SBR 3.4: Truisms

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Background sounds and music Stereo audio (audio will sound different in right and left speakers/headphones) Discussions of death Implied dismemberment Descriptions of mold/decay and foul water Emotional distress


With great responsibility comes terrible power. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.


Hello Faithful Listeners I know you want me to talk about the thing but honestly I don’t have anything to say about it okay? It’s fine. The Artefact is gone, I got rid of it, I solved the problem, it’s done. It’s over. It’s gone. Right?


There’s been a lot of buzz on the forums about the witches who made it. I. I don’t think. It would be a good idea. For me to go and find them.

I spoke to Kitty and she and Indi have got a pretty good lead on them and. They will take care of it. I do not trust myself to–

I just. I think it’d be a bad idea.

Anyway I’m not talking about it, I’m moving on.

There are more pressing things we need to talk about, like this message that someone put on the forums about a library. As soon as I saw it it was like a bolt of lightning in my mind, because I remember I’ve read a letter from a listener about a library before, not long after I first took over the show. In fact, it wasn’t just about a library, it was about the same library as in this letter. The library in Rhyl. Here’s what forums’ user Least Arcana had to say, anyway.

Hi everyone,

Long time lurker, first time poster here. I don’t like sharing too much personal information so I’ll try to be as light on those kind of details as I can, but there are a few things I can’t avoid mentioning or things are going to get really confusing and WHERE I am seems pretty significant, given how close it is to the birthplace of our host, Sam. I live in Meliden, a tiny village between a bunch of OTHER tiny villages, one of which is Dyserth, where Sam was born. It’s a pretty nice place to live, at the bottom of the Clwyd hills, with a view right across a few miles of farmland down to the coast. On a clear day you can see all the way to Eryri, and the snowy peak of Yr Wyddf.

I’ve lived here since the 70s and back then the town was pretty self-sufficient, but over the years more of the little shops have closed, and now we’re left with just a couple of pubs, an offy and the chip shop. The little library has long gone, and our nearest place to borrow books is Prestatyn, which is where I usually go. Prestatyn Library isn’t the best, however. It’s well kept and organised and has a decent collection of books, and there’s been a system where you can order books in at the counter if you want, but the browsable collection is pretty small, and if you’re looking to broaden your literary horizons your opportunities are a bit limited.

For this reason, I often make the trip on the bus over to Rhyl. Back in the day, Rhyl was quite the summer holiday destination, but these glory days have long since eclipsed, and it’s now pretty run down and has a reputation for being rough. Add to that the years of underfunding our local libraries have suffered and you can imagine how the library over there is. The place is also a little rowdier than Prestatyn library, if you catch my drift. It’s main benefit over Prestatyn is its larger selection of books. If you’re looking to spend a lot of time browsing the collections looking for something new, Rhyl library is a good spot to do so.

I’ve been making these semi-regular jaunts over to Rhyl library for several years and over that time I’ve seen many staff members come and go, growing fond of the familiar faces and getting to know the staff on a first name basis if they’re there for any longer than a couple of months. The only person I’ve ever had any issue with over at Rhyl library is the old woman who occasionally works on the front desk.

She’s very old, this woman, somewhere between 80 and 100 if I had to guess. She’s small, not five-feet tall, and seems even smaller because of the hunched way in which she walks. She’s very thin, so that her clothes hang from her body, her wrinkled mouth is always set in a hard, thin line, except when she’s sitting at the front desk, at which time it hangs slightly open. She’s so still, when she sits there, eyes pointed directly towards the door, her jaw hanging slack as she watches people coming and going. I’ve mistakenly thought she’d drifted off to sleep – or something more serious – when I’ve caught her in that state before, but when the doors of the library open her eyes dart back and forth between them, scanning whoever has entered or left.

Usually there are kids groups held in the children’s section with clapping and singing, and even when the groups aren’t running there’s guaranteed to be at least a couple of kids in there running ragged, whatever time of day you go in. The adults who frequent the library aren’t much quieter, holding conversations on their phones at full volume, chatting loudly with the staff, amicably or not. But when the old woman is on the front desk, the whole building is quiet and still. I’ve only been in the library when she’s been working a handful of times but the difference is really marked. The children walk quietly, silently. The adults stand by the bookcases and scrutinise the spines of the books without so much at glancing at one another.

I’ve taken to just turning around and walking out when I see her at the desk, and I’ve seen other people do the same too. The weirdest thing of all is that when I mention her to the other staff members they seem to have no idea what I’m talking about.

I went over to Rhyl library last week to see if they had anything I might fancy on their shelves, and when I walked in, I saw her, sitting there, slack-jawed. My first instinct was to turn around and leave but, but I had agreed to meet my friend at a coffee shop in the shopping centre an hour later and hadn’t brought anything with me to read, so I pressed ahead.

As I walked through the doors, her eyes flickered across me, but the rest of her face was perfectly motionless. I stepped around the desk, offering her a smile and polite ‘hello’, which she didn’t acknowledge.

In the fiction section, another patron was standing by the crime section, trailing his hand over the spines. I tried to catch his eye and smile but he didn’t meet my gaze, so I made my way over to general and minded my own business. As I browsed the titles, I became increasingly aware of the smell. It was musty and kind of metallic, like mould and seawater and rust all blended together. I picked up a book, and its pages were wet. I looked up, and there was a damp patch high above us in the vaulted ceiling. A fat droplet of water fell and landed right on my face.

Feeling a little nauseas, I turned to make my way over to the front desk to complain about this book, but instead slammed right into the man I’d seen over in crime. He was standing oddly, his shoulders at different heights. He was swaying a little, like he might have been drunk, and I noticed then that his hair was wet, dripping wet, running in rivulets down his face. His eyes were yellowing, bloodshot, the pupils cloudy with what I can only assume must have been terrible cataracts.

I said ‘excuse me’, but he didn’t move, so I went to walk past him. When I did, he shifted his weight. His leg moved into my path. He kept looking directly at me, although I don’t know how he could have seen at all through the fog in his eyes. He moved his head slowly to the right, and then slowly to the left.

Excuse me,’ a pert, clipped voice said. ‘You have an overdue book.’

I turned, and the old woman was standing right beside me, her mouth clamped shut.

I do?’ I asked, quite stunned.

The wet man with loose limbs lifted his hand and put it on the sopping volume I was holding, and sloppily wrenched it free. He handed it to the old woman.

Thank you,’ she said ‘You’ll have to pay what you owe,’ she said.

Oh,’ I said, quietly.

Meet me upstairs in the reading room and I’ll be sure to set you to rights,’ she said.

I stared at her blankly. I’ve only been upstairs at Rhyl library a couple of times. There’s not much up there that interests me, just a reference section and the microfiche, but I was pretty certain there wasn’t a reading room. I said all this to the woman, but she just stared at me. ‘Meet me in the reading room,’ she said. ‘I’ll be sure you pay what you owe.’

The wet man turned to the bookshelves. He ran his hand over the books spines, and water dribbled out, dripping from the edge of the shelf into the carpet. The old woman began to walk away, and as she did, I noticed the entire carpet was sopping wet, too.

My first instinct was to leave. I was certain I didn’t have any overdue fees to pay. When the old woman turned to climb the stairs I headed on straight, heading out towards the front desk, but as I reached it, I stopped in my tracks. The doors were closed. Outside, it was as pitch black as the middle of the night. I turned back towards the general fiction section and almost broke my neck because there was a staircase down to the bottom floor. Within just a turn I seemed to have gone from the bottom of the stairs to the top of them.

Catching my breath, I made my way down, but when I reached the bottom, I came out right at the top. There was the microfiche, a few tables scattered with newspapers, the reference section, and there, where I was certain there should have only have been a wall, was a red door. In brass letters, it read ‘READING ROOM’.

The door was slightly ajar. Through the gap I could see the old woman. She was holding a mop. The head was dripping down her arm, grimy, brown water running down her elbow, dripping to the floor. She was stood in at least an inch of water. A few inches from her sensible shoes, something was lying on the floor. The longer I looked, the more certain I was that it was an arm.

The smell of rust and salt and mould was filling my head, mixing now with something else, something that was leaking out of the room behind the old woman. The sweet stink of rotting flesh.

I didn’t know what to do, only that I couldn’t follow her inside, not under any circumstances, so I reached into my pocket to take out my phone, pulled it out, intending to take a photograph, but as soon as I unlocked the screen with my thumb, it opened directly here, to the Spirit Box Radio forums. I heard something strange, a ringing in my ears. I felt something, a tug in my chest, like I was being pulled forward, twisted around, but inside myself, and when I looked up from my phone, I was outside the library.

A little girl ran out of the automatic doors and asked me if I needed help getting up.

I felt dizzy, sick. I looked through the automatic doors as I got to my feet. The old woman was not at the front desk; two of the usual staff members were sitting there, chatting to one another.

I stepped inside. There was no sign of her anywhere, no musty smell, nothing. I ran up the stairs to the upper floor. The wall where the reading room door had been was gone. It was just a wall.

It’s only been a week but I’m not sure I’ll ever go back.

It felt important to share this with you all because it was the forums that were open on my phone when I found myself outside. I don’t know why that feels so important but it does.

And that’s it, the message. It does feel important, doesn’t it, that it was the forums that seemed to pull them out. And that this is happening so close to where I was born. About four and a half miles away, actually. I checked.

It’s not just where I was born, either. I lived there. I grew there. I almost died there.

Madame Marie and I made the Impossible House there.

The forums and the house, they’re connected. And I’m connected.

I wonder if sometimes the library at Rhyl isn’t the library at Rhyl. Maybe it’s impossible, too. There wasn’t much detail in this letter, but from what I remember of the last letter we got about Rhyl library, the Reading Room was in a different place, and it shouldn’t have been able to be there at all. There couldn’t have been a room there. Just like there couldn’t have been a basement under the room where I used to broadcast the show because it was already in the basement, and Madame Marie’s office wasn’t even a basement, but it was under there, under the basement. It was a part of the Impossible House. So maybe this Reading Room is like that? Maybe that’s why it wasn’t always so strange. And the people, the other patrons, the wet ones, and the old woman. Maybe they’re… trapped. Like my forums ghosts. Maybe they went in unsuspecting and… now they’re stuck. Connected to it.

But the old woman, she’s different to the other patrons, isn’t she? She seems to serve it. Or. Speak for it.

The Harbingers aren’t the only Arcane Artefacts in existence and if what happened last week is anything to go by they’re far from the only ones that think and feel, whatever the Man in the Flat Cap told me about them. The difference seems to be that the Harbingers are deliberate, but other Arcane Artefacts are accidents. You can’t make them on purpose except. That’s what they were doing, last week. They were deliberately making their magic go wrong. There were six or seven of them, casting spells at the same circle, but all casting something different.

And they did it.

I don’t know I have to–


If it can be done without him like that. It. Maybe. I don’t know.

But I need to be certain that it can and that thing those witches made, it was suffering, I had to let it go like I did, but it means that it’s not around for me to study and there’s only so much you can learn about a thread from it’s frayed ends. So maybe this library. If it’s like the Impossible House on Banemouth Road, if the old woman, she’s like… me. Maybe I can learn more about how these things work.

It just seems like, I don’t know. Scourge, Strife, Scarcity. They don’t seem to have big arcane spaces attached to them, not like me. Maybe they do and I just haven’t seen it? But. I’ve looked at them through the Arcane and I haven’t seen anything like it.

And the Impossible House. I… got rid of it, didn’t I? But. The trapdoor.

I just… argh, I dunno. Let’s. Go and look at it, come on.



White Door!


Take me to Banemouth Road.


There’s nothing here.


Hmm. I can see it, sort of like… the shape of something. Knots in places. I’m tied to here. I can’t unpick these knots. They’ll be here a long time. I think if you’ve got any proclivity for the Arcane at all and you come here, you’ll sense it. Like when you walk into a house where there’s been a traumatic death. The landscape is marked, scarred, even if you can’t see it.

Of course you can sort of see it, here. The pile of rubble that almost killed me.


This is where the trapdoor was the last time I saw it, when we were looking for the Man in the Flat Cap. We went down, down, down, through those rooms. Each chamber seemed to belong to each of the Harbingers, didn’t it? Like maybe they do have an Arcane space but we didn’t see the whole of it, I don’t know. I can’t see it all attached to them or anything but they look wrong in the Arcane. Just a cluster of knots, like they are made of scars, the way the landscape here is scarred, the way places hold onto memory.


Scourge said they’re all soul, but that’s not right, not really. They’re not living, that much is true, but they aren’t dead either because they’ve never been alive. They’re like ghosts that never existed, only they do. They’re… I don’t know.

I’ve asked the True Arcanist Tarot about it, and. Well. I couldn’t make sense of the answer it was giving me. It had me lay all the cards in a circle; Scourge’s withered hand; Strife’s clean sword; Scarcity’s dead animal in a field. In the middle, the Man in the Flat Cap’s faceless grin, beside the skull in the crown. My card.

When you see them in the arcane, they twist around each other, an orbit. My card and the Man in the Flat Cap’s turn around each other, swaying. The other Harbingers, their cards loop around. Beyond those cards, it had me draw the Major Arcana, mine and his, from Indifference to the Investigator, beyond those the rest of the deck. By the time I was done, the whole thing was spinning, complex ellipticals of connection, each crossed line like a star in a galaxy.

Which was really annoying because it didn’t answer my question at all.

But, you know. I’m a part of an Arcane thing, right? And if the show is part of it too then, in some small way, there’s a little star between us, too, Faithful Listeners. A little knot of connection binding us together across the darkness between us. A bright burst of light in the nothing of the world.

Wait. Wait, that’s it. Maybe I don’t need to go to the library to understand what it is.


Beth? Beth!


BETH: Where’s the fire!?

SAM: What?

BETH: It’s a joke.

SAM: How is that a joke?

BETH: Because you sounded like it was urgent? Like you would if there was a fire? You know what, never mind.

SAM: I need your help with something.

BETH: I’d gathered that, yeah.

SAM: Could do with maybe 50% less sass right now.

BETH: Jeez, sorry. Who put a bee in your bonnet?

SAM: I don’t have a–

BETH: It’s a figure of speech!! Honestly. You’re hopeless sometimes.

SAM: And to think, the Man in the Flat Cap wants me to rule the world.

BETH: Oh, is that what he wants?

SAM: Beth. You have a good sense of the forums, right? The shape of things back there?

BETH: Yeah, I guess.

SAM: What about other things like that?

BETH: Like the forums?

SAM: Yeah.

BETH: I don’t think there are any other things like the forums.

SAM: Hmm. Okay.

BETH: Like. Me, I’m a part of the forums and how it works, right? Me and all the other ghosts are. But so are the living users. We’re all connected. You know how when you look at things in the arcane, you can see the threads that connect everything? The forums is only connections. And it’s also sort of like that for the show you’re broadcasting right now.

SAM: Yeah. And I’m the host of it.

BETH: Yeah, so it’s about connectivity and stuff, but it’s also made up of everyone connecting with each other, even when you’re not there.

SAM: Right. But without me, without a host, it couldn’t happen.

BETH: Not in the way it works now, I don’t think it could but I’m not sure that means it couldn’t ever work like that.

SAM: Okay, so like, there’s this library apparently. It seems some kind of sentience. Like an arcane artefact. Only it seems to be. It seems to want to consume people, if they break the rules. I’ve only ever seen two arcane artefacts up close. One of them was that thing those witches in Salem made, and it was strange and confusing but it was nothing like the other arcane artefact I saw, which was here. The ghost of the house on Banemouth Road. This library, I mean. You heard me talking about it before, right? And you must have seen the post on the forums. It sounds like it’s trying to draw people in.

BETH: Like the house on Banemouth Road did.

SAM: Yeah.

BETH: You’re wondering if someone else could have made something like that, aren’t you?

SAM: Well. Yes. The house on Banemouth Road was a ghost, made out of… I don’t know, it– my memories of my childhood home, memories I still don’t have. It was a manifestation of magic gone wrong, just like any artefact of the arcane, only–

BETH: Only it was connected to the forums.

SAM: Yeah. And if I’m a Harbinger, I’m an Arcane Artefact, all the pieces are connected, so it wasn’t an arcane artefact as much as it was a part of one, with lots of other different moving parts, like limbs. And I’m one of them. It was drawing people in: ghosts like Emily, they ended up inside the forums because of the house. Because of me. Because it’s all connected. Connected to the forums, to the show, to me, to… everything.

BETH: Since what happened with the Scarcemongers you’ve been really preoccupied with the end of the world, you know.

SAM: Is that what it is?

BETH: You’re telling me the reason you’re worried about this library isn’t because you think some other poor sod has got themselves wrapped up in an arcane conspiracy?

SAM: I. I just. I need to understand how it works. I need— to know— that there’s another explanation for what I–

BETH: I know.

SAM: And what if it IS another arcane conspiracy, just keep thinking about Maria Gillespie.

BETH: We all do.

SAM: She’s dead because of me.

BETH: Nah. She’s dead because a cult of cannibals ate her.

SAM: Beth. If I’d done something sooner, acted more firmly, been less clueless

BETH: What, like you were with those witches in Salem? Listen. It is what it is. It’s in the past. It can’t be undone.

SAM: But I can see the threads, Beth. I can see where they come together and tie in the knots that lead right up to the moment where Maria Gillespie dies and so many of those threads are connected to me, and–

BETH: Connected to you, not coming from you. You didn’t mean for any of this to happen. Hell, you didn’t even mean to make ghosts, and yet here I am.

SAM: There you are.

BETH: You can’t hold yourself accountable for shit other people do in your name. You just can’t. You’ll drive yourself mad.

SAM: Don’t you think that ship has already sailed?

BETH: Oh, what even is madness? You’re struggling but who wouldn’t? I mean, look at the world, look at the situation you’re in! It’s a mad situation! How can you be expected to act rationally in the face of that, you know?

SAM: I have to do something, Beth.

BETH: Yeah, you probably do but not because it’s your fault. You have to do something because you’re a good person, it’s been brought to your attention that people are being hurt, and you have the power to stop it.

SAM: Yeah.

BETH: That’s true regardless of how or why it’s happening.

SAM: When did you get so wise?

BETH: Huh. I dunno, really. Sort of just happened I suppose.

SAM: I wonder if it’ll happen to me.

BETH: Hmm. Nah. Your head’s full of fluff, Heir Apparent, there’s no hope for you.


SAM: So, you don’t think the Library is like the forums?

BETH: I couldn’t possibly know that, could I?

SAM: No. I suppose not.

BETH: Oh! You know who might know!?

SAM: Who?

BETH: The– that– that ghost who was a friend of Kitty’s! The one who swore up and down he’d never work with an Enfield again!

SAM: Julius Hughes?

BETH: Julius Hughes!

SAM: He did know a lot about Arcanism.

BETH: Exactly! And one thing we know about Arcanists is they sure do hate it when people learn things, and what’s a library if not a place for people to go to learn stuff?

SAM: I… suppose?

BETH: Worth a shot right?

SAM: Yeah. Okay. Worth a shot.

BETH: Why are we sitting on the floor in a muddy back garden in North Wales, by the way?

SAM: Oh. It’s Banemouth Road.

BETH: I know that, silly. But don’t you have a nice warm flat you could be inside of?

SAM: Yeah. I just. I wanted to see it. To be here.

BETH: Yeah.

SAM: What?

BETH: I’m part of the forums. I hear the show, you know.

SAM: And?

BETH: I know what you’re hiding here.

SAM: I’m not hiding it.

BETH: Okay.

SAM: I should probably go back to the flat. You can go, if you want.

BETH: Sure, Sam. Just. Be careful, alright?

SAM: What’s the point? Trouble always comes looking for me, anyway.

BETH: Just try.

SAM: Alright.

BETH: Nice. Alright, see you!


SAM: I should definitely get back.




SAM: Julius? Julius, are you there?

JULIUS: Oh, it’s you again.

SAM: Ugh, yes, sorry.

JULIUS: What do you want?

SAM: Your help, actually.

JULIUS: I’d say I’m intrigued but I’d be lying.

SAM: At least you’re honest, I’ll give you that. Don’t hang up!

JULIUS: You’re remarkably good at imperatives, Sam Enfield. It’s quite the talent.

SAM: Yeah. Anyway. I need your help with something. You did a lot of study of the Arcane and how it works, right?

JULIUS: This isn’t about prophecies again, is it?

SAM: No, actually. It’s about Arcane Artefacts.

JULIUS: Okay. I’m listening.

SAM: Have you ever heard of Arcane Artefacts that can eat people?

JULIUS: As in, consuming their arcane life-force? Certainly.

SAM: Huh. Okay. But I mean like. Crunch crunch. Eat them. Body and all.

JULIUS: Have you found one?

SAM: Maybe.

JULIUS: Alright. I’ll help you with this. But out of professional curiosity. And only because you’d likely just force me to do it anyway and that sensation is extremely unpleasant.

SAM: Thanks Julius. I owe you one.

JULIUS: Two, actually. But who’s counting?


OLIVER: Sam? Are you in there?

SAM: Okay, Julius, I’ll. Uh. I’ll call you again.

JULIUS: I’ll be waiting.



OLIVER: You’re taking regular callers now?

SAM: Not exactly, it. There’s a library. It might be eating people and I’m trying to work out how it works.

OLIVER: Ah. It was drafty again. I could feel a breeze coming in from under the door.


SAM: Sorry.

OLIVER: You’ve been visiting Banemouth Road, haven’t you?

SAM: How– how did you know?

OLIVER: I thought I heard the door creaking. I wondered if I’d imagined it but… it’s the third time this week, magpie.

SAM: I know. I’m sorry.

OLIVER: Is something going on?

SAM: Love, it’s me. There’s always something going on.

OLIVER: I’d never stop you from airing the show, you know that, but. You’ve been. Odd. Since you’ve been back on the air.

SAM: I’m sorry.

OLIVER: I’m worried. I feel like there are things you aren’t telling me.

SAM: I’m sorry.

OLIVER: You can’t just keep apologising and expecting for that to be enough.

SAM: I know.

OLIVER: I understand why you want to keep me from the show and the forums, but you don’t need to shut me out. You can talk to me.

SAM: Thanks.

OLIVER: Oh, Sam.

SAM: It’s fine. Honestly. It’ll be fine. I’ll be fine.

OLIVER: Okay. Well. You know where I am if you need me.

SAM: I always need you.

OLIVER: Oh, stop that. You don’t need anyone.

SAM: I do.

OLIVER: Well. I’m going to make some tea and go to bed.

SAM: Alright. I’ll just. I’ll wrap up here. Make enough for me.

OLIVER: I will.


Faithful listeners, I’ll speak with you soon. Thanks for everything. Goodnight.