[013]’s podcast appearance











































































































[The podcast begins with a repetitive acid jazz jingle underscored by indiscernible distorted vocals.]
Host: Hey, hello, hi, and welcome to The Simulated Campfire. A podcast that features real, genuine, factual, tangible, proper, and true horror stories by real, genuine, factual, tangible, proper, and true people—because the only thing scarier than eldritch horrors is the every day.
[The jingle plays again]
Host: Our guest today is an aspiring actress and waiter at Shalin's, a diner famous for being isolated on a desert by the trans-continental highway. She has requested to remain anonymous and as always we will give her the name Rose. Rose, welcome to The Simulated Campfire. How are you doing today?
Guest: Good, I’m happy to be here.
Host: How are you dealing with all this bitrot nonsense?
Guest: Ah, you know, same as everyone.
Host: No, I don’t know.
Guest: Yeah, me neither.
Host: Darn, I was hoping you’d have the answer.
Guest: Sorry.
Host: Oh well. Like my mama always said: hope and a five hundred dollar bill will get you a candy bar, you know what I mean?
Guest: Which candy bar?
Host: Hardly the point, Rose.
Guest: Right, sorry. What’s the point?
Host: I don’t know, my ma ain’t the brightest.
[The host and caller laughs for three minutes and twelve seconds.]
Host: Oh, I miss that woman.
Guest: Oh, yeah. Wait wh—
Host: Anyway, enough with the chatter. My listeners always get on my case for dragging on in the intro [host chuckles]. You know how it is.
Guest: I don’t have a podcast.
Host: What are you talking about, everyone has a podcast.
[The guest mumbles something in the same tempo and intonation as most “I don’t know”s.]
Host: Right. Okay, well, let me just do my thing real quick. [The host clears his throat.] Come, gather ‘round, marvel at the embers popping at the night’s blue, feel the earth rumble between your toes, and let your imagination mold the smoke, because it’s time for our first campfire story.
[The jingle plays again.]
Guest: Right, so, it was just like any other late night at Shalin’s. Your bones start to resent your body and the neon lights have assaulted your eyes for so long that you begin to envy the blind. I was alone, you know, jukebox blasting, not many customers past midnight. Not many customers in general nowadays. I was mopping the floors—doing a little bit of dancing, not gonna lie [the guest chuckles], a girl’s gotta have dreams still, you know? Even at the end of the world. And all of a sudden: this man walks in. Wearing a tuxedo, the gait of someone who just figured out how to walk, wearing a pair of sunglasses—at night! So I rushed to turn down the jukebox and I tried to freshen myself up as much as I could and I directed him to a seat. We made some small talk, nothing particularly interesting, just where we’ve been and where we want to go. Then I eventually asked him if he’s ready to order and without hesitation he asked if we do twenty-four hour breakfast. I said yes and he, like, giddily drummed on the table with his palms and did a little fist pump. It was kind of cute, actually. But then, and here’s where it gets freaky, I asked him if he would like any milk. He takes off his sunglasses, he locks his eyes on mine, and he reveals his completely black eyes. And by completely black, I mean completely black. All of it. No iris. No pupil. No sclera. It was like two small instances of the void. Like dark matter. I could see the infinite in his eyes. I don’t know how long I must have stared but I eventually managed to gather myself and ask “Sir? Would you like milk?” And he says “No, thank you. But I would like a gatorade.”
[The jingle plays again.]
Host: Wait.
Guest: Yeah.
Host: You don’t mean?
Guest: Oh yeah.
[The host groans in disgust.]
Host: That is absolutely abhorrent.
Guest: Imagine how I felt! I went to go get the gatorade and the entire time I was trying to calm myself down by telling myself that no, he’s just going to drink it. I mean that’s kind of disgusting already, having that as your drink while you eat cereal, but surely—SURELY—he wouldn’t use it as a substitute for milk.
Host: And then he did?
Guest: I’ve had nightmares about this ever since.
[The host and caller laughs.]
Host: What happened next?
Guest: Nothing, the sun rose as if nothing was wrong and he left.
Host: That’s amazing. I’ve got goosebumps.
[The host and caller laughs.]
Host: I think my favorite part is that he was wearing a tuxedo—
[The caller laughs.]
Host: —while he was doing this. I mean I can’t think of a more inappropriate wardrobe for such a beastly act.
Guest: I like to imagine that he just got back from a ball, maybe he got stood up by his date, and his first instinct is to go to the most isolated diner in the world and eat cornflakes with gatorade.
[The host and caller laughs for six minutes and twenty-six seconds.]
Host: Alright, well, we’ll be back with another story from Rose, but before that let’s—
[The jingle plays.]
Host: Jump into Sponsor Lake.
[The host clears his throat.]
Host: Tired of having to remember which items to shop for in the grocery? Do you want to start eating healthier? Tired of wasting so much of your time choosing which items to buy? Then let me introduce you to TRIDENT’s new service: The Shopper. You guys know me, I don’t ever do sponsors of services I don’t use, and I’ve actually been lucky enough to have been a part of the beta for this product. So I’ve actually had this for a while now even though it just came out. I’m telling you, it’s made such a huge difference in my life. It’s this app that automatically orders groceries for you. It somehow figures out when you’re running low on a certain item and the app will order that item for you and a drone will deliver it to your door. So, like, just yesterday a drone flew by and dropped an eggplant by my door. Apparently my eggplants have gone bad and I didn’t even know. It also keeps track of your eating habits and automatically adjusts the orders to ensure that you get the recommended amount of intake for any given nutrient. So, I’m telling you, I haven’t had to even think about groceries for like six months now. Also, according to TRIDENT, they’re going to keep updating the app to work on other things too. I think the next thing they’re working on is clothes? I’m really excited for that one. So what are you waiting for? Go to TRIDENTSHOPPER.com and enter the keyword simulatedcamp for 2% off your first month. That’s TRIDENTSHOPPER.com with the keyword simulatedcamp for 2% off your first month. Grocery shopping is a thing of the past.
[The jingle plays.]
Host: HassiYUM will have you saying YUM every single day. If you’re like me and you’ve been having trouble managing the difficult times we've found ourselves in then HassiYUM has you covered. It’s made by… I’m not actually sure who made it. But thirty-seven out of ten doctors all agree that if you want to experience anything except existential dread then HassiYUM is the drug for you. It’s a little pricey at $400 a pack but if you order now, you can get 10% off your first purchase and free shipping! You know I don’t hide anything from you guys, so all of you know that there was a period not that long ago where I’ve been super depressed, y’know? I'm not going to get into it again, but those of you that know, know. I still miss her. Anyway, yeah. It affected my work. This podcast was really dark in those days [the host chuckles] but ever since I started taking HassiYUM, it’s like those days were lived by a different person. I’m here right now. I’m here and I’m alive and I’m grateful and I no longer dread the end of the world. Order a HassiYUM pack of your own by dialing 108-HASSIUM.
[The jingle plays.]
The world is in dire need of heroes and the people at Xanadu Warmline believe that anyone can be a hero. If you fancy yourself an easy person to talk to or you just like to help people or you simply get off on the misery of others then give Xanadu Warmline a call because they are severely understaffed at the moment. Seriously, I listened to another podcast that talked about it for a bit and apparently there’s like one person working at the warmline right now. Pretty crazy. But if you want to be the change they need then now is your opportunity. They’re also taking donations so if you don’t want to work as one of their heroes but you still want to help then you can give them a call as well. None of the governments in the world are willing to fund them anymore, apparently. They say they only have a couple of weeks before they go completely bankrupt so act fast! Be the hero this world needs.
[The jingle plays.]
Host: Hello and welcome back to The Simulated Campfire. I’m with our guest who we’re calling Rose and she’s getting ready to tell us our second story. Are you ready, Rose?
Guest: I think so.
Host: Great, then: come, gather ‘round, feel the last vestige of warmth in the dying embers, rest your head on the shoulders of a loved one, and muster the energy to stay awake for a little while longer, because it’s time for our last campfire story.
[The jingle plays.]
Guest: Right, well, I’m not sure if most would even consider this a horror story, but I mean, scared the [glitch sound] out of me. I was walking home from work one night and on the way there I found this little settlement in the desert. I’ve been working at Shalin’s for a while now and I’ve been taking the same route home every day but this is the first time I’ve come across this village. The houses were made of cardboard and propped up by discarded branches; clothes hung on yarn that connected all the houses together; worn-out shoes were scattered about; but here’s the weird bit: it wasn’t inhabited by people. It was inhabited by floating clusters of pixels. They didn’t form anything in particular and each pixel wasn’t quite like the others. They just kept swirling around each other, stretching and concaving, changing shape and size every second. Every time they moved, they looked like they were teleporting. Like, they could float towards the direction they wanted to go but before they could go there they would teleport backwards or sideways or wherever before teleporting back to where they were and continuing as normal. A few approached me and made a sound. I think they were trying to communicate? But it just sounded like the static of dead television. Couldn’t make sense of it. Or they would sound like a dead phone line. Or like silence. But silence you can hear. I’m sorry, I know that doesn’t make any sense but I swear that’s what I heard. Anyway, I tried to stick around, y’know. Figure out what’s going on. I kinda had this feeling like they needed help but I didn’t know how to. I had to go home eventually and I never found the village again.
[The jingle plays.]
Host: [aggressive] What the fuck was that?
Guest: What?
Host: [muffled] Who booked this cunt? I swear to God. We’re already on thin ice man. Thin fucking ice and you people pull this sh—[host groans]. Just shut the fuck up.
Guest: Is there a problem?
Host: [calm] That’s just not the kind of stories we tell here. I mean you knew that. You’ve listened to this show before, right?
Guest: Oh. I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I really didn’t mean to c—
Host: It’s fine. It's fine. It's definitely fine. It's fine. But it’s my fucking ass, you get me? So if you could be so kind: get the fuck out of here. We have to find another guest and re-record this episode.
Guest: I’m really sorry.
Host: Okay seriously, just, like, fucking leave. I'll have a fucking aneurysm if I have to keep looking at you.
Guest: Okay, I’m sorry.
[A door closes.]
Host: Finally. Is there anyone else you can call right now?
[Muffled speech.]
Host: Hey, don’t get fucking lippy with me. You know that DUX has been on my fucking ass. You think I like doing this shit? I want to help out just as much as the next guy, but what do you want? You want this whole place to shut down? Lose your job? Get everyone fired?
[Muffled speech.]
Host: Who the fuck are the strangers? Don't answer that, I don't care.
[Muffled speech.]
Host: What? Oh, go ahead. Think that makes you a fucking hero? Go. Post the footage online. Sentence yourself to doom. Sentence me and everyone else to doom. Let’s see how heroic you are when we all devolve into mindless clusters of data.