lost time incident 30 – poisoned wastrel, abandoned house

lost time incident 30
Last night, I fell asleep listening to a DJ spin records in South Korea. He was mixing Korean rock music, grime from the UK, vocoder funk from the US, streaming live. During his sunny Sunday afternoon, this DJ was providing a soundtrack for my Saturday evening. I sincerely hope I never get used to how amazing that is.

The entire world, traversed in an instant.

It still feels like magic.


fun and/or games
I spent much of Saturday playing video games socially. While Amanda was asleep, I streamed myself playing a racing game via Twitch. In theory, I was supposed to be playing as a young man on a path of vengeance, working his way through the underground racing circuit as an undercover agent for law enforcement. But I don’t care about racing games much, so I was busy ignoring the central structure of the game.

I got this game because it was free and because its game map is huge. I can drive across the entire United States! So instead of racing and solving crime, I took some viewing strangers with me on a trip and introduced them to the pleasures of spirit quests in the American Southwest, talked to them about aliens while visiting Roswell, New Mexico, and about how cocaine money lead to a real estate boom in Florida while visiting Miami. I criss-crossed the nation at top speed, wherever fate took me.

It was fun.

Later, Amanda joined me on the couch to record some videos. We wanted to record ourselves playing a few games we wanted our friends to know about. One of these was INSIDE, a tense thriller of a game where you guide a young boy as he attempts to avoid menacing strangers, journeys through dark woods and bleak landscapes, and encounters bizarre science.

Want to watch us play the first 30 minutes or so?


portents of spice



candlewick: the rigors of the admissions process
In previous installments of this newsletter, I’ve written pieces in the world of The Beulah Candlewick School for Young Magicks. Candlewick is a dangerous institution for students, with a distressingly high rate of injury and death. But no one said magick is easy.

If we’re talking about magic in the manner that most people think of magic, then we’re talking about tricks: how one can direct the attention of another person in such a way that you can make them believe that they’ve seen something impossible. It’s an act of misdirection. Much like how you started reading these words, and imagine them spoken by a voice, and have found yourself several sentences in without realizing that, as if by magic, this story has already begun.

But this story doesn’t limit itself to mundane magic that can done with quick fingers and keen planning. This story involves real magick, to which we’ve added an additional “k” consonant, as a visual reminder. This sort of magick is dangerous, as are those who practice it, because it’s not limited to the manipulation of perception. Mysterious and arcane forces are actually set to work to make real changes in the world.

Which is why it’s a terrible idea to let young people do it unsupervised.

To address this issue, the faculty at The Beulah Candlewick School for Young Magicks maintains on its payroll a cadre of recruiters who are tasked with enrolling young people who have discovered their own way to manipulating magickal energies, independently.

This is why Mr. and Mrs. Woolson found themselves sitting in their living room, cups of tea growing cold on the low set coffee table in front of them, across from a serious looking recruiter in a dark suit.

Mr. Woolsen squinted at a trifold pamphlet with full color photos of the school. “Mr. Scidmore, was it? This is a lot to take in. I hope you understand.”

“I understand,” responded Scidmore, the recruiter.

“Because it would be a considerable disruption. It’s almost halfway through the school year already and Jaymes seems to be doing fairly well with his studies. I can’t help but think that he might be… thrown off his stride, if we were to have him transfer schools just because of this carrot thing.” Mr. Woolsen removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.

The “carrot thing” being referred to is an animated creature that Mr. Woolsen’s son brought to life through an instinctive use of vivification. The living carrot creature became an inseparable companion to young Jaymes, though he was wise enough not to share its existence outside of his family, who really would rather that he had eaten his vegetables at the dinner table as originally asked.

“Here’s the thing,” said Scidmore. “The reason I’m here is because magick— real magick— is a weapon. And there’s no way to disarm a teenager when the weapon is who they are. Throw in—” and here Scidmore shuddered. “Throw in puberty and you have a recipe for disaster. All those hormones. Those… changes. The brain in a bubbling soup. If you’ll look at the back of the brochure, you’ll see that our tuition is quite reasonable—”

“One more question,” interrupted Mrs. Woolsen. “You said that this institute is a secret. How do we explain where Jaymes has gone when we’re asked by his school why he’s not longer attending?”

“It’s all taken care of,” said Scidmore. “It’s in small print on the … just inside the inside cover. We report your child as missing.”


“To the police. The authorities. And then, upon graduation, your child is returned and the case is closed.”

Mrs. Woolsen looked to her husband with some alarm, though Mr. Woolsen was scanning the small print inside the inside cover. He murmured, “Sure enough, there it is.”

As with mundane magic, Scidmore’s presence was a distraction. While Mr. and Mrs. Woolsen considered the pros and cons of enrollment, Jaymes was already in a short bus with all his belongings in his lap, his gaze blank, ensorcelled by the school’s efficient admissions group. The admissions team were sitting in the bus’s front seats, filling out Jaymes’ enrollment forms and filing away the credit card information they found while investigating the Woolsen’s finances.

The illusion was complete. The Woolsen’s would either decide to enroll their son or they wouldn’t, but the end result was predetermined. Tuition would be extracted. The Woolsen’s dangerous son would be kept off the streets, where he might imbue even more foods with limited free will. His carrot golem sat in its usual perch on Jaymes’ shoulder, swaying with the motion of the bus.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” repeated the golem, as enthusiastic as ever.

Everything was working as planned.


ending theme song
I didn’t think I was going to write about Jaymes and his carrot golem, but when I was looking through my bookshelves for things to use as header images, I came across an actual carrot boy! It’s from a comic by Swedish artist Kolbeinn Karlsson. I had to take it as a sign.

Thanks to Amanda, my wife, for the illustration of the Candlewick pamphlet.

And thanks to you for showing up for one more week. As the prophecy preordained.

—Michael Van Vleet