Episode 64: “Into the Unfound Infinite”

Episode 64: "Into the Unfound Infinite" The Sheridan Tapes

CONTENT WARNING: Discussions of grief, loss, and guilt, references to body horror, drowning, and cult activity, existential dread, and paranoia12292019: An unexpected visitor makes their presence known at Meriwether.Starring Alejandra Cejudo as Amanita, Mike Kennedy as Edgar Morrison, Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, and Sam Taylor as Ren Park, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written by Trevor Van Winkle 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 homesteadonthecorner.com/tst064Support 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.

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CONTENT WARNING: Discussions of grief, loss, and guilt, references to body horror, drowning, and cult activity, existential dread, and paranoia

12292019: An unexpected visitor makes their presence known at Meriwether.

Starring Alejandra Cejudo as Amanita, Mike Kennedy as Edgar Morrison, Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, and Sam Taylor as Ren Park, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written by Trevor Van Winkle 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: Discussions of grief, loss, and guilt, references to body horror, drowning, and cult activity, existential dread, and paranoia

[Wind howls through an open blast door, creaking on its hinges]

[Footsteps approach, crunching over broken glass and machinery]

[Distant droplets of water]

[Morrison stops walking, then sits down]

[Whispers begin to fill the air]

Amanita (distant)

…There is so much more to your power than you realize… You’re a seeker — a finder — one who walks… on paths no other soul would dare to tread.

[Morrison begins to mirror the words]

Edgar Morrison

And one day soon… 

Amanita (distant)

…Your steps will lead you down a path… 

Edgar Morrison

…Darker than any you’ve walked before… 

Amanita (distant)

…To restore what is broken… 

Edgar Morrison

…To make amends… 

Amanita (distant)

…And to find— 

[Amanita cuts off; silence; Morrison finishes her thought]

Edgar Morrison

…The one who was lost.

[Cassette noises]

[Click]

[Main Theme]

Recording Begins

[Cassette noises]

[Click]

[Static fades away]

[Sam breathes slow and even in his sleep]

[Someone lifts their finger off the cassette recorder button with a small click]

[They slowly walk out, the door creaking gently as they leave]

[Several seconds of Sam breathing in his sleep]

[The bed creaks as he stirs and wakes; breathing in a slight panic at the sight of the open door]

[He calms; static rises on the tape as he observes the area with his powers]

[Static fades]

Sam Bailey

Huh…

[Sam swings his legs to the floor, bed creaking]

[He grabs the recorder and steps into the hall; door creaking]

[He walks down the hall, pausing to stare at the end of it]

[A faint draft whistles]

[Distantly, someone opens an access tunnel and begins to climb]

[Sam considers for a moment]

Sam Bailey

Oh, screw it.

[He reaches the echoing access tunnel, grips the metal rungs, and climbs]

[He struggles slightly, breathing hard]

Sam Bailey

Goddamit… this would be so much easier with shoes on.

[He continues, reaching the door above; he catches his breath]

[He hears the door ahead of him creak open in the wind]

Sam Bailey

What are you playing at?

[He walks towards the open door]

[The sounds shift; night in the New Mexico desert can be heard, a few insects lingering, the occasional hiss of wind over sand]

[Sam’s footsteps are soft and cautious]

[He stops and pauses]

Amanita

Well hello Sam. I was hoping you might make it up to see me.

Sam Bailey

What are you doing out here, Amanita?

Amanita

Why, nothing untoward, Sam… I’m just visiting.

Sam Bailey

And how’d you manage that without tripping every alarm in the facility? I doubt you have a key-card.

Amanita 

No, no I don’t. But your friends at ISPHA are far too fond of complex systems. We’re good at complex systems… breaking them, that is. Making them work for us. It took a while, but… the earth is patient.

Sam Bailey

And what’s to stop me from un-complicating it and calling Ren?

Amanita 

Nothing at all… besides the fact that we both know you’re not gonna do that. Otherwise you wouldn’t have followed me up here in the first place.

Sam Bailey 

I needed to make sure you weren’t here to… to kill me.

Amanita

If I wanted to kill you… if I even could… I would’ve done it in Pennsylvania. Or while you were sleeping. Or a hundred other times you never even knew I was watching. I’m not here to fight you, Sam… I’m trying to help you.

[Sam scoffs]

Sam Bailey

Help me?

Amanita

Is it really so hard to believe I’d want to help a fellow child of the infinite? We’re practically family.

[Sam scoffs]

Sam Bailey

Sneaking into my room in the middle of the night and nearly giving me a heart attack doesn’t sound much like “help” to me.

Amanita

The branching roots of everlasting decay care little for your little frights, Sam Bailey. But they do offer a boon, in their own way. Accept it or reject it, it will find its way into the heart of you, regardless. I just wanted to speed up the process.

[Sam hesitates; he sighs, then steps forward and sits down on a small rock across from Amanita]

Sam Bailey

Say your piece.

Amanita 

Now, was that so hard? And here I thought you might be too stubborn to take your medicine.

[Sam scoffs]

I know what you’ve come out here to ask… what you’ve needed to understand for almost a year now. So first I’ll ask a question of you: how much do you know of the power that bore us both unto this place? That which loves and holds and moves us like fingers on the hand of an unseen god?

Sam Bailey

Well, uh… it’s from somewhere outside the world. Somewhere connected to it but not… fully present. It came from the lake when I first encountered it, and it’s manifested itself in a number of other— 

[Amanita cuts him off with laughter]

Amanita

From the lake? Do you really think that brackish little puddle you called home could ever hold the smallest piece of the vastness that is above and all?

Sam Bailey

But that’s where my… abilities come from, right? I made a deal with something in that lake, and whenever I go back there—

Amanita

Your powers don’t come from that lake any more than mine come from the mycelia branching through my flesh like a second nervous system. By every test a doctor could ever run, it’s nothing more than a fungal infection… one that should’ve killed me long before I reached my ascension.

[brief pause]

Sam Bailey

So why didn’t it?

Amanita

The same reason you didn’t stay dead at the bottom of that lake. Because something greater willed it so. Something beyond the petty confines of life and death on this miserable plane of existence manifested itself in that moment — in our very flesh. Heaven, come down to earth — weighty, and terrible. Fungi simply serves as an expression of its presence, a conduit of its grace. As does water.

Sam Bailey

So you’re saying that… god did this to us?

Amanita

No, not god… not a god like the one you’re thinking of, at least.

Sam Bailey

Then what?

[brief pause]

Amanita

What do you remember of the being you make your bargain with? Of the questions you answered?

Sam Bailey

Something tells me you already know the answer to that.

[Amanita laughs gently]

Amanita

Oh, I do. It has many ears in many places, the power which I serve… but none of them were in that lake with you when you died. So I ask again — what did that voice sound like?

Sam Bailey

I… [he sighs] I don’t really know, it was — distorted, echoey… distant? I think it was a man’s voice… at least, it sounded like one to me, but that might just have been because the water—

Amanita 

You’ve heard it three times already — once as a child, then twice in the last year full grown. You know exactly what it was.

[Sam hesitates; then sighs]

Sam Bailey

It was my voice. My words.

[brief pause]

Amanita

Yes Sam… it was your voice. Just as it was my voice that rose higher than I could ever shout in the Temple, to close the gap left by Hericium as the Prophet filled his lungs. My voice, speaking in answer to itself.

But you’ve heard such things before, haven’t you? The voiceless powers, stealing words to speak themselves into being.

Sam Bailey

The Echo… Ned Leroux… the Oroborus.

Amanita 

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” And the spirit was in the waters, moving through them — and the spirit is the waters, moving through itself.

[Sam gently scoffs]

Sam Bailey

Are you sure you’re not talking about god?

Amanita

These minds which made us and remake us — these beings beyond the veil of our reality, beneath the porous skin of this world of light and meaning — they are thought alone: the thoughts of a mind too vast and wonderful to ever be fully known, without form or purpose beyond the will to exist. But their thoughts are grand and powerful, and as they’re formed they push against the paltry illusion of firm, unchanging matter and become manifest in whatever forms they find: the roots of fungi, the depths of the sea… streams of data, plastic mockeries of men, radio waves, and tar, to name but five. Most of the time, that influence is subtle — distorting reality imperceptibly, casting unease and fear into the minds of mortals by their very presence. But when that influence grows strong enough — when reality’s bent to the point of breaking and no force in earth or heaven can hold it back… it breaks away from the power which bore it, the veil snapping back into place and leaving some part of that power orphaned in our world: an object, a place, a being with existence all its own, free from the power which made it but possessed of powers beyond the knowledge of humankind and the properties of whatever material was transformed. In the case of you and I… our minds. Our souls. Our spirits, now touched and blessed by something greater than we could ever hope to become. We are separate from the great powers — separate, but still connected; sundered, yet longing to be made whole. We hear their voices calling to us: the voice of the Prophet, the waves of your Agate Shore… even Ned hears the voice of the one who is both father and mother to him, try as he might to ignore it. You both have that stubborn need for independence, holding you back from the truth of what you are.

[Sam sighs; frustrated]

Sam Bailey

I know I’m still connected to my… Patron. I went back to the lake to destroy the Echo, and tried to do the same thing to Ned, but it didn’t work that time because—

Amanita

Returning to the lake had nothing to do with your destruction of the Echo.

[brief pause]

Sam Bailey

It — it, it didn’t — what?

[Amanita sighs]

Amanita

Do you have any idea how many memories of Agate Shore you’d repressed before you returned? How much of what happened there your conscious mind refused to let you see? What you had to forget to think yourself the person you were, to remain “sane?”

You cut yourself off from everything that gave you power for close to 20 years. But when you faced the Echo… your mind, touched by powers beyond itself, protected you again. It reawoke those memories, and let the flood come pouring in. You heard your own voice in the water once more, as you were baptized anew; and that voice was power, and that power was your own, and by your own hand you destroyed the armies of the Echo. And when you fled into the mountains and hid in a dry place far from the waves of your rebirth… did you not still hear the waves? Did not your power rise time and again against things more awesome and terrible than your mind could contain, pushing them back into the void?

Sam Bailey

How do you know all this?

[pause; Amanita simply looks at him; he sighs]

Right… Psychic abilities — mind reading and telepathy. That’s kind of your whole deal, isn’t it?

Amanita

If that’s how you wish to limit your understanding.

And what is “your deal,” Sam? What gifts has your great power bestowed upon you?

Sam Bailey

Well… I can’t die. That’s… that’s the big one. I know I grew up after I… drowned, so I know I still age, but I’m not quite sure how that works long-term. I had a broken leg when I went into the lake and didn’t when I came out again, so I guess I can heal my own injuries, if I need to. I can sense the emotional states of other entities connected to the powers, and sometimes other people if I focus on them. I can push back on those emotions with my own, and I can… um… drown people.

Amanita

And how do you sense those beings? If you cannot read the thoughts of other minds like we do… how do you sense their hearts?

Sam Bailey

Well… um… I guess if what you’re saying is true, then… we’re all part of the same otherworld. We all come from the same minds, so… we’re all connected, right?

Amanita

And what of humans? Are they the product of the powers beyond, pushed through the veil by minds linked to your own?

Sam Bailey

No… no they’re not. How does that work?

Amanita

I think you’ve already begun to suspect the truth. After all, the powers that make us are not the only minds which press against the veil between worlds. They are more powerful for certain, able to form thought into matter and birth beings like you and I. But human minds — human thoughts, emotions, experiences… they exert an influence as well. An imprint left on the world, indelible and everlasting.

Sam Bailey

Stone tapes.

Amanita

You remember Anna’s words then, when she heard the voice of Anne Bonny echoing down through the ages? The spiritualists might have been fools and charlatans in most regards, but you know what they say about broken clocks.

The marks of humanity are fainter and subtler than the marks of the powers, but they can still be felt by one such as you — one still close enough to humankind to feel their influence on the world. At least… for now.

Sam Bailey

So, uh… you’re not human enough to sense it anymore?

Amanita

I never was. The Prophet offered me a glimpse before I was transformed, but… I only grew strong enough to fully touch it when I was gone beyond the boundaries of human thought. That was what I gave, to endure… to serve my god.

[brief pause]

Would you like to learn how to make them?

Sam Bailey

Make what?

Amanita

“Stone Tapes.” [she giggles] The name means little, but the picture you have of it in your mind is close enough to the truth. Memories like the tapes which Anna made, pulled from the imprint of human lives and hearts upon the veil. Would you like to learn how to make them?

Sam Bailey

Yes, I would.

Amanita

Then close your eyes, and follow me.

[Sam hesitates, then breathes in as he closes his eyes]

[Amanita begins; observing him closely]

Amanita 

Start by observing your breath… that which connects your body to the world beyond it, to the power which formed you when first it fled your lungs. Observe it— 

—Don’t control it. Your patron has little patience for your feeble attempts at control. Observe… let it be natural — your natural rhythm of breath.

Good. Now… observe the breath coming into your lungs — how it fills them with life and strength and power. Observe the breath leaving your lungs — how it empties and hollows out your chest, expelling all that is dead and tired within you. In and out, in and out, in a rhythm we only rarely think about… that we do not pay attention to. And then — there. That moment between one breath and the next, when the lungs are emptied and new air has yet to enter in… where you are hollow, and all is in the balance of the infinite. Where there is nothing, and in that nothing — all that is or was or ever can be. Where your lungs are empty, and your eyes are open.

Now let that feeling fill you… let it expand from your lungs and chest into your limbs, though your arms and legs all the way to your fingers and toes, and up through the crown of your head.

[she giggles]

Now, now… no need to rush this, Sam. We have all the time in the worlds.

Let it fill you as your lungs empty — and then recognize that the emptiness in your lungs has nothing to do with this feeling… that it is always open to you, when your mind is calm and still. Hold it at bay — this connection to the infinite that made you and shapes you and gives you purpose, gives you strength. Let it linger within the boundaries of your body, at the limits of your flesh… but feel it pushing to be set free, to flow out of you and into the vastness of being. [static begins to build on the tape] Hold it there. Let it build… sit with this feeling, and know it. Just one more step… there. Release it.

[static flows into something harmonious]

Can you feel it now?

Sam Bailey

Yes.

[Sam’s voice echoes in the static]

Amanita

You are beyond the limits of your physical body now, in the shell of energy and life which connects you to all that is beyond this paltry illusion of solid matter. Now… What do you see?

Sam Bailey (echoing faintly)

I see… I see an ocean without end. A sea of dark waves rolling and crashing on a beach of black sand. There is no sun, no stars, no moon — the sky is lost to a wall of cloud and mist, but I can see clear to the horizon in all directions.

And I see doors… doors standing alone on the beach, with no walls to hold them. Doors opening into other places and times, appearing and disappearing like the rise and fall of the waves.

Amanita

And where would those doors take you, if you opened them?

Sam Bailey (echoing faintly)

Out of this place… out of the world behind the world into the world that is — into all the worlds that are.

Amanita

And what do you see behind you?

Sam Bailey (echoing faintly)

Behind me?

Amanita

Your inner eye is facing out, Sam Bailey — let it turn inwards, to the place you do not wish to see.

[Sam hesitates; he takes a deep breath; his breath catches in his throat]

Sam Bailey (echoing faintly)

I… I don’t see anything.

Amanita 

Now don’t lie to me, Sam… that’s a bad idea under normal circumstances, much less when I’m trying to help you. Tell me the truth: what do you see?

Sam Bailey (echoing faintly)

Another door — only this one’s open.

Amanita

And what do you see inside it?

Sam Bailey (echoing faintly)

My… Myself. I see… it’s all happening at once, it’s a lot.

Amanita

Then what is clearest? What stands out to you?

[a sharp intake of breath before he replies]

Sam Bailey (echoing faintly)

Allen.

Amanita

Good, good — what else?

Sam Bailey (echoing faintly)

My parents. Pat. The detectives from Oslow. Jim. They’re all there… Under the lake, beneath the water. All the people I’ve lost — all the people I’ve hurt.

Amanita

How did you hurt them?

[brief pause]

Sam Bailey (echoing faintly)

I… I killed them. I was scared and alone and I made a deal with something I didn’t understand, and it killed them all because of me… because I wasn’t strong enough to die. Because… because I’m too broken and scared to ever love anyone enough to die for them, to give up my hollow, useless life for someone of worth… someone who makes the world better. I just make it worse — and everyone who died in Agate Shore is dead because of me.

[brief pause]

Amanita

You’re right.

Sam Bailey

I — what?

[The static of Sam’s connection fades; his eyes snap open]

[The whistle of desert wind is heard again]

Amanita

If you’d never gone back to Agate Shore, you’d never have met Allen. If you’d never met him, he’d still be alive today… he, and all those who drowned and died and now feed the growing things below the earth.

But you are wrong about one thing.

[Sam scoffs; pained]

Sam Bailey

And what’s that?

Amanita

You didn’t kill them — not your powers or your choices or even your patron. No one chose for them to die. It was your lack of understanding that killed them — your refusal to accept the truth of what you are, what happened to you that day so long ago in the lake. You untethered yourself from who you are and left a hollow space within your heart. And in that space a darkness grew — a darkness that held all that power inside you beyond your grasp. Without acceptance, there can be no understanding. Without understanding, there is no choice. Without choice, there is no control — and without control, you will remain adrift, beholden to the whims and winds of the mind which made you.

[Sam scoffs]

Sam Bailey

So what, I’ll become like you then? Completely detached from humanity, willing to kill and infect whoever your “prophet” wants?

Amanita

Do not mock what you do not understand, Sam Bailey. I made my choice long before I became what I am now — to give up the life I knew to serve something greater than myself. If Hericium was the mouth of the Prophet, then I am her hand — her outstretched arm — her loving embrace of a world that knows her not, keeping it safe and whole beyond the falsehood of death. For those who serve her shall outlive even the ends of all other life, and those who refuse her call shall endure forever as a memory within her heart — an imprint of all they are and were and could have been, kept in loving memory. Death is not death to the Prophet — death is creation.

[Sam laughs lightly, darkly]

Sam Bailey

If you’re trying to convince me to join your cult, you’d better pick a different sermon.

Amanita

Yes… I suppose she is not the only power that keeps her children beyond death. But that has always been my purpose — to draw others to the truth, to a higher purpose and reality than can be seen with mortal eyes. The Prophet just allowed me to fulfill that calling more… directly. And your purpose has always been to seek out the truth, to find what is hidden and lost. We shape our patrons as much as they shape us… and this… [Amanita picks up a small, round stone] this is your next step on that mission.

Sam Bailey

It’s… a rock. This wasn’t here before, was it—?

[Static rises on the tape]

[As Sam holds the rock, distorted voices echo around him]

Allen Gott (distorted, distant) 

Come in!

Sam Bailey

Is that—

Sam Bailey (distorted, distant) 

Sorry to bother you, but… I’m looking for Sergeant Gott?

Allen Gott (distorted, distant) 

Oh, you must be our new detective! I’m Allen.

Sam Bailey (distorted, distant) 

Hi, um… Sam. Bailey. [In real time, Sam breathes shakily] Uh, do you know where I could find Sergeant Gott…?

Sam Bailey

How did you do that?

[The memory continues to play in the background]

Amanita

I didn’t, Sam. You did.

Sam Bailey

How?

Amanita

You faced the dark inside you, Sam — the loss, the grief. You confronted your pain, and that pain was made manifest — a memory, held in stone. It was the strongest memory I could reach for, but in time you will learn to make stone tapes of all manner of things — things beyond your own memory, in the memories of this world.

Sam Bailey

That’s… how is that possible?

Amanita

There is so much more to your power than you realize, Sam — more than empathy and tapes and the inner eye. You are a seeker — a finder, one who walks between worlds, on paths no other soul would dare to tread. And one day soon, your steps will lead you down a path darker than any you’ve walked before: to restore what is broken — to make amends — and to find—

[Amanita suddenly cuts off as Ren calls out from the facility]

Ren Park

Sam? Sam, are you out here?

Sam Bailey

Shit — uh, hi Ren!

[Sam shifts slightly to look at him]

[Ren walks forward as he speaks, his feet crunching over desert sand]

Ren Park

What are you doing out here? You’re not supposed to leave the facility after dark.

Sam Bailey 

I’m not? Oh, right… Uh, I was just..

[Sam glances back to where Amanita was]

[under his breath] And she’s gone.

Ren Park

What’s that?

Sam Bailey

Nothing — I just needed some fresh air. [brief pause] What are you doing out here?

Ren Park

One of the security guards noticed the cameras were out in your wing. They called me when they saw your room was empty.

Are you sure everything’s okay?

Sam Bailey 

Yeah. Just fine.

Ren Park

Well… If you say so.

[he turns and begins walking back]

Let’s get back inside.

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[Sam groans as he settles into the chair in his room]

[The faint boom of machinery in the distance]

Sam Bailey

Samuel Isaac Bailey, recording for ISPHA internal records — final mission report, December 29th, 20… 

Actually — I don’t think I’ll be handing this tape over to Ren with the others. Not for now, at least. I need some time to think about this… about what Amanita said — what she meant. And given his reaction to what she did to his facility, I doubt he’d be keen to let me keep looking for her.

Fungal growths in the electronics — in the locks and security cameras she bypassed. Ren’s still not sure how it got there, but he’s having the labs run a whole load of tests. They hardly need to, though — I think they already know what they’ll find.

“To restore what is broken — to make amends.” I’ve been turning those words over and over again in my head since I got back. What did she mean by that? I can’t bring any of the people who drowned in Agate Shore back — at least, I don’t think I can. Whenever I think about it… well, let’s just say I’m hearing waves again. But what else could she be—

[Sam cuts himself off, realizing]

Molly. Molly Davis, the LEO from Santa Lucia. I heard that announcement on the radio… she’s still missing. I pushed her through the veil, and she still hasn’t come back. I thought I might have to go back to the park to find her, but — I don’t think she’s there anymore. I think she’s in that otherworld Amanita was talking about, and can’t find her way back. And I’m the one who did that to her.

[Brief pause]

If that’s true… then I need to make it right. I need to get back to that place and find her. I have to save her.

[Clack]

Recording Ends

End Theme & Credits


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