Episode 3: The Falling Problem

Bee:

Whatever.  It’s The Beacon.

Music: While Beasts Wander by Logan Nickelson.

Bee:

Hey.  This is The Beacon.  It’s a podcast about having magic or superpowers and looking for other people who have them too.  I’m your host, Bee. Like the insect. I’m the one who’s got the magic or superpowers and is looking for other people who have them too.  I thought I had found someone who did, but…

Yeaaahhh…that didn't turn out too great.

Hey, sorry if this is crappy quality and sounds like it’s being half recorded into a pillow.  That’s just because it is. That’s about all the recording I have energy for right now, lying here on my bed and speaking into this recorder.  

Sound Effect: Rustling of sheets.

Bee:

So, to recap, when I was recording the last episode, I made contact online with someone I thought was like me—someone with powers like mine.  I called them Fox. Fox seemed to really understand what magic was like, and they claimed they’d had it for almost ten years. If I’d just been a little more willing to trust them, I could’ve learned so much from them.

But I didn’t.  As far as I can tell, they’ve totally disappeared from the internet now.  My first, and maybe only shot at meeting someone like me and I blew it.

And of course, I haven’t heard anything from anyone else since then.  Like, aside from trolls. Like, seriously, someone’s sent me that stupid Last Airbender clip like five times now.

Talking about it on air probably just made people send it more…

As you might be able to tell, I’ve been a bit discouraged by all this.  I haven’t even been able to try practicing my magic lately. I was so behind in my homework after putting all my time into practice and posting on forums, I had to use my spare time to try to catch up on that, but now, I’m not even doing that.

I’m just tired.

Sound Effect: Pillow nuzzle.

Bee:

You know that feeling where like, you’ve got a big project or presentation to do and it’s worth, like...30% of your grade, so it’s a big scary deal?  But it’s also a group project, so until the other people in your group do their work, no matter how much work you’re doing, it won’t be done? And you know they’re not doing theirs, so you kind of rationalize, “Well, they’re not doing anything, so I shouldn’t have to either, right?”  And all the meanwhile, that project deadline is just looming closer and closer and it’s just this big thing of anxiety and—

I think I’m losing the thread of the metaphor there, but you get the idea.  I want to try—to do well at all this, but it’s so hard to get up the motivation when it feels like no one has my back.  And that project…

Silent beat.

Bee:

I know the wolf thing is still out there.  I keep hoping it’s moved on to another area or died or something, but I…I don’t think that’s true.  And I don’t think anyone else even knows about it yet, so it is literally only my responsibility, but I wouldn’t even know how to start dealing with it.  I mean, I’m just a coms major, and I do not have a minor in monster hunting.

So, I don’t know.  I don’t know what else to do.  I might just have to keep posting these pathetic recordings and hope someone else like Fox finds them.  Maybe then—

Sound Effect: Dorm door opens.

Sound Effect: Rolling over in bed.

Bee:

Oh, hey.  Sorry, I didn’t think you’d be back this soon.

Wolf:

Uh, hey, [BLEEP].  Whaaaat’re you doing here?

Sound Effect: Keys set down.

Bee:

Um, y’know.  Just some recording for the podcast thing.

Wolf:

…In bed?  With all the lights off and the curtains closed?

Bee:

…Method acting?

Actor Sound: Wolf sighs.

Wolf:

Look, can we, like…talk for a bit?

Bee:

I mean, I’d really rather, sort of, um, not.  Today, at least.

Wolf:

Come oooon, we haven’t actually talked in forever.

Bee:

Mmmnnn…

Wolf:

Come on.  Get up.

Bee:

Mmmmmmmnnnnn…

Wolf:

[BLEEP], come on, I’ll...I’ll buy you a mocha~

Bee:

A mocha?  Well…I guess…twist my arm, if you must.

Wolf:

Great!  Slap on some pants and let’s get going!

Bee:

Um, hey, if we’re talking while I’m recording stuff, would you mind calling me, um…Bee?

Wolf:

Uhhh, any particular reason why?

Bee:

Well, it’s my…character’s name in the show I’m making.  All the characters have animal codenames, and it kind of helps me get into character.

Wolf:

Well, alright, if it’ll help you with your weird-ass show.  Ooh, can I get a codename too then?

Bee:

Um, sure.  I don't see why not.  Did you have one in mind?

Wolf:

Yeah, I’ll be...let’s see...Oh!  I wanna be Wolf! I had such a wolf-girl phase growing up, like you would not believe and…Why are you giving me that look?  Is Wolf already taken or something?

Bee:

No, it-it’s-it’s just…Actually, nevermind.  Wolf is fine. It’s fine. Let’s just…yeah.

Setting Change: Cafeteria.

Wolf:

Your coffee good?

Bee:

Mm-hm.

Wolf:

Good, good.  Sooo—

Bee:

If this about all the coffee cups in my trash can, I swear, I was going to take those to the trash chute today.

Wolf:

No, no, it’s not about those.  Although, yeah, those are starting to get a little gross.  But, I’m just wondering, like…are you okay?

Bee:

…What do you mean?

Wolf:

Oh, come on.  You know you’ve been acting weird lately.  You’ve been coming and going at weird times and you won’t say why, you’ve thrown all your money into a recording set up but you literally won’t let me listen to a word you’ve recorded, I keep seeing like, singe marks on all your stuff, and you just look exhausted, like, all the time!  What is even going on with you?

Bee:

Well, I mean, it’s…it’s complicated.

Wolf:

Are you...depressed or something?

Bee:  

I don’t think so.

Wolf:

Pregnant?

Bee:

What?  How do you pull “pregnant” from coming home with burnt stuff?  Also, no. Not unless immaculate conception is back in fashion.

Wolf:

Well, what then?  Seriously, is this something I should be worried about?

Bee:

No, no, honestly, no.  Look, it really kind of all is about the podcast.  See, I just had this…brilliant idea for a story, like a shining epiphany of inspiration, so I’ve been putting a lot of time into making it come together as a podcast.

Wolf:

So, all the coming and going at weird hours?

Bee:

Opportune field recording.

Wolf:

The singe marks?

Bee:

Inopportune field recording accidents.

Wolf:

You being so exhausted?

Bee:

Art is exhausting.

Wolf:

Either way that all sounds cool as shit.  Why won’t you let me listen to any of it then?

Bee:

Well, because…it’s not ready yet.  And it’s nerve-wracking enough trying to work out all the details of how this is supposed to come together without someone judging a half-finished product.

Wolf:

You know I won’t judge, right?

Bee:

I mean, logically, yeah, I know that, but it’s still really scary to think of sharing something this…personal with someone.  Something with this much of me in it.  Like, once you put something like this out there, you can’t take it back, and if anyone says one bad thing about it, then you’re doomed to spending the rest of eternity wondering if it actually is that bad.

Wolf:

Yeah, I get that.  Like, I’m always so much more terrified to give a presentation I actually give a shit about because I don’t want people telling me something I actually put effort into was bad.

Bee:

Yeah, that’s basically it.  So, really. I’m about as okay as anyone else here.  Just…trying something really new and really scary.

Wolf:

Aside from being new and scary, how’s it going?

Bee:

Well…pretty badly, actually.

Wolf:

Yeah?

Bee:

Yeah.  I don’t know.  I can’t really make enough content and I don’t feel like I’m reaching enough people.  I guess I was maybe thinking of…quitting.

Sound Effect: Loud ringtone that cuts off Bee.

Wolf:

Sorry, just a buzz from [BLEEP].

Bee:

You’re still signed up for our RA’s infotainment text alerts?

Wolf:

Hey, don’t judge.  They are occasionally either informative and/or entertaining.  And this one is…oh. Oh my gosh.

Bee:

What?  What is it?

Wolf:

She just texted to say that her boyfriend was...attacked.

Bee:

What?  By wha—by who?  By what?

Wolf:

She doesn’t say, but some big animal by the sounds of it.  Someone just found him near the forest covered in blood and all torn up and…I think [BLEEP]sent this to warn us, but her texts are so messed up.  She must be freaked out right now.

Bee:

Are…do you think they’re both at the hospital now?

Wolf:

I’d be willing to bet.  I mean, he’s definitely still there.

Bee:

We should go see them.  Make sure he’s okay.

Wolf:

Do you know him too?

Bee:

Yeah…he’s the teacher’s aide for my bug class.  He was probably just out there today looking for specimens for us

Setting Change: Hospital corridor.

Moment of silence filled with hospital ambience.

Bee:

He doesn’t look good.

Wolf:

He’s so pale.  He must’ve lost a lot of blood.

Bee:

And all those…stitches and bandages…

Wolf:

Gosh, what the hell did this?  You don’t think we have bears or big cats in the area, do you?

Bee:

I-I don’t know…

Wolf:

I wouldn’t be surprised if the school put up some kind of curfew over this.  Or at least tried to. All those people who go to 10th Street on the weekends are going to be pissed if they do.

Oh, hey, it’s [BLEEP].  

Distance/Volume: Decreases as Wolf moves away.

Wolf:

Hey, we heard what happened.  Are you okay?

Silent beat.

Bee:

This is my fault.

Silent Beat.

Bee:

This is my fault.

Silent Beat.

Bee:

This is my.  Fault.

Wolf:

Bee?  Where-where are you going?  Bee?

Music: Our Escape by Logan Nickelson.

Setting Change: Up a tree.

Bee:

Power practice, recorded session two.  I’m currently...neh...sitting on a tree branch, about 15 feet up from the ground.  I barely managed to reach it in the first place through a combination of fire blasts and a lot of scrambling and splinters.  Attempting to see if, mid-fall, I can catch myself with a burst of fire and either boost myself higher or at least keep myself from falling too hard.  Being able to boost up high gives me an advantage, but nearly breaking my bones when I need to get down does not.

Today, I’m going to try it with the same way I know how to fly—shooting flames out in front of me with both hands and hoping it stops the fall.

Okay, so, slipping off the branch in 3…2…1…and—AUGH!

Sound Effect: Denim scrapes against bark.

Sound Effect: Fire blast.

Sound Effect: Heavy thud on ground.

Bee:

Oww….

Sound Effect: Fire catching on dry grass.

Bee:

Ah!  Put it out, put it out, put it out!

Sound Effect: Feet stomping out flames on dry grass.

Actor Sound: Bee breathes heavily.

Bee:

Okay, uh...conclusion: Flames need to be more powerful if they’re going to be effective for this.  Having gravity working against me when I’m trying to stay afloat is super not helpful.

Also, maybe it’s still not a great idea to be falling directly into the fire.  Fire catches. Fire hot.

Ugh, my hip…

Setting Change: Dorm room.

Bee:

So, any word on how Locust is doing?

Wolf:

Well, I hear he’s at least awake now, which is good.  But, y’know, you don’t just walk off a wild animal attack like that, so he’s still in the hospital.

Bee:

I hope he’s better soon.

Wolf:

Yeah, but even still, it sounds like he’s pretty messed up.  Koala said he’s been so skittish since he woke up and that, like, he can’t even remember what attacked him.

Bee:

So…we still don’t know what it was?

Wolf:

Apparently not.

Bee:

Cool, cool…Hey, do you know if denim is pretty flame resistant?

Wolf:

…Why?

Setting Change: Up a tree.

Bee:

Power practice recorded session three.  Back at it with the tree branch, and the working theory today is…fire feet.  After another viewing of Iron Man, I remembered that he has jets on his feet, and it occurred to me that maybe I do too.  After a little experimentation, I discovered that I can, in fact, make flames shoot out of my feet, so I was thinking doing that would be a better way to create a stable landing.

And hey.  I know you’re probably thinking, “Bee, this is a terrible idea!”  I know that because I’m already thinking it too. Because it probably is.  I haven’t had the best luck with fire so far, so why should shooting it out of my feet make it any more powerful?  But, like, is a lot more like how jets and rockets propel themselves. So, maybe it’ll work for me?

Plus, if nothing else I got this sweet denim jacket on now?  Maybe that’ll help?

Whatever.  Slipping off now in 3, 2, 1!

Sound Effect: Denim scraping on bark.

Sound Effect: Sustained burn that sputters out.

Bee:

Ach!

Sound Effect: Heavy thud on ground.

Bee:

Owwww…

Sound Effect: Flames catching on dry grass.

Bee:

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!

Sound Effect: Ripping off jacket.

Sound Effect: Beating out flames on dry grass with denim jacket.

Actor Sound: Bee breathes heavily.

Bee:

So that went, um…went about as well…as expected.  I’m not really good at sustaining a concentrated jet of fire—I've mostly only done bursts from punching or kicking or whatever.  I bet I’m lucky I didn’t break my legs falling straight down like that.

Stupid, dumb, idiot, stupid Bee idiot.

Sound Effect: Final hit with jacket.

Setting Change: Insectology class.

Distance/Volume: Professor Bug is made slightly quieter by Bee’s lack of proximity to the front of the class.

Professor Bug:

Now despite the “wisdom” of pop culture, there is nothing impossible about the flight of bees.  Their relatively small wings are completely capable of lifting up their “fat little bodies” off the ground if you just take into account the conditional factors...

Bee:

Note to self…look up how other animals with low wing-to-body ratios fly.  Maybe could fashion some sort of prosthetic wings or gliders to help with—

Professor Bug:

Excuse me [BLEEP], do you have a question?

Bee:

Um!  No, sorry!  Just making a note to myself.

Professor Bug:

If you could do that on paper from now on, that would be…Is...is that the recorder I leant you?

Bee:

Wha—no, this is…mine.

Professor Bug:

Well, just use it sparingly from now on.  Now, as I was saying…

Bee:

…Phew.

Setting Change: Up a tree.

Bee:

Okay.  Power practice recorded session number four.  I think I might’ve finally solved the falling problem.  And I think the solution may just be...falling better? Be less Iron Man in his super suit and be more Black Widow, who—aww, who am I kidding.  I’m no Black Widow. Be more Hawkeye who just needs to know how to fall and roll like a normal human being.

So instead of trying to turn my fall into a fly, I’m just going to concentrate on turning it into a better fall.  Instead of using both my hands or feet to try to blast myself back up, I’m just going to use fire from one hand to help myself roll.

I mean, I dunno.  Might as well give it a shot.  3, 2, 1—

Sound Effect: Denim scraping over bark.

Small silent beat.

Sound Effect: Quick fiery rush.

Sound Effect: Roll on ground.

Bee:

Huh.  Well, how about that?  I managed to move so I didn’t land straight on anything, so no sore joints.  Plus, the roll helped me get back on my feet really quickly. So, now I’m going to try it again, just to make sure that wasn’t a fluke.  Then, try it again, but from a greater height. Then, see if I can add a move at the end where I instantly roll out and shoot another burst of fire at a target or something.  I-I might have to reference some videos from people who can actually do this kind of stuff, but…

Music: Stops.

I think I can do it.

Transition: Fade.

Setting Change: Dorm room.

Wolf:

Later, BB.  Have fun with your podcasting!

Bee:

Thanks, Wolfie.  You too! I mean, you have-you have fun too, not—you podcasting or anything or—

Actor Sound: Wolf laughs.

Wolf:

I get it.  Bye!

Sound Effect: Door opens and closes.

Actor Sound: Bee sighs.

Bee:

So, it’s been another week or so since Koala’s boyfriend, Locust, was injured by, I’m assuming, the wolf-lizard thing that tried to attack me.  He’s in stable condition and he’s being taken care of by Koala and his parents, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be back in school any time soon.  

The fact that he was hurt at all is not okay.  And the fact that more people could be hurt by it is not okay.  Ever since I heard about the attack, I’ve been practicing my skills and building up my strength, just so I know I won’t be hopeless against it the next time it attacks.

But that’s not enough either.  If everyone at this school is in danger, then I know I’m not enough on my own to keep all of us safe.  Even at my best, I’m still just one person. So, I’ve also doubled down on my efforts trying to find anyone else like me.  I’ve been throwing up posts about my situation and links to my podcast on every forum and sub-forum I can find. I threw together all the social media and websites I could.  I even threw money at like, one of those bots that targets people and helps you get followers. Anything I could do to get The Beacon out there.

Silent beat.

Bee:

I still haven’t heard from Fox again.  I’m not sure I ever will. But I’ve accepted that even if they did contact me again, Fox isn’t here right now.  Fox can’t fight this monster for me. What I need right now is people with magic who can stand beside me and help keep this campus safe from a giant freaky wolf-lizards.

So, after all the practice and posting and building and bribing, after all my effort, after everything, I have to report to you all that I haven’t found one single other person like me.

Silent beat.

Music: While Beast Wander by Logan Nickelson.

Bee:

I found two of them.

And I’m meeting them tomorrow.

Until then, this is The Beacon, telling you, triumphantly and emphatically, that you are not alone.

Credits, read by Claudia Elvidge:

The Beacon is written and produced by Claudia Elvidge.  The voice of Wolf is Sarah Ruth Thomas. The voice the Professor is Devante Johnson.  For more information, visit thebeaconpodcast.com or follow us on Twitter @thebeaconpod.

Want another audio drama to hold you over till our next episode? Try Here Be Dragons. It’s some of the most fun you can have on an undersea audio adventure, featuring some of our wolf-lizard’s more aquatic monstrous cousins.  We think you’ll like it.