EPISODE 1: THE DARE

The lazy days of summer are at an end and school is about to begin... but for five Arkham youths, reading, writing, and 'rithmetic is the least of their worries. They're spending the night in a notorious abandoned house and local legends say no one has ever lived to tell the tale.

 

Of course, no sane schoolkid would dare to trespass in Howling House, but twelve-year-old Tenderfoot, Tommy "Woods" Northwood, his precocious kid sister Chelsea, and a forlorn little boy known only as "Dirt" don't have a choice. Roger Simmons, the neighborhood bully, and his protégé, Joey Davenport, have the leverage and pugilistic prowess to make a very convincing argument.

 

Will they survive to see the sunrise, or is there something sinister waiting for them in that decrepit domicile?

Content Warning: Violence, harsh language, child endangerment and abuse, bullying, colonialist terminology for and mention of violence towards Indigenous peoples, ableist language, alcohol use, and reference to gun violence.

An illustration of a decrepit Victorian house with a light on inside and a cat sitting on the gate with the Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program logo above it, by Sarah DeLaine and Ashley Lanni

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Full Transcript Below

Original score composed and performed by Ryan and Mike McQuinn of Neon Dolphin Music Design

EPISODES:

Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

CREDITS:

Written & Performed by:
Luke Stram – The Keeper
Cat Blackard | Manda Bruno | Brandon Gerson | Chris LeBrane | Colin Peterson

Based on “The Dare” by Kevin Ross with revisions by Bret Kramer, published by Sentinel Hill Press

 

Sound Design: Colin Peterson

Editing and Mastering: Colin Peterson & Cat Blackard

Additional Editing: Ricardo Lugo

Story Editing: Cat Blackard



Cast (In Order of Appearance):

Cat Blackard as The Narrator/The Announcer

Colin Peterson as Tommy "Woods" Northwood
Manda Bruno as Chelsea Northwood
Abigail as Millie Pickett
Dany as Dots Pickett
Alicia Fuss as Dorothy Pickett
Cat Blackard as Roger Simmons
Zachary Fortais-Gomm as Ace Simmons
Brandon Gerson as Dirt
Jonathan West as Dirt's Father
Ebonie Ellington as Joey's Mother
Chris LeBrane as Joey Davenport
Sawyer Greene as Joey's Sister
Cynthia Beckert as Grandma Northwood


Musical Spotlight: "Apartment 54" by Tierney Tough

Original Score: Ryan McQuinn and Mike McQuinn
Neon Dolphin - Bandcamp

Album Art by Sarah DeLaine and Ashley Lanni

Executive Producers: Colin Peterson & Cat Blackard

Producer: John Sebastian La Valle

Associate Producer: Jessica Mudd

SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS:

TRANSCRIPT:

[Omniverse Audio Brand]

ANNOUNCER:
The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program is for mature audiences only. This episode contains violence, harsh language, child endangerment and abuse, bullying, colonialist terminology for, and mention of violence towards, indigenous peoples, ableist language, alcohol use, and reference to gun violence.

Please listen at your own discretion.

If you find our stygian stories simply scintillating, head to CthulhuMystery.com to join our community of fans and unlock further secrets at Patreon.com/OmniverseMedia.

[SFX: Radio static, the dial tunes until...cuts to the end of a 1920s jazz performance]

NARRATOR:
All night long you’ll hear this song on your radi-o, that’s, of course, the “vo-do-do-deo blues.” And if you don’t like it, you can indeed load up your .44, but do kindly use it to blast that radi-o, rather than storming on down to good ol’ W.I.S. to give me the business. Don’t shoot the messenger, as they say.

But if that vo-do-do-deo don’t do you right, well friend, next up we’ve got something that I think you’ll find surprisingly different. If you’ve looked out your window lately, you’ll have no doubt noticed that it’s the dead of night: precisely when you might expect to hear the next installment of The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program.

Well, wait no longer, my fine friends. It’s with great pleasure that we here at W.I.S. debut an all-new installment in this anthology series, that, in the tradition of this peculiar program, is an adventure completely unlike anything you’ve heard before.

New stories, new characters, same unfathomable chasm of horror and hilarity. Did you miss us? We missed you.

For those of you unfamiliar, here’s what you should know about The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program: in this show, our cast actually lives the terror.

This is an improvised audio drama, where anything can happen—and these poor souls never know what’s going to hit them. We use Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu tabletop roleplaying game to weave these uncanny stories. Heh. But the word “game” is something of a misnomer. You see, this is so much more than a game.

Our players are our writers, too. They set the pace for the visceral scenes you’re about to hear. These adventures are recorded live and then dynamically embellished with additional story content and cinematic soundscapes by our crack team of technicians and musicians. In fact, in this installment of our show, we’re upping the ante on our audio design.

You might feel like you’re actually in the room as these horrible things happen...

Please keep in mind that these are dark tales, so do heed each episode’s content warnings.

Folks, I certainly don’t want to drown you in preamble, but before I fling you headlong into an all-new auditory nightmare, I have an exciting announcement concerning the future of The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program.

Our team has been plotting and scheming behind the scenes to devise how to bring you new terror-tickling tales at regular intervals. Fortunately, the storytelling scientists at Omniverse have devised a solution.

We have several all-new series of Mystery Program recorded, but we can’t finish them without your help. So, like many radio programs before us, we’re launching a crowdfunding campaign which will run throughout the duration of this series. If you love our enthralling expansions of Lovecraft-ian lore, please consider contributing. Just head to Cthulhumystery.com/crowdfund.

Stay tuned after the episode and I’ll share more details on what titillating treasures and Cthulhu Mysteries await the generous souls who join us.

But for now, and at long last...  Let’s go back...way, way back.

The year is 1920. August. The last days of summer. Do you know where your children are?

Well, for their sake, let’s hope they’re not getting into trouble. Let’s hope they’re not like these young fools who’d dare to trespass in places best left forgotten. Let’s hope they can survive the gauntlet of horrors that await them when they spend a Night in Howling House.

[The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program intro plays—sinister]

GRUFF VOICE:
Do you hear that?

[SFX: Eerie wailing]

GRUFF VOICE:
In the cruel blackness of night, an unknowable evil from beyond time cries out! What dark deeds unfold on the streets of Arkham? And which unwitting souls, innocent or impure, will succumb to the maddening call? The Call...of Cthulhu!

[Music swells and fades]

ANNOUNCER:
Expurgo Cleaning Powder brings you Part 1 of The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program: Night at Howling House. Tonight’s chilling chapter: “The Dare.”

Are you haunted by the phantom of filth? Do you dread dark corners and dusty spaces, engulfed with goop and grime? Does a sour scent slink into your schnoz like a sickening specter assailing your senses? Say, “BE GONE” to those foul spirits and awful apparitions! Help is HERE, simply exclaim: “EXPURGO!”

Devilish dirt belongs in Beelzebub’s boudoir, not your sanctum sanctorum. Turn your haunted mansion into a delightful and dazzling domicile and never again fall prey to the poltergeist of putrescence. Purify your palace with the patented potency and cleansing power of Expurgo Cleaning Powder!

And now, our primary presentation.

[Music fades into pleasant outdoor afternoon noises]

[SFX: Birds twittering]

[SFX: Dog barking]

KEEPER:
It’s a bright summer afternoon in Arkham, Massachusetts and that’s a precious thing. A new school year and the turning of the leaves are right around the corner. There isn’t a young person in New England that isn’t making the most of a Saturday like this one. Especially twelve-year-old tenderfoot, Thomas Northwood—who, true to the Scouts’ motto, is always prepared.

WOODS:
Canteen in case she gets thirsty. Binoculars in case she wants to look at a bird. Neckerchief ironed and tied—

[SFX: Rustle of fabric]

WOODS:
—tight. Hat…ha! Lookin’ sharp there, Woods. And the knife. Uhh…better keep this tucked away for now. Yessir! Looking sharp. Dorothy Pickett, if there was a merit badge for making a fella’s stomach do cartwheels, oh, you’d have it! Okay.

[SFX: Door opens]

KEEPER:
He takes a deep breath and leaves his bedroom—

[SFX: Door slams shut]

KEEPER:
—with a formal air about him. Out the door and down the stairs to face the day ahead.

[SFX: Heavy footfalls on a staircase]

CHELSEA:
Where’re you going, all fancied up?

WOODS:
I’m going out, Chelsea.

CHELSEA:
To a Scout meeting?

[SFX: Door opens]

WOODS:
Nope, nope, not a Scout meeting.

CHELSEA:
I want to come.

WOODS:
Well, you can’t.

CHELSEA:
Tommy, Mema says you have to take me out with you.

WOODS:
No, Grandma said I should take you out with me more often. We can go somewhere later.

CHELSEA:
But Tommy it’s—

WOODS:
[Frustrated]
CHELSEA. I will take you out LATER.

[SFX: Door slams shut]

CHELSEA:
[Muffled, from inside]
MEMA!

[SFX: Birds chirping]

[SFX: Dog barking]

KEEPER:
Tommy Northwood, or “Woods” as the other kids call him, knows he should be courteous and kind to his little sister.

WOODS:
But a mission like this is no place for a tagalong!

[Music: Intrepid, determined tune]

MILLIE:
Here’s my ballot!

DOTS:
Here’s my ballot first.

DOROTHY:
Now, now, citizens. One at a time, please. Let’s use some decorum. I know you’re excited to vote. Let’s see here...

KEEPER:
There she is, the apple of Woods’s eye: the meticulous and tough Dorothy Pickett. She’s in her front yard using an upended fruit crate as a podium, presiding over her two little sisters.

MILLIE:
My pie is going to win!

DOTS:
Nuh-uh!

DOROTHY:
It’s important to vote for the most qualified pie for the position in question.

MILLIE:
Being delicious!

WOODS:
Uh…before I walk into view, I’ve got this sheathed hunting knife with a polished ivory handle. I’m gonna fix it to my belt.

KEEPER:
Okay.

DOROTHY:
The votes have been tallied. The competition was fierce. It’s my honor to announce that rhubarb has been elected best pie in Arkham. Peach, cherry, and apple: better luck next time. The people have decided!

DOTS:
No fair! I voted for cherry!

DOROTHY:
I’m sorry Dots, sometimes the person you vote for doesn’t win.

DOTS:
But I voted for cherry.

MILLIE:
Next can we vote on which circus animal?

DOROTHY:
Maybe next time pies are up for election you could join cherry’s campaign. Millie: which circus animal what?

MILLIE:
Which circus animal…is the president?

[SFX: Tramping footsteps]

DOROTHY:
Heh.

WOODS:
Hi, Dorothy.

DOROTHY:
Oh, hi, Woods.

MILLIE:
Are you a policeman?

WOODS:
I’m a Boy Scout.

MILLE:
I vote you’re a policeman.

DOTS:
We’re playing “VOTES”. I voted in the election and now my cat Chester is the Senator.

WOODS:
Is that a fact?

DOROTHY:
[Speaking while writing]
The importance of the 19th Amendment is lost on them, but they were excited. I thought the least I could do is encourage their sense of civic duty. Plus it helps with their reading.

WOODS:
Congratulations on that, by the way. I’ve always believed that women deserve the same rights as men.

DOROTHY:
You’re looking very formal.

WOODS:
Just wearing my standard uniform as per regulation. I actually wanted to see if you were—

DOROTHY:
Okay, citizens, here are your ballots. Now, be sure to vote someplace private, so no one else can see. In fact, you should go into the house to vote.

MILLIE and DOTS:
Okay!

DOROTHY:
[Calling after]
And remember to sound out the letters!
[To Woods]
Let’s go over to the apple tree.

KEEPER:
Woods, Dorothy’s attention has turned to you entirely. She starts walking to a tree in a more secluded corner of the yard.

WOODS:
Gosh, okay. I’m following.

[SFX: Careless footsteps]

KEEPER:
You’re so distracted that you fail to notice the eyes of someone watching you.

[SFX: Dramatic stinger]

WOODS:
It’s really admirable that you’re assisting your sisters’ education like that.

DOROTHY:
Women have to look out for each other. You should bring Chelsea over sometime. The girls could play together.

WOODS:
[Nervous and ashamed]
Ah…sure.

DOROTHY:
Is that a first aid merit badge?

WOODS:
That’s the Safety First badge, actually. And that’s why it’s got the green cross. First Aid is red. I’m still studying for that. But Scout Master Danvers said that he’s never seen a Scout earn two badges so quickly. And soon this sleeve is going to be covered in badges.

DOROTHY:
What’s the one with the drafting dividers?

WOODS:
Oh! That’s craftsmanship. There are several focuses to choose from. I got mine in woodcarving! Actually, I wanted to show you this.
And I unclasp and unsheathe the knife.

[SFX: Dramatic stinger]

KEEPER:
The light through the leaves catches on the blade. It’s a beautiful piece: aged, but clearly well-kept.

DOROTHY:
Can I touch it?

WOODS:
If you want. But be sure to use the proper handling safety.

[SFX: Clasp unbuckling]

WOODS:
I take it out and hold the sheath in my left hand and the blade in my right so that she’s not going to accidentally cut herself.

KEEPER:
She carefully and purposefully takes the knife from you, Woods.

DOROTHY:
It’s heavier than it looks.

WOODS:
Well, it’s for skinning wild game and just about anything else you’d need on the trail. Dorothy, this isn’t the appropriate knife for it, but I was thinking that maybe I could carve your name on this tree.

DOROTHY:
Well, maybe I could carve yours.

[SFX: Bushes rustling]

[SFX: Dramatic stinger]

KEEPER:
There’s a sudden rustling in the bushes. It’s so close you don’t have time to react.

ROGER:
What a lovely scene. Mind if I cut in?

[SFX: Shoving, scuffling]

ROGER:
I deftly take the knife from dear little Dorothy’s hand—

[SFX: Skirmish, tussling]

DOROTHY:
[Gasps]

ROGER:
—grabbing her wrist so she lets go easy.

KEEPER:
Standing between you the two of you, now brandishing that hunting knife, is Roger Simmons, a lanky, fourteen-year-old ruffian with slicked back hair and a menacing smile—the biggest bully you know.

ROGER:
I flash that “menacing smile” and look Woods dead in the eye.
Nice knife.

WOODS:
Give it back, Roger!
I’m gonna try and grab it from him.

KEEPER:
Roll Dexterity.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
83 over my 65. I fail!

ROGER:
Nuh-uh!
I saw that coming a mile away and I casually lift the knife over my head.

[SFX: Flailing]

WOODS:
Roger!

DOROTHY:
Roger Simmons, I will not hesitate to alert the authorities!

ROGER:
And what, tell them lover boy, here, is a thief?  

DOROTHY:
What?

ROGER:
Oh, yeah, this knife belongs to Scoutmaster Danvers, isn’t that right, Woods?

WOODS:
That’s my father’s knife. He gave—gave it to me for my birthday just before he died.

KEEPER:
Dorothy is watching your face, Woods. If you want this lie to hold, roll “Be Sneaky” for me.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
61 out of 40. Darn it!

ROGER:
Oh-ho-ho, your dad’s? Was your mamma fadoodling the Scoutmaster?

WOODS:
What?

ROGER:
I KNOW this knife. The pride and joy of Scout-bastard Reginald Danvers. Wears it on his hip every camping trip. Talks about it every chance he gets. His grandpappy stabbed an Indian with it or somethin’.

WOODS:
[Shaky]
No, Roger. That is my father’s knife. And I will thank you to return it to me.

ROGER:
A thief and a liar, Woods? I’ll admit. Took balls to pinch something like this. Was it just to impress little Dorothy here?

WOODS:
I—

DOROTHY:
Is it true, Tommy?

ROGER:
You know, they kicked me out so I can’t quite remember the Oath. What’s the first thing that a Scout is?

WOODS:
[Quietly]
Trustworthy…

ROGER:
What’s that?

WOODS:
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and…reverent. Dorothy, I did take it, it’s just that I didn’t mean to… I was gonna give it right back! And then—now it’s all… And I—

KEEPER:
Dorothy doesn’t need to say a word; the look on her face says everything. She turns from you and walks back into the house.

[SFX: Somber footsteps]

WOODS:
I’m sorry.

MILLE:
Dorothy! Our votes are done!

DOTS:
Tally the votes, please!

DOROTHY:
In the house, girls.

MILLIE:
But the votes—!

DOROTHY:
We’ll tally them in the house.

WOODS:
[Broken up]
Roger, you—rat. Give me back that knife or I swear…

ROGER:
[Laughs]
I’ll give you back the knife, Woods. On one condition.

WOODS:
What?

ROGER:
Tonight, at dusk, you are going to meet me out in front of the old Barnaker House.

WOODS:
[Nervous]
Howling House? Why?

ROGER:
Oh, it’s a surprise, Woods. But don’t worry. Nothing a big, brave Boy Scout can’t handle. You do this, and you get your knife back.
I point the blade at him for emphasis.

WOODS:
How can I trust you?

ROGER:
Why, haven’t you heard of honor among thieves?
I tuck the knife in my belt, under my jacket, and slink away into the shrubbery.

[SFX: Rustling bushes]

ROGER:
See ya tonight, Woods!

WOODS:
[Muttering under his breath]
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. A Scout is trustworthy, loyal…

[He slaps himself]

A Scout is loyal.

[He slaps himself]

A Scout is loyal

[Music swells and fades]

[SFX: Car speeding down a road]

ROGER:
The day isn’t getting any longer, so I’m meeting up with my protégé, Joey Davenport: a troublemaker in the making. A bright young man with an incredible future in the illicit arts.

KEEPER:
You’re strolling along West Washington Street. It’s a quiet enough neighborhood, and you’re minding your own business on the way to Joey’s. But there’s a Model-T with the top down—

[SFX: Car motoring along a road]

KEEPER:
—coming down the other side of the road. You don’t think much of it, but then

ACE:
[Shouting from a distance]
Roger! ROGER!

[SFX: Tires squealing on pavement]

KEEPER:
It peels sharply into a U-turn. It’s your older brother, Ace.

ROGER:
[Hissing under his breath]
Step-brother.

[SFX: Thuds, sounds of a skirmish]

ROGER:
What do you want, Ace?

ACE:
You little shit! Where the f—

[SFX: Heavy thuds]

ACE:
Where have you been? Mother’s been worrying herself sick over you.

ROGER:
Please. She’s been sick since the Krauts blew Nicky to pieces.

ACE:
You…bastard!

KEEPER:
Ace—

[SFX: Sharp, stinging slap]

KEEPER:
—backhands you across your face.

ROGER:
I take it. And I smile.

KEEPER:
He hits you hard enough to break the skin on your inner lip, and a sour taste runs across your tongue.

[SFX: Semi truck speeds on by]

ROGER:
I ain’t even that bitch’s son! What’s it matter if I come or go?

KEEPER:
He slaps you again.

[SFX: Sharp, stinging slap]

ACE:
After all she’s done for you!

KEEPER:
It feels like your insides are quivering.

ROGER:
I guess that makes you a son of a bitch, Ace.

ACE:
Get in the car.

ROGER:
I. Stare. Him. Down.

ACE:
I said get in the damn car!

KEEPER:
Roger, Ace is going to pick you up and throw you in the back of that car.

ROGER [Out of Character]:
I roll to Dodge. 51 over 50. Fuck me.

KEEPER:
Yeah, he’s much bigger than you and in an instant—

ROGER:
[Grunting. Panting.]

KEEPER:
—he’s got you by the back of your shirt and the seat of your pants—

ROGER:
Let go!

[SFX: Scuffling]

KEEPER:
—and he hurls you in the back of the Model-T.

[SFX: Car door slams]

[SFX: Car peels off]

ACE:
You aren’t flying the coop again. You hear me? It’s lockdown for you, my lad. And Wilbraham Academy on Monday morning. No more truancy, no more thieving, no more disappearing, no more being a spoiled brat delinquent. They’ll make a decent man out of you.

ROGER:
Oh, like you? Big strong war hero with nothing better to do than slap around a kid?

ACE:
Maybe those headmasters will knock some sense into that block of yours. Lord knows I’ve got better things to do than chase you down so Mother doesn’t have a fit.

ROGER:
Well, then, I think you’ll all be happier with me gone.
When he slows down at the next intersection I am out of there!

KEEPER:
Roll “Gym Class” to leap safely out of the back of the Model-T.

ROGER [Out of Character]:
Heh, that’s a 46 out of my 55.

KEEPER:
You deftly vault out of the back—

[SFX: Metallic thud]

KEEPER:
—hit the street running.

[SFX: Racing footsteps]

ROGER:
Ha! Toodles!

ACE:
Roger? God dammit! You…!

ROGER:
I’m headed towards alleys, side yards, woods. Whatever it takes. I’m gonna disappear.

KEEPER:
Ace slams on the breaks—

[SFX: Tires squeal on pavement]

KEEPER:
—and parks the car to give chase, Roger, but you’re fast.

ACE:
[Breathing hard and fast]

KEEPER:
You round the corner of a house, and skid through a fence hole—

[SFX: Rattle of a chainlink fence]

KEEPER:
—into the nearby thicket, and you’re gone!

ROGER:
[Laughs]

ACE:
Roger! Aaarrrrgghh! You bastard!

[Music swells and fades]

[SFX: Rooster crows]

[SFX: Chickens cluck]

[SFX: Flies buzz]

KEEPER:
The afternoon light is fading closer and closer to dusk and the appointment at Howling House. On the outskirts of Arkham, not too far away, is a ramshackle farm and an eleven-year-old boy shaking with terror…in a chicken run.

DIRT:
I’m sorry, Mother. I promise I’ll be a good boy but—

[SFX: Chicken clucks loudly]

DIRT:
[Shrieks]
Oh, God! They just—I can’t! Stay away! I have a—I have a hoe.

[SFX: Metallic scraping]

DIRT:
Please, chickens. Mother says I should be strong and.. Please, I have to... scrape

[SFX: Metallic scraping]

DIRT’S FATHER:
Boy!

DIRT:
[Panicked yelp]

DIRT’S FATHER:
Boy!

DIRT:
No, no, no! Nooooo…

DIRT’S FATHER:
You haven’t done a thing!

DIRT:
I’m so sorry, Father. I’m so sorry. They came for me and—

[SFX: Chickens squawking]

DIRT:
No, no, noooo!

[SFX: Gulping liquid]

DIRT’S FATHER:
You little coward.     

[SFX: Bottle set down on wood]

DIRT:
I am a little coward. Whatever you want me to be, Daddy, I will be that.

DIRT’S FATHER:
Then why aren’t these chicken coops clean? Why aren’t you sharp-minded or dead in the damn ground?

DIRT:
Please, Father, I’ll be good.

[SFX: Metallic clatter]

DIRT:
Oh, God!

DIRT’S FATHER:
You take the Lord’s name in vain?

DIRT:
No, Sir, I took him nowhere. The Lord is in me. He goes where I go, Father!

DIRT’S FATHER:
You aren’t a fitting vessel! You know what you are.

DIRT:
Yes, Father, I do.

DIRT’S FATHER:
Say it!

DIRT:
I’m fil- filthy dirt. I am a dirt man. I am a man made of dirt. I am but a boy made of dirt, not a man.

DIRT’S FATHER:
You’re nothing. And you haven’t done anything so you won’t get anything. No supper for you.

DIRT:
Yes, Sir.

[SFX: Metallic scraping]

DIRT’S FATHER:
[Muttering to himself]
Practically night already and the damn coops aren’t even clean.

DIRT:
I’m so sorry, Father.

DIRT’S FATHER:
Get outta my sight!

DIRT:
Very well. I will partake in fun with my friends now.

DIRT’S FATHER:
[Laughs]
You haven’t got any friends!

DIRT:
That is true. I have no friends.

[SFX: Metallic scraping]

DIRT:
I am he who is empty inside, but full of the things that insects crawl around in. I will go now, Father.

[SFX: Rickety door slams shut]

[SFX: Birds twittering]

KEEPER:
It’s better out here, Dirt. Quieter. No more pecking, scratching chickens cluttering up your mind.

DIRT:
Mother told me to be brave, and I tried but…

KEEPER:
It’s okay now, it’s okay. Your friend Roger asked you to come out tonight.

DIRT:
I’m so glad we’re friends. He saw me light a fire one time. He said it was good!

[SFX: Water pump is primed]

[SFX: Water splashing]

DIRT:
So I must’ve done something good. But he asked me to go to a scary place.

KEEPER:
Yes, he did, but it can’t be any scarier than those chickens, right?

DIRT:
No. No, it can’t be. I’m gonna bring some things he’ll like.
I go to a spot at the back of the house—

[SFX: Plodding footsteps]

DIRT:
—the screen under the house that lifts up—

[SFX: Hatch opens]

DIRT:
—and reach around, and I take out my slingshot and my magic box.

KEEPER:
It’s an old, worn tinder box covered in crude drawings. Did you do these drawings, Dirt?

DIRT:
Yeah. To keep them safe.

KEEPER:
And what’s inside?

DIRT:
[Hushed, secretive]
My matches—

[SFX: Loose matches rattle]

DIRT:
—and my firecrackers. I’m not supposed to have them.

KEEPER:
Oh, I won’t tell.

DIRT:
Thank you! You’re a good friend.

KEEPER:
Where are you going now, Dirt?

[SFX: Hatch door slams shut]

[SFX: Hesitant footsteps]

DIRT:
I put my treasures in my pockets and I’m going to see my friends.

[SFX: Footsteps fading]

[Music swells and fades]

[SFX: Warbling music on a phonograph]

KEEPER:
Meanwhile, back in town, we turn our attention to the Davenport household. A small, well-kept apartment, always filled with commotion. Two parents, three kids, and thirteen-year-old Joey right in the middle.

JOEY’S MOTHER:
Whose bicycle is this in the hallway?

JOEY:
[Shouting from another room]
That’s mine, Ma! It’s nice, right? I didn’t want to get it stolen, so I brought it inside.

JOEY’S MOTHER:
Uh-huh. Joseph Davenport. You look me right in the eyes and tell me you didn’t steal this bike. Because I swear—

JOEY:
Ma! No way! I didn’t steal a thing! I bought that with my own money!

JOEY’S MOTHER:
And where’d you get that money? I know you’re not shining shoes anymore.

JOEY:
I earned it fair and square.

JOEY’S MOTHER:
Oh, yeah? You runnin’ another policy racket?

[SFX: Faucet running]

JOEY’S MOTHER:
Shakin’ kids down for “protection”?

JOEY:
No, Ma! I’m done with all that, I swear, Ma. I swear.

JOEY’S MOTHER:
You takin’ handouts from that Simmons kid?

JOEY:
Ma, no!

[SFX: Clatter of teapot]

JOEY:
I’ve been helping Mr. Diamond, alright?

JOEY’S MOTHER:
Lord, don’t tell me my son is working at a speakeasy.

[SFX: Ceramic clatter]

JOEY:
No way! I’m just movin’ boxes for him. He had to close the bar, Ma.

JOEY’S MOTHER:
Uh-huh. And just what kind of operation do you think he’s runnin’ now?

JOEY:
How am I supposed to know? I just do the job and it pays.

JOEY’S MOTHER:
Well, it’s not paying any more. You don’t take another cent from that man. You hear me?

JOEY:
[Sighs]
Yes, Ma’am.

JOEY’S MOTHER:
And don’t you run any errands for him. Not now, not ever.

JOEY:
Yes, Ma’am.

[SFX: Tea kettle whistles]

JOEY’S MOTHER:
And as for this…

[SFX: Bicycle rattles]

JOEY:
Ma, no, I told you, the bike isn’t stolen. I bought it from Mr. Parker!

JOEY’S MOTHER:
Well, you’re not gonna see this bicycle until I check with Mr. Parker and make sure my son is being honest with me.

JOEY:
But—but Ma!

JOEY’S MOTHER:
Not another word.

[SFX: Quick, emotional footsteps]

JOEY:
[Grunts]

[SFX: Door slams]

JOEY:
[Groans]
No one believes me!

JOEY’S LITTLE SISTER:
You got in trouble.

JOEY:
Even when I’m not doin’ anything I’m in trouble.

JOEY’S LITTLE SISTER:
You’re always doin’ somethin’.

JOEY:
And you’re always not mindin’ your own business. If I hadn’ta brought the bike in the hall she wouldn’t have even noticed…

[SFX: Pebble tossed against glass]

JOEY AND JOEY’S LITTLE SISTER:
Huh?

KEEPER:
Joey—

[SFX: Pebble tossed against glass]

KEEPER:
someone’s throwing pebbles at your window.

[SFX: Footsteps]

JOEY:
I’m gonna walk over and see what’s up.

[SFX: Pebble tossed against glass]

[SFX: Window rattles open]

KEEPER:
You open the window and out in the alley is your friend, Roger Simmons. He’s straddling a bicycle.

JOEY:
Roger! Where’ve you been, man?

ROGER:
I had another pebble ready to go, so I throw it at his face anyway.

[SFX: Sharp smack]

JOEY:
Ah! God!

ROGER:
[Shouting up]
Saddle up, Joey! Mayhem awaits!

JOEY:
Who’s “Mayhem”? Is he new? Is that new guy?

ROGER:
Just get your butt down here!
I throw another pebble at him.

[SFX: Sifting pebbles]

[SFX: Sharp smack]

JOEY:
Ah! Alright! Alright!

[SFX: Window slams shut]

JOEY’S SISTER:
Mama’s gonna be maaad if she finds out you’re runnin’ off with that white boy again.

JOEY:
Well, you tell Ma, and that candy supply of yours is gonna dry up.

[SFX: Determined footsteps]

[SFX: Door opens]

JOEY’S SISTER:
Stool pigeon ain’t gonna sing if she’s got that bird seed.

JOEY:
Attagirl.

[SFX: Door slams shut]

KEEPER:
Down in the alley, Roger—

[SFX: Door creaks open]

KEEPER:
—Joey’s come out, but he doesn’t have a bike.

[SFX: Door creaks shut]

ROGER:
Where’s that new bike of yours?

JOEY:
Ah, my mom didn’t believe me that I bought it, so she took it. That’s not your bike.

ROGER:
It is now! I pinched it on my way here. Go get the damn bike! Time’s a’wastin’ and I’ve put together an evening of activities.

JOEY:
I can’t, Roger! It’s locked up, man! Lemme ride on your handlebars.

ROGER:
Hell, no! Steal your own bike!

JOEY:
It’s no big deal, man. Remember that time we booked it after we crashed Danny’s birthday party?

ROGER:
[Sighs heavily]

JOEY:
Was it a good time? Didn’t we have a good time? Can’t we get together and have a good time on the bike?

ROGER:
If you think for a second that I’m haulin’ your ass around again…

KEEPER:
Roger, it’s getting late and thanks to Ace you’re already behind schedule. What’s more, the wind is picking up—

[SFX: Distant thunder]

KEEPER:
—and there are clouds on the horizon.

ROGER:
Get on.

JOEY:
Ha!

[SFX: Metallic clink of handlebars]

ROGER:
But this ain’t happening again!

JOEY:
[Laughs]
Let’s go!

[SFX: Bike horn toots]

ROGER:
[Sighs heavily]

JOEY:
C’mon let’s go! C’mon, Roger, let’s go!

[SFX: Bike shifts gears]

ROGER:
[Labored breathing]
Easy…for you…to say.

JOEY:
So what’s the plan, Roger?

ROGER:
We’re gonna have us a little party at the old Barnaker House and make the night a living hell—

[SFX: Distant thunder rumbles]

ROGER:
—for our two favorite saps: Dirt and Woods!

JOEY:
Ha-ha! How’d you rope them in?

ROGER:
Oh, I’ve got something on that goody two-shoes Boy Scout. He’s not as clean as he makes himself out to be. And Dirt, hahaha! That little pushover was excited! There’s not a single human being asking to get his face punched in more than him. And he’ll kiss my ass while I’m doing it!

JOEY:
The mechanics of that don’t really work out, boss.

ROGER:
Whatever! Just get ready, ’cause we’re gonna have ourselves a feast of torment.
[Laughs]

JOEY:
I already ate, but yeah! Let’s mess ’em up!

[SFX: Bike horn toots]

ROGER:
[Laughs maniacally]

[Music swells and fades]

KEEPER:
Meanwhile, back at the house of little Tommy Northwood…

[SFX: Phonograph playing in the distance]

WOODS:
Okay, I’ve got my pocket knife, my BB gun, trail mix, canteen, first aid kit, and operational flashlight.

[SFX: Flashlight clicks on and off]

WOODS:
This is a fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into, Woods. But you’re gonna make it right. You’re gonna make it right.

[SFX: Door slams shut]

[SFX: Ponderous footsteps]

WOODS:
[Calling out]
Goodbye, Grandma, I’m heading out!

GRANDMA NORTHWOOD:
Not so fast, young man. I believe you have a promise to keep.

KEEPER:
Woods, you turn around and there beside the staircase is your grandmother, looking kindly, but stern. Next to her is your adorable eight-year-old sister, Chelsea.

WOODS:
[Sighing]
Oh, Grandma, please. It’s the last weekend before school starts and I’m gonna be with the guys. I can’t take Chelsea. Not tonight.

GRANDMA NORTHWOOD:
You can and you will, young man.

CHELSEA:
Oh! Charlie should come, too.
I real quick run to my room—

[SFX: Quick, excited footsteps]

CHELSEA:
—to get my stuffed horse, Charlie.

WOODS:
I just don’t think Chelsea will have a good time and we might be out really late.

GRANDMA NORTHWOOD:
Then don’t stay out late. Come back home when your sister is tired. And if the boys get too rowdy, ask them kindly to stop and if they don’t, you leave.

WOODS:
But Grandma!

GRANDMA NORTHWOOD:
No “buts,” Thomas! She needs more time outside the house. You know how she is.

KEEPER:
Woods, your grandmother sits down in the chair next to you—

[SFX: Scraping of chair legs]

KEEPER:
—and compassionately looks you in the eyes.

GRANDMA NORTHWOOD:
I need your help, honey. I’m not as young as I used to be. And I know you must miss your mother and father as much as I do. Just think of Chelsea. Think about how much she must be hurting.

WOODS:
Grandma, I…

GRANDMA NORTHWOOD:
She needs her brother. She needs someone to watch out for her. She’s got more energy than I can manage. And besides, you made a promise.

WOODS:
Of course. A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean…and reverent.

GRANDMA NORTHWOOD:
Good boy.

CHELSEA:
Charlie is excited to go out! He’s got his saddle on and everything.

GRANDMA NORTHWOOD:
You’re such a handsome horse, Charlie!

CHELSEA:
He says,
[Whinnying]
Thaaank youuu.

GRANDMA NORTHWOOD:
You two have fun! Don’t stay out too late!

WOODS:
Alright. Come on, Chelsea.

CHELSEA:
Hold on! I need to hug Mema.

GRANDMA NORTHWOOD:
Mm, thank you, honey. You and Charlie have a great time. You take care of both of them now, Tommy.

WOODS:
Absolutely. I will take care of Charlie, the horse and Chelsea, my sister. Alright. C’mon, Chelsea.
I take hold of Chelsea’s hand.
Goodbye, Grandma!

[SFX: Door opens]

CHELSEA:
Bye, Mema!

GRANDMA NORTHWOOD:
Have fun.

[SFX: Door slams shut]

[SFX: Footsteps]

WOODS:
Okay, Chelsea, here’s the thing: could you… Could you just—could you just not talk the entire time that we’re out? Could you just be my silent sister? Could you just do that for me? Once?

CHELSEA:
Is Dorothy gonna be there?

WOODS:
No. Is Dorothy one of the guys?

CHELSEA:
No?

WOODS:
No, she is not. And she will not be there.

CHELSEA:
But you looooove her.

WOODS:
We’re not talking about her and we’re not talking about me. We’re talking about you and how I am kindly asking you to please be quiet tonight because this isn’t something where someone should have their little sister tagging along!

CHELSEA:
Well, I think that’s rude.

WOODS:
Well, I’m sorry but that’s how it is. And not only are you not going to talk, but I need you to understand that whatever happens tonight you’re not going to talk about that either.

CHELSEA:
Why?

WOODS:
Well, we’re going to meet up with this guy, Roger. And he’s a little rough around the edges, but he’s okay. And he makes a lot of jokes. And maybe they’re…a little off-color. Things that little girlslittle sisters—shouldn’t hear.

CHELSEA:
Well, if little girls don’t want to hear them, then I don’t want to hear them.

WOODS:
Well, that’s great, you can turn around and go home right now. Take Charlie!

CHELSEA:
Nuh-uh.

WOODS:
Chelsea, please.

CHELSEA:
Nuh-uh.

WOODS:
Please.

CHELSEA:
I hold up Charlie in front of my face to make him talk.
[Whinnying]
I say thee neigh!

KEEPER:
While the Northwood siblings make their way down the quiet, dimming lane, one of Roger’s esteemed guests has already arrived at the Barnaker House. Dirt stands in an unlit street, bathed in eerie magenta twilight, as the sunlight meets the dark purple of the stormy night, creeping in from the east.

[SFX: Low rumbles of thunder]

DIRT:
Hello?

KEEPER:
There’s no reply, Dirt. Just the whispering of the trees.

DIRT:
[Whispers]
Tell me your secrets…

KEEPER:
The Barnaker House, or Howling House as it’s come to be called, is out on Hill Street, far on the edges of Uptown, in the relative outskirts of Arkham. The neighborhood is quite old—so old that most of the houses along this unpaved road are without electricity, gas, or town water.

[SFX: Creaking of shutters]

KEEPER:
Here, in the dusk, the sinister two-story Victorian is silhouetted by the setting sun, and the overgrown yard is pooled in shadow. Each peak and angle of the house’s spires and shingles feel almost reptilian, like a predator looming in the tall grass.

DIRT:
[Gulps]
Roger…?
Is there a fence? I’d like to walk up to the fence and see if Roger is here.

KEEPER:
Oh, there is a fence: a rusted wrought-iron fence that runs around the perimeter of the yard. There’s an ornate hinged gate that leads up to the front door, latched with a big padlock.

DIRT:
Roger? Friend? Are you here?

KEEPER:
Looking between the bars, you don’t see anyone, Dirt. But you can get a better look at the house itself. It’s in a sorry state. Its cobalt blue paint is stained and peeled. Entire patches of it are missing. All of the windows have been boarded shut, maybe to protect them from vandals. The yard itself is filled with sickly-looking trees. In the other yards of the neighborhood it’s still summer, but here you could mistake it for fall.

DIRT:
[Worried groan]
Where are my friends? My best friend said he would meet me here.
I'm gonna—can I? I’m gonna climb the fence, and knock on the door, and be polite.

KEEPER:
It’s a tall fence, topped with spikes of jagged metal—

[SFX: Rumble of thunder]

KEEPER:
—but the gate is flanked by stone pillars. You can probably climb your way to the top of one of those relatively easily. Give me a “Gym Class” roll.

DIRT [Out of Character]:
I only have 20. Oh, thank goodness! A 12!

KEEPER:
Your frail little hands are just the right size to get into the cracks and crannies of the rocks, and you lift yourself up on top of the pillar, beside the gate.

DIRT:
[Grunts laboriously]

KEEPER:
From there, Dirt, you still don’t see Roger. But you do hear something: flapping sounds.

DIRT:
Oh, no. No, no, no, no! No chickens! Please, no chickens! Please, oh, God! No chickens!

KEEPER:
From the house’s awnings, spilling out into the night sky—

[SFX: Flapping of wings]

[SFX: Screeching of bats]

DIRT:
Oh, Mother! Oh, God! Please!

KEEPER:
—are first one, then two, then dozens…of bats.

DIRT:
Oh, thank goodness! Friends!

KEEPER:
The bats swarm, and dip, and fly in a flurry all around you.

DIRT:
[Giggles]
Oh, bats! Please be my friends, bats!
[Out of Character]:

I wanna roll “To Be A Pal.” And I rolled 33 out of 75 so these bats are now my friends and they’re with me forever.

KEEPER:
Oh, they love you. Maybe it’s your chicken coop aroma luring in the juicy bugs. Or maybe it’s your good vibes—

DIRT:
[Giggles maniacally]

KEEPER:
—and high-pitched shrieks. But the bats swarm around you briefly in an embrace of leathery wings and chirps, before going forth into the night sky.

DIRT:
[Laughs exuberantly]
Be my mommy, bats! Sweet bats!

KEEPER:
And Dirt?

DIRT:
What?

KEEPER:
You hear one of those high-pitched chirps—

[SFX: High-pitched chirp]

KEEPER:
—next to your head.

DIRT:
Huh?

KEEPER:
There’s a little bat attached to your jacket.

[SFX: Frantic fluttering of wings]

DIRT:
Sweet bat! Shh…shh…
I want to cuddle my little bat.
Maybe I can be your mommy, too.

[SFX: Chirping]

KEEPER:
As you’re plucking the trapped bat from your jacket, you see in the distance a pair of figures approaching down the road.

CHELSEA:
Tommy! Tommy, you didn’t tell Mema it would be this house! Who’s that weird guy?

WOODS:
I—look, Chelsea, it’s fine. It’s fine. This is where Roger told me to meet him. I didn’t know that Dirt was gonna be here, but it’s fine. We’re gonna be fine.

CHELSEA:
Mema says we’re not allowed to go to this house. We’re not even supposed to be on this side of town!

WOODS:
Well, Chelsea, if you don’t like it you could turn around and go home. You could take Charlie, and you could turn around, and go home right now.

CHELSEA:
Go home. By myself?

[SFX: Train whistle]

WOODS:
Yes.

CHELSEA:
[Forcefully]
By myself?

WOODS:
Fine. Alright. Come with me. Dirt’s here. He’s a great guy! Uh…

DIRT:
Bats! Bats!
I put my bat friend in my pocket to keep them safe. Maybe if I collect more, we could be a family.
I need more bats! Give me bats! Come here, bats!

WOODS:
See?

DIRT:
Bats?

WOODS:
He’s friends with bats. He’s calling to bats.

DIRT:
Bats! Bats!

CHELSEA:
I don’t like bats, Tommy.

DIRT:
You can eat my skin! It’s all I have. My skin is a snack! Come eat it, bats!

CHELSEA:
Are you even listening to him?

WOODS:
C-come on.
[Calling out]
Hey, Dirt! Dirt. Hey!

DIRT:
Oh! Hey, you. Woodsy.

CHELSEA:
Hi, Dirt.

WOODS:
Hey, Dirt.

DIRT:
Hello, friends.

WOODS:
What are you doing here?

DIRT:
I have—look at all these new friends in the sky! They’re bats. And they’re gonna be my new family.

CHELSEA:
Those are vampire bats!

WOODS:
Dirt, it is my duty to tell you that bats carry rabies.

DIRT:
I mean, that’s okay. My grandma had rabies. And, so…

WOODS:
Have you been bitten?

DIRT:
I would—

WOODS:
Have you been bitten?

DIRT:
Who care—? Yeah. No. Maybe?

WOODS:
Okay. Because I have a first aid kid in my pack. And if you are in need of medical assistance, I am here to take care of you, Dirt.

DIRT:
I’m gonna climb down the way I came.

[SFX: Fence creaks and rattles]

Dirt:
I’m okay but if you want to stick me with something, if that’s your wish, if that’ll make you happy, do that.

CHELSEA:
Tommy, I wanna go!

WOODS:
Okay, Chelsea—!

DIRT:
You know first aid—

CHELSEA:
Tommy!

DIRT:
—and you wanna put a needle in me—

CHELSEA:
I wanna go!

WOODS:
Okay, Chelsea!

DIRT:
—and that’ll make you happy, then gosh darn—

CHELSEA:
Tommy. This is not good.

DIRT:
—you should put a needle in me.

CHELSEA:
Tommy, please!

[SFX: Thunder rumbles ominously]

DIRT:
I mean, you’re gonna—you’re gonna smile…

WOODS:
Chelsea. Just calm down. Everything’s gonna be fine. The bats are gone. It’s gonna be fine.

KEEPER:
Off in the distance, you hear something.

[SFX: Bike shifts gears]

ROGER:
Before we take the corner, you are getting off and you are walking behind me. I will not be seen riding up with you on the handlebars. This is it, pal.

JOEY:
I don’t know about that! We’re kinda going down a hill. I can’t get off like this!

ROGER:
You’d best get off ’cause I’m gonna brake! Come on, stupid!

JOEY:
Are—are we gonna do it? Gonna do it?

ROGER:
This is your stop, pal!

JOEY:
Are we gonna do it? Can we do it?

[SFX: Bike rattles]

ROGER:
Get. Your. Ass. Off.

JOEY:
When’re we gonna do it? You keep saying we’re doing it, but I don’t see us doing it!

ROGER:
Piece. Of. Shit—!

KEEPER:
Woods, Chelsea, and Dirt, you see a panicked Roger and Joey—

[SFX: Bike horn toots frantically]

KEEPER:
—spill into view from behind a ramshackle wood fence at the bottom of a hill. Roger is attempting to brake on a bicycle and Joey is riding on its handlebars.

[SFX: Bike horn toots, toots, toots]

WOODS:
Roger?

ROGER:
I dig my heels in and I bring this hunk of junk to a stop.

[SFX: Screech of tires on dirt]

KEEPER:
Joey, you’re not ready for that—

[SFX: A wheezing toot of the horn]

KEEPER:
—and you go flying off the handlebars.

JOEY:
[Surprised yelp]

[SFX: Heavy thud]

JOEY:
Aw, God dammit!

ROGER:
And I pose on the bike, trying to look cool.
Well, well, well, the loser patrol is all here.

JOEY:
Ugh…heh heh heh. Already here.

WOODS:
Oh, Roger. Why’d you—? Ugh.

JOEY:
[Laughing off his fall]
Look at you!

WOODS:
I didn’t know that Joey was gonna be here, too!

JOEY:
Oh, Joey D is here!

DIRT:
Friends!

JOEY:
I brush myself off and I walk over.
Hey, Dirt!

DIRT:
[Nervously]
Heeey, best pal.

ROGER:
I step off the bike and let it clatter to the ground—

[SFX: Bike clatters]

ROGER:
—pop the collar on my jacket and walk over to my good friend—

[SFX: Shoulder being punched]

ROGER:
—Woods. My hand firmly clamps on his shoulder.
Say, Woods, what’s with the tagalong?

WOODS:
My grandmother said that she had to come with me.

ROGER:
[Evil snickering]

JOEY:
Graaaaand momma’s boy.

WOODS:
It’s my duty to take care of my sister, and I am trustworthy and loyal to my family. It’s part of the Scouts’ code!

JOEY:
You know she’s gonna rat you out, right?

WOODS:
No, she’s not gonna rat me out!

CHELSEA:
I totally am gonna rat him—

WOODS:
Alright.

CHELSEA:
What does that mean? What does “rat out” mean?

WOODS:
Chelsea?

JOEY:
Nothing!

WOODS:
Chelsea? Pinky swear. Pinky swear that you’re not gonna tell Grandma about whatever happens here.

CHELSEA:
Tommy…

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I’m gonna “Be a Pal.” I’m gonna “Be a Pal” to my sister. I rolled a 92!

[Cast laughs]

WOODS [Out of character]:
I’m gonna push the roll. To—

KEEPER:
What’s your skill level?

WOODS [Out of Character]:
Uh…30.

[Cast laughs]

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I’m gonna push the roll to “Be a Pal” to my sister and I’m gonna—I’m gonna really look—I’m gonna get down…

WOODS:
So the first time I just give the pinky swear and now I’m gonna get down on her level. And I’m really gonna look her in the eye.
Chelsea. I’ve never asked anything else from you before, but I need to take care of something with Roger. And I need you to be a big girl. I need you to be a grown-up and…

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I rolled a 39. So I fail that one, too.

KEEPER:
With your utter sincerity, I’m going to give you a bonus die. Roll an extra tens-place. Take the better.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
Uh, so, 19.

KEEPER:
Chelsea, you think maybe you’re gonna give him the benefit of the doubt. Your brother, he’s brought you all the way out here into this strange situation, and he’s trusting you to be brave. So maybe you can impress him. Mmmmaybe Grandma doesn’t need to know about this.

CHELSEA:
What’re you gonna give me?

WOODS:
I am going to give you all of my Halloween candy.

CHELSEA:
Deal!

WOODS:
Okay…

JOEY:
Oh, man, that is the worst deal ever!

WOODS:
[Groans]

JOEY:
It’s not even Halloween yet! You don’t even know how much candy you’re gonna get! Ahhhh!

WOODS:
Shut up! It’s my little sister. It’s my little sister!

JOEY:
Whatever, dude. Whatever.

WOODS:
It’s my little sis—I have to get something from Rog—Chelsea, I have to get something from Roger. It is extremely important that I get this thing from Roger.

CHELSEA:
I’m gonna be a big girl. And we made a deal. I trust you, Tommy.

ROGER:
Oh, yeah.This Boy Scout here is so good, and faithful, and kind. So trustworthy; never a thief!
[Laughs]
No, never him. Oh, no, no.

CHELSEA:
Tommy’s not a thief. What are you talking about?

ROGER:
Oh, of course not!
I bend down to eye level with shortstop, here.
And what’s your name?

[SFX: Rumble of thunder]

CHELSEA:
He just said it. It’s Chelsea.

ROGER:
[Indignant]
I wasn’t paying attention! Now, Chelsea. I had my reservations about you coming along for this important mission, but you know what? I’m really glad you’re here. This is perfect. ’Cause we need five people to go into this house and spend the night. Because when school starts on Monday, we’re all gonna be crowned kings, and you’re gonna be crowned queen! No one’s ever conquered Howling House before and it’s gonna be us!

JOEY:
It’s gonna be us, guys!

CHELSEA:
And if we all die, it’s gonna be your fault.

ROGER:
We’ll be dead! Who cares?

WOODS:
Jeepers, Roger! This is—this is—this is—this is insane! I can’t stay the whole night!

ROGER:
No, no, no!
[Laughs]
What’s insane—oh, is if, like, you know,

[Hissing under his breath]

a true blue Boy Scout would pinch a knife from his Scout Master—

WOODS:
Oh—oh, okay. Roger…

ROGER:
That would be insane.

WOODS:
Roger!

ROGER:
[Laughs]
Right? That’d be crazy!

WOODS:
Let’s keep this between us. A gentleman’s agreement.

CHELSEA:
What is he talking about?

WOODS:
Nothing. He’s not—

ROGER:
Oh, just a hypothetical.

WOODS:
He’s not talking about anything.

ROGER:
I’m just saying. I’m just saying if he’s—if he’s all the Scout he thinks he is, then this should be no problem for him.

WOODS:
Alright, Roger, at the end of the night, you and me? We’re gonna have a conversation. We’re gonna have words after this is over.

CHELSEA:
You know, there used to be this family that lived in this house, and the family had a dad, and the dad met a witch, and the witch put a spell on the dad so he chopped the family up. And then he sold his family for meat. That’s what my neighbor Sophie told me. She wouldn’t let me play with her horse.

JOEY:
Nah, that’s not it. What I heard was there was an old ghost lady with a lantern walking around weeping all the time.

CHELSEA:
No, he sold his family for meat. That’s what Sophie—Sophie—

JOEY:
That’s not what I heard!

WOODS:
That’s not what I heard. When I was at camp last month, my camp counselor told me that a little girl died in that house.

CHELSEA:
What do you mean, a little girl?

WOODS:
The Briggs girl died. And she—a little girl died, Chelsea, in that house! And her ghost is still in there, crying! That’s why it’s called the Howling House—because all of the terrible noises that come out of it. And maybe this little girl should go home. Or you’ll be trapped howling in there, too!

CHELSEA:
[Indignant]
Alone?

WOODS:
Alone. In the house. Howling.

[SFX: Loud rumble of thunder]

WOODS:
For-ev-er.

CHELSEA:
That’s not what I mean. You want me to walk home? Alone?

WOODS:
It’s not that far, Chelsea. It’s still light out.

KEEPER:
And as you say that, a gust of wind—

[SFX: Wind eddies and swirls]

KEEPER:
—kicks up the dirt along the road. That storm that was coming—it’s almost here.

[SFX: Thunder rumbles]

WOODS:
Uh, I lick my finger and test the wind.
[Out of Character]: I’m gonna roll “Nature” to uh—I want to see how quickly the—the storm will… Okay. I rolled a 33. My skill is 80.

KEEPER:
Oh, this storm is coming on fast. You’ve only got a few minutes until the rain starts. And from the chill wind blowing, it’s gonna be a doozy.

WOODS:
Okay, everyone, there is a storm coming in and we need to seek appropriate shelter.

[SFX: Gusting winds]

WOODS:
And if we’re gonna do this, we have to do this now.

[SFX: Terrible, mournful howling shriek]

WOODS, CHELSEA, and DIRT:
[Screaming incoherently]

JOEY and ROGER:
[Laugh maniacally]

[SFX: Thunder rumbles]

WOODS:
On second thought, maybe we can make it home if we run really fast!

[SFX: Crack of thunder]

CHELSEA:
Tommy, Tommy, Tommy! What was that? Tommy, what was that? Was that the little girl? It didn’t sound like a little girl…

DIRT:
I cling to my friend Joey’s leg! I mean, I guess he’s my friend.

JOEY:
Hey, get off me, man. You’re crampin’ my style!

[SFX: A low rumble of thunder]

ROGER:
Aw, are the babies scared of a little wind and an old, rickety house? No, no! You’re not chickening out of this.

DIRT:
[Yelps]
Chickens!

ROGER:
I produce a ring of keys—

[SFX: Keys jangling]

ROGER:
—from my jacket and unlock the big padlock—

[SFX: Chains clank and rattle]

ROGER:
—letting it fall to the ground—

[SFX: Metallic clatter]

ROGER:
—and I push the rusted gate open.

[SFX: Rusty gate creaks open]

ROGER:
Viola! Welcome, lady and gentlemen to the most unforgettable night of your lives. Welcome to Howling House!

[SFX: Loud rumble of thunder]

ROGER:
[Laughs maniacally]

[SFX: Heavy rain falling]

[Dramatic rock music swells and fades]

NARRATOR:
And so our sinister story begins.

I can’t tell you, dear listeners, how good it feels to once again be tormenting your airwaves with our twisted tales.

Making a program like ours is no simple feat. That’s why, like that little voice in your basement at midnight, we’re calling on you…to join us. Head to CthulhuMystery.com/Crowdfund and pledge your demonic dinero to summon our next story.

It’s called “The Case of the Penumbral Gate,” and it’s our biggest adventure to date…in which two down-on-their luck Bureau of Investigation agents find themselves in Arkham. And as we all know, once you start snooping around in that town, you don’t get the dirt; the dirt gets you. Their paths collide with occultist investigators Estelle Thorpe and Anjana Ramakrishnan, and then… Well, even your wildest imaginings won’t prepare you for what comes next.  

“The Case of the Penumbral Gate’s” tabletop session has been recorded, but that’s the easy part. We’ll need your help to complete post-production with voice actors, music, and all the ominous bells and atonal whistles that you’ve come to expect from our program.

In return for your generous contribution? Not only will you get new episodes of this superb horror podcast, but we’ve got many rewards in store. For instance, we’re turning Keeper Luke Stram’s original Call of Cthulhu scenarios into illustrated and expanded roleplaying materials so you and your friends can not only hear the maddening call, but answer it as well—in your own tabletop games.

Looking for something even more unique and extravagant? We’re making sets of wooden fish coins to reward all those investigatory overachievers. You can also summon Estelle Thorpe for a seance or unpack your very own uncanny ephemera when we send you a real life Lot X. Much more info awaits you at CthulhuMystery.com/Crowdfund.

Now, how about something upbeat to shake off all that ominous thunderstorm blues? This is a pretty ditty by Tierney Tough: a tale of being all cooped up alone in an apartment and the mischief that a meandering mind makes. You may know Tierney from her fiery fronting of the band, The Pauses. But, appropriately for this solitary song, this is from her debut solo EP. The record is called A Farce to Be Reckoned With. And the song? This is “Apartment 54.” Knock, knock.

[Tierney Tough: “Apartment 54”]

ANNOUNCER:
Thanks for listening to The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program!

This series is recorded and produced in Central Florida and Nashville, Tennessee on lands stolen from their Indigenous people: the Timucua and Seminole, and Yuchi, Chickasaw, Shawnee, and Cherokee, respectively.

Acknowledgement of the first peoples of these lands, and the lasting repercussions of colonization is just the beginning of the restorative work that is necessary. Through awareness, we can prompt allyship, action, and ultimately decolonization. For links to aid indigenous efforts and to learn more about the first nations of the land where you live: visit cthulhumystery.com/landback.

If you enjoy our podcast broadcast, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser and be sure to subscribe to our series via your favorite podcast player to get all the latest episodes.

Episode 1: “The Dare,” was written and performed by Luke Stram, Cat Blackard, Chris LeBrane, Manda Bruno, Brandon Gerson, and Colin Peterson, with additional scripting and story editing by Cat Blackard and performances by Ebonie Ellington, Alicia Fuss, Sawyer Greene, Zachary Fortais-Gomm, Abigail, Dany, Jonathan West, and Cynthia Beckert.

Editing and mastering is by Executive Producers Colin Peterson and Cat Blackard with additional editing by Ricardo Lugo. It’s Produced by John Sebastian La Valle, and Jessica Mudd is Associate Producer.

Our original score is composed and performed by Ryan McQuinn and Mike McQuinn of Neon Dolphin—home for all your custom music needs and more. Neondolphinmusic.com.

The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program is proudly played using Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition. Night at Howling House is based on The Dare, a scenario by Kevin Ross with revisions by Bret Kramer, published by Sentinel Hill Press.

For full episode credits, transcripts, as well as character sheets and other supplemental material, visit CthulhuMystery.com.

This podcast would not be possible without the support of listeners like YOU and our incredible team of Patreon Producers:
Joe “Tank” Ricciardelli, MjolnirMK86, Sean Hutchinson, Sean T. Redd, Josh King, and Patrick Webster.

And our Executive Patreon producers:
BigBadShadowMan, Marcus Larsson, Jaimeson LaLone, and Becky Scott Fairley

Join the team at Patreon.com/OmniverseMedia!

All characters appearing are fictitious and any resemblances to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

This has been The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program. Goodnight!

[Music fades]

[Omniverse Audio Brand]