[A CAT MEOWS]
SAM: I know, dear. I know. Okay, what do we have? Scary bills, replace your windows, take away menu, ah! Mr Samael Enfield, Host of Spirit Box Radio.
Happy birthday Sam! I hope you’re having a good day! Even though I’m all the way in the U.S I’ll still make a cake in a mug for you to help celebrate :-)! I hope you have a good birthday and you spend it with people you love! I’m a really big fan of the radio show, even though I haven’t been an active listener for very long, your broadcast is still my favorite thing to listen to right now.
And…I hope it’s not rude but, I was wondering if you could… I don’t know, give me some advice on something I’ve noticed going on at work? You see, I’m not the most spiritual person ever. I don’t think I’ve ever really even had an interaction with a ghost or spirit or anything before…Until about last week? I don’t know. I thought that getting your opinion on it might help me with things, or at least convince me I didn’t just make the entire thing up like my coworkers say I have. Here’s what happened.
For some context, I work at a grocery store, and it’s…Not that bad! I actually kind of enjoy it sometimes, which is weird for how often I complain about it, haha. I work the night shift in the front end, so I get out of work at around ten most nights, about an hour before the entire store closes. But, because there are only one or two other people on the shift, we start the closing stuff a bit earlier, at about eight or eight thirty. Sometimes it’s a bit later because we wait for the kid who collects carts outside, Jackson, to finish up out there before cleaning. It does take us a while to get this stuff done because we kinda mess around, but to be honest the list of things that needs to get done isn’t that long. We dust everything down, sweep, clean the registers, and then keep the reshops for last.
‘Re-shops’ are just everything the customers didn’t want to buy for whatever reason. It is just a big cart of groceries that sits by the manager’s office that needs to be put back on the shelf before the morning crew comes in. And even though I have been working here for almost half a year, I’m just awful at putting the stuff away. I don’t know what it is about it, I’m at this store for at least twenty hours a week and I shop for my food there, but I can’t ever seem to find the right place for the stuff! My supervisor Tom or Jackson work on them much faster than I do, so I usually end up sweeping or cleaning the registers instead. But, with only three of us to close the store, when it gets busy sometimes I’m the one who does them. And I don’t mind, really I don’t! It’s just part of my job!
There’s a bit of an issue, though. After I eventually get everything put back where it needs to go, the damaged stuff can’t go back on the shelves, so it’s supposed to go in the very back of the store. And, well, it’s really creepy back there. We have boxes and boxes of stuff in storage piled up on each other, and I always feel like it’ll fall right onto me. And the lights are so dim, too? They always seem like they’re flickering, and it’s freezing because we store all the dairy stuff in the back as well. The worst thing about it is that it always seems like someone, or something, is staring directly at you- it’s like as soon as the door shuts behind me, the hair on the back of my neck stands on end. But that doesn’t make sense at all, Sam. No one is ever back there- really, almost every single time I’m putting the damages away, there hasn’t been another person. And when there is someone back there, they look like they’re in a hurry to leave, just like me.
The giant walk-in freezer/fridge thing we keep the dairy in is somehow the creepiest thing, though. It’s this huge off-white door that you can tell used to be bone white but it’s now just a strange brownish-greyish white with chrome hinges, and a weird looking handle that seals in the cold air that still somehow radiates off it in strong, icy waves. I can’t shake the fear I have of being locked in there, which is just irrational. I know it is, but. It’s a creepy fridge, okay? One time I walked past it and I heard this weird knocking sound coming from inside and…Well, I was worried someone got locked in and when I opened it (it took awhile, I always struggle with the handle) there was nothing in there. But, where did the knocking come from? Was I hearing things? I don’t know, ever since then I’ve been trying really hard to ignore any noises from the inside of it. I don’t think it works, because after a long shift, when I go home and lay down to go to bed I still hear those knocks.
It all got much worse after last week. I was the one who was working on reshops- because we’re so understaffed, sometimes Tom has to overwork himself and gets cranky, so I just do them even if it takes the last hour of my shift. It took me a while, but I had some expired yogurt that needed to go in the damaged dairy section inside the creepy fridge (because if we put it out in the open it would just get all nasty, you know?). Anyway, there were no knocking sounds this time, but the feeling of being watched didn’t go away and the air was so cold I could swear I could see my breath fogging up even before I entered the fridge. I left the door open, and the damaged dairy box is right by the doorway, so it would just be an in-and-out job. I was just gonna put it in there and be done with it!
Inside was the same as it usually was, just stacks and stacks of pallets holding milk and other dairy products, even some eggs. There was no scary freezer monster that I created in my mind. It was empty, just like the scary back room. I was about to put the yogurt away and I am not lying about this next thing. There was a voice, all creaky, whispered and disembodied.
“That expired on the twenty-fifth, it’s the thirtieth. You should throw that out…” It whispered, right into my ear. It’s breath was cold, so, so cold, against my neck even in the cold walk-in fridge. Even though we’re not really supposed to throw out the expired stuff, I just did what the voice said. Somehow it seemed to know what was best for the yogurt? I told Tom everything when I got back, but he said I’ve been watching too many horror movies.
What really bothers me is that ever since then, the damaged dairy stuff has been going missing from the re-shops cart. And I think it’s the walk-in ghost, even though Tom doesn’t believe me. On one hand, it is very helpful to not have to bring the stuff to the back, but…On the other hand, if it’s aiding us in doing work, shouldn’t it be on the payroll as well? How would we even go about paying a ghost?
Any and all advice is well appreciated,
Faithful listener KC
(and, once again, have a really good birthday Sam! You deserve it!)
So sweet! The happy birthdays, not the fridge monster. I’ve never seen a walk-in fridge. I can’t picture it. Or. Well. I’m just picturing an ordinary fridge but bigger and that doesn’t feel right. Like, you’d need ladders for all of the different–
[THUD AND SHATTER]
Eggroll! My sandwich.
SAM: Honestly, baby, what do you have against the crockery? Unbelievable.
I don’t know how you’d deal with payrolling a ghost. It’s something I’ve put a lot of thought into recently what with Regular Caller Beth and that, but. I just don’t know. It feels so exploitative. But they’re just doing what it is they want to do. It’s not like they could exchange money for goods and services, really. Okay, uh, a pen. A pen…
SAM: Thank you Revel, darling. [SLOWER, READING AS HE WRITES] Try to make a system for communication. Try fridge poetry. [NORMAL AGAIN]. I’ll finish that later.
What else is in the pile of post? Uhhh, more bills. A scrap of bloody fabric. You know, I really thought we’d stop getting these but whatever. Oh, another letter!
Happy Birthday Sam! Just wanted to thank you for how honest and upfront you are when you host the show! It certainly makes me feel more comfortable with some of the strange goings on in my life… I work as a baby sitter and just the other day, Charlotte, the little girl I look after, stopped mid finger painting to stare deep into my eyes for a minute before saying “your heartbeat isn’t yours, it’s mine and I’ll take it back when I’m ready”. She says stuff like this all the time, usually macabre and always out of the blue! Anyway I’d find my job a lot more isolating and upsetting if I didn’t have The SBR advice and community segment, hearing people share the weird stuff in their lives helps me feel really connected and like my life isn’t so strange after all, especially not compared to yours Sam! Anyway, have a lovely day and keep up the good work!!
Tulia (like Julia with a t)
Aha, what a creepy little kid. Um. Dear Tulia. Hope you’re having a great day. Thank you so much for the birthday wishes and —- EGGROLL DO NOT CHEW THE PAPER!
SAM: Get out of here you daft thing. Go on. Go.
Sorry about the freaky kid they’re just like that sometimes I think? That’ll do.
Okay, um, oh! Another one.
Dear Mr. Enfield,
I can’t imagine that you would actually read my letter, but I thought I’d write just in case. We here at the Society of Unusual Phenomenon have listened to Spirit Box Radio for a while now. We would like to extend our sincerest condolences on Madam Marie’s departure from this physical plane, and to reassure you that while this sort of thing does seem to happen from time to time, we have great faith that eventually you will be able to contact her, or at least find peace and acceptance in the silence.
We’d also like to thank you for continuing to provide Spirit Box Radio as a service, along with all the computers and the forums and advice, even if the technology has been acting up a bit of late. Many of our older, more traditional members are still a bit confounded by the technology, but those of us in the younger cohort try to keep them updated as best we can. We do all appreciate the actual Spirit Box itself, and have made use of it on many occasions to what we feel is good effect, which is what brings me to the rest of this letter.
We were using the service a few weeks ago, and kept getting a very strong reponse to our questions. It wasn’t an answer to our questions, mind you, but the voice that came through was very clear and purposeful. In fact, it sounded like one of those letter stations you hear about, where the Russians were supposedly using codes to send messages during the Cold War. It was a single voice, sounding a little bit like a little girl, reciting sets of numbers and letters over and over.
Finally, we all sat down and noticed that the letters were always the same: N, E, S, W. Same with the numbers. They were always in three sets of two. Taylor got real smart, and pointed out that that’s how you usually do latitude and longitude, so xe sat down and started plotting the points out on the map. These coordinates were all over the world, but one was near to us, up east of us in the National Forest. So we got a wild hair, and a few of us drove out, and hiked up through the woods all day.
When we got there, it was just getting towards dusk, and there was nothing around except a set of concrete stairs that went up about 20 feet into the air. No signs of other buildings, or anything, just the not-quite-grey cement stairs with this almost green sheen. Well, Taylor got real bold, and decided to try and climb them, but a few steps up, xe turned around and came right back down and said xeir feet were just freezing, like being barefoot in snow. I felt Taylor’s hands and feet myself, and they were definitely very cold to the touch. So I decided to go up too, and the concrete was like stepping into freezing water. But my curiosity was up, so I went ahead and went the rest of the way. By the time I got to the top of the steps and stood on that landing hanging high above the pine needles, I was shaking like I was naked in the middle of a snowstorm. And it felt like I was 100 feet up, not just 20. And I just kept staring down off the top of that platform, at the ground so far below, wondering what it’d feel like to jump, how it would feel like falling until… until.
Suffice to say, I didn’t find out. Taylor came on up with Tilly, and got me back down. While I was up messing around, those two had noticed there was a small hollow place at the foot of the stair, and in that hollow was an ammo can. It wasn’t locked or anything, so we had a peek inside, and inside we found a letter, which I’ve enclosed. You’ll see from the mark on the envelope why we sent it, I think. The letters are sort of faded and smeared looking, but we’re all pretty sure it says ‘To SA Enfield’. I confess, I opened it since it wasn’t actually sealed, and looked at what was inside, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. It looks like an astrological chart of some sort, and an interpretation typed up on an old style typewriter. I’ve showed it around to a few of my more discrete, knowledgeable friends: diviners, cartomancers, oracles and the like and none of them could quite puzzle it out either. It looked like there’d been something else in the envelope too, at one point, like…cards or something. Bigger than a business card, but smaller than a playing card, but they weren’t there when we opened it.
Anyway, I’ve probably drug on too long. The team would like to wish you a happy upcoming birthday and a continued return to good health. Keep up the good work, and please let us know if the SOUP team t-shirt we’ve included fits.
Esco “Cozy” Zacherle [zach-er-lee]
Society of Unusual Phenomenon (SOUP)
Long Hollow [holler], West Virginia, USA
Huh, okay. Well, looks like the contents of enclosed letter include a few sheets of very thin, translucent paper with heavy typewritten words, a hand drawn astrological chart dated 13 Nov 1998 at 3am in Rhyl, Wales, and the impression of cards, but no actual cards…
The desert island calls comfortably to your natal Saturn in Aries, but beware: you have been tasked with building your personality to suit your growing nature. These fanciful utopias you’ve built for yourself, this tentative stalling no longer serves you.
The ruins scattered upon that island are your stumbling block, those things that lie in opposition to your comfort. Your natal Saturn casts a withering eye upon a broken house and a bad beginning. You are hampered by superstition, out of date methods, failure, and setbacks.
High above, your force majeure looks down with seven burning eyes, which are the candleflames of intelligence that scribe words of wisdom, intelligence, and science into the Great Book. Your natal Mercury, perched in Sagittarius, blends well here, underscoring your native optimism. You are always excited to talk and discuss things with others, but beware the ears not meant to hear.
Below the gaze of the Great Eyes are all possible futures, a dining table laid out with every pleasure and every excess known to man. A great amphora, bigger than a man, spills its contents out onto the surface, mingling virtues and vices into an inextricable mire. An invitation has been sent.
Two cockerels, who are neither bird nor fire, square off amidst the plenty, their crowns held high, their wings spread wide, their tails raised in challenge. They blaze with rage and vexation and courage. It is a fight to the death, which causes your native Mars to go after himself to achieve his ends.
Freaky. Hmm. One for the ‘I’ll deal with that later’, stack don’t you think? Oh. Cosmo, dear, you’re not supposed to be filed there, are you? Don’t look at me like that. You’ve already had food. I know. I was there. I was the one that fed you. Come on, now, move.
Thank you. Right. Yes.
Oh! I post card, I wonder if it’s from Kitty? No. From a Faithful Listener.
Happy birthday! I hope this letter doesn’t reach you too late. It’s been such a very long year for you, and I hope that you can find some moments of peace in your next.
As I write this to you, my partner sleeps next to me. When I look over at them, I find myself caught in the calm of their rest. It’s a funny thing – I’ve seen him so many times, in so many ways, yet I still find myself enraptured by this moment of peacefulness for them. Usually It is.. very worried about all the things that could go wrong, that might happen.. but in this moment, he’s released from that. I hope that you’re able to find moments of serenity where you can just, exist. Whether it’s in your moments of rest, like them – or whether it’s found in the moments you’re able to just take the time to see your boyfriend’s smile, his happiness, his thoughtfulness, and more. You deserve it.
Happy birthday, friend.
Oh, well that’s just very sweet and nice and lovely, isn’t it? I should go to the shops and find a nice postcard to send back, shouldn’t I?? Oh, but there’s no return address. Hmm. I don’t know.
Another letter from me.
As a long time listener and forum lurker, please allow me to offer my sincerest condolences regarding the untimely death of Madam Marie. You have carried the show beautifully and I commend you for your efforts maintaining the community segment. I’m writing to tell you of a strange occurrence that happened in my shop nearly two years ago. Recent discussions regarding the “blood rose” have caused me to look at the event with fresh eyes and you may see why I have reason for concern.
I am a full time tattoo artist with my own shop named, “The Foxhole”. A young woman came to me with a drawing of a rose and asked if she could make an appointment to have it tattooed on her forearm. It was meant to be an artistic eulogy to the loss of her little sister in a house fire. The rose was..a rose. I have inked as many as a thousand roses into the skin of patrons over the years. No, it was the characters that encircled the leaves and stem like thread that gave me pause. I asked the woman where she’d gotten the design and she said her sister had traced it from a book in her Aunt’s library. She could not recall the name of the book and had no other information, other than it burned with the rest of the house.
I agreed to perform the tattoo, but only after I researched the symbols a little more. More than once, an eager client has presented me with kanji characters proclaiming they mean “Power” only to learn it translates to something more like “Glue Stick”. For two nights I searched for the characters online to no avail. It’s fortunate that I hadn’t discovered your forums at this time, as I would have likely posted a picture of the drawing.
I could find no reason not to perform the tattoo. The client was booked, the ink was carefully needled into her skin, and she was sent home with recovery instructions and a bandage.
A week later, the woman returned to proudly show me her healed skin. She was elated with the results, and to my astonishment, so was I. I had never seen an ink so vividly red as what she was showing me now. Fresh tattoos are often vibrant, yes, but this? The rose seemed to be plush for the plucking. I could almost smell the petals.. She allowed me to photograph her arm for my portfolio, thanked me again for the work and I bid her farewell.
Another week passed and I received an email from the woman. It seems that she was having a bit of a reaction on the site of her tattoo. I advised her to apply a cold compress to reduce the swelling and be sure to apply an antihistamine. Should any other problems persist, she should contact her general practitioner.
The following day proved to be one I will never forget. I was washing my hands in preparation for a session when the woman burst in the front door. She was sweating profusely with hair stuck to her brow and had a towel wrapped around her arm. I could not help but notice red seeping through the folds of terry cloth. She could scarcely speak through what could only be pain but began to unwrap the towel. I remember my heart ceasing for a few seconds at the sight – thorns were pushing through green, mottled skin on the stem of the rose.The arm was horrifically swollen and yet I could not help but notice how the shape accented the delicate lips of the rose petals. The color was impossibly more beautiful and lifelike. The sweat of her distended skin leant itself as delicate dewdrops on a misty morning. She cried in pain and I saw another thorn free itself of her epidermis shell. I am ashamed to say that In my panic, I could only draw away with fascinated horror. She must have seen that I could not help because with a frustrated cry, she turned and fled out the door. Too cowardly to follow, I locked the door and turned off the lights.
I learned in the following days that the woman had been discovered by a friend in her garden. A rosebush had mysteriously grown around and in some cases, through her. Roses grew from her mouth, her eyes, and rooted her hands and feet to the ground. The roses that were photographed at the scene were crimson in color and some of the most beautiful roses that anyone had ever seen. The bush had to be hacked and dismantled in order to untangle the body.
I burned the photo I’d put in my portfolio book and deleted it from my social media. I worry that the image of the rose may still be out there somewhere, tempting someone to etch it into their skin so it can take root again. Please urge your listeners to take this story to heart. Research your art before you put it into your skin and perhaps choose a flower in the world other than a rose.
Read you on the forums.
Bloody hell, roses are coming up everywhere at the moment, I do sort of wonder. Seems like every couple of weeks someone sends something in, seeing a strange rose somewhere. It’s hard to work out if they’re all connected.
I don’t really have a system for whether or not things are related to the Man in the Flat Cap when they’re concerned with the roses. It’s not really reliable to ask people if they’re all Black Baccara because most people don’t know what a Black Baccara is and in terms of species of rose they’re actually a fairly recent invention. I dunno. Probably not work thinking about.
Well, I should probably send thanks to Foxworth for this one. Post something on the forums, just so everyone knows… keep an eye out for the thing…
Hmmm… just… have a look. Wait. What? But I haven’t been able to broadcast for weeks, I’ve tried but I just can’t get it to wo—-
The letter about cursed calendars was by Kal Chapman (they/them). The story of being hunted by Apophis was by SeThe letter about the dairy-saavy ghost was by KC (she/her). Tulia’s letter about a stolen heartbeat was by Clue (they/them). The letter from Esco at the Society of Unusual Phenomenon was by JF Standhope (they/them). The soft letter to Sam was by Sterling Moss (they/them). The letter from Foxworth Langdon is by Jess Beauchamp, a fabulous artist and friend of the show whose work you can find here: https://linktr.ee/kahahuna
- Mild existential horror
- Creepy kids
- Discussions of death and dying
- Very mild implied threat of ambiguous danger
- Graphic description of injury to skin (brief, concerning thorns piercing skin)
- Graphic (but not gory) description of a dead person in a bizarre state