All of the words said out loud for S03E13 of Audio Drama Debut, my podcast showcasing new audio drama, fiction and RPG trailers.
F/X - The background sounds of a rainy camping site.
The Librarian: Hello there. Welcome to my tent! I know it's a bit snug, being only a one man tent, but since you're the only other person here, I'm sure we can cope. If you want to help yourself to some porridge, the gas stove is just behind you. I had some early problems with carbon monoxide, but I think I've fixed it.
This is very exciting, as it's the first time the Library of Audio Fiction has been represented at the Fridge, and they've let me organise everything!
Unfortunately, I only realised that I was meant to be organising everything last week, so I wasn't able to book any local accommodation that wouldn't have cost me a kidney. Which is why you find me here, at one of Edinburgh's famously midge free and beautifully sunny camping sites.
F/X - Boom of thunder.
It's apparently also why all the theatres I tried to book didn't have any spaces. Somewhere called The Pleasance was tremendously rude about it. Not heard that many swear words from an usher since I said Love in This Club was terrible.
So I've been doing my performances from this tent. Admittedly that has limited potential audience sizes more than I might like, but strangely that hasn't been too big of a problem. Honestly, I expected more people to find me - I'm very close to Hope Street, where The Theatre Royal is and I thought there'd be some spillover.
I think part of the problem might be that I've not managed to hand out many flyers. I was trying to be environmentally friendly, so I got everything printed on rice paper. Unfortunately I hadn't accounted for the weather in all cases, so there was a slight problem when I got caught in a shower.
It was perfectly innocent, she just took pity on me for being so soaked, but when her boyfriend turned up I had to make a quick exit, and I dropped all the leaflets in the street.
Still, I've had the occasional visit, even if they're mostly lost on the way to the tap, and I've done my best to present trailers before they can run away. Speaking of, I've got four all ready to go - would you like a listen?
First, Badlands Cola. In a desert town full of strange fossils and even stranger people, a hard-hearted PI and a broken-down radio DJ attempt to dig up the skeletal past of a cult before it can reform.
[CLIP - Badlands Cola | A Strange Audio Drama]
F/X - EXT. BADLANDS - NIGHT - Two friends, STRATHCONA and HAWTHORNE sit in rickety old camping chairs, faces turned up to the stars as they sip cola and listen to the sounds of the night: INSECTS gently whirring, a slow BREEZE stirring the sandy soil, and then the yip of a COYOTE.
F/X - The COYOTE makes no more sound, the desert night emptying out until a faint HOOT of a owl cuts softly through the arid dark.
Strathcona: That’s an owl.
Hawthorne: Mm. What kind, do you think? Oh, you know how my hearing is these days.
F/X - STRATHCONA waits, straining to hear the second HOOT.
Strathcona: Barn? Maybe?
Hawthorne: “Maybe?” When did you get so rusty?
Strathcona: Hawthorne, I love you like my own mother, but I don’t drag myself out into the middle of the badlands at 2am just to ID owl calls, okay? We’re here to sit in shitty folding chairs, get a buzz off bottles of expired pop, and think about how we’re all made of stardust or dinosaur bones or whatever.
Hawthorne: If you say so. But I say: once a park warden, always a park warden.
Strathcona: I’m not a park warden anymore, really can’t stress that enough. And neither are you, even if you do insist on turning every outing into a biodiversity survey.
Hawthorne: I know. Don’t you ever miss it though?
Strathcona: (Effort: Heaves a heavy sigh)
Hawthorne: Strathcona, sweetheart. You know you’re still allowed to have good memories, right?
Strathcona: (Ignoring HAWTHORNE) Your cola’s almost empty, I’ll grab you a refill.
Hawthorne: No, I’ll go. You stay put. And keep an ear out for more owls. Preferably ones you can identify.
F/X - HAWTHORNE’s FOOTSTEPS crunch away. In the intervening SILENCE, STRATHCONA listens and watches idly, until another swooping HOOT is heard, this one different from before.
Strathcona: (Voice slightly raised so HAWTHORNE can hear) There’s one. Still have no idea what kind. (Pause) Hawthorne?
F/X - STRATHCONA’s chair squeaks as he turns to look around. The SILENCE thickens, tense music throbbing up beneath the eerily CALM nightscape as STRATHCONA’s worry rises...
Strathcona: (Calling out) Hawthorne? Hey, Hawthorne!
F/X - STRATHCONA’s chair SQUEAKS as he abruptly stands, cola bottle SLOSHING and SPILLING in the sand as he rapidly circles the area, already in a worried haze…
Strathcona: Shit, no. No, no, no, come on…
Until the tension hits its unbearable peak, and HAWTHORNE suddenly appears, not ten steps away.
Hawthorne: (Rattled) I’m here. I’m here.
Strathcona: It happened again, didn’t it?
Hawthorne: (Grim) Yes. And it’s getting worse.
FADE TO BLACK.
MUSIC - “FEW COLOURS” BY OTNO. An ominous, building track featuring a wary electric guitar and the keens of a theremin.
F/X - A dead sound from an era of forgotten tech; the CLICK and WHIR of a VHS tape.
Jasper Moon: Badlands Cola is a cinematic thriller mystery audio fiction podcast about eldritch fossils, hate-flirting, and liminal nightmares that yawn wide in the desert night. Premiering June 21st, 2022 wherever podcasts are found, with new episodes every other week. I’ll see you there. You won’t see me.
F/X - The tape runs out, CLICKS into silence.
The Librarian: Then, Quest of Ruin, a fortnightly dark fantasy podcast set on the fictional world of Toor, following a band of rag-tag adventurers as they try to survive the world left over after the War of Destruction. Join Laethar the embittered elven warrior, Yaela the fae ranger trying to keep things together, Balink the pyromaniac goblin, Aiolin the studious orc scholar and Vurieth, an ashlander mage out to discover the world, as they encounter friends and foes, monsters and strange artefacts, wonders and ghosts from the past. You will not be alone, for also witnessing these adventures will be a group of players, blissfully unaware that their role-playing game, and their Game Master, are more than they seem.
[CLIP - Quest of Ruin]
MUSIC - Quest of Ruin credits theme plays, before fading out to the sounds of battle, screams, and Yaela, who is running through foliage
Yaela: Oh, spirits! Please, no. No… No… Oh, please still be alive.
F/X - She pushes past some bushes, before slowing to a stop.
Yaela: Oh, thank goodness!
F/X - A sword is being sharpened with a whetstone, the sounds of battle continue in the background.
Laethar: Oh yes. Thank goodness. Thank goodness that I failed.
Yaela: Don’t say that! You did what you could. We all did what we could.
Laethar: And it wasn’t enough, was it? Look out there! The Harbinger has won. All those people dead… Because of me-
Yaela: No! Don’t you dare think that! You couldn’t have known.
Laethar: But I’m not wrong, am I? If I hadn’t… if he hadn’t-
Yaela: If you hadn’t!? Think about what you’re saying. It was the only choice. If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t be standing here right now, none of the people who followed us would be alive.
Laethar: Oh yes, I clearly did them a great service.
F/X - They pause. Screams can still be heard in the background. The Horde are laughing.
Yaela: Alright. We failed. Look at me! WE failed - both of us! And there’s nothing we can do now. It’s over. The only thing we can do is plan for what’s next.
Laethar: N-ne…? There is no “next”! This is the end, it’s over!
Yaela: This is over. But think about it. All these years and the Horde has never advanced to the east. Lhain, the Ashen Plains, those lands are still safe… more or less.
Laethar: More or less?
Yaela: Well, nowhere’s going to be completely safe. But out there? Maybe…
Laethar: But why woul-
Yaela: We should move. They’re going to get bored soon, and they’re going to start looking for survivors.
Laethar: If there are any.
Yaela: Quite a few got away actually. My bet is they’ve had the same idea I did. Now come on.
Laethar: (sigh) Alright.
F/X - They both start to move, pushing through foliage. The Horde marches in the background.
Laethar: So, what do we do?
Yaela: What do you mean?
Laethar: I mean, we get to the eastern lands, and then what?
Yaela: Then we survive. There’s always work for people like us. We find that work, work that pays, and we use that to keep going. We keep out of the Harbinger’s way, and we just… we survive.
Laethar: And that really is the best we can try for.
Yaela: Come on. We have a long way to go.
MUSIC - Quest of Ruin main theme plays
Announcer: Quest of Ruin. A fortnightly dark fantasy podcast by Scroll and Dagger. Coming soon.
The Librarian: And Reclaimed Detroit, which tells the stories of several vampires living in Detroit after the Camarilla retook the city from the vicious Sabbat. Set in 1996 in the world of Vampire The Masquerade, Reclaimed Detroit is a show about justice, revenge, control, survival, and finding ones place in a society of Kindred.
[CLIP - Reclaimed Detroit: A Vampire the Masquerade Audio Drama]
The Librarian: And finally, Newts! A sea captain barges into the office of a shipping merchant, dragging in a barrel of water. He’s here on business, with a humble proposition. He opens the lid and reveals a newt. Inspired by the work of Czech science fiction pioneer Karel Čapek, Newts! chronicles an alternate history of the 20th Century in which the western world discovers, exploits, educates, arms, and is ultimately overthrown by a species of highly intelligent amphibians.
[CLIP - Newts!]
The Librarian: And that's that. If you want to catch any more events, I've got the full schedule on the twitter, @AudioDramaDebut, but I'd recommend you move on now, as I'm running the parent and child slot next.