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Episode Fifty-Three: FINAL

Hello and welcome to the Mistholme Museum of Mystery, Morbidity and Mortality. This audio tour guide will be your constant companion in your journey through the unknown and surreal.

As you approach our exhibits, the audio tour guide will provide you with information and insights into their nature and history.

Do not attempt to interact or communicate with the exhibits.

Do not attempt to interact or communicate with the audio tour guide. If you believe that the audio tour guide may be deviating from the intended tour program, please consider adjusting your preconceived notions of what the intended tour program may be!

While the staff here at Mistholme Museum of Mystery Morbidity and Mortality do their absolute best to ensure the safety of all visitors, accidents can happen. The museum is not liable for any injury, death, or unreasonably long gaps between seasons that may occur during your visit.

Enjoy your tour.

And good luck.

A Plan

[This scene is occasionally underscored by the sound of Restoration shuffling a deck of cards]

 

Restoration:

So. How are you?

 

Retrieval:
Yeah. Okay. You?

 

Restoration:
Fine. Been busy, but… I’ve been busier. Oh, any update on the… Fairies?

 

Retrieval:
Well, no, not really. Things have been quiet. Still guarding the shelter with their Glassway, but we’re not going to their side without good reason. There’s a monitoring station setup there, but all it’s recorded so far is nature sounds.

 

Restoration:
Well that’s… peaceful. Could sell recordings at the Museum’s Gift Shop, sort of a relaxation aid. 

 

Retrieval:
Yeah. I mean, so long as we don’t get into the context and all. Not so relaxing.

 

Restoration:
Hm. Not so relaxing. 

 

Retrieval:
You end up doing anything with the bell the Guide got off the… Fairy Queen?

 

Restoration:
No, not as such. The Head of Research had it for a while, but I came to check on her and it was just gathering dust on her desk. I think her other project is still occupying most of her time.

 

Retrieval:
Yeah, that fits. You haven’t… rung it, have you?

 

Restoration:

Oh, haven’t you heard it? I thought it would be cute on the Curator’s Cat’s Collar so he’s been jingling up and down the halls. Quite a pretty sound.

 

Retrieval:
Yeah ok, stupid question. 

 

Restoration:

Hm. Anyway, now it’s gathering dust in the Restoration Department instead. Had a worry she would knock it off her desk. Probably a bit condescending but…

 

Retrieval:
Yeah. So, do you know if we’re expecting the Heads of Research or Patronage?

 

Restoration:
I assume not.

 

Retrieval:

Right. Yeah, that’s fair, that’s… Sorry, is that… Are those… Walt’s cards?

 

Restoration:
Hm? Oh. Yes, sorry. I can stop if it’s distracting.

 

Retrieval:
Nah, just… Kind of assumed those went when he did. He left them behind?

 

Restoration:
Apparently. I found them a couple of weeks ago. I forget where.

 

Retrieval:
I see. So you just… keep them around, now?

 

Restoration:
Well, it feels wrong to throw them away. And it’s sort of… relaxing, just shuffling them sometimes. Destress a little.

 

Retrieval:
What’s got you stressed?

Restoration:
Mostly the things the cards tell me.

 

Retrieval:
Oh. Walt, uh, used them to tell the future, right?

 

Restoration:
I think it was more like, they showed him the path he should take. No idea it worked for him. He just… tossed them on a table and read the result, somehow.

 

Retrieval:
Right. Well, deal me in. 

 

Restoration:
Here you go.

 

Retrieval:
This is… Uh, this appears to be the Death tarot card.

 

Restoration:
Yes, that one’s been coming up a lot lately.

 

Retrieval:
I thought it was just a normal Playing Card deck. 

 

Restoration:
It is.

 

Retrieval:
Uhuh.

 

Restoration:
Don’t worry, it doesn’t necessarily mean “death”, it can also mean “transformation” or-

 

Retrieval:
Thanks, yeah, I know what it means.

 

Restoration:
Would you like another card?

Retrieval:

No, I think we should just get started.

 

Restoration:
Well, go on then.

Retrieval:

I don’t have anything to… didn’t you call this meeting?

 

Restoration:

No, I thought you…

 

Restoration/Retrieval:

Guide?

 

Guide:
Yes! Hi, sorry, just a little… Multitasking, sorry!

 

Restoration:
Did you call a meeting, Guide?

 

Retrieval:
Isn’t multitasking it’s main thing at this point?

 

Guide:
Yep! Sorry, just a little… I’ll be there in a second, sorry.

 

Retrieval:
Isn’t it already… here?

 

Restoration:
Sorry, Guide, you did arrange this meeting, or-

 

Guide:
Yes! Yes, I did arrange it. Sorry, am I- am I not allowed to-

 

Restoration:

No no, it’s fine, I mean you’ve never done it before is all. And… Well, I guess we’re used to you being a bit like another department head yourself at this point.

 

Guide:
Right! Yeah, sorry, I just… Yeah, kind of assumed.

 

Restoration:
So, what’s wrong, are you…

 

Retrieval:
Are you nervous, Guide?

 

Guide:

[Whispering] A little.

 

Restoration:
Why are you nervous, what’s this about?

 

Guide:
I- how about I just start the meeting. The Head of Research is busy, and the Head of Patronage… Honestly I think at this point he’s excusing himself from this kind of thing on purpose.

 

Retrieval:
What’s “this kind of thing”, Guide?

 

Guide:
Right! Yeah. So, I’ll call this meeting to order. We have present the Audio Tour Guide for the Mistholme Museum. Uhh, that’s me, present. The Head of Restoration?

 

Restoration:
[Dubiously] Present.

 

Guide:
And the Head of Retrieval?

 

Retrieval:

[Amused] Present.

 

Guide:

 Great! Okay. So, I’ve called you all- both, I’ve called you both here to talk about a potential plan of action. 

 

Restoration:
Okay. Which of our many problems were you thinking of addressing? The Wish Engine, The Man with the Voice, the Fairies, the business with that… entity that you and Professor Montgomery encountered?

 

Retrieval:
The Museum’s finances?

 

Guide:
Ha. No, uhh, I was actually thinking we could take another crack at what happened with Security. 

 

Retrieval:
Sorry, was that not related to the thing with Walt?

 

Guide:
Uh, not directly, in the end, no. Different, kind of similar thing. What I mean is, I want to take another crack at figuring out what happened to the Security Department on the other side of their Glassway. Get some definitive answers to that whole situation.

 

Restoration:
Okay. And I’m guessing you have an idea of how we might do that?

 

Guide:
Yes. I’ve… Well, I’ve brought in a consultant.

 

Restoration:
Oh, I see.

 

Retrieval:
That didn’t exactly work out last time.

 

Guide:
Well, that wasn’t exactly the same. Walt sought us out, we didn’t… or, I guess his cards told him to find us? I was never really clear on how that worked. Anyway, this is… this is us taking the initiative, like we keep saying we need to. We need focus, we need a specific course of action, so I’ve come up with one.

 

Restoration:
Okay. So, who did you want to bring on board?

 

Guide:
Uh. I, kind of… Well, I actually already did. Bring someone on board, that is.

 

Restoration:
What’s wrong, why the build up?

 

Guide:

I- sure, okay, I’ll cut to the chase. Sending her in now.

 

[A door opens]

 

Amina:
I like the buildup, very dramatic. Hey there!

 

Retrieval:
Hello.

 

Restoration:
Hi, it’s nice- oh, we’ve met haven’t we?

 

Amina:
Yeah, I came in when I donated some stuff, told you how to take care of it. You haven’t been using soap on her cauldron have you?

 

Restoration:
We don’t tend to use soap on our exhibits, generally speaking.

 

Retrieval:
Ah, I’m at a disadvantage here, sorry. 

 

Amina:
Name’s Amina. What’s yours?

 

Retrieval:
The Head of Retrieval. Nice try. 

 

Amina:
Good. Just making sure I’m not working with amateurs here. 

 

Retrieval:
You gave me your name.

 

Amina:
Yeah, but I’ve had my name Warded so it’s fine. That’s what one of these tattoos is for, can’t remember which.

 

Retrieval:
Is it the one that says “Amina”?

Amina:
No, actually, that one’s just for fun.

 

Restoration:

I’m sorry, Amina, as lovely as it is to see you, I assume you- or the Guide, one of you has a plan here?

 

Guide:
Oh! Right, yes, sorry. So, the place where the Security Department went during the Lockdown. We know that something happened there which made the Security Department into some kind of… Hive Mind, or it brought them into one- again, we don’t really know. We hoped that, working with Professor Montgomery, we would find out, but unfortunately that was a separate matter. So, it’s time we go right to the source: I think we should go to the… “Beach” ourselves. 

 

Retrieval:
Right. But, the reason we haven’t gone there is because the Glassway in the Security Shelter isn’t a Glassway anymore. It’s just a mirror. 

 

Restoration:
And we don’t know what the- what was done to it, in order to turn it into a Glassway in the first place. 

 

Guide:
Yeah, exactly. So, that’s why I’ve brought… Amina in.

 

Amina:
Hi.

 

Guide:
My thought is, we need to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible. The best way to do that is to just… go to the source! But we can’t, there’s an obstacle in our way. So, we need to get around that obstacle, and it’s an esoteric obstacle- like, literally involving magic- so we bring in an expert.

 

Amina:
Ooh, expert, I like that.

 

Guide:
Um. You’re welcome!

 

Retrieval:
Right, so, to be clear: you’ve decided we need to stop being so indirect in our investigation, so you want to go straight to the heart of the issue, but we can’t so instead we’ll need to take an indirect route?

 

Guide:
It’s not- it’s not like that, it’s… we’re not being indirect, I just brought in some help to deal with the issue directly!

 

Restoration:
Stop teasing it.

 

Retrieval:
Sorry, sorry.

 

Guide:
Thank you. And, so, you know, this all, ah, I’ve been mulling this over, trying to think who could help with this. And then, when I was taking someone on a tour, we went by something that used to belong to Amina’s Aunty- uh, a walking stick?

 

Amina:
That one’s not even magic or anything, I just didn’t know what else to do with it.

 

Guide:
Ha! Yeah, sure. Um. So, I realised, quote, “Oh, I already know of an expert in this sort of esoteric thing, I’ll just call Amina and see if she can help”, unquote. And, you know, I… My mind, or, my memory banks, the Museum’s mainframe is connected to it- or- Sorry! Getting a little tongue-tied, so to speak. Ha. All I’m saying is, the Museum has been in contact with you before, Amina, and now I have all the information in the Museum’s systems as a part of me, now, and that’s why I had your number. 

 

Amina:
Okay. 

 

Guide:
Where was I. Right! So, I mean, it’s not that complicated, I just thought Amina might be able to… reactivate the Security Glassway, or give us some insight into that whole… thing.

 

Retrieval:
Right.

 

Restoration:
Well, we’re happy to have you, Amina.

 

Amina:
Sure, sounds like fun. Cannibalism and people coming back from the dead, my kind of museum.

 

Restoration:
If you wouldn’t mind, would it be alright if the Guide showed you the way to the Break Room and we’ll come get you when we’re ready to get started? Just a few things we need to sort out.

 

Amina:
Cool. Is there catering or…?

 

Restoration:
…How do you feel about lasagne?

 

Amina:
Is it vegan?

 

Restoration:
Technically.

 

Amina:
Okay, well, can’t wait to find out what that means. Guide on, Guide!

 

[Door closes]

 

Guide:
So! What do you think?

 

Retrieval:
She seems fun.

 

Guide:
Yeah! She really knows her stuff, too. 

 

Retrieval:
Happy for you, Guide.

 

Guide:
What does that mean.

 

Retrieval:
Nah, it’s cute. You’ve got a little crush. 

 

Guide:
What- no! You- stop that, no. You’ve said that before, I don’t even know what it means.

 

Restoration:
You can hear it blushing, fascinating.

 

Guide:
Stop! No, I don’t have a- a crush, I just think she’s really cool!

 

Retrieval:
Yeah, sure, that can be part of it. You were all flustered during your presentation, nervous in front of her. It’s normal.

 

Guide:
NO! No, I don’t have a- she’s in exhibits! More than one, she’s basically a celebrity and she’s here! Isn’t that cool?
 

Restoration:
You’re in an exhibit too, Guide.

 

Guide:
Yeah, but that’s different, it’s not- Oh now you’ve spoiled it, I thought you were both going to be excited about this, I thought it was a really good idea.

 

Restoration:
No, it is a good idea. Really.

 

Retrieval:
Yeah, I mean, I like her more than the prof… Yeah, she seems good. 

 

Restoration:

Just, in future, you would normally run this past the rest of us before hiring an outside consultant.

 

Guide:
Oh. Sorry.

 

Restoration:
That’s okay! I’m glad to have Amina’s expertise, but, again, just in future. We don’t really have a firm spot for you in the hierarchy, such as there is one, but you know. Good to discuss it in advance, send an email.

 

Guide:
Yeah, that’s fair. I guess I kind of forget, you know, with how crazy things can be here that it’s also a business. Technically. 

 

Retrieval:

Yeah, that’s something, are we paying her…?

 

Guide:
Oh, yes, she requested a single hair from the head of every staff member.

[Beat]

Oh she was joking, wasn’t she?

 

Retrieval:
Yeah I’m gonna call that “witch humour”. 

 

Guide:
Right. Um. I can ask her…

 

Restoration:
I’ll ask her for you, don’t worry.

 

Guide:
Thank you. I mean, it would just be-

 

Restoration:

It’s fine. 

 

Retrieval:
I’ll get some people together, have them ready at the Security Shelter in case things get weird.

 

Guide:
Okay! Great, I’m glad this is… off to a good start.

 

Restoration:
Yes. Good work, Guide, it’s a good idea. Really.

 

Guide:

Thanks.

[The door closes]

It’s not a crush.

 

The Tapestry of the Dreamers

 

Ah. Beautiful, isn’t it? The tapestry that runs the length of this corridor contains every colour the eye can see, and many that it can’t, in order to depict an intricate and dreamlike panorama of abstract imagery. While the design is set, and does not shift, everyone who sees it claims to see something else at first- though this is simply due to its amazing complexity meaning that everyone’s gaze is drawn to a different part. I could attempt to describe the Tapestry in greater detail, but the fact of the matter is that even attempting to do so would take upwards of a week, and I might interpret parts of it differently to how you would. I will note, however, that there is one detail that all viewers notice sooner or later: A series of faces, almost hidden amongst the intricate flourishes and implications, that reveal themselves once the viewer is sufficiently familiar with the design. 

 

There are currently fourteen faces, spanning many of the genders and ethnicities that humanity has to offer. Their faces are serene. Peaceful. Many visitors find that they have a calming influence, a feeling of warmth and familiarity that they can’t quite place. They certainly haven’t met these people before, physically speaking. But it’s possible that they might have glimpsed them in their sleep. These faces belong to a line of people called “The Dreamers.” They were, or perhaps are, individuals who deserve to be acknowledged and thanked, by all humanity. But the reason why will take some explanation.


I don’t dream, as such. I don’t sleep, and on the rare occasions where I go offline the subroutines that remain active aren’t responsible for the sort of thing that would allow for anything like dreaming. But you probably dream. It’s something universal to humanity, and some animals, a state in which the body rests but the mind remains active to an extent. Dreams are a state of mind. Dream is where your mind goes while in that state. Dream is a place that exists outside of and in between realities, spread out among all the minds that are capable of visiting. Some have compared it to a distributed computing system, where a number of distinct systems are connected to form a greater whole. But that doesn’t seem to be the full picture. Because Dream appears to have existed long before Humanity did, at least in your current state. It is a shifting, strange place that cannot easily be studied, so it is possible we will never fully understand it- despite the fact that every member of the Research Department visits there every night, along with everyone else. Anything and everything can happen in dreams, and in Dream, and so where would one even begin to study?

 

The human mind appears to have a deep, ancient connection to Dream, going back millenia. But it is not a place where the human mind belongs. The human mind belongs to the waking world, and while you may visit Dream thousands and thousands of times in your life you will always return when you wake up. Unless you don’t. Dying in one’s sleep is often cited as being one of the best ways one can die, peaceful and blissfully unaware of the transition that is taking place. In a way, this may well be true. But it is also an oversimplification. Because while the human mind does not belong in Dream, there are… beings that do. They live there, if they can be said to live, lurking in between the thoughts of the dreaming, sometimes feeding in some twisted way upon the fears of humans who stray too far into Dream. They might cause nightmares, or they might be Nightmares, it is another thing that’s almost impossible to discern. But for the most part they can’t do much more than cause some tossing and turning in bed or a frightened awakening. Humans don’t belong in Dream, so their connection is always tenuous and ready to be broken simply by awakening.

 

But if one dies while their mind is within Dream… They don’t have a way out. They are trapped, alone and without an escape, until the Nightmares find them and devour them, or perhaps something worse than that. As one Researcher put it, quote, “If you die in real life you die in the dream” unquote. I don’t quite understand it, but it got a laugh so I keep using it, and it’s not a bad way of describing the situation.

 

Or at least, that used to be the situation. Some centuries ago, a secretive Order whose name is unknown- though Researchers have taken to calling them The Order of the Dreamers- decided that enough was enough. Through unknown means, they located an individual whose connection to Dream was particularly- incredibly- strong, and performed a ritual. This person, the woman whose face is the leftmost of the faces hidden among the Tapestry, came to be known as the First Dreamer. She went to sleep, and never woke again. For decades she slumbered in a secret location somewhere in the world, dreaming all the while- but not in the same way that most people dream. This was a special dream- a dream within Dream, a first for that bizarre realm: a place where Humans belong. You have never been there, and you might never. But if you die in your sleep- hopefully many years from now- you will go there, forever. You will dream forever, free from the torment or oblivion of the Nightmares, in a gentle and strange place that is familiar and unlike any you have seen before in your waking hours. 

 

When a Dreamer dies, they too will go to Dream- naturally, as dying in their sleep is the only possible end to their story. And, their duty fulfilled, they will finally taste the fruit of their labours, lingering forever in the world they maintained. The nature of the Dreamer’s Dream means that they cannot rest for as long as they sleep, as all their being goes into maintaining the Dream and protecting its inhabitants. And, with their passing, a new Dreamer assumes their role. In the Museum’s limited interactions with the Order behind all this, they assured us that the Dreamers are willing and eager volunteers. We can do little but hope that this is true, as it is a worthy cause. But, looking at this Tapestry, which the Order gave to us in a show of good faith, one can see the love and admiration the creators had for the Dreamers. The deep respect and appreciation for what they did for humanity. This tapestry is a monument to the lives the Dreamers sacrificed for people they never met, an acknowledgment that humanity at large will never be able to thank the Dreamers adequately for that they do. All we can do is thank them, grateful for what they do and secure in the knowledge that, when they finally go to Humanity’s Dream, they go there as a hero, to a hero’s welcome that lasts forever. 

A Cup Of Tea

 

Research:
Okay, you ready?

 

Guide:
Yes. Recording equipment is active. Teacup is… Uh, present. We’re all set!

 

Research:
Okay. Wish Engine? I wish for the teacup which is currently resting on the floor in front of me at a distance of approximately one metre to be filled- when I finish the sentence I am currently speaking- with sencha tea, brewed to the specifications of the International Organisation of Specifications’ “ISO 3103”

 

The Wish Engine:
YOUR WISH IS GRANTED.

 

Research:

Yes. Ok. Yeah, that’s…

 

Guide:
It appears to have… worked. Well, the teacup is filled with liquid which resembles- visually- a cup of green tea. I- ma’am I’m not sure you should-

 

Research:

[Sips] Mm. Yeah, that’s tea alright.

 

Guide:

I thought we agreed that unnecessary risk taking would-

 

Research:
Oh come on, Guide, the specification doesn’t include poison or anything, it’s just tea.

 

Guide:
Nonetheless, I don’t think-

 

Research:
Guide. It worked. This is a normal-ass cup of tea, just like I asked for. It’s not the letter T or the wrong colour or taste, it’s what I asked for. The specificity of the standard worked.

 

Guide:
Yes. You’re making progress.

 

Research:

We’re making progress, Guide. I was thinking of the Wish Engine as if it was just this thing in this room, like I needed to teach it the boundaries. It was your idea to use some pre-existing ones. 

 

Guide:
I just figured that if it can do anything, presumably it knows everything too. 

 

Research:
Yeah. It’s a starting point. First one I’ve had with this thing to be honest. 

 

Guide:
Happy to help. There’s thousands of entries in their database so we shouldn’t be wanting for anything.

 

Research:
What do you mean?

 

Guide:
Well, so long as we stick to the specifications, we can wish for anything we need. And, we can probably expand that to other things-

 

Research:
It’s not about wishing for things we want, Guide- and honestly it wouldn’t really be responsible.  

 

Guide:
How so?

 

Research:
Let’s say… let’s say we wish for enough food to end world hunger. That seems like it would be a good thing- but this thing creates matter out of nothing. So we’d be adding a huge amount of biomass to the world out of nowhere.

 

Guide:
Right. So, we’d risk throwing some things out of balance.

 

Research:

Yeah, that’s an understatement. It’s part of why it’s been taking me so long, it’s baby steps to make sure I don’t do anything… Irrevocable, you know? But this… this is a foothold. We can build from this. [sip] Hm. I wish that this cup of tea had a drop of peppermint extract in it. [shattering sound] Ah shit. God damn it.

 

Guide:
Ma’am! Are you okay? Do you need a medical-

 

Research:
It’s fine, Guide. The tea wasn’t that hot. God damn mess, though. I wish… never mind.

 

Guide:
It appears, to me, that the quote, drop of peppermint extract, unquote… Came into existence inside the porcelain of the cup, rather than the liquid inside. In future, you may want to ask for the drop to appear inside the liquid… 


 

Research:
Yeah. Then there’s that.

 

Guide:
Ma’am?

 

Research:
Every time I make any progress- anything like progress- something like that happens. Like, I wished that the cup of tea had a drop in it- why the hell would it appear in the cup instead of the tea? There’s no reason to misunderstand that except…

 

Guide:
Except?

Research:
Except to screw with me, Guide. The mysterious machine that can grant any wish has a sense of humour.

 

Guide:
Oh. That’s an interesting-

 

Research:
Not really. Maybe. I dunno, it’s just like… It feels like I should be making more progress than this. Like, I gotta be as literal and specific as I can, sure, but even when I do that the most unlikely things go wrong. It’s like Murphy’s Law, but up to eleven.

 

Guide:
Maybe it’s not the machine. Could be the universe itself resisting anything that breaks its rules. 

 

Research:
Interesting.

 

Guide:
I… wasn’t being serious. Do you really think…

 

Research:
All ideas are on the table, Guide. 

 

Guide:
Right. Well, ok. 

 

Research:
Don’t get me wrong, it’s just an idea. I don’t know if there’s anything supporting it but a feeling. But, figuring out if it’s a good feeling is… well, it’s science. 

 

Guide:
Okay. Right, so keep it in mind, but don’t… fixate on it, I guess.

 

Research:
Yep. Another hypothesis for the list. A nested one, even. 

 

Guide:
Good thing you enjoy this stuff.

 

Research:
You’re god damn right. 

 

Guide:
Maybe time to take a break, though?

Research:
No, I’m fine. We can-

 

Guide:
You haven’t eaten yet today. Not that I’m keeping an eye on that or anything.

 

Research:
Oh we both know you are. Fine. I wish there was a… Peanut-butter and honey sandwich with wholemeal bread, resting on a plate, within one metre of where I am currently standing, made to the standard I would myself hold if I made it myself.

 

The Wish Engine:
YOUR WISH IS GRANTED.

 

[beat]

 

Guide:
I don’t see it anywhere.

 

Research:
[sigh] That’s probably because it’s appeared inside the floor beneath my feet.

 

Guide:
Oh.

 

Research:
Specificity, Guide.

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