MARGE is in the office, standing at Ellen's desk, flipping through a newspaper. She finds what she wants, folds the paper so that the article is prominently displayed, and tries to set it down on Ellen's desk in the most natural manner possible while still calling maximum attention to it - as if someone has just tossed it down as they walk by. She walks around the desk to Ellen's computer, pulls up an online article on the same subject matter, then turns off the monitor. She hears Ellen coming and runs to the TV, turns on CNN, then runs back to her desk, straightens herself out. Tries to play everything completely natural. 

ELLEN comes in, nods curtly to her and rushes to her desk in an attempt to avoid conversation. She notices the paper on her desk and sighs. 

MARGE: Morning, Ellen. Oh, what have you got over there?

ELLEN (unimpressed)Somebody must have left this on my desk.

MARGE: Well, here, you just got in, you should get yourself all settled. Here, let me take that for you...

She walks over and picks up the newspaper.

MARGE: Oh, my - this is embarrassing. I don't know who could have been reading this...

ELLEN: I can't imagine.

MARGE: But, listen, since it's come up now...

Ellen doesn't bite. 

MARGE: I assume that you got a chance to see...

Ellen shakes her head and turns back to her computer.

MARGE: You're right, we don't have to talk about this now. You should at least be able to check your emails first.

Ellen turns on her monitor.

MARGE: It's just that - seventeen people, Ellen! I'm sorry, I don't mean to brag, but…how many was it that your Charlie got at Fort Alexander?

ELLEN: Six dead, three injured.

MARGE: That's right. Critically injured, or…?

ELLEN: They've all been released.

MARGE: Well, you know, that's a perfectly respectable starting point for a boy who's only…how old is he, now?

ELLEN: Thirty-two.

MARGE: Oh. Well, you know, some people are just later bloomers than others. There's really no point in comparing - you have to take each on their own merits. My Billy, for instance, didn't get quite as many as the West Cobb shooter got last year, but then that guy had an assault rifle with a belt full of extra clips. You may call that better planning, but frankly I just call that plain old cheating. Billy only had two automatic pistols - and one of those jammed on him! He had to figure out how to resolve that all the while he was evading the authorities and trying to keep his perimeter secure and maximize casualties. So while, yes, of course he should have racked up a few more given that the standoff lasted almost thirteen hours, you have to look at everything in context. 

ELLEN: Yes, well, as happy as I am for you, if it's all the same I'd rather not have to think about any of this right now.

She turns to her computer, sees the article. 

MARGE: I wish just as much as you did that our boys could have timed this just a little bit better. I know for a fact that it wasn't Billy's intention at all to overshadow your poor Charlie. Maybe with a little forewarning, we could have avoided all of this unpleasantness. I hope they at least have the good sense to space out the trials just a little bit...

Just then EVELYN comes into the office, incredibly excited.

EVELYN: Oh my god, are you guys watching the news!?

MARGE: Well, as a matter of fact...

EVELYN: Quick, quick - turn it up!

She grabs the remote and raises the volume.

ANCHOR: …still tallying the final count, but at this point we are able to confirm that twenty-seven have been killed in today's shooting spree outside of the Westphalia Plaza building just under an hour ago. The assailant was reportedly an ex-employee of one of the plaza kiosks, fired early last month for a combination of issues including tardiness, erratic behavior with customers and poor personal hygiene. The suspect was reportedly hiding in the bushes as early as five-thirty this morning, and waited until the mid-morning rush to make his attack, armed with a semi-automatic rifle and what we're now being told was a refitted anti-aircraft firearm. We have a name, and we can now officially report that the suspect is being identified as Lawrence Anders, age nineteen, of Duluth, a recent graduate of--I'm sorry, this just in - since our last update, it looks as if three victims have been declared dead on arrival to Grady Memorial Hospital. That brings the toll currently to an even thirty, with twelve injured. More as it develops, but until then we are being joined by--

Over the course of this broadcast, Marge sinks lower and lower while Evelyn's face shines brighter and brighter with pride. Ellen, likewise, stands taller and taller the more Marge sinks.

Marge snaps the TV off.

MARGE: Well, I think that's enough of that.

EVELYN: Can't we at least see what they're saying about it on channel 11?

MARGE: I think we've heard everything we need to.

ELLEN: I'm with Evelyn, I think we should keep up with this - it sounds pretty serious.

MARGE: Well, it sounds to me like they still don't have any idea what's going on over there.

ELLEN: I don't know, it sounded pretty clear to me.

EVELYN: Do you think they could be overestimating?

MARGE: I don't think we can say anything definitive until we know more. Let's get to work.

EVELYN: It didn't say whether or not they had caught Larry - maybe he'll call me and let me know himself.

MARGE: Well, just standing here waiting isn't going to accomplish anything.

EVELYN: No, I guess it isn't...

They all slowly get to work, Evelyn a little more reluctantly than the others. Every time a phone rings, she perks up thinking it's for her, but it never is. Eventually, JOANNE comes into the office carrying a mail crate.

JOANNE: Morning, ladies. Have you seen the news?

MARGE (terse)Yes, we have.

ELLEN: Have they confirmed more dead?

EVELYN: Did they catch my Larry?

JOANNE: You mean you haven't seen?

She drops the mail crate, grabs the remote and turns the TV back on. 

ANCHOR: …all pronounced dead on the scene. Again, if you're just joining us - a shooting rampage within the holding area of the Tarses County Maximum Security Prison. Among the dead are not only Westphalia Plaza suspect Lawrence Anders, but also recent accused assailants Charles Yates and William Gibson. We're still waiting on more detailed reports to inform us how alleged attacker Russell Parker was able to sneak a weapon into the facility, but from what we're being told he was able to inflict multiple stab wounds upon his victims before he was subdued. Again, a fatal assault at the Tarses County Maximum Security--

Marge grabs the remote and turns the TV off.

MARGE: What a bunch of absolute lies. 

EVELYN: Did they say that they were all dead?

ELLEN: Stab wounds? In a prison? Were they all just waiting in line?

JOANNE: I don't know how he did it, but I always knew he had it in him.

MARGE: None of it's confirmed - it sounds like a bunch of careless rumor. 

EVELYN: I still haven't heard from my Larry...

ELLEN: Stab wounds?

JOANNE: Well, look, all I know is that Parker was in his room most of this past week planning something, and I'm not saying for sure that it was this, but me and his father always knew that as soon as he put his mind to something and really did the work, there would be no limit to what he would be able to--

An impact blast sounds from somewhere down the hall.

EVELYN: What was that?

MARGE: Probably just a car backfiring.

ELLEN: Sounded like a mortar burst.

JOANNE: Maybe we should check and see--

EVELYN: I think we should probably just stay here for now, don't you?

MARGE: I think you should get back to work.

JOANNE: It sounded like it was all the way down on...

She opens the door and slips out into the hall. There are more gunshots. She doesn't return. The others listen for a moment.

MARGE: Joanne...?

She moves towards the door. 

EVELYN: Wait, don't!

MARGE: I bet it's that damn Habersham woman's boy. She's always been so snooty.

ELLEN: I always thought he was gay.

EVELYN: Maybe we should call somebody?

MARGE: What are you talking about, he was homecoming king two years in a row. 

EVELYN: Doesn't it sound like they're getting closer?

ELLEN: But he's never had a girlfriend, has he? I mean, a real one. He's never brought anybody around here.

MARGE: I always just assumed he was shy.

EVELYN: Wait, what's that--?

Gunshots.

The lights go out.

More gunshots, increasing in volume.

- cs