1.4: Pinpoint

VALENCE
SEASON 1, EPISODE 4
“PINPOINT
RELEASE DATE: 02/22/2020

Liam and Nico hunt down a lead and find something unexpected. The day gets worse from there.

VALENCE is a serialized fiction podcast meant for adult listeners. You can find more information, including our full cast list and transcripts, at VALENCEpod.com. You can support us on Patreon and get access to inspo images, bonus audio, and more.

Content warnings:
– Depictions of in-universe oppressive speech from 17:10 – 20:40 
– Depictions of a panic attack and intrusive thoughts from 17:30 – 20:40 
– Discussions of suicidal ideation from 20:40 – 25:10 
– References to childhood abuse and struggles with mental health from 25:10 until the end of the episode

Credits:
– Our theme was made by Raul Vega,
– With guitar by Travis Reaves.
– This episode was written by Wil Williams and Katie Youmans,
– With editing and sound design by Julia Schifini.

Performances by, in order of appearance:

Special thanks to:
– Casey Trujillo
– Jordan Eagan
– Lindsay Holt
– Rachel Rauch
– Richard Kreutz-Landry
– Shelley Wermuth
– V Silverman


TRANSCRIPT

WIL: Hi. Usually, this would be the time when I tell you that VALENCE is meant for adults, and that it is a serialized fiction show, and . . . all of that is true, but this week especially. This episode especially,  I encourage you to look at our content warnings — especially if you struggle with mental health or suicidal ideation. Our content warnings in our show notes contain timestamps of when you should be aware of certain things in this episode. I’m not gonna lie — it’s a rough one. If you want to hear more about how or why we wrote this episode, and the ways we did, we’ll be talking about it on the upcoming episode of Scoring Magic, which is our behind-the-scenes documentary of the making of VALENCE. Read the content warnings. Take care of yourself. It’s important to stay safe here, in New Candler.

[[theme music]]

 SCENE ONE

T.E.A. CONFERENCE ROOM – MORNING

LIAM sits in the T.E.A. conference room, sitting back in his chair with an air of frustration. The team has been meeting for about five minutes, and LIAM has already told SARAH and MAHIRA about his encounter with NICO. It is not going according to his plans.

LIAM: You’d like me to what?

SARAH: There’s information they don’t have on the main network, which means I need a hard connection. I can’t get information from a server farm if I don’t even know where it is.

MAHIRA: And it sounds like this kid is only going to talk to you.

LIAM: Ugh, you can’t be serious.

MAHIRA: I can and I am. We’ll be tailing you the whole time, and you’ll be bugged. If he tries anything, we’ll come help.

LIAM: I’m not worried about being hurt. I’m worried about being annoyed.

SARAH: Oh my god.

MAHIRA: Seconding that. This is how you can contribute, so deal.

LIAM: (Sighs) Fine. Fine. 

LIAM gets out his phone and texts NICO.

LIAM: There. We’ll see if he even responds to whatever I s–

LIAM is interrupted by his phone buzzing. MAHIRA chuckles. LIAM reluctantly checks the response.

LIAM: (Groans) He says, “Yeah whatever Vamps might be fun to hit the ol bullshit stompin grounds maybe slap someone around or blow the whole place up or whatevs”

SARAH: Don’t blow the whole place up.

LIAM responds, and then quickly gets a text back.

LIAM: He called me boring for vetoing explosions.

MAHIRA: Well, he’s not wrong, but he’s also not right.

LIAM gets another response.

LIAM: He says he’s available tonight.

MAHIRA: Well, let’s get you set up with a wire, then.

MAHIRA pauses, checks her watch.

MAHIRA: We have a couple hours before that for me to give you a crash course in having a wire and not getting clocked. Come on, let’s go.

LIAM: . . . go where?

MAHIRA: The coffee downstairs is trash and you seem like someone with Coffee Opinions. Grab your coat.

SCENE TWO

INT. CAFE – EARLY AFTERNOON

LIAM and MAHIRA sit at a small table at FIRECREEK COFFEE. Some inviting, warm music plays in the background. LIAM is confused and suspicious about everything.

MAHIRA: Going by your…all of you, this place is not your usual style?

LIAM: Ah, no, not ah–not particularly.

MAHIRA: I love it here–there’s just a warmth to it. A welcoming vibe, yeah?

LIAM: (Disdainfully) Yes, exactly.

MAHIRA: (Laughs) Fair enough.

So, h-how are you doing? I know a lot’s changed in not a lot of time, so . . .

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: She wants something from you. Or she’s trying to prove that you shouldn’t have a job. She knows you’re useless.

LIAM: . . . Why?

MAHIRA: I wanted to make sure we’re not pushing you too hard too fast, y’know? Grace has good intentions . . . I think. But she’s not good at the people aspect of things.

LIAM: Ah. No, I am–this is fine. It is a lot. That is–that–that is true, yes. But it is fine. I hope to be of use.

MAHIRA: …usefulness wasn’t what I was worried about, Liam.  I . . . yeah, your knowledge and your — what you can do, that’s all really handy, definitely. But I don’t want you to think that’s all that matters about you.

LIAM: I don’t follow.

MAHIRA: Those are why we found you, yeah, but those aren’t why we want to keep you on the team. Your family, they . . . one second. 

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: What is she doing? What is she doing? She can’t just–

MAHIRA hides her hand under the table and makes a small, quick motion like a conductor signaling the orchestra to stop. There’s a faint crackle that fades quickly. The sounds of the coffeeshop grow slightly muffled/muted.

MAHIRA: There. Now they won’t hear us. Not clearly, at least.

LIAM: You just did that here just–you just–aren’t they going to–is–are you allowed to do that?

MAHIRA: (Thoughtful hmm-ing sound) Magic–it’s not a crime, Liam. There are people who want to have us forget that. Some people have families that are great, supportive, understanding. And that’s fantastic. But there’s some of us who don’t. So…yeah. That’s why I wanted to check in with you.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Oh.

She’s–she’s like me. She’s like me.

LIAM: Thank you for–um–for asking. I think I’m fine. In honesty, I don’t–I don’t really know how to answer that question.

MAHIRA: That’s a fair answer. And better than I was expecting, honestly, which is good. I wouldn’t have blamed you if all this–

MAHIRA gestures vaguely at everything.

MAHIRA: –had you feeling overwhelmed. But I’m glad you’re not, because. Because I figured you might want a hand in what we’re doing. So other kids down the line don’t have to deal with the shit we faced. That’s why we want you to stay on the team.

LIAM: Oh, no. No, I’m feeling very overwhelmed. But I am fine.

MAHIRA: Luis is pretty great to talk to about things like that, if you need.

LIAM makes a noncommittal noise and takes a sip of his cappuccino.

MAHIRA: Have you tried anything more from the book yet?

LIAM: Well, I can say that I am certainly much better at making light that won’t blind me now. Otherwise, I’ve just figured out how to use it to, ah, charge my phone.

MAHIRA: (Laughs) Liam! That’s fantastic – and it’s sounding like . . . maybe you’re becoming more comfortable with the idea of being an active muse?

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Yes, just become comfortable with being a monster. Wonderful.

LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: Don’t just act like a fucking weirdo because of your weird baggage. Don’t fuck up this conversation like you do every other conversation.

LIAM: Good, that’s . . . thank you . . . progress . . .

MAHIRA: It’s ok not to be there yet–these things take time. 

Mahira hmm’s thoughtfully and takes a drink of her latte.

MAHIRA: So, when you’re not squirming uncomfortably at praise, what do you do for fun?

LIAM: Not, um, not–not terribly much. I read. I watch documentaries. Sometimes my roommate cons me into watching other movies or TV shows.

MAHIRA: Oh, are you a David Attenborough kind of guy? Or more along the lines of those gritty exposé documentaries? Maybe the ones about little Italian grannies cooking centuries-old family recipes?

LIAM: (Laughs a little) More–ah-more like Cosmos? Nova? Science, mostly. Though–occasionally cooking grandmothers if I’m inebriated and exhausted, I will admit.

MAHIRA: Mmm, yeah, cooking grandmothers are a balm for the soul sometimes. As for space, all I know about that, I learned from an astrophysicist I dated once. She could ramble on about nebulas and binary stars and black holes all day if you let her.

LIAM: Cosmos can also be a balm for the soul. The . . . expanse of it all. The, ah–how everything follows rules and doesn’t.

MAHIRA: Are you familiar with Arthur C. Clarke? With his third law? “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Sometimes I wonder if that isn’t just a little bit wrong. If maybe there’s a lot more magic out there than we realize. If we don’t notice because it plays nice with science most of the time . . .

LIAM’S INNER VOICE and LIAM: Oh.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: That’s–

LIAM: Hm.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: That’s–true, maybe.

LIAM: Thank you.

SCENE THREE

WOODED AREA – DUSK

LIAM and NICO walk through a wooded area upstate. Neither of them are dressed appropriately for this.

LIAM: You’re sure this is the area?

NICO: I know my shit, Vamps. Stop your whining. I don’t wanna be out here either. Bugs and dirt and shit. You’re not the only city bitch here.

LIAM: Hmph.

A beat.

NICO: Not much of a talker, are you?

LIAM: I think you have that covered for us both.

NICO: (Laughs) He’s got jokes!

Aah, but seriously I’m gonna be bored as fuck if you keep being all quiet and I’m already bored that I’m helping someone. Ugh.

LIAM: This problem seems to be yours, not mine.

NICO: Oh, you think I won’t make it yours?

LIAM: Is that a threat?

NICO: Oh calm down. If I were gonna fuck you up, you’d already be fucked up.

NICO grabs a joint from his pocket, lights it up, and takes a hit, still walking. He offers it to LIAM.

LIAM: No, thank you.

NICO: Shame, Vamps, it’d probably do you some good!

NICO takes another hit.

NICO: Never mind, I decided I’m just as bored talking to you as I am with you shutting up.

LIAM: (Sighs) Lovely. Thank you.

NICO: You’re welcome.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: He’s right. You are boring. And unpleasant to talk to.

LIAM: The, ah–the tattoo on your forearm. A family crest?

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Oh my god what are you doing shut up you embarrassment

NICO: Ugh. Yeah, fucking tacky. We’ve all got one.

NICO takes another hit.

LIAM: You consider that tacky?

NICO: Uh, what? What’s that s’posed to mean?

LIAM: Just–given . . .

NICO: Wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Not everyone needs to look like a big ol’ depresso straightlaced sad sadface boring half-assed goth corvid-ass sadsack.

LIAM: We’re literally trying to be subtle and unseen in the woods. Forgive me for forgoing the neon.

NICO: Oh, and you think black blends into the fucking trees, Vamps?

LIAM: (Laughs) Alright, fair point.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Whaaaaaat are you doing?

NICO: But yeah it’s a fuckin family crest tattoo because fuckin dumbass tradition and whatever and it’s fucking stupid but whatever one day I’ll get it covered up by some cool shit like uhhhhhhh like–I’ve got better ones is the moral. And eventually I’m getting rid of this stupid shit.

LIAM: But until then, you’re unfortunately stuck with being, ah, “tacky.”

NICO: My fuckin Scarlet Letter or whatever, it’s true.

LIAM: Is that what The Scarlet Letter is about?

NICO: No that definitely is not–ayyy! Look, down that hill, that’s it!

LIAM takes a few steps closer to NICO.

LIAM: That? But it looks just–it looks so normal.

NICO: Well yeah, that’s kinda the point, dummy.

LIAM: Hm. True.

NICO: So what now?

LIAM: Now, I send a pin of this location to Sarah and Mahira–my–my coworkers.

LIAM takes out his phone and starts typing, but NICO puts his hand on the screen to stop LIAM.

NICO: Or. . .

LIAM: “Or”?

NICO takes another hit.

NICO: Or, we just, y’know . . . blow it up.

LIAM: You want to blow it up.

NICO: Well, yeah. Don’t you?

LIAM doesn’t respond.

NICO: C’mon. Now’s the time, right? With the two of us here, it’d be easy–trust me, I’ve blown up buildings bigger than this before by myself. With the two of us, though, we’d also have enough juice to poof away. C’mon. You know it’d be fun. And you know it’d make you feel at least a little better.

LIAM: We can’t. We have to get information off of the servers. Trust me, I’m tempted, but we can’t.

NICO: But wouldn’t it be fun if–

The door to the SERVER FARM opens and someone steps out.

LIAM: Shh!

LIAM and NICO quickly hide behind a tree.

LIAM: There’s someone down there.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Is that . . . ?

NOEL: (On the phone) No, everything looks good. Yes. Yes. I’ll be there in time for the taping tonight. Of course. See you soon. Bye.

NOEL hangs up her phone and magically teleports away.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Look at what you’ve done.

NICO: Good catch, Vamps, we could’ve gotten fuckin’ smote by–

LIAM: That was my sister.

NICO: Yikes.

LIAM: Yeah.

NICO licks his fingers, puts the joint out, and puts it back in his pocket.

NICO: Welp.

LIAM: Yeah.

LIAM starts tapping on his phone. He puts his phone back in his pocket.

LIAM: Let’s get out of here.

NICO: Yeah. Fuck this actually. Let’s take a shortcut.

NICO puts his hand on LIAM’s shoulder and teleports them back to LIAM’s apartment. FLYNN yells in fright and throws his PS4 controller across the room.

FLYNN: AHH! WHAT THE FUCK!

NICO: Hey Sunshine. Did you win MarioKart?

FLYNN: Jesus CHRIST you two scared the shit out of me! Oh nooooo, I lost my maaaaatch! God, thanks guys.

LIAM’s phone starts ringing in his pocket. He picks it up quickly.

LIAM: H–

MAHIRA: What happened? Where are you? Are you okay?

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: You absolute idiot. You forgot you were wired. They heard everything.

LIAM: Fine, yes, I’m fine. Back in my apartment.

MAHIRA: How?

LIAM: Ah, Sal–Nico brought us back.

MAHIRA: Just–just like that?

LIAM: Yes. But I’ll send you the pin of where it was.

MAHIRA: Did you say you saw your sister–

LIAM: We’ll talk later. Thank you for your concern and prompt response.

LIAM hangs up quickly.

LIAM: (To Nico) You can just do that? That easily? You’re–you’re not even winded.

NICO: You better believe it Vamps! I’m fucking great.

LIAM: Hm!

NICO: You need to get better about wearing a wire though. Can’t hide that shit from these kickass magic eyeballs.

LIAM: Hm.

FLYNN: Ok, weirdo, but . . . did you two find the servers? Or were you just sitting with your thumb up your ass?

NICO: Yeah, we did! Like I just said: I’m great.

LIAM: (To Flynn) I–ah–N–Noel was there.

FLYNN: Fuck. Are you okay?

LIAM: I’m going to get a glass of wine.

FLYNN: (Sighs) Yeah. Fair.

LIAM walks to the kitchen, and NICO follows. LIAM opens a cabinet; NICO leans against the wall.

NICO: So that uhhh “none belongings” things really extends to the kitchen, huh?

LIAM: We have belongings. We have . . . four glasses.

NICO: Open the fridge.

LIAM: N-no. No. No, you don’t have to do that.

NICO: Open the fridge, Vamps.

LIAM opens the fridge door. NICO laughs loudly. As LIAM gets down a bottle and glass for himself, NICO rummages around in the fridge.

NICO: This–this is–

(Laughs)

This is just–there’s nothing but like three energy drinks and a jar of–Vamps this jar has precisely–fucking PRE CISE LY–three-fourths of a dill pickle.

LIAM: Yes, well.

NICO: What! You can’t just “Yes well!” That’s nothing!

LIAM leads him back to the living room, and they both sit down. FLYNN looks at the two curiously, suspiciously, but doesn’t remark on NICO still being here as LIAM opens the bottle and pours himself a glass.

LIAM’s phone buzzes in his pocket. He gets it out and checks his notification.

LIAM: Oh, wonderful . . . Reilley is doing an interview tonight.

FLYNN: Are we going to watch again?

LIAM: We always do.

NICO: What a fucking depressing tradition.

LIAM uncorks the wine and starts pouring himself a glass.

LIAM: Some of us need to stay informed.

FLYNN: What’s it on this time?

LIAM: It seems Ms. Chen hasn’t been as careful as I would have liked. Probably as she would have liked. Suspicions about unethical testing practices.

NICO: Uh, not gonna offer me a glass even after I offered you some of my weed?

LIAM: I didn’t take any of your weed.

NICO: Who’s to say I would take any of your shitty sadboy wine?

LIAM: I have the distinct feeling you would.

NICO: Well, you’ve got me there.

LIAM: Absolutely not.

LIAM takes a sip. NICO leans forward and grabs the mic to the wire, which LIAM has already forgotten again, from LIAM’s shirt collar behind his neck. He yanks the wire out and stands up before LIAM can swipe it back. Holding the mic up to his face, NICO starts pacing the apartment in mock professionalism.

NICO: Hello, yes, The Government? Your boy here is being–and I think these are the official terms–a real rude bitch. Now, as you all know, I have contacts and information and I could be helpful as fuck, but, if he–

LIAM: Fine, fine.

NICO turns the wire off and pockets it.

NICO: Nah I’m good.

NICO flops back down onto the couch.

NICO: Well. Anyway. I’m gonna peace out and do literally anything other than watch a fucking megolomaniac tell the TV people how amazing she is because I’m not a fucking dumbass.

LIAM sighs and takes a drink.

FLYNN: Hey, seriously, thanks for getting Liam out of there.

LIAM: Yes. Thank you.

NICO: Ugh.

NICO leaves via the fire escape window in LIAM’s room as LIAM takes another drink.

SCENE FOUR

LIAM AND FLYNN’S APARTMENT – EARLY EVENING

A classy news-adjacent talk show theme, a la 60 Minutes or CBS This Morning, plays on the TV. LIAM takes another long sip of wine.

JOURNALIST: Hello, and welcome to Good Evening, New Candler! I’m joined tonight by Morgan Reilley, CEO of Reilley Industries, best known for its subsidiary, Halo Inc. Ms. Reilley, thank you for joining me tonight.

REILLEY: Dr. Reilley, actually.

JOURNALIST: Right–my apologies. Your honorary degree from MIT.

REILLEY: Thank you for having me.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Keep calm.

JOURNALIST: Dr. Reilley, we wanted to talk to you today about some allegations that Halo, Inc. is under investigation by a new government agency, the Thaumaturgical Energies Administration. We weren’t able to contact the agency, but can you confirm whether you’ve been contacted for investigation?

REILLEY: Thank you for asking us. No, we haven’t been investigated on our practices, other than standard checks by the Labor Department. 

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Why would she not incriminate if–

She doesn’t want the bad press. She cares more about bad press for her than bad press for us.

REILLEY: I’m not surprised by these rumors, though–Halo, Inc. has been more successful each quarter. We’re setting records. We’re a household name. We know that Halos are controversial. Rumors are going to start.

JOURNALIST: So you think the rumors were started by your competition?

REILLEY: I don’t think there are really any companies that can call themselves our competition at this point.

JOURNALIST: (Laughs) I guess that’s true. You have a monopoly on the market.

REILLEY: Not a monopoly. We’re just the first ones to take this step. I believe that competition encourages growth. I’m excited for others to get in on this market. That’s when we’ll really push ourselves to innovate even more.

JOURNALIST: And what about the rumors of Halos mining user data?

REILLEY: Unsubstantiated. There isn’t even a way a Halo could access customer data.

JOURNALIST: There have been some worries about a hidden microphone being turned on without the users’ knowledge.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: I’m sure she’d love to find a way, but no, that wouldn’t make sense with their design.

REILLEY: And there have been tests and demonstrations time and time again showing that the Halo is made up of solid pieces of metal surrounding a small chip with proprietary software and nothing else. There would be no way for audio to reach the chip, and there is no microphone mechanism.

JOURNALIST: But do you think those rumors were drummed up by competition?

REILLEY: Those, likely. The rumors about our methods and ongoing investigations–it’s harder to say. 

JOURNALIST: So if it wasn’t necessarily the competition, where do you think these rumors arose?

REILLEY: Like I said: we know Halos are controversial. Not everyone who needs help wants help.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: She’s right, you know.

LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: Don’t.

REILLEY: Some people think the Halos are dangerous. Some people think we’re trying to do harm instead of helping. 

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: The only reason you hate them is because you hate yourself, and you hate the idea of getting better. Because you know you deserve this.

REILLEY: What people don’t understand yet is how Halos don’t just benefit most people; they benefit magic users, too. They’re a way to keep your abilities in check, and you can always take them off.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Or maybe you hate them because you just want people to get hurt. Because you’re just that misanthropic. Just that sociopathic.

LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: Stop it.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: I’m right. This is the only thing you’re ever right about.

JOURNALIST: What can we expect for the future of Halo, Inc.? So far, you’ve released a new version of the Halo just about every two years, and that second year is just around the corner.

REILLEY: (Laughs) Well, there’s nothing I can quite confirm yet–

REILLEY and the JOURNALIST’s voices fade in and out. It is replaced by the swishing nothing of a mind emptied by panic, and LIAM’s breaths getting quicker.

FLYNN: (Very muffled, as though very distant or under water) You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. They’re just turning this into another cute little personality piece. They really just don’t give a shit.

REILLEY: –but there are always new developments on the horizon. We’ve only failed once we stop getting better, and I’ve never been one for failing.

JOURNALIST: Something that’s brought up in your biographies is how you dropped out of MIT. Do you consider that a failure?

REILLEY: Not at all.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: See? You know it’s a waste of time. Why are you always wasting your time?

REILLEY: Absolutely not. I think MIT is a great school, but I was always better at teaching myself than being taught. It wasn’t a failure. It was the best choice I ever made.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Aren’t you tired of always wasting your time?

REILLEY: Well, the best choice other than dedicating myself to this cause.

FLYNN: (Very muffled, as though very distant or under water) Liam?

LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: I’m so tired. I’m so tired of being like this.

REILLEY: The best choice I’ve ever made is helping the people who need it most.

Everything goes quiet and still.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: That’s all. That’s all.

A beat.

FLYNN: (Very muffled, as though very distant or under water) Liam?

A beat.

FLYNN puts his hand on LIAM’s shoulder. LIAM gasps and jumps.

FLYNN: Liam?

LIAM does not reply.

FLYNN: Can you answer me?

. . . No?

Okay. It’s just us here. You can talk to me.

. . . Still no?

Is it–was it too–

LIAM: I can’t keep doing this.

FLYNN inhales sharply. LIAM starts tearing up.

LIAM: I am so desperately sick of existing. I want so much to not exist.

FLYNN: Okay. That’s–yeah. That’s what I was worried about. C’mere.

LIAM: Mm–no. Not right now.

FLYNN: Okay.

LIAM: It would be fine.

LIAM starts crying.

FLYNN: It wouldn’t.

LIAM: You’d be fine.

FLYNN: You know I wouldn’t be. We’ve been over this. Remember?

LIAM: I don’t–I can’t–I’m so tired.

FLYNN: I know, Liam. I know.

A beat. FLYNN and LIAM look at each other.

FLYNN: You’re my best friend in the world. You’re important to me. I love you. And I’d be devastated without you. I’d miss you all the time. I’d never be able to fix that missing part of me.

LIAM: I hate–I hate that I’ve done that to you.

FLYNN: What you’ve done to me is be there for me when I needed you. What you’ve done is just, like, be my friend.

LIAM: I shouldn’t have, then.

FLYNN: You should have. You’ve gotten me through times like these before too. That’s why we’ve got each other. You’ve been there for me too, remember? Now it’s my turn to be there for you.

LIAM: It’s not equitable. I use so much.

FLYNN: Can I hug you now?

LIAM sighs, half in resignation and half in relief.

LIAM: Yes.

FLYNN moves over to hug LIAM on the couch.

FLYNN: I’m sorry it’s like this. I’m sorry they did this to you.

LIAM: You’re not going to let me finish the wine, are you?

FLYNN: Nope.

LIAM: Please?

FLYNN: No.

But I can make you some of that hot chocolate. And we can watch one of your documentaries. And I can just stay here and hang out. And we don’t have to talk.

LIAM: Okay.

FLYNN: If you promise me something. . . . Can you talk to the person at your work? The therapist? I know–I know it freaks you out. I know. But I just–I’m not a professional.

LIAM: I’m sorry for treating you like one. That’s not fair of me. I–

FLYNN: That’s not what I meant. I mean it’s not fair to you. You deserve help from someone who knows what they’re doing. Will you promise me?

. . . Liam?

LIAM: Y-yes. I promise you. I will–I will try. I will do it.

FLYNN hugs LIAM tighter.

FLYNN: Thank you.

FLYNN gets up and picks up the wine bottle and glass. He goes into the kitchen, puts the bottle and glass down, and starts rummaging through the cabinets for hot chocolate. LIAM gets his phone out, puts his earbuds in, and starts listening to a classical piano piece. The scene fades out.

SCENE FIVE

LUIS’S OFFICE – MIDDAY

LIAM sits across from LUIS at LUIS’s desk.

LUIS: I’m really glad you decided to see me, Liam. What motivated you to come in?

LIAM: I–ah–I promised a friend. That I would.

LUIS: What motivated the friend to ask you to come in?

LIAM: I . . . can–can we not begin there?

LUIS: Of course. Why don’t we start by talking about this friend? What’s their name?

LIAM: Flynn. He.

LUIS: How did you meet?

LIAM: Can we not start there?

LUIS: We’re going to have to start somewhere.

LIAM: I–ah. Hm. It . . . we–we met when I was, ah, when I. When I left.

LUIS: Left where?

LIAM: My–well–many things. Technically Morgan Reilley’s office. But, ah, sym-symbolically, um, my family.

LUIS: Why were you in her office?

LIAM: She was trying to recruit me. To–to work for her. They’d just, um, they’d just started testing on the Halos and they wanted me for–for something.

LUIS: Do you know what?

LIAM: Ha–no, I–no, that would be. That would be terribly useful now, I’m sure, but–but no. I just–I panicked. And I laughed, and I told her no, and then I felt something–I–I was afraid. I knew they wouldn’t let me leave. I don’t know what that means but I just–I knew they wouldn’t let me leave. Even more than before.

LUIS: More than before?

LIAM: Before. When–when I was . . .

LIAM sighs.

LIAM: I spent almost all of my youth in a room. Stuck in a room. Ah, when my parents learned what I could do, they–they stuck me in a room. 

They were afraid of me. Or ashamed. Or both.

LUIS: How long were you in the room?

LIAM doesn’t respond.

LUIS: Okay. Let’s go back to being in Morgan Reilley’s office. You felt scared, and then you left?

LIAM: I–yes. I just–I panicked. And I felt myself move. Shift. And then I was in the city.

LUIS: It seems like that was a good decision. I’m glad you made it out.

A beat.

LIAM: Aren’t you going to ask why I didn’t leave my family the same way earlier?

LUIS: No, Liam. I know how scary that must have seemed while you were there. It can be extremely difficult to leave situations like that. I don’t blame you at all.

LIAM: Oh.

LUIS: I know you did everything you could. It isn’t your fault that you didn’t escape it until it you absolutely had to.

I think we’ve got a lot to talk about. And I know this is going to be hard, but I want you to know that I am on your side. I want you to be able to trust me to be on your side. Okay?

LIAM: What if I don’t think you should be?

LUIS: Then you’ll have to trust that I know that I should be.

Okay?

LIAM: O-okay.

END OF EPISODE 4

[[end theme]]


WIL: VALENCE is a Hug House production. You can find more of our work at Hug House dot Productions.

You can find our full cast list, and information on how to support this indie audio drama, on valencepod dot com.

Until next time: protect your magic.

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