The truth is out there. The lies are in here. Ambiguity is in the doorway. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.
Hello, Faithful Listeners.
I think we need to talk about some things. I don’t know how many of you are out there, listening. I don’t know all of your names. Perhaps I am the voice in the background of your life, the one who speaks to you when you wake up in the early hours to feed the baby, or the voice that flattens the silence as you wash the dishes. Maybe you take me on the bus to work or school or tune in whilst you walk through the park. I don’t know. For me, I am sat in the basement studio, almost in darkness, talking to a microphone that I imagine is you, listening.
When Madame Marie hosted the show I wonder if she felt this way too, as though she was speaking half a conversation. I’ll never really know. In a lot of ways it’s like talking into a Spirit Box, really. I never know what questions I ask or things I say will inspire one of you to strike up a conversation on the forums, or prompt you to write in a letter or a telegram. It seems unfair; I speak to you and you hear me right away but you aren’t offered any such powers. I don’t know. It’s silly, I suppose.
For a long time, I felt like I was doing this show for Madame Marie. Temporary host Sam Enfield, stepping in for a short while until M came back. Then after a while I started thinking I was doing it for you, Faithful Listeners, and in a way I suppose that I am. I want to help resolve your problems when you have them, if I can, of course I do. But as time has gone on I have done so less and less, which is pretty remarkable because I was never a great help to begin with, I don’t think.
But I realised something this week.
Anna tried again to convince me to stop airing the show. She doesn’t know why but she’s sure me hosting this show is a bad idea, and I was going to say that you needed me, Faithful Listeners, but that’s not really true. You don’t need me. Perhaps you need the services that Spirit Box Radio offers, or the resources on the forums, or the community that thrives there, or maybe you might even need to hear someone talk to you once a week about Arcanism, even if it’s only tangential, and not very well informed!
But there is no reason for the person that does that to be. Indeed you were all just as happy when it was Madame Marie hosting the show. If I was to leave, to hand the show over to, I don’t know, Rhytidia Delphus, or maybe even Regular Caller Beth, then there would be a period of adjustment as there is with all changes but in the end you would be happy. In the end it isn’t me hosting the show you need, it’s just someone.
So, Anna is right. I could quit if I wanted. I maybe even should, given what Kitty said about it last week.
But I’m not going to because I don’t want to. When I think about things that I want, the list is very short. For the most part I just don’t know. But I want this for myself. I am going to keep making the show because I like making the show.
I am so tired, Faithful Listeners. I don’t know what’s the right or wrong thing to do about the Man in the Flat Cap or the things Kitty was hiding from in the Impossible House, or the Impossible House itself, or M’s cryptic little note about ‘saving the boy’. I don’t know what it means. I can’t know what it means. I can’t remember anything and when I try to remember it hurts me. And then there’s this scourge of a thing that keeps interrupting all my phone-calls and I just—
I am beginning to wonder if that is the point of it all, in the end. Not just of what Madame Marie did to me, whatever it was, whatever I am that she was trying to, I don’t know. But maybe the point of it all is that I’m not supposed to know. I mean, Oliver. He said he shouldn’t have spoken to me at all and Anna is honest to gods convinced he knows more than he’s letting on but. I don’t care. I can’t care, can I? Because I don’t know.
I just don’t know.
And there’s apparently no bloody point in trying to figure it out!
As the Scourge says, ‘wrong question’. I’ll either know it or I won’t. I am beyond caring. So why even try? So I just won’t. From now on I will be making decisions purely on the basis of whether or not they feel like the right decision to me at the time I’m making them.
Sorry Anna. No I won’t be leaving the show.
So. With that said and done. On with the show.
A few of you on the forums have been asking for more details about Kitty, and I’m happy to say that I do have a couple of answers for you. Pretty much everyone wanted more details about the things she saw in the house.
She’s not been very forth coming about what she saw, but she said there were three of them, and they called each other Indi, Ingra, and Bliss, which lines up, sort of, with what Oliver said about this bunch of Major Arcana or whatever it was. Indifference is Indi, Ingratitude is Ingra, and Ignorance is Bliss, I’m pretty sure. And the cards; indifference, a coin on it’s edge on the back of a hand; ignorance, a bird with it’s head in the sand; and ingratitude, someone looking into a horse’s mouth with a magnifying glass.
As for what they are, and what they might be able to do? I have no idea. The only people I could think to ask are Oliver and Rhytidia and. Oliver is still MIA and Rhytidia will currently field calls only from Anna, and even then she’s not being exactly forthcoming. Anna had to agree to sit in the bog in a pair of hot pants for an hour to wrangle out even the tiny detail that she has known Oliver Boleyn for a very long time and he’s probably not lying about being five hundred years old or whatever. Anna says she reckons she might have got more out of Rhytidia if she agreed to full on lie in the mud like was originally suggested but Anna is very particular about her hair which, you know. Valid.
Maybe I’d be precious about mine if it ever did anything sensible instead of sticking out all over the place and turning silver. Maybe that’s why the Man in the Flat Cap wears a Flat Cap. I mean, it’s hardly a bold fashion statement but maybe it’s a nice mid-way point. I’d do anything for Kitty’s ginger curls or Anna’s wild raven mane. But, alas. I am tragically cursed with a sort of curly, sort of straight, sort of frizzy, mostly silver, total mess. Seems rather unfair what with all the other curses.
Hey maybe this is a sort of side effect, like you know, when you read the little leaflet that comes with your medication and it’s got all kinds of wild things in there! Should have checked for crimes against hair follicles, M, a rookie mistake!
Ah, I’m not sure this is funny is it.
Ha. What a tangent. Anyway, faithful listeners, Kitty is absolutely fine. She’s actually been scheming about what to do about the Impossible House now I’ve filled her in on the handful of things that I’ve learned about it since she’s been gone. She’s called Stykler and Stykler to go and check it out, in case it’s a kind of magical residue left behind after, you know. Whatever it was that M did to me.
When she stole all my memories and made me sleep for six years straight and then only intermittently able to function for another bunch of years until my brain apparently snapped back into gear at a suspiciously close time to the construction of the Spirit Box Radio forums.
Which is fine.
Don’t you just love not being able to understand literally any facet of your life? Isn’t it just incredible? ha.
I’m fine, it’s fine, don’t worry. I don’t care because I can’t care because I don’t know. I’m here because I want to be here.
Moving on then. Ehem.
We have actually received a letter in the P.O. Box this week from Portia in Cambridge about a strange occurrence in her new-build home. There are strange noises coming from the garage and she’s suspicious that it could be something arcane, but she’s not sure. Here’s what Portia had to say.
Dear Madame Marie,
Wha– I— wait. Hang on, that’s not right. The letter was about. It was about something else. This is the wrong letter. Where did this one come from?
It’s the right envelope. ‘Mr Samael Enfield, Host of Spirit Box Radio’, then the street address. There’s—
There’s nothing else in here. The other letter is gone. You know, it’s funny, I can’t remember for the life of me what it was about, the other one. I… no. It’s completely gone. Um. Okay, well. I suppose I’ll read this one. Though whoever wrote this, I’m really sorry to tell you about Madame Marie’s passing. I’ll see what I can do to help, and I can talk to Kitty and Anna about it, maybe, but. I don’t know. Ehem. Here we go.
Dear Madame Marie,
Something is wrong.
You told me when you brought him it would make things better. You said he’d be able to bring her back. I know you said there are no guarantees and that there was a chance nothing would happen so when nothing did whilst you were here I assumed I was one of the unlucky ones and there was nothing at all.
As you know, the day after you came, as you know, my daughter passed away.
I was devastated. She was my whole life. I would have done anything to bring her back and I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for surviving the crash when she didn’t.
We had her cremated – she used to joke that she wanted a viking funeral, which isn’t really something you can do but I wanted to get it as close as possible. I know she was just joking but. I don’t know. Her father and I made a little pyre and we put her ashes on that and sent them down the river, it was a close as we could think to what she wanted.
For weeks afterwards I didn’t know what to do with myself.
I was sad, of course I was sad. As you know, Elizabeth was in a coma for several months before you and your son came to see her. I had come to a quiet sort of peace with it. It was not grieving, exactly, and I had a lot to process, but I was also genuinely glad she was no longer caught in that last gasp and could finally move on.
Which is why this had been so difficult.
It started with her school bag. One school days, I’d always have Elizabeth go and—
Oh, excuse me Faithful Listeners!
Hello, Beth, you are live on Spirit Box Radio!
BETH: Hi Sam.
SAM: A pleasure, as always! What can I help you with?
BETH: Something… strange. Is happening to me. You know, I was chatting on the forums earlier and I realised that I’d not made myself a cup of tea to sit down with my computer. And then I realised I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a cup of tea at all. Or anything to drink, actually. Or eat. Or any sleep.
SAM: You’re having problems with your memory, too? I’m sorry. It’s… yeah. It’s really hard.
BETH: Except I’m not having problems with my memory, exactly. It’s more like. I don’t know. I can remember talking on the forums. I can remember talking on the phone with you. And then it’s like. It’s not even like there are gaps in between. It’s just nothing and then I’m doing it again. How long has it been since we last spoke?
SAM: I’m not 100%, to be honest with you. A few weeks, I think, if you don’t count chatting on the forums.
BETH: Weeks. Whole weeks.
SAM: How far back does it go?
BETH: That’s the thing. I don’t know. I. I think it started the first time I spoke to you. But everything before that feels more like a dream than reality. The colours are all too bright.
SAM: Yeah, because you dyed your eyebrow yellow!
BETH: But. The thing is. I don’t know. What if I didn’t?
SAM: What if you didn’t dye your eyebrow?
BETH: Yeah. Or anything else. What if. All I’ve done. For months. Is talk on the forums and speak to you on the phone.
SAM: Don’t be daft. You’d be dead, wouldn’t you?
BETH: I—- I—-
SAM: Beth? I think you might be having an anxiety— uh. Where are you? What can you see?
BETH: I’m nowhere.
BETH: I’m not anywhere. I can’t see anything.
SAM: Beth, stay with me! You have to be somewhere. What can you see?
BETH: I can’t— it’s not like I can see them. It’s not seeing, or hearing, or feeling, not really, but there are these sort of threads, trembling… it’s the show. It’s you, talking. And then there’s these rings, like rings on water except they aren’t like that at all and that’s the forums, and it’s all words and I can’t. How did I not notice?
SAM: Beth, you aren’t making any sense.
BETH: Sam, I think I’m dead.
SAM: No, you can’t be. We’ve spoken before. You spoke to Madame Marie a bunch of times. You use the forums!! How can you be dead?
BETH: I— don’t think after the car crash you really did make me wake up from a coma, Sam. I think. I think I died and what you did was make me this.
SAM: I did what? Beth, I don’t know what you’re saying.
BETH: You made me a ghost.
SAM: No, that’s not possible, that’s not how ghosts work. It’s like emotions trapped in amber. A quirk of arcane forces. It’s not. You can’t MAKE ghosts, Beth.
BETH: I remember you calling my name, and pulling me back. And then everything feels like a dream.
SAM: No, no, no, Beth you’re wrong, you must be wrong, you can’t be dead.
BETH: I am, Sam. You made me like this.
SAM: No, but I didn’t, I didn’t kill you, I—
BETH: You trapped me here. And all I do is listen to the radio and watch the forums. It’s all I do.
SAM: Why? I wouldn’t– I would never ask you or anyone to live, or not live, or whatever. I wouldn’t ask anyone to exist like that, Beth. It sounds awful.
BETH: I remember you held out your hand, and you were this little, little kid, and you said ‘come with me’, and I did, without question.
SAM: Beth. I– I don’t remember. I can’t remember. I. I’m so sorry. I never meant for this. I never meant for you to. For you to… I’m a monster. I’m a monster, aren’t I? That’s what this is. Anna was right, I could be capable of… maybe I. Maybe I did kill her. M. Madame Marie. My own mother.
No. No, that’s not just something you forget. It isn’t. And I don’t just forget. She— Madame Marie. She did something to make me forget, maybe. Or, I don’t know. Something went wrong and it wasn’t supposed to make me forget but it did anyway and now I’m stuck like this.
I don’t know what’s happening to me, Beth. All I know is that I can’t control it. The magic that keeps exploding out of me – it makes no sense! Magic can go wrong, you can have magical accidents and incidents and mistakes, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t just happen. It can’t be an accident. Magic, arcane energy, it’s a part of us as much as it’s a part of everything, and some people can tap into that force more than others, but no matter how powerful an arcanist you are you have to try, you have to do it on purpose.
BETH: Haver you considered it’s NOT you that’s going wrong?
SAM: I’m sorry?
BETH: You know, like maybe there IS a spell that’s gone wrong, but it’s not your spell.
SAM: It’s… not my spell.
SAM: That… that actually might make sense. Thank you.
BETH: No problem. Actually, I… I wonder if maybe that’s what I’m.. for?
SAM: What you’re for?
BETH: Yeah. Helping you.
SAM: Ghosts aren’t usually for anything.
BETH: I’m not a usual ghost, am I?
SAM: No. I suppose you’re not. And you don’t need to do anything for me, Beth. It’s fine.
I think she’s gone.
[PHONE CLATTERS AS SAM RETURNS IT TO IT’S CRADLE]
Wait, the letter I was just reading. Elizabeth. Beth is short for Elizabeth. And it’s me, I mean obviously its me, I’m Madame Marie’s only son and I knew. We know. Anna said and I. I know. She took me places, made me do things. And the Mystery Caller, from a few weeks ago said I made them but that is not how it works, it’s. But. Suspension at the moment of death and…
Madame Marie’s note. The Major Arcana are linked up with the One Who Walks Here and There. He. What if. What if they’re people that have made deals with him. What if he makes them and. I. I am his son so. So what if I can do what he can do but I just can’t do it right?
But that makes no sense. Witches, diviners, arcanists. They can commune with the dead, they can all manipulate the Arcane Arts, but they cannot bring people back from the dead. But he’s not doing that is he? It’s suspension at the moment of death… But…
Madame Marie is right.
He’s not just a witch, that makes no sense. He can’t be. He’s something else. I. I don’t know.
And this rose. Oliver said it was an artefact of the Arcane. A non-entity. A trick. A lie.
I tried to ask him about the Man in the Flat Cap, and the look on his face was. I don’t know how to explain it. He opened his mouth as though to speak, but no words left him, and in an instant was like he expected someone to hurt him. He hung his head, hair falling forward like a curtain, shutting me out. He took my hand in his and placed it on his chest and said that if he could tell me more, he would, he swears, but he can’t. And maybe I’m a fool for it but I believe him. Whatever happened. Wherever he’s gone. Why ever he’s scared of that scourge that keeps calling the studio… Somehow, I don’t think it’s about choice.
But what, of everything that has happened, has been a choice?
I’ve been thinking about intent, what it is. What it means. Maybe it’s not important because magic is intent turned into measurable consequences, but because the arcane is… well. Arcane. Unknowable. And you have to be clear about that intent when you’re channelling that energy because it is so easy to be misinterpreted. Words of power hold the intent of everyone who has ever spoken them. Maybe it’s not just the power, though, as in the weight behind the punch it packs. Maybe it’s also about everyone agreeing that that word, in particular, means this specific thing? Maybe what makes them powerful is that we’ve all agreed that they’re powerful.
So maybe it’s not about intent at all. Intent is just the wire through which the power is channelled. Maybe the plug, the connector, the link between the arcane and the people that use it, isn’t intent but something else. What that something else is, how to articulate it, I don’t know. Desire, or fear, or respect, or… I don’t know. Belief.
And if it is belief. Maybe it’s deeper than any of these books give credit. Maybe it’s about more than just understanding the words and knowing what order to say them in. Maybe it’s only possible because we agree it’s possible. Maybe– maybe. I don’t know.
I do know this. I don’t want to make ghosts, I don’t want to trap people, I don’t want them to– to serve me or whatever I just want!
Oh. I just want people to listen.
I speak and will be heard. By you.
Ha. Would you look at that? My nose is bleeding. The price is paid in blood, after all. But the price for what?
Goodnight, faithful listeners. Sleep well.
| Content Warnings |
– Background music of varying volumes
– Implications of past child neglect
– Discussion of the death of a child
– Mention of serious car accident
– Description of mourning and funeral rites
– Mentions of hospitals and hospitalisation
– Loss of a degree of autonomy (not Sam)
– Complex mourning for a neglectful/abusive parent
– Mentions of blood (from a nosebleed)
– Implications of murder or wrongful death
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