Below we present the complete text of “The Family Curse”, episode 1 of our new Two Fisted Cosmic Horror serial; The Alchemist. This is a brand new (unpublished) series (featuring Antoine DuValier and Brigitte LeGrande). If you would like to see these new stories advance from being drafts into polished publications then please consider supporting us by purchasing one or more of our previously published titles (they’re only $25.99 (AUD), great value for a whole night of entertainment for 6 – 8 people). Every sale directly funds the production of new stories.
EPISODE #1 – THE FAMILY CURSE
by Philip Craig Robotham
Cover Illustration by Miyukiko
Copyright 2016 Philip Craig Robotham
Creative Commons Attritubution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Edition .
This play is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) International license. This play may not be commercially reproduced, performed, or sold. Non-commercial production, performance, and reproduction is allowed under this license so long as attribution is maintained. No derivative content or use is allowed. It can be freely shared in its current form (without change) under this license. If you would like to purchase one or more copies of this work (for your own personal non-commercial use, or to help financially support the author) then please return to http://www.weirdworlstudios.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Other works by this author can be found at the author’s website: http://www.weirdworldstudios.com or through select, online book retailers.
Serial #6: The Alchemist
Trent Stone and Tess Carter are approached by a young French count (Antoine DuValier) who, after the sudden death of his brother, is concerned that he has been cursed. He asks for their help and they travel to France where they meet his childhood friend (Brigitte LeGrande), encounter a spooky chateau, numerous attempts on Antoine’s life, and pursue an underlying mystery involving a centuries long quest for revenge. Can they unravel this mystery before the young count’s life is lost? Tune in thrill to the excitement of “The Alchemist” and find out for yourself.
Episodes in the Host Your Own “Old Time Radio Drama” series are designed to provide a fun dinner party experience for 6–8 participants. Read along, taking on the role of one or more of the characters in the story, and listen as the exciting drama unfolds. This is the theater of the mind, where the special effects are only limited by your imagination, and your participation will build a memory that you’ll treasure for years to come.
THE FAMILY CURSE
NARRATOR: The Narrator
TERESA CARTER: Our heroine and reporter
TRENT STONE: Our hero and adventurer
ANTOINE DuVALIER: COMTE of the CHATEAU DuVALIER
WAITER: A Waiter
PORTER: A French waiter
BRIGITTE LeGRANDE: Childhood friend of Antoines
DRIVER: Car driver who nearly crashes into Antoine
SFX: SFX operator (1 required)
SCENE 1: (INT) THE METRO RESTAURANT – STAR CITY (ANTOINE, TRENT, TESS, WAITER)
- MUSIC: OPENING THEME – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: RESTAURANT WALLA – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
- NARRATOR: Our fearless adventurers, Tess Carter and Trent Stone, somewhat to their surprise, find themselves meeting a young French Count, recently a student at Star City university, in one of the finest restaurants in town.
- ANTOINE: Ah, Monsieur Stone. I am so glad you could make it on such short notice. And Mademoiselle Carter, you are even more beautiful than I expected.
- TESS: Why thankyou. It’s such a rare pleasure to meet a man who knows how to talk to a lady.
- TRENT: Down, Tess. (TO ANTOINE) We could hardly refuse the offer of dinner at the most exclusive restaurant in town. It quite provoked our curiosity.
- ANTOINE: As was my intention, monsieur.
- TRENT: And the insistence of your friend, Howard Lovecraft, didn’t hurt. He’s made us promise to allow him to write the story – if indeed there is one to be written. Please, I’m Trent and this is Tess. We’d prefer to be a little less formal.
- ANTOINE: Of course. And you must call me Antoine. Please, be seated.
- TRENT AND TESS: Thankyou. Thanks.
- SOUND: CHAIRS SCRAPING AS ALL SIT – LET IT FINISH.
- TESS: I don’t believe I’ve ever met a genuine French Count before. You’ll forgive me if I thought you’d be… er, well,… a little older.
- ANTOINE: Ah! Yes, I guess I do appear rather young to have inherited the title… (DARKLY) though it is not uncommon in my family. It belonged to my brother, Gaspard, who died a few short months ago…
- TESS: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. My condolences for your loss.
- ANTOINE: Thankyou. As it happens this is the main reason for my desire to speak with you. You see, I am the last of my line, Comte Antoine DuValier of the Chateau DuValier. It is an old house with an old history. The… er,… castle, I think you call it, has been attacked many times over the centuries, defying Barons, Counts, and even Kings, but never once has its halls resounded to the footsteps of an invader…
- TRENT: A proud lineage, to be sure, but…
- WAITER: Would you care to order at this time, sirs… madame?
- TESS: Madame? Why you…
- SOUND: SCRAPE OF CHAIR – UNDER.
- TRENT: Easy, Tess. (TO THE WAITER) You’ll have to pardon my companion, she doesn’t take terribly well to being called “madame”.
- WAITER: Oh, I apologise… Mademoiselle, is it? Please forgive the mis-step.
- TESS: (SIGHS) Oh, it’s alright. Perhaps we should let the Count, I mean Antoine, order for us. What do you say Trent? We are his guests after all.
- ANTOINE: Hmmm? Oh, of course. We will have the Chicken Chasseur, I think.
- TRENT: That sounds fine.
- WAITER: Very good, sir.
- SOUND: WAITER DEPARTS – UNDER.
- TRENT: Now, about the purpose of your visit?
- ANTOINE: (BEAT)
- TRENT: Antoine?
- ANTOINE: I am sorry, Trent. English is not my mother tongue and it is not an easy tale to tell. A friend at the university suggested I speak with you. Howard Lovecraft? You mentioned him earlier?
- TESS: Oh, yes. He’s an interesting young editor we met a few months ago at the Mayoral reception. The poor boy was positively terrified to find himself amongst all those swells and society types. We took pity on him and invited him to our table. He was actually quite an engaging, if morbid, talker, once we got past his shyness.
- ANTOINE: Yes, he was very much a fish out of water that night.
- TESS: You were there? I don’t believe we met.
- ANTOINE: No, we didn’t. It was the night I received word of my brother’s death. Howard was my guest, but I departed early, insisting Howard stay behind and enjoy himself. It was a sign of my muddled frame of mind that I entertained, even for an instant, the notion that one as introverted as Howard would find such an evening anything less than a torment.
- TESS: Yes, you did him no favours that night.
- ANTOINE: Ah, but it is just as well, for if I had not left him behind, he would not have met you, and we would not now be here talking tonight.
- TRENT: And around we come again, by circuitous route, to the reason for this meeting.
- ANTOINE: Forgive me. Perhaps it would be best if I begin at the beginning… with a story of my ancestry. You see, the reason I have asked you here tonight… the reason I am asking your aid concerns an ages old curse designed to take the life of the sons of my house before their thirty-second birthday.
- TRENT: A curse, you say? Antoine, I believe you now have our undivided attention.
- ANTOINE: My ancestors, at least my male ancestors, have all died young, every last one of them, dating back to medieval times. It would be something of a local joke, if it were not actually taken so seriously. The villagers refer darkly to the “DuValier Curse” and cross themselves.
- TESS: But surely local superstition isn’t…
- ANTOINE: You are right, of course. The locals are superstitious, and could easily be ignored on most subjects, but the facts of history are against us. With no male member of my family surviving beyond the age of thirty two, we are a house stained with grief, and it is hard to dispel the rumours.
- TRENT: Rumours?
- ANTOINE: Nothing concrete of course. Just the usual village gossip. A local sorcerer supposedly cursed my family in ages past. No specifics. The stuff of long forgotten local legend.
- TRENT: I see. And do you believe in this curse?
- ANTOINE: I never have. My brother and I always scoffed at it. We were determined we would outlive the curse and show it to be nonsense.
- TRENT: And now?
- ANTOINE: Now? No. I still do not believe in it, not really. Gaspard’s death has shaken me, I admit. He was the picture of health and his death came so suddenly.
- TESS: Please, I know it’s hard, but could you tell us the circumstances surrounding your brother’s death?
- ANTOINE: Of course. Our father died when I was but an infant. He was killed in a hunting accident. My mother died bringing me into the world, but the local gossips say she died of a broken heart at the loss of my father and that my birth just furnished the excuse she needed to let go of her body.
- TESS: How cruel. I’d like to give your local gossips a piece of my mind, I think.
- ANTOINE: It matters little now, it is all in the past. My older brother and I were raised by the family retainer, Pierre. He was a kindly man, good natured and firm. He raised us well. My brother wore the title of Comte from before the age of four. He was compelled by the duties associated with the estate to remain at home while I have had the opportunity to come and study here in America – I made the acquaintance of Howard at the Star City University. I know little enough about Gaspard’s death beyond the fact that he died sitting at his desk working on the accounts. He was found by Pierre, and, from all reports, there was not a mark upon him. He had simply died. The coroner reported it as a natural death, more, I believe, from mystification than any real ability to fathom the cause of it.
- TRENT: And this hasn’t altered your opinion regarding the curse?
- ANTOINE: It has not.
- TESS: Then forgive me, I don’t quite see…
- ANTOINE: It is Howard’s idea, actually. He is not as convinced as I am. Pierre, our retainer, has died and I must, once again, return home – first for the funeral and then to stay on. The estate is now untenanted and will quickly fall into disrepair. When last I returned, for Gaspard’s funeral, I didn’t even go up to the Chateau. It was just before my final examinations so, needless to say, my visit was kept as short as propriety would allow. Since my return to America I have been postponing my return home, leaving the running of the estate in the hands of Pierre. Now that he is gone… well, the last excuse I have to avoid the estate has disappeared with him.
- TESS: Are you truly so afraid of the place?
- ANTOINE: No, not afraid. But it is full of memories of Gaspard and now Pierre, and it will seem very sad and lonely after experiencing the excitement, stimulation and social life of Star City and its university. The chateau is situated in a very provincial and rural community. I am going to miss it here.
- TRENT: I see.
- ANTOINE: No, I do not fear returning. But, Howard does fear for me. He is convinced there are forces in the universe that we would do well to be cautious about, and suggested I ask you to accompany me on my return. I am now independently wealthy and, with any luck, you will be able to return here having enjoyed a very pleasant holiday. If Howard’s fears are founded, which I am sure they are not, and it turns out that my life is genuinely under threat from an ancient curse, then your expertise in such matters may come in quite handy.
- TRENT: You say none of the male members of your family have ever lived to see their thirty second birthday. How long, if I may ask, do you…
- ANTOINE: I will be thirty two in two and a half weeks time. I know the notice is short but…
- TRENT: Well, Tess? What do you say?
- TESS: Hot Dog! A chance at seeing Paris in the springtime? Do you even have to ask?
- TRENT: Well, monsieur Le Comte, we would be glad to accompany you on your return home. We’ve been in need of a holiday and, while I share your scepticism about the curse, there really are some features of your story that interest me.
- ANTOINE: Wonderful. I am very glad to hear it… and, but look, here comes our dinner…
- WAITER: Monsieurs and Mademoiselle, forgive the interruption but your dinner is served.
- SOUND: CLINKING OF CUTLERY ETC. AS FOOD IS PLACED ON THE TABLE – FADE OUT.
- MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 2: (EXT) TRAIN PLATFORM – MID AFTERNOON (PORTER, ANTOINE)
- SOUND: (WALLA) BUSTLING TRAIN STATION.
- ANTOINE: Well, here we are. This is the village nearest my home.
- TESS: Can we see the chateau from here?
- ANTOINE: No, not from here. It is just beyond that line of hills, at the base of the mountains. It’s out of sight, but not that far really. You’ll see it soon enough.
- PORTER: Monsieur Le Comte? Ah, I thought it was you. Welcome home! Welcome home. You look fit and well.
- ANTOINE: Ah, Ronsard, it is good to be home… I think…
- PORTER: Yes, we were all sorry to hear of Pierre’s death. He has looked after you and your family for so long. The news of his heart failure came as a shock to all of us. Shall I arrange for rooms here in the village? Mademoiselle Brigitte is waiting for you in the annex. I will take your bags.
- ANTOINE: Stop fussing, Ronsard. I can carry my own bags… and I did not expect to find Brigitte here. Though you might ask after my guests. This is Mademoiselle Tess Carter and Monsieur Trent Stone.
- PORTER: Of course, I apologise. Can I see to your luggage?
- TRENT: No, no. That’s fine. If the Comte can manage his own bags, then we can do the same.
- PORTER: As you wish Monsieur.
- ANTOINE: Did Brigitte return for the funeral?
- PORTER: Yes, she arrived this morning. She loved Pierre, dearly.
- ANTOINE: Yes, she did. As for where I am staying. I will go to the chateau, of course.
- PORTER: But sir?
- ANTOINE: No, Ronsard. This superstition of yours is nonsense and needs to be laid to rest. I am in the peak of health and I have nothing to fear. I am returning to the Chateau for the duration my stay.
- PORTER: (Fearful) Then at least stay in the village this evening. The bank is closed and there are documents being held there for you.
- ANTOINE: Documents? What documents? And how is it that I am hearing this from you?
- PORTER: I mean no disrespect Monsieur Le Comte, but when Pierre died, he was with us at the Barrel and Biscuit. There were papers on his person and instructions for you. We lodged them with the bank.
- ANTOINE: I see. Very well, there is nothing for it. It looks like we will be staying here overnight after all.
- PORTER: Very good monsieur.
- ANTOINE: Now, lead on. I am eager to see Brigitte.
- SOUND: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 3: (INT) THE ANNEX (BRIGITTE, ANTOINE)
- SOUND: DOOR OPENS – FOOTSTEPS ON WOODEN FLOOR – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- BRIGITTE: Antoine! Antoine, it is so good to see you. How was your trip? Are you surprised to see me?
- ANTOINE: Brigitte. The chance is a happy one, but no, I am not surprised. Ronsard let the cat out of the bag.
- BRIGITTE: Oh, that Ronsard. He is such a gossip. Worse even than my Aunt Mimi.
- ANTOINE: And how is your aunt? Keeping well, I hope?
- BRIGITTE: Of course. She finds the world far too interesting to ever die. She tells me she has yet to discover a third of the things she wishes to know before her end. She is decided on the matter. She will not die until she has learned all the things she wishes. Fiat!
- ANTOINE: It would appear to be a worthy ambition, if I didn’t know that most of those things involved the doings of her neighbours.
- BRIGITTE: (MOCK SADNESS) (SIGHS) Too true. (BEAT) Well, the car is outside and it is a beautiful afternoon. Would you like me to drive you out to the Chateau?
- ANTOINE: No, thankyou. I am staying in the village tonight… oh, and I had best introduce my companions.
- BRIGITTE: Oh? I’m terribly sorry. I must seem awfully rude, ignoring you like this. I am Brigitte Le Grande. How do you do?
- TESS: Hi, I’m Tess and the large hat-rack in a suit over there is Trent.
- TRENT: Be nice, Tess.
- BRIGITTE: Clearly, I’m among friends. I hope I’m not intruding.
- ANTOINE: Not at all. But I’m afraid you’ve wasted a trip if you hope to take us to the chateau.
- BRIGITTE: Oh, Antoine, you haven’t started believing that silly nonsense about the curse, have you?
- ANTOINE: (AFFRONTED) Of course not. There are some papers I need to recover from the bank, so I am simply staying overnight. (BEAT) Actually, why don’t you join us? You can help me check in, and then we can visit the old cafes and haunts of our youth while you bring me up to date on all the news.
- BRIGITTE: Marvellous.
- MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 4: (EXT) SIDEWALK CAFE (TESS, BRIGITTE, ANTOINE, TRENT, DRIVER)
- SOUND: OUTDOOR CAFE – BIRDS TWEET – OCCASIONAL TRAFFIC – PATRONS – CUTLERY ETC – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- TESS: So, how long have you two known each other?
- BRIGITTE: Oh, since I was in pigtails. We were neighbours… of a sort.
- ANTOINE: Brigitte lived on the farm closest to the lands bordering the chateau.
- BRIGITTE: But, truth be told, I was not there that often.
- ANTOINE: And well it was that you weren’t.
- TESS: Huh?
- BRIGITTE: I was abroad often, travelling with my mother, a famous sociologist. It meant that I didn’t soak up the local prejudices about Antoine and his brother.
- ANTOINE: As a result, each summer, Gaspard and I would have at least one playmate who was not afraid of us. At least until our teenage years.
- TRENT: Meaning?
- ANTOINE: Things went along just fine until Brigitte became smitten with my brother.
- BRIGITTE: Antoine!
- ANTOINE: In the space of a month she became unaccountably shy around Gaspard. She couldn’t speak a word in front of him without stammering and running away.
- BRIGITTE: I was young. I can still remember you making an idiot of yourself over Mimi at the patisserie. I felt like such a fool for believing you kept taking me there because of the sweet rolls.
- ANTOINE: (AHEM) Well… yes… I guess we don’t really need to bring up all of that, but Gaspard’s loss was my gain. Brigitte’s shyness resulted in her avoiding him and spending most of her time with me. We have been fast friends ever since.
- TESS: And Gaspard? He never realized your feelings for him?
- BRIGITTE: It was a crush. I grew out of it fairly quickly. But no, he never realized. As much as I thought I loved him, he was always very serious and far too interested in the management of the estate. It made him rather boring, truth be known.
- ANTOINE: Really? I never knew. I always thought that, well, if Gaspard ever wised up…
- BRIGITTE: I’m honestly not sure which one of you was the more stupid sometimes, Antoine.
- ANTOINE: Pardon?
- TRENT: Don’t let it bother you old man. We are all fairly thick when it comes to the fairer sex.
- TESS: I’ll say you are…
- ANTOINE: But… What? But… (BEAT) You know, I can’t help feeling I’ve missed something here.
- TESS: Yes, I’d say so. But I’m sure Brigitte and I can find a way to clue you in before too long. (TO BRIGITTE) Us girls have to stick together when it comes to dealing with our Neanderthal men-folk.
- TRENT: Oh no! You aren’t going to tar me with this particular brush, Tess.
- TESS: (TO BRIGITTE) Brigitte, later, when we’re out of earshot of the boys, I’ll tell you a story or two about the big lug and…
- SOUND: SCREECHING TIRES – UNDER.
- TRENT: Look out!
- SOUND: CRUNCH AND CRASH OF CAR INTO CAFE – LET IT FINISH.
- TRENT: Antoine, are you alright? That car nearly drove right over you.
- ANTOINE: Yes, yes. I am fine. Don’t fuss. I managed to get out of the way.
- SOUND: CAR DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES. RUNNING FEET – UNDER.
- DRIVER: Oh monsieur, mademoiselles, I am so sorry. My brakes, they have failed. Are you hurt?
- ANTOINE: We are all fine. Though I dare say you owe Gaston a new table… and a new window. What happened?
- DRIVER: Oh, it is you monsieur Le Comte. A thousand pardons. Please? Let me…
- ANTOINE: Alright. There is no need for that. But tell us, what happened? Are you okay?
- DRIVER: I’m fine. A little shaken perhaps. I do not know what happened. I lost control and the brakes failed.
- TESS: Hey Trent!
- TRENT: Tess? Where are you?
- TESS: Over here by the wreck. Someone’s cut the brake line.
- TRENT: What?
- MUSIC: OMINOUS SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
- MUSIC: CLOSING THEME AND CREDITS – LET IT FINISH.
CASTING SHEETS — MAJOR CHARACTERS
TRENT STONE: Hello, I’m Trent Stone, Adventurer. I’m always in command of the situation (except perhaps, when it comes to Tess — who can easily throw me for a loop). I say things like “indeed,” “hmmm,” and “I see” a lot, and speak in a way that friends of Clark Kent would find very familiar. I’m smart, observant, and quick to use my fists when required (but never impulsive). I sound like Joe College but I’m blue collar through and through. My lack of higher education is something of an embarrassment to me (but I’d never let on).
I’m aware of Tess’s urgency about tying the knot, but mostly I just ignore it and keep on working.
TERESA CARTER: Hiya. Everyone calls me Tess. I’m the take-no-prisoners sort who can hold her own in the man’s world that is the concrete jungle of Star City. I’m college educated but have a mean right hook. I’m a reporter by training and a stickybeak by inclination — this tends to get me in trouble. Curious, playful, and smart, that’s me! But I’m also painfully honest, easily moved by the troubles of others, and as protective as a tigress of my friends. Now that Trent’s owned up to his feelings about me and we’re engaged, it’s time to set a date. But Trent keeps dragging his feet. I’m not getting any younger, you know?
ANTOINE DuVALIER: Bonjour. I am the Comte du Chateau DuValier (Count of DuValier Castle) and I have discovered that the legendary curse, rumoured to have killed off every male heir to the title of my family estate for generations, is not so legendary after all. My brother is dead, and I am the last of my line. I must get to the bottom of this mystery before I, too, am overtaken by it.
BRIGITTE LeGRANDE: I am Brigitte LeGrande. I grew up with Antoine and his brother. Many years ago I loved the brother (though it was not reciprocated), but I was merely a child. It has been a great many years since that was true but Antoine has not realised how things have changed. Out of respect for his brother’s memory he resists seeing me as more than a friend. Still, I am patient. I am smart. I will help him deal with this, oh so ridiculous, curse. Then, we shall see what we shall see.
CASTING SHEETS — MINOR CHARACTERS
NARRATOR: Hello, I am your narrator. I introduce the cold stormy nights on which our stories take place, the dark alleys, and darker personalities who inhabit the lonely city. It is my job to set the scene and establish the serious tone of suspense and intrigue that will carry the story forwards. It is also my job to remind listeners of what came before in a calm, trustworthy voice and ensure that everyone is oriented to where we are and where we are going.
WAITER: I am a French waiter. I do my job with a touch of polite haughtiness.
PORTER: I am a French porter. I am a bit of a gossip, nosy, talkative, and friendly.
DRIVER: I am a local French car driver who nearly crashes into Antoine. I am shocked, apologetic, and very concerned for the near victim of the car crash.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Philip Craig Robotham grew up in a house full of books and has held numerous jobs as a teacher, computer programmer, graphic and web designer, e-learning consultant and, most recently, writer. He currently lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and two sons. When he was younger and fitter he enjoyed martial arts, but in recent years his hobbies have tended towards more sedate fare (board games, movies, books, and role-playing games).
He is extremely grateful for the encouragement he receives from his biggest fans — his wife and two boys — all of whom read and enjoy his scripts and in general make his life worth living.
You can contact the author regarding performance rights (or simply to say hello) through his website: http://www.weirdworldstudios.com.
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This post and all its content is copyright © 2013 Philip Craig Robotham and has been released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license. This play cannot be reproduced, shared, or performed commercially without the written permission of the author. The production of derivative content, merchandise, or creative works and materials is expressly forbidden under this agreement. However you may share, reproduce, and perform this play freely so long as authorship is acknowledged, no money changes hands, and the play is not modified in any way.