Episode 1: “For Hire”

PAGE 1

Panel 1 (Horizontal Expansion)

A middle-aged woman steps out of a taxi. Her clothes suggest she’s fairly well-off, but she bears a troubled look on her face.

CAPTION (BLUE)

You’re really serious about this.

CAPTION (YELLOW)

What have I got to lose?

Panel 2 (H.E.)

The woman walks through the doors of a shabby building. It’s apparent that the owner doesn’t pay much for its maintenance – if at all – but keeps it around because the rent from the crummy offices that run their businesses there are sending his kids to college.

CAPTION (BLUE)

I don’t know. How much are you willing to pay for a bunch of hogwash?

Panel 3 (H.E.)

She walks through a darkened corridor. Paint the color of chopped chives is peeling off of the walls. No one else is around.

CAPTION (YELLOW)

I… I’ve just been so… Since he left. It pains me to sit at that breakfast table every morning and… I realize there’s no one there to talk to anymore.

CAPTION (YELLOW)

I want to move on, I do. I can’t keep going on like this. It’s not healthy. But at the same time…

CAPTION (YELLOW)

But at the same time, there’s still so much I hadn’t gotten to say.

Panel 4 (H.E.)

The woman stands alone in a slightly-claustrophobic elevator.

Panel 5

She arrives at a door. The words “D. Newman” are stenciled onto its glass pane, just above “Ps chic for hire”.

CAPTION (BLUE)

Well, you go do what you think you need to, Prudence. Just don’t keep wasting your time and money on these two-bit charlatans.

PAGE 2

Panel 1

Newman’s office is surprisingly bare for someone in his business. Other than a shelf of curiosities from multiple cultures and a half-filled coffeemaker, there isn’t anything remarkable within. His desk is placed in front of the window, with a stack of cardboard boxes next to it bearing various labels for files. There’s nothing on the desk except for an empty ashtray and a pen. The walls are painted a stark white, giving a nearly clinical feel to the room. The view is from the desk. Newman is nowhere in sight, and Prudence’s silhouette is on the door’s glass pane. She knocks.

SFX

tok! tok!

Panel 2

Back in the hallway, Prudence slightly opens Newman’s door. Her eyes seem fixated on the floor. There’s a look of slight hesitation on her face as Bob’s words echo in her mind, but it’s far too late to turn back now.

PRUDENCE

…Mr. Newman?

Panel 3

The door opens wider. Prudence is greeted by a tired-looking fifty-something with salt-and-pepper hair crowning a handsome, amiable face; she imagines that’s exactly what Prince Charming would have looked like after retirement. Thankfully, a roguish air about him helps make him appear younger. He’s clearly out of shape; his slight beer belly is undeniable evidence of that. His hair is unkempt enough to hide a receding hairline. He appears to have just left an important meeting and was just getting comfortable – an undone tie hangs around the unbuttoned collar of a white polo, and his sleeves have been hastily rolled up. He greets her with a smile.

NEWMAN

Come in, come in. What can I do for you?

Panel 4

Newman leads Prudence inside. She looks around the office as she begins to explain why she’s come to see him. Newman “listens actively” by absently-mindedly interjecting.

PRUDENCE

My husband Carl (bless him) …passed away a couple of years ago-

NEWMAN

Tragic.

PRUDENCE

He went missing for two weeks. The police finally found his bones in the woods.

NEWMAN

That’s terrible.

PRUDENCE

And I’ve been so lonely without him.

NEWMAN

Of course.

Panel 5 (Linked to Panel 4)

They make their way towards the desk, passing by the curiosity shelf. Prudence stares at the objects, still following Newman.

PRUDENCE

I mean, I’ve found someone new-

NEWMAN

Good for you!

PRUDENCE

His name is Bob, and he’s a lovely man-

NEWMAN

Aren’t they all.

PRUDENCE

But I still can’t seem to give up the memory of my Carl.

NEWMAN

Awww.

Panel 6 (Linked to Panel 5)

They stop at the desk. Newman is carrying his seat over to Prudence.

PRUDENCE

We’ve been taking it slow, Bob and I. He understands how hard it’s been for me to adjust-

NEWMAN

What a sweetheart.

PRUDENCE

But lately he’s been asking me to move in with him-

NEWMAN

Sorry about the interiors.

PRUDENCE

And I can’t! I can’t bring myself to leave our home. I can’t leave what I’ve got left of Carl.

NEWMAN

Have a seat.

PAGE 3

Panel 1

Prudence is sitting on Newman’s chair. Newman, on the other hand, has seated himself atop his stack of file boxes.

NEWMAN

I think I know why you’re here, Mrs… ?

Panel 2

Focus on Prudence.

PRUDENCE

Highmore. Prudence Highmore.

Panel 3

Prudence leans towards Newman. She looks at him with hopeful eyes.

PRUDENCE

Is it true, what I’ve heard?

PRUDENCE

Can you contact the spirit world?

Panel 4

Newman leans back, shrugs, and answers.

NEWMAN

I’m afraid you heard wrong. I can only talk to the spirits in this world.

PAGE 4

Panel 1

Prudence is exasperated and slightly offended.

PRUDENCE

I would appreciate it if you didn’t joke around about this, Mr. Newman.

Panel 2

Newman turns toward his desk and talks to someone who isn’t there.

NEWMAN

I’m not joking, Mrs. Highmore. Am I joking, Phil?

Panel 3

The ashtray on Newman’s desk rises several inches into the air. Newman and Prudence watch.

Panel 4

The ashtray comes down with a bang onto the desk. There’s a look of awe on Prudence’s face.

SFX

TOK!

Panel 5

Prudence continues to look dumbstruck. Newman’s eyes are fixed on the ashtray.

Panel 6

Newman turns to Prudence, who is still pretty much in disbelief.

NEWMAN

That’s one knock. That’s a no. Told you.

PAGE 5

Panel 1 (Grid)

Prudence begins to rise up off her seat. She looks flabbergasted.

PRUDENCE

Is… Is this some sort of trick?

NEWMAN

You should be happy it isn’t, Mrs. Highmore.

Panel 2

Focus on Newman’s face. He’s serious and slightly smug.

NEWMAN

You wanted someone who can speak to ghosts. There aren’t many of us who actually charge for that sort of thing.

Panel 3

Newman continues.

NEWMAN

Odds are you’ve wasted a lot of money on people pretending to be people like us.

Panel 4

Prudence has sunk back to her chair. She’s eyeing Newman cautiously; there’s a sliver of fright within her that’s beginning to grow. She’d been met with theatrics before, but never one so bare and simple and effective.

PRUDENCE

People like you? You mean psychics?

Panel 5

Newman sighs and attempts to explain the truth of things.

NEWMAN

I swear if that label didn’t get me customers, I’d have ditched it a long time ago.

Panel 6

Newman continues.

NEWMAN

No, Mrs. Highmore, not psychics. We can’t read your mind.

Panel 7

Newman looks upwards into blank space, trying to figure out how best to get Prudence to understand.

NEWMAN

Where do I start? The beginning? No, that’s too far back.

Panel 8

Newman looks back at Prudence.

NEWMAN

Okay, let’s try this – the spirit world? No such thing. They’re all here, on our world.

Panel 9 (End grid)

Newman gesticulates as he speaks.

NEWMAN

All the souls that ever lived on this planet never leave. They don’t go to some higher realm of existence, or whatever hogwash they’re dishing out these days.

PAGE 6

Panel 1 (Grid)

Newman continues.

NEWMAN

Now, you can imagine that being invisible and intangible has its perks, right? Spirits typically have an infinite amount of space on this world to continue their existence.

Panel 2

Newman’s hands illustrate the largeness of things.

NEWMAN

But that’s where things get sticky. See, we’re talking about the souls of every single living being that’s ever existed and died on this planet.

Panel 3

Newman’s hands are pressed together, demonstrating what he’s talking about.

NEWMAN

Add to that the fact that the Earth isn’t an infinite space, and things can get pretty crowded, even for the dead.

Panel 4

Newman shrugs.

NEWMAN

Sure, you could get by floating through things and people and other spirits all the time; there’s no trouble there.

Panel 5

Newman playfully pushes a thumb onto his eye.

NEWMAN

Then you realize that you don’t want to spend the rest of eternity with someone’s elbow constantly floating within your eye socket.

Panel 6

Newman raises his index finger, evidently making an important point.

NEWMAN

That’s where reincarnation comes in. You jump into a burgeoning life, and pow! You’ve got a prime piece of physical, impenetrable-to-your-peers real estate for a good number of years.

Panel 7

Newman tilts his head.

NEWMAN

…Well, if you’re not unlucky or anything, at least.

Panel 8

Newman continues.

NEWMAN

The one catch to this whole reincarnation thing, though, is that your memories tend to get wiped. I suppose it’s what keeps most people from going insane.

Panel 9 (End grid)

Focus on Newman.

NEWMAN

People like me, Mrs. Highmore, are the ones who remember.

PAGE 7

Panel 1

Newman’s posture relaxes. Prudence came to him for help, although she seems a bit unsure about whether or not she did the right thing now.

NEWMAN

I’m guessing you want me to help you talk to your dearly departed Carl.

Panel 2

Prudence snaps herself out her confusion.

PRUDENCE

…Sorry, yes. Please.

Panel 3

Newman slouches a bit and rests his hand on the back of his head.

NEWMAN

You can probably figure that after everything I’ve told you, that’s not going to be as easy as you think.

PAGE 8

Panel 1

Prudence looks a little puzzled. Newman takes the hint and goes on to explain.

NEWMAN

Like I said, there’s no separate world we can call spirits from, and they just appear wherever we are. They inhabit the same world we do; most of us just can’t see or feel them.

Panel 2

Newman stands up.

NEWMAN

If you want to talk to your husband, I’m going to have to find him first. And I’m telling you right now, he could be anywhere. You ever heard of a “Carl Highmore”, Phil?

SFX

TOK!

NEWMAN

Anywhere.

Panel 3

Newman begins to move around as he speaks.

NEWMAN

Now I’m pretty good at my job. I’ve got the connections to find any spirit you want to name. But it could take a while. The question is – are you willing to wait?

NEWMAN

Is Bob willing to wait?

Panel 4

Prudence tries to look defiant, but is pushed more by somber desperation than anything else. She reaches into her purse.

PRUDENCE

I… I suppose. How much will it cost?

Panel 5

Newman sticks his hands in his pockets, bracing for whatever consequences will come from what he says next.

NEWMAN

To be honest, Mrs. Highmore, that all depends on what exactly it is we find.

Panel 6

Prudence lifts her hand away from her purse. The hand is empty.

PRUDENCE

And what do you mean by that?

PAGE 9

Panel 1

Newman’s standing by the shelf of knick knacks. He’s keeping his hands occupied with a dreamcatcher.

NEWMAN

Well, for one thing, if he’s already moved on and reincarnated himself –

NEWMAN

He died two years ago, you said?

NEWMAN

– We’re going to have a pretty hard time convincing an infant to talk to you.

NEWMAN

And that’s if he reincarnated as a person.

Panel 2

He puts the dreamcatcher down.

NEWMAN

On the other hand, he could be a spirit, all fine and dandy and floating around. Somewhere tropical, probably. Spirits seem to like the sun.

NEWMAN

In that case, it’s at least a thousand bucks, plus whatever travel expenses I incur.

Panel 3

Prudence reaches back into her purse and tries to make a deal, but Newman interrupts. He’s walking towards her.

PRUDENCE

Alright. Is there a downpay-

NEWMAN

It’s another story, though, if he’s an angry spirit. Then we get the whole poltergeist setup going on, and that stuff gets messy.

Panel 4

Newman squats a little to see eye-to-eye with the still-seated Prudence. Close up on their faces.

NEWMAN

Now I don’t know your husband, Mrs. Highmore, but I’m willing to bet he’ll get pretty cranky when he finds out you want to talk to him just so you can finally shack up with his replacement.

PRUDENCE

I… I suppose I hadn’t thought of that.

PAGE 10

Panel 1

Newman rises back to a full stand.

NEWMAN

Now I hope you’re getting the impression that I’m not trying to con you or anything. Heck, I’m trying to talk you out of giving me a paying job. From my experience, though – and I’ve had a lot of it – cases like yours are best left alone.

Panel 2

Newman walks back to the boxes.

NEWMAN

And I haven’t even mentioned the worst-case scenario yet.

PRUDENCE

And that would be?

NEWMAN

His spirit could be demonic.

PAGE 11

Panel 1

Prudence is taken aback.

PRUDENCE

Excuse me???

Panel 2

Newman has seated himself back on top of the boxes.

NEWMAN

Remember how everything that’s ever died in this world stays in this world, and the only moving on we see is from death to reincarnation and back? The whole recycling of souls thing?

Panel 3

Newman leans toward Prudence.

NEWMAN

There were a lot of things living in the world back in the day, Mrs. Highmore. You wouldn’t want to know about a lot of those things.

PAGE 12

Panel 1

Newman continues to explain things to Prudence. Prudence is terrified, but spellbound.

NEWMAN

It’s usually all well and good when a demon’s spirit reincarnates as a human being, thanks to the whole amnesia setback. Sure, we get trouble with the ones that remember

NEWMAN

and especially those that remember they can actually bend the flesh to manifest their original forms,

NEWMAN

but that’s a pretty rare occurrence.

Panel 2

Newman continues.

NEWMAN

When a body dies, though, the spirit’s free to be what it really is. That’s when things get sticky.

Panel 3

Newman places a hand on Prudence’s shoulder.

NEWMAN

So really, Mrs. Highmore, my advice to you is to just move on with your life. Go boink Bob and bring your stuff over to his place. There are some matters that are better left alone.

Panel 4

Prudence begins to cry.

PRUDENCE

I just… I just…

Panel 5

Newman offers whatever consolation he can give. He’s never really found himself in a position to give any, but he tries anyway.

NEWMAN

I know this is the hardest thing to do, but honestly, the alternative could be infinitely worse.

Panel 6

Prudence manages to hold back whatever tears haven’t leaked out. She begins to rise off the chair.

PRUDENCE

I suppose you’re right. Clinging onto the past has brought me nothing but pain, anyway. I don’t think knowing any more about this is going to make anything better.

Page 7

Prudence stands up and turns towards the door.

PRUDENCE

I’ll… I’ll see myself out. Thank you for your time, Mr. Newman.

PAGE 13

Panel 1

Prudence makes her way to the door, but stops.

Panel 2

She turns, eyes still watery, and asks Newman something that’s been bugging her.

PRUDENCE

Just… what are you anyway, Mr. Newman?

Panel 3

Newman smiles, still seated on the boxes.

NEWMAN

I’m someone who remembers, Mrs. Highmore.

Panel 4

Prudence looks annoyed, yet strangely fearful of Newman.

PRUDENCE

That’s not what I meant.

Panel 5

Close-up on Newman’s face. For the first time, Prudence notices his irises are yellow.

NEWMAN

I know what you meant. That’s what I meant to answer.

PAGE 14

Panel 1

Prudence hurries out of Newman’s office and into the dank hallway. She leaves the door slightly open.

Panel 2

Newman gets up off the boxes.

Panel 3

Newman peeks outside the door. No one’s around.

PAGE 15

Panel 1

Newman locks the door.

SFX

*click*

Panel 2

Newman makes his way back to the boxes.

Panel 3

He opens the topmost box. We can’t see the contents just yet.

PAGE 16

Panel 1 (Splash)

We swivel around to see what’s inside the box. There’s a small pile of humanoid body parts, except the skin is red and leathery. Atop the pile is a head. There are two large horns growing out of either side, curving backwards like a handlebar. Its face is stuck in a grimace, revealing dozens of short, jagged teeth.

PAGE 17

Panel 1 (H.E.)

Newman begins to unpack the body parts out of the box, beginning with the head.

Panel 2 (H.E.)

The head lays on the desk, seemingly watching Newman’s silhouette as he removes the contents of the box.

Panel 3 (H.E.)

From the same angle, we see Newman continue his work. He’s taken down one box and he’s opened the one underneath it.

Panel 4 (Splash)

Newman’s hands pick the head up off the desk, the head’s disconcerting expression framed by his fingers.

PAGE 18

Panel 1 (Splash)

From the top, we see the result of Newman’s gruesome work: he’s laid out the body parts on the floor and reconstructed a demon. Its physique features an unnaturally skinny abdomen bridging the legs and a stocky upper body. Its fingers end in long black knife-like claws, and its feet are little more than tree stumps surrounded by talons.

PAGE 19

Panel 1

Newman is looking down on the demonic corpse before him.

NEWMAN

Coast’s clear.

Panels 2-4 (Small)

The demon’s dismembered body parts begin to fuse sinew by sinew.

Panel 5 (Small)

Its eyes open.

Panel 6

The demon sits up. It’s got a headache.

Panel 7

Newman reaches out a cup of coffee to the demon. He’s holding one for himself, too.

NEWMAN

Sorry about the hack job, Carl.

PAGE 20

Panel 1

Carl takes a sip of coffee. He’s got a pained expression on his face.

CARL

Thanks for covering for me, man, but did you HAVE to say what really happened?

Panel 2

Newman shrugs, coffee cup in hand.

NEWMAN

Hey, if you want the lie to sound believable, you’ve got to throw a bit of the truth in there.

Panel 3

Carl stands up, one hand still on his head.

CARL

I really fucking hate these chop-and-hides. Fucking hangover central, man. Where’s my fucking bong?

Panel 4

Newman points to his desk.

NEWMAN

Top drawer.

NEWMAN

Why do you hide from your wife, anyway? She seems pretty sweet.

Panel 5

Carl opens the top drawer of Newman’s desk. He spots his bong, and is elated.

CARL

Other than the fact that she’s banging my best friend? I can’t let her see me like this.

CARL

Also, fuck you for telling her to boink Bob.

PAGE 21

Panel 1

Newman takes a sip of coffee.

NEWMAN

I don’t get it, though. You’re not even dead yet. You can always transform back, you know.

Panel 2

Carl’s lighting up his bong.

CARL

Fuck that shit. Being a demon’s fucking badass.

Panel 3

Newman cracks a smile.

NEWMAN

Could you at least crack the windows open when you smoke that stuff? Phil hates it when the room gets all hazy.

SFX

TOK! TOK!

NEWMAN

See?

Panel 4

Carl opens a window.

CARL

Saw-ree, Phil.

CARL

So what are we doing today?

Panel 5

Newman puts the coffee cup down.

NEWMAN

You’re going to go out there and find us a gig. Turning your wife down cost us a payday.

 

 

PAGE 22

Panel 1

Carl puts the bong down. A puff of smoke escapes from his lips.

CARL

Aaah fuck it. Fine, fine, I’m going.

Panel 2

Carl heads out the door. He calls out behind him.

CARL

We’re getting Chinese tonight since I’m the one getting paid this time.

Panel 3

The door closes behind Carl.

Panel 4

The label on the glass pane obscures Newman’s silhouette.

END

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