This volume takes place in Lawrence, Kansas, near KU, in a small music, movies and more store called Vandals. Two store workers, the new hire, and a delivery man experience the supernatural powers of an enigmatic cymbal clapping monkey toy. Blackouts, lost time, and mysterious murders abound.
Cast Roles Edit
- October Baby (Markeia McCarty) - Assistant Manager of Vandals, she is 19, turns 20 in three days, long, wild, curly, caramel colored hair. Petite. Scam artist. Was in foster care. Dual Sociology and Finance Major.
- Arch Chase (Mike Ginn) - Delivery guy, unwitting deliverer of evil. Arch is in his thirties and all he wants to be is 'rich and successful', coming from a low income home with poor guidance, Arch never went to college. He chases his dream through failed entrepreneurial ventures and dead end jobs. Has dabbled in illegal activities to get rich quick.
- Charlotte Everly (Kate Elliott) - Teller at Vandals, looks like Kate, born into a House of England. Never felt like she fit in there, she's capable but yearns for adventure elsewhere, on her 19th birthday she flew to Kansas. She is secretive about her past.
- Sara McKenna (Dre Ronayne) - New hire at Vandals, used to run in the same circles as Charlotte
Chapter Summaries Edit
October and Charlotte discuss the new hire that their boss, Rod Vandal, is talking to upstairs in his office. New hires don't tend to stay around long, their most frequent customer Jake Brown shows up to commiserate along with them. Jake has applied to work there but Rod doesn't pay attention to him like he does to the girls. Jake mentions that Rod has a 'type' that he likes to hire, pretty and underage single girls. “He's looking at you right now,” Jake points up the stairs where Rod is leering down at them. The girls go back to stocking the shelves and coerce Jake into unclogging a toilet. Sara and Rod come downstairs, Sara thanking him for the chance to work here despite a lock of experience. It turns out that Charlotte and Sara know each other, they used to run in the same circles. Rod tells Sara to bring any complaints to him directly, not to October, if anything he says makes her uncomfortable. Rod brings up an idea to give Sara fliers advertising the store to pass around at the university because she's 'attractive'. October takes Sara around the store, Sara confides that she's never been in one of these stores.
One side of Vandal's is movies, DVDs, blu rays, a large sign for 4K but very few titles. Lots of cds and a dusty bin of records sit there as well. On the other side are geeky collector's items, Sara notices that everything seems to be from the '90s and earlier, nothing from the last thirty years.
The door chime goes off and Arch comes in with a package for Rod Vandal, with no address on it. Rod beckons Arch over and it doesn't seem that he was expecting the package, he mentions that maybe Arch was using this as a ploy to get closer to the girls. Rod claims that the girls have complained to him about Arch, and Jake butts in, saying that they haven't complained at all, he grabs the package and shakes it. When Arch tries to ask the girls about Rod's claims, Rod quickly changes the subject.
Jake starts tearing into the package, he pulls out a Charley Chimp cymbal clapping monkey toy. Rod again says this is not something he ordered. Jake tells them all about the movies a Charley Chimp has been in, and then mentions the myth that whenever it claps it's cymbal, someone dies. Rod tells Arch to leave again, and tells the girls that this isn't a place for them to just hang out and flirt. Rod goes back to his office and Jake starts winding up the monkey toy. He tells the girls that he can't believe they put up with 'that piece of sh*t Rod', Arch and the girls defend Rod and then Jake says he'd like to kill Rod. “Whoa, Jakey!” October says, as he lets go of the winding key and the monkey begins to clap its cymbals, and the world goes black.
Chapter 1 Edit
They awake, individually, inside dark, concrete rooms, no one around them, there is no response to their cries other than their friends in other rooms. Footsteps click on concrete as a breaker flips and lights come on, they are each in concrete rooms with a mirror and doors on either side. They are sitting in chairs and their hands and clothing are covered in blood.
October's door opens and a man in a suit enters. He is a little older, bearded, his teeth are stained from smoking. He drags a chair over and sits in front of her, just out of reach, and October realizes she is shackled into the chair. In answer to her questions he asks her what she remembers, she describes the events of the prologue. She has no idea why or how she is here, hearing this, the man leaves.
Arch is next, the man asks him why he did 'it' and then what Arch remembers. Arch tells him about delivering Rod's package and the clapping monkey. The man asks him about the sound of the cymbals and if he remembers anything else. When Arch indicates he doesn't, the man leaves.
Charlotte is visited by the man, he tells her his name is Agent Stagg, they are being held prisoner and are under arrest. When she asks for her lawyer he tells her she doesn't get that privilege right now. She asks if she is dreaming and he wishes that were the case. Her father doesn't know about this, “but should he?” the man asks, “Does he know something about this?” He asks her if she is going for an insanity plea, “We're not done here,” Stagg says before he leaves.
Sara assumes that she has been kidnapped for money, like what happened to her five years ago. She says it's not going to work this time, her family has no money left. Stagg leaves.
The man returns to Arch's cell, this time with a laptop. On the screen is a black and white security feed of Arch, standing in the back of Vandals, as Rod walks upstairs. Jake drops the monkey toy and stands, Arch starts to walk towards the front of the store, the girls walk toward the stairs. Jake snags Rod's shirt and throws him to the ground, when he lands the girls start stomping on the back of his head. He gets up and staggers toward the front of the store where Arch hits him in the face with a trash can. Arch sits on Rod's chest and digs out his eye while October dislocates Rod's jaw, ripping it downward with all her might.
Arch denies any memory of this happening, but admits to having a disagreement with Rod. Arch asks Stagg what agency he is with, Department C of DARPA Stagg answers. Arch admits that he clearly did something, he is covered in blood, Stagg says that's what he wanted, and then leaves.
The man brings the laptop into October's cell and denies her anything to use to wash her hands. Then he tells her that Arch confessed and plays the video for her. It starts with Archie hitting Rod with the trashcan, then shows her ripping at his jaw and then punching him in the throat over and over again before plunging a knife into his chest and sawing it back and forth. October denies any memory of this and that any of them would do this. He scrolls through more flashes of brutality and presses play again as they watch October pull out hairspray and a lighter and set Rod ablaze as he twitches on the floor.
Stagg asks her if she planned on removing the security tapes or if she just forgot. She continues denying all of it, and Stagg presses her to admit that she is a murderer. “Why would I do that?” October asks. “I hope we can learn that in our time together,” Stagg answers as he leaves.
Since Stagg left, Charlotte has been scanning her surroundings, she notices a burning sting around her eyes that she can't quite identify. She hears footsteps and Stagg brings the laptop in, “I think it's important that you know that I have confessions from two of your accomplices. So any denial or games you want to play, there is no need. Just admit what you did. Accept it, so that we can move on.” Her answer is to ask how long she's been here (twenty four hours) and who else is in holding. She knows, everyone else who was there.
She admits she remembers everything up to the clashing of the monkey's cymbals and asks if he has spoken to anyone, her father, her lawyer. They don't matter anymore. No one can help her. “You're a murderer, this is your life now.” He hits play on the video. Arch is on top of Rod gouging out his eyes, October is digging a knife into his chest. Charlotte watches herself spray pepper spray into his broken-jawed mouth until he chokes on it and then she begins to stomp on his neck.
Charlotte denies the reality of any of it, Stagg says they've tested the blood and the tapes. That is them brutally murdering their boss. He asks if Rod had ever done anything to her, anything inappropriate, anything that made her feel uncomfortable. When she asks why she is restrained he tells her it is for his safety. Finally, Charlotte refuses to talk anymore. “I guess we're done here,” he says as he leaves.
The lights go out, they all hear the single set of footsteps walking down the hall. Sara's door opens and the lights remain off. The man questions her further about her history with these kinds of events. He tells her she is not being kidnapped, she is being held for murder. She asks if it is because of 'him', revenge for what happened. Sara says they covered everything up, there were no tracks, 'he' had no family, nothing that could tie back to her. She believes this has to do with her being kidnapped five years ago and the man she killed to escape.
He presses play on the laptop and she sees the gruesome murder that the four of them committed. She sees herself and Jake watching the others tear into Rod, the two of them lean in and take hold of Octobers knife, cutting down into Rod's stomach. She insists she just met these people and she has no idea what is going on, she has no reason to murder anybody. “I think I know what I have to do,” Stagg says as he leaves.
They all hear the sound of clanking as October tries to break her bindings. Jake is also in a cell and not handling this well, he shouts that they killed a guy. October worries that 'they' are going to make them disappear, Charlotte worries that 'they' already have. They talk about the video they saw and how none of them would ever do that, Jake and Arch are sure of what they saw in the video.
October cringes as she raises her bloodied hands into her hair, searching for any hairpins that Stagg may have missed. She finds two and begins to work on the cuffs around her ankles, managing to unlock them but breaking the hairpins in the process. The cell door is locked.
Charlotte begins kicking at one of the bolts holding her chair to the floor, it is a slow process but she feels progress. Arch tries rip his chair free of the floor, as he does he feels a sharp pain in his back, something must have happened before he was put in the chair. At first he is unsuccessful, but eventually he focuses and imagines himself at the gym, the chair comes free with a rending metal sound.
Arch moves over to the mirror on the side of his cell, peering through it he sees a blinking red light. He tells the others that they are being recorded. Arch takes up his restraints and hurls them at the mirror, they bounce off with a thud and hit Arch in the head, knocking him unconscious. As they talk more about what they are going to do, Stagg begins to speak to them over a loudspeaker. Telling them not to throw things or they could get hurt. They start to hear the sound of something misting into their rooms, they start to gasp for air and black out.
- Character: As part of the illegal activities Archie has recently gotten involved in, he has started delivering items for a shady individual "no questions asked".
- Character: October never cared for possessions when she was a foster child, bouncing from home to home. Except for one toy a kindly foster parent gave to her. A toy she lost in the fire.
- Character: There's another reason Charlotte left for the US, a reason that she can't tell anyone. Someone close to her died. She was directly involved in it but she was never considered a suspect. She may have enjoyed it a little too much.
- Feeling: The pain's not so bad, but Arch feels completely useless. He thought his strength was an asset, but he's just ended up hurting himself with it. His numerous failed businesses just reinforce that he is not equipped for what he's in for.
- GM: They discover a note that says 'don't trust Archie'. (Zac will weave this in later.)
Chapter 2 Edit
The group awakes on the floor of Vandals, a heavy chain attached to their right feet leading to a bolt in the floor. In the center of the room is a pedestal that used to hold their bosses favorite item, resting there now is Charley Chimp with a mechanical device attached to its back. There is a timer that is counting down from fifteen minutes. They are chained just out of reach of each other in a circle, on the floor of the shop are the remains of their boss, intestines scattered about. The doors and windows of the store are all boarded up. They call for help but there is no answer. They talk about what they saw in the video, Jake saw Rod scratch Charlotte's neck, and she has a scratch there. Charlotte throws her shoe at the monkey, but it bounces off of a plexiglass pane before it hits, the pane is seamless and they can't tell the exact shape of the pane other than that it encircles the monkey.
From his position, Jake can see a note on the mechanical contraption on the back of the monkey, it reads Don't trust Archie. They asks Archie where he got the package and it came from a guy he delivers stuff for 'no questions asked' when Arch needs money. Jake discovers a newspaper clipping in his pocket, there's a picture of Arch and the article says that he is a suspect in a multiple murder investigation. Meanwhile, Charlotte has removed the underwire from her bra and has unlocked her restraints, she runs over to the plexiglass cylinder to look for an opening just as the timer runs out and the monkey starts clapping its cymbals and they all black out.
Chapter 3 Edit
They wake up, still in the store, chained up again. Arch notices some pain in his leg and looks down to see his leg has been bandaged up, he's dizzy from blood loss. Jake stands on the other side of the room with October's knife, it is covered in blood. Arch peeks under the bandages to see three long cuts in his leg that've been stitched shut. He says that maybe he was trying to protect the girls from a murderer as he brandishes the newspaper article. Jake begins to try and saw through his chains with the knife and when that doesn't work he throws it to the back of the store. Sara notices that her chain is unlocked, she starts to walk but her knee gives out, she now sees that her knee is swollen. She limps toward the monkey to try and reset the timer but the plexiglass goes all the way around. She turns and limps to the back of the store after October's knife.
As she approaches the knife she notices a display case full of puppets; Pinhead, Blade and Jester among them. She scoops up the knife and limps back towards the group. Jake continues casting aspersions on Arch and waving the news clipping around. They tell Sara to leave to get help and when she grabs the door to open it, an electric shock courses through her. The knife slides over to Charlotte as Sara collapses to the ground.
Charlotte pries open her own shackles and then slides the knife over to October, then goes over to the plexiglass, she sees that the cylinder descends into the concrete floor and it can't be lifted or tipped. Sara wakes up and returns as Charlotte discovers that the phone at the cashier's station has been cut free of the wall. Charlotte runs to check the phone in Rod's office and sees a replay of something that happened earlier on the security screens there. Charlotte sees herself get free of her chains, walk over to Rod's body and retrieve the knife. Then she walks over to Jake, they both read the article he holds and then move over to Arch,Charlotte holds him down as Jake takes the knife and slashes Arch's leg as he struggles.
The timer goes off and the cymbals clash, Charlotte stays aware as her body walks down the stairs, she watches as Sara walks over to the door and grabs the handle to electrocute herself. Charlotte's eyes fix upon October as she descends the stairs and blacks out.
- Discovery:October finds a hammer on the floor. It looks old and rusted and its handle is brittle. It wasn't there before.
Chapter 4 Edit
This time they awake with both legs shackled to the chain. Charlotte tastes blood and looks across at October, seeing that she is missing three fingers from her left hand. Next to her feet October sees a rusted hammer, the handle seems old and brittle. Inspecting her fingers, October sees that two of her fingers have been stitched closed, but the third is still oozing blood around what looks like glue. Arch posits that whatever people are thinking before the cymbal's clash, those thoughts then manifest when they blackout. Arch reveals that he was cleared of all charges in that murder case and that he left town because no one believed in his innocence. Sara is a bit groggy, she has third degree burns on her hands and can't make them close properly.
In Arch's pocket is a note that says Sara has killed before. He doesn't want to reveal what it says in case that breeds hateful thoughts against 'the next person, so they stab her legs or whatever.' October takes the hammer to her shackles, she places the clawed end against the lock and heaves, but it slide free and slashes her inner thigh, blood spurts from this new wound. October starts to get woozy as her blood pools toward Sara. They try to think of nothing but Jake brings up the fact that October killed Rod, Jake only hurt Rod, and didn't kill Arch, but October's the one who has killed.
October succumbs to her wound and falls unconscious, the cymbals play but they see that there are still three minutes left on the timer. They feel an urge take them over and the world goes dark.
Chapter 5 Edit
The first to awake is Charlotte, she sees streaks of blood on the floor leading over to October's unconscious form, she starts to wake up and Charlotte notices that October's eyes are bandaged over. Arch slowly comes to and they notice that Sara is gone, her chains lying broken and empty on the floor. Jake points out that the timer is at fifty-five minutes. As October lifts the bandages the others see that there is a long scar going across her face, through both eyes, “You don't have any eyes!” Arch shouts. Charlotte discovers two eyes in her pocket and October's knife is no longer on her.
Seeing that Jake is the only one without visible wounds, Charlotte accuses him of doing this, then the group dissolves into arguing about what's happening. They talk about how the man who has them here said he was from DARPA, Jake thinks that agency has to do with weapons research. Jake also has October's knife on him, this all leads Arch and October to suggest Jake harm and/or kill himself. Arch backpedals, but October is firm in her urging, Jake starts to shake. Maybe he killed Sara? “Stab yourself in the neck Jake,” October urges.
Jake apologizes and then jams the knife into his neck, bleeding out before he can toss the others the knife. Arch discovers that their chains are now welded shut. He suggests that Department C is testing the effects of the monkey on them. He brings up the idea that having negative thoughts about a person lead to harming that person during the blackouts. As Arch says Dept. C might be listening, Agent Stagg's voice speaks into his ear, telling him he is right.
Agent Stagg tells Arch there's an easy way out of this, he asks Arch where he got the monkey from. Then he tells Arch to ask Charlotte what's in her pocket. Arch discovers a small communicator in his ear. They press her to empty her pockets and Charlotte tries to deflect their questions with non-answers. The I-bolt at the end of Charlotte's chain pops out of the floor with a pneumatic hiss. She goes up into Rod's office where the events of their latest blackout are playing out on the monitors.
Charlotte witnesses Sara taking the knife out of October's pocket, Sara is holding October down as she lies bleeding on the floor, Sara then cuts across both of October's eyes and the footage loops. After finding nothing in any of the desks and seeing that the phone line here has been cut as well, Charlotte descends the stairs and heads to the back of the store to look for Sara. The door to the back room is chained shut and Sara is not in the bathroom either.
Arch wants to whisper a plan to Charlotte, he takes the earpiece in his hand and holds it in a fist behind his back. He tells Charlotte to focus their hate on Agent Stagg, so that when he comes back into the room they might attack him. Charlotte discovers that she also had an earpiece in when Stagg tells her he heard everything. She removes it and throws it across the room.
As she is turned, throwing the earpiece, Arch goes for her pocket and pulls out the two eyeballs. They whisper so that October can't hear, Charlotte tells Arch about the video she saw and that the eyes were planted on her. October hears that something was planted and asks what it was, October and Charlotte yell at each other. Charlotte also tells them about how she stayed lucid longer than them because she was further from the monkey.
Charlotte runs back up to Rod's office to look for something to help free her friends. She opens all the drawers and notices that all the drawers are cleaner than she has ever seen them, almost as if they are in a staged version of Vandals.
They hear a clank in the back of the shop and Charlotte comes back out to investigate. As she moves toward the back of the shop, the lights begin to flicker, she steps back toward the monkey and they return. She runs to the back of the room and the lights go out, she sees a small box on the floor. Inside are some of Rod's dolls, she picks up one of the dolls that has a drill for a head, as the dolls eyes turn to her, the drill starts to spin faster.
There are no batteries or an off switch that Charlotte can see, suddenly the doll lunges forward
and drills into her shoulder. She screams and runs back into the main area, Arch does not see a drill headed doll, he sees an American Girl type doll. As Charlotte drops to her knees to place the drill against Arch's chains she sees the doll's hair fall across the chains. Arch sees that Charlotte has October's knife in her other hand, it is covered in blood.
Charlotte runs back to the the box, this time the lights stay on and she discovers a box filled with American Girl dolls ready to be stocked. She starts to tear apart the dolls looking for anything inside them.
October asks Arch to kick the doll over to her, when he does she tells him she knows this doll, that it was hers. It's a custom American Sweetheart doll that her foster mother took her to get made. The Ramirez's house burned down and October was the only one to get out, she did not get the doll out. Arch looks toward the pedestal and sees Charley Chimp turn slowly to face him and its grin widen. They hear the sound of small footsteps skitter through the darkened store, the dolls that Charlotte took out of the box are now running around. Charlotte swings her chains at the dolls, scattering them against the shelves where they remain motionless.
October continues to explore the doll with her hands, she hears a voice in her mind say “I missed you.” She sets the doll down and scoots away from it, it begins to follow her on its own “Don't leave me again,” it pleads and crawls up her body. October stops moving and it stays in place on the back of her neck, she reaches back and fiddles with the doll's collar as she used to do when she was young. In response it grabs her finger and pulls her arm further back behind her.
October realizes that the Ramirez's were the best foster family that she has ever had, but they are dead and gone and this doll is trying to kill her, she wants nothing to do with that memory or this doll. She grabs the doll and throws it blindly...towards Archie.
It lands on his chest and climbs up towards his face, the other dolls surround him and climb onto him. He crumples into a ball and whimpers that he is going to die. The dolls crawl over him removing little bits of flesh from his neck, Charlotte runs over and starts tossing them off of Arch. The dolls scatter as the lights go out. Arch and Charlotte plug their ears but the monkey doesn't start banging the cymbals.
Charlotte sees the light of the monitors coming from Rod's office and leaves Arch on the ground bleeding and October asking her what's happening. Charlotte sees one of the monitors is showing a feed from a camera in the main store, she can see Arch and October on it. She gets in close to it and says “Show me something.”
Downstairs, Arch whimpers in pain and tells October what was in Charlotte's pocket, he confides that he isn't sure of her story about Sara doing it since she has stabbed herself earlier. “It's been Charlotte the whole time,” October mutters. The monkey starts to bang his cymbals together and Arch and October black out. Charlotte watches Arch rise, his chains release and he walks in the direction of Rod's office. She closes the door and puts a chair against the handle. She hears him climb the stairs and then sees the handle begin to turn. As she reaches out to hold the handle in place, she blacks out as well.
- Discovery: When everyone was searching their pockets, October found some sort of small aerosol-type spray can in her pocket. (What could it be?!)
- Discovery: Archie finds Charlotte's phone in the room. It's unlocked but has no signal. There are strange pictures of him on the phone.
- Character: In Archie's past he liked playing with fire until one day one of his fires got out of control burning down a house. Only a young girl made it out.
Chapter 6 Edit
Sara awakens in the main room of Vandal's, she sees Jake's dead body (with no blood around it), Archie asleep, October unconscious with no eyes, and Charlotte unconscious with one arm (her left arm is gone). Sara crawls over and shakes Arch awake. She sees bandages covering his neck. Arch tells her everything that happened to them while she was gone. He tells her about the note he found in his pocket that said she had killed before. “Good morning everyone,” Agent Stagg broadcasts over a loudspeaker “You'll see you have forty-five minutes on the timer.” October and Charlotte wake up at the sound of his voice and Charlotte discovers her missing arm. Stagg asks Arch about his boss, Todd, and if he was having any thoughts about him. Arch tells him he was too focused on the puppets crawling all over him, Stagg tells them that Todd was found dead with multiple lacerations on his neck. Arch confesses again and Stagg says the marks on Todd's neck correlate suspiciously to those on Arch's own.
Stagg tells them that Todd was found a few hours ago and they protest that they've been here for the past few hours. Stagg tells them that they've been here for three weeks. Stagg asks Arch if he controls the monkey, he says no and threatens Stagg that Arch will think of the agent next time. Charlotte asks who Arch was thinking about before the last blackout, he reveals that he told October about the eyes in her pocket and he was wondering where she was. Charlotte thinks that Arch's idea might have some merit based the fact that he came for her after the blackout.
Sara notices that her burned hands have begun to heal over, when Arch removes the bandages on his legs and the wound there is almost healed over completely. They've either been here a long time or there's healing tech involved. October and Charlotte take verbal shots at each other as they all check their bonds. Charlotte offers to hurt October if they let her free, Stagg says that is not what they want, that the monkey, as far as they can tell, is just a toy. Department C's current theory is that the four of them are manifesting these things somehow, that they have some kind of supernatural powers that is why they are under quarantine. “That would explain the doll,” October says.
Charlotte envisions the toy monkey to be ablaze, focusing on the memory of one of her toys falling into her family's fireplace. The timer stops and the lights go out as the monkey begins to burn, it starts clanging its cymbals wildly as it blazes. There is a spot in the center of the toy that is not burning, Charlotte doubles her efforts and Charley Chimp's face begins to melt away. Something within the toy begins to reveal itself as the toy burns away, a pulsing orange light flares in time with the cymbals. All that is left when the fire burns out is a pulsing stone.
The lights come back and Stagg asks what happened, they lost the feeds for a bit. Charlotte tells them to focus on their chains, to make them soften, it doesn't work. Nothing else she tries works. Stagg calls for them to admit to their crimes, and tell them how they are doing the things that they are doing. Arch asks if they have considered that the four of them don't know what's going on. Stagg says that theory is not worthy of their time to research further. Arch shouts “I just wanna stab you to death!” and imagines that happening to Stagg. Stagg advises against it, as if anything happens to him, he cannot guarantee their safety anymore.
Arch backpedals again, he never really meant it, he just lashed out in desperation. October asks everyone how they really felt about Rod. She was planning to leave the store soon once her tuition was paid, Rod was a prick and a perv, they knew it and they are complicit in it. She asks if they ever wanted to kill Rod. Arch says Rod made him out to be the same sleaze he was, Rod would tell him things that the girls said that Arch knew wasn't true, he made Arch feel the way that Arch saw Rod. Charlotte says that she worried Rod might hurt someone else. Sara, however, had just met Rod, she knew that he was a dumb guy who would hire her if she looked good, but she didn't really know him.
While wondering how she is connected to all this, Sara reveals that her father went to prison for fraud, that is how her family lost their money, and why Charlotte hadn't seen her until that day at Vandals. Arch asks her who she killed. October presses for truths to come out so that they can figure rout how to get out of there, Sara reveals that she was kidnapped five years ago. Her kidnapper filmed a video of her begging her father to take money to a public location. She got free somehow, and she killed the man in order to escape, she was held in a room that was similar to the ones they originally woke up in, but it was dark so she couldn't really be sure.
October brings up that their guilt could be manifesting this. Sara could have manifested the cells they were in, October herself could have manifested her American Sweetheart dolls, but she didn't burn down the house, that's not her guilt. Charlotte reveals that she pushed her grandmother while they were having a tiff (with her left hand) and she fell down the stairs and never got back up. Arch posits that they are manifesting their guilt into other people to punish themselves.
As they argue, the pace of the pulses from the rock have been speeding up. A light blooms in the back of the room where Charlotte encountered the dolls, a trail of smoke rises followed by a flame. A small girl wearing a backpack runs out and points directly at Arch, she looks like a girl he remembers seeing from a distance a long time ago when a fire he started burned out of control. Flames begin to burn up the girl's legs and Arch begins to shout that she got out, she's not supposed to die! She never breaks eye contact with Arch and her finger never drops as she burns.
“What about me?” comes a deep voice from Jake's body, as it sits up, “I thought it would fix everything if I killed myself, but it's all the same.”
“Did your guilt do this?” October asks Archie.
“What did you all do?” Jake asks, “Why? Why did you do it?”
Stagg tells them all to calm down, there was a pattern, and now it has been broken. They believe that the toy was a container, a tool. “You all need to calm down.”
“I will not calm down!” Charlotte shouts.
Jake's body rises to its feet, blood pouring from the wound in his neck, “Let me help you Arch,” it says as it shambles toward him. It reaches down and takes up the chain on Arch's leg, Jake's body heaves, the flesh of his hands tearing, his arms straining, and one of the links of the chain pops free.
“Now that you're free,” Jake says, getting in Arch's face, “You can kill yourself. Just like you made me do.” The others beg Arch not to listen. “I wasn't the problem, all of you were, you know what to do,” Jake finishes as his body goes limp, falling to the ground.
“I'm free,” Arch mutters, “I want to go home.”
“All of you need to calm down,” Stagg says, “The toy...you're right, we've been studying it, and you. Somehow you're connected to it. We don't know why. We don't know how. But we can't let you leave, you're all an extreme danger to the rest of the world. Whatever that toy was, it was containing it. It seemed to only activate upon reverberation of the cymbals, some sort of sonic frequency. Admittedly, we pulsed that frequency through the room at intervals, causing continued delusions and manifestations. Now it appears, without its containment unit, there is no longer control over the manifestations outside of your own minds.”
“So you poked the animals in the zoo and they're free now,” snarks October.
Arch charges the plexiglass around the stone, “I want to go home!” His head slams into the plexiglass, knocking him unconscious. As his head hits the ground it splits open and blood begins to pool. Arch's body begins to rise off of the ground and the lights flicker in time with the pulses of the stone. Jake's body rises again and walks over to the plexiglass, smashing his hands to pulp against it. Arch hovers ten feet in the air as Jake breaks through the plexiglass then removes a chunk of it, holding it in his hand. Jake walks over to the door to the outside world, he smashes it open and walks out. The group hears gunshots, two at first, then five more. They black out.
- Character: October vaguely remembers that over the past several months, Arch has been delivering odd, hard plastic shell cases to her boss. She thinks Rod had been storing them in a utility closet.
- Discovery Sara finds a broken chain link. When she hits it, it vibrates like a tuning fork.
Chapter 7 Edit
Archie awakens, nothing appears to have changed. There is a hole in the plexiglass, and t he rock on the inside no longer glows or pulses. The door to the outside is open and the lights are on in the room, but there is only blackness outside. Arch walks over to the door and sees a darkened warehouse interior, a large, dark, concrete space. Arch discovers a phone in his pocket, it is unlocked and there is no signal, in the pictures are clandestine photos of Arch, taken by someone following him. The first picture was taken a year ago. He goes to the contacts page and reads out the number for My Phone, it's Charlotte's. She admits it is her phone, but she hasn't taken the photos. After some shouting, Arch checks the most recent photo, it is earlier in the day that he delivered the monkey. The picture is of Arch picking up the box at a location he doesn't remember or recognize, he shows it to the others. Sara recognizes her front door.
Arch tells them that this is a side job he does for extra cash, it wasn't through the delivery company. Arch goes over to the stone and picks it up. It is smooth, almost petrified, lighter than it should be. It seems ancient. At Charlotte's suggestion, he throws it against the ground to see if it breaks.
The stone shatters on impact. In that moment, the lights go out.
October sneaks some of the shards into her pocket without the others noticing.
The ground begins to shake and rumble. The lights flicker and dust drifts from the ceiling.
Arch peeks out the door again, this time the lights are all on. He sees five bodies leading to a door a ways off in the warehouse, there's a pistol lying near one of them. It's here that October decides on her new last name: Eventide.
Arch approaches the body with the pistol, he sees a trail of blood leading up to the warehouse door, he grabs the 9mm pistol (with one bullet) and approaches the door. He notices that the handle had been broken by whatever busted through, three more bodies lie in this hallway and there is another door. Moving down this hallway, Arch sees the final body is still breathing. The man's face is a swollen mess of blood but he is slowly struggling to breath.
Frightened, Arch retreats to the Vandal's set and tells the others what he saw. October asks Arch to use the gun on her chains, he says he doesn't know how to use it so he gives it to her and retreats to avoid ricochets. She calls him back to help her and she tells him exactly what to do. The other two girls cower away as Arch pulls the trigger. He looks down to see a broken link in the chain, October is now free. She wraps the chain around her leg.
Arch and October go in search of a means to free Charlotte and Sara. They move slowly through the warehouse, October holding on to Arch's arm.
Charlotte is testing her chain again, perhaps the earthquake jarred something loose, because this time the I-bolt jerks free. Charlotte then goes over to help Sara pull her I-bolt free from the concrete. The heavy iron manacles are still on their legs.
October tells Arch that her last name is Baby, that 'October Baby' was a placeholder name in her foster days, she will legally change her last name to Eventide once they leave this place. They approach the body that was still alive, he gasps and points his weapon at them, firing. The man's swollen eyes prevent him from seeing his targets and he misses badly. He tells them to stay back, they're dangerous. “You sicked that monster on us, you're dangerous.” October asks if he enjoyed looking at them in the monitors as they were poked and prodded. The man tells them that aren't in Kansas anymore, they're somewhere that they couldn't hurt anyone even if they did get out.
October searches the man for anything useful and he coughs blood onto her face, she finds nothing but the man's empty gun. “F*** you,” are his last words in answer to October asking where they are.
Through this next door is Agent Stagg, backed into a corner. Stagg has tied his shirt around the stump of his right leg. He clutches a shotgun, aimed at the door they stand in. Next to him on the ground is Jake's body.
“What'd you do? I need to know what you did.” He tells them.
Near Jake's body is a bank of monitors, some of them are blanked out but others show the rooms they were in earlier, and some show the expanse of water outside the facility. There is a loud thud, Agent Stagg looks over to one of the monitors that shows a landing pad outside. A creature is crouched on the pad, humanoid, but not human.
The creature digs its hands into the wall and tears it aside, then strides into the building. Arch and October offer to team up with Stagg against the creature. Arch goes over and helps Stagg stand, he takes him to a safe on the wall where the man enters a code. Inside are folders with each of their names on them. He grabs a small, bright blue device that pulses with energy. He points the gun at Arch and hobbles back into his corner. “I'm not going to shoot you, it's not here for me. You're on your own. This isn't our first test with these fuckers,” Stagg says, placing the device on his chest and turning it on, Stagg vanishes, taking parts of the wall and floor with him. They see the ocean through the newly created hole.
Charlotte and Sara hear something in the back of the store, the sound of metal scraping. Loud footsteps ring out beyond the chained doors, Sara sees the creature looking through the windows at them, the chains on the door shake harder and harder as the creature's face shifts into that of Sara's own. The door is ripped off of its hinges, a new Sara steps into the room and stands in front of our Sara. “Where is it?” new Sara asks. “It called to me. You have it. You found it, you used it. I need it back if I am to become whole.”
Charlotte crawls around the shelves she is hiding behind and loops the chain from her shackles around the creature's neck from behind. She puts her knees into the creature's back as she tugs the chain with her remaining arm. Sara's face grows out the back of the creature's head to look at Charlotte and the real Sara steps forward taking up a large chunk of concrete and swinging it into the back of the creature's head. It falls onto its knees, its face shifting between that of Sara and the creature, “Defense mechanisms engaging,” the creature says.
The girls, hindered from running by the shackles on their legs, try to topple the shelves onto the creature. The shelf lands on the creature and the girls run out of the door the creature just came in. The helicopter pad and open ocean greet them.
Arch collects the documents from the safe and Charlotte's phone begins to ring in his pocket. “Hello Arch and October,” says a voice, “I am, we'll say, Stagg's superior. If you want to survive, you need to listen to me.” He tells them that they are not the first group of people that Department C has experimented upon. In the folders they will find information that reveals that Sara was in their first round of testing. The blackouts possibly erased her memories of Charley Chimp.
The man tells them that their connection to the artifact makes them special, Stagg is in surgery so he asks them to tell him what has been happening since their monitors went out. Arch tells them everything about breaking the stone, the earthquake, and the flying creature. Stagg's superior tells them that their actions (the earthquake) have killed thousands around the world.
“I need to know, if you kept or collected any of what it was you've broken,” Stagg's superior tells them, “if you intend to remain of any importance or value in this situation.” Arch tells him he'll go collect the shards on the ground and October keeps her shards secret.
The man tells them to call this number back once they have the shards and they will arrange an escort for them to get out of there, but they don't have any contingency plans for the creature. They don't fully understand everything but Department C has been watching all of them for a long time, they are connected to each other, and the artifact that is causing all of this. Stagg's superior tells them that it is Department C's purview to learn everything they can about world threatening events.
“If you get me the shards, I will give you the codes to release your friends,” Stagg's superior tells them. Department C has taken anyone the four of them had contact with on the day the monkey was delivered and is keeping them in quarantine here, along with the four of them.
As the two of them leave the room into the warehouse, Charlotte and Sara run up to them and Arch tells the girls about their deal with Department C and that their friends are all here in quarantine. October tells Arch to skim Jake's folder, he reads that Jake was accused of drowning a younger boy. They have all the information regarding Charlotte's grandmother's death.
In Sara's folder are pictures of her in the cell she was in five years ago, she keeps looking through the information and sees the monkey with the cymbals, in the end she sees blood on the ground, dead men she has torn apart lying amidst the words We failed! The cymbals continue! written across the ground in their own blood.
October's file is completely blank, all the information they have is from when they all arrived at this facility, there is no background information whatsoever.
They hear crashing and thrashing from within the fake Vandal's, it sounds as if the creature is searching the store. Arch and Sara run back into the room with the safe to check the other doors there. Charlotte heads back into the fake Vandal's set.
October, left alone in the warehouse, feels a burning, pulsing heat from the shards in her pocket.
Both of the doors open with a keycard on one of the bodies, one of the doors is a storage closet and the other contains cells holding the people Department C took. Sara runs to the glass cell at the end containing a pair of twins, Stef and Becca, that Sara knows. Stef talks to Sara, but Becca shrinks away from Sara, telling her that Department C showed them things that Sara had done on video. Becca pulls her sister away from the glass wall, afraid that Sara is here to kill them. Her other friend, Sam, is in the cell opposite them, he tells her about the keypads and codes and she tells him they are trying to get the codes to get them out.
In the storage closet, Arch searches for anything he can use to hurt the monster, luckily it happens to be the weapons storage closet. However, only one shotgun and four shells remain. Sara runs in and tells him about the cells, he goes into the other room and sees Samantha Smith, a cute woman who was on his delivery route. Arch also confesses to her and Sara tells him to shut up.
Charlotte sees the creature, it's eight feet tall now and only parts of it still look like Sara, other parts are fully robotic now, and it is trashing the store, looking for something. She tries to sneak into the store quietly, the creature stops and straightens, turning its head as a light emanates from the faux Sara's mouth that begins to scan the room. It stops on Charlotte and the creature strides over to her. “That wasn't very nice,” it says.
- GM: Suddenly for some reason a duplicate of Sara Mckenna is now in the room and now the question is who is the real Sara?
- GM: Since the event, the organization
holding them used a disease outbreak to cover it up. Currently outside the research compound is a series of quarantine trailers holding everyone they were in contact with leading up to the incident.
- Feeling: October has been hiding a roller coaster of emotions since all of this began. After losing her eyes, one emotion has been taking over all others. Rage.
- Character: The day everything started, October was covering someone else's shift. She was not even supposed to be there.
- History: Sara's kidnapping remains a mystery, even after her escape. An investigation to their hideout revealed a hidden room with bloody runes on the kidnapper Sara killed and the words "WE FAILED! THERE IS NO SACRIFICE! THE CYMBALS CONTINUE!"
- GM: Charlotte's phone begins ringing. The number is Archie's secret employer, the one that asked the box to be delivered. If answered, there's only the sound of a monkey's cymbals banging together. (Zac alters this one a bit)
- Discovery: Arch finds a flying fish in his back pocket. That is all.
Chapter 8 Edit
“I can help you,” Charlotte blurts out, “I can show you where it is.” She walks over to where the stone was broken, but there are no fragments. She puts the eyeballs from her pocket into her sock and holds it up, praying the creature can't tell the difference she goes to toss the sock. The creature drops all pretense of caring for Charlotte's feelings and it also drops Sara's face, revealing its metal visage, and as Charlotte goes to throw, she has to duck a shot from the gun that is now at the end of the creature's arm. October, hearing Charlotte yell “Run!”, realizes that she has backed towards the store. Charlotte, while following her own advice, sees the creature stop for a moment and turn to October. October pulls the aerosol can from her right pocket and feels the shards in her left pocket begin to heat up again, she reaches in and clutches them, bringing them out in her clenched fist.
“Give it to me, it is mine. I will go through you,” the creature tells October.
“I'm not giving you anything,” October responds, turning to face the creature she cannot see “I'm sick of being a lab rat running around in someone else's maze. You want this? You cannot have it! I'm sick of all of this, you back off right now!” October brandishes the aerosol can.
The creature's gun comes up and begins to whine, Charlotte shouts for October to get down. October ducks down and raises both of her hands, and the items held in them, in a defensive posture. The shot rings out, and October feels an immense heat from the projectile the creature had fired, the aerosol can in her hand explodes right next to her eyes, driving the shards she was clutching deep into her eye sockets. Charlotte watches as a bright orange glow emanates from October's face, illuminating the creature from below.
October begins to experience visions between flashes of pain and light. Flash She is staring as the vast, open expanse of deep space. Flash Another moment, of a tear, a rip, almost like the feeling when her appendages were taken from her, like a phantom limb. Like her whole body is connected as she feels it reaching out. Through an orange glow, she sees the creature standing before her, it also glows with a pulsing, bright orange. She recognizes it and calls it by its name. This is her Blood, she doesn't know why but she feels it. She feels the rest of her body reaching out for those phantom limbs, those parts that are missing. They are gone. Like those fingers she once had, she tries squeeze them and the ground shakes beneath her.
All of them feel a tremor in the earth in that moment.
October can now see, as the pain begins to lessen, but not the way she used to. There is an energy, a feeling about the creature standing above her. “What is this?” it asks.
“I am not whole. I am missing...” October answers.
“We are missing,” the creature corrects.
“We are missing something,” October says.
“All of it.”
“I can feel it, I can feel the emptiness. We have to become complete.”
“We have to close the loop,” the creature responds. “It must not be broken.”
“It can't be broken.”
“I am Devina,” the creature says.
Devina tells October that she is what it has been looking for.
Charlotte sees the glowing shards in October's eyes casting light upon the creature, knowing that there is nowhere to go, she approaches October and Devina.
October sense's Charlotte's heartbeat approach and she tell Charlotte that she is not whole, but she will be. October shifts to block Charlotte from leaving and Devina slides in behind her, trapping Charlotte between them. Devina tells Charlotte that attacking it with the chain was unnecessary, it meant them no harm, it was only seeking what it was missing.
Charlotte darts out from between them and runs toward the hallway shouting for the others, the three of them meet in the hall and catch each other up on what is happening. Sara grabs the shotgun from an indecisive Arch and she opens the door to the warehouse. Devina stands in the doorway. Sara brings up the gun and shoots Devina in the face. October feels this pain in her own face as Devina cries out to her.
“Stop shooting at us!” October shouts, “What is the matter with you?”
Sara tells October about the people being held here by Department C and that they need the shards to get the codes to free them. The building starts to shake again.
“I'm not complete, I need to be complete,” October says.
When Sara asks if that is more important than all the people being held here, Devina answers, “Yes. For the survival of your entire species, I would say yes.” When Sara asks for clarification, Devina says, “We have to close the Loop.”
Sara reiterates their need for the codes to free all those people. Devina tells October that the body she inhabits gives her the ability to understand things, she is familiar with the systems in this place, they are similar to the systems where she was born/created/reborn. If there is information in these systems that could help them become whole, they must take it. October suggests that they could open these cells as well.
Devina walks down the hall towards the computer systems room, as October passes Sara she reaches out to take the shotgun from her and Sara shoots.
Chapter 9 Edit
As Sara pumps the shotgun, an energy calls out to October. Sara pulls the trigger and October disappears. October is somewhere she doesn't recognize, but she recognizes the feeling, if she follows that feeling, she will be able to see again, she will get her eyes back. Unfortunately, she is removed from this story, and even from this time.
Standing at the end of the hall, Devina starts to turn and raise its arm, “I just found it, and you took it from me. I was one step towards becoming whole, I meant you no harm. But I sure as hell do now.” The robot's gun starts to whir and build energy. Sara dodges back into the warehouse and Devina steps forward and tears Arch's throat out.
Chapter 10 Edit
Charlotte darts between Devina's legs and across the hall into the room where Stagg had been, searching for some kind of weapon. Landing the warehouse, Sara remembers the piece of metal shaped like a tuning fork in her pocket. She also recalls that Stagg mentioned that sound was what activated the device inside the monkey. She takes the piece of metal in hand and charges towards the advancing creature.
She runs up to Devina and strikes the metal against its leg, she hears nothing, but feels a vibration in her hand. Turning to look at Devina, she sees the creature reel back, its screen starting to flicker. She runs into the office with Charlotte and slams the door behind her. Charlotte takes the tuning fork and stands on one side of the door, Sara stands on the other side of the door with the shotgun. They wait for the creature to enter...it doesn't.
They hear Charlotte's phone in the hallway and they cautiously move out, the people in the cells are screaming for help. Charlotte grips the tuning fork in two fingers and uses the others to pick up the phone, the sound of cymbals comes across the line and Charlotte blacks out.