A frightening past, a terrible storm, a monstrous presence...
Malevolent follows Arkham Investigator Arthur Lester as he unravels the mysterious circumstances that have befallen him. The Fifteenth installment finds Arthur desperately trying to escape the red desert. Despite a brief respite, the horrors that lurk in the sands hunger for fresh meat as difficulties begin to increase. Fresh on the heels of another lost traveler, Arthur and the entity must push forward and make difficult decisions with no clear understand of what they may bring. The desert calls and it grows harder to ignore the yearning presence that follows... 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 FIFTEEN - THE STORM
Original transcript by: Eggsy39 and Jack! Reviewed by Teakettle.
(Wood creaks – a bench. Someone starts to play the piano: a thoughtful, quiet piece. Occasionally they start over and begin again, playing slightly altered chords. From a distance, the sound of water running. The piano stops.)
ARTHUR(calling out):Tess? Tess? (A pause.)Faroe?
(Arthur stands from the piano bench, squeaking across the floor. He starts to walk.)
(A door creaks open and Arthur walks inside.)
(Another door opens as Arthur enters the room where water is running.)
ARTHUR(quiet):Oh, god. (He rushes over.)Faroe? (Gradually more upset.) Faroe! Fa-aroe, no. No! (Anguished.) No! (He starts to pant.) Faroe! Faroe!
(Something wet hits the ground.)
ARTHUR:No! Faroe! (As if strangled.) No!
(The audio distorts slightly, some whispers rising from the background. Arthur is gasping for air.)
JOHN(concerned):Are you alright?
ARTHUR:Yes. Why? (He sniffs.)
(Arthur rustles around in the bedding.)
ARTHUR(still upset):I’m just. (The mattress squeaks.) I’m just tired. It’s – it’s dry and…
(The bedding rustles. Arthur grunts as he stands in the desert apartment.)
ARTHUR(taking a deep breath, amidst the dream piano tune):Does… does everyone who dies… Does everyone that dies come here?
JOHN:No. Uh, the Dark World.
ARTHUR:Right, right. And you’re – and you’re sure they all go there?
JOHN:No. No, I’m not.
(Arthur’s clothing rustles.)
ARTHUR:Right, right. (He inhales sharply and clears his throat.)The tooth. The vanguard, it spoke to us last night, just as I was falling asleep.
JOHN:What did it say?
ARTHUR:It said: ‘Anna Stancyzk’.
ARTHUR(pleasantly surprised):Yes! We asked it who Anna was in the letter that Amanda had written.
JOHN:Well, that didn’t give us all that much.
ARTHUR:Stanczyk? You don’t remember? (Amidst the dream piano melody.)
ARTHUR:The house. In the wood. After our accident and the baby…
ARTHUR(quoting):God bless this baby Stanczyk?
JOHN(in realization):The wraith.
JOHN:Wait. The name we got from the birth certificate was a child… Erik.
ARTHUR:Exactly. This family is part of all of this.
ARTHUR:I-I don’t know, but that letter we read: the names, the places, it’s all starting to form a web. A puzzle being put together to form a dark and detailed picture… of what I don’t know.
ARTHUR(a grunt):God, I’m hungry. I wonder if there’s anything here.
(Grunting, Arthur steps away from the bed.)
JOHN:The cabinets are straight across the room.
(The floorboards creak.)
JOHN:I’ve been thinking about all of this, and I have to wonder what it all means. How it aids us.
ARTHUR(grunting in exertion):It doesn’t. Not in a way that I can tell, at least. It’s a mystery, John.
JOHN:Shouldn’t we be focusing on our way home?
(Arthur clatters glass jars together from the cabinet.)
ARTHUR:These people, there’s a story here that we have pieces of. If we can understand it.
JOHN:But it has nothing to do with us.
ARTHUR:Well, we don’t know that. The coincidences are piling up. You heard those masked men at the end. Before we arrived, all of this was predestined… so they said.
ARTHUR:Even that paper had encounters that we had. (Glass clinks.) There is no way they could have known that. Something about this experience thus far, it's… it’s been… preordained.
JOHN:Or so we’re meant to believe. There’s a jar of peaches here in this cupboard.
(Arthur grunts as he fiddles with foodstuff.)
ARTHUR:Brilliant. (He closes the cabinet with a grunt.)We don’t know. I don’t know. I can’t deny the words that were written on that paper in the hotel. Coincidence, maybe. But I have to function in the way that whatever happens to us is our own decision, otherwise I’ll do my head in.
(The chair squeaks across the floor.)
JOHN:If the man who left this letter, Frank, was also from Arkham and was trapped here there is no denying that finding him, or at least following his footsteps, is a smart path forward.
ARTHUR:Exactly. (Arthur pops open the jar and begins to eat. With his mouth full.)And even though he failed to protect Emily… (He swallows.) There’s no certainty that he hadn’t escaped. We can’t afford to think that bleak.
JOHN:Despite the logic.
JOHN(quoting, amidst Arthur’s chewing):“In the light of the blue sun which comes every two hours or so, the winds tend to die down. I do not know why. There I can see a cliff on the horizon. It is far away but tomorrow I will be heading out.” Then “Good luck, Henry” and so on.
ARTHUR:Mm. (He swallows.) Which tells us another thing.
(Arthur slurps the juice and swallows.)
ARTHUR:Henry never found this letter.
JOHN:That’s a bit of a leap. He could have just not seen it, we barely did… or he could’ve left it.
ARTHUR:Possible but doubtful. Leaving this behind was a risk to even Frank.
JOHN:Why a risk?
ARTHUR:Who knows who could find a letter like this? Obviously, these people made enemies, we were trapped here because… well…
JOHN:The King desires to be whole again.
ARTHUR:Exactly, and I’m not leaving this behind. Anyone could piece together a trail to pick up.
(Arthur slurps the rest of the juice, exhales, and stands. The chair squeaks across the floor.)
ARTHUR:Which is exactly what we’re going to do.
JOHN:After a change of clothes.
ARTHUR(brightly):Ah, right! Yes.
(He starts to walk.)
JOHN:So then Anna Stanczyk was the girl Amanda wrote to. The King killed Amanda back in Harper’s Hill.
(Arthur pulls his clothes off with a grunt and starts to rustle more on.)
JOHN:Do we think Anna is still alive?
ARTHUR:If it took the King this long to track down Amanda... maybe? (He sucks air through his teeth.)Remember these were the two girls that left that abandoned house we investigated back in Arkham: the one with the cavern hidden behind a wall and the gateway.
JOHN:Yes, I remember.
ARTHUR:If they’ve stayed alive this long…?
JOHN:We found Amanda-Sarah’s name from the newspaper clippings in the library. I wonder why they removed Anna’s name. They only said Amanda Cummings and another girl.
(Arthur fiddles with a belt. A gentle piano melody plays.)
ARTHUR:I don’t know. She grew up in the mansion in the woods, the one with the wraith. She must’ve lived a terribly complicated life.
JOHN:Yes. (He gasps, and continues brightly.)Look! Frank even left you a tie.
ARTHUR(exhale):That’s silly to wear, isn’t it?
JOHN(whimsical):Depends, do you feel more or less like yourself when you wear a tie?
ARTHUR(quiet):I do tend to feel more professional, I guess. And honestly, I haven’t felt like myself in a while.
JOHN:Then I say wear it. At the end of the day, might as well die wearing something you can be buried in.
(Arthur ties the tie.)
JOHN(proud):There. Looking like your old self.
ARTHUR:Okay, we head to the blue sun as soon as it appears, towards the… cliffs. Our goal now is to find Frank, I-I suppose. If he’s no longer there, then we look to find the path he took. If he intended to help Henry, he may have left some clues.
(Arthur starts to walk.)
ARTHUR:I nearly forgot about the Vanguard.
JOHN(growly sigh):Arthur. I told you previously, this is not a power to play with. Nothing of value can be –
ARTHUR:But it’s already told us something valuable.
JOHN:To whom? It told us who Amanda spoke with.
ARTHUR:Yes, and the next person we will be seeking... as soon as we get home.
ARTHUR:Don’t you understand? This girl, Anna Stanczyk, she’s our hope. We sought Amanda for answers, but she passed away before we could speak with her.
ARTHUR:Anna can help us! Once we’re back, we…
JOHN:Are you sure that’s wise?
ARTHUR:What do you mean? Of course. She’s going to help us.
JOHN:How do you know that?
ARTHUR:I know that because… Amanda would’ve helped us. She never escaped this… she…
JOHN:Died because of us.
ARTHUR:She did not. She died because of the King in Yellow.
JOHN:Except he only learned about her through you. Remember?
JOHN(amidst suspenseful music):While you were in a coma, he tricked you into telling him about her.
ARTHUR:No. That’s not, that's not it –
JOHN:Yes it is, Arthur. You keep putting this unfounded hope onto the shoulders of these people. You don’t know what you’re doing.
ARTHUR:I’m trying to save us.
JOHN:You’re trying to save you.
(Arthur continues to walk.)
JOHN:If finding Anna brings about her death too, are you able to accept that?
ARTHUR(stubborn):The King killed Amanda.
JOHN(disapproving):Alright, Arthur, ask your question. Seek your answers. Find Anna and risk another life, but don’t pretend another death wouldn’t be on our shoulders.
ARTHUR(exhale):I suppose you’re right. At this point, as much as answers would be beneficial, it’s not worth the risk. Plus, I don’t actually have anything extremely pressing on my mind. Everything is still sort of… ruminating.
JOHN:Thank you, Arthur.
ARTHUR:I’m not doing it for you… but you’re welcome. Anyway, I suppose we should leave. Is there anything of, use here? (He continues to walk.) Anything else? Anything we can take with us?
JOHN:Not really. Looking now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Frank took some of these things with him.
ARTHUR:How do you mean?
JOHN:Well, a few things here and there are gone. There’s a frame missing from the wall.
JOHN:Yes. It looks as though it hung there for some time, too.
ARTHUR:I guess… he took it as a memento?
JOHN:Yes, plus there’s no jacket or hat on the stand next to the door.
JOHN:I didn’t think much of it when we arrived, since I just assumed the house was empty, but after finding the peaches, it’s clear that this apartment was more or less as it was in the real world.
ARTHUR:Strange, still. I can’t imagine something with this amount of power.
JOHN:The things that can be accomplished are truly unfathomable.
ARTHUR(sarcastic):Wonderful. Alright, then.
(Arthur walks and opens the door. He starts to walk across the sand. Wind blows gently amidst eerie music.)
JOHN:Luck seems to be with us, Arthur. A bright blue star seems to bathe everything out here in a sharp, azure blue. The red sand hills that circled us are rather high. We’ll need to climb one.
ARTHUR:Okay. (Displeased.) I don’t miss this heat.
JOHN:It was nice to be out of it, at least for a little while.
(Arthur starts to climb the dune, amidst sounds of effort.)
JOHN:Much like when we arrived, the desert around us is comprised of tall dunes. While red, they seem dark and almost violet through the filter of the blue star. If it is a star.
ARTHUR(strained):What… exactly… is it?
JOHN:I have no idea, Arthur.
JOHN:Yes. Turn around.
(Arthur shifts around in the sand.)
JOHN(pleased):There! I see it.
JOHN:More than a cliff, it’s… massive. Like the base of a mountain. How did –?
ARTHUR:What they… appear, or?
JOHN:I don’t know. It’s possible the blue light is merely cutting through the heat haze, the shimmering it usually casts upon the desert.
ARTHUR:Or… this place is truly something with its own set of rules.
JOHN:I don’t know, but we should begin moving. I don’t know how long the sun will last.
JOHN:Head back down, it’s on the far side of the building.
(Arthur starts to go down the hill, displacing sand as he goes.)
JOHN:I’m not sure how many rules you think exist here.
ARTHUR:I just mean to say, I’m having a hard time separating what I know from what this place is. It’s difficult to divorce my understanding from that of my own solar system.
JOHN:The one Earth resides in.
ARTHUR:Yes. This way?
JOHN:Yes. It’s funny to think of how much you all devote to that planet.
ARTHUR:What do you mean? How is that funny?
JOHN:I… (Arthur grunts.) I’ve watched a lot of civilizations rise and fall, and all the gods and nightmares you can imagine play games with all of it.
ARTHUR:You remember that?
JOHN:Bits and pieces, Arthur, of course I remember things. Just as you cannot divorce your prior experiences to view this world wholly on its own, I cannot remove myself from my past.
Arthur(still grunting with effort.):So it’s funny to you that I… devote myself to that planet.
JOHN:It’s just… a concept that I haven’t experienced.
ARTHUR:Except you are learning about meaning. About connecting.
JOHN:Yes. I suppose so.
ARTHUR:Does no part of you miss where we were?
ARTHUR:What about a part of me within you? Or rather the part of me that we share?
JOHN:I… I guess I can’t tell the difference.
ARTHUR:Well! Then maybe there’s –
JOHN(overlapping):I suppose I do miss... the piano.
(A melancholy tune begins to play.)
ARTHUR(laughing in surprise):The piano?
ARTHUR:Why? You’ve never played.
JOHN:I guess not.
ARTHUR:That’s very funny.
ARTHUR(happy):I don’t know. I guess? I don’t know.
JOHN:You miss the piano.
ARTHUR:No. No, I don’t.
JOHN:But you played.
JOHN:Did you compose songs?
ARTHUR:Sometimes, yes. One or two, here or there.
ARTHUR(more cautious):Yes, John.
JOHN(inhale): Well, either way, I suppose the feeling of missing the piano is carried over.
ARTHUR:Well, I suppose it’ll be a little tougher now.
ARTHUR:Yes, how does it look?
JOHN:Not great. The branch is dark. I can’t tell If it’s just stained with old blood or.. Or drawing some from us, but… it’s taken on a slightly maroon hue.
ARTHUR:Does it… hurt? I can’t…
JOHN:Somehow, if we manage to escape the Dreamlands, I doubt we’ll be unscathed.
(He continues to walk.)
JOHN:I think I see something just over the next dune.
JOHN:No, that’s still a ways away… but it looks like a large object. Maybe a large stone. As we move closer to the cliff, the landscape is changing slightly. The dunes are growing smaller.
ARTHUR:I’ll be glad to be out of this damn desert.
JOHN:Oh. The light is changing now.
ARTHUR:Well, well just have to keep course as best we can.
JOHN:No, it’s something else…?
ARTHUR:What do you mean?
JOHN:Something is coming.
(An ominous sound rises – like high-speed wind.)
ARTHUR:What is it?
JOHN:It’s growing in the distance. A dark cloud, like a...
JOHN:Yes. (Suspenseful clap of music.) Arthur, it’s approaching fast.
ARTHUR(alarmed):We need to move, now!
(Arthur starts to run, breathing hard. Wind blows all around them, kicking up sand.)
ARTHUR(shouting to be heard): God damn it. Should we turn back?
(Arthur continues to run.)
JOHN(barking):Arthur! Keep going! Whatever is ahead of us, we can hide behind it!
ARTHUR:What is it?
JOHN:A boat. A large boat, maybe a hundred feet long. It’s covered in rust and lying more or less upright in the sand.
JOHN:The storm is almost on us! (A pause.)Here it comes!
(As the sand and wind cyclone around him, Arthur screams in pain.)
JOHN:Arthur, there’s a break in the hull, to your right. Move. Here!
(Still screaming in pain, Arthur hides in the boat. The wind goes quieter. Arthur grunts and tries to collect himself, panting heavily.)
JOHN:Arthur, you’re bleeding.
ARTHUR:Oh, Jesus Christ. (In pain.)Ah.
JOHN:The wind has torn some skin from the right side of your face. It’s difficult to see out of your right eye.
(Arthur makes noises of pain: namely, panting hard and spitting on the ground.)
JOHN:If we had been caught out there…
ARTHUR(voice rough):Well, we said… we wouldn’t be unscathed. (He spits.)Where are we?
JOHN:The hull of a large fishing boat, I-I think. There was a large hole that we entered into. The light is dim from the storm outside but I think I see a small ladder leading up. It may be partly broken. The rest of the ship is all above us.
ARTHUR:Huh. Well, we should be able to wait out the storm. (He makes noises of pain.)
ARTHUR:I don’t know. I don’t think so. I think a moment to rest is ideal.
(From far away, a creature growls. Arthur inhales in fear.)
JOHN:We’re not alone down here. (Quieter, amidst rising suspenseful music.)Arthur, you can still make it to the ladder.
ARTHUR:It may not see us here, we’re against the wall.
JOHN:I think… It’s moving.
ARTHUR: The ladder. Where is it?
JOHN:Straight ahead. Are you…?
ARTHUR:Yes. This way?
(Arthur steps forward, breathing shakily.)
JOHN:I see it. Growing from where it was coiled in the dark end of the hull. It’s large and limbless. It wears a serpent like-hood that stretches out behind its head, elongated ribs of orange and blue.
ARTHUR(whispering fiercely):The ladder, John.
JOHN:Arthur. It’s glowing faintly from cracks in its segmented armor, emitting small swirls of phosphorescent smoke. (The creature lets out a shrieking call.)It’s maybe 15 feet long.
ARTHUR:Oh, for fuck’s sake.
(He continues to move forward, breathing heavily and grunting in exertion.)
JOHN:Oh. Yes! There, before you. It’s watching us, Arthur. The glowing between its plates is becoming brighter.
(Crackling static electricity builds. An electric projectile shoots in Arthur’s direction and Arthur grunts in pain.)
JOHN:Arthur, it’s shooting something. Electrical!
(He continues to climb at an accelerated pace, grunting. He pulls himself upward.)
JOHN:Arthur. It’s still down there. It looks like it’s moving slowly.
ARTHUR:Fuck. What the hell was it shooting?
JOHN:Some sort of energy discharge. It came toward us in an arc.
ARTHUR:I could feel it in my hands on the ladder. Like… lightning. I could feel it burning my hands. (He grunts in pain.)Can it get up here?
JOHN:No, the passage up is too small.
(The creature continues to make noise far below. The metal of the ship creaks.)
ARTHUR:And where are we?
JOHN:We’re in a large cabin area. It's an enclosed space with porthole windows in all directions.
ARTHUR:Yes, the storm must be raging outside, I can feel the boat shifting.
JOHN:There’s a door leading out towards the back deck of the boat. It’s relatively flimsy looking. Around us are tossed and used mattresses, perhaps a kitchenette at one time. All of it destroyed. This is more or less an open space with a second door leading to the front of the boat... toward what must be the helm.
ARTHUR:Well, if it can’t get up, then –
(A heavy thumping noise. The creature screeches again.)
JOHN:Arthur,get back! It’s trying to make the hole bigger.
ARTHUR:Is there anything in here we can use to fight?
JOHN(exhale):There’s an old metal pole from one of the cots you can try to remove.
JOHN:To our left. Down. There.
(Straining, Arthur picks it up.)
JOHN:Arthur, I don’t know how useful this will be.
ARTHUR(groaning):Have any better ideas?
JOHN:It has plates of armor. You’d have to get right between them.
ARTHUR:Great. (He struggles.)Is this thing …?
JOHN:It’s coming loose, keep pulling.
(Arthur starts to bend the metal, grunting in exertion.)
JOHN(uncertain):We could brave the storm.
ARTHUR:I can still feel the blood on my face, John. We wouldn’t last twenty seconds out there.
JOHN:What if we lured it out?
JOHN(frustrated):I don’t know, Arthur!
(Arthur finally pries out the metal pole, causing a metal bearing to clang against the floor. Arthur exhales heavily. Another metal clang and the creature starts to violently screech at him, making Arthur reel back in fear.)
JOHN:Arthur!Get back! It’s almost able to get its head in.
ARTHUR:Where is the hole?
JOHN:Just before us, about three feet.
ARTHUR:Which end is the sharp?
(Arthur moves the pole around.)
ARTHUR:Okay. When it shows its face, tell me.
JOHN:Alright. Wait. (Commanding.) Now!
(Arthur swings the pole down. The creature cries out in pain. Both John and Arthur groan loudly in pain, as if being electrocuted, and the pole clatters to the ground. Both breathe heavily, Arthur almost whimpering.)
JOHN:It’s electrical, Arthur.
ARTHUR:I don’t know!
JOHN:Wait. (Arthur lets out his breath.)It’s stopped.
ARTHUR(hoarse):Where did it go?
JOHN:I think it left.
ARTHUR:You think it… properly left, or?
JOHN:Check outside, through one of the portholes
(Arthur moves towards the window, stepping through sand.)
JOHN:I can’t see through the storm… and not being able to use your other eye is making it very difficult. I don’t think it’s clever enough to –
(The creature hisses and bangs against the door.)
JOHN:Arthur, it’s breaking down the door! Move back down, quickly!
(Arthur starts to run. Suspenseful music plays.)
ARTHUR:What now! Is there anything else down here?
JOHN:It was curled up in the corner.
JOHN:There. No, there.
(He starts to walk, breathing heavily.)
JOHN(in horror):Arthur. (The dream piano music.) It wasn’t just seeking shelter from the storm, there’s a number of eggs here.
ARTHUR(frustrated):Well, what the fuck are we supposed to do?
JOHN:There’s some bent sheet metal here... the sand, it’s been well used.
ARTHUR(gagging):It smells awful.
JOHN:It looks like there’s a pile of refuse to the side, things it might have thrown up. The engine is back here as well… for the ship.
ARTHUR:Okay, and… wait. How rusted is it?
JOHN:Spotted with rust, but intact for the most part. Why?
ARTHUR:Is there a place for fuel?
(Arthur gets closer. In the background, something bangs around the ship. The wind is still audible.)
JOHN:Yes, there’s a cap back here.
(Making noises of exertion, Arthur turns the gas cap. He sniffs loudly.)
ARTHUR:It’s volatile, explosive.
JOHN:Even if it’s ancient?
ARTHUR:I don’t know! But with how conductive this boat is, if we can find a way to leak it…
(Suspenseful music rises.)
JOHN:The side looks rusted, perhaps we can puncture it.
(Something crashes up above.)
JOHN:It’s broken into the cabin above us. We need to be quick before it realizes –
(Multiple thuds against metal, accompanied by Arthur’s grunting.)
JOHN:You’re kicking it?
ARTHUR:We just need! (He grunts.)A small! (Grunts.) Crack.
(Gasoline starts to drip out at a slow trickle.)
JOHN:It’s broken, gasoline is pouring out. Now what?
ARTHUR:We, we need to be up or, or down or –
JOHN:Isn’t this going to explode?
ARTHUR:Yes. Which is why we need to be above it, er, I guess, or –
(Closer, the creature growls.)
JOHN:Arthur, it’s back.
JOHN:The ladder is to your right. Move!
(Making noises of fear, Arthur starts to run.)
JOHN(in dread):It’s charging up.
(Arthur starts to climb.)
JOHN(in alarm):Arthur, jump!
(The engine explodes in a large fireball. Afterwards, fire roars and the remains of the ship creaks.)
ARTHUR(quietly):Jesus. Is it dead?
JOHN:I don’t know, Arthur. There’s smoke coming from below.
ARTHUR(shaky):That was not a well thought out plan.
JOHN:No, it wasn’t.
(Arthur stands, groaning. He walks along the sand.)
JOHN:It looks like it’s blown a hole clean through the side of the ship. The wind has put most of the fire out. I see the creature, it’s not stirring.
ARTHUR(groan): Let’s call it dead for now. (He makes a noise of pain.)
JOHN:Are you alright?
ARTHUR(breathless):My fingertips, are seared off. I-I still feel the warm blood on my face from the storm…
JOHN:Yes, we need to find a way to clean that eye. I’m worried we may lose it.
ARTHUR(sarcastic):Brilliant. I wonder if that creature had anything on it.
JOHN:In what way?
ARTHUR:I don’t know. All the pile of refuse down there, it... it’s been out here for some time. Perhaps Frank didn’t make it to the cliffs.
JOHN:You think we should poke around down there some more?
ARTHUR:It’s an option.
JOHN:I think we should leave well enough alone and find a way to clean your eye before we lose it.
ARTHUR:We’ll do that regardless, I’m just saying, perhaps we should poke around down there to – to see if it’s truly dead. And there could be any number of clues as to its previous victims.
JOHN(warning):Arthur, if we lose this eye…
ARTHUR:Is there anything up here we can use? You said this was a sleeping area. More or less.
JOHN:Less. the ship has been tossed.
JOHN:As if it was literally rolled down a dune. (Mysterious music plays.)
ARTHUR:How on earth did something like this end up here?
JOHN:The same way as us, I assume.
ARTHUR:Alright, well. Anything that looks like it would hold personal effects?
JOHN:There are some bags, but… oh! Lockers. A bank of them lying in the corner to the front of the boat.
(He starts to walk. Occasionally, metal clangs.)
ARTHUR:To transport an entire boat here.
JOHN:By your feet.
JOHN:There are still three attached together, one is open and more or less empty. The other two are still closed.
(Arthur grunts in exertion and opens a locker door.)
ARTHUR:What’s in this one?
JOHN:It’s been through the ringer. There’s a broken mirror, a pair of boots... what looks like a life preserver… a-and a shaving kit.
ARTHUR:No water or any safe liquid?
JOHN:None that I can see.
(He opens another door with a grunt.)
ARTHUR:What about this one?
JOHN:Looks like there’s a black rain jacket and hat… a box of large hooks… there’s a flask here, as well.
ARTHUR:Well, that’s the worst thing we could wash our eye with… unless.
(Arthur unscrews the flask, takes a drink, and starts to cough.)
ARTHUR:Yeah! No. Not water.
JOHN:Should we take any of this?
ARTHUR:I… I don’t know. (Questioning piano music.) I guess so, right?
JOHN:This is no longer Arkham, nor is it Earth. Things like these, even seemingly mundane items, could end up saving our lives.
ARTHUR:I suppose so, yes. Let’s take the lot.
JOHN:Even the boots?
ARTHUR:Well. Right, I-I don't want to weigh us down. Is the raincoat heavy? (He moves the raincoat around.) Feels like it… let’s bring the shaving kit, the hooks and the flask. Leave the life preserver as well as the other stuff.
JOHN:Alright. The hooks are on the bottom.
(Arthur rattles the items, stowing some away.)
ARTHUR:The shaving kit?
JOHN:Near top of the locker.
(He pulls the shaving kit out.)
ARTHUR:Okay. Where else, the… uh. Bridge?
JOHN:To the front of the boat. The right of us some more.
JOHN:There’s a small door here, it's meant to slide open.
(Grunting, Arthur pulls open the door.)
JOHN:The helm is small and enclosed. The glass is still intact. It doesn’t look like it’s taken nearly as much damage.
ARTHUR:What the hell happened here? Besides the boat being brought to the Dreamlands. Though I can’t imagine why… there are no bodies anywhere, either.
JOHN:No. There seems to be a small set of stairs here that lead toward the front of the boat through a small doorway.
ARTHUR:Oh? Back to the hull?
JOHN:No. Toward the front of the boat, the hold didn’t go any further. This must be something else.
ARTHUR:Oh. Nothing else in here, though?
(Arthur starts to rustle some paper.)
ARTHUR:Where were they? Where was the boat?
JOHN:Uh. I have no real way of knowing. It’s in a language I don’t recognize. (Reading.) “Hesselø Bugt”? It could be Danish.
(Arthur walks and encounters trouble at the door.)
ARTHUR:The door feels jammed.
JOHN:Try lifting up before pushing.
(Grunting in exertion, the latch shifts open.)
(He walks in.)
JOHN:These are most definitely the captains quarters. A small cot lay to the left of the doorway, a simple sink at the foot of it. However… someone has been here.
JOHN:Not recently but… this was used, perhaps for a fair amount of time before… whoever was here left.
JOHN:I don’t think so. (Arthur walks in further.)There is a small stove that must’ve been used to cook whatever strange food this person could find. There’s a series of drawings on the wall. It looks… (More excited.)It looks like it’s a map! Like they were charting the desert.
JOHN:They’ve drawn a number of things… more I don’t recognize. However, I do see the canyon we passed. To the west of here, it seems.
JOHN:Yes, they’re here, close by, but they’re crossed out.
JOHN:There are lines through them. It may not signify crossed out. I’m not entirely sure what his intention was here. Clearly it wasn’t meant for anyone but himself.
ARTHUR:Im-impassable or no longer there or…?
JOHN:I don’t know, Arthur.
ARTHUR:Damn. (He rustles the map.)Is there anything else?
JOHN:On the map? They’ve mapped out distances... perhaps feet, as they’re in the thousands. They must’ve walked in every direction as far as possible then come back to write their findings. To the south of us, I’d call it, he does indicate something.
ARTHUR:What is it?
JOHN:If I were to guess, it looks like a crude drawing of a flower bulb, but I don’t know what that means.
ARTHUR:How many feet?
JOHN:There is something he’s drawn beyond the cliffs.
ARTHUR:What? (He rustles the map.)
JOHN:I don’t know, it looks like… a pillar. (A pause.)But in either direction from the cliffs he’s also drawn… skulls.
ARTHUR:So the cliff is crossed out. To meet it and follow it in either direction is death… and beyond that, he’s indicated that in thousands of feet in any other direction is nothing… other than the flower bulb.
JOHN:That’s what it appears to be.
(The wind quiets.)
JOHN:Sounds like the storm is dying now.
ARTHUR(sighing):Alright, alright. He’s not here.
ARTHUR:Was he met with tragedy or… did he find a way out. Perhaps a way to pass the cliff? What’s left in here? Obviously, he left the things in the lockers, so.
JOHN:The room is basic. The desk is riddled with straw-like fibers, thin and hair like, but long. There’s a number of empty cans. There’s no food on the stove, the stores of what he must’ve accumulated are gone… perhaps he took them with him.
ARTHUR:Hair like fibers?
JOHN:Yes, they seem mundane, though curious.
ARTHUR:Does it look like he packed up?
JOHN:If I were to make an educated guess… yes. It looks as though he’s taken a number of things from this room.
JOHN(pleased):Oh, water! There’s water, Arthur. A jug near the desk on the floor.
(Arthur walks over.)
JOHN:The sink is at the foot of the bed.
(The sound of water dripping. Arthur hisses in pain.)
JOHN:Much better. It’s still difficult to see out of, but I can’t feel any more sand in it.
ARTHUR(relieved):Uh. Well, that’s a load off.
ARTHUR:Alright. This person was trapped here, like us. However, unlike Frank, or us, they decided to live here. To find a way to survive.
JOHN:A smart decision.
ARTHUR:Yes. They’ve mapped out a place to the south and to the cliffs, which may or may not be passable. (Thoughtful music plays.)However, Frank headed to those cliffs.
JOHN:Frank may also have come across this ship.
ARTHUR:We don’t know how long it’s been here.
JOHN:It definitely looks like it’s been here longer than Frank’s apartment.
ARTHUR:Okay. Okay, but still. That’s a pretty shaky premise. Whatever is to the south of us, was not so important that he didn’t come back after finding it, otherwise he wouldn’t have mapped it out.
JOHN:It’s only 1600 feet away.
ARTHUR:If feet is the operative word. We’re assuming that. Besides, the desert is a tricky place in and of itself, and very difficult to navigate.
JOHN:I think it’s worth at least checking out. Who knows what benefit it could be to us.
JOHN:Regardless, the storm has ended and we should move quickly, before another one starts up.
ARTHUR:Right, okay. Look, the cliffs will be there, they’re not moving.
JOHN:As far as we know.
ARTHUR(scoffing):Let’s see what this “flower bulb” is. It could be something useful or, important.
ARTHUR:Yes, we have no real proof that Frank wasn’t here and he may have come to the same conclusion as we did, perhaps he headed south as well.
ARTHUR:Is there anything else we should take from here?
JOHN:Nothing of any perceived value. Again, it seems like this place was more or less emptied.
ARTHUR:Okay. Wait, so. Which way is south?
JOHN:If the map is any indication, the cliffs – the direction we were originally heading, are west of here. The port side of the ship. So if we head straight from the stern, we should be heading south.
ARTHUR:Then if we ever want to get to the cliffs…
JOHN:We just need to head right.
ARTHUR:Sounds… foolproof. (He scoffs.)
JOHN:We also have the blue sunrise to guide us should we get properly turned around.
ARTHUR:True. Alright, then.
(He walks, opening and closing the door again. The wind rises up, albeit quieter.)
JOHN:The door is to your left.
(He slides the door open. Arthur moves forward.)
JOHN:The ladder is straight ahead.
(Arthur moves down the ladder, grunting in exertion.)
JOHN:The creature is clearly dead. Crumpled into a blackened, smoldering pile in the corner.
ARTHUR:It was close, there.
(He steps into sand.)
JOHN:The hole in the hull is just to your left.
(Metal clanks as Arthur walks through to the desert.)
JOHN:The yellow sun is high in the mid-sky again, directly above us.
ARTHUR(sighing):It’s already so hot. I can barely feel the breath moving from my lips.
JOHN:Well, let’s just hope that number was counted in steps. Straight ahead.
(He walks forward. Arthur sighs.)
ARTHUR:If we were lost in the desert?
ARTHUR(chuckling humorlessly):I mean to say, if we had taken the approach that he did and stayed put… how would you have measured distance?
JOHN:I don’t know, I suppose footsteps is a fair measurement. If we’re the only ones keeping track.
ARTHUR:Should we have stayed by the lake?
JOHN:No. The King would have found us.
ARTHUR:You’re certain? He hasn’t found us yet.
ARTHUR:Yet the soldiers did.
JOHN:I’m not entirely sure, but I assume they didn’t need to track us by physical means.
ARTHUR:And the King does?
JOHN:I’m not sure. Perhaps.
JOHN:This is his domain, he is more or less all-powerful here, as if he were a god.
JOHN:However, as we know, a piece of him – me – is preventing him from becoming whole.
JOHN:While I understand that he cannot do certain things, the extent to which he cannot do them is still a mystery. Suffice to say the last thing we want is for he and I to be reunited.
ARTHUR(surprised):You mean that.
JOHN:Of course I do.
(They walk forward.)
ARTHUR:So what is our contingency plan?
JOHN:What do you mean?
ARTHUR:Let’s say… (He grunts.) For a moment that the worst should happen, that he should find us. What is our contingency? What do we do?
JOHN:You mean… to prevent him from becoming whole again?
(Amidst sad music.)
JOHN:I don’t know.
ARTHUR:Do we… end it?
JOHN(surprised):End it? You mean kill yourself?
JOHN:I’m not sure. That may just grant me control of you.
JOHN:I’m not entirely certain, but… I feel like we are two competing… souls, for lack of a better term, trapped inside one body. When you lose control of a part of you, I gain it. Using that logic, if you should lose your entire body… well, I suppose I would take over.
ARTHUR(grunting in exertion):Not if there was nothing left to take over.
ARTHUR:I mean… a bullet through the brain. Metaphorically speaking, since we don’t have a gun.
ARTHUR:Look, if he should come for us and I cannot stop him… if we cannot stop him… then it’s no different to me. I’m dead, either way.
JOHN(shocked):You’re serious about this.
ARTHUR:I don’t know. Maybe. Yes. If you reuniting with him means… untold death and destruction for any number of people then… then why wouldn’t I? I have no chance of surviving in any case.
JOHN:Well. Let’s do everything we can to make that not a possibility. But… thank you.
ARTHUR:Don’t thank me yet. That’s a bigif. followed by some thin ‘could’s’, and dotted with some proper ‘hopes’. My hope is still to get my body back.
(They walk forward.)
JOHN:Do you think that’s been 1600 steps?
ARTHUR:Shit. I wasn’t counting, why?
JOHN:Because there’s a hole in front of us.
JOHN:It’s on an angle downward into the desert, carved into sandstone rock.
ARTHUR:Nothing else around?
ARTHUR:Nothing… flower bulb shaped?
JOHN:Not that I can see. It is sort of round?
ARTHUR:Hm. Well, 1600 isn’t a large number. Must be less than a kilometer and we’ve been walking less than a kilometer.
JOHN:It’s large enough for us to enter easily, without ducking or anything. The walls look, as I said, carved, though fairly smooth. Not like the holes dug into the side of the canyon that housed those eggs.
ARTHUR:Well, look. We’ve walked as the crow flies, more or less, there’s no reason to think that this person wouldn’t have come across this. They didn’t mark it on the map which means, perhaps, whatever the flower bulb is… is in there.
ARTHUR:Besides, I'm keen to have any excuse to get out of the heat.
JOHN:Alright. The ground grows hard a few steps ahead.
(Arthur walks, more on gravel than sand. A slight echo.)
JOHN:It’s growing dark quickly, Arthur. Grab the lighter.
(He does so, flicking it on.)
JOHN:The tunnel splits. Left or right?
ARTHUR:Oh. Right for now, we’ll keep one hand on the wall so we can retrace.
(Arthur is echoing more. He continues to walk.)
JOHN:Yes, this isn’t an easy –
(Arthur steps in something squishy.)
ARTHUR:Ugh. What is that?
JOHN:You’ve stepped into something wet. Bend down.
(Arthur does so. The liquid oozes.)
JOHN:It looks blackish, almost like oil, though when you pull your foot up it sticks. In the light, I can see it has pulp-like fibers under the surface.
JOHN:Arthur, they’re moving, writhing. Tiny thin creatures in this viscous substance.
ARTHUR(sarcastic):Lovely. I think we’ve overstayed our welcome. Let’s leave.
JOHN:Okay. Back the way we came.
JOHN:No. No, Arthur, stop!
ARTHUR:What? This was left.
JOHN:We came in on the right.
ARTHUR(argumentative):And so if we’re turning around, the left is the way…
JOHN(frustrated):I’m the one with the eyes! There were two tunnels we came from. (ARTHUR:The left is where the –) In this room, we came from the one on the right. You’re confused because the wall turned sharply. Now go back the way we came.
ARTHUR:Fine. This way?
JOHN:I-I – (In frustration.)Well, now I don’t know. You turned too fast. There are 4 small exits in this junction.
ARTHUR(annoyed):You’re kidding me.
JOHN:No, I’m not Arthur. This wouldn’t have happened if you were patient and waited for me to tell you where to go.
ARTHUR(interrupting, offended):Me! I was –
JOHN:Quiet, let me look. (He sighs.)Bend down, we may have left footprints from the black ichor we stepped in. (Arthur does so. In alarm.)What?
JOHN:Your footprints, they’re already being covered by a thin layer of gray moss. It’s growing over the floor. Uniformly, as if….
ARTHUR:As if to hide the way we came.
(A shuffling noise.)
WHISPER(from the silence):What… are… you?
ARTHUR:Where is… who –
JOHN:There’s no one around us.
WHISPER:What… are… you?
WHISPER:Are… you… frightened?
WHISPER:You… feel… frightened.
ARTHUR(quiet):We just want to leave.
WHISPER:You are frightened.
ARTHUR(whispering):Yes, because we are frightened.
ARTHUR:Because we don’t know what you are.
WHISPER:Do you wish to see?
ARTHUR:Because of what you may be.
JOHN:Arthur, the moss is growing around us now. (Something squishy and moving.) it’s clinging to the edges of our shoes, it’s trying to climb up your leg.
WHISPER:Why did you come to me?
ARTHUR:Why won’t you let us leave?
WHISPER(more forceful, ominous): Why did you come to me?
ARTHUR:We, we thought you’d be something else. Something that might help us.
WHISPER:Help you how?
ARTHUR:H-help us escape the Dreamlands.
JOHN:Our feet are covered in the moss! (Barking.)Arthur, snap out of it!
WHISPER:Why do you want to escape?
ARTHUR:Because we don’t belong here.
JOHN(annoyed):It doesn’t want to help us, Arthur, it wants to dev-
WHISPER:Where do you belong?
ARTHUR:We belong back on –
JOHN(barking):Arthur! You need to leave this place before it’s too late.
ARTHUR:We belong back on Earth. Can you help us?
JOHN(demanding):Listen to me!