Oct. 19, 2021

Part 16 "The Path"

Part 16

A hungry creature, a mysterious pillar, a treacherous path...

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Malevolent follows Arkham Investigator Arthur Lester as he unravels the mysterious circumstances that have befallen him. In this, our Sixteenth installment of Malevolent, we find Arthur narrowly escaping certain death. The desert is soon behind him and darkness awaits. Within the cavernous halls of the mountain, he must find a way to move forward without losing himself. One wrong move can quickly bring an end to his journey... 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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Original transcript by Croik and Jack! Reviewed by mintea.


(BEGIN Part 16.)


JOHN(amidst suspenseful strings):Move! You’re falling right into what it wants. God damn it, move, Arthur!


ARTHUR(dazed): I… I don’t want to.


(Arthur is slapped. Flies buzz.)


ARTHUR:Fuck! But it – it!


JOHN:It’s telling you what you want to hear! (Commanding.)Now move!


ARTHUR(groaning, ripping his leg out of moss):Where?




WHISPER:Why… are… you running?




JOHN:Right! Stay right.


WHISPER:Where do you plan to go?


(Arthur continues to move forward.)


JOHN:Left, Arthur, again!


ARTHUR:I… ooph! (Arthur impacts something solid and falls.)God damn it! (He winces in pain.)What the hell did we trip on?


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


(He flicks the lighter.)


ARTHUR:How? There’s no way out.


JOHN(amazed):There’s – there’s something here. Beneath the moss you tripped on.




(Grunting, Arthur rummages below the moss.)


JOHN:It’s... remains.




JOHN:Human remains.




JOHN:It might be the man from the boat.


ARTHUR:God damn.


JOHN:The flesh has been stripped from his body, but… the things he carried remained. Th-there’s a large rope. He’s coiled it around his body.




JOHN:There’s also a lantern. A bullseye lantern with a shutter.


ARTHUR:A lantern?


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


ARTHUR:Okay. (He picks up the lantern.) It’ll be easier to use than the lighter. (Using the lighter, he lights it and shuts the door.)We need to find the way out.


(Violins fade for eerie piano.)


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


ARTHUR:Okay, but –


JOHN(interrupting):No, Arthur. A strange black smoke trails from the burning wick in a line. As if... leading us.




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


WHISPER:Where… are… you?


(Suspenseful violins.)


JOHN:Move! (Arthur does so, grunting in exertion.)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!


WHISPER:Come back.


JOHN:Keep your hand on the left wall.


WHISPER:Come back.


JOHN:Left again! (The lantern clangs occasionally.)Keep right.


ARTHUR:I feel like we’re moving deeper in. Are you sure?


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


WHISPER:I… smell… you.


JOHN:Stop! (Arthur stops.)Above us. The smoke is rising straight up.




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


ARTHUR:The ceiling?


JOHN:Yes. I think – I think we can break through.


WHISPER:I’m… so… hungry.


JOHN(commanding): Now, Arthur!


(The music intensifies. Arthur grunts and starts to climb, sending pebbles falling below him. The being whispers cajolingly behind him before rising into a high-pitched screech. Arthur escapes and sits in the sand amidst the wind.)


ARTHUR(panting):Ah, Jesus. Is it? Is it…?


JOHN:No, it’s not following.


ARTHUR(tired):God damn it. (He steps into the sand.)


JOHN(furious):What the fuck is wrong with you!?


ARTHUR:What? Me?


JOHN:Why didn’t you move?


ARTHUR:I did – I-I co… I couldn’t help it, it –


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


(Arthur grunts and shifts the moss off.)


JOHN:You need to listen to me next time.


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




ARTHUR:I… I-I don’t know.


JOHN(after a pause):Let’s just head towards the cliffs. I’m tired of this fucking desert.


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


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




(Arthur grunts and starts to walk.)


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


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


ARTHUR:This is far from home.


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


ARTHUR:Well, I at least want to get away from this hole. (He grunts and starts to walk.)


JOHN:Okay. Don’t forget the lantern!


ARTHUR:Right! (Arthur picks up the lantern. The metal clangs softly.)What the fuck is this thing? It revealed a… a way out?


JOHN: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…


ARTHUR:More what?


JOHN:I don’t know. Seemed… stiff in the air.


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


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


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


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


ARTHUR:No, but… if that were him.


JOHN: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.


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


JOHN(not understanding):A what?


ARTHUR:A pitcher plant. It’s a carnivorous plant that catches flies by emitting a sugary secretion, and then when the fly lands it… it closes its lid.




ARTHUR:Look, I’d rather walk inany direction than none, right now.


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


ARTHUR(weary sigh):The lantern. Did I say that we were looking for a way out before we lit it?


JOHN:I don’t recall. I think so.


ARTHUR:I wonder why it guided us.


JOHN:You think it’s worth trying again?


(Arthur flicks on his lighter. The lantern squeaks.)


ARTHUR:We want to find the cliffs. (He lights and closes the lantern.)Anything?


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


ARTHUR:Brilliant! Th-The left?




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


JOHN:More or less.


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


(He blows out the lantern.)


JOHN:Alright. We have our direction.


(There’s silence as Arthur starts to walk.)


ARTHUR(exhale):Did we nearly die back there?


JOHN:Yes. (Amidst melancholic piano music.)




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


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


JOHN:More to what?


ARTHUR:I feel it could’ve told us something. (At a loss.)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’s our enemy here, and if –


JOHN(frustrated):Everyone, Arthur! Everyone is our enemy. What don’t you get about that?


ARTHUR:That’s not true! The trader, the three soldiers… both of –


(The music briefly mirrors Faroe’s Song before picking up, growing faster.)


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


ARTHUR:What? What is – what is that supposed to mean?


JOHN(furious):We’re lost in the Dreamlands, Arthur, why thefuck do you care about making allies?


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


JOHN(calmer):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.


ARTHUR:Well, that’s a really cold way to view the world, John. If we deci –


JOHN(exploding):This isn’t the world, Arthur! The sky is dark for a matter of minutes, the sands are red, the colors 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.


(Arthur walks, silent.)


JOHN: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.


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


JOHN:Then we miss a chance, but we’re alive. (The music stops.) That’s a fair trade, Arthur, as far as I’m concerned.




JOHN(sighing):I lost you there for a moment, Arthur. You seemed… enthralled.


ARTHUR:I suppose I was.


(The dream piano melody starts up.)


JOHN: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.




JOHN:Yes, we’re... oh! We’re nearly there. It’s right before us, somehow hidden against the heat of the desert. (In awe. Suspenseful strings rise.)Arthur, it’s… massive. This is no cliff – it’s the base of a mountain.




JOHN:Keep going.


(Arthur walks forward.)


JOHN:Here. Stop.


ARTHUR:Well. What now?


JOHN: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.




JOHN:It would be slow going.


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




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


JOHN: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.


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


JOHN:Alright. Right or left?


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




(Arthur walks. The lantern squeaks.)


JOHN:You should put the lamp away, Arthur.


ARTHUR:Right, you don’t think it will, ah…?


JOHN:It may come in handy.


(He sets the lantern down.)


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


JOHN:Assuming it doesn’t have a cost.


ARTHUR:A cost?


JOHN:Remember what Armitage said, Arthur – like the tooth in your pocket, or knowledge that isn’t meant for you. Everything has a cost.


ARTHUR:You think the lantern does too?


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




(He puts the lantern away.)


ARTHUR:What is… oh, right! The glass!




ARTHUR:The glass that the trader gave to us. (Arthur rummages around for it.)Wait, what did you see in the glass again? It was… it was a cliff, wasn’t it?


JOHN(eager):Yes! A stone bluff, I believe.


ARTHUR:Cost aside, we should look through again.




(Arthur takes out the glass. A high pitched tharamine-noise, amidst eerie piano melody.)


JOHN: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 cliffs we’re at now!


ARTHUR:I knew it!


JOHN: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 color 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!


ARTHUR(laughing in triumph):Amazing!


JOHN:Well done.


ARTHUR:I knew it sounded familiar.


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


ARTHUR:Yes! The Glass of Leng. That’s what it was called, wasn’t it?


JOHN:I believe so.


ARTHUR: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…?


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


ARTHUR:Of things?




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


(Arthur continues to walk. He hums the dream piano melody softly.)


JOHN:What is that?


ARTHUR:Hm? (Quieter.)Nothing. A little... lullaby. It was a tune that, um. Well, uh.




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


(The dream piano melody plays.)


JOHN:Faroe was your daughter.




JOHN:You were married?


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


JOHN(genuine):Oh. I’m sorry, Arthur.


ARTHUR:It’s alright.


JOHN:You took care of her yourself?


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


JOHN:Not enough for what?


ARTHUR:I had a different life, then. Focused on the wrong things. Uh, writing…


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


ARTHUR:No, writing music.


JOHN(amazement): You were a composer?


ARTHUR:Yes. Nothing of any major influence, but yes. I had a few songs that I sold that made it onto the radio. (A breath.)But I told you I didn’t want to talk about this. I – I can’t… talk about this. Not... just, please.


JOHN:I’m sorry.


(Arthur starts to walk.)


JOHN:I see it.




JOHN:The obelisk. It’s just before us now, a few hundred feet away.




JOHN:Are you okay?


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


(He moves forward, through deeper sand.)


JOHN:Well. This obelisk is massive. Tall sandstone – it reaches maybe 40 feet high.


ARTHUR:And the carvings?




ARTHUR:Can you make out any of them?


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


(Arthur steps forward and runs his hand across the stone.)


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




ARTHUR:Yes! (He sighs.) So what the hell is this?


(Enigmatic piano music.)


JOHN:I have no idea.


ARTHUR:Okay… should we check around its base, maybe?


JOHN: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 ground.


ARTHUR:So, best guesses. A marker?


JOHN:Perhaps. Or, a grave site?


ARTHUR:Rather opulent grave. A beacon?




ARTHUR:A sign post? Directions to another…




ARTHUR(scoffing):I don’t know.


JOHN:A marker.


ARTHUR:Yeah, you think?


JOHN:The hole in the canyon wall.




JOHN:It must lead somewhere.


ARTHUR:Okay, so where is the hole?


JOHN:To our left. (Arthur starts to walk.)The cliff wall moves in slightly here as if this is an intended entrance into something. A pathway through the canyon, perhaps.


(He starts to walk through the sand.)


JOHN:It’s right before us. Slow down, let me look. (The sound of crawling insects inside.)The hole is large enough to fit through with ease, but only about four feet wide.


ARTHUR:Like a doorway?


JOHN: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.


ARTHUR:We’re sure about this?


JOHN:No. But has that stopped us before?




(He starts to walk inside.)


JOHN: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.


ARTHUR:So just a cave, then?


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


ARTHUR:Like an amphitheater?


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


ARTHUR:What is on the pedestal?


(Arthur approaches.)


ARTHUR(alert):Oh, wait! Wait, wait!




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




ARTHUR:It could be a trap of some sort, we don’t –


JOHN (patient):I can’t see from here, Arthur.


ARTHUR(exhale):Alright, just… approach tentatively.


(He walks forward.)


JOHN: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.


ARTHUR:Half of it out?


JOHN: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.


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




ARTHUR:Strange. Is there nothing else in this room? A way out? A – (He starts to walk among the loose gravel.)


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


ARTHUR:Well then.


JOHN:Well then.


ARTHUR:Do we… push the wheel? (Wind lightly echoes in the cave.)


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


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


JOHN:Why the hesitancy?


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




ARTHUR:I don’t know. As if… (Enigmatic piano music.) As if there’s no going back.


JOHN:There is no going back.


ARTHUR:You think?


JOHN:I know.


ARTHUR:You know?


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


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


JOHN:Yes. Leaving the dream for what’s real.




(He steps forward.)




ARTHUR:Nothing. That, uh… it just reminded me of something. (Slowly reciting.)“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.”


JOHN:That’s… very sweet.


ARTHUR:It’s called ‘An Old Sweetheart of Mine’ – it’s about a man remembering fondly how he courted his wife. (Back on topic.) Anyway, just popped into my head. My gut feeling says we turn it.


JOHN:Gut feeling?


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


JOHN:Should we be sacrificing logic?


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


JOHN(lightly amused):If we’re listening to your gut now, I suppose so.


(The squeal of turning stone. The sound of stone grinding against itself.)


JOHN:Arthur, the room is turning!


ARTHUR:Yes,  I can feel it. What do we do?


JOHN:I don’t know if we can do anything.




JOHN:The entrance is sealing.




JOHN:Arthur, this is starting to feel like a trap.


ARTHUR(panicked):Okay! Okay. Think, think…


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




JOHN:Hurry, Arthur! Get the lighter!


ARTHUR:I’m trying!


JOHN(frustrated, panicked):I can’t help us if I can’t see anything!


ARTHUR:I’m trying!


JOHN:Arthur, the floor is moving down! Hold onto the pedestal!




(The grinding comes to a stop.)




JOHN:It’s stopped. Get the lighter.




(He flicks the lighter on.)


ARTHUR:What happened?


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




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


ARTHUR(all that worry over this?):Oh, Christ.


(John starts to laugh in delight.)


ARTHUR:So, what, was this just a fucking elevator?


JOHN(pleased):I suppose so.


ARTHUR(in relief):Fuck, John. (He starts to laugh.)I feel dumb.


JOHN(reassuring):We did our best for what happened.


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


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


ARTHUR:Yes, you mentioned that. Mountain? (He starts to walk.)


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


ARTHUR:Okay. But the darkness?


JOHN: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.


ARTHUR:In all likelihood, Frank would’ve climbed over?


JOHN:Would he have?




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


ARTHUR:Yes. You’re right.


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


ARTHUR:Okay, but into the darkness?


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


ARTHUR:Alright, point made. Into the dark.


(Arthur walks forward.)


JOHN:We might as well stop and light the lantern.


ARTHUR:Right! Hey, that can be an easy out, too.


JOHN:Ask it for the way out!




(Arthur lights the lantern.)


ARTHUR:Show us the way out.


(A wind-like echo howls in the background, mysterious.)


JOHN:The smoke is rising back up.


ARTHUR:Right. Damn. Um.


JOHN:Look, we can still use it for its 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.


ARTHUR:Right. Okay.


(He walks, the metal squeaking lightly.)






JOHN:This is not just a natural path. This is a carved stone walkway… more or less. (Some small rocks shift.)


ARTHUR:How so?


JOHN: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 it seems to open up just ahead.


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


JOHN:Wouldn’t that make us more of a target?


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




ARTHUR:Bright lights would be a detriment for sure.


JOHN:I see your point.


(He walks forward. Some small rocks fall.)


JOHN:There! (Intimidated.)O-Oh.




JOHN:The right side of the passage opens up to… nothingness. (Enigmatic piano music.) It drops straight down into abyssal black.




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


ARTHUR:Well, that’s quite unsettling.


JOHN:Do you fear the dark?


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


JOHN:Then why fear the darkness to our right?


ARTHUR:It’s not the darkness I fear, John. It’s what hides in the darkness. The possibilities of what lay beyond that are… limitless. A set of eyes could be watching us now, standing cold and motionless on the far side of the black. (Some rocks tumble at a distance.)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.


(He walks forward.)


JOHN:You fear the unknown.


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


JOHN:I understand.


ARTHUR:Do you not share that fear?


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


ARTHUR:You fear about returning to the Dark World.


JOHN:It’s unknown whether or not it will happen.


ARTHUR: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.


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


ARTHUR:Fair point.


JOHN:Anyway, the stairs continue to descend.




(He starts to walk.)


JOHN:What was that poem again?


ARTHUR: ‘An Old Sweetheart of Mine’.


JOHN:I quite liked it. Do you know any more?


ARTHUR(excited):Of course!


JOHN:Would you recite another?


ARTHUR(chuckling):I suppose. What about?


JOHN:Anything. Whatever moves you in this moment.




(He recites as he continues to walk. Occasionally the lantern squeaks. The dream piano music melody plays overtop.)


“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 glamor 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.”


JOHN:You yearn freedom.


ARTHUR:I think we both do.


JOHN:I enjoyed that.


ARTHUR:I enjoyed remembering it. No bitter memory attached to that one. Would you like another?






(Suspenseful strings rise.)


JOHN: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.


ARTHUR:Is it…?


JOHN:It’s moving.


ARTHUR:Oh, shit.


JOHN:It’s still far away. Let’s… keep moving.




(He continues to walk.)


JOHN:The bottom.


ARTHUR:That was a long walk down.


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


ARTHUR:Is there still the glowing dust to the right?


JOHN:Yes. (Alarmed.)Arthur, it’s growing closer.




JOHN:It’s bright now! As if it’s turned on a lamp. (A squishing noise from a distance.) Jesus, it’s growing larger. It’s coming here, whatever it is. (Insect wings flapping.)


ARTHUR:What do we do!?


(John gasps.)


ARTHUR(in confusion):What?


(Insect wings flutter as the creature moves closer. It periodically chirps and blurbles.)


JOHN:It’s a strange flying creature. It’s… only about a yard long. It has 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.


ARTHUR:What? Is it… does it look dangerous?


JOHN:I don’t know. It looks like a salamander of 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.


ARTHUR:We don’t mean you harm.


JOHN:Its eyes are so bright, it’s difficult to see.


ARTHUR:We’re friendly, here. We only mean to find a way out. (To John.)Does it seem to respond at all?


JOHN: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.


ARTHUR(dismissive):Okay, thank you! Buh-bye.


(He continues to walk.)


JOHN(growling):That thing is so bright!


ARTHUR:Is it… following, or?


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


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


JOHN:I don’t know.


(Arthur groans in frustration, turns around, and walks back.)


ARTHUR:Do you understand us?


(The creature chirps aimlessly at him.)


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


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


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


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


JOHN:Fun? (Exasperated.)Arthur.


ARTHUR:Oh, the shaving kit!


JOHN(wry):You want to shave this thing?


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


JOHN:We never opened it.


(Arthur opens the case.)


JOHN:Yes, there’s a small mirror here.




(He pulls the mirror out and holds it out to the creature.)




(The creature gurgles happily.)


JOHN:It seems to like the mirror.


(Arthur laughs in delight.)


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


ARTHUR(joyous):No, no, this is brilliant! Look, you already said how bright its eyes were.




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


JOHN:You think having a friend would help with that?


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


JOHN: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.


ARTHUR:Oh! Like… this?


JOHN:Yes! (A pause.)Nothing. I’m starting to understand your fear.


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


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


ARTHUR:Right. Well. (Louder, to the creature.) Do you know a way out?


JOHN:He’s just staring at us.


ARTHUR:Okay. Well… I suppose we should keep moving. Bye, little… friend.


(Arthur starts to walk.)


JOHN:He’s… following.


ARTHUR:Ha! Alright, brilliant.


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


ARTHUR:It can be helpful, trust me.


(He continues to walk. The creature continues to make noise.)


JOHN: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.


ARTHUR:Okay. Oh! Let’s ask the lamp!


(The metal clinks. He lights it.)


ARTHUR:Which way will lead us forward towards an exit?


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


ARTHUR:Okay, well.






JOHN:The creature. It’s moving forward along this same pathway we’re on now.


ARTHUR:Oh? Going so soon?


JOHN:No, it’s… waiting for us. As if… guiding.


ARTHUR(shock):You’re kidding.


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


ARTHUR:Are you showing us a quicker way out?


JOHN:It just cocked its head.


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


JOHN:The lantern says left.


ARTHUR: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.


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




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


ARTHUR(sighing):My gut says this little creature knows its way around the darkness better than you and I ever could. I say we follow it.


JOHN:To what end?


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




ARTHUR:You disagree?


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




JOHN:I’m not sure.


ARTHUR:Right, well. Lead the way.


JOHN:Yes; straight ahead. (Some silt falls at a distance.) Careful, here. The path is very thin.




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


ARTHUR:Oh, so this diverges from the path?


(Enigmatic piano tune starts.)




ARTHUR:Well. That matters.




ARTHUR(slightly affronted):Well, why didn’t you say that?


JOHN:You want to go back?


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


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


ARTHUR:I know, okay.


JOHN:Do you want to go back or not?


ARTHUR:No, my gut still says this creature.


JOHN:Just keep hugging the left side.


(Some rocks fall at a distance. Arthur breathes more shakily in exertion.)


JOHN: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. (Suspenseful strings rise.)




JOHN:There, it’s starting to widen slightly.


(Arthur’s shoe catches on the ground, making him slip. He gasps in alarm.)




(Some rocks fall to the ground below.)


ARTHUR:God, Jesus! God – Jesus –


JOHN:That was too close.


ARTHUR(breathless):Yes! Yes. Far too close.


JOHN:There. It widens here.


(Arthur starts to walk again.)


ARTHUR(panting):Well, then. I don’t want to go back that way if we can avoid it.


JOHN:It may not be possible.




JOHN: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.


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


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


ARTHUR:A white sheet?


JOHN:Yes, and… (Amazed.)Arthur! This is a tent! And what looks to be the remains of a fire!


ARTHUR:A campsite?




ARTHUR:It showed us to a campsite! Brilliant! Well done, friend! Thank you!


JOHN: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.




JOHN:Careful, now. It’s still very close to the edge.


ARTHUR:No, of course.


(He continues to walk.)


ARTHUR:Well? Is there anything by the fire?


JOHN:A few more steps.




JOHN:Yes, crouch down.


(Arthur does so, kicking up gravel.)


JOHN:Hm. 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.


ARTHUR:How old?


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


ARTHUR:Do you… do you think this was Frank’s?




ARTHUR:I wonder why he left it.


JOHN:Who’s to say he did?


(Suspenseful strings rise.)


ARTHUR:You mean…


JOHN:In the tent.


ARTHUR:Oh, Jesus. No. If he never left…


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




(Arthur walks forward.)


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




(Amidst shifting gravel, and the quiet chirping of the creature, Arthur reaches for the tent.)


JOHN:It’s empty.


ARTHUR(in relief):Thank god. (The violins fade.)


JOHN:Or rather, there’s no body. There is a bed roll and what looks to be a broken lantern. (Rocks fall at a distance.)




JOHN:Just a regular lantern.


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


JOHN:No, it looks… long since abandoned.


ARTHUR(to the salamander):Do you know who was here, friend?


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


ARTHUR(exasperated):I don’t know. Okay, so there’s a campfire and some things in the tent. Let’s look.


(Arthur starts to rummage around.)


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


ARTHUR:Hm. What does the crate say? Is there anything stamped on the side?


(He rummages for it.)


JOHN:First National Grocery Store.


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


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


ARTHUR:Would he have lugged all this with him?


JOHN: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.


ARTHUR:What else is here?


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


ARTHUR:Is it a grocery crate, or a…?


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


ARTHUR:Oh, okay.


(Glass and metal clinks together. Something knocks against wood.)






JOHN:The broken glass is also in the crate. No, wait, this isn’t from a lantern. (The glass clinks together.)There’s a picture frame in here.


ARTHUR:A picture?


(A bare version of Faroe’s Song starts.)


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


ARTHUR:Any discernible landmarks?


JOHN:None that I can see.


ARTHUR:Hm. Could be next to the Miskatonic River. (Fabric scratches together.)


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


ARTHUR:Well, let’s take it.




ARTHUR:If it was forgotten…


JOHN:Alright, but we’ll leave the frame.


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


JOHN:Yes, there was.


ARTHUR:Well, that sets it. Anything else in here?


JOHN:Not that I can see, no.




(Grunting, he gets out of the tent. His voice echoes lightly.)


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


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




JOHN(after a pause):Our friend is floating near the chasm.


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






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


ARTHUR:A book?


JOHN(amazed):Yes! Although, it’s precariously balanced on the rock near the edge.


ARTHUR:How precarious?


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


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




ARTHUR(taken aback):Oh-kay. Well, we’ll be careful then.




ARTHUR:Or what?


JOHN:Or we’ve learned enough and head back.


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




ARTHUR: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?


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


ARTHUR(laughing in disbelief): 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.


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


ARTHUR:We’ll be safe. Take it slow.


JOHN:Okay. Take a few steps. Careful, now.


ARTHUR:Of course.


(He continues to walk along gravel.)


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


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


JOHN:Just… move low. Feel the ground around yourself.


(Arthur does so, with a grunt.)


ARTHUR:Can we see anything?


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


ARTHUR:Okay. (He moves forward, grunting softly in exertion. An uneasy piano melody plays.)


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


ARTHUR(shaky):Where is, um…? (Rocks fall at a distance.)


JOHN: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.




(He scrapes along the gravel.)


ARTHUR:Hm. Well, what book is it?


JOHN:Open it.


(Arthur does so, flipping the pages.)


JOHN:I don’t know. It doesn’t have an exact title. But I think it’s a diary. This is –


(Arthur suddenly starts to slide along the gravel, losing his grip.)




(Arthur gasps – and then starts to laugh in relief. It turns into more of a cackle.)


JOHN:Jesus. (At the laughter.)You’re kidding?


ARTHUR:When in doubt, just – just lay back.


JOHN(frustrated):Fuck, Arthur.


ARTHUR:Oh.This way, right?




ARTHUR:I know, I know, I know. (He grunts.)Look, we got it! All good. (He chuckles to himself again.)Ah.


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


ARTHUR:Now you’re getting it.


JOHN:Getting what?


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


JOHN:Is that me feeding off your emotions, or…?


ARTHUR:Or what? Are you learning them yourself?




ARTHUR: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.




ARTHUR:Yes. John Doe.


JOHN(sighing softly):Let’s get out of here. Back, and to the left.


ARTHUR:Oh, wait. Should we read the diary?


JOHN:Once we’re off this overlook.


ARTHUR: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.


JOHN:We are not.


ARTHUR:And we’re not alone with you, friend! Does it seem to be following? (He starts to walk.)


JOHN:Yes, it seems to want to follow.


ARTHUR:Alright. Shall we?


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


ARTHUR:Of course.


(Suspenseful strings rise.)


JOHN:Careful - the ledge is thin, but sturdy. When you –


(Arthur slips on the thin gravel and gasps in alarm. A high-pitched ringing of the ears noise – nothing – and then a somber, bare version of Faroe’s Song. It stops. Someone scribbles on a pad as if composing the melody. More notes, and then more writing. The high-pitched ringing returns –


Arthur hits the ground with a loud, dull-sounding thud. Arthur makes loud noises of pain and makes several more impacts, before landing in something squishy. He breathes painfully.)


JOHN:God damn it!


ARTHUR(gasping in pain):What – what?!


JOHN:Is anything broken?


ARTHUR(breathless):I don’t know!


JOHN(growling):I can’t see anything, Arthur! We fell… we fell so far down.




JOHN:I can’t even see where we came from!


ARTHUR:The lantern?


JOHN:I don’t know!




JOHN:We dropped it at some point during the fall.


ARTHUR:O-Oh my god. What is that stench?


JOHN:I don’t know! I can’t see!


ARTHUR: Okay, okay. I can’t… I-I don’t feel the bag. I-I’m soaking wet. What is…?


JOHN(commanding):Get up!


ARTHUR:I’m afraid I’ve broken something.


JOHN:Well, get up and find out!


(Arthur tries to stand up and screams in agony. He pants in pain.)


JOHN:Nothing feels broken for me.


ARTHUR(excruciating):I don’t know, but my ankle really… fucking hurts, and my back… oh god damn my back! God damn! (Breathing heavily.)How are we not dead?


JOHN:Find the bag!


ARTHUR:Okay! Okay. (He continues to make noises of pain.)This feels wet. Jesus Christ. What are we in? (He gags.)I’m… I’m gonna vomit.




ARTHUR:Okay, okay! Here, here, here!


(Arthur rustles through his bag and flicks his lighter on.)


JOHN:Oh! We’re at the bottom.


ARTHUR:Of the drop?


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


ARTHUR:I can taste it, but it feels… cold.


JOHN(in horror):Jesus fucking Christ.




JOHN:Arthur! You’ve landed on – I don’t know! It looks like piles of sinew, flesh, torn… bones. (Arthur starts to breathe heavily again, panicking.)This is a graveyard of bloody carnage.


ARTHUR:Oh, Jesus Christ! Oh, fucking god! (JOHN:I… ) Jesus Christ! (JOHN:I don’t …) We need to move. We need to –




ARTHUR:Move, somewhere! I – I – what – what?


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


ARTHUR:Where is it? (Frustrated) Where is it, tell me!


JOHN:There! One more… (ARTHUR:God!) Down! No, not… that!


ARTHUR:Where does it end?




ARTHUR(demanding):Where does it end? The diary, what’s the last fucking page!


JOHN:I don’t know, I don’t know – keep going, keep going… There! Stop! Back one. There!


ARTHUR:Read it! Now!


JOHN(reading):“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.” (Arthur starts to panic, almost hyperventilating.) “And it is waiting.”


(In the distance, some monstrous creature groans.)


(ENDPart 16.)