Dave: I said . . . Who the fuck . . . Are you then?
Dave: Oy! I’m fucking talking to you, mate!
[Dave taking in a breath to talk again, but Jake speaks before he does]
Jake [in HAL9000 voice]: Hello Dave.
Jake [still in voice, punch out last word]: How are you doing . . . Dave?
Dave: Is . . . Is that you? Oh my god. Jake? Is it really you?
Jake: Yep. In the flesh.
Dave: Holy bloody fucking shit. I can’t believe it’s really . . .
[Sounds of embracing]
Dave: How the fuck have you been?
Jake: Ahh, well, I guess I’d say I’ve been better. A lot better.
Dave: No fucking kidding. How the bloody hell did you end up here? In bloody Roanoke of all places?
Jake: I . . . Er . . . I don’t really know. Honestly. A lot of crazy shit has happened in the last twenty-four hours . . . Or years.
Jake: It’s . . . It’s a long story.
Dave: I know what you mean, mate. My last day and a bit have been very much not kosher. I . . . I don’t really know what the fuck’s been happening to me, exactly, but it’s been bloody awful. And it’s also a long story.
Jake: Did . . . Did the blackness get you . . . Too?
Dave: Oh . . . Oh God. Yes. And then . . . And then some very fucking strange things started happening to me. It was like . . . It was like having a really messed up dream on ecstasy. At least . . . That’s what I imagine it would be like. If I ever did something like that.
Jake: Right. I hear ya.
Dave: But there was plenty of weird shit before the whole showdown between you and Monica, and the blackness getting us.
Jake: You were there?
Dave: Bloody right I was. Standing behind all of you watching the show. It was very fucking mental seeing you standing there, and another you on Monica’s shoulder. But as I already mentioned, it felt like my mind wasn’t doing what it was supposed to at that point, so I wasn’t sure what I was actually seeing or what I thought I was seeing with my very own eyes.
Jake: Did . . Did you want to talk about it?
Dave: You know, I’ve never really considered myself the chatty type, but in this case I’d love to have a right old chinwag about it all.
Jake: Did you say . . . A . . . chin . . . Wag?
Jake: Okay then . . .
Dave: Look, if you need me to translate anything into American for you, don’t be afraid to ask, alright?
Jake [laughter in your voice]: Okay, sounds good Dave. And if you have problems understanding my [bad southern accent:] “Yankee slang,” you be sure to let me know, okay?
Dave: Deal. So how about a cuppa then?
Jake: A cuppa . . . Oh wait. I know that one! A cup of tea?
Dave: Correct, my son. One hundred pounds to Mr. Jake Fisher please.
Jake: Do they have tea here? In Roanoke? In this house?
Dave: I . . . I haven’t a bloody clue. But there’s only one way to find out, right?
Dave: I suppose it tastes like tea.
Jake: Are you sure it is tea?
Dave: I not perfectly sure what it is actually. It tastes a little bit like tea. And a little bit like dirt. And some ungodly mixture of herbs and spices. Not bad though.
Jake: These clay mugs are interesting too.
Dave: Not up to your sixteenth century Starbucks quality?
Jake: Oh no, this is some fine craftsmanship. I’m gonna see if I can bring this gray, badly-crafted drinking vessel back with me to Ostium.
Dave: If we ever make it back . . .
Jake: Right. So there’s our cue to start talking about the hell happened to us in the last twenty-four hours. Before we start getting too down in the dumps.
Dave: Wait a second, mate. I need to ask you something first: did you light this lamp here on the table in front of us?
Jake: Er . . . No. I didn’t.
Dave: I don’t suppose you lit the fire outside either then?
Jake: That’s . . . Another negative.
Dave: Alright then, we’re just going to move right along and forget about those two scary details . . . Would you like to begin your harrowing tale or should I go first?
Jake: Why don’t you do the honors.
Dave: Beauty before age then . . .
Dave: Nothing. So you received that last email I sent you, right?
Jake: Yeah, the one where you said you were in a different Ostium?
Dave: Right. Exactly. And I did get a chance to hear your recording with the email you said you sent me. By the way, I never actually received that email. Just got to hear it through your Ostium recording. I suppose that means my Ostium was already as rotten as last night’s fish and chips you decided to pull out of the bin.
Jake: Er . . . Okay. Sure.
Dave: Anyway, I was already planning on carrying out the very advice you were so generous to impart to me and your listeners. Well, at least to some extent. I decided I was going to take a gander behind the door with the big number two on it.
Jake: But wait . . . That would lead you to here. Roanoke. Is that how you you got here?
Dave: Yes, Jake. My harrowing tale of suffering and angst is me deciding to go through door number two and arriving here just a few minutes ago and telling you to stick em up. What a story, eh?
Jake: Sorry. Dave. Please continue with your story.
Dave: Cheers . . . But wait wait. Hold on a bloody second, mate. What about the blackness?
Jake [confused:]: What about the blackness?
Dave: You know? That impending darkness that likes to swallow us up and do terrible things to us? Aren’t we at risk of its inevitable arrival at any moment?
Jake: Huh? Oh, no. No. I’ve got it under control.
Dave: What exactly does that mean?
Jake: Well, I’ve been able to hold the blackness back for some time now . . .
Dave: Yes, I know. You said so in the recordings. But that was only for a certain amount of time. Eventually it arrived without fail . . . Every. Single. Time.
Jake: Well, something’s changed since I’ve come through . . . All this.
Dave: All what?
Jake [having trouble saying it:]: Being . . . Consumed by the darkness. Having it take over me and what’s it’s done to me, and coming out the other side alive. I can . . . control it better now.
Dave [shock]: Really?
Jake: Yeah. I just feel . . . Way stronger now. When I recognized where I was I just immediately engaged it.
Dave: Engaged it? Like Captain Picard?
Jake: [laughing] Exactly. And I can feel it’s like almost gone now. Just the barest blip on the horizon. Far, far away. And it’s not coming closer any time soon. So: you don’t need to worry about it all.
Dave: Wow. Just wow. That’s fucking incredible. I can’t wait to hear what your trip down the rabbit hole was like.
Jake: Heh, yeah, it was a trip alright. But let’s continue with you story.
Dave: Right. So I got me some food together. I even tried one of your “oh so wonderful” peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Sorry, mate. It was bloody awful. I couldn’t stand it. So I just made meself some jam sandwiches instead.
Jake: For the record: that statement is anathema, and if I was a cardinal or archbishop, or the fucking pope, you’d be excommunicated.
Dave: Right. Understood. Skipping along then. With some nosh, I made my merry way through door number two and found myself in the desert. Well, it wasn’t actually the desert, just bloody hot. Far away I could see this rock wall with human made formations. They looked like rows on the side of the formation with these tree trunks that looked like ladders . . .
Jake: Yes. Yes! You were in the land of the ancient ones, or Anasazi.
Dave: Okay. Yeah. I think I remember hearing about that in one of your recordings.
Jake: Yep, you certainly did.
Dave: Sure. And then I saw two people very high up on the top level I think, or maybe one below. I thought they were you two . . .
Jake [excited]: Yes, it was us. We were heading into a cave to try to find a way out.
Dave: I saw that. You two disappeared. I thought about climbing up there and trying to find out if it was you two, but I didn’t really want to take the risk. It was precarious, and I’ll be honest: I was scared shitless at the thought of it. So I decided I wasn’t going to go that way, and that’s when – completely out of the blue it seemed – there was this door near to me. I swear it hadn’t been there before, but then it was just there.
Jake: Appearing like magic?
Dave: Yeah. I don’t know. It was bloody weird. But it was a way out, and I hoped it would take me back to Ostium. Hopefully your Ostium.
Jake: Because that was your plan. To find us.
Dave: Exactly. Of course. What else could I bloody do?
Dave: So I stepped through and I was back in Ostium. In your Ostium, as I found out. After looking through all your very personal things, you know, like your underpants . . .
Dave: Nah, only kidding mate. Might’ve been a little childish there. You could’ve at least laughed. Nothing? Okay then, suit yourself. Anyway, I was able to recognize it was your Ostium with all your stuff. When you do your recordings Jake, you’re very thorough with the details. No stone left unturned. Know what I mean?
Jake: I sure do. I like to think it’s one of the parameters that leads to so many consistent downloads per episode.
Dave: Well, look who’s getting a bit cocky. Guess it’s time to burst your big ego bubble then. That X-Files reference you made in that mini episode on your little joyride back to Ostium. You talked about Scully in that boat and all that stuff about the fraying rope?
Jake: Oh yeah, I remember that. It’s what happened in the episode. I was having a moment. What’s wrong with that?
Dave: Nothing mate. Except the part where you said it was from the episode Memento Mori, during the fourth series.
Dave: Okay, fine. Season four. Well, it wasn’t bloody Memento Mori.
Jake [uncertain]: It wasn’t?
Dave: No mate. The scene you’re referring to, which you did accurately describe, is from Season 2, in the episode One Breath.
Jake: Oh . . . [realization:] Oh, shit!
Dave: Yeah. So, you might want to hold back on leading your ego parade down Buckingham Palace road.
Jake: Can . . . Can we get back to your story now?
Dave [cocky:] In a minute . . . . . . Okay, now we can. Where was I? Oh yeah, I knew it was your pad, your Ostium, because you had all your stuff there, like you described in earlier recordings. So I had something to eat, I think, and then had to have a wee. Right after that was when I started feeling strange. I was washing my hands, as any gentleman does after using the facilities, and started to feel wonky . . .
Jake [utter confusion and suspicion he’s being played a fool:] Wonky?
Dave: Yeah, wonky. It’s a word. Go bloody check a dictionary. Something was wrong. I wasn’t feeling right. Started having a bit of headache. Was feeling dizzy. Things were starting to get blurry, everything was sort of shaking. This was the first time I had this feeling of not really being in control of my body. It was like a dream sort of . . .
Jake: Describe it to me.
Dave: Well, it was like I was in my body and not in it at the same time. No, that’s not right. I was definitely in my body, but not fully in control of it. Almost like . . . Like wearing a space suit, only someone else is controlling what you’re doing in the space suit.
Jake: Okay, got it. [Cheeky] That’s quite poetic actually.
Dave: Oh fuck off! I don’t know who or what was making me do this, but the important lesson to understand from this is that I couldn’t really help it. It was beyond my control. And that’s when I opened the hidden panel in the wall behind the sink . . .
Dave: Yeah. Bloody shocking, I know. Apparently there’s a hidden panel low down to the floor behind the sink. One of the wall tiles. Though you have to do it exactly right, you know. Can’t draw any shape on it . . .
Jake [utter confusion:] Any shape?
Dave: Right. I got it wrong the first time. Bloody thing zapped with a million volts and shot me across the room like a cork from a champagne bottle.
Jake: A million volts?
Dave: Well, probably not that many, since I’d’ve been six feet under if that were the case. But it was a right old wallop. Bloody hurt too. And then that new voice in my head – you know, the one I didn’t give any permission whatsoever to come in and control me – suppose that definitely means it’s not a vampire then – told me to draw an O which I did and out popped the wall tile, like it was a perfectly natural thing. Behind it was a space with a gun in it.
Jake: A gun? What kind of gun?
Dave: A gun like I’d never seen before. A gun that looked like this . . .
Jake: It looks . . . Futuristic.
Dave: Like something out of Star Trek?
Jake [Pissed off:] Fuck no. Those were phasers. Not gun shaped at all.
Dave: Good. I was just checking. More Star Wars then.
Jake [considering:] Hmmm, yeah, I’ll allow it.
Dave: Why, fank you kind sir. And that was when I heard the bloke at the door. It was one of them soldiers. Came out of nowhere, knocking on the door.
Jake [hesitant:] Did you answer it?
Dave: No I didn’t bloody answer it. I was fucking terrified. But I remembered what had happened the first time them soldiers had showed up and you two just waited for them to leave. So I did the same thing. Waited for him to go away and then I stupidly followed him.
Jake [confusion:] Why?
Dave: You know? I’ve asked myself that question a lot of times. If I hadn’t, things would’ve probably happened very differently to what they did. I think it was because I was wanted to know where he came from, or where he was going? I worried about you two suddenly showing up and how dangerous he might me.
Jake [understanding:] Thanks Dave, I appreciate that.
Dave: Don’t thank me too soon. Once he was far enough away, I left the clock tower, tip-toeing quietly behind him. He didn’t really seem to know where he was going. That was when I started feeling really shitty. I suddenly had a bloody terrible headache. I felt really dizzy. Couldn’t see that well. I think I fell on the ground. Not sure. And from then on things are really spotty. I can barely remember anything. Just little bits here and there. But I know I didn’t give the bloke much of a chance to defend himself. Can’t remember if I talked to him, or even said anything to him. I know I shot him with the gun. And that it killed him. I know I threw him over my shoulder and went through a door. And put him in a seat of the front row of a cinema.
Jake [dawning horror:] The Casino Building. Avalon. Catalina. The body we found . . .
Dave: Yeah. He wasn’t the only one.
Jake [continuing shock:] Private Tanaka? On the spaceship?
Dave: Yeah. Sounds right. As much as I hate to admit it. Talk about a fucking dark period in your life. I thought I had enough horrible shit in my life to last . . . Well, to last a lifetime, but apparently I wasn’t done. Not even close. I had some people I needed to kill first.
Jake: I’m . . . Sorry, Dave. I know it’s not really any consolation, but these people . . . These soldiers Monica sent through the door were kinda doomed anyway.
Dave: No. Doesn’t really help. There was that guy in the snowy place. Bloody freezing it was there.
Jake: Anjikuni. That’s what it’s called. Where you were. We were there too. We found that body . . . Too.
Dave: Bloody great. I think there was also a bloke on . . . Er . . . What’s it called . . . Easter Island.
Dave: Yeah, pretty sure it was there. I remember the big stone statues. Before I found him.
Jake: I never saw a body there. Not that that means anything. What about the beach house?
Dave: What beach house?
Jake: It was a beach house in Fort Bragg I stayed at . . . From my past. I did a recording about it.
Dave: Sorry. Not ringing any bells. Must’ve been after I lost full internet access.
Jake: Before it became “wonky”?
Dave: Now you’re getting it! So what happened at this beach house?
Jake: We found bodies inside. Lots of them. They’d been horrifically slaughtered. Decapitated. Disemboweled. Torn to pieces. It was . . . It was fucking terrible. Something I just never want to see again. Like something out of a Saw movie . . . Only very fucking real.
Dave [shocked:] No . . . No. I never went to any sort of beach house. And I never saw anything . . . Like that . . . Let alone . . . Uggh. It’s only ever been the gun. One clean shot, and it’s all over. And that’s it.
Jake: Okay, Dave. I believe you, man. And that’s some very important information you’ve given me. Thank you.
Dave: Your . . . Welcome. I think. And that’s about it for me. Last thing I remember, I was on that space station or spaceship, whatever the fuck it was, and looking around. And that’s when I found you and Monica. And that’s when the blackness took us . . .
Jake: Do you remember what happened after that?
Dave: Yes. Better actually. Than the earlier stuff. I remember everything feeling incredibly dark and bleak and cold. And it was all pushing down on me; crushing me to a pulp. To a little speck of nothingness. And then it let go. Just went away. I was in a dark place with strange lights. It made me think of the Lord of the Rings films, when Frodo puts the ring on and sees the weird smoky world with the soft lights and the bloody terrifying Nazgul.
Jake: Ash Nazg Thrakatuluk, Agh Burzum Ishi Krimpatul. One ring to bring them all, and into the darkness bind them.
Dave: Okay . . . That’s . . . Fucking scary that is. I’ve met some serious bloody nerds in my life, but you . . . You outright scare me. Please don’t say that again.
Jake [sheepish]: Sorry. Was just trying to lighten the mood.
Dave: It didn’t help. So I was in this scary place and it took me a bit to realize it was Ostium. Only different. Very fucking different. Through this weird filter. But I sort of accepted it. Dealt with it the best I could, and started walking around. In a little bit I heard a sound. Someone else walking. Or maybe something? I followed it; tried to find it. Eventually I did. It was a hunched over figure slowly walking away. I think it was female, from the shape of the body. But I can’t be sure. It looked a bit like the witch in Snow White. The crone. From behind. Her . . . Or it eventually heard me and stopped and slowly turned around. It seemed to be looking at me. Then it started to pull back its hood to reveal its face. I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t want to see. I legged it. Fucking ran as fast as I could until I found a door that let me out . . .
Dave: It took me to here. Roanoke. And that’s when I found you.
Jake: That’s . . . Interesting . . . Very interesting . . .
Dave: That’s it? That’s all you have to say?
Jake [seemingly indifferent:] Yes. It . . . It makes me wonder . . .
Dave: What? . . . What! What the fuck are you on about? Could you talk some fucking sense for just a second please? That was heart-wrenching. Telling you all that. And all you can say it that’s it’s bloody interesting?
Jake [snapping out of it, sincerely:] I’m really sorry, Dave. I was . . . Thinking. You’re story has had a profound effect on me. And I’m thinking about a lot of stuff right now. Stuff I’m still unpacking. Pieces I’m putting together . . .
Dave: Okay then. That’s all I needed. So what’s your side of the story then?
Jake: Let me think a little about how to put it together so I can tell it to you so it makes at least a little bit of sense . . .
Jake: It’s hard to put into words, just what happened to me. The fact that you remember as much as you did is . . . Impressive. I feel like the experiences I’ve had in the last . . . Hour? Day? Eon? Are all just little shreds of paper with words and pictures in them and they’ve been dumped on the floor in this big messy pile of confusion . . .
Dave: Cheers. That image alone is making my head hurt. More tea?
Jake: I’m okay for now, thanks. It wasn’t crushing me, like it was for you. I fell. Forever it felt like. And it was incredibly cold and black. I think I was falling through the blackness, but not the blackness we’ found on the other side of the Ostium doors. The blackness on the other side of the gate in the untethered Ostium. I’m pretty sure it’s all the same blackness, but I wasn’t on anything solid, just continuously falling. And then I landed . . . And survived. Somehow. I was in a dark room, but it didn’t take me too long to recognize myself. Or at least recognize the door I could see in front of me. It was the door with the infinity symbol on it. The door that took me to the place where I worked and those clones with the terrible news. I never want to go back there, so I knew for sure I wouldn’t be going through that door. Little did I know . . .
Jake: I remembered when Monica and I had been in that same space before, we’d come through an opening in the ceiling, so that’s where I went. Took a number of tries, but I managed to get through it and out into the blackness all around. I stood on the roof of that room and looked around me, and it was like standing on top of Everest and being able to see all around you, except everything was black. And then I watched something truly unique. Some sort of battle. Between a bluish light and the blackness. I don’t exactly know what was going on but there was definitely something . . .
Dave: How could you tell, exactly?
Jake: I don’t really know . . . It was a sense I got. The . . . Vehemence with which the two colors came at each other, that’s what it made me think of. Things started getting pretty crazy and bright. I knew it was starting to get dangerous and I dropped back into the room, having no real alternative.
Dave: Right . . . You couldn’t exactly jump of the edge, could you?
Jake: I did think about it. For a half second. I could’ve done exactly that and taken my chances. Maybe I would’ve landed on something else. Or maybe I would’ve fallen forever. Or maybe that great light show in the sky would’ve got me and just made me not be anymore. I just didn’t know. So I went with the sure thing.
Dave: And then you went through that door with the infinity symbol on it.
Jake: You are correct, sir. Even though I’d told myself I wasn’t going to; that I wasn’t going to take the risk of going back to that place. Once again: it was my only option. And there was a chance it would be different this time. Perhaps. It was an uncertainty. An unknown. And the only way to confirm one way or the other was to go through the door. So I did. And arrived here.
Dave: In Roanoke?
Jake: Yes. But not just Roanoke. Exactly in this specific spot. Facing the wall.
Dave: Really? Do . . . Do you know why?
Jake: You know, for once in this crazy place called Ostium, I can say I do.
Dave: Which is?
Jake: Because I knew this is where I needed to be . . . To find you.
Dave: To find me?
Jake: Yes. We needed to meet up. On the other side of the doors of Ostium. Through the blackness. The only way it could work was if I anticipated what was happening to you and cut you off at the pass so to speak.
Dave: Cut me off at the what?
Jake [laughing:] It’s an expression. I had to predict where you’d be and be there before you, so we’d meet.
Dave [disbelief:] And you did? You knew I’d be here, so you made yourself . . . Materialize right here at a specific moment, so I’d find you.
Dave: I . . . I don’t know if I fucking believe you, mate.
Jake [warmth in his voice:] That’s okay, Dave. You don’t need to. What I went through. Going through the blackness. Coming out the other side. By my own hand . . . Or really by my own thought and mind in this case . . . It changed me. It made me understand more about Ostium than I’ve ever known. It made me . . . Comprehend.
Dave: You know . . . It sounds like something a cult leader might say [Jake laughing] but I think I’m with you there. It certainly makes me feel better. So . . . We’ve told our stories and drunk enough tea that I’m going to have to hunt down what the sixteenth century equivalent of a loo is here – and I have a feeling it’s a tree . . . What’s next for us?
[Jake taking a breath, imbuing the words with importance and power]
Jake: It’s time. Time to take on the blackness once and for all. Time to stop it and get us the fuck out of this place and back to the world we know. The Ostium we know.
Dave [hesitant:] Do . . . Do you know how to do that?
Jake [smiling:] Before. No. I had no clue. Now. I do. We have to go back to that beach house. Where shit took a turn for the very dark.
Dave: Okay . . . And how do we get there exactly?
Jake [beaming:] Oh don’t worry. I know exactly how to get us there.