SBR 3.6: Balance

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


Every passing moment is an end and a beginning. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio


Hello Faithful Listeners!

I’ve had a busy week this week. The search for former Scarcemongers is finally beginning to turn up some useful leads, so I’ve been going through them with a couple of forums members to try and determine which ones are the best for us to follow. What’s fascinating is how few of them seem to have tried to go back to their former lives once they left the cult. I don’t know. I suppose they were always running from something, weren’t they, so it makes sense that only a few of them would want to go back.

I suppose there’s fear in it, too. Fear of having to confront your mistakes. It’s one thing to have made them, felt the guilt, tried to repent, and found a way to move forward in your life, but something wholly different to look to the people who once loved you and ask them to do the same. To them, you’re all these things, memories, that make up who they know you to be. When you ask for forgiveness you’re not just asking for people to forget what you’ve done, you’re asking to accept you for the mistakes you’ve made and allow you to move forward in spite of them. Not everyone can do that, and that’s okay, I suppose. But it can be painful.

Very painful.

It’s like, growing pains, but emotionally.

I have to believe people are capable of change, but at the same time, I know that even if M were alive, I’d have a hard time trying to have a relationship with her. I don’t even really know what happened besides the broad strokes. Kitty won’t talk to me about the rest of it. Anna still isn’t talking to me at all, really. I think they think that it’ll hurt me. It’s like. I don’t know. Like they think knowledge of what happened will make it somehow worse that it did happen. But like, these things, they impact me, don’t they? I don’t know if I want all the gory details but I think it would help to have a little context for why I am the way I am.

Not that I have no context at all, and now is more important than then, but still, you know.

The memories are there, somewhere. I. I don’t know if I want them back, exactly. I’d like to read them like a book I can put down whenever it gets too much. Am I making any sense at all?


It’s just strange, I suppose. It’s a strange life.

Maybe if I had the memories back I’d understand why Anna won’t reach out, still. It’s been so many long months, and I know she wanted space and everything but. This much, for this long? I speak with Arlo and they make it sound like Anna just needs time, but at this point, how much time, you know? Surely it gets to a point where what we need is to speak about it all, or never speak again.

And I miss her. I want her in my life. It feels wrong that she’d just be… gone. Like this. I don’t. I just want it to be alright.

If she’d even just explain, you know? Ugh. But it’s fine. I shouldn’t complain, it’s not fair to her. I’m the one who did the bad thing, here. And I know it’s not a punishment that she’s not speaking to me. But it’s hard to remember that when it feels so much like one.


I do have an Augury Forecast for you all this week, Faithful Listeners. I found this one in the microwave, oddly enough. The microwave is pretty new. Oliver has never had one before. He says they make him suspicious. Nothing should be able to cook food that fast which doesn’t use arcane power, he says. Well. Anyway. Here’s the Augury Forecast.

There is calm in the eye of the storm. You cannot love life until you live the life you love.

The crow flies north, against the wind. If your hair is artificially coloured, this week is an auspicious one for new piercings.

Those of you whose name ends in the letter ‘L’ or ‘Y’, be wary of potholes this month.

If you find your life cast in shadow, remember this: there are no shadows in an endless dark, it is the presence of light that casts them.

Seven sparrows settle on the fence. If you are a Scorpio, avoid switching laundry products without doing your research. Everyone can probably benefit from this advice actually.

Change what you can, and know what you cannot.

So concludes the augury forecast! Mixed bag that one. Well. So it goes, I guess.

Arcane things, innit. They’re just sort of like that.

There is magic that isn’t a sort of Monkey’s Paw situation. I’ve seen it. Hell, I’ve done some of it. What are the drawbacks to being able to instantly turn bread into toast? None, I tell you.

I remember once, M said to me that ‘sorrow is a shadow cast by joy’, which, I don’t know. I’ve always thought it was a pretty miserable way of looking at the world, honestly, like happiness comes with an inevitable cost, that any good comes with a necessary price of something bad. She was talking about the arcane, I think. I don’t really remember. It’s in that funny part of my memory where everything is sounds and colours and not much more. At the time I didn’t think much of it that I remember; I don’t think I had the capacity for much thinking then at all, really.

Who knows, honestly?


Magic does have its costs, though. It’s unforeseen and unintended consequences. The less thoroughly you understand a situation you’re trying to intervene with the messier those things can become. Account for all eventualities, that’s the best way to go about it, or the vibes can take a shift in a direction you don’t expect. Even then, I suppose, there’s no avoiding some consequences. M’s parents seemed to try pretty hard to make sure nothing bad went down with her, and they ended up dead and M was. Well. She was M.

How much of who she was is a direct consequence of here parents’ decision? How much of who I am? The consequences are like a snowball rolling down a mountain, picking up more and more mass as they go.

There’s just. There’s so much stuff there. This whole big wodge of ugh that I don’t even know how to unpick. I don’t even know what most of it is, but I know it’s there, and it changes stuff. It changes me. It’s changed Anna and Kitty, too.

If there was a way to just stop it. Halt that giant snowball that’s crashing through all of our lives. I wonder how different we’d all be. How little like the people we understand ourselves as we’d become. I—

It’s like. So much of now is informed by then. So much of then is present, here, now. That’s the thing people don’t understand about ghosts, I think. It’s the ones that are the remains of people that lived before that most people are scared of. Those are the ones they want to talk to, to séance with. But really, its the ghosts of who we ourselves were that haunt us the most. And the ghosts of people who we never were, never had chance to be. Things we missed, decisions made differently, paths we could have walked but never had the chance to.

When you look at the world from the arcane, you can see it all. Dead threads, like ghosts, wrapped around our own. Un-lived lives that stray away from the one we’re living.

Most people don’t call them ghosts at all. They call them regrets.

Sometimes we feel them. In those moments those ghostly threads constrict around the weave of our lives so tightly it’s like our souls are choking on them. The more we notice, the more we try to grab at them, the tighter their hold on us becomes, the stronger their grip is. Sometimes it gets so tight it can make you stop in your tracks, and the weave of your life tangles, knots, folds back on itself. Threads fray from the weave and turn dull and grey and empty. All the light and shimmer of existence is caught up in that knot of the real now enmeshed into the faded impression of things that never were.

I’ve seen this so many times now, I’ve felt the ways the threads tangle. I know it well. I understand it. I can name it, see it, recognise when it’s happening to me. That’s good because it means I can let it go, even if it’s only one shimmering strand at a time, and emerge from the other side.

But the monkey’s paw of it all is that I see it in other people’s threads too. Everyone has moments like this in their lives, some more than others, but. Anna.

Anna’s whole life is a mess of knots like that, knots upon knots, looping back and around, somehow moving forward but I don’t know how because she never lets it go, never puts it down. She treats things that didn’t happen like they should be happening instead. She–

I don’t want to see this about her. I don’t want to know it. I can’t fix it, I can’t make it better, I can’t even make her see. Who she would be without all that is another ghost, isn’t it? Another thing that isn’t. And she’s not static. She carries it all and she doesn’t have to but she is moving forward. She’s living her life.

Even if I’m not in it right now.

You’d think being able to see all this shit would help me understand her but it doesn’t. Not really. Because even though I can witness it in more detail than maybe anyone else I don’t know what it’s like. I can’t know because she won’t tell me.

I just.

When she left before, it wasn’t her fault. None of it was her fault. I know she was trying to live, trying to survive, the only way she knew how. And she was right; she shouldn’t have to be parent to Kitty and I, she shouldn’t! She’s not! But.

Anna has a gift. An arcane gift. She can hear the truth in an instant. Knowing now what M was like, how much of what she said was lies and how much of it was the truth twisted up, I can’t imagine what it was like for her, like having to listen to it all on loudspeaker all the time, the falseness of it blaring out all hours of the day.

It’s not a fair thing to ask, I know. I know.

But I wish I could tell her how I think I’m feeling, just because she’d be able to tell me, you know. She’d be able tell me how much of what I’m telling myself about it all is a lie.

SCOURGE: Interesting, how she’s cut you off.

SAM: Gods. Scourge. Not now.

SCOURGE: There’s no good time to face an inconvenient truth, Sam. Anna walked away because she sees what you refuse to.

SAM: And what’s that?

SCOURGE: You’re not her brother. You’re not even human. You’re something else, something stranger. Something arcane. You’re the son of the unknown itself, rightful Heir to his throne.

SAM: The– the unknown itself?

SCOURGE: King of the Blood Rose Crown. What does it mean, Sam?

SAM: I– I don’t know!

SCOURGE: All those letters, all the little people on your forums, living and dead. Books upon books, notes in the margins, the composite knowledge of more arcanists than has ever been brought together before, and you still haven’t found the answer.

SAM: Shut up!

SCOURGE: Oh, no, you see, this time it’s not because you’re foolish. Quite the opposite, in fact.

SAM: Go away.

SCOURGE: It means nothing.

SAM: Scourge.

SCOURGE: A made up title, plucked out of the air, said again and again, and made powerful.

SAM: I am warning you.

SCOURGE: Repeat a lie enough times and it becomes the truth. But that’s Anna’s gift, isn’t it? She can hear a lie for what it is. That’s how she knows. It’s how she’s sure. Sure that you are what you are. You’re sure too. I can taste it.

SAM: So what am I, then?

SCOURGE: Everything and nothing. Everywhere and nowhere. Heir Apparent to the throne of long repeated lies.




SCOURGE: What– what did you– what was that?


SAM: Get. Out.

SCOURGE: There’s… less of me.





SAM: Don’t look at me like that.

REVEL: Meep.

SAM: I said don’t.


SAM: Wait! Ugh.

Oh, gods, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell. I’m–

It’s not your fault, it’s my fault, all of it is my fault and.

I can’t, I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t.

I’m going to Anna’s place.


Anna? Anna! Are you here?



Guess they’re not home.



So many jars of mud.


Rhytidia. She’s at Rhytidia’s.



Anna! Are you here?


Nobody. Where is everyone?


RHYTIDIA: Oh, Samael. It’s you.

SAM: Yeah. Sorry.

RHYTIDIA: What do you want? You’ve not shown up here during your little broadcast before?

SAM: No. Uh. I was looking for Anna, actually.

RHYTIDIA: Hmm. Yes. She’s been spending a lot of time here with me and the mud.

SAM: Yeah. Arlo mentioned.

RHYTIDIA: I like them too. Little odd, I admit, but they can hear the music in the bubbles, and. Well. That’s enough for me.


SAM: Uh, yeah. Cool. If Anna’s not here, I’ll just go, then.

RHYTIDIA: She just needs some space.

SAM: I know. I know.

RHYTIDIA: So what are you doing here, then?

SAM: I just–

RHYTIDIA: She’s setting a boundary and you’re looking for ways around it. You know, you’re just like your mother.

SAM: [AGHAST] Sorry, what?

RHYTIDIA: If people don’t want to be around you, they don’t have to be.

SAM: I know that, but—

RHYTIDIA: But nothing!


ANNA: Sam?

SAM: Anna.

ANNA: What are you doing here?

RHYTIDIA: He was just leaving.

SAM: Yeah.

ANNA: Sam, wait.

SAM: What?

ANNA: It’s good to see you.

SAM: Yeah. You too.





Oh, damn it I didn’t mean to DO THAT why can’t I do anything RIGHT!








OLIVER: Sam, SAM! Stop breaking things!


OLIVER: Just, stop! Breathe a minute.


OLIVER: What in hells is going on?!

SAM: Rhytidia. What does she know about any of this. About Anna. About M.

OLIVER: Rhytidia? Sam, what are you talking about?

SAM: You know what, she’s never liked me. Not even a little bit. I don’t know why I’ve been bothering trying to make her happy.

OLIVER: Have you been doing that?

SAM: What?

OLIVER: Trying to make Rhytidia Delphus happy.

SAM: I don’t know! No!

OLIVER: Why does it matter if she likes you, anyway?

SAM: She likes Anna.

OLIVER: Well, that’s fine, isn’t it?

SAM: Yeah! Anna’s nice!

OLIVER: Why are you so angry about it, then?


SAM: I don’t know, Oliver! I don’t know! Maybe it’s because she’s– she was M’s lover or whatever and she did nothing to step in and stop what happened to me when I was a kid, and now all she does is criticise me for the way I am, well maybe I would be like this—



OLIVER: She’s– she’s not your mother, Sam.

SAM: I’m not an idiot Oliver, I know she’s not my mother, because my mother was an EVEN BIGGER ARSEHOLE THAN THIS.


OLIVER: Yes. Yes she was.

SAM: And she’s gone and Rhytidia hates me and now all I have is this stupid show and this stupid— me.

OLIVER: Oh, magpie.

SAM: I don’t know what I’m doing any more. I’m so lost. I’m so– I’m just.

OLIVER: It’s alright.

SAM: No! No it isn’t okay! And I wish you’d stop trying to tell me it is. It is so, so far from okay. Everything is on fire all the time and I don’t understand how you’re just acting like it’s fine!

OLIVER: Things have been on fire for me for a long time, magpie.

SAM: So, what, I just get used to? To, just, burning, all the time?

OLIVER: I suppose so, yes.

SAM: I– I don’t believe you.

OLIVER: Magpie. Maybe you just need to take a break, step back from it all. Maybe it’s not as serious as you think it is, terrible as these experiences are.


SAM: I’m sorry, what?


SAM: You’re saying I should just get used to it?!


SAM: You know what, actually? You’re right. I am taking this too seriously. Here.

OLiVER: What are you doing?

SAM: That’s a microphone.

OLIVER: what for?

SAM: Finish the show.

OLIVER: What do you mean?

SAM: I mean what I said. Finish the show.

OLIVER: But. It’s not my show.

SAM: Oh, that doesn’t matter, does it? Because it’s not really that important in the grand scheme of things. Really. Is it. So you do it.

OLIVER: Sam. You’re being ridiculous.


SAM: Sure. Okay. Well. Have fun.

OLIVER: Where are you going?

SAM: Out.

OLIVER: Are you coming back?

SAM: Yes.


SAM: Later.


OLIVER: Later than what.



OLIVER: Yes. Quite.



OLIVER: Should I…?

REVEL: Mrrp.

OLIVER: Okay. Hello?

ANNA: Oliver?

OLIVER: Oh. Anna.

ANNA: This is the Spirit Box Radio line, what are you doing on it?

OLIVER: I honestly have no idea. Sam just… he left.

ANNA: What do you mean he left?

OLIVER: He just got up and walked out.

ANNA: Out of the room?

OLIVER: Out of the flat.

ANNA: Where did he go?

OLIVER: He just said ‘out’.

ANNA: Huh.

OLIVER: Yeah. Why were you calling, Anna?

ANNA: He just came to Rhytidia’s looking for me. I– I’ve been too hard on him, I think. It’s just. Kitty. I don’t know, it’s a lot to process, my sister is an arcane being because my brother brought her back from the dead, there are a lot of swings and roundabouts, a lot to get my head around.

OLIVER: So you were going to apologise?

ANNA: For what?

OLIVER: That’s a no, then.

ANNA: You think I need to apologise for finding it difficult to process my sister becoming, I don’t know, undead!?

OLIVER: No. You need to apologise for stonewalling Sam when his life is going to pieces.

ANNA: Wait, wait, wait. His life is going to pieces? Last time I looked, I was the one engaged to an empty puppet, I was the one left out of the loop when Sam brought back Kitty, which everyone knew about, including you and half the nations arcanists, and I was the only one left behind when everyone went storming off to find the Man in the Flat Cap! Not a word of explanation! And when finally, finally someone bothered to fill me in, it was Kitty, because Sam couldn’t bring himself to tell me about it all to my face!

OLIVER: I got the impression that all happened rather quickly, and they weren’t looking for the Man in the Flat Cap, they were trying to save me.

ANNA: From the Man in the Flat Cap. Same difference.

OLIVER: Aside from everything else, Anna, you’re human. If you’d gone with Sam and the others, you could have been killed.

ANNA: So what, if Sam can just put me back together again like complicated jigsaw?

OLIVER: Do you want that?!

ANNA: Of course I don’t want that, who would want that?!

OLIVER: I can understand your frustration but you have no idea what the past few months have been like. You’ve not been here. You don’t understand.

ANNA: If he’d have just told me—

OLIVER: [WITH THICK SARCASM] Oh, of course, I wonder why he might be apprehensive about sharing things with you. You’ve been so supportive of his choices before.

ANNA: Well you’d know all about that, wouldn’t you? You knew, the entire time you’ve known him, that he was entangled in this conspiracy to end the world or whatever but you didn’t tell him.



SAM: Oh my gods, would you two stop!?


ANNA: You heard that?

SAM: Yes. It’s on the show. The show is me. or. I’m the show. I don’t know how it works, it’s interconnected, ugh whatever! The specifics don’t matter. You’re both being massive cocks.

ANNA: Sam.

SAM: Oh my– are you going to lecture me about swearing, seriously?


SAM: No. No it’s fine. Just. Whatever. Look. Go to sleep. It’s gone three, and you are not a night owl. I’ll see you tomorrow for coffee if you want to talk, when you’re not exhausted and annoyed I showed up at Rhytidia’s which, she was right, was a mistake.

ANNA: Sam–

SAM: Goodnight, Anna.

ANNA: Night.


SAM: And you. Oliver.


SAM: What the hell!?

OLIVER: What?!

SAM: You’re my partner, you’re supposed to. Ugh.

OLIVER: I’m supposed to what?

SAM: I don’t know. I don’t need you to fight my battles. Don’t snap at Anna, it’s not her fault.

OLIVER: I’m sorry.

SAM: No, it’s okay. Just. Why were you so mad?

OLIVER: I don’t know. I don’t like it when people treat you badly.

SAM: Sometimes it’s like you try to do all your feelings about what’s been happening when I’m not around.

OLIVER: No, I don’t.

SAM: ‘you don’t know what it’s been like’? You can’t honestly expect me to believe that wasn’t about what it’s been like to live with me.

OLIVER: I– I didn’t think you’d hear.

SAM: That’s the thing! You don’t need to protect me from your response to all of this. We’re supposed to be a couple. We’re supposed to be a team.

OLIVER: I don’t want you to feel like a burden.

SAM: This! Is what I’m talking about! This bullshit! That’s what makes me feel like a burden! Not you having feelings in response to really difficult shit. Like. Earlier, I got so angry at you because. It’s so clear you’ve been feeling it too, all the stress I’ve been under, but you just won’t acknowledge it, even when it was right there for you to just speak out and talk about it, you didn’t. All of that crap about getting used to being on fire. You aren’t used to it, you just learned to bite back the screaming, and you don’t have to.

OLIVER: I just don’t want to add to everything that’s been going on.

SAM: I promise you’re not. When you talk about stuff, it helps.

OLIVER: I– I don’t know. I just.

SAM: You just what?

OLIVER: This. Is precarious.

SAM: This?

OLIVER: Sam, you are… Sometimes it just feels like this could all be gone any moment. You and I, the way it all is.

SAM: What do you mean?

OLIVER: I mean. Sam. You’re Death. The Ender of Everything.

SAM: Wait. You. You don’t think I’m going to do it?

OLIVER: No. Of course I don’t.

SAM: So what are you saying?

OLIVER: I just– it feels like there’s this precious, tiny instance where you and I can meet and be together, and.

SAM: And what?

OLIVER: I don’t want to lose you.

SAM: Well, the good news is, neither of us can die.


SAM: It’s going to be alright, love. You’re right. But. When you say that like you do, it makes me feel like there’s something wrong with me for being afraid.

OLIVER: There isn’t. Of course there isn’t.

SAM: And there’s nothing wrong with you being afraid either.

OLIVER: Thank you. So/ What now.

SAM: I end the show, I guess.

OLIVER: For good?

SAM: No, just for now.