SBR 1.6: O Holey Holey Night

[GOD REST YE FROM ABOUT 50 seconds in?]

‘Twas Christmas night and all through the house, no creature there stirred, not even a mouse, except for the lurkers who’ve come for a fright, those ghosties and ghouls who go bump in the night. Welcome to Spirit Box Radio’s Advice and Community Segment on the threshold of Christmas Eve, with me, your temporary host Sam Enfield.

[GOD REST YE INTENSIFIES]

Welcome back, faithful listeners, to this marginally merrier edition of the Advice and Community segment here at Spirit Box Radio. I know many of you who celebrate Christmas may be spending it alone, and as someone who has spent the festive period in the company of myself and nobody else on several occasions, I’m here to reassure you, it’s really not all bad. Christmas dinner for one is a much easier ordeal to orchestrate and you have no competitors for who gets the end of the Yule Log, plus there are no arguments over who gets to burn the pentagram from the top of the tree at the end of the night, which makes everything a lot easier, if you ask me.

There are a great abundance of different midwinter holidays all over the world; it seems like people of all cultures feel the need to celebrate during the darkest months of the year. Remember, though, it’s no different for the dearly departed or the demonstrably demonic; make sure you salt your doors and windows if you’ve been anywhere near the arcane arts in the last few weeks. Santa might not be watching but malicious spirits certainly might be, and if you ask me, the only spirits I want inside of me this time of year are brandy and whiskey!

Usually on the day of the last Community and Advice Segment before Christmas, Madame Marie leaves out a little card in the sorting trays for the letters from the PO Box, and sometimes a little treat. Last year it was a chocolate truffle in the shape of a Christmas pudding. I know it was foolish to hope I’d find something this morning, but of course there wasn’t.

After hearing so much from Kitty and Anna in the last few weeks I’d sort of been hoping one, or maybe even both of them would drop by. Or maybe send a card. No. Since I made it clear to Anna I wasn’t going to stop recording the show whatever she said to me she’s not been answering any of my texts, and Kitty hasn’t spoken to me either since I accidentally played that message live on the air last week. I didn’t mean to. It was just sort of there.

Anna’s spending christmas with that lawyer fiance of hers. Paul? Peter? No. John, maybe? Something like that. Anyway I suppose it makes sense. We haven’t had a Christmas with Madame Marie since… you know I don’t know if we ever did. I have sort of vague memories of Christmases with Anna and Kitty when I was very small, burning the pentagram I’d made for the tree, salting the windows, shooing off the stray cats that were always forcing their way into the house through the broken window in the downstairs bathroom.

I don’t remember Madame Marie being there, though. Not ever. I don’t… I don’t remember.

I’m not sure what Kitty does for Christmas. I think she has a new girlfriend. Well. A new ‘she’s not my girlfriend but yes she’s been in the shed with me for the past four days’. That’s where Kitty stays when she’s not off on her investigative adventures, the shed. It’s not actually a shed. It’s a proper little guest house Madame Marie had built for Kitty when— I don’t know when it was. But it’s Kitty’s. It’s quite lovely, very modern. Little kitchen, massive shower, space for a bed and a small couch. And it’s not drafty and… I don’t know what the best way to describe it. Musty? Damp? The house can get pretty miserable. I have the heating on all the time but it never feels warm in here, not unless you’re right up close to the radiators.

The studio is very warm, though. I– oh I’m embarrassed to say this, faithful listeners, but as it’s been so cold I’ve actually taken to sleeping down here a few nights out of the week. You won’t believe this but, well. The second window in my bedroom is a lot older than the one I always knew was there. The second window is single glazed, I think, and, what’s the term, when they open by sliding over one another? Sash? I’m not certain but that sounds about right. It’s one of those, and there are layers and layers of paint on it. I suppose it’s just shy, or perhaps very attached to its aesthetic. Perhaps nobody ever sees it usually and I’m lucky it’a trusted me with itself. Nevertheless. I shall have to try and have words with it at some point, because the way it rattles and whines in the night is something terrible. It’s becoming impossible to sleep in there at all. I’d sleep in Madame Marie’s room but. I shouldn’t. The door is open. Just slightly ajar. But I can’t bring myself to go in there, I just. I can’t, faithful listeners. I can see the end of the bed is perfectly made through the gap between the door and the frame. I can see a half-drunk glass of water on the bedside table, I can see her fluffy green slippers kicked just under the edge of the bed, next to the boxes of her spell supplies. But I can’t go in there. I can’t.

Wherever Madame Marie is, I hope she has a lovely Christmas. That is, if she doesn’t make it back here in time for lunch. I’ll put in enough nut-roast for her to have some, too, like I always do. And enough for Kitty in case she stops by and wants a sandwich. And for Anna incase she comes by, and I’ll probably make enough for whatshisname, too, in case he tags along. But otherwise I’m just cooking for myself, as usual.

I’m not completely void for company, of course! I’ve got the stray cats that keep coming into the garden, whatever it is that makes the pipes rattle, recording machine, and of course, you, faithful listeners! There has been an abundance of well-wishes, season’s greetings, and possible maledictions across the board in emails, messages on the forums, and in cards sent to our PO Box. I’ve sorted them accordingly – old habits die hard! – and I thought I’d share my favourites with you now!

There’s this one from Peterus, which reads ‘a plaga in illis qui volunt te male’! Thank’s, Peterus. That’s really thoughtful, I appreciate it.

Monica from Ashton-Under-Lyme has sent a beautiful little hand painted card featuring a christmas tree with loads of presents underneath and a handmade pentagram on top. Thanks Monica, but remember not to set the real pentagram on fire until it’s off the tree!

Will from Oxford has sent us some real-life holly sprigs, which I’ve put on top of the computer monitor here in the studio to bring in a little bit of festive cheer, next to the gorgeous taxidermy robin we were sent by Bella from Harlech. The posing of it’s little wings is so precious. Thank you, Bella and Will!

We’ve also received a telegram from Georgie from Dyserth which had a special notice on the top which says ‘please read me on the air’. I’m happy to oblige you, Georgie!

Dear Sam, I’d like to start out by telling you what a great job you’re doing with the show since Madame Marie disappeared. I know you don’t have a lot of experience with presenting radio shows and sometimes that really shows, but you’re clearly trying your best, and it’s been really exciting to hear to you learning new skills. Please keep us up to date on your progress with reading tarot cards; I’m trying to learn to read tarot myself and it’s been really reassuring to have someone like you make mistakes and learn from them in real time.

Where I grew up there was a house on the corner of my street which reminded me very much of the house Kitty the Investigator was describing in her email to Madame Marie. It seemed perfectly ordinary, and I probably wouldn’t have noticed it at all if I hadn’t had a paper round. I was supposed to deliver a paper to every house on my street, but whenever I got to the gate of the house on the corner, I got this funny feeling I should wait until later, and before I knew it I had left the front garden and was half way up the street. In all my years delivering the local journal, I don’t think I ever once managed to put a paper from the door.

I’d completely forgotten about the house on the corner until I caught the episode of the Community and Advice Segment where Kitty wrote in about it, so I thought I’d ask my mum when I popped around for tea the following Sunday. She still lives in the house I grew up in, though she’s getting on a bit now and I’m actually trying to convince her to move somewhere with less stairs as she’s had a couple of nasty falls in the last year.

The house on the corner was still there, a friendly glow in the windows, and so I parked my car between the corner and my mum’s place so I could wander up and see if it still had the same effect on me as it had when I was a kid. I got right up to the gate, then felt like it wasn’t the best time to call on the people who lived there, and by the time I knew what I was doing, I was back at my car with the door pulled open. It was very strange.

I went into my mum’s and helped her make the dinner, and I asked her about the house on the corner, and she got very confused because there isn’t a house on the corner, as far as she knows, and there never has been, according to her. I tried to laugh this off, but she seemed very concerned, as apparently I used to tell stories about a house on the corner when I was younger too. She said she and my dad actually got quite worried about me at one time because I claimed to be friends with a boy that lived there, and would come home saying I’d spent the day with him.

I remember my friend, though I can’t recall his name. He was a few years younger than me if I remember rightly and he’d come out and play with me on the strip of pavement directly outside of the corner house’ gate. At this point I was getting quite frustrated with my mum because she was insisting this byo and the house were entirely imaginary, but then she went away and pulled out a photo album and showed me a photograph of me playing on a strip of pavement beside a barren patch of grass. I blinked, and like when have been staring at a light for too long and it leaves a little blob on your vision, I could see the windows of the house on the corner, exactly where they should have been on the photograph.

I was shaken, obviously, but I did my best to keep it from mum. I helped her clear away the dishes and did a spot of hoovering for her before I left. On my way back to the car I stopped and found myself staring at the house on the corner. At that angle I could only just see the warmly lit front windows. I had a feeling deep in my chest and tingling in my toes. It felt like it was the time. It was a goos time to pop around. For the first time in all these years. My heart was racing. I practically bounded through the front gate. The front door was ajar, the most welcoming golden light spilling out onto the path. I could smell baking and flowers and something that didn’t sit quite right but it had been so long i didn’t stop to think.

When I stepped over the threshold I could hear a radio playing, skipping through channels, it was Spirit Box Radio! I didn’t have chance to check on the forums, which I know is bad practice, but I sat down next to the radio on the floor and it said ‘come home, Sam’. Please come home, Sam. I miss you. Don’t you remember playing hopscotch on the street? It’s so warm and happy in the house, Sam. It’s really lovely. You won’t be alone on Christmas day if you just come home, Sam.

//

[PAUSE]

I— I am home. I live in the house above the studio. I’ve always lived here. I’ve never been to Dyserth. I don’t now anything about this house on the corner and I— I don’t think I had any friends. I don’t remember. I can’t remember. I grew up here, with Madame Marie, didn’t I? I’ve always lived here, this is my home. I am home, I…

Sorry, faithful listeners, I just. What a strange telegram! And long, for a telegram. Come to think of it, it’s far too long to be a telegram and it doesn’t— it didn’t look this long when I picked up and. Oh. It’s just. It’s a blank bit of card I.

[CLEARS THROAT]

Never mind. Never mind. Moving on. Swiftly. Ehem.

We’ve also had a Christmas card from regular caller Beth! The card had a little note tucked inside which you’ve opened with ‘please feel free to read on air!’ so I’ll do that right now, thank you Beth!

Dear Sam,

It’s been a real pleasure getting to know you better over the past few weeks, you’re doing a great job hosting the show and if Madame Marie comes back I’m sure she’ll be nothing but extremely proud of all of your hard work. Thank you so much for your help about my eyebrow, and the vegan alternative to the blood of the innocent works perfectly! I’ll definitely be using it again.

All my love,

Beth.

Oh, Beth, thank you so much for sending this in. I’m glad you’re enjoying my somewhat inept temporary hosting of the show, and I’m glad I was able to help with your eyebrow. I’m only sorry that I didn’t help sooner, foolish boy that I am, not realising the phone was just a few feet away from me the whole time!

I can’t help but notice you’ve said ‘if Madame Marie comes back’ rather than when. I hope you’re not too worried about her. I’m sure she’s absolutely fine. I am half expecting her to come home tomorrow. The trouble with having a psychic for a mother is — goodness, I wasn’t meant to say that. [giggles awkwardly]

Madame Marie I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to let that slip. Anyway. The trouble with psychics is sometimes they’re so caught up in the future they forget about the presents! This won’t be the first time she’s forgot about Christmas being so worried about the next one. Luckily I’ve always had Kitty and Anna around to–

Look at me I’m saying far too much, faithful listeners!

Please excuse me a moment whilst I— yes. Whilst I just. [deep breath]

[sounds of Sam leaving]

[spooky noises like wind and distant wailing]

[sinister laugh]

[spooky noises continue, and distantly, Sam screams into a pillow]

I’m back, I’m back. So sorry, listeners. What was I saying?

Oh yes. Please don’t fret about Madame Marie. I’m sure she’ll return post-haste. It will be fabulous when she does, of course. Such a relief. But I will miss hosting the show. I do so love it. I’ve always loved the show and it has been my sincerest wish for such a long time that I’d be able to host it. Speaking with you now in the wee hours of Christmas eve is a present enough for me! I can burn the pentagram alone, it will be enough to know there are people tuning in, so thank you, faithful listeners.

Anna will be spending Christmas day with her lawyer fiance, I imagine. Paul, his name is. I’ve met him a few times, but he’s never made a particularly strong impression on me, you know? He seems… fine. I’m not sure what Anna sees in him, except that he’s pretty good at following instructions.

I wonder what Kitty’s doing. I went out to her shed the other day and put up a few fairy lights and left her Christmas present on the counter top, so if she comes back, she’ll have something to open. I stuck the heating on, too. I doubt she’ll be back. Sounds like she’s pretty busy. Nonetheless it’s good to be prepared, isn’t it?

That’s what Madame Marie always says, anyway! One of the great benefits of having a psychic around was always knowing we’d have enough money. She never managed to get a full set of lottery numbers but she could often get enough to pay the bills. And we have the house, and she lets me live here for free. To be honest I think it’s because she likes to keep an eye on me. I’m not sure why. She seems to think I’d get into trouble if she left me alone, but look at me now, faithful listeners! Recording the show every week without fail, even finding the hidden recording machine and the studio phone, despite it’s clever disguise.

Anyway, I thought we might try to—

[distant knocking]

did you hear that?

[more knocking]

Huh. Well. Okay. Um. Yeah. Right, so I’m just going to check on that, in case it’s important. Who is knocking at the door at gone three in the morning? I’ll leave you with… ah. The soothing sounds of the spirit box.

[Spirit Box Sounds]

I’m back, faithful listeners! There was nobody there, it must have been my— oh

Faithful listeners, there’s a box on the desk in front of the microphone. It’s red, with a green bow on the top. There’s a tag. It says ‘Sam’. That’s my name.

How did it… Oh nevermind, never look a gift box in the mouth, right? Let’s see what’s inside!

Oh. A red rose. It’s very beautiful. And a note!

The note says ‘Augury forecast: Un-Merry Christmas. Love from dad.’

‘Dad’.

I. I don’t know what to say.

Um. Thank you. Whoever left this. Thank you.

I— think I’m going to go to bed now. Yeah. That seems like the best course of action at this point. Wishing all of you faithful listeners out there a very merry Christmas, as filled with joy as it can be in a year like this! Remember to pair your socks or the sprites will have them before the New Year! This has been the Spirit Box Radio Advice and Community Segment. Thank you, and goodnight!