1.4 Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound
A PRODUCT OF THE WHISPERFORGE; SOUND AND STORY BROUGHT TO LIFE.
[SFX: The fiery pit of the Canyon.]
TAU ZAMAN: CARAVAN would *not* be possible without support from our Lords of Hell! We want to give a shout-out to the eccentric Lord Bridge! This week Lord Bridge joined the other demon lords in terrifying everyone living in the 4th Circle to uproot and migrate to...the 3rd circle.
Canyoneers would do well to steer clear of Lord Dave, the decorative Lord of Hell. Rumor has it Lord Dave has been making these adorable little wreaths out of the entrails gutted from canyoneers who dared tread too deeply into the Canyon.
What’s this? A demon lord is evolving! All must genuflect in honor of our newly ascended Lord of Hell, Lord T.H. Ponders! Lord Ponders ascended from the ranks of the demon legions as a tiny but ambitious imp, and eventually traded in enough dark contracts to rise, reborn at last, as a self-made demon-lord!
We’re so grateful for our Lords’ continued patronage and, um, mercy, I guess.
[SFX; Fire fades.]
[MUSIC: CARAVAN theme starts.]
TAU ZAMAN: Before we jump in, a note on our content: CARAVAN is created for adult audiences only. We advice listener and reader discretion for graphic depictions of violence, frank portrayal of sexuality, discussion of mental illness and existential struggle, and some downright filthy language. It gets mighty dangerous in the Canyon, but if you need a breather—we’ve got your back. Whenever you’re feeling ready and able, we hope you’ll join us.
[MUSIC: CARAVAN theme.]
SAMIR (VO): Maybe I can't breathe but like hell I'm gonna go down on my first night in the canyon. I kick and buck as loud as I can against some crates stacked in the wagon.
[SFX: wooden crates creaking as Samir stomps against them with his boot.]
ARGEAUX: [Hushed] You hear that?
DAKOTA: [Hushed] Back in the wagon.
BANSHEE: [Shifting, ethereal] Quiet, boy!
SAMIR (VO): I kick some more.
[SFX: Stomping continues. Betsy whinnies.]
SAMIR (VO): Ah, shit. Betsy's spooked as hell, at least I guess so 'cause the wagon's bucking. And now we're...moving?
[SFX: Betsy begins pulling the wagon at an urgent gallop.]
[MUSIC: Chasing the wagon.]
ARGEAUX: No no no Betsy wait!
DAKOTA: God, you lovable dumbass beast o’ burden! Stop!
SAMIR (VO): I turn around to whatever's been sucking the air out of me. It's... some kind of ghost lady? No body, just an eerie, floaty head with these long, long, white wisps of hair. I guess this is the banshee. As the wagon bucks and rocks her head's bouncing off the inside off the wagon like a pinball!
BANSHEE: Fine, fine! I'll give you back your voice! But make the wagon stop!
SAMIR: [Gasps deeply for air] Oh, jeez, I really thought I was gonna pass out there.
BANSHEE: [bouncing against the walls of the wagon] I said! Make the! Wagon! Stop!
SAMIR: You know, I didn't think a levitating banshee would have such a hard time keeping balance in a wagon. Does it hurt banging your head everywhere?
BANSHEE: Fool! I should suffocate you after all!
SAMIR: Nononono okay wait! I just have to get Betsy to hear me. Betsy! Hey! Betsy! Um, there's fragile cargo on here! Could you slow down!
BANSHEE: Do something!
SAMIR: What the hell else do you want me do!
SAMIR (VO): I try getting up to my feet, but Betsy's moving at full speed now. The wheel catches on a big rock just as I try standing and get knocked back down to my feet again.
BANSHEE: Just get me out of—ugh! Just get me out of here!
SAMIR: Didn't you just like, teleport into here outta nowhere?!
BANSHEE: Well I can't! Exactly! Leave! Without! Getting my! Bearings!
SAMIR: If I can get the door open will that do?!
BANSHEE: Do it!
SAMIR (VO): I throw my full weight at the wagon door.
SAMIR: Shit. It's stuck!
BANSHEE: This is...so...embarrassing!
[SFX: The ride gets much rougher; various junk rattles in the wagon and Betsy lets out a shriek.]
SAMIR (VO): We're goners in this wagon for sure. Betsy's moving at top speed and there's no way the wagon's gonna survive all the twists in the road. Argeaux and Dakota can't catch up to us at this rate.
SAMIR: Sorry lady but I'm out of ideas!
BANSHEE: I have one! Trust me.
SAMIR: Fuck no!
BANSHEE: Open your mouth!
SAMIR: Absolutely fucking not!
[SFX: Loud thud and sliding objects.]
SAMIR (VO): The wagon swings sharply around a corner as a bunch of junk in the wagon slides over to one side. I almost feel like we're going to flip over, but we don't. Which makes me think there's probably just a steep drop right next to us. Betsy's reigns snap with a loud crack and for a second the wagon falls still. It teeters for a second, as if we're balancing right on a precipice, and I hold my breath, as if that'll do anything. For a second against all reason it feels like it's working. We stop moving. But inch by inch I feel us tilting over the edge.
SAMIR: Okay, whatever, I'll open my mouth! Then what!
BANSHEE: Scream for me!
SAMIR: You are twisted you know that?
BANSHEE: I said, SCREAM!
SAMIR (VO): I don't have much choice. The wagon finally gives away and lurches over the drop, we're in full freefall and I scream.
SAMIR (VO): And as my mouth opens, the weird ghost lady gives me a creepy smile and flies straight into my mouth.
[SFX: BANSHEE cackles and flies into SAMIR’s mouth.]
SAMIR (VO): Yeah. INTO my mouth. It feels like swallowing a snowball. Something freezing and wet pushes my scream back into my mouth and down my throat. Gross.
But then, a second later, it's gone.
[SFX: Droning sound indicating stopped time.] Time slows down all around me. I see the crates in mid-air floating up as the wagon drops down. And I'm...levitating? It feels like I'm in a falling elevator.
SAMIR (VO): And so...I scream again.
[SAMIR lets out a strange, otherworldly scream, almost as if the BANSHEE is screaming along with him from inside.]
SAMIR (VO): It's a horrible scream. It feels like...like antifreeze gushing through my veins. Needles exploding out of my nerve endings. It's not just me screaming, but the banshee screaming inside me. And there's this enormous, unstoppable tidal wave of rage washing through me me as we scream out. I've never felt anything like it. Are these her feelings?
No time to wonder. The stuck door blasts open in front of me. I get blown back against the inside, straight out through the back as wood and canvas break against the force of my body slamming through.
[SFX: The door explodes open.]
SAMIR (VO): And then...I'm floating there, outside in the night air next to the cliff. Time speeds up again and suddenly the entire wagon drops in front of me into the canyon below.
[SFX: Nighttime insects in the canyon and wind howling.]
SAMIR (VO): It's a long, long way down. I can't even see the bottom but I hear an awful crash when the wagon hits it.
[SFX: Wagon crash that echoes throughout the canyon.]
SAMIR (VO): Does this mean I can..fly? Before I can even try, I feel that cold, wet ghost lady coming up my throat again. And I guess she can still talk in my head?
BANSHEE: I'm coming out, boy.
BANSHEE: Oh, don't bother trying to speak. I'm in your mind. just think whatever you need to tell me.
SAMIR: [Voice echoing in his own head.] Wait you can read my mind?
BANSHEE: Only while I'm inside you. And I plan on leaving now, if you could just open your mouth again.
SAMIR: But if I do that do I stop levitating?
SAMIR: But then I'll fall!
BANSHEE: That's not my problem.
SAMIR: Can you just stay with me 'til we get to solid ground?
BANSHEE: I'd prefer to exit this wretched human body as soon as possible.
SAMIR: So you're just gonna leave me hanging?
BANSHEE: Not even hanging. Just dropping to your death. You're more trouble than you're worth.
SAMIR: But wait! You're the one who came to me!
BANSHEE: And now I regret it.
SAMIR: I'm just gonna try to float down and...hm. How do I do that exactly?
BANSHEE: You must will it.
SAMIR: Um, I'm willing it alright. This isn't one of those 'channel your chakras into the soles of your feet' things, is it? I tried doing it every time I watched Naruto and one time I went too hard and I kinda let out a fart.
BANSHEE: I don't know what any of those words mean, but no. You must get in closer touch with your body.
SAMIR: I don't exactly know how to do that.
BANSHEE: [Sighs] Alright. Take a breath.
BANSHEE: Now, that air inside of you. Imagine it's binding to every inch of you. From the inside.
SAMIR: [inquisitive noise]
BANSHEE: Stop making noise!
SAMIR: [plaintive noise]
BANSHEE: Quiet, boy. Don't just think it. Feel it. Now don't push it down. Picture it flowing through you in the direction you want to go.
SAMIR (VO): And I feel myself move. Just like that. Slowly I start inching downward, but I feel weightless. Like, it's not gravity pulling on me, just my body wants to move down. I want to make a noise, but I'm holding all this air in me and I don't want to let it go. I'm afraid I'll deflate and drop a hundred feet.
BANSHEE: When you feel ready, you can breathe out.
SAMIR (VO): It's a scary thought but at this point I've been trusting the banshee for this long. So I exhale, and sure enough I start dropping faster and faster. But I'm not falling. I take another breath and it slows down. I'm just a couple of yards above the ground now, and if I can just let go...
[SFX: SAMIR’S feet landing on solid ground as he sighs, relieved.]
SAMIR (VO): ...there. I'm on the ground.
SAMIR: That was...freaking amazing...thanks. You know. For not letting me just die out here. Does this mean you're gonna kill me now?
BANSHEE: Hmmmm, no, child. Now that I think on it, it's rather comfortable inside this body. Warm. Unusually so, I think. But snug. And cozy.
SAMIR: Well gee, I'm glad. You're not gonna like, possess me or anything, are you?
BANSHEE: We'll see.
SAMIR: Hold on, you're just gonna stay in there?!
BANSHEE: I did save your life, didn't I?
SAMIR: After putting it in mortal danger!
BANSHEE: Didn't you have fun floating in the air?
SAMIR: I mean yeah it was fun in like, a terrifying way. Does this mean I can do that whenever I want?
BANSHEE: So long as I am a welcome guest in your body, I shall lend you this power.
SAMIR: Dope! I probably shouldn't be excited about this, huh.
BANSHEE: Do me a favor, boy, will you? Take me somewhere pretty.
SAMIR: Uhm. I should try to find wherever Betsy got off to, and Dakota, and Argeaux...
BANSHEE: Well a flying boy shouldn't have any trouble doing that now, should he?
SAMIR: Can't you go sightseeing on your own?
SAMIR: Huh. Why not?
BANSHEE: I'm blind, boy.
SAMIR: Woah. I didn't know that. So...how did you find me?
BANSHEE: It's the strangest thing. Most nights I roam the canyon and I hear people's spirits. I chase them down and suck the life out of them. But with you, well. It felt like warmth. A nice fire in a cold night. I just moved toward it, and there you were.
SAMIR: Aw, you think I'm warm!
BANSHEE: It's an unusual aura to be sure. But I'd be cautious, child. There are far deadlier beings in the canyon than I. And a spirit like yours--they'll do whatever they can to claim it for their own.
SAMIR: I don't get what's so great about it.
BANSHEE: It's warm. And tasty.
SAMIR: Ew, you're not...tasting me right now, are you?
BANSHEE: [Trilly laughter.] Be at ease, boy. I will not eat my house.
SAMIR: Cool, um. Am I gonna need to start sucking people's souls now to keep you fed?
BANSHEE: Normally I would say yes. But this warmth in you... it sustains me. I require neither sustenance nor rest while I'm in its light. For now, go about your life. But take me somewhere pretty. Please? And tell me what it looks like.
SAMIR: Well. It's kinda pretty here, now that you mention it.
BANSHEE: Is that right?
SAMIR: Yeah. We're looking out over a cliff's edge into the canyon still. It's weird, the deeper I fall in, the deeper still it looks. It's like it keeps getting bigger and bigger right in front of my eyes. It's pretty chilly actually. But the sky's clear. Not like last night. You can see so many stars. God, I've never seen so many at once. It's beautiful.
BANSHEE: You've never seen stars before?
SAMIR: No. I'm a city boy. Usually the light pollution is so bad you can't even make out the North Star. Where are you from?
BANSHEE: I...don’t even remember. What brought you to the canyon?
SAMIR: I, uh. Kinda fell into it. My best friend Carlyle and I were on a trip. We were gonna sightsee. God, I think he'd love this view. I wonder where he is. If he's looking at it right now. If he's looking for...if he’s looking for me right now.
BANSHEE: You were separated then.
BANSHEE: I'm sorry boy, but if he's anywhere here in the Canyon without… supernatural protection, he's most likely dead.
SAMIR: Jeez, I hope not. I dunno, I feel like Carlisle could hold his own in a fight. He's pretty buff, you know!
BANSHEE: Hehehehehe. Demons can tear through humans like paper.
SAMIR: Yikes. So, um, yeah, can you fill me in on this whole demon sitch? Are we gonna run into those? Argeaux and Dakota kinda made it sound like a whole 'the night is dark and full of terrors' thing.
BANSHEE: Your companions are correct, though the danger is greater the deeper one ventures into the Canyon.
SAMIR: How come, are they like, coming out of some portal at the bottom?
BANSHEE: Why, yes, how did you know?
SAMIR: Holy shit. I didn't. But I’ve watched enough movies to guess. Anyway, that's like, super not good, right?
BANSHEE: Well they enjoy murdering, pillaging, and worse. So yes.
SAMIR: But you're not a demon. You're a banshee. Weren’t you trying to suck my soul out a minute ago?
BANSHEE: You’d prefer I resume?
SAMIR: Yikes, no thanks. But how many other dangerous things down here could be worse?
BANSHEE: Most are earthly beings. Werewolves, vampires, ghosts such as myself. We're from this world. Devils, demons, eldritch horrors...those are from another world. But I'm the only Banshee I've ever met.
SAMIR: And banshees are like...super mad lady ghosts, or something.
BANSHEE: In a manner of speaking. I didn't choose to become one. But… well, the world works in strange ways down here. What you feel becomes what you are.
SAMIR: And you got so angry you literally became a banshee?
BANSHEE: It sounds foolish to you, I know. But you will never know what it's like. To be filled with so much rage you forget who you are.
SAMIR: You don't even remember your own name?
BANSHEE: No. It melted away from me as my anger burned me into what I am.
SAMIR: For a really angry lady you’re awfully patient with me.
BANSHEE: That’s the thing about rage. There’s the burning feeling, but even a flame feels numb over time. Try being angry for all eternity. It can’t last. Let it come in waves and it’ll sustain you forever.
SAMIR: There's gotta be a way to turn you back, right? Like what if we just fix whatever you were mad about in life?
BANSHEE: If only I remembered. But I doubt it was any one thing.
SAMIR: I mean, it's gotta be a pretty bad thing.
BANSHEE: Certainly. But maybe more common than you realize. You would never understand.
SAMIR: Yeah, I'm kind of at a loss here. I don't know what you're talking about at all.
BANSHEE: Just leave it. You would never be able to grasp it. The anger. The rage of being a woman in this world.
SAMIR: Well. Shit. Yeah, you're right. I wouldn't. So you're saying, living a whole life one way is enough to make you into something you wish you weren't.
BANSHEE: I didn't choose it for myself, no.
SAMIR: I'm sorry.
BANSHEE: You should be.
SAMIR: I may not know what it's like to be a woman. But, uh. I dunno. The world hates me for all kinds of reasons. It'll never be the same as what you lived. But...I can try to understand.
[MUSIC: Samir’s soul expands.]
SAMIR (VO): Suddenly, I feel the banshee inside me turn into ice, and then a wave of heat washes through my body. I feel like I swallowed an icy-hot patch or something.
BANSHEE: That is kind to hear, boy.
SAMIR: I mean it. I'm really sorry that it happened. But...if you end up remembering ever, can you at least tell me? I'll try to make it right. I promise.
BANSHEE: You don't even know me. Fool. This kindness of yours will get you killed, child.
SAMIR: And yours spared my life.
BANSHEE: That remains to be seen. [Teasing.] I may eat you up yet.
SAMIR: Yeah, yeah. To be honest with you: there’s a lot of things about me should've gotten me killed a long time ago, given the world we live in. But hey. Those are the chances I take living everyday. What's one more? Come with me. Besides, I like having superpowers.
SAMIR: Well, I dunno, flying around and stuff. Argeaux calls them… adaptations. I don't see any downside to floating around instead of running. Though I really could use more exercise...
BANSHEE: What need have you for that when you can fly?
SAMIR: I mean. Have you seen Argeaux and Dakota? They're like. Supermodels. I look kinda tubby next to them, don't you think?
BANSHEE: Boy, trust me when I tell you: the creatures of this canyon can see something in your spirit they will do anything to get their hands on. It is far more desirable than a flesh prison.
SAMIR: Hey, only I get to call my body a flesh prison! Speaking of, are you gonna stay in here then? Are you gonna come with me?
BANSHEE: I think I shall. It's nice here. Just...when you see something pretty, you'll tell me about it, won't you?
SAMIR: Deal. What should I call you, anyway?
BANSHEE: Banshee is fine.
SAMIR: Really? It's a little, um, ominous.
BANSHEE: I quite like that. And besides, I said: I'm the only one I've ever met.
SAMIR: Sweet. Well, um, welcome to… me, I guess! This body's 20-something years old and it’s kinda creaky already! But who doesn't love a bit of a fixer upper? It's got good bones. That's what I like to say. And oh, these love handles!
SAMIR: Yeah! You just gotta love 'em. They're so squishy. Squish!
[SFX: Clothes rustling.]
SAMIR: Feel that?
BANSHEE: Faintly. Please don't do that again.
[SFX: The wind sharpens into a drone.]
SAMIR (VO): In that moment I feel another chill. But this one's not coming from inside me, this one's actually the wind.
BANSHEE: Careful, boy. We are not alone.
SAMIR: Somebody's watching us, right?
[SFX: A rock dislodges from the cliff side.]
SAMIR (VO): A rock falls and hits me in the shoulder. Something's up there.
SAMIR: Did you feel that?
BANSHEE: Of course. If I can feel your...'love handles,' I can feel the pain of a rock. Your pain is mine now. And mine yours.
SAMIR: Do we run from it?
BANSHEE: Run? Hahahaha! Nay, child, we fight!
[MUSIC: CARAVAN theme.]
TAU ZAMAN: CARAVAN was created by me, Tau Zaman, and produced by Mischa Stanton and me.
This episode was written and directed by yours truly, with performances by
Sushant Adlakha as Samir
Giancarlo Herrera as Argeaux
Danielle Shemaiah as Dakota
And Lisette Alvarez as Banshee.
Sound editing by Pacific Obadiah. Sound design by Mischa Stanton & Anna Rodriguez. Our theme music is by Evan Cunningham. Additional music by Mischa Stanton, and by Ilya Truhanov via Fugue. Visual art by Marina Vermillion. Press Kit by Kyle Boyce.
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