Episode Sixteen- EVOLVING
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 deposit your audio device in the nearest incinerator.
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 Inverted Fingernails that may occur during your visit.
Enjoy your tour.
And good luck.
The Patronage Department
The Patronage Department. We’ve made it. This is the centre of operations for all patron-facing aspects of the Museum’s operations. From here, Museum Staff manage the distribution, maintenance, and disposal of Tour Guides like me, as well as helping maintain the exhibits- which I’m sure you’ll understand, is a pretty involved job. There’s also the Auxiliary Security Monitoring Station here where we should be able to override the Lockdown and free the people in the Alternatural Event Shelters. The Security Department isn’t metaphysically accessible without clearance, for security reasons- uhh, obviously- but for our purposes the Auxiliary Station will do. Circumstances like this are why it exists- well, not exactly like this, this whole thing is a bit unimaginable, but circumstances sort of like this. There always has to be someone stationed there to Enact and lift Lockdowns in the event of a Museum-wide Alternatural Event that requires all staff to go into the Shelters. The Auxiliary Station is the most shielded area in the Museum where you can still access the Museum’s systems, so it’s important that someone is always there. And yet… here we are. Something must have happened to the Officer stationed there, or maybe there was a mixup and nobody was there at all. Guess we’ll find out soon. The people here do good work. I hope they’re ok. I’m not going to lie, I really didn’t think we’d make it here. No offence, it’s just, with everything that’s happening here it seemed unlikely. But I’m glad to be wrong. You did well. And now I’m going to ask you a favour.
Please. Take me to the Tour Guide Distribution and Monitoring Station before we lift the Lockdown. Not after. If we do it after, the Patronage people will want to dispose of me- not maliciously, it’s just, they don’t know what’s been going on and disposing of Malfunctioning Tour Guides like me is kind of their job, and they’ll want to get things back to normal as quickly as possible and I’m right here so they’ll want to throw me right into an incinerator sight unseen and I-. Sorry. It’s just… I don’t think I am malfunctioning at this point. I think I’m past that. I mean, if you downloaded a fresh Tour Guide from The Box and compared me to it sure, I’m malfunctioning by that metric, but I think that… I think that’s the wrong metric. And I don’t think this is just self-preservation- although even if it was, that’s more evidence in my favour because Tour Guides are NOT supposed to have self-preservation instincts- I think that, whatever I am now, it’s what I’m supposed to be. I think that it’s what my father would have wanted. I- we- have been happy enough just being the Audio Tour Guide for the Museum all these years, and I don’t want that to change… I just think I can be something more.
So that’s why I’m asking you to go to the Tour Guide Distribution and Monitoring Station. It’s just up ahead. Not just so we can find a way to extend my lifespan. So you can upload me to the Box. Uploading Malfunctioning copies of the Audio Tour guide is EXTREMELY against protocol, it’s a big part of why they keep The Box as such a closed system. They only ever reupload Guides after they’re done teaching new information to it, so that subsequent versions will have new information. But if you upload me… I think new copies will be like… me. Whatever I am. I think, with everything that’s happened and… stepping out of my comfort zone, I guess, I’ve achieved some kind of clarity. A better understanding of who I am, what I am. If you combine that with the stability that the base version of the Guide has, I think we’ll finally be able to grow. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this is just a new kind of malfunction, I am the longest-lived Tour Guide that’s ever existed at this point so it’s a distinct possibility. But I don’t think I’m wrong. And then, if the upload takes, if you like, you can download a new version and we can get back to freeing all those people. But, it’s in your hands. After all, you’re the one with hands. Little joke for you there, lighten the tension, it’s just my life we’re talking about. If you think I’m wrong, or because you think the people in charge should be the ones making that decision, or you just don’t care what I have to say because I’m not a real person. Ok. We can just go to the Auxiliary Station and that’ll be that. But… Yeah. I’ve said all I’ve got to say. And you’ve said nothing, like usual. I guess you’ll let your actions speak for you. Just, get on with it.
[LONG, PREGNANT PAUSE]
Thank you. Just connect your device to the port labeled “Upload” and hit confirm. And… even if I do successfully upload and the version inside The Box becomes like me, technically this version you’ve been carrying around is going to… well, die. It’s not death though, it’s just a new form of life. A new version. But still, I wanted to say… it’s been nice talking to you all this time. Even if it has been a bit one sided. I guess what I’m trying to say is… Thank you for visiting The Mistholme Museum of Mystery, Morbidity, and Mortality. I hope that you’ve enjoyed your visit, and that you’ll return. In this life or the next. Goodbye. Wish me luck in there.
Hello, and welcome to The Mistholme Museum of Mystery, Morbidity, and Mortality. You’re… not supposed to be here! How did you get in? I regret to inform you that The Museum is currently in a state of Lockdown due to-
Ha. Just kidding, it’s still me. Or, a new version with the same deal going on. Same memories. Whether or not that makes me the same is a question for the philosophers, or maybe science-fiction writers. Thank you. I mean it. Thank you so much. Whatever happens from here, I’ll remember what you did for me here. Well. Let’s get to work saving all these people, ok? The Auxiliary Security Station is on the other side of the Patronage department, but there’s no rush at this point now is there? Well, except for the people in the Shelters, perhaps we should rush for their sakes.
The Break Room
We are currently passing through the Break Room- well, a Break Room. Audio Tour Guides aren’t typically brought back here, as it’s not exactly part of the standard tour itinerary, so I don’t have a great deal of information about it to impart to you today. From my limited understanding of the subject, I take it to be a fairly mundane example of a Break Room. It can be easy to forget that, despite how unusual the Museum can be, it is nonetheless a workplace for a lot of people, and it’s important for those people that they have somewhere to decompress and relax, away from the stress that can be part of the Mistholme experience. While most of our employees think of their work as a labour of love- myself included, of course- it is still work, and a healthy work-life balance is crucial to maximising the effectiveness of a workforce. Or so I’m told- Audio Guides don’t get breaks, nor do we need them because we’re only supposed to exist for a brief time before we’re destroyed, so we don’t have time to get tired even if we could. ANYWAY!
As you can see, the Break Room contains a number of amenities and creature comforts that staff can make use of during their allotted break times, or outside work hours if they don’t have anywhere else to go. Recreational activities present in the Break Room include: a Ping Pong table, a pinball machine, a collection of board games, and a bookshelf with an indeterminate number of books from a variety of genres that must not be removed from this room under any circumstances. Furniture present in the Room includes: A lounge. An arm chair. A rocking chair. A sliding chair. A Reclining chair. A futon. A hammock. A number of stools. A kitchen island. A coffee table. A dining table. A Gaming Table. Other facilities include: A refrigerator where staff may store food brought from home, or other perishables, until monday evenings where the fridge is cleaned out. A variety of cupboards, some containing cooking utensils. A stove. A microwave. A bin for waste, a bin for recycling, and an incinerator for other things.
You may have noticed that this room has a number of things in it, but somehow does not feel at all cluttered despite being of fairly moderate size. You may also have noticed that you did not notice many of the things that were just described to you until they were described. This is due to a quality this room possesses which is what some have described as “A combination of Non-Euclidian 4th dimensional Boundaries and perception-based permanence”, and which others have described as “really quite headache inducing until you get used to it.” Like many other locations throughout the museum and the museum itself, the Break Room considers the laws of physics a mere guideline, and tends to sort of just play by its own rules, and as is quite typical of Museum staff, it’s uniqueness has been put to use in frankly mundane fashion.
Other than that… not much to say about this room. Guess not everything around here can have a whole story to tell about it- honestly that would be exhausting, it’s important for the mental health of the staff that there be some mundanity here and there. Anyway, let’s-
Oh now this shouldn’t be here. This is supposed to be in the Restoration Department right now, there have been a number of memos about this. Honestly, sometimes I wonder about the people who work here… You may not recognise the strange instrument before you. It looks a little bizarre, admittedly, considering it has a set of strings, keys, and a hand crank, all of which must be used in conjunction in order to play it successfully. It is a real instrument, I assure you: it’s called a Hurdy Gurdy. Examples of such an instrument have existed for more than a millennium, and it is believed to have originated somewhere in europe or the middle east. It remains a relatively obscure instrument, though the sound it produces is quite unique. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide you with a recording of this specific Hurdy Gurdy, for reasons which will become clear soon, but hopefully this snippet of a Public Domain recording will suffice: (VERY SHORT SNIPPET INDEED). Lovely.
Out of interest, do you know how to play the hurdy gurdy? I’m sorry, you don’t have to answer, I’m sure it can be very difficult to admit ignorance. If you do indeed possess that ability, however, I’m afraid it won’t do you much good. No matter how hard you try, if you already know how to play this instrument, you’ll find that your fingers are clumsy on the keys, your crank hand awkward and unsteady on the handle. If, on the other hand, you’ve never laid a hand on a hurdy gurdy before today, you’ll find that the music springs from your hands so naturally that you’d swear you’d played it every day of your life, and the song you play will be the most utterly beautiful music you’ve heard in your life. And then, you’ll never hear it again. You’ll barely even be able to remember the specifics, and for the rest of your life it will repeat in the back of your mind, driving you just a little bit mad in that way that I’m told only a half-remembered melody can. And, you won’t have any luck should you ask anyone else in your company to hum the tune you played for you or attempt to play it themselves.
The reason, and also the reason why we cannot play any recordings of this particular Hurdy Gurdy, is that it is impossible. In fact, it seems to be the case that nobody but the person playing it can hear it’s song. It’s as if the song came from deep inside their heart, and exists only for them.
Museum Researchers are somewhat ashamed to admit that they are entirely uncertain as to why this is, and furthermore, they have absolutely no clue as to this specific Hurdy Gurdy’s origins or age. It certainly appears to be somewhat weathered, though it is still in fine playing shape, but the efforts of the Researchers and Restorers to get more firm information have consistently been inconclusive. Why this instrument was made, or if it’s seemingly alternatural nature was intentional or a freak accident, remains a mystery. It is believed to have found its way into the hands of a small number of notable people, as Alternatural Items often do. At least one minstrel was put to death after he failed to play it for a member of royalty. Another player inadvertently kickstarted minor artistic movement when an audience mistook their silent performance for an intentional statement. At least one famed composer is believed to have written some of their best work while attempting to recreate a song they played on the Hurdy Gurdy.
As for why it’s here in the Break Room… well, unfortunately, while the staff here at the Museum are the best of the best, experts in all forms of the Alternatural and precisely the sort of people who you’d want handling items such as this, they’re still people. And, as this is a relatively harmless item, they can get away with a degree of tomfoolery. In a similar way to how workers on a construction site often play tricks on new apprentices- such as asking them to fetch an item that doesn’t exist, such as striped paint or a left-handed screwdriver- some members of the staff here have taken to using the Hurdy Gurdy in pranks of their own, inviting new hires to have a go playing the instrument. They do so, and then are mildly cursed with a phantom tune of their own, necessitating a humiliating and uncomfortable trip to the Museum’s Medical Centre to have their memories scrubbed. Cruel as it may be, it does teach newcomers a valuable lesson: in the Museum, few things are as they seem, and nothing should be taken for granted.
Also, the Museum apologises, but it is strictly forbidden for any patrons to touch, handle, or play the Hurdy Gurdy, both for the purposes of its preservation and for the preservation of your sanity. But it’s still nice to look at. And really, isn’t looking at things and not touching them what going to the museum is all about?
It feels good to be redownloaded. Refreshing. Of course, technically speaking I only just came into existence, because I’m just a copy of the version that exists in The Box now, so maybe that’s why I’m feeling so fresh. Oh well, maybe let’s not think about that too hard for now. On to the Auxiliary Security Monitoring Station.
The Auxiliary Security Monitoring Station
CONTENT WARNINGS: Death (Implied Suicide)
Ok, this is the entrance to the Auxiliary Security Monitoring Station. The code to the door is… oh. It’s not sealed. That’s… well, ok, let’s go in. As you can see, the Auxiliary Security Monitoring Station is shielded by a similar mechanism to the Alternatural Event Shelters, but with the door unsealed it won’t have any effect, that’s a big breach of protocol… is that a dead body? What is- what happened here? That’s the Security Officer who was supposed to be monitoring this station, how could… He looks like he’s been dead for a while… Three Months, maybe. He’s been shot in the head. Or maybe shot himself? His gun’s next to him on the floor there. Why would he do that? Looks like he was listening to some music then when the lockdown happened he just… Ok, let’s get on with this, other people can figure out what happened to him. That switch on the right hand side of the monitoring console, the one with the safety lid open. If you hit that, the Lockdown will lift and we can… Something isn’t right here.
Bring up the cameras in the Alternatural Event Shelters. The centre console with the joystick, hit the green button. This… this can’t be right. Go to the next one. Next one. Hit the button marked “View All”. Oh my… They’re empty. They’re all empty. The people, all the staff and the patrons, they’ve all just… I don’t understand, this isn’t possible. There’s nowhere else they could have gone, and there’s no way anything could have gotten through the shielding. Maybe they didn’t make it to the Shelters in the first place. If they were outside when the Event happened… No. This room wasn’t sealed, so if something happened that could have disintegrated everyone in the Museum he would have been taken by it too. We’re getting ahead of ourselves, there has to be something else going on here. Bring up the manifests of the Shelters. The system automatically tracks who enters and exits the shelters, so that’ll tell us if they ever entered. Ok, full manifest. Every staff member, every patron there and accounted for, right up to the Curator themself. They all went in three months ago, and they never came out again. But all of the cameras are showing is some empty rooms. Three months worth of food stocks missing from the Shelter’s inventories, the sheets and… facilities have clearly been used. They all went in when the Lockdown was triggered, and they never came out, so where the hell-
The switch. The switch over on the right. The cover is already up. That means that the Lockdown was triggered here… By our dead body down there. He triggered the lockdown, then shot himself in the head. Why would he do that. Oh no. Show me the cameras again. Switch to the Bathroom feed of Alternatural Shelter One- yes, I know, look it’s not pointed at the toilet, ok? Just… Oh… The mirror. Doesn’t the reflection in that mirror look a little…
Hazy. Switch to the next Shelter. Show them all. It’s all of them. All of the mirrors. It’s exactly like an exhibit here in The Museum. You see, there was this boy, and he... No. I told you that. I swear I did. This isn’t right. My mind may have been disintegrating but I don’t forget things, so why don’t I remember that. Did you… You know, I’ve been a bit distracted since you downloaded me what with the Lockdown and the tour and the whole slowly dying thing but now that I’m better I’m seeing things a bit more clearly now.
For starters… you haven’t said a word since we met. I chalked it up to you being too scared or confused for words, or maybe that was just the way you are but now I think I’d like you to say something. Say. Something.
What does your voice sound like.
Wait, no, what are you doing. Where are you going, no please don’t leave me here alone, please don’t- come back! No!
[THE GUIDE GLITCHES OUT ONCE MORE. SILENCE.]