Short Treatment 30 - Are You Okay?

Margaret is the elite personal assistant of Juliette Martin, a brilliant inventor and businesswoman at the forefront of modern robotics. Margaret is remarkably talented and intelligent in her own right, but working directly under Juliette would make anyone seem dull in comparison.

Margaret is often forced into demeaning tasks - she's not just there for important things, but for private things, like holding Juliette's hair as she vomits, or giving her body waxes. Whenever she's tempted to give up, though, Juliette reminds her that one day, Margaret will replace her, and it's enough to keep Margaret going.

One of Margaret’s more unpleasant duties is to play chaperone when Juliette goes on an extravagant bender, often spanning several days (and countries). She’ll be rescheduling meetings and placating upset buyers even as she’s holding Juliette’s hair and cleaning up vomit - plus she’ll often get enlisted to obtain ever more exotic and dangerous drugs and alcohol. It’s enough that she’s developed a bit of a coke habit herself, though it hasn’t quite reached the level of addiction.

After a particularly outrageous bacchanal in Prague gets a little too indulgent, Margaret tries to pry Juliette away from a dark man with bright red eyes, but Juliette shoos her away, and some of man’s friends “escort” her off premises. She doesn’t hear from Juliette for almost 48 hours.

Then, in the middle of the night, when Margaret is in the office hoping she’ll show up, just about decided to call the police, Juliette appears out of nowhere and scares the daylights out of her. Any inquiries about where she’s been are just blown off out of hand. She’s pale, and Margaret asks if she can get her anything, or if she should call a doctor. Juliette laughs; she never felt better in her entire life. She shoos Margaret away so she can get some work done.

Margaret arrives the next morning to find Juliette locked in her office with blackout curtains drawn. The blackout curtains weren’t there when she left last night. Juliette glares at Margaret for letting the light in when she opened the door.

When she hears Juliette hasn’t slept, Margaret puts her foot down - Juliette needs sleep, and probably to see a doctor. Juliette locks eyes with Margaret, and Margaret suddenly finds herself quite suggestible. “I don’t need anything. Leave me alone.” Margaret obeys, though she doesn’t really remember why as soon as she’s outside the room. The lock clicks behind her, and she gets back to work, only interacting with Juliette over text and intercom.

After the sun has long set, Margaret is getting ready to go home, and Juliette leaves the office dressed for a night on the town. She tries to encourage Margaret to join her, but Margaret is exhausted and doesn’t want to - she’s not sure how Juliette is doing it. How much coke is Juliette doing?

The next day, Margaret arrives at the office to find Juliette completely barricaded in her blacked-out room. Margaret assumes she’s just hungover to the max, and puts her foot down. She storms in the room, “That’s it. No more nights out, and you’re getting some sunlight.”

She throws open one of the blackout curtains, and Juliette HISSES and recoils from the sun. Even weirder - the skin on her arm where the sun touched her is burned, pretty badly. Margaret doesn’t realize that’s new, and tries to drag Juliette to the doctor, until Juliette points out it’s already healing.

Margaret stares. Can’t wrap her mind around it. Juliette tells her to close the door and lock it. Margaret does.

Juliette lays out the score - she’s a vampire now, and no, don’t bother asking any questions about it, because she won’t answer them, and she definitely won’t turn Margaret. Margaret is already trained not to question Juliette, so she just rolls with it. “How can I help?”

Turns out, that’s a great question. While vampirism comes with some huge pluses, like immortality and a sort-of lack of sleep (she gets groggy during the day), it also has some obstacles to overcome. Most obviously, she can’t let the sun’s rays touch her. This is a problem for someone who’s running a company of people who work during the day.

Luckily, she has a solution: Margaret has already functions as a go-between a lot of the time anyway. Throw in an earpiece and a bodycam, and Juliette can govern entirely through Margaret.

Margaret isn’t thrilled - it’s not like she doesn’t have other jobs to do - but when Juliette assures her they’ll hire assistants to take care of that stuff, she agrees.

Margaret does ask about blood, but Juliette isn’t worried about that - she’s into all sorts of freaky party scenes anyway, she can get all she needs, no problem.

Life progresses quickly. Margaret starts taking meetings, overworking her assistant, and generally being Juliette. She takes to it like a fish to water, even if the stress is through the roof now. Juliette is somehow even more extreme and unpredictable, demanding ever more of Margaret and getting angrier when things don't go exactly her way.

Margaret starts making some additions to her wardrobe. She wears glasses, which makes it so Juliette can't hypnotize her. She gets garlic body spray, keeping Juliette just a little at bay. She keeps a crucifix under her blouse.

One day, after everything goes right for Margaret, she wakes up Juliette to give her the day's report, and Juliette just doesn't give a shit. She's mad about something petty, flips out, threatens to kill Margaret, and maybe might have if not for Margaret's quick redirect to a business rival who's recently cheated them. Juliette goes out for vengeance, and Margaret adjusts the automatic blinds to open at noon tomorrow.

The next day, she wakes Juliette up at 11:50 for some made-up reason, after emptying the office for another made-up reason. She's defiant, and Juliette can tell. Juliette tries to mind-control her, but realizes she can't through the glasses. She pins Margaret to the wall, but can't suck her blood because of the body spray. Then Margaret draws the crucifix and pins Juliette to the wall. She's basking in her victory when Juliette knocks her glasses off and dominates her.

Juliette makes her break the crucifix; grab a wet-wipe; clean off a spot on her neck; and walk over to Juliette. You can see in her eyes that Margaret is terrified.

Just as Juliette is about to kill her, the blinds open, and Juliette bursts into flames. She disintegrates into ash.

Margaret catches her breath. Brushes herself off.

Goes about her day.

She starts a missing persons campaign looking for Margaret and heroically, reluctantly, takes over the company. She’s a tragic hero that gets plenty of press time.

But it’s a lot of bad press. This is less Tim Cook taking over after Steve Jobs, and more Steve Ballmer taking over after Bill Gates. Even the people who think she’ll do a good job think she’s kind of a joke compared to Juliette, and those are the nicest opinions

Margaret is pissed, and it affects her leadership. She rules the company with an iron fist - while Juliette was harsh in a “I have impossibly high standards” way that people could accept as the cost of greatness, Margaret is harsh in a “I’m frustrated and I’m gonna take it out on everyone around me” kind of way. Even if she was running the company as well as Juliette otherwise, performance would still be down across the board. As it is, the company tanks.

Margaret finally realizes her problem is that she’s trying to be Juliette, trying to run the company in a way that she’ll replace her. But she can’t replace her. She needs to run the company as Margaret.

She changes her attitude, and things start looking up. The company stops its decline, and very slowly starts to improve, and it’s all thanks to her.

Then, one night, when she’s working alone at the office, a vampire shows up. The man with the red eyes who turned Juliette.

She asks him what he wants. He says he knows she killed Juliette. He wants to kill Margaret in revenge, but he’s willing to make a deal instead.

She’ll do anything, she says. So he agrees to spare her in exchange for him replacing Juliette as the ruler in the shadows.

The final scene before the credits is Margaret being forced to backtrack on a new initiative she’d pioneered, as she looks over her shoulder at the vampire watching her from the shadows.

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