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List of Transcripts

Pre-Show[]

MATT: Hello everyone, and welcome to Critical Role's Monsterhearts one-shot, here for this Valentine's Day celebration. (howling) There you go. (howling) We've got some howls for the moon. So welcome, welcome. Before we jump in, a couple things to go over. If you hadn't seen the Handbooker Helper that we just previewed before the livestream of this, you can check it out on our YouTube channel for all the details and in-depth elements of the rule set for Monsterhearts. But to give you an overview of what the game's about, Monsterhearts is a tabletop RPG created by Avery Alder, that is designed to tell stories about the messy, angsty lives of teenagers. Teenagers who are struggling with social identity, gender identity, sexuality, and the pressures of a body that is changing beyond their control. Teenagers who also secretly happen to be monsters, an allegorical web spun between all these various themes to create a nice, messy, chaotic narrative. Much of tonight's story will likely be very funny, much of it will likely be delightfully awkward. Some of it may go very very dark, and some of it may be very raw and real, in the same way that the best young adult fiction, and sometimes the best worst young adult fiction can be. But we all trust each other at the table, and we will not cross any lines that are uncomfortable between us. Any themes or any moments that require you to step away, that's totally okay. Just letting you know. Cool, so before we jump into the specifics here. We also have a seating chart that we arranged, it's part of the rules of the game, in which the players got to create a number of NPC students that are part of their class. We'll get to that as part of this, but we did it ahead of the game, so we can jump further into the narrative. But if you ever get a chance to play the game, it's a cool part of the setup that I think is pretty rad. Let's go ahead and introduce our players who are at the table, beginning with the left here, we have our wonderful Ashley Johnson.

ASHLEY: Yay, hello!

MATT: We have Erika Ishii.

ALLY: (squealing)

MATT: Taliesin Jaffe.

ALLY: (squealing)

TALIESIN: Thank you.

ALL: (laughs)

MATT: And joining us for the first time in the Critical Role family, we have Ally Beardsley. (cheering) You know them for their amazing work with College Humor for a number of years, as well as Dimension 20, and we're so happy to have you.

ALLY: I'm thrilled to be here.

(laughter)

MATT: So.

ASHLEY: I love that this is your first game here.

ALLY: Yeah. (laughing)

MATT: That's a way to dive in.

ALLY: I was reading the rules and I was like, hmm. (laughter) Are four people coming onto me?

(laughter)

MATT: We'll find out. (laughter) So let's not delay this too much, for there is a lot of narrative, angsty story to tell. So let's go ahead and jump into tonight's Cinderbrush: A Monsterhearts Story.

(indie rock music) ♪ Ooh, ooh, ah ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ah ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ah ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ah ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ah ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ah ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ah ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ah ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ah ♪

Part I[]

MATT: Welcome. My name is Matthew Mercer, and I will be the MC or Master of Ceremonies for tonight's game of Monsterhearts. Welcome to Cinderbrush Hills, a sleepy town in the middle of Nowhere, Arizona, born from the arid desert highways that pass between the neighboring cities. Cinderbrush Hills is a small, insular community of nearly 7,000 people that straddles the line between taking pride in its slower, isolated way of life, since its founding in the '50s, and its desperate struggle to catch up to the 21st century. Much of the local economy subsists on the nearby oil fields, the local quarry, and the menagerie of small businesses that maintain the town between the tract housing and the strip malls. 25 miles away from the nearest major city of Vertuga, most of the locals spend their time distracting themselves with drink, small town gossip, and drama. And nowhere is drama more persistent than at Cinderbrush High.

Here, within the stretching quads of browning grass and recently renovated school buildings, the morning homeroom bell sends students rushing to their first class of the day. It's been a week since summer ended, and the students are still rapidly catching up on what adventures, rumors, and debauchery colored their vacation. Some stayed local, lamenting the drudgery of this desert town on social media, others, now touting their driver's licenses and second-hand cars, privately tell tales of their underage mischief in the big city. And others still carry darker secrets they wish to keep hidden from the light. It's here in this mix of social anxiety, raging hormones, and the messy want to discover one's true self that our story begins. As the bell rings out across the quad, students rushing, grabbing their packs, going to the lockers, and grabbing their books for their first class, bumping past each other, you can already see the wide array of people. Tall, short, all manner of colors and all manner of personalities, in that weird, tumultuous incubation period of figuring out who they're going to be as a person and all the conflict that entails. As we step into Mr. Kempler's homeroom classroom, students start washing in and finding their seats, beginning with Sasha, if you'd like to describe and introduce yourself and what we see.

ERIKA: Sasha Murasaki is a first generation here in the town of Cinderbrush. She is perfectly perfect in every way. School president, Captain of the debate team, very involved in all the school activities. She has long, silver ombre hair, she usually wears something very conservative, on the surface, nothing that would break the school code, but skirts are a little short, thigh-highs are a little high. Just something fun, if you're looking.

MATT: As Sasha finds her seat at the front of the class, you also see that she is flanked by three other figures. Cori Brooks, who is this incredibly statuesque model of a high school student, who is well-known for actually beginning her modeling career at the age of 15 in the nearby city of Vertuga. Who has a very strong social media presence, and is one of what students refer to as The Hive, the collective of three friends that are never seen far from following the footsteps of Sasha Murasaki. You also see Lexi Wembles, who is the salutatorian of the class, and was the former rival of Sasha's until, through some strange moment last year, she instead became her best friend, and has aided her in all of her endeavors.

ERIKA: Besties.

MATT: Mm-hmm. Trailing then is Jesse Zimmerman. He's known as the bored playboy of the school, rich parents that constantly travel in and out of town to one of the other major cities in Arizona. He's left to his own devices with a fair amount of money and no oversight. They all find their seats as other students begin to rush in and find their places here amongst the homeroom of Mr. Kempler's class.

ASHLEY: Yes.

ALLY: Wow.

MATT: Behind there, we see a figure rush, quickly to try and not gather too much attention, lost in thought. Cameron.

ASHLEY: I am Cameron Solomon. Really fucking handsome. Like just super fucking hot. All-star quarterback, straight-A student, at least used to be, come from the Solomon family, which they sort of run the quarry a little bit outside of town. Used to be the quintessential poster child for Cinderbrush, but something happened over the summer, and he is... not the boy that he once was. His grades are kind of slipping a little bit. He's kind of pulling back from the team, and he used to date Sasha for two years, but they broke up recently.

ERIKA: He's not star material anymore.

MATT: (chuckles) As you sit down, you take a moment to take in the students as they rush in. You can look across and see Sasha discussing amongst her Hive, some sort of heightened energy conversation, but hushed enough where you can't catch it. You're not entirely sure, but you're pretty sure it probably has something to do with you and the recent breakup, and you sink a little deeper into your seat.

ERIKA: I catch Cameron looking, and there's just a split-second of direct eye contact, where I cross and uncross my legs.

MATT and ALLY: (laugh)

ERIKA: And I go back to my conversation.

MATT: All right. Towards the end of the final moments of the homeroom bell, catching the beginning of class, we see a darker figure in clothing and presence enter: Jamie.

TALIESIN: Jamie Wrenly enters. He's-- they've got-- that's right, I'm attempting a they. They've got better shit to do than to be here. Jamie's from a divorced family, their mom works at the local police station, their dad lives in New York, and they spend time there, which is why they have good shit and everybody else has shitty shit. If you need something, they can definitely get it for you, and they don't really have friends, they have associates.

ALLY: (chuckles)

MATT: Jamie takes their place in the far, far, far back corner of the classroom. Not far after, the fourth of our group of characters enters, the newer student, having arrived here just last week with the first week of school, to a couple of stares and some hushed whispers as they step into the room. You see Af, or Abigail Flowers.

ALLY: Yeah, my name's Af. I'm brutally lost, but I'm not letting anybody know. I'm just trying to-- I walked into two of the wrong classrooms before this, but I'm pretty sure this is my actual classroom, and my name's not fucking Abigail, okay? It's Af. Those are my initials. Call me Af. And yeah, so far school's been kind of a nightmare. But maybe it'll be cool. Hi. (coughs) And I find my seat.

MATT: As Af runs over and sits down and finds your seat, you get down and, in a similar way to Cameron, slink down a bit, both recognizing Cameron with a quick glance of recognition.

ALLY: Yeah, I know Cameron.

ASHLEY: I look over, give a quick smile over my shoulder. (whispered) Hey.

ALLY: (whispered) Hi.

MATT: And out of the peripheral, you see a familiar face just dart in and go, "Hey!" You see the familiar look of student Amanda Beltman, this sweet, excitable, no other better way to describe her than the horse girl of the class. She has this dark brunette hair that's pulled into a tight braid that goes over one shoulder, a denim button-up shirt that's tucked into her high jeans. She wears riding boots to school, and you're like, we're in Arizona. But you know, she knows what she likes, and she was the first person when you came here last week for the first week of school to introduce herself and excitably show you around, for whatever that means.

ALLY: Yeah. Kinda my only friend, so, hey, what's up?

MATT: "Hey, um... I've been hearing rumors about something that happened last week, but I mean, it couldn't possibly be."

ALLY: What do you mean? About me?

MATT: "Yeah, yeah, I mean, I'm just curious, because--" and at that moment, the door opens, about 30 seconds after the homeroom bell kicks off. (creaking) And walking through, you see, wearing the Cinderbrush High letterman jacket, the somewhat tall, handsome, square-jawed figure of Jason Buckner. He has dark, short hair, a little bit of scruff going on, in the way that like, some boys in school at this age get beards way too young. But what everyone's looking at is the large purple welt on the right side of his face that wraps around his eye, that has been poorly hidden by concealer, as he just heads straight to his seat. As he does, he stops for a moment and looks directly to Af, and then sits down.

ALLY: Okay.

MATT: There's an awkward silence, and then immediately the room just rushes into whispers as everyone begins talking amongst themselves. The door opens, at that moment, it is silence once again as Mr. Kempler enters the room. After all, this is his homeroom. You see a tall gentleman, tanned, younger, this is his second year teaching, like ever, let alone at this school. He went ahead and went to college on the east coast, he seems to be from the greater New York area, and relocated to Arizona, he's a little bit of a sore thumb, the teacher, but he seems nice and honest, and generally trying to help these kids out, and I don't think was at all prepared for what was waiting for him when he moved here. So he steps in. "Ah, students, hey. Good morning, thank you for being prompt. I, uh--"

ASHLEY: (groans)

MATT: "We're going to go ahead and do some roll call here. Hope everyone had a good weekend." He goes and finds his seat and sits down. "All right, so, uh... U.S. history, right, that's what I'm doing. Got your books, hope you did your reading over the weekend, and I'll-- roll call, right." He starts going through the list here and starts calling out people's names. "All right, we have... Cori Brooks." "Present." "Jason Buckner." Just raises a hand quietly. Amanda Beltman, ah. Amanda turns around from looking at you, and "Here!" "We have Abigail Flowers."

ALLY: I throw my book.

MATT: "Hey! Hey!"

ALLY: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. My name's Af. That was a mistake. That was a bird.

ERIKA: (laughs)

MATT: Everyone in the class looks to all the closed windows on the left-hand side of the room.

ALLY: The bird was in here overnight, I was just trying to get it.

TALIESIN: I saw it, too.

ALLY: Thank you.

MATT: "All right, Af Flowers." Continues to go through the roll call, the droning of names goes on and on, at which point Amanda turns back. "So you did that?"

ALLY: Yeah. I was watching a lot of prison documentaries, and they said you just got to hit the biggest guy when you get in, if you want any respect. And so I did that, yeah.

MATT: "That's so cool."

ALLY: Thank you.

MATT: "What did it feel like?"

ALLY: It was crazy.

MATT: "You ever hit somebody before?"

ALLY: Oh my god, I've hit so many people. I won't hit you, though.

MATT: "Thanks."

ALLY: I don't hit friends. I don't--

MATT: "We're friends?"

ALLY: Yeah, I mean, you're really cool, you're really into your stable and I think that's cool.

MATT: "Awesome."

ALLY: Yeah.

MATT: "Awesome." At this point in time, The Hive has turned and are fixated, after hearing the different rumors about what transpired over the weekend, the confirmation of Jason entering the classroom, adorning his shiner, definitely sets a wave of chuckles throughout the surrounding troop. Jesse leans in and goes, "I can't believe this shit. New girl just takes him out in one hit? What a football team Cinderbrush High fucking holds onto, right?"

ERIKA: This is very interesting.

MATT: "(chuckles)"

ERIKA: Af Flowers, hmm?

MATT: "I think that, well, according to what they were saying there, yeah." He puts his fingers through his hair and looks back. "Eh."

ERIKA: We'll have to do our entrance exam.

MATT: "Right." Lexi leans in a bit and goes, "It can be arranged. When do you think's the best way to, like, you know, make that happen?

ERIKA: Hmm. Lunch. They're not sending with anybody yet.

MATT: All three heads going to turn at once and look towards Af and then back to each other with a nod.

ERIKA: Jason. You know, Cori can probably help with the foundation work there.

MATT: "(sighs)" He just sits there and stews. At which point, for you Cameron, Aimee Reyes, the really sweet loner girl of the class, keeps to her own and sits in front of you, spins around, not really taking in the information around her. You can see that of all the people, she's probably one of the least connected socially at this place, and likes it that way. But you've been paying her to do your homework for her for some time, and she spins around and just--

ASHLEY: I'm fucking busy at night.

(laughter)

MATT: Slips you--

ASHLEY: So much stuff.

MATT: Slips you a couple of pieces of notebook paper, under the table. Says, "I... I gotcha."

ASHLEY: Thanks. How much do you want?

MATT: "It's the beginning of school, you know, just, we'll just say you owe me a favor."

ASHLEY: Well, c'mon, I have money. Okay.

MATT: "40 bucks."

ASHLEY: 40? Here. How about 50 bucks, okay?

MATT: She takes it.

ASHLEY: Just make sure you don't tell anybody.

MATT: "No no."

ASHLEY: How many pages did you do? Cool.

(chuckles)

MATT: Immediately turns back around as Mr. Kempler stands up and begins going into his U.S. history beginning. "All right everyone, so, since we did a bit of our reading on the turn of the century growing of challenging warfare in the European front and how that affected the American entrance into World War I, we're going to go ahead and begin to discuss the elements of trench warfare." Immediately people begin to phase out a bit. Kids are looking at their phones under their desk. You get the sense that Mr. Kempler has no grasp of how to control the students in his class quite yet, but also doesn't want to broach that issue. Jason turns around to you, Cameron, after a moment, glancing over, just trying to make a bit of a look in your way, nudging towards Af.

ASHLEY: That's a pretty big shiner.

MATT: "What the fuck, right?"

ASHLEY: What'd you do?

MATT: "Nothing! Fuckin' nothing!"

ASHLEY: What happened?

MATT: "We'll talk later."

ASHLEY: Why are you covering it up like a fucking weirdo?

MATT: "Shut up." Just goes back to looking down. So anything you guys wish to do in the class period.

ALLY: Mary Rajo sitting in front of me?

MATT: Correct.

ALLY: And I don't think we have a thing, but I just, I know she's really anti-violence, so I just want to talk to her just really quick, like.

MATT: Okay.

ALLY: Hey, um--

MATT: She leans back.

ALLY: Sorry if I scared you when I threw my book at that loose bird.

MATT: "(sighs) You know, it's fine, as long as the bird's okay."

ALLY: I'm sure it's fine. Yeah, I'm sorry. That was crazy, right? I was just trying to help the bird, actually. It wasn't an outburst, it was charity, and it was humanitarian.

MATT: "Look, that's like, pretty amazing. And I love charity, and--"

ALLY: Me too. I do a lot of charity work.

MATT: "So did you like, actually hit him?"

ALLY: Yes. Yeah, um... It's a long story. He... Honestly, I was just trying-- I'm not a violent person, okay, I just sometimes am violent, but you know, you know what I mean? Like, I'm really good at being violent, so sometimes I, you know, like, lean back on that, but in my core, I'm not violent.

MATT: "There are, I'm pretty sure like some counseling classes that you could take as part of the school here. I just don't think--"

ALLY: Yeah, I'm in youth anger management.

MATT: "Okay, good, good."

ALLY: I look at Cameron briefly.

ASHLEY: I just look out the window.

ALLY: It's really helping me. I love going to it, and I can't get enough of the counselors and the staff that are there.

MATT: "Okay."

ALLY: I think they're doing good work with me. I snap my pencil. Oh, god!

MATT: "Uh, heh-- Just, you know, talk about it next time. If you need to talk to somebody, I'm here."

ALLY: Oh my gosh, I would love that, yeah.

MATT: "Okay."

ALLY: That's so great, I got a flower for you. (laughs) That's crazy, right? Yeah, it's kind of squished.

MATT: "Yeah."

ALLY: I know, yeah.

MATT: "This from the front quad? Thank you."

ALLY: Yeah, thank you.

MATT: Awkward moment kind of fades.

ALLY: I pick up my pencil pieces and try to fit them back together.

MATT: Perfect.

ERIKA: I text, I mostly am very engaged in the lecture, but you know, I just-- taking all the right notes, asking all the right, oh, go on, please. What about economic support?

MATT: "Oh yeah, no, no. Well, it was a bit scattered at the time. There were a lot of all--" and just goes on.

ERIKA: Right, but you know, underneath, I text Jamie, "fresh meat." And that's it.

TALIESIN: I text back, "on it," and then I'm going to text to Cameron, "need to confirm." "Did new kid fuck up Jason?" Question mark.

ASHLEY: I text back, "Confirmed, new kid fucked up Jason real good."

ERIKA: (laughs)

TALIESIN: I turn to Evan. New kid, man.

MATT: "I think there's maybe a possible school paper entry waiting to happen."

TALIESIN: Talk to your sister. Let's make it happen.

MATT: He looks over and sizes up Af a bit, looks back at you.

TALIESIN: I text to Sasha, "definitely interesting."

ERIKA: Entrance exam at lunch.

MATT: All right.

TALIESIN: Black heart.

(laughter)

MATT: Homeroom class eventually comes to a close, the bell goes off, and the first-- this is a blocked school, so two-hour class periods, heads into an early recess, brief pass out in some of the streets. Second class goes on with, this would be Miss Neera Patel, your biology teacher. At this point, everyone's more focused in the trying to catch up over elements of the summer and recent events, so by the end of the biology class, nothing seems to have really sunken in necessarily, for at least this troop.

ASHLEY: What are we learning in biology?

MATT: Currently, right now it would be probably deep ocean.

ASHLEY: Tight.

(laughter)

MATT: Various creatures without spines, squishy things.

ASHLEY: Ocean shit.

MATT: Ocean shit, there you go.

ERIKA: Bioluminescence.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

(laughter)

MATT: It's a beautiful topic if you pay attention. And then the lunch bell rings. Students scatter and find their places amongst the quads in the lunch area, where their standard social cliques go and sit, prepare themselves.

ASHLEY: I walk up to Af. Hey, how you doing?

ALLY: Good, how are you doing, man?

ASHLEY: I'm good. How's it feeling?

ALLY: Yeah, this place is pretty crazy, but... Yeah, how are you? I mean, I don't know that much, but I heard you went through like a crazy breakup or whatever.

ASHLEY: Yeah, it's okay. I mean... (clears throat)

ALLY: Women. Am I right?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ALLY: I get it.

ASHLEY: Yeah, she's cool.

ALLY: Yeah, cool.

ASHLEY: She's good. I think... I don't know. I think we were just together for a long time and maybe we just needed some time apart.

ALLY: Mm.

ASHLEY: Do you have anybody to sit with at lunch?

ALLY: No, not right now. Well, I have a couple options, so I could go sit with Anna, and talk about Syria, or I could go out on the grass where Amanda's picking grass to feed to horses.

ASHLEY: Yeah, she's like a horse chick, she's super into horse shit.

ERIKA: At this point--

ASHLEY: Not like horse shit, but like horse stuff.

ALLY: Yeah, horse shit.

ASHLEY: (laughs)

ERIKA: The clique and I swoop up around to Af and Cameron.

ALLY: Hey.

ERIKA: Hi. Af, right?

ALLY: Yeah.

ERIKA: You're new.

ALLY: Yeah, I am.

ASHLEY: Can we fucking go?

ERIKA: I'm Sasha.

ALLY: Hi.

ERIKA: Cameron.

ASHLEY: Hi, Sasha.

ERIKA: How you doing?

ASHLEY: I'm great. How are you?

ERIKA: Great, then, hmm? Excellent. Good. Af, do you want to sit with us today?

MATT: "Yeah, come on, sit with us."

ALLY: I--

ERIKA: It can be hard, you know, learning the ropes at school, and you know, as student body president, it's sort of my job to be outreach.

MATT: "It's important to make friends."

ALLY: Okay, I would actually really like that, because I've been hanging out with, you know, Amanda Beltman, and she pretends like she knows all the gossip of the school, but almost all of it has been wrong.

ERIKA: It's very sweet of her. I appreciate that she's kind of the welcome wagon, but yeah, if you want to know what's really happening, we can get you all sorted out.

ALLY: Yeah, I'm honestly so confused. Yeah, I would really appreciate that.

ERIKA: Yeah. You're very good at sort of getting people where they need to go.

TALIESIN: I walk over. The hell, I thought we were getting some shit done over lunch? I thought that was the fucking plan?

ERIKA: Um.

TALIESIN: What's this?

ERIKA: Busy right now, meeting new friends.

TALIESIN: Oh, I'm so sorry. Do you not want to get shit done, then? That's fine. I have other things I could be doing.

ERIKA: (sighs)

TALIESIN: In fact, for that matter, hi. And I'm going to sit down next to you.

ERIKA: Have a good lunch.

TALIESIN: Kisses.

ASHLEY: You'll have fun. You'll learn a lot from them.

ALLY: Um. Okay. I just want you all to know that there wasn't actually a bird.

ERIKA: Oh.

TALIESIN: What the fuck did I see, then?

ALLY: I just, I wasn't sure if you were lying for me, but I wanted to say thank you.

TALIESIN: Oh, I was lying, not for you, but I'm glad you got something out of it, too.

ALLY: Okay, cool. All right, well, we're off to a great start.

MATT: As Jamie begins to talk more intently towards Af, you can watch it as a Cori Brooks, the model of the troop, reaches forward and just takes Af's hand and goes, come on, and drags you along to pull you away from this little social circle.

ALLY: Cool.

ERIKA: More later.

TALIESIN: Fine. Oh.

ERIKA: Cameron.

ASHLEY: Sasha.

ERIKA: And I sweep off.

TALIESIN: Gross, shh.

ERIKA: (laughs)

TALIESIN: Holy fuck. (laughs)

ASHLEY: Wow. How was your weekend?

TALIESIN: Uneventful, apparently. How was your weekend? Did you see that shit go down or are you just hearing it?

ASHLEY: No, I just heard about it. (laughs)

TALIESIN: I'd pay good money to see that.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I can't believe they did that.

TALIESIN: Someone filmed it.

ASHLEY: Really?

TALIESIN: How can someone have not?

ASHLEY: Did Jason say anything?

TALIESIN: I haven't talked to anybody. I don't know anything. I've just been--

ASHLEY: What prompted it? Like, did he say something to Af, and then--

TALIESIN: I mean, it's Jason. He was going to get punched eventually.

ASHLEY: God, I know. I've had my fair share fights with him.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

ASHLEY: I mean, we don't hang out much anymore, but--

TALIESIN: I didn't see you much this weekend in you know where.

ASHLEY: Yeah, my mom needed help this weekend, and... I wanted to come out there, I just couldn't.

TALIESIN: That's cool. It's cool.

ASHLEY: My parents are being kind of weird.

TALIESIN: Fuck that shit.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Well, if you have time this weekend, I'm going back Friday night, but if I can get away again, if it's up to you, honestly, if you want to try and make a thing of it, I'll make a thing of it.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I'd like to make a thing of it.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Yeah?

TALIESIN: What else is there to fucking do?

ASHLEY: That's fucking right.

MATT: It's right about this point that out of the corner of your eye, you see a familiar figure step up and begin walking across the center of the lunch quad area. You can see Jason Buckner, fists clenched, bee lining over towards the table where Af is currently now being sat, along with Sasha and her Hive.

ASHLEY: Dude, here we go.

TALIESIN: Shit.

ASHLEY: I sit back, arms folded, and watch.

ERIKA: Sasha, she/her.

ALLY: Cool.

ERIKA: Cori, she/her, Lexi, she/her, Jesse, he/him.

ALLY: Awesome.

ERIKA: Af?

ALLY: They/them, actually, yeah.

ERIKA: Really?

ALLY: It's not, I haven't told a lot of people, but yeah, I feel more comfortable with that.

ERIKA: So this is new for you.

ALLY: Yeah.

ERIKA: Congratulations.

ALLY: Hey, thanks.

ERIKA: Since this is a new school, new start. We'll spread it around.

ALLY: Oh my god, that would mean so much to me, honestly. I barely talk to anyone, you know, so pronouns are kind of hard to get out there, without like a pin or something.

ERIKA: Yeah. Maybe we should institute a policy about that. It'd be nice.

ALLY: Wow, you are incredible. (laughs)

ERIKA: Sometimes.

ALLY: Yeah.

ERIKA: Watch out for me, though.

ALLY: (laughs) Okay. Okay.

ERIKA: Af.

ALLY: Huh?

ERIKA: What makes you happy?

ALLY: What?

ERIKA: What makes you happy?

ALLY: Um. Uhh...

ERIKA: I'm sorry, I hope that's not too forward. I just find it's better to cut out with all of the extraneous garbage.

ALLY: Oh, well I... Yeah, what makes me happy? You know, I...

MATT: Right at that moment, you see the large, wide shouldered shape of Jason Buckner began to approach from behind Af as a big hand goes boof onto their shoulder. He goes, "Hey." You turn around and look up, and you can see the face eyes tense, jaw clenched. "So what was that about, bitch? Huh?"

ALLY: (laughs)

ERIKA: Jason Buckner, mind your manners.

MATT: "You're telling that to me?"

ERIKA: Yes. I said your full name and everything.

MATT: "I just want answers, all right? This came out of fucking nowhere."

ERIKA: Af?

ALLY: Yeah, well, you seemed pretty big, pretty intimidating, and I just wanted to show that so am I.

MATT: "I feel like there are more constructive ways of doing that than just, you know, decking someone. I didn't do anything to you."

ALLY: Okay, yeah, sure.

MATT: At this point, a bigger dude comes up wearing the same football jacket over, and gets between you two and goes, "Hey. Hey, this is completely uncalled for. This is a way to perpetuate violence against women, Jason. Back down." You know this to be a Terrence Michaels, who is the largest and probably dumbest of the football team. He is what you would call dumb woke. (laughter) He pushes back, says, "Just hang off, okay? All right, personal space, consent."

ALLY: That's super nice of you, Terrence. I don't necessarily identify as a woman, but--

MATT: "Oh, my apologies. I was unaware."

ALLY: Oh yeah, yeah. It's a new thing, actually. We were just talking about maybe spreading it around a little bit.

MATT: "If you ever want to talk about it some time, like, just let me know."

ALLY: With you?

MATT: "Well, yeah, I mean I'm open. I'm cool. I'm hip."

ALLY: Yeah.

MATT: "My older sister, she's one of them gay girls." (laughter) "She went to college and like, you know, I listen, and I'm all about, you know, just whatever makes people happy."

ALLY: Oh. That's--

ERIKA: Terrence.

ALLY: -- shockingly open.

ERIKA: An exemplary ally.

ALLY: Wow, that's great.

MATT: "Thank you, I appreciate that."

ERIKA: Yes. Thank you, Terrence. I do appreciate that. Jason, I'm terribly sorry. It seems like there's some sort of misunderstanding here. Af is new in town and you're just so big and strong and intimidating, so you can understand why Af would feel a little threatened.

MATT: "I mean, I guess I get it, but--"

ERIKA: You know, you pick the biggest, toughest, baddest guy in school and you pick a fight, and it's a way to protect yourself.

MATT: "Just don't do it again, okay?"

ALLY: For sure.

MATT: "If you got a problem, just say it to my face."

ALLY: Yeah. I'm really good with using my words and not just going straight to physical altercations.

MATT: "All right." And shrugs off Terrence's hand on his shoulder.

TALIESIN: These are your people, Cam. That is so tragic. (laughs)

ASHLEY: Yeah, I know.

TALIESIN: Oh my god.

ASHLEY: Hence the change.

TALIESIN: This is, I almost miss this. I don't, but I almost miss this.

ASHLEY: Yeah, but we get to be around it five times a week.

TALIESIN: I got to get out of here, god.

ASHLEY: Yeah, me too, man.

MATT: Terrence turns back and is like, "All right, well, you know, anytime, I'm not a card-carrying member of the patriarchy. I am a welcome space to discuss feelings."

ALLY: Wow.

MATT: "Have a good day."

ALLY: Hey honestly, you too, man.

ERIKA: Good luck at practice, Terrence.

MATT: "Thanks, Sasha."

ERIKA: Welcome to Cinderbrush High.

ALLY: Thanks. Yeah, I really didn't know anyone coming in besides Cameron, so it's been--

ERIKA: You knew Cameron?

ALLY: Yeah, yeah, we've met.

ERIKA: Where? How could you possibly know Cameron?

ALLY: Oh, just like, you know, out in the world, at meetings and stuff, you know.

ERIKA: Meetings?

ALLY: Nothing. Anyway. My astrology app today said to take a chance. Are you single? (laughter)

ERIKA: I am.

ALLY: Cool. That's all I needed to know. I run.

(laughter)

MATT: You guys watch as Af just like arm-sprints, T-1000's it away from the table.

(laughter)

ASHLEY: Yes.

ERIKA: So what do we think?

MATT: Jesse is leaning back in the chair. "Man, she-- they're pretty fucking weird." Lexi goes, "I, you know, I'm not going to lie. I kind of think she's sweet. They're sweet." And Cori sits back, looking at her phone. "Eh."

ERIKA: Hmm. I have some followup questions for that one. Interesting. When's the next party, Jesse?

MATT: Jesse thinks like, "I don't know, my usual contact got arrested a couple weeks back, so I'm trying to reconnect a little bit, see what I can muster. Parents are still in town, but I don't know, I'm thinking maybe like mid-October."

ERIKA: Okay. All right. Gives me some time. Great. And you know, we can always go to Jamie for anything.

MATT: "Jamie? You got to go to Jamie?"

ERIKA: Oh yeah.

MATT: "You trust that creep?"

ERIKA: I absolutely do not. But he operates as long as I say he operates in this school.

MATT: They all glance over. You're starting to get the odd sensation that whenever they all turn, it's in almost unison to a specific direction, and they all glance over back towards Jamie and Cameron across at their table.

TALIESIN: Excuse me, I'm going to go finish up some business with your terrifying ex.

ASHLEY: Have fun. She's a blast.

TALIESIN: Don't I know it.

MATT: Jamie begins to approach and takes a seat at your table.

TALIESIN: Now that you've finished terrorizing the new meat.

ERIKA: Terrorizing nothing. I'm just getting to know a new face.

TALIESIN: Please don't break this one too quickly.

ERIKA: Hmm. I don't ever do anything too quickly, Jamie.

TALIESIN: Just going to remind you I have my eyes on you.

ERIKA: Who doesn't?

TALIESIN: (sighs) Do you want to do this with your little group, or do you want to go talk privately?

ERIKA: Let's go chat, shall we? Excuse us.

MATT: They all just sit and patiently wait for you to leave with a look of--

TALIESIN: Pod people.

(laughter)

MATT: They all at once turn their head.

TALIESIN: That shit's gross, but that's not why we're here.

ERIKA: Why are we here, Jamie?

TALIESIN: Just making sure that you're taken care of. You said that we needed to have a little talk, so, I'm making myself available. I always make myself available.

ERIKA: You and Cameron had been hanging out a lot lately. What have you done with the his head?

TALIESIN: (laughs) Oh, Sasha. There is nothing I can do to that boy's poor fucking head that you haven't already done.

ERIKA: (laughs)

TALIESIN: I am just enjoying the company of a disaster.

ERIKA: Hmm.

TALIESIN: A disaster that, from what I can tell, you created. Well done.

ERIKA: No, this one wasn't me.

TALIESIN: Bullshit.

ERIKA: No, this is a whole different kind of mind fuck than I usually give. Hmm.

TALIESIN: Are you lying to me?

ERIKA: Jamie. I would never lie to you. I lie to everybody, but never to you.

TALIESIN: (sighs) Shit.

ERIKA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Well, I just assumed I wasn't working with a broken heart, then. Never mind.

ERIKA: Hmm.

TALIESIN: Don't know. Trying to take my mind off things. Trying to take his mind off things. It's been working out. But no, nothing you need to worry about.

ERIKA: Okay. Anything else cooking?

TALIESIN: Always. But--

ERIKA: Anything I really need to know about?

TALIESIN: Be careful with the fresh meat. I get the sense it might be more than you bargained for. Just a vibe.

ERIKA: I'm always careful.

TALIESIN: And if you need a refill of anything,

ERIKA: (sighs)

TALIESIN: I could use a few things.

ERIKA: Okay.

TALIESIN: In fact, if you have the urge, anything personal of Jason's might be...

ERIKA: (laughs)

TALIESIN: Very valuable.

ERIKA: Yeah, I think I can arrange something. Meet you at the clubhouse this weekend?

TALIESIN: I'll be there.

ERIKA: Great.

MATT: All right. Scattering and finishing up your lunches, you head yourselves to your final class of the evening, which is English II with Miss Laura Meyer. Miss Meyer, who is the more theatrical of the class teachers, bouncing between English and drama, and very much you can see once saw herself as the top of the community theater, not too far outside of the city in Arizona. And she begins to go into the review of the themes of the book that you all failed to really begin reading, called Lord of the Flies. She goes on about "the conflicting human yearning for social structure and order with the rational and emotional minds that can easily disagree and sunder it all from the inside."

ASHLEY: Whatever, they were just fucking hungry.

MATT: "Cameron, did you even read it?"

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: "Did you interpret it?"

ASHLEY: I interpreted it that they were out there and they were just, wanted food.

ERIKA: Actually, Cameron, it's more about how man will almost always succumb to his more animalistic urges when left to his own devices, without the structure of law and order.

MATT: "An interesting perspective, Sasha."

TALIESIN: Sasha, I felt that Cameron had the conch there, so if you would not be so rude.

ERIKA: Oh.

MATT: (chuckles)

ASHLEY: Thank you, Jamie.

ERIKA: Excuse me. "Sucks to your ass-mar", Jamie.

MATT: "That's a good point."

TALIESIN: Oh my god.

MATT: "Is society required to enforce morality, or is society a construct of enforced morality? That is the point of our conversation in today's class." And she begins to go up to the chalkboard and begin writing the question on the board.

ALLY: Honestly, flies kind of scare me, because I'm always like, is there a dead body around here?

TALIESIN: What have you heard?

ALLY: What?

TALIESIN: (laughs)

ALLY: What?

ERIKA: What?

MATT: Aimee Reyes turns around to you, Cameron, again and goes, "If it's easier, I can tutor you. Like, if you actually wanted to learn as opposed to just turning in the work."

ASHLEY: Yeah! Yeah. Yeah, that would actually be, I mean... yeah. Yeah, you want to come over later?

MATT: "Yeah, yeah, I could probably do that."

ASHLEY: Okay. You know where I live, right?

MATT: "Yeah."

ASHLEY: I mean, I can also come to your house.

MATT: "You can pick me up?"

ASHLEY: I actually don't have my car right now.

MATT: "Well, I'll ride over on my bike."

ASHLEY: Yeah, okay.

MATT: "Okay." And she turns back around quickly. You can see even with her cold, loner general demeanor, there's a bit of a risk take here for her reaching out. At this point, there's quiet amongst the conversations as the last bit of the chalk marks are (scraping) on the board, and you hear, (vibrations), a wave text go through, and everyone begins looking for their phones. Most-- nobody. But you see four people that begin to read something on their phone. Jesse Zimmerman, of your Hive. Jamie, you receive this text. Tyler Thorne, who is the local pseudo-stoner DJ of the classroom, and Cam. The text reads...

(laughter)

TALIESIN: What?

ASHLEY: Oh, what? Stop it!

MATT: It says, "Hey fuckers! It's Suuuuuzie. Escape Shitterbrush tomorrow night and come say hi! Popup rave at St. Marin Refinery, 11:00pm Bring candy. Miss you!"

ASHLEY: (laughs)

MATT: Now Suzie Moreno--

ASHLEY: I love it.

MATT: -- was a graduate from last year's senior class, here at Cinderbrush High. Was well-connected in the Cinderbrush party scene before moving to Vertuga, and was never socially interested in going against you, Sasha, and for an elder classman, just-- you had an understanding. There was a brief flirtation while you guys were dating that caused some tension, but mostly just, because your family's so well-connected, and because you do have money, there was definitely an interest-- a situation in the past where you've both partied together, and she utilized your connections to help get proper locations for parties and elements like that. Jamie, you know exactly why you guys know each other. But as this goes around and these texts begin to go off.

TALIESIN: Oh, shit.

MATT: Jamie turns to you, Sasha, and goes, "There's some shit going down tonight." And turns the text over towards you.

ERIKA: Oh. Roll out in style, then.

MATT: (as Jesse) "I don't have any candy. You were mentioning that freak over there could probably hook us up?"

ERIKA: Jamie's got whatever we need.

MATT: "Okay. You can go ahead and talk to them. We'll put some things together." As Cameron, you get your text at that point, behind you, you notice at that moment that Amanda, who sits behind you, is looking over your shoulder--

(laughter)

MATT: --and reading it.

ASHLEY: What the fuck?

MATT: "Nothing, I was just, you know, was watching what the teacher was writing on the board."

ASHLEY: Yeah, I could feel you breathing on my shoulder.

MATT: "I'm sorry, I'm a heavy breather. It's a condition."

ASHLEY: You should get that looked at, dude.

MATT: At which point, immediately Amanda turns to you and goes, "Af, Af."

ALLY: Yeah, what's up?

MATT: "There's like a party happening tonight."

ALLY: What?

MATT: "I just read it on Cam's phone."

ALLY: Oh, cool.

MATT: "I've never been to a party."

ALLY: Actually, me neither. I've barely done anything.

MATT: "I don't know, it sounds really exciting."

ALLY: Okay, I'm feeling wild. Do we know anything about it?

MATT: "I thankfully have a photographic memory."

ALLY: Oh, cool.

MATT: "Which is kinda why I'm so good stuff. I got the detail. I don't have a car."

ALLY: I have a car.

MATT: "Okay."

ALLY: I have a big truck. It's stick shift.

MATT: "That is so cool."

ALLY: Thanks.

MATT: "That is so cool. Okay, okay."

ALLY: Cool.

TALIESIN: Cameron, you into this shit?

ASHLEY: Take a minute. I don't know, are you going to go?

TALIESIN: I don't know how the fuck I'm going to get there, but I've got to go. There's work to be done.

ASHLEY: Is there anyone we know that has a car right now?

ALLY: Anyway, my truck is four horsepower. (laughter) 90 horsepower, and...

MATT: "You're talking my language, horsepower."

ALLY: It's giant. Right now it's currently filled with crates of stuff that I didn't want in my room anymore.

MATT: "Oh, okay."

TALIESIN: Do you think it's possible to kill Amanda? Question mark.

MATT: "Okay, okay."

ASHLEY: Yeah, I can do it after school.

TALIESIN: Make it look lik a stampede.

ASHLEY: Done.

TALIESIN: (laughs)

MATT: As soon as that moment of excitement settles between the two of you, Af, you realize that you do have a three-hour shift at Diamond Liquor for your father.

ASHLEY: I turn around. Hey, so... Yeah, I know you saw the text. That's okay. You going to go to this party?

ALLY: (laughs) Yeah, I feel like I'm in a weird game of telephone. Well, yeah, I was thinking about it, actually. Are you?

ASHLEY: Yeah, you have a car, yeah? It's got like four horsepower?

ALLY: I've got a four horsepower truck.

ASHLEY: That's fucking fast.

ALLY: Thanks, yeah. I change the oil myself.

ASHLEY: You do?

ALLY: Actually, I lay down on a skateboard and it pours all over me, and then, but I'm going to get to a point where it stops pouring on me.

ASHLEY: I start running my hands through my hair.

MATT: (laughs)

ASHLEY: Maybe we can, I mean, if you're going to go, maybe we can all go together. I dunno.

ALLY: Yeah, totally. I got you.

ASHLEY: My car is in the shop right now, so I can't drive it.

ALLY: Cool yeah, it'll be you, me, and Amanda. That's great.

ASHLEY: I think Jamie might tag along with us, too? Is that okay, do you have enough room?

ALLY: Yeah, honestly, I really like that guy. They seem really fucking sick.

MATT: Amanda gets extremely stiff.

ASHLEY: Jamie's rad.

ALLY: Yeah.

ASHLEY: He's good people.

ALLY: He lied about the bird.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ALLY: Something you never forget. I would fall on my sword for him.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

(laughter)

ALLY: All right, and I look at Amanda.

MATT: "What? This is crazy!"

ERIKA: I text Jamie a lollipop emoji and a party popper and a question mark.

TALIESIN: Excuse me. Got to take care of a few things. I text back just a pound sign, with a question mark.

ERIKA: I send back a 100 emoji. (laughter) Yeah, and the flying money emoji. Oh no, the one with the face that has the money tongue.

ALLY: Yeah.

(laughter)

MATT: All right.

ASHLEY: Oh, do you have an Apple watch? Is that what this was?

TALIESIN: I was just... Got it. (laughter) Don't have an Apple watch, Jesus Christ.

ASHLEY: I'll be there, I'll pick you up at 8:00pm.

ERIKA: So tonight or tomorrow?

MATT: Tonight.

ERIKA: Tonight.

MATT: At 11:00pm. It's a rapidly thrown together event. Class does eventually come to a close, and the school day ends with the ring of the bell. The campus becomes energetic as students scatter to the rest of their business throughout the day. And you all find, you grab your bags, head back out into the hallways, and what would you like to do?

ALLY: I guess we should get each other's numbers, right? If we're all carpooling.

TALIESIN: Sure.

ASHLEY: Yeah, what's your number?

ALLY: I give you my number.

ASHLEY: Okay.

TALIESIN: With a group chat.

ASHLEY: Yeah, doing a group chat.

ALLY: Yeah, let's start a group chat.

ASHLEY: All right.

ALLY: Amanda, do you want to give your number?

MATT: "Oh, yeah, yeah, totally. What's your number?"

ASHLEY: Fuck. Just don't text me a lot, please. Because I've heard you text like, you know--

ALLY: Yeah, I get morning updates from her.

ASHLEY: You're one of those people that sends texts, it's like five at a time.

MATT: "Okay, I'll be sparing."

ASHLEY: Okay. So I give my number.

MATT: All right.

ASHLEY: Five-five-five.

(laughter)

MATT: You give everyone your number, it's fine. We don't have to roleplay the entire social distribution.

TALIESIN: Three texts that don't end in a question mark and you're blocked. Just an understanding.

MATT: "Of course."

(laughter)

ALLY: Honestly, good rule.

TALIESIN: Thank you.

ASHLEY: That's a very good rule.

TALIESIN: I've got to run by you know where to take care of a few things.

ASHLEY: What time are you going to go by there?

TALIESIN: Right now, honestly. Unless you have a reason not to.

ASHLEY: No, I can go with you.

TALIESIN: Cool.

ASHLEY: Yeah. Oh shit. I find Aimee.

TALIESIN: Send you a black heart. It says, "See you at the show."

ASHLEY: Hey Aimee, what time did you want to come by tonight?

MATT: "I don't know, what's good for you? Like six, seven? I have a couple extracurricular activities to take care of, but I can swing by whenever."

ASHLEY: Yes, yeah. What time is it right now?

MATT: At this point, I'd say about 3:00.

ASHLEY: 6:00 is good.

MATT: "Okay."

ASHLEY: All right.

MATT: "All right, I'll see you later."

ASHLEY: Bye, Aimee.

MATT: "Bye, Cameron."

ERIKA: Do I see any of this?

MATT: You would. You are very constantly radar scoping everything around you, especially when it comes to Cameron. And since you did hear the buzz of the phone in that direction of the classroom, and based on the conversation with them all, you gather that they probably got a similar connection.

ERIKA: Okay. And I saw Aimee talking to Cameron?

MATT: Briefly, yeah.

ERIKA: Okay.

MATT: Okay. You want to do anything, or just--

ERIKA: Oh! Um.

MATT: Or you just clocking it?

ERIKA: I, uh... I think, um... I think I'll have Jesse swing by around six-ish.

MATT: Okay.

ERIKA: Evening, just do a lap.

MATT: Oh, to check in?

ERIKA: Yeah.

MATT: Okay. Okay. That can be done. Anything anybody else wants to do in the after school? Any preparation needs to be done?

ALLY: Yeah, actually. Amanda, I need your help.

MATT: "Yeah, of course. Whatever you need, let me know."

ALLY: I'm supposed to work at the liquor store today, which means I could not go to this party. So I need you to go to my house with me and convince my parents that we have a huge project due tomorrow, and that I need to stay at your house and work on this project.

MATT: "You need me to lie to your parents."

ALLY: Yeah, and I need you to wear these fake glasses so that you look smart. (laughter) It's 90% of our grade. You're a good liar, right?

MATT: "I don't know?"

ALLY: Okay, well we're going to have to work on that on the ride there. Let's go.

MATT: "They don't fit. Okay."

ALLY: Just practice saying, "That's 100% true."

MATT: (unconvincingly) "That's 100% true."

ALLY: Okay, yeah, we'll get there, we'll get there.

MATT: "Okay. Wow, that's never..." (laughter) Okay, so you guys head to your truck.

ALLY: Yeah.

MATT: You make your way off to the parents folk. What are you doing?

TALIESIN: We're going-- are you coming with me or--?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: We're going to the hideout.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: In the mine.

ALLY: (impressed laugh)

MATT: All right. So the two of you... walk to?

TALIESIN: If you've got a bike, I've got a scooter.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I have my bike.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: That's how I've been getting around.

MATT: All right, so you guys make your way over to the quarry, the outside of the Solomon Quarry.

ASHLEY: My BMX.

MATT: Yeah.

ALLY: Sick.

(laughter)

MATT: Bunch of cool tricks and shit on the way.

ASHLEY: Sasha used to ride on those pegs.

MATT: (laughs)

TALIESIN: I'll bet she did.

MATT: All right. You approach the outskirts of it. You head down the broad ramps to the furthest back pit of the quarry, the familiar space where you keep a little private area for yourself. Come up to the door that you have hidden off to the side with the sheet over it. There's the padlock that you keep on it. You put in your key. Open it.

ASHLEY: Oh, this is looking really good.

TALIESIN: Yeah, it's not bad.

ASHLEY: (sighs) God.

TALIESIN: You all right?

ASHLEY: Yeah, I'm okay. This was a weird day at school.

TALIESIN: Do you know new kid? Do you have any like, I don't know. You had-- been weird today.

ASHLEY: Yeah. Yeah, we actually know each other. We go to, um... a meeting. It's like a little bit outside of town. It's like a youth anger management meeting.

TALIESIN: Oh fuck, I've been to meetings, yeah.

ASHLEY: I don't know, my parents put me in it and it's--

TALIESIN: Well, obviously it's really helping, because you seem like you're doing really good.

ASHLEY: Thanks, Jamie.

ASHLEY and TALIESIN: (laugh)

ASHLEY: I dunno, I'm just doing it to appease them, I guess. But I actually knew Af before that.

TALIESIN: No shit.

ASHLEY: Yeah. Um... (chuckles) I went to... I went to summer camp, like in middle school, you know? Right before high school, and we met there. (laughs) Yeah, I mean it was a cool summer.

TALIESIN: "It was a cool summer?" Like what the fuck does that mean? It's a summer camp, like were you bunk makes or whatever the fuck that is?

ASHLEY: (groans) Well, we kind of maybe, like-- it was kind of my first kiss.

TALIESIN: No shit!

ASHLEY: Yeah. Yeah.

TALIESIN: Oh, you're doing that weird hair shit you do.

ASHLEY: (sighs)

TALIESIN: Oh no.

ASHLEY: Yeah. It was kind of fun because, you know, like the whole summer, we were just flirting with each other. We were kids, you know? And then, (laughs), I dunno, I guess towards like the end of the camp, we just, we all were like swimming and shit and like doing, you know, the stupid like bouncy thing, you know? And we were just in the water, and (laughs), we like got under a canoe and then just started like making out.

TALIESIN: Oh, for fuck's sake.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: For fuck's sake.

ASHLEY: It was kind of sweet, though.

TALIESIN: Oh, this is so good. Anything to get Sasha out of your fucking system.

ASHLEY: Yeah, but that was a long time ago.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

ASHLEY: I don't know if you can ever get Sasha out of your fucking system.

TALIESIN: I'm pretty sure you can. She's a lot, but-- I mean. I'm enjoying this, don't get me wrong. This is great.

ASHLEY: Please don't tell anybody.

TALIESIN: I won't tell anybody, unless they offer me something really, really good.

ASHLEY: Okay, fair enough.

TALIESIN: (laughs) Like super fucking juicy.

ASHLEY: I just, I feel like, you know, Af is new at school, and I want them to be comfortable, and I don't want to spread that information if they're not comfortable with that.

TALIESIN: Oh no, I like Af. I don't entirely know why, but I dig the dopey puppy vibe.

ASHLEY: (laughs) Yeah, me too.

TALIESIN: It's nice, it's unthreatening.

ASHLEY: Like, yeah, I don't know.

TALIESIN: Oh my god, oh god, this is so gross.

ASHLEY: (laughing) I don't know, I'm kind of into it, too. But I mean, that's, whatever.

TALIESIN: No, I'm here to take care of your ex right now anyway, so we're going to need a few things.

ASHLEY: (sighs)

TALIESIN: I started assembling a magic pouch, which has... (laughter) A Hunter S. Thompson collection of-- like a good Thompson's worth of Vegas essentials. And, in a secret pouch, it's one of those magicians' hide-a-pouches.

MATT: Mm-hmm.

TALIESIN: So that's, ah, there's no rabbit in here, there's a rabbit in here kind of thing. So it's got the little half-flap,and then put the rest of it, I just fill a bunch of my stuff from New York, a little bit of some herbs, a small, sharp razor blade, a little bit of chalk, a little bit of sulfur, a little bit of salt, just in case shit goes down.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: All my tools.

MATT: All right. As you're assembling all these elements here--

TALIESIN: And some cash.

MATT: You hear what sounds like a handful of rocks tumble and crack from the entrance to this little hidden hideaway.

ASHLEY: Fuck.

ASHLEY: Hey, I'll meet-- we'll figure out where we're meeting and everything, yeah? I'll text you?

TALIESIN: Yeah, you better text me. Yeah.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I got to go, I mean--

TALIESIN: You know I'm not going to tell anybody, you know.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I know.

MATT: "Holy shit." You turn around and you can see Evan Harris standing there, cell phone up, recording, going, "What?"

ASHLEY: How long have you been standing there?

MATT: "For like five minutes. You guys are ridiculous."

ASHLEY: I go up and--

MATT: "Is this like some sort of weird, like cult hideout or some shit? Are you serious?"

ASHLEY: No, it's just--

TALIESIN: Oh.

ASHLEY: I'm going to go up and lash out physically. (laughter) And I'm going to go try to punch him in the face and take his phone.

MATT: (laughs) Okay. Go ahead and roll 2d6.

ALLY: Oh, come on, Cam.

ASHLEY: Okay, that's a 10. Oh, minus one, so it's a nine.

MATT: A nine, okay. Okay. So you get to choose one of the three elements there. You do manage to harm, though. So you rush up, and immediately and Evan's like, "Wait, wait, wait, what are you--" and dealt him--

ALLY: That's how the video ends?

MATT: Yeah, just dealt in the face, the video spins, it has that rapid thing, and then, end of Blair Witch style, it just lands on the bottom of the cave floor. Evan's nose is rushing just blood from the front. You choose one of the options there for the success, but complicated aspect there under lash out physically. They can either learn something about your true nature and they gain a string on you.

ASHLEY: I'm going to let you decide how bad the harm turns out.

MATT: How bad the harm turns out?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: Okay.

(laughs)

ASHLEY: I trust you.

MATT: You see the phone clatter to the ground, and Evan grab the front of his face, and bends down. "Oh!"

ASHLEY: What the fuck? You can't just film people without asking!

MATT: He looks up, and he's missing three of his front teeth.

ASHLEY: Shit!

MATT: "What did you-- what did you do?"

ASHLEY: That's what you fucking get, dude. You can't just come in here and start filming people like that.

TALIESIN: I grab the phone.

MATT: "Hey, give that back!" It's actually locked at this point.

TALIESIN: Now it's unlocked?

(laughter)

MATT: Yeah.

(laughs)

ASHLEY: So it's an iPhone.

MATT: Yeah, the missing teeth wasn't enough to blanket the visage.

(laughter)

ALLY: What an insane upgrade that was.

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah.

TALIESIN: It's the worst thing to ever happen.

MATT: "I was just--"

TALIESIN: I'm deleting it, and I'm scanning through all the photos to just forward myself a couple things.

ALLY: (laughs)

MATT: "You're fucking crazy, you know that?"

ASHLEY: I'm crazy? I'm crazy? You fucking came in here and didn't even-- we didn't even know you were there!

MATT: "Look, you two who have been-- you've been always weird. You've been really weird for a while now. Just wandering down the middle of a fucking quarry?"

ASHLEY: My family owns this quarry. I worked here over the summer. It's perfectly acceptable that I'm fucking here.

MATT: "Totally, and you have this amazing Halloween Store cave here. What the fuck?"

TALIESIN: This is fucked, Cameron. Are going to make me deal with this?

MATT: "Just give me my goddamn phone."

TALIESIN: You tell anyone about this place. You tell anyone.

ASHLEY: Anyone. You're going to be missing more than your fucking teeth.

TALIESIN: I'm actually-- I'm going to toss the phone to you, and I'm going to try and grab a chunk of his hair.

ASHLEY: Oh.

MATT: Okay.

ERIKA: (laughs)

TALIESIN: I need a token.

MATT: I will say go ahead and make a shut someone down roll.

TALIESIN: Okay. See if I can pull this fucking shit off.

MATT: This is going to be to--

TALIESIN: Roll with cold, okay.

MATT: -- to intimidate and act quickly enough to not have resistance.

TALIESIN: Seven.

MATT: A seven, okay. As he goes and reaches for the phone as you toss it, you reach up quickly and grab a chunk of the hair and pull it away. He turns around, "Ah!"

TALIESIN: I immediately start casting a spell.

MATT: What do you do?

TALIESIN: I'm going to cast Illusions.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: (whispered) Oh my god.

MATT: What transpires?

TALIESIN: I want fucking bats. I just want him to get attacked by bats as long as he's in the cave.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

MATT: Okay. As soon as you turn, you see him looking at you, his eyes wide, both in incredulous pain, and then as you begin to-- (speaking gibberish) "What the fuck are you--?" Like spitting blood and spittle from the missing front teeth, and then suddenly goes, (shouting), goes running outside of the cavern, off into the afternoon sunlight.

TALIESIN: Fucker.

ASHLEY: Did he take his phone?

MATT: Huh? No, you have the phone.

ASHLEY: All right, well now they can fucking trace the phone. So if he's looking for it--

TALIESIN: Well, we're going to get rid of it.

ASHLEY: All right.

TALIESIN: Wipe it and we'll just get rid of it. Leave it out front. Everyone will know he--

ASHLEY: Is it still unlocked or did it lock?

MATT: It locked.

TALIESIN: It locked.

ASHLEY: Shit. Okay.

TALIESIN: At least he'll sound like an idiot for leaving.

ASHLEY: Yeah. I mean, he's not going to tell... Hopefully he doesn't tell anybody.

TALIESIN: What, that he got attacked by bats?

ASHLEY: About this place.

TALIESIN: Hide it for now.

ASHLEY: What time is it?

MATT: At this point, I'd say like 4:30, 5:00.

ASHLEY: I got to go home pretty soon, but I'm going to go check and make sure everything's okay down the mine, okay?

TALIESIN: I'm going to grab anything that, just in case, I'm just going to grab anything I don't want to be found here. Like anything really problematic out of this place.

MATT: Okay. It takes you a little bit, so you probably leave in advance.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: And you--

TALIESIN: Text tonight.

MATT: Clear up as much as you can.

TALIESIN: I'm going to just leave the phone, maybe at the other entrance of the--

ASHLEY: Yeah. By the way, thanks for that.

TALIESIN: Thanks for punching him.

ASHLEY: (chuckles) All right, I'll see you later.

MATT: Okay. While you finish that up, Sasha, what are you doing?

ERIKA: I had to stay late to help with some debate team stuff and you know, student council stuff, study hall, volunteering work. It's exhausting. I'd probably wrap up by around five or so.

MATT: Okay. Is there anything you want to do after five?

ERIKA: I text Jesse to stop by. Keep an eye on Cam.

MATT: Texts back, "You got it."

ERIKA: I'm going to ask Lexi to... Lexi, do you think you'd be able to pull new kid's records in the office?

ASHLEY: (gasps)

MATT: Texts back. "Possibly."

ERIKA: If there's no risk, go for it. Just happen to see it. I don't need hard copies. Just info.

MATT: "On? The new kid?"

ERIKA: Yes.

MATT: "All right." Okay. While you're finishing up those activities, you, within your truck, Abigail, sitting in the passenger seat as you drive away from school going like, "Oh, wow. I haven't even got my license yet."

ALLY: Yeah, it's great. Okay, pop quiz.

MATT: "Yeah."

ALLY: Is there really a test tomorrow?

MATT: "Tomorrow?"

ALLY: Mm-hmm.

MATT: "There is a brief quiz on the topic, but there isn't like a full-scale test. We're just getting into the school year, so you should be okay."

ALLY: Okay. No, I'm being my parents, and I need you--

MATT: "Oh, right!"

ALLY: Really sell it.

MATT: "Right, sorry, sorry."

ALLY: There is a huge test, there's a huge project.

MATT: "There is a huge project--"

ALLY: Everyone knows Tuesday, usually that's the day when the big stuff is due.

MATT: "Yes, 90% of the grade."

ALLY: Thank you.

MATT: "Yes. Okay. Got it, got it. It's super important and absolutely 100% true."

ALLY: Yes. Right?

MATT: "Right."

ALLY: Okay, we're getting there, we're getting there.

MATT: You pull up to the liquor store, Diamond Liquor, where your dad, Samuel, is out back. They have a truck open and they're currently loading up the stock room in the back, and he says the truck pulls up and gives a hand wave. He's a middle aged man, little bit of a gut, but you can see he was handsome in his younger years. He has a bright smile, but looks a little dopey in the face, but overall like sweet. Hair is thinning a bit, tight jeans that are pulled up a little too high, and you can see he's probably got a little bit of back pain as he's pulling these boxes out. This liquor store is small and doesn't have a lot of hands on deck, so it takes a little bit of challenge to get the business going. But as you step out of the truck, he gives you a wave over. "Hey, what's up?"

ALLY: Hey, Dad! I give him a big hug. How's work? How's it been so far today?

MATT: "Oh, it's been good. We're just, you know, trying to get stocked back up again. It's hard getting the truck to come this as far out as often as we need to, and it's actually been selling pretty well, which was great. Which, you know, I'm still getting used to how the numbers here were compared to how we were back at the old home, but yeah."

ALLY: That's great. Well, you know what, I got some bad news about today, actually.

MATT: "Oh no, what happened?"

ALLY: It seems like, you know, I'm still going to work tonight, but I have to just completely ignore this huge project that's worth 90% of my grade.

MATT: "What?"

ALLY: Doesn't that suck? Well, anyway, where's my apron? Is it still--

MATT: "No, no, no, no, no, no. It's just--" And Abigail sits forward, glasses on, and goes, "It's 100% true.

ASHLEY: Oh no.

MATT: "Worth 90% of the grade."

ALLY: Yeah, yeah, this is my partner.

MATT: "It's due tomorrow."

ALLY: Oh, sorry Dad, this is Amanda. Yeah, yeah, this is my partner. I brought her along because I'm just going to buy her a Coke to say sorry for making her fail the whole semester, too.

MATT: "100% true." (chuckling) (as Samuel) "No, no, look. Look, honey, we're new to this school, and you know, and getting back in town, and it's a little, you know, it's tense, and I know you're trying your best to get caught up and everything, so you know what, I'll take it. I know I can. It hasn't been an intense day. I can go ahead and just extend the shift I've been running. You go and you take care of this project, the two of you."

ALLY: Oh my gosh. Are you serious?

MATT: "Of course, of course."

ALLY: Well, I guess I'm going to have to go stay at Amanda's house to pulling an all-nighter, so I guess I'll see you tomorrow evening.

MATT: "Okay, yeah, no, please, just if you need anything, give me a call."

ALLY: That's so, and you know what else is crazy? We have a lot of supplies that we have to buy.

MATT: (as Amanda) "100% true."

ALLY: And so I don't know if I could maybe get an advance on the next check that I would be getting here, but we just have to, we're studying deep sea animals, so I have to make a lot of slime to show--

MATT: "All right."

ALLY: -- what they're like.

MATT: "How much, full check advance?"

ALLY: Yeah, if I can get $250.

MATT: "All right." Pulls out his wallet, starts counting through, and--

ALLY: A lot of singles. Okay.

MATT: Amanda's just like--

ALLY: Great, yeah. Thanks.

MATT: (as Samuel) "I only got, like, $210 on me, is that enough?"

ALLY: Of course, Dad, yeah, thanks. Gosh, thanks so much, okay. Got it. All right, I love you.

MATT: "Love you, too."

ALLY: I give him a quick hug and a kiss.

MATT: "Yep. Pleasure to meet you, Amanda. You seem really cool. Take care of her, and we'll, yeah. Let me know how it goes."

ALLY: I totally will, hey--

MATT: "Need snacks or anything, just give me a call."

ALLY: Thanks so much, Dad, yeah, definitely.

MATT: "Plenty chips just came in, too."

ALLY: Ah, great.

MATT: "The hot Cheetos too, we got a bunch of them in stock, just let me know."

ALLY: That's great, Dad. Thanks so much, yeah, okay. All right, good. Okay.

MATT: "Bye."

ALLY: Bye.

MATT: He goes back to loading boxes in.

ALLY: We hop in the truck. Oh, I'm such a bad person. Oh my god! Oh, my soul is burning!

MATT: "You dragged me into this!"

ALLY: I need to pray! I don't believe in God. I need to baptize myself.

MATT: "That was exhilarating."

ALLY: We have to go, we have to go now. Oh my god. Oh, I have to make it up to him. I have to buy him something, like, something, like, a $500 gift card to Sharper Image, or I don't know what he likes. Okay. Okay, let's go. I speed away.

MATT: Af's like, "I've got tunnel vision, that was so exciting."

ALLY: It was awful. That was the worst thing I've ever done, and I can't tell you the things I've done. Oh my god, okay.

MATT: (laughs)

TALIESIN: Amazing.

ALLY: This is bad, this is really bad. Am I going down the bad path? Am I going down the dark path? The path less traveled is maybe the bad one, is full of lying to your perfect father. Okay.

MATT: "No, it's fine, it's fine."

ALLY: Yeah.

MATT: "It's fine. It's for a good cause, it's for having adventures and experiences."

ALLY: Yep, I bet at the end of tonight, I'll be like "That was worth lying to my dad and making him work 20 hours."

MATT: (laughs)

ALLY: Okay. All right, good. Okay, great, yeah.

MATT: We transition over to the knocking on the front door (knocking) outside of the Solomon estate. There is a bike freshly parked out front, and the door opens, and we see immediately, Theresa Solomon, the mother of Cameron, open the door. "Hello?" And there stands Aimee Reyes, who's there, books in hand. "Hi, I don't mean to bother, I'm here to tutor Cameron." Theresa goes, "Oh, Cameron has a tutor now. "Cameron?" Cameron, you hear your mom, ever so slightly agitated, call your name throughout the house.

ASHLEY: All right, I come downstairs. Oh hey, what's up?

MATT: (as Aimee) "Hey." (as Theresa) "Your tutor's here."

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: "Come in, dear." Closes the door behind. Beautiful house. Well-done interior. Weirdly spacious, almost intimidating so.

ASHLEY: This is Aimee. She's going to tutor me today with first some stuff, and (deep inhale and exhale) Yeah, we'll just go upstairs.

MATT: "All right. Pleasure to meet you." You guys head upstairs.

ASHLEY: Did you want anything to drink or anything?

MATT: "Water, water would be wonderful."

ASHLEY: Yeah, okay.

MATT: (as Theresa) "I'll get that water for you. You two go upstairs."

ASHLEY: It's okay, Mom, I got it. Go get some waters.

MATT: She goes off to her--

ASHLEY: I mean, unless you're going to make, like, sandwiches or something.

MATT: "Would you like me to make sandwiches?"

ASHLEY: You want a sandwich?

MATT: (as Aimee) "I already ate, but you can have one."

ASHLEY: No, it's okay. It's okay, Mom. All right.

MATT: You head upstairs and a tutoring session begins. Starts awkward tension, energy in the room a little bit, before it calms a bit. You two haven't really hung out outside of class before, and one, it's nice to have interaction with a girl with a rapport that isn't your ex. But is genuinely also eager to teach, and show you the ropes a bit of this curriculum.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: Is there anything specific you would like to do during the tutoring session?

ASHLEY: Hey, I mean, are you still able to write my paper tonight? I know, I'm learning, obviously, but I just feel like I'm not quite good enough yet to write this paper.

MATT: "Have you tried?"

ASHLEY: Yeah. I mean, maybe not enough, but, wow.

MATT: "What will you give me if I do your homework for you?" You find yourself strangely enticed by Aimee. I'm going to go ahead and take a...

ASHLEY: Are you take a thing on her?

MATT: Take a string.

ASHLEY: Oh, she took the string on me.

MATT: As she begins to flirtatiously look you in the eyes.

ASHLEY: What are you doing tonight?

MATT: "I'm tutoring you and then going home to finish my homework and yours now, apparently."

ASHLEY: I mean, this paper isn't due tomorrow, necessarily. We could just turn our stuff in and turn it in the next day, you know? I mean, you ever done that before? You're like, "Oh, sorry, last night was so crazy. I'll bring it Wednesday."

MATT: "No, I haven't, but I've seen many people do it."

ASHLEY: There's a party tonight.

MATT: "Are you asking me to go to a party with you, Cameron?"

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: "All right."

ASHLEY: Yeah?

MATT: "Yeah."

ASHLEY: All right. Wait, what's your, oh wait, I have your number.

MATT: "Yeah, you have my number."

ASHLEY: Sorry. Okay, I'm going to text you the info. It's a rave.

MATT: "Pff."

ASHLEY: (chuckles) So bring your glow sticks. It's at the St. Marin Refinery at 11:00pm. Bring some candy.

MATT: "All right." Behind the window, as the bushes push apart, you can see Jesse just glancing in with his cell phone, taking pictures and texting them one by one to Sasha. (laughter) Sasha, you take a string on Cameron.

ERIKA: (laughs)

MATT: Green.

ALLY: Oh my god, your string collection is crazy.

TALIESIN: Damn.

MATT: Got to start spending some strings and doing some moves, guys.

ASHLEY: Before she leaves... Because I've had such a good time with her, I'm going to push her up against the door and kiss her.

MATT: Oh shit. Going to try and turn her on?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: Go for it.

ASHLEY: (laughs) Okay. Let's see.

MATT: Happy Valentine's Day.

(laughter)

ASHLEY: Okay. Do I get, 10.

MATT: 10.

TALIESIN: Nice.

ALLY: Whoa.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Wow.

MATT: She immediately tenses at the momentary action, but then eases into it. Time slows for a moment until you both break apart and she's just still looking up at, mouth slightly partied, laughs and smiles, and not really know what else to do, pulls away from you and grabs her books and goes, "So when should I come back to leave for the party?"

ASHLEY: Do you want to meet us there? Or--

MATT: "I can meet you there."

ASHLEY: Yeah?

MATT: "Yeah."

ASHLEY: Okay. Because I'm driving with some people, and I don't know if there's, I mean, there might be room. Let's just meet there.

MATT: "Okay."

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: "All right."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: "See you there?"

ASHLEY: Yeah, I'll see you there.

MATT: She leaves. You, Sasha, get a zoomed-in, somewhat pixelated, dirty, fuzzed picture of Cameron and Aimee both pressed against a familiar wall in his room.

ERIKA: I have a dummy account on Snapchat, not attached to me.

MATT: (laughs)

ERIKA: And that picture appears in the feeds of most of the people in this school, strategic people in this school. With a little caption. "Heartbroken boy takes advantage--"

ASHLEY and TALIESIN: Ooh!

ERIKA: "-- of lonely girl."

MATT: You're shutting someone down with this one.

ASHLEY: I love this game, it's amazing.

ALLY: The strings grow!

MATT: I know.

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah.

MATT: You could spend a string if you want to, to get a bonus to the roll, up to you.

ASHLEY: Oh, I get a string. Yeah?

ALLY: From turning her on?

ASHLEY: From turning her on.

MATT: Yes, you do. So you can just take one of the red ones and mark down that it's for Aimee.

ASHLEY: I'm catching up!

(laughter)

ERIKA: Since the clique sends it out to me, do I get a plus one?

MATT: I would say yes, because you have one.

ERIKA: Okay, I'll just keep it at that, then.

MATT: Okay.

ERIKA: Ooh. Four.

ASHLEY: Wait, plus anything?

ERIKA: Oh, five, five. Still, not great.

MATT: You get an experience point because it is a failure.

ERIKA: Right, okay.

MATT: So you mark that down. You send it out, and immediately, the responses are, "That's so fucking 'shopped. Fake." (laughter) And you actually watched the follower count on that account begin to slowly drop by a handful. Not enough to destroy it, but you've lost a little bit of that edge in that instance.

ASHLEY, TALIESIN, and ALLY: Oh!

MATT: Kind of stomp the ground for a moment, angrily.

ERIKA: (sighing)

MATT: One of them even says, "Nice try, Sasha."

ALL: (groans) Oh!

TALIESIN: Oh! That would be something I would do. Damn it.

(laughter)

ERIKA: Wow. Got to go home.

MATT: Okay. Anybody else want to do anything, or do we begin to gather for the evening's festivities?

ASHLEY: I just do my hair and put on my best flannel.

ALLY: (laughs)

ERIKA: I'm wearing a slinky, red, fuck you, breakup dress.

ALLY: (laughs)

MATT: Okay.

ERIKA: Yeah.

MATT: Fuck yeah.

TALIESIN: I'm wearing my uniform that says that I am in business. So lots and lots of pockets, lots of flowy stuff, lots of places to hide shit.

MATT: You got it.

ALLY: I'm wearing what I wore to school.

MATT: Yep. (laughter)

ALLY: Oh, is this a thing that you would change for? Shit.

MATT: Perfect.

TALIESIN: Your temperature's going to vary wildly as the evening goes on.

ALLY: Yeah, yeah, lots of layers.

MATT: All righty. So as the evening progresses on, pushing to about 9:30, 10:00 or so, people begin to gather. Jesse swings by and picks you up, the rest of the Hive already in tow. They've adorned themselves with what they assumed would be rave attire. These type of things are not common in this part of Arizona, let alone openly invited to high school students, and there's a lot of, "Oh yeah, I know what that's about." Haphazardly thrown together what they assume it's like. Shitty elements of neon vinyl. (laughs) But nevertheless, everyone grabs their seats in Jesse's car. It is a nice car, and you begin to peel off into the night desert, heading towards the facility. You, having been the one that offered your vehicle with Amanda in tow. Amanda is also dressed in the exact same stuff that she wore to school that day. Go ahead and, are you meeting at Cameron's place?

ALLY: Yeah, yeah, I pull up to Cameron's place.

MATT: Okay. You pull up, and you hear the car (whooshing). It's been about an hour since your father got home, and Hank has had a really bad day. He came in shouting and complaining, turned into a shouting match with your mom. The two of them ended up just going into a tense separation to their opposite sides of the house, and you've sat there, and in that silence, you began to hear the whispers again. You began to hear the calls of something that's not quite English, and then words would come through, like, "You can do more. So much more. Rise beyond them." And you hear the car approach and (creaking) park in the driveway.

ASHLEY: Go to the door.

ALLY: This is a really nice house.

ASHLEY: Oh, hey. Oh, yeah, I mean, it's not really mine, but I live here.

ALLY: Oh, yeah, totally.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I mean, you want anything to drink? I can have my mom make you a sandwich.

ALLY: I'm not super hungry, but I'll take something to drink, yeah.

ASHLEY: Yeah. Open the fridge, and there's just a fridge for just drinks, and it's like all, like, amazing.

TALIESIN: Whoa.

ALLY: What?!

ASHLEY: Yeah, Orange Crush--

ALLY: Holy shit.

ASHLEY: Got some Fanta.

ALLY: Cotton Candy Faygo?

ASHLEY: Yeah, oh my god! (laughter) You know what that is?!

ALLY: The best soda ever!

ASHLEY: Yeah, it's my favorite!

ALLY: Oh my god.

ASHLEY: Holy shit--

ALLY: I crack it open and I drink it so fast, it's inhuman.

ASHLEY: You chugged that so fast. You must be good at chugging.

ALLY: I was really thirsty.

MATT: Your mom walks in, goes, "Cameron, who's your friend?"

ASHLEY: This is Af.

ALLY: Hello.

MATT: "Hi, Af."

ALLY: Hi.

MATT: "Why are you in my house?"

ASHLEY: What do you mean? This is my friend.

MATT: "Right. And it's late. I didn't know you were having friends over."

ASHLEY: Yeah. Just a couple of friends over. It's no big deal.

ALLY: Have you tried the cotton candy Faygo?

MATT: Without saying a word, just leaves the kitchen.

ASHLEY: She's kind of a bitch.

ALLY: Should I go, or?

ASHLEY: No, no no no, I mean, we're going to leave anyway.

ALLY: Okay.

ASHLEY: It's fine. Anyway. I'm really glad you're going to the party.

ALLY: Dude, me too.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ALLY: I didn't say this before, because so many people around, but it seems crazy, like, that Jason Buckner was such an asshole to you about how much you've changed and then he got fucking decked, huh?

ASHLEY: Yeah, that was, I actually, I didn't hate it.

ALLY: Yeah.

ASHLEY and ALLY: (laugh)

ASHLEY: Yeah, we used to be really good friends, but we don't really hang out that much anymore.

ALLY: Yeah, you talked about him a lot in the meetings. So yeah, when I found out that that's who he was, I was like, I'm going to fuck that guy up.

ASHLEY: Yeah, that was kind of cool.

ASHLEY and ALLY: (laugh)

ASHLEY: Yeah, I mean, he's a good dude. I think he just... I dunno, we just don't hang out anymore.

ALLY: Yeah, totally.

ASHLEY: But I mean--

ALLY: Is he going to be at the party tonight?

ASHLEY: Probably, but that's okay. I mean, it seemed like you guys talked it out.

ALLY: Yeah, kind of. I mean, yeah, totally.

ASHLEY: I mean, he's kind of, if it happened again, if you ended up hitting him again, I mean, who cares?

ALLY: (gasps) Cool!

ASHLEY and ALLY: (laugh)

ALLY: No, but I am trying, I am trying to use the tools that they teach us, you know, when I get really angry, I count backwards from 10.

ASHLEY: Count backwards, yeah.

ALLY: And if that didn't work, I kill the person.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I mean... (laughing) It's pretty fast progression.

ALLY: Yeah, yeah.

ASHLEY: You just got to know automatically, you got to count to 10.

ALLY: Yeah.

ASHLEY: I can't usually, when I get to, you know, five, I can contain it.

ALLY: That's great. I'm not there yet. I haven't maybe contained it like once in my whole life.

ASHLEY: Yeah?

ALLY: Yeah. But...

ASHLEY: So is there anybody, I mean, this is kind of a dumb question, but is there anybody you're kind of into in school?

ALLY: Oh, like girls?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ALLY: Yeah, I mean, there's so many beautiful people, you know.

ASHLEY: Yeah, it's really, a lot of people are very beautiful there.

ALLY: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ALLY: Mary Rajo was the first person that was super cool, but like, she's very peaceful, so yeah, I just feel like I'm like constantly hiding my rage from her, which I mean, a lot of people do that.

ASHLEY: Would be a good balance for you, you know? How they say like opposites attract or whatever.

ALLY: Dude, yeah, totally.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ALLY: But then yeah, also like Sasha is... (laughing)

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ALLY: So hot, I feel like I'm going to maybe turn to sand every time she's around.

ASHLEY: She seems to have the effect on people.

ALLY: Yeah, totally.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ALLY: But sorry, it's your ex. I don't mean to be weird.

ASHLEY: No, it's okay. I mean, we're not, we're not dating anymore. But...

ALLY: You, anyone?

ASHLEY: No, not really. I mean, I kind of don't want to be with anybody right now, because we just like recently broke up, so I just want to play the field and whatever.

ALLY: Oh! (laughs)

ASHLEY: I dunno, I feel like that's something that people do after they break up.

ALLY: Yeah. Hey, you know, I don't, I'm not a super good matchmaker, but I think you have a shot with Amanda.

ASHLEY: Oh, man. I feel like--

ALLY: I didn't say anything, okay? But she really likes horses, so if you wanted something to talk about with her.

ASHLEY: I could tell, she always has those pants on and those boots.

ALLY: I always got tips for you.

ASHLEY: There was always like a smell, not a bad smell, but it always just smells like outside.

ALLY: Oh yeah, it's earth.

ASHLEY: It's earthy, yeah.

ALLY: It's like deep earth.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I feel like she needs to like loosen up a little bit. Like maybe she just needs like, I don't know.

ALLY: So you're intimidated by her. Yeah, I get it.

ASHLEY: Yeah, maybe a little bit. Yeah.

ALLY: Well, you know what? I have faith in you, I think you could do it.

ASHLEY: Yeah?

ALLY: Yeah, if you, yeah. If you just loosened up a little bit, I think you could ask her out.

(laughter)

MATT: You remember at this moment that Amanda is waiting in your truck outside. (laughter) Which, by the way--

TALIESIN: I was waiting for that.

MATT: After you go inside the house and the door closes, Amanda waits in the car. Waiting. And you can see this little scooter, and stop, and Amanda looks out the window and looks right towards you, Jamie.

TALIESIN: Oh, you're so tragic. (laughter) I'll go get them.

MATT: "Hi?"

TALIESIN: And I hide my scooter in the bushes.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: I've done this before.

MATT: Push it aside. Right as you get to the door and are about to knock, it opens up.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I mean, we can go.

TALIESIN: Okay, this is what we're wearing, apparently. That's fine. All right.

ALLY: Yeah, oh wait, you all changed. Okay.

ASHLEY: Do you want to borrow something? I mean you look really good, but, you look great, I didn't mean that like in a weird way or anything.

ALLY: No, thanks, no, I'll--

MATT: "Cam." You turn around, everyone glances over, and you can see, standing at the top of the curved stairway, button-up shirt, front undone, tie loosened and open. Just standing in there.

ASHLEY: Hey, Dad.

MATT: Cameron's father. Hank. "Where you going?"

ASHLEY: We're just going out.

MATT: "Where?"

ASHLEY: We're just like going to go out for a drive, nothing crazy.

MATT: "In whose car?"

ASHLEY: Af's car. It's a really nice, safe, four horsepower car.

ALLY: It's a truck, and it's stick shift.

ASHLEY: Yeah, Af is new in town, so, we're actually, we've become friends because we're in that program together. So Af's been like a super positive influence, and I wanted to show them around.

MATT: "What about that?"

TALIESIN: Mr. Solomon.

MATT: "Jamie."

ASHLEY: Jamie came to hang out, too.

TALIESIN: I need positive influences.

MATT: "Be back by one."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: He turns around and leaves.

ALLY: Do you have an ascot or something I could borrow?

ASHLEY: We could fashion you one. I run in the kitchen real quick and get one of my mom's napkins.

MATT: Okay. (laughter)

ALLY: It's a table napkin?

(laughter)

TALIESIN: I'm going to pretend this never happened.

ALLY: Your dad's a dick.

ASHLEY: Yeah, he sucks.

ALLY: Wow. Dang. Honestly, your dad should be in those meetings with us.

ASHLEY: Fucking tell me about it.

ALLY: Okay, so should I use one of these wooden circle things to hold it on?

ASHLEY: Make it like a--

ALLY: It's so cool it came with one of these, it's like meant to be worn.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I think it's pretty cool. It's like a weird new look. Weird, but I'm fucking into it, dude.

ALLY: Okay, cool. Well, as long as I look good.

ASHLEY: Okay, well hop in the car.

MATT: Okay, you head back. Amanda's there waiting excitedly as you turn the corner.

ALLY: You shut me down on accident? I was just like... (laughter)

MATT: Like the puppy that's been waiting in the car for its owner, Amanda's like--

ALLY: Oh, I should have cracked the windows.

(laughter)

MATT: You all cluster into the truck. There's that little gap in the back between the front seat and the back seat where more people can sit. As you all begin to approach, Amanda goes, "I can sit in the back. Cameron, do you want to sit back here with me?"

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, okay.

MATT: And immediate like, looks right to you and is like...

TALIESIN: Good luck hanging onto that bridle. And I'm going to pop in front. (laughter) (car starting)

ASHLEY: I sit as close to the window as I can.

MATT: Fair enough, yeah. It's one of those like, it's hard to turn. It's like (creaking), it just cricks outward a little bit to leave a little gap. It's a little triangle window on the side.

ASHLEY: I can't like... (laughter)

TALIESIN: Flashbacks.

MATT: Oh yeah.

ALLY: I'm taking really hard turns. to push you guys together.

(laughter)

MATT: Perfect. All righty. You guys take off and head out, and you glance out the window, and there you can see, up in your parents or in the silhouette of your mother, just watching as the car drives away.

ASHLEY: (groans)

MATT: You guys on the road, your posse sitting together. Jamie, there's a little bit of silence as you're past the Gas Co. gas station and head off into the main highway, and then Jamie turns. (as Jesse) "So what do you think about the pictures, huh?"

ERIKA: He's having fun. That's nice. Everybody deserves to have a little fun.

MATT: "Okay. Taking this strangely well, I'm not going to lie."

ERIKA: Yeah. It's... fine. Everything's...fine.

MATT: "Gotcha."

ERIKA: Mom and Dad don't know, though, so, you know, maybe keep it under your hat?

MATT: "You see Cori leans over and goes, Don't worry, we got you. Like, we're fine."

ERIKA: I know you got me.

MATT: "Also," and Cori leans back over from the back seat. Let me handle the post next time? That was like, really immature, I'm not going to lie. Fucking amateur hour."

ERIKA: Fine, everything's fine. Just flew off the handle a little bit there, is all.

MATT: "I feel you." (texting) Eventually, you all, at different times, the two vehicles begin to convene towards the turnoff, which is just a single sign on a dirt road that curves for about 10 miles off of the main highway. There is a fence that is normally locked, but you can see the chain has been brought loose and there are recent tire grooves leading through. So you have to step out and move it aside. There, as you pull through, you can see the darkened shape of the old Gas Co. refinery. It is dark, the shape silhouetted against the clear sky. It's very bright out right now. The moon is not quite full, but it's, you know, starting to, next day or two, it'll probably hit there. And you can see there are a number of cars just parked off to the outside. You get there first, Sasha, and as you step outside of the car, and you can immediately hear like the (pulsating) beat kicking up in the distance, and you can see a lot of, you know, maybe 10 or 11 people outside smoking, chatting. They all look like they're all dressed in very, very chic, dance EDM attire, probably from the main city. They don't pay any mind as you all step out of Jesse's nice car. You fit in nice and well.

ERIKA: Step out of the car and do the slow-mo, all four walking into the venue.

MATT: You can see three people out there smoking kind of-- Who do the slow-mo like exhale as they all catch themselves, caught in the tractor beam that is the Hive.

ERIKA: I do, as always, a scan. Anybody of note? Anybody interesting?

MATT: At this moment? No, but you do see there was a bouncer at the front door. There is a like, six-foot-four, gangly-looking pale dude who has like a long coat on and he's just sitting there looking around, like he's keeping an eye, both on who's present and the horizon.

ERIKA: Okay. Is he checking IDs?

MATT: You go and approach?

ERIKA: Yeah.

MATT: He looks at all of you and goes-- and just lets you in.

ERIKA: Okay. Thank you.

MATT: You guys approach shortly thereafter, less quite as put together with arrival. (laughter) The doors open. You step outside, I think Abby like trips a bit and falls a little bit and then gets back up as you all exit and see this same perspective. You can hear the music, there's that creeping excitement, but also not quite sure what you're going to find, especially those of you that haven't been involved in much of the party scene, let alone in this area. As you begin to step closer towards it, people are looking over and just taking note of the, well, namely you and the ascot.

ALLY: I think I made a great choice.

ASHLEY: I think you did, too. I lean over, like fix it.

ALLY: Thank you.

ASHLEY: You got little smushed.

ALLY: Thanks.

ASHLEY: There you go.

ALLY: It's cool that it has pumpkins on it.

ASHLEY: Yeah. It's-- Yeah, it's kind of like--

ALLY: Different, various gourds. I think that that's a pretty cool touch. I don't know if I told you all this, but I actually have never kissed anyone before, so seems like maybe this is my night.

TALIESIN: Oh boy.

ALLY: You know what I mean?

MATT: (as Amanda) "Me neither."

ALLY: That's what we have in common. Yeah.

ASHLEY: Wait, you haven't kissed anyone before?

ALLY: No, I mean just like in my adult life. Of course, as kids, when it doesn't mean anything.

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, it doesn't mean anything when you're like a kid.

ALLY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I mean, it means something. I mean, on a technical level, it means something.

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I think so, too. Because it still like sticks with you sometimes.

TALIESIN: It does, it absolutely can.

ALLY: Yeah. (coughing)

ASHLEY: I'm going to get a drink. I'm going to get a drink.

ALLY: I'm going to go and get a drink. I'm going to have a drink for the first time.

TALIESIN: Are we even through the front door yet?

MATT: No, you're not yet inside.

TALIESIN: Okay. Hold up.

MATT: As you head towards the front, the bouncer like stands there. "IDs."

ALLY: Oh, definitely.

TALIESIN: I pull out my fake ID, and I'm going to: We're on Suzie's list and we really need to be in here right now. Didn't have time to change.

MATT: "All right." He steps aside, and looks very intently at you and Amanda as you guys walk past.

ALLY: "What?"

MATT: The "what" squeaks out. Less of a proclamation and more of a more of a creaky door hinge.

ALLY: What!

(laughter)

MATT: But you make your way into the interior of the rave. Immediately, the lights and the sounds--

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

MATT: And the beat. This is unlike any energy you've experienced, definitely, in your time, but it is an entire warehouse filled with people of all ages, beyond your ages. Adults in their 20s and up, all dressed in the middle of these throes of expression and letting themselves go. Maybe close to 100 people in this room, which isn't huge for such an event, but it's a small space, just makes it feel massive. There are lights and lasers, there is a large DJ table set up over one of the platforms where you can see they have one of the light arrangements there that's just splattering light and beams of green and red and purple all across the chamber. The air itself is musky and muggy. The sweat and the heat of the interior giving this human sauna type feel. It's uncomfortable, but it's also in like anything you're expecting to run into on a Tuesday night. And that's, we're going to go ahead and take our break.

ALL: Whoa!

(laughter)

MATT: The crescendo's happened. We're going to go ahead and take a quick break here for a second, kick in for the next part of this narrative, and see what sort of fun chaos shall ensue as all the pieces are coming together. So yeah, we'll be back in just a little bit. See you guys shortly.

Break[]

(indie rock music)

Part II[]

MATT: And welcome back. So last we left off. You had all made yourself into the interior, the pop-up desert rave outside of the town of Cinderbrush Hills. (laughter) Inside the chamber, it's bodies moving, music thumping. Up on the stage, you can see, for those of you who would recognize it, would probably be you two, maybe you. DJ Dark Star, who is actually a fairly decently-known local celebrity is up there, is in the process of spinning. It's exciting, it is intense, and also, you don't recognize most anybody here as you begin to walk through the floor. A lot of older folks, and everyone is on some sort of wavelength, a little separate from yours. A little ways in your group, as you're like, taking in the atmosphere around you. Amanda just grabs your hand a little bit. It's like, "This is crazy."

ALLY: This is crazy, yeah. Definitely. How do you feel?

MATT: "Really stiff."

ALLY: Yeah, definitely, same. Have you ever drank alcohol before?

MATT: "No."

ALLY: Me neither. Maybe we should have a big vodka.

MATT: "Sure. Did you bring a vodka?"

ALLY: No, I didn't bring a vodka. Shit. I mean, they got to have stuff here, right? Let's when-in-Rome it.

MATT: "When-in-Rome it."

ALLY: Yeah.

MATT: "Okay."

ALLY: Hey. You know what, I bet Cameron-- Cameron.

ASHLEY: Yeah, what's up?

ALLY: Hey, we were probably just going to go head off and get a big vodka. But we're wondering where we should do that.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I mean there's a couple different places. We have alcohol, I mean--

ALLY: You do?

ASHLEY: Yeah, I mean, they probably supply that here, I would imagine.

MATT: You're the only person that would know what they supply here, and they do not supply alcohol.

TALIESIN: There is sadly no alcohol at this event, save what you chose to bring.

ALLY: Oh. Shit.

TALIESIN: On the other hand, everything else is available.

ALLY: Oh, like Cotton Candy Faygo, Coca-Cola.

TALIESIN: Sure.

ALLY: Cheetos.

MATT: "I brought candy." She pulls out like a handful of lollipops.

ALLY: Awesome, I'll take one.

MATT: Junior Mints.

ALLY: Well, maybe I'll just get a sugar high, then. I'm sure that'll be enough.

TALIESIN: Oh god, I'm already feeling guilty about this. Yeah. You know everything I have.

ASHLEY: Did you bring anything?

TALIESIN: I brought everything.

ALLY: Oh, what do you have? Pez?

ASHLEY: Yes.

ALLY: Werther's?

ASHLEY: Some very good.

TALIESIN: Sure.

ASHLEY: Werther's Originals or Rolos, and--

TALIESIN: I have to work tonight, so I'm being very, very basic with just a little bit of a moon rock candy flip with a little bit of LSD, just to mark the whole thing down. So I'm flying, but I can keep my cool and keep counting and get all my math done right, so I know who's paid and what, but I'm a little out of it.

ASHLEY: What else--

TALIESIN: Everything's a little interesting.

ASHLEY: What else you got?

TALIESIN: Standard array. I've got a little bit of pot, a little bit of acid, a little bit of mushrooms, a little bit of--

MATT: You catch out of the corner of your eye, across the dance floor. The Hive has taken note of your arrival.

TALIESIN: And a little bit less of everything. Excuse me, all. And I'm going to just dive right over there really quickly.

ALLY: Which of those things is closest to a big vodka?

(laughter)

TALIESIN: I feel so bad right now.

ASHLEY: That's a good question, because it just depends on your body chemistry.

ALLY: Okay.

ASHLEY: You know what I mean? Have you ever had anything outside of-- have you ever had alcohol?

MATT: "Totally, all the time."

ALLY: 100% true.

ASHLEY: Really? Because you strike me as someone who has never had it, but you can use surprise me continually.

MATT: "No, my dad keeps the... scotch?"

ASHLEY: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

MATT: "In the cabinet."

ASHLEY: The stuff that tastes like an old man. Yeah, yeah.

ALLY: "It does taste like an old man."

ASHLEY: Yeah, I'm not really into that yet. Maybe when I get older.

ALLY: Yeah, maybe. Okay, look, technically I haven't drank or done any drugs before, but yeah, I'm just trying to loosen up and have a good time at this party.

ASHLEY: Okay. I think Jamie can steer you in the right direction.

ALLY: Okay, cool.

ASHLEY: I don't want to be the bad guy here and sort of make that decision for you on that journey.

ALLY: Okay.

ASHLEY: Amanda, I feel like you as well.

MATT: "I trust you."

ALLY: Yeah.

ASHLEY: I don't know if you should. (chuckling)

ALLY: Okay, I pull you to the side. So okay, yeah, I was saying I haven't been kissed before and then you said you do-- do you count?

ASHLEY: I mean, I guess that's up to you.

ALLY: That's a crazy memory, right?

ASHLEY: Yeah, it's totally crazy. Like, it was weird because, you know, the canoe or whatever. I feel like--

ALLY: I haven't thought about that every day in forever.

ASHLEY: You haven't thought about it?

ALLY: What? I have not thought about that every day.

ASHLEY: You have not thought about it every day. I think about it like, just like being fully open and honest. I think about it a lot, maybe just because it was like, weird circumstances under, I mean, I've never made out with anybody under a canoe before or since then.

MATT: "Holy shit!"

ASHLEY: Oh no!

MATT: You look and you see Tyler Thorne, the class DJ, who has one foot out the school since the day he got here, who sits at the front left of the classroom, goes like, "I had no idea you guys were going to make it. This is crazy. Hi, I'm Tyler, I don't think we've met."

ALLY: Hey, what's up? I'm an Af.

MATT: "Hey, Af, nice, nice to meet you."

ALLY: Nice to meet you, too.

MATT: "Amanda?! What?" And she's like, "I know, crazy, right?" He's like, "Yeah, okay." "Um. Dude, you're hanging--?"

ASHLEY: What?

MATT: "Anyway, it's all good. Have a good time."

ASHLEY: Yeah. A bunch of us came together.

MATT: "Yeah, cool, no worries. I'm going to go talk to Jamie."

ASHLEY: Yeah, okay, I'll find you later.

MATT: Heads off that way. Amanda's like right there. "Do we dance now? Is that how this works?"

ALLY: I guess so.

ASHLEY: Yeah, we can go dance.

ALLY: Oh, that's a cool move.

MATT: "Is it?"

ALLY: Yeah, definitely. Yeah.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: We transition over to, as Jamie approaches, pushing through the bodies that are thrumming.

ERIKA: Ah, the witch doctor.

TALIESIN: Have everything you asked for, and a little something extra.

ERIKA: Oh! Pay the man, Jesse.

TALIESIN: I also have a favor to ask.

ERIKA: A favor. Intriguing.

TALIESIN: Evan became a bit of a problem earlier today.

ERIKA: Ah, interesting. Poking his nose where he doesn't belong.

TALIESIN: He... found me in my special place. I would just like to make sure that if he is stupid enough to start telling people where I'm doing business, that that gets shut down really quickly.

ERIKA: We'll take care of it.

TALIESIN: Oh.

ERIKA: What front?

TALIESIN: I want a "you'll" take care of it, not a "we'll."

ERIKA: Me? Darling, you know I don't get my hands dirty.

TALIESIN: I don't talk to them, you know the rules.

ERIKA: (sighs) What do you want?

TALIESIN: (sighs)

ERIKA: I'm sure you already have something of his that could do you fine.

TALIESIN: I burned what I had.

ERIKA: What would I have to do?

TALIESIN: I don't want something of his, I want some dirt.

ERIKA: Okay.

TALIESIN: Anything you dig up.

ERIKA: All right. In turn, what dirt do you have?

TALIESIN: For you? Honestly, not a lot right now.

ERIKA: I know you've been talking with Cameron. Come on, Jamie. For old time's sake?

TALIESIN: You're burning it?

MATT: So you're burning a--

ERIKA: And I run my finger into his harness and pull up the ring.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

MATT: (laughs) Okay. So you're trying to turn him on?

ERIKA: Oh my god.

ASHLEY: Oh, that works.

ERIKA: 13, 14? 14. Something like that.

MATT: How do you react to this? How does this go down within the interior of Jamie's conflicted self?

TALIESIN: I grab her hair, go over to her ear. He's got a history with the new kid.

ERIKA: What kind of history? Be specific.

TALIESIN: Something about a canoe.

ERIKA: (laughs) (gasps) Canoe kiss person.

TALIESIN: Yeah. That's apparently this. And...

ERIKA: (laughs)

TALIESIN: I think everyone's going to get a little fucked up tonight, so just be gentle.

ERIKA: Ooh.

TALIESIN: I don't think they've ever been fucked up before.

ERIKA: Hmm. Really.

TALIESIN: It's the vibe I get.

ERIKA: Well, they got to start living a little.

TALIESIN: Didn't hear that shit from me.

ERIKA: Never.

MATT: Right as you hear that, you glance over Jamie's shoulder and see entering through the front door Aimee Reyes, who has stepped through, purse in the shoulder, looking around--

ASHLEY: Fuck, I forgot I invited her.

(laughter)

MATT: And just in glancing through the crowd looking for someone.

TALIESIN: Oh shit.

ERIKA: Aimee Reyes.

TALIESIN: Tonight's going to get complicated.

ERIKA: When is it ever simple?

TALIESIN: Keep that shit to yourself, and keep your fucking flunkies away from the new kids.

ERIKA: No promises.

TALIESIN: Ah, I think the drugs are kicking in. Okay, I'm going to--

ERIKA: I distribute the goodies amongst everybody. I keep a couple of tabs for myself.

MATT: Okay.

ERIKA: I'm not taking anything.

MATT: Okay.

ERIKA: But I have them handy.

MATT: All righty. Give a turn to the rest of the crew here, who are awaiting your, (chuckles), your guidance on how the evening should go.

TALIESIN: Okay.

ALLY: I'll take nine ecstasies.

ASHLEY: That's probably just the right amount.

MATT: (as Amanda) "That seems excessive."

TALIESIN: And expensive.

ALLY: I actually have a ton of money right now. I have over $200. So I'll buy mine and Amanda's. And if he wants some, too.

ASHLEY: You don't have to buy mine, I can pay for it.

ALLY: No, you're really special to me. I'll buy you something.

ASHLEY: Okay.

(laughs)

TALIESIN: Cam's got an accountant. All right, let's do this the old-fashioned way. Let's pick a seven dwarf.

ALLY: Oh.

TALIESIN: You want to be Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Dopey, Sneezey, Bashful, or Doc?

ALLY: I want to be Doc.

TALIESIN: A little bit of LSD it is.

(laughter)

ALLY: All right. I guess I'll eat this stamp.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Bless you that you think I have blotter. Okay. (laughter) This is the '90s, it'd be black gel caps. Whoa, too much information. All right, just a gentle... Wow, I know too much about drugs. Yeah, there we go.

(laughs)

ALLY: I'll do some of that, too.

TALIESIN: Fair.

ALLY: Okay.

TALIESIN: You can split it.

ALLY: All right. (laughing)

TALIESIN: I'm going to give a little bit of the concoction I was taking, yeah.

ALLY: Cool.

TALIESIN: Keep with a buddy. Check in if you need anything. If you start to freak out, you can ask any questions you want, unless you see me talking to somebody else, then don't fucking bother. Cool.

ALLY: Fair, fair, harsh, but fair.

MATT: "Wow."

ALLY: This sounds crazy. This is great.

MATT: While this is happening, Aimee is looking through the crowd. Do you interfere, or do you just watch what happens?

ERIKA: Aimee.

MATT: Okay, so you do, all right. (laughter) "Oh, hi Sasha."

ERIKA: Hey. Welcome to the club.

MATT: "Thank you."

ERIKA: It's not your usual scene.

MATT: "No."

ERIKA: It's nice to see you branching out.

MATT: "Thanks. Yeah, I was invited by a friend."

ERIKA: Oh, that's nice.

MATT: "Is this your scene normally?"

ERIKA: Well, you know, I have to know what's happening. All of the coolest things in Cinderbrush.

MATT: "You're certainly dressed for the occasion."

ERIKA: Oh, thanks, you like it? I do a little spin.

MATT: "It's cute, yeah. I couldn't never wear anything like that."

ERIKA: Oh, that's nonsense, look at you. And I sort of run my hands over her hips.

(laughter)

ERIKA: This is meant--

ASHLEY: I see this happening.

ERIKA: -- to be in something skin-tight.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

MATT: Are you rolling to turn her on?

ERIKA: Sure.

MATT: Go for it. Because that sounds like what you're doing.

ERIKA: Ooh.

TALIESIN: With your bonuses?

ERIKA: Seven.

MATT: Seven, that is a success, but complicated.

ERIKA: Yeah.

MATT: So you do this, and Aimee stiffens, and yet also gives into the bit. So as part of this... They get... No, actually. Strangely, is giving into your touch a bit, and is like, you can see a look of confusion and surprise in her face a bit.

ERIKA: Hey, is this okay?

MATT: "Yeah, I just, I didn't..."

ALLY: Hot and concerned with consent? Jesus Christ.

(laughter)

MATT: The complication is that you definitely see this from across the room.

ASHLEY: Yep.

ERIKA: It's okay. Like, you're new to this scene. Let me give you a little party favor to get you a little more comfortable. Yeah?

MATT: "What exactly?"

ERIKA: Just a little something to loosen you up. It'll be okay. I promise.

MATT: She now glances over and sees Cameron, and you guys make eye contact. Do you do anything? You just kind of--

ASHLEY: I just wave and nod, and continue dancing a little bit.

MATT: "Sure," puts her hand out.

ERIKA: I slip her a tab.

MATT: She takes it and then immediately beelines over towards Cameron.

ERIKA: (chuckles)

MATT: "Hey."

ASHLEY: Hey.

MATT: "Your ex--"

ASHLEY: I'm really glad you came.

MATT: "-- is really aggressive."

ASHLEY: Yeah, she is. It's hard to not give in to that a little bit sometimes. I feel so weird. (laughing)

MATT: "Hi guys."

ALLY: Hello.

MATT: "Hi." Aimee. I don't think we've met.

ALLY: We haven't. Maybe it'll stay that way. (laughter) And I like jellyfish away.

MATT: Just vanishing into the crowd.

TALIESIN: Oh my god, my new favorite person.

ALLY: In my mind I'm like, "That was a success, yeah. Mysterious." You jellyfish away, and then behind you, in a trail, you see Amanda, who is just rubbing your hair from behind. (laughter) "Amanda. Wow, I wouldn't have, Amanda. Amanda and the new kid. Okay."

ASHLEY: Yeah. Yeah, I don't know. I think they're, yeah, they're just hanging out a lot, I guess. Yeah. I'm really glad you came to the party.

MATT: "Thanks for inviting me."

ASHLEY: Yeah. You good? You need anything?

MATT: "Yeah, I'm good."

ASHLEY: Yeah?

MATT: "Do you want to want to dance for a bit? Since that's what we came for."

ASHLEY: I look over at Sasha. What's she doing?

MATT: Sasha, what are you doing?

ERIKA: So right now I'm just watching Cameron. Can see me--

MATT: Locked, tractor beam eyes from across the room.

ASHLEY: Yeah, let's go dance over here. I try to find a spot where we're not as visible.

MATT: Okay. Okay.

ERIKA: I give a little wave. And then make a beeline over towards the jellyfishing Af. Me, and Cori, and Lexi follow me.

MATT: All right. Jamie maintains, watching you as you progress over to keep an eye on Cameron.

ERIKA: Af.

ALLY: Hey.

ERIKA: Hey. You made it.

ALLY: Yeah.

ERIKA: It's awesome to see. Are you wearing an ascot?

ALLY: Oh my gosh. You noticed.

ERIKA: I did.

ALLY: Do you like it?

ERIKA: I love it.

ALLY: Yeah. It's, yeah, it has multiple gourds on it.

ERIKA: Very festive.

ALLY: Thanks. Yeah, I mean, you know, Halloween and November, just around the corner, so.

ERIKA: Yeah.

ALLY: You look so hot, I feel like I'm melting. If I'm being completely honest.

MATT: (as Amanda) "Your hair's melting." As horse girl Amanda is just like running her fingers through the back of your head.

ALLY: Oh, Amanda, thank you. That is so, you know what? Do you want to get us some water, if there is any?

MATT: "Yeah, oh god, water sounds--"

ALLY: Doesn't it?

MATT: "I am so thirsty right now."

ALLY: I feel like maybe I've never drank water in my life.

MATT: "Yeah. I'm going to go. Do you know where water is, Sasha? I've never talked to you."

ERIKA: I think it's somewhere in the back. Really?

MATT: "Oh my god, I'm talking to Sasha Murasaki."

ERIKA: And I turn completely towards Amanda, and I take her head in my hands and I'm like: I'm so sorry, darling. We really should remedy that. It's so good to finally talk to you. You look like you're having the time of your life.

MATT: "Yeah."

ERIKA: Go get us some waters, sweetheart.

MATT: "Okay."

ERIKA: It's around near the back of the club.

MATT: "Okay." She wanders off.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

(laughter)

ALLY: Bye!

ERIKA: So Af.

ALLY: Yeah?

ERIKA: I start running my finger down the ascot.

(laughter)

ALLY: You seem to like.

ERIKA: I like start toying with the wooden ring.

ALLY: It's got its own ring, it holds it in place.

ERIKA: That's super good.

ALLY: Yeah.

ERIKA: That's very clever.

ALLY: Yeah. Can you tell that it's a napkin?

ERIKA: Do you want me to tell it's a napkin?

ALLY: I'd prefer you don't.

ERIKA: Then no.

ALLY: Great.

ERIKA: It was never a napkin.

ALLY: Oh my god, yeah. This was made to be worn by a human.

ERIKA: Yeah. So earlier I asked you what makes you happy.

ALLY: Uh-huh.

ERIKA: And you really hesitated there.

ALLY: Uh-huh.

ERIKA: I think what makes you happy is people accepting you. You don't know who you are yet, but you need somebody to figure out who you are for you.

ALLY: (gasps)

ERIKA: I'm going to yank a little bit.

ALLY: Oh! I don't--

ERIKA: On the ascot.

ALLY: That really resonates, actually. You know, I was reading on Tumblr, there were a lot of different identities in there, a few that I'm toying with, and it's à la carte these days, you know, it's not so binary.

ERIKA: No, it's all a sliding scale.

ALLY: Your breath smells really good: it's like minty and sweet. (laughter) It's like a sugar mint.

MATT: I take it you're attempting to turn them on?

ERIKA: Yeah, and the Hive is there with me.

MATT: Yeah.

ERIKA: So there's that.

MATT: In fact, as this is happening, you are flanked by Cori and Lexi, who are also just like, running their fingers along your shoulder.

ALLY: Okay.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

TALIESIN: Too real.

ERIKA: Oh, god. Six.

TALIESIN: Plus?

ASHLEY: Don't you have any strings on them?

TALIESIN: You do.

ALLY: You do have a string.

TALIESIN: And you technically speaking have your--

ERIKA: Oh wait, I get, I get plus, hmm.

ASHLEY: Oh, I forgot about that.

ERIKA: Plus seven. No, it's seven, it's seven, because I am plus two for that.

TALIESIN: You also have your-- this counts as your posse too, right?

ERIKA: Yes, it does. Yeah, so that's--

ALLY: So that's plus three.

ERIKA: Three. Yeah.

MATT: That's an eight. That is a success, so--

ERIKA: Yeah, so seven, so I made seven.

MATT: So you may choose. Do you want to string on Af, or do you want to choose one of their reactions? Or actually, you choose, you choose if you want to give a string to Sasha, or do you want to choose one of the reactions?

ALLY: I think I'd choose the fucking sex reaction. (laughter) I give myself to you.

MATT: Okay!

ALLY: Hi! (laughter) It's so crazy to meet someone who likes fashion. And, you know, like trying to find a deeper knowledge of yourself.

ERIKA: I'm pretty good at knowing what people want. And I tilt Af's chin. (laughter) And I put my mouth on theirs, and just drink.

ALLY: (shouts) (laughter)

MATT: About this moment--

ALLY: Yeah.

MATT: --Amanda comes back with two bottles of water, and goes like, "I think..."

(laughter)

ALLY: I'm in it, I don't even know anyone else is in this warehouse.

MATT: At all. Jamie, what are you doing?

TALIESIN: I was trying to hunt down Tyler, but everything has apparently gone to fuck. (laughter) Have I seen any of this happen?

MATT: You do find Tyler. Tyler, while this is happening, you find Tyler, and what's your intent with Tyler?

TALIESIN: Apparently I was supposed to do a cash drop-off.

MATT: Oh, right, right, yeah.

MATT: So deal goes fine, you end up making a few hundred bucks from him and his connections here. You turn around and find-- both you eyeball Cameron and Aimee Reyes dancing, on this end, and on this end, you immediately see, Af, the new kid, and Sasha in a dynamic battle.

ALLY: "A dynamic battle." (laughter) Round one.

TALIESIN: Ooh, tough call. I'm going to head over to Cam.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: Hey.

TALIESIN: I hate to interrupt whatever the fuck this.

ASHLEY: No no, it's not, it's fine.

TALIESIN: Do we need to deal with this?

ASHLEY: Deal with what?

TALIESIN: And I point out the dynamic battle.

ASHLEY: Oh wow. Deal with it how?

TALIESIN: Okay. And I'm going to head over.

MATT: Okay. Aimee says, "What is going on over there?"

ASHLEY: Maybe I should actually go check. You okay?

MATT: "Yeah, I'm fine."

ASHLEY: Yeah, there's-- I'll find you in a little bit, okay?

MATT: "Okay. I'll be here."

ASHLEY: All right. I follow Jamie.

MATT: All right.

ASHLEY: I just like, I just want to get a little closer to hear what's going on.

MATT: Okay. It's hard to hear with the music. You'd have to get close to hear.

ASHLEY: Okay. Okay, I'll get close.

MATT: Okay. So as you both break away from what seems, especially from your perspective, an endless time of canoe kisses washed from your memory, practically, in one fell swoop.

ALLY: That was crazy.

MATT: And as you cold pull away, the colors brighter, the senses heightened, the grin on Sasha's face as she pulls away, and then you just see Cameron and Jamie approach to the left.

ERIKA: That was great.

ALLY: That was, yeah, it was really nice. Whoa, my napkin's like soaking wet with sweat. That's crazy.

ERIKA: Your ascot, it was never a napkin.

ALLY: Yeah, right, right. (laughs) You're so funny. You're seriously so funny.

TALIESIN: I come up behind Sasha. Can I have a second with you? If you're done with whatever the fuck this is?

ERIKA: You have great timing. Hey, Af.

ALLY: Mm-hmm?

ERIKA: What does your horoscope say about Geminis? And I push Af into Cori and Lexi, and they sort of envelop them.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

ALLY: (stammering) (laughter)

ERIKA: Hi, Jamie. What could you possibly have to ask me right at this moment?

TALIESIN: Can you call that off for a moment? This is about to get very ugly very quickly. I didn't think you would move on whatever the fuck this is quite this quickly.

ERIKA: It's a party. Everyone's entitled to a little fun. What's wrong?

TALIESIN: You trying to start shit tonight?

ERIKA: I don't start shit, Jamie, I end it.

TALIESIN: I'm going to need you to back off this one for right now.

ERIKA: What investment do you have in Af?

TALIESIN: It's personal.

ERIKA: Really?

TALIESIN: And none of your fucking business.

ERIKA: Hmm. Everything's my business, Jamie, you know that.

TALIESIN: I do. And unless you want that business everywhere, I'd recommend backing the fuck off right now.

ERIKA: You're threatening me?

TALIESIN: I'm pulling a string.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: (exhales)

MATT: And what are you doing with that string that you're pulling?

TALIESIN: Shutting down.

MATT: So you're attempting to, so you pull a string, you can tempt them to do what you want.

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

MATT: Give them a condition, or add a plus one to your roll. So you're adding that to help your shutdown?

TALIESIN: Yeah, help my shutdown.

MATT: Go for it, so go ahead and roll cold.

TALIESIN: Three, four. 10.

MATT: 10, all right. So you get to choose one of the below. They can lose a string. If they have no strings on you-- which they do, unfortunately-- they can gain a condition, or you can take one forward.

TALIESIN: (exhales) I'll take one for now.

TALIESIN: So you'll take one forward, plus one to your next roll.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I'll take one forward. I'm not done with this one yet. Just give me a little time.

ERIKA: Fine. We can share.

ALLY: I feel like I'm a sailor. (laughter) Lost at sea.

ERIKA: Anything for my pal, Jamie.

MATT: As you turn around, Sasha, immediately there's Amanda right there with a bottle of water.

ERIKA: Oh, thank you, darling.

MATT: "Of course. Can I touch your hair?"

ERIKA: You washed your hands recently, Amanda?

MATT: "I should go wash my hands."

ERIKA: Yeah, you should probably go wash your hands.

MATT: "Okay." She leaves to wash her hands.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: That's so creepy.

ERIKA: Cameron. Hi.

ASHLEY: Hi, Sasha.

ERIKA: I hand the water to Jamie. What's up? You okay? Thought you were having fun with Aimee.

ASHLEY: Yeah, she's tutoring me.

ERIKA: (laughs) How studious of you.

ASHLEY: Yeah, just trying to get my grades back up, you know?

ERIKA: Let's go talk somewhere.

ASHLEY: Yeah, okay.

MATT: Where do you take him?

ERIKA: Move somewhere.

MATT: Somewhere in the warehouse or outside?

ERIKA: Outside, it's a little quieter.

MATT: Okay. So you exit the rave for a bit.

ASHLEY: You look really nice.

ERIKA: Thanks. I did it for you, you know.

ASHLEY: I remember that--

ERIKA: Get you to notice me. You always liked this one.

ASHLEY: I remember what happened when you wore that dress.

ERIKA: Pretty unforgettable, huh?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ERIKA: Cameron. Don't you miss me?

ASHLEY: (groans) Yeah, of course I do. I'm just trying to figure some stuff out.

ERIKA: We could do it together.

ASHLEY: Yeah, well you've been making me feel weird, because you're telling everybody that you broke up with me. So.

ERIKA: What was I supposed to do?

ASHLEY: I'm letting you have it, because I don't care about the shit that you care about, about being the cool kid in school.

ERIKA: It's not being the cool kid in school, Cameron. It's about power. It's about the ability to escape. We are only as important as our roles here.

ASHLEY: (sighs) Like any of this means anything.

ERIKA: What means something to you then, Cameron? I thought I knew. Was I wrong?

ASHLEY: No. You weren't wrong.

ERIKA: Then what's so important you have to figure out all out on your own?

ASHLEY: I can't tell you. I can't tell you, and... I'm just trying to fucking keep you safe. Fucking goddamn it.

ERIKA: What? Keep me safe?

ASHLEY: I don't, you're not going to understand, so. Oh, fuck, I feel so fucking weird. I'm all like, vah. It's hard to have a try to have a conversation with you right now when everything's like fucking moving. (groans) Do you still have that water Amanda gave you?

ERIKA: No, no, I shoved it onto Jamie. What's happening to you?

ASHLEY: I don't think...

ERIKA: Cameron. And I run my hands up inside the jacket.

ASHLEY: Sasha, please don't.

ERIKA: Come on.

ASHLEY: Please don't, Sasha, fucking please don't.

MATT: Are you going to turn on Cameron, then?

ERIKA: Yeah.

MATT: All right. (laughter) Go ahead and roll.

ERIKA: Pull the string.

ALLY: Ooh.

ERIKA: Yeah. Let's see, so that's three.

MATT: Plus two to that, technically, because you don't get your gang bonus, right?

ERIKA: Yeah, well--

MATT: Oh no, sorry, sorry.

ERIKA: So 10.

MATT: 10, all right. So you gain a string on them, and you choose a reaction to this.

ERIKA: I choose a reaction?

MATT: Correct.

ERIKA: Oh, okay, I burned a string--

MATT: You burned it and you got it back.

ASHLEY: Okay. So because I am a teenage boy, I respond back, I slip my hand underneath her skirt, her dress. Just really slowly, up her thigh, and then I keep going. And just start making out with her outside.

MATT: Okay. All right. How long does this go on for?

ASHLEY: I don't know time in this moment.

(laughter)

MATT: Sasha. You're aware enough to know that just around the corner, though Cameron may not notice, Aimee has come looking for Cameron, and--

ASHLEY: That was an impulsive decision.

MATT: And--

TALIESIN: So proud.

MATT: You can acknowledge or just keep it going.

ERIKA: It's really hot and heavy. But at some point, when I pull up for air, I look over and make eye contact with Aimee.

MATT: (as Aimee) "Have a good night."

ASHLEY: (sighs) Fuck.

ERIKA: Cameron.

ASHLEY: (groans)

MATT: She leaves to her car.

ASHLEY: I let her go.

ERIKA: She didn't mean anything to you. You're just trying to figure your shit out with her. But I get you. I've always gotten you.

ASHLEY: I know. That's why this has been so hard. But listen. Just trust me. I can't do this right now, and I think a lot of shit happened this summer, and I really care about you, and that's why I'm... I don't know how to make you understand this, but... I'm sorry.

ERIKA: My parents have gotten worse. They cut me off, Cameron.

ASHLEY: What do you mean?

ERIKA: Yeah, you know. You're not going to let me in, then I guess that's it. I would've gone anywhere with you, Cameron.

ASHLEY: Maybe we still can. I just need a little time to figure this out.

ERIKA: Well, figure your shit out. Because I don't have that much time. And I pull him in with a long kiss. And I push him away, and I walk back inside.

MATT: Okay. Cameron?

ASHLEY: I just stay out there for a second. I fucking punch the wall, and then I go back inside.

MATT: In the meantime, you could never have imagined the skin soup you found yourself in right now.

(laughter)

ASHLEY: Skin soup? Buh?! (laughter)

MATT: You are being bookended.

ALLY: I'm just a little carrot.

(laughter)

MATT: You're witnessing this. You watch as, after some time, and things have gotten blurry and fuzzy and the lights have gotten bright and your body is tingling, and at points, you just feel like this interconnectivity between the people dancing around you and then an individuality. It's a really wild, some points almost too much, but just a very different experience. And you don't know how long it's been. Don't know how much time has gone by.

TALIESIN: (snapping fingers) I need you out of that.

ALLY: What?

TALIESIN: I need you out.

ALLY: It's all energy.

TALIESIN: Shh, shh.

ALLY: We're all one frequency.

TALIESIN: Oh, for fuck's sake.

ALLY: The butterfly and the president share a frequency.

TALIESIN: Okay, you're just dragging me so down right now.

ALLY: Okay, sorry. What?

TALIESIN: Okay, you need to be fucking careful, because I cannot handle this right now.

ALLY: What?

TALIESIN: Stay the fuck away from Sasha.

ALLY: What? No, she's so beautiful and she liked my outfit.

TALIESIN: Take this from someone who's been here for a very long time. There is some Cam-Sasha thing that you are not fucking prepared for, and she is using you for this shit, and you need to just put a fucking wall up.

ALLY: Okay.

TALIESIN: Put a fucking wall up.

ALLY: Okay. No, yeah, I trust this.

TALIESIN: Because that's just already started some shit, that now I'm going to have to deal with.

ALLY: Okay. So--

TALIESIN: And it was cute at first, but this shit's got to, I can't have this right now.

ALLY: Okay, yeah. (mumbling) What if we, yeah, what if we just did that one more time?

TALIESIN: She's just fucking using you.

ALLY: Okay, yeah, you're right, no, no, you're right.

TALIESIN: Is this what you want to do?

ALLY: I have more pride than that, you're right, thank you.

TALIESIN: You've got enough shit to fucking worry about.

ALLY: You know what, Jamie? I really appreciate this. Thank you for shooting me straight. Do you want to make out?

(laughter)

TALIESIN: I mean, I'm high, but like, you know.

MATT: Are you rolling to turn on?

ALLY: I'm rolling to turn on.

MATT: Go for it.

(laughter)

ALLY: Look, Jamie, look, I like how straight you're shooting me. Oh.

TALIESIN: Oh, for fuck's sake.

(laughter)

ALLY: That's an 11.

MATT: (laughs)

ALLY: Jamie.

MATT: There's something about the glistening sweat and the unexpected confidence, and just the surrounding vibration of light that is a familiar space that--

ALLY: Really appreciate you telling me that.

MATT: So you get a string on Jamie.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

MATT: You get to put a blue up there. How do you react, Jamie?

TALIESIN: I'm going to fight it at first and attempt to keep having a conversation through making out for like 10 seconds before I just fucking give up.

ALLY: Totally, you're right, yeah.

TALIESIN: No, no, mm.

ALLY: You know, totally, yeah.

TALIESIN: (sighs) Yeah, just--

ALLY: You're the butterfly, I'm the president.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Shit. I've lost my train of thought, utterly.

MATT: As you join the party, time stretches.

ALLY: That is an insane thing to walk in on.

MATT: The tension there. You jump in with the rest of your crew. You push off a few harassers and hold your space dominantly. You lament the events of the evening and the fact that you can't leave because your ride is currently making out with the drug dealer. But it takes a while before you have a moment of clarity and realize you haven't seen Amanda in a while.

ALLY: Oh yeah. Has anyone seen Amanda? I guess I go look for Amanda.

MATT: Okay. You look through the crowd. You have to focus a bit and steady yourself moment to moment, but you look around and, after about, I don't know, 10 minutes, three hours, who knows how long? Amanda's not in the room.

ALLY: Anywhere?

MATT: No.

ALLY: Oh no, no, no. Are there any horse stables around here? Do I know?

MATT: No.

ALLY: Okay.

MATT: Actually none. It is an abandoned oil refinery.

ALLY: I go outside to look for Amanda.

MATT: Okay. You push outside, and you guys notice, Af just goes ahead and goes out through the front door. You're still in the midst of your dancing.

TALIESIN: I'm recovering. (laughing)

MATT: You're recovering.

TALIESIN: Fuck, that did not go the way I was expecting that to go.

ASHLEY: I go over and talk to Jamie real quick.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: Wow. So that happened.

TALIESIN: I don't know what the fuck is happening to me tonight.

ASHLEY: It's fine, you're high.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

ASHLEY: Where'd they go?

TALIESIN: Fuck. Shit, they're our ride, okay.

TALIESIN: (sighs)

ASHLEY: You okay?

TALIESIN: No?

ASHLEY: You want to make out? I'm just kidding.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Don't fuck with me. Pretty people don't get to fuck around like that. That's not funny. That's not funny. I smack--

ASHLEY: All pretty people get to do is fuck around with people like that.

TALIESIN: Jesus Christ, let's go find our people.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: Okay.

ERIKA: Something's happening. I'm going to keep an eye on this.

MATT: Okay. You watch as they both exit after their conversation.

ERIKA: Yeah, I think I might actually go along.

MATT: Do you join them or just trail behind?

ERIKA: I'll trail behind.

MATT: Okay. In this time, you, Af, you've stepped outside and looked around a bit. There's no sign in the immediate vicinity of Amanda. People are smoking. There's one person outside who's having a rough night and is just rocking back and forth, they have a friend who's rubbing their back. There's somebody else who's like mostly passed out against the outside of the warehouse. A few of the cars are starting to get up and leave. You have no idea what time it is.

I talk to one of these people and I'm like: Hey, have you seen, like, a horse girl?

MATT: "Horse girl... What, like, yeah."

ALLY: Yeah yeah yeah, braid, long braid.

MATT: "She was fucked up."

ALLY: Dude, yeah, right? Aren't we all? Where is she?

MATT: "Yeah, no, there was this-- she went off with this person, like that way, like, I don't know, half an hour ago."

ALLY: Half an hour ago? Jesus. Okay, I take out my phone and I try to call her.

MATT: Okay. "Hi, this is Amanda. I can't open my phone right now. Please leave a message, bye."

ALLY: I call it again, just in case it's on Do Not Disturb and I can push through.

MATT: Same message.

ALLY: Fuck.

ASHLEY: I think we probably come outside.

MATT: At this point, you guys would come out.

ALLY: So Amanda's gone, I guess she left with someone like a half hour ago, but we don't know who.

ASHLEY: Left this place?

ALLY: Yeah.

MATT: He pointed further into the refinery. Like all the cars are parked out in the front.

ALLY: Oh good, good, okay, so she's still here, but she's somewhere outside.

ASHLEY: We should probably go find her.

ALLY: I was thinking that, too.

TALIESIN: All right.

ASHLEY: It's her first. Let's fucking go find her.

TALIESIN: Let's do this shit.

ALLY: Just the three of us.

ASHLEY: Get some fresh air anyway.

MATT: Sasha catches up at this point.

ERIKA: I come up. What's the matter? I look very concerned.

ASHLEY: Amanda's...

ALLY: My good friend is gone.

ERIKA: Amanda.

ALLY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Horse girl.

ERIKA: Horse girl. Okay. You know, in my phone, I text out to the group, "Need a location on Amanda."

ALLY: Thank you so much for doing that.

TALIESIN: Beltman.

ERIKA: "Beltman = horse girl."

MATT: Right.

TALIESIN: Horse emoji.

MATT: Horse emoji, girl emoji.

ALLY: We won't tell her about any of this. We'll tell her that we all knew her name.

ASHLEY: What's her last name?

ALLY: Beltman.

ASHLEY: Beltman.

ALLY: Yeah. Is that the first time you're hearing that?

ASHLEY: Yeah, I always thought it was Smith.

ALLY: No, def-- no.

ASHLEY: That's way, so different. Okay, nevermind, let's go.

ASHLEY: You're so connected. That's really cool that you're able to ask about that.

MATT: All right.

TALIESIN: No.

(laughs)

MATT: So how do you guys go about the search? Are you going as a group, are you splitting up to cover more ground?

TALIESIN: I like strength in numbers, personally?

ERIKA: Yeah.

ALLY: Let's do it. Let's go as a four.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: Okay.

ALLY: So we just go out into the mine?

MATT: Well, this area there, there are a number of other buildings that appear to be, there are some derricks off beyond the location, but there are some large tower-like, almost silo cylinders with doors. There are sheds and there's warehouse pieces that are like smaller versions of the major warehouse where the actual rave is taking place.

ALLY: Dang it.

ASHLEY: Are we near the quarry?

MATT: Near the car?

ASHLEY: The quarry?

MATT: Oh no, you guys are way out of town.

ASHLEY: Okay, okay, okay, okay.

MATT: Yeah, you're about 20, 25 miles at this point.

ALLY: Let's just go building to building.

TALIESIN: See if there's some fresh footprints.

ALLY: I start calling: Amanda!

MATT: Okay. No responses. You go from one place, although the doors appear to be locked in different buildings.

ALLY: Amanda!

ERIKA: She couldn't have gone too far.

TALIESIN: No.

ALLY: Amanda!

ASHLEY: How long has it been since you guys noticed she was not around?

ALLY: Someone outside said that she left a half hour ago.

ASHLEY: Fuck. Okay.

ERIKA: Did she drive away?

ALLY: It sounded like she left with someone and they went over this way. Who's--

MATT: There's quite a bit of buildings at this place, so it's going to take you a while to move through the full place. But you move from one small warehouse to the next cylindrical building, the door's locked. The next one you go into, it is unlocked and you open it up, and inside, no light. It is pitch black on the inside and there are stairs that lead up. Because you're all kind of fucked up, you're having a hard time focusing on any sort of fresh tracks.

TALIESIN: Sure.

ERIKA: I'm doing okay.

MATT: Actually, you're doing okay.

ALLY: Can we go get, like, a search party together or something? Or like--

ERIKA: Jamie, isn't there something you can do about this?

TALIESIN: (sighs) Not at the moment. Don't have what I need for that.

MATT: You keep looking?

ERIKA: Yeah. Search the warehouse.

ASHLEY: I can start running up ahead sort of in the vicinity to not check the same door. We're all going--

ALLY: Yeah, we can sort of split up a bit.

TALIESIN: Stay in eye shot, but.

MATT: Okay. Okay, so you guys are covering, okay. All right, so you break up a little, you're still staying in a similar space, you know, where you within earshot at least, but you're checking out different elements there.

ALLY: Before we leave, is Jason at this party?

MATT: Jason Buckner? You did not see Jason Buckner. You did pass by, you saw Tyler. Aimee briefly, though she appears to have left.

ASHLEY: My bad.

MATT: You think at one point you caught sight of Terrence Michaels, the dumb woke jock.

ALLY: Oh, yeah, nice.

MATT: And other than that, the crowd's been chaotic. Those are all the people you saw in passing, but that's it.

ALLY: Okay, I would like to gaze into the abyss and try to find answers on maybe where she is.

MATT: Okay, it is a nearly full moon, and you just take a moment to let that instinct take over, and your senses begin to grow. Go ahead and roll dark.

ALLY: Okay. I was going to say my dark is not good. Oh, that's really bad.

TALIESIN: Woof.

ALLY: It's a two.

MATT: Two. Your senses, as you (sniffs), sniff the air, are so radically altered by what substances wash through your system at the moment, that you pick up the scent of everything within like a mile vicinity. It is overwhelming, and unfortunately in this instance, not very helpful.

ALLY: Fuck.

TALIESIN: You do get an experience point for that.

ALLY: Oh yeah, thanks. Okay.

ASHLEY: If I can sort of get into an area that's away from everybody, like, maybe around the corner, one of the buildings.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: I would like to gaze into the abyss as well, but just sort of whisper to Anukirai.

MATT: Okay. Go ahead and roll dark for me.

ASHLEY: Nine. Oh, eight?

MATT: Eight, okay. Eight. And what are you asking?

ASHLEY: Hey, so I don't want to fucking ask you for help.

MATT: (whispering)

ASHLEY: But we're missing one of our friends. So--

MATT: (whispering)

ASHLEY: -- if you could steer me in the right direction, that would be really helpful.

MATT: (whispering) "Yes. Of course."

ASHLEY: Thank you.

MATT: The shadows take your eyes and sight and you reach out to put your hands on the wall to stop yourself from what feels like falling into oblivion, and you see flashes. Darkness. Darkness again. Movement. Candles, candles, candles. Hands, pushing. Black cloth. A blade. And you're back in vision.

ASHLEY: What the fuck does that mean?

MATT: And right as your eyes open, there you see Sasha, standing there looking at, you watched as he stood there, and you went to go check on him, and this like, greenish smoke was just pouring out of his eyes for a few seconds, and you were about to scream until it vanished.

ASHLEY: Hey.

ERIKA: (whispers) Cameron.

ASHLEY: How long were you standing there? Are you okay?

ERIKA: What the hell is going on, Cameron?

ASHLEY: Anything happen to you? Are you okay?

ERIKA: No, no. Well, what is happening to you?

ASHLEY: I don't know. I don't know, I don't know. I just, I asked for help, and--

ERIKA: From who?

MATT: You guys hear the raise voices and--

ALLY: Yeah. Did you find her?

TALIESIN: What's up?

ASHLEY: No, I just, I had visions of maybe-- I asked where she was, and I saw visions of candles and darkness and a blade, and... Wait. Where the candles were, did that look familiar to me at all?

MATT: No.

ALLY: What?

ASHLEY: I promise I'll talk to you about this. I just...

MATT: You did feel something near. She's not far.

ASHLEY: I feel like we should keep searching.

ALLY: Let's do it. Okay, I fucking rage out. I'm getting... Can I like start to like werewolf out, but not attack anyone here? Just like start attacking the ground?

MATT: I could say you can begin to give in a little bit to your lupine self to just like--

ALLY: Just like (shouting).

MATT: You watch as Af just angrily starts like slamming the ground, like, and in a way that's unexpected, like a tantrum, but also weirdly brutal. And with each impact into the dirt and dust, you swear for a second, like the limbs tend to elongate a bit. You don't see too much of anything beyond that until you find that intensity and then rush off, and for a quick second, you swear you see like a shine in Af's eyes.

ALLY: Let's go. And I bolt off alone.

ASHLEY: Well, that was unexpected. Maybe we all have a little bit more---

TALIESIN: Okay.

ASHLEY: We've all got some secrets. Let's go.

(laughter)

ASHLEY: I reach out and I just put my hand on her shoulder, and then I just keep walking forward.

MATT: Okay. You guys are--

TALIESIN: Oh, full speed.

MATT: Full speed. All right, you cannot catch up to Af. They have a very quickened gait, and then uniquely, as they're running and sprinting, they begin to fall into an all-four animalistic run. And just the little bit of moonlight that's pushing through the open space in this refinery, it's a surreal visual, but not as important as finding where Amanda is. You rush around the corner, head into this one area where you can see all these hallways, and you see a faint yellow glow, a little crack of light between doors.

ALLY: I go, I go straight there.

MATT: You (crash) and rush in. As you go inside, immediately you can see the room itself is filled with dozens and dozens of lit candles, wax melting freshly. You glance around, and across the room, in the center there is a table set with four figures standing, black robes and these odd golden masks. Whoops.

ASHLEY: Just like a projector.

MATT: Just like a projector. Is it not working right now, of course, which is how these things work.

ASHLEY: Is it plugged in?

MATT: I thought it was, but... Easily enough. (chuckles) That's all right.

ALLY: That is exactly like a projector.

MATT: That is exactly like a projector. Super, super accurate.

ERIKA: I guess we can just watch a movie today, then.

ASHLEY: Yeah. (chuckles) This'll never make it in.

MATT: That's okay.

TALIESIN: National Geographic.

MATT: These are the masks you see being worn by them.

TALIESIN: Oh no.

MATT: As they all stand around silently, quietly muttering beneath their breaths in unison. As soon as the door, you push, open slams in, they all at once look up right towards you. You can see one of them is clutching like a big silver ring on a finger, holding this long, hooked blade that itself is dripping with crimson. And on the table you see sprawled out between them, recognizing the jeans and brown boots, Amanda.

ALLY: I attack the one that has the weapon.

MATT: The weapon.

ALLY: Yeah.

MATT: Okay, you suddenly lunge forward across the room, growling, giving into that. Do you-- you're not fully into, but you're just lashing out. You rush in and go for the one clutching the blade. Go ahead and, if you want to lash out physically, make a roll.

ALLY: (whistles) Oh! (laughs) Double ones.

MATT: (inhales sharply)

ALLY: Aww, fuck, so that's--

MATT: You get an experience point.

ALLY: --four.

MATT: A four. You dart forward, and the one that's holding the dagger actually lifts it upward in your direction, and in that instance, your... animalistic survival instinct kicks in, and instead you roll out of the way, slamming into the table, causing it to crack. The legs fall the body, hitting the ground, softening your blow as you roll out and land on the dust next to them, at which point all of them spin around. Another one looks at the others and makes a loud whistling sound, and they go and grab the body.

ALLY: Is she alive?

MATT: You don't know.

ALLY: Okay.

MATT: The one that has the dagger is going to attempt to strike out at you with the blade, now that you are off balance.

ASHLEY: I start running forward.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: Okay, okay. Do you wish to attempt to... Let's see here. I'll say for this, go ahead and roll another volatile check, to see if you can manage to--

ALLY: Great. Oh Jesus, we're really not rolling well. That's only a five.

MATT: Five.

ALLY: God damn, I'm racking up my experience.

MATT: The blade digs into your torso, and the pain breaks through the sense of fear and the altered substances that are, been battling for control over your experience. You take two harm.

ALLY and TALIESIN: (groan)

ALLY: (shouts)

MATT: You guys are hearing something, but you could not possibly keep up with this. So you're just now trying to chase as fast as you can. The figure that whistled and sent the others to go raises a hand towards you. Do you want to try and keep your cool?

ALLY: Yeah. I will try to keep my cool.

MATT: Okay. Go ahead and roll cold.

ALLY: Come on. Hey, there we go. Oh no, but I have minus one. So that's a seven, but it's still a success.

MATT: Okay. So you manage to maintain your composure here. You gather at this moment that whatever it is that's looking at you still feels confidently in control of the situation, and is in the process of doing something you don't understand. If you were to continue this aggressive action against this entity, you have no idea how this would go.

ALLY: Jesus Christ. Fuck, I attack once more.

MATT: Okay.

ALLY: I attack once more.

MATT: Go for it, so make another--

ERIKA: Have we caught up yet?

ALLY: Oh, fuck.

ASHLEY: Good, good, good.

ALLY: Okay. We did it, we hit. That is a 10 even.

MATT: A 10 even, okay. So you go ahead and do two harm. Well, one harm, unless you have a string on them. Or any benefit--

ALLY: Just one harm. But I do take a string on them by harming them with my primal dominance, so.

MATT: So you strike through on that one, lash out physically, and you choose one of the two. Do you want to learn something? So you chose the string on them, so you--

ALLY: Oh, oh, oh right, because I can choose. You know what, I will actually choose to learn something about this true nature instead of taking a string.

MATT: Actually, this would be-- they choke up momentarily before getting back, that's something they would learn on you if you had rolled lower. So on this, you take the string.

ALLY: Got it.

MATT: And they withdraw. You find out they weren't-- in the momentary fucked up mess, you thought they were, like, casting a spell or something. They were pulling a gun. Just pulling a straight gun.

ALLY: Fuck.

MATT: But they balk at it, and this lashing out that you give and the nature of your physicality itself shifting into something unhuman, and they just turn and run with the rest of them.

ALLY: Fuck. God dammit. Okay, I run to get my friends, because this is crazy. I'm going to die.

MATT: Okay, so you're not giving chase, then? You're going for your friends?

ALLY: Oh, god dammit. Can I try to have my cake and eat it too? Can I run to see if they're getting in a car or where they're going next before running to go find my friends--

MATT: They're running the opposite direction down the hall where you're in than where your friends are coming, so you have to pick one or the other.

ALLY: I follow them.

MATT: Okay.

ALLY: Yeah.

MATT: Okay. You hear all these sounds happening in the distance. You're catching up and then the sounds continue to get more and more distant, and this weird like guttural growling that's echoing as you enter this hallway, and you see the open door with the light, and you see a shadow rush out and continue down the hall. You have no idea what it is.

ERIKA: Oh god. Do we see the body?

MATT: No, you don't see anything. It is jet black shadow in this room except for the light coming from that one open door in this hallway, and you just see the shape of something almost beast-like leap out of that chamber and then head down the length of the hallway.

TALIESIN: Following that.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ERIKA: Go.

MATT: Okay. You guys run and run into shadow, hearing footsteps and growls. You catch up to the back of one of them, who is currently holding the legs of Amanda as they get to a door that exits the opposite side of this hallway to the outside of night. What do you do?

ALLY: Okay. Is that the person that I've already hurt?

MATT: No.

ALLY: Oh, god dammit. Is that person also within reach?

MATT: They would be within reach would be right now, yeah.

ALLY: Okay, I'm going to attack them, because I get a one added to those rolls, and then I'm also going to burn my string, so I have a four added to whatever this roll is.

MATT: You got it.

ALLY: Hey, that's a 14 total

ASHLEY: Yes.

ALLY: I'm going to kill this motherfucker.

MATT: All right. So this is not the one that you hurt previously.

ALLY: No, no, I was going for the one I hurt previously.

MATT: Okay.

MATT: You were going for that one.

ALLY: Yeah, I added the string and everything.

MATT: Right. They weren't in reach at this moment.

ALLY: Oh, then never mind. Okay, yeah, I go for this person right in front of me. Cool, I keep the string, and that was only a 12.

MATT: Yeah, no worries. Only a 12. You lash out and do another harm to this individual. This time your hand, as you reach out, as opposed to a punch or a slap, it is a clawed motion, and you arc down, tearing through the black cloth of this robe, and the individual (grunts). They're big, and they scream out in pain, and continue forward, pushing through, slamming the door behind them as they exit the hallway, in your face.

ALLY: I get a string on them too, probably, if I cause damage?

MATT: Yeah, you do.

ALLY: All right. So I'm in a closed door, but I hear footsteps behind me?

MATT: Yes.

ALLY: I turn to you guys.

MATT: You guys can't see anything. It is pitch black in this room now. You have no light.

ALLY: They have Amanda.

ERIKA: Who's "they?"

ALLY: I don't know. They're masked.

TALIESIN: Cell phone flashlight.

ALLY: Yeah, yeah.

MATT: Cell phone flashlight. You can see now, Af is standing there, breathing heavy, strangely taller?

ASHLEY: Whoa.

ALLY: We have to help her. Is the door open? Is it locked?

MATT: You go ahead and go for the door. The handle turns, but it's like, (creaking). It's wedged and rusted a bit.

ALLY: Well, let's all hit this door together?

TALIESIN: Three, two.

ALLY: One. (grunts)

MATT: (boof) You all slam into the door. It slams into the back part of it, the metal creaking as it impacts, hitting this reverberating echo of metal throughout the interior and the space. As you guys emerge out into the night moonlight, you glance over and can see a car (screeching) and peeling off.

ERIKA: I pull out my phone and I take video.

MATT: Okay. As you record it, as it vanishes into the desert night.

ALLY: Fuck.

ASHLEY: Let's follow.

ALLY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Whoa.

ALLY: So you were talking earlier about how you didn't have what you needed for something? What do you need?

TALIESIN: (sighs) I would need something of... (sighs) Something I can't get.

ALLY: What is it? What is it?

TALIESIN: We need something of hers, I would need time, I would need things we just don't have.

ALLY: Well, I have something-- like I would probably have, like, cloth or skin from whoever I just scratched, right? Like under my nails, technically?

MATT: You would have probably skin and blood beneath your nails.

ALLY: I have something of some of theirs.

TALIESIN: I'm going to try something. I don't know if this is going to work.

MATT: What are you attempting?

TALIESIN: Would this be counted as a token? It's not really a token.

MATT: It's not really a token, unfortunately.

TALIESIN: Unless they left-- I'm rummaging through the room to see if there's anything of theirs that they left behind.

MATT: Okay. Okay.

TALIESIN: Anything personal.

MATT: The dagger was abandoned in the fight.

TALIESIN: This'll do.

ALLY: Really?

TALIESIN: I'm going to start setting up a ritual real quick.

MATT: Okay.

ALLY: Whoa.

TALIESIN: That's a token.

ALLY: (laughs)

TALIESIN: I set up a ritual. I am going to Hex the owner of this dagger.

MATT: Okay, what kind of hex are you placing on it?

TALIESIN: What's the technical term for hallucinating insects crawling all over you, crawling inside of you, unable to scratch them off?

(laughter)

MATT: Weirdly, don't have that information off the top of my head.

TALIESIN: There's a technical term for it.

ASHLEY: I knew it.

TALIESIN: But with any luck, they're the driver.

ALLY: Oh, yes. So that's a dark roll?

MATT: Mm-hmm.

TALIESIN: Dark roll, with a plus one. Plus one for the token, if I recall. Or the token's what allows me to do it from a distance.

MATT: Correct.

TALIESIN: I have a plus one from my previous roll, though.

ALLY: Oh, yeah, nice.

TALIESIN: So that's two.

MATT: So go ahead and roll.

ALLY: Yes.

TALIESIN: Nine.

ALLY: Yes.

MATT: Nine.

TALIESIN: Yeah, if that's--

MATT: It works.

TALIESIN: If I have a plus one, or have I a plus two?

MATT: For which one?

TALIESIN: I only have the plus one from the previous roll. The token doesn't give me a plus one, does it?

MATT: It does not. The token can be used as, the token allows you to use it, and I think it can be, submitted token--

TALIESIN: Nine, then.

MATT: Can be used.

ALLY: Nice.

MATT: They count as strings.

TALIESIN: Yeah, so it's just my ability to hit that person.

MATT: Correct.

TALIESIN: All right.

MATT: You could have, if you wanted to, expend that string and use up the token before the roll, but you were already, for the future you can do that. Okay, so you've sensed the hex does take effect into the individual who previously held this dagger. What do you choose of the list of drawbacks?

TALIESIN: I'll take the harm, fuck it.

MATT: Okay. You guys watch as Jamie finishes muttering beneath your breath, clutching this dagger, and eventually the dagger itself seems to rust over in a matter of seconds. And with that, Jamie, you're clutching it, you open your eyes and it's heating up and heating up and heating up, and you can't let go and it's burning into your flesh, and you begin to grit your teeth and scream out, and eventually you drop it on the ground and your hands are burned badly.

ALLY: Whoa. Jamie.

TALIESIN: Be fine, I'll be fine.

ASHLEY: What happened, what'd you do?

TALIESIN: Fucked with them.

ASHLEY: Should we get the car and try to go follow them?

ALLY: Yeah. I think so.

TALIESIN: Yeah, right now.

ASHLEY: Are any of us okay to drive?

ERIKA: Yeah, I'll drive.

TALIESIN: Can you drive fucking stick?

ASHLEY: She can drive stick. What?

(laughs)

ERIKA: Yeah.

ALLY: Okay, great. Can I sit in the back and try to heal myself a little bit?

MATT: Yeah, you guys noticed by the way, that Af, as you're having this conversation, reverts a little bit back to the Af you remember, and you're like, man, these, whatever I took, for most of you, you're the one who's really freaking out about this. You're like, this is really messing with my head. You're like, this is different, and then you notice the blood that is pouring out of Af's abdomen.

ERIKA: Oh my god.

ALLY: I'll be okay. But if you can drive, I just need to heal a little bit.

ERIKA: I grab ascot and I wrap around their torso.

ALLY: Thank you.

ERIKA: Okay, well, this will take a little bit. So which vehicle are you taking, your truck or Jesse's car? Which by the way, your posse now catches up to you and is like, "What's going on?"

ERIKA: Okay. Cultists maybe took Amanda and we got to go get her.

ALLY: Amanda's horse girl.

MATT: They all look at each other, and they look at...

ERIKA: (sighs)

MATT: "What did you take?"

ERIKA: Nothing. You know I never roll at parties.

MATT: And they all get really serious suddenly. "Okay. Cori," and Cori's like in the process of texting, and for a minute, you're pissed off. She's like, "Yeah, nobody's seen her. Like, nobody that was here."

ERIKA: Okay. Find out about, I guess, cultists with, or, yeah--

ALLY: I explain the mask as best I can.

ERIKA: And then I text them the video of the car.

ALLY: Nice.

ERIKA: Send it out.

MATT: Okay. You guys get in your truck?

ALLY: No, we can take your car, since--

MATT: Well, it's Jamie's car.

ERIKA: Jesse's car.

MATT: Or Jesse's car, sorry, it's Jesse's car.

ERIKA: We can, let's take your car, and then follow us.

MATT: Okay.

ALLY: Okay.

MATT: You guys jump into your vehicles, and you can see, like, the party's died out for the most part, people are starting to leave. Some folks are just, it's closing down or there's word, maybe word got around that it was happening, and they got to close up before it gets busted. You jump in the truck and begin to peel out in the direction, and--

ALLY: Shouldn't you be driving?

ALLY: Who knows how to drive? I have to focus on trying to heal a little bit.

ASHLEY: I can drive and then you can help? Okay, I'll drive.

MATT: Okay. So you can tend your wounds.

ALLY: Okay.

MATT: You can heal one harm.

ALLY: If someone helps me, I can--

ERIKA: I'll help.

ALLY: Okay, great, because then I could--

MATT: So you can help delicately.

ERIKA: Yeah.

ALLY: Okay.

MATT: And intimately. Perhaps with erotic subtext, to heal an additional harm.

ALLY: I can [inaudible].

(grunting)

ERIKA: That's okay, you've been hurt.

ALLY: Okay. (laughing)

ERIKA: Just try to stay still.

ALLY: Okay, yeah. I want it to be like dull thudding pain, not like sharp. Okay, yeah, great.

MATT: Bandaging it up.

ASHLEY: I'm watching in the rear view mirror.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Eyes on the road, eyes on the road!

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

TALIESIN: Ow, ow.

ERIKA: That's okay, you're going to be okay. That was really brave of you.

ALLY: Thank you, yeah. We almost got her. Fuck.

ERIKA: It's okay, we'll get her next time.

ALLY: Can I explain to them what was happening, just in case they might have any ideas? There was a finger with the ring, there was a scythe, there was blood. I don't know if she was alive yet, they just took her body, they clearly need it.

ASHLEY: You couldn't see if she was still-- Fuck.

ALLY: Her hair was in her face, I couldn't really tell. One of them pulled a gun on me.

ASHLEY: What?!

ALLY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

ALLY: So this is like--

ASHLEY: Guys, we don't have any-- we don't have-- how are we supposed to go up against someone with a gun?!

ALLY: I don't know.

ERIKA: They probably don't know we're coming. Nobody would be that stupid.

ALLY: True.

ASHLEY: Do we see any tracks, anything we can try to follow?

MATT: Unfortunately, at this time of night, driving quickly in a truck, you spend about an hour or so before you finally come to the realization that you have no idea how to track where this car went.

ERIKA: (frustrated sigh)

MATT: The desert brush, the heavy dust, and patches of cracked land don't really carry the signs of vehicular travel as well as you had hoped, especially with such low light.

TALIESIN: Wasn't lucky enough that the car went off the road or anything like that.

MATT: No.

TALIESIN: Damn.

ALLY: It was worth a try, thanks for trying.

TALIESIN: Try and bandage up my hands.

ASHLEY: Should we go to the police? Should we go talk to your mom?

TALIESIN: Oh, fuck!

ERIKA: I mean, I'm sober enough to talk to people.

ALLY: I believe that.

ASHLEY: I feel like we could all get to a place where we're like, kind of normal.

ERIKA: Okay.

ASHLEY: Even though we're not, but you know.

ALLY: I think my dad has a gun that he pretends he doesn't have.

TALIESIN: Do you want to talk to my mom? She likes you.

ERIKA: Yeah. Let's talk to your mom.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

ALLY: Your mom's a cop?

TALIESIN: No. She works at the police station.

ALLY: That's crazy.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: This is first time you check the old clock on the dash of the truck, it is 3:30 in the morning.

ALLY: What?

ASHLEY: No, I just, I forgot I had a curfew, and my dad said I needed to be home by one. It's okay, this is more important.

ERIKA: Are you going to be okay?

ASHLEY: It's fine.

ALLY: I put in an order for a bunch of number one dad mugs to thank my dad, and you can have one for your dad if you want to make it up to him.

ERIKA: His dad is not a number one dad.

ALLY: Okay.

ASHLEY: I think you can save that for somebody else.

ALLY: Okay. Yeah, I'll just give them all to my dad.

ASHLEY: Thanks, though.

ALLY: No, bro.

TALIESIN: Let me know if you end up crashing at the place.

ASHLEY: Maybe we just should.

TALIESIN: Oh, fuck.

MATT: What's the plan?

ERIKA: Go to the station?

ASHLEY: I think we should go tell your mom.

TALIESIN: All right. Fuck.

MATT: Your mom, you know has the afternoon reception shift, so she's probably sleeping right now.

TALIESIN: Oh shit, that's true.

ASHLEY: Should we just go?

TALIESIN: Actually, if she's not there, yeah. Then--

ASHLEY: Should we just go to your place? I mean, the hideout?

TALIESIN: We could just go to the hideout, figure shit out.

ERIKA: I mean, shouldn't we try to tell the cops?

ALLY: You did something before where you were able to know that there were candles, right? That's the only way I was able to find her. Can you do that again?

ASHLEY: (sighs) I can try. I can try. Yeah, it's okay. I just--

ALLY: Are you praying to, like, Jesus?

ASHLEY: Not quite, but I think it's the same idea.

ALLY: Okay.

ERIKA: (sputtering) I don't think Jesus answers by green smoke coming out of your eyes and visions.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I pull over. Just don't be scared, okay?

ALLY: Okay.

ASHLEY: Going to try to gaze into the abyss again. Talk to Anukirai again.

MATT: Okay.

ALLY: (whistles)

MATT: What do you ask?

ASHLEY: (sighs) We're still looking for her. We're trying to figure out where those people went. If you could help, maybe be a little bit more specific, that would be awesome.

MATT: (whispering)

ASHLEY: 10.

MATT: 10? Okay. You take one forward towards addressing him. So any roll that pertains to this in the future, you get a plus one on that roll.

ASHLEY: A plus one?

MATT: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: You just mark that.

ASHLEY: What did you say to mark off right before you said that?

MATT: Oh, just note that you have a plus one on the next roll that pertains to these visions.

ASHLEY: Got it, got it, got it.

MATT: Whatever is receiving them. You see shadow as your eyes darken over once more, and you all begin to see this same visual, this odd, frightening, visual. Darkness, flashes of movement and pain, and then light, evening light, moonlight, it's bright compared to the shadow. Figures coming and lifting something out of a trunk.

ASHLEY: Can I see anything specific in the surroundings?

MATT: The visions show you broken rock.

ASHLEY: Okay. I think I know where she is.

TALIESIN: That was fucking crazy. I mean, I'm not saying what I do isn't fucking crazy, but was fucking crazy.

ASHLEY: Well, I guess it seems like we're all a little fucking crazy.

ERIKA: Yeah, I was going to say--

TALIESIN: Oh, no judgment. Just fucking crazy.

ASHLEY: You're perfect.

ALLY: (laughs)

ASHLEY: I start driving to the binds, to the quarry.

MATT: The Solomon Quarry? Okay.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: You all continue to peel off. Jesse's been following a bit from behind, he's a bit confused. You make your way back to Cinderbrush Hills, and you can see the blue on the horizon is beginning to rise as daylight is maybe about an hour or so off. You come to the exterior of the Solomon Quarry, the familiar standing elements of chain link broken and bent and folded in places, where the front gate is locked, you know the ways in, both of you know very, very well. You glance around. In here, it's easier to trace in places vehicular movement, as there's not many vehicles that move around the exterior of the quarry, both for safety reasons and most of the equipment is heavier with bigger tires. You do eventually find the tracks of a car that stopped abruptly with the skid in the dirt, and as you step out, you can see where it stopped and then drove off and the trail goes cold on where the car is, but there is no car there. You are standing at the lip of the further back quarry pit, where you keep your hideout, and as the little bit of blue light begins to crest over on the horizon, you glance down to see the unmoving body of Amanda Beltman.

ASHLEY: Jump down there.

ALLY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Oh, shit.

ALLY: Absolutely jump down there. Check pulse, check eyes, Amanda.

MATT: She's gone. Stab wound in the torso.

ALLY: Is there anything missing from her body?

MATT: Currently, no.

ASHLEY: Can I... Can I try to use a bargain... for her?

MATT: What are you attempting, bargain-wise? That'll--

ASHLEY: I have Numbing It Out, which you can give the dark power a string in order to remove a condition or up to two harm.

MATT: Unfortunately, this is beyond harm. This is beyond healing.

ASHLEY: This is just straight-up dead.

MATT: This is, she is dead.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: You also hear the front gate beginning to open at the front of the compound. People are starting to show up for the first shift at the quarry.

ALLY: Fuck. Dude, can we take her body with us so it's not just there?

TALIESIN: Oh, I am not doing-- we are out of here right the fuck now. We are out of here right the fuck now.

ERIKA: We cannot get caught like this, Af.

MATT: There are people now come into the quarry. There now is, you know, security are starting to do the perimeter in the early morning, to check.

TALIESIN: Oh, I'm already--

ASHLEY: Should we go to your--

TALIESIN: I'm already at the car.

ERIKA: Yeah.

ALLY: I sit her upright and like--

MATT: Okay.

ALLY: Say goodbye.

ASHLEY: Should we go to the hideout or should we go to the car?

TALIESIN: No, we are not going to the hideout. There are people here. We have to get the fuck out of here, entirely.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: You jump into the trunk?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: And you leave. The sun rises, a normal cool morning here in Cinderbrush Hills. Where do you go?

ALLY: Diner, is there a diner we can go to?

MATT: There is a diner. If you'd like to. You can head to the Havens Diner, which is more of the family meal place, but it's open 24/7.

ALLY: Coffee?

TALIESIN: Coffee.

ALLY: Regroup, yeah.

MATT: You go and get coffee.

ALLY: Oh god, I'm so angry, okay.

ASHLEY: Okay. What's the plan? We either tell somebody, we go to school. I don't know.

ALLY: The only nice person to be at school is dead. Oh, fuck.

MATT: (sirens)

TALIESIN: We have to tell somebody.

MATT: You start hearing police sirens in the distance, and two cop cars rush past the diner in the direction of the quarry.

ERIKA: They're going to ask an awful lot of questions. Questions that we can't answer.

ALLY: I guess we have to go to school.

ERIKA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

ASHLEY: We should've known this. We've seen enough fucking television and listen to enough podcasts to know that you should immediately go to the fucking police.

TALIESIN: Don't be stupid, it wouldn't have done anything. Barely any time.

ALLY: Dad is literally going to kill me, because I--

ASHLEY: My dad's probably literally going to kill me. Okay. Okay. It's okay.

ALLY: Fuck.

ASHLEY: It's okay. We go to school, we go to school.

ALLY: We go to school.

ERIKA: Act like nothing is wrong. We don't tell anybody about this.

ALLY: Uh-huh.

ERIKA: And we try to move on with our lives. Everything is fine.

ASHLEY: Oh, you're so good at that.

ALLY: I don't have any compartments to compartmentalize into, so I'm going to have a rough day at school.

TALIESIN: We're going to figure this shit out.

ALLY: Yeah, we're going to figure it out, and everyone just like, keep your ears open at school, I guess? Yeah, fuck. Can I go, or I guess I'll wait till we go to school. I'm not going home, I don't want to have my parents see me.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Ditto.

MATT: Exhausted, you all eventually make your way back to Cinderbrush High. The familiar homeroom bell carries with it a ringing dread.

ASHLEY: We can't walk in together.

ALLY: Yeah.

ERIKA: I've gone home and changed.

MATT: Okay. Probably for the best.

ALLY: You somehow look like amazing and like you rested. We're all like--

MATT: You know how to sneak in and out of your house pretty well. You all make your way back to class, and tense and quiet, in some ways uncharacteristically so, you try and head into the new day, to think amongst yourselves and wait for a moment to regather your thoughts. About an hour into your homeroom class, you begin to hear commotion in the hall. Suddenly news alerts start hitting your cell phones, about a body that was found this morning in the Solomon Quarry, in Cinderbrush Hills.

ALLY: Does it say a name?

MATT: Doesn't say a name. But. Amanda didn't show up today. Eventually, Officer... This would be... Sheriff Michael Dobbs at the police station the steps into the classroom, looks about all the students in the room and just says, "Morning. We, um-- There's been a tragedy here in Cinder Hills. We're just asking if anybody, anybody has seen anything strange at all in the city, around the Solomon Quarry. We'll be leaving contacts at the front of the school. But for the time being, till we figure things out, we're setting a citywide curfew of 9:00. Thank you." He leaves.

ALLY: 9:00. I think, well, we're flanking this like, sad, empty desk. Do we call the cops? Do we talk to the cops?

ASHLEY: I don't know. What we have to do? We have to get our story straight.

ALLY: Yeah, true. Can I-- or we're still in class, right?

MATT: Correct.

ALLY: Okay. I just stay in class. But at some point, I want to go to, like, the computer lab or something.

MATT: Okay. Yeah, you can probably arrange that. The recess might be a little short, but at lunchtime.

ALLY: Cool.

MATT: You could do that. Jamie. In class, you notice about 20 minutes in, that Terrence is fidgeting a bunch and scratching his face and having a rough time, before he eventually raises his hand and goes, "Mr. Kempler, I need to be excused. I'm feeling sick. Really just distraught about the emotional state. Can I go to the nurse's office?" Mr. Kempler says, "Yeah, Terrence, you go ahead, please." He gets up and leaves. Couple of students be like, "Can we leave, too, for the distress?" Mr. Kempler's like, "No, you can't all leave, we don't have all the information. Just hold off, maybe one at a time." Lunch eventually rolls around, class finishes, and you guys can reconvene.

TALIESIN: The second the bell rings, I am going to go. We need to find Terrence right now.

ALLY: Really?

TALIESIN: Right the fuck now.

ERIKA: Is he involved?

TALIESIN: Right the fuck now.

ALLY: Okay. We go to the nurse, I guess? We pass by the nurse's office to see if he's in there?

MATT: Okay. You head to the nurse's office, nothing.

TALIESIN: Check the bathrooms.

ASHLEY: I'm going to go in the boys' room, see if he's in there.

MATT: Okay. You head into the boys' room, and the first thing you hear is like, (grunts), and then quiet.

ASHLEY: I look under, see which stall is occupied.

MATT: You glance under, just to see one foot lift up.

ASHLEY: (knocking)

MATT: "It's taken."

ASHLEY: Terrence?

MATT: "Yeah?"

ASHLEY: You okay?

MATT: "Yeah, just you know, really distraught. You know, triggered by the whole thing today. Need some time to myself."

ASHLEY: Go peek out and open the door to them and then just say: Come in, he's in here.

ERIKA: We pile in.

TALIESIN: I'm going to lock the door with something. It's one of those like swinging doors?

MATT: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I'm sure there's something that we can quickly rig to keep the door from opening.

MATT: Well, there is a latch on it.

TALIESIN: Oh, we're locking it.

MATT: Okay.

ERIKA: (sighs)

ALLY: With my Scent of Blood, I get a plus one to all rolls against those that I've harmed. Would I be able to sense that in this?

MATT: You certainly smell familiar blood in the air in this room.

ALLY: Hey Terrence, come out here.

MATT: "Whoa, whoa, how many people are in here? Last I checked, this is, well not, I mean, it can be a gender neutral bathroom, sure."

ASHLEY: Dude, just come out and talk to us. We just have some questions.

MATT: "All right, hold on a second." Toilet flushes. "What can I do for you?" You see him, like, sweating.

ASHLEY: You okay, man?

MATT: "Yeah, just feeling rough. I got to got to go and--"

TALIESIN: No, no, no, no.

ERIKA and ALLY: No.

TALIESIN: We're going to have a little chat.

MATT: "No. Why, where--"

ERIKA: What's the matter, Terrence? Feeling a little buggy?

TALIESIN: We're going to have a chat about everything. And I'm going to cast another hex.

MATT: Okay.

ALLY: (laughs) Yeah.

MATT: Which one are you casting?

TALIESIN: I'm casting Ring of Lies.

MATT: Okay. Go ahead and roll your dark.

TALIESIN: Come on. Seven.

ASHLEY: Yes.

MATT: Seven, okay. So it works, you get to choose one of the side effects.

TALIESIN: I'm taking my darkest self.

ALLY: Oh my gosh!

MATT: (laughs) All right.

TALIESIN: My darkest self is interesting.

MATT: So Terrence, as you're saying this, Terrence goes, "I don't know, I can't play with you guys. I'm having a rough day."

TALIESIN: (garbled spellcasting)

MATT: He pushes you back, and you don't move. It's just like a solid, "What the fuck?!" And you watch as Jamie's eyes blacken over, and every word and whisper of this unfamiliar tongue that escapes their mouth. You hear it echo and reverberate around it as it does. At which point Terrence goes, "What the fuck is that?"

ERIKA: It's okay Af, don't worry. He's safe.

TALIESIN: Where were you last night?

MATT: "Where were *you** last night?"

TALIESIN: I was out.

MATT: "Some fucking black magic demon shit."

TALIESIN: (laughs) Where were you last night?

ERIKA: Tell him.

MATT: "I was dancing."

ERIKA: And then what?

MATT: "And then, you know, went and," and he reaches back and is pulling something from the back of his pants.

ASHLEY: I go and I keep his hand down.

MATT: Hold it in place?

ASHLEY: Try to disarm him.

MATT: Okay. What are you trying, you're just reaching out?

ASHLEY: I feel like he's reaching back for a gun, so just instinctually, I'm just trying to reach out and possibly disarm him.

ALLY: I guess I'll lash out physically.

MATT: Oh, you're actually attacking, okay. Like, if you're just reaching to stop his arm, you can try and do so. Okay.

ALLY: I don't think I'm taking any chances on this person. I'm lashing out physically. And I think I get a plus one to this person.

MATT: You do, because you've hurt him. Go for it.

ASHLEY: Yes.

ALLY: So... All right.

MATT: Go ahead and roll.

ASHLEY: (laughs) Get it. Hey, that's an eight plus one, oh, plus two, that's an 11.

MATT: 11. All right, and you have a string, if you want to spend it.

ALLY: Yeah, decided not to.

MATT: On this individual.

ALLY: Oh, you know what, actually that's probably just a 10, because it's, if I harmed them in this scene.

MATT: Oh, it's not that scene, so yeah.

ALLY: But still, yeah, 10.

MATT: Okay. They immediately, as you reach out and jam your hand, claws forward, into the chest and lift him up against the back of the bathroom stall wall. "(grunting) Look. We'd just been hanging out a bunch, and she, well, she made a lot of promises, and we-- she just talked about this."

ERIKA: Who's she?

MATT: You can see, he glances over and tries to speak, and the magic that you had wailed like holds the mouth open for a second.

TALIESIN: I mean, you can lie, it's just going to hurt a lot.

MATT: Yeah, and it begins to like, to really emphasize the heavy pain there. "Suzie. Suzie made some friends out in the city and was saying they found this book that could just really change the tides of luck for us, you know, and said to find somebody nobody would miss."

ALLY: That makes me so angry that I twist my claws.

MATT: "(grunt of pain)"

ALLY: She's missed.

TALIESIN: I'm going to quietly reach into my back pocket and just start hitting record on my phone.

ALLY: I've taken the gun too, I think, and I just throw it in the trash.

MATT: Okay. (knocking) "Hey, why's the door closed? I got to take a piss!"

TALIESIN: In a minute!

MATT: "I'm fucking... (groans)" They're storming away.

TALIESIN: What did you do?

MATT: "I just did what I was told. You know, I've seen a couple of things. I didn't believe her at first, you know, we were just fooling around and having fun over in Vertuga, and like, I saw some shit, and that was, and she-- she's very persuasive."

ERIKA and ALLY: Where is she?

MATT: "Right now she's staying at the Saint's Path Church."

ASHLEY: Who else is involved?

MATT: "Some friends of hers. Damian, Jenna. It's just us. It's just us for now, directly. There's--"

ASHLEY: Nobody else that we know here from school?

MATT: "No. That I know of, at least."

ERIKA: Terrence. You're not going to tell anybody about what you told us, and you're not going to tell any of your friends that we know about this, right? Because if you do.

ALLY: I'll kill you.

MATT: "All right, I won't ever tell anybody. You're not going to tell anybody either, right?"

TALIESIN: He's not lying.

ALLY: It's true.

ERIKA: Your secret's safe with us, Terrence.

ALLY: Yeah.

MATT: "Put me down? It really hurts. (grunting)" He goes ahead and like takes his, because he's bleeding now in the chest, and he takes some paper towels out of the dispenser and stuffs them inside for a second and buttons together his varsity jacket. He's like "Oh. Can you let this go?"

TALIESIN: No.

MATT: "Fuck you."

TALIESIN: I up it.

ALLY: (laughs)

TALIESIN: Four or five, six, seven. But it automatically has unexpected results and is much stronger than I intend it to be, no matter what, because I'm currently in my darkest form.

ALLY: Oh, yeah.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

MATT: This is on the illusions?

TALIESIN: Yeah, I'm adding, I'm just going to up them.

MATT: Okay. He unlocks the door and pushes out in the hallway and goes... "(shouting)" Everyone, the students start looking at him screaming. People who were waiting in line to get in, a bunch of other late students who are holding their piss, like back into the ways, he's, "(shouting) What the fuck just--!" Starts pushing kids over in the hall and goes charging through the hallway, and people are all following, and in that moment of distraction, nobody is paying attention to the bathroom.

ALLY: We get out of here.

ASHLEY: We get out, yeah.

MATT: You guys dart out at that point. As you head out, you can see now, there are news vans starting to line up on the outside of the campus. A lot of attention is now making its way to Cinderbrush High, right now.

ALLY: So we leave separately, and we meet somewhere?

ERIKA: Do we deal with this? Is this our problem?

ALLY: Yes!

TALIESIN: The faster we deal with this, the faster it's not our problem.

ERIKA: Can't get caught doing anything that is going to jeopardize my future.

TALIESIN: The only way you're not going to get caught is if it's taken care of. Be a fucking human for five fucking minutes.

ERIKA: Yeah, well why don't you be a human? Why don't any of us be human?

TALIESIN: Oh, fuck off.

ERIKA: (sighs)

ALLY: I, um-- Yeah, I don't do anything.

ERIKA: Okay, we'll meet back later.

ALLY: Yeah.

ERIKA: I guess your place, since you have the car, unless you have the car?

TALIESIN: Can we find out if--

ALLY: Well, I can't go home. I don't know where I'm going to go. I'll probably just drive around for a little bit.

TALIESIN: Can we find out if we can get into our place?

ASHLEY: Yeah. We could try.

TALIESIN: If they haven't found it by now, they're not going to, I don't think. If you can find out if they've discovered something.

ASHLEY: Why were they going there?

TALIESIN: I don't know.

ASHLEY: I mean, I have some ideas, but... Okay, what are we doing? What are we doing?

TALIESIN: Going to find.

ASHLEY: We're going to go home and then meet back up? Or do we just go there?

TALIESIN: (sighs) Let's just get seen so that everything's as normal as it can be.

ERIKA: Yeah.

ALLY: Is word out that it's her? Like in the news?

MATT: Not yet.

ALLY: Okay. Should I, okay.

MATT: There are rumors spreading quickly.

TALIESIN: It's been long enough. I think I'm going to try and dispel the hexes if they will dispel, they might not.

MATT: You believe you might have.

TALIESIN: Oh, we'll see. Might be enough for just to make people less suspicious.

ERIKA: Hmm.

ALLY: Okay. So I don't really know any of you that well, so I guess I leave on my own.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I can't take you to my house.

ALLY: Yeah, it's okay.

ASHLEY: Sasha.

TALIESIN: Shit.

ERIKA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Actually--

ASHLEY: Do you want to come with me to my house?

ERIKA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Is my mom at work?

MATT: By the end of the school day, yes.

TALIESIN: You can come to my house, my mom's not home.

ALLY: Cool, thanks.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

ASHLEY: All right. I grab my bike. Sasha knows the drill.

MATT: Okay.

ERIKA: On the pegs.

MATT: All righty.

ASHLEY: Be nice to have a buffer with my dad.

MATT: Okay. You go ahead and make your way towards your house.

ALLY: You can put your scooter in my car.

TALIESIN: Wow. Okay, that brought me back. Okay.

ALLY: (laughs)

MATT: You guys hear on the way out that apparently the police are starting to ask around if anybody knows where this Jamie Wrenly is.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

ERIKA: I text Jamie. Let him know everything I do.

ALLY: So should we go to your house?

TALIESIN: If they're looking, then no.

ALLY: So we just drive around.

TALIESIN: I'm going to go by the quarry, see if we can go find my sanctuary.

MATT: Okay. You drive over towards the quarry, and before you even get too close, you can see the place is--

TALIESIN: Swamped.

MATT: Swamped.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

ALLY: Okay, so.

ASHLEY: What church was Suzie at again?

MATT: It's the...

ALLY: Saint's?

MATT: Saint's Path Church.

ALLY: So should we--

TALIESIN: We can head that way. Stake it out for a little while.

ALLY: I'll start heading that way, yeah. Let's look from afar. Cool. I have my dad's a birdwatching binoculars, so we can just use those.

ASHLEY: We should probably head there too, so. I think--

ERIKA: Okay.

TALIESIN: How is your dad?

ASHLEY: My dad? Your dad.

TALIESIN: Your dad.

ALLY: Like as a person? Great. Probably the best man I've ever met in my life.

TALIESIN: And how's he doing?

ALLY: What do you mean? Like good, yeah, he's just a normal guy.

TALIESIN: Fuck, you don't remember, do you?

ALLY: What?

TALIESIN: Shit.

ALLY: What?

TALIESIN: Three years ago, you were having a, one your fits in a courtroom.

ALLY: I remember everything about the divorce court. Why? What? Wow, why the fuck are you at my parents' divorce?

TALIESIN: I haven't-- well, I suppose I have changed quite a bit, that's fair. It's been a while.

ALLY: What do you mean?

TALIESIN: That was my dad. Fucking Greg.

ALLY: (laughs) Our dads--

TALIESIN: Yeah.

ALLY: -- had a thing?!

TALIESIN: Fuck, when you put it that way, Jesus fucking Christ.

ALLY: Oh my god. That's so crazy.

TALIESIN: It's fucked is what it was.

ALLY: Wait, that was your dad?

TALIESIN: Yes, it was my dad.

ALLY: Oh my god, that's so nuts, yeah.

TALIESIN: Yeah, yeah, that was fucking nuts.

ALLY: Whoa. I feel like I like, really regard them as like a fucking... Like, we're really close now.

TALIESIN: I was going to fuck with you. (laughs) I'm not.

ALLY: Thanks, yeah. So yeah, so you saw what an outburst of mine looks like?

TALIESIN: Oh yeah.

ALLY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I... couldn't tell at the time if I felt bad or if I... I was pretty fucking pissed off that you got to do that and I didn't.

ALLY: (laughs) Yeah. Yeah, got some steam out. That's so crazy. Yeah, did you have any idea about your dad?

TALIESIN: No.

ALLY: That was the most shocking thing to me ever. I mean, I knew...

TALIESIN: I mean, I knew something was up, I didn't know that was up, but.

ALLY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Yeah. Yeah.

ALLY: I was honestly pretty proud. I was like, "Damn, Sammy."

TALIESIN: I was not.

ALLY: Oh, really?

TALIESIN: Yeah. Yeah. I told-- well, I didn't know everything. My mom found out because I was reading my dad's phone, but I didn't know, and then I told my mom, and then everything.

ALLY: Oh my gosh!

TALIESIN: Yeah.

ALLY: That's crazy. I've always been close with my dad, so I--

TALIESIN: Yeah.

ALLY: That seemed, I was almost like, get it.

TALIESIN: Greg and I are not that close.

ALLY: Oh, yeah, totally.

MATT: (siren wailing)

MATT: Rear view mirror. Lights.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

ALLY: Okay. Okay. That's fine. Would runaway work in a car?

MATT: You can certainly try.

TALIESIN: Whoa.

ALLY: What do you think? This is the moment of truth.

TALIESIN: Can I see who's getting out of the car? And if it's a state--

MATT: Are you pulling over? They're right behind you.

TALIESIN: Oh, I thought we were pulled over.

ALLY: We're about to pull over there. They just turn on their lights? Should I pull over?

TALIESIN: Fuck, I guess we fucking pull over.

ALLY: Okay, all right, yeah. So I start to pull over.

MATT: Officer Baron.

TALIESIN: Do they know me?

MATT: They do, and you don't have a good rapport.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

MATT: You don't have good rapport pretty much with--

TALIESIN: Anybody.

MATT: Anybody in this town, let alone the law, so, you've been arrested a couple times. You hear the door close, in the rear view you can see them walking, sauntering over to the edge of the truck.

ALLY: What do you think?

ASHLEY: Oh, fuck.

ALLY: I have a plus two to run away.

TALIESIN: I'm not going to tell you what to do.

MATT: They're getting close to your window. You just going to say hi, or?

ALLY: I'm trying to gauge your body language.

TALIESIN: I have gone, I mean, am I still in darkest, or does that fade?

MATT: No, it's--

TALIESIN: It's permanent? Or--

ALLY: You do something down here to get rid of it, I think.

MATT: You must offer peace to the one you have hurt the most. So you are still in your darkest self, and you are, yeah.

TALIESIN: Okay, because I suppose that was almost a little conversation of peace offering at that point, but I don't know if that was, "hurt me most" is definitely a stretch there. Up to you whether or not I've chilled or not, I'm fine either way. It's just going to change my reaction to what happens next.

MATT: Yeah. I'll say... That's not the one you've hurt the most. So you're still in a place of focus and wanting to get this taken care of.

TALIESIN: So the glasses are up to cover the eyes right now.

MATT: Yes.

TALIESIN: Okay.

MATT: (knocking)

ALLY: Good morning, Officer. Afternoon.

MATT: "Morning. Afternoon."

TALIESIN: Officer Baron.

MATT: "Jamie. Where you two off to?"

ALLY: We were about to go to church. Youth group.

MATT: "Really?"

TALIESIN: Working on my anger issues, which apparently I have. They've been so helpful.

ALLY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Really getting me to, I don't know, what is it, be a good influence?

ALLY: Yeah. Yeah, just thought I would try to bring this one to youth group. I mean, it's not all Bible stuff, it's also fun. It's like games and stuff too, so, I think Jamie might like it. You can come to if you want.

TALIESIN: I know I've been a problem lately.

MATT: "No, I'm all right. I went on Sunday."

ALLY: Okay, cool.

MATT: "Good on you, Jamie. Your mother'd be proud."

TALIESIN: Feel free to tell her when you see her.

MATT: "I want you two to stay safe. There's been some shit out there." Pats the side of the truck and turns around.

ALLY: Great.

MATT: In the rear view you see him call something in. They take a string on both of you.

ALLY: (gasping)

ASHLEY: Oh, fuck.

ALLY: Jesus Christ.

TALIESIN and ALLY: Holy shit!

ALLY: Should we have run? I'm not quite sure.

TALIESIN: No.

ALLY: Okay.

TALIESIN: Running's always worse. It's easier to bullshit your way through that shit than run.

ALLY: I guess, I don't know. Okay, we should go, we got to go. We start driving.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Driving to the church.

MATT: All right. What are you guys doing?

ASHLEY: Okay. So. We're going to go to my house, and then, just to show that I'm alive, try to make things as normal.

MATT: Okay. You pull up to the house, and there's a cop car in the driveway, as it was the Solomon Quarry where the body was left at. You can continue to interact.

ASHLEY: Walk in the house.

MATT: Okay. You walk in and you can see there is an officer who is currently talking with your dad who looks frazzled and furious and is currently signing paperwork. Your mother is not present, but as soon as you enter, the cop turns and says, "This him?"

ASHLEY: Hey, what's up?

MATT: Your father, Hank, turns and goes, "Cameron."

ASHLEY: I know, I know. Listen, I'm really sorry. I'm really sorry. Last night--

ERIKA: We were together.

ASHLEY: You knew we were broken up and last night we just, it--

ERIKA: Got to sit and talk some things out.

ASHLEY: We stayed together, I'm sorry, Dad--

MATT: "Officer, could you give us a second?" The officer goes, ""Right away." And walks past you both with a very interesting eye and then walks out front. As he leaves and the door closes, Hank turns to you and goes, "Do you know how hard it is to try and talk to the officers that my son who's been gone the entire night? The same time that a fucking kid was murdered, in our company? How hard it is to try and pass that off?"

ASHLEY: I didn't know a cop was going to be here.

MATT: "I certainly didn't know either."

ERIKA: We're sorry, Mr. Solomon. Things are just so crazy in town, and you know, we were scared. But I'm sure, you know, everything's going to be fine. We're good students, and you know, he has a fine, upstanding family.

ASHLEY: I'm sorry.

MATT: "Maybe a night in jail would do you good."

ERIKA: Please, he didn't do anything wrong.

ASHLEY: I didn't do anything.

MATT: "Good. Then I guess you got nothing to worry about."

ASHLEY: Can I just get some things upstairs? Want to come with me?

ERIKA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Go upstairs. Do I know where the keys to the car are hidden?

MATT: You're not supposed to. But you probably know.

ASHLEY: Okay. Probably in my dad's bedside table?

MATT: Yep.

ASHLEY: Grab the keys. Okay. If we go out the window and make our way into the garage, we just got to go. We got to go, we got to go, we got to go to the fucking church. That's a stupid idea. Is that a stupid idea?

ERIKA: That's the dumbest idea that you've--

ASHLEY: Yeah, because there's literally a cop right outside. Okay.

ERIKA: You go out there. I'll talk to your dad.

ASHLEY: Okay. Go up, grab the keys, try to see if I can somehow, is the garage separate from the house? Like one of those, you know, where it's like...

MATT: (laughs)

MATT: No, it's attached. So you sneak out through the window?

ASHLEY: Sneak out through the window.

MATT: Okay. You make your way like carefully across the roof, this is both of you? As you're doing so, the police officer--

I go around, I say goodbye to Mr. Solomon and I go around with the cop.

MATT: All right, cool. Yeah, because you know as you go out in the window, the cop is down right outside of the front door just waiting. And you hear like, "Roger. I'm just checking for one of the missing kids. He's here, we're going to take him in for questioning."

ASHLEY: Fuck, this is so stupid.

MATT: You slowly, carefully make your way over there. You head around back. Officer? Officer...

MATT: "Oh, Jared. Jared Thara."

ERIKA: Jared?

MATT: "Yeah."

ERIKA: Officer Jared. Hi, I'm Sasha Murasaki, and, what's happening? What's going on?

MATT: "There was an incident last night, and we're just having to ask some questions."

ERIKA: Okay. Can I help with anything?

MATT: "Did you see anything weird or strange last night?"

ERIKA: No, my boyfriend and I, that's my boyfriend. We've, you know, been going through it, and now, we're back together, and you know, we just stayed up all night talking and we watched the sun rise, and it was really great, and now we're really scared. Is there any way that, you know, we could just have a little bit of time and then, you know, we'll come back and talk to you?

MATT: "Unfortunately, we've got to bring him in for questioning. Just standard procedure. We need to make sure there's, you know, nothing untoward in that regard, even for his safety. So you can go ahead and reconnect the day after tomorrow."

ERIKA: Isn't there, you know, anything we can do to convince you?

MATT: "I don't..." (laughter) You going to try to turn on the officer?

(laughter)

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

TALIESIN: Oh, shit just got real.

(laughter)

ASHLEY: Like I said, my kind of girl. (laughing)

ERIKA: I'm going to say-- god, how do I do this? My friend Cori and I, you know.

MATT: "Oh yeah, Cori Brooks, yeah yeah."

ERIKA: Yeah. Sometime maybe, I don't know, we go out for dinner or something?

MATT: "Oh... (nervous chuckles) How old are you?"

ERIKA: Old enough.

(laughter)

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

MATT: Make your roll.

ALLY: Hey.

ERIKA: 13.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Oh, for fuck's sake.

MATT: You notice the officer--

ALLY: "I'm old enough."

MATT: You notice the officer's like, fidgeting and conflicted. On his left hand there is a little bit of lighter skin around his ring finger.

ERIKA: (laughs)

MATT: Having been probably himself recently out of a long term relationship, and he goes like---

TALIESIN: Oh, no.

MATT: "I mean, it's important to stay connected with today's youth, and understand how to best keep them safe."

ERIKA: You know, you could really up your social media game on the force. It's all about optics now. We'll show you.

MATT: "Okay."

ASHLEY: I'm in the garage, smiling.

MATT: "I got a Facebook."

ERIKA: Oh, good. We'll set up a tech talk for the force. I think that'd go over really well with the youths.

(laughter)

MATT: I take it you, okay, yeah.

TALIESIN: I can't, I can't.

MATT: He goes, "All right, well, take some time and when you're ready, just go ahead and bring him by the station, and then we'll take it from there."

ERIKA: I really appreciate it, officer.

MATT: "Of course. Looking forward to our chat."

ERIKA: Okay.

ALLY: Cinderbrush PD TikTok?

(laughter)

MATT: "Yo, what up? All my friends on the internet. We're just filling paperwork."

(laughter)

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

TALIESIN: I'm so sorry, it's just like ah! I just couldn't hang.

ALLY: No, that was incredible.

TALIESIN: It was too much, it was too much.

ASHLEY: Does he stay there?

MATT: No, he basically said like, if you wanted to take some time together, then just bring him by the station.

ASHLEY: Okay, so--

MATT: So he's there, but he's allowing you to go.

ERIKA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Okay, so I quietly try to open the garage, and I peek out.

ERIKA: I give the all clear.

ASHLEY: Get in here. Come on.

ERIKA: Hop into the--

MATT: All right. Yeah, the officer, as you're doing this, the officer goes, like, sees you. You're not expecting to see him and he's right there, and he goes like, "Just, you know, not too long. We'll see you a little bit."

ERIKA: We'll be right back. Just--

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ASHLEY and ERIKA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

ASHLEY: He's still parked there?

MATT: The car is parked, but there is space.

ASHLEY: Should we go?

ERIKA: Yeah, let's go, babe.

ASHLEY: All right, so get into my '71 Barracuda. (laughter) I put my hand on her thigh. (laughter) I drive out.

MATT: Okay, okay.

ASHLEY: (laughs)

MATT: All right.

(laughter)

ALLY: Oh my god.

ASHLEY: This is so ridiculous. I love it so much. I love this.

MATT: You... (engine revving) The familiar rumble, it's been a while since you felt her purr, and it feels nice. You also know your dad probably heard it.

ASHLEY: Yep.

MATT: So you deftly make your way out, leaving the garage door open, and the cop just waves as you guys leave.

ASHLEY: I give him a wave as we pull out.

MATT: And you head off, towards?

ASHLEY: Saint Paths.

MATT: All right. You guys got there a little bit early, and glancing out there, it's a small church, it's maintained by two people, and they're going about their business looking in, they're just cleaning the place and tending to the small garden.

ALLY: I'm using my dad's binoculars, and it has a little bird key chain that says, "I just love birds." (laughter) I'm looking for any clues.

MATT: You got it. There is, in the small parking lot behind the church, where when services are held, people go ahead and park their cars there, there is a pair of vehicles that are there that are, because normally the people that run the church are parked in the actual garage behind it, where they have for people that keep it. There are two vehicles that are there.

ALLY: Okay.

TALIESIN: Do we recognize these vehicles?

ALLY: Can we look at the, yeah, are the tires, they look like they were in the quarry, do you see dust?

MATT: Certainly dusty. One of them is a nondescript black Mustang. The other one looks to be a beat-up Acura. And they're both dusty as fuck.

ALLY: I send Cameron a text, like "we're at the church. What's your guys' ETA?"

ASHLEY: Just text back, "here."

ALLY: What? Oh, sick.

ASHLEY: Or, well, I guess we probably pulled up at that point, okay.

ALLY: The last car pull in at the church. Oh.

MATT: (engine rumbling) Yeah, it just pulls up next to you guys.

ASHLEY: (laughs)

ALLY: Okay, so we're doing this.

ERIKA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Yep.

ALLY: We find out who they are, what they are. See if there are any other sweet kids in there.

ERIKA: Yeah.

ALLY: Okay.

TALIESIN: Let's walk up to the cars.

MATT: You walk up to the cars.

ERIKA: Like we look at each other. Start letting out the air.

TALIESIN: I'm going to walk up to the cars, I'm going to knock on the trunks. Do I hear anything inside?

MATT: Okay, well, two things. One, as you guys were walking up, you get a text from Lexi. Lexi says, "I ran the plates on that car, it belongs to Terrence Michaels."

ERIKA: (frustrated sigh) "Thanks, Lex. Great job."

MATT: "I got you." (laughter) As you approach the cars, one of the doors opens, and you see a foot step out. A tall man, probably mid-twenties or so, shaved head, sunglasses, leather jacket, steps out and turns. "Can I help you?"

ALLY: Do I get a sense I would have a plus one on this person?

MATT: For...

ALLY: Or I guess actually, more accurately, if I have a string on this person from damage.

MATT: You do not.

ERIKA: We're looking for a Damien?

MATT: "Why?"

TALIESIN: We don't know, we were told to meet here.

ERIKA: We heard he knows how to party.

MATT: This is all four of you have approached now at this point?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: Okay. "Were you all at the rave last night?"

ERIKA: Yeah.

MATT: "Thought you all looked familiar." Yeah, let me get Damien.

ALLY: I watch his every move.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: Well, we can just come with you.

MATT: "You're good right there." He walks around--

ASHLEY: Fuck.

MATT: -- to the other car and just gives a knock. (knocking) (glass shattering) A gunshot from inside the vehicle. The glass in the back window shatters outward. Sasha, you take two harm.

TALIESIN: Oh shit.

MATT: From being shot in the upper thigh.

ALLY: I lunge. I lunge through the fucking glass to whoever's in the back seat.

MATT: Okay.

ALLY: And I lash out physically.

MATT: You do, you dart past, with lupine agility, leap into and through. As you brush through the broken glass against the leather seats in the inside, you see a shorter, squat man, in a white tank top, another, an almost matching leather jacket to the other gentleman on the side, and he has a pretty hefty-looking gun. And you rush in, go ahead and roll for your volatile.

ALLY: All right, I would like to spend a string, if I have--

MATT: This one you can. Yes, you may.

ALLY: All right, so. Okay. That's five, six, seven, eight. That's an eight.

MATT: Eight, all righty. So yeah, that's a harm on him.

TALIESIN: Ooh.

ALLY: Oh, so I get that string right back.

MATT: You do.

ALLY: Okay.

MATT: And you choose whether how any of the three there. You can be your darkest self, they gain true nature and gain a string on you, or I decide how bad the harm.

ALLY: I'll let you decide how bad the harm. Wait, hold on. They learn something about my true nature?

MATT: Yes.

ALLY: And gain a string on me. Hmm. Yeah, I'll let you decide how bad the harm is.

MATT: Okay. I'll say because of the closed quarters, the harm, it's difficult to get a full charge on. You manage to push him off to the side and he's (shouting) like now trying to get the gun back to you, and you are just bearing down, and he gets hurt, but not as much as you may have intended it to be.

ALLY: All right.

MATT: I rip off my top, my shirt. And I hold her thigh. It's okay, it's okay. Hold on, hold on. I start wrapping her leg.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: Delicately and intimately.

(laughter)

MATT: I will say, it's a little hard to do a delicate, intimate bandaging situation in the middle of a shootout in the parking lot.

ASHLEY: Okay, okay, okay. Then--

ERIKA: Just a little all up in there, it's fine.

ASHLEY: Yeah yeah, it's okay, it's okay. I'm really sorry. Okay, so I try to wrap it up as much as I can, tie it off.

MATT: So that's where you're doing this turn.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: You're probably aiding in that.

ERIKA: Yeah.

MATT: What are you doing?

TALIESIN: Can I make eye contact with any of these people?

MATT: Yes, the one that was outside the car that knocked is also in the process of pulling a gun and about to turn like in your direction.

TALIESIN: I am going to try and hex him as quickly as possible.

MATT: Okay. All right, go ahead and roll dark.

TALIESIN: (sighs) Yeah, that'll do it. Nine.

MATT: Nine? Okay. That is a success, but you get to choose which of your drawbacks occur here.

TALIESIN: Actually, it has to be a weird side effect.

MATT: Oh, that's true. Because you are full, yes, you are. All righty.

TALIESIN: It's ultra effective whenever I--

MATT: Correct, and which hex is this?

TALIESIN: I want him to be, I'm going with more... Just rats crawling all over him. I'm doing rats, rats and snakes, let's do rats and snakes.

MATT: Okay. I'll say as he pulls the gun, suddenly he begins to freak out, like pat towards his chest and he takes two shots in your direction, but because the illusions have grasped his face, both shots go wide, he screams and begins to run in the opposite direction. The gentleman who's fighting with you is going to go ahead and attempt to fire back at you.

ERIKA: Oh god.

MATT: I'll say does get a shot off at point blank. You take two harm. (gasping) Due to the proximity. You guys see the muzzle flash inside the car, and you feel the pain, but your fury and the look, the last look that you saw from Amanda's eyes to you before she vanished that night fills your mind and the blood lust is there.

ALLY: Yes.

MATT: What are you doing?

ALLY: I attack again, and this time I burn a string. I have Scent of Blood, which is plus one, so I have plus four to this roll.

MATT: (laughs)

ASHLEY: Yes.

TALIESIN and ALLY: Yeah!

ALLY: All right, that's a 10.

MATT: Okay.

ALLY: And I will turn into my darkest self if I, do I also have like a side effect to this one? Or 10 is a success, I guess.

MATT: No, 10 is a success, you don't need that.

ALLY: Okay, great.

MATT: So yeah, all right. You go ahead and lash out, and this time, you begin to growl and bite as you strike and just start scraping your fingers and claws into him. He starts screaming out in pain and cannot, he's reacting to this and cannot seem to get the gun ready in the place. He goes to try and pull it up again, and you just slash the hand out of the way, and it's--

ALLY: Can I take the gun on that success, or is that too much?

MATT: I will say you would probably have to try that for your next turn.

ALLY: Okay, yeah, no worries.

ERIKA: Grab the gun, grab the gun!

ASHLEY: Yeah. So this is, that's who's in the car, this is Damian?

MATT: Correct. This one vehicle you assume is Damian. The other guy is running the other way and is screaming and shooting wildly and--

ASHLEY: Okay, so I'm going to go rip the car door open and try to grab the gun.

MATT: Okay, so you set Sasha aside and rush over. You pull the door open, and it is a bloody mess on the inside, and all you see is Af there on the ground just tearing into this. As they're doing so, their body itself is expanding and rippling with muscle and bits of hair and fur are beginning to show up at the edges of the wrists and the neck and the face. There is definitely the elements of a transformation here.

ASHLEY: Oh, that's fucking cool.

ALLY: (yells)

ASHLEY: Okay, a seven.

TALIESIN: Ooh.

MATT: So you go ahead and, I will say... I'll say you should go ahead and roll a volatile for me.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: On the purposes of trying get this gun--

ASHLEY: Six.

MATT: -- out in the middle of the battle. A six, that's a failure, you get an experience point. But, unfortunately, there's too much chaos happening in the moment, and you have no way of getting to that gun, but he's still being held. What are you doing, Sasha?

ERIKA: So there's a guy running?

MATT: Mm-hmm.

ERIKA: Is he going towards something, or is he--

MATT: He's running towards the church, it looks like.

ERIKA: Okay, I'm going to follow.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: I'm going to pick up Sasha and help you towards the church.

ALLY: Yeah.

ERIKA: And I text the address of the church to the--

ASHLEY: Your Hive.

ERIKA: The Hive.

MATT: Okay. You got it. As you begin to give chase, this guy is running towards the church. You are still in this situation where in the middle of fighting in the backseat of this car. He's hurt very badly. What are you doing?

ALLY: I try to get the gun away from him.

MATT: Okay. Let's see, go ahead and roll volatile now for me.

ALLY: Volatile? I got it.

MATT: Well, you still have a string on him, too.

ALLY: Yeah, I have plus four. Ooh, baby, that's a 14.

ASHLEY: Ooh!

MATT: Damn.

TALIESIN: That's where all those rolls were.

ALLY: Yeah, exactly.

MATT: You manage to wrench the gun from his grasp. He's on his back, legs up, you're pounced on him. He's, ("panting)"

ALLY: Who are you? What do you do with kids?

MATT: He's unable to make words at this point, because he's in so much pain, and then he's just spattered with his own blood. As you're saying this, it's less coming out, like, "What do you do with kids?" and more, "(growling) What do you do with kids?!" This is a full, like, Batman monstrous intimidation.

ALLY: Puberty has hit me pretty hard. My voice dropped. Yeah, cool. So he's too scared to even answer?

MATT: At the moment, he's not answering. He's just like, (panting) in pain and whimpering.

ALLY: And I see my friends going towards the church.

MATT: You would need a moment to calm him to try and get any information.

ALLY: Okay. Can I pick him up and like, restrain him and pop the trunk?

MATT: Yeah.

ASHLEY: I'm still there.

MATT: You're still there too, yeah.

ALLY: Help me.

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ALLY: Throw him in his own trunk and slam it.

MATT: You got it. Okay. Perfect. You guys are mushing off, the other guy runs towards and he's yelling, "Suzie!" Two more gun shots. People are fleeing from the front of the church now, the two people that are keeping it, they're just running into the field, like screaming from the gunfire. You see a woman's shape like step out from the back of the church. You're not quite sure where or what door, "What the fuck?"

ERIKA: Suzie, what the fuck is going on? So he catches up and fires back another time.

TALIESIN: We're going to try and--

ERIKA: Yeah.

MATT: Right, get low.

TALIESIN: Oh yeah, we are not following that close.

ERIKA: No.

MATT: Correct.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: You can see Suzie now glance out. "Shit!"

ERIKA: Suzie, call them off.

MATT: She puts a hand up, and he holds the gun there. You guys begin to rush over with him. She puts her hand up. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. There is some confusion here. What's going on?"

ERIKA: You were trying to sacrifice somebody? Dark cult shit. What is going on? What are you into, Suzie? What has the big city done to you?

ALLY: I make sure I position myself between Suzie and her.

MATT: Mm-hmm. "(sighs)" Doesn't quite like see you yet as you're approaching, because you guys are catching up, but you guys are starting to come close. "There's a whole world out there that you don't quite understand."

ERIKA: Try me.

MATT: "Well-- Jesus!" (laughter) "Maybe you do."

ALLY: (snarls)

(laughter)

MATT: I'll say, given the circumstance, if you want to, you can go full darkest self, if you'd like.

ALLY: I go for it. I let it.

MATT: What remnants of humanity had previously been there, you watch as the somewhat fresh-faced, eager to meet and figure out life in the city Af becomes this monstrous, masculine, hair-covered, muscle-ripping, tooth-filled, full-on werewolf.

TALIESIN: Fuck yeah.

MATT: (snarling) Clutching on the back a bleeding man in what is now a blood red-stained tank top, going (groaning). Is just like, yelling in pain. At this point, Suzie goes like, "All right. I didn't realize we walked in similar circles."

ASHLEY: I don't think we walk in similar circles. What does that mean? We don't kill people.

MATT: "Not yet, but I had a feeling you were going to show up that night."

ASHLEY: Me?

MATT: "Yeah."

ASHLEY: What are you talking about?

MATT: She takes a step towards you and says, "Well, there are dreams I'm sure that you share." (whispering) Familiar whispers.

ASHLEY: I start grabbing my head.

MATT: "I mean, you're the one who woke him. Didn't you?"

(whispering)

ALLY: What is she talking about?

ASHLEY: I didn't wake him. I didn't wake him, he was already there.

MATT: "Well, you're not the only one who was visited. And there's a lot that we can do together. I don't know your friend. And to be honest, Terrence is a fucking idiot. So for whatever that means, I am sorry."

ALLY: So Terrence killed her.

MATT: "Terrence brought her. I didn't know her. I tend to think any of you barely knew her as well."

ALLY: I fucking knew her. So do you have a way of bringing her back?

MATT: "Maybe."

ERIKA: Probably don't want that.

MATT: "There's a lot of unique things at our disposal now."

ERIKA: Okay. Okay. You, (sighs) just cut the mystical bullshit, Suzie.

MATT: "As soon as you cut the fucking werewolf bullshit. Sorry. You were saying?"

ERIKA: So what, there's a demon and you have to sacrifice to gain great power?

MATT: "There's a reason those tales have standed as long in human history as they have. Mythology is not as fiction as it is strange."

ERIKA: You don't really need to, again, talk like that with us. We know full well what is going on.

ASHLEY: Suzie, you're clearly abusing that power.

MATT: "Maybe. But it's working for me so far." She snaps her fingers. (snaps fingers) And the man you're holding on your back suddenly goes from whining and screaming to silent.

ALLY: I pick him up like a little baby because I'm so big now.

MATT: (laughs)

ALLY: Is he dead?

MATT: He apparently is not moving.

TALIESIN: Oh fuck.

ALLY: Set him down.

MATT: Right as you set him down, his eyes flicker open and he lunges towards you, and you take a harm as he begins to bite towards your neck.

ALLY: I'm so close to dying! I absolutely fight back.

MATT: Okay.

ALLY: If I can.

MATT: Go for it, go for a roll.

ALLY: (whistles) Oh baby, double sixes, my man, with a plus four? That's an 18.

MATT: 18, okay.

ALLY: I'm sorry, that's a 16.

MATT: 16. Jesus Christ.

ALLY: Yeah.

MATT: Okay. You definitely take--

ASHLEY: Sheesh!

MATT: -- definitely gut him.

ALLY: Is there a way for me to hurt him so bad I get life back?

(laughter)

MATT: Sadly no, but if you do have... Well no, you would have expended the string beforehand, unless you want them to use the string to add additional harm to that, which you could do.

ALLY: Yeah, I think I'm bloodthirsty in my darkest self, so I probably would do that.

MATT: Okay, you use the string. You tear out the middle of his body and organs spill out, but it doesn't slow him down, and you can see this dull green light in his eyes that wasn't there before. And then he stops, stands still. She goes, "There is so much, so much that can be done. You hate this town. You hate how small it is. We all do. All you have to do is broaden your horizons and step out, and there is so much opportunity. Do you have any idea the crazy shit that I've seen in the past few months? Any idea how much there is to experience outside of this fucking god-forsaken town?"

ALLY: Yeah, you sound like you studied abroad. You don't have to kill people to do that. (laughter) Yeah, you fucking went to Rome, bitch, we get it!

MATT: Roll to shut her down on that.

(laughter)

ALLY: Oh, interesting. Hmm, that's a four. (laughter) But I do get experience.

MATT: You get an experience point.

TALIESIN: You are so full of shit.

ASHLEY: I'm going to try to use a bargain. Uncanny Voices?

MATT: Okay.

MATT: I give a string to the dark power in order to realize a secret about someone you're talking to.

ALLY: Ooh.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: Owner of that character will reveal one of their secret fears, secret desires, or secret strengths, and they choose which.

MATT: Okay, get a string on you, and I'll say, secret... Hmm. Secret desire is to live without rules. A deep-seated need to just have nobody telling them what to do, which is ironic given the bargain they apparently made. You sense they probably don't realize that.

ASHLEY: Hmm.

ERIKA: Suzie. Tell me more. I hate this town. I hate my parents. I hate how they're always telling me what to do. Telling me I'm nothing.

MATT: "Mm-hmm. It's not like that beyond here."

ERIKA: I move up towards her.

MATT: Okay. The guy with the gun still has a trained, keeps it squared on you as your approach.

ERIKA: This is all I've ever wanted. I was meant for more than this. More than these small people and this stupid backwater town. What do you want? I'll give you anything. I move up to her, and I walk a finger up her chest, and slide my fingers the side of her face, and I bring her ear down to mine, and I breathe into it. Anything.

MATT: Roll to turn her on.

ERIKA: Come on, come on, come on.

MATT: In the middle of a church parking lot standoff.

TALIESIN: Weirder shit go down.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

ERIKA: Six plus-- eight.

ALLY: Yes.

MATT: Eight, okay. "That I can provide," she whispers back in your ear. You just need to make a promise." (whispers) And when she says that, her voice changes a bit. It's this weird, deeper whisper voice layered over hers, a familiar voice to yours. In fact, it's the same voice. "Anukirai offers much. Boons for a gift. Will you take him in?" And you can see now a familiar dance of green smoke around the outside of Suzie's eyes.

ASHLEY: I reach out and I grab her hand.

MATT: "You can be so much more."

ERIKA: I kick her down the stairs, towards Af.

MATT: Okay.

ALLY: (snarling)

ASHLEY: Fuck yes!

MATT: Whack! Go ahead and roll lashing out. Come on.

ERIKA: Okay!

TALIESIN: Burn a string.

ERIKA: Can I, these are other people's strings.

ASHLEY: Oh my god, you have all the strings.

ERIKA: Yeah, I don't have a string on her.

ERIKA: Oh. Eight.

ALLY: Yes.

ERIKA: It's an eight.

MATT: That's an eight, okay. Okay. What do you want them to-- do you want to become your darkest self, decide how the harm turns out, I decide, or they learn something about your true nature?

ERIKA: I mean, I told her. I told her, and she knows it was true.

MATT: Okay. We'll say you kick her down the stairway, where she is, she stumbles down, right in your path. The guy who's being held by the green force there, his innards open, falls to one side a bit, the magic briefly faltering, at which point she is prostrate on the ground there before you. The guy who has the gun is going to spin and shoot towards you.

TALIESIN: I was already making a jump for him.

MATT: Mm-hmm. I'll say you go ahead and make a lash out physically as well.

TALIESIN: Lash out physically? That's volatile?

ALLY: Yeah.

MATT: Yep.

TALIESIN: (blows raspberry) Well, that sucks. Eight.

ALLY: Yes.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Holy shit.

ALLY: That's great.

TALIESIN: I was hoping to jump and then and then come down long enough to curse them, so.

MATT: Yeah, with this it's so fast, they're--

TALIESIN: I know that's all I get is just the jumping. Yeah.

MATT: You push the gun out of the way, and it does go wide and fires. The bullet hits nobody, thankfully, that you know of. You are going to do anything--

ALLY: Lash out physically.

MATT: Go for it. This turned into, like, final combat.

ALLY: Yeah, do I get wolf pack points for this?

MATT: Yeah, there you go.

ALLY: It's like we're all fighting together. Ooh, eight plus two, 10.

ERIKA: (laughs)

MATT: Jesus.

ALLY: Yeah, that's a success.

MATT: You guys have been rolling really well this whole game.

TALIESIN: Yep. Pre-game was terrible.

ALLY: Yeah.

MATT: Well, there you go, you got it out of your system. As she stumbles and turns, looks towards you, and goes to begin to make some sort of a speech in that same echoing tongue, you reach out and jam your claws right across the throat. At which point it bleeds a bit, but it's more the vocal chords that have been temporarily--

ASHLEY: Ooh.

ERIKA: (laughs)

ALLY: Wolf got your tongue?

MATT: At this point, you hear the familiar sound of distant echoing (siren wailing). Cops are on their way.

ASHLEY: Can I get down to Suzie and... Fuck. Can I try to just restrain her until the cops get there?

MATT: Yeah. Yeah. You can definitely do that. I will say--

ASHLEY: That doesn't do anything.

ALLY: Oh, baby.

ASHLEY: Didn't work.

MATT: No. What'd you roll?

ASHLEY: One total. That would be-- yeah, it's one total.

MATT: Okay. She's now fighting, and begins to, you watch as the wound quickly begins to seal.

ERIKA: (groans)

ASHLEY: Hey Cam, what are we dealing with here? It seems like it's kind of in your wheelhouse. What are the capabilities?

ASHLEY: Everything?

ALLY: Great. Cool. All right.

ASHLEY: I don't know the full capabilities, but it's not good and obviously very, very strong.

MATT: The guy who has the gun goes ahead and, after being pushed away, and his reaction comes back and shoots you.

TALIESIN: Yep.

ALLY: What are you at?

TALIESIN: Did I heal from the previous night or no?

MATT: If you took the time to heal yourself.

TALIESIN: Took time to heal, so oh yeah. That's right, thank you.

MATT: So that's two harm to you.

TALIESIN: Two harm.

MATT: It's a grievous wound. You take it, and you fall onto your side, and it is a large gunshot wound to your stomach and upper torso area, and if it weren't for the fact that you have fully embraced this understanding, then how dare they stand up against someone as powerful as you? Your will pushes through what would be agonizing pain, but you're pretty rough. The sound of the cops arriving is getting louder and louder.

ALLY: You can run if you want.

ERIKA: Nah, I'm going to stay here. I turn to my darkest self.

MATT: (laughs) This is going to be real fun when the cops arrive.

ALLY: Oh, fuck.

MATT: All right.

ASHLEY: What is your darkest self?

ERIKA: All the strings.

ALLY: Wait, what?!

MATT: Yeah, all of you guys who went your darkest selves, your strings are gone, by the way.

TALIESIN: All right. Oh, I keep these, though. These don't go away.

MATT: Oh wait, no that's, sorry. Darkest, you lose, that's what it is.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I know.

ALLY: Oh, yeah.

MATT: Sorry, that's my bad.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

ALLY: I got all my guys back. Okay.

MATT: Hmm. Little mix up there. I think you lose all the strings when you are escaping death.

ERIKA: Ah, that's right. Okay.

MATT: That's what it was. I was like, where did I read that?

ERIKA: That was it, that was it, okay. Keeping my strings.

ALLY: New mechanics.

MATT: But you have embraced your cruel side.

ERIKA: And I just go for her.

MATT: You just--

ERIKA: I pile on top of her, and I start whispering in her ear. You are nothing. You've always been nothing. You will never amount to anything, no matter how many dark bargains you make, and how much power you have, you will always be serving somebody else. You were never meant for anything good in this world.

MATT: Shut someone down.

TALIESIN: Hoo!

ASHLEY: Come on, let's go.

MATT: Roll cold.

ERIKA: Oh, Jesus.

ASHLEY: Ooh.

ERIKA: Nine.

ALLY: Eyy!

MATT: Nine, okay. So which do you choose from that list?

TALIESIN: Oh shit.

MATT: They don't have a string on you, so you can take a string on them if you want.

ERIKA: The condition.

MATT: What condition do you give her?

ERIKA: She's broken.

ALLY: (laughs)

ERIKA: I know what makes people happy, and I know what they fear the most. She's terrified. She knows she's always going to be serving somebody else. She's never going to have true power.

MATT: You watch as her fight or flight that has kicked in begins to waver, and her eyes go cold and distant for a moment. The man who's wrestling you for the gun kind of loses a bit of his resolve.

ERIKA: Go to therapy, you fucking bitch.

(laughter)

ALLY: Yes!

MATT: At which point you hear... (as police officer) "Lay onto the ground with your hands behind your head."

ERIKA: Fuck.

ALLY: I watch to make sure that the gun guy is doing that. What is he doing? Did he put the gun down and is he--

MATT: Yes, you are also a wolf.

ALLY: Interesting.

MATT: So as in hearing the cops begin to arrive and this shout, what do you do?

ALLY: (sighs) I'm sorry, but Cam, I have to hurt you. Just really quick.

ASHLEY: It's okay, go for it. I can take it.

ALLY: I lash out physically at Cameron. Because that's the only way to shed my darkest self and go back to myself.

MATT: Okay, okay.

ALLY: I have to harm someone I really love.

ASHLEY: Aww. Go for it.

ALLY: Okay. I hope I fail. Hey, that's only a nine.

ASHLEY: (laughs)

MATT: All right. So you take a harm.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: In that instance of the wound that is received, we'll say it's you lashing out angrily, like the bloodlust is there, and as everyone puts their hands behind their head, you look out of the corner and see Cam, you slash out that way, and--

ASHLEY: After they slash, I grab the wrist.

ASHLEY: It's okay.

MATT: The look in the eyes.

ALLY: I'm so sorry.

ASHLEY: It's okay.

MATT: Your form reverts.

ALLY: (groaning) I become myself again.

MATT: Mm-hmm.

ALLY: Oh, okay.

(laughs)

ERIKA: I, um-- Hey, Cam?

ASHLEY: Yeah?

ERIKA: It's okay if, you know, you and Af are good. It's fine.

ASHLEY: I don't know. We'll figure that out.

ASHLEY: Okay. I'll help, you know. And I--

ASHLEY: It's okay if you want a thing with Af, too. I mean--

ALLY: I've been reading Mating in Captivity, so maybe we can make this work.

ASHLEY: I think we can I've heard--

ERIKA: I go back to my true self, because I offered some of my power to somebody more deserving.

ALLY: Oh, cute!

MATT: All righty.

TALIESIN: I was about to cast a spell on the guy with the gun.

MATT: He's putting his hands up, he has nothing, he can't win at this.

TALIESIN: You're going to tell them what happened.

ALLY: Nice.

MATT: Roll dark.

TALIESIN: Hmm? No, I'm not casting. I'm asking.

MATT: Oh, you're asking.

TALIESIN: If you tell them some version of what you did, I won't hurt you.

MATT: He looks back at Suzie, Suzie's like, he goes, "I mean this is all her idea anyway. Right?"

ERIKA: Right, mm-hmm.

TALIESIN: Right. Technically, that is making peace with somebody who hurt me.

ALLY: Yep.

(laughter)

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

MATT: Really rapid.

ALLY: Yeah. (laughing)

MATT: Sure, sure, I'll allow it.

ALLY: 11th hour hail Marys.

MATT: I'll allow it, I'll allow it. As the cops swarm in from the parking lot, one by one you are put into cuffs and taken to the station. Tumultuous drama breaks out at the sound of your arrests along with these individuals. You spend days incarcerated and questioned, and word begins to spread throughout Cinderbrush Hills that in some ways you are all responsible for the death of Amanda. It isn't until a thorough search is done on the cars involved, eye witnesses, blood found at the scene at refinery, and the copious amounts of blood found in the trunk of a car that is in the name of Suzie that match Amanda's, as well as the rather intense-- this word escapes me for some reason. The gentleman spills the beans. Confession, there we go. Intense confession. Most everything gets put upon Suzie and her compatriots, Terrence as well. You are all eventually released, though you are convicted of some delinquent behavior during this time, in which case all of you have to attend specifically doing public service. You have to take anger management classes, which is a very familiar two of you.

ALLY: We'll show you guys the ropes.

ASHLEY: They actually have really good coffee.

ALLY: Yeah, isn't that crazy? Shocking.

MATT: Weirdly, a lot of strange lessons learned about yourselves, the secrets you now carry for each other.

TALIESIN: It's pretty fucking cool.

MATT: And the fact that the weird things that make you particularly weird here in Cinderbrush, there might be more weirdness out there beyond just you. And that's where we'll finish today's game. (cheering) That was a fun, weird little path down a--

ALLY: Oh!

ASHLEY: Yes!

MATT: A CW high school drama.

ASHLEY: The CW is so good.

ALLY: Oh my gosh.

MATT: Thank you guys so much for diving into this--

ALLY: That was crazy!

TALIESIN: That was amazing.

ERIKA: Oh my god!

ALLY: That was so good! My baby!

ASHLEY: That was so--

ALLY: Oh, god.

TALIESIN: Holy shit.

ALLY: What are all of your spells? That's so sick, that lying one was epic.

TALIESIN: The lying one's awesome, you can also unlock more of them as they go.

MATT: Yeah.

ALLY: Oh yeah, I have the same thing. If I had enough failures, I could've gotten a new ability, yeah. I was one away. So many failures.

MATT: So yeah. That was our first time with it. I know we probably fucked up the system in many ways, it's our first time running it, or you know, my first time running it, our first time playing it, but we had a lot of fun. Hope you guys had fun watching this. Happy Valentine's Day. Thank you all for joining us, thank you to the amazing cast of players coming on board to join in this insanity. Hope you're having a wonderful day. You all take care and we'll see you on the next crazy game. Bye.

ALL: Bye!

MATT: (chuckles)

(indie rock music)

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