Mystery Of Oakbridge Circus


Podcast Episode 1: The Oddities 

Howling wind blows against quivering branches and gusts through crackling leaves. Wind, shaking branches and leaves quieten slowly as the sound of footsteps on grass fades into the background. 

A click of a button and the electronic humming of a recording camera fades in along with JACK’s voice. 

JACK: I want to tell you all a story. (a pause) Not a prepackaged tale with gritty grayscale videos, faint photographs, mottled with alleged first-hand witnesses. But today, I, Jack Lark, will share with you all something different from the rest. A genuine mystery, rich with history and tragedy. A story with an underbelly of secrets and buried truths. 

The footsteps grow louder, ambi sounds of wind and nature cease. JACK: This (pause) is the story of Oakbridge Circus. 

Opening theme music of “The Great Old Ones” by Oskar Schuster plays for a minute and a half. An eerie, off-key carnival-mystery theme. 

As the music fades out, ambi sounds of wind and nature are heard in the background while JACK’s voice fades into the foreground. 

JACK: Here I stand, on the ground of the once-town of Oakbridge. (the sound of footsteps on the sod is heard) It was established in 1812 and home to two hundred and eighty-three residents. In its early days, it served as a humble haven to farmers and blacksmiths alike. And soon, after a couple decades, flourished with countless people from all walks of life. But one group in particular, were the Oddities. 

An echo effect plays over the sentence “the Oddities”, with the background noise silenced. “Nocturnal Waltz” by Johannes Bornlöf begins to play softly as bed, while JACK’s voice fades back in. 

JACK: There were seven of them in total, all born with genetic mutations that resulted in them acquiring abilities far beyond human capabilities. Essentially, they were people with powers who stopped aging at twenty-one. 

(pause) From the information that we’d gathered we found out that three of them; Rose, Samara and Arlo had aquatic adaptations, growing gills and breathing underwater like a fish. 

Another two; Kieran and Lily had elasticity manipulation, stretching their bodies in any shape they desired. (pause) One had unknown abilities, so we couldn’t explore that further unfortunately. (inhales and exhales) The last, Dahlia, wielded and breathed fire. 

Except here in Oakbridge, humans didn’t like others that were unlike them (a pause) they loathed the Oddities. And so, humans manufactured a drug that allowed them to control their powers. (pause) The Oddities’ abilities were no longer their own. The residents of Oakbridge soon created a circus where they would put the Oddities on display—to be gawked at, to be laughed at and most especially, to be demeaned. 

The bed ceases, ominous music begins to play softly. 

(inhales and exhales) However one day humans went too far. 

A click of a button is heard, hissing static fades in. As it fades out, JACK’s voice begins. 

JACK (NARRATING): We’re listening to a clip of a news broadcast on the 14th of June, 1962. 

JACK’s voice fades out as BEATRICE’s voice fades in. 

A soundscape of various noises of destruction and violence is heard. There are sounds of explosions, screaming, rocks crumbling and the crackle of fire. The soundscape fades into the background as BEATRICE’s voice begins. 

BEATRICE: Beatrice Fannigan here with prime time reports for OB News! As you can see there’s billowing smoke coming out of a small wooden hut. (coughs) Everyone’s in a panic, the grounds of Oakbridge are in a state of mayhem. 

The sound of the zooming of a camera shutter is heard. 

BEATRICE: There seems to be a woman in the hut and a couple of others around her. (pause) There are only six that I can see…(gasps in shock) Oh my god. 

BEATRICE: They’re coming towards us. (shouts) We need to go now! 

Ambi noises of destruction, screaming and crackling fire amplify in the background. BEATRICE and the sound crew begin to run, the sound of BEATRICE’s heavy quickened breaths are heard along with her rapid footsteps. 

BEATRICE screams, and the sound of a thud is heard. The sound of the camera being violently shaken and hitting the ground is heard, the sounds from the clip now are muffled and static-like. 

BEATRICE (OFF-MIC): Ouch! (breathing intensifies) Leave me alone, monsters! Footsteps are heard growing louder. 

Ambi noises of destruction play faintly in the background. Ominous music begins as bed. 

Footsteps sound grow even louder. 

DAHLIA: (scoffs) We have always been your villains. (a pause) Your freaks. Even after one of you kills our own, we are still the monsters! Arlo was only twelve! (voice drops) Only twelve. 

BEATRICE: (sobbing) Mercy! Please. 

KIERAN: We shouldn’t have let them take us in the first place. All this nonsense about not harming humans, did they ever care once about us? They made a bloody drug to control our powers for God’s sake. 

And you know who paid for that? Arlo did. (footsteps grow louder, voice swells) And you, you were there, filming us, speaking about our lives as if you knew how we felt. As if you knew us. (spits) How dare you beg for mercy? 

BEATRICE’s heartbeat is heard picking up speed, the sounds of her whimpering is heard. 

KIERAN: I’ll kill you all. (choked up) I’ll wrap my hands around their fragile necks and take their lives the same way they did Arlo’s. She will be the first. 

BEATRICE begins to gasp for breath. 

LILY: Stop choking her! 

BEATRICE continues to gasp for breath. 

ROSE: Kieran stop this! 

SAMARA: Kieran! 

DAHLIA: You will stop at once. 

BEATRICE chokes and begins coughing, heaving in deep gasps of air. 

KIERAN: Having compassion was your greatest weakness Dahlia! (weeping) This isn’t fair. Not for us, not for Arlo. They blame you for a fire you didn’t start, killed Arlo, shot us up and you still care for them? 

DAHLIA: Quiet. (inhales and exhales) Listen here, Oakbridge residents. Let’s hope your somewhat damaged camera can still pick up sound and is broadcasting this live to you all. I have shown mercy to one of your own. 

In return, you will leave us be. We will scatter to the winds. Disperse, and sow our seeds into any land we deem ours. And you will do nothing to stop us. This is a warning

A reverb effect plays over the sentence “warning”, with the background noise silenced. Ominous music ceases. 

The sound of their footsteps grows softer. There is a loud crack and thud as the camera is thrown onto the floor, a click and static is heard, the clip stops rolling. 

JACK resumes his narration. 

JACK: The day of the fire, someone had initiated the Oddities escape. But by who? Who would release them? Today’s your lucky day folks, because we’ve found her. (pauses) We’ve found Ingrid Campbell. 

An echo effect plays over the words “Ingrid Campbell”, with the background noise silenced, transitions into “The Watchtower” by Sigimund. Music plays for ten seconds before fading into the background as bed. A click of a button and the electronic humming of a recording camera fades in along with JACK’s voice. 

JACK: Hello, Oakbridge viewers. The rules are as follows; for every five dollars donated, you get to send in a question. Got it? Great! Let’s begin. 

I have the warmest lady here with me today Miss Ingrid Campbell. At the age of sixteen she had begun working at Oakbridge Circus as a cleaner to earn money for her impoverished family. A brilliant young girl, you were Miss Campbell! 

INGRID: (chuckles) Not so young anymore dear, I’m eighty-five! But yes, I worked hard for my family. (pause) I’d do anything for my family as I’m sure many others would. 

JACK: By others you mean… 

INGRID: Dahlia, Kieran, Rose, Samara, Lily and Arlo, yes. 

JACK: I see, (laughs) quite a mouthful, would you be able to give us a little more insight on what your relationship was with them? 

INGRID: I’ll start from the beginning. 

Ambient sounds of nature and laughter are heard in the background for three seconds before fading out, and the bed continues. 

INGRID: I didn’t have many friends when I was younger and being the sole breadwinner there wasn’t much time to mingle either. My role in the circus was to sweep the floors, prepare the meals and lastly, monitor their behaviour after they were injected with the suppressant drug by another worker. 

And I know this may sound a little far-fetched and possibly mad because technically, I was just a mere worker you know (exhales) But Dahlia, Kieran, all of them, they (falters) treated me with so much understanding and kindness I didn’t deserve. They knew that I had no choice but to do so or my family would starve. They weren’t evil as the media portrayed them to be you know. 

JACK: That’s extremely heartfelt, thank you for sharing that Miss Campbell. 

PRODUCER (OFF-MIC): Question from Felicia. Why did they treat Miss Campbell with kindness if she was working for the people who imprisoned them? 

JACK: Now, Miss Campbell, do you have any idea why they would treat you with such warmth if you were working for the people who imprisoned them? If you don’t mind this question, do you think they had an ulterior motive for befriending you? Thank you, Felicia for the donation! 

INGRID: No mind at all. Well, Kieran told me I reminded them of Arlo. (chuckles) It was my radiant personality he said. Apparently my personality and outlook on life was a spitting image of Arlo’s. Maybe that’s why they were so warm around me? Our friendship didn’t feel like a sham either, it was honest and real. That I would know because there were some things we talked about, like our childhoods and about family that were just so raw and vulnerable. That (pause) isn’t something you can feign. 

(a hollow laugh) Deep down, I was grateful that I had some, (long pause) friends? I don’t know if they’d consider me one, but they always were friends to me. 

JACK: I see, thank you for the clarification. 

PRODUCER (OFF-MIC): Jack, question coming in from Timothy. What was Miss Campbell’s role in the Oddities’ escape? 

JACK: Ah yes, so if you don’t mind me asking Miss Campbell, what was your role in the Oddities’ escape? Thank you, Timothy, for the question and donation! 

INGRID: Firstly, I’d like to refrain from using “Oddities”. It’s extremely derogatory. They all have names and I’d like to address them as such. 

JACK: Of course, apologies. 

INGRID: Well, I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. In my measly free time, I’d read books on anything about medicine. Bit by bit I found myself drowning in it. When Dahlia wasn’t performing I’d come by her cell and read to her or vice versa. 

JACK: You spoke to Dahlia? 

INGRID: She was the closest thing to a mother figure I had. My mother had passed earlier on. Dahlia never showed any sort of hatred or disdain towards me, she was warm and welcoming and always offered to help with my studies. 

(empty laugh) She said when I was older she hoped I’d be able to save as many lives as I could. I could feel the truth in her words, she really meant it. (inhales and exhales) But it all changed when Arlo was killed. 

Bed ceases, ominous music begins as bed, the sounds of gurgling of water is heard faintly in the background for two seconds. 

INGRID: He was able to breathe underwater for three hours maximum, his gills would turn back to human flesh after the set time. But the circus master had high paying clients that day and forced him to stay underwater. 

(voice cracks) By the time they fished him out, he was pale and lifeless. I saw it all. (pauses) His family, they saw it all. After that day, they refused to speak to me. I lost all my friends and they lost their brother. 

(sniffles) So I devised a plan, I had been studying in depth the makeup of the drug and what could be used to nullify their effects. Eventually I realised, it was really just that simple. I needed a hypotonic solution to suppress the hypertonic solution’s abilities. So, on the 14th of June 1962, I switched out the original drug that was to be injected into them and replaced it with hypertonic saline-filled syringes. 

(inhales and exhales) I whispered to them all, to run. 

JACK: What did they say? 

INGRID: (choked up) They all gave me a sad smile. But Dahlia, she told me she’d always think of me as a friend. A part of their family. If she’s still out there and alive I’d tell her what I wasn’t able to say that day. 

JACK: Say it to the camera. 

The sound of the zooming of a camera shutter is heard. 

INGRID: You’ll always be my family Dahlia. All of you. 

JACK: I’m at the brink of tears. You really are a wonder Miss Campbell. 

PRODUCER (OFF-MIC): Jack, question coming in from D. What happened the day of the fire, where was Miss Campbell? 

JACK: So Miss Campbell, what happened the day of the fire, where were you in the midst of it? Thank you D, for the question and donation. 

INGRID: I had been helping the other workers escape the blaze. The peculiar thing was I saw someone else leave the tent with all the flames and it wasn’t Dahlia. It was a man. 

JACK: A man? Surely not. 

INGRID: Yes, a man. A couple hours before the fire started I had seen him earlier just loitering around the area, sitting at the benches just outside the circus. He was dressed rather shabbily, like his clothes were tattered and torn. He was weeping. Just crying Arlo’s name over and over. I thought he was a worker that was probably just as attached as me, but now I think he was more than that. JACK: More? 

INGRID: I think he was one of them. I can’t say for sure. 

There is a short pause before INGRID takes a deep breath. 

JACK: Are you alright Miss Campbell? 

INGRID: Have we met before? 

JACK: Not that I know of. 

INGRID: You just seem so familiar. I swear 

JACK: I doubt it, Miss Campbell. Shall we continue? 

INGRID takes a deep breath again. 

INGRID: I guess so. Well this man, it was way too foggy to make out any clear features. But he definitely had a vague scar on his temple. Just a broad line above his brow. That’s all 

A long pause, ambi noise ceases, INGRID gasps. 

INGRID: Your face. 

JACK: What do you mean? 

INGRID: Your temple. 

JACK: I fell in the shower, just a scratch. 

INGRID: No, it’s in the exact same place. 

JACK: People can get injured in the same areas. 

PRODUCER (OFF-MIC): (whispers) Jack! We’re still live, stop the squabbling! INGRID huffs loudly. 

INGRID: I remember what I saw. (sound of her voice amplifies) 

JACK: Sorry Miss Campbell. That was fifty-nine years ago you might’ve remembered it wrongly. 

INGRID: No, no I remember your face! I don’t know how you stayed this young, but it was you. 

JACK: I have no idea what you’re saying. I do not appreciate accusations on my show. 

PRODUCER (OFF-MIC): (muttered) Jack! We need to cut the feed. INGRID: (shouts) You’re their family too aren’t you? Why do you keep lying? 

JACK: Miss Campbell, please don’t throw around accusations like that. INGRID begins hyperventilating and sobbing. 

JACK: Miss Campbell, please calm down. I think you might be a little overwhelmed with the questions, that you’re remembering things wrong. 

INGRID: (weeping) No, no! I remember it right! You’re one of them, there’s no other explana 

JACK: No, Miss Campbell, I don’t think so. I think it’s a good time to end here. Thank you everyone for joining us, have a pleasant evening! 

A click of a button and the electronic humming of a recording camera fades out. INGRID: (sniffles) I know what I saw. 

JACK: I’m not arguing with a mad old woman. 

INGRID: I’m not crazy! 

JACK: I think it’s best you leave Miss Campbell, please bring Miss Campbell back home. 

INGRID: You’re a liar! 

JACK: Thank you for your time Miss Campbell. 

PRODUCER: Of course. Paul, bring her back. 

INGRID’s wails are heard in the background and slowly grows softer. JACK: What an absolute shitshow. Damn it. 

The sound of hard footsteps on sod is heard along with ambient noises of nature for five seconds. 

Suddenly, a jarring phone ringing is heard, ambi noise ceases. 

JACK: Hello? 

DAHLIA: Did you like my question? 

JACK: You were D? Should’ve known. 

DAHLIA: Why are you back? Why look for us now after hiding as a coward for so long? 

JACK: Can we talk? Please. 

DAHLIA: Our ties burned along with everything else that year. Leave us be. JACK: Just give me a chance, let me speak to you all. 

DAHLIA: What’s there to talk about? 

JACK: About our family. 

DAHLIA: You are not our family. 

JACK: Dahlia, just one talk. 

There is a long pause, and DAHLIA lets out an irritated sigh before responding. DAHLIA: I’ll ask. I’m not promising anything. 

The phone call ends, static beeping noises are heard for four seconds before fading out into “Controvento, senz’olio” by Fabrizio Paterlini which plays for ten seconds before fading into a voicemail recording. 

AUTOMATED VOICE: At the tone, please record your message! There is a shrill beeping noise. 

DAHLIA (VOICEMAIL RECORDING): Jack, it’s Dahlia. You’re lucky for Rose and Samara. (pause) They want the family whole again. One talk. (inhale and exhale) Don’t throw this away Jack. 117 Cherryhill Lane. I’ll see you there. 

An echo effect plays over the sentence “I’ll see you there”, with the background noise silenced. A click of a button and static humming is heard.