‘As certain as the sun rises in the east’ has always struck me a strange kind of phrase because the sun doesn’t rise at all. We are spinning around it and both it and us are hurtling through the universe at speeds we can never understand. So the sun only appears to rise. Maybe there is no certainty at all, only quirks of perspective. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.
Hello, Faithful Listeners! Welcome back to the Enlightenment Segment, and boy, do I have some enlightening things to report to you this week!
Kitty’s been playing about on the forums, trying to figure out how it all works. Her computer skills aren’t incredible but she’s better at it than I am, so she’s not sure, exactly, what’s going on with it. The code for the site makes no sense. There are characters in it which shouldn’t be possible to include. She found a bunch of Algiz in there, and whole lot of what appears to be binary, even though the rest of the script was in rich text. I don’t know if you can tell but I have absolutely no idea what any of that means, but it’s apparently unusual, according to Kitty.
She spoke to Stykler and Stykler but they don’t do a lot of digital ablution as its still very much an emerging market, though they are looking to develop their practices in this area. They weren’t able to help much, except to agree that it was all very strange.
Kitty and I have also been looking into the Impossible House on Banemouth Road. Kitty showed me how to find places on google maps and, well. We couldn’t find a Banemouth Road in Dyserth on there at all. Kitty says to her recollection it was just off Pandy Lane, but the turning she remembers looks like a dirt path. She’s pretty sure the house’s protections are messing with the whole street’s ability to be perceived, or something along those lines, which is pretty unsettling to be honest with you. My gut feeling is that the powers of the house are expanding and Kitty says that based on what she’s seen, I’m right. She’s operating on the assumption that whatever’s there now isn’t a house, like the Styklers told me, and it’s some residue left over from whatever happened the night of my seventh birthday.
Neither Kitty nor Anna have any idea was M was attempting to do that night, what it means for me, or what we could try to do about it. Regular Caller Beth’s suggestion that perhaps the reason my magic just sort of happens rather than obeying ordinary rules of intent and attraction is still pretty compelling but somehow it… I don’t know. It doesn’t fit. When I do these things, even if I don’t mean to, I feel it. I feel it shuddering through me, this massive, trembling force. It’s not coming from anywhere else. It’s me. Whatever it is it’s inside of me, or a part of me, or. Or I’m a part of it. I don’t know. It. I don’t know.
SAM: [SNAPPILY] Are you seriously just going to sit there the whole time?
SAM: Could you at least… I dunno. Read a book or something? You staring at me is not fostering a very positive broadcast environment.
[CHAIR LEGS SCRAPE ON THE GROUND]
ANNA: Is this better?
SAM: I mean. You’re now just staring at a wall, but have off, I guess.
Right. What was I saying? I’ve completely lost my train of thought. Uh. The forums. Yes. There has been a few interesting goings-on over there in the past few weeks. A couple of you, Faithful Listeners, seem to recognise the images off the True Arcanist Tarot cards for Indifference, Ignorance and Ingratitude, the Inconvenient Sins which are apparently trapped in the Impossible House? Maybe? Kitty says she was pretty sure they were still in there when she left.
The cards are depictions of common idioms. Ignorance, a bird with its head buried in the ground, is probably a reference to burying your head in the sand; a deliberate choice to remain ignorant. Ingratitude, a person examining a horse’s mouth with a magnifying glass, is likewise a common idiom, ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’.
What’s interesting about these cards is the way they relate to one another, as George on the forums pointed out. To not look a gift horse in the mouth implies a deliberate ignorance on the recipients part in order to express gratitude. Burying your head in the sand is also used to describe instances where people fail to perceive injustices in order to remain grateful for their lot, like when the wealthy look to the even wealthier to assure themselves that they are normal, not taking advantage, and aren’t really rich.
After George pointed out all of that I sat and thought about it for a good long while. Both ignorance and ingratitude, when interpreted the way George has done in his analysis of the images on the cards, are sort of ways in which to achieve indifference, or feign indifference, or, I don’t know, like indifference is an integral part of both ignorance and ingratitude. Which explains why they’re all together, I suppose.
I’m not sure if any of this makes any sense.
I would love to ask Oliver. If he comes back, I… Gods. I just wish he would come back. I have so many questions for him. And I. I just want to see him again. Even if. I don’t know. Even if it’s just to say a proper goodbye.
ANNA: Are you so stupid that you really can’t see it?
SAM: See what, Anna?
ANNA: Your boyfriend is one of them.
SAM: He’s– he’s not my boyfriend. He left.
ANNA: That’s the bit you’re taking umbrage with, seriously?
SAM: Why are you saying all of this? You don’t even believe the Arcane is real, do you?
ANNA: I don’t know. I. I just want things to make sense. I try to make them make sense. And the Arcane just doesn’t. It’s like the opposite of logical, the opposite of sensible. It can’t be understood, not properly. That’s what ‘arcane’ means!
SAM: And your point?
ANNA: There are forces at play here we can’t understand. All I can do is focus on the parts of this web of nonsense that do make sense, and one of those is that Madame Marie wanted to keep you away from Spirit Box Radio at all costs. I know you seem better, but I have to believe there was a reason behind her doing what she did. And I know you changed when she went to see Oliver when you were a kid. You used to be so bubbly and… I don’t know… weird stuff happened around you. And then for months. For years. All you did was sleep. That happened after she went to Oliver.
Think about it, Sam. He says he can’t die. He knows about parts of Arcanism so obscure they’ve not even come up in the show before. The weird tarot deck – who is the one that told you what it meant? And he knew about the things that were trapped inside the house with Kitty. He called them ‘Inconvenient Sins’. He knows stuff, Sam, and he’s not telling you about all of it.
SAM: He’s nice to me. Good to me. He talks to me like… like I matter. Or at least he did before he left.
ANNA: I know I’ve not been the best sister in the world Sam but you need to trust me on this! Please, Sam.
SAM: No the best sister in the world!? Do you know how many times in the last three months that you’ve threatened to have me institutionalised?
ANNA: That’s hardly the point.
SAM: Forty three. Forty three! Because you don’t like what I’m doing. I’m not crazy, Anna. It’s really a joke you’re here begging me to trust you when you can’t do me the basic decency of having the slightest shred of belief in me.
ANNA: You think I don’t believe in you?
SAM: I don’t think it. I know it.
ANNA: I just don’t want to see you hurt.
SAM: Newsflash! I am already hurt. By… by Madame Marie, who has apparently been lying to me for my entire life. And by you. You know, you yell at Kitty for just blindly doing whatever Madame Marie says. She doesn’t. She does what she’s told, yeah, but she questions it. And you? You just complain and at the same time pick and choose which bits of Madame Marie’s doctrine you’re going to blindly swallow.
ANNA: I beg your pardon?
SAM: You heard me.
ANNA: This is all beside the point, Sam. Maybe you can’t trust me but you can’t trust Oliver Boleyn either.
SAM: How would you know? You don’t know a thing about him. You don’t know what he’s like. He’s soft he– he. He’s Oliver. If he was here—
[THE LOW TREMBLING SOUND THAT SOMETIMES SPARKS UP WHEN SAM SPEAKS RISES SHARPLY]
[THERE IS A SWELL OF STATIC, BUT IT IS DIFFERENT TO STATIC WE’VE HEARD BEFORE. ALTHOUGH THAT JAGGED ELECTRIC PULSE IS BENEATH IT STILL, IT’S CUT THROUGH WITH IRREGULAR THUMPS, LIKE A MISS-TIMED PULSE. THE STATIC SWELLS AND RECEDES, AND AS IT DOES, THE TREMBLING OF SAM’S COMMAND FADES AWAY.]
[BEFORE THE STATIC AND THE TREMBLING HAVE FADED COMPLETELY, OLIVER CRIES OUT IN PAIN]
SAM: [WITH ALARM] Oliver!
OLIVER: [ENTIRELY CALMLY, WITH NO HINT OF DISTRESS] Sam. What did you just do?
SAM: Me?! You’re the one that materialised out of thin air!
OLIVER: I suppose I did. But I believe you invoked me.
SAM: I… what now?
OLIVER: It is not of import. What do you need?
ANNA: Sam. Did you just summon your boyfriend out of thin air?
SAM: Again, not my boyfriend. Or at least, not anymore. He just left, remember?
OLIVER: I really feel my presence is not required for this.
SAM: Actually, it is. Would you please tell my sister you don’t have any. I don’t know. Secret agendas, or something?
OLIVER: I. Can’t.
ANNA: You see? I told you! He’s in cahoots with them! You can’t trust him.
OLIVER: She’s right.
SAM: Oh well that’s just. Fantastic. Great.
OLIVER: I told you this was a mistake. That I should never have invited you back. I should have told you to leave the moment I realised.
SAM: Realised what?
OLIVER: There is a mark on your throat, shaped like an algiz.
SAM: It’s just a birthmark.
OLIVER: Serendipitous that the son of a witch would be born with such a mark, isn’t it?
SAM: [WITH A HALF HEARTED SWELL OF TREMBLING POWER] Can’t you just say things? Please?
OLIVER: I am afraid I am literally incapable of that. I have been forbidden.
SAM: By who?
OLIVER: Someone smart enough to include that in the taboo.
SAM: Oh, brilliant. Just brilliant. At least tell me who you really are.
OLIVER: I am Oliver Boleyn, the Unrelenting. Florist of the Hatfield Karpos.
SAM: The True Arcanist Tarot. The card with the heart threaded onto a chain. That’s you.
OLIVER: It’s just a name. A joke, I think, though not one I’ve ever fully understood. A part of the punishment is that my sense of… humanity remains.
ANNA: How on earth can you expect us to believe that.
SAM: Anna, stop it.
ANNA: No! I will not. You cannot just barge in here, or not barge, just appear, out of thin air, like some kind of, I don’t know, magic rabbit, and then go about announcing great snippets of information none of us could have possibly worked out without you and just expect us to accept that.
SAM: Anna, shut up.
[AS SAM SPEAKS THIS COMMAND, THE TREMBLING RISES MORE SOLIDLY, DECISIVELY]
[ANNA MAKES A WORDLESS CROAK]
OLIVER: Let her speak.
SAM: She can speak if she wants.
[THE TREMBLING RISES AGAIN]
ANNA: [SPLUTTERING] What the hell, Sam?
OLIVER: You are disproportionately reasonable, Sam.
[THE TREMBLING FADES, THE QUIETEST IT HAS BEEN SINCE OLIVER ARRIVED, BUT IT DOES NOT SILENCE COMPLETELY]
ANNA: Um, hello? Are we going to elaborate on the… whatever that was?
SAM: What are you talking about?
OLIVER: I don’t know that now is the time.
ANNA: I couldn’t care less what you think. The only thing I want to hear from you is an… an explanation! A proper, sensible explanation, that makes things, MAKE SENSE.
[THERE IS A BRIEF PAUSE AS THOUGH ANNA IS PSYCHING HERSELF UP FOR THIS]
How did you know what was chasing Kitty? Why did you call them Inconvenient Sins? What is a Major Arcana?
[NOBODY SAYS ANYTHING FOR AN AWFUL MOMENT]
SAM: Don’t just stand there, answer her!
OLIVER: A Major Arcana is a thing corrupted by Arcane forces. The Inconvenient Sins are a small group of them who have been banding together for a century or two and have a reputation for chaos and ruthlessness. I know all of this because I am, in ways, one of them.
SAM: What in hells is that supposed to mean? ‘In ways one of them’? What?
OLIVER: I’m sorry. I’m not a part of their little… collective, of course. But you would designate me, properly, as a Major Arcana. I should have made this plainer at the beginning. But I wasn’t all that convinced it was a beginning, I thought it more of an. Entirety. But when you looked at me it was as if you were looking… like what you saw was more than… I’m sorry, Sam. Truly.
SAM: I don’t know why you’re apologising. I have no idea what you’re going on about.
SAM: Shut up, Anna.
[THE TREMBLING RISES AGAIN AND FALLS AT THE END OF SAM’S COMMAND, BACK TO ITS LOW CONSTANT]
OLIVER: The Arcane is an energy. It runs through all living things.
SAM: Like electricity. I already know all of this.
OLIVER: Like electricity, it can be manipulated, and channelled, and used for benefit, as we do when we perform the Arcane Arts. But it can also… manifest? That’s not the right word. Perhaps this is not the right metaphor.
SAM: Look, I’m not arsed about the quality of your bloody metaphors, Oliver.
OLIVER: I know. I’m sorry.
SAM: Would you stop apologising? It’s driving me up the wall. And Anna, why aren’t you saying anything?
OLIVER: You forbade it.
SAM: I?? Oh, for the sake of… [WITH A RISING TREMBLE] Anna, speak your mind.
ANNA: You’re an idiot! He’s dangerous! I hate Madame Marie for this.
SAM: Uh. Right.
ANNA: I don’t know why I said that.
OLIVER: You said it because he told you to speak your mind.
ANNA: Enough! When you said you were one of them, you weren’t lying.
ANNA: And the Major Arcana, you say, are ‘corrupted’ by the Arcane. That’s a telling choice of word, ‘corrupted’. But you want us to trust you.
SAM: Oliver, say something.
OLIVER: Not exactly. But I do need you to take this threat seriously, so in a way that’s what I’m asking. Sometimes, an Arcanist is presented with a choice and an offer is made.
SAM: By the man in the flat cap and shell suit.
OLIVER: Yes. The man who gave you that rose.
SAM: What does he have to do with this? Tell me.
OLIVER: He… made Indi, Bliss and Ingra. He made them an offer, and this was the price. To become his willing servants, tempting humans towards abuse of the Arcane. To entrap them. I fear what is occurring now is a consequence of a deal gone sour.
SAM: Wait. Madame Marie was warned about him. To refuse him. But. Why come after Kitty?
OLIVER: I’m afraid I don’t know.
SAM: Hang on. Wait. You were made a deal and you said yes. You seem. Fine. I don’t. You’re a powerful witch and Arcanist. Why should Madame Marie have refused if you can get off so lightly from these things?
[OLIVER SIGHS TIREDLY]
OLIVER: Don’t mistake me. I told you, I am not sure if you can call what I am doing now living. I cannot die. I cannot pass on. My free will is limited. That of the other Major Arcana even more so. It seems the joke of leaving me with my humanity intact had unfortunate consequences for the One Who Walks Here and There that even he failed to anticipate. But in general, if a deal is refused, that is where the Major Arcana come in to claim you by other means.
SAM: Other means?
OLIVER: Your power as an Arcanist comes from what a romantic might call your soul. Broker a deal with the One Who Walks Here and There, and your soul is forfeit. Refuse him, and he will claim it by force.
SAM: What happens then?
OLIVER: I’m not sure, exactly. But I believe it is some kind of incorporation, or consumption. That is how he has become so powerful.
SAM: He… eats. Souls.
SAM: And when you make a deal with him, any deal–
OLIVER: Your soul is forfeit.
SAM: And if you refuse–
OLIVER: Then the Major Arcana will take you anyway. Or at least, they will attempt to. You might die first. Many choose that path.
ANNA: Hold up. Those things that were hunting Kitty in the house. They were trying to recruit us?
OLIVER: Perhaps. I’m not sure. Their behaviour makes little sense to me.
SAM: And you?
ANNA: They don’t need to recruit him. He just said he’s already one of them.
SAM: That’s not what I meant. Oliver. Was that what you were doing? Trying to recruit me?
OLIVER: [FIERCELY] Never.
SAM: Is he lying?
ANNA: No. But. Oliver. Whatever your real name is. How come the things hunting Kitty are mindless criminals and you’re not?
OLIVER: [sighs deeply] You make a deal with him, you become one of his things. And he choses what image he’s going to make you in. Indi, Bliss and Ingra – the embodiments of Indifference, Ignorance and Ingratitude respectively. And I am the Unrelenting.
ANNA: Oh for heaven’s sake. Get a lie detector! [HUFFILY] Oh, fine. No, he’s not lying.
SAM: Thank you for telling the truth. Finally.
SAM: Don’t. It’s fine. I… I told you I wasn’t going to push it, remember?
OLIVER: I do.
SAM: Great. Glad we’re all clear.
ANNA: You’re letting it go?
SAM: No! Anna, oh for crying out— just stop it, okay? Stop needling! I do not need you breathing down my neck whilst I. Look. This is none of your business. Oliver is none of your business.
ANNA: I beg to differ.
SAM: Well, you’ll have to get on your bloody knees then, won’t you? [SIGH] Oliver. How can I trust you?
OLIVER: You can’t.
ANNA: He’s not lying.
SAM: Yes, thank you, Anna.
OLIVER: You can trust this, though; they came for Madame Marie. And they will come for you.
SAM: And that’s the only thing I can trust from you?
OLIVER: I should have told you to leave the moment you came into my shop.
SAM: Well. If that’s how you feel.
OLIVER: It’s not about feelings. It’s about objective facts.
SAM: Well, just go, then. GO!
[OLIVER’S STATIC SWELLS AND FADES AWAY]
[A BEAT OF SILENCE]
[A BEAT OF SILENCE]
SAM: Was he lying?
SAM: About telling me to leave!
ANNA: I– I don’t know, Sam.
SAM: Oh, so now you’re fallible.
ANNA: I never said I wasn’t! I don’t even know that this thing is a– a thing, and if it is I don’t know what I’m doing and I— look, I’m sorry. Is that enough?
SAM: [BITTERLY] Yeah. I guess it has to be.
ANNA: I really am sorry.
SAM: Would you just. If you won’t leave me alone would you at least be quiet whilst I finish this? Please?
[CHAIR LEGS SCRAPE AS ANNA MOVES]
ANNA: I can do that.
[CHAIR CLATTERS AS ANNA STANDS UP. SHE STARTS TO WALK AWAY]
SAM: Thanks. [SIGH]
Faithful listeners, I’m sorry about all of this. You shouldn’t have to be party to all of this… nonsense.
[THE STUDIO DOOR DISTANTLY OPENS AND CLOSES AS ANNA LEAVES]
[SAM SIGHS SOFTLY]
SAM: But I’m sure you’ll have plenty of useful things to say that will help, won’t you? We’re friends, aren’t we, faithful listeners? Though I don’t know you, surely by now you know me. I’m just trying my best.
It seems like Madame Marie… I don’t know. I don’t know what any of this means. Maybe the man in the flat cap came to her and she turned him down just like everyone told her too, and these Major Arcana came after her because of that. I wish I could ask her. I wish she had told me something, anything about this, instead of leaving me here so vulnerable and lost and confused. I thought she loved me. She did love me. I know she was trying to keep me safe. I know that I have some kind of… thing, broken inside of me. Arcane energy just spilling out at random. I know she was trying to keep me safe.
Hell. Maybe this random outpouring is powerful if you use it right. Maybe that’s why Madame Marie did this. Because like this I’m useless, virtually harmless as long as I keep myself out of trouble, but.
The Mystery Caller. They said that I am the gift. That… she bargained for me? With what? Her life?
Maybe she… maybe she kept me a secret because she knew that… I don’t know. That something went wrong. I’m not as good as she was hoping. Not as good as the Man in the Flat Cap and Shell suit wanted. I can’t do what I’m supposed to do, maybe that means… maybe he would have taken me away.
You should have let him take me back, M. If it would have saved you, you should have let him take me back! I’m useless. I— I’m monstrous. I’m wrong.
No. Not wrong. Arcane.
I– I don’t know. I think it’s time to sign off for the night. I have things I need to do.
[SAM BREATHES HEAVILY FOR A MOMENT]
SAM: [WHISPERED] I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t.
[SAM SIGHS DEFEATEDLY]
SAM: [ALOUD, WITH DEFEAT] What the hells.
[OLIVER’S STATIC SWELLS AND FADES]
SAM: [QUIETLY] It worked.
[FOOTSTEPS APPROACH STEADILY]
[CHAIR LEGS SCRAPE]
SAM: I bid you a restful goodnight.
[SAM’S FASTER FOOTSTEPS JOIN OLIVER’S. THERE IS A QUIET, DISTANT GASP]
| Content Warnings |
– Background music of varying volumes
– Static (3 brief instances at 8:15, 17:40 and 20:50, not louder than the rest of the audio)
– Background sound effects of various volumes
– Implications and discussion of instances of past child neglect
– Mentions of suggested institutionalisation/hospitalisation for mental health reasons
– Negative self-talk
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