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Audio Play / Secret Rooms

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Secret Rooms is an audio drama created by Alex Shaw and is the second story in the New Century series.

America has survived a war of independence, a civil war and a plague that has transformed its people into feral predators. Now humanity needs to pull together or face extinction.

Sharp-eyed doctor James Penrose and foul-mouthed boxer Abigail Grey are new recruits to the Cartographer Scouts, agents of the reunified US government. They set off across West Virginia, a dangerous wilderness now home to the savage victims of the Wendigo outbreak.

Fortunately for James and Abigail their accompanying Captain is none other than sharpshooting legend Annie Oakley. What they find on their journey, however, is like nothing this world has seen before.

The late 19th century alternate America laid down in The Cartographer’s Handbook is explored up close and personal, through the eyes of these new heroes.


Secret Rooms provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parent: Mary Sampson mentions that her husband used to beat their children, continuing the cycle of violence he experienced at the hands of his own father.
  • Agent Scully: James is quick to latch onto mundane explanations for the increasingly strange phenomena he and Abigail witness and refuses to believe in supernatural occurrences unless he can observe them in a controlled environment.
  • Alternate Universe: Professor Krieger delivers a lecture to James and Abigail about his theory of alternate universes and the ability to travel to them. This is later revealed to be more than a theory, when Krieger and Greta escape from Briar Hill through a portal to an alternate universe.
  • Anachronism Stew: A strange case with Malloy, who tells the group about sightings of The Mothman and The Flatwoods Monster (The Green Monster), with the problem steming from the fact that the story is set in the 1880s while the first sightings of either cryptid did not occur until the mid-20th century. This may be a subtle way, combined with his speech about legendary creatures "waking up", that there is more to Malloy than meets the eye.
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  • The Anti-Nihilist: Lucy is this, believing that if, ultimately, nothing we do matters, it in turn means everything we do matters.
  • Bar Brawl: One occurs in New Athens' saloon between Abigail, James and Annie and three of the townsfolk.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Abigail briefly considers using her pistol to kill herself instead of being infected by the Wendigo. Luckily, The Cavalry arrives before she makes her decision.
  • Brick Joke: After listening to Krieger's lecture about alternate universes, Abigail asks him what cyclopian means. Later, after their debriefing, Annie questions how to spell it.
  • The Cavalry: Right when things look their bleakest for James and Abigail, Annie returns with soldiers from Elkview and dispatches the Wendigo.
  • The Chain of Harm: Mary Sampson explains that her husband's father use to abuse him as a child, which led to her husband to abuse his own children. She cites this as the reason why she doesn't trust a former slave not to abuse a position of power.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Carl is a minor character met early on in the story who ends up saving James and Abigail's lives at the end.
  • Classified Information: The fact that Director Arlington is a former slave.
  • Child by Rape: Mary Sampson mother was a slave who was taken advantage of by Mary's slave owner father.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Lucy is revealed to have this with an older boy from her hometown.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: Lucy made one to a boy from her hometown.
  • Closed Circle: Abigail and James end up trapped in Briar Hill, with night falling and Wendigo closing in as Annie takes their only remaining horse to get reinforcements.
  • Conscription:
    • Abigail's father Hector was conscripted into the Confederate Army during the Civil War, though he admits he would have fought for them under his own volition.
    • Lucy explains that the boy she loved from her hometown was conscripted to fight the Wendigo.
  • Contrived Coincidence: On their way back from New Athens, James, Abigail and Annie just happen to find a hidden mansion where the people ultimately responsible for the Wendigo outbreak are living.
  • Crowd Panic: James and his parents run into a crowd refugees fleeing the east coast of the United States while trying to return to London. Things take a turn for the worse when one of the refugees turns into a Wendigo, leading to a panic that separates James from his parents, and to him almost being trampled to death.
  • Deathof A Child:
    • Lucy ends up turning into a Wendigo after running away from Weirwood, forcing Katherine to put her down when she returns.
    • It's mentioned that a number of children die during the Battle of Weirwood.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Buck, the mayor of New Athens, is revealed to harbor many of the loathsome prejudices that were common among white men back in that time period.
  • Domestic Abuse: Mary Sampson's husband used to beat her and their children.
  • Dumb Blonde: Subverted with Lucy Weatherfield, who is shown to be good at math.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: In addition to being precieved by Abigail, who can see dead people, Charolette's voice is picked up by the voxtube recording.
  • False Reassurance: During his Secret Test, Abigail, James and Lucy ask Dr. Potts what he has poured them to drink. He tells them it's Smilax regelii. Which is one of the main ingredients in sarsaparilla.
  • Famous Ancestor: Averted with Dr. Potts. Despite their similar background, occupation and name, he is not related to the infamous John Pott, but this has not stopped people from asking.
  • Famous, Famous, Fictional: Malloy tells the group about three cryptids in the area. Two of them (The Mothman and the Green Monster) are based off real life cryptids, while the third one (the white tiger), is Foreshadowing to Tiger's Eye.
  • First Kiss: James has his with Lucy.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Malloy mentions a white tiger being spotted in the area, serving as foreshadowing the next story in the series, Tiger's Eye.
    • At Briar Hill, the characters encounter fruits and flowers they've never seen before. It's later implied they were taken from another world.
  • Ghost Town: When the people of New Athens arrived in Clearwater, they found no evidence of the former inhabitants.
  • Ghostly Chill: The prescence of Charolette's ghost is accompanied by a sharp drop in temperature.
  • Ghostly Glide: Charlotte moves around like this, when she doesn't just suddenly appear before the characters.
  • Groin Attack: Abigail's father tells her that she should hit Tommy Sweeney in his baggage if he propositions her again.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Lucy is blonde and is shown to be optimistic, sweet, friendly and encouraging.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: The sheriff of New Athens, Mary Sampson, is derogatorally refered to as an "uppity mulatto" by the mayor.
  • Handicapped Badass: Preston Beauregard lost a leg and a few fingers in the Civil War, and clearly suffers from PTSD but during the Battle of Weirwood, he manages to kill three of the raiders, including their leader, in close quarters combat.
  • Handshake Refusal: Vincent Penrose makes a point of not shaking hands with people as a way of showcasing his believed superiority.
  • Headbutt of Love: Krieger and Greta share one after reading The Cartographer's Handbook.
  • Heroic Bystander: The Scot who saves James from being trampled by a panicked crowd.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Abigail attempts to lock James in Charolette's room while she distracts the Wendigo invaiding Briar Hill, but he refuses to go along with it.
  • History Repeats: Twice in the story we see the people of the same small West Virginian town have a meeting to discuss whether or not to abandon the town due to a looming threat. The first time, the people of Clearwater are discussing the threat of the Wendigo. The second time, the people of New Athens are discussing the coming of the RSA.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: One of the things mistakenly blamed for the Wendigo plague.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Abigail's mother Pearl used to be a prostitute before marrying her husband.
  • House Fire: During the climax, the Wendigo accidentally set fire to Briar Hill, burning the building down and taking most of Krieger's journals with it.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: True to her real life counterpart, Annie is able to shoot a playing card thrown into the air 300 yards away from her.
  • Innocent Bigot: Abigail wishes she could say Doris Cooper was this as a child and grew out of it, but she can't.
  • Ironic Echo: James' father Vincent tells him that he would only shake hands with someone he considers an equal. It gets echoed with a new meaning later when James agrees with Katherine's proposal to come live with her, and shakes her hand to seal the deal.
  • Language Barrier:
    • James and Abigail run into this when they try to read Professor Krieger's journals, which are written entirely in German.
    • While Abigail is the only one who can hear Charolette, she still has trouble communicating with the ghost, as Charolette only speaks German.
  • Last Stand: After the Battle of Weirwood, Preston Beauregard's body is found proped against a cherry tree, surrounded by the bodies of the raiders he killed, including their leader.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Abigail comments that one of the other Clearwater girls is good at telling stories that mix dramatic characters, historical events and creatures drawn from folklore and mythology, a good summation of what The New Century Multiverse stories themselves are about.
  • Lockdown: After the children of Clearwater arrive, Weirwood Manor is put mostly on this to protect from infection, though some adults are allowed to come and go.
  • Love Hurts: James and Abigail help Lucy escape Weirwood so she could be with the boy she loved from her hometown, despite the fact they are both in love with her. This directly leads to Lucy's death, leaving them both distraught.
  • Love Dodecahedron: James is attracted to both Abigail and Lucy, who in turn are attracted to him while also being attracted to one another. Then it's revieled that Lucy is also in love with a young man who she made a Childhood Marriage Promise with before he was conscripted to fight the Wendigo.
  • The Man They Couldn't Hang: Nathan, a former slave who works for Katherine Holloway, has rope burns around his neck.
  • Meaningful Name: It's offhandedly mentioned that the inhabitants of New Athens immigrated there from Georgia, meaning the town is likely named after the city of Athens, Georgia.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • James does this to Annie's horse after it is mauled by Wendigo.
    • Krieger believe he was doing this to Charolette when he overdosed her and sealed her in her room.
  • The Mothman: On their journey to Clearwater, the group encounters an old man named Malloy, who claims to have encountered one of these.
  • No Mouth: Abigail's father is described as having his mouth obscured by his mustache.
  • Mushroom Samba: James believes that all the weird things he and Abigail are witnessing at Briar Hill is due to the strange fruit they ate.
  • Nobody Here but Us Birds: One of the raider scouts signals the others with a remarkable immatation of a fox's yip.
  • Offing the Offspring: Tommy Sweeney's father was forced to kill him after he turned into a Wendigo.
  • Old, Dark House: Briar Hill, the mysterious house that Abigail, James and Annie take shelter in on their way back from New Athens.
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: On their way to Clearwater, the group encounters an old man named Malloy, who tells them about real life cryptids like The Mothman and The Flatwoods Monster.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Nathan had a son who died at a young age.
  • Photographic Memory: James has this, allowing him to, among other things, memorize the entire Cartographer's Handbook in half an hour.
  • Please Select New City Name: Upon arriving in Clearwater, the group discovers that it has been renamed New Athens by its new inhabitants.
  • The Pollyanna: Despite all the problems in the world, Lucy remains optimistic and encourages others to do the same.
  • Polyamory: Abigail and James discover evidence that hints at Charolette not having been Greta's sister, but another woman in a relationship with both Greta and Professor Krieger.
  • Posthumous Character: By the time the story starts, Lucy has been dead for almost a decade.
  • The Reveal: The Wendigo plague was caused by Charolette accidentally opening portals to other worlds around the globe.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Because of his Hyper-Awareness, Frank believes James could be this if he were properly trained.
  • Scrapbook Story: The story is told through a collection of journal entries and voxtube recordings.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When Wendigo descend on Briar Hill, Krieger and Greta elect to simply open a portal to another dimension and leave, abandoning James and Abigail.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: What Charolette's ultimate fate appears to have been, as Abigail and James find her desicated corpse in a hidden room in Briar Hill.
  • Secret Test: After being questioned if he is related to a famous poisoner, Dr. Potts pours an unknown liquid for Abigail, James and Lucy to drink. It turns out to be one of the ingredients for sarsaparilla.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Katherine's husband Preston was this after he returned from the Civil War.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Annie does this to the front gate of Briar Hill, simply because it would take her too long to unlock it.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Abigail believes that Annie is being naive in offering a helping hand to a pair of bandits like Virgil and Carl, thinking its going to get her killed one day.
  • The Social Darwinist: James' father, Vincent, had a very low view of the poor and believed he was better than most other men.
  • Stepford Smiler: Abigail initially believed that Lucy is this, but eventually concludes she's actually The Pollyanna.
  • The Straight and Arrow Path: During the Battle of Weirwood, the defenders open up with two vollies of arrows, as the silent weapons would better catch the raiders off guard.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The story switches between Frank, Annie, James and Abigail's perspectives.
  • Think of the Children!: One of the women in the Clearwater town meeting says this twice.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: After returning home from the war, it's mentioned Katherine's huasband Preston would occassionally stare out the window at nothing in particular.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Abigail almost gets both her and James killed when she kicks in the door to Krieger's hidden room, alerting the prowling Wendigo to their precense. It's enough to make her think about her impulsive actions throughout the story.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: On their way to Elkview from Weirwood, Annie, Frank, Abigail and James come across a wagon left in the middle of the road. Annie and Frank quickly deduce it is a trap, but elect to spring it anyway after forming a plan and spotting the bandits waiting in ambush.
  • Unfinished Business: Interestingly, despite having been murdered and had her body left unburied, Charolette appears most interested in passing on the power of the orb.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Abigail's father tells her that if Tommy Sweeney propositions her again, she should kick him in his "baggage."
  • Way Past the Expiration Date: Abigail is excited to find some jam left undistrubed in an abandoned house in Elkview. Sadly, the jam has long since expired, becoming nothing more than crystalized sugar mush.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: James is shocked to find out that Wendigo can breed and form social groups, showing that they are not entirely the verminous monsters he was led to believe they were.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Multiple episodes come from enteries in James and Abigail's journals from their early days at Weirwood.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: After years of wondering and worrying, once Abigail makes it make to Clearwater, she finds that it has been resettled with no clues as to what became of the original residents, including her parents.