A familiar friend, a darkened path, a fall from grace...
Malevolent follows Arkham Investigator Arthur Lester as he unravels the mysterious circumstances that have befallen him.
In the twenty fourth part of our tale, Arthur is reunited with the Entity within. The two find themselves in over their heads as they try to navigate the black tunnels beneath the Larson estate only to find themselves up against a overwhelming force with unknown motivations. There will be no escape without reconciling, no safety without understanding and together they must understand the great divide that has grown between them....
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PART TWENTY-FOUR: THE MINE
Original transcript by Croik and Jack! Reviewed by JD and Tony.
(BEGIN Part 24.)
(The sound of a long, long fall. Arthur strikes the ground hard, groaning in agony and scraping across the dirt.)
(Arthur starts to laugh.)
(Arthur continues laughing, almost a cackle.)
(Arthur continues laughing.)
JOHN: Are you – why are you laughing?
(Arthur takes several deep breaths and pulls himself together. A sad piano melody starts to play.)
JOHN: Yes! For fuck’s sake. Why are we at the bottom of another fucking pit? Who was that? Where in the hell are we? Arthur. You –
(Arthur starts to cough.)
JOHN: You have blood on your... What are you wearing? Are you okay? That was quite a fall.
ARTHUR (croaking): We’ve had worse. (He laughs again.)
JOHN: I suppose so.
ARTHUR: You remember?
JOHN: Of course I do. You keep saying that.
ARTHUR (emotional): You didn’t, though. You said… you didn’t.
JOHN (flabbergasted): What happened?
ARTHUR: After we separated, the King kicked me out into the –
JOHN (interrupting): We separated?
ARTHUR: Yes. (He groans.) You don’t remember?
JOHN: I – maybe, I..?
ARTHUR: I landed here, in a town called Addison, to the west of Arkham.
JOHN: Back on Earth?
ARTHUR: Yes! Yes. But I was alone, bleeding. (A pause.) Broken.
ARTHUR: And then Kayne showed up when I flipped the coin.
(Arthur grunts in pain as he moves around.)
JOHN (worried): Arthur.
ARTHUR (panting): He'd offered me a deal, that you would come back to me, but you’d remember nothing. And I took it. And a piece of the King: Yellow, I called him. He… he took over, and… it was as if we’d never met. Nothing. None of our memories together.
ARTHUR: But that doesn’t matter now, because you’re back. (He chuckles dryly.)
JOHN: But where are we?
ARTHUR: The town is run by a family called the Larsons. Wallace is a monster, John, he… he kills, he’s tortured. (Suspenseful strings start to rise in the background.) And there’s something down here, it’s invisible, like –
ARTHUR: He made a pact with an Outer God, and he… something lives down here, it-it does his bidding, it’s –
JOHN (calmly): Alright. Okay, okay.
ARTHUR: Where are we, exactly?
JOHN: We’re in a mineshaft. There are stone walls, but otherwise, unlike the caverns in the Dreamlands. Where we fought that creature.
(Arthur laughs again.)
JOHN: I’m sorry I wasn’t here. I-I didn’t know.
ARTHUR (fondly): You have your hand back.
ARTHUR: Let me shake it.
(Arthur takes his own hand. John inhales sharply in surprise. A more hopeful piano melody starts.)
ARTHUR (enthusiastically): I’ve missed you. My friend.
JOHN: Oh. I was hardly gone.
ARTHUR: You were. But that doesn’t matter now. Welcome back.
JOHN: Alright. Okay.
ARTHUR: We need to get out of here.
JOHN: The mineshaft stretches above us: wooden beams supporting the walls of the cavern back up to the – whose house was it?
ARTHUR: Larson Estate.
JOHN: Right. It looks like it was an access point, once. A way into the house from below. There isn’t any light down here, only from what’s above. But I think I might see some lanterns along the wall. Where’s the lighter?
ARTHUR: I don’t have my bag, oh. (He pats himself down.) You don’t see it, do you?
ARTHUR: Fuck. They… wait. (Briefly, suspenseful string music.) Wait, no. (He flicks the lighter open.) I do have it, it was in my jacket, here.
JOHN: Oh. Can you stand? Arthur, you fell a long way.
ARTHUR: I know. I think so, I. (He tries to stand and immediately makes noises of severe pain.)
JOHN: Take it easy!
ARTHUR (breathing hard): I can – I think – I can – I can stand, I-I can walk.
JOHN: There’s a lantern on the wall to your right. (Arthur makes noises of pain, but steps forward.) Wait. Stop. (Arthur stops.) Looks like there’s a pile of rubble or debris. Move around to the left. (Arthur chuckles softly.) There! The wall.
(The lantern of the metal clinks as Arthur takes it. He flicks the lighter on and ignites the lamp.)
JOHN: The mine goes on, Arthur. It’s straight. Thick wooden beams line the walls and act as almost a steepled roof, supporting the tunnel all the way. It doesn’t look well-used, though, at least not recently.
(Arthur walks forward. Occasionally, the metal lantern clicks as Arthur holds it. A melancholic piano melody begins to play.)
ARTHUR: No. This whole mine was closed by Larson.
ARTHUR: ‘Cause he’s a fucking mad cultist.
JOHN: A cultist?
ARTHUR: Yes. The Order of the Fallen Star. Does that mean anything to you?
ARTHUR: I didn’t think so.
JOHN: So. What do you want to do?
ARTHUR: There’s an exit to this place. I’ve seen it from the outside. Larson must have absolute trust in this creature, though. Otherwise, he wouldn’t risk us being able to escape.
JOHN: If it’s invisible, there’s no real way we can outsmart it.
ARTHUR: No. But that’s not going to stop us from trying.
(Arthur walks forward, as if stepping on gravel.)
JOHN: What the hell has happened to you?
ARTHUR (quiet): What? What do you mean?
JOHN: You look run ragged.
ARTHUR (sarcastic): Why, thank you.
JOHN: No, I mean to say –
ARTHUR: I know what you mean. (He continues to walk.) The voice in my head. Yellow. He… he wasn’t like you. He didn’t want the same things you want. I-I think… I think you want them, do you – ?
JOHN: Do I what?
ARTHUR: You want to be human, right? You –
JOHN (surpised): What?
ARTHUR: I just – nevermind! I just. He was convinced that he deserved to be a god, that I should bow down to him. It was… it was fucking awful, John. It was you, without all the humanity that Lilly gave you, that our time together granted you. (A pause.) Without the knowledge of… my daughter. You do remember her, right?
JOHN: I… I’m not going to say her name.
ARTHUR: S-Say it.
JOHN: I promised, Arthur.
ARTHUR: It’s okay.
ARTHUR (inhale): She brought you back, John. The same way she did me. She saved us.
JOHN: What do you mean?
ARTHUR: Her song, it-it was… it was what made you remember. It’s what saved us. It’s what saved you from wherever you were.
JOHN: I owe her a lot, then.
ARTHUR: We both do.
(Arthur fiddles with the lantern and continues on.)
JOHN: So. Where is the King, then?
JOHN: Yes, sure.
ARTHUR: I don’t know. You don’t remember anything from after the King in the Dreamlands until now, right?
ARTHUR: You’re sure?
JOHN: I’m sure. All of this is as if it only happened a moment ago, Arthur.
ARTHUR: Well, then, I don’t want to consider what that means for him. Especially…
ARTHUR: No, nothing. I’m not ready to consider whether or not the King is still seeking us out, or – or if Kayne thinks we’ve broken our deal.
JOHN: Kayne is not someone we want to break deals with.
ARTHUR: No! He isn’t. (He grunts.) But none of that matters if we don’t survive getting out of here. We don’t know the way out. We can’t climb back up, right?
JOHN: Not likely.
ARTHUR: Then I suppose it’s about stumbling in the dark. Unless you have a better idea.
JOHN: Then what? If we get out.
ARTHUR: Then we’re heading back up to the Estate, and I’m going to kill Larson. (Ominous string music starts.)
JOHN: Kill him? Are you sure that’s wise?
ARTHUR: I don’t care. I made a promise. One I intend to keep.
JOHN: Let’s cross the bridge of getting out of here first. For now, we need a solid plan. These tunnels –
ARTHUR (interrupting): They’ll be on a grid system, probably. We’ll keep a hand on one wall and move forward. Right?
ARTHUR: Here, here. (He pats his hand on the wall.) And we’ll just… keep our ears open. I don’t know, fuck.
JOHN: Your hand is already black.
ARTHUR: Yeah. They mined coal here.
JOHN: There’s plenty of coal set into the wall.
JOHN: Do you think the creature has any trouble seeing?
ARTHUR: Hiding didn’t work too well last time.
JOHN: I mean, hiding in plain sight. Rubbing coal on your skin and face.
ARTHUR: Oh. (In realization.) Oh!
ARTHUR: Brilliant, John, it’s… brilliant! It’s in the walls?
(Thoughtful piano music starts briefly.)
JOHN: Yes. You’d need to use a large stone to knock some of it free.
ARTHUR: Which would make a great deal of noise.
JOHN: But it could save our life.
ARTHUR: Or. Draw it right to us.
JOHN: Arthur, please.
ARTHUR: Okay! Okay. But we have to be smart about this. Maybe just… little pieces, at first.
JOHN: Alright. There’s a stone big enough by your left foot.
(Grunting, Arthur leans over to pick it up.)
ARTHUR: Alright. Where is the, uh –
JOHN: A little further. There!
ARTHUR: Is it just… all over the wall?
JOHN: There’s a fairly large… vein, I suppose you’d call it, just above your head. (Arthur strains himself to reach.) There! (Arthur starts to strike against the wall with the stone. Some coal falls to the floor.) A little more. I think you can pull some of it down, now.
(Arthur hits the wall three times. In the far distance, there are three definite echoes.)
ARTHUR: Wait, wait, wait. (JOHN: What?) Listen.
(A long, silent moment.)
JOHN: I don’t hear anything. (Arthur strikes the wall three times again, causing three more echoes. Suspenseful music starts, and Arthur starts to breathe shakily.) Arthur! (Arthur repeats the action, with three more echoes.) What the fuck is that?
ARTHUR: I don’t know. A-An echo, or a –
JOHN: An echo?
ARTHUR (shakily): Caves are tricky, they… their design makes them extremely susceptible to whisper galleries and reverberations –
JOHN: You don’t believe that, do you?
JOHN: Just get what you can.
(He grunts, starting to spread the coal around his body.)
JOHN: Everywhere exposed, now. Hands, neck, face. Oh. The blood from your ear – (ARTHUR: Fuck!) – is mixing with the coal. (ARTHUR: Wonderful.) No, it’s actually helping. (John sighs.) Arthur, I still have a million questions about what the hell happened –
ARTHUR: I know, I know. I’m sorry. But right now, we need…
(Three echoes, far off in the distance. Arthur breathes shakily.)
ARTHUR: I think this is as good as we’re going to get it.
JOHN: Your hands are covered. I can’t tell your face, but I –
ARTHUR: We’ll need to use our senses, here. And we’ll leave the lamp.
JOHN: You’re sure?
ARTHUR: This was all for naught if we’re spotted a mile away with the light.
JOHN: I know, it’s just. (Nervous.) I won’t be able to see anything.
ARTHUR: Welcome to my world. (The lantern clicks.) Look, we’ll follow the tracks. They have to lead out.
(Arthur starts to walk. Footfalls rapidly pass by Arthur and into the distance.)
ARTHUR (gasping): Jesus Christ! I think – I think something just ra-ran past us, and –
JOHN: I do, too. (He breathes heavily.) Keep moving! Arthur, the track has ended.
JOHN: There’s no more.
ARTHUR: Did we take a wrong turn, or –
(A high-pitched call in the distance, as if from a creature.)
ARTHUR: We keep moving. I’ll keep one hand on the wall. (He pats his hand against the wall.)
JOHN: One hand?
ARTHUR: It’s the only surefire way to escape a maze.
JOHN: Alright. Try to keep your words to a minimum. (ARTHUR: Mhm!) (Arthur starts to walk, sliding his hand along the wall.) There’s a light up ahead. Dim, with a greenish hue. (In surprise.) Oh. There’s light all over the walls of this part of the mine, though the wood pillars are gone. (The main theme starts to play.) This area is cave-like. A green carpet of plant covers everything.
JOHN: Are you sure you want to head this way?
ARTHUR: One hand. One wall. We may sidetrack, but it’s the only way to make sure we find an exit.
JOHN: Alright. (He moves forward. Suspenseful music briefly plays.) These walls are bizarre. I can’t tell if they’re naturally forming, or if they’re – oh.
JOHN: There’s an image here. On the wall. Using the green plants. Someone’s carved it away to make an image.
ARTHUR: What is it?
JOHN: I don’t know. It looks… it looks like a group of figures, surrounding a central being or object. It’s depicted in wavy lines, as if moving constantly.
ARTHUR: Let’s keep moving.
JOHN: It looked like they were worshipping it. Oh. The light is fading, but the cavern seems to open up wide. Very wide! (In horror.) Arthur.
JOHN (quieter): There’s someone standing on the far wall. I can see their blackened outline against the green light. They’re staring at us, their arms slightly open to either side of them, their fingers wide and apart. (Someone breathes shallowly in the distance.) I can see their long hair, hanging in wet strands, their head slightly cocked to one side. Don’t move!
(The person rapidly starts to pant. The suspenseful music grows louder.)
JOHN: Jesus Christ! Arthur, they’ve covered themselves in black, as well! We’re not alone down here. (A swift pattering of footsteps.) It’s run off. We need to – (Arthur starts to walk.) Yes! Move. Wait. Wait! (Arthur stops.) There’s a hole here, leading down. It’s on a slight angle. It’s-It’s tight, but I can see light down there: orange light. It’s flickering, like that of a flame or-or a candle.
ARTHUR: It could be an entrance down there.
JOHN: Right. Okay. It’s tight. (Arthur gets down to squeeze in.) Keep moving forward.
(He moves forward, grunting with exertion as he does so. A distant rumble of thunder.)
ARTHUR (echoing, slightly muffled): It’s so small in here.
JOHN: Arthur, stay st – just breathe.
ARTHUR (panting): God. I’m fine, I’m fine.
JOHN: I know. It’s –
ARTHUR: Are you okay?
JOHN: Yes, of course.
JOHN (confused): Arthur, I’m fine.
ARTHUR: Okay, okay. Fuck.
ARTHUR: I can’t – are we?
(Arthur starts to breathe faster.)
JOHN: Move forward.
ARTHUR: Where’s the light?
JOHN: I don’t know! Ahead. Deeper.
ARTHUR (breathless): Are we tilted? I… I can’t –
JOHN: Can you move back? Head back out.
ARTHUR (panicking): I can’t – I don’t – I can’t move back!
JOHN: Just try.
ARTHUR: I can’t, John, I can't –
JOHN: Jesus Christ, we’ll be out of here!
ARTHUR (hyperventilating): I can’t fucking breathe, I –
JOHN: We just need to –
ARTHUR: I can’t –
JOHN (barking): Relax, Arthur!
ARTHUR: I can’t feel anything, I –
JOHN: You can’t breathe when you –
ARTHUR (desperate): I feel it everywhere! Tightening. There’s no fucking air!
JOHN (purposefully calm): Arthur, we’ve been here before. (Arthur breathes shakily.) Just like this. Remember the island?
ARTHUR: The is – the island?
JOHN: Yes, remember? (Melancholy music starts to play.) The caves beneath, the woman who followed. Beneath the lighthouse.
ARTHUR: Right, right. Yes. Yeah.
JOHN: We were in the same position. Almost identical.
JOHN: And yet, we made it through.
ARTHUR: We made it through. Yeah, yes.
JOHN: Exactly. We’ll get through this.
(Arthur heaves a long breath, gathering himself. A boom of thunder, at a distance.)
JOHN: Okay. You’ll need to move your head sideways, slightly, as if you’re looking over your right shoulder.
ARTHUR (grunting): Like this?
JOHN: Yes. The rock makes it barely big enough to fit through.
ARTHUR: My chest is against the rock, I… I can’t –
JOHN: Just your chest?
ARTHUR: Yes, I think so. (A pause.) John?
JOHN: I’m thinking.
(A long pause. Soft piano music starts.)
ARTHUR: Remember that thing below the island? In the caves? You don’t think that –
JOHN: The woman?
ARTHUR (purposeful): The-The thing. She wasn’t a woman, John, she was a cultist, remember? Deformed –
JOHN: What do you mean?
ARTHUR: She was duped by the cult. She tried to kill us, she was a monster. By that point, she deserved…
ARTHUR: Well, yes. What do you –
JOHN: Like Larson?
JOHN (purposeful): That’s what you said. That you’re gonna head back up there and kill Larson.
ARTHUR: Yes. What’s it to you? (More passionate) You don’t know what he did, John. What he… is capable of!
JOHN: No. I don’t.
ARTHUR (strained): He’s a monster! He. He’s held this town under his thumb, he’s killed… gods know how many! I heard a woman in the vents. She was weeping, and then – !
JOHN: He killed her.
ARTHUR: No. I think Jack Larson did, but. But that’s what I’m saying, all of these people, all of the Larsons, they deserve –
(Suspenseful string music starts to rise.)
JOHN: What the hell is wrong with you?
ARTHUR: Nothing! How can you – ?
JOHN: Arthur! Listen to yourself. They deserve to die?
ARTHUR: I’m just saying!
JOHN: You’re losing focus, Arthur! I don’t know what you’ve been through, but if you –
ARTHUR: You don’t know. You don’t know what it felt like to lose.
JOHN: Don’t I?
ARTHUR: Not the way I did. Alone, blind. (Insistent.) Dying.
JOHN: And that’s pushed you to what? To this? To killing, as an easier –
ARTHUR: What the fuck are you talking about? I’m not murdering anyone.
JOHN: Just the Larsons.
ARTHUR: You have no idea. (A distant roll of thunder.) You are so far removed from this.
JOHN: Not anymore.
ARTHUR: Don’t pretend to have even the smallest understanding of what we’re up against, John. You weren’t here. You were off, wherever, back in your domain of dreams, while I was –
JOHN (angry): How dare you!
ARTHUR (offended): How dare I? You don’t even remember where you were! No time has passed, right? Right?
JOHN (purposeful): Yes.
ARTHUR: So shut up. And let me do what needs to be done for this town, for these people. (Softer.) For us, John. These aren’t good people. Trust me.
JOHN: Trust you?
ARTHUR (pleading): Yes. Please. They need to… stop. I need… to stop them.
ARTHUR: Let’s just focus. Let’s get out of here.
JOHN: I’m trying.
ARTHUR: Okay. And look… thank you.
JOHN: What? For what?
ARTHUR: For saving me, for saving me, I –
JOHN: Saving you?
ARTHUR: From Yellow. He wanted power, John. A… A ravenous desire to control me and take every ounce of my humanity with him, I mean. He was a villain.
JOHN: A villain?
ARTHUR: Yes. Yes. I would have been truly lost, truly lost, had you not come back, I...
JOHN: Well, I’m glad I did, then. I suppose.
ARTHUR (chuckling): You suppose?
JOHN (distracted): Yes. Arthur, just like last time, I’m gonna need you to breathe out.
ARTHUR: Right. Okay, okay.
JOHN: It’s too tight. Let all the air out of your lungs and slide forward into the next cavern.
ARTHUR: I can do this. Yes. (He takes deep breaths.)
JOHN: You can do this. (A roll of thunder.) On the count of three, breathe out and slide forward. One. Two. Three!
(Arthur exhales sharply and pushes himself through the tunnel, grunting in exertion. He manages it and slides through the side. Immediately, he gasps for air.)
JOHN: Well done, Arthur!
ARTHUR (breathless): Jesus Christ! As soon as we’re out of here, I am done with caves. Properly done.
JOHN: Agreed! (Urgent.) Stay down!
ARTHUR: What? What?
JOHN: The light, it’s from up ahead. A-A flickering light. It’s filling just beyond. We’re in a tracked section again, the wooden supports frame the tunnels here. Stay low and move forward. (Arthur does so.) Low! (In awe.) Oh. There’s a large cavernous room ahead, Arthur. One with wooden walkways and struts that lead up.
ARTHUR: The surface?
JOHN: Likely, yes. (The sound of rain falling, from off in the distance.) This seems to be a loading area from high above. A manual walkway that leads to the area at the cusp of this. Massive barrels are here, presumably what they transported the coal to the surface in. But there are two problems: One, there are large parts of the walkway missing, including the start of the way up. The stairs don’t touch down.
JOHN: The lower steps of the stairs leading up have broken, maybe ten feet off the ground. (Arthur moves forward, grunting in exertion.) We need to find something to move over there and climb up onto in order to boost ourselves up to those steps. As far as I can see, it’s the only way up.
ARTHUR: Okay. What’s the other problem?
JOHN: We’re not alone. (The boom of thunder.) There’s a large fire in the center of the next room. There are close to thirty people sitting around it. (Suspenseful music rises.) All of them covered from head to toe with coal. They’re sitting in a large circle, rocking forward and back, all facing the fire. Panting in an animal-like way. I can see some of the faces. Arthur, their… features are strange, almost…
JOHN: Yes! How did you – ?
ARTHUR: Addison. The people here, it’s-it’s not just the Larson influence. (Suddenly urgent.) This – This town is cursed, these people must have splintered off to make –
JOHN: That image we saw. You don’t think they’re here for –
JOHN: We can try to sneak around them. Pressed up against the wall, hopefully we’ll go unnoticed.
ARTHUR: Then when we get to the stairs?
JOHN: I don’t know. We’d need to move something over.
JOHN: What do you suggest?
ARTHUR: I don’t know! We could wait. We-We don’t know anything yet.
JOHN: I suppose so. But if we wait too long, we may miss our chance.
ARTHUR: No! No, no. Let’s – let’s wait.
JOHN: You’re sure?
ARTHUR: No. But… who knows? Look, moving past them, it… it’s sure to make noise and alert them. And with my luck –
JOHN: Our luck.
ARTHUR: Right. Let’s just wait and see.
JOHN: Fair enough.
ARTHUR: I feel like we never did that as much as we should’ve. (He starts to move.)
JOHN: To your right, there’s a number of wooden beams, ones used as structural support in the mines. They’re large enough to have some cover.
ARTHUR: Okay, okay. (He moves closer.)
ARTHUR: Yes, I-I feel. This side? (He pats the beam.)
(Arthur moves and settles in a spot.)
ARTHUR: Are they…?
JOHN: They’re still around the fire. They’re quite far away, now.
ARTHUR: They worship this thing?
JOHN: What is this thing?
ARTHUR: I told you, I-I said –
JOHN: You said it was invisible.
ARTHUR: Yes, well.
JOHN (pleading): Arthur, I’m completely in the dark here. You realize that, don’t you?
ARTHUR: Yes. Of course, yes, I-I-I’m just… we haven’t exactly had a minute to catch up, John.
JOHN: I know. But we do now. What has happened?
ARTHUR: Well, like I said. (The main theme starts to play.) Yellow was… (He sighs.) monstrous. He wanted nothing –
ARTHUR: Well, yes, just – he wasn’t you.
JOHN: Yes, you said that.
ARTHUR: Yes, well, it’s true. You – he was the King. Without any of the…
ARTHUR: I’m just trying to say that you’re better than –
JOHN (cutting him off): I get what you’re trying to say, Arthur. You’re glad I’m back.
ARTHUR (confused): Yes. I… I'm just trying to explain.
JOHN: I’m no savior, Arthur.
ARTHUR: What? That’s – that’s not what –
JOHN: I’m not innocent.
ARTHUR: I know. I’m not saying you’re innocent. I’m just saying that y-you… that you’re better.
ARTHUR: Why what?
JOHN: Why am I better?
ARTHUR: I told you. The humanity, he had no desire to try to help, no – no part of him yearned for more.
JOHN (displeased): So?
ARTHUR: What are you talking about?
JOHN: So because I have humanity, because I’m trying to learn what it means, that makes me better? Or, at least not a monster?
ARTHUR (irritated): What the fuck is your problem? I’m trying to compliment you.
JOHN: I don’t think you realize what you’re saying. Or, if you are, you just don’t care how it comes across.
ARTHUR: Fuck, John. Fine, I’m sorry. I realize that you and he are the same. You want me to remind you of that?
JOHN: I want you to stop making it seem like I’m entirely different.
ARTHUR (growling): You are entirely different.
JOHN (frustrated): You – you… I am aware. That’s it.
(A melancholy piano piece begins to play.)
JOHN: I am aware of what this world means to people, the ones who inhabit it. What you… and everyone else lucky enough to have what you did… feel every day.
ARTHUR (disbelieving): Every day?
JOHN: What you had, Arthur. You’ve lost a lot, but you had everything. You have experienced the best of what life has to offer.
ARTHUR: And the worst.
JOHN (annoyed): Jesus, yes! And the worst. You had the run of it all.
ARTHUR: So what? What are you talking about?
JOHN: He wasn’t aware.
JOHN: And? That’s the only difference.
ARTHUR (scathing): Bullshit.
JOHN (demanding): How? What is fundamentally different about me?
ARTHUR: I – I don’t know.
JOHN: You don’t know because there is nothing fundamentally different. I was just made aware –
ARTHUR: By Lilly. By your time in the hospital.
JOHN: By you.
ARTHUR (taken aback): By me?
JOHN: By everything you showed me! Yes, my time while you were in a coma made it all click, but none of it would’ve without you.
ARTHUR: Well. And-And what? So what – so what, you’re saying that the reason Yellow wasn’t aware was my fault?
JOHN: I’m just saying… (Calmer.) I’m saying that I had an advantage that he didn’t.
ARTHUR (fed up): Oh, fuck off! I gave him all the advantages I gave you.
JOHN: Did you?
ARTHUR: Of course I did! I – I – I – Well. (Defensive.) W-W-What is this?
JOHN: It’s nothing, Arthur. I’m just telling you that every time you call him a monster, you’re forgetting that I am the same.
ARTHUR: But you’re not.
JOHN: And you don’t understand.
ARTHUR (quieter): I can’t believe you, this… This – I'm. I am here telling you, congratulating you on everything that you are and everything you’ve chosen to become, and you’re telling me I am wrong in doing so. (He shifts.) Fine. Fine. Maybe I wasn’t the most… patient with him, okay? I was weak. I tried to… jump the queue and jog your memory, but he, just like you, did his fair share in trying to manipulate me and trick me and lying.
JOHN: I’m sorry for that.
ARTHUR (furious): Don’t fucking high-road me, god damn it!
JOHN: I’m not high-roading you.
ARTHUR: Then don’t pity me.
JOHN (exasperated): I’m empathizing!
ARTHUR: You’re making me feel so fucking small! (He sobs, softly.) I died for you. For a fucking voice in my head that stole my eyesight. I fucking died for that. (His voice breaks, scarcely stronger than a whisper.) Do you – do you know how mad that sounds? Do you-Do you have any idea what the average person on the street would think about me, about that? About me even saying that? I-I’m… I’m mad. I’ve lost the plot somewhere down here, somewhere back in Arkham, I’m sure. Parker and I… Jesus. Parker, I…
It would’ve been what, a-a Wednesday? The day after all this started. (He makes several noises in confusion.) I don’t even remember now. It feels like a-a lifetime ago. We probably would’ve grabbed a blue plate special a-at the Stray Bullet and talked about whatever case. I forget what that life was, John. (A pause.) What have I done?
JOHN: You haven’t done anything.
ARTHUR: I have! I’m in a mine, covered in coal, with more scars on my body in the last few months than a lifetime of mistakes. T-Talking to myself in the dark. While being scolded on my lost humanity by a disembodied god from the Dreamlands.
JOHN (intent): Arthur. (Arthur sighs.) Everything I am, I learned from you. (A more optimistic melody starts.) That is what I’m trying to say. I don’t know why, or how, this relationship took form the way it did. I-I don’t know what happened to Yellow, as you called him, o-or why he had trouble finding meaning the way I did. But I’m thankful you gave me the gift you did. (Arthur breathes shakily.) I wish he was as lucky as I was. That’s all.
ARTHUR: I wish I hadn’t have failed him, then. (A long pause. He shifts.) How loud was I?
JOHN: You’re fine. (Arthur scoffs.) I think the fire is obfuscating a lot of the sounds beyond the firelight.
ARTHUR: Anyway, this thing is invisible. I ran from it outside the mountain. Nearly died, too, but – (In realization.) O-Oh, fuck! The flute!
ARTHUR: Yes, I – when it attacked, it was, uh, pulled away by a flute. I-I saw one, perhaps the one used to control it, in the Larson Estate. We grabbed it, but I put it –
JOHN: In our bag.
ARTHUR: Yeah. But if we could get it back?
JOHN: You don’t think we have any chance otherwise?
ARTHUR: I mean, it’s one thing to be outmatched in size and speed, but another when you can’t even see the fucking thing.
JOHN: If they’re worshippers of this thing… would they mean us harm?
ARTHUR: Larson felt comfortable enough to drop us down here without killing us first. Obviously, he’s not remotely worried about us escaping.
JOHN: However, he could be unaware of this following. Did he strike you as the kind of man to come down here?
ARTHUR: No. Far from it. He seemed like the kind of man to have a mansion on the outskirts of New York City.
JOHN: Well, clearly, he doesn’t come down here often.
ARTHUR: If ever. So – wait, w-what are you saying?
JOHN: What if we… joined them?
(The suspenseful music rises abruptly.)
JOHN: I mean to say, in order to find a way out. Look, if these people are from the village, those who follow or believe in this monster, they don’t look too organized.
ARTHUR (going along with it): Okay?
JOHN: Additionally, they just ran past us earlier without much of an issue.
ARTHUR: A peaceful cult.
JOHN: One that doesn’t give a shit if we leave this place. Maybe.
ARTHUR: That’s a big fucking gamble.
JOHN: Well, what are our options? They’re not doing anything. If they’re waiting for this thing to return, we’re not doing ourselves any favors by staying here. I mean, we could try again to leave, but –
ARTHUR (almost amused): So you think we can go over there and sit with them? That is absolutely mad.
JOHN (wryly): You did say you were going mad. (ARTHUR (scoffing): God.) We don’t have to stay. Just acknowledge that we’re here, let them see us. Maybe we even tell them we’re looking for a way out.
ARTHUR: They seem the helpful type to you?
JOHN: It’s an option.
ARTHUR (scoffing): I… I think asking them for a way out is beyond any logic I can get behind.
(Arthur takes a step out.)
ARTHUR: But. I suppose letting them see us, acknowledge that we’re here, is akin to showing you mean no harm to a wild animal, as well, so. Just – yeah, let’s–let’s let them know that we’re here, let them see us.
JOHN: It could prevent some reactionary movements on their part.
ARTHUR: Yes. (He chuckles.) I guess so.
JOHN (uncertain): So?
ARTHUR: So. (Restless.) Jesus. Okay. Yeah. We’ll–We’ll sit by the fire.
JOHN: You’re sure?
ARTHUR: If this thing is living down here, it’s not killing them. I don’t get a murderous vibe from them. I-I-It’s mad, but yeah. L-L-Let’s. (He grunts and starts to walk.)
JOHN: Alright. Slightly to the left.
JOHN: A little more. There! Straight ahead. (Arthur walks forward, kicking up rocks. He pants as he walks. Thunder booms outside and rain continues to fall.) Arthur. You’re just outside the circle of people. None of them seem to have noticed you yet. Just keep going! There’s a space to your right, a little bit. Here! Yes. Yes. Sit down. (Arthur does so, with a grunt and a suspenseful melody. One of the cult members breathes rapidly.) None of them are looking at you. There’s a woman beside you, covered in coal. Her clothes are rags. (Shocked.) Jesus. Her eyes… are black! Entirely black.
ARTHUR (whispering): What?
(Many of the cultists breathe rapidly, some almost whimpering.)
JOHN: Her head is tilted back, she’s looking up to the… oh. Arthur, I think the cavern above is open to the night sky. The broken stairs and the path must lead directly out of here!
ARTHUR (to the lady): Hello?
JOHN: She’s not reacting.
ARTHUR: Are any of them?
JOHN: No. They’re only rocking back and forth. They’re all moving slightly, but in different poses. Some looking down at their hands, some staring at the fire. All with the blacks of their eyes full, obscuring any white. (A long pause. The fire continues to crackle.) Features more animal than human.
ARTHUR: Okay. Okay.
JOHN: They’re all breathing, frantically, in different ways.
ARTHUR: Yes. I can hear.
(The breathing speeds up.)
JOHN: Maybe we should leave. I don’t think they’ll be much help.
(Someone starts to moan.)
ARTHUR: Okay! Okay. Let’s just –
(Suspenseful music rises; the breathing abruptly cuts out.)
JOHN: Jesus, Arthur! They’ve all turned! All of them!
JOHN: They’re all looking toward a tunnel. They’re all facing it.
ARTHUR: What is it? What are they –
JOHN: It’s just a tunnel! An abyssal black cavern entrance. I… I don’t see anything.
ARTHUR: You don’t think…?
(Slow, thudding footsteps approach. A monster snarls. Arthur gasps in fear. It approaches, continuing to make an animalistic gurgling noise.)
JOHN: Arthur. A man on the far side of the fire. (The man shifts and stands.) He… He’s standing up. His eyes, jet-black, they… reflect the embers of the fire. (The man moves forward, kicking up gravel. He breathes rapidly.) He’s stepping towards it. Arthur, he’s… he has a saw. A rough metal saw, rusted!
(John gasps in horror. There is the sound of sawing, and spraying blood. The man screams in agony, but soon quiets. The sawing noises remain.)
JOHN (horrified): Oh my god. Jesus fucking Christ.
ARTHUR: What? What, John?
JOHN: He’s sawing through his own neck! (John gags. There is a heavy thud.) His head has fallen to the ground by the fire! (The creature roars and approaches, snapping it up.) Something has grabbed it. Don’t move! I think we’re hidden, in a way. Just-Just wait.
(The monster’s footsteps fade away. The panting remains.)
ARTHUR (shaky): Is it gone?
JOHN (horrified): I don’t know. I-I think.
CULTIST (whispering): Help me.
JOHN: The man next to you is saying something. Move closer.
(Arthur does so.)
CULTIST (more insistently): Help me.
(Arthur gasps in fright.)
CULTIST (chanting): I have seen, and I cannot unsee. I have seen, and I cannot unsee. I have seen, and I cannot unsee…
(The other cultists start to join in different voices, each either chanting ‘help me’ or ‘I have seen, and I cannot unsee’.)
JOHN: Ask them what we can – (Arthur groans and starts to walk.) What are you doing? Where are you going?
ARTHUR: We’re getting out of here! I don’t know what is going on, but they’re sacrificing themselves –
JOHN (overlapping): They’re trapped, Arthur! They just said ‘help me’!
ARTHUR: Well, we can’t! We need to move something to the bottom of those stairs, so we can climb up! Where are the, uh –
JOHN: We can’t.
ARTHUR (beyond frustrated): What do you want me to do, Yellow!?
ARTHUR: John! Fuck. (He stops.) What do you want me to do? We can’t get out ourselves, let alone help other cultists who can’t even –
JOHN: I don’t know. They seemed like they were in a daze, under a trance. You can at least try and snap them out of it.
ARTHUR: This isn’t our problem, John. We need –
JOHN (taken aback): This isn’t our problem!?
JOHN (angry): What the fuck are you talking about!?
ARTHUR: We need to survive!
JOHN: Since when has that ever been your first concern?
JOHN: Always? The car on the side of the road outside Arkham, the wraith, the –
ARTHUR: We need to have a way out, John. Then, maybe, we can come back down and help.
JOHN: You don’t want to come back.
ARTHUR (snarling): Of course I don’t! It’s another fucking cave in another pit and another fucking group of cultists.
JOHN (disgusted): You don’t know that.
ARTHUR: Look! Fine. (Arthur approaches the chanting cultists again.) You want me to slap them? (Suspensful music rises.) Snap them out of it. Fine.
(Arthur slaps the cultist. They don’t seem to react.)
ARTHUR: Wake up!
(He slaps them again.)
ARTHUR: Wake up!
JOHN: Stop it!
ARTHUR: I’m trying to help you!
JOHN: Stop, Arthur!
ARTHUR (furious): Well, then what, John!? (Darkly.) It’s easy to sit there commenting on every little thing, but what the fuck are you doing to keep us alive?
JOHN (at a loss): I…
ARTHUR: Exactly. We’re leaving this place. We’re moving a barrel over to the bottom of the stairs that are broken, and we’re climbing them up to whatever surface there is above us. (He walks forward.) Where is one?
JOHN (resigned): There’s a barrel to your left.
(Arthur strains himself to move the metal barrel.)
ARTHUR: Here? (He shifts it again, breathing hard.) See? (Metal clanks, presumably Arthur climbing onto the barrel. He laughs slightly.) There! Stairs. (Panting, he begins to walk up wooden stairs.) Look. Look, I’m sorry, okay? I-I took it too far, yes, but… but you have to understand. I… I’m just trying to keep us alive. I’m just trying to make sure we have a-a tomorrow. You want a tomorrow, don’t you?
JOHN (flatly): Yes.
ARTHUR: Then let me save us! Maybe when we’re in town, we can… see if someone else can come down here, and, y-you know. You know, help them.
JOHN: And us?
ARTHUR: We’re getting out of here. (Quieter, as if to himself.) This too shall pass. This… This too shall pass. (He continues to walk up the stairs and to the surface.)
(END Part 24.)