EPISODE 5: ROUGHHOUSE

The guests of Howling House are divided and a terrifying revelation awaits them on each floor of this sinister shanty.

 

All the way up in the attic, Dirt is alone in the world. Meanwhile, the Northwood siblings are on the second floor, studiously reading chilling accounts from the house's history and of the purported witch responsible. Lastly, Roger and Joey find themselves in the foyer, and at a critical juncture in their friendship.
 

Content Warning: Violence, gore, harsh language, child endangerment and abuse, insects, arachnids, bullying, death, and violence towards defenseless creatures.

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

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

Story Editing: Cat Blackard



Cast (In Order of Appearance):

Cat Blackard as The Narrator/The Announcer

Cat Blackard as Dr. Barbara Holloway
Luke Stram as The Keeper
Colin Peterson as Tommy "Woods" Northwood
Chris LeBrane as Joey Davenport
Manda Bruno as Chelsea Northwood
Brandon Gerson as Dirt
Cat Blackard as Roger Simmons
Leeman Kessler as The Cat
Luke Stram as ???


Musical Spotlight: "Don't Mean Much to Me" by Chris LeBrane's Campaign

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, gore, harsh language, child endangerment and abuse, insects, arachnids, bullying, death, and violence towards defenseless creatures.

Please listen at your own discretion.

If you find our stygian stories simply scintillating, unlock further secrets at Patreon.com/OmniverseMedia, and help us fund future series via our IndieGoGo campaign at CthulhuMystery.com/crowdfund

[SFX: Radio static, the dial tunes until...]

[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:
Eyrx Dessert Company, makers of Lushus Jelly Crystals, bring you Part 5 of The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program - “Night at Howling House”. Tonight’s chilling chapter: Roughhouse.

Enter a new dimension of taste sensation with Lushus Jelly Crystals - glistening gelatin gems that effortlessly transform dreary dinners into sensational soirees. Guests will be enraptured by your sublime salads and decadent desserts that undulate enticingly! And the taste!

Sealed within each Lushus Jelly Crystal is a bedazzling bevy of brain-bending bacchanalia. Twelve flavors of unparalleled potency! How can the Eyrx Dessert Company pack so much fresh fruit inside each crystalline carapace? Don’t ask me, I’m just the Announcer! Let’s hear straight from the source:

DR. BARBARA HOLLOWAY:
“Source” is the key word. At the Eyrx Dessert Company, we go straight to the source for each fruit. We have facilities in Hawaii, where we crush whole farm-fresh pineapples - then condense and seal their essence. Such true fruit flavors were thought impossible. Only through my patented process is the juice liberated from its flesh at the fruit’s peak ripeness.

I’m Doctor Barbara Holloway, inventor of the “flavor bud” the scientific innovation at the heart of Lushus Jelly Crystals’ incredible flavor potency. Yes - a lady doctor. We exist outside of Kay Francis pictures and we’re building the future… one attractive gelatin dessert at time, brimming with an entire pineapple’s-worth of delectable, ready-sweetened, writhing enlightenment.

In kitchens across America, women are reveling in healthful and delicious delights: the sensuous, sophisticated seduction of tart, zestful lime salad jells, refreshing mint garnish jells, and real fruit dainties, not a mere fruit taste - at a cost less than the price of fresh fruit and so attractively formed in pure aluminum dessert molds. Send away for our free catalog where you’ll find countless attractive recipes, and surprising uses for Lushus Jelly Crystals.

They thought I was mad - well, who’s laughing now?
[Laughs maniacally]
A meal you’ve got to try, and so pleasing to the eye, you can’t help but cry, “Oh, my! That’s Lushus…”
 
ANNOUNCER:
[Confused]
Lushus Jelly Crystals from Eyrx Dessert Company: look for them at your grocery store—the one in the non-Euclidean box.

NARRATOR:
Let’s take a tour of Howling House, shall we? Starting from the top, all the way up in the attic, the terrified little boy, Dirt is alone in the world. His horrifying human-faced bat friend is now in the care of the Northwood siblings. They’re up on the second floor, reading chilling accounts of all the hauntings and disappearances that have afflicted this house and about the supposed witch responsible. But, downstairs, in the foyer, the most frightening thing of all has happened: Roger Simmons murdered his brother… and Joey might be next.

[SFX: Pattering of rain]

JOEY:
[Indistinct shouting]

ROGER:
[Distant laughter]

KEEPER:
Woods and Chelsea, you’ve heard some banging and then some shouting downstairs. But being up here on the second floor with all of the wind, and the thunder, and the rain, it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on. You definitely heard Joey and Roger shouting down there. And you think maybe even a third voice.

WOODS:
Oh, God. Chelsea, we have to go downstairs right now. Joey—I don’t know what Roger’s doing to him, but we got to get down there right now!

CHELSEA:
I don’t want to go down there! We shouldn’t go down there!

[SFX: Pacing footsteps]

WOODS:
I have to. I have to go down there. You stay with the bat thing and I’m going down there. I gotta be able to—

CHELSEA:
Don’t leave me alone!

WOODS:
I have to—

CHELSEA:
Don’t leave me alone in this house—

WOODS:
I have to go down there with—

CHELSEA:
—okay? Don’t go down there!

WOODS:
—Joey!
And I run out of the room.

[SFX: Running]

KEEPER:
From the top of the stairs, you can’t clearly see because of that mid-landing with the bathroom, but something really feels off.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I—I’m gonna roll to Be Sneaky and, get to that landing to see what’s going on.

KEEPER:
Go for it.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I made it. 36 out of my 40. I’m creeping quickly down the stairs.

[SFX: Hesitant shuffling]

[SFX: Creaking floorboards]

KEEPER:
From the landing’s bannister you can see directly below you: Roger, pointing a knife at Joey. And standing over the bloody body of his older brother, Ace.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
Oh, God. So—oh, hell. Roger’s directly below me?

KEEPER:
Oh, he’s about to be. He’s forcing Joey down the hallway at knifepoint.

ROGER:
Get going!

JOEY:
Okay, man, okay.

[SFX: Reluctant footsteps]

JOEY:
You got the knife!

WOODS:
As Roger moves under where I am, I want to leap over the banister and jump on top of him!

KEEPER:
Okay. Since they haven’t noticed you, I’m gonna give you a bonus die to that. Make a Fighting check.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
C’mon. C’mon. 21!

KEEPER:
And roll the tens dice again because you might even do better.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
1.

KEEPER:
Okay. Okay. This is interesting. Good.

WOODS:
Woods just thinks,“This is my chance. This is the only chance I’m gonna have. A Scout is brave. A Scout is brave.

A SCOUT IS BRAAAAVE!
And jumps over the banister and kicks Roger right in the head.

KEEPER:
Your foot impacts him—

[SFX: Meaty squelch]

KEEPER:
—and when you hit him—

ROGER:
[Evil chuckle]

KEEPER:
—he doesn’t move the way a person should. Your foot—

[SFX: Squelching]

KEEPER:
—kind of sinks into him a little bit.

[SFX: Thud]

WOODS:
Ugghhh.

KEEPER:
And he kind of stumbles to the ground. When he turns to look up at you—

ROGER:
[Laughs maniacally]

KEEPER:
—the skin on his face is a little loose. A couple of spiders crawl out of—

[SFX: Wet, meaty sucking]

KEEPER:
—his eye socket.

WOODS:
Whoa!

ROGER:
Argh!

JOEY:
Watch out, Woods! I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but he is not Roger!

[SFX: Lurching footsteps]

KEEPER:
Time for Sanity checks!

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I rolled a 7 so I succeeded.

JOEY [Out of Character]:
51. That’s right above. I failed.

KEEPER:
If you made it, you lose d3. If you failed, you lose d6.

JOEY [Out of Character]:
I got a 1.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I lost 3 Sanity!

CHELSEA:
This is the perfectly opportune time for me to start coming down the stairs.

KEEPER:
Yes, Chelsea. You hear your brother shout some kind of—

[SFX: Creaking floorboards]

KEEPER:
—a heroic battlecry. And then you tiptoe down the landing. You see the three boys downstairs in the middle of fighting each other. And, Chelsea, even amidst all the commotion, Roger—

ROGER:
[Snarls]

KEEPER:
—sees you. He looks up, just for a moment. And you see the spiders—

[SFX: Skittering]

KEEPER:
—dancing around his increasingly cavernous eyes.

ROGER:
Chel-seaaaa!

[SFX: Squelching]

KEEPER:
There’s, like, a seam in his neck that’s popped open.

ROGER:
[Laughs maniacally]

KEEPER:
And a rat’s snout pushes out of it.

[SFX: Bone snapping]

[SFX: Rat squeaking]

KEEPER:
And the rat looks up at you, too.

CHELSEA:
Oh, my God! Oh, my God!

JOEY:
Oh, my God! What the fu—? Roger! What is going on with you, man?

ROGER:
[Laughs]

KEEPER:
Roll Sanity.

CHELSEA [Out of Character]:
I actually failed this time!

KEEPER:
You lose d6 Sanity.

CHELSEA [Out of Character]:
I lost 3.
[Screams]

KEEPER:
Okay, Woods, what are you up to? You’ve started this fight…

WOODS [Out of Character]:
Is he standing and facing me?

ROGER:
Oh, Roger’s just pulling himself up to—

[SFX: Meaty squelching]

ROGER:
—full height. Cracking all the—

[SFX: Bones cracking]

ROGER:
—creatures in my jaw.

[SFX: Clicking of bone]

ROGER:
Oh! Well, isn’t this fun?
And I put my fingers into my mouth-hole and stretch it open—

[SFX: Cartilaginous clicking]

ROGER:
—so you can see what’s inside.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
What’s inside?

ROGER:
You know, sometimes you turn over a log and you see underneath everything is all the sick, and the gross, and the things that writhe in the dark.
You like what you see, Woods?

WOODS:
Oh, God.
And I back up against Joey. I back up against Joey and I pull out my BB gun.

JOEY:
The fuck are you? What did you do with Roger?
Then I pull out my switchblade.

[SFX: Flick of a blade]

ROGER:
[Laughs maniacally]

KEEPER:
So, yeah, you guys pull your weapons out. And Roger approaches.

ROGER:
My knife is at the ready in one end—

[SFX: Lurching footsteps]

ROGER:
—and then I reach under my jacket and I take out the Scoutmaster’s blade. I rub the blades together—

[SFX: Metal on metal]

ROGER:
—challenging them to come.

[SFX: Blades scraping together]

ROGER:
[Laughs evilly]

KEEPER:
Roger, you gonna take a swing at them?

ROGER:
Yes. I’m gonna swing to disable them. I’m going for their wrists and their tendons. I want to make it slow.

KEEPER:
Who you going for?

ROGER [Out of Character]:
Oh, I’m going for the Boy Scout. I rolled a 21 to my 55.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I’m gonna Dodge. 25 to my 33.

KEEPER:
You kind of stumble back—

[SFX: Staggering]

KEEPER:
—out of the way of him. You run into Joey, though.

[SFX: Bodies colliding]

JOEY:
Oof! Come on, Woods.

KEEPER:
You fall to the ground—

[SFX: Heavy thud]

KEEPER:
—but you’re able to avoid a couple of Roger’s—

ROGER:
Ha! Ha! Ha!

[SFX: Knives cutting through air]

KEEPER:
—knife swings as he tries to slash your wrists and your tendons with the knives that he’s got out.

JOEY:
I’m stepping up in there. Gonna show Roger a thing or two.

KEEPER:
Roll your Fighting!

JOEY [Out of Character]:
62 out of 80!
Pick on someone your own size!

KEEPER:
And Roger, you make a Fighting roll, too.

ROGER [Out of Character]:
A 4.

KEEPER:
Joey goes to stick Roger with his blade—

[SFX: Stabbing]

ROGER:
[Yells]

KEEPER:
—and Roger kind of ducks it a little to the side and actually catches Joey’s blade in the skin of the side of his head—

ROGER:
[Roars furiously]

KEEPER:
—and tugs Joey off guard, and sticks him in the back—

[SFX: Scuffling]

KEEPER:
—with a knife.

JOEY:
Oh!

KEEPER:
Roll for Damage, Roger.

ROGER [Out of Character]:
3.

KEEPER:
Joey, you take 3 Damage as Roger sticks you in the back once with a knife and you stumble away from him.

ROGER:
[Grunts viciously]

[SFX: Stabbing]

JOEY:
[Yelps]
Shit!

ROGER:
[Laughs cruelly]

WOODS:
Joey!

JOEY:
Fuck you, Roger! Whatever you are!

CHELSEA:
I look down at my little bat friend and I’m like,
Please! Help my brother!

KEEPER:
The bat creature squeals and says,

BAT CREATURE:
Friends!

KEEPER:
Its wings unfold—

[SFX: Unfurling of leathery wings]

KEEPER:
—in one swift motion and it swoops down—

[SFX: Frantic fluttering of wings]

KEEPER:
—from the landing, latching onto the side of Roger’s head.

ROGER:
Oh, little brother! Gonna show them all the nice things inside of me. Okay.

KEEPER:
It starts scratching and biting—

[SFX: Clawing]

KEEPER:
—tearing insects and vermin and the rat things out from inside of Roger’s face. It’s a horrifying scene.

ROGER:
Ugh. Feels good. Yeah!

KEEPER:
Roger, you take 2 points of Damage.

ROGER:
Hurt me! Hurt me!

KEEPER:
As it pulls away the—

ROGER:
Hurt me—

KEEPER:
—things that make you what you are—

ROGER:
—you little fucks!

KEEPER:
—today.

ROGER:
[Laughs sinisterly]

KEEPER:
Woods?

WOODS:
With Roger distracted from that thing tearing at him, I’m just—I’m just gonna grab my pocketknife and I’m gonna dive on him, and I’m just gonna stick him, and then stick him, and stick him, and stick him, and stick him!

KEEPER:
Make a Fight check.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
88.

KEEPER:
Roger, make a Fight roll. This time you’re gonna get a penalty die. So roll two 10s places and take the worse.

ROGER [Out of Character]:
The “worse” is only 13.

KEEPER:
Oh, shit.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
Oh, shit.

ROGER:
[Laughs]

KEEPER:
So as you pick yourself up, Woods, to make your triumphant, furious assault on Roger—

[SFX: Determined footsteps]

KEEPER:
—you go to stick him with your knife and suddenly he turns and is ready for you.

ROGER:
[Snarls]

KEEPER:
He’s already holding out your Scoutmaster’s knife. And it slides right into your face. Roger, roll for Damage.

ROGER [Out of Character]:
6.

KEEPER:
Ouch. The Scoutmaster’s knife slices across your face and neck, Woods—

[SFX: Slashing of a knife]

WOODS:
[Howls]

KEEPER:
—cutting you open. You’re bleeding everywhere. Profusely.

WOODS:
[Agonized moaning]

ROGER:
Oh, I like it, I like it a lot! Oh, you bad, bad, bad little boy!

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I’m at 5 Health.

ROGER:
[Laughs]

KEEPER:
Several floors up and what feels like—

[SFX: Chirping of bats]

KEEPER:
—a million miles away… Dirt, it’s just you, a guano-slick floor, and about a hundred and fifty bats.

DIRT:
I was mean! Angry. Stupid. That is not how you make friends. But I’m a nice boy. And they were mean first. I’m sorry, Mother. I’m sorry, bats.

KEEPER:
Just then a chittering—

[SFX: Chittering]

KEEPER:
—comes from all around you. Slowly, crawling out of all the darkest corners of the room, are more of these creatures: the bat-things, the rat-things with human faces, and their freakish chimera bodies.

DIRT:
Hello? I’m a friendly good boy. I’m so sorry about being a bad boy. I swear I’m not a bad boy.

KEEPER:
And there’s something else, Dirt.

DIRT [Out of Character]:
Ohhhh what now?

KEEPER:
The guano-stink is terrible but familiar to you. But there’s a new scent cutting through—one you’ve smelled earlier tonight: tobacco.

[SFX: Dramatic stinger]

DIRT:
Who’s there?

KEEPER:
In the corner of the room, from out of a crawl space, strides the cat. And locked in its jaw is a pipe. Its eyes are an eerie shade of yellow: sickly, like pus.

DIRT:
I’m gonna start to back out of the room.

[SFX: Cautious footsteps]

KEEPER:
The cat walks across a beam and sits, staring menacingly at you.

CREATURES:
[Hissing and growling indistinctly]

DIRT:
Papa?

KEEPER:
One of its forepaws contorts in a way that doesn’t seem at all like something a cat should be able to do. And it takes the pipe from its mouth.

CAT:
Why, my boy! You look lost as a babe in the woods!

CREATURES:
Papa. Papa. Papa.

DIRT:
My friends were looking for you!

CAT:
Oh, I was just playing a little hide-and-seek. But I suppose now you’ve found me.

KEEPER:
Dirt, the creatures have started moving towards you again, past the cat, inching closer and closer.

CAT:
So why don’t you run along back to your friends? There’s a new game afoot!

CREATURES:
[Hiss menacingly]

CAT:
All ye, all ye outs in free! All the outs in free!
[Laughs]

CREATURES:
Mama Feed! Mama feed! Mama feed!

DIRT:
Nope, I am out. I run. I’m running—

[SFX: Heavy footsteps]

DIRT:
—out of here, back through the hole, and out the closet.

KEEPER:
As you clamber back down and make your way out into the second floor hallway, you can hear there’s something going on down on the first floor. There’s shouting, scuffling, and commotion.

DIRT:
Help! Help!
[Out of Character]:
Are they after me?

KEEPER:
No, there’s nothing. Looks like there’s nothing following you. But you can see ahead that Chelsea’s standing on the midpoint landing looking down at the bannister.

DIRT:
I’m running down the stairs now.
Chelsea, I’m so sorry. Help me!

CHELSEA:
Dirt? Stop! Roger’s a monster!

DIRT:
What?

KEEPER:
Dirt, your eyes go wide as you see the crazy scene unfolding beneath you. Roger, Joey, and even Woods: they’re all brandishing knives at each other. The bat creature is biting at Roger’s face but it’s not a face.

DIRT:
Oh, what is happening?!

KEEPER:
Make a Sanity roll.

DIRT [Out of Character]:
Oh, no! Don’t snap again. Don’t snap again. Don’t snap again. 52 out of 26.

KEEPER:
Roll d6 Sanity loss.

DIRT [Out of Character]:
2. Did I snap?

KEEPER:
You let out a terrified shriek—

DIRT:
[Screams in terror]

KEEPER:
—but otherwise this is not the worst thing you’ve seen today. Joey, how are you keeping it together?

JOEY:
I’m trying to get back up from being stabbed. But I’m gonna get back into it!

KEEPER:
Make a Fight check.

JOEY [Out of Character]:
16! Let’s do this!

KEEPER:
And Roger?

ROGER [Out of Character]:
39 out of 55.

KEEPER:
And Joey was a 16 out of 80. That’s an extreme success. He’s a much better fighter than you, Roger. Joey, you do max Damage plus another die roll. 4 Damage plus d4 as you impale him with your switchblade.

JOEY [Out of Character]:
That’s a total of 8.

KEEPER:
Oh, fuck! Okay. Roger, how are you looking?

ROGER [Out of Character]:
I’m barely holding all my skittering things together. I’ve only got 2 Health left.

KEEPER:
So Joey sticks his switchblade into—

[SFX: Determined footsteps]

KEEPER:
—Roger’s chest.

JOEY:
This is what it’s like to be on top!

[SFX: Heavy thud]

[SFX: Stabbing]

ROGER:
[Screams in pain]

KEEPER:
And he sinks in up to his wrists—

JOEY:
Oh, my God!

KEEPER:
—and just cuts down—

ROGER:
[Laughs maniacally]

KEEPER:
—along Roger.

[SFX: Flesh tears]

JOEY:
Ah, shit! That’s gross!

ROGER:
Show them what’s inside! Show them what’s inside of me!

[SFX: Splintering of sinew and bone]

[SFX: Rats skittering]

[SFX: Rats squeaking]

KEEPER:
Vermin are just pouring out of Roger’s front and rear.

JOEY:
No! Not good!

[SFX: Buzzing of insects]

KEEPER:
And he’s beginning to look like a partially deflated balloon.

ROGER:
[Singsong]
Let them see…what’s become of Roger!
[Laughs]

[SFX: Blood spurting]

[SFX: Splattering of viscera]

ROGER:
Yes, yes!

DIRT [Out of Character]:
On the landing there’s a bathroom, right?

KEEPER:
Yes.

DIRT [Out of Character]:
Are there are any objects I can pick up or wield? Toilet paper rolls? Plungers?

KEEPER:
Well—

DIRT [Out of Character]:
Glass shards from a mirror? Anything?

KEEPER:
Yes, there’s actually several large glass shards from the mirror.

DIRT:
I’m gonna pick whatever I can up.

KEEPER:
You grab a moldy old towel and wrap it around a large shard of mirror—

[SFX: Clink of jagged glass]

KEEPER:
—and pick it up. As you come back around, you can see the scuffling is continuing downstairs.

ROGER:
I crumple—

[SFX: Heavy thud]

ROGER:
—to the ground. And a little rat crawls out—

[SFX: High-pitched squealing]

ROGER:
—of my neck-hole, and it has the key in its mouth, and it skitters away towards the kitchen.  

[SFX: Scrabbling]

CHELSEA:
I see it, and I run down the stairs—

[SFX: Plodding footsteps]

CHELSEA:
—trying to catch it. And I pull out the little knife from my pocket because I’m a big girl. I’m gonna do this.

DIRT:
Ahh! Chelsea!

KEEPER:
You go running down the stairs past Joey and Woods who look kind of shocked and bewildered at what’s happening. Past the undulating mass of Roger—

ROGER:
Chelsea!

KEEPER:
—still flailing, and snarling—

ROGER:
Ohhhhhh, Chelsea!

KEEPER:
—and being eaten by the bat-thing.

ROGER:
[Shrieking moans]
Chelsea!

KEEPER:
Make a Fighting check.

ROGER:
Where do you think you’re going?

CHELSEA [Out of Character]:
43.

KEEPER:
Is that a success?

CHELSEA [Out of Character]:
Uh, no, actually. It’s not.

[SFX: Hurried footsteps]

KEEPER:
So you go running and dive at this rat—

[SFX: Heavy thud]

KEEPER:
—but it’s able to evade—

[SFX: Rat squeaks]

KEEPER:
—you. Woods?

WOODS:
I—I—I try and dive after it.
[Out of Character]:
Rolled a 10.

KEEPER:
You take a few steps past her and—

[SFX: Running footsteps]

KEEPER:
—leap through the air with your knife in hand and bring it down right on top of this rat—

WOODS:
[Barbaric scream]

KEEPER:
—as it tries to flee—

[SFX: Heavy thud]

KEEPER:
—pinning it.

[SFX: Protracted high-pitch squeal]

KEEPER:
The rat squeals and vomits a gout of—

[SFX: Vomiting liquid]

KEEPER:
—sickly, black blood out of its mouth as one of its eyes—

[SFX: Squishy pop]

KEEPER:
—bursts out.

ROGER:
Roger’s not down for the count. And I’ll slash at Woods’s ankles!

KEEPER:
Roger’s half-deflated body twists and turns to face you, slashing out with the Scoutmaster’s knife. Make a Fight check.

ROGER [Out of Character]:
20.

KEEPER:
Woods.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
43 to my 30—can I use 10 Luck?

ROGER [Out of Character]:
Not so fast.

KEEPER:
No, you can’t in this case, no.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
Okay.

KEEPER:
Roll for half Damage.

ROGER [Out of Character]:
3. But it’s tendons. So he can’t walk no more.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I’m at 2 Health.

KEEPER:
Roger drives the blade into your leg—

ROGER:
[Grunts]

[SFX: Stabbing]

WOODS:
[Screams in pain]

KEEPER:
It’s not a lethal wound, but it’s crippling. This is—this is gonna take a long time to heal. You as a Boy Scout know he—he cut something vital. You’re gonna have difficulty walking. Meanwhile, up top. Dirt, you’ve got your mirrored shiv in your hands. You’re standing at the top of the stairs.

DIRT:
I still have a slingshot and I load the glass shiv to fire it.
[Out of Character]:
And I rolled a 59 out of 65!

KEEPER:
Roll Damage.

DIRT [Out of Character]:
4!

KEEPER:
And that does it.

DIRT:
Roger!

ROGER:
Huh?

DIRT:
You’re a bad friend, Roger!
And I fire—

[SFX: Rubber band drawn taut]

DIRT:
—my slingshot!
Ah!

[SFX: Twang]

KEEPER:
The shard of glass glistens in the candlelight as it darts through the air—through the middle of Roger. His body—

[SFX: Oozing]

[SFX: Splintering of bone and gristle]

KEEPER:
—splits in half—

ROGER:
[Agonized scream]

KEEPER:
—just a burst membrane.

[SFX: Insects buzzing]

KEEPER:
Insects and vermin pour out of it.

CHELSEA:
[Frantic screaming]

ALL:
[Screaming, yelling]

KEEPER:
His one scream becomes thousands—

ROGER:
[Echoing, high-pitched screams]

[SFX: Bubbling]

KEEPER:
—as all of these creatures within him flee, skittering and screaming into every hole and between every floorboard. The bat-creature delicately reaches one of its paws out and grabs up what looks like maybe—

[SFX: Rustling of wings]

KEEPER:
—a giant, fat millipede and pops it into its mouth—

[SFX: Crunching]

KEEPER:
—with a smile—

[SFX: Slurping]

KEEPER:
—and turns to give you a thumbs-up.

[SFX: Thunder]

KEEPER:
The chaos softens to the sound of the wind and the rain for a moment.

JOEY:
Whoa. Whoa, what the—what the fuck?

KEEPER:
Until…

[SFX: Ominous thunder]

[SFX: Haunted, eerie howling]

ALL:
[Screaming, yelling]

KEEPER:
Chelsea, the bat-creature is scared, too. And it quickly pulls itself along the ground in a strange, bat-like walk. And it holds its arms out to you and says,

BAT CREATURE:
Up!

[SFX: Footsteps]

CHELSEA:
I bend down to pick him up and I go to my brother.
Tommy, are you okay?

WOODS:
Chelsea!

CHELSEA:
My brother’s hurt!

WOODS:
Ah, Chelsea, come here. I can’t stand up.

JOEY:
Oh, my back. Oh, my God!

[SFX: Quick footsteps]

CHELSEA:
Dirt, come over here and help me.

DIRT:
I—okay.

WOODS:
What the hell was that thing?

JOEY:
I don’t know what it was. I’m just glad it’s gone.

WOODS:
Is it gone?

JOEY:
I don’t know but do we have any idea how to get the hell out of here?

WOODS:
Here’s the key. I can’t—

CHELSEA:
Dirt, take the keys.

DIRT:
I just saw something horrible.

JOEY:
Dirt, take the damn keys!

WOODS:
Take the key. Take the key, Dirt. You—

JOEY:
You’re going to—

WOODS: You go look!

JOEY:
You go, Dirt!

DIRT:
Okay…

KEEPER:
Dirt, you take the key in your hand—

[SFX: Reluctant footsteps]

KEEPER:
—and you walk towards the door. You slowly place the key—

[SFX: Metallic clink]

KEEPER:
—into the keyhole—

[SFX: Keys jangling on a ring]

KEEPER:
—and twist. The metal squeaks and groans as you turn the key.

[SFX: Tumblers turning]

KEEPER:
You hear the sound of the door unlocking.

[SFX: Deadbolt turns]

KEEPER:
Then you turn the knob.

[SFX: Wooden creaking]

[SFX: Scraping]

KEEPER:
All of a sudden, the entire door begins to shudder—

[SFX: Vibrations]

KEEPER:
—and then the key begins vibrating violently in the keyhole—

[SFX: Keys jangling]

KEEPER:
—and then promptly shoots—

[SFX: Banging]

KEEPER:
—out of the keyhole at you!

DIRT:
Ahhh!

CHELSEA:
No! No! No, no, no, no, no!

JOEY:
What the hell?

WOODS:
Where are we supposed to go?

JOEY:
There’s only one place left to go.

WOODS:
What are you—what are you talking about, there’s one place left to go?

JOEY:
The door just shot the key out at us. The only logistical place to go is the only place we haven’t checked yet.

ALL:
[Resigned]
The basement.

DIRT:
Maybe there’s holes. Like, little windows we can dig through and wriggle out like a little, itty-bitty worm!

WOODS:
I—it’s raining. It’s probably flooded down there. I can’t go down there. My leg is slashed open. My face is slashed open! I’m gonna get an infection from the—from the… I can’t go down there!

JOEY:
Alright. Alright. Alright. Okay. Woods, as much as this is gonna hurt me, get on my back. I think I can possibly carry you down there.

WOODS:
I mean—you guys can—Dirt can help me. Chelsea, can you help me?

DIRT:
I have, like, one hand.

WOODS:
Wait—I—I—I need to bandage—I need to bandage up my face. And I need to bandage up my leg.

[SFX: Rustle of bandages]

CHELSEA:
I help Tommy get his first-aid stuff out of his pack.

WOOS:
Thanks, Chelsea. There’s a sewing kit in there. We’ll need that.
[Out of Character]:
I’m gonna roll First Aid. I got a 27 out of my 60.

KEEPER:
Woods, slumped up against the wall, you’re giving orders to Dirt and to Joey—

[SFX: Ripping of bandages]

KEEPER:
—to do their best to be your hands as they patch you up. Which, unfortunately, isn’t too good because Dirty only really has one good hand to begin with. But with your capable instructions, they’re able to do their best to close your wounds and help you. Soon, you’re on your feet—more or less. And you’re able to, in turn, patch up Joey’s wounds. Joey, you get a Hit Point back. Woods, you get back one Hit Point back for your leg. And one Hit Point for your face, as well.

WOODS:
Okay… that’s… something…
[Sighs]
I pick up my Scoutmaster’s knife and it’s… covered in blood. I can’t… I mean… I look to Chelsea and I - I can’t believe I did this to us. I broke the Scout’s Oath. I broke the Scout’s Oath and now… I- take out my handkerchief and I start to clean this knife off.
A Scout is clean. A Scout is clean.
I’m gonna get all this blood off. I’m gonna make it right. Somehow…

CHELSEA:
I take a moment to pull my little bat friend off my back and I ask him,
Is there a way out in the basement?

BAT CREATURE:
Out?

CHELSEA:
Out of the house?

BAT CREATURE:
Momma-

[Incomprehensible gibberish]

CHELSEA:
...He said the word, “Momma"?

WOODS:
Great.

JOEY:
The hell does that mean?

WOODS:
I don’t know! I get down to the basement.

CHELSEA:
Maybe Momma’s in the basement?

WOODS:
Oh, God, I hope not.

JOEY:
If Momma’s in the basement, Momma might know a way out.

KEEPER:
Just then, Chelsea, the bat-creature tugs at your hair.

CHELSEA:
Ow! Stop that!

BAT CREATURE:
Up! Up! UP!

KEEPER:
Your gaze follows his frantic, twisted little hand—

[SFX: Stampede]

KEEPER:
—pointing up as far as you can see up the staircase. A swarm of rats—

[SFX: Rats squeaking]

KEEPER:
—flow down the stairs like water, undulating and creeping over every surface. Interspersed among them are the other creatures: the bat and the rat things with humanoid faces, all sneering at you.

CREATURES:
[Snarling, hissing]

DIRT:
Oh, yeah. I was trying to tell you.

WOODS:
Oh, no!

JOEY:
Hell, no. Get up, Woods. Come on!

KEEPER:
The bat-creature on Chelsea’s back says,

BAT CREATURE:
Bad brothers!

CHELSEA:
What do you want with us?

CAT:
Why, these little rascals just want to play with you, dear Chelsea.

KEEPER:
The strange, sickly cat creature jumps into the light, delicately walking atop the mid-landing banister.

BAT CREATURE:
Papa!

WOODS:
“Papa?” That cat’s the rat’s papa?

JOEY:
That ain’t right.

KEEPER:
The rats have been deadly silent up to this point. And then, all of a sudden, as one, they begin chittering and screeching.

CREATURES:
[Shrieking, screeching]

WOODS:
No, no! No, no, no, no, no, no, no!

KEEPER:
Some of the human-faced rat-creatures begin to howl.

CREATURES:
[Howling]

KEEPER:
One of them says,

RAT-CREATURE:
MAMA FEED!

KEEPER:
And then, a chorus!

CREATURES:
MAMA FEED!

CAT:
Ready or not, sweet children, here…we…come!

[SFX: Chittering]

[SFX: High-pitched squeaking]

[Sinister music fades]
 
NARRATOR:
I hope you weren’t expecting some peace and quiet in this frightening fixer-upper.

No, if there’s one thing you can count on in Howling House it’s impeccable hospitality and that means never a dull moment in that sinister shanty. Lucky for us listening audience types, we can sit back from a safe distance and enjoy the mayhem.

Though, folks, we could use your hand with something: The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program’s crowdfunding campaign is live, and it’s off to a good start - but this show that we’re all enjoying is not cheap to make. Stop what you’re doing right now, if it’s safe for you to do so, and head to cthulhumystery.com/crowdfund.

Just have a look around! Watch our moving picture, where you’ll see and hear the cast and crew tell you more about our occult operation and astounding rewards that await you such as illustrated editions of our original and officially-licensed Call of Cthulhu tabletop campaign or your very own sack of wooden red herring coins - not dissimilar from what young Tommy Northwood found in our previous episode. How about that?

For those of you able to make a big financial impact on the future of our series, we’ve got some great big opportunities that we’ve never offered before, for instance: you can become a sponsor of an upcoming episode and have our crack team write and record a strange advert at your behest. It could be about a real life product, a project, a special message - anything you want, more or less - you’re the boss! That’s one of the many exclusive items available to all backers in The Black Market. Oh… I can see you’re intrigued. That the notion of illicit activities gives you a thrill… well, step into our parlor over at cthulhumystery.com/crowdfund for more details.

Every little bit helps, whether it’s monetary, or spreading the good word. Letting folks know you love our show - leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser, telling friends and family either in person or via your social networks and recommend your favorite season. ‘Tis the time to share scary stories after all.

I’ll also invite you to think on the number 7, which holds great significance in myriad beliefs and mythologies. Perhaps it’s no coincidence then that in order for someone to take action, on average they’ll need to hear a message seven times. Which is to say, if you’re sharing the mirth and misadventures of Mystery Program on your socials, some folks may need to hear about our peculiar podcast and creepy crowdfunding seven times.

This is the water and this is the well, the night is getting on, the days are getting cold, the horse is the white of the eyes, and let’s be frank, things have taken a truly dark turn for our cast… so what say we drink full… and liven things up, mm?

Perhaps you’re aware that Chris LeBrane, the actor who’s delighting you as Joey Davenport, is first-and-foremost a musician. He’s a member of the Universal Funk Orchestra and also performs as the frontman of his own ensemble, Chris LeBrane’s Campaign. As they describe themselves: “new wave party people for the campaign of the galaxy.:

Now, that’s fitting because folks, these sounds are out of this world. I mean, I’ve never heard anything like them. They make my body move in strange ways that there’s no logical accounting for. There’s something very strange about this music… even my nostrils are twitching and the less we say about my backside, the better!

These proclaimed “party people” have dropped off one big party favor at the station. I have in my hands the recording of an all-new song by Chris LeBrane’s Campaign and it is hot, I mean it’s emitting a strange radiation and I can see through my fingers just holding the darn thing. It’s glowing like a damn meteor. And if I drop the needle on this… frankly I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but… what say we find out together?

Lovely listeners, brace your bodies and prepare for an exclusive premiere, right here on W*I*S*. This is the cosmic sound of a brand-new track from Chris LeBrane’s Campaign. It’s called, “Don’t Mean Much to Me”!

[Chris LeBrane’s Campaign: “Don’t Mean Much to Me”]

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 this 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.

This podcast wouldn’t 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 Chris Cowan
And our Executive Patreon producers:
BigBadShadowMan, Marcus Larsson, Jaimeson LaLone, and Becky Scott Fairley

Join the team at Patreon.com/OmniverseMedia!

Episode 5 -  “Roughhouse” - 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 performance by Leeman Kessler.

Editing and mastering is by Executive Producers Colin Peterson and Cat Blackard. 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.

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

This has been The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program… Goodnight

[Music fades]

[Omniverse Audio Brand]