Click for Content Warnings
- Background sounds and music
- References to death and dying
- Discussion of ongoing loss of mental autonomy
- Vague, show-typical referneces to child neglect
- Moments of mild panic/hysteria (rapid speech and heavy breathing)
In the grand scheme of things, we’re nothing, which when you think about it is quite comforting, because that means things mean something because we decide they do. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.
Hello, faithful listeners! Another week another segment.
What are we calling it now? The Enlightenment Segment? Not been too Enlightening, really, has it? We should call it something else. The ‘hang out with the host until he feels like he’s wasting your time’ segment, or the ‘Sam knows nothing about literally anything segment’. The ‘Endless Qs and No As except for arseholes Segment’. Oh, I dunno. It just feels like roadblock after roadblock. What’s going on with the Scarcemongers? Dunno. What’s Scourge? Dunno. What does it mean that me and my boyfriend now have conversations where we just stop and sort of look at each other and I know that he knows that I know he’s thinking about asking about the deal thing and he knows I know he knows that and it’s, ugh. Whatever it is I don’t know what it means.
Sorry, sorry faithful listeners, I’m just so–
Tired. Ugh. I don’t know what it is. I’ve been absolutely exhausted right into my bones for the past couple of weeks. What was I saying.
Oh, yeah, Oliver has been teaching me to make chocolate mousse, though! Which is nice, isn’t it? That’s good. I like it a lot! Apparently it’s a lot more difficult to make a vegan mousse which doesn’t collapse, according to Oliver, and he seemed surprised he actually managed it. I made a joke about moose falling over and he looked at me like I’d turned into a moose so then I just pretended I hadn’t said anything and kissed him. I’m good at distractions, apparently. He tells me so frequently.
Ugh, gods… I need to stop talking about this don’t I. It’s not going well this whole—
avoiding my personal grievances on air thing, is it?
Also, I have a cold. Ugh, I just want it to be summer. Don’t get me wrong, I love the winter, I love snuggly cardigans and blankets but apparently the Karpos gets very humid in the summer, and I know I spent a few days there with him last summer but I feel like we didn’t really make the most of it, you know? I wish I knew how Oliver makes the whole space work. I’m pretty sure the shop is bigger on the inside, and that backroom is impossible, like there’s no way it can exist according to the structure of the building the shop is in, it just doesn’t make sense. You can walk around in there for ages. I once even got lost, before Oliver taught me the proper way around. It’s a good thing too, he’s got all sorts of things in there. He gets infuriating about it all, to be honest. The ivy on the walls moves much faster than other climbing plants; you can sit and watch the fronds feeling their way up the wall. It’s fascinating. Oliver says it’s just a matter of persuasion but no matter how much I yell at houseplants all they ever do for me is die. Oh well. We can’t all have green fingers, I suppose. Or is it thumbs? Oh I don’t know, I suppose it doesn’t really matter, does it?
[SCRATCHING AT THE DOOR]
No, Revel, go away. I’m busy, I’m trying to…
[SAM’S HEAD HIT’S THE DESK WITH A THUD]
How did you even?? Do you have any idea how exhausting this is? I swear you just—
SAM: Please, Revel. I’m so tired. I don’t want to talk to you right now.
SAM: Test my– I don’t have theories, Revel, you say you’re a Major Arcana and that’s fine, I don’t see why I should carry on talking about it endlessly or–
SAM: I know it’s been two weeks. I know! You’re deliberately doing this whilst I’m broadcasting, aren’t you?
SAM: ‘I’m at my strongest’. [SNIFFLES] Yeah, I feel really strong, thanks.
SAM: Of course I care about the Faithful Listeners. I’ve been talking to them, haven’t I!? I’ve been answering letters and everything! Surely that’s better than just waffling on about you and everything else.
REVEL: Meep. Mew.
SAM: ‘I speak and will be heard’, what’s that got to do with anything.
SAM: I am speaking, Revel. That’s what we call it when we flap our mouths about and sound comes out.
SAM: I’m not pushing you out or spurning you or whatever, I just don’t want to talk about it. What is there to say? According to you I can make Major Arcana, what else is there to say about that!? I just– I didn’t do this on purpose. I didn’t want this. I didn’t ask you to serve me or whatever! Like– what am I supposed to say! Like how am I even. How am I supposed to feel about that, huh? What do you want me to say?
SAM: Well, I do feel– I feel like. Like what the hell! I have no idea what more to tell you, Revel, like what else am I supposed to say? How many of you cats belong to me or whatever? What am I supposed to say about any of that?
SAM: All of… all of you. Revel. Please just. I need some space, I need a break, I need– –
SAM: But I don’t want to think about it! I just want to– I want to go back. I want to undo it. I want to fix it. I didn’t do this on purpose. I— I thought you were staying because you’re my friend, but you’re not. You’re staying because I make you.
SAM: What do you mean you don’t think that’s how it works?! You’ve met Oliver. You know what it’s like! He would do anything, anything to change this. ANYTHING. The only reason that he hasn’t asked me to take his deal is because— because I MADE HIM NOT ASK. And it’s just. I try so hard to keep it in check, this thing that happens when I speak, if I know it’s happened I try to go back and unpick it but I didn’t do that, I couldn’t because otherwise he’d have asked me and I don’t want to tell him no. Don’t you understand, Revel. Don’t you get it?
SAM: But I want to run from this. Why can’t I? Why can’t I just disappear into the nothing and never do any of this anymore? I just. I’m not special. I don’t feel special. I don’t– I can’t— how am I supposed to make sense of what I can do, let alone what else is going on, how am I–
[SAM SPEAKS RAPIDLY, A MAGIC HUM RISING AS THEY SPEAK]
SAM: Okay, fine! FINE! You want me to share my theories? Fine. I think there’s three of them; Scourge, Scarcity, and the thing that letter writer from last week saw! I think the Scarcemongers are connected to the Soup Kitchen and the Burger Van thing, I do, I don’t know why but that’s what I think. I think Madame Marie was searching for the Impossible Children to work out what to do with me but I have no idea what her grandmother was doing that for but somehow I think it’s what happened to her parents that will help me figure that one out, but I don’t know why I think that, I just do. I don’t understand how the forums come into play in all of this yet but it’s got something to do with me and the what I need and it’s connected to the show which doesn’t seem to have been set up on purpose so I wonder if it’s like, I don’t know, an arcane artefact, but what I do know is that the Recording Machine is attached to the show and the forums, so there is at least one link there, likely more because when I speak to the ghosts in the forums they play live on air just the way I do even though I don’t know how I’m talking to them anymore, it’s not even normal phone calls now, is it? I haven’t heard from Kitty in weeks and it’s scaring the life out of me and I’m worried about bringing it up to Anna because she has so much on her mind already and she’s still mad I went to investigate the Scarcemongers and still still mad that I’m dating Oliver. I have set the toaster on fire three times this week and every time I sleep with my boyfriend all the furniture hovers and neither of us know what to say about it so we just don’t say anything and I think he’s going to ask me to take his deal but I don’t want to do that because it means he’ll ask me to let him die and I can’t let that happen because I need him.
[SAM BREATHES HEAVILY]
SAM: Yes I do feel better actually, but there’s no need to be so smug about it.
SAM: I know you were right, but what am I supposed to do with that information? Apparently, if I don’t voice my thoughts and feelings about everything that’s stressing me out, even if I do slip in a little bit of detail here and there because I can’t help it then I feel terrible like I’m coming down with some awful flu thing and— oh, ‘I speak and will be heard’? That’s what you meant? I have to speak and be heard, is that it?
SAM: Amongst other things!?! Real helpful, Revel.
SAM: You know, I get the impression the Man in the Flat Cap can like, tell his Major Arcana what to do, but you just ignore me and boss me around. Typical cat, I guess.
Yeah, yeah, I love you too, you great fuzzy lump.
SAM: Now what?
I’ve run out of the letters backlog. Nothing too interesting has been happening on the forums, really. It’s all be fairly quiet, except for the constant chatter about possible links into the Scarcemongers, reports of people disappearing, that kind of thing. I don’t know. I’m grateful for your help, listeners, I really do appreciate it. What am I doing here, really?
Madame Marie spent so long trying to keep me away from all this but the day I went down to the studio after she disappeared, everything was labelled. Was she protecting me, or setting me up to inherit his throne? And the prophecy. The one Rhytidia told me about. I can defeat the One Who Walks Here and There. Defeat him how? Because so far, I don’t know. I’m a mess. I have no handle on any of the weird things I can do, I don’t understand how any of this works, and I don’t even know what it means to be Heir Apparent. Maybe the Scarcemongers are right, too, and I’m not the only one. Maybe there are others. Maybe all the Impossible Children are Heir Apparents. What would that mean? Oliver seemed pretty infuriated by that idea, but he can’t tell me any more because of the stupid taboos.
And where in hells is Scourge? I couldn’t get rid of him before and now I actually want them to show up they’re nowhere to be found. I’ve tried everything I can think of, and nothing has worked. Why? Why is he ignoring me all of a sudden? What was it before that made them come which I’m not doing now?
SAM: Huh. You know. I think you might be right, I… let me think. When did he actually show up? There was that message, on the Recording Machine, they said something like ‘glad we found you’, remember? We. When was the next time after that?
SAM: Oh, yeah! He scared Rhytidia, I remember that. They also scared off Oliver, too. And then what happened? Oh gods, they manifested in the studio. That was the first time I saw them. And then I met them again in the Impossible House, but in that weird part of it, the room with me as a baby and Madame Marie. They named me. And the last time I heard from them they told me ‘not quite yet’, whatever that means, but it’s not worlds away from what the Man in the Flat Cap said on the phone after the Impossible House collapsed, is it? Not yet.
What is it about all those times? Why then? What does it mean?
SAM: Oh… you’re right. Oh my gods. Apart from the message left on the machine, I was asking questions. Rhytidia and Oliver had been helping me figure things out and then he scared them off. I was working stuff out for myself and they showed up right in the studio and as good as told me to stop. And they always said ‘wrong question’. That’s it. Oh. Oh gods. They’ve been keeping me on track. They’ve been dictating what I learn and when I learn it so—
So if I’ve not heard from them.
That means everything is going to plan.
Oh gods. Oh bathsheba.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope I’m completely totally wrong.
[SAM TAKES A DEEP, STEADYING BREATH]
I just wish I knew what the plan was and who was in on it. Scourge? Madame Marie? Whose side are they on?
SAM: You’re right. Maybe it’s not about sides. But—
SAM: Yeah. I suppose it’s about the circumstances we’re in not what we choose that’s binding us, here. Like, how much control did Madame Marie really have, once she’d made her deal? And looking at what I know… she must have been like seventeen when that deal was struck. She was basically a kid, still. And she was under so much pressure, trying to run her grandmother’s shop even though she couldn’t do any witchcraft herself. She made a bad choice, but who was there to help her make a better one? Rhytidia? She’s great and everything but I don’t know how much help she actually is with these things. She’s certainly been no help for me. None at all whatsoever.
But what agency do I have, you know? So often, I feel like I just sort of know things, and I don’t know why or how it happens, it just does. Like. In theory this is good, right? Just acquiring information like that should be cool and neat but really, I don’t know. It’s weird. I don’t like it. And I hate how often it seems to be right, but just as often there’s no way for me to know. I trust my gut with it mostly, you know. I follow the vibes. That’s what arcanism is about, isn’t it? But am I an arcanist? Do I want to be? I don’t know. And if there is some kind of master plan then how can I trust that these things that just pop into my head are true at all? How much of it is instinct, how much of it is put there deliberately for me to find?
And if any of it is put there, right into my head, then how can I ever know what’s me and what’s them?
Like, the other day, I had the strangest dream. I dreamed I was in our house, the burnt husk sitting at the top of the garden. It wasn’t burned, in the dream. It was strange. It looked like our house but at the same time it didn’t. Everything was too… smooth. Too clean. White light poured in through the windows but I couldn’t see anything outside. Nothing at all. There was nobody else there. It felt like they’d been there just a moment ago, like any minute they might come back, only I knew, somehow, that they wouldn’t. They were gone. Gone in some way I couldn’t imagine.
In all honesty, I think I have lived my whole life surrounded by ghosts, even when I didn’t know it, but walking around that house there was nothing. No presence, no echoes of life. Everything was gone and it was just me, and I was alone, properly, in a way I’d never been alone before. I don’t know. It was so strange, because I’ve heard people talk about being haunted as a kind of fear, but I’d never understood what they’d meant until I was standing in that empty house, empty in this vast and unresolvable way, that I finally felt it. Haunted. And it wasn’t because I felt something. It was because I felt nothing. I was reaching out to take something’s hand and there was nothing there for me to grasp. It was just me, there. The sound of my breaths were so massive in that space that each one was as loud as ocean waves against a cliff, deafening, ripping through the pressing silence, and then I realised.
I could not feel my heart in my chest. There was only the crash, crash, crash of my breaths, and nothing.
And then I woke up in Kitty’s shed, and Revel was squished in between Oliver and I, and I was warm and safe, and when I reached out I could feel Oliver’s pulse in his throat and I could feel my own heart hammering in my chest, and Revel’s nose was whistling as he slept so deeply. I moved in the bed, and I heard paper rustling, and I found, under my own cheek, a drawing of the white door. And I realised it had been weeks, months, even, since I had drawn it last. There was no pencil in the bed, no smudge of graphite on my hand, nothing to suggest I had drawn it, but I must have, and it was so strange to realised that it had been so, so long since that had happened. I folded the paper up and put it under the pillow. I managed to get back to sleep after, and I didn’t dream anything else, but even in the morning when we all got up properly it was like that dream was clinging to me. The emptiness of it. The nothingness. Even wrapped in blankets with several cats and the man I love it was like I couldn’t shake it, and even now, I…
The house. It was just a dream. I keep telling myself over and over, it was just a dream. But the folded up drawing was still there under my pillow. I waited until Oliver went back to the Karpos before I looked at it properly – he has a bunch of weddings coming up and there’s loads for him to do, and I’m more of a hinderance when I’m there at times like this, because apparently flowers wilt faster when I’m nearby? But it’s whatever.
I sat down on the bed and I took the drawing out, and then, I could see it. It wasn’t there on the page, per se, but at the same time, it was; a sigil. I could see it like gleaming threads. Like the arcane connections between things you can see when you look through the seeing glass, except, I could just see them, if only for a moment, like it was because I was holding the page a certain way or something, only no matter how I turned or held it in the light, I couldn’t see it again.
It connected the points of the door; each corner, the handle…
It was a sigil. And I knew, when I looked at it, that it was mine.
I don’t know what that means.
I think I’m going to go to bed, Faithful Listeners. Goodnight.