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Ryder
Season 1, Episode 4
Air date 3/25/18
Written by Brandon
Directed by Brandon
Bat
Episode Guide
Previous
Lost and not Found
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Raiders of the Lost City Part 1

Facade is the fourth episode of the series, Ryder.

Plot

The episode starts on the street, outside of a few apartment buildings; one of them being the complex that houses Ryder Investigations. The sky is dark, with the stars barely shining and the clouds looking misty and faded as they drift by in what can hardly be called a group.

 
Ryder Investigations
December 18, 5:54 EDT

Inside, the office can be seen; dark and silent. As the view advances through the room, it increases in height as it moves upwards alongside the couch, where Ryder is seen resting in an odd position. Just then, a phone can be heard ringing. Ryder stirs slightly, possibly awakening but remaining on the couch or perhaps moving in his sleep. A short moment passes and the phone rings again, bringing a short groan from Ryder as his face pressed against the couch; definitely awakening and remaining on the couch. A short moment passes once again and the phone rings once more. Another groan from Ryder, much longer and more exaggerated as he flips over, his back on the couch now. He starts to make his way off of the couch, the phone rings again as he does. Ryder seems to mumble to himself as he approaches his desk. The old-timey black phone on his desk now in focus. It starts to ring once more but the ring is cut short when Ryder finally answers it. The view follows the phone as it lifts up towards Ryder’s face and is held close to his ear. Ryder’s eyes are barely open, in fact, he rubs his left eye with his other hand not soon after picking up the phone. After a short yarn, he begins to talk.

Ryder: Ryder Investigations…

Voice, over the phone: Hello. My name is Dublin Joost. I hear you’re a private investigator, is that correct?

Ryder: Yeah. Yeah, that’s right.

Voice, over the phone: Good. I’d like you to visit my theatre in the city; the Dramatos Theatre.

Ryder stands there for a moment, as if still not fully awake or comprehending the current situation.

Voice, over the phone: Hello?

Ryder, almost right after the voice: What for?

Voice, over the phone: One of the lead actors, Mia Hawkins, has gone missing for quite a few number of days. I’m very concerned about her well-being and was hoping you could shed some light on this.

Ryder lets out a sigh and rubs his eyes with his other hand.

Ryder: Just so you know, I need to make a living. I can’t guarantee a visit but if you want a definite case, it’s going to cost you.

Voice, over the phone: Not a problem. I’m more than willing to pay you for your help. When do you think you can start?

Ryder: I’ll head down there with a friend of mine… when the sun’s up. Uh- what time is it?

Voice, over the phone: ...It’s five past six.

Ryder: Okay. We’ll be down there around two hours before twelve.

Voice, over the phone: Thank you, Ryder. I’m looking forwards to seeing you.

The phone disconnects, leaving behind nothing but a dial tone. Ryder turns the phone from his head and looks at it as that low humming noise emits from the phone. Ryder then slams the phone against its holder. A ‘Clank!’ noise is heard briefly as the phone impacts with its holder. A moment of silence goes on for a period of time as Ryder stands there looking slightly jaded. Just then a muffled banging noise is heard, as if someone hitting something against a structure as well as some muffled yelling.

Muffled Yelling: Turn that fucking phone off, ass-hole!

Ryder stands there, helpless to yet another long and exaggerated sigh.

Title Sequence

The episode continues, now in the morning. The sky has a light orange-like tone, the clouds appear more rich and fluffier and the shadows of the buildings become dense with the sun rising up slowly. Ryder and Kelly can be seen walking down the sidewalk. Ryder sipping a portable cup with a hot steam coming off from the top.

 
Ryder Investigations
December 18, 10:01 EDT

Kelly: So lemme get this straight, it’s another missing persons case and some mysterious guy called asking for your help?

Ryder: Basically yeah. Anyways, it’s not the same as the one with the kid.

Kelly: Why not?

Ryder: Because we don’t know if she was kidnapped.

Kelly: What do you mean? She’s missing so- what else could’ve happened.

Ryder looks at her as if he wants to tell her something but he turns his head slightly.

Ryder: I don’t know yet. That’s why we’re going to the theatre, I’m sure there’s tons of evidence there that’ll help us find out the what really happened there.

Ryder takes another sip from his cup.

Kelly: You gonna be alright?

Ryder: I’m fine, Kelly. I realize now that I can’t keep treating missing persons cases as a lost cause just because I can’t find them. With enough dedication and more change embracing moments, I might even be able to get a handle of these kinds of cases just as much as the others.

Kelly: Well, that’s great news. But I was referring to your caffeine levels, that’s been like- your fourth cup of coffee this morning alone.

Ryder: I need it. Didn’t really get much sleep. Been awake since six in the morning. (mumbles something about coffee before taking another sip)

Kelly: What?! Why?

Ryder takes a breath and pinches his eyes before he can begin talking with her again.

Ryder: Kelly, these cases, these investigations, they require time and research.

Kelly: Yeah, and? What does that have to do with sleep?

Ryder: Well, I’m not at my mental A-game right now so coffee is my substitute at the moment. But you don’t need logic when you’ve got common sense and it’s common sense that tells you that when some mysterious stranger asks you to check his place out in the middle of the night, you’d best look the place up online and know what you’re getting yourself into before going there.

Kelly: You sure that coffee isn’t just making you paranoid or something?

Ryder: No, the paranoia comes with the job. Coffee just enhances it. When you’re a private investigator, and maybe even a cop, but what do I know- you’ll need paranoia. That shit]keeps you on your feet. And before you ask, yes, I have been lead into traps before.

Kelly huffs with the breath she might have used to say something to Ryder, which at this point, would be redundant.

Ryder: Come on, the theatre should be close.

The two of them turn the corner and approach a theatre in the middle of the block. The place looks sturdy and often maintained however, despite best efforts, the building looks run down with paint being worn off, the sign overhead missing a few panels and the what might have been crimson bricks being dulled down to a brown-ish dull red. The two of them stop before the theatre and take it in.

Ryder, stepping his hands into his jacket pockets: Well, here we are: The Dramatos Theatre.

Kelly: Are you sure this is the right place? This place looks abandoned.

Ryder: It does but you can tell the place has been maintained.

Kelly: How exactly?

Ryder: Look at the paint. Worn out by the elements, no doubt but, if you look carefully, there’s a different shade mixed in there as well, a brighter shade of red. That means someone’s been trying to paint over it. And a few of the panels have been replaced in the shutters, some more rusted than the others.

Kelly: Not at your A-game, huh?

Ryder: Substitute. (raises cup)

Kelly: Well, I guess I see what you mean by being lured into a trap. A place like this- needs an examiner more than an investigator. Why would someone trap you anyways?

Ryder: It’s complicated… Anyways, I doubt someone would trap me in a place that’s still being maintained. Then again, I’ve been so very wrong before. At least, I have you at my side.

Kelly: So we can be trapped together?

Ryder: I was just thinking you could shoot the guy if he tried anything.

Kelly: (sigh) Come on, let’s just get inside already.

Kelly walks forwards while Ryder stands where he is. He takes another sip from his cup and tosses it into the street before following after her. Inside the theater, the lobby area is wide and open-spaced, however it appears worse than the exterior. Torn curtains, dented equipment, old and dirty papers and such all over the floor with the only light coming from the leaking daylight breaching the shutters. Ryder pushes past the shutters, making his way inside and bringing in a beam of daylight form the outside as well. He looks around the place before seeing Kelly examining some of the mess. He goes over to her.

Kelly, examining some of the dented equipment: Take a look at this. Looks like a popcorn machine or something.

Ryder: Guess they were trying to turn this theatre into a theater before whatever it is happened here.

Kelly: Place looks wrecked. Maybe someone raided the place.

Ryder: Probably but I doubt they did this much damage. This must’ve happened during the invasion, I know a lot of buildings were damaged during that.

Kelly: But the city repaired most of them. There isn’t any sign of any work on this place aside from the ones you showed me.

Ryder: Guess they weren’t interested.

Ryder stops and turns his head as some faint voices are heard.

Ryder: You hear that?

Kelly looks over at where the voice are emitting from.

Kelly: Sounds like someone’s here.

Ryder: Well, we came. Might as well make ourselves known.

Ryder walks over to a set of doors and pushes them open, revealing the actual theatre with rows of seats surrounding a stage at the center of the hall. Both Ryder and Kelly step forward into the hall, seeing several people on the stage performing.

Kelly: They’re… performing.

Ryder: Your powers of observation continue to amaze me.

Kelly’s right cheek puffs out as an upset expression appears on her face. She then elbows Ryder in the side.

Ryder: Ow! (rubs side) Despite them performing, we still need to talk to them and find out who called us here and what we should be looking into exactly.

Kelly: Yeah but should we really interrupt them?

Ryder: Kelly, we’re trying to find a missing person. We can’t wait for them to finish.

Kelly: We’ll get an inside look into their world, maybe that’ll help us find her.

Ryder: No… We are not sitting through a play just to talk to the [freaking] guy.

Kelly: Come on, Ryder. It might be fun.

Ryder, turning to her: Fun? No. Plays are the opposite of fun.

Kelly: Really? Because I remember that you went to my play, at least once.

Ryder: That was like 15 years ago! And I only did it cause you were there.

Kelly turns away as she blushes slightly. She quickly recovers after clearing her throat and turning back to Ryder.

Kelly: Look, one play isn’t going to kill you.

Ryder: You’d be surprised. Broadway is the next step up and they’re no stranger to accidents. You heard about that one with the superhero?

Kelly: Is that what you’re afraid of? Having an accident?

Ryder: No, I just don’t want to sit through some boring play where they recite Shakespeare or some shit like that.

Kelly: They won’t do that and besides, it looks like it’s just a practice session, it shouldn’t even take that long.

Ryder lets out a long and tired sigh.

Ryder: Alright, fine. We’ll watch the stupid play, but if this thing takes more than five minutes and I’m going up there.

The two of them take their seats where they watch the session start.

Actor: “To be or not to be-”

Ryder: God Dammit.

Kelly: What’s with you and theatre anyways? And don’t tell me it’s one of your secret fears or something.

Ryder: I actually don’t mind theatre. In fact, theatrics is one of my secret skills.

Kelly: No kidding. You never told me.

Ryder: Well, I picked it up after- … (clears throat) Anyways, I guess I just never thought to bring it up recently.

Kelly: ...So, what do you do with your theatrics?

Ryder: I mainly use it on others, try to get information out of them. You’d be surprised for handy it really is.

Kelly: So if theatre isn’t your problem then what is? You’ve been unsettled ever since you got that phone call.

Ryder: I’m just restless, Kelly. I found out something pretty revealing and I know this case might just take me a step closer to what I’m looking for.

Kelly: That doesn’t really make too much sense.

Ryder: I’d rather not get into it if it’s all the same to you.

Kelly: Well, I do mind.

Ryder: No. This is the part where you say something reassuring and leave it be.

Kelly: This isn’t a script for some story, Ryder. I’m entitled to what I have to say.

Ryder: Okay, okay. Just don’t start beating me up. What’s on your mind?

Kelly: What’s on my mind? (scoff) Ryder, what’s on your mind? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I know things have changed and world is different now but I’m your friend, and it might have been a while since you’ve had one that isn’t Raggy but friends share things with each other. Not because it’s part of their job or anything but because, well, I care about you and I get worried when there’s something you’re not telling me.

Ryder doesn’t look at her but he makes quick glances. Kelly lets out a sigh when she receives no response and turns away, crossing her arms. The silence between them makes it easier to hear what the performers are saying.

Actor, continuing from his opening monologue: -and so this is the path I must take. But I do hope you would soon find your own.” This is what my father had told me before he had left. I have not heard from him in so long so I have assumed the worse. But he is always with me in my quest. And I hope to one day fulfill his final wish and find the path that I have meant to be on.

The actor continues on but his voice becomes muffled as the focus now returns to Ryder. He looks down, thoughtfully, and slowly turns his head to Kelly, still turned away from him, seemingly upset.

Ryder: (exhales) My parents… they’ve been on my mind for, well, for a while now. I can’t get them out of my head. These cases, the ones that you convinced me- inspired me to do again, I don’t know but it feels like I’m more… at peace with them. I can’t really explain it. I- (sigh)

He holds his head with both hands and rests his arms on his legs. Kelly has gradually looked up while he was talking to her and has now finally turned around, facing him. Ryder is seen again, in the same position, when Kelly’s arm enters the view, and her hand is placed on his shoulder. Kelly scoots closer to him as he looks up from his hands. She holds him gently.

Kelly: It’s alright. Thank you.

Ryder: ...For what?

Kelly: For sharing. I know that’s personal stuff for you so, it means a lot to hear you open up about it.

Ryder: Yeah, well- (clears throat) I just didn’t want you getting all worried on me. We’ve got a case to solve and I need you head in the game.

Kelly: ...Yeah, you got it.

Kelly looks into his eyes, giving a soft smile. Ryder smirks back before turning his head towards the stage. He sees the performance, still continuing.

Ryder: Speaking of which.

Ryder decides to get up from his seat and move down the aisle. Kelly looks over at him, and decides to get up from her seat, herself, and follow after him. Ryder then approaches the stage.

Ryder: Yo! Stop the performance, we need to talk.

The actors stop, looking either confused, upset or disentangled from their performance. One of the actors steps to the edge of the stage while a woman accompanying him steps off the stage, both to confront Ryder.

Another Actor: Who are you? You’re not allowed here, we’re in the middle of a performance.

Ryder: Consider me a fan of the theatrics. I’m Ryder, private investigator and this is my friend, Jessica Kelly.

Woman: Look, we’re not interested.

Ryder: I’m not trying to sell anything. In fact, you should probably be paying me. I got a call about a missing actress.

The woman freezes then turns to the actor at the edge of the stage. He acknowledges her look and looks at Ryder, himself.

Actor, at the stage: Uh, yeah. I- I’m the one that placed that call.

Ryder: Really? You sound different.

Actor, at the stage: Rest assured it was me. You must have just caught me after one of my performances. I have a tendency of getting into character. Name’s Rupert. Rupert Sawyer, I’m the lead actor around here and practically the manager of the theatre.

Ryder: You own the place?

Rupert Sawyer: Not officially but since the government refuses to keep this place running, I don’t see why I shouldn’t be.

Kelly: So what are you doing here exactly?

Rupert Sawyer: We run a theatre group of actors or just people wanting to perform with others. It’s a great way of escaping from reality which is an absolute mess if you ask me.

Ryder: Yeah, no shit. I can take a look around but, like I said on the phone, I got bills to pay if you want me to take up the case.

Rupert Sawyer: Allison will see to that. I’m no good with the financial details.

Woman: Hi, I’m Allison, writer, director, bookkeeper, pretty much anything that’s needed at the moment. So how much are your rates?

Ryder: I usually go 100 dollars but I’ll be willing to get 50 upfront. We’ll talk about the other half once the case is solved.

Allison: You seem confident.

Ryder: You just haven’t seen me at my A-Game. (winks)

Allison rolls her eyes as she fetches the money from her pocket. She pulls out two twenties and a ten and hands them over to him. Ryder takes the money and looks around. He places the money in his pocket and proceeds onto the stage.

Allison: Well, if you don’t mind, we’re going to continue performances while you look around.

Ryder: Actually, it’d be better if you didn’t. I have to talk to each and every person here.

Allison: Too bad, Sherlock.

Ryder, to himself: Why does everyone keep calling me that?

Allison prepares to walk off but Ryder rushes over to her and stops her.

Ryder: Wait a minute, the missing person- can you tell us more about them?

Allison: (sigh) Her name was- is Mia Hawkins. She was the other lead actor in the group next to Rupert. The two made quite the pair, let me tell you. I mean everyone here just looked up to her, I just can’t bring myself to imagine anyone letting anything bad happen to her. Look, I’ve got some things to attend to- maybe you can ask me some questions later.

Ryder looks at her then breaths out from his nose and nods.

Ryder: Sure.

Allison gives a weak and brief smile before turning and walking off, alongside the stage. Ryder strokes the back of his head and turns, seeing Rupert going past the curtains at the back of the stage. Ryder slowly lowers his arm as he watches the curtains close. He stands there, still watching the curtains, as Kelly joins him on the stage.

Ryder: Come on, Kelly. We have some people to question.

The two of them follow after Rupert and enter the backstage area of the stage. Behind the crimson curtain, there are props and costumes lined up or stacked in a pile as well as a couple more actors and actresses, preparing for a role or some other business. The two of them look at each other before looking back at the backstage area and progressing further. One of the actors, a young man with brown hair and green eyes, wearing a black leotard, turns and notices Ryder and Kelly approaching.

Actor, in leotard: Hey, I don’t think you’re supposed to be back here.

Ryder: We’re private investigators, looking into the disappearance of Mia Hawkins.

Actor, in leotard: Oh gosh- Mia… I had no idea.

Kelly: About her disappearance?

Actor, in leotard: No, I mean- I didn’t know we hired someone to look into it.

Ryder: Is that going to be a problem?

Actor, in leotard: Of course not. I want to find her as much as everyone else. It just caught me by surprise is all. We were supposed to discuss it at one of the group meetings we hold every Friday. But I guess someone just wanted to go out of their way and do it anyways.

Kelly: I don’t see why that’s a bad thing. The sooner you hire someone, the sooner they could find her.

Actor, in leotard: No doubt about it but our funding isn’t exactly something to proud of, let alone spending like crazy on some investigator that might not even get results… no offense.

Ryder: All Taken. What do you know about Mia, what’s your connection to her?

Actor, in leotard: Same as everyone else. We looked up to her, she was like a role model for us lesser actors. I’m not afraid to admit that my craft needs some work. I mainly joined for the theatrics, the ability to move rather than memorize words and pull off plays.

Kelly: Move, how?

Actor, in leotard: I’m into acrobatics. I don’t want to bore you with the details but it’s pretty much official that I’m head of the stunt team.

Ryder: What does a theatre need a stunt team for? Don’t you just put on lousy plays? (mockingly) No offense.

Actor, in leotard: (clears throat) Yes, well, in order to put on these “lousy plays”, some scripts require us to perform and, well, accidents happen. The stunt team was designed to make sure these performances wouldn’t injure someone who can either take it or anticipate it. No pain, no gain, right?

Ryder: How many other people are on the stunt team? Just curious.

Actor, in leotard: Uh, just me and Trevor, at the moment. Although we are pushing for new members to join if they are interested. Now, if you don’t have any more questions, I’d love to get on with my warm up before I start practicing.

Ryder: That’ll be it for now.

The actor nods then walks off to a blue duffle bag.

Kelly: We should interrogate more of the stunt team, I feel like that information could lead us somewhere.

Ryder: Yeah, up the creek. Knowing more about people in tights prancing around isn’t going to get us any closer to finding any clue to where Mia Hawkins might be.

Kelly: Oh.

Ryder: And we’re not interrogating them. We’re just questioning them, sometimes with aggressive demeanor to throw them off balance into giving us what we want out of them.

Kelly: So we’re threatening them?

Ryder: Absolutely not… all the time, that is. Interrogating just sounds too cop-y for me. Questioning suspects, witnesses and people with information- that sounds like PI-talk.

Kelly: Obviously I have much to learn.

Ryder: You want me to teach you that ways of the private investigator?

Kelly: Yeah, sure. It could be helpful in the field.

Ryder: But you’re a cop.

Kelly: So? I can’t be an honorary PI and a police officer?

Ryder: (sigh) Alright, you’ve got a gut feeling about this stunt team or is that protocol talking?

Kelly: I don’t understand.

Ryder: Protocol is a certain way of thinking, it’s by-the-book, but when you’re in a tough spot and you have to make a decision, you have to do the human way of thinking and trust your instincts. What you feel is the right thing to do. So do you feel like we should look into the stunt team or do you think we should look into the stun team?

Kelly: (with confidence) I feel it. (less confident) Well, I feel- something.

She looks at Ryder with an unsure expression. Ryder scratches the side of his face, thinking briefly.

Ryder: Alright. I guess that’s something. How about we split up- you look into the stun team and anyone else that could be related or involved and I’ll go after everyone else.

Kelly: That won’t be too much on you? ...Or are you just treating me like a rookie?

Ryder: I’ve handled tons of cases on my own before and you are a rookie- a rookie PI, but that doesn’t mean I should treat you any different. Trust me, once you starting digging around, you find all sorts of stuff. I’ll catch you in a few.

Ryder goes off, exploring more of the backstage area, leaving Kelly in the current area on her own. She then turns her attention to another person and approaches them. The actor in the leotard manages to fish a water bottle from his blue duffle bag and takes a sip from it. He then turns his head and looks over at Kelly, asking questions, and squints. The scene cuts over to Ryder, walking a hallway. He makes a turn and sees two people conversing with each other; a young girl, probably in her late teens, with red hair and brown eyes and an old man, probably in his 50’s to 60’s, with grey hair and a trimmed beard. She’s wearing an olive green jacket over a red sweater, with worn light blue jeans and black shoes. She also has a necklace on. He’s wearing a yellow, plaid buttoned shirt over a white T-Shirt with black pants and boots. The older man also has an acoustic guitar in his hands.

Ryder: Hi. Sorry to interrupt but I would like to ask you both some questions.

Older Man: No problem, guy. Lots of newcomers need a little extra help at the beginning.

Girl: Yeah, Lazlo definitely helped me around. I just started a few weeks ago, trying to understand what I want in the world but I think theatre is something to really explore.

Ryder: Sounds… interesting. Glad to hear that you’re uh- finding your place in the world, I guess. I’m actually not a member. My name is Ryder, I’m a private investigator.

Lazlo: This is about Mia, isn’t it?

Ryder: Seems like it.

Lazlo: (huffs) That girl was like an angel, let me tell you. Her voice was like the cries of a caged bird that needed to be freed and the warmth she gave off every time she entered the room was like a beam of light from the heavens. It hasn’t been long since her disappearance, I certainly hope you’re the right man to bring her back to us.

Ryder: I’ll do what I can.

Girl: I didn’t know her for too long but she was really nice to me. A lot of the people here try to treat me different because I’m younger except for Lazlo and her.

Ryder: Nothing wrong with being different, makes you more interesting to talk about.

Girl: Well, it sucks when you try to fit in.

Ryder, looks off: Yeah… guess it does. (turns his attention back to Lazlo) When did you say she went missing again?

Lazlo: About a week ago, although I have a feeling it wasn’t just a coincidence.

Ryder: What makes you say that?

Lazlo: Mia was always one to have an agenda, a plan for everything. She was organized, you know? Started the day at the same time, had the same meals, talked with the same people. You stay around for as long as I have and you pick up on somethings. I don’t know if that even means anything but I hope it helps.

Ryder: Yeah. It’d help more if you elaborate on some of things you saw, yourself. Were you there at the time it happened?

Lazlo: No. But I was there when something else happened. (sigh) Kid, maybe you should head on out of here.

Girl: I’m not just a kid. I’ll be 17 soon. Then I’ll be my own adult. Why is that so hard for people to understand?

Lazlo: Now look here. I ain’t people, you know that. I’m just going to get into some things that I’d prefer you don’t here. This world might not be grateful to young ones like you but I sure as hell try to be. Now run along, I’ll play you something special later.

Girl: You promise?

Lazlo: Yeah. I’m thinking blues or soul jazz tonight.

Girl: Okay but next week, you have to try one of your old rock songs.

Lazlo: Deal.

The girl smiles then runs along. Lazlo chuckles to himself for a moment before a grim expression comes over his face.

Lazlo: Mia wasn’t always the way she was now. There was another fella, another actor here before he left. Guy caused a lot of drama, and not the one that comes from the scripts either.

Ryder: You think this guy came back and took her?

Lazlo: Like hell if I know. All I’m saying is this guy picked a bone with everyone then left, never heard a word from him since. After all these years, him just taking her- that, that don’t sound right. But then again, buildings fell a few months back, theatre got trashed, a lot of people got hurt. What I’m trying to say is anything is possible nowadays.

Ryder: So what do you do here, at the theatre?

Lazlo: I sing.

Ryder: You’re kidding.

Lazlo: Serious as a heart attack, my friend. Guitar is just a bonus. It was a hobby I picked up after my wife had passed. It helps me, well-

Ryder: Forget?

Lazlo: No. Remember. My songs, they’re like stories. And that’s where I find her. Yeah… But considering the living, Juliet likes them as you can see. Man, she’s really one heck of a kid. This place- it started off a hobby but it’s like a family for me. That’s why it means so much to have Mia back. She wasn’t just my muse, she was apart of me- apart of all of us here. This family is the only one I have left.

Ryder: I hear you. I’ll do everything I can, Lazlo.

Lazlo: Thank you. (takes a breath)

Lazlo tunes his guitar with a silence between them. Ryder then takes his leave and moves on elsewhere. Just around the corner, across the other side of the hallway, Juliet can be seen watching the two of them, but now mainly Ryder, from a distance. The scene cuts to the main stage, where another acting session seems to be going on. Curtains push past and Ryder makes his way backstage again where Allison is talking with a different actor and a woman can be seen standing by the stage, watching the performance and taking notes. Ryder approaches, but his eyes are set on Rupert, who is leading the performance. The young woman taking notes looks up briefly before looking back down, however, taking a glance at Ryder passing by, made her take another look.

Woman: Uh, excuse me but what exactly do you think you’re doing?

Ryder: I’ve got some questions for Rupert and I’m getting tired of walking around.

Woman: Yeah, well, he just went on stage to do another session. Probably best not to interrupt him while his doing one of his performances especially as of late. He’s really trying to nail down his character for our latest script, y’know?

Ryder: Okay so… when do you think he’s going to be done? I still need to talk to him about what happened.

Woman: I don’t know. When he’s up there, he’s up there. There’s no telling when he’ll stop.

Ryder: Well, I guess I can take this opportunity to ask you some questions then.

Woman: Shoot, I’m an open book.

Ryder: Alright. How well did you know Mia Hawkins?

Woman: We were close. I was her understudy, I had to study her lines and the way she portrayed her characters in case, well, something happened to her.

Ryder: Then what would happen?

Understudy: I write a poem about it. What do you think happens? I replace her, it’s literally my job. I know how it sounds but I wouldn’t get rid of her.

Ryder: And why’s that?

Understudy: Because she pretty much made me exist. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. Mia stood up for me when no one else would, gave me a chance to do something productive with my life. I have nothing but respect for her. Without Mia, I’d probably still be out on the streets, without a home. But this theatre is my home now, and these people are my family. I wouldn’t let anything happen to them.

Ryder: So you live in the theatre?

Understudy: Are you looking for an excuse to judge me?

Ryder: Trust me, I don’t need excuses. No, I’m just wondering if you were here when she was taken.

Understudy: I was, sort of. I was here when she left and I was here when she didn’t come in the next day.

Ryder: And how long ago was this?

Understudy: About a week. It hasn’t been too long but we’re all trying to get through this. It’s nerve-wracking but it’s like they always say, “the show must go on!” (sigh) I just hope she’s alright, there’s so many things I have to tell her when she gets back.

Ryder: Like what?

The understudy is silent as she ponders, looking downwards. Ryder looks over at her but then looks away.

Ryder: I get it. You- you don’t actually have to say anything.

The two are silent as they watch the performance. Rupert taking a step towards the stage, wearing a dark, battered cloak and a top hat.

Rupert, acting: You think you are close but you are only but a few steps away. I can see what you’re thinking. You’re predictable, while I- I am inconceivable, unforeseeable, non-existing. I am… your worst nightmare. (maniacally laughs)

Ryder: You weren’t kidding about him nailing down his character.

Understudy: Yeah… well, he’s lead actor for a reason. I guess that’s another reason I’m glad I have this job. It gives me a chance to study great actors like these. They’re performances are just so- so-

Ryder: Realistic.

Understudy: Yeah, exactly.

The understudy continues watching the performance and starts taking notes down while Ryder watches, with a peaked curiosity. The scene then cuts to later with the theatre group packing up for the night, taking and moving equipment, props and other objects of interest. Ryder watches the stage from the doorway that he had entered from earlier. Kelly starts to make her way up over to Ryder who glances at her momentarily before returning to look at the performers.

Kelly, standing besides him: Alright, I finished talking with the stunt team and some other associated actors and actresses. They all had similar views on Mia.

Ryder: Something tells me she was a popular person around here.

Kelly: Which just begs the question-

Ryder: “Why would anyone want her gone?” Yeah.

Kelly: Then again, we don’t know that it was anyone associated with the theatre. It could’ve just been a stalker or a random criminal.

Ryder: No… Something is definitely up here, Kelly. Besides, I don’t think I would’ve been called in if it was just a random kidnapping.

Kelly: What makes you think it wasn’t?

Ryder: Just a hunch. My hunches are usually right.

Kelly: Usually?

Ryder: What? At least, I’m being honest.

Kelly: So what now? Not much to investigate with everyone leaving and we don’t exactly have any prime suspects yet.

Ryder: You’re right… Come on, let’s go over what we have and sleep on it.

Kelly: Really? You don’t want to dig into this any deeper?

Ryder: It’s like you said, we don’t have much to go on yet. Besides, investigations take time. This stuff doesn’t get solved within a few hours, y’know.

Kelly: Alright, I guess that’s fair.

Ryder: We’ll find out what happened to her. It’s like you said: we have to think about finding her, not losing her.

Kelly: I did say something along those lines. So, your place or mine?

Ryder: (scoff) Mine. I need to look some stuff about about the theatre in my files and, well, all my stuff is at my place. But we need to pick up some coffee on the way.

Kelly scoffs and just gives Ryder a look.

Ryder: It’s for staying up all night. Would you like to go over our findings over some hot earl grey tea?

Kelly: Sure. Look, I like coffee and helping you out but there’s gotta be a limit, Ryder. You wouldn’t see me drinking at least more than two cups a day.

The scene cuts once again over to the Ryder Investigations apartment complex. It’s dark, obviously night, with a few stars behind the misty, see-through cloud wisps. A couple of the lights are still on in the building.

 
Ryder Investigations
December 19, 22:54 EDT

Inside the office, both Ryder and Kelly are seen either sitting or laying on the rug with several files and tons of cups of coffee around them. They just finished laughing about something as well.

Kelly: So you just punched the guy?

Ryder: Yeah, yeah he was being a real prick so I just- (imitates a punch) gave him one.

Kelly: Sounds… aggressive.

Ryder: Trust me, you haven’t seen my bad side.

Kelly: Not sure if I want to.

Ryder: What about you? You ever do anything crazy and violent?

Kelly: No. No! Come on, Ryder, you know me. (chuckles)

Ryder: Yeah but it’s been like years since we’ve seen each other. You must’ve done something during that time.

Kelly: I uh- lost my cool with a woman back when they had me write up tickets and attend to complaints.

Ryder: So your rookie years. (chugs coffee from cup)

Kelly: Yeah, and- I well, shouted at her. I was pretty freakin’ mad. (laughs)

Ryder: Come on, just shouted at her?

Kelly: It was a pretty big shout.

Ryder: Nah, I’m not buying it. There must’ve been something crazier that you did.

Kelly’s chuckles start to die down as she looks away, fixing her hair.

Kelly: Hey um- maybe we should get back to working on these files. It’s getting kinda late and I definitely want to make some progress on this before I pass out from lack of coffee or something.

Ryder: Uh, yeah sure.

Ryder sits up straight rather than laying on the rug and adjusts some of the files, as well as some of their findings that had been written down.

Ryder: So we know that someone reported Mia Hawkins missing, and we know that she was a member of the Dramatos Theatre Group in the downtown area. The group consists of at least nine individuals. Mia was considered missing about a week ago, when she failed to show up during her regular schedule.

Kelly: We also know that she was taken.

Ryder: ...Do we?

Kelly: Wh- Yes, we do. It’s a kidnapping case, so she was taken.

Ryder: Usually, yes. But, we’re not really dealing with the average person here, Kelly. These are actors, performers, people who lie for a living. If Mia Hawkins had such a high reputation at the theatre for being, not only one of their lead actors but, one of the best actresses they’ve ever seen, then maybe she had enough skill to make it seem like she’s been missing.

Kelly: You think she faked her own kidnapping?

Ryder: Happened before. Life insurance scams, cheating spouse, someone’s kid ran away. I’m just saying nothing is off the table.

Kelly: Yeah, nothing is off the table, including the not-so-extraordinary options.

Ryder: Alright, let’s just say she really was taken. We may have gotten some solid alibis, similar beliefs about her and descriptions that could help lead the case but they’re just like Mia- people with a talent to hide themselves behind a disguise; a facade used to trick us into believing what they want us to believe. There’s motive somewhere in that theatre and they all have the power to get away with kidnapping.

Kelly: So what do we do?

Ryder: Gather more evidence, obviously, and solve this [dang] case. But there’s something else… We trust no one but ourselves, no matter who and no matter what.

Kelly looks at Ryder as the scene pans out into the darkness where it transitions over into the light sky of the new day, outside of the building. The light blue sky holds the sun burning through the cool passing air as a few heavy clouds float on by. Several cars and people can be seen passing by, below, going about with their average and ordinary lives. Inside the office again, Ryder can be seen laying against the couch on the floor, either sleeping or unconscious. There are several files, folder and knocked over coffee cups on the coffee floor, not the mention the paper drink carrier laying elsewhere in the corner of the room. Kelly, on the other hand, is resting comfortably, well more comfortably, on the couch with an orange blanket over her. As a moment passes by, a phone is then heard ringing. Kelly then stirs awake as the ringing becomes consistent. She lifts her head up from the couch, looking down at Ryder and the mess around him. She gives a soft smile before the ringing of her phone catches her attention again. She fumbles her hand underneath the blanket until she finds her cell phone. “Police Department” is labeled under Caller ID. Kelly looks at the phone seriously then takes the call. She swings her feet out from underneath the blanket and sits on the edge of the couch as she takes the call.

Kelly: What’s the situation? ...Wait, what? ...Okay, yeah- I understand. ...Sure, I’ll be down there as soon as I can. ...Of course.

Kelly moves the phone away from her face and hangs up. She then looks up, thinking.

Ryder, unseen: So- who was it?

She looks down, seeing Ryder looking up at her, looking groggy but mostly awake.

Kelly: It’s the department- they would like me to come check out an incident at the Manhattan Trust Bank. A robbery.

Ryder: Sounds pretty low-grade to call in an officer on sick-leave.

Kelly: Well, I called up the precinct before we got over here to see if they have any info on Mia Hawkins, to help with the case, y’know.

Ryder: Yeah, and what does the case have to do with the robbery?

Kelly: According to the security cameras, Mia Hawkins is the one who robbed the bank.

Ryder looks at her with an expression of both confusion and shock. The scene shifts over to the bank where police officers are only on the scene.

 
Manhattan Trust Bank
December 20, 8:00 EDT

A pair of feet are seen approaching the scene from down the street; one wearing black boots while the others are wearing blue shoes. An officer standing outside of the scene turns his head towards the two approaching figures.

Officer: Sorry, folks. This is a crime scene.

The two figures stop before the officer with the view moving up at a steady pace. The figure with the blue shoes and brown jacket, shows the officer a badge.

Kelly, showing officer her badge: Jessica Kelly, with plus one.

The officer looks at the badge then at Ryder. He gives him a look before turning to Kelly and giving her a nod.

Kelly: What happened here?

Officer: Robbery. Nothing too extraordinary. But the guys can’t make sense of the tape. Not to mention what the witnesses are reporting. I guess they called you in too, huh?

Kelly: Yeah.

Officer: I’m supposed to be on a break right now, watching some TV and breaking my diet. Now I’m out here, watching people and breaking my back.

Kelly: What’s going on with that? We don’t have enough guys out here or something?

Officer: Apparently there’s some other shit that’s going on over on the other side of the city. Look, just head on in- I’m sure they’ll tell you more about it than me.

Kelly nods and her and Ryder start to approach the bank.

Ryder: One of the most expensive banks in the city. Now I see why it’s a big deal that they can’t identify who stole the money.

Kelly: But they did identify the suspect as Mia Hawkins.

Ryder: You really think she got kidnapped then started robbing banks? No, what we have here is a traditional mystery.

Kelly: And you wonder why people call you Sherlock.

Ryder: I just assumed it was because of my Irish heritage.

Kelly: You’re kidding, right?

Ryder shrugs. The two of them enter the bank, where a few more officers are seen. Two officers are with a bundle of witnesses, most of which are in expensive suits and dresses while a small few are in just dress shirts and slacks. The other two are at the vault which has been cracked open. There’s also a fourth officer by the computers, examining footage. One of the officers examining the vault turns and sees Kelly with Ryder, entering the bank. She pulls away from the other officers and approaches the two.

Kelly: Officer Kelly, plus one.

Other Officer: Is he a citizen?

Ryder: More or less. I’m a private investigator ...and a friend.

The officer turns and gives Kelly a look.

Kelly: He’s confidential, besides the prime suspect is a missing person in his current case.

Other Officer: Alright. I’ll keep this one out of my reports.

Kelly: Thanks.

Other Officer: Well, like said in the call I assume you got, we came up with the security cam footage which showed, well, you might just want to take a look yourself.

The officer directs them to the computer showing the footage. Ryder and Kelly take a look, where they see a blonde woman in a beige jacket enter the bank through the front entrance. She approaches the vault without any hesitation or distraction. Once there, the woman places her hands on the vault wheel and, after a short moment, starts turning. Ryder watches more closely. Once the vault door is open, she swings it open and goes inside.

Officer, seated by the computer, fast forwarding the footage: She goes in there for about four minutes and comes out with only one bag.

The officer stops fast-forwarding when the woman finally exits the vault, carrying only one bag like he mentioned. Ryder strokes the back of his head, as he continues watching.

Officer, seated by the computer: Then she just leaves.

Kelly: Guards?

Other Officer: Never made it to their shift. Turns out they were assaulted before they could even reach the bank. At least, that’s what they’re telling us. Everyone here with a badge thinks looking into this any further is a waste of time. I mean, yeah, we have our perp on camera but now you’re telling me this person is missing. I don’t know. What do you think, private investigator?

Ryder: I think we’re looking at this from the wrong angle.

Other Officer: How so?

Ryder: No, I mean. Literally the wrong angle. Let me just-

Ryder walks over to the vault door and looks over it.

Officer, seated by the computer, looks up from behind the screen: The woman went inside, I think that’s where most of the action would be.

Ryder: True but that’s not what we have available to us. We saw her open this door, right?

Kelly: Well, yeah.

Ryder: But this door is made from stainless steel, it probably weighs about 6 thousand pounds, maybe even 45 K depending on a bunch of other variables. So she couldn’t have opened up this vault without the automatic release… which wasn’t activated.

Other Officer: (scoffs) Or maybe she’s just another Mutant with powers.

Ryder: Well, nothing’s off the table. (gives Kelly a glance)

She notices but simply crosses her arms. Ryder turns back to the vault, then looks up at the security cameras.

Ryder: The cameras are fixed.

Officer, seated by the computer: Yeah, they have the ability to sweep but that feature wasn’t active during the time of the break in. Odd but it happens sometimes.

Ryder: Yeah and they most likely took advantage of that.

Kelly: They?

Ryder: This has all the makings of a multiple-person job. We just can’t see any but her. The cameras are fixed so they could just be out of sight or range.

Officer, behind the computer: That’s impossible. This bank has pretty damn good range, it pretty much covers the whole bank floor.

Ryder: Nothing’s impossible, most people are just too dim to even think of doing it.

Other Officer: So what exactly do you suggest?

Ryder: Lemme look around while my colleague here talks with the witnesses. See what we can find. I get the evidence to help find Mia Hawkins while you guys get the robbery sorted out. Then we don’t have to deal with each other after that.

Other Officer: Alright, sounds good. Except it would seem you’re pretty good at what you do.

Ryder: I’ve just been doing this for a long while.

Other Officer: Well, maybe you should consider expanding your business. Work with the NYPD for a change.

Ryder: Nah, don’t think so. Kelly, I’ll be back.

Ryder heads off, leaving Kelly with the other officers.

Officer, behind the computer: What a dick.

The scene cuts over from the officers looking at the exit, seeing Ryder leave, to the outside of the bank where Ryder finds himself walking around the building, looking around and examining the little details. He then stops and puts his hands on his hips. His head then turns, seeing something out of the focus on the ground; it appears to be something smudged. As Ryder approaches the unknown object, it starts to become more in focus. Ryder’s black boots stop before the smudged object as he squats down before it to get a better look. He examines the smudged object further, it’s smeared on the concrete and has a pinkish color to it. There’s also something else within the smudge. Ryder reaches into his pocket and pulls out a black, plastic coffee stirrer. He reaches down with it in hand and uses the end of the stirrer to lift up the strange object from the smear. It appears to be a shred of some type of elastic material. Ryder eyes it curiously with a fixated fascination. He then looks away, as if thinking of something, then turns back to the material at the end of the stirrer. His eyes shift slightly in place then start to widen.

Ryder: Kelly.

Ryder starts to get up in a hurry but steadies himself as the material continues to dangle on the edge of his stirrer. Inside of the bank, Kelly is seen conversing with the witnesses while the officers start to clear the bank or move onto another section of the interior. The man that Kelly is talking to is wearing a red shirt with brown cargo pants. He appears to be in his fifties with white/blonde hair and a rough beard.

Man: And that’s pretty much all I know, miss.

Kelly: Alright, well, thank you for giving me your time. You can just follow those officers outside, they’ll make sure you get home safely.

Man: Thank you.

The man gets up and approaches the exit. Kelly conducts her own notes while another man, wearing a formal light blue dress shirt sits before her.

Figure: So… who talks first? You talk first? I talk first?

Kelly: I’ll be with you in a minute, mister-

Figure: Allen. David Allen.

Kelly looks up from her notes at the man who, is in fact, David Allen.

David Allen: Hi. We’ve met before actually, it was-

Kelly: Yeah, Chloe introduced us at the courthouse. How are yo- what are you doing here? (surprised chuckle)

David: I know right. Heh, I’m actually trying to- well was trying to- make a deposit. Serves me right for trying a new bank, huh?

Kelly: Yeah. So you were here when they robbed the bank?

David: At five in the morning? Yeah. Don’t ask, well I mean- I guess you have to since that’s your job, right? I mean, I just forgot to put in some money I made from my job. I’m trying to save up on something really important so, yeah.

Kelly: So he has a job.

David: He does indeed.

Kelly: It’s not- y’know-

David: At the bank? No, I work at the hospital in the city. Nothing major but it gives me something to deposit, heh. And you- you’re an officer of the law. I should have expected as much. Chloe seems to have a lot of friends in government, so I guess the police extends into that somehow.

Kelly: So if you didn’t already put that together before then what did you think I did. Before, I mean.

David: Well, I didn’t really figure anything. Just thought you were a beautiful looking lady that was just trying to be friendly.

Kelly gives him a smile. Just then, the sound of doors being pushed open is heard and Ryder enters the view a short moment later, approaching Kelly.

Ryder: I think I found something.

Kelly: Uh, yeah. Okay. (turns to David) Looks like I’m needed elsewhere.

David: Well, if it helps with your investigation or whatever it’s really called, I saw the woman who robbed the bank. From across the street. She went around the bank and ducked into an alley. I couldn’t really make it out too well but I’m pretty certain she was a short woman.

Kelly: Thanks for your assistance. This’ll help a lot with our investigation.

David: Nice. Well, if you need anything else from me, you can have my cell. I mean, my number for my cell- not my actual cell phone. Heh.

David writes it down using a notepad and a pen lying on one of the bank’s desks that are next to him. He then neatly tears the note from the pad and hands it over to Kelly, who gently accepts it.

Kelly: I’ll do that.

Ryder looks over at Kelly, without turning his head. He then puts his hand on Kelly’s shoulder and leads her away from David.

Kelly: Sorry, Ryder. I guess I just caught up with the witnesses.

Ryder: Right. I mean, are you sure you weren’t just caught up with that guy.

Kelly: What?

The two of them exit the bank, it’s thick glass doors closing behind them.

Ryder: You heard me.

Kelly: I was just conducting an exchange in a professional manner in order to gather answers that we can use to help us solve this change and the robbery investigation.

Ryder: Uh huh. Then what’s this? (reveals note)

Kelly looks surprised then tries to snatch it back but Ryder holds the note high up out of reach.

Kelly: Come on, Ryder. Give it back, that’s so not funny.

Ryder laughs and reads the note, lowering it in front of him but at a distance from Kelly.

Ryder, reading the note: David Allen, huh?

Kelly reaches for the note again but Ryder extends his other arm out to keep her from getting to it.

Ryder, reading the note: Oooh, and he left you a phone number too.

Kelly: Ryder- Ryder! Gosh, you’re being so immature right now.

Ryder: Alright, alright. (hands her back the note) I’m just messing around, we used to mess around all the time.

Kelly: Yeah but that was back when we were teenagers, Ryder. Besides, you said you’d cut that out.

Ryder: Well, now you get to mess with me and I can’t say anything about it.

Kelly: Alright fine but I’m saving it and getting you back big time. (sigh)

Ryder turns to see Kelly, getting kinda glum.

Ryder: Look, I’m not gonna get between you and this guy if that’s what you’re thinking about.

Kelly: No, I’m just- I don’t know if I should even do something about it. I’m supposed to be a police officer but here I am using an opportunity to get answers to find a missing woman and solve a mysterious robbery as a way of socializing? That’s not the right way to do things, not by me and not by protocol.

Ryder: True, but it’s like I said, sometimes you have to listen to what you want and not just protocol. Protocol isn’t going to help you outside of work especially when it comes to guys unless they’re like trying to pull something on you. Then you can probably use some police moves on ‘em or something. I don’t know.

Kelly: Yeah… maybe you’re right.

Ryder: Maybe I am.

Kelly: So, what did you find?

Ryder removes the stirrer from his jacket pocket, which has traces of the smudged substance and the elastic material still on its tip.

Kelly: Gross. What is it?

Ryder: I have an idea and a theory but I need to confirm it first.

Kelly: Alright, how?

Ryder: We have to go back to the theatre.

The scene skips over to the Dramatos Theatre once again, with the view looking down upon it from a higher up angle. It’s later in the day but, rather than getting darker, the sky seems to have brightened slightly.

 
Dramatos Theatre
December 20, 9:55 EDT

Inside, Ryder and Kelly can be seen entering the main theatre room.

Rupert, looking over at them: Morning. Is there anything that I can assist you with?

Ryder: As a matter of fact- I’d like another look at the backstage.

Rupert: Uh- yes, of course. Allison, do you mind helping them find whatever it is they’re looking for.

Allison: Sure. (talking to the other actors on the stage) Alright, just practice Scene 18 once more. Remember, raise your voices and put more emphasis into your motions. You want the audience to hear your words but feel your actions.

Allison joins Ryder and Kelly who are already making their way over to the back of the stage.

Allison: So, does this mean you’ve found something? That you’re any closer to finding Mia?

Kelly: We hope so.

Ryder continues ahead, focused and determined on finding what he’s after.

Ryder, looking around: Where do you keep your cosmetics?

Allison: Just over here, in the room on the right.

Ryder makes his way over there and enters the room. Inside, there’s a makeup desk with three mirrors and tons of cosmetics on it. There are also several different types of costumes and props in this room, before the desk. Ryder moves to the desk and checks it thoroughly.

Allison: What exactly are you looking for?

Ryder: This!

Ryder swings around to face the two women, holding an open canister of pink-ish substance in his hand.

Kelly: Makeup?

Ryder: Makeup similar, if not the same, as the one found at the robbery.

Ryder removes the sample he had on the stirrer which is now within a folded napkin. They do, indeed, look similar. While Kelly and Allison look at the comparison before them, Ryder turns his head, now noticing the costumes and props around him. He hands the two things to both of them and looks at the costumes some more.

Ryder: What type of costumes do you have in here?

Allison: Not much but we make the most out of it. Suits, dresses, wigs, masks, hats, those kinds of things.

Ryder: Masks, huh?

Kelly looks over at Ryder.

Kelly: You don’t think that someone from the theatre made a mask to make them look like Mia, right?

Ryder: That’s exactly what I think.

Kelly: Okay, let’s just say someone did do that, that would take tons of time to make, right?

Allison: Well, we don’t really make masks but, like I said, we work with what we have. Somethings you have put some pieces with some others and frankenstein a solution. If someone were to make a mask based on someone, they would need plenty of references like pictures and such like that. Either that or they would have to know what they look like like the back of their hand.

Ryder: So we’re looking for someone who works at the theatre, has plenty of time on their hands, knows how most of the functions work and has spent plenty of time with Mia Hawkins. Allison, where’s your understudy?

Allison: She- ...she should be in the dressing rooms.

Ryder nods and leaves the room. The scene cuts over to the dressing rooms where the understudy is seated in front of a table with a mirror, similar to the one in the cosmetics room. The door then opens, with Ryder standing in the doorway.

Understudy: Oh, it’s just you. Did you come to ask me some more questions?

Ryder: Yeah, I just thought of a few actually. Do you know anything about prosthetics?

Understudy: Prosthetics? What like fake arms and stuff like that?

Ryder: No. I mean like as in cosmetics. Some theatres and film studios use them to change the appearance of an actor for a role they’re about to play.

Understudy: Huh, well you learn something new every day.

Ryder: I know. You don’t have to pretend anymore.

The understudy looks at Ryder as if she’s about to say something, but her face grows cold as she turns away, ashamed.

Understudy: How’d you find out?

Ryder: I’m a private investigator. Doesn’t take long to figure things out for me. So much for having respect for Mia.

Understudy: You don’t understand. I didn’t do anything to her, I just- this theatre is practically breaking down all around us. Panels falling off, paint peeling off. I’m trying my best to fix this place up with whatever I have here but it’s not enough and since the government isn’t willing to put any money into the theatre-

Ryder: You had to steal some?

Understudy: I told you, I had to do some things I’m not entirely proud of on the streets. I talked with Mia about my plan but she obviously wanted me to find another way to make money for the theatre renovations. But since she went missing, I just thought- I’d use her face. Believe me, I want her to come back, I really do, but, look, she went missing. Now the police will look for her and then they’ll find her.

Ryder: (sigh) How’d you get the vault open? Who helped you?

Understudy: Nobody.

Ryder gives her a glaring look.

Ryder: You can try that once but don’t bullshit me a second time.

Understudy: The stunt team. They needed a female so I signed up, trained with them, gained their trust after working with them for so long. Of course, I’m needed elsewhere which is why I’m not an official member. Anyways, I told them my plan and they wanted in. They were agile enough to get around the cameras plus Trevor’s a Mutant. Super strength and all that.

Ryder: Huh. Well, that explains the vault door and pretty much everything else.

Kelly enters the room.

Kelly: What happened? Did she-

Ryder: Yeah. We found who robbed the bank but not who kidnapped Mia.

Understudy: You think it was someone from here? I’ve been here, I haven’t seen anything that makes someone look like a kidnapper.

Ryder: Weren’t you busy conducting your grand scheme?

Understudy: I suppose… So, are you going to arrest me?

Ryder: Yes. But I’ll put in a good word for you. Although, my word probably means [crap] to the NYPD.

Kelly: Didn’t she just rob one of the most expensive banks in the city? As well as steal someone’s identity, a missing person, might I add?

Ryder: In order to fix up the theatre. Stupid idea but I don’t think that makes her a bad person.

Kelly: I’ll see… in the meantime, I’ll call this in and-

Ryder: No. Not yet, anyways.

Kelly: No?

Ryder: We call the police now, the real culprit gets away. Understudy won’t be going anywhere, she has nowhere to go anyways.

Kelly: So now what? All the clues have been pointed to this. Now we’re no closer to finding Mia than we were when we started.

Ryder: Not true. We now know the stunt team and the understudy weren’t involved. It lessens the herd a bit. Let’s keep looking, there just might be something we missed.

Kelly gives him a nod. Ryder and Kelly then exit the room, with Kelly giving another look to a defeated looking understudy. Once in the hall, Ryder can be seen looking both ways but then becomes focused on one direction, while Kelly looks around then turns to him.

Ryder: Alright, let’s split up. Cover more ground.

Kelly: Makes sense.

Ryder goes one way while Kelly goes another. She continues down the hall until she stops, hearing some muffled shouting. Kelly then turns in that direction and gets closer to a door. She opens it and enters a room, longer than the others. It’s dark inside, with a light on towards the back of the room. Kelly readies herself as she progresses further into the room.

Voice: You can’t keep doing this, someone is going to find out eventually.

Another Voice: What does it matter? I want them to know, I want everyone to know just who I am and what I can do!

Voice: Even when other lives are caught in the balance? I’m sorry, but I can’t let you do this anymore.

Another Voice: So be it!

The first voice then yells out while the other laughs. Kelly steps forth to intervene but notices two of the actors from the theatre group, with scripts in their hands. They stop their performances to look over at Kelly. She stops as well, cheeks slightly red.

Kelly: Hi. Sorry, I just- thought something else was happening. Continue with your- uh- thing.

Kelly then steps away. She can then be seen leaving the room, closing the door behind her. She leans against the door and holds her face, groaning.

Kelly: I hope you’re having better luck with this, Ryder.

The scene catches up with Ryder, who continues looking around, examining small details in the hall. He then stops and strokes the back of his head. He glances over somewhere then turns away but then stops and looks back, seeing Juliet watching him from the other end of the hall. He turns completely to face her.

Ryder: Uh, hi.

Juliet: ...Hello.

Ryder: Whatcha doing?

Juliet: Watching you. I uh- I watch a lot of people here.

Juliet gets out from behind the corner and walks over to Ryder.

Juliet: I guess it just makes me feel comfortable, knowing how people really are when they think they’re not being watched. It’s like the real them.

Ryder: Did you watch Mia?

Juliet: ...I did.

Ryder: What did you see?

Juliet: Something I wasn’t supposed to, I think.

Ryder: ...What do you mean?

Juliet: She was talking with someone, one time. I didn’t see who but he was from the theatre. Just from the way they were talking, it was like someone from the theatre. But I didn’t recognize his voice. I thought it was a performance or something but then I heard what they were talking about. Something about a person. He was doing bad things to her.

Ryder: What was the person’s name?

Juliet: Roseanne. Rosanne Tipton.

Ryder’s eyes widen. She looks pretty surprised but the girl continues without knowing.

Juliet: I think it was for a character in a scene, but Mia didn’t like the scene. In fact, she got pretty mad at him.

Her focus shifts back to Ryder, he still looks pretty surprised.

Juliet: Hey, what’s wrong?

His eyes shift while his head remains still, his body trembles slightly; like he’s discovering something horrifying.

Ryder: I’ve heard that name before…

The scene shows Ryder and Juliet standing in the center of the hall but soon moves towards the right, entering the darkness between the walls. The darkness then transitions into a flashback scene as it enters it from the left. Ryder can be seen, investigating an apartment. The lights are off but the sunlight still finds a way inside through the closed curtains. Ryder uses a flashlight to shine light on certain areas of the apartment. He then finds himself in the living room where there is a smashed up end table with glass fragments on the floor. He continues looking as if seeing something that isn’t really there. Sure enough, there is dried up blood stains on the edges of the glass fragments as well as on the carpet that they’re resting on. Ryder then looks away, finding his focus on the couch where the bottom portion is shredded up by what looks like slashes or cuts. He gets closer and kneels down, taking a closer look.

Ryder: Cuts… Couldn’t have been Malin, his beefy-ass fingers couldn’t use a knife, even if it was slice butter. And Kane… I don’t know if he has enough dignity to let go off a gun in trade of a different kind of weapon. (sigh) Raggy wanted me to look into a different region of people who could’ve done this to you, Roseanne. Hitmen, bounty hunters, hell even raiders. But I know a merc’s work when I see one… trust me, I’ll never forget. And while there are tons of mercenaries out there, there’s no other group that I know the most than the- (clears throat) ...them. (deep sigh) Fisher could’ve done this… if he wasn’t already dead. Maybe one of the others. No. I need more than slashes to confirm it was even one of them.

Ryder gets up and takes a walk through the house, holding his head and letting out an angry grunt. He then stops in the hall and leans his head against the door before him.

Ryder: I did something for you, Roseanne. I fucking solved a case for you. You could’ve at least stayed alive to see how well it could’ve worked out. (sigh) I guess it’s not your fault. It wasn’t their fault either. No, it was the bastard that killed you that deserves to die. And he will.

Ryder then closes his eyes and lets out a breath.

Ryder: Getting mad at the world isn’t going to help anyone, Ryder. I need to find something concrete so I can end this already.

Ryder then looks down. His eyes widen slowly. Before him is the door knob for the door in front of him, covered with a red hand print. Ryder takes the door knob into his hand and slowly turns it. He throws the door open and looks inside. He body in a similar state as it is in the present, shaking and trembling with surprise and horror. On the wall of the room, written in blood is a phrase, “Once more unto the breach, beast.” in all caps.

Ryder: No… not him. There’s no way he survived. Blood, h-he’s alive...

The scene then transitions back to the present, shifting from the past to the current Ryder. The transition is nearly seamless.

Ryder: Everything’s starting to make sense.

Juliet: So what are you going to do?

Ryder turns to look at Juliet.

Ryder: I’m going to end this already.

Ryder then looks out with such determination as the scene fades into the theatre at a later time. It must be late as several of the theatre group members are packing up and leaving to return to their lives outside. Rupert is seen carrying some equipment when Allison walks on over.

Rupert: Allison, for the last time, you don’t have to stay so late. I can handle the theatre from here.

Allison: Understood, it’s just- well, you’ve got a call.

Rupert looks at him, intrigued.

Rupert: At this time? Who’s calling?

Allison: Ryder.

Rupert then changes his posture and clears his throat. He then gives Allison a nod.

Rupert: Office?

Allison: Yeah. Look, if you need any help while you take the call-

Rupert: Of course. Sorry, I should really check to see what he needs.

He walks ahead, leaving Allison to herself. The scene cuts over to a small office where a landline telephone can be seen ringing. A hand comes and answers the phone, lifting it up to Rupert's face as the view follows it closely.

Rupert: Hello?

Ryder, over the phone: It’s me, Ryder.

Rupert: Yes, Allison said you needed to speak with me. Is it urgent? I didn’t see you leave before.

Ryder, over the phone: I have a tendency of slipping away. As of urgent, well, I suppose that’s up to you to decide.

Rupert: What do you mean?

The scene cuts over to the exterior of the apartment complex housing Ryder Investigations.

 
Ryder Investigations
December 20, 20:47 EDT

Ryder, voice over: I’ve solved the case.

Inside the office, Ryder can be seen seated at his desk with his desk phone in hand.

Ryder: Do you think you can stop by my office in, let’s say an hour? I’d like to discuss how it happened and who’s responsible.

Rupert, over the phone: Ah, yeah. I- I think so. What’s this about, Ryder?

Ryder: I just want to explain it all to you. After all, you called me in for this case, remember?

Rupert, over the phone: Yeah. Right... Okay, I’ll be there.

Ryder: Good. I’ll see you then.

Ryder hangs up and turns his head. He looks at an antique clock hanging on the wall, reading the current time which is 8:49. While the clock remains where it is, the arms fade into different positions, now reading 9:49, indicating a time jump. There’s a knock at the door. Ryder turns from the clock to look at the door.

Ryder: It’s open.

The door opens, revealing Rupert in the doorway.

Rupert: You should consider locking it in the future.

Ryder: So I’ve heard.

Rupert, entering the office: Well, I came as soon I could. You said something about solving the case earlier?

Ryder: That’s right. Take a seat.

Rupert unreluctantly takes a seat before Ryder’s desk. Ryder, himself, appears to sit comfortably in his own chair but the slight pressure on his face indicates there’s something else that is discomforting him.

Rupert: So, what happened to Mia? Is she alright?

Ryder: I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know Mia’s exact location but I have a feeling I know what happened to her.

Rupert: Well, don’t let me stop you.

Ryder clears his throat, sitting more appropriately.

Ryder: Last week, Mia Hawkins had a visit from a person from the theatre, discussing a new scene for your play. Does this sound right to you?

Rupert: I haven’t heard of any script changes.

Ryder: That makes sense. She didn’t seem fond of the idea either. But I think it less about how distasteful it might have been or more so of what the scene was about.

Rupert: I don’t think I understand.

Ryder: Allow me to explain. I’m guessing several years back, when the theatre group first formed, you had a different selection of individuals present.

Rupert: Well, yes.

Ryder: I was told there was a person there who caused a lot of drama behind the scenes.

Rupert: Yes, I didn’t know him quite well but he was very talented in his work. But he was a very troubled individual and had no place in our group anymore. The next few years felt better, that was of course before the- well…

Ryder: The incident, yes. And after?

Rupert: Well, we took some time apart and came back together five years later to form a new theatre group with new staff and all the works at the Dramatose Theatre. But what does he have to do with the case? He hasn’t been seen since then.

Ryder: Oh, he does. I just wanted to put it out there first. I guess we should move onto the more concrete clues.

Rupert: Yes, I’d appreciate that.

Ryder: Yeah, I thought that the mysterious figure that had a conversation with Mia before the night of her disappearance was the mysterious man from years ago but, it’s like you said, it couldn’t have been him. But the topic of the conversation still had some relevance, Mr. Sawyer. The topic was about changes to the play. Y’know, I took the time to actually read what the play was about. According to the synopsis, it’s about a tale for the upcoming holidays. But the actual dialogue seems more sinister, don’t you think?

Rupert: I suppose that’s based on one’s own perspective, Ryder. After all, we can’t all have perfect Christmases.

Ryder: No, but it involves plenty of fights and violence for such a joyous occasion. In fact, I found it pretty difficult to see that was even a play about the holidays. And I’m the private investigator here.

Rupert: What’s your point?

Ryder: My point is, I think you were the one who held the conversation with Mia. You wanted to change the topic of the play to something more aggressive based on experiences that you had yourself but she refused. The play is meant to celebrate good times, of course. But you didn’t want any of that. So she left in a hurry, no one saw her leave, she most likely wanted to get away from you, after knowing what you were. But you anticipated this and caught her outside. And there’s something else too. The characters in the play. You portray them so easily that I hide it difficult that Mia taught you acting at all. No, it’s something else. Something beyond acting. I think you genuinely believe that you are the characters once you’re on stage. The characters, of course, are based on none other than the other victims that you had familiarized yourself with including Roseanne Tipton. With a twisted version of yourself playing as the protagonist. That’s what helped notice. The name of the protagonist, Dublin Joost. It was the same name you used when you called me earlier. But it’s also an anagram of your real name. Not only did you use that trick on me to get me to show up to the theatre but you no doubt used your characters as tools to get what you needed from others.

Rupert: (scoffs) I can’t believe a word of this. I mean, this doesn’t make any sense at all!

Ryder: Oh yeah? Like what?

Rupert: Well, well, just the whole thing in general. Like, why would I kidnap Mia? Over a script? I’m not that petty, Ryder. A-and another thing! About what you said about the anagram name. I checked in my head every possible arrangement- don’t ask- and it doesn’t even spell out my name, at all!

Ryder: That’s because I wasn’t referring to your name, Rupert. I was referring to yours; Justin Blood.

Rupert’s confused and offended look then switches, almost seamlessly, to a grim and sinister smirk. His posture also changes to a more leaned forward one, more relaxed as if all the tension and stress had just vanished.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: I was wondering when you were going to figure it out.

Ryder: So it looks like you also took some of the serum.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: What can I say? I wasn’t ever one to stand out of the crowd. I would always be the one to just get deep in there and tear open the first person to bump into me.

Ryder: Well, now I know it’s not just a coincidence. You and the Cabal are up to something, for sure.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: So you want to go straight to the Cabal, eh? Y’know, I’m a pretty messed up fellow and I am sitting in front of you.

Ryder: I won’t play your games, Blood.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: Eh, fair enough. You’ll just get in the way anyways, just like your parents did.

Ryder: ...What did you just say?

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: Hm? Oh yes, your parents. Poor things. It was over for them so soon… I mean I should know, we did kill them after all. (laughs)

Ryder rises quickly from his chair, bearing his teeth. His pupils have gotten smaller and more fierce. However, Justin also gets up from his chair, matches Ryder’s quick speed.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert, looking straight into his eyes: Yes… Yes! Come on then, tear me to pieces! DO IT! Ryder looks at him, holding back a powerful rage but then closes his eyes and calms down. He places his readied fists onto the desk and lets out of a breath from his mouth. When he opens his eyes, they are now normal.

Ryder: No. Not yet. You’re controlling an innocent person, trying to get me to hurt him for you.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: He’s not innocent, Ryder. Nobody I killed was ever innocent.

Ryder: (sniffs) Even my parents?

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: Especially your parents.

Ryder glares at him and sniffs again.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: Alright, alright. How about we all calm down and just talk?

Ryder: We are talking.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: I meant really talk. Everytime we see each other it’s like kill me, kill you, slash, slash, taunt, taunt. It’s tiring. The others are just as bad. Well, not really, you scare the [crap] out of them. Me? Eh, I like dangerous company. (laughs)

Ryder: What the hell do you think this is? A special get-together? Some kind of intervention? You know why I want to kill you? You know why I want to kill all of you? It’s because you took something away from me, you took my parents away from me! Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: Face it, kid, I took away tons of parents. I believe Roseanne was a mother, if I recall correctly. Let me tell ya, memorizing lines isn’t as easy as they make it seem.

Ryder: Alright, well, I can’t hurt you so fine, let’s talk.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: Thank you. (sigh)

He takes a seat.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: You have no idea how hard it’s been lately.

Ryder: I can take a few guesses.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: Yeah, well, your guesses suck. Guesses are for weak minded fools who can’t fathom the workings of a genius like myself. That’s why I like you, Ryder. You’re not just some idiotic creature seeking vengeance. You’re a private [freaking] investigator, man. You solve crimes, and take cases and kick [a] on a daily basis.

Ryder: Alright, I hate you, but that wasn’t a bad line.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: You can have it.

Ryder: I don’t need your permi-

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: Anywho, like I was saying before you interrupted me, you’re pretty smart. You always solved my riddles. But man, sometimes you can be a real blunder. You let words intimidate you but the only actions that phase your heart are ones that stop one from ever beating again.

Ryder: Cut. That. Acting. [Crap]. Out. Now.

Justin looks at him through Rupert’s eyes and takes a breath as he continues on his tiny monologue.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: You can’t deny talent. I was always destined for more than just acting. I picked up mercenary work because it called to me. Well, someone called me to kill someone but doing so, just felt just as poetic as performing. To put one’s soul into taking another’s. You fail to see it, Ryder, but killing is an act and you in your beasty form, are a master at it. The way the blood just flies from a person’s throat and splatters across the walls. Yes… I’ve been watching you from the shadows. And you’re the only ones too. Mia. Yes, the girl. She let me down, just like you did. The only difference is you made it up to me by solving this case.

Ryder: I haven’t solved it just yet. I still need to actually find the missing actress.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: Well, I’ll help you with that there. She’s in the East River. (smiles)

Ryder: She’s…

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: What? Dead? Oh yes! Yes, she is… Usually drowning isn’t my thing. I prefer to slice and stab. A knife is like a paintbrush, the best tool to get the most blood out from a person. Unless you use a chainsaw… I always keep forgetting to use one of those.

Ryder’s surprised look in the eyes passes by quickly and reverts back to a normal glare.

Ryder: Well, you bested me.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: Yes, yes I have. About time you noticed but then again, this seems unlike you, you- you’re an interesting creature. A man troubled by the past, having troubles in the present. Conflicted by his inner demons but seeks out the demons that walk the Earth around him. I can describe you a thousand ways but one to admit defeat is not something that comes to mind.

Ryder: Well, I obviously haven’t anticipated you gaining the ability to control people.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: I see. You want to know more about the serum. This leads back to the Cabal thing again. Look, I’m here, trying to share a moment with you, you ungrateful son of a [b-word]! You have no idea what I’ve gone through to get to this point. To start off with just suggestive thoughts to actually controlling minds. I’m still getting used to my powers.

Ryder: Yeah, right. I’m tired of being taken for an idiot. I know you’ve mastered it, just like you’ve mastered acting. In fact, I’d say there on the same levels.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: Uh- wrong! You have no idea how wrong you are, child. My acting abilities are beyond anything you’ve ever seen. I’d put Shakespeare to shame. My intellect is beyond anything you can possibly comprehend. And I’ve already put you to shame. You couldn’t even kill me before and you definitely won’t be able to now. Those are the skills that are the ones that should be admired. Controlling minds, pft, as if. This just a hobby compared to those. I can’t even control people too well. It feels like a radio sometimes. But soon, I shall become a master, like you said, over this skill. But by then, controlling minds would be the least of your worries.

Justin looks at Ryder who can be seen searching the room.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: A-Are you even paying attention to me? You might be able to hurt me but I can surely kill you in this form or any other!

Ryder then pulls out a knife from his filing cabinet. He turns and faces Rupert with it, showcasing it actually.

Ryder: Remember this?

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: ...That’s my knife. From-

Ryder: From the Roseanne murder, yes. I knew the prints were useless and it was most likely custom made so tracing it back wouldn’t work but you do leave behind quite a scent when you kill people.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: What good is having my scent? I could be miles away from here and even by then, I’ll know you’ll be after me and get escape before you can even reach my location. I’ll always be one step ahead of you!

Ryder: Except you just said your connection to the person you’re controlling was like a radio. I’m assuming that means it’s range. Now a regular radio uses radio waves to broadcast to over receivers but you’re clearly not at that level yet. Your powers haven’t elevated to the point where you can control multiple persons, otherwise you would have boasted about it by now. No, I think you were referring to yourself as a radio communication system. With you being the transmitter and Rupert being the reciever. But radio communication systems require a close range, otherwise it starts to pick up on other frequencies, which means- I won’t need a scent to find you. (scoff) Looks like you’re the only one who keeps track of their enemies.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: You think you’ve bested me? I still have more tricks up my sleeve.

Ryder: I doubt it.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: It doesn’t matter what you believe. The fact still stands, you can’t hurt me in this form and I can still stop you from ever finding me.

Ryder: Doesn’t count as hurting if you don’t feel it.

Justin Blood, controlling Rupert: What are you-

Before he can finish, Ryder simply punches him in the face, knocking him unconscious. Rupert drops to the floor and leans against the back of Ryder’s desk.

Ryder: How’s that for acting, a-hole?

A short moment after, Ryder looks up at the ceiling as he hears a rumble upstairs.

Ryder: Got you now, you psycho! Ryder dashes out of the office and darts for the stairs, heading to the roof. On the roof of the building, a man wearing a dark blazer with grey pants and brown shoes can be seen running ahead. The door on the roof’s bulkhead then swings open with a crash, as Ryder slams his shoulder into it, practically throwing himself out of the doorway. He turns behind him, seeing nothing, then turns the other way, now seeing the man running across the rooftop. Ryder dashes towards his direction, flicking the knife he had held out of his jacket pocket. He then tosses it forwards with such precision that it stabs right into the man’s calf, causing him to drop down and hold his leg, yelling out in pain. The man turns and looks up at the approaching Ryder. He’s a skinny man with short, black hair and brown eyes. He’s also wearing a green buttoned shirt under his dark blazer and glasses.

Ryder: It’s over, Blood.

Justin Blood, holding his leg: You’ve think you’ve won. Oh ho, ho, no. No, my dear Ryder. The act has only just begun!

Blood’s eyes flash red and so does Ryder’s. He soon drops to his knees, holding his head, yelling out in pain.

Justin Blood: Welcome… to the final act. The protagonist finally faces the villain who tormented him from time to time, never truly appreciating his genius. The villain thought he was so great but little did he know of the protagonist’s true power hidden within. A power he has learned to master over their time apart. And now, using this power, the protagonist finally gets to defeat the villain, his blood running across the rooftop and his terror finally ending with him.

Ryder continues to hold his head, yelling out with agonizing pain. Blood removes the knife from his calf and raises it to his face, seeing the blood drip from it. He rubs the blood all over his face and gives a big wild-eyed smile. He grips the knife steadily and walks slowly towards Ryder, limping there actually.

Justin Blood: Your thoughts, all that pain you try forgetting, I can see it, Ryder. I can see all of it, and I can channel that into massive strikes against that simple brain of yours. My, oh, my. All that baggage at my disposal. It’s so much, it’ll destroy you before I even get the chance to. And now the curtain calls for both our souls to perform once again. Best we follow the script for this final chapter.

Blood stops before Ryder and raises the knife up high, it’s motions becoming slowed down. Ryder’s heart can be heard beating and several memories and thoughts flash before him. A woman laying across a crushed end table, presumingly Roseanne, a woman drowning in water, presumingly Mia, Kelly with a sliced open throat and Justin Blood standing behind her as her corpse drops down. Ryder can then be seen in this room, the blood pouring onto his hands which rest on the floor. He looks down at them, his eyes widen and watery. Blood’s words come back to him, in a taunting manner, echoing throughout the dark room, soon becoming a void.

Justin Blood, voice only: Your thoughts… all that pain… it’ll destroy you before I even get the chance to! Your thoughts, that pain, it’ll destroy you! Thoughts, Pain, Destroy! Thoughts, Pain, Destroy! THOUGHTS, PAIN, DESTROY!

Ryder, thinking: You’re right… I can’t stop you if you use my thoughts against me. But it’s like you said… there’s the also the mindless side to me.

Justin Blood then looks surprised. He then pulls out two knives from his side pocket and dashes towards Ryder.

Justin Blood: NO!

But before Blood can reach him, Ryder explodes into a ball of light, which throws Blood back into a wall. The room has reformed around them. Blood looks forwards as the light dissipates and only the wolf-like creature remains. It growls and then launches forwards.

Justin Blood: No, no, NOOO-!

Blood is cut off as the creature reaches him, throwing the scene into darkness. The view then zooms out from the pupil of Justin Blood, who still stands over Ryder, except instead of it being Ryder, it’s actually the wolf-like creature, who opens its eyes and stands on to its hind legs, towering over Blood, who drops the knife, terrified.

Justin Blood: No, no... This wasn’t supposed to happen! You’re supposed to fear me! This is my scene... not yours. My scene, you hear? MY SCENE!

The wolf-like creature listens no further and slices Blood across his torso in a vertical strike. Blood pours from the slashes, staining his green shirt. He then drops down to his knees and falls back, laying on the rooftop in his own pool of blood. In the reflection of his blood, the wolf-like creature watches with its glaring white eyes before turning away and stalking off. The scene then fades to the office. The sunlight beaming through the windows indicates that this is the next day. Ryder leans close to the window, drinking from his own white mug.

 
Ryder Investigations
December 21, 8:42 EDT

Kelly then barges in, as if she arrived in a hurry. Ryder calmly turns his head to the door, sipping from his mug.

Kelly: Ryder! Ryder: Hey, morning.

Kelly’s breathing is heavy but she manages to look confused and exhausted at the same time.

Kelly: Hey… uh- I heard what happened, are you alright?

Ryder: Yeah, fine. This kinda stuff happens more than you think.

Kelly: That a man hires you to solve a case, planned out an elaborate plan to have some other guy kill you in your own office?

Ryder: Yeah, sounds about right.

Kelly: Look, I don’t know if you’re kidding or not but we need to take this seriously.

Ryder: I know. Rupert is… innocent. He has a condition, heck he might even be a Mutant for all I know. He has some sort of ability to focus on becoming a completely different person. Of course, being an actor helps hide that but it also makes him vulnerable to other Mutants with the power to take advantage of him. For him to become them.

Kelly: What are you saying that someone took over his mind?

Ryder: Yeah, something like that. Wait, no, exactly like that. Nice one, Jess.

Kelly: So, I’m guessing the guy upstairs is…

Ryder: The transmitter, yeah. I mean, I figured as much.

Kelly: They’re saying he was sliced, or slashed, or something. This is starting to sound like a pattern. We solve a case and this creature shows up, claiming their lives.

Ryder: Maybe he’s just another Vigilante, or maybe he’s a good Mutant Mutant.

Kelly: I don’t know. You’re the PI, don’t you have any theories?

Ryder: Aside from those?

Kelly: Eh, nevermind. As long you’re alright, that’s- that’s important.

Ryder: Rupert still needs some protection from the inside. Sure, he has to go the jail but he doesn’t deserve anything worse. It’s not easy, coming to terms with doing something that someone else- something else wants you to do.

Kelly: I know a lawyer. I know she’ll do her best to get him a fair trial in court.

Ryder nods.

Ryder: Well, at least, I was right about the traps.

Kelly gives out a soft chuckle and crosses her arms. Ryder smiles to her own smile but turns away, looking out of the window where the city can be seen. Elsewhere, in a dark room, the leader of the Cabal emerges from the darkness and approaches the rest of the members.

Leader of the Cabal: Another one of us has fallen. Justin Blood is no longer with us.

A woman seated in a backwards chair leans forwards against the support with a sly smile.

Woman: Finally, that cocky [bas-word] was a serious pain in the [a].

Another woman, wearing a grey outfit, sits next to her in her own chair, with her arms crossed.

Other Woman: We should be concerned, not gleeful. Whoever it is is killing us off one-by-one.

Leader of the Cabal: It matters not. Because, thanks to the ingenious thinking of our late comrade, we now know who is behind the compromising of our plans, who is the killer of our teammates and the one set to stop us from achieving what we came to this pathetic city for.

He reveals a clicker and activates it. Apparently, the button caused a projector to become online and start projecting footage onto a screen behind the man in charge. The footage is from Justin Blood’s perspective just as he falls from his fatal attack.

Other Woman: Wh-What is this?

Leader of the Cabal: (smirks) A concealed surveillance system that he and our other resident engineer had invented. I had my suspicions of who was behind all these attacks and now…

The Mutant wolf-like creature appears on the footage which pauses soon afterwards.

Leader of the Cabal: Now, I have my confirmation.

Woman: That’s-... him.

Other Woman: Him, huh? The beast… yeah, I’ve heard the stories.

Leader of the Cabal: And all of them are true.

Woman: So what are we going to do?

Leader of the Cabal: Not to worry, your pretty little head. I’m always prepared. (smiles)

Credits

After the credits, Ryder sits in his office, holding the knife of Justin Blood in his hand. He then gets up from his chair and returns to the filing cabinet where he had found it. He opens it and places the knife in there, among the other objects of interest within; an arrow, a lighter with flames on it, a revolver and a unique-looking wrench. He closes the cabinet and takes a breath. A moment later, the desk phone rings. Ryder makes his way over to it and picks it up.

Ryder, putting the phone close to his ear: Ryder Investigations, how can I-

Voice, over the phone: Ryder! Oh gosh, finally! It’s me, man.

Ryder, holding the phone closer: Travis?!

Travis, over the phone: Look, I don’t have much time. They’ve found me! I don’t know how but they found me! You have to get here before they take what I have!

Ryder: Get where? What’s going on?

There are voices shouting over the phone in the distance as well as gunfire.

Ryder: Travis? Travis!

Travis, over the phone: I can’t hold them off for too long, man! Just get here. Get to Raider City! Get to Raider C-

The line disconnects, a dial tone is heard continuously as Ryder holds the phone away from him. He then looks ahead of himself as if he has no idea what to do anymore.

Noteworthy Events

Major Events

  • Ryder kills the third member of The Cabal

Minor Events

  • Kelly gets David’s phone number
  • Ryder gets a call from Travis

Characters

  • Ryder
  • Jessica Kelly
  • Dramatos Theatre Group (First Appearance)
    • Rupert Sawyer (First Appearance)
    • Allison (First Appearance)
    • Understudy (First Appearance)
    • Stunt Team Actor/Brad (First Appearance)
    • Trevor (First Appearance)
    • Lazlo (First Appearance)
    • Juliet (First Appearance)
  • David Allen
  • NYPD
  • Citizens

Villains

  • The Cabal
    • Justin Blood/Dublin Joost (Deceased)
    • Leader of the Cabal

Allusions

  • The missing actress, Mia Hawkins, is a reference to Oscar winning actresses (in a sense). Mia is deprived from Emma Stone’s character in La La Land, which she won Best Actress for in the 2017 Oscars, and Hawkins is deprived from Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water, which had won Best Picture in the 2018 Oscars.
    • This reference seemed fitting to add to the episode considering the theme of the episode centered around theatre and that the episode has been/or was meant to be posted around the time of International Women’s Day.
  • Ryder jokingly mentions having hot earl grey tea rather than coffee in one scene. This is a reference to Star Trek: The Next Generation with Captain Picard’s “Tea. Earl grey. Hot.” phrase.
  • When David Allen sits with Kelly for his questioning, he responds with, “Who talks first? You talk first? I talk first?” This is a reference to what Poe Dameron said in _Force_Awakens Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
  • Travis’ phone call had the line, “They found me! I don’t know how but they found me!” This is a reference to the Doc’s line when the Libyans find him in Back to the Future.

Trivia

  • This episode was initially meant to center around dissociative identity discord, or multiple personality disorder, and the lead actor’s Mutant ability which was associated with that. However, the idea began to lean more towards his disorder and less on his abilities. This was changed for the final version of the episode to avoid getting too far into an issue that the writers didn’t fully comprehend enough to make an entire episode about. Instead of being a Mutant with DID, the lead actor gained the ability to essentially control different aspects of himself, that he portrays into his characters, and personifies them into their own people; allowing them to control his body although, as seen in the episode, he does not understand his powers enough to completely control his dissociated parts.
  • This is the first episode to not have Raggy included.
  • This episode was originally written by both writers but, due to delays and time constraints, Brandon took over as the main writer for the episode.
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