Episode 04: “A Momentary Crimson”

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Tape 2-6-193-1-2: As she investigates a potentially haunted waxworks museum, Anna Sheridan recounts the encounter of her friend Giles Fallow with a mysterious creature during the Yom Kippur War.

Starring Airen Neeley Chaconas as Anna Sheridan, Gus Krieger as Giles Fallow, Jesse Steele as Bill Tyler, and Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written and produced by Trevor Van Winkle, and made possible by our supports at patreon.com/homesteadcorner

For more information and additional content, visit thesheridantapes.com

Script

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Transcript

CONTENT WARNINGS: Automatonophobia, descriptions of war and gun violence, historical anti-semetism, death of a non-human character, discussions of religious themes and animal sacrifice

Cold Open

[Crickets chirping]

[Footsteps approach]

[Train whistles in the distance] 

[Coyote howls]

[Footsteps stop]

[Handling and cocking of a pistol]

[Footsteps resume]

[Cassette player motor whirs, stops]

[Click]

[Main Theme]

Recording Begins

[A/C fan noise]

[Hum of conversation through door]

[Keyboard keys clicking]

[Beep]

Sam Bailey

[Sighs]

Detective Samuel Bailey, Oslow County Police Department — Homicide Division. Recording on April Eleventh, 2019 at 4:30… am.

[Sighs]

I shouldn’t be here. No one asked me to come in this early, and if I could sleep, then trust me, I would. Something about Sheridan’s last tape just didn’t sit right with me. I don’t know what it was — the idea of some invisible something hiding in the dark, maybe? I didn’t think there was a ghost in my room or anything like that, I just kept hearing noises whenever I was about to fall asleep.

[Yawns]

Maybe there was someone on the stairs. Or maybe I was just imagining things.

Whatever it was, I couldn’t get to sleep. I figured I’d get a head start today, digitize a couple of tapes before anyone else gets in. Although maybe doing this while it’s still dark outside isn’t the best idea.

Ah, screw it.

[Rummaging through tapes]

Early morning digitization, thy number is 2-6-193-1-2…

[Yawns]

I really should get some coffee first.

[Scoots chair back]

[Footsteps]

[Door opens]

[Footsteps move away]

[Different footsteps approach]

[Door swings open]

Bill Tyler

Hello? Sam? Are you… Oh, he’s recording. Why isn’t the tape running?

[Door closes]

[Footsteps]

[Feeds the tape into player]

[Click]

Tape 2-6-193-1-2

[Hiss of static, then fades]

[Crickets chirping, two sets of footsteps]

Anna Sheridan

You ever wonder where the line is? You know, between human and not?

Bill Tyler

[Chuckles]

Well no, I can’t say that I have…

Giles Fallow

I don’t like to think about it.

Bill Tyler

Oh, oh she’s talking to…

Anna Sheridan

Not even here?

Giles Fallow

Especially not here. I’ve been at the Waxworks for ten years now. That’s long enough to know that the ones who ask questions are the ones who can’t cut it.

Anna Sheridan

Why is that, do you think?

[Footsteps stop]

Giles Fallow

Well, it’s a tricky thing. Waxworks. The more realistic you make them, the more… Unreal they start to look. I think it’s something about the eyes. They just — don’t match the faces.

[Footsteps resume]

The cheap ones aren’t so bad, except when they get damaged or melted. It’s painful to look at, even when you know they aren’t real. And that’s all fine during the day, when you know what you’re looking at. But at night, well… the shadows play tricks with your eyes.

Anna Sheridan

I know how that goes.

Giles Fallow

It’s not a problem for most people — they don’t get in after dark. But, when you work nights here? The less you really think about them, the better.

Anna Sheridan

I’ll do my best. Not really my style, though.

[Footestpes stop]

Giles Fallow

I wish you’d tell me what you’re doing here. I could lose my job if anything gets broken or if you end up getting hurt in there…

Anna Sheridan

It’ll be fine, Giles. I won’t touch a thing, I promise.

Giles Fallow

Okay. Just… don’t get me sacked, alright? Can’t exactly retire on this salary.

Anna Sheridan

I promise, I won’t get you sacked. Open her up.

[Keys rattle]

Giles Fallow

Good luck.

[Heavy metal door creaks open, bangs against wall]

[Harsh static rises]

[Footsteps]

Bill Tyler

What’s that noise…?

[Office door bursts open]

Sam Bailey

What the hell are you doing?

Bill Tyler

Ah!

[Door closes, footsteps]

[Click]

Tape Paused

Sam Bailey

What are you doing in my office? At four goddamn thirty in the morning?

Bill Tyler

I was, I — I mean I…

[Sighs]

I’m working the graveyard shift, I noticed the lights were on, and then I saw you were recording, so I thought I’d get the tape going, you know, start digitizing while you were…

What were you doing?

Sam Bailey

Coffee. I was making coffee.

Bill Tyler

Oh. Well, I… I know you don’t like listening to these things, so I just wanted to help you out with…

Sam Bailey

It doesn’t help.

Bill Tyler

What? Why not?

Sam Bailey

Because I’m actually trying to find some answers here. These tapes are mostly useless, but I need to listen to them. All of them. Including this one.

Bill Tyler

Oh. Well, uh… you didn’t miss much, Just some old guy talking about his job at a waxworks museum.

Sam Bailey

Waxworks?

Bill Tyler

Yeah, security guard at some museum — night watchman. I think Anna asked him about the line between human and… I guess not human. I think he was letting her into the museum after it had closed when…

Sam Bailey

I think I get the picture

Bill Tyler

Oh, well… great! Um, I guess I’ll… get out of your hair, then.

[Bill’s footsteps]

Sam Bailey

Where are you going?

Bill Tyler

Uh, nowhere, really, just going to finish out my shift unless… You want me to stick around?

Sam Bailey

If… If you wouldn’t mind?

Bill Tyler

Oh… Yeah, of course!

[Bill’s footsteps move back]

Sam Bailey

Ready?

Bill Tyler

Are you?

[Sam grumbles]

[Click]

Tape Resumes

[Heavy static]

Sam Bailey

What’s this?

Bill Tyler

I don’t know, it started when the door opened. It sounds like the tape’s damaged — Probably just some signal degradation.

Sam Bailey

I thought cassettes were before your time.

Bill Tyler

Jesus Sam, I wasn’t born yesterday.

[Static begins to fade]

Anna Sheridan

…the way the eyes seem to… follow you around is definitely the worst part. Giles was right about the eyes not matching up, especially with the ones in the loading bay. No wonder they’re keeping them in storage. They’d give anyone nightmares. Although, the ones out here aren’t much better — especially not at night. Though it might be the building itself, more than the figures. This place is old — the waxworks has only been around about ten years, but the building dates back to the revolutionary war. Records are spotty about what it used to be. I’m guessing the new owners are trying to make this place seem less creepy than it already is.

Found some original copies at the county library, though. It’s called a butcher’s shop in some places, but a mortuary in others. As much as I’d love to imply there was some Sweeney Todd style recycling going on here, I think the place has just been a lot of things over the years.

[Anna’s footsteps]

Bill Tyler

I have to say, I like your Jane Doe.

Sam Bailey

Won’t Robert get jealous?

Bill Tyler

[Scoffs]

I didn’t say I was interested, I just said… Are you looking at your phone?

Sam Bailey

Just trying to find out when the museum opened so I can backdate this tape.

Bill Tyler

Won’t she say when she recorded it?

Sam Bailey

[Scoffs]

She most certainly will not.

[Anna’s footsteps stop]

Anna Sheridan

I always wondered how waxworks chose their subjects. I mean, most of them are obvious: Washington, Jefferson, Franklin — the all-American standards. Some of them are actually pretty good — less creepy than the ones at Disneyland, though that might just be because these don’t move.

Some of the other ones, though… Well, lets just say you can see where the money went. I think they’re all Maryland natives, but I don’t even recognize the names on a few of these. Must be local celebrities or something. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of them were commissioned by the subject — some kind of weird stab at immortality. Though obviously they didn’t want to pay much for it.

[Anna’s footsteps]

It almost looks like the person who made them didn’t quite understand human proportions. All the eye sockets look just… I don’t know, just a little too big for the faces. It seems to get worse the closer you get to the loading dock, too.

[Footsteps stop]

The ones at the end of the hall look like they’ve got big, circular plates behind their eyes. Their eyes aren’t any bigger than they should be, there’s just way too much space around them. Actually makes them look smaller. Beadier.

[Anna’s footsteps]

That’s the most common mistake, but definitely not the only one. Some of these look almost like caricatures, and pretty mean spirited ones at that.

[Footsteps stop]

There’s a Spiro Agnew over here whose head looks just — painfully swollen. Giles is right… It’s kind of difficult to look at. Maybe it’s better with the lights on, but in the dark it just looks like his head is floating away from the rest of his body.

[Anna’s footsteps]

Frank Zappa looks mostly normal thank god, and he’s far enough from the loading bay that his eyes are the right size. His family did say he left for his final tour when he died… I wonder if they ever expected him to get stuck in a place like this.

I wish that I could say Hasselhoff fared well. He looks more like a microwaved Schwarzenegger than anything else…

[Static rises]

[Footsteps stop]

Huh. That’s… that’s weird. I could’ve sworn there wasn’t a sculpture back there before.

[Anna’s footsteps]

[Footsteps stop]

It looks like one of the figures from the loading bay, but it’s standing next to the door now. Like it moved by itself.

I’m just going to cover that one up. No harm in keeping it out of sight for the moment.

[Tarp rustling]

[Static stops]

There. Much better. God, these things are creepy as hell. I just

don’t get the appeal, honestly. Then again, I don’t get the appeal of meeting real celebrities either. It’s just a cheap shock of recognition, and nothing more. But… maybe I shouldn’t throw stones. I make a lot of money off book signings. Besides, I wouldn’t have met Giles without them.

[Anna’s footsteps]

We met on the Infinite Sky tour back in ‘06, and got along like a house on fire. It’s rare to find older people who like horror, but they tend to appreciate it more than people my age… mostly because they have half a dozen stories more messed up than anything I could ever write. He actually told me once that my books were “therapeutic for him”. God knows why.

[Footsteps stop]

He was working the night shift at a shopping mall in Middle Fork back then, but he decided to take an early shift that day just so he could meet me. When he walked in the door, he looked excruciatingly tired. Even so, he smiled as he came up to the table, offered me his hand, and said “Cracker of a book, young lady.” Normally I’d be annoyed at someone calling me young lady, but there was something so innocent and charming about the way he said it that I couldn’t help liking him anyway.

The book signing was a bust — only about a dozen people showed up all afternoon. But I didn’t mind. As the store closed for the night, I offered to buy him a cup of coffee. He crinkled his nose at that, but I definitely needed one, and he eventually let me buy him a strong black tea instead. He poured about a gallon of creamer into it before we found a quiet corner of the mall and just… chatted.

I got most of his life story that evening. He was the son of a third-generation book-binder who grew up in London, so he was reading almost constantly. He could remember summers when it rained almost every afternoon, and he would spend the whole time in his favorite nook, lost in some fantasy or adventure book. Those were the happiest years of his life, he told me.

His family was Jewish, and his father participated in the battle of Cable Street in 1936, soon after Giles was born. Between that and the blitz, his tolerance for London ran out soon after the war. He moved his entire family to Israel just as soon as the Palestine War ended and the country stabilized… as much as it ever did. His mother began to work as an English teacher at a local school, while his father eventually found a position with the University library in Tel Aviv. He, being 13 at the time, wasn’t consulted about the move. It was soon after they left that he began to have trouble sleeping.

As the son of two academics, his schooling was “expensive and unremarkable,” as he put it. He went to the university, but doesn’t remember much of the two years he spent there. The thing he remembered most was catching disapproving glances from his father every time he went to the library. He just wasn’t a good student, despite his love of reading. He’d always loved fiction, and having to study textbooks and essays day in and day out took all of the joy out of reading for a long time.

Then another war broke out in 1973, during Yom Kippur. By that point Giles had officially flunked out and was living at home, and so he was immediately drafted into the IDF — the Israel Defense Force — and sent off to fight.

The funny thing I’ve noticed, reading about war: no matter how terrible the fighting is, there always seems to be too much waiting. Too much quiet. Too much sitting around, bored to tears between fits of chaos and violence, lost in routine while waiting for the other shoe to drop. This war was no exception, at least according to Giles. He was a thin, timid, and nearsighted young man, so his recruiting officer took pity on him and managed to station him far away from the front line. It wasn’t like he was completely out of harm’s way… there was always a risk of surprise attack, so he had to take a lot of patrols around the perimeter of the camp to catch anything the watchtowers missed. Even with his bad eyes, that wasn’t a problem for him: by that point, he was almost entirely nocturnal. This was one of the many things we bonded over: our shared love for the cool, quiet hours of the night.

Sometimes, when his assigned partner was too sick or too exhausted to make the rounds, he went out by himself. It was completely against orders of course, but no one really noticed or cared that far from the front. It was on one such night about a week in when it happened… his messed up story.

It was a cool, dry night, and the sky was streaked with long, thin wisps of cloud. It had been another endless day of maintenance and readiness drills, and he just wanted to get as far from the camp as he could without actually going AWOL. As he wandered further and further from the lights of the camp, he found himself thinking about the parts of the Torah about Yom Kippur: the old sacrifices, and specifically the goat for Azazel.

I’m still not sure I understand the whole tradition, but the way he told it was that back in the days of the first temple, the high priest would choose two unblemished, perfect goats. One was “for the Lord.” The priest would lay his hands on it, confess the sins of the priesthood, and then slaughter it as an atonement for those sins. That’s what Yom Kippur means: the “Day of Atonement.” The other goat — I don’t know if you’d call it the lucky one — was supposed to take on the sins of the people. The priest would lay hands on it, confess, and then lead it away into the wilderness forever… At least, that was the idea. Goats being goats, it would just come back the next day looking for food. So they took it to a nearby cliff and just… threw it over the side instead.

That idea always bothered him a little. He wondered if it was afraid, or if it even realized what was going to happen. After a bit of back and forth, he decided it probably didn’t. Instead, it probably went along in blissful ignorance right until the moment the ground started rushing up to meet it. As Giles stood alone in the dark, looking back at the far-away lights of the camp, he thought he could understand how it felt.

It was then that he heard the footsteps. They were soft and wet, like someone was stepping in mud, but the ground around the camp was hard, bone-dry clay for miles and miles. Giles turned, aiming the flashlight on his rifle towards the noise. All he could see were a few heaps of dark stone a few yards away.

He almost dismissed it as a figment of his imagination. It had always been too active according to his father, and he knew it did have a tendency to run away with him. But then the sound came again, louder and closer. Thump. Thump. Thump. They were slow and heavy, but too regular to be anything other than footsteps.

With more bravado than he actually felt, he yelled “Tzahal” — the Hebrew acronym for the IDF — and demanded that they show themselves. The footsteps didn’t stop, or even slow down. Whatever was out there, it either didn’t hear him, didn’t understand him, or wasn’t afraid of him. Maybe all three.

Giles began to panic: whatever was coming out of the darkness, it was definitely heavier than a normal person should have been. He could feel the ground shaking under his feet with each footstep as the sound came closer and closer. He reached for his radio, about to call for backup, when he saw what he’d taken for a boulder begin to move.

It was a short, wide figure, roughly the shape of a human being, but with a head that jutted out towards him and seemed to be attached to the middle of its chest. Its arms and legs were long, thick lumps of rock that both ended in identical flat stumps where its fingers and toes should have been. It was hard to tell in the dark,but Giles thought that parts of it glistened like wet mud where its joints would be, while the rest of it was made of solid rock, as dry as bone.

He knew what it was, of course: no child could grow up in a Jewish home surrounded by books and not read at least one story about Golems. But seeing one emerge from the darkness in a place about as far

removed from the comfy nooks and rainy afternoons of his childhood as he could imagine… well, the knowledge did little to hold back his panic.

As it grew closer, the creature raised one arm, waving the end of it vaguely in his direction. Its wide, tongue-less mouth flapped open and shut, but it didn’t make a sound. Giles knew why: the breath of life was nowhere to be found in the thing slowly advancing towards him.

At that thought, a hatred he never thought he was capable of came over him: a deep-seated anger towards this mockery of life. His heart pounded and his hands shook as he raised his rifle, squared the iron-sights on its chest, and pulled the trigger. The rifle was louder than he’d expected out on the open plain, but he barely noticed the pain in his ears. His vision was red, and his thoughts were muddled by adrenaline and rage.

The golem staggered back, bullets sparking off its rocky skin and splattering the thick mud around its joints on the dry earth. Giles emptied a full clip into the broad, slow moving target in an uncontrolled burst… something he’d been trained never to do in combat. It made no difference. The creature staggered, caught its balance, and then began marching slowly towards him again, still gesturing with its flat, fingerless hand and trying uselessly to speak.

The sound of gunfire hadn’t gone unnoticed. Giles could hear shouting from the camp, and a noisy engine roaring to life. The spotlights on the watchtowers all turned in his direction, illuminating the unliving figure even more clearly. Giles knew he’d only have seconds before he’d have to stop and explain his actions to a superior officer, so he did the only thing that came to mind: he took a grenade from his belt, removed the pin, and threw it in a high arc towards the creature.

The movement was smooth and almost automatic. He only really realized what he’d done when the grenade bounced and came to a stop at the golem’s feet. For the briefest moment it stopped and looked down, then looked back up at Giles. In the glare of the spotlights, he saw the creature’s eyes clearly for the first and only time. They were dark and sunken in the face of stone, but unmistakably human: wet and full of tears that glistened and shone against its rocky skin. It mouthed something to him just before the grenade went off. Giles still isn’t sure, but he thought it might have been “Thank You.”

It was all over before the other soldiers arrived. The C.O. demanded an explanation, and Giles rattled off some half-baked excuse about enemy troops hiding in the rocks. A small unit went to investigate, but all they found were some shattered ruins and small pools of wet, reddish mud that shouldn’t have been possible that far out into the desert.

Things might have ended there, if he hadn’t told his bunkmate what he really saw. Giles was taken off duty and sent for psychiatric evaluation the next day. The war ended about a week later, and once he was cleared for duty he served his two years in relative quiet. Since then, he’s bounced from odd job to odd job, moving to America in the late 80’s and finally settling down here… at a waxworks museum, of all places. It’s a strange choice, but then again, he’s a strange man.

Maybe he’s trying to make amends. Keeping watch over these half-living things to make sure no harm comes to them.

[Anna’s footsteps]

[Footsteps stop]

I don’t know if you can hear me. I know you haven’t moved since I covered you up, so I guess that’s a bit of a relief. But I just want you to know that… Whatever you really are — You’re safe here.

[Clack and clatter as tape ejects]

Tape Ends

Bill Tyler

Wow. That was…

Sam Bailey

[Sighs]

Utterly pointless.

Bill Tyler

What do you mean, pointless? That story was…

Sam Bailey

[Shuffling papers]

Completely irrelevant to Sheridan’s disappearance… beside giving me one more name I need to follow up on.

Bill Tyler

Oh come on Sam, you’ve got to admit…

Sam Bailey

I would like you to leave my office now… and I’ll ask you not to tamper with evidence in the future, understood?

Bill Tyler

I didn’t, I… Okay, fine. Point taken.

[Bill’s footsteps move away]

[Office door opens, then closes]

[Sam shuffles papers]

Sam Bailey

[Sighs]

Pointless. Absolutely pointless.

[Beep]

Recording Ends


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