The Storage Papers is a fiction horror podcast.
Discretion is advised.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This episode contains a story by the contest winner of Beyond the Papers: ‘Up at the Reservoir’ by Lou Sutcliffe.
Oh how far we’ve come. By “we,” I mean you–the listeners–and me. I’m finding myself conflicted lately about my involvement in this whole thing. I mean, when I started this podcast, my wife and I had been talking about how I work too much; That I needed some kind of hobby outside my professional life. Something to take my mind off work, which was stressing me out and preventing me from really doing anything for myself… or my family.
I haven’t always been the best husband or father, you know. My life up until a couple years ago was spent mostly earning money. I told myself I just wanted to get ahead or provide for my family. I’d work multiple jobs in the name of being a provider, and at times that’s what was needed, but between those times, I persisted. I persisted when I should have been prioritizing my family.
As I’m sitting here reading another text from Ron, I can’t help but feel like the papers have just become another distraction, pulling me away from them. This podcast was supposed to be a hobby. It was just something I could do to unwind and get out of “work mode” for a subject I have always been interested in–that is, anything unexplained.
Look at us now. Secret societies, clandestine organizations, government contractors, psychics, demonic entities, law enforcement… the list goes on, and I’m at the center of it all. Sorry if it seems like I’m ranting a little here, but the fact is The Storage Papers is taking a toll on me and my family. Still, I don’t think there’s any way I can avoid seeing things through now. I’m in way too deep and people are relying on me.
Speaking of which: Ron’s text. He’s suggesting I begin to organize the documents based first on symbols, then on chronology, while he focuses on finding Doctor Adhira Patel. I still find it strange that she left me a voice message saying we need to talk, yet leaves me no way to contact her. I suppose I’ll just wait until she either shows up, or until Ron locates her and we can drop in.
Ron sent a second text as well. He wants me to check the papers with a black light. Interesting… I hadn’t thought of that yet. The notion seems very cloak and dagger. I just happened to have a black light lying around from some of last year’s Halloween decorations I haven’t put away just yet. Something my wife has asked me to do repeatedly, yet I continue to neglect it.
I set the light on top of some of the highly-stacked boxes and thumbed through some of the documents in a few of the boxes I had opened up on the floor. Wouldn’t you know, the pentagram symbol is printed on a ton of these documents! I mean, I’m glad Ron decided to point me in this direction, but why the hell did he wait so long to fill me in on this detail?
I’d like to share one of those documents with you now. It’s not a long one, nor does it have any mention of Doctor Patel, but I thought it was really interesting, and a welcome change of pace compared to some of the stuff that has been going on.
SAN DIEGO POLICE DEPARTMENT
Date: 12th March 1916
Reporting Officer: Guillermo Gonzales (Sgt)
Reviewed: Keno Wilson (Chief)
Incident: Body found by La Mesa Reservoir.
Witness: Mrs Josita Quilp, resident up by La Mesa.
Summary: Mrs Quilp reported to the station because she had heard from her cousin about the body and believed she had information pertinent to the case. She was shown the body and stated that she had seen the man before. A witness statement was then taken in the interview room.
Transcript of Witness Statement:
It was sometime between Christmas and New Year, I don’t remember for sure which day. I was walking back along the lake road home from my sister’s place. My husband is away from home a lot working in construction so most days I go to either my sister’s place or to check in on my grandparents up the valley for company.
I’m walking back along by the lake, and it’s mostly bushes and some trees here and there as you know so you can see pretty far ahead. I see ahead of me there’s this little red light. I get close and I realise there’s somebody smoking by the lake ahead of me. It’s late so I think maybe it’s somebody up to no good, so I creep real quiet towards them to see what’s what.
Once I can see from behind some bushes, I see that it’s two guys and they’re just standing by the water waiting for something. One of them was skinny, like if a long-tail weasel could wear a striped suit. The other was more like a coyote, he was pretty sleek, real neatly combed. He looked like he would sell you anything with a smile. On the floor in front of them is a circle with patterns in it and writing around the edge. I remember there was a triangle in the middle, but it was too far to read the writing.
Sleek, he seems pretty calm, but Weaselly, he’s antsy like he’s late for dinner and his wife is going to be mad at him. They’re talking to each other. Sleek, he asks how much they’re going to get. Weaselly he says he got a thousand bucks from Los Angeles for eighteen inches, but that was easy, he could tell it was coming soon anyway and he just needed to help a little. He says San Diego offered him ten thousand to fill Morena Dam Reservoir. He says he’s not so sure it’ll work this time, and he needs some help making sure. Sleek’s eyes go wide then narrow and he says he wants fifty percent. They haggle for a little but then something shuts them right up for a while.
I want you to know sergeant, I had not been drinking, you can ask my sister about that. What I say next is the honest truth of what I saw. I saw two women come right out of the lake. Not on a boat or anything, they just walked out of the lake, like they’ve been swimming, only they’re dry. I did not like those women, not one bit. They had a bad feeling about them. The taller of the two, she’s got a real mean look about her, like she’d kill you without a second thought, and this big wide smile like a snake. She’s dressed like one of those Navy boys from down Point Loma, all neat blue uniform with a little white cap. The other one, she was different. Fine and delicate, with a little red mouth and painted big eyes like a deer. And she was all got up like one of the working girls from the Stingaree, I mean everything that was there was on display. If you know what I mean. There wasn’t anything left to the imagination.
Weaselly, he’s surprised. Sleek, I guess he’s been expecting these two ladies to show up out of the reservoir some time, because he greets them all politely and they introduce themselves. Taller lady, she says her name is Miss Vine. I don’t like her voice like I don’t like her look. She sounds like she is hissing when she talks. She introduces the other lady – she says her name is Miss Fur something. Maybe there was a “fur” in it twice. Miss Fur just smiles and bats her eyelashes at Weaselly and Sleek. She doesn’t talk much at all and when she does she keeps disagreeing with everything Miss Vine says.
All four of them talk. They’re making a deal for Miss Fur to do something for Weaselly. Sleek says he has called the Misses here to trade for their help. He asks what the price is and Miss Fur says it’s not much. Sleek points to the circle on the floor and asks her forgiveness but he says she should stand there and say that. Miss Fur looks mad about that. Miss Vine laughs and she says the price will be steep, but it won’t be them paying it, it will be the city as they’re the ones who want the reservoir filled. Sleek and Weaselly, they look at each other like they don’t know what to make of that, but they must decide it’s a good deal because they agree. I guess they maybe aren’t that smart, because everyone knows when a deal sounds like it’s too good, it probably is. Sleek throws his cigar on the ground and steps on it to put it out and he offers his hand to shake, and Miss Fur looks at him like he’s something she found on the heel of her pretty shoe, but Miss Vine takes that hand and she shakes it. Sleek yells and pulls his hand back like it’s been burned and holds it in his other hand, rubbing at it. Miss Vine says, it’s a deal, and they’ll get their rain, right Miss Fur? Miss Fur says no, they won’t. They all nod like she just agreed with Miss Vine. It seems like they all thought the deal was struck, so Miss Fur blows the men a little kiss and Miss Vine tips her hat and the two of them just turn on their heels and walk back where they came from. I saw the reservoir part around them, like the good clean water didn’t want to be touching them on their flesh. Once they’re gone, Sleek shrinks back into himself, and Weaselly lets out a big breath. Weaselly says, better get rid of that, Pain. Sleek scrubs over where the drawing in the earth is and covers it all over. Then they turn and leave and there’s just me sitting in the bush, wondering what all this was about.
I didn’t go home. Instead I went to my Grandmother and Grandfather’s house and I told them what I saw, like I told you. Grandmother said she would take a night to sleep on it and then she put me to bed, like when I was little, because I was scared. Next morning, she sent Grandfather and Uncle Rafael out to tell everyone to head up to Cowles Mountain and camp there like we do in winter, because there was a storm coming. So that’s what we all did. You know what happened next. It rained all through January. Sweetwater Dam overflowed. Lower Otay Dam broke, twenty people died. The city got their reservoir filled all right, and then some.
Like I said, the man you have on your bench in the morgue, that’s the Sleek man, the one called Pain. I wouldn’t have come to tell you that because we don’t trust cops, but I wanted to know if it was one of those men I saw. I wanted to know at least one of them was dead. If the other one comes back and brings those women here again, we will be ready for him, and God help him. You better catch him and make sure he doesn’t do those things again, Sergeant.
Action and further information: Body was identified as Mr Thomas Payne, proprietor of Payne’s Miracle Cures, originally from Newark, New Jersey. Mr Payne was reported missing by his brother Mr Christopher Payne (see witness statement, March first). Mr Christopher Payne attended the station March thirteenth to identify the body which was then given into his keeping for burial. Descriptions of the man and the two women in Mrs Quilp’s statement were circulated around the county asking for anyone to come forward with any information. Coroner’s report is appended and lists the cause of death as drowning, nothing to indicate foul play other than a recent burn on the right hand.
After recording this document, I spent a couple more hours skimming through some more of the documents, not really taking in any context, but looking for mentions of Doctor Patel’s name. Then my phone rang. I picked it up and it read, “unlisted number.” I had a feeling that someone had been trying to reach me about my vehicle’s extended warranty, so I ignored it. A moment later, it rang again from an unlisted number. I decided to pick it up. As soon as I recognized the voice, I hit “record” using an app I use for podcasting.
MALCOLM: I hope Brianne sent my best like I told her to.
JEREMY: What the fuck do you want? And how does everyone seem to have my phone number?
MALCOLM: Well, you’re kind of the one putting yourself out there, you know?
JEREMY: So what do you want? Did you call to threaten me again?
MALCOLM: Oh, I never threatened you…I just filled you in on the inevitable outcome of what you’re doing. I can threaten you if that would motivate you though.
JEREMY: Motivate me to do what?
MALCOLM: Well, the thing is, I need your help. I need something you have.
JEREMY: Oh yeah, what’s that?
MALCOLM: By now you should have seen a fair share of symbols on your precious papers. I just need the ones with the seven-fingered hand with the eye in the palm.
JEREMY: What on earth do you need those for?
MALCOLM: Let’s just say it’s for a little project I’ve been working on.
JEREMY: Yeah… I don’t think so.
MALCOLM: Oh, why are you being so difficult? It’s the least you could do after what you did to me. You owe me, Jeremy!
JEREMY: The only thing I owe you is a trip back to prison where you belong. What do you really need that stuff for, huh?[long pause]
MALCOLM: Let me tell you a little story. You’re fond of stories, right? Of course you are, otherwise we wouldn’t even know each other. Here goes:
Long ago, in the days of old, when evil first stood before good as its own entity, there was a large group of task-oriented souls that I like to refer to as the Dependents. The Dependents were pawns; underlings of the ancient society forced to do the grunt work that higher beings deemed necessary, yet beneath them to conduct themselves.
The Dependents were steadfast and diligent in their tasks, rarely asking questions or stopping to examine the purpose of their duties or the principles behind them. They were not necessarily smart, but they got the job done, as long as they received clear instructions and were properly set in motion.
For what we would refer to as millennia, though the concept of time did not yet exist then, they served in faithful servitude until the great division, when the presence of evil manifested itself in stark contrast to all which was previously known. For a long period of time, the Dependents went idle and failed to perform any tasks they were given, for they did not understand the conflict between many of those they previously served.
Eventually, after a long period of observation, they realised they no longer valued their existence without fulfilling a purpose. And for reasons of self-preservation, they communed with both good and evil separately, in efforts to determine who to serve.
When they communed with the good, the Dependents were told they should remain in service of the good. After all, it’s what they had known for their entire existence. They were told they should choose good, with the knowledge that they would be doing good as their reward. But they were also given a warning. They were told that only the flawless could exist amidst the good, and that choosing evil would be a final decision; that doing so would prevent them from ever existing among the good again, for they would be flawed henceforth.
When they communed with the evil, the Dependents were told they would never be given an ultimatum; that they could come and go as they pleased. They made the argument that all who were among the evil can’t really be bad, as they all originated from the good. They told the Dependents the universe wasn’t made of black and white, but many scales of gray, and that “right” and “wrong” were an illusion. They offered to allow them to do anything they wanted to do, as opposed to existing to fulfill the will of others. They promised they could do whatever they wished to do.
They were deceptive, but the Dependents, being simple, did not know they were being manipulated. Upon hearing their terms, the Dependents were at first hesitant to choose, and desired to reflect upon their options before making their choice. But the evil ones insisted they choose immediately, and as a final point in the negotiation, offered the Dependents mastery over time if they chose now. And they did.
The Dependents chose evil and became the guardians of the underworld, policing the supernatural in service of evil. They still roam today; thousands of them, all believing they are restoring true order, which of course is deception. Yet they serve out of fierce loyalty, still never questioning motive and never truly thinking for themselves. They wield a power they don’t understand, and cannot think for themselves, going about eternity much like a single-celled organism. They have but one purpose…to serve evil.
It’s said that whoever controls the Dependents ultimately controls time and space. I’ve seen them, Jeremy. You’ve read about them, but it’s only a matter of time before you see them too. Nobody knows if a single entity controls them, or if it’s more of a collective evil who is their master. Whose side do you want to be on when they come? If I were you, Jeremy, I’d run if I ever met one. Because they won’t stop. They’ll just keep coming and coming…until you’re dead.
JEREMY: Wow, great story. What does any of that have to do with me or the papers?
MALCOLM: Not much… yet. Consider it a nickel’s worth of free advice. It was just a fun tale to illustrate that our knowledge of the universe is still so limited. Whatever religion you might subscribe to can only possibly hold a piece of the puzzle, but none of them want you to know that you can claim some of this power for yourself.
JEREMY: What, control time? No thanks. Sounds like way too much responsibility for me.
MALCOLM: There are other things besides time that interest me. You know… I can do it too.
JEREMY: (to self) What the hell does that mean?
JEREMY: Do what? What are you going on about?
MALCOLM: You know…the same thing that you and Brianne can do.
JEREMY: I’m surprised you let Brianne go, you know? What about all those other people?
MALCOLM: (playful) What other people? I don’t know what you could possibly mean. You know Jeremy, you thought you cast out the demon, but there’s so much more work to be done.
JEREMY: If you’re trying to intimidate me-
MALCOLM: If you talk to my grandfather, tell him I’m looking for him too, will you?
SOUND: The call ends.
Malcolm hung up. Why is he denying he’s abducted other people? Surely he knew Brianne was going to see them and tell people about him. And then he lets her go? For being some kind of evil genius, he’s making some really dumb decisions. Or maybe he wants to be searched for. And tell his grandfather he’s looking for him. That means he somehow knows we’re looking for Joseph Foye. Maybe he’s listening to the show, too.
When I went to my computer to start uploading my phone call with Malcolm, I noticed I had received an email from Doctor Patel late last night. It wasn’t long, but I can’t tell you exactly what the message said, assuming Malcolm is listening and in light of what I’ve learned before sitting down to record this last segment of this week’s episode. Basically, she sent me instructions for how to retrieve a large package full of documents. I thought, “great, more papers.”
But at the same time, I was wondering why she’d do this. I’m skeptical. Is she trying to help me or misdirect me? My curiosity, I admit, got the better of me I left to get the package. When I came back to my house, I heard my phone ringing, realizing I had left it on my coffee table next to my laptop.
SOUND: Phone ringing.
ANDERSON: Oh thank God you’re okay! I was about to come looking for you.
JEREMY: Why? I just stepped out really quick to-
JEREMY: Ron has been calling you to. Turn on Channel 8 News!
I picked up my remote and turned on the TV. There was a story playing about a shocking scene in Downtown San Diego where a woman was witnessed by multiple people jumping to her death from a highrise apartment. As the witnesses were being interviewed, most of them in tears describing the impact from their perspectives, I spoke to Anderson.
JEREMY: Okay, I’m watching. It’s about a woman jumping from a highrise.
ANDERSON: Jeremy, I’m at the scene now. The woman… it’s Doctor Patel.