SBR 1.20: Door

Hello, faithful listeners! I’ve been looking forward to speaking to you all week. Not very much has happened since we last spoke. Things have been fine. I’ve been kind of out of it, to be honest with you, which is why you haven’t seen me so much on the forums this past week! I’ve been spending a lot of time just hanging out with Revel, Cosmo and Eggroll. They follow me around the house, whatever I’m doing. It’s quite charming, really. Though I keep seeing more of their friends outside, I can’t realistically take in any more of them.

But, enough about me and my furry pals! I have an augury forecast for you this week! It’s been a while since I’ve found one. I looked everywhere I could think that Salim or whoever else has been leaving them might put them, but this one was stuffed into a tiny plastic bag with one of those press-closed seals at the top, and it came tumbling out of my box of cat food, like those gifts you used to get in boxes of cereal!

It was very exciting. The paper is old, yellowed, and worn as though creased and uncreased many times. It was folded into an inch by inch square that didn’t quite lie flat. On the top, in tiny, delicate calligraphy, it said ‘Augury Forecast for the coming week’ and someone had written in today’s date in blue biro underneath. How serendipitous! I’ll share it with you now.

Today is the day you are currently experiencing. Tomorrow will be today, tomorrow. Tomorrow, today will be yesterday. So it goes.

The cadence of the dawn chorus in Yorkshire suggests that a storm is coming.

If your name begins with S, now is a bad time to lose sight of that which you hold most important. Look within yourself; the answers you seek have been with you all along.

If you were born on a Tuesday, try looking down the back of the couch.

Bird seen flying overhead in Windermere suggest that now is a good time to learn to sew.

If you live in the shadow of a nearby hill, consider what you stand to gain from losing things that are weighing you down.

So concludes the augury forecast.

This week on the forums, there has been much continued discussion about the man in the flat cap and shell suit, with several people coming forward with possible sightings. However, as many of these occurred in Brixton in the 1970s, I think we can write them off as coincidences. A few of them, however, do seem to have a ring of truth to them.

Jimmy from Townsend sent a message about an experience he had in the 1990s, when he was dating a man named Ben.

Jimmy says that Ben was really great, possibly the best guy Jimmy ever dated. He was really smart, worked in a bookshop and dreamed of being a writer. He always carried this notebook with him, with a bright red cloth cover. The pages were rammed with scraps and polaroids, and Ben’s tiny, cramped handwriting went in all directions across the smooth, cream pages. Jimmy couldn’t read it; it was almost like a secret code.

It was Ben that introduced Jimmy to Arcanism. His house was full of herbs and spell books, and Jimmy found the mindfulness that comes along with thinking about yourself as fundamentally connected to everything else in the universe by arcane energies an extremely calming and cathartic thought. But, Ben always had this thing about roses.

In Jimmy’s mind, roses were romantic. They were the symbol of love, of valentines, of affection, but when Jimmy bought a bouquet of them for Ben on their first Valentines together, the colour drained out of Ben’s face at once. Jimmy had never seen him look so stricken. He took the bouquet and threw it in the bin. Jimmy didn’t know what to do; he just stood there, staring at him. Ben said nothing. Eventually, Ben took out a cigarette. They smoked together in silence. Finally, after a house had passed, and Ben’s shoulders had relaxed a little, Jimmy took Ben’s hand. Ben took a deep shuddering breath, and whispered.

‘You’ve seen the mark on my stomach?’

Jimmy had seen it. A thin scar, perfectly straight but ragged at one end. He’d brushed his fingers over it and Ben had shivered. Jimmy asked where it was from but Ben didn’t answer, so he didn’t push it.

‘I was stabbed,’ said Ben.

Jimmy was horrified, but Ben shook his head.

‘I was going to die. I was bleeding out. I didn’t have the energy to cry for help. I was just whispering to myself, over and over, that I’d do anything to live. Anything at all. And then. A man came. A man with a flat cap and shell suit. And he made me an offer. And I accepted, on the grounds I’d get to live. And then, he reached inside of me, I cannot describe the pain, it was worse than the stabbing itself. He withdrew his hand, coated up to the elbow in my blood. The pain was gone in an instant. The man unfurled his hand, and there, in his palm, was a red rose.

‘‘I’ll give this back to you,’ the man promised me. ‘when the time comes.’ and then he got up, and walked away, saying to himself ‘tick tock, tick tock.’’

Ben wouldn’t go into further detail about what had happened to him. Jimmy and Ben stayed together for eleven years, until, one day, Jimmy got in from work to find Ben sprawled on the floor in the living room. His eyes were open, staring, unseeing, at the ceiling. A line of blood split from the corner of his mouth and pooled on the floor. It was clear he’d been gone for some time, but Jimmy tried everything he could to revive him, called an ambulance, but Ben was gone. The conclusion drawn by the doctors was that he’d had a massive aneurysm that nobody had even known about, but they were confused because it was so incredibly rare to have them in your abdomen.

When Jimmy returned to his now empty home that night, on the windowsill, in an empty jar cleaned out and ready to be dropped into the recycling, there was a red rose. As soon as Jimmy saw it, though, the edges of it trembled, and then, as though pulled up by invisible threads, each petal lifted away, turning on a non existent breeze, and then into nothing, and before Jimmy could even blink, the whole thing was gone.

This one certainly sounds legitimate to me, for a few reasons, not least because of the mentions of a rose. I mean. My rose crumbled ash for a bit that one time. Sure it reconstructed itself when I wasn’t looking but it did disappear into nothing. And when Oliver the Florist touched it, I. Well. I’m not sure what happened to him but it certainly wasn’t very pleasant. Anyway, I’m so sorry about Ben, Jimmy, and if there is anything I, or your fellow faithful listeners can—

[DOOR SLAMS OPEN]

SAM: Ahh!

[FOOTSTEPS HURRIEDLY ON STAIRS]

[CLATTER]

ANNA: Sam, what on earth are you doing?

SAM: Uh, it’s time for the Advice and Community Segment.

ANNA: No. It’s three o’clock in the morning and I had to drive you to the hospital this afternoon because you were completely unresponsive for three hours.

SAM: Well, I’m fine now. I’ve had a nap.

ANNA: You don’t need a nap! You need to get out of here. Come on. We’ll have a cup of tea in the kitchen.

SAM: I don’t want a cup of tea. I’m in the middle of hosting the Advice and Community Segment.

ANNA: To be honest with you Sam, I couldn’t care less what you want. What you need is to get some decent sleep. You look exhausted.

SAM: I’m not. I’m fine. I need to do this.

ANNA: Why?

SAM: I’m sorry?

ANNA: Why do you need to do this? Who’s forcing you?

SAM: Nobody, but—

ANNA: If nobody is forcing you, Sam, you don’t have to do it. You only want to do it. There are only two things in life that are non-negotiable and inevitable, and that’s taxes and death. Not hosting a radio show for some weirdos in the middle of the night.

SAM: No. You don’t understand.

ANNA: So explain it to me! [PAUSE WHERE SAM DOES NOT, IN FACT, DO THIS] You can’t, can you? Because you don’t know. Is it Madame Marie? Are you worried about letting her down? News flash, Sam. She doesn’t care about you in the way that you think. She left you. She’s a terrible mother.

SAM: You take that back.

ANNA: No. I won’t.

SAM: I’m fine, Anna.

ANNA: You’re lying! I know you are lying.

SAM: Look. No, I’m not fine. I’m stressed. I’m confused. I keep having to realise again and again that I have no idea why I am the way I am and that nothing in my life makes any sense. That is not easy. But it’s not because of the show. The show is good. The show makes me feel… I don’t know. I feel like it’s what I’m meant to be doing Anna.

Was that a lie?

ANNA: No. It wasn’t a lie. But it doesn’t make it the truth, either.

SAM: You know it’s not about intent. It’s about actual falsehoods.

ANNA: What is?

SAM: You. Your… thing that you do.

ANNA: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

SAM: Well, I don’t need any funny mojo to know that was a lie.

ANNA: I’ve just got good instincts. That’s why I’m a good lawyer.

SAM: Come off it. You instincts are terrible. That’s why you’re dating… that guy.

ANNA: His name is Guy!

SAM: Guy? Really?

ANNA: Yes, really! And say what you like about him, he never lies to me.

SAM: I doubt he’s got the capacity.

ANNA: [POSH RAGE] I beg your pardon!?

SAM: I didn’t— oh, never mind.

ANNA: No, I think we need to revisit that last point.

SAM: Oh, for heaven’s sake, Anna. Can you just give it a rest? Go back to bed and we can talk in the morning. I am busy.

ANNA: Don’t tell me you’re still airing?!

SAM: It’s time.

ANNA: Sam! I cannot believe this! You have gone too far with this nonsense and I won’t stand for it any longer. I have been looking into it and I’m pretty sure at this point it’s perfectly reasonable to declare you a danger to yourself. I can’t stay here and watch you 24/7 to make sure you’re not doing anything stupid, so you’ll have to go somewhere where there are professionals.

SAM: Anna. What the hell are you saying?

ANNA: I am saying you are unstable and you need help.

SAM: I may not be the most robust person in the world but I swear to you I am fine.

ANNA: Do you here yourself? You’re living in a basement!

KITTY: [SLEEPILY] Why are we yelling?

ANNA: Don’t you get involved. You’re no help.

SAM: She wants me committed for the crime of hosting a radio show.

KITTY: Oh for god’s— Anna, we talked about this.

SAM: What?

KITTY: We both know there was a reason Madame Marie didn’t want him on the recording equipment and neither of us know why that is, but he’s fine, look at him.

SAM: You see?

ANNA: The best I can say is that he isn’t dead.

SAM: Hey!

KITTY: Anna, would you calm down? Please? I think we need to operate on the assumption that Madame Marie was wrong on this one.

ANNA: But. She wasn’t lying when she said it was a bad thing for him to be involved in broadcasting.

SAM: What?

KITTY: I know. But we don’t know what that means. Want me to make a few stabs in the dark and see if we land on the right one?

ANNA: It doesn’t work like that.

SAM: So you admit it exists!

KITTY: Don’t push her, Sam. Listen to me, Anna. Whatever is going on it’s clearly not apocalyptic or anything. He’s just hosting a show. What’s the worst that could happen?

[KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK]

ANNA: Another noise complaint. For heaven’s sake. What are people going to think?

KITTY: No. Anna. That didn’t come from upstairs.

[KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK]

SAM: She’s right.

[KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK]

SAM: It’s here.

[KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK]

SAM: It’s right here.

[KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK]

KITTY: Sam, get out of the way.

SAM: Okay.

ANNA: What are you doing?

SAM: Bringing the microphone with me.

ANNA: Fine. Whatever.

[KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK]

[KITTY SLIDES THE CHAIR TO THE SIDE]

SAM: Kitty!

KITTY: What?

ANNA: Be careful.

ANNA: Kitty, the desk–

KITTY: On it!

(wooden legs screech, KITTY makes a sound of effort as she lifts the desk, the desk thuds down)

ANNA: I never understood how you’re so strong.

KITTY: (scoffs) you wouldn’t, would you?

ANNA: And what is what supposed to mean?

KITTY: You’re so far up—

SAM: Under the rug.

ANNA: Is that…?

KITTY: It’s a pentagram.

SAM: Madame Marie carved this.

KITTY: how do you know that?

ANNA: He’s right.

[KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK]

KITTY: It’s a seam, in the floorboards. Hang on. [stretching] There, a latch.

[THUD. KITTY COUGHS IN A CLOUD OF DUST]

KITTY: Ugh, that smell.

ANNA: Musty, damp.

SAM: Like a room that has sat unopened for some time.

KITTY: There are stairs.

ANNA: To where?

SAM: I— I know this place.

ANNA: Sam, why are you taking the microphone, where do you think you’re — (MAGIC HUM) ow! How did you — you zapped me!

(stairs creak)

(flies buzzing)

SAM: Faithful listeners. It’s a whole other room, it’s. An office. Madame Marie’s office. I’ve been here, I know this room, I’ve been here before.

ANNA: ugh, disgusting, all these flies.

KITTY: It’s from the old house.

ANNA: It looks just like mum’s old study, from the house we lived in before we moved here.

KITTY: No. Anna. It is that study.

ANNA: But that’s impossible. Why is it here? Why is it… why is it underground?

SAM: All of these books.

ANNA: I think they’re journals.

KITTY: Madame Marie’s?

SAM: Some of them, yes. But others. No.

KITTY: Do you smell that, it’s like—

ANNA: Like an unused room.

KITTY: No, under that, it’s something else, I can’t put my finger on it.

(flies buzz more distinctly)

SAM: Death.

ANNA: Oh my god! Is that— it’s insides, oh my god, what is that, is it some kind of, ugh, I’m going to be sick.

SAM: it’s not an animal.

KITTY: [STERN, WITH DREAD] It’s her, isn’t it?

SAM: Yes. It’s Madame Marie.

ANNA: Oh my god, we have to call the police, we have to. We have to.

KITTY: Anna, we can’t.

ANNA: Are you INSANE, there is a DEAD WOMAN, OUR MOTHER, we have to CALL—

KITTY: Anna, look at him.

(MAGIC HUMMING SWELLS, FLIES PITCH UP, AND STOP ABRUPTLY)

SAM: She’s written something. Scratched it into the floor with her fingernails. It says ‘Heir Apparent’.

KITTY: Her hand, Sam. Move her hand.

SAM: Oh.

KITTY: It says ‘Samael heir apparent’

ANNA: We can’t call the police. Sam, Sam what have you done? How could you do this? How?

SAM: [QUICKLY, DISTRAUGHT] I didn’t, I can’t! I wouldn’t! How could you say that, why would you say that?

ANNA: [FEARFUL] Who knows what you’re capable of?

SAM: (quietly) Samael.

KITTY: I don’t think it was him. Do you really think he could do this?

ANNA: I mean, I don’t. I hope. No. He didn’t do it. He’s not lying.

KITTY: See?

SAM: (quietly) heir apparent (ringing in the air, almost like tinnitus, but lower. It’s rising)

ANNA: Wishful thinking, Kitty.

KITTY: (frustrated sound)

ANNA: But then who? Why?

SAM: Samael Enfield (THE RINGING RISES WITH A SOUND LIKE BUCKLING SNOW) heir apparent…

KITTY: She had no shortage of enemies, did she?

ANNA: You’re right, I–

SAM: (full volume) Samael Apollo Enfield [A SOUND LIKE SHATTERING ICE SHEETS FALLING FROM A GREAT HEIGHT]

ANNA: What are you doing!?

KITTY: Sam, no!

SAM: I am Samael Apollo Enfield, Heir Apparent to the Blood Rose Crown. I speak and will be heard. (clattering)

SAM: (dazed) What am I saying, faithful listeners? I think it’s… time for… bed.