Unring The Bell [COMPLETE]

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6 - Chicago

Shang removes her shoes on entering. The interior wears intricate threads as décor. Various metal statues and fountains fill the space. It’s breathtaking and otherworldly.

SHANG

Did you make this yourself?

SHERIDAN

I had some help.

A man brings drink cups to the agents.

SHANG

They are breathtaking.

SHERIDAN

Thanks. It’s a way to express what I see and feel.

SHANG

A unique way to express.

SHERIDAN

When you don’t have the funds to buy art supplies, you get them from your surroundings.

DESHAWN

That’s why all the fences are gone?

SHERIDAN

Oh no. Those were used for another purpose. These are actually from the ground.

The agents exchange a look.

SHERIDAN

Do you know those role-playing games where you have to go to dungeons and fight hordes after waves of creatures?

DESHAWN

Yeah?

SHERIDAN

That’s where these come from. The dark corners that no one sees or pays attention to. An abandoned factory, a school no longer used, rocks from gentrified construction.

SHANG

Like green engineering. In China, we are moving more in that direction. Blend the natural with our architecture.

SHERIDAN

All about balance.

He motions to worn chairs.

SHERIDAN

Have a seat. Fellas, go check on Maya, please?

DAVID (32), the boy from Sheridan’s birth, nods okay.

SHANG

Who is Maya?

SHERIDAN

My older sister. Actually my step, but she’s my family. Our dads didn’t get along. Mine murdered hers. Like the story of David and Bathsheba, but my dad was no righteous king who did a wrong thing and asked for forgiveness. He wanted my mom cause she was fine, humble like a mouse. He liked to revel in her misery; you know.

SHANG

That’s horrible.

SHERIDAN

You’re traveled from China to Chicago. You can’t say you have seen the best of humanity.

SHANG

No. But I have hope.

SHERIDAN

Is that why you keep your man there at arm’s length. Dangling your one-of-a-kind cookie because you see the best in a man? I doubt that.

SHANG

More complicated than that.

SHERIDAN

Really? More than geometry pulled from metal spun spider silk?

SHANG

Our cultures...

SHERIDAN

Can blend. But you choose to sideline the love of this man. What for? Job? National loyalty? What about loyalty to you as a woman to be loved for all her worth?

SHANG

I didn’t come for relationship advice.

SHERIDAN

No. I guess you didn’t.

(pause)

Don’t wait too long with him.

Sheridan peeks at DeShawn.

SHERIDAN

You came to ask me why a brother has white curls and silver eyes?

DESHAWN

I didn’t know until now.

SHANG

Yes. My government wants to know if children born with your... appearances are natural or a new disease to investigate.

DESHAWN

A disease?

Sheridan smirk.

SHERIDAN

Point the finger in another direction. Now, natural. You can say that.

David runs in. He hyperventilates.

DAVID

Come on! Maya’s dead! Sheridan, you need to get out of here!

Everyone leaps to their feet.

SHERIDAN

How and who?

DAVID

Elders. They found mom and blamed her for Dad’s situation. Looks like Maya tried to stop them.

Sheridan motions to the agents.

SHERIDAN

Not your fight. Stay or go, but don’t follow. Don’t need any government getting this low into business.

Sheridan follows David out the back door. Shang peeks at DeShawn. Nothing needs to be said when someone is in need. DeShawn runs hot on Shang’s heels after Sheridan.

Fire licks the windows. Smoke billows from every space. ONLOOKERS gather, uncertain what to do.

David appears with Sheridan.

DAVID

See?

SHERIDAN

Yeah.

The blaze illuminates faces in the crowd. A dark FIGURE sharks through the gathered. A MAN full of swagger and unaffected by the tragedy seethes at Sheridan.

Sheridan peers at metal bars that lay at the foot of the building. Wrenching sound of metal being mangled. He doesn’t touch the metal nor moves his hands. Where his eyes see the metal leaps to the command.

Bars PUNCH into the walls as if by God’s piston. Invading through the structure.

SHERIDAN

Where’s Maya?

DAVID

On the fourth, in the hall down by the eighth room.

Shang comes to the front and stares at Sheridan as he builds a stairway with his mind. One ledge after another until at the fourth level and eight windows from the left.

Sheridan leaps from one to another. He plunges through the window. DeShawn appears behind Shang. His mouth can catch flies.

The audience holds their breath.

Sheridan appears moments later with Maya’s body. Flames push to burn his backside. Sheridan instinctively yanks metal from inside the apartment and barricades the window. The fire is hot, but not enough to melt the shield.

Cheers erupt from the crowd.

Sheridan hands Maya over to David. Reverence in their movement.

SHERIDAN

Come forward.

Everyone looks around, making certain they are not the person he speaks to.

SHERIDAN

I know you did this.

The shark steps forward. A gangly BOY (16) with a scar along his cheek glances up to meet Sheridan’s stare.

SHERIDAN

Why?

The boy turns and points. A caravan of SUVs with full-face tint encircles the gathering.

SHERIDAN

Hmm.

The boy turns and directs attention to something on the wall. Camouflaged with a clever deception is a nude MAN pinned near the roof. Spread like the Vitruvian Man upside down, metal mesh weaves in and out of the brick building.

The horrific sight is made worse because when closer inspected, the man still breathes.

SHERIDAN

Oh. Do you want my dad? Sorry. That ain’t happening. We’ve all lived good lives with our resident gargoyle.

SUV windows lower and gun muzzles poke out. The Caravan transforms into an armed porcupine.

Sheridan clenches his fists. Two SUVs visibly indent by a pissed-off deity.

The agent takes refuge when bullets scream in the air. In a world of monsters and men, David runs AWAY from the fight cradling Maya. The SCREAMS of the crowd heard everywhere.

Shang watches Sheridan. His eyes are alternatively intense and ENRAGED. The mesh entrapping Sheridan’s father rattles and shakes as if a poltergeist possesses it.

Shang dives her face into DeShawn’s shoulder as Sheridan’s tortured father comes to his demise. Chunks of his body spear into the SUVs and coating the attackers.

The earth erupts with pipes, rebar, and assorted items to set off a detector. Spectral apparitions gave incoherent forms to coalesce and defend the fleeing people.

Shang’s eyes widen at the impossible occurring. DeShawn swallows his fear. Shang shouts over the din at him.

SHANG

What FBI agent goes to the field without a gun?

DESHAWN

The one on leave.

She squeezes her eyes shut. Her fingers rub the bridge of her nose.

SHANG

Where did he go?

They peer around in the chaos.

SHANG

Never mind. We need to help these people.

DeShawn glances across the landscape shake his head.

DESHAWN

There’s nothing we can do unless you want to get shot.

The zing of a stray bullet punctuates his point.

SHANG

How can you say that? What’s wrong with you? You would fight for me, but not these bystanders?

DESHAWN

We can do something. Stay alive!

She turns away from him. DeShawn believes he’s upset her. When Shang turns back to him, she wears a face of determination.

SHANG

We do more than stay alive. To defend those who cannot defend themselves.

Shang stands up, turning away from DeShawn into the line of fire.

DESHAWN

Shang, NO!!

Shang surveys the field. It’s loud. Filled with metal shards wrestling in midair by bullets. She takes a step forward, then runs. DeShawn can’t believe he’s going to follow this insanity, yet-

DeShawn leaves his safety nest.

Shang rescues a trio out of the hot zone. She feels a bite on the bridge of her shoulder. She does her best to move another pair of panicked people from the barrage.

Another bite hits her hip. Shang falls to one knee with a child under her wing. She turns, pleased to see behind her --

DeShawn! Shang sees him work side-by-side, trying to help the community.

Shang grits her teeth, angry.

She rescues two more people. Then the world grows silent. What she scans is both impossible and terrifying. All the SUVs and occupants are mangled. A titanic force crushed all of it with an invisible hand.

SHANG

Where’s Sheridan?

She scans the area and focuses on DeShawn. He’s perplexed.

DESHAWN

Where did he go?

Shang speaks into a phone. Her head nods as her eyes fixate on DeShawn. DeShawn waits outside a restroom. He stares out the window at the tarmac. Shang puts away her phone.

SHANG

I’m told to go back home.

DeShawn absently nods. He doesn’t avert his eyes or speaks.

SHANG

DeShawn.

(pause)

I’m sorry.

DESHAWN

What for? Putting in the middle of some superpower or science has gone wrong? Or is it your leaving again?

SHANG

I must.

DESHAWN

Your job.

He shakes his head in disappointment.

SHANG

That, yes.

DESHAWN

I know.

He exhales.

DESHAWN

It’s difficult. Cause you know how I feel for you. About you.

She takes his hand in hers and strokes it with her fingers. She sings a song for his ears only.

SHANG

(in Chinese: subtitled English)

How much more do I have to endure? I’m wandering in this thick darkness. Is there no such thing as a dream that I want? Not being able to take it anymore. Opening my exhausted eyes, even letting out a long sigh is hard. Will everything end as I’m broken down. I was always afraid. But in the world I have to go to, you are there. In my heart. My mind. I will yearn for you.

Tears roll her cheeks as her fingers tighten on his hand. DeShawn peers over his shoulder to her.

DESHAWN

What if there are others?

She wipes her tears away.

SHANG

This is way above our pay grades.

DESHAWN

I assume you saw one in Africa. That makes two. Two impossible, crazy people with supernatural powers straight from the movies and nightmares.

SHANG

Our governments have the resources. They can find them and --

DESHAWN

Not as fast as us.

He faces her.

DESHAWN

Shang. You are the most intelligent woman I know. Clever and smart. You have your feet on the ground and in the field.

SHANG

I can not go against my people.

DESHAWN

You’re protecting them.

She shakes her head in disagreement. Clearly torn.

SHANG

The military can do what’s right.

DESHAWN

Come on with that nonsense. Stop trying to pull away from the logic of this.

He tightens his fingers on hers.

DESHAWN

Look. What just happened here. A man just pulled a Magneto. If he’s in the wind, then we need to find him before he figures out what destruction can be brought.

She considers his words.

DESHAWN

We must be at the gate of hell to push the darkness back. If one or two shadows slip past into our world...

SHANG

I hear you, Shawn. But we are not ready for this.

He smiles.

DESHAWN

We?

She gazes into his eyes.

SHANG

We. We cannot deal with this.

DESHAWN

Who said we’d fight alone? That’s the problem with people.

They intertwine fingers.

SHANG

I will not fight without you.

She releases her tresses from a hair tie.


ANAPHASE

DeShawn sits on the American hotel bed and removes his shoes. The shower can be heard. He scans the food menu. He glances to the bathroom. Tempted to go join Shang in the shower.

She spooks him when she shouts.

SHANG

Do you know what you want to eat?

A lust flirts in his eyes, A grin grabs the corner of his mouth. In seriousness, he replies.

DESHAWN

Thinking of Chinese take-out.

SHANG

Ha-ha. Not funny.

DESHAWN

What about some deli?

SHANG

You know I like meat.

DESHAWN

That why you so thick in the right curves?

SHANG

Hmm, I want pineapple three meat pizza.

DESHAWN

Custom made. Thin or stuffed.

Shang exits the restroom towel drying her hair. She wears a tee shirt with “When sleeping women wake, mountains move” text. She strides into the room with bare legs. The shirt long enough to hide whether she wears shorts or only panties.

SHANG

I loved stuffed.

She winks at him. An impish grin flickers across her mouth.

DESHAWN

I shouldn’t be here.

She dries her hair as they discuss.

SHANG

Yeah. You’re tempting me.

DESHAWN

I tempt you? Ha!

She drops the towel and sits next to him. Her bare knee touches his leg.

SHANG

You’re a smart man. I haven’t stopped thinking of you. Being this close to you, your scent drives me mad.

DESHAWN

Maybe you don’t know.

SHANG

That I hurt you when I left?

DESHAWN

It doesn’t matter. You’re the only woman I want.

SHANG

I don’t have a choice ’Shawn.

DESHAWN

Why do you --

SHANG

My family. You know that. I must bring honor to them. To my father.

DESHAWN

Even if that’s not what your soul wants?

He holds her hands.

SHANG

I’m no longer an innocent girl. No longer full of simple love. I’ve been broken. Cracked. World-weary. But I must wear my mask, so my parents will be happy. I cannot disappoint them. I will not.

She takes her hands away. A blush spreads to her chest, her fingers dig into her thighs, her hair falls over her cheeks.

DESHAWN

You are unwilling to admit the truth.

SHANG

And what’s that?

Her eyes meet his.

DESHAWN

I hear your heart, Shang.

Her eyes lock with his.

SHANG

Why do you want me?

He stands with confidence.

DESHAWN

Before my mom died. Before you, I did what I had to survive. I wanted to do the best for my country. Something greater than me. Every single day. It’s hard to imagine now.

He tenderly holds her arms.

DESHAWN

I never showed weakness. Then you walked into my life. The sun dimmed by comparison. The world. My job. My life was pit stops in a gray world. You brought color. Bright. Vivid color.

SHANG

You’re delusional. You only want a little something to hold on to in your bed.

His eyes grow fuzzy. He steels his expression.

DESHAWN

Once upon a time, I’d want sugaring Hennessey and succulent honey flava in a disposal cup.

(pause+)

Yet, when I close my eyes, I hear your voice. When I shut my ears, I see you. I want you to be naked and groaning my name. I want to hear your footsteps. You didn’t give me a choice.

SHANG

What choice?

DESHAWN

To fall in love with you. It would be easier to be a chaste monk. My head knows what my heart cannot refuse. There’s no space in me other than you, Shang. I have loved you since the moment you looked into my eyes. I don’t have the luxury to bluff. There’s only one thing that matters.

SHANG

Letting our superiors know about the super people?

DESHAWN

You know what I’m sayin’.

SHANG

I can’t, Shawn.

DESHAWN

Can’t, or won’t?

SHANG

I’m here. Now.

DESHAWN

You are.

SHANG

I need to tell you something. Something personal.

He leans back.

DESHAWN

Sure. You can talk to me about anything.

SHANG

Well, you are the only one I can talk to about it.

DESHAWN

I’m listening.

SHANG

My mom is going to the marriage markets.

DeShawn shakes his head.

SHANG

Did you hear me?

(pause)

They are looking for a match for me.

Her chest heaves as she inhales. She stares into his eyes as she tries to find his thoughts.

DESHAWN

Which market?

SHANG

What?

DESHAWN

Where at?

SHANG

Why?

DESHAWN

I need to bring my nonnegotiable resume and burn yours.

SHANG

What?

DESHAWN

You are worth a thousand years and I have my cards to play. There aren’t many, but I have them. They haven’t found the right fit for you because I’ve been here. Waiting for you.

She raises a brow.

SHANG

That’s sweet. You would do that? For me?

DESHAWN

Shang. I would cross the world, travel hundreds of years, and fight monsters and demons. For you.

He rests his palm on her inner wrist. She stares into his eyes. She swallows hard.

DESHAWN

Sit.

He commands. Her legs move on their own. She’s lying on the bed, her hands folded in her lap, her thighs shaking. He strokes her cheek with his finger.

DESHAWN

I’m not perfect. But to me, Shang, you are my phoenix that has burnt away all my bullish shadows. I want to be your husband. I enjoy you.

Her eyes fill with surprise as he brushes her lips with his.

DESHAWN

You are the nectar of the universe. I thirst for in a million ways.

He runs his fingers through her damp hair. Her eyes stare into his.

DESHAWN

It’s not too late to refuse.

SHANG

I’m no fool. It will be hard.

DESHAWN

Always is when you are near.

SHANG

Men vying for my attention.

DESHAWN

And?

SHANG

None of them built a tsunami in my heart, nor make my thoughts a typhoon. Not as you do.

(pause)

You are a gorgeous man. One that needs to feed me. I am a guest in your country after all.

She smiles as she grabs his face and pulls him for a deep kiss. They explore each other. She pulls him down to the bed.

LATER. She is collapsed across his chest. Spent. Intimate. He strokes her face tenderly as she explores his body with her fingertips.

DESHAWN

I owe you a meal.

SHANG

Did work up an appetite.

DESHAWN

Dessert?

Her eyes are ocean deep, honest, teary.

SHANG

I am with you now.

Her arms enfold him, laying her head on his chest, listens to his heartbeat.

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