EXT. CASTLE ENTRYWAY - EVENING
DOZENS OF PEOPLE, all heavily bundled, stand in a precise formation at the entry of an old castle. The electric lit lamp posts look as out of place here as Narnia.
Vanguard, Aunsey keeps wriggling and pulling at his coat.
Hettie stands behind.
He makes a fist, checks his watch, drops his fist to his side.
Tala leans from his other side to squeeze his hand.
You only have to do this once.
Aunsey nods several times. Hettie pats his back. He needs an awful lot of physical reassurances.
What's the worst that could happen?
The worst that could happen if I screw up is I get fired.
It was a rhetorical--
The worst that happens if you screw up is you start a war.
Aunsey's eyes go wide; the gates open.
By the time evening rolled around, Olivia felt certain several days had passed. She desperately needed a shower, some pain reliever, and perhaps 12 hours of sleep. With 15 minutes left of her scheduled office hours, she was packing her things to go. No one usually showed up this late, and anyway, Olivia had stayed every other time.
Before she got up, there was a knock at the door and a head peeked around.
Olivia felt like a cartoon character whose color drained from them into a puddle on the floor. It was Emerson from Witch.
“Hi,” he said. He stayed in the doorway like a vampire. “Olivia, right?”
“You’re not in my class anymore.”
Emerson snorted, which didn’t seem like a very vampire thing to do.
“No, but you’re the only one who can explain things like I’m not an idiot.”
He came in. Also not a vampire thing. Though probably a school auxiliary room didn’t count.
“I’m trying to plan a future analysis of an acid-test ratio, but—are you okay?”
INT. BACKSTAGE AX-KOREA, SEOUL
Silhouettes of four GUYS standing in front of makeup mirrors, tended to by outlines of ASSISTANTS. The room is pitch black beyond the light-lined mirrors.
One by one, the assistants disperse and the guys turn to the right, features still in shadow.
EXT. AX-KOREA - DAY
A few thousand excited fans crowd a line that wraps the building, holding posters, signs, and memorabilia emblazoned with logos for "Angels & Demons".
INT. AX-KOREA AUDITORIUM - MOMENTS LATER
The audience stares at the dark stage, cameras at the ready. The house lights TURN OFF, and the audience SCREAMS. A logo bearing the words "Angels & Demons" lights up a massive screen at the back.
A center stage SPOTLIGHT reveals the boy band: JAEGI (22, dark and quiet), WOOJIN (21, the wild one), HYUNSIK (20, soft and sweet), and SEOJOON (21, timelessly handsome).
MUSIC starts, a hopping dance track with a booming bass. The boys move seamlessly into choreography.
Benny was beginning to think cafes were the greatest human invention as he sat surrounded by pure bliss in the form of an iced lavender jasmine green tea latte and about a dozen cats, all trying with increasing effort to place themselves somewhere on his body. He had one on each shoulder, three curled into a knot on his lap, one trying to crawl up his chest, and one trying desperately to hop from the perch on the wall behind him directly onto his head.
“I take it this was a good choice, then?” One black cat, Luna, peered at Benny imperiously from her Oliver throne across the low table.
“All the purring,” Benny said with such pure, boundless joy that Oliver could almost take off his cardigan. “I feel like my entire body is vibrating.”
Oliver laughed, earning him an annoyed look from Luna that she let pass this one time.
“Only black cats ever approach me,” Oliver said. “Which is weird, right? Cats are cats, tabby, calico, Persian. Whatever.”
“You know what they say about black cats,” Benny said. “If you’re superstitious.”
“I know what they say,” Oliver said. “Do you?
I do not have the words to scream for you, yet I convince myself you can hear. There is a piece of the night inside me, the same night inside you, and it connects us like a string from tin to tin. Has it always been there? Has it changed? Years spent hopping from person to person, desperate to find its twin, hoping if the stars shine brighter, it will be seen.
Maybe fame is a beacon, calling a single last ship to harbor. My boat is broken, many of the large pieces still intact by sheer force of will. I am afloat but only because my pride can’t allow anything less. Perhaps if I could sink, maybe you wouldn’t need to shine for me anymore. Dim your light, conserve your energy, I’ll send you a love letter in a bottle with my blood, seal the note in sweat, and push it away with tears.
My pride is the last thing under.
Read more at Soft Cartel.
The tour of the Puzzle Box Academy facilities would have only taken 10 minutes tops had the school not been open yet. As it was, we were an hour or so into the school day, and everyone needed Pam’s attention.
“Pam, we’ve got a new ad-blocker set up on the computers, school-wide.”
“Pam, I can’t wait to tell you about the interviewee from last week.”
“Miss Pam, look at my shirt!”
“Should I make extra lunches for you and your guest?”
“The last Facebook post got 50 likes already!”
“How was your morning?”
“How was your weekend?”
“Who’s your friend?”
(Questions about me were delayed, if asked at all. My dear friend and owner of the Puzzle Box Academy schools, Pamela Holz is the Queen Bee, and I was perfectly content to be a fly on the wall.)
If you picked up this book, someone in your life is on the spectrum. Maybe your eyes were drawn to the cover as you passed the bookshelf or clicked through the site, and the image stayed with you for an hour or a day or a week, so you returned. Maybe there was no hesitation, or maybe this was recommended to you. Whatever the circumstance, you have questions. Several things in your life aren’t adding up, and all the loose ends seem to stem from the knots of strings that is the Autism Spectrum Disorder, and not only how it will affect your child, your sibling, your friend, or yourself, but how it will affect the village that surrounds this person’s spot on the spectrum.
Jeff and Suni survived an unearthly global attack and have finally arrived at their safe place. Or have they?
By some miracle, they drove to the shopping mall unnoticed. They circled down to the bottom level of the underground parking garage though anywhere below ground was considered safe.
When the car came to a stop, they sat there for a moment before jumping out to hug and kiss one another. They had survived! The last two weeks had decimated the global population, but the Catholic Church’s discovery of safety underground gave the remaining survivors reason to feel hope.
“You’re amazing, Jeff,” she said, one hand tangled in his hair.
“You are, Suni.”
A slight squeak made them jump. Suni pointed toward the top of a nearby pillar.
A too-comfortable couple find a way to spice things up after an afternoon of people watching.
INT. MALL FOOD COURT — DAY
ERIC and NAOMI, both mid-30’s, attractive but losing themselves to domesticity. They sit at a table munching on fast food, both engrossed in their phones.
Nearby, an attractive, HIGH CLASS COUPLE, late 20s, coos at their baby as they feed it something mashed and orange. The child whacks the SPOON out of the mother’s hand. It skids to a halt near Naomi’s feet.
Naomi and Eric don’t notice until the mother is rushing over, bending down, apology all over her face. They both look at her in surprise, then notice the baby spoon.
HIGH CLASS MOM
I’m so sorry, did it get on you?
She pauses for only a moment before flashing a costly smile and turning back to her visually pristine life.
Eric returns to his phone, nonplussed. Naomi watches the couple a little while longer, then looks at the rest of the food court. It’s a busy day, all manner of people milling around with food and shopping bags.
A GOTH TEEN walks by, catching Naomi’s attention.
What do you think he would be for a costume party?
Devin Overman is a screenwriter, author, and freelance writer. Her first screenplay, Immaculate, advanced at the Austin Film Festival in 2015, where she went on to consult in 2016 and 2017. Her newest project, Falling Into the Sound (Korean title: 음에 천천히 떨어지다), has been optioned by Little Studio Films in association with Nite Lite Pictures. She’s been interviewed and quoted by MTV on the cross-over between music and literature.