#0001 – #0010

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

Let’s talk pre-NEV tech.

We’ve gotten a lot of new members lately, so I thought it might not be a terrible idea to start making new source posts… since we lost all the old ones when D2 tried to tank the platform.

So, first rule of data restoration: you can’t do everything yourself. Some of these projects should be seen to professionally. If you’re not sure if you can do it on your own, ask around. Post specs and be prepared to hear ‘no.’ There are plenty of people in this community who can tell you whether or not you’re equipped to solo restore a device. 

Second rule of data restoration: absolutely no NEV-hacking. Not ever.

You will have to physically engage the interface. There’s just no getting around that. How much is gonna vary from item to item, but you’ve got to stop trying to NEV-hack things that were never meant to be NEV-compatible.

Even when it works, it doesn’t really work. You may think you’re seeing some promising results at first, but these are things that were never designed to handle the data transference rate of even the most basic sort of nerve-tech. They can’t keep up with you, which means that all of these workarounds require you to override your speed link minimum.

If you’re transferring a lot of data over from one of these devices, you’re going to end up with a severe case of download lag- and when that happens, it not as simple as just cancelling a transfer that’s taking too long.

The real, tangible danger here is that if you’re experiencing download lag, you’re probably not going to know. Overriding your speed link minimum causes your cognitive function to slow down to match the processing speed of the device you’re interfacing with, and none of these things are anywhere near as fast as a human brain.

What we’re talking about is a form of perceptual time dilation.

If it’s just a small amount of data, you might not really notice, because a certain amount of perceptual time dilation is actually normal- for most people, realizing an hour has gone by in what felt like minutes is just something that happens sometimes.

Where you get real problems is when you’re dealing with a lot of data. NEV-hackers connected to especially slow devices have ended up needing emergency medical treatment for severe dehydration because they spent multiple days caught in download lag and didn’t realize it.

People have died doing this. The risk just isn’t worth the honestly tiny amount of convenience it offers. For something like an old cellphone, you still have to physically interact with the device to make sure it’s unlocked and remotely accessible to you in the first place. It’s an experimental novelty, not a viable method of data restoration.

Not only is it dangerous, there are more steps involved than the alternative.

Pulling the onboard memory from a digital device is usually a relatively simple process.

Finding a way to unlock it is usually the most complicated part.

After that, all you have to do is adjust the settings, connect it to an intermediary upload system, and start the transference process. It might seem like it’s taking a while, but it would take the exact same amount of time if you NEV-hacked it.

You just wouldn’t know.

At least this way, you’ll be free to do whatever you want while you wait.

Third rule of data restoration:

Okay, this one is actually only sort of about data restoration. This is a community rule, and one the mods have only recently implemented.

People are allowed to disagree with you.

If you’re new to this community, it won’t be long before you encounter… certain opinions.

One of those opinions is that you should never use a remote proxy of any kind to operate a pre-NEV device. Not even a proxthesis, which is explicitly designed to allow a person without full mobility to enjoy full mobility in a humanlike proxy- often one which perfectly mirrors their living, human body.

You’ll hear some-

[LOUD, EERIE SOUND]

[trying again] You’ll hear-

[EERIE SOUND]

[creaking as speaker shifts in their chair] Come on!

[long pause]

[speaker shifts in their chair again]

[speaking quickly] You’ll hear some things about motor skill desync causing droppages and inconsistent response times when dealing with touchscreens and you’ll hear… [sighs] you’ll hear just a whole lot of things about a loss of “the authentic technological experience central to engaging in data restoration.”

I’m gonna be the one to paint a big ol’ target on my back here and say… I personally think this is snobbery. I don’t think this attitude is founded in anything tangible.

In fact, I think it’s not only cruel and exclusionary to some of the members of our community, I think it’s actively detrimental to restoration efforts- particularly when it comes to analog tech.

For those of you who aren’t well-versed in technological history, analog is pre-digital. It’s one step further removed from pre-NEV.

If we’re in the nerve-tech age, then the age before this was the digital age, and the age before that was the analog age. Make sense?

So: analog.

When it comes to analog storage devices, most of what you’re going to be dealing with as a hobbyist is either optical discs like CDs and DVDs or things like cassettes and tapes.

Now, in terms of the latter, that usually means magnetic tape. There also exist things like magnetic wire recordings, but you’re unlikely to come across one of those unless you’re actively looking for it.

The first thing you need to know about magnetic tape is that it’s… sensitive. It doesn’t handle heat well, it’s sensitive to moisture, and it absolutely hates being dirty. Ideal conditions for handling tapes are cool, dry, and clean.

So, as far as tape is concerned, your living human body is mostly just water and oil and dust.

Under most conditions, you’re probably not warm enough to pose a heat issue, but if you’re working in a small, poorly-ventilated room, you could hypothetically raise its ambient temperature above the safety threshold, and that’s because human breath has a relative humidity of one hundred percent.

For reference, the recommended conditions for magnetic tape storage ask for a relative humidity of forty percent or below at room temperature. The higher the relative humidity of the air, the colder the room should be to compensate.

On top of that, your skin produces natural oils to protect itself, and while it’s easy enough to wash your hands or wear gloves, you’re also constantly in the process of shedding dead cells. The human body is a dust factory.

Now, when it comes to optical discs, this isn’t nearly as much of a problem. Things like dust and fingerprints can cause read errors, for sure, but optical discs are infinitely easier to clean than magnetic tape is. You need specialized equipment to clean magnetic tape- to clean an optical disc, you usually just need rubbing alcohol or a glass cleaning solution along with a soft, clean, non-abrasive cloth. It’s that simple.

But anyway.

With all that said, not only would I say it’s not a bad idea to handle analog storage devices via remote proxy, I might actually go as far as to recommend it in certain cases, such as with magnetic tape.

Insisting on championing a narrative which has not been proven and positions community members who do not enjoy full mobility as somehow being detrimental to the efforts of the community as a whole… sucks. It’s cruel and unnecessary. 

And, if I’m being honest, I feel as though the impulse to do so stems from something entirely unrelated to data restoration.

I’ve said it.

[pauses]

Let’s talk a little bit more about magnetic tape.

Since so many of you are new to the community, I’d like to go ahead and manage some expectations. I know tape is experiencing a little bit of a renaissance, and that’s probably exactly what brought some of you here- so I don’t want anyone getting all excited just to get their heart broken when their tape read comes back with nothing but junk data.

Proper tape storage is a bit of a science, so when you find a tape, depending on how it was stored, you might already be looking at something with a pretty significant amount of distortion or degradation.

And, yeah, getting a tape ready to go can be a little bit of an adventure: before you attempt to load your tape into a playback device and IUS, you need to confirm tape tension and casing integrity. It’s not always a fast or simple process, and trying to read an improperly cased and tensioned tape can damage it further, so by the time you get it ready to read, it’s natural to have developed a bit of an investment in the result.

But you got to keep your expectations reasonable. You’re gonna get some junk tapes. Everybody does.

And that’s without even getting into what happens to tapes that have spent any amount of time near the Hole.

The Sinkhole does something really fuckin’ weird to magnetic tape. It’s not magnetic interference- it doesn’t cause that kind of distortion, it just…

Just look up Sinkhole tapes if you don’t know what I’m talking about. You’ll see what I mean. It’s a whole thing. People are completely obsessed with it, so you’ll find plenty of examples if you go looking. 

If you’re a new community member who lives near the Hole and is thinking about getting into analog… don’t.

No, I’m- I’m joking. If you live near the Hole, just make sure you’re storing any tapes you’re working on somewhere else. Somewhere well outside the Sink.

[hesitating]

Unless you’re one of those people who actively brings magnetic tape into the Sink to create more Sinkhole tapes, in which case… welcome, I guess? Uh… this community was a weird choice, but as long as you’re pulling the raw data from the tape before bringing it into the Sink, I think most people here will probably be fine with you?

Anyway, I hope this new format helps. A couple of you have been asking for more audio format content to help with NEV-compatibility, so I figured I’d oblige. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do or if you have any questions. It might take me a little longer than usual to respond because I’m still getting used to this format, but… you’ll hear from me. Literally.

Stay safe out there, and I look forward to seeing everyone’s finds this week.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

So… [breathy laugh] it’s come to my attention that I’ve been had.

Uh, many of you were kind enough to let me know that text-to-speech is absolutely still a thing for NEV users and there’s no real, tangible reason I should have to go to the effort of recording my posts.

But, on the other hand… a whole lot of you responded very positively and said it helped with understanding and internalizing the information being given, so… I’ll just keep doing it, I guess. If it’s helping, I… I don’t really mind the extra work.

Obviously, content transcriptions will always be available for those of you who need them or, y’know, just can’t stand my voice. Both completely valid reasons.

Some days I don’t want to hear me talk either. 

[long pause]

Uh, so… let’s stop putting this off.

I seem to have set off a little bit of a snafu when I called this the nerve-tech age and said it was preceded by the digital age. I didn’t realize that particular system of historical classification wasn’t in widespread use. I’m very sorry for confusing people.

I’d like to clarify exactly what it is I meant.

Yes, obviously a lot of us still use digital interfaces. I think it was, um… about thirty-five to forty percent of the world is not NEV-capable and still exclusively uses digital technology.

I mean, hell, I’m a DI user. I’m using digital technology to record this. 

That’s because being in a technological age doesn’t mean the technology that dominated the previous age is no longer in use. It just means it’s no longer the dominant technology in use. Not only are people still using digital interfaces and storage mediums, there are actually still a lot of people out there using and creating analog tech.

It looks a lot different than it used to, but it’s still a major part of certain industries.  

The reason I called this the nerve-tech age is because almost all new information-based technology being created is being created for NEV users, and then adapted for DI users as an afterthought… if at all. That’s exactly why so many of the complaints you see coming out of this platform are from DI users, yet no one ever seems to leave it because of them.

The truth is, there’s not really anywhere else to go.

The informational infrastructure of this platform was not designed to be used with a digital interface, but it’s one of the few remaining spaces that actually attempts to bridge that gap. There aren’t a lot of places left where people who are not NEV-capable can still hang out with people who are without forcing the NEV user to interface with the platform digitally even while connected to the NEV.

This platform does the opposite, which means there are a lot of things this space does for NEV users that just cannot be replicated in its digital interface. If you’re active in other communities on this platform, I think you’ve probably noticed the kind of dynamic that can create.

That’s where the complaints come in. There’s a pretty widespread sense of neglect felt by DI users, a sense of not being a priority to the dev team… and that can cause tension.

I’m not trying to say that there’s someone-

[VERY LOUD, EERIE SOUND]

[sudden creaking as speaker shifts in their chair] Oh my god, really?

Really?

[LOUD, EERIE SOUND CONTINUES]

Uh, give me a second. [sound of a wheeled chair rolling across a hard floor]

[receding footsteps, audibly barefoot]

[a heavy window slides shuts, abruptly dampening the LOUD, EERIE SOUND]

[returning footsteps, much more audible]

[sound of the speaker settling into a creaky chair and wheeling back across the floor]

Sorry about that. Uh, what… what was I saying?

Oh, um- this is not me pointing fingers. I’m not trying to place blame on any particular party involved in this situation, and this is not me finding fault with the dev team. This is just me saying, “This is the reality of what the world is at this point in technological history.”

This is the nerve-tech age. 

Just think about it: when DI users complain, the most common response you’ll see from support staff is kind of a politer version of “get nevved.”

Really think about that for a second.

Less than fifty years ago, if your response as a tech developer was “I’m sorry you’re not happy with our product. Unfortunately, unless you get this safe but fairly invasive neurological procedure to allow you to access the system as intended, there’s nothing I can do for you,” people would’ve freaked out.

As unbelievable as this might feel to some of you, the idea that turning your brain into a wireless neural interface is a normal thing to do is a fairly recent development. 

This is the nerve-tech age, and I say that as a DI user who is directly and inescapably impacted by the implications of that reality. The digital age is over, and there’s not a whole hell of a lot any of us can do about that… except hope that those of us who can’t get nevved don’t get left behind completely.

So, yeah… that’s what I meant. That’s what I was referring to.

I really hope this helps clear things up.

I never meant for something I said to kick off an argument and, uh… I’m really sorry for the role I played in that.

It may not have been intentional, but it still happened, and I regret that it did. If I’d known, I would have been much more comprehensive in my original explanation.

[long pause]

[mumbled] I can’t end this post like this. This is such a bummer.

Also, I haven’t talked about data restoration once, which is not really gonna do much for getting us back on topic, is it?

I need to, um…

Oh, um, this kind of got lost in the confusion, but I was really surprised to learn how few of you knew about the Sinkhole tapes! I was sure that was a big part of why we were getting so many new members. [laughs]

I know it’s a pretty local phenomenon- and by pretty local, I mean literally just here- but I always thought it was common knowledge. I mean, obviously everyone knows about the Sinkhole, and yeah, we’re… what, forty years out, and ten years out from the Fling? So, it’s been a while.

But… I just thought everyone knew about the Sinkhole tapes!

Unfortunately, I don’t really have any answers I can give you. I know a lot of you are very, very curious about them, but… truth is, nobody knows what’s going on with the Sinkhole tapes because nobody knows what’s going on with the Sinkhole.

There still aren’t answers for that. There never were.

It’s just that after a while, everybody… stops bothering to ask. Life keeps happening and it never stops, not even when you live in a city with a big weird hole in it.

You can get used to almost anything, and we’ve all gotten used to the Sinkhole.

It’s not normal… but it’s normal, if that makes sense. 

It’s like that thing with eels. You know it’s weird, and its always kind of there in the back of your head, but you don’t really think about it most of the time, until someone reminds you.

[MUFFLED EERIE SOUND]

I don’t have any personal experience pulling from Sinkhole tapes, even though I live… [falters]

Don’t use this against me. I’m trusting all of you to be normal about this.

I live in the Sink, so I don’t work with magnetic tape.

I love it, I think it’s a really cool storage medium with a fascinating history, but… I live in the Sink. And I don’t really have anywhere I can store and work with materials that isn’t in the Sink, so it’s kind of off the table.

So… yeah, there’s not a whole lot I can tell you about it. I’m not even sure if it’s possible to isolate the, uh… the Sinkhole interference from the base data- though, I mean, that could be a very cool experiment.

Hell, if somebody wants to send me a tape that’s already been pulled along with the data from it, I’d love to give it a shot. I think it could be really interesting.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll learn something new.

Anyway, stay safe and try not to fall into any holes, I guess. 

I hear it makes for a bad afternoon.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

Uh, wow- I was not expecting such a huge response to that post.

Before I say anything else, I’d like to apologize for exposing so many of you to the… just existentially kind of weird reality of eels. I’m sorry, but I’m also not. And I’m kind of sorry for that?

Sorry.

Also, a bunch of you have been giving me shit for calling optical discs a form of analog media, and to that I have two things to say:

The first is: LaserDisc. LaserDisc was not full digital! It was an analog optical disc format.

The second is: okay, I can acknowledge when I’ve said something misleading, and I’ll own up to that. Strictly speaking, most optical discs are digital. We have a lot of new members, and it was irresponsible of me to speak so carelessly. I’m very sorry to those of you I confused- you deserve better than that.

I swear to God this does not happen every time I post.

And in my defense, optical discs were an interstitial technology. In terms of historicity, I think they belong in the analog age, because the digital age was defined by solid-state storage.

CD players and smartphones do not belong to the same technological era. You can disagree with me, but you’re not going to change my mind. 

But yeah! Sinkhole tapes.

No, uh, wait- first, a couple of you have been asking why I’m not NEV-capable since I’m clearly so on-board with it, and… and those of you who guessed, guessed right.

I’m sunk. I got a sunk head. It’s really that simple. The A to B throughline of me living in the Sink and not being NEV-capable is a pretty clean one.

I got a head full of stars.

I would honestly love to be able to connect to the NEV. I feel like I’m missing out on a lot. Unfortunately, it’s just not in the cards for me.

If the option ever does come up, hey, you know I’ll be the first in line.

[long pause]

Sinkhole tapes.

Turns out a lot of you are super on board with my little experiment, which kind of surprised me. I wasn’t sure how people would feel about it since I know there can be some pretty strong feelings about conservation of materials, and while bringing a tape into the Sink doesn’t actually damage the material components of it in any physical way, it does have a pretty profound effect on the contents.

I’m really excited, honestly.

Uh, I need to get a PO box set up, since obviously I’m not going to go around giving out my home address, so, uh, stay tuned for that. I’ll probably have that for you next time.

Before I do anything else, I’m gonna need to hunt down some materials to set up a dedicated clean space in my apartment for tape handling and storage. I need to get that done first.

I think I actually do have a dehumidifier around here somewhere, but it might be junk at this point. It’s been a couple years since I last used it.

I’ve also been combing the listings for a tape retensioner, a couple of playback devices in good condition and an analog-compatible IUS, since I don’t have any of those things. If anyone has any good leads, let me know.

Obviously, I do realize that everything I’m sent will probably already have been cleaned and retensioned already, but fluctuations in temperature during transit can affect tape tension and it’s just better to be safe than sorry.

I’m really excited.

I don’t think I’ve had a project this exciting since I found those phones.

Oh, yeah, uh… newbies- I’ll insert the link to that post if you want to check it out.

They were lost-and-found items from a super religious summer camp north of the city. Ran for years and years prior to the Sinkhole opening up, and I don’t think anybody had ever cleared out that lost-and-found box before it found its way to me.

Some extremely surreal shit in that post, be forewarned. Lotta drama, a lotta guilt- which you’d expect, but also a really weird running theme of, uh…

You know, just go- go look at it. 

[mumbled] Real weird shit.

[pause]

Hell, maybe I’ll get weird and put up a picture of the Jackson Millennium Building on the wall of my clean space.

Ough.

Y’know, never mind.

The comedy value of that is not worth having to look at that thing all day. [laughs] Uh, if you’re never seen an actual picture of the JMB, look it up. It was a truly wild-looking building.

Sometimes I almost kind of think the Sinkhole might’ve done us a favour with that one.

Oh, speaking of things that are bizarre and freak people out: I’m so sorry.

It feels like this whole post is me apologizing, but this one I’m really sorry for.

Yes, the weird noises you hear in the background of my audio are the Hole.

I tend to forget how alien and threatening it must sound to people who don’t live here because… to me, it’s kind of like… a firetruck going by? It’s annoying and disruptive, sure, but it’s also a near-daily occurrence, so you kind of just stop noticing it after a while. 

It’s part of the auditory landscape of the Sink: get your ambulances, your firetrucks, your police vehicles, your neighborhood kids blasting music in the middle of the night, and your big glowing hole in the ground that likes to scream.

It’s normal.

Well, I mean, it’s not normal, but it’s normal.

Some neighbourhoods have fountains or parks, we have a near-constantly shrieking hole hidden under a concrete dome the size of a few city blocks.

Normal Sink shit.

Like I said: you can get used to almost anything.

[distant thunder rumbles; the sound of rain rapidly growing into a steady downpour]

Oh.

[chair creaks]

Great.

That’s the sky opening up- it’s been threatening all day.

[mumbled] I should really cut this off.

[chuckles quietly]

Now all I need is the Hole to start yelling and this will become completely unlistenable-

[LOUD, EERIE SOUND]

[quiet, incredulous laughter]

[LOUD, EERIE SOUND]

What?!

[LOUD, EERIE SOUND]

People are going to think I faked this.

[quiet, incredulous laughter]

The timing on that was unreal.

Um… let me know if you find any of the stuff I’m looking for.

[speaking more loudly to compensate for the volume of the LOUD, EERIE SOUND] Stay safe, don’t fall into any holes!

[muttering] Absolutely fucking unreal.

Oh, god. Uh… uh, fuck…

[The thunderstorm and eerie sounds fade into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

Okay, what are they teaching people? Every time I mention something I think is common knowledge, everyone freaks out.

Apparently, almost none of you had ever heard of the Jackson Millennium Building.

Please forgive me, mods, because one this is gonna go real off-topic. I’m hoping my history of good behaviour is enough to let me get away with this.

We’ll call it a JMB source post.

The JMB is… fucking impossible to explain. If I tried to tell you about it myself, it would sound like I was making shit up, so I’ve pulled together a couple of clips and I’m gonna cut them in for you.

The first one is from Jacksonesque, a documentary about the JMB from before the Sinkhole opened up. It’s about forty-five or fifty years old, but if you want to watch the whole thing, let me know and I’ll send you the data. 

[DOCUMENTARY EXCERPT]

Documentary Narrator: In the year 1997, Canadian architect Kennedy Jackson began drafting the plans for a building that would go on to become synonymous with the concept of anti-humanist architecture.

Jackson’s previous designs, most infamous amongst them the ‘Peg-leg’ of Heron Fault, had been divisive, drawing harsh criticism for what many considered ‘borderline unlivable’ design choices while also being hailed as ‘possessing of an unrivaled imaginative spirit.’

Controversy plagued Jackson’s Millennium roject from its inception, first arising when it was revealed that the lot proposed for the construction saw frequent use by members of the surrounding community as an unofficial public park and had even been the site of several weddings. Residents of the area marched on the mayor’s office to protest the sale of the lot, garnering widespread support from concerned onlookers across the nation, but were unable to prevent its sale. In September of 1998, just two months after the purchase had been proposed, ownership of the lot passed to Soper Realty, the group which would manage the property after its completion.

Despite its controversial start, the project received generous contributions from investors well in excess of projected building costs- something that would turn out to be instrumental in preventing the project from ending up dead in the water.

While originally intended to complete construction in the year 2000, work on the Jackson Millennium Building was delayed by over a decade, with fire and safety inspectors calling the intended design “the spiritual successor to the Holmes Hotel” and “a neo-brutalist funhouse deathtrap.”

Prior to revisions, the original plans for the Jackson Millennium Building featured a number of design oddities: doors opened into rooms much higher or lower than those adjoining them; walls and floors were tilted, forming narrow, often difficult-to-navigate spaces; and certain areas of the building could not be accessed except by ladder.

Like the design of the building itself, Jackson’s explanation for this was both convoluted and inscrutable.

[interview excerpt]

Kennedy Jackson: No, listen, I don’t think you’re getting me- there’s this fundamental concept in design, maybe it’s the fundamental concept of design, and that’s symmetry. Humans, we’re bilaterally symmetric and it sort of defines everything that we do: the structures that we create, the lives that we live, but… that’s not the whole of it! On the outside: one leg higher than the other, one leg shorter than the other- there’s a natural asymmetry, and on the inside, in the envelope, all bets are off. The place where the straight lines of the brutalist meets the natural asymmetries of the body- that’s the juxtaposition of the organic and the ideal.

It’s natural design.

[interview excerpt ends]

Documentary Narrator: While a revision of the original design was eventually approved for construction on the sole principle of not being provably in violation of local building code, the Jackson Millennium Building would go on to be described by its original inhabitants as “akin to wandering through an Escher painting just to get to the breakroom.”

TectoVision, the marketing firm which had leased the space from Soper Realty, sued for release from their five-year contract only eighteen months after first taking up residency in the Jackson Millennium Building, citing unsafe working conditions.

The Jackson Millennium Building, while acknowledged by city officials to be “thoroughly unpleasant and weird,” could not be found to be in contravention of any existing health and safety parameters, and therefore, the contract was upheld.

However, less than six months after the suit was filed, while litigation was still underway, TectoVision vacated the premises prematurely, leaving the Jackson Millennium Building vacant for the remaining three years of their lease.

In October of 2014, only eight months before the expiration of TectoVision’s five-year contract, the Jackson Millennium Building was involved in yet another explosive scandal.

[low-quality phone recording]

Matt: I think we can all appreciate the potential benefits on offer here- great location, excellent footage, and- like you said, Kathy- there’s certainly something to be said about the wow factor of the building’s reputation. No one is denying that.

But we need to consider this from a practical standpoint: after that fiasco with Tecto, what are our options?

We need to address the tenancy issue.

Clients are looking at the Jackson Millennium and seeing a productivity issue down the line. They’re seeing employees excusing extended breaks by claiming to have gotten “turned around” on their way back to their work stations, and if we don’t do something about that now, it’s going to be Tecto all over again. How do we fix that?

Kathy: I hear what you’re saying about the optics, Matt, about the fear of productivity lost, and I think I can offer a fix for that: it’s all about clear signage.

Colour-coded vinyl floor runners, frequent maps. Reassure future tenants that they don’t have to worry about their staff making excuses by taking those excuses away.

[murmuring]

Matt: That… is a really excellent idea- really excellent, wow. Can we all just give Kathy a hand for that?

[light clapping]

Just forward-thinking efficiency in action, this one.

[murmuring]

Kennedy is going to hate it, though. He’s really going to hate it.

Kathy: Well, it’s not Kennedy’s building anymore, is it, Matt?

Tecto happened in Kennedy’s building. This is our building. 

[low-quality phone recording ends]

What you just heard was part of a cellphone recording taken of a meeting between Soper Realty board members Matthew McConnaugh and Kathleen Strike. First released anonymously on internet message board fiendrama.com on October 3rd of 2014, it would take less than a week for the controversial sound byte to catch the attention of local tabloid journalist Elijah Suffolk.

Suffolk’s piece about the recording, titled Kennedy Jackson Who? Soper Execs Caught Talking Smack About Controversial JMB Architect ran the following Monday.

Less than twenty-four hours later, the internet was on fire.

Public outrage was two-pronged, with some appalled at the apparent disrespect with which Jackson had been treated and others pointing to Striker and McConnaugh’s exchange as a tacit acknowledgement of the issues posed to tenants of the Jackson Millennium Building by its unconventional design- the very same issues that had prompted TectoVision’s lawsuit less than three years before.

Corporate interest in the Jackson Millennium Building vanished overnight.

It would be six years before the property was purchased from Soper Realty by an unexpected buyer: Calliope Research, a subsidiary of multinational pharmaceutical corporation MagneVice Medical Technologies, best known for their role in the creation of controversial oral fertility medication Zoftroprox™.

After Calliope Research purchased the Jackson Millennium Building from Soper Realty, they found themselves embroiled in a legal dispute with its architect, who objected to their efforts to have the building renamed.

After a brief court battle, judge Augustus Park ruled that Kennedy Jackson’s position as architect was not, in fact, sufficient to prevent the building from being renamed by its legal owners and it was officially recognized as the Innes and Montgomery Institute of Research and Development.

[DOCUMENTARY EXCERPT ENDS]

So that’s the background on the building itself.

The second one is from an interview with one of the TectoVision employees that worked in the JMB back in 2010. It’s a lot shorter, I promise.

[INTERVIEW EXCERPT]

Eileen: Welcome to The Early Afternoon with Eileen Acton- I’m Eileen, and on today’s show, we sit down with someone from TectoVision, the marketing agency which made international headlines earlier this year when they sued for release from their tenancy contract with the Soper Realty, calling attention to working conditions within the Jackson Millennium Building many have called “staggering.”

As the suit is still ongoing, we will not be disclosing the identity of our guest today, and we ask that our in-studio audience refrain- now more than ever- from taking photos or recordings.

Please join me in welcoming our special guest. [turned away] Mark, please show him in.

[robust applause as someone walks in]

[applause dying down]

[compassionately] Thank you so much for joining us in the studio today. How are you feeling?

TectoVision Employee: [laughing uneasily] As best as could be expected, I guess.

Eileen: I’m glad to hear that. Now, I don’t mean to jump right into it, but we’ve got a lot of questions-

TectoVision Employee: [almost interrupting, a little wryly] Yeah, I’m sure you do.

[scattered laughter from audience]

Eileen: [laughing along] Alright, alright. [all business] So, what can you tell us about working in the Jackson Millennium Building?

TectoVision Employee: [muttered] What can I tell you?

What I can tell you is you couldn’t pay me to go back into the Jack. I’ve worked in a lot of buildings that weren’t great, but the worst of them didn’t even come close.

Eileen: So the suit alleges. Can you tell us a little bit more about what exactly that means? In a tangible sense, I mean.  

TectoVision Employee: In a tangible sense? Uh… I don’t know if this is what you’d call tangible, but it was like… working in a funhouse? The acoustics of the place were a nightmare- half the staff was convinced it was haunted even though it was brand new. You could be talking to somebody standing in the hall and have a harder time hearing them than somebody three rooms down with the door shut.

[murmuring from audience]

Eileen: How strange! And why do you think that is? Can you give us your best guess?

TectoVision Employee: I don’t have to guess- it was something about the way the vents were positioned. You could be all the way over in 2F and somebody would say something in 2A and it’d sound like they were standing right next to you. We started planning around it- if me and Carlos wanted to talk logistics, we’d have to go over and tell the folks in the other room to can it or get lost for half an hour just so we could hear ourselves think.

And when folks got lost, they really got lost. That’s, uh… not a figure of speech.

[INTERVIEW EXCERPT ENDS]

You can still find photos of the inside of the JMB from during its construction, along with the plans for it, but for whatever reason, there’s almost nothing from after it was completed.

You’ll find a couple of blurry cellphone pictures from TectoVision employees, but nothing after that. Calliope was doing some kind of secret… pharmaceutical research? I don’t know, they were really secretive about it.

Actually, it’s spawned this whole conspiracy theory that Calliope opened up the Hole somehow, which is kind of hilarious. I recommend reading up on it a little, but not too deeply.

You will start feeling like you’re going insane.

Anyway… that’s the Jackson Millennium Building.

I’ve attached my PO box number to the post data. If you want to send me tapes, go ahead and send me tapes.

Stay safe and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

Okay, I’ve been… putting off addressing this for a while, but I feel like I have to say something before this whole fundraising initiative gets completely out of hand.

You’re all very, very kind. Thank you. I’m extremely touched by your thoughtfulness and generosity.

I am and was aware that there is a specialized procedure which allows people with superficial asterikoiloptosis- or, if you prefer, superficial sinkage- to become NEV-capable.

I, unfortunately, am not eligible.

I do not have superficial sinkage. I have deep sink. If you ran a medical probe up my spinal column to get a good look at the inside of my skull, it would find nothing but cold, glittering void.

[inhales]

I was in the Hole.

Normally I keep that fact pretty close to the chest because it narrows down my possible identity to one of just a hundred and twelve people- assuming nobody’s died.

Not exactly ideal for anonymity.

I don’t think I can really communicate how moved I was- and am- by the kindness I’ve seen here over the last couple of weeks. It’s a testament to how good-hearted the people of this community are that you were all so willing to pitch in what you could to make sure I could be a part of something I myself said I wish I could be.

You’re good eggs. 

But I can’t accept your generosity. I can’t benefit from what’s being offered here.

I am truly and completely and deeply sunk.

And unless something truly miraculous happens, the only way anybody’s getting at my brain is if I crack open my skull myself.

Now, uh, user nevverhappy mentioned they do suffer from superficial sinkage and, due to financial hardship and the limited employment opportunities often available to people who suffer from cranial sinkage, have never been able to afford the sink-adapted surgery… so if you could redirect your efforts their way, that would make me really happy.

I’d really like that.

[shaky breath]

You are all… [stops, emotional]

You are all so incredibly kind.

Sorry, give me a minute.

Oh god…

Um- look, this seems like as good a time as any to post what I pulled from that A10. I’ve been kind of lazy about it- I got distracted by this whole project with the tapes.

There’s some good stuff in here- an old pre-Fling NEVROS ad and a bunch of other stuff about the NEV… downloaded videos, interviews… memes. [chuckles] Whoever this belonged to, they were super into it, it looks like.

It’s more modern than most of what I’m used to dealing with, but, um… hey, it’ll be a blast from the past for some of you, I guess.

A couple of them are pretty funny or- or interesting. I’ll cut in the audio for two or three here and attach everything else in the post data.

[NEVROS AD, PRE-FLING]

The future of communication.

Stock Ad Shill 1: It’s unbelievable-

Stock Ad Shill 2: Unbelievable!

Stock Ad Shill 3: Completely unbelievable!

Stock Ad Shill 1: My spouse and I, our relationship- it’ll never be the same.

Stock Ad Shill 2: Everything is changing for us.

Stock Ad Shill 3: Everything’s different. It’s all different now.

The future of entertainment.

Stock Ad Shill 2: It was like… being there!

Stock Ad Shill 3: I could feel everything she felt-

Stock Ad Shill 1: I could feel how she felt, and it was… amazing.

Stock Ad Shill 2: It was amazing.

Stock Ad Shill 3: Amazing, just amazing.

Stock Ad Shill 1: What could I call it except… amazing?

The future of the workplace.

Stock Ad Shill 3: I used to have a two-hour commute to work-

Stock Ad Shill 1: Driving to the office took so much time out of my day-

Stock Ad Shill 2: I felt like I was always going back and forth, back and forth-

Stock Ad Shill 3: With NEVROS, I feel like I’m there.

Stock Ad Shill 1: It’s like I’m really there!

Stock Ad Shill 2: It’s better than being there! I don’t think I could ever go back to commuting.

NEVROS Technologies: the future with you in it.

[AD ENDS]

[INFLUENCER VIDEO]

[chillhop beat playing]

Influencer: Hey babberz!

So I know I’ve been away for a while… but you won’t believe what I’ve been up to!

We’ve all seen the ads for [dramatically] NEVROS Technologies! And I think a lot of us were like, “uhh, what?” because honestly, been down this road before, okay, we’ve seen our fair share of shilling and fakes, so… when NEVROS reached out to me to ask if I’d be interested in being one of their [audible air quotes] “Experiential Content Creators,” I was like “oh my god, what does that mean? They’re definitely going to, like, drug me and sell my organs or something.”

But… I mean… before my accident, I was studying medicine and… well, I read the literature and… I was wowed. Like, wow, this is real deal stuff.

Real deal stuff.

So, I decided to take the plunge.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am such a nerd for neuroprosthetics, and I cannot tell you how cool this stuff is- like, I literally can’t!

Legally, I’m not allowed to yet.

But next week- next week, I promise!

What I can tell you is that the NEV procedure is… life-changing. It’s completely safe, they take care of everything for you, and… it’s impossible to even explain to you how life-changing it is.

I know I keep using that word, but… there isn’t another word for it.

It’s life-changing.

You have to try it.

I know it’s not cheap, and there aren’t a lot of places you can get it yet, but the more people who do it, the more places you’ll be able to go and the more affordable it’ll get.

So if you can get it… absolutely get it. You won’t regret it, I promise.

And then hopefully our babberz on a budget can pull through too! Or maybe they’ll make it part of accessibility standards.

A girl can dream, right?

Stay tuned for next week, and get excited! I know I am!

Muah! Bye, babberz!

[chillhop beat fades out]

[INFLUENCER VIDEO ENDS]

[ALAN’S NEIGHBOUR MEME VIDEOS]

[sounds of someone walking outdoors]

Alan’s Neighbour: “Wire up your brain,” they said, “join the neighbourhood association,” they said!

Okay, why not? It’ll help me make friends, right?

I mean, how else am I going to make friends with my next-door neighbour? I can’t only talk to him about his model trainset. He has to have other interests.

It can’t all be trains.

[sudden shift to indoor room tone]

Update: it’s all trains.

[quiet train sound]

[lo-fi outro music]

[sounds of someone walking indoors on a hard floor]

Week two in the neighbourhood association: I don’t know what we talked about today because Alan wouldn’t stop thinking about trains!

[imitating a serious person] Alan, how do you feel about the-

[sudden loud train sound]

[lo-fi outro music]

[sounds of someone walking outdoors]

Today I went to the corner store!

Alan was there!

I’m like, “hello, Alan,” and I’m just thinking about how he’s thinking about trains.

He looks at me and he’s like, “hello?” and as I’m checking out, I just quietly hear,

“Choo choo…”

[quiet train sound]

Anyway, I’m looking at moving again.

[lo-fi outro music]

[ALAN’S NEIGHBOUR MEME VIDEOS END]

Yeah, so that’s… uh…

[speaker shifts in their chair, coming closer to the mic]

A tasting selection of what was on the A10.

I hope you enjoy these.

Um, stay safe and try not to fall into any holes.

[beat]

[subdued] I don’t recommend it.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

I got the tapes you sent me and… [disbelieving laugh] holy shit, there are… so many more tapes than I was expecting.

I can talk about that a little bit afterwards.

First, if you weren’t already aware, the mods gave me permission to run an AMA about being one of the hundred-twelve specifically because no one is going to be able to focus on anything else until I do.

So that’s what this is going to be. I said ask me anything, and you had a lot to ask.

I’m not going to be able to get through it all, but I’ll do my best.

Before I get into anything else, I’d like to address the fact that some of you seem to think I’m lying about having been in the Hole. [bewildered laugh] Literally why? Why is that a thing I would want to lie about? 

Being one of the hundred-odd people who came out of the Hole not make you popular around here.

Thousands of people got caught in the sinklight during the Fling, and a lot of people blame for us that. It seems like mostly unconsciously. But still.

The few of us you’ve heard of- Jean-Luc and Taylor and Yun-seo- they’re very much the odd ones out. Most of us don’t advertise having been in the Hole- it’s more just something people tend to figure out about you after a while because there’s only so much you can do to disguise being decades behind the world.

It’s kind of impossible to hide because it’s impossible to catch up- the more time I spend trying to familiarize myself with things that have already happened, the more I find myself missing the things that are happening now.

It’s not… a good thing. I guess it might seem cool to you, but I think it’s easy to feel that way at a distance.

Enough people got caught in the sinklight for somebody to think it would be worth their while to create a specialized surgery for people with superficial sinkage to become NEV-capable. Think about that.

Asterikoiloptosis is an affliction, and there are a fair number of people who think it would have been better for everyone if nobody had come out of the Hole. It doesn’t really matter that we didn’t get a say in that- it’s still how people feel.

So… yeah.

If you think it’s a cool, fun thing to pretend to be one of the hundred-twelve… you’re not from the city, you’re not from the Sink, and you’re definitely not from the Hole.

Let’s get to these questions of yours.

A lot of these are you could ask literally anybody with superficial cranial sinkage and get the exact same answer, so I’m going to try and keep mine brief: can I touch my own head? Yes. Can someone else touch my head? Only if I can see what they’re doing and am actually paying attention. 

What does it feel like when I touch my sinkage area? Normal. I can touch my face and scalp without a problem. It feels exactly like it always has.

What do I see when I look at myself? The same thing everyone else does.

Uh, actually, this seems like something you people might find interesting: I don’t see my nose like I used to- now it’s just sort of this void-black chasm at the centre of my vision. Took some getting used to.

What would happen if you tried to drop something on my head? It’d fall into my sinkage.

What happens to things that fall into my sinkage? They drift into a glittering void.

What happens to things that start to fall into my sinkage but are removed? They’re fucking irradiated. It’s a weird cosmic void. it does that.

Can the radiation from my sinkage make me sick? No, it’s not radioactive.

Can the radiation from things irradiated by my sinkage make me sick? Yeah, probably, they’re radioactive. 

Does my sinkage give off radiation? No, it’s not radioactive.

How is that possible when the space inside my sinkage is radioactive?

There are so many papers and videos on this, it’s unreal. Please go look one of them up.

How much of my head is sunk? About seventy percent.

Do I have other sinkage? Yeah.

Am I going to tell you about it? No. Absolutely not.

You could… literally identify me with that information. No.

Can I wear hats or glasses or tie my hair back? Yes, yes, and sort of. Glasses are no problem because they’re constantly in my vision. Though, I guess if they were frameless they could be a problem? I’ve never tried it. Most hats are bulky enough that I’m usually at least subconsciously aware of them, but hair ties have always been a little bit dicey for me.

If I can’t see it, it has to be physically very present so I stay aware of it. Usually, that means it has to be at least a little bit uncomfortable. If it’s not, the tie will sink and I’ll suddenly realize my hair is drifting back into my face. And yeah, like I said, it looks the same to me as it does to everyone else.

I think you could probably figure this one out on your own, but having your hair fall into your face is distracting enough. When your hair is drifting strands of void, it’s extremely distracting. I think that’s actually a big part of why so many of us keep our hair short.

I’m going to pre-empt this one: can I cut my hair? Yeah, obviously.

When I cut my hair, what do the parts that come off look like? Colourless. Completely clear, like I’ve gone white.

Can other people touch the hair I’ve cut off? Yeah. Same goes for anything that comes off my sinkage, I assume. I haven’t really tried. I’m not out here like, gouging out pieces of my skin.

[mouse scrolling sounds]

Uhh… oh, this is a weird one.

Can I wear makeup?

 I think it would have to be, like… grease paint. Really heavy, sticky stuff. Again: I’d have to feel it, or the second I stopped looking in the mirror, it’d sink.

[mouse scroll sounds]

[muttered] I think that’s all the generics…

[quietly] Okay.

[continued mouse scrolling sounds]

[pauses]

[sighs deeply]

This one… I’m going to assume that anyone who asked this is convinced the Fling was a hoax, but I’ll still answer it.

Why didn’t falling in the Sinkhole make my whole body go sunk? No idea. As far as I’m aware, nobody on Earth knows the answer to that. According the experts, the current consensus is that nobody’s sinkage worsened in the Hole or during the Fling. Why? I don’t know. I don’t fucking know. Nobody knows. I don’t know. Okay? I don’t know.

Can I get secondary exposure from sinklight? No. That’s actually one of the few things that differentiates deep asterikoiloptosis from superficial. I could strip naked and sunbathe in it and nothing would happen, as far as I know.

…Sinkbathe? Anyway.

[EERIE NOISE]

Am I allowed to go back to the Hole since I came out of it?

[incredulous] No!

Nobody’s allowed near the Hole! Why would I have clearance for that?  

You can’t just go to the Hole- what do you think I’m going to do, just walk up and be like, [somber voice] “Hello, I’m one of the one-twelve. Let me in,” and they’ll just be like, “Yeah, sure. Why not? Welcome home.” [incredulous scoff]

What the fuck?

[mouse scrolling sounds]

Uh… er… oh, this question is… hard. Um.

How old am I?

Do you mean legally, chronologically, or physically?

Chronologically, I’m in my sixties.

Physically- and a little math will get you there- I’m in my thirties.

Legally, I was born sixty-odd years ago but am in my thirties, which makes it completely impossible for me to sign up for any service that does not have a very specific temporal exemption clause programmed into its database.

I make so many more voice calls now than I ever did before I fell into the Hole.

If you want to feel a little fucked up, the fact that I came out of the Hole at a different time of year than I went in means my birthday changed.

I mean… not legally, and the day I was born obviously didn’t change, but because I didn’t spend exactly thirty years inside the Hole, the actual day I chronologically roll over from one age to the next is different than it was before.

I don’t know if I explained that in a way that made sense- it’s a really weird concept. I think about it more than I probably should, considering it doesn’t really matter. 

[mouse scrolling sounds]

Uh, the rest of these are pretty much all requests for pictures or personal information or questions about my personal experiences during the Sinkhole event and the Fling.

I’m not really allowed to talk about my experiences with the Hole. It’s not illegal or anything, I’m not gonna go to jail, but it is a breach of contract.

Um, some of you might not know this, but those of us with deep cranial asterikoiloptosis have a lot of trouble finding employment. We’re an uninsurable risk at in-person workspaces, and because we can’t get nevved, the only way for us to work remotely is digitally.

And you’ve heard what I had to say about the death of the digital age, I assume.

A bunch of us, myself included, are under contract with Paradigm Research, the folks who study the Hole. They pay our living expenses and, in exchange, we stay nearby and participate in ongoing studies.

Part of that is… well, contractually, we’re not supposed to talk about our experiences or seek out information about each other’s experiences so as to not, uh… muddy the waters, I guess.

Yeah. Sorry. I can’t answer your questions. Paradigm pays my rent.

So, instead, let’s talk about the tapes you sent me!

I’m still waiting on tape data from a few of you- I’ve reached out directly, so remember to check your messages.

Obviously, I haven’t had time to go through many of them- I only got my setup completely figured out yesterday.

But I did have a chance to go through two!

I want to pull preliminary data reads from everything as fast as I can because I realized this morning that I don’t actually know to what extent the Sinkhole effect is cumulative, and having progressive data reads could tell me a lot about that.

I will say the preliminary reads I pulled from those two tapes are still mostly undistorted. There’s a little weirdness here and there, but nothing too exciting just yet.

I’ll let you know as soon as I have something worth sharing.

Stay safe and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

I’m not putting one of the tapes in my head.

Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. I’d just end up smacking myself in the face with a VHS. Somebody else would have to do it for me- and again, I have no intention of telling any of you where I live!

Also, nothing interesting would happen- it’d just wreck the tape, and maybe make me sick from handling it. I’m not sure how quickly… things accumulate radiation in there. Whenever I go for testing, they always whisk things away immediately after removing them, so… I just sort of assume pretty fast? 

But whatever the Hole does to magnetic tape is not the same as what my sinkage does to things. There’s a reason people are allowed to live in the Sink: this is not a radioactive area.

It’s just… low-income, because living here means living with the knowledge that if the Hole decides to throw another party at some point, you could get caught in the sinklight, and the only people who don’t have to worry about that are the hundred-twelve.

The dome won’t do much if the Hole expands again.

This Sink is a hazardous area, not a fucking fallout zone. It’s like… living next to a volcano.

Also, a handful of you are still convinced I’m a liar. I don’t mind that. I don’t mind that at all.

To those of you who are upset and have jumped to my defense now that the skeptics have started calling me ‘hundred-thirteen’ or ‘one-thirteen’ or something: I’m actually fine with it.

Someone who is convinced I’m not from the Hole is probably not trying to systematically work out which of the hundred-twelve I am, and that’s fine by me. I’d much rather have all of you think I’m lying than have all of you trying to figure out who I am and where I live. 

Go ahead and call me one-thirteen. I don’t mind it.

I know the mods already made a post about it, but I’d like to… [sighs]

Maybe I can help people understand where it is I’m coming from.

This is not me trying to hide something about myself from you. I’m… it’s just…

[pause]

The general attitude people have towards personal privacy now is very different than it was when I was growing up and, as someone who is very cognizant of being in a very different world than the one I grew up in, I try to be understanding of that.

But I don’t think I’m ever going to be…

I don’t think I’m ever going to be completely comfortable with how immediately and insistently open with their information people are these days.

I grew up in a world where you couldn’t just feel someone’s intentions and know whether or not they were trustworthy.

On the internet, people could lie, and they did.

It wasn’t always easy to tell who was telling the truth, and there was a whole microculture of fear that developed around that specifically.

So whenever one of you publicly posts your location data for the whole world to see, it kind of freaks me out a little. I get this reflexive knot in my gut like I should do something about it, even though I know things are… different now.

[LOUD, EERIE NOISE]

The concept of stranger danger clearly wasn’t a thing for you, but it was for me, and I can’t shake that.

[sighs]

I can’t get comfortable with the sort of unconditionally trusting transparency so many of you want from me, and my refusing to assent to it is not an invitation to be…

Do- do people still used the word ‘doxxed’? Is that still the word for it?

[shifts in chair]

[old man voice] “Back in my day, we called it ‘doxxing’. That word came from indoctrination, because chanting strangers in black robes would come to your house in the middle of the night and take you away to a haunted pizzeria! And no one would see you again. Just another Tuesday on the internet…”

[normally] No. No, I’m joking, it wasn’t actually like that, and I actually have no idea where the word doxx comes from.

Anyway, whatever you call it, d-don’t… don’t. Please? I get that you want to feel close to me and you want to feel like you can trust me, but it really freaks me out.

[old man voice] “Because I’m old and decrepit and simply masquerading as young person. I am surrounded on all sides with these fellow youths with their head-wires and their nervous technology.”

[normally] Sorry, I’m in a bit of a mood.

I got rained on coming back from the corner store and didn’t have my umbrella, and knowing that the Earth has slightly less water on it than it did before some of it fell into my weird head always makes me feel kind of… a little… existential, I guess.

Also, one of you sent me the most uncomfortable version of the Tennenbaum VR headset you could find, which is very funny, but…

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really nice gesture, and the idea that there was this thought process that went, “They’ve got a sunk head, so it has to feel terrible to wear,” is just… is just so funny to me, but…

Please don’t send me gifts. 

It’s not that I’m not grateful.

Thank you. Sincerely, thank you. You must’ve gone pretty far back into my post history to know I was looking for one of these, and I appreciate the effort you must have gone to in finding it- I mean, I- I’ve been sitting on these Tennenbaum simulation cartridges for over a year at this point because I couldn’t find one.

But please don’t send me gifts.

Please.

I’m so off-topic here.

The mods have given me way too much leeway. I’m turning into a problem child. 

I have an update on the Sinkhole tapes: I’ve started to see more significant distortion. There’s definitely something there.

But I don’t know what I’m doing.

[beat, laugh] You know, a long time ago- before the Hole, before everything- I had a friend who was really into vinyl.

Uh, records, I mean. 

An analog audio storage medium. One I didn’t mention in my first source post, which a lot of you were quick to point out, and looking back, I’m a little surprised no one picked up on it sooner.

She always used to complain about these old collectors, these people who had been around in the sixties and seventies and were able to pick up the pressings when they were first made- she always used to say, “they’re too in it; they only see the scopes of their childhoods, and they don’t understand the medium.”

I never understood what she meant by that. I kinda always thought she was just being pretentious.

And, y’know, maybe she was.

But she was also right, and I’m… I’m realizing that. I think I’ve been telling on myself since the beginning.

I think if she’d been one of you, she would’ve looked at my perspective on pre-NEV and instantly clocked me as one of the hundred-twelve.

[EERIE NOISE]

For most of you, the relationship you have with analog and early digital is cultivated: it’s something you sought out and chose to learn about the same way people in my generation sought out and chose to learn about vinyl.

It is not within the scopes of your childhoods.

But for me, my relationship to videotapes and cassettes- old CDs, flip-phones, all that shit- I grew up with that. The way I look at it is defined entirely by the scope of my childhood.

Before I started doing these posts, I never knew how much I never knew because when you grow up with these things, you just assume you know everything you’ll ever need to.

The tape goes in the player, the disc goes in the drive.

I guess what I’m saying is… I’ve realized I’m… in over my head and I need help. I don’t know the first goddamn thing about signal isolation. I don’t know why I thought I’d just intuitively understand it.

I don’t.

I’ll play you some of the raw data I’ve pulled- it sounds to me like bits of other signals are intruding on the originals, and part of me wonders if it’s actually some sort of data bleed from the other tapes- but I don’t have the faintest fucking clue how to find out if that’s true.

I’ve been acting like I’ve got everything figured out, and I absolutely do not.

I’d like to cross-reference the tape data with the intrusive signals and check my theory, but I don’t know how to do that.

This is what I hear when I play these things.

[indistinct voice speaking amidst a chatter of much clearer voices]

Help me. I’m goddamn helpless.

If you can send me some resources, that would help me a lot. I’m honestly drowning. I can pull and compile the data without a problem, but now that I have it, I don’t know what to do with it.

I think what needs to happen here is my swallowing my pride. I think we’re going to get our best results from working together.

Also, um- sorry if I never seem to shout out who sent in what, it’s just that I’m never sure which of you are in, um, experiential collectives and I know that’s sort of a thing with that when it comes to referencing the individual versus the collective, so I’ve… I’ve just been avoiding it. I don’t understand it very well and I- I don’t wanna… accidentally insult anybody.

If you want to be shouted out when I get to your tape, shoot me a message about how I should do that and I’ll make a note of it.

Sorry for everything, and thanks for your patience.

I’m really feeling my age today.

Uh, that’s all for now, I think.

Stay safe and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

The signal’s not coming from the other tapes.

Or, at least, not from the other tapes I have.

I suppose it’s still possible it could be coming from other tapes in the Sink, but I don’t think so, it feels counterintuitive- and yeah, this whole situation is counterintuitive, the Hole itself is counterintuitive, the fact that more than half my head is a… a fucking portal to an alien starscape is counterintuitive, but it’s because everything is like this that I feel like if it’s not coming from these tapes, it’s not coming from any of the tapes.

I don’t think it’s coming from anything in the Sink- I think it’s coming from the Hole.

I can explain why, so bear with me. 

Some of you sent me some really excellent tools and tips to help me on my way, and I was combing through different tapes yesterday to see if I could find something that sounded familiar- apparently if you know what you’re listening for, it’s easier to know if what you’re doing to isolate the signal is working.

This is what I came across yesterday.

[sound of a phone screen being unlocked with a PIN]

I’ll play the clip inside the recording this time, since so many of you wanted to listen to it… with me. I get it, it’s like a… reaction video type thing- I guess some things never really change- but be aware that because I’m playing it on my phone, it’s not going to sound as crisp.

I’ll attach the audio itself to the post data so you can listen to it properly.

This is the one- this is the clip.

[indistinct jingle plays under the sound of a crowd, slightly apart from the microphone]

I was listening to this and I kept going, “something about this sounds so familiar.” It was so familiar I kept thinking it had to be something really well-known, but I couldn’t find anything online that matched up- and then it just sort of… clicked.

[indistinct jingle plays again]

[singing along, poorly and a little bit flat] “Jirelli’s Convenience, at Innes and Main- think of the time that you’ll save!”

I remember this.

This is Jirelli’s Convenience jingle. I remember it because I remember thinking how weird it was that a convenience store had a jingle on the radio… in a time where radio already wasn’t really the optimal place for advertising.

I remember it because I actually went out of my way to walk by Jirelli’s once, just out of curiosity, and that’s how I realized it was… literally next to the CPPL radio broadcasting station. Like the next lot over.

I never asked, but I have to assume there was some deal going on there for free coffee or something.

Once I realized what I was listening to, finding the original audio online was easy.

[clearer jingle plays] Jirelli’s Convenience, at Innes and Main- think of the time that you’ll save!

At this point, I was like… I know for a fact none of these tapes have the Jirelli’s jingle on them, and I know the Jirelli’s jingle isn’t still broadcasting, because Jirelli’s fell into the Sinkhole.

I know it did because I was on Innes and Nelson when the Hole opened up. Jirelli’s is gone, and so is CPPL radio.

But, you know, it’s online, obviously- I’m not sure how that translates to finding its way onto one of these tapes, but we know it’s out there in the world.

Which is why the thing that has me convinced these signals are not coming from anywhere in the Sink is this:

[this audio is slightly distorted, with faint traces of the previous chatter still detectable, but substantially clearer than when previously played]

DJ Pinch Roller: Hello, hello, hello and welcome back to the Poop Deck, your unjammed signal pouring out parts unknown in crystal clear Dolby Stereo.

[the speaker shifts, bringing the phone closer to the microphone]

It’s a cloudy night here in the city and we’ve got enough cover to bounce past the limits to you chop set freaks in the great green dark.

This is your galley rat, Pinch Roller, bringing you hiss-head hedonists freshly unearthed treasure from the caves, as well as newly-coiled chaos like this one from basement operator Quartz Crusher! [fumbling with interface]

[Growin’ Crops on the Side of a Hill plays]

This is what I played in my last post. I can’t take credit for isolating it- one of you asked me for the audio and sent it back to me like this.

I remember this guy. I know who this is.

I think I actually met him once or twice. I definitely had friends who knew him.

He ran an unlicensed radio station out of a studio apartment on McVey, but nobody ever really bothered trying to shut him down because he only ever played submissions sent to him by local musicians, never anything copyrighted. I think he kept it going for… god, five or six years?

And the only reason it stopped is… because his building fell into the Sinkhole.

[EERIE SOUND]

A lot more than a hundred-and-twelve people fell into the Hole when it opened up, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that this guy isn’t one of the ones who came back out, because the first thing we did when we were put into quarantine during the Fling was figure out who knew who.

Any copies of this guy’s broadcasts that might’ve existed fell into the Hole with him. His broadcast range was tiny- a couple of blocks on a good day- and he didn’t prerecord anything, didn’t write anything down, didn’t have an email, wouldn’t even take digital submissions- you had to send him physical media for him to play your shit, like literally send him a mixtape. There is a zero percent chance that he was secretly recording his broadcasts and uploading them.

I don’t think he even had internet.

So the chances of someone just happening to have a recording of this guy’s broadcasts are… astronomically small, and if someone did, it’d be… a cellphone recording, not a tape.

I don’t know if it’s one signal or a bunch, but I know it’s not coming from the tapes.

It’s coming from the Hole.

I don’t know how that’s possible or what it means, but… I don’t see what else it could be.

I mean, obviously I could be overlooking something and there could be a perfectly reasonable explanation for this, but if there is, I’m not seeing it.

I think people tend to forget this, but before the Hole opened up, there was a part of the city there- and I lived in it for a long time. I remember what it was like.

I remember complaining about how drivers would stop their cars halfway across the crosswalk in front of the JMB. I remember going to the Jewish bakery on Montgomery on my walk home from work. I remember when the city sent riot police to disperse protestors in front of the prominently “one-woman, one-man” evangelical church that opened over on First.

I remember that one really well.

I knew that neighbourhood. I knew those people.

And I know, as crazy as it sounds, that these things, these signals- they’re sounds from that part of the city. Like hearing a distant heartbeat.

Um.

That’s everything I’ve got for you today.

I’ll update when I’ve got more.

Stay safe and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

I’m right. I know I am.

I found something. It’s not a radio broadcast, it’s… some sort of dictation, like dictated notes, and it’s from inside the JMB.

Or the “Innes and Montgomery Institute of Research and Development,” I guess, but nobody ever called it that, not even after they changed the name. 

Let me play it- you’ll see what I mean.

[EXPERIMENT NOTES]

Dr. Hyles: Fourth quarter, 5-Day Polyhymnia Dosage Refinement Test, Day 2.

Adding 2 microliters of… [sighs] compound TH7F-34 to wells A1 through A3 of plate one.

Loading ten micromolar group into the flow cytometer as we speak. [sound of something being loaded] Proportion of fluorescing cells is seventy percent, with a cell density of 941 cells per milliliter-

[right-side orientation, a little tinny] Dr. Morris: Have you checked the sample temperature, Florence?

Dr. Hyles: [groans, moves right] Tim, I told you I’d be in 5G today!

Dr. Morris: [beat] Sasha?

Dr. Hyles: Yes! Move to another room- I can’t have you talking over me while I’m dictating notes.

Dr. Morris: You move. You know I prefer to work in 5B.

Dr. Hyles: [tightly] I can’t move, Tim, I’m in the middle of a cell count!

[EXPERIMENT NOTES END]

Did you hear that? 5B and 5G. Those don’t sound they’d be next door to each other, do they?

Remember this?

[INTERVIEW EXCERPT]

TectoVision Employee: I don’t have to guess- it was something about the way the vents were positioned. You could be all the way over in 2F and somebody would say something in 2A and it’d sound like they were standing right next to you. We started planning around it- if me and Carlos wanted to talk logistics, we’d have to go over and tell the folks in the other room to can it or get lost for half an hour just so we could hear ourselves think.

[INTERVIEW EXCERPT ENDS]

It’s the exact same acoustic issue as the TectoVision staff were having- the exact same.

This recording is from inside the JMB, which means it’s from Calliope Research, and that means it’s not a broadcast. You can tell just from listening to it that it’s not for public consumption.

Nothing Calliope did was for public consumption.

Sometimes I think they bought that building specifically because it was so ugly, like they hoped it would discourage people from even wanting to look at it.

You know that string of letters and numbers? Towards the beginning of the clip- TH, uh… one second.

TH7, uh, F34. At a glance, you might think that was a chemical structure or something, but it’s not. I tried looking it up.

It’s a code, probably specifically intended to make it completely impossible to know what they’re talking about unless you have access to some sort of key.

Doesn’t that seem kind of weird for someone who’s taking notes in a corporate lab? Notes that nobody else is ever likely to hear in the first place?

If what you’re worried about is a hypothetical spy using your building’s fucked up acoustics to overhear the details of an experiment from four or five rooms away, maybe not.

That sort of paranoid would be very on-brand for Calliope.

Calliope was infamous for that.

They were so notoriously secretive about their work that making wild guesses about it was a running joke on CPPL. 

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, these two women from the neighbourhood, Tonia and Charlene, would do this half-hour talk segment, and it always started with a game called Chief of all Muses.

[LOUD, EERIE NOISE]

Each of them would suggest the most outlandish thing they could think of that day, and then listeners would call in to vote on which they thought sounded more likely.

Here’s the thing: in case you’re unfamiliar, the phrase “chief of all muses” comes from the poets Hesiod and Ovid, who both used it to refer to the muse of epic poetry.

Calliope is the muse of epic poetry.

They never said outright what the game was about, but we all knew. Everybody knew. All you had to do was search the name.

It didn’t help that none of Calliope’s staff were from the area. Folks almost never saw them outside the building, and everybody who did said they tended to be kind of terse and evasive even if you tried to talk to them about things that were completely unrelated to their research. There was actually a rumour going around that they weren’t allowed to talk to us, weren’t supposed to interact with the locals. 

And, I don’t know if any of you would remember this because it was only mentioned briefly in that documentary excerpt I shared, but the site the JMB was built on used to be a community park.

That’s important.

I moved to that area a while after Calliope acquired the building, but what I was always told was that before that, back when TectoVision was there and afterwards, when the building was empty, people would still go and have picnics on the lawn and under the trees and… and the biggest problem anyone ever encountered was a problem with the design of the JMB itself.

Apparently, the way the windows were shaped and oriented meant that at certain times of day, certain windows would focus the light they reflected into a point on the ground… and sometimes they would set the grass on fire.

But because the visual aspect of the building was so important, instead of doing anything about it, Soper Realty set up this automated sprinkler system that went off at the specific times of day that the lawn was most likely to catch fire.

So you could just be having a nice lunch with your family and suddenly get fucking soaked because it was August and Soper had updated the sprinklers to account for the fact that the current position of the sun meant the JMB was trying to commit arson slightly earlier in the day than you’d expected.

Supposedly, the front of the building was the worst for it: the whole façade was glass, and because the road leading up to it was asphalt, sometimes it’d get so hot it could actually melt the soles of your shoes.

Couple people filmed themselves frying eggs in front of the JMB just to prove a point- you might still be able to find those videos somewhere. I’m not sure.

All that stopped the second Calliope moved in. Not the JMB laser window issue- the “people actually having fun with the wacky properties of the building nobody wanted built there in the first place” issue.

When I lived there, not only had Calliope put up fences around the entire property, they also had security patrolling the lawns to detain anyone who tried to get inside, even if they clearly weren’t trying to approach the building.

[laughs quietly]

One time, a local birdwatcher got in a huge amount of trouble just for pointing her binoculars at a tree that happened to be inside the fence- she was an eighty-five-year-old Uruguayan woman who barely spoke English, but Calliope made such a fucking production of it that she made it onto the local news.

She actually became a bit of a celebrity after that- a year or two later, CPPL organized a volleyball tournament to fundraise for local wildlife preservation, and the winning team called themselves the Peeking Luisas.

Calliope was so outrageously hush-hush about what they were doing that it was honestly kind of cartoonish. That’s where all the conspiracy theories about them being responsible for the Sinkhole come from. 

I’d probably be more open to the suggestion myself if they hadn’t gone under right after the Hole opened up.

[beat]

I didn’t mean for that to be a pun.

They went bankrupt and were dissolved, is what I was trying to say- though I guess it’s not untrue to say they went under in a literal sense, y’know, since the JMB fell into the Hole.

[LOUD, EERIE NOISE]

Relatable.

But yeah: this audio is from Calliope, from the JMB. There’s no doubt in my mind about that.

And that’s thrown a wrench into my working theory, which is that these signals are the Hole sort of… echoing or repeating broadcasts that were going out at the time it opened up.

I know it sounds a little harebrained at first, but if you… if you consider that me and the other members of the hundred-twelve didn’t age while we were in the Hole, it actually seems pretty plausible that it could be… I don’t know, this moment stuck in time?

The Calliope audio, while it doesn’t necessarily disprove that theory, has created a very weird issue for me.

Why do I have this?

Why is this here?

Why is this audio that was very clearly intended not to be public coming through in such a public and accessible way?

It’s really thrown me for a loop.

What does this mean for the other tapes? Some of this stuff I’m coming across, is it- is it voicemails? Phone calls? People giving voice commands to their smart devices? What am I hearing? What is it that I’m listening to? 

And… if this isn’t constrained by the parameters I’d thought, if these aren’t things that were intentionally broadcast for public consumption, what are the ethical repercussions of that?

I mean, I don’t really give a shit about airing Calliope’s dirty laundry, they’ve been gone for forty years and fuck ‘em anyway, but what if some of this stuff is private- is personal?

Forty years is not that long.

It’s very possible that there are relatives of the original Sinkhole victims who still live in the area.

Again, I know the… relationship to privacy, the way people feel about it- [falters]

But I was in the Hole.

And I know… it would make me really uncomfortable if…

And my friends…

Most of my friends are still in the Hole, and I don’t know… I don’t know how I feel about the idea of coming across one of them.

About hearing one of their voices and having it be… just how I remember it.

Forty years out of sync with the world and… a decade out of sync with me.

I don’t know how I… I don’t know.

[softly] I don’t know.

This isn’t quite what I thought it’d be.

[long pause]

I’m going leave this here.

You’ll hear from me soon.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

[someone shifts in their chair. A phone screen is unlocked, and then their chair creaks again as they lean closer to the microphone and play the following voice clip.]

[POST FROM USER VIDEOHOMOSYSTEM-C]

VideoHomoSystem-C: Everyone’s buzzing about one-thirteen’s last post having gotten pulled in limbo, apparently [near-audible air quotes] ‘at the poster’s request’, but I feel we’re missing the point.

After one-thirteen got into the myst about Calliope, I went off and got myself a little too deep into the corporate substrate of MVM from just post the Sinkhole and figured something out: as it happens, Paradigm Research is a MagneVice holding.

Paradigm, the company that closed off the Hole for [audible air quotes] ‘research’.

Paradigm, the company that has one-thirteen under contract.

Not entirely shocking, I know- feels like most everything is under the thumb of MVM- but if you go looking, the parallels are obvious.

From Calliope, I mean- when you’re looking, the same names are coming up: Doctor Francesca Boyd, Martin Dupont, Mikhail Federov-

And talking of Mikhail Federov, actually, it turns out he’s site director of Paradigm for the Hole! Funny, that.

I’m not saying that after Calliope folded MVM brought it back under another name to keep on at their pet project, but I’m not… not saying that. Seems a little funny that right after one-thirteen puts up the Calliope experiment audio it gets pulled and they go quiet, is all.

I can’t be alone in thinking that, can I?

[END OF POST FROM USER VIDEOHOMOSYSTEM-C]

[speaker leans back in their chair.]

[with thinly-disguised sourness] “Attention everyone: this is a message from your moderators.

It has come to our attention that a recent post in our community may have had the effect of leading users to believe one of our more prominent members is in danger.

As your moderators, we are obligated to remind you that circumstantial evidence of wrongdoing is not sufficient to justify the dissemination of a user’s personal information by staff.

However, we understand and share in your worry, and should further evidence come to light, may reconsider this decision.”

[long, grumpy pause]

I’m not angry.

[deep breath]

Honestly, I’m not even surprised.

What I am… is a little disappointed.

I expect to encounter this sort of behaviour from regular users, at least to some degree.

I don’t expect this sort of behaviour from the moderators. I had honestly thought that a certain amount of common sense was prerequisite for the position.

Paradigm Research being a subsidiary of MagneVice Medical Tech and just happening to have one of the same staff members as Calliope does not make it a rebranded Calliope.

They research the Hole. It makes perfect sense for them to have hired someone who worked in the area and has a personal investment in furthering its research.

On top of that, Mikhail Federov was married- is married, actually- to one Doctor Timothy Morris… who happens to be someone who fell into the Sinkhole when it opened.

Personally, I don’t think a man wanting to be part of a project that might one day bring his husband back is a particularly suspicious coincidence.

The biggest coincidence here is that we’re already a little bit familiar with Doctor Morris. If you had a chance to listen to my last post before I flagged it, you probably remember that one of the people involved was referred to as ‘Tim’.

As it turns out, what we heard was a snippet of conversation between a Doctor Sasha Hyles and a Doctor Timothy Morris.

This isn’t a movie. I haven’t been kidnapped by agents of a nefarious company hellbent on mysterious ends. Nobody forced me to flag my own post.

I flagged my post because it occurred to me that, even with Calliope gone, I might still run into legal issues for posting it. I won’t, so I’ve rescinded the flag, but I don’t regret being careful.

And if I’ve been unusually quiet, it’s because I had a lot to think about. I thought I made that pretty obvious, but I guess nothing is ever obvious anymore unless you’re feeling it yourself, huh?

[pause]

I’m sorry.

I’m just… [sighs] I’m frustrated.

I’m sorry.

I understand that VHS-C’s post made people worry about me… and I think I can also understand how growing up with nerve-tech may have shaped this generation’s relationship with emotions in a way that might make it difficult for you to not assume the worst about any situation you don’t have a direct line into. 

You were worried about me. I’m not blaming anyone for that.

I’m just… it’s just frustrating to me how quickly members of this community are willing to invade my privacy.

I’ve been very clear about how I feel about that.

It is both frustrating and deeply disappointing to me to realize that I am the only one in this relationship who has spent any amount of time considering the feelings of the other.

You were clearly very worried about me.

I mean this in the kindest way possible: that is not the same thing as actually caring about me.

And from my perspective, this behaviour makes me feel an awful lot more like a thing you’re afraid will be taken away from you.

That doesn’t feel great.

I already get treated enough like a thing just for being one of the hundred-twelve.

I’m not an object, and if I do leave this community, that attitude is gonna be why.

Since my privacy apparently doesn’t matter to any of you, sure: I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing instead of posting. I’m sure you’d find out anyway.

[shifts in chair.]

Part of the reason I haven’t been posting is because I’ve been consulting with Paradigm about our discoveries.

With a little persuading, I convinced them to give me permission to continue posting the audio from the tapes on the grounds that, as the people who supplied the necessary materials, you have a right to be involved- but now I almost wish I hadn’t bothered.

Maybe I really should have up and disappeared without a word.

It almost seems like that’s what you wanted to happen.

[pause]

I don’t mean that.

I’m just-

I’m just…

you know what? I lied.

I am angry. I’m hurt.

I’m trying to be understanding and forgiving, but I’m hurt.

I was gone a week. Nothing I said or did should have given you the impression that I thought I was in danger.

But all it took was a single post from a user already notorious for stirring shit up for their own amusement to start an absolute shitstorm-

[LOUD, EERIE NOISE, LOUD AND IMMEDIATE]

[apartment windows audibly rattling]

Do you hear that? Sounds a little bit different, doesn’t it?

I had to move because one of you came to my home.

I had to ask my contact at Paradigm to find me a new apartment while still trying to convince them that you should be allowed to be involved in this project. 

How many times am I going to have to do that?

I’m sure some of you-

[LOUD, EERIE NOISE]

I’m sure some of you have already started calculating my position based on the direction of the sound, haven’t you?

That’s what you did last time, right?

[pause]

I’m trying really hard not to be angry, but honestly? I feel like I have every right to be.

I know things have changed.

I know that.

[LOUD, EERIE NOISE]

I really do know that.

[long pause]

I’m going to let myself be a little… a little mean here, and say something I would normally keep to myself.

Of everyone in this community, I am probably the least likely to get myself disappeared by a malignant corporate entity, purely because I grew up in an age where the default method of defense to that sort of thing was not to just let it happen and trust your friends to save you.

I’m fairly young, but I’m also kind of old, and you know what? I can be pretty old-school.

I will be the first to admit that multinational corporations like MagneVice are deeply suspicious. In my opinion, you’re right to be nervous about them. They don’t always have the same goals as their subsidiaries, and my experience has been that they’re usually up to unsavoury shit.

That’s not a reason why you should go poking around in their business, it’s a reason why you shouldn’t.

If I start feeling like someone’s coming to get me, I’m not going to send out an S.O.S. to the community and go in headfirst, I’m going to bug out and hide in an abandoned building for a while.  

What’re they going to do, use facial recognition to track me? They can’t account for different patterns of sinkage to tell people with cranial asterikoiloptosis apart because it doesn’t recognize us as having faces.

Or maybe they’ll just pull me into a white van in the middle of the night- except you can’t really do that to someone like me. We’re maybe the least grabbable people on Earth, because it’s incredibly fucking difficult to tell where our sinkage patterns are when we’re wearing clothes.

So if you were to, say, try and grab me by the arm or shoulder, there’s a very real possibility you might get a fistful of fabric and go elbow-deep into the void.

There’s only one other person I know of in this community who would be as difficult to kidnap as me, and that’s nevverhappy, who I will note was one of the few people in my corner during this fiasco.

I did notice that, and I’m grateful. None of this is directed at you. 

Congratulations on your surgery, by the way. I hope you recover quickly.

But yeah.

To the rest of you: the people you should be worrying about are yourselves and each other, because if somebody was going to try and make me do something I didn’t want to, this would be the place to start.

At this point in my life, this community is the closest thing I have to a family. That’s why I put up with the shit you do.

I am an extremely un-kidnappable person.

Unless you also have a head full of stars, you’re not.

I am going to take a little bit of a hiatus while I sort through these tapes, and I swear to god, if I come back to find out that one of you has gotten yourself into trouble with MagneVice because you wouldn’t stop poking your nose into places it doesn’t belong, I’m going to lose my fucking mind.

Here’s looking at you, VideoHomoSystem-C. Keep your shit stirring manageable while I’m gone. I’m not asking.  

Now.

You won’t hear from me for a little while, but I will be back. Nothing bad is going to happen.

I’m not going off to do anything reckless. I’m just going to go through some tapes, isolate some signals, and cool my head.

I’m not like the rest of you. It’ll be fine. I will be fine. Try not to get too anxious. Take up a hobby.

And please, for the love of god, behave.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

[LOW, THRUMMING AMBIENCE]

SINKHOLE was written and produced by Kale Brown.

In order of appearance:

Starring Amy Y. as the narrator of Jacksonesque.

Starring Elias Taylor as Kennedy Jackson.

Starring Josh LeCompte as Soper Realty board member Matthew McConnaugh and Alice Kyra as Soper Realty board member Kathleen Strike.

Starring Rebecca M. as Eileen Acton and Jesse Hall as Anonymous TectoVision Employee.

Starring S.J. Ryker as NEVROS Advertisement Narrator, and Merry N., [REDACTED], and Jesse Hall as the NEVROS ad shills.

Starring Alice Kyra as the Influencer.

Starring Shay v. G. as Alan’s Neighbour.  

Starring [REDACTED] as the Poop Deck’s galley rat, DJ Pinch Roller. Music was ‘Growin Crops on the Side of a Hill’ by Sex is for Parents.

The Jirelli’s Convenience jingle features both the voice of and music composed by Amy Y.

Starring Cam Clark as Doctor Sasha Hyles and Kris Allison as Doctor Timothy Morris.

And finally, starring Merry N. as community user VideoHomoSystem-C.

Special thanks to Elias Taylor for scientific consulting. Be sure to look him up if you’d like to read his work on nuclear receptor evolution.

Additional thanks to Cory Brown, whose enthusiasm for this project was instrumental in it coming to fruition.

SINKHOLE will return for season two when it’s good and ready. Follow us on Twitter as @sinkholepodcast for more information.

Stay safe out there, and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

#0011 – #0020

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

Before any of you get too excited, I want to make it clear I’m not recording this because I’m ready to… jump back into the spotlight.

I mean, I get it. I get why people are worried. I’m making this post because recently there has been a… a rapid escalation in the number of people getting freaked out over reports that something is happening with the Hole.

[sighs heavily]

I don’t think there’s anything I could say that could ever make you understand how mind-bending it is… that it is… [falters again]

[slowly, and then with more certainty] The way news journalism specifically has changed with the NEV is… maybe the first thing I remember really, really noticing and struggling with since I came out of the Hole.

Things like neurotech and… I mean, that was science-fiction stuff. The concept was already there. It was just… fiction.

[stumbling] People like to, uh- I mean, people used to like to kind of joke about what it would be like- what somebody from a century ago would think about modern technology if they saw it- like, “if Marconi came forward in time and saw the modern global communication structure, his head would fuckin’ explode,” type thing.

But now that I’m… now that I’m in in literally that position, I guess… I think we never really gave them enough credit.

[AN UNFAMILIAR MUFFLED THRUMMING DRONE BEGINS TO FADE IN. IT IS PRESENT THROUGHOUT THE NEXT FEW MINUTES.]

[A FAMILIAR EERIE SOUND]

It was really not that hard for me to get to used to the idea of the NEV.

It was a lot different than I expected, and I still don’t really understand it- I don’t think you really can if you’re not part of it, but it never really blew my mind for being what it was, y’know?

 I was already primed and ready to accept the existence of a sort of… technological, experiential… communication hivemind? Sorry, I know that’s wrong and kind of reductive, but… you know what I mean.

Or, if you don’t: try to forgive me, I’m old and I can’t help it.

So yeah, the NEV was never the problem.

What’s happened to journalism… I look at it and I completely understand how it happened- it was already starting, even before I fell into the Hole, with smartphones and streaming and the fact that basically anybody who wanted to could become an on-site amateur reporter, essentially, but-

Never in a thousand years would I have made the call that… that career journalism would become not only a largely freelance venture, but… [falters] you have… fuckin’ news-fluencers. I can’t even call it gonzo journalism because that would suggest the existence of something else, and there just is nothing else anymore.

The NEV… the way it’s changed interpersonal relationships, and the impact it’s had on honesty and transparency and… and the ability to keep secrets…

What it’s done to broadcasting culture is honestly incredible.

And I mean that both the way it sounds and… also in the original sense of the word.

It’s completely unbelievable. It’s beyond belief.

Like I said, I get it. I completely understand how and why this happened.

The fact that… [faltering] I still have trouble communicating when it comes to this.

In the now, the current moment, you… I dunno, tune into your preferred source of news on the NEV and you know that they believe what they you are telling you. And that’s good.

It’s not infallible, and I think about that a lot- I mean, all it really, actually takes is one person who believes the grift to sell it to everyone else- but it’s also- it’s not bad. It’s not a bad thing.

What bothers me is what it’s done to… [laughs disbelievingly] the concept of sources. Real, reliable sources.

Nobody looks at the root of things anymore- they believe, so you believe, and that- I guess that’s probably actually fine if the line of communication is unbroken all the way to its source and everyone involved is acting on good, critically-examined information, but that’s…

Hey, that’s not how people work.

It’s such a utopian idea of how people behave- and I’m not even necessarily talking about bad faith actors here, I’m talking about the fact that not everyone looks at information and questions whether or not it’s true… even if the original source…

[deep inhale]

…is not on the NEV.

Speaking of original sources that are not on the NEV and are somewhat unverifiable: I found the original source of the reports on the Sinkhole.  

It’s a guy named Emrys Lorde, and he is… [laughs quietly]

Before the Sinkhole, before the NEV, there existed a thing called tabloid journalism. A lot of you are probably familiar with it specifically from scans of old newspapers with splashy headlines like, “True Love: Lost Hiker Contessa Ward Claims She’s Bigfoot’s Bride!” or “In Paw-suit of Justice: Talking Dog Owes Alberta Woman Child Support!” or “ObSEXtion! Royal Romp Stuns British Public! But Why Has the Queen Stayed Silent?” and then there’s, like, a picture of a man with a dog’s head or an alien getting married to a prize-winning racehorse or…

You know.

And those are fun, yeah, but the problem with them is they kind of obscure the full picture of what tabloid journalism actually was.

Most tabloid journalism wasn’t… it wasn’t that over-the-top.

[long pause]

The thing is, the secret to a really good grift has always been the same: you have to keep your lies grounded enough in reality for people to believe them.

It’s less cryptids and chimeras and more… speculating about celebrities’ sex lives and accusing politicians of money laundering and… basically anything titillating enough to grab attention without quite stepping over the line and getting yourself sued.

It’s bad faith journalism at its finest: it exists to sell a headline, not to disseminate useful information to the public. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it does make a certain amount of sense that it’s managed to stick around in one form or another, even in a world with the NEV.

When I was a kid working the counter at a gas station, most of the people I saw buying tabloids didn’t really give me the vibe that they considered them factual sources, and I think it’s probably the same now.

The enjoyment was in the possibility that these things could be true. The maybe of it all.

And I think that specifically is the real and present danger this kind of journalism presents here, in the now, with the NEV: all it really takes is one person who does believe it, because their believing it means other people will encounter that belief and be inclined to believe also.

So, let’s say, just as an example, you’ve got a guy who is not on the NEV and he’s running around, broadcasting [audible air quotes] “insider scoops” about the Hole from “anonymous sources” within Paradigm, and…

That’s pure tabloid.

Full disclosure: I did not go as far as to watch any of his content. As a rule, I try not to give traffic to grifters, and I would encourage you to do the same.

People like this, they feed on the attention. It’s what they want.

Don’t give it to them.

Anyway, yeah: if you have to take news about the Sink from somebody off-NEV, take it from me. I guarantee you I’ve gotten a hell of a lot closer to the Sinkhole than whoever this fucking guy is.

He’s not even the normal kind of sunk. Man’s never seen the sinklight in his life and wants to act like an expert.   

[beat] Sorry- just don’t encourage him, okay?

As revolutionary as this might sound, sometimes weird, inexplicable things like a giant fucking hole in the ground do weird and inexplicable things like… whatever the fuck it’s been doing recently. Honestly, nothing that’s happened here in the last little while has been weird enough for me to have noticed, and I’ve lived here… Jesus, basically since the Fling.

The Hole acts up sometimes. What it’s doing right now as normal as anything it does can be, I promise.

Don’t worry.

[pause]

Since I’m already here and already talking, I might as well talk about something relevant.

I mean, first: once again, no, the content I’ve been posting is not a secret message, it’s not a code, it’s not a cry for help, it’s not… it’s not anything other than what it is.

I’ve just… I’ve been putting up some of the stuff I pulled from the tapes and isolated because I thought it might be of interest to you.

And, um… I actually had someone reach out to me because they recognized the person on one of the clips I posted as a family member. I already talked to the person who sent in the tape and I talked to Paradigm and… we’re going to give the tape to the family. Something to have, you know?

I just wanted to talk about it a little because it’s very possible the same thing might happen again, and I wanted to get a read on how people feel about that. About… letting families have the tapes.

A tape with an intrusive signal of a missing loved one on it might not sound like much, but it’s something, you know?

If you’re one of the people who sent one in and don’t want to give your opinion publicly, you can message me directly to let me know.

[long pause]

Yeah.

Uh…

Stay safe and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

[A LOUD AND UNFAMILIAR MUFFLED THRUMMING DRONE BEGINS TO FADE IN. IT IS PRESENT THROUGHOUT THE NEXT FEW MINUTES.]

[MUFFLED, A FAMILIAR LOUD, EERIE NOISE]

You wanna hear? Hm? Okay.

Uh… hold on a second. I’ve gotta turn the gain down before I open the window or it’s gonna peak.

[A knob is turned.]

[A HIGH, STRANGE TONE BEGINS TO RISE IN VOLUME AND THEN QUIETS SIGNIFICANTLY.]

[A window opens, and we are confronted with a wall of sound.]

[LOUD, EERIE NOISE]

[Narrator speaks inaudibly over the noise.]

[Window shuts, dampening noise immensely. It is still quite loud.]

[A knob is turned, bringing the ambient sound back to normal, and then a heavy set of drapes is pulled across the window, dampening the MUFFLED EERIE SOUND slightly.]

[The microphone is jostled as it is removed from the window. Footsteps cross the floor away from the window. A wheeled chair rolls across the floor.]

I don’t know if you could actually hear anything I was saying, so I’ll say it again: this is what’s been going on. This is what we’re hearing down here near the Hole.

Also, to those of you who asked: no, I didn’t- I haven’t moved again.

Paradigm was kind enough to send somebody to improve the soundproofing in my apartment after I made my last audio post- uh, wait- sorry, um… I mean the post before last.

The one before I took my… sort of hiatus.

Anyway- no, I haven’t moved. The Hole is just as goddamn loud as always, I just don’t have to hear it as much- and on bad days, yeah, my apartment still shakes.  

But yes! This is it. This is the spooky sound that’s scared a nation with just a little help from one Mister Emrys Lorde and his [with disdain] Physical Truth.

Which, now that you’ve all taken the time to explain it to me, sounds like… like a combination of freelance sensationalist disaster journalism and one-guy-with-a-mic solo opinion podcasting.

[pause to collect thought]

I know things have changed. [sighs] I say that just so much, and I mean it every time.

Things have changed.

And I know that.

But there is fucking nothing anyone will ever be able to do or say that will convince me a guy whose idea of content is running around taking anonymous testimonies from people who aren’t willing to substantiate their claims or identify themselves is… [falters]

At best, at absolute best, this guy is a patsy… and if he is, I just feel kind of bad for him.

[LOUD, EERIE NOISE AND THRUMMING FADE. AMBIENT MUSIC RETURNS.]

But that’s assuming-

Look: me believing that involves having to accept the idea that at no point during the last… what, three years? At no point did he knowingly receive and disseminate information from an obviously unreliable source.

It’s a lot easier for me to believe all of his sources are fabricated than it is to believe all of his sources are sincere.

I’m sorry, but… no matter how much some of you seem to like this guy, I’m never going to be able to look at him and see anything but a grifter.  

And I still see… a grifter.

The Hole is making a noise.

It’s making a weird noise.

It’s making a noise that isn’t at all much weirder than the noises it normally makes!

Listen to me: a strange sound coming from the Sinkhole isn’t the same as a strange sound coming from your- your fridge or your heating system or your air conditioner.

It’s not something you hear and then call someone in to diagnose- the reason you do that for something like a household appliance is because you don’t actually have to know anything to know the presence of an unexpected sound indicates some potential disruption in function. You call someone because even if you don’t know how it works, you know it’s not supposed to rattle or moan or drip.

That’s not something we can say about the Sinkhole.

We don’t know why or even how the Sinkhole makes those sounds. Any of them.

So, there’s really no way for us to know if the sounds it makes today are any less or more weird than the sounds it makes tomorrow or the sounds it made last week.

There’s no metric of normalcy, just what we’ve gotten used to expecting and what we haven’t.

Until such a time as the Hole starts actually doing something, there is really no goddamn point in getting worked up.

It’s like living next to a volcano and getting scared not because it started smoking, but because it stopped.

Or- no, not even that! It’s still smoking, the smoke just looks different.

Just… yeah, if the ground starts shaking, sure, then I’ll worry, but before then there’s really no way to know if something’s wrong. [exasperated laugh]

It’s a waste of energy to get freaked out over.

[sighs]

[almost to themself] I mean, this… I mean, this is relevant, right? It’s definitely relevant.

[long pause]

Why don’t we talk about… the importance of substantiating information?

‘Cause this is actually something I have noticed is a pretty significant problem in this community, and it was already kind of a problem before, when I was… not growing up, I guess, just… before the Hole.

Over my time in this community, you might’ve noticed a trend of me quietly slipping into threads and posting links or fun little facts here and there when somebody shared something that turned out to be… inaccurate, but I never really said anything because this community’s primary focus is the retrieval and restoration of information from older devices, so… what’s on them and how true it is…

It’s not that it doesn’t matter.

It’s just that a lot of this stuff is very subjective and very personal, so things can get a little sticky when you’re trying to draw the line, you know?

But I think I need to… I need to finally draw the line.

There’s sort of two separate issues at play here: the first is misconstrued satire, and that shit is older than dirt.

I’m sure when Jonathan Swift wrote A Modest Proposal, never for a fucking second did he think someone would read it and earnestly believe he was proposing that the solution to the poverty of Irish farmers was for them to sell their children to the rich as meat.

I believe it was “stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled.” I think that’s what he said.

It’s a cartoonishly evil thing to suggest. No one could possibly believe he was sincere.

And yet.

The issue with satire is the further it gets from the context in which it was created, the more likely it is to be misunderstood.

I remember being in high school and getting into an argument with one of my classmates because he was convinced A Modest Proposal was… well, exactly what it looked like.

Because to him, looking at this outrageous thing, this thing that was written almost three hundred years ago- yeah, sure, maybe people were just like that back then, y’know?

So… sometimes, someone will post something here and I will look at it and I will know it is satire, and was intended to be satire, because I recognize the context in which it was created.

And then I have to ask myself, “is it worth it?” Is it really worth it to take the time to correct someone about the sincerity of a forty-year-old meme talking about how to correctly pair detergent pods and wine vintages? [sighs]

If I think it’s something one of you might actually do, I say something. Otherwise, I usually don’t.

But I think everyone here could benefit from a little more critical engagement.

Especially when it comes to the second type: intentional fakes. Forgeries.

Hoaxes.

Everyone do me a favour, and just… just go take a moment to look up the Cottingley Fairies.   

That’s C-O-T-T-I-N-G-L-E-Y. Cottingley. [sighs] Just to get a visual.

In brief, in the early 1900s, a couple of girls- young girls- took the time to stage a pair of photographs that appeared to show them in contact with fairies.

Now, obviously not everybody believed these photos were genuine, but some people did… including their own mother.

She believed, and because she believed, she presented those photos to other people, some of whom also believed… [inhales] and one of those people was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who you may recognize as the author of Sherlock Holmes.

Once Doyle got involved, those two photos of the Cottingley Fairies went on to be published and shared and the girls were given the resources to take more photos- and they did.

They went right ahead and staged three more photos of the Cottingley Fairies.

I think that was… 1920ish?

Neither of them admitted it was a hoax until the 1980s.

Sixty years is a long time.

And while little girls taking pictures of fairies might seem pretty innocuous, all things considered, I’d bet you good money that at least one person’s life was ruined by it.  

Because that’s the nature of falsehoods when they’re told at that scale- well-meaning people who want to believe in something incredible get swept up in the momentum of what should be an amazing revelation, and they go chasing answers that don’t exist and can’t be found.

[getting a little emotional] People have had their lives ruined by things like this, and a lot of the time, it’s just because they dared to believe something unbelievable. Believed it uncritically and without question.

And this something that always used to get me a lot of flack, but maybe people will be more receptive to it now: I don’t think it’s right to mock people for wanting to believe in the sincerity of others.

I just don’t think it’s fair to blame somebody for being the victim of a con, no matter how obvious that con might feel to you. 

And I know that makes me sound like a hypocrite because of what I’ve said about Emrys Lorde, but it doesn’t- it isn’t. My saying that and my saying this… those aren’t two separate things.

They’re the same thing.

I’m not angry at you for not knowing better. You shouldn’t have to know better.

It’s because there are people in this world who will create falsehoods just to… just to say they did. Just to glory in how many people they led astray… if that wasn’t the case, I’d never say a word about it.

Because I don’t think it’s wrong of you to not know better… just that there are people who will take advantage of that.

And I can’t stop them. I can’t make them not do that.

It’s not within my power.  

So, all I can do is… try to teach you to be a little less trusting, as fuckin’ grim as that sounds.

[Pauses to compose themself.]

Um…

It’s always been easier to create fakes and forgeries using older tech. Always. Less layers of authentification, fewer tells. Less fidelity. There’s a reason photos of ghosts and cryptids and UFOs look like that: poor light balance, blurriness, graininess… it’s so much easier to hide or explain away the tells of a forgery in the technological limitations of an old machine.

And this community- this community is open and excited and always ready for the next adventure.

You send each other things and you receive the things you’re sent in full, quantifiable faith that the sender is in earnest.

But I don’t think it would hurt, when presented with something unbelievable by someone who believes it, to consider just who might’ve given it to them.

I’m not asking you not to trust each other, or not to trust the data.

I’m just saying… maybe there’s an adventure to be found in the truth beneath the truth.

Maybe something can be just as exciting for knowing it isn’t real as it can be for being real.

If that makes sense.

This is getting a little long, um, and I’ve got some stuff I’ve got to do, but I’ll pick up and talk more about this later, okay?

Stay safe and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

I’m back.

Sorry for the delay- I have something for you.

First, listen to this.

[VOICE CLIP]

Ropeless Romantic: Ep-i-sode six! We’re here. We’ve made it.

Episode six is my favourite. [sound of RR struggling for a moment, a chair creaking, then a cork popping] There we go. Okay, I’ve got my bottle of rosé open and I plan… to have a sensible two or three glasses before the night is through.

Let’s talk about Dennis- we need to talk about Dennis.

A lot of people have already talked about the way the edit makes him look in this episode, and honestly?

So what?

Don’t tell me about good television. I know about good television- and this? Is it.

So.

Episode six.

Let’s start at the beginning.

[END OF VOICE CLIP]

Sounds perfectly valid, right? There’s nothing particularly strange about what I just played, apart from maybe a certain moral bankruptcy.

Except… this is what this recording was originally.

[ORIGINAL VOICE CLIP]

Ropeless Romantic: [hitting every syllable like a beat] Ep-i-sode six! We’re here. We’ve made it.

Oh boy.

Alright, you know how I said episode three was my favourite? Well

Episode six is my least favourite. Knot in Love? More like Knot in Hell– [stops, mutters to himself] That’s not.. anything, that doesn’t make sense. Knotting Hell?

What I’m saying is this is the worst goddamned episode in either season and I hate it. Okay, every single person who worked on this episode should have lost their job. Phillip Mancini is still producing the show for Styles and Worldly, and that’s a travesty.

[sound of RR struggling for a moment, a chair creaking, then a cork popping] There we go. Okay, I’ve got my bottle of rosé open and I plan… to have a sensible two or three glasses before the night is through. [dramatic eugh]

Let’s talk about Dennis, alright, we need to talk about Dennis- forget Kevin, we need to talk about Dennis.

A lot of people have already talked about the way the edit makes him look in this episode, and honestly?

They’re right.

Okay, sure, it’s good television to have a [audible air quotes] “villain”.  So what? It’s dishonest, it’s awful. Don’t tell me about good television. I know about good television- and this? Isn’t it.

So.

Episode six.

Let’s start at the beginning: Dennis is an angel and he deserves better than this.

[END OF ORIGINAL VOICE CLIP]

This is why you can’t always trust your ears.

If you don’t recognize it- uh, you probably don’t- this is a clip from episode six of The Ropeless Romantic, a podcast that discusses and reacts to the show Knot in Love.

For a little bit of context, since most of you probably won’t be familiar with it: Knot in Love was a short-lived reality show that aired when I was- uh, god… I was still in school, so younger than- I would’ve been a teenager, let’s leave it at that.

Anyway, the basic premise was that they took these twenty-four lifestyle members of the kink community and put them through a series of challenges to determine their familiarity with different types of BDSM and the use of safety tools and aftercare and- I mean, obviously this was daytime television, like pre-NEV mass media, so it all was pretty sanitized.

[AN UNFAMILIAR MUFFLED THRUMMING DRONE BEGINS TO FADE IN. IT AND THE ACCOMPANYING FAMILIAR EERIE SOUND ARE SOMEWHAT QUIETER THAN USUAL.]

Full disclosure: I never really watched it. I’m not a reality TV person- uh, but it’s my understanding that they tended to lean pretty heavily on stuff like rope bondage and roleplay because it didn’t get into the same sort of unsafe-for-primetime territory as a lot of the other stuff did.

It sort of started out as this elimination challenge type thing and then as the challenges went on, you sort of naturally started developing certain elements of drama: people feuding, people falling in love, etcetera, etcetera.

I think the idea was that it was originally supposed to be kind of educational? Making people more aware of kink culture and safe sex practices… but it’s reality television, so of course the producers had the whole thing cut in the most dramatic and inflammatory way possible. Kinksters hated it, there was a lot of discussion about how it misrepresented the BDSM community- it only barely got renewed for a second season, and it never got renewed for a third.

I know it probably seems like I’ve gone off on a tangent, but this is actually extremely relevant to what I was talking about: one of the biggest points of critique consistently levied at reality shows had to do with “confessionals,” these solo asides in which contestants would respond to things that had happened on set.

[LOUD EERIE SOUND AND UNFAMILIAR THRUMMING DRONE FADE OUT. AMBIENT MUSIC RETURNS]

In the interests of so-called “good television”, contestants would often be encouraged to play into the sort of character they had been assigned if they wanted to stay on the show, and a lot of the confessionals would involve talking about other contestants in ways that were unflattering or sometimes even actively disparaging.

Now, obviously not everyone who decides to go on a reality TV show is automatically a terrible person who’s willing to throw their castmates under the bus for ratings and the promise of a prize… which is where the editing comes in.

I picked this episode of The Ropeless Romantic because Knot in Love was actually legendary for this: if there’s one thing you can say about members of the kink community, it’s that most of them are pretty attentive and conscientious. You kind of have to be when your whole thing has to do with balancing power dynamics in intimacy.

It comes with the territory.

And with that in mind, part of the reason there was such a huge backlash from the BDSM community had to do with the way confessionals were being edited. Comments were being taken out of context or applied to different situations than they were made in response to, and in one particularly notorious example, the production team hacked together different parts of multiple confessionals from a single contestant to make it sound like they were saying something they’d never said.

And then, in order to hide the obvious continuity issues caused by cutting together multiple videos taken at different times, they applied the audio as a voiceover to a replay of the scene they were making it look like a response to.

And it worked.

The contestant in question was vilified. For years afterwards, people really, truly believed he was some sort of manipulative abuser, despite the majority of his fellow contestants coming forward to dispute and denounce the way the production team had portrayed him on the show.

The reason it worked is because humans are, for the most part, visual animals. We’re more likely to perceive minute discrepancies in a visual medium than we are in, say, an audio one.

Now we come full circle, back to my earlier examples: What I’ve done here to poor Ropeless is very similar to a confessional edit- by reworking his audio in a way that changes the meaning of what he’s saying, I’m able to misrepresent his opinions and personality in a way that suits my objective.

In this case, my objective was to show you how deceptive editing works in pre-NEV audio media- and how to identify it on your own.

Now that you’ve listened to the original audio, if you go back and listen closely to my edit, I think you’ll probably be able to identify at least some of the splices I made.

Even if you can’t, and it all still sounds seamless and natural to your ear, that’s not the end of the world: as counterintuitive as this sounds, it is sometimes possible to visually identify manipulated audio.

Looking at the waveform of my edit, you might notice points where it behaves strangely- sudden but subtle shifts in pattern that don’t seem like a natural evolution of the frequency.  

But before you go squinting at waveforms, there is an easier way to do this.

If you are someone unfamiliar with audio and audio editing, you will probably have a better chance looking at the spectrogram.

[AN UNFAMILIAR MUFFLED THRUMMING DRONE BEGINS TO FADE IN. IT AND THE ACCOMPANYING FAMILIAR EERIE SOUND ARE A MORE NORMAL VOLUME.]

It’s a more comprehensive and accessible visual representation of an audio file. To clarify, there are tools and applications you can use to algorithmically identify whether or not audio has been edited, but they pick up a lot of false positives, they miss certain edits that’d be obvious to an experienced editor, and even when they do pick up edits correctly… not all edits are malicious. Some of them are just people cutting out ums or uhs or not even intended to be disguised, like editor’s notes or corrections.

What I want you to look out for are specifically the tells of when something has been moved or removed.

One of the easiest ways to do this as an amateur is to look at background noise- environmental sound. If a recording wasn’t taken in a treated space, you can tell a lot about it based on the sound beneath the sound.

Take a second to look up those videos of people, uh… fuck, what’s it called? Uh… when they’re in the empty houses and they, um…

Urban exploration! People take videos of themselves walking through abandoned buildings room by room, and it’s… weirdly invasive but also really interesting.

You know what, I could just- no. I’m getting off-topic. I can get into spatial recognition of sound some other time if people want me to, that’s not what we’re talking about here.

We are talking about how to identify if audio has been altered in a way that casts doubt on the validity of its contents.

The most obvious tells are environmental sounds that you can hear, because you can identify those just by ear. If an environmental sound cuts-

[sudden silence]

-or changes frequency-

[abrupt change in the LOUD, EERIE SOUND]

-out of nowhere, you know that the remainder of that sound, the natural degradation or evolution of it, has either been suppressed or removed. If this happens in the middle of a sentence, it can mean a couple of things. If the sound disappears and then returns, either somebody got a little too trigger-happy doing noise suppression between words, or something small has been removed. If the sound suddenly stops and is noticeably absent or significantly changed in the next few words, it’s been spliced. Either a big chunk was removed, or things have been shuffled.

I’ll go back and cut those gaps for you so you can hear- will have heard- uh, what I mean. It’s easy for me to give you audible, identifiable examples of this because… Hole.

That’s why I don’t really edit my posts. [soft laugh] The only thing weirder and more distracting than hearing the Hole is hearing the Hole cut in and out.

[LOUD EERIE SOUND AND UNFAMILIAR THRUMMING DRONE FADE OUT. AMBIENT MUSIC RETURNS]

But we don’t all live in the Sink. Environmental sound isn’t always obvious or audible, and when it’s not, you look at the spectrogram. With intrusive environmental noise in a recording, if you do see it, you usually see it at the bottom of the spectrogram because lower frequencies have more penetration- that’s what ends up coming through. And you can recognize them.

For example, a car passing by has a pretty distinctive visual shape: it kinda like tapers out, widening and solidifying as it gets nearer and louder, and then it tapers back in as it recedes into the distance.

On the other hand, things like household electronics, which are fixed and unmoving, tend to show up as either consistent and ongoing or varied but rhythmic sounds.

Now, with something like an air conditioning unit, you’ll usually see an unbroken line just above the bottom of the spectrogram that continues on for as long as the unit is active, but with something like an old computer with a fan-based cooling system, your line usually kicks in, kicks up, and then dies down in a repeating pattern.

You do see that with some higher-frequency environmental sounds, too- for example, if you’re editing something with audible birds in the background, after a while you start to recognize their presence visually as these thin little swooping lines around the midpoint of the spectrogram.

Basically, if you do this sort of thing enough, you’ll start recognizing certain sounds- visually recognizing them.

[pause]

Before you do anything else, though, you should decide whether or not you need to clean up your audio. In recordings with a lot of background noise, all that sound can obscure visual tells.

I’m… not gonna get into how to do that- there are so many resources online that can teach you how to do normalization and noise suppression and EQ and whatever, that shit is older than me.

I will caution you against using prefabbed algorithmic plugins, though, because they’re too smart sometimes. They’re so smart they might scrub away any sign of what you’re looking for along with everything else.

And that’s something to realize: all of what I’m saying is contingent on the assumption that the edit you’re looking for is either older than the NEV or was done by somebody who isn’t proficient in hiding their tracks.

If your editor knows what they’re doing, you might just be shit out of luck. You’re better off doing some good old-fashioned sleuthing on the actual content at that point.

But assuming your edit is old or amateur: uh, speaking of EQ, something you can do is use an EQ to cut away the very bottom of a frequency to make inaudible environmental sounds more visual apparent- that’d be something like zero to fifty hertz if you want to go really gentle and not disrupt low-register sounds, zero to a hundred if you want more visual clarity.

Um…

So, what EQ does when you use it this way is remove anything inside of that frequency range. Visually, it creates a line at the bottom of the spectrogram that separates your low-frequency background noise from the zero hertz ground floor, which helps because… well, it’s… it’s kind of an optical thing?

You might not actually be able to hear any difference, but you’ll see one. It has more to do with how your eyes work than how the sound does.

Having that line under your ambient noise gives you a flat visual plane, a reference point by which to more easily spot subtle variations in the ambient noise above it. You’ve given yourself a ruler, or… a level.

[awkward pause]

I… didn’t mean to turn this into an intro to audio editing class. I mean, I guess it’s relevant to what we do, so… there’s that. It’s on-topic.

I’m not off-topic.

And please understand, before anybody gets carried away: I’m not an expert either. I just have… a little experience with this. It’s something I enjoy.

Honestly, I probably would’ve gone to school for audio engineering if I hadn’t… well, you know.

But now things are different. So different that any skills I developed on my own only have a very limited practical use, so… yeah.

Anyway, ultimately, spotting malicious edits all comes down to recognizing patterns and breaks in those patterns. I don’t think I’ve explained this very well, and there are elements to it that I genuinely couldn’t explain without having to commit to teaching this entire community the fundamentals of video and audio editing, and I don’t- I don’t feel like I’m qualified to do that.

Some of you are definitely more experienced with this than I am, and I’m sure you’ll be very prompt in letting me know all the ways I’ve gotten absolutely everything wrong, so if one of you wants to take the initiative and teach people… cool. Go for it.

But yeah. All this to say: with pre-NEV and off-NEV media, you have to be a little more careful- and always keep an ear out. Clever visual editing will do most of the legwork necessary to ensure your ears don’t catch any audible breaks in rhythm. When you’re watching, you aren’t always hearing, not properly.

And what you can’t see, you might be able to hear- but you have to listen, and you have to be looking.

So… stay safe, stay smart, and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

[A deep inhale, and then a sigh.]

Yes.

Yes, I know.

Yes, I heard.

Yes, I am talking about both things, either thing you might be thinking about.

Yeah.

[pause]

It’s not that I hadn’t heard, it’s… that I was ignoring it.

Unsuccessfully.

For as long as I could.

[heavy sigh]

Yes, I know that the report about the Sinkhole’s behaviour has been confirmed as true. I know they’re looking into it, and I know the businesses operating directly next to the dome have been “encouraged to prepare for the possibility of an extended closure.

Yes. I know. You don’t need to keep telling me.

No, I will not be rescinding anything I have said about Emrys Lorde. The fact that he happens to have turned out to be correct about this one particular thing does not suddenly mean he is a reliable source.

Everybody gets one.

Moments like this I’m glad my grandpa’s gone, because I can hear him and he’d have a fucking field day.

[adopting a gruff, creaky old man voice] “A stopped fuckin’ clock is still right twice a day, [SUDDEN, JARRING CENSOR TONE]. You better teach your little friends a thing or two or they’re gonna get taken for a ride and nobody else is gonna take the blame for it, you hear me?”

[A sudden stop, and small vocalizations.]

[muttering to themself] Okay, did I- Fuck. I’m going to have to edit that out.

I’ll do that after.

[speaking normally] Anyway, the fact that we’re acknowledging that the Hole is acting weird doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It doesn’t change anything!

I don’t know how I could’ve been more clear about this: all we’ve got to compare this “anomalous behaviour” to is the initial Sinkhole event, which nobody saw coming because why would you have, and the Fling, which nobody saw coming because up until that point the Hole was so dark and quiet they just put a gigantic fucking slab over it, stuck a plaque on it, and called it a day!

Maybe some of you don’t know this. A lot of you aren’t local, so you maybe you don’t.

Before the Fling, the research centre operated out of the Amity Crescent mall over on Southsea. They were researching the Hole inside empty shoe stores with all the fixtures shoved to one side under a tarp because Morgan-Terring wouldn’t let them change or remove anything out of a concern it might cause trouble with their tenants.

If you don’t know, the Amity mall is like… old. It was built back when the fashionable thing was to paint absolutely everything shades of pastel, and it still fucking looks like that. Look up pictures! You can find those. It’s… intensely surreal. 

[AN UNFAMILIAR MUFFLED THRUMMING DRONE BEGINS TO FADE IN.]

What I’m saying is we don’t know shit.

Yeah, okay, the Hole is acting up. That still doesn’t mean anything.

[A FAMILIAR LOUD, EERIE SOUND. IT IS VERY LOUD, AND THROUGHOUT THE NEXT FEW MINUTES, THE WINDOWS OF THE NARRATOR’S APARTMENT CAN BE HEARD AUDIBLY SHAKING DURING LOUDER MOMENTS.]

Nothing’s changed since the last time I talked about this. We haven’t learned anything new, we’ve just agreed that whatever the fuck the Hole is doing is outside our tenuous baseline of whatever we think is normal for it.

I don’t wanna fucking talk about this anymore. Let’s talk about the other thing.

We need to talk about the other thing.

Yes, I’ve seen the video.

And yes, it’s real.

I would know.

It’s, um, it’s one of the ones I pulled from the tapes. I was able to find the lady in it and ask her if she’d be comfortable with me releasing it.

She asked me not to.

I guess she wanted to do that herself, or something.

Yeah, she’s telling the truth- well, she’s telling the truth about that being the guy from the Eileen Acton interview. The, um, TectoVision guy. Jim, I guess his name is.

Was? Eugh.

Anyway, I genuinely did not realize he was a local. I mean, TectoVision was gone before I got there. I figured the staff relocated with it when it went. That was pretty standard back in those days- a lot less telecommuting.

[LOUD EERIE SOUND AND UNFAMILIAR THRUMMING DRONE FADE OUT. AMBIENT MUSIC RETURNS]

When I first watched it, I didn’t even put together that the guy in the video was the same guy. It just… made an impression.

It’s kinda why I had the whole urban exploration thing on the brain. I watch and listen to a lot of content now that I’ve gotten the hang of ripping and isolating the signals on the tapes, but this one… this one stuck out to me.

[pause]

But it doesn’t mean anything. He was local. He fell into the Hole. A lot of people fell into the Hole. So many people fell into the Hole that I feel like it’s statistically very reasonable to assume at least one person who fell into the Hole might’ve worked for TectoVision back when it was in the JMB. It’s just a coincidence that this video happens to be of that particular guy.

It does not mean anything.

This is how conspiracy theories start. Coincidences happen and people refuse to accept that they’re coincidences.

Really, honestly- I want you to step back for a moment and ask yourself what’s more believable: the existence of some grand conspiracy where Calliope had advance knowledge of the formation of the Hole and silenced this guy as a whistleblower or… the idea that some guy went on TV once to complain about how much his workplace sucked and then just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time along with thousands of other people, because he lived there.  

Because he did- he lived here.

I don’t know, maybe you forgot, but that’s also how I ended up in the Hole.

By this sort of logic, there must be some sort of [conspiracy voice] sinister link between us- [normal again] me and this guy I never met and literally did not know lived in my neighbourhood.

This is not somebody getting shot in a drive-by. This was a massive natural disaster.

Well, maybe natural’s not the right word for it, but anyway, it would be some kinda overkill if all of this turned out to have been calculated to get rid of one guy who blew the whistle on some bad architecture.

Come on.

It would’ve been faster and cheaper to just shoot him and bribe the cops to call it a mugging gone wrong. It’s not like that’s something that’s never happens.

When I said to examine things critically and not assume everything is exactly as it appears, I did not mean jump to wild conclusions and let them run away with you.

No. Come on.

I know you’re smarter than this. As fun as it seems to go along with something you know is ridiculous, the sort of people who are going to latch onto this aren’t necessarily going to access your sensory data beyond the superficial- or might not be on the NEV. To them, you’re a warm body who agrees with what they’ve decided is true. Because that’s what they want.

To say and to believe that other people agree with them so they can feel as though they are standing bravely in the face of some great and terrible conspiracy only they can defeat.

Do not enable this behaviour. You have a responsibility not to enable this behaviour.

We’ve talked about this. Recently!

When you do this, you’re doubling down on the existence of fairies in a world full of people who could be the next Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- you know better. I know you know better.

People want to believe in things. People want to feel important, and in the know, and like they’re on the edge of some great discovery.

You have a responsibility to them and to each other to at least not be the person enabling the grift.

Please.

I don’t get a lot of chances to spend time with other people who aren’t on the NEV- partially because a… [inhales] A weird number of the people around here seem to believe the NEV is some sort of shadow government plot to mind-control people, but I’ve been kicking around in this… this era of reality?

Ough. Oh god, that makes me sound like a time traveller.

[existential pause]

Am I a time traveller?

[even longer existential pause]

What constitutes time travel?

[pause]

It’s way too fucking early in the day to get this existential- anyway! Anyway.

I’ve been around long enough to have noticed a theme amongst other people who are not on the NEV- kinda touched on it, a little, in one of my earlier audio posts.

There’s a… a gap. A very real and… and ever-widening gap between people who are and are not on the NEV.

A social gap. It’s- it’s actually kind of interesting, in a way? Looking at it from my perspective.

Because it reminds me a bit of the way my grandparents would talk about my classmates having cellphones and laptops and stuff- the way they felt about kids being able to access the internet completely unsupervised, having computers and televisions in their rooms and…

Maybe it makes me more sympathetic to those people, I dunno. But I see it- I see where that fear and hesitation comes from.

It’s not within the scope of their childhoods.

For my grandparents, that was… time, it was generational. For a lot of these people, it’s health, it’s upbringing.

It’s trauma.

It’s knowing the one in a hundred thousand people who got the NEV procedure and had something go really wrong.

It’s having a parent or a sibling or a partner who got on the NEV and got into something or someone that took them away, and blaming that on the technology because it hurts less than looking directly into the face of rejection or abandonment.

Less than having to see yourself mirrored in the eyes of it and asking your reflection,

“Was it me? Was it something wrong with me?”

[uncomfortable pause]

There are a lot of reasons people turn out this way. Turn into people who are vulnerable to the predations of conspiracy, and the gap between NEV users and everybody else seems to be one of them.

It’s, uh- it’s alienating. Especially if you live in an urban environment.

It’s hard to meet people- hard to make friends.

It’s hard to talk to people who are used to communicating through the NEV, because the way you communicate emotions in unassisted conversation, it’s- it’s so much slower, so much less precise.

I get the sense it feels… ponderous, kinda lumbering to them- to you- when I talk to you in person.

And that means your best option is other people who are not on the NEV. [sighs]

And I think I’m just unlucky. [laughs]

It feels like every time I meet somebody I can have conversation with, it’s only a matter of time before they try to sit me down and tell me about how nerve-tech is affecting children’s ability to socialize and creating a culture of toxic communality and breaking down the sense of individual personhood and-

[sighs quietly]

I mean, they said almost the exact same shit about the internet.

[pause]

Everything changes except people.

People stay the same.

Year to year, decade to decade, century to century. People stay the same.

But yeah, I have a lot of sympathy for them- I understand why things are the way they are. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s much easier to let yourself get swept into a sense of community and belonging and… [deciding how to phrase it] reassurance than it is to… side with the side that makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you. If you have to pick a side, it’s easier to pick the side that tells you what you want to hear, even if it’s in the middle of a bunch of stuff you don’t really believe- or don’t start off believing.

This isn’t me making a case for extending compassion to people like me, people who can’t get nevved.

I want to be very clear: I think choosing not to be on the NEV should be a choice people are allowed to make. I think they should recognize that choosing to do so in a world that will make no effort to accommodate them is a commitment, but I think that’s a choice people should be allowed to make without having to worry about… about having people… [sighs]

But it’s always been like that. When I was growing up, if you were the one kid without a cellphone, that wasn’t just something that made you hard to get a hold of and talk to and hurt your ability to connect with your peers, it… it was almost like a mark against your character, in a way.

I don’t know how to explain it.

I never really understood it, so I don’t know how to explain it.

But I see it. I see it, now. I see it happening. Here. In this.

[long pause]

I’m kind of… having a revelation, sorry. Sometimes you just say some shit and realize something about yourself you should’ve clued into a decade ago, I guess.

Anyway, this… wow, Jesus, I think this might be the most wildly off-topic I’ve ever fucking gotten.

We were talking about the Tecto guy tape- the Jim Falk tape.

His name was Jim Falk.

Well, James Falk, I think, but everything I’ve heard suggests the only person who ever called him James was probably his mother.

You know what’s funny? I never even thought to look into if people had figured out who the Tecto guy was.

I mean, like, I’m sort of… loosely in contact with a couple other people who work for Paradigm and I asked them if they knew and one of them did.

[beat]

I mean, uh- when I say people who work for Paradigm, I mean… other members of the hundred-twelve, if that wasn’t obvious. People from the neighbourhood.   

But, uh… yeah, I guess that was a thing people knew. It just didn’t matter enough to become a thing a lot of people knew. It wasn’t a secret. Me not knowing doesn’t it mean it was- I didn’t know a lot of shit.

There are honestly a lot of things I still don’t know, and some of them are things I could probably find out if I bothered to try.

I didn’t know Jim Falk was the Tecto guy from the Eileen Acton interview. I didn’t know Jim Falk.

But I am telling you with one hundred percent certainly that this guy was just a guy… and I can kind of prove it. As much as you can prove anything about a guy who’s not around to speak for himself.

I’m not going to speculate about Miss Laramie’s motives or intentions here. That’s not what I’m trying to do.

All I’m doing is sharing with you a bit of what the Jim Falk tape sounded like before it, uh… [inhales, then wryly] before it got recut for public viewing.

Because I do still have it. That’s the beauty of ripped data- you can give it away without giving it away.

[JIM FALK TAPE CLIP]

[Exterior. Two people intermittently walking through deep grass. Birds in background. Cars faintly audible in the distance.]

Jim Falk: [voice slightly muffled, holding the camera] Okay, camera’s on. This is where you want me to take the shot from?

Wendy Laramie: [slightly apart and to the right] Yeah! How’s it look?

Jim: [a little doubtful] Not… great. The trees are in the way. You can’t really get a good look at the house.

Wendy: That’s okay, there can be a couple trees in the shot. Here, we can move a little closer if it bugs you that much.

[both walking for a moment]

Wendy Laramie: How’s that?

Jim: Better. Ish. [beat] Sorry, why can’t we just shoot it from the road? It’s all open- it’d be a better shot.  

Wendy: In the daytime, sure, but there’s no way to light it from the road and have it look good if we wanna shoot at night. If we shoot from here, we can set up the floodlights over there- [turning away to point] -without them showing up in the shot. If we shoot from the road, people will see them.

Jim: Okay… hold up, please don’t tell me this whole thing is just an excuse to test your “parchment paper mimics natural light in video” hypothesis-

Wendy: [cutting in] Ambient light, Jim- not natural light. [beat, then a little awkward] The blue filter was the natural light thing.

[normally] The parchment paper thing is different- I’ve tried it at home, it works, okay?

The parchment paper diffuses the light- kinda like a lampshade- so if we layer it over the floodlights and place them in the right positions, we can light the shot and make the shadows look natural, even in the dark. We’ll get lots of long shadows and stuff, but it’ll just look like the light is filtering in from a nearby building or something.

Trust me, it’s gonna look great. Come on, let’s try another look through those trees, see how the angle works-

Jim: Okay. Okay, sure. Yeah. But… why?

[both walking again]

Wendy: [amused] What do you mean, why? It’s gonna look good. [beat] It’ll really amp up the energy, make the house look [wiggling fingers demonstratively] spooky.

Jim: [stops walking with a heavy sigh]

Wendy: [continues walking for a moment before noticing] What’s up?

[sounds of footsteps in the grass as Wendy doubles back to get closer]

Jim: It’s not that I don’t understand what you’re saying, but… hey, Dee? Why?

Wendy: Why what?

Jim: Why the angles? Why the floodlights?

Wendy: I told you, if we don’t have the floodlights, the shots’ll be too dark, and if we try to shoot from the road, they’ll show up in the frame-

Jim: [interrupting] I know that, Dee. I’m not asking how it works. I’m asking why we need to shoot the house at night. We didn’t shoot the inside at night.

Wendy: Because it’ll look good. [guilt-tripping] Don’t you want this to look good?

Jim: Sure I do. But I don’t understand why “looking good” has gotta mean “looking scary,” Dee. [a little grim] When’d that happen? When did “hey Jim, wanna come explore an abandoned building with me?” turn into us… uh, making a horror movie or something?

[incredulous] Is that what this is? Because if you wanted me to help you make a horror movie, you could’ve just asked-

Wendy: [interrupting] We’re not making a fucking horror movie, Jim. [beat] God, why can’t you just trust me?

Jim: Y’know, I’d love to, Wendy, but you don’t make it fucking easy sometimes!

[long, tense pause]

Wendy: [reluctant and sullen] Scary videos do better online.

Jim: Do they now?

Wendy: Yes! [accusatory] I told you I was going to start a channel-

Jim: No, you told me you were going to put together some videos for Ditta’s art night!

Wendy: I am! That’s what I’m doing! That’s what we’re doing-

Jim: [talking over her at the end of her last line] Don’t act like there isn’t a difference between asking me to help you make a video for our friends and asking me to be your fucking content, Wendy!

[both fall silent in another long, awkward pause]

Wendy: I was gonna tell you.

Jim: Yeah? When?

[long pause]

Jim: God, I should’ve fucking known.

[turns away, walking away through the grass]

Wendy: [voice receding as Jim walks away] Come on, Jim. Jim, this doesn’t need to be an argument-

[JIM FALK TAPE CLIP ENDS]

Y’know, I revisited the Jim Falk tape before I sat down to record this, and in hindsight, I probably could’ve guessed.

It’s not the voice that stuck with me- I honestly didn’t recognize it at all. I don’t think I even really clocked him as sounding familiar.

It’s the way he says “don’t act like there’s no difference between asking me to help you make a video and asking me to be your content.”

That’s a very specific… [falters]

I feel like the… the sort of common-sense, intuitive way most people would’ve ended that sentence is “and asking me to help you make content.”

“Asking me to be your content” is something you say when… when you have reason to believe that…

It’s something you say when you are a person who is or does or has done something that would make the people around you consider you… content. Viable content. And not for doing anything outside of what you already do- just for being present.

It something you say when you know your presence is never gonna be incidental to the creation of a spectacle. That people aren’t going to let it be incidental.

I think it stuck out to me because it feels like something I would say.   

[sighs]

If it was just this footage in particular that had been omitted, I don’t think I would’ve said anything.

…But then, if it was just this footage, I don’t think we would be having this conversation.

Again, I don’t want to cast aspersions on Miss Laramie’s character. I don’t know her.

Forty years is a very long time, and I’d like to believe she’s grown and changed as a person.

What I do know is that the building in this video is not the Jackson Millennium Building. And I do know that this is not a video of Jim Falk sneaking a friend into his old workplace a week before the Hole opened up.

As far as I can tell, it’s impossible to definitively tell when something that comes off a Sinkhole tape was recorded, but if I had to guess, based mostly on Jim’s reaction and how old the two of them seem, I would put this at… something like when Calliope moved into the JMB, maybe? There was a lot of renewed interest in the Eileen Acton interview back then because of the lawsuit over changing the name.

I’m not saying Miss Laramie saw an opportunity and tried to capitalize on it.

I’m not saying anything.

What I’m doing- will do- is put up the entirety of the original video with this post.

Clearly, she’s decided she doesn’t really mind having it out in the world, so… out it goes, I guess.

[long pause, then a deep inhale]

He was just a guy. Just somebody unlucky enough to live in the wrong part of the wrong city, like me.

Makes me wonder what people would’ve made up about me if I hadn’t come back out in the Fling.

Anyway, stay safe and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

I want to make something very clear: when I say “everything changes except people,” I’m talking about people, plural. Not in a sense of communities or generations or nations- all of us. What we want and what we are on a fundamental level.

The things we feel and the things we crave.

A person changes all the time. None of us are the same as we were a year ago.

Some of us aren’t the same as we were last week.

[deep sigh]

I gave the Jim Falk tape to Wendy Laramie because I’m not inclined to judge a woman in her seventies based on her actions in her twenties or thirties.

People, in the singular sense, can and do change. Some people never do, but they can. And it’s not my place to decide if someone did.

Did I give the Jim Falk tape to Miss Laramie knowing she’d turn around and try to build a conspiracy off it? No, but I did give it to her knowing that I had no way of knowing what she was going to do with it.

So, you could say I gave it to her knowing that was always a possibility.

That’s the case every time, with every tape. I have no way of knowing what someone will do with what I give them. That’s true of everyone.

And yes, the Jim Falk video is the single longest unbroken bit of data I’ve pulled from a Sinkhole tape yet. It’s very exciting. It’s a scientific marvel. The folks at Paradigm were very excited.  

But Wendy Laramie is on that tape. She’s in that video.

She had- and has- a right to it.

And I suppose if she wants to try and con people with it, that’s her prerogative- just like it’s mine to shut her down.

[DISTANT, ROLLING THUNDER]

This was not something I planned. I’m… not that smart. [dry laugh]

This didn’t happen because I wanted to teach you all a lesson, it… happened because people are like that sometimes. I talk about this stuff because people do things like this, not the other way around.

[RAIN HITTING THE WINDOW. IT IS RAINING HEAVILY.]

Some people just can’t seem to shake the grift. It’s got roots in their bones, I guess.

[grimacing] And I’m also not some shining bastion of truth and justice for releasing the original tape- I had a responsibility to do that. Honestly, I put it off longer than I should’ve because I didn’t want to deal with it.

Which is real cool and noble of me.

[pause]

I think it’s tempting for a person to believe they possess some special insight their peers do not- that they, at least, would spot the grifter.

[A STRANGE, UNFAMILIAR THRUMMING DRONE]

You wouldn’t.

You won’t.

They’re good at what they do- that’s why they get away with it.

[BRIEFLY, A FAMILIAR EERIE SOUND]

[sighs] I know I haven’t been talking about or releasing much of the tape data I’ve been going through lately, and… this is part of why.

Other than that, some of it’s really personal, or hard to understand, or garbled.

Uh… some of it’s, um… [carefully] very intimate in a way I don’t think was intended to ever be shared with anyone but the… person or persons involved. If you get my drift.

[VERY DISTANTLY AND FAINTLY, A FAMILIAR EERIE SOUND]

I genuinely do not fucking know what to do with those. I just have like a little stack of them in the corner. [bewildered laugh]

Like, what do you do? For me to reach out to these people would require me to first watch or listen to their tape closely enough to, um… to figure out who was involved and then track one of those people down and go,

[whispering awkwardly] “Hey, so… something like forty years ago you made a little video or maybe recorded yourself ion a nice call with your partner, and, um… well, me talking to you does mean that I have been made a party to that moment of intimacy without your consent- but do you want it? The tape?”

[LOUD, EERIE SOUND FADES OUT. RAIN REMAINS.]

Mean, you get my fucking struggle, right?

There’s also the question of what sort of relationships these people have with each other after forty-something years, and the ethics of that.

[ROLLING THUNDER IN A LONG PAUSE]

[suddenly] Oh, yeah- some of you brought this up, and I hadn’t really registered it before, but you’re right.

The house in the Jim Falk tape is… I don’t know where that is. I’m sure someone will figure it out sooner or later, but… I don’t recognize it, which would that it wasn’t in the Heights, which would make this the only recording I’ve come across that was definitively recorded somewhere else, which is…

[long, sudden pause]

Wait.

No.

No, I think I’m wrong.

[ALL BACKGROUND NOISE CEASES ABRUPTLY AS RECORDING ENDS.]

[RECORDING RESUMES. RAIN HAS STOPPED. THERE IS AN ABRUPT SHIFT TO A FAMILIAR, EERIE SOUND AND AN UNFAMILIAR, THRUMMING DRONE.]

Sorry, I had to go check something and I didn’t want to just… leave the recording going, so if there was just a really gross sound jump, that’s why.

Um… I think I actually do know where the Jim Falk tape was filmed.

Because of the birds and the trees and how spaced out and overgrown everything is, I just sort of assumed it was somewhere more rural, but then I realized you can hear cars in the background.

I remember noticing that when I was cutting the clip into my last audio post but not really thinking about it.

It did kind of strike me as a little funny that they never named the house, because my experience has been that urban explorer types usually can’t wait to tell you all about a place’s sordid history, but if I’m right, I know why they wouldn’t have.

And the answer to that is, um… that they were trespassing somewhere just… truly so illegal.

Like… illegal to a point where I think Wendy Laramie might still be at risk for legal reprisal. I’m not sure?

Now… I don’t know. This is purely conjecture, okay?

There is only one place in the area affected by the Sinkhole that I can think of where this could have been filmed.

And that’s the old Carpenter Embassy.

Some of you might remember the, uh… the lost and found box? I think I brought it up recently- or sort of recently. The phones, the ones from the… from the Carpenter Camp.

I guess there’s not really any point in keeping the name of it to myself anymore if I’m gonna talk about this.

So, uh… it was this group. The… uh… Children United Under Our Lord, He Who is The Carpenter of Creation or, um… Children of the Carpenter, United Are We Under Our Lord of Creation or something like that.

I truly do not fucking know, it- the name was incredibly long. All I remember is that the words Carpenter, Children, Creation, United, and Our Lord were definitely in there… and absolutely fucking everyone just called them the Carpenters.

[LOUD EERIE SOUND AND UNFAMILIAR THRUMMING DRONE FADE OUT. AMBIENT MUSIC RETURNS]

Uh… I’m not super sure on my timeline, but I think by the time people would’ve started having cellphones and bringing them to the Camp, the Carpenter Embassy thing would’ve been mostly done and over with, but I’m not completely sure. I know it went on for way longer than I always want to assume it did.

What I can say is that it was definitely done by the time Rosa was at the Carpenter Camp, because I think she actually references it in her messages to Malina.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, pause this, go take a few minutes to read through the Rosa logs- uh, you don’t have to, but they might give you some context.

Also, in case it wasn’t obvious, the names I’m using are the placeholders I put in the original transcripts because… yeah, I’m not going to go through and scrub the data because that defeats the purpose of restoring it, but I also still feel weird about giving away information that could potentially identify people who might not want to be associated with the Camp.

Please just… be respectful, okay?

[pause]

I’m going to assume you’ve gone ahead and read the Rosa logs by now, so.

The whole situation with the Carpenter Embassy is one of those things you can’t even… you can’t even really look up. It’s exactly the sort of thing you would assume would be on a wiki somewhere, but it’s- it’s just not.

The best you can really do is find old posts about it, and a lot of those might be people making shit up.

So… bear with me, because what I’m about to tell you is a hundred percent from memory and really difficult to verify, so I might get some things wrong.

The Carpenter Embassy- [stops abruptly]

Okay, first I should clarify: I know I keep calling it an embassy, but it wasn’t actually an embassy- that’s just what everyone called it.

It was actually the, um… fuck, whatever big long name they had, and then, uh, “Spiritual Reformation School,” I think?

Everybody called it the Carpenter Embassy because literally everyone who lived and worked there behaved as though they were the ambassador of an alien society. Or, at least that’s what I was told.

It might’ve still been going when I first moved to the city, I don’t know. All I know is it was done by the time I moved to the Heights, so… this is all second-hand. I’m just telling you what I heard.

So, something important to realize is that the overlap of the Carpenter Embassy and the Carpenter Camp is a lot smaller than you might assume- if I remember correctly, they started as the same thing and then splintered into two different but related groups. That might be why I can’t get the name straight, one of them might’ve reordered theirs to distinguish themself from the other or something?

Anyway, the Carpenters were founded by… uh, I forget if they were siblings or in-laws, but I guess it doesn’t really matter? These two women, they founded this group, the Carpenters, together, and then… something like four or five years in there was a falling-out and they split into two groups and one of those turned into the Camp, which was… more of like a… I guess like a seasonal spiritual education thing on the fringe of the local Christian population, and the other turned into the Embassy, which was permanent. It was a live-in educational facility type of thing. Like a boarding school, but not just for kids.

I truly cannot speak to what the fuck happened inside of the Carpenter Embassy, and I’m not going to repeat the rumours and guesses I heard because I don’t know if they’re true.

If the Sink had a Hole before there was a Hole, I think it was probably the Carpenter Embassy.

Like, with Calliope, everyone made fun of it and liked to joke about what the hell they might be doing in there, but it was like- okay, it’s pharmaceutical research, we knew that much.

The thing with the Embassy was… you had no way of knowing if what’d happened was that it’d gone bad, and if it’d gone bad, how bad it’d gone… so you didn’t really even want to joke about it, just in case.

We all kind of just pretended the Carpenter Embassy wasn’t there… which now that I’m saying it sounds insane, but you gotta understand- what were we supposed to do? Just point at it every time we walked by?

I think I’m kind of burying the lede here, sorry.

Let me start from the beginning: I don’t know what the Carpenter Embassy building looked like because I never lived higher than the third floor of my apartment building and it was… a walled compound.

I know how that sounds.

Look, you can get used to anything.

Now, the walls… there were these sort of curved, criss-crossing metal things installed into them at the top- I think it was supposed to stop birds from roosting, but I also kind if think it was supposed to discourage people from trying to climb over.

The only thing you could actually from street level was the trees. People from the city would show up and trim them back when they started hanging over the walls, and looking back I think that also might’ve been to discourage people from trying to get inside.

About the Embassy itself, what I know is this: people lived there, and then people didn’t, and something about the situation made the somebody somewhere decide that the correct thing to do was to plaster the walls of the compound with very large and aggressive signs about the financial and legal ramifications of being caught trespassing.

It never really seemed like they were doing anything with it. They just sort of closed it off and called it a day.

And it was a lot of real estate to just… y’know, leave untouched in the middle of a pretty densely developed part of the city.

Now, Rosa- I think Rosa must’ve come from the Embassy, because when she talks about “leaving the castle of Edentide,” I’m not sure what else that could mean, and Malina calls her a “child of forlorn creation” at one point which- first off, kind of rules? [laughs] But also, it sounds like it might be a reference to the fact that the other sect of the Carpenters had vanished?

[pause]

It’s incredibly fucking weird, I’m realizing.  

But yeah, that’s… the Carpenter Embassy.

And I really do think that’s the building in the Jim Falk tape. There are a bunch of things that suddenly make a lot more sense if that’s the case.

The first is, obviously, the fact that you can hear consistent traffic despite how dense and overgrown everything in the video is.

The second is the thing with the floodlights- originally, I just assumed there wouldn’t be any ambient light from neighbouring buildings because it was rural, but then when I thought about it, I realized that’d make them introducing that sort of light into the night-time shots kind of weird. It’d be something you’d notice as out of place.

If it’s the Embassy, the lack of ambient light would have to do with the combination of the walls and trees, but artificially introducing ambient light wouldn’t necessarily raise any flags because it’s… still in the middle of a city.

The third is the way she avoids having him film the façade of the building- not wanting him to shoot from the road leading up to the door. I think that’s more than just the lighting- if she was planning to release the footage publicly, having the building be immediately and unmistakeably identifiable could be a problem. A legal problem.

And Jim not understanding that makes sense, because it seems like he spent most of their jaunt through the ground under the impression they were just going to share the footage with their friends, presumably none of whom were cops.

The fourth is the way… and this is weird, but bear with me.

The fourth is the way things are missing from the rooms during their walkthrough.

It was something I’d noticed but couldn’t really figure out why- the décor is very intentional, and there are gaps where it feels like things are supposed to be, but nothing’s there.

I think those are supposed to be occupied by religious paraphernalia, which is honestly incredibly fucking weird, because it would imply that someone took the time to go through removing religious objects but left everything else where it was.

It’s obvious people have broken in before- you can see evidence of theft and graffiti and stuff- but once they get further in and up to the second floor, you don’t see that as much, and the gaps are more obvious.

Breaks in the pattern.

I don’t really have an explanation for it. It’s something I noticed.

If I’m right, she might legitimately be in a lot of fucking trouble.

[pause]

Wait.

[muttered] Am I going to get in trouble for distributing the footage?

I guess it’s too late now.

Anyway, that’s it, that’s all I wanted to say.

Stay safe and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

I was told something this morning.

And now I’m going to tell you.

I don’t think I’m supposed to do this, but I do think it would be best if members of this community were to hear this from me before you start finding out from other people and panicking.

[long pause]

They’re recommending a civilian evacuation of the Sink.

This is not an evacuation order. It’s a recommendation. There’s a difference.

What is happening is this: Paradigm is making a recommendation to the city that the Sink be evacuated of non-research personnel. Unless the city decides to follow that recommendation and orders an evacuation, it’s not an actual evacuation.  

What this means is… something in the data has crossed a liability threshold. They didn’t tell me what.

It could just be how long this has been going on. It could be something else.

But yeah.

I imagine that’s going to start trickling out through the grapevine in the next day or two, so don’t panic when you hear about it.

The Sink is not being evacuated. There’s no immediate danger. It’s just that… the possibility of both has been acknowledged.

I just wanted to let you know.

[pause]

[soft laugh] Normally I would leave this here since that’s really all the news I’ve got for you, but I have a feeling that if I do that everyone will panic twice as hard because of how short and cryptic my post was, so…

[inhales] Why don’t we talk about .SIFFs?

I’ve been on a roll lately talking about formatting types and how they deal with attempts at manipulation, so why not?

[gearing up]

Let’s talk about the Sensory Information File Format.

I grew up with standard digital file formats: .jpegs, .mp3s, .mp4s.

So when I say .SIFFs are ungodly fucking huge, I want you to understand where I’m coming from with that. [falters] Even after all this time, I still find myself noticing how goddamn huge they are and thinking,

“That can’t be right.”

And it makes sense- I mean, I get it, on both fronts. Even if you’re using a SIFF for purely tactile or visual sensory information, all the other channels are still there- they’re just empty. And while that seems wildly inefficient to me, the nature of the NEV is such that a bit of dead weight on a file format is absolutely not a problem- at least, not like it used to be.

Bandwidth is sort of a non-issue these days. [almost laughing]

And .SIFFs are honestly part of the reason I call this the nerve-tech age: everyone uses them, even DI users, because using anything else radically reduces the number of NEV users who will engage with your content.

[AN UNFAMILIAR, THRUMMING DRONE FADES IN]

These recordings- [backtracks] –this recording would make infinitely more sense as an .mp3, but if I did that, almost no one would hear it.

Every time I send one of these posts out into the world, I feel like I’m launching a cruise ship with a single passenger.

There’s something… kind of absurd and comical about seeing my tiny audio waveform just sitting there in a sea of dead sensory tracks.

[LOUD, EERIE SOUND]

In relation to what I’ve been talking about, editing .SIFFs when they’re being used as intended is… way beyond my experience or knowledge.

I tried doing some research on it, but it seems like it’s one of those things you have to be able to do and interface with to properly understand how it works. I understand the broad strokes, that there are ways to filter and refine different sensory tracks, and you mostly see those used in entertainment media- I mean, nobody wants to be in a movie and spend a whole scene acutely aware that the lead actor had a wedgie.

[long beat]

Actually, speaking of that, I was reading about the way they do scene transitions in sensory entertainment and it’s… it’s mind-bending.

It’s genius.

It’s one of those things I look at and learn about and have, like… a moment where I just sit and think about things knowing they’re things I never would’ve thought about on my own. Not in a million years.

It’s so far beyond the scope of anything I would’ve ever thought to think about before I…

Before.

[LOUD EERIE SOUND AND UNFAMILIAR THRUMMING DRONE FADE OUT. AMBIENT MUSIC RETURNS]

I think I mention that the concept of something like nerve-tech wasn’t beyond the realm of imagination when I was growing up, but- and this probably sounds strange to you- but the underpinnings of it, the infrastructure that goes into making the NEV work in reality, that never stops surprising me.

There’s so much thought and care and sheer labour that’s gone into this system that… by design, seems effortless from the outside.

And I think that’s incredible. Of all the fruits of human ingenuity, the NEV might be the most beautiful.

[pause]

At least… for now. There’s no counting on tomorrow.

So, yes: when it comes to editing the sensory information stored in a .SIFF, you have a lot less to worry about.

There are a lot of problems to editing sensory data: unless you’re content scrubbing, like I mentioned before, I think you’re better off not even trying. The brain is a lot more sensitive to manipulation than the eyes or ears are, and with something like visual sensory data, even the tiniest hiccup in peripheral vision might trigger a sense of having seen something.

And trying to seamlessly edit together all the tracks without anybody noticing that anything’s been altered in any of them?

I’m sure it’s possible, but I don’t see how.

Now, you’re more at risk of seeing edits to posts like mine- DI user content. Limited channel content.

I haven’t been able to find a definitive answer to this, but I get the impression that sensory information recorded via secondary devices still isn’t quite up to par to sensory information recorded via person or proxy- because it’s not just your eyes or ears or tongue, it’s your… brain. The way your brain formats that information.

No matter how sophisticated, there’s not a device out there with the computing power and flexibility to substitute for the presence a human brain- I’m sure of that. From the comments I’ve seen people make in their reviews of different models, I’m assuming the result is always a bit… bitcrushed, I guess?

So you lose some… some sensory resolution when you’re getting data from a DI user or an otherwise-unaffiliated recording device. And that makes tampering easier.

It’s the blur factor: it’s always easier to hide the seams in lower-resolution media.

But there’s something important you should know about .SIFFs, and it has to do with a major problem people ran into with them originally: channel desync.

I cannot even imagine how disorienting it would be to have the things you’re actually experiencing go out of sync with each other- and I’ll never have to, because the modern version of the .SIFF makes it impossible.

Also because I can’t get nevved, but that’s neither here nor there.

Something you might not know is that modern .SIFFs have synchronized in-built timing data on every single channel regardless of whether or not they actually contain any information. All the pieces of the proverbial cruise ship are bolted and screwed together, regardless of how many passengers you actually put on board.

So: if you’re working with a .SIFF with DI user data, can you create a seamless edit that no one would ever be able to tell was fucked with by eye or ear alone?

[pause]

Yes, and it doesn’t fuckin’ matter at all, because one glance at the timing data will tell you exactly what was removed or moved, when, and by how much.

Everything moves. You can’t move channels independently in a .SIFF. They’re time-locked. Anything you do to one, you’ve done to the others.

That means that if something was recorded and exported as a .SIFF originally, you have to export it to a third-party format first if you want to edit it without it being incredibly obvious. You have to change the format, edit it, and then re-export it as a .SIFF.

It’s absurdly convoluted and tedious.

.SIFFs are maybe the most tamper-resistant file format I’ve ever seen, and it never stops making me laugh because I think it’s mostly accidental- or at least, incidental.

I have no doubt that sooner or later somebody’s going to figure out a way to get around all the roadblocks I’ve mentioned- eh, just a matter of time- but I have no idea how they’ll do it and I’ll be fascinated to see.

[pause, and then chair creak]

…I think you tend to miss the wonder in the small, unglamourous things when you grow up with them as a foregone conclusion, and I feel like that’s a shame.

This world you live in is wonderful, and it makes me wish I’d spent more time appreciating my own when I had it.  

The things you miss, you miss and miss forever.

But what’s done is done, and there are always new things to wonder over, I guess.

So.

That’s all for now.

Stay safe and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

[There are audible sounds of a muffled shouting and chanting from the streets below throughout the following.]

[chair creak]

[turned away from the microphone, muttering to themself] Is that audible? Oh shit. [chair creaking]

[softly, turned away] Ah, shit.

[continued chair creaking]

Shit.

[towards the microphone] Shit, it’s definitely audible.

Well, I should’ve expected that.

There’s a demonstration going on- people protesting the, um, evacuation request.

Look: I know that sounds stupid. And part of it is people misunderstanding what’s going on- I think a lot of people have misconstrued the evacuation request as Paradigm trying to order an evacuation and are taking issue with that, but there’s another element to this.

I think most of the people out there right now view the evacuation request as Paradigm making moves to widen the Ring.

[pauses]

If you’re not local and you don’t already know this, there’s a certain amount of land surrounding the dome that is considered a non-residential exclusion zone. Most people call it the Ring.

Businesses can operate within it as long as they provide the city with their hours of operation for emergency response staff, but actual residents of the Sink are not allowed to live in that area.

The only people who can live in that area are… people who work for Paradigm Research.

So you can imagine how that looks.  

What you’ve got to understand is that a lot of people were forced out of their homes when the Hole reopened during the Fling. And a lot of those people… probably still live around here, and after ten years without so much as a whisper about giving them their homes back, I could see being a little crusty about that.

It’s not just being kept out of a home you might’ve spent decades in- it’s a matter of knowing someone else might’ve moved in and is occupying that space instead of you.

I completely understand the resentment on display here.

It’s very easy to look at the facts and feel like people have been kicked out of their homes for no better reason than Paradigm not wanting their scientists to have to commute, and after ten years of nothing happening, yeah… I could see this looking an awful lot like Paradigm taking an opportunity to make more room for itself.

[long pause]

This is why it was so easy for them to relocate me.

They just moved me into the Ring.

That’s why the Hole’s so fucking loud here.

So… yeah. That’s what you’re hearing. People are marching into the Ring to protest because they think Paradigm’s trying to pull a fast one on them.

Again.

I imagine a lot of these folks are the ones who live right on the edge, too. The ones whose homes would be up for grabs if that happened. It must be uncomfortable living with one foot on the border of the Ring.

Anyway, we’ll see how much of a difference it makes- the city’s not exactly known for giving a shit about the opinions of people in the Sink, but election season’s around the corner and this is exactly the sort of thing that gets spun up into political ammunition and used to accuse an opponent of colluding with the corpos, so… I don’t imagine they’ll be taking Paradigm’s advice unless they really, really have to.

There aren’t a whole lot of things that scare politicians more than bad press, in my experience, so I’m not holding my breath.

In other news, I… made someone mad, which you might’ve seen coming.

It turns out that blowing open a hoax doesn’t exactly make you popular with its perpetrators.

[chair creak]

[sound of a phone screen being unlocked]

[WENDY LARAMIE VOICEMAIL]

Wendy: [seething, with a thin veneer of sweetness] Listen, sweetheart.

I think maybe we got our wires crossed when last we talked. Either that or you’re not as clever as you try to make yourself sound.  

I think maybe you should realize this is a two-way street- that you’re not the only one with access to all our conversations, sweetie. Think about it and maybe reassess your angle, alright?

Only… it’s a bit too late for that.

You could’ve come to me first. We could’ve talked about this.

But no.

You and I? We had an agreement. You said you’d keep your mouth shut, that it wasn’t your business what I planned to do with the video, and that makes you an accomplice. You handed me the gun and the bullets, sweetie.

You think I’m the only one going down for this?

If I’m going down, you’ll be coming right down with me, because this is as much your fault as it is mine, and when they come for me, they’ll come for you, too.

Hope you enjoyed playing sheriff while it lasted.

Hope it made you feel real big and noble.

[mockingly] Stay safe… and try not to fall back into your hole.

You’ll be needed at the trial.

[WENDY LARAMIE VOICEMAIL END]

I think most of you probably already realize this, but in case some of you don’t: she completely talking out of her ass. This is nothing.

I don’t know if she genuinely believes what she’s saying or she’s just trying to get some petty revenge on me, but… that’s not how this works. [laughing a little] Nothing she said has any basis in law.

When I give people tapes or tape data, there’s no… formal agreement in place. I don’t make them sign a waiver, and nobody’s asked me to sign anything yet.

Those supposedly damning conversations between us include such titillating bits of evidence as… a message thread in which I said, and I quote, “If you don’t want it to be public, I’ll keep it to myself.” 

And I did.

[incredulous] I’m not the one who made the Jim Falk tape public.

Even within the conceit of what she’s claiming, her logic doesn’t fucking hold up.

The only thing I’ve actually been worried about getting in trouble for is releasing footage of the Carpenter Embassy, and essentially what I’ve been told is that because I wasn’t involved in the filming and didn’t knowingly release footage of a restricted area, I’m… fine. There was no intentional wrongdoing on my part, and I wasn’t even the first person to release segments of the footage, so…

Uh, on that note: uh, I guess I didn’t mention… we do have confirmation… that that is what that is.

Anyway.

I don’t even know if Wendy is going to get slammed for it, because as far as I understand, there’s no legal precedent for charging someone for trespassing on or unlawfully distributing footage of a place that no longer exists forty years after the fact.

I know they’re going after her for some sort of fraud because she sold the video to a distributer knowing the contents had been intentionally altered, but I have no idea how the rest of this is going to pan out on a legal level.

The law gets weird when you start getting into things that fell into the Hole. It’s the same reason they told me not to worry about the Calliope audio.

But yeah- I don’t know what it is she thinks shackles me to her.

It’s not like I edited the Jim Falk tape.

If I did, it would’ve been done better.

Joking aside, this is what I mean: you gotta give people a chance, but sometimes they just got the bug and can’t shake it.

Some people are just… grifters, right down to the marrow of their bones. [laughs a little]

And she can’t even sue me for saying it because it’s a matter of public record at this point.

It’s not slander if it’s true, Wendy.

Get a hobby. Ideally something that doesn’t involve swindling people.

Get into theatre if you need to immerse people into a world of unsubstantiated fantasy that bad. Take up writing. Write a book.

And leave me out of it.

But yeah, I wanted to keep you all apprised on the situation with the Jim Falk tape, since there have been… some very new users popping up in this community who may or not be Wendy Laramie who post exclusively about how I’m an idiot who’s going to end up going to jail for what I’ve done or… God, what was it- [laughs] I’m a… I’m a ‘snake-in-the-grass turncoat’ who planned all of this because I get off on manipulating people, and…

Honestly? Normally I’m pretty empathetic. I’ve been told before that I can be compassionate to a fault, but…

I mean, there does come a point where you’re just bringing it on yourself.

And Wendy, if you’re listening, we have long since passed that point.

[soft, incredulous laughter] My god.

I did feel bad, at first. But… we are in the past tense of feeling bad at this point, sweetheart.

Seriously, get a fucking hobby.

Or maybe a lawyer.

That actually might be a better use of your time.

But yeah. That’s what’s up. And what’s been happening.

Stay safe, and… [almost laughing] try not to fall into any holes.

[chair creaking]

[muttering to themself] “You’ll be needed at the trial.” Fucking Christ.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

Whatever Paradigm had to say, it must’ve been convincing.

There’s been an official evacuation order, if you hadn’t already heard. They’re starting to relocate people.

There are still some protesters around, but… yesterday the ground shook, and I think once that happened, most people started to see things differently.

They’ll be removing the at-risk population first- folks who aren’t mobile, people with dependents. It’s not gonna be fast.

You’re not going to wake up tomorrow and find the Sink empty, is what I’m saying.

It’s a… densely populated area, and they’ll have to do a second or third pass after they think they’ve gotten everyone just to catch the stragglers.

That’s already been the case with the Ring- it’s an ongoing thing, people sneaking into empty buildings and living in them.

[pause]

Back when we had that conversation about the… about the Calliope audio and respecting my privacy and… when I talked about going to ground and hiding in an abandoned building, that’s pretty much exactly what I meant.

A good number of the residential buildings are occupied by staff and security, but there are a lot of abandoned storefronts in the Ring even at the best of times.

And everything’s closed now. The businesses in the Ring were the first to go because they were first warned they might have to.

They all just… closed up shop the second the order came in. I was outside at the time and the reason I knew something was up was because I just started seeing shop lights go off and hearing security gates come down- seeing people pull in signs and pull down blinds.

[long pause, deep inhale]

It’s really happening.

They’re really emptying the Sink.

Which means something really is gonna happen. At least, they’re pretty sure something’s going to happen. Sure enough to be clearing out a part of the city just before election season.

That’s… pretty fucking sure.

There is a definite degree of certainty to that.

I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do much posting when the evacuation gets properly underway- I have a sneaking suspicion we’re going to see a second round of protests toward the end. People saying they should have a right to stay at their own risk- that they’d rather die with their homes than live without them.

There’s a decent population of old folks in the Sink. They don’t, um…

[deep inhale]

I don’t talk about this much. I know I allude to it sometimes, but… I don’t really talk about it because I’m not in the best position to put myself at risk by sticking my neck out.

The city government has never been a friend to the Sink.

Even before it was the Sink. Back when it was just… that spot between downtown and the south end you drove through to get where you were going. Back when it was “Rocky Heights.”

[AN UNFAMILIAR THRUMMING DRONE]

Or… you know, the Heights.

You might have heard me call it that before, it’s… sort of absentminded, I try to call it the Sink because… it’s- everyone calls it that now, but… y’know, it slips out. [laughs self-consciously]

[LOUD, EERIE SOUND. IT IS ESPECIALLY PRESENT.]

The name became sort of ironic and euphemistic, as far as names go, but it actually used to be pretty literal. Used to be a lot of texture to the land here, crags and hills. Not quite a mountain, but some good vertical projection.

And then they bored out all the granite, hauled it away to build city hall, and levelled what was left and left it alone until the city grew big enough to swallow the town.

That was a long time ago. A long, long time ago. Long enough that-

That nobody alive would be old enough to know somebody who remembered it, but it feels important to understanding… well.  

The folks who’ve lived here long enough to remember when this place was called the Heights will remember how the city treated the people who lived here.

That’s not… that didn’t start with the Sink.

Even for me, someone who wasn’t born here, someone who spent some time living in another part of the city, just the difference in what you could get and how you were treated was… stark.

You’d go to city hall or a service centre to make a claim or contest a ticket knowing there was a chance the person you talked to might take one look at your mailing address and assume you were there to game the system.

There’s a reason the Heights was such a tight-knit community.

You couldn’t rely on anybody but each other.

If your landlord wasn’t a resident and something went wrong with your sink or your shower, you were probably better off asking a friend if they knew a plumber who’d trade favours instead of trying to take the repair claim to the board.

It was, um…

I loved living in the Heights. I loved the people. I’m pretty small-town, originally, and it was… it was more like that than like living in a city, I guess.

It was hard, but the people were so good. It wasn’t as lonely as the rest of the city. It felt connected.

[LOUD EERIE SOUND AND UNFAMILIAR THRUMMING DRONE FADE OUT. AMBIENT MUSIC RETURNS]

But shit like that is why they got away with selling the park to Soper and Kennedy to build the JMB. It’s why they got away with closing up the Carpenter Embassy and never doing anything about it. Why it was so easy to keep quiet.

Why I was so surprised to learn Jim Falk lived in the Heights. TectoVision was a… pretty successful little company. When they moved, everybody should’ve gone with them, local or not. They paid enough to make that possible.

I don’t think Jim was born here. I guess maybe he must’ve fallen in love with the Heights too.

But shit like this is why the Sinkhole event has become… a bit of a joke instead of a tragedy. Why people don’t realize how big and how bad it really was. Why asterikoiloptosis is… a niche medical interest that shows up on trivia lists instead of something everybody knows about.

Nobody thinks about us. We’re set dressing.

And we always have been.

[long pause]

So… no, I don’t think the old folks here are going to be keen to leave. Sent out into the arms and the charity of a city that’s never given a fuck before.

That’s a hard sell, even when the other option is something like this.

I think that’s why I tend to talk about the Hole the way I do.

Yeah, it really did ruin my life. It took everything I had away from me, one way or another. The Hole took my friends and my home and…

Time…

The time it took from me took my grandparents.

But I don’t…

I don’t hate it.

[deep inhale]

The Sinkhole is ours, as strange as that probably sounds. It’s like… I guess it’s the same as the JMB or the Embassy.

When things are constantly being taken from you, you learn to embrace what you’ve got with a sense of humour- a sort of affection.

When you live in the shadow of the volcano, you get to a point where even it becomes your neighbour.

The Hole is part of the landscape of the Sink, and this is my home. Things aren’t the same as they were when this place was the Heights, but… the bones of it are still there.

The sense of this being its own place. Not a part of the city- a place the city grew around and could never quite invade the borders of.

There’s a sovereignty to this place, and the Hole is ours. For all that it’s done to us, it’s ours.

So if you see… resistance to the evacuation in the coming week or weeks… I want you to understand where that’s coming from.

What the stakes are and what this place means to a lot of people.

That’s all. I’ll update if I can.

Stay safe and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]

[a shuddering inhale]

That’s everybody, I think.

The Sink is empty.  

[pause]

Some of you have been asking about my… my relocation. Just checking in, you know? And while I’m grateful to those of you who stepped in to ask them to respect my privacy, this is maybe the one case in which the prying was very justified.

[AN UNFAMILIAR THRUMMING DRONE]

You’re right.

I’m still here.

I didn’t leave.  

I’m still in the Sink.

[LOUD, EERIE SOUND. IT IS ESPECIALLY PRESENT.]

As a paid employee of Paradigm Research, I’m technically not a civilian. I’m not required to evacuate.

I want to make sure you to understand what it is I’m saying when I say that. I’m not saying that I was excluded from the evacuation. That I wasn’t given the chance to leave.

What I’m saying is that I was given the option, and I opted to stay.

[long pause]

I want to see it.

If something happens, I want to see it.

I never… I never got to see it. I never got to see anything.

And it’s always felt… unfair.

I know I’m not really supposed to talk about this, but fuck it.

If not now, when?

When the Hole opened up, I was on my way home from work.

I had my headphones on, head down, not really even looking at anything.

I wasn’t looking.

I didn’t realize I should be looking.

I was walking down Innes, towards the crosswalk, and the ground to my left rumbled, and then something flashed into my eyes from the side.

I remember thinking a truck- like an eighteen-wheeler- had just passed me, and that the flash was sunlight reflecting off the window of a car door across the street.

I looked because that’s what you do.

Not because I thought something was happening- because when something flashes in the corner of your vision, you look at it. Just instinctively.  

I looked, and I remember…

I remember not really getting it for a second.

I remember thinking I must’ve gotten myself turned around somehow and that I’d ended up on the wrong street- and by the time I realized that what was wrong was that the buildings across the street were missing, the ground was giving way underneath my feet.

And I was falling.

And then I was… falling, but it was… it was continuous- it felt continuous- the whole axis, the whole orientation of the world just shifted, and I wasn’t falling, I-

I’d been thrown.

Like… almost like I’d been hit by a car.

And I hit the pavement on my side and slid so far, so fast that the back and sleeve of my jacket were worn almost all the way down to the lining by the friction. 

It’d been cold in the morning that week- a lot colder than it was in the afternoon- and my housemate had let me borrow his leather jacket because I’d accidentally left mine at work the night before.

It was too big on me.

[LOUD EERIE SOUND AND UNFAMILIAR THRUMMING DRONE FADE OUT. AMBIENT MUSIC RETURNS]

The paramedics told me later that if I hadn’t been wearing it, the road rash caused by my- by my impact would’ve been so severe I probably would’ve needed skin grafts. Like a burn victim.

I wasn’t thinking about the fact that it wasn’t my jacket. I just remember there were people screaming, and I remember thinking there was something on… something on my hand that didn’t look right but I couldn’t get it to rub away.  

I remember realizing my headphones had fallen off and that one of my shoes was gone, and I remember getting up, thinking I had to look for them.

It felt so important in that moment. It was the most important thing in the world, for some reason.

I remember somebody trying to take me by the arm and their hand pushing the fabric of my sleeve inside of me in a way I could see but couldn’t feel except at the edges of where it’d happened. And I remember thinking my arm must be broken, but not understanding why it didn’t feel broken. Why it didn’t hurt like it was broken.

I remember telling somebody that I couldn’t find my shoe and that I’d dropped my headphones, and them telling me it was alright, that they’d find them for me, that I just needed to… I just needed to follow them, get into the ambulance and then they’d go and find them for me.

I never got to see.

Anything.

And I know this sounds stupid, because it sounds stupid even to me, but that’s always bothered me.

It doesn’t feel fair that I got caught up in this huge, horrible thing and didn’t even get to see it happening. That I should be one of a handful of people who came back from that and never even have thought to look up.

It bothers me.

[pause]

If something’s going to happen, I want to see it this time.

I want to know to look this time, and I want to be here, and I want to see it.

It’s not like I’m at risk from the sinklight- the worst thing that can happen to me is I fall back into the Hole.

And I’m willing to risk that.

If something’s gonna happen, I’m gonna be here.  

I don’t want you to try and change my mind. You can’t.

I don’t want you to come here looking for me. I don’t want you trying to sneak in. I don’t want you trying to save me from myself.

If something’s gonna happen, and something happens to me, at least it’ll be my fault this time. I’ll have done it to myself.

It’ll be a mistake I made knowing what could happen.

[deep inhale]

I don’t think I can make you understand how important that is to me.

I don’t expect you to understand.

I’m just asking you to listen.

[pause]

I don’t intend to just vanish.

I wouldn’t be here- be part of this community- if I didn’t think preserving things for posterity was important.

Some of you clued in already when I started asking about stream-posting. Some of you suspected… what I was going to do.

What I am going to do.

When it happens, if it happens, I’m going to… tell you about it live, just in case.

I don’t think I’m going to be doing much posting if I fall back into the Hole. At least not for a while, right? [dry laugh]

So if I want to share what I’m seeing with you, I’m going to have to do that in the moment- and you’ll be with me until the end.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If I go, I’ll go knowing, and I’ll going knowing I’m not alone. That there are people here who would feel my absence in a world where I have nothing else left.

[pause, then sniffling]

Look at me, getting ahead of myself.

I don’t even know that something will happen.

I think something will, but I can’t even tell you if it’s a gut feeling or if it’s… just that I want something to.

If it’s just that seeing it, getting to see it, is so important to me that I would literally let the city fall down around me to make that happen.

I know it’s selfish. I know I’m being selfish.

But I like to think I spend enough time trying very hard not to be selfish, trying to be understanding and generous… that maybe you’ll forgive me for being selfish, just this once.

And if you don’t, I might not have to live with that for long, so… [wry laugh]

Before you get the wrong idea, I want to be very clear: this isn’t some sort of… [inhales] I don’t want to die.

I don’t intend to die.

I want to live.

And I feel like I need to see it if I’m going to start doing that.

[long pause]

Sometimes, I feel like I’ve spent the last ten years stuck in that moment. The rumble, flash, the missing shoe… it’s never far behind me.

I’m still standing in the street with one cold foot, trying to understand why my hand looks that way.

I’m still there, and I can’t… I can’t get away.

I need to look up.

I need the chance to look up.  

Okay?

And I’ll take you with me when it happens, I promise.

Don’t come here.

Don’t try to come to the Sink.

I’m not leaving you behind.

So don’t… don’t come to me.

I want to be alone here.

I want to see it without having to worry about anyone or anything else.

[pause]

You’ll hear from me when it happens.

If it happens.

If it happens, you’ll hear from me.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]

[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient. It ends abruptly as a switch is flipped and then background is filled with an UNFAMILIAR, THRUMMING DRONE and a LOUD, EERIE SOUND. The windows of the apartment are audibly shaking despite the fact that the LOUD, EERIE SOUND is not as loud as it has been in the past.]

It’s happening. I can see the sinklight through the window.

[The narrator fumbles with the mic as they cross the apartment to the door.]

[The quality of the sound changes slightly as they exit into a concrete stairwell, closing the door to their apartment behind them.]

[The sound is loud and expansive as the narrator open a ground-level door and exits out onto the street. It is not extremely loud, but very deep.]

[Footsteps for a moment, and then they pause]

[speaking close into the mic and sheltering it from the noise] I’m not that far into the Ring here- I can see the light, I can- [looking up at the dome, moved away from the mic] -see the crack in the dome, but I need to- [moving back to the mic] -I’d need to get closer to really see anything.

[Footsteps continue. Windows are audibly shuddering in their frames.]

Some of the bigger windows are blown out- the houses and apartments look fine, mostly, but the- [audible breathing] -the storefronts, they’re all shattered.

[as an afterthought] Sorry I didn’t get started earlier- I had to put on my shoes and make the feed live and I’m only used to doing one of those things.

[Footsteps and audible breathing for a short while.]

There’s a car parked on the street here- windshield’s cracked. [away from mic for a moment] Site vehicle- I can see the pass hanging from the rearview. [back to mic] They keep a couple of these in the Ring for on-site transport.

[looking up] Can’t really tell if the shaking did it or if something fell. [back to normal] I hadn’t really thought about it, but I guess there is a risk of things falling right now, huh? Maybe I should stick to the middle of the street. [distant rumbling]

[Sniffles and continues walking.]

[Walking slows for a moment.]

It’s not just a crack. A whole part of the dome’s fallen in. [distant cracking of concrete] It’s, um… it’s collapsing. [away] Huh?

[More distant cracking and rumbling.]

[footsteps stop]

[breathing heavily] The whole left side of the dome just went.

[away from the mic] The whole fucking side.

[More cracking and rumbling.]

The Hole’s expanding. [fumbles with the mic] I- I can see- [cracking, rumbling] That’s… th-that’s- that’s, um, Milton Street North, maybe. I think. That looks like the Milton Tower Apartments, it’s- buildings are just… they’re just tilting into the Hole…

[THE LOUD, EERIE SOUND FADES AS A HUGE RUMBLING CRACK IS HEARD.]

[a strange quiet settles, growing quieter and quieter.]

[footsteps resume, quickly]

…It’s quieter.

[footsteps pause]

And the ground isn’t…

[rustle of crouching] It’s not shaking as much. Just sort of… trembling.

[pause]

I don’t think it’s over- the glass is… [stands up, fumbling with the mic] The broken glass is, like… it’s shivering on the pavement, it’s… sorta like when you put something on top of a subwoofer.

It’s- it’s vibrating.

[continues walking]

I can kinda feel it, in my- in my feet and my legs.  

[walking slows down and then speeds up for a moment, mic is fumbled]

We’re getting closer now. I can almost see inside- [walking slows and then stops]

[long pause]

[all that is audible is the sound of wind in an empty city]

I think… I think I understand why so many people came out to look… when the Fling happened.

It’s not bright. There’s… there’s so much light, but it’s not bright. It’s…

I don’t know how to explain it.

[long pause]

[almost whispering, instinctively] It’s so quiet. Is it over?

[walking resumes, slowly, then stops again]

I’m going to get a little closer, while I can.

[walking resumes at a normal pace, then audibly changes as the narrator begins to step on some sort of sandy debris]

Oh god, it’s so quiet.

Some of the dome’s still up- maybe… thirty percent? More than I expected.

[footsteps scuffling through debris, the narrator stumbles]

It looks like the Hole didn’t open evenly, which I guess- I guess that makes sense, right? That it’d drift to one side, not just… crumble at the edges all the way around.

[footsteps pause momentarily]

I guess that makes sense.

[afterthought] As much as anything makes sense.

[footsteps stop]

Is it really over? Already?

[distant thud]

Wha-?

[away from the mic] What is that?

[more thumps, in various directions]

Are those… people?

[a closer thump]

[dawning realization] Oh fuck.

[much closer, something hits the ground with a pained noise.]

[the narrator fumbles with the mic, shutting off the feed]

[BRIEF SILENCE]

[a mic switches on with a pretty little tone and an electronic whir]

[The city is still quiet, but audible in the background from the very beginning are the distant and intermittent sounds of construction equipment.]

The Journalist: [speaking very smoothly and performatively, clearly speaking to an audience] And we are live– I’ll give you all a moment to hop in, shall I?

Hello, hello, good evening, how’re you doing, hope you’re well- oh! What are we doing today? [mischievous but good-humoured laugh] Well, not what you’re expecting, I promise you that, but you will see soon enough.

[sound of shoes crunching on concrete]

TJ: [quietly vocalizing to himself] Ah… dah dah dah, and…

[Footsteps slow, stop.]

Ah! Still there.

[clears throat and launches into what is clearly an imitation of David Attenborough] And so, we make… our approach.

[Footsteps resume, unhurried]

113: [somewhat distant] What the- hey, you probably shouldn’t be here.

TJ: [calling back] I’ve as much right to be here as anyone else, don’t I?

113: [after a beat] Organic or expensive?

[footsteps pause]

TJ: [bemused] I… beg your pardon?

113: I’m asking you if that- [gesturing] -is a really expensive proxy or if you… hey, do you not know what’s going on?

TJ: [very slightly judgmental] Do you think I would be here if I didn’t?

113: [muttered] I guess not. [calling] Look, if you’re here in person, like- if I’m looking at you, the real and present you, you really shouldn’t be here.

TJ: And… you plan on chasing me away, then?

[footsteps resume]

113: [bewildered] What? …No, I’m- I mean I can’t make you leave. Like you said, you’ve got as much right as anybody else.

[sighs] It’s just- it’s not that you can’t be here, it’s that you shouldn’tbe. It’s not safe.  

[footsteps pause for a moment]

TJ: [chuckles] I appreciate the concern. Honestly, it’s very touching. Thank you.  

[footsteps continue, approaching]

113: [closer now, baffled and exasperated] Fuckin’- yeah, alright. Sure. Suit yourself. [muttered] …Christ.

TJ: Mind if I sit with you?

113: It’s a fucking free country, isn’t it? I don’t own the sidewalk.

TJ: Yeah, but… do you mind?

113: [hesitates] …I guess not?

[Approaching, a rustle of clothes as he sits down]

113: [uneasily] Hey, um… is that thing on?

TJ: Hm? Oh, yeah, absolutely.

113: [obviously uncomfortable] Okay, um, y’know what, I- I might just-

TJ: [hastily] Just to reassure you, it’s only to my highest tier of subscribers- it’s not a public feed by any stretch.

113: [a little uncertainly] …Right, um… okay. Just… just keep me out of your viewfinder, okay?

TJ: [audibly perplexed] My… viewfinder? [beat] Oh. Oh, right. Yeah, of course. Not a problem.

[long moment of silence]

TJ: It’s quite something, isn’t it?

113: [quietly] …Yeah, it really is.  

[another pause]

TJ: [prompting, clearly trying to start a conversation] So what do you think they’ll do next? Now that the barriers are up, I mean?

113: [sighing]

[another awkward pause]

TJ: Do you think they’ll try to rebuild the dome? It worked well enough for a decade, but… wasn’t the cheapest thing-

113: [interrupting] Hey- look. Are you…? Is this a conversation, or… is this an interview? Are you trying to interview me?

TJ: [a little excited] Would you like to be interviewed?

113: [decisively] No.

TJ: Oh. That’s a shame.

113: Sorry.

[long pause]

TJ: [suddenly] See, the thing is, I was hoping to get into this more naturally. An interview would’ve made that a lot easier. I’d have been very grateful.

113: Okay…? [tired] Why do I feel like the last thing I want to do is ask?

TJ: [after a moment] …Won’t you, though?

113: Won’t I what?

TJ: [a bit pleading] Ask.

113: [soft, dry laughter] Look: whatever it is you want, just… what do you want? Whatever you have to say to me, just say it.

[a strange pause]

TJ: Dorian, isn’t it? It is Dorian?

Dorian Ohster?

113: [deep, slow inhale] …Okay. [sighing] Very good. Very impressive. I’m very impressed. You’re a formidable detective and I’m very impressed. [infinitely world-weary] Great work.

So which one are you? Do you want me to start guessing handles? Is that what you want? For me to notice you?

TJ: [after a momentary stunned silence] Beg pardon?

113: [enunciating] Who are you? Which one are you? Clearly you know me, now- who… who are you?

TJ: Oh! Of course, I’m so sorry- forgive me, I haven’t introduced myself.

Hi. I’m Emrys Lorde. I’m something of a fan.

[long pause]

113: Oh. Oh, okay. Uh… Sorry, I mistook you for someone I’m willing to tolerate being a creep. This… this changes things.

[getting up and stepping away] So. Can’t take a critic, is that it? Needed to hunt me down in person and make sure I knew how right you were all along?

Emrys: [genuine surprise] What? No, not at all. [laughing] Do you think you’re the first person to call me a charlatan?

113: [bewildered] Okay…? So then… what? [starting to get frustrated] What do you want?  

We’re not pretending you ‘accidentally’ stumbled into me, are we? Because you can’t expect me to believe that.

Emrys: Oh, no! Of course not. No- no, no. No accident. I’ve been listening to your feed- I knew you’d be around, and I had to imagine they’d want you out the way during the clean-up, so… I thought I might have a chance of finding you around here, near the edges.

I came here deliberately. I was hoping I might be lucky enough to run into you.

113: [clearly somewhat freaked out] Uhh… that’s, uh… um. That’s a lot. Uh… I’m, uh- I’m honestly not sure if I should be flattered or… ask for a restraining order. Um… sorry, why are you looking for me?

If you’re not… mad.

Emrys: Because despite what you think, I’m a journalist. I had been hoping I might get the chance to ask you a few questions.  

113: This couldn’t have been an email? A message?

Emrys: Well, you wouldn’t have answered a [good-humoured] “grifter” like me, would you now?

113: …Okay, fair point. What do you… what do you want to ask me about? The event? If you were listening to the feed, you heard everything. I think you probably got the gist.

I don’t know what it is you think I could tell you.

Emrys: So, here’s the thing: I would like to ask you about that… some other time, but that’s not what I had in mind right now.

113: [baffled] I… what…? What do you want?

Emrys: Dorian, you’re from Rennesville, right?

113: [with a quiet, flat alarm] Why are you asking me that?

Emrys: And while you were in school, you would’ve been a year above a Miss Tiffany McCormick. Do I have that right?

113: [flat and slightly hostile] Why are you asking me this?

Emrys: [hesitates for a split-second] Well, the thing is, Dorian, I was really hoping I might ask you what it is you know about… [pausing for dramatic effect] the Phantom of Heron Fault.

[a long, weird beat]

113: [inhales shakily and steps away] You stay the fuck away from me.

Emrys: I’m- I’m sorry?

113: [almost interrupting] Don’t- just don’t. Don’t talk to me. Don’t come near me. And don’t you fucking follow me.  

[sound of someone walking quickly, urgently away]

[a moment of stunned silence]

Emrys: Wow. Okay, then. Um…

Well, that was rather dramatic.

[to himself] Looks like I was right to wonder if it wasn’t a sore subject.

[to his audience, after a beat] Well, for all that it was a bit of long shot, it seems we might actually be on track to uncover the truth behind a half-century old hoax.

[laughs performatively]

Oh, my friends: I think we might’ve found our phantom. 

[The ambient silence of the city fades]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

[LOW, THRUMMING AMBIENCE]

SINKHOLE was written and produced by Kale Brown.

In general order of appearance:

The Ropeless Romantic was played by Stephen Kropa.

James ‘Jim’ Falk was played by Jesse Hall.

Wendy Laramie was played by Emma Johanna Puranen.

Emrys Lorde was played by Vic Collins.

And, as always, the Narrator was played by Kale Brown.

Special thanks to Lee Seguinte for his support during the production of season two. Check out Law of Names Media to listen to some of his own work as an audio fiction podcaster. Some of them might even feature voices you recognize.

And a very special shout-out to the person who submitted a question for the season one Q&A that I acknowledged but couldn’t share at the time.

I’m going to share it with you now.

[Radio effect]

“This is The Big One: If the Sinkhole throwing people out happened once, it could happen again, which brings me to a thought- the inside of that strange void does not seem to care much for time making sense. Perhaps everyone inside that place was all spat out at the same time, but from the outside, it’s across decades… perhaps the 112 are only the first wave we can see from our linear perspective. If that’s the case, do you worry for the rest? The Present is already, in many ways, alien to the 112. I can’t help but expect that the further you go, the more alien and inaccessible the Future will become.”

[Radio effect ends]

Hey, Gaz?

You know those moments in Sherlock Holmes movies where Sherlock looks at a speck of dust on someone’s shoe and then tells them their entire life story?

That’s how I felt reading this.

With that out of the way: as always, a huge thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to let me know just how much you’ve been enjoying SINKHOLE. Every rating, every review, every comment, and every friend you mention the show to- all of that matters and I’m grateful for all of it.

It’s because of you, because of your enthusiasm that so many people have found my weird little show. Thank you.

Now.

SINKHOLE will return for season three when it’s good and ready. Follow us on Twitter as @sinkholepodcast for more information.

Stay safe out there, and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

Additional Content

INTRO: [A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. It is suddenly cut off by a low tone.]

Hello, and welcome to the Q&A portion of our program.

[Sounds of camera shutters and the chatter of a small crowd fading in]

[Spoken from a podium in a dubious and gruff English accent like an old-timey police constable talking to the press] Yes, hello- one at a time, please- you there.

[Quick-talking 1930s reporter voice] Notable eel enthusiast Daisy McNamara here! Will there be more eel content in season 2?

[Still English, still very dubious] ‘Fraid I can’t promise that, sorry- now you.

[Imitating Pacific Obadiah’s intro on the SCP Archives Podcast] Iiiit’s Pacific! What about eels?

[No less dubiously English than before] What about them? Did- did the two of you come together? You!  

[Mostly normal for once] Crumpit here, from Twitter: Hole?

[If nothing else, this dubious accent is consistently dubious] Ah, yes- uh. Hole, indeed. You there, in the trench coat-

[Quick-talking 1930s reporter again, but higher and more manic this time] Jenny Dock-Snake, of unexplained origins. Tell me, which part of the iconic Jackson Millennium building is your favourite?

I-I’m sorry?

[Faster and more insistent] Why doesn’t anyone understand Kennedy Jackson’s innovative vision of human disergonomy?

I beg your pardon?

How could they all be so blind?

[Yeah, they’re still doing the dubious English thing] That’s enough of that. M-moving on- you look sensible.

[Mostly normal again] DustinYourEyes, also from Twitter! Is there a parallel dimension that is tormented by the inverse of the SINKHOLE, the equally-menacing FLOATHILL?

[Seething, dubious] You know we don’t talk about the FLOATHILL, Dustin. [pointing] You.

[Breathily English femme fatale voice] I might be achill3a, but I’ll never tell you. Now, does the Narrator listen to Blake Skye?

To what?

To Blake Skye: Private Eye, the author’s own origins as a voice actor, writer, and editor. Surely they must?

Well, we’re getting a bit outside of the conceit of this bit at this point- Quill, I see you back there. Come on now, lad.

[Mostly normal again] Right, this is Quill Turner, nice to see you. What’s 113’s favorite food?

[Sound effects stop abruptly]

[Speaking normally] Okay, all jokes and questionable accents and laboriously extended bits aside: hi.

I’m Kale Brown, the creator and primary voice of SINKHOLE.

Before we get into the somewhat less-silly part of the Q&A, I would like to address something:  

One of you has been paying incredibly close attention.

One of you asked me a question that I want to acknowledge because it truly rules that you’ve thought this out so thoroughly, but which I not only cannot answer, I also cannot read here because you have stumbled onto something that just might be an existing major plot point.

I think you probably know who you are, and I want you to know that I saw your question.

[LOW, THRUMMING AMBIENCE BUILDS]

[An echo grows behind their voice] You know.

I know.

And this will be our little secret.

[Voice goes back to normal and ambience drops, but is still present] Okay, now that we’ve got that cryptic bullshit out of the way: moving on!

Quill Turner asked me what year it is- you can actually sort of math this out from a combination of the timeline of the Jackson Millennium Building and the Narrator’s age and familiarity with technology that would’ve been popularly used in the 90s and early 2000s, but it’s sort of… mid-2060s.

The Hole would’ve opened up mid-2020s, because… of course it would.

It would be now. It would be this decade.

Quill also asked, “Is the United States still a nation, and if yes, is it similar in makeup and global power to the United States of the early 2020s?”

This is the sort of thing I tend to actively avoid addressing, partially because it feels like tempting fate. The world is so weird these days that saying anything seems like challenging the universe to manifest it as a sort of Apollo’s gift of prophecy thing where you do a bit about Texas and Quebec separating and becoming allied sovereign states and then it becomes a thing in fucking 2025.

It’s possible that I might make references to things happening in the larger world, but I’m very unlikely to ever state anything outright- and that’s also because of how people talk.

Or, more specifically, how they don’t.

With some exceptions, these are not the things people are likely to sit around and casually exposit about.

Establishing things which would qualify as being common knowledge within the confines of purely conversational fiction is hard, because in the real world you don’t really find people going, [telephone filter] “Well, as you know, over a century after its partition from the rest of Ireland in 1920, Northern Ireland has finally separated from the United Kingdom and reunified with the republic,” [normal] unless they’re explicitly making content about that subject.

It’s just not how people talk. People tend to refer to things they consider common knowledge off-handedly, with the assumption that everyone present already knows what they’re talking about, and they’re unlikely to get into it unless somebody goes, [off to the right] “wait, what?”

So yeah. My answer is that I’m not gonna answer.

Speaking of things being treated as common knowledge until actively challenged, here’s a question from Crumpit, relating to the JMB: “Are there any other weird buildings, fiction or non, that you wanted to discuss but couldn’t find a spot for?”

Not especially, actually?

Something to understand is that the Jackson Millennium Building actually didn’t originate in SINKHOLE. It comes from an older project of mine that never actually came to fruition called Zero Tessellation, which was sort of a spiritual homage to the SCP Foundation in the form of the thing I have always found the absolute funniest about it, which is specifically the background radiation of all of these people working in spaces that are, by necessity, completely fucking demented.

Like yes, okay, cool monsters and ghoulies and vending machines, sure, whatever: but you cannot tell me that the most interesting thing about this concept is not that if Doctor Photon and Doctor Parsec want to hook up in a supply closet during their lunch break, they need to make sure the one they sneak into isn’t occupied by the resident broom-multiplying banana peel wizard of Site 69 that day.

That’s fucking incredible. Can I be real with you? That’s truly so fucking good.

The pure logistical madness of deciding to gather a slew of mind-bending objects and creatures into one place and then having to figure out how to navigate that space alongside other elements of workplace etiquette and behaviour feels so good in my busted fucking brain.

So, in its original form, the JMB was sort of this idea of a space which mirrored those needs in reality- a space that was so arcane and unintuitive to navigate that it itself kind of incidentally contributed to efforts at containment.

Big parts of the Jacksonesque documentary were ripped directly from the Zero Tessellation script because it was written to have a non-character narrator. The conversation between the Soper execs was originally a discussion between the higher-ups of a Foundation-like mystery institute about the pros and cons of buying the Jackson Millennium Building, and it ended with them coming to the conclusion that a building with a design so intensely wack that it seemed inherently anomalous was kind of a perfect disguise for actual anomalous bullshit.

Something weird happens? I dunno, man, probably just the JMB being incredibly goddamn cursed. Another day, another dollar, am I right?

There was also this element of them making this decision as people who would never actually have to work there, and how that reflected on the actual staff who had to suffer working in this hellish piece of architecture… and yeah. 

But that’s enough about that.

There are a couple questions here that I’m going to sort of roll together: Scott Paladin asked, “What’s the origin story for the podcast?” and Pacific asked, “Why sinkholes?” and the Venn diagram of my answers to those questions is almost a circle.

When I was in my twenties, there was a Wednesday.

And on that Wednesday, the street directly in front of my workplace at the time decided to… stop.

It just sort of stopped being the ground, which was not something I had previously been aware the ground could do.

Why sinkholes?

I’ll tell you why sinkholes.

[LOUD, EERIE NOISE]

A sinkhole is a bizarrely intimate sort of disaster.

[LOUD, EERIE NOISE]

Let me explain: with a tornado, that’s a weather system, that’s this huge thing utterly outside of your control that is bearing down on you like an angry god. With an earthquake, that’s a process involving movements in magnitudes larger than you could ever conceive of. These are things that are utterly beyond you.

With a sinkhole, you walked over that patch of asphalt yesterday with no idea a hole lay beneath you. The only reason you didn’t fall in is because the ground decided today was not the day it was going to become a hole.

The hole was there. It didn’t suddenly appear. It’s been there for a while now.

Waiting.

[LOUD, EERIE NOISE]

And that’s something I just have to live with, now. That’s just something I know and can never stop knowing.

At any time, in any place, there could be a hole.

[LOUD, EERIE NOISE]

I’m going to roll these next two questions together, too: Scott Paladin asked, “Which part of creating SINKHOLE did you enjoy the most?” and Pacific asked, “What’s your favorite part of making the show?” and the two of you should be friends, I think. Some strong same-brainitude going on here.

My favourite part of making SINKHOLE is that I can just… do whatever the fuck I want. If I want to make the audio version of a Tik-Tok, I can do that. If I want to write an Instagram influencer going “Hey babberz,” I can do that. If I want to make a shitty, completely inane tech ad that tells you nothing about the product it’s trying to sell you, I can do that.

SINKHOLE is my project, and I can do whatever the hell I feel like.

And I think that actually rolls nicely into Scott Paladin’s last question, which is, “What has surprised you the most about the response to SINKHOLE so far?”

[Sort of laughing] That there was one.

I need everyone listening to understand something: I made SINKHOLE with the full and comfortable expectation that about ten people in the world would really, really like it and everyone else would go,

[Telephone filter] “Kale, what is this? What is this, Kale? What did you do? We left you alone for like five minutes, and you made a podcast about a hole! Kale? Kale, what is this?”

[Normal] So yeah.

I truly did not see this coming.

I cannot overstate how completely this was written without any regard for a potential audience… and also how completely that will continue to be the case.

Notable and esteemed eel enthusiast Daisy McNamara asked, “Do you have any pieces of media that you would consider to have inspired SINKHOLE, or to have influenced it or your writing in general?”

I think that distinction would go to I Am In Eskew, which is one of my favourite horror podcasts- the elements of isolation in an urban environment, of both belonging and not belonging, of being unable to incorporate yourself into the place you are for reasons beyond your control: I fucking love I Am In Eskew. I think I’ve listened to it straight through three times, and it’s fairly rare for me to listen to things more than once.

It definitely had an influence on SINKHOLE, for sure.

A person who may or may not be achill3a asked, “What was your creative process like for SINKHOLE, and what advice would you give to people aspiring to make their own podcasts or other creative venture?”

I’m going to level with you, because I got into this a little bit when I was talking about Zero Tessellation: you’re allowed to recycle.

The actual process of writing SINKHOLE was ungodly fast, because when I go, I go, and you’re all powerless to stop me.

But there’s a lot of scaffolding under SINKHOLE you don’t see- I think I blew through two other podcast ideas between deciding I was going to make my own podcast back in June of 2021 and sitting down to start writing SINKHOLE in September, and even before then, I had played with the idea of scripting a podcast with stuff like Zero Tessellation and Deep Window.

There are a lot of elements to SINKHOLE that were borrowed from older projects that never went anywhere- sometimes as flagrantly as the situation with Jacksonesque in episode four.

It’s not stealing if it’s yours.

If you wrote something years ago that you still think is really cool but never found a place for, I encourage you to borrow from it shamelessly and incorporate those elements into something new. There’s nothing wrong with using labour you’ve already expended. It’s just efficient.

The idea that art has to flow seamlessly from pen to page in an unbroken stream is absolute fucking dogshit. That’s not how it works. Artists keep sketchbooks for a reason, and writers are allowed to use their old drafts the same way. You’re allowed to come back to things you’ve discarded and use them for things that are different than what you had originally intended them for.

And you’re allowed to chop and screw. Who’s going to fuckin’ stop you?

On a more technical level, Carol, or Oscilite, asked, “Are the sound effects for the Sinkhole from a library or did you create them?”

The sound effect I have been using for the Sinkhole is a piece of Creative Commons audio from freesound.org. I think all of the sounds and music I have used for SINKHOLE thus far have come from freesound. It’s an awesome resource.

Kossilar asked, “Is the main character’s condition and/or inability to access the NEV a metaphor for mental illness or neurodivergence of some kind?”

I’m going to say no, not really. The Narrator’s inability to access the NEV is fundamentally an issue of tangible disability- a big part of this narrative revolves around the way evolving technologies, while wonderful and exciting, tend to leave disabled and chronically ill people behind. They’re not designed with any real thought given to those among us who might not have the same physical resources to engage with them- and when those considerations are taken, they’re always afterthoughts, uh, additions or modifications, not elements of the original design.

There definitely are elements to the accessibility issues being discussed here that do relate to people who are neurodiverse or mentally ill, but that’s not what’s being examined with the Narrator specifically.

Notably esteemed eel enthusiast Daisy McNamara asked “will we ever find out the Analyst/113’s username or gamer tag so I can stop calling them the Analyst?” I’m so sorry, Daisy.

All I’ve done today is disappoint you.

Probably not.

There is a reason the members of the community latched on so quickly to the nickname “113” despite it being a little bit derogatory, and that’s because the Narrator’s absolutely one of those people who has a username that is an unpronounceable string of letters and numbers.

Their username is probably like, fucking, 22W6489H-50G, or- it’s something that sounds like a serial number. That’s just the sort of person they are.

They’re the sort of a person who has a different handle on every single platform they’re a part of and is also a dedicated lurker as a rule. In the canon of SINKHOLE, this is the only public forum on which they consistently post.

So no, you will likely never learn their handle because knowing it would do you no good- what you might learn, however, is their actual name.

They do have one of those, and it is pronounceable with your human mouth. No guarantees if you’re an eel.

Gaz asked, “Does the Sink have a tangible presence outside of distorted recordings and radiation? If so, can you feel a shift in atmosphere as you get closer? Does one smell ozone, feel a tingle or hear a barely perceptible buzz?”

This is a bit tangential and I promise I will get to your actual question, so bear with me for a second.

The Sinkhole is not under a dome because it’s radioactive. It’s not radioactive, at least not in any traditionally recognized sense. This is not a Chernobyl situation. If it was, nobody would live in the Sink. It would be an exclusion zone.  

The Sinkhole is under a dome because it produces an apparently sourceless light which does something incredibly bizarre to organic tissue: it creates a sort of… spatial duality wherein the affected tissue is present and behaving exactly as intended, but present and visible as well is this hole in reality that anyone but the afflicted person can just reach into as though the original tissue simply wasn’t there.

It gives you asterikoiloptosis. It makes you sunk.

Back to your question.

To actually talk about what it is that people experience when approaching the Sinkhole, we first need to talk about the fundamentally subjective nature of experience, because that’s very, very important to understanding the way the world of SINKHOLE works.

A true thing I can tell you is that not everyone responds to being near the Hole the same way, and also that it is impossible to know not only what that means, but if it means anything at all.  

Let’s do a hypothetical: if a study were to indicate that people who live near active volcanoes report experiencing tinnitus at a statistically higher rate than the average, that would sound pretty mysterious.

But it wouldn’t necessarily mean the volcanoes were doing anything other than being volcanoes and being present.  

It’s always possible that something like that could turn out to be purely circumstantial. That’s not a non-option.

It’s also possible that there could be socioeconomic factors at work which have had a hand in determining who ends up living close to a volcano, and that’s something with an established relationship to stress. Chronic financial insecurity is strongly linked to chronic stress. Being poor is stressful. That’s a thing we know both scientifically and intuitively.  

It’s also very possible that living near an active volcano is just stressful.

I keep talking about stress because stress is something we know can trigger tinnitus.

So, on its face, saying, “All these people who live near active volcanoes regularly experience a mysterious ringing in their ears” sounds… almost mystical. It sounds like something out of a cosmic horror plotline- some elder god singing beneath the molten stone.

But if you were to hand that data to a medical researcher, they wouldn’t even blink. They’d just start cross-referencing it with other studies to see if it fit within a larger pattern.

And that’s because a lot of things that feel significant to us do end up being part of a larger pattern, but the way they turn out to have been significant is both really complicated and impossible to prove in a way that would satisfy most people.

We understand the idea of something being cursed or haunted. We do not always understand the incredibly complex multitude of factors that go into a specific population in a specific space experiencing something specific and unusual.

And that also matters, because if you move into the shadow of the mountain believing that mountain is haunted, and if you are someone who believes in ghosts, that superstition and that belief also have the potential to become a source of stress for you.

It compounds.

So.

Consider for a moment just how poorly the Sinkhole is understood.

Do people feel a shift in atmosphere? Do they smell ozone? Feel a tingle? Hear a buzz?

Almost certainly yes, and more besides.

But it is literally impossible to know to what degree any of that is the result of the Sinkhole actually doing something rather than the result of the Sinkhole being present and perceptible and the source of a lot of superstitious belief. It might be something it does. It might also be something people do to themselves as a result of being people who are near something they know is weird.

So, I guess my answer to that is, “yes, but not in a way you could reasonably include in any research about the behaviour of the Hole itself.”

Sir Not Appearing in This Podcast asked, “In universe, are there any overlaps between the Sinkhole recording enthusiasts and other hobbies?”

Oh, for sure. Both the sinkhole tapes and the Sinkhole itself are attractive to certain kinds of creativity- you absolutely are getting people who are making weird noise music using recordings of the Hole and people cutting together surreal bits of media from sinkhole tapes, that’s for sure a thing.

Otherwise, I think elements of the environment surrounding the Sinkhole have gradually attained a certain level of popularity in indie horror media- there are a lot of empty buildings in the innermost ring of the Sink, the auditory landscape of the area is super weird and eerie, asterikoiloptosis is deeply bizarre and kind of existentially upsetting.

I think the Sinkhole left a mark on horror media in-universe that is very identifiable if you know it’s there.   

Kossilar asked, “Which tabletop roleplaying game would you choose to run or play a game in the world of Sinkhole?”

I do not fucking know.

If you know me, you know I am infamous for my debilitating inability to read rules and retain any meaningful information from them.

What that means is I haven’t had a lot of chances to play a lot of different games, and if I haven’t played it or watched or heard someone else play it, I have absolutely no concept of how that system actually functions.

So… I don’t know, but I think it would be very cool to see what other people did with that idea.

Final question here: Carol, or Oscilite, asked, “Are there any plans for more merch?”

I am still comprehending the fact that people not only want merch, but started asking me for merch by like… episode three.

If you didn’t know that SINKHOLE merch existed before this moment, that makes sense because the only time I bring it up is when people ask. [laughs] If you want merch, there is a link on the Official Art tab of the website that will bring you there.

In terms of having other merch designs, I have thought about it, but not with any particular focus or intent. It was never really in my plan to have merch in the first place, so if there are things people want very badly, I’m open to suggestions. Yell at me on Twitter about them and I’ll think about it.

The only thing I’ve been seriously considering making is a design for a t-shirt that reads, [telephone filter] “Update: it’s all trains” because Shay’s reading of that line consistently makes me laugh.

Alright, with all the questions out of the way: a very warm welcome to everyone who came here from the single Reddit post that constitutes the entirety of my promotional efforts for this podcast. Hello!

And an equally warm but significantly more startled welcome to everyone who came here from the SCP Archives podcast, which Pacific was kind enough to shout out SINKHOLE on. Thank you, Pacific.

I did not have the chance to listen to that episode until two days after it’s release, so I did spend the first forty-eight hours of that experience completely at a loss. [laughing]

Hi! Welcome!

In more general news: at this point, season two has been entirely scripted, all episode art is done, all parts have been cast, and I am moving forward into the recording and editing stage. Not sure how long that’ll take, but I’m generally pretty good about keeping folks updated over on the sinkholepodcast Twitter.

If you’d like some suggestions on things to listen to in the interim, there are a couple I would love for you to check out and give a try if they sound like they might be your thing.

The first was mentioned earlier in the goof portion of this program: Blake Skye: Private Eye is a self-aware cosmic noir podcast about a down-on-his-luck freelance detective in the ambiguous 1930s who takes on a simple job investigating the cheating husband of a wealthy woman only to discover that it is nothing but a loose thread at the edge of a much larger conspiracy. It’s a very loving but un-self-serious homage to noir as a genre, and it’s really blossomed and come into its own throughout the course of the first and second seasons.

Also, if you want to hear my debut as a voice actor, you have to stick around until at least episode six.

If something you really like about SINKHOLE is that element of a cohesive world in which the rules and behaviours of the people involved make intuitive sense, another thing to check out would be Breathing Space, Fading Frontier. It’s a sort of Western-flavoured science-fiction anthology podcast taking place within the confines of our solar system- it has a very similar vibe of “everything changes except people,” and unfortunately for our good friend Premier Anatoly Cherdenko (better recognized as Tim Curry) space is not the one place [dubious Russian accent] that hasn’t been corrupted by capitalism.

Despite being an anthology, the world in which Breathing Space operates is so consistent that it doesn’t feel like an anthology, if that makes sense. It’s very good, uh, and also you will be hearing both my voice acting and my audio editing work in upcoming episodes of season two.

As a bonus: if you thought my little rant earlier about what I love about the SCP Foundation as a concept sounded fun, maybe check out the Foundation After Midnight Radio Podcast. I’m not involved with that one, it’s just a very fun and tongue-in-cheek little comedy presented as the broadcasts of this Foundation-wide internal radio program. It doesn’t take itself seriously at all, it’s just a good time.

I think that’s everything- and with that, I will see you in season two.

Stay safe, and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]

INTRO: [A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. It is suddenly cut off by a low tone.]

Hello, and welcome to the Q&A portion of our program.

[Sounds of camera shutters and the chatter of a small crowd fading in]

[Spoken from a podium in a dubious and gruff English accent like an old-timey police constable talking to the press] Ah, yes, hello again… ah, some familiar faces, I see.

I’m sure this will go… swimmingly.

[warily] Dustin.

[mostly normal] DustinYourEyes here, from Twitter! In recent weeks, the FLOATHILL has engorged with a visible upsurge of mass, of which the largest and most recent spike occurred around September 16th. Are there action plans in place, or soon to be, in order to combat this literally-growing exponential, existential threat? #FLOATHILLRISING #FLOATPOCALYPSE

[dubiously English] Dustin, how many times must I tell you: we do not speak of the FLOATHILL. Be silent. [seething] You.

[The world’s weirdest Sherlock Holmes] It is I, the famous detective Gaz, and I have a question of utmost importance for you. SINKHOLE plushie when?

[beat]

[still dubious] Eh… Cut a softball in half and call it the Dome. Done. [pointing] You- ugh… not you again.

[Imitating Pacific Obadiah’s intro on the SCP Archives Podcast] Hey! Iiiit’s Pacific. What do you think of eels?

[still dubious] Not this again.

[fast-talking reporter] Notable eel enthusiast Daisy McNamara here! This random stranger has an excellent point! Where are the eels, Kale?

Why must you two conspire against me in this way? Why is it always the eels with you? I’ll tell you where the eels are- in the lightless depths of the Sargasso Sea, doing their dark works and hastening the end of days as is their right to do. [beat] You. You’re new.

[less confrontingly British] Ah, hello, Interiority here with a couple of questions: In 2015, award-winning Canadian comics writer Ryan North became trapped inside a hole with his pet dog, Chompsky. After reaching out to the residents of Twitter to help him escape, my mate Nicole suggested he use his umbrella to free himself and scoop up his dog. This plan succeeded, and Ryan’s ordeal was covered by outlets as varied and diverse as the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun, and NOW Magazine. Both writer and dog survive to this day.

Given the obvious similarities between this story and the one told within your podcast (holes, people becoming trapped, a general air of Canadian adorability)-

[interrupting, Britishly] I… feel you have missed the memo on this being the part of the program wherein my listening audience heckles me with random nonsense questions of little consequence and no real substance. What you have just asked me is altogether much too charming a bit of pub trivia to really belong. Would you like another go at it?

[same as above] Oh, alright. Let me check my notes. Ah! So: “You won’t find love in a hole” is a lyric from Scottish indie band Frightened Rabbit, but popular internet hangouts such as Tumblr, Livejournal and Geocities are abuzz with rumours that SINKHOLE season three will offer a dissenting view. Are you prepared to comment on next season’s expected shift into romantic comedy? Is it true that The Narrator’s new romantic interest is the Hole itself? What are the challenges of portraying a character trying to snog a kilometres-wide void via an audio-only medium? And can you confirm that the Hole insisted on an intimacy coordinator being retained for these scenes?

…Before I answer: Is that all of your questions?  

Ah… not quite, no.

Let’s have it, then.

Hi Kale, how are you? 🙂

[Sound effects stop abruptly]

[Speaking normally] I’m good, buddy.

Hi. I’m Kale Brown, the creator and primary voice of SINKHOLE.

Before we get started, I’d like to introduce a new… mechanic to this Q&A: the hassle counter.

I’ve brought on three separate guests for this episode. All of them have been featured on SINKHOLE at least once, all of them are good friends of mine, and all of them agreed to be a part of this program without requiring me to explain anything at all about what they should expect, which should tell you a lot about their willingness to be good-naturedly hassled by me.

When you hear this sound-

[light tone plays]

-that means I have successfully hassled one of my guests.

When you hear this sound-

[dull tone plays]

-I have been hassled by one of my guests.

[thrumming drone fades in]

Now, let’s begin.

Please welcome Jesse Hall, voice of James “Jim” Falk, also known as The Tecto Guy. How you doing, Jesse?

JESSE: I’m doing good. I’m doing good, so what’s the question, Kale?

KALE: I have a question here from Butts, and the question is, “Why do you continue to use talentless hack Jesse Hall?”

[light tone plays]

JESSE: [laughs]

KALE: [laughing] Do you care to weigh in, Jesse?

JESSE: How dare you make me answer my own question.

KALE: I knew it was either you or Pacific. [laughs]

JESSE: [laughing]  

KALE: And I was like, “You know what would be funny? This.”

JESSE: [still laughing] How dare you?

KALE: Anyway, you can find Jesse on his show, Tales of THATTOWN. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about Tales of THATTOWN?

JESSE: It’s a show what asks, “Hey, if demons were afoot, what would rednecks do?”

KALE: [laughs] Yeah, that’s a pretty good way of summarizing it.

JESSE: The answer’s punch ‘em, by the way.

KALE: Gotcha. You can also hear Jesse in Devoid of Space episode Perfect Integration, in which I make notorious goober Jesse Hall play a serious role.

JESSE: How dare you.

KALE: [laughing] You love me.

JESSE: [sighs dramatically] I’m contractually obligated to say yes.

KALE: I’m contractually obligated not to compliment you. [laughs]

JESSE: [laughs]

KALE: But, uh, yes: that was the whole thing. I knew it was either you or Pacific and I was like, “I’m going to be an asshole.”

JESSE: [laughs a lot]

[a brief dip in the background drone.]

KALE: Please welcome Elias Taylor, voice of Kennedy Jackson- also, actual scientist. Do you want to tell us a little bit about what you do, Eli?

ELI: Uh, sure, yeah- I research thyroid hormones, I’m mostly interested in how thyroid hormones impact development and how that’s changed over time, so I spend a lot of time looking at invertebrates, mainly. Do a lot of work with sea urchins.

KALE: So what all of this means is that Eli is much smarter than me.

ELI: I wouldn’t go that far, I’ve just spent more time on sea urchins.

KALE: But yeah, I have a couple of questions that I was interested in hearing your reaction to- well, to be clearer, I have one question for you and another I am holding you accountable for.

ELI: [laughs]

KALE: So, the first one is… either this is from Stone Sea or Stone-essea- I don’t know which based on how it’s written, but this is the question: “You have confirmed that the Hole is essentially timeless inside, does this apply to spatial dimensions as well? Since it is timeless it has/will always exist, so theoretically is always open somewhere. Has anything been Flung that couldn’t have fallen in at the location of our Hole?”

ELI: …Oh god, y’know- [laughs] I’ll have you know I normally check the Wikipedia article for the physics before I start talking about this kind of thing- [laughs]

KALE: [laughs] Good, I never thought about physics even fucking once writing this.

ELI: I know, I know. It sounds like it could make sense? Really not a physicist.

KALE: [laughs] This is why I asked you- because it’s funnier this way.

ELI: [laughing a bit] Oh no.

KALE: I have a literature degree. [beat] So now that we’ve established that you’re not a physicist, I’d like to read the second question, which is from… Elias Taylor, number one Kennedy Jackson fan, and it is as follows: “What colour(s) is sinklight? Light escaping an area of slowed time is red-shifted – would that make the sinklight reddish? Or is this a Colour Out of Space scenario where it can’t be described? Or would I just personally see the light as red, because that fits better in my subjective experience?”

[laughing a little] Now, having stated that you’re not a physicist, please explain yourself to me.

[light tone plays]

ELI: [laughing] So, for example, areas of extremely high gravity, like around a black hole, experience slowed time, and light escaping those areas I believe are red-shifted. Uh… that’s all there was to it.

KALE: Okay… the colour of Sinklight is bright but also not as bright as you’d expect.

ELI: [beat] Thank you.

KALE: [laughs] Thank you for letting me confront you with unexpected questions, one of which was yours.

ELI: [laughs] Well, it was my pleasure- let me know if you’ve got any more horrible questions for me.

[a brief dip in the background drone.]

KALE: Please welcome Vic Collins, the voice of Emrys Lorde, who will be joining me for… maybe the remainder of this experience? Maybe not. [laughs]

VIC: [chuckles] That is… that is a threat and a half.

KALE: How’s it going, Vic? [laughs]

VIC: It’s going well! I mean, I think it’s been well-established that I will insist on calling this character “Ambrose” for the remainder of the project.

KALE: You will call everyone in my show Ambrose- you’ve called Dorian Ambrose before-

VIC: Yep. Yep. I really like the fact that we’ve got the guy who’s come out of the Hole now, Professor Ambrose-

[dull tone plays]

VIC: Looking forward to seeing more from them.

KALE: [long, bewildered beat] The guy who came out of- what are you talking about?

VIC: The guy who came out of the Hole!

KALE: A bunch of people came out of the Hole!

VIC: Yeah, but the person you specific- who Ambrose specifically stepped over.

KALE: [even longer, more bewildered beat, then laughing] What are you talking about?!

VIC: There was a whole extended scene at the end where Ambrose- one-one-three- is like “Hey, how are you doing?”

KALE: Dorian.

VIC: “What are you-” Yeah, but we’ve established a bit now and I’m going to commit to the bit.

[dull tone plays]

KALE: [bewildered laughter] I don’t- I’m so lost

VIC: [laughing] Well, we’re already two minutes into this recording, so we’re off to a flying start.

KALE: Oh my god… I need you to understand that the notes in my thing here were “Harassing Vic” but the reverse is true-

VIC: [laughing]

KALE: I’m being harassed on my own program!

VIC: Yeah, and this is why you script my stuff, because otherwise I go off on one.

KALE: Aw, fuckin’- that’s why I would never script your things, you’re much funnier just off-the-cuff.

VIC: [chuckles, then beat] No, but specifically, when Dorian is walking through and there is the second Fling occurring, the professor from within, um… sorry, I’m terrible with names- but, um, I believe Jesse’s character-

KALE: I don’t know wh- [stunned beat, then incredulous] He’s not a professor!

VIC: Is he not? Okay.

KALE: No! He worked for TectoVision!

VIC: Okay, fine- well, regardless…

KALE: Doctor Timothy Morris fell into the Hole- that was one of the people who worked for Calliope-

VIC: Yep.

KALE: Otherwise, yeah, the only two people who we know of that have fallen into the Hole that did not come out in the Fling, uh, I believe are Jim Falk, who is Jesse’s character, and-

VIC: Sorry, yes, it was Jim Falk who Dorian stepped over.

KALE: Yeah, that’s- [laughing] Also, Dorian didn’t step over him– makes it sounds like they were just like, “Well!” and stepped over him like a- like a sack of rice-

VIC: What were we even talking about? Just me calling everyone-

KALE: I don’t know because I’ve been mystified since the beginning of this!

VIC: [laughing]

KALE: So you’re excited to see more from Jim Falk since he- yes. Yes, because I did the sneaky thing and I credited Jesse in the notes of that episode, so you do know that it is him that you hear at the end there. Um…

VIC: Yes, ‘cause otherwise there’s no particular identifier, ‘cause it’s just like [groaning noises].

KALE: Yes.

VIC: As Dorian just lightly kicks him with a shoe. Pokes him with a stick.

KALE: [bewildered laugh] He literally skids onto the ground beside them and they’re like, “Oh fuck,” and turn off the recorder!

VIC: I mean, y’know, I respect Dorian’s commitment to poke in privacy.

[dull tone plays]

KALE: Oh my god… uh, so basically- about the grunt- Jim’s grunt-

VIC: Yes.

KALE: I asked Jesse- I was like, “Hey, can you do me a solid, can you- uh, for no particular reason, can you give me an impact sound kind of thing, like can you give me some foley work kind of thing- some vocal foley work-”

VIC: Mhm.

KALE: And did not explain it at all, so the title of the file he sent me is “getting thrown to the street because of the hundred-twelve is getting got.”

VIC: [laughs]

KALE: Because I refused to explain it to him. [laughs] And it was like- no, not one of the hundred-twelve- one of the next batch.

VIC: Mhm.

KALE: But yeah, let’s get into the actual questions before I keep you up until midnight.

VIC: Sounds good.

KALE: So I actually have a couple of questions that are somewhat relevant to you-

VIC: Uh-huh.

KALE: -if you’d like them.

VIC: I object to any question that is relevant to me.

KALE: [trying not to laugh] Did you say you object to any question that’s relevant to you?

VIC: Yep. Yep.

KALE: …Well, throw these ones in the bin, I guess.

VIC: [laughs]

[dull tone plays]

VIC: Yeah, what else you got?

KALE: Too bad, this is my show.

VIC: [laughing a bit] I was wondering how much I could just push that Canadian politeness- it’s like, “Oh, what am I gonna do with this now?”

KALE: Listen, there’s Canadian politeness- you’re also just my friend-

VIC: It’s true.

KALE: -so I will let you get away with a certain amount-

VIC: Mhm.

KALE: -but I also know you’re not serious, so… [beat] So my first one here is from the Order Of The All-Seeing Eye Researcher #37, and it is: “When will Emrys Lorde answer my e-mails?”

VIC: Depends what it’s about? If it’s asking for anything, probably never.

KALE: [laughs quietly]

VIC: If it’s offering something, probably about a week before he needs it? If it’s…

KALE: Uh-huh?

VIC: …Just general fan stuff, then-

KALE: Immediately. [laughs]

VIC: I- I dunno, it’s either immediately or in six months and he’ll feel incredibly guilty about it.

KALE: Uh-huh. I was gonna say, I also feel like Emrys is extremely online- Emrys is 100% the kind of guy who will not see your email for three months but will answer your Twitter DM instantly-

VIC: Yep. Oh, definitely.

KALE: Immediately. That’s Emrys’ energy, he’s the world’s most online man.

VIC: Hands down, particularly for a person who has a whole swathe, a whole area of online he literally can’t get onto- he is terrifyingly online, even then. It’s like- he is-

KALE: Yeah, he’s impressively online given the actual limitations of not being on the NEV.

VIC: Yeah, he is effectively engaging with internet memes whilst solely using a rotary phone in a backroom.

KALE: [laughs] Yeah, he’s on like a fuckin’, uh… oh god… I wanna say like… DOS or something.

VIC: [chuckles]

KALE: But yeah, I have another question here, which is: Not Amy – “Who is going to direct the sinkholeallcapsonlywhispers?” [beat] Now here’s a bit of inside baseball here- this is an inside joke- that I would love if you could explain to the listening audience, Vic.

[light tone plays]

VIC: What, the “sinkholeallcapsonlywhispers”?

KALE: Mhm.

VIC: I mean, it’s not really my inside joke, it’s literally-

KALE: I did not start that.

VIC: I mean, you did, because you aggressively capitalized the show every time it’s been referenced, so it’s always all-caps SINKHOLE-

KALE: Because that’s how the name works!

VIC: -but then you only ever- like, the title is literally whispered.

[dull tone plays]

KALE: Because it’s supposed to be an echoing voice that’s in a hole!

VIC: Yeah. So it’s all-caps, only whispered. It’s really not that hard.

KALE: So for reference, our good friend Vic here streams and is a vtuber, which I actually didn’t know when I cast him as Emrys Lorde-

VIC: That’s true.

KALE: -it was just a very funny coincidence.

VIC: [laughs]

KALE: And has shouted out SINKHOLE several times on stream- and at one point early on, insisted on- like, insists on whispering the title every time he says it-

VIC: Because whenever the title is said, it’s whispered!

KALE: It’s- no!

VIC: Yes!

KALE: The title is- it’s only- you have a sample size of one and it’s the intro, that’s it

VIC: Yes, but if we’re going to take from the text- you have a literature degree. Surely you must recognize the supremacy of the text when you are taking this-

Kale: I do, and the previous Q&A is right there, and I talk about the show and I never whisper the name-

VIC: [laughing] Well, then I can’t account for your failings.

KALE: I need you to redo this essay and return it to me.

VIC: [laughs quietly]

KALE: Because you didn’t look at your sources.

VIC: I mean, are we taking the primary work, or the author-

KALE: [laughing] Oh my god.

VIC: -because I would argue, based on death of the author, we can look at the text purely on its own merit, in which case-

KALE: Vic Collins, threatening my life live on air.

VIC: [laughs] Anyway, what was the question? Who’s directing sinkholeallcapsonly- what does that actually mean?  

KALE: Who’s- yes. Uh, yes- Amy had asked- sorry, Not Amy. I just couldn’t include all the questions, I had to cut a couple of them out-

VIC: Gotcha.

KALE: I believe the first question that I had cut out was about who would play the narrator in a television or movie adaptation of SINKHOLE- and I don’t know actors? I’m like… why would ask me that, of all people?

VIC: Well, no- why would you not do it? It’s your show, you are the director, producer, principle character, like- if you are suddenly in a position where you can have SINKHOLE created as a TV show, why would you not just… ‘cause ultimately, it’s a bit- it’s kinda like that  whole with the Mandalorian, where it’s like it doesn’t really matter who you cast, because you’re going to have like-

KALE: Sorry, one sec, I have to turn off my fridge.

VIC: [laughing a little] Sure.

KALE: For those unaware, I make all of this in a hydroponics tent lined with moving blankets in a single-room-with-attached-bathroom bachelor apartment.

VIC: What I believe I have described as “Satan’s own workspace.”

KALE: I have a new desk now!

VIC: [skeptical] Congrats.

KALE: My laptop screen is still held together with electrical tape, I am still struggling to get my PC working-

VIC: [chuckles drily] Yep.  

KALE: But now I have a shelf, so Gordon can no longer, uh- Gordon is my cat- Gordon can no longer yeet my audio interface onto the floor as he has done many times in the past because now it’s on a different level than him. ‘Cause he will lie on my desk and that’s just the facts. Anyway, I have to go turn off my fuckin’ fridge-

[fast-forwarding sounds]

VIC: Right, so, I was pointing out that in the event that we were casting SINKHOLE, why would we not just cast you, who is a perfectly competent actor who is very well-versed in the source material.

KALE: Well, I mean, being a voice actor versus being a screen actor are different things-

VIC: I mean, if you’re that concerned about it, then surely it’s like, just… body double. Ultimately, the person playing Dorian would be entirely… effectively edited out, it’d be kinda like the Doug Jones in Hellboy.

KALE: Well, ultimately, I think actually- realistically- if SINKHOLE was going to be adapted, I think it would do best adapted animated. Just for like… obvious reason.

VIC: Mm.

KALE: I think very stylistic, and actually, if someone was going to direct it- sadly he has passed away but I think Satoshi Kon would be probably the coolest person. A Satoshi Kon SINKHOLE would fucking rule. [laughs]

VIC: Mhm.

KALE: Yeah, there was another question from Not Amy, and it was: “Are there any moments you wanted to include in sinkholeallcapsonlywhispers but couldn’t?” And again I just included that because this is what you’ve done, Vic. This is what you’ve done to me.

VIC: [shameless] Yeah.

[dull tone plays]

VIC: What are you looking for? If you’re looking for an apology, you’re not gonna get it.

KALE: [laughs] It’s not coming, I know.

VIC: All you’re going to get from me is a smug sense of satisfaction-

KALE: It’s palpable from here- you’re across an entire ocean and I can still just feel it.

VIC: Mhm. In fact, it’s basically- it is the face you will be very familiar with inasmuch as it is probably the face that Gordon looks at you with when he has kicked off your audio interface. [beat] So these weren’t questions, these were more just things for me to play off.

KALE: These were me accusing you for your sins. [laughs a bit] Anyway, yeah, go watch Vic on Twitch as Loxley, the Satyr of Strategy.

VIC: Mhm.

KALE: I’m his mod, and constantly heckling him, so that’s also a thing.

VIC: Yeah… it’s like, realistically, I have very few instances where I can- in public- give you shit on your project, whereas you regularly have that avenue into mine to give me shit, so.

KALE: I once again reiterate: you made me your mod.

VIC: It’s true. And I stand by that.

KALE: It’s a thing you chose to do. [laughs]

VIC: You have been less dangerous with that responsibility than I think you otherwise would have been.

KALE: It’s true- if you give me responsibility, I settle down. [beat] But yeah, here are some actual questions- another one from the Order Of The All-Seeing Eye Researcher #37- thank you for making me say that entire mouthful every single time-

VIC: Mhm.

KALE: “Did the existence of the Hole have any impact on religion or other spiritual beliefs?”

So… I feel like there is definitely some element of superstition and stuff, but I have to reiterate that it’s an extremely localized thing- it’s 100% one of those things that there are people in other countries who have a vague idea of, “Oh, this thing happened,” but don’t even realize that it’s still open. It’s weird enough that people are tangentially aware of it, but a lot of people don’t know much of anything about it-

VIC: Did you want to have any more comment on religion?

KALE: Yeah! If you have any thoughts, let me know.

VIC: I mean, I feel like- depending on how local, the fact there was a cult, and a bit of that area- like, a compound that was owned by the cult- fell into the Hole… I definitely feel that either a rival cult or some form of fringe sect of Christianity is going to have pointed to just that one bit of cult property that fell in the Hole and be like, “Hm! Definitely God’s punishment.” My interpretation is that it’s gonna depend on how local any given person was to the Hole, and how much religion played into their life already.

KALE: Yeah. Yeah, yeah- the thing with the Carpenter Embassy is that it was already pretty covered up… and it had been kind of a bit since it had closed down- the Carpenter Embassy was also very local, but that definitely the sort of thing you’ll find on like… a Geocities page or something-

VIC: Yeah.

KALE: Like if you go deep-driving into weird conspiracy shit, there’s definitely somebody out there talking about the relationship of the Carpenter Embassy to whatever’s going on. There’s definitely also that element of, like- you know for sure there’s some weird fringe religious group talking about the Carpenter Embassy falling in and it being some sort of divine punishment- you know that’s happened, it’s impossible there isn’t somebody who’s getting kinda wild like that.

VIC: Oh, definitely.

KALE: Though, uh, even weirder because there was no one in it, so… [laughs] Yeah, fully empty. There’s a lot of superstition about it locally.

VIC: Mm.

KALE: It is a thing. But didn’t have really any overarching impact on religions institutionally- or even spiritual beliefs- because outside of the city and the surrounding towns, it’s not as big a deal as you’d expect. Because while you look at it and you’re like, “Oh, god, that’s super fucking weird,” it’s been… decades, and even crazy shit- people just sort of get bored with? People get used to things, and they get bored with them.

That’s just how people work.  

Things you think are like, “This is always going to be crazy and wild-”

No? No.

When you talk about Chernobyl and Hiroshima, you still think about the relationship to nuclear damage, and stuff, but people aren’t constantly focusing on those- it’s just like, “Oh yeah, yeah, that’s where that happened,” and that’s basically it, that’s the full extent unless you have a particular interest in that. And it’s the same sort of thing because it’s been decades.

VIC: If I’m any judge, things around the Hole are like a really niche pub quiz topic.

KALE: Yes. Absolutely, yes.

VIC: You probably couldn’t fill an entire round, but like, every pub quiz probably has one piece of Hole-related trivia that they just kind of cycle in every once in a while.

KALE: Yeah. Yeah, yeah- basically, yeah. That’s it. [beat] But we have a question here from our very own local detective Gaz, of accidentally no-scoping the plot of season two fame.

VIC: [laughs]

KALE: “If you’ll sit with me a moment and suppose something with me.”

VIC: Yes.

KALE: “If the Hole reaches forward in time- how far does it reach back? How long has it been here, just under your feet. Deciding, as I think you once said ‘today is the day I am not a hole’?”

[beat]

That’s the thing!

[echoing ominously] You don’t know.

And…

You just have to live with that!

That’s the whole point: you simply don’t know.

Achill3a asked: “Do you have ideas for seasons further out than three?” And the answer to that depends on whether or not I wrap up the storyline I am working through in three or if I have to roll it over into four for that. Because it is a limited run- this is not a constant thing, there is an end to this story.

God. The fucking Supernatural-itis this would so quickly delve into if I just had to sustain indefinitely- it would suck.

VIC: SINKHOLE season five features Emrys being sent back in time in order to try and prevent the Hole being opened in the first place.

KALE: [laughing] Oh my god. Shark-jumping.

VIC: Yeah, pretty much.

KALE: So I have a- well, I actually have a couple of questions here from somebody whose name is either Stone-Sea or Stone-essea, and I don’t know which: “Including some examples with this one, feel free to ignore any/all of them. What are the other physiological changes to someone with Asterikoiloptosis? Such as: Do they emit light? Are they translucent at all? Do the affected areas still age? Presuming the only difference between Superficial and Deep Sinkage is just that, how deep into the tissues it goes, is someone with 100% Deep Sinkage to the cranium essentially immortal provided the unaffected parts of the body are non-vital or can be medically maintained/replaced?”

[beat]

Something I’ve actually noticed a couple of people have sort of assumed is that- the idea that you could pass something through one side of a person with asterikoiloptosis and out the other- no, if it goes into a person with asterikoiloptosis, it’s just gone.

There’s no transparency, either, it’s literally like a… you’re looking at a gap in reality into another place. You’re literally just looking into a void. Because there are stars in there, there’s a certain amount of light that is emitted, but it’s not a lot- there’s actually an interesting question to be asked, of like…

The starscapes that you see inside of people are not static- they do actually move- and it’s part of what they measure at Paradigm. So there is an interesting question of what would happen if somebody- their view shifted into close proximity to a star, because then presumably someone could become blindingly bright at all times, but that mercifully has not happened. [laughs] Because… truly a nightmare.

But in terms of whether or not the parts of people who have deep sinkage, there’s actually a question to that- because something kind of important to realize is that it’s been about ten years since the initial Fling, and Dorian very notably talks about how there’s “a hundred-twelve of us, assuming everyone’s still around.” The assumption that everyone would still be alive is a little bit notable because it’s not like everyone who came were like… twenties to thirties, there were older people.

And it’s also one of those things where if someone had a complication in an area with sinkage, they can’t be operated on if they have deep sink.

Yeah, so there’s something to be considered about that- the short answer is: at this point, that is unclear. And that’s as much as I’m gonna say.

VIC: My takeaway is that it’s not like some kind of scar or pigmentation of the skin, it’s fundamentally an absence. It’s not like… and I guess, to an extent, it’s really hard to work out where that absence goes from and to because… how would you seek to measure that?

KALE: Yeah, well… so, in somebody who has superficial sinkage, you actually do know, because basically adjacent to the area you can see how deep it goes- in people who have deep sinkage, it’s just- it’s all the way through.

It’s just fully all the way through, there is no limit to that- it is and isn’t an absence, it’s like a weird… quantum co-occurrence, because the thing is that the person’s skin and everything is still there.

VIC: Mhm.

KALE: It is still tangibly and actionably there. The top half of Dorian’s head is 100% there- it is there, and they talk about that, like, if they touch their face and everything, it all feels normal- but it is also simultaneously a gap or a…

It’s hard to explain.

But there’s another question from the same person, which is: “Can a person with Asterikoiloptosis learn to control their intangibility, i.e. allow something to fall into the void even when aware of it?”

No, not really? It’s almost an instinctual thing- it’s like if someone throws something at your face, your instinctual urge is to flinch away or move-

VIC: Mhm.

KALE: You can’t make yourself not aware of your face. You can’t just mind-over-matter “this will not hit me”- I think there’s a certain amount of dissociation people could do, but it’s still… you’re instinctually going to be like, “This is going to impact me,” and the awareness of that prevents it from not hitting you.

If you’re standing there with your eyes closed and don’t know? Somebody could throw something at you and if you just don’t know it’s coming, yeah, it’s gone.

And that actually kind of leads into- there’s a question here from w o r m, and it’s kinda related, it says: “If not paying attention allows things to fall into space, does being unconscious mean there’s a danger of pillows falling into heads overnight [or at least enough to irradiate parts of them]?”

And that’s one of those things where I feel like with larger objects and pressures- consistent pressures- not so much. It’s a little bit complicated. Things that have a consistent pressure around other parts of you that are not affected by asterikoiloptosis, they don’t tend to dip in- there’s a weird stabilizing element to that.

And then there’s another question here from w o r m, which is: “Do people with extreme sinkage need to keep a lead lined biohazard bucket in the house in case of void accidents?”

And this is actually a really interesting one because this is an example of Dorian being an unreliable narrator-

VIC: Mhm.

KALE: So if you know or are someone who is disabled, something you realize very quickly is that there’s basically two kinds of approaches that people take to chronic illness or disability- and the first (and I find, more common one) is “I’m going to learn absolutely everything I can about my condition because knowledge is power.” They know everything and oh yeah, they’ve heard about this one study that came out in 1998, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera- and “Oh, that was discredited by this”- and then there’s the second kind, which I find it more common in older people but not exclusive to that, which is where someone went on WebMD for five minutes, got freaked out, and committed to knowing as little as possible.

Dorian is the latter. [laughs] There’s a reason that the second any of the questions in the AMA episode get even slightly technical, they’re like, “There’s shit online, you can just go read that.” [laughs] The actual amount of radiation that things sustain is- it’s cosmic radiation, it’s the same amount as something being out in space. So it’s not good, but it’s not like make you sick, make your hair fall out kind of radiation. In an extended period, might not be good- but a brief amount? Probably not going to hurt you.

Dorian’s very much one of those people who is like, “I am going to think about my condition as little as possible.” It’s not something they love talking about because that’s… some people’s experiences. Their relationship to it and their knowledge of it is a little bit flawed, which is something to keep in mind- if it was something genuinely something where it was like… that was a huge issue, these people would all be in constant quarantine, because they’d be a risk to everyone around them all of the time.

VIC: And themselves, presumably.

KALE: Oh, yeah. Yeah, it’d be unliveable. Accidents are frequent- like little thing dipping in, even without you realizing-

VIC: Have there ever been instances where something’s only partially sunk in, like, there’s just… y’know.

KALE: Yeah. No, 100%. Yeah, if you become aware of something halfway, it’ll stop, and you can remove it-

VIC: Mm.

KALE: -it’s just, it’s not… pleasant? Dorian talks about a little bit when they’re talking about their experiences during the Fling, about thinking their arm was broken- it’s not painful, it’s just weird and unpleasant. It’s unpleasant and inconvenient.

So no, there is not really a need for that- it’s one of those things where if you go and you research it, you realize very quickly that this person you are hearing from has kind of a tendency to over-simplify, and also not a super robust understanding of their own condition.

But yes, there’s another question from Butts here- thanks, Jesse- which is: “Are there people that get their NEV removed? Like a new age Amish?” And absolutely, a hundred percent yes. 100%. It’s not super easy, there are elements of it that you cannot get removed after but you can be disconnected- putting this stuff in is a lot less risky than going in and removing it, because having to remove this sort of thing, you could damage tissues- but you can render it inert. And people do. People absolutely do.

It’s not super common, it tends to relate to if there’s complications or some of the things Dorian talks about with the kind of element of “something very, very bad happens to someone you know,” and then there’s like… an anxiety that tends to rise- that’s- yeah, it’s stuff like that, typically.

I actually- I do have a question here from Pacific, which is, “Have you told people about the audio verse awards? You’re nominated!”

Yes, I am! And I put this off so long- god, I hope I get it out before the thirtieth, because that is this round of the nomination phase. [laughs a little] So yes, I am nominated in the audio verse awards- as of this recording, we are just in the first stage, which is just to narrow down the shows remaining in each category. I am under the new shows category, obviously, because the very first episode of SINKHOLE came out in of this year- this is a pretty new show.

VIC: [chuckles]

KALE: Though it feels like it’s been three years.

VIC: Well, it makes sense because you’re going into season three. You work incredibly quickly.

KALE: I… yes. Listen. Listen.

Listen.

I… started writing SINKHOLE on September 29th of 2021, so I did in fact write, record, edit, and release two seasons of this show within a twelve month period.

VIC: If I recall, does the audio verse not require you have, like, a list of five that you’re nominating for different things?

KALE: I believe so, yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

VIC: They didn’t want it to be a popularity, so… instead you need to have like five that you’re proposing.

KALE: Yeah! Go and nominate your favourites, the things that you think are awesome and really deserve to be on there- there’s lots of really cool new shows coming out, like ROGUEMAKER and Badlands Cola. There’s lots of really neat stuff that’s there in the other new categories, and obviously some old favourites in the returning shows, so like obvious Silt Verses, which continues to rule.

But yeah, if you have an interest in that, I encourage you to go vote in the audio verse awards.

So only a couple more questions here- I got one here from notable and esteemed eel enthusiast, Daisy McNamara, which is: “Does all technology experience the same type of degradation that Sinkhole tapes do? Like, if one put in a circa 2022 smartphone, will whatever data one pulls from it behave the same way?”

And the answer to that is no. Most solid state stuff doesn’t have any problem- if it did, you would have a hard time getting recordings and stuff from the narrator, just because their computer would constantly be borked.

And then the last question here is, of course, from Eli, the number one Kennedy Jackson fan, and the voice actor of Kennedy Jackson: “Will we be hearing more about Jackson’s ‘Peg-leg’ of Heron Fault, now that Heron fault looks important-ish?”

Probably.

And that’s the whole answer.

VIC: [laughs]

KALE: But yes, thank you so, so much for listening, and I am hoping to at least have season three start releasing by February 4th, which is when SINKHOLE started releasing. Knowing me it’ll probably be before then, but I’m giving myself more time, because… nine weeks is not a realistic turnaround, and I-

VIC: I mean it’s also worth pointing out that you are working on a number of other professional projects, which means that you do not have the same amount of time as you might necessarily have done so nine months ago when you created SINKHOLE.

KALE: True. True, yes. Yes. So… yeah, I don’t have the same amount of time.

Thank you very much for sitting and keeping me company while I mumble my way through many answers, Vic.

VIC: You are more than welcome, I am always happy to kind of be here, and… it’s a pleasure hanging out, as always, and yeah- I look forward to working with you in future seasons.

KALE: I am very excited for season three, I just have to sit down and write it.

[a brief dip in the background drone.]

I’d like to say thank you once again to Jesse, Eli, and Vic for joining me on this adventure- and to all of you for listening. I’m very sorry that I couldn’t get to everyone’s questions- there were a lot of them and I prefer not to have the Q&A episodes run incredibly long.

If it wasn’t for all of you, I would be just be making this for myself and no one else- and as willing as I am to do that, it is nice to know that people are enjoying it.

So I’ll see you in season three.

Stay safe, and try not to fall into any holes.

[The ambient music fades into the next track.]

[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]