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March 3 & October 5, 2012
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“Nobody here now. Nobody but me and them. Can't you hear them? Scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch...”
Barbara loves her husband and their new home. But something is missing from her life. Something she can't explain... Until, one day, she finds it.
An old gramophone sits in the attic. And, on it, she hears the voice of man called Quentin Collins. A voice that talks back to her, begging her for help.
Something has trapped the soul of Quentin Collins. But he isn't alone...
- 1969, fall is arriving in Portland, Maine. Leaves turning brown as the trees prepare for another bitter winter, not the time of year for new beginnings, some would say, but Barbara and Grant Douglas are hoping for just that, a change of place from the bustle of New York. But in every new home there remain traces of the past. And on this day, in their dusty attic, Barbara will find something that will change their lives forever.
Barbara and Grant Douglas explore the attic of their new home. It contains several belongings that they assume have been left behind by the previous owner. Amongst these items is an old antique gramophone. Grant starts it playing. As the record plays Barbara thinks she can hear the sound of screaming coming from it. Grant rationalizes it as dust in the grooves of the record. They both go to another part of the house, leaving the gramophone playing. Its record begins to skip, sounds of screams, now more audible, go unheard.
Grant returns home from a busy day at work to find Barbara busy working at a typewriter. They discuss the love story she has been writing and the likelihood of a tall dark stranger coming to sweep her of her feet.
Grant leaves for another day at work...
Barbara returns to the attic, she sorts through the left behind items. The gramophone is playing, which again starts to skip. This time Barbara hears the screams. To her surprise, a distressed voice calls out for help. It howls in agony.
Barbara tries to tell Grant about what she discovered on the gramophone in the attic, but before she can he leaves for a night out with friends.
Barbara decides to investigate the gramophone further. A man’s voice speaks and tells her he is trapped within a shard of diamond on the tip of the gramophone’s needle. The man introduces himself as Quentin Collins although he is unable to remember much else. Suddenly, he experiences a flood of memories: a music hall singer, the galloping of horses hooves, bombs falling, the cackling of a witch. As he calls out his voice begins to skip and then disappears completely leaving only the sound the gramophone’s record playing.
2am, Grant returns home drunk from his night out to find Barbara still awake. She flippantly tells him about the man she’s found in the attic, a fact that Grant pays little attention to.
Barbara listens to the gramophone. She informs Quentin she’s been waiting for him to speak for about an hour. He decides to share a memory with her of a woman running from and being savaged by a werewolf. Barbara is disturbed by this horrific vision. He tells her that every time the gramophone needle runs over the vinyl of the record it erases a part of his mind.
Grant questions Barbara about what she wanted to tell him. Now reluctant to do so, she brushes it off as nothing...
Quentin tells Barbara about his lonely childhood...
Grant tells Barbara, whilst she’s vacuuming the carpet, that he’ll need his shirt ironing in the morning, if she remembers this time...
Quentin shares another vision with Barbara, of the time he spent in London during 1906...
Grant tells Barbara about a dinner party they’ve been invited to, she barely acknowledges him...
Barbara marvels to Quentin at clarity his memories...
Grant summons Barbara, she reluctantly complies...
Quentin calls out to Barbara, she responds attentively...
Grant angrily observes how distant Barbara has become with him...
Quentin recalls a traumatic memory of waking up after experiencing a night as the werewolf. Barbara tells him it not his fault. He has a uneasy feeling about Barbara, something he’s missing. He asks her about her life, she tells him of her ambitions to be a writer. The clock chimes, Barbara realizes how late it is and that she’s done none of the housework, including cook dinner, and Grant will be home from work any minute now, she rushes off. Now alone in the dark, Quentin calls out to an ominous presence.
Half an hour later, Barbara presents Grant with his dinner, a solitary omelet and some salad, which he's not best pleased with. He berates her for not doing any housework. Refusing to eat the meal, he storms out.
Quentin convulses in agony. He pleads for 'them' to stop. Barbara arrives and immediately manages to calm him. She tells how Grant is angry with her and reflects on the emptiness of her existence. She asks about all the other women that Quentin has charmed with his stories. The needle in the gramophone sticks causing Quentin’s memories to scramble in confusion. Again, his voice begins to skip and then disappears completely leaving only the sound the gramophone’s record playing.
Sometime later, Quentin struggles to remember another traumatic memory, he urges her not to visit him again. Determined to find out what happened to him, she asks him to recall everything he can remember and she will take notes in the hope that they can piece his mystery together. He recalls his birth in 1870, how he became a werewolf, the portrait that made him immortal, the many woman he’s been romantically involved with: Jenny Collins, Laura Collins, Beth Chavez, Caitlin Mathews, Amanda Harris.
Grant takes Barbara to cocktail party of his work colleagues. She makes it clear how she doesn’t want to be there, but he insists that its something they have to do. As he leave her to go talk to someone, she sighs.
Barbara tells Quentin how boring she found the party. She asks him to continue telling her about his time he spent in Paris during the 1950’s. As he begins, his voice begins to skip and then disappear. She fumbles with the gramophone's needle in an attempt to get him back, when he does return he is unaware that anything happened, he felt nothing. Again his voice briefly skips, and is now unable to remember Barbara’s name. He continues telling her the story.
As Barbara and Quentin continue talking into the night she asks him to tell her about Collinsport. She suggests she goes there for a visit in the hope of finding someone who knows him. He remembers a woman, a mother of one of his victims, who had been following him for decades. It was that woman who caused his confinement within the gramophone. As he tries to remember more he cries out in distress and then disappears completely.
Barbara attempts to reestablish contact with Quentin but to no avail. She talks to the gramophone as it plays its music about how she visited Collinsport but found no trace of the woman or the girl had supposedly attacked. Suddenly the gramophone’s music distorts causing her to feel pain. Quentin’s voice, now faint, urges her to stay away, as ‘they’ are coming for her, attempting to dragging her in, as the pain increases she is unable to move. He attempts to hold ‘them’ back. The distortion stops and the force attacking Barbara stops. As he warns 'they' will try again, he convulses in pain. ‘They’ are what Quentin will become, again he cries out in pain and the record skips. He makes her agree to never to return to him and the gramophone again. She turns off it off and weeps.
- My name is Barbara Douglas. I have a story to tell. I owe it to a friend, because he’s gone. I listened to him die and he showed me how to live again. And this is really his story, not mine.
Grant returns home from work, Barbara asks him to hold her, they declare their love for one another.
Barbara writes using a typewriter:
- All the notes I scribbled as he told me about his life. It’s a poor man’s immortality but it’s more than most of us can hope for. I can almost hear him sometimes. Hear the scratchy old record playing, some tall tale about a woman he once loved, and me smiling as...
Sometime later, Barbara returns home with a surprise for Grant. She calls out to him, but there's no reply. Coming from the attic she can hear the gramophone playing. Immediately, she panics. Upon reaching the attic she finds Grant in a drunken state. He shows her the notes she wrote on Quentin. Having read them he jumps to conclusions assuming that she has been having an affair with another man. The music on the gramophone begins to distort. They struggle resulting in Barbara accidently knocking him unconscious, his head is now bleeding. Quentin calls out from the gramophone pleading for 'it' to stop. Barbara is dragged into the gramophone.
Quentin wakes unable to remember anything, to find Grant’s dead body on the floor.
- My name is... My name is Grant Douglas, it’s not my real name, but it’s the one I’ve had to take. You see I don't know who I am anymore, and I, I think I’ve done something terrible. I found myself in an attic with the body of a man and I have no idea what happened. And I, I took his wallet. I took his life, because I have to get to somewhere. I don't know what’s waiting there or even where it is. But I have to get to Collinwood.
The music skips, Barbara cries out. She can feel 'them' coming for her. Her voice begins to skip.
- David Selby as Quentin Collins
- Karen Jean Olds as Barbara Douglas
- Jonathon Marx as Grant Douglas
- Alex Mallinson as Scratches
- Joseph Lidster as Scratches
- Louise Jameson as Rosie Faye (archive clip)
- Lara Parker as Angelique Collins (archive clip)
Background information and notes
- Story elements from The Skin Walkers, London’s Burning and Operation Victor are referenced.
- Barbara Douglas was raised in Brooklyn, she had a scholarship to Long Island in 1959 to study journalism.
- Barbara mentions the first manned mission to land on the Moon as a recent event. This real-world event took place on July 20th, 1969.
- By the time of 1969, it’s been decades since Quentin Collins was last in Collinsport.
- An effect has been applied to the closing theme music to give the impression its being played by a gramophone. The final scene plays as the theme music temporarily cuts out.
- The character of Grant was originally to be played by Andrew Collins, however during post-production it was discovered that Big Finish Productions had only half of the session. The studio used had since gone out of business, so Andrew's performance is lost. With deadlines looming, Jonathon Marx stepped into the role.
- This play was originally scheduled for release in November 2012. It retains its original numbering of 31 despite being released a month after 32: A Collinwood Christmas.
- In order to conceal the inclusion of Grant Douglas prior to this audio play's release, an assumed identity used by Quentin Collins in the original series upon his return to Collinsport in 1969, the husband and wife characters of Grant and Barbara were credited by their first names only in pre-publicity material on the Big Finish website.
- Included at the end of this release are trailers for Operation Victor, The Crimson Pearl and London's Burning.
- It is revealed in The Darkest Shadow how Quentin came to be trapped on the needle by the witch Dorcas Hanley.