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Transcript - Season 3, Chapter 12



PAIGE tunes and retunes the radio. We can hear the howling winds far behind her.




Come in. Come in.


Hayward, can you hear me?






HAYWARD comes running. In the background, we can hear car horns excitedly celebrating Glottage's victory.

We can faintly hear PAIGE's garbled lines through the radio.



(Calling back to CARPENTER)

Ah. We’ve got a signal!

(Into his own radio)

Paige! Paige, it’s me.


Can you hear me? Hello? Hello, are you there?


Encryption’s, uh - I think the encryption might be working a little too well.




HAYWARD’s voice, also basically inaudible, crackles.


PAIGE tries retuning the radio.


I think that’s you.


Sounds like the…shape of you.


Can you hear anything I’m saying?




I really can’t tell what you’re saying.




I’m going to just talk, and hope you can hear me.

She sits back and sighs.



I think it’s the weather.


Winds have been coming in hard and cold these past few weeks; storms, thick fog. You look out west, you can’t see anything.


You look out east, where the missiles have been falling, and it’s nearly as bad.

And for a moment, we're there in the heart of the thunderstorm.


When the winds gather, the thunder drums, and the lightning strikes, out over the hungering territories, it almost looks like something else; figures, beasts, great tableaus of light. Appearing for an instant, and then vanishing again before you can be certain of anything.


It’s so beautiful, yet so unsure, that you almost want to walk out into the storm to get a closer look.


Sometimes I get a cup of coffee, and I sit at the window and I watch the storm dancing in the emptiness, so I can see what’s coming for us.


HAYWARD listens to PAIGE's garbled voice. He can't understand a word.



Gods, I hope you're doing all right.




Think winter’s going to be a lot harder than any of us expected.


It’s not all been bad news, though. We’ve been…we’ve really been growing these past few weeks.


With the bombings, and the blackouts, and the unrest - more and more people have been coming north in search of us. Deserters, sacrifices, the unhoused and the hopeless.


And we’ve been taking them in.


The farmlands around us have emptied. It’s…just us left. Us and about eighty truckfuls of military supplies, abandoned, stolen, or sold. 

(Idly looking through a notepad)

Ration packs, flares, contamination units, rifles, sealable containers, medicine, life-rafts and parachutes. We’re living like royalty out here.


I honestly don’t know if you’re going to believe it when you see it.


There’s close to five hundred of us out here now. Five hundred!


We’ve expanded to the southern parts of the Grace beyond the old firehouse, we’ve got a second infirmary set up and the beginnings of a schoolhouse, it’s…it’s a miracle, in its own way.


The brain trust have got about another five drafts deep into our faith’s verses now. I’m sure they’ll tell me it’s finished in the next decade or two.


None of our problems have gone away - but we’re still here, and we’re still surviving. Somehow. 

(Remembering something)

Oh - our first child was born yesterday. Cathlin, do you remember her? She was forty weeks, needed cutting open. 


Doctor did her best. Everyone’s doing OK.


I had it in my head that the kid was going to come out horrible, some mass of wriggling flesh, sainted from birth.


But no. So far, he looks just like a person.


Can life grow from poisoned soil?


She reflects on that, quietly.



The government has to know where we are by now. That’s the worst thing that keeps playing on my mind.


Whether there’s a spy in camp, whether they’ve heard rumours from the farmers fleeing south…they have to know we’re here.


I don’t understand why they haven’t come and wiped us out already. 


Suppose the war’s been keeping all of them occupied.


HAYWARD, tiredly, gives his own status report.


We’ve made contact with Shrue, we’re safe tonight - we just need to get out of Glottage and make it back to you past the contamination zones.


I’m sure you’ve seen what’s been happening with the war, this battle up at Mal-Retour. Not a lot of details yet, but…


Looks like they’ve pulled it out of the bag.


Not sure how victory’s going to change things for us.


PAIGE has not, in fact, heard what's been happening with the war - and she can't hear what HAYWARD's saying, either.


(With a tired sigh)

Looks like it could all be over soon, anyway, doesn’t it? We’re not hearing much on the radio any more, but we’ve seen the missile strikes moving further south. Some of our newcomers have said they’ve seen boats amassing on the far shore.


Elgin thinks we should look at contacting the CLS high command, negotiating for our independence when the Peninsula surrenders. It’s crazy, I know - but maybe it’s something to consider.


Maybe they’ll decide it’s more useful to have us as a thorn in the Peninsula’s side. Keep their enemies divided and weak.


A small, mad hope - but it’s the most we’ve ever had.

She pauses, listening to HAYWARD's garbled words.


(More hesitantly, but with catharsis)

I’ve been changing, too. 


Our god hungers. 


The other day I found a thorn, poking up from the skin of my wrist. At first I thought it was a splinter, but as I drew it out, it just kept coming, long and black and bristling with angry life.


I keep it on the windowsill now. Wondering if there’ll be more.


My veins are dark, like roots. They’re moving beneath my skin.


And there’s something in my eyes, too. Something beyond tiredness, beyond hurt. I can see it staring back at me.


I try my best to keep it at bay.


I tell them not to call me Widow, to call me Paige, and I take my turn on shifts with everyone else. I learn their names and ask to hear their stories, and I show them that we’re a society of equals out here, all doing our part.


But they still whisper the prayers when they see me. They still make the signs. And, more and more, they keep their distance.


Elgin pities me. Dan marvels at me.


I’m not a lonely wreck muttering in a lonely room any more - but I’m not living as one of them, either.


Day by day, I’m being eaten by the story we gave birth to. I’m becoming what they see in me.


And honestly, Hayward - I’m starting not to mind.


Not so long as I can stay myself until it ends. Not so long as I leave them with something they can carry onwards.


I’m so grateful for these people. The miracle of their existence. The bafflement of their endurance. The threat of their passion and their hope. 


I want them to outlast me. I want them to be more than I was. I want to know that I helped.

She's feeling a swell of an emotion at confessing all of this. She works to get it under control.


I hope you and Carpenter haven’t murdered each other. I hope you’ve made contact with Shrue. I hope they can help us.


I hope you come back to us soon.


Although he can't understand her, HAYWARD, too, is choking up a little at the sound of PAIGE's voice.


Did you figure out the riddle yet? It’s a good one.


Ah, I’ll tell you when I see you.




I…tracked down the original edition of ‘On The Birthing of Gods.’ I’ve been reading it a lot.


I wanted to know - can we kill the Many Below? Can we end it, if we have to?


I can’t pretend I got the answers I was hoping for, and yet…there’s one passage that gave me some comfort. I’d like to read it to you now.


“Chapter Thirty-Nine. ‘Finishing What You Start.’


She picks up the book from the side and opens it.



(Reading aloud)

“Can a god die? Can a god be killed?


Two simple enough questions. And yet both of these would be considered dangerous blasphemies according to the tenets of over a thousand international faiths - at least, when it comes to their own chosen deities. 


False gods, we tell ourselves, perish all the time. Ours alone are immutable. Ours alone have purpose.


The truth - as we have painstakingly established across the previous chapters - is this. There is no idea so grand that it may not be murdered one day in the slumber of its own complacence.


There is no tool which may not be repurposed, no meaning which will not turn to nonsense - given time.


Time is the cruellest and the kindest deity, for it mocks those who seek to triumph from it; for it suffers no power, humours no tyrant; it topples every great justice, dismembers reason, rots progress, forgets the stories we laid down at its feet.


If you have raised a god, dear reader, and you are now beginning to wonder exactly how to rid yourself of it - I leave you with this. 


Take heart.


In faith and in life, in the sacred texts, in every story, and in the depths of the polluted lands themselves, there is only ever one ending.


Everything dies, in time. In this regard, at least, you are no different from the thing that eats you.”

She closes the book.


Take heart. And come back to us, while we still have time.

Good night, Hayward.


PAIGE leans forward and turns the radio off.





HAYWARD sits back as he hears the radio switch off.


He's still choked up - but there's comfort, too, in hearing her voice, even if he can't make sense of it.



(To himself)

She sounds calm. She sounds happy.


That’s something.


The sound of car horns fades out.





Later the same evening. Jangly folk music is playing. We can hear the inhabitants of the GRACE dancing and cheering.


DAN THE FANATIC is at the heart of it all, doing what sounds like a cheery polka.


(Never once on the beat, but very enthusiastic)

Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!

(Continuing to Hey for quite some time until he breaks down laughing)

Another dance, siblings! Another!


PAIGE and ELGIN are sitting at a back table. PAIGE is enjoying herself.



(Elated, raising her voice to be heard)

They’ll never write about this, you know?



(Not hearing, raising her voice)




(Raising her voice)

I said, they’ll never write about this!


The laughter, the dancing, the godsawful music, the smiles on everyone’s faces! It’ll never belong to anyone else! 


It’s ours, and ours alone!



(Still not hearing, raising her voice)

I’m glad you’re smiling!



(Raising her voice)

I am smiling!


She means it.




PAIGE is in bed, reading from On The Birthing Of Gods. We can hear the polluted winds howling outside; the wind chimes jangling.

She puts her mug down and picks up the book.



(Narrating, softly, as if reading to herself)

“Chapter Forty. What’s Yet To Come.


What do I dream of, when I dream of the future?


I dream of the polluted lands. Ten thousand square miles of abandoned and entirely unlivable landscape, twisted beneath the thrall of raw idea, raw principle. 


dumping ground for plastics, undisposable garbage, and the gods we can no longer bring ourselves to love.


Sunless, wind-scoured, haunted places. Raw firmament, angry sky and endless storms.


Those who venture briefly in report back - pleading voices, taking on the form and tenor of long-lost loved ones, rasping and inhuman, begging to be fed. 


Altering us into their own dreadful image, should their whispers creep in beneath our protective suits.


Spyplanes swoop in and out, mapping brief tracts of transformed land, navigators of the Tangleknot Queen losing their minds and abandoning their controls as they attempt to make sense of the hills which will not remain hills and sky which does not stay sky for long.


In these eternal wastes, the chaos and creativity of the polluted lands, nothing grand or meaningful remains of the entities that once held sway over the lives of our ancient forebears in the west - save for a ravening hunger, and a voice.


People lived out there, once, some 6000 years ago, before the first primitive Peninsulans fled out of the hills in horror at whatever raging gods of cave and hunt they’d summoned up.


People lived. Gods fed. Cities stood. And nothing yet remains that we can understand.


Historians speculate that there must be some cataclysmic event that first led to the Peninsula’s polluted lands becoming polluted, some dark miracle at the very epicentre of the hunger - but we do not know what it was, and we have no way of knowing.


This is nowhere, and nowhere is spreading.


When we have exhausted our own living places, when we have hollowed ourselves out in our ceaseless invention and our ceaseless growth - where then shall be left for us to go? 


And what, given the chance, will we leave behind us?”

Silence - and then the book slips from PAIGE's grasp.

We hear her, very softly, snoring.


We've heard this dream before. A desolate landscape. PAIGE is 




As if it's been called, something breaks the soil, growing larger, and larger, a great black tree of twisted branches and leaves, the Many Below, the Woundtree, a thing with many names and none-


Tree, tree, tree, tree-

And unexpectedly, a voice breaks the nightmare.


(Urgently and frantically)

Hello? Hello? Can anyone hear me?


PAIGE jolts back awake.

The radio is crackling. We might just be able to make out the words of MOSS, escaped power-grid engineer, but it really doesn't matter if we can't.

PAIGE gets to her feet and hurries across.


(On the radio)

My name is Moss, I’m with a group of pilgrims from the south - we’re looking for the Children of the Woundtree!

(Coughing and wheezing)

We’re trying to reach you! Our vehicle’s - oh, gods - our vehicle’s got stuck and we can’t make it out on foot!


We’ve got a sick woman in the back! We need help!

We can hear a car horn blaring through the radio - and then as PAIGE opens the blinds, we can hear the same horn blowing very faintly somewhere out in the storm.

PAIGE grabs at the radio and adjusts the frequency.


(Into the radio)

Elgin? Dan? There’s someone out in the storm. Did we have anyone on patrol?


About half a mile out, on the ridge. Think they’re in trouble out there.


Elgin? Can anyone hear me?


Nobody answers.




PAIGE, gas-masked and suited, steps out into the storm. The winds are raging and savage. It's a struggle for her even to walk.

Again, we hear that faint car horn sounding out in the distance.

She runs out to her truck and gets in. The door slams.


Dust and sand spatters the windshield. We can hear the wipers working hard as PAIGE drives.

She hits the horn - and we hear an answering horn a moment later, further out in the storm.

She turns and keeps driving. We might just hear the whisper of hungering god-voices upon the wind.


The horn sounds again, much closer. PAIGE jumps out of her truck, slams the door, and goes running across to the stranded vehicle.

We can hear MOSS and the other pilgrims wheezing and coughing inside.


(Yelling out)

Hey! Hey, I’m here to help! We’re going to get you out of this, OK?


Just hang on! I’m going to get the winch!


(Yelling and gesticulating frantically from inside the vehicle)

Thank you! Oh, my gods, thank you! We’re stuck! There’s a - there’s a tow-bar at the front of the truck!

Hang on, I can help! I can-

(He begins coughing and choking)


(Yelling out, kindly but firmly)

Stay inside the truck! Just stay inside, I’ve got this!


Once you start moving, keep moving! 


Head down the hill to our camp, sound the horn! We’ve got doctors!


PAIGE, breathing hard, runs back and grabs the winch from the back of her truck, dragging it to the tow bar. She attaches it with a grunt of exertion, then switches it on.

MOSS begins to rev up his own vehicle - it struggles, and struggles-


(Yelling out encouragingly)

That’s it! Go, go, go!

-but finally it rolls forward through the sand and out of trouble.



(Yelling out encouragingly)

You’ve got it! You’ve got it!

MOSS rumbles to a halt - PAIGE unclips the winch.


(From inside the vehicle)

That did it! That did it! 



Winch is free! Keep driving!

She slaps the hood. MOSS drives forward, still coughing and choking.

PAIGE watches them go for a second, then turns and dashes back to her own truck.



PAIGE steps into her truck and hits the ignition, which falters and fails-

-and as the engine dies down, we now hear a voice, clear and whispering, as if in her ear.



PAIGE breathes hard and in shock - then tries the ignition again.

On the third try, it works.


I can make you happy. I can make you whole-

PAIGE puts her foot down, driving hard, and fast, speeding back towards the GRACE, trying to ignore the voice-


Paige. Feed me. Love me. Feed me. Paige-

-and then all at once, the voice fades.

PAIGE's breathing slows. She's out of danger.



(Softly, kindly, in her ear)


PAIGE, startled, swerves.

Her truck hits something in the wind, turns, crashes. We fall with PAIGE, feeling the truck bounce, dust and rocks hitting the windshield.

As the truck lands, the sound of the settling dirt and the windshield wipers are the only thing that remain.


-and then we hear PAIGE grunt as she tries to bash the truck door open. On the third try, she succeeds, stumbling out.

She gets to her feet, breathing hard.

We hear her grab at a flare-gun, then with a wince, fire it upwards.

She turns and walks, looking for a way to climb out.

There's nothing.

And then, softly, we hear rising whispers - and what sounds like song.


PAIGE thinks she's seen a figure ahead of her in the distance.


(Calling out)


The whispers and song die down.


(Calling out)

Wait! Come back!

She turns, struggling and limping in the direction of the figure.



-and PAIGE gasps as she staggers into the shelter of a cave entrance.


We can hear the MAIDEN singing, softly, a lullaby (the Willow Song from Othello), as she digs.

The MAIDEN sounds very much like ACANTHA. We will not know if this is theatrical doubling for the listener's benefit, or if it means something else.


PAIGE stares at her. She’s breathing hard through her gas mask.


(Perhaps with a double meaning)

You don’t need that any more.



It’s safe down here? It’s sheltered from the wind?


The MAIDEN picks up her shovel and begins to dig again, softly singing to herself.

PAIGE hesitates - and then takes off her mask.


You’re…the woman. The woman out in the hills. Dan said he could hear you singing.


The MAIDEN does not answer. PAIGE eyes her warily.



We all thought he was making you up.


I couldn’t…I honestly couldn’t believe anyone was surviving. Not this far out.


My name is Paige.

(Perhaps growing a little frustrated)

What…are you doing?

The MAIDEN stops digging.





Waiting for what?



For the storm to die. Wait with me, Paige, if you like.


She begins to dig and sing again. PAIGE hesitates - and then comes forward.



You were lucky to find this place. Have you been here long?

(Not getting an answer)

You must have seen our camp, down to the east. You’d have been welcome to come and join us there.

(Trying to understand)

I can…I can understand wanting to keep yourself apart from other people.


We’d be happy to share some of our supplies with you, if you need them.


The MAIDEN stops singing. She puts the shovel down.



(As if to herself, soft and melancholy)

This place was a temple once. 


Thousands of years ago, while these lands were living.


Marks on the walls, old hieroglyphics, a sacred language centuries in the making, a purpose that was everything to those who inhabited the town that stood before there was a Bellwethers - before you built your camp.


Now the rock is scoured clean.


It’s been theorised by some clever academic that when everything else has been destroyed in a place like this, when even the ruin has turned to void - a new god is birthed, some unobserved and unknowable deity of absolute emptiness which does nothing and is nothing, and which dies as soon as we enter the room.


Life cannot inhabit a vacuum. We cannot endure nothing.



(Increasingly wary - because as we're about to learn, she already knows all this)

How…do you know all that?



(Calmly, matter-of-fact)

You read a study about it once.


You were always reading studies, Paige, back when you were civilised. In the forty-minute window of travel between your apartment and the office, when you thought you could just outlast your dreadful life by snatching at moments of edification, of learning, before the real workday began.


There’s another study that’s coming to mind now.


A study about brain function at the point of death. Neurons coming alive, sparking up like fireworks, just as the heart stops.


And so it has surely occurred to you that when the great prophets arose from comas or near-death experiences, whispering of visions from their gods, visions which were no longer single-minded and hungry but reasoned and canny and full of love-


-perhaps that was only the final flailing motions of a dying brain inside of a dying body. 


One last effort to form a second’s breath of meaning out of a meaningless life before it ends for good.


Because we cannot endure nothing.

She picks up her shovel and begins to dig again.



(Uncertain and afraid, but also standing her ground)

You’re not a person. Are you?


Answer me!




(Stil digging)

A strange preoccupation, in a world that’s filled with hungering things that wear human faces.


Would laying a hand upon her flesh or drawing her blood from her veins make you surer of your own eyes and your own touch?


You are a person, Paige. And yet there is something behind your eyes that is both less and more than that.



You’re still not answering me.

Now the MAIDEN's voice changes. It becomes deeper, filled with dripping soil, and her footfalls are not human as she begins to walk forwards.



(Gravely and with menace)

She is answering you; but you cannot make sense of her answers, just as you cannot make sense of the face she wears.


She cannot be known by you, because she can only sing of herself.


You cannot know her, because every shape is only shadow to you.


When you die, Paige, will you understand the song beneath her song?


She is getting closer.




Stay back. I said stay back!


The MAIDEN keeps advancing. PAIGE stands her ground.



(Yelling, angry)

I…I belong to another!


You cannot take me. Did you hear me? I belong to another.


A god’s marks have been scoured into my skin. Its dreams haunt my sleep. It will claim me, and it has staked its claim upon me.


I belong to another, so you cannot take me!


The MAIDEN stops walking. And for a moment her voice echoes with fury.



Everything belongs to her.




And yet you stopped.



A strange thing, to boast of belonging to another god, when every second of your existence is longing to be freed from it, fearing that you will always be bound to the hungry beast you called down upon the world. Fearing that you will only be remembered as its voice, and nothing more.


You detest the predator that dwells within you, but you will call upon it, when it cornered.


PAIGE stands there, staring back at the MAIDEN.



(As if presenting a business proposition)

You’ve fed her well and plentiful; you’ve led your people to dire odds and worse ends and their final footfalls have landed amongst starving gods and ruin.


Twenty-seven have been laid to rest since you arrived here. Far more have fallen afield. More will fall, in time.


And so she will make an offering to you, before she feeds tonight. Out of kindness.


You will ask, and she will answer. Before the storm dies, she will answer you.


PAIGE considers the situation - with perfect calm.


She is, we'll slowly realise, no longer afraid of any god.



No blessing comes without cost.




No, none.



So is this kindness? Or just a predator circling its prey before it feeds?



She will not tell you there is no need to fear her.


She will tell you not to waste your time wondering whether to run.

PAIGE thinks, pacing.



There’s no benefit to what you’re offering me when I don’t know if I can even trust your answers.


And no benefit if I die afterwards anyway.



None but comfort.


PAIGE thinks - and then she asks her first question.



If you are what you appear - then what are you really doing out here?



She feeds upon dying gods.


She listens to the screams of starving and forgotten beasts upon the wind. She sings to them as they starve. She leads them to the site of their final ruin.


She buries dying beasts, amongst the endless dust of dead ones, in temples such as this.



The gods starve?



In time. They struggle first, with furious anger and terrible violence.


Oh, it’s no matter to her. You can’t blame a great blundering beast for not knowing when it’s time to go.


You can’t blame an endless hunger for hungering itself on into a lonely death.


So she sings to them, with love and devotion.


They will find their way to a temple of rat-bones and dust amongst the empty places. A final cage, out here where there’s no flesh to be offered.


She whispers the words they’re used to. She draws the marks they’ll understand so they know that they’re loved, and for a moment they’re happy, and they forget that they’re starving.

PAIGE thinks.



OK. Will we survive?



A wasted question.


PAIGE acknowledges that, but she's also not taking any shit here.



Will we win? And don’t be obtuse.



No. But you will leave behind a beautiful ruin.



What will we achieve?



This...this is her song to you. And there will be comfort in it, although not enough.


There is a great beast adrift in the world. A god that reigns in silence over all other gods. 


It is both unjust and just in equal measure, this beast - for it feeds upon the suffering and impoverished first, and yet it will feed given time upon all who live beneath its footfalls. It has no love in its heart for those who love it most.


The eager disciples who believe themselves protected from the wrath of the beast, and those who struggle and fight it to the final breath. All - devoured.


It never stops feeding.


Its lifeblood flows in our rivers and roads and its drumbeat rings out from the depths of our own hearts and it grows in strength even when we do not intend to feed it.


The beast has lived on far, far too long, but it lives on in hungering denial of its monstrous obsolescence, and we have grown too long accustomed to it, even as it kills us. 


We have made it beautiful, and clever, and necessary - although we did not intend to.


It has learnt too much from us, our beast. It has grown cunning and complicated, for as it feeds, it tells us great and wondrous tales of our good fortune in surviving it. It boasts that it has ingenious solutions in store to solve the woes it’s inflicted upon us, and all of us shall in time share in these new comforts.


Even those who hate the beast and would strike out against it - those who would hunt it into death and scar its name from the face of the world - are turned to its cause, altered, ruined. For there is no story it cannot turn to its advantage, no blade that cannot be turned back against its impenetrable hide.


The landscape is littered with dead hunters caught upon their own spears, bled by their own selfless courage.


The beast has won.


Can you hear the song beneath her song?

PAIGE can. She paces, softly.



Go on.



This is her song to you. 


You shall not outlast the beast. Even the great and ruined world may not see a future beyond its trembling footfalls.


But it will die.


Its writhing throes will be abominable, aggrieved, and monstrous. The worst of times may be yet to come.


It will devour every servant - no matter how loyal - in its long centuries of final desperation. It will curse every witness - no matter how compliant - in its long years of final spite.


But it will die, and its rot will sink into the soil, and if we are very fortunate in the future to come, a future we cannot see beyond the stomach of the beast’s final devourings, some tainted but brave new form may grow outside of its desolation-


-and as it perishes, the thrusts of your spear will be one bold, dark scar amongst the innumerable wounds that killed it.


Your life’s work will be one teeming page in the book of its final reckoning.


It will die, our great and terrible beast. Because in the end it was only another animal.


We know this, because it hungers. And so one day it must perish.


And she will be there, at the end, and she will offer it the comfort it does not deserve, because like the beast, she is just and unjust in equal measure.


A long silence. PAIGE is taking all of this in.

Her next question is more prosaic.



Do we have a spy in our camp?



You have had several.


PAIGE reflects on this heavily.



So the government knows where we are?



They have always known where you are. 


If you are not yet dead, it is only because they still believe they can make use of you.


PAIGE chuckles, weakly, as she accepts the point.



When will the government come for us?






So this is where it ends, then?


Just…give me a straight answer. I’m begging you. If there’s anything in you other than reflections and echoes and shadows, if I’m not just talking to myself, then give me that comfort.



Is this where it ends? Not for me, but for everyone I've led here?



Not here. And not now.


PAIGE thinks for a moment.


She paces back and forth.



You have to be lying to me. That’s all I can think.


We’re at the edge of the world with nowhere left to run. The only true weapon at our disposal is its own kind of terror, and it devours us even as we use it. 


But you’re telling me this isn’t where our people die.


So where do they go from here? What’s left to them?



Nowhere is left to you.




That’s a wasted answer, and it’s obtuse. Try again.



You must learn to try and listen to the voices in the wind. You must learn to make meaning from falling rain.


Nowhere is left to you.


An idea is dawning upon PAIGE.



What’s left behind, after gods starve?


What lies in the heart of the polluted lands?



What follows death?






Or nothing.


Ask another question.



You speak like you want to help us.





Perhaps only that she may continue to feed.


Because she will cradle you in her arms, and she will bury you and she will sing to you, even when all the gods have starved.


For the last life, the final frail spark, she will offer comfort, although it will not be enough.

Perhaps because she is only wind and falling rain, and her voice is not a voice at all, and the only mystery is that you cannot bring yourself to look upon something strange and beautiful in the world without also imagining voices in the wind, without seeing faces in the storm.

And the storm is dying.

(Gently prompting)

You don’t have long.



Will I see my friends again? Hayward and Carpenter?



If you do, there will be no comfort in it.

(As another warning)

You don’t have long.

We can hear the rising sound of windshield wipers; the soft sound of the MAIDEN's lullaby.



Will I ever be free of what I’ve made?



Not in life, and not in death.



Will I suffer?



Less than some and more than others.


You don’t have long.


PAIGE takes a moment - and then asks her final question.



Will you let me go?

Silence. A wasted question. She was never going to die here.


(Faintly, dying)

You don't have long.


-and then the windshield wipers 

-and then, slowly, we hear running feet as ELGIN and the other disciples approach.


(Yelling, distant)



(Yelling, distant)

Paige! Paige! Somebody get a stretcher!




The kettle is boiling. The howling winds are weak and faint once more.


PAIGE is in bed; she stirs, faintly.

ELGIN, her voice weak with worry, is watching over her.


How are you feeling?



(A little croaky)

Good. I didn’t dream. First time in a long time.



Sleep of the almost dead.


You were lucky you found that cave.


Dan thinks it was a miracle. He’s offering up a litany to the Woundtree’s mercy as we speak.



What do you think?


ELGIN hesitates.



(Softly, sincerely)

I think...I’ve been thinking a lot, lately. About the way all of the holy books end.


The great prophets who'd spent their life too close to their god. Who'd lived too heavy with purpose, they’d seen too much. 


So they climb to the top of the mountain. They walk out into the storm.


They leave us behind.

(A little roughly)

Paige, I think I’d like to ask you, in all seriousness, not to go walking out into the storm any time soon. 


We need you here with us.



You really don’t. 


But I promise not to leave without saying goodbye, at least.


ELGIN goes to pour the tea. 



We found some supplies down there, by the way. A sleeping bag. A cache of canned food and some antibiotics.


And a body. Decades old, it looked like.


Some pilgrim who’d strayed too far out into the polluted lands, sheltered in the caves, and couldn’t get back out.


Trapped by the storms. Time and hunger did the rest.


She brings the tea over to PAIGE's bed. PAIGE sits there, thinking. 



Do you trust me, Elgin?




Of course I trust you. You…you never need to question that.



I trust you too. So I’m going to tell you something that’ll make you question me.

(Confessing it)

I know where we need to go from here.



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