A fresh beginning, a moment of quiet, a deadly game...
Malevolent follows Arkham Investigator Arthur Lester as he unravels the mysterious circumstances that have befallen him.
Part 29, marks the beginning of Season 4 and finds Arthur on a train bound for New York City. Though the ride begins comfortably, soon he realizes that someone or something may be stalking him...
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PART TWENTY-NINE - THE TRAIN
Transcript made and edited by Jack
CWs: Sneezing noises, train crashes, chase sequences, gun violence, assault/strangling/murder attempt, metal screeching
(The sound of bubbling water. A melancholic piano melody starts.)
YELLOW (distant, distorted): You’re clever. How foolish to think that I tried to play you. Humans put so much stock in hope. You don’t know what strength is. You have no comparison to what true power is. This is your fault. All of this. I hope you know that. I lied.
(A softly piercing, high-pitched note, and Arthur rises from water with a content gasp.)
ARTHUR: Ah. (He groans happily. Water drips.) That’s nice.
JOHN (annoyed): It’s just water.
(A whimsical piano melody begins to play.)
ARTHUR: Do you know how long it’s been since I got to wash my face?
JOHN: You’ve just had a shave. And a haircut. Back in Albany.
ARTHUR (breathless): I mean, a proper wash. Jesus, John.
JOHN: This isn’t a proper wash. The basin is –
ARTHUR: Oh, shut up.
JOHN: I will when you hear me out. For once, I’m trying to –
ARTHUR (flabbergasted): For once? You’ve been yammering on about this stupid thing since Poughkeepsie.
JOHN (indignant): Stupid!? That is easy for you to say.
ARTHUR: It is stupid. (The water gurgles down the drain.) Where’s the – the t –
JOHN: Where’s the what?
ARTHUR: Where’s the fucking towel, John?
JOHN (mocking): What? You can’t feel it out on your own?
ARTHUR (sighing): You’re a real donkey sometimes, you know that.
JOHN: To the left of the bowl.
ARTHUR: Thank you. (He picks up the towel and pats it against his face, luxuriating.) Oh. (He sighs happily.) Still the face of someone not to fuck with?
JOHN: You look like you’re eighty pounds sopping wet. (Arthur huffs.) And the new suit helps. But with the scar on your neck… yes, I’d say you still have an intimidating stance. (A pause.) I do like the mustache.
ARTHUR: It’s all the rage. Or so said our friend the barber.
(A knock on the door.)
JOHN: Now are you ready to hear me out?
ARTHUR (not this again): Oh, for fuck’s sake.
STRANGER (muffled, through a door): What?
JOHN: Don’t brush me off again, Arthur!
ARTHUR (calling out): Just a minute!
JOHN: I’m sick and tired of this attitude you’ve had!
(Arthur opens the door.)
ARTHUR (apologetic): Sorry, I appreciate your patience.
JOHN: I have been!
ARTHUR (quieter): Not you.
JOHN (huffing): You brushed me off from the beginning without giving anything I said a second thought.
ARTHUR (politely): Excuse me!
JOHN: And I have put up with you –
ARTHUR: Excuse me.
JOHN: Through all of this, and in all that time (ARTHUR (muttering, apologetic): Sorry!), and everything we’ve been through – (ARTHUR (moving through): Y-Yeah…) I haven’t asked for much. (Arthur grunts.) Jesus, Arthur, for all – (ARTHUR: Pardon?) we’ve done, for all we’ve accomplished, to treat me like a fucking passenger!
ARTHUR: O-Oh, sorry, is the one next to you taken?
JOHN: You have no idea how degrading it feels – (ARTHUR: Thank you. (Arthur sits down.)) To be…
ARTHUR (quieter): You saw a god-damn advertisement for a film.
JOHN (fuming): Yes, Arthur! And you brushed off seeing it like it was nothing.
ARTHUR: It’s just moving pictures, John. Look, I like the cinema as much as the next person –
JOHN: Easy for you to say, you’ve seen plenty of films.
ARTHUR: I’ve seen a few, yes, but –
JOHN: The truth is you don’t want to endure it for me. You’re being selfish.
ARTHUR (taken aback): Selfish!?
JOHN: Yes, because you know you’ll just be sitting there in the dark the whole time. While I get to enjoy myself.
ARTHUR: That’s not the reason.
JOHN: Isn’t it?
(A pointed pause. Only the squeaks of the moving train are audible.)
ARTHUR: It’s not the only reason.
JOHN: And yet you eat. Savagely, I might add. Which brings me no joy whatsoever.
ARTHUR (bickering): I eat to live, you twit.
JOHN (insolent): Oh, and that brings you no joy?
ARTHUR: Oh, for fuck’s sake, listen to me. (More intently.) We are wanted men, still, John. Or rather, I’m a wanted man. (In a whisper.) Have you forgotten what we talked about?
JOHN: And that prevents us from attending the movies why!?
ARTHUR (fed up, whispering): I don’t know! Sure! Whatever! Fine! If we have the time, we’ll see a movie in the city. Okay? Is that what you want?
(A long pause.)
JOHN (calmly): Yes.
ARTHUR: Then fine! You’ve gotten your wish, you wackjob.
JOHN: Thank you.
ARTHUR (huff): Look, we have bigger fish to fry. Are we alone? Can I talk openly?
JOHN: What do you mean?
ARTHUR: Well, can we chat without me looking… odd?
JOHN: You’re sitting next to a woman.
ARTHUR (shocked): What? Well, how close?
JOHN: She’s been looking at you the entire time. She looks quite offended.
ARTHUR: Oh, for fuck’s sake. (A woman gasps in indignation. Arthur speaks directly to her.) Sorry.
JOHN: Now she looks more offended. (Fabric rustles next to Arthur.)
ARTHUR: Fu – moron. Excuse me.
JOHN: The joining car looks quieter. It’s tough to see because it’s so dark outside.
ARTHUR: This way?
ARTHUR: It’s nearly dinnertime, we should make our way to the dining cart soon.
JOHN (sarcastic): Of course.
ARTHUR: Oh, give me a break.
(Arthur slides open the door. A bell rings insistently. There is briefly the sound of a train running on a track, before Arthur steps into the other car. He sighs.)
JOHN: Yes, this car is quieter. Less people, for sure.
ARTHUR: Anyway, we have bigger fish to fry. Larson, and his whole… operation. Is there a seat here?
(Arthur takes a seat and sits down with a sigh of relief.)
JOHN: Yes, Matthew wasn’t able to tell us much.
ARTHUR: No. He said that the Order of the Fallen Star was in New York and that it hides in plain sight.
JOHN: He also said ‘most don’t even know what it is, let alone where’.
(A melancholic piano piece begins to play.)
ARTHUR: Yeah, well. You were insistent on asking him more, but…
JOHN: Was I?
ARTHUR: Yes, you wanted to know more about New York. You were insistent, remember?
JOHN (doubtful): I suppose… maybe I felt responsible for –
ARTHUR: Regardless. Most not knowing where it is doesn’t bode well. But the fact that it hides in the plain sight speaks to it being something rather obvious, in a way. Just that people don’t look hard enough, I suppose.
JOHN: So what are your thoughts?
ARTHUR: Well, he compared it to the Freemasons.
JOHN: The Freemasons?
ARTHUR: Yes, which got me thinking. They’re like a secret society, in a way. A fellowship. A group of typically powerful people in a society. It’s all very silly.
JOHN: But a secret society nonetheless?
ARTHUR: Yes. You need to know a member, to be considered for membership. Plus there are rituals and ceremonies…
JOHN: Sounds familiar.
ARTHUR: Yes. Well, I’m thinking, the best way to go about finding our Order of the Fallen Star may be to go through the Freemasons. At the very least, you know, if one society doesn’t know about the other… there could be an overlap in membership.
JOHN: That makes sense. But how do you intend on finding, let alone gaining membership to a secret society?
ARTHUR: Well. I know a member of the Freemasons.
ARTHUR: Yes, well. Well, knew. Faroe’s mother. Er, Bella. Well, her father was a Freemason.
JOHN (in amazement): Your father-in-law?
ARTHUR: In a way. I suppose. Though not technically. Daniel.
JOHN: And he lives…?
ARTHUR: In the city. Last I heard.
ARTHUR: Yes, but. (A door opens.) Well, I have thoughts on that. We don’t necessarily need to confront him, really. To ask for…
JOHN: Arthur, there’s a man standing next to you.
(Suspenseful music starts to rise.)
JOHN (suspiciously): He’s looking at you, as if… waiting.
ARTHUR: Yes, can I help you?
JOHN: He has his hand out expectantly.
ARTHUR: Oh, my apologies! M-My ticket is, uh. (Arthur rummages through his pockets.) Is, uh… here!
(A long pause.)
ARTHUR: Will Henley.
JOHN: He’s passed.
ARTHUR (quieter): We’ll need to be mindful. After all, who knows what’s happened back in Arkham. Speaking of, you know, when we get to the city, we’ll need a place to stay. (The door opens again. Someone steps in, amidst rising suspenseful music.) A hotel or the like. And if we want –
JOHN: Another man has entered.
ARTHUR: Right. If we want to get a hotel, it may be wise to…
(The rustling of clothes.)
JOHN: Arthur, this… ‘gentleman’ has sat right next to us. (Suspenseful music rises.) There are plenty of other vacant seats. Furthermore, he saw you muttering to yourself. (Very quietly, the man mutters unintelligibly to himself. Arthur clears his throat.) He’s not reacting. Should we move? He seems… nervous. Jittery, almost. He’s clenching his jaw and unclenching it. Arthur, I have a bad feeling about him. (Arthur sniffs and fidgets.) Mind you – moving can draw attention. Perhaps it’s best to just stay seated. (Arthur clears his throat again.) It’s your call.
(The stranger continues to mutter to himself unintelligibly. Arthur pointedly clears his throat. Occasionally, the train carriage squeaks.)
JOHN: The man is… older. (STRANGER (muttering): Quiet!) He has patchy black hair with wisps of gray. (STRANGER (muttering): Trying to…) He’s balding on top. He’s got dark circles around his eyes, which somewhat give the impression that he doesn’t sleep, or has trouble. (STRANGER (muttering): Wait!) His suit is nice, but a little wrinkled, as if he slept in it. Overall, he seems well put together, if not a bit… distracted.
JOHN: The sun is setting as the snow has picked up quite a bit. In fact, it’s… it’s quite lovely outside.
JOHN: The trees that pass the windows are… covered in freshly fallen snow. (A gentle, slow piano melody begins to play. The man still mutters.) Dusted with it, almost. The thick flakes that fall make it difficult to see them in the fading light. I’m glad to be inside, Arthur. Away from Addison.
(The stranger sneezes loudly. A whimsical string tune begins to play.)
ARTHUR (awkwardly): Uh. Bless you.
(The stranger begins to rustle through his clothing.)
JOHN: The man isn’t making eye contact. His small, round glasses are now on his lap, as he’s… looking through his pockets.
STRANGER (through a stuffy nose): I can’t seem to… (He sneezes again.)
ARTHUR (off-put): God.
JOHN: He sneezed in his hand, Arthur.
ARTHUR: Can I… would you like…?
STRANGER: Do you have a handkerchief?
JOHN (indignant): Not our handkerchief, Arthur! (The rustling of clothing.)
STRANGER: Thank you, thank you.
JOHN: We just bought that!
(The stranger loudly blows his nose again. Something squishes as he hands the handkerchief back.)
STRANGER: Thank you.
ARTHUR: Keep it.
STRANGER: That’s awfully kind.
ARTHUR: Don’t mention it.
(John huffs in frustration as the train car rattles violently.)
STRANGER: Oh, god!
JOHN: The train is jostling quite a bit.
(The jostling continues.)
ARTHUR: Are you… okay?
STRANGER: No. No, no, no. Not at the moment, no. (He starts to mutter to himself again.)
JOHN: He’s gripping the seat firmly.
ARTHUR (awkward but well-meaning): That’s… my arm, sir.
STRANGER: Uh! Dreadfully sorry.
JOHN (in disgust): God.
(The jostling quiets to its usual squeaking.)
ARTHUR: There. I-It seems that the bumpy track has passed. (He titters to himself.)
STRANGER: I’m not mad, by the way, muttering to myself like this.
ARTHUR: I wasn’t, uh…
STRANGER: I just… I’m sorry, I-I took the seat next to you, I… I saw you doing the same and thought perhaps… that you were like me.
ARTHUR: Like you?
STRANGER: I’m afraid I’m… not much of a traveler, er, you see.
ARTHUR: Neither am I.
STRANGER: You too get… nervous on these things?
ARTHUR: Well, I…
(The stranger starts to cough.)
JOHN (puzzled): Nervous?
STRANGER: My usual companion didn’t get on with me in Poughkeepsie, so I thought… just finding a person to sit near would help.
ARTHUR: Right! Of course. Uh, no problem.
JOHN: He’s using us for comfort? (Scathing.) Jesus Christ.
STRANGER: You don’t mind terribly, do you?
ARTHUR (breathless): Of course not! (Normal tone.) I, uh. I welcome the companionship.
JOHN (whimsical): Too quiet in here? Really, Arthur.
ARTHUR: I just – I welcome the chat. My name is… Henley. Will Henley.
STRANGER: Ah! (They shake hands.) That’s a strong name. Percival Griffiths is mine. (ARTHUR: Yeah. (He chuckles.)) What are you heading to New York for, William?
ARTHUR: Well! Family. At the moment. I suppose.
PERCIVAL: Little early for the holidays, no? Unless you intend to stay a while. (He sneezes again.)
ARTHUR: Not the plan, no. Just… visiting. Yourself?
PERCIVAL: Oh, no, I-I live in the city, or just outside of.
ARTHUR: Oh, so you were in Poughkeepsie?
PERCIVAL: For work, yes. My work keeps me rather busy.
ARTHUR: And, uh… what is it you do?
PERCIVAL: Banking, mainly. But we’re expanding out this way.
ARTHUR: Expanding? So you must be someone of great note. The banking industry.
PERCIVAL: You can say that.
ARTHUR: I’m afraid I don’t know much of it.
JOHN (bored): Eugh.
PERCIVAL: A-and your work?
ARTHUR: I… I’m… I’m a n–newspaper reporter.
PERCIVAL: Oh! For which?
ARTHUR: I’m, I’m actually… no longer… I recently lost my job. But I am looking for work in the city. I was in Arkham previous, or just outside of it.
PERCIVAL: Arkham, up near Boston?
ARTHUR: Yes, yes!
PERCIVAL: I don’t know the area very much, I’m afraid to say.
ARTHUR: Yes, sadly, I… I know it too well.
(More violent jostling from the train. Percival makes a noise of alarm.)
JOHN: The train must be passing a particularly snowy part. (PERCIVAL (gasping): Oh, god! Sorry!) It’s bumping again.
PERCIVAL: Sorry, I can’t seem to… well.
ARTHUR: Yes, yes. Well, that’s… that’s my arm, again.
PERCIVAL: Oh, yes! Dreadfully sorry, again.
ARTHUR: Mr. Griffiths, how did your companion aid you in your travels?
PERCIVAL (breathing heavily): Truth be told, it’s all very silly, but… well, they would read to me.
JOHN: Read to him?
ARTHUR: Right! Well, I’m sorry to say I don’t have a book.
PERCIVAL: A-anything would do.
ARTHUR (confused): I–I don’t know if I can, I…
PERCIVAL: See, my mind, it wanders. It thinks of the rails and the snow and the jostling and the lines. (As Percival explains, suspenseful music starts to rise and the sounds of the train along the track becomes exaggerated.) Twisty and metal, the grinding of iron as the train cannot stop on the frozen icy rails, as it rounds the bend, the train becomes derailed and crashes down into a fiery inferno…! (The crash of dull metal.)
ARTHUR: Yes, yes, I–I see your point.
PERCIVAL (quietly): Yes. Yes. (The train jostles again, and Percival grunts.) Oh dear! Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
ARTHUR: Right. Well –
PERCIVAL (desperate): Please! William, if you could just, anything, some story, something… keep my mind off this terrible train.
ARTHUR (chuckling awkwardly): I don’t – !
PERCIVAL: I’d very much appreciate it.
JOHN: Tell him something so he’ll shut up.
PERCIVAL: Ple–please, anything.
ARTHUR: I, uh… I once read a short story, actually. A number of years ago, now. Um. About a man named… Mat Rullen. If I recall correctly. The story opened with him… trudging through the icy wilderness of Alaska, or some such place. (An echoing music starts to rise, like the inside of a cave.) He moves through the wilderness, the frozen wasteland of the far North, inching his way across the face of the universe. Felt himself completely at the mercy of these… colossal forces, among which he picked his way. (Eerie string music starts.) It was not that they were malicious. It was simply that they disregarded him.
(A sad piano music piece starts.)
He was, in their eyes, of no account at all. His, uh… his mother had died, his wife had died, men he loved had died… a-and this solitary man was working toward… something. And it’s revealed to be a cabin. One he shared with a friend, some years back, and, and when he arrives, despite assuming it would be empty… that old friend is there, already! This friend has the fire warm, and the cabin is the epitome of comfort. (Arthur chuckles.) And as Mat sees his salvation, he’s elated! And yet… his friend asks him why he arrived. And Mat tells him that he… had killed a man, back where he was, panning for gold or… wherever. And because of that, he – he needed to leave.
But Charlie tells him he can’t stay. That he is there with someone, a woman. A-and that he can’t stay. And Mat pleads with him, confused, unsure of what to do. And Charlie just… tells him no. He must leave.
(The train carriage door slides open.)
STRANGER (faint): Will Henley?
STRANGER (faint): Will Henley?
ARTHUR: When he –
PERCIVAL: Wh – isn’t that you?
STRANGER (faint): Will Henley?
PERCIVAL: Isn’t that you?
(Suspenseful string music starts to rise.)
STRANGER (faint): Message for Will Henley?
PERCIVAL: That pageboy there, he seems to have a telegram or note for you. He’s calling you.
STRANGER (faint): Message here for Will Henley.
JOHN: Arthur, I didn’t notice. (STRANGER (faint): Will Henley.) There’s a man standing at the far end of the cart, near a door. (STRANGER (faint): Will Henley.) He’s wearing a uniform and holding up a letter.
ARTHUR: Oh! So he does.
STRANGER (faint): Message here. Will Henley.
JOHN: He’s calling out ‘Will Henley’.
PERCIVAL: Well. (STRANGER (faint): Will Henley.) Are you going to get it?
ARTHUR: Yes. Yes, I suppose I should.
PERCIVAL (muttering): Right, right, right.
ARTHUR: Excuse me. (Arthur stands with a grunt.)
JOHN: This can’t be good.
(Percival clears his throat loudly. Arthur begins to make his way through the crowd.)
ARTHUR: Excuse me, thank you.
JOHN: I think we should ignore it.
ARTHUR (huffing, whispering): And what is our reasoning? We can’t justify ignoring a message from my assumed name. It would give obvious doubt.
JOHN: But taking the letter is –
ARTHUR (interrupting, whispering): Risky as well, I know. We’ve been backed into a corner. It’s a smart play. (He sighs.) Very smart. (Louder, to the pageboy.) Yes, I’m Will Henley! (Paper rustles.) Thank you. (A few coins jingle.) For your troubles.
ARTHUR: Thank you. (More coins jingle. A slow, melancholic piano melody starts.)
JOHN: It’s a plain white envelope with ‘Will Henley’ written in simple script on the front.
(The paper rustles.)
JOHN: It’s a single piece of folded paper.
ARTHUR: Anything written on it?
JOHN: Yes. Only two words.
ARTHUR: Okay. Well… what do they say?
(Suspenseful string music starts to rise.)
JOHN (emphatically): Arthur Lester. (The noises of the train grow momentarily louder.)
ARTHUR (quieter): Is anyone trying to watch us?
JOHN: Turn! (A long pause.) Percival.
ARTHUR: Suspiciously so?
ARTHUR: Anyone else?
JOHN: Not that I… wait.
JOHN: Through the door, in the next car towards the front of the train. (Ominous string music rises again.) There’s a man watching us.
ARTHUR: Is he?
JOHN (intimidated): Yes, Arthur.
ARTHUR: What does he look like?
JOHN: It’s the man from before. The one you showed your ticket to. He’s short with a thin, graying beard. His eyes are cold. (The woosh of the train.) Pale blue, almost gray. He has wisps of short salt-and-pepper hair peeking out from beneath a hat.
ARTHUR: You’re sure he’s watching us?
JOHN (ominously): He’s smiling at us.
ARTHUR: At us? You’re sure?
JOHN: Arthur. He’s lifted his hat to us in acknowledgement. The crown on his head is bald.
ARTHUR: W-wait, wait. Pinstripe?
JOHN (why are you asking): Yes?
ARTHUR: He’s not wearing a uniform?
ARTHUR (in grim realization): We showed our ticket to a random person.
JOHN: How was I supposed to know that they – ?
(Terror-filled string music starts.)
ARTHUR: Fuck. We need to move.
ARTHUR: The back of the train, now. (Arthur starts to move, panting in exertion. The whoosh of the train.) How did they find us?
ARTHUR: We need off this train.
JOHN (demanding): Who, Arthur? The police, Larson?
ARTHUR: Not the police. This is… this is bad. Is he following?
JOHN: I can’t tell. Turn around.
ARTHUR: Okay, but quickly. (Arthur breathes hard.)
JOHN: He’s no longer there. But he hasn’t passed into our car yet. (Alert.) The door!
(Arthur opens a door. Momentarily, the squeaking of the train on the tracks and the clanging of a bell is audible.)
ARTHUR: I used a pseudonym! How did he…?
JOHN: You do have some telltale scars, Arthur!
ARTHUR: Our hat hides my ear, my neck wound, it –
JOHN (interrupting): Keep moving!
(Arthur moves through and shuts the door.)
ARTHUR: He knew. No, no, he… he didn’t know, he… he had to verify.
ARTHUR: You don’t act on something unless you’re sure.
JOHN (more frustrated): Sure of what? Act on what?
ARTHUR: He, he asked our ticket when he approached.
JOHN: No, he didn’t.
ARTHUR: What do you mean?
JOHN: No, he didn’t ask for anything, other than your name.
ARTHUR: N-no, he – he held out his hand –
JOHN: And said… nothing.
(The woosh of the train.)
ARTHUR: You… you’re right. He didn’t ask for our ticket.
JOHN: What would that accomplish?
ARTHUR: Christ. Anything. You’re a beggar to some, offering a cigarette to others. In our case, confusing a ticket-taker. (With feeling.) Fuck. He said nothing and got something from us.
JOHN: So he was gathering information.
ARTHUR: If he’s looking for me, he probably did that to almost everyone on board. Everyone would offer something different. It prompts most people to interact. It’s innocuous enough to be forgotten. (He sighs.) Why did he suspect us, though?
JOHN: Will Henley. Have you used that name before?
ARTHUR: No, but… (He sighs.) It does belong to someone. (The woosh of the train.) You don’t think that…
JOHN (furious): You picked a fucking real person to pose as!?
ARTHUR (disconcerted): I…
JOHN: Jesus Christ, Arthur!
ARTHUR: Still, he couldn’t be certain. He would have to verify –
JOHN: Like the way he did. Like the way you reacted.
ARTHUR: Fuck! (He pauses, and continues quietly.) Why did he let us see… why would he let us?
JOHN: Why did you stop?
ARTHUR: Why did he let us see?
(A slow, thoughtful piano melody starts.)
JOHN: Why not?
ARTHUR: Well, what’s his goal? He doesn’t want to talk.
ARTHUR: No, no, he could’ve come up to us for that. (The woosh of the train.) Is he still following?
JOHN: I can’t see him. There are a number of people in this car.
ARTHUR: Okay. Wait, how many people?
JOHN (frustrated): I don’t know, Arthur, the car is full. Just keep moving. There are less people in the back of the train.
ARTHUR: Where’s the lavatory?
JOHN: Behind you, the left. (Angrier.) But if we’re being pursued –
(Arthur opens a door and walks in, shutting it behind him.)
JOHN (overlapping): We need to move, Arthur, what are you –
ARTHUR (to himself, overlapping): Why did he let us see, why did he… (Louder.) Why did he let us see him!?
JOHN (frustrated): We already had seen him!
ARTHUR: If he had wanted to talk, he would’ve come up, and he would have talked. He wanted us to… I… did he want to scare us?
(A quick-paced piano melody starts.)
ARTHUR: Because… what do you do when you’re scared?
JOHN: You run.
JOHN: Exactly what?
ARTHUR: He’s herding us, John. He’s trying to get us to the back of the train. It was my exact instinct, as well as yours, to move as far away as possible –
ARTHUR: So… why?
JOHN: The back of the train is… empty?
ARTHUR: Yes. Yes. I think… I think he may aim to do us harm.
JOHN: It wouldn’t be the first time. That’s quite a leap, though.
ARTHUR: We killed two of Larson’s family, or… blood at least. Released his prisoners, took his car, ditched it in Albany. I have no idea how he could’ve figured out that we were on this train, but obviously someone got on.
JOHN: Maybe he’s not sent by Larson.
ARTHUR: The odds of someone else are… slim, but… not impossible. (He sighs.) Regardless. The smart play is to treat this man as if he were meaning to kill us.
(The woosh of the train.)
JOHN: Okay. So. You think he wants us to head to the back of the train?
ARTHUR: I think he wants to get us away from people. He knew we wouldn’t simply come if asked, no matter the guise, but…
ARTHUR (sigh): But for whatever he thinks he knows about us… I intend to prove him wrong.
JOHN (jubilant): Yes, Arthur!
ARTHUR: If we stay in crowded places, he won’t be able to… ‘get’ us.
JOHN: You think? (The slow clicking of a clock starts.) What makes you think he just won’t hurt others as well?
ARTHUR: I… I… guess, I don’t – Well, I don’t know how brutal this man is. If he’s willing to risk others’ lives, then staying in this crowded car is… dangerous.
JOHN: You could head straight for him.
ARTHUR: Possible, but… then what? Again, that’s no different than staying here. If he’s willing to risk others’ lives…
JOHN: So what do you suggest?
ARTHUR: Well. Well, I think he wants us to head to the back of the train.
JOHN: And you want to do that?
ARTHUR (sighing, softer): If we can get him into the end car, and slip out the window… I may be able to loop around him, and decouple the car.
JOHN: You mean… trap him in the caboose?
ARTHUR: Yes. It’s riskier for us, but safer for others on board.
JOHN: I don’t know, Arthur. I feel like staying in the crowds, maybe even moving to the front of the train where it’s busier, is the smarter call. We can stay near that man, Percival. If he tried to maneuver us back here, doesn’t that say something about his inability to do something in front of others?
ARTHUR: But if we can leave him on the tracks! Then when we get to New York, we’ll be safer as well. Otherwise, he’ll just get off with us. Follow us into some back-alley, and… (Someone knocks on the door. Arthur calls out.) Just a minute!
ARTHUR: Well? I’m done hiding. (The door clicks open, to the woosh of the train and the slight rattling of the cars. He speaks a little louder.) Sorry.
JOHN (whispering): It’s not him. In case you were wondering.
ARTHUR (quietly): For only a moment.
JOHN: The back of the train is to the right.
ARTHUR: Okay. (He grunts and walks. Some passengers occasionally cough.)
JOHN: This is a risky move, even for us.
ARTHUR: I won’t risk others’ lives right now. And if he’s clever enough to weed us out in the way he has, he’s clever enough to have a plan, should we not play his little… game, here.
JOHN: I suppose so. (The woosh of the train.)
ARTHUR: The intelligent move, our only real move, is to let him think he has us.
JOHN: Has us?
ARTHUR: I want him to underestimate us as much as possible.
ARTHUR (ominously): Because those who have underestimated me have regretted it.
JOHN (cautious): Okay. So.
ARTHUR: So! We do what he wants. We head to the back of the train. If worst comes to worst, we… get off?
JOHN: Get off? The train? (Shocked.) Arthur, you’ll break both your legs!
ARTHUR: You said it was snowing. I’m willing to take my chances if things get dire.
JOHN: Fine. (Pointedly.) But decoupling the caboose is still our first option, right?
ARTHUR: Yes, if I’m correct, he’s following us now. Waiting for us to get into the final car.
(Brief, suspenseful string music plays.)
JOHN: I can’t see him.
ARTHUR: No, no. He wouldn’t want to be seen following. That would work against his intention. To make us feel safe.
JOHN: Perhaps you’re giving him too much credit, Arthur. Maybe this is just a –
ARTHUR (interrupting): No. I won’t make the mistake that I want him to.
JOHN: And you intend to slip out the window?
ARTHUR: Yes. Assuming he’s following us, when we reach the back of the train, he’ll ensure – if he hasn’t already – that it’s empty. At which point, if he intends to kill us, he’ll get us out back. A shot is less likely to be heard –
JOHN (interrupting): Clean-up is as easy as dumping us overboard.
ARTHUR: Yes. (He chuckles grimly.) You’re getting it, now.
JOHN: I’m… remembering why I enjoyed this.
(Faroe’s Lullaby starts to play.)
JOHN: Yes, well. There was a brief… moment, there. Before… well, the prospect of your occupation seemed quite… exciting.
ARTHUR: Well. You are my eyes. Best be training them to think like me. (The woosh of the train.) Anyway, yes. He’d dump us overboard. But… if we loop around, get to the junction point that connects the caboose and the second last car after he’s entered it… then?
JOHN: Then you think you can decouple it.
ARTHUR: I don’t know. It may be wise to stop briefly and examine it. But anyway, that’s the plan.
JOHN: The fledglings of one.
ARTHUR: We’ve succeeded with less.
(Arthur grunts in exertion as he opens the door. Outside, wind rushes by and a bell rings.)
JOHN (louder): If all you’ve said is correct, should we be… selling it, a bit?
ARTHUR (confused): Sell it?
ARTHUR (more confused): Act?
JOHN (frustrated): Jesus Christ, Arthur! Pretend! Make it clear that he’s rattled us!
ARTHUR: I don’t think… we wouldn’t make a scene?
JOHN: It’s an idea.
ARTHUR: Okay! Well. (He closes the adjoining door behind him and walks through. With dramatic anguish, breathing heavy.) Move out of the way!
(Passengers shift, cough, and grumble as Arthur pushes through.)
JOHN : Yes, like that!
ARTHUR (more anguished): Move out of the way!
JOHN: Okay, you’re… overselling it. (Arthur enters the next car, briefly passing through high wind.) You’re in the second-last car, now. Move towards the back and see if we can’t find a moment to study the connector.
ARTHUR: It’ll be between the cars.
JOHN: Yes, I assumed. Here. (A pause.) Wait. (Another pause.) Turn around. I wanna see if he’s following. (A longer pause, amidst suspenseful string music.) Nothing.
ARTHUR: He’s very good. Or I’m wrong. Either way.
(Arthur opens the door and grunts, stepping outside into high wind. A bell dings faintly.)
JOHN: Carefully, now!
ARTHUR: Well, guide me! This is very different than just walking forward!
JOHN: Steady! (Arthur pants.) There, by your left foot!
JOHN (louder): Take a half-step to the right. (Arthur grunts.) There! Yes, bend down! Let me see it! There’s a large pin here. I think if we pull it up…
ARTHUR: It will allow the train cars to separate.
(Suspenseful string music plays briefly.)
JOHN: It seems so!
ARTHUR: Well, should we try to lift it?
JOHN: Yes! (Arthur grunts in exertion. Metal shifts.) It’s coming, easily!
ARTHUR: So… we can do this.
(A melancholic piano piece briefly plays.)
ARTHUR: Alright! Well, then. No time to waste. (Arthur grunts and tries the door. The metal rattles.)
JOHN: Open the door.
ARTHUR (exerting himself): It’s stuck.
JOHN: Just pull hard.
(Arthur manages to pull the door open and step into the next car.)
JOHN: It’s a car used for the crew, I think.
(A slow, thoughtful piano melody starts.)
ARTHUR (out of breath): Typically, yes.
JOHN: It’s a small room. A wood stove sits on the right, a bed to the left, a large black coat hangs above the bed and there’s a small writing desk at the far end. (The woosh of the train.) The windows are shut. Heavy wooden window dressings block all light. It’s dark in here.
ARTHUR: Okay. Well.
JOHN: There’s a single door on the other side of this room.
ARTHUR (grunting in acknowledgement): Well. Let’s get this window open, quickly.
JOHN: You think he’s right behind us?
ARTHUR: How do these, uh…?
JOHN: It’s a wooden shutter.
ARTHUR: Ah. (Arthur takes a step and unlatches the window, to the sound of rushing wind.) He must be right behind us. Odd that we didn’t see him, even a little bit.
JOHN: Thankfully there’s no other way back here.
ARTHUR (thoughtful): No. Well.
JOHN: Well, what?
ARTHUR: Well, there’s always the top of the cars, but.
JOHN: But that would be mad.
ARTHUR (chuckling): Yes. But, also.
JOHN (disbelieving): Also? What?
ARTHUR: It’s the smartest.
JOHN: What is?
ARTHUR (quietly): This is a trap.
JOHN: What? (Someone rushes through the car, panting heavily. Arthur grunts in exertion. Thrill music starts to play.) Jesus Christ, Arthur! There’s a man behind us! You ducked out of the way!? How did you – ?
COLLINS: Well? That was a fine maneuver. (Arthur swallows.) You’re the first to move that quickly.
ARTHUR (furious): What the fuck do you want?
JOHN (intimidated): Arthur! He’s holding a wire!
COLLINS (friendly): Isn’t it obvious?
JOHN: It’s the man. He’s holding a piano wire!
ARTHUR: Larson? Listen to me! Whatever Larson is paying you, whatever he’s told you I did –
COLLINS: Why aren’t you looking at me?
(Suspenseful string music starts to play.)
JOHN: Arthur, back up!
ARTHUR: Talk to me, god damn it! Look, we can…
JOHN: He’s in the car! There’s still a chance you could decouple it!
ARTHUR: Talk to me! Whatever he paid you to…
COLLINS: Can you see me?
ARTHUR (confused): What?
JOHN: The door is right behind us! Arthur, he’s coming closer! Move!
(The wind blows faintly.)
ARTHUR: Would you – just –
JOHN: Move! Behind you, the door! (Arthur walks along metal and tries the door.)
ARTHUR (to the door): Come on!
JOHN: Arthur! The door is jammed!
(The train jostles.)
COLLINS: No, you don’t!
(Collins starts to choke Arthur. Arthur gurgles as he struggles. Collins pants in exertion.)
JOHN: Arthur! Arthur, his hands are around your neck!
ARTHUR (gurgling): Fuck you! Fuck you! (He punches Collins.)
JOHN: Yes, Arthur!
COLLINS (pleased): Well – !
JOHN: The door! Quickly! Open it! (Arthur walks and pulls open the door. Outside, the steam whistle and the wind blow. Arthur is shoved down. He grunts in pain. The train bell rings.)
JOHN: Arthur! He has you against the rail! Be careful.
ARTHUR: Fuck you!
(Arthur continues to struggle against Collins.)
JOHN: Arthur, the rail! Hold on! You’re almost over the side! (The sound of a punch.) His face, Arthur!
(The metal railing starts to creak dangerously.)
JOHN: The rail is bending! Hold on! (The brakes squeal on the tracks. Arthur struggles and makes noises of fear.) Arthur, the tracks! Your head is inches from the ground!
COLLINS: Lay… your… head… down!
JOHN: Arthur! Don’t … let … him …! No! (The music abruptly stops. Collins laughs as Arthur starts to catch his breath.) He’s off. Gathering his breath. Arthur, you tore his cheek.
COLLINS: You got a few good ones in there, I’ll give you that.
ARTHUR (hoarse): Why did you… why did you… get off?
JOHN: He’s pacing. His nose is bleeding.
ARTHUR: You had me!
COLLINS (non-committal): Ah. (The metal occasionally squeaks as he walks.)
COLLINS: I was told to make this messy.
ARTHUR: The tracks aren’t messy enough?
JOHN: He’s still pacing. Keep him talking.
COLLINS: There’s a lot of blood in the head. Can’t walk off the train having you all over me, can I?
ARTHUR: You’re not walking off this train at all.
COLLINS (laughing): Well, look at you, building castles in the air. You’ve spunk. Have you forgot where you are?
ARTHUR: Not for a moment.
COLLINS: Lad. (Melancholy music starts to play. Arthur spits.) You’re lying on your back, snow stinging your cheeks, bleeding from the lip, and you’ve still got the gumption of a man holding the cards.
JOHN: He nearly pushed you off the train.
ARTHUR: I know I am. And you’re bleeding too.
COLLINS: So’s I am.
(The woosh of the train.)
ARTHUR: Who are you?
COLLINS: Well, now. You’re halfway to being wise. The Butcher, some call me.
ARTHUR: Is that a family name? (Arthur spits.)
COLLINS: Spitting blood! I see why you picked the name. You really don’t give up, do you? Fortunately, I ain’t your dancing partner. Now, time to get up. (The sound of clothing rustling.)
JOHN: Arthur. He’s pulled out a gun.
ARTHUR: So you can’t kill me here, then.
COLLINS: Come on, lad. Don’t fight, now. I’m on the clock.
JOHN: Arthur. If we roll backwards, there’s a slim chance we would survive the fall –
COLLINS (interrupting): Come on.
JOHN: He’s moving closer, Arthur. Don’t get –
(Arthur rises to his feet with a grunt of pain.)
COLLINS: That’s a good lad.
JOHN (outraged): No! Arthur, you – (In surprise.) The pin. You removed the – don’t let him see it.
COLLINS: You first.
(Arthur is shoved.)
JOHN: Keep him looking at you.
COLLINS: Turn around.
ARTHUR: If I’m going to die, I want you to look at me.
COLLINS: Of course I’m going to look at you, lad. (The sound of metal clicking.) That’s the best part. Question is… whether you can see me.
JOHN: Arthur. The train is moving ahead. The gap is starting to grow.
ARTHUR: I see you.
COLLINS: Do you? What am I?
ARTHUR: A killer.
COLLINS (chuckling): I’m a whisper, lad. (Melancholy music starts to play.) An old scratch. Death mask. You have no idea how many I’ve done, how many more I will…
ARTHUR: You sound like you have a debt.
COLLINS: Call it a gift.
ARTHUR: Were you paid well for this gift?
JOHN: Arthur, we’re lagging behind on the rails. There’s maybe a two foot gap. Now –
COLLINS: Pay? It’s not about the pay, lad.
ARTHUR: No? Then what is this about?
COLLINS: Memento mori.
(Suspenseful string music starts to rise.)
ARTHUR: Memento mori?
JOHN: Arthur! The gap is widening!
ARTHUR: You think just because we all die, you can enjoy taking others’ lives. You – ?
COLLINS (lighthearted): An educated man, I see!
ARTHUR (angry): Fuck you! Fuck you and your justifications for murder. You…
COLLINS: You’re fire, lad, I can see it.
ARTHUR: You have no idea.
COLLINS: Yet you don’t seem to see me. What’s wrong with your eyes, lad? (The woosh of the train.) Can you see me?
ARTHUR: I don’t need to see you to kill you.
COLLINS: That’s wrath. It’s a sin, boy.
JOHN: Arthur, you can’t wait too much longer –
ARTHUR: No more a sin than killing innocent –
COLLINS: Innocent? (He laughs.) Now you tell me honestly, and answer with your whole heart. Are you innocent?
(Faroe’s Lullaby starts to play.)
COLLINS: Are you innocent? It’s a simple question, lad. Are you?
ARTHUR (hesitant): I…
COLLINS: Truth, now. (Echoing wailing in the background.) Ah, see. You’re not far off from me.
ARTHUR: I’m nothing like you.
COLLINS: I think even you know that’s not true.
JOHN (angry): Arthur!
COLLINS: By the way, it’s been nice, lad. You don’t want to turn around, fair enough. The nagging part of me says you can’t see this coming, anyway.
ARTHUR: For someone so observant, you’ve missed a big piece, here.
COLLINS: What’s that?
(Something metal clangs on the ground.)
ARTHUR: I decoupled the cars.
JOHN (eager): Now, Arthur! He’s looking at the window!
(Thrilling, quick-paced music starts to play. Arthur shoves Collins, grunting in exertion. The train squeals.)
JOHN: Yes! You knocked him over, now – jump!
(Arthur takes a running leap as all other sounds quiet. Eventually, he lands, breathing rapidly.)
JOHN: Arthur, Jesus Christ, you fucking made it! Yeah!
(Arthur chuckles, almost hysterically.)
ARTHUR (high-pitched): Jesus fucking Christ. (His chuckles taper off.) He isn’t shooting.
JOHN (in amazement): No. He’s… smiling.
JOHN: Arthur, he’s lifting his hat, again. Tipping it to you.
ARTHUR: Jesus. (A pause. Slowly, with some foreboding.) Well. He knows where we’re going. He knows what we look like. And he knows my name.
ARTHUR: New York is bound to be a barrel of laughs.