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The Wicked and the Dead is an audio-book produced by Big Finish Productions. It was released in January 2009.
“Sometimes a devout man must do evil in the name of the greater good...”
Collinwood in the year 1897. The Reverend Gregory Trask has been walled alive inside Quentin’s room in punishment for his crimes against the Collins family and is close to death. But as his loneliness degenerates into madness, a stranger appears to him with an intriguing offer. An offer that might set Trask free... or condemn him to the darkness forever.
Gregory Trask wakes, finding himself alone in Quentin Collins room at Collinwood. He hears a grating sound. He opens the door from the room and finds its been walled up with brick and mortar, apart from one final brick. Through the opening, the face of Judith Collins peers at him laughing. The final brick is slid into place completely sealing the room. He hears a manic laugh.
In the winter of 1871 in Derby, Connecticut, Gregory is called in to make a coven of witches known as ‘suffragettes’ repent their sins. He has them all committed to an insane asylum for the rest of their lives.
Carl scolds Gregory for driving his sister Judith insane in the name of getting his hands on the Collins fortune. Carl invites Gregory to play a game. Carl places three tarot cards on a table. Gregory turns over one of the cards. It is the 'Tower of Destruction’ card. He turns over the second card to reveal (presumably) 'The High Priestess', but the figure on the card has the face of Angelique Collins, who mocks him. Carl declares the final card will decide Gregory’s fate. It is the ‘Death’ card. Gregory attempts to bargain with Carl, if he lets him leave this room Gregory will find and destroy Barnabas Collins, Carl’s killer. Carl asks him about his stepmother.
A local preacher named Elias Trask adopted Gregory. Through Elias’ strict guidance Gregory found a righteous path. Elias married schoolteacher Matilda Bentham in 1859. Where Elias saw virtue in Matilda, Gregory saw vice and was determined to save his father at any cost. His father’s salvation came in the arrival of seafarer Samuel Lear the following year. One morning Gregory stands before his father’s congregation and tells of how Matilda has been adulterous with Samuel. Matilda claims to have only given spiritual guidance to Samuel and that Elias himself has been in houses of ill repute. Considering her accusations blasphemy, the congregation turn on her, and with Gregory's aid Elias thrusts her down on the alter calling for the demons inside Matilda to emerge. Matilda is banished from the community and his marriage to Elias annulled.
Carl tells Gregory that Matilda was innocent, and that she was Gregory’s first victim. Carl reveals that it was Gregory's murderous influence that drove Judith to lock Gregory inside this room and his own unfeeling indifference that caused his daughter Charity to be possessed by the spirit of Pansy Faye. Carl’s features melt away and transform into that of a snarling demon from hell.
Gregory wakes. He suspects Carl’s ghost to have been a dream. However, Carl’s ghost is back before him. Gregory cries for Judith to let him out. Judith tells him that she has left a gift for him, that of a revolver containing a single bullet. Gregory pleads for Carl to have mercy for him. Carl suggests another game. He places a blood red rose down before Gregory and covers the rose with a white sheet. Carl whisks away the covering to reveal a severed head. It is that of Elias Trask, which tells him it is disappointed with Gregory. Gregory pleads for Carl to take it away; Carl lays the sheet back over the head. Carl asks how Gregory’s father died and what his secret was.
December 31st, 1859. Gregory hears the sound of raised voices. Elias is arguing with a woman. Gregory enters the room. Elias strikes the woman violently across the face. Gregory realizes the woman is his mother. Elias casts her out bidding her never to return and forbids Gregory to ever have contact with her or even mention her.
Carl reveals that Elias was Gregory’s biological father, the product of a sinful relationship. It was syphilis that killed Elias given to him by the woman who bore Gregory. The final horror is revealed by Carl: every single male heir to the Trask name has been born in sin and out of wedlock, left at an orphanage and later "adopted" by their real fathers. But now Gregory's evil has begun to infect the Collins family, Carl will not allow the taint to go further. Carl gives Gregory an ultimatum: choose which cursed Collins family member shall have their suffering ended and in turn Gregory will earn his own deliverance. For a moment Gregory considers the offer, but cannot do it, he never will. Instead, Gregory vows that when he gets out of this room he will hunt them down one by one and destroy all of them. Gregory pulls out the cross that hangs around his neck and exorcises Carl’s spirit. Carl recoils in agony, his face melts away to reveal the demon within. The demon vanishes, leaving Gregory alone. Gregory bangs on the door for someone to let him out. No one comes. Gregory stares at the revolver Judith has left for him. Realizing the bullet within it is his only escape he fires it killing himself.
Carl welcomes Gregory home and laughs manically.
Background information and notes
- Producer Stuart Manning confirmed on his blog the following dates for the events of the play:
- c1855: Ten year old Gregory Trask is adopted by Elias Trask.
- 1859: Living in Massachusetts, Elias Trask marries Matilda Bentham.
- 1860: Gregory frames Matilda Bentham for adultery.
- 1861: The Civil War begins and Gregory and Elias begin wandering and preaching in the western territories.
- 1865: Gregory and Elias settle in Salina, KS.
- 1868: Elias Trask dies.
- c1870: Gregory leaves Salina after his congregation deserts him.
- 1871: Gregory leads a witch-hunt in Derby, CT.
- 1897: The ghost of Carl Collins appears to the dying Gregory Trask.
- This play confirms that the skeleton David and Amy find in Quentin’s room in 1968 was that of Gregory Trask.