top of page

Episode Fifty-Eight: ENDLESS

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 temporary dismemberment that may occur during your visit.

Retrieval:
Alright, Guide? You ready?

Guide:
Ah! Hello, sir. Ready for…?

Retrieval:
Interrogation. Astrid, remember? I’m outside the Security Shelter.

Guide:
Oh! Of course, yes. I wasn’t sure if you were still planning to do that.

Retrieval:
Just been letting her sweat for a bit. Get her off-centre… assuming that’s possible, of course.

 

Guide:

Hey- the other day, when you said, "Due process only applies to humans", was that... i just wanna check, was that a joke or...?  

Retrieval:

When i... huh? Oh yeah, right, that was just a joke. 

Guide:

Right.  Yeah. Because, you know... shes more than just seafoam, she’s... well, i guess we're going in there to figure out what she is, but still

Retrieval:

Yeah, Guide, i know. Just... yeah, obviously she probably meets whatever our definitions for a person is at this point, its just all been a lot around here lately you know. 

Guide: 

Well, yes it's understandable that you're stressed, i just wanted to make sure that... i just don't think its constructive to think in those terms, of what qualifies as a person.  

Retrieval:

Well yeah. Obviously, yeah. 

Guide:
Ok. According to security footage she’s just been… sitting in the former Security Shelter. Waiting. She could have gone back through the Glassway to the Beach at any point but she’s just been… waiting.

Retrieval:
Guide it’s been three days.

Guide:
Yes sir. I am aware of the implications.

Retrieval:
Yeah, great. Okay. I’ve told the Agents who were guarding the Shelter to pull out of the Security Section, just in case. Not risking anyone else but me.

Guide:
Are you sure you-

Retrieval:
Yes. Let’s just get on with this.

Guide:
Okay. Opening the door to the Security Shelter now.

[The door swings open slowly]

Astrid:
Hello!

Retrieval:
Astrid. I’m here with a copy of the Audio Tour Guide again. Wanted to ask you some questions about-

Astrid:
It’s good to see you again, Jeremy.

Retrieval:
…That’s not my name.

Astrid:
Isn’t it? Sorry, I must have… gotten you mixed up with someone else.

Retrieval:
I’m the Head of Retrieval for the Mistholme Museum-

Astrid:
Museum, yes. Sorry, I just… it’s been so long!

Retrieval:
Ah, few months.

Astrid:
Yes, I suppose it wouldn’t seem like much. From your perspective.

Retrieval:
Does time work… differently, where you’re from?

Astrid:
I don’t think so.

Retrieval:
Right. Okay. Great. Great start.

Astrid:
And how are you, Guide?

Guide:
Uh. Can I talk?

Retrieval:
Yeah, go on.

Guide:
Well, I’m ok. Had some rough times but things have quieted down a little bit.

Astrid:
That’s… good.

Guide:
How are you?

Astrid:
Me?

Guide:
Yeah. How are you… feeling?

Astrid:
Me… Me is feeling… okay.

Guide:
Okay…

Retrieval:
Alright, well, clearly we’ve got lots to cover here. Such as… whatever your whole deal is, these days. But for starters I’d like to ask why you wanted to come back here. To the Museum.

Astrid:
What do you mean?

Retrieval:
Christ, it’s gonna be like this. On the beach, you said- you insisted that you were going to come back to the Museum with me.

Astrid:
Oh. You’re confused.

Retrieval:
I… certainly am, but what do you mean specifically?

Astrid:
When I- oh, I said “Me is feeling okay” earlier. Sorry.

Retrieval:
What?

Astrid:
I said “Me is feeling okay”, but that should be “I am feeling okay”. I haven’t thought in these terms for a very long time.

Retrieval:
Sure. Whatever. You were saying about why you came back here?

Astrid:
Yes. You thought that I wanted to come back here, but that’s not the case.

Retrieval:
What is the case, then?

Astrid:
That I did.

Retrieval:
The fu… You’re not making any sense, Astrid. Do you want me to come back another time?

Astrid:
See, you’ve done it again!

Retrieval:
Done what.

Astrid:
It’s not a matter of what I want. It just… is. I didn’t choose to come back here, I didn’t want to. I did. I was always going to come back here. My “thoughts” on the matter don’t… matter. Just like how you’re going to come back another time, regardless of what I say.

Retrieval:
Yeah ok. Great. I’ll-

Guide:
If I may, sir?

Retrieval:
Yep. Go nuts.

Guide:
Astrid, do you mean to say that you lack agency in this? That whether or not you wanted to come back, you were going to. In a sort of… predestination… sense?

Astrid:
I don’t mean that.

Guide:
Oh. Sorry, I just-

Astrid:
I said that.

Guide:
You said it… but you don’t mean it.

Retrieval:
This making sense to you?

Guide:
I think she’s saying… She doesn’t have any motivation for her actions. She’s just… playing out a script, almost?

Astrid:
Yes.

Retrieval:
Like a machine. Or, a simple one.

Guide:
Or one so unbelievably complex its thought processes are just beyond us.

Astrid:
Yes.

Retrieval:
Are you a machine, Astrid?

Astrid:
That is two ways to describe me. Neither complete.

Guide:
Two?

Astrid:
As a machine. And as Astrid.

Guide:
Neither complete? As in… you’re not quite a machine, and not quite Astrid.

Astrid:
I’m more like… A memory of her. A hazy one. Or rather, this body is. If you can call it that.

Retrieval:
You say that like this body isn’t you.

Astrid:
It’s more like an… extension. An offshoot. Normally, there isn’t an Astrid anymore, but when you arrived on the beach a memory was brought to the surface- literally. Sort of like a pseudopod being formed to fit a purpose.

Retrieval:
And what are you… an offshoot of?

Astrid:
The Sea.

Retrieval:
The Sea. As in… can you elaborate?

Astrid:
It’s all there is, where I’m from.

Guide:
The place on the other side of that Glassway? What happened to the rest of… your world? Was it destroyed somehow?

Astrid:
No.

Retrieval:
Well then what do you mean, the Sea is all there is?

Astrid:
Everything is part of the Sea. It’s not like everything else was destroyed or anything. They’re just… part of the Sea now. And the Sea is part of everything.

Guide:
What caused that? Did something happen to make this… Sea?

Astrid:
There wasn’t any one thing. It was a gradual thing, over time. A very long time. There was no… intent behind it. It was a process of accumulation, of one strange thing leading to another, and by the time anyone noticed it had already happened.

Guide:

So the sea just… over time, became something else? A living thing, in itself, all of its own accord?

Astrid:

It’s more like, the strangeness flowed downstream and collected in the sea. And over time, the sea became the Sea. The signs are probably out there already, if you knew how to look.

Retrieval:
Signs? Like, the process beginning to happen in our world?

Astrid:
Well, it’s always been beginning, and it never really began.

Retrieval:
Christ, she- it’s talking in riddles now.

Astrid:
I don’t mean to confuse you. Honestly. We just have very different perspectives on things. That, plus this vessel is only a tiny fraction of my usual self, compressed into a strange shape.

Guide:
So… you, what we’re talking to now. You’re a part of this Sea in Astrid’s form.

Astrid:
Yes. She and her companions came to me, and became part of me, then they were torn away, then they returned. Astrid, as you knew her, is gone. But she is within me. In a way.

Retrieval:
You have her memories?

Astrid:
For now. I remember… the Museum. Work. I remember coming back here, and desperately wanting to leave, to return to the Sea. She- I had felt the joy of being everything and nothing all at once, and the sensation of being compressed into such a small form, the idea she might never return. It almost broke me. But that place. The… Hidden Wing. It awoke something in me. Or perhaps I just noticed something that was always there. I felt like it made sense, that place, that I’d always known about it, even though I’d never known it existed before you took me prisoner. I knew there was somewhere I had to go if I could only get the chance to explore it. So I had the other prisoners attack me- they wanted to return to the Sea just as much as I did- I had them attack me. And when I was being wheeled through the Hidden Wing, I figured it out. I got free-

Retrieval:
[Grunts]

Astrid:

I didn’t even know where I was going, but I knew that once I got there everything would fall into place. And then I found that machine, and knew what I had to do. Because I’d always already done it. I wished to have the knowledge I’d always had, closing the loop. And then I wished that we could all go home. And we did.

Retrieval:
Yep. That lines up with our account of events. Give or take a detail.

Astrid:

Ha. That’s still a pretty fresh memory. Things rarely keep one shape in the Sea, I’m sure you understand. Parts of who she was, and the other members of your… Security Department, are still intact, in a way. But they will drift apart, in time. It’s beautiful. Ever-changing, incomprehensible, but so peaceful.

Retrieval:
Right. Well, that’s closure on one matter. Part of why we’re doing all this.

Astrid:
I’m happy to help.

Retrieval:

…Right. You seem to be in a much better mood than you were during our previous chats.

Astrid:
Like I said, we were all scared that we might not be able to go home. We were confused. It was difficult to go from being a tiny and ephemeral part of something greater to just… ourselves, again.

Guide:
This Sea… is it, like, it’s a Hive Mind right? It’s all of humanity’s souls merged into one?

Astrid:
No. Not really. Maybe once there were individual souls there, but they’ve been part of the current for so long they’re not really recognisable- same as will happen to me, before long.

Guide:
But there’s no other life on your world apart from… The Sea.

Astrid:
That’s right.

Guide:
That kind of brings us to another thing we’ve been wondering about.

Retrieval:
Yeah. Your world, the place on the other side of the Security Glassway. We have a suspicion that it might be… Earth.

Astrid:
Yes, of course it is. Not that it really gets called that, or anything these days.

Retrieval:
No, I mean, this Earth, but in the future. Not an alternate one, this Earth, however long down the line.

Astrid:
Maybe.

Retrieval:
You don’t know.

Astrid:
I don’t “know” much. I’ve known lots of things, but it’s all just… debris that gets caught up in the current. It decomposes and becomes something else, and whatever it used to be doesn’t matter anymore.

Retrieval:
So you don’t even know your own history. You, being the Sea. I guess I’m talking to a fucking sea.

Astrid:
I’m sorry that I can’t be of more help.

Retrieval:
Well you haven’t kicked me in the head so I prefer this to our last encounter.

Astrid:
I’m glad.

Retrieval:
Jesus Christ- okay, I think we should… call that a day, for now. Not really how I expected this to go, kind of think we should talk to the other Heads of Department and see where we go from here.

Guide:
Do you know anything about a person we know called The Man With A Voice Like Chocolate and Coffee and Honey All At Once.

Astrid:
I can’t say it sounds familiar. Lovely name, though.

Guide:
Yeah, alright. Just wanted to make sure these two… threads weren’t connected after all.

Astrid:
You’ve changed since we last spoke, Guide.

Guide:
What?

Astrid:
My memories aren’t perfect, as I’ve said, but I remember you being a bit less… self-assured. Like you were afraid to overstep at any moment. I prefer this version.

Guide:
…Thanks. I guess, you and me, we’re kind of- kind of- similar. Both big sprawling minds with weird little offshoots doing their own thing.

Astrid:
Yes. I thought about making that comparison myself, but didn’t want to seem too offputting.

Retrieval:
Oh yeah, heaven forbid you be offputting-

Guide:
Wait. You were going to make that comparison? How would you even know to… Yeah, actually, that’s right. The last time we interrog- interviewed you, you didn’t seem confused that there was a copy of me present. Like it wasn’t out of the ordinary, even though you shouldn’t have known that my status had changed.

Astrid:
Well, there are still some persistent bits of detritus floating in the Sea, you know. And when that version of Astrid met that version of you… it sparked a memory. She wasn’t part of the Sea, but some of it had soaked into her- that’s how she and the rest of the Department could communicate. And you are… memorable enough, that something of your being had persisted within the Sea even after all this time.

Guide:
Is… Do you mean that at some point in your past, I became part of the Sea?

Astrid:
I don’t know. Maybe. Or maybe you were just so memorable that you persisted in our consciousness longer than most other things. Who knows how long you’ll persist, how many copies will be made. Your lifespan and spread are theoretically infinite.

Retrieval:
Now she’s sounding like the Head of Research.

Astrid:
Yes, this has been a little taxing for me. Presenting as Astrid for so long, in this limited form. We’re beginning to lose track of her personality.

Guide:
And your own pronouns. Well, let’s table this for now. Come back for more… incomprehensible chit-chat later.

Astrid:
Looking forward to it.

Retrieval:
Yeah. Bye.

[The door shuts behind them]

What do we call that then, Guide? Mark in the column for “she’s from our future” or not.

Guide:
Honestly I’m starting to miss the Fairies. At least I didn’t have to pretend all that made sense.

[Retrieval's phone vibrates. It's the Head of Restoration.]

Restoration:
Okay, so… is the person in there Astrid or… not?

Retrieval:
Buggered if I know.

Guide:
Maybe, like, a memory of her?

Restoration:
Great. So we’ve done all this to get some kind of closure, and instead we’ve just got more questions.

Retrieval:
What else is new?

Restoration:
Wonderful. What about the hypothesis that Beach might be in the future?

Guide:
This Astrid’s concept of time… I don’t know if that’s really a question she can comprehend, let alone answer.

Retrieval:
Yeah, don’t you know that in the Sea it’s all waves and there’s no past present or future… or something.

Restoration:
Marvellous. Well, she seems much more at ease than she did when we last had her in custody, so that’s something. If this is even the same Astrid. The next step will be taking some samples from her. If we can determine more about her physical nature we’ll be able to work from there.

Guide:
Will you be getting the Head of Research to handle that?

Restoration:
No, I’d rather like it to actually happen, so I suppose I’ll take on that responsibility myself. Hardly the first time I’ve taken something off her hands lately, I’ll just add it to the same pile as the Fairy Bell.

Retrieval:
Probably for the best. Anything I can do to help?

Restoration:
Well, I had been thinking about ways we could learn more about the… Beach-World… no, that won’t do, we’ll need to come up with a name for it. Anyway, do you know of any methods for how we might be able to locate the beach on our world- or, our time, rather. Could we plant a beacon of some sort on our world in our time that we could look for on the other side of the Glassway, to determine if there’s a correlation?

Retrieval:
I mean, maybe, but I don’t see it being easy. If it’s as far in the future as the Head of Research reckons, then every satellite's gonna have de-orbited by now. So, geolocation’s gonna be… I don’t wanna say impossible, but, time consuming. Maybe we could put up a drone on the other side to get a higher view, but to get a view that’s gonna be any use it’ll need to be a big enough drone that we’d need to assemble it on the other side, and then we’re getting into the question of whether or not we want to put any of our people on the other side to do that.

Restoration:
Yes, I see. One of the few things we know about that place is, after all, that people who go there have a tendency to come back… wrong.

Guide:
Can I just check, is this the “oh good, a puzzle to solve” kind of frustration, or the “oh god why are we doing this to ourselves” kind?

[In unison]

Restoration:

The first one

Retrieval:
The second one.

Guide:
Right. Well, let me know if there’s-

[The phone vibrates again. Retrieval grunts]

Retrieval:
Gimme a sec. Uh. Hm. Guide, you’re hooked into the monitoring station over in Fairy land?

Guide:

…Yes, although I don’t keep it in the forefront of my attentions for reasons I’m sure you’ll understand.

Retrieval:

Yeah, well, I think you’re gonna want to check in. I’m getting reports of-

Guide:
Movement. Yes, I’m seeing it now.

Restoration:
Movement? Isn’t the Glassway in the Fae realm in a forest, it could just be an animal.

Retrieval:
Nah, the area around the Glassway was burnt up when the Guide and the Clockwork Mother escaped.

Guide:
One of the Fae indicated that they could control the fire, but I think the Queen got a little mad and let it burn after we got away.

Retrieval:
I’m heading to the shelter now. Do you see anything, Guide?

Guide:
There’s so much ash in the air, I can’t make out more than just a shape.

Restoration:

Do we need to go into lockdown?

Guide:
I don’t…

Retrieval:

The shelter is already sealed, so that shouldn’t be necessary. Just-

Guide:
Something’s approaching the cameras.

Retrieval:
Get me some more Agents to Shelter 601 right now, we need-

Guide:
Oh my…

Restoration:

Guide? What is it, Guide?

[Crossfade to the Monitoring Station. Dry wind and ash in the air.]

Guide:
It’s… I didn’t think…

THE BEAST:

[It’s breath is ragged, its voice hoarse. It has not recovered from its many injuries.]

Hello… Guide…

bottom of page