Below we present the complete text of The Hunt Begins; episode 2 of Predator’s Row.
EPISODE #2 – THE HUNT BEGINS
by Philip Craig Robotham
Cover Illustration by Miyukiko
Edited by Margaret Wilkins
Copyright 2013 Philip Craig Robotham
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Edition.
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Serial #1: Predator’s Row
A reporter for the Star City Tribune, Claire Templeton, uncovers a pattern of grisly murders that look like the work of a strange new predator and presents her findings to Detective Tony Wells. When Tony finds a seven-year-old witness to one of the murders, her unbelievable story sets him on a path that will shake his hard-boiled certainty about the nature of reality to its core. Caught in a web of intrigue between faery courts, a nightmare world where Trolls fight for scraps beneath the bridges of the modern world, and a magical sword that has an agenda all its own, Wells must work to uncover a murderer in order to prevent a war among the immortals from spilling over into the mundane realm. Can he solve this mystery in time before the world of nightmares becomes a reality for all humanity? Tune in to “Predator’s Row” and marvel at a world of magic and intrigue that lies just beneath the surface of the world you know.
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.
NARRATOR: The Narrator
TONY WELLS: Police Detective
CLAIRE TEMPLETON: Reporter
MRS SHELBY: Mother of missing girl
PUCK: Fae exile
JACK FROST: Fae exile
LAWRENCE JACOBY: Police Detective
SFX : SFX Operator (1 required)
SCENE 7: EXT. PREDATOR’S ROW (TONY, MRS SHELBY)
163. MUSIC:  OPENING THEME — LET IT FINISH
164. NARRATOR: Something strange has been happening in Predator’s row, a seedy little neighborhood nestled in the shadow of Star City’s largest bridge, and Detective Tony Wells, alerted by, the now also missing, reporter, Claire Templeton, begins his investigation.
165. TONY: (NARRATING) I called in sick the next couple of days and slunk around the alleyways near Predator’s Row. Not a nice neighborhood. I caught a mugger or two and, despite the beatings I gave them, came up with nothing. On the third evening, I was back standing over the chalk circle at midnight. It hadn’t faded at all.
166. MRS SHELBY: (SCREAM OF FEAR) Aaah!
167. TONY: What the…
168. SOUND:  LOUD POUNDING ON DOOR — LET IT FINISH
169. TONY: Open up in there! It’s the police!
(NARRATING) The scream had come from the little studio apartment which overlooked the crime scene. No one answered and I put my shoulder to the door.
170. SOUND:  DOOR SPLINTERS OPEN — LET IT FINISH
171. TONY: (NARRATING) Inside was a tidy-looking living space and kitchen with stairs leading up. I headed for the stairs and that’s when the thing hit me, tumbling me to the floor.
172. SOUND:  BODY DROP ON STAIRS — LET IT FINISH
173. TONY: (GROANING) Ugh! What the hell was…
174. TROLL: (GROWLS LOW AND MENACING, AND SPEAKS AS IF NOT USED TO ENGLISH) Away, little man. Mine by right.
175. TONY: (DAZED AND A LITTLE SHOCKED) I don’t know what the hell you are, but I’m warning you. Put the girl down.
(NARRATING) It stood over me as I lay at the foot of the stairs and it laughed. I’d never seen anything like it before. It had a pale blue pallor to its skin, stood about seven feet tall, was covered in long blue hair, and had muscles protruding from its muscles. But that was nothing to its face. There was something animal-like about it, feral, and its mouth had far too many teeth for comfort. With an ease that would have terrified me if I’d had time to think about it, it reached down and swept me out of the way with one long arm.
176. SOUND:  CRUNCH OF WELLS BEING THROWN ACROSS THE ROOM, KNOCKING OVER A FEW THINGS ON THE WAY — LET IT FINISH
177. TONY: (NARRATING) As I lost consciousness I saw the thing leap through the remains of the door to the chalk circle outside. It shimmered and blurred along with my vision and then it was gone… but so was my grip on consciousness.
178. MUSIC:  (BRIDGE) SUSPENSEFUL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH
SCENE 8: INT. SHELBY HOME (PUCK, FROST, TONY, JACOBY)
179. SOUND:  (WALLA) FADE IN SOUNDS OF CRIME SCENE: MURMURING POLICE, PHOTOGRAPHS BEING TAKEN ETC. — ESTABLISH AND UNDER
180. PUCK: (FADE IN) He doesn’t look like much. Are you sure we shouldn’t just…
181. JACK FROST: No. Leave him to me. He saw it, and he has the marks to prove it. He could be very useful.
182. PUCK: Since when have mortals been useful to us?
183. FROST: Now, now! Have I led you wrong yet? (BEAT) Quiet now! I think he’s waking up.
184. JACOBY: Hey, buddy. You alright? Looks like you had your bell rung pretty hard.
185. TONY: (GROANS) Ugh. Yeah. It hurts. Where am I? Jacoby? What are you doing here?
186. JACOBY: You’re still at the scene. We’ll get the ambulance guys to look at you shortly. Mrs Shelby called the cops. She said you tried to stop the kidnapper.
187. TONY: Kidnapper?
188. JACOBY: Wow, you have taken a bang. Yeah, kidnapper. Someone broke in here last night and took the little girl who gave us the statement about the “monster” the other night. Must have got worried she’d remember what he really looked like once the trauma wore off.
189. TONY: And Mrs Shelby?
190. JACOBY: The girl’s mother. Said you got tossed around like a rag doll. She’s in shock. Did you get a good look at the guy?
191. TONY: (IGNORING THE QUESTION) How’d the lady describe him?
192. JACOBY: Big, strong. Not much else. She went to check on some noise in the kid’s bedroom and there he was, standing over the bed. It was too dark to make out much so she let out a scream and he grabbed the kid and headed for the stairs. I was hoping you could give us more.
193. TONY: Sorry. I won’t be much help to you there. The mug got the drop on me. Literally. I didn’t see what hit me.
194. JACOBY: (SUSPICIOUSLY) Uhuh. You wouldn’t be holding out on me now would you?
195. TONY: (GRUNTS) If there was anything to tell, I’d give it to you. You know that.
196. JACOBY: Yeah, I guess so. You feeling any better?
197. TONY: Nothing some reconstructive surgery wouldn’t fix. Say, I better get out of here before the Commissioner hears about it.
198. JACOBY: That boat’s already sailed, Tony. The Commissioner left you a message with the lieutenant. You’ve been suspended pending “an investigation into your conduct.” Calling in sick to stake out the alley may have just been the ammunition the Commissioner needed to get you canned.
199. TONY: Aw hell. Thanks for the heads up, Jacoby. I better get out of here all the same.
200. JACOBY: Let the witch-doctors take a look at you on your way out. You can’t be too careful with concussion.
201. TONY: (NARRATING) I did as he said and made my way home to bed. My aching head was full of impossibilities and a growing sense of failure. Four missing persons now… and a monster. I couldn’t have seen what I thought I saw. I must have been hit harder than I thought… and telling Jacoby about it? Well, that was a short cut to being declared mentally unfit, no matter how much I liked and trusted Jacoby.
I fell asleep dreaming of big blue monsters and worrying about my suspension from the force.
202. MUSIC:  (BRIDGE) NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH
SCENE 9: INT. WELLS’ APARTMENT (TONY, FROST) — SUNDOWN
203. SOUND:  WELLS IS SNORING WHEN LOUD KNOCKING OCCURS ON HIS DOOR
204. TONY: Wha? Who… (GRUNTS AND GOES BACK TO SLEEP)
205. SOUND:  MORE HEAVY KNOCKING — LET IT FINISH
206. TONY: Aw, for crying out… Keep your hair on, I’m coming.
207. SOUND:  DOOR OPENS — LET IT FINISH
208. TONY: After the couple of days I’ve had this had better be good.
209. FROST: (IN A CULTURED VOICE) Mr. Wells, my name is Frost and I believe we should talk.
210. TONY: Frost? Frost? Wait, were you Claire Templeton’s contact in Predator’s Row?
211. FROST: A charming name, isn’t it? You’d think with a name like that people would’ve known better than to settle there.
212. TONY: Okay, Mr. Frost. I’ve had a tough couple of days like I said. If you’ve got something to say, spit it out.
213. FROST: Do you intend I should speak my piece here on the doorstep or will you invite me in first?
214. TONY: What? Oh, of course. Come inside.
215. FROST: (PREDATORY) Thank you.
216. TONY: Ahuh. What can I do for you, Mr. Frost? — and this had better be good.
217. FROST: You’re the detective that’s been looking into events down on Predator’s Row?
218. TONY: Yeah, so?
219. FROST: So, Mr. Wells, I am the man who can furnish you with the inside information you’ve been looking for.
220. TONY: Ahuh.
221. FROST: You don’t seem very impressed, Mr. Wells?
222. TONY: Well, let’s just say I’m prepared to be as impressed as you like when you tell me something that is actually impressive.
223. FROST: Very good, Mr. Wells. A hard-headed man. Not one to be easily misled by empty words.
224. TONY: (TIREDLY) Mr. Frost, you have woken me from the first extended period of sleep I’ve enjoyed in a fortnight. If you have a point, please get to it.
225. FROST: (SIGHS) Alright, Mr. Wells. You saw the troll, did you not?
226. TONY: What?
227. FROST: Come, come, man. Who’s wasting time now? Did you or did you not see the troll?
228. TONY: You mean I wasn’t dreaming?
229. FROST: That’s right, you weren’t dreaming, Mr. Wells. Please try to keep up. I will begin to lose faith in the notion that I have come to the right man.
230. TONY: Keep talking.
231. FROST: Mr. Wells, as a hard-headed man, I don’t expect you to believe much of this at all, but since it is essential that you believe some of what I am going to say, I will try to break it down as much as possible.
As someone who works amidst the mysteries of human behavior… what you would call criminal behavior at the least… you must be relatively used to encountering things which cannot be fully explained.
232. TONY: Sure. We’ve all had our share of unsolved mysteries.
233. FROST: Well, Mr. Wells, unsolved mysteries are my bread and butter, and the mysterious portion of the universe extends a long way beyond the borders of what you know.
234. TONY: (SUSPICIOUSLY) Just how far are we talking here?
235. FROST: Mr. Wells, I inhabit a world coterminous with your own. One in which trolls still fight for scraps beneath bridges, fae still steal children away into the night, and changelings and the folk of myth cross over into the mortal realm on a regular basis. A world that you mortals have struggled hard to forget and now pretend does not exist even when you are faced with direct experience of it.
236. TONY: Harrumpf. This is a joke, yes?
237. FROST: No, Mr. Wells. Last night you saw a troll operating openly in its traditional hunting ground beneath the bridge. You saw it steal a child, and you know of at least two others who have disappeared in its domain and one who was killed there.
238. TONY: (SCEPTICALLY) Are you telling me that these disappearances and the murder are the work of the bogeyman?
239. FROST: Not at all. He works a completely different section of town. I am, however, telling you that you are dealing with a real live troll.
240. TONY: No. Wait. This is nuts.
241. FROST: Indeed? Well, if I can’t convince you? No? Ah well. I guess that poor little girl is going to have to die, along with your friend, Miss Templeton, and her friend, the idiotic Tully. I rather saw you as their last hope, don’t you know?
242. TONY: NARRATING) I was ushering my irritating guest to the door when a thought occurred.
(TO FROST) What about the murder? Why wasn’t that guy taken like the others?
243. FROST: (GLEEFUL) Now we come to the heart of it. I knew you were the man for the job! Yes, why was the body left behind? Not a troll’s modus operandi at all. No. Not by a long way. And this is the very question I believe I can be of most help to you answering. After that, if you are still as skeptical? Well, I’ll bid you goodnight and leave you to such nightmares as are your due.
244. TONY: Ahuh. Alright then, who was the dead guy and what made him so special?
245. FROST: To answer that you’ll have to let me indulge in a little ancient history. As for who he was, his name was Phineas Talbot, and he was, until recently, a Protector of the Covenant.
246. TONY: (IMPATIENTLY) What?
247. FROST: Just a little longer, Mr. Wells, I am a man of my word.
248. TONY: (GROANING) Ugh. Get on with it then.
249. FROST: To understand the importance of this man you need to understand the covenant between the realms of Faery and the mortal realm. You see, thousands of years ago the realms of Faery were in constant battle. The light and the dark fae sought dominance one over the other and engaged in huge wars. When mortals started to get involved things began to really get out of hand. You humans have a remarkable capacity for destruction, one that even immortals have learned to fear. A number of proposals were put forward. Some, on both of the fae sides, argued that humans are too dangerous to be tolerated and that we should eradicate you. Cooler heads prevailed, however, feeling that humans could act as a stabilizing element, standing between the two sides of the fae and preventing us from falling back into our old pattern of eternal warfare. The covenant between the three peoples was created as a result. But some of the wilder fae, on both sides, were inclined to feel unhappy about the situation and made sure that they retained hunting rights within the mortal realm. To keep everything in balance, humanity was granted the right to defend itself against fae predators. The Protectors of the Covenant were established to maintain the balance, to investigate potential breaches of the terms of the covenant, and to arbitrate in matters of conflict. To keep things evenly matched one representative was chosen from each participant realm in the covenant, a light fae, a dark fae, and a mortal.
The mortal was given a sword imbued with power from both sides in order to make him the equal of his compatriots. And so the covenant was signed and enforced; but being held by mortal hands, the sword has needs been passed from hand to hand down to its most recent owner.
250. TONY: And you’re saying this sword’s owner was killed by a troll a few nights ago in Star City?
251. FROST: Well, when you put it like that… yes!
Only it’s not possible. There should not have been any way that a troll, working alone, could have bested a Protector of the Covenant… or taken his sword — which I understand has still not been located. The troll should have been outmatched in every way.
252. TONY: I don’t understand.
253. FROST: And that much we can agree on at least. It looks to me like someone is trying to break the covenant and, before you ask, the result for the mortal world would be terrible indeed.
254. TONY: How terrible?
255. FROST: Imagine a world in which the thing you witnessed last night, and tens of thousands of others just like it, were able to act freely in your world. Imagine wars being conducted between beings of almost infinite power with total impunity over your cities and lands. Imagine a new age of chaos and death, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since before history and is only remembered now in the dimmest of legends.
256. TONY: And you? You sound like you are claiming to be one of them?
257. FROST: A member of the fae? Me? Of course. While currently non-aligned, I am most definitely an immortal with more trips around the sun to my credit than the greyest of greybeards in your world.
258. TONY: (WEARILY) I don’t believe it. I think you should go.
259. FROST: Alright. But if you change your mind, meet me at the chalk circle at midnight tomorrow evening… Oh, and dress warmly.
260. TONY: Yeah. Right!
261. SOUND:  CHIMES UNDERNEATH A SINISTER LAUGH — FADE OUT
262. TONY: (NARRATING) I stood there staring at the spot on the floor where my visitor, Mr. Frost, had been standing only moments before. He’d simply turned translucent and vanished.
263. SOUND:  (WALLA) BIRD NOISES THROUGH WINDOW — FADE IN
264. TONY: (NARRATING) Outside my window the sun was coming up… only moments before it had seemed that the sun had just gone to bed. Had I been hypnotized? I decided that I’d best use my time well before midnight and headed for the library to do a bit of research.
265. MUSIC:  (BRIDGE) NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH
SCENE 10: EXT. PREDATOR’S ROW — MIDNIGHT (TONY, FROST)
266. SOUND:  (WALLA) NIGHT NOISES, OCCASIONAL DISTANT CAR, BUZZ OF STREET LAMP ETC. — ESTABLISH AND UNDER
267. TONY: (NARRATING) Midnight. The Row was empty except for a wan light shining in from the head of the alley. The chalk circle sat at my feet, as pristine as it had appeared the first time I saw it. I felt decidedly stupid standing there in my overcoat waiting for — well, I wasn’t sure what I was waiting for. I fingered the bag in my pocket that I’d picked up at the hardware store — insurance in case it turned out I wasn’t going insane.
268. SOUND: A RINGING CHIME — LET IT FINISH
269. FROST: Ah, I see your curiosity got the better of you, Mr. Wells.
270. TONY: You like to play mysterious, don’t you, Frost. Well, I’m here. What’s this all about?
271. FROST: All in good time. Do you see the circle at your feet?
272. TONY: (SIGHING WITH IMPATIENCE) Yes!
273. FROST: Magical circles are a means of crossing between the realms. Think of them as doors which lead to and from different parts of Faery.
274. TONY: (UNIMPRESSED) Faery? Really?
275. FROST: You need to develop a little faith, Mr. Wells. These will hardly be the strangest truths you encounter from this point on.
276. TONY: Just get on with it.
277. FROST: As you say. This circle leads to the realm of darkness; specifically the lands of the goblin king.
278. TONY: The goblin king? And how, pray tell, do you come by this intelligence?
279. FROST: If you know what to look for, and I do, a magic circle can tell you a lot. Those sigils identify the destination as somewhere in the realm of darkness. We stand in the shadow of the largest suspension bridge in the city — troll territory — and trolls are the vassals of Coblynau, the goblin king.
280. TONY: So tell me how this works? On the other side of this… door? What? A troll’s lair?
281. FROST: More or less.
282. TONY: Ahuh. (BEAT) I did some research today. If you’re actually what you’ve been hinting at, then you and your kind can only speak the truth.
283. FROST: Very good, Mr. Wells.
284. TONY: But you almost never do. You enjoy games and misdirection, and your kind thrives on developing intricate networks of debt and obligation.
285. FROST: (AMUSED) Meaning?
286. TONY: Meaning that, from everything I’ve read, I should be very careful about making a deal with your kind. I should never accept any favors from you, and, whatever you tell me, I should assume you always have an agenda of your own.
287. FROST: In this you are not mistaken.
288. TONY: Then there’s a price to be paid for getting your help to rescue my friends?
289. FROST: (SMUGLY) Absolutely, Mr. Wells.
290. TONY: Come on then. Out with it?
291. FROST: The covenant is under threat, Mr. Wells. I want you to try to prevent it from being undone. I want you to travel to the goblin king’s court and unmask the villain behind the death of the mortal Protector of the Covenant.
292. TONY: I take it you believe the villain is a member of the court?
293. FROST: You’re the detective, Mr. Wells. I leave that up to your determination.
294. TONY: Ahuh. And I suppose you’ll be coming with me at least. How do we get this show on the road?
295. FROST: (REGRETFULLY) I’m sorry to say, Mr. Wells, that I am not very welcome in the realm of the goblin king. We had something of a falling out and I have been banished from his realm. Were I to set foot within his domain, Coblynau would know of it in an instant and whatever hope you had in stealth would be gone.
296. TONY: Figures. Was this the same deal you gave Claire?
297. FROST: (DISTASTEFULLY) Claire was taken by the troll, Mr. Wells. I offered her no deals.
298. TONY: What? I assumed from the note she left behind that she had dealings with you.
299. FROST: Oh, yes. We spoke. I tried to warn her away from the Row, but she did not listen. On one of the nights that she was poking around in the dark the troll found her and took her. It is at least one of the reasons why time is of the essence. The creature may not yet have eaten her.
300. TONY: Good grief you’re cold. Have you no heart?
301. FROST: As you have already surmised, I am not a man. I have been candid enough to admit that my agenda has little to do with rescuing humans from the fae. I wish you to attempt to prevent a war, Mr Wells, the rest is just motivation — a payment to ensure you pursue your obligation to me. After all, the covenant protects the right of the wilder fae to hunt in the mortal realm, just as it protects the right of mortals to act in their own protection.
302. TONY: The books are correct about you. Alright, how do we get this circle to work?
303. FROST: (ALL BUSINESS, WITH NO FRIENDLINESS LEFT IN HIS VOICE) Stand in the middle of the circle and I will open the way through the veil. If you rescue your friends, you will need to make your way to Coblynau’s court. You can’t miss it. It is the highest point in the realm. Just make sure you keep on heading upwards. You will not be able to open the way back from the other side yourself. Assuming it is not Coblynau himself who is trying to destroy the covenant, the exposure of the traitor will place him in your debt. You will then be able to ask him for safe passage back to the mortal realm.
304. TONY: (NARRATING) Perhaps I was trying to hang on to the last of my sanity. I hesitated for just a moment and stepped forward into the circle. I could hear Frost speaking indistinctly behind me and then my vision wavered. Suddenly I knew I was farther away from Kansas than I’d ever been before.
305. MUSIC:  (BRIDGE) SUSPENSFUL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH
306. MUSIC:  (BRIDGE) CLOSING THEME — ESTABLISH, FADE UNDER, AND CREDITS.
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 forward. 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.
TONY WELLS: I’m a detective in a city full of liars, cheats, killers, and con-men. You’d think that would have made me a cynic. And I guess it has a little. But underneath the hard-boiled exterior, I actually give a damn. I do this job because I want to keep people safe from the animals and predators who roam the dark side of the city. I believe in heroes, or at least I want to believe in them. Right now I’m not the most popular detective on the force — the Commissioner’s got it in for me — but I would never have guessed how much more complicated my life is about to become.
CLAIRE TEMPLETON: I’m the crime reporter for the Star City Tribune. I know everyone in this town from the mayor down to the guys who pick up your garbage at four in the morning. I’m good at my job too, which is why I get myself into so many scrapes and tight corners. I’m fearless, determined, and always get my story — even when there’s no one with the courage to print it!
LAWRENCE JACOBY: My name’s Jacoby and I represent the law. As a detective I don’t make the rules but I do enforce ’em. And in a town full of lowlifes and creeps — some of whom carry a badge — that’s saying something. I’m also a friend of Tony Wells. He cuts corners and that gets him in trouble, but he’s good people and I’ll have his back when he needs it.
JACK FROST: My name’s Frost, Jack Frost. I was, until exiled, a member of the dark realm of the fae and vassal to the goblin king. Those days are gone of course. In the mortal realm, I am reduced to living among these short-lived and petty creatures called humans. I still find my amusements though. There are many of these creatures who will happily trade their souls for a few magical trinkets and gewgaws. Oh, I don’t expect you to believe me… at least, not yet. But after you’ve seen exactly what I have to offer, perhaps you’d like to make a deal?
CASTING SHEETS — MINOR CHARACTERS
MRS SHELBY: How’d I get stuck with such an imaginative girl. I was never like that as a kid. It’s all elves and fairies and princes and magic. I guess it’s how she copes now that her daddy’s run off. I work two jobs just to get by and I’m too tired to enjoy her imagination as much as I’d like.
TROLL: I troll. I eat mortals. I catch under bridge. I skin. I chew. I crunch. Miss the old days, I do. When a troll could fight and kill all he want. Today I must stay near bridge. No exceptions. Stupid covenant!
PUCK: Mwahahahahahaha. I’m Puck. You’ve heard of me. Trickster. Lord of chaos in the realm of light. Don’t mess with me or you’ll regret it. It’s best if I never even realize you’re there. But then it’s a little late for that now, isn’t it?
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: https://www.weirdworldstudios.com.
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