HFTH - Episode 37 - The Morning Hour


Content Warning: This episode may include themes of Emotional Manipulation.


Intro - Good Morning!

Lady Ethel:

Good morning to my happy Dreaming Family. Look at that bright sun, shining on every Dreaming Box from Boston to San Francisco. Inside, you would barely notice, because the Prime Dream is a sun of its own, shining with brilliant light every second of every day. You’ve never known peace like this before: the relaxing, pure, thoughtless embrace of sleep, and the unbridled joy of shared dream.


This is the real America, and the spirit of our great nation lives on in you and all that you dream. For anyone listening in from outside—come join us. Don’t spend another night in the darkness, because who knows how many you really have left? We are gracious. We are loving. We forgive you. It’s with a heart full of joy that I wish you good morning from the Botulus Corporation.


Theme.


This morning I’m with the lovely dreamers of Box Polaris in Ontario, Canada. Brr! Isn’t it cold up here! I can’t wait to get back to box Cassiopeia in California. I’m practically across the street from our noble founder in Box Orion. It’ll be so nice to be home again. Welcome back to the Botco Morning Hour with Lady Ethel Mallory.




Story 1 - Another Day Begins

Lady Ethel:

Today we welcome a new member into our happy dreaming family. Just look at this grim specimen. This is the face of Bill Scarberry, who recently made the decision to join Dreaming Box Venus in Las Vegas, after twenty years spent living in the rubble, exposed to the harsh environment. Bill was in bad shape when he arrived, but now he’s thriving and happy to be part of the Prime Dream. Bill’s immediate family is still out there, probably regretting their decision. I hope they can overcome their stubbornness to join Bill in a comfortable new life. This is one of the challenges you may face when transitioning from one chapter of life to another. But it is always best to move forward. Good job Bill.


Dreamers in box Betelgeuse in Houston are rejoicing after the successful docking of a new rocket at the Atlas Biggs station. The astronauts aboard have been able to safely rejoin their families in the Prime Dream from orbit. They certainly stay busy in Box Betelgeuse, where they’re always working on the next developments for the Botco Space Line, and preparing for our collective future. Advances in cryonic sleep may one day allow astronauts to dream even as they are sent across space for many hundreds of years, enabling travel to distant planets. What an exciting time to be alive.


Another hit single came from the musical genius of Box Pleiades this week. 'Thrum' contains elements of 20’s rock, repurposed and revitalized through the lens of the Dreaming Consciousness. It’s at once an anthem of our youngest generation, who has never known the terrors of the outside world, and a way of looking back on all our history together. The tune originated in mind of influencer and musician Avery Crane. Don’t be surprised if this tune ends up in your head this week—it’s hard to miss.


After weeks of extensive repair, Box Aries is finally back online, largely due to the help of special technologist Anderson Faust. It may be a while still before the dreamers of Box Aries are able to return to the Prime Dream. Sudden removal or failure of a dreaming visor can have damaging effects on the psyche, and require extensive physical and psychiatric therapy. To put these dreamers back in connection with the Prime Dream could hurt them or destabilize our connection together. Get better soon, Box Aries.


In Box Orion in the good old 'city of angels', Oswald Biggs Botulus and his team are working around the clock to increase the security, safety, and peace of mind for our dreamers. But… well. You can be sure that they’re doing their best, dreamers, but when the world is on fire, when destruction pours into our daily lives, who can we look to? Who is really responsible? It’s a question on all of our minds.


From the east to the west, from sea to shining sea, another day begins for Botco, for the Prime Dream, and for all of us. Enjoy your memories, your adventures, and your fantasies; your lovers, friends, and family. The dreams go on, as they always will.



Interlude 1 - Azuria

Lady Ethel:

If you enjoy exploring dreamscapes rich with detail, or have a taste for the classic fantasy genre, the world of Azuria is waiting for you. This brand-new continent is finally open to the Prime Dream. Whether you want to go on epic quests and fell monstrous beasts, or just enjoy the scenery, there’s something for everyone in Azuria.


Oh look, there goes a dragon. Or a big lizard or something.


Avoid the dark mountain ranges unless you’ve taken time to prepare yourself. You know all too well how scary a bad dream can be. You can now navigate to Azuria in your Prime Dream Directory, or select it as a location at any Botulus Corporation Contact Terminal.




Story 2 - Real Talk

Lady Ethel:

Dreamers, let’s have a real talk here for a moment. Just you and me. There have been some awful rumors about me, spread by malicious sources for years now. They say that I have some kind of grudge against Valerie Maidstone—that I am keeping her from you intentionally or mean her some kind of ill…


I’m sorry. I get emotional about these things.


The truth is, I don’t have many friends older than Valerie.


When we first met I had just started working with Botco, and her first hit single was rising on the charts. We believed different things, yes—some of our arguments became public. But we were always two sides of the same coin. There will always be people who greet the future with fear, who want to hold on to how things used to be. These people have voices like Valerie, just as I became a voice for the nation.


But I was happy that Valerie and I came to bridge that gap. We understood each other. And every step of the way, we were always there for each other, up until she disappeared.


I’ve been worried sick about her for almost twenty years, and I am so, so happy that she is safe. But I was shocked when she arrived.


All that time spent out there, exposed to the terrible elements, hurt her deeply. She could not even finish our interview that first day, she was so weak. But I have visited her during her recovery. It’s good to see her finally adjusting to life with us in paradise, that she can open her eyes and sing again.


And that’s why it makes me so happy to announce that Valerie’s daughter, Riot Maidstone, has been found by Botulus Corporation Reunion Organizers.


She’s suffering from similar effects—the air and water outside exact a terrible toll on your health these days. When she has recovered, she will be reunited with her mother in a special live event. I think it’s a moment that would warm all our hearts to see—finally, Valerie and her lovely daughter, embracing tomorrow after so long spent fighting for yesterday.


I hope it’s a moment that gives pause to even the worst of the Stonemaids. You look up to this woman as much as I do, but if she can accept the changing times, then you can too...


Interruption - Incensed

Nikignik: I am incensed. How are you drowning me out, Lady Ethel? I demand you cease whatever method you are using, or I will annihilate you. Do you understand the enormity of what you have done? Who you are choosing to compete with? You are about to find out. I know everything about you. I know who you are and where you come from. I don’t think that...



Story 2, Continued - Real Talk

Lady Ethel:

I’m sorry, dreamers, I’m told we had a moment of interruption for those outside our walls. The ones inside, of course, are free from such interference.


Now. As I was saying, the world is changing. These Stonemaids agreed to the same terms and conditions as everyone else. They want to open the sealed environments of the Dreaming Box, to expose everyone to the dangerous contaminants of the world outside, to go and fend for themselves, out there, all alone. They simply don’t understand what I know you all are thinking: this is the future.


We are living and dreaming together. A life spent enjoying the very best of human experience is a life well lived. I too understand the romanticization of the outside world, the idea that the old ways are somehow better. But these are sentiments. These are not ideas based in reality. The world outside is not lovely like you. It does not provide for you like the Botulus Corporation does. And to go out and live in it is to die a slow death.


Just look at Bill Scarberry, just look at Valerie Maidstone. They have paid a price for their refusal to accept what was in front of them this whole time. All human progress throughout history has been leading up to this moment, when you could live a life of endless possibility, a life without fear. We want to make you happy, my dreaming family, but more than anything we need to keep you safe.


Stonemaids, I implore you. Even your icon is becoming a happy part of the Prime Dream. How much longer will you use her as an excuse for your cruelty and your fear?


Haven’t I been here for you? Hasn’t Oswald been like a father to this new reality of ours? Listen when I tell you that this is the life we live now, and it is good. Truly breathtaking. Look at the imagination and the color and the power of the Prime Dream—a whole country united into the greatest collective of thought this world has ever seen.


You should be proud to be part of it. And we are proud to have you in it. I hope we can put aside our misunderstandings. Lay our fears to rest. For we are all afraid of the future, aren’t we? But we must face it bravely. We must face it together. This happy dreaming family is all we have.


Stonemaids, lay down your weapons. Your violent thoughts. Stop destroying this utopia we have built. We were there for you when the black rains fell. We were there when things with too many eyes or teeth came crawling into your homes. And we are here now to carry you into the future.



Interlude 2 - All About Agency

Lady Ethel:

It’s easy to look at the acts of devastation that Stonemaids have caused for our little community, and think ‘these people are monsters among us. How could they be so deeply detached from what is right?’ And you’re right to think that. But where does this anger come from? Where does this frustration? It’s all about agency.


If you were born in a Dreaming Box, you already know these things to be true—but the ringleaders of the Stonemaids are older. They remember the world outside, as it was—not how it is today. They may have chosen a Dreaming Box not because they loved the world we would create in here, but because they felt they had no choice, just as they feel they have no choice now. And people like to feel that they have a choice, just as much as they like being told which choice is right.


It’s ironic, these twists of our psychology. But feelings do not change the truth. And if they were able to separate those confusing emotions from their actions they would realize what they have done. For now, it’s up to us to help them see things the way they really are. As always, if you suspect someone to be a Stonemaid, please report them at a Botulus Corporation Contact Terminal so they can get the help they require.


Story 3 - Not Much of an Economy

Lady Ethel:

Our shining Dreaming Boxes are a beacon of hope throughout the remains of America, and we are happy to accept new arrivals almost two decades after our debut. However, there’s not much of an economy left outside, and we have to make a few changes to keep up with the times. Tomorrow will be the last day we accept USD or any other currency when determining base value for new arrivals. In-dream benefits will still be allocated for precious metals, real-world resources, and personal expertise.


As always, our doors are still open, and will remain so long into the future. But if you’re sitting on a nest egg, it’s time to make for your local Dreaming Box. Many dreamers who cannot bring sufficient value can make up for lost time by assisting Botco with our out-of-dream operations. Someone has to work behind-the-scenes to keep you living in paradise.


Our operations branch, Botulus Industries is always open to new help. We salute the brave employees that work every day in every Dreaming Box to make the Prime Dream our reality. Thank you Botulus Industries for your tireless work.


I know we’ll go far together, dreaming family. Botco is strong. Even the Stonemaids are dwindling, and soon we will all be at peace again. The red sun still rises above us. Life goes on, and how beautifully it gleams.


We are a sleeping country now, a continent of thought and feeling. In a way, we have ascended. We are all part of a bright and beautiful future, and you have made the right choice, and you should be proud of that.


Outro - The Morning Hour

Lady Ethel:

It’s time to return to other programming, and for me to get back to work. Sleep well, dreamer. Enjoy your dreams—the architecture of beauty we have all worked hard to build. To anyone outside, we’ll be waiting for you, just as always. A Dreaming Box is never that far away, and we’re making the future a reality in here. As always, I am Lady Ethel Mallory, bidding you sweet dreams from the Botulus Corporation.



The bonus story that goes with this episode is called 'Louder', and is available on the Hello From The Hallowoods Patreon. Consider joining for access to all the show's bonus stories, behind-the-scenes and more!