A second chance, a dark descent, a poor decision...
Malevolent follows Arkham Investigator Arthur Lester as he unravels the mysterious circumstances that have befallen him.
In the 27th part of our journey Arthur and the entity inside his head have returned to the mines in order to help those under the thumb of Laron's influence. With the dark before them, the two must navigate the perilous pits and unknown creatures that lurk ahead. What answers will the cavernous walls have and what dangers approach. There is only one way out and the chances of them escaping are growing thinner by the hour...
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EPISODE TWENTY-SEVEN: THE ROOTS
Original transcript by Jack! Reviewed by Mintea.
(BEGIN Episode 27.)
(Arthur’s sounds of exertion. Occasionally, pebbles fall and strike the mine floor.)
JOHN: We’re nearing the bottom.
JOHN: Watch the – (Arthur falls and hits the ground, not a far distance.) Are you okay?
(A gentle, optimistic tune begins to play.)
ARTHUR (laughing): Easier fall than the first time, for sure. (In pain.) Oh. (He gets up.)
JOHN: Well, we have our way out, should we choose to… well.
ARTHUR: I know. This is crazy, isn’t it?
(Arthur starts to walk.)
JOHN: No, it’s not. We’ve come up against worse odds and came out ahead.
ARTHUR: Yeah. Yeah. And this time, we know what we’re up against. More or less.
JOHN: In a sense.
ARTHUR: I guess I mean to say that… we’re aware of what lies in these mines.
JOHN: On that note… how do you envision the flute helping take down this… creature?
ARTHUR: I don’t know yet, but I know what I want to do first.
JOHN: What’s that?
ARTHUR: Look. After Larson threw me down here, and we… reconnected… we heard someone. (A mysterious piano tune.) Or perhaps more than one person moving about in the darkness.
ARTHUR: We chipped coal from the wall, and as if – a call and answer, they did, too.
JOHN: The echo.
ARTHUR: Yes! But a person did that. Or, at least, I hope a person.
JOHN: Fair assumption, though nothing is off the table.
ARTHUR: True. Anyway, at the fireside, when we met others down here… they didn’t react to us at all. They sat around, stoic.
JOHN: Not entirely.
ARTHUR: No, you’re right. I suppose stoic isn’t the right word.
JOHN: They were… unsettled. Restless.
ARTHUR: Right. (As if remembering.) Right! Their eyes black, their heads careened upwards to the cavern roof… they didn’t respond to us. Not in any meaningful way.
JOHN: Okay. So…?
ARTHUR: So. Who was in the tunnels? Who - who responded to our knocking on the coal? You said you had seen a figure, either following us or… I don’t know. But they knocked back. Why?
JOHN: You think they were trying to communicate?
ARTHUR: I think they weren’t by the fire for a reason. Whether they are instrumental in this cult’s functions or…
JOHN (interrupting): We don’t know that this is a cult, Arthur.
(A mysterious, ominous piano melody.)
JOHN: You have a seething hatred for that word. At that idea. Why?
ARTHUR: Why do I hate cults? (Come on, now.) John.
JOHN (serious): Yes.
ARTHUR: They sent me back to the Dreamlands. Us. Into his hands… the King’s hands. They…
JOHN: I’m not defending any of their actions, nor of any other zealots that may act on behalf of a higher power. I just mean to say… well. (He sighs.) You know what I mean.
ARTHUR (sighing): I know. Look. (A pause.) So much of me was taken that day. Back at the hotel. In the caves, beneath.
JOHN: How so?
(A bare version of Faroe’s Song begins to play)
ARTHUR: Remember… we saw, laid out on paper, our path. Everything we had done, leading up to that moment.
ARTHUR: Do you have any idea how small I felt? To think that every choice we made led us there, and nowhere else. To imagine… there are these people out there that control… o-or believe they understand everything that I’ve done, and will do. It’s – it’s…
ARTHUR: Yes. Disheartening. And it makes me want to be contrarian. To spit in the eye of every fucking friend and family member who told me (He sighs) that God had a plan. When everything was taken from me.
JOHN: God has a plan?
ARTHUR: Yes, it’s the… (Quieter.) it’s just empty words that mean nothing. Said by a variety of equally mad zealots, pulling threads off the same bloodstained cloth and calling it their own.
JOHN: I know you don’t believe in God, Arthur, but…
ARTHUR: But what?
JOHN: Well. (He pauses) Everything you’ve seen. Me, even. The Dark World, it –
ARTHUR (interrupting): The Dark World, yes.
JOHN: None of that makes you reconsider? Question things?
ARTHUR: I don’t know. Maybe. (A pause) But if it has, none of that comes to benefit those who speak on the behalf of a selfish God like the one so many of my kind follow. Or… or if they do, he’s an insignificant child playing games, the way… Kayne would.
ARTHUR (sighing): “God has a plan” satiates those who are overcome with grief and want to know that those they lost are waiting for them. (A pause) My family isn’t waiting for me.
(Faroe’s lullaby starts to play.)
JOHN: You’re so sure.
ARTHUR: Of course. You’re not?
JOHN (uncertain): I…
JOHN: I guess I hope otherwise.
ARTHUR: I can’t. (Sadder.) I can’t.
JOHN (gentle): Okay.
ARTHUR: Anyway, so. Yes. My anger and frustration have deep roots.
JOHN: Fair. Though it seems like you’re taking the cult that we dealt with… those who took you, and sent you to the Dreamlands… and applying the feelings and frustrations you’ve had for years against your own Christian God-fearing people.
(The song ends)
ARTHUR: You’re probably right.
JOHN: They are different. Aren’t they?
ARTHUR: Blood has been spilled by and on behalf of both. Sure, they’re different. But not for the reasons I hate them.
JOHN: Blood has been spilled by many a person, for many different reasons. I struggle to believe it’s a reason to write one off.
ARTHUR: I’m not talking about writing one off, I… (In realization.) Oh. Oh, I see. Ah. Right.
(A somber piano melody begins to play.)
JOHN: Arthur, I’m not trying to…
ARTHUR: No, no, no. You’re right. (More insistent.) Y-You’re right! The blood, barely dry on my clothes, and I’m talking from the moral high ground.
JOHN: That’s not entirely what I mean, just…
ARTHUR (brighter): But it should! It’s an important point, and I nearly walked right by it. We know nothing about this group, yet. Y-you’re right. Look, I… I’m embarrassed by my bloodlust. Please. Help me stay in check.
JOHN (don’t make me): Arthur.
ARTHUR: N-no, I mean it! I mean it. You’re not only my eyes, but my conscience as well, and I need to start using the latter a little more.
ARTHUR: So, yes. All of this is to say that I want to speak with the other… people, or person, who was not by the fire side. They weren’t there for a reason, and we need to know why.
JOHN: We can move around the darkness. There are a few places we spotted movement last time. We could head there and try to find them.
(The somber piano melody fades)
ARTHUR: It seems like they were aware of us pretty quickly.
JOHN: Also, last time we used coal to cover our skin.
ARTHUR: Yes, yes. This creature is still a monstrous being, we need to be smart. Oh, and I also want to use the black rain slicker to help obfuscate our presence. (He pulls the slicker on, grunting in pain.) There. Okay! So, search the dark. O-or… try again with our little call-and-answer, chipping at the coal.
JOHN: We could also try the flute.
(Mysterious, upbeat piano music starts to play.)
ARTHUR: Right. Right! W-well, what are you thinking?
JOHN: If this flute does control the creature, or call it… it could offer a number of benefits. Perhaps save more people in the meantime, even. But mainly, we can find out its intentions rather quickly. If the flute doesn’t work… well, we could head back up to the estate.
ARTHUR (sighing): Try it now, before we get too deep and rely on it?
JOHN: Exactly. Could be a bit premature.
ARTHUR: But it could also save our lives. You’re not wrong.
JOHN: It’s your call.
ARTHUR (huh): Well – look. I know we’re putting a lot on the shoulders of an ornate flute. And that’s not to say we wouldn’t be wise in testing it, but. I think inviting the creature to us, now, without having a firm plan in place… it’s not the best call.
JOHN: Alright! Then we seek out this person. In the darkness. Or… should we use the lantern again?
ARTHUR: The lantern?
JOHN: It should be right where we left it, by the wall.
ARTHUR: Right, right! (Arthur goes to the wall.)
JOHN: Here. (The lantern clicks softly as Arthur wields it.)
ARTHUR: Right. Right, well. Last time, we were trying to go unnoticed. This time I… suppose we want something to notice us. (He starts to walk.)
JOHN: The right thing to notice us.
ARTHUR: True. But, but yes. Let’s. (He flicks the lighter.)
JOHN: Once more into the darkness.
ARTHUR (bemused): Quite.
JOHN: So. Controlling the creature is one thing, but. What is our plan to defeat it?
ARTHUR: Our goal is to help the cultists. If that comes at the defeat of the beast, then that’s our goal. And until then… I just want to find a way to get them out.
JOHN: You think it’ll be that easy?
ARTHUR: I don’t know what to think yet. Other than… focusing on the next step. Everything we’ve tried to plan goes sideways, anyway. We’ll just have to eat the elephant for a while, at least down here.
JOHN (not confident): Okay.
ARTHUR: Anyway. What are we seeing?
JOHN: The mines are… oppressive in their blackness. The coal catching glints of light from the lantern give it the impression of… starlight. (A mysterious melody.) As if gazing into the void of space. I don’t see any movement, or hear anything. (The lantern continues to click.)
ARTHUR: Me neither.
JOHN: Suddenly I realize what we’ve done here.
ARTHUR: What do you mean?
JOHN: Bravery is one thing. An honorable thing, even, but. Arthur, this is a place of death.
(Ominous string music briefly rises.)
JOHN: I suppose that’s the downside of eating the elephant.
JOHN: If you’re only worrying about the next bite, sometimes you forget what part you’re eating.
ARTHUR: Yes. Yes.
JOHN: It feels… colder, than it did previous.
ARTHUR: I think it’s just the lamp, tricking us. A small morsel of warmth makes everything feel colder.
(He continues to walk. Low, yawning echoes bounce around the cave.)
JOHN: A concept I know far too well.
ARTHUR: Do you?
JOHN: Yes. The Dark World. A place devoid of light and warmth. A place of… unimaginable terror.
ARTHUR: Where’s the warmth there?
JOHN: A warmth of… understanding where you are. And what you’re experiencing.
ARTHUR: What do you mean?
JOHN (sighing): There are things so… incomprehensible that a mind would break in order to understand. It would fracture and fall apart. Allowing madness to wash over you. To consume. It’s something I, as the King in Yellow, excelled at.
ARTHUR: Yes, I remember feeling his influence back in the Dreamlands. He played with my mind, my past, and… perception.
JOHN: For reasons that should be… relatively obvious, my mind doesn’t break this way. I’m able to perceive all the terrors and darkness that a place like that can offer. Able to comprehend every horrific act, every indescribable horror.
ARTHUR: And so, the Dark World?
JOHN: I felt as if I was always in a flame. A piece of understanding that made all the emptiness… feel so incredibly vast.
ARTHUR: I’m sorry.
JOHN: We’re at a T-Junction.
ARTHUR (broken out of his thoughts): Um.
JOHN: Left or right?
ARTHUR: Left, left.
(Arthur starts to walk.)
JOHN: Okay. The struts of the mine are worn here, as well. Brown wood now black as the coal.
ARTHUR: The air feels thick.
ARTHUR: You haven’t spoken about the Dark World in a long time. Why the sudden… rekindling?
JOHN (uncertain): I’m not sure.
ARTHUR: You once said it was a dumping ground, full of everything.
ARTHUR: That it was… chaos.
(Faroe’s Song begins.)
JOHN: Chaos beyond understanding.
ARTHUR: Yes, I remember. Vaguely.
JOHN: An exit for all worlds, each defined by their different choices.
ARTHUR: Right! Right, right, yes. That each of those worlds is a different… path, a different choice.
ARTHUR: How did you know all that? How do you know all that? You didn’t even remember who you were when we met.
JOHN: I didn’t come from the Dreamlands, remember? I came from the Dark World. I… saw. Experienced. All of it.
ARTHUR: Unbroken, then?
JOHN: Yes, I suppose so.
ARTHUR: Look, with Faust, I need to –
JOHN (interrupting): Don’t.
ARTHUR: No, but listen. Remembering that you had to endure… that, a-and that you… can’t do what I did, in a way… I-I don’t know, it -
JOHN: Arthur. It’s done.
ARTHUR (sighing): Right. Right. Okay. Well, again, for what it’s worth… I… I’m sorry.
ARTHUR: And you won’t be returning there, regardless, to the Dark World.
JOHN: Won’t I?
ARTHUR: No, of course not. Why?
(Faroe’s Song ends.)
ARTHUR: You’re sure? John, if you’re –
JOHN (interrupting): There’s something ahead! Wooden boards. A wall, I think.
ARTHUR: A wall? Against the mine?
JOHN: No, dividing it, in a way, but only to one side. A building, maybe. A small building.
ARTHUR: Right, right. (Ominous clang of background music.) Well, let’s take a look.
JOHN: Its wood is dark and heavy with age. Its dampness in the mines is causing it to swell and warp. This is a small building, perhaps an office. A door sits closed, facing the tunnels. It even has a peaked roof.
ARTHUR: Storage, or…?
JOHN: Possible. Would it be found in a mine like this?
ARTHUR: I don’t know much about mines. More about miners’ clothing…
JOHN: What? Why?
ARTHUR: Nothing. Nothing, uh.. Faroe’s mother was a seamstress, and – it doesn’t matter. Let’s investigate.
ARTHUR: Is it locked? (He stops.)
JOHN: Doesn’t seem to be. (Arthur pushes open the creaky door and steps inside. Mysterious piano music plays.) It’s a small office with a high roof, wooden crates and a simple writing desk are here. With piles of old paper. It also looks like supplies are stored above in thin rafters.
ARTHUR (detective-like): Right. So, parts storage, at least. Well, I guess they’d need an overseer, as such, to ensure work is being done.
JOHN: The desk has a small chair tucked against it, and a polished silver mirror beside a jug. There’s a small, empty water basin on the floor tucked under the desk. Put the lamp down.
ARTHUR: Right, okay. (He does so.) So, do the pages have –
JOHN: Something’s living here.
JOHN: There’s a pile of fabric in the corner, as if… piled into a nest.
ARTHUR (scared): Oh. (He gets closer.)
JOHN: What are you doing?
ARTHUR: I don’t – I don’t know. (He rummages around the pile.) Is there anything in the pile?
JOHN: No, not turning up anything. Seems like just… sheets. Though I don’t know if I’d want to put my hand in it, even if they don’t look overly soiled, or… (Arthur gasps.) What’s wrong? Why have you stopped?
ARTHUR (shakily): They’re warm.
JOHN: They’re warm?
(Ominous string music)
ARTHUR (whispering): Something was just here!
JOHN: Head to the door! Quietly. It may just be outside. (Arthur gasps and turns to do so.) Wait, wait!
JOHN: The mirror.
ARTHUR (shakily): Yes?
JOHN: There’s… (In horror. Thick, slow breathing becomes audible.) Arthur. There’s something perched in the rafters above us! (Suspenseful violin squeaks) It’s holding what looks to be a broken piece of glass. And… smiling. Open the door as fast as possible and run! We need to – (Something metal clicks.) Arthur, what are you doing! You won’t be able to draw the dagger fast enough, just run! Run!
(Arthur starts to run. Almost immediately, he knocks into something and lets out a noise of pain.)
JOHN: Get up, get up!
ARTHUR: The door is – uh! (He pushes through the door.)
JOHN: Move! (Arthur continues to run, almost whimpering with fright. Eventually, he slows, panting heavily.) What? Why have you stopped?
ARTHUR: I, uh, I don’t hear it.
JOHN: No. No, me neither.
ARTHUR: It’s not… it’s not chasing us.
JOHN: I don’t think so. No.
(A few slow steps.)
ARTHUR: Okay? Okay.
JOHN: Just… take a moment.
ARTHUR: Did it look… human?
JOHN: I could barely see, but its smile…
ARTHUR: What about it?
JOHN: It was toothy. Elongated, almost. Catching a bit of the light from the lamp.
ARTHUR: Ah, the lamp! We –
JOHN (interrupting): Left it in there, yes.
ARTHUR: Fuck. Are we… is this wise?
JOHN: Of course. But it’s also wise to realize this thing isn’t at least looking to actively hunt us.
ARTHUR: Which paints its appearance much more… maybe protective?
ARTHUR: Look, if it heard us approaching, and hopped up to the rafters…
JOHN: It didn’t attack.
ARTHUR: Yes. Yeah.
JOHN: Still. We made the right call.
ARTHUR: Agreed! I… I would’ve pulled that knife out. (A long pause.) Yeah. After all, we want to learn what we can from… it, potentially.
JOHN: Arthur, I can’t blame you for instinctively reaching for a knife in any situation down here. It was completely justified.
ARTHUR: Thank you. Regardless, that… creature, person… being – whatever they are. They are what we’re looking for.
ARTHUR: So. Okay. Well.
JOHN: We know nothing about these people, or why they’re here. Matthew seemed unlike these followers.
ARTHUR: Right, right. Followers we saw depicted on the walls of the mines around a creature, right?
JOHN: With… wavy lines, as if it were moving, constantly.
ARTHUR: So… answers to that, or at least a clearer understanding, would be helpful.
JOHN: Let’s be cautious.
ARTHUR: W-would you fault me if I kept one hand on the blade in our bag? (The bag rustles.) Just in case.
JOHN: I would recommend it.
ARTHUR: Okay. (To himself.) Alright, alright.
(He continues to walk. The door to the shack creaks open again; the creature’s heavy breathing is visible. Suspenseful strings rise in the background.)
JOHN (gasping): The creature sits still. Frozen above, in the rafters. It’s… crouched, with its legs drawn up close to either side of its head. Its face is gaunt. With a smile that seems… unnatural, in the dim light. It’s watching us. With… hollow eyes, it’s… pupils darting frantically back and forth, as if… debating. It’s a sickly grey, Arthur. Lines on its skin like melted wax, making it appear as if it’s almost… rotting.
ARTHUR (quietly. The creature stops breathing): I sense you there. Watching.
JOHN: Its eyes continue to dart! (The creature starts to breathe again.) It’s bringing the natural-looking blade it holds up slightly, like a cornered animal. Ready to attack.
ARTHUR: I don’t… want to hurt you. I don’t mean you harm. I… am like you, in a way. Larson threw me down here. I think maybe if… I think… (He takes a few steps forward.) I think if you can speak with me, then I –
(The breathing grows quicker.)
JOHN: Arthur! Take a step back. Your step made them begin to shake.
ARTHUR (gentle, backing off): Okay! Okay.
JOHN: That’s better.
ARTHUR: You’re… like me. Yes?
ARTHUR: You can speak? With me. Can you? Look, I-I promise you… I don’t int –
JOHN: It’s staring at your hand, in the bag. As if… maybe it knows.
ARTHUR (sighing): Right. Right. (He takes his hand out of the bag. The breathing stops. Faroe’s Song starts to play.) Look, look! My name is Arthur Lester. I come from a city called Arkham. It’s to the east of here, a good few hours’ drive. I am a private investigator and a proud believer in … people… and the good in them. And my path brought me here, to Addison. In the woods by the base of the mountain, I… I encountered what lives in these mines, I… felt its presence. I know what horrors exist here. I… understand. (The breathing continues.) Larson threw me down these mines alive, unlike he did to so many others. But I found a way out! (Arthur steps closer.) I don’t want to hurt you. I want to help you, and any others I can down here.
JOHN: They’ve stopped shaking.
JOHN: They’re unmoving, as if deciding. Staring at the blade in their hand. (More thoughtful.) One that looks more like polished stone than anything else, now that I have a moment to study it.
(Faroe’s Song ends.)
ARTHUR: Is Addison your home?
JOHN (gasping in horror): They’re slinking down from the rafters, Arthur! (An almost liquid melting noise, as the creature creeps downward. It sounds wet.) Pouring themselves down to the dirt floor of the cabin and into the light of the lamp. They’re thin. Their face, gaunt. Their skin, peeling in thick, calloused-looking drips… their mouth! Their lips are carved away, Arthur. Their teeth, bare. Not a smile at all, but…
(The creature attempts to speak. It comes out as unintelligible growls.)
JOHN: They looked pained, as they try to talk. (They continue.) As if they hadn’t spoken in a long time.
ARTHUR: W – just wait, you – uh. Y-you said there was – uh, paper?
ARTHUR: I-Is there a way… a way to, um –?
JOHN: W- why - what do you –?
ARTHUR: Write, John! Is there a pencil? O-or…
JOHN: Oh! Yes. On the floor, to the left of the desk.
(Arthur frantically knocks many things over on the desk.)
ARTHUR: Here! Here, look. Look. (He scribbles quickly on the paper.) Here! Can you… d-do you…
JOHN: They’re staring at the paper with an odd look, as if … searching for a memory.
ARTHUR: Oh, um. Y-you… (He hisses in surprise.)
JOHN: They’ve taken the pencil from you.
(Scribbling sounds on paper.)
ARTHUR: W-what does it say?
JOHN: Addison… home… yes.
(Faroe’s Song continues. More scribbling noises.)
ARTHUR: Yes! Yes, brilliant! Thank you. I mean. Thank you.
JOHN: It’s still writing.
JOHN: All… are… dropped… alive.
ARTHUR: All… are - dr -? W-what does that mean, I don’t…
JOHN: You said Larson threw you in alive, unlike so many others. You must’ve –
ARTHUR (understanding): Right! Right. Well, that’s what the bastard said. Obviously, he lied. So they’re all thrown in here alive, all the people that he… why? Why did he…?
JOHN: He… can’t… use… dead… flesh.
ARTHUR: He? Larson? Or?
(More noises from the creature.)
JOHN: They’re shaking their head. No.
ARTHUR: We… what do you…? (In horrified realization.) O-Oh. Oh. It can’t use dead flesh. What? What is it?
JOHN (horrified realization): Oh.
JOHN: Larson’s… child.
ARTHUR: What? That thing is… (Arthur’s bag shifts.) Larson’s child?
JOHN: They’re nodding.
ARTHUR: How do you know that? How could you… know?
JOHN: They’re drawing a picture.
ARTHUR (whispering): What kind of creature could give birth to a child like that?
JOHN (duh): Not one of this world, Arthur.
ARTHUR: You mean…?
JOHN: They’re done. It’s similar to the one on the wall of the mine. A central figure, only… the wavy lines are… attached, to those that stand around. A tendril, attached to each of the figure’s heads.
ARTHUR: A tendril? What does that mean?
JOHN: I don’t know.
ARTHUR: How could they know… so, are you all attached?
JOHN: They’re nodding yes.
ARTHUR: But not you?
JOHN: They’re shaking their head no.
ARTHUR: Not anymore?
(Something heavy impacts wood.)
JOHN: They’ve slammed the piece of polished stone down on the table.
(More intent scribbling.)
JOHN: Cut. (Scribble.) It. (Scribble.) Out.
ARTHUR: Cut it out?
JOHN (scared): Oh. Jesus. They’re showing us the back of their head, Arthur. There’s a deep, gouged hole, as if they’ve dug something out.
ARTHUR (panting): Jesus Christ. I, I have so many questions! So many things to ask.
JOHN: I don’t know how long we have, we’ll need to be smart here. Just start with the most important questions.
ARTHUR: Right, right. Uh… okay! (A pause.) This… creature, beyond being Larson’s child. What is it?
(Faroe’s Song plays again.)
JOHN: (Amidst scribbling.) They’re writing! I wonder how long they’ve been down here, they seem… capable of thought. Complex, even. Stringing words together. I pity them.
ARTHUR: Yes, but… let’s focus on the creature!
JOHN: Right. They wrote… ‘birthed of Larson’s desire for power, through his daughter’.
JOHN: What does that mean? (More scribbling.)
ARTHUR: I don’t know… I can’t consider what that means.
JOHN: Many children… failed attempts.
JOHN: Cast into the mines.
ARTHUR: What? Jesus Christ, what… kind of abomination is this thing?
JOHN: Failed attempts… to bring a proper heir to his name.
ARTHUR: Okay, okay!
JOHN (shocked): Jesus.
ARTHUR: Thank you. Thank you. This creature is… part child, part… remains of failed attempts? Or.
JOHN: The elder entities have different abilities. Some that allow the melding of flesh. While only alive. If Larson did everything in his power, willing this thing… then variations of it could be true.
ARTHUR: This creature. What does it… eat? W-What does it… (More scribbling.) How has it survived, all this time? We saw… someone remove their head, by the fire. Do you… pledge yourself to him?
JOHN: Arthur, slow down. They can only answer one question at a time.
ARTHUR: Right, right, right … (To himself, quieter.) Damn it! (He paces briefly. Angrier, and Faroe’s Lullaby plays.) This thing has been feeding people of this town, feeding on Larson’s victims! Anyone who stands in his way, no wonder he’s so powerful.
JOHN: He’s made a deal with the elder gods.
ARTHUR: Not just that! He has wealth! Unimaginable, I’m sure of it. (He sighs.) Think of what could stop you. He shut down a profitable mine, John. It’s within his reach. There’s no telling what kind of damage he, or this order of his, could do. What they’re capable of.
JOHN: Your question.
ARTHUR (quizzical): What was it?
JOHN: What does this creature eat?
ARTHUR (grimly understanding): Oh.
JOHN: It… controls us. Keeps us alive. Until it needs to feed.
ARTHUR: Keeps them alive? Why the head?
JOHN: They’re shaking their head.
ARTHUR: Not the head. What did they write?
JOHN: The brain.
ARTHUR: What? Why? How do you know all this?
(The sound of a pencil tapping.)
JOHN: They’re tapping the pencil against the picture they drew previous.
ARTHUR: The picture? The tentacles?
JOHN: Yes. They’re nodding yes.
ARTHUR: I don’t understand.
JOHN: Larson throws them down here, more or less, this creature… attaches to them. It seems to control them.
ARTHUR: So they’re not here by choice.
ARTHUR: I think part of me knew that.
JOHN: I wonder if they share a consciousness, in a way.
ARTHUR: Shared consciousness?
JOHN: That’s it! (The growls become more exuberant.) They’re nodding.
ARTHUR: Shared how? Experiences, memories…?
JOHN: When we were by the fire, they were all… mumbling, talking to themselves, as if in a daze.
ARTHUR: Yes. So you can… you know this, because of what? The others? Or do you understand the creature, or…?
JOHN: They’re struggling to write. I think they’re getting frustrated. (Paper crumpling.)
ARTHUR: Yes, yes, that’s an abstract concept to frame. Do you… do you understand the others that are here? Can you hear them? Or could you hear them, when you were…
JOHN: They’re nodding yes!
ARTHUR: Right. And…
(Some great creature growls from the depths of the mine.)
JOHN: What was that?
ARTHUR: It came from outside.
(More scribbling sounds.)
JOHN: It… senses… you.
(Mysterious piano music starts.)
ARTHUR (shakily): Okay, okay.
JOHN: We didn’t see any tendrils from their heads, Arthur, and if this creature is controlling them… how did this one get free?
ARTHUR: Is it possible that we just didn’t see?
JOHN: There are many possibilities.
ARTHUR: The others are stuck here, prey for this creature. How are you free? How did you cut it out?
(Something clatters against the table.)
JOHN: The stone. It’s pawing at the sharpened stone it held, like it’s a precious metal.
ARTHUR: Well, it’s just a stone. I have a dagger that we could cut the others with, if we need –
JOHN (interrupting): They’re shaking their head no.
ARTHUR: Why the stone? What’s so special about it?
JOHN: I don’t know. It’s just sharpened, black, and smooth.
ARTHUR: Wait, wait – sorry – wait. Obsidian?
JOHN: I don’t know, maybe.
ARTHUR: Volcanic glass? (Seriously.) More valuable than gold.
ARTHUR: Obsidian! It’s, it’s ancient in its use. (Mysterious piano music.) The Mayans had it in abundance, it was used in everything. Glass, knives, arrowheads… it was more valued than gold.
JOHN (eager): And?
ARTHUR: And… it was said to be so sharp… that it could cut through the darkness. To reveal the truth.
JOHN: That’s what they’ve written on the paper.
JOHN: I don’t know. But they seem relieved in what you’re saying.
ARTHUR: This stone matters. You haven’t left… because you want to help them? These people, you’ve… shared time with. Shared a conscience with. You didn’t want to leave them behind.
ARTHUR: Right. I know how that feels. Sharing a mind with someone. Not wanting to leave them behind. May I?
(Arthur takes the stone. It clatters slightly.)
ARTHUR: Yes. It’s sharp, but thin. Far too thin. This isn’t much of a blade anymore at all, I don’t – look, we want to help. This stone. It’s the only thing that can cut them free, yes?
JOHN: Their eyes are wide in surprise. And… perhaps appreciation?
ARTHUR: Right, well. We’ll need more. Okay? So where did you find it? Where is more of it? The obsidian?
JOHN: They’re pointing down, Arthur.
JOHN: At their feet.
ARTHUR: Deeper into the mines?
ARTHUR: Okay. Well.
JOHN: Hold on! They’re writing something.
JOHN: It… knows… what… I… did.
ARTHUR: It knows what you did? (Realizing.) It knows what you used! Where the obsidian is. Where is the obsidian?
JOHN: In… its… lair.
ARTHUR (frustrated): Fuck. (John sighs.) Damn it. This creature is… it’s not a mindless being like the one we fought in the Dreamlands, John. It’s, it’s intelligent… or at least animal enough to stalk, to know when to be silent, to guard obsidian so more of its meals won’t leave. Fuck. How –
JOHN: We take it down. Like anything else. And we have the flute!
ARTHUR: Yes, but. Untested. Who knows what it can actually do. (More scribbling.) Okay, maybe if we –
ARTHUR (cautious): What?
JOHN: They’ve written.
JOHN: I… can take you there.
ARTHUR: Okay, brilliant, yes.
JOHN: Or – I can keep it distracted.
ARTHUR: Well. I can’t let them distract the creature for us.
ARTHUR: I can’t let them distract the creature for us. It’s too risky.
JOHN: Arthur, the creature’s lair is where the obsidian is. If we don’t lure it out –
ARTHUR: They can hurt themselves. And possibly –
JOHN: Arthur, they’re… obsidian is in the creature’s lair. If we don’t take measures to lure it out, we might – !
ARTHUR: Yes, but look! I can’t afford to be callous about this person. I –
JOHN: It’s not callous, Arthur! You’re confusing tactics for being cruel. I’m not saying we throw them to the wolves, but we need to be smart. This creature isn’t –
ARTHUR (interrupting): John, listen to me! I need to redeem myself with –
JOHN: This isn’t redemption, Arthur! (He sighs.) This person isn’t our friend.
ARTHUR (scathing): Well, now who’s being callous!
JOHN: It’s not callous to not bond with everything that enters our vicinity, Arthur. (He chuckles.) I know this isn’t the Dreamlands, but –
ARTHUR (angry): You pulled me back from being a murderer!
JOHN (growing frustration): There’s a line between being a murderer and thinking about things logically. You said it yourself! Keeping us alive needs to be the –
ARTHUR: And helping others! (John sighs in irritation.) Look, look! I know what I’m doing. (To the person.) Please don’t distract it. Come with us, we’ll go together.
JOHN (displeased): Arthur.
ARTHUR: And I’ll keep you safe.
JOHN: With your dagger.
ARTHUR: Please. Let’s go, now. There’s no time to waste.
JOHN: The lantern.
ARTHUR: Right. (He picks it up and starts to walk through the shack in silence. The person follows.)
JOHN (whispering): Arthur! I appreciate that you’re trying to be more kindhearted, that you’re being generous with your desire to help these people. Lo – I know. We came down here with the knowledge that leaving alive was slimmer than if we had just left. But we –
ARTHUR: But nothing! You’re right. Look, that’s the takeaway. These people are innocent.
ARTHUR: And we need to help them! Help them with… help their friends.
JOHN: Yes, I see that, and I know you feel that, because of our relationship. But we can help them while still playing a numbers game.
ARTHUR: Numbers game?
JOHN: The risk of one person distracting the creature potentially means we could save all of the others!
ARTHUR: You would sacrifice someone?
JOHN: They’ve moved to the left. To – this way, yes. To save more. In this case… I would take the risk at the very least. And you would, too. You’re just haunted by the version of yourself that’s been so prominent as of late.
JOHN: Arthur, listen to yourself! Listen to your conscience.
ARTHUR: I have. And I won’t risk it.
JOHN (sighing): They’re leading us down a thin tunnel, not unlike the one we may have squeezed through before, but… this one is in the opposite direction. (Gravel slides down.)
JOHN: It’s very tight. (Arthur groans in extreme exertion, trying to force himself through.) They moved through it easily.
ARTHUR (muffled, pained): It scrapes my stomach.
JOHN: I suppose the wounds on its chest are from squeezing through the rock like this.
ARTHUR: Right. (He continues to force himself through.)
JOHN: It’s a dead end.
JOHN: There’s no other way here.
ARTHUR: Where are we going now?
JOHN: It’s pointing down.
JOHN: There’s a small hole in the ground, barely big enough for one. It goes straight down here.
ARTHUR: A volcanic tube?
JOHN: Perhaps.They’re also pointing towards the lantern, and to the side.
ARTHUR: Do you want me to leave it?
JOHN: They’re nodding.
ARTHUR: Fuck! Okay. (He places down the lantern.)
JOHN (in surprise): Oh! They’ve slipped into it and are climbing down.
JOHN: We can do this.
ARTHUR: Right. Okay. (Arthur attempts to force himself through, grumbling and cursing.) No, no. No.
JOHN: It’s your shoes, I think. And the shirt is a little baggy.
ARTHUR: Shit. Okay. Well. I’ll take them off, and carry them.
JOHN: The shirt?
ARTHUR: I guess the same.
JOHN: Wrap your shoes in it, like a bundle. Put it in the bag.
ARTHUR: Wait for me! (Arthur disrobes and fiddles with his bag.) Okay. Right.
JOHN: Just pants, then.
ARTHUR: I think they’re tight enough, right?
JOHN: Let’s hope.
ARTHUR: Okay. This has my shoes and shirt in it, let’s … try not to lose it. (He gets down again.) Oh, fuck. (Muffled.) Ten pounds heavier and I wouldn’t be able to fit in this. (Arthur continues to force himself through.)
JOHN: Just… shimmy down!
ARTHUR: I can’t bloody see where I’m going.
JOHN: Keep pressing to the sides!
ARTHUR (panting): It’s… difficult to get… a grip, it’s – smooth!
JOHN: Keep going!
ARTHUR: Can you see the bottom yet?
JOHN: No! (Arthur starts to breathe faster, quicker.) It’s okay, Arthur!
ARTHUR (whispering): Fuck! Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay. (He yells in surprise and fear.)
JOHN: It’s them! It’s them. Relax.
ARTHUR: Oh, good god!
JOHN: They grabbed your ankle. We must be near the bottom.
ARTHUR: Jesus Christ! God, god. (He continues to shimmy downwards, exiting through the tube. His voice goes back to normal volume.)
JOHN: Yes. Okay.
ARTHUR (panting): Fuck. Fucking, uh –
JOHN: They’re holding their finger against your lips, Arthur.
ARTHUR (quieter): Okay. Okay.
JOHN: I can’t see anything. Use your ears. I think… yes – I think they’re along the left wall. (Arthur starts to walk. The rest of the soundscaping is eerily quiet.) It feels smooth, here. It could be obsidian. I don’t know. I can hear the steps further ahead. We must be near. But I don’t hear anything else. Perhaps we’re alone. Wait, wait! (The footsteps stop.) I don’t hear anything. Have we lost them? (With feeling.) Fuck! Arthur. I can’t – I don’t see anything! Nothing. I can’t hear anything. Pull out the lighter. Carefully. (Arthur flicks the lighter. In surprise.) Oh!
(Something moves through the air.)
ARTHUR: What is it?
JOHN: They’re in front of us. Standing!
ARTHUR: What is that sound?
JOHN: Looking at us!
ARTHUR: What’s wrong? What is it?
(The monster pierces the person, bloody gore spraying out. Arthur gasps in fear and surprise. The monster roars.)
JOHN: Jesus fucking Christ! It’s ripped their head clean off! Run!
(Amidst suspenseful music, Arthur starts to run. He’s panting in fright. The monster pursues them, growling.)
JOHN: I don’t know!
ARTHUR: The blade!
JOHN: It’s still in their hands! Grab it! Pull! (With a squelch, Arthur removes the dagger.) You have it, now move!
JOHN: I don’t know! I can’t see it! (The music suddenly cuts short as something pierces through Arthur’s body. Arthur screams in pain. Tinnitus rises.) Arthur! It’s pierced through your stomach from behind. Oh, it’s like –
(Arthur falls to the ground. Both he and John start to hyperventilate with high-pitched “oh”s of terror.)
JOHN: Arthur! You’re bleeding out, your stomach is… fuck! Fuck. I can’t see it.
ARTHUR (begging): I’m bleeding –
JOHN (voice growing more desperate): I can’t help! (ARTHUR: Make it stop –) I’m – I’m sorry, Arthur. What are you –
(Arthur rummages through his bag.)
ARTHUR: The flute.
JOHN: The flute! The flute. (ARTHUR (Quieter): The flute, the flute.) Quickly! Blow on it before it –
(Another meaty squelch. All falls silent, punctuated only by a steady heartbeat. Whispers start to rise from the background. Some unintelligible, others saying short fragments, all overlapping: ‘You must see him first’, ‘Kill it, kill it, kill it,’ ‘You need to kill it once and for all’ Eventually, all whispers dissipate as Arthur gasps to life.)
JOHN: Arthur! I cut it free! I cut it from the back of your head! I cut it off!
(Faroe’s Song plays as the creature belches.)
ARTHUR: I felt - it felt –
JOHN (shouting): Use the flute, Arthur! Quickly! Blow! I cut it free. (Arthur blows the flute. The monster starts to fade into the distance, amidst Arthur’s shaky breathing.) It’s gone. Arthur, it’s left. Oh, Arthur, you’re… Jesus Christ.
(A different, melancholy piano melody begins to play.)
ARTHUR (faintly): I’m bleeding… bleeding out.
JOHN: There’s a huge gash in your stomach, Arthur, we need to stop it.
ARTHUR: I feel cold. I feel cold.
JOHN (in misery): No.
ARTHUR (almost lighthearted): We’ve had worse.
JOHN (near tears): No, no, no.
ARTHUR: Maybe not.
JOHN (pleading, his voice quiet and shaking): No. Arthur. No.
ARTHUR: I think this … I think this may be it –
JOHN (suddenly shouting): Arthur! Arthur, no!
ARTHUR: Goodbye, my friend. (His breaths grow shaky)
JOHN (still shouting): Arthur, no! (Quieter.) Arthur, no. (A whisper.) No.
(The faint sound of dripping.)
(END Episode 27.)