Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

1976, South California
The Sandoval couple is worried sick: their daughter, Elizabeth, ran off and joined a cult, the Temple of Concordance. They had no contact with her until recently, when she called them, clearly in a state of distress. The call ended abruptly, without any answer from Elizabeth about her status. The police checked up on the Temple, but found everything to be in order: Elizabeth is 21, practicing her right to worship as she wishes. The Sandovals decide to take matters into their own hands...

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Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby evil_scientist » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:38 am

Image

Julie finds herself in a strange, alien city. There are no shades or gradients: everything is of a single distinct color. White buildings - tall, monolithic slabs - reach to the sky. The ground is black, pitch black. Faceless people move aimlessly about the streets, without speaking or interacting with each other. But Elizabeth must be here, somewhere. A woman leans in and whispers: "Are you afraid of separation?" Julie sees a long thread stretching behind herself, connecting her to an unseen point in the infinite distance.

Julie follows a girl, who looks and walks like Elizabeth... Julie makes her way through the dense, shifting mass of people. The crowd dissipates, and the girl leads Julie out of the city and into the deep desert. Finally, the girl (Elizabeth?) stops on the very edge of a canyon. Julie calls out to her - "Elizabeth?", but to no avail. Julie steps forward - and the girl steps forward too. For a second, she is suspended in the air above the void.





Julie wakes up in cold sweat. It's still night. She goes back to sleep, but there are no more dreams.





In the morning, the Investigators have breakfast, and make some final preparations. Julie puts on the wire. Then Tobias drives Julie out to the desert on his car. They stop some distance short of the compound, check the equipment one last time, then split up. The other Investigators have taken Nat's car, and drove to look for a hiding place in range of the transmitter. Probably somewhere in the rocky desert to the west of the compound.

Julie covers the remaining distance on foot.

It is only 10 in the morning, but the temperature is already rising. The air vibrates.

Compound map.png


Spoiler:
  1. Not a proper building, just a tin roof on rows of posts. There is some old farming equipment (ploughs etc.), and crates covered with tarps.
  2. A single-storey house, made of pre-fab elements. There is a narrow enclosed porch with windows and a door facing the center of the compound. It has a hinged roof, with a small window on the short side: it probably has a small attic.
  3. Outhouse.
  4. A single-story brick house, with an open porch along the long side facing the center. It looks like the oldest building in the place. Two windows on the left side of the front wall are boarded up.
  5. The newly- built hangar or barn. It's entrance (a double gate, currently closed) is facing the center of the compound.
  6. In this area, the earth is ploughed, and there are some things planted - tomatoes and the like. It's all haphazardly worked.
  7. A rusty trailer, a leftover from the 1950s, propped up with bricks. The pink paint is peeling of the side. Adjacent to the trailer, a tarp is stretched out to provide shade.

North is up.


The compound looks quiet enough. The gate of the chain link fence is open. Julie sees the pick up truck parked next to the buildings, but not the red sedan.

The only person visible is a woman, scraping the ground with a hoe between the barn and the old trailer (6). She is working slowly, dreamily. She is wearing denim overalls. She hasn't noticed Julie yet.


Spoiler:
Mr. Handy, please note when Julie switches the wire's transmitter on/off! If she wants to manipulate it while others are watching, make a Sleight of Hand check.
"I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body," she gasped. "I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?" - The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby Mr. Handy » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:12 am

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While she's not being observed, Julie flips the switch to turn on the transmitter. She approaches the open gate, stopping just outside it. "Hello!" she calls to the woman, with a smile and a wave.
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby evil_scientist » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:31 am

A few seconds pass. The woman finally stops whatever she's doing and looks in Julie's direction. Then lays the hoe on the ground, wipes her hands against her trousers, and starts walking towards the gates. Her movements are slow and fluid. She stops a few steps away from Julie.

The woman is young (a couple years Julie's senior), short, of a sinewy build. But instead of leanness, her appearance gives a sickly, desiccated impression. The denim overalls are hanging, suspended on bibs on her shoulders, like on a scarecrow. She is tanned, but in some places she looks more sunburned, with the skin flaking, coming off in patches. Her long, thin straw-colored hair is gathered in a ponytail.

"Hi! Can I... help you with anything?"
"I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body," she gasped. "I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?" - The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby Mr. Handy » Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:28 am

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"Hi," says Julie. "I'm looking for Elizabeth Sandoval. Do you know where I might find her?"
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby evil_scientist » Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:34 am

The woman first gives Julie a blank stare, then finally a realization comes.

"Elizabeth... Oh you mean Eli? She's around here, yes."

She looks behind her shoulder, towards the houses.

"I think she is resting.

"Why are you looking for her?"
"I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body," she gasped. "I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?" - The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby Mr. Handy » Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:43 am

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"I'm her friend Julie," she says. "I haven't seen her in a long time, so I thought I'd drop in and visit her."
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby evil_scientist » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:03 am

"I see. I don't want to wake her up if she is asleep. But..." she drifts off mid-sentence. "...let's go and check."

She wipes her hands against her trousers once more, and slowly walks over to the pre-fab house (2). She stops before entering the porch. "Just wait here, okay? I don't want to wake the others."

Spoiler:
I changed the dialog color, because it was the same as Julie's ;)
"I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body," she gasped. "I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?" - The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby Mr. Handy » Wed Jun 27, 2018 4:57 am

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"Sure," says Julie, just loud enough to be picked up by the microphone so as not to risk waking the others. She stops outside the porch and watches the entrance.
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby evil_scientist » Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:29 pm

The woman enters the house, and closes the creaking door behind herself. Julie catches a glimpse of a narrow corridor, bisecting the house. There are closed doors on both sides. There is a single window and a ladder leading up at the end of the corridor.

Julie patiently waits. The enclosed porch is full of junk: old boxes, dusty crates, a broken bicycle.

After a minute or so, the door opens. The woman comes out first, then steps aside, revealing Elizabeth!

"Eli, this girl says she is here to see you," the woman says.

"Eli..." The name rings weird to Julie. Elizabeth was always Liz, or Lizzie, but never "Eli"! And how different is the person now standing in the doorway!!!

Elizabeth is thinner than ever, almost malnourished. Her cheekbones are protruding. Her lips are parched, and surrounded by sores. She looks tired. Her eyes are surrounded by dark circles. The skin on her arms and shoulders and neck is alternating between tanned and red sunburned sections.

She is dressed in a t-shirt and torn jeans. Julie recognizes the shirt: Elizabeth got it on a school trip to the Mesa Verde National Park. The shirt's faded to pink, the picture of the cave dwellings worn unrecognizable.

Elizabeth smiles at Julie. It's a strange faint half smile... maybe moving her damaged lips is painful?

"Hi!" she says. She waves, but doesn't move in for their traditional friendly hug.
"I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body," she gasped. "I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?" - The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby Mr. Handy » Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:06 am

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Julie has no such hestitation. While Elizabeth may not seem like herself, she knows that her friend is still in there somewhere. "It's good to see you, Lizzie!" she says, moving forward and embracing her. "I've really missed you. How have you been? I can see you've lost some weight."
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby evil_scientist » Sat Jun 30, 2018 7:58 am

"I'll let you two catch up," the woman says, and exits the porch. From the corner of her eye, Julie sees that she slowly heads towards the other building (4).

"It's good to see you too," Elizabeth says, and lets Julie hug her. Elizabeth has been sweating in her sleep. Her body and shirt are still wet. Up close to her friend, Julie senses strong body odor. For a moment, Julie also catches a whiff of something else: the smell of soot? Burning?

"I'm working a lot," Elizabeth says. "Working on myself."
"I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body," she gasped. "I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?" - The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby Mr. Handy » Sun Jul 01, 2018 5:50 am

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"Working on yourself?" asks Julie. "What do you mean by that?"
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby evil_scientist » Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:16 am

Elizabeth sits down on a crate. She turns her face away from Julie, and stares at the empty courtyard.

"I want to help others. You know that. But I cannot help others if I cannot help myself. I have to become stronger."

She turns back to Julie and smiles.

"I know, I know, I don't look strong. But this is just a stage."
"I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body," she gasped. "I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?" - The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby Mr. Handy » Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:52 am

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"A stage towards what?" asks Julie, concern on her face. "What's supposed to happen next?"
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby evil_scientist » Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:16 pm

Elizabeth turns to face the courtyard again.

"My rebirth," she says. "But I cannot talk about this, I'm sorry. I'm not supposed to talk about it."
"I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body," she gasped. "I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?" - The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby Mr. Handy » Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:13 am

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"I don't understand," says Julie. "Why can't you talk about it?"
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby evil_scientist » Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:03 am

"Well, exactly, you wouldn't understand!" Elizabeth says, with a hint of annoyance in her voice. Then she takes a deep breath, and reverts to the dreamy state she was in before. "At that stage, words fail us. Words cannot describe what's to come."
"I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body," she gasped. "I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?" - The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby Mr. Handy » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:29 am

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"I want to understand, Liz," says Julie. "Could you show me, walk me through it?"
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby evil_scientist » Wed Jul 04, 2018 2:05 pm

Elizabeth hesitates for a bit, then shakes her head.

"No. I'm sorry, but I cannot. There are steps... stages... one cannot be revealed without the other."

She covers her mouth with her palm and coughs. It's a strong, phlegmy cough.

"I need some water."

She stands up and steps inside the house.

"Do you, uh, want something? I can't really offer you anything, really. Water. Maybe there is some coffee."
"I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body," she gasped. "I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?" - The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 4a: Crossing the Threshold (Julie)

Postby Mr. Handy » Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:23 pm

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"Sure, thanks," says Julie, following her inside and looking around. "Coffee would really hit the spot."
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