Sleep No More: Typewriters, Talismans and Tempests

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I jumped through the window after him.  It was a graceless and slow process but one I completed nonetheless.  There was still blood in my hair, my breath smelled of absinthe and Death in the Afternoon and I clutched my protective locket.   I had somehow managed to lose an hour, an entire loop, like a waking dream.  Back at The McKittrick for another Sleep No More Experience.

Regular readers: There will be theater borkery in this but don’t fret!  There’s always room for the occult!  Sleep No More readers: There will be occult borkery in this but don’t fret!  There’s always room for the theater!

Previously. . . 

[My first trip to The McKittrick]

[My second trip to The MicKittrick]

[My third trip to The McKittrick]


But, first, the beginning.  We were standing at the front of the line, waiting.  My apprentice for the evening (code name: The Baby) was nervously bouncing on her feet while Jow did his best not to openly stare with longing at the gothic waif in front of us who was wearing bloodmilk jewelry.  I have found in bringing friends to The McKittrick that it is best for them to not go into it completely blind because that often leads them into paralysis.  I am instructing her as carefully as The Baker’s Wife (The cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, the slipper as pure as-) as we wait, while still being sure to not give her any spoilers.

Going through the completely dark labyrinth as we enter is always the most difficult part for me.  Usually I make Jow make horse clicking noises in front of me to follow, a boughie version of Orpheus/Eurydice that happily ends with us both staying on the same side of the veil and receiving absinthe laced cocktails for our trouble.

We tumble off the elevator in a heap, squeezing each other’s hands as we part ways.  Initiatory experiences are best experienced in a solitary manner. I see Lady and Lord MacDuff having a tender moment together but I resolutely press on.  I make my way into the detective’s office and spy a case that could only hold a typewriter.  I try not to moan orgasmically when my fingers run across the keys.  Glass and gorgeous.  I am alone and there is paper with the McKittrick letterhead on it.  I carefully load the paper correctly after a few fumbles.  But what do I say?  Do I make a wish?  (I wish to go to the festival–)  My wishes are wells of deep longing but sound so ordinary written so plainly.  I took a deep breath.  It may not even have ribbon anyway.  Tentatively I typed the first letter.  Seeing ink, I kept typing.  Thank you for this experience.  It’s changed the way I see the world.  xo, Deb   I put it down only to see a few masked ghosts immediately pick it up as if it were a clue and look completely confused and put it back down (It remained for more than a loop).  I immediately became interested in making small (permissible) changes to The McKittrick.  The desk organized to OCD precision by the doctor in hospital wing obviously needed to have a pill moved out of line, as did a swab and a clothes pin as well.  In Agnes’ house, I sat down to read a book and it was a child’s book on British history (which I’ve been researching more extensively just that day Because of Reasons) and then picked up a second book from the shelf.  A history of Kansas.  I lived in Kansas for several years.  I left the book open on the table.  Other ghosts looked at it for clues.  I took such childish glee in making tiny changes to this world and leaving a tiny mark, like graffiti on the Universe’s wall.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spied Agnes who was on her way.  She’s where everything begins, Jow had said.  I began to follow her as she constructed a locket, filling it with particular psalms.  She grabs my hand and locks me into her room with her.  She unmasks me and I feel shy, wondering how I appear to her.  She smells like how I imagine the good girl heroine in an old movie to smell like.  It’s euphoric and even as a perfumer, I can’t entirely figure out the scents.   She puts the locket around my neck, a talisman.  This will keep you safe.  And then she said the beautiful words, Last night I dreamed I went to the Manderlay again . . .” and she pulled me into her closet and pushed me against the wall as she told me the rest of that piece.  I could hear the throbbing techno happening behind her wall and the screams of the witches as they started to deliver the prophecy.  “When I thought about Manderley in my waking hours I would not be bitter; I would think of it as it  might have been, if I could have lived there without fear. . .”  She held me close to her and I breathed unsteadily.  She brushed her lips across my cheeks and looked into my eyes.  “I still dream about the Manderley.  Even now.”  I do too, I whispered very softly.  She remasked me and pushed me out through the closet.

I stumbled out to the blood prophecy and found myself soon sprayed with blood.  The witches were especially wonderful.  My favorite witch looked as feral as Jennifer Check and twice as bloody, especially around the mouth.  Once the prophecy was torn from her body, Hecate still made her dance.  And dance.  And dance.  Until she crumpled onto the floor.  Muses are never known for their kindnesses, I thought sourly as the witch righted herself and went about ruining every man that crossed her path with equal parts relish, fear, malice and terrible joy.  My Muse made her displeasure equally well known when I found Hecate seated completely alone in the dark as she looked me in the eye and huffily picked up her dinner and turned her back to me.  Well.  I’m not talking to her either right now!

Despite my differences with my Muse, I found myself still searching for the damned ring which is like a sickness once you’re infected with that quest.  Jow and I both saw something shiny being exchanged between stewards but I couldn’t even fathom a guess as to what it was.  As elusive as the Matron and Agnes can both be to follow full loop, the stewards are the most mysterious to me

The rest of my loop was mostly with the matron/doctor who were watching things unfold through the windows and cleaning up after everyone when they weren’t being kept apart from each other by mysterious circumstances.  It was interesting to run with those who were observers and clean up which is how I usually am in life.

A few fun moments: two ghost-guest in a room alone jitter bugging with zero effs to give about anything, listening to an old timey version of the rave music in Agnes’ room with my hand on her stereo like I would do when I was little (and perhaps, dancing by myself just a little), watching a 1:1 through the crack of the matron’s hut with a girl who had very wide eyes and pretty hair who looked like she was going to cry until the Matron whispered in her ear and the girl laughed, re-masked and ran off out of the hut, the two women witches walking up a flight of stairs and then turning to stop and admire the kings in the stained glass and then exchanging wicked, feral smiles, hand in hand.


Deborah Castellano
Deborah Castellano's book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want is available for purchase through Amazon, Llewellyn and Barnes and Noble.
Her frequently updated catalogue of published work is available on Author Central.

She writes about Glamour Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her podcast appearances are available here.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid & The Crow specializes in old-world style workshop from 100% local, sustainable sources featuring tempting small batch ritual oils and hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers and more!

In a previous life, Deborah founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV.

She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat, Max II. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.  


2 Responses

  1. I really hope I ever get the chance to go to Sleep No More. Every time I read one of your posts about it I’m left full of jealousy. So lovely.
    Stacey recently posted..Independence Day & musing on the landMy Profile

  2. Again! Again!!!
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