Episode Eighteen- OBEDIENT
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.
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Enjoy your tour.
And good luck.
The Curator’s Cat
Ok, we take this left here and- Oh. Oh my goodness. I- ooh my… I can’t believe this… wow. You hear about this happening, but you never expect that it’ll happen to you, I just… OH MY GOODNESS. Mother do you know what this is? Do you know what-
This is the Curator’s cat!! OHhhohhh my goodness his fur is so soft and fuzzy and his ears and those WHISKERS!! I can’t-
Ahem. Excuse me. It’s just… I’ve heard- been programmed with information about the Curator’s cat- a lot of information- but I’ve never actually seen him before. Well, I’m sure that other iterations of me have encountered him, but not me, so this is… This is huge. Would you believe he’s actually cuter than I expected? Maybe it’s because he’s the first cat I’ve ever seen in person but still, I’m blown away.
Oh, uhh, right. This is the cat belonging to the Curator of the Mistholme Museum of Mystery, Morbidity, and Mortality. He is a ginger tabby, with little white paws and big cute eyes and- sorry. He can be found- when he wants to be- wandering the halls of the Museum, sniffing at exhibits, receiving scritches right behind the ears, and expressing interest in people’s food but walking away after giving it a single lick. Nobody knows how, exactly, he gets around the Museum. Sometimes he waits by doors for Museum staff to open them and let him through, but often as not he just turns around and walks away when they do, and he’s often seen in locations he simply can’t have reached. You know Daniel, the chair? Well, some mornings his attendant opens the door to his display room only to find that he already has a cute little fellow curled up on his cushion. No way he could have gotten in there, but he wanted to sit so he found a way!
Oh, also. Nobody’s really sure what his name is. Everyone has a name for him, but no two people have the same one, and nobody’s really sure where they heard that name. The Curator refers to him as- oh, sorry, what did you say there Mother? Oh. You know all of this. Of course you’ve seen him around on your patrols, that makes sense. Sorry, I just got carried away when I saw him. I actually hoped, while I was lying on the floor of the Auxiliary Security Station, that he might happen upon me. It wouldn’t have done any good or anything, but it would have been nice to-
Oh my goodness. Mother, look! He’s rolled onto his back! Look at his little belly! Give him a rub! Come on, do it!
Mother. Rub. That. Kitty’s. Belly.
Ohhhhh! What a good boy! Oh, he’s leaving. Bye kitty! Bye now!
That was amazing.
A Medium-Sized Figurine Of A Blue-Ringed Octopus
CONTENT WARNINGS: Endangerment of a Child
In this medium-sized tank of water, you will see a medium-sized blue ringed octopus. Now, don’t worry! It’s not a real blue-ringed octopus, merely a figurine. Named for their distinctive bright blue rings that cover their bodies, real blue-ringed octopuses are among the most venomous creatures in all the ocean: a single bite can contain enough venom to kill dozens of adult humans, so in spite of it’s petite size, if it were real this octopus would likely be one of the deadliest exhibits in the entire Museum. And considering that, at 15 centimetres from arm to arm, this figurine is indeed a perfectly medium-sized example of the species, this is a species that really does punch above its weight. Real blue-ringed octopuses are typically found only in localised coastal regions but figurines like this can be found wherever there’s cheap plastic to spare, and may never come anywhere near the ocean. This figurine, however… came closer than most.
The figurine belonged to a young boy, passionate about the ocean and its creatures, who dreamed of one day becoming a marine biologist. It was one of many such toys he owned, a collection which included replicas of creatures from all over the world: sharks, jellyfish, whales, seahorses, just about every kind of fish you could think of could be found in the boy’s backpack- though he would be quick to tell you that there is, in fact, no such thing as a fish. The boy’s father, on the other hand, was the foreman on an oil rig, and as such he did not exactly share his son’s environmentalist leanings. But he did love his son, and they had a close relationship, even though the father didn’t really understand his son’s passions. So when he got the opportunity to lead the operation of a new exploratory oil rig that was to drill into a lake, searching for new oil reserves, he brought his son along for a visit. His previous work had always been out to sea, and as such hadn’t been a particularly appropriate place for a child. But a lake, relatively close to civilization? That sounded perfect for his son. The lake was even close to the coast, if the boy happened to get bored with the wildlife in the lake and wanted to explore further afield.
The first few days of the boy’s visit were decent, if a little disappointing. The freshwater lake didn’t have much in the way of unique life, mostly consisting of some glum-looking fish and the birds that ate them. The boy examined them, identified their genus and species, and drew a sketch of their physical characteristics in his notebook, and he enjoyed it as much as he always enjoyed his aquatic hobby. But after about a week, he found he had exhausted all discoveries the lake had to offer, and decided it was time to move on to the nearby coastline. But when he went to his father to ask when they could make the trip, he found that his father was in a foul mood. Apparently the corporation responsible for the oil operation had cut some rather important corners in the name of profit, and as Foreman the boy’s father was expected to make everything work regardless. And that day was the most important of all: the time had come to engage the drill, and the lives and livelihoods of everyone on the rig depended on him doing his job. The discussion between father and son led to the son retreating to his room in tears, and the father filled with regret for his harsh tone, but with no time to make amends. That would come later: it was time to find out whether or not there really was oil beneath the calm waters of the lake.
It quickly became clear, as the mighty drill punched down into the lakebed and drove down into the earth beneath, that there was no oil below the lake. It became even clearer that the oil company’s negligence was far more severe than anyone aboard the rig had known. Because beneath that lake, rather than reserves of oil, was a mine. Deep and expansive, and filled with people who suddenly found themselves waist-deep in fast flowing water as the lake above them began to drain into the shafts and tunnels below. Aboard the rig, the crew were initially unsure of what was going on: the readings from their instruments made no sense, and the rig was making some strange creaking and rumbling sounds. It was only when a crewman looked over the side and saw the strange currents in the water that anyone began to understand what was happening- and it was already too late. As the crew struggled vainly to evacuate from the would-be oil rig, the structure began to tilt- slowly at first, then with terrifying speed- and as the hole it had created widened and the lakewater flowed faster and faster into the abyss, the oil rig fell away, collapsing into the flooded mine below.
The workers in the mine were able to evacuate without any casualties, though there were some terrifying close encounters with walls of water rushing toward them in the dark tunnels and a horribly long wait in chest-high water for the elevator which eventually carried them to freedom. The company that owned the mine sued the oil company for negligence, and the case was eventually settled out of court, with the mine being abandoned due to the costs of repairing the damage and draining the water. While the oil company received a great deal of criticism for causing the incident, they were rather more skilled at publicity than they were drilling, and were able to repair their reputation with surprising speed. This was, of course, aided by the fact that- despite the spectacular nature of the disaster- not a single soul had died, and the entire crew of the rig had been able to evacuate safely.
This was, of course, a lie.
Far beneath the place where the lake had once been, in what had once been a mine, the crew of the oil rig survived. Our knowledge of the events that took place after the descent into the mine are taken from a makeshift journal made by the Foreman in a logbook. By some miracle, the wreckage of the rig survived its rapid descent into the mine mostly intact, coming to rest half submerged on an outcropping near the bottom of the shaft. Many of the crew were much less intact, however, and when the dozen or so survivors climbed from the wreckage they found that the first-aid facilities aboard the rig were yet another area in which the company had quote saved money unquote. The Foreman set his men to work gathering the intact supplies from the infirmary and mess hall and moving them to a section of the rig that was the least damaged. Then he went to check on his son and found his room empty, apart from the collection of aquatic figurines that had been scattered through the room in the chaos. The Foreman ran about the rig, screaming his son’s name, asking if anyone had seen him. Nobody had. Then, he heard the boy’s voice calling back, from the water below. Thinking that the boy had fallen overboard, the Foreman dove off the edge and began swimming about, hollering his son’s name. Then, he heard laughter. He looked back over to the rig, and saw his son sitting on a support strut, dangling his feet in the water, giggling at his father’s behaviour. The Foreman swam back over and embraced his son, and their fight from earlier in the day was forgotten.
The boy showed his father what had brought him down to the water: predictably enough, it was a fish. But, the boy insisted, it wasn’t a fish that was supposed to be there. He had seen all the fish that the lake had to offer in the preceding days, and this wasn’t one of them- in no small part because it was most definitely an ocean fish, not freshwater. His father had more pressing concerns, however, and insisted that they return to the platform above. By the end of the day, the survivors had secured their position as well as they could, and prepared to settle in for however long it took for them to be rescued. Their radio equipment had been completely destroyed in the disaster, but the Foreman was confident that a rescue crew would be there soon. Predictably, he was wrong. But the survivors did have a visitor in the night. And in the morning, they discovered the bloodstains of the man the visitor had taken.
It seemed like the man had gone outside in the night to relieve himself, and then… well, it was unclear exactly what had happened, but the gantry was soaked with far too much blood for it to be anything good. The Foreman once again took charge, and had the survivors arm themselves with anything they could: fire axes, knives from the kitchen, metal bars, anything that was better than nothing. They organised watches in rotating shifts, ensuring that they had complete lines of sight to the rest of the cavern at all times. Clearly, something else was down there with them, and it wasn’t friendly, so they would need to be ready to defend themselves. Then the Foreman realised something. His son wasn’t there with the group. He began to race back to his room, calling out for his son- then stopped. And leaned over the edge of the platform, to see the boy sitting in the same place he had been yesterday, examining something in the water and drawing in his sketchbook. The Foreman rushed down, and practically dragged him inside by his collar. To the boy’s dismay, his father made it very clear that he was not, under any circumstances, to leave the upper areas of the rig. His feet were not to touch water until they were rescued. Then he departed to supervise the preparations, while his son sulked in his room. He felt a tinge of regret, but the situation had gone from bad to worse and he needed all his focus to be on keeping his son safe. His feelings could be mended later.
They met the creatures during the third night down the mine. The Foreman gives little in the way of description in his notes, but “fish-people” quickly became his name for them, with special mention going to their bulbous black eyes that glittered in the dark. The sleeping were roused by shouts from the men on patrol, and by tooth and nail drove them back. The creatures climbed the sides of the rig and lunged at the humans, trying to pull them overboard into the dark depths below. Some of the men managed to deal grievous harm to their foes, roaring in fury and triumph as the creatures fell away in terror. They lit fires and stood watch for the rest of the night, silent sentinels waiting for the things to challenge them again. The only response they received was the occasional ripple in the water, and the hint of a glittering eye in the black.
This continued for more than a week, with no sign of stopping and no hint of a rescue coming for the trapped crew. They repelled the creatures almost every day, and though no more men died they were running low on supplies. This couldn’t go on much longer. The Foreman claims he didn’t sleep at all during this period, as he alternated between standing guard and trying to come up with something, anything, he could do to save his men- and in particular his son- from the fish-people and their dwindling supplies. Eventually, he came to a conclusion: they would need to strike back at the creatures and kill them once and for all. That done, they could risk hunting for fish and other sources of food down in the water, as well as begin to search for a way out. The Foreman had a sneaking suspicion that a rescue may not have been as sure a thing as he had told the men, and keeping morale up would be crucial in the coming days. Gathering the rest of the rig’s former crew, he outlined the plan: leaving behind a small group to protect their supplies and the foreman’s son, the rest of the group would sojourn out into the flooded tunnels until they could find where the creatures were coming from. Then, they would strike. From their vantage point on the rig, it appeared that most of the nearby tunnels were only partly submerged, but if they found fully underwater segments… well, they would deal with that when it happened.With a confidence he didn’t truly feel, the Foreman told the men that it had been a pleasure serving with them, and told them to prepare to move out. Then, he went to tell his son he would be back soon. And found his room empty once more. More disappointed than angry, the Foreman turned to leave, then stopped. Something had caught his attention. He examined the room again and realised: the boy’s aquatic figurines were missing. And so was his backpack. Panicking, the father checked under the bed and in cupboards, hoping- praying- that he was wrong. All he found was a medium-sized figurine of a blue-ringed octopus, where it had fallen behind the bed. His son was gone.
The Foreman had been so preoccupied with his responsibilities over the last few days, he hadn’t noticed that his son had more or less completely ignored his instruction to stay on the rig at all times, and had in fact left it every single day. The first day, he’d gone back down to the bottom of the rig to see the fish swimming around beneath them. The second, he’d paddled over to a nearby tunnel to examine the crustaceans and strange slimy things clinging to the walls.
On the third he encountered one of the Fish-People. In a tunnel further from home than he likely should have been, squatting in shallow water on the edge of deeper water, he had spotted something swimming deep below. He shone the torch into the murky black and leaned down to get a closer look. A pair of glittering eyes blinked back. The boy fell backwards into the shallows in a panic as the creature swam up towards him, bursting through the surface of the water. The boy turned away from the monster and closed his eyes, waiting for the end. But the end never came. Eventually, he opened his eyes and- slowly, cautiously- turned back around. The creature was smaller than he’d thought at first. In fact, it was roughly the same size as him. The glittering eyes that had seemed so terrifying as they rushed up towards him from the abyss were no longer fixed on him, but something in the water nearby. The boy turned to see what it was, and saw: a medium-sized figurine of a blue-ringed octopus. It had slipped from his pocket in the fall- he wasn’t even sure why he had brought it, the result of some inscrutable childish logic- and now, the fish-man was seemingly transfixed by it. No, not a fish-man: a child. The thing had little in common with a human physically, but in its body language, its curiosity… the boy recognised something. Slowly, he reached out and picked up the figurine. The fish-child flinched away and seemed ready to dive back into the water, but the boy held out the figurine. And, despite its nervousness, the child accepted.
The children met every day for the rest of the week. Every time, the boy would bring out more of his collection of sea creatures, and they would play and enjoy each other’s company in the dark watery depths of the former mine. The child seemed to recognise several of the figurines the boy brought, which surprised the boy: many of them were from nowhere near the lake, so the child must have traveled far. At the end of each day, the boy would gather his toys and make his way back to the rig before his father noticed his absence. The fish-child was sad to see him- and the figurines- go, but there was always an unspoken promise they would meet again the next day. And on the ninth day, as they splashed around with the boy’s figurines in a deeper tunnel than the boy had ever dared travel before, they were discovered by the boy’s father. And the child’s father. Two groups, one of humans and one of fish-people, converged on the tunnel from either side, leaving the children in a watery no man’s land between them. The boy’s father called urgently for his son to return to him; on the other side, a fish-person who must have been one of the fish-child’s parents did the same in a strange guttural tongue. Both were flanked by their people, readying for a bloodbath that seemed inevitable.
The children looked to their parents. Then each other. And then, to the bafflement of all others there… they went back to playing. Their parents each called out again, louder; the boy responded with a shushing noise that the fish-child tried and failed to imitate. They both collapsed into a giggling fit for a moment, before returning to playing with the boy’s figurines. The fish-people bristled at this, and seemed to prepare themselves for an attack; around the Foreman, his men did the same. But the Foreman did not. Instead, as he watched his son and his strange friend act out undersea adventures with the plastic toys, he reached into his pocket and pulled something out. Ignoring the urgent cries of his men, and the snarling of the fish people on the other side of the tunnel, he stepped into the water where the children played. His son looked up at him, a silent plea in his eyes to which his father replied with a smile. He knelt down in front of the fish child, and held out his hand, revealing its contents: a medium-sized figurine of a blue-ringed octopus. Glittering eyes lit up, webbed hands snatched out and seized the toy and began to play with it. The father laughed, and his son joined in. And after a moment, something like laughter emanated from the throat of the biggest of the fish-people, and it waded into the water to join them.
From this point the Foreman’s journal entries become much more scattered and, as time went on, hard to understand. It appears that communicating with the creatures proved surprisingly easy, and the two groups joined together as one shortly after this incident. The fish-people explained that, when the lake disaster above happened, the sudden changes in pressure in the mines had caused a tunnel which had drawn dangerously close to the ocean to collapse. The artificial tunnel had, in fact, been mere metres away from a natural underwater cave system in which the fish-people had been sheltering. A number of them had been swept into the mines by the sudden flooding, and with the tunnels collapsing behind them they were now as trapped as the rig’s crew. The humans, more accustomed to working with their hands and capable of operating some of the mining equipment left in the mine, agreed to help the creatures escape back to their home in the wider ocean.
It is unclear exactly what happened next. When spelunkers entered the mine several years later, there were no people left in the mine, nor evidence of their deaths. It is entirely possible that the fish-people turned on the humans and devoured them at some point, though this would be pure speculation. Another... perhaps more unusual theory is hinted at in The Foreman’s final logs. His sanity may have been slipping, as much of what he says is beyond comprehension, and the handwriting is a barely legible scrawl. But the references to changes in the humans that occurred during their cohabitation with the fish-people, new sensations, possibly even mutations, imply something more. The only evidence left in the mine that the people of the oil rig even existed is the Foreman’s log, and a medium-sized figurine of a blue-ringed octopus, left on a table in the decrepit oil rig. The people themselves appear to have found a new home in the ocean.
Thank you for visiting the Mistholme Museum of Mystery, Morbidity, and Mortality. We hope that you have enjoyed your visit, and that you will return one day, in this life or the next. Please, tell your friends about what a great time you had here- but don’t tell them too much! If they’re worthy, we’ll find them. Stay safe out there.