Episode 41: “Darkness Visible”

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CONTENT WARNING: Brief moments of body horror, claustrophobia, paranoia, character betrayal, low rumbling SFX, some strong language

11022019d: Following a disastrous night out, Bill Tyler follows Ned Leroux in search of answers, only to find far more than he bargained for beneath the desert sands of Oslow…

Starring Jesse Steele as Bill Tyler, Ezra J. Wayne as Ned Leroux, Mike Kennedy as Edgar Morrison, Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, Virginia Spotts as Kate Sheridan, and Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written by Trevor Van Winkle and produced by Virginia Spotts and Trevor Van Winkle, and made possible by our supporters at Patreon.com/homesteadcorner and ko-fi.com/homesteadcorner

For more information, additional content, and episode transcript, visit thesheridantapes.com

Payphone Sound Effects from https://freesound.org/people/everythingsounds/

Script

TST_210430_S041_Thumb

Transcript

CONTENT WARNING: Brief moments of body horror, claustrophobia, paranoia, character betrayal, low rumbling SFX, some strong language

Cold Open

[A semi-truck roars to life and pulls away]

[A quiet roadside stop, on a quiet night]

[Bill Tyler talks at a payphone]

MARIA SOL (over phone)

You sure he doesn’t suspect anything?

BILL TYLER

No, no, he’s got no idea where the tapes are, he’s pissed about it though. And I doubt he’s going to stop looking for answers any time soon.

MARIA SOL (over phone)

And… Sam… is he – ?

BILL TYLER

He’s okay. I’ve got him tucked away somewhere Chief will never find him. He’s safe.

MARIA SOL (over phone)

Where?

BILL TYLER

I can’t say it now… I’m taking enough of a risk just calling you, even from a pay phone.

MARIA SOL (over phone)

Got it. Should we keep our old rendezvous, or…?

BILL TYLER

No, no – it won’t work anymore. Chief will be watching me like a hawk from here on. I’ll figure out a way to get back in touch with you if I need to. Toss your burner phone as soon as you hang up.

MARIA SOL (over phone)

Got it. Good luck, Bill.

BILL TYLER

Yeah… Same to you Maria. I hope I see you again.

MARIA SOL (over phone)

Yeah… sure… 

[Bill hangs up, change clattering into the tray. He sighs]

BILL TYLER

Oh, Goddamnit.

[He turns and walks back to his car. He fumbles for his keys, then unlocks the trunk. It swings open noisily]

BILL TYLER

How’re you doing back there Sam?

SAM BAILEY

[Pained groan]

How do you think?

[Sam climbs clumsily out of the trunk]

SAM BAILEY

Where are we?

BILL TYLER

Rest area, just past Topaz. It’s usually pretty quiet, so we should be safe to stretch our legs for a bit. Here…

[Bill quickly unlocks Sam’s handcuffs. Sam rubs his sore wrists]

SAM BAILEY

Thanks.

BILL TYLER

Sorry, I had to keep them on for Morrison’s sake. He has to think you’re… Well…

SAM BAILEY 

“Gotten rid of?”

BILL TYLER

Yeah.

SAM BAILEY 

And you’re okay with that?

BILL TYLER

No. Of course not. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here.

SAM BAILEY 

That’s not what I mean.

BILL TYLER

Sam –

SAM BAILEY

How on earth are you okay with him ordering you to – to kill me? You didn’t even question it!

BILL TYLER

He – he made a mistake, that’s all. He’s just worked up about everything with the Echo. He’s probably just trying to make sure that –

SAM BAILEY 

He knew about the Echo before we did, Bill. He was working with her from the start.

BILL TYLER 

He… Why would he do that?

SAM BAILEY 

I don’t know. Best guess – this was all some kind of test to see if I’m still connected to the lake. To see if he could use me.

It doesn’t all add up, but – Does it really matter?

BILL TYLER 

He must have had a reason.

SAM BAILEY 

[Scoffs]

Yeah – he’s a fucking psychopath.

BILL TYLER 

You don’t know Morrison, Sam. Not like I do. And he isn’t crazy. He doesn’t hurt people unless he absolutely needs to. And he doesn’t do things like this without a reason.

[Pause]

SAM BAILEY

How much did you know?

BILL TYLER 

I – What?

SAM BAILEY 

How much did you know about Morrison’s plan before tonight? About why he hired me?

BILL TYLER 

Sam, we don’t have time for this right now –

SAM BAILEY 

Then keep it short. If you can.

BILL TYLER

[Weary sigh]

Not much. Look, I knew Morrison was interested in you – what you did in Agate Shore, how you were adjusting, stuff like that. So he asked me to… Well, he ordered me to spy on you.

SAM BAILEY 

He what?

BILL TYLER

He told me to keep an eye on you, see how you were doing with the Sheridan case. And he… Well, he asked me to plant a cassette in your office for you to find.

SAM BAILEY 

Wait… That wasn’t –

BILL TYLER 

Yeah. It was. Look Sam, I’m really sorry that –

SAM BAILEY 

You put my tape in Anna’s case? When?

BILL TYLER 

The morning we ran into De Witt, right after you went to go get coffee for Rob.

Listen, I’m… I’m really sorry, Sam.

SAM BAILEY 

[Scoffs]

Are you? Are you really?

BILL TYLER 

Yeah. More… More than you can know.

[Pause]

SAM BAILEY

Did you know what I – What I am? Before tonight?

BILL TYLER 

No.

SAM BAILEY

Would you have done anything different if you had?

[A long pause]

[Cassette noises]

BILL TYLER

We’d better get moving… We’ve got a long way to go still.

[Click]

Main Theme

Recording Begins

[Cassette noises]

[Static fades away]

[Just outside a recently-emptied bar late at night, with just the faint sounds of occasional traffic]

KATE SHERIDAN

Goodbye, Lieutenant Tyler.

[Kate walks off, and Bill watches her go. Then he shifts, looking down at the recorder in his pocket]

BILL TYLER 

Oh, of fucking course I got all of that on tape–

[Bill turns and walks off, scanning the sidewalk]

BILL TYLER 

[Hushed, calling out]

Ned? Ned, where are you? Look, Sheridan’s gone and I just – I just want to talk, okay?

[Ambulance siren in the distance]

Great… Now I’ve lost both of them. Note to self: stop inviting people out to karaoke. It never ends well –

NED LEROUX 

[muffled, distant, into phone]

…they’re both taken care of. Yes. Yes, of course. They both left as soon as it happened.

[Bill creeps closer, and hides]

NED LEROUX

Yes, I know it was a bit much, but I didn’t have a whole lot of other options. I thought we’d be done by then, and I couldn’t think of a faster way to empty the bar.

Fine, no – that wasn’t why I did it. He was annoying me. I didn’t expect everyone to get so wound up about it, is all.

[He sighs]

I guess not. But still – No, you listen. He’ll be fine. You pay the manager off, he gives him a nice little Christmas bonus, and everyone forgets about –

No, I don’t think you’re made of money, but I know you have enough of it lying around that you don’t need to worry about it. Not half as much as you pretend to, at least.

Yes, I can still make it in time. If I hurry. Right. See you in a bit.

[Ned hangs up, walking out of the alley]

NED LEROUX 

Stupid greedy sonofabitch…

[Ned gets in his car, and Bill lets out a sigh of relief]

BILL TYLER 

What the hell was that about?

[Bill quietly walks over to the edge of the building and looks around]

Look… I don’t know how much of that the recorder picked up Sam, but… Ned’s acting really shady right now. He’s getting into his car – it definitely sounds like he’s in a hurry to be somewhere. If he’s going to meet someone right now – Well, I don’t really know if he’s up to it with how much he’s been drinking. I should… I should probably follow him for a bit. Make sure he’s alright. I don’t think Ned’s ever seen my car, so he shouldn’t notice me if I…

[Ned starts his engine, starting to pull away]

BILL TYLER

Oh, shit. He’s moving.

[Bill starts running for his car, and the recorder clicks off]

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[A quiet street just outside Oslow. Brief handling noises as Bill sets the recorder down on his car dash]

BILL TYLER 

Okay, I stopped the recorder when I left the parking lot, and it’s been about… 30 minutes since then. I’m a few miles out of town now, and Ned just turned off the highway onto one of those little service roads out here… But I don’t know where he thinks he’s going. I don’t think there’s anything out here, and the road he’s on just looks like it goes straight out into the middle of the desert. Thankfully there’s not much of a moon tonight, so I can probably follow him without being seen, so long as I turn my lights off. It’s probably going to be murder on my car, but… I need to make sure he’s okay.

[Bill turns off, turn signal clicking, tires leaving the smooth asphalt for a sandy one-lane road. The car rocks and rattles with each bump]

Good, I can still see his tail lights from back here. He’s about half a mile ahead of me, so hopefully he won’t notice. I’m honestly really worried about him. I don’t know where he’s going or what he’s doing out here, but – he’s clearly not in the best place right now. And if he’s meeting with someone out here, then – Whoah!

[Bill slams on the brakes, panting slightly. Dust and small rocks clatter against the bottom of his car]

Sorry, I don’t… Oh, shit, he’s getting further away.

[Bill accelerates slowly]

That was really weird. I don’t know what happened, but I just felt like… like someone knew I was here. Not like someone was watching me but just like… that feeling you get when someone knows you’re lying, and you know they know. Except… except it was like someone knew everything I was thinking, but… 

There’s something supernatural out here… And Ned’s driving straight towards it. Is it… Controlling him, somehow? That might explain what he did at the bar, but… Wait. Wait, he’s turning off, he’s stopping.

[Bill brakes, then turns off his engine and rolls down his windows. The sounds of the quiet desert night fill the car]

[In the distance, Ned’s door swings open, then slams shut. He takes a few steps, then stops]

[Quiet whisper]

What are you doing there, buddy? I can’t see you there…

[Slight movement as Ned kneels, then a quiet metallic scraping. Noises of creatures in the distance. Then silence]

Okay… Ned just disappeared on me. Either he knows I’m here and he’s hiding behind his car, or – Well, I don’t know what.

[Bill starts his car again and pulls forward the rest of the way]

I guess… If he knows I’m here, then there’s no point in hiding. Might as well ask him what he’s up to.

[He comes to a stop]

Eh… What the hell?

[Bill cuts the engine and steps out of his car, looking around]

He’s… He’s gone. How can he be gone? There’s nowhere to hide out here – it’s flat all the way to the highway.

[Bill crosses to Ned’s car, looking around. When he sees nothing, he steps back]

What are you playing at, Ned?

[Bill unclips a flashlight from his belt, turning it on and searching the area]

Okay. There are his footprints. They’re faint, but it looks like he stepped out of his car, walked about five paces due east, and – What is that?

[Bill walks over and kneels down, brushing dirt off a metallic surface]

Uh… There’s some kind of – metal plate in the ground here. It’s round and flat, like a manhole cover, but… Hinged. It looks pretty hefty, too. It’s recessed into the ground and painted the same color as the dirt around it, so you can’t really see anything unless you’re standing on top of it. There’s no markings – and no handle. I guess that would make it too easy to spot. There’s, a… A groove in the side of it that should let me – Ah!

[Bill gets his fingers into the groove and pulls the creaking, rusty, heavy metal door open]

Okay – looks like it leads down into some kind of vertical shaft. There’s a ladder built into the side of it, and it’s about… 50 feet down to the bottom, as far as I can tell. I can’t see anything else down there, but –

EDGAR MORRISON (muffled, almost inaudible)

Took you long enough to get here.

NED LEROUX (muffled, almost inaudible)

Had to cut across midtown to make sure I wasn’t followed.

EDGAR MORRISON (muffled, almost inaudible) 

Were you?

NED LEROUX (muffled, almost inaudible)

[Scoffs]

Not a chance.

EDGAR MORRISON (muffled, almost inaudible)

Hm. Fine. Let’s go.

[A door creaks open below, and the voices disappear]

BILL TYLER 

Is that… No, it can’t be.

Something is definitely wrong here. I’m… I’m going to leave this running and go down. See if Ned’s okay. Maybe figure out what’s going on with him.

[Bill turns and sits down on the edge of the opening. He takes a deep breath]

Oh God, that’s a long way down.

[He sets his feet on the rungs, then grabs a handhold and begins to carefully climb down the narrow concrete tube]

[The soundscape shifts to the dark, heavy echo of an enormous concrete structure as he descends]

Ow… Who the hell was this thing built for? I can barely move in here. I bet Ned didn’t have any problems, the skinny little – Whoa!

[Bill slips, and he falls a couple feet before catching another rung with a nervous gasp]

Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck…

[He takes a deep breath]

I’m okay – just lost my grip and fell a couple of – stories. Or maybe just a few feet, I can’t really tell in the dark. God, I hate this.

[He takes another deep breath, then starts descending again. A few moments later, he jumps the last couple rungs and lands on a rocky, dirty surface]

[Wind whistles through the area]

Okay – made it down. Great. Never doing that again. At least –

Not until I have to climb back up. Perfect.

[Bill switches on his flashlight, looking around]

Wow… Uh, it’s way bigger than I expected it to be. It looks like some kind of… Service tunnel, maybe? God. The roof is

at least 16 feet high, and the whole thing is about two lanes wide. It’s paved, so I think it was a road at some point, but I have no idea where it leads. The tunnel looks like it collapsed about twenty yards down, but it’s clear the other way. I think that’s where I heard Ned’s voice coming from too, so… I guess that’s where I’m going.

God, I really should have brought a better flashlight. This one’s barely doing anything down here.

[Heavy static rises on the tape]

That feeling’s back – that feeling like someone knows I’m here. It’s not quite as bad now, but it’s still really unnerving. Like there’s someone staring at me from inside my own head. The sooner I get Ned out of here, the –

[He pauses]

Huh…

[He walks to the door]

There’s a metal door built into the side of the tunnel here. I think it’s supposed to lead into a side room or… Maybe some kind of passage? It’s bolted shut, though. And there’s… Well, it looks like there used to be some kind of logo or insignia on it, but it’s been burned off – probably with a blowtorch, by the look of it. The only thing that’s still visible is a couple of letters along the bottom – P.M.K.C.T.S… And then the rest of it is too scorched to read.

It looks like there are a couple more doors around the tunnel, all sealed and burned.

Someone clearly wanted to hide what they were doing down here. And I’m guessing the tunnel didn’t just collapse on its own, either. But what the hell is this place? It looks like some kind of bunker, but I’ve never heard of –

EDGAR MORRISON (muffled through the wall)

Goddamnit Leroux! Come with me, now.

NED LEROUX (muffled through the wall)

Sir, I can –

EDGAR MORRISON (muffled through the wall) 

Now.

BILL TYLER 

No… No, that’s definitely Morrison. What is he doing here?

[Bill creeps further down the passage]

There’s another door up ahead – a bigger one, and it’s not sealed off. It almost looks like a vault door, or… Maybe a small blast door? That would make sense if this was some kind of fallout shelter – but then why would there be rooms out here? Unless –

[Bill stops, hesitating on the threshold]

Unless it wasn’t built to keep things out.

[Bill pauses for a long moment, then continues]

Come on – Ned might need your help in there. You can’t leave him like this.

[Bill grabs the door and pulls it open. It creaks heavily]

Okay… That’s wide enough to get in. Get Ned out of there, go back up the ladder, and forget this ever happened.

[Still, Bill doesn’t move. After a moment…]

Come on Tyler, just go.

[Bill still waits a moment before sliding inside]

[Past the door, small electronics and work lights buzz and hum, the whistling wind of the tunnel fading away]

Oh. This is… Uh, this isn’t what I was expecting. It’s a large, round room – about the size of a basketball court. It’s two stories high, with a couple of those steel doors leading off in different directions. It looks like they’ve all had their markings burned off, too. The room’s been pretty much stripped bare – there’s just a half dozen metal boxes crowded around the middle of the room, with a few work lights. Where are they getting the power from, down here?

[Bill sneaks forward, quietly as he can]

I can’t see any sign of Ned… I’m guessing he and Morrison went through one of those doors, but I have no idea which one. I’m just going to try and get a better look at these… Well, to be honest, they almost look like refrigerators, just a little bigger, and with a glass pane on the front. I could probably fit inside one if I had to. Not a good idea probably, but –

[Bill freezes, drawing in a short, shocked breath]

[Heavy static rises on the tape]

Shit… I just got another wave of that feeling, and it’s way stronger in here. It almost feel like it’s – like it’s coming from one of those – – cages… Is that what they are?

[Bill hesitates, then moves closer. After taking a few steps, he stops with a faint gasp]

[About to be sick] Oh my god… It’s him. It’s David Nathan Robinson – Hericium. Or at least, what’s left of him. The fungus is… Well, I think there’s more fungus than person now.

I thought they burned his body? The biohazard crew came in and took it away as soon as we got there. God, if anyone from Templi Prophetam finds this, they’ll –

[There’s a faint, sudden sound of organic growth, and a twist of rotten flesh before Robinson’s head thunks slightly against the glass]

Oh Jesus… A couple of mushrooms just sprouted from his forehead and made him turn this way. It’s almost like he’s looking at me, but… He’s dead. Even if he wasn’t, his eyes are –

Stop looking at him, or you’re going to be sick. God, I might just be sick anyway.

[He steps away]

[Deep breath, collecting himself]

Okay. There are six cages in here, arranged in like, a half circle. They all have glass fronts and look pretty heavy duty, and – huh. [He steps closer] I can see a logo on this one. Part of one, at least – some kind of star shape, and the letters I.S.P… Something. It’s kind of worn off. Looks like some kind of old aerospace company. I can’t see much else from where I’m standing, and I really don’t want to get any closer than I have to. All I can see… there’s some kind of silver-blue light coming from the cage next to Robinson’s. I think it might be whatever was in Lara’s barn – the uh, the alien, or – whatever it was.

Is… Is this where they all ended up? Is this where all the creatures we found went after Morrison showed up and –

There’s something else… Right in the middle of the room, between the cages. It looks like some kind of wooden chair with… I guess they’re straps, or some kind of restraints on the armrests? And some kind of metal bowl-shaped object attached to an articulated arm on the back of the –

It looks like an electric chair. Jesus… What the hell are they doing down here?

[As if in answer, a door opens down one of the hallways and footsteps approach]

Oh, shit.

[Bill scurries back to the entrance, pushing the door open slightly and hiding behind it as one of the metal doors bangs open]

EDGAR MORRISON 

Stop trying to distract me from your screwup, Leroux.

NED LEROUX

I’m not trying to! I’m just saying that a psi-wave spike like that doesn’t happen by accident. Something must have set him off. If it wasn’t a power surge, then –

EDGAR MORRISON

It doesn’t matter. If that’s the worst that damned fungus can throw at us, then we’ll be fine.

NED LEROUX

I still don’t think we should risk trying it again. Not tonight.

EDGAR MORRISON

I thought you said the system could handle losing one of them?

NED LEROUX

I said it might. We still don’t know how this setup works. Not exactly. We’re just making guesses based on old blueprints and a couple of outdated theories. If this backfires –

EDGAR MORRISON 

Do you think it will?

NED LEROUX

No. It’s working, just… The point of ingress is still too large. We need all the power we can get in order to close it.

EDGAR MORRISON 

More power? What, do you think I just have spare monsters lying around for you to use up?

NED LEROUX 

Do you?

EDGAR MORRISON 

For goddsake Leroux, we don’t have time for this! These attacks are only getting worse, and sooner or later, one of them will find this place. Then it’s back to square one, for both of us.

NED LEROUX 

That won’t be necessary. I just need some more time before –

EDGAR MORRISON 

Drop the act, Leroux.

NED LEROUX

W–What?

EDGAR MORRISON

Don’t make me repeat myself. You use that face to hide the truth from the rest of them. I’d hate to think you were lying to me.

[Ned hesitates – then suddenly, a wet, squelching sound is heard… One that is all too familiar]

LEROUX/DE WITT 

Yes… Sir.

EDGAR MORRISON 

Better. Now – De Witt. Are you going to get me results, or do I have to put you back in that cage?

DE WITT 

I’ll get you your results. Not like you’ve given me much of a choice.

EDGAR MORRISON 

[Chuckles darkly]

No. I haven’t. More of a choice than I gave your fellow monsters, though. Can’t ignore that.

DE WITT

So. You’ve got me here. You’ve got your creatures in their cages, and more on the way. Happy now?

EDGAR MORRISON 

I won’t be “happy” until you close this door for good, and the only monster I have to deal with is you.

Now get back in that chair and try again.

[De Witt scoffs, but turns and climbs into the chair anyway]

[Morrison begins to tighten the restraints, as Bill turns and runs as quietly as he can back up the tunnel]

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[An oncoming car honks angrily]

[Bill is panting – half from fear, half from the climb back up the ladder]

BILL TYLER 

Shit. Shit. Leroux is… He’s not… And Morrison is trying to – SHIT!

[Bill hits the wheel in anger]

I trusted him. I trusted him! I backed him up with Kate, and all that time he was that… That thing. How did I not…

[Bill runs out of steam, panting. His breath is labored, ragged, his old injury acting up]

Shit, I… I need to pull over.

[Bill pulls off, taking a few deep breaths. After a while, his breathing regulates]

[Bill laughs wearily]

God, can I not just have one partner who’s normal? Is it too much to ask that this one goddamn thing finally makes the tiniest bit of sense? Or do I not even get that much? Is this what I get for –

What were they talking about in there? Psi-waves and points of ingress and… Closing something. Were they talking about the place where these things are coming from? Are they trying to cut them off somehow?

[Bill cuts off, trying to think]

I… I need to talk to Sam. Figure out what to do. He’ll know what’s going on. And if De Witt’s back, then… Well, I don’t know. I don’t want to think what would have happened if.. If I had told him where Sam was.

No… fuck. I can’t leave town now. Morrison would know something’s up, and Ned – De Witt would get suspicious. I can’t call him… And I can’t send Rob up there, it’s too risky. Maybe…

[Bill hesitates, then pulls out his phone, dialing. He listens as it rings]

Come on, come on – pick up Maria…

[The dial tone continues]

[Cassette tape ends]

[Silence]

[Someone enters a command on their keyboard]

[A recording of a phone call begins, chime and dial tone sounding again]

[Someone picks up]

MARIA SOL 

Um… Hello?

BILL TYLER 

Maria? Is that you?

MARIA SOL 

Bill? Why are you calling me on your cell, I thought you said –

BILL TYLER

I know, I know it’s a risk, but – I didn’t know who else to call.

MARIA SOL 

What’s going on? Is it – uh, you know who?

BILL TYLER

What? Oh, no, he’s fine, but it’s… Well, I don’t know. He’s okay – but I don’t know. He might not be for much longer. I’m sorry to ask after everything you’ve done, but… I need you to do me a favor. Kind of a big one.

[A moment of silence, then…]

MARIA SOL

Alright. What do you need? 

Recording Ends


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