Starfield VOVoid of black, followed by a narrative reading of a passage by Lovecraft. Stars fade into the black, and we see that we are looking into the void of space. Alone.
Deep black. We're looking into the void, a chasm of the darkest obsidian, an infinity of vacuum.
Gradually that changes. Pinpricks of light appear quickly --stars! First a few at a time, then dozens, hundred, hundreds of thousands appear before us as we gaze into the depths of space.
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
EXT. BATTLEFIELD - DAY
Without warning we jump from the serenity of the stars to Hell on Earth. Men SCREAM as they lay dying in the mud of the WORLD WAR I BATTLEFIELD we suddenly find ourselves on. Machine guns ROAR and before our eyes we see dozens, hundreds, gunned down, their falling bodies tangled in the barbed wire strung across the muddy fields.
We move closer to the action, the broad brush strokes of wholesale annihilation now far more intimate. Trench warfare at its most vicious plays out before us.
If you're familiar with the uniforms, we're now close enough that we can see the nationality of the men fighting and dying. French and British for the most part, the armies and units split so badly that the chain of command means spit out here, and now it's just about survival.
Some tend to the dying and the wounded, pouring water on mud covered wounds in a futile attempt to clean the grime from the meat. But most are against the trench wall itself, rifles braced and firing into the unseen hordes of the enemy that is no doubt near.
One by one, these brave men begin to run out of ammunition and fall back to scrounge for more bullets, but to no avail. They look at each other in horror, each checking their pockets and belts for spares.
There are none to be found.
The men grit their teeth, and each and every one of them pulls naked steel from their belts and fixes their BAYONETS to the tip of their rifles, producing spears of a kind.
It's not much, but it's something.
The man who had shouted the order looks at his brothers in arms, pats one young man on the shoulder. They nod at each other, the fear plain on the younger soldier's face. The battlefield is suddenly SILENT but for the wind across the barren plain.
In the distance we slowly begin to hear GERMAN SHOUTS, gradually growing in volume and splintering into a host of voices. We don't know what they're saying, but the message is clear; they're out for blood.
Over the top, boys! If the devil himself comes for us, let's show him what we're made of!
And with that, the soldiers, healthy and wounded alike, crawl, hop, and climb over the trench wall and into no-man's land.
We follow them up, close behind their backs as the bullets rip into them, killing half of them before they even make it into range. But the rest make up for the loss in strength, and their own fury knows no bounds.
They are ANIMALS, vicious in their hate, thirsting for blood. They tear into the German forces with their bayonets, cutting and stabbing with blades, batting and bludgeoning with rifle butts.
Then, when those are broken or lost, they use tooth and nail.
The carnage does not last long. The fury of the battle suddenly ceases, and as we move back from the horrors that splay across the blood soaked mud we see great heaps of broken flesh, the vying forces mixed as lovers in death.
POV BATTLEFIELD - LATER
Smoke obscures our vision,the sun is low, and as the smoke parts shines directly in our eyes, BLINDING us.
We hear OS the SUCKING sound of boots in mud, and thankfully the blinding light is stopped as a man steps into view, silhouetted by the sun. Slowly our eyes adjust well enough that we can see the RED CROSS that denotes the man as a MEDIC.
Don't try to move, son. You've been shot. I'm going to--
His words trail off into meaningless sounds, and the world becomes a bit darker and loses focus.
We leave the POV and now CLOSE ON the soldier's EYES. Deep blue, they dart back and forth in panic and confusion. Blood covers what little of his face we can see around his eyes.
SMASH TO TITLE CARD
END OF TEASER
We fade in from the title card, ARKHAM written in a delicate, gilded age font, cracked as if by age, white on black, to the reverse. "ARKHAM" shifts position on the screen to a slight angle, now black on white, and we zoom out slowly to see another word follows it.
We realize that we're looking at a newspaper, and as we move out a little bit farther we see a date in the corner: May 9, 1921. We quickly glimpse several headlines. Salem Bride Jumps from Fourth Floor Wilbur Wheatley: 8 Going on 30 and, most importantly, Number of Missing Women Increases
EXTREME CLOSE-UP - EYES
Suddenly the newspaper rustles as it is folded down, and we are thrust forward into the reader's BLUE EYES. Strikingly blue, they dart away from the paper to look off-screen, shifting back and forth, scanning. It might take a second, but we realize that they're the SAME EYES from the battle before, the man who lay dying at the end of the teaser.
Apparently he survived, and just by looking into his eyes we see that he's now older, more experienced, and world-weary.
Train - ArrivalCarter on train reading the Arkham Advertiser. We see date, along with several news headlines.
INT. TRAIN - DAY
We now move back to a more comfortable space, and see him sitting in a train car, the paper still in both hands, but now folded down so that he can look out the window at the trees passing.
For the first time, we meet RANDOLPH CARTER, late 20s, average height but obviously well muscled, though it's hard to tell what's underneath the grey suit he's wearing. He's handsome, and has a few days stubble growing on his chin, while his hair is slightly wild in a way that might be fashionable in about eight decades or so, but now is just messy.
In the seat beside him lays his grey fedora, and folded beneath the fedora is a dark brown TRENCH COAT.
A beat passes before he folds up the newspaper and begins to gather his things. In addition to the hat and coat, we see that he has a leather duffel bag that has obviously seen a great deal of use. He stands, hefts it over one shoulder, dons his fedora, folds his trenchcoat over his forearm, and begins to move forward down the aisle.
Drive - ArmitageDr. Armitage meets Carter at the station, and drives him to his living quarters. They catch up along the way, establishing relevant backstory and their relationship.
EXT. ARKHAM TRAIN STATION - DAY
The train pulls up to the platform, and before it even comes to a complete stop Carter steps off.
The platform is sparsely occupied, with only a few people waiting for their loved ones to debark. This is our first indication that the town is obviously not very big.
Carter looks around, scanning the faces quickly, his eyes darting between each figure, assessing.
Suddenly, we see DR. HENRY ARMITAGE, 60s, an older man with a bushy white beard and snow white hair combed back over his head, though it is hidden by a fairly out of date bowler. He wears glasses, and has the general air of a well-educated man about him.
Randolph? Randolph Carter, is that you my boy?
For the first time we see the grim exterior crack, even if it is for just a moment. He smiles, and as he reaches the older man they shake hands with a warmth that reaches back years.
It's been a long time, Doctor Armitage.
Doctor? My boy, you know full well that the title is reserved for musty meetings with the staff and conferences with other old men. And before you open your mouth, no, professor will not do either. You're old enough to simply call me Henry, I think.
Carter smiles at this. The two men obviously go back some years, but Carter hasn't seen Armitage since he was much younger.
Sorry, uh, Henry. It's good to see you again.
And you too, you too. How many years has it been? Five? Six since you left Arkham?
Seven, actually. Left a few months before the War broke out.
Armitage shakes his head at this and turns to lead Carter to a waiting car.
I must say, I was quite worried when I'd heard that you were still on the other side of the pond when it all broke out. You said something about leaving the Legion in your telegraph?
INT. CAR - DAY
Armitage wrenches open the door to the car, and as the two men sit on the wide bench he cranks the engine to life, a low roar that is surprising for a car of this era. He smiles across at Carter, who returns the smile as he waits for the sound to dampen before he speaks.
It's a long story, Henry. One that I'm afraid would ruin such a nice day. Another time.
Oh, of course of course! I don't mean to pry. Just curious, is all. What else does an old librarian have to do but interrogate his former pupils?
Oh, I'm sure you have plenty to occupy yourself around here.
Carter looks out at the buildings as they travel down the old cobble roads for a beat, then turns and looks at Armitage, who is taking his time in answering.
Hm, yes, occupied indeed.
(Back to normal)
Yes, well, things have been very interesting while you've been gone, that is true. My studies keep me busy.
Carter studies Armitage for a moment, trying to glean some meaning from the man's response.
Is everything alright, Henry?
Everything is fine, Randolph. Just fine.
Carter nods, then points up at the next street.
Here? But to get to the Miskatonic Hotel--
I have a room reserved at 197 East Pickman.
The old Witch House? Surely, you jest!
Oh, you are the last person who I would think would call it by that name.
(Carter makes a point of looking away)
Yes, well, I don't mean to say I subscribe to the old legends. I just mean that you could get a far more comfortable room at the--
Thank you, Henry, but it has already been settled.
I apologize, Randolph. I meant no harm by my surprise. Like I said, curiosity is my Achilles Heel. Are your bags being delivered?
It wasn't necessary, I have them right here.
Carter pats the duffel bag that sits at his feet. It's obviously stuffed almost to bursting. Armitage eyes the duffel, then shrugs.
Ah yes, the spartan lifestyle of the young and ex-military. I suppose you do travel light. Well, here we are!
The duo pulls off of the main road and into the driveway of an ancient manor. Grey from the ground up, it has a gambrel roof, and the walls seem to be tilting at an almost alarming angle. The house has seen better days.
At least, one would hope it had.
Carter steps out of the automobile, and looks up at the house. We zoom in on the second story window, and through it we see the silhouette of someone, it's hard to tell whether it's even a man or a woman, staring out before disappearing suddenly.
Carter holds his stare for another beat, then shrugs and pulls his bag and coat from the car.
Home sweet home.
And you're absolutely certain that you won't...
(off Carter's glare)
Yes, well, let's get you settled.
the Witch HouseWe meet Gretchen Graves, introduce Carter's new home.
He leads the way to the front door, a black and half-rotten thing. He KNOCKS several times, using the old brass knocker.
They wait for several moments, until finally the door swings open and we meet GRETCHEN GRAVES. She's in her late 70s, though she looks as old as the house itself, and in no better condition. Without being told, we know that she is the owner of the Witch House.
Yes? What do you want?
Randolph Carter, ma'am. I'm here about the room? We talked on the phone.
She pauses, and with one finger perched on her lip seems to consider herself for a moment, her eyes shifted to something far past her feet and well into the earth.
Randy Carter, that's right, of course of course. Yes yes, come in, do come in.
Carter and Armitage exchange looks, then begin to follow her inside.
Wipe your shoes!
They step back out, wipe their shoes on the mat before the front door, and follow the elderly woman inside.
INT WITCH HOUSE - CONT
The inside is much like the outside; ancient, a relic from an older time. A time that harkens back to the witchcraft trials of Salem, of the time that the house was built.
It's a lovely home, ma'am.
You say that now, yes, yes. Polite young man, that's very nice. Give it time though, and the house will grow on you, and you will see it for what it is.
Nobody knows exactly when it was built, did you know that?
I understand it was built around the town's founding, in the 1670s I believe?
Graves stops, and looks up at Armitage as if she is just noticing the professor. She nods slowly, almost to herself, before she returns to the task of leading Carter to his room.
The hallway seems to go on for quite some time before they finally arrive at a staircase, and slowly, ever so slowly the two men follow the little old woman up the ancient stairs.
Yes, that is close enough I suppose. Nobody remembers who built it, but everyone remembers who lived in it.
You are of course referring to Keziah Mason, the supposed witch?
(quiet, almost a whisper)
I wouldn't say that name here, professor. I wouldn't do that for anything.
(returning to her normal speaking voice)
A tale for another time, perhaps. For now, though, we must get you settled.
The trio arrives at the top of the stairs, and after only a few long strides (or a lot of short ones for Graves) they halt at a closed door.
Here we are. The old servant's quarters.
She takes a key from her coat and unlocks the incredibly ancient lock before handing the key to Carter. He takes a moment to examine it, then deposits it in his own pocket and opens the door.
Thank you, Miss Graves. It looks perfect.
We follow Carter into the bedroom. It's a tight space, calling it "cozy" would be considered overly generous. It houses a single bed only slightly larger than an army cot, a footlocker, a small bedside table, and a window just large enough for a man to slip through.
Carter walks to the window and looks out, first down at the street then to the sides and above. He nods to himself as he does so, apparently satisfied.
Yes, well, I hope you enjoy your stay. If you need anything at all, you just let me know, alright? My bedroom is just at the bottom of the stairs, or just ring the bell a few times and I'll hurry up as fast as my brittle old legs can carry me.
She attempts a curtsy, then returns down the stairs, leaving the two men to their own conversation.
Are you sure that I can't take you to the hotel, Randolph? Hell, if not there then I'm sure that I could convince my wife to free up the guest room for as long as you needed it.
That is far too kind, but no thank you, Henry. I am quite comfortable here.
Carter tosses his duffle onto the bed and begins to check the room a little more thoroughly. He gets down onto his hands and knees and checks beneath the bed, then lifts the mattress to look beneath that. He checks inside the footlocker, tests the lock, then opens the window and leans out.
Armitage simply stares, until Carter begins to lean so far out the window that the older man fears that he may topple out. Armitage leaps forward to grab Carter by the belt, but by the time he gets there Carter is already safely back inside.
What are you looking for?
For? Nothing, really. More just satisfying my own little hang-ups. Habit from the war, I'm afraid.
Carter smiles, then checks a clock hanging on the wall by the door.
It's getting late, Henry. Surely your wife is expecting you home soon?
I have another hour before I am to be home for dinner. Don't worry, she knows that I had come out to see an old pupil and friend, she won't wait up. Which reminds me, would you care to join us for dinner?
That is all too kind, Henry. I... well, perhaps. I'd really like to go for a walk, see all the old haunts. You know, see what's changed since I left.
Yes, well, you'd be surprised with how little has actually changed. But of course I understand. If you change your mind, just stop by whenever. My door is always open.
Carter smiles at this.
Just like in school, eh?
Armitage laughs, and pats Carter on the shoulder.
Yes, well, I suppose I am a lot like this town. Slow to change.
The two men shake hands, and Armitage takes his leave.
Carter RevealedThe others leave Carter alone, and he begins to unpack, revealing his paranoid habits and ending with his unpacking and loading a .45 with purpose.
As soon as Armitage leaves, Carter closes and LOCKS the door, then draws the curtains to shut out almost all light from the room.
Satisfied, he turns to his duffel and begins to unpack it. A few stacks of clothes are stuffed into the foot locker, followed by a few BOOKS, each one leather and obviously well worn, almost ancient. Then he unpacks a LEATHER JOURNAL which he sets on the bed, a PARCEL tied with twine, and a slightly modified ENTRENCHING TOOL.
He takes the various books, the parcel, and the clothes and places them neatly in the footlocker, with the parcel placed reverently atop the clothing.
Carter closes the trunk and removes the padlock, tossing it in with his clothes. From his duffel, he takes a brand new PADLOCK, slides it through the trunk's ring, and locks it tight.
Not perfect, but should do for now...
He picks up the parcel, and delicately unwraps it. Slowly, we discover that within the packaging is hidden a 1911 Colt .45, an obviously well taken care of piece of equipment ready for use at a moment's notice.
Carter takes a clip wrapped separately in the parcel, checks the ammunition within, and with a nod slides the magazine into the butt of the weapon with a smooth, practiced motion.
With a glance out the window, he pulls back the slide and chambers a round.
Armitage Returns to the LibraryArmitage returns to the library, and finds there has been a break in. Something terrible has happened.
EXT. WITCH HOUSE - DAY
Dr. Henry Armitage steps out of the front door of the Witch House, tips his hat in the most polite fashion possible to Gretchen Graves, and maybe with a slightly too-quick step leaves the house behind, returning to his automobile.
Kids today -- some sort of a thrill I suppose. Ah well, I suppose he's seen far worse.
He turns on the car, glances back at the Witch House, perhaps a little nervously, then pulls away. As he does so, he pulls out his pocket watch to check the time.
Hm, well, I still have time before dinner. I should check on the collection.
He makes a turn around an old brickhouse, and glides up the cobblestone streets, beneath the elms as the sun begins its decline to night.
EXT. MISKATONIC UNIVERSITY - DUSK
We now see what will become a common sight throughout the series: Miskatonic University. An ancient institution, it was built very much in the model of Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale, but never really gaining traction in more traditional fields such as law or business. Instead, Miskatonic U is world renowned for its astronomy courses, and its collection of occult manuscripts.
Henry makes his way across the quad, his shadow cast long across the red bricks of the walkways as he juggles his briefcase and his keys, searching for the proper one as he arrives at the foot of the monolithic library.
He smiles as he finds the proper key, and lifts it to the lock only to discover --
The door AJAR.
INT. MISKATONIC LIBRARY - CONT.
Henry hurries through the hallways of the old library, dark as the sun sets outside of the small, gothic windows. In too much of a panic, he ignores the light switch at the entrance and hurries onward, his heels squeaking on the marble floors.
What in the world has --
He stops in his tracks as he reaches the final doorway, a set of large oak double doors, worn almost black by time and maybe a few coats too many. The doors are open, one missing a doorknob which now lies at Armitage's feet.
Henry is afraid at first, thoughts of the burgrlars still inside crossing his mind. But then a quiet rage fills him, and straightening his back he rushes inside, an UMBRELLA from his briefcase suddenly appearing in his fist.
Come out, you ruffians! Show yourselves, and perhaps I'll show you some leniancy!
Silence. He looks about the room, at the rows and rows of glass encased bookshelves, each with small padlocks protecting the tomes within.
He begins to walk the collection, holding his umbrella with purpose. For a time, it seems that nothing else had been disturbed. That is, of course, until he arrives at the oldest volumes.
Ancient tomes from time out of mind have been collected at Miskatonic University, under Armitage's careful supervision, and locked away in glass cases further protected by a cage of iron bars. Unfortunately, those bars have been PRIED APART, the glass SHATTERED, and in despair Armitage sees that there is one volume missing.
De Vermis Mysteriis! My God--
Kidnapping!Carter hears a woman’s scream, and investigates, finding only a purse in the middle of the street.
INT WITCH HOUSE - DUSK
Carter has just holstered his COLT .45 beneath his left armpit, and is pulling on his trenchcoat. As he does he picks up the LEATHER JOURNAL and slips it into an interior pocket.
He's obviously gearing up for something.
Just as he's putting the rest of his things away, he perks his ears up and tilts his head slightly.
EXT WITCH HOUSE - CONT.
We see the sillhouette of the Witch House against the crimson sunset, the limbs of the trees swaying lightly in the breeze coming off of the ocean.
Suddenly, a WOMAN'S SCREAM shatters the tranquility, and flocks of ravens spring from the branches and into the darkening sky.
INT WITCH HOUSE - CONT.
Carter drops his bag on the floor and throws the door open, sprints down the hallway, and practically flies down the steps in the incredibly narrow stairwell.
EXT WITCH HOUSE - CONT.
The front door BURSTS OPEN as Carter explodes out, leaping over the steps leading up to the porch completely and out into the darkening street.
He takes a moment to look around, concentrating on where the scream had come from, before choosing a direction and sprinting as fast as he can down the cobblestones, his trenchcoat flowing behind him.
He turns a corner, past an old antique book store, and sees an old black ROADSTER idling a moment as one of the rear doors is pulled shut before it SPEEDS OFF.
Carter runs after it for a moment before realizing he has chance of catching it and throwing his arms up in frustration.
He turns, and returns to corner the car had been at, looking around for any sign of what might have happened. He sees nothing, but --
A PURSE, its contents spilled across the cobblestones.
SMASH TO BLACK
END OF ACT I
Introduces Audrey to the group, Miskatonic University as a set piece, Robert Blake as her teacher, and sets up the episode's B story. We also see the darker side of Arkham for the first time.
Arkham Police DepartmentBooker is seen for the first time.
INT. ARKHAM POLICE DEPARTMENT - NIGHT
Carter has both hands firmly placed, palm down, on the coutner top of a large, oaken podium bearing the emblem of the Arkham Police Department, behind which stands DETECTIVER JAY HARRIGAN. Harrigan looks bored, working on rolling a cigarette rather than listen to whatever Carter is talking about.
Between them both, on the podium, is the PURSE that Carter found in the street before.
Look, I told you before, I don't--
You don't know who the woman is or who took her, or even if she WAS taken.
No, that's not --
I'm sorry, buddy, but the Arkham police --
Her name is in her wallet! It's Maggie Edison! She's been--
Kidnapped. You said that before. Alright, listen, I'm going to go ahead and give you a break because neither of us wants to be here.
Carter begins to protest, again, but Harrigan stands up straight and holds one hand up in a gesture to let him finish.
I've listened to your story, more than once, and I've been patient with you. Now, I'll take the purse into evidence, and see what we can discover, alright? But you've gotta listen to my side a this. Here you come in, yelling bloody murder--
Kidnapping, expecting me to conduct a manhunt, but whadda we got? A purse, and your word that there was a woman's scream? Buddy, it probably fell out of an automobile or something.
Carter runs his hand through his hair in annoyance, then stands up straight, readying another assault upon Harrigan's mean demeanor.
But Harrigan beats him to the punch.
Now, I'm going to ask you, nicely, to drop the matter, go back to wherever it is you came from, and let me do MY job.
Carter balls hands into fists, keeping them close to his sides.
Fine. I'll get out of your hair. But if anything happens to that young woman, it's on you.
Harrigan nods nonchalantly, and with a single motion turns, grabs up the purse, and heads into a backroom.
Carter stares after the man for a moment, then spins on a heel and storms out of the police station.
We pull back and watch Carter exit down the clean, but somewhat dark hallway of the police station, and see that the incident did not go unwitnessed. In the shadows, we see a black man in a suit watching carefully.
His name's BOOKER SMITH. He's tall, powerfully built, with an air of suspicion about him. If you look closely, you can see a series of very small scars above his right eyebrow, just below his fedora. Otherwise, the only unusual feature about him is the color of his skin.
Audrey in ClassWe are introduced to Audrey Abney and Robert Blake, as Blake teaches a class on Creative Writing.
INT. CLASSROOM - DAY
We look in on a classroom built much in the style of any Ivy League school, with row upon row of wooden seats with attached desks layed out in ampitheater fashion, with a small area at the bottom where a man in his early 30s is standing.
He looks somewhat disheveled in the way that only English professors who take their passion for literature more seriously than their personal hygiene can.
His name is ROBERT BLAKE, and as he stands at the center of the classroom, he looks up from the crumpled paperback in his hand at the class.
Only a handful of students look back at him, and most of those look bored.
Alright, so what does have to say on the subject of man's mortality? Miss Abney? What do you think?
We see a young woman, about 20, look up from her textbook, a little startled. It's easy to see that she's gorgeous, with flowing brown hair and bright green eyes, but given the closed way she is sitting she might not have been the most popular girl in school. Her name is AUDREY ABNEY.
Uh, yes Professor Blake?
Blake sighs again, and leans up against the podium standing behind him.
It would be an honor for you to join us, Miss Abney.
Sorry sir, I guess I got a little distracted.
Yes, it would seem so. Alright, well I was just asking your opinion on today's reading, which I assume is the very reading that has gotten you so distracted?
Oh! The reading, well, I thought it was all very exciting, of course, and --
Before she can continue, a bell rings in the hallways, and the various students begin to gather their books. Blake smiles at the class, and waves them off.
Don't forget! Your papers are due NEXT WEEK. I will not be accepting anything late! Please! Don't delay!
None of the students seem to be listening, but Blake takes this in stride and returns to the rear of the podium, where he begins to gather his own things.
He shrugs into a tweed coat, gathers his books, and begins to walk up the stairs and out of the classroom.
As he does so, Audrey darts up to him, smiling sheepishly.
I'm so so sorry about that, Professor. I just couldn't stop reading--
Please, Audrey, it's alright. I'm glad you're enjoying the content so much, but I really need you to be present in class, and not just physically. You're a smart girl, and I really think that you have a lot of talent to share with us.
Audrey blushes at the praise, nodding. She seems to hesitate, then comes to a decision before speaking.
Well, to be honest Professor, I was reading one of your books. And, I was just wondering--
Blake stops at this, and looks straight at her, one eyebrow slightly raised.
One of my books? Audrey, that's flattering, but--
His demeanor slides from slightly annoyed to almost bemused.
Might I ask which one you were reading?
Audrey beams suddenly, and pulls an old battered dime store novel out of her bag. On the cover is an illustration of a rather scantily clad woman screaming as a large green monster rises above her.
It's your last published book, I think. The STAR VAMPIRE. I'm really enjoying it so far.
Blake shakes his head in slight annoyance, but smiles slightly at the book.
Oh, wow, I'm surprised you found a copy of that one. Not exactly my finest hour...
I think you're selling yourself short. I think it accomplishes what you set out to do rather well. It's scary, exciting... Perfect escapist fiction.
Blake's smile droops a little at this, and he gathers his bag and books closer to himself.
Well, I'm glad you're enjoying it. Listen, I must be going. Please, make sure you keep up with assigned reading, Audrey, and try to keep outside reading outside of the classroom. I'll see you next class.
And with that, he abruptly leaves the classroom.
Audrey stands there for a moment, slightly confused, looking at the book in her hand. With a shrug, she returns it to her bag, and leaves the classroom through the same door.
Carter MansionMaybe meets Audrey here for the first time.
EXT. CARTER MANSION - DAY
We zoom in over a sea of trees, a mix of greens and browns as the summer heat begins to hit the New England woods. Quickly, we see a strand of brown, a dirt road, snaking through the trees. We follow it for a time, until we arrive at a clearing.
Inside the clearing, we see the RUINS of an OLD MANSION.
Now at ground level, we see Randolph Carter standing in the center of the road as a TAXI drives off, throwing up dirt and rocks as it speeds away.
Carter takes a moment to breathe in his surroundings, surveying the weed infested area that used to make up a large, probably well manicured lawn. By the side of the road, we see a sign that simply says "CARTER" on it, though the letters are smudged and only barely legible.
Well, this place has seen better days.
He ponderously walks up the cracked sidewalk to the house itself. In better days, it looks like it was quite the spectacle. An old manner, probably hundreds of years old, with a tower on one side and a grand staircase leading up to the front door.
Now, it is but a shell of its former self. The roof is missing, leaving only a skeletal framework to indicate its former existence. Half the windows are bordered up, the others simply missing, gaping out at the world around them.
The brick is scorched, and the paint crumbling.
Carter ascends the staircase, slowly, carefully, and enters into the mansion.
INT. CARTER MANSION - CONT.
The inside is no better. It's dark, with the only light entering through gaps in the ceiling. Great escalators of light reach down, illuminating walls covered in ivy. The wallpaper has peeled off and crumbled to dust, and everywhere evidence of a fire is readily apparent.
He wanders through the house for probably some time, taking in the decay, imagining its former glories.
Until, finally, he hears a NOISE upstairs. He freezes, listening carefully for any further disturbances. Quickly, he is rewarded with another sound. LAUGHTER. Just a short burst, a sudden gasp of it, and then it is gone. Given the setting, it's a little eery.
Quickly, and without making a sound, he SPRINTS up the stairs, then slowly makes his way down the decrepit hallway.
Carter Meets AudreyCarter is surprised to find Audrey Abney sitting amidst the rubble, reading.
INT. CARTER MANSION - DAY
Carter stops suddenly, surprise clear on his face.
What the hell is--
Audrey SCREAMS briefly. Not a full, horror actress scream, but a surprised and immediately embarrassed, and then quickly furious scream.
She sees his gun, and THROWS her dimestore paperback at his face, HITTING him square on the nose.
Before he can continue, Audrey is out of her hammock and across the room. She LEAPS at Carter, but because of the awkwardness of leaping out of a hammock provides to a body in motion, the act is anything but graceful, and the two end up in a pile on the ground.
They stare at each other face to face for a moment, frozen, before Audrey lifts herself up just high enough so that she has room to SLAP Carter.
She reels back to slap him again, but Carter CATCHES her wrist.
Stop! I'm not going to hurt you!
Audrey freezes, staring Carter in the face for a moment before relenting, and leaning back.
Of course, now she realizes that she's straddling him, and jumps up, embarassed.
Who the hell are you? What're you doing here?
Carter sits up, rubbing the reddened side of his face in annoyance.
Thinking I should ask you the same question.
(Holds up a hand)
But in the spirit of not getting kicked in the face, I'll go first. Name's Randolph Carter, I own this place, and was just--
Audrey perks up at this, and covers her mouth with both hands, eyes wide.
Oh Christ, I'm so sorry. I mean, you can understand my position. Young lady, alone, guy with a gun... Typically doesn't end in the most romantic of situations.
She holds her hand out to help Carter up. He eyes the offering for a moment, then finally grasps it and stands.
Audrey. Audrey Abney. Really sorry about that, hope there's no hard feelings--
She stoops to pick up his pistol, grabbing it by grip and deftly releasing the hammer and engaging the safety before handing it back to him.
Carter raises an eyebrow at this, then trades the gun for her book.
Nice to meet you, ma'am. And really, no apology--
--Necessary... I'm sorry?
Really, I just attacked you. No need for formalities. Just... Audrey.
Carter pauses, then holsters the pistol and nods, a slight smile creeping onto his face.
Fine. Audrey. Mind if I ask you what--
Oh! Right! Yes, I'm sorry, I'd heard that the heir, I guess that'd be you, had left town for several years, and, well, you see the state of the place--
(sweeps a hand around the decayed room)
I didn't think anybody would mind if I snuck up here and did a little bit of reading.
Carter eyes the hammock, and the lack of dust on the floor in the room.
Come here often?
I-- Well, yeah. It's just so peaceful here, I like to come read and write on nice days like today.
Carter mulls this over for a minute, nodding slowly.
You're a-- student?
Yes! I'm finishing up my last semester at Miskatonic, getting my degree in Journalism in the summer.
Carter nods, and goes to look out at the woods, standing at the edge of the floor where a window, and a wall, used to be.
Well, I see why you come here. It is peaceful. But--
(pain crosses his face)
Audrey looks a little confused, and walks up to stand beside him, the paperback clutched to her breast.
(snaps back to the present)
For a pretty girl, I mean. You're right, guy with a gun happening upon a girl like you doesn't usually end in romance. Least, not so far as the girl's concerned.
Audrey nods quickly at this. It's obviously something she's thought of before, but never really wanted to admit as being a real possibility.
So. Randolph? How long have you been back?
Carter looks at her, then back out at the woods. The sun is starting to set, and what had previously been a beatific forest setting has started to take on a more ominous feeling.
Too long. Listen, it's getting dark, how 'bout I walk you back--
He freezes as the sound of a GUN'S HAMMER locking into place is heard.
Mister Carter, I'd kindly ask you to put your hands on your head, and move away from the young lady. You're under arrest.
Church of Starry WisdomWitness the Church of Starry Wisdom for the first time as they go about a sacrificial ceremony, killing the girl that Carter is searching for.
EXT. ARKHAM WOODS - DUSK
We follow a figure in a dark brown robe, much like a Benedictine monk's robes, as he practically glides through the deep woods outside of Arkham.
The sun is setting, casting long beams of red-orange light through the thick, dark branches.
After a few beats, the MONK arrives at an ABANDONED MINE SHAFT. The entrance has been boarded over, with a "KEEP OUT" sign nailed to the front. The monk looks around, ensuring that he is alone, and then knocks on the sign in a unique, rhythmic pattern.
After a beat, the boards suddenly are MOVED ASIDE, and the Monk moves past another man similarly garbed who bows his head at the Monk's entrance.
INT. CHURCH OF STARRY WISDOM - CONT.
We follow the Monk down a long, spiraling tunnel. Obviously, this used to be a mine shaft, but has since been completely repurposed. No longer are their tracks running down the length, in their place are broad, black stones at regular intervals. Not quite stairs, but the function as steps. There is very little light, only the occasional torch; just enough so that a path can be seen.
After what seems like we've descended too deep, we arrive at a large chamber, filled with CULTISTS in robes of jet black, their faces all shadowed by deep hoods.
A low chanting, too soft to be audible, can almost be felt throughout the chamber as the Cultists shuffle about in an odd, perplexing fashion.
In the center of the chamber are two obsidian spikes, and chained between them is LUCY LINDBERG, the girl who had been kidnapped the night before, and whom Carter is searching for.
It's like a scene out of King Kong. Each wrist is chained to one of the obsidian pillars, forcing her to stand with her arms above her head, spread-eagle. Her dress, a colorful piece quite in the fashion of the era, is ripped and hanging limp, completely in contrast with the scene around her.
Before her, on a large stone pedestal, is a curious looking object that looks like a large chunk of obsidian. It's hard to tell at first, but if you stare at it long enough you might notice that no light reflects off of it. It's a simple black void given physical shape.
She's quietly sobbing, in the way that a person does when they have been for hours; exhausted and emotionally spent, tears fall, but she doesn't even bother to look at the activity around her.
The Monk appears at her side, and kneels down beside her. She hesitates, her eyes darting back and forth, suddenly alert, but slowly she looks into the darkness of the Monk's hood.
CHANTING around the pair suddenly reaches a crescendo.
ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn [[just subbed some chanting from CoC, replace with something appropriate]]
Lucy ignores the chanting, just staring into the hood of the Monk.
You-- you'll protect me?
For the first time, we see part of the Monk's face, illuminated by firelight. He smiles.
I'll save you.
And with that he SLICES HER THROAT.
From what happens next.
We switch focus from Lucy and the Monk to the obsidian stone, what the cultists call the SHINING TRAPEZOHEDRON. The inky darkness is more pronounced now, light notably absent from it, making it hard to make out its exact shape.
Blood begins to spill down from Lucy's jugular, splashing the Trapezohedron, which HISSES as the liquid touches the surface. Black smoke rises up as more blood is spilled atop it, like throwing water on a hot stove.
The chanting increases to a deep, basso roar.
SMASH TO BLACK
END OF ACT II
Booker's IntroductionBooker introduces himself, and explains what his interest in Carter is. They form a partnership here, and maybe Audrey’s interest is piqued.
INT. CARTER MANSION - DUSK
We're back with Carter and Audrey, both standing frozen near the precipice of the bedroom, both staring into the darkness of the doorway that Carter had entered through.
Through the doorway steps BOOKER SMITH, an African American cop who's about the same age as Carter, and looks like he might've seen even more in his short time.
I won't say it again. Randolph Carter, please step away from the young woman and show me your hands.
Audrey looks alarmed, her gaze darting between the two men. Suddenly alarmed, she begins to edge away from Carter.
Carter stares at the .38 SPECIAL in Booker's fist, then the badge upon Booker's uniform, and finally fixes his gaze on Booker's eyes. Slowly, he brings his hands up and away from his coat, palms out, but never above his waist.
What's the problem, officer?
Saw you at the station, Carter, turning in that purse. Real fine of you, real fine.
Booker motions his head at Audrey to get behind him, and begins to step closer to Carter as Audrey complies.
Well, I'm not going to lie, I was pretty damned concerned for that girl who was snatched up off the street.
(Off Audrey's look of surpise)
Lucy Lindberg. Did you know her, Miss Abney?
Audrey looks confused for a moment, glancing at Booker almost for permission, but decides herself after a beat.
Y-- Yeah, I know Lucy. We have a Creative Writing class together at Miskatonic. What happened to her?
Miss Lindberg disappeared last night, just about this time, Miss... Abney, was it?
(beat for Audrey's nod)
Mister Carter here is the only witness. Big coincidence that she disappeared not even a couple of hours after you show up in town, isn't it, Mister Carter?
Carter rolls his eyes at this. Booker edges closer still.
Listen, I was just in the wrong place at the right time. If I'd been a little closer, I might've been able to stop the snatching altogether. As it is, I could only report it.
Right. Anyways, I looked you up after you left the station--
Audrey, still moving away from the two men and toward her hammock now, steps on a shard of glass, making a soft CRACKING sound.
Booker glances in her direction, and it's all the opportunity that Carter needs. Carter SPRINGS across the space between the two of them, knocking the pistol aside and shoving Booker to the ground.
Booker doesn't take long to react, HEADBUTTING Carter. Very little damage is done, but it's enough to get Carter to flinch back just far enough that Booker is able to get enough leverage to push Carter off.
Both men roll away from each other, and come up on their knees with PISTOLS IN HAND.
Who the hell are you really?
The badge not enough for you? Officer Booker Smith, Arkham Police Department. And now I'm really pissed off.
Carter scrutinizes Booker for a moment.
Audrey, do you know this man?
Audrey hesitates, then nods slowly.
Well, not personally, no, but I've seen him around town before. I don't think he's been here very long.
That's because I was transferred from Chicago only a couple of months ago.
Listen, Carter, I'm going to need you to lower your weapon. I'm not looking to shoot anyone today, but I'll do what I have to and go home with a clean conscience. You? Even if you get the shot off first, you'll be guilty of assaulting and killing a police officer. I may not be well liked at the station, but you kill someone in uniform--
Booker shrugs with his left shoulder, letting Carter fill in the blanks.
Alright. But before you arrest me, would you please talk to the girl? I haven't kidnapped anyone, I'm on my own private property, and had no idea she was here when I walked in.
Audrey sighs and walks over to stand between the two guns.
He's right, officer. I'm trespassing, as I do on occasion, and Mister Carter here thought I was a squatter or burglar or something. He could've pulled that gun on me earlier, but he was polite and treated me quite well. I will stick up for him.
Carter lowers his pistol, slowly, and holsters it back on his right hip. Booker looks between the two of them, and lowers his revolver, though he doesn't actually holster it.
You know, funny thing is that I wasn't actually going to arrest you.
Booker and Carter exchange forced smiles, and both men slowly rise from their crouched positions.
Well, I wasn't going to actually shoot you. Just had -- bad experiences with people dressed up as the law before.
You're a lot faster than you look. Veteran?
Carter grins at this.
You're kidding, the Hellfighters? Damn, if I'd known that I would've been more careful.
You saw combat?
Served with the Legion. France, North Africa.
Saw a lot out there. Combat was just one of them.
Booker appraises the man with new eyes, nods, and holsters his revolver.
Audrey looks back and forth between the men, then rolls her eyes.
Great, now that we're done--
(waves hand theatrically)
With whatever all THIS is, can we calmly talk about what's going on here like rational adults? Christ.
Booker and Carter smile at this, nod, and make their way over to where Audrey and Carter had been standing before.
Booker pulls out a wrinkled pack of cigarettes, offering one to Carter. Carter shakes his head, but Audrey reaches over and grabs it. Booker pauses, pulls one out for himself, then lights them both.
Started about three months ago, few weeks before I was transferred. Young women, just disappearing off the streets. They've been reported, but never found any evidence of wrongdoing, so they've just been written off as a bunch of bored girls dropping everything and moving to the big city.
From what I understand, that kind of thing happens in small towns like this.
But you just accused me of kidnapping.
I never believed the official line here. Too many, too regular, and they never took their possessions with them. Captain started giving me the cases when they came up because I think he honestly believed there was nothing to them. Me? I'm not so trusting. Something's going on here. Something that nobody else wants to hear about.
And the purse that I found?
First piece of evidence we've had connected to the disappearances. They've been picking up, the last couple of weeks. Every few nights somebody will up and vanish. Whatever's going on, it's reaching a fever pitch.
These-- these girls, do you have a list or anything?
Booker nods, reaches into his jacket, and produces a piece of paper. Audrey takes it, glancing it over.
Oh. Oh my god. I know some of these-- a lot of these girls. I hadn't seen them in a while, but, I just didn't think much of it.
Did you know any of them well?
No, not really. Just saw them in class for the most part. Don't really have a lot of girlfriends, you know? But Jesus--
Alright, if this has been going on for that long already-- anything else odd happen anytime recently around town? New evangelicals? Snake oil salesman? Weird weather? Anything out of the ordinary at all?
Audrey and Booker both stare at him in silence.
Uh, you grew up here, right?
Yeah, there's always crazy stuff like that happening around here. People just kind of got used to it though.
I haven't been here too long, but yeah, that stuff does seem to happen with surprising regularity. Mysterious deaths, unexplained noises, crazy weather-- yeah, Arkham's got it all. And, of course, they give me most of those cases 'cause there's nothing TO solve.
You'd be surprised. Alright, I need to look up some leads, maybe we can get to the bottom of this mess together. Partners?
Carter sticks out his hand to Booker, who looks somewhat surprised at the gesture. A slight smile creeps up, and with a nod he grips Carter's hand with his own.
Partners. For now. You pull any of that crap on me again--
Hey, you don't try to arrest me, and I think we'll get along just fine.
The two turn to leave, when behind them Audrey CLEARS her throat, very loudly.
Aren't you boys forgetting somebody here?
Booker and Carter look at each other, then back at Audrey.
Uh, sorry, ma'am, but I'll be more than happy to take you back to your hom--
Thank you, OFFICER, but that was not what I meant. I can be a huge help! We've already established that all of the victims are women of about my age, and that I've known a decent amount of them. I'm about to graduate with a degree in journalism. This is a HUGE story that hasn't been reported yet, and--
Audrey, this is way too dangerous for you. I'm sure you'd be a huge help, but I'm afraid that we can't just--
Audrey nods, walks up to Carter, and KNEES HIM right in the balls. Carter doubles over in pain, air bursting from his mouth.
I can hold my own, thank you Mister Carter. I'm a big girl, and have been taking care of myself for a long time now.
My brother is officer Aaron Abney, you may know him.
Abney? Oh, right, should've known. Yeah, I know him. You really don't remind me of him at all.
That's because we don't exactly get along most of the time. But despite that, he's taught me how to defend myself from self-absorbed jerks. Like I said, I can help you guys out.
Either way, I'll be asking around about these girls. If you want to be in on the loop, better cut me in on your side.
Yeah. Sure. Just don't let her near me.
Booker laughs, nods, and motions for Audrey to leave the room before him.
Whatever you say, lady.
NightmareNot sure what this will consist of, but it's Carter's nightmare. Visions of primordial cities of bizarre geometries, glimpses of creatures within. Nightmare fuel.
EXT. CARTER MANSION - NIGHT
POV on the starry night sky, framed by tree branches swaying lazily in the summer breeze. The rustling of leaves is the only sound, until --
MRS CARTER (OS)
Randy? You out here?
Now we see who was laying in the grassy field on such a clear summer night. Carter, now a young boy, sits up into frame and looks around until he finds the source of the voice. HIS MOTHER.
Over here, mom!
His mother is a beautiful, regal woman in her 30s. She strolls through the long grass until she comes up beside Carter, and smiles.
Randolph, your dinner's going to get cold. Let's go back inside.
Young Randolph sighs, but nods and jumps up to follow her back inside.
But before he can take two steps, he's frozen in place. He stares in wide eyed HORROR in the direction of the house. His mother just stands there, SMILING at him.
We cannot see what Randolph is staring at, but the orange, undulating glow on his face might give us a clue.
Now we pull back so that we can see what's happening. The House is ON FIRE, flames reaching high into the night sky.
Mrs. Carter is silhouetted by the flames, standing calmly in the field looking down on Randolph. Randolph looks up at her, his hand shaking as he points at the blaze.
It's time for dinner, Randolph.
She takes his hand, and begins to DRAG Randolph into the inferno. Without hesitating, she enters the flames.
INT. POLICE CAR - DAY
Carter WAKES in a start, breathing heavily.
Carter looks around, confused. He's sitting in the back seat of Booker's police car, while Booker drives and Audrey rides shotgun. They're driving down the wooded road back to town, as the sun sets.
He rubs his eyes, then nods.
Yeah. Fine. Must've fallen asleep.