The Storage Papers is a fiction horror podcast.
Discretion is advised.
WRITTEN BY JEREMY ENFINGER
After our last episode, I’ve been contemplating a lot of claims found in those medical documents. I don’t mean to push everything else aside that we learned, but the possibility of knowing who my parents are, the idea that Hydra had some kind of file on me, and the fact that they labeled me as a Maker… it’s all just a little too unbelievable if I’m being completely honest.
You’re all going to laugh at me for telling you this, but do you recall in my journal entries last season how I’d been experiencing things in my dreams, and then seeing them manifest in real life the next day? Well, last weekend, I thought to myself, “If I’m really a Maker, I should be able to manifest things from nothing.”
So I tried. I did everything from concentrating really hard in a quiet room to meditating, and I even tried convincing myself that “the Force” was a real thing. I got nothing! Well, I take it back; I got an extreme eye roll from my wife, who I’m confident is not listening to this podcast and wouldn’t believe in any of this stuff even if I told her. I’m not sure if she took my little experiment as just being ridiculous in general or if it actually caused more concern.
So for the time being, I’m still looking through the documents Doctor Patel passed onto me. I became intrigued when I came across a small plastic bag with some notepad scribblings and a flash drive within it. A good friend of mine who listens to the podcast basically called me crazy for opening a flash drive of unknown origin with unknown contents on my personal computer, citing many good reasons I should probably be avoiding that, so I decided I needed a plan in case I found the need to review anything risky.
I had Detective Anderson introduce me to a computer forensics expert he met through work and had a discussion about what precautionary steps could be taken if I ever needed to download some files or look at a flash drive again. My goals were to prevent any malware or spyware from being downloaded onto my computer, and to eliminate the possibility of someone tracking my location. So I bought a used laptop with a dead battery off Craigslist. It’s four or five years old and only works when the power cable is connected.
Now, I don’t power that laptop on when I’m at home at all. That’s a hard and fast rule. When I do power it on, I make sure to go somewhere with free WiFi, and I am going to try not to visit the same place twice, so I asked for help making a list of all of the locations in the L.A., Orange, San Diego, and Riverside Counties where I could easily drop in and connect. You know, it’s amazing how many places actually do have free WiFi available.
Anyways, I went to one of these locations, powered on the laptop, and plugged in the flash drive. There were two folders on it. One of the folders had a readme.txt file and the other had a video file.
The readme file contained a typed message to me from Doctor Patel, who apparently may have been aware of her impending death. It reads:
I have come to fear the worst and I’m afraid I will be unable to deliver this to you in person. While I realize you have very little reason to trust me, you should know that everything I’ve done on behalf of SCIC for Hydra was to advance the field. Sometimes we must be willing to accept some necessary evils in the pursuit of our goals to further our scientific understanding of the universe for the betterment of our species.
It has been a pure pleasure to listen to your podcast while you attempt to solve your little puzzles along the way. It seems you have gained a following, along with some inside help from people who are risking quite a lot, including myself now. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Ron Hammond, it’s that you should be cautious with how much trust you place in the man. He can be a great asset, so long as your goals are aligned.
I believe you’ve seen a portion of the video I placed on this flash drive. The fact that you covered this video so early in your podcast is what initially put you on my radar, but it’s clear that you have only scratched the surface of the significance of that event. If I’m able to later, I will try to send you more information, but for now, this is all the sharing I have time for.
You have everything you need. All the best!
Hmmm… A lot to unpack in this note. She’s right, you know. I don’t trust her. But she’s also managed to perfectly describe my feelings about my level of trust in Ron as well. And is it possible that she really believes everything she’s doing is because she’s trying to help? Some of what she’s saying is a bit cryptic. It’s as if she knew she was nearing the end, but at the same time, she had hope that she would still be around to share more information with me. I guess her luck ran out. I better take a peek at that video.
I recognized the same starting point of the video with the stamp dated March 11, 2015 and the video starts around 8:02 p.m. and 40 seconds, as it did when I previously viewed it. I checked my notes, and the previous video I viewed way back when I started the podcast was 4 minutes and 2 seconds long. As previously noted, the video was shot in IR mode and the first couple of minutes didn’t show anything.
At 2 minutes and 56 seconds, a person who I now know to be the Grinner manifests near the right side of the pole and can be seen walking left to right toward one of the hotel windows and peeked in.
Chills traveled up my spine and down toward my extremities as the hairs on my arms stood at attention in a state of heightened awareness. I had forgotten how strangely he moved, and it reminded me of being chased in that church, only at a much faster pace then. That unnatural movement of his, almost gliding with his arms dangling by his sides, and that peculiar appearance.
I watched as he looked in the hotel room window, then he did the strange motions with his head. Looking at it this time, it reminds me of how an owl moves. The neck elevating and receding, going up and down in diagonal directions, different angles with each glance and changing every time. It was definitely not humanly possible. Perhaps an owl was the closest thing I could relate to what he does next, something I knew was coming, yet intensified the chills I was still experiencing. The head turns completely around to face the camera as if he knows he’s being watched. The walking backwards, the staring at the camera, and that weird head-tilt he does… it’s just as creepy as the first time I watched it. But even moreso, I think the reason it creeps me out so much is because it doesn’t seem like a recording. It’s almost like he knows you’re watching this.
He stood there for a seriously long time, and I think the original video I saw ended in static with him still standing there, but according to the play head, this video was only about two thirds complete. The Grinner remained motionless for nearly an additional minute. He was so still, I thought perhaps I paused the video by mistake, but the counter on the video player and the timestamp were both still rolling. Then, while keeping his head still, his body turned around to face the same direction his head was. And while still locking eyes with the camera, he casually walks below the frame.
The video was still playing though, and I scanned every corner of the field of view looking for something new. I half-expected this to be one of those jump-scare videos with the grinner’s face appearing up close to the camera, accompanied by a speaker-distorting scream at maximum volume. That would imply that Doctor Patel had a sense of humor though, and that’s definitely not something I’ve seen (or expected) from her.
What I saw next was even more confusing. There were headlights on the ground in the parking lot screen-left, just a little further away from the camera from where the Grinner made his creepy appearance. They were dim at first, and got brighter, then remained still as if a car, just outside of frame, had come to a quick stop. The headlights remained on as a man appeared in the frame and began walking in the direction of the hotel room, too far away from the IR light source to see any real details except that he was wearing long pants and a long-sleeved jacket.
As the man approaches the hotel room that the Grinner just left, he gives the door a couple of knocks and waits for a few seconds before I see his right hand reach inside the left side of his jacket, where it remained as he knocked again with his left hand. I’m assuming the man was armed. The man starts to look around, as if to check to see if anyone is watching. Next to the door, the light still isn’t good enough to identify him. He then goes and looks inside the window for a moment, cautiously peeking around the edge of the glass. Unfortunately, he’s now facing away from the camera. Next, he takes his hand out of his pocket and cups both hands around his face and leans against the window to get a better view.
Another second or two goes by, and then the man drops both hands down by his side and takes a step backwards. I’m guessing he’s seen some details from the crime scene because he raises both hands to his head and brushes his fingers through his hair. He stands for a moment with his hands still on the top of his head, and then he pulls something out of his pocket and begins wiping down the window, as if he’s trying to get rid of his fingerprints.
The man steps away from the window again and pauses as if he’s taking all of the details in again. Then he turns away quickly and begins walking quickly back toward his car, just far enough from the light in the window for me to really get a good look at his face. But as he approaches his car, he is looking in both directions, seemingly checking to make sure there aren’t any witnesses. When he gets to the edge of the video frame, he glances left over his shoulder, right in the direction of the camera, and the headlights he left on help to provide enough detail to see his face. A face I know all too well. The face of Ron Hammond.
Fuck this guy! You know, I really wish Ron would level with me. From Day One his whole involvement in this thing has been a rollercoaster of emotions for me. One day, he’s on your side and the next, he’s doing something shady. And the withholding of information is driving me insane! I feel like I’ve been chasing my tail while this guy just watches! Fuck him! I need to make a phone call.
SOUND: The phone is ringing.
ANDERSON: This is Anderson
JEREMY: Hey, it’s Jeremy. I just saw something that you need to see for yourself.
In my heightened emotional state, I hadn’t considered that perhaps Anderson was just as shady as Ron, only better at hiding it. I paused for a moment to consider the thought, and dismissed it after realizing that Anderson typically shared the same feelings I did when we learned of new details like this.
JEREMY: Yeah, sorry. This needs to be something you see in person. Can I drop by your office?
ANDERSON: Sure, but it will have to wait until after one P.M.
JEREMY: No problem. I’ll be there at 1.
Something inside me still questioned whether or not running right over to Anderson with this was wise. Considering what I learned at El Campo Cemetery, I suppose it doesn’t really make much difference whether he learns about Ron being there or not. Still, I’m starting to develop a lack of trust in people, but maybe I’m just being paranoid. Oh and to the listeners, I’m sorry I haven’t filled you in on El Campo yet. There’s just one more thing I need to check on before I do. Thanks for being patient!
I arrived at Detective Anderson’s office at 12:45 p.m. and was informed he was still in a meeting, but also told I could wait in his office. I was also asked if I wanted a cup of coffee or a water, which I declined. They were being more friendly than usual to me. Perhaps I was here often enough that they’ve gotten to know me.
I wouldn’t exactly call Anderson’s desk an “office.” It’s basically a desk on one side of the room, in a row of 10 desks, mirrored by another 10 on the other side of the room. There are no walls or doors, or even cubicle dividers. In fact, the whole room didn’t offer much privacy at all. I sat in a chair between adjacent desks, and I could see a name plaque on the desk behind me that said, “Collins.” Anderson’s partner.
More than half of the desks were empty, and I counted two other civilians in the room, both in handcuffs. The man in handcuffs was about three desks down on the same side of the room. He sat across from a detective with his head down and appeared to be crying.
I surveyed the room a few times, wondering which direction Anderson was going to come from. The woman in handcuffs was directly across the room from me. She was handcuffed to a ring on the chair handle. She was early 20’s, blonde, and thin. My first thought was she was a prostitute, though I really don’t have a reason why that came to mind. Perhaps because that’s what you always see on procedural cop shows on TV and that was about the extent of my experience with seeing people in handcuffs.
I must have been staring as I sorted all of this out in my head because I hadn’t realized she was staring back at me with sunken eyes and mascara that had run down her cheeks. I forced a weak smile, and before I could look away, she smiled back, revealing brown-stained teeth that contrasted with everything else about her appearance.
Methamphetamine. San Diego was long considered the “meth capital of the United States” and up until the late 1990’s, more than half of the meth in the country that was seized was captured coming up from Mexico. I’m not sure where the new “capital” is, but meth still has a presence here.
I decided to turn my gaze toward Anderson’s chair across the desk from mine to avoid any more unintentional staring. I found spinning the flash drive between my fingers as I recalled details about the video I was about to share. I was started when I felt a firm pat on my shoulder from Anderson as he rounded the desk toward his chair.
ANDERSON: So what brings you to my neck of the woods?
I looked over at the woman with the meth-mouth, who had perked up in her chair and had been watching and listening to our introduction.
JEREMY: Is there somewhere we could go with access to a computer and a little privacy?
ANDERSON: Follow me.
Anderson picked up a laptop from his desk and as I got up to follow him, the room began spinning. I reached out and clumsily grabbed the back of the chair I had been sitting in to steady myself. My vision had almost gone dark, but was coming back into view when I felt Anderson’s hand grab my upper arm.
ANDERSON: You okay there?
JEREMY: Yeah, I just got dizzy for a second.
ANDERSON: You probably got up too fast or skipped a meal. You want some coffee?
Why does everyone keep offering me coffee here?
JEREMY: No, I’m good now. I think I’m just burning the candle at both ends lately, ya know?
ANDERSON: You’re sure?
JEREMY: Yep… after you!
I followed him to a room used for questioning. We sat down across from one another as he opened up the laptop. I pulled out the flash drive and told him to watch the video. He fumbled around for a moment before double-clicking on the video file. As it began to play, he asked if I wanted to go to his side of the table to watch the video with him. I declined. A few seconds in, he looked over his laptop screen at me.
ANDERSON: Okay, I’ve seen this before.
JEREMY: True, but you haven’t seen this much of the video. Just keep watching.
Anderson’s eyes returned to the monitor.
ANDERSON: Damn, that guy gives me the creeps.
He continued watching until he saw the Grinner walk off screen.
ANDERSON: Okay, so it shows him leaving the camera view. I don’t recall seeing that the last time I watched this.
JEREMY: Keep watching.
SOUND: Fingernails tap on the table.
ANDERSON: Okay, these look like headlights on a car, and it’s possible they were in a hurry given how much the lights bounce. (pause) Tell me we’re going to see who this guy is who’s knocking on the door.
JEREMY: Keep watching.
ANDERSON: Okay, so he’s obviously armed and sees the crime scene here. I just can’t make out his face. And… he’s cleaned up his fingerprints from the window.
JEREMY: Almost there.
ANDERSON: Is that? Is that Ron?!
I wanted to sit directly across from Anderson to get a better view of his face to gauge his response. His reaction of surprise seemed genuine. Anderson was a no-nonsense kind of guy, and I’m confident I would be able to tell if he was only acting surprised.
JEREMY: It looks like him to me.
ANDERSON: I don’t know what to say. Where did you get this video?
JEREMY: I got it in the mail… from Dr. Patel, along with a bunch of other stuff I’m reviewing right now.
ANDERSON: …and now she’s dead.
JEREMY: And now she’s dead.
ANDERSON: We need to speak with Ron.
I could tell Anderson was uneasy about this new-found involvement in the homicide case from the hotel. Ron had been aware of the case and all of its developments, and said nothing to Anderson about being at the crime scene, or even being aware of it.
Anderson must have been pretty put off because he dialed Ron’s phone right away. Apparently Ron didn’t pick up because Anderson’s voice message was straight and to-the-point.
ANDERSON: Ron, it’s Mark. Call me as soon as you get this.
Almost immediately after Anderson hung up his phone, my own rang.
SOUND: A phone is ringing.
I got confused and Anderson looked at me as if we were sharing the same feeling, as if perhaps Ron was calling me instead of calling him back. I glanced at my phone.
JEREMY: It’s Brianne. I’m going to take this.
Anderson nodded as he looked back down at his laptop and began to replay the video.
JEREMY: Hey, Brianne.
BRIANNE: Hey, I just dropped by your house. Where are you right now?
JEREMY: I’m actually sitting here with Detective Anderson. Why?
Anderson peered over his laptop at me and shook his head, “no,” implying I should avoid giving Brianne any details about seeing Ron on the video. I gave him a quick nod to say I understood, and his eyes returned to his laptop.
BRIANNE: Oh, did you find something new?
JEREMY: Well, just getting his opinion about a hunch I have. Nothing new to share just yet. What’s up?
BRIANNE: Well, I’ve been digging into the medical documents more and cross-referencing some of the names and information in there with the papers. Guess what I found!
JEREMY: What is it? Do you really want me to guess?
BRIANNE: No, but did you watch the news yesterday?
JEREMY: Uh, no. Why?
BRIANNE: Well, there was a local story about a 42 year-old man who was an English teacher at–
SOUND: Anderson’s phone rings.
Anderson looks at the caller ID, which must have been a number he didn’t recognize and answered while looking at me. I admit I stopped paying attention to Brianne as I waited to find out if it was Ron on the other end of the line. When Anderson said I was with him and he wanted to meet ASAP, I had to let Brianne go.
JEREMY: Um, Brianne? Can I get back to you? Something has come up and I kind of need to go right now.
BRIANNE: Seriously? It must be important.
JEREMY: It is. Sorry, I really want to learn what you found out. You can wait at my place if you want. You know where the key is.
BRIANNE: No, that’s okay. Just call me when you can talk.
JEREMY: Will do! Thanks!
ANDERSON: Everything okay?
JEREMY: Yeah, she was about to tell me something about yesterday’s news. Literally, not metaphorically. Are we on?
ANDERSON: Sure are! Ron’s going to meet us in 30 minutes at a diner in City Heights. You don’t happen to have your recorder with you, do you?
JEREMY: Well, um. I’ve been recording this whole time. Sorry.
ANDERSON: I should have known. You really do need to get better about asking for peoples’ permission before recording them. But in the interest of our discussion with Ron, maybe don’t let him know.
JEREMY: No problem. (pause) So, uh… Do I have your permission to–
ANDERSON: Yes, yes, of course! Let’s go.