25: Torsion

TORSION: the state of being twisted. There are plenty of good things about your university days, but spending time in the big sterile libraries is rarely one. It's especially not great if you're perusing the occult section while someone keeps an eye on you. There are eyes in the shelves, eyes in the halls, and eyes in the house... watching, always watching.
CONTENT WARNINGS: The occult, religion, confinement, body horror, blood/knives, possession

TORSION: the state of being twisted.

[SFX: beep. Kitchen. Judith opens the door and walks in. Claire is quietly talking to herself]

CLAIRE: …as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil-

JUDITH: Uh, Claire?

CLAIRE: Ah! Jude, sorry, I didn’t hear you come in.

JUDITH: Yeah, I… are you praying?

CLAIRE: Oh, uh… no?

JUDITH: … Is that a bible? Are those allowed in here? I assumed something like that would like, burst into flames if brought inside.

CLAIRE: Oh. Uh, yeah. It’s… I found this in one of the bookshelves, amazingly enough. I’m… I don’t know.

JUDITH: So… what are you doing? I have to be honest, the sound of any kind of weird mumbling sets me off these days.

CLAIRE: It’s fine, I’m just… I don’t know! Who the fuck knows what I’m doing? I don’t!

JUDITH: … so, do you think it’ll help?

CLAIRE: I don’t know. No, likely. And even if there was a god, I’m still going to hell at this rate. Or not, because hell on earth is coming to us, how comforting.Demons. Hellfire. All of this supernatural shit. I mean, if there’s evil, there must be something good, right? A god with flowers in their hair who brings aid and speaks kind words. But that’s not how this works, is it? It’s just… a void. A void I feel like I’m standing on the edge of, darkness on either side, every option a bad choice. You know, when I was little, like, about 10, my parents would send me off to camp, mostly so they could have some “alone time”, but also so I would… I guess, experience things? I think they thought I enjoyed it. Most of it was ok, I did theatre camp, golf camp — and then there was one year where they sent me to a bible camp, because my grandparents are religious and they paid for it.

JUDITH: Is that why you owned a Jesus is My Homeboy t-shirt?

CLAIRE: [laughs] Yeah, it was a dark time. That camp was so weird. I think my parents thought they were sending me to some benign Unitarian camp or something where we’d, like, talk about loving our neighbours. But… that wasn’t this one. It was in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t know anyone. I was just stuck bunking in this shitty cabin with these girls who’d known each other for years and didn’t care to add another person to their group. There would be these morning worship sessions where we’d sing songs that everybody else seemed to know the lyrics to but made me feel full of dread. And then we’d do crafts or kayaking or whatever, but then we’d go to these sermons where this khaki-clad nightmare of a man would go on and on about Revelations. About water turning to blood. About boils, locusts, darkness, death. It felt like he was trying to scare us into believing. And it kind of worked? Like, I didn’t want to face the apocalypse. I didn’t want to see the rise of something that could destroy me and everything and everyone I loved.But that’s kind of what’s happening now, isn’t it? All these things have come to pass, minus the locusts. And the big difference is that I’m the evil. Or at least I was. Now I’m… something. I didn’t see any of this coming-

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

LYDIA: Is this how you do this? Can they hear me? It might be fun to record. Get a little thing going, keep some records. [man mumbling off-mic] NO, I AM NOT DOING THAT, I AM DOING MY OWN VERSION, CLAIRE HAD HER THING, I HAVE MINE. [man mumbling off-mic] Ok. Ok! I just want you to know that this is such a nice thing you’re doing. It’s so good! You’re very good. … do you like the heat? You will soon.

[SFX: beep, scene above continues]

CLAIRE: –I feel like I never left that fucking cabin. I’m still alone there, in the dark, terrified of what’s out there, what will happen if I make the wrong move. When I was young, I wanted something bigger than me to listen, to talk back, to tell me that there was more than just… this, but now I know what’s out there and… it’s all wrong. It’s all wrong, and I’m all wrong. I tried so hard to hear God speak to me. But I was never meant for that sort of thing. I was only meant for this. I just can’t help but feel like… something about me has always been wrong. Maybe it’s because I’m wrong. I’m eviland always have been, somehow.

JUDITH: Claire, I once saw you run into the middle of Spadina in order to save a baby raccoon. You almost got hit by a truck. An evil person would let the truck hit the raccoon and then worn it as a pelt.

CLAIRE: I killed a man, Judith. 

JUDITH: We’re going to keep over this until you finally listen: that wasn’t you.

CLAIRE: No, I don’t mean when I was possessed. I’m talking about the ashes that are still embedded in the welcome mat.

JUDITH: Technically, that was the house.

CLAIRE: But I knew exactly what was going to happen. I don’t know exactly how I knew, but I knew.

JUDITH: I don’t think self-defence counts?

CLAIRE: Maybe? But… Jude? I think I liked it. Well, not the murder part so much, but the power. I have felt so powerless, for what feels like so long now, and… just in that moment, I felt like I could crush him with my bare hands. And just for a second, I wanted more. I don’t know, Judith, what if I can outrun this? What if this is my path?

JUDITH: I… I can’t choose that for you. I just know that you can pick something different. You don’t have to follow some sort of horrible destiny picked out for you by people who only care about themselves, who just… decided you would be a conduit for their fucked-up machinations. You said it yourself to Lydia: this was puppetry-

CLAIRE: Yes, and I want the control over this to be mine and mine alone.

JUDITH: I know, Claire. I know. I-… [sigh] I just came in to ask, do you want to go over what we need to find at the library with Owen and I before we head out? He’s just doing yoga in the attic and I might join for a bit, I’ve got shoulder pain from… a lot of things.

CLAIRE: I’m sorry about the chains.

JUDITH: Let’s just not talk about right now.

CLAIRE: Sure. Yeah, just like… give me a bit.

JUDITH: Ok. … so, is anything good coming from this? Should I dig that t-shirt out?

CLAIRE: Uh, no. I mean, I like the idea that maybe someone out there could be listening.

JUDITH: Is there? Someone listening, that is?

CLAIRE: No. I am alone in my head. For once. I’ll come join you guys in a bit.

JUDITH: No yoga?

CLAIRE: Nah, I’m feeling a little stiff. All my joints feel… tight, lately.

JUDITH: The yoga would help.

CLAIRE: I’m ok.

JUDITH: Alright. I know this is probably a touchy subject, but I have to ask because I feel like we’re running low on time and this has really been eating at me: who died on the Bluffs that day? When you were out there with Bird?

CLAIRE: Lydia’s dad.

JUDITH: Holy shit. Claire, please tell me you’re fucking joking. I… I didn’t know that was Lydia’s dad. Why didn’t you tell us?

CLAIRE: How would I ever broach that subject, Jude?

JUDITH: Just… what happened?

CLAIRE: He couldn’t fly.


CLAIRE: I made him appear and he fell from the Bluffs and died on the rocks below.

JUDITH: That was him, we heard the recording, oh my god. No wonder Lydia’s got such a fucking axe to grind. Why even do that? I don’t think anyone going to stay loyal to someone who murdered their father.

CLAIRE: I think power… has a way of distorting things. Power… you get high off it. You get arrogant. You forget there might come a time when you’re no longer in control. Lydia didn’t matter enough to her to be worth trying to instil loyalty in. But she… underestimated Lydia.

JUDITH: I… I don’t know what to say. How did you do it?

CLAIRE: You’re saying you as if I had a choice in it.

JUDITH: I don’t… I don’t mean you-you, you know what I mean.

CLAIRE: And yet you still look at me with fear sometimes. I see it, Jude! You say that you know it wasn’t me but it’s hard to separate the two, isn’t it?

JUDITH: Claire, please-

CLAIRE: I can’t fix what happened, I can’t turn back time. I dragged you both into this, ok? So I’m going to get back to work and find a way out, somehow.  

JUDITH: Ok. … let me know if the prayers start working. Owen, you better not be halfway through that video already!

[SFX: beep. Claire walks into the living room, where Judith and Owen are sitting]

CLAIRE: [SFX: sits down on the couch] My knee hurts.

JUDITH: Should’ve joined for yoga.

OWEN: I think my back is permanently hunched from pouring over cursed tomes. This is my attempt to negate some of the damage.

JUDITH: What’s that?

CLAIRE: Careful, it’s very delicate.

JUDITH: Birth certificates?

CLAIRE: Yeah, Minnie was clearly keeping track of her family history. I’m sorting through it.

JUDITH: Why does that set off “pure bloodlines” alarms in my head?”

CLAIRE: Because putting the word “purity” next to “bloodline” is never a good thing and sounds like something that would either come from the mouth of a zealous monarchist or a white supremacist. Minnie was neither, I don’t think, but she definitely had the idea that her family would be a hellish dynasty.

JUDITH: Gross. And creepy.

CLAIRE: Yep. But thought I’d dig through for clues.

JUDITH: Is there anything about your parents?

CLAIRE: I think I got a little more info about Dana. There’s nothing I can find about my bio dad. For some reason, it doesn’t seem like he mattered much.

JUDITH: Weird. Too bad she’s dead, because it would’ve been nice to ask her some questions.

CLAIRE: Yeah… about that.


CLAIRE: I think… I don’t know, I’ve been digging, and I think I might have a lead on where we can get more info on some of the mysteries around her.

JUDITH: Seriously?

CLAIRE: It’s just a hunch, 99% sure it’s not going to pan out, but let’s see.

JUDITH: What’s with the post-it note that says, “The blood of the first”? What’s that?

CLAIRE: Not sure yet, but something I’m keeping in mind while I’m digging around.

JUDITH: Sounds threatening.

CLAIRE: Anyway, this thing with Dana is a total Hail Mary so don’t get your hopes up.

OWEN: Any sign of Lydia?

CLAIRE: No, but that’s not a good thing. I want to know what she’s up to.

JUDITH: I can tell you that her house burned down.

OWEN: What? Where did you see that?

JUDITH: The Toronto subreddit. Someone posted photos of a fire on Clinton St yesterday afternoon, and that’s her place. No injuries, apparently, but if we were ever considering looking for her there, that’s not happening.

OWEN: I’m just shocked there’s something else on there other than photos of the skyline.

JUDITH: Yeah, photos of the burnt-out husk of her place. I think I left my copy of Dune there. Goddamnit.

CLAIRE: Wait, what is that?


CLAIRE: Look, towards the back of the picture.

JUDITH: Oh, oh god.

CLAIRE: She knew where that camera was.

JUDITH: She’s just… staring down the barrel. I feel like she can see us from this photo. [SFX: a little bit of static comes out of Judith’s laptop’s speakers, she shuts it] Nope. No no no no, no. Do not wreck my laptop. I’m… going to ignore it. I’m not going to look.

OWEN: If she was immolating anyone in that fire, it didn’t work, as we haven’t heard anything from the basement all day.

CLAIRE: Bad sign. She’s covering her tracks. Or… maybe practicing.

JUDITH: For what?

CLAIRE: If you’ve never made a large pyre before, you should definitely give it a run before the final moments of your plan.

JUDITH: What’s the plan, you think?

CLAIRE: I don’t know for sure, but she might be trying to do something big. Or she’s… making an offering.

JUDITH: For what?

CLAIRE: More power? There’s an endless amount out there, you just have to know how to grab it.

JUDITH: [SFX: tiniest bit of static from the laptop, then it stops] Yeah. … so are we going to make these magic silver knives?

CLAIRE: Yes. There’s just a rite that we need that I don’t have written down anywhere in this house. There are a few options for texts that might contain it at Robarts Library, though.

JUDITH: The library shaped like a turkey?

CLAIRE: I think it was supposed to be a peacock, but yes.

OWEN: Do they have an occult section?



CLAIRE: 9th floor. The online database is very useful.

OWEN: Ok, guess it’s time for a field trip.

JUDITH: Are we cool looking enough to be on a university campus?

CLAIRE: Not sure that matters. What even is in style now?

JUDITH: Nothing that any of us own.

CLAIRE: I’m thinking… dishevelled and exhausted. That never goes out of style for university students.

JUDITH: Perfect.

[SFX: beep. Walking down St. George to Robarts library]

JUDITH: Where did you even get these student cards?

CLAIRE: Well, I had originally hoped to just get Henry’s assistance with gaining access to Robarts through his student card, but it turns out he works in the T-Card office and offered to help.I wanted a way to access the library’s materials, and I wanted a good-looking person to make me laugh and tell me I’m pretty, y’know, one more time before the world goes to hell. It’s all very efficient when you think about it.

OWEN: Where did you even find this photo of me?

CLAIRE: I googled your name. You really should do a cyber security check.

OWEN: I’ll keep that in mind. You could’ve at least picked one where my eyes are open all the way. I look high.

CLAIRE: Were you high?

OWEN: Yes, but trying to hide it.

JUDITH: [SFX: the enter Robarts and head through the main floor computer lab to the elevators] All university libraries smell the same.

CLAIRE: Like stress and ramen and old books?

JUDITH: And bleach. They always smell a little like cleaning products. [SFX: they get to the elevators. There’s a girl sitting there checking ID cards]  

OWEN: Hello. Here is my… TCard?

JUDITH: And here’s mine… nice flowers you have there.

STUDENT: Thanks.

CLAIRE: And mine.

STUDENT: Thanks. Oh! Oh my gosh, you’re Claire Sterback. I knew I recognized you from somewhere!

CLAIRE: That’s… me.

STUDENT: Holy shit, that’s so cool. I didn’t realize you go here.

JUDITH: She’s joined ourPhD program recently, I’m just showing her around. We all just… love to learn.

OWEN: Can’t get enough books!

CLAIRE: Very natural, keep it up.

STUDENT: Ok, well, I’ll let you guys head into the stacks. Have a great day!  

CLAIRE: You too. Would it be extreme for me to undergo some kind of face transplant so I never have to have that kind of interaction ever again? It’ll be just like in that movie Face/Off.

JUDITH: Whose face would you take?

CLAIRE: 9th floor. Nic Cage’s, obviously.

OWEN: Obviously.

JUDITH: Maybe we should get you like… a big hat and some sunglasses. 

OWEN: A big fake beard.

CLAIRE: I want them to think that I’m someone else, not be like: “Hey, are you Claire Sterback? What’s with the beard?”

OWEN: It would look pretty cool.

CLAIRE: I’ll sleep on it.

OWEN: Got it. Jude, you’re a romantic, what kind of flower was on the desk?

JUDITH: I think it was mnkshood.

OWEN: Odd name. They don’t look like monks.

JUDITH: ] I think it’d be weirder if they did. Ok, here’s a list of books that might have what we’re looking for in it, so let’s start pulling.

[SFX: beep. They’re in the stacks, flipping through books]

JUDITH: You got anything good?

CLAIRE: No, just a lot of hooey. Would it kill these authors to use page references?

JUDITH: Yeah, there’s a lot of footnotes to nowhere here. But I got a few things. Hopefully Owen found something too.

CLAIRE: Where is he?

JUDITH: Sitting at one of the tables flipping through a book the side of a world atlas.

CLAIRE: Right.

JUDITH: How’re you doing?

CLAIRE: Would you stop asking me that?


CLAIRE: Fine. Well, I physically feel like garbage, I don’t have a job, I’m tired all the time, and now I’m getting paper cuts from big old dusty books. All of this dead-end research is getting to me. How did you and Owen do this?

JUDITH: After a while you just kind of get used to it. You can make a game of it! Whoever falls asleep in the reference library first gets murdered.

CLAIRE: Sorry. I know I haven’t asked this enough. How are you holding up?

JUDITH: I am right there with you on the stress thing. But given what we’re dealing with, it would probably be weirder if we weren’t panicking a little. I feel almost… zen, though? Like the problem is so big that I can’t see the edges, so I can just pretend it’s the sky. [SFX: the fluorescent lights around them start to plink out] Timer lights are so creepy. Come on, turn back on. 

CLAIRE: Do you know what time this place closes? 

JUDITH: 10 or 11 PM? We’ve still got plenty of time, but we should get going soon. I don’t like being out after dark lately for… obvious reasons. Also, I think I have some Kleenex in my purse for those papercuts. How do you have so many?

CLAIRE: I… I don’t know. My skin just feels too thin. [SFX: a fingernail falls off] Oh my god.

JUDITH: Was that one of your fingernails?


JUDITH: What happened?

CLAIRE: I don’t know. It just… fell off. My nails have been so weak as of late. This isn’t the first one.

JUDITH: What? Claire, that’s not ok. Do you… need a bandaid or something?

CLAIRE: It’s fine. It’s not bleeding at least.

JUDITH: That’s… still not good.

CLAIRE: Yeah… let’s just… keep looking. Judith, that one near your knee, that’s the one.

JUDITH: How are you so sure?

CLAIRE: Trust me, I just know.

JUDITH: Ok, I’ll grab that, and, uh… it does feel weird under my hands. Like… light static charge.

CLAIRE: Is there a table of contents?

JUDITH: I think so,and… please tell me you know how to read Middle English.

CLAIRE: I can suss out what I need. Page 69.

JUDITH: Nice. Is this what you’re looking for?

CLAIRE: Yeah, this looks like it. Can you get a photo?

JUDITH: [SFX: takes a picture on her phone] This looks… complicated. Are you sure we’ll be able to do this?

CLAIRE: It’s the best chance we have. [SFX: a thin line of ash and dust fall from the ceiling onto the book]

JUDITH: Shall we get Owen and bail? I’m ready to leave. My feet hurt and I think my nostrils are caked with dust. Does… anyone ever even come into this section?

CLAIRE: How many occultists are at U of T?

JUDITH: I assume a few. Witches, warlocks, and everything in between. Ugh, [SFX: brushes the page off] ceiling dust. [SFX: more falls, static starts to crackle on the recording randomly] What is that coming from? These ceiling are concrete.

CLAIRE: The whole building is concrete. [SFX: a tiny bit more falls] This… isn’t just dust.

JUDITH: What is it? And why does it smell…

CLAIRE: This is ash.

JUDITH: Like burnt trees.

CLAIRE: Put the book back. We’re leaving.

JUDITH: Really glad that we led a fire murder cult to a giant building full of incredibly flammable objects.



CLAIRE: Someone is watching us.

JUDITH: Where? Oh… ok.

CLAIRE: Come on- [SFX: the lights plink off and you can hear soft, padded footsteps on the concrete floors start to come towards them] oh fuck. … What the fuck…

JUDITH: Claire, we-… wasn’t there someone there?

CLAIRE: Yeah. [SFX: the lights start to turn off again coming towards them] Oh my god.

JUDITH: I don’t like this line of dark coming towards us. [SFX: the lights turn off over them and the footsteps coming towards them start again]

CLAIRE: Go! [SFX: they run down the aisle of the stacks] Owen!


OWEN: Whoa, what’s going on?

JUDITH: Time to go.

OWEN: Is there someone here?

CLAIRE: There’s… Jude?

JUDITH: Claire! Come on!

CLAIRE: Jude, no one’s there.

JUDITH: What? Claire, doesn’t matter, we’re going.

CLAIRE: No, look. 

JUDITH: There was someone following us. 

OWEN: We’re leaving.


OWEN: This place is too quiet.

JUDITH: Did you see people leave?

OWEN: Yeah, but… I didn’t think anything of it until now.

JUDITH: Get on the elevator and let’s get out of here. [SFX: elevator arrives, they get in and hit a button, it starts going down. After a few seconds, it stops] No, no no no no.

CLAIRE: Power’s still on.

OWEN: Guys, I do not feel good about being stuck in a tight space, really not feeling good about this-

JUDITH: Hey, hey, it’s ok, we’ll get out of here, alright? Deep breath.

OWEN: Ok, still losing it, but I’m going to pretend like I’m alright, if that works.

JUDITH: Good enough.

CLAIRE: Shh.What is that? [SFX: there’s a soft shuffling noise, like something slowly sliding down the shaft, then silence, and then a soft thump, like a cat landing on the top of the elevator]

OWEN: That can’t be a person, can it?

CLAIRE: A person is the least of our worries. [SFX: a fine shower of ash starts to pour in]

JUDITH: Is that ash?

OWEN: Nothing smells like it’s burning, what’s going on?

CLAIRE: Ash to blot out the sun, ash to choke the light-

OWEN: [coughing] What do we do? We’re trapped in here!

CLAIRE: Ash to fill your lungs, in endless night-

JUDITH: [coughing] Claire! What do we do?

CLAIRE: I… I don’t know.

JUDITH: Watch it! There’s… a hand, a hand in the ash-

CLAIRE: It’s made of ash.

OWEN: Really losing the ability to not openly panic!

JUDITH: Oh jesus christ- Claire!

CLAIRE: Fuck, no, don’t-

JUDITH: Owen, help!



OWEN: Jude, we’re going to fucking choke to death in here!


[SFX: the static builds, they’re coughing and struggling to breathe, the “CHOKE” chant continues in the background, when suddenly the elevator kicks back to life and starts to move. Everything is back to normal, albeit ashy]

CLAIRE: What happened? What stopped it?

JUDITH: I think someone got the elevator working again? Maintenance probably just saw an outage and reset… whatever it is that runs elevators, I don’t know, I’m not an engineer. Fuck, what the fuck was that? What were those hands?

CLAIRE: Doing that requires a lot of effort and a lot of personal sacrifice. I… I think I know why Lydia burned her house down.

JUDITH: Jesus fucking christ. Owen? Hey, Owen, you with us? [pause] Owen!

OWEN: [on the edge of a panic attack] Yes?

JUDITH: Hey, we’re almost out of here.

OWEN: Yep. Yep yep yep. Feeling great!

JUDITH: Come on.

STUDENT: Hey, sorry, the elevators stopped working for- oh my god, what happened in there?

CLAIRE: It’s fine. Check your air filters though. They’re going to be a mess. Come on, guys.

[SFX: beep. Phone message]

TABITHA: Hey Judith. Lyds gave me your number. Hope you’re having a good week. Making some big changes around here, been on the road with Lydia. It’s fun! We’re having a great time. Hope you liked our friends stopping by. I think I’m getting the hang of this. Very cool. Alright, I’ll see you in hell. Bye!

[SFX: beep. Bedroom]



CLAIRE: Can you come downstairs? It’s blood magic time.

JUDITH: It’s always blood magic time lately, and never like, fun cocktail time, or bad movie watching time.

CLAIRE: Those can happen later, this needs to be done, especially after what happened today.

JUDITH: Can we not… do this first thing in the morning? It’s 1 AM. I just got all the ash out of my hair.

CLAIRE: No, we need to do this now. The sky is right.

JUDITH: Do you even have everything?

CLAIRE: Yes, I just need you and Owen. Come on.

JUDITH: Alright. [SFX: they walk out of the room, knock on Owen’s door]

OWEN: What’s up? I was having the most wonderful dream that I lived in a van by the sea.

CLAIRE: I need your blood.

OWEN: No, we already did that and it was horrible. Good night.

JUDITH: Sorry, bad wording on my part, I’m exhausted, we need to do this knife spell.

OWEN: At 1 AM?


OWEN: Ok. Do you still smell burnt wood?

JUDITH: All the time. I don’t think I’ll ever get that out of my sinuses.

OWEN: Same. Thanks for talking me down earlier.

JUDITH: I can’t blame you for panicking. I know I was and I’d never been… buried alive.

OWEN: Let’s not talk about that now, ok? Alright, what’s the plan?

CLAIRE: Come here. Stand on either side of the table.

JUDITH: If only we had a triangular table.

CLAIRE: Well, it’d be better if we had four but that’s not a thing anymore, so three it is. We have enough to do two knives. Gives us a backup. Ok.

argentum in caelo

argentum in terra

argentum in sanguine

argentum in os

per ignem

per matrem

in pueri

Give me your arms. [SFX: she cuts Judith] Owen?


JUDITH: Owen, please.

OWEN: … ok.

JUDITH: It’s ok. [SFX: Claire takes his arm and cuts it]

CLAIRE: I’m sorry, both of you. [SFX: she wipes the blood on the knives, static starts to get heavy, there’s a noise like metal on metal – like a ting TING TING TING TING angrily approaching, and then the static gently dissipates] I… I think that’s it.

JUDITH: Did it work?

CLAIRE: I think so.

OWEN: Can we check?

CLAIRE: Not yet. I think… we’ll just have to find out in the moment.

OWEN: Cool.

CLAIRE: What you guys need to do is done. I’m going to wash them in the herb and oil mixture I made. If you want to clean up and head to bed, feel free.

OWEN: Yeah, I’m done for the night. [SFX: leaves the room]

CLAIRE: I hate this.

JUDITH: I hate it too.

CLAIRE: Thank you for doing this.

JUDITH: Yeah. You need any help with anything else?

CLAIRE: I’m ok.

JUDITH: Alright. I’m going to go… wipe this off. Everything smells like ash and blood, and the worst part is how used to it I feel lately.

CLAIRE: I’ll be up in a bit.




CLAIRE: I…I wanted to ask “are we ok”, but… I know that’s a stupid question right now. I’m… I’m trying.

JUDITH: I know.

CLAIRE: We’ll be ok, ok?

JUDITH: Yeah. Yeah, we will. It’s just… we gotta get through this first.

CLAIRE: Yeah. I’ll come to bed soon. Don’t wait up.

[SFX: beep. Silence. The sound of Owen sleeping]

[SFX: beep. Silence, it’s late at night in the kitchen]

OWEN: Hey.

CLAIRE: Oh my god, Owen! What are you doing down here?

OWEN: Shhh. Don’t make a fuss. I just wanted to move my legs.

CLAIRE: Were you having trouble sleeping?

OWEN: Hm? Yes. It’s an issue.

CLAIRE: … well, I’m going to head back up.

OWEN: Wait.


OWEN: Take a seat. I want to talk.

CLAIRE: Can this wait until morning?

OWEN: I don’t think there will be enough time.

CLAIRE: Owen, what’s going on?

OWEN: You’re looking for answers in the wrong places. You know you are. Maybe on purpose. I would’ve thought you would’ve learned a little more from me.

CLAIRE: Who are you?

OWEN: Honey, sweetie, baby girl, come on. I’m someone who would’ve put away these dishes, I’ll tell you that. I wouldn’t be filling my body with pills and alcohol. Foolish, stupid, selfish child.

CLAIRE: … no. No, you’re gone. You no longer had a vessel. You had nowhere to go-

OWEN: This is my house, child. I could only go so far. The walls do more than keep unwanted things out. I’m barely a shadow now, but I thought I’d make one last… attempt at reaching out to you.

CLAIRE: Don’t you even think of coming near me-

OWEN: Do not call out or else I will burn his eyes from his skull. [SFX: he gently touches his arm, a realization] I thought I recognized this body. A strong one, stronger than I had assumed. I like that. You know, if you’d cut a little deeper, we wouldn’t be chatting like this right now. He’s healing nicely.

CLAIRE: Say what you need to say and get out. Of Owen, of this house-

OWEN: To be completely transparent, I think I preferred you as a vessel. This body is… rougher. I do like the physical strength, though. If I had more time, I’d break every one of your fingers for your absolute insubordination.

CLAIRE: Get on with it.

OWEN: [sigh] There is so much I want to say, so much I wanted to do, but that’s… all too late. You know, I always wanted to go to Corsica. I hear it’s nice. But there were always other responsibilities. Things to do. Bodies to exsanguinate. It honestly did take ages to finish the work on the walls, but it was clearly worth it. You like it?

CLAIRE: It’s truly a nightmare.

OWEN: It’s the only thing keeping you alive right now, so don’t be so ungrateful. Now, Claire, dear, you’re trying to stop what is inevitable. It’s very foolish. I can’t say I approve. But I have to admit, I don’t have a lot of faith in you.

CLAIRE: Wow, thanks. You would’ve been a shit grandma.

OWEN: And you’re a disappointing grandchild, but here we are. You’re held together with scotch tape and I’m in the body of some… guy. Truly bizarre. I got what I wanted, though. How’s your studying going? It’s very bland after a while, huh? You get so inured to the doom and gloom until it’s nothing more than wallpaper. But I’m sure you’ve started seeing a trend. I saw the note, the blood of the first, have you figured that one out yet? Or have you been avoiding that one? Did you ever learn the rest of the rhyme?

CLAIRE: What rhyme? What are you talking about?

OWEN: You should’ve listened better. You should’ve learned.

CLAIRE: Tell me what’s going on or else I will pull you from him.

OWEN: Oh, sweetie, I underestimated you. Maybe I did rub off on you, just a little. But nonetheless, I just get the feeling that you didn’t truly learn from any of this, not to mention that you let some absolute fool take the power meant for you. So let me ask you again, did you, or did you not learn the rest of the rhyme?

CLAIRE: What rhyme?

OWEN: One, a lock

Two, a key…

CLAIRE: Three to whatever, yes, what about it?

OWEN: Should’ve kept a better eye on those notebooks, stupid child.

One, a lock

Two, a key

Three to hear

And four to free

But backwards moves

A careful quest

Do not stop

And do not rest

Four to tear

The seams of time

Three to hold

Upon the line

Two to close

In ash and bone

One to seal

The first alone

CLAIRE: What’s that even supposed to mean?

OWEN: This is my parting gift to you. I want you to be aware of what lies ahead for you. Whatever you’re planning, I’m more than certain it will not work. And you know the first to knock is the only one who can lock the door behind them.

CLAIRE: I wasn’t the one who started this.

OWEN: Yes, but it was your hands that did the knocking, technically. You have the blood of the first hands that filled these walls with their blood. You’re the only one left. The first and the last.  

CLAIRE: You… you set me up. You made sure I’d never escape, not really.

OWEN: Well, I couldn’t get my own hands dirty, could I?

CLAIRE: You fucking WITCH-

OWEN: Ah ah ah, careful, [mimicking S2 Claire] don’t hurt the vessel! You’re careless, sometimes. Besides, looks like your… friend… the one who’s now in charge, she was smart enough to put a little failsafe on this.

CLAIRE: What are you talking about?

OWEN: How are you feeling? Tired? Rundown? Is your hair falling out? Bones creaking? Blood in the sink every night?

CLAIRE: How do you know about that?

OWEN: Everything has a price, Claire. It cost my physical body to stay spiritually tied to this house. It costs to become something new. And there’s a cost if you strip something away… I am gone from you, yes, but that took a toll on your body, and it will continue to leech the strength from your bones until you are nothing more than dust. The clock ticks for you, child. Looks like the one who set you free knew that, no wonder she was willing to cast us out.

CLAIRE: No, no… fuck… you… you know what? Fine. Fine. Fuck you. Will… will this happen to Owen too?

OWEN: Hmm? Oh, I assume he’ll be fine. There’s so little of me left to hold on to, he’ll probably just have a nasty headache. Shocked you even care, after all you’ve done.

CLAIRE: Leave Owen. Leave this house. Get. Out.

OWEN: This is my house.

CLAIRE: That is not your body to take and this is not your house.

OWEN: Oh, that’s nice! Do you accept your place of power? Do you want the power meant for you back? Let me come back to you, Claire. Let me guide you on this journey. I could help you.

CLAIRE: You’re only here to help yourself.

OWEN: Yes, but your other option is to die at the hands of another. I could help you and together we could spare your friends. Wouldn’t that be a nice little trade off?

CLAIRE: Get out, or I will find a way to cast you into the depths of hell so hard your soul will be shredded.

OWEN: I liked you better when you were me.

CLAIRE: Enough. Enough of this. You are… a monster. A horrible person, a selfish, evil user, and you will leave this house forever. [SFX: she brandishes a spray bottle]

OWEN: … a spray bottle? Do you think I’m a housecat trying to get at the butter dish? [SFX: she sprays it] What is this?

CLAIRE: I didn’t learn your stupid rhyme but I did learn a few things, and I know how to banish something as weak as you. [SFX: sprays] You either leave or I force you out, I don’t care if I have to make you drink this.

OWEN: You’d hurt your friend like that?

CLAIRE: It only hurts you, you piece of shit. He’s just going to smell like St John’s Wort.

OWEN: You stupid, stupid child. You are abandoning your last chance at surviving this. I am the only one who can keep you from perishing in the flames! It is your fault that you are here, and yours alone! I may have set you on the path, but you kept on it until it was too late to turn back, and you opened that door. This is on you, and you will SUFFER for it.

CLAIRE: Get out.

OWEN: Fine. Fine! Goodbye, Claire. You’re just like your mother. A disgrace to this family. [SFX: static for a moment, then Owen drops and slams into the counter, coughing and trying to catch his breath]

OWEN: What happened?

CLAIRE: Hey, it’s cool, it’s fine, you were sleepwalking.

OWEN: … I was?

CLAIRE: Yeah. I heard a sound and came down. I guess you slept walked down here.

OWEN: I… uh… I guess so.

CLAIRE: I tried to wake you up and you tripped and fell.

OWEN: I feel dizzy. Wait, why am I wet?

CLAIRE: I was trying to wake you up gently, just in case.

OWEN: What’s in that spray bottle? It better not be cleaner.

CLAIRE: It’s not. It’s skincare stuff.

OWEN: At least it smells nice. Ugh, I’ve got a splitting headache.

CLAIRE: Here, I’ll get you a glass of water, then go back to bed.

OWEN: Are you sure I wasn’t doing anything… creepy?

CLAIRE: Just garden variety sleepwalking.

OWEN: Ok… ugh, I feel awful.

CLAIRE: It’s disorienting being woken up like this, believe me.

OWEN: … was I talking? I remember… never mind.

CLAIRE: What do you remember?

OWEN: I… I guess I was dreaming, then? I don’t know. I remember talking to you, but… it’s all hazy.

CLAIRE: Just a dream, then.

OWEN: Yeah, I guess.

CLAIRE: Alright, up you go.

OWEN: Is that recorder running?

CLAIRE: Oh, uh, maybe, I just brought it with me in case something weird was going on. But it’s fine. Nothing of interest. Let’s just head upstairs.

[SFX: beep]