Below we present the complete text of “Decisions for the Dead”, episode 5 of our new Weird Western; Where Death Comes Uninvited. This is a brand new (unpublished) series (featuring a brand new roster of heroes including Jim Wilkes – the Sheriff, Annie Deems – the Crack Shot, Speeding Elk – the Tracker, and Sally Turner – the Gambler). 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. Every sale directly funds the production of new stories.
Where Death Comes Uninvited
EPISODE #5 – DECISIONS FOR THE DEAD
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 #1: Where Death Comes Uninvited
Jim Wilkes, former U.S Marshall, drifts into town to become the new Sheriff, but all is not as it should be. When he arrives, the town is in mourning, many of its children having been killed in a fire at the schoolhouse/church. He greets a wall of suspicion against outsiders, the spectre of multiple unsolved murders, strange and unnatural events, and a saloon keeper that seems to rule the town with an iron fist. In his quest to confront the evil power behind the town he must recruit allies, discover the frightening source of the towns wealth, prevent an indian war, and pass through death itself. Can he do so before death has a chance to claim the entire town?
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.
Where Death Comes Uninvited
NARRATOR: The Narrator
JIM WILKES: Sheriff of Liberty Gulch
DAN WILSON: Mayor of Liberty Gulch
CROW’S SHADOW: Medicine Man
ANNIE DEEMS: Undead Store Owner and Crack Shot
SPEEDING ELK: Undead Indian Brave
SALLY TURNER: Undead Gambler
PRISONER #1: Townsfolk
PRISONER #2: Townsfolk
SFX: SFX operator (1 required)
SCENE 19: INT – JAIL CELL IN LIBERTY – SOME TIME LATER (DAN, JIM, ANNIE, PRISONER #1, PRISONERS)
- MUSIC: OPENING THEME – LET IT FINISH.
- NARRATOR: Jim Wilkes, the new Sherriff of Liberty Gulch has returned to town after nearly being killed by the shape-shifting mayor, only to find it over-run by townsfolk with strange silver eyes. He and his deputy, Abe, are both knocked out before they can take action to protect themselves.
- SOUND: CLANG OF JAIL-CELL DOOR SLAMMING SHUT, LOCK BEING TURNED – LET IT FINISH.
- JIM: (GROANING) Ugh! Where am I?
- ANNIE: Easy now. You’re in the Town Jail. Again. Only this time I’m stuck in here with you. Well, me and a few others.
- DAN: But not me. (BEAT) Surprise.
- JIM: (SLIGHTLY GROGGY) What did you do to the townsfolk?
- DAN: Oh, they’re dead. The cursed rock killed ’em and gave their bodies over to my minions.
- ANNIE: What in tarnation are you talkin’ about, Dan? Are you loco or some such?
- DAN: Oh, I think the Sheriff knows what I mean Annie. He’s got that little do-dad around his neck from the medicine man, Crow’s Shadow. That tells me they’ve been having a little chat and I’m sure he was filled in.
- JIM: (INTERRUPTING) I’m still not sure I believe any of it.
- DAN: “Oh ye of little faith”. Well, you sure should believe it. There ain’t a person in this town, aside from the few we got locked up, who’s still alive. They’re walking around alright, but my minions are pulling the strings. Just a bunch o’ meat puppets under the control of evil spirits.
- JIM: So I’m supposed to believe they’re skin-walkers like you.
- DAN: Well, I don’t s’pose they’re much like me really. I’m strong and they’re just my servants. But, yes, they’re skin walkers too. And yes, I s’pose we wouldn’t really characterise ourselves as evil spirits either. But we are from the other side and we do mean you harm (individually and collectively). From your point, at least, of view the label fits.
- JIM: You seem mighty pleased with yourself Dan.
- DAN: And why not? My experiment worked. The cursed rock forms a gateway between our world and yours. I just have to hand the stuff out and people start dying, replaced by… well, us. And no-one even picks it until it’s too late. Why don’t you join us, Jim? You might even like it.
- JIM: After you’ve told me the people they was is dead. You don’t think I’d really buy into a bargain like that do you?
- DAN: I guess not. It was worth a shot though. We get to keep all those fine skills and abilities you folk have when we take over. But only if you accept the rock willingly. Something goes wrong with the change if we try to force it on you.
- JIM: What about them silver eyes? You ain’t gonna get very far with your “followers” looking like that are you?
- DAN: Perhaps not, But fortunately for me the silver only lasts for a couple o’ days after the change. Of course, I’ll still have to do something about that for my plan to work in high population districts. But I’ve heard of a fellow back East who makes spectacles with shaded lenses that are becoming quite fashionable. I reckon my servants can hide out using them until the change is over.
- JIM: And is that your plan – to take over people until you’re in charge?
- DAN: That about sums it up.
- JIM: I don’t think you’ve got enough rock out there to subdue the entire nation.
- DAN: And of course, you’d be right about that. If my plan was to see every man woman and child in the country possessed, it’d certainly take a lot more o’ this rock than I have here. Even given that I can use the same pieces over and over again. No, I intend to be very selective about who I infect. Senators, Congressmen, Generals, men of industry, and, of course, the President himself. I don’t have to take over everybody to subdue the nation. To make this country a habitation fit for my kind I only need to take over those who are already in charge.
- ANNIE: You’re insane. This whole thing is insane. Are you telling me the five or six of us you’ve locked in this jail are all that’s left of our entire town?
- DAN: That’s right. But don’t you worry none. You’ve proved really difficult to kill up til now, Annie. That bullet Leach got off at you three months ago should’ve done the trick. He was sure he’d killed you when that horse of yours came wandering back into town, but then you came walking back, bold as brass, talking about being ambushed on the trail. It’s a lucky thing your horse spooked and threw you off when Leach fired or you’d have died back then. But now your luck’s run out.
- ANNIE: I ain’t afraid of the likes of you or your threats.
- DAN: No? Take a look out that barred window yonder. See that woodwork going up in the town square? That’s for you missy. You and the rest of these here “resistors”. You’re all gonna be hung and we’re all gonna watch. You’ll be the sacrifice we need to seal our place in this world – like them chill’n was the sacrifice we needed to bring ‘em in here in the first place.
- ANNIE: You’re an animal!
- DAN: Not even close. Animal, vegetable, mineral? None of them labels apply to the likes of me or mine. (BEAT) Well, I’ve still got a fair bit to do so (BEAT) I’ll be seeing you. Bwahahahaha.
- SOUND: DAN’S BOOTS (AND LAUGHTER) RECEDE INTO THE DISTANCE AND THE DOOR SLAMS – LET IT FINISH.
- JIM: My head’s still spinning a little Annie. Do you happen to know where they put Abe?
- ANNIE: Abe’s dead, Sheriff. He took a bullet in the gut and fell in the street. Then they put one in his head. You, they wanted alive.
- JIM: For this sacrifice, I take it?
- ANNIE: That sounds about right? You believe any of this mumbo-jumbo?
- JIM: I’ve seen some things in the last few days that have turned my world on its side, Annie. I’m not gonna even begin to speculate. (BEAT)
- Tell me how you ended up in here. Why didn’t you take some o’ that cursed rock?
- ANNIE: It looks mighty shiny, don’t it? But I know better than to accept anything from the mayor’s hand. When he brought that wagon into town and started offering people the chance to have a piece, they came running. The few of us who weren’t interested watched as they started to change. Their eyes turned silver and the Mayor started laughing. Next thing you know they was everywhere, handing out that rock, and grabbing people that refused. Half a dozen of us they locked in here, but the rest they killed outright.
- JIM: Well, we need to get ourselves out of here before whatever comes next.
- ANNIE: This is the town jail, Sheriff. There’s no way outta here without a key… and the mayor’s got yours.
- JIM: That may be so, but there’s more’n one key to fit most doors and I carry a skeleton key in my boot.
- ANNIE: Well, hot damn! What’re we waiting for!
- JIM: Are the Sheriff’s rifles still in back.
- ANNIE: I suppose, but if these folk are already dead, I doubt they’ll be much use.
- JIM: There’ll be enough shot-guns and rifles for all of us. Aim for the head. I’m pretty sure these things need our bodies to be in working order. A head shot should put paid to that.
- ANNIE: I guess it’s worth a try. What’s the plan.
- JIM: It ain’t much a one, I’ll admit. But I think our best bet is for you to get the survivors out o’ here while I try and create enough mayhem to keep ’em all distracted.
- ANNIE: Not a chance. This is our town. We ain’t just gonna give it up without a fight.
- PRISONERS: (MURMURS OF ASSENT)
- JIM: It’s your town alright. And the people out there are your friends and neighbours. Do you really think you can face ’em.
- PRISONER #1: They was our friends and neighbours. Now they’re some’t else and they’d want us to put ’em at rest.
- ANNIE: (TO JIM) Well, what do you think?
- JIM: It might be leading you all straight to your deaths. I’ll only do it if’n you’re all in agreement.
- ANNIE: Stop trying to take responsibility for everything all the time. We can make our own choices, cain’t we?
- PRISONERS: (MURMURS OF ASSENT)
- JIM: All right then…
- SOUND: KEY TURNING IN LOCK, SCRAPE OF DOOR.
- JIM: …grab them rifles and let’s go raze some hell!
- MUSIC: (BRIDGE) OMINOUS SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 20: EXT – MAIN STREET OF LIBERTY – EVENING (PRISONER #2, JIM, DAN, ANNIE)
- SOUND: LOTS OF GUN FIRE FROM OUR HEROES (AND YELLING FROM POSSESSED TOWNSFOLK GETTING SHOT) FINALLY COMING TO A HALT- LET IT FINISH.
- PRISONER #2: (SOBBING) They just kept coming at us. Right down the main street. They weren’t even armed.
- JIM: They would have torn us to pieces if they had reached us, though. Remember, your mayor is the bad guy… and these people were dead long before our bullets hit them.
- DAN: (FROM A DISTANCE) That won’t stop you from being blamed for this massacre though. No-one’s gonna believe you didn’t murder the folks of this here town in cold blood.
- ANNIE: (STAGE WHISPER) He’s up on the second floor of the saloon.
- JIM: (STAGE WHISPER) I see him.
- PRISONER #2: He’s set us up!
- DAN: (FROM A DISTANCE) You bet. Whether you win here today or not, you’ll never be able to show your faces this side of the Mexican line ever again. And even then, you’ll never be able to sit without your backs against a wall. I’ve seen to that.
- ANNIE: You cowardly son of a…
- DAN: (FROM A DISTANCE) Now, now, Annie. No need to go getting unladylike. But then again, I guess they’ll be willing to hang you right alongside the men-folk.
- JIM: How are you planning to get out of this Dan. I’m pretty sure that you’re as vulnerable to a head shot as your minions were.
- DAN: (FROM A DISTANCE) Maybe. Maybe not. That’s yet to be tested. I tell you what though. I’ll make it sporting for you. Come on inside and charge up the saloon stairs. If you make it to the top alive I’ll let you see if that’s true or not.
- ANNIE: (STAGE WHISPER) Sounds like he’s ready for us.
- JIM: (STAGE WHISPER) I’d say so. (BEAT) Clem?
- PRISONER #2: (STAGE WHISPER) Yeah.
- JIM: (STAGE WHISPER) Think you can get a hold of yourself long enough to take some of the others and gather up any lanterns you can find around town?
- PRISONER #2: (STAGE WHISPER) Sure, Sheriff. Anything you say.
- JIM: (STAGE WHISPER) Good. Get to it and bring them back here.
- SOUND: RUNNING FOOTSTEPS – FADE OUT
- ANNIE: (STAGE WHISPER) What you got in mind?
- DAN: (TAUNTING) If you fine folks are planning on storming this here saloon o’ mine, come on ahead. I should tell you, though, I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve.
- JIM: We’ve seen some of your tricks already and I’m not inclined to witness any more just yet.
- SOUND: RUNNING FEET AND CLANKING OF LANTERNS – LET IT FINISH.
- PRISONER #2: (STAGE WHISPER) Sheriff? We’re back.
- JIM: (STAGE WHISPER) Good. Let’s get under that awning over there and get them alight. Are they mostly full of oil?
- PRISONER #2: (STAGE WHISPER) Yes Sir. Are you planning on burning him out.
- JIM: (STAGE WHISPER) He’s too dangerous to face directly.
- SOUND: MATCH BEING STRUCK, SOUND OF OIL LANTERN FIRING UP – LET IT FINISH.
- DAN: (FROM A DISTANCE) Now Don’t think I don’t know where you are just because you’ve gone under cover. I can wait you out. I don’t have to eat or sleep. I’ll outlast you by a century.
- JIM: Alright. They’re lit. Throw them through the windows. Now!
- SOUND: SMASHING OF GLASS.
- SOUND: SOUND OF FLAMES TAKING HOLD. ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
- JIM: How’s that Mr Mayor? Can you outlast a fire?
- SOUND: LOUD ROAR OF A BEAST. – LET IT FINISH.
- ANNIE: (FEARFUL) What was that?
- JIM: I think he just changed form.
- SOUND: MORE ROARING AND CRASHING (GETTING CLOSER) – LET IT FINISH.
- ANNIE: He what?
- JIM: He’s a shapeshifter. At least according to the medicine man who gave me this amulet. (BEAT) Now get your guns ready I think he’s gonna come crashing out o’ the saloon any…
- SOUND: SMASHING SOUND OF WOODWORK AND GLASS SPLINTERING FOLLOWED BY GROWLS. – LET IT FINISH.
- PRISONER #2: It looks like a giant Mountain Lion. And it’s on fire!
- ANNIE: Don’t just stand there, start firing.
- SOUND: BULLETS FLYING, ANIMAL GROWLING AND SNARLING.
- PRISONER #2: Sheriff, look out! It’s heading right for you.
- SOUND: A ROAR AND A WET TEARING SOUND. BODY OF SHERIFF DROPS – LET IT FINISH.
- ANNIE: Don’t stop firing. It’s getting away.
- SOUND: GROWLS AND ROARS FADING INTO THE DISTANCE AS SHOTS TRAIL OFF – LET IT FINISH.
- PRISONER #2: Oh no! The Sheriff.
- ANNIE: What? Oh no! Sheriff? Sheriff? Sheriff, can you hear me? Jim?
- PRISONER #2: Damned if it hasn’t ripped his throat out.
- ANNIE: (BEGINNING TO SOB AND FADING OUT) No. Not now. Not like this!
- MUSIC: (BRIDGE) MOURNFUL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 21: INT – CROW’S SHADOW’S TENT – DAWN (ANNIE, CROW’S SHADOW, JIM, SPEEDING ELK, SALLY TURNER)
- SOUND: (WALLA) DISTANT CHANTING, INDIAN DRUMS – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
- ANNIE: Damn it, Crow’s Shadow. Don’t do this. It ain’t fair to bring him back. ‘Specially when he couldn’t keep so many others alive. Let him go.
- CROW’S SHADOW: It not your decision. He is marked by destiny. He is the one we have waited for. The last of you to arrive. With him you can defeat the skin walker.
- ANNIE: But you don’t know what it’s been like these last few months. Let him rest.
- CROW’S SHADOW: No. He returns. Look.
- JIM: (COUGHING) What happened? Did I get hit on the head again? Did we get the Mayor?
- ANNIE: Easy Sheriff. The town’s been burned to the ground and all the bodies with it. We’ve seen to that. The mayor got away when he burst out of the saloon and you’ve been dead most of the day.
- JIM: I’ve been what?
- ANNIE: You’ve been dead. The medicine man has brought you back like he done for the rest of us.
- JIM: Wait, who’s here?
- ANNIE: The medicine man, you’ve already met him once I believe. He’s called Crow’s Shadow and the only one in here who’s still got blood pumping through his veins. Over yonder is Speeding Elk, he’s been dead more’n a year. Shot in the head by some of the Mayor’s men.
- SPEEDING ELK: Hmmmm.
- ANNIE: He doesn’t talk much. Sally Turner’s a gambler who was murdered on the Mayor’s orders about three months ago. They dragged her body out into the desert and left it for the coyotes.
- SALLY: Howdy.
- ANNIE: Me you know already. I never survived that bullet from Wallace Leach’s gun three months ago. Fortunately the bullet took me through the heart and I’ve been able hide what happened by wearing clothes over the hole. Poor Speeding Elk and Sally were identified as dead by their killers and have had to hide out while we waited for you to come along.
- JIM: This is loco. Are you saying you came back from the dead?
- ANNIE: No. Not really. But sort of. I am saying we died and that we’re still dead, even if we are walking about and talking. And by “we” I mean all of us (except Crow’s Shadow) including you. We was all killed either directly or indirectly by the mayor of Liberty. You’re dead Jim.
- JIM: Is this hell?
- ANNIE: It’s worse than that. We’ve been killed but we’re still in our bodies. Your throat was ripped out by the Mayor in mountain lion form. You’re gonna have to wear a scarf or something to stay hidden from people.
- JIM: How come I ain’t hurting?
- ANNIE: Your hurting days are over. I don’t know quite how it works. It’s injun magic of some sort.
- JIM: But why?
- ANNIE: Crow’s Shadow says we’re spirit walkers, people who have been to the other side and returned. I’ll leave it to him to explain the rest.
- JIM: (BEAT) Crow’s Shadow?
- CROW’S SHADOW: I am sorry, white eyes. I would not have done this except the skin-walker must be stopped. His will is evil and he will poison the whole earth if he is not stopped. When the people discovered he had found a way out of the spirit world we consulted omens to see what we should do. The omens told us that four would come, four spirit walkers, and that these would be the only ones who could stop him. We have waited and you are now here. You are the chosen ones. The ones upon whom it has fallen to hunt and defeat this monster. This is your destiny!
- MUSIC: CLOSING THEME AND CREDITS – LET IT FINISH.
CASTING SHEETS — MAJOR 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.
JIM WILKES: I’m the new Sheriff of Liberty Gulch. I’ve been a lawman fer a long time. Liberty was meant to be a change – a chance to relax after my time as a U.S. Marshall. It don’t look like I’ll be doing much relaxing though. This town badly needs some law so’s I expect I’ll have my work cut out fer me.
ABE FARROW: I was passing through when someone burned the Church down with a bunch a young-uns in it. As the only stranger in town, I ended up in the jail-house. They’ll be comin’ to lynch me real soon, I expect. Ironic that this is how it’ll end. I’m an ex-lawman who’s gonna swing at the end of a rope.
DAN WILSON: I’m the Mayor of this town and its richest man. I’m charming and friendly and I rule this burgh without being gainsaid. This town is mine and I don’t care who knows it. No-one crosses me and gets away with it.
CROW’S SHADOW: I have power, but I respect and fear it. I can work great medicine but I do not do so lightly. I perform dances for my people, to cure sickness, to bring rain, and to protect our lands from the nagloshi and other spirits from beyond.
ANNIE DEEMES: I run the local store. I’m a woman alone in a tough town and I hold my own. I don’t face too much trouble. Most folks who want to cause any are dissuaded, quick-like, by a well aimed Winchester. But I was murdered by the Mayor and I was then brought back by Crow’s Shadow to seek revenge upon the man that did it.
SPEEDING ELK: I am a tracker and hunter for my people. Murdered by white men, I have been brought back by Crow’s Shadow to serve my people in seeking their revenge upon the mayor of Liberty Gulch.
SALLY TURNER: I am a drifter and gambler. I’ve had to make a quick exit from many a town over the years, but, until recently, my luck kept me one step ahead of the game. I say “until recently” because my luck ran out in Liberty Gulch. I was murdered by the mayor and brought back by Crow’s Shadow to seek revenge upon the man that killed me.
CASTING SHEETS — MINOR CHARACTERS
TOWNSFOLK (PRISONERS): We’re a community full o’ anger and grief. Our children are gone. Murdered by the Mayor. We want them back, but that ain’t gonna happen. So we’ll settle for revenge… and no-one better get in the way o’ that.
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.