Every Night I Die In My Sleep – Season 3 Episode 12

See Content Warnings
General horror, gore, death, violence, alcohol, and guns
Need to skip this episode? Click here to see the plot.
A note to Ron from Mark Anderson is on top of this week’s papers. It states that the victim was found in her bed, apartment locked from the inside. The only thing of note at the crime scene was a stack of typewritten pages from Ms. Eden (the deceased).
In it, she details a number of dreams she had in which she was someone else who died. A news report confirms one of the deaths actually happened, and events within the dreams show that some happened in the past, some in the present, and some in the future.
Every night she has these dreams, and then afterwards, she always sees the killer in the same order that the dreams occurred. In one of the dreams, the killer spray paints a hand with seven digits and an eye in the palm, a symbol that seems to be associated with Hydra. After another dream, she runs into what seems to be a younger version of the killer in her last dream, who she learns is Detective Ron Hammond.
In another dream, she is killed. She stays locked away in her home, but is unable to avoid her fate.

“Every night I die in my sleep.”

I’d be lying if I said that sentence didn’t immediately catch my eye as I pored over the countless papers from the storage unit – something it feels like I had bid on a lifetime ago. There’s a small stack of papers, but on top of them is a note addressed to Ron.

It reads:

I looked into this one and there’s not much there. The vic was twenty-four year old Barbara Eden. She was single, only child, and her parents had died in a car accident somewhere around a year before her death. Of course, due to the nature of the case, there’s no definite date of death, but the body was found in her own bed on November first, eighty-six. Her apartment was locked from the inside, no signs of forced entry. Aside from how weird that is, the only thing noteworthy found at the scene was what you already have. The pages were stacked neatly beside her typewriter. Let me know if there’s anything else you want me to check on.


As I’m sure you will too, I feel it’s safe to assume this is from Detective Anderson. With the little context he provided in mind, I’ll go ahead and start reading what is apparently the only notable item found at the scene of Ms. Eden’s demise.

Every night I die in my sleep. At least, every night for the past year, roughly. I’ve decided to organize my notes because I don’t know when it’s going to happen. If anyone finds this…if anyone cares enough to read it…I’ll see if I can put this in a way that makes sense. I wrote down my first dream the day I had it. I’ll organize all my papers so they’re in chronological order. I don’t know what good it will do but I need to be able to see the words. I just need to. So, here’s the very first of the dreams.

I’ve never seen anything around me before, but I know right away that it’s all mine. I’m sitting on my couch in my apartment. Everything is vivid to my senses of sight and touch when I focus on them, but I can’t hear anything. Well, I can. But it’s all…muffled. Like someone left the radio on in another room at the other end of the house. I can feel a remote control for the TV in my hand. There’s carpet touching my feet. I’m not able to move my body but this makes sense. I’m a passenger. I know this just like I know everything I see is mine just like I know this isn’t me. I stop fighting for control and begin to focus on the sensations.

I have a slight buzz. I see three empty bottles of beer on the coffee table in front of me. I’m content. The TV is flickering and I focus to see that the channel eight news is on. George Bush has appointed a new Secretary of Transportation, according to the headline at the bottom of the screen. I think that’s strange. I don’t know much about politics, but I guess I just assumed that’s something only presidents do.

My head moves and at first I’m too distracted, trying to pick out everything in my line of sight one by one, to realize that the front door is open. There’s a man walking towards me. There are vibrations in my throat and I realize that I’m talking, but I can’t hear anything. The man’s mouth moves but I don’t know what he’s saying. Whatever he says causes cold fear to grip my chest.

I stand up and put my arms in front of me. He seems unconcerned by this and continues approaching me casually. I focus on my peripheral vision and see that he’s holding a blue translucent rubber-coated wire in his gloved hands. It looks like the type of cable you’d see on a cheap bike lock. My arms raise to push him away and I try to run.

I feel my throat caught, jerking me back. My hands raise to feel the cable wrapped around my neck. I feel intense pressure building up in my head as air is cut off from my lungs and blood cut off from my brain. My arms flail as I try to fight, but it’s useless. My eyes never close as I sink to the floor. I feel my heart slow from its rapid pace to an unnatural end. My body becomes dead weight; I am held up solely by this cable.

Finally, the pressure on my throat eases. My back flops to the ground. I’m staring straight up. There’s a cobweb on the ceiling, hanging stubbornly between the popcorn and the central light fixture. The man who killed me steps into my view, simply staring at me for a moment.

His blonde hair is buzzed. His emotionless blue eyes study me. He looks at me like I’m an object, not a person. He bends down and I feel his hand dive into the pocket of my pants, where he removes something that I can’t see. He stands up and looks around. He moves out of my field of view for a moment, then returns with a knife and a spoon. He gets right up in my face, working with his tools around my eyes. I feel no pain. Instead, just cold metal tearing away at my eyelids, then a spoon edges under my eyeball. My vision is distorted, looking at multiple images at once. I see the knife move and the two images become only half an image. I see him holding my eyeball over my head and studying it. Then he sets it aside before turning to look at my remaining eye.

Then I woke up. This really bothered me. I think it would have disturbed anyone, really. But it felt like a storm looming overhead throughout my day, despite my best efforts to ignore it, because Mondays are bad enough as it is. The storm broke when I was leaving work, though. I couldn’t wait to get home and start a new day fresh. That’s probably why I wasn’t paying enough attention as I exited the elevator to realize that my purse was going to knock over the plant next to the elevator doors until it was too late.

I turned to catch it instinctively, but someone had already caught it and untangled my purse from it. I smiled at the gesture and looked up to thank them, when the words caught in my throat. I may not have recognized the person – I assume they worked on a different floor than me – but I’d recognize those eyes anywhere. I’d been thinking about them all day. This man was a killer.

I shook my head as I walked away without so much as thanking the man. I’d read in a magazine once that you can’t imagine new faces in your sleep, that at most you take bits and pieces of people’s faces that you’ve seen. We worked in the same building. I’m sure I had just run into him before in the elevator or the front lobby on my way into or out of work. Then…had some sort of nightmare. I heard laying off dairy for the last few hours before bed can help with nightmares. I guess I’ll skip the cheese on tonight’s dinner.

I can’t move my arms or legs. That’s the first thing I know. I can feel my heart beating quickly. I am sitting in a chair. I can’t see anything though; everything is black. And then I can. A woman is standing in front of me now, holding a blindfold. She must have just taken it off. She’s talking and I try to make out what she said, but I can’t. My eyes don’t move from her, but I focus on my peripheral vision.

There’s newspapers laid out, filling up the entirety of the living room floor. I think I’ve seen these ones before. I see one about Mayor Hedgecock. But that’s not the most notable thing. There’s a large black circle in black spray paint going across all the newspapers. The image in the middle of the circle takes me a minute to recognize because it doesn’t look right. It’s a hand with seven digits. There’s a football-shaped hole in the palm of the hand.

I refocus on the woman in front of me. I know I want to say something, but there’s something in my mouth stopping me. I must be gagged. But I still talk. Not with my voice, though. There are no vibrations or muffled sounds. I don’t know how, but she heard me. She shakes her head no, and pulls out a knife. My heart beats harder, but now irregularly. I again speak without words, telling her that my heart hurts. She ignores me now and does something behind my back.

I feel myself being shoved forwards. My hands and feet are still bound, but I am no longer tied to a chair. I struggle to move, but it’s useless. I feel something being wrapped around my throat and I can no longer breathe. I’m dragged to the center of the circle. The pressure on my throat eases, but does not let up entirely.

I’m on my back. I look up at the woman, who is standing where the middle finger extends. Her brown eyes turn black as she begins to talk. I don’t know how or when it happened, but there are now three dark figures on either side of her. Each figure is standing at the point of a digit. I try to focus on them, but find that I can’t. I can only focus on her.

Another minute of this and then I am flipped onto my stomach. She pulls my shirt up and I feel incisions being made on my lower back. Things are inserting themselves into me. They’re under my skin, moving around, feeling me. Muscle is shoved aside with no effort and my insides begin to shift. I want to scream but as soon as the thought enters my mind, my throat constricts.

As suddenly as they had started, they stop. I am flipped back over. In one hand the woman is holding a clear plastic bag that contains three metal objects smeared in blood. In the other hand, she holds an open vial of blood. She begins walking the rim of the circle, stopping every other pace to pour out some of the blood. She completes the circle and faces me.

I can see the figures moving but I can’t tell exactly how they are moving. It’s like I can register motion but nothing beyond that. They become still again and it’s then that I realize my heart is once again beating – hard and irregular. I feel pain in my chest. She stares at me until the pain subsides. I am no longer trying to breathe.

I watch the woman step forward as my eyes begin to slowly unfocus. She is holding an open, green duffel bag. She begins to shove my body inside the bag and everything is filtered through its material. The bag tightens around me as it’s closed and picked up. I’m no longer inside my home. The bag is shoved into another, smaller space, and then I hear a loud thump of a car trunk being shut. All I see is black.

So obviously cutting out dairy didn’t help. One bad dream is terrible, but two in a row put me on the verge of a meltdown for most of the morning. It was some time before I was able to bury myself into routine, bouncing between actual work and workplace gossip. I deliberately waited an extra five minutes after I got off work before taking the elevator. I had no desire to run into that man again – actual killer or no. I thought about how I should call my doctor. I’m sure there’s a pill or something I could take to fix this. He’d know best.

I got in my car and began the drive home. I turned on the radio, looking forward to something that could take my mind far away from my troubles. I thought that might do the trick, at least until I could get home and make a call to the doctor. It wasn’t until I was stopped at a light on Market that I found my gaze wandering around. That’s when my eyes met the driver’s at the other end of the intersection. Her cold brown eyes seemed to rip into my soul.

I actually jumped, which meant I let go of the brake and started to roll into the intersection before I realized it. Already committed, I slammed onto the gas and got out of there. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the rear view mirror the whole way home. I was just waiting for her to follow me. I don’t know what I’d do, I was just scared.

I made it home without getting into an accident and I don’t think I was followed at all. I sat in the parking lot, trying to catch my breath and stop my hands from shaking. It was all in my head. It had to be. I had to have seen her somewhere before or something. That’s all.

I was finally getting myself under control when I realized the radio was still on. You know how you can be at work, talking to someone, and then you hear someone on the other side of the room say your name and it catches your attention, even though they weren’t trying to get your attention and you hadn’t even been listening if they were? Well, that’s what happened when I heard the guy on the radio say, “The body was found in a green duffel bag, locked in the victim’s trunk. Nothing was stolen and the police are requesting any information that may help catch the perpetrator.”

I realized I was holding my breath while I waited for more information that never came. That was the end of that news story. I shut off the car and ran inside my apartment.

I need to get an appointment in for the doctor. I can’t deal with this.

I feel thirsty. No, that’s not right. Hungry? No, that’s not it. Ah, it’s…it’s a metaphor. I want to know. That’s what it is. There’s someone in front of me, lying on a hospital bed in my mind’s eye. But this isn’t a hospital. I look around me without turning my head. It’s some kind of warehouse. No. It’s an abandoned home. I’m standing in the middle of it, next to this bed. There’s all kinds of wires hooked up to the person who’s lying on the bed. Some are sensors, maybe. There’s a heartbeat monitor going so that’s probably one of them. Others look like they’re going under the skin, though. I don’t know what those would be. There’s something vibrating in my pocket. I look down as I pull a black rectangle from my jeans. It’s lighting up with the letter H. I touch a red circle and it stops vibrating. I put it back in my pocket and refocus on the bed. The wires. The person.

It’s all there so I can understand. That’s what keeps coming back to me. My hands come into view again and I roughly open the person’s left eye. It doesn’t appear to focus at all, but I know from the monitors he’s alive. The monitors aren’t real, though. They’re a representation of what’s happening from my mind. As I stare into the eye I feel something.

I don’t know how to describe it. It doesn’t make sense at all. I feel like I’m going crazy just focusing on it. It’s like an entire universe enters my mind, exploding in a series of colors that don’t exist. Worlds are formed and disappear, taking unrecognizable creatures with them as they go. A feeling not unlike electricity runs through each light, each color, each creature, each world, and circles back to me. I absorb it all. It is now me. It always was. This feels like it makes sense, although I don’t understand it.

The universe rushes behind me as something tries to pull me away. I turn and see an older, gray-haired man approach. He has a gun in one hand and some sort of needle, like a shot, in the other. He stands there, cautious but sure. Like he’s done this dozens of times before.

I feel the universe burn at my back. He hasn’t done this before. Not to me. He’s just another in a long line of killers. Killers that I can stop. I focus and feel an energy only comparable to the sun build and I begin to focus on him. His heart. If I concentrate, I can hear it. I can-

That’s my last coherent thought. I’m on the ground. He shot me. I’m still alive. I try to breathe, but find I’m choking on blood. He draws closer and hovers over me for a moment. He looks at me, squinting briefly. Before I realize he’s moved his gun again, he’s shot me in the head.

I woke up screaming last night. I don’t think I can keep writing these murders down. The doctor gave me some medicine today and said it’ll help with the night terrors. In the meantime, he told me to get some fresh air, so I took a walk downtown. I think he was probably right about that sort of thing…normally. I think most of the time, that helps people. Just a change of scenery and some time with nature. I stopped at a bench for a smoke and decided to enjoy the fall air.

I found my eyes drawn to a man walking on the opposite sidewalk. I couldn’t figure it out at first, then I realized he bore a marked resemblance to the killer I’d dreamt about last night. I froze, then took a drag to help with my indecision. I hurried across the street and stopped him.

“Hi…have we met?” I asked him.

He looked at me thoughtfully for a moment, then shook his head. “No, I don’t believe so, but it’s possible. I meet a lot of people.”

I bit my lip, and then pushed on with my next question. “I know this’ll sound strange but…is your father a good man?”

He furrowed his brow. “Well, he’s not a bad man, if that’s what you’re after. Why?” he asked.

I knew I couldn’t answer that question without getting committed to an institution, so I dodged it for as long as I could. “And you…you’ve never killed anyone, have you?”

He almost laughed at that, before pulling something out of his jacket pocket. “I try not to,” he said with a half smirk. “I’m a detective with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Now, is there something I can help you with, ma’am? Are you in some kind of trouble?”

My face turned red. Of course this was ridiculous. It had all just been dreams. Except…the news had confirmed that they weren’t.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said, “Detective…”

He folded his badge back up as he introduced himself. “Hammond. Detective Hammond.”

“No,” I answered. “No trouble. Sorry to bother you.”

I felt so foolish approaching him. This had to stop, though. Somehow. Every night I was dying in my sleep. Every day, the very next day, I saw the person who killed me. Three nights and three days in a row. If the pills didn’t help, I wasn’t going to be able to ever leave my apartment without meeting a killer.

The pills haven’t helped me. Right away I dreamt of some teenager slicing into my skull. It’s been weeks now and I haven’t left my apartment. I made a few calls and set up an arrangement with my friend, Nancy. Her nephew is bringing me groceries until I find some medicine that works. Hopefully I can stop this. Or they’ll just go away as magically as they came in the first place.

I made a mistake today. I ordered some Chinese food. Delivery, of course. It took me a minute, but as I dropped the tip into his hand, our eyes met and I remembered. He was the fourth person who killed me: the teenager from my dream. I slammed the door in his face.

I had dreamt of him months ago now. At least I think it had been months…truthfully, I stopped looking at the calendar. Or clocks. Or anything that had to do with time. It all made me feel hopeless, like I was going to die in this apartment, trapped by my nightmares.

This was the first time since I’d stayed at home that I’d seen another killer, and it was the very next dream I’d had. Did that mean every dream I’d had…probably a hundred by now…I was still going to see those killers? Was it inevitable? I don’t want to sleep anymore.

I think that’s all of the ones I wrote down before today. So here’s the dream I had last night. Here’s why I’m getting ready.

I slowly open my eyes. My head hurts. I look up from the ground and see a man in a charcoal gray suit sitting across from me. He says something, but I can’t distinguish his words. He seems very relaxed. His mouth doesn’t move, but I finally hear his voice echo in my mind.

“You’ve been hiding for quite some time now.”

I try to think what he means. He continues as he casually steps towards me.

“You were harder to track down than most. I could just catch whiffs of you inside the others.”

I tried to talk but found my body unresponsive. He noticed my efforts and chuckled. “Nah ah ah, don’t you know that you’re dreaming? You’re not the one in control here.”

Tears streamed from my eyes as I pleaded wordlessly that this was a mistake. He tilted his head to the side as if listening, then responded in my mind. “I’m sorry, you don’t even know, do you? Maybe that’s for the better. Still… there’s something inside that I need. I have to understand.”

My eyes widen and I again plead for my life. He ignores me this time, having a singular focus. I feel my heart pounding. I’ve never been more scared. My heart begins to beat to an irregular rhythm, skipping some beats while slowing down others. I feel a burning in my chest. It begins to radiate outwards and I know this is the end of it all. I jerk my head around, trying to wake myself up. Then I notice where I am. It’s my own apartment. I look back at him, eyes wide, chest on fire. I plead for my life. I wake up. I’m alone in my apartment.

Then I woke up… again. For real, this time. I pinched myself to make sure. I don’t know how long I’ve been trapped in my home now. I don’t know how many people have killed me. I don’t know how many killers I have yet to meet. I just know that one day, I’m going to meet one and he’s going to kill me in my sleep.

There’s a lot to unpack in this one, but at the forefront of my mind as I read this the first time is that Ms. Eden went through a mental hell. Part of me wonders if she would have been an asset to police investigations with her seemingly psychic knowledge of murders, but as someone who has faced and occasionally still deals with malevolent figures at night, I know that wouldn’t make the terror worth it.

If not most importantly, then certainly most urgently, is the fact that one of those killers she faced was Ron Hammond. She described something she wouldn’t recognize at that time – a smartphone. Given that, I believe the Ron she met was far too young to have committed the murder she witnessed. But I don’t know if that’s still true of the Ron that I know.

Sometimes I can’t help but feel frustrated as I get more questions than answers while reading these papers. Who called the person that Ron killed? Maybe I could track them down before it’s too late. Or maybe he had a good reason to kill them. Then again, from the descriptions, it sounds like these may have been organized killings. A symbol described as being spray painted on the newspapers is one I’m familiar with. It’s one I’ve run across in several documents related to Hydra.

Abandoned – Season 3 Episode 11

See Content Warnings
General horror, gore, death, language, inappropriate/immature humor
Need to skip this episode? Click here to see the plot.
A group of five teenagers go into an abandoned building found in the middle of the woods. As they explore, they find remnants of a science lab and offices. They encounter booby traps that seem targeted to keep something inside as opposed to keep people out. One by one, members of the group go missing. Upon going deeper into the building in search of their peers, the two remaining teens encounter a room with ropes that go up to floating corpses. They run with something large chasing them through the dark. Only one escapes, where they run into a park ranger who takes their statement.

Welcome back. As some of you know if you’re on The Storage Papers’ social media, I’ve dabbled in visiting places for the purposes of paranormal research – or as it’s more commonly called: ghost hunting. Some places can certainly be quite spooky, especially the long abandoned buildings like old hospitals. This paper recounts a statement provided to a park ranger from a woman who was picked up wearing just a shirt, a pair of underwear, and boots as she ran directly in front of his Jeep. Some abandoned places were never meant to be explored.

We weren’t even supposed to be there. When we ran into the No Trespassing signs, I told them we should turn back. Nobody listened.

There were five of us: me and David, Kristen and Raul, and Jemal. Raul and David kept goading each other, and Kristen has always been up for anything. I think me and Jemal were the only ones who just wanted to keep hiking. I knew there was no way to talk them out of it, though. Especially David. That’s part of why I’d been so attracted to him. I’ve never been much of a risk taker and he always pushed me to step out of my comfort zone.

It was just past three when we got to the chain link fence. I remember because that was part of my argument for not going inside: I didn’t want it to be dark by the time we got back to our campsite. Raul told David he should just hang back with his girl. David insisted that I was up for this. Then he turned to me and gave me a quick wink – the same wink he always gave me right before my boundaries were about to be pushed.

Jemal pointed out the barbed wire and reiterated how bad of an idea this was. What if it was some top secret government facility or something?

Raul just rolled his eyes and pointed out how unkempt everything was. Whatever this place used to be, it was clearly abandoned. David quickly agreed, trying to get Jemal onboard. While they went back and forth, Kristen was the one who pointed out the direction of the barbed wire at the top of the ten foot fence – specifically that it was angled inwards. She asked if we thought this used to be some kinda prison. The bickering paused as everyone looked at the fence and the roof of the structure beyond. We couldn’t see it very well – between the overgrown weeds and the overall shape of the landscape, it was pretty well hidden.

But, like David and Raul said, there was definitely no sign of human life anywhere within the area. Raul looked from side to side and started shaking the fence. He saw that part of it was loose and David helped him pull it up and away from the fence post. There was just enough room in the gap they created to crawl through, but only barely. Raul went through last and ended up catching his gray t-shirt on the fence, tearing a piece of it off.

Once he was through, him and David took the lead while me, Kristen, and Jemal kinda hung back a little. Me and Jemal really weren’t feeling it at all by the time we got to the building itself. It was a big, concrete structure. It almost reminded me of some sort of bunker, but it was a lot bigger than any bunker I’d ever seen pictures of. There were some windows that were reinforced with steel bars. They reminded me of Kristen’s comment about it being a jail and, even though there’s no way it was an actual jail, it still made me uneasy and I pointed it out.

Raul was unconcerned. He said even if it was a jail, it wouldn’t be the first abandoned one he’d explored, which got him and David talking about going on some sort of urban exploration adventure together or something. I ignored them, hoping David wasn’t planning on bringing me along as I peered through the windows… but I couldn’t see anything at all.

Then Jemal called out that he found a door around the corner. I hadn’t even noticed he’d wandered off, but the guys started celebrating that they’d gotten Jemal in the spirit with them. Nobody seemed concerned about the weather-worn signs plastered on the door saying stuff like “No Trespassing,” “Danger,” and “Fines and Prosecution.” Raul stood at the door with Jemal and asked if any of us had seen something we could pry it open with. I shrugged and looked around to see if there were any stray metal rods that may have broken off from the windows or something, when Kristen asked if they’d tried to open it yet. I rolled my eyes as the guys all looked at each other like dummies, then David stepped forward and turned the handle. It swung inwards.

This time Kristen pushed past them and led the way in. I entered last, pulling my flashlight out of the side pocket of my backpack. As expected, it was extremely dark inside. We all looked around with our flashlights to see that we were in a small, windowless room. There were some old newspapers scattered around the floor, some broken glass, and a bunch of cigarette butts. The light from the doorway cut straight across the room, illuminating the only notable feature: a set of steel double doors with a bracket on either side, holding a four by four in place. With almost no hesitation, Raul and David walked up to the door and removed the wooden bar. I asked why they thought it was there and David shrugged his shoulders and grinned, saying that he didn’t know but we were going to find out. That just made me more uneasy.

They each took a door and tugged them open. The rusty hinges seemed to beg us not to enter as they squeaked. They were heavy doors and they scraped a layer of dust off the ground as the two of them struggled to swing them all the way open. Inside the doors was a long hallway with a chipped tile floor.

Raul asked what this place was, seemingly in awe at the discovery. Nobody answered. Instead we quietly made our way inside. Kristen fell behind with me. I whispered to her, asking if she thought this is what ghost hunters feel like. It definitely had the vibe of some old, haunted school… or psych ward, maybe. The first few doors we came to in the hallway appeared to be some sort of offices. Each of them had a desk, although in one of them the desk was split in half. Most of the desks were adorned with a typewriter, ashtray, and a golden lamp with a green shade, all covered under a few layers of cobwebs. Yellowing papers and old cigarette butts littered the floor. Some of them had windows, but metal plates were bolted over top of them, which explained why I couldn’t see in from the outside.

It was the next few rooms that made me think of an old school, though. There was a chemistry lab – it looked nearly identical to the one I’d used for my chem class at San Diego State, except a couple pieces of equipment looked like older versions of the stuff I was used to and the general state of disrepair, of course. A couple of lab coats hung on a rack by the door, and there were still some formulas written on the chalkboard, almost like everyone had left in the middle of a class.

The next lab smelled terrible. I never actually went in, but David told me it looked like someone had been experimenting on animals or something. There were a bunch of cages, but no animals were actually in them. Instead there were a few small bones and what might have been blood stains scattered around on the floor. That was enough for me to try to get everyone to leave, but now I was alone. While Kristen was grossed out too, even she was determined to find out exactly what this place used to be.

There were a few more labs. When we found beds that had restraints for wrists, ankles, and heads in a couple of them, Raul made a joke about someone being into BDSM, but I was starting to feel like the odd one out for not finding any humor in the situation. I’d seen enough. If it wasn’t for David pushing me… I agreed to keep going.

We came to another set of steel double doors – this one without the security bar. Raul was about to step through when Jemal stopped him. He pointed up and we all looked. Directly above us there was an iron grid, approximately six feet by six feet, with spikes at each joint. Jemal’s flashlight traced a cable and system of pulleys from one end of the grid to a metal box directly over the door Raul was about to push open.

David ran back to an office and returned with a typewriter. We all stood back as he tossed it at the door. Immediately, the wall of spikes swung down, impaling the one door that was still shut. We all looked at each other with wide eyes. That was some Indiana Jones shit.

Raul told us all to be careful, like he wasn’t the one that had almost gotten himself killed in the first place. We pressed on, keeping a close eye anytime we neared a door. David poked his head into another room and was like, “What the fuck?” so of course we all crowded into the office there with him. There was a skeleton slumped in a corner. A beige suit was partially visible under a lab coat that was stained blackish-brown all around the top. There was a large, jagged hole on one side of the skull and the fingers gripped a pistol. Kristen was the one who noticed the message scrawled in black marker on the opposite wall.

“It’s not them” is all it said.

I was more insistent about leaving this time and David finally relented. He stood up from studying the skeleton and turned to leave when Jemal started reading from a small leatherbound notebook that had been on the desk. I didn’t think it made any sense, and whoever wrote it kept jumping around from one thing to another. It said that the bodies weren’t hanging. Something about a maze being all wrong, that it was like a different world or universe or something and the rules didn’t apply. Then how something was more quiet than it should have been except when it talked, or if it was too late to matter.

David told Jemal to take the notebook so we could read it around the campfire so he put it in his backpack, then quickly scooped the gun up off the floor and packed that away as well. When we got out of that room, David looked around and asked where Raul went. I was confused because he had just been right behind me, but I spun around myself and found that he wasn’t anywhere in sight. Kristen started calling out for him, but aside from her own echo there wasn’t an answer. David shook his head, saying that the bastard must have wandered off. Kristen and I exchanged worried glances but followed David as we turned another corner deeper into the building.

There was only one door ahead. David turned back to us, grinning as he pointed at a sign on the door that was clearly missing letters – only an M and an A remained. He said now he knew where Raul went.

“He saw this room was rated MA and was hoping to see some boobies.”

Kristen and I both groaned at the terrible, middle school maturity dad joke. He turned back to the door and, after closely examining around it for any apparent traps, slowly turned the doorknob. There was a loud click, then a rumble and a clatter on the other side of the door. We all backed up and Kristen once again shouted Raul’s name. There was no reply and after a moment the racket stopped and things were once again silent.

David cautiously stepped forward and tried the door again. It swung open towards us and I immediately grabbed David’s arm. Directly on the other side of the door was a gaping square hole in the ground. He stepped back and shone his flashlight into the hole. Neither of us could see the bottom. My heart was pounding but he just smiled at me and said that was a close one. I turned back to Kristen and Jemal to calm down but my pulse only sped up as I realized Kristen wasn’t there. We ran back around the corner and called out for her, but she was nowhere to be found.

David glanced back at the room with the hole in the ground but I quickly pointed out that we know Kristen wasn’t that way because she was behind us the whole time, and Raul wasn’t in that room because he would have set off the booby trap. He agreed and the three of us stood there for a moment, lost. That’s when we heard Raul calling out, “Guys? Hello? Where are you?”

We all turned. His voice had been coming from the room passed the hole. David called after him, “Raul! Come over here!”

There was silence for a minute, then Raul shouted back that he was hurt and needed help. Jemal muttered to himself about how of course Raul hurt himself. One by one, we jumped over the hole and entered the room. As I walked in I realized that this was more than a room. I pointed my flashlight around and found that, while the walls for the next few yards were narrow, I couldn’t see the ceiling, which surprised me. The building had looked big from the outside, but not that big.

We carefully proceeded, looking for any buttons, tripwires, or giant boulders ready to roll and crush us because who knows what the hell to expect in a place like that. The walls were replaced with railing and the floor turned into a metal grate platform. On the end of the platform was a ladder leading down. I looked around us, trying to see beyond the railing, but I couldn’t find any walls around. In fact, even though I had a pretty powerful flashlight, it felt like it was only shining a few feet in front of me.

Before we climbed down the ladder, I yelled out for Raul again, then called for Kristen. There was no response. Not even an echo. David was already climbing down. I looked at Jemal and he tried to give me a reassuring look but it was pretty easy to tell he was just as terrified as me. I heard David yelp and ran to the edge, asking if he was okay. It was all quiet for a sec and I couldn’t even see him below us, then I heard him yell back that he was fine and we should get down there. It was the last thing in the world I wanted to do, but I climbed down the ladder, Jemal immediately following me.

We got to the bottom, stepping on the cement floor. David was nowhere to be seen. I called out for him. It sounded like he was a ways away when he responded and told us to hurry up, he found something. Jemal and I ran towards his voice, unable to see him in the darkness and our flashlights doing little to make it easier. I yelled back, asking where he was and what he found. He just said to come quick. Why wouldn’t he just tell us? We came up to a wall that rose up about ten feet with only one gap to pass through. It reminded me of the entrance to a corn maze. Only pausing for a moment, we entered to find it was a maze, but we continued running.

I suddenly felt myself falling face first as I tripped over something on the ground. I broke my fall at the last second and heard a crunch, followed by Jemal crying out behind me. I rolled over and saw a thin wire pulled around my shoe and beyond that a series of jagged metal rods protruding out of the wall that hadn’t been there a second ago. One of them had gone completely through Jemal’s calf. The rod was connected from one wall to the other with his leg pinned in mid air.

I rose to my knees and tried to move the rod back into the wall but it wouldn’t budge. I was so amped up I didn’t even realize the jagged edges of the rod cut into my palms when I grabbed it. Jemal looked at me, teeth clenched in pain. He told me to just leave him there. I looked around desperately trying to figure something out. I screamed for David, for Kristen, for Raul, for anyone who could hear me to come and help us. The dark seemed to eat my words. I heard David, now even further away, telling me I had to hurry. I was on the verge of tears when Jemal reached out and grabbed my arm and told me to hurry up and go get David, he had a knife that might be able to help us.

I stopped and looked at him. I suddenly remembered – Jemal had a gun in his backpack from the dead guy! Careful not to move him too much, I reached into his bag and pulled out the pistol. I had never shot a gun before and I wasn’t even sure it would work. Jemal looked at me with fear in his eyes, asking what I was going to do. I got on the ground and pointed it at the other side of the rod. I closed my eyes as I squeezed the trigger. I couldn’t help it.

Jemal screamed and I jerked my eyes open. The bullet had broken through the rod, but the force also pushed it backwards, the jagged edge slicing through Jemal’s calf. Free of the metal, he fell to the ground. I looked at the bloodied flesh, panicking. Raul had been the one carrying our primary first aid kit; all I had was some aspirin. I dug through my backpack and pulled out a spare shirt to tie around his leg, creating an improvised tourniquet.

Jemal told me to go again. I knew I couldn’t leave him there, though. Something had been picking us off, one by one. We had to stick together. Ignoring his protests, I pulled him up and slung his arm over my shoulder, forcing him to walk with me.

I couldn’t help but wonder aloud who the hell was doing this to us and why. As we hobbled, Jemal eventually responded between grunts. The traps weren’t intended for us. Everything – from the traps to the windows to the door to the fence – wasn’t set up to keep us out. It was all designed to keep something in.

It wasn’t long before we came to another opening. Ropes hung from wherever the ceiling was and disappeared under a wide pile of clothes that covered the entire floor as far as I could see with my flashlight. There was probably about a solid foot or two of messily stacked clothing. I noticed resting atop the pile was a gray shirt, torn. It was Raul’s! He had to be nearby! I yelled out for him. It took a few seconds, but he answered! I nearly melted with relief. We weren’t alone.

I started searching for him with my flashlight while I asked him where he was. I froze as I pointed the light up. The ropes weren’t attached to the ceiling at all. Each rope rose twenty feet in the air and ended in a noose. Dozens of naked bodies hung upside down, hovering above us in the darkness, tethered to the ground by the ropes that were tied around their necks. They were all pale, seemingly drained of blood and glowing in the light against the endless black. My light had just fallen on the body of Raul when I heard his voice off to my right, telling us he was just a little further and to hurry up.

I dropped my flashlight and covered my mouth to stifle a scream. As soon as the flashlight hit the floor, I heard something shuffling in the distance – from roughly the same area I had just heard my dead friend’s voice. Tears streamed from my eyes as I saw David’s clothes in the beam of the flashlight. I looked at Jemal and whispered that we had to run. He slowly nodded, his wide eyes matching my own. We turned and tried to run back the way we came, but we were barely moving at a brisk walking pace with his now useless leg.

I was already on the ground when I realized that my body had just been spun around like a ragdoll and tossed aside. Jemal was gone. Something had jerked him away from me so fast and with such force that I was now dizzy and on the ground with the wind knocked out of me. I was alone.

Taking time I knew I didn’t have to recover, I unsteadily rose to my feet and staggered forward. I slowly regained my breath and my balance and was able to run again. I ran blindly, knowing that between the traps, the maze, and whatever the fuck was behind me I had no chance, but I had to run. I heard a sound that I didn’t realize until later was flesh being torn apart. Jemal’s death was buying me time.

I finally made it out of the maze and ran in the direction I hoped was the ladder. I had left my flashlight behind and couldn’t see anything in front of my face. I reached out into the blank space before me, praying my hands would make contact with the metal rungs. Behind me, I heard something skittering across the cement floor. It sounded like something with a dozen legs was running at me.

I felt cold aluminum hit my bloodied palm and used my momentum to thrust myself up the ladder, skipping the first few rungs. It was getting closer behind me. I made it over the ladder and ran as fast as I could. I remembered there was a hole somewhere ahead of me, but I couldn’t see it. I leaped with every stride, praying that luck would save me. A doorknob caught my hip, instantly bruising it. I didn’t care, though. That meant I had just passed the door and made it over the hole.

I put a hand against the wall as I ran so I could feel when to turn. I rounded the corner, my own heartbeat deafening in my ears. I kept my hand against the wall. If I wasn’t careful at the next doorway, I would impale myself on iron spikes. I didn’t slow down though. I could still hear it. It had jumped over the hole, too.

I made it through the doorway, feeling my way around the trap and continued running again. Although it sounded like the feet were a dozen yards back, I felt hot breath huffing on my neck. I could see a crack of dusk light ahead. I was almost there. I didn’t dare look behind me. I didn’t want to see it.

I made it to the doors. I grabbed one and yanked at it, trying to close it. I heard the thing slow down – it was at the spikes. I put all my weight against the door. It moved, but so slowly. I screamed in frustration but kept moving it. Inch by inch, it swung shut as blood smeared from my hands across the metal. The thing from inside was past the spikes now and had resumed at an inhuman pace.

I grabbed the other door, crying and screaming as I fought the decades of rust to close it. It skittered with all of its feet, halfway to me already. I shut the door. With strength I didn’t even have, I somehow lifted the four by four and put it into the brackets, just as the doors pounded against it. I fell backwards as it rammed the doors again. I backed away, then got up and ran out as it continued pounding. It was only a matter of time. I ran through the grass and slammed into the fence, dropping to my knees to try to crawl under it. It caught the leg of my pants – just as I heard the sound of wood splintering. I yanked at my jeans, willing them to tear loose of the chain link fence. More wood cracked.

I undid my fly and jerked my pants off, then I ran and I didn’t stop running.

This poor girl went through hell, but I can’t help but wonder what she discovered in the process. I may never find out, though. A search and rescue team went looking in the rough area she had been but found no evidence of the building she described. What’s even more concerning is the fact that a piece of wood was all that stood between whatever was within the belly of that structure and the rest of the world. Who knows how long that will last – if it even lasted at all.

My advice: enjoy nature when you get the chance, but if you run into a sign that says “No Trespassing”… heed the warnings.

Thank you for listening.

A House on the Corner – Season 3 Episode 10

See Content Warnings
General horror, grief, discussion of death, gore, language
Need to skip this episode? Click here to see the plot.
Brianne tracks down friends and family of people whose names are in the medical files she has. Most of them are dead, and one of them had predicted that they would die in their sleep, leading Brianne to suspect there may be a psychic connection between them. She locates one person who is still alive, a real estate agent, and arranges a viewing. After some probing, the individual insists that they aren’t psychic.
They go down to the basement to discover a pyramid-shaped mirror that wasn’t there before. The man goes upstairs to make some calls and find how out it got there as Brianne approaches it. In an instant, she is inside of it, surrounded by flashing images. She sees Ben who seems unaware that he is dead, then he crumples in front of her, dead. She sees her ex from 1:06 and an imagined life that they could have had if he hadn’t died in a car accident. Then she hears the Licker.
She bangs on the surface to try to escape and sees into the basement where her body stares blankly back at her.
She gets the call from Jeremy, continued from [1:06]. Something Jeremy says reminds her of what the man said to her, which makes her realize there is a figure in the room with her helpless body. As she mentally calls for help, the man rushes in and dives into the figure, both of them disappearing along with the object as she is snapped back into her body.
As she leaves, she gets an email from the person on her phone, explaining that he was psychic, after all.

Welcome back to The Storage Papers. This week’s episode is actually an update from Brianne. She’d told me part of this already, but she recently emailed me the whole story. You may recall at the end of the episode [1:06] there was a part of a phone call between us. There was a little more to that call that wasn’t especially relevant to the episode and I wanted more details before I even considered sharing it. Now that I have the full story, I won’t keep you waiting anymore. This is the story of a house on the corner, as told by Brianne Scanlon.

Jeremy, I wanted to give you an update on some things. While I’ve been looking into those medical files, I’ve found a couple of links. I’ve talked to different family and friends of the patients and at least two of the patients seem to be psychic, or at least possess some sort of psychic abilities. The other thing that a lot more of them have in common… they’re dead. And by “a lot more” I mean most, hence the reason it was family and friends I talked to instead of the patients themselves.

I honestly didn’t think to ask about any psychic connection at first. I was probably thirty or so files deep when I got a hold of one of their sisters. The funeral had just happened a week before I called… which sucked. But then Jenny (the patient’s sister) laughed, but in a bitter way, and said, “You know he predicted this. For the past month he’s been saying that he’s going to die in his sleep.”

As you would imagine, that caught my attention… especially given the dreams I’ve been having. It turns out that he had always been that way – usually with smaller things, but often enough that people who were closer to him all seemed to understand and accept that he sometimes just knew things. That’s when I started adding that to my ever growing list of questions and, sure enough, the very next person I spoke with confirmed that their wife had a psychic streak, too.

I thought about circling back to those I’d been able to contact already, but that’s when I realized the next person on the list was not only alive, but worked as a real estate agent in the Hillcrest area which is not only in San Diego but really isn’t that far away. I thought I’d try to get with them face to face but didn’t want to just show up out of the blue… I think we’re still a little ways off from random visits being a thing. Anyways, I found one of his listings and booked an appointment for one of my days off. He sent me a walk-through video, advising me to watch and see if I had any questions and basically asked if I was serious enough to meet in person. I told him I’d like to meet.

I tried to do some digging on him beforehand, but outside of realty websites, he didn’t have much of an online presence. He wasn’t even on Facebook or LinkedIn, as far as I could tell. So when I pulled up to the house, I was actually feeling kind of nervous. I didn’t know the first thing about the guy other than his job and some stuff in his medical files. None of it told me what type of person he was.

I opened my car door, put on my mask, then squirted some sanitizer onto my hands as I stood up. The guy could be a serial killer for all I knew, but at least I wouldn’t be spreading anything if I could help it. I started to walk towards the door when I saw someone getting out of a car on the other side of the street, then hustling towards me.

“Brianne?” he asked. Although some things are harder to tell when everyone is masked up, I’d probably peg him in his early fifties and he looked to be in better shape than many over the past year.

I nodded, then confirmed his name. Because I know this will probably go on your podcast, I’ll call him John or Mister Doe, if you want. Pleasantries aside, he walked past me and unlocked the door before stepping inside several feet then beckoning me to follow. I nudged the door shut behind me and took in the place while he opened the windows and I gathered my thoughts. There was no way I’d ever be able to afford that type of house. Still, I allowed him to lead me around – at a distance – and point out different features, not a one of which I could tell you about. I’m fine in my little apartment, although I’m pretty sure my security deposit is toast now.

At some point, he finally stopped and turned to me, asking what my thoughts were so far. In response, I put forward the most clever transition that I could come up with on the fly.

“It’s a really nice place. Although I’m kind of picking up a weird vibe here. I don’t know, maybe it’s just ‘cause I don’t really get out much – I mean, I guess none of us really do lately – but… there’s just like, an energy or something, I think. Do you feel that?”

He looked at me blankly for a moment, before offering a small chuckle. “Sorry, I can’t say I’m too familiar with that.”

“Really?” I asked. “You never get feelings about stuff and can’t quite figure out why?”

He shrugged and a smile creased his eyes. “Sorry to disappoint. But I can assure you, there’s no cause for any heebie jeebies here.”

If I’m being completely honest, I was fully expecting him to launch into a tirade about how he was psychic or something. I pressed him. “I think it’s just like, tapping into things that are set in stone. I feel like everyone does it to some degree, don’t you?”

He shifted his weight from one foot to the other and I didn’t need to see the lower half of his face to tell he was uncomfortable. There was a flicker of something in his eyes, just for a split second, then it was gone before I could figure out what that was.

“Brianne, if I’m being honest, I don’t really think there are things set in stone. I think sometimes everything is just one big accident. One accident leads to the next, then, before you know it, nine years have gone by, you find yourself looking in the mirror, and only god knows what is creeping up on you.”

With that admission, I realized that I had wasted his time and I was back to square one. I had just felt it in my gut that there would be some sort of psychic connection between all of the files.

He chuckled again. “Sorry, didn’t mean to get all morbidly existential there. Last thing left to see is the basement, and I think you’re really going to like what you see.”

I offered him a smile that, in retrospect, he probably didn’t notice because I doubt it reached my eyes. “No worries, I’m the one who brought it up after all. Lead on,” I said. 

Lead on he did, right down to the basement. It was reasonably lit, which was definitely a good thing. I’d kind of gotten a feel for him so I was more or less at ease, but basements are always a gamble. A cinderblock wall stood opposite some wooden shelving that stretched past the stairs. An empty workbench sat on the far side of the basement. None of that was the focus of the room though. Side by side, he and I paused as we took in the most unusual sight.

Dead center in the middle of the room stood… I’m not sure what to call it. It was three sided and came to a point, so I guess like a pyramid? It was probably about eight feet tall and around three feet wide at the base. It looked like some kind of glass or maybe metal, I don’t know. But it was a nearly perfect mirror. I started walking towards it, unable to take my eyes off of it. I asked him what it was.

“I’ve never seen that before,” he answered from behind me.

“You haven’t been down here?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “I have. I’m the one who recorded the walk-through you watched. If you remember, it wasn’t there then and this is the first time I’ve seen it.”

It probably wasn’t the best time to admit I hadn’t actually watched more than the first twenty seconds of the walk-through video he had sent me. I glanced back at him. “How did it get here?”

“That… is an excellent question and one I’m not too happy that I don’t have the answer, to be honest.”

He stepped past me, leaned in close to the surface for a moment, then suddenly stood straight up and looked around. He almost looked confused.

“I, uh… I need to make a few phone calls. Take a look around and… be careful.”

Before I could ask what he meant by that last remark, he briskly walked past me and headed up the stairs, taking two at a time. I watched his reflection disappear through the doorway at the top of the staircase. I walked in a circle around it. Each side was perfectly clean, not a dust speck or fingerprint smudge to be found. The angle of the mirrored surface kept the floor out of sight and gave me the uncomfortable sensation that I was standing on the precipice of something as a result.

As I stared into it, I couldn’t help but feel like something was just out of reach of my mind, a memory of some kind. Trying to recall it felt something like flicking an empty lighter: all spark, no flame. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

The lights flickered and I jumped. Looking around, my surroundings were completely different. The first thing I noticed was that to my right and my left were flashes. Pictures, stretching from floor to ceiling, that appeared for less than a second, then disappeared. Some I recognized. Places I’d been. People I knew.

I turned around to find myself staring back at me. The me that was in front of me now was standing in the middle of the basement, motionless. I turned back to the flashing images. Between the constantly changing scenes and the accompanying sound it was extremely disorienting to look at, but I found that if I focused, the images would slow down, then begin to move. It wasn’t easy. I saw flashes of doctors I didn’t know and clinical settings I wasn’t familiar with mixed with the hospital I work at. I saw my apartment and I saw a home I lived in as a child. I saw my old car. I saw Malcom. I saw you, Jeremy. Then I saw him, and that’s when I was finally able to focus enough to stop the stream of pictures.

I didn’t say anything at first. I was too busy crying. He just smiled back at me.

“Ben?” I finally asked.

“Hey, Bri,” he said. Then he stepped forward, out of the image. I immediately grabbed him and wrapped my arms around him. It felt so good to have him hold me in return. We never hugged enough.

I don’t know how long we stood there, me crying like an idiot, but he finally spoke up. “So, how’s life?”

I punched him for that and ignored his feigned confusion. “I don’t understand, how are you here?”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

I wiped my eyes. “I mean like, is this some sort of bridge from the afterlife or what?”

“Bri, I don’t-”

He stopped mid-sentence as his eyes went blank, and his pale form crumpled to the ground. I couldn’t help but scream as his elbow split open and suddenly a bone was jutting out. The worst part was his face, though. That fucking grin.

A bright flash appeared and he was gone, replaced by darkness. Twinkling lights appeared and I realized it was night. I looked down to see I was standing in grass. Beside me was a blanket and two bottles of wine, one empty. Seemingly from nowhere, a giggling couple appeared and fell onto the blanket as they began to kiss. I recognized myself immediately. The man, though… it took me a second before I realized who it was.

The last time I had seen him alive had just been another ordinary night, a quick kiss before bed, lights out… then I’m confirming that’s his body on the slab. I thought I’d eventually get numb to all the death. I mean, it stands to reason, right? Seeing him again, the way he looked at me, it just pulled open a scab I thought had scarred long ago. I was momentarily distracted by a glimmer. That’s when I realized we were wearing wedding bands. I had to close my eyes at the sudden sound of shattering glass and crunching metal, then another bright light flashed before I had time to process any of it.

This time I was left in absolute darkness. I thought I heard something to my left, like someone breathing maybe. I couldn’t see anything, though. I spun to my right as I heard a sound that instantly gripped my stomach with fear, rippling numbness down my arms and legs. It was the sound of a long trail of saliva being created. I turned to face the sound and found two orbs staring at me, unblinking. Then they jumped towards me.

The world once again flashed white and I found myself shaking as I stared at my frozen body in the basement. I stepped forward and reached a hand out. The surface between us was cold. I tried to focus all my energy to connect with myself, staring into my own eyes. I wanted out of this box. I’d had enough.

That’s when my phone rang. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t just about shit myself right then. I pulled my phone out of my pocket, the glowing screen lighting up the mystery surface in front of me. I turned back to myself as I answered.

[phone ringing]


JEREMY: Hey, Brianne, how are you doing?

BRIANNE: I… now’s not really a great time, Jeremy, so… 

JEREMY: Sorry, I’ll make this quick. This is about something I found in the papers that I read and I was wondering if you know anything about. Oh, and since I’m doing this for the podcast, I’m recording this. Is that okay?

BRIANNE: Yeah, that’s fine. What did you find?

JEREMY: It may be nothing, but… do you know any female nurses, or anyone that works at the hospital, I guess, who was seeing anyone in two thousand twelve who… used to go on long night drives? Maybe for work or something?

[a few moments of silence]

BRIANNE: You read about this in the papers?

JEREMY: Yeah. A group of forty people all had the same dream about this person.

BRIANNE: I… I think that was me. Sorry, I know I should be getting used to stuff like this, but that’s… in two thousand twelve my boyfriend went on a back country road at night. They found his body the next day.

[papers shuffle on Jeremy’s end]

JEREMY: That’s… you’re positive? Nine years ago he was in a car accident?

BRIANNE: That’s the kind of thing that sticks out in your mind. Yes, nine years… [to self] …have gone by… looking in a mirror… 

JEREMY: I didn’t catch that. What’d you say?

BRIANNE: Oh shit!

[the call ends abruptly]

Mister Doe’s words suddenly came back to me: “God only knows what’s creeping up on you.”

My eyes snapped to the basement again and I realized for the first time I wasn’t alone in there. A figure was behind me. “Figure” is the most accurate term, because it wasn’t a solid form. It shifted and weaved in multiple directions all at once, like a shadow flickering between several flames. I pounded on the surface, trying to get myself to snap out of it as it drew closer. Every muscle within me tensed as I screamed at the top of my lungs and mentally called for help. I watched helplessly as a length of darkness stretched out until it hovered over my head. My head snapped up and I was suddenly standing in the basement again, a dark figure behind me.

I didn’t have any time to gather my bearings when I heard John give a yell, then saw him diving from across the room into the figure. His body collided with it and in a blink, they vanished together and I found myself staring at an old workbench against the wall. The pyramid was gone. The only evidence that it was ever there was a triangular hole burnt into the flooring.

I ran out of the basement, left the house, and practically collapsed into my car. For a while it was all I could do to focus on my breathing. Somehow the experience from inside the pyramid – somewhere between the horrors of my past and the pain of what might have been – had been worse than when I actually lived through the tragedies themselves. Then to have John… 

My thoughts were interrupted by a chime on my phone. I pulled it out to find I had a new email. It was from John. I quickly looked up at that house on the corner, half expecting him to be standing there and it was all one big joke. The doorway was vacant, though. I looked back down and saw that he had sent it about fifteen minutes ago. My email must not have synced until just then or something. I’ve attached it here. Let me know what you think.


I’m sorry for what you just went through. I wish I could have stopped you, but no matter what path we took it seemed like it was always going to lead to the basement. I didn’t have all the details, of course. Just flashes. I’m sure you can relate. I probably should have just told you. I guess a part of me hoped I was wrong and we’d both walk away from today and I could go on living my mostly normal life. I hope my words helped you. And, most importantly, I hope you know this wasn’t your fault. I do still believe life is a series of accidents. This one in particular was just set in motion a long time ago and there’s nothing either of us could have done to prevent it. Take care of yourself… and I hope you find what you’re looking for.

There’s quite a bit to unpack in that. It sounds like Brianne may be onto something in regards to the common denominator with all of the medical files. The fact that John Doe, as she called him, knew just what to say to get her to snap out of it in time to call for help all but proves he is indeed, like at least some the others, psychic. Stay tuned as we continue searching for answers in The Storage Papers. And to John Doe… if you’re still out there somewhere… Brianne says “thank you.”

106 – Season 3 Episode 9

See Content Warnings
General horror, car crash, reference to a death, brief mention of drinking alcohol.
Need to skip this episode? Click here to see the plot.
A man receives a call in the middle of the night with instructions and drives down a long and lonely road in response. He turns on the radio and encounters a numbers station. He swerves to avoid a car stopped ahead of him and can’t make out the person who is outside of the car. He drives away and now the person is inside the car and the numbers station is emanating from the person. The man is distracted and crashes the car.
Notes from a doctor reveal that was a dream that was shared across 40 participants in a drug trial for a sleeping pill that enhanced or removed the ability to remember a dream. The trial was ended abruptly when funding was pulled and people in suits came and took all the research away.
Jeremy attempts to wake himself at various points of REM sleep to see if he can tap into a shared dream. He has a dream where the person he is dreaming as comes out of a bar and is met with an unnamed thing which recites numbers to him.
Jeremy called Brianne who confirms that the shared dream was likely of her boyfriend who had died in a car accident.

Today I’m going to be skipping my usual introduction to what I’m about to read, more or less, because I’ll have much more to say about this particular set of papers afterwards. So, with no further ado, I’ll begin.

It started with a phone call. Their exact words were unimportant, but the directive was clear. I had a long drive ahead of me. I knew my girlfriend wouldn’t want me to leave without saying goodbye, but I also knew she’d be even more upset if I woke her up at one oh six in the morning when she had to wake up in just three hours to get ready for her shift at the hospital. Instead, I left a note on the counter, letting her know I’d see her when she got home.

I closed the front door as quietly as I could and got in the car. I had a two hour long drive ahead of me and I was relishing the idea about as much as a colonoscopy. But I had to go.

I glanced into the cup holder to see I’d left my thermos in here from this morning. I checked it and, sure enough, there was still coffee in there – now completely cold. Swallowing my pride with the coffee, I felt the familiar buzz as my neurons began to fire up and ask what the occasion was. It wouldn’t last, but it had to be enough because it’s all I had and they weren’t the type to be happy if I made them wait around for me.

Any road is a long and lonely road at this time of night, but none are longer or lonelier than your generic back road under the moonless sky, the forgotten highway that they should really just let nature reclaim. Some would call it the scenic route, but to me it was an inconvenience surrounded by mountains, valleys, and the occasional patch of bushes and trees. Maybe I’m just grumpy because I only ever take these routes at night, but color me unimpressed by the vague shadowy figures that line my night journey.

The one thing that always made this trip worth it, aside from the fact that I had no choice in the matter, was the radio. Usually radio is extremely boring, but when you get in just the right spot you could pick up something…different. If you tune your dial just right…somewhere between the Christian Contemporary music on one oh two point one and the religious broadcast on one oh two point five…there it is.

[numbers station]

Those things have always fascinated me. I feel like I’m still thinking of them in my dreams sometimes. Some people count sheep…I listen to people say numbers, I guess. The really fascinating thing is these things don’t normally play on your regular radio. There had to be a pirate station out there somewhere, which makes it all the more interesting, I think.

I was so caught up with the person reciting the numbers and trying to mentally decode what I’m sure is either gibberish or a code far too advanced for something in my head…I didn’t notice the headlights behind me at first. I checked my speedometer instinctively. If it was a cop, they were being a dick by riding my ass when I’m going a mile or two under the speed limit. I had to flip my rearview mirror to keep myself from being blinded by the lights. After a minute or two the lights backed off some. I don’t know why they didn’t just pass me, but at least they got the hint that I wasn’t going to speed up on account of them. Then they turned off their headlights.

At least I thought they turned them off. Anything that lights up the road was pretty sparse, but there was a lone streetlight ahead. I kept my eyes mostly on the mirror as I passed it, but there was no sign of the vehicle behind me. I hadn’t passed a turn off anywhere so they would have either had to take an illegal u-turn or pull off to the side of the road completely. As soon as I was out of the light and I looked away for a sec, the car was once again on my bumper, barely illuminated by my tail lights.

My foot pushed down on the gas. I had no interest in these games. It was extremely difficult to see, but I was pretty sure I could make out the shape of the car getting further away. I was straining to look in the mirror so much as it seemed to flicker then disappear from view that I didn’t see the car stopped in front of me. I slammed on my brakes and cranked the wheel to avoid a collision, swerving until I was perpendicular to the road. It wasn’t until I had come to a halt with the engine idling that I realized just how loud the radio had become. I turned the volume down as I just tried to breathe.

Once my heart calmed down, I looked at the car that was now to my right. There was a figure standing in front of the car. I squinted, trying to see more detail, but the figure stood in the perfect patch of darkness between our two vehicles. He, or it, I suppose I should say, didn’t move towards me or away from me. It just stood there, motionless. I glanced at the time. It was one oh six in the morning. I’d never run into a single other vehicle on this road at this time before tonight. I didn’t like the odds that the first person I’d run into was driving recklessly, and the second person was standing still outside of their car that was stopped in the middle of the road. And both of them just happened to occur in the same night.

I looked behind me to gauge how much space I had, then, without losing sight of the figure at least in my peripheral vision, I backed up to put my car in line with the road. My headlights lit up the car in front of me…but didn’t reveal anything about the figure. It was like the figure was absorbing the light instead of reflecting it. I double checked the locks, then eased the car forward without moving my eyes from him…it.

It still made no motion towards me, and I immediately accelerated once I had passed the car. I needed to get to the end of my trip before anything else happened. I wondered if this had anything to do with why they had called me tonight. I couldn’t ignore the unease in my gut, despite all the oddities being behind me now.

At least, that’s what I thought, until I saw the absence of light form the shape of the figure ahead of me in my headlight beams. This wasn’t possible. It was standing on the side of the road, simply facing me. It almost seemed like it was flickering. I didn’t slow down.

Within a minute, the figure was once again in front of me, this time standing in the middle of the road. Instead of slowing down, I sped up as I eased into the opposite lane and flew past it. I looked in my rear-view mirror, but of course could see nothing. It was too dark out and this thing, whatever it was, seemed to be made of the darkness. I put some more pressure on the gas. My anxiety was skyrocketing. I wanted to be done with this trip already. I wanted to be back home, in bed, cuddling with my girlfriend until she left for work.

What felt like an eternity passed. I glanced at my clock. One oh six. Just a little longer and I’d be there. My eyes were wide, trying to absorb all of my surroundings, waiting for the next figure to appear ahead of me. I glanced in my rear-view mirror again and almost swerved off the road as I saw it there, in my mirror…in my backseat. It was as motionless as ever.

“Who are you?” I yelled. “What do you want?”

It didn’t appear to acknowledge me in any way. It just sat there. There were no facial features. No eyes, no mouth, nothing. There was static on the radio for a moment, then it sounded like one of my car’s speakers cut out. That’s when I realized the radio station wasn’t coming from my speakers. It was coming from…it. The figure. Without moving at all, the numbers were emanating from this void of a person in my backseat. The voice had not changed at all. It was the exact same broadcast as it had been when my car’s radio had been playing it.

Then it leaned forward and, instead of numbers, it said two words.

“Watch out.”

I looked again at the rear-view mirror and it was gone. I looked back at the road and it was in front of me, running directly at me. This time I wasn’t able to keep the car on the road. Glass shattered and metal crunched as a tree brought me to an abrupt stop. Everything faded away except for the distant sound of my car horn stuck on…and the radio.

I know I had more to say, but just before I get to that there’s one other paper to read for you. This one states at the top that it’s the personal notes from Doctor James Baker and dated September fifteenth of twenty twelve. It begins:

I don’t know if it’s even worth continuing to write these notes with the trial and its study being in the state that it is now. All my other notes are gone already. But, for whatever it’s worth, here’s a brief overview of the most notable work I’ve ever done. A few years ago my department received funding to explore dreams and the brain’s ability to remember or forget them. The potential applications for this study are numerous, but I personally was most interested in the possibility of impact for those experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

About a year ago, we had a breakthrough. This breakthrough was somehow granted approval for human trials at a pace I didn’t think possible. Essentially, we were able to either activate or inhibit melanin concentrating hormone-producing neurons in the hypothalamus. For those not aware of what that means, we were able to either make people remember or forget their dreams completely.

We had enough funding to pay one hundred twenty participants. More than I liked were just college students, but we had a pretty good variety of subjects from all different backgrounds. We split the participants into three equal groups. For a four week period, we didn’t give them anything in order to establish a baseline. Starting with Week Five, Group A took a pill meant to stimulate the neurons, Group B took a pill meant to inhibit the neurons, and Group C took a sugar pill.

Over a six month period, we monitored each group’s sleep and would wake them up at a set interval each week after they had entered REM sleep, the part of sleep where we dream. They would then recite the dream they had to the best of their ability. The results were better than we had hoped.

It didn’t happen immediately, but by the end of Week Six, every single participant in Group A was able to vividly recall their dream at any point that we woke them up. Group B couldn’t remember a single thing, and Group C had similar results to the initial four week period, with a slightly increased proclivity to remembering more details, but nothing that can’t be explained by the placebo effect.

Week Thirteen is when we started to get…unusual results. We had selected that week to wake up all the subjects just one minute and six seconds into REM sleep. It wasn’t until we compared notes at the end of the day that our suspicions were confirmed. All forty subjects in Group A had the exact same dream.

There was no common denominators that we could determine amongst the individuals themselves other than all being local to the San Diego area, but even in that they didn’t all grow up here, so I don’t think that had anything to do with it. And yet, despite their own age, gender, sexual preference, job, living situation… anything like that… they all dreamed that they were in a relationship with a woman who works at a hospital, going for a drive at one oh six a.m. due to a vague phone call. They all listened to the same radio station. They all encountered this figure. They all seemed to lose consciousness within their dreams as a result of a car accident. Every last one of them was exactly the same, down to the smallest detail of drinking day old coffee.

This kept up for five days. The next two days, we woke them up one minute and six seconds in, just as before, but all the dreams were different again. I don’t know who was more relieved, the people in Group A or the staff recording the dreams. It was a creepy dream, after all.

Even though it was all confidential, people talk. To their spouse, their close friend, to coworkers… even to strangers on the internet. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but somebody had to have leaked what happened.

Halfway into Week Fourteen, our funding was pulled abruptly. A few hours later, I kid you not, two men and one woman, all in gray suits, came in and began collecting everything. All the documentation, the pills, the formulas… everything was placed into boxes and carted away. I still had a photocopy of one the dream they all had in my pocket – I had been reading it over and over in what little spare time I had. If not for that, I wouldn’t have anything. They even searched my home to make sure there was nothing from the study or subsequent trials there. They offered no explanation.

Years of my life were taken away from me, and now there’s no hope of understanding what happened in Week Thirteen. So now I have this personal note, which doesn’t even really serve as evidence since it’s all from memory now. Science eventually will answer every question, of this I’m certain. But what do we do when science is stolen from us? I can only hope that whoever stole my work, my life… I hope that they will at least put it to good use. For science.

I read these papers for the first time about six weeks ago now. It bothered me quite a bit. Who is to say that I haven’t had that same dream and it had just gotten lost thanks to the neurons in my… hypothalamus. How do any of us know we haven’t had that dream? And if we have… what other dreams have gone unremembered, and how many have we all shared?

So, six weeks ago, I bought a watch that monitors my pulse and connected it to an app that monitors my sleep. It’s not an exact science and honestly my sleep has been terrible lately which doesn’t help matters, but I’ve been able to have it wake me at varying times after I’ve entered REM sleep. Last week I think I hit on something. The next day I set it to wake me at the same time, eight minutes and thirty-two seconds, and I definitely dreamt the same dream twice. The third day it changed. Whether that was due to the lack of proper tools I had available to me or whether the time changed for the dream, I’m not sure.

Now, I don’t have all the same memory enhancements that were available for the drug trial so I really don’t have much, but I was able to write some things down to the best of my memory.

I just walked out of a bar. I felt relieved. I had finally gotten things off my chest. I knew there was a chance I wasn’t going to come out of that meeting entirely sober, which is why I had arranged for the meeting to be walking distance from my place. I was on San Diego Avenue when I saw it. It wasn’t the first time I’d encountered it and I knew it wouldn’t be the last time. No other pedestrians seemed to notice it. I glanced at my wristwatch. Eight thirty-two.

I stopped walking. Although it was about a block away, the figure sounded as though it was talking right behind me. Just as it always did, it began reciting numbers. It did this for what felt like several minutes, but when I looked at my watch again it was still eight thirty-two. When I looked back up, it was just inches away from me. And then everything was black.

I wish I could remember what the numbers were that the figure was saying, but I just don’t think it’s possible. I don’t think I’m supposed to. But this seems like it confirms my suspicions. I think that there are dreams that we all share. They seem to revolve around this dark figure and numbers. I don’t know what it all means, and I’m even further away from figuring out how it’s possible in the first place, but at least it’s a start. I’ll continue to try this and if any listeners are able to, please send me any dreams that involve the dark figure and how far into REM sleep you were when you woke up. Maybe with enough of us involved in this, we can find out why this is happening.

With these dreams being so heavy on my mind, I had another thought as well. On a hunch, I called Brianne.

BRIANNE:    Hello?

JEREMY:    Hey, Brianne, how are you doing?

BRIANNE:    I… now’s not really a great time, Jeremy, so…

JEREMY:    Sorry, I’ll make this quick. This is about something I found in the papers that I read and I was wondering if you know anything about. Oh, and since I’m doing this for the podcast, I’m recording this. Is that okay?

BRIANNE:    Yeah, that’s fine. What did you find?

JEREMY:    It may be nothing, but… do you know any female nurses, or anyone that works at the hospital, I guess, who was seeing anyone in two thousand twelve who… used to go on long night drives? Maybe for work or something?

BRIANNE:    You read about this in the papers?

JEREMY:    Yeah. A group of forty people all had the same dream about this person.

BRIANNE:    I… I think that was me. Sorry, I know I should be getting used to stuff like this, but that’s… in two thousand twelve my boyfriend went on a back country road at night. They found his body the next day.

Thanks for listening. I’ll explore another paper next time.

The Backwards Man – Season 3 Episode 8

See Content Warnings
General horror, gore, violence, murder.
Need to skip this episode? Click here to see the plot.
Jeremy notes that many of the current type of documents he’s been reading have a symbol on them: a seven-digit hand with an eye in the center of the palm. He read a series of documents in chronological order regarding a medical trial sponsored by SCIC. A participant may be remote-viewing a murder in her REM sleep, but in reverse. A newspaper clipping which quotes Detective Mark Anderson appears to confirm this.

This week’s episode comes from a few documents which were grouped together in a single folder within the papers.  As I mentioned previously, I’ve been able to create some level of organization but it’s still quite a work in progress.  All of these documents had a peculiar symbol on them.  That of a seven-fingered hand with an eye in the palm.  I’m still waiting for someone I know to get back to me regarding the possible symbolism of this depiction, but my curiosity has definitely piqued.  

The first of these documents appears to be notes about some research by a pharmaceutical company.  Most of the pertinent information like the scientists involved, the company name, and the author of the paper have been redacted.  It almost reads as if someone were drafting an email to an employer.  As far as I can tell, it involves a status report from some clinical trials, but it’s so hard to tell without access to the redacted portions.  Two additional things I’d like to note before reading it to you.  Because of the large amount of redactions, I am going to paraphrase to the best of my ability in some areas.  Also, there seems to be a sequential order to how these documents were stored.  This specific document was on top, and I’m going through them in chronological order. This first document reads:

Initial trials of the compound [REDACTED] indicate only a twelve percent efficacy rate in the volunteers in the general public, however, in sub-group [REDACTED], there was an astounding ninety-eight percent efficacy rate.  These initial results are composed through a series of data points collected at thirty days following intramuscular administration.  So far, adverse effects have been significantly insignificant compared to the placebo groups, and we’ve no reason to suspect any risk of anaphylaxis or neurologic regression of any kind when compared to [REDACTED] or its predecessor.  

While we are recommending the cessation of trials of [REDACTED] for the general population for the treatment of chronic migraines, our sponsor for the trials, SCIC, has requested further testing be done for sub-group (redacted).  Because conditional funding for our trials did not include specific information about that sub-group’s population, we have no choice but to hand all research over to SCIC if trials for that sub-group are to continue as they have deemed the identity of the patients in that sub-group as classified, requiring a government clearance higher than my own to view.  It is only by patent ownership that I suspect I’m even being consulted on the matter, but I suspect the project to be defunded entirely if I don’t agree to their conditions.  I have a meeting with them tomorrow morning to discuss.

The second document appears to be a letter of resignation, and it reads:

Dear Doctor [REDACTED],

I just wanted to express my gratitude for these last two years of experience I’ve gained through my employment with you.  I would not be at this junction in my career without your help, and you’ll never fully know how grateful I am for your belief in me.

It is with great disappointment that I must offer you my letter of resignation, effective immediately.  It’s unlike me to do so without notice, but I have received an offer to continue to pursue my research into the compound [REDACTED] with an increased level of security clearance and the tools at my disposal to truly make a difference.  

Thank you for the opportunities you have provided me, and for always encouraging me to follow the science, no matter where that may lead.  



The third document appears to be notes of some kind relating to this mystery drug.  It reads as follows:

Subject [REDACTED] has responded similarly to others in her sub-group until this morning.  While we send our team to follow up with investigatory efforts, we are placing her into a quarantine until we can gather more information.  After much discussion, we have agreed to continue the monthly administration of compound [REDACTED], as she is due for her next dose in two days, while she will likely still be in a quarantine environment.

In addition, we are providing her with resources while quarantined from the rest of her sub-group, to be able to communicate with them remotely.  We want to provide as much inclusion as possible outside of physical presence until we can positively confirm the events described in her most recent session (see clinical notes for details).  Until that point, I will increase our sessions to three times a day for the time being to monitor for any more potential events, and in order to follow up for confirmation of their outcomes.  

The next document appears to be clinical notes taken on a female patient, presumably the patient that is referred to in the previous document.  It says:

11:06 a.m.
Doctor [REDACTED] dictating clinical notes from session with Miss [REDACTED] July first, [REDACTED].  Miss [REDACTED] informed me that she believes her dreams have changed to a somewhat vivid state, only in reverse order.  In fact, she believes she only dreams in reverse order after administration of the compound began, and that within the two to three days following each of her monthly administration injections, she has become convinced that she is actually witnessing through some sort of REM-state of remote viewing, the actual deaths of people “as if watching a movie being rewound.”  

A complete physical workup was performed, showing no signs of psychosis or recreational drug use.  All results indicate she believes she’s telling us the truth about these events.  She is referring to the suspect in her dreams as “the Backwards Man,” due to the nature in which she observes the murder being carried out.  For example, I’m quoting a transcription of her session today below describing one of these dreams.

“It happened just like the last time.  The beginning of my dream is like a still picture.  I’m looking at someone’s bedroom.  There’s a shattered window and a headless body lying in a pool of blood on the bed, with arms out to the sides.  There’s trees outside the window, which I only notice because the branches cast shadows on the bed and the body on top of it.  Then off to the right, I see an inhuman looking being walking backwards toward the bed from the doorway, then it turns to face the body and stares down at it.  It looks just like if you were to rewind a movie.  Everything is happening backwards.  

“The man looks like he’s breathing really rapidly, and then it’s like it goes in slow motion.  I see something moving outside of the window that draws my attention, and it’s coming toward the shattered glass.  As it reaches the hole in the glass, shards that were scattered all over are attracted toward it, and as the object reaches the spot where the window is, the glass combines to form an unbroken window.  The object, which I now recognize as a human head, is still traveling through the air, spinning, and I can see a facial expression of sheer terror.  

“As the head approaches the backwards man, the body that’s lying on the bed looks like it soaks up all the blood from the sheets into its neck and begins to stand up.  As it does, the blood splatters on the wall and bed jump off and start traveling through the air toward the body and the backwards man.  Eventually I realize that the spinning head, the body, and the blood are all traveling to a point of origin.  It’s almost beautiful to watch as the spinning head gets closer to the erecting body, you can tell that it’s going to stop spinning as soon as it meets the neck from the body, and all of the blood will meet at their point of union.  As I watch this unfold, the backwards man’s right hand swipes in a reverse roundhouse swing, and begins walking backward toward the wall.  I think to myself, ‘how could someone decapitate another person with a swing of their arm‘ and it’s then I notice that his arm isn’t necessarily a regular human arm.  It has long, sharp claws at the end that retract a few inches as he reaches the wall behind him.  

“The backwards man then does something impossible.  He places a foot on the wall, and then his other foot behind that one, and proceeds to walk backwards, up the wall.  I notice the man that was on the bed, now with his head fully attached, loses the expression of terror from his face and turns around with his back toward the man… or the thing… walking on the wall.  The man on the ground begins walking backwards toward the bedroom door, as the thing on the wall shrivels into a dark shadowy-looking creature on all fours synchronously until it meets the ceiling at the very same moment the man on the ground passes through the doorway to the bedroom.  Then as if it disappeared into thin air, the shadow shrinks and fades away.  

“I know it sounds like I’m crazy, Doctor [REDACTED], but I think this actually happened.”

The next document appears to be another clinical note from the same patient.  It reads:

9:34 a.m.
Doctor [REDACTED] dictating clinical notes from session with Miss [REDACTED] July second.  Miss [REDACTED] maintains she has not had another dream like the one from the previous night, however, she has admitted to forcing herself to stay awake after consuming strongly-brewed coffee all night.  She fears these dreams she continues to have for more prolonged periods after each intramuscular injection of compound [REDACTED].  

I believe it is for the benefit of the patient to avoid divulging our investigatory findings involving the incident we learned about in Escondido, as I fear it will only induce more serious symptoms, as well as skew the results of our clinical trials.  

There are a few notes I’d like to consider for this week’s meeting with the board of directors involving the ethical standpoint SCIC would like to take in moving forward with this trial:

  1. At what point are the psychological effects of the subjects going to determine the continued research into the compound, if at all.
  2. At what point are we to consider potential risk to the public if results continue to scale as we predict based on incidents like that of Miss [REDACTED] as models predict.

The final document included with this grouping still has the seven-fingered hand with the eye in the palm, but someone took the time to draw it on the document in the top corner of the page, as opposed to the others which had what appeared to be a water-mark on it.  Note to self: ask Ron if he drew the symbol, or if it was like that when he came into possession of the document.  It’s a newspaper clipping, and unfortunately, there’s no date on it.  It’s just a couple of short columns that have been cut from the paper with scissors.  It reads as follows.

An Escondido man, white, forty-three years old was found dead in his home Sunday morning after a neighbor coming home from church noticed a side window had been broken when pulling into his garage.  Jorge Padilla gave the following statement to Police:

“We were coming back from church and I saw the window was broken to the neighbor’s bedroom, so I walked over and knocked on the door.  When nobody answered, that’s when I knew something wasn’t right.  I tried calling the house and nobody picked up the phone, so I walked around to the side of the house, and that’s where I found his head in the bushes outside his window.  I thought it was a prank at first, but then I saw inside the room, and I immediately started to cry and called nine one one.  It scares me to think someone is capable of this in my own neighborhood.  He was a nice guy.  I mean, why would someone do that to him?”

Ruiz also mentioned he and his family are heartbroken and scared.  He claimed to know the victim for over 10 years, and would often barbecue together on the weekends. Police have not released the name of the victim yet, but Detective Mark Anderson was able to provide the following comments:

“At this time we have our forensic team in the building and we’re ruling it a homicide.  We haven’t found any signs of forced entry.  All doors and windows were locked, including the broken window that the neighbor identified.  We have reason to believe that the window was broken from the inside of the residence.  We’re encouraging anyone to step forward with any information about potential suspicious activity in the neighborhood over the weekend.”

Detective Anderson refused to offer any speculation as to the cause or method of the beheading, and that he’d be waiting for the Medical Examiner’s autopsy report.

Spring Break – Season 3 Episode 7

See Content Warnings
General horror, sexual themes, profanity, alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use, blood, paralysis, a character describes someone with a stereotype rooted in racism.
Need to skip this episode? Click here to see the plot.
DeAndre Williams provided a witness statement to Ron. Over spring break he visits his younger sister for a college party. While there he finds himself attracted to a particular woman. While at first this woman appears interested in another woman, Jennifer, she shows interest in him as well. She paralyzes them both and DeAndre blacks out.
When he wakes up, Jennifer is being held to the ceiling by the woman who has transformed into a creature with a hookworm-like face and is bleeding onto him. Upon noticing he regained consciousness, it ran away. When Jeremy cross-referenced their names in the database he’s building from the papers, he found their E.R. results in the medical files from Brianne which show they had an excess amount of fibrinogen and a small amount of curare.

The more I look into the papers, the more I’ve become aware of my surroundings.  It doesn’t matter whether you live downtown in a loft overlooking the city, if you’re in the suburbs where kids are outside chasing each other around until the street lights come on, or whether you’re in a quiet, rural area where you may not run into your neighbors without intention for months.  Maybe it’s this city… I don’t know, maybe it’s everywhere and I’m just now becoming aware of it.  

I’m starting to actually be able to discern whether or not other people have seen things as well.  It’s difficult to describe with words, but they put off a sort of energy, or aura if you will.  Not necessarily a visible one, but there’s almost a distinct level of tension, and a loss of innocence you can pick up on just by proximity.  I’ve felt it for a long time, but didn’t know what exactly was causing it, or what the feeling related to, until recently.

I’ve noticed, the papers, as I read more and more of them, put off that same energy.  It’s almost like I can decipher which ones are total lies and bullshit from those that are documented truth.  Here comes the interesting part.  The part where I can’t seem to wrap my head around it.  If this palpable sensation can be tied to peoples’ experiences, is it the physical body that leaves these traces, or is it something more spiritual or supernatural?  

I selected today’s document because I had it in my hands when the thought occurred to me.  Perhaps, if this is truly something supernatural, not bound by the laws of physics in our dimension of being, can simply sharing a story with this kind of energy make others sense this feeling… this emotion… this distortion?  And if so, does this mean that we are granting it more energy or power just by recalling these events?  Or perhaps there’s another option.  Obviously not everyone believes in these kinds of things.  But the more we read about them, the more people know about them, and the more charged they become.  What if we simply think about them enough that they begin to exist?  

There’s many instances in religious texts that refer to the power of having thoughts, of speaking things, and of the relinquishing of one’s will based on the mind and motives.  This begs the question… would all of these paranormal things even exist if we stopped thinking about them?  I can tell you from first-hand experience.  Once you experience some things, there’s no forgetting them.  But who originally thought of these things?  I suppose it’s the classic chicken and the egg argument.  

For now, I suppose I’ll keep sharing them all with you, but I’m curious to see if anyone else listening gets this impression as I read the statement I’m about to.  The following is a dictation from a voice recorder that Ron used to interview the witness.  It appears that the witness hired Ron for his P.I. services because there’s an invoice in Ron’s handwriting paperclipped to the transcription. Witness statement of DeAndre Williams, Saturday, April 18, 2009:

I can’t go to the cops.  They just won’t believe me!  I told my father everything about what I saw, and he did some research to find you… said you look into these kinds of things.  I’ll start from the beginning.  I drove down here from L.A. because my little sister invited me to a Spring Break party one of her dorm mates was throwing at the Conq.  We call it the Conq because it’s full name is the Conquistador Dormitory.  

Anyways, I hadn’t heard of anything going on at UCLA since I had moved off-campus.  It wasn’t even really my type of scene anymore, but I figured I’d make sure to go and hang out with my little sis… make sure she didn’t overdo the partying so much.  I’ve always been a little protective of her.  I remember seeing her at her first high school party when she was a freshman.  I was a senior then.  I remember thinking I was going to have my hands full because even the guys in my grade were checking her out.  

Anyways, it took me about 3 hours to drive down from L.A. and when I got there, it seemed pretty casual.  The party hadn’t started yet.  On my way to Kianna’s dorm room on the 3rd floor, I passed a few open doors, and right as I was about to knock on hers, which was closed, I heard her call my name from a few doors down.  She must have seen me pass by.  

The smell of stale beer, microwavable pizza, and weed overwhelmed my senses as I greeted her with a hug.  I had once built a tolerance to that kind of atmosphere, but I was surprised at how put-off I felt by it now that I was encapsulated by it again.  She introduced me to her white roommate, Jennifer.  She was really pretty, I remember thinking.  Normally I’m not attracted to skinny white girls, but something about her, maybe the way she looked me up and down and smiled, made me think she might actually be a prospect.  I hadn’t come down here to try to hook up, but I wasn’t gonna turn down an opportunity if it presented itself, if you know what I mean.

We made the rounds while she introduced me to her floormates and her R.A., who shouldn’t have been allowing all this drinking and smoking to occur, but I got the sense that she was the type of person who probably started the whole thing.  Meanwhile, I kept making eye contact across hallways with Jennifer.  Each time we did, that smile just made me motivated.  I was definitely going to get back around to her a little later.  Since I was planning on sleeping on the floor in their dorm, I knew it was inevitable, and I tried to have a good time.  

Apparently my UCLA sweatshirt was pretty popular.  I spent some time playing beer pong with Kianna and some of her friends, occasionally glancing around for Jennifer, but I hadn’t seen her in a while.  I was nearing disappointment, and had to keep reminding myself that wasn’t the purpose for me being there.  So instead, I showed everyone a couple rule variations that us Bruins played beer pong with, and I couldn’t believe it, but I kept losing… even with my own college’s rules.  

As the night wore on, and I became a bit more buzzed, people started calming down.  Half the people on her floor took off and went to other parties.  A few of them tried to convince us to go down to TJ, but it was already after one in the morning.  I used the excuse that I was too tired from the drive, but in reality, I wanted to see if Jennifer was going to be around.  Kianna asked if I wanted to turn in or hang out a little longer, and I was good for a little while more.  We were actually in the dorm adjacent to her.  I mostly listened to her friends complain about a couple of their instructors, and about the quality of the “dirt weed” that they were smoking from a 3-foot bong.

I was honestly getting a bit bored, which caused the tiredness to really set in.  I found myself zoning out a bit, and had been facing the doorway, which was still open.  And then I saw someone that I hadn’t seen previously that night.  She was walking by the doorway in the direction of Kianna’s room.  She looked like she may have been in her late 20’s, and that she didn’t belong there.  Most of the girls here were right out of high school, first-year freshmen, but this… this was a woman.  She was about five foot eight, tan, and if I had to guess, she may have been a mix of middle-eastern and Asian, or possibly Native American.  Exotic to say the least.  Her hair was down to her waist, and it was wavy, like she could have easily been in a shampoo commercial.  Jet black hair with a few inches of the end dyed silver, leading into a purple hue.  She was beautiful.

The way she moved seemed different as well.  I mean, she was taking steps, but it was almost as if she glided in slow motion.  Right before she passed out of view from the door frame, she turned to look at me, and I got dizzy.  She had bright green eyes.  Most of the girls here were wearing blue jeans or sweatpants.  She wore tight black leather pants and a green top that left little to the imagination.  I just had to get up and look for her.  

I walked up and down the hallway looking in all of the open doorways, but couldn’t find her.  I got a little frustrated and gave up.  It was then that I remembered I had left my phone in my duffel bag in Kiana’s room.  Out of all my belongings in that bag, I didn’t want my phone to get misplaced, so I walked in on my way back to find the two women who had captivated my thoughts all night.  The older woman with the hair and the eyes was standing in front of Jennifer with her hand under her jaw.  They looked like they were about to kiss, and then Jennifer noticed me and took a step back from the woman.  

I said, “Sorry, the door was open and I just want to get my phone.”

Neither of them said anything, so I pulled my phone out of my bag and began walking toward the doorway, feeling like I was intruding. But before I could make it there fully, the door gently closed.  I turned around to look at them to see if they just witnessed what I had.  I mean, the freaking door closed by itself!  They didn’t seem phased by it, and were standing near one another again.

I said, “Hello, did you guys not see that?”

They both looked at me, and then while Jennifer was still staring at me, the woman leaned in and whispered something in her ear.  At that, both of them turned to look at me and smiled seductively before starting to kiss each other.  I wasn’t sure what the fuck was happening, but I certainly wasn’t going to excuse myself now.  After a few awkward seconds, they looked at me again, and the woman said, “DeAndre, is it?”

I hadn’t told her my name.

“Why don’t you sit down and I’ll make you a very special drink.”

She walked over to a rolling luggage bag at the foot of Jennifer’s bed, and I turned to glance at Jennifer.  While the woman’s back was turned, the seduction had all but left Jennifer’s eyes, and instead, she stood before me tense, with eyes full of terror.

I mouthed to her, “What’s wrong?”

And to my surprise, I felt a tongue licking my earlobe, then the woman said, “Nothing’s wrong, DeAndre… in fact, everything is juuust right.”

She was clear across the room a moment ago.  I didn’t know how it would have been possible for her to grab the three bottles in her arms and walk over to me without me hearing a sound.  In the moment though, rational thought had left my mind.  I was only filled with desire for this woman.  She nibbled on my earlobe just a bit and when I turned to face her, she was on the other side of the room.  Was she there still, or again?  I was confused, but entranced.  When I looked back at Jennifer, she had reacquired that sultry facial expression.

“Sit,” the woman demanded.

She was both frightening and erotic.  I just couldn’t help myself, thinking of things that would make anyone blush.  Jennifer sat next to me, both of us on chairs at the other end of the room.  The woman was making a concoction for us to drink.  She turned around with two double-shot glasses in her hands.  There was a white smoke being emitted from the liquid within, tipped with green fog.

“What’s that?” I asked her.

She calmly handed one to Jennifer, who began sipping on it, then she turned to me.  Still standing, she grabbed underneath my jaw similarly to how I saw her touching Jennifer when I first walked in.  I couldn’t be sure, but it felt like one of her fingernails grew in length while she firmly held me and pierced my skin on my neck.  She was pulling hard, nearly lifting me by my neck.

Even more sternly than before, she said, “Drink.  No discussion.”   

I took a glass in my hand and looked over at Jennifer, who had finished her drink.  She was slumped down in her chair, looking as if she was about to pass out.  The woman straddled me in my chair and gently grabbed my hand holding the drink.  She kissed me for quite a long time, and I was in ecstasy.  When our mouths separated, I instantly felt the cold rim of the glass touch my lips, and I breathed in the fog that was being emitted from it before she tipped up the glass and I swallowed.  I made eye contact with her as I drank, and her state of arousal grew as she began rocking back and forth on my lap.  Her head tilted up toward the ceiling, and just for a moment when she looked back down at me, her face changed.  It looked like a hologram that, when turned, flashes to a different image, and then back to the original.  I shook my head thinking I must have been hallucinating.

Then my vision became blurry, and I recalled watching the woman strip naked in front of me, and then disappear out of my periphery in the direction that Jennifer was sitting.  I could feel Jennifer moving, rubbing up against me, along with the woman, but I had some serious tunnel vision and wasn’t able to see them right next to me.  I also recall not being able to move my eyes in that direction.  The longer I sat there, the more my vision faded to black, and I could feel myself slouching down in the chair, helpless against gravity that seemed ten times what it normally did.  

I don’t know how much time passed, but I remember being awoken at some point to a tickling sensation on my forehead.  With my eyes closed, I managed to bring my forearm up to my forehead to wipe it.  It was wet.  I tried opening my eyes, but everything was blurry.  The tickling sensation continued on my forehead.  It felt like someone was using a water dropper on my forehead.  In my mind, I thought one of Kianna’s punk friends was dripping beer on me while I slept or something.  But then I remembered what had happened just before I closed my eyes.  

I was lethargic and it proved difficult to move, but my vision was slowly becoming less blurry.  I wiped my forehead with both hands this time, and when I examined my hands, they were coated in crimson liquid, warmer than room temperature.  I smelled my fingers.  It was blood.  At that moment I had realized that not only was there blood on my hands, I could taste that copper-flavor in my mouth as well.  I tried to sit up, but I couldn’t just yet, so I began to wipe my eyes, which apparently had small pools of blood collecting in them.  I began to panic, wondering if it was my own blood.  Or was it Jennifer’s or Kianna’s.  I frantically worked to shift my head and wipe away the blood from my eyes in order to observe my surroundings.  

And then I saw them.  From my back, sprawled out on the floor, I looked straight up and suspended directly above me on the ceiling, I first saw Jennifer’s face.  She had that frightened look in her eyes again, with her back pinned against the ceiling and hair dangling directly down toward me, blood staining the ends and dripping onto me.  She looked completely conscious, with her body jiggling as what was attached to her moved.  Holding her in place was the woman with the long hair… only she wasn’t a woman anymore.  

I don’t know what she… it… was.  From my view, I could tell it was naked.  Both hands and both knees had claw-like appendages that anchored her into the ceiling.  Its head was buried in Jennifer’s neck, and it’s bald, gray-looking skin was soaked in Jennifer’s blood. 

Jennifer mouthed the words “help me” and began crying as her arms and legs dangled.  

I began looking around the room for something I could throw, or at least something that would reach the ceiling that I could use to help get Jennifer free.  Jennifer began mouthing the words “help me” again, this time with a faint wheeze barely making audible speech as she began crying.  Her tears fell and touched my face, diluting the blood that she had already spilled.  

It must have been the noise that got its attention.  It stopped and turned its head toward me to reveal the most hideous-looking creature I’d ever seen.  The once-green eyes had now turned a fiery red, and there were only two vertical slits for a nose.  Its entire face was glistening in Jennifer’s blood, and it’s sucker-shaped mouth was lined with small rows of teeth that didn’t resemble anything human at all.  

It met my eyes with mine, and I still couldn’t move.  I saw that holographic image shift again, only this time in reverse.  For a split second, I could see the the beautiful woman’s face again, with her erotic glance, before it quickly changed back into this emotionless abomination.  The creature tensed up as it looked into my eyes, and I laid there helpless and paralyzed except for my arms.  I began using my arms to try to sit up or roll myself over.  It sat and watched, as if anticipating its next move.

I was finally able to sit up ever so slightly, and as I did, I watched as a long tongue came out of its mouth.  It must have been nine or ten inches, and it wiped Jennifer’s neck clean one last time before releasing her from its grip.  Jennifer slammed against the floor, knocked unconscious.  Thankfully when I sat up, I had moved just enough to avoid her falling directly on me, or I may have been hurt as well.  I wanted to get to Jennifer, but I couldn’t move quickly.  

My eyes watched as it gave me one last glance, and then scurried along the ceiling toward the window, then down the wall a bit before it broke the window and exited the room.  It crawled out and up toward the roof, turning around to duck its head one last time into the window to make sure we weren’t giving chase, then it disappeared into the early morning darkness.  

The longer I sat there, the more I was able to regain my sense of motor control, and Jennifer finally woke up again.  She was able to turn her head toward me, and I could see the wound on her neck.  It was a circular wound, about the size of a drink coaster, with what looked like dozens of puncture marks that were no longer bleeding.  It was almost as if the creature’s tongue caused the wound to clot when it licked her that last time.  I thought for sure she was done for, that she bled out while laying next to me.

I asked her if she was okay, and she tried to move.  She had broken several ribs, her left shoulder, and her left knee from the fall from the ceiling, though she didn’t know all of that at the time.  Kianna arrived shortly after the sun rose.  Apparently she was with another friend and had a little too much to drink and passed out.  We were still not able to move independently when she got there, but she called for help.  Jennifer and I were only separated by a curtain in the emergency room, which we slid back so we could see one another after the doctor’s initial examination.  I could hear everything about her medical history as she told the doctors, and she could hear mine.  

I didn’t know it until the doctor told me, but I had a similar circular wound on my neck too.  I had been so caught up in watching Jennifer’s experience, I was unaware I must have gone through something similar.  I’m not sure if I was on the ceiling or not, but I counted myself lucky.  At least I didn’t have to be awake through that.  Of course, the police came to the E.R. to see what happened.  Apparently the R.A. was notified by Kianna that something went down, and had seen the carpet in the dorm room soaked in blood.  Kianna said it looked like a murder scene.  

Jennifer lied about what happened, saying they were playing a stupid drinking game and was too drunk to remember what went wrong.  She glared at me after she said that, indicating to me that she wanted me to make something up as well.  I agreed, and told the police nothing, saying that I didn’t remember anything until I woke up covered in blood.  The only part I was truthful about was the fact that there was a woman there I hadn’t recognized, and neither did Jennifer.  Kianna was questioned in the waiting room before being allowed to come see us, and she hadn’t known anyone fitting the attractive version of the person, or thing, that was in that room with us.

I just want answers.  Having seen my share of scary movies, it didn’t look exactly like a vampire, or any animal or cryptid I’d ever heard about.  It almost looked parasitic, like the face of a tapeworm or something that would feed off of a symbiotic host.  I just want to make sure I don’t turn into one… I could really use your help.

Ron’s notes:

DeAndre’s account doesn’t sound familiar to anything else I’ve encountered.  It does resemble a dream I’ve heard about before though.  Many years ago.  Back in my tour in Vietnam and the whole Agent Orange thing.  Some of the guys would tell me about these hallucinations they had.  Visions of things I’d long since dismissed.  I admit, some resembled vampires, some of parasitic beings, and some were unique in and over their own, but nothing exactly the same as this.  

I’m afraid for now, I’m going to have to document this among the others that unfortunately I have no explanation for.  

Doing my due diligence, I cross-referenced DeAndre Williams’ name, and Jennifer Montrose’s in the database I’m building.  Strangely enough, I do have medical records from this E.R. visit from Brianne’s computer on both of them.  Apparently their lab results had some peculiar findings.  Aside from both of them having the E.R. doctor’s notes about the measurements and size of the wounds on their necks, samples taken from the wounds indicated an excess amount of fibrinogen… a blood-clotting agent, on the surface of the skin and even deep within the tissue.  In addition, their lab results detected small amounts of curare.  I had to look this up.  Apparently this is a plant extract, non indigenous to North America, but it comes from Central and South America instead.  

Even more interesting, it can only become active in the human body after it is injected directly into the bloodstream, and it’s harmless if taken orally.  There is just a subtle amount of dosage difference that would render a person paralyzed compared to slightly smaller increases in dose that would kill a person, mainly by paralyzing the diaphragm, preventing a person from breathing.  This is why, according to what I found online, it’s possible to eat prey that have been infected with the toxin.  It still doesn’t explain what initially put DeAndre and Jennifer into a sleeping state before acquiring the wounds, but it might explain why they remained paralyzed so long, and why it didn’t affect the creature that put them through all this.  

C.O.M. – Season 3 Episode 6

See Content Warnings
General horror, corpse, gun wound, crime scene, gore, suicide, and language.
Need to skip this episode? Click here to see the plot.
Detective Mark Anderson pulls Jeremy out of work to review crime scene photos from Season 1 Episode 2, A Conspicuous Suspect. The photos depict a corpse, dead by shotgun, with writing on the wall in blood: “They’re already here.”
The corpse has writing on his wrist: the letters C.O.M. which is something Jeremy is familiar with as an in-joke from his high school days. It stood for Campaign of Misinformation and was an invite to partake in a lie with his friends. There also appears to be a barcode on the wrist.
Detective Anderson stated that the fingerprints of the corpse belong to Joseph Foye, Malcom’s grandfather. However, two weeks ago there was a break in at a facility for a high tech government contractor, SCIC. The fingerprints identified at the crime scene were also for Joseph Foye.
Later that night, Jeremy wakes up to the realization that the gun was on the corpse’s left side, while his wallet was in his right pocket, indicating that the corpse was right handed and had been killed by someone else, ruling out suicide.

Today was interesting to say the least. It started as any other day would, but by now, three little letters will be etched into my mind forever.  I woke up, did the morning shower and breakfast routine, then headed out to work.  It was early afternoon when my boss, Judy, knocked on my partially cracked door.  I waved her in and noticed a look of concern on her face.  She stepped aside and let a tall man in a suit, carrying a laptop bag enter my office.  It was Mark Anderson.  Judy hovered by the door as we shook hands and I invited him to sit.  Before making much conversation, Anderson turned to look at Judy and said, “Do you mind if we have a few minutes?”

She nodded and looked at the laptop bag before reluctantly walking away.  Once she was gone, Anderson got up quickly to close the door all the way, and sat back down.  

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” I asked. 

He asked if I had heard from Ron recently, and I let him know that I hadn’t… not since the funeral.  He paused as if wondering which funeral I was referring to, so I reminded him: “Ben’s funeral.”

He nodded, and when I asked why he was inquiring, he initially just said that Ron wasn’t returning his phone calls and he was a bit worried about him.  It didn’t take him long to start asking me questions.  Did he actually believe Ron would interact with me without telling him about it?  I reassured him that I hadn’t spoken to him at all, and then he pulled his laptop out of the bag and powered it up on my desk.  Before it even booted up, we noticed a couple of my nosy coworkers peering through my window as they walked by.

He asked if we could go somewhere more private to speak, and unfortunately my office didn’t offer that kind of seclusion, so I suggested we go to his office.  I took a moment to speak to Judy and asked for the afternoon off, and she agreed.  Anderson was cordial, and before we left, he popped his head into Judy’s office and thanked her for allowing me to leave, mentioning that my statement was going to be a big help.  She seemed relieved somehow.  Was she worried that I was being arrested or something?  Whatever she thought, I was grateful that Anderson said what he did so there wouldn’t be any rumors of me being implicated in something criminal floating around the office.

I followed him to the San Diego County Sheriff’s station and met him in front of the building.  I asked him what we were doing, and he said he wanted me to take a look at a few things to see if I could recall anything from the papers that would correlate and/or lead to additional information.  His intention for the last couple of weeks had been to ask Ron, but he tried going down to Tijuana on his day off, and nobody had seen Ron there at his usual hangouts.  He said, “I know it’s a long shot, but if you could just look through a few items I have and see what you think, I’d be in your debt.”

So I said, “Sure, no problem. Hope I can be some help.”

He said, “Great!” and then got up out of his chair, asking if I wanted some coffee. 

How long was I going to be here?  I took him up on his offer.

Anderson returned to the room with his laptop underneath his armpit and carrying two Styrofoam cups of coffee.  He placed my cup down on the table and opened the laptop in front of him on the table with his hand on it while he sat. 

He said, “I have to warn you, some of these pictures could be… disturbing.”

He then pulled the laptop closer to him as if he wasn’t sure he wanted to show them to me yet.  I was quite nervous to see the photos.  Before he turned the laptop toward me, he said, “Let me tell you what the crime scene was like before you look at the photos… just in case.”

I asked him, “What crime scene?  What are you talking about?”

He then said, “I believe it was ‘Episode 2’ of your podcast. You know, the one where there’s a video of you-know-who looking into the hotel room window.”

Shit… I thought I was done with the Grinner.

Anderson went on to explain, “When we first walked in, we found the victim sitting on the floor propped up against the foot of the bed in the hotel room.”

Wait a minute… we?  Anderson was on the case in the beginning?

He continued, “There was a twelve gauge shotgun resting on the floor next to the body, and what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.  The splatter pattern indicates the end of the barrel was extremely close to the victim’s face.  Most of the cranium was scattered in fragments throughout the room on the walls by the head of the bed, and some stuck to the ceiling.  There was no face to identify, and we’re going to need to see what condition the teeth are in in order to potentially get a positive dental ID.”

I wondered why they would rely on dental records to ID the body.  I asked him, “Why couldn’t you use fingerprints?”

He ignored my question as he began pushing a file toward me.

I wasn’t so sure I wanted to see the pictures now after this description, but I knew I needed to see them.

“I’d like you to take your time and look at the crime scene photos.  You may find some of the images to be difficult to view,” Anderson warned as he slid the laptop toward me once again.  “We are hoping, of course, that you can help to provide a positive ID on the body which can be extremely difficult with these types of gunshot wounds, but let me know if anything jumps out to you as recognizable… or unusual.”

I thought this was a strange comment… The whole damn situation was unusual.  I wasn’t quite sure what he meant. 

Anderson continued, “The body was eventually searched and we found a wallet in the back left pants pocket, as well as a post-it note with a cell phone number on it in the front right jacket pocket.  We didn’t find any other belongings in the room, and there was no cash in the wallet, so we thought there was a chance this could have been a robbery, although there were several credit cards still in the wallet.  Keep in mind that we didn’t have access to the video footage now in your possession.  We’re looking for additional account numbers under the victim’s name to check for activity in case any may have been removed.”

“So you have identified the body?” I said.

Anderson sighed.

“There’s something else” he said.  “You’ll see some writing on the wall, written in blood behind the head of the bed.  We have evidence to suggest the words could have been written after the gunshot, which is why we had initially considered this a potential homicide versus suicide.  Luckily, one of the crime scene investigators had a keen eye. You’ll also see an incision on the inside of the right wrist that was difficult to spot at first.  It was partially obscured by some writing found on the forearm, so it’s possible a cut was made and used to write the words prior to the gunshot wound, but we were never able to find out for certain.  The blood from the gunshot and the blood that was used in the writing had similar clotting appearances, but most of us believe it was written prior to the gunshot.  However, since there was no blood found around the wound, it’s reasonable to suspect that the heart wasn’t beating when the incision was made.  Or, if it was made prior to the gunshot wound, someone would have had to clean it prior to pulling the trigger.  The whole thing is a cluster.”

I looked at Anderson and said, “I’m no detective, but wouldn’t fingerprint identification be all you need?”

Anderson stared at me directly, almost uncomfortably, without blinking his eyes for a moment before he spoke.  “That’s being looked into.  We took prints off of the body, but we didn’t find a match in our records at the time.  That usually means the person has never been printed – at least locally.”

“Usually?” I asked.

Anderson moved on without engaging my question.  I was beginning to get a little frustrated, so I asked him if there was a reason he’s dodging my questions.  He said, “Look, I just need you to approach this with an unbiased point of view, and there are certain things I can’t share with you yet in order to achieve that.  Satisfied?”

I thought about it for a second, and it made sense, so I said, “Okay, let’s move on.” 

He slid around to my side of the table to pull up one of the wider-angled images taken for me to view, which happened to be the most visually shocking one of them all.  Perhaps it was because of the way it was taken from the doorway to the hotel capturing the entire scene, and there sat a headless cadaver, unrecognizable to me.  I suppose this made it easier to look at in a way.  It was just… a lifeless body instead of someone I may know.  On the wall above the head of the bed were the words written in blood, ‘THEY’RE ALREADY HERE’ in capital letters amidst the splatter pattern from the gunshot.  I imagined this photo most accurately depicted what it had been like for the poor housekeeper who discovered the body, and there was an overwhelming amount of information to be seen. 

I looked at picture after picture, trying to find some recognizable feature that indicated to me that this may have been someone I either knew, or had found images of in the papers.  I didn’t see any tattoos.  The hair color was common brown, the clothing was kind of plain, which matched just about anyone’s style.  There really wasn’t anything unique at first glance.  It wasn’t until I started looking at some of the close-up images that my attention started to pique. 

The initial images depicted the body sitting on the floor at the foot of the bed, with the left arm lying to the side and shotgun next to it, while the right arm was laying across the stomach and the palm resting on the waistline.  Additional images were taken after the initial photographs were done and the body was moved.  The image of the inside of his right forearm was not visible in the body’s original position.  When the palm was turned up, you could clearly see the letters ‘C.O.M.’ spelled out in black Sharpie. I paused on this photo for a moment. 

“Do these letters mean anything to you?” Anderson asked.

“Yeah,” I said.

Anderson perked up and reached for his pad and paper.  “Well?” he said.

My mind was racing because this had been sort of an inside joke I had going with a guy I went to high school with, but that couldn’t be related to this case.  I just told Anderson, “Have I ever told you that I used to watch a lot of X-Files?”

He looked at me with a hint of frustration.  “No,” he said as the excitement drained from his body and he put his pencil down.

“Well, C.O.M. was kind of a code-word I used back in high school with a small group of friends… especially during our senior year.  It was an abbreviated version of one of our favorite quotes from the X-files.  We would use it to let one another know that we were about to lie about something.  Like this one time when we got caught by the school security guard sneaking back on campus after ditching a class.  We came up with an excuse on-the-spot about our teacher asking us to take out the garbage for her because the janitorial staff didn’t do their damn jobs.  I didn’t think the security guard really bought it, but he let us go, and we all said ‘C.O.M.’ right after and laughed.” 

“I’m not following,” Anderson said, sounding even more annoyed.

I explained, “The quote was from Agent Mulder on the show, who said to Agent Scully, ‘I would never lie. I willfully participated in a Campaign of Misinformation.’  We would just say ‘C.O.M.’ when we were bullshitting people.  Every once in a while, we would pass notes in class with these letters on it as a way of asking if we wanted to ditch class that day.  Or we would mutter ‘C.O.M.’ under our breath before telling one of our parents we were going to go to the movies or to hang out at a friend’s house, and we would really be going to a party where there was drinking.  It was our kind of code-word for letting me know we were about to do something we shouldn’t be doing, and that we wanted our friends to participate.” 

“Okay, I get it,” Anderson said.

He had that look of suspicion in his eyes again.  I paused for a moment to consider the implications of what I just said.  I didn’t even think before spewing that out.  Did I say too much?  These letters seemed like a message blatantly intended for me, and that last part made it sound somewhat incriminating.  I hadn’t seen any of those guys since high school though, and it seems like a huge coincidence that these letters would be used, let alone potentially intended for me to see.  Is that even possible?  I’m not sure who else would have understood this, but why would a guy kill himself only to leave me an obscure message? It doesn’t make sense.  Or why would someone murder this fellow only to leave that message for me, if indeed it was a homicide?

Anderson spoke up, “If what you are saying is true, then what could this person be asking you to participate in?”

This question made me really uncomfortable.  “I have no idea, Detective.  Obviously I can’t participate in anything if he’s dead.”

I was getting that paranoid feeling again… considering whether or not I should contact a lawyer. I convinced myself to keep providing what information I could in an attempt to assure Detective Anderson that I truly had nothing to hide.  My mind was racing though.  I asked Anderson if there was anything at all he could tell me in addition to the information he’d already shared.  He hesitated for a moment, then pulled out another file.  He opened it and pulled out one page of paper.  It was a fingerprint analysis confirming the identification of one Joseph Foye.  Malcolm Foye’s grandfather who basically raised him.

“Can you think of anything Mr. Foye would have to lie about?” Anderson asked, not really allowing me much time to process this information he just dropped on me.

“I have no idea… does Malcolm know?  What actually happened to Malcolm after the church?” I asked.

Anderson told me how he met up with Malcolm at the hospital after he gave a report to his superiors and the County Medical Examiner regarding the body of Benjamin Scanlon.  Malcolm had received a psych evaluation at the hospital, and self-admitted at the recommendation of the emergency room physician into a rehabilitation institute, where he’s been ever since.  “Malcolm doesn’t know yet,” Anderson said.  

My thoughts were piling onto one another, one by one, and it was so much to take in that it was difficult to have a rational thought in the moment.

“Wasn’t this back in 2015?” I asked Anderson.

He confirmed.  I continued looking at the photographs, but kept returning to the writing on the inside of his right forearm.  I couldn’t help but wonder at the potential purpose for drawing my attention to this image.  Anderson reached over and magnified the image slightly, then re-centered it over the letter ‘M.’

“See there, on the vertical portion of the letter on the right?” he said.  “There’s the incision I was talking about.”

He was right.  It was hard to see because the Sharpie ink was drawn right over the top of it, superimposed as if it was supposed to hide the fact that the cut was there.  It was about an inch long with some dried, dark blood near it which blended in almost perfectly with the black Sharpie.  I zoomed in some more and noticed there were some additional lines running perpendicular to the cut and the Sharpie ink, but they were small.  The ink nearly covered them entirely, and the cut was basically right through these lines as well.

“What are these lines?” I asked.

Anderson pulled the laptop closer to him and said, “I hadn’t noticed these before.”

They looked like a bar-code. He pulled out his cell and made a call and stepped out of the room.  I kept looking at pictures as he continued to make additional calls.  I overheard him say “Check the others for bar codes.”  

After my cup of coffee was empty, I began yawning.  Anderson, looking quite tired himself, finally said, “Why don’t you go on home and get some rest.  Maybe you could come back tomorrow to look at the rest of the images.”

“Thanks,” I said.  “I’d be happy to.”

“I’ll leave your name with the front desk in case I’m not in.  They’ll set you up.  Let me know if you think about anything else.”

Anderson handed me his card and started to walk me out.  It hadn’t occurred to me until that moment that I didn’t know how to reach him if and when I might need to.  At the security checkpoint in the front lobby, he said, “Just one more thing… we haven’t informed anyone yet.  We were hoping you could shed some light on this for us, but since you’re still going to come back to look at more stuff tomorrow, let’s be discreet. Okay?”

I said, “No problem, but I have one more question for you before I come back in the morning.  Why now?  You’ve known the identity of this body for what, five years now?  Why are you pulling me out of work today to ask me to look into this?”

Anderson got that scowl on his face that I’d seen before, as if he were in deep thought.  He was discerning whether or not to provide me any additional details, and he probably assumed I was going to continue being a pain in the ass with questions if I didn’t get a few answers.  Eventually, he said, “Have you ever heard of SCIC?”

In fact, I had.  I said, “Isn’t that the defense contractor here in San Diego?  Yeah, they subcontract with the military for aerospace and weapons technology… high tech stuff, right?”

Anderson nodded to confirm.  Then he said, “Two weeks ago, they had a break-in.  We were called out to the scene, but couldn’t find anyone.  A set of right hand fingerprints ID’ed the perp as one Joseph Foye.”

I stood there perplexed for a moment.  Anderson continued, “So I was hoping you can help explain how the fingerprints of a man who died five years ago, with ties to The Storage Papers (as you refer to them), ended up breaking and entering into a highly-classified tech company, while managing to evade the dozens of security cameras, armed guards, and other personnel in the building… all while leaving only one set of prints deep within an area of the complex that they were cautiously avoiding details about when my team was working the place.  Would that be something you’d consider ‘impossible’ or ‘paranormal’ even?”

I had to agree. Anderson took a deep breath and advised me to get some sleep.  Apparently we’d only touched the tip of the iceberg.

When I got home, the house was dark.  There was a stack of mail sitting on the end table by my favorite spot on the couch, which I easily ignored due to how tired I was.  I crawled into bed.  I hadn’t realized how late it was, but I started drifting asleep slowly around one a.m.  My dreams were consumed of images from the crime scene photos, and my mind continued searching for clues from the memory of images that left scars on my brain.  I drifted deeper and deeper into hard sleep, and then suddenly I was startled awake with the image of the forearm and the realization that I missed something at the police station.  Anderson referred to the fingerprints found at the SCIC building as right-hand fingerprints.  The writing on Joseph’s right forearm was in perfect penmanship.  The wallet was found in the right pants pocket, but the shotgun was lying on the left side of the victim.  Mr. Foye was right-handed. 

I sat upright in bed with sweat streaming down my face.  Unless he had become ambidextrous, it couldn’t have been Joseph Foye laying there dead.  My sleep-fogged mind tried to wrap itself around the possibilities with this realization.  Could he have written those letters in perfect penmanship with his left hand?  Why would he use a shotgun with his left hand?  This was obviously set up, most likely by the Grinner at the time.  I had to wonder how much of Malcolm was aware of what went down that night.  I instantly felt sorry for him.  Even if this was set up to look like a suicide, that didn’t explain how the body’s fingerprints matched the prints in the SCIC building from two weeks ago.  My head hurts.

I reached to my nightstand to pick up my phone and call Detective Anderson.  It went straight to voice mail.  “Detective Anderson, this is Jeremy.  I have some information regarding the pictures we looked at last night.  You might be interested to hear what I have to say.  Please call me as soon as you get this message.”

I figured Anderson was still asleep.  I looked at the clock and it was after 10:00 a.m.  For a moment I was concerned about work, but then I remembered it was Saturday.

The Mirrored Woman – Season 3 Episode 5

See Content Warnings
General horror, choking, language, paranoia, and car accident.
Need to skip this episode? Click here to see the plot.
Jeremy reads a document created by Ron in which a name has been redacted. It is unclear why this is the case. The unnamed individual met with Ron and discussed a dream he has where at 11:11pm he encounters a woman who mirrors his every movement. The woman stops mirroring his movements and attacks him at which point he wakes up. After having this dream for 10 consecutive nights, he goes for a drive and believes he is being tailed by a black SUV. He is involved in a car accident after which he awoke in the Emergency Room and called Ron to meet. Ron noted that he had allowed an unnamed woman to hypnotize the man who dreamed.

Along with my update from the break, I wanted to share a document with you that I believe relates to some of the others I have planned to share with you this season.

Now, we all dream.  Sometimes we remember our dreams and others, not so much, but science tells us it happens despite our recollection, or lack thereof.  We speculate, but I can’t help but wonder if we know the true purpose of dreams.  Are they simply our subconscious trying to find a way to interpret or rationalize the things we go through in our hours of being awake?  If so, are there varying levels of success?  Or… are our dreams some kind of makeshift window into other realities?  Or maybe something in between?  You can go dizzy listening to armchair philosophers who like to argue that perhaps we’re all living in some kind of a simulation, and that during the hours we sleep, we achieve a distorted glimpse into our actual environments.  

All of this is admittedly entertaining to think about, but you have to wonder if there is any truth in those thoughts.  Have you ever had a dream where, within that dream, you realized you could control what happens, and even manipulate the environment and outcomes of different scenarios?  What if it were possible to dream about whatever you wanted to dream about?  That sounds pretty close to heaven in my book.  But what if there was a way to enter another person’s dream?  You would have insight like no other into that person’s life, what’s on their mind, the struggles they’re dealing with, and so much more.  One might even say you had the power to manipulate them… after all, even if they remember their dreams, they’re “just dreams,” right?  Nobody is going to believe that anything occurring within them is actually based in reality.  

Today’s document may cause you to question all of these possibilities.  It appears to be a notes from a conversation between Ron and someone who’s name has been redacted.  Why would Ron redact someone’s name in his own records though?  I need to remember to ask him about that.  Either way, it reads as though it may have been a recorded conversation.  There’s no dates listed either, but I can tell it’s local because of some of the details mentioned.

It reads:

I met [redacted] outside of the Emergency room on Sunday after he was discharged.  He called me from the ambulance during transit from his motor vehicle accident to the ER, insisting that I meet with him before he got home.  He wouldn’t explain anything on the phone for fear that his phone was “bugged,” and he believed that his accident was directly related to his research at work.  While I’m trying to put the pieces together to figure out how to best help him, I’m struggling with the legitimacy of some of his claims.

I waited by his car for him to come outside, and he asked if we could find somewhere private to talk, so we agreed to meet at a local 24-hour diner off the 5 and Encinitas Blvd, which was conveniently on the way home for both of us.  Once we arrived, we found a quiet booth away from the other two parties present.  After all, it was after 2:00 a.m. and crowds weren’t going to be a problem.

When the waitress arrived, we both ordered coffee, and he ordered breakfast.  Then he started telling me about this recurring dream he had over the preceding 11 days, which I thought was odd.  Why was he counting?

He described not knowing if it was a dream vs. reality the first night he had it.  This guy was an early riser his whole life, and usually got into work around 4:30 a.m., so his bedtime was generally between [7:30] and 8:00 p.m.  So when this dream starts, he’s actually lying in bed awake, and he rolls over to see the time on his alarm clock, which reads 11:11 p.m.  He stops telling me about the dream already to inform me that he believes the number 11 is significant.  But he continues.

He swears he’s lying in bed looking at his clock for more than 10 minutes within the dream, but the time never changes on the clock.  So within the dream, he is conscious that the number 11 is significant as well.  He suddenly feels compelled to get out of bed to check all of his other clocks in the house, just to see if they all say the same time, or if the one on his nightstand is simply frozen.  

It takes him 11 steps to get to his bedroom door, and then another 11 steps to enter the living room, where he plans to first check the time on a grandfather clock that was in his grandparents’ home when he was a child, but in reality, he does not actually possess this clock.  He just knows it’s there in his dream.

When he takes his 10th step toward the grandfather clock, his attention is drawn toward movement on his left side.  By the time he’s finished with his 11th step, he’s never able to actually look at the time on the grandfather clock because he’s always getting a first glimpse of what’s causing the distracting movement to his left.  There’s a second-floor landing visible to him at this position in the room, and he sees a woman’s feet at the top of the stars, but they’re not facing the stairs.  They’re facing the opposite way, heels at the edge of the top step.

He says, “hello,” but there’s no response, so he takes one step toward the bottom of the stairs.  As he does this, the woman’s right foot steps backwards and descends one step on the stairs.  As he stops, she stops.  He says, “hello?” again, but the woman doesn’t respond.  The only thing he can see is her bare left foot, and now her bare right foot and calf.  

He takes another measured single step, and as he does, her left foot now descents to the second stair from the top.  She stops when he stops.  He starts to panic now and he doesn’t understand why, but he decides to test a theory.  He takes one step backwards toward his bedroom.  The woman matches his movement by taking one step with her left foot forward, up the stairs where it previously was.  He substantiates the rules… that for every step he takes forward, she takes a step backwards, and vice versa.  But he doesn’t know if she’s just someone playing a game with him, trying to mirror his movements, or if this woman is bound to these rules and doesn’t have any choice but to follow them.

He explains that his mind is as sharp as ever, as if he were awake, so he figures he’ll try another test.  If he runs three or four steps forward, and the woman is just trying to play some kind of game, she’ll lose her balance trying to move that quickly going backwards down the stairs, and likely won’t be able to keep up if he moves quickly.  He tests his hypothesis.

He takes four running steps toward the base of the stairs, but she doesn’t lose her balance.  Her movements are as quick as his, and her movements look unnatural, like watching a film in reverse.  Now he is even more scared, but he can’t figure out why.  In his dream, he recognizes that his fear is irrational, as he seems to have full control over where this woman moves, and knows how to get away from her at any time – by simply walking back toward his bedroom.

After taking a moment to muster up some courage, he takes a few more steps and watches her match his movements in reverse down the stairs.  As he approaches the bottom of the stairs, he begins seeing more features.  The woman has very tan or brown skin, and is wearing what appears to be a long white coat that is tattered with holes in it.  She doesn’t appear to be wearing anything underneath it.  She has long, dark hair, but her face can’t be seen through it, at least from the side angle he has.  He tries turning his head to his right, and her head moves to the left when he does, causing her to face him… but his head is turned just far enough so that her face is outside of his peripheral vision, and when he turns his head back toward her, she of course turns her head away so that he can never really make out any details.  All of her movements are perfectly mirrored to his.  

He takes a couple more steps forward and she reaches the lower landing where the stairs turn near the bottom.  At this point, he realizes if he takes an additional three steps, he’ll be at the base of the stairs… and so will she.  He cautiously contemplates his next move, and in doing so, recognizes that those three additional steps would total 11 steps from where he entered the room.  Instead of moving more, he looks around the living room.  He can see a reflection of the grandfather clock, which reads [11:11].  Also within view from where he’s standing, is the microwave clock, which reads the same time.

He stands there for another moment, then looks back at the woman, who is still on the lower landing, and now has her back facing him.  She’s so still that she looks like a mannequin, but he can’t help but admire her long, dark hair, which extends below her waist.  He pinches himself in an attempt to wake up, but has no such luck.  After a few moments pass, he doesn’t really know what else there is to do in this dream except go forward, both literally and figuratively.  So that’s what he does.

His first step forward is her first step backward off the lower landing.  They take another step, and then the third.  She is now on the ground floor within arms reach.  His eyes focus on her hair, and he’s tempted to move it to the side to see if he can see the side of her face.  He takes his left hand and raises it slowly toward the left side of her face, seemingly entranced by how beautiful her hair is and fully planning on pulling it aside to see if he can recognize her.  He has a gut feeling that he knows her somehow, or that she at least knows him.  There’s a sense of familiarity that increases the closer he gets to touching her.

When his fingertips are nearly touching her silky hair, he notices something.  She is no longer mirroring his movements.  He thinks to himself, “if my left hand is reaching up toward her, then her right hand shouldn’t still be by her side.”  He starts breathing rapidly, heart racing, and begins to second-guess his plan of moving her hair aside.  “What if she was sleep-walking and is now awake?  What if she knows I’m there?”  Thoughts race through his mind.  “What if she has free will and can do anything she wants to in this dream?  Why is she here?”

He prays to God that he can reverse this whole situation by simply taking a step backwards, but when he does, she flinches just a bit at the sound of his foot meeting the hardwood floor.  He freezes and she cocks her head to the left, then slowly begins to turn around.  She now stands facing him, arms down by her sides and head tilted to the left.  She’s motionless, and he realizes he stopped breathing a long time ago.  

He tries to make out details of her facial appearance, but it’s simply too dark, and there’s too much hair covering her face.  Some time goes by and he begins to breathe again.  She doesn’t move at all, so he begins to feel more comfortable in this situation, trusting that she’ll hold still.  What’s interesting here, is he described her as “having established a good rapport, and an element of trust, so he had no reason not to trust her.”  I’d like to pursue further questioning later.

Having established trust, he begins closer examination of her face, and soon realizes she doesn’t have a face at all.  It’s just smooth skin, void of eyes, a nose, or a mouth.  For some reason, even though in waking thought it doesn’t sound logical, he assumes that because of this, she is harmless.  He reaches up with both hands to feel her hair, and that’s when he realizes how wrong he was.

She grabs him by the throat with her right hand and lifts him completely off the ground, causing him to choke and gasp for air.  His eyes start to bulge as she tightens her grip and pulls his face closer to hers.  He attempts to loosen her grip with both hands, feet flailing about, and it only gets tighter.  He begins to see dim red illumination where her eyes would have been if she had a face.  As the seconds go by, the lights get brighter, and she begins forming somewhat of a mouth.

Small holes begin to appear where her mouth should be, arranged in a horizontal row, and as her chin gets lower, the holes stretch and tear the skin, causing some of the holes to connect, and make more of an appearance like a mouth.  As it opens wider, he begins to hear a noise that he can’t quite make out at first, but the louder it grows, the more he begins to recognize it’s the sound of screeching tires.  The instant he recognizes this, the sound stops and the red glow dissipates from the eyes.  All goes quiet and she goes back to not having a face, but he’s still dangling by the neck in her grasp.  Then he hears a clear woman’s voice say, “Now count backwards from 11 and relax,” followed by a horribly loud crashing sound, with the bending of metal, and it’s almost deafening.  And that’s when he wakes up.  

“The pisser of it all,” he says, “is that the clock by my bed always says 11:11 p.m. every time I have this dream.  It’s a real mind-fuck because I’m wondering if I should get up and go check my other clocks, but I never do… at least until tonight.”  

“So, before I went to sleep tonight, I knew it was going to be the 11th night I’ve had this dream, so I told myself, I’d actually get up, check my other clocks, and look around the house.  Of course, I’m looking at the stairs when I do, but there’s no woman, no clocks stuck on [11:11].  I watched my microwave clock turn to 11:12 p.m. and you know I don’t have a grandfather clock.  So knowing I’m not going to be able to sleep much, I decide I’m going for a drive.  I didn’t really know where, but I just started driving.”

[Name redacted] proceeds to explain how he just hops on the 5 freeway and drives North for a while until he feels compelled to get off in Del Mar.  He says he has an itch to see the ocean, so he drives around looking for beach access, but then he starts getting paranoid.  He feels like he’s being followed and sees a set of headlights behind him following each turn he makes.  So he decides to speed up and make a series of erratic turns at each intersection he reaches, until he finally stops at a red light.

He’s looking in his rear view mirror and doesn’t see a set of headlights, so he thinks he’s lost his tail.  But a few seconds later, he sees a car turn a few streets back and he’s not sure if the car is coming from the same street he just turned from.  In order to get a better view than the rear view mirror provides, he makes sure the traffic light is still red, then he puts his right arm behind the passenger seat in order to help swing around and turn to look behind him.  He watches the car behind him, still a couple of intersections away, but it makes a right turn down one of the streets, and no one is behind him as far as he can see now.

So he turns to see if he’s got a green light when he starts hearing the screeching of tires.  It takes him a moment, but he sees a black SUV in front of him driving in reverse at high speed.  The red tail lights are approaching quickly, and before he has time to react, he hears the collision and is knocked unconscious.  

So he wakes up in the back of the ambulance on the way to the Emergency Room, and decides to call me.  He can’t remember any license plate number.  In fact, he can’t remember seeing any license plate on the vehicle at all.  Apparently it was a hit and run.  Someone actually intentionally reversed their vehicle in an attempt to harm him.  A local resident heard the collision and ran outside.  They also described a black SUV, but didn’t get a license plate.  The intersection where the collision occurred was at Camino Del Mar and 11th street.  

He said it took him a little while after arriving in the ER to gather his thoughts, but he’s 100% confident that [name redacted] did something to his head when he allowed her to hypnotize him.  He says she did it in the name of therapy, but now he’s sure that she just did it to screw with his head.  He called out sick for work while he was eating his breakfast with me at the diner.  

Notes: I followed up with him the next day to see if he had the dream again, and he said he hadn’t.  I also went down to the Sheriff’s department and was able to get a copy of the report.  They were able to get a decent picture of the tire tread on the SUV, and estimated the vehicle had been going between 50 and 60 miles per hour at the point of impact based on the distance [name redacted] car was moved from the intersection.  Of course, there was black paint on his bumper, grill and hood.  Looking at images of his car though, it’s a wonder the impact didn’t kill him.  

I’ll need to consider whether or not to question [name redacted] the next opportunity I get.  I’m not sure it’s worth risking at this point in time, but perhaps under different circumstances in the future, I can revisit my notes here when there’s not so much at stake.

I have just a few takeaways from this document.  Obviously Ron knows the name of the man that was having the dreams, but it appears he not only knows the name of this woman that he refers to, but he might actually know her, like in-person.  How is this possible though?  Do these guys work together?  Or did they in the past?  

I have to wonder what “risks” he was referring to, and when this was actually written.  I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be wise to sit on this one, just as Ron did, until I can see if there’s any more to learn about this situation.  Maybe there’s some small detail in the upcoming documents I’m going to release here on the podcast that one of the listeners may catch and I miss… if that’s the case, please let me know.  Until then, I’ll be back in two weeks with more of the papers.

Unmarked – Season 3 Episode 4

See Content Warnings
General horror, marijuana use, non-consensual injection of unknown substance, restraints, and body horror.
Need to skip this episode? Click here to see the plot.
An unknown individual had a letter anonymously delivered to Jeremy’s home. The letter recounts a psychology student at Stanford being invited to an internship to help input the psychological profile of criminals into an algorithm to prevent crime. Over the weekend, they notice things are getting more and more unusual; they are locked out of all their online accounts, they have car trouble, and things are missing in their home.
They finally make it to a warehouse where the study is occurring, using an address on a business card the recruiter gave them. They soon find themselves strapped down and being hooked up to sensors and an IV drip without their consent. Their body has an extremely negative reaction, but time seems to freeze, then they find themselves back at their place, except they see themselves as they were the night before last.
They are suddenly back in the warehouse, still connected. The recruiter tells them they traveled to the past, then continues having them travel back in time, with their side effects worsening. To try to alter their destiny, they try to ruin their day and cause their past self to miss the internship, but seem to be unsuccessful.
During their travels through time, they overhear the people working on the supposed internship reference Project Infinitum, and also discuss The Storage Papers podcast. The mysterious individual issues an ominous warning to Jeremy to be careful.
Jeremy suspects it is a part of Project Hydra.

I actually was in the middle of recording an episode from one of the files in the storage papers when there was a knock at my door on Sunday. When I opened the door there was nobody there. Instead I found a plain, unmarked white envelope sitting on my welcome mat. Perhaps more foolishly than I should have acted, I opened it almost immediately. Inside I found a handwritten letter spanning multiple pages which were neatly folded into thirds. I read through it several times, trying to determine if it were a practical joke, but based on the little I’ve learned from these papers, I think it might be the real deal. I’ll let you decide.

Dear Jeremy,

You don’t know me and I don’t know you and that will never change. Before I tell you what you need to know, I’ll tell you a bit about myself and I apologize for the length, but the devil, I’m afraid, is in the details, so I hope you’ll indulge me as these may be my final words to anyone. Not so long ago for you I was a student at Stanford – a psych major. In fact, I might still be depending on how long that courier company took to deliver this. And, of course, depending on if it even makes it to you or if it’s intercepted.

Now, I’m not a party animal or anything. I took my time at Stanford very seriously. Other students may have a rich family so this place doesn’t make a dent in their pocketbooks, but not me. My time here was the result of a lot of hard work and I had no intention of throwing it all away. That said, I was feeling pretty good Friday night, so I decided to indulge a little. And by indulge, I mean I burned through as many brain cells as I could in celebration.

You see, Thursday I had taken a pretty intense test. Friday morning I found out that I had passed. That by itself was amazing, but then Friday afternoon I left my Intro to Cognitive Neuroscience class and there was a man waiting for me in a grey suit and green tie. I was surprised when he said my name – a name which I won’t share with you for your own safety. I was even more surprised when he told me why he knew my name.

Apparently my professor routinely passes names along to some of his contacts who are looking for promising students to eventually recruit them. What type of companies are looking to recruit psych majors, you ask? Good, then we’re on the same page. It didn’t make any sense to me either, yet he somehow had the perfect answer. We got some coffee and he explained that he represented an organization that was looking to take a step beyond the cutting edge of the criminal justice field. They were developing an algorithm to help stop crime. Apparently many law enforcement agencies have been working on this, but they wanted to introduce a more interesting element.

They had all the data about different crimes that had occurred and all the environmental, social, and political factors that went into it, but they wanted to go deeper. They wanted employees who would work with their artificial intelligence so that it could understand why those specific criminals broke the law and add the psychological element into their algorithm. To sort of turn the clock back and truly prevent crime from happening in the first place.

I gave a nervous smile as I sipped my coffee and told him I’d seen that movie already. He politely chuckled, then told me that they were recruiting people from universities all over the world for this to get the next generation of people who understood the mind to break it down for them and that they were going to be doing a study on Sunday if I was interested in at least putting that down on my resume once I graduated.

If you’ve ever been a student, I’m sure you know how valuable a resume that doesn’t consist of waiting tables is when it comes time to start applying. I wasn’t sure that I was as qualified as he thought I was to be contributing to something as science fiction as he described, but I definitely wanted a little polish as I entered the workforce. I accepted. As I did, it hit me just how big this would be. A previous professor had spoken to the value of internships and published papers, but I thought I’d be further along in my studies before I got noticed enough to do something like that. So when I arrived home, I got into my stash and smoked a bowl and passed out about a half hour later.

When I woke up Saturday I was ready to conquer the world, despite me still wearing the same clothes I had on the day before, having fallen asleep on my recliner. I dug into my jeans pocket and pulled out the business card he had given me with every intention of learning more about the company so I could be more fully prepared when I showed up on Sunday. Instead I found that it contained what I assumed to be his last name – Hyde or something like that – and a phone number. On the back I found a handwritten address which, according to a quick search, was near the shipyards.

I wasn’t exactly what one might call particularly social and spent most of the day completing homework, studying, and watching Netflix. Eventually dinner time rolled around and being tired of frozen burritos I thought I would treat myself to an actual meal and decided to splurge on McDonald’s. That’s when I first noticed things were a bit unusual. I always keep my keys on a stand by the door, but they weren’t there. I searched everywhere from the recliner cushion to every surface between the chair and the door.

It wasn’t until I realized I was sweating and went to get some ice for a glass of water that I found them in the freezer. Which made some weird sense when I found my wallet in the refrigerator. I then figured out I was sweating because the heat was turned on, despite it being almost 90 degrees outside. I tried to shrug it off as getting too high but I knew I hadn’t so much as moved from the recliner since I started smoking last night.

I knew someone had to be messing with me when I got to my car. I’m not mechanically inclined at all but upon no response from the engine I still popped the hood to see if there was anything obviously wrong before completely giving up. As it turns out, even I could spot a disconnected battery. I reconnected it and felt pride swell my chest as the engine turned over, then caught. That pride was quickly tempered with frustration and paranoia at who could be messing with me.

I got my McDonald’s and quickly returned home. When I arrived I began a survey, takeout bag in hand, to determine what else could be wrong. In the end I found a handful of things. My toothpaste, shampoo, and body wash were all completely empty. There was no hot water available. Three of my course books were missing, along with the single beer I had in the fridge. I ended my perusal of the perimeter with a locked door and decided to push it out of my mind for now with more Netflix. That is until I discovered that my Netflix account had been discontinued. When I tried to login and reactivate it, I found that my password had been changed. I started the recovery process only to further discover I was locked out of my email account.

It was now nine in the evening and I had an important meeting first thing in the morning, but I was beginning to legitimately freak out about this. Not only had someone invaded my physical space, but also my digital life. To update my password Google stated they would have to physically mail me a code to enter in and I nearly threw my phone in frustration, but I still needed it. I checked my bank account and that’s when my frustration turned into fear as I was told my username or password was incorrect.

I was no longer in the mood for Netflix and I ended up not finishing the burger. I just wanted my life which a mere 24 hours ago had nowhere to go but up to come back. I would have slept fitfully just from that but then every hour or so I was woken up and each time it was more difficult to go back to sleep as my bed seemed unusually uncomfortable. The first time I was startled by my phone blasting Haddaway at full volume from my nightstand. Next there was a crash that jolted me out of bed and I found that everything that had been in my refrigerator was now on the floor. Once I could have sworn there was someone in the room with me but when I put on my glasses I found myself alone. I didn’t sleep the rest of the night after that.

When morning rolled around and the sun began to naturally light up the room I finally got up and threw my sheets on the floor in frustration. It was then that I solved two mysteries at once: why my bed was so uncomfortable and where my missing books and beer went. If I hadn’t been so preoccupied last night I probably would have noticed the visible lumps in the mattress.

I took a shower – still cold – to help gather my wits. Even though my life seemed to be falling apart in a timespan of just one day, it was still important to me to think about my future and attend this study. My one button down shirt and pair of slacks were almost unsurprisingly absent from my dresser. Instead I wore khakis and a polo. My car would not start and this time my battery was still connected so I flagged down someone else in the parking lot who was able to give me a jump. “Rough morning?” he asked. If he only knew.

I looked for the business card to get directions and found that it must not have transferred from my jeans to my khakis. With a touch of relief I remembered that I had looked it up on my phone and it was still in my history. I had some other searches in my history I didn’t recall ever making but in the end I found the address I was looking for and I was able to make it there at 10am sharp. I parked in front of what I assumed was the correct building although I felt unsure given that it seemed to be an abandoned warehouse.

When I entered, I was instead given the impression of a rather advanced laboratory for some sort of practical science which was pretty far out of my league. The man who had recruited me saw me before I saw him and came over to greet me.

“Are you ready to change the world?” he asked.

I told him no world changing events happened on a Sunday and he laughed. “Why does this place look so run down outside?” I asked him.

“You know how Apple started in a garage?” he asked in return. “Well, this is our garage.”

I asked him what the abstract of the study was and he told me we’d be getting to that but first they needed to make sure I could interface properly with the computer. I nodded, having no clue what that meant.

As it turns out, it involved several sensors being placed on my body, then my head, wrists and ankles being strapped down. He told me these were required sensors. Then they brought out the IVs. I could deal with sensors, I could deal with not understanding everything, but I’m majoring in a soft science. I don’t deal with hard needles. I told them I don’t consent to it and they acted like they couldn’t hear me.

Within a few minutes of the needle being inserted into the crook of my right arm then connected to the tube, I began to feel an intense burning course through my arm then spread to my chest. I was so distracted by the pain that I didn’t notice they were performing a similar procedure on my left arm until I realized I was having a different sensation coming from that side of my body. This time it was just pure, unadulterated pain. I screamed. I cried. I begged for them to stop. They ignored me, instead adding additional needles and pumping different fluids into me.

At one point I looked down to discover my entire right arm was rapidly developing blisters that spread from the needle’s entry point. My left hand had turned almost completely black. I couldn’t see further down my body due to my head restraint but I could feel my skin on my legs cracking open and something thick oozing out. I knew I was going to die.

Then the strangest thing happened. At first I thought it was an illusion caused by what I’m sure was a furiously drug addled mind, then I decided this was actually what death felt like. Everything was slowing down. The drip into the IV fell through the air at an impossibly slow pace. Everyone moved as if they were stuck walking underwater. Then it all stopped. I blacked out.

When I came to, I was at home. An assessment of my body found that I was disfigured beyond recognition. My khakis were soiled with urine, feces, and some kind of dark green sludge which still oozed slightly from the cracks in my skin. My entire right arm was covered in blisters that leaked puss and blood. But most importantly, I felt no pain. For a few moments at least. Then I caught a glimpse of myself passed out on the recliner, skin unmarked by the torture I had endured, and once again blacked out as pain overtook me.

The next time I opened my eyes, I saw a grinning face before me. The face of the man from the coffee shop. “How was your expedition there?” he asked me.

I tried to spit in his face but found I could barely move my swollen lips. “Don’t strain yourself. I don’t actually need you to talk. You’ve interfaced perfectly with the computer so we’re learning all sorts of stuff from your little trip to the past.”

I guess some sort of facial muscles were still able to display shock and confusion because he said, “That’s right, you just paid a visit to the past. Maybe eventually it won’t have as many…unpleasant side effects, but for now you’re helping us with one of the early stages of changing the world. Think of all the implications!”

I finally was able to work up enough spit in my mouth to try to throw it in his face but it ended up just dribbling out like drool.

“Now, I’d like you to relax,” he continued, ignoring the saliva sliding down my chin. “It’s going to be a long day, I’m afraid.”

He turned and nodded to a technician by some equipment who then pressed a few buttons and I felt my pain increase beyond what I thought was already the maximum level possible. My vision in my left eye turned red, then I once again blacked out.

There I was. This was me. In the past. Asleep. No idea what was going to happen to me. That’s when I made the decision. I had to stop myself from going. I had to do whatever it took to make sure this torture never happened to me. I got to work. I only had about ten minutes before I blacked out again.

When I came to I was terrified to find that I was still in place. It must not have worked. Or maybe it’s a different timeline? I’m still not sure. But I had to keep trying. Each time I went back, I did more to ruin my life so that I could actually save myself. Each time I found that it wasn’t enough. I did, however, discover some sort of rules…I wasn’t able to actually directly interact with my past self. I tried a couple of times and each time I found myself in intense pain and ended up blacking out again.

That’s when I gave up. I’ve taken two trips since then, including this one. One was to find out more about what was happening to me. I visited the facility in which I was being held captive and found them setting everything up. In a conference call I overheard them referring to Project Infinitum, which I’m guessing is what I’ve been an unwilling subject of. But they also talked about a podcast and discussed what fate it should meet. I couldn’t tell what they said after, but I do know they said it was called The Storage Papers.

So I’m on this trip now. I looked up the podcast and found enough information between that call I overheard and searches I made on my phone to track down your address. I ordered a courier service to deliver this to you and I’m writing this note in the past. I’ve left explicit instructions to ensure you have no contact with them so you can’t trace anything back to me. If you find me, it could bring them all down on you that much faster. If all goes well I only have one more trip to make after this and either way it’s too late for me, but I wanted to tell you to be careful. These people know about you. They know what you’re doing. And, based on the experiments they’ve been conducting on me, they have the ability to learn far more about you than you ever thought possible. Please believe me, Jeremy. Be careful.

As promised, there’s no name anywhere within the letter or any indication where it came from. I looked for any missing students at Stanford but there were no results which could mean this is a hoax, it could mean it hasn’t happened yet, or…it could mean it’s been covered up. I also can’t help but wonder if the name on that business card wasn’t Hyde, but actually Hydra, as this seems to fit that organization’s activities.

Whatever the case, I’ll be taking some extra precautions on this end and I’d like everyone listening to know that should anything happen to me, I’ve scheduled several episodes to automatically be released so nothing will stop these papers from getting out there. I know some of you listening to this podcast have left me voice messages and emails as you’ve investigated these further. I’d encourage anyone else looking into these to also take precautions to ensure your own safety if you continue. With that said, no matter what, another episode will be posted in two weeks. See you then.