Episode 60: “A Clarion Calling”

Episode 60: "A Clarion Calling" The Sheridan Tapes

CONTENT WARNING: Loud noises, supernatural disturbances aboard a commercial airliner, mentions of disappearances and memory loss, dread, and terror1207019: Back at Meriwether between missions, Maria listens to a tape from Anna's investigations in Wellington, New Zealand.We are pleased to present the 60th episode of The Sheridan Tapes as a special crossover with the acclaimed audio drama “Apocalypse Songs.” You can listen to the complete series at redscare.co.nz/apocalypse-songsStarring Airen Neeley Chaconas as Anna Sheridan, Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, Catherine Gavigan-Binnie as the flight attendant, James Cain as Peter Slate, Virginia Spotts as Kate Sheridan, Dryw McArthur as the tour guide, Cassandra Tse as Amy-Louise Chen, and Maxwell Apse as the barista, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written by Virginia Spotts and Cassandra Tse, based on story and characters from “Apocalypse Songs” from Red Scare Theatre Company. Directed by James Cain and produced by Virginia Spotts, with dialogue editing and sound design by Trevor Van Winkle. This episode was made possible by our supporters at Patreon.com/homesteadcorner, ko-fi.com/homesteadcorner, and our backers on Seed&Spark.Our thanks to the Wellington Writer’s Walk and the writers whose work appears in this podcast, credited in order of appearance:Pat Lawlor, From Old Wellington Days, (Whitcombe & Tombs, 1959)Patricia Grace, From Cousins, (Penguin Books, 1992)Bill Manhire, From 'Milky Way Bar' in Milky Way Bar, (Victoria University Press, 1991)For more information, additional content, and episode transcript, visit homesteadonthecorner.com/tst060Support this show http://supporter.acast.com/sheridantapes. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/SheridanTapes. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Spotify

CONTENT WARNING: Loud noises, supernatural disturbances aboard a commercial airliner, mentions of disappearances and memory loss, dread, and terror

1207019: Back at Meriwether between missions, Maria listens to a tape from Anna’s investigations in Wellington, New Zealand.

We are pleased to present the 60th episode of The Sheridan Tapes as a special crossover with the acclaimed audio drama “Apocalypse Songs.” You can listen to the complete series at redscare.co.nz/apocalypse-songs

Starring Airen Neeley Chaconas as Anna Sheridan, Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, Catherine Gavigan-Binnie as the flight attendant, James Cain as Peter Slate, Virginia Spotts as Kate Sheridan, Dryw McArthur as the tour guide, Cassandra Tse as Amy-Louise Chen, and Maxwell Apse as the barista, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written by Virginia Spotts and Cassandra Tse, based on story and characters from “Apocalypse Songs” from Red Scare Theatre Company. Directed by James Cain and produced by Virginia Spotts, with dialogue editing and sound design by Trevor Van Winkle. This episode was made possible by our supporters at Patreon.com/homesteadcorner, ko-fi.com/homesteadcorner, and our backers on Seed&Spark.

For more information, additional content, and episode transcript, visit thesheridantapes.com

Script

Transcript

CONTENT WARNING: Loud noises, supernatural disturbances aboard a commercial airliner, mentions of disappearances and memory loss, dread, and terror

[The gentle rumble of a plane in flight]

[Passengers are almost all asleep, some light chattering]

[A man snores nearby]

[Anna sighs]

Maria Sol

(groaning) Go to sleep, Anna.

Anna Sheridan

I would if I could. You got any duct tape?

Maria Sol 

(yawning) You told me to leave all that at home.

Anna Sheridan

(exaggerated sigh) Not the zip ties, too?

Maria Sol

You specifically warned me that the border agents would turn us away if we looked like a couple of ‘ne’er do wells’

[giggle that turns into a groan]

Nooooo, I’m waking up.

Anna Sheridan

Good, I have to use the bathroom. [seatbelt unlatches] Let me squeeze by — ope!  

Maria Sol

“You shall not pass…” 

[Maria and Anna giggle]

Anna Sheridan

Nerd… 

[Light turbulence shakes the plane]

[A small ding as the seat belt light turns on]

[Anna walks down the aisle]

Flight Attendant

Attention passengers — just wanted to let those of you still awake know that we’re experiencing a bit of light turbulence, and the captain has illuminated the fasten seat belt sign. Please return to your seats until the air clears up a bit. Thank you.

Anna Sheridan

Oh, come on… 

[She trails off; a deep and resonant noise rises above the drone of the engines]

[She stops]

What is that?

[She tries to look through the windows]

Can’t see anything out the windows. Maybe I could— 

[The noise suddenly grows louder, closer]

[The noise rattles inside the plane]

What is… 

[Faint whoosh]

[Snoring cuts out, the plane is altogether strangely quieter]

Alright… hmm. The plane is… empty now. Mostly. Maria’s still here, but besides that — the noise is gone, the people are gone… 

Is the pilot still here?

[Turbulence hits again, worse]

[Anna gasps and grabs a nearby headrest]

[As the turbulence ends, the plane fills once again with people]

Anna Sheridan

(to nearby passenger) Oh — excuse me.

Huh. Okay.

[She moves down the aisle again]

[She hears the noise again]

This isn’t real. This is not real.

[The noise intensifies]

[A whoosh of air; passengers vanish again]

This isn’t real. 

[She begins to breathe faster]

This is not real. 

[Overhead lights flicker; turbulence grows more intense]

Maria! Maria, wake up! Wake! Up!

[Turbulence suddenly slows]

[Plane is full of grumbling and muttering passengers]

Flight Attendant

Miss? Miss! Are you alright? We’re experiencing some turbulence, so I’m going to have to ask you to return to your seat for your own safety.

Anna Sheridan

Oh, I’m… I’m so sorry.

[She walks quickly back to her seat]

Maria Sol

Was that you, Anna? Are you okay?

[Anna buckles herself back in]

Anna Sheridan

Uh, I… yeah. I’m — I’m okay now. I think. Probably just need some sleep.

Maria Sol

I think that’s a good idea.

Anna Sheridan

Did you see it?

Maria Sol

See what?

Anna Sheridan

The plane — one minute it was full, the next it was empty. All that noise. That loud… 

[She sighs]

It was empty except for you and me. But it looked like you were still sleeping.

Did you see that?

Maria Sol 

I think you need to get some sleep, Anna.

Anna Sheridan

Yeah… you’re probably right.

[Cassette noises]

[Click]

[Main Theme]

Recording Begins

[Tapping at a keyboard; Beep]

[Audio from the ISPHA CCTV cameras]

[Maria rounds the corner into the atrium]

[Kate and Peter are there, laughing together]

Maria Sol

Oh, sorry — didn’t mean to interrupt.

Peter Slate

Not at all!

Kate Sheridan

It’s Saturday night and Andrew’s asleep early, so you know what that means… 

[Peter and Kate tap their glasses]

Peter Slate

We raided the kitchen fridge and found a few abandoned beers from Thanksgiving.

Kate Sheridan

Abandoned for good reason!

Peter Slate 

Oh yeah, they’re just awful.

Maria Sol

Mind if I join you for a bit?

Kate Sheridan

I’m afraid the beer is gone… 

[Maria sits]

Maria Sol

Don’t worry about it, I just — can’t sleep. White Sands, it was… it was just a lot.

Kate Sheridan

No kidding.

Maria Sol

I really just came in here to sit.

Kate Sheridan

…and?

Maria Sol

Okay fine. I also wanted to listen to… well, I thought I’d be alone, so now it just feels silly.

Peter Slate 

What does?

Maria Sol

It’s this… gift I made for Anna. Kind of an audio journal from our trip to New Zealand a few years ago— 

Peter Slate

New Zealand?

Kate Sheridan

Oh, Peter does a great Kiwi accent.

Peter Slate (thick NZ accent)

Yeah, nah, it’s pretty average, eh.

[Kate laughs]

Maria Sol

Um…?

Kate Sheridan

And he loves to show it off at every opportunity. He’s obsessed with New Zealand cinema. And writing. And— 

Peter Slate

I didn’t know Anna went there!

Kate Sheridan

Yes you did — it was right after Andrew was born, remember?

Maria Sol

April 2015?

Peter Slate

Ooooh, that’s why I don’t remember it.

Maria Sol 

Anyway… this was right after her last book came out. Anthony convinced Poultice to pay for a tour to Australia and New Zealand, mostly around Wellington. Still don’t know how he managed to pull that off. Would it be… it wouldn’t be weird to play it in front of you, would it…?

Kate Sheridan

Oh please, I’d love to hear it.

Peter Slate (thick NZ accent)

Come on bro, gizza hoon.

Maria Sol

[snort] Alright, hold your horses… 

[Maria taps on her phone to find the digital copy of the recording]

[Beep]

Tape Begins

[Cassette noises]

[Click]

[Static fades]

[In Wellington Airport – muffled sounds of movement]

[The recorder has been accidentally bumped on]

Anna Sheridan 

Maria, the exit’s this way!

Maria Sol

I found the Gollum statue, Anna!

Anna Sheridan 

Great for you!

Maria Sol

He’s so beautiful!

[Maria runs off]

Anna Sheridan 

Maria, wait!

Maria Sol

“My precious…”

[They laugh]

Anna Sheridan 

Wow.

Maria Sol

Come on, come on, picture time!

Anna Sheridan 

Alright, hold on, let me find my camera… 

[She opens her bag and sees the recorder running]

Oh no, how long have you been—?

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[The sounds of Wellington harbor – wind, seagulls, waves, and people on bikes and skateboards]

Anna Sheridan 

I have to say, I think Wellington might just be my new favorite city. We’re on the — Maria! Come back! — we’re on the Writer’s Walk. The city put all these hidden bits of poetry everywhere along the waterfront… all these lines of writing, immortalized in stone. I’m in heaven.

Maria, look at this one… 

“And now, as I grow in years, I feel at times like an old violin played on by a master hand. You, dear city, are the maestro drawing the bow over the sensibilities of my mind, echoing the music of my days.”

[Click]

[Brief silence]

[Click]

[Slightly different area near the harbor, a new bit of poetry]

[More waves than last time]

Anna Sheridan (reading)

“I love this city, the hills, the harbour, the wind that blasts through it. I love the life and pulse and activity, and the warm decrepitude… there’s always an edge here that one must walk which is sharp and precarious, requiring vigilance.”

[Click]

[Brief silence]

[Click]

[Further down the road]

Anna Sheridan (reading)

“I live at the edge of the universe… like everybody else.”

[Click]

[Brief silence]

[Click]

[Inside a quiet hotel room]

[The resonant sound from the plane buzzes again in the distance]

Anna Sheridan

I hope the recorder’s picking that up… I can hear that noise again. The one on the plane. I knew I wasn’t just imagining things.

[Click]

[Brief silence]

[Click]

[Night, outside the hotel]

[Anna walks rapidly on the sidewalk in bare feet]

[She shivers]

Anna Sheridan

Why is no one else out here? I know they can hear that sound… I just checked the tape.

[She listens]

It sounds like it’s coming from the other side of town… somewhere high up. 

[The sound shifts, slightly quieter]

I need to find out what’s causing it.

I’ll need a guide.

[Click]

[Brief silence]

[Click]

[A cell phone dials, on speaker]

[Someone picks up, sleepily]

Amy Louise Chen

Hello…?

Anna Sheridan

Hi — Amy Louise Chen? This is Anna. Do you know anything about the weird rumbling noises in the sky?

Amy Louise Chen

…Anna? Sheridan?

Anna Sheridan

Oh. Yeah, it’s me. Someone at the radio station gave me your number. Is this a bad time?

Amy Louise Chen

It’s six a.m. Six seventeen.

Anna Sheridan

Sorry… I’m still on Pacific time. We just flew in last night.

Amy Louise Chen

Mm. Uh, well I’ve got our interview booked in for 10 at the studio. We still on for that?

Anna Sheridan

Actually, I had a different idea. Could I play you a tape?

Amy Louise Chen

What? Uh, yeah… go ahead.

Anna Sheridan

It’s from just outside my hotel — I heard it on the plane over, too. It sounded like… well, just let me play it.

[Anna inserts the tape, presses play, the mysterious noise comes through]

It sounded like it was coming from the sky — somewhere high up, at least.

Amy Louise Chen

That’s… weird.

Anna Sheridan

It is?

[She stops the tape]

I wanted to do a bit of digging around, see if I can work out what it is, where it’s coming from. I thought it would help to have someone who knows the city. You want to come with?

Amy Louise Chen

I… I’ve got work — 

Anna Sheridan

This is work. You were already going to interview me today, so let’s do that — you know, just… in the field.

Come on, it’ll be fun. Plus, I’m not really great at the whole ‘20 questions’ thing.

Amy Louise Chen

…I’ll have to ask my boss— 

Anna Sheridan

But you’ll ask?

Amy Louise Chen

I’ll see.

Anna Sheridan

Great. Could you meet me at 8? There’s a little coffee shop next to the hotel that would be perfect.

Amy Louise Chen

You’re gonna have to be a bit more specific than that.

Anna Sheridan

I think it’s called… Mojo?

Amy Louise Chen

Which — never mind, I’ll text you. But… you know, the interview would have taken like, half an hour. Don’t you have better things to do than investigate strange sounds all day?

Anna Sheridan

Not really. My, uh… my assistant’s taking a day trip.

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[A tour bus idles nearby]

[A muffled voice is heard from farther away]

Tour Guide

Okay, if you’re in the 9 o’clock group, follow me onto the bus, single file please… 

[Maria speaks into her recorder as she walks forward]

[Chatter of other guests and tourists]

Maria Sol

“And so it came to pass that Maria, daughter of Gabriela Londoño Rodriguez and Alejandro Valero Sol, set out on a grand journey. A quest that would lead her over marsh and forest, plain and river, to that green jewel at the heart of the shire—”

Tour Guide

Ticket, please.

Maria Sol

Oh, right — one sec, it’s in my bag… there. One ticket to Hobbiton.

Tour Guide

Cheers.

[Maria steps onto the bus]

Maria Sol

I don’t care what you get up to today, Anna — there’s no way you’re having as much fun as me.

[Click]

[Silence]

[[Click]

A coffee shop; spoons clinking in mugs, hiss of espresso machines, low drone of conversation]

Anna Sheridan

I was about to turn around, but the noise stopped, and then the flight attendant tapped me on the shoulder and everyone was right back where they should be.

[She sighs; then, absentmindedly]

“I heard a clarion calling, 

burning paper falling

from a low-flying airplane

and around me was white,

white skies and white mountains 

with cold bones about them,

my soul, oh my soul,

I await endless night.”

Amy Louise Chen

Where’s that from?

Anna Sheridan

…I don’t know. It… must have been from the writer’s walk.

Amy Louise Chen

(slight laugh) That’s a little dark for the writer’s walk.

[Anna laughs]

Anna Sheridan

I probably just dreamed it.

Amy Louise Chen

Sorry, but — is it okay if I just record all this? I don’t want to miss anything important.

Anna Sheridan

Knock yourself out. I’m usually the one recording everything.

Amy Louise Chen

Oh? Is that part of your writing process? Dictating your drafts aloud? I’d heard that since your accident you’ve had to find— 

Anna Sheridan

Could we not do that now?

Amy Louise Chen

Do what?

Anna Sheridan

Could we not do the whole formal interview thing just yet? You said you had an idea for where we could look into that sound?

Barista

Takeaway latte, takeaway flat white?

Amy Louise Chen

(to barista) Thanks.

I don’t know, I just thought — you said it came from the sky, right? From somewhere high up. So I figured we could walk up Te Ahumairangi lookout — it’s not far from here, and you get a good view of the whole city. You keen for a bit of a hike?

Anna Sheridan

Do you even need to ask?

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[Amy and Anna make their way up the lookout trail, breathing slightly harder]

[The gentle sound of New Zealand birds in the background]

Amy Louise Chen

Hold on, I think we just missed the turnoff.

Yep, there’s a little path this way. We can cut through to the lookout.

Anna Sheridan

This place is stunning.

[Amy laughs, pleased]

Amy Louise Chen

Pretty nice, eh? Feels like we’re in the wilderness, even though the city’s just a few metres down the hill. Oh… 

Watch your step. Big rock there.

Anna Sheridan

Thanks for the tip.

Amy Louise Chen

So… you’re a big hiker?

Anna Sheridan

I think best when I’m moving. Hiking or driving… either one.

Amy Louise Chen

Must be a good way to conquer writer’s block, right?

Anna Sheridan

There was a little creek near the house I grew up in. I used to go down there when I was a kid, just… walk by the creek and make up stories. Once I got so distracted I ended up following it all the way to the river, a whole town over. Mom was pissed for a week, even though dad was the one who came and got me.

Amy Louise Chen 

Was that in Iowa, then?

Anna Sheridan

You’re doing it again.

Amy Louise Chen

Doing what?

Anna Sheridan

Interviewing.

Oh… here we are — there’s the clearing.

[Anna and Amy step onto a lookout point]

[The birds grow louder]

Amy Louise Chen

Ta da! Welcome to Poneke.

Anna Sheridan

You weren’t kidding about the view. [brief pause] I can’t hear that sound — just the wind.

Amy Louise Chen

Well, it is the windiest city in the world.

Anna Sheridan

I thought that was Chicago?

Amy Louise Chen

Common misconception. Depends on how you measure it, but I think if you’re going— 

Anna Sheridan

Wait — do you hear that?

[The noise begins to return, slowly]

Amy Louise Chen

What?

Anna Sheridan

There it is! It’s the same sound — listen.

[They listen]

Amy Louise Chen 

I can’t hear anything. Are you sure it’s not just the wind?

Anna Sheridan

No, no — it’s too deep. Almost like a whale song. Or like… the

hinges on a giant door, opening.

Amy Louise Chen

Huh.

[The noise unfolds slightly]

[Amy gasps slightly]

I can hear it now.

Anna Sheridan

You… can?

Amy Louise Chen

I think so. It’s fading away.

[The noise quiets]

Anna Sheridan

I… Honestly, I didn’t think you’d be able to hear it.

Amy Louise Chen

It was weird — it was like, when you spoke about it, I could suddenly pick it out of the wind noise.

You look surprised.

Anna Sheridan

People don’t always sense the same things I do.

Amy Louise Chen

What do you mean? Are there often things you can sense that other people can’t?

Anna Sheridan 

I write horror.

Amy Louise Chen

What does that mean— 

Anna Sheridan

I notice things other people don’t want to.

Amy Louise Chen

You mean some people see the good in everything, and you see the horror in everything?

Anna Sheridan 

Yeah.

Okay, so we both heard the sound. That still doesn’t give us much to go on.

Amy Louise Chen

I mean, you were definitely right about it coming from the sky… 

Anna Sheridan

But it just starts and stops at random, with no clear cause.

[she sighs]

Not unless it’s some kind of invisible plane or UFO, or a very strange bird.

[The noise picks up]

Come on, let’s head back to the studio and— 

[Silently, Amy disappears]

Amy? Where did she — what the fuck? Amy? Amy!

[The noise grows louder, building]

Amy! Amy!

[Noise grows louder still]

Oh god… oh fuck… 

[Suddenly the noise cuts out with a whoosh, and Amy returns]

Amy Louise Chen

So how about we head back to the studio… and do the interview there?

Are you all good?

Anna Sheridan 

Oh Amy, thank god.

Amy Louise Chen

What’s going on? You look like you saw a ghost.

Anna Sheridan

You just disappeared.

Amy Louise Chen

What? No I didn’t.

Anna Sheridan

Yes, you did. For a couple seconds.

Amy Louise Chen

I was literally just talking to you before you started freaking out.

Anna Sheridan 

No, you were… 

Never mind, you’re back now. Let’s head back down to the studio… one missing Amy’s enough.

[Anna begins walking down the trail]

[Amy laughs once]

Amy Louise Chen

Guess that’s why my horoscope told me to ‘stay present’ this morning.

[Anna stops]

Anna Sheridan

How much do you know about astrology?

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[Inside “Crystal’s Crystals,” a small New Age shop]

[Wind chimes jingle lightly in the background]

[Anna flicks through a book]

Amy Louise Chen

I’m supposed to be the local guide, and I didn’t even know this place existed.

[she picks up a crystal]

“Rose Quartz: The love crystal. Nurturing, comforting, dissipates anger.” Cute.

[she sets it back]

Where the hell did you find this place?

[Amy sits]

Anna Sheridan

Walked past it this morning. They’ve got a copy of Below the Silent Deep in the window.

Amy Louise Chen

Right. Of course. 

Some people say your novels have a ‘cult following.’ Do you think it’s more difficult to be taken seriously as an author when working entirely in genre fiction?

Anna Sheridan

Great interview question. [she thumbs another page] Very encouraging. Here, take a look at this.

Amy Louise Chen

The Starstuff Within Us… Does it say anything about weird sky noises?

Anna Sheridan

All matter — everything around us — is just vibrating atoms, right? The carbon that makes up our bodies is the same as the carbon that makes up the atmosphere on Venus, all just radiating out from the Big Bang. Our entire universe is made of the

same tiny atomic structures, combining and recombining endlessly across time.

[She flips another page]

Amy Louise Chen

So that’s why we Geminis are all indecisive?

Anna Sheridan

I’m thinking more like… planets, sending out waves of energy. Rippling back to us.

[Hands over the book]

Read this part.

Amy Louise Chen (reading)

“Neptune is the psychic planet, ruler of ideals, compassion, intuition, and the spirit. It is the domain of delusions and dreams.”

So you think the sound is coming from Neptune?

Anna Sheridan

It’s a theory, at least.

Amy Louise Chen

Kind of reminds me of the whole ‘music of the spheres’ thing. Like… back in medieval times.

Anna Sheridan

Oh yeah?

Amy Louise Chen

They used to think that the movement of the planets created this beautiful, ethereal music — it comes up in Shakespeare and other stuff from back then. And earlier.

Now that I think about it, it’s kind of a strange idea. Like… these ancient astronomers discovered that other planets existed, and they jumped straight to ‘oh, they must make a lovely humming noise.’

Anna Sheridan

Maybe they heard the same thing we did.

[They fall silent for a moment]

Amy Louise Chen

Is it okay if I just ask you like, three questions about the book?

Anna Sheridan

You just don’t quit, do you?

Amy Louise Chen

I’m sorry, it’s just… I’m kinda nervous.

Anna Sheridan

What, because of me?

Amy Louise Chen

This is… sort of… my first interview. Like, my first proper interview for Arts on Saturday. I did interviews at uni, but… you know, normally they just put me on fact checking and writing up stuff for the bulletin.

Anna Sheridan 

Huh. Well… is it everything you expected it would be?

Amy Louise Chen

Not at all.

[Amy laughs a little]

Anna Sheridan 

Okay. Let’s do the interview.

Amy Louise Chen

In the studio?

Anna Sheridan

In the studio, sitting down, the whole shebang. This Neptune thing’s a dead end anyways. Even if that’s where the sound came from, I don’t see how it could make people disappear — or how we could stop it, even if it was.

Amy Louise Chen

Amazing. Thanks Anna, I’ll grab us a taxi and we can head over— 

[Anna’s phone buzzes]

Anna Sheridan

Hold on a second.

[Click]

[Brief silence]

[Click]

[Anna is heard through Maria’s side of the call]

[Maria in the bar of a merry pub, bright folk music playing]

[Laughter surrounds her]

Anna Sheridan

Hey there, stranger.

Maria Sol

Greetings fair maiden, from the Green Dragon!

Anna Sheridan 

…you sound like you’ve had a few.

Maria Sol

They give you a free pint with the tour. Shhh… 

Anna Sheridan

Having fun?

Maria Sol

(giggling) You kidding!? This is the time of my life! How was the interview?

Anna Sheridan

We, uh… haven’t quite gotten to that yet.

Maria Sol

Aaanna… 

Anna Sheridan

I know, I know — it’s a press tour. Still, it’s only… (realizing) 3 o’clock, shit.

Maria Sol

Did you forget to eat again?

Anna Sheridan

We’ll… grab something on the way to the studio. Gotta go — love you!

[Beep beep beep as the call ends]

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[Inside the recording studio, mid-conversation]

[Amy and Anna finish up a meal of fish and chips]

[Distant conversation in other parts of the studio]

Amy Louise Chen

And so everyone thinks she’s crazy, right? And they’re telling Jodie, “Ma’am, you never had a daughter, when you boarded the plane it was just you,” and obviously she doesn’t believe them, but then they slowly start to convince her, like, her daughter didn’t disappear, she’s just crazy.

Anna Sheridan

Okay… 

Amy Louise Chen

And then, just as Jodie Foster is fully convinced that she just hallucinated her daughter completely, she sees this little smiley face her daughter drew in condensation at the start of the flight, and she’s like, “Oh my god, I’m not crazy!” And it turns out she didn’t disappear, it was just like… a really elaborate gaslighting kidnapper scheme.

[She takes a bite from her fish]

Anna Sheridan

So… not like what I saw on the plane at all, then.

[Amy swallows]

Amy Louise Chen

Hm. Yeah. Good movie though.

Could have been some kind of foghorn.

Anna Sheridan

Too loud. And too deep. How would I have been able to hear it from the plane?

Amy Louise Chen

Yeah… I mean, there are ways to make it look like someone disappeared — military technology with nano-cameras and such… but I mean, you think I disappeared, and I definitely wasn’t wearing a camera suit.

Anna Sheridan

You did disappear. I saw it with my own… 

[Anna sighs slightly]

Unless it’s just my mind, playing tricks on me. I did take a lot of sleeping pills on that flight.

Amy Louise Chen

But I heard the sound too.

[Anna types something on her phone]

[Amy speaks through a mouthful]

Are you finished with your chips?

Anna Sheridan

What? Oh, sure.

Amy Louise Chen

‘cause I, um… kind of need to get this interview on tape by 5 so I can edit tomorrow before it goes to air— 

Anna Sheridan

Wait… I think I found something. Have you ever heard of a skyquake?

Amy Louise Chen

Like an earthquake in the sky?

Anna Sheridan

Exactly. Wow, it looks like they happen all over the place — Indonesia, Mexico, Finland… “A mysterious and unexplained phenomenon, first recorded in 1824, in which a loud, booming sound is said to originate from the sky. Other names include Seneca guns, bombes de mer, cries from the sea—”

Amy Louise Chen

Does it say anything about people vanishing?

[A few more clicks]

Anna Sheridan

Not that I can see. It doesn’t seem like it did you any harm, though. Disappearing for a moment, I mean.

Amy Louise Chen

I don’t even remember it happening.

Anna Sheridan

Neither did anyone else on the plane.

[beat, sigh]

I don’t know. Maybe we should just leave it.

Amy Louise Chen

Yeah — but like you said, it doesn’t seem like anyone’s really in danger from… whatever this is.

Hey, maybe I just slipped into the next universe over for a second. No harm done.

Anna Sheridan

Because you came back. Not everyone does.

Amy Louise Chen

Anna… are you okay?

Anna Sheridan

I knew a girl who disappeared. Just… vanished. Completely. Like she never existed. Maybe into another dimension, or maybe just… gone. She isn’t in any photos, didn’t leave any belongings behind — there’s barely any evidence she existed at all. Just my memories… and even those are starting to fade.

Her name was Amy too.

You think I’m making it up.

Amy Louise Chen

No. I believe you.

Anna Sheridan

I’ve seen her in my dreams, you know. Her. Other people. My father.

Amy Louise Chen

What do you mean?

Anna Sheridan 

Like… you know when you turn the TV off, and there’s an after-image left on the screen? Old CRT’s, not… anyway, it’s like that, only… before, not after… 

[she sighs]

I used to think the unknown was the only thing worth fearing.

Amy Louise Chen

And now…?

[Anna steadies herself, suddenly changing approach]

Anna Sheridan 

Right. What time is it?

Amy Louise Chen

Uh… just about four?

Anna Sheridan

And you need the interview done by five, right? I think we can manage that. You still have questions for me? 

[Click]

[Brief silence]

[Click]

[Radio into sting plays out]

Amy Louise Chen

Kia ora and welcome to Arts on Saturday. I’m Amy Louise Chen, filling in for Rebecca Mihaere, and today I’ve got a fantastic programme lined up for you, starting with my interview with renowned American horror novelist Anna Sheridan, whose book Below the Silent Deep is in stores now.

Anna, thank you so much for being here today.

Anna Sheridan

Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else — I mean, my horoscope did tell me to ‘stay present’ today.

[Amy laughs]

Amy Louise Chen

I want to start with a question about Below the Silent Deep. There’s a central question that kind of drives the book as a whole: “What would you do to save yourself?” Is that a question you find yourself answering often?

[As they speak, the recording of the strange noise builds in the background]

Anna Sheridan

Well, I just like to build all of my novels around a philosophical or moral question as a rule — something I don’t have a simple answer to, myself. Gives me enough to chew on for 80,000 words. Plus, it’s a good way to come up with characters. You can think of each character in BTSD as a different answer to that question, all contradicting each other and creating thematic tension in the narrative. Captain Barret, for example — the closest thing to a protagonist the book has. His answer would perhaps be…

[Anna’s voice fades completely as the noise rises]

[Clack]

Tape Ends

[Tapping at keyboard, accessing CCTV]

[Maria, Peter, and Kate sit in a moment of silence]

Kate Sheridan 

Wow. 

Peter Slate

Maria, that was… 

Kate Sheridan 

Brilliant. Eerie. I felt like I could… see all of it happening. This is what you do for a living?

Maria Sol

A bit. Mostly video work, but there is something special about audio editing.

Peter Slate

I can’t believe Anna actually let her guard down like that. On tape, no less. I never got to see that side of her.

Maria Sol

Don’t take it too personally. She wasn’t ever all that forthcoming with her feelings, even around me. Or about the things she saw or… heard.

I don’t know how Amy was able to connect with her like that. She hated doing interviews. The fact she sat down with a junior reporter out of nowhere… 

[Maria laughs]

That definitely had Anthony scratching his head. But… well, you can hear it. Amy had a way of getting through to her. I’ve heard some of the work she’s done since, and it’s… it’s good. She sure knew her stuff.

Kate Sheridan 

Thank you for sharing this with us, Maria. It was nice to hear Anna’s voice again. The real Anna.

Maria Sol

I know what you mean.

Kate Sheridan 

Wanna get to bed?

Peter Slate

Lead the way, love.

[They stand; Peter grabs Kate and she giggles]

Kate Sheridan 

Goodnight, Maria.

Maria Sol

‘night!

[Footsteps as Kate and Peter retreat]

[Maria sits in the quiet for a moment]

[She opens the file back up with a tap, and listens to the noise]

Maria Sol

…wait.

[She taps on her phone, listening to the noise again, at a faster speed]

There’s no way… 

[She speeds it up again; it sounds like speech]

[Again, faster]

[Again, faster; it almost sounds like a word]

Voice (distorted, deep)

Listen… 

[Maria speeds it up again]

Listen…

[She plays it again, silent in shock]

Listen…

Listen…

Recording Ends

End Theme & Credits


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s