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The Play's the Thing: The Pirates of Candle Cove - Part 4 - The Play



* * *


When Stubb returned home that night, there was a tapping on his door. He wasn’t expecting anyone so he was quite disturbed. No one ever visited him in the terrible little attic room, it seemed. He took out his knife.


“Enter,†he said.


The door opened and Highgate stood there blinking.


“Hi gate,†Stubb quipped.


The other man didn’t laugh.


“We’re in too deep,†Highgate said.


“I know,†Stubb said.


“He tried to change it,†Highgate went on. “Ront tried to change the play. The play doesn’t like it. The play is alive.â€


“I know,†Stubb said.


“It wants to be told, but if it is, something terrible will happen. But if we try to stop it, something terrible will happen to us.â€


“So, something terrible will happen to the world or to us?â€


“Yes. We’re in it now. Our only hope is to ride it out and hope to survive. And Machel. He’ll be up there in the best seat in the house, just watching. He planned all of this.â€


“Is he the Sea Witch?â€


“Just do the show!â€


“So, you’re─â€


“Don’t try to change things. You’ll just make it worse.â€


“So, you’re saying that … basically … the world’s going to Hell or we’re going to Hell.â€


“If we can survive this, we survive it.â€


Highgate opened the door again. He pointed at Stubb.


“I’m not going to be happy if anybody else besides me dies,†Stubb said.


“It’ll be fine!†Highgate said.


He closed the door and Stubb heard him stomp down the stairs.


* * *


On Friday, July 27, 1600, it was somewhat overcast and gloomy. There was a good breeze, however. The flag erected over the globe was a pirate flag to represent the play. A black flag was also flown to indicate a tragedy was being shown at the playhouse.


They had a short rehearsal of The Pirates of Candle Cove before the show that afternoon. Stubb found Hawksworth and Massingberd and told them of his meeting with Highgate. Hawksworth didn’t want to hear it.


“Wait, so you’re saying either we’re gonna die or a lot of people are gonna die?†Massingberd asked.


“Why does anyone have to die?†Hawksworth said.


“All of us or something worse,†Stubb said. “Worse than death.â€


“What could be worse than death?†Massingberd said.


“Living deaths,†Stubb said.


“Boys, can’t we just … can’t we just … what were you saying?†Hawksworth said.


“Don’t we have the responsibility to do what it takes so that everybody doesn’t die?†Massingberd asked.


“That’s what I think,†Stubb said.


“Well, what do we do?†Massingberd asked.


“Look, the play’s already bad enough,†Hawksworth said. “If we do it wrong, they’ll die from boredom!â€


“Well maybe that’s what’s going on!†Massingberd said. “Either we’re going to die from boredom while we do it, or they’re going to die from boredom … wait.â€


“Really?†Stubb said. “You think that’s what this is about?â€


“I don’t know,†Massingberd said. “I’m lost. I’m completely … I don’t even know who I am.â€


“He said the play’s alive, the play’s haunted,†Stubb said.


“That’s not even a thing!â€


“Is it not? Are walking puppets a thing? Are puppets that are destroyed and just evaporate back together?â€


“You can’t touch it! You can’t pick up a play!â€


“You can’t pick up pieces of a puppet─â€


“Yes, you can!â€


“─that are smashed together.â€


“With your hands!â€


Hawksworth muttered something and walked away. Stubb followed him and continued to badger him about doing something. Hawksworth told him to stop but he insisted if he did, the world would end. Hawksworth realized changing the play could improve it, if it could be done subtly during the show.


“I’ve worked so hard … on my lines,†he said.


“I know,†Massingberd said. “It’s brilliant work that you’ve been doing.â€


“Shut up,†Stubb said.


“p*** off!†Hawksworth said.


“It’s really an inspiration to all of us,†Massingberd said. “That’s my reservation. If we don’t do the play, Hawksworth … he doesn’t get to act! He did all this work for nothing!â€


“Acting’s all I do!†Hawksworth said.


“Have you gone back a week in your brain where nothing’s happened since then!?!†Stubb said.


“What brain?†Massingberd said.


“Exactly!†Stubb said.


“I just say, let’s just do the play, all right?†Hawksworth said.


“We’re all going to die!†Stubb muttered. “Everyone’s going to die. There’s going to be demons released on the Earth. It’s going to be your fault.â€


“You’ve been talking to a drunkard!†Hawksworth said. “Highgate’s been drunk for weeks!â€


“Why are you all acting like you’ve never seen the puppets!?!†Stubb said.


“I don’t want to talk about the puppets!†Hawksworth said. “I just don’t! I want to do the play!â€


“What if we throw the puppets away right now?†Massingberd said.


“I don’t want to hear it!†Hawksworth said.


“They’ll be back in 10 minutes,†Stubb said.


“Well yeah ...†Massingberd said. “I got … I got at least one break every 10 minutes or so. I’ll keep the puppets outta here! Every time I see the puppets show back up, I’ll get rid of them. They won’t be in the way, and everybody will be fine.â€


“Unless it’s angry,†Stubb said. “You saw what happened to George and the play hadn’t even happened yet.â€


“But …†Massingberd said.


“What if the puppets kill you?†Stubb said. “Instead of you killing them?â€


“I’ve had enough of the puppet talk for today,†Hawksworth said. “I have to go.â€


“If the last thing I see is Hawksworth’s brilliant work … I’ve a good life,†Massingberd said.


“Talking about his front work or his back work?†Stubb said.


“They’re the same,†Massingberd said. “Equally fantastic.â€


The two men looked at each other.


“Look, Stubbs, have you ever really watched him?†Massingberd finally asked.


“No, because I don’t look at that kind of stuff!†Stubb said.


“He … transforms the stage,†Massingberd said.


“We’re not talking about acting!†Stubb shouted.


“I bet …†Massingberd went on.


“Why is this so hard?†Stubb moaned. “I don’t understand why!â€


The rehearsals went normally that morning and the theatre filled up with people for the show that afternoon, meaning there were around 2,000 people in the building. The pit was filled, the audience standing nearly shoulder to shoulder.


As soon as the first line of the play was read, the smell of ozone seemed to fill the air. During the first few minutes of the play, the smell of the sea came and went oddly. Then the play got underway as normal. In the first act, Isaac was a lad in London who worked as a carpenter’s apprentice. He was press-ganged into joining a naval ship under Lord Captain Candle. By the end of the act, Lord Captain Candle’s ship was attacked by the pirate ship Laughingstock and Isaac escaped to the pirate ship.


During the battle near the end of the act, some of the spear-carriers and minor actors got a little rowdy. The audience loved it. Stubb was injured during the melee when Hugh Gray hit him with his wooden sword in the arm and bloodied the man. Hawksworth felt like he was fighting for his life. During the same scene, he felt like he was actually on the deck of a ship at sea. The blood was real, as were some of the deaths, and the sky was not a natural color, but more purplish than blue. It only lasted a moment.


Act II started after only a minute or two.


“It’s so surreal out there!†Hawksworth said. “It’s like I’m really on a pirate ship.â€


“Yeah, everybody’s a little too involved,†Stubb said.


“What happened to you?†Hawksworth said, noticing the blood on Stubb’s arm.


“Yeah,†Stubb muttered.


“Hawksworth, you’re not hurt, are you?†Massingberd said.


“No, of course not,†Hawksworth said. “No one would hurt the main actor.â€


“I’m going to die today,†Stubb said.


“Who did that?†Massingberd asked him.


“One of them’s that … something’s in their heads,†Stubb said. “Demons in their head.â€


“Who?†Hawksworth said. “I want to know who hit you!â€


“You make sure they don’t lay a finger … on Hawksworth!†Massingberd said.


Stubb just glared at him.


“I will box your ears,†he finally said.


He spotted Hugh Gray.


“Give it up, will ya!?!†he said to the man.


“Oh, I’m sorry,†Gray said. “I’m so sorry.â€


“Calm down,†Stubb said. “Don’t let your head get wrapped up in it. Tell everyone to not listen to their heads if it gets weird.â€


“Sorry,†Gray said. “Sorry Barnaby. Sorry.â€


“We got to listen to our heads,†Hawksworth said. “At least wait until Act III before you go crazy man. At least.â€


Gray fetched a bandage for Stubb and told him it looked great.


“It looks real,†Hawksworth told him.


“It is real!†Stubb said.


“Hawksworth, you’ve got a great eye,†Massingberd said.


“I think … honestly … I think that something’s messing with our heads,†Stubb said. “And they’re getting too involved and it’s trying to be real or something.â€


“It’s like a real pirate ship!†Hawksworth said. “No one else felt it?â€


“Places!†someone said. “Places!â€


“Felt what?†Stubb said.


“I’ll tell you later,†Hawksworth said.


“You know what Hawksworth, it was probably my music,†Massingberd said. “It took you away.â€


Act II began. The Laughingstock set course for England to return Isaac but became lost in a storm and found themselves near the island of the Sea Witch in the island of Candle Cove. They were trying to decide whether or not to talk to the witch.


Massingberd left his seat in the tiny orchestra and went to the spot where the megaphone was sitting. He was supposed to be the voice of the ghost of the Laughingstock for the scene. But he couldn’t find the device. It was nowhere. The cue for the line came but Massingberd was still unable to find the megaphone. The actors on stage started to cover for the mistake by continuing their debate about seeing the Sea Witch. Massingberd finally found it.


“You have … to go … inside …†an eerie voice came from the curtained area where they had found the door one of the first days of rehearsal.


Massingberd crept to the niche as the actors on stage continued with the play. He peeked inside but it was completely empty. There was no way someone could have gotten out of the spot without him seeing but no one was there.


Captain Percival decided to ask the Sea Witch for advice. However, when the Sea Witch entered for his scene. Titus Ufford, playing the part, looked more terrifying than they had ever seen him look before. The makeup was terribly realistic and he looked like nothing so much as a dead mermaid that was rotten. He stunk as well and Stubb frowned.


“That’s not Titus!†he muttered to the actors around him.


One of the actors fainted dead away. Both Hawksworth and Stubb began to babble incoherently.


“Hawksworth, what’s happening!?!†Massingberd said.


He and Stubb continued to babble incoherently for about a minute, merely staring at the terrible thing. While they blathered, she told them the way to England from their present location, but demanded a price: all of Captain Percival’s treasure or one of his crew. He was about to hand over the treasure when Joseph Threelegs suggested giving her Isaac, Stubb having finally stopped gibbering. The crew agreed, but in song, Captain Percival changed their mines and they decided to leave Joseph Threelegs instead.


“That’s the power of music, boys,†Hawksworth said of the song.


It was one of the lines he had added to the show.


The Sea Witch suddenly moved on Stubb, tentacles twitching and mouth opening and closing nastily.


“I’m gonna die,†Stubb muttered. “Help me.â€


Both Hawksworth and Massingberd noticed, as Stubb started to scream when the Sea Witch grabbed him, that he looked a lot like George Ront in the light.


“Highgate!†Stubb screamed.


The Sea Witch dragged the screaming Stubb from the stage. After he was dragged offstage, the screams sounded real. The other actors left the other side of the stage to end the Act.


“I … mumbled for a bit,†Hawksworth said to Massingberd backstage as they prepared for Act III.


“You did,†Massingberd said. “That was … strange. Where’s Stubbs? Where’s Stubbs? Was this supposed to happen?â€


“I … uh … I … uh …†Hawksworth said. “Um … stage left …â€


“Are you all right?†Massingberd said.


“You go …†Hawksworth said.


“Are you sure you’re all right?†Massingberd said. “You want a beer?â€


“No,†Hawksworth said.


“You want my axe?†Massingberd said.


He had brought the tool with him to the show that night and left it under his chair.


“I can’t,†Hawksworth said. “Will you find Stubbs?â€


“I’ll be right back!†Massingberd said. “Don’t let anything happen to you.â€


“Unless the scene starts,†Hawksworth said. “Then I gotta go.â€


Massingberd went in search of Stubb. He found the man backstage on the left side with Ufford, sitting with their backs against a wall. Both of them stared blankly at the wall in front of them.


“Oi, Stubbs,†Massingberd said. “You all right?â€


Neither of the men responded.


“Stubbs?†Massingberd said. “Stubbs?â€


He shook Stubb and the man finally noticed him.


“Stubbs?†Massingberd said.


The man stared at him. He didn’t remember anything after the Sea Witch dragged him away.


“What happened?†Massingberd said.


“Is it over?†Stubb asked.


“What?†Massingberd said.


“The play,†Stubb said.


“The play? No. We’re at Act III.â€


“It’s been like a year …â€




“I don’t know.â€


“It … uh … Titus, are you all right?â€


“What?†Ufford muttered.


“I don’t smell it anymore …†Stubb said.


“What just happened?†Ufford said.


“Did you smell it?†Stubb said.


“Smell what?†Ufford replied.


“Exactly,†Stubb said.


“You two were just on stage,†Massingberd said.


“Did we do our scene?†Ufford asked.


“Yeah!†Massingberd said. “It was good. That was really good, Stubbs.â€


“Don’t you start following me, now,†Stubb said.


“I probably will,†Massingberd confessed.


“Wait, we did our scene?†Ufford said.


“Yeah,†Massingberd said.


“Where are we?†Ufford said. “Where are we?â€


“You did not look like you,†Stubb said to Ufford. “Is all I remember. And you stank like you stuck your head in a bucket of fish heads.â€


“Stubbs, that was the weird thing,†Massingberd said. “You looked like George.â€


“I don’t remember,†Ufford said.


“George is dead,†Stubb said. “Maybe I’m dead. Am I dead?â€


“Well … uh … no,†Massingberd said. “You’re talking.â€


Ufford pinched Stubb in the shoulder and Stubb let out a cry.


“Shush!†Ufford said. “We’re backstage.â€


“Here, let me get you both a beer,†Massingberd said.


“Beer!†Ufford cried. “It’s not a dream.â€


“Something is wrong,†Stubb said as Massingberd went to get them both a mug of beer. “This play’s possessed, it is.â€


“I’ve got to get changed,†Ufford said, stumbling to his feet. “If we’re in Act III, I’ve gotta get changed.â€


He walked away as Massingberd returned with the beer.


“Well, this is weird,†he said. “You got any more parts, Stubbs?â€


“Yeah … all of ‘em,†Stubb said.


“You got ‘em all?†Massingberd said.


“I’ve got all my other parts,†Stubb replied. “I think my soul’s slippin’ away.â€


“Stubbs, it’s almost over!â€


“I think my soul’s …â€


“Drink it.â€


“Thank you. I feel like I’ve been screaming for a year.â€


He took the beer Massingberd handed him and drank it down.


Hawksworth, meanwhile, was not drinking beer any more. He would swish it around in his mouth to wet his whistle and then spit it out.


Act III began with Lord Captain Candle brining in the notorious pirate-hunter, a Spaniard named the Skin-Taker, to pursue the Laughingstock. With him came his imp and when it was first introduced it was terrible to behold, especially when Lord Captain Candle asked why its jaws moved the way they did and it intoned “To grind your skin!†The voice was hideous and seemed to be coming from the marionette’s mouth. With the Skin-Taker came his French first mate Horace, who also had a pact with the devil and an imp that resembled him.


Meanwhile, the Laughingstock stopped at several islands in Candle Cove, meeting several fantastic creatures such as mermaids, ash people, shadowlings, and giant penguins. Most of the creatures they met were dealt with via shadow or tricks of the light, though the creatures were very odd. The mermaids were sinister with nearly white eyes and terrible teeth. The ash people were described as dogs with the heads of demons and terrible horns. The giant penguins were massive creatures the size of a house that preyed on human flesh.


When they spoke of the Shadowlings, the shadows of the stage seemed to glow darker, as if a cloud had blown over the sun. Then the darkness seemed to move of its own accord and what appeared to be two shadowlings actually appeared on one side of the stage. The shadows themselves moved! It was as if, against all rhyme or reason, they were alive. Then, horror of horrors, they pulled themselves away from the walls and stood. They were the size and shape of men, but their heads blurred into their bodies as if they were hooded or they had no necks. Their heads had no mouths or noses, but two spots on the front, an area divest of shadow, indicated where they thought their eyes must be.


One of the audience in the pit fainted dead away at the sight of them.


“Should I go kill Machel, who’s in the audience?†Stubb whispered to Hawksworth.


“Whut?†Hawksworth muttered. “Whut? You know what happened to George.â€


“I’m not quittin’ the play, I’m just─†Stubb said.


“You’d be dithering from the play,†Hawksworth said. “You’d be doing something different. Like George did.â€


They both realized, however, George was trying to change the play from outside. He wasn’t trying to subtly manipulate the play but change it completely. They wondered if they might be able to change the play from within.


“I’m sorry Stubbs,†Hawksworth said. “I’m startin’ t’ see it all now.â€


“We act out a good ending,†Stubb said. “Instead of everybody dying. What if we make it a comedy or something?â€


“Or if I act out of turn ... oh! I don’t want to,†Hawksworth said. “I’ve never done bad in a play.â€


“This is different,†Stubb said.


“But …â€


“There are demons possessing the audience!â€


“Oh … all right … I’ll … I’ll change my lines.â€


“And nobody dies in the end?â€


“You help me improvise, all right? Just go with whatever I do.â€


They discussed what they might be able to change in the next act. Hawksworth said they should make sure the character of Milos didn’t die in Act IV. Milos was played by Roland Jay who was a fairly good actor. The character was supposed to be killed by Percival, played by Alfred Kent, when the Skin-Taker’s crew caught up with the Laughingstock. Hawksworth suggested they smuggle Milos off stage so he wouldn’t die for the audience.


“I’ll stop Kent,†he said. “You get Jay. I’ll stop Kent. You get Jay.â€


“How do I stop … oh no, you’re stopping Kent,†Stubb said.


“I’m stopping Kent,†Hawksworth said. “Percival and Isaac are supposed to be friends, but I’m gonna duel him!â€


“I’ll take him to safety in a rowboat to shore,†Stubb said.


“Say that when you take him offstage,†Hawksworth said.


Stubb made his way to where Massingberd was sitting and told him not to play the score the way he had learned it. When Massingberd asked what he would play, Stubb told him something nicer.


“That won’t be hard,†Massingberd said.


Stubb also told Massingberd their plan. When Massingberd told the other musicians they were changing the music, one of them said “Oh, thank God!â€


Hawksworth found Stubb.


“People change when they’re on that stage,†he told him. “You tell Jay that this is the new change, sent down from above - Machel. Tell him Machel told us to change it. You have to tell him before he gets on the stage because everybody’s heads get swimmy.â€


“Okay,†Stubb said.


“I’m not telling Kent through,†Hawksworth said. “I’m gonna duel him!â€


“Don’t stab him,†Stubb said.


He found Jay.


“Jay!†he said.


“Yes, wha?†Jay said.


The actor tended to talk through his nose. He was also Welsh and not always easy to understand. He wasn’t a great actor but he had a handsome face so he was often on stage.


“Last minute change,†Stubb told him. “Just follow my lead on the stage. I don’t know why he’s doin’ it this late.â€


“These rich folks,†Jay said. “We never had ‘em in Wales.â€


“You’re not going to die this scene,†Stubb said. “You’re gonna escape.â€


“What?†Jay said.




“Do oi get a speech?â€


“Do you want a speech?â€


“Well, I don’t want it if I don’t get it.â€




“Will the prompters give it to me?â€


“You won’t have to worry about it.â€


“No speech?â€


“It’s the same─â€


“All right … I never get a speech.â€


Hawksworth found Stubb again. He told Stubb just as Milos was going to die, Stubb would take him offstage and escape.


“Once you get Milos offstage, I’ll reveal that I was working for the Skin-Taker all along,†Hawksworth said.


“But we’re supposed to do subtle changes!†Stubb said.


“And I’m not going to England!†Hawksworth said.


“Subtle changes!†Stubb said again. “Just say you don’t believe in such violence and you challenge him to a duel.â€


Act IV opened with the Skin-Taker’s unnamed ship finding the Laughingstock and attacking it. Massingberd had changed the music to something less grating. The pirate hunters attacked, boarding the Laughingstock amidst explosions offstage of the cannon of the unnamed ship. A pitched battle followed, Milos leading the way.


The two imp marionettes also charged across the stage. They were not upstage under the gallery and there was no sign of the marionettists. The marionettes were literally running out onto the stage without strings or wires attached to them at all. The voice of the Skin-Taker’s Imp shrieked about grinding their skin. The Horace Imp merely laughed maniacally.


The puppets killed the marionettists, Stubb thought.


Kent, playing Percival, suddenly screamed in rage, drew his sword, and rushed Jay, who was playing Milos.


“Milos … my son … you’re still alive,†Stubb yelled nervously, trying to remember the plan.


He rushed to get between the two. Hawksworth ran to block Kent from Jay as well but Kent knocked him down. Kent swung away at Jay, apparently trying to take off his head, but struck the man in the shoulder and drew blood. Jay looked very surprised at actually being injured. He made his way to the edge of the stage. Hawksworth got up and tried to stop Kent without success and Stubb tried to escort Jay offstage but found himself blocked by other actors.


Across the stage, Massingberd watched Hawksworth carefully. The second he thought his actor friend was in trouble, he planned to leap into action.


“Percival! Stop this violence!†Hawksworth yelled.


Kent shoved the boy off and stomped towards Milos. Stubb stood between the two men and drew his sword, trying to block Kent’s blow.


“Not my son!†he cried.


He was not effective with blocking Kent’s blow with his sword. Kent struggled to strike Jay but only swung his sword wildly at the man.


“Get to the lifeboat son!†Stubb called.


Hawksworth tried to block Kent, who again shoved him aside. Then Stubb shoved Jay offstage.


The action on the stage suddenly stopped and the actors looked around, confused. The act was ending but Milos had gotten offstage alive. Then Stubb ran back onstage.


“Isaac, come with us!†he said. “Thank you for helping us.â€


Hawksworth looked at the man.


“I don’t want to go to England,†he said.


“Come away from this violent life,†Stubb said.


“I want to be a pirate,†Hawksworth said.


He looked uncomfortable.


“This vile life!†Stubb said.


“We will have to still go,†Kent said, recovering. “We must still go!â€


“I’m not going!†Hawksworth said.


“We’ll discuss this later!†Kent said.


“I’m not going!†Hawksworth said.


“We’ll discuss this later!†Kent said again.


“Not going!†Hawksworth said.


Kent grabbed him by the arm and dragged the boy offstage as the rest of the actors exited.


As they changed for Act V, Hawksworth found Stubb and Massingberd.


“He’s going to try to take me to England … but I’m not going,†Hawksworth said. “I want to be a pirate.â€


He thought a moment.


“Do you think you could hold off the other actors while I go on stage alone?†Hawksworth said.


“To do what alone?†Stubb said.


“To be a pirate?†Massingberd said.


“To do a monologue,†Hawksworth said.


“Yeah,†Massingberd said. “We can do that.â€


Hawksworth decided he would go on stage before the act was supposed to start.


“You all just make sure nobody tries to stop me before I’m done,†Hawksworth said.


“All right,†both Stubb and Massingberd said together.


“Machel wants a meeting, right now before the fifth act, c’mon!†Stubb said.


“Right now!†Massingberd said. “Right now!â€


None of the actors seemed to care. It was the middle of the show and the actors were too busy to deal with anything but the play.


“The puppets are alive!†Stubb said. “Come and look at it.â€


“Someone dropped 30 pounds backstage!†Massingberd called.


People started telling them to shut up. Stubb started dancing and most of the actors ignored him, noting that Stubb had gone mad. Massingberd convinced a few of them that they were going to add the dance to the play.


Hawksworth, in the confusion, walked out onto the stage. The audience quieted themselves as he took center stage. His sword was still in his hand.


“These past few days I’ve seen a lot that I never thought I would have,†he said, making up the monologue as he went. “With Percival, the Skin-Taker, Joseph Threelegs, and those evil demon puppets. I’ve seen too much violence and too much hatred and I just can’t take it anymore. I’m not going to England! I just can’t do it anymore!â€


He could see Highgate in one of the hidden spots for prompters looking desperately through a script. Then he looked upwards fearfully as if he thought lightning would strike him. Then Hawksworth ran himself through with his fake sword, shoving it under one of his arms. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very good death scene and the audience didn’t seem too convinced by his speech.


Massingberd had watched the monologue from backstage.


It was beautiful, he thought.


That’s when the rest of the actors ran out onto the stage, flustered by the change of events.


“Isaac!†Kent said. “Isaac! No! He can’t be dead! We’ve got to go to England! We’ve got to get you to England!â€


Other actors tried to get their lines spoken but not necessarily in order. Kent tried to rally but had a tough time and finally he stated they would take Isaac’s body to England, calling him the “son he never had.†He used the speech he was supposed to recite when Isaac actually put ashore.


“He would only be honored if he had a burial at sea!†Stubb said.


He tried to roll the prone Hawksworth away but Kent stopped him.


“No!†he said, grabbing Isaac. “Stop! Stop there crewman! We will take his body back to England. Yes! We will take his body back to England!â€


He looked offstage desperately and there were finally explosions offstage, the sound of cannon fire.


“It’s the Skin-Taker’s ship!†Kent cried. “It’s caught us again!â€


“It’s up to you now,†Hawksworth whispered to Stubb.


“You have … to go … inside …†reverberated across the stage.


Massingberd looked over to where the megaphone sat offstage. No one was near it.


“You see!†Stubbs cried. “He has to go inside the sea!â€


He tried to grab Isaac again but Kent still had Hawksworth tight in his grip. Then the stage felt like it was moving under their feet. They could all hear the sea and actually feel the salt spray. It got darker overhead and rain suddenly started to fall as thunder and lightning played across the sky.


Hawksworth suddenly started crying uncontrollably.


“He’s alive!†Kent called. “Get a physician!â€


“I’m a doctor!†Stubbs said.


“I didn’t die for this,†Hawksworth said, sobbing.


“His spirit is saddened because he knows you want to take him to England!†Stubb called. “You must give him his proper burial at sea!â€


“What’s the matter with Hawksworth!?!†Massingberd cried.


The stage looked like it was actually being torn apart with cannonballs as the explosions continued offstage.


“Please throw him overboard right now!†Stubb cried.


Then the Skin-Taker and his crew of pirate hunters ran onto the stage.


“No, he can’t be dead!†Kent said.


“His spirit is weeping!†Stubb cried. “Let him go! Look, the pirates are here to join forces with us so we can sail the seven seas together!â€


“You’re wrong!†Dennis Thornburgh, playing the Skin-Taker, shouted. “We’re here to kill you, Percival!â€


The marionettes ran onto the stage as well. Again, they were not tied to any wires or strings and moved of their own accord.


“To grind you skin!†the Skin-Taker’s Imp shrieked. “To grind your skin!â€


He rushed Stubb.


“I’m gonna grind your skin!†Stubb screamed at him.


Massingberd had been creeping towards Hawksworth as a free-for-all began between the pirates and the pirate hunters. He took advantage of the confusion to run at the Skin-Taker’s imp with his axe. Kent put Hawksworth down and drew his wooden sword for his final battle with the Skin-Taker. The last scene was supposed to be a massacre, with everyone dying but the Skin-Taker and his horrible imp.


The Skin-Taker marionette rushed Stubb with a sickening cry and scratched Stubb in the face, going for his eyes. At the same moment, Massingberd tried to take off the terrible thing’s head but swung too high and merely knocked the leather hat from the terrible marionette’s head. Stubb tried to kick the marionette but the blow was merely glancing and didn’t harm the terrible puppet.


Hawksworth was on the floor between Percival and the Skin-Taker. He started to roll towards the front of the stage.


“His water burial!†Stubb called.


Hawksworth rolled off the end of the stage into the audience. Both Percival and the Skin-Taker stopped in mid swing to watch. Right after Hawksworth rolled off the stage, there was a loud splash from that part of the stage. For a moment, Hawksworth couldn’t breathe.


“Where did he go!?!†a man in the audience screamed.


Percival and the Skin-Taker just looked downstage, both of them very confused.


Massingberd swung at the marionette with his axe again. He clipped the thing in the head but it was only a glancing blow and didn’t seem to hurt the thing or damage it. The imp turned to him and launched at Massingberd, who screamed. The thing latched onto Massingberd with his terrible, grinding teeth but only managed to maul the man’s shirt and jacket, ripping them before falling to the ground again.


“You have … to go … inside …†reverberated through the theater.


Stubb rushed between Percival and the Skin-Taker, pushing them both apart.


“Let us not let Hell overtake us and our souls!†he said. “Let us end this in peace and go on and sail the ocean in its mighty glory.â€


The audience roared with approval for the speech.


“Let us have our dear Isaac’s death be a lesson!†Stubb went on, getting caught up in the moment. “Let us not be like the Capulets and the Montagues and use this death to realize that life is too important to squabble over and let us just take a moment to remember Isaac as he was fallen into his watery grave.â€


He gestured downstage.


Massingberd dropped his axe and pulled the flute out of his pocket, playing a sad, mournful tune.


* * *


After he fell off the stage, Hawksworth was convinced, for several moments, that he was somehow drowning under water. He realized he was laying on the ground in front of the bunting in front of the stage, his breath having been knocked out of him. He rolled under the bunting and disappeared under the stage.


* * *


The house seemed to love the ending Stubb was trying to make out of the play. Kent and Thornburgh glared at each other at first, but the cheering of the audience didn’t stop. They looked at the audience and then Kent got a look in his eye.


“Indeed!†he cried. “Indeed!â€


He launched into a long monologue about life and death and Isaac and how the world could be changed for the better. They recognized it as a speech from another play, but it worked in the context they had created. Then Thornburgh made a speech as the Skin-Taker, noting since his brother was saved, he must find a different path in his life.


A few people in the audience had fainted during the combat and others had screamed and fled the theater. However, by the end of the play, the audience was eating up every word despite the improvisation the actors were doing.


The play ended and the actors took their bows. The marionettes had fallen to the ground at the end of the play and didn’t move. During bows, Stubb looked for Machel but saw the chair he’d been sitting in was vacant.


The play was a relative success. No one asked for their money back and no one had thrown fruit or rotten vegetables.


Over the next week, Machel contacted the playhouse, demanding the money he’d invested in it back. The man claimed the play a failure and threatened the Globe with a lawsuit. As the play was considered a success, he didn’t have a leg to stand on.


Stubb had found every copy of the script that he could, collected them all, and burned them. He also destroyed the two marionettes.


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Finished reading this a few days ago and I really enjoyed it. The play script and the character's frustrations came across really well - having some theatre experience myself it really stood out. I wish the players had uncovered a bit more of the plot - I'm curious about the disappearing door, the financier, the ghostly message, and the other elements of the play. It was a very entertaining read though.


It was a custom made scenario correct? Nice job on it :)

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Finished reading this a few days ago and I really enjoyed it. The play script and the character's frustrations came across really well - having some theatre experience myself it really stood out. I wish the players had uncovered a bit more of the plot - I'm curious about the disappearing door, the financier, the ghostly message, and the other elements of the play. It was a very entertaining read though.


It was a custom made scenario correct? Nice job on it :)

Thanks! Yeah, the players were, for the most part, so interested in just getting the play actually done that they didn't do as much investigation as I wanted. Next time the hook is "Investigate this guy." I can give a little away - the disappearing door was an actual doorway to Candle Cove - going in much further would have actually been very, very bad as it's a very bad place. The financier was trying to cast a spell, using the POW of the people in the audience, to connect more solidly Candle Cove with the real world. Doing so would have meant death and/or madness for many in the audience (notice he left before the play was finished?) and, though would not have otherwise had any serious implications, it would have potentially led to worse things years after this. "You have ... to go ... inside ..." is what the Laughingstock always said - following its advice would also not have been great.


Yes, thanks, I wrote this one drawing heavily on the Candle Cove Creepypasta and some of the other things people have written about Candle Cove. We also had a model of the Globe that was nearby but too big to really have on the table so it was not used as much as I would have liked.


This weekend I run another non-1920s game with "Madness or Death: The Nickerbocker's Tale" which takes place in Providence, R.I. in 1778 during the American Revolution. Look for the write up sometime next week.

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