SBR 1.29: Over and Over

The early bird may catch the worm, but the early worm ends up as breakfast. Punctuality is a social construct, not a virtue. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.

[INTRO MUSIC]

Hello, Faithful Listeners! Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio. There’s a lot for me to get through this week, so let’s just dive right into it, shall we?

Early in the week, I posted a message on the forums with a picture of a note I found. I think it’s Madame Marie’s? But… I’m not sure. Her handwriting seems off, somehow. It’s recognisable in some places, almost, but in others it’s so frenzied I can barely read let alone make out if it’s definitely her hand writing.

I found it in the last box of her things I have to sort through before I’m finally finished combing through everything she left here in the studio. I’ve been putting this one off because it was full of a lot of Kitty and Anna’s school things, you know, report cards and the like. I’d been hoping to wait to do it until they were here but. It could be a long time before that happens. I found a photo of Anna in the newspaper from when she got her A-Levels results. She got four As, I didn’t know that. Someone has highlighted the part where Anna got an A in maths, which is funny because I also found a letter in the box which is from Anna’s old headmaster, from the looks of it, saying that the reason she wasn’t allowed to do the Maths A-Level was because she’d only got a C at GCSE and he was worried she wasn’t going to be able to keep up with the coursework, but her letter to him convinced him otherwise. And she got an A in the end! So good for her. I guess

I also found a couple of letters home about Kitty. One time apparently she fashioned a piece of Design Technology equipment into what the teacher has deemed a ‘stabbing implement’. The teacher says that whilst Kitty hadn’t threatened to harm anyone her classmates were rather alarmed. She also got suspended once for dying her eyebrow! Isn’t that funny?

There was a small exercise book in the box, too. It had ‘S Enfield’ in the beginning of it, so, I think it must belong to me. It looks like loads of exercises teaching me how to write and spell, but, I don’t know. A lot of it is really spell focused. Some of it is even in Latin. I don’t know. It just seems odd.

[SIGH]

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked!!

For those of you who haven’t seen my post in the forums, I’ll describe Madame Marie’s note to you. The top right corner of the note is torn, and there is a section of the first word missing. The last letter is all that’s left of that word, and it’s M. After that it says ‘mentions of the One Who Walks Here and There’, and then lists page 312, page 404, and page 666. All of these are pages that are missing from my copy of the Little Book of Big Magic, funnily enough. Someone’s added the page numbers together, and they make 1382. There’s an arrow pointing off this which says ‘year of first known T.A.T’. If I recall rightly, and there’s no guarantee I do, Oliver said the strange tarot deck I found under the studio floorboards is called the True Arcanist Tarot. T.A.T.

There’s an arrow pointing off the same number which leads to a scribbled message with I think says ‘he can’t just be a witch it makes no sense’, but I’m not entirely sure. It’s partially obscured by a hastily scribbled in Algiz. The whole page is covered with them. Some of them are barely connecting, others are heavily drawn, like they’ve been traced and traced again. I wonder if she was trying to protect this paper from something? I don’t know.

The T.A.T. has a little arrow which leads to ‘Major Arcana’, which has been hastily circled. This has a bunch of arrows coming off it; the thickest leads up to the most heavily gone-on over section of the paper, which simply reads ‘how do you seek without searching?’. This has been circled too. Under Major Arcana is the note ‘plus five metal plate cards, blank’.

A couple of you on the forums pointed out the similarities between that and the strange tarot deck I found here in the studio some time ago, though to my recollection there were only four metal cards in there when I found it.

Hang on, I’ll just—

[REACHING, CARD SOUNDS, SHUFFLING]

Okay, here’s some of the witch cards, and wind cards, and uh, all of the instruments, and spirits, and here’s the Major Arcana… wait. Hang on. That letter Madame Marie wrote to her grandma, the one I found in her drawers a few weeks ago. Yeah.

[DRAWER OPENS AND CLOSES]

The lists of Major Arcana matches the ones in this deck; Mouth, Indifference, Unrelenting…

Wait, no, I’m getting distracted.

Here, metal cards. Dead cow or deer one, melty rotten hand one, bloody sword, horrible grinning face and— oh. It’s. Blank. There’s a fifth one and it’s blank, but I.

Huh.

Oh, goodness, my nose– my nose is bleeding. Oof. Excuse me faithful listeners whilst I…

[THUD]

[TREMBLING SOUNDS RISE]

[CAT PURRING]

[SAM GROANS]

[CAT MEWS]

SAM: Cosmo. Eggroll, ew, no that’s my blood, don’t lick it. Ugh.

[CHAIR CREAKS]

[SAM SLUMPS INTO THE CHAIR]

SAM: Ugh. I, uh. Sorry. What was I… what was I doing?

Oh yeah. I was looking at the metal cards in this deck. So yeah. Dead cow or deer. Grinning face, swords, and rotten hand. Yeah, so there’s only four? So maybe it’s not this deck? Or maybe there’s a card missing. I don’t know.

Huh.

Well I’m not going to write off the possibility.

Anyway, there’s another arrow off the ‘Major Arcana’ which leads us to ‘Some sightings: the gardener?’. Another says ‘Human flaws personified? Wholly arcane or corrupted by Arcane Power’, which is tacked onto ‘Made by him’, which is written in quotation marks and underlined. That one loops up to the ‘How do you seek without searching note’ again, and then, all the way back up to the top of the page, where it connects to ‘The One Who Walks Here and There’.

On the back of the page, in large letters it says ‘Who is the one who walks here and there?’. Under that, in much scratchier writing, it says ‘wrong question’. Then, in even bigger letters, written over again and again, it says ‘what is the one who walks here and there’. Under this, in cramped little scrawl, it says ‘better’.

This side of the page doesn’t have any Algiz on it, unlike the other, which, as I say, was packed with them.

A couple of users, including Karl, reminded me about the letter Madame Marie received from her friend Nagisa evaluating some kind of strange Algiz formation. The Algiz on the note aren’t arranged like they were in the diagram attached there, but I did notice something else when I pulled the letter out of my new filing cabinet. Nagisa says in that letter that there are ‘there are rumours of a witch who walks here and there, who can be sought only by relinquishing your agency in that search and giving in to desire alone. They say he wears a flat cap and shell suit.’

Obviously, the main thing we know about this guy is that you can’t find him if you’re actively looking for him and. I… oh.

Oh.

How do you seek without searching?

It’s… it’s like the opposite of what Arcanism teaches you. Magic is about intent. Finding this guy, it’s a sort of surrender. You have to let it go. Feel the desire to find him without any intent to follow through on it. You just have to… let it happen.

But. How can you know you want something without having any intent to follow through on that want? Sure wanting in itself is kind of intention, right? Desire is sort of necessarily full of intent. Or– Or maybe not? I don’t know. I don’t know. Like when you see those little pods full of laundry detergent, you want to eat them but you don’t? Except I don’t understand how that would track here, I…

Hang on, right, okay, so looking at what everyone’s said about the Man in the Flat Cap on the thread in the forums, it’s just. Nobody ever really says anything about meeting him. Amzzzie747, she maybe saw him in a hospital room. Jimmy from Townsend’s partner saw him, but he didn’t see him himself. Just the rose. And the letter from Mr Prakash is the only one that says anything about actually making these deals with this guy and from what I can tell it’s just about feeling a sense of sort of vague desperation, almost giving up on ever finding this guy, and then, suddenly. There he is. And, well, the other thing that makes Mr Prakash’s letter different from letters from other people is that… he’s dead.

One story isn’t enough to prove anything, to say anything properly about it, really. I wish Kitty were here. She’d know what to do. She’s good at this, taking tiny pieces of information and putting them together like that.

Kitty, I wish you would just–

[PHONE RINGS]

SAM: No. No, I.

[PHONE CONTINUES TO RING]

SAM: [SHAKILY] Hello?

KITTY: Sam? Is that you? It’s all crackly. Speak up.

SAM: KITTY. YES. I AM HERE. Can you hear me?

KITTY: I’m in the house, something is wrong, someone is in here with me.

SAM: What do you mean?

KITTY: Shh!

INDI: [DISTANT] Here, Kitty, Kitty. Come out, come out wherever you are.

SAM: Who is that?

KITTY: Be quiet.

INDI: We just want to talk to you, Kitty. We just want to know how you got into the house. [FOOTSTEPS, STONES CRUMBLING] Not that it matters, Kitty. You can stay as long as you like, we just what to know why you came here.

BLISS: [DISTANT] You don’t know what this house does, Kitty. Nobody knows.

[FOOTSTEPS APPROACH]

INGRA: You know, you’re very rude. Not once have you thanked us for our hospitality.

SAM: Kitty—

KITTY: Shh!

INGRA: What’s the matter, Kitty?

[DOOR SLAMS OPEN]

INGRA: Cat got your tongue?

[KITTY STRUGGLES]

BLISS: Ingra?

INGRA: I’ve got her.

BLISS: Hiding in a wardrobe! How pedestrain.

INGRA: Enough. Where’s Indi?

BLISS: I… thought she was with you?

INGRA: No. You got ntohgin to say for yourself, Kitty the Investigator.

KITTY: You want me to beg or something? Sorry to disappoint, it’s not really my style.

BLISS: So full of spirit! Indi will like that.

[FIZZING STATIC]

INDI: What is it I’ll like?

INGRA: She’s a feisty one.

INDI: Ah. Spirited is she? We’ll cure her of that in no time.

KITTY: Let me go!

INGRA: [LAUGHS] How sweet.

SAM: KITTY!

INGRA: You think we’re the ones trapping you here? You’ve got a big surprise coming.

SAM: LEAVE HER ALONE!

[BOOM, CRACKLING, FIZZING, and then SILENCE]

KITTY: How… how did you do that?

SAM: Do what?

[DISCONNECTION TONE]

SAM: Kitty? Kitty, come back! What do you mean, what did I do?

What did I do?

Recording Machine?

RECORDING MACHINE: Oh, now you want me to pay attention?

SAM: How many voices were there, besides Kitty?

RECORDING MACHINE: Three, I think.

SAM: ‘We’.

RECORDING MACHINE: But none of them were the voice from those answerphone messages.

SAM: No. They weren’t.

I– oh I feel stupid. But. Ehem. Ominous phone voice person? Guy who scared off Rhytidia Delphus? Hello? Yeah, you. Call me.

[BEAT OF SILENCE]

[SAM SIGHS]

Worth a shot. That was stupid wasn’t it. Of course they weren’t going to–

[PHONE RINGS]

No. No way.

SAM: H– hello?

[STATIC]

Hello? Are you there?

[STATIC]

Ominous phone guy?

[STATIC]

The Man in the Flat Cap, do you know him? Hello?

[STATIC]

Who has my sister?

[STATIC]

Hello?

[DISCONNECTION TONE]

Gods. Okay. Right. Okay. They know I’m here. They know I.

It’s fine. It’s all fine, right? Yes. It’s going to be fine. Okay.

Okay, ,oh oh.

My nose.

My nose is bleeding again.

Ugh. Oh.

Excuse me faithful Listeners.

Gah. I’m sorry. Ugh.

[DEEP BREATH]

Okay. What do I know?

There’s something in the Impossible House with Kitty. Kitty said the Impossible House is the house we grew up in but I can’t remember. Anna. Ugh. Anna is… I don’t know. Anna. She’s Anna. It doesn’t matter. Um, um, uh. What else? What else do I know? Uh…

Oh, the book! The little book of Big Magic, pages are missing, right? Like. Like it’s deliberate. And the copy I have, it’s the one Madame Marie’s grandmother passed down to her when she died. A-and when she died, Madame Marie inherited a shop, which she left, which… which. I don’t know. But she left the shop. A-a-and some time after that she’s. She’s. Useless and then she’s powerful. And she. Makes a deal, maybe. Right? Or. She’s trying to make a deal. She’s looking for him, right?

And then she has the three of us, and we move here, and at some point I was. And now I’m. Now I can’t remember anything from before four years ago, not really, except in snatches, and the harder I think about it, the more I try to remember the more I… forget…

Wait.

Wait.

‘How do you seek without searching?’

The more I try, the less I can remember. But when I least expect it, it comes back. Like the opposite of what happens with Arcanism and intent and magic and—

But it makes no sense, none of this makes any sense.

Ugh, none of it helps Kitty! I need to find a way to help Kitty because she’s trapped there.

I’ll go to the house, I’ll go there and I’ll—

But.

But I don’t know where the house is.

And even if I did I’m useless.

There’s something in there with her and I can’t help.

I–

I can’t help.

I can’t help you, I can’t help Kitty. Gods. I can’t even help myself.

REVEL: Mrrow?

SAM: Hello, darling Revel. Can I help you, at least?

REVEL: [PURRING]

SAM: There you go, sweet boy. I love you. I do, I do. I love you.

REVEL: Meow!

[SLAM]

SAM: No, stop! The Arcanist Tarot! It’s all over the floor I.

Hang on.

They’re all face down apart from three cards. Indifference. Ingratitude. And Ignorance.

It’s something to do with Kitty.

I don’t know how I know that. How do I know that?

Ignorance, Ingratitude, Indifference… flaws. Madame Marie’s note. ‘Human flaws personified.’

Major Arcana.

And the last page of the Little Book of Big Magic before the pages have been taken out…

‘Ghosts are a common type of lesser arcana, and can be—’ and then it cuts off. Lesser arcana. Like. These things. Major Arcana. Nobody else has a copy of this book, not a single person on the forums, not after asking on air, not after so many of you have reached out into your communities. Not one other person has a copy of this book.

I think whoever did this to the book, they didn’t want me to know Major Arcana exist. And Madame Marie hid this tarot deck under a floorboard in a room I was expressly forbidden from entering. It was her, wasn’t it? She took the pages out of the book. She didn’t want me to know. She kept me away from all of this because she didn’t want me to know.

She did this. She made me useless. She. She did this to me. I am this way because of her, I… it was deliberate.

My whole life has been a lie.

I can’t remember most of it anyway.

Oh, what’s this? There’s something sticking out from under the box of broken hand-mirrors, I… a blood soaked note.

I remember this. It was in the PO Box not long after Madame Marie disappeared.

‘It drips and it creaks, the thing in the night. It’s coming. It has been coming for weeks, it may have been coming all of our lives, but now, more than ever, we can taste it on the wind. We were woken by a strange buzzing sound, like many wasps trapped in countless jars. The door to Marie’s office was sealed shut and the handle was coated in a sticky, viscous fluid, almost like honey, except that it was blood red and smelled of a bedroom which had sat unused for some time. The door remained shut and Marie’s office inaccessible between the hours of three and four in the morning, at which point the buzzing abruptly stopped and all traces of the viscous fluid disappeared. When we reached Madame Marie she was unresponsive and is being treated at a local hospital. We hope her recovery will be swift despite the thick red crust which sealed her eyes and ears, despite the thing that drips and creaks, that is coming in like the wind, like the tide on the shore. It is coming for us now. It is coming.’

Oh, at the time all I could think of was how there were no local hospitals. And I thought maybe Astrid or Janet or Salim had written it, but. One of M’s jokes. Her games she liked to play. Where she’d tell me she was going for a day or two and lock me in the house, and she’d always leave these little notes, a trail to follow around, to keep me busy, or…

Ah, Faithful Listeners I’m a fool. I’m such a fool. I.

I know this handwriting.

It’s not Astrid’s or Janet’s or Salim’s.

It belongs to Madame Marie.

[ALMOST LAUGHING]

She– she knew they were coming for her. She knew they were going to kill her, didn’t she. She wrote this so I—

So I would look. So I would search. So I would try to find out what had happened. For so many years she insisted so adamantly that I wasn’t allowed anywhere near the studio but she let me sort the post, she let me get so tantalisingly close because–

[HE LAUGHS]

Because she knew this was going to happen. She didn’t just know she was going to die, did she? She was the greatest Arcanist in the Northern Hemisphere. The Illustrious Madame Marie, renowned psychic and fortune teller. She knew what was going to happen exactly. So she labelled everything in here so I would know how it all worked. She left me these pieces for me to find so that I would always be searching, always be looking for the answers, even as I tried to hold the pieces of her radio show together. I was looking. We have all been looking for the Man in the Shell Suit and Flat Cap, the One Who Walks Here and There.

[HE LAUGHS AGAIN]

But in a way, I suppose I was right.

It was just a game. She always did like her little jokes and stupid games.

I’m just a pawn in this, I suppose. I’ve only ever been a pawn. It makes sense, I guess. One last hurrah, a big screw you to the Man in the Flat Cap. ‘You’ll never find your son because he’s always going to be looking for you, because I have designed it to be so’.

[HE LAUGHS AGAIN]

Well you know what, M? Screw you too. Because I’m not going to be looking for him anymore.

Let me just, uh… the thread on the forums. Um, let’s see. Do, do, doooo, there.

Delete.

It’s gone. No more looking. No more searching. I am not playing anymore.

[WIND HOWLS]

[WINDOWS RATTLE]

[PAPER SHUFFLE]

Oh, no, not again.

[PAPER SHUFFLING GETS LOUDER]

Notes are forcing their way through the floorboards.

Beware the Heir Apparent.

Beware the Heir Apparent.

TO WHAT.

[PAPER STOPS SHUFFLING]

No, no. Wait, I. That’s wrong question, isn’t it?

[WIND RAGES]

[SAM CRIES OUT]

[SAM CHOKES, SPLUTTERS]

[SOMETHING CLATTERS BRIGHTLY AGAINST WOOD]

[A DOG BARKS FAINTLY IN THE DISTANCE]

[SAM GASPS, COUGHING]

Faithful listeners, it…

[COUGHING]

It’s a chess piece. I.

[STRUGGLING TO CATCH HIS BREATH]

It’s the king.

I… oh. I don’t feel. I feel…

| Content Warnings |

– Background music of varying volumes

– Distorted vocals

– Implications of child-neglect

– Brief sounds of physical discomfort

– Brief instance of yelling

– Implied of threats of violence, possibly lethal, towards a secondary character from a non-main character

– Deep, bassy sound effects for a significant portion (towards the end of the episode)

– Sounds of emotional distress (shaky voices)

– Hacking cough/choking sounds (in the last minute of the episode) (character is not being choked, they are coughing)

– Cry of pain

– Gasping, panic breaths

– Implied unconsciousness/fainting

– Implications of murder or wrongful death

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