Manage episode 300828395 series 2034979
Adapted by Julie Hoverson from the short story by H.P. Lovecraft and Kenneth Sterling
When Kenton Stanfield takes a job on Venus hunting for power crystals, he finds the hazards of the job too much to handle.
- Kenton Stanfield - Reynaud LeBoeuf
- Frederick Dwight - Cole Hornaday
- Marshall Miller - Pat McNally
- Dana Manners - Julie Hoverson
- Supply Clerk - Marge Lutton
- Recorder - Beverly Poole
"What kind of a place is it? Would you believe it's a mining colony on the steamy jungle planet we call Venus?"
Within the walls of Eryx
Adapted by Julie Hoverson from the original story by H.P. Lovecraft and Kenneth Sterling.
This was the second story I ever tried to adapt - the first one I did as an audio drama. I had previously adapted The Thing on the Doorstep into a short film script - which I much later rewrote into an audio drama, and that will come up when it comes up. This one was also one of the original ten episodes I put together for the series.
You can see, I was starting with an easy writer to adapt.... H.P. Lovecraft. HAH!
Since then, I have actually adapted a LOT of Lovecraft, and one of the reasons his writing is so hard to translate into other mediums is that much of his genius is in his actual use of words, and unless you quote his long descriptive passages word for word, you lose that. And if you do quote large chunks of it, you might as well just make an audio book. I try and walk a fine line.
As an aside - I know the title of the story is actually "IN the Walls of Eryx", but that always bothered me as being incorrect - the RATS are IN the walls (in the story The Rats in the Walls). These guys are WITHIN the walls - between the actual walls, you know?
In the Walls of Eryx was one of HPL's many collaborations and rewrites. Little is known of Kenneth Sterling, the high school student and aspiring writer who sought Lovecraft's help, but he was clearly a sci fi fan - Eryx is unusual among Lovecraft's works as being a pure scifi story, with very little horror or mythos or mythical background to it, even if Lovecraft is generally credited with a complete rewrite and expansion of Kenneth's original idea.
In the 1930s, when this was written, a common sci fi trope was that Venus was a steamy jungle planet, often populated by some lizardy species, and it appears as such in this story. The other details are fairly unique to Eryx.
Since the original story was all one man's report, technically written out, I had to pull scenes from his story and create them, and the characters in them, from whole cloth. Not to mention adding somebody - "Miss Manners" - he could report in to throughout the story, to add some audio texture when Kenton was technically out on his own, as well as the voice for his "recorder" unit, which also functions as a sort of encyclopedia, and helps break up the heavy data dump of "this is how Venus works".
Perhaps the weirdest thing to try and portray in audio is the very "visual" presence - or absence - of the walls themselves. A maze of invisible walls. Or the native Venusians - whose weird cries were originally geese, if I remember correctly. I think I slowed them down and ran them backward, or something like that.
I also chose to tell this story vastly out of order, to give a sense of foreboding from the very start, as the audience hears how bad Kenton is doing, winding down, but still without giving away how it will ultimately end. To make the time shifts clear, since they happen throughout the story, I created three different background ambiances for his log entries - since they have no other point of reference - each with his breather machinery getting a bit clunkier and running down.
Beyond that, everything rested heavily on Reynaud LeBeouf, the actor playing Kenton, to create the stages of the character's downward spiral. We did record each set of scenes separately, out of order, essentially, so all the chatty beginnings were all at once and the weak and wearied end at the end. Rey is one of my core group of go-to actors, and you'll hear him a lot in 19 Nocturne Boulevard.
This was also recorded with the help of A-R-T - American Radio Theater - and many of the actors in it were part of that group. A-R-T is a group of old time radio enthusiasts who focused on re-creating old episodes and working on the occasional newer play. Having been part of the group for years before I began 19 Nocturne Boulevard, I featured various actors from A-R-T in a number of my episodes.
WITHIN THE WALLS OF ERYX
Kenton J. Stanfield (M/25), space prospector
Frederick N. Dwight (M/30), space prospector
Marshall Miller (M/40), commander
Dana Manners (F/30), contact at control
Supply Clerk (any)
Recorder, mechanical voice (any)
OLIVIA Did you have any trouble finding it? What do you mean, what kind of a place is it? Would you believe, it's a mining camp on the steamy jungle planet we call Venus?
NOTE: "AMBIANCE" CUES ARE FOR BACKGROUND SOUNDS THAT CONTINUE THROUGHOUT EACH SCENE. THEY ARE DETAILED AT THE END OF THE SCRIPT
SCENE 1. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 5
KENTON [filter, weak] Venus month 6, day 14, nighttime. Kenton J. Stanfield. Perhaps my final report. [rasping bark of almost laughter] My fifth whole day. Canteen went dry at noon. Food tablets not dangerously low... yet. Chlorate cubes are my real worry. I feel...weak from my forced economy in oxygen, and from my constantly mounting thirst.
SCENE 2. MINING BASE
SOUND TWO MEN WALK IN A FACILITY
KENTON [hale & hearty] You're still using Carter oxygen units? But they're so darn heavy!
MILLER Budget's god around here, kid. You'll see. We're not funded like the government.
KENTON A Dubois mask isn't that much more, and does the job at half the weight. Saves on chlorate cubes, too.
MILLER Just figure how much "not much more" IS when multiplied by over a hundred prospectors. If you last up here, you can always get yourself a Dubois. [chuckles] Once you start making the big bucks.
KENTON The way you say that...
MILLER Oh, it happens. Just not that often.
SCENE 3. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 5
KENTON [filter, weak] I do not know the time. It is dark. There is something damnable... something uncanny... about this labyrinth. I could swear that I had eliminated certain turns through charting, and yet each new trial belies some assumption I had thought established. Never before did I realize how lost we are without visual landmarks.
SCENE 4. JUNGLE
SOUND SLIGHT, RHYTHMIC BEEPING CONTINUES UNDER ENTIRE SCENE [crystal detector]
SOUND [FILTER] CRACKLE OF RADIO INTERFERENCE INTERMITTENT THROUGHOUT.
DANA [filter] Hey greenhorn! This is your contact, Dana Manners, speaking. [chuckle] That's Miss Manners, to you. You got me for a glorious half hour.
KENTON What? Why only--?
DANA [filter] Don't none of you boys ever crack a manual? [quoting] "The company's only rebroadcast orbiter is a" - well, it's a dang fast critter - so it "provides a window for one half hour approximately every six hours for each sector." And that's your first five minutes. Care to waste some more, or you plan to make some kinda report?
KENTON [chuckling] Sorry! OK, my coordinates--
SOUND different beeping [pocket recorder]
DANA [filter] Good-Ness. Did you bring your blankie, too? All that boring info is sent up automatic-like.
KENTON [worried] But... my log, too?
DANA [filter] [pause, prolonging the agony] Nah, takes too much juice. This way, you get to edit out all your little personal comments and naughty little secrets before handing it over for archiving.
KENTON [relieved] Oh. Good.
DANA [filter] So you one of those boys who grew up just panting to work on Venus?
KENTON Actually, I wanted to be a writer. Venus just pays better. Now it seems like I--
DANA [filter] --got hustled out of the base the minute your feet touched the sweet soggy ground? Y'ain't the first. "Here's your mask, grab your suit, what's yer hurry?"
KENTON Pretty much.
SCENE 5. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 5
KENTON [filter, weak] ...Continued. The effect of all these fr-fruitless wanderings is one of profound discouragement. I can understand how poor Dwight must have felt. His corpse is now just a skeleton, and the sificlighs and farnoth-flies are gone.
SCENE 6. MINING BASE
AMB CANTEEN, EATING
MILLER It's all about the crystals, kid. You read the manual?
MILLER You had an entire rocket trip and--?
KENTON [sheepish] Well... There was this poker game--
MILLER [oh lord!] Save me from greenhorns with less sense than kittens! That book could have saved your life, you know.
KENTON Well, I figured there'd be time--
MILLER There's never enough time. Men who can withstand the strains of crystal hunting here on Venus are few and far between. Most - like yourself - last no more than three trips.
KENTON What makes you think--?
MILLER Prove me wrong.
DWIGHT [off mike] Hey! Miller!
MILLER See that? Now there's a guy who knows his beans.
DWIGHT [coming closer, gloating] Miller! Read it and weep!
SOUND paper FLOURISH.
DWIGHT Twenty-three carats!
MILLER Twenty-three? That's--
DWIGHT Right there in black and white. Beat that!
MILLER [to Kenton] Kenton, this is Dwight - Fred Dwight, one of the brightest stars of the Terra Nova Corp.
DWIGHT The brightest star. Ken, is it? Well, Ken, there ain't no one else out there's netted as many total lifetime karats as me. Over seven hundred.
KENTON Oh. Um, I don't--
MILLER Kid skipped the manual.
DWIGHT Pfah. OK, it takes about 20 karats to power, say the entire city of Chicago for a year. Shoot, by my calculations, I've kept the entire eastern seaboard lit for the last five!
SCENE 7. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 4
KENTON [filter, tired] Nightfall. There is nothing to do but persevere. Dwight would have got out if he had kept on a minute longer. It is just possible that somebody from Terra Nova will come looking for me before long, although this is only my fourth day out.
SCENE 8. SUPPLY OFFICE
SOUND OBJECTS BEING BROUGHT OUT AND SET DOWN
SUPPLY CLERK Suit fit OK? Last chance.
KENTON Feels fine.
MILLER With the tropical atmosphere out there, you better be sure - five days is a long damn time to chafe.
KENTON [chuckles] I understand. I'm sure. So my tour is five days?
MILLER To start with. You remember Dwight? Now there's a long-hauler. Does about 2 months - earth months, 60 days - on most trips.
SUPPLY CLERK Food tablets. One week.
SOUND BOX being set down.
MILLER But then, he's been Cytherean for over a decade.
MILLER Means "of Venus" to us long-timers. We feel "Venusian" sounds too damn silly after all the crummy movies.
SUPPLY CLERK Breathing unit.
SOUND larger box
KENTON Cytherean. Got it.
MILLER Dwight's practically one of the locals. You seen them yet?
SUPPLY CLERK Chlorate cubes. One week.
SOUND another box
KENTON Only pictures - now THAT part of the manual I did look over. [shudder] Creepy little buggers, aren't they?
MILLER Little? Ken, Ken, Ken. [sigh] You didn't look hard enough - on average, the lizard-men run seven feet tall!
SUPPLY CLERK Recording unit.
MILLER Don't worry too much. They're-- well, they're not harmless, not by a long chalk, but they're... manageable.
KENTON So those...tentacles they've got for arms...?
SUPPLY CLERK Crystal detector.
MILLER Arms, legs, tongue, who knows what they are - Yup, four or five feet long on some of them. We call them lizard-men, what with the greenish, scaly skin and all, but they're not really like anything back home.
KENTON [awe] Seven feet tall...
SUPPLY CLERK Flame pistol. Fully charged.
SCENE 9. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 4
KENTON [filter, tired] Four days out. I think. I am resolved not to hasten matters as Dwight did. His grinning skull has just turned toward me, shifting by the groping of one of the scavengers that are picking him over. The ghoulish stare of its empty eye-sockets is worse than the tentacled onlookers that stand gloating around the invisible barrier laughing at me. Another day and I shall go mad, if I do not drop dead from exhaustion.
SCENE 10. JUNGLE
SOUND strong, rhythmic beeping THROUGHOUT SCENE [crystal detector]
KENTON You still there, Miss Manners?
DANA [filter, very crackly throughout] Just another coupla minutes. What's your beef?
KENTON I've got a reading on my crystal detector - looks like a big one.
DANA [filter] Them things ain't reliable for size, just direction. Could be just an itty bitty one, real nearby.
KENTON Well, what's the terrain like due, um...
SOUND beeping gets slower, then picks up again AS HE TURNS
KENTON North, I think, of my current position?
DANA [filter] North? [prolonged crackle] --Erycinian highlands-- [crackle] --last known position of--
SOUND crackling. CLICK - radio turned off.
KENTON Great. On my own again. Recorder?
RECORDER [filter, mechanical voice] Ready.
KENTON Erycinian highlands?
RECORDER [filter] A plateau mapped by Matsugawa from the air fifty years ago. Designated 'Eryx' One of the few areas of any size on Venus noted for a lack of vegetation--
KENTON Off. Lack of vegetation? That'll be a relief. Anything to get out of those rubbery creepers and overhanging fronds.
SCENE 11. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 3
KENTON [filter, normal] Month 6, Day 12, my third day out. Afternoon. In less than an hour, I saw that the jungle growths were thinning out, and by five o'clock - after passing through a belt of tree-ferns with very little underbrush - I emerged on a broad plateau. My progress now became rapid, and I saw by the wavering of my detector-needle that I was getting closer to the crystal I sought.
SCENE 12. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE BAR - MAINLY MALE VOICES
MILLER Some brainy types insist they're intelligent.
DWIGHT The lizzies? [dismissive] Screwballs.
KENTON Well, they build cities--
DWIGHT Anthills. Beehives. And we don't try to make treaties with bugs, do we? Hmm?
KENTON But they talk... don't they?
MILLER That's been debated for years. There seems to be some pattern to the tentacle movements--
DWIGHT Yeah, and bees dance. I've been out there longer than just about anyone, and they're nothing but a damn nuisance.
MILLER A religious nuisance.
DWIGHT So they worship the crystals. Big deal. They can't use 'em - don't even know they do anything more'n glow. If we wanna change things, we got about two real choices--
MILLER [ironic] Try and civilize them, like we did with everyone back home?
DWIGHT Nah - they're way too primitive for that. I say we either gotta cage 'em up like the animals they are--
MILLER We've tried THAT one before, too.
DWIGHT Or we can just blow em all away. Why not? They're not decorative, useful, or even edible. They don't do ANYTHING worth keeping 'em around.
SCENE 13. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 4
KENTON [filter, tired] Note to self. Um, day - fourth. Fourth day. I racked my brains with speculations regarding the material, origin, and purpose of the strange edifice. That the hands of men might have reared it, I could not for a moment believe. Human knowledge does not include any perfectly transparent, non-reflective solid such as the substance of this building. Did a forgotten race of highly-evolved beings precede the man-lizards as masters of Venus? The strange and seemingly non-practical building and its material suggests a religious purpose.
SCENE 14. PLATEAU
SOUND RADIO STATIC
KENTON Contact? You back yet? Manners? Damn.
SOUND crackling static. radio CLICKS off
KENTON This is just... nuts!
SOUND two thunks - pounding on stone wall
KENTON What the heck is this stuff?
SOUND pounding, hand groping along wall
KENTON Hmm. Smooth. Cool to the--
SOUND RADIO STATIC
DANA [filter] Contact here. Report?
KENTON Have I got a report for you! I found an invisible wall!
SCENE 15. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 5
KENTON [filter, weak] Fifth day out, and I doubt I will see a sixth. Very weak. Did not sleep much till daylight. Must save chlorate cubes, so I'm nearly suffocating for lack of oxygen. Can't walk much of the time, but ma-manage a crawl. Those damnable green things keep staring and laughing with their tentacles, and sometimes they gesticulate in a way that makes me think they share some terrible joke, just beyond my perception.
SCENE 16. PLATEAU
DANA [filter] Listen to me real careful now, Ken. You need to close your eyes and start backing up. Right this minute.
KENTON What? My recorder unit lists nothing about invisible walls--
DANA [filter] You backing up yet? Ignore anything you see or hear--
KENTON Why, for crying out loud?
DANA [filter] Get yourself clear first, then check your recorder's entry for mirage-plants. Move your backside! Them things're deadly.
KENTON Wait. No... Wait a minute. I'm in the middle of the plains of Eryx. No plants within a half mile. Nothing to see but mud, and-- [cuts himself off]
SOUND BEEPING [crystal detector]
DANA [filter] [beat] Yeah? Mud and ...?
KENTON [evasive] Hmm? Oh, the walls. But you can't SEE them because they're invisible.
SCENE 17. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 3
KENTON [filter] Third day, supplemental. What made my heart leap was a smaller detail, whose position could not have been far from the plain's exact centre. It was a single point of light, blazing through the mist and seeming to draw a piercing, concentrated luminescence from the yellowish, vapor-dulled sunbeams. This, without doubt, was the crystal I sought. I could hardly wonder, as I glimpsed the distant glow, that those miserable man-lizards worship them.
SCENE 18. PLATEAU
SOUND squishy footsteps, intermittent throughout
KENTON --maybe 20 feet tall - I managed to throw a handful of mud about that high, and it went over.
DANA [filter] I ain't got any maps or archives with specifics for that locale. Not a popular spot, seeing as there's none of the streams them crystals show up in.
KENTON No streams, but plenty of damp - the whole plateau is-- [slight shudder] --like a solid sheet of slimy mud, with a light frosting of ground mist.
DANA [filter] Could this wall thing be some kinda natural phenomena?
KENTON Too smooth. Very regular. Slightly curved, too, I think. Ovoid.
DANA [filter] You writers and your big ole words... Been all the way round yet?
KENTON I don't think so, but I can't really tell--
DANA [filter] [condescending] Well, did you hit your own dainty little footsteps again?
KENTON Not a chance. The mud is so liquid, it just doesn't take - not even for a minute. It's like I haven't been here before.
DANA [filter] I need you to mark your position and come back to base, Ken. This is way outside standard procedure. You hear me?
KENTON Got it. I'll get out of here pretty soon. I just wanted to--
SOUND BEEPING [crystal detector] SPEEDS UP SLIGHTLY. THEN IS MUFFLED.
KENTON --to get all the way round, just once.
DANA [filter] Honey, I'll be flat out of range in two shakes. I don't want to worry you none, but if anything happens out there, it could be days before help'll arrive.
KENTON Days? But a lander would only‑‑
DANA [filter] Manpower and money, old son. Base only has a dozen resident staff, and none of us is jungle-worthy. We gotta wait for some of you roughnecks to wander on home, THEN the company has to pay fer their time fer a rescue. Why d'you think they load you up with plenty of ammo? Much cheaper.
KENTON It's a wonder they bother.
DANA [filter] [serious] And death benefits.
DANA [filter] They're cheaper, too.
SCENE 19. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 5
KENTON [filter, weak] Horror and despair. Baffled again! I had been deceived once more, and was apparently back where I had been on my first futile attempt to leave the labyrinth. Whether I screamed aloud I do not know - perhaps I was too weak to utter a sound. I merely lay dazed in the mud for a long period, while the greenish things outside leaped and laughed and gestured.
SCENE 20. MINING BASE
KENTON Isn't this a lot of ammo? I mean, seven clips--
DWIGHT One a day - that's pretty average. Save 'em for the trip home. The lizzies don't usually try much right away - that is, until you got one of their precious crystals. The worst you can expect before you make a find is pot-shots with blow-gun darts.
KENTON Blow-guns? That's it?
DWIGHT Don't scoff. One of those darts'll slice through your suit like butter. All it needs to do is nick you and the local germs do the rest - if the insects don't get you first. [beat] If you don't get back to base in time... Well, you noticed the bartender's hand?
KENTON [gulps] The hook?
SCENE 21. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 3
KENTON [filter, normal] Late afternoon, third day. I have said that even from a great distance the shining object's position seems indefinably queer - a slight mound rising from the slime and mist. Now - at about a hundred yards - I could see plainly just what that mound was. It was the body of a man in one of the Company's protective suits, lying on his back, with his oxygen mask half buried in the mud a few inches away. In his right hand, crushed convulsively against his chest, was the crystal which had led me here - a spheroid of incredible size, so large that the dead fingers could scarcely close over it. I wondered who the man was.
SCENE 22. PLATEAU
KENTON Holy cow!
SOUND THUMP ON WALL
SOUND THUMPING ON WALL, HURRIED SPLISHING FOOTSTEPS
KENTON Oh, jeez. [SOUND: THUMP] But the walls-- [SOUND: THUMP] How could he-- [gasps] Woah!
SOUND splash in the watery mud as he finds a gap.
SCENE 23. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 3
KENTON [filter, normal] There was an opening about three feet wide. Without a moment's hesitation I stepped through and advanced two paces to the prostrate body - which lay in what seemed to be an intersecting doorless corridor. It gave me a fresh curiosity to find that the interior of this vast enclosure was divided by partitions...
SCENE 24. BAR
SOUND TIN CUP SET DOWN
DWIGHT [a bit drunk] I hope I die out there.
SOUND LIQUID POURS
KENTON You want to die?
DWIGHT No - don't WANT to, just that when I do, I hope it's out there. In the jungle. The scavengers'll strip me clean in a coupla hours and no one'll ever know what happened.
MILLER Just make sure you're dead first. Some of them bugs don't wait.
KENTON Will they really--?
MILLER That's why the suits are made the way they are - like cellophane, but thicker. No weave, no tiny holes for bugs to get in through.
KENTON But the suit doesn't cover everything--?
DWIGHT Ah, they don't like the breather. Smells bad or something. So your head is pretty safe... as long as you don't take it off.
SCENE 25. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 3
KENTON [filter, normal] Looking about for some possible cause of death, my eyes lit upon the oxygen mask lying close to the body's feet. Probably carelessly buckled, so the weight of the tubes worked the straps loose - wouldn't've happened with a Dubois sponge-reservoir mask.
SCENE 26. PLATEAU
KENTON Well, Dwight, old buddy, you got your wish. At least this baby won't go to waste. [grunts] Let go! [grunts again] Aha!
SOUND a couple of squish-steps
KENTON Waitaminute. Wait... Rigor mortis, it... it doesn't last... Manners, you there?
SOUND crackle of radio
KENTON Rigor mortis.
RECORDER A condition of deceased flesh. A spasming of muscles--
KENTON How long does it last?
SOUND rustling, slapping noises far in background
RECORDER Rigor begins 3-7 hours after termination of life, and lasts approximately 12 hours.
KENTON Off. Holy--! Dwight...
SOUND rustling, slapping noises build
KENTON What in sam hill--? [what the heck?]
SCENE 27. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 3
KENTON [filter, normal] It was a group of a dozen or so of those detestable man-lizards emerging from the forest far off across the plain. When they drew nearer they seemed less truly reptilian - only the flat head and the green, slimy, frog-like skin carrying out the idea. They walked erect on odd, thick stumps, which made curious noises in the mud. The motions of their tentacles - if the theories are right - indicated that the things were in animated conversation.
SCENE 28. PLATEAU
DANA [filter] You asleep?
KENTON [bummed] Would it matter?
DANA [filter] You sound real down. Tell mama Manners all about it. You may not have a lot of time, though, there's some sunspot activity predicted for tonight, so I may have to miss a date or two-- but you can forgive a girl for that, can't you?
KENTON I-- I'm lost.
DANA [filter] Nonsense. You're nowhere near uncharted territory. Just punch into the recorder--
KENTON Oh, I know exactly where I am. But I'm still lost.
DANA [filter, half joking] Is this where I start telling you to back away quickly?
KENTON The invisible wall? Well, it's more like--
DANA [filter] Like what? An invisible barn?
KENTON --An invisible ...maze. I can see the entire plain from here, the trees are at the edges, the sky above, but I can't... get... out.
DANA [filter] Have you tried taking every left fork? That usually--
KENTON There's something else. I-- There's a crowd of the lizard-men just waiting at the entrance - ready to jump me if I manage to escape.
DANA [filter] Two things--
KENTON I need some help--
DANA [filter, sadly] Ain't gonna happen. [crackle] Not for a couple days. Sunspots play havoc with landing vehicles, same as communications.
KENTON So I just--
DANA [filter] Listen to me Ken. You've never tried shooting one of them things, have ya? The flame guns are particularly nasty. Them critters go up like oily rags. Once you get one or two of 'em, the others'll head for the hills. They don't really wanna fight--
DWIGHT [filter, distant and echoey] That is, until you got one of the precious crystals.
KENTON Oh. [resolved] No.
DANA [filter] No? No what?
KENTON I'm not giving it up.
DANA [filter] That's the spirit, Ken. Long as you're in a safe place, just sit tight, and we'll get a rescue party in, soon as possible.
KENTON [considering] You mean other prospectors, right?
DANA [filter] Yep.
KENTON Maybe I will be out of here by then...
SCENE 29. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 4
KENTON [filter, tired] Fourth day. Shortly after dawn. The alluring crystal, the body of the man who seized it before me - these have acquired a dark and threatening meaning. Dwight was a victim, too. He must have been trapped some time ago, and failed to find his way out. His mask probably didn't slip accidentally. Rather than face a lingering death he solved the issue by letting the lethal atmosphere do its work. The horrible irony of his fate lay in his position - only a few feet from the exit he failed to find. And now I'm as trapped as he'd been.
SCENE 30. plateau
KENTON [tired, but not quite exhausted - yet] Recorder.
RECORDER [filter] Ready.
KENTON Location - central chamber. Describe?
RECORDER [filter] Round chamber. Six irregularly spaced egresses.
RECORDER [filter] You have 27 times attempted the exit you designated "door in line with corpse and tree".
KENTON Yeah, well... Then I realized three of the doors all line up that way. There's just not enough difference in perspective.
RECORDER [filter] You have recorded 43 trips out of the central chamber.
KENTON I know. With no way to mark anything, I can't tell which door is which.
RECORDER [filter] You have attempted to score the wall with your knife, and with your flame pistol. You have tried to make a mark in ink, and smear it with mud. You have reported no success.
KENTON Picking a damn door at random would do me more good.
RECORDER [filter] Correlating the turns you have thus far recorded, a random choice would give you odds of 1 in--
SCENE 31. KENTON'S LOG
AMBIANCE LOG 5
KENTON [filter, weak] This, then, is the end. Three days, taking me nowhere. My strength is gone. It was no common series of mischances which made me lose my way in this roofless, unseen tangle of corridors. Far from it. Beyond doubt, the place is a genuine maze - a labyrinth - a trap set to catch humans.
SCENE 32. PLATEAU
KENTON [weak, not on filter] Hiya Dwight. Hey, buddy.
SOUND weak pounding on wall, splishes of vague movement in the mud.
KENTON You got it all over me. You almost made it, old pal. Almost...
SOUND RUSTLING AND SPLISHING [Kenton takes out his recorder]
KENTON Recorder on.
RECORDER [filter] Ready.
SOUND ALIEN NOISES GET LOUDER.
KENTON [weak] I have just taken the great crystal out of my pouch to look at in my last moments. It shines fiercely and menacingly in the red rays of the dying day. The leaping horde have noticed it, and their g-gestures have changed in a way I cannot understand. I am ... growing ... numb.
SOUND ONE LAST LABORED EXHALE, MACHINE SLOWS, THEN A MOMENT OF SILENCE.
SCENE 33. GENERAL QUARTERS
[NOTE: Miller is dictating, not playing back, so he is NOT on a filter]
MILLER Operative A-49, Kenton J. Stanfield left Terra Nova early on six-twelve, for a short-term trip. Due back 13th or 14th. Did not appear by evening of 15th. Followed last reported location to Erycinian Highland. Brought plane down nearby and corner of the wing crashed on unseen obstruction. Approaching on foot, we came up short against a smooth, invisible barrier. Located skeleton of Operative B-9, Frederick N. Dwight of Koenig's division, and aforementioned deceased, Stanfield. We had great difficulty in getting to Stanfield, but finally succeeded. We shall bury Dwight and Stanfield in the company graveyard, and ship the crystal on the next--
SOUND beep [phone].
SOUND phone picked up.
DANA [filter] I heard--
DANA [filter] And I'm real sorry. Boy seemed real nice--
MILLER He was. Keep it under your hat, but I think this is the last straw.
DANA [filter] Last straw?
MILLER [sigh] I have been warned. The next rocket'll be carrying marines.
DANA [filter] [shocked] Oh. Well. I AM sorry.
SOUND HANGS up PHONE.
MILLER Recorder on.
RECORDER [filter] Ready.
MILLER [sigh] Personal note. I am impressed not only with the irony of Dwight's fate, but with that of Stanfield as well. We found a doorway some fifteen feet past Dwight. Beyond this was a hall and ... oh, hell... Stanfield could have reached the outside by walking twenty-two feet if he had just found the opening directly behind him.