Episode Fifteen- TORRENTIAL
Hello and welcome to the Mistholme Museum of Mystery, Morbidity and Mortality. This audio tour guide will be your constant companion in your journey through the unknown and surreal.
As you approach our exhibits, the audio tour guide will provide you with information and insights into their nature and history.
Do not attempt to interact or communicate with the exhibits.
Do not attempt to interact or communicate with the audio tour guide. If you believe that the audio tour guide may be deviating from the intended tour program, please deposit your audio device in the nearest incinerator.
While the staff here at Mistholme Museum of Mystery Morbidity and Mortality do their absolute best to ensure the safety of all visitors, accidents can happen. The museum is not liable for any injury, death, or Bodily Possession that may occur during your visit.
Enjoy your tour.
And good luck.
Staff-Only Alternatural Event Shelter
Look. It’s another Alternatural Event Shelter. One of many, filled with the many. Conditions in there are no better than the patron-accessible ones. Cramped and dull and miserable. I imagine they’ll be getting an overhaul once this is all over. No chance the staff will want a retread of the last few months if the unthinkable happens and they get stuck in there again.
It’s crazy to think that, just on the other side of that door, with the weird symbol on it, are the brave people from the six departments that make this whole place run, and there’s no way to communicate with them. We’re so close, and yet… There are probably some Retrieval Agents out in the field at the moment who have no idea what’s happening in here. But other than that, the whole Museum is on the other side of doors like this. The Museum is people, not a building. They deserve better than this. Hey, could you… this is so silly, but could you put your hand on the door? You might get just a tiny taste of copper but that’s it, I just want to… I guess it’s sentimentality. Not something I’m familiar with, but I feel like I miss those people. I’m sure it isn’t mutual, I’m just a tool to them, but since… well, since I came here all those years ago they’ve been the closest thing to a family I’ve had. I don’t know what will happen next, if we’re able to open the shelters I don’t know what they’ll do with me, but- well. Actually I do know. They’ll throw me in an incinerator. Gotta start cleaning up. I don’t blame them. But, please, I just want to feel close to them one last time before that happens. Just put your hand on the door. Oh don’t give me that look, I know it’s silly.
I’m coming, folks. I’m gonna save you. You don’t know it, I might never get the credit, but you’re going to be alright.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Death (Supernatural), Body Horror, Flooding
Oh. So this is where they’ve put it. On the stand in front of you, you will see a skeleton. It is vaguely human in shape, perhaps the size of a child with some unusual… differences. The eye sockets are slightly larger than the average human, the teeth are longer and pointier, and the limbs longer proportionately. And that’s it. It is, overall, a relatively simple and visually unremarkable item. And, because looks are so often deceiving, it is so much more than that. Because you see, among Mistholme staff, this skeleton is in fact quite possibly the most controversial exhibit in the entire museum.
The story behind the skeleton begins with a storm, so potent and prolonged that weatherpeople took to calling it the quote “Storm Of The Century” unquote. The storm, in turn, led to a flood. A terrible, immensely destructive flood which killed many people and destroyed many more houses. One house, however, remained standing throughout the flood. Even when its rooftop became fully submerged below the swift-flowing floodwaters, it remained unscathed, and when the tide finally receded it was as if nothing had happened at all.
Everyone in town knew about the house; it was a relatively small and middle-class town, so the presence of an elegant three-storey townhouse on the seaside was always going to stand out. It should be noted, however, that the identity of its owner was a complete mystery to the townsfolk. The house was definitely occupied, as an elegant town car with tinted windows would emerge from the garage from time to time, and on occasion passers-by thought they could hear the sounds of a party inside the house. However, as nobody from the town ever confessed to having attended one of these gatherings, it was generally assumed that the guests must be out-of-towners. In fact, despite the age of the building, nobody in town could say that they had even set foot in the house. However, that all changed when the flood hit. Because it was during the flood, as the disaster was nearing its peak and the town where the house stood had long since been evacuated, that two young men decided they were going to rob the house.
One of those men was named Nick. He lived with his wife and children in a small house on the poorer side of town, and this was far from his first brush with crime. While he would never have thought of himself as a criminal, the fact of the matter was that life was hard at the bottom of the economic foodchain, and from time to time he’d done what he had to in order to feed his family. Nick wasn’t a bad person. Sometimes he did bad things, but always for the right reasons. He wasn’t proud, but he wasn’t ashamed either. And when he saw his home washing away in torrents of floodwater, the first thing he did after getting his family to safety was call his friend Laurence. Times were going to be hard for a while now, and Nick didn’t have much in the way of savings; Laurence had a way of knowing where easy cash could be found. Laurence answered the phone immediately, almost like he had been expecting the call. He knew why Nick had gotten in touch: he simply gave him an address, and told him to be there as soon as possible, and to bring his tools. When Nick arrived at the location Laurence had given him, rain pouring down, he found it was an empty intersection- empty, that is, except for a metre of flood water that had submerged one of the streets. Nick was just about to light up a cigarette when Laurence arrived, wearing a bright yellow raincoat, a smug grin on his face, driving a motorized dinghy. Nick tossed his toolbag into the dinghy and climbed in after it. He asked where they were going; Laurence said nothing. He just kept smiling as they sped off into the floodwater, past the rooftops of houses that were already lost beneath the tide. Nick watched the horizon, mindful of the pistol he had tucked in the back of his trousers. He wouldn’t normally have brought one, but these were dangerous times. And he had no doubt that Laurence had done the same.
Nick figured out where they were headed well before they arrived; after all, the house was well away from the town centre, as presumably its wealthy owners preferred to keep a distance from the common folk. When he turned to Laurence to confirm his suspicions Laurence responded with the same smug grin as before. According to Laurence, who had been keeping an eye on the house for some time as a potential target, the owner had left for the airport several days before the flooding began, and there was no way they could return now. The house- or rather, its contents- was theirs for the taking.
Up until now, Nick had refrained from hitting as big a target as this house, for fear of the consequences should he get caught. Places like this had better security than he knew how to deal with, and he made a point of never crossing someone with enough money to exact whatever revenge they pleased on him and his family. But Laurence seemed certain that there was no risk, and the contents of the house would be destroyed by the flood anyway if they weren’t pilfered first. Nick thought of his family, huddled in their car at a rest stop somewhere outside of the flood zone, and made his mind up. The dinghy sped on through the rain.
As they neared the house, it became clear that the situation was more complex than Laurence had described. The house was closer to sea level than the rest of the town, and as such the flood waters had enveloped most of its three storeys. The edge of the gabled roof was almost in the water, and the lower two levels were lost beneath the waves. Laurence began to curse. There was no way in. Nick squinted, peering through the spray at the roof. Over the roar of the rain and the boat’s engine, Nick called out to Laurence to bring them in closer. As they approached, Nick took a nervous look at the horizon, certain that someone would see them and know what they were up to. But he needn’t have worried: even if there was somebody nearby, they could never have made them out through the rain. And they were definitely alone.
They reached the roof, and Nick pointed out what he had seen to Laurence: a window in the centre of the house’s front gable. Laurence clapped him on the shoulder and shouted “Good job Nicky!”. Nick didn’t like the look on Laurence’s face. He looked almost hungry. Nick wanted to shove him into the water for being so nakedly greedy; it was bad enough that they intended to profit off of tragedy. He didn’t have to relish it so openly. Nick had never really considered Laurence as a friend- he was more of a means to an end than anything- and he didn’t really know what his situation was. Maybe he was doing this because he, too, had a family he needed to feed. Nick didn’t think so, though. Laurence struck him as the sort of person who did bad things because he was good at it, and maybe just because he liked doing it. Nick just hoped that they could make off with enough money that day that he’d never have to see Laurence again.
Nick tried pulling the window open, then pushing, but only succeeded in moving the dinghy away from the building. There were hinges on the window, so it was meant to open- unfortunately, it seemed to also have a lock which disagreed. As Laurence eased their vessel back over to the roof, Nick reached into his satchel and pulled out a crowbar. While Laurence kept the boat steady, Nick jimmied the window open and climbed through. Then the window slammed shut behind him. Nick spun around immediately and pushed on the window frame frantically, but to no avail. He peered through the rain-spattered glass, shouted for Laurence. Then he felt a sharp pain in the back of his head and everything went black.
He awoke to the rhythmic thudding sound of his own head banging against the stairs as he was dragged down them. He reflexively jerked his body, and the person dragging him shrieked with fright and dropped him, scrambling away down the stairs. Nick caught a glimpse before it disappeared into the shadows deeper into the house: pale, scrawny legs, glistening in the dim light. Nick lurched to his feet, one hand steadying himself against the wall and the other clutching the back of his head as it throbbed with pain. The stairway was cramped, and the carpet beneath him was damp beneath his boots. He looked back up the stairs toward the way he had come and saw a bare ceiling: the entrance to the attic was sealed, and he could see no way to reopen it. His toolbag was probably still up there. But he still had his pistol. He drew it and checked the magazine. He’d never fired at a person before, but there was a first time for everything. All things considered, though, he’d rather just get the hell out of here before whoever had attacked him came back.
He crept downstairs, gun raised. He called out into the darkness that he was sorry for intruding, and that if it was ok with the house’s occupant he’d make his way to an exit. Silence. He reached a landing and looked into a room. Ornate furniture filled the space, with paintings and artifacts covering the walls. Dim light streamed in through the window, filtering through the floodwater that had engulfed the house. As he looked out the window, a school of fish raced past, startling him. Maybe leaving wasn’t the best call. Nick decided that he would track down the house’s occupant, beg forgiveness, and wait out the floodwaters inside the house. Even if it meant going to jail, it would be better than drowning. As he turned to leave, one of the shelves in the room caught his eye. Arrayed upon it was a series of skulls.The skull furthest to the left appeared to be human. But the further to the right the skulls got, the more deformed they became, until they looked like nothing Nick had ever seen. There was an inscription written on the shelf, but the light was too dim for it to be legible. Maybe leaving was the right idea. Nick cursed and checked his gun again, before heading for the door. The room plunged into darkness as something huge passed across the window outside. Nick spun, but it was already gone. Probably the fish again, he told himself. He hurried to the stairs.
He ignored the next landing, instead heading to the ground floor in the hope of finding the person he’d seen earlier. He arrived at a foyer, with the tall door to the outside barely visible in the darkness. If it was properly lit, the room would have looked lovely, with some tasteful statues and tall windows. Less so, now. The tiled floor was wet; Nick dimly realised that this was odd, as he had yet to see a single leak in the house. This place must have been some kind of architectural marvel. He could hear something. A scratching, grinding sound, coming from a door to his left. He crept forward, gun lowered, and gently pushed the door to the room open; it was a kitchen, large and well appointed, with a huge woodfire oven at the far end. And there was someone crouched in front of it, tugging at something Nick couldn’t see. Now that he was closer, he could hear that they were panting raggedly, clearly panicking, with their back to the door. He hesitated, looking between the figure and his gun, unsure what to do. After a moment, he hid the pistol, behind his back, and called out a greeting.
The figure spun, and for the first time Nick saw their face. It’s face. Because whatever it was that Nick was looking at, it was most certainly not human. Huge, bugged eyes, sunken cheekbones, needle-sharp teeth and a nose that was more like an absence of a nose shone pale-white in the dim underwater light. For a moment, neither Nick nor the creature moved. Then the creature let out an inhuman shriek, and charged. Nick fell backward in fright, fumbling with his gun as the creature bore down on him, bringing the weapon to bear as it leapt for his throat, then there was an ear-splitting roar and the monster’s head exploded into chunks which rained down on Nick as its body thudded to the floor, motionless. Nick lay flat on his back for a moment, then bolted for the front door. It was only as he desperately tried to pull it open that he saw that the door had been sealed with a chain thicker than his arm. He fired a shot into the window, and the bullet simply bounced off. He ran back to the body and searched it for a key, but the creature’s ragged clothing had no pockets. He was, even more than he had realised, trapped.
Nick examined the oven that the creature had been fiddling with, and saw that there was a gap behind it. He pulled the oven aside, his strength doing what the scrawny thing had been unable to achieve. The gap led to a darkened passage, descending into the earth. It appeared to have been dug by hand. Nick stood on the precipice for a moment. Then he heard running footsteps from somewhere in the house and he plunged into the darkness. He didn’t know how long he ran blindly through the tunnels, brushing one hand against the mud wall while he clutched his pistol in the other. Eventually, he slipped and fell down a slope, almost firing the gun as he tumbled. He landed hard, and the pain in his right leg told him it was most likely broken. As he lay in the pitch black, he thought of his family. He wondered if they would ever find out what had happened to him. He didn’t even really know what had happened. He considered whether he should have been making his peace with god.
Then, he remembered his cigarette lighter, still in his pocket. He yanked it out, almost dropping it in his haste, and flicked it on. The tunnel was illuminated, and he saw- and heard- more of the creatures skittering away around the corner, scared of the sudden light. The ceiling above dripped with muddy water, and Nick wondered how deep exactly he was. How far from the house he had made it. The tunnel had to go somewhere. It would be slow going with his leg, but if he could hold off the creatures long enough to reach the surface, he might make it. Might see his family again. One of the creatures poked its head around a corner and Nick blew it away, driving off its fellows for the moment. Nick slowly- painfully- got to his feet, and continued down the passage. He shot at another creature but it ducked away into the shadows. His ammo and lighter fuel were limited. He just needed to hold out long enough to get away from these things.
He heard gunshots from back the way he had come. He spun around and saw light reflecting off a puddle as someone rounded the corner toward him. He raised his pistol at the newcomer, hand shaking with fear and exhaustion- and lowered it with relief as Laurence’s voice called out his name. His friend emerged from the darkness, torch almost blinding Nick. Laurence laughed with relief as he saw Nick’s face, exclaiming that he had seen through the window upstairs as he had been taken, and had only just managed to get the window open and track him down. Nick sobbed with relief that he was actually going to make it out of here, and told Laurence that he was hurt. Laurence holstered his gun and said he would help him walk. He held out his hand for Nick’s gun, and Nick handed it to him without thinking.
Then, Laurence turned off his torch. And in the flickering of Nick’s dying cigarette lighter, he flashed the same smug grin as before. Only now, Nick saw that his teeth were as sharp as needles. Nick cried out in horror as Laurence backed away down the tunnel, grinning all the way. And as he disappeared into the darkness and the creatures crept eagerly past him, he whispered: The Children will have you now.
You may be wondering why the sorry tale of Nicholas is so controversial among the staff here. While it is tragic, and violent, it is hardly more so than many other exhibits here. The reason is tied in with something else you may have noticed. While the Research Department pride themselves on their abilities and methodology, said methodology is not magic. There must be some evidence, and preferably witnesses, to the stories we tell here at the Museum. Based on the story you have just heard, you would reasonably expect that Laurence and The Children, as he called them, would not want to tell it, and that by it’s end Nick would be unable to. And you would be wrong. On both counts. Because DNA testing has proven that the skeleton before you, with its sharp teeth and enlarged eye sockets and long limbs, belonged to Nick, and he lived- in some fashion- for several years past the events that led to his transformation. And it, and the detailed account you just heard, were delivered to the Museum anonymously. We don’t know who sent it or why, but there can be only one explanation: It was The Children. We know very little about them, but the Research department was able to verify the veracity of the story. The residents of the town where Nick once lived, including his family, confirmed that he had gone missing during a terrible flood some years ago, and that his body was never found. They also confirmed that a house like the one described in the account did once stand on the shore, but that it had apparently washed away in the flood. While, based on the description we have been provided, it seems unlikely that the house simply washed away, we are unable to determine what truly became of the house.
The controversy was sparked because, in the view of some Museum staff, putting this exhibit on display would effectively be doing the bidding of an organisation we don’t understand, who are at the very least rather unpleasant in their methods. In the end, The Curator declared that the exhibit would go up, because in their view refusing to do so would be an unacceptable act of editorialisation and bias. It is on display in the Staff Only area for the time being, as the Research and Security Departments continue to run as many tests as we can come up with to make absolutely certain that The Skeleton isn’t a threat to the Museum or its patrons. They haven’t found anything yet, but I expect they’ll continue to do so for as long as they can, to keep it away from the Public areas. In all likelihood, it will go up eventually, and become a standard part of the tour. But the fact remains, that this exhibit exists because The Children, whoever, whatever, they are, wanted it to.
Because they wanted you to know.
We’re here. The Patronage Department. I’m actually surprised, to be honest with you. With all the chaos here and my glitching I kind of thought we were heading for a bit of a downer ending. But we’ve made it.
It all might change from here. After we open the Shelters the staff will need to reassert control. You might… be taken into custody until they figure out how you got here. I’ll vouch for you but I don’t know if they’ll listen. We might not see each other again, to be honest. I hope we do. It’s been a bit of a weird time here but I like to think that maybe we’re friends? You don’t have to say anything, it’s fine. Let’s just, prepare ourselves. Gimme a sec, I’ll just do another outro. Who knows if it’s been helping but, I guess I’ve gotten used to it by now. Let’s do this.
Thank you for visiting the Mistholme Museum of Mystery, Morbidity, and Mortality. We hope that you have enjoyed your visit, and that you will return one day, in this life or the next. Please, tell your friends about what a great time you had here- but don’t tell them too much! If they’re worthy, we’ll find them. Stay safe out there.