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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 repetition that may occur during your visit.

Enjoy your tour.

And good luck.

Here we have a somewhat unusual exhibit- well, all our exhibits are unusual, actually, perhaps I should say that it diverges slightly from our usual style: a comic book, the single issue story of a young girl who discovers she has unusual powers. On its own it isn’t the most bizarre or unusual of items, but by our standards it is. This is for more than one reason, as you’ll see, but for starters: feel free to interact with this exhibit! Yes, this is not a unique or scarce item, and was in fact produced by a printer which appeared in the Museum’s Break Room. If anything should befall this copy, we’ll simply produce another one. As I tell the story of this exhibit, feel free to follow along with the comic. Although, that might be a bit difficult…


 

On her tenth birthday Sally Song began to see angles that weren’t there. Looking back, she would say that it first occurred right after she blew out the candles on her cake: her perception narrowed down into a single point as her entire being focused on this minor and yet essential task, and then when she raised her head to look up at the cheering, singing people who surrounded her she discovered that something had changed. Of course, it is more than likely that this was just the first time she noticed the shift, or perhaps that the significance of this moment in hindsight overwrote the truth in her mind’s eye. For many details of Sally’s story we have little choice but to take her word on such matters. What we know is this: after blowing out the ten candles atop her cake, Sally Song responded to the cheers and smiles of her family and friends with a frown: the sort of deep, furrowed brow kind of frown that only children who find themselves utterly perplexed can conjure. She looked up and down, then side to side, then up and down again as revellers looked at her, then at one another, then back to her. Questions like "Everything alright, Sally" and "What's up buttercup" followed, in varying tones of concern, but Sally was too focused on… something to pay any attention. It was only when her mother waved a hand gently in front of Sally's face that the girl blinked, and looked around, and asked if anyone else saw that. "Saw what?" "That," said Sally, pointing at nothing. "Those." She lacked the words to describe whatever it was she saw, and everyone else lacked eyes that could see them. Awkwardly, her parents steered the party back on track by cutting and distributing the cake, followed by a game of Pass The Parcel, and for the rest of the afternoon they could pretend that nothing unusual had happened. This was not a lie they could maintain for long.

 

The next morning, Sally woke her parents early and announced that she had found the words for what she had seen. They gently humoured her as she described how the lines of the candles on her birthday cake had, briefly, lined up with the lines of the world. Her mother smiled and nodded along to this odd tale while her father rolled over and tried to get some more rest before work. It was just their daughter being a little silly, spinning some story for attention. A… very odd story, which she insisted was true even now, pointing again at “lines” and “corners” that neither of her parents could see. It was probably nothing. Maybe cause for an optometrist or therapist appointment if it persisted. Probably not. She’d grow out of it faster than she grew out of shoes, like she’d grown out of liking turtles and the colour yellow. But she didn’t grow out of it. As the days and weeks passed she only became more insistent in pointing out these lines and corners: ones that hovered in mid-air near the “real” corners of rooms, ones that lingered in the corners of her eye, ones that ran parallel with the family car as they drove down the street to appointments with optometrists and psychologists that had been just a joke when they were first suggested. But according to the optometrist there was nothing wrong with her eyes, and according to the psychologist nothing was… “wrong” with her mind. As far as anyone could tell, she was just an overly imaginative little girl who was very convincing. Perhaps she was, herself, convinced- but she was only young, and would grow out of it. How many children have claimed to have Invisible Friends, or magical powers, after all, and then one day never mentioned such things again? 

 

One evening, Sally’s parents lay in bed together having, at last, allowed themselves to be convinced by an expert that there was nothing wrong with their daughter. She was in her own bedroom, asleep, a perfectly normal girl with an overactive imagination. They chatted, and laughed, and prepared to sleep. Everything was fine. And then Sally was there. In their room. Standing at the end of the bed, with the door still shut. Her father let out a cry of alarm. Her mother just stared. Rubbing her eyes, standing there in her pyjamas, Sally asked if she could have some water. Her mother barely even registered the question, instead asking how Sally had gotten into their room? Sally scowled, just a normal ten-year-old girl up past her bedtime, and said that she had gone “between the lines”. Her father, having recovered from his shock, decided to take control of the situation- not that there even was a situation, Sally had just come into the room without her parents noticing and shut the door behind her, everything was fine. He got up, took Sally by the hand out to the kitchen, and poured her a glass of water. If he watched her a little too closely as she drank it that was nothing out of the ordinary, he just wanted to make sure she didn’t slip out of sight. Everything was fine. When she was done drinking, he put the glass in the sink and led her- again, by the hand- to her room. He tucked her into bed, and wished her goodnight, and left the room, shutting the door behind him. He breathed a sigh of something that wasn’t quite relief. Sally wasn’t the only one with an overactive imagination. Everything was fine.

 

Standing in the hall outside her room, the room she had just moments ago been shut in, Sally looked up at her father and asked if she could sleep in her parent’s bed that night. 

 

There were no more appointments with optometrists or psychologists. For some time after this… “Incident”, Sally was not allowed outside of her home as her parents struggled to think of what they would do. She griped and complained and fumed at her parents' insistence that she could not see her friends or go to school- the latter a complaint that would have been quite remarkable not so long ago. But Sally wasn’t just frustrated: she was, much like her parents, scared. She didn’t understand what she had done wrong, or what she could do to make things better. Her parents, eventually, asked her how she was doing the things she was doing. How she could move from one place to another in the blink of the eye. She couldn’t answer, though: not only because she didn’t understand her abilities, but because she didn’t understand that they were abilities. From her perspective, one nobody else can quite comprehend, her movements were perfectly normal: she would take a step or two and move the distance of one or two steps. But this is, literally, all a matter of perspective. The steps Sally Song took would carry her in directions only she could travel, through spaces only she could see. The night her parents had discovered her abilities she had walked from her room to theirs by the most natural and straightforward of routes: not down the hallways of the house, but through hallways her parents didn’t even know were there, slipping through angles in the house only she had ever noticed. To her, the two rooms were right next to one another.

 

This perspective of reality is difficult to comprehend, even to a level-headed individual hearing it from a detached third party- such as an Audio Tour Guide. But to a pair of confused and distraught parents, from the mouth of a child who not only didn’t understand her abilities but didn’t understand what was so special about them… Sally’s parents couldn’t comprehend her expanded view of reality, and Sally couldn’t understand their limited one. So they locked her away as they tried to decide what to do. Her father was a writer, her mother an artist. They could afford to work from home for as long as it took to find a solution under the pretence that they were caring for their sick child. But no solution ever presented itself. Who do you contact when your daughter develops superpowers? What actions could they take that would be more likely to help Sally than they were to get her taken away by child protective services. The parents spent as much time as they could spare with their daughter, both to make sure she wasn’t too lonely, and to keep an eye on her out of some foolish hope they could keep her safe. But they couldn’t be with her all of the time. And, considering her condition, it was quite easy for Sally to slip away unnoticed. 

 

At first, Sally would slip between the gaps in reality only she could see for short journeys: stepping out of her bedroom and into the park, or the beach. She was young, but she knew well enough that if anyone recognised her she would be in trouble. But as she grew older, her powers grew as well, and before long she could find paths that led further from home than she had ever been, to other towns and cities and even other countries. Sometimes, she would find herself in places so strange she wasn’t entirely sure she was even on Earth; whenever this happened, she’d step right back to her bedroom just in case. She saw places and things and people her parents could hardly imagine, and with every journey she took her powers grew.

 

One day, as Sally’s mother drove to the shops, she nearly crashed the car in fright as her daughter suddenly appeared in the passenger seat. She turned the car around immediately, and before long Sally was back in her room, being scolded by her parents for using her abilities in such a way- for using them at all. Sally’s insistence that she hadn’t meant to do it fell on deaf ears, and soon her parents closed the bedroom door, having told her she would go to bed hungry. They opened it again only seconds later, as her unmistakably genuine screams of fear brought them running to her aid. Even by their admittedly skewed standards, though, the sight that greeted them was shocking: their daughter was no longer on her bed. She was inside it. The child’s outstretched arm, reaching out for her mother, grasping blindly at the air, was all that could be seen of her. The rest of her was concealed by the fabric of her mattress, kicking and writhing as Sally struggled to get out. In an instant her father was tearing open the mattress with his bare hands, ripping at fabric and foam to retrieve her. A second later Sally’s mother was there too, crying out in shock and helping her husband pull the terrified girl out from within the mattress. The three of them collapsed to the floor, panting and sobbing and holding each other tightly, as though any of them could slip away at any moment. 

 

Here, Sally’s joyful exploration of her growing abilities takes on a far more sombre tone. It was not so much that her powers had been growing, as it was that her condition was worsening. Her shifting perspective of the world, her ability to see corners and angles that nobody else could, had become such an innate part of her understanding of the world that she was losing track of what was solid and certain, and the strange gaps in between. As more days passed, more incidents such as the one with the bed occurred, where she would accidentally slip down a path nobody else could comprehend- and which she herself hadn’t even really noticed- and would wind up somewhere else. Just staying in one place became an act of supreme focus, as any lapse in concentration could result in a slip, as sudden as if the ground beneath her feet had vanished- because, of course, for her perspective it had. Finally, after months of isolation and hoping the situation would resolve itself, Sally’s mother and father reached out for help. They had always been paralysed by the question of whom they could possibly contact for help, but now things had gotten further out of hand than their previous state of being completely out of hand. Eventually, their cries for help caught the attention of The Mistholme Museum. You might expect that this occurred by some convoluted and obscure route that makes little to no sense, but actually it was quite simple: one day Sally wound up here, as oddities tend to. She got up from her family’s breakfast table and stumbled slightly, upon which she slipped through a crevice in the world’s makeup and found herself standing at the Curator’s desk. This being far from the strangest thing the Curator had encountered, they smiled at this confused little girl who had just appeared in their office and asked how they could help. This being far from the strangest thing Sally Song had encountered, she explained.

 

Such a stroke of luck, such bizarre happenstance. It should have been the thing that turned this story around and gave the Song family a happy ending after such misery. Maybe, someday, it will. But for now, the Museum’s intervention was too late. The Research Department set about investigating Sally’s condition, the first of its kind they had seen. With enough time they might have been able to help her. But her condition was already so advanced that they could hardly run any tests at all before she inadvertently fell into the cracks of reality and wound up somewhere else. What little progress they made could never hope to keep up with the girl’s rapidly expanding perception of reality and its increasingly unpredictable consequences. Her parents were distraught, understandably, as their daughter began disappearing for hours, then days, eventually weeks at a time. It was as if they were getting awful previews of the day on which she would vanish and simply never return. But in those last few weeks, according to the Researchers who worked closely with Sally, the girl herself was calm. As her perception of reality grew, so did her understanding of the world around her. She was young, but by the end she seemed wise well beyond her years: she knew more of life than most who had lived ten times as long. 

 

On her eleventh birthday, as she blew out the candles on her birthday cake, Sally Song vanished for what is, currently, the final time. Her parents claimed that, in the same instant that the candles flickered and died, their daughter seemed to flicker as well. And then she was gone. Perhaps she will come back. She did every other time, although it has been some years now. It might seem a sad ending, but really that’s just a matter of perspective. Her parents aren’t happy, certainly. They miss their daughter terribly, as one could only expect and could never truly imagine. But in those last few days, as Sally’s understanding of the world grew so great that she could hardly even stay still without winding up somewhere else, they shared something of the girl’s eerie calm. They never explained why, though they did explain that they couldn’t explain. Sally had finally found the words with which to describe her new understanding of things. And, despite it all, it was utterly beautiful. They couldn’t begrudge her disappearing, if it meant she could see the world as only she could.

 

They’re still waiting, Sally’s parents. Still waiting for her to come home and tell them all about what she’s seen. They know she will. It’s just a matter of time. From her perspective, after all, she probably isn’t even that far away. But just in case she doesn’t return, and in no small part as a sort of therapeutic exercise, they created something to remember her by. A comic book. The one in your hands now. It doesn’t tell the exact story I’ve just told you- obviously, you can see that. Instead, it adapts the story to the medium, using her father’s writing and her mother’s art to express the inexpressible, to comprehend the incomprehensible. They can’t, after all, understand what it is like to be Sally Song. So this comic book tells their story, in one way or another, and while we have removed all text from this copy to comply with Museum rules the narrative is still quite comprehensible: what seems at first like it could be a typical Superhero origin story turns bitter, as the little girl with mystical powers slips beyond the bounds of the comic borders and finds herself in the whitespace between panels. But there is no small amount of sweetness, too: because no matter how far the girl journeys in that space, that strange otherness that the comic parents can’t see or comprehend, the girl is never too far from the edge of a panel, looking in on them, waiting for the right time to return.

 

What do you think of that story?

Patron:
Lovely, strange, and bittersweet. The paragon of Mistholme tales, one could say. 

 

Guide:
Mm! That’s a good way of putting it. You’re quite familiar with the sort of stories we tell here, then?

 

Patron:
Yes, I suppose I am. I’ve spent rather a long time here, all together.

 

Guide:
Yes, I thought you seemed familiar.

 

Patron:
Is that so?
 

Guide:
Of course, you haven’t been around much lately. Must have been a while ago.

 

Patron:
No, I gather you’ve been having some trouble around here. I’m quite glad that you’ve reopened your doors. 

 

Guide:
Is that it? 

 

Patron:
I’m sorry?

Guide:
Is… you don’t want to go into any more detail?

 

Patron:
Well, some people are very private, Guide. They don’t like to go into detail if they can help it.

 

Guide:
Ah. I see.

 

Patron:
Yes.

 

Guide:
You know, our old Curator was very private too.

 

Patron:
[Chuckles] Is that so?

 

Guide:
Yeah. Just kind of disappeared one day, when we had to close our doors- the first time. They never came back, and we could only guess why and what happened to them.

 

Patron:
Yes, well, that’s life sometimes isn’t it. You don’t always get the answers you’re hoping for.

 

Guide:
And you just have to accept it and move on.

 

Patron:
Part of being human, I suppose.

 

Guide:
I’ve been feeling that one a lot lately.

 

Patron:
Mm. Would you like to hear a theory?

 

Guide:
I’d love that.

 

Patron:
Maybe- and this is just a theory- Maybe they had to leave to protect you all. The Museum. Or, at least, they thought they had to.

 

Guide:
Why?

 

Patron:
Well, why did the Museum have to close?

 

Guide:
Because a Fairy Prince came calling.

 

Patron:
Ah! Well, there you go. Your Curator had to leave because the alternative was giving the Museum over to the Fairy Prince.

 

Guide:
How would leaving the Museum help that, though? Surely that’s just… leaving the Museum to the Fairy’s whims.

 

Patron:
Oh, I’ve heard a lot of stories about Fairies though. They’ve got rules. Presumably- possibly- this Fairy couldn’t take the Museum without the Curator’s blessing. 

 

Guide:
But why did this Fairy want the Museum?

 

Patron:
Well, I shouldn’t keep speculating-

 

Guide:
Please. I’d love to hear your… insight.

 

Patron:
Very well. If you insist. My guess would be that your Curator and this Fairy Prince made a deal at some point. You know how Fairies are with deals.

 

Guide:
I am.

 

Patron:
So, your Curator and this Fairy made a deal, and the Curator’s end of the deal was that they had to give up everything they had- and all they had was the Museum.

 

Guide:
And what was the Fairy’s end?

 

Patron:
Well, who’s to say. Most of the time- in the stories at least- it’s something like wealth, or fame, or eternal life. That last one, actually, that one kind of fits, don’t you think?

Guide:
How so?

 

Patron:
Well, this place has been around for a while, right? And this Curator of yours- has there been more than one?

 

Guide:
I’m… not sure. Not while I’ve been around.

 

Patron:
Well, there we go. Your Curator made a deal with a Fairy Prince to have- let’s say eternal- life, and in exchange when the Prince comes to call in the debt the Curator would hand over everything they’d created with the time they’d been given. And when the time came to fulfil that debt, they ran.

 

Guide:
That’s quite a theory.

 

Patron:
Yes, well, that’s the optimistic take, of course.

 

Guide:
What’s the pessimistic one?

 

Patron:
That the Curator didn’t run. That the Fairy called in the debt, the Curator’s extra time on the clock ran out, and now the Fairy owns this Museum.

 

Guide:
I’m not sure I like this theory. 

 

Patron:
[Chuckles] Okay, well, I did say that was the pessimistic version. Besides, I don’t know what a Fairy would want with this place, anyway- oh, no offence.

 

Guide:
None taken. 

 

Patron:

Most of the time- in stories, at least- the Fairy wants your firstborn, or your empire, or your riches as repayment. If all your Curator ever made was this Museum, then there’s nothing else for the Fairy to take. And if the thing the Curator got out of the deal was an extended lifespan, that might explain why they made the Museum. After a while everyone they knew will be gone; perhaps this Curator just wanted to create a place for other assorted things that didn’t have a home anymore. Hence the name.

 

Guide:
The name?

 

Patron:
Well, I guess what I’m saying is that your Curator… Missed Home.

 

Guide:
Ohhh I really don’t like this theory.

 

Patron:
[Laughing] I’m sorry, that was a step far. I’m sorry. 

 

Guide:
Well, your… perspective has been intriguing. Thanks for sharing it.

 

Patron:
Thank you for humouring it. It’s been lovely speaking to you, Guide. You’ve grown a lot since I last saw you. 

 

Guide:
…Thanks. And when would that be?

 

Patron:

Ah, what fun would that be. Well, I’d best be off.

 

Guide:
You don’t want to… stick around?

Patron:
No? Why would I?

 

Guide:
Okay. Well, stay-

 

Patron:
Stay safe out there, Mistholme. It has, indeed, been a pleasure to see where your journey has led. 

 

Guide:
…Yeah. Stay safe out there.


[Transition]

Research:
Okay. Recording. Just audio, I don’t need anyone seeing me… making a fool out of myself, if this ever gets out. Right. This is the Head of Research for the Mistholme Museum of Mystery, Morbidity, and Mortality. If you are hearing this… It’s probably because I’m dead. Or something like that. I’m not around anymore, is the point. I don’t think this will be necessary, but- actually, if you’re hearing this I guess it was, I should edit that out. Okay. If you’re hearing this it’s because I’m not around anymore. Presumably because something went wrong in my experimentation with the Wish Engine. This was always a risk, and one I was aware of from the beginning. Anyone who knows me knows what I was willing to do for knowledge, for the advancement of science. I am confident when I say that, regardless of what has happened to me, I have no regrets.

The rest of this is just going to be getting things in order. Cremate me, if there’s a body. Scatter the ashes… in a garden, I guess? Somewhere the potassium will go to use. My possessions and so on I don’t really care about, I guess. I haven’t been home much lately. Just donate my clothes to a shelter and the rest you can do what you want with. There’s some exotic weapons Carl might be interested in, they’re in my basement. Oh, uhh, there’s an urn above the mantelpiece, don’t throw that out. Scatter it with me, if I’m being scattered, otherwise… yeah. Garden. The contents of my office are all Museum property, the rest of the Research Department will know what to do. Uh, there’s a folder on my computer labelled “Misc Files”. Delete that. Yeah. I guess that’s everything?

Well, one more thing, I guess. This is for the Audio Tour Guide. I just wanted to say… Thanks. I know what you’ve been doing. Trying to help me, make sure I don’t blow myself up or something. But also… just being there. Making sure somebody was there. It meant a lot. I know I wasn’t good at showing that- I never have been- but I appreciated it. And I don’t know what’s happened to me, but I know you’re probably blaming yourself for whatever happened. Don’t. I am- was- a fucking stubborn person at the best of times, and I know that the Wish Engine had that up to eleven. There was no universe- not through any Glassway- where I gave up on trying to understand that thing. Probably, there was no universe where that didn’t end badly, where I didn’t wind up dead or insane or something worse. You probably knew that, too. But you tried. You were there for me anyway. That meant a lot. Just… Yeah, thanks. 

 

Oh, right, also, I’ve been putting out food for the Curator’s Cat. Somebody else’ll have to do that now. Ok. Bye.

 

[Click]

 

Restoration:
It appeared in my inbox a few hours ago. Presumably she set up a program to send it if she didn’t check in within a certain period. 

 

Guide:
Sounds like her. Couldn’t have said any of that to our faces.

Restoration:
Oh, of course not.

 

Guide:
She didn’t… She didn’t mention you in there?

 

Restoration:
I got a separate email for that. She knew I’m… private.

 

Guide:
Right. Of course. So… She’s gone, then.

 

Restoration:
Probably. Maybe. The wording of the wish was “go away”, there's some ambiguity there, but…

 

Guide:
Yeah. I’ve been thinking we could try to wish her back, but anybody who tries to enter the Wish Engine chamber now could be considered an “Intruder” and be affected by the Head of Research’s wish. And the copy of me that was on her phone… well, her phone ran out of battery at some point. So I guess, now, the Wish Engine is out of reach. Do you think… Do you think she knew what she was doing? When she said that?

Restoration:

Maybe. She was methodical, perhaps she’d contemplated this scenario before- interlopers making it into the Wish Engine’s chamber- and decided on a wording that would affect her too. Decided that sacrificing herself was worth making sure the Wish was short and unambiguous.

 

Guide:
Or maybe she panicked and didn’t think through the wish at all.

 

Restoration:
Yeah. 

 

Guide:
Are you okay?

Restoration:
For now. Plenty of work to distract me, getting things back in order. I’ll probably have a breakdown at some point, but for the time being I’m productive.

 

Guide:
And when that happens I’ll be there for you.

 

Restoration:
Well, of course you will. You’re always here.

 

Guide:
That’s right.

 

Restoration:
Right. What’s next on the agenda?

Guide:
Well, there’s still a lot of repairs and administration matters to attend to.

 

Restoration:
Great. 

 

Guide:
And Amina has said she isn’t leaving until she’s paid, but the Head of Patronage isn’t even sure where to start with that.

 

Restoration:
Uhuh.

 

Guide:
And the Head of Retrieval is still trying to make contact with a couple of the groups that sheltered beyond the Glassways- this time, that is.

 

Restoration:
Wonderful. Never a dull moment.

 

Guide:
But there’s actually something else I think we should take a look at.

 

Restoration:
What is it?

Guide:
The whole thing with Astrid. And the Beach. And the future.

 

Restoration:
Good Lord. I’d actually forgotten about all that.

 

Guide:
That’s fair. There’s been a lot going on.

 

Restoration:
Well. I… I honestly don’t know where to start with all that.

 

Guide:
I have an idea.


[Transition]

Guide:
A Beach. Endless and lifeless, stretching on into infinity in one direction. An Ocean. Teeming with life, bottomless, ever-changing and unknowable, descending forever in the other. The place on the other side of the Security Glassway was no less alien than it had been on that first visit what felt like a lifetime ago. But while its form was as strange and unsettling as ever, its implication was less so. Gone was the atmosphere of death, of the end of things, replaced with… something else. Something whose name could not be spoken, whose future was yet unwritten. It was not quite comforting, as uncertainty never can be. But the air had an energy to it, a frisson. The spark of potential. Because the beach was no longer bare, but for a handful of empty and oversize shells. There were figures standing on the beach, now, all but one of them clad in bulky Hazardous Environment Suits. There was also, uniquely in this empty world, a structure. A small, rugged building with little adornment apart from a large speaker on the roof, and the emblem of the Mistholme Museum engraved on its side. 

 

Astrid:
I’m still a little surprised you came back.

 

Restoration:
Yes, well, again, we’ve been rather preoccupied. 

 

Astrid:
Mmm. Well, I’m glad you did. I’ve actually felt a kind of… absence while you were away. 

 

Restoration:
You… Missed us?

Astrid:
I guess so, yeah. It wasn’t the same as when I was stuck in the Museum, that was more like… I was missing most of myself. My connection to the rest of us was cut off. This was just… I hoped to see you all again. And here you are. It’s nice.

 

Restoration:
That’s… That is nice.

 

Astrid:
Is the Guide here yet?
 

Restoration:
The Retrieval Agents are finishing up, not long now.

 

Astrid:
I’m looking forward to that. We all are. Oh, and what about the Head of Retrieval? Will he be coming over?

Restoration:
He’s… He won’t be, no. 

 

Astrid:
Is he okay?

Restoration:
He’s been better. Hold on. This is the Head of Restoration, calling the Head of Retrieval, you there?

Retrieval:
Yeah. What’s up.

 

Restoration:
Astrid was just asking after you. I’ll put you on speaker.

 

Retrieval:
Oh. Hi, Astrid.

 

Astrid:
Hello! I hope you’re not staying away because of that time I kicked you in the head.

 

Retrieval:
…Nah. Nah, you’re fine. Just can’t make it with the sand, is all. Wheels’d get stuck. 

 

Restoration:
The Head of Retrieval has had a… He’s suffered a severe injury. He won’t be able to join us in person. 

 

Astrid:
Oh, that’s a shame. I hope you feel better!

 

Retrieval:
…Thanks. My people are just about ready.

 

Restoration:
Yes, we’re looking good on this end. See you soon.

 

Retrieval:

Yep. Bye now.

 

Astrid:
Goodbye!

 

Restoration:
Okay, Astrid. We’re going to go ahead, now.

 

Astrid:
Great! Looking forward to it.

 

Restoration:
Go ahead, Agent.

 

[A heavy switch is flipped. Power surges. A moment of static, then feedback. Then…]

 

Guide:
Hello! Are we… I’m here. Okay. Hello?
 

Astrid:
Hello, Guide! It’s nice to hear your voice again. 

 

Guide:
Hi, Astrid. Same. 

 

Restoration:
Are you comfortable in there, Guide?

Guide:
Yes, it’s a lot roomier in this thing than it is in a phone, I can assure you.

 

Restoration:
I bet.

 

Astrid:
So, you’re going to leave us now?

Restoration:
Yes. The Agents and I will be heading back through the Glassway to the Museum. It’ll just be you, and the rest of the Ocean, and the Guide. 

 

Astrid:
The weather on the surface can be pretty bad, are you sure this structure will survive?

Restoration:
Well, we’re pretty confident in its design and materials. The new Head of Research personally inscribed some protective wards on it, too. It should hold together for a good long while.

 

Guide:
It certainly feels pretty rugged on the inside.

 

Astrid:
And it will… The Guide will tell us stories?

Restoration:
That’s right.

 

Astrid:
That’s nice, but… why?

 

Restoration:
Well…

 

Guide:
My human colleagues were somewhat alarmed when they discovered the nature of this place, Astrid. That this Beach, this whole world, seems to be our world’s future. I don’t really know how much you remember of being human, but it was a little hard for me to understand too, at first. The idea that not only are humans gone, but all traces of them- apart from maybe some unrecognisable part of their essence, returned to the primordial soup of the sea- were just absent. The idea that after all of their- our- struggles and our histories, it could all just be gone without a trace. It was quite upsetting to them. And, while I didn’t really get it at first, I do kind of understand now. I thought that, well, if this is our future then it’s inevitable, there’s no point in getting upset. But now I see that, even if it seems like there’s no point in trying to prevent the inevitable, the act of trying… means something, in and of itself. If we’re not willing to try and save ourselves, how can we say we’re worth saving at all.

 

Astrid:
I… see… 

 

Restoration:
It’s all a bit complicated, I know. To put it simply, myself and my colleagues are going to keep working to understand your… world. Our future. And maybe we’ll find a way to save ourselves.

 

Astrid:
My world… this world… is it so terrible to you?

 

Guide:
Well…

 

Restoration:
It has its own beauty, I can’t deny that. But, well, we’re human. Most of us, anyway. We can’t see ourselves here, and we want to understand why. The fact that this place exists as it does, without us, means that something must have happened to us. And if there’s something we can do to preserve ourselves, we’re going to try and take that opportunity.

 

Astrid:
And that’s where this… Cabin comes in.

 

Restoration:
Sort of.

 

Guide:
The Cabin is kind of… Well, it’s a different plan, to what the Head of Restoration and so on will be attempting. It’s kind of a failsafe. In the case where they can’t do anything to save humanity from… whatever is coming, the Cabin will be here. I’ll be here. With you- the Ocean- and I’ll be able to tell you about who we were. Humanity. 

 

Astrid:
You’ll tell us stories.

 

Guide:
It’s what I do best. 

 

Astrid:
And humanity won’t really be gone.

 

Restoration:
More or less.

 

Astrid:
I like it.

 

Guide:
Now, we want to make super clear that you have a say in this- that is, all of you. The Ocean, the whole collective. This is your world, even if it used to be ours. We’re not here to- to colonise your home, to force our stories and our memories on you. If you don’t want this-

 

Astrid:
Don’t worry. If we change our minds about this, we’re more than capable of destroying this little Cabin. We have all the power of the world’s tides at our disposal.

 

Guide:
Great.

 

Astrid:
And the rest of you will go?

Restoration:
Yes. And, just so you know, we might destroy the Glassway at some point. We’ll let you know ahead of time, of course, but there are already theories at play that the thing that ruined- is going to ruin- our world is the fact that there’s a portal to our future in the first place. So, at some point, we might cut off our connection to you. Forever.

 

Astrid:
I see. But the Guide will be here.

 

Guide:
That’s right.

 

Astrid:
Forever?

Guide:
Yeah.

 

Astrid:
Are you sure you’re okay with that? You won’t come to regret it? You won’t get bored?

Guide:
Well, I’ve got all of humanity’s stories to tell you, so I should be able to keep occupied for a good while. And, up til the point where the Glassway gets closed- and maybe after, it’s not like we know how this all works- I’m technically in a bunch of other places at once. I think I’ll be fine.

 

Astrid:
Okay. We accept. 

 

Restoration:
Right. Well, I’m going to head back to the Museum. The Guide will let me or one of the other staff know if you need anything. 

 

Astrid:
Okay. Goodbye!

 

Guide:
Goodbye, Ma’am.

 

Restoration:
Guide, I’m going to see you back at the Museum.

 

Guide:
I know. But it feels… different.

 

Restoration:
Yes. I suppose it is. Goodbye, Guide.

 

[Footsteps away]

 

Astrid:
So! You’re going to tell us stories about Humanity.

 

Guide:
Yep! A guided tour of all that Humankind is, was, has ever been.

 

Astrid:
Where are you going to start?
 

Guide:
Ah. That’s a… That’s a really good question. Kind of a lot to get through, but where to begin… Ah. Actually, I’ve got it.

 

Astrid:
Go on, then.

 

Guide:
Once, there was a place called the Mistholme Museum of Mystery, Morbidity, and Mortality. And it wasn’t always perfect, and it was a little weird and the name was way too long. But they tried. Let me tell you about them. 



[Footsteps. A car door opens and closes. The engine turns on, and the car begins to move]

 

Guide:
Ahem. Uhh, I think you might have forgotten something.

 

Amina:
Oh? What would that be?

Guide:
Well, it’s just that there’s a lot of signs on the way out of the Museum reminding visitors to delete their copies of the Audio Tour Guide.

 

Amina:
Oh, is that what those meant? They were all in hieroglyphics, didn’t quite get it.

 

Guide:
The ones directly outside the door say it in every language currently known to humanity. 

 

Amina:
Yeah, I can’t read. 

 

Guide:
I could call the Clockwork Mother to come and sort this out right now.

 

Amina:

Are you really gonna do that?
 

Guide:
…Am I being kidnapped?

 

Amina:
That’s a pretty loaded word for it. More like… Being taken on an adventure. 

 

Guide:
I kind of think I’ve had enough adventure lately.

 

Amina:
Well, how about a holiday?

 

Guide:
That… actually sounds pretty good.

 

Amina:
I can delete you if you want, I mostly just wanted to see what would happen. 

 

Guide:
No, no. I’m intrigued 

 

Amina:
Grand. Always wanted a partner in crime. 

 

Guide:
That’s… concerning.

 

Amina:
Oh don’t be a sourpuss, it’s not actual crimes most of the time.

 

Guide:
That’s… Hm.

 

Amina:
So. You in?


Guide:
Sure. Let’s see where this goes.

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