Chased by a faceless terror, Jasmine has to take a jaunt. Scarlet and Jasmine talk horror and fun. Jasmine takes a dip, and Violet answers Sterling’s call.
(CWs: water, food, body horror, blood, strong language).
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Cast, in order of appearance: Jesse Syratt, Em Carlson, Emily Kellogg, Shaun Pellington, Justin Hatch, William A. Wellman, Tatiana Gefter, Saph the Something, Taylor Michaels, and special guest Shannon Strucci.
Art by NerdVolKurisu
Written, scored, edited, and narrated by Rat Grimes.
Transcripts available in episode notes at somewhereohio.com
SCARLET: There’s no time. Go, go!
NARRATOR: Jasmine ran through a hall of mirrors, her reflections splitting off in their own directions along the way. Something was chasing her.
JASMINE: What the hell is that thing?
Jasmine turned a corner, hoping for an exit, but found herself again where she began.
SCARLET: That’s one of the Blank Commission’s goons, Ivory Torment.
JASMINE: Why is this guy after me?
SCARLET: I…Jasmine, that’s not a guy. It’s not even human. It’s…well, it doesn’t matter what it is. If it touches you, you’re done–your brain will be scrubbed clean like a goddamn crime scene.
JASMINE: Where am I supposed to go?
SCARLET: I don’t know, just keep moving. You’re bound to find the exit at some point.
Something was chasing Jasmine, something without a face. A specter with an assigned name. She could guess why it was after her. She knew too much now, had reached beyond her clearance level. She was a target for the Commission, and this specter was going to make sure she forgot all of it. She could guess why, but Scarlet could not.
JASMINE: I can’t outrun this thing, it’s way too fast.
SCARLET: Okay, hold on.
JASMINE: Scarlet, Scarlet! It’s here. It’s…oh god, no.
The thing had cornered Jasmine, and took a step closer, stretching one arm out impossibly far to block her from running past it.
JASMINE: Scarlet, why is its face just…gone?
SCARLET: It’s not gone, you just can’t remember it.
SCARLET: It wipes itself from your memory the second you see it. Look away, and keep moving.
JASMINE: I can’t! It blocked me off.
SCARLET: Wait, really?
JASMINE: Its arm, god it’s so creepy. It’s got me cornered.
SCARLET: There’s really no other way around?
JASMINE: No! Oh my god, its face…
Ivory Torment slid toward Jasmine. Its round, blank face morphed. A bump in the center, two indents above, an ovular hole below. It was making a crude imitation of a face. Too late, Jasmine recognized it was her own face.
SCARLET: Hey, Sterling, Primaries, if none of you can get this demon off her back, I’m going to have to let her in. She’s not cleared for it–hell, neither am I–but I have to do something.
Fuck this, I’m doing it. She’s going to jump.
SCARLET: I didn’t want it to come to this. Jasmine, you’re going to need to take a jaunt.
JASMINE: There aren’t any here!
SCARLET: No, you’re going to do what Sterling calls “instantaneous conveyance.” Is there a mirror behind you?
SCARLET: Perfect. You know how phones are banned here? Part of that’s because of jaunting. Going through the wire. Same with mirrors. You can pass right through them if you know how. If that thing gets within a few feet of you, I need you to press the red button on the watch and step back through what’s behind you.
JASMINE: I-i can’t.
*pounds on mirror*
JASMINE: It’s solid glass
SCARLET: I promise it won’t be if you don’t think it is.
The creature that stole Jasmine’s face leaned in to study her. With each passing second, its approximation of her got closer to the real thing.
JASMINE: That doesn’t…I can’t not know something I already know.
SCARLET: You can, because you have to. You’ll live, because you have to. Push the button. Fall backward, Jasmine. You have to trust me. You won’t hit any mirrors.
JASMINE: It’s right there! Then I’ll be even more screwed.
SCARLET: If you don’t, this thing will have full and unrestricted access to your mind. You won’t remember a thing after this. You’ll be a husk. Your life will be over. Do you understand, Jasmine? It’s going to take your memories, and then take your place.
Ivory Torment’s fingers extended down the hall, two feet long, three feet, stretching closer to Jasmine’s face.
JASMINE: Damn it!
*beep, dial tone*
Jasmine closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and let her body fall backward. She anticipated the impact, the falling and scrambling, the cold presence of the mimic before her. But none of it came. She felt grass under her hands, a warm breeze on her face.
*crickets, neither jasmine nor scarlet are coming through on the watches*
JASMINE: Wh–where am I? Am I outside?
SCARLET: For a second, yeah.
JASMINE: I’m out. I could just run. Leave the building behind.
SCARLET: Again, for a second, yeah. You’re in an intermediary place. A medium, between one space and the next. It’s just for a minute, Jasmine.
JASMINE: Of course it is. That would be too easy. Where is it? I’m near some woods. I see a red jeep just off the trail.
SCARLET: I’d…I’d rather not explain it.
JASMINE: You have to loosen up sometimes, Scarlet.
SCARLET: Not about this.
JASMINE: What do you mean? You can’t even tell me where I am now? Why?
JASMINE: That doesn’t–wait. You sound so clear. You’re not–
Jasmine stood up from the damp grass and wiped her hands on the teal suit. She looked at her palms, and saw a faint swish of color, just a flash. She saw two figures emerge from the red jeep. A girl she didn’t recognize, and Scarlet. She had yet to see Scarlet in person, but she saw her in Copper’s head. She was younger here, sure, but it was her.
JASMINE: Scarlet. I need you to be completely honest with me. Am I…am I in your mind somehow? You were talking about telepathy in the psych–
SCARLET: That’s completely unhinged, don’t be weird.
JASMINE: It’s just…with Copper, I reached in, and I saw…
SCARLET: You…you “reached in”?
JASMINE: Nevermind. I don’t want to talk about it. Just tell me.
SCARLET: God, you’re nosy. It’s not really my “head,” you’re seeing a memory. I think Green called them “narrative pauses” as a little joke. It’s like a holding place. A bookmark.
JASMINE: I wish for once any of you would just talk like normal people. I miss Gabe.
SCARLET: Just a bit of lag before you load into the new zone, you know?
JASMINE: No, I don’t. And why am I seeing this memory?
SCARLET: The stronger the memory, the more stable the jaunt.
NARRATOR: Jasmine saw someone else step out of the jeep. Someone with her face.
JASMINE: Scarlet, it’s here! The ghoul followed me here. I can see it copying me!
SCARLET: T-that’s impossible. Close your eyes for a sec, then look again.
JASMINE: They’re…they’re walking away into the woods. I can’t see its face anymore, but I guess it’s not coming for me.
SCARLET: You’re safe. Sit down.
Scarlet waited in silence. The flow between herself and Jasmine was freer than ever, like they were sitting a only few feet apart under the stars. Like they’d been childhood friends. That tends to happen with all this telepathy and memory sharing whatever, Scarlet figured. She remembered Green’s warnings, but it had to be done. She waited, inched closer on the grass in her mind, then spoke up after a long pause.
SCARLET: Hey, Jasmine.
JASMINE: What’s up, Scarlet?
SCARLET: Are you still on the grass?
SCARLET: Cool, no rush. One other thing: (in a sinister manner) do you like scary movies?
JASMINE: Not really.
SCARLET: No, it’s a joke. You’ve never seen Scream?
JASMINE: Like the 90s movie?
SCARLET: Yeah! Ghostface.
JASMINE: I don’t do horror that well.
SCARLET: Well, I think you should watch it.
JASMINE: Nahh, I don’t think–
SCARLET: Come on, seriously. After this, let’s watch it.
JASMINE: “Let’s”? Where’s this coming from? Do you actually want to get to know me?
SCARLET: N-no, that way you’re not watching it alone.
JASMINE: Why talk about it now?
SCARLET: It’s October, perfect timing.
JASMINE: That’s not what I mean. Why Scream?
SCARLET: It’s just really good.
JASMINE: You seem uncharacteristically excited about this.
SCARLET: Dude, it rules! It’s a slasher throwback to Halloween and italian horror movies from the ‘70s. Knives, lots of blood, unique deaths.
SCARLET: It’s actually pretty funny. It plays around with movie tropes before like everyone was doing it. It’s not Saw or anything. Have you seen Nightmare on Elm Street?
JASMINE: Nope, not that one either. I think the scariest thing I’ve seen is Scooby Doo on Zombie Island.
SCARLET: Damn. Well it’s not that much bloodier than Nightmare. There’s a great scene where…wait, I don’t want to spoil much if we’re gonna watch it. But there’s a scene where a group of teens are watching a scary movie at a party. And the teens are being spied on by a reporter. And we’re watching all of it. So like someone gets killed in the horror movie the teens are watching, then we watch someone get killed at the party, then we watch the camera guy watch the kill and then he dies, too. It’s nuts.
JASMINE: So it’s got some meta stuff in it.
SCARLET: For sure.
JASMINE: Isn’t meta commentary a bit played by now?
SCARLET: Sure, but this was the ‘90s. It’s commenting on sensationalized murder, and believing victims, and masculinity. Like she keeps saying that these murders are connected, and no one believes her. A whole Cassandra thing. In the second one she even stars as Cassandra in a play. Not really subtle, but it’s fun. And there are a couple fakeouts, where what you think is happening isn’t happening, and the other way around. It messes with you a little.
JASMINE: All right, I can see how that could be cool. The mask gave me nightmares as a kid though.
SCARLET: Me too! I saw it way young. Dressed up as Ghostface for Halloween once after I got over it. What was your favorite costume as a kid?
JASMINE: I went as a mermaid in…I want to say 5th grade? I helped make it myself. That was probably my favorite. A few years ago I went to a party as a witch. Nothing special, but sometimes the classics are fun.
SCARLET: For sure. I was Black Phillip two years ago. That was my sick. Did some eye makeup, got the horns.
JASMINE: I bet that was cool.
SCARLET: It was. Hey, you doing okay?
JASMINE: Why do you care all of a sudden?
SCARLET: We’ve just been at this a while, and after what happened in the lab…
JASMINE: It’s fine, okay? It was weird, sure. But I’m over it. There’s work to be done. We have to get out, and help anyone else get out if we can.
SCARLET: Right. Just so you know, I never left you. I was there the whole time.
JASMINE: Yeah? I couldn’t hear. Headphones.
SCARLET: I had your line open, and I was calling all the other channels like mad. But no one answered. I was trying to talk you through it, even if you couldn’t hear me.
JASMINE: Thanks, I appreciate it.
SCARLET: Doooo you wanna talk about it?
JASMINE: What’s there to say?
SCARLET: I don’t know. I Just know when I was all messed up from my experience, I really could have used someone there.
JASMINE: It used to be a person, Scarlet.
SCARLET: I know…
JASMINE: It was after me, I didn’t have a choice, but…
SCARLET: Don’t beat yourself up over it. If it makes you feel any better, it’s not there anymore.
SCARLET: Yeah, dude, you didn’t kill it. You incapacitated it.
SCARLET: Still impressive, but yeah. Like I said, those things are almost indestructible.
JASMINE: You’re just saying that. How would you know?
SCARLET: I can track its watch.
JASMINE: I’m losing track of time. How long have we been doing this? This thing doesn’t tell time.
SCARLET: I’m guessing it’s about 3pm.
JASMINE: I’m so tired.
SCARLET: Me too.
JASMINE: I might lie down and rest for a minute. Will you talk to me so I don’t fall asleep?
NARRATOR: Scarlet leaned her back against the white wall of floor 17 and slid down along it until she was sitting. She ran her fingers through her hair and yawned.
SCARLET: *yawn* Sure. What about?
JASMINE: Hmmm…What was the best candy you got trick or treating?
SCARLET: Gotta be Reese’s. Hands down. Though one time I got thin mints from a house with like 5 kids–all in girl scouts–and that was probably the best day of my little life. You? And don’t say candy corn–
JASMINE: –I like candy corn….
SCARLET: You’re hopeless. Other than candy corn, what is it?
SCARLET: Oh my GOD.
JASMINE: What, WHAT? I don’t eat much candy, okay? My parents were weird about sugar.
SCARLET: Mine didn’t give a shit what I ate. I think we had “family dinner night” like twice. All right, favorite cookie. Vegan double dark chocolate chip. Go.
SCARLET: Clock’s ticking, Jasmine.
JASMINE: Give me a second. Any cookie counts?
SCARLET: Any of them.
JASMINE: Chocolate chip’s fine…mmm…I don’t know. I just like a regular sugar cookie.
SCARLET: Frosted, unfrosted, what’re we talking?
JASMINE: Frosted. I like the shortbread ones with raspberry and cream, too.
SCARLET: Okay, respectable choice this time. I love, love raspberries.
JASMINE: Hard to go wrong with a good berry.
SCARLET: Are there any bad berries? And buttered or unbuttered?
JASMINE: Buttered berries?
SCARLET: No, sorry, my brain jumps around sometimes. Popcorn for movie night! When this shit blows over. And when I say “buttered” I mean “oiled.” No dairy required.
JASMINE: If you’re going to go, might as well go all the way, right?
SCARLET: Buttered, then.
SCARLET: You’re pretty new in town, right?
JASMINE: Yeah, just moved here a month ago. Right after the interview.
SCARLET: Have you been to the Song Bird since then?
JASMINE: No, what is it?
SCARLET: A little dive bar on the south side. Cheapest gin and tonic in town. They do karaoke on friday nights and have weird local bands play on saturdays. You should check it out. I go with Mel and Avery and a few others. Big sign with lights. Can’t miss it.
JASMINE: Jeez, I haven’t been out with people in a while. I miss the theater. Even just the smell takes me back to the old mall. We had to drive about 15 minutes out of town to get to a mall with a theater. We would go when I needed new school clothes, or if there was a movie my dad really wanted to see. I went a lot more often when I could drive. I think my first real date was there, actually. I can almost smell the food court and the old stale carpet.
SCARLET: Oh man, have you had Pita Palace yet?
JASMINE: Not yet.
SCARLET: Dude, you gotta go. The falafel will have you writing your will.
JASMINE: That good, huh?
SCARLET: For real.
JASMINE: There’s still so much I wanted to do.
SCARLET: What do you mean?
JASMINE: I kinda hoped I’d write a book someday. Even if no one read it. I just wanted to do it for myself, to prove I could. So many places left to see and things to try.
SCARLET: Come on, you’ve still got plenty of time.
JASMINE: Not if we don’t get out of here. And even if we do…nevermind.
SCARLET: Instead of movie night, why don’t we go out and see something? I’m sure there’ll be spooky stuff playing the next few weeks.
JASMINE: Like out at the theater together?
SCARLET: I’ll take you to my favorite spot. They show old movies all the time, too. Sometimes on 35 millimeter. Great format. We’ll swing by Pita Palace, see a movie, and if you’re up for it, we can go to the Bird. What do you say?
JASMINE: That sounds cool. What should we see?
SCARLET: Maybe they’re showing Alien? I think you could handle it.
JASMINE: All right, I’ll trust you on that.
SCARLET: Cool. Next Friday?
JASMINE: Yeah that works…Well, assuming we make it out of here.
SCARLET: Right, assuming.
SCARLET: You know, when it gets quiet like this, with you on the other line…I kind of forget that we’re in the middle of a shitstorm. The world’s falling apart around us, we could bite it any second. But we still get times like this.
JASMINE: Little pockets of life, even in the face of death.
JASMINE: All right. Let’s do it.
SCARLET: It’s a date then, Jaz.
JASMINE: Oh! Cool. I wasn’t su–
SCARLET, panicking: Well, you know what I mean. The expression. “The date is saved,” you know?
JASMINE: Right, cool…
SCARLET: Cool…See you, Control. Scarlet Jaunt out.
*screeching in the distance, then dial tone*
JASMINE: Whoa. I’m back in the building. And I’m violently nauseous.
SCARLET: Shit, sorry Control. I–*hurk* *exhale* me too. Let’s take another minute.
JASMINE: Sounds good.
SCARLET: Violeeet, I fucked up.
NARRATOR: Scarlet stood up quickly and started pacing around the lobby.
SCARLET: Vi, can you hear me? I embarrassed myself publicly. I feel like you’ll want to hear this.
SCARLET: Hey, seriously, Violet? This is Scarlet. Please pick up. Over.
SCARLET: Shit. Nobody’s answering still?
NARRATOR: Scarlet ruffled her hair and bit her knuckle. She was resigned to wait until she heard from Sterling. Or Violet. Or anyone, really. Since this incident began, she hadn’t talked to anyone but Jasmine.
SCARLET: Getting her out of the office is part of the job, but I think…I’m having a little fun, too. Maybe it’s some messed up stockholm syndrome. Maybe it’s…her voice. O-or maybe it’s the glass case, the elevator, the Lark. She’s more capable than I gave her credit for. Whenever she doesn’t ping back, I get…*sigh* I get nervous. What if she gets lost without my help? Or dies? I have no idea what the Primaries were thinking hiring her. Jasmine’s barely got the psychic mechanisms to protect herself.
NARRATOR: So many of the others there already had them before they started. You don’t need to see monsters for those. Social oppression, ostracization, poverty. Forms of psychic warfare not unlike the Larks. You find ways to inure yourself when you’re on the receiving end, become less vulnerable to mental onslaughts.
SCARLET: Being queer’s variance, of a sort. I’m doubly protected, then. I wonder if Jasmine…No, she seems almost fully exposed. Then again, she dealt with the Lark somehow…
Scarlet laid on her back and stared up at the pockmarked ceiling tiles. She closed her eyes and thought for a spell.
JASMINE: Hey Scarlet, come in. The stairway spirals down and there’s a hatch at the bottom.
SCARLET: Well, there’s only two options. How do you feel about water?
JASMINE: To drink, or swimming, or what?
SCARLET: Liiiike…a flooded office.
JASMINE: Not good, very bad. Like code-red bad.
SCARLET: Really? The other option is space. That’s gotta be worse. You afraid of getting wet?
JASMINE: Not getting wet, I’m terrified of deep water.
SCARLET: Well this is kind of an obstacle course, a training room for flood procedures. It should only be about six feet deep.
JASMINE: Oh god.
SCARLET: Can you swim?
JASMINE: I can swim, but I don’t like doing it if I can’t see the bottom.
SCARLET: I never got that. What’s the deal?
JASMINE: It’s a phobia, I don’t know!
SCARLET: All right, you can do this. Some of the office furniture might be tall enough to stand on and stay mostly out of the water. The suit should keep you dry.
JASMINE: *long sigh*
*hatch releases, splash, walking noises*
JASMINE: Okay, I’m in, but if a fish rubs against me I’m going to have a heart attack.
SCARLET: Whoa, you didn’t say anything about fish.
SCARLET: You said you’re afraid of “deep water” not “fish.”
JASMINE: Scarlet, are there fish in this office?
SCARLET: Keep your head on straight, Jasmine. Focus on finding the stairs.
JASMINE: Are there fucking fish in here.
SCARLET: There should be another hatch on the ceiling somewhere, like the one you came down through.
JASMINE: If there’s a huge shark in here I’m gonna to kill you, Scarlet. Even if I die I’ll come back and I’ll haunt you until you die and then I’ll punch your ghost.
SCARLET: Hey, don’t say things you’ll regret. The shark isn’t that big.
JASMINE: WHAT!? No. Nope. I’m not doing this.
SCARLET: Come on, it’s like four feet long. Very docile. I pet it once.
JASMINE: It doesn’t matter how fucking big it is, it’s a shark!
SCARLET: It’s just there to scare you. You’re totally safe.
JASMINE: Well, it’s already doing a damn good job, then.
SCARLET: Way safer than the Larks, or that butterfly thing.
JASMINE: Jesus, I can’t stop shaking. How am I supposed to leave this cabinet?
SCARLET: I know this is intense. But you’ll make it. It’s not a big floor. You probably won’t be in the water more than a minute.
JASMINE: I can see the other hatch from here, but it’s through a bunch of open water. What if I just stay here until the lockdown is over?
SCARLET: Well, that’s your choice. You can crouch there in a soggy cubicle and hope that this all blows over soon. You can hope that it ends, that I can survive and come find you. You can hope that nothing else figures out where you are first and gets there before me. And you can hope that sharks can’t jump. You can give up, if you want. Or you can take action. You can get in that water, swim for your life, and get out of here. There’s no one looking for us but ourselves.
JASMINE: UGH, I get it, okay? I’m a coward. Whatever.
SCARLET: Jasmine Control. You are not a coward. We’ve all got something we’re afraid of. You’ve got water, I got the woods. But avoiding it only kicks the can down the road. You have to face it some time. Face your fear, face your pain, and kill it.
JASMINE: You give me too much credit.
SCARLET: If anything, I didn’t give you enough. You got away from that Lark in the Psychedelics Lab.
JASMINE: I can’t do it on my own. I’m small, I’m weak. I’m tired.
SCARLET: You can do it. And I’m hanging up and won’t answer again until you do.
JASMINE: No, don’t do this. You can’t.
SCARLET: I’ll give you three seconds to get in that water.
JASMINE: I’m going to die here. I’m going to die in this building.
JASMINE: There’s a shark in a flooded office. This is tailor-made punishment for me.
JASMINE: Are you sure this isn’t hell? Purgatory?
JASMINE: You won’t.
SCARLET: Goodbye, Jasmine.
*splash, treading water*
JASMINE, with some effort: Fuck this. Fuck you. Fuck all of you. *surprised noise* SHIT that was just a printer. Fuck this. Fuck you.
*swimming, hatch opens, closes*
SCARLET: You done?
JASMINE, heavily breathing: Fuck…off…
SCARLET: Okay, all calm and dry now?
JASMINE: Yeah. No thanks to you. Was there really a shark in there? I got a mouthful of water and I didn’t taste any salt.
SCARLET: That’s classified.
SCARLET: Look, I’m sorry I pushed you. But I can’t have you depending on me like that. If I die…Well, I couldn’t leave you sitting there, anyway. What do you see through the door?
JASMINE, signal breaking up: Envelopes. There’s towers of envelopes and postcards and little packages. Looks like a post office threw up in here.
SCARLET: Oh, you’re in the overflow storage for the Dead Letter Office. Lots of people work there, maybe someone’s still there.
JASMINE, garbled transmission: All right, well ****(I’m gonna)*** go in. Speaking of…how many people are here? Where is everyone? Why am I the only one from the Department around?
SCARLET: Well, I’m around.
JASMINE: Other than you.
SCARLET: Other than us, who knows. I’ve got hunches, but that’s it. Maybe the upper levels were out today. Maybe the Primaries knew it was coming and got their people out. Or maybe they all died at the start of this. I don’t know. Violet, Green, Vermilion, hell even Sterling fucking Proof…I have to hope they’re safe somewhere. Me and Violet …
JASMINE: Scarlet? Hey, can you hear ****** Scar *****?
STERLING, quiet: Can anyone hear me? Am I coming through? The channel seems unstable. I’m stuck in my lab. Is anyone in contact with the administrator?
VIOLET: Sterling, is that you?
STERLING: Oh, Violet! Excellent. How are you managing?
VIOLET: So bored I could scream.
STERLING: Yes, I understand. Is all well up there?
VIOLET: Just great, Sterling. What do you think? I keep hearing some creep walking around. I thought people were getting out.
STERLING: Someone’s still there?
STERLING: That’s…concerning. I haven’t heard from anyone yet. Have you?
STERLING: If only…
VIOLET: You miss Green.
STERLING: Of course. I loved him, you know.
VIOLET: I know.
STERLING: I loved you, too.
VIOLET: *sigh* I know.
STERLING: I’m not sure what the next move is.
VIOLET: That’s strange for you. What’s up.
STERLING: Well, I’m getting nervous. I don’t know how this is going to turn out. I’m beginning to think I’ve made a mistake.
VIOLET: I mean, yeah, probably. But–shit, someone’s here. I need to go.
STERLING: Right. Goodbye, Violet. Stay safe.
VIOLET, unenthused: Help. SOS. Distress call. Come in.