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Thank you for tuning in to the Storage Papers. I just want to apologize in advance if this week’s episode is a bit…off-kilter. I haven’t had much sleep in the past few days – for obvious reasons – and I have to admit that I’m also not really sure where to start.
Two days ago I woke up to a box on my doorstep. I can’t be sure what time it arrived, but if it weren’t for the labeling from the mail carrier I might’ve thought the sender had just placed it on my doorstep personally. But there it sat; a dented cardboard box, looped with plastic packing tape, with my name and address written on it in bold black marker.
It sat on my kitchen counter while I poured a cup of coffee and stared at it with dreadful curiosity. I can’t really explain why – maybe because there wasn’t a return address, maybe because I wasn’t expecting anything – but I just knew it wasn’t an ordinary package – and I was right, it wasn’t.
Inside of the box was a stack of maybe a half dozen spiral notebooks, a few manila envelopes, and an antique leather bound book. There was also a folded sheet of paper with my name written across it with what was probably the same black marker that labeled the package.
There’s a lot of material here, and while I’d like to share everything with you, there’s just too much to go over and much here that I haven’t yet looked over myself. Instead I’ll share with you a bit of what I’ve gathered so far.
I’ll start with the note I found at the top of the box:
First things first…don’t open the book. I’ve sent you a few reference materials for you to go over, but that book is not one of them. It’s dangerous – there are things in there that people like you and I aren’t meant to look at. I’m asking you to keep it safe. I have no reason to trust that you are capable of doing this, but I’m vastly running out of options.
The spiral notebooks belonged to Malcolm Foye, or as you may know him by now…the Grinner. I’ve read through them and highlighted everything that looks important. There are also some files scattered about in there that you ought to look over.
You’re just as fucked as the rest of us now, so I think you ought to know what we are up against.
I’m asking you very nicely not to fuck this up. I went through a lot of trouble getting this stuff and at some point I might want it back, so don’t do anything stupid like leave it in a storage locker and forget to pay the bill.
The note is just signed ‘…Anderson’, which if I had to guess is detective Mark Anderson. I can’t say his tone isn’t somewhat warranted, though it did sort of catch me off guard.
There’s definitely a lot of material, and there’s no clear order to it- there really isn’t any sort of narrative here- but Detective Anderson has left me some bread crumbs to follow: I’ll explain more as we go along.
I’m going to start with the very first thing in the box.
The following is an excerpt from the Journal of Malcom Foye. It looks to be dated from his childhood.
There’s something I’ve never had the courage to tell you, not even in these imaginary letters – all these confessions I’ve made to your nothingness.
I’m not sure why this is so hard to write down. Maybe because putting it on paper hurts the most…it makes it feel more real. I think I lean on the therapy, lean on reality- everyone trying and failing to keep me grounded- because they offer just a little bit of doubt. They allow me to think I’m crazy, and I take comfort in that. Some days I can convince myself that they are right…that you were never real.
What I want to tell you Tabbie, is that when you disappeared…I wasn’t the only person that mourned you; our grandfather mourned you too.
Never outwardly of course, but I could see the pain and sadness in his watery eyes, swirling with seething rage and disappointment. He knew what I had done. I’ll never know how, but he knew and he knew that there was no getting you back. He stopped talking to me after that.
I just wanted you to know he remembered you…he loved you and he remembered you.
They sent me away…after he did what he did to himself. They used his death as a scapegoat for why I had my mental breakdown. At times I’m grateful for what he did – taking our secret with him to wherever it is you go when you do…that.
I just wanted to tell you that, Tabitha. I think I’m done saying sorry for now.
There’s a sticky note on this page that just says ‘one’. Flipping through the file folders, there’s a corresponding sticky note on with a large number one etched on it in black marker, and the contents are as follows (I’ve removed some of the identifying details after some sound advice from one of our listeners, but I’d like you to take note of Malcolm’s therapist Dr. Adhira Patel – I’ll talk more about her in a bit):
Clinical notes from the office of Dr. Adhira Patel regarding Malcolm Foye, age 16.
Talking to Malcolm proved to be difficult and provided little understanding of his dilemma.
Malcolm is intelligent, and not just in the traditional sense, he’s very emotionally intelligent. He has a knack for picking up and understanding people’s feelings and intentions and he shows a large degree of empathy. He does well in school, frequently volunteers in his father’s church services, and spends time caring for his ailing grandfather. He is what most would describe as a good kid.
The focal point of Malcolm’s visit to my office today is his fixation on the belief that he has caused a non-existent sibling to disappear. After a series of emotional outbursts, a discovery of what his mother describes as strange nonsensical writings and diagrams, and a concern that he may be responsible for the disappearance of the family dog, Malcolm’s mother brought him to my office for what she calls a “mental check-up”.
Despite being fidgety and under what seems to be extreme duress, Malcolm was quite articulate. However, he was still less than willing to elaborate more on his story or discuss his strange behaviors at home, instead opting to ask me personal questions about my career and my husband and children.
As benign as these questions may have been, it became clear to me that he was running out my clock– asking questions that led to more off-topic conversation and relying my politeness to answer them. It was admittedly very clever, though I believe he knew I was fully aware of what he was doing.
With some resistance I was able to steer our discussion back towards the reason he was visiting my office. He briefly, and almost nonchalantly, described finding a book at his grandfather’s estate, and reading a passage from it which he claims was an incantation that made his sister disappear.
I pressed him for more details, asking questions about his writing and the family dog, but he very cleverly dodged those questions with inquiries of his own. I asked him how he could so casually explain something that was so obviously stressful to him and he answered that with another one of his questions.
“Do you believe my story?” he asked me.
I replied that I was not sure.
His emotional response was non-existent. He simply nodded his head and rolled his eyes. “Exactly” he said under his breath.
Barring any scheduling conflicts or more concerning changes in his behavior, I will make another attempt to drive our discussion more towards Malcolm’s personal issues next week. I believe he stands to be a very interesting case study.
I’d like to talk more about Malcolm’s therapist – in fact I’ve uncovered something I think is quite interesting that I’ll get in to in a bit – but for now I’m going to put a pin in it, and finish going over some more of Malcolm’s journal entries as well as some of the other contents from the box. I don’t really mean to build suspense, I just want you to keep her in the back of your mind.
This is a later entry. The notebook is ragged and most of the entries seem to be torn out, leaving thick gaps between the pages. It reads as follows:
I did something really bad. I was afraid you would come back wrong or I’d mess it all up – make the same mistakes all over again…so I did an experiment.
I brought our dog, Bagel, up to my bedroom. I sat with him for a while – something close to an hour – and I held him close to my chest. I let him listen to my heartbeat while I ran my fingers over his velvety ears and down his back. It’s funny, I think I knew in my heart that it wouldn’t work, because I told him I was sorry.
I let go of him and I stood up – over him – closing my eyes and pushing the tears out of place and letting them roll down my chin. I lit the candles and I stared off to the corner at the box of salt…the loose piece of white chalk…the god forsaken book…and then I said the incantation.
I didn’t have to read it from the book…after I spoke those words the first time they never left my head. The night I read it from the book – the night I made you disappear – it stuck to me; looped itself around my every thought.
But it wasn’t the same. Nothing happened. I thought maybe I’d done it wrong and so I flipped through the book until I found the page. I read it again, this time directly from the book, and again…absolutely nothing happened. Bagel sat there as if nothing had changed.
I wanted to see what would happen if I made Bagel disappear…what would happen if I tried to bring him back…if he would be the same…if everyone would remember him again…
He broke the circle of salt and pawed at my bedroom door until I let him go, and after that I cried myself to sleep.
The next morning I found what was left of Bagel in the backyard. He was ripped to pieces. His body was stiff – jagged pink rib bones snapped to pieces
…lukewarm intestines pulled apart and strewn across the frozen grass like ribbon and jelly…so much blood…
I knew that whatever had happened to him was my fault. I buried him in a trash bag behind the shed.
I’m sorry Tabbie, I know you loved that dog.
I’d really like to say that was the most disturbing thing I found in Malcolm’s journals, and for some of you I’m sure it is, but there’s much worse things in these journals – things that I’m not quite sure if I should share on this podcast. I guess time will tell.
For now, I think if there’s really a motive for this episode it’s to take a look into the mind of Malcolm Foye. And if we are to get the most accurate glimpse in to that world, I think it would be best to skip ahead just a bit, to some of the most recent entries in Malcolm’s journals.
As an aside, I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve been referring to Malcolm by his real name and not…the Grinner. That’s sort of intentional. There’s a lot we need to learn about the Grinner and to be completely clear I won’t mince words in saying that Malcolm and the Grinner are one in the same, but in this instance I think it’s vital that we put a wall between the two for now and focus on the man, not…whatever he is now.
I’m rambling a bit, and I apologize. I’ve been a bit all over the place with this one and you’ll have to forgive me. I don’t really have a script here…nothing is really very organized. I’m just a man lost in a sea of notebooks and folders. I’ll try to get back on track.
The final entries I’ll be sharing with you in this episode are the most recent. This journal was at the very bottom of the box. It’s less weathered than the others and the entries are much more sporadic – jumping forward in larger and larger spaces of time. Going by the dates, it took Malcolm a little over a year to finish this one.
I know where I put you Tabbie. I know where they all are now…swimming in a blanket of flesh.
Its new flesh– pink… still twitching and slick and marked with blue veins. Rising and falling with every breath, the walls closing in and swirling around you and squeezing until your lungs feel like they’re going to burst. Every direction is up. Tiny little teeth gnashing in your ears. *pop pop pop!*
Don’t you love it?
I saw you there, playing in the fields of blinking eyes, the lashes tickling your ankles. You were twirling and you looked so beautiful, but you were inside out. The sun was a beating heart and the moon was made of jagged bone. You did another pirouette and then a curtsy as you gestured for me to come closer.
You skipped away and I tried to follow, but the ground had stolen my feet. Hundreds of hands made of sparkling pink flesh had started sewing me in place – using my veins as thread – looping my intestines around their fingers. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t come to you as I watched you disappear beyond the twitching fleshy horizon.
I could feel my skin begin to blister and pop, my teeth stretching…pushing further and further until I felt my molars wrap around my neck, and the world turned grey as my eyes turned to calcified bone.
I was so stupid to have almost forgotten you.
I’m really not sure what to take away from this entry. Malcolm’s mind is like a puzzle made up of pieces from a dozen other puzzles – no matter how much you try to piece it all together, its all just a jumbled up confusing mess. At risk of going on another tangent, lets just go ahead and get in to the final journal entry I’d like to share with you this week.
To have so much power and such utter futility…
In my research today I came across an account from 18th century Poland in which an onlooker describes watching a woman burn for witchcraft. There’s no twist at the end where she escapes her captors and flies away, or casts some curse and vows to seek vengeance. Just an innocent woman pleading for her life until her chokes and screams are smothered and suffocated by smoke and crackling fire.
I see myself in both of them. The witch burning away into black nothing, and the man watching her burn with indifference.
I know what I’m doing to myself and I know in so many ways it’s all for nothing. I am the onlooker and I am the witch…watching myself burn…studying myself as I blister and char my ashes whisper away with the wind.
I have to admit that I have a bit of trouble remaining objective regarding that last entry. It is the last entry in the very last journal. If you’ll allow me to speculate, I think that, as confusing and convoluted as it may be, this is some acknowledgement that Malcolm is very much aware that what he is doing. What he is…is killing him. What I’m most curious about is how much of Malcolm is the spectator…and how much remains of the burning witch.
Perhaps more compelling than Malcolm’s journals is a folder I found in the box labeled -once again- with a single yellow sticky note… this time it just had an exclamation point on it. The sticky notes admittedly seem odd, maybe a bit too simple given our set of circumstances, but I really can’t argue with their effectiveness. Detective Anderson obviously thought this particular set of materials was pertinent to our sort of pseudo investigation into Malcolm, and after going over its contents I can see why.
There are some pages that are fully redacted as well as sections that are so full of redactions that I can’t quite make sense of them. Parts that are what I believe to be names, dates, and locations are also mostly redacted – struck through with marker or black tape before being run through a photo-copier. There is something I think they missed, but I’ll go over that later. I’ll be skipping over the portions I can’t make sense of and continuing to follow the trail of Detective Anderson’s yellow highlighter.
Project Hydra: Department of Extrasensory Research
Subject file 22-14: Joseph Michael Foye
There seems to be a bit of a disclaimer.
Note: This document is to be considered a placeholder and will be subject to destruction following a more in-depth report of Subject 22-14 and/or the allocation of Project Hydra’s previous notes on Subject 22-14. This document is not finalized and has not been submitted to the board for approval.
Subject 22-14 is both incredibly dangerous and objectively quite harmless.
He is more than cooperative during our interactions and at this point he is considered a safe and relatively low risk asset, though due to the nature of his abilities this assessment could prove questionable. It should be noted that subjects similar to that of 22-14 are not typically allowed to enter and leave this facility on their own volition and for that 22-14 is an exception.
Our initial discovery of 22-14 and his abilities is thus far a mystery for our department. His initial subject file and subsequent case studies are currently being held above this department’s clearance and as of yet all requests to access said materials have been denied. However, our staff has been forwarded Joseph’s contact details and been given permission to study him, which has proven to be both moderately fruitful and quite compelling.
Joseph’s talent stems from his ability to perform what he believes is magic. Though this makes for quite a leap for this department, by a matter of practicality we have chosen to remain skeptical of this assertion, despite its appearance to defy current scientific explanation.
Joseph has allowed us to both observe and scrutinize a number of his so called spells or incantations, and as of the drafting of this document, our faculty is still in much debate as to their legitimacy.
Examples of observations in this facility include:
Records for each observance are to be included with this document at all times.
Our team has also been granted permission by Joseph to study a small portion of his self proclaimed library of spell books, but as of the drafting this document we have not been granted approval from our chief of staff to do so.
Addendum: All research on Subject 22-14 is to be terminated immediately and the subject is no longer to be contacted by any means. This file will now be considered a finalized document. All inquiries regarding Subject 22-14 are to be directed–
Of course, as I mentioned before, there’s more to this set of documents…I just can’t read it. But here’s where things get interesting…remember when I said things like names and dates are mostly redacted? Well everything that was meant to be redacted has been successfully obscured. I have no doubts in this agency’s efficiency in that regard. But there’s something on the second page that wasn’t meant to be there.
It was after going over this set of documents, that I sat up to get myself another cup of coffee and noticed the marks on the second page. It looked as if someone had been doing some writing on another page on top of this one, and they’d heavy handedly left behind some indentations.
I skimmed a pencil across the page to reveal the letters, which turned out to be a set of initials and dates spanning the length of the document and much more importantly – a signature on the bottom. It looked to be some sort of checklist or sign out sheet but I cant be sure without seeing whatever document they were signing off on.
The initials varied, but the two I saw the most were “CB” and “AP” and at the bottom in cursive was the signature of Dr. Adhira Patel.
If you recall, I asked that we put a pin in Malcolm’s therapist, and this is why. I won’t lie to you, I have every reason to believe that this is the same person.
There’s a lot to consider and I know this raises a lot of questions, but I think it would be smart to hold on to those speculations for now. We can’t say for certain how those marks got there or what any of it means just yet. As difficult as it is to say this – because it seems so obvious – I’m still hesitant to draw that particular connection between Malcolm and Project Hydra.
However, there is one more thing about these documents that I’ve held off on mentioning – Detective Anderson’s pale yellow sticky note on the first page. As you have probably come to expect, it’s not a detailed explanation of what any of this means…it just reads “Malcolm’s Grandfather.”
I don’t think I’m ready to venture much further into all of this just yet…it’s honestly a lot to take in and I’m admittedly a bit afraid of muddying the waters any more than I already have. I think it best that we take some time to let all of this sink in.
There is one more thing I’d like to share with you before I close this episode.
In another Manila folder, pressed to the side of the box besides the other documents is a set of what looks to be MRI scans. There’s maybe a half dozen of them, by there’s two that stand out amongst the pile. One of them is labeled Malcolm Foye and there’s another at the bottom of the stack labeled Brianne Scanlon. I can’t be certain what exactly I’m looking at and I don’t have the capacity for locating or recognizing any sort of abnormalities, so for now I’ll just consider it a curious and possibly questionable inclusion in this box.
I’ll be going over more of Malcolm’s journals in the coming weeks and as I do I’ll share more. There’s just too much to go over in such a short time.
I opened this box expecting answers, but I’m left instead with so many questions. For now, I’d like to hear what you all think. Who is Joseph Foye? Who is Adhira Patel and what is her relationship with Malcom…Joseph…Project Hydra…?
Thank you for listening to the Storage Papers.