Episode 19: “In Deep Shadow”

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CONTENT WARNING: Loud/disturbing noises, descriptions of a corpse, discussions of police violence, body horror, disturbing elements

Tape 3-4-5-7-32: After the unexpected resurrection of the entity known as De Witt, Sam Bailey interviews the creature about his long history of terror.

Starring Airen Neeley Caconas as Anna Sheridan, Sam Taylor as Doctor Ren Park, Lesley-Anne Hoxie as the waitress, Michael Dostrow as the chief, and Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey and Lieutenant De Witt, 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: Loud/disturbing noises, descriptions of a corpse, discussions of police violence, body horror, disturbing elements

Cold Open

[Muted conversations, the sound of traffic through a window, clattering dishes and silverware]

[Footsteps]

Waitress

Sure you don’t want me to get something started for you, hun?

Ren Park

No, I’m fine, just — still waiting for someone.

Waitress

Well, let me know if you change your mind, okay?

Ren Park

Of course. Thank you.

[Footsteps retreat]

[The door chimes ring as someone enters]

Ren Park 

Anna!

[Anna crosses and sits across from him]

Ren Park 

What took you so long?

Anna Sheridan

Good to see you too, Ren.

Ren Park

Yes, of course. Sorry. I was just… worried something happened.

Anna Sheridan

I’m fine. Just got a little sidetracked on the way here.

Ren Park

With what?

Anna Sheridan

Picked up another signal, just off the highway. Thought I’d better check it out.

Ren Park

Was it… you know, the…

Anna Sheridan

No. Different signature. But it was strong. There’s definitely something here.

Ren Park

Here in Arrowhead?

Anna Sheridan

Here in Oslow County. All of it.

[Papers shuffling, placed on table]

Ren Park

Are these readings accurate?

Anna Sheridan

As far as I can tell, they are.

Ren Park

But… that means…

[Footsteps]

Waitress

Ah good, your friend’s here! What’ll it be, then?

Ren Park

What are you doing…!

Anna Sheridan

Uh, Turkey club on rye. We’ll split it.

Waitress

Fries or salad?

Anna Sheridan

Both.

Waitress

Alrighty then, should have that out to you in no time!

[Footsteps retreat]

Anna Sheridan

What the hell was that?

Ren Park

I could ask you the same question. I hate rye.

Anna Sheridan

Why are you so jumpy?

Ren Park

Why aren’t you? That waitress has been over here at least ten times since I got here. She knows something’s up.

Anna Sheridan

[Scoffs]

What, do you think the wait staff is spying on you now?

Ren Park

Someone is. Security caught someone trying to break into the Merriweather Facility last night. And project files keep going missing off the server. IT keeps telling me it’s just a glitch, but…

Anna Sheridan

Who would be trying to spy on us? Who would even know about this?

Ren Park

I was hoping you could tell me. You don’t think… whatever’s causing these readings might have something to do with it?

Anna Sheridan

I don’t know. Maybe? But there’s just too much on the scanner to make out any clear patterns… Too many different signals, all interfering with one another. It’s almost like…

Ren Park

Almost like what?

Anna Sheridan

Everywhere else I’ve found these things, it’s like they’ve… slipped through the cracks in a wall one by one, bit by bit. Here… here, it almost seems like someone’s opened the floodgates for them.

[Cassette player moter whirs, then stops]

[Click]

[Main Theme]

Tape 3-4-5-7-32

[Cassette noises]

[Click]

[Fluorescent lights hum]

Sam Bailey

Okay Sam… Breathe. Breathe.

God, what were you thinking telling her about Agate Shore? What did you think she wouldn’t mention that it was… That it’s…

[Sam take a deep, shuddering breath]

Huh. It must really say something about me that the only place I can really calm down and think is the morgue… even if I don’t know what it says. I mean, it is quieter than the station, and no one wants to strike up a conversation around a bunch of dead bodies, so… Guess it’s got that going for it.

[Sam walks toward the wall]

Huh. So that’s where you ended up. “John Doe… Alias, De Witt.” Huh. Guess I found your namesake today, didn’t I?

[Sam grabs the handle and pulls open the refrigeration drawer]

God, what a mess this is. You… you knew… I mean, you must have known about Sheridan. Maybe about… all the rest of it too. 

[Sighs]

God, the things you could have told me if you’d just…

Huh… That’s odd. There seems to be… Finger-shaped indentations on the throat. Not bruises, there’s no discoloration but, it… almost like the skin’s been warped or pushed in by…

[Sam touches the skin, and it makes a disturbing squelching noise.

Ugh!

The um, the skin has an — an unusual texture and consistency. Almost like… Well, almost like moulding clay, actually. It still has quite a bit of give, even with the freezing temperatures and the…

[De Witt gasps for air, turning and grabbing Sam]

AH!

De Witt

[voice slightly strained]

Bailey.

Sam Bailey

You… You’re… How are you alive?

De Witt

Get. Me. Out of here.

Sam Bailey

I… I can’t… You…

[Door opens in distance]

Sam Bailey 

Shit… Get your head down.

De Witt

What are you… Oh, no no no no no…

[Sam pushes the drawer closed]

[Footsteps get louder, then stop]

Chief

Bailey? What are you doing down here?

Sam Bailey

Chief! Just, um… Clearing my head. Getting some peace and quiet.

Chief

Are you alright? You look a little worse for wear.

Sam Bailey

I’m… I’m fine. It’s just… the fire. It’s just kind of… rattled me more than I expected.

Chief

That’s understandable. Maybe you should go home and get some rest. I can put some more time off in for you if you need it…

Sam Bailey

No. Thank you, but… No. I’d rather be working right now.

Chief

Suit yourself.

Sam Bailey

Um, what are… Uh, what are you doing down here?

Chief

The same thing as you, I suppose. Guess we both figured out this is the one place in the station where people will leave you well enough alone.

Unless of course, we both end up down here at the same time. Then it kind of falls apart, doesn’t it?

Sam Bailey

I, uh, yeah, I guess it does.

Chief

[Sighs]

Well, I’d better leave you to your… Brooding, I suppose. But please tell me if work gets to be too much before I have to take you off active duty, because I will. Understood?

Sam Bailey

Uh, yes, sir. Of course, sir.

Chief

And try to get some sleep tonight, alright?

Sam Bailey

I’ll try, sir.

[Footsteps as the Chief leaves the morgue]

[The door swings shut behind him]

[Sam sighs]

[Turns and opens the drawer again]

[De Witt coughs violently]

De Witt

Well, thanks for that you son of a…

Sam Bailey

Would you rather he saw you moving around on the slab, huh? How do you think that would have ended?

De Witt

He’d… Ah, shit.

Sam Bailey

Exactly. So shut up or I’ll put you back in that freezer until you decide to cool off.

De Witt

That won’t be necessary detective… Trust me.

Sam Bailey 

Oh, the last thing I’m going to do is trust you.

De Witt

Then why let me out?

Sam Bailey

Because I still think you know something about Sheridan. So, you’re going to tell me what I need to know right now, and then I’ll decide whether to tell the chief about this or not.

De Witt

Hell of a choice.

[Sighs]

Fine. We going to do this in here?

Sam Bailey

You have a better idea?

De Witt

Not really, just… I don’t want to go back in the freezer if your boss comes back ‘round to check on you.

Sam Bailey

That’s, um… that’s actually a good point. Here: We can sneak out the back. I know a place.

[De Witt stands up off the slab]

[Footsteps]

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[The faint sound of freeway traffic]

[Sam opens the door of his car, walks around to the trunk, and pops it open]

De Witt

[Groans]

Thanks for the ride Bailey… Really appreciate it…

[Sam cocks his gun, and De Witt freezes]

De Witt 

So. You bring me out here to shoot me, detective? Seems a good spot for it… Doubt anyone could find a body out here. Huh. Wonder if I’m the first…

Sam Bailey

Just a precaution. One that I will use if you try to get inside my head again.

De Witt

[He climbs out of the trunk, groaning slightly]

Don’t worry… I’ve learned my lesson. Two weeks on ice has left me plenty of time to reflect on my mistakes, after all.

[The trunk closes]

Sam Bailey

How the hell are you even alive? They tagged you with a .308 Round.

I saw you go down. The EMT’s…

De Witt

[Scoffs]

Saw exactly what they wanted to see… Well, maybe they saw exactly what they were supposed to see.

Sam Bailey

What the hell are you, anyway? I know you’re not… Well, not human, at any rate, but…

De Witt

[Chuckles]

Really took you this long to figure that out? Oh, detective, detective… You really need to wake up and smell the petrol. Seems your whole world’s about to go up in smoke.

Sam Bailey

What are you?

De Witt 

[Chuckles]

You want a simple answer, Bailey? Because I don’t have one to give.

Sam Bailey

Look, I don’t need a simple answer — I just need the truth.

De Witt

Oh, the truth. The truth. Such a simple thing to ask for, isn’t it? Such a difficult thing to know, in the end. I’d tell you, sure, but you must understand, detective: the truth is never as singular as you want it to be.

No: I can’t give you the truth. I can’t even give you a truth. All I can give you is a story. That’s all anyone can give, when you get right down to it. Whether it’s true or not…

Sam Bailey

Look, just quit rambling and tell me what you know. And drop that ridiculous accent.

De Witt

[Chuckles]

[Squelching noises]

[Full American drawl]

What, would you prefer this? ‘cause honestly, that’s how all you gun- lovin’, potato-munchin’ hicks ‘round these parts sound to me.

Sam Bailey

Uh, actually, I wouldn’t…

De Witt 

[Squelching noises]

[Heavy, aggressive Russian accent]

Would you rather I went in the opposite direction? I was able to use this voice for quite a long time, you know…

Sam Bailey

Look, just… What’s your real voice?

De Witt

[Squelching noises]

[Cartoonish European voice]

What an interesting question that is… Hmm… I wonder if ever I had a real voice? After all, I only learned your languages by imitation.

[Squelching noises]

[Fluttering and shifting noises]

[A low register mumble]

I suppose this would be the closest thing I have to a “real voice”…

But even this one is stolen for someone, even if I don’t remember who.

Sam Bailey

Please, just… use whichever one you want.

De Witt

[Squelching noises]

[Returns to Australian accent]

Sounds good to me. So… Where do you want me to start?

Sam Bailey

Well… Who you are, first of all… And what you know about Sheridan.

De Witt

[Scoffs]

You mean that thing pretending to be Sheridan, don’t you? I mean, you must have figured it out by now, otherwise you wouldn’t be taking so much of this in stride.

Sam Bailey

I… have some ideas. But I don’t know anything yet.

De Witt

Or you don’t want to know anything yet. But… That’s none of my business, I suppose. So… who am I? Well… That one might take a bit to answer, but I suppose we’ve got time. Long and short of it is… I’m no one. At least, that’s how it was at the start. Don’t remember much of it. Lights in a lightless place. Dark otherwise, and I knew it, even if I didn’t have eyes to see. Voices, though how I heard them, I can’t say. I don’t even know how long I was there. I don’t even know if it’s right to say I was there, or that any time really passed: it was barely like consciousness at all, that state of unbeing. But then, there was a feeling like… unfolding. Unfurling. Like a caterpillar coming out of its cocoon, but painful — the most painful thing I’ve ever felt. The most… anything, I’ve ever felt, to be honest. And then… there was a blinding light. I rose out of a bubbling tar pit to see a hateful ball of fire hanging in a naked sky without the decency to even wear a cloud. And there was the heat…aA heat I couldn’t comprehend, because I didn’t even know I was cold before.

Heat from above, and below, and around, radiating from the sun, the blasted desert, and the tar surrounding me… or rather, I guess, the tar within me. As I moved, it moved with me, shifting and oozing into a form I didn’t recognize: two arms, two legs, five fingers to a hand, and a head almost too heavy to hold up on my own. It was an…

unnerving sensation, to say the least. To suddenly awake from nothingness into a body made of hot, oozing asphalt, clay, and mud, full of feelings I didn’t even know how to quantify? How can I possibly describe that to you in a way you’d understand? No… you can’t even know the half of the fear I felt that day.

There was a single moment of silence — a merciful quiet to mark my first moments in this new world, with only the wind and the rake of sand blown over loose stone to disturb it. And then that silence was shattered by a scream: a high-pitched, irritating noise that filled my head in a way I never knew a sound could. I turned to look at where it came from, and saw a young woman, backing away from the edge of the tar pit. There was a small wooden boat near the edge of it, just large enough for one person and partially sealed with still-wet tar from the pit. She must have been finishing the craft when I emerged and startled her away. Of course, I didn’t realize any of that until years later… I just saw a creature that looked vaguely like my own unfamiliar form, getting smaller and smaller in the distance as they ran.

It took me nearly an hour to struggle out of the pit under my own strength. My limbs were still wet and unformed, and moving them only served to tear large chunks of asphalt from them. It wasn’t painful…

That’s something you need to understand about it. I didn’t feel pain, as such: it was uncomfortable as all hell, but it didn’t hurt. Nothing “hurts” me, the way you think of it. I was aware I was losing bits of myself, but I was also aware I could replace them just as easily if I needed to. By the time I was on the shore, I was a good deal smaller than I’d been at the start… No bigger than a child, and no wiser. I blinked eyes I didn’t even know I had, and took in the wide desert around me, mottled with dry shrub and pale rocks, and wondered what kind of hellish place I’d found myself in. And as I wondered at that, I felt an arrow cut into my side.

[Chuckles]

Of course it didn’t hurt — but that doesn’t mean it was a pleasant feeling, either. I grabbed at it with one half-formed hand, but it more or less just melted and sloshed around the arrow without getting a grip. I looked up to see another person approaching: older this time, and holding a bow that looked just about as ancient as he was. It shook a little in his hands as he raised it, another arrow already on the string. I realized what was about to happen, and without thinking, I made my body pull the arrow into my chest. The whole thing just vanished into my side in an instant, and I felt it there: the sharp edges of the arrowhead, the rough wood of the shaft, and the soft feathers of the fletching. I regretted it later: I was vomiting splinters for the next few hours as I more or less digested it. But even so, it was worth it. Because when I drew that arrow into myself, I understood.

Sam Bailey

Understood… what?

De Witt

The kind of world I was in. It was solid and real… Or at least, they thought it was. Maybe it was really as unformed and chaotic as the place I came from, but it was fashioned by these people into what they needed: an arrow, a half-finished boat, a way of perceiving the landscape around them in a way that made sense. The world I came from was a world of unbeing: of unknowables and unrealities.

But this… this was a world of makers. Crafters. People who took one look at the chaos around them and decided it had meaning, that it had a purpose… even if that purpose was to kill. And believe me, I felt that purpose when I absorbed the arrow. When the hunter loosed it, he meant to remove me from this world, permanently. Even though I didn’t really understand what it meant to die, in that moment I understood just what it meant to kill.

And so… that’s what I did. Before the old hunter could lose a second arrow, I was on top of him, bashing his head against the rocks until he stopped moving. I don’t know how I moved so fast — my legs were still unformed lumps of tar and wet mud. But I felt fear: my first real fear. The fear that this creature would kill me unless I killed them first. I know better now: they couldn’t have killed me even if they’d used every arrow in their quiver. But hidden in that intent to kill was the fear of death that created it in the first place.

As soon as the hunter stopped moving, I fell to the ground, what little strength I had gone. The sun was low in the sky by then, and the world was growing dark already. I was thankful for that much… I could already tell my eyes were meant for the night, not the blinding light of day. I didn’t think anyone would come for the hunter: he’d been summoned here by the young woman, and he certainly wasn’t going anywhere. So I just sat there, staring at his corpse as the dark gathered around us. Out of curiosity, I compared our hands, our limbs, our heights. I could see I was much smaller than him, and my arms and legs were lopsided and misshapen. I crawled closer, and, almost without realizing what I was doing, I placed my hand over his and did the same thing I did to the arrow: I pulled it into myself.

Before I even realized what was happening, the form I had before melted, covering the hunter’s body from head to toe. I felt it all then: everywhere that body had ever been, everything that mind had ever known, everything this person had learned and done and forgotten in their entire life. I flowed over and through him like water, and when I passed through on the other side, I was whole again… Whole, tall, and strong as the old hunter, while his body had been stripped of flesh and muscle all the way down to the bone. I knew what I’d done then: I’d killed someone, and those who knew and cherished him would soon come to try and kill me. So I did the only thing I could think of: I dumped the bones in the tar pit, and fled in the opposite direction of the one the hunter came from.

Turns out, that direction was north. I don’t remember much of that first journey… even with all I’d gained from the hunter, I didn’t know how far or how long I’d have to run before I was safe, and I always felt like I was in danger, even if I never was.

I stopped and hunted when I grew hungry, slept when I grew tired, and searched for shelter when the sun grew too hot for me to endure. And yet, I didn’t have to do any of it. All I knew about life in this world came from a person made of flesh and bone who needed to eat, sleep, and shelter from the sun.

I’d learned those weaknesses, and even if I didn’t really share them, I felt like I did. I only began to really notice the differences between myself and the hunter when the sun began to vanish behind the clouds more often than not, and the air grew colder and sharper as winter rolled in. I knew that cold was a danger to humans, but as my legs began to turn solid and icy below me, I realized for the first time just how different I was from the creature I’d killed. I might look like them, feel like them, and even share their hunger and fear for a time… But I wasn’t one of them, and never would be.

I arrived on the shores of an inland sea as one especially cold night closed in, and I saw snow for the first time. Unable to go any further, I drifted off into what I thought of as sleep, and when the sun rose the next morning, I found my whole body solidified into one solid, unmoving mass.

I wish I could say I spent that first winter in a kind of… hibernation. That I slept through the frozen months, unaware of what was happening to me. But no… This new world was not so kind. I pretended to sleep when I could, though I didn’t really rest… I didn’t need to. So I just shut my eyes and pretended I couldn’t feel my whole body wanting to move, but being unable to.

I saw the clay of my bare arms and legs frost over and crack in a way no human skin would, and I knew, long before the winter ended, what I was. Death couldn’t touch me. Cold could harm and immobilize me, but no touch of mortality would ever slow me down.

When the winter ended and I slowly thawed out, I meant to go south again, but I was spotted by another group of hunters wearing bright,  fur lined clothing, and I was caught before I had strength enough to run. They brought me back to their longboats for reasons I couldn’t understand… I’d learned one language from the hunter, but it had almost nothing in common with the tongue of these pale strangers. They tried to return me to yet another unfamiliar group of humans, but when they didn’t recognize me, they brought me back and bundled me into one of their boats for the trip home. I suppose they thought I wouldn’t survive on my own and took pity on me, for some reason. Though I never really found out why: after they’d rowed back to their home across the ocean and given me clothing better suited for the cold, I escaped and fled in the direction I still knew was south. They hunted me, of course, and almost caught me in a small farming village outside what I now know was Kiev. I was hiding in the loft of a small barn when the owner wandered in, completely unaware of my presence. Killing him was easy — easier than it had been with the hunter, even though I knew he meant me no harm. By the time the hunters found me, I’d learned enough from the farmer’s corpse to convince them this was my barn, my home. I gave them a few wheels of cheese I knew were still fresh and sent  them on their merry way.

I settled down for quite a while in that village. The farmer was a widower with no children and no living relatives, so it was easy enough to be left alone. Not needing to eat, I made quite a bit of money off the crop of the land and the animals in the barn. A few people noticed that I wasn’t quite the same as the old farmer… I still wasn’t quite used to faces and voices yet, so my attempts to match them were far from perfect. Still, this was medieval Europe, and making a few people disappear or fall prey to unfortunate accidents wasn’t too difficult. In fact, one might almost say it was too easy, and sooner than I would have liked the other villagers realized those deaths and disappearances were all clustered around the rich farmer who hadn’t aged a day in nearly fifty years. They thought I was drinking their blood for eternal youth, of course, but I didn’t feel like sticking around to correct them. I fled south just before they stormed the farm and burned it to the ground.

I wandered for a bit after that, looking for a new place to settle down, before I ran across a procession of troops just outside Constantinople. I’d heard rumors of a crusade, and though I didn’t know anything about war, that killing instinct I’d first learned from the hunter was still deep in my bones… or, the bits of me that looked like bones, at least. The other gaps in my knowledge weren’t too hard to fix… I ate my fill of warriors of every nation and creed at the siege of Nicaea, and no one noticed their absence in the aftermath. By the time we reached the holy land, I wore the face and armor of a crusading lord, and I relished in it. That wasn’t my first taste of violence, not by a long shot… but it was my first real taste of the power that comes with it. It was a lesson I’d never forget.

[He sighs]

But all wars end, and even though there were many more crusades, I’d more or less had my fill. I returned to France and took the lands and titles of the lord I’d replaced, living once again in wealth and comfort, but this time with power and privilege over those around me. And I now knew well enough to add the marks of age to my face as the years went by. A few people still had to disappear in the intervening years of course… unlucky servants and courtesans who stumbled in on me while I was adjusting my face or repairing some accidental injury.

But sooner or later, I knew I’d have to abandon that comfortable seat of power and at least pretend to die. So, on the fourth of April, 1151, I died quietly in my bed and was buried in the estate’s mausoleum. Escaping was easy enough, and I slipped away into the countryside one foggy night nearly a week later.

I spent my next life as a gamekeeper on an estate in England after the old one suffered a particularly well-timed accident. It was a good enough life, though it did me little good to kill things that weren’t really afraid of me. Sure, I saw terror in their eyes just before they went dark, but they didn’t really respect me until I put an arrow in their flanks. I ended their life prematurely, in much the same way I ended the old gamekeeper’s.

Getting out of a commoner’s grave was slightly more difficult, of course, but once I got through the lid of the coffin and clawed my way up through the loose dirt, I knew I wouldn’t be doing that again… not if I could help it.

And for the most part, I could: I cheated, killed, and stole my way into positions of power all across Europe. I’ve been a duke, a duchess, a priest, a landlord, a bailiff… at one point I was even a prince, but an unfortunate accident at Easter mass put an end to that before I could inherit the throne. The years passed, and I really just took each life as it came. It was… odd at first, to see the people I knew — and in some cases, cared for — age and die, but by that point my life ran on a completely different tempo to theirs. I missed some of them, sure, but eventually, death became just as inevitable as the cold of winter to me: I didn’t enjoy it, but it didn’t really harm me either. The world moved on, and I moved on with it.

[Chuckles]

It moved on a bit too much, too quickly, in fact. One moment, it seemed, a new continent was found across the sea, the next there were colonies all across it, and the next those colonies were in open rebellion and then free. I didn’t see the shape of what was coming until it was far too late. By that point, I was living as a noblewoman in Paris, wed to a member of the Estates General. I could have done better — I was doing better — but I fell out of favor at Versailles when the royal family began to suspect my involvement with an assassination attempt. I married mostly to avoid having to fake my death again, but he was a kind man, and he left me with money and freedom enough to hold some measure of power.

It wasn’t enough for me though, and I’d already planned to end it before its time when he came home one night drunk and enraged, saying that the commoners in the third estate had broken off and formed their own legislation. I realized then what was coming. I made a show of consoling and comforting him and got him into bed early. As soon as he was fast asleep, I took his head in both hands and twisted until I heard his neck snap. I’ve never been the strongest creature, so it took a bit of doing… Creating muscles that move naturally is difficult enough without trying to make them powerful. But I managed it in the end, and thankfully he never woke. I emptied the house of valuables, stashed them where I knew I could find them again, and took the face of one of the more charismatic members of the old crusading party. I quickly found my place and power with the revolutionaries, and let me tell you, the reign of terror was the most fun I’d had in centuries. Of course, it all fell apart after a while, and I ended up under the guillotine by the end. That was a bit harder to recover from, but once I found my head and reattached it, I left France for good and never really looked back.

I could go on, I guess — but the intervening centuries haven’t been much different. It took me a while to sort out who had power in this brave new world, but I always seemed to find it in the end. The plantations of the American South. The British Raj. The Bolshevik Revolution. And Australia, of course… A penal colony needs overseers, after all. But one by one, those all went away… People were freed or freed themselves, the revolutions ended, and I found myself back at the bottom of the ladder every time.

I came back to America to join in on the Red Scare, but by the time I got anywhere McCarthy was disgraced and I was back to the drawing board. It was on one particularly hot afternoon in Los Angeles, just a few miles from the tar pits where I suspected I’d been born, that I finally had my epiphany. Of course, it had to come in the form of a particularly nasty police officer who told me I couldn’t loiter on the park bench. I was living on the streets at the time and not really paying much attention to my appearance, so I was looking rather scruffy. When I asked him why I couldn’t, he answered me with a baton across the head. I was knocked over, so I pretended to be stunned… I even put on a bit of blood for show.

That didn’t stop him though: he hit me again and again while the good, respectable citizens all around us just… watched. Too scared, or maybe too brainwashed, to do anything about it. I could barely keep myself from grinning… I knew I’d found my answer then. I’d been thinking about it all wrong. Money, position, breeding… those were what gave me power before, and they were getting harder and harder to come by. But a uniform? An idea of power? One small change to my appearance, and I could do pretty much whatever I wanted.

I was shoved into the back of a police cruiser by him and his partner, but that car never made it back to the station. They found it two weeks later in Red Rock Canyon, burnt out with two blackened skeletons in the front seat.

[Scoffs]

So what do you think of my story, detective? My truth?

Sam Bailey

How… how old are you?

De Witt

[Chuckles]

Old enough to know better. Younger than the mountains, older than the trees.

Sam Bailey

How much of that was… Actually true?

De Witt

Most of it. Some of it. All of it. What does it matter? It’s not like you can prove any of it true or false… Not in your pathetic lifespan, at least.

Sam Bailey

So then why should I believe any of it?

De Witt

No reason at all. Believe it, doubt it, build a religion around it… I really don’t care. Is it useful to believe it? Maybe. Does it get you closer to the truth about Sheridan? More than likely. But you’d better stop going back and forth on it, Bailey — trust me, you don’t have the time for that.

Sam Bailey

What do you mean, I don’t have time?

De Witt

That thing pretending to be Sheridan… It’s not like me. It’s not content to be itself. To be singular. It reflects. It expands. And it grows with every voice it steals, every body it duplicates. Sheridan is just the start… A voice people will listen to, a face they know and trust. But it won’t stop there. It will never stop.

Sam Bailey

You’re… saying that it’s trying to… What, replace people?

De Witt 

[Chuckles]

No no no, Detective… it’s trying to replace humanity. Replace it with its own version of humankind. And trust me, neither of us want that to happen. I kind of like humans just the way they are: stupid, and easy to fool.

Sam Bailey

So what am I supposed to do about it?

De Witt

How the hell should I know? I’m not the one who needs to put a stop to it. But if you get nothing else from my story Bailey, get this… that things only work in your favor when you’re willing to do whatever it takes to win. Speaking of which…

[The butt of a pistol hits Sam’s head]

[Sam grunts in pain, then collapses]

You really should’ve been paying more attention. It’s remarkably easy to get inside your head.

[Keys rattling]

[Footsteps]

[Car door opens, then closes]

[Engine starts, and car drives off]

[Silence]

[Clack and clatter as the tape ejects]

Tape Ends


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