31 down’s METRONOMA

METRONOMA

 

Characters:

H.P. Lovecraft, a fantasy writer who created the famed Cuthulhu Mythos.

Robert Bloch, a pulp novelist that went on to write the novella PSYCHO.

Metronoma, a shape shifting Fungi from Yuggoth (the ninth planet of our solar system)

 

 

Setting: 

Arkham. Mass. [1] 1937.

 

On stage Left is the flowered wallpaper study of Lovecraft.  This consists of a library, an old armchair, an old phonograph recorder, a lamp and a miniature tea table and chair.

 

There is a window on the center wall; on the Left wall there is a shelf that holds letters and stationary of Lovecraft’s as well as a black metal canister. The shelf is book-ended by two framed oval portraits of Lovecraft’s Aunts. 

 

The Stage Right wall holds a framed drawing that resembles a Himalayan Mountain drawing by Nicholi Roerich. [2] 

 

 

On Stage Right is the empty void of a hotel room in Arkham, Mass.  There is a foldable roll-away bed, a small night table holding a green lamp and an old radio. A suitcase is opened on a stand.

 

Down stage right is the hotel bathroom with an old sink, a tiled floor and a shower.

 

Stage center is the natural world where Metronoma lay.  She is placed before a large screen that masks a pod from outer space.


 

PreShow:  Popular music[3] comes from an old radio in Lovecraft’s study.

 

The lights fade and the music follows. 

The Love Theme from METRONOMA is heard as we see Bloch enter the dark study of Lovecraft with a flashlight.  He examines books and drawers and soon locates a small black book which may be the Necronomicon.  He opens it and starts to read as the book emits a cloud of smoke that causes Bloch to disappear.

 

 

 

Scene 1:

We hear Bloch’s voice as we now see him in the hotel room at stage Left.  Bloch, in flashing neon lights, opens the door on the small night table.  He removes what seems to be the Bible from the nightstand and replaces it with the small black book.  He slides the replaced book under the bed as we hear this monologue in voice over:

 

Taking the life of one of your friends isn’t an easy thing to do, but for me…I was invited.

It’s not like I even thought about it much before the invitation…but once I received the notice…it’s all I could think about.

I was seventeen at the time I did it…but…hell…I don’t remember what it’s like to be seventeen anymore…I felt much older at the time.

I know that if I didn’t do it like I was told to…the world wouldn’t be the way it is…

I’m not saying that I’m not crazy…hell, I never thought it would come to that…

But I knew that if I didn’t do it the way he told me to…I’d never be who I am today…

Isn’t that right…METRONOMA?

 


 

The lights darken and we hear Bloch’s voice again in voice over:

 

Here's where it begins...in the dark...it's not as if it always begins here...but for now, I guess it does...

I first started writing H.P. Lovecraft when I was fifteen...he was a hero of mine and I read every incredible yarn that he spun in "weird tales"

I loved that rag, and I was eager to read every tale that Lovecraft wrote.

He was a solid writer... wrote fantasy as if he was writing for the "Science" journal...

I mean, I almost believed every word this guy wrote, but it wasn't until he started writing me that I believed everything...everything.

It's some sort of dreamy pleasure to get a well written letter...like  a warm smile from a girl on the train......a letter that you read over and over...sometimes you even pin it up over your bed to let it watch over you at night.

The more letters I got from Lovecraft, the more personal the correspondence became...we were becoming friends...

The words began to possess me...his letters, the ease of his cursive...he always wrote in longhand...everything...all of his stories, by hand.

then the letters began to get more urgent...like he was warning me of something out of one of his stories, like words out of time...about the end of the world and all...

he wrote to me about how he had been learning of a force that was growing that would make all time and space irrelevant...and how he, himself, was preparing for the end...

letter after desperate letter filled my mailbox of Lovecraft's discoveries about the future of the world and the rise of the Great Old Ones, those beings from outer space that created life on earth...he warned me that he himself was planning his departure for planet x...

At first I laughed at the nature of these letters, but the intensity and the urgency of his pleas for me to come and visit him...to share in his discoveries... started to fester inside of me...

He sent me a train ticket to Arkham, Mass, where he lived...and insisted that I come visit him, that I would be the only one that would believe his late night discoveries...

 

So, I left Wisconsin...I boarded the train to Arkham, Mass...home of Lovecraft and the famed Miskatonic University...

I boarded the train to visit my idol... to meet the Great Old One, himself.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

SCENE 2 Meet Metronoma and Lovecraft

 

Lovecraft enters his study where he opens an old newspaper headline from 1931, a New York Times headline that reads: Planet X to be named Pluto.

 

He removes the drawing from the wall and pins the newspaper in its place.

 The Metronoma[4] device begins to click and Lovecraft responds by looking in its direction and thinking to himself as he hears the voice of the young Metronoma in his head:

 

Metronoma:  Howard…Howard…Howard…

 

Howard:  Boy. You’re a misbehaved little boy, Metronoma.

 

Metronoma: Howard…

 

Howard:  you’re here to keep the time Metronoma…That’s all. To keep the time. Little

     boy.

 

Metronoma: Howard Lovecraft…You’ve done well, Howard, your life on earth is almost

  over, just a few more things…you’re not still dressing up as Abduhl Alharzed

            are you???

 

Howard:  Speak when spoken to, Metronoma.  See, I’m not speaking because no one is speaking to me…no one speaks to me, Metronoma.

 

Metronoma:  the Necronomicon is alive and well; you wrote it when you were just six

years old, as Abduhl Alhrazed….the “Mad Arab.” Are you still “mad” Howard???

 

 

Howard: I’m not speaking because no one is speaking to me. No one speaks to me.

 

{Howard then begins to take out the letters to seal as Metronoma takes center stage}

 


 

Metronoma begins to come alive at stage center as her unclothed body takes projections of a ghostly forest.  She begins to speak to Lovecraft in a whisper:

 

making love to a book...

is that what you do Howard?

make love to a book...?

it's what I do to pass the days here on earth...

That butterfly feeling of the pages fluttering on my skin...

light whisps of air feather, touching the hairs on my body...

the spine thrusting in to me...

eeeew, Howard...

why don't you write a book about me, Howard?

it would be your gift to me...

Like the Necronomicon itself...I dream of making love to the Necronomicon, Howard, that evil book...I lust for it.

your words,  all of your handwritten words pressing against my breasts..

the cursive flow of pain that ignites my eyes as you enter me...

with your words...your misbehaved words

you write such naughty words, Howard...

my entrails spread over the ground, seeping into the earth...

through the pine needles, into the mud...

feeding your creatures...Howard...

feeding life into the "Old Ones"...cthulhu....

my wetness...my blood, my urine...all melting into the earth, and causing a forest of lust to grow...

a green meadow of thirst from the pleasures of my juices...

let the book rub against your body, Howard...

the bold face print of the pages smears into black pools of iron that blocks the passage of gold leafed edges cutting thin blood slits along my back...

humping me, the book...humping away at my body...not stopping...

Howard...your book is making love to me...

your handwritten, cursive words of fear are inside me now...

one, two, three...

your book is alive inside of me, I can feel it kicking, I can feel it throbbing inside of me, becoming flesh...the pages covered with a weblike membrane of juice and puss, the jacket of cock is ensconced with my organs...which empty out onto the forest floor...in your toes....in your eyes.

Have you seen me make love to a book?

I've seen you making love to a book, I've seen it when I sleep at night...

Do you see my innards, Howard, do you see my organs flushing their way out of my body all over the earth...do you see my green blood in your eyes Howard...

Do you make love to books...?

Howard?

 

Metronoma  rolls over and reveals herself caressing a large book.

 

Lovecraft is motionless, then he turns on the radio to his right that is located in the old phonograph recorder.

 

He turns on to the radio program W3XR, sits in his chair and begins to write and seal letters.

 

Scene 3 HOTEL ROOM 1

 

HOTEL ROOM lights fade up a little

Bloch on stage.  He turns on an old radio of his own and we hear that he is listening to the same program that Lovecraft was listening to.

 

Lovecraft sits in near darkness and during the next scene he starts to use an old Pineolator breathing device to clear out his nasal passages.

 

Bloch turns down the radio and goes into the bathroom.

 

We hear Bloch in voice over[5]:

 

that's me there...Robert Bloch...

 

friends call me Bobby...so...I guess you can call me Bobby, too.

 

I was seventeen...but as I said, who the hell remembers what they were like at seventeen...so I like to remember myself like this…

…before I got real fat...

I'd been holed up in this hotel here for days...not knowing when I would get the final go ahead to meet Lovecraft...at his home...

once I arrived in Arkham, I received a telegram at the station...directing me to this hotel...saying that Lovecraft had some new discoveries that may disprove his other findings, and he no longer needed my assistance...

so now I was waiting...waiting...thinking that this telegram was the first typed message that Lovecraft had ever sent me...

waiting...just waiting...

I don't know if you have ever been to downtown Arkham, Mass....alone...but if I can give you a word of advice...don't.

There's something about the deserted town alleys that tear the heart out of a man...something about the gray sunlight reflected from grimy roofs...something about the mournful rattle of distant trains going to Boston...something about the crumpled bits of soiled paper flopping listlessly along empty streets...the streets of Arkham...something about the closed shops with large paned windows of clothesless dolls and ...the locked doors....it gets to you...does things to your insides...you start wondering whether or not, in the midst of all this death and decay...you're really alive.

The prospect didn't please me at all, so I resolved to just wait for the word here in my hotel room.

Staring at walls that felt like they weren't there at all...

This is all I've been doing...walking in and out of the bathroom...just waiting to open the door again by my own hand...

Waiting for a reason to go over there and introduce myself to my friend...

Holed up and waiting....

 

Bloch begins to shave.  He lathers up his face with shaving cream from an old cup. He then takes out the razor, notices the removable blade and begins to take the blade out of the razor.  He goes to his nightstand and returns to the bathroom with a bottle of large white pills, a glass and a bottle of whiskey.

 

He removes one of the pills and begins to use the razorblade to sever the pill in half.  He puts the blade back into the razor, puts the other half of the pill in the bottle, takes out a glass, pours some booze into it and takes half of a pill with a true hard swallow.

 

At this Point METRONOMA enters the Hotel room.

 

She finishes dressing, putting on stockings, shoes, etc.

 

 

     Oh…yeah, there’s another thing…so sometimes in a hotel when you are waiting there is a knock on the door.  A knock that will linger in your mind for a long time…and sometimes the knock seems to come from some place else entirely…this knock led to…and this knock…well…I didn’t have the feeling that I should have told her that it was my first time…because it was, and I knew she could tell too…I did the right thing in playing all quiet and all…like this was a matter of course in my life…

Sometimes that’s just what you need when you are alone, thinking…waiting…I learned a lot about the quietness about being comfortable…sometimes it’s just what you need when you are alone…sometimes it’s just what you need when all you have to look back at was a pile of thumb-smudged letters…she was quiet too…she smiled a lot …not sure if you can trust someone with an unstoppable smile…but I did…I liked her, I liked her a lot…I wanted to see her again…so I gave her my radio.

 

 

 

 

During this voice over, Metronoma plays with Bloch’s Shaving cream on his face, she kisses him and then pulls slightly on the shower curtain, playfully, then places a bundle of letters on the night stand much like the ones that Lovecraft was sealing. She unplugs the radio and exits, leaving the hotel room.

 

 

Metronoma crosses stage left to behind Lovecraft’s study.  She puts on the Cuthulhu mask[6] and rises in the window during this scene, also building the sound up to a terrifying tension.

 

During this Bloch finally shaves, he is careful and the music is played on stage as we watch the men’s behaviors.

 

We see Lovecraft in his chair with Cthulhu in the window shadows behind him, lurking. 

 

Bloch, seemingly possessed by some sort of unworldly urge, removes the blade from his razor and cuts himself on the cheek.  Blood.

 

Lovecraft sits, politely, and removes a handkerchief and clears his nose.

 

Bloch cleans his face, puts on a bandage and goes to the bed to lie down.

 


SCENE 4 That night I had a dream

 

Bloch finds the letters on his night table and lies down in the bed and begins to read and then sleep.

 

Bloch begins to narrate in voice over during the video projected dream.  During this monologue we see Bloch, Metronoma and Lovecraft in the woods of a magical New England forest.  Bloch thinks of his loss of virginity and begins to dream about what it must have been like for Lovecraft to lose his virginity, as cloaked and described in the story, “The Tomb” (1925) which has passages interwoven in the voice over:

 

that night my eyes didn't close, but I had a dream...

I dreamed that I was indeed sleeping...

dreaming in Lovecraft's mind, hearing the world in his thoughts...

our thoughts merged together in some sort of dance-like chemistry..

 

I was well into the recovery of several terrible nightmares when my mind stumbled into the most beautiful shower of sunlight, and I remembered Metronoma.

 

there, as a child of ten, I wandered by myself, at last...

I dwelt apart from the visible world, as no human could...

 

 Close by my home there lies a singular wooded hollow, in whose twilight deeps I spent most of my time; reading, thinking, and dreaming. Down its moss-covered slopes my first steps of infancy were taken, and around its grotesquely gnarled trees my first fancies of boyhood were woven. Well did I come to know the presiding dryads of those trees, and often have I watched their wild dances in the struggling beams of a waning moon but of these things I must not now speak. I will tell only of the lone tomb in the darkest of the hillside thickets.

   

It all seemed so clear to him.

 

The vault to which I refer is of ancient granite, weathered and discolored by the mists and dampness of generations.

 

 Excavated back into the hillside, the structure is visible only at the entrance. The door, a ponderous and forbidding slab of stone, hangs upon rusted iron hinges, and is fastened ajar in a queerly sinister way by means of heavy iron chains and padlocks, according to a gruesome fashion of half a century ago.

 

 

I shall never forget the afternoon when first I stumbled upon the half-hidden house of death. It was in midsummer, when the alchemy of nature transmutes the sylvan landscape to one vivid and almost homogeneous mass of green; when the senses are well-nigh intoxicated with the surging seas of moist verdure and the subtly indefinable odors of the soil and the vegetation. In such surroundings the mind loses its perspective; time and space become trivial and unreal, and echoes of a forgotten prehistoric past beat insistently upon the enthralled consciousness.

 

All day I had been wandering through the mystic groves of the hollow; thinking thoughts I need not discuss, and conversing with things I need not name.

 

 In years a child of ten, I had seen and heard many wonders unknown to the throng; and was oddly aged in certain respects. When, upon forcing my way between two savage clumps of briars, I suddenly encountered the entrance of the vault, I had no knowledge of what I had discovered.

 

 But in that instant of curiosity was born the madly unreasoning desire which has brought me to this hell of confinement. Spurred on by a voice which must have come from the hideous soul of the forest, I resolved to enter the beckoning gloom in spite of the ponderous chains which barred my passage.

 

 

Henceforward I haunted the tomb each night; seeing, hearing, and doing things I must never recall.

 

 

 

 

SCENE 5 TEA PARTY

 

Bloch sits on the edge of the bed and is reading now from the stack of letters.  He begins to hear his own voice reading from the letters.  The letter is an imaginary letter from Sonia Green.[7]

 

Bloch and Lovecraft enter together to the space, walking in the same steps.  Lovecraft holds an old teaset and Bloch has a new radio that may have appeared in the dream from a drifting Metronoma that visited him in his sleep, lying in his bed.

Bloch and Lovecraft begin to converge as possession takes over the two of them, leaving Bloch on the floor and Lovecraft reverting to his childhood doppleganger, Abduhl Alhazred, who entertains his creations at a play pretend teaparty, his teaset vibrating with the pitch and yawl of Bloch’s radio.

 

Bloch collapses the bed in the hotel room and pulls out an old typewriter and begins to make some corned beef hash…he is also seen typing while sitting on the floor, drinking booze and taking pills, not cutting them in half.  Eventually he dresses and prepares to leave.

He looks in the bathroom mirror and removes his bandage.  There is no scar, it is gone.[8]

 

Metronoma begins to tell Lovecraft the story of the boy:

 

fear...fear is natural, Howard...fear is Human, but your kind of fear is not pleasant fear.

that is what you are going to have to leave behind, your fear.

there's no room  for it in the cannister, Howard...

have I told you the story of the Boy, howard?

you're the boy, and you are going to leave your home, your body...your life...but I want you to think with me about the story of the little boy, Howard.

He thought that he had fallen in love...

He moved to Brooklyn and found himself getting much fatter than he was before, loathing his own flesh in the mirror. Loathing everything, even the reason that took him to the city.

No luck with jobs, he loathed himself maybe even more than he loathed the neighbors on his hall in his little Red Hook apartment building...neighbors that he never met, but knew everything about them...at least he thought he knew everything...

But you didn't Howard, if you knew them, you wouldn't have thought so poorly about them, so scared of how they were different.

doesn't that scare you Howard?...the thought that someone is living right beside you, above you, they know all about you, where your correspondences are coming from, when you go down the hall to go to the bathroom...but you have never met that person...and they think that they know you?

you fear that person, yet you are that person Howard...you are a little boy

sifting through their mail to see what foreign places the stamps were from.

that scared little boy...he wasn't alone...at the center of it all like he was in his hometown, playing, all alone ...

you don't deserve to walk down the streets any more than any other person...

Howard..

if you're as interested in traveling to yuggoth, your ninth planet, as much as you've insisted, then you need to reconsider your youthful prejudices.

why do you make the beings who live all around you phantom enemies?  Contenders.  Impositions.  Restraining you.  Depriving you of your joyful days.  Was it their faulty, rapturous, insensitivity that was creating your hopeless depths?

your contempt is not qualified....Howard...and I am not going to do that for you.

You have to make that decision yourself. Your body has grown to full capacity, but your brain has not...there is something missing, this little boy is not a complete man...

and I can't show you the way to that Howard...just think about it a little bit more...

before we put your little brain in a metal canister, Howard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCENE 6 the meeting

 

Bloch is dressed now and Lovecraft has left to clean up for the meeting.

 

Bloch’s voice is heard in voice over:

 

Our voices became one, Lovecraft’s voice came from my body…

I’m not sure what I was thinking…I’ve kissed so many memories since that night that…I’m not sure where the first glimpses of decision were born…at his point …I remember two things…I never saw a dawn in Arkham, Mass, and it took me years to  close my eyes when I went to sleep after what happened that night…

I knew the time had come for me to go over to that hideous house of death…I knew that I was going to meet Lovecraft for the first time…

I was prepared to do what he told me to do, his orders on the page became clear to me…

And I was ready for the first and last encounter with my one idol…

So I left my hotel for good, and made my way through the quiet, peaceful streets of Arkham, Mass, but I wasn’t alone…the light footsteps of a young child seemed to follow me where ever I went…

 

 

Bloch is led by Metronoma through the woods to Lovecraft’s study where Lovecraft is now seated in the armchair and the black metal canister on the shel above him is pulsing brilliant colors. Lovecraft’s voice is heard as it seems he is speaking from a dead state.[9]


 

Lovecraft in voice over:

 

Welcome Bobby…so glad to finally make your acquaintance.  As you can see, everything is in order for my departure for the ninth planet. Please, have a seat… I trust your stay at the Arkham Hotel was satisfactory? And I hope you had a pleasant visit with Metronoma, he is a bright young lad.

 

You’ll have to excuse me for speaking to you this way, but for us to communicate you’ll need to speak with me through your thoughts.  Below the phonograph on the table you’ll find the Telepethink Headset, please…

 

 

Bloch Stands there looking at himself, his idol, all reality is lost. Bloch puts on the telepethink headset and their voices are heard conversing in their minds:

 

Yes, mummhumm, yes, I know, I’m leaving soon, yes, umhunhh…etc…

 

 

 

Eventually Bloch makes a recording with the phonograph on the table, he records the incantation of “Yog-SOTHOTH” and the record skips, repeating the chant…

 

 

The earth begins to rumble

 

 

Bloch exits and Lovecraft’s dead body lands on the teaset table in sacrifice position. We notice on his cheek a large scar, like the one that used to be covered by a bandage on Bloch’s cheek.

 

Bloch re enters as Cthulhu and in what seems like a ceremony he devours Lovecraft from the back of the neck.

 

The video screen rises into space as a large pod is shown at center stage.  This is a pod from another world, and Lovecraft’s face is stretched out on it, mouthing the words “Father.”[10]

 

Unearthly sounds; the pod is leaving for Planet X.

 

Lovecraft is now replaced with Bloch, and the lights go out.

 

We hear the voiceover:

 

Lights still out- must be five minutes now. Everything depends on lightning. Yaddith grant it will keep up!... Some influence seems beating through it... Rain and thunder and wind deafen... The thing is taking hold of my mind... Trouble with memory. I see things I never knew before. Other worlds and other galaxies... Dark... The lightning seems dark and the darkness seems light... What am I afraid of? The long, winging flight through the void... cannot cross the universe of light . . . My name is Bloch- Robert Harrison Bloch of 620 East Knapp Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin... I am on this planet... Azathoth have mercy!- the lightning no longer flashes- horrible- I can see everything with a monstrous sense that is not sight- light is dark and dark is light... Sense of distance gone -far is near and near is far. No light I am it and it is I - I want to get out... must get out and unify the forces... it knows where I am... I am Robert Bloch, I... ngai... ygg... I see it - coming here - hell-wind - Yog Sothoth save me – ?

We see Metronoma lying on the floor in Bloch’s hotel room.
She is reading from the small black book and we Metronoma’s voice:

What am I afraid of?

 

I can see it coming…My
name is Bloch- Robert Harrison Bloch of 620 East Knapp Street, Milwaukee,
Wisconsin... I am on this planet...

 

My name is Bloch- Robert Harrison Bloch of 620 East Knapp Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin... I am on this planet...

 

 

BlackOut
END

 



 

 

 

 



[1]  Arkham, Mass.  is a  fictional town created by Lovecraft that is home to the famous and also fictional Miskatonic University.  Arkham is based on the legacy of Salem, Mass.

 

[2]  Nicholi Roerich (1874—1947) was a philosopher and artist in the early part of the twentieth century.  Lovecraft mentions the appeal of Roerich’s paintings in his story “At The Mountains of Madness.” (1931)  In this story, the cyclopean images of Roerich’s visions were comparable only to the famed book ‘the Necronomicon’ written by Lovecraft’s childhood alter ego Abduhl Alharzed.

[3] Popular music. W3XR , Arkham, Mass. This is a radio station that plays popular music from the early twentieth century centered around the theme of the Middle Eastern influence on popular standards in American music.  Including versions of: ‘Dardanella,’ ‘Allah’s Holiday,’ ‘The Sheik of Araby,’ and ‘There’s Egypt in Your Eyes.’

[4] Metronoma is the product name for a tube transistor-based electric metronome made by Crystal Labs out of Connecticut.  The device has a blinking orange light that blinks in time with the metronome

[5] Some text extracted From Robert Bloch’s story, “The Dead Don’t Die” (1952)

[6] Cuthulhu is the creature that Lovecraft invented that has a head like a giant octopus with tentacles. He lives in the city of R’YLEH, in the South Pacific and was introduced in Lovecraft’s story, “Call Of Cthulhu” (1929)

[7] Sonia Green was Lovecraft’s wife for five years, and the two moved to Brooklyn.  Sonia made attempts at a hat business, but eventually left for a sanitarium in New Jersey before moving to Ohio, where she pleaded for Lovecraft to come.  Lovecraft eventually moved from Brooklyn to Providence, RI, where he lived with his two aunts, never officially divorcing, but, nonetheless, leaving Sonia Green for good.

[8] Reference to “The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward’ (1923) When a person is possessed by another person, their face begins to take on the characteristics of the possessor.

[9] Reference to the “Whisperer in the Darkness”(1935)

[10] Reference to “The Dunwich Horror” (1930) The large, jellyfish-like mass at the end of the story had a similar description, with one of the brother’s faces on it, stretched.