11: Blackroom

written by Daniel Manning

[[SFX: tape recorder starts]]

ANTHONY PARTRIDGE (AP): Hello? Test, test... levels look good. I guess this thing can hear me. Ah, hi, I’m Anthony Partridge... I can’t imagine that if you’re listening to this you wouldn’t already know that. The date today is... hell, does it even matter? It’s October 28th, 1943, which for me, is every day. So, whatever that means to you.

As for where I am, it’s a mite difficult to describe. Where do I start? There’s a floor. A platform of cold, dark metal, the kind they use to make battleships. But beyond that, there’s nothing. An inky black curtain cutting me off from the rest of the world and time itself. No real walls, no real ceiling, and a repulsive force when I put my hand near the edge.

This is where I live now. Where I will live, breathe, eat, and die. This room is my prison. My cage. I’m not being dramatic, either: it’s really called a CAGE. Controlled Atemporal something or other. A little bubble in time isolated to a single moment, tethered to the deck of the USS Eldridge in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on the afternoon of October 28, 1943. This place, right here, right now is the nexus that makes time travel possible, and I’m here to make sure that the United States government takes full advantage of this in the service of ODAR, the Office of Developed Anomalous Resources.

The booklet I found when I got here calls this place “the Blackroom.” I assume it’s named after the place where Napoleon’s people opened and read everyone’s letters, but it might be that this is literally a big black room! My mission is to facilitate the communications for various iterations of ODAR across space and time. Messages, plans, intelligence, the results of next year’s World Series... Yes, I’m a time travel mailman. How glamorous.

I came here to the Blackroom with the aid of a version of ODAR’s time machine, which we not- so-cleverly call the Timepiece. I was sent with all the tools and equipment I’d ever need, enough C-rations to feed me for just short of forever, and a specialized computer that I invented that leverages the properties of the Timepiece to sort of “cheat” my way to solving arbitrarily complex problems instantly--which is necessary to coordinate all of the alternate futures and parallel timelines, and so on.

But that’s not all I found when I got here. There were vastly more boxes and equipment than I was sent with. And it’s from the future. There’s so much in here that it’s a little hard to get around.

The APU had all these modifications bolted to it, all kinds of tubes and cables and devices. There’s a big wire coming out of it connected to some kind of television set and a typewriter keyboard, probably a terminal of some sort for what comes out of the computer. There’s big bookshelf with novels and periodicals and technical documentation. It looks like I have better rations as well. I’m glad I won’t have to eat Beef Stew with Vegetables every day until I die.

I found this electronic dictaphone among the boxes. According to the information booklet it has the capacity to store over 1,000 hours of recordings, even though it’s smaller than my palm. As long as I’ve got it, I figured I should record my thoughts. I’m not sure if anyone will ever hear them, but Sally swears by it. I think they help her to have something to talk at. To talk to. To help help sort her thoughts. Maybe they’ll help me sort mine.

It’s all got to be from future versions of ODAR that have been improving the system over the years. The planning that went into my job here continued for decades after I left. I can’t believe Whickman really did it.

[[SFX: radio tuning; hospital room]]

CHET WHICKMAN (CW): It’s hard to see her like this... I don’t know if I can bear losing the two greatest minds I’ve ever known in the same week.

HANK CORNISH (HC): She’ll make it through. Esther’s got her on an incredibly rigorous schedule to make sure she doesn’t end up a drooling idiot. It seems like whatever hit her was one hell of a shock to her system though.

CW: Did we ever get anywhere trying to track down the cause? She was fine a few days ago, and now... This?

HC: No, but the medic says it must’ve hit her all at once. Even considering where she comes from, her low-level background exposure to paradox wouldn’t have caused symptoms this bad, this quickly. She’s stable, but... There’s a long road ahead of her.

CW: The preliminaries looked hopeful. And Sally’s a fighter.

HC: I don’t think I’d call her x-rays “hopeful.” If they got to her any later I doubt they would have been able to help her at all.

CW: She goes down at 6:12, order comes in at 6:13, and they’re carting her out at 6:14. These Timepiece guys are a damn miracle. Pardon the pun, but they really do run like clockwork.

HC: But we keep using them for all the wrong things! Come on Chet, that woman has no respect for this work. We’ve saved her how many times now?

CW: Can’t put a price on a mind like Sally Grissom. She’s one of a kind.

HC: I have never understood why you and Esther hold such fondness for her. What is it? Does she drown out your good sense by incessantly invoking movie scenes that don’t even exist yet?

CW: You haven’t known her like we have. There’s more to Sally than just being from the future. Did I ever tell you how she invented the TAP?

HC: Enlighten me.

CW: She falsely assumed that I was accusing her of murder. She invented it to prove her innocence. She built the thing in three days flat, fueled by nothing but coffee and nerve. The thing worked perfectly! We’ve hardly changed the design at all since that first day.

HC: I’m not doubting what’s in her head is valuable, but Grissom is a subversive. She’s going to be a problem if she stumbles across something she shouldn’t and goes the way of Anthony Partridge.

CW: What do you suggest, then? It’s not like you can pull it out of her brain. We can’t just cuff her to a radiator and politely ask her to run the research division, either. And we’ve already burned the “lock a genius in the Blackroom” card. We need her, Hank. Like it or not, she’s the best candidate for the job. And if she’s going to be useful to us at all, we’ve got to keep her on our side.

HC: How? I mean, the woman’s practically a Communist, for God’s sake!

CW: She’ll come around. Once she gets a look at what we’ve been doing, she’ll understand.

[[SFX: radio tuning; EKG]]

SALLY GRISSOM (SG): [incomprehensible]

DOCTOR (MD): Good morning, Miss Grissom.

SG: [Doctor.]

MD: Do you know where you are, Miss Grissom?

SG: [DOCTOR Grissom.]

MD: Hmm. I see. You’re in the hospital, Miss Grissom. You’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury, and it may be affecting your ability to speak.

SG: Guhh–

MD: There’s no cause for right now. There on the table next to you, there’s a pen and paper. Can you pick it up?

[[SFX: Sally knocks the pen off the table]]

SG: [Goddammit!]

MD: There’s no need to strain yourself, Miss Grissom. You’re in a safe place. We’re going to help you get through this.

[[SFX: intercom buzzer]]

MD: Can I get someone down to one-sixteen? Sally Grissom is awake.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

MD: Alright, read the word you see on the card.

SG: Mahh.

MD: No, Sally. This is a train. (slowly) Train.

SG: Mow-mah.

MD: Train.

SG: Turmpeh.

MD: Good. That's progress.

[[SFX: Doctor flips to next card]]

MD: What's this one?

SG: [You're a dick.]

MD: Yarn ball.

SG: [Fuck you.]

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

MD: You're doing well, now read the sentence in front of you.

SG: (stuttering) The rains in Spain... fell... will fall plains?

MD: Try it again.

SG: Rains in Spain... falling... plain. Spain. Plain. Spain.

MD: You can do this.

SG: Spain rains were fall on plain. Mainly.

MD: [sigh] We're making progress.

[[SFX: radio tuning; crutches]]

SG: I hate this.

MD: We’re re-training your body to accomplish many simple tasks that you used to take for granted.

SG: I feel like a child!

MD: You're doing fine. You just need to cross this corridor.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

MD: All right, I want to really dig into the source of these delusions.

SG: They’re not… uh… crazy dreams, you quack! I’m not supposed to be here!

MD: Yes, you believe you’re from the year 20█. What makes you think so?

SG: What makes you think I’m not?

MD: Well for one, the year is 1949. Here, have a look at my calendar. 20█ simply doesn’t follow, do you see?

SG: But I am! There was this thing, the time box and it... I was in Texas, and then Philadelphia, and New Mexico, and Colorado, and then... Then... I can’t remember the words. I don’t have the words.

MD: Miss Grissom, please—

SG: Doctor. It’s Doctor. DOCTOR Grissom.

MD: When one suffers from a brain injury like yours, one may become confused. Irritable. They may remember experiences that never happened, times that don’t exist. The future, this preposterous time machine... None of it is real, Miss Grissom. You must accept this if you’re going to become healthy. It’s perfectly natural to be frustrated when reality doesn’t match up with your own fantasies—

SG: They’re not! If that were true, how could I know every… America leader, for the next 80 years?

MD: Okay, go on.

SG: Truman, then... Um... The next one was... Okay fine! Bad…. picture! But it's all real! Ask Whickman. Whickman will tell you!

MD: Sally I’m sorry, but I can’t continue to entertain your illusions. I mean, what kind of a name is Whickman? Come now, let’s try some more exercises.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

AP: So now I’ve answered the what, the how, the where and when... I... I’ve been avoiding talking about the why. It’s still hard for me to think about. My wife, Helen... She left me. She was... I thought she was my world, I could have sworn she was. But I got lost in the... The work, I guess. Lost in my own damn head. And she left me.

I never blamed her. Not once did I ever blame her for leaving. I blamed myself, for sure. And then I blamed Bill Donovan. I had proof on tape that he’d conspired to push Helen out of my life, and I thought... I thought if I could just... I don’t know. I don’t know what I thought. It’s all sort of a rageful fog. And when I came out of it, my hands were on his throat and he...

It’s all my fault, though. I mean sure, he may have given her the last push, but she wouldn’t have been so close to the edge if I hadn’t put her there. I didn’t appreciate her enough. Her support, her loyalty. The sacrifices she made for us. For me. Honestly, how could I blame her? Helen was born to be on stage, and I locked her away. Robbed years from her. Dragged her on this quixotic chase to make a name for myself as the man who could predict the future. And look where it got me! (laughs)

Here. This was his plan all along, wasn’t it? To get me to come here. He knew. He didn’t know how I’d react, but... He sure got me here. Good damn job, you conniving piece of garbage!

I wonder what she’s doing now. Will be doing. After she left. After I left. At least she can get a happy ending out of all this. I hope she’s happy. I like to imagine she is, driving off into the sunset. She can finally do the things she always wanted. She deserves all the success in the world.

Helen, if you ever hear this: I am sorry. I am so, so sorry. None of this should have happened. What I wouldn’t give to hear her voice one more time.

[[SFX: radio tuning; listening to a tape]]

SG: (on tape) But it's all real! Ask Whickman. Whickman will tell you!

MD: (on tape) Sally I’m sorry, but I can’t continue to entertain your illusions. I mean, what kind of a name is Whickman? Come now, let’s try some more exercises.

ESTHER ROBERTS (ER): What kind of name is Whickman, anyway?

[[SFX: tape stops]]

CW: It’s English. People always spell it wrong though. Everyone always drops the “h.”

ER: Don’t even get me started. My father only changed it to Roberts because no one could spell “Rubashkin.”

CW: This shrink isn’t working. We can’t keep hiding the past from her like this.

HC: I thought isolating her from the concept of time travel was the only way to bring her back to reality. How can we tell her where she’s from without exposing her to that risk?

ER: How is she supposed to rebuild her psyche when we keep lying to her? We agreed that we would only isolate her from ODAR until such time as her fractured mind could handle the truth, and she’s clearly more than ready!

HC: What about the lab techs? Aren’t they still studying her? Save actual testimony, I thought that was the best way to determine what happened to her in there.

ER: We’re not going to get there by burying the memory deeper inside her head.

HC: What about the TAP?

ER: The operators reported interference surrounding the event. There’s too much tachyon activity in the area to get a clear picture.

HC: Tachyons?! I am so sick of hearing about tachyons. Make you an oracle, but only if they don’t blind you first. Faster-than-light pains in my ass.

ER: They’re tachyonic photons...

HC: Can’t see anything if there aren’t enough. Now we can’t see because there are too many! I’m beginning to think you just blame tachyons for anything that goes wrong around here.

ER: Hank, it’s needlessly cruel to keep Sally in a state like this, and you know it.

CW: Esther’s right here. We don’t need to toy with her head any further.

HC: My guys draw up a foolproof plan for reconciliation, and you don’t even look at it. I assume you’re moving forward with your plans to re-enlist her?

ER: Yes, unless you have another expert on four-dimensional particle physics in your address book! And it’s more than a matter of finding someone else as gifted as she is, we also have to find someone that gifted, who specializes in the esoteric fields of study the Timepiece needs, who’s strong enough to withstand this illness, and who doesn’t mind giving up a shot a tenure. It’s not like we publish, or put up a help wanted. On top of the fact that she knows more about the Timepiece than any other person alive today, myself included. Face it, she’s the only one for the job.

HC: Okay fine, but you know there’s another group of people that are just as able to withstand her “illness,” as you say. We could always bring someone in from The 77s.

CW: Those agents are bloody murder to our bottom line. Have you read over the line item? It’s like importing them from another country. Worse, since they also have to give up their families, acquaintances, their entire lives to come back to now. And you’ve heard Sally complain about missing her mail-order pizza and her hand telephones. God, the signing bonus alone...

HC: Grissom it is then.

CW: Agreed. Esther, you should pay her a visit. She’s recuperated enough. Better get her out of that Potemkin hospital sooner rather than later.

ER: Of course, but before that there is one more item on the docket.

CW: Go ahead.

ER: The Blackroom support guarantee is turning out to be a more substantial task than we had anticipated. Even if we’re only talking about one update every ten years, it’s going to require an incredible amount of planning and research to get it to work.

HC: How difficult can it be to send back a pallet of food and supplies?

ER: You’ve gotta realize how finicky the Blackroom is. Remember, everything gets there at the same time as Anthony does. From his point of view, by the time he arrives, he’ll have every package we send him, from ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, who knows how many years down the line. And once we send a package we can’t un-send it later. It’s all cumulative. Whatever we send in ten years time has to play nice with his original setup, as well as being compatible with future upgrades. And just finding the space for all that, given his fixed CAGE radius... You don’t want to teleport a computer through his chest.

CW: No thanks.

HC: Oh, now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a flight to catch.

CW: Recruitment?

HC: Flying out to the Seaboard. I’ve been eyeing a professor at the University of Delaware who might fit the bill. Wish me luck.

[[SFX: Hank exits]]

CW: Esther? When you see Sally, find out what happened. And tell her...

ER: Yes?

CW: Tell her I’m glad she’s all right.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

AP: I have a confession to make. The whole reason I’m here is to use this terminal to send out messages, but... I haven’t been doing that. At all. It’s been about a week now... Or at least, I’ve slept seven times since I got here. The way the system works, new messages can’t come in until I send the old one out, so all I have here is the first message ever sent over the network. So I figured hey, I’ve got all the time in the world, I can’t start when I want!

I’ve spent my time pouring over the materials they sent back with me. They’ve got novels, magazines, scientific journals. I think I’m supposed to have music too, but I can’t figure out how these glass records are supposed to work. I keep pushing through these dime-store novels by some fella named Stephen King. This guy has got it nailed down. He knows what it’s like to be afraid of the dark.

It’s weird to see how things will change in the next thirty years. Or really, how much they

won’t. We’re still drunk off the spoils of war,. We still get our rocks off on winning wars we probably shouldn’t have meddled in. And the Red Scare that seems to creep into every aspect of life was already taking root when I left. I jumped into a new world head-first, and it turns out that it wasn’t too different from the one I left behind.

Actually... I guess this place is my world now. A single room filled with technology and bookshelves. But all the distractions in the world doesn’t compare to having a purpose, a reason to be. I guess I could call this my retirement, and give my bosses at ODAR the big up-yours, but that seems disingenuous to the deal I made. Will make. Will ha–... Hmm. This is hard.

And of course, if I never do the work, then Whickman’s plan never works in 1947, it doesn’t make sense that they’d continue to add onto the Blackroom well into the 80’s. Does that mean I’m fated to do it anyway? Does it mean that I don’t have a choice?

You know, Heidegger says that presence is a function of time, that we define our consciousness, ourselves, as the ceaseless march toward death, toward not being. We cannot be if we do not experience time. And in some sense, I still experience it. My brain will eventually cease functioning. But in another sense, time doesn’t–I can’t believe I’m about to say this–time doesn’t experience me. In that sense, do I even exist? Does my present mind even matter if I can only experience the world through a non-place that itself has no concept of time?

Wait. What am I even talking about? I need to stop reading all this philosophy bull! It’s depressing and doesn’t make any sense. I’m sticking to pulp fiction from now on.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

ER: Sally?

SG: Esser?

ER: Oh, I didn’t mean to wake you.

SG: Wait, Esther?

ER: I’m sorry, I can come back later if you like—

SG: Am I dreaming?

ER: Well... I mean, if you were, how would my answer help you?

SG: Oh thank goodness, it is you! You... You have to get me the hell out of this place. They won’t believe me about the Timepiece—

ER: Shh shh shh I know. I’m going to do what I can to have you released. We heard about what’s been going on.

SG: ...Who’s we?

ER: Well, Whickman and me.

SG: And...

ER: And Hank Cornish.

SG: Cornish? The CIA snake in the grass? I’m out of commission for a few months and you bring in that prick?

ER: No... Sally, you woke up six months ago. And you were in a coma for a year before that.

SG: A year?!

ER: You don’t have any clue what happened to you, do you?

SG: I couldn’t remember, they told me I had a, a stress seizure...

ER: You suffered a... An attack. A violent illness. It’s related to the Timepiece. Something about exposure to non-causal structures. It caused some sort of mental break. Worst case we’ve seen yet.

SG: Butterfly.

ER: What was that?

SG: I.... Um. I don’t know. I just remember something about a butterfly. You said I was in a coma for a year?

ER: Well...

SG: What?

ER: Well, the only way we know of to treat your condition is...

SG: Being inside the CAGE.

ER: Yes, that’s right.

SG: ...How did I know that?

ER: For your treatment, you spent two seconds inside the CAGE for every second you spent outside it. Until we knew it was safe to revive you.

SG: Uh–I lost three years?!?

ER: You should be so lucky. Last time this happened to someone they took three decades to the jaw.

SG: So... What did I miss?!

ER: Donovan’s gambits paid off. We’re a fully realized, if entirely underground, part of the CIA. Jack left. Helen went off to follow her dream, and...

SG: Anthony is gone. And we’ll never see him again.

ER: Yes. He’s gone.

SG: I knew you were going to say that.

ER: Sally, what do you remember?

SG: I don’t know. Everything’s just swimming in my head. Vague things. Butterflies. Clouds. The sound of thunder. I remember looking into my mother’s eyes, and then... I’m eating pumpkin pie in her kitchen? Memories from my childhood, I guess. Maybe I heard about Anthony when I was asleep.

ER: There’s a place for you, Sally. At ODAR.

SG: What do you mean?

ER: We are in desperate need of people who can understand the Timepiece. I’m trying to put together some senior scientists that can lead teams.

SG: So ODAR’s like, a real thing again?!

ER: Even more so. It’s a totally different animal. What we’re doing would make your head spin. Uh... I mean, sorry.

SG: You’re spies now.

ER: In so many words, yes.

SG: You said there’s a place for me?

ER: There is, but you’ve got to get better first, Sally. You’ve got to clear your head... I think it’ll be better if you see someone.

SG: Nuh-uh. No way. I am not going back to that man!

ER: No, of course not. That quack has done enough damage. We’ve got someone in mind. He’s not going to try to convince you that Whickman wasn’t real, I promise.

SG: Is he? Because I’m never sure. I’m not sure of anything anymore. You think I don’t notice this isn’t a real hospital?

ER: ...It’s got real doctors that really treat you...

SG: There aren’t any other patients. I’ve only ever gone down one hallway to go to every other part of this place, regardless of where it would be in the hospital. This is a cheap set.

ER: A staging area.

SG: So it’s a set!

ER: If more people get sick like you, we want to have something prepared for them. And do you know what? Having a familiar-looking hometown hospital helped a lot to treat your time travel madness or whatever. It’s not like there’s a real Point-of-Exile General. And, this is a little inside baseball, but we actually do have a finite budget, especially when it comes to things that are not time machines, so building a full-scale hospital isn’t really feasible.

SG: This is what I’m talking about! All the lying and the games and the... I know you guys are in the right place, but I’m not ready for this yet. The Timepiece took years from me. I need some time to recover. I’m taking a sabbatical. I’m not going to come back. This is too much. All of it, too much.

ER: I think you’re making the wrong decision, but it’s yours to make. I’m going to leave the expert’s card anyway. Let me know if you change your mind.

SG: I’d say that you’d be the first to know besides me... But, be honest, you’ll probably know before I do, right?

ER: Probably.

[[SFX: Esther exits; radio tuning]]

AP: I still haven’t tried operating the computer, but I’ve been pouring over the documentation in this place and... The chance is slim, but I think I can contact the outside world. When data is transmitted out of the Blackroom, it mimics a high-frequency ship-to-shore signal that collects the messages and then holds them until they’re ready to be broadcasted. But there’s an information packet that gets beamed out with every message. It’s small, but there is just enough room in it to sneak a few bits in there.

I’ve still got a few hurdles. Firstly, rigging the control packet to include the data I want, which shouldn’t be too hard. Harder than that is figuring out how to program a system a paltry few instructions at a time. The biggest hurdle by far is that I can only send to a time that another Blackroom message is sent to. So, if I want to contact, say, 1952, and the only messages coming in are in every year but that one, I’m out of luck. It also means that I’ve got to start actually operating the Blackroom properly to have any contact with the outside world.

And so I return to the moral dilemma of being complicit in actions I felt so strongly betrayed my sense of humanity that I killed a man with my bare hands. If I help, then Donovan wins and they weaponize time travel. But if I don’t, then I drive myself mad from the isolation. I wish I could just ask someone. Anyone who could just respond. What I would give.

Moment of truth, I guess. I’ve still got this first message. I should just read it, I guess. That’ll help me decide.

[[SFX: Anthony opens an envelope]]

Oh. Yeah, that definitely clinches it. Sally’s in trouble. My hands are tied. I have to send this message. Something happens to her. She must have some encounter with a time traveler or something to do with the Timepiece. Whatever it is, it’s big.

[[SFX: typing]]

Existential whinging doesn’t matter matter when the people you care about are in mortal danger. I’m going to start up the Blackroom, and Chet gets what he wants, and Sally doesn’t have to die. Goddammit, Bill. You win again.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

SG: It’s just... it’s like they’ve moved on without me. Actually, it isn’t like they’ve moved on without me. They have moved on without me. I mean, I don’t know why I expected them to stay, but... I don’t know. I didn’t choose to be in a coma for a year, but who ever does?

I just wish I knew. I wish I knew what happened to me, how I ended up there. But I’m scared. What if I don’t like what I find? What if it only makes my condition even worse?

I miss my friends. And I miss the work that I do. But this is the only route I have to them. I have to recover. It’s all I have. I’m all alone out here, in the middle of exile, I don’t have anyone, I don’t have anything here! Without the work, I’m aimless. Not just for my career, like... for everything! It’s not like I have a family I could go back to, or old college friends to pester. It’s just me. I could try going out to the family farm, see if there’s anything there I could latch onto. I still remember how to buck hay. I could clean barns. Live the pastoral dream. Forget about my old life. And my old old life. I see why it’s so appealing.

Maybe this is just my stop. Maybe this is all I have. All I’ll ever have. Just me, the girl with no name, wandering the empty earth. I could always disappear. Wyatt did it, somehow. Maybe I could go find him. What do you think?

[[SFX: sounds of a diner]]

WAITRESS (W): Uh, I’m sorry, but I have other tables...

SG: Oh, of course. Sorry. You’re, uh, you’re new, right?

W: I’ve worked here about a year and a half. Not too green.

SG: Lemme guess, last girl who worked here ran off with some boy.

W: You been here before, or something?

SG: Something.

[[SFX: radio tuning]]

AP: I saw something the first time I turned off the lights to sleep. A light in the darkness. I tried to pretend it wasn’t there, but it was. I finally realized what it is.

It’s you, Sally. It’s you, just nanoseconds before you get here. It was before I knew you. Before any of this happened. You were still a part of 20█. You had no idea what was happening. And now I’m in the same boat you are. Thrown out of time, isolated from everyone I’ve ever known. I’m sorry this happened to you, Sally. None of this would’ve happened if your machine and Lambert’s Rainbow generator hadn’t worked so perfectly together in the most unexpected fashion. I wouldn’t be in here, Bill would be alive, you would still be happy in the future.

Were you happy there? I don’t think I ever asked you. You don’t like to talk about it much, I can say that. But you made the best of an awful situation in the 1940’s. You don’t get enough credit for your optimism. In hindsight I’m surprised that you’ll survive your first few days here. But right now, you don’t have to. Right now, in my forever, you’re a bright star in an ocean of black.

[[SFX: radio tuning;Sally unlocks her door, enters; throws keys on table; presse play on her Answertron]]

SG: (on machine) Hi me, it’s me! Unless it isn’t me, in which case DON’T LISTEN TO THIS because these are my private Answertron messages. You have–SIX. EIGHT.–messages, and I’m going to play them for you now! Be you later, future me!

SG: Ugh. I am the worst.

[[SFX: beep]]

VOICEMAIL 1: I’m uh... I’m trying to speak to Sally Grissom about her subscription to Popular Mechanics. It seems that your bill is past due by six mo–

[[SFX: Sally deletes the message; beep]]

VOICEMAIL 2: Oh isn’t this interesting! Hi, this is Carol Ludgate calling on behalf of the First Episcopal Church—

[[SFX: delete; beep]]

VOICEMAIL 3: Hi, this is John Beverly, calling from Speedy Message Service, Inc. I have a message for you from a... Anthony Partridge

SG: Huh?

VOICEMAIL 3: Message follows: disc jockey in Philly now STOP please come visit STOP bring your finest watches STOP would love to hear you again FULL STOP. Thank you very much, have a nice day.

SG: ...Wait, what??

[[SFX: tape recorder stops]]

ars PARADOXICA is created by Daniel Manning and Mischa Stanton.
Episode 11: Blackroom features – 

Kristen DiMercurio (Sally Grissom)
Reyn Beeler (Chet Whickman)
Katie Speed (Esther Roberts)
Robin Gabrielli (Anthony Partridge)
Brock Bivens, Lia Peros, Austin Beach (additional voices)
with special thanks to Isabel Atkinson

Original music by Mischa Stanton and Eno Freedman-Brodmann.
ars PARADOXICA is brought to you by The Internet: The real never-ending story.

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WEATHER: foggy