A whispered secret, a trodden path, a monstrous pursuit...
Malevolent follows Arkham Investigator Arthur Lester as he unravels the mysterious circumstances that have befallen him.
In the Eleventh part of our story a decision to hide Arthur's presence brings him closer than ever to the origins of what has befallen him. Through a curious questionnaire and an uncomfortable truth; the two find themselves face to face with an otherworldly horror unlike any seen before... If you are enjoying this Podcast, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter to receive all Chapters as they are completed as well as the choices that you, the listener, get to make. Find out more here: https://www.patreon.com/TheINVICTUSStream
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PART ELEVEN - THE SECT
Original transcript by Eggsy39 and Jack! Reviewed by Teakettle.
(BEGIN Part 11.)
ARTHUR(quietly):We need answers.
JOHN: They may very well have them, but I doubt they’ll give them willingly.
ARTHUR:Then we’ll subdue them.
JOHN: Bold. The mask?
ARTHUR:We’ll take it, but —
JOHN: But for now you need to act.
ARTHUR:Yes. Is there anywhere we can hide?
JOHN: There’s a tall wardrobe in the corner of the room.
(In the bathroom, the faucet runs.)
JOHN: Arthur, the blinds!
(Arthur grunts as he pulls the blinds shut.)
JOHN: Right. It’s in front of you.
(He opens the wardrobe door.)
JOHN: Don’t shut it, so I can see.
(The wardrobe door creaks closing, as the bathroom opens.)
JOHN: 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.
(The stranger steps out.)
JOHN: There is movement. The figure stepped out, maybe it’s a man, I-I can barely see his face. He’s naked from head to toe. In the hard light coming from the bathroom he seems… scarred. (The man breathes heavily.)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.
(He moves further.)
JOHN: The light is minimal but he’s keeping it on. He’s moved across the room and over to the foot of the bed. Wait. He’s looking around. (Arthur starts to breathe shakily.)I don’t know if he’s… Arthur. He’s sniffing the air. He’s coming this way.
(The stranger’s breathing gets closer.)
JOHN: Arthur! Arthur… Now!
(Grunting, Arthur rushes out the wardrobe. He struggles with the stranger. A glass object shatters, Arthur is punched and grunts in pain. Tense music starts to play.)
JOHN: Arthur, he’s broken free! He’s running for his suitcase.
JOHN: Left – the other left!
(Arthur lets out noises of fear.)
JOHN: Fuck! Arthur, he has a knife. Arthur, draw your pistol.
ARTHUR(to the man):Stop!
JOHN: A little to our right – there.
ARTHUR(to the man):Drop. The. Knife.
JOHN: He’s not moving.
ARTHUR:I will fucking kill you, if you don’t put that knife down.
JOHN(in surprise): He’s smiling.
ARTHUR:You… look, all I want are answers. Maybe we can –
JOHN: He’s studying you with an odd… elation.
ARTHUR:Just… help me. (Angrier.)Help me understand what the fuck is going on!
JOHN: He’s raising the knife… he’s raised it to his own throat.
(The stranger slides the knife across his own throat, gurgling as he dies. Blood drips down. He crumples to the floor.)
ARTHUR(shocked):Oh my God. Jesus Christ. (He walks over.)
JOHN: He slit his own throat.
ARTHUR:What the fuck. Why?
JOHN: The veins in his neck broke open like a geyser. He sprayed your pants and a fair portion of the room.
ARTHUR(shell-shocked):Just – just give me a second.
ARTHUR:What the fuck. Why would he…?
JOHN: Obviously, he felt threatened.
ARTHUR:Yes, but to what extent? To go from fighting to – to – to –
JOHN: There may have been more to it, perhaps the madness of the King was also within him.
ARTHUR:That doesn’t make me feel any better.
JOHN: No, I suppose not.
(Arthur sits, breathing heavily.)
JOHN: Arthur, maybe we should keep moving.
JOHN: Why what?
ARTHUR:Why what?! Why bother? Every time we get a little closer something pushes us three steps back, John! At what point do we-
JOHN(progressively more frustrated): 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?
JOHN(growling, distorted): No. Listen to me! We’re not going to spin down another hole of self-pity. We’ve come too close!
JOHN(forceful): Now, get up!
JOHN: 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.
(Arthur walks over.)
JOHN: The suitcase is already partially laid out, oddly neat.
ARTHUR:What is in here? (He rummages through.)
JOHN: Personal hygiene items. Handkerchief, toothbrush, comb, pomade. (Dice roll.) There, near the top, there’s a business card.
JOHN: Possibly. ‘Doctor Daniel Sayid’.
ARTHUR:What the hell happened? Why was he –
JOHN: Study the evidence.
ARTHUR:Right. Right. Mind you, I suppose all of this can be explained away by the origins of a cult. (He steps.)
ARTHUR: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 behavior to-to hide their beliefs from the outside world.
ARTHUR:There’s not enough to even guess at his motivations.
JOHN(sighing): Head to the bed, behind you.
JOHN: 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.
JOHN: The mask is covered in blood.
ARTHUR:Fuck. Let’s… wash it off.
(Arthur takes up the mask and walks into the bathroom.)
JOHN: The bathroom sink is covered in blood and hair.
JOHN: It looks like he roughly shaved his head in the sink with a straight razor.
(He walks over to the sink and turns the shower on.)
JOHN: 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.
ARTHUR:Does it seem… powerful?
JOHN: No, it… it seems mundane for the most part, but… comforting.
JOHN(dazed): Yes, I… I don’t know why…
ARTHUR:Right, well let’s hope it’s waterproof.
(Arthur turns off the faucet.)
ARTHUR:Are you with me?
JOHN(confused): Yes… yes, just, uh.
ARTHUR:You’re tracing the lines on the mask's face and eyes…
JOHN(exhale): Right. Let’s see if there’s anything else out there that can frame all of this.
JOHN: Maybe open the window again for more light.
(Arthur walks over and opens the blinds with a grunt.)
JOHN: Better. Wait!
JOHN: There’s a car here now.
ARTHUR:A car? (Ominous music.)
JOHN: Yes, out front of the hotel.
ARTHUR:Well, what the fuck does that mean?
JOHN: I don’t know, other than-
(Someone knocks on the door.)
ARTHUR (gasping):Oh my God.
ARTHUR(shaken):Oh my god. Fuck. God.
JOHN: Arthur, calm down.
ARTHUR:Does the window open? Is there a fire escape?
ARTHUR:Well, then –
JOHN: 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.
JOHN: We can escape through the window and run away without finding any real answers, or…?
ARTHUR:Or don the mask and robe.
JOHN: 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?
ARTHUR(exhale):I say that if we ever want a chance to find a way to separate you and I, this is our only shot.
JOHN: Well, then. Let’s hope it fits.
(The clothes rustle. Another knock on the door.)
JOHN: Wait, move the body first.
ARTHUR:Oh, right. Where?
JOHN: Into the bathroom, quickly.
(Arthur picks up the body and drags it, grunting in exertion. He opens the bathroom door, slides the body in, and shuts it.)
ARTHUR:Alright, now get dressed.
(The rustling of fabric.)
JOHN: Clearly aren’t interested in them. Hurry.
(More fabric rustling.)
JOHN: Alright, head to the mirror. Quickly.
ARTHUR(from behind the mask, exhale): Well?
JOHN: I… yes. (Ominous whispers briefly rise.)I think this works.
(Another knock at the door.)
ARTHUR:Okay, well, here goes nothing.
(He opens the door.)
JOHN: 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 gray suit. (Arthur breathes shakily.) He’s… studying us. Like a confused animal, his head slightly tilted to one side.
JOHN: 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.
(Arthur clasps his hands.)
JOHN: He’s leaning slightly, he’s trying to look over our shoulder into the room,lean!To block it. The other side.
(Arthur breathes shakily.)
JOHN: His eyes, Arthur. They’re not exactly gray, 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 #1: Well then, shall we begin?
JOHN: They’ve stepped back and begun down the hall, follow them!
(Arthur steps, shutting the door behind him.)
JOHN: They’re walking quietly in a line. They don’t seem concerned about the rats. Perhaps they hadn’t seen them.
(They continue to walk.)
JOHN: They walk with an odd sense of serenity, as if they are on vacation. Not joyous, exactly, but if I didn’t know better I’d assume they were on their way to a party.
JOHN: 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.
BACKGROUND WHISPER:Of course.
(An ominous rise of music.)
JOHN: Arthur, he’s pointing upstairs to the top floor of the hotel. His eyes are dancing between yours, cold and calculating.
JOHN: He started moving again, leading you up the stairs.
(The stairs creak as they walk up.)
JOHN: 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. The man is removing his suit jacket but his mask is staying on.
(A door opens.)
JOHN: 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. He’s entered. They’re nodding to you too now, I don’t know about this, Arthur…
JOHN: The door is straight ahead. (Arthur exhales shakily.)They can see you hesitate, just go inside.
(Arthur walks, the door closing behind him.)
JOHN: This is a suite. It’s run down and decrepit, there are-
CULTIST #1:Have a seat.
BACKGROUND WHISPER: Yes.
JOHN: He’s already sitting across a desk to the left of you, move quickly. He’s gesturing to a seat opposite him.
(Arthur sits on a chair.)
JOHN: Arthur, I think he’s waiting for you to do something…
CULTIST #1:: Roll up your sleeve.
BACKGROUND WHISPER:Let’s go.
JOHN: Oh, there’s a man standing next to us with a needle, he’s not wearing a mask, but he does have gloves on. (Worried.)Arthur.
ARTHUR:I… do I –?
(Ominous music rises.)
JOHN: He’s tilting his head again, the man standing beside you is looking perplexed. Er, your left arm.
JOHN: 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.
BACKGROUND WHISPER: Yes.
JOHN: Certain of what?
JOHN: 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.
(Some paper rustling.)
JOHN: He’s removed the needle, you may want to stop the bleeding.
CULTIST #1(reading): “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?”
BACKGROUND WHISPER: Yes.
ARTHUR(confused):I- I’m sorry?
CULTIST #1(insistent):Do you take it?
JOHN: Arthur. Jesus fucking Christ… say no, just say no!
JOHN(nervous): There’s no way he could have known that! It isn’t-
CULTIST #1(reading): “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?”
JOHN: I… There is –
ARTHUR:Do I tell him what? No, I-I don’t tell him anything.
(Pencil on paper.)
JOHN: 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?
JOHN: The island… and the creature beneath, the one you killed with the rock. Arthur, whatever you do, do not –
(He shifts on the chair.)
ARTHUR:I kill her.
BACKGROUND WHISPER: Yes.
JOHN: 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.
(Whispers begin to arise from the background, amidst suspenseful music.)
JOHN: Arthur, if you remove your mask he may realize that you are not that doctor. He may-
JOHN: Are you sure?
(Arthur rustles his robe and takes off his mask.)
JOHN: 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 –
(The chair creaks.)
JOHN: He stood up. He’s moving to the door…
(The cultist walks to the door, opens it, leaves, and closes the door.)
JOHN: He’s left. (John sighs shakily.)Look around for a moment. (The chair squeaks.) We’re alone now.
ARTHUR:The doctor who drew my blood?
ARTHUR(exhale):Well. What the fuck was that about?
JOHN: I have no idea.
ARTHUR:Those questions, how could he have known – (Shocked.)They were exactly –
JOHN: I know. It’s as if he’s been following us. Following our story.
ARTHUR:What does this mean!?
JOHN: I have no idea. Perhaps he –
ARTHUR:Did he leave the folio? The one he read the questions from?
(The chair creaks. Arthur steps to the desk.)
ARTHUR:What other questions are on it?
ARTHUR:N-? What about the ones he read, are the – ?
JOHN: No, there are none, Arthur.
JOHN(insistent): There is nothing on this page.
ARTHUR:But he wrote…?
JOHN: The page is completely blank.
ARTHUR:I… I don’t understand. What paper is this?
JOHN: It’s not paper, it’s thick. Like leather or hide.
ARTHUR:Jesus Christ. We have to… why did he leave? (He steps.)Do you think he recognized us?
JOHN: I mean… if he knew this much about us, then…
ARTHUR:This desk, is there anything on it? Anything else? Was he just making up the questions?
JOHN: I don’t see anything. There are some drawers.
ARTHUR:Anything in them?
(Arthur pulls open the drawers.)
JOHN: No. They’re empty.
ARTHUR(exhale):This room, you mentioned it was decrepit, but it’s a master suite?
ARTHUR:And that others have been sleeping here, are there things still here?
JOHN: 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.
(Arthur steps around.)
JOHN: There! There’s one next to you.
(Grunting, Arthur takes ahold of the bag and drags it out. He rifles through it.)
JOHN: Nothing of… (Dice roll.) Wait, yes, there’s a wallet here.
JOHN: Money. (Pleased.)ID!
ARTHUR:For who? (He takes out the ID.)
JOHN: Churchman, Doug.
ARTHUR:Any sign of what he does?
JOHN: No, it’s a license for this state though.
JOHN: Let’s head back to the desk for when he returns.
(Arthur rustles the bag and steps away.)
ARTHUR: 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?
JOHN:Maybe. Maybe it’s just you they’ve asked.
JOHN:Regardless, I am sure he will be back any minute.
(Arthur continues to walk.)
JOHN:Wait, where are you heading?
ARTHUR: I want to listen at the door for a moment, see if we can hear anything, sense if anyone is out there.
(Arthur steps forward.)
ARTHUR(whispering):I don’t hear anything, do you?
JOHN: No, I don’t hear anything. I wonder if the men are still out there. Wait. Let’s try the door.
JOHN: He didn’t say ‘wait’, did he?
ARTHUR:He didn’t say anything.
JOHN: Just try it.
(Arthur tries the door knob.)
JOHN: I thought so.
ARTHUR:Well, what the fuck are we supposed to do now?
JOHN: 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.
ARTHUR(sarcastic):Comforting thought, John.
(Arthur walks over and sits back down.)
ARTHUR:Oh, I should put this back on.
(Arthur re-attaches the mask.)
ARTHUR:He was wearing this mask while he interviewed me…
JOHN: Yes, why?
ARTHUR:You don’t think –?
ARTHUR:This may be a shot in the dark, but...
(He stands and walks over to the desk.)
ARTHUR:Is there anything on the page now?
JOHN(surprised, amidst rising suspenseful music): Arthur! Yes, there is!
ARTHUR:What does this mean, how can –?
JOHN: I don’t know, but now it is clear, as if it’s always been there.
ARTHUR:What does it say?
JOHN: The questions that he asked are here, including some more.
JOHN: One says: ‘You awaken on a beach, near the water a severed head lay. It speaks to you…’ Jesus, Arthur.
BACKGROUND WHISPER: Yes
JOHN: Another says: “You arrive at a hotel, you can enter through the chained back door…”
BACKGROUND WHISPER:Of course.
ARTHUR:What the fuck?
JOHN: I have no idea. There is no way to – wait.
JOHN: Arthur, this isn’t just about what has happened.
ARTHUR:What do you mean?
JOHN(reading): “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?”
(Something growls from a distance.)
JOHN: We need to hide.
ARTHUR:Hold on, it says “you exit the master suite”. (Arthur takes off his mask.)Meaning we have to leave first.
JOHN: But it says “hide”!
ARTHUR:We need to get to the basement.
JOHN: You want to go out there? Hide now, while we can!
ARTHUR:Look, I don’t know why this man or this organization seems to know everything about us or what we’ve done. (He breathes out.)But it’s all right here on the page.
JOHN: But all of these are choices, none of the results of those choices are laid out, Arthur.
ARTHUR(determined):No, we need to stay the path.
JOHN(stupefied): “Stay the path”? Are you listening to yourself? What chance do we have if you think we have no say in any of this?
ARTHUR:What – what do you mean?
JOHN: I mean, if this cult knows what happens next, fuck them.
ARTHUR:No. I can’t chance it.
JOHN(sarcastic): Way to be your own person, Arthur.
ARTHUR(angry):Fuck you! I’m keeping us alive.
JOHN: You’re being a puppet and you don’t even see it.
ARTHUR:Where’s the door?
JOHN: Same place as it was previous.
ARTHUR(angry):Fuck off. Stop being such a petulant child and help me keep us alive.
JOHN(sighing sulkily): It’s to your right.
(Arthur steps to the door. The creature makes a sound like a dying cow.)
ARTHUR:It sounds like –
JOHN: I don’t know… nothing I’ve ever heard. How do you plan on making this work?
ARTHUR:I don’t know. Move very slowly.
JOHN: Good luck.
(Arthur opens the door and exits.)
JOHN: The hallway is darker than I remember. The sun reaches the room behind us, but here in the hallway, it seems more claustrophobic.
ARTHUR:Do you see anything?
JOHN: Nothing immediately jumps out, no. There is some debris down the hall, some torn carpet… a cart on its side, some building supplies…
ARTHUR:Is there any way to the basement that you can see?
JOHN: Besides the main stairs that we came up? No.
ARTHUR:Where did the sound come from?
JOHN: It sounded like it was –
(The creature groans again.)
JOHN: Down the hall.
ARTHUR:But you don’t see –
JOHN: Wait. I think I do see something moving. It’s just before the stairwell, maybe at it.
(Arthur moves closer to the stairwell, moving debris as he needs.)
JOHN: 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.
ARTHUR:What does it look like?
JOHN: It’s difficult in the dim light, but… it looks like gray skin, wrinkled. Piled up almost.
(The creature makes quiet eating noises from a far distance.)
ARTHUR:Let’s move, quietly. See how far we can get.
JOHN(mocking): You don’t want to hide?
ARTHUR:Where? Are there any rooms open?
JOHN: Not before the stairs, no.
ARTHUR(petulant):Well, then. Perhaps we need to hide further down. Just let me know when we’re close.
JOHN: You’re approaching the cart.
(As Arthur steps, the creature moos again.)
ARTHUR:That sound, it feels… familiar.
JOHN: Arthur, you’re getting close. Wait!
(Arthur steps in something sticky, falls, and grunts.)
ARTHUR:What the fuck did I just trip on?
JOHN: I don’t know. A wire. Someone has strung a wire across the hall.
ARTHUR:Did it spot us?
JOHN: No. It seems fixated on whatever is behind the debris. Like I said, it might be eating.
ARTHUR:Well, we need to pass it.
JOHN: Head wide to the right.
(The creature makes another noise, a little louder.)
ARTHUR:Wait. I do know that sound.
JOHN: No, but- Arthur!
(Arthur continues to walk.)
JOHN: Arthur, you’re almost on it, it’s just at the stairs.
ARTHUR:Yes, can you see it?
JOHN: No, I… (He exhales.) A little higher.
JOHN: It’s… I think it’s a deer.
ARTHUR:A deer? Yes, I thought it sounded like-
JOHN: But it’s wrapped up in a gray... I don’t know how to describe it… a wire?
ARTHUR:A metal wire? Like what I tripped over? Maybe it was caught it –
JOHN: No, neither were metal, more organic, like… like webbing.
(Ominous music rises.)
ARTHUR:Like a spider.
(The creature hisses. Arthur gasps in shock as something, like webbing, whizzes by.)
(Arthur starts to run.)
JOHN: Arthur, it’s behind us! Move!
(The spider continues to hiss, its footfalls heavy and plodding.)
ARTHUR(terrified):What the fuck is-
JOHN: It is a massive, black and violet spider. It was just above the stairwell, perched as if…
ARTHUR:As if waiting!
(The spider screams and fires its web. Arthur falls to the ground.)
JOHN: Arthur, get up!
ARTHUR:My foot, it’s –
JOHN: It’s another web, Arthur.
ARTHUR:I’m trying! I’m trying!
(The spider’s footfalls get closer. Arthur grunts in exertion.)
JOHN(gasping in awe): This spider is massive. Its long, spindly legs fill almost the entire hallway. It bends them up in unnatural fashion as it squeezes its bloated sickly purple and black torso towards us, stabbing at the walls with each step.
ARTHUR(frustrated):You’re not helping, John!
JOHN: Its legs. They’re covered in polyp-like growths which branch off of it, tumor-like and violet. Its mouth is filled with hanging tentacle-like feelers that writhe as they taste the air for us.
ARTHUR:Shut up, John, and fucking help me!
JOHN: Ugh! (He breathes heavily.)There, rip it. That, your robe is caught. Rip!
(Arthur tears the fabric, falls, and starts to run again.)
JOHN: 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!
ARTHUR:Please be open!
JOHN: It’s right on us!
(Arthur fumbles with the door.)
(The spider cries out again.)
JOHN: It’s wedged one of its legs in the door, Arthur, push!
(Arthur continues to push. The spider’s leg begins to crunch.)
JOHN: Keep holding, Arthur, keep holding!
(More crunching noises.)
JOHN: Now! Now! Shut it!
(The door finally slams shut as the spider squeals in pain.)
ARTHUR(tired):We need to move.
JOHN: We need to hide.
(The spider continues to beat against the door.)
JOHN: This room is filled with a large table and stacked chairs.
ARTHUR:Is there any room under the table?
JOHN: Yes, but they’re pretty open. You could stack chairs-
JOHN: I don’t know, there looks to be a back room.
(Wood starts to splinter.)
JOHN: Arthur, it is going to break down the door in seconds, move. Follow the wall, there!
ARTHUR(grunting):What’s in here?
JOHN: It’s some dishware: an empty hamper, a laundry chute.
ARTHUR:A laundry chute?
ARTHUR:Could we fit?
JOHN: I think so.
(The door starts to break open.)
JOHN: Arthur, the door!
ARTHUR:Guide me to the table so we can hide.
JOHN: Left. Crouch.Lay on your stomach.
(The door finally breaks open. Hissing, it walks into the room with heavy footfalls. Some dishes shatter. Furniture groans as it’s pushed aside.)
JOHN: 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!
(The spider grows closer, hissing.)
JOHN: Wait. Underneath, just below its sternum. There’s a red strip of flesh. Everything else is covered in chitinous black and purple armor but... for what it’s worth, that looks to be a weak spot.
JOHN: 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?
(The spider hisses.)
ARTHUR(quietly):The laundry chute.
JOHN: 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.
(He starts to walk, breathing heavily.)
JOHN: Okay, stop! 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 throws the piece of wood, letting it clatter. The spider squeals and shoots webs in its direction, rushing over. Arthur makes a break for the laundry chute.)
JOHN: To the left! In, Arthur, get in.
(The metal laundry chute squeaks open. Arthur grunts as he climbs inside, hitting the sides as he falls.)
Arthur(groaning):Argh, what – what’s happened? Have we reached the bottom?
JOHN: We’re stuck.
JOHN: I don’t know, but we didn’t fall very far. Maybe only a floor or two.
ARTHUR(panting):Do you… do you see a way out?
JOHN: I’m as blind as you in the darkness, Arthur.
(Arthur rustles his clothing and flicks on the lighter.)
JOHN: Yes. It looks like the chute below us is plugged.
JOHN: Clothes? I don’t know, Arthur.
ARTHUR:Is the spider following?
JOHN: I don’t see how it could.
ARTHUR:Well, that’ll buy us some time. We can’t crawl all the way back up.
JOHN: No, but luckily I see another chute just a little ways above us. You’ll need to climb up a little bit.
JOHN(encouraging): Yes. You can do this, Arthur.
(Arthur sighs and starts to pull himself up. The chute creaks and he grunts in exertion.)
Arthur(panting):Ugh, and I thought the caves were claustrophobic.
JOHN: Save your breath.
(Arthur continues to climb, tired.)
ARTHUR:Are we almost there?
JOHN: Just a little farther. (The metal chute shakes.)There!
(Arthur pulls himself out of the chute.)
JOHN: Well, we’re not in the basement.
ARTHUR:No, but is there any sign of where we are?
JOHN: Again, it’s far too dark in here. Strike the lighter again.
(He flicks the lighter on.)
JOHN: We’re in another linen room, only this one is in far worse a state.
ARTHUR:Worse? How? (He rises to his feet and walks.)
JOHN: It looks like it’s been tossed, maybe.
ARTHUR:As if someone was searching for something?
JOHN: In a way. Maybe someone just wanted to make a mess of things.
ARTHUR(exhale):Where the fuck did that spider come from? When we first came through the hotel it was nowhere to be seen.
JOHN: Doesn’t mean it wasn’t here.
ARTHUR:I don’t see how that’s possible, the other people were-
JOHN: I don’t think you fully understand what you’re dealing with here.
ARTHUR:What do you mean?
JOHN: These creatures. The rats, the spider, they’re not from this world, Arthur.
ARTHUR:Well, I assumed that much. Are they from the Dark World?
JOHN: No. Some perhaps I’ve seen before, but… as I said, nothing comes back from the Dark World.
(He continues to walk.)
ARTHUR:So where do these come from?
JOHN: I don’t know. Something in this town has soured. There’s a thinning between worlds, a bridge between realities that shouldn’t exist.
ARTHUR:I dread what kind of nightmares exist in that reality.
JOHN: We need to tread carefully. That spider was clever. It had a cold intellect about it.
ARTHUR: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.
JOHN: Perhaps they let it out.
JOHN: The motivations of this cult are anything but understandable at this point. Let’s just focus on surviving.
ARTHUR:And getting to the basement.
JOHN: There’s no light anywhere, so move slowly and keep the flame lit. There. The door is beside you.
(Arthur opens a door and walks through, shutting it behind him.)
ARTHUR:Where are we now?
JOHN: I think we’re in a hallway again, only… there’s still no light. I can only see as far as the lighter reveals.
ARTHUR:So you can’t see the walls?
JOHN: No, which is why I’m guessing. Maybe bring the lighter out farther. (Arthur holds the lighter out further; the flickering of the flame is audible.)Move slowly.
ARTHUR:I don’t hear it.
JOHN: I don’t hear anything. Maybe move to a wall, I’m starting to think this isn’t the hallway.
(He continues to walk.)
JOHN: It’s… worn. The wallpaper is peeling. Maybe try by your feet. (Arthur grunts.)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.
(He tears the fabric.)
ARTHUR:Once we have a bit more light, the basement will be-
JOHN: Why are you so hellbent on getting to the basement?
ARTHUR:Didn’t you read what the paper said? The basement is –
JOHN: Arthur, why are you following something written on paper? I don’t understand why you believe you have no free will in this.
ARTHUR:I do. We do. I just…
JOHN: Just what?
ARTHUR(amidst Faroe’s song):There must be something bigger than you and I. How do you explain all that has transpired? How does it make sense otherwise?
JOHN: Arthur… early on, I told you that trying to apply reason to what is happening is only going to lead you to madness.
ARTHUR(sarcastic):Well, seeing as how we are trapped in a hotel by a monstrous spider, I’d say madness has found us.
JOHN: There, done.
(He lights the torch. It burns quietly.)
ARTHUR:More light? John? Can you see now? John?
JOHN(scared): We need to move.
ARTHUR:Why? What is –
JOHN: This is its home.
JOHN: Desiccated corpses line the walls, Arthur.
JOHN: Webbing is strung from wall to wall. Bones litter the floor. The gaunt faces of animals and humans drained of all life dot the gray, web-covered walls. (Insistent.)This is a tomb! Lift your leg high and take a big step forward. (Arthur steps.)That far, yes! Move quickly but listen for when I say stop.
(Arthur steps forward, shaky.)
ARTHUR:I don’t hear the spider anymore, maybe it’s given up.
JOHN: No. I think it’s hunting. Arthur, kill the torch.
(The flames extinguish. The wood clatters down.)
JOHN: I see the dim light of the stairwell. It’s covered in webs but… wait.
JOHN: I see it. It’s crawling its way across the ceiling. it hasn’t seen us yet. Arthur, don’t breathe.
(Arthur breathes shakily as the spider moves forward across the web.)
JOHN: It moves slowly as if trying to catch us off guard, it’s tasting the air. Arthur, move. Slowly, don’t run.
(Slowly, Arthur steps.)
JOHN: The stairs are to your left, head down them, quickly.
(He walks down a metal stairwell.)
JOHN: Keep going.
JOHN: I think it’s behind us, yes.
JOHN: This is the ground floor. Beside you, is the door leading to the basement… but.
JOHN: Arthur, we can also leave. The back door is still open, it’s just around the corner.
ARTHUR:You want to give in now?
JOHN: Something about this place, these people, this creature. I want answers, same as you, but –
ARTHUR:But what, John?
JOHN: At what cost? If finding these answers means-
(Faroe’s song begins to play.)
ARTHUR:It means we get our lives back. It means-
JOHN: 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?
ARTHUR:Why are you suddenly saying this? Hours ago, you-
JOHN: Hours ago, I wasn’t reading your story laid out before us on a piece of paper as if we were pawns.
ARTHUR:Why does that matter?
JOHN: It matters because I don’t know who I am.
ARTHUR:I… I don’t…
JOHN: 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?
JOHN: 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.
ARTHUR:Why are you telling me this, then?
JOHN: I don’t know.
ARTHUR: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.
JOHN(cautious): Do you?
ARTHUR: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.
JOHN: You shouldn’t. It’ll be the death of you, Arthur. We should leave right now, and never come back.
(END Part 11.)