Episode 50: “In a Handful of Dust”

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CONTENT WARNING: Depictions of trauma and injury, claustrophobia, violence, strong language, discussions of illness and death, brief moments of body horror, and loud noises including screams.

11082019b: Character is fate.

Starring Airen Neeley Chaconas as Anna Sheridan, Virginia Spotts as Kate Sheridan, Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, Jesse Steele as Bill Tyler, Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, Chris Martin as Robert Quincy, Maurice Cooper as Jerry Price, Ezra J Wayne as Ned Leroux, Mike Kennedy as Edgar Morrison, Alejandra Cejudo as Amanita, Clayton Currie as Andrew Sheridan, and Sam Taylor as Dr. Ren Park, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written and produced by Trevor Van Winkle and Virginia Spotts, 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

Script

Transcript

CONTENT WARNING: Depictions of trauma and injury, claustrophobia, violence, strong language, discussions of illness and death, brief moments of body horror, and loud noises including screams.

Cold Open

[An older digital video camera whirs to life, tape crackling slightly, the audio fairly muffled. A few people in this high school auditorium shuffle in uncomfortable plastic chairs, murmuring quietly]

KATE SHERIDAN

[Whispering]

What are you doing, Dad?

ANDREW SHERIDAN

[Chuckling]

What does it look like?

KATE SHERIDAN

You can’t record in here!

ANDREW SHERIDAN

Well it seems Mister Camcorder says differently.

KATE SHERIDAN 

Just put it away Dad, you’re going to get us in trouble!

ANDREW SHERIDAN

Some things are worth getting in trouble for, Katey. You’ll understand that one day. Especially if…

[The crowd claps]

Oh, there’s Anna!

[Andrew adjusts the camera angle slightly, bumping the mic a little. The room quickly falls silent as Anna steps up to a podium, then clears her throat]

ANNA SHERIDAN

“The Waste Land,” by T.S. Elliot. “The Burial of the Dead.”

[beat]

April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, 

mixing Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering

Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

A little life with dried tubers.

Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee 

With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,

And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, 

And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.

And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s, 

My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,

And I was frightened. He said, Marie,

Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.

In the mountains, there you feel free.

I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow 

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,

You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, 

And the stone no sound of water. 

[Whispers of Anna’s voice, close by, coming to the forefront]

Only there is shadow under this red rock,

(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),

And I will show you something different from either 

Your shadow at morning striding behind you

Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;

[Cassette tape noises; Anna’s voice is fully present, no longer in the old recording, but in the present, coming out of the void]

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

[Click]

Main Theme

Recording Begins

[Cassette noises]

[Static fades away]

[Tape recording of a quiet moment in Jerry Price’s living room]

[A quiet hum in the background]

SAM BAILEY 

You’re sure you’re okay with staying here, right?

ROBERT QUINCY 

Yeah… I think I am.

SAM BAILEY 

You’re sure?

ROBERT QUINCY

Look, I’ve been thinking about it, and… Well, I’d rather be here than at home right now.

JERRY PRICE

It’s okay, Sam – We’ll be fine until you get back.

SAM BAILEY 

I… I actually wanted to talk about that. There is a chance –

JERRY PRICE

Sam…

[Sam pauses, then restarts]

SAM BAILEY 

We’ll do everything we can to get Bill out of there, Rob. But we might not be able to come back to Oslow once we do. If we’re not back by tomorrow evening, then you and Jerry need to get out of here. Don’t go back to your apartment, don’t take anything you don’t need, just go.

JERRY PRICE

Where?

SAM BAILEY

Anywhere you can. Just get as far away from Oslow county as possible.

ROBERT QUINCY

I’ve got an idea where we could go. Do you think Morrison would know about –

SAM BAILEY

Don’t, don’t – don’t tell me where you’re going. Don’t tell anyone. If we’re caught, it’s better that we don’t know how to find you.

ROBERT QUINCY

Oh. Right.

SAM BAILEY

[He sighs]

Can you take Russel with you if you go?

JERRY PRICE

Of course. Can’t leave that guy alone for ten minutes, you know that.

SAM BAILEY

You don’t have to if you don’t want to–

JERRY PRICE 

Sam, I wouldn’t still be taking care of your dog if I didn’t want to. And honestly, I like his company more than I like yours sometimes.

SAM BAILEY

[He laughs]

That’s fair enough.

ROBERT QUINCY

Please get Bill out of there, Sam. Please.

SAM BAILEY 

We will. I promise.

[Sam stops the tape, then begins to rewind it again] 

[The tires of Maria’s van hum on the highway, and a few cars drive past]

MARIA SOL 

Would you stop listening to that already?

KATE SHERIDAN

Maria…

SAM BAILEY

It’s fine, Kate – I should really be using headphones anyway. I’m just trying to make a link, that’s all.

KATE SHERIDAN 

Make a – what?

SAM BAILEY 

Well… As far as I can tell, everything I’m able to do is linked to strong emotions… Emotional connections with other people and places. I can – sense the way others are feeling, draw power from them, even emotionally push back on them… But I need to feel a strong link to whatever I’m doing for it to work.

MARIA SOL

[Scoffs]

What, saving Bill isn’t strong enough?

SAM BAILEY

No, no… It is. But if I’m going up against De Witt… I don’t want to take any chances. And guilt can be a powerful motivator, in the right circumstances.

[Beat]

MARIA SOL 

I… guess you’re right.

SAM BAILEY 

What was that?

MARIA SOL

Enjoy it while it lasts Bailey, because I’m never saying it again.

SAM BAILEY

Yeah. Sure.

KATE SHERIDAN

Oh, wipe that smug look off your face, Sam.

SAM BAILEY

[Small laugh]

Yes Ma’am –

[Sam freezes, as if listening to something]

Are… Are we getting close?

MARIA SOL

Yeah, the turn-off’s just up ahead. Kate, could you grab my backpack? It’s just behind that seat.

KATE SHERIDAN

Sure.

[She unbuckles her seatbelt and leans back to grab it]

Oh Jesus Maria, what do you have in here, a pile of bricks?

MARIA SOL

Well…

[Static rises on the tape]

SAM BAILEY 

Oh my god…

KATE SHERIDAN

What is it Sam? What’s wrong?

[The turn signal clicks as the van takes the turn-off]

SAM BAILEY

I can… Feel them now – all of them. The creatures trapped in Morrison’s cages. I can feel their desperation. Their pain. Their fear. It’s feeding De Witt, and De Witt is…

[Sam trails off, uncertain]

MARIA SOL

De Witt is what?

SAM BAILEY

I… I don’t know.

[Click]

[Silence]

[The echoing sound of work lights coming on]

[A computer buzzes to life]

[Someone typing on a keyboard]

[Beep]

[Inside the MKCTS Facility]

[Bill collapses in his cage, panting. Morrison and Leroux can be heard arguing faintly through the tinny speaker]

EDGAR MORRISON

Anything?

NED LEROUX

Close. We’re close.

EDGAR MORRISON 

How close is close?

NED LEROUX

A few days. Just a couple more days, and the aperture should be small enough to close on its own.

EDGAR MORRISON 

We might not have a couple more days. We might not have a couple more hours. If Bailey realizes Bill is gone and decides to do something about it –

NED LEROUX 

What do you want me to do? Bend the laws of paranormal metaphysics even further than we already have? Push all of the subjects past their breaking point? We do that, and then it’ll be you who’s back to square one.

EDGAR MORRISON

Try not to sound so pleased about the idea.

NED LEROUX 

If I thought that –

[An odd static rises over Bill’s speaker]

[Ned stops suddenly, distracted by something]

EDGAR MORRISON 

What is it?

NED LEROUX 

Nothing, just… An odd feeling.

[Pause]

I need to get some fresh air.

EDGAR MORRISON 

What, now?

NED LEROUX

I’ll start the next trial as soon as I’m back, I just need to… Deal with something.

EDGAR MORRISON 

[Sighing]

Fine. Make it fast.

[Ned hurries out of the room, pulling the heavy creaking door shut as he leaves]

[Morrison looks over at Bill’s cage, then chuckles]

EDGAR MORRISON 

How you doing in there, Bill?

BILL TYLER

[Weak, pained]

Fuck… You…. 

[Edgar chuckles, amused]

[Beep]

[Silence]

[Cassette noises]

[Static fades away]

[The wind blows over a stark and barren plane, sand hissing slightly over rock]

SAM BAILEY

[counting to himself]

– fifty three. One hundred fifty four. One hundred fifty five.

[Beat]

Alright then.

[Beat]

Alright, De Witt. Leroux. Been a while since we talked. Thanks for helping with the Echo, by the way. I appreciate it. [Static begins to rise] But right now – you have my friend down there. And I can’t let that stand. So…

[Sam’s voice grows distorted]

Come Here. Face Me.

[The static fades away. Only the sounds of a quiet desert]

[The hatch creaks open a few yards away as Ned climbs out of the tunnel, approaching Sam]

NED LEROUX

Well hi there, Bailey. Long time no see.

SAM BAILEY

Not long enough.

NED LEROUX

[He laughs]

Still recording anything and everything you hear, huh? I thought you’d have broken that habit by now.

SAM BAILEY

What have you done with Bill?

NED LEROUX

[Laughing again]

So much for small talk then, huh? You know, you should be the one stalling, not me.

SAM BAILEY 

Is that so?

NED LEROUX

What, you think you can win this fight?

SAM BAILEY

Who says it’s going to be a fight?

NED LEROUX 

Ooooh… Cocky Bailey – six months away, and you’ve got cocky. It’s a good look on you.

SAM BAILEY

Save it. Is Bill alive?

NED LEROUX

Of course he is. Can’t say he’s too happy about the fact, but he’s alive. For now.

SAM BAILEY

Who else is down there?

NED LEROUX

Why – can’t you feel them? Can’t you hear them screaming –

SAM BAILEY 

You know what I mean. Is Morrison down there? Are there any other officers with him?

NED LEROUX

Oh… You still can’t read people, can you? Then again, human connection was always a bit hard for you, wasn’t it? I guess it’s not really surprising that you’re –

[Static rises on the tape, and Sam’s voice distorts heavily]

SAM BAILEY 

Tell Me.

[Click]

[Silence]

[Beep]

[Back inside Bill’s cage]

EDGAR MORRISON 

[Chuckling]

At least you still have some spirit. More than Hyde, at least. Not that it will do you much good – not in there.

BILL TYLER

[Weak, shuddering]

You’re… You’re not going to get away with… Someone’s going to figure out…

EDGAR MORRISON

Figure out what? That I’m keeping monsters locked up in a government facility nobody knows exists? At best, they’ll be dismissed as crazy – at worst, a liar. And even if people accept that monsters exist… Well, no one will object to my trying to fix one of my own mistakes.

BILL TYLER

What are you… What?

EDGAR MORRISON 

We’re trying to close a door, Tyler. A door I helped open a long time ago.

[Slight pause, he figures it doesn’t hurt to tell tales to a dead man]

I was two months out of officer training when I was assigned here… Middle of the Cold War, the DOD throwing everything at the wall to see what stuck. The scientists who built this place were running experiments in parapsychology, testing the limits of the human brain. I thought most of it was nonsense, but I was here to serve my country.

Turns out, we were all stepping into the middle of a much older war. And when we opened that door into hell and let these things loose on Oslow county – hm, well… Andrew Sheridan ended up on the wrong side. As did his daughter.

BILL TYLER 

What are you… Even talking about?

EDGAR MORRISON

I just thought you’d like to know why you’re here before your brain is burnt to a crisp. I thought I’d do you that favor, at least.

BILL TYLER

You’re… Sam was right. You’re insane.

EDGAR MORRISON

I’m the only person sane enough to know the truth. And you really should have killed Sam when I told you.

BILL TYLER 

[Heavy]

He’s my… My friend! Why would I… Would I…

EDGAR MORRISON 

Because I had faith in you. In what you might become. What a disappointment you’ve turned out to be.

BILL TYLER 

It’s… I’m not…

[Suddenly, the lights shut off with a heavy clunk]

EDGAR MORRISON 

Dammit… Generator must have seized up again. Hope you’re not afraid of the dark, Tyler –?

[The intercom outside suddenly crackles on, and a haunting, distorted voice suddenly fills the chamber]

MYSTERIOUS VOICE 

Edgar…

EDGAR MORRISON 

Who’s there?

MYSTERIOUS VOICE

Morrison… Hunter of blood, murderer of the innocent… Your time has come…

[Morrison draws his gun, cocking it]

EDGAR MORRISON 

So one of you finally found this place? How about you show yourself – – I might even let you live, if I can spare a cage for you.

[The Voice laughs, a cacophonous, echoing sound – very theatrical]

EDGAR MORRISON

Enjoy it while you can… You won’t be laughing for long.

MYSTERIOUS VOICE 

Come find me then.

EDGAR MORRISON

[He laughs to himself]

Sit tight, Tyler.

[Morrison walks off, his footsteps receding before he opens and closes one of the steel doors]

[The moment he’s gone, Bill starts moving, feeling around the cage]

BILL TYLER 

Need to get out of here. Need to get out, need to get out, need to get…

No, no, could be a trap – can’t… can’t trust what I’m seeing, Morrison is…

[A door opens outside the cage, amplified on the still-active microphone]

Shit… shit shit shit –

[Footsteps approach and stop in front of the glass]

K–Kate?

KATE SHERIDAN

[breathing a little harder than normal]

Hi Bill.

[Beep]

[Silence]

[Cassette noises]

[Static fades away]

[The recording switches to a slightly crackly, echoing intercom monitor. Morrison’s footsteps echo in the dark, narrow hallway before he throws open a door, scanning the room]

MYSTERIOUS VOICE 

[Taunting, sing-song]

All around the mulberry bush… The monkey chased the weasel…

[Morrison ignores the voice, throwing open another door]

[Laughing]

You’re getting colder, Morrison…

EDGAR MORRISON

I will find you. Sooner or later, I will find you.

MYSTERIOUS VOICE

I’m sure you will…

[Morrison makes a sharp turn around a corner, then makes an irritated, angry noise. Nothing’s there]

Are you a religious man, Edgar?

EDGAR MORRISON

[Amused]

Why? Are you trying to save my soul?

MYSTERIOUS VOICE

Do you really think you have a soul to save? After everything you’ve done?

EDGAR MORRISON

Everything I’ve done, I’ve done for my fellow man. For those too weak to protect themselves.

MYSTERIOUS VOICE

And what about Anna Sheridan? What threat was she?

EDGAR MORRISON

She wasn’t a threat… Not by herself. [He peeks behind a door] But I’ve seen what Sheridans do when faced with something they don’t understand. They push harder. Keep looking for answers. And sooner or later, they open a door they should never have been opened. One they can’t close. And people suffer because of it.

[A momentary pause as Morrison opens another door, looking into the room beyond. Silence and stillness]

Where the hell are you –

MYSTERIOUS VOICE 

Do you know how Andrew Sheridan died?

EDGAR MORRISON

What?

MYSTERIOUS VOICE 

[Growing angry, sounding more personal]

Do you know how he died, in the end? After he “opened a door?” Heart failure. Congenital. A condition he lived with his entire life. He spent thirty years teaching physics to high school students, helped them understand the universe. He raised two daughters. He loved his wife. He was kind. Patient. Quiet. And in the end, he died in his sleep. So tell me, Edgar Morrison – who, exactly, suffered because of Andrew Sheridan?

[Pause]

EDGAR MORRISON

[Laughing, he walks up to one of the intercom microphones]

Well hello there, Miss Sol. Pleasure to finally meet you.

MYSTERIOUS VOICE

What? No, I –

[Someone moves on the other side of the mic, and something falls. The moment it does, the distortion and effects on Maria’s voice fall away]

MARIA SOL

[Over intercom]

Shit.

EDGAR MORRISON

How are you enjoying my P.A. system? I know it’s not quite the level of equipment you’re used to working with, but…

[Maria turns off the PA with a loud pop, and the speakers fall silent]

EDGAR MORRISON

Good. It’s been a very long day for me, so – please, do try to run.

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[Static still crackles on the tape from Sam’s last words]

SAM BAILEY

Tell. Me.

NED LEROUX

[Laughing darkly]

Bailey, Bailey, Bailey… You still have no idea how this works, do you?

SAM BAILEY

What?

[The static falls away]

NED LEROUX

[Sighs]

You’re able to push people. You can make them feel certain ways, warp their perceptions, maybe even influence their choices a little. But you can’t compel them to do anything they don’t want to do in the first place. You might be more powerful than most of us, [he walks a few footsteps around Sam] but even you can’t do that.

SAM BAILEY 

I… I thought –

NED LEROUX 

I find that highly unlikely. Since when did you start thinking, hm?

SAM BAILEY

You’re one to talk.

NED LEROUX

What’s that supposed to mean?

SAM BAILEY

I thought you were supposed to be some kind of trickster. Always on top of things, keeping people on their toes. And now you’re, what – Morrison’s guinea pig? Helping him run his little experiments so he doesn’t kill you? Wearing that face because he told you to –

NED LEROUX 

[Suddenly hostile]

I chose this face for myself, Bailey. More than you chose yours. And nobody’s forcing me to do anything. This whole operation was my idea. Morrison had no idea what he had down there. I was the one who taught him how to use it.

SAM BAILEY 

[Scoffs]

Sure thing, De Witt –

NED LEROUX

[Dark, he leans in]

Call me De Witt again, and I’ll rip the skin from your bones right here and now. De Witt was who I was. Leroux is who I am.

[He steps away again]

And I quite like being me, actually – more than I like most of the people I’ve been. Sure, neither of them are real, but – Well. Neither are you.

SAM BAILEY 

Fine. But why the hell are you working for Morrison? You can’t agree with what he’s

doing, can you?

[Ned steps closer, grinning]

NED LEROUX 

Who says I do?

[Click]

[Silence]

[Beep]

[Kate fiddles with a control panel briefly, then flips a heavy-sounding switch. BeepBeep – BUZZ. Locks disengage one after another. Kate searches the cages]

KATE SHERIDAN 

[Looking at Amanita’s cage]

Anna? Are you in here? Oh… No, sorry, I thought you might have been my sister. Sorry.

[She moves to the next cage]

Is that… No, that’s one of the creatures from the mine. And that’s some kind of… glowing person, and that’s a…

[Beat, disgusted]

Oh my god… What the hell is that thing? Are those… Mushrooms?

[Stifled sound of being sick]

Don’t look at that one, don’t look at… [Noise starts quieting down] Wait. Is that cage empty?

[She approaches it]

Oh… No, it just has a… A doll in it?

[Kate’s voice approaches normalcy as Bill’s cage finally opens]

Eunice?

[Bill coughs. Kate shakes off her concerns and walks back to his cage]

KATE SHERIDAN 

William Tyler, how come every time we meet, I end up saving your –

[Beat, seeing the condition he’s in]

Bill? Are you… Are you okay?

BILL TYLER

[Rattled]

Stay back… Stay away!

KATE SHERIDAN

Bill? Bill, it’s me… It’s just Kate!

BILL TYLER 

No, no no, you’re not her… You can’t be. Morrison wouldn’t let you in here…

KATE SHERIDAN

Shh shh. Morrison doesn’t know I’m here. Maria’s keeping him distracted while I get you out of here and look for Anna –

BILL TYLER 

You’re lying… Trying to trick me… I saw Sam there yesterday, and he was –

KATE SHERIDAN

[Parental]

Bill, listen to me. I’m real. You can trust me. You need to get out of that cage.

BILL TYLER

No, no… I can’t leave… There’s no way out. I did this… I deserve…

KATE SHERIDAN

Come on Bill, we don’t have time for –

BILL TYLER 

[Panicking]

No!

[Bill takes a panicked swing at Kate when she’s in reach. She barely manages to avoid it]

KATE SHERIDAN 

[Shocked]

Bill!?

BILL TYLER 

Stay away from me!

KATE SHERIDAN

What did they do to you?

BILL TYLER 

They… It was –

[One of the doors flies open, and Morrison marches back in, holding Maria at gunpoint]

KATE SHERIDAN

Maria!

EDGAR MORRISON

We were hurting him, Mrs. Sheridan. That’s what we were doing. Transmitting emotional and physical pain directly into his nervous system. Enough to shatter the will and push the mind beyond itself… Or to break it.

BILL TYLER

Maria…? Why are you –?

EDGAR MORRISON

She’s here because they’re trying to rescue you, Bill. Or did you think this was all another illusion?

BILL TYLER 

This… You’re really here? You came to get me?

KATE SHERIDAN

Of course we did. We couldn’t leave you here.

BILL TYLER 

[Straining to use all of his strength]

Morrison… You let her go now. Let her go, or I swear I’ll…

EDGAR MORRISON

You’ll what? You can barely stand. [he prepares a bullet] There’s no way you can get to me before I pull the trigger on your little friend.

MARIA SOL 

Oh, why don’t you go fuck yourself.

BILL TYLER 

Maria… don’t.

[Suddenly, Kate cocks her pistol, aiming it at Morrison]

KATE SHERIDAN

[Shaky, unsure]

Drop the gun, right now!

MARIA SOL

Whoa, Kate –!

EDGAR MORRISON

So you actually do have a gun. I thought Leroux was making that up.

KATE SHERIDAN

[Really trying]

Yes, I have a gun. Yes, I know how to use it. And yes, I will [Cocks her gun] – I will shoot you if you don’t let Maria go.

EDGAR MORRISON 

Will you, now?

KATE SHERIDAN

[Obviously bluffing]

Yes, I will!

EDGAR MORRISON

[Laughs]

Kate, I know this isn’t something you’ve had much experience with, but you’re not the first person to pull a gun on me. I know exactly what it sound like when someone’s actually willing to pull the trigger… And when they’re bluffing.

[She cocks her gun a second time, ejecting a whole bullet in the process]

KATE SHERIDAN

I’m not bluffing! I’ll do it, I swear!

[Her breathing becomes louder and shakier]

EDGAR MORRISON

And there comes the fifth assurance that you’re going to shoot me. Care to notice what I haven’t been saying?

[Mocking, sarcastic; handling his gun]

“Nobody move, or I blow Maria’s brains out!”

If you were actually going to shoot me, you wouldn’t be trying so hard to talk your way out of doing it. No one’s buying it… Least of all, you. So why don’t you put that gun down and save us all a lot of trouble.

KATE SHERIDAN

I… I can’t…

[Beep]

[Silence]

[Click]

[Sam and Ned stand in the desert, facing off with one another in silence]

[After a tense moment – Ned starts laughing]

SAM BAILEY

What’s so funny?

NED LEROUX

You think I’m working for Morrison? That I’m actually trying to help him with his “kill all monsters”

crusade? You really think there’s any chance of this thing working?

SAM BAILEY

I… I thought this was all your idea?

NED LEROUX 

Oh, it is. Honestly, that should have been the only clue you needed.

SAM BAILEY

You’re… You’re not –

NED LEROUX

[Sighing]

I told you my whole story the second time we met, Bailey. You know exactly who I am… And what I do.

SAM BAILEY 

You… You lie.

NED LEROUX

[Chuckling]

And the light is finally on up there. Took you long enough.

SAM BAILEY 

This whole thing is… What, some kind of trick? A way of –

NED LEROUX 

[Exasperated sigh]

It’s a con, Bailey. A scam. After what happened with the Echo, I needed a new angle… A new way to stay on top. Morrison could give me that – I just had to convince him not to put my ass back in the deep freezer. And I’ve been around Oslow for a very, very long time now. I knew about what those scientists were trying to do back in the day. It was just a matter of pushing the right ideas into his head, and then –

SAM BAILEY

You tell him your plan. Make him think you’re the only one who can pull it off, now that I’m gone. Make yourself indispensable.

NED LEROUX

Now you’re getting it. Pretty slick, huh?

SAM BAILEY 

And he believed you? He trusts you with this?

NED LEROUX

[Scoffs]

Oh, hell no. He’s not an idiot. But he still thinks he can make it work, even after all the times it’s failed. He’s so focused on his mission that he can’t see anything else… not even the hook dangling from his jaw. And he won’t. Not until it’s too late.

[beat]

SAM BAILEY 

What do you mean, “too late?”

NED LEROUX 

Like I said – I like being Ned. And I can’t say I like the idea of being Morrison very much. But sooner or later… He’ll figure it out. And when Morrison realizes I’ve been stringing him along and turns on me – I’ll strip the flesh right from his bones and take his place.

SAM BAILEY

Wait… You’re going to…

NED LEROUX

What can I say… Chief of Oslow County Police Department seems like a pretty cushy job, by the sound of it. I think it’ll suit me just fine.

[Sam stammers]

NED LEROUX 

Try not to look so surprised, Bailey. You know what I am. I can’t change that. After all – Character is fate.

Now… If we’re done talking, then…

[Ned cuts off as he hears the sound of an approaching van on the dirt road. Sam hears it as well, turning to look]

SAM BAILEY 

What the hell?

NED LEROUX

You expecting someone?

[The van stops]

SAM BAILEY

No, I – I have no idea who that is.

[Someone, out of sight, gets out of the van]

NED LEROUX

Is that a lie, Bailey?

SAM BAILEY

No, I swear, I have no idea who –

[The van door slams shut. Someone walks across the desert towards Sam and Ned, wheeling a metal dolly along behind them]

NED LEROUX

If I didn’t call them, and you didn’t call them, then what are they…

You don’t think that Morrison –?

[The stranger stops just in front of Sam, appraising the two of them]

REN PARK

Sorry to interrupt, but… Is one of you… Ned Leroux? Or is it Le-roo? I wasn’t quite sure.

SAM BAILEY

Doctor… Doctor Park?

NED LEROUX 

That’s… Uh, yeah, I’m Ned. Who the hell are you?

REN PARK

Right. Try to hold still.

NED LEROUX

Excuse me?

[Ren lifts a long metal hose off the metal dolly, levels it at Ned, and sprays. A jet of frozen gas shoots from the nozzle, engulfing the shapeshifter]

[Ned reacts in confusion and then screams in alarm as his limbs begin to stiffen and seize]

NED LEROUX

Bailey! Bailey, stop him, he’s going to – AHH –!

[The cry freezes in Ned’s throat as the last of his body turns solid. After a few more seconds, Ren stops the flow]

[An eerie silence falls back over the desert, except for occasional drops of slowly melting ice]

REN PARK

Good. I was worried that might not work.

SAM BAILEY 

What the hell did you do to him?

REN PARK

Liquid nitrogen. It’s crude, but it should immobilize him for the next few hours.

SAM BAILEY 

He’s not… You didn’t –

REN PARK 

No, it won’t kill him, if that’s what you’re asking. He won’t enjoy it, but he should recover with minimal damage. If he doesn’t try to move before he’s thawed out.

SAM BAILEY 

How did you know he’d be here?

Wait, no – Better question. How did you know I’d be here?

REN PARK

I don’t have time to explain right now. Short answer – I’ve been keeping an eye on you since May. All of you.

SAM BAILEY

You’ve been what?

REN PARK

I told you, I don’t have time to explain. Not right now. Where are the others?

SAM BAILEY

What others?

REN PARK

Kate, Maria, and Bill. I assume they’re either down in the tunnels, or they’ve already escaped. Which is it?

SAM BAILEY

They’re, uh – They’re still in the tunnels. They…

[Static rises on the tape as Sam suddenly registers a wave of strong emotion]

SAM BAILEY

Oh god. Morrison found them.

REN PARK 

Are you sure?

SAM BAILEY

I can… I can feel it now. Maria’s fear. Morrison has her hostage, and Bill and Kate are –

REN PARK

Can you tell where they are? Which part of the facility he has them in?

SAM BAILEY

I’m not…

[Pause, feeling]

They’re in the psychic wheel. I can feel the other creatures, and they’re…

REN PARK 

Hm. Not ideal. But they should be able to get out of there in time.

[Static fades away]

[Ren pulls out a small plastic device, extending an antenna]

SAM BAILEY 

What are you doing?

REN PARK

The cages Morrison is using down there – ISPHA built them back in the 70’s, back when we still took military contracts.

SAM BAILEY 

You… You helped him do this?

REN PARK

Not me – But yes, ISPHA had a hand in it. I’m not proud of it, but – if we’re lucky – [the device beeps] it might just let me save your friends.

[Ren hits some commands on the device]

SAM BAILEY

How?

REN PARK

I’m going to open the cages. All of them.

SAM BAILEY 

You’re what?

[Cassette tape spits out]

[Silence]

[Beep]

[Back in the central chamber, moments later]

EDGAR MORRISON

Drop the gun, Sheridan. If nothing else, you should worry about hitting Maria with how much your hand’s shaking.

KATE SHERIDAN

[Breathing hard, handling her gun]

No! I can’t let you win like this… Not after everything you’ve already taken away from us –

[Suddenly, the switches on the control panel behind Kate are all thrown at once, without anyone touching them. A loud klaxon begins to sound, the rest of the cages begin to unlock one after another, slowly]

EDGAR MORRISON

What did you just do?

KATE SHERIDAN

I… I didn’t –

BILL TYLER 

[Pleased and deranged laughter]

She’s letting all your monsters loose, Morrison. Making sure you get what’s coming to you.

EDGAR MORRISON 

No… no… No!

[Morrison starts to move towards Kate, but she shifts her aim, pointing the gun at the control panel]

EDGAR MORRISON

What the hell are you doing!?

KATE SHERIDAN

You come one step closer, and I blow the control panel to hell.

EDGAR MORRISON 

You… I don’t believe you.

KATE SHERIDAN

[Relieved laughter]

Oh, you’re right… I was bluffing before. But this… This I can do.

EDGAR MORRISON 

You’re going to get us all killed, Sheridan!

KATE SHERIDAN

No. Not all of us. I imagine these creatures have a score they want to settle with you, don’t they?

[As if in response, one of the creatures from Shamson mine slams into the glass of their cage, snarling and burning loud enough to hear as the door begins to open]

EDGAR MORRISON 

Oh god.

KATE SHERIDAN

So here’s the deal, Morrison – you let us go. We leave the way we came, and close the blast door behind us. Otherwise –

[Unseen, Maria steps out of the way, zipping open her backpack]

EDGAR MORRISON

How about a counter-offer… I shoot you, then Maria, and then Bill, and then I –

[Morrison grunts in pain as Maria drives her sledgehammer into his stomach, causing him to drop his pistol]

KATE SHERIDAN

Maria!

MARIA SOL

Sorry, but you were taking way too long.

KATE SHERIDAN

Where did you get that hammer?

MARIA SOL

Uh… The hardware store?

[Morrison groans as he gets up, reaching for his gun. Maria knocks it away, brandishing her hammer]

MARIA SOL

Oh, no you don’t… I don’t think you get to use guns today.

KATE SHERIDAN

My offer still stands, Morrison. What’s it going to be?

EDGAR MORRISON

I’m going to kill you all the next time I see you.

MARIA SOL

Trust me, the feeling’s mutual.

[A tense moment of silence]

EDGAR MORRISON 

[Realizing he’s been beaten]

Go! Get out of here!

KATE SHERIDAN

Bill! Come on, we’ve got to go! 

[Bill doesn’t move, frozen in fear. He makes a small noise]

Bill… Just look at me. This isn’t your fault. You don’t deserve this. And we need you. Get out of that cage, and come with us.

[A tense moment of hesitation – then…]

BILL TYLER

Okay, Kate… Okay.

KATE SHERIDAN 

Okay. Alright– Maria, help me with Bill –

MARIA SOL 

I’ve got him, let’s go!

[The three of them hurry out as quickly as they can, and the blast door creaks shut behind them, locking in place. Morrison rushes over to the control panel, working desperately]

EDGAR MORRISON 

No, no, no… Come on! Why isn’t the override working?

[The final cage opens, and the klaxon goes eerily silent]

AMANITA

[amused, dark]

Well hello there, Chief. Fancy seeing you here?

[From behind Amanita, Eunice the doll laughs, the mine monster groans, and a shuffling, rotting body begins to twist and move, fungus growing out of it]

[Sounds of a struggle, then shots fired before Morrison turns and runs out of the central chamber through one of the doorways. The cages continue to open, the sounds of the creatures inside filling the room until…]

[Beep]

[Silence]

[Cassette noises]

[Static fades away]

[A quiet office, with only the ticking of the clock to break the silence]

REN PARK

I hope you don’t mind if I record this? Just for internal use, of course.

KATE SHERIDAN

[Trying to break the tension]

Honestly, I think one of us would probably do it if you didn’t at this point.

REN PARK

Fair enough. Not really surprising, seeing that it was Anna’s tapes that brought you all together in the first place.

BILL TYLER

Wait… How do you know about that?

REN PARK

Oh, right… We haven’t officially met. Doctor Ren Park of the Institute for Stellar Propulsion, Heuristics, and Aeronautics. Nice to meet you, Bill.

BILL TYLER 

Uh… Hi?

REN PARK 

Do any of you need anything before we get started? Water? Coffee? Something to eat?

MARIA SOL

We need some fucking answers is what we need.

SAM BAILEY

Maria –

MARIA SOL 

Fifteen hours we’ve been stuffed in the back of a van with no one to talk to, nobody answering our questions, and no idea what’s going on! And now you’re just sitting there, offering us party snacks –

REN PARK

Look, I understand you’re upset, Maria. This isn’t how I wanted this to go either, but things escalated too quickly for us to approach you the way we wanted to. I’m sorry you feel you’re being kept in the dark, but believe me when I say we had no other choice.

MARIA SOL

[Scoffs]

Wow, you and Anna must have really gotten along…

BILL TYLER

Look, what’s going on here? Where are we? And where’s Rob?

REN PARK

Robert and Jerry are safe… They’ve been collected from Oslow and they’re on their way here. And as for what “here” is, it’s a ISPHA experimental rocketry facility in New Mexico. Well out of Morrison’s sphere of influence.

[Kate stands suddenly]

KATE SHERIDAN

New Mexico? You drove us all the way to New Mexico without telling us?

REN PARK

A necessary precaution. Your possessions have been collected from Jerry Price’s home and are being driven here now… And that includes your van, Kate.

KATE SHERIDAN

I told my husband I was in Nevada! I was supposed to meet him after this!

REN PARK 

I… Really don’t think that would be the wisest choice right now.

KATE SHERIDAN

Are you… Is that a threat?

REN PARK 

No, of course not.

KATE SHERIDAN

[Walking away, testing Ren]

So you’ll just let us leave if we want to?

REN PARK 

Kate, there’s a lot going on right now that you don’t –

MARIA SOL 

Sam said you were watching us – why?

BILL TYLER 

And how were you doing it? If Morrison couldn’t track us, then how did you?

SAM BAILEY

And how much did you know about his plans? [Kate walks back] Why didn’t you do something earlier?

REN PARK

One question at a time, please! Look, this wasn’t how any of this was supposed to go, and I’m sorry if it’s caused you any distress or discomfort –

BILL TYLER

[Scoffs]

Discomfort, yeah, sure.

REN PARK

But – it became necessary to step in once we learned the truth about Morrison’s efforts. We didn’t know any more about his efforts than you did – not until very recently. As for why we were keeping track of your movements – well, I was never very comfortable with that, but Anna clearly believed you four had a role to play in the events to come. She made that very clear in her final instructions to us.

KATE SHERIDAN

She… Sorry, what?

SAM BAILEY

You were working with Anna?

REN PARK

Oh dear… I’d hoped you would have figured this out by now.

SAM BAILEY

I thought you said you two barely knew each other?

MARIA SOL

[Scoffs]

That’s what he told you?

SAM BAILEY

Huh?

MARIA SOL

[Turning to Ren]

The last time I saw you, Anna and I were on a double date with you and Adam. “Barely knew each other?”

REN PARK

Ah, yes, well… That was something of a lie. My apologies, detective Bailey.

BILL TYLER

He isn’t a detective anymore.

REN PARK

Then I suppose you’re not a lieutenant at this point either, correct?

BILL TYLER 

No, I… I guess I’m not.

[Sighing]

Rob’s going to kill me when he gets here…

REN PARK

I think Rob will just be happy to see you’re okay, Bill.

KATE SHERIDAN

Do they really need to leave Oslow after what happened in the bunker? I doubt Morrison is going to –

REN PARK

Kate, listen to me – Chief Edgar Morrison is many things. Easy to kill is not one of them.

[A nervous silence falls over the room. Sam is the one to break it]

SAM BAILEY

You said Anna knew about us. That she thought we had a role to play in the, uh – events to come.

REN PARK

It was a bit vaguely worded, but she did talk a lot about “the searchers” in her will. It’s generally assumed she was referring to you.

MARIA SOL

Wait, wait, just – stop. What will? And why the hell was she working for you?

REN PARK

She never told you?

MARIA SOL

Well – No, she didn’t.

REN PARK 

Oh. I see.

[Beat]

Well then. No easy way to say this, I suppose.

[An uneasy noise]

Short answer? We were trying to change the future, Maria. Trying to save the world.

[Clack]

[The tape spits out]

Recording Ends


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