Episode 10 "Blink" - Credits
Written by Sarah Shachat.
Directed by Gabriel Urbina.
Script Editing by David K. Barnes.
Performance by Julia Morizawa.
Original Music by Alan Rodi.
Sound Design by Zach Valenti.
Produced by Sarah Shachat, Zach Valenti, and Gabriel Urbina,
along with Angel Acevedo, Jenn Schneider, and Amy Tanguay.
Episode 10 - "Blink" - Transcript
Announcer: The following episode contains discussions of fantasy violence and abusive relationships. Listener discretion is advised.
[We begin with SILENCE. Then, somewhere, in the distance, there is a FAINT RUMBLING.
As if something very big was rushing towards us.]
THE SPEAKER: You know about magic... right? Or at least you think you do. They say that magic comes down to two things: where you’re looking and what you’re seeing. You’ve heard people say that, right? “It’s just a trick of the light.” “It’s all done with mirrors.” Well, the people who say that are right. Just not for the reasons they think they are.
[A crackle of thunder]
THE SPEAKER: There’s three kinds of magic in the world. The first is the kind that fools your eyes. You follow the right hand one way, while the left one sneaks off in the other direction. The box has a hidden compartment, the hat’s bigger than it looks. You blink, and - just for a moment - the world looks different than the way it actually is. You can find this kind of magic at, say... a child’s birthday party. Or in the performance of a mediocre street magician. It isn’t really magic, of course, just the shadow of the shadow of magic.
[We hear more fainting rumbling, and lightning crackle]
THE SPEAKER: The second kind of magic is the sort that doesn’t fool your seeing eyes, but rather your mind’s eye. It doesn’t care what you look at, just what you see. It’s the magic of an idea, of perspective. Of someone saying, “You’re not looking at it the right way, let me explain.” It’s the magic of lawyers, and liars, and very good teachers. Except... this isn’t magic either. It’s just a different kind of trick, for a different set of eyes. Ah, but you knew that already, didn’t you? You know there’s no such thing as magic.
[Another rumble of thunder]
THE SPEAKER: ... unless, of course, you really know where to look. Because there are things out there that can go a lot deeper than your eyes and your mind. That can go all the way down to the deepest part of yourself, to the part that’s past conscious thought. To the part of you that just knows, deep down, what it’s looking at. And those things can lie to you. And if they do it in the right way, that deepest, truest part of yourself is going to believe the lie. And the magic of belief is a very dangerous thing.
[Another crack of thunder, more rumbling under the following: ]
THE SPEAKER: But here’s the trick: where do those things come from? And how do they end up in your head? You know about magic, or you think you do. But... do you ever get this feeling like there’s more to life than what you know? Like there has to more, out there, somewhere, waiting for you to find it. There has to be more... right? Where did that come from? How did that get into your head? What happens... when your thoughts are not your own? So you see, there is more. There’s more magic running underneath the Unseen World than anyone realizes. You just need to watch closely. You have to try not to blink. Because if you search long enough... you'll find it. The kind of magic that can change everything. And everyone.
[One last crack of thunder transitions into the Unseen opening credits music.]
Announcer: Long Story Short Productions presents... Unseen.
[Unseen Theme continues playing.]
Announcer: Episode Ten. Blink by Sarah Shachat.
[We won’t be able see this on our humble podcast, but we are in an opulent library. Sitting on one side of the table is a woman. The woman, in fact, whose voice we’ve been hearing. We'll never learn her name, so let's keep calling her THE SPEAKER.]
THE SPEAKER: So... you’re here because you want to learn about magic, aren’t you?
[She's addressing a student sat across from here. Music begins under the following:]
THE SPEAKER: No, don’t bother answering. It’s obvious. Look at how you’re dressed, where you are. First year at the Alethia Academy, and just raring to start rearranging the cosmos. Greerson’s going a little slow for you, maybe? Well, that’s what I’m here for. I’m perfectly happy to offer you something. A reward, let’s call it, for being as clever and curious as you are. Here. This is all you need to understand magic. Consider this coin.
[We hear the jingle of the coin being flipped onto the table]
THE SPEAKER: It’s made out of silver. It’s round. It has the face of some dead great man no one cares about anymore on one side of it. Do you see it? Have you got it? Good. I’m going to let go of it in a moment. When I do, you’re going to believe that it will stay in midair. It’s not going to fall, it’s not going to rise, it’s not going to do anything. It will just... be. How hard can you believe that? With how much of yourself? Can you believe with more than your mind? Can you make your heart believe it? Your spleen? Your joints, and your bones, and your eyelashes, all the way down to your toes? Can you believe so hard that your body itself won’t be able to contain it? That the belief will spill out of you, into the air? Like a bubble, growing out of you. Can you make the bubble big enough that it will reach the coin in my hands? It’s not for everyone, you know. It costs you something, to believe that hard. Are you willing to pay the toll? Let’s find out. Three... two... one...
[The music fades. The coin is flipped, and hovers in the air with the hum of magical ability. The student's kept it floating. The hum continues under the following:]
THE SPEAKER: Hmm. Very good. Well done. That’s the path of Persuasion. You see something. You know it. You... understand it. And if you can understand it, you can command it. If you understand something, you can make it do anything. At least until you blink. Until something breaks your concentration.
[The speaker claps and the coin falls. The humming stops.]
THE SPEAKER: The bubble bursts. It’s a wriggly thing, belief. Very hard to hold onto it. It’s why so many of the best magicians train themselves to believe with their subconscious mind. It makes the impossible a little less... fleeting. There. Two insights into the nature of magic for the price of one. Run along now.
THE SPEAKER: Go on. Goodbye.
THE SPEAKER: Really? Really? You’re a little smarter, a little wiser. Isn’t that enough?
[The Speaker scoffs.]
THE SPEAKER: All right. That’s fine. Just... It’s not too late. You could just... leave. No one ever needs to know that our paths ever crossed.
THE SPEAKER (whispered): It would be our little secret.
[Another pause, the Speaker sighs]
THE SPEAKER: No? No, I suppose not. You really want to do this. All right, then... let’s do this. What do you want? Knowledge, of course. But what kind...?
[Music begins under the following:]
THE SPEAKER: If you wanted history, you’d be at the library. If you wanted a spell, you’d be talking to one of your professors. But no. You’re standing in the tallest tower of the East Wing. The one that’s expressly off-limits. The forbidden one. And... the one with all the stories. All the fascinating rumors.
THE SPEAKER (mocking voice): Oooh, oooh, don’t ever go up there. It’s haunted by the ghost of a very mean old lady, and if you bother her she’ll turn you inside out and grind your soul to make her bread.
THE SPEAKER (sotto voice): I would never. Soul bread tastes horrible.
THE SPEAKER (normal voice): But that’s not all they say, of course. They say this tower is haunted, by a clever ghost. They say this ghost knows things, old things, that Greerson and L’Enver and the rest of those old gasbags don’t want you to know. Secret things. And if you ask, very nicely, maybe she’ll teach you one of those dangerous, secret things.
[A long pause]
THE SPEAKER: So... what dark secret are you after? There’s all the obvious ones - ways to cheat, ways to steal, ways to end a life. No, no... that’s not it. That’s all too... lightweight for you. No, you want something durable. Something that lasts. You... Ahhh... You want a curse. Good for you. It’s good to see that there’s still young people in the world who want to hurt someone like they mean it. I like that. I like someone that’s willing to go the extra mile. After all, there’s a thousand ways you can tell someone “Don’t mess with me.” But when it comes to making sure everyone knows better than to cross you... Accept no substitutes. And you’re in luck. There aren’t many of us left who can tell you about curses. Even I’m... not all I used to be. I paid the toll, I suppose, same as everyone else. They say I’m a ghost. An echo of who I used to be. I don’t know about all of that. All I know is I’m... Still here
THE SPEAKER (lower): I’m still here.
[A pause, then she claps her hands together]
THE SPEAKER: So! Curses. How to cast them. How to make them last. I suppose I have to start at the beginning. Which means... I have to tell you about him. The Watcher.
[We hear a low chime.]
THE SPEAKER: Not his real name, of course. Nobody remembers what it was, so we’re left with the melodramatic little soubriquet he made up for himself. He was a magician. Called lightning from the sky. Walked on water. Commanded the winds. The works. And he went all over the world having swashbuckling magical adventures. He stole the sword of Domdaniel, found the path into the Lands of Mist, parted a sea or two. That sort of thing. He’s clever. He’s handsome. He’s powerful. And he knows it. And he loves trouble. He loves it. Most men who need a hobby take up golf. His hobby was angering very dangerous people... and then getting the best of them. His most famous escapade was going up against some... sky pirate warlord or other. At a certain point, he’s captured. He has all his possessions taken away from him. And he’s left to rot in a prison cell.
[SLAM! Impressionistically, we hear some cell doors shut. ]
THE SPEAKER: Ah, but it wasn’t just any prison.
[The door slam sound reverses, abruptly. ]
THE SPEAKER: No, no ordinary cell for The Watcher. He needed his Château d'If. And the people he’d annoyed were more than happy to provide. They built a prison, just for him, made out of strange, rare metals.
[We hear, faintly, the sounds of HAMMERING and LIQUID BUBBLING...the construction of the special cell]
THE SPEAKER: Materials no one knew, melted and fused together into a shifting, burnt alloy.
[There’s a SIZZLE as the alloy is fused together.]
THE SPEAKER: The sort of thing that’s very difficult to know, let alone understand. And you can’t command what you don’t understand.
[A heavy, metal door clangs shut.]
THE SPEAKER: That was the problem the Watcher found himself in. Trapped. Powerless. Helpless in a wizard-proof cell. God, he must have been thrilled. Thrilled or not, every day, the Watcher stared at the walls of his cell. And he thought, long and hard.
[We hear another chime]
THE SPEAKER: Until one day... the guard went up to bring him the day’s bowl of gruel. But when they opened up the cell door...
[Clang! The door slides open.]
THE SPEAKER: ... the Watcher was gone. Vanished into thin air. They searched every inch of that supposedly magic-proof cell, but there was nothing to see.
[Distantly, we hear another chime]
THE SPEAKER: So how did he do that? Well... Imagine the Watcher. Alone. With nothing he can use to escape. Until... he remembers. Just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. He’s still got air...
[We hear a gust of air]
THE SPEAKER: ... and he has light.
[We hear the hum of a light running]
THE SPEAKER: Neither of which are easy things to master. It would take even a brilliant man a long while to grasp their nature. Of course, a nice long while is what the Watcher had. So he sat there, day after day, staring. At the air around him. At the light in the room. For hours, he just looks at them, and wills them to accept an idea from his mind. A simple idea. “I’m not here.”
THE SPEAKER (quoting): Magic. It’s just a trick of the light.
THE SPEAKER (normal voice): Well, in this case the old saying was true. A magic spell, cast slowly, over and over again. Until a hundred million particles of light bent and refracted and passed right through him. Until the very space he was in believed the lie. “He’s not there.”
[Again, we hear the chime impressionistically signaling the Watcher's departure]
THE SPEAKER: You know what we call that, in the Unseen World? A hole-in-one. True invisibility. It was his most famous trick. And so, off goes the Watcher, safe and sound. ... for about a week. Then he got mixed up in some bad business with the daughter of a fae king, ended up chasing some rumors of banshees in South America, and... so on and so on. He’s young. He’s handsome. He’s powerful. And he knows it. So he acts like it. To have a shred of their confidence, huh? These... little boys. Who are so convinced that they are capital-G great. That they’ll change the world forever, because... well, how could they not?
THE SPEAKER: In any case... our man, The Watcher, goes galavanting around as the world’s greatest magician. But it’s not quite what he thought it’d be. I mean, sure, magic is... Well, it’s nice, isn’t it? You can create fire or part the sea or move a mountain. Any lie can be made into truth, if you just believe in it hard enough. But... sooner or later, the bubble bursts. It’s the same problem you had. You look away. You blink. And just like that -
[She snaps her fingers]
THE SPEAKER: - things go back to the way they were. As if you were never there. And the world carries on with barely a feather ruffled.
[Music begins under the following:]
THE SPEAKER: And the Watcher... oh, he hated that. He thought to himself, “What good is all the power in the world if you can’t change the world for good? What good is a thought if you can’t make it stick?” He wanted magic that lasts. And he knows it’s possible. The Caul wasn’t always there. Someone, or something, made it, a long time ago. Not even I know where it came from, that’s how old it is. But... it’s still here. And it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Magic keeps its own secret now. So it can be done.
THE SPEAKER (lower): In theory.
THE SPEAKER (normal voice): But he’s got a problem. A problem of perspective. He’s made himself too big, too powerful. He’s above it all. He’s got no equal, which means he has no peer. Which means... he can only think the thoughts that are already in his head.
THE SPEAKER: And then... along comes a spider.
[The music fades into the chatter of a party scene. Jazz music begins under the following:]
THE SPEAKER: You’ve walked into a fair share of parties in your time, haven’t you? So you know what it’s like when you open a door and immediately feel out of your depth. You know what it’s like to know - to the very bottom of your being - that no one around you is going to notice you. That it doesn’t even matter if you’re visible not. Either way, you’re ignored. You might as well not even be there.
THE SPEAKER (lower): That’s the the way the girl felt that night she met The Watcher. The night he said something to her she never forgot.
THE SPEAKER (as if answering a question): What? Oh, who knows where the girl came from. That’s besides the point. The point is... she was no one. Or she thought of herself as no one, which for this story is what matters.
[The music and party sounds fade away]
THE SPEAKER: A funny thing happens when two people who feel like they’re all alone in the world find each other. They recognize a certain... quality in one another. A hunger. When two beings without reflections see each other... well, that’s a little bit of a reflection in and of itself, isn’t it? You see the other person, and you think... “Ah. Thank God. It’s you.” But that’s not what making you happy, of course. You’re really thinking, “Oh. Thank God. It’s me.”
THE SPEAKER: He took her under his wing. Taught her Persuasion. Hermetics. Augury. All of it. Made perfect sense, from his perspective. If you really want to understand something, you teach. He got better. He got new ideas, ones he’d’ve never had on his own. Because she could see the world exactly as he did and reflect it back to him. It’s true what they say. Magic: it’s all done with mirrors. Of course... he isn’t just teaching her. No one ever is. Every day, he’s pushing her, correcting her. “No, don’t do that. Do this. Don’t think that, think this. Don’t be like that. “Be like me.” And it’s easy, isn’t it? After all... she’s no one. And he is great. Why shouldn’t he make her like he is?
THE SPEAKER (lower): But just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
THE SPEAKER: Everyone is always someone. He was pushing her to let go, and... it surprised her, how much it hurt. But... she let go. And she thought, “It’s worth it. I love this. I love him. Please, God... let him love me.”
[The music fades out]
THE SPEAKER: You don’t even need to be that smart to guess how the story ends. He left, of course. For a long time I thought it was because I’d gone as far as I could. That he’d outgrown the reflection of himself he saw in me. But now I think... maybe he just got tired of looking at it. But when you make yourself a reflection of someone else, and suddenly you don’t have them anymore, you find yourself with some new questions. Strange questions you wouldn’t ask yourself... except they’re in your head now. Because they put them there. “Did you think he’d stay with you forever? Did you think you were the first person he went through this with? Why did you think you’d be the last?”
THE SPEAKER: And you can’t go back, not to who you were before. You spent too much time making yourself his shadow, and now you can’t stop. So you start thinking about magic. Magic that lasts. Magic that doesn’t go away when you blink. The kind of magic that the old stories had a name for. Curses.
[Music begins under the following:]
THE SPEAKER: The old curses, the kind archeologists sometimes find scrawled on some abandoned Roman tile... they’re visceral things. They don’t just curse you. They curse your liver. Your lungs. Your tongue. Your words, your thoughts, your memory. They aren’t spells woven from rage, or even pain.
THE SPEAKER (an aside): Although, those do help.
THE SPEAKER (normal voice): But a curse is an act of obsession. To make it land... you have to think unimaginably hard and long about the subject. You have to think of them, in everything that you do, in everything that you are, from your breath to the dirt under your nails. You have to be willing to hurt them, over and over again, more than you want to be free. More than you want to be alive. If you’re just after a little payback, a curse isn’t what you’re looking for. What it does is beyond vengeance. It’s how you make someone understand, hey, you are going to pay a cost for being where you are. You are going to remember that I am still here.
THE SPEAKER (lower): I am here.
[She exhales, the music fades.]
THE SPEAKER: So how do you do that? Or more to the point, how did I do that? It took time. And planning. A lot of work. It took years of digging through the dust of lost kingdoms. But in the end... I found a way to make something stick. He could have too, if he’d only stopped long enough to realize it. He had all the pieces of puzzle, he just didn’t let himself see how they fit together. But like I said... perspective. He eventually decided that he needed to go even bigger. He needed to pull off such a fabulous feat of magic that its effect would ripple outwards and become permanent. If he was good enough, and daring enough, and clever enough, and if he just swept the world off its feet enough... he’d make it. He’d be one of the greats. He would change the world. And so... he decided that the thing to do was to go knocking on a dragon’s door.
[Impressionistically, we hear the clang of a metal door opening.]
THE SPEAKER (an aside): As one does. I don’t know what it is about men and dragons, but they never, ever learn. He could do most almost anything at that point. I suppose it’s a little like a mountain - God wouldn’t have put it there if he didn’t want you to climb it, right?
THE SPEAKER: Dragons... well, they make themselves hard to find for a reason. They despise visitors.
[We hear a roar and sizzle of flame]
THE SPEAKER: It tends to go poorly for anyone who seeks them out. Even the more sociable amongst their kind... well, they have a reputation to keep.
[We hear a low growl]
THE SPEAKER: Not that someone like The Watcher would ever think that would be a problem. Not for someone who could wrap the world around his little finger. And, especially, not for someone who... well, if things start to go pear-shaped, can always disappear.
[We hear the bell chime of the Watcher's invisibility spell]
THE SPEAKER: And of course it goes poorly, because how could it not? It’s a dragon. You don’t reason with it, you don’t negotiate with it. You very nicely and very quickly get out of its way. What is the power to rearrange a bit of reality compared to the fire in the sky?
THE SPEAKER: So when he proposes whatever he wants to whichever Lady Sarkana it happens to be, and gets told - for the first time in his life with any real force - “no,” The Watcher does what he does best. He hides.
[We start to hear wind under the following:]
THE SPEAKER: In the work of a moment, he made himself impossible to find. Spins that fabulous little trick of him. Persuades the very air and light around him to believe his lie. “I’m not there. I’m not there. I’m not there.”
[With a pop, the wind stops]
THE SPEAKER: And sure enough... he fades into thin air. Just the way I’d been waiting for him to do. See, I knew his magic. I knew it better than anyone. And it’s like I said, if you understand something, you can command it.
[The wind begins again, faster and harsher]
THE SPEAKER: Now, it would be one thing for me try to this by myself. To work my will on the air and the light. To, inch by inch, through his hands and his joints and his veins and his heart, make him vanish.
THE SPEAKER: Oh, don’t get me wrong, I had the power to do it. I had the power to make him just disappear.
THE SPEAKER: But sooner or later... I’d blink. I’d flinch. And he, infuriating man, would come right back. So what to do, what to do...? Ah, but I found a solution to that as well. The same thing that he did with me, really, all those years ago. Just on a larger scale. I outsourced. After all... an idea can change the world... if it’s repeated enough times.
[Electric, magical crackling begins under the wind]
THE SPEAKER: It’s not hard to create belief. It’s quite simple, actually. You just need a... thought. A little phrase that can be run through a million minds every day. Say... a question. Something that’ll be repeated over and over again. And each time someone says it, it’s a little whisper to the universe. A reminder:
THE SPEAKER (whispered): He’s not there. He’s not there. He’s not there.
[The wind subsides]
THE SPEAKER: Over and over again, every day, all over the world magicians think this thought, and they keep my curse going for me. They keep The Watcher trapped in a state of complete invisibility. And as long as someone is having my thought? He’ll stay unseen. Forever. Well... at least in theory. I suppose it might be possible for him to break the curse. Oh yes, he’s still out there, somewhere. And he could manage it. He could come back. One last hole-in-one. All he’d have to do would be... well, to change. To become someone else. But I doubt he’ll ever manage it. He won’t ever let go, I don’t think. Not of his name. Not of his big, shiny destiny to be one of the Greats. Not of his silly little catchphrase that he used all the time. All the time.
THE SPEAKER (muttered): No matter what he did, it was always the same four words.
[A pause, music begins under the following:]
THE SPEAKER: Of course, there was... a price to be paid. When you act upon the Universe, it acts upon you right back. Changing the world left me in a somewhat... diminished state. My physical form never sticks around for too long. Part of the reason why I... well, let’s just say I don’t go out much. Life’s funny. You think you’re going to change the world, because you’re so unique and special. But take it from someone who’s been around for a while: you’re nowhere near as special as you think you are - everything you do just feels new, because it’s coming from you. You think you’re going to find a way to rise above it. Of course you do, everyone does. You’re going to be special. You’re going to be one of a kind. And you’re going to change the world. But then, out of nowhere, it just... crosses your mind. A thought. Or, not just a thought. A command. An obsession that, just for a second, takes hold of your mind. You think something that isn’t yours at all. It’s his. And it’s mine. The first words he ever said to me. And the last thing I ever said to him.
THE SPEAKER (slow, deliberate): “Are You Watching Closely?”
THE SPEAKER: That’s the secret of curses. There is always a part of us that belongs to others. Understand the part of you that isn’t yours, master it, and you can control it. You just can’t ever let it go. And it never lets go of you.
[A long pause, music fades. The Speaker dusts her hands.]
THE SPEAKER: Well. This was fun! I hope for you also, now that you know some things that a crazy old ghost lady told you. But that brings up an interesting point. Namely: what am I going to do about you?
THE SPEAKER (off the student's expression): Oh, you didn’t think you’d get to just... waltz out of here with all my secrets? That there would be no consequences? Mmm. Oh dear. Probably you did. No, no... see, that’s the problem with children. You teach them just a little bit of magic, and suddenly they think they can do anything. I also have a reputation to uphold. And it’s important to reinforce it. It’s important to find creative ways of saying...
THE SPEAKER (suddenly menacing): “Stay the hell out of my tower.”
[Suddenly a crack of thunder and wind, slow footsteps as the Speaker walks towards the student]
THE SPEAKER: Don’t worry, it’ll be fast. You’ll just... blink. And when you do... you’re not going to be here anymore. Easy as that.
[Magical spells begin to be audible underneath the wind. And words. The same four words, echo-y, said by every single character in this series - from Harry Winter to Robin Fend.]
THE SPEAKER: So... are you watching closely?
[The wind blows even stronger]
THE SPEAKER (slow, deliberate): You’re not here. You’re not here. You’re not here.... are you?
[The wind howls]
THE SPEAKER: Three... Two... One... Blink.
[The speaker snaps her fingers and all the sound abruptly stops.]
[There's a long moment of silence, which transitions to the Unseen Credits music.]
Announcer: This has been UNSEEN, by Long Story Short Productions, based on an original idea by Gabriel Urbina, with additional conceptual design work by Sarah Shachat. Today’s episode was written by Sarah Shachat and directed by Gabriel Urbina, with script editing by David K. Barnes. It starred Julia Morizawa. Original Music by Alan Rodi, and also featuring music by Esteban Maxera Cuarteto, with sound design by Zach Valenti. UNSEEN is produced by Sarah Shachat, Zach Valenti, and Gabriel Urbina, along with Angel Acevedo, Jenn Schneider, and Amy Tanguay. For more information on the Unseen World, please visit Unseen.Show. Thank you for listening.
[Music fades out.]
End of Episode.