A Mysterious Man on a Cruise Ship – Season 3 Episode 14

See Content Warnings
General horror, suicide/suicidal ideation, alcohol, tobacco use. If you, or someone you know needs help, call 800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
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Brianne sends Jeremy an email of re-scanned documents from a box of files he’d lent her. There are two documents. The first recounts a story from Tyler who works on a cruise ship. One night on the cruise, he meets a man who knows all of Tyler’s memories. The man hands him an envelope, then they part ways at sunrise.

After leaving the cruise ship and moving back home, he reads the letter and finds out that the man was being hunted in his sleep by a man in a khaki suit and his dreams were blending and overlapping with reality. The man in the khaki suit said that the man from the cruise had forgotten them all and what had been done to them.

The man from the cruise had flashbacks to being in a room with a two-way mirror on one wall, with the words “You are not a psychic” written on the other wall. He thinks it may have been a place he was at as a child. The man from the cruise then indicates that the night he shared with Tyler was to be his last night on earth.

A couple of weeks ago I lent Brianne a couple of boxes. Inside of those boxes, as I’m sure you can probably guess, were some of the documents that we all now refer to as ‘The Storage Papers’. I was hesitant at first. I’m not sure if I just have a death grip on this stuff and I’m scared of losing any of it, or if I was worried that Brianne might unearth some trouble for herself in those documents and I’d be to blame for letting her hold on to them. I guess if I’m being honest with myself, it was likely a bit of both.

Nevertheless, I handed her a couple of boxes; sealed at the top with their folded cardboard flaps, soft and bowing at the bottom from the weight of their contents. While I certainly needed the help with research, I was reluctant to think she would find anything relevant. I’m confident in her research abilities, but I’m certainly not confident with Ron’s organization. Deep in this treasure trove of forbidden information, there are a lot of inane things. It’s not uncommon to find a box that’s more or less… junk. I’ve found old wallets, more than one misplaced social security card, and plenty of random bits of junk mail and bills. 

This wasn’t the first time Brianne had helped me with research, but it was the first time either of us were looking for something so specific, and if I wasn’t having much luck, I couldn’t imagine she would have it any better. This is all to say it was a crap-shoot, but I’m sure you’re well aware I wouldn’t be telling you any of this if Brianne didn’t find something worth sharing. 

I was kind of caught off guard when she sent me an email with a series of scanned documents. It was followed by a quick phone call.

Phone ringing.

BRIANNE: So, did you get my email?

JEREMY: Yeah… so what exactly am I looking at here?

BRIANNE: You just… you gotta take a look at it. Trust me, it gets pretty weird.

JEREMY: Sure. Yeah. Um, let me just put on a pot of coffee and I’ll take a look.

BRIANNE: Are you doing alright, Jeremy?

JEREMY: Yeah… the real question is, how are you doing?

BRIANNE: Well… the dreams have been a lot less frequent.

JEREMY: Think he’s letting up?

BRIANNE: More like… gunning for someone else.

The first set of pages were most definitely written on a computer. The words were a bit grainy, the type of thing that tells you that these pages were printed out and photocopied a few times before they made it to my desk. You might think I’m sorting through ancient scrolls and lost, forgotten leather-bound diaries, but the truth is most of this stuff looks like it could have been dredged from the dumpster of a call center. 

The second set of pages were hand written, still suffering from the same defects as the former, only much less legible. I can’t be entirely sure of the documents origin, only that according to Brianne they were paper-clipped together with a sticky note on the front page with the name ‘Tyler’ on it. Brianne was pretty certain that the handwriting on the sticky note was Ron’s, and frankly I don’t see why it would’ve been anyone else’s.

I was a bit skeptical at first, as the first page reads more like rambling than a report of any sort of incident, but after reading it to the end, I couldn’t help but find some commonalities between Tyler’s story and the events unfolding right now. I’m not sure if any of it points us in the direction of the killer, but I do have some thoughts and observations. However, I’d like to save those until the end of the episode where they’ll have a little more context. Until then, I hope you’ll stick around to hear a story about a mysterious man on a cruise ship.

I guess you’d probably expect me to open this story by saying that I’d always dreamed of sailing the open seas, but that would probably be a lie. My dreams of that were dashed upon the rocks at a young age when I’d learned that I would likely never be a pirate. I never figured I’d grow up to be a bartender on a cruise ship, but then again those types of thoughts were only really in my orbit at an age where I’d still figured my parents probably loved each other. When you’re old enough to realize you forgot to keep asking yourself what you were going to be when you grow up, it’s too late, and you’re already a bartender on a cruise ship. 

Over time your body adjusts to the seasickness (or at least mine did). You lose that wobble in your legs. You lose touch with the creature comforts: aching less for the things you can’t have and instead just aching for the things you have the least of; your favorite color in a package of candy (it’s the best one, even if they all just taste like citric acid and sugar); the nights when you’re thinking about some argument you had years ago, and your internal monologue is just slightly louder than the giggling voices and the squealing bed frame in the next room over.  Those are the type of things you ache for. That’s where you get your vitamins and minerals. 

You grow more and more accustomed to it. It’s not quite like Stockholm syndrome, but the people that have been in it the longest aren’t too dissimilar to the type of prisoners who get too comfortable in their surroundings, forgetting to remember what they ever liked about being free and relishing the idea of having their lives plotted out for them. 

I was coming to accept it. Every day the same laughing faces with just slightly different features, rarely considering if the smile you return is anything more than performative. The man who rips your ticket at the cinema smiles warmly and tells you to “enjoy your movie” and, if you’re smart you tell him “you too” but it’s maybe just a little different if he lives under one of the seats in the theater. I was that man under the seat, right after the lights go off, sleeping on a bed of stale popcorn under the stars of dried forgotten bubblegum. That’s what it’s like to work on a cruise ship. You’re a mechanic, tucking himself in under the hood of a car, and curling up around the radiator. You’re an office worker fluffing your keyboard pillow and smacking your head on the bottom of your desk. 

I’m ashamed to say that when I first found myself stepping on to this ship, I was trying to start a new life for myself. I wanted to see the world, but I’d had to settle for gift shops in the Bahamas. I’d broken up with my fiance after a four and a half year relationship, and the worst part was that I felt absolutely nothing about it. I wanted so bad to feel like garbage and to hate myself. I wanted to force myself  to beg and plead for her to come back, but I couldn’t. The place in my heart that held any sort of emotion felt like the spot you poke your tongue at after you’ve lost a tooth: a fragile empty place with a faint taste of copper. 

I thought I could forge a new path and redefine myself. I’d pictured myself becoming a whole new person with a whole new perspective on life, but in the end I’d only discovered that I was miserable, I’d always been miserable, and I’d likely always be miserable. My whole existence having been sullied by a deep seeded misery that numbed my body like a bath of needles full of Novocaine.

The man that I met on the lower deck that night was solemn. He wasn’t interested in talking to me and that’s probably the only reason I really wanted to talk to him–that, and maybe the light gleaming off of his bald head. The guests on these ships either look right through you, or they squint their eyes a bit too hard so that they can make out all of your details. I’d learned that if I took my name tag off, with my puffy white shirt and shiny red satin vest,  I’d stand more likely to pass for a magician, so I usually kept the name tag on. Magicians don’t wear name tags. 

The guests ask you too many questions. They think you live in the same luxury that they’re paying to get a taste of, that you’re afforded the same amenities. They ask if you get a discount on cruises… as if I’d actually pay money to be here. They’re stupid, awful people. This man wasn’t like them, and because of that I liked him. He stood there, flicking ashes from an overpriced, cheap cigarette into the black abyss. I asked if I could borrow a light and he handed me a book of matches, which I found interesting. There’s a story that comes along with a man who carries a book of matches. 

He’d seemed the type to have baggage–the type of baggage that makes you calloused and rough around the edges. When life gives you lemons, these types of guys don’t make lemonade, they just eat the damn lemons. He smirked and spoke through the left side of his mouth, keeping the cigarette clenched between his lips. “You’re gonna’ ask me what I’m doing up at this hour, right?” 

I hadn’t considered it, but it was three in the morning. 

“Nope,” I said, flicking a match and guarding it from the wind as I lit my own cigarette. “I was going to ask you if you noticed the No Smoking sign over there to your right.” 

The man chuckled. “Well, what’s keeping a young magician like yourself up at such late hours?” 

I didn’t resent the comment, it was actually sort of endearing. 

“Bartender,” I corrected, “and my next door neighbors are having a summer fling.” 

“So…envy?” asked the man. 

I gave him a raised eyebrow, as if to say “guess again.”

The man laughed. “Don’t act like you don’t miss her.” 

I was uncomfortable, but intrigued. I scratched my chin. 

“The girl,” he said. “The one you ran away from, the one that’s got you hiding your heartbreak with nihilism. You don’t gotta’ hide it from me, I was in love once too. What was her name again? Marsha… Megan…” 

I interrupted, “Madeline?”

He smiled. “It was on the tip of my tongue. You called her Maddy, right?” 

“How did you know that?” I stammered. 

“I know a lot of things,” he chuckled back.

“Yeah,” I said, “but can you narrow down how you know that thing specifically? Do I know you from somewhere?” 

The man sighed and rolled his eyes, like someone who’d been made to repeat himself more often than not. Thinking back on it now, maybe he had. 

“No, we’ve never met,” he told me. “Though it’s not beneath you to forget someone’s face. It just happens that I know a lot about you. In fact, it’s like I’ve known for my entire life that one day I’d meet you here. Maybe in the back of my mind I’ve even been counting down the days.” 

I swallowed my spit and gripped onto the railing. “That doesn’t really make any more sense of things. So you’ve been following me or something?” 

I took another drag of the cigarette, hoping it’d calm the twisting tubes in my stomach. I was halfway convinced that I’d just stumbled onto some sort of stalker or psychopath standing in wait, the reflection in his bald head not unlike the light of an angler fish. 

He was a burly man, and he had those type of thick hairy forearms that hardly taper before the wrists–the kind reserved for old football players turned gym teachers. I can’t say for sure why I didn’t turn heel and end this borderline unnerving encounter, but something about him made me want to stay. The man broke my train of thought.

“No… I haven’t been following you, but I have been following what happens inside your head.”

He took my skeptical and likely uncomfortable expression as a sign to continue. “I can remember the book you stole from the library when you were fifteen, the bike accident that earned you that scar on your elbow when you were eleven.”

It took me a second to recall both of those memories. I can’t say I was entirely convinced that something beyond reason was happening in that moment, but it was obviously beyond my own understanding of things. These certainly weren’t things that I’d thought a whole lot of people knew about me. I don’t think even Maddy knew about that book I’d stolen, after all I’d sort of forgotten about it over the years. 

“So you’re a psychic or something?” I asked.

He flicked the ash from his cigarette and ran a hand over his bald head. “I’m not a psychic. I can’t really read your mind. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow or the day after that, I can only tell you things from the past that you already know, because I remember them the same way that you do.” 

“So is that what’s keeping you up tonight: remembering the day my dad figured out how to access the browser history on the family computer?” 

“He wasn’t mad…just disappointed”

The man let out a bellowing laugh that took me off guard. 

“Besides,” he said, “we both remember when you stumbled upon his browser history…” 

I laughed and cringed at the memory, but then I wasn’t sure what to say. I cleared my throat. “So can you remember everyone else’s memories?” 

“No, not everyone,” the man said. “Only certain people. For instance, you’re the only person aboard this cruise ship whose life I can recall. There are maybe a few dozen others. Some are more fuzzy than others and some just aren’t ready to be remembered yet.” 

I still wasn’t really able to form my thoughts, this was all just so strange. So instead of giving my brain a second to process any of it, I said something that was probably stupid. “So are you here to set me on the right path or something?” 

The man let out another hearty laugh.

“Not at all,” he said matter-of-factly. “I’m not your guardian angel, though that’s pretty flattering of you to think so. I’m not here to fix you. I’ve never had a knack for putting things back together anyway.” 

I tried to put a bit more thought into my next words, but the moment was just too surreal for me to get any sort of grip on it. “So you’re just on vacation and happened to run into someone whose whole life you can supposedly remember?” 

The man reached in to his pocket and produced an envelope. It was folded in half, and slowly spread out into a long ‘V’ shape. He didn’t bother smoothing the crease, he just handed it to me. He faked a smile. “I’m here because I want you to open this one day when you’re back on shore, hopefully after you’ve found that girl again.” 

I reluctantly took the envelope and tucked it in to my pocket, though part of me told me not to even touch it. The man reached down for a bottle of whiskey that I’d somehow missed. 

“Now,” he said, “let’s talk about something else for a while.”

As time passed and we spoke, his tone shifted. He told me stories, most of them being my own stories, forgotten and tucked away deep into my hippocampus like magical little spider eggs that hatched into stories I’d wished I could have remembered well enough to retell over the years. 

He reminded me of a time in middle school. It was Valentine’s day and my mom had forced me to bring a box of chocolates to my teacher, Misses Plick. The kids in class teased me for the rest of the day, calling me Mister Plick and asking if we were going to kiss and hold hands. What makes it all the more amusing is that I had all but forgotten that I actually did sort of have a crush on Misses Plick, and I didn’t really mind those playground insults. I’d forgotten all about it–that is until the man reminded me of it. He reminded me of how fascinated I was with Misses Plick’s fiery red hair… the same type of hair Maddy had.

I’d guessed Maddy probably still had that same fiery red hair, but sometimes it’s hard to talk about the partners of past relationships in present tense. It’s way too easy to get into the habit of talking about people like they’re dead or something. Maybe it’s easier to imagine someone no longer exists than it is to come to grips with the fact that they just no longer want to exist near you

Either way, I was happy to relive the memory of Misses Plick, and in that moment I felt like I had shared something special with the man. It felt kind of magical and I pretty much forgot about how unnerved I was at our introduction or about that brief moment of seriousness when he handed me that envelope. Actually, after a couple pulls from his whiskey bottle and a few shared laughs I’d started to see him as a friend. 

Soon enough the sun was rising and shades of pink, purple, and orange were seeping over the edges of grey and white clouds. Bloated, hungover guests would soon be groaning in their beds and pulling the curtains closed to get just another hour or two of sleep. I was afraid that our conversation was nearly over. We’d spent all night laughing and talking and I wasn’t quite ready for it to end, but the stories and laughs were beginning to be followed by deeper sighs and increasingly longer lulls in conversation. I broke the silence in the pause we were sharing, watching the sun seep through the stucco clouds.

“Can I ask you something?” 

The man didn’t turn to me, his eyes still settled on the sky and the shifting waves of the ocean. “Sure,” he told me. 

I took a deep breath. “Did you know I was planning to kill myself?” 

The man looked at me with soft and sympathetic smile. “I didn’t want to make any assumptions” 

He sighed, scratched his scruffy chin, and ground down his cigarette butt with his shoe before capping off the whiskey bottle. With that the man began his walk back to his cabin. 

“So that’s it?” I shouted out to him.

He looked back one last time. “Get some sleep, kid.”

For a while that was the end of the story. I met a strange and interesting man on a cruise ship who wasn’t a psychic but could remember all of my memories. It was a story I’d have to wait until I was a drunk old man to ever tell–though I guess now I’m telling it you and I’m still young and somewhat sober. 

When we reached shore I quit my job as a bartender and flew back to my parents’ house in California. It wasn’t until I was unpacking my bags that I found the letter and recalled what the man had said that night when he’d given it to me. I’d waited and I was back on shore and far away from that cruise ship. I wasn’t with Madeline though. She’d moved on in my absence, and I was okay with that. I hadn’t really gotten over it while I was on that ship, even if I’d thought I had. That was never my new beginning, it was only a place for me to stagnate and distract myself from my feelings. Sitting there on my childhood bed in my parents house and holding that envelope and coming to terms with things… that was my new beginning. 

It occurred to me that I was hesitant to open it. Not because it was some mysterious letter from a psychic man, but because I wasn’t sure what it would say and that made me nervous. I wish I could say it was a letter congratulating me for finding the strength to start over, or reminding me of the night that man somehow convinced me not to kill myself without even trying; just by being someone who was there when I just needed someone to be there. 

However, it wasn’t. What was inside soured everything from that night: twisted and distorted all of it and tainted every bit of what was an otherwise perfect memory. I’ve tried to forget about it. I’ve kept the letter stashed away in the bottom of a desk drawer full of forgotten papers and dried up ballpoint pens. 

It’s hard to think about that night without thinking about the letter and it’s contents. I am a different person than I was then, and I try not to dwell on things. I’d like to remember that night fondly and cherish it in my memories but now I do my best to block it all out. I’ve added it as a separate attachment to this email, so I’m hoping you didn’t read that one first. I hope this helps and I hope you can make some kind of sense of it. I think after I scan it and send it over I might burn it.

Attached to this document, as promised, was the letter from the man. The second document is handwritten. The handwriting wasn’t the best, and I had to transcribe it before reading it aloud, and at parts I had to rely on context and make out an approximation of what some of the words might have been. 

Nevertheless, it reads as follows.

Tyler, I’m sorry to burden you with this, but I’m afraid the story I’m about to tell you is something that I don’t think many others will believe. I haven’t met you yet, but I’m trusting while writing this that you’ve given me a chance to speak with you and you’ll give me a second chance to speak to you through this letter. 

I’m afraid that my time here is almost over and if I don’t make a decision soon then my fate will be decided for me. Because of that I’ve decided to end things on my own terms here on this cruise ship. The water is beautiful and I’d to see what’s at the bottom of it. By the time you read this, that’s where I will be. 

Before I move on from all of this, I’d like to share with just one living soul why I’m making this decision and it seemed natural that one person should be you, Tyler. After all, I know everything about you and I’ve watched you and grown with you in my mind for a very long time. We have a lot of things in common and I’ve grown to think of you as a close friend that I keep inside my head. I’m sorry if that sounds strange.

I hope in reading this you’ll understand why I’m making this choice for myself, and I hope it won’t hurt you for me to say goodbye this way. You’re the only person I feel like I have on this earth that I could say goodbye to and you don’t even really know who I am. I’m sorry for that. If you want, you can stop reading this letter now. I’d like to tell my story and share with someone what’s driven me to do what I’m going to do, but I understand if that’s too much to ask.

It all started with a dream. It’s funny, the first time I experienced it I was on the water just like I am now, only I was on a lake in a small rowboat. All around me were these floating balls of weeds and fluff, only when I looked closer I realized they were heads of human hair. The water was murky but if I strained I could make out their necks and shoulders. 

There were people, seemingly standing at the bottom of this lake, all around me, so much so that they left no space between them. Shoulder to shoulder, hundreds of people stood in every direction, perfectly still, the very top of their heads just above the water. I wasn’t sure if the water was shallow or if they were floating, but they didn’t seem to make any effort to stay afloat nor did their bodies bob up and down or shift in any direction. It occurred to me that they could’ve also had unnaturally long legs–boney and stretched down to the silt at the bottom of this lake. 

Slowly, the ones closest to my small boat reached out with their hands and began to push the boat forward. Gradually I began to move across the top of this lake of people, each group progressively reaching out to push the boat just a bit further towards the next group of people. As the boat traveled I could hear it smacking and scraping along their heads, necks sometimes snapping as the boat pushed over their shoulders. 

A man rose from the crowd in front of me, a half dozen hands gathered around his ankles and holding him in place. He wore a khaki suit–form fitting, but reminiscent of something I might have seen in the seventies, and complete with a matching hat. His face was a swirling blur, sort of like I was looking at it through an out-of-focus fish-eye lens. Dripping bits of moss clung to his shoulders and across the brim of his hat. The man reached his arm up and waved to me as if I was an old friend.

I’d been so entranced by the man and his strange and performative rise from the water that I hadn’t noticed the boat I was in was slowly moving towards him. I didn’t want to get any closer and so I tried to rock the boat away from the grip of the people in the water. When that didn’t work I tried to pry at their fingers. I could hear the man laughing from afar, knowing that I’d have no choice but to soon be in his company. 

In a desperate plea I jumped from the boat. I’d expected the people to maybe grab at me and pull me back towards the boat or maybe drag my kicking body towards the man, but that wasn’t what happened. Instead they pushed my head under the water. A dozen arms from every direction held me down as I struggled, gurgling and trying to scream but only inhaling the murky pond water in to my lungs. 

I woke up from that nightmare gagging as I coughed out water and expelled it from my stomach and lungs onto the carpet of my bedroom. It had been a dream, but unlike any other dream I’d ever experienced. I spent the remainder of the night in shock, my stomach rolling and occasionally heaving up more water and muck. 

The sun eventually rose, and still dazed from an evening of horror and hacking up yellow mucus and stale pond water, I got dressed and ready for work. I live alone, and my studio apartment stank of stagnant water and mud. My walk was uneventful, but as I went to board the subway I found myself alone on the platform. The train pulled to a stop a few minutes earlier than usual, it’s brakes squealing and shrieking out into the tunnels at either side. 

The doors hissed open and people began to exit the train. While this usually takes a few minutes, it seemed to be taking much longer than usual, and oddly the people exiting the train were all just standing idly. Nobody was exiting the platform and it was beginning to fill up with various ordinary looking strangers. I moved to abandon the subway altogether, but the exit seemed to have disappeared, and in its place was a flat concrete wall. It was plastered with blank white posters and plaques, placed where you might expect to see advertisements or a train schedule. It was as if someone recreated what a typical wall might look like on a subway platform, but didn’t bother to fill in any of the details. 

With the exit having disappeared, I was stuck there as more and more people made their way off of the train and their bodies shifted closer and closer to me to make room. Something like an hour went by with a steady line of people exiting the train. More people were here now than what could’ve ever fit on that train, and still they just kept coming, quietly and single file, with no one person acknowledging another. 

When the final person exited the train, I was smashed against the people around me and almost unable to move. With all of my strength I pushed through them, their elbows painfully pressing against my stomach and ribs and into my back as I made my way towards one of the now empty subway cars. I found that my t-shirt was now torn and stretched from having pushed through the tight crowd of people, and hung loosely from my body. 

The fluorescent lights inside the passenger car blinked rapidly and gave the seats and walls a greenish yellow tinge with each flash. The inside of the car was filthy and dilapidated. The seats were grimy and torn, and rust came down in lines beneath the metal screws that held the panels in place. The floors were covered in mud, bits of crumpled paper, and empty plastic bottles. 

The man in the khaki suit stood before me in the distance. He raised his arm and waved. 

I woke up this time on the train, only it seemed ordinary. It certainly wasn’t clean, but it was a stark contrast to its previous state. Passengers talked amongst one another and rap music was playing from someone’s cell phone somewhere behind me. My shirt was sagging and torn and my body ached. It had to have been real, but then… maybe it wasn’t. Maybe I was losing my mind. 

Weeks went by, littered with similar incidents. Each time I found it more difficult to separate these dreams from reality and each time I’d seen that man in the khaki suit. I remember sitting at my desk when the phone rang. I picked it up only to hear static on the other end… and then a voice.

“You’ve forgotten about me,” it told me. “You’ve forgotten about all of us. Forgotten what they did to us.” 

I looked around me only to see what my desk wasn’t in my cubicle anymore. It was in some sort of daycare setting, only it felt cold and sterile. There was a large mirror panel that made up most of one of the walls. I could guess that the other side of that mirror was a window into this room I was in. On the other wall was a large chalkboard and on it were the words, “You are not a psychic.” 

None of it made any sense but it all felt so familiar… like I’d been here as a child and–like the voice had said–I’d forgotten it. The door opened and the man in the khaki suit stepped inside. He reached his arm up and waved to me, and then he snapped his fingers. I woke up at my desk again, feeling nauseous and unable to stop the raging panic in my chest. I passed out again and when I woke up I was in a hospital. 

I’d apparently had a heart attack, and one of my coworkers had called nine one one. They said I could’ve died. They said I was lucky. I wasn’t so sure. 

It’s been like that for long enough. Every night and every day, more terror… more terrible memories that I can’t quite make any sense of. I can’t tell what’s real anymore. I can’t sleep without having more of these visions, each one more terrifying than the last. The man with the khaki suit… I can’t tell if he’s trying to kill me or help me remember something. Something tells me it’s both. He wants me to remember what happened all those years ago and he wants me to die with that memory. 

I don’t want to live like this anymore. I don’t want to remember. I don’t want to die at his hand. I’m giving up. Whatever secrets are locked inside my head will be lost forever at the bottom of this ocean. I’m sorry to tell you all of this, Tyler. I want you to have a good life. I want you to go home and marry that girl and be the person you want to be. You’re strong in ways that I can never be, you just have to find it inside yourself. 

Thanks for being the friend that I keep inside my head.

The letter ends there, but there’s so much to take away from it. 

The man with the khaki suit: he was there, but was he the same person we were looking for? While I have a hard time believing there could be more the one dream killer, I can’t help but wonder if it’s the same person or if the current murderer is just using the same methods. 

This daycare… the words on the chalkboard. “You are not a psychic.” Maybe I’m reaching a bit, but did this have anything to do with Hydra? Was this all some sort of experiment? Is this the secret in unlocking the past of Dream Killer, or is this some sort of way to help figure out who he’s going to kill next? 

I don’t know how old the man on the ship was either. Was he one of these children, being told not to identify as a psychic, or was he on the other side of the glass. His abilities seem to suggest the former, but there’s really no way of knowing without finding more information. 

I guess for now this raises more questions than answers. Maybe if we can find Tyler we can find more information. Maybe the man said something else that they didn’t think to include. Until I can untangle all of this, I think I’m going to leave the episode here. That might not be the most satisfying conclusion, but it’s the best I’ve got for now. 

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you again in two weeks.

A Worn Out Welcome – Season 3 Episode 13

See Content Warnings
Suicidal ideation. If you, or someone you know needs help, call 800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
Need to skip this episode? Click here to see the plot.
Jeremy finds an unopened letter in the storage papers addressed to Ron.
Inside, Janet Montgomery Hill tells Ron about a supernatural experience she has when she visits an old, defunct dam. She encounters what appears to be the ghost of a woman, Eugenia Smith. She will answer some questions and appears to be looking for her lover named William. Then, every day, she jumps through the railing and a splash is heard, but a lake no longer exists at the bottom of the dam.
Jeremy ponders what led Ron to abandon the papers, and what his future has in store.

I guess they wouldn’t call things “paranormal” if they could be explained.  Within the last ten years, interest in the supernatural has exploded in American culture, and there are now dozens of television series, and seemingly entire channels dedicated to following investigators’ attempts to document evidence of ghosts.  You’d think with all of the attention ghosts get, we’d have learned more about them by now.  Everyone thinks they’re an expert, with their own opinions about how to communicate with them or lure them out of whatever comfort zone they may occupy in order to interact with us, but what have we really learned?  

Today’s account comes from a woman who embraced what she didn’t understand in an effort to learn from it, which is always an admirable trait in my opinion.  What caught my eye with this letter compared to some of the other documents in this folder is, though it was addressed to Ron in October, twenty eighteen, around nine or ten months before I came into possession of The Storage Papers, it hadn’t been opened yet.  So I opened it.  It reads as follows.

Dear Ron,

I received your contact information from a dear friend of mine, Marjorie, who you apparently assisted a few years ago with the very strange circumstances surrounding the frequent disappearance of her cats every few nights.  Though she never really explained what happened to cause her to move out of state, she promised me that she would tell me her story soon.  She also told me to reach out to you when I described some of the strange experiences I have been having on a recurring basis here in San Diego.  

Please keep in mind, I’m not necessarily seeking help for a problem, as I understand that’s what you specialize in.  In fact, I quite welcome the experiences I’m having.  But I suppose I’d like to get your opinion since you have a reputation for looking into such things, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable sharing this story with any of my other local friends, my children, or my neighbors, who all worry about me.  They’d probably send me to a nursing home for good if they knew what I’ve been seeing.  I suppose I should explain what that is exactly and get to the point.

Just about one year ago, my legs began swelling quite a bit, which was quite painful.  The doctors told me I was too sedentary in my lifestyle and my diet was poor.  They said I needed less sodium and gave me some recommendations for what I should be eating.  They also said I was at risk for developing blood clots, so they encouraged me to start walking daily.  I needed a physical therapist to help me at first, but after a while, I got up to walking fifteen minutes a day outside, up to thirty, then an hour, and now I’m walking as much as two hours a day.  Sometimes I go for multiple walks each day in the hiking trails around my neighborhood when I’m up for a challenge.  I’d say without reservation that I may be more fit now than a majority of the youngsters I see walking around here, which is really something… well, to me at least.  Forgive me for rambling, but this part is quite necessary.

One of my favorite trails is a longer trail that leads to an old dam that was built in the eighteen hundreds.  Of course, there’s no water now, and it’s nothing like the Hoover Dam in size or construction.  No, it’s only about twenty-five feet from the top of the dam to the bottom of what used to be a small reservoir, but now is just dry land.  At some point, the city placed a hand-rail at the top of the dam for safety, and I like to go out there and just spend some time stopping and listening to nature around me.  Very few people walk that trail, and I find it so peaceful there.  

A few months ago when I had walked there and taken the opportunity to rest, I was leaning on the rail and looking out into the distance at a beautiful bright-colored bird I hadn’t seen before.  My attention was so focused on that bird that I didn’t notice the person standing near me.  I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, and when I turned to look, there was an elderly woman standing there staring at me.  She had to be ten or fifteen years older than me, and the first thought that crossed my mind was how did she get here?  You see, she looked a bit hunched over, with a rounded back, and it looked to me like the simple act of standing upright was very difficult for her.  

Her body had been facing out over the drop off, the same direction I was facing while watching the bird.  But I think the movement that caught my attention was when she turned her head towards me.  I wasn’t necessarily startled or anything, but I hadn’t noticed her when I got there, and after standing there in silence for a little while I hadn’t noticed her approach either, let alone any other hikers that I might seldomly run into.

I approached her and said, “Hello, I didn’t see you there.”

She smiled weakly, and then started fidgeting with her hands.  She looked at me, and then out toward the drop-off, and then back at me again.  She seemed to be hesitating about what she would do next, and she was mumbling something unintelligible.  The closer I got, the more attention she paid to me instead of looking out over the railing, and I could see more of her features.  She was shorter than me, perhaps five foot two or so, and she had silver hair that was long and wrapped into a bun.  I know it was long because it was a large bun!  Deep lines cratered her face, and wore confusion and worry across her face more than anything else.  I was concerned about her distress as I watched her continue wringing her hands.

I said, “Are you okay?  Do you need help?”

She didn’t seem to have the ability to focus on my face, but would look in my general direction.  “No, thank you,” she said.

“Have you seen my William?” she asked.

I informed her I hadn’t, and right as I was about to step closer to her and ask more questions to try to help her, she turned her head to look out over the railing and took one swift step forward, and plunged over the side.  I recall hearing a large splash a moment later, as if she fell into a lake below.

My senses hadn’t caught up to me just yet, and I looked over the railing before I remembered there wasn’t any water there, though I definitely heard a splash.  And then I realized I was leaning on the metal railing with my weight, and it seemed very sturdy.  I followed the railing toward where I saw her standing, and its integrity was intact to that point and well beyond.  A person would need to go above or below the railing to get past it if they really wanted to, and I just observed the woman walk right through it like it wasn’t even there.  That’s when I knew I had witnessed something special.

It took me a few days before I got the courage to go up there again, but when I did, she revealed herself to me yet again.  I noticed her standing there before I even approached the dam this time, and I treaded carefully toward her once I reached the top.  With my hand on the rail, I walked slowly toward her at the other end of the dam, and she expressed the same mannerisms with an equal blend of anxiety and preoccupation.  Looking back, it’s kind of funny because I was approaching her so sneakily, like I was going to scare her off or something.  Silly me, thinking I’m going to be the one to scare a ghost!

Again, when I got close to her, she turned her head towards me.  She had that same worried expression in her eyes, and her hands were still fidgeting.  Again she said, “Have you seen my William?”

My encounter with the woman ended the same way as I attempted to approach her that day, unfortunately.  After that, I got a few ideas and began to experiment.  

Each day following, I would try a new approach.  Some days, I would try to speak to her from a distance, and I noticed I could squeeze in a question or two and most of the time I’d get a response from her.  But every encounter resulted in her walking over the edge of the dam, and I wouldn’t have an opportunity to speak with her until the following day, no matter how long I lingered about.  Of course, there have been days where other hikers have been around, and she hasn’t revealed herself to me in their presence, so I’m feeling a little bit like the whole ordeal could be happening in my mind.  

There’s one more detail that is somewhat confusing to me.  I’ve done some reading on hauntings, and know the difference between an intelligent haunt, where a ghost seemingly is aware of their surroundings and answers questions… and a residual haunt, where the ghost may be observed performing some kind of task or activity repetitively, seemingly unaware of their surroundings or any onlookers.  My experiences with this woman seem to align somewhere in the middle.  As I’ve shared, she will answer questions, and looks in my general direction when speaking, however, she doesn’t seem to remember me between visits.  Every single time I initiate a conversation, it’s like the first time she has met me.  I have to introduce myself to her before I can further interact, and sometimes she says things the same way she may have previously said them, like it’s her first time telling me.  I just don’t know what to make of it.

You must understand that I’ve been interacting with her for months, in this seemingly mundane routine, just for a brief opportunity to interact with her.  I previously felt no need to even tell anyone about our encounters.  She hadn’t really scared me at all.  I thought the whole thing was pretty neat and her behavior had been quite predictable… until two weeks ago.  I had been asleep and thought I was dreaming when I heard that splashing sound that happens after she walks over the edge of the dam.  It’s not uncommon for me to have dreams about our interactions.  I mean, I was basically experiencing this every single day, but this time when I heard the splash and opened my eyes, she was there, standing right next to my bed soaking wet.  Her expression has changed into terror, and she appeared to be screaming, though no audible words were coming out of her mouth.  And then, she just faded into the darkness.  Of course, I thought it might be a dream, but when I got out of bed to walk to the light switch, the carpet next to my bed was soaked through, soggy with lake water and stained muddy.

The people close to me would just call my doctor if I told them about this, but she appears to me nightly now, in my own home.  I’ve tried sleeping in different areas in the house, but no matter what room I sleep in, she appears there, and I have the floor damage to prove it. 

When I was approaching her on the dam, I gathered some information during my brief daily conversations with her.  I was hoping, if you could spare the time, to see what you could find out about her and why she might be showing herself to me in my home in this frightened state now.  I am genuinely concerned for her and fear she may be in some kind of danger I am simply unable to perceive.  Or, if for no other reason, I was hoping you could take my case to ensure I’m not in any kind of danger, or if you could just make me feel like I’m not crazy in my old age.

It’s not much, but here is a list of a few things I’ve learned throughout my conversations with her at the dam that might help you to validate some factual information about her from when she was alive.  Her name is Eugenia Smith.  She believes the current year is eighteen fifty-eight.  She is looking for her long lost lover, William (I haven’t been able to acquire his last name – she never answers me when I ask).  She believes this William to be in his twenties, which is peculiar to me since she appears much older.  She believes William is of Spanish descent.

I know this isn’t much to go on, but I could certainly use your help.  If you do have the time, I sure would like to know more.  Admittedly, I’m scared for her as well as myself now.  I’m very much looking forward to your response.


Janet Montgomery Hill

Normally, this is where Ron might have some notes of his own, some commentary or just an opinion.  It seems incomplete in a sense because if you’re like me, I want to know what happened after.  What else was learned in the course of the investigation?  Was the situation resolved?  In some ways though, it gives us some insight into how it must feel to be Ron, receiving letters and other documents with limited information, and being asked to fill in the gaps and follow up.

In some ways I could see the appeal and one might say the excitement at an opportunity to look into these kinds of things.  But it also makes me wonder more about the specifics of Ron’s timeline.  When exactly did he abandon his storage unit and Private Investigator gig to do… whatever it is he’s been doing?  Part of me wants to follow up on this letter to see if I could help, but I believe that may be crossing a line.  Still, it makes me wonder what the future might have in store for me.

Thank you for listening to The Storage Papers.

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.