S02E01: The Best Way Out is Through

S02E01: The Best Way Out is Through

Update: 2023-12-061
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Description

Jasmine Control, a new hire at a shady governmental agency called The Department of Variance, went through an extended supernatural orientation that ended with her manager, Yellow Access, trying to meld the minds of every worker in the office. To save her friend Scarlet Jaunt from death at the hands of her new boss, Jasmine used her newly discovered psychic abilities to jump into the past, to a point where Scarlet was alive. She miscalculated, and now she’s stuck in Scarlet’s memories from 10 years ago.

This season picks up with Jasmine, Scarlet, Violet, and Daryll visiting the woods to see a lunar eclipse after their senior year of high school, ten years prior to the events of season one. But something else is lurking in the woods with them. Something…midwestern. The friends will have to figure out what’s going on and put a stop to it if they ever want to escape, and if Jasmine ever wants to return to her normal life.

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CREDITS:

Cast of episode 1: Cody Heath, Jesse Syratt, Em Carlson, Tatiana Gefter, Dexter Howard, Lena Garcia.

Art by NerdVolKurisu

Written, scored, edited, and narrated by Rat Grimes.

Transcripts available in episode notes at somewhereohio.com

(CWs: alcohol, food, smoking, derealization)

___

TRANSCRIPT:

ORANGE: It’s just as Green said: the stairway to heaven is always moving. I figured I was on the first step when I heard the cat in the diner.

I was heading to a little city in Michigan. I know, I know; “Orange Splice? In the field? Shouldn’t you be behind a desk at the Commission signing off on quarterlies?” But on some cases I can’t help myself. I can tell you that Red’s disciplinary report’s gonna have a lot of Orange in it. So this little city in Michigan, an industrial husk of a place. Full of slick palms and the poor souls wriggling between their fingers. I packed my bag and blew the joint. I slept in my rumbling hatchback on the way, and I ate and bathed as the great American trucker does.

As I crested the overpass bend on the final leg of the drive, I saw a city blooming with rot. Squat brick piles wheezing into the streets, oily sunlight, cars bleeding rust into the earth. Plumes of gray hovered over the place, like cotton soaked with kerosene. One little spark and the whole thing could blow. Maybe we’d all be better off if it did. Maybe we’re better off forgetting places like this. Scooping out what little’s worth saving and dumping the rest. Writing them off as a loss–another failure in the long lineage of midwestern decline. Or maybe it’s not that simple. I wasn’t going to Deerland to set it ablaze, after all. I was being led there for something else.

And so I rode up through the boiling roadkill highways of vulture county, past towns so small you could hear every single prayer on a quiet night. By antique malls decked with the heraldry of genocide. Under billboards letting you know you’re fucked before you even get there: Hell is real, and it’s about 25 miles that way.

I was going up there to find Olivia, now designated Jasmine Control by the Department. First saw her face on a milk carton, and I didn’t even know they still did that. Maybe they don’t. I slid downstairs that morning in a haze, a little box of strawberry milk I’d bought from the grocer in my hand. The milk itself didn’t last long. I turned the empty carton over in my hand, then unfolded and tore open the bottom. I held it up to my ear and listened for the ocean.

*sounds as room ambience becomes waves and various sounds*

ORANGE: I heard through and beyond the carton, through my wall and the early pink light outside, through misty pines and hundreds of miles of the big flat nothing. Through and before my life, and after too, and into a hip spot in Deerland, a coffeeshop on the corner that used to be three apartments. The tip jar on the counter was a glass milk jug filled with quarters and crumpled singles. And taped to the side was a photo and one word: MISSING—Olivia…Olivia. I exited the highway on the right, tires sizzling down the griddlehot blacktop of the narrow streets of Deerland, Michigan.

I’d need somewhere to stay in this weather. Cruised a while and found a place overlooking a decaying mall: Hotel 7. One better than Motel 6, the owner assured me through a pushbroom mustache. One worse than Super 8, I thought. Next I needed food. I was wading through thick waves of exhaustion by then, rolling slowly but surely onward, bowled over by the blindfolds and needles of fate. On the way to my room, I stepped into a corridor dripping with window unit condensation and lined with posters.

MISSING. A face repeated in nine squares. I shook my head and stared deep into the paper.

GIRL MISSING. I got caught on the origin of the word, germanic, maybe dutch. Gone, disappeared, vanished, typically without a trace. To be absent. In absentia. Guilt without a face, death without a body. Holes in the ground, gaps in memory.

The girl on the flyer opened her mouth and said something I couldn’t hear. Her breath caught in the humid air, suspended green in the neon glow overhead. I fumbled with my lighter in my pocket. I flicked it on and patted my coat pockets. No pack. I hadn’t had a smoke in two years. That’d change soon. High above, rising over the fire escape and ascending into the sick bruised sky, I saw two glowing spheres. The kid’s breath vanished and so did I. Once again back at my kitchen table, soggy milk carton in my hand.

If you were in my place, Green, what would you have done with your life? If you saw what was coming. Dive headfirst or take a dive? Deerland or Des Moines? After that first vision, I made the choice quicker than I’d like to admit. I dove, deep and breathless, into the variant night. Wait, let me back up. I’ll tell you how it happened chronologically–ontologically–not how my brain stitched it together. See, in my head I had already been to Deerland via milky astral lanes, already tried the coffee and divined the lines in the sidewalks. I was three days ahead of myself. Psychic lag. Pages colored

in without lines. I would be there in three days’ time. I would seek out Olivia, this missing girl, and a creeping feeling told me there’d be more to it than that. More Departmental business, which meant more paperwork. Figured I might as well get packing, I was in for a long night.

***

NARRATOR 1 (italics until Nyarrator/Narrator 2 shows up in ep 8 are Narrator 1, played by Rat): Jasmine looked around the jeep, trying to center herself. She was lightheaded, dizzy. She couldn’t tell if it was a side effect of the binding agonist or if this situation was just too much for her mind to handle. Psionic nausea.

OLIVIA: Is this how Green felt all the time?

It was not.

ASH: Look, Jasmine, you don’t know me, but I’m going to help you however I can from the wire. I used to work for the Department, as well. Assigned name Ash Chorus, stationed with the Dead Letter Office, then the…the division of Fictobiology. I’ve been sort of…telling your story for you, as strange as that sounds. I may have gotten a few things wrong, but I think I captured the heart of it. And I will continue to do so. I only ask one thing of you, and recommend another: do not mention me to anyone, and do not tell the others what you’ve done.

ALEX: Dude, who are you talking to?

OLIVIA: Oh, it’s just my mom making sure we got here okay. You know how she is.

ALEX: I guess. We met a couple times, right? Whatever, we’re almost at the clearing. This is gonna be epic.

OLIVIA: Yeah, uhh “epic.” Hold on. *quieter, on phone with Ash* What the hell is going on? How do I get back to my time?

ASH: I…I’m uncertain. What I do know is this: you’re in a memory, not in the past. For the time being, dispense with any theorizing and stick to what we know for sure: you, Jasmine, are in a memory from a little over 10 years ago, and that goo you drank that let you do this has worn off.  Now you can’t get out—a jaunt gone wrong—and you’re just going to have to live through this memory, however long it lasts.

OLIVIA: I guess that’s why it was Scarlet’s last resort when I was being chased. But still, she was dying, I had to do something!

ASH: I know, I know. Keep your phone with you, and hold it to your ear if you need to talk to me. I’ll help however I can in my limited capacity. Now hang up, you’ve been on the line too long and Scarlet’s getting suspicious.

OLIVIA: Okay, okay. *click, then quietly:* How did they know all that?

The simplest explanation was that Ash Chorus was not real. They were as much a phantasm as this place, this metastatic memory structure. Like the larks, the butterflies, bigfoot.

OLIVIA: They’re…you’re fictobiological. Sterling would have a heart attack. Wait, so you’re like a cryptid or something? Can you tell me if Nessie’s real?

In a sense, Olivia was right. But now was not the time to speak with the air. Her compatriots were growing concerned.

OLIVIA: Fine, I’ll stop talking to the first fictional person I’ve ever heard. Normal world.

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S02E01: The Best Way Out is Through

S02E01: The Best Way Out is Through