SBR 3.5: Hollow

Click for Content Warnings

Grief and references to past trauma
Distorted sound effects which include distant screaming and sounds of pain
Sounds of emotional distress (unsteady breathing, etc)
Characters in negative mental spaces expressing negative self-talk


We’re all just ghosts waiting to happen. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.


Evening, Faithful Listeners. So, I’ve been thinking. There was that census of the forums a few months back which looked at how many of you listeners are alive and how many of you are dead, right? Which concluded that some of you are definitively alive. Which is good to know! And great news for you, obviously. But I think it also says something about the nature of the thing doesn’t it?

Like. If Spirit Box Radio is an arcane artefact and the forums are part of it, and some of you forums users out there are alive well, that bodes well for the alive-or-not status of other parts of it, doesn’t it? I mean like. Properly alive. Not the weird not-quite-alive thing that Scourge and Strife and Scarcity have going on. The accidental confluence of threads that is living things and consciousness.

Hmm. I guess if you look at it like that then everything that’s alive is an arcane artefact, kind of? But, no. That’s. No. That can’t be right.

Well, something to think about, anyway.

I hope things have been alright with all of you in the last week. It’s been nice to have some sun in the evenings. I find it increasingly difficult to get out of bed before two in the afternoon, so I’ve been missing out on a lot of daylight. Sometimes Oliver opens the curtains when he comes up from the shop for food at ten or eleven. The window is right over the bed so the sun falls right on my face. Not a terrible way to get woken up, really, especially if he brings coffee and sits up here with me for a bit.

Well, anyway.

Faithful Listener Agate, whose birthday got ruined a few weeks ago by the malfunctioning Spirit Box Services, has written into the show this week asking me to do a tarot reading! I don’t usually do these anymore, as I’ve found the cards can be, ah, uncooperative when it’s me that’s drawing them, but I did a couple of practice spreads earlier tonight and it all seemed to go pretty okay then, so I thought, why the hell not? This is the Enlightenment Segment but it’s still about community and this feels like a small amount to give in return to someone who has spent so much time on the forums helping me answer things, so here we go!

Agate wants to know whether or not they’re going to get a job they recently applied for.

So, I’m going to knock the deck six times and blow on it.


Then I’ll shuffle them, so it’s three times cleansed, how about that? Right.

So I’ll do a three card, past, present, future spread for this because it’s a bit more in depth than a yes or no but I always get a bit lost with anything more complicated, so lets see where we get.

In the past position, Nine of Wands. This position is all about things from your past that are influencing your current situation. Hmm. So, this is saying you’ve been hurt a lot in the past but you didn’t give up in spite of that, and you’ve spent a lot of time working hard. All that effort has paid off but it’s left you bruised and battered. I think the relevance here is about you working to rebuild yourself. Is the job you applied for something that will be a pretty significant step in the right direction for you? Let’s see what we get in the present.

Ah, the two of swords! An interesting card for this slot, but also super relevant because it’s all about decision making. Each sword is a different fork in the path; whichever option you take is going to be very important for you. This might be about whether or not you choose to take the job or not. It is possible that there’s something about denial with this card, too. Are there factors you’re deliberately overlooking here? If there are, you might want to try to tackle them head on or you’re have to deal with them later. Without more context it’s hard to know what that denial is relating to though, but we can circle back to it.

So for the future I’ve drawn the Knight of Cups, which is very encouraging! This is about positive change and moving in the right direction. Given the rest of the spread so far, I’d say this indicates that you’re likely to be the one holding the cards, pardon the pun, which means I think it’s likely you’re going to get the job offer and it’ll come down to you having to decide whether or not you take it. Given this card’s strong positive vibes, I reckon that really whichever choice you make is going to be the right one, just make sure you’re not holding onto any self-limiting beliefs or anything when you make this call and be sure to not right off any possibilities because of them.

The conclusion I’d draw here, Agate, is that you’re probably going to get offered the job and it’s going to take you looking into yourself to know whether or not it’s the right call for you to take it. I hope that helps!

Oh tarot is so fun when it doesn’t start throwing up six death cards in a row even though there’s only one in the deck. I’ve always wanted to learn how to do it properly. I’d heard Janet the Tarot Witch read for people on the show before when I’d tuned in on that little radio Anna and Kitty got for me.

Gods, I haven’t thought about that little radio in so long! I wonder what happened to it? Burned up with everything else in that house, I suppose.

That’s two places I’ve lived in that have been completely destroyed. Three if you count Kitty’s shed, though that wasn’t destroyed, exactly, I just blew out all the windows. It’s a wonder Oliver lets me live here at all, considering.

Kitty did get the windows replaced in the end. Gods know where she found the money for it, like. Maybe Anna lent it to her. Doesn’t feel super likely, given. You know. Maybe it happened before she found out what I’d done. I just don’t get why she’s so mad at Kitty about it; Kitty didn’t pick this, did she? It’s my fault. But it’s whatever.

Arlo called again the other day. I think I do like them, you know. It’s quite difficult to parse it all sometimes. They’ve been involved in. You know. Stuff. But I have too, haven’t I? But yeah. I like them. And Anna seems to, too, which is good. Arlo’s still staying at Anna’s place. Ugh. It’s stupid, I miss popping around for tea, I’d only just got into the habit of it, you know? I don’t know many places. I don’t really have any friends, I just. I see Anna and Kitty and I do this. There’s Indi, I guess. Beth, Beth’s a friend! And Rhytidia, I suppose, though she doesn’t like me very much. And the Recording Machine. Do semi-sentient objects count as friends? I could always turn it on and ask it but. She gets mad if I do that on air without asking first and she’s still not forgiven me for forgetting to switch her off the other week so it’s not worth pressing it now. Even if we were friends before I doubt we still would be after that.

Arlo is becoming a friend, I guess, and Indi is closer with Kitty, and Rhytidia was my mum’s… gods, you know I don’t even know actually. Girlfriend? Lover? Concubine? I don’t know. I haven’t actually asked. Don’t see much of her really, except when she turns up to throw mud at things or complain at Oliver about the state of his plants. She can’t seem to get it into her head that he likes the whole ‘they’re dead’ thing. It’s part of the romance for him, which. Dating me. Figures.

Oh I hate myself for saying that. Maybe I should shower.

Ugh. Anyway.

I have Beth. But even she’s a ghost I mysteriously imprisoned or whatever. And now she spends so much time basically moderating the place, along with Mystery and Emily, which makes us… colleagues? I don’t even know. They’re sort of my online assistants I guess.



You know I never.

All this time and I didn’t even think about–

REVEL: Mrow?

SAM: The Loyal Assistants! They– they were– here! They were. HERE. Well not here, but at the studio, at the other house, Janet, Astrid and Salim, they worked with Madame Marie! And they disappeared when she disappeared and she was dead, so–

Are they– are they dead? Wait, I–


The Empress. In reverse. Yes. Yes, they’re dead.


SAM: I know. I don’t know what I was expecting either.

REVEL: Mrrow?

SAM: I– I never thought of it like that. Like the Loyal Assistants were her sort of Major Arcana. They certainly didn’t seem to like her very much, but they kept showing up anyway, didn’t they?

Hang on. In the True Arcanist deck, there’s… hmm. There are the Major Arcana, the gilded cards which represent like, the what? Super Arcana?

REVEL: Mrah.

SAM: Sure. The Arcane itself, then. And then the minor arcana. Six suits. Witches, Rain, Wind, Fire, Ghosts, and Arcane Objects. Astrid the Janitor, I always called her that because she was always cleaning stuff, remember? You could hear in the background on the show, she was always polishing and dusting stuff off. She was an expert crystal diviner, I think that must’ve been what Madame Marie called her to the show for, right? Because of the crystal ball she’d had passed down to her from her grandmother, the one which was in the studio for all those years, the one that shows the past. M’s past, my past. Whatever.

And Salim, the weather guy. Two of the suits are about the weather; rain and wind. They never talked about it on the air, they never talked about the True Arcanist deck at all, not once, because you’re not supposed to, are you? It’s the most arcanist of arcanist tools. They’re for categorisation, they’re for organisation, and at the same time, they’re each individual, specific to the maker, and they grow and change in size and usefulness depending on who’s using them. Salim was interested in patterns and omens, that was why he was so good at the augury forecasts, you know, because he had a good eye for making those kinds of connections, but it wasn’t just augury, looking at birds, that they were good at, he could use the weather for predictions and stuff too. That was his main focus, he’d stand in the garden, watching the clouds. I’d see him out there from the window on the landing, watching the sky. They’d come in and talk about the quality of the rain and the breeze and… rain and wind.

Janet the Tarot Witch. They did so many tarot readings with Madame Marie. But. No. They were into arcane objects as much as Astrid was. It’s not about the deck. It can’t be about the deck. They’re not minor arcana anymore than any other Arcanist.

REVEL: Mrow!?

SAM: You’re right! Maybe I should look for them in the Arcane! There are threads that connected us, there have to me, and even if there’s nothing direct, I can go via M or Kitty, she worked with them loads too, okay, let’s see.

I just need to focus for a moment.



Ah, perfect.

Okay, here we are, here’s me, this horrifying halo of knots around a gaping void, love that, no need to concentrate on that! Let’s see, hmm. Maybe I’ll picture a memory? Yeah. I’ll do that.

Think, Sam, Think.

Oh! Yeah, the time they were all in the kitchen after the show. M was upset about something, but when I walked into the room they all went quiet so I never found out what. They all looked at me, all of them but M, and then Astrid offered to make me a cup of tea, too.

I’ve found them, here. This knot. Okay, now I just follow the strand and–



No, no, no!


Revel, help me!


Stop, stop!



REVEL: Mrrrrnnnnnnnn.

SAM: Thank you, thank you.

REVEL: Mrrrn. Mmpf.

SAM: That was. It was intense. Most threads, they gently fray, this slow coming apart, each strand reconnecting with other things, slowly getting bound into new, different threads. But that was. The threads separated, but they didn’t come apart entirely. The strands twisted around each other, the space between them wider and wider, but not reconnecting, not joining up with the fabric of everything like they should, not seguing into something vaguer and more shimmery than the ghosts’ threads. They were taken apart, their pieces pared down, but never allowed to re-assimilate, never touching, no connections, just– just spiralling on and onto into nothingness as far as I could see, a huge, vast nothing that reached on and on, no end in sight, nothing.

The only time I’ve ever seen anything like that before is when I was trying to séance with M.

REVEL: Mrrrr.

SAM: That’s right. The Man in the Flat Cap consumes people who’ve made a deal with him but who haven’t made the cut as Major Arcana. I wonder how he makes that call. It can’t be about affection. It has to be something else.

REVEL: Mrrp?

SAM: Do Indi and Oliver come across as easily manipulated to you?

REVEL: Mrrow.

SAM: I suppose it can happen to anyone, but it doesn’t explain how he makes the choice, does it?

REVEL: Merow.

SAM: Huh. Yeah. I guess they kind of do self-select. Like people with scam emails. The people who won’t accept a deal will get filtered out by the terms of even attempting to make deal. You need to have already surrendered to it by the time he comes or you won’t find him. Seek but don’t search. Hmm. So the Major Arcana, they self select too?

REVEL: Mrrrawn?

SAM: I suppose the Sins did choose to come over to me. And Oliver, too. But Kitty?

REVEL: Mrrrr. Mrah.

SAM: Yeah, I know you and the other cats came voluntarily, but–

REVEL: Mranh!

SAM: Okay, okay! But I’m his heir, why wouldn’t it be a fair comparison to look at each of our Major Arcana?

REVEL: Mrrrach!!.

SAM: Sure, but you started it! You were the one who pointed out the Sins came over to me voluntarily!

REVEL: Mrah!

SAM: Yeah. There should be some evidence of whatever kind of deal they might have had along their threads. I. I should look again.

Revel, stay with me?

REVEL: Mrpf.

SAM: Thanks.


SAM: Okay. So. Um. Let’s take it back. Don’t look into the void, step back from the edge.


Yeah. Okay. Yeah.

Right, we go back, back.


So many little threads connecting them to so many things. More of them to me than I’d have thought, but you see how they loop around here, around Madame Marie? They’re not knotted, they just sort of, loop around and then over to me, then off again. Interesting. So they’re connected to Madame Marie because of me? Or to me through her? I can’t tell.

Here, where the threads meet M’s line, they sort of… they twist up. And into a knot.


Yeah, that’s the Man in the Flat Cap’s deal with her alright. So they’re here, but only because of M’s deal.

Hang on, if the power M had was only ever mine, then… maybe that’s what the threads connecting them to me are. M using magic that was never hers to begin with. Yeah, yeah wait you can see, where the threads cross, it all comes from the rose knot of her deal, you see, and then back to me, to mine—

Here’s Anna and Kitty. Do you see how they leave her differently, than I do? The deal…

Wait a second. What’s Kitty doing?

She was with Indi, but she was making a decision, and now Indi’s gone. Kitty sent them away.

The witches in Salem. Kitty’s letting them go.

No. No, they can’t. Not after what they did. No!

REVEL: Mrrep!




KITTY: Sam?! What are you–

SAM: What the hell are you doing, letting them walk away like this! I told you and Indi to deal with them!

KITTY: I know, that’s why I–

SAM: Indi promised me they’d get what they deserved.

KITTY: Not without—

SAM: What do you want me to do, walk away? Pretend it didn’t happen!? They made a LIFE, Kitty, a life which was born into the world just to suffer and die, it felt nothing but their rage and their fear and I know, I know how this sounds. But I can’t let them do that and just get away with it, don’t you understand? They have no idea what they’ve done and–

KITTY: Of course they don’t! They’re just idiots, playing god. They had no idea what they were doing.

SAM: It was hurting. It was afraid, and so angry.

KITTY: You can let them go.

SAM: They don’t– they don’t DESERVE that!

KITTY: Sam, for the love of the gods.

SAM: NO! All my life, all I’ve done is sit around and wait for bad things to find me and I can’t DO IT ANYMORE. No! I just can’t. I’m sorry.


SAM: Indi!


INDI: What do you want, Heir Apparent?

SAM: Make sure those witches get what they deserve, like you promised me you would.

KITTY: Indi, you don’t have to do what he says.

INDI: Kitty–

SAM: Actually he does. Make it so they can never do what they did again. I don’t care how.

INDI: As you wish.

KITTY: Indi! You are not his attack dog! Sam, what has got into you?

SAM: I… I don’t know. Shit. I– I should. I need to go. Don’t kill them. Just. I– sorry. Do what you want.

INDI: Alright?

KITTY: Sam– wait–



SAM: What have– what did I—


KITTY: Oh, no, you do not just get to walk out like that. No way.

SAM: Kitty. Please, just leave me alone.

KITTY: Sam, you know I’d do anything to help you, right? What is going on?

SAM: It’s fine, Kitty.

KITTY: It’s clearly not. You were ready to kill those people.

SAM: I wasn’t! Also, pretty rich of you to come in here and yell at me about this. Where have you been what have you been doing?

KITTY: You know where I’ve been, I’ve been looking for–

SAM: But WHY!! Every time something big happens you miraculously have some excuse not to be here, every time.

KITTY: That’s not fair.

SAM: Everyone’s talking about being there for me, all ‘don’t be rash’, all ‘think it through’, but none of you, not a single one of you has the faintest idea of what any of this is like. The burden of it all. Knowing that you were made to destroy, that it’s not just a part of what you are but the heart of it. At your core. You don’t know what any of that is like.


KITTY: You’re not considering it, are you?

SAM: Kitty. Are you seriously asking me if I’m thinking about possibly ending the world?



SAM: Well I’m not. I’m just… I’m the End. I need to be able to… yeah. View it. In a way that doesn’t make me feel like the spawn of Satan.

KITTY: Tough call, considering you are essentially the spawn of Satan.

SAM: Oh come off it, he’s not literally the devil, is he? He’s like. I don’t know. He’s me, but not.

KITTY: I didn’t mean the Man in the Flat Cap.

SAM: Ha. Oh, dear old M.

KITTY: You’re not him. You’re different, you know.

SAM: I try.

KITTY: You don’t need to. It’s in your bones. You real, human bones which you have, because I’ve heard them break.

SAM: Kitty…

KITTY: I’ve known you your whole life, which is more than you can say about it. I know what your core is and it’s not bad. I’m sorry I’ve not been here. I’ve just needed space.

SAM: I know. I– I’m sorry. I– You could always just pop in, you know. It’s not like you have any travel expenses.

KITTY: Yes, one benefit of being involuntarily forced back to life is that you appear to have installed fast travel.

SAM: Fast travel?

KITTY: Gods, and you got pissy with me for wondering whether you’d heard of the Salem witch trials.

SAM: Again, Kitty, I have very little pop culture knowledge but I am literally a being of the arcane and also spent the first years of what I remember of my life obsessively researching anything I could about arcanism and witchcraft.

KITTY: I know, I know. And I suppose I could stand to pop around for tea, occasionally, if you insist.

SAM: That would be nice. And weirdly, I’m starting to miss Indi.

KITTY: Oh, they’ll love that.

SAM: Gods, don’t tell her.

KITTY: Alright, deal. I won’t tell my partner you’re pining for their company and you’ll stop moping about your dad.

SAM: I didn’t agree to that.

KITTY: Oh, being held to the terms of a deal you didn’t consent to? I wonder what that’s like.

SAM: Ouch, Kitty, low blow! I just wanted to bring you back from the dead, I didn’t know it would make you into an undead weirdo instead of just a regular weirdo.

KITTY: Relax, I’m just messing with you.

SAM: Well, don’t. If it’s too soon to joke about the Salem witch trials, it’s too soon to joke about that.

KITTY: Fair point. Well, I’m off. You’ve got a show to sign off, anyway.

SAM: Yeah, I suppose I do.

KITTY: See you later.

SAM: Bye, Kitty.


REVEL: Mrow?

SAM: I don’t want to talk about it.

REVEL: Mrrr.

SAM: Thanks. I love you too.

REVEL: Mrrep?

SAM: No, don’t get Oliver. I just wanna sit here for a bit I think.

REVEL: Mrrr.

SAM: You can stay, if you want.



It’s funny isn’t it. I know so much more now than I ever have about arcanism and the arcane, but. When it comes to these things where I have to actually go and make decisions it. It doesn’t help. It’s like. I know so much, I have so much information, but in the moment I just– I just get so– so–


It just all feels like so much. And I’m just one guy, you know?


SAM: I know, I know I have you all and the forums and. But it’s my call, isn’t it? And today I almost chose wrong. And it’s that easy. So easy. It felt right, in the moment, but. Iy was definitely wrong.

Alright. I’m going to go for a walk, I think, to try and like. Process all of this.

Thanks for being with me, everyone. You too, Faithful Listeners. Goodnight.