Episode 70: “Lux Et Veritas”

Episode 70: “Lux Et Veritas” The Sheridan Tapes

CONTENT WARNING: Mentions of child poisoning, illness, and death as the result of an industrial accident, depiction of a train crash, loud noises including screams, kidnapping, revenge, and deception, moments of peril and strong elements of character betrayal01222020: Investigating a potential sighting of the Jersey Devil, the Searchers come face to face with the long and painful history of ISPHA's meddling.Starring Greg Vinciguerra as Young Paul, Brookelynn Andler, Leslie Gideon, and Aaron Moy as the children, Kris Allison as Daniella Caldwell, Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, Virginia Spotts as Kate Sheridan, Jesse Steele as Bill Tyler, Sam Taylor as Ren Park, Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, and and Levi Squier as Paul Payne, 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/tst070Support 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.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Spotify

CONTENT WARNING: Mentions of child poisoning, illness, and death as the result of an industrial accident, depiction of a train crash, loud noises including screams, kidnapping, revenge, and deception, moments of peril and strong elements of character betrayal

01222020: Investigating a potential sighting of the Jersey Devil, the Searchers come face to face with the long and painful history of ISPHA’s meddling.

Starring Greg Vinciguerra as Young Paul, Brookelynn Andler, Leslie Gideon, and Aaron Moy as the children, Kris Allison as Daniella Caldwell, Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, Virginia Spotts as Kate Sheridan, Jesse Steele as Bill Tyler, Sam Taylor as Ren Park, Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, and and Levi Squier as Paul Payne, 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. Written 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: Mentions of child poisoning, illness, and death as the result of an industrial accident, depiction of a train crash, loud noises including screams, kidnapping, revenge, and deception, moments of peril and strong elements of character betrayal

[Late summer evening: crickets and a gentle breeze]

[The sound of pre-teen kids laughing and teasing each other as they play]

Young Paul

Hey, over here!

Child 2

Where are you going?

[Overlapping speech continues as they taunt each other]

Child 1

Get off the tracks, Paul!

Young Paul

What, ‘fraid of getting in trouble?

Child 1

It’s not safe!

Child 2

No…

[Young Paul scoffs]

Young Paul

There’s no trains coming — watch this!

[The metal of the rails pings as Paul jumps back and forth]

[Scattered laughter]

Child 1

Be careful, Paul, you’re going to—

[Paul’s foot slips, he goes down hard, and he cries out in pain as his ankle twists]

[The children rush over]

Child 1 

Are you okay?

Child 2

This isn’t my fault, okay? Everyone saw that?

Child 3

Don’t be a baby Paul, you’re not even bleeding—

[A distant train whistle]

Child 2

Shit… 

Child 1

Someone help me get him up!

[Rustling as they rush and struggle to get Paul on his feet]

Child 3

Why isn’t he moving?

Child 1

His foot’s stuck! Help me pull it out—

[Paul cries out again]

[The train horn is slightly closer]

Child 2

We need to get out of here!

Child 1

Will!

[He is already running away]

Child 1

Come on, give me a hand!

Child 3

I — I don’t know… 

[They struggle, trying to get Paul unstuck]

[The vibration of the train barrelling down the tracks is ever-present]

[The horn of the train grows closer]

[The sounds fade out as a mysterious voice is heard]

Mysterious Voice

What would you do, to save yourself?

[The brakes squeal, then suddenly cut out to:]

[Young Paul waking with a short scream, then breathing hard]

[A heart rate monitor beeps in the background of a quiet, sterile room]

[He tries to get up, only to find that he is restrained]

Young Paul

Hello? Is anyone there?

[Static of a wall panel’s speaker turning on, and a voice replies]

Dana Caldwell

It’s alright… you’re safe.

Young Paul

What happened… where am I?

[Static as the speaker turns back on]

Dana Caldwell

You’re in Baker’s County General Hospital, in the south wing. We have you quarantined here for the time being.

Young Paul

Quarantined?

[Speaker static]

Dana Caldwell

Do you remember the train? It derailed where you and your friends were playing, and it was carrying some… highly toxic materials. We had to make sure it didn’t affect the other patients.

Young Paul

Are they okay? Was anyone hurt?

Dana Caldwell

They were… all exposed. Thankfully the spill didn’t reach the town itself, but… [she sighs] none of them made it to a safe distance before it happened. I’m afraid they’re not doing well. And Will Peterson is… I’m sorry, but he passed away earlier this morning.

[Paul falls back into the bed, stunned]

Dana Caldwell

We’re doing everything we can for them… for all of you. But you need to realize you’re all incredibly lucky just to be alive.

[Young Paul scoffs]

Young Paul 

No. It wasn’t luck.

[Cassette noises]

[Click]

[Main Theme]

Recording Begins

[Cassette noises]

[Static fades away]

[Inside a soft-sided tent, Sam settles into a small wooden folding chair]

[Rain drops steadily fall on the tent; distant sounds of a forest at night]

Sam Bailey

Samuel Isaac Bailey, recording for ISPHA internal records – mission log, January 22, 2020 at 9:41pm Eastern Standard Time. Myself, Maria, Bill, Kate, and Ren have been dispatched to the Yale-Myers Forest in Northeast Connecticut. The university owns the region — they use it for ecological research and training, academic retreats, fieldwork, that sort of thing. And over the past few months, several of their students have reported seeing a “dark, flying creature with leathery wings” lurking in the trees overhead. Given that description and our current location on the eastern seaboard, some of the students thought it might have been the Jersey Devil — a cryptid with roots going back all the way to the 1700’s. The forest is farther north than it’s usually spotted, but — I mean, maybe it’s gone into hiding or lost its original habitat.

Or maybe it’s nothing. The reports are a little thin in terms of evidence, but the university still reached out to ISPHA for help. The way Ren talks about it, Yale has a pretty deep connection to the institute… they started saying it was “historic” before they thought better of it. But that does make me wonder. Yale’s one of the oldest universities in the U.S., and it has very few connections to the aerospace industry. If ISPHA has old links to it, then that confirms what I’ve suspected for a while — that the organization which became ISPHA predates the founding of the institute in 1965… and it started with a very different mission statement.

Regardless, there’s been no sign of any creature more dangerous than a squirrel since we got here, and nobody to talk to. Honestly — I don’t think ISPHA really believes those reports either, and we’re all just out here on punishment duty again. Caldwell probably would have sent us here sooner, if not for my, uh… accident.

[He scoffs]

Or maybe they just wanted to get us out of the facility for a while. As soon as my vitals stabilized, the doctors stuck me full of needles and drew enough blood to supply a small hospital. They didn’t say it, but I know ISPHA’s going to be looking into how I healed so quickly.

I doubt I’ll ever get back in their good graces, no matter what they find. Not that I’m likely to get back in everyone else’s, either. Kate still looks like she’s going to chase after me every time I go off by myself, [the tent unzips] and I’m starting to think she—

[The rain sounds are no longer deadened as Kate looks into the tent]

Kate Sheridan

Hey Sam… is this a bad time?

Sam Bailey

Uh — no, no not at all. [Kate steps inside] Just recording my log. Here, I’ll switch it off—

[Kate zips the tent shut]

[The rain becomes muffled again]

Kate Sheridan

No, you can leave it running if you want… I don’t mind.

[Kate sits]

Sam Bailey

So, uh… what did you want to talk about?

Kate Sheridan

I — I don’t know. I kind of just wanted to check and see if you’re doing alright.

Sam Bailey

Me? No, yeah, I’m fine. A little tenderness around my ribs still, but everything else is healed. How about you?

Kate Sheridan

I’m… hanging in there. Trying to just focus on the task at hand. Everything else is just… a lot.

Sam Bailey

“Everything else?”

[Kate laughs dryly]

Kate Sheridan

Everything else. ISPHA. Ren. Caldwell. That fucking ultimatum they—

[She sighs]

It’s mostly just being out here. I keep getting deja vu from Pennsylvania. We’re not that far from Allegheny, and in the dark, I just can’t help but think about the Oraculites… about Amanita.

Do you think they’re still out there?

Sam Bailey

What, her cultists? I… I’m not sure. ISPHA still has the area quarantined, so nobody else should be getting in there. I don’t know if they actually get hungry or if that’s just some horrific metaphor, but… I mean, if they do, I guess they might start looking for their next meal soon. I don’t know how well ISPHA could contain them if that happened.

Kate Sheridan

If their track record is anything to go by… not for very long.

[A high-pitched, inhuman shriek shatters the quiet of the night]

Bill Tyler (muffled)

Holy shit, is that—

Ren Park (muffled)

Kate, Sam, Maria, get out here, quick!

[Kate and Sam unzip the tent and step outside]

[The noise of the nighttime forest and the rain]

Maria Sol

Did you all hear that too?

Kate Sheridan

What was it?

Bill Tyler

I couldn’t see it in the dark, but it was—

[The same shriek is heard overhead as something swoops by]

[The team cries out in alarm] 

[A moment of recovery, and then Ren takes charge]

Ren Park

That’s it — that’s what we’re looking for!

Bill Tyler

Where did it come from?

Ren Park

If it was flying out and back from its nest… Sam, could you get any kind of read on it?

Sam Bailey

What? Oh, uh… no, no I wasn’t — I didn’t have time to feel for it. I think it’s too far away now.

Ren Park

If we get closer, do you think you’ll be able to sense it?

Maria Sol

Hold on, do we really want to be getting any closer to this thing?

Ren Park

If we want to do our jobs, then yes. Maria, you’re with Sam. Kate, Bill, you’re with me. Try to keep within visual range of each other, and stay on the radios… I don’t want anyone getting separated. Check in every two minutes, and report back immediately if you spot anything. Any questions?

[No one answers]

[Ren speaks into his radio]

Comm check, one two.

Sam Bailey (replying into his radio)

Receiving loud and clear.

Ren Park

Alright — move out, there’s a lot of forest to cover.

[The group separates: Kate, Bill, and Ren heading off into the forest]

[Sam and Maria’s wet footsteps squelch through the muddy forest floor]

[Static of radio each time we hear from Ren]

Ren Park (over radio)

Team One, all clear.

Sam Bailey

Team Two, all clear.

[Moment of silence; they continue walking]

Maria Sol

What are we doing out here, Sam?

Sam Bailey

What?

Maria Sol

Why are any of us still here, working with ISPHA? After what they did to Anna? After… 

Sam Bailey

Maria, is this really the time to—

Ren Park (over radio)

Team One, all clear.

Sam Bailey

[into radio] Team Two, clear.

[after a moment, to Maria] Go on.

Maria Sol

I thought Ren and I were friends. I thought they were Anna’s friend. I thought they cared about us.

Sam Bailey

Well… they do. They still do. I think.

Maria Sol

Friends don’t do what Ren did to Anna. You listened to that tape. It was fucked up, the experiments he did on her. The experiments he’s still doing, on all of us.

Sam Bailey

All of us? I thought they only—

Maria Sol

How much blood did they draw when you got hurt? How many scans have they been running on Bill’s head ever since he started showing psychic abilities? And don’t you think it’s a little suspicious that ISPHA keeps throwing us to the wolves out here when we’ve had exactly zero luck figuring out Anna’s apocalypse?

[They stop walking]

Sam Bailey

You think this is all just — one big experiment? That they’re trying to test us, see what we can do?

Maria Sol

That’s part of it. But I also keep thinking about what Ned told us — about why we keep running into stuff like this. That it’s drawn to us for some reason.

Sam Bailey

You don’t think that—

Ren Park (over radio)

Team One, clear.

Sam Bailey

[into radio] Same here.

[to Maria] You think ISPHA’s sending us out here as bait? Just to see what we find? Why?

Maria Sol

I don’t know. It’s… I don’t think we’re actually helping anyone, working with ISPHA. And I think they’re just making us worse.

Ren Park (over radio)

Team Two, report.

Sam Bailey

We’re fine here, Ren — what’s going on?

Ren Park (over radio)

We saw something in the trees up ahead. It was only for a second, but we’re moving to investigate. Do you have eyes on?

Sam Bailey

No, no, I don’t see anything. Maria?

Maria Sol

Nothing.

Ren Park (over radio)

Sam, do you have any sense of — AH!

[Ren’s voice cuts out with a cry]

[The signal turns to static]

Sam Bailey

Ren? Ren, do you copy, over?

[Sam and Maria begin to move towards where the other team is]

Maria Sol

We need to get over there—

[Maria is cut off by the high-pitched shriek overhead]

Sam Bailey

Maria, duck!

[The creature swoops close, the sound of flapping wings or cloth heard as it flies away]

Maria Sol

What the hell is that thing?

Sam Bailey

I don’t know — but let’s see if it can feel fear.

[Static rises on the tape]

Sam Bailey

Feel the fear that you inflict — the panicked rush your presence brings to those you hunt… [static fades] Holy shit.

Maria Sol

What? What is it?

Sam Bailey

I just felt its emotions. It’s… they’re human. At least… as human as I am.

[Moment of silence]

Maria Sol

I think you scared them off.

Sam Bailey

For now, at least. We need to find the others.

[into radio] Ren, can you hear me?

Maria Sol

Come on, I think they went this way.

Sam Bailey

Are you sure? I thought it was—

Maria Sol

Come on, Sam!

[Sam has a frustrated sigh]

[Wet footsteps through mud as they try to find their friends]

Maria Sol

Kate? Bill? Ren? Where are you?

Sam Bailey (into radio)

Can anyone hear me, over?

[The sound of a nearby radio]

[Sam steps forward and picks something up]

Maria Sol

What is that?

Sam Bailey

It’s, uh… Ren’s radio.

Maria Sol

Oh god, no… 

Kate Sheridan (whispered, distanced)

Sam! Maria! Get over here!

[Sam and Maria walk over to Kate]

[The sound changes as they move into an area that’s sheltered by branches]

Maria Sol

Are you okay? Is Bill here?

Bill Tyler

Yeah, I’m here — we’re alright. That thing just took Ren, though.

Maria Sol

Shit.

Sam Bailey

Which way did they go?

Kate Sheridan

North, I think… further into the forest. We didn’t stick around to see.

Bill Tyler

What the hell was this thing, Sam? Why did it take Ren?

Sam Bailey

They’re not a thing. They’re human… or at least, they used to be.

[Brief pause]

Kate Sheridan

What the hell does that mean?

Sam Bailey

I made a connection with them. I was expecting animal emotions or raw instinct, but… whoever they are, I think they’re an altered human, like me or Amanita. And they didn’t expect to run into someone else with abilities out here.

Kate Sheridan

Can you still feel them?

Sam Bailey

No… no, it was quick, and I was too surprised to hold the connection. Besides, I think they’re too far away to get a read on now.

Maria Sol

So what do we do? Split up again and search the forest?

Sam Bailey

And what, let them pick us off one by one?

Bill Tyler

We should call for backup. Even if it’s just someone like Sam, I don’t think we can take them on by ourselves.

Kate Sheridan

We can’t just wait for them to show up, we need to find Ren now—

[Loud phone chime]

Bill Tyler

Jesusshitfuck, why is your phone turned up so loud, Maria—?

[Digital tapping noises]

Maria Sol

Holy shit.

Sam Bailey

What is it?

Maria Sol

Ren just sent me his location.

[They look at her screen]

Sam Bailey

How far away is that?

Bill Tyler

Looks like about 5 miles north of here… another clearing, based on the map.

Kate Sheridan

How did Ren manage to send that?

[Brief pause]

Maria Sol

It could be a trap.

Kate Sheridan

Why would someone want to trap us?

Bill Tyler

Do you think they might be working for Morrison? Or the people he worked for?

Sam Bailey

I don’t think so… doesn’t feel like him, somehow.

Maria Sol

Maybe someone with a grudge against ISPHA? They seem to have plenty of enemies.

Kate Sheridan

Either that, or they just forgot to take Ren’s phone away before he sent that.

Sam? Any theories?

[Brief pause]

Sam Bailey

Well… we don’t have much to go on. But even if it is a trap, it’s the only play we have. It’ll take at least a day for ISPHA to get backup out here, and Ren could be dead by then.

I say we follow the ping… but don’t take anything for granted. I have a feeling we’re still being hunted.

Bill Tyler

Agreed.

Kate Sheridan

Maria, could you call this in? If it all goes to shit, I want someone to come rescue us too.

[Digital tapping noises]

Maria Sol

Got it.

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[The chirping of crickets in the background]

[The rain has stopped]

[Wind moves through the trees, occasional drops of water on metal are heard]

Bill Tyler

Are you sure this is the place?

Maria Sol

As sure as I can be with this service. It looks like the location ping is just… there.

[Kate sighs]

Kate Sheridan

In the abandoned, creepy cabin. Great.

Sam Bailey

Gristmill, actually.

Kate Sheridan

Huh?

Sam Bailey

It’s an old gristmill — see, there used to be a waterwheel on that side, and it needed to be two stories for the, uh… the mechanism to work.

Bill Tyler

Whatever it is, it’s about to fall apart. Must be a hundred years old, at least.

Kate Sheridan

Do you feel anything, Sam?

[Static rises briefly]

Sam Bailey

Not… no, I don’t feel anyone. Not anyone like me, at least. Maybe they’re still looking for us near camp?

Maria Sol

As if we’ve ever been that lucky.

[Bill sighs]

Bill Tyler

Let’s take a look. Maria, you stay out here with the radio — call us if you see anything move. Kate — you still have your pistol?

Kate Sheridan

Always.

Bill Tyler

Alright: you, me, and Sam head in there and we see if we can find Ren. If that thing shows up—

Kate Sheridan

I’ll be ready. Sam?

Sam Bailey

Yeah, me too.

Maria Sol

Good luck.

Bill Tyler

Hopefully we don’t need it. Come on.

[Sam, Kate, and Bill walk through gravel toward the front door]

[An old wooden door creaks open loudly]

Kate Sheridan

Well if they’re not gone, they know we’re here.

Sam Bailey

They don’t… [old wooden boards creak underfoot] I still can’t sense them.

Bill Tyler

Less talking, more looking.

[Kate chuckles to herself, stifling a laugh]

Bill Tyler

What?

Kate Sheridan

Nothing, just… you being the one to say that.

Bill Tyler

The more things change… [Bill laughs] Just like old times, eh Sam?

Sam Bailey

What do you mean?

Bill Tyler

Back at OCPD. Partners in crime-fighting, facing the unknown.

Sam Bailey

We were never called out anywhere like this, Bill.

Bill Tyler

Huh… yeah, guess that was more with Ned. Still… feels like being on a case again.

Kate Sheridan

Over here, I found something!

[Bill and Sam go over to her]

Sam Bailey

What is it?

Kate Sheridan

There’s a light on up there… it’s faint, but I can see it through the gaps in the floorboards.

Bill Tyler

Please tell me this isn’t the only way to the second story?

Sam Bailey

I think it is. There might be a way to climb up outside, but… I don’t know if that’s any safer.

Kate Sheridan

Stairs must have rotted away faster than the rest of this place.

Bill Tyler 

Come on Kate… I’ll give you a boost. You too, Sam.

Sam Bailey

How are you going to get up, then?

Bill Tyler

I’ll stay down here — watch our exit. Don’t want to get trapped in here if they show up. I can probably scramble up too, if I need to.

[Zipper on a small purse]

[Kate sighs and hands her pistol to Bill]

Kate Sheridan

Here.

Bill Tyler

Kate, are you sure you won’t need this…?

Kate Sheridan

I’ve got Sam with me if anything happens. We’re all making it out of this alive, understood?

Bill Tyler

Yes ma’am.

Kate Sheridan

Be careful, Bill.

Bill Tyler

Always am! Here we go… 

[Bill hoists up Kate first, then Sam, with grunts of effort from all]

[Sam and Kate settle in on the second floor of the gristmill]

[The sounds of the forest feel more present up here]

[Bill’s voice now sounds distant]

Bill Tyler

You okay up there?

Kate Sheridan 

Uh… yeah, we’re fine!

Bill Tyler

Any sign of the… whoever it is?

Sam Bailey

No… I still can’t get a read on them. They’re not here.

Bill Tyler

Well what’s up there?

Kate Sheridan

It’s, uh… It’s a lot, Bill.

Bill Tyler

What is?

Sam Bailey

The walls are covered in newspaper clippings, Bill.

Bill Tyler

What, like they used them for insulation when they built the place?

Kate Sheridan

No Bill, they’re… they’re recent.

[Sam steps closer to the wall, boards creaking underfoot]

Bill Tyler

How recent?

Sam Bailey

Well, since this column from The Times-Picayune is about vampires… I’m guessing pretty recent.

[Kate looks closely at the wall]

Kate Sheridan

Sam, look at this.

Sam Bailey

“Mystery lights at White Sands Missile Range stump…” shit. “Mead Run quarantined due to fungal outbreak—” What the hell is this?

Kate Sheridan

Oh god… Sam, look at this.

[Sam creeps closer to her]

Sam Bailey

Holy shit… 

Bill Tyler

What is it? What did you find?

Sam Bailey

It’s… us. Pictures of the four of us — Jerry — Rob… 

Kate Sheridan

Peter and Andrew. They have pictures of Peter and Andrew.

Bill Tyler

What else?

Sam Bailey

There’s… there’s more newspaper clippings… bits and pieces of social media profiles… it even looks like a couple of the ISPHA files from when they were watching us, but I don’t know how—

Kate Sheridan

Sam, what does this look like to you?

Sam Bailey

What?

Kate Sheridan

The way this is laid out… take a step back.

[They step back slightly]

Sam Bailey

Holy shit, you’re right.

Bill Tyler

What is it?

Kate Sheridan

It’s a hierarchy… a power structure. We’re down at the bottom, but above that — they’ve got Ren’s photo. Him, and a couple of the researcher leads from Meriwether.

Sam Bailey

And Caldwell. Right at the top of the pyramid.

Bill Tyler

They were hunting us. They were trying to draw us in. That’s why they were dressed up like that — they knew it would get ISPHA’s attention.

[Faint sound of movement and a muffled groan]

[Kate and Sam flinch]

Kate Sheridan

Did you hear that?

Sam Bailey

Yeah.

Kate Sheridan

Do you think it’s—

[Static briefly rises]

Sam Bailey

No, it’s not them… it feels more like—

[Sam opens a closet door and lets out a sigh of relief]

Kate Sheridan

It’s Ren. He’s okay.

Bill Tyler

What happened? [rustling] Does he still have his phone?

Sam Bailey

Let me get this gag off, and maybe we’ll find out.

[Sam removes the rag from Ren’s mouth; Ren exhales]

Kate Sheridan

Are you alright, Ren?

Ren Park

He’s… he’s still here… 

Sam Bailey

What?

Ren Park

You need to get out of here, he’s… it’s a trap!

[Radio crackles to life]

Maria Sol (over radio)

Sam, run! They’re still out here, they’re coming your way—

[The overhead shriek is heard again]

[Something large crashes into the roof of the gristmill]

[The boards splinter and fall as the creature smashes through and lands in front of them]

[A deadly silence fills the room]

[The sounds of the forest are louder]

Paul Payne

Sorry about the mess… I was gonna come in through the window, but I, uh… kinda missed. Well where’s the rest of the team? I’m

pretty sure I saw Bill and Maria out there, but I was moving pretty quick.

Sam Bailey

I’m not telling you shit.

Paul Payne

Awww… [he tsks] Sam… you know I could find them faster than you could say it, right? I’m trying to be polite.

Sam Bailey

Don’t be so sure I’d let you.

Paul Payne

So you’re the one I felt out there, huh? That’s a nifty trick you’ve got… though I have to say, it’s awfully rude to go putting thoughts in other people’s heads.

Kate Sheridan

Ruder than kidnapping a friend of ours?

[Paul laughs]

Paul Payne

Touché. So I’m guessing you’re like me, then? Another one of ISPHA’s freaks?

Sam Bailey

Wait… you work for ISPHA?

Paul Payne

What? No, I mean… made by ISPHA, not working for ‘em. That’s how you got your powers, right?

Sam Bailey

Powers? No, this is… I made a deal with something when I was a kid. ISPHA had nothing to do with it, they’re just—

Paul Payne

Nothing you know of. Your employer’s got a longer reach than anyone would believe. And I know I’m not the only one they screwed out of a normal life.

Kate Sheridan

What do you mean, ISPHA gave you your powers? And why did you take Ren?

[Brief pause]

Paul Payne

When I was 12 years old, a train derailed outside my hometown. It was carrying chemical waste from a plant up north… three of my friends died from exposure. I wasn’t so lucky.

Sam Bailey

What happened?

Paul Payne

I woke up in the hospital with one Doctor Daniella Caldwell of the Institute for Stellar Propulsion, Heuristics, and Aeronautics watching over me. Didn’t take too long to figure out she wasn’t a medical doc. Didn’t take much longer to figure out she wasn’t there to make me better.

I spent near six months in that quarantine wing, alone with nobody to talk to but a bunch of ISPHA scientists. Two weeks in, I woke up floating four feet above my bed. A month later, I accidentally ripped a door off its hinges trying to go the bathroom. And half a year later, I tore the entire wing down and escaped before anyone could stop me… but not before ISPHA took as much blood as they could draw without killing me. I’m sure they’re still running tests on it… seeing how they can use it.

Kate Sheridan

I don’t see what this has to do with why you took Ren—

Paul Payne

Do you know who owned the chemical plant that train was coming from? Who poisoned my friends and left me a monster?

[Moment of silence]

I destroyed that wing of the hospital, but she escaped — Caldwell. I let her go because I was a kid, and I wanted to go home — because I needed my family. When I got there, I learned that IPSHA hadn’t told my folks a goddamn thing since the accident. [Paul sounds choked up] As far as they knew, I was still missing… and my ma… um… couldn’t take it. My pa just barely managed to hold on until I got back, but he… he wasn’t the same after that.

ISPHA destroyed my life, Sam. ISPHA, Caldwell… all of them have to pay. And when I found out they had you four looking high and low for any monsters that you could find… I knew I wouldn’t get a better chance at drawing ISPHA out in the open.

Granted, I was hoping for Caldwell herself, [slight creak in floorboards] but… this will have to do. For a start.

[The click of a pistol’s hammer]

Bill Tyler

[breathing slightly hard] Stay away from them.

Kate Sheridan

Bill, don’t—

[A rush of movement along with a slight shriek]

[The gun is no longer in Bill’s hand]

Bill Tyler

What the fuck—?

[Paul raises his hand, revealing the pistol in his grip]

[He squeezes it, crushes it, and drops the ruined gun with a heavy clunk]

Paul Payne

Ask him. Ask Ren what he knows. You think he’s innocent in all of this? Then ask him.

[Brief pause]

Sam Bailey

Ren… please tell me he’s lying.

Ren Park

I didn’t know! Look, I only started working with ISPHA a few years ago. I think I read something about a train crash — Project Quicksilver, I think it was called, but it ended way before I joined! Please, you have to believe me!

Paul Payne

The project never ended. It never ends. Whatever he’s told you, your mission started long before they took you in… before Ren, before Caldwell, before the Institute even became the Institute.

Sam Bailey

How is that possible? Anna only started having her visions a few years ago.

Paul Payne

I… I don’t know who Anna is.

Kate Sheridan

She’s my sister — she had dreams about an apocalypse, and ISPHA brought us on to try and prevent it.

[Paul laughs slightly]

Paul Payne

ISPHA isn’t trying to prevent any apocalypse. They never have been.

Kate Sheridan

They… [Kate sighs, exasperated] what?

Paul Payne

I spent a lot of years wondering why Caldwell spent so long studying me — why she took so many samples, drew so much blood, made as many measurements as she did. And I didn’t figure it out until about five years ago, when ISPHA published a paper about what they called Spontaneous Translational Locomotion. It was all very theoretical — but I knew they’d finally figured out the way that I fly. And the cherry on top? They suggested that it might make near-light speed travel possible in the right spacecraft.

So I looked closer, and what do I find?

Advancements in AI from studying the Ouroboros computer virus. Medicines and solvents derived from samples of the Foribus Oraculi mushroom. Advanced plastics and artificial body parts developed by studying a possessed doll and her messed up caretaker. And now, an experimental interstellar test vehicle with propulsion systems based on my abilities, currently under construction at the Meriwether Facility.

ISPHA’s mission is not to save the world… it never has been. They want to leave it behind. And they use people like us to do it.

[Everything goes quiet for a moment]

[Sounds of movement as Kate turns to Ren]

[She sighs, furious]

Kate Sheridan

We trusted you. You told me my family would be safe, and all this time — what, you were just going to leave us behind when the world ended?

Ren Park

No! Of course not! I wanted to save the world… I still do! But if we can’t, then the only way to save humanity is to get them off-world… and the only way to do that in time was through people like you… [Kate scoffs] like Sam.

I’m sorry.

Paul Payne

Oh, at least you feel some guilt about it. That’s better than your boss, at least.

I don’t know anything about the world ending, and I don’t care… what ISPHA’s doing [subtle floorboard creaking] is wrong. And I’m going to tear it down, piece by piece until I — OOF!

[Paul cuts off with a painful grunt]

[A Crack as a heavy board breaks over Paul’s skull]

[He staggers and falls to the floor, unconscious]

[Moment of quiet]

[Someone steps forward]

Maria Sol

[finally releasing her breath] So… What do we do now?

[Brief pause]

[Maria surveys the room, floorboards creaking]

Kate Sheridan

Bill, go and untie Ren. We’re leaving.

Maria Sol

What do we do about… what’s his name?

Ren Park

Paul. His name’s Paul.

Kate Sheridan

We’re going to leave Paul here. ISPHA has more than enough to answer for already.

[Clack]

Recording Ends

End Theme & Credits


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s