This is part of Haunting’s Recollection series – it is a complete account of Delusion’s The Blue Blade. It contains full spoilers and is intended for readers who have attended or cannot attend the show, or are curious about this creator’s work. For our original review of The Blue Blade, click here.
I’m standing outside Club Fais Do Do in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles, listening to a rapper soundcheck for a hip hop show later that night. He performs a few laid-back verses over a hypnotic trap beat. It’s 2019 all right. It’s also February, and very, very cold. Unusually cold – after a month of frequent rain and (relatively) frigid temperatures, a certain strangeness has pervaded the city. Sometimes the world feels upside down.
I’ve been given a large, mysterious ticket that looks like it belongs in a museum. It seems to be for some kind of show, though the text has faded considerably. On the back are a list of questions – though I don’t remember it, I must have scrawled a few notes in anticipation of the meeting that has been arranged for me.
I’m here with a group of eight colleagues – each of us an expert in some field or another, but sharing a common love of history. A woman in a white blouse with braided hair approaches my group of eight, and whispers something into one of my group mates’ ear. The woman leaves, and a few seconds later, my colleague tells the group that it’s time to go. We walk a short distance to an unmarked, worn-down van, and pull open the back door. We find crude seats on either side of the van’s empty cabin. The door squeaks loudly as we close it behind us. Whoever brought us here seems, at best, unconcerned with luxury. More likely, they are desperate.
The woman who approached us earlier joins us through a side door in the van. She introduces herself as Josette, and welcomes us with a hasty, hushed voice. She explains that we have been summoned by a secret organization known as the Safeguard Society. There’s not much time, so she turns the conversation over to us. What is it that we would like to know? I consult my notes on the back of the ticket.
I want to know more about the Safeguard Society. Josette tells me that they are an elite group of historians charged with keeping our world in order, charged with the protection of ancient and powerful artifacts. It sounds like a noble cause, and for now, I choose to trust her. She tells me that Evelyn Lowell, a former Safeguard member, has stolen an artifact called the Blue Blade, which holds the power to slice through time itself. That doesn’t sound good. She is slipping further away in time, and many Safeguard members have died pursuing her. She must be caught, and while this is no task for new initiates, there is little choice now.
One of my colleagues asks her about the Keepers, which we learn to be a dangerous cult, hopelessly consumed by the dark power of the blade. We do not know who they are, what they look like, or what their intentions are, but if the rumors are true, we can only pray that we never cross paths with a Keeper.
For some time, Evelyn used the blade to run a black market scheme, shuttling wealthy clients to both the past and the future. But this careless traversal of time has caused ripple effects, and our world has begun to crack and splinter.
We ask Josette if she has any leads, and we finally get some good news. She knows of a man named Stanfeld, who has been spotted in the club nearby. We are to find him, and follow him.
We exit the van and enter the club. We spot Stanfeld, drinking alone at the bar, wearing a brown trenchcoat and fedora – a rather uncommon outfit in 2019 (but hey, this is Los Angeles). He leaves in a huff, and we follow him to a theater around the corner. We fail to approach undetected, and he becomes angry, screaming at us to leave him alone. We give him some space, and he enters the theater, sneering at us. We follow him, only to discover he has vanished into a dark room deeper inside. We’re now alone in the theater lobby.
After a few moments of complete darkness, a warm light illuminates an old-timey ticket booth, perhaps from the late 19th century. Luckily, we’ve got just the thing. I slide the antique ticket under the window, and I am rewarded with a strange object – a hockey-puck shaped device lined with a glowing blue light. On the ceiling we see a pulsating blue circle roughly the size of this object. We make the connection, and one of my taller colleagues places the device on the ceiling, where it clings magnetically.
We’ve really done it this time. We hear the sounds of an electrical storm, and blue lightning streaks across the ceiling. The fabric of time itself tears before our eyes. We find ourselves facing a portal, and a man is calling to us from the other side. One by one, we make our way through.
Stanfeld closes the portal behind us. We’re now in an unusual space – perhaps his home? There are things strewn about everywhere, and as we watch Stanfeld take swigs from his flask and stumble through the place, we get the sense that he has spent a great deal of time here. There is a broken piano in one corner, and a busted car in the other. He chides us for following him, but in his drunken stupor, he is hardly in a position to do anything about it. We tell him we’re looking for Evelyn, and his demeanor changes. It seems we have a goal in common, and he has a lead of his own. He shows us a picture of Carrick, a strange-looking man with some sort of connection to Evelyn. Maybe our expertise could be of use to him after all.
A phone rings from an unseen nook in the room. One of my colleagues picks it up. “Evelyn?” asks Stanfeld hopefully to the receiver. “No, it’s a…man,” my colleague replies. She’s on the phone for some time, and passes on a few mysterious fragments of information. “France, 1942.” What about it? She then gives us a number, and mentions that it’s some sort of radio frequency. We look around for a radio, and find many, but they’re all broken – until we manage to power up the car with a spare battery. We input the frequency into the car radio.
Evelyn’s voice echoes through the room, and it seems she has been expecting us. She tells us that she must be reunited with Carrick, an android from the distant 24th century. Though Carrick is synthetic in nature, their love was real, and she will do whatever it takes to see him again, which includes killing any would-be interlopers.
It is then that we get our first horrific glimpse of the Keepers. A black-cloaked figure emerges from a dark corner of the room, screeching and hovering toward us. In place of a face is a void, illuminated by points of stark blue light, like a window to another galaxy.
Luckily another portal opens behind us, and our group scurries in just before we are caught by the Keeper. Stanfeld leads us into a dimly lit, bombed-out bar. It’s 1942, and as historians, we know France is the last place we want to be.
Our fears are confirmed as we find ourselves surrendering to a female Nazi commander named Uta and her intimidating, armed foot soldier. She approaches me and stops inches from my face. “I can see the future in your eyes,” she tells me. She knows what we’re after, and she’s after it too. Nazi Germany, in its quest for world domination, could certainly use the ability to control time.
Uta turns to Stanfeld. “Stop using that stupid American accent, professor.” He drops it, and in hearing him reply in German, we realize we may have chosen the wrong guide. But the commander is unsatisfied with his efforts, and orders our group to be split in two and locked away.
I am thrown in an empty concrete chamber with Stanfeld and two others. The soldier locks the door. We try to reason with him over the intercom, but to no avail. We find a few stripped wires coming out of the wall, and some strange markings that seem to indicate a certain combination of wires. Surely, a kind stranger has pointed us toward escape! But when we touch the proper wires together, the room begins to fill with noxious gas. Whoops.
The gas is spewing out of a thick pipe – one that seems to have a large section missing. We notice that the pipe is meant to continue into the next room, where the soldier is keeping watch. We attach the missing section of pipe, and the gas is diverted right into the lungs of our unlucky captor. We watch from a small window in the door as he collapses and dies.
We cherish our victory for a moment, but realize we are still locked in. Thankfully, it is not long before the other half of our group appears, along with an odd smiling stranger. They unlock the door and let us out. We cheer loudly.
The stranger is none other than the android Carrick, Evelyn’s true love. Carrick is dressed in a black bodysuit with exposed wires and lights lining each of his limbs and much of his head. His face is entirely human, and his expression is cheerful and childlike. He is helpful, friendly, and funny. He seems to trust us implicitly, and we are relieved to have a kind presence in our company.
Just as we are about to formulate a new plan, Stanfeld bursts in through the door and points a gun at Carrick. This turns out to be a grave error, as we discover that Carrick has a time-control device, and he freezes Stanfeld in his tracks before he can fire a shot.
This comes at a great cost, however. The power suddenly goes out – something is wrong. When it comes back on, Stanfeld is gone. In his place is a horrifying Keeper, who screeches and lunges at us. Carrick seems to have no power over these creatures. It’s time to run. He opens an escape portal and shoves us through.
We’re now in an elegant hallway, though it is very dim and seems empty. On the wall we see long, blue track marks – telltale signs of the Blue Blade. Hung up along the hallway are framed photographs – one in particular catches Carrick’s eye. It shows a group of men and women sitting neatly in rows outside on a sunny day. Carrick, in awe, points out a woman in the front row. Attached to the back of the picture is a ticket, much like the one we used earlier. This one is dated 1887, and belongs to Evelyn herself, for her use as an initiate.
“This must be an old Safeguard Society hideout,” says Carrick. One of the oldest. Further down the hallway, we see a charred body that seems to be stuck halfway in the ceiling. “Trapped between two times,” says Carrick. The dangers of time travel are becoming clearer every minute.
We pass into a small connecting room, where we find another old-timey ticket booth. We slide Evelyn’s ticket under the window and receive a small notebook that seems to belong to Evelyn. It describes many of the various times she has visited, and Carrick is concerned that she may have been traveling too far – the longer the voyage, the greater toll it takes on the mind and body.
We hear someone angrily stomping up the stairs that lead to the safehouse. “It’s a guard – we need to hide,” Carrick says. We run into the next room – a dusty bedroom with a slanted ceiling lit by a small lantern. There is just enough room for each of us to hide – I quickly slip under one of the beds. I hear the guard walk into the room, but can only see the underside of a mattress. The guard scans the room and seems to find nothing. He leaves. As we emerge from our hiding places, the guard hears the commotion and returns, more determined. This time he finds us, and prepares to do his worst. Suddenly, a Keeper appears and devours the man. The coast is clear. But the Keepers seem to be appearing more and more frequently – our time is running out.
We continue forward to another room. Carrick, convinced Evelyn is leaving us clues that will lead us to her, tells us to look for something that doesn’t belong in 1887. We find a VCR and a tape. We play the tape. It’s Evelyn, appearing more unhinged than ever. Carrick explains that the blade is not meant for the human mind, and she can no longer be trusted with such a powerful tool. We must find her and stop her. As Evelyn concludes her video message, a Keeper cuts through the projection screen with a signature screech.
We run back to the bedroom, which is different now. The presence of the Keeper is warping the very space around us. The room is now completely empty, except for one bed, which appears to have a body in it, completely covered by a sheet. “Evelyn!” Carrick cries out. “Wake up!” He asks us to help him. We all prod at the body, trying to jostle it awake, until it suddenly melts into the mattress. The body is gone. We can’t believe our eyes.
The Keeper suddenly jumps into the room, frightening the entire party. Carrick opens yet another portal to escape through – but this time, he doesn’t make it through with us. I am the last one to cross over, and as I turn around to see Carrick screaming for his life, the portal closing half an inch from my face.
We’re on our own, but not for long, and the setting has changed dramatically. We are in deep in the jungle, in some unknown prehistoric time. We hear a drone of birds and insects, and make our way through enormous trees and foliage, along the only path we can see. Flitting in and out of the shadows are the natives of this place, clad in all black fabric and wearing skull masks. One of them grabs me as I pass, which seems to amuse him. We press on cautiously.
We are greeted by a woman who appears to be some sort of explorer, dressed in loose-fitting tan clothes and a pith helmet. She leads us to a small fire pit and tells us to gather around quickly. As I sit on the jungle floor, my eyes dart back and forth from the woman to the dark path behind me. I can see the natives’ skull masks fading in and out of view, taunting me. I don’t know how many there are, and I wonder why they’re not attacking.
The woman, who turns out to be a Safeguard member named Eve, is, like so many others, hot on the trail of the Blue Blade, and she’s close. She tells us that the natives won’t come near as long as she remains under the watchful eye of the great statue that looms behind her. The statue depicts a vaguely female form, composed of huge square blocks of dense gray stone. She doesn’t seem to understand its power, but she is grateful for the protection.
Suddenly, out of the brush jumps Uta, the Nazi commander who had imprisoned us all the way back in… well, thousands of years from now. Her clothes are torn to shreds and stained with blood. With a crazed look in her eye, she pulls out an enormous syringe and threatens me with it, remembering me as the stranger whose eyes peered into the future.
As I am held hostage, something in the trees begins to rumble and shift. The great statue behind Eve, eight or nine feet tall, stands up and begins to walk.
The statue, whose protection seems to extend to me as well, makes a beeline for Uta, and punches her with immense force. Uta flies backward into the jungle. It’s hard to imagine anyone surviving such a blow from a 10,000 lb. stone guardian – but we don’t stick around to find out. It’s not safe, and the statue has begun clearing a new path through the trees.
We come to a fork, and the statue stops. Eve seems able to interpret its body language. “She wants us to split up,” Eve says. “You four, come with me, the rest of you, you’re with the creature.” I’m relieved to be with the latter group, and it’s the first time on our adventure I feel completely safe.
We follow the creature to a clearing in the woods, where our next steps are not immediately clear. One of my colleagues spots another ticket booth across a small river, but it doesn’t seem accessible. I look at the statue, and the statue looks back, but I don’t speak the language of stone quite as well as Eve.
My groupmate nudges me on the arm and motions toward a thick vine hanging from the ceiling. My face lights up. “It’s your Indiana Jones moment,” she says. I gleefully swing across the three-foot chasm. My colleagues simply step over. That works too.
We’re at the ticket booth, but without a ticket. Conveniently, at our feet is a severed arm holding one. I’ve lost count of how many people have died to help us, but thankfully, I feel the end is near. I slide the ticket into the booth window, and receive a rolled up piece of cloth in return. We unroll it and find an abstract arrangement of dots and lines that don’t mean anything to us. “A map?” suggests one of my colleagues. I point out that it looks like constellations. We get the sense that we don’t have the key to this cipher, and take the only path forward.
Happily, we run into the other half of our group, who comes bearing a strange stone fragment. They haven’t made much of their piece either. We collectively turn toward an enormous, circular stone door, missing a large piece of its central seal. The shape of the missing piece is not unlike the fragment the others brought with them. They put it in place. Nothing happens.
That leaves our mysterious cloth. We now notice that the moonlight has illuminated certain parts of the cloth, but the resulting image is not clear. One of my team members is quick to point out that if we fold the cloth in a particular way, we may see the complete image. He’s right, of course, and when we manage to fold it correctly, an ancient symbol is revealed. Eve tells us to hold it up to the moonlight, and we obey. The door begins to roll open.
As soon as it does, we hear a rustling in the trees, and a painted warrior emerges with spear in hand. Far more formidable than the skull-faced natives, the warrior seems to have only one thing in mind: killing the invaders. He sprints toward us and is batted away by the statue. We hear a battle cry from somewhere above us, and another warrior appears, perched on a stone ledge above the door. This one is too close. He leaps off the ledge, his spear headed straight for the heart of one of my colleagues. Then, fractions of an inch away from the kill, he freezes in mid air. Like the treacherous Stanfeld, the warrior has been stopped in time.
Only the blade is capable of such a thing, and as we move into the great stone temple, we see its signature blue scratchings on the wall. We’re very, very close.
It’s dark in here, and the maze-like arrangement of walls makes our path forward unclear. We find a generator and aggressively yank on the pull cord. It powers up a string of dim light bulbs which illuminate a previously unseen narrow corridor. We follow it. Along the way, we find a body impaled on the wall. The path leads to a steep set of stairs. A dark energy emanates from the room above. We ascend. We open a small wooden door and crowd into a room not much larger than a closet. On the floor, in a faded dress, is the withered corpse of Evelyn Lowell.
We don’t know what happened here, but Eve points us to a clue. Evelyn is clutching a small book – her diary. One of my colleagues reads the text out loud – Evelyn laments her own demise and regrets succumbing to the temptations of the blade. She tells us that it is hidden nearby and that we must do what she could not – restore the blade to safety. She hints that it is hidden somewhere up high. We notice a ladder leaning against one of the stone walls. One of my colleagues climbs the ladder and reaches into a dark crawlspace. “It’s the Blue Blade,” she says. We did it.
Suddenly a disembodied arm flails out of the darkness, desperately grasping for the blade. My colleague hurries down the ladder, and out of the crawlspace lurches another Evelyn Lowell – grotesque and decaying, like an animated version of the corpse at our feet. She chases us out of the room and down the stairs. She corners us in a dark, empty part of the temple.
This Evelyn seems to be one from a parallel dimension where she has not learned her lesson, and is not ready to let go of the blade. Not having the strength to take it herself, she pleads directly with Eve, telling her to take the blade for herself. Eve cannot deny her own desire for power, and considers it for some time, approaching the blade with a deep, lustful look in her eye. But she manages to break the spell. The blade must be returned. It’s time to go.
Evelyn’s desperate plea turns to murderous rage. Her voice booms and echoes through the temple, screaming of our impending doom. The stones around us begin to crumble. My colleague clutches the Blue Blade tightly. We run.
Evelyn chases us through the stone corridors, where several Keepers have now come to consume us. We push through any path we can find, the Keepers’ screeches ringing in our ears. The temple collapses just as we make it through one final portal.
We are back in the theater lobby, standing opposite the familiar ticket booth, which is once again bathed in warm light.
From somewhere out of time, the voice of Evelyn – a kinder, gentler Evelyn – congratulates us. We have brought the Blue Blade to its final resting place. Surely there are countless timelines where we failed in our quest, but we are grateful to exist in one where we did not. We slide the blade into the ticket booth window. The loop is closed.
We exit onto the chilly Los Angeles streets of 2019, off to write, and perhaps rewrite, our own history.