Episode 66: “Breath and Tears and Tortures”

Episode 66: "Breath and Tears and Tortures" The Sheridan Tapes

CONTENT WARNING: Brief depictions of psychological torture, drug use, and betrayal, loud noises including alarms and screams, terror, and dread01132020: Returning from a dead-end mission in the Colorado Rockies, the Searchers stumble upon a recording of Anna's first experiments with ISPHA.Starring Ezra J. Wayne as Ned Leroux, Mike Kennedy as Edgar Morrison, Jesse Steele as Bill Tyler, Drew Rutherford as Evan Tyler, Jenna Rose Geiser as Lillian Tyler, Alejandra Cejudo as Amanita, Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, Virginia Spotts as Kate Sheridan, Airen Neeley Chaconas as Anna Sheridan, and Sam Taylor as Ren Park, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written by Trevor Van Winkle and produced by Virginia Spotts, with dialogue editing and sound design by Trevor Van Winkle. This episode was made possible by our supporters at Patreon.com/homesteadcorner, ko-fi.com/homesteadcorner, and our backers on Seed&Spark.For more information, additional content, and episode transcript, visit homesteadonthecorner.com/tst066Support this show http://supporter.acast.com/sheridantapes. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/SheridanTapes. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

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CONTENT WARNING: Brief depictions of psychological torture, drug use, and betrayal, loud noises including alarms and screams, terror, and dread

01132020: Returning from a dead-end mission in the Colorado Rockies, the Searchers stumble upon a recording of Anna’s first experiments with ISPHA.

Starring Ezra J. Wayne as Ned Leroux, Mike Kennedy as Edgar Morrison, Jesse Steele as Bill Tyler, Drew Rutherford as Evan Tyler, Jenna Rose Geiser as Lillian Tyler, Alejandra Cejudo as Amanita, Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, Virginia Spotts as Kate Sheridan, Airen Neeley Chaconas as Anna Sheridan, and Sam Taylor as Ren Park, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written by Trevor Van Winkle and produced by Virginia Spotts, with dialogue editing and sound design by Trevor Van Winkle. This episode was made possible by our supporters at Patreon.com/homesteadcorner, ko-fi.com/homesteadcorner, and our backers on Seed&Spark.

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

Script

Transcript

CONTENT WARNING: Brief depictions of psychological torture, drug use, and betrayal, loud noises including alarms and screams, terror, and dread

[Far underground in the MKCTS facility]

[Bill stirs in a fitful sleep, softly breathing]

[Two muffled voices are heard beyond Bill’s cage]

Ned Leroux (muffled)

I still don’t think it’s a good idea.

Edgar Morrison (muffled)

Does it sound like I’m asking for your opinion?

Ned Leroux (muffled)

Even if this doesn’t burn them out, we won’t get any usable data out of it. The signal pattern’s going to get messed up by whatever dreams they’re having—

Edgar Morrison (muffled)

And if this works, then it won’t matter what state the data’s in. Start the cycle.

[A brief moment of quiet]

[A harsh alarm BLARES]

[Bill cries out in pain and fear at the noise]

[A heavy hum fills the air as “The Wheel” operates]

[Voices from Bill’s past echo in the air]

Evan Tyler (echoing from Bill’s memories)

Did you really think we wouldn’t figure out?

Bill Tyler

Dad…?

Evan Tyler (echoing from Bill’s memories)

Get out of my house.

Lillian Tyler (echoing from Bill’s memories)

It’s for your own good, Bill!

Bill Tyler

Mom…?

Lillian Tyler (echoing from Bill’s memories)

We only want what’s best for you, dear… once you understand that, you’ll be thankful we did it.

Bill Tyler

No… 

[The sound of the machinery rises to a crackle and loud hum]

[His breathing becomes more panicked]

Amanita (in her own cage, resonating with Bill’s pain)

The Source of all that was and was not and will be again is within me and without me and beyond me and below me and before me forever—

[Something sparks, the machinery stops]

[Bill’s breathing slows]

Edgar Morrison (muffled)

What happened?

Ned Leroux (muffled)

Exactly what I said. The signal pattern was outside the acceptable range. We’ll probably need to replace the modulator.

Edgar Morrison (muffled)

Goddammit, that’s the third one this week. Do you know how hard it is to find these parts?

Ned Leroux (muffled)

Yes, I do. And I know we have a spare.

Edgar Morrison (muffled)

Worth a shot, at least.

[Bill taps on the walls of his cage]

[Morrison switches on the intercom]

Edgar Morrison (through intercom)

What do you want, Tyler?

Bill Tyler

What the hell was that?

Edgar Morrison (through intercom)

Well, after the last few tests came up short, we thought we’d try something different: using shock and fear instead of pain. We thought there might be a chance at a better outcome, but unfortunately — it didn’t work. Ah well.

[to Ned] I’m gonna get some air. Make sure you replace that modulator before the next trial.

[Morrison marches off; the door creaks open and shut behind him]

[Ned scoffs]

Ned Leroux (through intercom)

Yes sir, right away sir, you want fries with that, sir?

Bill Tyler

Was it you?

Ned Leroux (through intercom)

Was what me?

Bill Tyler

“Shock and fear.” Sounds like your kind of idea… 

Ned Leroux (through intercom)

What were you dreaming about?

Bill Tyler

Why do you want to know?

Ned Leroux (through intercom)

No reason, it’s just… you looked awful peaceful, sleeping there.

[Bill considers a moment]

Bill Tyler

I was dreaming about Rob. About when we first got together, before my family found out. Last time I had… only time I had Rob and my family. Back then, it just felt… 

[Bill trails off, unable to find the words]

[Ned remains silent]

Do you have dreams?

Ned Leroux (through intercom)

I don’t sleep, Tyler.

Bill Tyler

Then why’d you ask?

[Ned considers a moment]

[Ned sighs]

Ned Leroux (through intercom)

No, I don’t dream… not the way you’re thinking of. My brain is… well, it’s not made of the same stuff as yours. But this… existence… sometimes it feels like a dream. One I’m always on the edge of waking up from. Like I’m… like I’m something that somebody else dreamed up, and I only exist because they’ve been asleep for so long. And I’m worried that… One day, I’m worried that person will finally wake up, and I’ll just slip away.

[Cassette noises]

[Click]

[Main Theme]

Recording Begins

[Cassette noises]

[Click]

[Static fades away]

[The rumble of the highway from inside a van]

Sam Bailey

Samuel Isaac Bailey, recording for ISPHA internal records— 

Maria Sol

Come on, Sam… 

Bill Tyler

Do we really have to do this now?

Sam Bailey

January 13th, 2020 at 12:02pm Mountain Standard Time.

Kate Sheridan

Come on Sam, we all just want to listen to the radio.

Sam Bailey

Well I don’t. If I have to listen to one more passive aggressive ad read from Adrian fucking Briggs, I’m going to lose it.

Maria Sol

What is your problem, Sam?

Sam Bailey

My problem is that ISPHA had us locked up in that cabin for almost two weeks looking for something they knew damn well we wouldn’t find. Do you have any idea how much time we’ve lost because Caldwell had an axe to grind?

Kate Sheridan

We don’t know that’s why they sent us there. Maybe they just… got bad intel.

Sam Bailey

Fine. But the point is, we wasted too much time up there, and I don’t intend to waste the drive back too.

Kate Sheridan

Enjoying the drive isn’t wasting our time, Sam.

[Sam scoffs]

Sam Bailey

Keep telling yourself that.

Maria Sol

Seriously Sam, why are you so anxious to get back to work?

[Sam clears his throat slightly]

Sam Bailey

Cross-recording Tape number 1-7-2-1- 18 for personal investigation. Recording begins.

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[Static fades]

[Anna’s home; a storm blowing outside, rain and wind]

Anna Sheridan

It begins with silence — a shadow falling across the land where no soul dares speak and the air will not deign a sound to pass. A calm, before the storm. And then light! Lines of white and blue that split the night, thundering against the deafening silence. Where they touch the earth, fires sprout and spread like weeds, and where the flames meet the sea the water boils. All but the fiercest living things will die, and those who remain may never walk beneath the open sky again.

Far above, a tall-masted ship sails into the heavens, riding on the comet’s tail in search of safer harbors… but they do not know there are dragons between the stars, and the king of the dragons finds them on the border of its lands. It splits their hull with a swipe of its tail, setting her crew adrift on the tides of the nothing that is everything… but it will not end with the Earth. For the dark was not killed, and it needs not the air to spread — the sun shall be extinguished, and the moon dissolve to dust as the lightless stars burn out one by one by one as the universe endures — forever dead, forever ageless. And then… then… 

[Anna falters]

[Her bed creaks as she shifts in frustration]

Fuck. That’s the third time this week, and I still can’t remember what comes next. At least I got more of it down this time — I should’ve known better than to try and write it down by hand.

[She sighs]

I really wish I’d paid more attention to my dreams growing up. I have to wonder if this isn’t all as new as I think it is. Maybe I’ve been having these dreams all my life, and I’m just now remembering them — Dad, the nightmare… whoever that shadow figure I keep seeing is.

[She considers; sighs again]

No… no, these don’t just feel like normal dreams. I’ve never had recurring nightmares before, not even as a kid. There’s no point in worrying about them, though — I’m not going to the doctor’s and telling them I keep dreaming about the end of the world, that’s for sure. Not unless… 

[She trails off]

[She reaches for her phone and dials a number]

[The other side rings; someone answers]

Ren Park

Anna? What time is it?

Anna Sheridan

It’s, uh… 2:30. Shit, sorry Ren.

Ren Park

No, it’s okay… I’m pulling an all nighter anyways. Needed the distraction. What’s up?

Anna Sheridan

Are you still interested in… the possibility of precognition? After what happened at QA?

Ren Park

Uh… a bit, yeah. Why? Do you have something new?

Anna Sheridan

I… I think so, Ren.

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[The recorder re-starts in a quiet medical lab]

[Footsteps as Ren settles in]

[Distant boom of machinery, quietly ticking clock]

Ren Park

Doctor Ren Park, recording for ISPHA internal records: experimental report, May 31st, 2017 at 8:32pm Mountain Daylight Time.

Anna Sheridan

It’s already that late?

Ren Park

Yeah, I know… easy to lose track of time this far down. ISPHA built most of these [papers flipping] tunnels back in the 80’s in case of nuclear war, so I guess being disconnected from the outside world was kind of the point.

Anna Sheridan

Yeah… sure Ren.

[Ren continues walking around, preparing equipment]

Ren Park

Don’t worry — we barely use them anymore. Most days, it’s just the technicians and a handful of scientists running high-energy experiments down here. ISPHA’s not in the business of planning for the end of the world.

Anna Sheridan

So why is this lab full of high-end medical equipment…?

[Ren laughs]

Ren Park

I requisitioned most of this last week, specifically for this project. Most of it’s just on loan from UNM.

Anna Sheridan

And Caldwell let you do that?

Ren Park

Well… technically. I mean, pushing the boundaries of scientific inquiry is literally a phrase in my job description, and I’d say this probably counts. Plus, once I got clearance from the medical science division, I didn’t need her signature on those requisition forms, so… 

Anna Sheridan

Right, right, let’s just — get started.

Ren Park

Perfect. If you would, just… go ahead and lie down, and I’ll tell the techs to get started.

Anna Sheridan

A CT scanner?

Ren Park

Yeah, I, uh… I wanted to check for any mundane causes for your dreams before we get any further. Physiological abnormalities, tumors, hemorrhages — that sort of thing.

Anna Sheridan

Are you sure that’s… really necessary?

Ren Park

Given your lifestyle and the amount of time you spend in potentially hazardous environments… yes, I’m afraid it is.

Anna Sheridan

And you need the techs because… 

Ren Park

Because I’m an engineer, not a medical doctor. I’ve been reading as much as I can since you called, but… I don’t even know how half the equipment works.

Besides, how often do you get the chance at a free CAT scan? We really should be billing our time to your insurance, you know.

Anna Sheridan

Ha ha, Ren.

[Rustling as Ren reaches for the recorder]

Ren Park

Ooh, better turn you off before— 

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[Later; an analog EEG machine ticks in the background]

[Anna breathes softly as she sleeps]

Ren Park

Doctor Ren Park, recording for ISPHA internal records: experimental update, June 3rd, 2017 at 11:43pm Mountain Daylight Time. It’s been several days since the subject arrived at Meriwether, and we’ve conducted a number of sleep studies in an effort to determine the cause of her dreams. These early tests were all conducted under the supervision of Doctor Wright, but he was called away several days ago and left me in charge once he was confident I had a firm grasp of the experiment. Thankfully we’re using much simpler equipment at this stage as well, so I’ve been able to release the medical techs. Even so… none of these trials have been successful. In fact, the subject’s dreams have thus far failed to reoccur in a clinical setting. I’m beginning to wonder if there might be some environmental trigger to her dreams, either in her home in Lake Isabella, or in her van. She’s reported having these dreams in both, so I suspect it might be something she normally carries with her but didn’t bring this… 

[Anna groans in her sleep; cutting Ren off]

[The EEG ticks louder and faster]

Strike that — it seems like something is happening. The subject appears to be in a state of some distress — elevated heart-rate and respiration, somniloquy… and her EEG seems to indicate she’s having a night-terror. Or at least something similar — from what I’ve read, night-terrors are rare for adults without a previous history of parasomnia. But it’s… 

[He observes the data]

It’s… the EEG has changed. She was in slow wave NREM sleep a moment ago, but now it’s… these are alpha waves.

Notation: the subject’s brain waves have entered an alpha phase similar to the characteristics of wakefulness, despite the fact that bodily functions remain within the parameters of normal sleep and the subject clearly remains unconscious. I don’t know what could be—

[EEG increases in intensity as she speaks]

Anna Sheridan (sleep-talking)

In the desert where the water sleeps, where the wealthy drink the liquor gold and silver and bury lights in the earth where no light should dwell, a power will rise below the sand more terrible than any before or after. It shall try to close a door, but in so doing throw open doors within itself that shall never be closed again, and through those doors a terror shall rise [Ren begins speaking and rushes over] to poison the land and freeze the sun—!

Ren Park

Anna? Anna, wake up, it’s just a dream, you’re fine.

[She startles awake]

Anna Sheridan

Ren! Ren, you need to help us, help me — it’s coming!

Ren Park

What’s coming? What did you see?

Anna Sheridan

Help me… please, help us… the world is dying, Ren… 

Ren Park

I will. I promise. We just need more data.

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[Later; still in the medical lab]

[A clock ticks in the background]

Anna Sheridan

Anna Sheridan, recording for ISPHA internal records: experimental update, June 9th, 2017 at 2:21am Mountain Daylight time.

It’s been about five days since Ren and I started this experiment. Based on what they saw during the sleep study and Doctor Wright’s reactions, they wanted to see if they could induce the same kind of brain patterns while I’m awake. So… here I am. Nearly a hundred hours since I last slept, saw another person, or went outside this lab. I’ve got a laptop with no internet connection but plenty of movies and podcasts, several books, workout equipment, and a two week’s supply of food and coffee, along with a hotplate to prepare it. Ren wanted to make sure I stayed awake as long as possible, and the best way to do that is to keep my mind and body engaged as much as I can.

That worked until about day 3. I thought this wouldn’t be that difficult — I’m pretty sure I already have some level of insomnia and I’m used to going for days without sleep when I’m on the road, but… I was not prepared for this at all.

I have to wonder how much of that is because I’m in this room. Ren’s been intentionally vague about how far underground we are, but it feels deep… like I’m buried under miles of earth and I’m the only person left alive on the entire planet… or like I’m on the moon. Without the sun, I have no way of tracking the time except for the clock on the wall… and even that seems to be lying to me. Minutes stretch on way longer than they should, and then hours just vanish when I look away for what feels like a second. My energy comes and goes too, though that might be more because of the amount of coffee I’m drinking to stay awake. I seem to be more or less wakeful in cycles of about 30 to 40 hours, though I haven’t been specifically tracking them — I know Ren can see me, and they’re probably keeping thorough notes when they’re not buried in research. I’ve also been eating less, despite the amount of exercise I’m doing to stay awake… at least, when I feel awake enough to move at all.

To top it all off… I haven’t had any cannabis since the experiment started. Ren didn’t want to “muddy the results,” and I know it makes me drowsy, but… I’ve been having withdrawal symptoms since day 3, and I fucking hate it. It’s made my mood way more unpredictable, and the effects of sleep deprivation even worse.

[She considers]

You know what? Fuck it. [she rustles through a bag for her vape pen] The experiment is sleep deprivation and isolation, not sleep deprivation, isolation, and quitting cold turkey all at the same time. I really doubt I’ll ever be able to “dream with my eyes open” like Ren wants, and there’s no way I’m spending another second of this experiment sober.

[She pulls something out and examines it]

God, I hate vapes. This was a gift from Anthony during one of my first press tours: “Only for emergencies,” he said. Well Tony… I think this counts.

[A click; she breathes in the vaporized THC; another click as the button is released; she exhales with satisfaction]

Ah… 

[Moment of silence]

[The very sensitive smoke alarm goes off]

[Anna reacts with pain and annoyance at the beeping]

Oh… shit.

Ren Park (through intercom)

Anna? Anna, is everything alright in there?

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[EEG machine hums and clicks in the background]

[Anna breathes slowly]

[Ren speaks through a microphone]

Ren Park

Anna?

[He waits for the EEG to stabilize]

Anna, can you hear me?

[Pause]

Anna, look around you — observe your surroundings closely. What do you see?

Anna Sheridan (half-asleep)

A lab.

Ren Park

Where is this lab?

Anna Sheridan

I don’t know.

Ren Park

Anna… can you move around? Explore where you are?

[The ticks of the EEG sound like footsteps]

What do you see, Anna?

Anna Sheridan

I see… a star. A far away star, burning in a window of light that is an eye staring into the distant past a billion billion billion miles away… 

…A brilliant blue sun, young and blazing — but there’s a second star —  a corpse star — the remains of her long dead sister, still circling in a dance of death. And it’s… it’s consuming her… feeding on her… the corpse star, struggling to be reborn. It’s close… so very close… and it— 

[She cuts off with a sharp gasp, breathing hard]

[The EEG spikes]

[Ren throws a switch, triggering a familiar and harsh alarm]

[Anna wakes with a strangled scream]

[Ren runs into the room]

Ren Park

What did you see?

Anna Sheridan (breathing hard)

Ren — please help me—

Ren Park

What did you see!?

Anna Sheridan

The dead star blazed back into life, exploding in rebirth — the small green world orbiting it had no warning before they were erased. All life utterly destroyed… an entire civilization cut short before it could even begin. Billions of living things dead before they had a chance to understand what was happening to them.

Ren Park

When is this happening? How far in the future?

Anna Sheridan

It’s already happened… it was millions of years ago.

Ren Park

No, I mean — when will we know that it’s happened? Did you see a clock in that lab?

Anna Sheridan

December 1st, 2017 — 8:45am.

[The EEG quiets]

[Ren breathes a sigh of relief and relaxes]

Ren Park

Thank the goddess… I almost thought this was all for nothing, but — that sounds like a type 1-A supernova. Exploding Neutron Star. Those are pretty easy to spot and highly characteristic. It’ll take a few months, but once the observatories spot it—

Anna Sheridan

What the hell did you do?

Ren Park

Oh my god, Anna… I’m so sorry. I should’ve explained it, but… we both wanted to figure out how your dreams work, and I couldn’t warn you without messing up the results.

Anna Sheridan

I just watched an entire planet die, Ren. You think I was ready to answer questions?

Ren Park

I’m sorry, but… I thought you wanted to know the truth about your dreams? That you wanted my help?

Anna Sheridan

Yeah. I thought I wanted that too. 

[Clack]

[Tape ends]

[Silence]

[Click]

[The rumble of the van on the highway returns]

[The Searchers sit in stunned silence]

Maria Sol

What the fuck? [to Sam] Where did you get this tape?

Sam Bailey

Ren gave it to me with the rest of them… right after we got started at Meriwether? He said they might help.

Kate Sheridan

Why would Ren give us this tape and not tell us what they did?

Sam Bailey

They did, though — Ren told us they did sleep studies to test Anna’s abilities.

Maria Sol

That wasn’t a fucking sleep study, Sam. That was Ren, torturing their friend for answers.

Sam Bailey

That’s a… bit of an exaggeration, isn’t it? I mean, she agreed to do it, right? She knew it was going to push her, and they got the results they needed, so… 

Kate Sheridan

That doesn’t make it okay, Sam!

[Sam sighs]

Sam Bailey

Look, maybe it doesn’t seem like it to you two, but she was your sister, and your girlfriend. You’re both too close to look at it objectively, and if the world really is ending, then isn’t an experiment like that justified?

Maria Sol

He lied to his friend for no good reason, Sam — can’t you see why that’s wrong?

Sam Bailey

Of course I can, but Anna knew the risks before she got started. She asked to be there because she knew her dreams meant something bad was coming. Isn’t that the right thing to do? Shouldn’t people put themselves on the line when there are lives at stake?

Bill Tyler

You sound like Morrison, Sam.

[Everyone goes quiet]

[After a long moment; Kate sighs]

Kate Sheridan

Let’s just… not talk about it for now.

[A moment of quiet]

[Sam abruptly sits up]

Maria Sol

You okay, Sam?

Sam Bailey 

What?

Maria Sol

You’ve got a… weird look on your face.

Sam Bailey

Nothing, nothing, it’s just… just had an idea about something. Don’t worry about it.

[Clack]

Recording Ends

End Theme & Credits


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