[We hear the background noises of the cafeteria.]
DEVON: You sure about this? It just seems cruel to me.
BRYNN: It’s hilarious. Besides, she HUMILIATED me.
DEVON: You brought that on yourself though.
BRYNN: Look, it’s just some harmless fun okay? Totally harmless. I can do this by myself but it’s so much better with you.
[The crowd noise rises and falls to transition to a different group of characters.]
LUCAS: Jenna, yo. Have a seat.
JENNA: Oh, uh, okay.
LUCAS: Where’s your shadow?
MEL: That freshman who follows you around like a puppy?
DYLAN: They’re talking about Ellie.
JENNA: Ellie had dinner early. She wanted to get some studying done.
DYLAN: That sounds like her. She’s a good egg though. She was my lab partner in bio last year, probably would have flunked it without her.
LUCAS: Well, her loss, our gain. Have you met Ezer, Dylan, and Mel?
JENNA: Dylan and I met a couple days ago. Haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the others.
LUCAS: Well, Ezer and Mel are kind of the “it” couple of the pyromancers. Good people to know.
EZER: Lucas is hoping you’ll be the “it” couple of the Electromancers.
JENNA: OOOOkay, seriously, what does every boy at this school suddenly want - I mean, is beating up Brynn Tessek really that hot?
LUCAS: It’s not “not” hot, but Ezer doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I genuinely just want you to make the right friends around here. I swear I’ve got nothing else in mind.
[more cafeteria noises]
BRYNN: Surprise, surprise. She’s eating with Lucas Burns and those three Pyromancers who like to torment Pem.
DEVON: Eh, it’s mostly Mel and Ezer who do the tormenting. And that dude Carl. Dylan’s alright, for a pyromancer.
BRYNN: If you’re always hanging out with bullies and you don’t stop the bullying, that makes you a bully.
DEVON: Some would say what we’re about to do is also bullying.
BRYNN: And some would say turnabout is fair play.
DEVON: *deep sigh* Fine. But for the record, everyone else at that table is a better target.
DYLAN: Hot chocolate? Looks good.
JENNA: Yeah. Makes me think of home. *inhales deeply* Mmmm, so- bleh!
JENNA: It’s freezing.
DYLAN: Here, let me help you with that.
JENNA: Thanks. It’s weird I just got it. *takes a sip* Ugh! Still cold!
DYLAN: That’s- I just warmed it up.
EZER: And there’s still steam coming off of it.
LUCAS: Looks like steam, anyway. Knock it off, Brynn!
[we hear Brynn and Devon giggling]
MEL: You want to get your ass kicked again? Once wasn’t enough for you, eh?
[standing up, chair getting kicked back. Pyromancy sounds.]
LUCAS: Cool it, Mel.
EZER: That’s what Lord Lancook was doing to Jenna’s hot chocolate. It’s not nice. We’re gonna show them how to play nice.
JENNA: Guys, please. It’s fine. It was just a joke. A prank. Let’s not worry about it, okay. I should get back to the dorm.
BRYNN: [telepathically] Phase two?
DEVON: [tel.] wasn’t the hot chocolate enough?
BRYNN: [tel.] You kidding? That was amateur hour. And look, she’s not even rattled. Now, like we practiced.
JENNA: I’ll see you guys ar- ow!
[JENNA slips on the ice and collapses on the floor of the cafeteria, spilling the cold hot chocolate all over herself.]
LUCAS: Ok, that’s it!
DYLAN: Jenna, you okay? Let me help you clean that up.
MEL: Yeah you help her, we’ll take care of them.
LEONARD: Hey! Hey! Put that away, are you out of your minds. Put those out now or it’s detention!
LUCAS: Dr. Sumner, they pretty clearly started it.
MEL: Yeah, that slimy blueblood cryomancer made the floor slippery and then Brynn made it invisible.
JENNA: It’s fine. I just tripped, I’m clumsy, that’s all.
LEONARD: Either way it’s no excuse for violence. But I don’t see Ms. Tessek or Mr. Lancook anywhere-
LUCAS: Yeah, you wouldn’t *see* them. Don’t sonomancers have sonar ears or something?
JENNA: Thank you all, but, really, I’m fine. I’m just gonna head back to my dorm.
[footsteps, more chatter]
BRYNN: Thanks for the save Mr. S.
LEONARD: Don’t know what you mean, Brynn, I’m just keeping the peace.
BRYNN: Well, for the record, you were right. I *do* feel better.
[Electromancy theme plays]
NARRATOR: Electromancy, created by Nathan Comstock. Episode 6: Music Appreciation. Be advised- this episode contains bullying and a discussion of parental death.
[We hear the beginning of a pop song, as if through headphones. Ellie is singing along.]
ELLIE: Two hearts, beating as one, calling out to each other, out to each other- someday I know I'll look into your eye-eye-eyes. Someday -
JENNA: Uh, hey.
ELLIE: *abruptly stops singing and cries out* Oh, um, did you, uhh… hear that?
PEM: I think everyone in the dorm heard that.
ELLIE: Oh no.
JENNA: You sounded fine.
ELLIE: Oh no.
JENNA: Hey, everybody has to let off some steam every now and then. It’s cool.
ELLIE: It is decidedly NOT cool. It is the opposite of cool, its- Hey, what happened to you? You spilled something all over yourself.
JENNA: Brynn’s a little salty about how the duel went down. She pulled a prank on me and I ended up with hot chocolate all over my uniform. In front of Lucas and his Pyromancer friends, which would really sting if I cared what Lucas’s pyromancer friends thought about me. But it’s fine. I’m just gonna let her get it out of her system.
PEM: Really? She’s picking on people again?
JENNA: It’s really nothing.
ELLIE: Nuh-uh. It’s not nothing. And we have to get her back.
JENNA: What do you mean?
ELLIE: We have to prank her back. What do you say, Pem? You know her better than any of us.
PEM: I… uh, I... I don’t know. I’m not really a prank person.
JENNA: It’ll be fun. What’s something Brynn hates?
PEM: She hates that song you were just listening to.
ELLIE: She hates THE VAPOR SISTERS? Does she have no soul? Like I know everyone says their new stuff is just, so, like, they’re sellouts or whatever, but like honestly their last album? Still totally slaps. Like it’s different, but in a good way, you know? Like, it speaks to you.
PEM: Brynn definitely hates all of their music.
ELLIE: Ok, well, she's wrong, but I know what we have to do. This is gonna be awesome!
You know the PA system that the Dean uses to make announcements?
ELLIE: It's not powered by sonomancy. It’s electric. Same as the lights.
ELLIE: Amplification systems, like microphones or PAs, convert sound to voltage then back to sound again at the speakers.
JENNA: And while its voltage, Electromancers can manipulate it.
ELLIE: Exactly. Because it’s such a tiny amount of current, even a 2 like me can mess with it. But someone like you should have should have insane range. There’s speakers all over the school. All we have to do is find one microphone terminal no one is using.
JENNA: Like the one in the dueling arena.
ELLIE: Yeah, perfect, sure. And then we queue up the Vapor Sisters.
JENNA: Everywhere. Brynn. Goes.
[the song plays]
VAPOR SISTERS: We open our hearts, we look to the sky. We know love will find us, if we only try. Two hearts, beating as one, reaching out to each other, out to each other. Somehow I know I'll look into your eyes.
BRYNN: Devon, make it stop. How do we make it stop? I heard it in the shower this morning. Then while I was eating breakfast. I moved to the other side of the cafeteria, it started coming out of that speaker. It was even playing in math class. I’m losing it, Devon, I’m absolutely losing it!
[we hear Ellie and Jenna laugh and high five.]
DEVON: The music finally stop?
BRYNN: Out of the speakers maybe. It’s never getting out of my head. Isn’t there some psychomancy trick you can use to remove it?
DEVON: Oh no. And I’m not even going to try reading your mind until it's done.
BRYNN: You know we have to get back at them.
DEVON: Or we could stop escalating.
BRYNN: For a little while you mean, right? To lure her into a false sense of security? Wave a white flag then stab her in the back? I’m down.
DEVON: I’m out, Brynn. I went along with the hot chocolate plan cause I thought you needed to get it out of your system, but I don’t like where this is going.
BRYNN: Look, it’s a prank WAR, now, Devon. We call it off, we’re admitting DEFEAT. You think the Lancook family got where they are by admitting defeat?
DEVON: You know I hate my family, right Brynn?
BRYNN: But you love me, right?
DEVON: You’re exhausting.
BRYNN: But you love me.
DEVON: Not that much. Sorry, Brynn, You want to prank Donovan back, you’re going to have to do it without my help.
BRYNN: That’s okay. I’m the real brains of this operation. You know I’m the real brains of this operation. I got this.
[electromancy common room sounds]
JENNA: Ms. Harper! Hi! I didn’t… what’s up?
KATYA: Could I have a word?
KATYA: That obnoxious ear-worm from PA system- that was you, no?
KATYA: (let her stew for a bit) Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. Harmless fun. But I do think your control has improved enough for us to reduce your extra classes, yes? Maybe to two days a week?
JENNA: Wow. Uh, I mean, if you think I’m ready.
KATYA: You should think about signing up for an elective for the other slot. Let me know when you’ve chosen something and I’ll speak to the registrar.
[she begins walking away]
JENNA: Uh, Ms. Harper. I actually know what I want- is it too late for me to join the orchestra?
KATYA: I’ll talk to Felix about setting up an audition.
JENNA: Oh! Well, I’ll need to practice before an audition and I’ll need an instrument to practice.
KATYA: I can help you with that.
JENNA: Oh, sweet. Thank you.
KATYA: What instrument do you play?
JENNA: The salpinette?
KATYA: Oh. For Ellie and Pem’s sake I hope you are already not terrible at it. My suitemate played salpinette when I was in school here and the first two years were… not pleasant. [beat.] I’ll get you one.
JENNA: Oh. Uh.. thank you!
[we hear the melody from the folk song in episode 1 played slowly on a clarinet. It’s not awful, but it’s not flawless either.]
ELLIE: You’re not bad at that. How long have you been playing?
JENNA: Oh, gods, I don’t know. I started when I was very small. But then I stopped for a… a long time.
ELLIE: When was the last time you played?
JENNA: Elementary school? I’ve picked it up now and then since then but never in an ensemble.
ELLIE: That’s so sad. You’re like, really good for a person who hasn’t played in so long. I bet if you had kept playing all that time you’d be like, really, really good.
Oh no. I said something wrong, didn’t I?
JENNA: [sigh.] No it’s fine. Music is always something I did with my mom. When she…when my mom…[longer pause, she’s deciding if now is the time to say this] Six years ago, my mom went into town for groceries and she didn’t come back.
ELLIE: Oh wow. Jenna I’m really sorry.
JENNA: It was a long time ago. I… you know there was a search, we called the magecorps and everything… they even put a seer on it. She was just… gone.
ELLIE: Gone? What do you mean, gone? Seers can see everywhere, if the seer couldn’t find her then-
JENNA: The seer said she didn’t want to be found. Or someone didn’t want her found. Or… she was dead.
ELLIE: Jenna that’s… I can’t even imagine.
JENNA: It was a long time ago.
ELLIE: Not that long ago, though.
ELLIE: I’m sorry. I didn’t-
JENNA: You don’t have anything to be sorry for, Ellie. It’s actually really nice to be able to tell someone. Anyway that’s why I stopped playing. It made me think about her too much.
ELLIE: What made you want to start again? If you don’t mind my asking, I mean.
JENNA: I’m… maybe starting to get to a place where I want to think about her again? And…. it's weird, being me right now. Magic-wise I mean, everyone’s expecting me to be this prodigy. But I’m hoping maybe music will let me just… be me. For a couple hours a week anyway.
ELLIE: Oh, um. I get that, I guess.
JENNA: So, I have an audition on Friday.
ELLIE: Oh! Friday. Is that enough time?
JENNA: It’s coming back to me pretty quickly.
ELLIE: Um, thank you for sharing that with me.
JENNA: We’re friends right? You’re the best friend I have here anyway.
ELLIE: Yeah. Uh, we are. I should… let you practice.
[more clarinet music. Cafeteria music fades in as it fades out.]
BRYNN: Mornin’ Pem.
PEM: *yawn* Hi Brynn.
BRYNN: You look a little out of it.
PEM: Had some trouble sleeping. Jenna has taken up a musical instrument.
BRYNN: Is she bad?
PEM: She’s pretty good, I just hate the timbre of the instrument. It kind of gnaws at my brain. Even after she stops playing it.
BRYNN: That sounds frustrating. You want to say something to Ms. Harper?
PEM: Since when do you advocate for going to an authority figure about anything?
BRYNN: Just looking out for you.
PEM: It wouldn’t be fair. Things… bother me easily. Noises, smells. But I don’t like to make other people change for me. I’ll get used to it. Or we’ll figure something out. I think she’s just practicing a lot right now because she has this audition on Friday.
BRYNN: Friday? And what time would that audition happen to be?
PEM: You’re scheming.
BRYNN: Me? Never.
PEM: I’m not helping you scheme.
BRYNN: Oh but you helped Donovan with her scheme?
PEM: I didn’t!
BRYNN: I was just telling you how much I hated the Vapor Sisters. How the hell else did she find out?
PEM: Ohhh. Um. In my defense I wasn’t completely tuned in to the conversation. Sometimes I space out, and then I heard a direct question so I just answered it. I’m sorry. It wasn’t meant to hurt you.
BRYNN: Okay, but don’t you have that weird honor code where now you have to help me too?
PEM: I do not. This audition is important to Jenna. Please leave it alone?
[last few notes of folk song from before. It sounds more polished. Applause.]
MR. COLLINS: Very impressive, Jenna. Now, there’s just one more test, we need to see how well you can sight-read. So here is a brand-new piece you haven’t seen before, and just… do your best with it, alright?
JENNA: Ok, sure. Got it. Okay, Jenna, you can do this.
[sound of a clarinet playing random, horrible notes]
MR COLLINS: Uh- wait, wait, stop. Jenna, that’s- do you need a moment?
JENNA: I’m playing what’s on the page, Mr. Collins. Is it supposed to be a song though? It just looks like random notes.
MR. COLLINS: Jenna, do you mind stepping outside for a moment?
MR. COLLINS: Jenna, I know that you are from Ardova, and that musical traditions in that region tend towards folk music and improvisation. There’s absolutely no shame in not being able to read music-
JENNA: Mr. Collins, I can read music! Someone is messing with me!
MR. COLLINS: Jenna, I am happy to tolerate cultural diversity and I am happy to work with students of different ability levels, but what I will not tolerate is lying. Now I know you may be special in terms of your magical skill, and maybe that’s given you a little bit of an ego in other areas, but what I care about here is your musical training. So why don’t you practice your sight-reading and you can audition again in the spring?
JENNA: I can audition again any time Brynn Tessek isn’t using photomancy to screw up my sheet music!
MR. COLLINS: Orchestra is a team effort. It is not a place where I will tolerate pupils blaming their failures on others. You are dismissed.
[footsteps - Jenna walks away from the orchestra rehearsal.]
BRYNN: Aw, sorry that didn’t work out for you.
JENNA: What did I do to you?
BRYNN: Hey, princess, it’s not what you did-
JENNA: I know, it’s what I am. You know, you love to think of yourself like a defender of the weak and helpless, but what you actually are is a bully. You just took the one thing about this school I was excited for and you ruined it. This stupid game isn’t fun anymore, okay? You won. Congratulations. You feel good about yourself?
Electromancy is written, produced and directed by Nathan Comstock. This episode was sound designed by Hedley Knights with music by Thomas Dwyer. The Vapor Sisters song was written by Hedley Knights and Nathan Comstock, with Kira Apple on vocals. This episode starred Azul Nova as Jenna, Austin Hendricks as Ellie, Aubrey Poppleton as Lucas, Leslie Gideon as Brynn, Tuesday Orion Ibert as Devon, Sena Bryer as Pem, Zachary Robb as Dr. Leonard Sumner, Tal Minear as Mel, Alex Lameroux as Ezer, Chris Magilton as Dylan, Kira Apple as Ms. Harper, Hedley Knights as Mr. Collins, and Bryan Green as the Librarian. The clarinet was performed by Eddy Martinez. You can find out more about us at www.electromancypod.com. We’ll be back with another episode in 2 weeks. And stay tuned at the end of the episode for a sneak peak at another show you'll love!
[ominous music. Noise like feet made of rock clanking against marble]
[More clomping and scratching. The Librarian gets up to see if they can see what’s making the sound.]
LIBRARIAN: I’m afraid the library is closed for the night. You’ll have to come back tomorrow.
[More clomping and a sound of something crashing through glass. A roar.]
LIBRARIAN: What the? Aaaarghhh! (Like a battle cry) [sound of someone trying to do magic, but it fizzles.] Damn, the wards! Blast it!
[sounds of a rock creature trashing a library]
LIBRARIAN: You’re clearly made of magic, how are you even? Oh, for gods’ sake!
[we hear the librarian running away as the creature continues to tear up the library. Then we hear them run into someone.]
LIBRARIAN: Leonard, thank the gods. There’s something… trashing the library. Looks like some kind of magical construct- but that can’t be because the wards are still in place, so if it’s spell work-
LEONARD: Calm down. Calm down. It’s all well in hand.
LIBRARIAN: What do you mean it’s all well in hand? Nothing should be able to penetrate those wards. Unless-
LEONARD begins to chant.
LIBRARIAN: What are you- what? What?
[The LIBRARIAN hits the floor. Leonard finishes his spell.]
LEONARD: Sorry to do that to you, but on the bright side when you wake up you won’t remember any of this. Now I really must be going.
[A classical piano loop playing in the background]
CURATOR: Hello and welcome to the Museum of Mysteries. We hope you’ll be willing to join us for our upcoming exhibit, “Deep Blue Stars.” This exhibit features the work of Dr. Indigo Pigeon Hale, an archivist responsible for the better understanding of the Star Shell. This exhibit is an audio experience, complete with Dr. Hale’s real notes at the time of their expedition. The audio was generously donated by Seraphim Feldman-Rodriguez and Opal Hale. This exhibit is underwritten by Lavender Lemonade Collective.
For your listening pleasure, here’s a sample of what’s to come!
[a recorder click, sounds of waves crashing in the background, gentle music fades in]
INDIGO: There are no stars out this afternoon. Just big wet clouds in the sky and the hot, hot sun beating down on my skin. All there is to hear is the chittering of crabs [crab chitters] on the shore, the waves crashing in and out, and the wind blowing through the one lonely tree. My own wretched voice, of course. I spend so much time thinking there must be something wrong with me. Somehow I must not be smart enough or I don’t want this enough?
Then I remember I want the Star Shell bad enough to leave everything and everyone I love behind. So yeah, I want this. It’s probably just that I’m not smart enough. Or Imposter Syndrome, which when I had a therapist, was something I was working on. I’m a nonbinary person in the sciences, of course I’m working on that.
My name is Dr. Indigo Hale. It’s Thursday, May 30th. Sometime mid-afternoon? My phone says it’s 10 PM, but of course, it’s set to the wrong timezone. I don’t know what timezone I’m in - or if I’m even in a time zone. I suppose I’m past shore, past the time when time even matters. It is well past that time.
[a recorder click, the light music and the waves stop, classical piano loop fades back in]
CURATOR: This exhibit was created by Mik Koats and you can find the full first season on the right, past the gift shop, on your favorite podcasting app.
[music fades out]