A terrible fall, a hunter's prey, a merciful way...
Malevolent follows Arkham Investigator Arthur Lester as he unravels the mysterious circumstances that have befallen him. The Seventeenth part of this journey finds Arthur at the bottom of a fathomless depth with an unknown creature. Through instinct and luck Arthur must fight his way out of the labyrinth that is the darkened abyss. The fall will not only test his strength but also his mind for the dark is known to play tricks... 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 SEVENTEEN - THE FALL
Original transcript by Croik and Jack! Reviewed by Cytosine.
(BEGIN Part 17.)
(Rocks crumble in the distance. A creature growls, close. Arthur pants in fear.)
ARTHUR: W-what – ?
JOHN: Arthur! Kill the light!
(The lighter flicks. Gargantuan footsteps are audible in the distance, steadily growing closer.)
JOHN: Get down.
(They grow closer… Arthur pants in fear. The creature growls, comes closer, and vomits painfully. It continues to walk, this time in the other direction.)
ARTHUR (whispering): What was that?
JOHN: I have no idea. We need to figure out how to get out of here.
ARTHUR: Our bag? Our things?
JOHN: We need to find them. Move slow and stay low. I don’t know how well this thing can see in the dark.
(Arthur moves. A low sound, like gurgling water, is nearby. Arthur moves quietly, occasionally gasping in fear. The creature growls again.)
JOHN: Stop. (Arthur pants.) Stay low. (Arthur continues, walking along squishy ground. Heavy footsteps, this time at considerable distance.) Arthur!
(He steps in something very squishy.)
ARTHUR (whispering): Fuck!
JOHN: You broke through something in this pile.
ARTHUR (grunting in exertion, trying to struggle away): I can’t get it out! My foot’s stuck!
(The creature growls, closer.)
JOHN: Faster, Arthur!
(Arthur manages to free his foot and keeps walking.)
JOHN: I can’t see anything.
ARTHUR (softly): Are we even going in the right direction?
JOHN: We have no direction to go.
ARTHUR: John, if –
(The creature growls.)
JOHN Fuck. (He sighs.) We can’t keep going like this. We need to use the lighter.
ARTHUR: And if that thing sees us?
JOHN: If I can’t see, we could be heading straight for it!
ARTHUR (sighing): Alright. (He flicks the lighter on. It burns audibly.)
JOHN: Yeah, I think… we’re nearer to the left wall than the right.
ARTHUR: You think?
JOHN: I can’t tell. I think so.
ARTHUR: Fine, fine.
(Arthur continues to walk.)
JOHN: Stop! The bag is here! It’s by our feet.
ARTHUR (chanting to himself): Thank God, thank God, thank God. (He picks up the bag and starts to rummage through it.) Anything missing?
JOHN: Not that I can see. Just the lantern, since we were holding it.
ARTHUR: Of course. Fuck.
(The creature approaches again.)
JOHN: Down! Lighter!
(The lighter flicks as the footsteps come closer, but slower. Eerie whispering is audible, though unintelligible. Slowly, the creature walks away. Arthur breathes shakily.)
ARTHUR: We need to keep heading to the wall. (He flicks the lighter on.) We must be able to feel for it: the side of the chasm we fell from.
JOHN: We can’t use the lighter.
ARTHUR: I tried to, I –
JOHN: I know, I know. Keep it lit for a moment. Turn, turn. (Arthur shifts.) There! If we head in this direction as the crow flies, we should hit the wall. (He flicks the lighter.) For now, I’m as blind as you.
ARTHUR: And how does that feel?
JOHN: I am terrified.
(Arthur starts to walk.)
JOHN: Quietly, now.
(A distant growl.)
ARTHUR: What the hell is it doing?
JOHN (frustrated): I have no idea, Arthur.
ARTHUR (gasping): I can feel it! I can feel the wall – here. I feel it. It’s-it’s damp, c-cold, but… but it’s stone.
JOHN: Follow it. To the left - we’ll skirt along the outside until we find an opening and leave. (Arthur grunts in pain.) You’re having trouble keeping weight on your leg?
JOHN: Just favor it for now. We may need to run.
ARTHUR: If there’s a way out.
JOHN: There’s a way out. There has to be.
ARTHUR: I feel like we’re getting closer to it.
JOHN: Just keep moving along the wall.
(Arthur steps into a vomit pile again.)
ARTHUR: Fuck. What are these piles?
JOHN: I don’t know. It sounded like the creature vomited earlier. Perhaps it is discarded waste from whatever it is eating.
ARTHUR: What is it eating?
(From a distance, a flame roars to life.)
JOHN (in shock): What? Light!
ARTHUR (just as shocked): What?
ARTHUR: From where?
JOHN: Coming from everywhere. It’s filling the cavern.
ARTHUR (scared): Wh-What?
JOHN: We’re exposed, Arthur!
(The creature growls.)
JOHN: Jesus Christ, Arthur. This thing lit up braziers to…
ARTHUR: To hunt us.
JOHN: We need to run.
ARTHUR: We need to hide, with my leg –
ARTHUR: I don’t know, inside the piles of… discarded –
JOHN: You’re kidding!
ARTHUR: I don’t know!
JOHN (urgent): Whatever we do, we need to do it now!
(Arthur breathes fearfully.)
ARTHUR: H-hide! We’re hiding.
JOHN: There’s a pile to our right. Hurry!
(The creature’s growling grows louder, snarling. Arthur moves. The vomit pile squelches.)
ARTHUR (disgusted): Oh, God.
(Arthur gags as the creature’s footsteps grow closer.)
JOHN: Don’t move.
ARTHUR (muffled): I can’t! The stench is…
(The creature continues to growl, growing ever closer.)
JOHN: Don’t. Move.
(The creature grows ever closer. The whispers rise again. This time, the creature’s growls take on a more discrete quality.)
CREATURE (heavily distorted, growling): O fea oe? Ou te iloa ua e sau iinei.
JOHN (in amazement): It’s speaking.
(Suspenseful strings arise.)
CREATURE (heavily distorted, growling): E te leʻi alu… aua semanu ou te maua oe i le taimi nei… O fea la oe?
JOHN (shocked): I… I can understand it.
JOHN: It’s asking where we are.
ARTHUR: How can you –
CREATURE (heavily distorted, growling): Ou te manogi i lou fefe.
JOHN (translating): “I smell your fear.”
ARTHUR: Oh, god!
CREATURE (heavily distorted, growling): Ou te lagonaina le tata o lou fatu.
JOHN: “I feel your heartbeat.”
CREATURE (heavily distorted, growling): Ou te lagona o outou mafaufauga. (It laughs.)
JOHN: “I sense your… thoughts.”
ARTHUR: Our thoughts?
(Closer, the creature rips apart the vomit pile and exposes Arthur.)
(Breathing heavily in fear, Arthur is struck by the creature. He’s knocked across the tunnel, accompanied by a noise of high-pitched ringing.)
JOHN: Jesus Christ!
CREATURE (heavily distorted, growling): O le a oe, lenei tamai anufe?
JOHN: Arthur. It walks on two feet, both with razor sharp talons. Its massive body is covered in greasy black fur. It stands maybe sixteen feet tall. Its pink eyes –
ARTHUR (exasperated): Later, John!
JOHN: There’s a tunnel to the right.
(Panting in pain, Arthur continues onward. The creature growls.)
JOHN: Run, goddamnit!
(Arthur makes a break for it. The creature follows, heavy footsteps thumping, occasionally grunting.)
JOHN: There’s a small crack in the cavern wall. It’s tight – maybe three feet.
(He struggles to squeeze himself through.)
ARTHUR (desperate): I’m trying! I’m trying!
(Something slams against rock.)
ARTHUR: Jesus Christ. (He breathes quickly, in fear.)
JOHN: Stop. (Desperate.) Lighter! Lighter!
(Arthur flicks on the lighter, grunting.)
JOHN: Okay. This will work.
ARTHUR: Where are we?
JOHN: I don’t know. A small offshoot of the cavern. It’s a dead end, but it doesn’t look like he would fit in here.
ARTHUR: And it doesn’t look like we can get out? Not without…
(Frustrated, the creature growls and walks off.)
ARTHUR (panting): What the fuck is that? You understood it?
JOHN: I don’t know. The two pink eyes, they… they shone with an intelligence unbefitting of its monstrous form. Its head was… bisected vertically, with great yellow fangs that ran from the top to the bottom. The eyes jutted two inches from either side, covered in coarse hairs.
ARTHUR (calming himself down): Okay! Okay. Okay.
JOHN: Arthur, I…
ARTHUR: Shut up! Just let me think…
JOHN: I don’t think we can...
ARTHUR: You know this thing.
JOHN: No, I don’t. I –
ARTHUR (angry): You do, you… you know its language. John, you are part of this world!
JOHN: Not anymore, I –
ARTHUR: Shut up and listen! (Sad piano music starts.) This isn’t passive playtime. This is active survival. This thing is hunting us. It’s not going to let up just because we want it to. What do you remember?
JOHN (louder): I don’t, Arthur! If I didn’t remember being the fucking King in Yellow, do you really think I’d remember a creature like that?
ARTHUR: It didn’t sound unforgettable!
CREATURE (heavily distorted, growling): O le a le mea o loʻo e talanoa ai iina?
ARTHUR (scared): Oh, oh my god.
JOHN: It said: “What are you talking about in there?”
(It walks away. Arthur leans against the wall, sliding against rock.)
ARTHUR (determined): No! Not trapped in a corner like some fucking rat. (He grunts, pushing himself up.)
ARTHUR: We’re not going out this way.
(Faroe’s Song begins to play.)
JOHN: What are you doing? What are you looking for? (Arthur starts to look through the bag. John continues, impatient.) Arthur, you can’t see. What are you –
ARTHUR (grunting): This.
JOHN: The book?
ARTHUR: Is this the one that we read from?
JOHN: No, this is the other one. The one with the symbol from the book that I came from.
JOHN: Why? What are you –?
ARTHUR (angry): Answers! For fuck’s sake John, answers! This book, you said it has the symbol like the book you came from did?
JOHN: No, it doesn’t –
ARTHUR: What doesn’t? What do you mean?
JOHN: The symbol on this book! It is the one from the book I came from, but it’s not the only symbol on it. There are three on the front, the other two are faded. I don’t recognize them. And there are three unique ones on the back side as well.
ARTHUR: What the hell does that mean?
JOHN: I don’t know.
ARTHUR: Well. (He opens the book and flips through the pages.)
JOHN: It’s filled with many different chapters: headings with words I don’t know. Names, maybe?
ARTHUR: Like a ledger?
JOHN: No, not entirely. These are handwritten, but with… descriptors, like… ‘habitat’. (Arthur continues to flip through.)
JOHN (reading): “The Buopoth enjoys warm tropical forests.”
ARTHUR: These… this?
JOHN (reading): “A minion of Karakal is native to the dark dimension…” A lot of this is half written.
ARTHUR (in realization): It’s a bestiary.
JOHN: A what?
ARTHUR: A bestiary, from the Middle Ages. Illustrated volumes that described animals and rocks, only…
JOHN: Only this isn’t a bestiary from our world.
ARTHUR: Vertical mouth? Talons?
JOHN: And from its black furred arms sprout two forepaws.
JOHN: Here! There isn’t much… no name, just a description, habitat.
ARTHUR: Dark caves?
JOHN: The Underworld. Superstitious of ghouls.
ARTHUR: Ghouls? They’re a child’s legend, e-er, a cemetery dweller.
JOHN: Don’t draw a line in the sand between what’s real and what’s imaginary now, Arthur.
ARTHUR: Right. Okay, okay. So it’s superstitious.
JOHN: “Some say cursed by the Great Ones.”
ARTHUR (sighing): Any of that make sense to you?
(Suspenseful music begins to rise.)
ARTHUR: If we try to fight that thing, we’re dead.
JOHN: It’s very clever – too clever to sneak past.
ARTHUR: U-unless we distract it, or – or obfuscate our path. There must be –
JOHN (realizing): Up!
JOHN: Above us. This crack in the cavern wall. It ascends! It’d be difficult, but we could make it higher.
ARTHUR: Does it exit?
JOHN: I don’t know, but where we are now has only one option.
ARTHUR: Or we could wait. Find out more about these “ghouls.” If they’re superstitious of them, maybe we can exploit that in some way. I feel like there are answers in this book.
JOHN (growling): We don’t have time, Arthur! I think we should climb.
ARTHUR: No! We need to understand it. We may not get another chance.
JOHN (frustrated): Dammit, Arthur!
ARTHUR (patient): Trust me, John. Knowledge is without comparison. The things we learn –
JOHN: Are useless if we don’t survive the next few minutes! We’re trapped in a corner like a fucking rat! (The creature growls and walks outside the crack.) If we don’t –
ARTHUR: If we don’t take this opportunity to learn what we’re up against, we can’t hope to survive once we’re out of here.
JOHN: That is a flawed logic. Your pursuit for answers has clouded your mind. Fuck, Arthur! (Melancholy music plays.) This world, it is not meant to be understood.
ARTHUR: I know, I know –
JOHN: No, you don’t! The nature of this place is not Arkham. It is not run with the same rules and logic of a place like that.
ARTHUR: I understand. I’m not trying –
JOHN (growling): No, you don’t understand! You’re still trying to treat this like an investigation, which is all well and good when we are trying to survive, but this is not survival.
ARTHUR: The fuck it is! (Urgent.) We are trying to survive! We are learning about our enemy and its weaknesses; we are leveling the playing field, we are… navigating the sea at night, using the stars to carve our way forward. You cannot navigate without first learning their patterns.
JOHN (calmly): You cannot navigate with stars that move.
ARTHUR: I’m – I’m not, you… You’re just frustrated at –
JOHN: I’m telling you that trying to learn the rules of this world isn’t going to work.
ARTHUR: Well, it isn’t going to hurt, either.
(He opens the book again.)
JOHN: You’re wrong.
ARTHUR (threateningly): Read it. Ghouls. I need to know everything about them. (Arthur begins to flip through the pages.)
JOHN: There, stop. (He starts to read.) “Primarily feeding on carrion, able to eat fresher fare. Dwell in burrows, red eyes, bony claws. Highly intelligent. Knowledge of human society and psychology…”
(Suspenseful strings rise.)
ARTHUR: Okay, what else?
JOHN: The description continues, but… other than “canine features,” nothing stands out.
ARTHUR: I – I don’t understand.
JOHN: What don’t you understand?
ARTHUR: I… they’re superstitious of them, why isn’t there –
JOHN (rising tension): What the fuck were you expecting?
ARTHUR: I don’t know! I don’t know, a-a solution, an answer –
ARTHUR (desperate): Because, I –
(A rock strikes Arthur again, making him cry out in pain. More high-pitched ringing.)
JOHN (shouting in concern): Arthur! (A pause.) Arthur!
ARTHUR: Fuck! What the fuck just happened?
JOHN: A rock! (In horror.) Arthur, the creature is above us! (More rocks break around them, as the creature laughs from up above.) It’s throwing rocks down!
ARTHUR (in pain): It feels broken.
ARTHUR: Jesus Christ!
JOHN: Move, Arthur!
ARTHUR: My god! (The creature continues to growl.) Jesus Christ. (He starts to walk.) Oh my god! My arm is wet with blood… My shoulder.
JOHN: Shut up! We need to move. Keep moving!
(Eerie whispers rise as Arthur walks.)
ARTHUR (woozy): Where? Why?
JOHN: There must be a way out!
ARTHUR: I, ah – it climbed above us. It knew.
JOHN: It heard… or understood, or…
ARTHUR: It figured out the same thing we did. (A clap of suspense.) We should’ve climbed – we could’ve gotten out before it…
JOHN: It doesn’t matter now. Just move.
ARTHUR: Where are we? (He walks.)
JOHN: We’re in a winding hall. The walls are dark. I can only barely make out the passageway thanks to the light from the main room.
ARTHUR: We’re in an offshoot?
JOHN: Yes. I don’t know how large this place is.
ARTHUR: What does it look like? What place is this that this creature occupies?
JOHN: I don’t know. The walls are…they’re stone, but old, well worn – it looks… it looks almost like a crypt.
(The creature growls at a distance.)
JOHN: Just keep moving.
ARTHUR: To where?
JOHN: I don’t know! (A pause.) We’re coming up to a T junction.
ARTHUR: Right or left?
JOHN: Left – no! Right.
ARTHUR: Which way is the light coming from?
JOHN: The left, and we need to stay in the darkness.
ARTHUR: But –
JOHN: It lit the braziers because it couldn’t see us. You said you didn’t want us to die like this, now snap out of it!
ARTHUR: Right! Right. Darkness is our friend – th-the darker the better!
JOHN: Keep your hand on the wall so we don’t get lost.
ARTHUR: Okay, yes. (Arthur does so, sliding his hand along the stone.)
JOHN: There’s a… the floor here is covered in... blood. There’s a – a hole here, at the intersection.
ARTHUR: What kind of hole?
JOHN: I don’t know. It – it looks like it goes up.
JOHN: I think it’s a chute.
ARTHUR: A chute? What on earth… What do you – ?
JOHN: I don’t know – it's streaked in blood.
JOHN: I don’t know but we need to move, now! Go right. (Arthur does so, grunting in pain.) It’s getting darker. There’s almost no light.
ARTHUR (stepping in something wet): What is that – what are we walking in, is it…?
JOHN: I think it’s just mud.
ARTHUR: Mud? Is there…?
(The sound of water flowing.)
JOHN: Water – or, I hope, at least. There’s a small stream of water coming from the wall. Move to it, quickly!
(Arthur approaches the sound of water.)
JOHN: Yes. I think… Arthur, this is a pool of water.
(Grunting, Arthur touches it.)
ARTHUR: If there’s fresh water flowing in, there must be a way out. The water doesn’t –
JOHN (panicked): The water – get in!
ARTHUR (sloshing through the water, wincing): It’s nearly up to our chest.
JOHN (calmly): Arthur, clear your mind. We need to be silent. Get down, just keep your nose above water. (The creature approaches.) Now!
(The creature comes closer, heavy footsteps reverberating against the cavern walls. The creature growls and speaks unintelligibly before heading in the opposite direction. Arthur resurfaces with a gasp.)
ARTHUR: It couldn’t hear us.
JOHN: It couldn’t sense us.
ARTHUR: What the fuck do we do now?
JOHN (thoughtfully): That T-junction had a chute.
ARTHUR: Why? What was that?
JOHN: I think it’s being fed.
JOHN: Think about it. (With a grunt, Arthur pushes himself out of the water.) Those piles and piles of viscera, they’re not from hunting. There’s no way it has near that many creatures down here to hunt. (It growls at a distance.)
ARTHUR: You’re saying something is feeding it through that chute? Couldn’t it be eating beings who fell like we did?
JOHN: You think that many creatures fell?
ARTHUR: I-I don’t know. Y-you have a better scope of how many…
JOHN (gently): Hundreds, Arthur. Those piles were made of hundreds.
ARTHUR: Okay. Well. What are you proposing?
JOHN: All I’m saying is, we could stay down here and try to find a way out…
ARTHUR: Or we could, what, climb the chute? You’re mad! There is a way out down here and we’ll find it.
JOHN: Consider the possibility that if this thing is being fed, it may be trapped down here. Food? Water? It almost seems like a prisoner.
JOHN: There may not be an exit.
ARTHUR: I don’t believe that.
JOHN (genuine): What do you believe?
ARTHUR: I believe that I genuinely don’t know which to be more fearful of: The creature down here or whatever could be feeding it.
JOHN (at footsteps in the distance): Whatever you decide, we can’t linger.
ARTHUR: I know, I know. Let’s try the chute. (He starts to walk.) So far it’s the only way out, and I’d rather chance the possibility of escape over the certainty of death.
JOHN: Alright, but the climb won’t be easy, especially now. Your leg?
ARTHUR (wincing): The leg is sore, but it’s my arm that’s fucked. I can barely move it. Damn it.
JOHN: Let’s just look. Pull out the lighter.
ARTHUR: Are you sure?
JOHN: If we move quickly. Just let me look.
(He flicks the lighter on.)
JOHN (whispering): Oh, there’s a lot of blood. There’s a deep cut on the bicep but for now it seems to have stopped bleeding. However, your shoulder is… out of place.
(He flicks the lighter off.)
JOHN: I think so. Have you ever…?
JOHN: I think you’ll have to set it back.
ARTHUR: I have no idea how.
JOHN: I don’t either, but if we have any chance at leaving, we need to fix it.
ARTHUR: Jesus. Okay. (Worried.) Fuck!
JOHN: Get against the wall. (Arthur presses his shoulder against the wall.) It looks… like the joint is above, maybe. Extend your arm and move it upwards…
ARTHUR: You’re kidding!
JOHN (growling): Arthur, if we can’t use our arm, we can’t leave this place! I’m not ready to die here and neither are you. We’ve been through worse. You can do this.
(Amidst rising suspenseful strings, Arthur shifts.)
JOHN: Extend your arm. Up, reach up!
(Arthur groans in pain.)
ARTHUR: Fuck! Fuck. Okay.
JOHN: Slowly lean against the wall. I think with enough pressure you can get it back in.
ARTHUR (amidst groans of pain): Ah! (Something clicks. High-pitched ringing.) Oh, Jesus Christ. Fucking hell.
ARTHUR (out of breath): It’s still sore, but… I can move it. (He pants.) With some effort.
JOHN: That’ll have to do. Let’s move.
ARTHUR: Okay. Okay.
JOHN: Left. Quietly now.
(He starts to walk. The creature growls, some distance off.)
JOHN: Here! Stop. The light from the main room reaches here, so we’ll have to be quiet.
ARTHUR: Can you see inside the chute?
JOHN: Only just. Move closer.
(Arthur moves forward.)
ARTHUR: Should we get the lighter?
JOHN: Yes, briefly.
(He flicks the lighter on.)
JOHN: Look inside.
(Arthur walks. The slightest sound of whistling wind.)
JOHN: A slight breeze seems to come from the darkness. It looks like the chute moves up into an abyssal black.
ARTHUR (shifting): Is there any… blood?
JOHN: Staining the stone all the way down and on the bottom here. There’s a flat, five foot stone piece before the chute moves up. (Suspenseful music rises.)
ARTHUR: Just a flat surface?
JOHN: Yes. I don’t know why. It looks like a flat piece of carved stone. I can even see the edges where it’s separate from the chute.
ARTHUR: Does it look like it… drops?
JOHN: What do you mean?
ARTHUR: I don’t want to climb in for the piece to just give way and drop us deeper.
JOHN: I understand. We’d need to put some weight on it.
ARTHUR: Okay, well. The chute just… moves up, then?
JOHN: I can’t see where it ends. It moves into absolute blackness.
ARTHUR: Well, anywhere is better than here.
JOHN: Move forward, then – carefully.
(Arthur grunts in exertion and starts to climb. A loud mechanical clicking mechanism starts to turn.)
ARTHUR: What on earth is that?
JOHN: It’s sounding from beneath the plate. Get off it!
ARTHUR: Jesus, it’s so loud! (He climbs off and the clicking noises stop.) It’s like a –
JOHN (weary): An alarm.
(From a distance, the creature growls.)
ARTHUR (shouting): Are you fucking kidding me!?
JOHN: Run, Arthur! This way! Straight!
(Panting, Arthur starts to sprint.)
JOHN: Right hand on the wall. Move!
(He grunts in exertion. The creature continues to grunt unintelligibly.)
JOHN: Arthur, stop.
JOHN: The wall! It feels… not as smooth, as if –
ARTHUR: As if what?
(The footsteps grow closer, thudding against the ground.)
JOHN: Climb up, quickly!
ARTHUR: Oh, for fuck’s sake!
JOHN: The creature is behind us – move!
(He groans in pain as he starts to climb.)
JOHN: Quietly, Arthur!
(Suspenseful music rises as Arthur continues to climb. Below, the creature groans and grunts.)
JOHN: You’ve made it to the top. Climb over. (A pause.) Quietly.
ARTHUR (in exhaustion): What was it saying?
JOHN: It said it wants us to run.
ARTHUR: Where are we? Where is this, then? Is this where the – the chute, maybe?
JOHN: No, that was far behind us and much longer to climb. I don’t know what this is – another level.
ARTHUR: If we use the lighter, we can –
(He starts to walk.)
JOHN: No, I can see, but only a bit. There’s still light coming from the braziers below. It’s a large, flat area that’s above the maze-like caverns we’ve been moving through. This is where the creature was when it…
ARTHUR: Threw a rock down on us.
JOHN: Yes. This is where we would’ve come out… had we climbed.
ARTHUR: We can access everywhere from here?
JOHN: More or less. We’d have to jump over some cracks, areas we’d run through below. But we can access the main hall, the chute… the room with the water. I feel like…
ARTHUR (standing still): What?
JOHN: I feel like this… this is a game.
JOHN: This thing, it’s almost… hunting us for pleasure. The braziers, the maze-like corridors below and this… this plateau that allows whatever’s up here to look down over everything.
ARTHUR: Like the minotaur.
JOHN: The minotaur?
ARTHUR: It’s a Greek mythological figure. It’s a – it’s a bull’s head with the body of a ma –
JOHN: I know what a minotaur is, Arthur; I’m asking why you’re bringing it up.
ARTHUR: Theseus is why. (He starts to walk. Somber piano melody.) There’s an ancient Greek myth. The queen of Crete supposedly slept with a bull sent by Zeus and gave birth to a minotaur. (Grunting in exertion.) The creature then hid in a labyrinth at the palace of Knossos.
JOHN (distracted): Wonderful. Arthur, move to your right.
ARTHUR: Oh. O-okay. This way?
ARTHUR (panting, grunting): Anyway, the king would then send his enemies to the labyrinth to feed the creature, which hunted its prey in the darkness. It was a maze so complex that no one ever found the exit.
JOHN: If you’re trying to inspire hope, you’re failing. Stop! (Arthur stops moving.) Arthur, I want you to take a leap forward.
ARTHUR: A… leap?
JOHN: It won’t be hard, the gap is small, but I want to make sure we clear it.
(Arthur starts off at a run, leaps, and lands. He pants in fear.)
JOHN: Brilliant. Move slowly now.
ARTHUR: Same way?
JOHN: Yes. (The somber music returns.) So then, who is Theseus?
ARTHUR: Oh, um… Theseus, who had fallen in love with the king’s daughter, was the only one to have ever found his way out of the labyrinth.
JOHN (whispering): On your stomach, Arthur. Creep to the edge.
(Arthur does so, moving at a crawl.)
ARTHUR: Where are we?
JOHN: Above the chute. I see it. Stop! (Arthur does so.)
ARTHUR: What are we doing?
JOHN: Watching. Waiting for our chance to move. We’re going to make it up that chute if it kills us.
ARTHUR: The minute we enter that chute, it’s just going to make that sound again.
JOHN: Yes, I suppose so. It knows we want to escape, and it’s not going to let us.
(Grunting, Arthur sits up. John sighs.)
JOHN: So then how did Theseus escape the labyrinth, Arthur?
(The somber piano music continues, picking up speed.)
ARTHUR: Well, he had a thread the King’s daughter had given him. He tied it to the entrance and brought it with him. It, it allowed him to find the… exit.
JOHN: And what of the minotaur?
ARTHUR: He found it in the furthest corner of the Labyrinth… and killed it.
(Suspenseful strings start to rise.)
ARTHUR: Some say a sword, a club, uh. Others say his bare hands.
JOHN: What about a giant rock?
ARTHUR: What do you –
JOHN: Arthur, we’re not going to get out of here without killing that thing.
ARTHUR: You can’t –
JOHN: It’s hunting us. Maybe even toying with us. It’s leaving us alone because it knows that chute has a dinner bell on it. It’s not worried about us leaving this place because it knows we can’t.
ARTHUR: So? (He grunts and shifts.)
JOHN: So. There’s a giant rock near the edge. If we could get it below us we could drop it on its fucking head.
ARTHUR: That’s a big if. Trying to aim that, time that, that’s the –
JOHN: What’s your idea?
ARTHUR: How high up is this plateau?
JOHN: A couple dozen feet. Why?
ARTHUR: A fall to kill?
JOHN: Maybe. If it was a good fall.
ARTHUR: We know it climbs up here. We could lure it back up, and… and push it off.
JOHN: You think that will be easier than a rock on its head?
ARTHUR: I don’t know! It’s an option.
JOHN: Look, I don’t care whether we drop a rock, or push this creature off. We’re not leaving unless we kill it. We can’t dance around it anymore – every encounter has left you weaker. We need to act.
ARTHUR: You’re right.
JOHN: So. (Instrumentals abruptly cut off.) How do we want to kill it?
ARTHUR: We’re going to drop a rock on its fucking head.
JOHN (pleased): Yes, Arthur.
ARTHUR: And we’re going to kill it.
ARTHUR (shifting): Alright.
JOHN: We need a way to lure it below, something that would keep it occupied. Something to draw it, or…
ARTHUR: Distract it, uh.
ARTHUR: Well. Perhaps a body from one of the discarded piles could –
JOHN: The piles it presumably treats as waste?
ARTHUR: Yes, well. Right.
ARTHUR: Let’s just take this one step at a time. Where is the rock that we can push off?
JOHN: To our right. It’s on the far side, but we can get there.
ARTHUR: Alright, let’s just go check it out. Quietly.
(He starts to walk.)
ARTHUR: What are the chances that this… actually works?
JOHN: You know I don’t know that.
ARTHUR: I think we need a contingency plan.
JOHN: Such as?
ARTHUR: If we miss, o-or fail in killing it. We bolt for the chute.
JOHN: That’s not much of a plan, that’s just running. (Teasing.) Are you sure you didn’t hit your head?
JOHN: I’m joking, Arthur.
ARTHUR (scoffing): You’re suddenly very funny.
JOHN: Why not. We may not make it out of this one.
ARTHUR: You really think that?
JOHN: Yes. I think that’s where the betting kind would put their money.
ARTHUR: I’ll bet on us, thank you.
JOHN: Sure. It’s only money.
(The creature growls, somewhere far below. An ominous piano tune starts.)
ARTHUR: When we fell. I thought it was over. All of it. I felt like… I-I had slipped away. Completely. Into a nightmare.
JOHN: We did. I wouldn’t call this anything but a nightmare.
ARTHUR: No, I… I mean a nightmare. One that I have.
JOHN: You have nightmares?
ARTHUR: I have a nightmare, reoccurring. Ever since… Faroe.
JOHN: What of?
ARTHUR: The night she died.
JOHN: Arthur. What happened?
ARTHUR: I failed her.
ARTHUR (deep breath): Where is this rock?
JOHN (exhale): About fifteen steps ahead. The ceiling is low – be careful.
ARTHUR: Oh. (He grunts, starting to move. Trickling water is nearby.) This, here? (He pats stone.)
(Exerting himself, Arthur starts to move the rock.)
ARTHUR: Yes, we can push this. Alright, where does it fall?
JOHN: It’s difficult to see, but… I think it’s by the water? Yes. Almost directly above the pool.
ARTHUR: If it were drinking, and we pushed?
JOHN: No, it would have to be in the water.
ARTHUR: The water wasn’t deep, either, was it? Fuck!
JOHN: How do you expect to lure it into the water?
(Arthur rummages in his belongings and takes out the flask.)
ARTHUR: With fire.
ARTHUR: The flask. It had strong alcohol in it. Remember?
ARTHUR: It burns, it’s flammable. If we –
JOHN: If we pour it onto the creature and –
ARTHUR: Drop the lighter, it should go up!
JOHN: That’s a difficult task, Arthur. By the time you wet the creature it’ll have moved.
ARTHUR: Yes, well –
JOHN (continuing on): Trying to then strike the lighter and drop it while compensating for its movement…
(Arthur sighs in defeat.)
JOHN: I’m sorry. It’s a good idea, but you’d need to find a way to do both. Douse it in alcohol and light it at the same time.
ARTHUR: Wait, what is this made of? This flask?
JOHN: Glass. Why?
ARTHUR: I-I don’t know, I-I have an… idea.
ARTHUR: If we could find a way to attach fire to this flask, in a way that it would stay lit. I could throw it and – and break the glass on the creature, covering it with the burning alcohol.
JOHN: You think that would work?
ARTHUR: Possibly, yes! Again, I would have to throw it with a great deal of force.
JOHN: How would you keep it lit while throwing it? You can’t attach the lighter.
ARTHUR: We have… some paper bills left over. If we wet them with a bit of the alcohol, then have them sticking out the flask, we can light one end and throw it! The glass will smash on impact and should cover the creature in fire.
JOHN: And while it’s putting out the fire in the water…
ARTHUR: We’ll drop the rock on its fucking head.
JOHN: You’re sure about this?
ARTHUR (deadpan): No. But do you have any better ideas?
JOHN (solemn): None.
ARTHUR: Alright, then. Let’s find this thing.
JOHN: We’re going to need to be right above it.
ARTHUR: Where are we heading?
JOHN: I don’t know. We’ll need to find where it is. Head back the way we came. (Arthur starts to walk.)
ARTHUR: Perhaps it’s smarter to find a common path and just wait for it to pass.
JOHN: Alright. I think I know where. Keep moving. (Arthur continues to walk.) Left. Little more… There, that way! (A pause.) You know… it could use other ways to extinguish the flame.
ARTHUR: I know. This is a gamble.
(Heavy footsteps in the background as the creature groans.)
JOHN: It’s close. Stay low, and to your left. Move to the edge, on your stomach. (Arthur does so, grunting and scrabbling amongst the rubble.) Stay low, let me look. It’s not here yet. This is a good vantage point, though. It’s near the chute and the water is directly to our right. I think this is our best spot to throw the flask onto it.
ARTHUR (shifting): Alright, then we wait. In the meantime.
(Arthur starts to ruffle the notes. The alcohol sloshes around.)
JOHN: We have one shot at this. You’ll have to light the wick, as it were, and throw it down with enough force to break the glass.
ARTHUR: Thankfully if I can get it to break, being exact is less important. It should spread wide. Hopefully.
ARTHUR: Are you ready for this?
(He flicks the lighter.)
ARTHUR: No, are you?
ARTHUR: Which way is the rock again?
JOHN: Straight to our right. We’ll have to move fast.
ARTHUR: I know.
JOHN (encouraging): We can do this, Arthur. You and I, we’ve been through it. (A sad tune starts to play.) We’ve faced the darkness, the abyssal black void… and we fell in. But we did not let it take us. We will not let it take us. I believe in us, Arthur. I believe that we can do this. Together.
(A long pause. Arthur doesn’t respond.)
(Faroe’s Song starts to play.)
ARTHUR: I had hired help. A woman named Tess. She… she would look after Faroe while I worked… writing pieces and such. I-I was so damned self-involved, I… I am so damn self-involved. Tess had asked weeks prior if she could… have the evening off. I-I said yes. And I forgot.
No, that’s not… I-I didn’t even forget, I… I ignored it. That evening Tess herself came to me. She… she knocked on the door to my study as I wrote and she told me. She told me that she had started the bath for Faroe. She reminded me to check on her in a, a few minutes, that her… Tess’s carriage had arrived and… and that she needed to go, but I-I answered her. I told her, yes. I-I told her I heard what she said. I told Tess to have a good night.
And – and as she left the house… as Faroe sat in the bath, waiting for her dad… to – to arrive, to turn off the water… I wrote.
(Arthur takes a deep breath, shuddering.) I wrote a piece of music, and I… and I thought of nothing else. (He sobs softly.) I thought of nothing else as my daughter Faroe drowned.
I don’t deserve your belief, John. I, I… I don’t deserve your trust. What I deserve… (Arthur pulls himself together.) What I deserve wanders the darkness below us.
JOHN: Jesus, Arthur. I’m…
ARTHUR: Sorry? Don’t be. I deserve many things, but I don’t deserve sympathy for this. I failed that day.
JOHN: You won’t fail again. I won’t let you.
(Far off, the creature growls again.)
JOHN: It’s coming. (Arthur gasps in fear.) Don’t lose it now, Arthur. Get ready! When I say, light the wick. (Slow, heavy footsteps approach.) Now. (Arthur flicks the lighter and lights the notes.) Okay, get ready to throw it. We have one chance at this.
(Arthur starts to breathe shakily.)
JOHN: Wait. (One stomp.) Wait. (One stomp.) And. (One stomp. John shouts.) Now!
(Arthur throws the glass. There’s a pause before it shatters against the creature, which roars in pain. It catches on fire.)
(Arthur starts to run. He pants in exertion. In the background, the creature stomps around, growling in pain.)
JOHN: Left! Jump, Arthur! (Arthur jumps and lands with a grunt.) We’re almost there! (A pause.) Stop! (Arthur stops.) It’s screaming. it’s almost here! Arthur, it’s running into the water. Push, now!
(Groaning in exertion, Arthur pushes the rock. It falls into the water, cracking against the creature. Something very heavy splashes into the water.)
ARTHUR (breathless): Did I…?
JOHN: I don’t know, but we are running for the chute either way.
JOHN: Quickly, now. Arthur, the –
(Arthur slips and gasps. He falls into the water, distorting the audio. Eventually, he resurfaces with a gasp.)
JOHN (disappointed): Jesus Christ, Arthur.
ARTHUR (gasping for breath, swimming): Where is it? Where is it – is it dead? Is it – ?
JOHN: I don’t know! Stay quiet and swim to the edge.
ARTHUR: Oh, fuck. O-oh, fuck! (He starts to swim.)
JOHN: No! That way. Quiet! (Arthur swims.) It’s dead. I can see its skull cracked open.
ARTHUR (amazement): Jesus.
JOHN: We did it, Arthur.
ARTHUR: I. I can’t believe it.
JOHN: I can.
(Arthur climbs out of the pool, dripping.)
ARTHUR: Thank you, John. For – for what you said earlier.
JOHN (cautious): Thank you, as well. For… telling me.
ARTHUR: Of course. Now. Let’s get the fuck out of here.
(Arthur starts to walk along the rocky ground.)
JOHN: To the right, here. Keep your hand on the wall, and we’ll reach the chute in a few moments.
ARTHUR (sigh): Brilliant.
JOHN: Here! Here it is. This won’t be easy, especially because of your arm, and your leg.
ARTHUR: Anything to get out of this fucking place. (Grunting. The alarm starts to go off again, but as he continues to climb, the alarm stops. He’s straining with effort.) It’s… it’s very tight in here. I don’t like it – makes me uncomfortable. I don’t – I don’t like this.
JOHN (reassuring): It’s all right, Arthur. Relax. Take a deep breath.
ARTHUR (taking a deep breath and hitting something solid): What is this? What is this – a ceiling? I can’t go any further.
JOHN: There’s a ceiling here that closes the chute. Give it a push!
(Arthur does so, with a grunt.)
ARTHUR (terrified): It’s not budging! Oh, god –
JOHN: Relax! Try pulling.
(Arthur grunts. The metal starts to creak.)
JOHN: There! It’s opening. We can climb out.
ARTHUR: Oh! Oh, thank god.
(He climbs out of the chute, gasping for breath.)
ARTHUR: Oh. (Breathless.) That was hell. Where the fuck are we?
JOHN: We’re in a large cavern. The rocks in the walls here are faintly glowing blue. A moss seems to be illuminating this place. (Gentle.) We did it. (He sighs.)
ARTHUR: So what was this chute for?
JOHN: I don’t know. It’s very well hidden… and just beyond it lay a glowing object. I don’t –
ARTHUR: It’s a trap.
JOHN (realizing): Jesus!
ARTHUR: This thing, it… it rigged up a trap to lure people towards whatever that glowing object is… to – to trap them. (He sighs.) I feel like I could sleep for a year.
JOHN: Get up, Arthur. We have promises to keep, and many miles to go before we sleep.
ARTHUR (laughing jovially): Well, you have me there. (He grunts and starts to move.) Alright. (Wearily.) And miles to go before I sleep.
(He starts to walk.)
(END Part 17.)