27: Small Hours

SMALL HOURS: The very early morning, just after midnight, when most people are asleep. SPA MENU: Manicure - $58 40-Minute Massage - $150 Full Body Soak and Scrub - $189 Full Body Immolation - Complimentary The Fires of Moloch Burning Away the Sin Within Your Flesh - +$50 (weekends only) I just want to say here that I think we're the first podcast to include a cursed ONroute (for the non-Ontarians in the audience, this is the name of the highway rest areas with restaurants and whatnot), so make a quick run in to get a bagel for the road and grab me a coffee, because we got a long drive ahead of us deep into the endless dark.
CONTENT WARNINGS: The occult, physical violence, possession, fire, ghosts, death (mentioned)

SMALL HOURS: The very early morning, just after midnight, when most people are asleep.

[SFX: glitch beep. ?????????]

LYDIA: Thanks for tuning in. If you’re seeing this, you know that it’s time. We are so close. So close! Come to Valerian. If you believe, if you are a true part of this Family, you will be there. Let us make a move to end this. Show your strength. Show your loyalty. Be a part of this or be left behind. I’ll see you soon.

[SFX: beep. Claire’s living room]

CLAIRE: Looks like she uploaded this and likely sent it out as a private link to people.

JUDITH: Wow, she looks… off.

CLAIRE: She’s very sweaty.

JUDITH: She’s… blotchy, I don’t know how to describe it. Like she’s got a weird rash. But it’s all mirrored on her face.

CLAIRE: That’s not a rash. That’s heat. It’s consuming her like tinder from the inside out.

JUDITH: Oh jeez. Does… that mean that she’s getting stronger?

CLAIRE: In a sense.

JUDITH: I mean, I’m glad you got back into your old YouTube account, but I don’t like what this means. I just wish we’d found more.

CLAIRE: We have to go to Valerian.

JUDITH: I really was hoping you wouldn’t say that. I didn’t have a good experience last time.

CLAIRE: We actually know where she’ll be can get to her. I know it’s incredibly risky, but this is our best chance before it gets to be too late. She’s planning something big, Jude.

JUDITH: Like big big or like BIG big?


JUDITH: This just feels like we’re signing our own death warrants.

CLAIRE: Jude, every choice is a terrible one right now. We’re in crunch time. There’s nothing we can do from a distance, and if we keep waiting then she’s only going to get stronger and meaner and weirder.

JUDITH: Stronger, Meaner, and Weirder is going to be the title of the memoir I write after all this is done.

CLAIRE: Only if I can write the introduction.


CLAIRE: This is the first time we’ve had a good lead on where she is. We have to try. This might be our best chance.

JUDITH: What’s all this then? You’ve got… maps all over the table. You know you can just put a. pin down on google maps, right?

CLAIRE: This is easier, I can draw on it. I’m trying to figure out where Lydia will do the final sacrifice.

JUDITH: That’s a thing?

CLAIRE: Yeah, she’ll likely want to pick a place that has some sort of significance to the cult. But… there’s several. I’m just working through theories right now. But the important thing is that if we can stop her now, then this shit doesn’t matter. So… we have to try.

JUDITH: Ok. Ok. Yeah. Ok. Fuck. Owen?

OWEN: [yelling from upstairs] Yeah?

JUDITH: Can you come here? We got news.

[SFX: beep. Living room. They’re packing stuff up into backpacks]

CLAIRE: Do you know how to get out there?

OWEN: Oh yeah.

JUDITH: And if we get lost, the bone bruise on my leg will help us. It’ll get more painful the closer we get.

OWEN: Ha ha. What do we need?

CLAIRE: The knives are our best bet, we should probably also grab that bat just in case, I have some jars of oils that will either harm her or set her on fire or maybe just make her smell like a health food store, who knows. I also grabbed a change of clothes.


CLAIRE: You don’t know what will happen out there. But we need to move. The most important thing is that we cut her off before she gets settled at Valerian. Once she’s inside, it’ll be harder to get to her without others being around and stopping us first.

OWEN: And you’re sure this isn’t just going to get us killed?

CLAIRE: Literally everything at this point might get us killed. I’m ready to strike. And if we end this now, it’ll save… a lot of lives.

JUDITH: Can’t we just call in a bomb threat or something? Clear the place out?

CLAIRE: You know that’ll just end up with us getting arrested. Plus, the faithful will stay. This isn’t about them fearing death. This is about them welcoming it.

OWEN: What about regular guests?

CLAIRE: I don’t know. I hope that she’ll just… ignore them. Or maybe we can make them flee somehow.

JUDITH: That place might be FULL of people, we can at least pull a fire alarm and get them out if we get the chance.

CLAIRE: Listen, I know this is dangerous, but… we  to try. We have so few shots at stopping her. We have to take this one.

OWEN: Ok. Jude?


OWEN: Let’s do this.

[SFX: beep. Car heading down the highway]

JUDITH: Owen, deer, deer!

OWEN: Shit [SFX: swerves, Claire spills a drink on herself]


JUDITH: Was that your iced coffee?

CLAIRE: It was. And now it’s soaking into my lap.

OWEN: Sorry, didn’t want to put a deer through the windshield.

CLAIRE: It’s fine, not your fault. I’ll just try to absorb the caffeine through osmosis.

OWEN: There’s a rest stop up about 5 km from here, we’ll stop quickly and you can at least change your pants.

CLAIRE: See? Told you it was a good idea to bring a change of clothes. You never know what’s going to happen.

JUDITH: If we’re stopping then I’m getting all of us fries.What? If I’m on the way to my doom, I want my last snack to be a good one. I’m getting fries. You can’t stop me.

[SFX: beep. Owen’s sitting in the car in the parking lot. Judith comes over and gets in the car]

JUDITH: Here. [SFX: hands him fries] And your coffee. [SFX: hands him that too]

OWEN: Thank you.

JUDITH: Guess who I saw in there?

OWEN: David Cronenberg?

JUDITH: Close enough. Austin Bird.

OWEN: No. Seriously?

JUDITH: Yeah. He did not say hi.

OWEN: What’s he doing out here?

JUDITH: Who knows. I’m shocked he’d even deign to go into an OnRoute. I assumed he would’ve had someone deliver a latte to his car via drone.

OWEN: Was he by himself?

JUDITH: Looks like it.

OWEN: Oh god, did he see Claire?

JUDITH: I hope not, or else things are going to get weird real fast.

OWEN: [SFX: sips his coffee] I swear, this coffee gets worse every year.

JUDITH: Well, it’s cheap and available. 

OWEN: Hey, that’s also my bio on Hinge.

JUDITH: You still trying to date during this? Am I the only one who’s given up on romantic companionship?

OWEN: I mean, not right now. I don’t know how I’d explain to someone that I’m not here for anything too long term, mostly because we’re probably all going to die soon.

JUDITH: I’ve heard worse pickup lines.

OWEN: What’s the worst you’ve heard?

JUDITH: Once, I had a guy come up to me in a bar and he told me that I looked like I smelled like fresh laundry, and then asked if he could test his hypothesis.

OWEN: That’s… a choice.

JUDITH: Yes, a bad one. 

OWEN: Is Claire still in the bathroom?

JUDITH: Yeah, there was quite a lineup. What a weird last meal. I mean, not the worst. And hopefully not the last. But still.

OWEN: What am I supposed to do at this point, care about my cholesterol? 

JUDITH: Feels like there’s no point in caring about anything right now.

OWEN: … have you talked to your parents?

JUDITH: I’ve been calling them but it just feels weird. Like I’m lying to them. Probably because I kind of am.

OWEN: Yeah, I’m… panicking every time. Like, I want to warn them. I want to keep them safe and tell them to run and hide somewhere, but… I don’t think there will be anywhere to escape to.

JUDITH: No.No there won’t be.

OWEN: My brother called. I just… let him talk and kept telling him that work was busy and I was stressed, but I think he knows something else is up. Obviously not this, but still.

JUDITH: My sister is still like, nothing but wedding talk. Normally I feel like it would get annoying, but it’s been kind of nice to talk about something that feels… simple.

OWEN: Yeah. Are you a bridesmaid?

JUDITH: Supposed to be. I was able to convince her to have the dresses be in navy, not mustard, as she was originally planning.

OWEN: Good call.

JUDITH: They were real ugly. Come on, Claire, we gotta get on the road. [SFX: there is the sound of fingernails tapping along the roof of the car]

OWEN: Did you hear th-


[SFX: silence, then the tapping again, then the sound of nails being dragged along the top. Then a hand SLAMS onto the hood of the car. There is a man standing outside the car beside them]

MAN: Hey there! [SFX: they don’t respond] Just saw you two sitting in the car. Thought I’d come say hi. [SFX: the door locks] Care to roll down the window? No? Ok. Just think that it’s not a good idea for you guys to be out here. Driving in the dark is dangerous and you both look real tired. It’s not safe out here if you don’t know what you’re doing.You want to get out of the car and have a chat? 

OWEN: We’re good, thanks.

MAN: Owen, is it? That’s funny, I was told you were a lot smaller. You look like you could hold your own.

OWEN: Fuck off, man.

MAN: I don’t think she could, though.

OWEN: I said fuck off.

MAN: Alright, I can tell when I’m not wanted. Have a good evening.

OWEN: Where the fuck is Claire?

JUDITH: It was so stupid of us to think that they wouldn’t be watching our every move, shit. It’s not going to be any safer on the road now either now, fuck. Let’s get the bags, go in, get Claire, and reassess. We might need to figure something else out.

OWEN: Right.

[SFX: beep. In the OnRoute]

CLAIRE: Now what?

JUDITH: I don’t know. I don’t see that guy anywhere but there’s no way someone isn’t watching the car.

OWEN: Do we go back to the house?

JUDITH: I don’t know. That might be our only option.

CLAIRE: No, we can’t turn back now. This is a chance for us to end this.

JUDITH: Claire, even if we don’t get our throats cut on the side of the highway, she’d definitely get that guy to run us off the road at the very least and leave us stranded in a ditch.

CLAIRE: Lydia’s trying to scare us off. She’s hoping this will frighten us and we’ll turn back. She’s trying something in a place of power. If she succeeds, this will likely tip the scales fully in her favour. There’s a lot of followers there. She could do all kinds of things, from an attempt at a strengthening ritual to a mass sacrifice. We have to try to stop her, ok?

JUDITH: I really hate to admit that you’re right but…  I think you’re right. Owen, how are you feeling?

OWEN: Bad.

JUDITH: Cool. [SFX: phone ringing] Whose is that?

OWEN: Oh, uh, mine? Hello?

BIRD: [phone] Hello. I know this is odd, but please listen to me. Make your way out of the building. Be subtle. Not like… how you normally are.

OWEN: Mr. Bird?

BIRD: [phone] SHUSH. Don’t say my name again. Just pretend like you’re going to the washroom, ordering food, what have you. Then make your way to the backdoor. I’m in the black Range Rover.

OWEN: Ok, uh, why?

BIRD: [phone] I saw the interaction with the man at your car through the window. And then I saw him return to your car with a some vaguely menacing hippies. They’ve done something to your tires. And they’re watching.

OWEN: Fuck fuck fuck. Alright.

BIRD: [phone] Tell Judith the plan. And then the two of you need to come to the back.

OWEN: It’s not just Judith.

BIRD: [phone] Who else is with you?

OWEN: That’s not important right now.

BIRD: [phone] Come to the back, get in the Range Rover. Something is very wrong here.

OWEN: Yeah, you’re telling me. We’ll see you in a minute.

BIRD: [phone] Goodbye.

JUDITH: What was that?

OWEN: I think it’s time we take flight.

JUDITH: Wait, was that a pun?-

[SFX: beep. Driving in a nice car on a quiet highway]

JUDITH: So… thanks.


OWEN: You didn’t have to help us out.

BIRD: Oh, I know. I can’t say that I’m thrilled to have any of you joining me – don’t scuff the leather! – but… it was unsettling to watch that man loom around your car. While I don’t like any of you, I couldn’t sit idly by and let something… unbecoming happen.

OWEN: I knew there was a heart in there somewhere.

BIRD: Please. I simply don’t want to carry any guilt. My personal physician told me guilt is bad for blood pressure, and I plan to live for a long, long time. Which is more than I can say for the three of you, clearly.

OWEN: [goes to say something contradicting that, then thinks better of it]

CLAIRE: Yeah, this has all been-

BIRD: Ms. Sterback, it would be disingenuous of me to say that I want to hear anything from you, as our relationship is abysmal at best.

JUDITH: I mean, there’s a lot you should be filled on when it comes to that.

CLAIRE: Mr. Bird, I know you don’t want anything to do with me, and I don’t blame you for that. But I really am sorry for everything I’ve put you through. … aside from telling you to get off my porch, because that one’s on you. But everything after that, I… you may have noticed my, uh, current inability to manipulate time and space? I… yeah, that’s not a thing anymore. Because… that person… before… wasn’t really me. I… sorry, shit I’m terrible at this. I don’t know how to summarize what happened. Just… I’m sorry. And… thanks. For getting us away from those people.  

BIRD: Don’t mention it. Any of it. At all. Ever again. I do not wish to speak of it.

OWEN: Where are we going?

BIRD: My cottage. It’s not too far from here.

OWEN: Of course you have a cottage.

BIRD: I do enjoy something rustic, on occasion.

JUDITH: Do you call it “rustic” because there’s no Whole Food’s out here?

BIRD: Please. As if I don’t have my sundries delivered in advance. What am I, an animal?

JUDITH: Got anything good?

BIRD: Don’t plan on getting too comfortable. I don’t make a habit of inviting… people like you… into my home for extended periods. You can call a tow truck to bring your car, and if all else fails, there’s a utility truck on the property you can borrow to get back to your car later, once those people have likely left.

CLAIRE: Again, I’m… really sorry about what happened last time-

BIRD: I said I didn’t want to speak about it!


BIRD: Please feel free to take some offense to the fact that I haven’t forgiven you and have no plans to.

JUDITH: Ok, but that wasn’t her, that was… have you seen The Exorcist?


JUDITH: Really?

BIRD: My tolerance for horror has always been low.

JUDITH: Well, the person you interacted with wasn’t technically Claire, not the real Claire.

BIRD: Fine. Whatever you need to tell yourself.

JUDITH: No, it’s… never mind.

BIRD: A possession? A ghoul? A spirit manifested by an esoteric cult focusing on the end of the world, pushing for its leader to be reborn in a new body so that they can accelerate the final actions, leading to the destruction of our lives as we know them?

OWEN: Yes?

JUDITH: How do you know that?

BIRD: What, like I don’t know how to read? After our… altercation, I reached out to a scholar friend of mine who’s an antiquarian. He’s got a wide knowledge of… unsettling arcane dealings and histories, particularly in Canada.

CLAIRE: Is he available to chat?

BIRD: Unfortunately no, he recently went off grid, took off to the Faroe Islands. Seemed pretty jumpy after I spoke to him about what I’d experienced. Seeing as you are all back in my life, I assume he was right to fly off into the wilds. But this bird doesn’t fly away, not anymore.

OWEN: Does that mean… you want to fight?

BIRD: No, I want to nest and stay safe. Also, have you tried actually flying lately?

OWEN: Uh, no, can’t say I have.

BIRD: A nightmare. Absolute hell trying to get a business class seat.

JUDITH: I honestly can’t tell if you’re unsure as to what socioeconomic class we all exist in.

BIRD: Oh, I’m well aware. Sometimes I like to remind the plebians of how the better half-lives. Speaking of, we are getting close to my camp.

JUDITH: Alright. Thank you. Claire, you ok?

CLAIRE: There’s just a pit in my stomach right now. We’re losing time.

JUDITH: Same. Hey, wait a second.


JUDITH: Bird, you called it a camp.

BIRD: Cottage, my mistake.

JUDITH: Are you from Northern Ontario?

BIRD: I have quite a cosmopolitan background-

JUDITH: Are you from North Bay?


JUDITH: Sault Ste. Marie? Sudbury? Iroquois Falls? Kirkland Lake? Kapuskasing? French River? Mattawa? Moosonee? Manitoulin? Chapleau?

BIRD: Enough!

JUDITH: Are you from Wawa?

BIRD: Timmins! I was born in Timmins.

JUDITH: I knew it.

BIRD: And if you don’t stop bothering me, you’ll be hitchhiking your way back to Toronto.

OWEN: … can we listen to the radio?

BIRD: … yes.

[SFX: beep. Entering the cottage]

OWEN: Whoa.

CLAIRE: This place is fancy.

OWEN: You really aren’t one for roughing it, huh?

BIRD: I mean, I wasn’t able to get the rainfall showerhead I wanted for the en suite, so-

OWEN: So that’s a no.

BIRD: I have no interest in being uncomfortable.

JUDITH: Uh, yeah, so it’s getting pretty late.

BIRD: Yes, I know.I don’t know why I picked you up, this is only going to delay the start of my very relaxing weekend, and… I don’t even like you, any of you.

OWEN: Even me?

BIRD: Jury is out, but I am not a cruel man.

JUDITH: Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but you did recently get busted for strategically evicting low-income tenants.

BIRD: That’s just business.

JUDITH: … I’m just going to shut my mouth lest I be cast out into the woods.

BIRD: Oh, a smart decision, how novel.

JUDITH: Ugh. Where’s your bathroom?

BIRD: Down the hall, 3rd door on the left. [SFX: she walks away] So why exactly are you out here being harassed by lowlifes?

OWEN: We, uh… there’s this resort, and… Claire, help me here, is there a concise way to explain this?

CLAIRE: As you seem to be somewhat aware, there is an esoteric death cult trying to bring about the rebirth of their demonic god of fire, and we’re trying to stop it. [SFX: a window opens somewhere in the house]

BIRD: … at an OnRoute?

CLAIRE: No, we just had a minor mishap, us stopping there is unrelated.

BIRD: Right. So, where then, exactly?

CLAIRE: Valerian Spa and Resort? [SFX: a floor creak above them, somewhere]

BIRD: That’s absurd. That place is just… a fancy getaway. I went there with my ex-wife a few times. It’s not evil, just overpriced.

CLAIRE: It can be two things. Well, not everything there is evil, some people just show up for massages and microdermabrasion, which is admittedly quite good, but Valerian is also a hub for the aforementioned esoteric death cult.

BIRD: I want to say that this is completely bizarre and unbelievable, but…

CLAIRE: Doesn’t feel so unbelievable lately, huh?

BIRD: No. Maybe that’s why I picked you three up.

OWEN: Huh?

BIRD: I want to know what’s going on.

CLAIRE: There’s a lot to explain.

BIRD: Who was that man you killed?

OWEN: Careful.

CLAIRE: It’s fine, Owen. He was a follower of the cult who challenged the leadership.

BIRD: Were you the leader?

CLAIRE: Yes and no.

BIRD: Right. I think I need a drink. Owen, could you please grab a bottle of wine from the fridge? It’s down the hall, 5th door on the right.

OWEN: Uh, sure. Any preference?

BIRD: Something… dry.

OWEN: I’ll see what I can scrounge up. [SFX: walks off]

BIRD: Can I ask you something-

OWEN: [from down the hall] There’s like, 100 bottles in here! Do you have a guide? I don’t really know anything about wine!

BIRD: [yelling to him] Just guess then! Can I ask you something, Ms. Sterback?

CLAIRE: Yeah. Ask away.

BIRD: Who are you?


BIRD: This, the person I’m talking to, is this who you are? I feel like I’ve met many versions of you, and this one is the most… like a real person. I know this is perhaps an uncouth question, but who are you? What are you?

CLAIRE: Oh.This… this is me. This is who I am, or at least who I’ve become.

BIRD: You definitely feel less…

CLAIRE: Aggressive?

BIRD: Terrifying.


BIRD: I can’t say I want to ever do business with you, but you seem much more even keeled right now than when we last spoke.

CLAIRE: Yeah,I guess. I’m… fine.

BIRD: Well, I wish you luck with… whatever it is you have planned. It seems unpleasant.

CLAIRE: Thanks.

OWEN: [SFX: coming back into the room] Ok, this one has a nice label, so I picked that. Some of the other ones said “skin contact” and that made me uncomfortable.

JUDITH: [SFX: coming into the room] Mr. Bird, can I ask you something?

BIRD: Perhaps.

JUDITH: Is that a D&D set-up in the office? Sorry, I looked in when I passed by and saw that you’ve got what appears to be a full table-top with miniatures?

OWEN: What?

BIRD: I would prefer if you did not snoop.

OWEN: Excuse me, I gotta see this. [SFX: heads off down the hall]

JUDITH: I think Owen’s finally won me over with D&D.

BIRD: What do you play as?

JUDITH: Tiefling cleric.

BIRD: That’s anarchic.

JUDITH: I know, right?

OWEN: [from down the hall] What are these dice made out of? Gemstones?

BIRD: Quartz. Don’t touch them! I… had some friends come visit not too long ago. Our group likes to dabble in… nerdery from time to time.

OWEN: [SFX: coming back in] That is a sick set-up.

BIRD: Thank you. Now, it’s getting quite late. I think it’s time the three of you sorted your plans.

CLAIRE: Jude, Owen? We need to go. Now. We are running out of time and we have to get to Valerian.

BIRD: Why the rush?

CLAIRE: If we don’t… I don’t know how to explain this-

JUDITH: We’re all gonna die. Or, well, it’s likely that lots of people will die. Something like that. [SFX: there’s a tapping against the window, like the wind is blowing outside]

BIRD: Oh. Ok.

JUDITH: You said you had a truck?

BIRD: Yes, there’s an old truck that came with the property. It’s used to pick up firewood. But if you need to go get your car, you can stay here until the morning and then I can drive you.

CLAIRE: No, we need to get out there now. So, can we borrow the truck? We’ll bring it back, I promise.

BIRD: To be honest, I’d be more concerned about your ability to get yourselves back in one piece, by the sound of it.

OWEN: Fair enough. Is it windy out now? The weather changed quick.

BIRD: Hmm?

OWEN: The tree on the window.

BIRD: There’s no tree near that window. [SFX: the tapping stops]

JUDITH: I think it was a mistake coming here. [SFX: turns on the tap, a thick gurgling noise and a groan from the pipes] Yeah. Do the pipes normally discharge black foam or do you just have to wait for that to clear out?

CLAIRE: Jude, hand me my bag. Mr. Bird, can you grab a weapon? Whatever is handy.

BIRD: I knew it, I told myself, Austin, don’t get mixed up with these fools, you’ll only hurt yourself, but no, you’re here and-

CLAIRE: Please. Just grab something.

OWEN: Are there any other entrances?

BIRD: Back door, locked last I checked. [SFX: there’s a creak on the floor above them] Second floor balcony.

JUDITH: Should we just run to the car?

OWEN: That might be a good idea, come on [SFX: he goes for the door but someone slams against it] Oh JESUS

JUDITH: Who is that?! What’s wrong with their face?

CLAIRE: That’s not even human.

BIRD: In here! [SFX: the run into a room and close the door. It’s quiet, but you can hear slow footsteps creaking on the wooden floor. There’s silence, and then the doorknob jiggles] I think it’s gone?

JUDITH: I don’t know about that.

OWEN: Should we check?

CLAIRE: Maybe. We’re losing time. We have to get to the car. Ok, on three: one, two, three. [SFX: the door opens]

BIRD: Do you see anything?

CLAIRE: No. [SFX: they slowly walk out. Once they’re out, the door slams behind them. Bird tries to open it again, but it’s locked]

BIRD: It’s locked, somehow.

CLAIRE: Which way to the entrance?

BIRD: It’s… wait. This isn’t the right hall.

JUDITH: Yeah, this is not the hall we ran down.

CLAIRE: I don’t know how she’s doing this, but this is Lydia’s doing.

BIRD: Who’s that?

JUDITH: My ex.

BIRD: She sounds lovely.

JUDITH: You don’t know the half of it. Where in the house are we? Is there another way out?

BIRD: The second floor. We can get onto the deck though through there.

CLAIRE: Ok, let’s- [SFX: she opens the door, static immediately fires up, and she’s pulled in as the door slams shut]

JUDITH/OWEN: Claire! [SFX: try to open the door]

JUDITH: Spiders, so many spiders ahhHHHHHHHHHHH. [SFX: the door opens, she’s not there] Oh fuck, she’s gone, fuck fuck fuck.

BIRD: This isn’t even the right room.

OWEN: We’re trapped in here. [SFX: a scream echoes towards them] Oh fuck, go, go go go go!

[SFX: glitch beep. Valerian ritual room. Claire hits the ground, like she’s just fallen out of thin air]

CLAIRE: Owwww, fuck. Oh, oh no.

LYDIA: Oh yes. Hi Claire. Welcome back.Should we get the party started?

[SFX: beep. Cottage]

BIRD: Front door, come on- What is that?

OWEN: I don’t know.

JUDITH: It looks like it’s made of ash.

BIRD: What do you want?

JUDITH: I don’t know if that thing can talk

BIRD: Behind you!

JUDITH: Oh SHIT [SFX: she gets grabbed by one]


OWEN: Let her go!


JUDITH: [sudden gasp] Ah, stop, stop! Don’t!


BIRD: Stop this. NOW. GET OUT.


[SFX: glitch beep. Valerian ritual room]

CLAIRE: Using my playbook against me?

LYDIA: Once I figured out how to play with space, I thought I’d use it to my advantage. I don’t like you coming so close to getting all up in my plans. So fine, you want to speed things up? Play with fire? Then I might as well bring you to the show. Thought I’d have to grab you in a truck stop bathroom, but this was so much better.

CLAIRE: Why is there no one else here?

LYDIA: Oh, they’re here. Everyone’s just getting ready. They’ll be in here soon. Your arrival is just the cherry on top.


LYDIA: Nothing would be more satisfying than to have you be the final death here tonight. What a delight! The mother becomes the child, the first becomes the last.

CLAIRE: [SFX: tries to run, but Claire stops, pained, Lydia grabs her]

LYDIA: I am stronger than you ever could have been, and I will bring about the end that this world deserves. You made my family suffer, and you will pay for that. Family, it is time.



CLAIRE: Let go of me!

LYDIA: Just relax. We’ve got this whole thing planned. You started this! you want to see your plans come to fruition? Don’t you want to see everything WORK OUT? THIS IS ALL YOURS [SFX: Claire slaps her]

CLAIRE: Ow, fuck fuck fuck, how are you even still alive?

LYDIA: The fire burns within me! I am MORE ALIVE THAN EVER.

CLAIRE: You’re barely holding yourself together. You can’t handle this power, Lydia. Soon you’ll be NOTHING BUT ASH.


CLAIRE: You can’t handle it! You’re struggling! You were never meant for this power, and you took it without ever understanding what it would do to you! [SFX: Lydia stabs her]

LYDIA: You are only flesh. You are the weak one. You bleed. This knife will spill your blood across these floors tonight. It has already begun! You know, I was going to save you for last, just felt so fitting, but this is just as much of a treat.

CLAIRE: Did you just bring me here to gloat? You did, didn’t you?

LYDIA: Enough!

CLAIRE: You’re nothing more than a little kid in their parents’ clothes, playing dress-up


CLAIRE: [SFX: she hurls something heavy and burning at her]

LYDIA: As if the flames could hurt me! IDIOT.

CLAIRE: Oh fuck.

[SFX: beep. Living room]

BIRD: What are you?


OWEN: Where is Claire?


BIRD: Purgatory is a Catholic concept, is this Biblical?


OWEN: It’s murky, don’t ask.


OWEN: Could you at least not use her as a fucking mouthpiece?


OWEN: … can I talk to Judith for a minute?

JUDITH: [she takes a deep, raspy breath] Owen, please, get out of here, just run.

OWEN: Not an option. I need you to just hang on a little longer while we figure something out.

JUDITH: Fuck, this hurts so much.

OWEN: I know, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.

JUDITH: Please be quick.


OWEN: Not really.

BIRD: Is this normal for you?

OWEN: Yeah, it’s getting there!

BIRD: Well, I for one hate it.

OWEN: Never said I didn’t.

ASH_JUDITH: JOIN US [SFX: the things start to crawl towards them]

OWEN: Oh fuck.

BIRD: Run!

OWEN: Yeah, I think we might have to. God, Jude, I’m so sorry-


BIRD: RUN. [SFX: they take off running]

[SFX: glitch beep. Valerian ritual room]

LYDIA: You know you’ll never escape, right?

CLAIRE: Don’t condescend to me. I know more than you can imagine.

LYDIA: You don’t know SHIT. The blood of Moloch runs in your veins. You will never be free. The fire will always burn inside of you, and someday, you will take everyone else down with it.

CLAIRE: You’re right. I guess running isn’t an option. [SFX: she lunges at her]

LYDIA: You brought a knife to a firefight? What even is that- [SFX: Claire lunges again, cutting her] What is that? Nothing can hurt me! Where did you get that? WHERE DID YOU GET THAT-

CLAIRE: I can still make you bleed, you stupid child.


CLAIRE: This place is hell and you know it! [SFX: pushes past her, runs out the door]


[SFX: glitch beep. Living room at the cottage. There’s static and then Claire hits the ground, like she’s just fallen out of thin air]

CLAIRE: Owwwww, why do the landings always have to be like this? Oh fuck.

OWEN: Welcome back Claire, we’ve got a bit of a problem!


BIRD: Oh jesus!

OWEN: Any suggestions on what we can do?

CLAIRE: Not one you’ll like.

OWEN: Is that a knife? … No, we’re not-

JUDITH: YOU CANNOT RUN FROM THE COMING FLAMES. THERE IS NOWHERE YOU CAN HIDE. YOU WILL ALL BECOME ASH IN THE END [SFX: there’s a sound, and the ash things all dissolve away, filling the room with a fine powder. Judith takes a huge, gasping breath in and starts to cough]


CLAIRE: Jude! Fuck, you alright?

JUDITH: Is that… is that what it felt like for you?

CLAIRE: I… I don’t know.

JUDITH: It’s like everything was burning but I couldn’t stop it and I couldn’t use my body and everything hurt, it hurt so much, Claire.

CLAIRE: … yeah, sounds about right.  

JUDITH: Oh my god, you’re bleeding so much- wait, were you about to stab me?


CLAIRE: Not to kill, just to draw its attention away. It was a last-ditch option.

JUDITH: Ok, very good.

BIRD: Are… are they gone?

CLAIRE: I think so. Stopping us isn’t a priority anyone, which is a very bad sign. Guys, Lydia is at Valerian. They’re getting started, I don’t know if we’ll make it in time.

JUDITH: You need to get bandaged up-

CLAIRE: We don’t have time! We can do that in the car.

OWEN: Shit, fuck… Austin, do you… want to come with?

BIRD: No. No. I’m going to go to the restaurant down the road. I don’t want to go anywhere else with you but I don’t want to stay here. I hope to god you’re successful in what you have to achieve, because if that’s what’s in our future then I can’t even begin to think about it. I wish you luck and I hope to never see any of you again, if we are all to be so lucky.

OWEN: Ok. Jude, are you alright to come with? You can go-

JUDITH: No. We end this now.

OWEN: … alright. Austin, can I borrow the truck?

[SFX: beep. They’re driving down the highway in tense silence. One of them turns on the radio]

RADIO: You’re listening to KROW 85.9 FM. Coming up next is your untimely death, but first, here’s some Barenaked Ladies.

[SFX: beep. The car slows and stops. They get out to the sound of an inferno in the distance]

JUDITH: Oh jeez.

OWEN: This feels too familiar.

CLAIRE: It’s gone. The whole thing is gone. All of Valerian, fucking up in smoke. 

JUDITH: We’re too late.


JUDITH: She must not have completed it, right? Wouldn’t reality be torn asunder?

CLAIRE: We have to get back, we have to see how much closer she is. This could be over before we even set foot in Toronto again.

OWEN: What about… this?

CLAIRE: Call 911, say you see smoke in the area, and then we need to go.

JUDITH: Want me to drive, give you a break?

OWEN: Yeah.

CLAIRE: I can feel it.


CLAIRE: Every nerve ending in my body feels like it’s awake. She’s so close. I can taste it, and it tastes of copper and cinder.

JUDITH: Claire, let’s go.

CLAIRE: It feels so good.

[SFX: beep. The come into the house in a hurry. Claire opens the basement door and they all quickly head down]

JUDITH: Holy fuck.

OWEN: That was a bloodbath.

CLAIRE: I knew it, I knew it.

JUDITH: How many were there this morning?

OWEN: Like… 30 something?


JUDITH: And now there’s… 5… 10… 15…


JUDITH: Oh my… oh my god.

OWEN: What the fuck.

CLAIRE: She got the jump on us. We got lucky that this wasn’t the end. She knew we were coming so she just went for it. Fucking FUCK.

JUDITH: This is really, really bad.

OWEN: Do you think we’re going to get another chance?

CLAIRE: Not until the very end.

OWEN: Fuck.

JUDITH: How are we supposed to do that?

CLAIRE: She wants me. She’s going to want you two as well.

JUDITH: Very cool. Did you stab her, at least?

CLAIRE: Sure did.

JUDITH: That’s my girl.

OWEN: So she really is just saving us for last.


JUDITH: Seems like it.

OWEN: Great.

[SFX: beep]