Episode 12: “This Dark Sojourn”

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CONTENT WARNING: Aquaphobia, near-drowning, descriptions of self-mutilation, death, and shipwrecks, some strong language

Tape 1-7-1-2-8: Hiking the PCT with Maria Sol, Anna Sheridan takes a detour to visit Lake Tahoe and investigate the supposed haunting of Fannette Island by one Captain Dick Barter.

Starring Airen Neeley Chaconas as Anna Sheridan, Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, Michael Dostrow as the mysterious voice, and Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Additional music from Internet Archive (archive.org/audio). 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: Aquaphobia, near-drowning, descriptions of self-mutilation, death, and shipwrecks, some strong language

Cold Open

[A quiet hospital ward late in the evening]

[Heart rate monitor beeping]

[Fabric rustling]

Mysterious Voice

It’s remarkably lucky that you’re alive right now. I do hope you know that, in whatever way you can. That you know just how fortunate it is that you survived your little… encounter. For both of us. 

[Sighs]

I do wonder how much of it you’ll remember, though. Really remember, that is. Experiences like this… They tend to recede into the realm of the half-remembered. Of dreams and nightmares. And if the doctors are right about the extent of your injuries… Then it might be gone completely.

I do hope it’s only the memory that’s lost. We need the rest of you here: your abilities, your obsession, your drive. If any of this is going to work, then we need all that you have to offer us.

[Chuckles]

I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we. Yes… Wait and see what comes out of all this.

[Footsteps]

[He leans closer]

Make it a good one, yes? For your sake, if no one else’s.

[Cassette player motor whirs, stops]

[Click]

[Main Theme]

Recording Begins

[Cassette player whirring]

[Keyboard clicking]

[Beep]

Sam Bailey

[Sighs]

I’ve been staring at this thing for hours now, trying to make some sense of it. “The Last Will and Testament of Anna Sheridan.” Found, supposedly, in the glovebox of her camper van, just outside Oslow. And it just says one word: “Listen.”

[He picks up a cassette from the pile]

Maybe I’m being too literal, but… She says listen, and that’s all I can really do. At least until I get more information on De Witt. If that ever happens.

[He feeds the tape into the player]

Okay. Detective Samuel Bailey, Oslow County Police Department Homicide division, recording tape number 1-7-1-2-8 on April 16th, 2019 at 9:01pm.

[Click]

Tape 1-7-1-2-8

[Hiss of static, then fades]

[Two sets of boots crunching along a rocky trail]

Anna Sheridan

Alright… Today is May 25th, 2016. PCT Through Hike, Day 75. It’s been tough going the last few days, but thankfully Maria was kind enough to allow me a very self-indulgent turnoff down the Granite Lake trail. Granted, we just passed the lake, but she hasn’t asked where we’re going yet, so I figured now would be as good a time as any to…

Maria Sol

Hey, are you recording?

Anna Sheridan

That I am.

Maria Sol

What for?

Anna Sheridan

Because… We’re here.

[Anna’s footsteps stop, and Maria’s get closer until she’s next to Anna]

Maria Sol

Whoah.

Anna Sheridan

How’s that for a view?

Maria Sol

Eh… I’ve seen better.

Anna Sheridan

Where?

Maria Sol

Um… Hold on, give me a second to think of one.

Anna Sheridan

Well in the meantime, don’t say I never take you anywhere nice.

Maria Sol

Besides the crumbling ruins and haunted houses, you mean? Yeah — this is a nice change of pace.

Anna Sheridan

Don’t be so sure. Check it out.

Maria Sol

Where?

Anna Sheridan

Down there in the inlet. That, Maria Sol, is Emerald Bay, and that little rock in the middle of it is Fannette Island.

Maria Sol

Please tell me that’s not what I think it is.

Anna Sheridan

That it is. You’re looking at the mortal remains of Lora Josephine Knight’s tea house. She had it built about the same time as her summer home… Right over there, on the opposite shore.

Maria Sol

Jeez, that’s a summer home?

Anna Sheridan

Vikingsholm. Built 1929. 38 Rooms, Scandinavian construction, American Craftsman style.

Maria Sol

Haunted?

Anna Sheridan

Unfortunately not. At least not that I can tell.

Maria Sol

Darn, that’s a shame. Guess we’d better get going back, then…

Anna Sheridan

The island’s haunted, though.

Maria Sol

What?

Anna Sheridan

Or maybe the whole bay, come to think of it. Harried by the soul of one Captain Dick Barter.

Maria Sol

Okay, are you pulling my leg now, or…

Anna Sheridan

[Chuckling]

Hand on my heart, that’s his real name. Also known as “them’s my toes” Barter.

Maria Sol

Come on Anna, I’m not an idiot…

Anna Sheridan

He was an undertaker for the Overland Stage Company in the mid-19th century. Lived on the bay from about, mmm… 1860 to 1870, I think. He owned a little sailing boat called the Nancy, which he sailed up and down the lake to visit bars, drink everyone under the table, and tell stories… Mostly about himself. One night, he got caught in a bad storm, and the ship capsized in the lake. He managed to float back to Emerald Bay, crawl into his little boat house, and then pass out for several days.

When he woke up, two of his toes had gone gangrenous, so he had to cut them off himself to stop the infection from killing him.

[Soft bird whistles]

Maria Sol

That’s… a bit extreme.

Anna Sheridan

Who am I to judge? Of course, it did nothing to make him any more bearable… If anything, it seems like it made him worse. Whenever he had guests over, he’d tell the story, go into the other room, and come back with an old cigar box.

He’d hold it up to their faces, open it, and proudly say: “them’s

my toes!”

Maria Sol

Jesus Anna, there’s no way that’s true.

Anna Sheridan

All true. Except for the cigar box… I have no idea what kind of box he kept them in.

Maria Sol

Yeah. Sure. So… Haunted?

Anna Sheridan

Oh yes. Barter, for all his… eccentricities, was an undertaker by trade. He knew just how much preparation it took to ensure a proper burial this far out into the wild. So after his — toe-cutting incident, he built his own crypt on the summit of Fannette Island and told everyone at the bars and saloons that if he died, they should bury him there. Earned it the nickname “Dead Man’s Island” for a while.

Maria Sol

So, what, he’s buried down there? Not worth the hike down, I think.

Anna Sheridan

Not quite.

Maria Sol

What? Well where’s he buried, then?

Anna Sheridan

He isn’t.

Maria Sol

What’s that supposed to mean?

Anna Sheridan

About three years later, he was caught in another storm, and this time, he wasn’t so lucky. His ship ran into the rocks and disintegrated on impact. As far as anyone can tell, he was pulled below water and drowned… But they never found his body. Only a bit of wreckage, and one of the oars.

Maria Sol

What happened to the other one?

Anna Sheridan

They found it four months later, floating in the middle of the lake, completely undamaged. Stories began to spread after that, of course.

That Barter had carried it with him into the depths, and only let go of it months later. That he was still alive at the bottom of the lake, somehow. That on evenings when the air is cold and sun is down, he rises out of the fog and climbs to the summit of the island, trying to return to his tomb and find peace.

[After a moment’s silence — a slow clap from Maria]

Maria Sol

Bravo, Anna. You’ve creeped me out yet again.

Anna Sheridan

I do my best. Want to see it?

Maria Sol

Do we have to hike down?

Anna Sheridan

Unfortunately yes.

Maria Sol

[Sighs]

Alright. But it better be worth it.

Anna Sheridan

Trust me: it will be.

[Footsteps]

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[Waves lap gently on the rocks. A small fire crackles]

Anna Sheridan

Alright, all set up for the night, so I can finally record again. It took a while to get out here to the island — the owner of the marina didn’t want to rent us a boat after hours, but I talked her ‘round. Had to pay for two full days to do it, but still, we made it here before dark. Unfortunately we’re not allowed to camp out here, but we can stay for a few hours after sundown and see what we can see. I found a couple of dry branches on the way up to the crest, and managed to get the fire going pretty quickly. We’re definitely going to need it. It’s already dropped below 40, and it’s just going to keep getting colder. A freezing, foggy night — just what I…

[Footsteps clamber over the ridge]

[Maria drops a heavy bunch of branches on the ground]

Maria Sol

Next time — You get the wood, and I’ll start the fire.

Anna Sheridan

No way. I’ve seen you try to light one. Not a pretty picture.

Maria Sol

Well maybe if you’d share the lighter fluid, I’d have better luck.

Anna Sheridan

Nope. Sheridan family recipe. Can’t share it with a living soul.

Maria Sol

Oh come on, I can literally see that bottle, it’s just…

Anna Sheridan

Ah-ah-ah — Trade secret.

Maria Sol

Fine. Keep your secrets, and I’ll keep mine.

Anna Sheridan

[Chuckles]

What secrets? I think you’ve blogged them all away at this point.

Maria Sol

Oh. Right.

Anna Sheridan

Pro-tip, Maria… Always have a few secrets in reserve. That way conversations never get boring.

Maria Sol

Well then how do you keep from running out, huh?

Anna Sheridan

Simple. Keep making up new ones.

[Maria laughs. So does Anna]

Maria Sol

Looks like the sun’s down now. How long do you think it’ll take your ghost captain to turn up?

Anna Sheridan

The fog’s already getting pretty thick down there. Shouldn’t be more than an hour or so now, I guess.

Maria Sol

Good. You have the scanner ready?

Anna Sheridan

No — I thought you had it.

Maria Sol

What? No I don’t.

Anna Sheridan

Yes, you do. It was in your backpack when we left.

Maria Sol

I gave it back to you to charge, remember? You told me you’d plug it into the solar panels this morning.

Anna Sheridan

Shit.

[Anna unzips her pack, pulls out scanner, and flicks it on]

[One pitiful beep, then it dies]

Anna Sheridan 

Oh — wonderful.

Maria Sol

So — how screwed are we?

Anna Sheridan

Submarine without a sonar screwed. We need to get back to the boat.

Maria Sol

Can’t we stay for just a little while? See if he even turns up?

Anna Sheridan

Well… Maybe, but…

No, we have no idea what we’re really dealing with out here, and I’d prefer not to have some eldritch monstrosity come slithering out of the dark without any warning. You?

Maria Sol

No, I’m with you on that, it’s just…

Anna Sheridan

I can’t risk both of us on a hunch. Douse the fire, we’ve got to go.

[Shuffling clothes, Maria kicking dirt over the fire]

[Footsteps rushing down the side of the island]

Anna Sheridan 

Watch that drop …

Maria Sol

I see it, I see it… Where’s the boat?

Anna Sheridan

Over there, just past the trees.

Maria Sol

You sure?

Anna Sheridan

Yes, just go!

[They move through the trees. The sound of waves gets louder]

[Anna pushes the boat into the water]

[A pair of oars rise and fall in the water]

Maria Sol

Figure that’s far enough?

Anna Sheridan

That should be fine — the stories are all about the island, so we should be safe out here on the water. Hopefully.

Maria Sol

That’s reassuring.

Anna Sheridan

I’d think you’d be used to should be’s and possibly’s by now. Certainty’s the price of admission out here.

Maria Sol

Are you still recording?

Anna Sheridan 

Always.

Maria Sol

Why?

Anna Sheridan

What?

Maria Sol

Well, I meant to ask you on the trail… I mean, you pull that thing out at the drop of a hat… Sometimes even when you’re not talking to it. I was just wondering why.

Anna Sheridan

Well — to keep track of things, for one. That’s probably the main reason. Getting a firsthand account of what I see and hear. These things tend to blur together a bit if you let them… I think it’s the brain’s way of protecting itself from impossibilities when it can’t just forget them.

Seeing what kinds of distortions show up on the tape helps me classify them too. That was an unexpected bonus when I stopped using digital recordings. And, well… maybe it’s… that I’m afraid.

Maria Sol 

You? Afraid? Of what?

Anna Sheridan

I don’t know… Being forgotten, I guess? Lost without a trace? No, that’s not it. I guess it’s being… misremembered.

Maria Sol

So you put everything on tape… What, so that people know that you really were the crazy ghost hunter everyone already thinks you are?

Anna Sheridan

No, that’s not… Look!

[Static rises on tape]

Maria Sol

What? Where?

Anna Sheridan

On the island, down by the shoreline. Can you see him?

Maria Sol

I can’t see anything with this fog.

Anna Sheridan

It’s him, I know it’s him. He’s at the water’s edge… He just walked right out of the lake!

[Wooden knocking noises start up]

Maria Sol

I don’t see anything… Are you pulling my leg again, or are you…

Anna Sheridan

Whoa, watch the boat, you’re going to tip us over…

Maria Sol

No I’m not…

Anna Sheridan

Maria, stop, I — Ah!

[Splash]

[Faint swimming noises]

Maria Sol

Anna! Come on, grab my hand, I’ll pull you back in..

[Anna surfaces, coughing up water]

Maria Sol 

Come on Anna, grab hold…

Anna Sheridan

I can’t, something’s got me…

[Loud splash as Anna goes under]

Maria Sol

Anna!

[Shuffling as Maria pulls off her coat and dives in after Anna]

[The boat rocks, knocking over the recorder]

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[Another campfire burning nearby]

[Anna shivers slightly as she speaks]

Anna Sheridan

Okay — I can finally move my fingers enough to start the recorder… Thankfully I dropped it in the boat right before I went in. Doubt it would survive the swim any better than I did…

[Maria’s footsteps approach from nearby]

Maria Sol

Here: these are all the blankets they had at the marina. And a hot water bottle too, but I had to buy it from the store and pay for…

Anna Sheridan 

It’s fine, Maria. Sit down, take a load off. It’s been a long night, for both of us.

Maria Sol

I’m not tired, I just… Okay. Yes I am.

[She shifts to sit next to Anna by the fire]

Anna Sheridan

Don’t feel bad about this. Trust me, it could have ended much worse.

Maria Sol

I still wish I’d been faster.

Anna Sheridan

You saved my life, Maria. Don’t forget that.

Maria Sol

You still haven’t told me what actually happened.

Anna Sheridan

What’s there to talk about? I fell in, you jumped in after me, and then you rowed my half-frozen carcass back to shore.

Maria Sol

No, I mean… When you came out of the water, you had a… A weird look on your face. I mean, you almost looked…

Anna Sheridan

Looked what?

Maria Sol

…Haunted. Like you saw something down there.

[The fire crackles]

Anna Sheridan

No. 

Maria Sol

No?

Anna Sheridan

I didn’t see anything down there. I… I heard something. Something in the water.

Maria Sol

What was it?

Anna Sheridan

I don’t know… It sounded like a human voice, but you know how much that’s worth with these things.

Maria Sol

Well… What did it say, then?

Anna Sheridan

It asked me something. I couldn’t hear it very clearly — you were already hauling me out of the water by then. But I think it was something like…

“What would you do to save yourself?”

Maria Sol

Did you… say anything back?

Anna Sheridan

Of course I didn’t. The boat was right there. I didn’t need any supernatural help to get out of the water — just you.

Maria Sol

And… if I hadn’t been there?

[Silence]

Anna Sheridan

You asked me why I record everything. What I’m afraid of.

Maria Sol

Yeah, and you didn’t really answer.

Anna Sheridan

That’s because I didn’t know. Not really. But I think I figured it out.

Maria Sol

So?

Anna Sheridan

You remember what I told you about the captain? How he knew that death would come for him sooner or later, so he made preparations for it?

Maria Sol

Dug his own grave, you mean?

Anna Sheridan

Told people what to do with his body. Turned it into a story. Made it memorable, unmistakable…so powerful we’re still talking about it, almost a century and a half later.

Maria Sol

So you think he did all that — what, to make sure he had a legacy?

Anna Sheridan

Neither of us are going to be here forever, Maria. And I’ve spent enough time dealing with ghosts to know that the marks of our passage last far longer than we do. I just want to make sure that I leave a good one.

[Clack and clatter as tape ejects]

Tape Ends

Sam Bailey

[Sighs]

Marks of our passage… Huh. Well, I’ve got yours here, Sheridan: a hundred cassette tapes and one sheet of paper, just telling me to listen. What story are you trying to tell me here, huh?

[Chuckles]

“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying…”

No… wait. There is something here. It’s frail, but… there are connections. That phrase, that… question she heard in the water. I know I’ve heard it somewhere else. She’s talked about water before too — on the Donner Pass tape, and the one about the well, and…

There’s somewhere else, but… I can’t remember right now. Maybe I — Maria Sol.

She’s on two of those tapes, at least. And it seems like she knew Anna better than I thought. I don’t think anyone on the original investigation team interviewed her, but… Maybe she has some answers for me.

[Sam reaches over and picks up the phone, dialing]

[Beep]

Recording Ends


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