POLLARD: to cut off the top and branches of (a tree) to encourage new growth at the top; a deer which has cast its antlers.
[SFX: beep. It’s morning in Judith’s apartment and you can hear her cell phone rings]
JUDITH: Oh my god, oh my god, why does moving hurt? Blinking hurts, everything hurts.
CLAIRE: [indistinct noise]
JUDITH: Is that my phone?
OWEN: [half-asleep] I don’t care whose phone it is, please answer it or turn it off or hit it with a hammer, I don’t care, just make it stop.
JUDITH: Fuck, when was the last time I was this hungover? [SFX: answers phone] Hello?Hello?
CLAIRE: [phone] Hey Judy, baby girl.
JUDITH: [immediately sobers up] Uh, this is unexpected.
CLAIRE: [phone] Aren’t you glad I’m back?
JUDITH: Oh, I AM, but I can’t say I’m thrilled to be getting a call like this.
CLAIRE: [phone] Sugarplum, baby girl, my bestie, you little bitch, how’s it going? You’re so cute when you sleep, I bet when you’re dead you’ll look even more lovely, you’re going to die and take everyone with you.
JUDITH: Whoever this is, fuck off.
LYDIA: [phone] Sorry babe, just thought I’d have some fun. You sound a little worse for wear.
JUDITH: Hello Lydia.You calling for a reason?
LYDIA: [phone] Just wanted to see how you were doing. Last time I saw you, things were a bit iffy.
JUDITH: That’s not how I’d describe it, but sure. You tell yourself what you need to hear.
LYDIA: [phone] I live my truth. Anyway, you want a round two? Maybe see if we can work things out? I know things ended during a period of high stress.
JUDITH: Like I said before, I don’t see this relationship having any staying power.
LYDIA: [phone] Yeah, I guess you’re right. It’s hard to think of a future with someone when you know that their veins will be pulled from their flesh one by one. Besides, honestly, you’re a bit pathetic for my taste.
JUDITH: I’m great, thanks.
LYDIA: [phone] You build your loyalty around you like walls, only for them to collapse around you. Your blood is tainted with naïve emotions that will lead to your downfall. You are worthless.
JUDITH: Is there a point to this or did you just call to be a dick?
LYDIA: [phone] Just thought I’d check in, see how you’re holding up. You’re so delicate, just a widdle baby girl, so scared! Oh, by the way, I think some of your blood got on me in the fray.
JUDITH: Keep it.
LYDIA: [phone] Awww, baby doesn’t want her bwood?
JUDITH: Now you’re just getting gross.
LYDIA: [phone] You want to hear about something gross?
JUDITH: I’d prefer not to.
LYDIA: [phone] Shhhh… Listen. What comes for you from the hidden dark? Do you dream of the shadow that will swallow you whole? Are you ready for the flames that creep upon you in your dreams? Will you cower from the heat?
JUDITH: Ok, I’m hanging up.
LYDIA: [phone] Do you know what it feels like to have ichor weep across your skin?
JUDITH: [SFX: there’s a gurgling sound in the background, a groan from the pipes] Don’t you dare fuck with my home.
LYDIA: [phone] Get some rest, baby girl. The three of you look real rough. [SFX: she hangs up]
JUDITH: Yep, and [SFX: the pipes make a weird sound]… I don’t know what that is, but I don’t like it.
OWEN: What did she say?
JUDITH: The usual, just her being a huge bitch. She’s clearly somewhere nearby, or was just hedging her bets and assumed we’d be together. [SFX: pipes make a sound again] Fuck, what is that?
OWEN: That’s a new sound.
JUDITH: Please, just be the building, just be a scary noise because my goddamn neighbour started putting toothpicks down the drain again.
CLAIRE: If it’s centipedes, I’m leaving.
JUDITH: Same. I think- [SFX: the pipes make a long groan] Oh no. [SFX: a deep gurgle can be heard and a thick, foul liquid starts to pour up from the sink] Oh SHIT.
OWEN: Good god, that smells terrible.
JUDITH: Yeah, I assume this is Lydia’s doing because it’s worse than raw sewage.
CLAIRE: What even IS it?
JUDITH: It’s… [SFX: there’s a thick sucking sound and then a POP, like a boot being pulled out of sticky mud] HOLY SHIT
OWEN: What the FUCK
CLAIRE: Is that an ARM?
JUDITH: What the FUCK is coming OUT of my FUCKING SINK?
[SFX: the arm whips around trying to pull whatever is attached to it out of the thick liquid that’s pouring up through the pipes, bugs also pour out. A head comes out and lets out a horrifying noise as it gasps for air. Judith runs off, comes back with a bat, and swings it at the arm]
JUDITH: GET [SFX: wham] OUT [SFX: wham] OF [SFX: wham] MY [SFX: wham] FUCKING [SFX: wham] APARTMENT [SFX: wham. The whole thing begins to withdraw into the drain again, leaving only the horrible goo behind]. FUCK. LYDIA. YOU ASSHOLE. [SFX: breathing heavily]
CLAIRE: [pause] Where’d you get the bat?
JUDITH: Canadian Tire. What? As if I wouldn’t be armed at this point. Armed with a bat but like, these assholes still have corporeal forms. Although I assumed I’d be dealing with humans, but now I have FILTH DEMONS in my KITCHEN.
OWEN: Do you think that thing is going to come back?
JUDITH: I don’t know. I don’t think it liked me fighting back though.
OWEN: I think I’m going to buy a bat on my way home.
JUDITH: Smart. Fuck, ok. Uh, so… we can’t stay here. Because I’m worried that if we do, this happens in the night and we all get killed by a ghoul made from the hair in my shower drain.
OWEN: I guess we could… go to mine in the interim?
JUDITH: Yeah, shit, god. I am NEVER getting this smell out. FUCK.
OWEN: I don’t think you’re getting your damage deposit back.
JUDITH: Cool! Great! Ok, uh, I need to clean this, is that a completely bonkers thing to say? No, I need this cleaned up. We need to leave, but… I need to at least wipe this up because if I don’t then I’ll never be able to come home and then I’ll be MORE fucked and I need it out of my SPACE.
CLAIRE: Ok, you’re starting to hyperventilate. Here, match my breathing. [exaggerated inhale and exhale, followed by a pause] What? I learned a few things while being a wellness influencer.
JUDITH: [SFX: deep breath in and out] I hate this. But I want to clean this up. Quickly. Then… let’s go to Owen’s. And hope that it doesn’t come back. I’m going to duct tape the drain shut or something once the sink empties.
CLAIRE: It really does reek.
OWEN: Well, we’ll need to get some bleach or something for these floors then. I’m going to run to the store, ok?
OWEN: [SFX: grabbing keys and wallet] If anything comes back up through the drain or through a window or whatever, just run, ok? Oh, uh, here’s your mail. Looks like they just left it on the table in the hall.
JUDITH: Thanks. Yay, more coupons I’ll never use. At least they aren’t covered in grime. [SFX: door closes] At this point it might make more sense for Lydia to burn this place to the ground and we can all start again from scratch. Goddamnit, why do I have so much mail?
CLAIRE: Weren’t you going to put up one of those “no flyers” stickers?
JUDITH: Yes, I had one up that said “NO FLYERS, PHILADELPHIA OR OTHERWISE” but it turns out my neighbour is from Pennsylvania and was pissed.
JUDITH: You’d think after all these years of me putting up with his shitty music that he’d be willing to put up with my bad hockey jokes but nooooo.
CLAIRE: Well, I guess I’ll start… wiping this stuff up.
JUDITH: Yeah. [sigh] I’m sorry, I know it’s absolutely nuts for me to want to clean this up but… I don’t know, I can’t just keep running while this stupid cult tries to destroy everything, including my stuff. Also, if I don’t get this out now, I’m pretty sure it’ll actually destroy everything.
CLAIRE: No, it’s fine. I’m going to open all the windows though. [SFX: goes to open a window]
JUDITH: Well at least this new stack of fast-food coupons is pristine. Seriously, I just want less junk mail. Oh, hang on, is that an actual envelope I see? Oh, uh…
JUDITH: This is addressed to you.
JUDITH: This is for you, clearly it was just left in the pile at some point. Lee must’ve brought it in.
CLAIRE: Uh, ok.
JUDITH: … does it feel… evil?
CLAIRE: No, it feels like paper.
JUDITH: You know what I mean.
CLAIRE: … I know this handwriting. [SFX: opens envelope]
JUDITH: Wait, it that a good-… ah. No anthrax?
CLAIRE: No, just… Wow. Okay.
JUDITH: What? [SFX: Claire hands her the letter] Wait, what?
[SFX: beep. Judith’s living room. Phone call]
OWEN: [phone] What do you mean he left a note?
JUDITH: He’s gone, Owen. Adam straight up fuckin’ left a note and BAILED.
OWEN: [phone] He didn’t even have the decency to call Claire?
JUDITH: Nope, he left a note at my door for her and then he hopped on a flight to Calgary.
OWEN: [phone] You’ve got to be shitting me.
JUDITH: I shit you not. Claire, I regret to inform you that I cannot stay in Toronto after what happened over the last several months. I know this could be seen of as “cowardly”; however, I know I won’t be of any further assistance in these matters. I’m sorry. I wish you all the best. Please do not contact me.
OWEN: [phone] [sigh] I… like… I get it? But also seriously, fucking hell, man.
JUDITH: I know, I know… I know he suffered too. I don’t BLAME him for wanting to run away, like I kind of get it, but also, the rest of us are here fighting this to the bitter end and he just bails back to Alberta and leaves us all high and dry as we… I don’t know, attempt to stop the apocalypse.
OWEN: [phone] I’m going to be honest, I’m not… entirely sad to see him go.
JUDITH: Yeah, yeah… [deep sigh] I don’t know, it just… leaves us with one less person who can help us. I mean, does he realize that if Lydia burns the earth down then it’s not like he’ll be any safer out west?
OWEN: [phone] How’d Claire react?
JUDITH: She was… fine? She tried calling but he didn’t answer. To be fair, I really don’t know how they would’ve been around each other after what happened. That relationship in any form was… tainted, to say the least.
OWEN: [phone] Yeah, no amount of couples therapy was going to fix any of those issues.
JUDITH: Wish I could just bail and hope things turn out for the best.
OWEN: [phone] Wait, why did he leave the note at your place?
JUDITH: Not like you can leave it at the house. Well, you could but the house would probably attempt to eat him or the porch would crash through his skull or something. I assume he figured out she was here, or at least that I would get it to her.
OWEN: [phone] You going to try to contact him?
OWEN: [phone] Yeah.
JUDITH: We got bigger problems on the horizon and, for now, an entire kitchen to clean.
OWEN: [phone] Yeah, about that, I took a short detour. I’ll be back soon with my steam mop.
JUDITH: Looking forward to it! By which I mean please hurry back before I cover everything in every spray cleaner I own and then Claire and I die from inhaling chlorine gas.
OWEN: [phone] Don’t do anything too destructive until I get there.
JUDITH: No promises. See you in a bit.
[SFX: beep. Judith’s kitchen]
JUDITH: Uh, guys?
JUDITH: Look at this.
OWEN: Oh… oh god. [SFX: gross poking noise, like you’re poking wet uncooked haggis with a stick]
CLAIRE: Are they dead?
JUDITH: Well, I wanted to make sure, so they’ve had so much bleach poured on them that there’s no way they’re still alive.
OWEN: Is this what you guys dealt with before?
CLAIRE: What is surrounding them?
JUDITH: It looks like the centipedes were in some sort of… thin… fleshy sack?
CLAIRE: Oh GROSS.
OWEN: You have to burn this place down now. There’s no other option. [SFX: there’s a skittering noise of one centipede trying to run away, Judith stomps on it]
JUDITH: FUCK. I guess because I stopped the figure coming out of the sink that this… bug sack didn’t deploy.
OWEN: Don’t say “bug sack”.
CLAIRE: This is new, even to me.
JUDITH: You don’t know what this is?
OWEN: That’s bad.
JUDITH: That’s real bad, I think.
CLAIRE: Yeah. We need to finish up and get out. Come on.
[SFX: glitch beep. ?????]
TABITHA: I was there. I have insight.
LYDIA: Are you loyal?
TABITHA: You trusted me when we were young.
LYDIA: Why do you want this?
TABITHA: Because I want to see them burn.
[SFX: beep. Owen’s living room. Judith walks in]
JUDITH: Hello Owen’s couch, we meet again. Hey Claire, if you need any shampoo or anything, I left mine in the shower. I also got you a towel from the linen closet. Absolutely shocking to find a place in this city with more than one closet. … What are you doing?
CLAIRE: [SFX: writing] Shh.Sorry, just need to get this down. [SFX: keeps writing]
JUDITH: Should I come back later?
CLAIRE: No, it’s fine. What’s up?
JUDITH: What’s this? You take up journaling?
CLAIRE: [sigh] No, I’m trying to… make sure I remember everything.
JUDITH: Everything about…
CLAIRE: Everything I saw and heard while I was… trapped. I… learned things. But it’s challenging, trying to access those memories, and I want to get everything down before it… I don’t know, slips away.
JUDITH: Whatever you vaguely remember is probably more useful than anything we know at this point. I feel like Owen and I have hit a wall. [SFX: pulls out a chair, sits down] Ok, couple of questions, maybe you can help. Then you can shower, because – and I say this with love – you smell like a dumpster in mid-July.
JUDITH: Lydia’s got this power from Moloch right now.
JUDITH: So… is Minnie still… in there? In her? Or in the house? Or like… what’s the deal?
CLAIRE: [sigh] To be honest, I’m not even entirely sure.
JUDITH: Is she… gone?
CLAIRE: In general? Or from me?
JUDITH: I guess both? I’m sorry, I don’t know how to talk about this.
CLAIRE: How would anyone ever talk about this, Jude? [sighs] She’s gone, from… me at least, but I feel her… echo. I think I always will. When someone… something… inhabits you like that, it leaves traces. She seeped into my memories, my dreams, and lodged herself in there. I don’t know how to describe it, it’s… indelible. I am… trying to reinhabit a body that no longer feels like it belongs me. I keep staring at my hands and purposefully curling them into fists and I still find it hard to believe that it’s actually me doing this. That it’s not just some coincidence. That… they’re mine again. I’m mine again. So yeah, she’s gone, as far as I can tell. But I feel stained by her in everypart of me. And now we’re stuck with Lydia, a half-assed mess of power and voices and demonic rage thanks to her messing with the ceremony. I worry about her ability to… control things.
JUDITH: [sighs] I feel like she’s going to show up and burn us alive tomorrow, isn’t she?
JUDITH: That is way more definitive than I was expecting.
CLAIRE: They won’t. Not yet, anyway.
JUDITH: … is this one of these things where, because we’ve all been touched by the nightmare, we’re better saved for some more powerful thing at the end where we’re slowly flayed alive and Lydia bathes in our blood like some sort of Millennial Countess Bathory?
CLAIRE: Not in so many words, but… yes.
JUDITH: Super cool.
CLAIRE: I do have one other thought.
JUDITH: … and that is?
CLAIRE: Lydia’s got to move fast. She doesn’t have a lot of time to finish the ritual, especially once it starts, because she’s full of a power that will literally burn through her if she waits too long, leaving her a pile of ash and broken promises.
JUDITH: So… could we just find a way to delay her?
CLAIRE: Technically yes, but we’d have to find her first. If I were her, I’d stay out of our line of site because it’s not worth the risk.
CLAIRE: She’s got to get a lot done very quickly and, truth be told, she’d know that we can’t stop her easily, so the smartest thing to do would be to just… avoid us for now and keep her eye on the prize.
JUDITH: Because I guess if she moves quickly and stays out of sight, there’s not much we can do. Shit. She doesn’t need to come after us because she knows we’ll have to come after her.
CLAIRE: Lydia is… I don’t know.
JUDITH: Jealous. Vindictive. A hater of cilantro. She’s probably so full of rage at this point that she’d put my head on a pike if she could. Actually, no, she’d put Owen’s head on a pike and then slam it against my living room window. [shudders] Ok, not thinking about that.
CLAIRE: We need to stick together. Once Owen’s back and we’ve cleaned up, we need to figure out a plan.
JUDITH: I think I’m going to have to book time off work, aren’t I?
CLAIRE: Got any vacation days left?
JUDITH: Yep. God, what a waste.
CLAIRE: If we survive this, definitely take a sick day. We’re going to a spa.
JUDITH: I don’t know how I feel about spas right now. Eucalyptus kind of sets me off lately. Can we just get our nails done?
JUDITH: Excellent. [sigh] So… explain this to me again, what is next?
CLAIRE: The hecatomb.
JUDITH: Yes. Wait… I know that. Some guy explained that to me, it’s… bad. It’s very bad, right? I remember it being bad.
CLAIRE: It’s the term for the 100 deaths it will take to break the seal, to open the door. Take the blood of 100 bodies, each will cause another crack in the stone that surrounds this reality, a breaking of the walls that hold Moloch in the dark, the deep, the unforgiving chains that bind the one true master that will not spare a soul who does not speak his name.
JUDITH: … ok, great. That’s a lot of people. How the fuck is she going to do that?
CLAIRE: There’s… a surprising number of people ready to do some wild shit to bring about the end times.
JUDITH: Still, 100?
CLAIRE: I don’t know exactly what her plan is. I know what my plan was, but… like I said she’s arrogant. She won’t want to do things the way I did.
JUDITH: … what was your plan?
CLAIRE: [deep sigh] Supporters would come to the house. We’d kill them there. Burn the bodies. Livestream the whole thing to subscribers.
CLAIRE: Ok, I’m kidding about the livestream. Sort of. But yeah, that was basically how we were going to do it. Now… I don’t know. Everything’s going to be up in the air because Lydia is not me and not all the people who were loyal to me, whoever I was, will be loyal to her.
JUDITH: God, Claire, there’s just… so much I want to ask about what the hell went down over the last couple of months. I know you probably don’t want to, but fuck, I have so many questions. And there’s just so much I want to tell you.
CLAIRE: Let’s talk about those things later, ok? For now, let’s focus on this.
JUDITH: Ok, ok, uh… what are our options?
CLAIRE: First option, but the most difficult one, is to find a way to stop Lydia before she can get too far into her plans. She’s not going to stay in one place and she’ll keep her head down for as long as she can, so that’ll be… tough. We can either try to face her head on or try and convince someone tied to the Family to stop her.
JUDITH: Somehow that feels like a worse idea.I also don’t think our short-lived dalliance will be enough for me to use the power of love to pull her away from the dark side.
CLAIRE: She is going to have to find us at some point. I know she will. There’s too much untapped power there, and she is… reckless. Jude?
CLAIRE: I know this is a big ask, but there might be times where I ask you to do things and I’ll need you to do them, no questions asked. I’m really going to need you to trust me.
JUDITH: I do. I do. I’m… I don’t know. I just feel kind of jittery lately.
CLAIRE: I’ve noticed.
JUDITH: It’s not you.
CLAIRE: It is. Of course it is.
JUDITH: It’s not.
CLAIRE: Can I see the cut on your arm?
CLAIRE: Just let me see it.
JUDITH: … ok. [SFX: holds out arm, Claire takes it gently]
CLAIRE: You trust me enough to let me look at what Adam did to you, but you’re still tense.
JUDITH: Can you blame me?
CLAIRE: I try to separate myself from the person who did these things, but… it’s in my bones, Jude. It feels… like when you wake up at 3 AM in a cold sweat, panicking about something you can’t quite make out in the dark. But that’s how I feel all the time lately.
JUDITH: I know. I’m sorry, Claire.
CLAIRE: I… ok, I don’t want to talk about this anymore, at least for the next like, 20 minutes. I think I hear Owen at the door. [SFX: door unlocks, Owen enters]
OWEN: I’m back, and I brought a lot of supplies and also a whole bunch of apples.
OWEN: An apple a day keeps the demons at bay.
JUDITH: Claire, do you want anything? [SFX: digs around in shopping bag] What is this, some sort of candy spray foam?
OWEN: It intrigued me.
CLAIRE: I’m fine. I’m going to shower. [SFX: she gets up] Is this towel for me?
OWEN: Oh, the cold tap is weird, you have to jiggle it.
CLAIRE: I think after this afternoon, I’m just going to crank the hot water on full and steam my pores inside out.
JUDITH: Solid choice. [SFX: Claire leaves the room]
OWEN: Things ok?
JUDITH: Yeah? No? I don’t know. [puts head in hands] I don’t fucking know how to deal with this.
OWEN: As if anyone would.
JUDITH: I know, but I just want to help. I want to help Claire feel better and I know we’re barely out of the previous nightmare and are diving face first into this new one, but still.
OWEN: I’m sorry, dude.
JUDITH: Thanks. Also, I can’t believe I’m using my vacation time for this. This is not vacation. This should be stress leave.
OWEN: Same. I just don’t want to explain why I need stress leave. Like I wouldn’t want to in general but I really don’t know how to parse this one. I don’t think it would go well.
JUDITH: Imagine if you went to HR and told them and they were like, “Wow, really? Ok, take as much time as you need, I totally believe you”?
OWEN: Yeah, right?
JUDITH: Maybe Scott from HR is just secretly a student of esoteric wisdom.
OWEN: Scott only knows references from The Office and that’s about it.
JUDITH: Maybe he has a deep inner life.
OWEN: No, a few of us went out for beers a couple years ago and he told me that he didn’t own any books. That’s a red flag.
JUDITH: Ok, yeah. Hey, if nothing else, I’m crushing my “read as many books as possible this year” goal, although I don’t want to be reading any of these books. They’re all either dry academic texts or they’re like, “FORSOOTH and for the blood of the wretched shalt be POURED onto the bricks of the FORSAKEN and the EYEBALLS OF THE DAMNED shall be EATEN BY DEMON RATS.”
OWEN: “Henceforth, the fire shall MURDERETH all, for whence we shalt all BURN IN THE HELLSCAPE and WRECKETH all thy SHIT.”
JUDITH: Dost thou bleed? ALAS.
OWEN: THE WICKED WILL PERISH!
JUDITH: AND THE SICK GUITAR RIFFS OF THE DEADLY MOTHER WILL RING OUT LIKE SCREAMS OF THE DAMNED. After this I’m going to read only romance novels.
OWEN: Dost thou fear the sounds in the night?
JUDITH: The sounds in the day?
OWEN: The figure in the window?
JUDITH: The knocking of a bony finger on your walls? [SFX: there is the sound of a fingernail scratching on the door] Shh.
JUDITH: Do you hear that? Stay quiet.
[SFX: the scratching stops. Everyone holds their breath. And then a knock, gentle. Then a shave and a haircut, two bits. Pause. Then sudden, aggressive pounding and kicking on the door, like they’re trying to break it down]
NEIGHBOUR: [SFX: out in the hallway] Hey! Hey! What are you doing?! [SFX: the person banging on the door starts giggling and then runs away down the hall. The person goes and knocks on Owen’s door] Hey, hello? You ok in there?
OWEN: Uh, yeah, are they gone?
NEIGHBOUR: Yeah, you want me to call the cops or something?
OWEN: No, uh, it’s ok.
NEIGHBOUR: You sure?
OWEN: Yep, it’s fine, we’re fine. Don’t know what that was about.
NEIGHBOUR: Ok. If you need anything, I’m just in 204.
OWEN: Thanks.Holy shit.
JUDITH: We’re not safe anywhere, Owen.
JUDITH: I’ll go get Claire- [SFX: the fingernail scratching noise starts again, but this time from the floor above them, like someone in the upstairs apartment is scratching at the floor] Do you know your upstairs neighbour?
OWEN: Some guy, I’ve never met him, just seen him heading up the stairs. Lives alone. [SFX: there are two sets of footsteps above them]
JUDITH: If that’s him, he has a guest. [SFX: there’s a pause, and then the sound of a body hitting the floor upstairs. Silence, and then the scratching starts again. There’s a quiet, muffled laugh]
OWEN: Someone’s enjoying themselves. [SFX: several heavy STOMPS on the ceiling]
JUDITH: Owen, we have to go.
JUDITH: I don’t know, but we can’t stay here. Fuck.
OWEN: Start packing up.
CLAIRE: [SFX: comes out into the hall] What the fuck is going on?
OWEN: Claire, we gotta go.
JUDITH: We got company. Real bad company.
CLAIRE: Fuck, these fucking MINIONS. [louder] Really? Lydia has you doing her grunt work? [SFX: static] You’re supposed to serve the master, not some egotistical little girl. Do you not have any DIGNITY?
JUDITH: Maybe don’t antagonize them, Claire!
CLAIRE: Oh, I highly doubt they have the authority to kill us.
JUDITH: I don’t want to bet on that. Get dressed and pack your bag. If the coast is clear, we leave. We get in that car and we drive until we figure out our next step. [SFX: a stomp from above] Before they come through the ceiling straight onto us.
CLAIRE: I know where we can go.
CLAIRE: It’s not a place any of us are going to like.
OWEN: … no, no you can’t be serious.
[SFX: beep. In the car, they pull up outside the house]
OWEN: We can’t stay here.
CLAIRE: We’re running low on options, and this has… some protections.
OWEN: What, fire-damaged walls and ruined floors? [SFX: they get out of the car, grab their backpacks, and head up the walk]
JUDITH: I know, I know, but like, I don’t know where else we can go right now other than a hotel – where we’re not going to be safe anyway – so we can at least camp here for a few hours, figure out our plan, and go from there. And maybe Claire’s right, we know this place is covered [SFX: opens door, walks in] in maybe some sort of protective ward-…
OWEN: What the…
JUDITH: Did you… reno things when I wasn’t looking? In the last… couple of days?
CLAIRE: This place burned. This place was ruined.
JUDITH: How is everything fine? How is it back to normal? [SFX: Claire starts quickly walking towards the basement door, Judith runs her hand along the wall] Claire, whoa, you can’t go downstairs, it’s fucked down there.
CLAIRE: Well, I need to make sure it is now! [SFX: they all head downstairs] Holy shit.
JUDITH: Holy shit. [SFX: the cautiously go downstairs, the room is big and quiet and empty]
OWEN: Holy shit, how is it like this? We were here. We all saw it burn.
JUDITH: It’s like nothing ever happened. Not even a scorch mark. Did… did we hallucinate the fire?
CLAIRE: No, no, it happened. There used to be rooms here. Where are the rooms? It’s…
JUDITH: A just a big empty space. I have to be honest, I’m kind of glad those rooms are gone. [rubs wrists absentmindedly] No love lost there. But… I mean, while I’m into the open concept plan but… Claire, what the fuck is going on?
CLAIRE: I… I think I know? But… I don’t know.
JUDITH: What is it?
CLAIRE: [SFX: walking around slowly] The memory is fuzzy at the edges. [SFX: she touches the concrete brick wall] The writing…
JUDITH: It’s etched into the walls. It carved in.
CLAIRE: It’s a part of the house. It’s what holds it together.
JUDITH: It really is the writing on the walls.
CLAIRE: This is bigger than us. The house… it needs us, but it doesn’t.
JUDITH: What does that mean?
CLAIRE: It is its own entity. We are merely the caretakers. We just exist inside of it. It doesn’t care about protecting us, but it will always protect itself. It lives on, heals, grows around us. Changes everything that enters. The walls are filled with blood and the walls bleed.
JUDITH: So what does that mean?
CLAIRE: I… I don’t know. It’s just… a memory.
JUDITH: … cool. This place feels… different.
CLAIRE: In what way?
JUDITH: It’s like… walking into an empty airport terminal. It doesn’t feel dangerous but it feels wrong.
CLAIRE: This is its center.
JUDITH: We’re trespassing. [SFX: from upstairs, a door slams hard]
CLAIRE: I think that’s an agreement.
OWEN: Uh, guys?
OWEN: It’s not totally empty down here.
CLAIRE: What-… oh.
JUDITH: Do… you want to pick it up? I’ve had bad luck in the past.
CLAIRE: [SFX: walks over, picks up a card] It’s… a card. Thinking of you in this trying time.
JUDITH: What does it say on the inside?
CLAIRE: It says Thanks so much. I’m finally where I want to be. See you soon. Lydia. [SFX: the card bursts into flames and burns away quickly into ash] Ouch. God, she’s always so fucking dramatic.
OWEN: Can we go back upstairs?
CLAIRE: Yeah, let’s go.
[SFX: beep. Living room, a piece of wallpaper is being gently pulled back from the wall]
OWEN: I mean, you were right. Everywhere, writing. Writing, writing, sigil, writing… possibly in blood.
CLAIRE: It’s blood.
CLAIRE: Some. But the house thirsted and drank long before my birth.
JUDITH: God, you talk weird now. Ok, well what does it all mean then?
CLAIRE: I don’t know exactly but… the house keeps itself safe. It can be destructive and terrifying, but it wants to survive. We could die tomorrow, and it wouldn’t matter, as long as someone stood to take our place and give the house what it needs to preserve its… power. But I am its caretaker and I hold its power as well. These walls are as much mine as anyone’s. As long as I claim it, the house’s power is mine as well. So… we can hide here. There’s… protection.
JUDITH: Great. So it’s a spooky place of power that’s fortified with incantations and sigils scrawled in human blood, some of it yours, etched deep into the walls. Very cool. What does that mean for us?
CLAIRE: I don’t think you’ll like it.
JUDITH: Try me.
OWEN: … we’re crashing here for now, aren’t we?
CLAIRE: [sigh] It’s our best bet.
OWEN: Can’t we get a hotel? I’m sure there’s space at the Gladstone.
CLAIRE: Would you feel more protected there?
OWEN: No, but that’s beside the point.
CLAIRE: I think… we should set up here as a home base to figure out how we’re going to stop Lydia.
OWEN: Are you sure this is safe?
CLAIRE: Is anywhere?
JUDITH: I don’t know man, there’s nowhere left to go. What other choice do we have?
[SFX: beep. Spare bedroom]
OWEN: [SFX: he drops his bag on the floor] So uh… roommates?
JUDITH: If it helps, think of it as like… a sleepover.
OWEN: I think the last time I went to an actual sleepover I was… 8?
JUDITH: How was it?
OWEN: Fine? My friend Eric tried to chug an entire 2L bottle of cola and ended up barfing everywhere.
OWEN: I never did get those stains out of my pyjamas. They were my favourite.
JUDITH: Well, bust out your new favourite PJs because this is the only place where we have any sort of safety. Plus, the TTC is completely ass lately with all the construction, so hopefully that at least delays them a little bit if Lydia or Tabitha or whoever is on their way here to skin us.
OWEN: Could you imagine if the thing that saves us is a subway delay?
JUDITH: The plan for world domination was going so well until they shut down 8 stations on the Yonge line all weekend!
OWEN: Where are you sleeping?
JUDITH: Claire and I are crashing in the room across the hall.
OWEN: No one in the main bedroom?
JUDITH: I mean, you can have it if you want but… Claire doesn’t want to stay in there because of… memories of the last few months, and I’m certainly not feeling the vibe. But uh, here, I brought you a quilt.
OWEN: Who does this belong to?
JUDITH: Me. I left it here before… y’know… the possession.
OWEN: Is it made out of… t-shirts?
JUDITH: I have hobbies. You should see what I can do with some rope.
OWEN: Ah. Anyway, thanks for the quilt, I’ll try not to sweat too much on it.
JUDITH: Much appreciated. I’m going to make dinner. Claire’s pulling books off the shelves to find anything that might be of use, so would you be able to go give her a hand?
OWEN: Sure, I guess.
JUDITH: [sigh] Look, I know things are weird and difficult but… we have to work together. Safety in numbers.
OWEN: How many are we up against?
JUDITH: No idea. More than three. But talk to her. Ask her about what she knows. We all need to be on the same page or else…
OWEN: Or else what?
JUDITH: Or else we’re screwed. And if one of us burns, all of us burn.
[SFX: glitch beep. ??????]
LYDIA: It’s hot. I’m hot. I’m so hot, I want to tear my skin off. Come here.
TABITHA: What can I do?
LYDIA: Share in this power with me. Take this heat. Serve, and be rewarded.
[SFX: beep. Kitchen]
JUDITH: Can you pass me the salt?
JUDITH: Alright, I think this is done.
CLAIRE: Did you get better at cooking?
JUDITH: Yeah, a little? I wasn’t going out as much over the last few months and making dinner at night was a nice little escape from the constant panic.
CLAIRE: Well, at least something good came out of it. Although next time, I do want to get pizza from Cici’s. I miss that place.
JUDITH: Yeah. I learned how to make a really nice cheesecake in a water bath, and I finally mastered making a good chicken stock. I know that’s not a complicated thing but I finally make one that’s exactly what I think about when I think of “chicken noodle soup.”
JUDITH: Can I make it for you some time? You come around here often?
CLAIRE: Don’t you start.
JUDITH: Come on baby, I just want to make you some soup!
CLAIRE: You know I’m a stew lady.
JUDITH: Then I’ll make you an amazing base to work from.
CLAIRE: I missed your tenacity.
JUDITH: Well there’s more where that came from- [SFX: she’s cut off by this horrible scratching noise from the basement] what the fuck was that?
CLAIRE: Did that come from downstairs?
OWEN: [SFX: runs in] Did you hear that?
JUDITH: Yeah. I’d say pipes but that’s a cursed idea at this point.
OWEN: Could it- [SFX: the same sound again, from downstairs]
CLAIRE: We have to go check.
OWEN: Do we?
OWEN: Fuck, ok. But I’m taking this BBQ fork.
CLAIRE: Give me that knife.
JUDITH: No, no it’s cool, I got it, you just stay close to me.
CLAIRE: Ok. Come on. [SFX: they walk over to the basement door, open it slowly. It’s silent down there. They slowly and quietly creep down the stairs]
OWEN: [whispered] Do you see anything?
JUDITH: [whispered] Nothing yet. It’s… still empty. Uh, oh. Oh my god.
OWEN: It’s not just me, right? There weren’t two big gouges in the wall when we were down here earlier?
CLAIRE: She’s begun.
OWEN: The hecatomb?
OWEN: What are these gouges then?
CLAIRE: The house… is keeping score, I guess.
JUDITH: Of what?
CLAIRE: The house is in tune with the ritual. It knows what’s happening. For every death, a mark. And when the final one is etched on the walls, they will crumble into the fire below. The earth shall split its foundation and all within it.
JUDITH: That’s fucked.
OWEN: That’s real fucked.
JUDITH: This house is lined with blood and will be soaked in it. Can we trust being here?
CLAIRE: This place knows what it needs to know. It watches. And it sees.
OWEN: We can’t stay here.
CLAIRE: The house is mine. No one can come in unless I let them. This is our only real tool, Owen. It’s our only real protection. It’s our only source of clues of how far along Lydia is. And three of us can’t sleep in a car while we figure this out.We can’t keep running. We have to stop running and start fighting. The clock starts now.
OWEN: In this… what even is this place now?
JUDITH: It’s a fucking tomb.
CLAIRE: It’s a home.