Episode 2: Doesn’t Make Us Friends
Darkened Hallways is a product of Hear Me Out Productions. Find our other shows at hearmeoutproductions.com or wherever you get your podcasts, and follow us on social media @HearMeOutProd.
This show is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Thank you for visiting us at Sycamore Crossing. Come home soon – we’ll be waiting…
Mia: Previously on Darkened Hallways.
[SFX: Exciting recap music begins]
Mia: Sycamore Crossing. Strange name for an apartment complex.
Grey: Oh hey! Are you the infamous Mia?
Mia: Yeah, that’s me.
Grey: I’m Grey. Just to let you know, I use they/them pronouns.
Mia: Cool. I use she her.
Grey: I needed a new roommate fast because I can't pay for this place on my own.
Mia: I’d love to live here, if you’ll have me?
Mia: Oh hi! Are you Lauren? Grey mentioned you, but--
[SFX: Door slams]
Grey: The door across from ours, number 42? The devils themselves live behind it.
Oscar: You have awakened a dark presence...
Grey: Oh ha ha, very funny, Oscar.
Lauren: How did you like our graffiti?
Grey: Screw you, Lauren.
Mia: It looks like a crank? Did they sneak in here while they were calling us? What the hell? Let's get them back. Let's prank them so hard they end up being afraid of us.
Grey: Coast is clear, Eagle One. Let’s go.
Oscar: What are you two doing in here?
Lauren: Jesus, Grey, pranks are one thing, but breaking in is a red fricking line!
Grey: Fine, we're leaving!
[SFX: gasps, mysterious portal sound]
Oscar: What the hell was that?
Mia: Is it here for me?
[SFX: Recap music fades out]
[SFX: Theme music fades in]
Voiceover: Greetings, my friends. Set aside your burdens for a moment and listen to an interesting tale. It has queer friendships, a found family, a hot cup of tea, fringe science and something dark and mysterious in the corner of your eye. Sound like fun? There are troublesome times ahead, but there is light and warmth as well, so relax, dear listeners… You are entering the darkened hallways of Sycamore Crossing. Welcome home.
[SFX: Theme music plays out then ends]
[SFX: Washing dishes]
Mia: So… that just happened. Grey? You definitely saw the black hole too, right?
Grey: I guess.
Mia: Huh. Just making sure I didn’t just imagine it. After my nightmare… I don’t know what to think.
Grey: Hey, Mia?
Grey: Why is there a metal thing in the sink?
Mia: Oh. That’s the crank, the one that we thought Lauren and Oscar left in my bed yesterday… only I guess they didn’t.
Grey: Well, they're liars.
Mia: They didn't sound like they were lying.
Grey: So they're good liars. Come on, Mia, who else could have left the thing for you?
Mia: Maybe it's related to the thing that we just saw?
Grey: Ew, it's all rusty.
Mia: I'll rinse the crank off and just... stuff it somewhere. That’s what you’re supposed to do with your problems, right? Stuff them somewhere and hope they don’t come back to bite you in the ass? Speaking of, Grey, do you not want to talk about the black hole thing?
Grey: Not particularly.
[SFX: Someone knocks on the door.]
Grey: Who the hell is that?
Mia: I don't know.
[SFX: The knocking becomes more insistent.]
[SFX: Grey and Mia walk over to the door. Grey opens it.]
Lauren: Hey, neighbors.
Grey: Are you here to prank us?
Oscar: Would we announce our presence if we were?
Lauren: We're here to talk about what we just saw, obviously.
Grey: I didn't see anything.
Lauren: Oh, please. Mia, can I come in?
Mia: Uh, yes?
Grey: What are you, a vampire? Do we have to invite you in?
Lauren: No, I'm just being polite.
Grey: Then why didn't you ask me?
Lauren: Because I don't like you.
Oscar: Come on, let’s go sit in the living room. Talk this through.
[SFX: They walk over to the living room. All four of them sit down on couches and chairs.]
Lauren: Where did Sarah go, anyway?
Grey: I don't know. Maybe you bullied her away.
Lauren: Are you sure that was me and not you?
Grey: What's that supposed to mean?
Oscar: Guys, can we not do this? Let's discuss the elephant in the room, shall we?
Mia: That black hole?
Lauren: Ugh. Black hole? Is that what we’re calling it?
Oscar: Well, it’s not a black hole as in a dying star, Lauren. Stars can't actually fit inside apartment complexes.
[SFX: Unsettling music begins]
Lauren: Yes, obviously, don't patronize me, Oscar. I just meant... "black hole" doesn't cover it. It was something entirely different, you know? Indescribable. Unsettling. Can science explain this stuff?
Oscar: I don't know. I'm not a scientist like you. Mia?
Mia: Not a scientist either. I do study English literature, though.
Lauren: You should write a poem about this.
Grey: (snaps) What?
Oscar: Any input?
Grey: I'm not talking to you two. You're the enemy. Anyway, nothing happened. Nothing we can explain anyway. So why talk about it?
Mia: Talking helps, right?
Lauren: Grey would rather just play videogames until they have no more feelings.
Grey: I don't even have any feelings about this. It happened, now it's over. Get out of my apartment.
Mia: Has nothing like this ever happened before, though?
Lauren: A black hole? Never. Not in my presence, anyway.
Oscar: But... this place has always been strange. Sometimes I see something from the corner of my eye, like a smudge of darkness? And then I look and it's gone. Or sometimes I'll find random objects just lying around in the corridor. Like a wheel or a towel or a shoe.
Grey: It's just trash lying around. I throw my old socks into the corridor all the time.
Lauren: That was you?
Oscar: There's a strange atmosphere here, is all I'm saying. I guess that's why so many residents leave.
Lauren: Leave? More like, disappear.
Mia: Like Sarah.
Oscar: Yeah. I miss her.
Mia: I thought you were enemies?
Oscar: Nah, I always had fun doing the pranks. It's these two who take it too seriously.
Mia: Huh, OK...so what do we do now?
Grey: I'm leaving. I have work in half an hour.
Oscar: We'll continue this later, okay? I have work now too, but we can't just go back to how things used to be. Everything's changed. Lauren, why don't you give Mia a tour of the complex? Bet she hasn't looked around yet.
Mia: That's true! I haven't had time to explore!
Lauren: God, stop telling me what to do, Oscar. You're not my father.
Oscar: Whatever you say.
[SFX: Oscar leaves the room.]
Grey: Oh Mia, I forgot to ask - did you check in with the landlord yet? Show him your ID and references?
Mia: My… ID?
Grey: You know. Passport, driver’s license, whatever.
Mia: Yeah, I heard you! Um… I thought your ad said you didn’t care about identification? Something along those lines?
Grey: Oh, that! No, I just meant - like, I don’t need to see your identification. I hate showing mine to people because they’ll see my birth name and I just thought, you know, just in case my new roommate’s the same - I mean none of that’s my business… Like, obviously the landlord will need your info, right?
Lauren: Yes, that is how subletting works.
Mia: ...Yeah, of course. So when would he want to see my passport?
Grey: Honestly, whenever. I haven’t seen him in for-freaking-ever so he’s probably forgotten about it.
Lauren: I doubt he even noticed you’re here.
Mia: Oh, okay. Good. I mean… it’s good that I don’t have to deal with that right now. I just have a lot on my mind.
Lauren: Don’t we all.
Grey: Okay, I’m off. Mia, get rid of Lauren.
[SFX: Grey leaves the apartment.]
Lauren: (sighs) Are you ready for the tour?
Mia: Uh...you don't have to be my guide, you know. I can look around on my own.
Lauren: No, I actually want to. I hate it when Oscar tells me what to do, but that doesn't mean I don't want to do it. So yeah. Let's go.
[SFX: Mia and Lauren walk through the hallway as they talk.]
Mia: So...are you and Oscar dating?
Lauren: Oh my god, no, definitely not. We're both gay. We're best friends, though. That's why we live together. After high school, I wanted to go to college, while Oscar wanted to get into art and stuff. So now I'm studying artificial intelligence at the local university, and he's working at a museum in the city center.
Mia: That's amazing. I love that you two stayed together.
Lauren: I don't know what I'd do without him. You're a student too, right?
Mia: Um, yeah, I guess. I'm... an English major. At the same university as you, actually. But you're probably in a different building?
Lauren: Yeah. The way campus is organized, I don't think I've ever met a humanities student.
Mia: Well, here I am.
Lauren: Here you are indeed. How are you paying for this? Rich parents?
Mia: Oh, no, not exactly. I do translating work online.
Lauren: That's cool. I should really get a job too, but with Oscar, it's just too easy to not do anything. I know he'll take care of me. His job pays pretty well.
Mia: And you say he's not your dad...?
Lauren: He's definitely not my dad. He's younger than me, for god's sake. He's twenty-one and sixty days, and I'm twenty-one and ninety-three days.
Mia: You keep count of the days?
Lauren: Eh, it just sort of happens. My mind keeps track of things. So how old are you?
Lauren: Damn, I'm not the oldest anymore. Actually, I think Grey's twenty-two as well, but they don't count.
Mia: Why don't you like Grey?
Lauren: We're enemies.
Lauren: Anyway, I'm supposed to be your tour guide, right? This is the third floor. Six residents live here, but I only really know Mrs. Finley. She's a sweetheart, but also kind of a loner. She barely ever leaves her apartment. Okay, at the end of the hallway here is where the landlord has his office. His name is Mr. Greer, but Oscar and I just call him Mr. Grumps. Not to his face, though.
Mia: Is he nice?
Lauren: Nice? No. He's grumpy, and he smells bad, but he is good at fixing things.
[SFX: The rattling of an old elevator door. The elevator dings three times.]
Lauren: Come on, let’s go down to the second floor.
[SFX: The elevator door opens. The elevator dings twice.]
Lauren: Here we are. I don’t know anyone who lives on this floor, but at least one of these apartments has to be occupied.
Mia: What are these scratches on the wall? They look like... mathematical formulas?
Lauren: No idea. Oscar's always telling me to "decipher them," but just because I study artificial intelligence doesn't mean that I understand every single formula. Besides, "decipher" makes it sound like it's some kind of code. It's probably just random squiggles.
Mia: On a wall.
Lauren: I know. It's ridiculous. Vandalism and all that.
Mia: The writing looks old. How old is this place anyway?
Lauren: Fifty-three years and six months. You don't have to widen your eyes at me, I just have a good memory, okay?
[SFX: Eerie music begins]
But yeah, this used to be just a grass field. Then more people wanted to live around here so they needed more housing.
Mia: And now barely anyone lives here anymore.
Lauren: Exactly. If I could afford it, I could totally get my own apartment in here. Be Oscar's neighbor instead of his roommate. I'd miss him though.
Mia: How did you two become friends?
Lauren: Oh, you know. He was the new kid in school, he approached me and asked if I wanted to be friends, and I said "yes".
[SFX: Eerie music fades out]
Mia: It was that easy?
Lauren: Easiest relationship in my life. At the time, it was the only easy relationship in my life.
Mia: How so?
Lauren: Ugh, it's embarrassing. I didn't really have any friends. Everyone at school saw me as "the angry kid". And as for my family... well, at home I was even angrier.
Mia: You don't get on with your family?
Lauren: I do now, but at the time... Look, I have six siblings. Three of them older than me, three of them younger.
Mia: Wow. That's... a lot.
Lauren: Yeah. It's too many. Between the seven of us with only two parents to care for us, I felt pretty neglected. My parents didn't really neglect me, but I needed attention. So I'd get these angry outbursts that got me their attention, but not in a positive way. I don't know, I just had a lot of anger in me. And I was pretty lonely too...that's why I'm so glad Oscar approached me. On his first day at my high school, he just... walked right up to me. He could have been a popular kid - he was attractive and he was wearing the right kinds of clothes. A stylish jacket and designer jeans. But instead, he stuck with me.
Mia: Maybe you two were destined to be friends.
Lauren: I don't believe in that stuff. Maybe he just had impeccable queerdar. Or maybe he needed someone to fuss over, and he picked me. That sounds like Oscar.
[SFX: Eerie music starts playing as Mia and Lauren see something flicker. It makes a staticky noise.]
Mia: Did you… see that? A sort of dark flickering in the corner of your eye?
Lauren: Let's get back to the apartments, yeah?
Mia: Good idea.
[SFX: Eerie music stops. The elevator DINGS FOUR TIMES. The doors OPEN.]
Lauren: Here we are, our apartments. Time to go our separate ways.
Mia: Will we still hang out together? The four of us?
[SFX: Eerie music starts]
Lauren: Why would we? I know Oscar wants us all to be friends, but Grey clearly doesn't feel the same way.
Mia: But... we went through something together.
Lauren: We all saw something bizarre. So what? It doesn't make us friends. Doesn't make us anything. You look tired.
Mia: I am tired.
Lauren: You should take a nap. Goodnight, Mia. Or good afternoon. Whatever.
[SFX: Mia enters her apartmnet]
Mia: Grey? Right. They’re still at work. You know, Lauren was probably right, I should take a nap. I’ll shower first. Anxiety makes me sweaty.
[SFX:] Mia undresses, showers, brushes her teeth, dresses again, lies down in bed, and hits the light switch.]
Mia: (yawns) Just… the black hole… could it be my fault? Did I dream it into existence?
[SFX: Dream music. Mia's dreams sound echoey. Voices from her memoriess appear like distorted, ghostly whispers.]
Past Oscar: You have awakened a dark presence. Soon, it will devour you.
Past Grey: Oh, ha ha, very funny, Oscar.
PAST Mia: Grey? Did you leave a… a metal thing on my bed?
Past Oscar: Uh, what is that? Are you guys seeing what I’m seeing?
Past Grey: Mia, does that… does that look like the black hole you saw in your dream?
Past Lauren: What the hell was that?
Low Voice: Mia… Mia…
[SFX: A door slams shut. Dream music ends.]
Mia: (jerking awake) Ah!
[SFX: Mia breathes heavily]
Mia: It was just a dream this time… just a dream, Mia.
Grey: (from another room) Mia, I'm home!
Mia: (clears throat) How was work?
[SFX: Grey enters Mia's room]
Grey: Boring. Did I tell you what I do? I'm a cashier at the supermarket. Exciting stuff. Hey, are you okay? Did you have the nightmare again?
Mia: I think we need to call Lauren and Oscar over. I need to tell them something.
Grey: Ugh, fine. Let me just get changed.
[SFX: Scene transition music.]
Lauren: You're wearing a unicorn onesie?
Grey: Shut up, it's comfortable.
Oscar: I think it's cute, Grey.
Grey: Again, shut up.
Oscar: Mia, what did you want to talk about?
Mia: Have you guys had any... nightmares? About the black hole?
Lauren: About the black hole? No, not that I'm aware of.
Oscar: Me neither.
Mia: Okay. Well... I have. I had one before we even saw it in the hallway. I told Grey about it already.
Oscar: Was it like a premonition?
Mia: I don't know. But what if I caused the black hole? By dreaming about it?
Lauren: That's absurd.
[SFX: Unsettling music begins]
Oscar: Mia, you don't know that. We don't know anything.
Mia: At the very least, I seem to be connected to the hole somehow. In my dream it… it pulls me in. And the fact that I just had the nightmare again makes me think that this wasn't a one-time thing. The hole could appear again. Or something else might happen, I don't know. I have this foreboding feeling in my stomach.
Grey: Me too.
[SFX: Unsettling music fades out]
Grey: Yeah. I don't know. Like Oscar said this morning, this place has always been weird. And I've always tried to ignore it... because I don't want to leave. This is my home. I don't want my home to be terrifying.
Oscar: Why don't you want to leave?
Grey: Because! Because I lived here with Sarah. Because I've made good memories here. Because what if Sarah comes back and I'm gone? But you know what? You're right. This apartment complex, it's wrong somehow. Something's going on... something's always been up, but it's different now. I'd never seen a black hole like that before. That started yesterday.
Mia: When I moved in.
Lauren: Mia, if you blame yourself, I will literally fight you.
Oscar: Seconded. Well, in my case, not literally. Figuratively.
Grey: So what do we do?
Oscar: You don't want to leave, right? I'd rather not leave either. So we stay, and we figure this thing out. We team up to find out what's going on.
Lauren: "Team up"? What, like we're a band of superheroes?
Grey: Uh, pass.
Oscar: Come on, guys! We want to know what's going on here, don't we?
Mia: I sure do! I'm all for teaming up.
[SFX: Friendship music begins]
Oscar: Thank you. Can't we at least try? I'm sure we will get along. Look at us having a mature conversation right now.
Lauren: Fine. But I’m only doing it for you, Oscar.
Grey: Well, then I'm doing it for Mia.
Mia: Thanks, Grey.
Lauren: So what should we do? Besides keep an eye out for creepy happenings?
Oscar: We could dig into the history of Sycamore Crossing. There must be some information online...oh, maybe in the library.
Mia: Good. We need to know what we’re up against.
[SFX: Friendship music fades out]
[SFX: Darkened Hallways theme music fades in]
Voiceover: Darkened Hallways is written by Asa van der Lecq and produced by Kimberly Dauber. Our director is Kris Kim. Our production manager is Max Evans. Sound design is by John Bond, music is by Joelle Doriani, and cover art by Manon Groos. Our sensitivity reader is Stacey Parshall Jensen. This episode featured Victoria Longe as Mia, PJ Hernandez as Grey, Ari Sylvin as Lauren, and Kelvyn Koning as Oscar.
Darkened Hallways is a product of Hear Me Out Productions. Find our other shows at hearmeoutproductions.com or wherever you get your podcasts, and follow us on social media @HearMeOutProd. This show is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Thank you for visiting us at Sycamore Crossing. Come home soon - we'll be waiting.
[SFX: Darkened Hallways theme music ends]
Voiceover: Darkened Hallways is a creation of Hear Me Out Productions.
HMOP logotone: All we have are dreams and a microphone.
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