1. MEDIUM SHOT – ON A BUILDING
in the business section of a seedy neighborhood. The structure is stark in design, brick and cement, with concrete stairs leading to metallic doors. A sign at the bottom of the steps reads “White Ward Agency” in gold plate lettering.
2. LONG SHOT – INTERIOR, FACING THE ENTRANCE
Detective Kensington, Associate Investigator at White Ward, quickly enters the building and pulls off his duster and hat, hanging them roughly on the abused coat-rack in the corner. It’s too quiet.
SECRETARY MUPPETRA SCREAMS
GUNSHOT, FOLLOWED BY A LOUD THUMP
3. MEDIUM SHOT – ON THE DOOR OF THE DIRECTOR
Kensington springs into action, reaching the source of the shot. It’s the office of the Director of Investigations, the secretive and reclusive Madam X. He jiggles the handle, but needed not bother; the door was already unlatched and gave way to his touch.
4. FIRST-PERSON VIEW, STILL SHOT, AT THE DOOR’S OPENING
There she lay, on the ground. Dead. His long-time companion and invaluable co-worker Ms. Muppetra. A single gunshot wound to the chest. A window is open, as if for an escape. Something seems strange about this whole thing. It looks staged. It’s too well organized, too perfect in its arrangement.
5. CLOSE SHOT, ON DETECTIVE KENSINGTON
Kensington, in a brief moment of shock, registers a lonely saxophone playing in the background [cue “Love Exchange Failure”]. Its melody is tender and mournful. Eventually, the sweet crooning of the sax is violently interrupted by a sound Kensington never heard before in his life. Was that a guitar? It must be, but it sounded distorted, evil and shimmering all at once. At some point the saxophone rejoins the guitars and they sing together, a moment of unity between seemingly incompatible personalities. Snapping out of his reverie, Kensington looks for the source of the siren sound, to no avail.
6. SIDE SHOT, PERPENDICULAR TO THE ENTRANCE, MUPPETRA‘S BODY IN THE FOREGROUND
Kensington moves on to the desk. It’s bare save for a phone on the corner and, in the center, a single dossier entitled “Futility Report: FOR MADAM X‘S EYES ONLY.” He opens it. Most of it is redacted, but there are a few words exposed: “black metal,” “saxophone,” “Ukraine,” a few others, but not much else to help him understand what happened here. Kensington glances again at Muppetra.
7. CLOSE SHOT, MUPPETRA‘S CORPSE
Kensington‘s hand comes into frame, gently moving a golden curl away from Muppetra‘s face and closing her faded eyes. He pauses, noticing a strange locket across her neck.
8. CLOSE SHOT, OVER DETECTIVE KENSINGTON‘S SHOULDER
Kensington takes the locket. He opens it. Inside is a tiny piece of paper, rolled up delicately. Unfurled, the paper has a single word typed on it: “Love.” He hears the music swell again [cue “Poisonous Flower of Violence”], this time it’s more intense than before. The drums are so fast, so eager for destruction. But the melody accompanying them is downright romantic, in a melancholy way. And then it calms, everything replaced by an intimate acoustic guitar. Those menacing guitars return shortly thereafter, a piano at their side. There shines a glimmer of hope in the music now that wasn’t there before…
Kensington shudders out of his stupor. His hand moves to Muppetra‘s. She’s clutching another piece of paper, this one with the word “Exchange” written upon it. Out of the corner of his eye he sees one last piece of paper, poking out of the wound in her chest.
9. CLOSE SHOT, MUPPETRA‘S WOUND, FACING DETECTIVE KENSINGTON
The paper sticks, one of its ends coated in blood. Kensington gently wriggles it free, unfolds it, and reads it aloud.
10. STILL SHOT, DETECTIVE KENSINGTON IN THE BOTTOM RIGHT OF FRAME, A LARGE BOOKCASE TAKING UP THE LEFT
Kensington, utterly perplexed, stands up, and is once again distracted by the music playing around him [cue “Dead Heart Confession”]. What is this cruel magic? The devilish shrieks and shimmering guitars unmask a human voice, a cleanly sung passage that is morose, emotional. What happened to him that he sings such a mournful song? The number weaves and swerves between different melodies and riffs and only repeats ideas when the song threatens to overstay its welcome. It’s hypnotizing. Eventually, slowly, he turns to the bookcase, thinking the sound is coming from there [cue “Shelter”].
11. PROFILE SHOT, PARALLEL TO THE BOOKCASE
Kensington‘s face slides into the frame from the right, his ear pressing somewhat awkwardly against the books. Luckily the song playing at the moment doesn’t steal his attention like before, so he is able to focus on locating the source. The music starts to generate tension now, and Kensington fears his senses will be ensnared again soon [cue “No Cure for Pain”]. He frantically tears books right and left, just as the music tears itself between one rippling passage to the next, alternating between bouts of violence and swaths of smooth jazz.
A woman starts to sing just as Kensington rips the last of the books from the shelf at a frenzied pace [cue “Surfaces and Depths”], bringing a new element to further his madness. The unlikely companionship between sultry and sinister is compelling. Even the saxophone begins to sound as evil as the guitars [cue “Uncanny Delusions”], the whole piece threatening to fly off the rails.
12. MEDIUM SHOT, BEHIND DETECTIVE KENSINGTON
There’s only one book left. How it hadn’t fallen in the kerfuffle he couldn’t guess. He reaches for the book. The music transforms into something that sounds like an old-timey radio broadcast [cue the final minute of “Uncanny Delusions”]. Just as an abused woman in the recording screams, “I LOVE THAT HE HURTS ME,” into Kensington‘s ears, the book clicks, the bookcase slides to the side, and in the little alcove behind it sits a vinyl, entitled Love Exchange Failure, inside its jacket.
13. CLOSE SHOT, ON THE VINYL
There’s a note. It reads
IT IS MINE. THE SECRETARY FOUND OUT ABOUT IT, SOMEHOW. I HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE. —MADAM X
14. CLOSE SHOT, DETECTIVE KENSINGTON‘S FACE ON THE LEFT, MADAM X APPEARS BEHIND
Kensington turns around rapidly, silence filling the room as he gazes on the shadowy figure, clutching the vinyl possessively in his arms. She’s holding a pistol, pointed directly at him.
BLACK, FOLLOWED QUICKLY BY A DEAFENING GUNSHOT