The Black Tapes S03E02 - The Musica Mundana

Alex Reagan: You'll remember that last week's episode ended with a phone call from Thomas Warren, or as I refer to him when I'm having a little alone time, Sexy James Bond. The following is a transcript of that conversation:

Alex Reagan (on the phone): Hi Sexy ... erm, Thomas! So glad you called, I was hoping you could help me rend the last few fibers of Richard Strand's fragile psyche by telling us some dark and terrible secrets about his father Howard!

Thomas Warren (on the phone): Hi Alex and Richard! Well to start with, I can tell you that Howard Strand was working for my organization, Daiva Corporation, because we thought he was the best chance we had at uncovering the long-lost Horn of Tiamat, which we will certainly not use to bring about the Final Conflagration!

Richard Strand (on the phone): And you found the Horn in Iraq?

Thomas Warren (on the phone): Well, no, we didn't find it, but your father did. He said something about "finally now I can unleash the Great Beast whose Name is Six Hundred and Sixty Six, using the body of my only son as his host, and usher in the End of Days!" before shoving the Horn into his safari vest and running off into the night.

Alex Reagan: A conversation that monumental of course demands a follow-up. Unfortunately, due to recent solar activity and an odd alignment of the polar vortices, our recording of that follow-up conversation was lost. Instead, here is a follow-up to the follow-up with Richard Strand:

Alex Reagan: So what do you think about that totally amazing off-mic conversation we just had with Thomas Warren! I can't believe how many things we cleared up and how many questions we answered!

Richard Strand: Alex, the only thing we cleared up is the absolutely ludicrous idea that I've been given some kind of Mantle of the Dragon and that I am the result of a breeding program stretching back a thousand generations to create the Scion that will begin the Great Unmaking.

Alex Reagan: And you don't think that there's any chance this whole Mantle of the Dragon thing is real?

Richard Strand: Absolutely not.

Simon Reese (via voicemail): Hi Alex! Just wanted to drop you a note to inform you that Richard Strand is one hundred percent carrying the Mantle of the Dragon and that he will, through a self-fulfilling prophecy made possible by his own arrogance and doubt, begin the Song that will end the world. Also you should come to Istanbul. The kofta is to die for. Literally.

Richard Strand: ... I really hate you sometimes.

Nic Silver: Hey Alex! How's the investigation going?

Alex Reagan: Istanbul was Constantinople / Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople / Been a long time gone, Oh Constantinople / Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night

Nic Silver: ... Okay then!

Alex Reagan: Hi Doctor Omera! I was hoping you could tell me all about the Cult of Pythagoras and how a man famous for geometry was also a mystic whose followers may rise up to end the world!

Dr. Danielle Omera: I'd be happy to! So the most important thing to know is that Pythagoras believed that music and math were just different manifestations of the same truth, and that there was an intrinsic link between music, numbers, space, and time.

You should also know that Pythagoras founded a cult, which was made up of an inner circle, called the Mathematikoi, and an outer circle, called the Akousmatikoi, and that a man named Cylon, who was denied entry to the inner circle, led a revolt which resulted in Pythagoras' death in exile.

And you should also also know that Pythagoras believed that the earth was circled by seven planets, and that the ratio of their orbits created a special music that was inaudible to the human ear, but whose tone governed all universal truth. This was called the Musica Mundana, or the Music of the Spheres.

Alex Reagan: Okay, cool. And did that renegade cult by any chance concoct rituals that would summon dark beings who would play the unhearable sound for the assembled priests?

Dr. Danielle Omera: You bet they did!

Alex Reagan: And if someone were to perform that ritual today ...?

Dr. Danielle Omera: I can say with complete confidence that it almost certainly is unlikely to maybe not end the world. Probably.

Alex Reagan: Ladies, nothing makes you feel ready to partake in a Satanic mass that predates the very concept of the Devil by a thousand years like slipping into a comfortable pair of underwear. But nothing ruins a dark ritual like panty lines showing through your ceremonial garb, and nothing throws off a demonic orgy like fabric riding up your butt. For these reasons and a hundred more, The Black Tapes is sponsored by MeUndies. When you wear MeUndies, you know that your lady bits will be comfortable, even as the flesh is flayed from your sin-ridden body.

Alex Reagan: Okay, so what I've found out is that Pythagoras' followers revolted against him, authored a ritual that would bring forth Hell's orchestra to play the Music of the Spheres, and that over time this cult morphed into the Order of the Cenophus, who are working with the Cult of Tiamat to make sure Richard Strand is present at the Axis Mundi when the Unsound is played and Percival Black performs the Mysterium, which will free the Shadow Demons with Upside-Down Faces, who will overthrow humanity and cause the universe to implode.

Nic Silver: Wait, you've found out that Pythagoras' followers revolted against him, authored a ritual that would bring forth Hell's orchestra to play the Music of the Spheres, and that over time this cult morphed into the Order of the Ceonophus, who are working with the Cult of Tiamat to make sure Richard Strand is present at the Axis Mundi when the Unsound is played and Percival Black performs the Mysterium, which will free the Shadow Demons with Upside-Down Faces, who will overthrow humanity and cause the universe to implode?

Alex Reagan: ...Yes.


Nic Silver: Hi Alex! So I had a friend who's good with computers do some research for me, and they discovered that a shell company owned by a subsidiary of a wholly-owned enterprise belonging to Thomas Warren's Daiva Corp has been making three, and only three, payments since the mid 1970s: one to Howard Strand, one to someone named Shannon Scarlatti, and one to an office building here in Seattle.

My friend who's good with computers also discovered that, in what is absolutely a careless oversight and will not in any way lead to a shocking reveal somewhere about mid-season, this shell company is still making payments to Howard Strand today, even though Howard is one hundred percent for real dead.

Alex Reagan: And where is this Seattle office building?

Nic Silver: Okay, so you're gonna want to head down toward the docks, about fifteen minutes south of the office, and look for a bunch of former warehouses that have been converted to live/work spaces. Then, in a darkened corner that is somehow untouched by the light of day or the warmth of the sun, in a shadowy, sinister location that seems wrong somehow, as if reality itself has been corrupted in that place, you'll find Shannon Scarlatti's art studio. It's the one with all the animal skulls on the door.

Alex Reagan: Hi Shannon! I used computers to tear through the veil of secrecy you have carefully woven around your vulnerable life! Can I ask you a bunch of personal questions with no lead up or introduction?

Shannon Scarlatti: Maybe go fuck yourself?

Alex Reagan: Don't worry, I'm not connected to Daiva Corp in any way, shape, or form!

Shannon Scarlatti: Oh well in that case come on in for some organic fair trade single origin tea! And I would love to tell you about Howard Strand's deadly obsession with Tiamat, how I was hired to be Howard's Watcher just like Coralee was paid to Watch Richard, and maybe give you a psychic reading!

Alex Reagan: A psychic reading?

Shannon Scarlatti: Yes, it'll be fun and will in no way open your tender soul up to the machinations of a foul demon! Okay, so the tea leaves are telling me that you're ... looking for something ... for the ... center of something ... and there are ... shadows ... and ... voices!

Alex Reagan: Oh my god that is exactly right and so scary and so accurate and there is no way you could be doing a cold reading you are the real deal and Richard Strand owes me a million dollars that he doesn't have!

Alex Reagan: Have you heard of the revolutionary meal prep service Blue Apron? Well they are fucking garbage. Only HelloFresh, with the promo code THEBLACKTAPES30, gives you the lessons and ingredients you need to nourish your body for grueling Rite of Ascension that you must perform on the eve of the New Moon, lest the unholy god Klathor rise up and devour your unworthy soul.

Alex Reagan: After that incredibly insightful reading, Shannon Scarlatti became afraid. I can only assume that she saw something terrible in those tea leaves, some dark omen or black portent, a glimpse into the awful future that we must strive against, yet which must come to pass. Anyway, I went back to her office every day for the next week, but every time she answered the door she was wearing glasses with a fake nose and mustache, and insisted that her name was Shmamon Smarlammi.

Alex Reagan: Here at PNWS, we get a lot of emails. And since we've been on vacation for the past year, those emails have really piled up. My iPhone buzzed for like twenty minutes straight when I turned it on last week.

And here at PNWS, we also hate our interns, which is why I tasked our intern with reading and replying to every single email we have gotten in the past three hundred and sixty five days, even if they were obviously spam.

And it's a good thing I did, because that's how I met Johnathan Talenga, author of Oracle of the Gods.

Alex Reagan: Hi John! So after she was done telling me that I am the worst person in the universe that isn't marching for white rights or actively trying to end the universe through a complicated scheme involving demonic genealogy and acoustic mysticism, our intern told me that you have some interesting information on Pythagoras and our little mystery!

Johnathan Talenga, author of Oracle of the Gods: I sure do! Allow me to stage a reenactment for you:

Pythagoras: I am the smartest and handsomest and most greatest brain that has ever thought thoughts in the entire world! And I have discovered that whole numbers, and especially the whole numbers from one to ten, are the most beautiful numbers in all of creation! Verily I say unto thee, the universe itself is founded upon whole numbers, and whole numbers alone! Behold this square, which is one stick long and one stick tall! Is it not beautiful?

Hyposis: Hey, so I can't help but notice that a square that's one stick long and one stick tall has a hypotenuse of 1.41421356237 and so on and so on, which is an irrational number! And I have found that these irrational numbers are actually more common that your whole numbers! And I have discovered that the universe, and verily even the Musica Mundana that you so cherish, is imperfect, irrational, and mathematically flawed! What say you?

Pythagoras: Stab stab stabity stab!

Hyposis: Alas! For I am slain!

Cylon: Hey, what's a noble gotta do to get into an inner circle around here?

Pythagoras: Maybe go fuck yourself? Did you not see me just murder the shit out of a guy for questioning me?

Cylon: Anyone up for a small rebellion?

Akousmatikoi: Yeah, let's get with the stabbing!

Pythagoras: Fuck this I'm out!

Cylon: Awesome! I declare that this school now belongs to me! And as my first act, I devote our order to discovering the Unheard Sound that will bring balance to the Musica Mundana!

Akousmatikoi: That's cool, but it's kind of a mouthful. How about we just call it the "Unsound?"

Cylon: Great! And we also need a new logo! One that represents whole numbers and fractions contained within a great unity!

Akousmatikoi: What about an upside down face?

Cylon: ...I don't see how that applies, but my wife just told me that the Spanakopita is ready, so let's go with it!

Alex Reagan: Oh my god!

Johnathan Talenga, author of Oracle of the Gods: Hey, can I do the PNWS BOOM this time?

Alex Reagan: Um, sure?

Johnathan Talenga, author of Oracle of the Gods: PNWS BOOM

Alex Reagan: The Black Tapes is a production of Pacific Northwest Stories and Minnow Beats Whale. Join us in two weeks when I answer definitively the baleful question of every high school math student, yes, you absolutely will use this in real life, because if you don't shadow demons will appear to devour your soul.