SBR 1.26 Enigma

No bird has ever worried about whether their voice is good enough. Sing loud and for yourself and you will always sound beautiful. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.

[INTRO MUSIC]

Hello, Faithful Listeners. Welcome back to the Enlightenment Segment.

Before anything else I must give my sincerest apologies for my behaviour at the end of last week’s episode. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me. You don’t need to deal with my problems, Faithful Listeners.

The harder I try to think, the more I try to work it out, the more slippery the thoughts become, and if I spend too long wondering about the broken cups and blown lights, the more I feel like… like… like it never happened at all.

I don’t know what to do, Faithful Listeners. Who do I turn to? Where do I go? I don’t know anyone. It’s always just been M, Anna, Kitty, and me, and the Loyal Assistants. And now M is gone. The Loyal Assistants, gods know where they went after whatever happened to Madame Marie. Anna won’t speak to me. Still. Kitty is… I don’t even know anymore. And I’m scared she’s in danger but I don’t know how to help. I wouldn’t be able to even if I did know but I.

And without M. Without Anna. Without Kitty. What does that leave me with?

The Bog Witch Rhytidia Delphus?

And you, of course, Faithful Listeners. I don’t know what I’d do without you.

You’ve all been absolute darlings on the forums. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Understandably some of you are concerned and I just want to reassure you that, as always, despite everything, I’m perfectly fine, Faithful Listeners. I’m working on it. The nosebleeds are a stress thing, I think. I don’t know. I’m sorry you had to hear me get into that state. I’m alright, though, faithful listeners, I promise you that.

Or, well, I promise that I will be just fine in time. I just need a bit of… space.

I’ve not heard from Holly since last week, nor Emily. I haven’t heard from Kitty either. I’m scared for her. I– I don’t know what to do. I feel like Anna would know. But she’s not here and as I say, I can’t get a hold of her. I just. If you’re listening, Anna, though gods know why you would be, please, try to get hold of Kitty. Make sure she’s okay. And, I don’t know. Whatever it is you can do, your thing where you always seem to know who is lying and who is telling the truth. Please. Kitty is safe, right? That’s the truth, isn’t it? Tell me.

[DEEP BREATH]

Sorry, sorry. You don’t need that, Faithful Listeners. I need to keep my family drama off the radio show. I’m sorry.

Anyway, there have been some fantastic things on the forums this week that I thought it was worth bringing to your attention. Most of it is really positive but I would like to remind the user with the alias covenbabe666 that the purpose of the Forums is not to organise group seances. However much you continue to suggest otherwise, this is absolutely not the purpose of Spirit Box Radio and I will ban you from the forums if you continue to press this issue, just as soon as I figure out how to ban people.

Moving on, then.

A few more people have posted in the thread regarding the Man in the Flat Cap. Jeremy in Spain says he met a man in the 80s who went by the name of Donny Pitt, who clued him into the same method for finding the Man in the Flat Cap as mentioned by Mr Prakash from Mumbai, and in several other corroborating stories. ‘If you seek him, but do not search, then you’ll find him’. A couple of people then got into discussion with Jeremy about the various ways in which this might be interpreted. The most notable response is from Karl, who pointed out that this seems to be a case of surrendering agency.

This rang a bell for me and several other people, because there is this implication, of course, with arcane energy, that the way that its channeled is through intent. So, if your intent is simply desire with the complete surrender of any momentum, then you might become like a sort of arcane beacon, calling out to powerful Arcanists, which could be how the Man in the Flat Cap finds his… victims? Customers?

Thanks for your combined efforts, Karl and Jeremy, and everyone else in that particular thread! It was really useful.

Now, Faithful Listeners, I have some exiting news to share with you! Though first I do have to deal with a little bit more unpleasantness. Or, well. Not unpleasantness exactly. Not straightforwardly.

I was sitting in the studio and I heard this sound, almost like running water. I got up and went to check the tap in the bathroom but it was working fine and none of the pipes had burst or any thing. What with all the electrical problems I’ve been having in the house, I wondered if maybe whatever is going on has spread to the pipes, but…

Anyway. I came back into the main studio and that’s when I spotted it.

A sliver of white between the floorboards.

It pushed up, like a plant growing in time lapse, and unfurled. A letter. I stepped forward to pick it up but in the corner of my vision there was another, and another. Every where I turned, they forced through the gaps in the floorboards, out from behind the shelves, from under the books and boxes and the big studio desk.

I tried to run for the stairs but they were coming too quick and fast, like a papery current, and I slipped and fell, and whacked my chin on the bottom step. As I fell I screamed for them to stop and they…

Did.

It went silent.

The letters worming their way from the walls dropped immediately to the ground without so much as another twitch.

I lay on the floor for a moment. It was quite disturbing, as you can probably imagine, and I’m slightly embarrassed to admit it took me a while to calm down enough to get up and do anything.

I wondered at first if I should touch the letters at all, then I realised I was lying on them so if touching them was a bad thing I had pretty much screwed it already, so I thought I’d best at least find out if there was anything on any of them that might explain what was happening.

So I grabbed one.

It was a piece of lined paper, the kind from a reporters notebook with a ring-binding at the top, torn raggedly with no regard for the perforations under the holes punched for the binding to spiral through.

It had been folded over once, and in a messy, spidery scrawl I didn’t recognise I saw whoever it was had written ‘To The Illustrious Madame Marie’.

I scrunched up that first letter and threw it before I even unfolded it. I couldn’t bear to see what it said.

I grabbed another. It was the same as the first. Exactly the same, torn the same way, the same tendril of torn paper, the same disregard for tidiness, the same spidery rendering of M’s full title on the page, staring up at me.

I grabbed another letter and another and another and they were all the same.

Not just repetitions but the same piece of paper hundreds, thousands of times. Everywhere. Dozens and dozens thick on the ground.

Well, I, I didn’t know what to do, Faithful Listeners, so I just sat there and I held onto a few of them and I closed my eyes and plead with whatever higher powers might’ve been listening that it would all just disappear and the studio would be neat and tidy again as I’d just that evening finished sorting through Madame Marie’s drawers…

But when I opened my eyes it was all still there. Thousands and thousands of exact copies of this scrawled note to M that I wanted nothing less than to read but the longer I sat there the more it seemed clear that if I didn’t read it they wouldn’t go away.

So I took a deep breath and I opened one.

This is what it said.

///

Not that it matters, Marie, but we’ve found you. It’s only a matter of time. Are you running from him or for us?

Not for nothing, Marie, but I would like to go on living.

Not for nothing, Marie, but I like the way things are.

I don’t know you. I wouldn’t claim to know you. But I know what you are.

You’ve been chosen, haven’t you? We all know it, now. It’s too late to deny it, Marie. It’s far too late for that.

He’ll sweep in like a whisper in the dark, and then what?

Is it jewels you were promised? A shining crown? What words did he whisper in your ear to make you come around to him?

You’re not one of us, we’d have felt that. He’s not claimed you for his own. Not yet. But we’ve seen you blossoming, Marie. We’ve seen it. Mould between tiles.

So what did you trade him for this power? What precious thing did you give up in exchange for striding into ‘next-in-line’?

You’re marked, Marie, and we’ve found you now. We are Hunting. We will not stop. The wards you have risen around yourself cannot hold forever. You are only human, little witch, you are just a human out of her depth. We will not stop until we have you, and we will have you.

You know of us, Marie. You’ve met us. You hold the Old Tarock. You know what we are. You’ve learned us, surely. His Major Arcana; Pride, Envy, The Mouth, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, Greed, The Creeper, the Unrelenting, Indifference, Ingratitude, Ignorance. You’ve said our names and titles under your breath like a prayer, like countless arcanists before you. Names to be feared. Names to make children go to bed on time, to make adults quiver in in dark alley ways.

One by one your defences will crumble. They always do.

We’ve found you and we’ll have you, Marie.

Every last bit of you.

///

‘We’ll have you.’

Every time I read that part I feel sick.

We’ll have you. Have.

I can’t remember what she–

I don’t remember what had happened to her when we found her in the office but I think it was violent. And if. If who ever wrote this letter was the one who did it. I.

I don’t know, Faithful Listeners.

I– I don’t get angry very often. I don’t like how it makes me feel. But I am angry. I can’t do anything, I know I can’t, but that just makes it worse.

I’m so angry.

[DEEP BREATH]

There is a list in this letter. I know tarock is another word for tarot, essentially, from what I can gather, and whoever wrote this, that list of things they call ‘His Major Arcana’, it lines up with with the weird Major Arcana in Madame Marie’s deck. I have no idea who ‘he’ is though. Unless. I don’t know. But there’s nothing here to tie the letter to the Man in the Flat Cap at all, no mention of roses, though they do discuss blossoming. No mention of an Heir Apparent, but they do mention ‘striding into next-in-line’ which feels like it might be the same but whoever wrote this note is saying that it was Madame Marie’s intention to be the next in line, maybe to be the Heir Apparent, whatever that means. Heir Apparent to what, exactly? And to who?

And Jinghua. Whatever happened to her, she survived it, but she says ‘Beware the Heir Apparent’. Except Madame Marie is dead. She’s been dead for months. I cannot reach her. And she didn’t write her own name and Heir Apparent on the ground. She wrote mine.

But none of this talks about me. And I am useless.

I… something is happening to me, Faithful Listeners.

I can’t deny it any longer.

Every time I wake up, I find myself surrounded by more and more drawings of the white door. My wrists ache from making them as I sleep, the side of my hand turned silver from rubbing against the page.

I tried hiding the pencils, but I just woke up on the floor with a horrific jolt of pain and there I was, trying to scratch the door into the floorboards of the studio with my fingernails. [AWKWARD LAUGH] I’ve had to bandage three of them up, they were so worn and cracked from the effort.

At first when I took over Spirit Box Radio things were better. I felt… I don’t know. I felt present in a way I had never felt before. I felt alive. I felt like I had a purpose. Sam Enfield, temporary host!

But since whatever happened in the basement almost all of that feeling is gone.

It’s not you, Faithful Listeners. I spend the whole week waiting, desperate to talk to you again, scrolling through the forums, talking to you when I can, and learning so much. But. Deep inside me is this awful heaviness. Or. Emptiness. Like a void that is somehow made of lead.

And these things keep happening.

Cups smash. Lights blow. Revel, Cosmo, Eggroll and their friends can hardly get an hour’s peace with all the shattering glass and crockery. It’s like something is exploding out of me, and I have no idea how to control it or what to do. But.

Even if Madame Marie was wrong about me being completely spiritually challenged, I’m still useless. Worse than useless. I’m a danger to others and I don’t understand why or how these things are happening but they just do. There’s just so much I don’t understand. And whatever happened last week with Emily, I…

Oh. M.

What did you get yourself into?

What bargain did you make?

Was it with him? The man in the flat cap?

If it was, why is this person listing off the names of Major Arcana that I’ve ever only seen in a single deck of tarot cards?

And who is we.

If you’re thinking of starting off on that, Recording Machine, just don’t. It’s not the ‘Royal We’. This is from more than one person.

I…

I don’t know anymore. I never did know, because you never taught me. What else were you hiding that’s going to come cascading out of the walls without warning?

What is it going to do to me?

Oh, how myopic of me. It’s probably got nothing to do with me at all. I’m just the one who is here. The only one left. The one who took over the radio show. Which you explicitly wanted me to stay away from even though it’s incredible, and Anna and Kitty both say I always loved radio’s when I was a kid, so why??

Was it pure vindictiveness, I…?

No. No that’s wrong and cruel of me to think. But. How can I not, M? How can I not think that? Why else would you keep me away from this? Ban me from leaving the house except to retrieve things from the P.O. Box, forbid me from entering the studio under any circumstances?

I have so many questions and you’re too busy being dead to answer any of them. I have tried every way to commune with spirits that I know and it’s like… it’s like talking to a black hole. It’s not just silence, it’s worse than silence, it saps sound from places where it used to be and leaves me wrung and are trembling for hours. What did I do that was so bad you won’t talk to me?

Do you hear me? M? ANSWER ME.

[TREMBLING]

[DEEP BREATH]

[TREMBLING FADES OFF]

Sorry, I—

I got a bit carried away, I’m sorry.

Anyway. Now I’ve… filled you in with that, I …

It’s time for the first bit of exciting, good news I’ve been able to bring to you in ages! The catastrophe with the letters actually made me realise that maybe I’ve been spending too much time here with just the cats. It wasn’t so bad before and I know that M said I should avoid going out when I can but. Well. Emergencies and all that. Who cares, anyway. So I thought, well, maybe I should go to the Hatfield Karpos to ask Oliver about the rose.

Silly me of course I hadn’t thought about the fact it was about six when I left the house and it was going on eight by the time I got all the way over there. The lights were on in the shop but the sign on the door was flipped around to say it was closed. I stood there a little while wondering what to do and I was about to turn around and walk right back home, and maybe stop at the coop on the way back for some nice bread for breakfast, and some new treats for Revel, Cosmo and Eggroll as I’d completely run out, when Oliver stood up from behind the counter.

As per usual he looked absolutely wonderful, smudge of dirt on his cheek and a pair of sheers in his hand. He spotted me through the window and met my gaze and he smiled and I felt it all the way down to my toes.

He came to the door and offered me some tea, which smelled of lavender and made me feel kind of fluffy inside, like I was full of clouds, and we talked for a bit about the flowers he’d been arranging – for a wedding, apparently. He had to get back to it as they were due in the morning. And he’s very busy this week. But, faithful listeners. He has invited me back to the shop next week and he’s going to explain a little bit more about the kinds of flowers he keeps in the backroom of his shop, to you Faithful Listeners! And he’s invited me to host the show from there!

I’m just, I’m so excited, faithful listeners! If any of you have any particular questions for Oliver the Florist, let me know on the forums and I’ll be sure to pass them on. Anyway, that’s something to look forward to for next week! For now, though, thank you for tuning in to the Spirit Box Radio Enlightenment Segment. I’ve been your host, Sam Enfield, and I bid you a restful slumber. Goodnight!

| Content Warnings |

– Background music of varying volumes

– Distorted sound effects

– Static sound effects

– Minor emotional distress

– A main character dealing with the on-going process of grief

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