The following is a full spoiler recollection of Harvest Moon Rises, a one night ticketed event that took place on October 5th within the ongoing ARX The Society and TheBoanthropic. To purchase tickets to their next show, Nocturnal Reverse: a Rescue on the Solstice on December 21st, click here.
An Absence Felt
In the months following the hike to Devil’s Gate Dam, TheBoanthropic remain dormant. Beverly, the spirits’ willing conduit during visits to our plane, suffers alone from the deafening silence their absence creates. Krysta, once an enthusiastic ally to all of us and a sympathetic confidant for Beverly, also remains silent and unseen for months. TheBoanthropic Resistance, or “The Bobo,” has done what it can to maintain communication with the faithful, but only so much can be achieved without a Voice to lead the way. The Wayfarer, whoever he really is, feels as far away and as intangible as TheBoanthropic themselves.
Meanwhile The Society has been indoctrinating new members at record numbers, many making it as high as level fourteen. Yes, some were loyal Pilgrims for the Resistance, biding their time until the Black Rose might call upon them to rise up to rescue Mary and her yet unborn child from The Society and The Founder’s machinations, but earnest support for the Society had begun to grow unchecked as well with no full-throated dissent to oppose them.
During this dark summer one thing sustained us: a promise, given to us that morning on June 18th in the mysterious language the Pilgrims had translated in their first task while on the path:
Search for us again. 10.5.17. Full Harvest. Moon.
A Prophecy Fulfilled
Our patience is rewarded. The day arrives, the spirits return, and with the guidance of both theboanthropic and wearethebobo accounts, the Pilgrims embark on what would become their longest journey together. The night begins at a location that bores the name the Wayfarer alleges in his research had once been used by the Founder, a small park shaped like a teardrop, appropriate for a man who has caused decades of pain in service to his sinister goals. The time has been set. The Pilgrims are prepared.
At 8pm, I arrive to meet other Pilgrims at Everett Park. Following the instructions of the Bobo, I take my place at the edge of the grass surrounding what was unmistakably our contact. My fellow Pilgrims have done the same—forming a discreet perimeter around a lone woman dressed in the unmistakable all-white trappings of a Society member. She sits on a blanket; a few candles cast flickering shadows across her face, eyes closed in silent meditation. Look over at the other pilgrims; and without speaking, I know that we need to wait for an opening. This Society member is here to help us, and her cover has to be maintained at all cost.
She’s not alone. As warned, we notice the Society’s Prudent Necessary Tad Shafer prowling on the periphery and armed with his familiar briefcase. As he performs his laps along the far sidewalk, we Pilgrims mark his progress in order to time our approach. In a maneuver reminiscent of the childhood game red light/green light with grimmer undertones, each Pilgrim takes turns running to the waiting Society member as they spy a moment when out of the PN’s line of vision. As I dash to the blanket, the Society member wastes no time in passing on what she was there to convey.
“The top is to help another— the bottom is to help Mary.”
She whispers this as loudly as she can, pushing a torn scrap of magazine into my hands before sending me running back to the shadows. A dozen such scraps are handed out before her supply is exhausted. As the Pilgrims huddle together to make sense of the offerings, Shafer is seen getting into a car and driving downhill in the direction of the city below, continuing on ahead into a night that would prove to be as eventful as our own.
As we pool what we were given we see that each scrap bears a unique but inscrutable pair of messages. In every case the first message is preceded by a designation, either “To Him” or “To Her,” while the second phrase has no indicators but is written on the scrap in such a way that it is clearly meant to be separate from the first. To Him? To Her? The “other” the Society member spoke of? Someone we would be meeting tonight? We have little time to parse, as the Bobo have already discovered our next destination. We’re just getting started.
Under the Veil
Reconvening at the foot of the Figueroa Street bridge that marks the beginning of the Los Angeles River Greenway Trail, we meet another woman already waiting dressed head to toe in black with a shock of blonde hair pulled back tightly and held partially in place by a strip of black fabric that wraps completely around her head like a blindfold. Her name is Stephanie.
“You are here to witness the work of the Bobo as we transmit messages,” she announces “I am here to keep you safe. And I will lead you along the trail. Follow.”
With that, she walks across the bridge with us in tow. Eventually we come upon a spacious alcove with a rounded railing lined with long pieces of butcher paper flowing onto the ground and covered in messy, frenetic scrawls. Stephanie lingers here, indicating that this is what we were meant to see.
Another woman, pen in hand, stands muttering to herself over one of the scrolls, hastily adding to it as if compelled by some dire need. We surround her, trying to make sense of her writing and muttering, attempting to make contact, but she seems barely aware of our presence, if at all.
Suddenly, she breaks away from the throng and runs further on down the bridge. We give chase, following her to another alcove, this one populated by roughly half a dozen woven mats arranged along the ground. The woman kneels on one of these mats as if in prayer as her whispering intensifies. A few feet away we notice a man similarly occupied, murmuring to himself heatedly as though in some kind of spiritual distress. Then, without warning or obvious provocation, the man gets up from his mat and runs still further along the bridge towards his own collection of papers, while a moment later the woman sprints back the way she came to where we had first encountered her.
We split up and observe both of them as they perform their feverish circuits, ping-ponging back and forth from one station to the other as though possessed. We Pilgrims, eager to make contact, theorize that these could be the “Him” and “Her” that the phrases we had been given in Everett Park were meant for. Many of us try reading the phrases aloud as the man and woman continue their work, and while it may have been overwhelming, a few seem to be able to break through. For a moment, the woman seems to be roused from her trance. She looks at us directly and speaks in a quiet, hopeless voice.
“Bobby… Bobby…” she says, pulling a piece of fabric from her purse, It’s his neckerchief… Bobby went through all the Scouts…”
The moment is short-lived, as she descends back into the haze and begins scratching BOBBY onto one of the papers over and over again. Eventually, Stephanie appears satisfied and continues to lead us across the remaining stretch of bridge and back down along the Greenway Trail that continues on directly parallel to the Los Angeles River.
We walk for some time in silence until Stephanie once more indicates that we have reached our destination. We look around for what it was they were meant to see until Stephanie points behind us, past the railing, down a steep concrete incline and into a shadowy clump of trees at the very bottom of the ravine. We summon our courage and descend into the darkness, our faith rewarded by the presence of an old friend.
“Who is that?” the Black Rose demands nervously, pointing at Stephanie’s flashlight as it blinks through the trees above us. He speaks in hushed, rasping whispers, shifting his weight from foot to foot, overcome by a kind of paranoia.
“Do you know where we are? This is the Cat Scratch Wash. We’re at the Confluence. This is the origin of it all. The birthplace of this city. The confluence of two rivers, the birthplace of Los Angeles, before Los Angeles was a thought. How did you know to come to this place?”
We answer his questions in a hushed unison that evokes a kind of strange reverence, as though praying at the altar of TheBoanthropic. He asks us if we know what tonight is, to which we reply, “The Harvest Moon.” He presses further, asking if we know what that really means, the return of TheBoanthropic, and if we had been receiving their messages. When we confirm that we have, he sighs.
“I’m past the quarter space at this point. I don’t know if that electric buzz will return to me. But I have a friend. She hears messages from across the continent. Are they writing to you? In their language or yours?”
He chuckles wryly as we tell him they have so far communicated in English. We also tell him of the couple we encountered on the bridge. Here, he interrupts us, apologizing for appearing confused, and inquires about our standing with the Society. Were we banded at Genesis? Marked at Divulgence? Those who were identify themselves.
“So you’re but steps away from level twenty five in the Society. These persons along the way. They were far gone? So the veil’s not been lifted… This being the confluence, this being a birthplace of sorts and this being the Harvest Moon, the reaping of the earth, a sort of thinness in the air. Pilgrims… is it true you wish to join the Bobo? You’re committed? You’ll seek Mary out and save the Moon Child? You know the timeline at hand. And you know all what’s at stake. She’s getting so big…. Did I show you this before?”
The Black Rose partially lifts his shirt, revealing the unmistakable symbol of TheBoanthropic drawn onto his torso that he first showed those Pilgrims who ventured up to Horse Flats Campground all those months ago.
“Make a circle. Quickly. Link arms. Tight with each other. Come closer. Close your eyes. And repeat after me. O Harvest Moon. Fill me tonight. That my eyes and mouth may pour forth moonbeams. And guide my path through eternal darkness. Protect me from the quarter space. I am but a tiny pink rosebud. Grow me into a night creature. Prepared to battle. Prepared to rescue. And save the Moonchild. Open your eyes. Do you all agree to be marked?”
We all nod together as he produces a pen. He eyes us with a steely resolve and then offers us a choice: belly, back, or groin. We chuckle as he goes around the circle applying the mark. Not one of us abstains, but none of us pick groin.
“Keep this hidden. Your path is upriver. All I know is the Wayfarer has something for you in a book. Consult TheBoanthropic. Go, go, go!”
The Black Rose sends us scuttling back up top with urgency, a quick look back shows that he has already disappeared further into the dark cover of the trees. Stephanie has remained where we left her only to say she can go with us no further. Armed with only our phones, our marks, and a renewed sense of purpose, we trek on.
Words of the Wayfarer
We walk along the riverside path, scanning every street sign for one that matches the instructions we’d been sent. When we finally come to Riverdale Avenue, we turn and find ourselves walking through a quiet residential neighborhood. Lights sensing our motion blink on as we pass each house as if out of curiosity, trying to get a better look at the strange visitors passing through their domain.
Riverdale proves to be a straight shot and before long we see the steeple rising up into the night sky, the Harvest Moon shining directly above it as if to mark the way. We fan out, searching the area around the church for the next clue. A “Little Free Library” waits roughly a block away, a freestanding box for the neighborhood to borrow and exchange old books. It isn’t difficult to tell which one is meant for us.
The Wayfarers by Dan Wickenden sits unassumingly in the center of the row, waiting like all books do for the curious to pick them up and see what knowledge may lie within. A picture postcard, fittingly from the Wayfarers’ Chapel in Portuguese Bend, California, rests between the pages with a typewritten message:
Dear Pilgrims. have been watching you. but so have others. Krysta is near. in danger. have a drink at Tenants. of the Trees. follow the man TAD PAYS. find Krysta.
So it’s true. This isn’t some long hidden artifact, words calling out from the ages hoping to reach anyone at all. This message is for us, for today, and he could be watching us right now. We’re grateful for a location far enough away that walking is out of the question, quickly organize ride shares and make our way to the bar. In our haste, it doesn’t hit me until I’m sitting in the car: Krysta? Here?
Don’t Lose Him
Tenants is the emptiest I’ve seen it. The outdoor area is host to some kind of slam poetry event, but the interior of the bar is all but vacant. With no sign of Tad or anyone else suspicious, we Pilgrims take a moment to buy a drink and collect our thoughts. Many of us go onto Facebook and, sure enough, Krysta does indeed now have a profile; something her parents had, at least at one point, forbidden. Seeing her real face for the first time, rather than her chosen Avatar of Taylor Swift, is oddly comforting, but also worrisome. Why has she been silent all this time? Why has she left Bev alone and scared? How has she made it all the way from Montauk to here, on tonight of all nights? And who is she in danger from?
All too soon we’re pulled from our drinks and reverie as Tad Shafer enters the bar. He makes his way directly to a recessed seating area near the back, where a man with blonde hair has been sitting alone since before we arrived.
They speak for some time. We can’t get close enough to hear what they’re saying, but there is a seriousness in their faces and body language that suggests it’s nothing good. Then, the moment we’ve been waiting for, the moment that the Wayfarer had somehow predicted: money changes hands and the blonde man gets up to leave. We are on the move again, out the front door of the bar and into the streets.
We proceed as discreetly as a mob of nearly a dozen people walking together only a few yards behind a man walking alone can. He seems unconcerned, but I get the impression that he’s aware of us. We’ve been receiving our instructions from a public online platform, how could he and Tad not know what we’re up to at this point? Whatever mission this man is on, it seems as though he’s confident that our presence has no way of derailing it.
The man takes us on a long, circuitous journey through back streets and under bridges. We know enough not to trust him, that if there is danger about he will likely lead us straight to it, and we might be called upon to intercede. The tension continues to mount with each weary step until he comes to a stop, resting underneath the awning of a bus stop. next to to the William Mulholland Memorial fountain and park. He rests against an illuminated advertisement at the bus stop, his menacing silhouette turning in faceless regard towards the park. So trained was our gaze on him that we haven’t properly taken in our surroundings. We turn to look, and there she was. A girl about eighteen wearing a winter coat and clutching the handle of a pink rolling suitcase. Auburn hair styled into short bangs. Bold red lipstick: just like Taylor.
New in Town
“I don’t have any money for the hotel, I don’t know why I flew all the way out here,” Krysta laments, pacing back and forth. We try to make it clear we’re there to help her, that we’ve been marked, that we’ve been sent by the Resistance, the Black Rose, and by TheBoanthropic themselves specifically to find her, but she seems nervous, scattered, paranoid.
“Who’s that?” she points at the blond stranger we had followed, who has come out from behind the bus stop to slowly advance towards the group. “Who is he? He’s making me really nervous.”
Towing her bag behind her, Krysta makes her way further into the center of the park, her head darting back and forth, her posture tense as if preparing for some unseen danger. “There’s someone I was supposed to meet, he’s supposed to have this symbol on him. But it’s not what you have on you.”
The symbol she shows us is unfamiliar, and we only get the briefest glimpse as her attention once again strays to the encroaching stranger. Krysta demands what he’s doing here, but he responds with a smile. His voice is coy, with a touch of menace. He seems to be playing with her.
“Where are you trying to go?” he asks. She seems to soften for a moment, eager for any help she can get, saying her reservation is at the Best Western in the Hollywood Hills. She probes further, questioning him about the Harvest Moon, why he avoids her eye contact, and who sent him here. Could this be her contact? He can only smile and respond, “Who says I was sent.”
She turns back to us, wary of him once again and looking for an explanation. We tell her the circumstances we found him in. Tad, the money, everything.
“You wouldn’t be out here investigating the Society, by any chance, would you?” the stranger persists, pressing towards her. Kysta whispers defensively that she doesn’t know anything about the Society.
“Of course you don’t. That’s a crazy thing I just said.” His demeanor changes. His smirk is gone as a darkness washes over his face. “You’re helping TheBoanthropic.”
“No!” Krysta exclaims as fear begins to take hold, “I just— I don’t even know if I should’ve come. I don’t even know who I should trust right now.”
“I think you should stay right there. I think you’re dealing with something that you shouldn’t be.”
“I just wanted this to be done! I’m really tired of my neighbor going through these fits of horrors. I can’t go on with what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. Being at home, figuring out where I’m gonna go to school, and like not worrying about my neighbor’s Instagram account! OK? I haven’t talked to her in like five weeks! I don’t even know if I should be here.” She pauses. “Can you show me the sign?”
He shakes his head patronizingly, “You don’t understand.”
But she persists. “I’m supposed to meet someone with the symbol on them, and if you don’t have it then I can’t trust you.” He tells her not to trust what she was told, but to understand what she sees. But what she sees is someone with the Society, someone sent to stop TheBoanthropic, and she’s part of the resistance. Finally, she proclaims, “If you can’t show me the symbol in three seconds, I’m going to ask for an intervention.”
“You need to stop what you’re doing.”
“Two… Can you show it to me or not?”
“You need to understand—“
And with that the Pilgrims spring into action. Krysta dives to the ground, kneeling and pressing her hands firmly against the soft grass. We surround her in a semi-circle, standing defiantly in front of the man. “Go away!” Krysta calls from behind her allies, “We are here to resist you and you have no place here, go away now!”
“This is not over!” the man seethes, but after a moment’s hesitation as he scans our faces, he turns and runs away into the night. Satisfied he’s no longer a threat, we turn back to help Krysta up.
“I’m sorry for mistrusting you guys. Gosh! Thanks for reaching out.”
We escort Krysta through the park, asking her questions about how she got here, why she came, and what had happened between her and Beverly.
“I feel bad for shutting her out. I know all this stuff, and I don’t want to know it, and I just want Bev to be OK. I don’t want to be apart of this! Oh my gosh, look what this made me do! I mean hey, at least I’m closer to Taylor. Gosh I’ve been watching that video on repeat on the plane ride over. I saved up my graduation money for a plane ticket, put a deposit down on hotel for one night. But I should be here for more than that. I don’t know why I’m here, I’ve never done anything like this, I just turned eighteen five days ago! I just don’t want this to be a part of my life anymore. And I figured since there’s a group of Pilgrims here in LA that I should come closer to them and— is that you guys?”
We all respond with an emphatic “YES!”
Shake It Off
It has been a long night and Krysta has a hotel room waiting for her. We call a car and a few of us ride with her, the others following just behind. During the ride, Krysta continues to fill us in on her situation.
“Gosh! I can’t believe they knew I was here! I haven’t even like talked about anything on social media. It’s like spooky but it’s like the whole answer to this terrible fucking Society thing that’s like haunting Beverly and it’s recruiting members, you know? And I think that it knows you guys are onto it. I mean clearly since Tad sent someone. God, I can’t believe he sent someone! I don’t even think he hears TheBoanthropic, how did he know?”
We explain that we, and possibly Tad, found her because of the posts theboanthropic account had been making.
“I need to be so much more careful about what Bev posts. And who can read it. I feel really bad, I have to message her first and apologize. What am I gonna do, I don’t even have money for food now. Ugh, why’d I plan this? I didn’t plan this. Maybe she can send me something so I can stay out here longer and figure things out. I wanted to get out of this whole thing, I’ve been hanging out with Ollie, we had this weird ending and he like doesn’t understand. He doesn’t believe me when I talk about this stuff, he’s like ‘ghosts aren’t real! What are you talking about!’ And I’m like it’s not a ghost exactly. It’s just so tantalizing. I feel like it’s really important that we figure this out. Especially if the leader of the Society is really the father of Mary’s baby. And it was against her will….We need to join together with the Resistance and make sure we’re not recruited. It’s so weird that all of this is happening under the Harvest Moon. It feels really creepy to have all this faith in a spirit. But I was not getting good vibes from that guy.”
It’s a short drive from the fountain to the hotel. I wonder what the driver must be thinking about the things Krysta was saying. In many ways it still doesn’t make sense to us. As we walk Krysta to the door of the hotel lobby, she thanks us again for all our help. At the last moment, we ask if we can take a picture to commemorate her first night in Los Angeles. She happily obliges, striking a pose with a peace sign and a cheerful grin. As she grabs her bag and turns to go, she calls out, “Post it for Taylor!”
A Meal with Friends
We think the night is over. The latest message from TheBoanthropic barely registers with us, thinking they just want us to enjoy a little dessert to cap off such a stressful night. The 101 Coffee Shop is literally next door to Krysta’s hotel, so those of us who drove there with her walk in to find a table while the other Pilgrims are en route.
The hostess greets us, asking us to sit in the waiting area as they prepared a table large enough for our group, and then we see them. Eric Andrew Hoff, Kari Lee Cartwright (the wife of Tad Shafer) and two more Society members congregating in a booth at the center of the café, all dressed in their vestral whites. As we’re seated and more of our party arrives, we do our best to avoid eye contact and not let on, hoping that our close proximity won’t disrupt whatever it is we’re still meant to witness. We order our pie, speak in hushed tones, and keep our heads down, but what happens next makes it all but impossible to keep our composure.
Tad Shafer enters the coffee shop with his arm around Mary herself, visibly pregnant, walking directly past us as he ushers her to the table with the others. This is the first time any of us has ever seen her in person, and we now understand completely what TheBoanthropic mean. This is not the time for heroics. The mood at the Society table seems fairly light. They’re eating, talking, laughing, even Mary seems at least on the surface to be in good spirits. Eventually, the four who had occupied the table originally get up and make their way to the front of the restaurant to pay their bill, leaving Tad and Mary alone.
He sits close, speaking to her intently for a moment, then gets up to join the others. The window is short, but she makes the most of it. Mary, her face betraying none of the danger she risks, calmly slides out of the booth while her fellow Society members’ backs are turned. In one fluid motion she takes the few steps to our table, produces a small piece paper from her pocket, drops it in front of us, and returns to her seat undiscovered. A moment later Tad comes to collect her and they’re gone.
Once the coast is clear we examine the paper. No note, no instructions, just a drawing of a black bull drawn in felt marker, with a swirling, colorful background behind it. A statement of fidelity to TheBoanthropic and the Taurus Beast, or is there a deeper meaning hiding somewhere between the lines? It is 12:30am, literally a mystery for another day, and for the moment the Pilgrims say their goodbyes and return home, bodily weary but never more committed to the cause.
TheBoanthropic have indeed returned, as the faithful always knew they would, and now that we have seen her, seen the two of them, with our own eyes, the importance of the spirits’ mission rang true to us as never before. We could feel the moment drawing near. We knew what we had to do:
SAVE THE MOONCHILD.