May 27, 2021

Part 11: The Sect

THE SECT

 

Static

Arthur: (Whispering) We need answers.

John: They may very well have them, but I doubt they’ll give them willingly.

Then we’ll subdue them.

Bold. The mask?

We’ll take it, but…

But for now you need to act.

Yes. Is there anywhere we can hide?

There’s a tall wardrobe in the corner of the room.

Right.

Faucet running

Arthur, the blinds!

Fabric flapping, Arthur grunts

Right. It’s in front of you.

Wardrobe door opening

Don’t shut it, so I can see.

Wardrobe door swings closed, bathroom door opens

The bathroom is open, the light from it is spilling out into the dark room now, casting a hard shadow on the wall of the room.

Footsteps

 There is movement… the figure stepped out, maybe it’s a man… I can barely see his face. He’s naked from head to toe. In the hard light coming from the bathroom he seems… scarred. His body ripe with bruises and large welts. In certain places hardened skin like that of old broken wounds seem numerous and accented. I can’t see his face but his head is bald and bleeding, lines of red are drawn from his scalp to his chin as blood has dripped and dried. He’s moving slowly as if in a stupor.

Footsteps

The light is minimal but he’s keeping it on. He’s moved across the room and over to the foot of the bed.

Raspy breathing

Wait… he’s looking around. I don’t know if he’s… Arthur… he’s sniffing the air. He’s coming this way…

Raspy breathing draws closer

Arthur- Arthur… Now!

Arthur grunts, wardrobe doors burst open, sounds of a struggle, glass breaking

Thud

Arthur, he’s broken free! He’s running for his suitcase.

Where?

Left- The other left!

Arthur panting

Fuck! Arthur he has a knife… Arthur draw your pistol.

Stop!

A little to our right Arthur… there.

Drop the knife.

He’s not moving.

I will fucking kill you if you don’t put that knife down.

He’s smiling…

You… look, all I want are answers. Maybe we can-

He’s studying you with an odd… elation…

Just help me. Help me understand what the fuck is going on!

He’s raising the knife… he’s raised it to his own throat.

NO!

Knife slices, choking, blood splattering

(Shakily) Oh my God. Jesus Christ…

He slit his own throat.

What the fuck. Why?

The veins in his neck broke open like a geyser. He sprayed your pants and a fair portion of the room.

Just- just give me a second.

Sorry.

What the fuck. Why would he…

Obviously he felt threatened.

Yes, but to what extent? To go from fighting to- to…

There may have been more to it, perhaps the madness of the King was also within him.

That doesn’t make me feel any better.

No, I suppose not.

Thump, Arthur breathing shakily

Arthur, maybe we should keep moving.

Why?

Why what?

Why what? Why bother? Every time we get a little closer something pushes us three steps back, John! At what point do we-

Are you serious? Arthur, we’re sitting next to a pallid mask, a direct connection with the King in Yellow. We have, at our feet, a presumed devotee of his, all his belongings, and a [tale] around us and you feel like calling it quits?

I just…

No. Listen to me! We’re not going to spin down another hole of self-pity. We’ve come too close!

Alright, alright.

Now get up!

Movement

The body…

Ignore the body for now, this room is filled with answers, to at least who this man was. Move to your left, there’s a small table which he’s laid out his suitcase. I want to see if there’s anything that reveals who he is.

Footsteps

The suitcase is already partially laid out, oddly neat.

What is in here?

Personal hygiene items. Handkerchief, toothbrush, comb, pomade… there, near the top, there’s a business card.

His?

Possibly. ‘Doctor Gilbert Holt*’.

Doctor?

Yes.

What the hell happened? Why was he-

Study the evidence.

Right… right. Mind you, I suppose all of this can be explained away by the origins of a cult.

Meaning?

Well it doesn’t matter day to day, if you belong to a society like this one they often manipulate those around them with sociopathic behaviour to hide the beliefs from the outside world.

Maybe.

There’s not enough to even guess at his motivations.

[Sigh] Head to the bed, behind you.

Footsteps

The mask is laying here. It’s sitting almost as if being presented on a wooden briefcase… laying atop what looks to be a robe of sorts, a hooded cloak.

Hm.

Damn.

What?

The mask is covered in blood.

Fuck. Let’s… wash it off.

Right.

Footsteps, bathroom door creaks open

Oh…

What?

The bathroom sink is covered in blood and hair.

Why?

It looks like he roughly shaved his head in the sink with a straight razor.

Jesus…

Footsteps, faucet turns on

The mask it… it holds the same mouthless features as the one I saw back in Arkham. It has oval eyes that seem lifeless and yet the crude-cut corners of the mask’s forehead and jawline seem almost brutalist. It looks as though it’s made of… a thin stone or heavy plaster, I’m not sure.

Water splashing

Does it seem… powerful?

No, it… it seems mundane for the most part but… comforting.

Comforting?

Yes, I… I don’t know why…

Right, well let’s hope it’s waterproof.

Water splashing, faucet turns off

Alright… John?

Hm?

Are you with me?

Footsteps

Yes… yes, just er…

You’re tracing the lines on the mask's face and eyes…

[Sigh] Right… Let’s see if there’s anything else out there that can frame all of this.

Right.

Maybe open the window again for more light.

Footsteps, curtains flap open

Better?

Better. Wait!

What?

There’s a car here now.

A car?

Yes, out front of the hotel.

Well, what the fuck does that mean?

I don’t know, other than-

Knocking on door

[Gasp] Oh my God.

Fuck.

(Quietly) Oh my god. Fuck… God.

Arthur, calm down.

Does the window open? Is there a fire escape?

Yes.

Well then-

Arthur.

What?

This is why we’re here. We came to the city to find out more about the cult, don’t go limp on me now.

Right… right. [Sigh]

We can escape through the window and run away without finding any real answers, or…

Or don the mask and robe.

Exactly. They’re here for the man on the floor, we could hide the body, don the mask and robe, and meet them face to face, finally getting to the bottom of this. What do you say?

I say that if we ever want a chance to find a way to separate you and I, this is our only shot.

Well then, let’s hope it fits.

Clothes rustling, knocking comes again

Wait, move the body first.

Oh, right. Where?

Into the bathroom, quickly.

Body dragging, Arthur straining

Bathroom door opens, body dragging, door closes

Alright, now get dressed.

Clothes rustling

The rats?

Clearly aren’t interested in them. Hurry.

Clothes rustling

Alright, head to the mirror. Quickly.

Footsteps

There.

(Muffled) [Sigh] Well?

I… yes… I think this works.

Okay well, here goes nothing…

Hotel room door creaks open

Arthur there are three men standing at the door, all wearing the same mask that you are, however all of them are in plain clothes. The two at the back are wearing dull brown suits, slightly frayed at the edges as if well worn or old, but the one in the center, right before us, is wearing a smart grey suit. He’s… studying us… like a confused animal, his head slightly tilted to one side.

Cultist 1: Welcome.

He’s holding a hand out to us, Arthur. It’s a hard, calloused hand with deep scars along the fingertips running the length of his hand.

Thank you.

Arthur shakes the hand

He’s leaning slightly, he’s trying to look over our shoulder into the room, lean to block it… the other side.

Movement

His eyes, Arthur… they’re not exactly grey but… they have a deep, unnerving green in them. The pupils are tight and almost non-existent. He’s studying every part of your face.

Cultist: Well then, shall we begin?

Cultist 2: (Quietly) Yes.

They’ve stepped back and begun down the hall, follow them!

Footsteps, door closes

They’re walking quietly in a line; they don’t seem concerned about the rats. Perhaps they hadn’t seen them.

Footsteps

They walk with an odd sense of serenity, as if they were on vacation. Not joyous, exactly, but if I didn’t know better I’d assume they were on their way to a party.

Footsteps

They’re taking us down to the end of the hall where the stairs are… wait… the lead one is stopping. He’s turning to us while the others are continuing downstairs.

Cultist 1: This way Doctor. We’re going to do the test first.

Whispering Voice: Of course.

Arthur he’s pointing upstairs to the top floor of the hotel. His eyes are dancing between yours, cold and calculating.

Of course.

He started moving again, leading you up the stairs.

Stairs creaking

We’re on the top floor now. The hallway goes both ways but he’s turned and is gesturing to the right. He’s still leading the way. This hallway is leading towards a suite; two large double doors are ajar and straight ahead.

Clothes rustling, footsteps

The man is removing his suit jacket but his mask is staying on.

Doors opening

The doors to the suite are opening, there are another two men, these ones wearing the robes as well as the masks. They’ve nodded to him and have stepped outside on either side of the doors, giving us the room.

Footsteps

He’s entered. They’re nodding to you too now, I don’t know about this, Arthur…

Footsteps

 The door is straight ahead.

Arthur pauses, breathes shakily

They can see you hesitate, just go inside.

Footsteps, door closes

This is a suite. It’s run down and decrepit, there are-

Cultist 1: Have a seat.

Whispering Voice: Yes

He’s already sitting across a desk to the left of you, move quickly, he’s gesturing to a seat opposite him.

Footsteps

There!

Arthur sits

Arthur, I think he’s waiting for you to do something…

Cultist 1: Roll up your sleeve.

Whispering Voice: [inaudible]

Oh, there’s a man standing next to us with a needle, he’s not wearing a mask but he does have gloves on. Arthur…

I… do I…?

He’s tilting his head again, the man standing beside you is looking perplexed.  Er… your left arm.

Movement, Arthur gasps

They’re… drawing your blood. The room is worn but seems to have a few people occupying this space, though none are here now. The desk the man is sitting at is an office desk of sorts… it’s dark wood and finished with-

Cultist 1: We must be certain.

Whispering Voice: Yes.

John: Certain of what?

Of course.

He’s leaning forward and opening a folio on the desk in front of him, the man next to you has just finished drawing a vial of blood from you.

Rustling, movement

He’s removed the needle, you may want to stop the bleeding.

Cultist 1: A woman lay dead before you, a second woman weeps by a fire. She holds an infant in her arms, she smiles at you and extends her arms out, offering you the infant. Do you take it?

Whispering Voice: Yes.

John: What!?

I- I’m sorry?

Cultist 1: Do you take it?

Arthur… Jesus fucking Christ… say no, just say no!

No… no.

There’s no way he could have known that! It isn’t-

Cultist 1: A man asks for your help, he explains there are voices in his head that make him do terrible things. He asks if you hear them too. Do you tell him?

Whispering Voice: Yes

John: I… There is-

Do I tell him what? No, I- I don’t tell him anything.

Rustling

There’s no way he could have known about any of this. The baby, Kellin-

Cultist 1: A creature consumed by grief searches the darkness for comfort. Her actions, however, are questionable, and her appearance horrid. Do you kill her?

The island… and the creature beneath, the one you killed with the rock. Arthur, whatever you do, do not-

Yes.

Chair creaking

I kill her.

Whispering Voice: Yes.

Arthur… why? Look I don’t know how he’s gotten these questions… he’s reading them from the folio in front of him. He’s looking at us intently, his eyes searching ours for a sign… it looks like he’s done. There is no way he-

Cultist 1: Please, remove your mask.

Er…

Arthur if you remove your mask he may realize that you are not that doctor. He may-

Alright.

Are you sure?

Rustling, Arthur removes the mask

He’s studying your face, drawing lines around your mouth with his eyes and studying every corner greedily. His eyes flick frantically between yours, as if searching for something… as if searching for-

Chair creaking

He stood up. He’s moving to the door…

Footsteps, door opens, closes

He’s left. [Sigh] Look around for a moment, we’re alone now.

The doctor who drew my blood?

Gone.

[Sigh] Well. What the fuck was that about?

I have no idea.

Those questions, how could he have known- they were exactly-

I know. It’s as if he’s been following us… following our story.

What does this mean!?

I have no idea. Perhaps he-

Did he leave the folio? The one he read the questions from?

Yes.

Chair creaking, footsteps

What other questions are on it?

None.

N- What about the ones he read?

No, there are none, Arthur.

What?

There is nothing on this page.

But he wrote…

The page is completely blank.

I… I don’t understand. What paper is this?

It’s not paper, it’s thick… like leather or hide.

Skin?

Maybe.

Jesus Christ. We have to… why did he leave? Do you think he recognized us?

I mean… if he knew this much about us, then…

Movement

This desk, is there anything on it? Anything else? Was he just making up the questions?

I don’t see anything… there are some drawers.

Anything in them?

Drawers opening

No. They’re empty.

Footsteps

[Sigh] This room, you mentioned it was decrepit, but it’s a master suite?

Yes.

And that others have been sleeping here, are there things still here?

There are cots, along with a master bed. I do see bags near them. If you want to look, let's be quick, he could be back any moment.

Footsteps

There! There’s one next to you.

Arthur grunts, bag being dragged, rustling

Anything?

Nothing of… wait, yes, there’s a wallet here.

Ah.

Money… ID!

For who?

Churchman, Doug.

Any sign of what he does?

No, it’s a license for this state though.

[Sigh] Right.

Let’s head back to the desk for when he returns.

Bag being replaced, footsteps

We have a hotel, seemingly abandoned, and a cult that seems to have occupied it. They’ve come from all over, at least this state, and they took my blood... and asking these questions, to whom? Everyone involved?

Maybe. Maybe it’s just you they’ve asked.

Why?

Regardless, I am sure he will be back any minute.

Footsteps

Wait, where are you heading?

I want to listen at the door for a moment, see if we can hear anything, sense if anyone is out there.

Fine.

Footsteps, silence

(Whispering) I don’t hear anything, do you?

No, I don’t hear anything. I wonder if the men are still out there… wait, let’s try the door.

(Whispering) Why?

He didn’t say ‘wait’, did he?

(Whispering) He didn’t say anything.

Just try it.

Doorknob rattles

It’s locked…

I thought so.

Well, what the fuck are we supposed to do now?

Let’s just wait. Go back and sit down, I doubt they’re going to light the hotel on fire. They outnumber us and if they want us dead they’ll make it happen in easier ways.

Comforting thought, John.

Rustling, Arthur sits down

Oh, I should put this back on.

Right.

Arthur puts the mask back on

Wait…

What?

He was wearing this mask while he interviewed me…

Yes, why?

You don’t think…

What?

This may be a shot in the dark but…

Chair creaking, movement

Is there anything on the page now?

Arthur… yes there is!

What does this mean, how can-

I don’t know, but now it is clear, as if it has always been there.

What does it say?

The questions that he asked are here… including some more.

Like what?

One says: ‘You awaken on a beach, near the water a severed head lay. It speaks to you…’ Jesus, Arthur…

Whispering Voice: Yes

Another says: ‘You arrive at a hotel, you can enter through the chained back door…’

Whispering voice: Of course.

God…

What the fuck?

I have no idea. There is no way to- wait…

What?

Arthur… this isn’t just about what has happened…

What do you mean?

You exit a master suite to a darkened hotel hallway; it is empty and devoid of life. A creature stalks the hotel, searching for you… the basement is your only salvation, but it is hungry for your flesh. Do you hide?

… Creature?

Growling

Arthur…

John…

We need to hide.

Hold on, it says ‘you exit the master suite’, [Arthur removes the mask] meaning we have to leave first.

But it says ‘hide’!

We need to get to the basement.

You want to go out there? Hide now, while we can!

Look, I don’t know why this man or this organization seems to know everything about us or what we’ve done… but it’s all right here on the page.

But all of these are choices, none of the results of those choices are laid out, Arthur.

No, we need to stay the path.

“Stay the path”? Are you listening to yourself? What chance do we have if you think we have no say in any of this?

What- what do you mean?

I mean if this cult knows what happens next, fuck them.

Movement

No. I can’t chance it.

Way to be your own person, Arthur.

Fuck you! I’m keeping us alive.

You’re being a puppet and you don’t even see it.

Where’s the door?

Same place as it was previous.

Fuck off. Stop being such a petulant child and help me keep us alive.

[Sigh] It’s to your right.

Creature crying out

It sounds like…

I don’t know… nothing I’ve ever heard. How do you plan on making this work?

I don’t know… move very slowly.

Good luck.

Door opens

The hallway is darker than I remember. The sun reaches the room behind us, but here in the hallway it seems more claustrophobic.

Do you see anything?

Nothing immediately jumps out, no. There is some debris down the hall, some torn carpet… a cart on it’s side, some building supplies.

Is there any way to the basement that you can see?

Besides the main stairs that we came up? No.

Where did the sound come from?

It sounded like it was…

Creature crying out

Down the hall.

But you don’t see-

Wait… I think I do see something moving. It’s just before the stairwell, maybe at it.

Movement, clattering

It’s obscured by some old building equipment, pipes and whatnot, but… I see it moving ever so slightly, as if it’s… maybe eating something. I can only see the rise and fall of its back.

What does it look like?

It’s difficult in the dim light but… it looks like grey skin, wrinkled… piled up almost.

Let’s move, quietly. See how far we can get.

You don’t want to hide?

Where? Are there any rooms open?

Not before the stairs, no.

Well then perhaps we need to hide further down. Just let me know when we’re close.

Creature moving, grunting

You’re approaching the cart.

Creature cries out

That sound, it feels… familiar.

Arthur, you’re getting close.

Wait!

Arthur trips, falls

What the fuck did I just trip on?

I don’t know… a wire. Someone has strung a wire across the hall.

Did it spot us?

No… it seems fixated on whatever is behind the debris. Like I said, it might be eating.

Well, we need to pass it.

Head wide to the right.

Creature cries out

Wait… I do know that sound.

No, but- Arthur!

Movement, clattering

Arthur, you’re almost on it, it’s just at the stairs.

Yes, can you see it?

No, I… [sigh] a little higher.

Well?

It’s… I think it’s a deer.

A deer? Yes, I thought it sounded like-

But it’s wrapped up in a grey… I don’t know how to describe it… a wire?

A metal wire? Like what I tripped over? Maybe it was caught it-

No, neither were metal, more organic, more like… like webbing.

Webbing?

Yes.

Like a spider.

Wait…

Creature hissing, Arthur gasps

Arthur!

Web fires, thudding sounds, Arthur running

Arthur, it’s behind us! Move!

Cracking, heavy thudding footsteps, hissing

What the fuck is-

It is a massive, black and violet spider. It was just above the stairwell, perched as if…

As if waiting…

Run!

Spider squeals, web fires, Arthur falls

Arthur, get up!

My foot, it’s caught!

It’s another web, Arthur.

I’m trying! I’m trying!

Spider’s footsteps thudding, Arthur struggling

[Gasp] This spider is massive. It’s long, spindly legs fill almost the entire hallway. It bends them up in unnatural fashion as it squeezes it’s bloated sickly purple and black torso towards us, stabbing at the walls with each step.

You’re not helping, John!

It’s legs, they’re covered in polyp like growths which branch off of it, tumour-like and violet. Its mouth is filled with hanging tentacle-like feelers that writhe as they taste the air for us…

Shut up, John, and fucking help me!

Ugh… There, rip it. That, your robe is caught. Rip!

Fabric tearing, Arthur grunting, running

Quickly, there are double doors ahead, glass doors. The spider’s size is making it difficult to follow speedily but it’s coming. This looks like it may lead to a conference room- quickly!

Please be open…

It’s right on us!

Door thudding

Yes!

Spider squeals

It’s wedged one of its legs in the door, Arthur push!

Arthur straining, spider’s leg crunching

Keep holding, Arthur, keep holding…

Cracking, crunching

Now! Now! Shut it!

Door slams shut, spider shrieks

[Panting] We need to move.

We need to hide.

Spider shrieking, beating against door

Right! Where?

This room is filled with a large table and stacked chairs.

Is there any room under the table?

Yes, but they’re pretty open. You could stack chairs-

What else?

I don’t know, there looks to be a back room.

Spider beating against the door

Arthur, it is going to break down the door in seconds, move. Follow the wall, there!

What’s in here?

It’s some dishware… an empty hamper, a laundry chute.

A laundry chute?

Yes.

Could we fit?

I think so.

Crash

Arthur the door!

Guide me to the table so we can hide.

Left… crouch… lay on your stomach.

Door shatters, spider enters, heavy footsteps thudding, hissing.

Dishes shattering, spider hissing.

Arthur, this creature… it moves about the room with intellect, searching with its many eyes for us. Its feet drive into the plaster walls leaving chips on the floor. Its engorged abdomen is covered in hard black spikes, and the wet, greasy hairs on its head seem to move, as if feeling the air… it's almost upon us now… hold your breath!

Heavy footsteps thudding, spider hissing

Wait… underneath, just below it’s sternum… there’s a red strip of flesh. Everything else is covered in chitinous black and purple armour but… for what it’s worth, that looks to be a weak spot.

Slam, thudding footsteps

It’s… backing away now, moving towards the back of the room… Arthur, we have a clear shot towards the stairwell, we could run and take the stairs… however, we could also try to navigate around this creature and head for that laundry chute. Which should we try?

Spider hissing, moving around

(Whispering) The laundry chute.

Alright. Listen to me, and stay low. There’s a broken piece of wood beside us, grab it. Quietly. Start to move… now. Crawl out but stay low, moving to your right as you do.

Spider moving

Okay, stop!

Spider moving, footsteps thudding

Alright, throw the wood to your left in a high arc, and then hug the wall, moving along it quickly to the door. The chute is on your left once you’ve entered. Ready? Now!

Arthur grunts, wood clatters in the distance, spider squeals and follows.

Arthur runs

To the left! In, Arthur, get in.

Laundry chute squeaks open, Arthur straining.

Metallic thudding, Arthur falling down laundry chute

Argh, what- what’s happened? Have we reached the bottom?

We’re stuck.

Where?

I don’t know, but we didn’t fall very far, maybe only a floor or two.

[Panting] Do you… do you see a way out?

I’m as blind as you in the darkness, Arthur.

Rustling, lighter clicks

Better now?

Yes… it looks like the chute below us is plugged.

With what?

Clothes? I don’t know, Arthur.

Is the spider following?

I don’t see how it could.

Well, that’ll buy us some time. We can’t crawl all the way back up.

No, but luckily I see another chute just a little ways above us. You’ll need to climb up a little bit.

Straight up?

Yes. You can do this, Arthur.

[Sigh]

Arthur grunting, metal squeaking, clattering

[Panting] Argh… and I thought the caves were claustrophobic.

Save your breath.

Clattering, Arthur straining

Are we almost there?

Just a little farther.

Clattering

There!

Arthur grunts, tumbles out of the chute

[Sigh] Jesus.

Well, we’re not in the basement.

No, but is there any sign of where we are?

Again, it’s far too dark in here. Strike the lighter again.

Lighter flicks

We’re in another linen room, only this one is in far worse a state.

Worse? How?

It looks like it’s been tossed, maybe.

As if someone were searching for something?

In a way… maybe someone just wanted to make a mess of things.

[Sigh] Where the fuck did that spider come from? When we first came through the hotel it was nowhere to be seen.

Doesn’t mean it wasn’t here.

I don’t see how that’s possible, the other people were-

I don’t think you fully understand what you’re dealing with here.

What do you mean?

These creatures… the rats, the spider, they’re not from this world, Arthur.

Well, I assumed that much. Are they from the Dark World?

No. Some perhaps I’ve seen before, but… as I said, nothing comes back from the Dark World.

Until you.

Footsteps

So where do these come from?

I don’t know. Something in this town has soured. There’s a thinning between worlds, a bridge between realities that shouldn’t exist.

I dread what kind of nightmares exist in that reality.

We need to tread carefully, that spider was clever. It had a cold intellect about it.

Where did everyone go all of a sudden? I- I don’t understand why, one minute we’re in a room with three men and then suddenly only that… monstrous thing roams the halls.

Perhaps they let it out.

Why?

The motivations of this cult are anything but understandable at this point. Let’s just focus on surviving.

And getting to the basement.

[Sigh] Sure.

Footsteps

There’s no light anywhere, so move slowly and keep the flame lit.

Footsteps

There. The door is beside you.

Door creaks open, shut

Where are we now?

I think we’re in a hallway again, only… there’s still no light. I can only see as far as the lighter reveals.

So you can’t see the walls?

No, which is why I’m guessing. Maybe bring the lighter out farther. Move slowly.

Slow footsteps

I don’t hear it.

I don’t hear anything. Maybe move to a wall, I’m starting to think this isn’t the hallway.

Footsteps

Well?

It’s… worn. The wallpaper is peeling. Maybe try by your feet… there. There’s a piece of cloth and a broken piece of wood, I think you can fashion a sort of torch. It’ll give us a better view at least.

Right.

Rustling, fabric tearing

Once we have a bit more light the basement will be-

Why are you so hellbent on getting to the basement?

Didn’t you read what the paper said? The basement is-

Arthur, why are you following something written on paper? I don’t understand why you believe you have no free will in this.

I do. We do. I just…

Just what?

There must be something bigger than you and I. How do you explain all that has transpired? How does it make sense otherwise?

Piano score begins to play

Arthur… early on I told you that trying to apply reason to what is happening is only going to lead you to madness.

Well, seeing as how we are trapped in a hotel by a monstrous spider, I’d say madness has found us.

Piano score ends

There, done.

Torch lights, flames sparking

More light? John? Can you see now? John?

We need to move.

Why? What is-

This is its home.

W-what’s home?

Desiccated corpses line the walls, Arthur.

What?

Webbing is strung from wall to wall, bones litter the floor. The gaunt faces of animals and humans drained of all life dot the grey, web-covered walls. This is a tomb! Lift your leg high and take a big step forward… that far, yes! Move quickly but listen for when I say stop.

Footsteps

I don’t hear the spider anymore, maybe it’s given up.

No… I think it’s hunting. Arthur, kill the torch.

Flames hissing out

I see the dim light of the stairwell, it’s covered in webs but… wait…

What?

I see it. It’s crawling its way across the ceiling… it hasn’t seen us yet. Arthur, don’t breathe.

Spider moving

It moves slowly as if trying to catch us off guard, it’s tasting the air. Arthur, move. Slowly, don’t run.

Spider hissing, Arthur breathing shakily

The stairs are to your left, head down them, quickly.

Footsteps on stairs

Keep going.

Is it…

I think it’s behind us, yes.

(Shakily) Jesus.

This is the ground floor, beside you is the door leading to the basement… but…

But what?

Arthur we can also leave. The back door is still open, it’s just around the corner.

Now?

[Sigh]

You want to give in now?

Something about this place, these people, this creature. I want answers, same as you, but…

But what, John?

At what cost? If finding these answers means-

It means we get our lives back. It means-

Does it though? Let’s say we get answers, let’s say we get a book that separates us, what then Arthur? Where do I go?

Why are you suddenly saying this? Hours ago, you-

Hours ago I wasn’t reading your story laid out before us on a piece of paper as if we were pawns.

Why does that matter?

It matters because I don’t know who I am.

I… I don’t…

Arthur, I want you to really listen to me now. Have you considered the possibility that I may take this body from you if I have the chance?

Would you?

I don’t know. There are things I remember about this world, about the Dark World and about… more… things that don’t make me feel like I was on the right side of this.

Why are you telling me this, then?

I don’t know.

I think you do know. I think it’s because, regardless of what you are or where you’ve come from, you’ve changed. Maybe it was that time in the hospital, maybe it was seeing some of the truths of our world, maybe it was just seeing things through my eyes, but… I’ve come to trust you, John. And I haven’t said that enough.

Do you?

Yes. And I trust that you wouldn’t… abandon me. Even if what we find out reveals a truth about you that challenges that feeling. I trust you.

You shouldn’t. It’ll be the death of you, Arthur. We should leave right now, and never come back.

Static

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Transcribed by Eggsy39, thank you so much for their time and commitment to making this all possible.


*The name given in the audio differs from the name written in the transcript, it has been changed to Gilbert Holt due to privacy reasons