20.75: Parkdale Haunt: Live!

Parkdale Haunt goes live at Toronto Comicon 2022! Is it fun? You bet it is. Does it feature a great cast? Heck yes it does. Is it canonical? You better believe it isn't. Plus, you get an episode AND a Q&A all in one. It's like Christmas in March, if this is what you wanted for Christmas (a highly specific ask if there ever was one).
CONTENT WARNINGS: Hauntings/the paranormal, the occult

PARKDALE HAUNT

LIVE EPISODE: “BONES”

[SFX: THEME + 2-beep]

BIRD: [walks onto stage, on the phone] Yes, I’m at the open house. The place is fine. Bit of a 1970s-time capsule, but everything sells so fast these days that it could be on fire and still fetch 2 mil. [pause, listening] What? [pause, listening] Yeah, there’s a few people here. [looks out towards the audience, taking stock of how many there are] Maybe a half dozen so far. Oh, what happened with the deed for SickKids Hospital? … We got it? Brilliant. That is prime real estate in the core, I can’t wait to repurpose it into something actually useful. [pause, listening] Well, that’s just the price of doing business. Plus, it just sounds fake; a hospital for ONLY sick kids? [pause, listening, surprised] Really? Oh, well that’s tragic. I’m sure he’ll be back on his feet though in no time, kneecaps grow back. … They don’t? Well, you learn something new every day. Anyway, I’m sure the kiddies will be fine. I’m just glad I finally wrapped my wings around that location. [looks around again, sees people] Ah, I should go. More potential buyers have arrived. I’d say I need to get to selling, but these places practically sell themselves these days. [puts phone away]

[to audience, like they’re there for the viewing] Hello, I’m Austin Bird, and I want to welcome you all here today. This is a real gem of a property that’s just come on the market, and today you’ll be getting the tour from another gem. [winks, laughs] But enough jesting, if you look around, you’ll see that this is a wonderful and historic piece of local architecture. Plaster walls, original detailing and lighting, and the woodwork? Beautiful. Just think, with a contractor you can rip all this out and turn it into an open concept live-work space in a jiff!

Now, if you’ll come this way, you can see the kitchen is a bit out of date, but it’s nothing that can’t be modernized. This place has great bones. I believe the pipes are relatively new, let me just turn this on… [SFX: SINK TURNING ON, SPUTTERS] ah, uh… well, I know it may look like blood is dripping out of the sink, but I assure you that red colour is just some rust in the pipes! Nothing to worry about. And I know there’s a few bugs skittering around [slams hand on table like he’s crushing a bug] but there are no infestation issues, I assure you. You know how it is; in any old house, there will always be a little something creeping its way in.

On this wall, you can see the lovely built-in cabinetry. Ah, apparently a great place to store preserves. Someone here likes the pickled onions and tomatoes! … That’s funny… that one looks kind of like… an eyeball…? [shakes it off] Who knows what the kids are into these days. I know I can’t keep up with the latest food trends. Moving on!

Oh, don’t pay attention to that… red stain on the wall, that will buff right out. A magic eraser will do wonders, I assure you.

There are multiple bedrooms are upstairs, [SFX: FLOOR CREAK] and… I’m sorry, did you see a figure up there? Did someone go upstairs? Hello? … hello? Well, uh, hm. I’m sure that’s just someone hoping for a sneak peek. It’s a bullish market out there, people are always trying to get ahead.

There’s also a spacious basement. [SFX: someone thumps on the table with their fist] Did… did you see anyone go down there before? The lock is… [SFX: thump thump] still on the door. But no one is down there, right? Should we check? No, no. [SFX: thump thump] There can’t be anyone down there. There can’t! [SFX: thump thump thump] STOP. [silence, nervous] Well… guess we won’t be getting any surprise guests then.

[SFX: door opens]

JUDITH: Owen, can you help me put the groceries… whoa.

OWEN: Uh, hi? Claire, why is the house full of people?

JUDITH: This surprise party is off to a weird start.

CLAIRE: [to Bird] Uh, excuse me, but why are you here? Who let you in? [looks out at audience] And who’s this?

BIRD: [smarmy] Ms. Sterback, hello. Everyone, this is Claire, the current owner of the house-

CLAIRE: THE owner of the house, as in the once and future, Mr. Bird. Who are all of these people? And WHY are you in MY house, you parasite?

JUDITH: Yeah, if this is a surprise party, I’m going to require at least one of you to say happy birthday at this point.

BIRD: Excuse me? You asked me to be here.

CLAIRE: What?

BIRD: Your letter? You sent a note saying that you were ready to sell the house.

JUDITH: And that didn’t strike you as wildly out of character?

BIRD: I thought that Ms. Sterback had finally come to her senses when it comes to relinquishing ownership of this place.

CLAIRE: I most certainly did NOT. [realizes what she said] I mean I do, have my senses, but they would never inspire me to contact you about anything, and why would I write you a letter of all things? Did we suddenly get transported into a Jane Austen novel?   

OWEN: Do you honestly think that, even if she did want to sell the house, she’d ask you?

BIRD: I am the best.

JUDITH: At being the worst.

BIRD: Excuse me, but-

CLAIRE: Get out of my house.

BIRD: I just think that you should avoid being too rash.

JUDITH: You’re in her HOUSE. With people who did not wish me a happy birthday, I might add.

OWEN: It’s not your birthday.

JUDITH: Yes, but they don’t know that.

OWEN: Also, no one took their shoes off. [to audience] Seriously? Not one of you could wipe your feet?

CLAIRE: [to audience] Ok, all of you, OUT. Door’s that way. Yeah, you with the muddy shoes, OUT. … Oh, I like your coat, where did you get- no, doesn’t matter. … No, don’t give me your card, I will NOT be in touch. GET. OUT. [SFX: DOOR CLOSES] [turns to Bird.] OK, you have 30 seconds to explain yourself before I ask Owen to throw you off the porch.

OWEN: [cracks knuckles] I’ve been doing 10 push-ups a day, I’m ready.

BIRD: You said you wanted to show the space!

CLAIRE: When?

BIRD: As you can see, I received a letter stating that you were interested in showing the house [takes letter out, shakes it]. Right here! I assumed you wanted a paper trail. Literally.

JUDITH: Claire doesn’t even like answering work emails, as if she’d send a letter, like, “Dearest Austin, our distance is so great, but I dreamt last night that I did giveth mine property unto you!”

CLAIRE: Are you kidding me? Is that-… does that letter have a wax seal!?

OWEN: What is that, parchment? Did this come to you on horseback?

JUDITH: Does your office have a telegraph?

BIRD: Of course not. I don’t even accept faxes.

CLAIRE: And yet you counted this as a legitimate piece of correspondence.

BIRD: Unorthodox, yes, but I always jump at opportunity when it presents itself-

CLAIRE: Can I see that?

BIRD: Fine. [passes her the letter]

CLAIRE: [reading] “Dear Sir: I would like to offer the space located at… [mumbling address] … if you could kindly bring interested people… [mumbling]… a key will be placed [mumbling]… those interested should be brought in immediately. They can wait inside for the final judgement. The house must be relinquished. New blood must gain access” I obviously did not write this. Did the language not tip you off? Did you assume that I wrote like the Zodiac Killer?

JUDITH: Yeah, did you not notice that in small letters at the bottom it says: “all willing bodies needed”?

BIRD: Admittedly, I found that a tad odd, but I’ve overlooked more for less in this market. And I know a sale when I see one. I mean, you’ve been quite verbose in the past.

CLAIRE: Uh, I was possessed?

BIRD: Really? Oh, I’m sorry.

CLAIRE: You believe me?

BIRD: No, that sounds incredibly silly. Also, I had gotten word from your assistant that she’d meet me here along with all potential buyers. She said this was a bit of a… what was the wording she used… “fire sale”?

CLAIRE: [pause] Who said they were my assistant?

BIRD: I forget, Lauren? Liana?

JUDITH: Did she say her name was Lydia?

BIRD: That’s it.

JUDITH: Oh, oh shit. That’s not good.

BIRD: Yes, she was quite rude at times.

OWEN: What’s on the back?

BIRD: Hmm?

OWEN: There’s writing on the back of the letter.

BIRD: Huh, I never noticed that there was a post script [reading] Sanguis tuus effundet-

OWEN: [snatches the letter away] Don’t ever read mysterious Latin! Are you new here or something?

BIRD: Give that back!

JUDITH: Wait, let me see that. [Owen hands Judith the letter] You know this is written in blood, right?

BIRD: No, it isn’t, that’s disgusti- [looks at it, realizes] … oh. Oh my.

JUDITH: Let me get this straight: you get a letter on parchment, written in blood, with LATIN TEXT on it, and you think, hmmmm… this feels legit?

BIRD: Well, this is not the first odd item I’ve had to deal with. You ever had someone hand you a legal document printed onto handmade paper? I have. Very difficult to sign on that kind of grain.

CLAIRE: Ok, you know what, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I didn’t give you permission to host your deranged little open house in the first place.

BIRD: Miss Sterback, as I keep saying, you could be a very rich young lady if you sold.

CLAIRE: Uh huh, and then what?

BIRD: I have some lovely investment condos for you to peruse. You like Liberty Village?

CLAIRE: No.

BIRD: What about… actually, they’re all in Liberty Village. I mean, you shouldn’t exclude it. It’s not like my clients actually live in the condos they purchase. It’s just a thing people of a certain… status possess. Like a particularly nice paper weight. How about we start you with a charming studio?

CLAIRE: Get out.

BIRD: Fine. And I’ll take this [snatches back the letter]. Keep this as evidence of your continued harassment.

CLAIRE: Oh my GOD.

JUDITH: Buddy, you are moments away from getting egged, and I just bought these eggs so I do not take wasting them on you lightly.

BIRD: Are they free range?

CLAIRE: Out!

BIRD: Ok! [SFX: opens the door] Also, I must say, if you’re going to write odd things in Latin, you could at least do a better job at translating, because this is gibberish.

OWEN: And you’d know that how?

BIRD: I studied Classics for a time.

JUDITH: How is that both surprising and yet completely unsurprising?

BIRD: It’s sloppy. There’s a line here that says: “When I arrive, remember: portae cohibere, donec ossa reperiuntur[SFX: DOOR SLAMS AND LOCKS] [yelling through the door] Well fine! Good day to you as well!

OWEN: What did I just say about reading the Latin out loud? [pauses to try and open the door] … yeah, so, uh, some news: the front door is locked. And I can’t open it.

JUDITH: Cool. That’s… very cool and good. I love being trapped in a definitely haunted ex-cult house. What could go wrong?

OWEN: Lots of things. Horrible things. Horrible deadly things-

JUDITH: Yes! Owen, I know!

OWEN: Just checking. Anyway, this door doesn’t even feel like it’s locked, it just feels like it’s painted onto the wall. It won’t budge at all.

JUDITH: Right. I’m going to go check the back door and then the windows.

CLAIRE: I’m real glad that that idiot realtor could get us trapped in here indefinitely via mediocre Latin. It’s not like I had other plans or anything! [pause] Maybe I should sell it.

OWEN: Or raze it.

JUDITH: Ok, I checked the back door and the windows on the main floor, and they are all sealed shut. They’re also warm, which is… probably a bad sign.

CLAIRE: What kind of warm?

JUDITH: Like feverish skin.

OWEN: Should we try smashing a window?

CLAIRE: Go for it.

OWEN: Ok, uhhh… sorry, little bar stool, but this is for our own good. [SFX: He swings it, but instead of a glass smashing noise there is a thump and then the sound of air being sucked in violently, which then stops]

JUDITH: Ok, so the window is fine but we’re down one seat that I guess has been sucked into purgatory.

CLAIRE: Aw, I liked that stool.

OWEN: Right, we can’t break the windows. Can’t open the doors. So…

JUDITH: I don’t think it’s just the house we’re up against. [pause, looks] Did… someone just slip a note through the door?

CLAIRE: What the hell?

OWEN: Is it also written in blood?

CLAIRE: [picks up note] “Hello friends, hope you’re all doing well-“

JUDITH: Weird opening, but ok.

CLAIRE: “I noticed that you made everyone else leave. That’s a bit rude of you, I only wanted more bodies for the flames. It’s a sacrifice I was willing to make. But now that you’re all here, I have the option of getting the three of you out of my hair. That’s great news for me! Less so for you, but who cares?“

JUDITH: Still a weird vibe.

CLAIRE: “The doors may have locked me outside, but that doesn’t mean you are safe. I will push my way in through these walls until the fire of Moloch peels the skin from your bones. I will concentrate everything I have on this space until you are all ash in the cooling remains of its foundation.

CLAIRE/LYDIA: I am waiting. I am watching. You cannot leave. The house is sealed. Anything protecting it will degrade and I will burn this place from the outside in.”

JUDITH: Is this from who I think it’s from?

CLAIRE: “Love and light, Lydia.”

JUDITH: That’s it! No one has a worse ex than me.Like why even fill it with prospective buyers?

CLAIRE: I think she’s just a huge jerk.

JUDITH: [SFX: FLOOR CREAKING] Are we sure everyone left?

CLAIRE: I thought they did.

OWEN: [looks] There’s… no one down there.

CLAIRE: I don’t see anyone either.

JUDITH: It’s getting warm in here. It’s getting really warm in here.

OWEN: How are we supposed to figure out how to get out?

CLAIRE: I don’t know.

OWEN: And what if we screw up and get killed? Or the house just… takes us out on its own because it’s bored or something?

CLAIRE: I think we have to hope it doesn’t.

JUDITH: Hope feels like the wrong emotion right now. You know what the right emotion might be? Fear, maybe. Crushing despair. Knowledge that my last meal was from Pizza Pizza. God, I have wasted my life.

CLAIRE: We’ll find a way out. Listen, this is probably a bad idea, but-

OWEN: Then don’t do it.

CLAIRE: -but I’m going to try to open the window again. With my hands.

OWEN: Did you not see the barstool get sucked into the ether?

CLAIRE: Maybe it’s just reacting to aggression. What happens if we just… touch the window? [reaches out]

CLAIRE/LYDIA: I can see everything you’re doing. This house is where your bones will be found and burned.

CLAIRE: [pulls hand back] Holy…- what WAS that?

OWEN: That’s new.

CLAIRE: Ok, I think we need to figure out how to fix this, and fast.

JUDITH: No one is allowed to complain about their ex ever again to me because I don’t think anyone else can top homicidal death cult leader.

CLAIRE: I mean you’re right. [pause] What about Marcus?

JUDITH: Marcus’s worst crime was that he chewed with his mouth open and kept calling you after you broke up because he had a dream that you were still together. I would take a thousand Marcus’s over this.

CLAIRE: Good point. Although he did call his mom “mother.” Like he would call me and go, “I’m sorry, mother needs me to come over.” It was so creepy.

JUDITH: Claire.

CLAIRE: Sorry! Sorry. You’re right. Doesn’t compare to “death cult.”

OWEN: So… Lydia’s outside somewhere. We’re trapped inside. And the walls are metaphysical lava.

JUDITH: Yes.

OWEN: And she’s going to find a way to destroy this place with us inside.

JUDITH: Yep.

OWEN: I think you have the worst ex.

JUDITH: I KNOW.

[SFX: 2-beep / 2-beep]

JUDITH: [sighs] Is it weird if I have a beer while waiting to see what happens?

OWEN: Maybe? … You know what? Not really.

JUDITH: Cool. [cracks open a can] I hate the waiting. What? I’m impatient.

OWEN: I’d prefer if we get out of here.

JUDITH: Enough with the logic, more accepting our doom.

OWEN: I’m going to take that beer away if you’re going to mope.

JUDITH: Fine. Where’s Claire?

OWEN: She’s checking through some books in the living room to see if there’s anything that might help us.

JUDITH: Any luck?

OWEN: Nope. I found a couple recipe books from the 1980s, though.

JUDITH: What kind? Something interesting? Or something deeply dated?

OWEN: The second one. 1988 Jell-O Cookbook, baby. [holds up the Jell-O cookbook]

JUDITH: Oh noooooo… [flipping through book] Cucumber relish? With Jell-o? Maybe this is our punishment. We have to eat this thing that involves both lime jell-o and minced onion.

OWEN: If the house could fall on me before that happens, that would be preferable.

JUDITH: This house is… unpredictable. It’s weird. I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s like every time I’m in here the hairs on my neck stand up. Sometimes I’ll be standing in the living room and the dread settles over me like a weighted blanket, and other times it’s fine. Then it’ll happen in the kitchen. I can’t just write it off as like, anxiety. It’s the house. The house watches.

OWEN: You think?

JUDITH: Yeah. You got any ideas on what we should do before Lydia gets in?

OWEN: Well, can’t break out, don’t want to try to force a door because I assume I’ll end up in limbo. I don’t know what the house wants yet, but I just want to leave.

JUDITH: … do you think we should check the basement?

OWEN: Sure, I’m already feeling kind of scared, let’s go into the part of this house that’s so creepy that I’d rather risk hurling myself into purgatory.

JUDITH: I like to think of it as a cool hangout spot if you’re a teenage demon who wants to vape out of sight of Pazuzu.

OWEN: At this point, I’d take the teenage vaping basement demons.

JUDITH: I bet they know how to have a good time. I just wish we could open this stupid back door- [thumps on the door, freezes for a moment]

JUDITH/LYDIA: I think it’s funny that you think you’re going to make it out of this alive.

OWEN: Jude?

JUDITH/LYDIA: You will be picked off one by one. The last one standing will be gifted the chance to watch the others fall. You cannot hide. I will chew the sinews from your bones and enjoy every moment of it.

[Owen slaps her hand off the door]

JUDITH: Ow, what the hell?

OWEN: Don’t touch the door.

JUDITH: What?

OWEN: Do you remember any of what happened?

JUDITH: I touched the door.

OWEN: Yes, and then your voice went all weird and you started saying creepy things. Creepy Lydia things.

JUDITH: No. Really? That’s… upsetting.

OWEN: Just a little. You ok?

JUDITH: I think so? Let’s just figure out how to get out of here. Hey Claire, any luck?

CLAIRE: What? Oh, not really. I’m just skimming through a few of the books, but there’s not a lot about the house itself or what might reside in it.

JUDITH: What if we just ask nicely? Maybe it wants something.

CLAIRE: [sigh] What do you want, house? New roof? Double-glazed windows? Blood sacrifice?

OWEN: I’m not entirely sure what a double-glazed window is.

CLAIRE: You know, neither am I.I think I remember my parents discussing it once, though.

JUDITH: Maybe try being more polite?

CLAIRE: I’m not grovelling to a house.

JUDITH: Can’t hurt.

CLAIRE: Fine. How about this? … Oh, exalted structure, we are but your humble servants. We wish to serve. We beg of you, though we are not worthy, tell us your desires so that we might fill them and then vacate. [pause] … please? [SFX: BOOK DROPS ONTO THE FLOOR]

OWEN: I guess you were reading the wrong books.

CLAIRE: I don’t recognize this one.

JUDITH: Sciamachy [sigh-a-ma-kee]

CLAIRE: What?

JUDITH: That’s the title.

CLAIRE: Ok.What does that mean?

JUDITH: I’m not sure. I’d look it up but uh… I guess we’re in a faraday cage because I don’t have any signal.

CLAIRE: Yeah,I don’t either. Do you want to blame my internet service or the supernatural for this one?

JUDITH: Why not both?

CLAIRE: [snorts, opens the book.]The book is… empty. Great. [puts it down] Very useful, house! Thanks! [sigh] I’m going to go grab a glass of water.

OWEN: I’ll go get it; I need one too. I’ll be back. [leaves]

JUDITH: You feeling ok?

CLAIRE: Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?

JUDITH: You know… the house is… weird. And you’ve had… issues with it before.

CLAIRE: I’m fine. I can keep things in check.

JUDITH: Ok, I trust you on that. Sometimes I feel like this place hates us.

CLAIRE: It… has its own needs.

JUDITH: Yes, and so do I. The ability to go outside, for one. That’s my right. My… first amendment right.

CLAIRE: Does Canada even have a first amendment?

JUDITH: Yes, technically it’s the recognition of Manitoba as a province. Gonna recognize it so hard when I get out. [sigh] Can I see the book?

CLAIRE: Sure, don’t know what it’s going to tell you.

JUDITH: [flipping through] I thought you said it was empty.

CLAIRE: It is.

JUDITH: No it isn’t.

CLAIRE: What?

JUDITH: There’s text here, a bunch of it.

CLAIRE: No, no, it was blank when I looked at it.

JUDITH: Well it’s not anymore. Maybe the house is giving us an answer finally.

CLAIRE: What does it say?

JUDITH: God, this text is so small, uh… From above as below, the bones of the house must be destroyed. The lock will be negated when the lost can leave. I will let you out, for a price paid in ash.

CLAIRE: O-… kay. Who’s the lost?

JUDITH: Maybe us? I know I’m holding on by a thread most days.

CLAIRE: “From above.” The ceiling? The roof?

JUDITH: How many bodies does this place have?

CLAIRE: You’d be surprised. Anyway, bones. Maybe it’s metaphorical, like the actual structure? It could mean a lot of things. The support beams? The studs? Do we… have to destroy this place?With us in it?

JUDITH: I don’t like that plan.

CLAIRE: Nope.

JUDITH: Could Lydia be doing this as well? Is this a trick?

CLAIRE: I don’t know.

JUDITH: [pause] Claire?

CLAIRE: Yeah?

JUDITH: Owen’s been gone too long.

CLAIRE: Yeah… he has.

JUDITH: Owen? [pause] Owen?

CLAIRE: Should we go check?

JUDITH: Probably. [SFX: PHONE RINGS]

CLAIRE: I thought you said you had no signal?

JUDITH: I don’t. [answers] Hello?

OWEN/LYDIA: Do you know where I am?

JUDITH: Owen?

OWEN/LYDIA: The only way out is with blood. You must bleed if you want the others to be free. [hangs up]

CLAIRE: Was that him?

JUDITH: Uh, he usually sounds less demonic, but like, it’s been a weird afternoon, so you never know. But we need to go check the kitchen. [pause] Why is the kitchen door closed?

CLAIRE: [knocks] Hey, you in there?

[SFX: there’s a pause, and then a pounding starts on the door, slowly but then it gets more frantic]

JUDITH: Oh jeez, why is this door locked as well?

[SFX: the pounding is frantic, and then stops. The door opens slowly]

JUDITH: Owen?

CLAIRE: … he’s not in here.

JUDITH: Where the hell is he then?

OWEN: [appearing behind them] What are you guys doing?

JUDITH/CLAIRE: [startled]

JUDITH: Jesus Chr-… where were you?

OWEN: The bathroom?

CLAIRE: Then who was pounding on this door?

OWEN: On what door?

CLAIRE: The kitchen door.

OWEN: Uh, not me.

JUDITH: Ok, things are getting really weird.

OWEN: [looking over her shoulder] I’m going to assume you didn’t paint that, either.

JUDITH: What-… oh.

CLAIRE: That’s new.

JUDITH: Is that blood?

CLAIRE: Yeah.

JUDITH: That doesn’t look like it’s painted. That looks like it’s… seeping out of the wall.

CLAIRE: TURN ME TO ASH. LET ME LEAVE. I WILL OPEN THE DOOR.

JUDITH: Good thing Mr. Realtor Man isn’t here; this would definitely work against the resale value of the house.

CLAIRE: [sigh] Just don’t… touch it.

OWEN: Uh, I wasn’t going to.

JUDITH: I was, but now you ruined it.

OWEN: Gross.

JUDITH: Imagine if that was like, strawberry compote. Maybe the house just wants us to have a snack.

OWEN: I feel like that’s not how this works, but… should I make scones just in case?

[SFX: 2-beep / 2-beep]

OWEN: So, what does the book say now? Anything new?

CLAIRE: [opens book] Um… yeah, there’s something new. Ash on the doorhandle will open the lock. The bones of the house must burn at your hands. Under a child’s eye are bones. I cannot stay in this hell any longer. I am the keeper of the key and the bones of the house, and I can release the hold if the ash is spread I would like to go I must go I must go I must go.

JUDITH: Can I see the book?

CLAIRE: Sure. [hands her the book]

JUDITH: Alright, hit me. [opens the book] Ooh, someone’s feeling wordy. The hands push in but I will not let them enter. I will not let you leave. I carry the weight with me. In the dark, I can only feel the weight of the dirt and the wood and the endless glass. What is one life for another? What is the blood of one body taken for another’s strength? When does the regret set in? After one? After many? I can no longer speak. I long for a voice. I will take the voice of the one who reads.

OWEN: What?

JUDITH: I will take the voice of the one who reads.

OWEN: What do you think that means?

JUDITH: I will take the voice of the one who reads.

OWEN: … oh no.

CLAIRE: Jude?

JUDITH: I will take the voice of the one who reads.

CLAIRE: Jude? You there?

JUDITH: I will take the voice of the one who reads.

OWEN: Should we leave?

CLAIRE: I don’t know. Maybe? Jude, can you stay here for us? Just for one sec?

JUDITH: Does anyone ever escape loneliness?

CLAIRE: Great point. Ok, we’ll just be in the hallway for one second, ok? [SFX: CLOSE DOOR] … Owen?

OWEN: What the hell do we do now?

CLAIRE: To start, maybe stick to touching as little as possible in the house.

OWEN: What about Judith?

CLAIRE: Uh, I guess we’ll just listen to what the book’s “voice” has to say?

OWEN: Something about bones, probably. Whatever that means.

CLAIRE: I don’t get why ghosts have to be cryptic. Why can’t they just be clear and concise? It’s kind of rude, to be honest.

OWEN: I mean, they’ve got a lot of time to kill to think of riddles. Is someone buried in the walls?

CLAIRE: I hope not, I really don’t want to have to start tearing out drywall.

OWEN: I feel like the whole outside of the house is getting more and more tainted as we go.

CLAIRE: You think it’s getting worse?

OWEN: Is that wall behind you an exterior one?

CLAIRE: Yeah.

OWEN: Alright, what happens if I put my hand here- [puts hand on wall]

OWEN/LYDIA: You’ll never escape. Even if you do, I am waiting for you outside.

OWEN: [uncomfortable, pulls hand back] Gah, ok, did I say something creepy?

CLAIRE: Yes.

OWEN: Alright, the walls are still lava.

CLAIRE: And it’s spreading. Lydia is tainting this from the outside.

OWEN: Ok, uh… let’s check that book again. And also make sure Judith’s ok and not like… bleeding out her eyes or something.

CLAIRE: Oh come on, I was possessed and I never “bled out my eyes.”

OWEN: That I saw.

CLAIRE: You know, possession is really less of an external nightmare, and more of an internal existential horror that rips your own agency and mind away from you and makes you feel as though you can never trust yourself or your senses ever again. Although frankly, I think my hair never looked better. Inside, I feel like my soul was put through a chipper shredder and I don’t know who I am anymore as a person, but physically? It did wonders for my skin. 

OWEN: You were glowing, but I kind of assumed it was… y’know… demon fire.

CLAIRE: You’d think that, but I was just using a retinol.

OWEN: Whatever. Hey Ju-… uh…

CLAIRE: Where is she?

OWEN: She didn’t come past us; she must’ve gone into the dining room and then… around? Jude?

CLAIRE: Judith? Goddamnit.

[SFX: FLOORS CREAK UPSTAIRS]

OWEN: Upstairs?

CLAIRE: Yeah.

OWEN: Ok.

CLAIRE: Let me grab the book and let’s go check.

[SFX: 2-beep / 2-beep]

CLAIRE: She’s not in any of the rooms up here.

OWEN: Where else could she be?

CLAIRE: [looks up] The attic?

OWEN: … right. What if she’s like… waiting for us?

CLAIRE: Like, to attack us?

OWEN: I guess.

CLAIRE: I mean, she’s strong, but not that coordinated.

OWEN: Yes, but maybe the book demon ghost thing controlling her body is.

CLAIRE: Ok, well, if she attacks then we… try to stop her without having anyone get thrown down the stairs.

OWEN: Great plan.[SFX: DOOR OPENS] Hello?

JUDITH: Hello.

OWEN: Hello. Uh… how’s it going?

JUDITH: The walls are closing in. You exist within them, with me, and soon you will join. I am the bones of the house. Please burn me.

OWEN: Let’s not and say we didn’t.

CLAIRE: Come on book, give me something. [flips through the pages]

JUDITH: The ash will give you the chance to liberate. I would like to leave. I would like to go home.

OWEN: Can you be less cryptic and weird?

JUDITH: I would like to go home.

CLAIRE: Are you part of the house?

JUDITH: I am the bones and I am the key.

CLAIRE: Do we have to burn the walls? Are you the studs? Stop being annoying and just tell me.

JUDITH: No. I must burn. The bones of the house.

OWEN: You keep saying that. One above?

CLAIRE: In here?

OWEN: Either that or it really does want a new roof.

CLAIRE: I mean, this is my biological mother’s childhood bedroom.

JUDITH: A child’s eye.

CLAIRE: I need something else to work with. I hate ambiguous clues! I don’t even like difficult crosswords! [opening and closing the book over and over again] Come on, come on, give me something. Ok, here we go.

OWEN: What does it say?

CLAIRE: Please give me a moment, you are too impatient. Wow, I’m getting admonished by a book now.

OWEN: Is it hot in here?

JUDITH: The anger presses inwards. I am the keeper of the house. But another pushes in for the space. What is this room but a keeper of secrets?

CLAIRE: What are the bones of the house?

JUDITH: They are here, they are me, they are-

OWEN: Don’t touch the wall!

JUDITH/LYDIA: [angry] This house shall be enrobed in flame and I will watch as you all burn, trapped within its walls. You will never escape these confines and I will be more powerful for it- [whoever is closer slaps her hand]

JUDITH: [gasping breath] WHAT JUST HAPPENED… why are we upstairs?

CLAIRE: Jude? You alright?

JUDITH: No. Yes? I don’t know, I just got a real overload like a crowd was trying to push their way out through my ribcage. Holy jeez, my head feels like there’s fireworks going off in it.Is this what having someone else in your body felt like for you? 

CLAIRE: I’d describe it more like a thousand people trying to give you papercuts from the inside out, but I get what you’re saying.

OWEN: Something happened after you were reading from the book, it was speaking through you-

JUDITH: Yeah, I felt like I was underwater.

OWEN: And then you touched the wall – don’t touch the wall! – and suddenly you flipped out.

JUDITH: I feel like a switch overloaded in my head.

CLAIRE: I think that’s what happened. Too much at once. You… blew the fuse, I guess. Whatever from the book that was controlling you couldn’t handle Lydia’s attempt to get in, and vice versa.

JUDITH: Am I… me?

CLAIRE: How do you feel?

JUDITH: Like trash.

CLAIRE: How do you normally feel?

JUDITH: Also like trash. Eh, ok, I think I’m me again.

CLAIRE: Welcome back.

JUDITH: What did I miss?

OWEN: Do you know what the bones of the house are?

JUDITH: No? Yes? I don’t know. It feels fuzzy.

CLAIRE: What do you remember?

JUDITH: Someone died here.

CLAIRE: A lot of people died here.

JUDITH: No, there was someone specific. A young man. He died here. He came in one day and never left. His blood is in these walls.

OWEN: What about his bones? Are we talking about literal bones here?

JUDITH: Yes? I think? He’s still here. His blood is the blood and the writing on the walls. There’s… God, my head feels thick. You ever had someone try to push their way out through your brain?

OWEN: No.

CLAIRE: Yes.

JUDITH: Ok, well, he’s… willing to help? But Claire’s right, the house has needs. We’re trapped in here. And the walls are… closing in, in a sense. This house is made of ghosts, I guess. Not literally, but like… my head feels like a blown-out circuit board, you know?

OWEN: No.

CLAIRE: Yes.

JUDITH: He was young. Not young-young, but like… younger than us. They kept the bones. But… damnit, I don’t know where. Somewhere. I guess in here.

CLAIRE: Should we start tearing down drywall? Looking in boxes? What?

JUDITH: Have you tried asking the book nicely?

CLAIRE: Seriously?

JUDITH: Can’t hurt. He seemed like a kind enough dude. A bit presumptuous, like I personally wouldn’t take over a stranger’s body just so I could spout riddles at them, but what do I know, I’m not dead.

OWEN: Not yet, anyway.

CLAIRE: Not helping.Fine. Book, can you please… tell us what you want clearly? We just want to help. Please. And thank you. [slams the book shut, waits a minute, opens it back up]

OWEN: What does it say?

CLAIRE: Look in the closet, there’s a small box on the left. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

OWEN: Oh my god.

CLAIRE: Book, I don’t know whether to give you points for that or to hollow you out and use you for storage.

JUDITH: [takes book, opens it up] You get more spirits with honey than you do blood. I swear to God. [picks up a box] Oh.

CLAIRE: What’s in it?

JUDITH: A skull?

OWEN: I was kind of hoping it would just be a couple finger bones or something, but I’m pleasantly disgusted.

CLAIRE: Is this yours? [slams book, opens it again] Yes. I will let you leave if you burn the bones. Let me leave.

OWEN: Well we can’t set it on fire here, that’s a recipe for us actually burning the house down, if we don’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning first.

JUDITH: The bones have to be burned. Or else we just wait for Lydia to get in, and that feels a lot worse.

OWEN: I have an idea.

[SFX: 2-beep / 2-beep]

CLAIRE: Are you seriously heating the bones under the broiler?

OWEN: If you’ve got a better idea, I’d like to hear it.

CLAIRE: If all else fails, we can make a nice roasted bone broth.

JUDITH: What’s a haunted food? Instead of goulash you just have ghoul-ish?

CLAIRE: Did you get his name?

JUDITH: Hmm?

CLAIRE: Whoever’s bones they are, did you get his name?

JUDITH: … no, I didn’t. Sorry dude, I hope our shitty cremation attempt helps.

OWEN: I think these shouldn’t burn until about… oh, I don’t know, 1000 degrees? But, uh, these are ashing up nicely.

JUDITH: Nothing makes sense today. Just roll with it.

CLAIRE: Should I try asking?

OWEN: Politely.

CLAIRE: Can we please go?[SFX: DOOR UNLOCKS, OPENS] Thank you. What the hell are you still doing here?

BIRD: Uh, waiting for my Uber?

OWEN: How long have you been out there?

BIRD: 5 minutes at most. What? I needed to send a couple of texts before I headed out. I have appointments, you know.

CLAIRE: Five minutes?What? We’ve been in here for ages.

BIRD: No, it’s only 2:45.

OWEN: That’s not good.

BIRD: Why? The only not good thing happening around here is you messing with my chance to make a big sale. [looks up] Ugh, that looks like a nasty storm system moving in.

CLAIRE: That’s… ominous.

BIRD: Perhaps. If you’re into that kind of thing.

JUDITH: And what are you into?

BIRD: Leaving. Oh, I’m sorry miss, the showing is no longer happening.

OWEN: Oh no.

JUDITH: Hello Lydia.

LYDIA: Hi everyone. I’d like to make an offer.

[SFX: 2-beep + END THEME]