EPISODE 6: THE CURSE

Terribly injured and in league with a strange creature, the children flee to the basement. In this unexplored space they regroup, trying to make sense out of the unfathomable things they've experienced, and uncover the horrid history of Howling House in the process.

Content Warning: Violence, harsh language, child endangerment and abuse, bullying, domestic abuse, smoking, infanticide, self harm, execution, violence towards house pets, cannibalism, suicidal ideation, murder, oppressive religion, misogyny, and gaslighting.

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 Working Stiff/ Doctor Ghede Muñoz/ Dapper Man
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
Luke Stram as ???
Leeman Kessler as The Cat
Alyson Grauer as Evelyn Barnaker
Jonathan West as Dirt's Father
Cat Blackard as Dirt's Mother


Musical Spotlight: "Kill 4 U Die 4 U" by VRL

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, domestic abuse, smoking, infanticide, self harm, execution, violence towards house pets, cannibalism, suicidal ideation, murder, oppressive religion, misogyny, and gaslighting.

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:
Top Hat Cigarettes bring you Part 6 of The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program - “Night at Howling House”. Tonight’s chilling chapter: “The Curse”.

DAPPER MAN:
[Coughing]

WORKING STIFF:
Say pal, I may just be a working stiff, but you look like you’re gonna be a stiff - dressed dapper like that, and pale as a sheet.

DAPPER MAN:
[Wheezing, coughing]

WORKING STIFF:
Buddy, you need to see a doctor!

DOCTOR GHEDE MUÑOZ:
Good day.

WORKING STIFF:
Not for this guy! Who the heck are you?

DOCTOR GHEDE MUÑOZ:
I’m doctor Ghede Muñoz.

DAPPER MAN:
[Coughing]

WORKING STIFF:
What luck, sounds like this guy might need a hospital.

DOCTOR GHEDE MUÑOZ:
What it sounds like is asthma, and this fine fellow doesn’t need a hospital, he needs a tobacconist.

WORKING STIFF:
You’re puttin’ me on!

DOCTOR GHEDE MUÑOZ:
I assure you I’m not, I’m a doctor of virility and life extension, and the one piece of finery this dandy lad left the house without is a top hat. Fortunately I can oblige.

[SFX: A lighter clicks and a cigarette is puffed]

DOCTOR GHEDE MUÑOZ:
Feel that rich tobacco warming your lungs. It’s smooth and soothing, thanks to the health benefits of Top Hat’s unique cold ammonia process.

WORKING STIFF:
That’s all it takes, huh? Just one smoke?

DOCTOR GHEDE MUÑOZ:
Perhaps, but this special Top Hat blend is just what the doctor ordered. You see?

WORKING STIFF:
An asthma cigarette! Well, don’t that beat all!

DOCTOR GHEDE MUÑOZ:
Top Hat asthma cigarettes ease all respiratory conditions - including consumption, bronchitis, pneumonia, and influenza, by blending the smooth smoking satisfaction of Top Hat tobacco with time-honored medicinal herbs stramonium, lobelia, jatropha and beneficial minerals like potash and arsenic.

WORKING STIFF:
You’re goin’ over my head, doc!

DOCTOR GHEDE MUÑOZ:
All you need to know is that it works.

DAPPER MAN:
[Exhales]

DOCTOR GHEDE MUÑOZ:
How do you feel now, my friend?

DAPPER MAN:
Like I could go toe-to-toe with the grim reaper in a title fight.

DOCTOR GHEDE MUÑOZ:
Perhaps you just did!

DAPPER MAN:
Ha ha! Thank you old sport! And thank you my roguish friend.

WORKING STIFF:
Say! That’s a firm shake you’ve got on that limp wrist’a yours!

DAPPER MAN:
From this day henceforth I’m living life to the fullest. What say you and I get stepping?

WORKING STIFF:
If you’re buyin’!

ANNOUNCER:
When you find yourself at a crossroads choosing a brand of cigarette - pick the best dressed! Smoke to your health, and do it in style with Top Hat Cigarettes.

NARRATOR:
Roger Simmons is a monster -  in the most literal sense. The bully that lured Woods, Dirt, Joey and Chelsea into Howling House let his mask slip, murdered his brother, and revealed himself to be a legion of vermin in the skin of a boy. But this unholy hunter was defeated by its quarry - just barely. Now, terribly injured and in league with a baby-faced bat-thing, the children are beset upon by an army of the bat’s “bad brothers” and the menacing cat with the voice of a man, which these horrid creatures call “papa”.

[SFX: Rats chittering]

[SFX: Low, distant thunder]

ALL:
[Screaming, yelling]

CAT:
Feed!

KEEPER:
With the cat’s command, the horde of rodents rush down the stairs, spilling out between the balusters. They fall on Ace’s body and swarm it—

[SFX: Gristly, meaty gnawing of flesh]

KEEPER:
—diving into the flesh.

CHELSEA & WOODS:
[Screaming]

JOEY:
Holy shit!

WOODS:
Oh, God!

 

BAT THING:
Bad brother!

CHELSEA:
[Panting]
Tommy!

WOODS:
Basement!
So I put my arm around Joey. We’re hobbling to the basement because that’s the only place that we need to go.

JOEY:
We gotta go the basement! Let’s go!

WOODS:
Going down to see Momma!

JOEY:
Holy shit!

WOODS:
[Panicked shrieking]
Oh, God!

CHELSEA:
Hurry!

JOEY:
Through the dining room! Come on!

DIRT:
Maybe we can befriend them!

CHELSEA:
Dirt, Dirt, help me with the door!

DIRT:
Okay!

[SFX: Heavy thud]

CHELSEA:
I’ve got the keys!

WOODS:
Come on! Come on, come on, come on, come on!

[SFX: Keys jingling]

WOODS:
Come on! Come ON!

KEEPER:
Chelsea fumbles the key into the lock on the basement door of the kitchen.

WOODS:
How long does it take to get a key through the door? COME ON!

KEEPER:
The lock turns—

[SFX: Tumbler clicks]

[SFX: Wooden door creaks open]

KEEPER:
—and the door creaks open on rusted hinges.

CHELSEA:
Hurry!

WOODS:
Come on! We gotta go!

JOEY:
Okay. Woods, with me. Down the stairs.

WOODS & JOEY:
[Heavy panting]

DIRT:
I’m gonna just slam the door shut—

[SFX: Door slams shut]

DIRT:
—behind us so the rats can’t get in.

[SFX: Heavy, limping footsteps]

CHELSEA:
And I’m locking it—

[SFX: Key in lock]

CHELSEA:
—behind us.

KEEPER:
Everyone stumbles down the creaking stairs of the basement.

[SFX: Heavy, staggering footsteps]

KEEPER:
It is dark in here. There are no light sources.

WOODS:
I click on—

[SFX: Flashlight switches on]

WOODS:
—my flashlight.

JOEY:
And I take out my lighter.

[SFX: Flick of a lighter]

JOEY:
Woods and I got one arm wrapped around each other, hobbling—

[SFX: Hobbling footsteps]

JOEY:
—down the stairs, lights in our free hands.

[SFX: Repetitive thumping]

KEEPER:
First you hear the skittering feet on the kitchen floor. And then thumps hitting the door. Soft, and then harder.

[SFX: Heavy thudding]

KEEPER:
The sound of bodies, big and small, throwing themselves at the door—

[SFX: Heavy thudding]

KEEPER:
—and scratching violently at the wood.

WOODS:
Keep moving!

JOEY:
Holy shit, they’re everywhere!

DIRT:
We need to get out of here.

WOODS:
Maybe there’s an exit through the cellar?

[SFX: Limping footsteps]

JOEY:
Yeah? Maybe. Let’s look around.

KEEPER:
Woods, as your flashlight beam darts around, you get a sense of the space surrounding you. It’s a rather large, open basement with support beams and objects strewn throughout.

[SFX: Leak dripping]

KEEPER:
This whole place stinks of mildew and waste—the piss and excrement of rats, and who knows what else. To your right is an exterior wall of wet bricks. In your immediate vicinity you see a workbench, plumbing supplies, extra storm shutters, and a coal-burning furnace that isn’t lit.

JOEY:
Woods, let’s lean against that workbench. See if there’s anything around here.

WOODS & JOEY:
[Grunts, heavy panting]

[SFX: Pained footsteps]

CHELSEA:
It’s so dark. Can we light a fire?

JOEY:
I don’t know about that, kid. I tried making a fire. But things got weird. And it went out on me.

DIRT:
See? See? I told you! That’s why I burned my hand! Nobody would listen. Nobody ever listens to Dirt.

JOEY:
Oh. Oh! It’s the house! We can’t set the house on fire! But I’ve got this lighter going just fine. Maybe as long as it’s not the house, it’s okay! We can make, like, a torch or something.

WOODS:
And then we’d have fire!

JOEY:
Well, yeah, obviously.

WOODS:
No, no! For a weapon! Against the witch.

JOEY:
So there’s a witch now? That was a witch’s cat talking at us?

DIRT:
That’s the bats’ and the rats’ papa. I saw him in the attic. He was smoking a pipe and said he was playing a game.

WOODS:
What? That doesn’t make any sense. That doesn’t make any sense!

[SFX: Distant rumble of thunder]

JOEY:
Nothing makes sense, Woods. Is the cat the witch?

WOODS:
I don’t know! There was this lady—

CHELSEA:
Black Widow Barnaker! It was in a book Tommy read upstairs that said she eats kids. And all the stuff we can use to kill her.

WOODS:
Fire and silver. I read in the scrapbook: fire and silver. That’s the only way to get rid of witches and—and—and—and—and scary, spooky stuff. And that’s the only way that we’re gonna be able to get out of here.

CHELSEA:
And iron!

WOODS:
What?

CHELSEA:
Fire, silver, and iron kills spooky stuff. That’s what the book said.

WOODS:
Right. Yeah. Iron!

CHELSEA:
Nobody thinks I pay attention but I do pay attention.

WOODS:
So we should look for something that we can make a torch out of! Or anything iron or silver.

JOEY:
Wish I had that fire poker.

KEEPER:
Only as your conversation trails off do you notice that the clawing of the rodent army has dissipated. Everything has gone silent—except for the creaking of the house above.

[SFX: Ominous, low thunder]

CHELSEA:
Are they gone?

BAT THING:
Never gone! Always watch!

KEEPER:
Its eyes dart around.

JOEY:
[Laughs nervously]
They think we’re stupid, huh? Well, as much as I do wish I had that fire poker, I’m not going up there to get it and get ambushed. I’m gonna find a weapon down here.
[Out of Character]:
What do I see?

KEEPER:
Everyone, roll Notice Stuff.

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

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I got a 59 out of 70.

DIRT [Out of Character]:
22 out of 40.

CHELSEA [Out of Character]:
I got a critical success!

KEEPER:
Amazing. I’ll circle back to you in a moment, Chelsea.

JOEY:
I don’t see shit. Dirt, you’re good at making fires. Make us a torch.

DIRT:
I used to be, when I had both my hands.

KEEPER:
Well you’ve got, like, 80 Skill. I’m not even gonna make you roll, Dirt. Even in the low light you’re able to spot several things you could make a torch out of.

DIRT [Out of Character]:
Are there any old chairs?

KEEPER:
Oh, several. They’re old—

[SFX: Footsteps]

KEEPER:
—and decayed, stacked on top of each other.


DIRT:
I break off one of the legs.
[Grunts from exertion]

[SFX: Splintering of wood]

DIRT [Out of Character]:
Is there any cloth anywhere?

KEEPER:
There’s a stack of tattered linens nearby.

[SFX: Footsteps]

[SFX: Tearing of cloth]

DIRT:
I tear off some of the strips and wrap it around the top. Then I find an old lamp.

[SX: Footsteps]

KEEPER:
There are a couple around. One still has kerosene in the fount.

DIRT:
I take off the lamp—

[SFX: Lifting of glass lid]

DIRT:
—part and I dip it in the oil. Then I go over to Joey’s lighter and I light it.

[SFX: Whoosh of flames]

JOEY:
Alright. You see that, Woods? That’s an artist at work.

KEEPER:
The torch puts out a warm glow over this whole cluttered basement.

JOEY:
I light my cigarette off of the torch.
[Coughs]
You got your fire. Now how about that iron and silver?

KEEPER:
Woods—

[SFX: Hobbling footsteps]

KEEPER:
—behind a couple of barrels near you, you find a length of iron chain.

[SFX: Clanking of chain]

KEEPER:
It’s about four feet long and badly pitted and corroded but it’s sturdy enough.

WOODS:
I found an iron chain!

JOEY:
Let me see that! Oh, yes!

[SFX: Footsteps]

JOEY:
That’s nice for punching! And lashing!

WOODS:
Take it, Joey. You’re a better fighter than any of us.

[SFX: Heavy clanking of chain]

JOEY:
Don’t mind if I do.

KEEPER:
Now, Chelsea. With your keen eye for all things equestrian, you immediately spot a pair of horseshoes on the shelf.

[SFX: Excited footsteps]

CHELSEA:
Ooo, Tommy, look!
I pick them up.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
Are they iron?

KEEPER:
They are, indeed.

WOODS:
Great work, Chelsea! Okay, this is a good start. Now let’s see what else we can find. Maybe there’s an exit.

KEEPER:
There’s no clear exit in sight but there’s still plenty of clutter down here: old steel tools that are falling apart, furniture under tarps, food preserves that have been down here who knows how long. An old, weathered dresser…

[SFX: Confident footsteps]

DIRT:
I’m gonna search the dresser.

[SFX: Latch lifts]

KEEPER:
As you look into the dresser—

[SFX: Dresser lid creaks open]

KEEPER:
—you pull it open. And see some surprised faces in there—

[SFX: Low grumbling]

KEEPER:
—human faces. Three more of those rat creatures that look utterly bewildered by your presence.

DIRT:
I close the drawer immediately—

[SFX: Drawer scrapes shut]

DIRT:
—and back away. I just—I slam it. I don’t want to know. I’m not gonna leave it open this time.

KEEPER:
You hear some terrified chirps—

[SFX: High-pitched chirping]

KEEPER:
—and nothing.

DIRT:
Sorry to bother you!

KEEPER:
You—

DIRT:
Goodbye! Goodnight! Love you. Bye!

WOODS:
What’s that, Dirt?

DIRT:
Uhh, nothing. It’s nothing.

KEEPER:
Chelsea, with that critical success of yours, there’s something else. You notice your bat friend is—

BAT THING:
[Moaning]

KEEPER:
—distracted, staring fixedly at a wall.

[SFX: Determined footsteps]

CHELSEA:
The bat wants me to look over here.

[SFX: Low, rumbling thunder]

WOODS:
Come on, Joey. Let’s go see.

KEEPER:
This wall—it’s not like other walls that you’re pretty sure make up the exterior of the house. This is an old kind of wall for an earthen interior space made of wooden slats with horsehair mortar between them.

CHELSEA:
That’s weird.

KEEPER:
Weirder still: your eyes follow the horizontal wood slats and you see a spot where the pattern is interrupted—

[SFX: Dramatic stinger]

KEEPER:
—behind an empty bookcase that’s not entirely pushed up against the wall.

CHELSEA:
Dirt? Dirt, help me push this aside.

DIRT:
Okay.

KEEPER:
It’s not heavy, so the two of you—

[SFX: Scraping]

KEEPER:
—don’t have much trouble moving it with your combined effort. And speaking of combined effort, Woods and Joey—

[SFX: Hobbling footsteps]

KEEPER:
—you’re hobbling along, and as you’re about halfway across the room, you hear something.

WOODS & JOEY:
[Grunting, labored breathing]

KEEPER:
It sounds like singing.

[SFX: Ethereal melody - "Twilight Stars Are Laughing Love"]

WOODS:
Shhh! Shhh! Joey!

JOEY:
What?

WOODS:
Hold up! Do you hear that?

JOEY:
What is that? Sounds like—

WOODS AND JOEY:
Singing?!

[SFX: Haunted, female voice: tremolo]

WOODS:
Where’s that coming from?

CHELSEA:
[Muffled, distant]
Are you okay?

WOODS:
Yeah, Chelsea, just a moment!

KEEPER:
You two follow the sound to a large metal grating in the floor at what must be the lowest point in the basement. There’s a trickle of rainwater coming from somewhere, tinkling into this dank hole.

[SFX: Rhythmic drip of water]

JOEY:
What the hell is this?

KEEPER:
The song begins to trail off.

WOODS:
Was that…Momma?

CHELSEA:
Tommy!

WOODS:
I’m coming, Chelsea!

CHELSEA:
We found a secret door!

WOODS:
What?

DIRT:
A door in the dirt!

KEEPER:
As you both walk over you see that Chelsea and Dirt have dug an old, worn door out from behind a lot of caked mortar and mud.

JOEY:
Whatever’s behind it let’s just get ready for it, man.

WOODS:
Okay.

I detach from Joey and I get out my BB gun.

JOEY:
And my switchblade!

[SFX: Flick of a blade]

JOEY:
Open up the door, Chelsea.

CHELSEA:
Okay…

[SFX: Creaky hinges]

KEEPER:
You pull the rusted ring door handle, Chelsea. Dirt helps you because there’s so much muck in the doorjambs.

[SFX: Distant thunder]

KEEPER:
You’re able to open it together. There’s light inside: candlelight from more of those homemade candles. The air is warmer, strange, bitter and herbal. But not in a particularly nice way. It’s still accented with waste and rot. Within, you see books and random household articles piled high. The walls are lined with tall shelves filled with strange bindings and documents. And there’s stacks and stacks of books and crates at different heights all throughout this space. It’s about as big as a bedroom but the paths between the stacks are very narrow.

CHELSEA:
Is this the witch’s library?

WOODS:
It might be! Let’s look around. Find any silver or iron—

[SFX: Hobbling footsteps]

WOODS:
—and any clues!

CHELSEA [Out of Character]:
What kinds of books are these?

KEEPER:
It’s very hard to stay without cracking them open. Most are extremely worn by the elements and very old.

DIRT [Out of Character]:
No pictures, then?

KEEPER:
Not so much on the outside, at least.

[SFX: Distant thunder]

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I want to roll some Notice Stuff. 85.
[Laughs]
Nope!

KEEPER:
You see a lot of books.

WOODS:
Great! I go further into the room, deeper into the books.

JOEY [Out of Character]:
You said there was some other stuff in here, too?

KEEPER:
Quite a lot, but it’s all jumbled up. It’s hard to make heads or tails of: strange jars and weird empty glass objects—

[SFX: Footsteps]

KEEPER:
—of different sizes. I don’t suppose you have much in the way of a Science Class skill, do you?

JOEY [Out of Character]:
No. I do not.

KEEPER:
Oh, one thing that does stick out: there are a few framed images on the ground, leaning against one another.

JOEY [Out of Character]:
Alright. I’ll take a look at those.

[SFX: Clatter]

KEEPER:
There’s a couple that are innocuous but seem quite old: a dreary countryside with stark, white buildings against gray trees. A field of grain at sunset, red as a fire with figures that look like they might be dancing. But then, there’s also a portrait of a man—

[SFX: Dramatic stinger]

KEEPER:
—a handsome and sinister man. Something feels odd about this.

[SFX: Ominous thunder]

KEEPER:
Give me a Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic roll.

JOEY [Out of Character]:
Alright. This is gonna be dicey! Oh! That’s an 8 out of 25!

KEEPER:
Excellent. Well, you don’t know much about art but you can tell this old by American standards. The paint is cracked and brittle, and based on the way this person is dressed, the Puritanical garb and the long, white hair (maybe a wig?), you guess this painting is at least as old as the founding of the country—if not older. But even in this stoic portraiture of the time there’s an intensity that beams out of this man’s eyes: an expression that reads as dangerous.

JOEY:
Oh, wow, have a look at this!
I’m gonna hold up the painting.
This guy is creepy as heck!

CHELSEA:
I don’t like it.

JOEY:
What’s to like? We’re looking for clues here. And some of this stuff is older than this house!

KEEPER:
Well the next and last framed image definitely isn’t older than this house. It’s a photograph, probably not much older than the Civil War. It’s of a bride and groom. In fact, there’s a caption: William and Evelyn Barnaker, October 26th, 1860. The bride’s dark hair is up in braids. Her gown has a large bustle with flowers accenting the trim and the veil. And the groom—he has a wiry, chinstrap beard but you’d swear that is the same person as the previous painting.

[SFX: Dramatic stinger]

JOEY:
That’s one heck of a family resemblance. Handsome man! But creepy as all hell.

KEEPER:
Oh, yes, even between the two mediums, the resemblance is uncanny.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
Is there anything on the back of the painting?

KEEPER:
No, nothing, unfortunately.

WOODS:
I have a bad feeling about this.

CHELSEA:
I hold up the photo to the bat-creature.

BAT THING:
[Gurgles]

CHELSEA:
Is this…papa? And momma?

KEEPER:
He looks confused and doesn’t seem to make a connection.

WOODS:
Guess we gotta hit the books! Does anybody know the Dewey Decimal System?

JOEY:
What the hell are you talking about? Who’s “Dewey” and what’s his system?

DIRT [Out of Character]:
Is there anything of interest I can see that isn’t a book?

[SFX: Low rumble of thunder]

[SFX: Crackling torch]

DIRT [Out of Character]:
Sick of books. I don’t like books.

[SFX: Cautious footsteps]

KEEPER:
Waving your torch around in here you see something at the top of one of the bookshelves: another one of those rat creatures. At first you just see its chubby hindquarters and then abruptly it turns to you, glowering malevolently, a glint of metal on its face. It’s wearing spectacles and is sitting on a large, black book.

[SFX: Dramatic stinger]

RAT-CREATURE:
[Growls]

DIRT:
Hello, rat? Hey, there! With the glasses on! How are you doing?

RAT-CREATURE:
[Hisses]

DIRT:
Oh, I’m fine, too. Um…

CHELSEA [Out of Character]:
Do I see that?

KEEPER:
If you look back towards Dirt you can see what’s happening.

CHELSEA:
I point to the rat creature and I’m like,
Is that one bad?

KEEPER:
The bat beast on your shoulder looks up and says,

BAT THING:
Bad brother!

CHELSEA:
I think you should leave it alone! I don’t think you should try to make friends with him.

DIRT:
But it’s wearing glasses. That means he’s smart.

KEEPER:
Woods and Joey, you hear the commotion and you see this strange rat creature.

[SFX: Distant thunder]

KEEPER:
You’ve seen plenty of them by now. They’ve lost their immediate terror. But this one—it looks rather fierce.

WOODS:
I immediately pull out my BB gun and shoot it.
[Out of Character]:
15.

KEEPER:
You hold up your BB gun, you aim at this—

WOODS:
Oh—right at the spectacles—

[SFX: Gun cocked]

KEEPER:
And, yeah—

RAT-CREATURE:
[Hisses]

KEEPER:
—it hisses at you. As it does, you let fly—

[SFX: BB gunshot]

KEEPER:
—and that shot catches it right between the eyes.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
Yeah! I’m gonna put its eye out.

[Cast laughs]

KEEPER:
One of the spectacles cracks.

[SFX: Glass shatters]

RAT CREATURE:
[Squeals]

KEEPER:
The rat creature stumbles backwards and falls off—

[SFX: Meaty squelch]

KEEPER:
—the back of the bookcase.

JOEY:
Good shot, man!

WOODS:
Thanks! Thanks!

JOEY:
What the hell, Dirt?

[SFX: Footsteps]

DIRT:
It was a really smart rat on a book.

WOODS:
That black book?

CHELSEA:
That big, black book up there!

WOODS:
Joey, could you grab—

JOEY:
What?

WOODS:
—can you reach the book?

JOEY:
Fuck! Alright. Ahhh!

[SFX: Book falls]

JOEY:
Yeah, I got the book. I got the fucking book.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
Is there something to put it on?

KEEPER:
Yes, there’s a table over in the corner with candles affixed to it. There are some books stacked on the table.

WOODS:
Perfect. I lug it over—

[SFX: Hobbling footsteps]

[SFX: Heavy thud]

WOODS:
And push the other books off.

[SFX: Sheafs of paper fluttering]

[SFX: Heavy thud]

KEEPER:
You open it up but you realize you have to be careful. It’s in terrible condition. Its binding is made of moldy, black leather and the interior—

[SFX: Pages turning]

KEEPER:
—well, many of the pages are stuck together—

[SFX: Ominous thunder]

KEEPER:
—and brittle, collapsing apart even as you touch it. Make a Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic roll.

JOEY [Out of Character]:
Not this time!

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I got a 31. I’ll spend one Luck point to get to 30.

KEEPER:
You notice that some pages have been marked with various things: black or red ribbon, rat-chewed leather straps, maybe denoting significant passages. But the first thing you see when you open the cover is a page that reads—

[SFX: Page turns]

KEEPER:
—“The Journal of Dr. William Griggs.” And its first date is April 11th, 1643.

[SFX: Dramatic stinger]

WOODS:
Okay. I thumb ahead a little—

[SFX: Leafing through book]

WOODS:
—trying to find something that seems important?
“Wendelin Thelious, a German physician, gave an account also of an epidemic which raged in the kingdom—”

[SFX: Loud thunder]

WOODS:
“—of Hesse in 1596. Attributed to…”

[Voice fades out]

[Music fades out]

[Music fades in]

[SFX: Thunder rumbles]

WOODS:
“Attributed to this disease being so frequent…”

CHELSEA:
While Tommy is reading, I’m going to keep looking for other books that seem important. Like, books that are handwritten or have the name “William” or “Evelyn Barnaker.”

KEEPER:
Well, it is a big jumble in here so you’re gonna have to roll Notice Stuff again.

CHELSEA [Out of Character]:
19 out of 40.

KEEPER:
Okay! As your brother is reading, you start—

[SFX: Leafing through pages]

KEEPER:
—opening and flipping through the books in the stacks. Since you have an idea of what you’re looking for that narrows things down. In a short while you find a plain book: the journal of Evelyn Wyman.

[SFX: Book slammed shut]

KEEPER:
And soon afterwards you notice a book that’s much fancier: another black, leather-bound book. This one has brass-tipped corners and looks newer. And it’s in far better condition than the one your brother is reading from.

[SFX: Pages turning]

KEEPER:
It doesn’t say what it is but the dates are in the mid-1800s like the journal you’ve got. And the wedding photo, as well.

CHELSEA:
Hey, Tommy? Tommy!

[SFX: Impatient footsteps]

CHELSEA:
Tommy!

WOODS:
“…rather than have a diseased brain.”

CHELSEA:
Hey, Tommy, look!

WOODS:
Just a minute, Chelsea. I’m trying to figure this out. There’s so many words in here that I don’t even know what they mean! Um, “Midwives were in the habit of using it to accelerate…”

[SFX: Pouty footsteps]

CHELSEA:
I’m going to go off and read these myself!

KEEPER:
Wonderful!

WOODS:
[Sounding out words]
Patri—Patrician! Aw, shucks, I’m gonna skip to the next thing.

KEEPER:
There’s a page marked with a thick, black ribbon. It’s an entry from November, 1646. The script is different from what you’ve just read. The same handwriting but sloppier, more excited.

WOODS:
“The working is done—

[SFX: Low thunder]

WOODS:
—the compact is made. And…Ærgot has come to me. I am…”
[Voice in unison, then fades out]

[SFX: Quill scribbling]

WILLIAM BARNAKER:
[Voice fades in]
…set alight with the conflagration of knowledge! Consumed by a terrible and glorious ecstasy. I beheld its horrendous form and looked upon a webbed chasm that consumed the land and sky. I have bathed in the blood of my blood and succumbed to the dancing madness of Ærgot with unrepentant rejoicing! It is such folly that once I shuddered at the price of this pact. The flesh of Isaac was sweet and soft, and even now the youth of the babe enlivens me with such vitality! The power of Ærgot thrums within me! Such wondrous hells we shall make! Such chaos and torment we shall seed upon this land!

WOODS:
What is this?

DIRT:
[Moans]

[SFX: Ominous thunder]

WOODS:
I’m gonna skip ahead!

[SFX: Pages turning]

KEEPER:
The next marked page is from 1692: July 19th.

WOODS:
“Five hanged in one day. My great working blossoms…”
[Voice in unison, then fades out]

WILLIAM BARNAKER:
[Voice fades in]
…blossoms. Eight innocents now dead as witches. Even Reverend George Burrows will soon hang as an agent of Satan. The ground is tilled by Puritan righteousness and superstition, seeded by my dark magics! And is now watered in blood and tears. Ærgot breathes deep the sorrowful perfume that hangs upon Massachusetts. It takes such effort to conceal my pleasure as each life is extinguished by my machinations. I must hide my glee at the quaking and moaning of the accusers. Ærgot's seeds work such beautiful torment upon the children’s bodies. And I am there lurking in every reflecting surface to feed their nightmares. Now I lurk within dear Elizabeth as well. My niece’s disobedience cost her life but fed my belly. And through Ærgot’s sublime inspiration, she lives again as my skin-servitor, twitching, shaking, and condemning her neighbors to the gallows.

WOODS:
A “skin-servitor?” Is that what happened to Roger?

JOEY:
What the hell does any of this have to do with anything?

CHELSEA:
I think I know.

KEEPER:
Well, then, Chelsea: share with them what you’ve learned.

CHELSEA:
I start reading from the black book that I found.
“The toll of my pact with Ærgot…”
[Ærgott]

WILLIAM BARNAKER:
[Voice fades in]
…the toll of my pact with Ærgot is great. Soon I won’t be able to maintain this illusion of humanity. So I will learn from my master and eat something pure from within. Not just to sustain the cycle of torment, but to multiply. No skin-servitor but my own flesh. My own mind. A clean slate to withstand further debt. All I need is a house and a womb.

WOODS:
Chelsea, what is that?

CHELSEA:
I—I think it’s William Barnaker’s journal. And I think he’s that cat. And maybe the person in the book you have, too. And his wife. He did something bad to her.
I open to a page I’ve marked—

[SFX: Page turns]

CHELSEA:
—in Evelyn’s book.
“I pleaded with him…”
[Voice in unison then fades out]

EVELYN BARNAKER:
[Voice fades in]
William, William! Let me see my baby!
But his face soured. And he threw it at me.

[SFX: Heavy thud]

EVELYN BARNAKER:
To my horror it had William’s own face—

INFANT CREATURE:
[Grumbling, muttering]

EVELYN BARNAKER:
—bulging out of a contorted and hairy body!
What is this? William, what have you done?

WILLIAM BARNAKER:
What have you done, you horrendous sow? All my efforts squandered!

EVELYN BARNAKER:
I stood up on shaking legs, cradling the grotesque thing he’d grown in me. It grasped around blindly at first. Then opened its eyes and said:

INFANT CREATURE:
Momma?

EVELYN:
William threw a beaker—

[SFX: Glass shatters]

EVELYN BARNAKER:
[Gasps]
—enraged. It startled the baby and it scrambled up and out of my arms, running away. Something was wrong with William’s face. His mouth leaked down his neck in a line of jagged teeth. His eyes receded.
What are you?

WILLIAM BARNAKER:
Ærgot!

EVELYN BARNAKER:
Every terrible vision he’d banished, every nightmare and every uncanny angel I’d endured—they were all real! And all of them were him.
Bind this man! Bind this beast! Bind this thing to this house!
He was a monster! He put a monster in me. By God, I wasn’t going to let him roam free. I made the signs I’d seen him make. I picked up his vile potions and threw them at him.
[Grunts]

[SFX: Glass shatters]

WILLIAM BARNAKER:
[Hissing, howling]

[SFX: Glass breaking]

WILLIAM BARNAKER:
How dare you?!

[SFX: Bubbling and hissing]

EVELYN BARNAKER:
He had sealed this house for the birth and I hoped I could imprison him within the confines of his own spell.
Hold this horror and seal it!
To my shock, amidst his materials lay the corpse of the neighbor’s cat, dissected, its entrails partially removed. What ritual had he been working during my labor?
Seal it in this form!
[Yells]

WILLIAM BARNAKER
[Moaning]
You cannot contain me! You don’t have the power!

EVELYN BARNAKER:
I didn’t. And I didn’t know who to call on. Surely God wanted no part of the terrors I was now embroiled in. So I called upon myself. I picked up a scalpel—

[SFX: Scalpel slitting flesh]

EVELYN BARNAKER
—and drew it across my palm!
[Groans]
I bind you with my pain! I bind you with my rage!
The fungal, barbed creature that my husband had become grotesquely melded with the rotting flesh of the cat and thrashed as I cast my blood across his undulating mass.

WILLIAM BARNAKER:
[Laughs]
You imbecile! With your blood I bind us both! Till death do we part, my love!

[SFX: Ripping, tearing of flesh]

WILLIAM BARNAKER:
[Laughs]

[SFX: Bone splintering]

WILLIAM BARNAKER:
My taint festers in you and I will feed it forever! You are damned. You shall never be rid of me. And you shall know such terrible hunger!

EVELYN BARNAKER:
His body contorted into the cat’s form and I ran—

[SFX: Cat shrieking]

EVELYN BARNAKER:
—and left the room and fled to my bedside, praying, praying that God might grant me salvation from the hell of this man and this house.

[SFX: Pattering of rain]

CHELSEA:
I read the end. He made her like him. He made her so hungry. She didn’t want it. So she hid away but he found ways. And he kept feeding her.

WOODS:
No!

JOEY:
No, no, no, no, no freaking way! This is fucked up, man! This is fucked up!

[SFX: Books thrown to the ground]

JOEY:
Oh, my—! Fuck you, Roger! Fuck! Fuck me.

KEEPER:
Roll Sanity.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
2! I’m okay.

JOEY [Out of Character]:
15 out of 49.

CHELSEA: [Out of Character]:
58. I pass.

KEEPER:
Okay, if you make it, it’s one point. If you fail, it’s d3.

DIRT [Out of Character]:
I failed as I always do, and I lose 3 Sanity. Why?

KEEPER:
Dirt?

DIRT [Out of Character]:
Yes?

KEEPER:
You haven’t understood all these words but you’ve understood the feeling of them and they’re very familiar. You can see the dark chasms of your father’s eyes as he locks you away—

[SFX: Slamming of cellar door]

KEEPER:
—in the back of the cellar.

DIRT’S FATHER:
Again?

DIRT:
Oh, no! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stop!

KEEPER:
You can feel the faintest memories of your mother.

DIRT'S MOTHER: Momma loves you---

KEEPER:

Her warmth, her scent---

 

DIRT'S MOTHER:

My sweet baby.

KEEPER:

---before the fire. And you remember the crack—

DIRT’S FATHER:
You fucking bitch!

 

DIRT'S MOTHER:

[Pained gasp]

[SFX: Hard Slap]

KEEPER:
—of your father’s hand on her.

DIRT’S FATHER:
You fucking running away from me?

 

DIRT'S MOTHER:

No!

DIRT:
[Paniced yelp]

DIRT’S FATHER:
You fucking come back here and take it!

[SFX: Vicious slaps]

DIRT:
Stop hurting her!

 

DIRT'S MOTHER:

Stop!

 

DIRT:

Please stop!

DIRT’S FATHER:
Take what’s coming to you!

 

DIRT'S MOTHER:

[Gasps]

DIRT:
Please, Daddy!

KEEPER:
Wandering in a fugue state, Dirt stumbles into a tower of books.

[SFX: Clatter of wood and books]

KEEPER:
His torch clatters to the ground next to all these brittle and flammable books.

WOODS:
Fire hazard!

CHELSEA:
Dirt?

JOEY:
Oh, damn.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I’ve got to get that torch!

KEEPER:
Give me a Dexterity roll!

WOODS [Out of Character]:
95! No!

DIRT:
Why is everyone so mean? Why do they hurt, and hurt, and hurt?
[Sobs]

CHELSEA [Out of Character]:
I’m gonna Be a Pal to Dirt.

JOEY [Out of Character]:
Me, too.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I would, but I’ve got to take care of this.

CHELSEA [Out of Character]:
I got an 11.

JOEY: [Out of Character]:
I got a 2. And that’s a miracle because this is not my strong suit.

KEEPER:
Joey and Chelsea, you navigate the clutter and Dirt’s flailing, and you throw your arms around him in a tight hug.

JOEY:
It’s a mean world, man.

CHELSEA:
But it doesn’t have to be.

WOODS:
Is there a fire? Because if anything’s caught on fire at all I have to be able to take care of it. Is there a fire?

JOEY:
Relax about the damn fire! Shit’s gonna go out anyway.

WOODS:
You don’t know that!

KEEPER:
Woods—

[SFX: Clatter, banging, ruckus]

KEEPER:
—you’ve caused all kinds of chaos trying to the get to the torch. But you made it. And it’s only starting to catch the pages of a book. Give me a Nature roll to put it out.

WOODS [Out of Character]:
I got a 52.
Situation under control!

[SFX: Frantic stamping]

KEEPER:
You pick up the torch and professionally stamp out the flames.

[SFX: Stamping]

WOODS:
I hope you’re enjoying that hug. You would all be dead if it wasn’t for me!

KEEPER:
And Dirt, those thoughts and memories are still simmering in your mind like coals. But the kindness and affection of Joey and Chelsea have doused them a bit.

JOEY:
Whatever demon thing we gotta shred, we’re gonna do it. Because I’ve got the iron!

[SFX: Clattering of iron chain]

JOEY:
I lift up the chains wrapped around my fist.

[SFX: Excited footsteps]

WOODS:
And you’ve got the fire, Dirt.
I hand him his torch back.

DIRT:
Th-Thank you.

BAT THING:
Friend!

CHELSEA:
Where do we go now? Do we try to go back up?

JOEY:
Well, actually—

WOODS:
Joey and I found a grate!

DIRT:
What’s great?

WOODS:
No, no—there’s a grate and we heard singing coming out of it.

DIRT:
Singing is great!

JOEY:
Look, just follow me.

[SFX: Confident footsteps]

JOEY:
I’m gonna lead everyone to the hole that Woods and I found.

[SFX: Loud, ominous thunder]

[Music swells and fades]

NARRATOR:
And so, with their heads filled with tragic and nightmarish fragments of Howling House’s history, the weary and wounded children limp towards the end - the final chapter in this tormenting tale.

And folks, I’m not going to sugar coat it: this could be the final chapter of The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program entirely.

We have many stories we’d like to tell - But we won’t be able to create future series of Mystery Program without your help.

As I’m sure you’re well aware by now, we’re running a crowdfunding campaign at cthulhumystery.com/crowdfund. As of this broadcast, over 50 kind supporters have chipped in, nearing us to 25% of our goal. Can you help us go all the way?

We have something of an idea of our listenership and if our math is right, if all you out there listening sent along one dollar - a single sawbuck each - we’d make our goal. Though… if everyone gave $5, we’d be able to make more than just one season.

Our campaign runs until November 23rd - which is not just your last chance to save The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program from potential oblivion, but also your last chance to sample the exclusive items and experiences available to our backers. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more eclectic collection of peculiar offerings - and if you’re listening to this show, I’d wager that the “peculiar” is very much something you delight in. Again, that’s cthulhumystery.com/crowdfund to go to our IndieGoGo campaign.

I hope that wherever you’re hearing this, the stars are bright. I remember when I was young, I’d feel a powerful loneliness under the vastness, a loneliness twinged with fear - an animal knowing of my vulnerability in the dark, and my smallness in the cosmos. But these days, the stars comfort me. Even if these ancient points of light were a million eyes peering in on me like an unfathomable microscope, at this point… they’re an old friend. And I can look to the planets. I can look to Mars, like a ruby against a curtain of shimmering black; or stately Jupiter - reminding me that some things far away are actually very close in the scale of the universe.

Perhaps not all planets are good planets. But I think these ones must be. And the one we’re all standing on certainly is - a good planet. It’s not the planet that I’m afraid of and it’s not the stars anymore. It’s the things that happen in-between. Things like what happened to Evelyn Barnaker, née Wyman - trapped in a cycle of abuse. It’s things like what happened to all those people so long ago in Salem Village - superstition gave way to suffering, imprisonment, and death… where supposed civilization ate itself alive.

If you are indeed in this moment gazing upon the multitude of stars this glorious night, perhaps you might take some comfort in them as I do. Even if they shine down with cold indifference, it’s a better thing than the suffering that humankind inflicts upon each other.

But you didn’t come here for my philosophizing now, did you? You tuned in for rollicking stories and songs! Let’s see if this does the trick. This is a song called “Kill 4 U Die 4 U” a song of… let’s call it "torrid" romance, to be polite. It’s by VRL better known as Veronica Rose Lohman. If you’re not familiar with them as a musician, you might be familiar with them as a voice actor. They received a BAFTA Nomination for playing the titular character in the acclaimed What Remains of Edith Finch and have an extensive list of credits including some from the audio drama world, with the queer rom-com podcast musicals: The Flame, and the forthcoming Journey to the Heart.

The track you’re about to hear was their debut single earlier this year, and they’ve just recently released a follow-up called “Easy to Love”. I hear there’s an extended player soon to follow, so keep your eyes peeled for that, and brace yourselves for next week when we unveil the finale of “Night at Howling House”.  In the meantime stay safe, take care of yourselves, and, uh, maybe don’t take relationship advice from this song, or life advice from sleep-deprived radio personalities.

This is “Kill 4 U Die 4 U” by VRL.

[VRL: “Kill 4 U Die 4 U”]

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 6 -  “The Curse” - 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 Leeman Kessler, Alyson Grauer, and Jonathan West.

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]