-YUN's letter):

Oh, and then it got worse!

PAGE TWENTY-TWO. One panel.

Panel 1

A big splash page. This shows the same scene as FRED's vision in PAGE 4 PANEL 3, though it has more detail (otherwise it would be a boring page). CHI-YUN is on her back on the floor, arms up to protect her head, screaming. On top of her and pinning her to the floor is a man. We can see him more clearly than in the vision: he is a man, but his eyes are wild and staring, his teeth are bared in a savage growl (maybe he's drooling) -- all the signs of a raving lunatic. His hair is long and wild. His clothes are reasonably "civilized" (jeans, flannel shirt) but he is barefoot. Around his wrists are what appear to be the remains of broken iron manacles (with a few dangling links of chain). His fingers are hooked into claws, nails long and sharp, and slashing down at CHI-YUN's face.

CREATURE:

Aaooooooooooooooo

CHI-YUN:

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

Next: After the Fall

Copyright © 2004, 2017 by David Meadows. All rights reserved.