A deep sleep, a forgotten path, a dark power...
Malevolent follows Arkham Investigator Arthur Lester as he unravels the mysterious circumstances that have befallen him.
This fifth part reveals the next chapter of Arthur's path, a path that ended in a boat, floating aimlessly along a fog filled lake with a severed head. What comes next is a mystery... If you are enjoying this Podcast, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter to receive all Chapters as they are completed as well as the choices that you, the listener, get to make. Find out more here: https://www.patreon.com/TheINVICTUSStream
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PART FIVE - THE GIFT
Original transcript by Eggsy39 and Jack! Reviewed by Moon.
(BEGIN Part 5.)
(A staticky intercom plays in the background, unintelligible. Occasional creaking sounds can be heard.)
ARTHUR (gasping) : Hello? Are you there? Um. Friend?
STRANGER (distant, echoing, “Wise Guy” accent): Well, hey to you too, friend.
ARTHUR (shaky): Who is this?
STRANGER: Me? I’m your new friend, apparently. (He laughs.)
ARTHUR: I’m sorry, I-I wasn’t, um. Yes. I-I mean, hello.
STRANGER: Wow, you’re all kinds of turned around, aren’t you? You belong here.
STRANGER: Here, there, everywhere, nowhere. Anywhere.
ARTHUR: What do you mean? Where are we? Where are you?
STRANGER: Me? Oh, I’m just a little voice inside your head telling you that everything is gonna be alright. (He laughs.) Look up. (Creaking in the background.) You see the vent in your cell? You and I are side by side, I think.
ARTHUR: H-h-h-hold on. Cells?
STRANGER: Yeah, wow! You really are out of it. The locked door, the padded walls, they didn’t give it away?
ARTHUR: Padded walls?
STRANGER: Jesus Christ. What are you blind, kid?
ADAM: Ah fuck, I’m sorry. Now I sound like a real prick. Let’s start over, shall we? Name’s Adam. Adam Fry.
(Something creaks ominously throughout.)
ARTHUR: R-Right, right. And you are?
ADAM: In the cell next to you, probably. I heard you saying hello and I figured I might as well take you up on the chat.
ARTHUR: Where are we?
ADAM: You, my fine friend, are in the nuthouse.
ARTHUR: The what?
ADAM: The looney bin, you know? Where the crazy folk go when they can’t stop being crazy.
ARTHUR: Why? I-I shouldn’t be here.
ADAM: You and me both.
ARTHUR: H-how did I get here?
ADAM: How should I know? All I hear is the freaks drag in a new body for the cell next door, not the hows and whys of it.
ARTHUR: I- I- I don’t understand.
ADAM: Look, don’t wreck yourself on trying to figure it out, you’ll have a panic attack. (Arthur breathes heavily.) Just relax.
ARTHUR (breathing heavily, the sounds of him standing and walking): These walls, you said that they’re... padded?
(Arthur’s hand rubbing back and forth on something.)
ARTHUR: They feel thick, like hide, almost.
ADAM: Yeah, well. They don’t want us schizos to go throwing ourselves against the wall just to escape, you know?
ADAM: ‘Shuffled off this mortal coil.’ Come on, you sound smart, you never read Hamlet?
ARTHUR: No, no, no, of course I have.
ADAM: Love Shakespeare. The blood, the betrayal, the sex, the violence. It’s one thing you did right.
ARTHUR (taken aback): Me?
ADAM: You! The British! (He laughs.)
ARTHUR: Oh, hah, right. Yes, of course. Hm.
(Arthur clears his throat. Adam continues to laugh as Arthur walks.)
ARTHUR: This... door.
ADAM: Is the only way in or out, so you might as well get comfy.
ARTHUR: Yes, but it feels –
ADAM: Yeah, it’s padded as well. You’d be surprised at the amount of nuts that wanna dig out their own ear with a fork.
ARTHUR: No, no. It feels odd, a-almost shaped oddly.
ARTHUR: What do you mean ‘dig out their own ear’? I-I still have my hands free.
ADAM: Ah, well, you’re lucky then. Some of these psychos get tied up proper. Hands wrapped around their backs.
ARTHUR (a single chuckle): Yeah. Lucky me. Adam, I need-
ADAM: Hey, come over here to the vent, on the wall. So I don’t have to shout so much.
ARTHUR (stepping closer, voice echoing slightly): Better?
ADAM: Much better. So, friend, what do you need?
ARTHUR: Adam, I need to leave this place. I cannot stay here, I have things I need to do-
ADAM: What do you mean? What things?
ARTHUR: I-It doesn’t matter. I don’t belong here. I… (He pants.) I don’t think I do, at least, I-
ADAM: You think anyone here thinks they belong?
ARTHUR: Adam, I-
ADAM: Wait, you said your hands weren’t tied up?
ADAM: Well, maybe you could get out.
ADAM: There are guards, see…
ADAM: Every so often they pass by, make sure we’re doing okay. They check on us through that little slit in the door around eye level. If something is wrong, they’ll come in.
ADAM: And they got keys and shit. You could knock one out and –
ARTHUR: I’m not going to… I’m not going to fight a guard.
ADAM: These are no fine people, pal. They’re monsters.
ARTHUR: Regardless, I’m not going to justify my belonging here by being a villain, I-
ADAM: It’s probably your only bet.
ARTHUR: No. No, not like this. (He steps away.)
ADAM: So, what things you gotta do?
ADAM: You said you gotta get outta here, you gotta do things.
ARTHUR: Yes, well, I-I was trying to piece together something. Something important.
ARTHUR: It doesn’t matter now, I’m…
(Adam sighs. Arthur continues to walk the room. Something creaks.)
ADAM: Eh, maybe there’s another way.
ARTHUR: Yes? Anything!
ADAM: I’ve been planning my own break out for a while now. I got the pieces where they need to be.
ARTHUR: That’s wonderful! I –
ADAM: Hold on, take a breath. First we gotta wait for the guards to pass, you know, do their rounds.
ADAM: Get somewhere out of sight, maybe behind the door.
ARTHUR: Alright, yeah. (He walks.) Are they…
ADAM: Shh! They’re coming.
(Suspenseful music rises. Something squishy walks by, wheezing heavily. The noises grow closer. A faint, slow heartbeat is audible. It bangs against the door once... and wanders off.)
ARTHUR (shaken): What on earth was that?
ADAM: What do you mean?
ARTHUR: Were they...?
ADAM: The guards? Yeah.
ARTHUR: No, b-but they…
ADAM: Anyway, so I’ve been planning my own way outta here for a while now. If I’m gonna share it with you, I wanna know a little bit more about you.
ARTHUR: Wh-what do you mean?
ADAM: Let’s just say if I’m gonna bring a friend along, I want to make sure I’m not bringing someone who should be in here.
ARTHUR: Uh, alright? I…
ADAM: Come back over here. (Arthur walks closer to the vent.) What was the last thing you remember?
ARTHUR (voice echoing again): I-I was in a boat, I-I was bleeding. I was on a lake.
ADAM: That’s it?
ARTHUR: T-that’s it.
ADAM: Why were you on the boat?
ARTHUR: I was escaping someone.
ARTHUR: A man who was trying to kill me.
ADAM: Where were you going?
ARTHUR: H-Harper’s Hill, it’s...
ADAM: For what?
ARTHUR: For answers.
ADAM: Jesus, Arthur! I need more than this! Who were you going to get answers from?
ARTHUR: A girl named Amanda Cummings, she… wait.
ANOTHER VOICE/ “ENTITY”: Amanda Cummings.
ARTHUR: Wait, did I… (The suspenseful music cuts out.) Did I tell you my name?
(The audio distorts severely. It sounds like a voice speaks, but it is too garbled to make out.)
ANOTHER VOICE/ “ENTITY”: Thank you, Arthur.
ARTHUR: Wait, what?
ANOTHER VOICE/ “ENTITY”: Sleep well.
(The sound of crackling electricity, and the audio flickers into silence. Pause. A heart monitor starts to beep. Arthur groans softly in pain.)
ENTITY: Arthur? Arthur! (He sighs.) Arthur.
ARTHUR: Wh… where?
ENTITY (soothing): Arthur, relax. You’re in the hospital. Just relax, everything is okay.
ENTITY: After you passed out on the boat, I managed to drag us to a nearby road. (ARTHUR (woozy): Oh.) As luck would have it, someone saw us and brought us here. You’ve been unresponsive since.
ARTHUR (still woozy): Where are, where are, where are we?
ENTITY: I told you.
ARTHUR: I mean, wh…
ENTITY: Oh. We’re in Harper’s Hill.
ARTHUR (taking deep breaths): Where is… where is he? He was…
ENTITY: Who was? What happened?
ARTHUR: Suh... Something’s wrong. When I was unconscious, I was… I was in another world but…
ENTITY: Arthur, just relax.
ARTHUR: It was like a dream. Everything was real, I could touch it and… and I could feel it. We need to find Amanda Cummings. We need to find her as soon as possible… before someone else does.
ENTITY: Who is looking for her?
ARTHUR: Adam. This... this man, or… this thing. (Ominous music rises.) I think he was trying to get information from me.
ARTHUR: We need to move. God, I feel so…
ENTITY: We’ve been in a coma for over a month.
(Arthur starts to hyperventilate.)
ARTHUR: I just can’t believe it, I…
ENTITY: Believe it. I’ve counted every waking minute.
ARTHUR (breathing heavily): You’ve been awake this entire time?
ENTITY: Yes. I’ve been trapped.
ARTHUR: Well. I’m sorry for that, it must have been terrible.
ENTITY: It was. (The bed squeaks.) But it also gave me time to… Arthur. (Piano music begins to play.) (ARTHUR: Hm?) I don’t know what’s happened to you. (Arthur sighs.) I don’t know why I became bound to you, but… from the Dark World that I thought I would never... return from... I escaped, or I was pulled. I’ve been so focused on never returning, I haven’t actually thought of how lucky I am to have found you, so… thank you.
ARTHUR (awkwardly): Well, I…
ENTITY: Don’t. I just… I needed to say it.
ARTHUR: Alright, then. So where is everyone? (He shifts in the bed.)
ENTITY: You are in a wing of the hospital dedicated to patients like you. It’s not very busy here and besides, it’s the middle of the night, around 2AM.
ARTHUR (grunting): So what have I missed?
ENTITY: For one thing they don’t know who you are.
ARTHUR (surprised): No?
ENTITY: No. I thought maybe they would piece together the missing driver from the car accident a ways away from here. (Arthur grunts as he moves.) You’ve been John Doe for the past weeks.
ENTITY: It’s actually interesting.
ARTHUR: Well, how so?
ENTITY: The nurses, one in particular… she comes in to check. (Arthur moves around in the bed.) She always says “good morning, John” and, uh… well, I like the sound of it.
ARTHUR: What do you mean? You want to be called John?
JOHN (quickly): It sounds bizarre, I know.
ARTHUR: No! No, I’m glad I can call you something. In the place that I was... ugh... when I tried to call out to you I could only think of…“friend”.
JOHN: Yes, about that… What do you mean “place you were”? What happened?
ARTHUR: When I passed out, on the boat, I awoke in a hospital. (ominous music plays.) Not like this one, it was- it was a place for insane people. Uh, an asylum.
JOHN: A dream?
ARTHUR: No! I don’t think so… there was a man there, I-I couldn’t see him, I could only talk to him through the vent in the wall, but he sort of befriended me? He wanted information.
JOHN: What information?
ARTHUR: He wanted to know why we were coming to Harper’s Hill.
JOHN: This is why you said “Amanda Cummings”?
ARTHUR: Yes. Something is very wrong there, the… the walls, they felt off, almost like flesh. The door seemed... it was in an odd shape, the guards were otherworldly, I –
JOHN (overlapping): You said we need to find Amanda as soon as possible, before someone else does?
ARTHUR: Yes, this... this man, if he was a man… this Adam Fry, he seemed to only need me for her name. We, we, we need to get...
(Arthur’s voice goes weak with pain as he tries to get up.)
JOHN: Arthur, relax. You haven’t walked in months.
ARTHUR (pained): I know, but we need to move.
JOHN: Didn’t you hear me? They don’t know who you are, they’re going to want to know when you wake up.
ARTHUR: So then we can’t stay here. We need to get out and find Amanda before this ‘Adam’ does.
JOHN (disapproving): Arthur.
ARTHUR: No, John, Parker is dead back in Arkham. If they find out who I am, it is likely that they will at least take me in for questioning, not to mention everything that happened at Kellin’s. (He takes a deep breath.) Did you see Kellin die?
JOHN: We moved away as he was bleeding on the dock, but… no.
ARTHUR: Do you still think he’s...?
JOHN: I don’t know. Let’s not think about that. We got out alive and –
ARTHUR: Wait! What happened to his sister’s head?
JOHN (exasperated): Arthur, you’re not seriously still –
ARTHUR: Did you… (Accusing.) You left it, didn’t you?
JOHN: Of course I left it, Arthur! Besides the fact that I think you’re insane for bringing it, I didn’t think we’d be as likely to be picked up if we were carrying a rotting severed head.
ARTHUR: What did you do with it?
JOHN: What do you think I did? I left it.
ARTHUR: In the boat?
JOHN: Yes, in the boat! Which is either washed up on the forest shore where I left it or floating somewhere on the lake.
JOHN (conciliatory): Arthur, I couldn’t have brought it, you must realize that.
ARTHUR: You’re right. I need to try to sit up and walk. (The bed squeaks.)
JOHN: No one checks on us during this time of night, usually only in the morning and before the evening, so we’re good to move around.
(Arthur grunts as he gets up from the bed.)
JOHN: You’re gonna try walking?
ARTHUR (pained): Yes, I’m just… stalling.
JOHN: Why do you think this ‘Adam Fry’ is after Amanda?
ARTHUR (sighing): I don’t know, I – I just… He seemed to have all he needed at her name. Just, I don’t know, call it instinct.
JOHN: Alright, well, let's take a second and go over our path that led us here. After all, it’s been a month of sitting here for me. Could use a refresher.
ARTHUR: Right. Well, it’s still fresh in my mind, so. You appeared to me when a book from JD Ackerman arrived at my doorstep. Opening the book seemed to have killed my partner, Parker.
ARTHUR: Let’s just say that, for now. The symbol on the book was one that I had actually seen before, in an abandoned house.
JOHN: One that you had originally went to when looking for a girl who wound up being murdered.
ARTHUR: Right. But let’s just put a pin in that for now, because she was not a lead that we followed up on. Instead we went to the bookstore, which was ransacked. Someone shot at us-
JOHN: And missed.
ARTHUR: Thankfully. (He grunts.)
JOHN: Or purposefully.
ARTHUR: What do you mean?
JOHN: Well whoever shot at us did so at point blank range, and missed.
ARTHUR (grunting, breathing heavily): You think it was intentional?
JOHN: I don’t know what to think, all I know is how they fired and ran.
(Arthur continues to struggle to get up, panting.)
JOHN: You can do this, Arthur. Come on!
ARTHUR: I feel like my legs are made of string.
JOHN: But you are walking.
JOHN: Keep moving straight.
(Panting, Arthur walks.)
ARTHUR: What is this?
JOHN: The sink.
JOHN: You’ve grown quite the beard, Arthur.
JOHN: If you want to get out of here, let’s make it difficult for people to recognize you. There’s a razor next to the sink.
ARTHUR: Right. Um… (Something clinks.) here?
(Arthur turns on the tap and taps his razor against the sink.)
ARTHUR: Uh… is this high enough?
JOHN: Yeah, start there.
(Arthur starts to shave.)
JOHN: So, at the bookstore, JD Ackerman, the owner, was not there but we did find an index card for one ‘Roland Cummings,’ that had our address on it, leading us to believe –
ARTHUR: That he meant to send the book, our book, to someone else. A man named Roland. (He taps the razor against the sink.)
JOHN: Right. Then we went to the house –
ARTHUR: Where we found the symbol and the cavernous basement, in which we found corpses and a ritualistic altar. To you, it looked like a gateway.
JOHN: When we looked at the newspaper records about the house, we found that two girls were seen wandering from the house, and one of them was Amanda Cummings.
ARTHUR: Roland’s daughter.
JOHN: A connection too strong to mistake as coincidence.
ARTHUR: And the other girl?
JOHN: We have no idea about. Hopefully Amanda can shed some light on it.
ARTHUR: Right. Then...
JOHN: When we went to the Cummings’ last known address, a neighbor told us that she moved up to Harper’s Hill.
ARTHUR: With some family.
JOHN: So the neighbor says.
ARTHUR: So, Amanda should be able to tell us what happened at the house, which (Water running from the tap.) should give us insight into the symbol where you came from, her father… really, she is the missing piece of this puzzle.
JOHN (approving): There, you look much better.
JOHN: Yes. For not being able to see, I have to say you did a bang up job.
ARTHUR (pleased): Thank you.
JOHN: So what now?
ARTHUR: Well, we need to get out of here. Quietly. There’s no sense in making this more difficult for us. Where are my clothes?
JOHN: They put them in a drawer on the far side of this room.
(Arthur sighs and painfully walks over, grunting and wincing all the while.)
(Arthur opens the drawer. Fabric rustles.)
JOHN: Look’s like they’ve cleaned them, too.
(Arthur closes the drawer.)
JOHN: Take your time.
(Arthur gets dressed, rustling his clothes and clinking his belt buckle.)
JOHN: So assuming we can get out of here quietly, what’s the next step?
ARTHUR: We find Amanda.
ARTHUR: Actually we might be in the best place for that…
ARTHUR: Well, she’s lived in Harper’s Hill, at least for a few years now, possible they would have a record of her here, or even more likely that they would have an address. (Something jingles.)
JOHN: Well, then. A records room?
ARTHUR (sighing): Exactly.
JOHN: Arthur, you look like your old self. A thinner, paler, more gaunt version… but that’ll pass I’m sure.
ARTHUR (chuckling in disbelief): Okay. Any idea of the layout of this place?
ARTHUR: Well, let’s get back on that bicycle.
(He opens a door.)
JOHN: The left. The right looks like a dead end after more rooms. There’s a nurses station up ahead, but it’s empty right now.
JOHN: Wait! There’s a map on the wall.
JOHN: Stop here. Luck has our number! Looks like it’s on this floor. Continue down the hall, past the break room.
JOHN: So when we find Amanda, what then?
ARTHUR (grunting): What do you mean?
JOHN: Do you tell her what’s going on, or do you play coy? We both know how bad you are at lying.
ARTHUR: Right, well, I suppose we play it by ear… maybe honesty is the best policy at this point.
JOHN: The break room.
(A radio is vaguely audible, though unintelligible.)
JOHN: I hear someone, they’re listening to a radio. Crouch down, let’s crawl beneath the window on the door.
ARTHUR: Of course. I’m still getting my legs back to form.
(Arthur’s voice becomes strained as he grunts and crawls on the floor, moving along.)
JOHN: You’re clear.
ARTHUR (breathing, in pain): It’s like learning to walk again.
JOHN: Alright, we’re here.
(Arthur tries the doorknob.)
JOHN: Of course.
ARTHUR: Well, what now?
JOHN: Well, that break room had someone in it, we can try to steal a set of keys, or…
ARTHUR: Or what?
JOHN: Or we could force the door open.
ARTHUR: You mean with my shoulder?
JOHN: Yes, or we can try to find an object in the storage closet, like a pry bar. I saw it on the map as well.
ARTHUR (laughing wryly): At least we have options.
JOHN: Some options are better than others.
ARTHUR(sighing): Yes, I agree. Let’s just see if we can’t find a set of keys.
JOHN: Good, head back to the breakroom.
JOHN: Just, peek around the doorway. There’s a window on it, let me get a good look inside.
(A radio plays in the background, the action-filled tune of a radio programme.)
JOHN: There’s someone in there but they look asleep.
ARTHUR: You think they have a key?
JOHN: I don’t know, look again. (Arthur grunts.) Definitely. What’s more is that it’s not even on them, it’s on the table inside.
(Arthur opens the door and steps inside.)
JOHN: Slowly, now. They’re just to your left, on a couch. Their back is to us.
(The individual snores softly as Arthur tiptoes into the room. The radio still plays, an old-time choral tune.)
JOHN: The key is on the table ahead of you. (ARTHUR: Ah!) Slowly. (The stranger snorts.) stop! Okay, go… alright, stop, you’re at the table. Reach up, a little higher. (Arthur grunts softly.) Arthur, we have one shot at this. Yes… yes… yes! Right there!
(There’s sudden static. The radio cuts out, and ‘Some Call It Madness’ begins to play.)
JOHN: Move! Quickly, they’re waking up!
(Arthur quickly exits the room as the radio returns to the previous programme. He closes the door behind him. Arthur breathes heavily.)
JOHN: Okay. Just wait. Now, look back in. They’re back asleep.
ARTHUR: What the hell was that?
JOHN: I don’t know. Let’s just move.
(Arthur steps, unlocks, and enters the record room. The door closes behind him. A clock ticks in the background.)
JOHN: Alright, A to C, first cabinet on the right.
(Arthur walks and opens a cabinet. He rifles through papers.)
JOHN: No… no. There, C. Keep going… Cummings! Stop, there.
JOHN: Yes, there. (The sound of paper shuffling.) The second one.
ARTHUR: This one?
JOHN: Ah, yes, the address.
ARTHUR: What was she last in for?
JOHN (slowly): Arthur, this… this is an autopsy request.
(Suspenseful piano chords start to play.)
JOHN: Arthur, she’s dead.
ARTHUR: H-how? When?
JOHN (sighing): Just a few days ago.
(Arthur knocks over the drawer.)
JOHN: Look, we have her address. (ARTHUR (overlapping): God damn it.) Maybe she’s left something...
ARTHUR: Is she… still in the morgue?
ARTHUR: We should go.
ARTHUR: Because we can find out how she died… maybe, I-I don’t know.
JOHN: I suppose since we’re in the hospital anyway.
(Arthur walks, opens and closes the door behind him.)
ARTHUR: Safe to assume the morgue is in the basement?
ARTHUR: Let’s move.
JOHN: I think I saw a stairwell at the far end of the corridor.
(Arthur walks, opens a door, and closes it behind him. He enters the stairwell.)
JOHN: Arthur, when we talked about what had happened to us earlier, I noticed you… neglected to mention a few parts.
ARTHUR (panting): Such as?
JOHN: Well, you ran through everything that happened, but failed to mention Eddie.
ARTHUR: The maintenance man? What about him?
JOHN: You… you don’t remember?
ARTHUR: Remember what?
JOHN: You drew your gun on him, Arthur. You shot him. You killed him. Do you not remember?
ARTHUR (stuttering): No, I… I do, I, I just…
JOHN: Rather not think about it?
ARTHUR: Yes, and uh… it’s difficult, I… I relied so much on images to recall things, I suppose… or maybe I just didn’t want to remember. Maybe I wanted to block that out.
JOHN: I recognize why you want to forget something...
JOHN: But it’s important to remember that Eddie is a big reason why we need to keep a low profile.
ARTHUR (grunting): I know.
JOHN: Since the police back in Arkham found your partner, it won’t take much to connect him, your office, and the body of Eddie all to you. After all, we left him in your apartment’s storage locker in the basement. This is why we need to be smart. This is why we need to move under the radar.
ARTHUR: Right, but also it’s been a month.
JOHN: Out here. Back in Arkham, who knows how large the manhunt has gotten, and I have no doubt we will need to return to the city soon enough.
ARTHUR: No, you’re right.
JOHN: Anyway, I just wanted to make sure that we haven’t forgotten anything.
ARTHUR: I haven’t.
JOHN: I have been thinking about Eddie’s death during this time.
JOHN: Well, it’s when I gained control of this arm.
JOHN: I’m sure you and I have been thinking a similar thing.
ARTHUR (seriously): Why haven’t you gained more control over me?
JOHN: Especially being that you were out of commission for a month.
ARTHUR: I don’t know.
JOHN: I’ve been pondering on it, and it may have something to do with the situation itself.
ARTHUR (in pain): Ah, what do you mean?
JOHN: In that moment, you experienced something that most people don’t, something that pushed the boundaries of your sanity.
ARTHUR: And you think that’s why you grabbed a hold?
JOHN: I don’t know. We’ll have to wait until your mind is pushed to the brink once again, I suppose. We’re here. Bottom floor.
(Arthur opens and closes the door to the morgue.)
JOHN: Amanda’s death–
ARTHUR: Couldn’t have been an accident.
JOHN: Do you think that thing... that man you met while dreaming–
ARTHUR: I don’t know. Yes, possibly.
JOHN: There’s a set of double doors on your right, down the hall.
JOHN: You’ll have to peek in, there are no windows.
(Something squeaks in the distance. The flickering and hum of lights can be heard.)
JOHN: Looks empty.
JOHN: This is clearly where they store the cadavers, there’s a wall of drawers for the bodies.
ARTHUR: Do they have –
JOHN: Names? Yes. Follow the wall. (Arthur walks.) Here, stop. So now what?
ARTHUR: I don’t know. We came all this way to find Amanda, I suppose we should take a look.
(Arthur rolls open a drawer, the metal screeches.)
ARTHUR (taking a deep breath): Well?
JOHN: You’ll have to open it. There’s a bag zippered over her face.
(A zipper opens.)
JOHN: You’ll have to open the bag a bit more, Arthur.
ARTHUR (shaky): Okay…
(He rustles the bag. A distorted, monstrous scream – ‘You Call It Madness’ briefly plays, distorted. Arthur and John both breathe heavily.)
JOHN (intense): What the fuck was that!?
ARTHUR: You heard that too?
JOHN: Heard!? I saw something!
JOHN (breathing heavily): You…
ARTHUR: What do you mean?
JOHN: You accidentally brushed your knuckles over her skin when you opened the bag-
JOHN: And when you did, I... I saw something.
JOHN (shaken): I think... maybe the moments leading up to her death. I don’t know, Arthur, this isn’t…
ARTHUR: When I woke up from that world, that dream land, I-I felt… maybe a bit different, more… aware.
JOHN: That doesn’t quite explain what the fuck just happened.
ARTHUR: No, it doesn’t, but clearly something happened to me, to us. (John sighs.) It happened after I awoke. (Arthur sighs.) So.
JOHN: So what? Do not touch her again.
ARTHUR: Why? You said that we could see her up to the moment of her death!
JOHN: Arthur, these are powers beyond our comprehension.
ARTHUR: But we have no leads!
JOHN: We have her house, her diaries, her life. We have plenty of ways to find out more about her.
ARTHUR: Or… or we could touch her and find out exactly how she died.
JOHN: At what cost?
ARTHUR: What do you mean?
JOHN: Do you think this will leave us unscarred? Arthur, you went to a place while you were in a coma and came back… different. Do you not understand that these things carry a heavy toll? Nothing is free. What does seeing this take from us?
ARTHUR: I-I don’t know, but if we can see what happened, we need to do it. For Amanda’s sake.
JOHN: For Amanda?
JOHN: Or for your sake, Arthur?
ARTHUR: What do you mean?
JOHN: You feel guilty.
ARTHUR: I… (Quietly.) Yes. Yes, I suppose so.
JOHN: Well, then. Let’s get on with it.
(Ominous music rises.)
ARTHUR (sighing): Are you ready?
JOHN: I suppose.
ARTHUR (quietly): Here we go.
(A similar monstrous scream as before, low-pitched and brief.)
JOHN (panting hard): I! I see Amanda, she’s in an apartment, a small bedroom. She’s... she’s tucking something away, something… (Background static.) a book, a diary. I don’t know, but she’s putting it under her mattress. (John breathes heavily.) She’s, she’s nervously looking at the door, she’s, she’s walking across the room. There’s a man. He’s –
ARTHUR: What does he look like?
JOHN: I don’t know, Arthur. He’s… he has long features, a worn smile, deep lines in his… he’s stepping inside. She’s... she’s frightened. He’s reaching out with his hand, his fingers are long and he’s… Jesus Christ!
JOHN: His fingers, they’re long and thin, driving themselves into her neck and face, bending into her flesh, forming as one…
(Ominous music rises.)
ARTHUR (scared): What?! How?
JOHN: His hand is sliding into her… It’s as if he’s devouring her body, absorbing it.
ARTHUR: I don’t…
JOHN (slowly, intensely): He’s. Looking. At. Me. (Music abruptly drops. A single ominous note, and it begins to rise again.) He sees us, Arthur!
ARTHUR: How is that possible?
JOHN: Arthur! (He grunts in pain.) What is that? What is that?
(The music crescendos, and glass breaks. A thud as Arthur hits the ground. Both Arthur and John pant in exertion. Something creaks, far away.)
ARTHUR: Oh… what the fuck happened?
JOHN (weary): I don’t know, Arthur. I – he… It saw me.
ARTHUR: How? That doesn’t make any sense.
JOHN: I don’t know either, I just… I could feel his gaze, looking through me. Looking through us.
ARTHUR (sighing): You said ‘it’.
JOHN: I don’t know. I don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t human. It’s… he’s... something else. The way he drove his fingers into Amanda’s skin like they were nothing, as if she were made of clay.
ARTHUR: Why did all the lights break?
JOHN (weary still): I don’t know.
ARTHUR: Are there…?
JOHN: Everything’s down, the fridge has stopped.
(Arthur grunts in pain and rises. Glass crunches under his feet.)
ARTHUR: Jesus. Were you... her? Were you watching her? Were you looking through her eyes? H-how did it all look?
JOHN (sighing): It was as if we were watching a scene play out, as if witness to a crime. A third party floating around it… until his eyes met ours. Arthur, this is bad, it was like stepping through a doorway.
ARTHUR: Yes, like my dream was.
JOHN: I got the feeling that... that he couldn’t pass through.
ARTHUR: Well, that’s good?
JOHN: No, it’s not. (He sighs. Arthur continues to walk.) It’s almost as if he wanted us there, as if he wanted us to think he was showing us something. He…
ARTHUR: Wait, hold on. What do you mean?
JOHN: This didn’t feel like we saw something he didn’t want us to, it felt like… it felt like he tricked us.
ARTHUR: For what purpose?
JOHN: I don’t know.
ARTHUR: You said he couldn’t pass through?
JOHN: No. But he wanted to.
ARTHUR (sighing): Well, I suppose that’s as much as we’re going to find out.
JOHN (heated): Arthur, don’t you understand? We fucked up.
(Ominous music rises.)
JOHN: That wasn’t – he wanted us to touch her. He wanted to see us. He wanted to connect our worlds again.
ARTHUR: Why? (Arthur chuckles nervously.) You said he can’t come through. As far as I’m concerned, as long as he’s on that side and we’re on this side then we’re –
(A monstrous growl from a distance. Arthur makes a sound under his breath.)
ARTHUR (whispering): What was that?
(Glass crunches. Another growl as the creature steps closer.)
ARTHUR: Where did that come from? Is Amanda still there?
(Glass crunches as Arthur walks.)
ARTHUR: He can’t come through.
JOHN (deliberately): No.
JOHN: But maybe other things can.
(Another growl. Suspenseful music starts to rise.)
ARTHUR: W-what do you see?
JOHN: Nothing. It’s pitch black in here; all the lights shattered when we broke contact.
ARTHUR (scared): Let’s – Let’s just take it slow, let’s just follow the wall to the exit.
(Another growl. A few moments pass as glass crunches under Arthur’s feet. Creaks and snarls in the background.)
JOHN: Watch it!
(A metal object clinks as Arthur walks into it. Arthur gasps. It’s quiet for a moment, then another louder growl. Sounds of the creature moving.)
JOHN: I see light leaking through the crack in the door, you’re almost there.
(Growling in the background, almost constant, and growing closer all the while.)
ARTHUR: Yes! Is it… is it moving closer?
JOHN (low): Arthur, just move quietly.
ARTHUR (desperate): What if it can see in the dark?
(A beat of silence, then John gasps.)
JOHN: Arthur, move!
(The creature snarls loudly, close by. Arthur gasps.)
JOHN: Arthur, move! Move!
(Arthur runs in a panic through a door. The creature snarls and gives chase, but the sound grows more distant. Arthur hurls himself through another door, breathing heavily in fear.)
JOHN (scared): Arthur, find something to lock the door!
(Arthur walks and bumps into something; it clatters onto the floor.)
JOHN: We need to move, now!
ARTHUR: Agreed. We need to leave this place.
JOHN (panting): Put that beam against the door.
ARTHUR (walking, putting the beam down): Do you think it follo –
(Something thuds against the door, loudly snarling. John and Arthur both cry out in surprise.)
ARTHUR: Fuck! Right, just – let’s get the fuck out of here. (He walks.)
JOHN: You want to just leave this thing here?
ARTHUR (breathing heavily): I’m barely standing at this point, John. (A bang in the background.) I’ve just been in a coma for a month. We need to leave this place.
JOHN: You’re right. (The buzz of electricity can be heard for a moment.) Where are we heading?
ARTHUR: Up, and then out.
ARTHUR: Yes, unless…
JOHN: Unless what?
(Arthur stops walking.)
ARTHUR: Unless we don’t have a choice
(A crash. The creature roars again.)
JOHN: Arthur, it broke into the stairwell! It’s coming up the stairs.
(Another roar. Tense music plays.)
ARTHUR: We need to hide, now!
(Large footsteps thud against the floor.)
JOHN: There’s a door, it’s the floor just above the basement.
JOHN: To your right. Go!
(The door creaks open and closes as the footsteps continue.)
ARTHUR: Does the door lock?
(Arthur locks the door, panting. Lurching footsteps of the creature are audible in the background, though quieter.)
ARTHUR: What are we looking at?
JOHN: Offices. There’s a long hallway leading down between the doors, leading off. It seems like no one is here.
ARTHUR: Is there anywhere we can presumably–
(The footsteps get louder, then something thuds against the door.)
ARTHUR: Oh, god. Damn. (The creature cries out.) Is there anywhere we can hide?
JOHN: Yes, through one of those doors, or maybe–
(Something thuds against the door. Wood splinters.)
JOHN: It’s breaking through, Arthur!
ARTHUR: God. Where can I –?
JOHN: Down the hall! Move!
(Arthur runs down the hall.)
JOHN: There’s a desk here, see if you can get behind it. Quickly!
(The door shatters completely. The creature growls, now close. It moves closer, occasionally snarling, its footsteps heavy against the floor. Arthur breathes shakily.)
JOHN: Arthur, it’s got it’s back to you.
ARTHUR (whispering): Is there another exit?
JOHN: Nothing that I can see.
ARTHUR: Did we just trap ourselves in here with it?
JOHN (tense): I don’t know, Arthur.
(The creature growls.)
ARTHUR: Can you… can we… get a look at it?
(Tense music rises.)
JOHN (sighing, or muttering something under his breath): If you move, very carefully, so I can look around the corner of the desk.
(Fabric rustles as Arthur moves.)
JOHN (in awe): Jesus Christ!
JOHN: I- I’m not even sure how to… (The music fades.) it looks like foulness.
(The creature growls.)
JOHN: It moves like an animal, like a dog, but it’s large. Its… its skin doesn’t look organic, but rather… I-I can’t, Arthur. I-I...
ARTHUR: Just, stop, let’s not…
JOHN (breathing heavily): Arthur, it was like a hound only without features, save the sharp fangs. It had a mouth full of them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that.
ARTHUR (sounding faint): How did it materialize?
JOHN: I have no idea. It seemed to just appear out of the corner in the basement, as if it… as if it entered our world.
ARTHUR: Was there anything else? I…
JOHN: I couldn’t tell in the darkness.
ARTHUR: We need to get out of here.
JOHN (serious): No. We need to stop it.
(Ominous chord starts to play.)
JOHN: Arthur, this thing, it’s not going to stop hunting us. It’s going to find us no matter what.
JOHN: Well, we need to stop it.
ARTHUR: I-I-I don’t see how we can…
JOHN (sighing): I don’t know either, but we need to move.
ARTHUR: Is there a –
(Footsteps coming quickly closer, at a sprint. The creatures growls.)
(The creature crashes through something and cries out.)
JOHN: Quickly! Arthur, there’s a chute on the wall for laundry!
(Arthur runs, grunts, and shoves himself through the chute.The creature growls at a distance. The sound of Arthur falling through the chute, grunting in pain.)
ARTHUR (groaning): God damn. Ah… where are we?
JOHN: In the basement, again.
ARTHUR (breathing heavily): Damn.
JOHN: This looks like the boiler room.
ARTHUR: Is it coming down? Would it fit in–
(Metal scrapes. Ominous music starts playing. The creature growls and scrabbles against metal.)
JOHN: I think it’s coming down, Arthur.
ARTHUR: Oh, fuck! (Arthur takes a few steps.) We need to…
JOHN: There’s a large machine here in the center of the room.
ARTHUR: Yes, I can feel the heat, it- is it a furnace, or…?
JOHN: No. It has a large door on it.
ARTHUR: An incinerator.
JOHN: I think so.
ARTHUR (certain): This… this is it! This is how we kill it.
ARTHUR: We lure it towards us. At the last second, I dive out of the way.
JOHN: Should we test it first?
(The creature growls again.)
ARTHUR: No time! Where is it?
JOHN: Move forward.
ARTHUR: I-I feel it, it’s already warm.
JOHN: There are buttons on the side.
(The creature whines.)
ARTHUR: Right, okay, which one is which?
JOHN: There’s a large red button on the top.
(Banging as the creature moves closer, crying out.)
JOHN: Yes that one! The door, Arthur, it’s coming!
(The door drags open. The creature snarls.)
ARTHUR: I can feel the heat.
JOHN: You’ll need to stand in front and wait for me to tell you to dive.
ARTHUR: To-to the right, or?
(Footsteps move closer.)
JOHN: I see it, Arthur, it’s… Jesus, it’s… just… just hold.
(The creature gets closer, snarling continuously.)
JOHN: Just wait… a little more…
(Footsteps moving closer.)
ARTHUR (quiet): John?
JOHN: A little more…
ARTHUR (growling): John!
JOHN: Now! Dive!
(The creature roars and surges forward. An alarm sounds after Arthur presses the button. Steam hisses and the creature screams in pain, surrounded by flame. Arthur steps closer and breathes heavily. The crackling sound of fire continues.)
ARTHUR: Is it gone?
JOHN: Yes, I think so.
(Arthur takes a few steps.)
ARTHUR: We need to get out of here.
JOHN: Yes. Whatever ‘saw’ us when we touched Amanda’s corpse knows we’re here, so we need to move.
ARTHUR: Where is the way out?
JOHN: Around the back of the incinerator, I think.
JOHN: There are some boxes here.
JOHN: I don’t know. Things. Belongings, I think.
ARTHUR: Like a lost and found?
JOHN: I don’t know, take a look.
JOHN: Arthur, you have no money, no ID. We have literally nothing and miles to go before I sleep.
ARTHUR (confused): What?
JOHN: It-it means we have a long way to go –
ARTHUR: No, it’s a poem. By Robert Frost, I –
(Arthur steps forward, shoes squeaking against the floor. He rummages through the boxes.)
ARTHUR: What’s in here?
JOHN: Nothing of use, a belt, a hat… Wait. (Dice roll.) I think there’s something in the lining of the hat.
(Arthur rifles through the hat.)
JOHN: There’s money in here!
ARTHUR (pleasantly surprised): Oh, how much?
JOHN: Arthur, there’s at least a couple hundred dollars.
ARTHUR: Well, that makes things easier at least.
(Arthur keeps walking.)
JOHN: So, where to now?
ARTHUR: Well, I suppose we should head to Amanda’s.
ARTHUR: Or what?
JOHN: Or we could stop off somewhere and get you a gun. Arthur, we now know that someone or something is hunting us. We need to be prepared.
(END Part 5.)