False Dawn #10: "Survivor’s Guilt"
Comic Book Script—Plot for 22 Pages
Devin Leigh Michaels
After the battle with Reger, the gang licks their wounds as Ral comes to terms with living in wartime.
Note to Letterer: All narrations are Ral's unless otherwise noted.
1—Extreme close-up on the small of Ral’s back as he clips a knife into its holster.
OFF: Don’t forget. The knife’s only for—
RAL: I won’t forget, Lance.
LOCATION CAPS: NOW, RICHMOND, VIRGINIA
2—Close up on Casia’s scepter with her hands about the staff.
OFF: Stay close to us at all times.
NARR: Casia has always been a worrier.
3—Close up on Lance’s sword in his sheath, his hand clutching the hilt.
LANCE: This isn’t a game.
4—Close-up on the lavaliere around Ral’s neck—a sun with the rays as dragon claws. The lavaliere itself is gold.
NARR: No, it’s not, but the gear is still freaking awesome.
1—A middle-shot of Casia and Lance. Casia is dressed in a seek, black jumpsuit with black boots that rise to her calves. Her red hair tumbles down her back in a ponytail. She holds her specter out, the ball of blue lightning twinkling in the dark garden. A black bag is on her back. Lance stands next to her in a black, long-sleeved T-shirt, black cargo pants, and black boots. He has a sword strapped to his left thigh, a gun on his right thigh, and miscellaneous weapons on his person. Behind them is the bust of Edgar Allan Poe.
Note to Letterer: Narrations in his section aren’t Ral’s.
2— The motel desk “manager”—let’s call him DIL— counts his beer tops upon the grungy “front desk.”
NARR: Dil has had a hard night.
LOCATION CAPS: EARLIER
1—A gust of wind blows the caps over the edge of the counter.
NARR: He has to decide whether to make a fort or exchange the caps with Jimbo for that automatic waffle machine.
2—Camera positioned behind Dil as he looks toward the front door. The door’s closed, but Lance and Ral stand before his desk, blood on their clothes. (Artist—please draw them in the same clothes as the end of FD#9).
NARR: It just got harder.
LANCE: We need a room.
3—Dil jumps back and pulls a rusty knife from his greased and ripped jeans.
DIL: I’s only take cash, and youse better be payin’—
4—A green wad of money thumps against the counter, much to Dil’s delight.
OFF: Is that enough?
5—Dil licks his fingers to count the money.
DIL: Rent’s up in sixth months. After tha’, I call th’ cops.
OFF: We’ll be gone.
6—Dil looks up at his now empty front desk.
NARR: And they are.
Narrations are now Ral’s again.
1—Lance drives the car to the back of the rundown motel, his eyes hard, his brow low.
NARR: It takes a while to know Lance.
2—Long-shot of Lance as he gets out of the car (a 1990s yellow Mustang) in his leather jacket, his face scrunched in an angered expression. He looks tough as he opens the back door of the car. BTW, Ral is getting out of the other side of the car, looking nervous as he spies the outside of the motel. The motel has exterior corridors and a gravel parking lot. It’s one of those back alley motels you see off of I-95. There are 1970s dressings to the windows and a small porch before the rooms. On the porch sits other tenants, who range from meth addicts to gun runners to prostitutes.
NARR: At first, you think he’s this big, tough, reincarnated immortal who has seen and done everything (and perhaps everyone).
3—Lance lifts Casia out of the car, holding her protectively in his strong grip.
NARR: But he looks broken, lost, and scared like he’s just lost his best friend.
4—Close-up on Casia’s face, which is blanched and clenched even with her eyes closed.
NARR: He almost did.
5—Ral opens the door as Lance takes Casia inside.
NARR: But that’s not what really makes him vulnerable. Oh, he’s worried about Casia—we both are—but it’s what I said two seconds ago that makes him squirm.
1—Flashback—Lance and Ral inside the car just before Lance gets out.
Note to Colorist: Could you make this panel black and white?
RAL: Mom would KILL you if she knew you brought me here.
2—Inside the hotel, the 1970s threw up on the room. Horrid green curtains in a “contemporary” pattern hang in the windows, while the same pattern is on the comforter. The carpet is dirty or brown. We really can’t tell, and wallpaper falls off the walls. Lance puts Casia down on the bed like Sleeping Beauty.
NARR: It’s true. The motel is a cross between a strip club and a bowling alley bar with prostitutes drinking outside of rooms and drug deals going on inside.
3—Lance nudges Ral on the shoulder as he walks toward the door. Ral’s looking back at Casia, worried.
LANCE: Come on.
LANCE (linked): Let’s get something to eat.
4—As Ral opens the car door, Lance glares at the drug dealers outside the door.
NARR: Lance stares down the riffraff. His message can’t be clearer if he shouted it.
1—Close-up on Lance’s warning.
NARR: “Leave her alone, or I’ll kill you.”
2—The riffraff look away as Lance walks to the car.
NARR: I don’t doubt him, and neither do they.
3—Ral’s already in the car, and Lance is getting in.
RAL (weak/mumbling): She’ll…She’ll be okay, right?
NARR: Extended mortals don’t die this easily. I mean, they’re invincible. Casia’s invincible.
4—Lance stares at his hands upon the steering wheel, a concerned expression upon his face.
NARR: For a moment, I think Lance’s reassuring himself.
5—Lance flashes a patronizing smile.
LANCE: Of course. She’s tough.
LANCE: She’s a SURVIVOR.
6—Mid-shot of the front seat as Lance backs up the car. Ral looks out the window toward the motel.
LANCE: So are you.
NARR: I know he means it as praise, but I feel like being a survivor is a CURSE.
1—Establishing shot of the hotel. Night. The last window of the long strip is lit, and with that light, we can see two people fighting with swords off to the side in the gravel parking lot.
NARR: Twelve-thirty A.M. practices suck, but if Lance and I don’t want to be caught by the police, we have to do this away from watchful eyes.
1—Long-shot as Ral rolls across the ground.
NARR: Not that anyone in this place will call the cops.
2—Getting up, Ral clangs his sword with Lance’s.
NARR: I can take down two metas in less than five seconds.
3—Lance back hands Ral across the face.
NARR: I can survive explosions and car wrecks.
4—Ral swipes at Lance’s mid-section, but Lance flips out of his reach.
NARR: I can even be sucked into a Skadoian Warrior and come back alive.
1—Lance kicks out Ral’s kneecap.
NARR: But with Lance…
2—Lance slashes the sword from Ral’s hand.
NARR: …I’m still just a PAGE.
3—Close-up on the sword as it lands close to the cars.
LANCE (yelling): AGAIN!
4—Huffing, Lance swipes his blade on his sweatpants as Ral retrieves his sword.
LANCE: What’s with you this morning?
5—Lance raises his sword before his face and smirks.
LANCE: All right.
1—Mid-shot of Ral flat on his back, Lance looking over him with humorless eyes.
LANCE: Wanna talk now or you want me to kick you around a little more?
2—Ral pushes into a sitting position.
RAL: How do you pay for gas?
3—Close-up on Lance, who’s confused and mystified.
4—Ral crosses his legs. Lance sits down across from him.
RAL: The money, to pay for gas, food, even Casia’s fire-resistant shampoo. Where does that come from?
5—Lance ruffles his hair nervously.
LANCE: I’ve been doing this a long time, Ral. I’ve learned how to set up bank accounts, clean money, change it over from one lifetime to another. I’ve…let’s just say I’m not hard-up for money.
1—Ral reaches for a water bottle. Lance wipes his sweaty face in the front of his shirt.
RAL: Then why don’t stay in hotels—better ones, like a Marriott or at least a Motel 6?
LANCE (weak): You’ve been on the WALLS of Wal-Mart. I wouldn’t like to go to jail…AGAIN…
2—Ral fidgets with the water bottle, ripping the label.
RAL: Who’s Joshua Sterling?
3—Lance’s head goes up. He’s been caught off guard, which doesn’t happen often.
LANCE: Where…Where’d you hear that name?
RAL (possibly off): The robot guy called you that.
4—Lance looks away. He’s silent.
5—Ral becomes more eager.
RAL: Who IS Joshua Sterling, Lance?
1—Lance steals Ral’s water bottle, flinging water everywhere.
LANCE: It’s my given name for this lifetime. “Lance” is a derivative of my name from my first lifetime. “Evans” I just picked up along the way.
RAL: So…your parents named you “Joshua?”
2—Lance stands up and heads back to the motel room.
RAL (calling): Lance!
3—Ral reaches out to grab Lance’s shoulder.
RAL (yelling): JOSHUA!
4—Lance whirls and points a finger at Ral.
LANCE: You are never going to bring up that name again. You’re going to FORGET
you’ve ever heard that name, and if you ever, EVER call me that again, I will SKIN the flesh from your bones and feed you to a Skadoian Warrior MYSELF.
LANCE: Do you understand?
5—Ral reaches for his sword.
1—Lance flicks him in the nose.
LANCE: Don’t bring the TOOTHPICK out, or you’ll find it somewhere not so nice.
2—Lance heads into the room while Ral stands outside.
NARR: I’ll let him cool down. I obviously hit a nerve.
NARR: There’s a lot to Joshua Sterling I don’t know, a lot about Casia I don’t know, and it hits me.
3—Ral enters the room to see Lance sitting next to Casia’s bed. They’re talking. Lance is grinning lowly.
NARR: I’m traveling with strangers.
4—Lance glares at Ral.
1—Lance heads into the bathroom. Casia calls softly, her hand up in the air.
CASIA (weakly): Ral…Come here.
2—She moves over on the bed, making enough room for Ral, and he just sits.
NARR: Casia’s the big sister, aunt, cousin twice removed I’ve never had, and at the same time, I don’t know her from the prostitute next door.
RAL: I’m all sweaty, Casia.
CASIA: You think THAT’S what I care about?
3—Ral lays down on the bed, and Casia rests her head on his shoulder.
NARR: She smells like charcoal and firewood, but I don’t care.
4—Close-up on their hands; their fingers laced.
NARR: She’s alive.
NARR: That’s all that matters.
5—Completely black panel stretches across the page.
LOCATION CAPS: SKADOIA
CONNOR (no tag): You are ONE stubborn son of a gun, y’know that, kid?
NARR: In this business—whatever business Lance, Casia, and I are in—you learn one thing very quickly.
1—Extreme close-up on a closed eyelid. It’s Ral’s, but we don’t know that yet.
NARR: You’re NEVER safe.
2—His green eye opens—wide and frightened.
NARR: I didn’t know that when I lived in New Jersey with my mom and uncle—
CONNOR (off): Hey, kiddo. Wakey, wakey.
3— Hanging in the middle of the panel (and in the middle of the small cell) is Connor with his hands chained above his hand. He’s looking worse than before with a black eye, blood dripping from his nose and a large gash above his eyebrow.
CONNOR: Seriously, I mean, when I was your age—which was, well, let’s just say a LOOOONG time ago—I was scared of going out hunting on my own, and here you are projecting between dimensions.
NARR: He’s bleeding, and somehow, he manages to smile.
4—Ral smiles widely. He’s overjoyed. Artist: Please try to mirror Connor’s smile on Ral. I’m hoping to show that Ral, Addy, and Connor all have the same smile.
NARR: Mom and he have the same kind smile.
RAL: Uncle Connor?
1— Connor resituates himself in his bonds, and blood dribbles down his arms.
RAL (off): Connor, you’re—
CONNOR: Ah, this? Paper cut. What you need to do is wake up now.
2—Ral gets up from the slimy floor.
RAL: What do you mean, wake up? I AM awake.
3—Ral walks up to Connor and is now as tall as the man’s shoulder.
CONNOR: Are ya? Really?
CONNOR: How do you think you got here, Ral? Teleportation? You might have powers but NOT that one.
NARR: Hey, I’m up to his shoulder now.
4—Ral takes out his lock picks from his sweatshirt.
NARR: Thank you, Lance, for teaching me illegal shit.
RAL: Powers? I don’t have powers. Casia—
CONNOR: Wherever you are, you’re in trouble and scared. That’s why you came to me—to feel safe.
NARR: Nah, that’s not at all embarrassing.
2—Connor’s face tenses.
CONNOR: But that’s the last thing you are here.
3—Ral works on the locks about Connor’s head.
RAL: Don’t worry, Uncle Connor. We’re going to get you and Mom out of here.
RAL (linked): Yeah. Lance, Casia, and me.
4—Connor’s face relaxes.
CONNOR: Lance and Casia are with you?
CONNOR: Oh, oh, thank God.
5—Close-up on Ral’s tippy-toes, which he has to do to reach the chains.
RAL: So, how’s the party? Think we’ll fit in?
1—Connor jerks from Ral’s touch.
CONNOR: Oh, no, no, no, no. Do NOT come here. Do you understand me?
RAL (confused): What? How can you say—
2—Connor narrows his eyes.
CONNOR: Ral, you tell Lance and Casia. You tell them to stay away from here, you understand?
RAL (unsure): What? Of course not!
CONNOR (linked): Please. If you trust me at all, you’ll stay away.
3—Connor snatches Ral by the hair and pulls Ral close to press his lips against the boy’s forehead.
CONNOR: And maybe one day you’ll forgive me for this.
4—Connor’s foot comes toward the camera.
RAL: For wha—
1—Ral jerks away in the hotel room.
2—Close-up on his sweaty face. He has a black eye.
3—Ral looks left. Lance is curled up on a chair close to Ral’s side of the bed. He’s passed out.
4—He looks to the right, and Casia’s asleep on the bed.
5—Ral lays back down.
NARR: Even when she’s injured and he’s pissed…they still care about me.
NARR: Yeah, we’re strangers, but damn if we’re not family.
1—Ral places his cheek on the pillow.
2—He puts a hand to the right side of his face.
3—Same panel as Page One, panel four.
LOCATION CAPS: RICHMOND, VIRGINA, POE MUSEUM, NOW
4—Ral’s dressed in black cargo pants and a black belt. He has a dagger, lighter, hairspray, and other tools. His necklace glows in the dark.
5—Lance smiles dangerously.
LANCE: Good. Let’s go save Addy and Connor.
6—Small cell. Lance puts up his hand to the Poe bust, and the eyes glow a bright, vibrant blue.
The three panels are side by side by side (vertically). Blue lights shines over their faces.
1—Close-up on Casia’s face, whose eyes are open. Her face is determined. She’s ready to face the unknown.
NARR: I want the red pill.
2—Close-up on Lance’s face. His eyes are opened frightfully wide, more like he’s hiding something he doesn’t want the others to know.
NARR: I want the red pill!
3—Close-up on Ral’s face. His eyes are screwed shut. He’s practically freaking out.
NARR: I DON’T WANT THE RED PILL!
1—Completely black page.
LOCATION CAPS (bottom right hand side of the page): SKADOIA.