Click to Reveal Content Warnings
- Background sounds and music
- Panning effects (sounds will be different in right and left headphones)
- Vocal effects including echo and reverb (used sparingly)
- Mentions of police presence at a high school (fleeting)
- Discussions of death and dying, from the perspective of deceased characters (no visceral descriptions, only conceptual discussions)
It’s a funny place, this rock we call home, with all its in-betweens and inconsistencies. It is easy to think the ground, which feels so solid under our feet, is stable and constant. In fact it is soaring through the universe at paces our tiny minds can’t even conceive of. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.
Hello, Faithful Listeners! I hope your New Year is taking a shape you find pleasant and rewarding, and if not, don’t worry, the days are young and there’s plenty of time for things to turn around! Time is pretend anyway and really there’s only now and then tomorrow and what year it is doesn’t really matter too much, so just, try not to worry too much about it.
I’ve heard from Kitty, I know many of you will be relieved to learn! She has been off looking for people who might know Madame Marie, who may know more about whatever happened back when I was a kid. She’s not had much luck yet, but she had had chance to check in on the forums and wade into the discussion of the forums themselves.
Kitty told me she doesn’t remember the forums being set up, and it seems that nobody who uses them does, really. A few veteran users were able to give a pretty conclusive account of it being a website where you could just add questions and list commune achieved using the Spirit Box Services. Quite quickly, it seems, it became more of a message board.
One user, Malarky Shenanigan, seems to have been around since the beginning. They had a lot to say about the early days of the forums. Apparently, people had been writing in to Madame Marie for a few years by that point though they couldn’t precisely remember just how many years, exactly. The original site was as much a way to send a message to be resolved by Madame Marie on air as it was for reporting commune with spirits, apparently, even in those early days. Which I think is pretty interesting. It was about connecting, even in those early days.
But isn’t that what a Spirit Box is, too? Or any kind of attempts to commune with arcane beings? It’s all an attempt to connect. Maybe the things we talk to aren’t quite as alive as we are but what we’re doing is trying to talk to them, isn’t it? I wonder if that has anything to do with why in the early days of Arcanism there wasn’t really much practice of the Arcane Arts amongst Arcanists. It’s too much like connection.
Gods, I’m starting to sound like Rhytidia, aren’t I?
Time to move on, I think.
As we’re on the topic of the forums already, a new thread as opened up this week as submitted by a fairly new user of the forums. Mitsybee223, who seems to go by Mitsy, from the comments on their post. Here’s what they had to say.
Okay so, basically what happened was I was leaving school the other day and I realised I’d left my psych book back inside on the table, and I normally wouldn’t care, because, you know, just a psych book, I’ll get it in the morning or whatever, but we have exams soon and our teacher for some reason thinks that makes right now the best time ever to set us a whole mountain of homework, and I really didn’t want to fall behind because, you know, I want to get into college? So I went back into the building. It was weird because it was super quiet, like way too quiet. I’d come out of class late but not that late. It’s not like I’ve never been in school after it’s finished before, there’s normally at least a few people hanging around, teachers at least, you know? But there was nobody.
I didn’t really have a bad feeling until I got back up to the psych classroom and my teacher wasn’t behind her desk, which is super weird, because she’d been sitting there marking stuff as we were leaving the classroom and it had only been like five minutes. Doors were all open, even though they’d definitely been shut when I left because of the AC.
My book wasn’t on the desk. It was on the floor, open, face down, like someone had dropped it. But I know I’d left it sitting there. If I’d knocked it I’d have remembered it, right? I guess someone else could have knocked it but I was definitely the last one out of the room because my mum text me about dinner and I replied before I finished packing up my stuff, which I know for sure happened because the teacher yelled at me for having my phone out in the classroom, even though class was over so it wasn’t the classroom anymore it was just a room and she has no jurisdiction anymore.
When I was coming out of the classroom with my book, to leave, I saw my psych teacher at the window at the end of the hall with like, five other teachers? They weren’t doing anything, just standing there, staring, so I went to the stairwell because there’s a window there which looks out at the same part of the school grounds, and that’s when I saw it; a massive, burning pentagram in the middle of the track field!
I had planned to get home fast to get a head start on all my homework before dinner, so I could still maybe squeeze in some time to watch TV before bed, but I just stood there, staring at this massive burning pentagram on the ground.
My first instinct was like, ‘oh, I should share this on the Spirit Box Radio forums’, but they were still down at that point, so I didn’t have anywhere to turn, really. I know all the witchy kids in my school. A lot of them are anarchists and a couple of them aren’t shy about how much they like fire, but drawing a giant pentagram into the school grounds like that? I don’t know anyone who could be bothered. There are better targets, more meaningful ways to put pressure on the school that don’t risk you getting billed for damaging property.
A couple of teachers had gone out to the field. They were walking back and for the along the pentagram’s curved edge. Mr Matthews, who teaches Math, he was waving his arms in the air, taking off his glasses and putting them back on again like if he did it enough times he might see something different, but he didn’t.
The fire went out pretty quick, after maybe ten minutes. I figure it was lighter fluid or something and it just burned itself out pretty fast. I put my book in my bag and went home.
The next day they’d put up tape around the pentagram. Some of it was police tape, the yellow ‘do not cross’ type, but most of it was the red and white stripey stuff they use to mark off sections in the hall when the roof leaks after heavy rainfall, like the police didn’t have enough tape to make it the whole way around. The tape was tied to these plastic stakes, almost like tent pegs, which stuck out about a foot from the ground. You could just step over it pretty easy, and you didn’t even need to to reach out and touch the black lines where the fire was. Before my first class I went over and squatted by the tape, like a lot of people were doing. The grass was charred where the fire was, but the roots were alive underneath.
I had psych again before lunch and on the way up I stopped by the window to look at the pentagram burned into the floor. A few other people were there looking too, and then I don’t know. I just sort of thought to myself, man, I wish the forums were working, then I’d be able to ask everyone about this.
I looked at the pentagram again when I left psych, and on my way out of school I went over to the tape and stood there for a few moments, looking over it. There were a few other people there looking, too. One of them asked me if it was me that had done it. I told them no, obviously, and the started going off on one about theories and stuff about who’d have done it, if it was satanists or whatever, and I was about to start explaining that that isn’t really what satanism is about when this cop came over and started just sort of looking at all of us, so we all just kind of had to go home.
I had a bunch of homework to do so it wasn’t until pretty late, way after dinner, that I got to sit and kind of mess around on the internet. And I just thought I’d look at see if the forums had magically come back online and, weirdly, they had!
It was so strange. They’d been up for like a day and a half. Since around about the time this massive burning pentagram appeared on the school field. But we’re in a different continent! Like, how does that even work? I know coincidence is a powerful feature of Arcanism and everything, but, that can’t be a coincidence, right?
I didn’t do it. Of the witchy people at school I know at least one other person who knows about Spirit Box Radio and he was pretty pumped about the forums being back, even though he’s not a very faithful listener or anything.
Anyway, I just wanted to tell everyone about this all and see what you all had to say you know? And Sam, if you read this, maybe you will know if these things are somehow related even though I just can’t see how they possibly could be?
And… that’s the end of Mitsy’s post.
I haven’t really given much thought to what happened to make the forums come back online, actually, I’ve been– I’ve been distracted, I guess. Oliver and Anna would use a different word: ‘obsessed’. It’s extremely annoying that the one thing they can seem to agree on is that I should be leaving this Scourge thing well alone. Anna’s all ‘how do you even know Scourge is his name’ and like, ‘I don’t know, do I?’ But for some reason she thinks this is a reason to stop looking into this, when really it’s a reason I should be looking into it.
With Oliver, I don’t know. He does at least seem resigned to the fact that I will keeping looking whatever he thinks. He doesn’t ever try to talk me out of it directly.
I miss Kitty.
Anyway. Back to Mitsy’s post. I really don’t know enough about the forums to say anything definitive. Like I said when I first came back, it sort of just… started working again. The only thing about the forums that I can say for certain is that it started up around about the time… when my memories start to actually be a thing again. I wish I knew where to start but– oh! Wait!
We had a caller, Emily, I think. She was really into computers, she was trapped in the Impossible House, I think? But she called me, didn’t she?
I wonder if…
[CHAIR LEGS SCRAPE ON THE GROUND. SAM RUMMAGES THROUGH A CUPBOARD, AND DROPS A PHONE ON THE TABLE WITH A CLATTER AND A FAINT RING. HE DRAWS BACK UP TO THE DESK, A LOW, TREMBLING HUM RISING IN THE BACKGROUND]
[SAM LIFTS THE PHONE, AND A DIAL TONE RINGS OUT, A CONSTANT, BUZZY DRONE]
Um. I call upon you, Emily, to speak with me.
[WHEN SAM SPEAKS AGAIN, HIS VOICE REVERBERATES]
[A DOOR OPENS, CREAKING, AND THE TREMBLING HUM RISES]
[A SINGLE DROP OF WATER]
EMILY: [HER VOICE FAINT, ECHOING] Sam?
EMILY: [THIS TIME HER VOICE IS CLEARER] Sam?
SAM: Sorry, were you, um. Sleeping?
[THROUGHOUT THIS CONVERSATION, EMILY’S VOICE DRIFTS BETWEEN STATES OF ECHO AND CLARITY, SOUND LOUDER ON THE LEFT OR RIGHT INTERMITTENTLY, WITH CHANGES COMING SLOWLY, DRIFTING IN AND OUT]
EMILY: No? I don’t… think so? I don’t think we do that here.
SAM: Oh. Right, okay. Sorry, you just sounded groggy.
EMILY: It’s been a while since… I don’t know.
SAM: Well, sleeping or not, I’m sorry to disturb you. I just. The house, and I wondered if. Are you alright?
EMILY: The house?
SAM: On Banemouth Road. You went there, and then. You were trapped?
EMILY: Oh, yes. I remember. The house on Banemouth Road, with the white door. Your house.
SAM: Yeah, when I was a kid.
EMILY: No, more than that. Yours, you. Part of you, Ghost Maker.
SAM: [TIREDLY] Could you maybe… not call me that?
EMILY: Oh, of course.
SAM: Do you remember that we spoke on the phone before?
EMILY: Vaguely? It’s… strange. The house was still. There was no time there. No space, not really. Nothing but stillness. It was both cramped and endless. When I spoke with you it was the blink of an eye and also an eternity.
SAM: Right, that’s kind of what I wanted to talk to you about, actually. You were stuck there, but you’re not, now?
EMILY: No. There’s more of me, now, it feels like. Or maybe I was just numb before.
SAM: And. Are you. You know.
EMILY: Dead? Yes, I think so.
SAM: I’m so sorry.
EMILY: I’m not sure how it happened. I don’t think it was you, directly. The house was hungry. You were hungry. There was no thought or intent. I just… became a part of it.
SAM: But you could call me, here. And you were on the forums, the day of the séance.
EMILY: Yes. It’s… The house and the forums are connected, but only by a few fine threads. It took a lot of effort and energy to reach beyond the house. And then, when you were inside of it, it all fell away, and those fine threads coiled, and guided through loops, weaving into the forums. All the power that was there is here, now. And it’s moving.
SAM: What do you mean, it’s moving?
EMILY: The house was stasis. Suspension. But the forums are connected. Everything shines, here.
SAM: Are there… others?
EMILY: Yes. Many.
SAM: How many?
EMILY: It’s impossible to say. Some are vague and indistinct. Just fragments, really. Others are more whole. Those of us from the house, we are less solid than some of the others.
SAM: There are more of you, from the house?
EMILY: Yes. Georgie, some scattered pieces of their parent, a small boy, and others.
SAM: And others.
SAM: I– I need you to do something for me Emily.
EMILY: Of course. Anything you need.
SAM: Well, y–you were into computers, before, right?
EMILY: I was.
SAM: And you’re immersed in the forums, or something, right?
EMILY: That’s right.
SAM: So, do you think you could find out how it works? Where is it set up? What’s the structure of it, that kind of thing?
EMILY: I can try.
SAM: Thank you.
EMILY: It’s what I’m for.
SAM: What you’re— oh! Beth! I– is Regular Caller Beth there?
EMILY: I think so.
SAM: Uuuh— Beth, will you speak with me?
[BETH’S VOICE IS CLEARER THAN EMILY’S BUT DRIFTS]
SAM: Beth! Are you alright?
BETH: Well. I’m dead, which isn’t great, but otherwise I’m pretty good, yeah.
SAM: That’s. Wow. I. I’m glad it’s not all bad?
BETH: It certainly isn’t. Oh! You know what?
BETH: Since you read that letter from my mum, I’ve realised, you know how before I was accidentally messing with stuff in her house? Well I can do it deliberately now!
SAM: Oh! That’s cool.
BETH: Yeah! It’s hard because, well. The whole gang back here finds it a bit taxing whenever I do it, but every time it gets a little easier. I’m hoping to leave her a message, soon!
SAM: A message? But can’t you call her, like you call me?
BETH: Ah, no. Think that’s just an ‘Heir Apparent Exclusive’ type deal.
BETH: Like, I can only speak to you this way? Because you, you know. Made me.
BETH: Yeah. Well. Anyway! Did you want something?
SAM: Sort of? You’ve been in the forums the longest, right?
BETH: Erm, no.
SAM: Oh. Really?
BETH: Yeah, there’s a bunch of folks who’ve been here longer but they’re less. Um. Present, than I am? I think I’m the best work you managed.
BETH: Is that all you wanted to ask?
SAM: No, but. Well. It’s about what stuff is like back there. What does it feel like? What’s the layout? Is there a layout?
BETH: Uh, no. It’s, uh. It’s not a physical space. It’s. I don’t know how to explain it properly. It’s nowhere and everywhere and anywhere. It’s different for all of us. We’re all here together, all the time, but at the same time, we’re separate, if that makes sense.
SAM: It doesn’t.
SAM: Don’t worry! That’s fine. That’s the arcane, isn’t it?
BETH: It is.
SAM: And. You’re okay, aren’t you? You’re not… suffering?
BETH: I don’t think so?
SAM: Well, that’s good.
BETH: I suppose it is. Do you need anything else?
SAM: Ah. No, no. You’re fine. Thank you Beth. You can go.
BETH: Alright-y! Bye, Sam!
[DIAL TONE CREEPS IN AGAIN, THE HUM OF SAM’S MAGIC FADING AS IT DOES]
So. The ghosts. They’re connected to the forums? I suppose we knew that already. And the Impossible House is somehow linked to it, based on what Kitty said about how the house’s defence mechanisms changed. It took a lot of energy for Emily to talk to me outside of it, before, but less so now, and Beth says the ghosts are kind of connected to each other, too…
Hang on a minute, we started calling it the Impossible House because there was an entry about it in the Little Book of Big Magic. Unfortunately, Madame Marie’s copy is somewhere in the rubble of the basement studio and we’ve yet to track down any other copies. It was just a disambiguated term, from what I remember, and didn’t go into very much detail about how it worked. And all the other information we have about the house comes from Kitty and the old Loyal Assistant’s observations, and what Stykler and Stykler told us about it. They did use the term ‘Impossible House’, but they said it almost like a joke, didn’t they? They just described it mostly as an artefact of the arcane.
Which means what, exactly? ‘bit of thing we don’t understand’? It all sounded very official before but in hindsight it’s saying nothing at all, it?
Maybe I should ask the True Arcanist deck…
No. No. I won’t.
Well. Hopefully Emily will be able to tell us more about how the forums work soon, and we’ll be able to work out of it has anything to do with the apparently spontaneous appearance of a huge burning pentagram on Mitsy’s school grounds.
[MUSINGLY] Coincidence is a powerful feature of Arcanism.
Ugh I’m giving myself a headache. I think I’m going to call it a night, faithful listeners. Thanks for tuning in, and I’ll speak you next week.