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Episode Forty-Two: HEEDLESS

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 impulse purchases that may occur during your visit.

Enjoy your tour.

And good luck.

 

Mountain

THE BEAST:

Just a little bit further, Mistholme! I’m usually faster than this, but having to hold your little box slows me down. I could hold it in my mouth, but that wouldn’t be very nice for you! Ha! [A pause] I’m pretty good at climbing, you know. I was all the way up in a tree, when we first met, do you remember! So this isn’t too much trouble for me. The air is a little bitter up here though, makes it rough on the throat. Have to breathe more just to… breathe, does that make sense?

Guide:

That’s because the higher you are, the thinner the air is.

THE BEAST:

Thinner?

Guide:

There’s less oxygen in it. You breathe to get oxygen so when there’s less oxygen you have to breathe more.

THE BEAST:

I… You’re smart, Mistholme! I don’t really understand what you’re saying but I bet you’re right, whatever it is!

Guide:

Sure.

THE BEAST:

…Ha. So, a little higher now. I don’t usually go this high but I thought you might like the proper view, eh? All my domain spread out below, it’s quite something!

Guide:

Sure is a forest.

THE BEAST:

Heh… Usually a bit more eloquent than that! Aren’t you going to do some of your… “Narration” about it?

Guide:

That’s just something that happens. Can’t force it.

THE BEAST:

But… okay. Just one more… Hup! There we go! Mistholme, behold my domain! [Beat] What do you think?

Guide:

[Emotionless] It’s amazing.

THE BEAST:

Heh… Yes. Do you have any stories about mountains, Mistholme? Quite a place to tell one, I think!

Guide:

I already told you one about a mountain. It ended with-

THE BEAST:

Yes. I remember. But… do you have any others? An adventure about climbing a mountain, it’s quite the setting for a tale I would think!

Guide:

Oh, actually, I do know a story like that. A Retrieval team exploring a mountain and finding an ancient metal disc inside.

THE BEAST:

Ah! That sounds like just the sort of-

Guide:

And then at the end they all get slaughtered by monsters.

THE BEAST:

…Right.

Guide:

Would you like me to tell that story?

THE BEAST:

No, that’s… I think I’ll rest for a little. Took it out of me a bit, the climb.

Guide:

Yes, and I imagine your injuries didn’t help.

THE BEAST:

I’m fine. Don’t worry, I’ll just… take a few minutes.

Guide:

Here there be monsters.

THE BEAST:

What was that?

 

Guide:

Don’t worry about it.

 

Helping Research

Research:

Okay… that’ll do for now. Guide? This is the Head of Research, you there?

Guide:

Uhh. Yes ma’am. I’m here. And so are you, I see.

Research:

Yeah yeah, you gonna make a big stink about it or are you gonna get on with it and help me out?

Guide:

What can I do for you today.

Research:

Good. Please pass along to one of my assistants that I need my tapes of Fulman’s Treatises on the Impermanent brought to my office, remind them that they’ll need to stay there and observe them until I come to grab them or else they’ll disappear. Got that?

Guide:

Yes ma’am. Would you like me to have them bring it here, or-

Research:

No, I said my office. Nice try, Guide.

Guide:

Yes, well, I imagine you haven’t told your subordinates how you get in here anyway, have you? So much for the free flow of information.

Research:

I never said anything about the free flow of information. You’re right, though, I have kept this little secret to myself. Safer that way. The others are right that the Engine has a lot of potential to be dangerous. Can’t trust anyone else with access.

Guide:

Yes, of course. Only you. Look I can’t stop you from coming here-

Research:

Because if you told on me it would only lead to an even bigger mess and you just hate drama.

Guide:

Yes. So, I’ll keep an eye on you and try to keep this situation as controlled as possible.

Research:

Yes, yes, very noble of you.

Guide:

In exchange, I would appreciate if you could at least tell me how you found a.. A back entrance to this place. I’m the Museum after all, I’m… curious, I guess, about parts of my layout that are unknown to me.

Research:

Hey, see, there’s something we have in common, Guide! Learning as much as I could about this place was the first thing I did after I was hired. Course, with the shifting layout you can’t learn specifics, or why it shifts, but you can learn about how it shifts, you know? The rules, or maybe the impulses? Anyway, eventually once you understand what happens when the shifts happen, eventually you find that there are other ways to get around than just walking the halls. I don’t have a shortcut here- I have shortcuts everywhere.

Guide:

Wow. You know, that kind of information would be quite useful if you shared it…

Research:

Come on, Guide. Give me some credit here. I haven’t kept it secret- Hell, my work on understanding the nature of the Museum is one of the main reasons I wound up with the Head Researcher role. My theories on the Museum’s nature are freely available, they’re probably kept in the Secure Archive for security reasons of course. Course, almost nobody else has been able to understand it on any practical level. It’s one thing to have the data, it’s a whole other thing to apply it. And besides, we’ve had other ways of getting around. The Security Department is phase-shifted over the top of the Museum, so they could get around even without the back ways.

Guide:

I see. So, the other Heads of Department know about your… “Back Ways”?

Research:

…Yeah, for sure. Look, the ban on me coming here, that’s just a formality. They know that I can get in here, that meeting was all just theatrics you know? Just, wagging the finger, ‘don’t you get into any trouble’ you know.

Guide:

I don’t think that’s true, ma’am.

Research:

Okay. So, have you let my assistants know I want the Treatises? They’re on an audio cassette, I record all my books so I can get around the “No Written Word” thing.

Guide:

Yes. I’ve let them know. Not sure why you didn’t just wish for a copy if you’re going to break in here anyway.

Research:

Why, because I’m being careful, Guide.

 

Guide:

Will there be anything else, ma’am?

Research:

That’ll do for now. Cheers, Guide!

Guide:

Goodbye, ma’am.

 

A Desk Fan

Ah, this is exciting! You are actually the first Patron to ever visit this particular exhibit. It was only recently acquired by The Museum, and only went on display this morning! Sometimes it takes months for new exhibits to be found by visitors, so you’re very lucky indeed. As you can see, this exhibit initially appears to be a perfectly normal desk fan, made from metal in a style I am told is called “retro 70s chic”. However, it is much more than that! If you’ll a take a step around the plinth on which the fan is placed, to look at it from the side… Yes, you’re seeing it now aren’t you! From this angle you can see that this simple desk fan is, in fact, completely two-dimensional! As the angle shifts it might appear to merely be extremely thin, like paper, but from a perfect 90 degree angle it becomes clear that it is actually not present on the Z-Axis… or something like that. Humans exist on a three-dimensional level, but perceive the world in two dimensions and your brains fill in the blanks. An object that can be perceived by humans that actually exists solely in two dimensions is, as far as the Research Department is concerned, previously unheard of. And would you believe that such a remarkable object could come from such a humble place as the desk of a minor diplomat, in a small country, who should never have amounted to anything. But who, in no small part thanks to the fan, went on to change the world.

The diplomat’s name was Snorri, and he was a humble man. He-

The Atmospheric Sound cuts out.

Uh. Are you quite alright? Apologise if this is rude, but you look a little bit-

Oh! Oh dear, are you- oh no, uhh, Patronage Department? A valued patron requires the infirmary. And, uhh, cleanup at the Two-Dimensional Desk Fan. Are you alright? I really must apologise- there was some concern that this exhibit might be a bit much for some people to, ahh, comprehend? That it might be somewhat overwhelming but this is- Oh no it’s still going, there’s a lot in there, huh? That’s right, just… just let it out- ughh, humans are so… wet on the inside, oh no…

Uhh, would you like to hear about Snorri? And- and, the fan? Would that comfort you in some way until the medics arrive, or- oh okay you don’t want that. I, I’ll just stop talking for now. Uhh. Try to make sure you lie on your side. And, please don’t let this experience negatively reflect upon the Museum! We value feedback and… yes.

Perhaps we’ll take the fan off display for now.

 

The Consultant Part One

 

Sounds of people inc. Head of Retrieval struggling. A strange animal cries. Members of the Retrieval Department heave at ropes in unison.

Retrieval:

Pull, on the right! Come on put your weight into it, we just need to bring its centre of mass down and we can keep it under control. Just a little further- damn it, come on people put your weight into it! Make sure you don’t look in its eyes, keep the glasses on! Be a lot easier if we could just tranquillise the damn thing.

Guide:

The Museum has a firm policy against subjecting any creatures in the Stables to any form of chemical sedation-

Retrieval:

Sometimes people just say things guide, don’t worry about it. Alright, again! There we go! Once more, heave! Yes! Well done, people. Move it back into the cage, next one should be an easier go of it. I’ll be back.

Guide:

Excellent work, sir! Your department is really stepping up.

Retrieval:

Yeah, well, somebody has to. Patronage says the Stables aren’t their responsibility, gotta be bloody someone’s.

Guide:

Well, previously matters related to the Stables were carried out by a designated team in the Security Department.
 

Retrieval:

Yeah, that sounds about right. Mucking out the cages, exactly the sort of thing I signed up for. You know, that is not at all how I expected a Basilisk to look, I thought they were supposed to be, like, big snakes.

Guide:

Oh! Well, actually, the origins of the-

Retrieval:

Guide, I’m sorry, I really don’t have the energy for this right now. Was there something in particular you wanted to talk about?

Guide:

Ah, of course. Well, sir, you seem to have a visitor.

Retrieval:

…Who?

Guide:

A “J. Walter Montgomery”- ah, Professor Montgomery, actually. He says he’s here as a Consultant, seemed a little cagey about what exactly.

Retrieval:

Right, yeah… Uh, where is he?

Guide:

I’ve just got him in the foyer at the moment, sir.

Retrieval:

Yeah, probably for the best. Heading there now. He’s, well I don’t know him myself, he’s from some university in the States. I reached out to some old contacts to see if anyone might know what’s up with the Security Department. Nobody had any real leads, but then out of nowhere this Montgomery guy calls me up, says he has “urgent information” I need to know about.

Guide:

Oh. How did he know to contact you?

Retrieval:

Ah, he probably heard something from one of the people I contacted. Seems he used to be a pretty respected guy, I asked the Head of Research- when she finally got around to getting back to me she said she’s read a couple of papers he wrote. Obscure history or something. Went a bit strange a few years ago and lost his job, hasn’t heard much about him since.

Guide:

Right… And he says he knows something that could help up?

Retrieval:

Something like that. Got too close to something, cost him his job, been on the tail of it ever since.

Guide:

Do you believe him?

Retrieval:

I believe he lost his job.

Guide:

Right… Well, that’s him over there in the-

Retrieval:

Scuffed leather jacket, battered hat, creepy stare?

Guide:

…Yes, how did you-

Retrieval:

I know the type. Hello, I’m the Head of Retrieval for the Mistholme Museum. How can I help you?

Walt:

Hello, I contacted you recently regarding some information I thought you might find valuable.

Retrieval:

Yes, Professor Montgomery, isn’t it?

Walt:

Please, call me Walt. My time in academia is long past.

Retrieval:

Right. Okay, sure. Can I ask how you knew we were looking for information, actually? I don’t mean to be rude but I only contacted a handful of people and you weren’t one of them.

Walt:

Yes, of course. I was told of your recent… difficulties.

Retrieval:

By who?

Walt:

My cards.

Retrieval:

Cards. What are we talking here, Tarot Cards?

Walt:

No, just ordinary playing cards. I cast them to the ground and, by interpreting them, find my path forward.

Retrieval:

Right. Look, Professor- Walt. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, if you think you have information that will be useful to me then please send it via-

Walt:

Friends of yours- colleagues- have been… not themselves, recently. Is that right? Changed, in some way you can’t quite put your finger on, working together to an end you can’t quite comprehend. That sound familiar?

Retrieval:

…Did your cards tell you that?

Walt:

They told me to come here, and that I would find people there who had gone through something like what happened to me.

Retrieval:

Right. So…

Walt:

My colleagues at the University. Assistants and a few students who’d been working with me on… something. I don’t know if it happened quickly or slowly, I was too engrossed in my work, but eventually I realised that they were strangers to me. Something just behind the eyes, an uncanniness that couldn’t quite be unpicked. I told one of them something, and another would know it. I’ve always been one to burn the midnight oil, but they outdid me. Sheer unbroken focus. I don’t think they slept, it was more like they were cogs in a machine than the people I’d once known.
 

Retrieval:

I see.

 

Walt:

Tell me, friend. Does that sound familiar to you?

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