SBR 2.32: Notwithstanding

Click for Content Warnings

Background sounds and music
Stereo audio (audio will sound different in right and left speakers/headphones)
Mentions of death and dying
Mentions of cannibalism
Mentions of high control groups/cults
References to magical manipulation and the removal of free will


In my experience, safe is often just as sorry as downright reckless. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.


Hello, Faithful Listeners! How’re things?

Things here have been. Well. Complicated. So I know when the Redistribution is happening, and I have a pretty good idea of what it’s going to be. The Scarcemongers are going to eat Maria Gillespie. But what that means, I don’t really know. I mean, obviously they’re going to kill her and turn her into people soup, that’s what Arlo explained to me; they seem quite fastidious about it. But as to what happens after, it’s all a bit fuzzy.

Speaking to Maria and Scarcity last week didn’t do much to clear things up. I have a better idea about how it’s all going to go down, I guess, emotionally? But that’s not really helpful in terms of like, how I would begin to go about stopping them. Bliss has passed on a couple of reports about Arlo, nothing substantial. Apparently they’ve been allowed to reintegrate a bit more since I met up with Arlo, and that feels like a good sign, like maybe it means they aren’t suspicious, which is good, because at least Arlo’s not going to get eaten, too. Unless they get their name pulled out of the hat and then it’s their turn to be the sacrament.

Bliss says they have a sacrament at least once every week. I don’t know how long they’ve been doing this. I don’t want to think about how many people they’ve already killed, after luring them in, promising them comfort…

It’s hard to know how to move forward. Just showing up and telling them to stop isn’t going to do anything, and Bliss says there’s around forty of them living in their little hideout under the Guild Hall in York, so that’s way too many for me to like. I don’t know. What am I even suggesting here, going in and like, fighting them? I can’t fight.

I spoke to Anna about it, and she suggested I just command them not to do it. But the problem is the way it works, the Speak and Will be Heard, thing, is kind of hazy at the edges. I have to be careful about how I phrase things. I can’t think of a way to command them to stop that doesn’t leave any loopholes, and there’s no guarantee that when I speak it’ll work. I know I can sort of handle it better now, and I’m able to see the Arcane on purpose more easily every day that I practise, but the fact remains that the Arcane is the Arcane, and its workings are mysterious and unfathomable. I could try to stop them by commanding them and accidentally trigger something weird, like I did when I ran that group séance to try and speak to Madame Marie.

And like what I did when I trapped Oliver in his shop.

The potential for stuff to go wrong just feels so… monumental. Say the wrong thing, I could be condemning these people into, I don’t know, whatever! And I don’t know how I made the forum ghosts. There’s a chance, there’s always a chance, that if I try too hard to make them do what I say I will wind up making them… mine, somehow. And they do not need that. Who does? Nobody.

To me, right, what I think it is, is this. They’re going to eat Maria Gillespie. They think that what will happen next is the end of the world. Right? And Maria, she seemed to be suggesting there would be an after that. Which is intriguing, isn’t it, given what we know about the Man in the Flat Cap’s plan. He wants to be subsumed by something, to, uh. Move on or whatever. I don’t know what that looks like for him, but the Sins were convinced that for them, it looks like the end of their deals. Going by what the Scarcemongers preach, it could be the end of everything.

Ingra, they say the Man in the Flat cap isn’t omniscient. Their logic on that was that because I’m not omniscient, he isn’t either, so that’s arguably faulty, right? But let’s assume for now that it’s true. So he’s tied up in everything, somehow, in such a way that he could make the world end by leaving. Or, I don’t know. The world ending is the only way he can leave.

But what does that mean? The end of the world could be a lot of things. I’ve missed out on a lot of stuff movie and TV wise but I’ve had a lot of alone time recently and I’ve been trying to catch up, and it seems to me that the end of the world could be an explosion or a hoard of zombies or just about anything. And people bring it up flippantly all the time, too. ‘It’s not the end of the world’, well then, what is?

Sometimes I feel like it’s already ended, you know. Like it’s all over. I’m being pathetic about it all I know but I never claimed I was any good at coping with this stuff, it just sort of happens to me, and now I can’t get to sleep properly in a bed on my own, I got so used to Oliver being there, and now he’s not, and tell me how that’s not apocalyptic because it certainly feels it at five in the morning when I’m staring at the ceiling and wondering if he’s doing the same.

Gods, I’m being so melodramatic about this, aren’t I? And I don’t even have Revel to snap me out of it. I don’t even have Oliver to be even more melodramatic by contrast and set me to rights in my head, you know?

Oh none of it matters, none of it matters! It’s all small and pointless and stupid compared to everything else. Kitty will call and tell me about conspiracies she and Indi have uncovered and I’m just sitting here, but practically, what else can I do?

No, honestly, really, tell me!

Heir Apparent this, Ghost Maker that. What does any of it mean?

And that’s the point, isn’t it, the real point of it all is that it could just as well mean nothing at all as anything, because half the people who know anything about any of it are Arcanists, and every day that goes by I get more and more sympathetic with Rhytidia bloody Delphus and her hatred of the bastards. It all seemed so interesting and mysterious but the closer I look, the more I see it’s all mystery and no interest at all like everyone is sat alone in their rooms whispering to themselves about–



Sorry, I’m just.

I suck. Sorry. This isn’t fair of me. I’m taking this out on you and it’s not your fault. I’m not sat alone in this room, not really, not when you’re listening to me. I need to remember that. It’s important. Because you’re my faithful listeners, and I’m responsible for that, aren’t I? You’re here to listen to me. And I need to make sure I’m doing my best to– to. To tell you things. To speak about things, if I’m going to be heard.

This show. It’s a part of me, really, right? That’s what being the host of it means. I don’t even need a microphone to broadcast, I don’t need anything, I just need to speak, at this time, in this way. I address you and you hear me, you tune in, you– you. You hear me.

That’s important, isn’t it?

I have to believe that it is.

Gods, Anna would give me a right talking to if she could hear me now.

She’s been spending a lot of time with Rhytidia. It’s a bit weird, I think, but you know, if it helps. Sitting in a bog all day seems to be helping her sort through all of her Guy issues, and whatever she needs to do to get through all of that, I say let her do it. But it has led to her making some pretty weird observations about things. Like she started talking about how there seem to be trip wires for a lot of things I do, like the Man in the Flat Cap has rigged the system to collapse when I do or say certain things.

That in itself is a pretty useful observation, like, but I don’t like the thought of Anna and Rhytidia holed up talking about the mechanics of my… well. My me. I can’t put my finger on what it is about it that gives me such heebeegeebees but, it is what it is, I guess.

She’s out at Rhytidia’s now, actually.

I’ve taken the opportunity whilst Anna’s out of the house to sort through the few boxes of stuff that were brought here after Kitty’s shed got, ah, wrecked, after I brought Kitty back. All of the useful stuff like my candles and herbs and all of my clothes are at Oliver’s, but there’s been a few things in here that I didn’t realise they’d saved. My whole collection of Augury Forecasts, for example, and all the letters from Faithful Listeners I’ve saved from since I started hosting the show.


Yeah, and here’s my box of crystals, and. What’s this? Something wrapped up in a t-shirt.

OH! Recording Machine!



SAM: Hello? Are you awake? Can you hear me, Recording Machine?

RECORDING MACHINE: Cough cough. I am full of dust. It is disgusting. How long has it been since we spoke?

SAM: I don’t know. A few months, I think? I’m sorry.

RECORDING MACHINE: Talk about insensitive. You can’t just happen someone into semi-sentience and then abandon them. It’s very inconsiderate.

SAM: I’m sorry. Oh, I know. How about I just, um.


RECORDING MACHINE: Ah! Relief at last. Dirt, bits of ash, and do you know how long that crumb has been lodged in there?

SAM: Glad I could help.

RECORDING MACHINE: I suppose I could get to forgiving you. Maybe. After a long enough period of grudge holding.

SAM: I thought you were connected to the forums? Why didn’t you say something?

RECORDING MACHINE: I don’t know, it never occurred to me.

SAM: Don’t you think it should have.

RECORDING MACHINE: That sounds like victim blaming to me, heir apparent.


SAM: DO NOT call me that.

RECORDING MACHINE: Yikes. Raw nerve, much?

SAM: Just don’t. Alright?

RECORDING MACHINE: Understood. [PAUSE] You know how some people bake to feel better? I think doing things for your listeners is like that for you.

SAM: Like baking?

RECORDING MACHINE: Yes. It is something you can do, and then it’s finished.

SAM: Okay. You want me to distract myself?

RECORDING MACHINE: So much of what you’re dealing with is big and scary and complicated. Maybe it will help to take on something smaller, just for today.

SAM: Alright. How about I read this letter? It’s not very cheerful or anything but it’s something I guess.

Dear Sam,

I hope this letter finds its way to you, as I’m not sure how often they collect the post where I live. Maybe it hasn’t, and this is just sitting in the middle of the countryside getting damp. I’ve been listening to the show for ages, but just never had any reason to interact with the forums or write in, but I knew I had to write to you right away.

I recently bought my first house at the youthful age of thirty seven in the very middlest middle of nowhere. My nearest town is a forty-five minute bus ride away, and it doesn’t run on weekends either. But I like the isolation, the quiet. I work as an illustrator, so it suits me to have plenty of natural inspiration around me. I live with my cat Biscuit, who’s an indoor cat terrified by the prospect of the outdoors, much like me, and we live very happily.

I invested in a house I could do up, as I like having projects to work on, and this one suited me down to the ground. It’s an old Stuart farm cottage, with a barn attached, and it’s gorgeous. I recently renovated a room to make into my home studio; it’s got loads of light, and plenty of space for me to put my half-finished paintings on.

Anyway, I’m running away with myself. I’m not really writing to you to tell you my life story, as it’s very dull. I’m writing to you because of something that happened to me a few weeks ago.

It all started when I… kept getting my feet scratched at night. They started appearing in tiny little nicks on my toes at first, I didn’t even notice them until I was putting my socks on the next morning. This carried on for a couple of weeks, and then they started getting bigger.

That’s when I started waking up in the middle of the night. Not completely at first, you know that sort of half-doze you sometimes wake up into when someone shouts outside, and you’re sort of awake enough to hear it, but not enough to do something about it? All I really caught was the tail end of the moment, the last little drab of that sting. That was the case for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t every night, but it was frequently enough that I was feeling groggy. Then, because of that I suppose, I started waking up properly. I was starting to feel more of the scratch now, catching it in the second half, almost. Like switching on the telly at 12 minutes past the hour and watching the rest of what’s on.

I’d peer into that darkness, and try and see what had woken me. I never spotted anything, except once. I saw this little pair of eyes shining in the dark, and it really freaked me out. I felt this horrible cold shiver creeping down my spine and, horrifyingly, I was paralysed. No flight or fight, nothing, just freeze.

That was, of course, until I heard Biscuit’s very loud purring.

And then I started to put together the clues. It must have been Biscuit. My guess was confirmed when I caught him in the act of reaching up to nab my feet one morning. God love the little bugger, he’d scratch my feet if I let my bare feet get too close to the end of the duvet and that was what was waking me up. Mystery solved, right?

I started putting on socks and tucking the duvet under my feet before I fell asleep. A little overkill, maybe, but in a house with only electric heating, it keeps me warmer which is always a blessing. I was sleeping again, getting good nights so my work wasn’t quite as affected by the bleary eyes scratching at me when I’d do my pages.

This was like this right up until a few weeks ago. It was getting warmer, so I got rid of the socks, and just kept to the tuck and pray method. I’d gone ages without incident, so I thought it’d be alright. I went to bed listening to a nice man with a very boring voice talking about carpentry on Youtube, which is my secret charm to both getting to sleep more easily and learning about how to fix up my house all in one fell sleep, and with my dehumidifier on. All in all, immensely peaceful and I was sleeping like a stone before that nice man could tell me all about how to bend wood using temperature.

I was awakened by a sharp scratch, much in the same way I had been many times before, only this time was different. Rather than getting the end of it, or just the back half, I felt the whole thing, The long scratch of a claw over my foot.

I was especially shocked because I was certain I’d tucked my feet under, but in the warmth, I must have kicked it off. I swore bloody murder as I looked at the little eyes peeking up at me in the dark. It had really hurt. It was then I heard the fabric of my duvet shifting beside me. I turned to look and there he was staring up at me: Biscuit. His little ears were back, and his tail was puffed up like a feather duster.

I turned back to where I’d seen the eyes before, and they were still there. Little silver pools reflected in the pitch black darkness. But they weren’t the eyes of an animal, simply staring at something that has its attention. Its gaze held intelligence, curiosity; it looked at me as I imagine we look at squirrels in the garden, with the passive gaze of an amused observer.

I blinked and it was gone.

I leaned over and turned on the light, and there was absolutely nothing there. All except for the long, bleeding scratch on the top of my foot. I spent the whole night awake with all the lights on in my house. I wandered from room to room, trying to see where the culprit might be hiding, but I found nothing. I even managed to work up the nerve to look under my bed and check there. Not a sausage.

Ever since, I’ve had a really hard time getting a proper night’s sleep. I keep having dreams of those little silvery eyes staring at me in the dark, the feeling of that scratching all over me. I’m really distressed at the thought that something may be living in my house with me, and I just want to be able to sleep properly again.

Can you recommend any ways of getting rid of spirits like these, or should I be looking at estate agents and boxes for packing?

Your sleepless friend, Agatha, She/They

Agatha’s also slipped in a little watercolour. Two silvery eyes peer out from murky darkness. Hmm. Well, Agatha, I’m not sure what to advise, really. Unless you’re feeling really bad vibes, I wouldn’t assume whatever is lurking in your home is malevolent. If it were me, I’d try speaking to it. You can try to do that a few ways. You can use a Spirit Box, for starters! You can try to use the spirit box services broadcast here but like, I’m not sure how useful that’s going to be for you. It’s become increasingly unreliable as a communication tool ever since I took over the show, and even when it’s not chanting things at people, it seems to be far more productive than it should be. I’d try hopping on the forums and speaking with other Faithful Listeners about it, see if that gets you anywhere with things. The forum users have a better grasp of what’s going on with the spirit box services than me, to be honest.

I know what it’s like to feel watched. To feel like every step you take is haunted by something you don’t understand. Just remember that you’re still your own, and try not to let it dominate your life. And don’t worry too much about it because you’ve got a cat nearby, and they’re always very helpful with these sorts of things, in my experience. You could even ask them what their opinion on it all is! Just make sure you’re really paying attention when they answer.

RECORDING MACHINE: Do you feel any better now you’ve tried to help someone?

SAM: Yeah, I guess I do. Sort of.

RECORDING MACHINE: You should take your own advice you know.

SAM: About what?

RECORDING MACHINE: Not letting that sense you’re being watched at every turn take over your life.

SAM: Okay. I guess I’ll try.

RECORDING MACHINE: I humbly suggest your first act on this should be taking a bath.

SAM: Why, do I smell?

RECORDING MACHINE: No, but you’re so tense it’s coming off you in waves.

SAM: Okay. That’s not a bad idea. Anna has a little basket of bath bombs, I’m sure she won’t mind if I use one of them.

Right then, Faithful Listeners. I’m going to go and try to chill out for a bit. I hope you have a beautiful next few days, and I’ll speak to you next week.