19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

19 Nocturne Boulevard - THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK (Lovecraft 5 #2) - Reissue!

0:00
39:14
Rewind 15 seconds
Fast Forward 15 seconds

Five friends gather for another story - this one of an artist doomed for his curiousity.  

Cast List
Edward - Bryan Hendrickson
Charles - Michael Coleman (Tales of the Extraordinary)
Warren - Glen Hallstrom
Richard - Philemon Vanderbeck
Herbert - Carl Cubbedge
Blake - Derek Fetters (Unspeakable and Inhuman)

Music by Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com)
Editing and Sound:   Julie Hoverson
Cover Design:  Brett Coulstock
 

"What kind of a place is it?
Why it's another brownstone dinner party, can't you tell?"

*****************************************************************

THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK (Lovecraft 5, #2)

Cast:

  • Edward, a writer
  • Charles, a dilettante
  • Herbert, a scientist
  • Richard, a painter
  • Warren, a professor
  • Robert Blake, deceased writer

OLIVIA     Did you have any trouble finding it?  What do you mean, what kind of a place is it?  Why, it's Charles' house again, can't you tell? 

MUSIC

SOUND     MUSIC, but muffled

SOUND    CUPBOARD CLOSES, FEET APPROACH

CHARLES    Try this one.

SOUND    BOX HANDED OVER

EDWARD    Thanks.  [quiet, a bit diffident] And... and I appreciate your putting us up tonight, Charles.

CHARLES    [breezily covering] In my own interest, I assure you.  I've no wish to climb five flights of rickety stairs and squat in your cramped dormer just to hear a story.

SOUND    WALKING

EDWARD    And I have no wish to disappoint you.  [perking up]  Though you really can't knock the cramped dormer for atmosphere...

CHARLES    We'll just look at this as my way of supporting the arts, shall we?

SOUND    DOOR OPENS

SOUND    MUSIC LESS MUFFLED, SOUND OF FIREPLACE

CHARLES    Here we are.

SOUND    WALKING IN

WARREN    Aha!

HERBERT     There you are!

RICHARD    Where did you have to go for it?  China?

CHARLES    I knew I had a few of these still lying around.  Just take one to start - they're wicked sour.

SOUND    BOX OPENS, PICKING OUT CANDIES

CHARLES    Richard?

RICHARD    Perhaps just one.  [pops into mouth, reacts] 

WARREN    [chuckles]  I've tried many kinds of native confectionery in my travels, back in the day.  [puts into mouth, reacts, but tries not to]  [slightly breathless] Ah, yes.  Much like the salted ginger prunes I tried in [deep breath] Hong Kong [coughs slightly] in 1907.

RICHARD    So jaded, Warren.  [teasing] Aren't you having one, Herbert?

HERBERT    I've never understood the point of discomfiting oneself by eating painful food. 

EDWARD    [trying not to pucker] It's really quite tasty.

HERBERT    I'll stick to my drink, thank you very much.

SOUND    BOX SET DOWN, SHUT

CHARLES    Can't blame you, though I find myself rather more partial to these than I ought.  [pops something into mouth, then talks around it with no apparent difficulty]  So, Edward?

SOUND    SECOND BOX SET DOWN ON TABLE

EDWARD    Um!  [removes candy with a slight slurp]  Right.  Of course.

SOUND    SHUFFLING PAPERS

HERBERT    Isn't this supposed to be a true story?

EDWARD    [baffled] Yes, why do you ask?

HERBERT    Why the manuscript, then?  How can we trust anything you've written down to be fact and not one of your fantastical fictions?

WARREN    He has a point.

EDWARD    Oh, that's simple.  I didn't write any of this. 

RICHARD    [give it] Here. 

SOUND    PAPER CHANGES HANDS

RICHARD    [agreeing] Well.  It's certainly not your handwriting.  [to Edward] Is it some long lost maiden aunt?

HERBERT    Let me look.  Hmph.  Spiky. 

WARREN    [looking over his shoulder]  Copperplate.  Quaint.

EDWARD    Are the experts satisfied?

HERBERT    I reserve judgment.

WARREN    [chuckles]  I'm not such a stickler for provenance - after all, you're not one of my students.

RICHARD    Tell us then, raconteur, who is it that inspires this tale?

EDWARD    Robert Blake.

RICHARD    [sharp] Blake? 

SOUND    SNATCHES PAPERS

RICHARD    [urgent] This is Blake's?  What is it?  How did you get it? 

SOUND    PAPERS SNATCHED BACK

EDWARD    All in good time.  [sniffs annoyedly]

SOUND    PAPERS BEING STRAIGHTENED, PLOPPED DOWN

EDWARD    [with import, beginning his tale] This? 

SOUND    PATS PAPERS AND BOX

EDWARD    This is all that's left of Robert Blake.

RICHARD    He-- [cuts himself off]

EDWARD    [intense] You were about to say - Blake died, 17 days ago, during a storm that knocked out half the electricity in the city.  Died... under very peculiar circumstances, indeed.

WARREN    [after a slight pause] And for those of us less acquainted with the deceased?

EDWARD    Huh?

CHARLES    Yes.  Who is - was - Robert Blake?

EDWARD    You haven't heard of him?

HERBERT    I vaguely recall something about a Blake.  Isn't he some kind of artist?  Considered rather... blasphemous? 

EDWARD    Blake was a writer and a painter, yes.

HERBERT    But I was under the impression he was long-dead.  A century or more.

EDWARD    [puzzled] No.  Robert died 17 days ago--

WARREN    Oh!  I expect you're thinking of William Blake. 

RICHARD    The one who painted the great red dragon and the woman clothed in the sun?

HERBERT    [snort of derision]  I don't waste precious memory on such trivia.  I can put names to three paintings - the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, and Whistler's Mother.  And that's only because those are ubiquitous.

CHARLES    Any chance that the two painting Blakes are connected somehow?

EDWARD    Dunno.  Could be.  Hmm.  Robert hailed from Milwaukee, but I don't know anything more about his family.  [shrugs] It would explain some of Robert's peculiar artistic leanings.

RICHARD    I've met Blake - this Blake - on several occasions.  I can't say I like - liked - him, but I didn't dislike him either.  His work was rather ... unusual.  Though I'm only acquainted with his paintings.

EDWARD    His writing was just as odd - both fiction and non.  This [taps the papers] is supposedly the latter.  A journal.  [with heavy import]  His last days.

CHARLES    Ahhh...

SOUND    OPENS BOX, TAKES CANDY

WARREN    How did you come by it?

EDWARD    Let me start at the beginning.  Blake and I have been informally acquainted for years.  We interacted through the magazines that carried our works, corresponded now and then, and [chuckles] lampooned each other a bit.  I wrote a mad protagonist once named Blake Roberts, and he in turn--

RICHARD    Hmph.  His paintings show no trace of a sense of humor.

CHARLES    There's more to any man than shows in his public face.

WARREN    Who said that?

CHARLES    [dry, teasing]  Thought I did.

WARREN     [sigh] Never mind.

RICHARD    [prompting] Blake?

EDWARD    [overriding them all, narrating] Cautious investigators will hesitate to challenge the common belief that Robert Blake was killed by lightning, or by some profound nervous shock derived from an electrical discharge.

RICHARD    Lightning?  I thought he died in his rooms.

HERBERT    Was he burned?

EDWARD    Not at all. 

WARREN    But the papers put it down to lightning?

EDWARD    I know I'm more used to writing a story than telling it, but you fellows should give me some room to breathe, here.  Stop jumping on me every time I come up for air! 

EVERYONE    [mumbled apologies]

EDWARD    [poetry] I have seen the dark universe yawning
Where the black planets roll without aim,
Where they roll in their horror unheeded,
Without knowledge or lustre or name
.

CHARLES    Yours, or his?

EDWARD    [chuckles] His.  [deep breath]  All right, now I have written some notes to follow, condensing some of this, and including some outside information.  So don't get confused. 

SOUND    RUSTLE OF PAPERS

EDWARD    Blake died with a horrible expression on his face.  The police and coroner blame it on the sudden contraction of the musculature due to the sudden ingress of electricity.

WARREN    It's not unheard of.

EDWARD     But the entries in his diary might suggest another source of the horrible grimace.  Fear.

RICHARD    Scared to death?

EDWARD    Or scared at the moment of death.  Either way, it's no doubt he worked himself up into a state of absolute terror shortly before his demise.  His diary entries are clearly the result of a fantastic imagination aroused by certain local superstitions.

RICHARD    Local to here?

EDWARD    Providence. 

WARREN    [knowingly] Rhode Island.

EDWARD    Blake is - was a writer and painter devoted to the field of myth, dream, terror, and superstition--

RICHARD    Sounds like someone we know.  Hmm?

EDWARD    [sigh] His end began with a deserted church on Federal Hill.

WARREN    What denomination?

SOUND     PAPERS SHUFFLE

EDWARD    The notes don't say what it started as.  Probably doesn't matter.  It was bought and rededicated to something called the Starry Wisdom sect.

HERBERT    Starry Wisdom?  Astronomers?

EDWARD    [chuckles] There's definitely some star-gazing involved in their beliefs.

WARREN    [musing] Starry wisdom.... starry wisdom.... Hmm.  I've heard something about them.  [dismissive]  It will come to me.

EDWARD    He took up residence in Providence last winter, in the upper floor of a "venerable dwelling where huge, friendly cats sunned themselves atop a convenient shed".

HERBERT    He writes about cats?  [disparaging]  He was an only child, wasn't he?

EDWARD    [sigh]  He also writes a lot about the local architecture, but I'll skip that as well. 

BLAKE     My desk faces a window commanding a splendid view of the lower town's outspread roofs and the mystical sunsets that flame behind them.

HERBERT    [dismissive] Cats... and sunsets.

EDWARD    Some two miles away rose the spectral hump of Federal Hill.

BLAKE    [diary] I have a curious sense that I gaze out upon some unknown, ethereal world which might or might not vanish in dream if I ever tried to seek it out and enter it in person.

EDWARD    Blake settled down to write and paint.  During that first winter he produced five of his best-known short stories - The Burrower Beneath, The Stairs in the Crypt--

CHARLES    Oh, that was a corker.

HERBERT    You actually read this nonsense?

CHARLES    O'course.  Have a subscription and all.

EDWARD    Blake also painted seven canvases that season - studies of nameless, unhuman monsters, and profoundly alien, non-terrestrial landscapes.

RICHARD    My favorites.  If I do say so myself, though, I do better with....beings, while he should stick - have stuck - to exteriors.

EDWARD    But the church kept drawing his thoughts. 

BLAKE    At sunset the great tapering steeple loomed blackly against the flaming sky.

RICHARD    [speculative] Makes me wish I was more familiar with Providence.

EDWARD    Blake made his first and only pilgrimage to the building just before the aeon-shadowed Walpurgis time.

HERBERT    What?

WARREN    Also known as May eve.  Ostensibly, it's the festival of Saint Walpurga--

RICHARD    There's a name for you. 

CHARLES    What was she the saint of?

WARREN    Not my area.  But I say "ostensibly", since it was one of those pagan holidays that the church found they couldn't quite ever abolish, so they replaced it, figuring if the populace wanted a holy day, it might as well be a proper Catholic one.

RICHARD    And the pagan holiday it replaced?

WARREN    Beltane.  A spring fertility festival.  It was a counterpart to All Hallow's Eve - note that they fall on opposite ends of the calendar. 

RICHARD     The nights that witches fly! 

EDWARD    So he took a walk sometime in late April.

BLAKE    I noted the foreign signs over curious shops in brown, decade-weathered buildings. Now and then a battered church façade or crumbling spire came in sight, but never the blackened pile I sought.

EDWARD    It was like a labyrinth.  None of the streets went anywhere.  When he asked a shopkeeper about the church, the man's face blanched with fear, and Blake saw him make a curious sign with his right hand.

WARREN    Does it say what the sign looked like? Perhaps something like this?

CHARLES    Isn't that the same hand gesture you see in ancient paintings of sages and saints?

RICHARD    It appears often in Hindu art as well.

BLAKE    [cutting in] Suddenly a black spire stood out against the cloudy sky to the left. Twice I lost my way, but somehow dared not ask any help.

EDWARD    And then he was there.  In a wind-swept open square towered over by the grim bulk of the decrepit church.

BLAKE    I wondered how the panes of the gothic windows could have survived, in view of the known habits of small boys the world over.

WARREN    [laughing]  I think we all had our turn in our youth.  Why I remember--

CHARLES    Knee breeches and buckle shoes?  When you write your own reminiscences, and then die in a strange and terrifying way, then we can discuss it.  Go on, Edward.

EDWARD    It took Blake some time, both to clear the fence and to find a shiftable basement window, but finally he was inside.

BLAKE    The colossal nave was an almost eldritch place with its drifts of dust. Over all this hushed desolation played a hideous leaden light as the declining afternoon sun sent its rays through the strange, half-blackened panes of the great apsidal windows.

EDWARD    The stained glass windows seemed to give Blake a nervous moment - both because they were heavily encrusted with soot, and, in a more subtle way, from the subject matter.

BLAKE    The few saints depicted bore expressions distinctly open to criticism, while one of the windows seemed to show merely a dark space with spirals of curious luminosity scattered about in it.

RICHARD    "Open to criticism"?  That's all he said?  That conjures up far too many possibilities! 

EDWARD    That's all.

RICHARD    [frustrated noise]  Oh.  They could be cannibalistic, or lascivious, or cross-eyed.

EDWARD    Don't know.  In a rear room, Blake found shelves of mildewed, disintegrating books.

BLAKE     They were the black, forbidden things which most sane people have never even heard of, or have heard of only in furtive, timorous whispers.

EDWARD    You know the type.

WARREN    [avid] Oh, yes, but did he give any details?

EDWARD    There's a whole list - but it's not really germane to--

CHARLES    Resign yourself, dear boy.  Let Warren salivate a bit.

EDWARD    [sigh] Here.

SOUND    PAPER MOVES

WARREN    Excellent!  [musing]  Necronomicon, yes - ah, in Latin!  That would be the Vermius translation.

EDWARD    He also grabbed a small notebook filled with entries in some cryptic code.

WARREN    [muttering] The Liber Ivonis?  Sinister.  [chuckles]  Ah, the infamous Cultes des Goules of Comte d'Erlette--

HERBERT    [sigh, disdainful]  You sound like a zealot saying his rosaries - or whatever they say.

RICHARD    He sounds like a collector.

WARREN    [wistful]  If only.  [normal] But I must be satisfied caring for the collections of others.  Most of these books shouldn't be in the hands of any individual anyway.  They are much too--

RICHARD    Evil?

HERBERT    Evil is a construct of morality.

CHARLES    Oh, lord--

HERBERT    As is religion.

EDWARD    I don't think a book, at least, CAN be evil. You can only be evil if you have free will.

WARREN    Oh, now this is my field, and when I tell you the Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt, or old Ludvig Prinn's hellish De Vermis Mysteriis is an evil book, you may take my word.

SOUND    SNATCH OF PAPER

WARREN    [upset] Hey!

CHARLES    You may have it back at the end of class.

EVERYONE    [Chuckles]

EDWARD    So.  [looking for his place] Room full of creepy books, Blake takes the diary, goes upstairs.  Right.  Aha!

SOUND    SLAPS PAPER DOWN, WOOD BOX STARTS TO SHIFT.  A STRANGE CHIMING NOISE.  CATCH BOX

EDWARD    [gasp!] 

CHARLES    Oh!  Best watch that!

EDWARD    Yeah.

WARREN    What IS it?

CHARLES    [overly nonchalant] A box.  What does it look like?

EDWARD    [back to narration] Blake found a room upstairs, faintly lit by screened windows.  In one corner, a ladder led up to the closed trap door of the windowless steeple.

BLAKE    In the centre of the dust-laden floor rose a curiously angled stone pillar some four feet in height and two in diameter, covered on each side with bizarre, crudely incised and wholly unrecognizable hieroglyphs.

EDWARD     On this pillar rested a metal box of peculiarly asymmetrical form--

RICHARD    [knowing] Ah.  Boxes.

HERBERT    "Asymmetrical"?  Nothing more specific?

EDWARD    That's all his notes say--

HERBERT    How unspecific.  Asymmetrical merely means lacking in symmetry, which in turn means without any axis you could draw which would create a mirror image one side to the other.

EDWARD    Huh?

CHARLES    Symmetrical means the same on both sides--

HERBERT    [correcting] Mirror image on both sides.

CHARLES    Right.  So, for instance your face is symmetrical--

HERBERT    No human face is perfectly symmetrical.  Nothing lines up exactly if you look close enough.

CHARLES    Roughly symmetrical, then.  You have an eye on each side of a nose, which has two nostrils to balance one another, and so on.

WARREN     So as a way to picture an asymmetrical face, you might have an eye down on the jawline, and the nose up at the temple?

CHARLES    Only if there wasn't a comparable eye and nose to match on the other side of the face.

HERBERT    So was this box only as asymmetrical as a typical face, or was it grossly unbalanced?

EDWARD    Uh... the notes just say asymmetrical.

HERBERT    [annoyed sigh]  Laymen.

EDWARD    That box isn't important anyway - it's long gone.  But what it held...

BLAKE    Beneath decade-deep dust was an egg-shaped or irregularly spherical object some four inches through.

HERBERT    [starting again] Irregularly spherical?

CHARLES    Oh, not again!

EDWARD    The four-inch irregular sphere turned out, once the dust was gone, to be a nearly black, red-striated polyhedron with many irregular flat surfaces; either a very remarkable crystal of some sort or an artificial object of carved and highly polished mineral matter.

HERBERT    Crystals form naturally according to--

CHARLES    Hush! 

HERBERT    Hmph.

EDWARD    [placating] So it was carved that way.  Good point.

BLAKE    Once exposed, it exerted an almost alarming fascination. I could scarcely tear my eyes from it. 

EDWARD    But he did.  I mean, he must have, since he notes there was something else in the room.  Or, should I say, someone?  In the far corner, right at the foot of the ladder, was a hump of dust--

BLAKE    Hand and handkerchief soon revealed a human skeleton. I examined a reporter's badge, a celluloid advertising calendar for 1893, some cards with the name "Edwin M. Lillibridge", and a paper covered with pencilled memoranda.

EDWARD    Blake copied the text into his diary, for fear the paper would eventually crumble away to nothing.

CHARLES    I think I'll have another--

SOUND    SHIFT OF BOX

EDWARD    [a little too vehement] Not that box!  I mean, the candy is in YOUR box. Over there.

CHARLES    [bit of a smirk] Oh.  How forgetful of me.

WARREN    What is it with the boxes? 

RICHARD    [knowing laugh]

EDWARD    The notes were typical journalistic jottings, a list of dates and events - all involving the church.  From "Prof. Enoch Bowen home from Egypt May 1844 - buys Church in July" the notes list a number of instances of people speaking or acting against Starry Wisdom, and finally, in April 1877, a number of members were apparently run out of town for their "beliefs."

WARREN    Ah!  THAT's what I've been trying to remember!  Starry Wisdom, indeed.  Weren't they accused of human sacrifice?

EDWARD    The notes do list a number of disappearances attributed to them.  Here, see for yourself.

SOUND    PAPER BEING PASSED

HERBERT    [dryly sarcastic] Because, of course, no one ever leaves home of their own accord.

CHARLES    The community around was mostly catholic.  Pretty tightly knit.

RICHARD    Tightly wound, too, from the sound of it.  Here it says that a mob of "Irish boys" - shouldn’t that be "lads"? - attacked the church, but it doesn't say what came of it.

EDWARD    The locals assumed whatever was going on was devil worship.  That's certainly why Lillibridge broke in.

BLAKE    They say the Shining Trapezohedron shows them heaven and other worlds, and that the Haunter of the Dark tells them secrets.

HERBERT    Did Lillibridge fall off the ladder?  That could easily snap a man's neck, given enough height, or the proper trajectory. 

EDWARD    The cause was ... uncertain.

BLAKE    I stooped over the gleaming bones. Some of them were badly scattered, and a few seemed oddly ...dissolved at the ends. The skull was in a very peculiar state - stained yellow, and with a charred aperture in the top as if some powerful acid had eaten through the solid bone.

EDWARD    Before he realized it, Blake found himself staring at the trapezohedron again, and letting its curious influence call up images in his head.

BLAKE    [very spooky] And beyond all else I glimpsed an infinite gulf of darkness, where solid and semisolid forms were known only by their windy stirrings, and cloudy patterns of force seemed to superimpose order on chaos and hold forth a key to all the paradoxes and arcana of the worlds we know.

HERBERT    [disgusted] Purple prose.

RICHARD    It's very evocative.

WARREN    There are certain primitive tribes who ingest drugs to glimpse just such visions.

CHARLES    Not another--

WARREN    No, really, I was just about to say that if there was some item that caused "visions", it could easily have become the central focus of a religious cabal.

CHARLES    Good and concise.

WARREN     If I was gong to wax on, it would be to draw a comparison to the myth of Pandora, or some other famous myth regarding the dangers of curiosity.

CHARLES    Well, thank goodness you restrained yourself.

EDWARD    Blake finally managed to pull himself away.  Probably noticed the day was waning, and he hadn't thought to bring a torch.

BLAKE    It was then, in the gathering twilight, that I thought I saw a faint trace of luminosity in the crazily angled stone. Was there a subtle phosphorescence of radio-activity about the thing?

HERBERT    Finally something I can grasp.  Radio-activity is a concrete scientific essence, and could easily be the source of any number of superstitious explanations.

CHARLES    If it comes up again, we'll consult you.

BLAKE    I seized the cover of the long-open box and snapped it down. At the sharp click of that closing, a soft stirring sound seemed to come from the steeple's eternal blackness overhead, beyond the trap-door.

EDWARD    That finally frightened him, and he plunged wildly out into the street, running all the way home.

CHARLES    Didn't get lost this time?

WARREN    [wistful] I don't suppose the church is still there - you said this all happened fairly recently?

EDWARD    It burned down the day after Blake's death. 

WARREN    Blast.  Evil or not, those books are a great loss to the general body of human knowledge.

EDWARD    During the days which followed, Blake did a lot of research, and worked feverishly at the cryptogram in the notebook.

CHARLES    I do like a good cryptogram. 

EDWARD    He says he solved the code in June, but didn't bother to include an actual translation in here. There are sketchy references to a "Haunter of the Dark" that could be awakened by someone gazing into the Shining Trapezohedron.

RICHARD    You mean, just as he had looked into it?

EDWARD    And he clearly believed that he had inadvertently summoned it.

WARREN    Hah!  Like Pandora - letting the cat out of the bag, or rather the monsters out of the box.

RICHARD    He didn't open the box.  Just gazed into the stone.  The box was already open.

WARREN    A metaphorical opening of the way, then - still amounts to the same thing.

HERBERT    Some creature from an undefined place regarded this stone as what - the operator on its personal telephone exchange?

EDWARD    He felt like it was just watching for its chance to walk abroad.  He also notes, however, that the streetlights seemed to keep it trapped - forming a bulwark of light against its escape.

WARREN    Throughout history, light has been the enemy of evil.  Whether it's sunlight causing harm to a shade or the reversion to human of a lycanthrope with the dawn.

RICHARD    And ghosts don't walk around by day - it would fade their sheets.

EDWARD    Blake writes a lot about the Shining Trapezohedron, calling it a window on all time and space, and trying to trace its largely unbelievable history.

HERBERT    Unbelievable?

EDWARD    Brought from some other sphere or planet by some elder race.

HERBERT    Hmph.  That's just superstitious claptrap repackaged for a modern age.  Any number of objects have fallen to earth with origins clearly outside what we think of as the normal world. 

RICHARD    I heard about a meteor up north that had some quite terrible effects.

HERBERT    And yet, they have no root in "evil", beyond what we attribute to them.  Science doesn't shy away the way religion does.  We don't just hang a sign on it that says "here there be dragons" and nervously turn our backs.  Science grows to encompass new information. 

RICHARD    [snide] Like an amoeba absorbs its food?

HERBERT    [thinks, then] Hmm.  I suppose that's one way of picturing it.

WARREN    Or water flowing into a series of newly-dug irrigation trenches.

CHARLES    [prompting] Realms "beyond"?

EDWARD    Blake seemed to think that the only way to banish the evil was to bury the stone and let daylight into the steeple.

SOUND    PICKS UP AND OPENS BOX, THEN SHUTS IT AGAIN QUICKLY

EDWARD    At the same time, however, Blake goes on at some length about his morbid longing to gaze again into the cosmic secrets of the glowing stone.

HERBERT    Impressionable people should stay out of certain fields of endeavor. 

RICHARD    Oh? 

HERBERT    People with fragile minds are better left to the arts than to science, or investigations into the unknown.

RICHARD    I'll have you know that Art can be a terrible wretch of a mistress.

HERBERT    With science, you can work your entire life, and never get a single word of encouragement.

WARREN    Academia is entirely indifferent to any of us who toil in her fields.

RICHARD    At least your field moves forward slowly enough that by the time someone proves your theory wrong, you've been dead long enough to be an exhibit yourself.

CHARLES    Shall we put them in opposite corners, or have them construct essays on their misconduct?

EDWARD    There aren't enough corners, even in YOUR house.

RICHARD    My apologies. 

HERBERT    Hmph.

WARREN    So sorry.  Pray go on.

EDWARD    The morning of July 17, something in the paper really set Blake off.  During the night, a storm had put the city's lighting-system out for a full hour.

CHARLES    I'll bet that didn't go over well.

EDWARD    The superstitious locals ran mad.  They surrounded the old church, brandishing candles and lamps.

WARREN    A vigil.

EDWARD    And shuddered at the horrible noises coming from within.

CHARLES    I know a few buildings I regard that way.

EDWARD    Soon after, in daytime, reporters broke in and found the dust within was all churned up. There was also a bad odour everywhere, and here and there were bits of yellow stain and patches of what looked like charring.

HERBERT    Similar to the bones?  Did anyone ever run any scientific tests on any of this residue?

EDWARD    Not that I have any note on.  The reporters  noted the stone pillar, but the metal box and the old mutilated skeleton were not mentioned.

WARREN    Hmm.  Gone, or simply overlooked?

HERBERT    The newspapers love to print prurient details.

CHARLES    How prurient is a rock in a box?

EDWARD    From this point onwards Blake's diary shows a mounting tide of horror and apprehension. He frantically telephoned the electric light company more than once, asking - even demanding - that desperate precautions be taken to avoid another loss of power.

BLAKE    My worst fears concerned the unholy rapport I felt existed between my mind and that lurking horror in the distant steeple- that monstrous thing of night which my rashness had called out of the ultimate black spaces.

CHARLES    Sounds like he should have invested his last dollar in safety lanterns.

RICHARD    And a trip to the tropics!

EDWARD    People calling on him at the time remember how he would sit and stare out of the west window.  He spoke often of strange dreams - not nightmares, precisely, but eerily similar to the vision he'd had when gazing into the stone. 

WARREN    Sounds almost like shellshock.  The way memories come back to haunt soldiers.

EDWARD    It got worse.  He kept stout cords near his bed so he could bind his ankles at night to prevent himself from somnambulism.

CHARLES    I had a friend had to do that once.  If the struggle to get out of bed didn't waken him, the falling flat on his face certainly would.

BLAKE    I thought often of the ancient legends of Ultimate Chaos, at whose centre sprawls the blind idiot god Azathoth, Lord of All Things, encircled by his flopping horde of mindless and amorphous dancers, and lulled by the thin monotonous piping of a demoniac flute held in nameless paws.

WARREN    Azathoth!  Now there's a name to conjure with!  Or not to...  preferably.  [winding down] Probably best not to mention it at all.

EDWARD    The night of the 30th, Blake came to suddenly, finding himself in a horribly familiar darkened space.  A panic flight ensued, leaving him senseless until morning.

CHARLES    Are you saying he managed to sleepwalk all the way across town?

EDWARD    Well, the next morning he found himself lying on his study floor fully dressed. Dirt and cobwebs covered him, and every inch of his body sore and bruised. He writes that his hair was badly scorched, and a trace of a strange evil odour clung to his clothing. It was then that his nerves broke down.

RICHARD    I think he was overdue. 

HERBERT    While I don't understand the phenomena of sleepwalking, I do accept that it occurs.

CHARLES    How big of you.

HERBERT    But while one might walk in such a fugue-like state, would one take such niceties as getting dressed into consideration?

WARREN    It's probably much like a state of mesmerism.  One does what one is told to so.

HERBERT    But if no one told him--

CHARLES    Should be obvious.  We've all been told enough times in our lives not to go outside without a jacket. 

EVERYONE    [general laughter]

EDWARD    August eighth.  The great storm broke just before midnight. Lightning struck in all parts of the city, and a couple of remarkable fireballs were reported.  Blake was utterly frantic and recorded everything in his diary-

HERBERT    Did he write that he was frantic?

RICHARD    He was the type to record everything.

EDWARD    It was more the tone of the things he did write, but his handwriting is very telling, too.  See?

SOUND    PAPERS PASS

CHARLES    Interesting.

SOUND    PAPERS PASS

WARREN    Ah.  Yes.  The way it changes - getting bigger, and less readable. 

RICHARD    Also harder to write once the lights go out.

EDWARD    That hadn't happened - yet.  See, he's still fretting over it right here.  "The lights must not go";

BLAKE    "It knows where I am";

EDWARD    "I must destroy it"; and

BLAKE    "it is calling to me, but perhaps it means no injury this time";

EDWARD    --are found scattered down two of the pages.  Ending with--

BLAKE    "Lights out- God help me."

EDWARD    At 2.35 the noises at the steeple swelled.  Then, a sound of splintering wood and a large, heavy object crashed down in the yard beneath the frowning easterly façade.

RICHARD    Where were the praying multitude?

EDWARD    Right there.  Whom do you think was left to tell the tale?  In fact, just as the "escape" was made, with a vibration as of flapping wings, a sudden east-blowing wind snatched off hats and wrenched dripping umbrellas from the crowd.

CHARLES    Dousing all the tiny pinpricks of the candles?

HERBERT    Quite literally, if the downpour was that prodigious.

EDWARD    They must have managed to get some of their lights relit, for they remained at their posts.  The rain didn't stop for another half hour, and shortly after that, the electric lights came back on. 

WARREN    You have quite a comprehensive narration, considering the burden of fear the watchers must have been laboring under.

EDWARD    The papers gave these matters minor mention in connection with the general storm reports.  I suspect reporters, being what they are, were present during the events.

RICHARD    [chuckling] Perhaps someone writing sensational fiction dropped in for a cold chill.

EDWARD    The one thing that baffled press and meteorologists alike was a lone lightning-bolt that seemed to have struck somewhere in Blake's neighborhood, though no trace of its striking could afterwards be found.

CHARLES    Until--?

EDWARD    Precisely.  When a policeman forced the door, Blake's rigid body sat bolt upright at his desk by the window, with glassy, bulging eyes, and the look of stark, convulsive fright on his twisted features!  They were reportedly quite sickened.

RICHARD    Police are such delicate flowers.  Always being sickened by things.

HERBERT    Looking at such damage objectively, a face of fear is much the same as a face in pain, it's all in the attribution the onlooker gives to the damage--

EDWARD    The coroner's physician made an examination, and despite the unbroken window, reported the death as the result of electrical shock, or rather nervous tension induced by electrical discharge.

HERBERT    Electricity is not an entirely understood element, even now.  New possibilities and capabilities are being discovered every day.  I've often thought myself that electricity might be the key to, say, restarting a stopped heart.

CHARLES    If you don't want a stopped heart yourself, Herbert, pray let Edward finish.  We're nearly to a conclusion, if I don't miss my guess.  I think I'll turn out the electric lights.  Leave us in the dark like Blake.  Edward can keep the candle.

SOUND    GETS UP, LIGHTS CLICK OFF

EDWARD    There isn't really a nice convenient ending, just another, larger question mark.  Blake prolonged his frenzied jottings to the last.  In fact, the broken-pointed pencil was found clutched in his spasmodically contracted right hand.

WARREN    Spontaneous rigor.  Not uncommon in cases of sudden, catastrophic death.  Leads to the so-called "death grip" of detective fiction.

EDWARD    The entries after the failure of the lights were highly disjointed, and legible only in part.

BLAKE    Lights still out - must be five minutes now. Everything depends on lightning. Yaddith grant it will keep up!...

HERBERT    Yaddith?

WARREN    Some ancient deity I'm not familiar with.

BLAKE    Some influence seems beating through it... Rain and thunder and wind deafen... The thing is taking hold of my mind... What am I afraid of? Is it not an avatar of Nyarlathotep, who in antique and shadowy Khem even took the form of man?

WARREN    Ah, Nyarlathotep, the mysterious "dark man" who can take many forms.

BLAKE    The long, winging flight through the void... cannot cross the universe of light... re-created by the thoughts caught in the Shining Trapezohedron... send it through the horrible abysses of radiance...

RICHARD    Lost his mind completely.

EDWARD    I think he agreed with you.

BLAKE    My name is Blake- Robert Harrison Blake of 620 East Knapp Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin... I am on this planet...

CHARLES    As if he was trying to find his way home.

BLAKE    Azathoth have mercy!- the lightning no longer flashes- horrible- I can see everything with a monstrous sense that is not sight- light is dark and dark is light... I am it and it is I - I want to get out... must get out and unify the forces... it knows where I am... I am Robert Blake, but I see the tower in the dark. There is a monstrous odour... senses transfigured... boarding at that tower window cracking and giving way... Iä... ngai... ygg... I see it - coming here - hell-wind - titan blue - black wing - Yog Sothoth save me - the three-lobed burning eye...

[after a moment]

WARREN    [sigh wistfully] I can almost smell the sulphuric tang.

HERBERT    I certainly can.  Something must be burning.

CHARLES    [over-innocent] Burning?  Nonsense.

RICHARD    There is definitely a smell.

EDWARD    [teasing] Someone here just couldn't stand the suspense, could you, Richard?

RICHARD    Moi?

HERBERT    Suspense?

EDWARD    It wasn't a very good joke, but the box - this box - contained just enough sulfur to make a good pong if anyone got nosy and opened it to see if I really had the shining trapezohedron.

WARREN    I suppose that, much like Pandora, there are certain things that you can never quite get back into a box. 

END

More episodes from "19 Nocturne Boulevard"

  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    19 Nocturne Boulevard - Lovecraft 5: THE VIEW FROM WITHIN - Reissue

    32:38

    Adapted by Julie Hoverson from a story by H.P. Lovecraft. Cast List Richard - Philemon Vanderbeck Edward - Bryan Hendrickson Charles - Michael Coleman (Tales of the Extraordinary) Warren - Glen Hallstrom Herbert - Carl Cubbedge Auguste - Reynaud LeBoeuf Music by Kevin MacLeod       (Incompetech.com) Editing and Sound:   Julie Hoverson Cover Design:  Brett Coulstock [cover art attributions] "What kind of a place is it? Why it's an artist's loft, can't you tell?" ************************************************************************** The View from Within Cast: Richard, artist Charles, wealthy dilettante Herbert, scientist Warren, professor Edward, pulp writer Auguste, visitor OLIVIA     What do you mean, what kind of a place is it? Why, it's an artist's loft, can't you tell? MUSIC SOUND    FOOTSTEPS RECEDE, ECHOES RICHARD    [calling out] Thanks - ever so! SOUND    DOOR SHUTS RICHARD    You have to love a restaurant that will send orders out. EDWARD    Smells delicious. I suppose we should... wait? RICHARD    Take a breadstick. No one needs to know. EDWARD    [chewing] From one starving artist to another, my stomach thanks you. RICHARD    [chuckles] SOUND    KNOCK ON DOOR RICHARD    Aha! SOUND    FEET, DOOR OPENS WARREN    Oh! This is-- ah! It is the right place, then? RICHARD    Either that, or we're all lost together. WARREN    [dubious] Oh? EDWARD    [off] Don't confuse the poor academic! Invite him in! RICHARD    Come in, then. WARREN    Ah. This is the first time-- RICHARD    Welcome to my studio.  I don't usually have much company.  Through here. SOUND    FOOTSTEPS WARREN    It is a bit out of the way. RICHARD    Just be happy we're not meeting in the basement. EDWARD    Oh, why? RICHARD    [chuckles slightly] Mildew.  Though the atmosphere is most ... stimulating. WARREN    I'm rather surprised the building is still standing. RICHARD    It's an antique. WARREN    More like a relic. SOUND    KNOCK AT DOOR RICHARD    Any bets on who's next? EDWARD    Heads or tails? HERBERT    [off] Open the door! EDWARD    Tails. RICHARD    [snickers] [up, trying not to laugh] I'm coming. SOUND    FEET RETREAT WARREN    Good thing Richard knows how to give directions - I'd hate to be lost in such a decrepit and forbidding part of town. EDWARD    Don't tell anyone, but I wrote them. His were needlessly labyrinthine. No one would have found this place in time. WARREN    Dinner would have gone cold? EDWARD    Weather would have gone cold. SOUND    FOOTSTEPS ENTER HERBERT    You wouldn't believe the types of fungi that can grow in the plaster and wood in buildings this ancient. I suggest a thorough going over with Listerine, possibly followed by razing it to the ground. RICHARD    [laughs] You modern-minded scientists. Can't see the value of anything lacking in hygiene unless it's in a Petri dish. WARREN    Culture isn't born in a day. HERBERT    It might be - in a Petri dish. RICHARD    Sit. Relax. I suppose we could commence eating if Charles isn't-- SOUND    KNOCK ON DOOR RICHARD    But... he is. Back in a moment. SOUND    FEET RECEDE HERBERT    [sigh] Fire trap. EDWARD    What? HERBERT    These old gambrel-roofed buildings. The attic framing is particularly susceptible to the flow of air. WARREN    Well, I doubt that it will go up tonight. EDWARD    And I doubt that a going over with lister's formula will make it any less flammable. HERBERT    Did Richard say anything about this story of his? WARREN    Only that he felt it an impenetrable mystery. HERBERT    It had better be something a bit more engaging than a plebian crime drama. That's no entertainment for a thinking man. EDWARD    You didn't come just for the food? [bites a breadstick] I certainly did. CHARLES    [coming in] Did I hear someone mention a thinking man? WARREN    That would be Herbert. EDWARD    Neither of us is inclined to think at all - if there isn't an immediate need. WARREN    Of course I think - I'm always-- CHARLES    Buried in the college library. Absorbing. EDWARD    Rather like a sponge. HERBERT    [snort of laughter] So there's only one thinking man present. CHARLES    I beg to differ. May I introduce a friend? EDWARD    What? I thought this was a secret society! WARREN    Is it? I thought it was dinner. CHARLES    Don't matter. As he's in town for just the fortnight, Richard said I might bring him along. Particularly with a mystery in hand. EDWARD    Aren't mysteries "afoot"? RICHARD    [agreeing] Plenty of food, though it looks like the breadsticks are going fast. AUGUSTE    [chuckle] CHARLES    So. These are my cronies - Warren there in the tweed; Edward with the glasses; Herbert - well, he's Herbert. And you met Richard at the door. AUGUSTE    Enchante'. CHARLES    And this, to all you rabble, is monsieur Auguste, an old friend of the family. WARREN    French? AUGUSTE    Oui. Do not discompose yourself. My English is quite fair. CHARLES    My father met Auguste when he was overseas. They always figured on meeting up again and trading some yarns. AUGUSTE    "Yarns"? CHARLES    Stories. AUGUSTE    Ah. Oui. I am a great one for the recounting of the stories. WARREN    But - but it's Richard's turn tonight! EDWARD    I see why you let him in! Cheater. HERBERT    You're not getting out of it that easily! RICHARD    I'm not getting out of anything, but there's no reason we can't allow such an "august" visitor a morsel of our time. My story can wait until we're onto the cigars. EDWARD    If they're half the size of your breadsticks, we might be here all night. MUSIC RICHARD    So, monsieur Auguste. You don't mind our informality? AUGUSTE    I have lived a rather - bohemian - life, myself. If I was to be precise in the naming of names, you should all address me as "sir". WARREN    You aren’t that much older than-- AUGUSTE    No, no! Pardon. It is the title, yes? I have the honorific of Chevalier - a knight, I think, en Anglais. EDWARD    A knight? Really? Do you have a sword and a horse and everything? WARREN    [disgusted sigh] Pardon Edward. He's the product of our public school system, and thus is oblivious of the niceties of history. RICHARD    And you were a bohemian in Paris? [wistful sigh] there's no better place for it. AUGUSTE    C'est vrai. True. EDWARD    Aren't you some sort of consulting detective? AUGUSTE    Mais non. At best, I would call myself a dilettante. My friend and I simply found ourselves in the path of a crime or two in our day. I analyse. I correlate. I also am willing to accept things that others might assume are impossible. WARREN    Impossible? Nonsense. Things must be either possible or impossible. HERBERT    Not really. The bounds of the possible are enlarged every year by my fellow scientists. CHARLES    [teasing] I thought you of all people would be defending the "bounds of the possible". HERBERT    Every impossibility is like a lock. Once you find the right key, the door opens, and the boundary enlarges. AUGUSTE    Though I comprehend you are speaking of science, I am of the same mind. Trying key after key, any door will eventually open, even if there is a century of keys. MUSIC SOUND    MATCH STRIKES RICHARD    [puffing] So. Replete? WARREN    That was quite delicious. How did you get anything like that delivered here? RICHARD    Generous tipping. [chuckles] EDWARD    Is anyone else chilly? [1 shivers] I feel a bit of a draft. RICHARD    High ceilings and large windows. Good for painting, terrible for heating. Have some more brandy, that should warm you up. CHARLES    You call this brandy? RICHARD    The rum-runner I bought it from assures me-- CHARLES    Hmm. It's almost the right color, but the resemblance is less than skin deep. RICHARD    Let's agree I buy for effect, not refinement. HERBERT    Seeing your house, I can understand that. RICHARD    And we come full circle. [sigh] My story begins at the house of a friend. I'll call her Mavis-- EDWARD    Mavis? A romance? RICHARD    [dismissive] A patron. She'd just come into an inheritance, including a large manor out in the country. It hadn't been lived in for a while, and needed tending, but money can go a long way toward fixing any neglect. CHARLES    My father would agree. RICHARD    So, in the clearing out of the picturesque dilapidation, several outbuildings were uncovered. HERBERT    This is your story? They trimmed the lawn and found a shed? EDWARD    How... bucolic. RICHARD    I'm simply trying to include any details you might need later to arrive at the conclusion to this mystery. AUGUSTE    Perhaps, if I may, you could recount us the mystery first, and the details to follow. WARREN    That wouldn't be precisely methodical, would it? HERBERT    Under normal circumstances, I would abhor one who settles on a hypothesis first and then aims all his tests to achieving that end and only that end. But for the purposes of entertainment-- RICHARD    Right. Mystery first. Bare bones. The house was beautifully restored, mansard to masonry, and Mavis was hosting her first house party. She had invited some three dozen of her closest friends, secured a small orchestra, and was inaugurating the newly sprung ballroom floor. EDWARD    [humming a waltz] CHARLES    Leave off. EDWARD    Just trying to help with atmosphere! RICHARD    I had stepped out to look over some portraits unearthed in the attic. Mavis was most anxious for my opinion as to their provenance-- HERBERT    [bored] Ah? Stolen paintings? Is that it? AUGUSTE    [superior] Do not judge your eggs before they are cracked. EDWARD    Yeah, don't crack so early, Herbert. RICHARD    Screams. EDWARD    [mock scream] RICHARD    [ignoring him] Screams erupted from the ballroom. From the sound of it, there was nothing less than a wildfire or militia attack in the offing. CHARLES    Ah. RICHARD    I left my hostess in the portrait room. EDWARD    [suggestively] Aaah. RICHARD    Ahem. I made my way to the ballroom, much hampered by the press of people running the other direction-- EDWARD    Towards the "portrait room"? RICHARD    --in a mad panic. By the time I reached the ballroom, it was an empty shell. Chairs were tipped, glass on the floor from shattered tumblers, and some very strange tracks. HERBERT    [after a pause] And? RICHARD    That is the mystery. You didn't want any piddling extraneous details. HERBERT    You expect us to reach some sort of conclusion from this? RICHARD    What would you do if this was one of your experiments? HERBERT    I would run a series of tests. But that hardly applies here-- AUGUSTE    If I may beg to differ? RICHARD    Hmm? How? AUGUSTE    [small chuckle] In the case of ratiocination, the tests that would be run are the interview of the witnesses, and examination of the scene-- WARREN    That's a bit far to go for a story. AUGUSTE    Bien. So we must settle for the interview of the singular witness, notre vieux Richard here. You, sir, are our window on the tale. CHARLES    But - but how would that work? AUGUSTE    Why not make of it a game? Each takes it in his turn to ask a question, to be answered to the best of Monsieur Richard's knowledge. Bien? CHARLES    Sounds rather entertaining, really. AUGUSTE    You can learn a great deal about any man from the way he plays even the simplest of games. EDWARD    I might have an edge for once, what with my newspaper experience. RICHARD    Obituaries? Hmm. You might at that. HERBERT    It's hardly scientific method. WARREN    I'm game, who begins? RICHARD    I think widdershins would be appropriate. That means Edward starts it off. EDWARD    Well. One question. I'm caught rather flat-footed. CHARLES    Treat him like one of the characters in your stories. EDWARD    I generally try to avoid talking to them. People find it unnerving. Very well. My question, to start this all off - do you have an answer to your own puzzle? RICHARD    [laughs] I have an answer that satisfies me. WARREN    Would it hold up in a court of law? RICHARD    No. Next question. WARREN    That wasn't my-- RICHARD    You should speak more carefully, then. Next? HERBERT    Describe the tracks you found. RICHARD    Is that a question? HERBERT    [sigh] What did the tracks look like? Detail please. RICHARD    Of course. They were muddy footprints with a rather recognizable configuration to the shape of the heel. HERBERT    So definitely a person? RICHARD    While I could say "ask that one next time round", instead I'll merely point out that I know very few animals that wear man made boots. EDWARD    [laughs] I should write that one down. Charles? CHARLES    Yessss. [Hmm, thinking] Was the culprit a member of the party? RICHARD    No. Completely uninvited. CHARLES    Ah well. Monsieur? AUGUSTE    [satisfied with himself] Did the tracks merely enter the room and then come to a halt, or did they appear to have a specific terminus? WARREN    Ah! You think someone at the party was the object, rather than the instigator, of the ... intrusion? RICHARD    Shush Warren. You've had your turn. The prints meandered through the room, though they showed no sign of purpose. AUGUSTE    And a terminus? Or must that be a separate question? RICHARD    [consternation] Oh. A second question, I'm afraid. AUGUSTE    It is nothing, I will wait. EDWARD    Back to me, then... Hmm... Could I ask his question? RICHARD    I suppose you could ask him. EDWARD    [to Auguste] Could I? Oh, no! Wait - wait I have one. Where did the footsteps come from - I mean outside, obviously, but did you or anyone happen to follow them back to their source? HERBERT    That's two questions. EDWARD    No! Is it? RICHARD    I'm making a ruling - if a question is a compound, I'll answer whichever parts suits me. In this case, yes. Come morning, we followed the footsteps. EDWARD    B-but I asked where they came from? RICHARD    But you also asked if we followed them. And I answered yes. WARREN    Hold on! I'll ask where they originated from. RICHARD    Very well. We followed them back to the family burial plot behind the house. EDWARD    Really? CHARLES    [laughing] Watch out! He'll take that as your next question. HERBERT    Where did the tracks go? EDWARD    Into the cemetery! Don't waste a perfectly good question! HERBERT    No. Richard said they came from the cemetery. Where did they go upon leaving the house again? CHARLES    Ah. RICHARD    Clever. But the answer is the same. They returned to the graveyard. CHARLES    [after a beat] Oh! Me. Well, someone must have seen the intruder. What did they say he looked like? I mean it was a man, wasn't it? RICHARD    [tiny chuckle] Everyone described the intruder as male. CHARLES    But what did it-- [getting it, then rueful] Ah. I posed two questions, didn't I? RICHARD    [gleeful] Oh, yes. CHARLES    [to self] Must be more careful. AUGUSTE    [to Charles] Do not fret yourself, mon ami. [up] How are the grounds laid out in relation to the house and the road? RICHARD    That’s-- [thinking] ... that's-- HERBERT    But a single question. RICHARD    [laughing] You've got me. Here, I'll show you. SOUND    RUSTLE OF ITEMS IN TRAY, SOUND OF DRAWING RICHARD    This is the road, crossing the bottom, turning roughly... north I think. [pauses to draw] The house is here, with a gate, and a drive, thus. AUGUSTE    And the burial place? RICHARD    You specified the grounds. Not the structures. WARREN    I don't know that a cemetery constitutes a structure per se. AUGUSTE    No, no. It will wait. EDWARD    I would love to ask for that, but I already have a question in mind. AUGUSTE    It will wait. EDWARD    Good. All right. SOUND    PAPER FLIPS RICHARD    You're taking notes? EDWARD    I'm working out my question so I don't blunder again. RICHARD    [laughs] HERBERT    How ...methodical. EDWARD    Yes, well, I can be as tiresome as you, if I try hard enough. RICHARD    The question? EDWARD    You say the footprints went into the graveyard -that's not my question, just the premise - here it is: Which way did they go beyond the graveyard? RICHARD    Nowhere. EDWARD    Huh? RICHARD    We found no footprints beyond the graveyard. EDWARD    So this fellow wanders off into the graves and flies off into space? WARREN    Shh. It's my question now. RICHARD    Good. WARREN    Hmm. Hold on. Perhaps I should take my questions down too. It's hard to see the flaws when a question is only behind your eyes. CHARLES    Too true. WARREN    [determined sigh] Is the ground around and outside the cemetery the type of ground that would show marks of, say, a horse? RICHARD    Hmm. I'll have to equivocate and say - I saw no marks of a horse. All right? HERBERT    Is this supposed to be a mystery or a ghost story? CHARLES    That's hardly a fair question. RICHARD    It's at least a very difficult one. Hmm. I suppose the absolute truth would be neither, but I don't want to give the wrong impression. So I will say simply that no one claimed to have seen a ghost. CHARLES    [musing] But it's not really a mystery either - Don't answer! Just musing. Hmm... The plot thickens. EDWARD    Come on, Charles! WARREN    Don't pester. CHARLES    Did you ever see the ... culprit? RICHARD    I was in the portrait room. CHARLES    I didn’t ask if you saw the incident - but if you ever saw the culprit. RICHARD    Ahh. Hmm. Yes, at some point, I saw the one that I believe was the "culprit". CHARLES    Well, at least he didn't vanish off the face of the earth. RICHARD    [almost laughing] More or less. AUGUSTE    [chuckling] More or less. RICHARD    You sound like a man who knows something. AUGUSTE    I know many things. I do not yet know you well enough to know what you are thinking, but I can already see - yes - when you are thinking, or rather when you are forced to think. Some questions merely amuse you, while others - others force you to consider carefully the words to use. EDWARD    Oh I get it, instead of noting the answers, you're watching the speaker. AUGUSTE    As with any game. Chess, par example, is not won by the player who watches only the board. It is not the board that one is playing against. RICHARD    [offhanded] Amusing. But let's get on with your question - unless all this is just your way of buying time to think? AUGUSTE    [chuckle] No. I have had plenty of time to think. I do not wish to ask the obvious question. EDWARD    What is it? I'll ask it! AUGUSTE    [tsks] Think of what hasn't been answered fully. [up] Mon question then, apart from the footprints, was there any other disturbance of the ground anywhere that you looked? EDWARD    What? Even if you didn’t want to ask an obvious question, you didn’t need to throw one away on-- CHARLES    Shh. Let him answer. RICHARD    [serious] Oh. Um...No. AUGUSTE    [as if this is very important] Aah. WARREN    It's almost as if they're speaking in ciphers. What are we missing? EDWARD    I don't know. [annoyed] How obvious IS this question? Ask what hasn't been fully answered, indeed. HERBERT     [smug] I know what it is. EDWARD    What? HERBERT    Find your own question. It's all a matter of organized thinking. Having an eidetic memory helps. RICHARD    It is your turn, Edward. EDWARD    The ground wasn't disturbed? What kind of clue is that - and that's not my question! RICHARD    [almost laughing] Of course not! EDWARD    It's rhetorical. Oh, hell. I'm drawing a blank. Here - did the intruder break anything at the house? RICHARD    [thinking] Well... No one ever said the intruder broke anything, and there was no sign of it. AUGUSTE    And yet things were broken. Your initial description was very clear on that point. RICHARD    Yes, but that all happened during the general state of panic. WARREN    I don't believe it's your turn, sir! AUGUSTE    And I did not ask a question. RICHARD    [laughing] ohhh. You sly dog, you. AUGUSTE    [amused shrug] eh bien. My apologies for interrupting the proper order of things. EDWARD    Hit him with a good one, warren! WARREN    [still trying to figure it out] something that hasn't been fully answered... Oh! What about - Auguste, you asked something about where the footprints inside went - but it was two questions. RICHARD    Well-- WARREN    Ssh! My question then is where did the footprints go, once inside the house. Be specific. AUGUSTE    This may be of great interest. RICHARD    You have to picture the room like this-- SOUND    SCRIBBLING RICHARD    This entire wall was windows, including the one the intruder entered through. The orchestra was here, at the back. Hallways lead off here, and here. And there were a few tables. SOUND    A FEW MORE PENCIL SWOOPS RICHARD    There's no way to know who was where when the intrusion began, but the footprints started here and made a long loop this way-- HERBERT    That's an arc. A loop requires closure. RICHARD    --probably to avoid tables. This area was all dancing. The intruder appears to have been drawn toward the music. There was a sort of fumble in the steps - a loss of purpose in the stride, which I assumed meant this was when the general panic broke out-- HERBERT    It took people that long-- [catching himself] No, no. Go on. RICHARD    Panic broke out. From there, the footprints walked over to one of the alcoves, then, striding quickly again, back to, and out, the window. CHARLES    Alcoves? RICHARD    Yes, there are five. Next question. CHARLES    No, no - I really must draw the line here. you never described alcoves when you were describing the room. Besides, it's not even my turn. EDWARD    He's right! WARREN    I think you'll have to give him that one. RICHARD    I was only joking. Besides, Herbert has been looking smug for long enough. Out with it, foul fiend and ask the question you've been brimming over with! HERBERT    [feigned innocence] Oh, me? [chuckles] I'm sorry, Warren, but you missed Auguste's point entirely. The question that was never answered is "what did people say the intruder looked like?" AUGUSTE    Ahhh. EDWARD    Good golly! That's right! CHARLES    Well played, Herbert. RICHARD    [starts slowly, but working up to being as spooky as possible] The few people who could speak of the intrusion without descending into helpless gibbering, or simple fainting, described the intruder as unclean, uncanny, unwelcome, abnormal and detestable. It was the ghoulish shade of decay, antiquity, and dissolution! It could not have been of this world - or certainly no longer of this world - yet a part of the horror was that in its eaten-away and bone-revealing outlines, it resembled nothing so much as an abhorrent travesty on the human shape! [moment of silence] EDWARD    So a walking corpse? RICHARD    [annoyed tch] If you, the self-professed wordsmith, wish to put it so bluntly, and blandly. Yes. Apparently so. HERBERT    I protest - you said it wasn't something supernatural. RICHARD    I said no one had seen a ghost. Ghosts are entirely ethereal, and this was apparently an entirely physical manifestation. WARREN    True. Dead that climb out of graves and walk have long been a separate myth cycle from the purely spiritual. The "zombie" of the caribbean tales, which of course are drawn from the mystical beliefs of the various tribes imported from Africa-- EDWARD    Enslaved and dragged here. WARREN    Yes, but the beliefs are so fascinating - that a witch doctor could cause someone to not only die, but return-- CHARLES    Is that the answer then? That a corpse simply woke up out in the graveyard and decided on a lark to join the party? Or are we expected to figure out how and what caused it to motivate? HERBERT    I have a few ideas on that subject. EDWARD    Ah, but it didn't come out of a grave - that WAS the point of your question about disturbed ground, wasn't it, Monsieur? AUGUSTE    [shrug] I had a little thought. EDWARD    That means you were onto the walking dead angle almost from first principles. CHARLES    Father was right on the money, you are a genius. AUGUSTE    Merely someone who is not afraid to embrace the impossible from time to time. HERBERT    So this is the end of the tale. A body got up and wandered around, then walked away again. Where's the great mystery? AUGUSTE    Perhaps, if I may? RICHARD    Go ahead. AUGUSTE    I think the question of where it went to is one of mild amusement, as perhaps is the question of what moved it to leave? RICHARD    Perhaps. EDWARD    Yes, but is there an answer? AUGUSTE    I believe I have the answer to the first part. But I would like to ask my belated question first. RICHARD    Please do. AUGUSTE    Did you search the crypt? CHARLES    [amused] The what? WARREN    [annoyed] You never said there was a crypt! AUGUSTE    Perhaps I have not the right word. The building in the cemetery for the bodies, non? EDWARD    That's more of a mausoleum. WARREN    Crypts are generally below ground. And you never said there was a mausoleum! RICHARD    No one asked. AUGUSTE    But I have asked now. Did you search the mausoleum, and, if I may ask, did you find your visiteur hidden within? RICHARD    I should just give up now. There's nothing left to hide from you, Monsieur. AUGUSTE    But I do not know everything. I believe there is still the question of why it walked away. And I believe it is Charles' turn. CHARLES    Before I ask, is this something that can be answered? RICHARD    [a bit subdued] I believe so. CHARLES    Right, then. Do you think it was due to the fear and confusion that the creature decided to leave? RICHARD    I don't think so. Most of the crowd had fled before it apparently made its own exit. If you look at the drawing of the room, I am still quite certain that here is where it was the moment the panic broke out, and yet it continues onward for some time. CHARLES    Monsieur? AUGUSTE    I have solved my part of the puzzle. I shall leave your younger minds to uncover the motivations. EDWARD    [teasing] Cheater. RICHARD    This means we're back to you, Edward. EDWARD    From what you've drawn, it looks like the alcove is the epitome, or do I mean azimuth? HERBERT    I doubt it. EDWARD    The ultimate point, anyway. That seems to be where it turned back. Is that correct? RICHARD    Is that your question? EDWARD    Yes. RICHARD    To the best of my knowledge, yes. WARREN    What is in the alcove? Was -- [catches self] No. [firmly] What is in the alcove? RICHARD    The same as all the other alcoves. A large mirror. They're supposed to reflect the light and make the room look larger. WARREN    There are creatures of mythology who are terrified of mirrors. Vampires are said to have no reflection, possibly because the silver of the backing rejects their unclean nature and therefore refuses to reflect them. The gorgons-- HERBERT    Was the mirror untouched? RICHARD    Meaning? HERBERT    Did it do anything to damage the mirror? RICHARD    The mirror was ...undamaged. CHARLES    That sounds a little bit like a hint. RICHARD    [negative facetious shrug] CHARLES    Well, let's go on and get this over with. I think even I can read you this late in the evening. Did the thing touch the mirror? RICHARD    There was a disgusting mold-smeared handprint, and I use the term very loosely, on the glass. EDWARD    So it's afraid of a mirror. That's no thrill. AUGUSTE    Have you ever suddenly realized there is a large spot of ink -oh! - leaked on your pocket, or a bird perhaps has insulted the crown of your hat? HERBERT    Hasn't everyone? Nature is notoriously... insulting. AUGUSTE    And perhaps people are smiling and laughing, or even upset and disgusted, and you don't realize the cause of it? CHARLES    [laughs] Are you saying this thing needed to [gets serious] to see itself in a mirror to realize what it was? HERBERT    I doubt there would be much higher brain function in a rotten corpse. It might not occur to it. RICHARD    You know, that is rather the conclusion I arrived on. You're a bit of a marvel, Monsieur. AUGUSTE    [modest] Experience. And ratiocination. CHARLES    How did you come to the conclusion about where the - corpus delecti - would be found? AUGUSTE    Ah! That was very simple! Reminded me of something from my youth. It is rather like the old saying "cannot see the forest because of all the trees", vous comprenez? HERBERT    I know the saying. EDWARD    It's rather obvious once you see it. AUGUSTE    Bien. But what if the forest was hidden among a plethora of forests? HERBERT    That wouldn't be physically possible. AUGUSTE    conceptualize, mon ami. So, to extrapolate, where better to find a dead body, than in a room which is filled with them? END NOTE:      "Auguste" is intended to resemble "C. Auguste Dupin", the detective character in Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue" even though the timing would make him about 130 years old, if he's visiting Charles in the 1920s. (story very loosely inspired by "The Outsider" by HPL)
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    Atomic Julie - My Father, the Cat, by Henry Slesar

    21:31

    A modern fairy tale, with less than charming consequences.
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    Don't miss an episode of 19 Nocturne Boulevard and subscribe to it in the GetPodcast app.

    iOS buttonAndroid button
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    19 Nocturne Boulevard - COUNTDOWN - Reissue

    13:43

    My apologies - sick with no voice, so I have to put off the next Lovecraft 5 until I can record the intro. Here's a short one for this week.  Thanks for your patience! ***************************************************************** COUNTDOWN The haunted Ratcatcher Mine is irresistable to tourists and ghost hunters alike. Written by Julie Hoverson, Sound and mastering by Tanja Milojevic (of Lightning Bolt Theater of the Mind) Cast List Steff / Dutch - J. Spyder Isaacson Bobby / Rory - Reynaud LeBoeuf Roj / Jacob - Danar Hoverson Gloria - Tanja Milojevic Old Frank - J. Christopher Dunn Martha - Julie Hoverson Music:  Mary Lou by Country Gold This Land Here for Free by Country Gold Sunshine Revisited by Country Gold The King is Coming by Dom The Bear     All available through Jamendo.com Cover Design:  Brett Coulstock "What kind of a place is it? Why it's a mountain with a mine shaft - can't you tell?" ***************************************************************** COUNTDOWN By Julie Hoverson   Cast: OLD FRANK - local shopkeeper, southern MARTHA - Frank's wife Gloria - modern college girl Steff, Bobby, Roj - modern college guys, wannabe filmmakers Dutch, Jacob, Rory - young miners from a century and a half ago, irish or other immigrant accents [NOTE - the modern guys double as the miners]   SETTING - opens in collapsed mine shaft MUSIC SOUND     PATTER OF GRIT SOUND    Dutch, Jacob, and Rory, heavy breathing.  DUTCH    5, 4, 3, 2, 1. SOUND    FLARE OF OLD LUCIFER MATCH DUTCH    Quick looks, all-- [clears his throat, hawks, spits]  You alright, Jacob? SOUND    MOVEMENTS IN DIRT, SHIFTING GRAVEL JACOB    I can't feel me legs, Dutch. RORY    Hail Mary, full of grace... SOUND    DISTANT RUMBLE OF FALLING ROCKS, MORE GRIT MUSIC AMBIANCE    MA AND PA STORE, MUZAK SOUND    FLAP OF PHOTO GLORIA    Have you seen--? OLD FRANK    Them boys?  Yup.  You almost jest missed 'em.  Come through this morning - maybe 'bout two hours-- MARTHA    --Nearer on to three, it was-- OLD FRANK    Two hours ago.  Asked a bunch of damn fool questions-- MARTHA    They were real curious about the Ratcatcher. OLD FRANK     --got some gas and took off.  Probably went on up to that whore's ass of a hole in the ground. MARTHA    Hush, you old goat!  We make a lot of money on the old Ratcatcher mine, you know. OLD FRANK    Some day that cussed thing's gonna cave all the damn way in and that'll be the end of the matter. GLORIA    The guy in the middle, that's my brother - Steff. OLD FRANK    And what kind of name is that for a young man, anyway? MUSIC SOUND    CLICK WHIRR - SMALL FILM CAMERA COMES ON. [NOTE - the modern guys are on a filter, like a recording being played back, unless otherwise noted] AMBIANCE    IN A CAR STEFF    Aha!  Smile! BOBBY    Dude, Why bother with the antique?  I can take better video than that with my phone. STEFF    It's the only way to make it look real, bro!  Film or nothing! SOUND    RADIO GOES STATICY, TUNING ROJ    Oh hell!  SOUND    RADIO OUT ROJ    Man.  We are so in the boondocks. MUSIC AMBIANCE     Mine DUTCH    Hold your breath. JACOB    Why?  RORY    Just do as he says, boy! SOUND    THEY ALL GASP IN A BREATH, HOLD IT A SECOND RORY    [on an exhale] Damn. DUTCH    [sigh] Aye. SOUND    MATCH SHAKEN OUT JACOB    What? RORY    The flame.  It didna waver at all. JACOB    But... whatever does it mean? DUTCH    [grim] We shant have long to wait. MUSIC AMBIANCE    OUTSIDE, MOUNTAINS SOUND    STEPS CRUNCH ON DIRT STEFF    Just hold it steady.  BOBBIE    Does it even have a built in mike? STEFF    It's not that old.  I don't have to hand crank it, either. BOBBIE    It's not like you're going to fool anyone.  No one believes any of this mockumentary crap any more.  Not since freaking Blair Witch. STEFF    It's all in how it's presented.  [turning away]  He said the mine opening is a half hour hike that way. SOUND    CAR DOOR SLAMS ROJ    [off, calling] I was thinking I might stay with the car.  STEFF    Come on, Roj!  We all agreed-- ROJ    [coming on] I'm just feeling weird about this whole thing. BOBBIE    He just wants to hit his girlfriend up for some naughty hottie talk. STEFF    You get reception out here? ROJ    This is about where I should turn and have a horde of network people standing there... MUSIC AMB    MA AND PA STORE SOUND    CELL PHONE NOISE, NO SERVICE SOUND    PHONE SLAPPED SHUT GLORIA    Dammit.  They were supposed to wait for me! OLD FRANK    You gonna buy something or just stand around and suck up our A-C? MARTHA    Frank!  The girl is concerned. GLORIA    You said they bought a map? OLD FRANK    Five dollars. MUSIC AMBIANCE    Mine JACOB    Have you another lucifer, Dutch? DUTCH    Cannot spare it. JACOB    We're gonna die!  Why must we perish in the dark? RORY    Every flame eats air we could be breathing. JACOB    We're doomed right enough, aren’t we?  Will a few moments of bright comfort end our suffering so much faster? DUTCH    The lad has a point. RORY    No!  I at least want every breath I have left.  MUSIC AMBIANCE    STORE SOUND    DOOR OPENS, BELL DINGS GLORIA    [leaving] Thanks! SOUND    DOOR SHUTS OLD FRANK    Only thing stupider than tourists is film people. MARTHA    This from the old coot who can't miss his Deal or no Deal. OLD FRANK    [dismissive noise] Ahh! SOUND    DOOR OPENS, BELL RINGS GLORIA    [coming back in]  Why is it called the Ratcatcher mine? OLD FRANK    [congenial storytelling mode] Well, there's quite a story there. GLORIA    Is there a quick version? MARTHA    Not from him, there ain't.  GLORIA    Ten bucks? SOUND    MONEY SHELLED OUT, SNATCHED OLD FRANK    Right then.  It was a mother lode of silver, back in the day.  But the hillside was particularly unstable, so there were quite a few cave ins.  [getting spooky] So everyone took to bringing rats in, and feeding 'em, down in the shafts, since you could watch the rats, and when they ran, you knew to run too. MARTHA    [after a moment] Or else it was named after a fella called Ratcatcher Jones. No one's real sure. GLORIA    The map also doesn't say why anyone gives a flying ratcatcher's ass about it? MUSIC AMBIANCE    OUTSIDE SOUND    HIKING ROJ    It's not my GPS that's messed up - that map is just plain wrong! STEFF    It's the official map. BOBBIE    Maybe it's wrong on purpose.  Maybe the mine is still being worked, in secret, and they don't want anyone to actually be able to find it! ROJ    They would just stop selling maps, dumbass. BOBBIE    Or, maybe it's all a cover for a secret underground government installation - they put those into old mines and bomb shelters and stuff all the time, don't they?  STEFF    They'd just fence everything off! BOBBIE    Not if it was secret. STEFF    Nah.  I think it's just a big joke on tourists.  Like if you can actually find the mine, then you're worthy to be there. ROJ    We should go back to the car and wait for Gloria. STEFF    Yeah.  That's what I want to do.  She only wants to be here to piss me off.  ROJ    She has the hots for Bobbie. BOBBIE    She does?  Let's go back! STEFF    Ew.  [gasp of excitement] Hey, does that rock look like this blob - right here - on the map? MUSIC SOUND    FLARE OF LUCIFER STRIKING, BURNING [they're all getting breathless] RORY    We should pray.  God will welcome us home and forgive us our sins. JACOB    I don't have any!  No good ones, anyway! DUTCH    Pray silently.  Spare your breath.  JACOB    They could still find us! RORY    Best turn your mind heavenward, lad.  JACOB    But they could, couldn't they? DUTCH    God may still spare us.  Shh now. MUSIC AMBIANCE     OUTSIDE STEFF    [close to the mike] Hold it steady.  [backing off]  OK?  Is this good? ROJ    I can see you.  That's all you need, right? STEFF    Am I centered? ROJ    You can't fix it in post? STEFF    Just hold it steady.  [clears his throat, up]  This is Steffen Cray, standing in front of the infamous Ratcatcher Mine, supposed to be haunted by the ghosts of numerous miners who died in its inky blackness.  Most notably, it still holds the souls of three men whose bodies were recovered within minutes of their ultimate suffocation.  BOBBIE    Completely sucks, man.  House woulda been able to pump them, stat, and they'd be on Oprah next week, with a fund in their name. STEFF    Yeah, well, it was a hundred and thirty some years ago.  They say the mine will always hold three souls.  BOBBIE    Who's this "THEY" who says these things?  They should be making this crap-ass film. MUSIC AMBIANCE    DRIVING GLORIA    Dumbass idea, anyway, making some dumbass film about some dumbass mine. SOUND    RADIO TURNS TO STATIC GLORIA    Crap. SOUND    RADIO TURNED OFF, DIALING CELLPHONE SOUND    BEEPS, THEN ANSWERED - FAINT AND CRACKLY STEFF    [gasping voice]  Hello? GLORIA    Steff?  Jeez!  Really didn't think there would be coverage out here. STEFF    Gloria? GLORIA    [raising her voice] I can barely hear you!  STEFF    We're... in the mine. GLORIA    Oh, great.  How the hell am I gonna find you? SOUND    STATIC GROWS STEFF    You... won't. SOUND    PHONE CUTS OUT GLORIA    Well, crap.  Didn’t even get a chance to ask where to park. MUSIC AMBIANCE    MINE [NOT ON RECORDING] ROJ    Tell her to go for help! STEFF    It cut out before I could. ROJ    No!! What were you thinking? STEFF    Bobbie's out again. ROJ    You idiot! STEFF    You're using up the air! MUSIC AMBIENCE    OUTSIDE SOUND    WALKING GLORIA    [calling] Steff?  Steff? JACOB    [close] Hello. GLORIA    [startled] Crap!  Jeez, you scared me! RORY    Shouldn’t take the lord's name in vain. GLORIA    It's not vain.  Are you friends of my brother?  He never mentioned-- DUTCH    We're... local. GLORIA    Of course.  The costumes.  You must work here.  Where do I find this Ratcatcher mine thing? DUTCH    The mine?  Tis closed down.  There's been a bit of an incident.  MUSIC SOUND     PATTER OF GRIT SOUND    STEFF, BOBBIE, ROJ, HEAVY BREATHING  STEFF    [fading out] 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... CLOSING MUSIC
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    Atomic Julie - A Bad Day For Sales by Fritz Leiber

    19:04

    A robot hat works fine under normal conditions suffers when the conditions change - drastically.   FAULTY FILE HAS BEEN REPLACED!
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    19 Nocturne Boulevard - THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK (Lovecraft 5 #2) - Reissue!

    39:14

    Five friends gather for another story - this one of an artist doomed for his curiousity.   Cast List Edward - Bryan Hendrickson Charles - Michael Coleman (Tales of the Extraordinary) Warren - Glen Hallstrom Richard - Philemon Vanderbeck Herbert - Carl Cubbedge Blake - Derek Fetters (Unspeakable and Inhuman) Music by Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com) Editing and Sound:   Julie Hoverson Cover Design:  Brett Coulstock   "What kind of a place is it? Why it's another brownstone dinner party, can't you tell?" ***************************************************************** THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK (Lovecraft 5, #2) Cast: Edward, a writer Charles, a dilettante Herbert, a scientist Richard, a painter Warren, a professor Robert Blake, deceased writer OLIVIA     Did you have any trouble finding it?  What do you mean, what kind of a place is it?  Why, it's Charles' house again, can't you tell?  MUSIC SOUND     MUSIC, but muffled SOUND    CUPBOARD CLOSES, FEET APPROACH CHARLES    Try this one. SOUND    BOX HANDED OVER EDWARD    Thanks.  [quiet, a bit diffident] And... and I appreciate your putting us up tonight, Charles. CHARLES    [breezily covering] In my own interest, I assure you.  I've no wish to climb five flights of rickety stairs and squat in your cramped dormer just to hear a story. SOUND    WALKING EDWARD    And I have no wish to disappoint you.  [perking up]  Though you really can't knock the cramped dormer for atmosphere... CHARLES    We'll just look at this as my way of supporting the arts, shall we? SOUND    DOOR OPENS SOUND    MUSIC LESS MUFFLED, SOUND OF FIREPLACE CHARLES    Here we are. SOUND    WALKING IN WARREN    Aha! HERBERT     There you are! RICHARD    Where did you have to go for it?  China? CHARLES    I knew I had a few of these still lying around.  Just take one to start - they're wicked sour. SOUND    BOX OPENS, PICKING OUT CANDIES CHARLES    Richard? RICHARD    Perhaps just one.  [pops into mouth, reacts]  WARREN    [chuckles]  I've tried many kinds of native confectionery in my travels, back in the day.  [puts into mouth, reacts, but tries not to]  [slightly breathless] Ah, yes.  Much like the salted ginger prunes I tried in [deep breath] Hong Kong [coughs slightly] in 1907. RICHARD    So jaded, Warren.  [teasing] Aren't you having one, Herbert? HERBERT    I've never understood the point of discomfiting oneself by eating painful food.  EDWARD    [trying not to pucker] It's really quite tasty. HERBERT    I'll stick to my drink, thank you very much. SOUND    BOX SET DOWN, SHUT CHARLES    Can't blame you, though I find myself rather more partial to these than I ought.  [pops something into mouth, then talks around it with no apparent difficulty]  So, Edward? SOUND    SECOND BOX SET DOWN ON TABLE EDWARD    Um!  [removes candy with a slight slurp]  Right.  Of course. SOUND    SHUFFLING PAPERS HERBERT    Isn't this supposed to be a true story? EDWARD    [baffled] Yes, why do you ask? HERBERT    Why the manuscript, then?  How can we trust anything you've written down to be fact and not one of your fantastical fictions? WARREN    He has a point. EDWARD    Oh, that's simple.  I didn't write any of this.  RICHARD    [give it] Here.  SOUND    PAPER CHANGES HANDS RICHARD    [agreeing] Well.  It's certainly not your handwriting.  [to Edward] Is it some long lost maiden aunt? HERBERT    Let me look.  Hmph.  Spiky.  WARREN    [looking over his shoulder]  Copperplate.  Quaint. EDWARD    Are the experts satisfied? HERBERT    I reserve judgment. WARREN    [chuckles]  I'm not such a stickler for provenance - after all, you're not one of my students. RICHARD    Tell us then, raconteur, who is it that inspires this tale? EDWARD    Robert Blake. RICHARD    [sharp] Blake?  SOUND    SNATCHES PAPERS RICHARD    [urgent] This is Blake's?  What is it?  How did you get it?  SOUND    PAPERS SNATCHED BACK EDWARD    All in good time.  [sniffs annoyedly] SOUND    PAPERS BEING STRAIGHTENED, PLOPPED DOWN EDWARD    [with import, beginning his tale] This?  SOUND    PATS PAPERS AND BOX EDWARD    This is all that's left of Robert Blake. RICHARD    He-- [cuts himself off] EDWARD    [intense] You were about to say - Blake died, 17 days ago, during a storm that knocked out half the electricity in the city.  Died... under very peculiar circumstances, indeed. WARREN    [after a slight pause] And for those of us less acquainted with the deceased? EDWARD    Huh? CHARLES    Yes.  Who is - was - Robert Blake? EDWARD    You haven't heard of him? HERBERT    I vaguely recall something about a Blake.  Isn't he some kind of artist?  Considered rather... blasphemous?  EDWARD    Blake was a writer and a painter, yes. HERBERT    But I was under the impression he was long-dead.  A century or more. EDWARD    [puzzled] No.  Robert died 17 days ago-- WARREN    Oh!  I expect you're thinking of William Blake.  RICHARD    The one who painted the great red dragon and the woman clothed in the sun? HERBERT    [snort of derision]  I don't waste precious memory on such trivia.  I can put names to three paintings - the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, and Whistler's Mother.  And that's only because those are ubiquitous. CHARLES    Any chance that the two painting Blakes are connected somehow? EDWARD    Dunno.  Could be.  Hmm.  Robert hailed from Milwaukee, but I don't know anything more about his family.  [shrugs] It would explain some of Robert's peculiar artistic leanings. RICHARD    I've met Blake - this Blake - on several occasions.  I can't say I like - liked - him, but I didn't dislike him either.  His work was rather ... unusual.  Though I'm only acquainted with his paintings. EDWARD    His writing was just as odd - both fiction and non.  This [taps the papers] is supposedly the latter.  A journal.  [with heavy import]  His last days. CHARLES    Ahhh... SOUND    OPENS BOX, TAKES CANDY WARREN    How did you come by it? EDWARD    Let me start at the beginning.  Blake and I have been informally acquainted for years.  We interacted through the magazines that carried our works, corresponded now and then, and [chuckles] lampooned each other a bit.  I wrote a mad protagonist once named Blake Roberts, and he in turn-- RICHARD    Hmph.  His paintings show no trace of a sense of humor. CHARLES    There's more to any man than shows in his public face. WARREN    Who said that? CHARLES    [dry, teasing]  Thought I did. WARREN     [sigh] Never mind. RICHARD    [prompting] Blake? EDWARD    [overriding them all, narrating] Cautious investigators will hesitate to challenge the common belief that Robert Blake was killed by lightning, or by some profound nervous shock derived from an electrical discharge. RICHARD    Lightning?  I thought he died in his rooms. HERBERT    Was he burned? EDWARD    Not at all.  WARREN    But the papers put it down to lightning? EDWARD    I know I'm more used to writing a story than telling it, but you fellows should give me some room to breathe, here.  Stop jumping on me every time I come up for air!  EVERYONE    [mumbled apologies] EDWARD    [poetry] I have seen the dark universe yawning Where the black planets roll without aim, Where they roll in their horror unheeded, Without knowledge or lustre or name. CHARLES    Yours, or his? EDWARD    [chuckles] His.  [deep breath]  All right, now I have written some notes to follow, condensing some of this, and including some outside information.  So don't get confused.  SOUND    RUSTLE OF PAPERS EDWARD    Blake died with a horrible expression on his face.  The police and coroner blame it on the sudden contraction of the musculature due to the sudden ingress of electricity. WARREN    It's not unheard of. EDWARD     But the entries in his diary might suggest another source of the horrible grimace.  Fear. RICHARD    Scared to death? EDWARD    Or scared at the moment of death.  Either way, it's no doubt he worked himself up into a state of absolute terror shortly before his demise.  His diary entries are clearly the result of a fantastic imagination aroused by certain local superstitions. RICHARD    Local to here? EDWARD    Providence.  WARREN    [knowingly] Rhode Island. EDWARD    Blake is - was a writer and painter devoted to the field of myth, dream, terror, and superstition-- RICHARD    Sounds like someone we know.  Hmm? EDWARD    [sigh] His end began with a deserted church on Federal Hill. WARREN    What denomination? SOUND     PAPERS SHUFFLE EDWARD    The notes don't say what it started as.  Probably doesn't matter.  It was bought and rededicated to something called the Starry Wisdom sect. HERBERT    Starry Wisdom?  Astronomers? EDWARD    [chuckles] There's definitely some star-gazing involved in their beliefs. WARREN    [musing] Starry wisdom.... starry wisdom.... Hmm.  I've heard something about them.  [dismissive]  It will come to me. EDWARD    He took up residence in Providence last winter, in the upper floor of a "venerable dwelling where huge, friendly cats sunned themselves atop a convenient shed". HERBERT    He writes about cats?  [disparaging]  He was an only child, wasn't he? EDWARD    [sigh]  He also writes a lot about the local architecture, but I'll skip that as well.  BLAKE     My desk faces a window commanding a splendid view of the lower town's outspread roofs and the mystical sunsets that flame behind them. HERBERT    [dismissive] Cats... and sunsets. EDWARD    Some two miles away rose the spectral hump of Federal Hill. BLAKE    [diary] I have a curious sense that I gaze out upon some unknown, ethereal world which might or might not vanish in dream if I ever tried to seek it out and enter it in person. EDWARD    Blake settled down to write and paint.  During that first winter he produced five of his best-known short stories - The Burrower Beneath, The Stairs in the Crypt-- CHARLES    Oh, that was a corker. HERBERT    You actually read this nonsense? CHARLES    O'course.  Have a subscription and all. EDWARD    Blake also painted seven canvases that season - studies of nameless, unhuman monsters, and profoundly alien, non-terrestrial landscapes. RICHARD    My favorites.  If I do say so myself, though, I do better with....beings, while he should stick - have stuck - to exteriors. EDWARD    But the church kept drawing his thoughts.  BLAKE    At sunset the great tapering steeple loomed blackly against the flaming sky. RICHARD    [speculative] Makes me wish I was more familiar with Providence. EDWARD    Blake made his first and only pilgrimage to the building just before the aeon-shadowed Walpurgis time. HERBERT    What? WARREN    Also known as May eve.  Ostensibly, it's the festival of Saint Walpurga-- RICHARD    There's a name for you.  CHARLES    What was she the saint of? WARREN    Not my area.  But I say "ostensibly", since it was one of those pagan holidays that the church found they couldn't quite ever abolish, so they replaced it, figuring if the populace wanted a holy day, it might as well be a proper Catholic one. RICHARD    And the pagan holiday it replaced? WARREN    Beltane.  A spring fertility festival.  It was a counterpart to All Hallow's Eve - note that they fall on opposite ends of the calendar.  RICHARD     The nights that witches fly!  EDWARD    So he took a walk sometime in late April. BLAKE    I noted the foreign signs over curious shops in brown, decade-weathered buildings. Now and then a battered church façade or crumbling spire came in sight, but never the blackened pile I sought. EDWARD    It was like a labyrinth.  None of the streets went anywhere.  When he asked a shopkeeper about the church, the man's face blanched with fear, and Blake saw him make a curious sign with his right hand. WARREN    Does it say what the sign looked like? Perhaps something like this? CHARLES    Isn't that the same hand gesture you see in ancient paintings of sages and saints? RICHARD    It appears often in Hindu art as well. BLAKE    [cutting in] Suddenly a black spire stood out against the cloudy sky to the left. Twice I lost my way, but somehow dared not ask any help. EDWARD    And then he was there.  In a wind-swept open square towered over by the grim bulk of the decrepit church. BLAKE    I wondered how the panes of the gothic windows could have survived, in view of the known habits of small boys the world over. WARREN    [laughing]  I think we all had our turn in our youth.  Why I remember-- CHARLES    Knee breeches and buckle shoes?  When you write your own reminiscences, and then die in a strange and terrifying way, then we can discuss it.  Go on, Edward. EDWARD    It took Blake some time, both to clear the fence and to find a shiftable basement window, but finally he was inside. BLAKE    The colossal nave was an almost eldritch place with its drifts of dust. Over all this hushed desolation played a hideous leaden light as the declining afternoon sun sent its rays through the strange, half-blackened panes of the great apsidal windows. EDWARD    The stained glass windows seemed to give Blake a nervous moment - both because they were heavily encrusted with soot, and, in a more subtle way, from the subject matter. BLAKE    The few saints depicted bore expressions distinctly open to criticism, while one of the windows seemed to show merely a dark space with spirals of curious luminosity scattered about in it. RICHARD    "Open to criticism"?  That's all he said?  That conjures up far too many possibilities!  EDWARD    That's all. RICHARD    [frustrated noise]  Oh.  They could be cannibalistic, or lascivious, or cross-eyed. EDWARD    Don't know.  In a rear room, Blake found shelves of mildewed, disintegrating books. BLAKE     They were the black, forbidden things which most sane people have never even heard of, or have heard of only in furtive, timorous whispers. EDWARD    You know the type. WARREN    [avid] Oh, yes, but did he give any details? EDWARD    There's a whole list - but it's not really germane to-- CHARLES    Resign yourself, dear boy.  Let Warren salivate a bit. EDWARD    [sigh] Here. SOUND    PAPER MOVES WARREN    Excellent!  [musing]  Necronomicon, yes - ah, in Latin!  That would be the Vermius translation. EDWARD    He also grabbed a small notebook filled with entries in some cryptic code. WARREN    [muttering] The Liber Ivonis?  Sinister.  [chuckles]  Ah, the infamous Cultes des Goules of Comte d'Erlette-- HERBERT    [sigh, disdainful]  You sound like a zealot saying his rosaries - or whatever they say. RICHARD    He sounds like a collector. WARREN    [wistful]  If only.  [normal] But I must be satisfied caring for the collections of others.  Most of these books shouldn't be in the hands of any individual anyway.  They are much too-- RICHARD    Evil? HERBERT    Evil is a construct of morality. CHARLES    Oh, lord-- HERBERT    As is religion. EDWARD    I don't think a book, at least, CAN be evil. You can only be evil if you have free will. WARREN    Oh, now this is my field, and when I tell you the Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt, or old Ludvig Prinn's hellish De Vermis Mysteriis is an evil book, you may take my word. SOUND    SNATCH OF PAPER WARREN    [upset] Hey! CHARLES    You may have it back at the end of class. EVERYONE    [Chuckles] EDWARD    So.  [looking for his place] Room full of creepy books, Blake takes the diary, goes upstairs.  Right.  Aha! SOUND    SLAPS PAPER DOWN, WOOD BOX STARTS TO SHIFT.  A STRANGE CHIMING NOISE.  CATCH BOX EDWARD    [gasp!]  CHARLES    Oh!  Best watch that! EDWARD    Yeah. WARREN    What IS it? CHARLES    [overly nonchalant] A box.  What does it look like? EDWARD    [back to narration] Blake found a room upstairs, faintly lit by screened windows.  In one corner, a ladder led up to the closed trap door of the windowless steeple. BLAKE    In the centre of the dust-laden floor rose a curiously angled stone pillar some four feet in height and two in diameter, covered on each side with bizarre, crudely incised and wholly unrecognizable hieroglyphs. EDWARD     On this pillar rested a metal box of peculiarly asymmetrical form-- RICHARD    [knowing] Ah.  Boxes. HERBERT    "Asymmetrical"?  Nothing more specific? EDWARD    That's all his notes say-- HERBERT    How unspecific.  Asymmetrical merely means lacking in symmetry, which in turn means without any axis you could draw which would create a mirror image one side to the other. EDWARD    Huh? CHARLES    Symmetrical means the same on both sides-- HERBERT    [correcting] Mirror image on both sides. CHARLES    Right.  So, for instance your face is symmetrical-- HERBERT    No human face is perfectly symmetrical.  Nothing lines up exactly if you look close enough. CHARLES    Roughly symmetrical, then.  You have an eye on each side of a nose, which has two nostrils to balance one another, and so on. WARREN     So as a way to picture an asymmetrical face, you might have an eye down on the jawline, and the nose up at the temple? CHARLES    Only if there wasn't a comparable eye and nose to match on the other side of the face. HERBERT    So was this box only as asymmetrical as a typical face, or was it grossly unbalanced? EDWARD    Uh... the notes just say asymmetrical. HERBERT    [annoyed sigh]  Laymen. EDWARD    That box isn't important anyway - it's long gone.  But what it held... BLAKE    Beneath decade-deep dust was an egg-shaped or irregularly spherical object some four inches through. HERBERT    [starting again] Irregularly spherical? CHARLES    Oh, not again! EDWARD    The four-inch irregular sphere turned out, once the dust was gone, to be a nearly black, red-striated polyhedron with many irregular flat surfaces; either a very remarkable crystal of some sort or an artificial object of carved and highly polished mineral matter. HERBERT    Crystals form naturally according to-- CHARLES    Hush!  HERBERT    Hmph. EDWARD    [placating] So it was carved that way.  Good point. BLAKE    Once exposed, it exerted an almost alarming fascination. I could scarcely tear my eyes from it.  EDWARD    But he did.  I mean, he must have, since he notes there was something else in the room.  Or, should I say, someone?  In the far corner, right at the foot of the ladder, was a hump of dust-- BLAKE    Hand and handkerchief soon revealed a human skeleton. I examined a reporter's badge, a celluloid advertising calendar for 1893, some cards with the name "Edwin M. Lillibridge", and a paper covered with pencilled memoranda. EDWARD    Blake copied the text into his diary, for fear the paper would eventually crumble away to nothing. CHARLES    I think I'll have another-- SOUND    SHIFT OF BOX EDWARD    [a little too vehement] Not that box!  I mean, the candy is in YOUR box. Over there. CHARLES    [bit of a smirk] Oh.  How forgetful of me. WARREN    What is it with the boxes?  RICHARD    [knowing laugh] EDWARD    The notes were typical journalistic jottings, a list of dates and events - all involving the church.  From "Prof. Enoch Bowen home from Egypt May 1844 - buys Church in July" the notes list a number of instances of people speaking or acting against Starry Wisdom, and finally, in April 1877, a number of members were apparently run out of town for their "beliefs." WARREN    Ah!  THAT's what I've been trying to remember!  Starry Wisdom, indeed.  Weren't they accused of human sacrifice? EDWARD    The notes do list a number of disappearances attributed to them.  Here, see for yourself. SOUND    PAPER BEING PASSED HERBERT    [dryly sarcastic] Because, of course, no one ever leaves home of their own accord. CHARLES    The community around was mostly catholic.  Pretty tightly knit. RICHARD    Tightly wound, too, from the sound of it.  Here it says that a mob of "Irish boys" - shouldn’t that be "lads"? - attacked the church, but it doesn't say what came of it. EDWARD    The locals assumed whatever was going on was devil worship.  That's certainly why Lillibridge broke in. BLAKE    They say the Shining Trapezohedron shows them heaven and other worlds, and that the Haunter of the Dark tells them secrets. HERBERT    Did Lillibridge fall off the ladder?  That could easily snap a man's neck, given enough height, or the proper trajectory.  EDWARD    The cause was ... uncertain. BLAKE    I stooped over the gleaming bones. Some of them were badly scattered, and a few seemed oddly ...dissolved at the ends. The skull was in a very peculiar state - stained yellow, and with a charred aperture in the top as if some powerful acid had eaten through the solid bone. EDWARD    Before he realized it, Blake found himself staring at the trapezohedron again, and letting its curious influence call up images in his head. BLAKE    [very spooky] And beyond all else I glimpsed an infinite gulf of darkness, where solid and semisolid forms were known only by their windy stirrings, and cloudy patterns of force seemed to superimpose order on chaos and hold forth a key to all the paradoxes and arcana of the worlds we know. HERBERT    [disgusted] Purple prose. RICHARD    It's very evocative. WARREN    There are certain primitive tribes who ingest drugs to glimpse just such visions. CHARLES    Not another-- WARREN    No, really, I was just about to say that if there was some item that caused "visions", it could easily have become the central focus of a religious cabal. CHARLES    Good and concise. WARREN     If I was gong to wax on, it would be to draw a comparison to the myth of Pandora, or some other famous myth regarding the dangers of curiosity. CHARLES    Well, thank goodness you restrained yourself. EDWARD    Blake finally managed to pull himself away.  Probably noticed the day was waning, and he hadn't thought to bring a torch. BLAKE    It was then, in the gathering twilight, that I thought I saw a faint trace of luminosity in the crazily angled stone. Was there a subtle phosphorescence of radio-activity about the thing? HERBERT    Finally something I can grasp.  Radio-activity is a concrete scientific essence, and could easily be the source of any number of superstitious explanations. CHARLES    If it comes up again, we'll consult you. BLAKE    I seized the cover of the long-open box and snapped it down. At the sharp click of that closing, a soft stirring sound seemed to come from the steeple's eternal blackness overhead, beyond the trap-door. EDWARD    That finally frightened him, and he plunged wildly out into the street, running all the way home. CHARLES    Didn't get lost this time? WARREN    [wistful] I don't suppose the church is still there - you said this all happened fairly recently? EDWARD    It burned down the day after Blake's death.  WARREN    Blast.  Evil or not, those books are a great loss to the general body of human knowledge. EDWARD    During the days which followed, Blake did a lot of research, and worked feverishly at the cryptogram in the notebook. CHARLES    I do like a good cryptogram.  EDWARD    He says he solved the code in June, but didn't bother to include an actual translation in here. There are sketchy references to a "Haunter of the Dark" that could be awakened by someone gazing into the Shining Trapezohedron. RICHARD    You mean, just as he had looked into it? EDWARD    And he clearly believed that he had inadvertently summoned it. WARREN    Hah!  Like Pandora - letting the cat out of the bag, or rather the monsters out of the box. RICHARD    He didn't open the box.  Just gazed into the stone.  The box was already open. WARREN    A metaphorical opening of the way, then - still amounts to the same thing. HERBERT    Some creature from an undefined place regarded this stone as what - the operator on its personal telephone exchange? EDWARD    He felt like it was just watching for its chance to walk abroad.  He also notes, however, that the streetlights seemed to keep it trapped - forming a bulwark of light against its escape. WARREN    Throughout history, light has been the enemy of evil.  Whether it's sunlight causing harm to a shade or the reversion to human of a lycanthrope with the dawn. RICHARD    And ghosts don't walk around by day - it would fade their sheets. EDWARD    Blake writes a lot about the Shining Trapezohedron, calling it a window on all time and space, and trying to trace its largely unbelievable history. HERBERT    Unbelievable? EDWARD    Brought from some other sphere or planet by some elder race. HERBERT    Hmph.  That's just superstitious claptrap repackaged for a modern age.  Any number of objects have fallen to earth with origins clearly outside what we think of as the normal world.  RICHARD    I heard about a meteor up north that had some quite terrible effects. HERBERT    And yet, they have no root in "evil", beyond what we attribute to them.  Science doesn't shy away the way religion does.  We don't just hang a sign on it that says "here there be dragons" and nervously turn our backs.  Science grows to encompass new information.  RICHARD    [snide] Like an amoeba absorbs its food? HERBERT    [thinks, then] Hmm.  I suppose that's one way of picturing it. WARREN    Or water flowing into a series of newly-dug irrigation trenches. CHARLES    [prompting] Realms "beyond"? EDWARD    Blake seemed to think that the only way to banish the evil was to bury the stone and let daylight into the steeple. SOUND    PICKS UP AND OPENS BOX, THEN SHUTS IT AGAIN QUICKLY EDWARD    At the same time, however, Blake goes on at some length about his morbid longing to gaze again into the cosmic secrets of the glowing stone. HERBERT    Impressionable people should stay out of certain fields of endeavor.  RICHARD    Oh?  HERBERT    People with fragile minds are better left to the arts than to science, or investigations into the unknown. RICHARD    I'll have you know that Art can be a terrible wretch of a mistress. HERBERT    With science, you can work your entire life, and never get a single word of encouragement. WARREN    Academia is entirely indifferent to any of us who toil in her fields. RICHARD    At least your field moves forward slowly enough that by the time someone proves your theory wrong, you've been dead long enough to be an exhibit yourself. CHARLES    Shall we put them in opposite corners, or have them construct essays on their misconduct? EDWARD    There aren't enough corners, even in YOUR house. RICHARD    My apologies.  HERBERT    Hmph. WARREN    So sorry.  Pray go on. EDWARD    The morning of July 17, something in the paper really set Blake off.  During the night, a storm had put the city's lighting-system out for a full hour. CHARLES    I'll bet that didn't go over well. EDWARD    The superstitious locals ran mad.  They surrounded the old church, brandishing candles and lamps. WARREN    A vigil. EDWARD    And shuddered at the horrible noises coming from within. CHARLES    I know a few buildings I regard that way. EDWARD    Soon after, in daytime, reporters broke in and found the dust within was all churned up. There was also a bad odour everywhere, and here and there were bits of yellow stain and patches of what looked like charring. HERBERT    Similar to the bones?  Did anyone ever run any scientific tests on any of this residue? EDWARD    Not that I have any note on.  The reporters  noted the stone pillar, but the metal box and the old mutilated skeleton were not mentioned. WARREN    Hmm.  Gone, or simply overlooked? HERBERT    The newspapers love to print prurient details. CHARLES    How prurient is a rock in a box? EDWARD    From this point onwards Blake's diary shows a mounting tide of horror and apprehension. He frantically telephoned the electric light company more than once, asking - even demanding - that desperate precautions be taken to avoid another loss of power. BLAKE    My worst fears concerned the unholy rapport I felt existed between my mind and that lurking horror in the distant steeple- that monstrous thing of night which my rashness had called out of the ultimate black spaces. CHARLES    Sounds like he should have invested his last dollar in safety lanterns. RICHARD    And a trip to the tropics! EDWARD    People calling on him at the time remember how he would sit and stare out of the west window.  He spoke often of strange dreams - not nightmares, precisely, but eerily similar to the vision he'd had when gazing into the stone.  WARREN    Sounds almost like shellshock.  The way memories come back to haunt soldiers. EDWARD    It got worse.  He kept stout cords near his bed so he could bind his ankles at night to prevent himself from somnambulism. CHARLES    I had a friend had to do that once.  If the struggle to get out of bed didn't waken him, the falling flat on his face certainly would. BLAKE    I thought often of the ancient legends of Ultimate Chaos, at whose centre sprawls the blind idiot god Azathoth, Lord of All Things, encircled by his flopping horde of mindless and amorphous dancers, and lulled by the thin monotonous piping of a demoniac flute held in nameless paws. WARREN    Azathoth!  Now there's a name to conjure with!  Or not to...  preferably.  [winding down] Probably best not to mention it at all. EDWARD    The night of the 30th, Blake came to suddenly, finding himself in a horribly familiar darkened space.  A panic flight ensued, leaving him senseless until morning. CHARLES    Are you saying he managed to sleepwalk all the way across town? EDWARD    Well, the next morning he found himself lying on his study floor fully dressed. Dirt and cobwebs covered him, and every inch of his body sore and bruised. He writes that his hair was badly scorched, and a trace of a strange evil odour clung to his clothing. It was then that his nerves broke down. RICHARD    I think he was overdue.  HERBERT    While I don't understand the phenomena of sleepwalking, I do accept that it occurs. CHARLES    How big of you. HERBERT    But while one might walk in such a fugue-like state, would one take such niceties as getting dressed into consideration? WARREN    It's probably much like a state of mesmerism.  One does what one is told to so. HERBERT    But if no one told him-- CHARLES    Should be obvious.  We've all been told enough times in our lives not to go outside without a jacket.  EVERYONE    [general laughter] EDWARD    August eighth.  The great storm broke just before midnight. Lightning struck in all parts of the city, and a couple of remarkable fireballs were reported.  Blake was utterly frantic and recorded everything in his diary- HERBERT    Did he write that he was frantic? RICHARD    He was the type to record everything. EDWARD    It was more the tone of the things he did write, but his handwriting is very telling, too.  See? SOUND    PAPERS PASS CHARLES    Interesting. SOUND    PAPERS PASS WARREN    Ah.  Yes.  The way it changes - getting bigger, and less readable.  RICHARD    Also harder to write once the lights go out. EDWARD    That hadn't happened - yet.  See, he's still fretting over it right here.  "The lights must not go"; BLAKE    "It knows where I am"; EDWARD    "I must destroy it"; and BLAKE    "it is calling to me, but perhaps it means no injury this time"; EDWARD    --are found scattered down two of the pages.  Ending with-- BLAKE    "Lights out- God help me." EDWARD    At 2.35 the noises at the steeple swelled.  Then, a sound of splintering wood and a large, heavy object crashed down in the yard beneath the frowning easterly façade. RICHARD    Where were the praying multitude? EDWARD    Right there.  Whom do you think was left to tell the tale?  In fact, just as the "escape" was made, with a vibration as of flapping wings, a sudden east-blowing wind snatched off hats and wrenched dripping umbrellas from the crowd. CHARLES    Dousing all the tiny pinpricks of the candles? HERBERT    Quite literally, if the downpour was that prodigious. EDWARD    They must have managed to get some of their lights relit, for they remained at their posts.  The rain didn't stop for another half hour, and shortly after that, the electric lights came back on.  WARREN    You have quite a comprehensive narration, considering the burden of fear the watchers must have been laboring under. EDWARD    The papers gave these matters minor mention in connection with the general storm reports.  I suspect reporters, being what they are, were present during the events. RICHARD    [chuckling] Perhaps someone writing sensational fiction dropped in for a cold chill. EDWARD    The one thing that baffled press and meteorologists alike was a lone lightning-bolt that seemed to have struck somewhere in Blake's neighborhood, though no trace of its striking could afterwards be found. CHARLES    Until--? EDWARD    Precisely.  When a policeman forced the door, Blake's rigid body sat bolt upright at his desk by the window, with glassy, bulging eyes, and the look of stark, convulsive fright on his twisted features!  They were reportedly quite sickened. RICHARD    Police are such delicate flowers.  Always being sickened by things. HERBERT    Looking at such damage objectively, a face of fear is much the same as a face in pain, it's all in the attribution the onlooker gives to the damage-- EDWARD    The coroner's physician made an examination, and despite the unbroken window, reported the death as the result of electrical shock, or rather nervous tension induced by electrical discharge. HERBERT    Electricity is not an entirely understood element, even now.  New possibilities and capabilities are being discovered every day.  I've often thought myself that electricity might be the key to, say, restarting a stopped heart. CHARLES    If you don't want a stopped heart yourself, Herbert, pray let Edward finish.  We're nearly to a conclusion, if I don't miss my guess.  I think I'll turn out the electric lights.  Leave us in the dark like Blake.  Edward can keep the candle. SOUND    GETS UP, LIGHTS CLICK OFF EDWARD    There isn't really a nice convenient ending, just another, larger question mark.  Blake prolonged his frenzied jottings to the last.  In fact, the broken-pointed pencil was found clutched in his spasmodically contracted right hand. WARREN    Spontaneous rigor.  Not uncommon in cases of sudden, catastrophic death.  Leads to the so-called "death grip" of detective fiction. EDWARD    The entries after the failure of the lights were highly disjointed, and legible only in part. BLAKE    Lights still out - must be five minutes now. Everything depends on lightning. Yaddith grant it will keep up!... HERBERT    Yaddith? WARREN    Some ancient deity I'm not familiar with. BLAKE    Some influence seems beating through it... Rain and thunder and wind deafen... The thing is taking hold of my mind... What am I afraid of? Is it not an avatar of Nyarlathotep, who in antique and shadowy Khem even took the form of man? WARREN    Ah, Nyarlathotep, the mysterious "dark man" who can take many forms. BLAKE    The long, winging flight through the void... cannot cross the universe of light... re-created by the thoughts caught in the Shining Trapezohedron... send it through the horrible abysses of radiance... RICHARD    Lost his mind completely. EDWARD    I think he agreed with you. BLAKE    My name is Blake- Robert Harrison Blake of 620 East Knapp Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin... I am on this planet... CHARLES    As if he was trying to find his way home. BLAKE    Azathoth have mercy!- the lightning no longer flashes- horrible- I can see everything with a monstrous sense that is not sight- light is dark and dark is light... I am it and it is I - I want to get out... must get out and unify the forces... it knows where I am... I am Robert Blake, but I see the tower in the dark. There is a monstrous odour... senses transfigured... boarding at that tower window cracking and giving way... Iä... ngai... ygg... I see it - coming here - hell-wind - titan blue - black wing - Yog Sothoth save me - the three-lobed burning eye... [after a moment] WARREN    [sigh wistfully] I can almost smell the sulphuric tang. HERBERT    I certainly can.  Something must be burning. CHARLES    [over-innocent] Burning?  Nonsense. RICHARD    There is definitely a smell. EDWARD    [teasing] Someone here just couldn't stand the suspense, could you, Richard? RICHARD    Moi? HERBERT    Suspense? EDWARD    It wasn't a very good joke, but the box - this box - contained just enough sulfur to make a good pong if anyone got nosy and opened it to see if I really had the shining trapezohedron. WARREN    I suppose that, much like Pandora, there are certain things that you can never quite get back into a box.  END
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    Atomic Julie - Puppet Government by George Revelle

    28:28

    A man is pestered to take a government job....
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    19 Nocturne Boulevard - THE PICTURE IN THE HOUSE (The Lovecraft 5, #1) - Reissue

    40:20

    (A loose adaptation of "The Picture in the House" by H.P. Lovecraft) Five friends get together to spook each other with stories, and Charles tells a tale of a weird encounter with a strange old man.   Cast List Charles - Michael Coleman (Tales of the Extraordinary) Warren - Glen Hallstrom Richard - Philemon Vanderbeck Herbert - Carl Cubbedge Edward - Bryan Hendrickson Creepy Old Guy - J. Hoverson Martha - Risa Torres Music by Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com) Editing and Sound:   Julie Hoverson Cover Design:  Brett Coulstock "What kind of a place is it? Why it's a brownstone dinner party, can't you tell?" *************************************************** THE PICTURE IN THE HOUSE (Lovecraft 5, #1) Cast: Charles, a dilettante Herbert, a scientist Richard, a painter Warren, a professor Edward, the missing member, a writer Scary old man Martha, the cook OLIVIA     [opening credits] Did you have any trouble finding it?  What do you mean, what kind of a place is it?  Why, it's a brownstone dinner party, can't you tell?  MUSIC 1_after dinnerish SOUND     RAIN.  RECORD PLAYER CLICKS AND MUSIC STARTS SOUND     FOOTSTEPS HERBERT    What's the tune? SOUND    MATCH STRIKES CHARLES    It's-- RICHARD    That's one of Eric's isn’t it?  CHARLES    No-o-o.  You know he never records. WARREN    I must say that veal cutlet was excellent.  Positively delicious.  Compliments to your cook, Charles. CHARLES    Excellent woman.  Don't know what I would do without her.  Been with the family for years. HERBERT    That's the only way to get good help these days - I wish I was fortunate enough to inherit hereditary retainers. WARREN    Any chance I can get the recipe for the cooking staff at the faculty dining hall?  We don't get veal very often, but-- CHARLES    I'll ask, but I doubt it - she's very secretive about her seasonings.  Now, Herbert, see that everyone has a good stiff drink, for-- RICHARD    Aren't we waiting on Edward? CHARLES    [darkly]  He isn't able to join us tonight.  Don't worry - I'm quite sure he won't hold it against us. HERBERT    Here you go. WARREN    Cheers.  [drinks]  So, what is this story you've brought us here for, Charles? HERBERT    Anyone for a cigar? WARREN    Ah, certainly. RICHARD    I won't say no. WARREN    You promised us a tale to - I believe the phrase you used was "to make the gorge rise and the hair stand on end", wasn't it? CHARLES    Yes.  And I know you all consider me the weakest of us all for telling a coherent tale, just because I have a tendency to let myself get distracted and lose my place, but I have a real corker for tonight. HERBERT    Well, we're all uncorked ... now, so lets see what you can do to us. CHARLES    All right, I won't keep you in suspense any longer.  You recall that I was away for most of last summer, traveling around the back country roads of New England, looking up genealogical records, tracing my family? WARREN    Of course - and we all envy you, being a man of enough leisure to be able to wander off at will, instead of having to stay around for your job. RICHARD    What do you know about jobs?  You're an academic.  That's hardly a real job. HERBERT    Hah!  This from the artist.  Now, science - science is an all-consuming master. CHARLES    All right.  All right.  Come on - it's my party and my story.  Don't really matter what your jobs are - you're all idiot enough to be my friends, and that's all that matters. EVERYONE    [general laughter] CHARLES    I don't know whether you'll believe me or not - probably not, but it's all true. HERBERT    It won't be that easy - you're talking to a couple of hardened skeptics here.  I won't believe anything without empirical proof and Warren won't believe you 'til it's written in a book at least a hundred years old, with footnotes and cross-references. WARREN    [snort] RICHARD    And me? HERBERT    Oh, you artists - who knows what you'll believe. CHARLES    [chuckles] We'll see what you all think by the time I'm finshed. RICHARD    Edward'll regret having missed a good story. 2_story starts CHARLES    [darkly] We'll worry about Edward later.  [beat]  If I don't start, we'll be here til dawn, so let's have a bit of hush.  [beat]  Damn-- [forgot] WARREN    You were cycling around the countryside. CHARLES    Right.  And I was pedaling like mad, trying to keep in front of this wicked great thundershower, when I spotted a crumbling pile - an ancient cottage built right up into the side of a hill.  It had reached that stage of decrepitude where you're not sure whether it was built there, or just sprang up like a mushroom. RICHARD    Very evocative.  Rounded corners, slanting walls, you can almost smell the mildew. CHARLES    May I continue? WARREN    You didn't happen to have a camera with you on your sojourn, did you? CHARLES    I wasn't sightseeing.  Never been any good with one of them contraptions anyway.  [sigh]  RICHARD    [prompting] The house. CHARLES    Right, so since it was the only structure - and I use the term very lightly - that I'd seen in hours and hours, I decided that forbidding as it looked, the clouds rolling in were worse.  I was already feeling the rain, and the lightning kept striking closer and closer. SOUND    THUNDER EVERYONE    [gasps] WARREN    Well!  That was timely. HERBERT    Now how did you manage that? CHARLES    Sheer luck.  Although the weather report did-- RICHARD    Ah, so you haven't been looking through any of those old grimoires Warren has charge of? WARREN    Oh, stop. CHARLES    Where was I? WARREN    Perhaps you should keep some notes - I find note cards work quite adequately for me when I'm called upon to give a lecture. CHARLES    [sigh] I went into the house.  I knocked first - I certainly didn't want to meet an angry homeowner with a shotgun in my face.  But since there was no answer, I figured it might be abandoned.  And the rain was starting to come down like rods. SOUND    THUNDER EVERYONE    [mild chuckles] CHARLES    [full-on storytelling mode] Inside was a little vestibule with walls from which the plaster was falling, and through the doorway came a faint but peculiarly hateful odor.  I entered, leaned my cycle against the wall, and crossed into a small, dim chamber, furnished in the barest and most primitive possible way.  It appeared to be a kind of sitting-room, for it had a table and several chairs - and an immense fireplace above which ticked an antique clock on a mantel. Books and papers were very few, and in the prevailing gloom I could not readily discern the titles.  Now, in all the room I could not discover a single article of definitely post-revolutionary date!  Had the furnishings been less humble, the place would have been a collector's paradise. 3_music changes SOUND    THE RECORD STOPS. CLICK AS THE NEXT RECORD GOES ON WARREN    You didn't look at the books at all?  Pity. CHARLES    You enthusiasts - always gallivanting ahead.  [dry chuckle] The first object of my curiosity was a book.  It lay open upon the table, presenting such an antediluvian aspect that I marveled at beholding it outside a museum or libary.  Bound in leather with metal fittings, it was in an excellent state of preservation - altogether an unusual sort of volume to encounter in an abode so lowly. WARREN    [eager] And the title? CHARLES    Hold your damn hosses.  When I opened it to the title page my wonder grew even greater, for it proved to be nothing less rare than... [beat, dragging out the suspense] WARREN    Ye-e-e-es? CHARLES    Pigafetta's account of the Congo region, written in Latin from the notes of the sailor Lopex and printed at Frankfurt in 1598. WARREN    [awed!] There's only 12 known copies extant. RICHARD    And you know that off the top of your head?  Oh, Warren.  You need a wife... or at the very least a bad habit. WARREN    Ssh.  The book? CHARLES    The engravings were indeed interesting, drawn wholly from imagination and careless descriptions - it even represented natives with Caucasian features.  Nor would I soon have closed the book had not an exceedingly trivial circumstance upset my tired nerves and revived my sensation of disquiet. SOUND    RATTLE OF HARD RAIN AGAINST THE WINDOW HERBERT    I think I need another drink.  Anyone?  SOUND     DRINKS POUR CHARLES     Go on ahead.  WARREN    [jumping in] The book? CHARLES    [exasperated sigh] What annoyed me was merely the persistent way in which the volume tended to fall open of itself at Plate twelve, which represented in gruesome detail a butcher's shop of the cannibal Anziques. WARREN    Anziques?  They were wiped off the face of the Congo in the seventeenth century, I believe? HERBERT    Were you aware that cannibalism was nowhere near as widespread as so-called history tells us? WARREN    That is a debatable point-- HERBERT    No, no, really - One of the easiest rallying cries to convince your followers to annihilate or enslave another culture was to accuse them of anthropophagy. CHARLES    Fascinating as this is, save it for your own dinner party, Herbert.  What you find so very engaging, I found exceedingly grotesque - to my own shame.  The drawing disturbed me, especially in connection with some adjacent passages descriptive of Anzique gastronomy. HERBERT    What did it say? CHARLES    [annoyed] It's hardly important.  I've worked hard to forget it.  [calm] Anyway, I was examining the rest of the meagre libary - an eighteenth century Bible, a "Pilgrim's Progress" of like period, the rotting bulk of Cotton Mather's "Magnalia Christi Americana," and a few other books of evidently equal age - when my attention was aroused by the unmistakable sound of walking in the room overhead. 4_cook SOUND    DOOR OPENS EVERYONE    [gasps] MARTHA    I'm so sorry sir, I thought you'd all be done by now - I was gonna clean up.  I'll just - I'll just get to it in the morning. CHARLES    Yes, yes of course Martha.  Have a good night. SOUND    DOOR CLOSES RICHARD    You set her up to do that. CHARLES    [not quite convincing]  Of course not.  Heaven forbid.  [a bit smug] That'd be such an entirely transparent ruse.  RICHARD    Perhaps you should be writing these sorts of thrillers, rather than Edward. WARREN    Did he say why he missed coming out tonight? CHARLES    [exasperated sigh]  He dropped by earlier for a moment, but he didn't have much to say.  If I may continue? WARREN    I, at least, am interested. CHARLES    Thank you very much.  I concluded that the occupant had just awakened from a sound sleep, and listened with less surprise as the footsteps sounded on the creaking stairs.  Then, after a moment of silence during which the walker may have been inspecting my bicycle, I heard a fumbling at the door latch and saw the paneled portal swing open again. SOUND    PAUSE, SOME GASPS AS THEY AWAIT SOME SOUND WHICH DOESN'T COME. EVERYONE    [chuckles] CHARLES    In the doorway stood a person of such singular appearance that I might have exclaimed aloud - but for the restraints of good breeding.  Old, white-bearded, and ragged, his height could not have been less than six feet, and despite a general air of age and poverty he was stout and powerful in proportion.  His face, almost hidden by a long beard which grew high on the cheeks, seemed abnormally ruddy and less wrinkled than one might expect; while over a high forehead fell a shock of white hair little thinned by the years.  His blue eyes, though a trifle bloodshot, seemed inexplicably keen and burning.  But for his horrible unkemptness the man would have been as distinguished-looking as he was impressive. WARREN    Unkemptness? HERBERT    I expect the word he should be using - but for the restraints of good breeding - is odoriferous? RICHARD    A-yuh. - the elderly... CHARLES    Yes, yes.   WARREN    Well, Charles, you're halfway to your goal - that alone very nearly brought up my dinner.  CHARLES     It wasn't just the house that suffered from... damp and mildew.  Shall we leave it at that?    5_old man speaks SOUND    RECORD PLAYER CHANGES AGAIN - TO MUSIC FOR FLASHBACK SOUND    CLOCK GETS LOUDER CHARLES    [fading into flashback] The appearance of this man, and the instinctive fear he inspired, prepared me for something like enmity; so that I almost shuddered through surprise and a sense of uncanny incongruity when he motioned me to a chair and addressed me in a thin, weak voice full of fawning respect and ingratiating hospitality. OLD GUY    Catched in the rain, be ye?  Glad ye was nigh the house an' had the sense t' come right in.  I calculate I was asleep, else I'd a heard ye - I ain't as young as I used to be, an' I need a powerful sight o' naps nowadays. WARREN    [breaking] He truly sounded like that?  That's quite an extreme form of archaic Yankee dialect.  I'd thought anything like that dead and gone long years back. HERBERT    There are strange holdouts in little pocket communities all over the back woods. CHARLES    I apologized for my rude entry into his domicile, and-- OLD GUY    Travelling far?  I hain't seen many folks 'long this road since they took off the Arkham stage. CHARLES    I replied that I was going to Arkham, whereupon he continued. OLD GUY    Glad t' see ye, young Sir - new faces is scarce around here, an' I hain't got much t' cheer me up these days. Guess you hail from Boston, don't ye? I never been there, but I can tell a town man when I see 'im - we had one for district schoolmaster in 'eighty-four, but he quit sudden an' no one never heared on 'im since - CHARLES    Here the old man lapsed into a kind of chuckle, and made no explanation when I questioned him.  For some time he rambled on, when it struck me to ask him how he came by so rare a book as Pigafetta's "Regnum Congo." OLD GUY    Oh, that Afriky book? Cap'n Ebenezer Holt traded me that in 'sixty-eight - him as was killed in the war. CHARLES    Now, Ebenezer Holt was a name I had encountered in my genealogical work, but not in any record since the Revolution. I speculated that my host could help me in the task at which I was laboring. OLD GUY    Ebenezer was on a Salem merchantman for years, an' picked up a sight o' queer stuff in every port. He got this in London, I guess - he used to like to buy things at the shops. I was up t' his house once, on the hill, trading horses, when I see this book. I relished the pictures, so he give it in on a swap. 'Tis a queer book - here, leave me get on my spectacles- HERBERT    Spectacles.  Quite terrifying.  A smelly old man in cheaters.  Funny I somehow recall you promising a tale that would set all our hair on end. WARREN    I, for one, am fascinated.  Your recall of his accent is quite impressive.  Is he, do you know - despite being as old as you describe - is he still among the living? CHARLES    I am quite certain of the contrary. WARREN    Pity.  6_more drinks RICHARD    More drinks? CHARLES    Perhaps one more round.  And yes, I am about to get to the meat of the matter, so to speak, if you can hold on for a bit longer, Herbert. HERBERT    Very well.  Patience is a virtue more useful to scientists than many.  I'm putting on my listening face. CHARLES    Good.  The old man donned his glasses, then reached for the volume on the table and turned the pages lovingly. OLD GUY    Ebenezer could read a little o' this - 'tis Latin - but I can't.  I had two or three schoolmasters read me a bit, and Parson Clark, him they say got drownded in the pond - can you make anything out on it? CHARLES     I told him that I could, and translated for his benefit a paragraph near the beginning. If I erred, he was not scholar enough to correct me; for he seemed childishly pleased at my English version. His proximity was becoming rather obnoxious-- HERBERT    Simple hygiene was one of the most important scientific and medical discoveries of the-- CHARLES    [overriding] --yet I saw no way to escape without offending him. I was amused at the childish fondness of this ignorant old man for the pictures in a book he could not read, and wondered how much better he could read the few books in English which adorned the room. This revelation of simplicity removed much of the ill-defined apprehension I had felt, and I smiled as my host rambled on: OLD GUY    Queer how pictures kin set a body thinkin'. Take this one here near the front.  Have you ever seen trees like that, with big leaves a floppin' over an' down?  Some o' these here critters looks like monkeys, or half monkeys an' half men, but I never heared o' nothin' like this un. CHARLES    Here he pointed to a fabulous creature of the artist, which one might describe as a sort of dragon with the head of an alligator. RICHARD    I've seen things like that myself in mediaeval and renaissance art.  To my recollection Bosch painted some, and there's at least one or two in the woodcuts of Breughel. OLD GUY    But now I'll show ye the best un - over here nigh the middle - [getting excited]  What d'ye think o' this - ain't never seen the like hereabouts, eh? When I see this I telled Eb Holt, 'That's somethin' to stir ye up an' make your blood tickle.' RICHARD    Was this still the cut of the lizard man thing? CHARLES    No, [heavy import] he'd just let the book fall open where it would-- OLD GUY    When I read in Scripture about slayin' - like them Midianites was slew - I kinder think things, but I ain't got no picture of it.  Here a body can see all they is to it - I s'pose 'tis sinful, but ain't we all born an' livin' in sin? WARREN    Ahhh - the same picture that put the chills up you? CHARLES    Well, he obviously didn't feel the same way about it-- OLD GUY    That feller bein' chopped up gives me a tickle every time I look at 'im - I have to keep lookin' at 'im - see where the butcher cut off his feet?  There's his head on that bench, with one arm side of it, an' t' other arm's on the other side o' the meat block. CHARLES    As the man mumbled on in his shocking ecstasy the expression on his hairy, spectacled face became indescribable, but his voice sank rather than mounted.  He was almost whispering now, with a huskiness more terrible than a scream. OLD GUY    As I says, 'tis queer how pictures sets ye thinkin'. Do ye know, young Sir, I'm right sot on this one here. After I got the book off Eb I used to look at it a lot, especial when I'd heared Parson Clark rant o' Sundays in his big wig. WARREN    [realizing what the word is] Oh, "Parson"! RICHARD    Oh!  I thought that was his name! WARREN    No, it was the reference to the wig that-- CHARLES    Tell him later.  WARREN    I'll never remember-- CHARLES    Perhaps you should keep some note cards. OLD GUY    Once I tried somethin' funny - here, young Sir, don't get skeert [scared] - all I done was to look at the picture afore I killed the sheep for market - killin' sheep was kind of more fun after lookin' at it - CHARLES    The tone of the old man now sank very low, sometimes becoming so faint that his words were hardly audible. 7_killing sheep SOUND    THE RECORD CHANGES, BECOMES MORE SINISTER SOUNDING CHARLES    I listened to the rain, and to the rattling of the bleared, small-paned windows, and marked a rumbling of approaching thunder quite unusual for the season. OLD MAN    Killin' sheep was kind of more fun - but d'ye know, 't wasn't quite satisfyin'. Queer how a cravin' gets a hold of ye - As ye love the Almighty, young man, don't tell nobody, but I swear to God that picture begun to make me hungry for victuals I couldn't raise nor buy - here, set still, what's ailin' ye? - I didn't do nothin', only I wondered how 't would be if I did - They say meat makes blood an' flesh, an' gives ye new life, so I wondered if 't wouldn't make a man live longer an' longer if 't was more o' the same - CHARLES    But the whisperer never continued. The interruption was not produced by my fright, nor by the rapidly increasing storm. It was produced by a very simple, though somewhat unusual, happening. CHARLES    The open book lay flat between us, with the picture staring repulsively upward. As the old man whispered the words-- OLD GUY    more o' the same CHARLES     --a tiny splattering impact was heard, and something showed on the yellowed paper of the upturned volume. SOUND    THUNDER SHAKES THE HOUSE CHARLES    Oh, heavens! RICHARD    That's why Edward is absent, is it?  I know he's quite the fellow for phobias and superstitions - maybe he has to stay in to avoid the lightning? HERBERT    No - storms have never been on his list - not that he's ever told me.  Anything underground, foreigners, the fair sex, getting lost, and cold drafts - those he will go on and on about avoiding, but never storms.  WARREN    Not that I've heard, either.  But I can add illness, the clear night sky, and heredity to things which make him uneasy. CHARLES    [heavy sigh] I'm almost finished, then you three can gossip on like old biddies all you want.  [storytelling] The drip.  I thought of the rain and of a leaky roof, but rain is not red.  On the butcher's shop of the Anzique cannibals, a small red spattering glistened picturesquely, lending vividness to the horror of the engraving.   SOUND    SQUEAK OF LEATHER CHAIR, AS HE SITS FORWARD CHARLES    The old man saw it, and stopped whispering even before my expression of horror made it necessary; saw it and glanced quickly toward the floor of the room he had left an hour before. I followed his glance, and beheld just above us on the loose plaster of the ancient ceiling a large irregular spot of wet crimson which seemed to spread even as I viewed it. For a moment I couldn't even move, Then a thunderclap broke me out of my hypnotic stare and I realized just what a fix I was in. RICHARD    How did you manage to get away? CHARLES    Oh, so now I have your attention.  Well, it was simple really - I told the authorities later that lightning had struck the house, and I barely escaped with my life, but really-- HERBERT    Lightning?  Ridiculous.  Not that it wouldn't strike a house, but-- CHARLES    BUT - What happened was, I tipped over his lamp, sending burning oil everywhere.  Then I dashed past and out the building, while the old man screamed and wailed behind me. WARREN    Angry at you, was he? CHARLES    [very dry] Well he was on fire.  RICHARD    And the blood? CHARLES    For all that, I wasn't curious enough to go back and look.  Even left my bicycle behind, and had to go shanks mare [on foot] - and through the tail end of the storm, mind you. WARREN    Well, that was an interesting-- 8_windigo CHARLES     Hold on, now.  That's mostly the end of the story, but that crazy old man set me t'thinking ... [trails off] RICHARD    [mildly curious] Yes? CHARLES    Well, I recalled pretty clearly the names he'd mentioned as people he knew back in the day, and when I looked them up in historical records - a couple of them being rather famous, at least locally - and they'd all been dead for at least 50 years. WARREN    He must have been telling you something told him by his father or grandfather - older folks, particularly those in isolated country settings, are often a bit delusional. RICHARD    How old do you think he was? CHARLES    He looked to be about 70, allowing for wind and weather and poverty-- RICHARD    And unkemptness-- WARREN    Yes, yes... CHARLES    --but he was also hale and hearty and strong and .... plump. RICHARD    But you can't think that-- CHARLES    So I started to look into the whole theory.  It was really those last words-- OLD GUY    [echoey] More o'the same... CHARLES     --that made me wonder.  So I find out there's an old Indian myth from a ways up north-- WARREN    The Wendigo?  But that's strictly a cautionary tale.  Ethnologists agree on that. HERBERT    The windy-what? WARREN    May I? CHARLES    [sigh] Certainly. WARREN    [lecturing] The Wendigo, also known as the Windeego, the windikkuk, or the whittikow, is a myth from the various Ojibwa-speaking Indian nations of Canada.  We assume it is a cautionary myth about the evils and perils of resorting to cannibalism during times of famine, particularly during the frozen winter months, which is why the wendigo is inextricably linked with cold and snow. HERBERT    Lovely.  But like scholars everywhere, you left out the best part - what precisely is the myth? WARREN    Oh!  [chuckles]  True, the background is often closer to the academic's heart-- RICHARD    I know the story.  And I won't bore Herbert with the ethnological derivations. WARREN    Go on, then. RICHARD    [spooky]  It is said that the windigo is the spirit of winter, howling always just outside the camps of the people, calling to them to break the taboos and let it in.  For when a man eats the flesh of another man, the spirit of the wendigo can enter him, and turn him into a ravening monster - never satisfied with lesser flesh ever again.  For the wendigo is hunger, endless hunger, and the more it eats, the greater its hunger grows.  So if you're ever in a snowstorm and see a man-like shape, thin and gaunt, and missing the tips of its fingers and its lips - for if it can't find other prey, it will devour its own extremities - you'd best run.  Fast. SOUND    [silent moment, then] LIGHT GOLF CLAP CHARLES     Nicely told.  RICHARD    I really could have used a thunderclap there somewhere.  How do you get so lucky? HERBERT    But your old man, who seems to have indulged himself in cannibalism - or at least, that appeared to be the point of your tale, was ruddy and healthy and stout.  Hmm.  Sounds more like Stoker's description of Count Dracula after a good biting. CHARLES    Interesting point.  I must admit I hadn't made that connection.  I suppose it's not that far a leap from drinking someone's blood to eating their flesh. HERBERT    Wine and wafers. WARREN    No!  I am not going to waste time indulging you in another anti-religious diatribe, Herbert.  We all know where you stand on that. CHARLES    Let's get back to my yarn. RICHARD    There's more?  I thought you'd quite finished? CHARLES    Just a bit to go yet.  There is another myth of the windigo, by the by, though it may be merely a literary creation of Algernon Blackwood.  He wrote of a windigo unrelated to the eating of human flesh-- HERBERT    Anthropophagy. CHARLES    Eh? HERBERT    Sorry.  Anthropophagy is the eating of human flesh.  Cannibalism is the eating of human flesh by a fellow human.  There's quite a difference. 9_blackwood CHARLES    [sigh] Blackwood wrote of the windigo as a huge lonely entity living in the north woods, which calls the names of hunters in the night to lure them away from their campfires.  And one sight of it could drive a man mad. WARREN    Blackwood probably did a bit of bowdlerizing on the original myth - he heard a good story and felt that the cannibalism angle would make it less worthy of publication.  HERBERT    Yes.  Edward has often spoken of his difficulties in getting some of his more gruesome tales into print.  Surprising how old-maid-ish some of these vaunted editors can be. RICHARD    He's not the only one.  Why some of my paintings have been shunned and I've had to remove them from view for fear of having them burned! HERBERT    It makes you wonder what people fear more, the mere act of being shown the horrible, or the person who shows it to them. CHARLES    Enough digression.  As I said, the old man made me wonder.  Made me curious what other tales there were of cannibalism.  After what I discovered, about various religious and cultural activities from around the world, I felt certain the windigo tale wasn't to be taken literally, but as a cautionary tale, created to warn people off from antisocial behavior-- RICHARD    Like Struwwelpeter?  You know, the children's book that warns good little children not to suck their thumbs or the scissor man will come and lop them off? CHARLES    Essentially.  In fact that's a very good example - teaching through use of extreme grotesquerie.  You can't say to a child "leave off sucking that thumb or you'll have pruney thumb in the morning", they just won't take it very seriously, so we invent extremes.  Go off the path and grandma will get eaten by a wolf.  Eat another person and you will turn into a ravening monster. HERBERT    I seem to remember struwwelpeter - it had some horrific illustrations, didn't it?  Particularly for children. CHARLES    I realize I can't possibly hold your interest much longer, but there is a bit more, if you will pay me the courtesy--  [beat] Right.  Well I found that in most cultures - disregarding the various incidents of cannibalism for survival, such as during wars and famines-- A1_medusa WARREN    Like the sinking of the Medusa? CHARLES    What? WARREN    Sorry.  Nothing.  Pray continue. CHARLES    Disregarding eating for survival, there was a pervasive belief that eating parts of one's conquered enemies - human or otherwise - would grant the eater some of the strength of the fallen one.  Many hunters ate the hearts of their prey for this very reason.  Hearts being the seat of bravery in many ancient cultures. RICHARD    The seat of bravery or romantic attachment - how sad it is now relegated to merely the centerpiece for the circulatory system. CHARLES    So they would devour other humans for their strength. Now putting this together with the old man's tale, and his necessary age, if indeed he'd met half the people he mentioned in passing-- HERBERT    And devoured them. CHARLES    Eh? HERBERT    I was thinking back on your tale - if you repeated his words and intonations correctly, and always assuming your cannibalism slant is the true one - then he probably et most of the people he referred to - like "him as they say drowned in the pond". CHARLES    Hmm... [unconvincing] Never really thought much on it. WARREN    Of course you did.  Now you have me interested again. CHARLES    Well, assuming he must have been a couple decades past a hundred when we spoke - at least - then the eating of human flesh had to have had the restorative properties he claimed it did.  Gaining strength from the fallen.  O'course there was always still the threat of the windigo, but I had ruled that out after all the extensive tales of cannibalism due to need in other quarters of the globe, and none of those folks gone crazy, running around eating their own lips. WARREN    [Muttered] The crew of the Medusa went mad. CHARLES    You're not going to let it go, are you?  Fine.  Tell us about the Medusa, but be quick, would you? WARREN    The medusa was a sailing ship heading for the cape of good hope which through poor management was run aground on a sand bar.  Everyone abandoned ship, and the sailors were lost on a raft for weeks.  By the time they were found, they'd resorted to cannibalism and gone mad, not necessarily in that order. RICHARD    I recall the painting in the Louvre - it's massive.  The pathos.  It seemed to imply they were within sight of land the entire time. WARREN    Well, paintings.  They're really more interested in the tragic story than the facts. CHARLES    And they went mad, eh? WARREN    Yes.  You see how it is more universal than you think? CHARLES    They went mad after eating each other. WARREN    Yes. CHARLES    --and being out on the open ocean, possibly within sight of land, for weeks, with no fresh water, in the blistering heat somewhere near the cape of good hope had nothing to do with it. HERBERT    And they started out French. WARREN    Well, when you put it that way-- A2_wrap up CHARLES    [snort] Well, as a final touch to my collection of cannibalistic stories, I did find one rather interesting description of human flesh - the taste and texture of it - written by a connoisseur who had tried some, that said it was much like a good veal - not so tough as beef, nor stringy. RICHARD    I expect that if your cook got ahold of some, it would taste just as good as the veal tonight. CHARLES    Yes.  [with import]  Very likely. HERBERT    Did the description say there was any way to tell the difference? CHARLES    Not if it was cut and prepared right.  Oh, if you found a finger in your stew, you would probably suspect something, but a chop is a chop.  And a roast is a roast. WARREN    [gulp] Where did Edward say he was tonight? CHARLES    He didn't.  You going mad yet?  HERBERT    [interested, not freaked]  You mean, you tricked us into--? WARREN    [trying not to vomit]  Edward!  But he was -- your-- our friend! CHARLES    Still is.  He'll be with us always. RICHARD    [horrified and fascinated]  How did you - do it? CHARLES    Well, I wouldn't let him suffer, would I?  After all, he was a friend. WARREN    I can't -- SOUND    GETTING UP FROM CHAIR, RAPID FOOTSTEPS SOUND    DOOR OPENS. FEET STOP SHORT. EDWARD    [laughing] The look on your face!  WARREN    [long painful gasp] Edward! EDWARD    I never knew you cared. WARREN    [faints] ahh! SOUND    BODY DROP HERBERT    These academics.  Not enough exercise, too much theory. RICHARD    So the cutlet? CHARLES    Veal, o'course, you ninnies.  I only promised you a story to make your gorge rise and your hair stand on end.  Besides.  Martha'd'a never put up with me pulling a stunt like that in her kitchen. END  
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    Atomic Julie - Spoken For by William Morrison

    19:32

    A lot of things in space take a lot of time.
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    19 Nocturne Boulevard - LONELY AT THE TOP - Reissue

    40:53

    Trigger Warnings below the script, below. Two girls in very different times and places both make their way to the top - One finds exaltation, the other merely death. Cast List Tess - Beverly Poole Teza - Lyndsey Thomas Mom - Kris Keppeler Markie/Malque - Julie Hoverson Doctor/Trainer/Priest - Mathias Rebne Morgan Music:  Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com)         Josh Woodward (JoshWoodward.com)         Philippe Mangold [Music of Woodward and Mangold used under a Creative Commons license and available through Jamendo.com] Editing and Sound:   Julie Hoverson Cover Photos: Chris Gilbert     (courtesy of Stock Xchange.com)   "What kind of a place is it?  Why, it's a mother's heart.  Can't you tell?" **************************************************************** LONELY AT THE TOP Cast: Tess (F/16) Teza (F/16) Markie/Marquay (F/16) Mom (F/40) Priest/Trainer/Doctor (M/40)   NOTE:  the roles are deliberately doubled to present the same “people” in both girls’ lives.  The “mom” speeches apply to both at the same time.   OLIVIA     Did you have any trouble finding it?  What do you mean, what kind of a place is it?  Why, it's a Mother's heart, can't you tell?   MUSIC MOM's MUSIC MOM    Darling, this is wonderful.  You can't imagine how proud I am of you!  I've always known you were special, but it means so much to have someone like that see what I have always seen! MUSIC OUT AMB MODERN MARKIE    I totally can't believe it!  You made the cut? TESS    It's not set in stone yet - It's just the semi-finals, but mom's about to wet herself, she's so excited. MARKIE    But Miss Modern Teen Model 2009!  I mean, even if you wash out on the semi-finals, that's still soooo cool!  I wish I was pretty. TESS    Puh-lease.  You're cute.  Cute lasts.  Beauty fades. MARKIE    Cute.  Yeah, that's my curse.  Not tall enough to be a model, not short enough to walk under turnstiles... [laughs a bit bitterly] TESS    Cute lasts.  I have to make the most of this while I can.  Besides, you have plans for your future - the scholarships are lining up.  MARKIE    Yeah yeah yeah, but brains don't get you dates. TESS    Brains last too. MOM MUSIC MOM    The idea that my daughter - my lovely child - could go all the way to the top.  That you could have the perseverance and willpower to do what has to be done to make it.  It will reflect so well on all of us! MUSIC OUT AMB AZTEC MARQUE    You are one of the chosen? TEZA    [laughs delightedly] Yes!  There is still a long path ahead of me, but I feel - it feels right! MARQUE    You are so fortunate!  I wish I was graced with beauty pleasing to the gods.  TEZA    Everyone's fate is different, my dearest friend.  I hear your parents have found you a husband! MARQUE    He is ... kind.  Not unappealing.  Not too old.  Yes, it is a promising match.  I could certainly do worse. TEZA    So you have as much to look forward to as I do! MARQUE    Could you ... do something for me? TEZA    Anything - you are my dearest friend and I love you! MARQUE    When you ... get there, could you petition the great mother Chalchihuitlicue [chal-chee-weet-lee-cue] to smile upon my first pregnancy?  That say that should you survive the first, the others are not so hard. TEZA    Not even a bride yet, and you worry about bearing?  Silly.  Let your time come when it may.  MARQUE    But-- TEZA    But!  But I will.  I will speak with every goddess in the heavens if it will help ease your burden. MARQUE    I love you! MOM MUSIC MOM    Don't be afraid honey, I won't let you fail.  I know you can reach any goal you set your mind on.  You simply must keep your focus.  Can you do that?  Eyes on the prize, sweetheart.  And you know what that means - giving up the things that don't matter to clear the way for the things that do. AMB MODERN MOM    What are you eating? TESS    What?  Ice cream. MOM    No, no, no!  You know what Mr. Dupree said - these last few days before the pageant, you need to stick to simple foods.  No sugar!  Nothing bloaty.   TESS    Chill mom.  I made it this far-- MOM    It just gets harder, honey.  Every inch of the way is like another huge step up the side of a mountain.  None of these steps are easy, but they're worth the effort, if only because of the view once you get up there. TESS    You're really stoked on this, aren’t you? MOM    Yes honey, I'm stoked.  For you.  I want you to be able to get everything you can out of life - a model's life isn't easy, but there are plenty of rewards. TESS    [heard it a million times] and you have to get it while you can, because models are over the hill before they can legally drink. MOM    It's not funny, honey.  It's very serious.  Can't you give it just one year?  How hard is that - to push yourself, for just one year? TESS    I guess. MOM MUSIC MOM    When I heard that you had been chosen, that you were smiled upon out of all the girls, I nearly wept.  I was so pleased.  I've watched your sisters put themselves at the service of husband and children, and I wanted so much more for you.  You are my special, beautiful, darling. AMB AZTEC MARQUE    I'm sorry you will miss my wedding.  TEZA    It is set, then? MARQUE    Not the day, no, but it will be summer next, right after the sowing.  TEZA    A good time.  And I will be with you in spirit.  MARQUE    The midwife thinks I will be old enough, then.  [breaking a little] Oh, I will miss you!  Once you enter the grand temple, we can never speak again! TEZA    You will always be in my heart, as I know I will always be in yours.  I will watch over you and always hear you when you speak to me. MARQUE    It will be in the spring?  For you? TEZA    If I am selected to represent Chicomecoatl [chih-coe-me-coe-ah-tul].  It would be a great honor.  MARQUE    Your mother has been bragging everywhere.  She cannot be quieted.  TEZA    It's as if she was the one being considered. MARQUE    Never mind.  Regardless, we will be together through the winter, while you learn all you must know for the big day.  TEZA    And you learn all you must know for your big day. MOM MUSIC MOM    My dearest child, you don't know how my heart swells with pride when I think about you, up there in front of everyone, beautiful and serene, like a shining star, and knowing, deep inside myself, that I made you perfect. AMB DUAL [Both are speechifying] TESS    I am so pleased to be considered -- TEZA    --to represent our lady of corn on this most sacred of days.  I have always wanted-- TESS    --to be able to find a way to show the world what I have inside, what I have to offer.  And if I could do one thing-- TEZA    --I would like to make my mother, my family, and my people proud of me, for community is everything.  Without the people around us, we-- TESS    --would never have made it this far, this close to becoming the next to represent-- TEZA    --Lady of the corn-- TESS    --Miss Modern Teen Model 2019. AMB MODERN TESS    [crying] MOM    What the hell did you think you were doing in there?  They were laughing at you! TESS    [teary] What? MOM    That judge said you walk like a trucker with hemorrhoids! TESS    I don't know how I walk!  I don't watch me! MOM    [softening] Honey!  Sweetie!  Oh, come here.  It's not over - I promise you.  You were doing so well, I'm sure this one thing won't put you out entirely, as long as you don't give up.  TESS    I want to-- MOM    Shh. Shh.  We'll just find someone to do something about that walk.  No big deal. AMB AZTEC TEZA    [tears] It's all over! I know it! MARQUE    Why? TEZA    The rich merchant from Tenochtitlan - he has requested I marry him! MARQUE    But doesn't he know you are destined for the temple? TEZA    [scornful] Apparently he likes the idea of marrying someone perfect enough for the gods. MARQUE    That is - he is asking for something terrible to happen! TEZA    Well, I haven't been chosen yet - if I tried to step away then, that would be blasphemy.  But to drop out now... what a blow it would be to everyone.  And yet - my mother may consider his offer, since he is very prosperous.  It is not fair! MARQUE    No.   Do not worry.  I think this means as much to your mother - more even - than it does to you.  She wishes you to secure her a place in the high tables of the night.  And there is money from the temple as well - the position is a very prestigious one.  MOM MUSIC MOM    Your dreams are all that matters, my dearest child.  I will never try and stop you from getting everything you deserve.  You know you can count on my support every step of the way.  I will always be behind you to help you face forward, and will push you up every step, if that's what it takes.  AMB MODERN SOUND    VOMITING MUFFLED BY DOOR MOM    Honey?  You doing all right? TESS    [recovering] Just a minute. MOM    Quick rinse, dear - there's someone here to see you! SOUND    DOOR SHUTS, FOOTSTEPS MOM    She'll be out in a minute - fixing her face, you know. TRAINER    Of course.  Why don't work out my fees while we wait-- SOUND     DOOR OPENS TESS    [subdued] Hi. MOM    Oh, come on, show a little enthusiasm!  She's really much more excited than that. TRAINER    Don't worry - I understand.  So this is Tess.  [hmming noises] SOUND    FOOTSTEPS CIRCLE TESS TRAINER    Has she had any formal modeling training? MOM    She's been taking classes since she was nine. TRAINER    [disapproving]  Hmm. MOM    But she also studied ballet, tap, jazz, deportment, and has kept up a 3.7 G-P-A. TRAINER    [dismissive noise] TESS    And I- TRAINER    Shh!  How old is she? MOM    Fourteen.  TRAINER    We're starting it a bit late, but I see potential here.  Show me this walk... MOM MUSIC MOM    Think on this.  Think of the great ones - the ones we all idolize and hold in great regard.  Now picture your face there, among them, gracing the rest of us below.  Can't you see yourself?  Your perfect self? AMB AZTEC MOM    [whispered]  Don't they look grand in their feathers?  They hold our future - your future in their very hands. TEZA    Mother.  You will make me tongue-tied.  They are wise and all-knowing.  They will know if I am the one-- MOM    That you are the one-- TEZA    --the minute they lay eyes upon me. MOM    [gasp] Was that your name?  Did they call your name? TEZA    Yes, mother it was my name.  Pray for me. SOUND    ECHOING FOOTSTEPS PRIEST    You, child.  You aspire to represent the great lady of the corn? TEZA    [awed and respectful]  Yes, if it please the gods. PRIEST    You are lovely, but are you pure? TEZA    Yes, sire.  My mother can swear to it. PRIEST    Remove your shawl, show us your body.  Do not hesitate, child - nothing untoward will happen.  Your mother is right there watching. SOUND    HEAVY FABRIC FALLS TO THE FLOOR MOM MUSIC MOM    It's just skin, honey.  You have nothing to be embarrassed about.  You're lovely.  Think of yourself as a work of art, and they are objective observers.  They wouldn't be interested in you that way, anyway - you know that.  And I'm right here.  Tell me if you get nervous, and I'll make them stop.  All right?  You know every girl who has gone  before has been through this same thing. AMB MODERN TESS    [nervous, jittery]  Well, they haven't said no, yet. MARKIE    That's good. TESS    I guess.  I mean, I'm starting to wonder whether it's all really worth it.  I'm supposed to get good sleep, be rested, so I can look my best, but half the time I'm too damn nervous, or hungry, or...something.  I'm always trying not to think of things, like food, or having time to myself - I mean, what is it all for? MARKIE    Wow.  Maybe you should just tell your mom you want to stop. TESS    Tell my mom?  [laughs almost hysterically] Tell my mom?  Are you high?  She would toss me out on my ear.  She's got so into this - and besides, she's spent all this money - mucho dinero, you know - to get me this far.  How can I let her down - make her waste all that? MARKIE    But you have to think of yourself, right? TESS    I promised her I would do this for one year.  Just a year - I can do it.  [affirmations] I have the willpower to maintain, and the serenity to--[breaks into a sob] MARKIE    Have you eaten anything today? TESS    I can't!  The pre-judging is tomorrow. MARKIE    I have some tic-tacs-- TESS    No!  Don't tempt me!  Shit, Markie, you're supposed to be helping me! MOM MUSIC MOM    It will all be worth it, you know it will.  The purging, the special oils.  You will always be the most lovely one in the place - caught in that one special moment, when you shine above all others.  No one will ever forget you after that! AMB AZTEC TEZA    great and reverent master, what if I have doubts? PRIEST    Doubts?  What doubts, child? TEZA    I fear that I will not be worthy.  That I will falter in my steps and dishonor the crown of corn. PRIEST    I can look into your heart, child, and I see that you have the strength within you to bear this burden - to rise to the heights, and carry the name of Chicomecoatl with dignity and grace. TEZA    Do you? PRIEST    It is always the way of men and women to doubt themselves.  To worry that they will lose themselves in fear, or to ponder what life would be like had they not stepped out upon the path to greatness.  Ever and always. TEZA    But what can I do? PRIEST    Fast and pray, child.  I know you will see the correctness of your choice.  And when your day of glory comes, you will never know fear or doubt again. MOM MUSIC MOM    A boy?  What do you mean a boy?  You don't have time for - you're too young for boys.  All the boys you could possibly want will be at your feet, when the time comes, but right now - [hissed] it will ruin you.  AMB MODERN TESS    But Corey's on TV!  He could help my-- MOM    He could get you on the covers of a bunch of sleazy tabloids-- TESS    But you said publicity is good-- MOM    Not that kind - that will make sure everyone knows your name, but you will never be high class again!  Save that kind of exploitation for when your looks start to fade. TESS    Yeah, like when I'm 17. MOM    You knew going in this was a short hard run, missy.  There is no free ride.  You wanted this as much as I did! TESS    Well I don't want it any more!  I want to have a normal life! MOM    Fine.  We can go back to living a normal life.  You and me and your dad - oh, wait.  Where should we live, hun?  We sold the house when we came on the road with you - to finance your headshots and your spa treatments.  I suppose if you quit school-- TESS    [muttered] I can't concentrate anyway. MOM    --and get a job in fast food, we three between us could make enough to [ramping up, each statement a dagger] live in a crappy little apartment and eat junk food all the time and get enormously fat and covered in  acne, and then as soon as you're old enough, you can run off with some high school drop out who wants to start a band-- [sliding down, into her own misery] but of course you love each other and he ends up driving Greyhound and you lose the last vestige of your waist when you have the first three children, but the fourth child - your fourth child, she might just be perfect enough to live the good life - the beautiful life - at least until she ruins it! TEZA    You gave me the choice mother, and I accept my fate. MOM    I always knew you were just too good to live.  You are an angel, honey, a perfect angel. TESS    Yes, mother. MOM    Sweetie.  [all business] Now here's your pills from Dr. Gustavson - he said don't take them on an empty stomach, so go grab a cracker and some diet soda. MOM MUSIC MOM    There is nothing wrong with wanting more for your child than you had.  Wanting to guide her and make sure she gets the advantages instead of making the same stupid mistakes you made.  Is there?  Isn’t all of life - at least the lives of parents - the effort to make a better life for your children? AMB AZTEC MARQUE     And is he very handsome, the chosen vessel of Tezcatlipoca? TEZA    Don't be silly - he is perfect.  They wouldn't have chosen him otherwise.  [sigh] but of course, we are set upon different paths. MARQUE    Perhaps you will meet later.  Beyond the sun. TEZA    Perhaps.  But he has been given four wives who are all perfect as well.   MARQUE    And you are the Lady of Corn - none can shine brighter than a candle in the sunlight when you are in the room.  I swear you get more beautiful every day.  This suits you. TEZA    Thank you - my mother says so also.  [beat]  We are to meet at another function - what if he talks to me again? MARQUE    Talk is all well and good, but do not be alone.  It is so humiliating to prove that you have not fallen into temptation. TEZA    ugh [shudder]  I could go my whole life without ever feeling that again.  [bucks up] And I shall.  I may talk to him, but I will never step out of the sight of the priests.  We will both remain perfect. MARQUE    Very good. TEZA    I wish you could have come with me...but the temple handmaidens are devoted even earlier than we. MARQUE    Well, I have news for you as well.  My husband to be, [pleased] who has meals with my family more often than custom requires -hmm? - is really quite an amusing man.  And very fond of me.  I may not have my moment in the center of the universe, but I will have a good life. TEZA    I am so pleased.  And I will remember to   petition for you. SOUND    [hug noise] MOM MUSIC MOM    Unhappy?  How can you be unhappy?  You have everything you could possibly want - your face in front of everyone, men at your beck and call, and attending all the best celebrations!  What could you possibly be missing?  [wheedling] you know I'm only doing this for you!  You want this as much as I do!  You've finally made it, honey, what more could any girl want?  Every girl out there looks at you and cries herself to sleep wishing she could trade lives with you.  That is enough to make anyone happy, isn’t it?  To be envied?  How could you possibly be unhappy enough to do this? AMB MODERN DOCTOR    Now take two of these every eight hours, to prevent infection, and change the dressings every 4 hours or so.  MOM    I'll keep her on schedule, don't you worry.  And...this won't get out? DOCTOR    It's hardly likely that people won't notice the change, even with the recuperation period, but I certainly don't keep in business by revealing personal info about my clientele. TESS    Mom? MOM    Don't worry, dear.  Momma's right here. TESS    You said I wouldn't feel it. MOM    Does it hurt, honey?  Here, doctor, can she have something for the pain? DOCTOR    That's in the bag too, but do go light on them - you don't want to become dependent.  MOM    And when the scars heal, and everyone sees  how lovely you are, with your new curves, you will be the envy of even more of the world. TESS    [dully] Of course, mother. MOM MUSIC MOM    Even perfection can be improved on.  Beauty is pain.  That which is prized most is always hardest to come by.  If it was easy to be beautiful, everyone would want to be ugly instead.  You cannot be special if everyone can easily achieve what you have.  You must stand out.  You must shine.  Look into that mirror, dearest child, and tell me you don't love yourself even more each day as you come closer and closer to perfection. MUSIC - BOTH TEZA    Life is pain TESS    Beauty sucks. TEZA    I am being remade in the image of the goddess.  TESS    Who decides what I should fucking look like? TEZA    Painted and pierced.  Smoothed and scented.  I am treated like a queen. TESS    If I have to have one more operation, I'll pee stitches. TEZA    I bite the stick and let the pain carry me away as they mold my flesh. TESS    I cry all night, silently, so my mother won't come and comfort me. AMB AZTEC TEZA    See my new ear plugs?  They made them larger again, and heavy.  They almost touch my shoulders now. MARQUE    Don't they hurt? TEZA    Of course, but pain won't last forever.  I rather coveted a nose piercing as well, but that is not suited to the lady.  I am being remade in her image. MARQUE    I really admire your hair.  Such elegantly styled coils and plaits! TEZA    Smell!  Only the finest oils must touch me.  Everything is moving so quickly - such a short time left before the day I ascend to the top of the sky. MARQUE    Too bad it is not sooner - my sister will start her labor soon, and she could use a blessing from the lady of rivers.  TEZA    I can still burn offerings, like anyone else. MARQUE    True, but I can't help but feel the word of the corn lady will be heard so much louder than mere mortals such as we. TEZA    [laughs ruefully] I can ask any one of a legion of priests to guide me in my prayers, and they will gladly help - for it is goodly for the lady of the corn to look after those with child.  MARQUE    Would you? TEZA    Yes.  And the priests - well their voices will carry as far as they need to go. [they laugh] MOM MUSIC MOM    The day is set, my child.  You have reached the height.  This can never be undone and leave you a nobody ever again.  Everyone will see your face, and know - they will know - that you are the center of the universe. AMB MODERN TESS    Who the hell am I? MOM    What?  Sweetie, you're-- TESS    I used to know!  I used to be Tess, a pretty and I dunno - slightly talented, maybe - high school student, and now--[sob catches] MOM    Now, you're the most beautiful woman in the world - the magazine said so.  It showed your absolute perfection-- TESS    Not my perfection, mother - that's complete crap.  I'm like - I'm like Mr. potato head, and you stuck hair and makeup and a pair of boobs on me - None of this is me!  Who the hell am I?  Did you ever ask?  Did you ever care? MOM    Honey!  It's just icing on a wonderful  cake.  You like cake, don't you?  [ingratiating] And isn’t it better with frosting? TESS    [through gritted teeth] I don't GET cake, mother, not unless I want to taste it both ways [eating and throwing up].  I don’t even know if I could hold it down if I tried. MOM    What the hell has got into you?  TESS    You couldn’t even leave me my own name, could you?  "Tess" just isn't supermodel material.  And you didn’t even choose it - you let a marketing firm do a survey and took their suggestions. MOM    You got to pick one of the three they came up with-- TESS    There isn’t any me left under all this, mother!  Nothing.  I'm hollow.  Empty. MOM    Where are you going? TESS    To find something to fill me. MOM MUSIC MOM    Purpose.  Purpose is enough, isn’t it?  You are moving forward, ever forward.  The search for perfection is a road, not a destination.  There is nothing wrong with embellishing the beauty you were born with. AMB AZTEC MARQUE    [crying]  It was horrible. TEZA    I'm so sorry.  I did what I could. MARQUE    I know.  She is with the gods, now, but it was so awful.  I - I'm so scared. TEZA    Why? MARQUE    Watching her - watching the blood and the pain, hours and hours of it - and the baby died too!  How can I ever choose to go through that? TEZA    It is what women do. MARQUE    You won't ever have to. TEZA    [teasing a bit] I have to give life to the whole world.  [serious] But I feel for you.  And for your sister, and her baby.  It is a tragedy. MARQUE    Is there anything in life that doesn’t hurt? TEZA    Flowers.  Chocolate.  Love. MARQUE    You know what I mean - important things. TEZA    What is more important than Love? MARQUE    [sniff, then a tiny sad uh-huh] MOM MUSIC MOM    Only a few more days.  Nothing must go wrong.  You must be so very careful not to harm yourself, even a scratch or a nick will show.  Only the most skilled may come to do your hair, massage, and dress you in the most beautiful garments.  Nothing is left to chance.  Nothing.  Do you hear me?  Nothing will go wrong, even if I have to hurt someone. MODERN AMB MOM    I see you're feeling a little better? TESS    [dull] Yes I took my medicine. MOM    Good.  Nothing like seeing a smile on my little girl's face again.  And there's nothing wrong with using science to combat unhappiness. TESS    Yes mother. MOM    Unhappiness isn't natural.  Especially for beautiful people. TESS    Beautiful. MOM    Dear.  Don't frown.  You don't want to get wrinkles! TESS    Why don't I just lie here like a blob?  That way I can't break a nail. MOM    Are you sure you took your pills? TESS    [sigh] MOM MUSIC MOM    It is always darkest right before the dawn.  And it is always tensest the night before the main event.  You hold your breath and pray for dawn, the watch the shadows crawl across the ground, feeling like the final moment will never come.  And once it arrives?  Pfft.  It is over.  AZTEC AMB TEZA    I'm happy you could sit vigil this night with me, mother. MOM    How could I do otherwise, my darling chosen one? TEZA    [teasing] You must relinquish your claim to me, since I am now the Corn lady. MOM    [fondly, almost in tears]  My lady of corn.  I will never forget that I was able to contribute to the glory you represent. TEZA    Without you I would not be here - would not be able to bring life to the crops for another year. MOM    And yet it is a melancholy time as well.   Knowing that the great lady will ascend to heaven tomorrow. TEZA    I told Marque I will watch over her.  I can watch you both.  I have two eyes. MOM    Can Teza give her mother a final kiss before the Corn lady must take her walk? TEZA    Of course.  [kiss noise] MOM MUSIC MOM    And this is it.  The end.  What we have worked so hard for.  I know it is a sad time.  I feel sad too, but the triumph, the glory, the joy will outweigh the sorrow.  MODERN AMB MOM    What the hell do you mean, she's gone?  TRAINER    She was here for the opening - the talent portion is about to start, and she's not in the dressing room.  MOM    Have you checked the bathroom? TRAINER    I asked every girl in there, and between yarks they said they hadn't seen her. MOM    How could she do this to me? TRAINER    Worse - her opening number gown is gone too, and it was a rental. AMB - MIXED [Tess is down, Teza is filled with joy] TEZA    I gaze up the endless stairs TESS    Knowing this will be my last trip BOTH    I feel my sandals shift beneath my feet as I take the first step. TEZA    With each step, the roaring grows louder TESS    The voices in my head just won't shut up! TEZA    I must go slowly, for while I cannot falter, neither can I look down. TESS    My head is so heavy TEZA    My crown is so weighty. BOTH    I feel all those eyes upon me. TESS    [shriek] They won't leave me alone! TEZA    [ecstatic] They love me! TESS    They hate me! TEZA    Each step takes me higher.  Closer to the heavens. TESS    I haul myself up, one step at a time. TEZA    My ears still ache - the pain reminds me of what I leave behind. TESS    The pain of what I have become will never leave me. TEZA    The scent of a thousand flowers, thrown by the crowd, surrounds me. TESS    The hallway smells of puke. BOTH    Only a few more steps.  TEZA    I thrill with fear and longing, yearning for the gods. TESS    Please god don't let me fuck this up. TEZA    The priests await me, stern and welcoming. TESS    I see a face and don't recognize myself until I realize it's a mirror. TEZA    The name me Chicomecoatl, and I know I have become the Lady of the corn. TESS    I stare into the eyes in the mirror and have no clue who she is. BOTH    I take up the cup. TEZA    The drink warms me, and I love everyone. TESS    I drink slowly, timing the pills - too fast and I'll barf it all up before it can work. TEZA    My mind floats. BOTH    I can't feel anything anymore. TEZA    They gently lay me on the altar. TESS    The bathroom tile is cool under my cheek. TEZA    The knife above me catches light from Huitztipotchli's glory. TESS    Everything is getting dark TEZA    The knife falls and I transcend. TESS    Everything goes black. OMINOUS SILENCE CLOSING MUSIC SLOWLY CREEPS IN **************************************************************** T R I G G E R W A R N I N G S   [TW - mature language and situations, extreme dieting, non-gender related body dysmorphia and modification, depression, suicide, human sacrifice]
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    Atomic Julie - Patch by William Shedenhelm

    18:41

    The old boys who fly by the seat of their pants can solve problems that make the more modern space jockeys completely panic.

Get the whole world of podcasts with the free GetPodcast app.

Subscribe to your favorite podcasts, listen to episodes offline and get thrilling recommendations.

iOS buttonAndroid button
© radio.de GmbH 2022radio.net logo