Badroulbadour Sultan bursts from the forest and continues sprinting away from the trees. She turns a rocky corner and dodges into a small cave. She clasps tightly to the rolled carpet strapped to her back, partly to make sure it’s still there. She breathes a deep sigh and backs away further into the cave.
A shadowy figure abruptly passes by the cave’s opening, and Badroulbadour clings to the cave’s wall, turning her head to make sure she stays out of sight. The figure slinks back around and peeks into the cave’s entrance, clawing it’s hand against the rock wall. Badroulbadour sets her hand over her mouth and nose, trying to suppress the sound of her breathing.
The figure twists it’s head back outside of the cave and rushes away. Badroulbadour lets out her breath and slumps against the cave’s wall. She takes the carpet off of her back and spreads it out on the dusty ground. “I need you to take me somewhere safe,” she whispers to the carpet. The carpet moves subtly as Badroulbadour sits on the top. The carpet lifts from the ground and flies out of the cave.
Sometime later, the carpet lays itself down in the back alley behind the Woodlands as Badroulbadour wakes from a tired sleep.
December 19, 1972, 12:00 p.m. - Woodlands 9th Floor, Adam & Belle French’s apartment -
Adam French marches around his apartment and sets a glass of water down in front of Badroulbadour, motioning for her to sit. “Here you are, uh…”
“Jasmine.” she replies, taking the seat Adam pulled out for her.
“Right,” he nods. “I remember. I was testing you,” he jokes. “We haven’t had a lot of new arrivals lately. None, really. Not that I can think of, anyway. But you’re just in time, because I’ve recently been promoted. Or, hired, really.”
“Is that so?”
He nods and pulls out the chair in front of her and takes a seat. “It’s so. Deputy Mayor,” he smiles. “And it seems my first duty in office will be to get you settled in Fabletown.”
“And what about the actual mayor?”
“He’s… well, just be glad Barrett called me down. Simon Kaa is a bit… unconventional,” Adam smiles sheepishly. “But no worry. I’ve got this. We’re going to see if we can’t get you approved for a loan; that way, you can get a place to stay. You are planning on staying, aren’t you?” He motions to her but doesn’t wait for a response. “In the meantime, I might be able to find a place for you to stay a few days while everything is set up and processed.”
“Here,” Belle emerges from her room and sets a black dress on the back of the couch. “Try this one; it’s a bit short on me, but I think it might fit you nicely.”
“Thank you,” Badroulbadour nods and smiles at her. “It’s very nice.”
“It’s no problem,” Belle smiles. “You can keep it, really. I’ve never really worn it.”
“You’re both very kind,” Badroulbadour smiles and stands, pushing her chair in. “I’ll try on the dress,” she grabs the dress from the back of the couch and slinks off to the restroom.
Jack Frost stands outside of Mulan’s apartment knocking on the door repeatedly. “Mulan,” he continues knocking, “open up. I know you’re in there. Why aren’t you answering my calls? I’ve been ringing you all morning.”
There’s no answer, but Jack continues to knock anyway. “Humpty said he hasn’t seen you leave all day.” He tries the doorknob again but just rattles it when it doesn’t turn. “Mulan.”
Jack takes off his glove and grasps the doorknob, and ice slowly coats the shiny metal. Jack pulls down on the knob and it breaks off the door. He pushes the door open, but it catches on the chain lock clasped on the door. “Are you fucking kidding me?”
He places his finger on the chain and breaks it, too. He pushes the door open and steps inside.
“Mulan?” The record player in the living room is wobbling slowly. Cups and plates litter the floor, and Jack kicks a bottle of liquor on his path to Mulan’s room.
“Mulan?” He pushes open her door slightly and sees Mulan laying face down in bed. He walks over slowly. “Mulan.” He slides his glove back over his hand and nudges her slightly, but she doesn’t move. He nudges again. When she doesn’t move, Jack begins to lightly shake Mulan. “Hey,” he leans in, “wake up. Mulan, wake up.”
Mulan sighs and turns slightly. Jack turns his head away. “God, your breath smells like tequila.” He looks at the ground and notices an entire empty bottle laying next to the bed. Jack sighs and pulls Mulan onto his shoulder. “Come on.”
He sets Mulan on the bathroom floor and turns on the shower. He turns and lifts up her shirt. “Help me out,” he tugs. Mulan lifts up her arms and leans her head against the wall. Jack pulls off her shirt. “Lay back,” he lowers Mulan on the ground and helps her pull of her pants. He tosses them to the side and lifts Mulan lightly, setting her in the shower under the water.
She looks up into the water and shakes her hair out. She opens her mouth, gurgles the water, and spits it into the drain. Jack crosses his arms and turns away. “It’s been awhile since we’ve done this.”
Mulan doesn’t say anything and slouches again in the shower, letting the water run over her body.
Dorothy stalks into Chester’s apartment as soon as he opens the door. “Sure,” he closes the door behind her. “Come in. I didn’t know we were making house calls now.”
“Oh, Chester,” Dorothy spins around to face him. “I wish you were as funny as you think you are.”
Chester touches his heart. “Oh, Dorothy. I like you, too.” He smiles and walks over. “What’s going on?”
“Did you handle it?”
“You’re quick,” he smiles. “I handled it. Calm down. I talked to her last night. It’s handled. Okay?”
She crosses her arms and sighs. “You said something like this would never happen. We shouldn’t have ever gotten started doing this in the first place.”
“Will you calm down?” He puts a hand on her shoulder, but she brushes it away. “You’re getting worked up, and you don’t need to be. Take it easy. I’ve got this. I’m on the hook just as much as you are, maybe more.”
“They’d have my job on the 13th Floor for this.”
“You don’t have to worry about that. It’s not going to happen. She’ll do as I asked; I know she will. Are you working on your part of the bargain?”
“I’m still figuring it out,” she nods. “A few more kinks to work loose, and it’ll be ready.”
December 19, 1972, 5:00 p.m. - The Gingerbread House Hotel -
Kitty shuts the office door behind her and turns around to face Gretel. “Now that I’ve got you alone, we need to talk.”
Gretel picks a sucker out of the jar on the desk and rips off the wrapper, slipping the sucker into her mouth. “What about?”
Kitty looks at Gretel and raises her eyebrows. “Really? You’re going to suck on that in front of me and pretend you haven’t noticed your brother’s losing his goddamn mind?”
“Hansel?” Gretel shrugs. “He’s always like this. He wanted to kill Woody before this whole thing happened, anyway.”
“You need to keep a close eye on him. We don’t need him cracking. Not at a time like this. Do you understand?”
“He’s fine, really--”
“Do you understand?” Kitty takes a step closer to Gretel and glares into her eyes.
Gretel nods slowly and pops the sucker out of her mouth. “Fine. Yeah. I’ll watch him. He’s not going to do anything, but I’ll watch him.”
“Good. And you’ve still got that key?”
“Keep it on you. We might need it soon.”
December 19, 1972, 6:00 p.m. - Outside the Rabbit Hole -
Aya struts down the middle of the sidewalk and puffs on a cigarette. She watches as people pass by, and she doesn’t move to make room for others. She turns and notices as somebody ducks into the shadows of an alleyway. Aya pulls another drag from her cigarette and turns back around and continues walking.
A few steps ahead, she turns again and narrows her eyes at something a few yards back. Another man passes her. “Excuse me,” he nods as he walks by.
Aya ignores him and continues walking, looking behind her every few steps to see if somebody is following her. She reaches the door of the Rabbit Hole and pauses, looking down the street. Not seeing anything, Aya walks inside.
The announcer on stage taps on the microphone. “And now, ladies and gentleman, it’s time for the musical stylings of the most beautiful voice from Under the Sea.”
Those in the crowd clap. The waitresses don’t pause as they continue setting down drinks and collecting tips. Arielle Poole steps onto stage and approaches the microphone.
*takes her tray and goes to the main room, noticing she has a table*
*she walks over to them and greets them*
Hi! Welcome to the Rabbit Hole. I'm Anna and I'll be taking care of you guys tonight. Can I get you started with anything to drink? The Poisoned Apple is tonights special-- each one is only $1.
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