Oct. 21, 2021

Part 16: The Path

THE PATH



Eerie strings play

MOVE! You’re falling right into what it wants. Goddamnit, move, Arthur!

[Entranced] I… I don’t want to…

Slap!

Fuck! But it… it…

Flies buzzing

It’s telling you what you want to hear! Now move!

[Groans] Where?

Left!

Whispered voice: Why are you running?

Jesus!

Right! Stay right.

Whispered voice: Where do you plan to go?

Footsteps

Left, Arthur, again!

I… OOF!

Trips and falls

Goddammit! [winces] What the hell did we trip on?

I don’t know! Something beneath the moss. You dropped the lighter - grab it. We need to keep moving.

How? There’s no way out.

There’s...there’s something here. Beneath the moss you tripped on.

What?

Rustlings

It’s... remains

God…!

Human remains.

Fuck!

It might be the man from the boat.

God damn.

The flesh has been stripped from his body, but… the things he carried remained. There’s a large rope - he’s coiled around his body.

Okay?

Arthur stands

There’s also a lantern... a bullseye lantern with a shutter.

A lantern?

It looks strange, though… The curvature of it, the blackened metal shutter, it... It seems out of place in general.

Okay. It’ll be easier to use than the lighter.

Lighter flicks - flame catches

We need to find the way out.

Violins fade for eerie piano

Oh… Arthur… The lantern emits an odd aura. Its bullseye shutter pointedly projecting on the wall of the cavern.

Okay-

No, Arthur… A strange black smoke trails from the burning wick in a line… as if... leading us.

Leading?

Yes. I think... I think we should follow it.

Whispered voice: Where are you…?

Violins return

Move! [Arthur standing] The black tendril-like smoke is creating a path in the dim of the caves. It’s between that or randomly guessing a way out, so move!

Whispered voice: Come back...

Keep your hand on the left wall.

Whispered voice: Come back...

Left again! … Keep right.

I feel like we’re moving deeper in… Are you sure?

No, but what choice do we have? Keep the lamp up. The smoke is thin - it’s difficult to see.

Whispered voice: I smell you.

Stop! Above us. The smoke is rising straight up.

Fuck!

No, no! I can see the light of the surface!

The ceiling?

Yes. I think… I think we can break through.

Whispered voice [louder]: I’m so hungry...

NOW, Arthur!

Music intensifies

Arthur grunts and climbs out. An eldritch screech chases them and then fades, along with the music. The desert wind blows.

[Panting] Ah, Jesus… [panting, steps] Is it? Is it…?

No, it’s not following.

[Sigh] God dammit.

What the fuck is wrong with you?

What? Me?

Why didn’t you move?

I did… I co… I couldn’t help it, it...

The moss is already eating away at the bottom of your pants.

Grunting, pawing

You need to listen to me next time.

I’m sorry, I… I thought maybe it could help us.

How?

I… I-I don’t know.

Let’s just head towards the cliffs. I’m tired of this fucking desert.

How? I assume this isn’t the way we came in…?

I... The blue sun. We just need to wait again until it reveals them.

Alright.

Stands

Can we not see anything? I thought these cliffs were... massive?

No, this desert...it’s deceptive. As strange as this sounds, I’m not entirely sure the cliffs are able to be seen in any other light… until we arrive at them, that is.

This is far from home.

It’s not even a reality in the way we think of one.

Well, I at least want to get away from this hole.

Okay. Don’t forget the lantern!

Right! [Picks up lantern] What the fuck is this thing? It revealed a… a way out?

Once we lit it, the smoke that curled from it guided us. It showed a way out. It was no different than smoke otherwise - perhaps slightly thicker and more…

More what?

I don’t know. It seemed… stiff in the air. 

Jesus. It was next to the body. You said it might have been the man from the boat?

Maybe. There’s no one else out here that we’ve seen or met.

What do you suppose happened? Why did he draw the flower bulb if he didn’t want us to come here?

Faint piano music

We failed to count our steps. It’s entirely possible we were nowhere near the map’s marker.

No, but… if that were him...

Perhaps he came across it just as we did. It’s not impossible something like that could have emerged after a sandstorm… or even been dug as a trap.

It did feel like a trap. Like a… nepenthes.

A what?

A pitcher plant - it’s a carnivorous plant that catches flies by emitting a sugary secretion, and then when the flys land it… it closes its lid.

Perhaps.

Look, I’d rather walk in any direction than none right now.

And if we end up heading back to the boat? Or in the opposite direction?

[Sigh] The lantern. Did I say that we were looking for a way out before we lit it?

I don’t recall. I think so.

I wonder why it guided us.

You think it’s worth trying again?

The lighter flicks

We want to find the cliffs. [Lights - closes lantern] Anything?

Yes. Slowly, black smoke is curling up... It’s heading to the left of us.

Brilliant! Th-The left?

Yes.

Fair enough! Is it more or less a straight line?

More or less.

Hmmmm, the lantern doesn’t feel all that heavy. I’d rather save the oil for now.

Blows out the lantern

Alright. We have our direction.

Music fades. Footsteps

Did we nearly die back there?

Eerie piano plays

Yes.

Right.

Our intention is still to stay alive, isn’t it?

Of course! I-I just… felt like there was more.

More to what?

I feel it could’ve told us something. I don’t know. Don’t you feel like we keep running away from things? We don’t know who could be valuable as an ally. We don’t really know who is our enemy here, and if-

Everyone, Arthur. Everyone is our enemy. What don’t you get about that?

That’s not true! The trader, the three soldiers… Both of-

The Trader is not a friend, neither are the three soldiers. What the fuck has gotten into you?

What? Wh-What is that supposed to mean?

We’re lost in the Dreamlands, Arthur, why the fuck do you care about making allies?

Because we don’t know how to get home, John! If we run from everything we meet, we may be missing answers on how to find a way home!

I don’t know if you’re naive or ignorant, or perhaps the fact that you can’t see the landscape confuses you, but we are not safe here. I would much rather kill whatever approaches before it tries to kill us.

Well that’s a really cold way to view the world, John. If we de-

THIS ISN’T THE WORLD, ARTHUR. The sky is dark for a matter of minutes, the sands are red, the colours of the sky change minute by minute. There are creatures here that exist only in dreams. The landscape shifts and ripples like it’s alive! This is the one place we need to start treating seriously. You’re going to get us killed otherwise.

Long pause.

Do you understand? You are like a child wandering into a lion enclosure. Your preconceived notions of cartoon animals makes you think this thing wants to be your friend. It does not. Nothing here does. At most they may be indifferent.

And if we miss a chance at answers because of this overly cautious approach, then-

Then we miss a chance, but we’re alive. That’s a fair trade, Arthur, as far as I’m concerned.

Fine.

[Sigh] I lost you there for a moment, Arthur. You seemed… enthralled.

I suppose I was.

Piano music becomes melancholy

You need to be smarter than that. We need to be smarter than that. This place… it thinks it's smarter than both of us. We can’t let it be. The sky is turning blue.

Brilliant.

Piano fades in favor of eerie strings.

Yes, we’re... oh! We’re nearly there. It’s right before us, somehow hidden against the heat of the desert. Arthur, it’s...massive. This is no cliff - it’s the base of a mountain.

Wow!

Keep going.

Footsteps

Here. Stop.

Well. What now?

Well this isn’t an easy climb by any means but… the rope might help. It’s nearly a straight up wall. I recognize why cliff was a more appropriate name.

Okay.

It would be slow going.

Right… well… there’s also a chance that there could be an easier way if we walk along the wall.

True.

After all, if Frank came this way, he very well might have found a way up.

It’s your call. We can start now, right here, or spend a little time walking the wall to see if Frank found an easier way.

I don’t know why but I feel we should walk along this… cliff before trying our hand at scaling this wall.

Alright. Right or left?

Let’s go… right, since that would be where anyone coming from the boat would’ve arrived.

Okay.

Footsteps

You should put the lamp away, Arthur.

Right, you don’t think it will, ah…

It may come in handy.

I suppose we could’ve just asked it to show us the way up.

Assuming it doesn’t have a cost.

A cost?

Remember what Armitage said, Arthur - like the tooth in your pocket, or knowledge that isn’t meant for you… everything has a cost.

You think the lantern does too?

I don’t know, but if we don’t need it, I think it’s wise to leave it alone for now.

Alright.

Putting away

What is… oh, right! The glass!

Hm?

The glass that the trader gave to us. Wait, what did you see in the glass again? It was…it was a cliff, wasn’t it?

Yes! A stone bluff, I believe.

Cost aside, we should look through again.

Alright!

Rummaging. Eerie violin stinger and piano music

Yes! I see it again: a red stone bluff, high above. It’s cutting across the sky. It sits far above a red sand-filled desert -  Arthur this is the cliff we’re at now!

I knew it!

Large dunes like the ones to our right... This is the edge of this desert and again, right before the cliff stands a tall stone obelisk, the colour of sandstone -  pale yellow with what I think are carvings on it. Also there may be a hole in the side of the canyon wall!

Hahaha, amazing!

Well done.

I knew it sounded familiar.

Piano fades

Alright, so… we walk until we find this obelisk.

Yes! Glass of Leng, that’s what it was called, wasn’t it?

I believe so.

Why does it show us this? We didn’t ask it anything, we didn’t tell it to show us anything. The lantern seemed to show us what we spoke of, but this…?

I don’t know, but you’ve gathered quite a collection here.

Of things?

Yes.

Well, we’re surviving… as much as we can.

Footsteps. Arthur hums a melody

What is that?

Hm? [Melancholy] Nothing. A little... lullaby.

Yours?

No, no, it was a tune that, um... Well…

Faroe?

Let’s just say that, um… that song was special to us.

Soft piano plays

Faroe was your daughter.

…Yes.

You were married?

No.

But she was…

I was young and with someone, yes. She… Faroe’s mother… she passed away, in... when Faroe arrived.

Oh. I’m sorry, Arthur.

It’s alright.

You took care of her yourself?

Not entirely, no. I wasn’t, um... I didn’t, uh, want to... I wasn’t enough.

Not enough for what?

I had a different life, then. Focused on the wrong things. Writing…

Writing? You were a writer? Before becoming a private investigator?

No, writing music.

[Amazed] You were a composer?

Yes. Nothing of any major influence, but yes, I had a few songs that I sold that made it onto the radio. Some I didn’t sell.

And the lullaby you were just humming…?

Not one of mine, nor one I sold but, uh… but...

But what?

[Deep breath] But I told you I didn’t want to talk about this. I… I can’t talk about this… not... Just, please.

I’m sorry.

Footsteps

I see it.

Hm?

The obelisk, it’s just before us now, a few hundred feet away.

Amazing.

Are you okay?

Yes, let’s just… focus. Frank must’ve come this way, too.

Footsteps

Well… this Obelisk is massive. Tall sandstone - it reaches maybe 40 feet high.

And the carvings?

Yes.

Can you make out any of them?

No. It may be a language, but I don’t know it.

Touches the stone

It’s warm from the stars. It doesn’t feel rough like stone, though… nor exactly smooth, it... it feels…

Artificial.

Yes! [Sigh] So what the hell is this?

Mysterious piano music

I have no idea.

Okay… should we check around it’s base, maybe…?

It seems to go straight into the ground though the markings on it are not cut off. Clearly this is its entirety or at least as much as should be above the ground.

So, best guesses... A marker?

Perhaps, or, a grave site?

Rather opulent grave… a beacon?

Yes?

A sign post? Directions to another…

Desert?

[Scoff] I don’t know.

A marker.

Yeah, you think?

The hole in the canyon wall.

Right!

It must lead somewhere.

Okay, so where is the hole?

To our left. The cliff wall moves in slightly here as if this is an intended entrance into something. A pathway through the canyon, perhaps.

Footsteps

It’s right before us. Slow down - let me look. [Sounds of insect wings fluttering] The hole is large enough to fit through with ease but only about four feet wide.

Like a doorway?

Sort of, only the top is pointed like a triangle and jagged - irregular. If it was made by someone it was meant to look natural, as if the rock simply broke open one day revealing this passage.

Insects scuttling

We’re sure about this?

No. But has that stopped us before?

[Sigh] No.

Footsteps

This is a large, circular cave. The soft light from outside fills the room with a red glow. The walls are seemingly naturally occurring, however the cave is round. Its roof is not much higher than the door.

So just a cave, then?

Not entirely. The floor… it’s a round, carved ring. A circle with two steps down towards a pedestal in the center.

Like an amphitheatre?

Yes, but far too small and the steps are too shallow. This is maybe twenty feet across. Sand still covers most of the floor.

What is on the pedestal?

Footsteps

Oh wait! Wait - wait!

What?

We should… we should just look, not approach yet.

Why?

It could be a trap of some sort, we don’t-

I can’t see from here, Arthur.

[Sigh] Alright just… approach tentatively.

Footsteps

It’s a simple stone pedestal rising up maybe four feet from the center of this ring. In the center of the pedestal, also made out of stone, is a wheel… Half of it sticking out.

Half of it out?

Yes, we can only see half of the radius of the wheel - the other half is hidden in the stonework, along with what I assume is the axle. It’s like a spinning wheel, but only half exposed.

So we could push it, or roll it, and it would presumably move within the pedestal?

Presumably.

Strange. Is there nothing else in this room? A way out? A-

Nothing I can see. It seems this is the only function of this room.

Well, then.

Well, then.

Do we… push the wheel?  

We’ve come this far, Arthur. Do you really want to turn around and head back?

No, but… I mean we could still go back and climb the cliff.

Why the hesitancy?

Because we have no idea what lay ahead and… for some reason, this decision feels… important.

How?

I don’t know. As if… [Melancholy piano music] as if there’s no going back.

There is no going back.

You think?

I know.

You know?

Yes, this… the Dreamlands. We have to keep moving forward.

Right, you mean, in order to leave this place behind.

Yes. Leaving the dream for what’s real.

Right.

Footsteps

What?

Nothing, that, uh… just reminded me of something. The ordered intermingling of the real and of the dream…The mill above the river, and the mist above the stream; The life of ceaseless labor, brave with song and cheery call— The radiant skies of evening, with its rainbow o'er us all.

That’s... very sweet.

It’s called An Old Sweetheart of Mine - it’s about a man remembering fondly how he courted his wife.  Anyway, just popped into my head. My gut feeling says we turn it.

Gut feeling?

Yes. It’s a way to say following your instincts over logic.

Should we be sacrificing logic?

I don’t think there’s a logical choice here. When no logical choice applies… gut feeling. So, shall we turn this thing?

If we’re listening to your gut now, I suppose so.

Squeal of the wheel turning. Stone grinding

Arthur, the room is turning!

Yes,  I can feel it. What do we do?

I don’t know if we can do anything.

Damn!

The entrance is sealing.

Fuck… Fuck…!

Arthur this is starting to feel like a trap.

Okay, okay, think, think...

I can’t see anything. The entry way is sealed completely - we’re in darkness now.

Fuck!

Hurry Arthur, get the lighter!

I’m trying!

I can’t help us if I can’t see anything!

I’m trying!

Arthur the floor is moving down… Hold onto the pedestal!

Okay!

Grinding stops

[Panting] What?

It’s stopped. Get the lighter.

O-Okay…

Lighter lights

What happened?

Nothing… The room looks the same only… The entryway… it’s on the other side, now. The side facing into the mountains.

And?

And it’s open. There’s a path leading in.

Oh Christ…

[John laughs]

So, what, was this just a fucking elevator?

[Amused] I suppose so.

Fuck John. [laughs] I feel dumb.

We did our best for what happened.

Right. Okay, so... This thing. Should we just turn it again and head back up?

I don’t know. This entryway into the mountain…

Yes, you mentioned that. Mountain?

Yes. The cliffs were merely the base of something much larger, I have to assume…

Okay. But the darkness…

Look. Our options are to head back up and out towards the cliffs and climb, or, we take our chances and head… under the mountain.

In all likelihood Frank would’ve climbed over?

Would he have?

Maybe.

Is it not equally possible that he did exactly what we did? Met the cliff face and walked along it until he found this?

Yes. You’re right.

Either way, whether he went over or under, he vaguely is headed in the same direction we’re going.

Okay, but into the darkness?

It’s no different for you, and frankly, I feel like being less exposed to the outside elements may be safer.

Alright, point made. Into the dark.

Footsteps

We might as well stop and light the lantern.

Right - Hey! That can be an easy out, too.

Ask it for the way out!

Exactly.

Flame flickers

Show us the way out.

Mysterious, whisper-noises

The smoke is rising back up.

Right. Damn. Um…

Look, we can still use it for it’s light and there seems to be only one path out of this room. Why don’t we use the lantern when we come to a crossroads? Maybe then we can ask it a more specific question.

Right. Okay.

Footsteps

Oh!

Yes?

This is not just a natural path. This is a carved stone walkway… more or less.

How so?

The ground is well worn with footfall, but it quickly leads to a set of steps that lead down. The wall to our left is smooth as if done by tools. It’s a tight passage but seems to open up just ahead.

I think the more light we can get on us the better.

Wouldn’t that make us more of a target?

Maybe, but think about what kinds of creatures could exist down here. Things that have adapted to the darkness.

Yes.

Bright lights would be a detriment for sure.

I see your point.

Footsteps - rocks tumbling

There! Ohh…

What? 

The right side of the passage opens up to… nothingness. [Mysterious piano music] It drops straight down into abyssal black.

Wonderful.

I can’t actually see the far wall of the cavern anymore; it just seems to be... gone. Only the left wall remains.

Well that’s quite unsettling.

Do you fear the dark?

I… at one point, I may have… Now it’s just second nature.

Then why fear the darkness to our right?

It’s not the darkness I fear, John, it’s what hides in the darkness. The possibilities of what lay beyond that are… limitless. [Rocks tumbling] A set of eyes could be watching us now, standing cold and motionless on the far side of the black. A creature of immense size could be reaching out at us as we speak - o-or it could be nothing! Just a void of quiet and shadow that yearns to draw us in... and devour us.

Footsteps

You fear the unknown.

All humans do. It’s the most primal of our fears. The dark simply hides it.

I understand.

Do you not share that fear?

I suppose I do. I fear what may come of me when all this ends.

You fear about returning to the Dark World.

It’s unknown whether or not it will happen.

Yes, well that’s not quite the same, but I see your connection. You’re speaking more to the unknowns of a decision rather than the unknowingness of what lies beyond.

I suppose that, for me… it could yield both the good and the bad.

Fair point.

Anyway, the stairs continue to descend.

Okay.

Footsteps

What was that poem again?

An Old Sweetheart of Mine.

I quite liked it. Do you know any more?

Of course!

Would you recite another?

[Chuckles] I suppose. What about?

Anything. Whatever moves you in this moment.

Hm… Hm.

[Main piano theme plays]

Weary am I of the tumult, sick of the staring crowd,
Pining for wild sea places where the soul may think aloud.
Fled is the glamour of cities, dead as the ghost of a dream,
While I pine anew for the tint of blue on the breast of the old Gulf Stream.
I have had my dance with Folly, nor do I shirk the blame;
I have sipped the so-called Wine of Life and paid the price of shame;
But I know that I shall find surcease, the rest my spirit craves,
Where the rainbows play in the flying spray,
’Mid the keen salt kiss of the waves.

Then it’s ho! for the plunging deck of a bark, the hoarse song of the crew,
With never a thought of those we left or what we are going to do;
Nor heed the old ship’s burning, but break the shackles of care
And at last be free, on the open sea, with the trade winds in our hair.

You yearn freedom.

I think we both do.

I enjoyed that.

I enjoyed remembering it. No bitter memory attached to that one. [Piano concludes] Would you like another?

Stop!

What?

Eerie strings enter

There’s something in the distance… something off to our far right in the darkness. It’s… a light - thin and wispy, like... glowing dust.

Is it…?

It’s moving.

Oh shit.

It’s still far away - let’s… keep moving.

Okay…

Footsteps

The bottom.

That was a long walk down.

Yes, but it’s flat here now. The right is still open to emptiness, but the left wall seems a little more...natural.

Is there still the glowing dust to the right?

Yes. Arthur, it’s growing closer.

Okay…

It’s bright now! As if it’s turned on a lamp… Jesus, it’s growing larger. It’s coming here whatever it is.

What do we do!

[Gasp]

Fluttering, chirping noises

It’s… it’s... it’s a strange flying creature… It’s only about a yard long. It has large bright white eyes that shine in the darkness - it’s staring at us, softly moving its fin like hands as if... wading in the air.

What? Is it… does it look dangerous?

I don’t know. It looks like a salamander of some sort, long tendril-like whiskers drawn out from its face. A long, thin tail wafts almost weightlessly behind it. Oh... It’s circling us curiously.

We don’t mean you harm.

It’s eyes are so bright, it’s difficult to see.

More flapping and chirping

We’re friendly here. We only mean to find a way out.  Does it seem to respond at all?

I… honestly, Arthur, I can’t tell - it’s so bright. It doesn't seem dangerous, though. It seems… child-like in its inquisitiveness. It floats about us like an animal would.

Okay, thank you… Buh bye.

Footsteps

Ugh, that thing is so bright!

Is it… following, or…?

I don’t think so... it seems to be floating over the chasm where we met it.

Are we being foolish? Should we try to talk with it some more?

I don’t know.

Augh.

Footsteps

Do you understand us?

Creature continues to chirp

It's just floating there. Arthur at least shield our eyes - I can’t while I’m holding the lantern.

Right.  Hi, look, we are friends. We don’t know our way around in the darkness. Are you a friend?

It’s cocked its head to the side, along with its body. It seems to be maybe understanding.

Hm... Is there anything fun that we have?

Fun? Arthur…

Oh, the shaving kit!

You want to shave this thing?

No, but did it look like it had maybe a mirror?

We never opened it.

Case opens

Yes, there’s a small mirror here.

Aha!

Rummages

Eh?

Purring

It seems to like the mirror.

[Laughs]

Arthur, I think you’re becoming a bit distracted.

No, no, this is brilliant! Look, you already said how bright its eyes were.

Yes?

It must be some sort of defense against whatever lay in the dark down here.

You think having a friend would help with that?

Why not? It can’t hurt. ...Is it still looking in the mirror?

Yes, you moving it like that is reflecting the light from its eyes, it... Oh! Point it towards the right, towards the darkness. Maybe we can see the far wall.

Oh! Like... this?

Yes!  ...Nothing. I’m starting to understand your fear.

Well I’m glad this little guy likes the gift. Here.

I don’t think he’s capable of taking it.

Right. Well… Do you know a way out?

He’s just staring at us.

Okay… well... I suppose we should keep moving. Bye, little… friend.

Footsteps

He’s... following.

Ha! Alright, brilliant.

I don’t know how useful all of this is.

It can be helpful, trust me.

Footsteps and chirping continue

Ah! Arthur, there’s a fork in the road. One leads to the left, within a tight passage. The other continues straight along this pathway.

Okay. Oh! Let’s ask the lamp!

The lamp clinking

Which way will lead us forward towards an exit.

The smoke is rising… it’s leading towards the left! Down further.

Okay, well...

Wait.

What?

The creature… it’s moving forward along this same pathway we’re on now.

Oh? Going so soon?

No, it’s… waiting for us, as if… guiding.

You’re kidding.

I don’t know, Arthur. Maybe it’s just heading back home. There’s no way to tell.

Are you showing us a quicker way out?

It just cocked it’s head.

Well, it… it seems to think forward is the way to go.

The lantern says left.

Yes, but the lantern is just a thing… for all we know it’ll lead us towards an exit but it could be back towards the desert. 

And for all we know this floating lamp thinks we’re its new toy.

True.

Look, honestly, I don’t trust the lantern either. We don’t know its true purpose. What does your gut feeling say?

[Sigh] My gut says this little creature knows its way around the darkness better than you and I ever could. I say we follow it.

To what end?

I don’t know. Probably not an exit but… maybe something important.

Alright.

You disagree?

No, I-I don’t. It’s just, I’m surprised that’s what your gut said.

Why?

I’m not sure.

Right, well… lead the way.

Yes; straight ahead. [Dust falling] Careful here, the path is very thin.

Oh?

Yes, the way the lantern had pointed was carved like the steps we took. This way is not.

Oh, so this diverges from the path?

Mysterious piano music starts

Yes.

Well… that matters…

What?

Well why didn’t you say that?

You want to go back?

No, I just… information like that is important in my decision.

Arthur, look, I’m doing my best, okay?

I know, okay.

Do you want to go back or not?

No, my gut still says this creature.

Just keep hugging the left side.

Rocks tumbling. Arthur breathing faster. Piano fades for eerie strings.

The path here is very narrow. Go very slowly. The wall seems to curve left. There’s still nothing to indicate a far wall of this cavern… nor a bottom.

[Sarcastic] Amazing.

There, it’s starting to widen slightly.

Slip - Arthur gasps

ARTHUR!

Rocks tumble.

God, Jesus - God - Jesus -

That was too close.

Yes… yes… far too close.

There. It widens here.

Careful footsteps

[Gasping] Well, then. I don’t want to go back that way if we can avoid it.

It may not be possible.

Why?

This creature has led us to a small outcropping that lay overlooking the darkness below. It’s maybe twenty feet long and ten feet wide. It’s gravel mostly underfoot. There’s no visible other way out.

Damn. Is there nothing else? What is the creature doing?

He seems to be floating about the middle hovering over some rocks that… Oh! There’s a off-white sheet, maybe…

A white sheet?

Yes, and… Arthur! This is a tent! And what looks to be the remnants of a fire!

A campsite?

YES!

It showed us to a campsite! Brilliant! Well done friend, thank you!

There’s a small, broken, wooden dingle stick that held something over a fire - a pot or something else. The tent has long since fallen over but the area around seems relatively untouched.

Wow.

Careful now - it’s still very close to the edge.

No, of course.

Footsteps

Well? Is there anything by the fire?

A few more steps.

Here?

Yes, crouch down.

Crouches

Hmmm... Well there’s a tin kettle here, probably from earth. Definitely looks like it wasn’t made here. Remnants of something having been cooked... drippings maybe.

How old?

Impossible for me to tell, Arthur, I have no frame of reference for old campfires. A week or two years have equal weight.

Do you… Do you think this was Frank’s?

Maybe.

I wonder why he left it.

Who’s to say he did?

Eerie violins resume

You mean…

In the tent.

Oh jesus. No. If he never left…

Don’t put the cart before the horse. Let’s take a look. 

Alright.

Footsteps

The tent is laying flat...it’s fallen. You’ll need to lift up the flaps.

Okay…

Fabric rustles

It’s empty.

[Sigh] Thank god.

Violins fade

Or rather, there’s no body. There’s a bed roll and what looks to be a broken lantern…

Lantern?

Just a regular lantern.

Right. Well, whomever set this up isn’t still here.

No, it looks... long since abandoned.

[To the creature] Do you know who was here, friend?

I don’t know what you’re expecting it to say.

I dunno. Okay, so there’s a campfire and some things in the tent. Let’s look.

Fabric rustling

As I said: there’s a bedroll, a small crate. A lantern, glass pieces on the bedroll. Presumably from the lantern.

Hmm. What does the crate say? Is there anything stamped on the side?

First National Grocery Store.

First National? That’s a grocer in Arkham! On Garrison street, I-I’m sure of it.

Well! I suppose the possibility that this is Frank is growing.

Would he have lugged all this with him?

A tent, yes, a crate… maybe - it’s pretty small. If he was leaving home for good, to survive, I’m sure he would’ve brought everything necessary.

What else is here?

I don’t know. I can’t see what’s in the crate.

Is it a grocery crate, or a…?

Yes, it’s open at the top. I can reach inside - hold on.

Oh, okay.

Glass clinkng

Ow!

What?

The broken glass is also in the crate.  No, wait, this isn’t from a lantern. [Glass clinking] There’s a picture frame in here.

A picture?

Melancholy piano plays

Yes, it was laying along the bottom. It’s… a woman, standing by a park... a city in the background. Arkham, maybe?

Any discernible landmarks?

None that I can see.

Hmmm. Could be next to the Miskatonic River.

She’s smiling, though her smile… looks sad. It looks like it was forgotten at the bottom of the crate.

Well let’s take it.

Yeah?

If it was forgotten…

Alright, but we’ll leave the frame.

There was a picture missing from Frank’s wall, wasn’t there?

Yes, there was.

Well that sets it. Anything else in here?

Not that I can see, no.

Alright.

Crawls out

Well, so, the campfire area is pretty bare. But still, if he left this place, he left a lot behind.

Nothing so meaningful, save the photo, to suggest it wasn’t purposeful.

True.

Creature continues to chirp

Our friend is floating near the chasm.

Lucky he doesn’t need to worry about the fall.

Wait.

What?

He’s illuminating something laying on a rock near the edge. I think it may be a book.

A book?

Yes! Although, it’s precariously balanced on the rock near the edge.

How precarious?

Look, this entire outcropping is gravel. I’m not convinced it’ll last forever.

But it’s what, a few feet from the edge?

Inches.

O...kay... Well, we’ll be careful then.

Or…

Or what?

Or we’ve learned enough and head back.

Across the equally precarious path that we’ve already taken?

True.

Look, whatever that book is, is clearly important - the little creature seems to think so, maybe. Heading back along the path without grabbing it would be a waste. Right?

I don’t know. Maybe, but it is a risk.

 Ha… no more than what we’ve done so far. Look, if that even has a chance to be Frank’s, we need to grab it.

You’re sure? There’s no way we would survive that fall.

We’ll be safe - take it slow.

Okay. Take a few steps. Careful, now.

Of course.

Footsteps

A little more... A little more.... Okay! Okay. Careful, Arthur... we’re about 3 inches from the edge.

Jesus. I can feel the wind from below, it’s… foul... Thick...

Just… move low. Feel the ground around yourself.

[Grunts]

Can we see anything?

I don’t know, Arthur. You can look over the edge if you want.

Okay.

[Grunts]

Eerie piano plays

There’s nothing, Arthur. It is a black abyss.

[Gasp] Where is, um…?

Rocks tumbling

By your left foot. There’s a medium sized rock and a book balanced on it. It's leather bound and well worn, as if… it had been folded.

Folded?

Scrape

Hmmm. Well, what book is it?

Open it.

Pages flipping

I don’t know. It doesn’t have an exact title… but I think it’s a diary. This Is…

Sliding - rocks falling

ARTHUR!

Panting

Jesus.

[Aurthur laughing]

You’re kidding?

When in doubt, just… just lay back...

Fuck, Arthur.

Ugh. This way, right?

Yes…

I know, I know, I know…. Look, we got it! All good. [Laughs]

The expanse, Arthur, the depths… I can’t imagine what would be down there.

Now you’re getting it.

Getting what?

What I mentioned earlier - fearing the unknown… I suppose it’s trickling it’s way to you.

Is that me feeding off your emotions, or…?

Or what? Are you learning them yourself?

Yes.

I honestly don’t know. Part of me thinks that you are learning. Growing, as it were - becoming your own person with desires and wants. You’ve expressed feelings different than mine, thoughts for the future and on the past. We are of two minds and more and more, I’m realizing, two souls, as well. There is a bleed over effect but… you are something entirely your own, John.

Doe.

Yes… John Doe.

[Sigh] Let’s get out of here. Back, and to the left.

Oh, wait - should we read the diary?

Once we’re off this overlook.

Okay, okay. So long, campsite! I don’t know if you were used by Frank or what but I’m taking this as a sign of hope rather than loss. We’re not alone.

We are not.

And we’re no longer with you, friend! Does it seem to be following?

Yes, it seems to want to follow.

Alright. Shall we?

The perch is straight back to the wall, then a tight shimmy left.

Of course.

Piano fades for rising strings

Careful - the ledge is thin, but sturdy. When you…

Slip

[Gasp]

Ears ringing

Piano notes. Scribbling. Piano plays parts of the main theme, haltingly.

THUD, Arthur groaning, more thuds.

God damn it!

THUD

[Gasping] Wha---what...

Is anything broken?

I don’t know!

Eerie violins play

I can’t see anything, Arthur! We fell… we fell so far down.

Wha-?

I can’t even see where we came from!

The lantern?

I don’t know

What?

We dropped it at some point during the fall.

O-Oh my god. What is that stench…?

I don’t know! I can’t see!

[Panicked] Okay, Okay… I can’t… I-I don’t feel the bag. I-I’m soaking wet…what is…?

GET UP!

I’m afraid I’ve broken something...

Well get up and find out!

[Groaning in pain]

Nothing feels broken for me.

[Groaning] I don’t know, but my ankle really fucking hurts, and my back… oh goddamn my back! God damn! How are we not dead?

Find the bag!

Okay… okay… [Groaning] This feels wet… Jesus Christ… What are we in? I’m… I’m gonna vomit…

Quicker!

Okay, okay… here, here, here!

Bag rustles - lighter flicks on

Oh! We’re at the bottom.

Of the drop?

Yes. I can’t see anything above us. Arthur, you’re bleeding from somewhere. I can see blood all over your pants… and your hands.

I can taste it, but it feels…cold.

Jesus fucking Christ…

Wh-What?

Arthur! You’ve landed on...  I don’t know! It looks like piles of sinew, flesh torn… bones. [Arthur breathing heavily, panicked] This is a graveyard of bloody carnage.

Oh Jesus Christ! Oh fucking god!

I…

Jesus Christ!

I don’t…

We need to move. We need to-

What?

Move, somewhere! I… I…

Arthur, to your right, about five feet ahead of you! On a pile of… oh my god, I-I don’t know. The diary!

Where is it? [Agitated] Where is it, tell me!

There! One more… down! No, not… that!

Where does it end?

What?

Where does it end? The diary, what’s the last fucking page!

I don’t know, I don’t know - keep going, keep going... There! Stop! Back one.  There!

Read it, now!

“I’ve camped for the time being next to the chasm. I tried to sleep but I couldn’t sleep through the sounds of whatever lay at the bottom. Its heavy gurgled sigh shakes the gravel and haunts my waking mind. I can hear it down there. I can sense its presence, and it, in turn, senses mine. It is hungry… and it is waiting.”

Arthur breathes fast, panicked. A low, beastly growl echoes.

 

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Transcribed by the amazing Croik! My absolute appreciation to them for their effort and patience in making this.