SBR 2.33: Dare

Click for Content Warnings

Background sounds and music
Stereo audio (audio will sound different in right and left speakers/headphones)
Static
Mentions of death and dying
Sounds of panic; hyperventilating

Transcript

Seven for the devil, his own self, six for hell, five for heaven, four for birth, three for a funeral, two for mirth. One for sorrow. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.

[INTRO MUSIC]

Hello, Faithful Listeners.

So many of you have been so helpful this last week, helping me piece things together on the forums. It seems like you’ve been more fastidious than I have about making documents of what’s been happening with me on and around the show. Someone has even put together a full timeline of everything that’s gone wrong, everything that’s changed. It’s interesting to see it all laid out in such stark terms, no room for wiggling, just presented for what it is, as it is.

Like here, the day I was born, then a load of question marks for seven years. I made ghosts, I was taken places by Madame Marie to do things, I was locked in my room, all question marks because we don’t know how often or when. Then a house was collapsed on top of me by my mother when I was seven, and then somehow the radio show, the forums, the house…

Putting it all in such plain terms makes me realise how much has happened, and how little I actually know about any of it. I don’t know. Lingering on it all isn’t helping, is it?

Fortunately, Faithful listeners, I have found an Augury Forecast for you this week! I found this one between the cushions on Anna’s sofa. I’ll share it with you now.

The bees linger at the edge of the meadow. Take care in making long term commitments in the next few months.

A swallow dipped but did not dive above the local pond; remember to take your shopping list when you go to the grocery store.

If your name ends with ‘y’, you do not have time to take that on. Say no.

A crow hopped backwards along the garden fence; it is time to change the oil in your car.

If you are a gemini and you’re thinking of going to Newport, don’t.

So concludes the Augury Forecast. I wonder if I’ll ever find out where these come from. Ah well.

Besides the posting of the timeline, things on the forums have been pretty lively this week. I love seeing everyone come together to help each other. It’s really incredible vibes, honestly.

There have been some issues with the tagging system which appeared on the forums a few weeks ago. The tags are assigned automatically; nobody gets a say in where their posts are being filed. It’s been interesting because people have been posting what they think are personal queries, which have then been sorted by the system into ‘hauntings’. People asking for advice about improving their spiritual practice have found their messages being sorted into ‘forums specific’ or ‘healing’. It’s not that the tags are wrong, necessarily, it’s that they’re weird, like the definitions the system is using are different to the ones people making the posts would use. On the one hand, it’s helpful to have consistency, on the other, it’s frustrating because people are wanting to reach out to particular groups of other forum users and finding the system is preventing them from doing that purely because of the automatic tags being placed on their posts.

It wouldn’t be so bad if we could work out where the system is coming from and how it’s making these decisions. It is hard to understand how it’s functioning without any knowledge about where it’s coming from, you know?

Definitions. They really shape how we understand stuff. Like the term ‘Heir Apparent’, for example. Indi, the others, they think that the Heir Apparent is this one singular thing, that it’s chosen. Maria was going on about having a ‘patron’, that Scarcity was acting almost like a– a guardian angel or something to her. She said Scourge was my patron but he’s not a patron he’s a pain in the arse. He interrupts me. And she didn’t seem to know anything about what the Heir Apparent is for, not beyond what she’s been told by the Scarcemongers. For her, the whole ‘position’ of Heir Apparent is tied up in the end of the world, rebirth thing, but when I mentioned taking over, inheriting something, which is always what it’s sounded like to me she sounded–

she sounded like she didn’t really know what I was talking about.

Like an Arcanist.

Oh, gods. It’s. We’re like Karl’s parents, with the information we needed just down the corridor, we know different parts of the same puzzle, but we’re not speaking to each other.

[SAM SIGHS]

I need to speak with her. I need to find out everything she knows, or thinks she knows, I need to work out what–

Oliver.

That’s it. That’s why I was supposed to take his deal.

So he could break all the taboos. Isn’t that what he was begging me to do!? Take his deal so he could tell me everything he knows!?

Ingra was right, I’m not omniscient, and Oliver is an agent of the Man in the Flat Cap, but he’s not just meant to be feeding him information, he was supposed to feed information to me. And after I didn’t, after I took the Sins instead, refused to take Oliver along with them, Scourge killed Kitty and then when I still wouldn’t take Oliver’s deal. They showed up and told me how he was made a Major Arcana in the first place, which means. It means. That the reason Oliver was made is important.

Why? Because of Jack? Because he was trying to avenge someone? What’s important about that?

Come on Sam, you foolish boy, you can do this, you can think this one out.

Why did– What else did Scourge tell me? What else did they say? Think, think.

They said that what they told me was the price in itself. There’s always a price, always a bargain, but that time, the knowledge itself was enough to pay for hearing about it. How? Why? It was a sad story, I– I don’t like hearing how much he hurt, how lost he was, how desperate, it was awful, it was. But bad enough to pay for itself, somehow? I don’t understand.

But he didn’t just tell me the story of how Oliver was changed, did he? He also talked to me about after. That prophecy.

a man will die and come back to life, and in that man’s heart is the doom of the world, and when he falls, the first stone in the path of the end will be laid’

Jay, poor Jay, they had that in their notebook as a prophecy about me. But the way Scourge told it, the man in the prophecy was Oliver, it was made to that woman hundreds of years ago, hundreds of years before I was even conceived, and she’s long dead now, so how is it about me?

The first stone in the path will be laid.

Scarcity was talking about that, too, and Maria, about walking this path which is already laid. Like whatever we do, whatever we choose, the outcome is already determined. When I looked at the arcane, when I found the thing that I’m pretty sure is the redistribution, that looked like that, too. Like there were hundreds of threads that might lead towards it, but which ever were chosen, we’d always get there. Like the choices we make mean nothing from here, because the decisions that led to the outcome we’ll reach were already set out long ago.

In Oliver’s heart is the doom of the world. His card, in the True Arcanist Tarot, it’s a heart wreathed in chains. This thing, the prophecy, it’s all a part of who he is, who he was designed to be. And when he falls? Like, when he dies? He’s a Major Arcana, right? So he can’t die.

Not unless the Man in the Flat Cap lets him.

Or. I take his deal. And I let him.

Which I’m not going to do.

But. But the first stone is already laid, according to everyone else, so it can’t be that, surely.

The other thing on Oliver’s card are the chains, of course. Right through the aorta and wrapped all around. I thought that was the more obvious part, you know. He’s trapped here, stuck forever. He never meant to be what he is. And all that stuff, about how he’s different to the other Major Arcana. How he feels things more, how he’s remained more human, like he’s chained right up to–

To his feelings? To his heart. To his love, turned bad and rotten by everything that happened.

The man in the Flat Cap sent him to watch over Madame Marie, not the others, even though he was disobedient, even though he wouldn’t do his job without Strife sticking his hands right into his soul and forcing him to do it. Maybe that’s why, maybe that’s the reason, maybe it’s because he wasn’t good for anything else anymore or maybe.

Maybe.

It’s because of me.

Would I have gone to him, had he not been the person Madame Marie had been turning to for all of that advice? If he hadn’t sent those stupid flowers when she first disappeared? If Rhytidia hadn’t sent me to him, specifically because she knew him from Madame Marie’s grandmother’s shop?

I remember when I first walked into his shop and I saw him, I felt like somehow I already knew him, and he looked at me, and I could tell that he was thinking the same thing, and he’s told me before, he’s said, that moment, he looked at me and he said he felt like I could see him for more than he was. And it was all so easy, it all fit so perfectly into place, the way he spoke, the way we laughed, the way he– just lowkey died on the floor right in front of me and popped back to life.

In his heart is the doom of the world. And what does the Heir Apparent do, apparently? End the fucking world. When he falls, the first stone is laid.

When he falls for me.

[DISTANTLY, A DOG BARKS]

This knowledge is the price for itself.

It was all by design.

Does that mean I’m ‘chosen’, then? That’s what makes an heir apparent different from just an heir, apparently. They’re selected, whether by heritage of committee, they’re specifically singled out as the one to inherit the throne or the power or whatever. And there’s definitely something different about me, about the way I operate. Something off in the mechanics of it all that makes me distinct, even from Maria Gillespie.

[A DOOR OPENS]

RHYTIDIA: Anastasia! You here? I brought you some new mud!

SAM: Rhytidia?

[DOOR OPENS]

RHYTIDIA: Oh, it’s just you.

SAM: Yeah, sorry, Anna’s not here, she’s— I don’t actually know. She said she’d be back in the morning.

RHYTIDIA: Hmm. Maybe she’s finally taken my advice and gone to sit out in the dirt and the moonlight.

SAM: Oh, that’s… nice.

RHYTIDIA: You wouldn’t understand. Connectivity has never been your problem. Your issue is listening.

SAM: What do you mean?

RHYTIDIA: You’re aware of other people and things, alright, but you fail to take into account what they’re telling you about that connection.

SAM: I don’t know what you mean.

RHYTIDIA: Not surprising. That’s another one of your problems.

SAM: Hmm. So what’s Anna’s problem?

RHYTIDIA: Ah, that’s much more straight forward. She listens too hard. She can’t hear the song for the bubbles.

SAM: Oh. Uh. Sure.

RHYTIDIA: Ugh, You see? Terrible.

SAM: Uhuh. You can just leave Anna’s mud in the kitchen.

RHYTIDIA: Alright. What’s with all the uh, whoosamajigs? The electronics?

SAM: It’s the show.

RHYTIDIA: You’re still airing that thing even though it increased the amount of nasty things out for your blood by tenfold?

SAM: I know.

RHYTIDIA: You’re so like your mother.

SAM: Ouch.

[RHYTIDIA SCOFFS]

RHYTIDIA: Mm. She wasn’t all bad, kid.

SAM: I know.

RHYTIDIA: Way she was with you was baffling but—

SAM: I KNOW.

RHYTIDIA: Alright, alright! Jeez! Don’t get your twigs twisted. You’ve got too much juice to let it spill over so easy.

SAM: Uh. What?

RHYTIDIA: I said before your arcane ability was something like singing, this manipulating of the arcane. But it was a bad analogy.

SAM: What is it with you and Oliver and your concern for the quality of your metaphors?

RHYTIDIA: Analogies. There is a difference!

SAM: So what’s wrong with the singing analogy, then?

RHYTIDIA: A better analogy is that it’s like playing a musical instrument, say, um, a piano. Almost anyone can sit at a piano and get it to make a noise. But not many people can do it well.

SAM: That’s exactly like the singing analogy except now there’s a piano in it.

RHYTIDIA: No, no, I’m not done yet.

SAM: I swear, if you start talking about the song of the mud—

RHYTIDIA: You’ll what, command me into silence? No? Well. Command yourself to shut up and listen. So almost anyone can get a piano to make noise. Only a few people can make it sound good, and it takes practice and care. Some people, they can read music and use that—

SAM: Like witches and arcanists, using spells!

RHYTIDIA: In some cases yes. In other cases, they can play from memory.

SAM: Right.

RHYTIDIA: Some people can improvise, and make beautiful music without planning beforehand. Some can play jazz. Some can even compose. Some of them can even lead an orchestra.

SAM: What’s this got to do with anything?

RHYTIDIA: I don’t think you’re even playing the piano.

SAM: What?

RHYTIDIA: I think you’re tuning it by ear.

SAM: I– you’ve lost me.

RHYTIDIA: Well, that’s your own fault. It’s an excellent analogy.

SAM: Rhytidia! Explain yourself.

RHYTIDIA: You’re not practising the Arcane Arts or channeling arcane energy, you’re manipulating the energy itself.

SAM: [WITH WONDER] Like changing the frequency of a wave instead of just receiving or sending it out!

RHYTIDIA: What?

SAM: You’re a genius.

RHYTIDIA: I’d be flattered, but the amount of times I’ve heard you call that sooty hairball of yours a genius does dampen the compliment a little.

SAM: [SPLUTTERS] Revel— he’s not– he’s a very smart cat!

RHYTIDIA: Hey, whatever, kid. Whatever bubbles your bog. I’ll leave Anastasia’s mud in the kitchen. Try not to burn the house down, now!

SAM: I’ll try?

RHYTIDIA: Attaboy.

[DOOR CLOSES]

Maybe that’s what it is, what makes me different. Witches and arcanists, they’re channeling the arcane to do things by themselves but me, I’m taking it in my hands and pulling it, tying it. Which. Hmm. Maybe I’m more like Scourge, Strife and Scarcity than I thought.

Except I can’t be, because I was born. I have a mother, and she was a human being. A weird one, one who was more powerful than she should have been, who made bad choices, to put it mildly, but she was a human person who carried me like any human baby is carried. It just so happened that my father was the Man in the Flat Cap.

Wait.

I can’t remember when I learned that.

When did I… when did I learn that.

[SAM HYPERVENTILATES]

I just. I just came to know it. Faithful Listeners, when did you know that he was my father? At what point? When did we all accept this at fact, I don’t think I was ever told I think I just knew, somehow, didn’t you, didn’t we? Why did we–

[BACK DOOR OPENS]

ANNA: Sam? What are you still doing up?

SAM: It’s witching hour.

ANNA: Oh, of course. I’m sorry, the days have been blurring into one a bit.

SAM: It’s alright. Are you okay?

ANNA: Yes, fine. I’ve been down to the stream. It’s easier to listen to mud in the dark.

SAM: Huh. Oh, Rhytidia dropped you off some more jars.

ANNA: Oh! Wonderful. I’ll sort through them tomorrow.

SAM: What have you even been doing with her, anyway?

ANNA: Oh, you know. Learning.

SAM: Learning what?

ANNA: About what’s going on. Rhytidia’s mud songs, they’re sort of… well, they aren’t the same as the way things look through that funny telescope of yours, but it’s similar.

SAM: Really?

ANNA: Sort of, yes. Are you alright?

SAM: What? Yeah, I just.

[SAM TAKES A DEEP BREATH]

SAM: You know.

ANNA: You’ve had a lot to process, recently.

SAM: Yeah.

ANNA: Look. Why don’t you stop broadcasting and come and sit with me for a bit before we go to bed. I can tell you all the insults Rhytidia came up with for me today.

SAM: Better than ‘concrete cretin’?

ANNA: Try ‘soup-brained suburbanite’.

SAM: Ha. That is pretty good.

ANNA: You don’t need to stop if you don’t want to.

SAM: I– no. I should sign off for the night, probably. I do love the way I feel when I broadcast but it can get a little much, you know, after a while.

ANNA: I can imagine.

SAM: Everything feels so much more now I am starting to understand.

ANNA: Yes. Things are like that sometimes. But understanding is good. It can remind you you’re not alone in this world, even though it feels like it sometimes.

SAM: I know I’m not alone.

ANNA: Yes, but knowing it and feeling it are different.

SAM: I guess.

ANNA: You really aren’t alone, Sam.

SAM: Yeah. Okay. I’m going to sign off, Faithful Listeners. I’ll speak to you next week.

[END]