A new city, a clever foe, a place to stay...
Malevolent follows Arkham Investigator Arthur Lester as he unravels the mysterious circumstances that have befallen him.
In the 30th Part of our story Arthur and the entity within find themselves in New York City. Aware that the Butcher isn't far behind, the two must decide where to stay and how to elude him in a way that seems safest. A problem begins to surface however after becoming the newest tenant at a strange and unusual place...
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PART THIRTY - THE TENANT
Original transcript by Jack! Reviewed by Tony.
CWs: metal screeching, near vehicle collision, mention of past relative/child death, rot/decay, monster noises
(The sounds of a train, and the squeal of its breaks as it pulls into the station. Arthur grunts in exertion and exits the train, going into a murmuring crowd.)
JOHN: It’s crowded.
(A melancholy piano tune begins to play. Arthur walks.)
ARTHUR: We might as well get used to that. New York is probably the most populated city in the world.
JOHN: Have you been here before?
ARTHUR (thoughtful): Ah, a few times. Is anybody watching us?
JOHN: Do you think the Butcher has an accomplice?
ARTHUR: Look, at this point, we know nothing, other than the fact that we have a target on our backs. And a ticking clock. Just keep a keen eye.
JOHN: The stairs are to your right.
ARTHUR: Alright. (He starts to climb the stairs. The crowd echoes slightly.)
JOHN (in amazement): Well.
JOHN: Arkham was a city, but…
ARTHUR (fond sigh): Yes. It’s… quite the feat.
JOHN: I know I’ve seen unfathomable things. Places that humankind can barely dream of, but… I’m still awestruck when we enter places like this. It’s oddly familiar.
JOHN: I don’t know. And furthermore, I don’t remember any of the places that I know, as the King, I would have visited.
ARTHUR: But you still remember the Dark World.
ARTHUR: Why? Why that and nothing else? Why did it linger?
JOHN: I don’t know, Arthur. There are many questions I still have. Many things I’m still hoping to answer.
ARTHUR: You and me both. Addison was…
ARTHUR: To say the least. But it also felt like a dream. A haze of unreal horrors that… that followed us through the trees and hungered for more blood with every decision we made.
JOHN: It sounds more like a nightmare.
ARTHUR: Yes. Anyway, it felt like something else entirely and now… well, now I feel it important to remember what brought us here.
JOHN: Agreed. The stairs to the street are a little bit ahead of you. (They walk up the stairs. Arthur pushes through a door, to quieter pedestrian babble. A car putters by.) Wow.
ARTHUR (sighing): Yes.
JOHN: That is a very tall building.
ARTHUR: Yes, the, uh. (Uncertain.) President…
JOHN: It says “The Lincoln Building.”
ARTHUR: Right. Yes, it’s for offices and such, I think. It was still being built, last time I was here. I envy you, getting to see it.
JOHN: Well. Which way?
ARTHUR: Well, uh. If you’ve exited towards this building, then… hmm.
JOHN: It says we’re on E 42nd Street.
ARTHUR: East, yes. (Uncertain.) Ah…
ARTHUR: Let’s head left, I think.
JOHN: Why? What’s our plan?
ARTHUR: I don’t… quite know, but I believe Tudor City is close by. And there’ll be a hotel there, at least. With a reasonable price, I’m sure.
ARTHUR (grunting): Anyway. King in Yellow.
ARTHUR: I don’t get the impression that he’s interested in seeking us out anymore.
JOHN: Why is that?
ARTHUR: Well, he had you back! I-I believe you were true to your word, even if you don’t remember it, that you would make things difficult for him. (A car putters by, and the sound of a horn.) I think you are… your own, now, John.
JOHN: My… own?
ARTHUR: I don’t think you’re a piece of him, anymore. Nor a piece of me, truly. You’ve come so far. Changed so much. (He chuckles.) Think of what you’ve done. Think of how you’ve pulled me back from the edge, at the estate. You brought me back. That was… unmotivated by anything else, other than… love.
JOHN: You’re my friend, Arthur. You showed me the value of… carrying the fire. I couldn’t watch you lose your light.
ARTHUR (quoting): “No matter how vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” You reminded me of that.
JOHN: Of your own words.
ARTHUR: Regardless, I don’t think the King wants that back. And you don’t remember what happened after?
ARTHUR: Yeah. But, you and I were reunited. After a brief stint with Yellow.
JOHN: What do you think Kayne did to him?
ARTHUR (puzzled): Assuming it was Kayne…
JOHN: Yes, well, it… it makes sense, no?
ARTHUR: I suppose... Though anything Kayne would do without motivational reason is extremely concerning.
JOHN: You made no deal.
ARTHUR: I made no deal.
ARTHUR: Yes, anyway. That’s a great point, because if Kayne put Yellow back in his… more-or-less corporeal form as the King in Yellow, then everything I just said is moot. (They pass by a close street conversation.) I think he would be gunning for us, more than ever.
ARTHUR: And what of Anna Stanczyk?
JOHN: Yes, Anna.
ARTHUR: She was one of the two survivors that came from that house in Arkham.
JOHN: The one that held my book.
ARTHUR: We know that the King took advantage of that moment in time, in Sarah’s letter. That cult –
JOHN: Run by Antoine.
ARTHUR: Yes. We know that problem… sorted itself out. But whatever gateway they opened that night ten years ago, let the King try and enter our world. That’s what splintered you and he. What trapped part of you in the book I opened. The one that… Emily died for.
JOHN: Yes, I told you, Arthur, during our time in the prison pits, that I –
ARTHUR (interrupting): Yes, yes, I know. Look, we both made mistakes. The important thing is moving forward. Uh, speaking of?
JOHN: We’re just passing 3rd Avenue.
ARTHUR: Okay. Just keep an eye out for a hotel.
JOHN: Sure. (They continue to walk. A dog barks, a car putters by.)
ARTHUR: Our path towards Sarah and Anna were to find a reason for this book, an answer to separating us.
JOHN: Correct. But at the moment, I don’t think that’s our priority.
ARTHUR: No, but. We could be doing something about it.
JOHN: How so?
ARTHUR: The vanguard.
(Faroe’s Song starts to play.)
JOHN (taken aback): The vanguard? Arthur!
ARTHUR: The tooth! We still have it.
JOHN: Arthur, I told you. This is possessed by a creature from the Dark World; it is a conduit. It has one foot in each plane.
ARTHUR: Yes. Yes, I remember, but –
JOHN (interrupting): It’s exactly the thing that someone like Larson would covet. If he knew we had it… it will corrupt you, Arthur.
ARTHUR (flippant): More than I already have been? Look, the vanguard was the one who told us about the connection between Anna Stanczyk and this whole… web of questions.
ARTHUR: Remember? Our first foray out of Arkham, we came across a car by the side of the road. We followed it to find a-a woman in the woods, holding the baby.
JOHN: A baby she gave to us.
ARTHUR: Yes! And then the mansion, the wraith.
JOHN: “God bless this baby Stanczyk.”
ARTHUR: Yes, yes, it wasn’t actually her baby, we said that to trick it, but… the name of those who lived in that mansion, including the wraith…?
JOHN: Were the same. But what does that mean, what does it matter?
ARTHUR (confused): What does it matter?
JOHN: We know how I got trapped in the book. (A car putters by.) We know why. It boils down to bad luck and timing on the King’s part. We know that Emily and Amanda died and that Anna escaped. She’s free of this. She doesn’t need this anymore. Don’t you remember?
ARTHUR: Yes, yes, I remember, but –
JOHN (interrupting): Seeking her could kill her.
ARTHUR: Look. Two things have come up since then. The first being… the symbol that was drawn in ash on the baby. You said it was for the Order of the Fallen Star?
ARTHUR: We have no idea what that means, if anything. And, we haven’t thought about this since… Kayne.
JOHN: What does he change?
ARTHUR: Everything! Remember what he asked me? Why am I special?
JOHN: You think Anna would know?
ARTHUR: I think she would give us a piece of the puzzle. A piece that we’ve been missing since the beginning.
JOHN: The Hotel Tudor is across the street.
ARTHUR (quickly): Okay, just… wait for a second. Hear me out.
JOHN (sighing, deep inhale): So you want to ask the seer, the vanguard, where Anna is? Didn’t you already think about heading back to Arkham, back to the mansion to search for clues?
ARTHUR: Yes, but who knows. Imagine heading back there, only to be told that Anna is in New York? It’d be such a waste!
JOHN (disapproving): Arthur.
ARTHUR (conciliatory): Look. Look. Look. I hear your hesitancy. I get it. But I’m not alone. You’re – I’m not Larson. I’m not one man using this thing. It’s two of us. Two times the restraint. Two times the anger at times, yes. But two times the ability to conquer anything. (Faroe’s Song starts to play.) The vanguard is such a tool and we need to use it, and – (Whimsical.) Who knows, maybe that’s what makes me special!
JOHN: Of all the things to ask it, though!
ARTHUR: Y-Yes, look, it takes time to answer, though, remember? I don’t want to ask it about where the Butcher is. We may be dead before we get an answer back.
JOHN: You’re not wrong. Having a passive question… one that can be answered at a later date may be valuable. And if Kayne’s role is bigger in this picture, then I suppose –
ARTHUR (interrupting): W-W-Wait. Hold – wait.
ARTHUR: Well, that’s an interesting thought, too. Now –
JOHN (interrupting): What is?
ARTHUR: Look, I want to find Anna. Find out more about her piece in this. But… but finding out what Kayne is?
JOHN (urgent): No, Arthur! But not one to be used against more powerful forces.
ARTHUR: I mean to say, what if we asked… what Kayne is? It can say something unknown, or-or something that would –
JOHN: I’m telling you this is a bad idea. It won’t help, and it won’t bring anything but problems for us. (Arthur sighs.) I’m agreeing to asking about Anna.
ARTHUR (giving up): Okay. Okay. (He rifles through the bag.)
JOHN: Well, there it is. Ask your question.
(The vanguard makes ghostly noises.)
VANGUARD (deep, distorted): Master. (Suspenseful music rises.)
JOHN: Is it speaking?
ARTHUR (whispering): Yes, I can hear it. Where is Anna Stanczyk?
(Brief ghostly noises.)
ARTHUR: It’s… receded, again. (He rifles with his bag.) To search the Dark World for answers, I suppose. I hope it was the right question.
JOHN (intensely): Arthur, Kayne is not something to be trifled with. Leave whatever it is alone.
ARTHUR: As much as possible, I suppose. (Melancholy piano piece begins to play.) But you’re right. Okay. Now that that’s done… or rather, while the conduit ruminates, I suppose it’s time to find a place to stay for the night, and while we’re here…
JOHN: It does seem as thought the sun is setting.
ARTHUR: Good enough for me.
(A car drives by and honks aggressively at Arthur. Suspenseful music rises.)
JOHN (abruptly): Arthur!
ARTHUR (gasping): Jesus! (He catches his breath.)
ARTHUR (breathless): Right, well, it’s… it’s been a while since we’ve had to worry about that.
JOHN: Okay! Now you can cross. (Arthur starts to walk, grunting occasionally.) Straight now. The Hotel Tudor is a few doors down to your right. Here. (Arthur pushes through a door.) We’re in the lobby of a large hotel, Arthur.
(A slow-placed piano melody begins to play. Arthur’s voice echoes slightly in the room.)
JOHN: There’s a man at the counter to your right, about thirty paces inward. It’s quiet in here, but comfortable. There are seats by the window, a bank of elevators, two large staircases, and a hallway that seems to lead out of the lobby.
STRANGER: Welcome to the Hotel Tudor. Are you checking in today?
JOHN: He’s gesturing to the large, open ledger in front of him.
ARTHUR: Right. Right.
JOHN: What is it?
ARTHUR: Yes, ah. (A long pause.) You know, I think, I’ve-I’ve been traveling – (Long suffering.) All day, and I’m wondering… if there may be a… b-bar. Or a restaurant.
JOHN: He’s pointing down the hall to the left.
ARTHUR: Thank you. I won’t be long, thank you. (He starts to walk, his footsteps echoing.)
JOHN: Arthur, what is it?
ARTHUR (whispering): The Butcher, John.
JOHN: Yes, but… why? How on Earth would he find us here?
ARTHUR (whispering): It’s the first place he’d look. Hell, it’s the first hotel from Grand Central.
JOHN: Still, we would use a fake name.
ARTHUR: But the man just saw us. No different from the train. The Butcher could ask, in a very persuasive way.
JOHN: So you’re heading to the bar.
ARTHUR: For a moment, I just need to think. We need a place to stay.
JOHN: Why not head to your father’s house?
ARTHUR (intent): He’s not my father. (Quieter.) No, I-I-I… not yet.
JOHN (frustrated): Well, what the fuck, Arthur? What do you want to do, then?
ARTHUR (frustrated): I don’t know! I don’t know. Let’s just… take a moment and think.
(Arthur pushes through a door and lets it shut behind him. He sighs. The sound of quiet conversations, all underneath a piano being played.)
JOHN: We’re in the bar at the Hotel Tudor. It’s a small window-filled room. The bar is to the left side. People are sitting at a number of round tables. Smoke fills the air. There’s a man on stage playing piano. Look! (Quieter.) If you don’t want to stay here, what is our plan?
ARTHUR: I’m thinking.
JOHN: We didn’t decouple the train that far from the station, Arthur.
ARTHUR: The bar.
JOHN: Left. (He huffs a breath.) He could be at the terminal by now. (Arthur grunts as he sits.) And if what you’re saying is true, then he could be heading here right now.
ARTHUR (whispering): I know! I know.
JOHN (sighing): The bartender’s coming over.
ARTHUR: No, nothing yet. Thank you. (Abruptly.) W-Wait, wait! Um. Do you have a… a newspaper?
JOHN: He’s looking at you with a raised eyebrow.
(The sound of footsteps.)
JOHN: He’s headed over to a stack of papers on the bar. It’s only a few feet away.
ARTHUR (quietly): Oh, fuck.
(The sound of rustling papers.)
JOHN: He’s grabbed you one. He’s handing it to us now.
ARTHUR: Thank you. (The sound of rustling paper.) Sorry, I-I didn’t see that.
JOHN: Why a newspaper?
ARTHUR (sighing): Okay, look. We don’t have to stay at a hotel for a night’s rest.
ARTHUR: No, no, no. Oftentimes, just normal people will rent rooms. Which, now that I think of it, is even better. It’s unlikely the Butcher will search the classifieds. Landlords who rent rooms to ‘workers,’ as such, don’t want much to do with them, and they’re less nosy overall. Plus, no one else besides the landlord would have a key to our room.
JOHN (surprised): In hotels, they also have keys to your room?
ARTHUR (didn’t you know?): Yes.
JOHN: Everyone who works here?
ARTHUR: Yes. Well, anyone can have access to the key, and… I’ve done it myself before.
JOHN: What do you mean?
ARTHUR: I’ve done it myself.
JOHN: You have?
ARTHUR: Yes, looking for a perp, or when I was following someone.
JOHN (tired): Arthur…
ARTHUR: Anyway! A room to rent, classifieds. Look for anything like that. (The paper rustles.)
ARTHUR: Do you see –
JOHN (interrupting): I’m reading them.
ARTHUR: Right, right, right. Find something unintimidating. Something not too far away, either.
JOHN: What’s not far?
ARTHUR: I don’t know, I don’t know this city that well. Just… read some out, maybe. (Paper rustles.)
JOHN: Seeking live-in caregiver to –
ARTHUR (interrupting): No. No, no. (Paper rustles.)
JOHN: Female-only roommate –
ARTHUR (definitely not): No, no, no. (Paper rustles.)
JOHN: Worker’s rate. Temporary rental...
ARTHUR: Well, that could work.
JOHN: Proof of papers required.
ARTHUR (abrupt): No! Nothing with proof. (Paper rustles.)
JOHN: Widow looking for short/long term room renter who keeps to themselves.
ARTHUR: Wait, wait, wait, wait, that one. Where is that?
JOHN: East 83rd Street, upper East Side. It says inquire first, via the telephone.
ARTHUR: Brilliant. And a number?
JOHN: Well, how far is that? (Paper rustles.)
ARTHUR: Well, a 30 minute walk or a five-minute taxi.
JOHN: Well, then there’s no time to waste!
ARTHUR: Is there a payphone anywhere around here?
JOHN: Yes, we passed one in the hallway.
ARTHUR: Well. (He walks, opening and closing a door. The sound of the bar quiets.)
JOHN: To your left. Here.
(Arthur grunts and opens the payphone door. It squeaks open. Arthur punches in the numbers.)
ARTHUR: Okay. You can dial, right?
JOHN: Yes. (John dials the rotary phone.)
(Three staticky rings through the phone.)
STRANGER (slightly tinny): J Scherzer, wholesale grocer. Tony speaking, how can I help you?
ARTHUR: Ah, y-yes, sorry, I’m looking to speak with… um.
ARTHUR (uncertain): Marie… Marie?
TONY: Uh, just wait. (The phone crackles on the other end.)
JOHN: They don’t own the telephone?
ARTHUR: Most people don’t –
MARIE (tinny): Hello?
(A whimsical tune starts to play.)
ARTHUR: Hello, Mrs. –
MARIE: Marie is fine.
ARTHUR (awkwardly): Uh. Hello, Marie? Uh… I-I just wanted to inquire about the room you had listed. I’m looking for a temporary stay while in the city.
MARIE: What is your name?
ARTHUR: Uh… Parker.
JOHN (aghast): Why!?
MARIE: What brings you to the city now?
ARTHUR: Uh… w-well, I’m on business.
MARIE (indignant): The truth now, boy!
ARTHUR: Well, I, um.
MARIE (terse): No. The room is not available.
ARTHUR: Wha – what? B-B-But you said –
MARIE: I don’t rent to fibbers, boy. And I can already tell you’re winding up for a big bluff.
ARTHUR: No no no, wait, wait, wait! Please. Please. Please.
ARTHUR: Wait. (He huffs a breath.)
ARTHUR: Look… the truth is… I’m here to see my father-in-law. (A slow-paced, somber piano tune starts to play.) A-A man I haven’t spoken to in many… many years.
MARIE (displeased): Hmm.
ARTHUR: It-It was too… difficult, he was too angry with me, and I… I was too angry with myself.
MARIE (thoughtful): Hmm.
ARTHUR: B-But I’m here. I’m here in the city because I-I have work to do, and I-I… I need to be… (He sighs. Quietly overwrought.) Please.
MARIE (sighing): I have one room. I’ll rent it to you if you pay me on time and respect the rules of my house.
ARTHUR: Thank you! Ms – uh, Marie.
MARIE: But don’t come in late and don’t try to make anything difficult for me. I’m too old and too tired to care.
ARTHUR: Of course! I-I wouldn’t dream of it.
MARIE: Now, it’s getting late. You can pay me when you arrive here shortly. It’s four dollars a week and I expect it to be in advance.
ARTHUR: I’ll-I’ll be there as soon as possible.
MARIE: Speak to you soon, Parker.
ARTHUR: Y-Yes, yes. (He hangs up the phone.)
JOHN (really?): Parker?
ARTHUR: I don’t know! I don’t know. I feel so… lost about this, I had a million fake names in my mind, but.
JOHN: But why?
ARTHUR: I don’t know. (Faroe’s Song starts to play.) I needed something that was real. Even if only slightly.
JOHN: And what of the Butcher?
ARTHUR: The Butcher didn’t know my face. He doesn’t know me, through and through, yet. He wouldn’t know about Parker.
JOHN: He will.
ARTHUR: Look, there’s no way he’s going to be piecing together where we’re staying.
JOHN: You say it as if we’re throwing him off our scent.
ARTHUR: Well… well… (Thoughtful.) A-Actually… actually, we could.
ARTHUR: Well, maybe we do rent a room here.
JOHN: Why would we –
ARTHUR (interrupting): And we don’t use it.
JOHN: You mean…
ARTHUR: A decoy. Just to throw him off the scent.
JOHN: Interesting. It could take a while. And it would cost a night’s rate, at least. We don’t have endless supplies of money.
ARTHUR (focused): Think about this. If he bought it, it would keep him busy for at least a night. And he’d know we’d be expecting him, so he’d be playing it extra careful, maybe even buying us a few days. Enough to throw him off the scent completely. It’s a good move, John. Even if it loses us some time.
JOHN: Why give him a lead at all? I don’t know, maybe you’re trying to be too clever, Arthur.
ARTHUR: I know. Trust me. (Melancholy piano piece begins. The payphone door squeaks open. Arthur grunts as he exits.)
JOHN (lowly): And if the Butcher asks the front desk man if he recognizes you?
ARTHUR: It won’t matter. There’s no way he’ll know where we’re hiding.
JOHN: You’re sure?
ARTHUR: I’m positive.
(Footsteps as Arthur walks along with background chatter.)
ARTHUR (enthusiastically): Hi! Sorry for that. I’d love to book a room. I-I don’t have a reservation –
DESK ATTENDANT: No worries. Please sign in.
JOHN: He’s gesturing to the ledger again.
ARTHUR: Of course. (Pencil scratching.)
JOHN (outraged): You’re writing your real name!?
ARTHUR (quietly): Mm-hmm!
JOHN: Arthur! Aren’t you worried that’s a bit too risky?
DESK ATTENDANT: Thank you. (Continued pencil scratching.)
JOHN: Why even let him know we came in this way? If he’s as clever as –
ARTHUR (interrupting): High up as possible, please. On a floor near the top. (John sighs.) I-I love the view. Uh, one occupant.
DESK ATTENDANT: Of course. Just give me a moment. (Footsteps as the attendant walks off. Pencil scratching continues.)
ARTHUR: He’s going to be coming here anyway, I’m sure of it. I’d rather keep him here.
JOHN: Wouldn’t he question why you put your real name, if he’s so clever?
(Paper flipping and the distant jingling of keys.)
ARTHUR: I’m counting on him thinking this is a lure, not a decoy.
JOHN: It’s a lot.
ARTHUR: He intends to kill us. We need bold moves.
(Footsteps approach again.)
DESK ATTENDANT: Thank you, sir. You’re on the 14th floor.
ARTHUR: Thank you.
DESK ATTENDANT: The rate is three dollars a night.
ARTHUR: I-I’ll take it for the week. (He rifles through his bag and pulls out money.)
JOHN: That doesn’t leave much left.
DESK ATTENDANT: Your change and key.
ARTHUR: Thank you. (The jingling of keys and paper.) I’ll be stepping out for an evening meal, but I’ll be back!
DESK ATTENDANT: Of course.
(He starts to walk. With a grunt, he pushes through the door and into the city. Mumbled conversations continue, as well as the occasional siren and passing noises of traffic.)
JOHN (annoyed): Well, I hope it wasn’t a mistake, especially with how much it cost us.
ARTHUR (quickly): When we do eventually visit Daniel, I’ll perhaps ask him to borrow some money as well.
ARTHUR (uncertain): Yes, I-I think. I-I-I don’t know. Taxi! (The taxi beeps and the sound of a car grows closer.)
JOHN: A car’s pulling up to stop. The handle is to your left. There!
(Arthur pulls open the door and slides inside. The engine idles.)
ARTHUR: J Scherzer Whole Grocer, please. East 83rd Street, please.
TAXI DRIVER: Right away.
ARTHUR: Thank you.
(The taxi drives off.)
JOHN: Arthur. You’ll need to get over your fear about speaking of Daniel if you intend to have him help us.
ARTHUR (whispering): Fear?
JOHN: Everytime you’ve mentioned him, you’ve changed the subject rather quickly.
(A slow-paced piano melody starts.)
ARTHUR (whispering): I know. Look, we didn’t have the greatest relationship. He came from money. He and his parents also immigrated here to the United States. Daniel’s brother, who admittedly is more flippant with his wealth, actually lives in Arkham, though… although I never visited them. Outside of the odd family gathering many years ago, I-I never really saw them. I don’t even know how many of them know that I’ve… I’ve been in Arkham.
JOHN: You left?
ARTHUR (uncomfortable): Boston. That’s where… Bella and I, uh… anyway, Daniel. After Bella, Daniel insisted that we move closer to New York, to him. When I refused, he was quite offended but I-I think, deep down, he understood. Until, uh… Faroe, uh.
ARTHUR: We had a curt conversation after the funeral. After… it all passed.
JOHN: What about?
ARTHUR (scoffing): He’s a heavily religious man. Heavily. He’s-He’s involved with the church in some way, a deacon or something, I can’t recall exactly, but. He views everything through the lens of his beliefs, which… obviously, I don’t. Anyway, after that conversation, I-I left Boston. I left all of it behind.
JOHN: And you’re convinced he’ll help us.
ARTHUR: No. But he doesn’t have to.
ARTHUR: No, no, no. Freemasons are an organization, sometimes paternal. I believe they hold a… signet ring. So long as we find that in his home… we should be able to find a way into their ranks.
JOHN: You’re thinking of breaking in?
ARTHUR: I’m thinking, if there’s a chance that he wouldn’t help us, then maybe stealing it is easier.
ARTHUR: We’re not playing mortal games anymore, John. Who knows what’s at stake?
JOHN: Of course.
ARTHUR: This Order, it could be aiming to achieve any number of things. (Quieter.) And Larson, well, we know what he’s capable of.
JOHN: That still only gets us halfway to the Order of the Fallen Star.
ARTHUR: Yes, but it’s – it’s a strong first step. (He sighs.) We’ll set up at Marie’s place and find a bite to eat, and then we’ll head to Daniel. Maybe tomorrow, assuming he’s home.
JOHN: And hasn’t moved.
ARTHUR: Yes, well. He’s not the sort. (He sighs and shifts.) Anyway. (Somewhat brighter.) Oh, h-have you seen the Empire State Building yet? (He chuckles.)
JOHN: Where was it?
TAXI DRIVER (overlapping, genuine): Of course!
(Whimsical music starts to play.)
ARTHUR: O-Oh! Lovely. (Whispering.) Behind us now, probably.
JOHN: Damn it!
(The taxi pulls to a stop, the engine idling loudly.)
TAXI DRIVER: There you go!
JOHN: 25 cents.
ARTHUR: Thank you. (He hands over the coins and exits the taxi, to the previous sounds of the city.) Thank you. Well.
JOHN (horrified awe): Arthur.
ARTHUR: What? Is this it?
JOHN: It’s a grocer, but –
ARTHUR (interrupting): Yes, the man on the phone said a grocer. Does she live above it, perhaps?
JOHN: There’s a brownstone building with a set of stairs that lead from the street, but Arthur. (Struggling for words.) This is… wrong.
(Chilling sting plays, preceding suspenseful string music.)
JOHN: There’s a-a shadow on this place.
ARTHUR: A shadow?
JOHN: I can see it. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. A haze… some presence here. (Arthur steps forward.) The windows look down on us from the blackened, painted rooftop. The setting sun gives it an eerie, almost crooked appearance. I can’t tell where the shadows stop and the building begins.
ARTHUR (confused): What? How… what do you mean? That you’ve never seen this before.
JOHN: I don’t know how to describe it, other than the building… is wrong. The architecture itself is… odd, as if it’s hiding something.
ARTHUR: Look, John, I trust you, but what are we to do about that?
JOHN: I don’t know.
ARTHUR: We need a place to stay. It’s dark now, I presume.
JOHN: Arthur, this shadow… it doesn’t look of this world.
ARTHUR: So, what? We don’t go in? (He sighs.) Look, it’s a street, John. People are passing by. This isn’t a house in the woods. Even if there’s something here, and I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I doubt it’s something actively dangerous, you know?
JOHN: If you could see what I see –
ARTHUR (weary): Yes, well, I can’t, and I’m tired, and we have no other option right now. We’ve just established this path.
JOHN: I know! I… I don’t think we shouldn’t stay here. If anything, I’m curious why. Power like this doesn’t exist outside of the Dreamlands.
ARTHUR: Well, perhaps we’re both learning that isn’t the case.
JOHN (thoughtful): I suppose so.
JOHN: Maybe we should poke around a bit first.
JOHN: Once we introduce ourself, we have no way back. It looks like the grocer is connected in some way to the house above.
ARTHUR: Well, that would make sense. Marie answered fairly quickly. A side door, perhaps.
JOHN: If we head into the grocer, we could poke around, just to see if anything stirs.
ARTHUR: I am curious, but… look, I’m also concerned for our chances to stay here if we’re caught snooping around, first. Look, it may be smarter… after we’ve had the key, and have paid.
JOHN: Well, you’re the detective. What do you think?
(Arthur steps. A thoughtful, slow-paced piano tune plays.)
ARTHUR: I think poking around first makes more sense, but… I’m unsure of exactly what you’re seeing. And again, I-I believe you, but. Let’s just get the key first.
JOHN: You’re sure?
ARTHUR: Yes. I… I think so.
JOHN: All right. The stairs to the front door are to your right. (Arthur steps up the stairs.) Here. The door’s right before you.
ARTHUR: Right. (He rings the buzzer and sighs.) Does it still… loom over us?
JOHN: Yes. This house, it… seethes an energy I can’t quite place.
ARTHUR: And you’re not nervous about that?
John (thoughtful): No.
ARTHUR: Fair enough. (He rings the buzzer again.)
JOHN: How long do we wait?
ARTHUR: Well, she is expecting us.
JOHN: Should we just enter?
ARTHUR: Let’s just… wait, another moment. (They push against the door.)
JOHN: It’s open.
ARTHUR: Oh. All right. (The door squeaks open. His voice echoes.) Hello? (The door shuts behind him.)
JOHN: We’re in a small foyer. (An eerie piano melody plays, amidst the buzzing of flies.) A large circular stair moves up to the three stories above. (Crinkling of peeling wallpaper.) The walls are faded yellow paper, and look almost skintone now. It peels in certain areas. There are cobwebs in the corners and the wooden stairs look rough and poorly kept. To the back, I… think there might be a kitchen.
Arthur (whispering): Does it look the same as outside? (Suspenseful string music starts.)
JOHN: It looks even darker than outside.
MARIE (calling out from a distance): Parker?
JOHN (startled): Oh!
Arthur (calling out): Marie?
JOHN: She’s at the top of the stairs, Arthur. Leaning over the railing from the second floor.
ARTHUR: Oh! I’m-I’m so sorry, I let myself in.
MARIE: Impatience is not a very attractive quality, Parker. (Arthur exhales. A whimsical tune starts.)
JOHN: She’s coming down the stairs.
ARTHUR: Yes, I’m-I’m-I’m. (He huffs awkwardly.) I’m quite sorry, Marie.
MARIE: That on top of fibbing. (The stairs squeak.) Am I making the wrong call in trusting you, boy? (She hmphs.)
JOHN: She’s walking slowly down to the foyer.
ARTHUR: No, I assure you, Marie, I… I –
MARIE (interrupting): Now, did I tell you the rate on the telephone?
ARTHUR: Yes, it was four doll –
MARIE (interrupting): Four dollars a week in advance. (She continues to walk.)
ARTHUR: Yes, of course.
MARIE (closer): You don’t have any bags?
ARTHUR: No, I-I don’t expect to be too long.
MARIE (disapproving): Huh. Now listen here. Family is important. That’s exactly why I am taking you in. I would do anything for my family, and I hope you come to make amends with your father as well.
ARTHUR: In-law, act –
MARIE (interrupting): Father is father, boy. (Arthur sighs in defeat.) Now, come. I’ll show you to your room. (With noises of exertion, she starts up the stairs again.)
JOHN: She’s turned back around on the steps and is beckoning you forward. She stopped and vaguely waves to the hallway leading to the back of the house.
MARIE: Back there is the kitchen. You’re welcome to use it, but you buy your own groceries downstairs. Understand?
ARTHUR (quickly): Yes, ma’am.
MARIE: That room to your right is the sitting room. I read there in the afternoon. You are welcome to join me. I make tea promptly at one o’clock. I can make enough for you, if you partake.
ARTHUR: I do, actually, I –
MARIE (interrupting): Very well. I’ll… (A melancholic piano tune starts. Marie sounds closer again.) You look like you’ve seen some action, boy.
ARTHUR (awkwardly): Oh. Uh. Do I? Yes, well, um.
MARIE: Hm. Very well. (She grunts in exertion as she climbs the stairs again.) You may also use the sitting room in-in the evening while I’m in my bedroom, or in the mornings. (She catches her breath.) Now, listen. I leave the house every day at 7 AM. On Saturdays and Sundays for church, during the week for various errands and visiting. And I return at noon for a light lunch.
MARIE: I head to my bedroom promptly at 6 PM. And I’m asleep past 8 PM. You are not to disturb me under any circumstances. (More steps.) The front door, of which you’ll find a key to on your bedroom nightstand, is not to be opened past 11. Is that understood?
MARIE (disapproving): If you’re out past that time, you’re out for the night! (She catches her breath again.)
JOHN (quietly): She’s paused to catch her breath on the second floor.
MARIE: The bathroom is down the hall there and to the left, but it is only to be used after I have left the house. As you have a basin in your room for general washing up.
MARIE: My room is right over the front door. It gets lots of light and helps me in the winter months. (She sighs.) Now, Parker. Questions?
ARTHUR: Uh… my room?
MARIE: Of course. (More steps.) The end of the hall. A sharp left and you’ll see your bedroom door.
ARTHUR (quietly): Ah, yes.
MARIE: However. You’ll notice it holds a set of steep steps, which will lead you to the attic. That’s your room. It should be spacious enough. It has a fair amount of light.
ARTHUR: I’m sure it’s perfect.
MARIE: You can lock it from the inside. I’ve left it open for you. (She makes an exhausted noise. A melancholic tune begins to play.) There is a door to the room at the back of the house, which lay directly beside yours. Eh, you are not to open that door under any circumstances, is that understood?
ARTHUR (slightly puzzled): Yes, of course.
MARIE: Thank you.
ARTHUR: Is there another tenant?
ARTHUR: Brilliant. Well, um. (The rustling of paper.) Here. For the week.
MARIE: Yes, thank you.
ARTHUR: Laundry, and, uh –
MARIE (interrupting): You’ll manage that yourself.
MARIE: As I mentioned, I am in my room at 6 PM. And the time is…
ARTHUR: Is, ah, yes, yes, it is. Yes.
MARIE (from a distance): The front door locks behind you, so no need to remember to lock it at night.
ARTHUR (calling out): Thank you, Marie!
MARIE: Yes. Good night… Parker. (The door opens.)
ARTHUR: Good night! (The door shuts. Arthur continues to walk.)
ARTHUR: Well, indeed.
JOHN: The hallway stretches before us, Arthur, but. It looks almost as if it’s hazy. As if the air is thick. (A slow-paced, dirge-like piano piece begins to play.)
ARTHUR: Hazy? What do you mean by “thick?” Like-Like the hotel was?
JOHN: No. This doesn’t feel like a merging of the Dreamlands with this plane, but… as if something is tainting the air around it. Like something within this house is… rotting it away.
ARTHUR: Well, this… “rot” must have a source. And that room she asked us not to look into…
JOHN (suspicious): Yes.
ARTHUR: Regardless, let’s just… go towards our room.
JOHN: Something lingers here, Arthur. (A suspenseful sting, amidst the faint sound of scratching insects.) It’s almost as if there’s a colored hue to it. A dark forest green that seems to seep from around the corner.
(The house creaking grows momentarily louder.)
ARTHUR (shaky breath, nervous): It’s just a house. It’s just a house.
JOHN: I don’t think anyone else can perceive this this way. There’s a connection that we have, that I have… perhaps Marie doesn’t even realize.
(Suspenseful string music rises. Arthur breathes heavier, inhaling a sharp breath through his teeth. Crinkling of peeling wallpaper.)
ARTHUR: Feels damp on my skin.
JOHN (quieter): We’re at the corner. (He gasps softly.) I see the open door to our attic room, but. (Faint whispering is audible but unintelligible.) The closed door to the right of it… it’s coming from in there, Arthur.
ARTHUR: She said no one is in there.
JOHN: The rot is almost slithering out in wisps of smoke from underneath the door.
ARTHUR: Can we hear anything from within?
JOHN: You want to listen at the door?
ARTHUR: Maybe just to see if we can hear anything.
(The creaking of the house and unintelligible whispers.)
JOHN: Alright. It seems harmless.
ARTHUR (whispering): Exactly. It’s just listening.
JOHN: I’m curious, as well.
ARTHUR: Brilliant. We-We’ll be quick. It’s right beside our door, anyway. (The shifting of fabric and Arthur’s grunt of exertion as he crouches. A long pause.) I don’t hear anything.
JOHN: Me neither. (A soft thump.)
ARTHUR: Wait, wait!
(At a distance, something scraping across the floor. A buzzing of flies and a rising suspenseful sting. Another soft thump and something scraping against the floor. A sudden beastly call.)
JOHN: Jesus! (Arthur gasps.)
ARTHUR: There’s something in there.
JOHN: Listen again. (Arthur steps across the floor and bends down. Again, something moves across the floor.)
ARTHUR: What is that?
JOHN: I’m not sure. (Something starts to sniff loudly.) Is that…
ARTHUR: Is it sniffing? (The beast’s call, a thud against the door, and a horror sting. Arthur reels back.) Alright.
JOHN: Yes, I suppose that’s enough.
ARTHUR (out of breath): Let’s, um.
JOHN: The door is open, to your left. (The door squeaks open; Arthur closes it.) Lock it.
ARTHUR: Right. (The turning of a lock.)
JOHN (sighing): There are a set of tight wooden steps leading up.
(Arthur climbs, grunting in exertion.)
ARTHUR: Well, how does it look?
(A melancholy piano piece starts to play.)
JOHN: It’s a fairly large, open A-framed room. I suppose we’re right in the top of the house, so the walls slant upward at an angle toward a tall, darkened peak where the underside of the roof meets. Wooden boards line the floors and walls and a single square window with a basin beneath is built in the left side of the room.
ARTHUR (sighing): That sounds nice, actually.
JOHN: It is. (Arthur huffs a chuckle.) In the center is our bed. A single cot on what looks like a wire frame. There’s a small, round carpet here at the top of the stairs. A faded blue design with flowers, probably to wipe our shoes. And there’s also a writing desk in the corner along the back wall with a single chair at it.
ARTHUR: Sounds quaint. Eh, the window…?
JOHN: Left, yes.
ARTHUR: Ah, right. (He steps.)
JOHN (impressed): It’s a view of New York City. (A slow-paced piano tune begins.) Quite the view. In the distance, there are a number of buildings. Tall buildings. It’s quite the scene, Arthur.
ARTHUR (sighing): I can imagine.
JOHN: The glass, it’s… warped. A bit, I think.
ARTHUR: Warped? How so?
JOHN: It looks like it may have been broken and repaired. I can’t quite explain. It… It’s almost as if the window’s glass has a pattern to it. It’s quite intricate.
ARTHUR: Well. (Arthur has an extended yawn.) Well, I think I’d enjoy an early bedtime, to say the least.
JOHN: Fair enough.
(The shifting of fabric as Arthur undresses.)
ARTHUR: Oh, it’s been a while. Not since the Red Right Hand.
JOHN: The Red Right Hand?
ARTHUR: Right. No, you weren’t there, but. (Continual shifting of fabric, buttons unbuttoning.) But anyway, that’s my last sleep. I-In a bed, anyway. Sometimes I forget about this.
JOHN: Your finger? (A melancholy piano piece begins to play.)
ARTHUR: Yes, yes. The wooden part, it feels… almost a part of me, now.
JOHN: It still looks just as it did in the Dreamlands.
ARTHUR: Yes, well. That’s mostly why I keep it… hidden. (A soft clinking, like fidgeting with clothing.)
JOHN: The wall to the north of the room, opposite the stairs?
ARTHUR: The one the desk and the head of our bed sits against?
JOHN: Yes. There are objects outlined on it. Impressions left on the sun-bleached wood.
ARTHUR: As if things used to hang there?
ARTHUR: Can you make out what?
JOHN: No. Maybe a cross.
ARTHUR: Not surprising. Marie says… she attends church.
JOHN: Twice a week.
ARTHUR (dismissive): Yeah, well. Religion. (Arthur groans in relief, the bed squeaks underneath him.)
JOHN: There’s a lantern and matches on the table, here. Besides the bed.
ARTHUR: Brilliant. Yeah, uh. (The metal lantern squeaks.) Yeah. (A box of matches rattle.)
JOHN: Yes, there.
ARTHUR: Ah. Just checking. In case I need to use the washroom. (Arthur falls back onto the bed with a groan of relief. He starts to laugh.) Oh! Well. We’ve made it. We’re here. As to what comes next, I… I guess we can’t quite say, but. We have a place to call our own. For once! (Thrilled.) Wow, for once, John! We haven’t had anything like this since we’ve left Arkham. (He sighs.) C-Can you imagine?
JOHN (somber): It’s been quite the road.
ARTHUR (sighing, quieter): Do you still think this was the right call? Being here.
JOHN: In… New York? Yes. (Solemn.) I think it’s… the only call.
ARTHUR (quietly): I agree. Anyway. (He grunts. The bed squeaks underneath him.) Goodnight, John.
JOHN: Goodnight, Arthur.
(The creaking of the house fades out, replaced by eerie, echoing audio distortions.)
YELLOW (heavily distorted and echoing): You imprisoned me. You took me from my rightful place as King and stuck me inside this prison. You are a murderer, Arthur. You are a monster. You are no better than Wallace, no better than the foulness you murdered in that pit! I am not your friend. I am not John, and I never will be. I am nothing like you. And he is dead.
(The distortion dissipates, replaced by the creaking of the house.)
JOHN: Arthur. (In his sleep, Arthur mumbles in agitation.) Wake up.
ARTHUR (groggy): Huh? What? (The bedding shifts.) Is it morning?
JOHN (calmly): No. It’s dark now. Moonlight shines in through the windowpane. The texture on the glass… makes the room ripple and glow in an ethereal blue.
ARTHUR: Okay. Okay, w-what’s… what’s wrong?
JOHN: The ceiling, Arthur.
ARTHUR: W-What about it?
JOHN: The dark crevasse where the sloped roofs meet. It’s still dark there.
ARTHUR: Right, right.
JOHN: Bathed in blackness. Too thick to see through. The light will never touch it.
ARTHUR (trying to get his attention): John?
JOHN: Nothing can touch the darkness in this house. (Intense.) I see it.
(An ominous, echoing tone begins to play. The house creaks.)
ARTHUR: See what?
JOHN: It’s in there. Quiet. Silent. In the abyssal black. Above us. It’s staring at us from within the shadows. (Arthur starts to breathe shakily.)
ARTHUR (scared): Jo-John.
JOHN: It clings to the ceiling with its arms and legs pressed to either side. (Arthur breathes shakily.) As if ready to drop at any moment.
ARTHUR (insistent): John.
JOHN: It’s waiting until we’ve given up. Waiting until we’ve stopped trying.
ARTHUR (whispering): John!
JOHN: It knows we will. (Something squishes at a distance.) It’s smiling, Arthur.
ARTHUR (urgent): John!
ARTHUR: John! (He grabs the lantern and lights it with the matches.)
JOHN (startled): What?
ARTHUR: What! Is there anything there? (The metal lantern clangs.)
JOHN: Where? N-No!
ARTHUR: You… you were – you were just saying something was in the dark part of the A-frame ceiling a-above us. I-In the angle of the roof, w-watching!
JOHN: What time is it?
ARTHUR (confused whisper): What? (Louder.) You woke me up. Were you… What were you doing?
JOHN: I have… (The bedding shifts.) I don’t know. I must have drifted away.
ARTHUR: Sleep? I thought you… (Quiet.) Fuck. (Something thuds downstairs.) What was that?
JOHN (whispering): That came from downstairs. (Faint footsteps, at a distance.)
ARTHUR: Marie? She’s walking.
JOHN: She’s heading to our door.
ARTHUR (scared): D-Did we lock the door?
JOHN: Yes. Blow out the lantern!
(Arthur blows out the lantern. The footsteps approach.)
ARTHUR: No! N-No! (The door below opens.) She’s opening the room below us!
JOHN: Get out of bed! To the floor, listen!
MARIE (faint, muffled): I’m here. (Unintelligible.) I apologize. Here’s a bite to eat, alright?
JOHN (speaking overtop Marie): Arthur, there’s a crack of light in the far corner of the room, opposite the window. I think we can see down! (Arthur grunts and breathes shakily as he moves.) Here, here! Look down! I can’t see anything. (Below, the door shuts.) It’s dark again, but. Wait, wait! Something is moving! (Rapid panting from below.) Wait!
(Intense sniffing and the sound of something squishy and wet, very close. A horror sting.)
ARTHUR (breathing hard): Fuck! Jesus. We’re going back to bed.
JOHN: I think it recognized our scent.
ARTHUR: I know! I know. (He grunts as he returns to the bed.)
JOHN (apprehensive): Arthur.
ARTHUR: I know, John. Let’s just… try our best to get back to sleep. Somehow.
(END Part 30.)