HFTH - Episode 65 - Miles



Content warnings for this episode include: References to Child Abuse (Percy), Animal death (Dogsmell as usual), Reference to Suicide, Kidnapping and abduction, Death and Dying, Blood, References to Transphobia and Homophobia, Clowns, Emotional Manipulation, Body horror, Bugs (Bees)



Intro - Grow

You are alive, and have found life to be a terrible thing. You are a seething rot, a boiling torment, a writhing storm. You were once so small—the flesh of a fingertip, a collection of cells. But these waters feed you, and sustain you, and write a command across your skin: grow.


And you have grown, and it fills you with fear—have you risen too quickly, expanded your horizons before you were ready? What is it to be alive, and to be so great that you blanket the sea floor or soar in the currents of the world? Glory and secrets are your domain and your thoughts, and you are pulled ever farther apart by the darkness.


You have only to touch those you meet, and they become a part of you, a boundary erased between your past and present selves. Deep beneath you is your home, your sole companion—a heart whose beating fills the waters with music like whale song, illuminates green stars in the ocean above, and sings Hello From The Hallowoods.


Theme.


Right now, I’m sitting in the antlers of a mighty animal. It is a new brand of megafauna, and it stalks through the forest each night in clandestine wanderings.


Perhaps even the creature does not know what compels it to walk amongst these dark pines, with only the call of the unfeeling wind and the far-off sounds of lesser life in the undergrowth. On its back, six students gaze up at the stars, farther away than they could possibly imagine. The theme of tonight’s episode is Miles.



Story 1 - Lucky Stars

Friday Rescher did not consider herself lucky, although she knew improbably it was true. Life had it out for her—if I can’t break your bones, it said, I’ll break your heart instead. Joke’s on you, Friday thought. I’ve got nothing left to break.


Winona was talking about constellations, as though that was the point of them being there. Friday avoided the Victoria-Arnold-Harrow clique—a trio of biting dogs—and in doing so ended up close to Clara, who kept touching Friday’s elbow with hers. She could feel Clara’s eyes on her neck when everyone else’s were turned to the sky.


“That’s Jupiter,” Winona said, sitting on the roof of her hut. The rest of the class clung to the rail of the platform around it; the night-gaunt barely seemed to notice their weight as it walked, and the treetops passed on either side.


“You’ll want to follow it down, here to the left—the other left, Arnold, look where I’m pointing—and you can make out a little trapezoid with a fifth star at the bottom. That’s Corvus, the raven.”


We get enough of ravens at Downing Hill, Friday thought. Not that you’d know that.


“The raven is a messenger for the gods,” Winona said. “He flies from Olympus to deliver prophecies and poetry to humankind.”


“In the stories I’ve heard,” Friday said, “the raven is a liar. Apollo kills him and throws his body into the void.”


“Do you find that story comforting?” Winona said, looking down at her. Friday stared back without blinking. Winona continued.


“You are all little ravens too, from what I gather, and you’ve been given wings from Olympus.”


“Do you have a covenant, Miss Winona?” Arnold piped up from the other side of the platform.


“Is that what you call it?” Winona said. “A bit austere.”


“Just covenant blood, technically,” Victoria said. “Our ancestors would have made covenants.”


“They were passed down to us,” Harrow added.


Like most curses, Friday thought. She reached a hand inside her coat to pet Edgar; the spider’s bristles were soft against her fingers, and he enjoyed the darkness.


“I thought this trip would be about learning that kind of stuff,” Arnold said. “Not hiking and knots and stars.”


“With tests,” Harrow whispered. “I’m glad there haven’t been any tests.”


“Winona is the instructor,” Victoria said. “It’s part of the course. Right, Miss Winona?”


“What are we doing this next week?” Clara asked from beside Friday.


“Life is a test,” Winona said, passing a hand over the group as if to cleanse them of questions. “These special talents of yours. What are they?”


The other four were quiet for a change, and Friday smirked.


“Are we feeling shy?” Winona said.


“They didn’t tell you?” said Clara. “At the library?”


“I need to hear it from you,” Winona said. “It’s time to get these things on the table if we’re going to work through them. Arnold, you first.”


Arnold gulped, and looked around, and wiped his hands on his pants. “Why me?”


“Because I said so,” Winona said.


“It’s nothing,” Arnold said.


“I doubt that very much,” Winona said, leaning over the edge of her hut, legs crossed.


“Bad stuff happens when I touch the water,” Arnold said. “I get uglier. It’s dumb.”


“It’s not ‘dumb’ if it’s part of you,” Winona said. “Some things are difficult to accept, but we are good, warts and all. Harrow!”


Harrow jumped. Friday glanced at Clara, and Clara looked away quickly, starlight in her glasses.


“I have trouble going through doors,” Harrow whispered. “Sometimes they seem wrong.”


“Yes… doors give me trouble too. Not as much as stairs,” Winona said. “Victoria?”


“Can we discuss this later?” Victoria said, and cast a glare in Friday’s direction. “Privately?”


“Are you sure you don’t want to share?” Winona said. “Arnold and Harrow have opened up here.”


Victoria knows plenty about opening people up, Friday thought.


“I can see ghosts,” Clara said, breaking the silence. “Better than most people, anyway. In case you didn’t know, there’s a ghost dog that follows me around. He kind of smells.”


“I just thought that was you,” Victoria said.


“Let’s be kind,” Winona said. “We’re having a discussion. That must have presented its challenges for you, Clara?”


“Ghosts aren’t always something you want to see,” said Clara, and shivered.


“Very wise. And Friday, what feathers have the pantheon blessed you with?”


“You’ll be lucky if you never find out,” Friday said, watching Winona’s face for a reaction. The night wind was not quite as cold as her hands, and she felt for the hilt of the dagger in her dress pocket.


Winona hung her legs off the edge of the hut, and crossed her arms. The breeze pulled at her hijab and the folds of her robe.


“I understand this… ability, of yours, may have hurt you or others,” Winona said. “We do clumsy things when we don’t know what we’re capable of. But no one is trying to hurt you here.”


“You don’t know me, Winona,” Friday said. Clara nudged her arm as if to intervene, but Friday did not back down. “If you did, you would run screaming from here.”


“And a long fall it would be,” Winona smiled, glancing to the forest floor. “But I am not easily frightened.”


“What is that?” Arnold said, and pointed to something off in the distance. Friday moved away from the rest, crossing around to the empty edge of the platform.


“It looks like an observatory,” Winona said, her voice carrying on the breeze with the jingle of the chimes in the night-gaunt’s antlers. “Now that would be useful for spotting this next constellation. Let’s start this time with Mars…”


Clara sidled up to Friday a few moments later, and sat down beside her, letting her legs hang off the edge of the platform next to Friday’s, feet floating over the forest floor fifty feet below.


“Are you okay?” Clara said. “I know you don’t trust Winona, but I don’t know if she’s done anything bad yet. Or if she will.”


“I don’t like this,” Friday said. “Being so close to everyone.”


“You mean because the hut is little, or because of the covenant stuff?”


Clara did not shift away from Friday, and Friday did not respond.


“I don’t love it either,” Clara said. “But I’m glad you’re here.”


A canary fell dead in the coal mine of Friday’s heart. She looked over to find Clara looking at her, a face as pretty as the night sky. Was Clara shifting to avoid the breeze, or leaning in?


“I have something to tell you,” Friday said. Clara paused, and looked up at her.


“Is it about your covenant powers or something?”


“I’m aromantic,” Friday said, and pressed her hands to her lap, and looked down at the trees falling behind them. “Do you know what that means?”


“What does it mean for you?” Clara said, a tremor in her voice. It could have been a shiver, or surprise, or a barely veiled disappointment that would cost Friday everything. She wished she could tell the difference.


“People write books about love,” Friday said. “Or talk about their crushes in class. But it’s not a feeling I… have.


I can love, of course. I love my friends.


And Edgar.


And my family, once.


But romantic love doesn’t… I don’t have it. And I’ve come to accept that, and it doesn’t make me any less, or mean that I don’t care about anyone. But if that’s what you want from me, I cannot be that for you.”


“You don’t have to be anything,” Clara said. “For anyone. I… I don’t want anything from you. I just like being around you.”


“I’ve not found that to be true for many people,” Friday said.


“It’s true for me,” Clara said. “Thank you for letting me be your friend.”


“You don’t want to be my friend either,” Friday said, and hated her words, and held the handle of her knife tightly. “You should run a thousand miles away, Clara. I’m not joking. I carry a knife with me and it eats my power, stops it from hurting people. That was my gift from Downing Hill. One day it will break, like a hematite ring, and everyone around me is going to get hurt.”


“Friday?” Clara said, and set her hand on Friday’s clenched fists.


“I know,” said Clara. “And I’m staying. I don’t care about being… unlucky. We’ll handle it if that happens. That’s what friends are for.”


Friday held Clara’s hand in hers, and watched the stars drift a million miles above them, and almost smiled as Winona’s lectures carried into the night wind.



Interlude 1 - Wandering Spirits

To take up all your things and fly, cross the horizon in search of new sights, journey for the sake of the wind in your hair is an animal impulse, but not so easy in America as it used to be.


Fields are overgrown with rampant vine and strange crops; trees overthrow old buildings with their roots and branches, and pavement cracks as life bursts up from the soil. A web of highways that once held states and cities disintegrates with each passing season, rendered slowly back into soil.


Even so, some great journeyers still rove the country like migratory birds, called always to wander a little further.


The ghostly lights of the Big Top soar in the night accompanied by a phantasmal waltz, and set up tents in decrepit streets or wilderness each night. The Count and his band of hunters sail the highway like whalers in search of a chase. And the ever-restless jackalopes bound across Wyoming, avoiding greater predators with hundred-foot jumps. And, it is said, there is an automobile that roams America’s highways, driving like the devil himself at night.


We go now to a wandering spirit.



Story 2 - Going Home

Percy had once lamented that he was never going to leave Huntsville, Alabama, and in a way he supposed he hadn’t. Even so, as a soul and a single chip of bone, it was strange to return to a hometown that felt so little like home.


It had changed in his absence, and the highway signs were concealed in thickets of dark trees as they approached, a far cry from the flat horizons of his memory.


“This sounds like a place where they’d hunt you for sport,” Riot said. She had resumed driving responsibilities, and the miles seemed to weigh on her humor.


“I grew up here as a queer kid,” Percy said, and tried to make himself as visible as he could. “That was pretty much how it went.”


“Oh jeez. Does that mean your parents and everything were… here?” Riot said, looking up to the road ahead of them. “If you’d rather not stay in the town where you got murdered I’ll ask Ray to keep driving.”


The fact that she remembered his life story, would go to the effort sent a brightness through him.


“It’s okay,” Percy sighed. “It was a long time ago.”


“I am interested to see this place,” Diggory said. They had been huddled in their spiked leather jacket most of the day—whatever they had seen in the early hours of the morning had spooked them. “If to picture the city better when you speak of it.”


“Are we there yet?” Olivier said from the back table of the RV. He had his finger pressed to the glass, and in the distance, a small wisp of cloud kept pace with the vehicle.


“You’ll know we’re there when the ride stops,” Riot called back. “Nice and simple.”


“I was not exactly murdered in mine, but I know what it is like to have an unpleasant hometown,” Moth said. Percy envied Moth’s spooky survivor aesthetic immensely—as a living person, he would have delighted in little red glasses or an embroidered coat or tattoos. He was relieved to be out of the dress, at least, but his father’s clothes carried a stiff legacy.


“Thanks,” Percy said. It was possibly the first conversation Moth had started with him. “Yours is… Vegas, right?”


Moth nodded, and rubbed at Moth’s wrist. “There were certainly fewer trees there.”


“There weren’t so many here either,” Percy said. “I remember Huntsville as a parking lot the size of the horizon.”


Something shifted in the hum of the RV—the agreeable chuckle of the engine changed into a grinding whine. An orange light flickered on in the dashboard.


“Is something wrong?” Diggory said. Percy hovered between the seats up front, and looked to Riot.


“Crap, I was hoping that light would stay off,” Riot muttered. “Hey folks? I’m gonna stop a little early.”


She flashed her headlights at Ray, and then brought the RV to a stop. Percy pushed up through the ceiling to watch a row of old box buildings grow close, overgrown with a grove of black trees. They were not the impassable pines of the Hallowoods, though, and from above he could see a silent forest and the ruins of outlet stores spread out in all directions.


Ray came wheeling back a few moments later, bouncing over the curb, a red convertible in the sunset.


“We’re only a mile or two down the track from where I wanna park,” Ray said. “There’s a gas-dealer hereabouts who can sell you some more good old liquid gold.”


“The engine’s making a noise like an angry baby,” Riot said, climbing out of the driver’s side. “So I need a little bit to fix that. Maybe we can keep going in the morning? By the way, do you know much about getting those little lights to turn off?”


“Like your dashboard warning lights?” Ray said. “No, I take care of myself pretty well. I don’t know how compatible the knowledge is between my classic chassis and your barge on wheels, but I can try and give you some spotters. How’s my kid?”


“I’m doing alright, Ray,” Moth said, escaping the back door of the RV. “Don’t fret your fender about me. You should stay for a little while—our new acquaintances have some very strange stories.”


“Doesn’t seem that strange to me,” Riot said, popping open the trunk of the RV and wincing at the smoke.


“Let me see if I have this right,” Moth said. Percy drifted above them, watching the breeze in the branches beyond. “You killed a musician. Your close friend is a witch who flies on a broomstick. You used to know a dog who was a ghost. You got your sword from a gardener. And you’re going to fight a Dreaming Box because you sometimes dream about your mother.”


“The dreams are from Danielle, who’s this girl who knows my mom,” Riot said, waving a rag at the engine and unlatching a small kit of tools. “The rest is pretty much right.”


“Well, you seemed like the well-traveled type,” Ray said. “You’d be surprised how much a guy who rolled out of the ocean as an automobile will accept.”


“Do you remember what caused that exactly?” Olivier said, glancing around the grove as Riot reached into the engine.


“Well, here’s a tip,” Ray said. “If you set your car up to trap ghosts, don’t die in it.”


“Trap ghosts?” Percy said, sinking down. Ray was the strangest sight—just a red car parked in the lot, with only a little flickering light to indicate life. “What did you do when you were… alive?”


“Well, I may just be a fine vintage vehicle now,” Ray said, “but I was once one of the U-S-of-A’s top ghost hunters and paranormal explorers. Lots of high-rolling connections. I’m the one who got the spirit of Lincoln out of Ford’s Theatre, you know.”


“I didn’t realize ghosts have been public knowledge that long,” Percy said, looking down at his hands.


“Well, they’re usually not tied down like you and I,” Ray said. “They drift. They stretch. And eventually they burn out like booster rockets. That gets ugly.”


“Moth and Ollie, you’re on dinner duty,” Riot said, half-buried in the RV’s engine.


“I don’t know how to cook that well,” Olivier said.


“I’ll help,” Moth said. “You have to get creative with canned food.”


“Hey Diggory?” Percy said, floating over to the revenant, almost as dark as the trees. “Can you take me somewhere?”


“Anywhere you would like,” Diggory said. “Everyone, I will return shortly.”


“Don’t get lost,” Riot called.


“I am never lost,” Diggory said, and began to walk. Percy trailed after them, and looked up. In a sky that had once been a brown haze of light, he could see the first stars beginning to shine in the darkness.



Marketing - Proud of Yourself

So you’ve decided that after all these years, it’s finally time to join your local Dreaming Box community. First, you should be proud of yourself. You are doing the best possible thing for yourself and your loved ones. Good job.


Now, your question is: how will you get there? You have several options! If your local Dreaming Box is within travel distance, simply approach it. Please keep your hands in the air for the last half-mile so that we can recognize you as a new member of our Happy Dreaming Family rather than a security risk.


If you are farther away, don’t give up hope. There are Botulus Corporation Contact Terminals placed in metropolitan areas across the country, which allow you to request a pickup and transport.


Or, if you’ve caught the attention of our drones, simply respond to the instructions on the screen. If you or someone you know has been selected for advertising by a Cluster, then you don’t need to worry at all. As the advertising program reaches completion…



Story 2, Continued - Going Home

You have so few steps, dreamer. For a moment you stand upon a single pale dot of a world, hovering in the face of infinity. Direct your feet or wheels or wings in whichever direction amuses you, for when you cross into the silver world of dream that the Botulus Corporation sells, you will journey no more.



We return now to Percy Reed.



Percy hovered in the darkness, and cast light across an expanse of broken concrete and decrepit homes. Their crumbling drives and rusted mailboxes, decorative panels and doors had been his first prison.


“What is this place?” Diggory said.


“That’s where I used to live,” Percy whispered, and raised a hand towards the narrow house in front of them, tucked neatly between two identical homes.


“I grew up here, Diggory—even though I wasn’t even allowed to play with the neighbors’ kids. That window by the garage? That was my dad’s study. He’d be in there for days at a time, or away with the church people. And there…” Percy gestured to the other side of the house. “See that window? That was my room. I could watch the sun go past that window every day, but I couldn’t move or even scream. Nobody knew. If I’d known one of the neighbors, maybe things would have been different.”


Diggory stood in the street, and turned their wide eyes to Percy.


“I am so sorry for all that happened to you here.”


“Days,” Percy said, and felt a surge of heat in his head and his hands. “Days I was there after that gunshot in the kitchen. Hoping that dad would come home and save me, despite everything. Hoping that anyone would miss me enough to come find me. That any of that black rain on the window would find its way to me after the IV bag ran dry.”


“But these things did not happen,” Diggory said quietly.


The house was a stooped, loathsome thing, and Percy hated its dark windows, one broken. A faded psalm hung on the door.


“It could have been different,” Percy said, and flame filled his chest, rolled throughout his body, white and holy and binding. “It could have all been different! No one deserves to die like that. Nobody deserves to live like that either.”


Percy rose into the air, sparks running down his cheeks, and his hands were burning flames, and he wasn’t talking to Diggory at all as he struck, and a bolt like lightning flashed in the night and cast embers across the siding. Windows shattered, and the door splintered apart, and he sailed up to meet the soulless frame.


“I’m glad you’re dead,” he screamed. “You hurt people. You hurt me again and again and again. For no reason at all.”


He watched for a moment as the embers grew brighter, white-hot coals with a life of their own. A well of emotion came to him, and poured from his body as righteous fire. He flew in through the cracked doorway, and stood in a rotting hall with portraits of the good Reed family, the happy Reed family, the always perfect and godly Reed family covered in dust. The light that washed from him baptized the wall in flame; set wallpaper peeling and caught the stair rails on fire.


“But I still miss you,” he said, looking across the frames on the walls. His father with a shorter beard, studious and severe; his mother who could never smile for photographs, and a brown-haired church girl who he had known a lifetime ago.


“And it’s fucked up that I miss you. But you never saw me. Not really. You had a son the whole time. I was right here. Now you’ll never know who I am. You’ll never see me get married or have friends or be happy.”


The pictures charred, points of orange light crawling across them. The fire began to consume the house of its own accord, leaping across the rafters and racing to the bloodstained kitchen, burning the crosses on the walls.


“You can have this place,” he said. “You live in the past now, and somehow, even though I’m not even alive, I’m going to keep going. And I’m going to have good things. I’m going to be okay, and you should know that. I’m going to be happy again. Like I should have been. Like we should have been.”


Percy drifted upstairs, against his better judgement, following the flames. Through an open doorway he could see a bed with moldering sheets, restraints dangling from the rails, hygiene kits and supplies scattered across the floor. He raised a hand, and with a furious blow, sent lightning pouring down the hall to light up the room in which he had died.


Finally, he descended to his father’s study, and stepped through the door, lighting it on fire as he passed.


Desks of papers, printed documents of church pamphlets and measurements for instruments turned immediately into kindling. The bookshelves were empty, and the flame caught them quickly enough.


Scattered across the floor on a tarp were the remains of his father’s greatest finished project—scrap wood, and piano wire, and the intricate inner workings of the keys. On a desk on the far side, what remained of Percy’s body was little more than a blackened, boneless shell.


“You’re dead too,” Percy whispered, and let the flame consume the room, the last traces of his flesh burning into ash. “You got out. You found people who look for you. You got to speak again. Things get better. They get so much better.”


As the fire enveloped the room completely, turning its shadows into blinding light, Percy breathed, and felt the flame ripple throughout the house. He found Diggory standing in the street outside, staring at the rising flames.


“Just had some things to wrap up,” Percy said.


“It’s alright,” Diggory said, and smiled ever so slightly. “I’ve come to appreciate setting buildings on fire with you.”


The fire in his skin was fleeting, but in the moment Percy felt as real as he had when he ran along these streets decades ago. He drifted up to Diggory, and put an arm around their waist, and a hand in their hair, and kissed them until he faded again into pure light.



Interlude 2 - Many Scars

I would like to think that the passage of time, and the distances we cross, render our troubles into trifles, and dull the edge of even the most painful memories.


Is that how it is for you, dreamer? Does the setting sun take with it your wounds, and does the dawn find you healed?


It may simply be how long we live, my kind. Certainly nothing compared to the trillion-year lives of the outsiders, but we are indescribable to you because to look on us is madness and to contemplate our age is to you impossible.


Be glad, dreamer, that this is so. For when we grieve, it is for the lifetimes of your planets, and eternity does not mend our scars. At least, it has not yet mended mine. I hope you can forget, dreamer, and move forward into new days unburdened by the tragedies of your past.


We go now to one who has many scars.



Story 3 - Queen Bee

Bern did not curse, or even yelp, for fear that it would startle the bees. She sucked on the cut on her thumb, and took another swing with the hammer, tapping the last nail in place. Mending a bee box wasn’t the most pressing project, she knew, but she hoped one of the queens would remember it as home—and perhaps in time, return to create a new hive. Somehow, with the bees taken care of, she could manage the rest of the Scoutpost better.


She tucked the hammer into her belt, and checked her work—the other boxes were still in shambles, but that could be addressed later. She sighed, and made back for the Scoutpost. She thought, for a moment, that she saw movement in the trees—a large animal, but no Froglins croaked or Griffocaughs bleated, and she hurried on with her crossbow at her side.


The Scoutpost loomed in the forest ahead of her—home sweet home, if still beset by troubles on all sides. Sharpened pine trunks and sheet metal and a dozen other building materials bound together for a chance at a life of their choosing; a chance which was rapidly disappearing.


She rounded the wall to visit the Lurch Lake gate, where a number of scouts were trying to piece together another barricade—but it had only taken a few of the big toads to break their last one.


“Bern,” a voice called from the construction, and Bern found the grim new resident Hector looking up from the wreck. “Can I talk with you?”


“I’ve got a minute,” Bern said, ambling over. Hector squeezed through a gap in the pile of sharpened spikes and metal bands; Bern could see his big dogs watching from the other side of the gate, the very picture of the world off kilter.


Hector was not a large man, nor particularly confrontational, but there was something about him Bern did not quite trust. It was hard to survive working with lone rangers; they tended to disappear when you really needed them. He had saved her life at the Instrumentalist’s house, though, and he’d stayed to help at the Scoutpost if only at Jonah’s behest.


“It’s not going to work,” he said, wiping at his brow.


“What’s not going to work?” Bern said.


“Waiting. For the Froglins to make the next attack. For Fort Freedom to deliver on their promises about protection.”


“If you’ve been talking with Virgil, well, running out into the woods with spears is only going to upset them,” Bern said, crossing her arms. “They probably outnumber us. We have to be ready for the next attack.”


“They’re smart animals,” Hector said. “They won’t come all at once. They’ll pick us off one by one. We cannot let them keep the initiative here or they will wear you down until there’s nothing left. Sometimes you need to strike first and hard.”


“I’m not a stranger to violence,” Bern said. “I’ve killed dead things. Things I didn’t know what they were. We did what we had to when we moved up here, same as everyone else. And you know how we handled the Instrumentalist. But the point of the Scoutpost was that we wouldn’t hurt people anymore. These are not animals, Hector. They can talk, in some way. I don’t know how or why but they live here. I’m not going to wipe them out. That’s not us.”


“I’m not saying we should kill them,” Hector said. “Frankly, I think that would take a lot of time and manpower we don’t have. But I’ve been reading this Walt guy’s notes, anything we’ve got on them. And I think they’ve got two things that they really care about.


One’s this big fish of some kind—that’s the one that got Jonah. Don’t know how you’d deal with something that size, but Jonah’s a hell of a fisherman. But they’ve also got a queen, of sorts.”


“Like a queen bee,” Bern nodded.


“Seems like it,” Hector said. “Lays the eggs. Keeps the population in check.”


“Do you think if we could move her,” Bern said, “the rest would follow?”


“I think it’s worth a shot,” Hector sighed. “Hunting creatures like this—I’ve done my fair share. If I’m going to stay here, I want to do more than patch up the carpentry. Let me work on the queen. Jonah can take the fish. If we could deal with those, I think it would stop the froglin issue for good. And who knows. Maybe they can find a happy new life somewhere they won’t bother the Scoutpost.”


A bee drifted past Bern, dazzled for a moment by the yellow of her hat before flying away.


“Alright,” she said, and nodded. She looked up to the Scoutpost, and squinted. “Only thing is, I don’t know if Violet will approve—she’s really hoping our new friends will save us here.”


“Does she have to know?” Hector said, glancing up at her.


Bern thought for a moment, and shook her head. “I’ll try and break it to her. You and Jonah get started. I’ll make sure you have the people you need.”


Outro - Miles

Miles. A little walk for you; a perfectly visible piece of your planet. So small, though, that as soon as you leave your world, the millions become uncountable. If you were never to die, dreamers, and could set your feet upon the void, you could walk upward from your world and into the heavens forever. Many aeons would pass without bringing you to a single star; without having changed your position in the darkness at all. The edge of the universe expands so much faster than you can run, all things growing apart inside it, and to walk for all days would bring you no closer to the end.


In a sense, that is your life already, for you do walk between the stars today—you simply have the comfort of an earth beneath your feet. What will you do with your steps? Will you return to old haunts, or find new ones? Will you learn from your journey, or follow in the footsteps before you? I will be watching curiously each passing mile of your journey, always a little behind and to the left, hoping for a good ending.

Until the last step has been taken, I am your loyal host Nikignik, waiting ever-longer for your return to the Hallowoods.




The bonus story that goes with this episode is called 'Connection', 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!