Episode 42: "Ashes Gone Cold" – The Sheridan Tapes
CONTENT WARNING: Paranoia, isolation, terror, descriptions of a murder, and mentions of blood.
11042019: In an isolated cabin soon to be cut off by the first snow of winter, Sam Bailey tries to fill the hours of another quiet morning. But his time in the mountains is drawing to an end, and the cabin might not be as empty as it seems…
Starring Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, and Sam Taylor as Doctor Ren Park, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written by Virginia Spotts and produced by Trevor Van Winkle and Virginia Spotts, and made possible by our supporters at Patreon.com/homesteadcorner and ko-fi.com/homesteadcorner
For more information, additional content, and episode transcript, visit thesheridantapes.com
CONTENT WARNING: Paranoia, isolation, terror, descriptions of a murder, and mentions of blood.
[Someone is running down the hard floor of a busy, open office]
[Their footsteps slow, conversations drift in and out, and a nearby phone rings before they step inside an office and shut a door]
[Someone crosses the room, sits, and dials their own phone]
[Dial tone, someone answers]
Dr. Caldwell – yes, I know you’re with the board, but… No this couldn’t wait.
No, I can’t just send an email, either.
[pause, listening as they leave the room, shifting in their chair]
You’re sure they can’t hear you?
Good. Listen – we have a situation in Oslow.
No, not good. Lieutenant Tyler found site zero.
Yes. No, I don’t know how he managed it – I believe he followed someone. I’m not sure who.
Hm. That’s a definite possibility. But if they’re one of Edgar’s associates – we may have less time than we thought.
[Static fades away]
[The recorder is set down]
[The wind is starting to howl outside as Sam strikes a match and plunges it into a mass of kindling]
[The woodfire catches and burns, and Sam closes the stove before standing up]
Sam Bailey, Monday, November 4th, 2019. 7:31am. Overcast this morning. Cold too. I don’t have my phone or – well, any way to check the forecast, but… It definitely feels like the snow is finally coming.
[Sam blows into his hands, rubbing them and holding them out to the fire]
[The wind blows against the cabin siding in gusts]
[After a moment, the wind mingles with something else – closer and quieter, like the muffled noise of a struggle, or knocking]
That doesn’t sound like the wind… Almost sounds like it’s coming from the basement?
[Sam stands and walks towards the door]
[His footsteps creak as he stops in front of it. He gently places one hand on the wood as he leans in]
[From behind the door, a faint sound is heard: like the ragged breathing of two people trapped inside. Something thumps against the stairs]
[Sam draws a sharp breath]
[He steps away, grabs a nearby bookshelf, and drags it in front of the door, grunting as he does]
[Whatever’s down below grows louder, but quiets down once the bookshelf is in place]
[Sam hesitates, then walks back and sits down next to the fire again]
No clue what that is, but there’s no way I’m going back down there to –
[He cuts off as the sound of struggle starts up again, then stops]
They’ve stopped. I wonder if –
[Static rises on the tape slightly]
[They immediately grow louder, breaking a glass in the chaos]
[The static cuts out]
Never mind… Sorry. Whatever they are, I guess they want their privacy, which… Hey, I get that. Wouldn’t want someone else snooping around in my head, trying to feel my emotions.
Or maybe… Are they just reacting to me? What I’m doing up here?
[After a moment, Sam stands and walks across the room. As he does, the spirits groan and struggle]
[Sam stops, and they go quiet again]
[More quietly, he tip-toes back to the couch. Whatever’s in the basement doesn’t make any noise]
Well then. I guess it’s going to be a quiet morning after all. Good. I had some reading I wanted to finish up. And this log, but – No use wasting tape if I can’t actually talk.
I wonder how long they’ll stick around?
[The wind outside has calmed slightly, and the sounds of struggle downstairs are still quiet]
[A fire crackles]
It’s about… Mid-day, sometime around noon. I’ve been sitting next to the fire all morning, reading, staring out the window, that kind of thing. If I move around too quickly or talk too loudly, then – they start up again.
It sounds like there’s two of… Whatever’s in the basement. And I haven’t tried to feel for them again – that just seems to piss them off more than anything. I don’t know quite what to make of it. Sure, I’ve noticed an odd energy around the cabin over the last six months, and a few of my things seemed to move by themselves now and then, but… I don’t know. It hasn’t been enough to notice, not with everything else going on around here. Not until this morning, that is.
I’ve been trying to remember everything that Bill told me about this place – which isn’t much, to be honest. He really didn’t want to answer any of my questions about the cabin when I got here, and I didn’t press the issue. I seem to remember there was a case involving a cabin in the woods when I first joined Oslow PD, but I was still getting settled in and I wasn’t – Well, I was being a bit of a prick, to be honest. I was still grieving Allen, but – I wasn’t handling it well. Taking it out on other people. Especially Bill.
I guess I’m paying for it now, though – I would at least have a little bit of trickle-down information about this place if I’d actually been willing to engage. People can’t really keep secrets in a department that small… at least, not from other officers. But I actively avoided any situation where I might have heard something useful about this place.
I do remember there was a double homicide – a cold case from years back that had just been solved. The scene was somewhere up in the mountains, a few hours outside of Oslow. They tried to keep things pretty hush hush, I think… The cabin was well outside our jurisdiction, maybe even across state lines. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to guess that’s where I am now, if it’s been abandoned and scrubbed clean. That would explain Bill’s hesitation to tell me anything – especially if the bodies were only found last year.
I wonder how much of the “old cabin smell” in here is just the decay they couldn’t scrub out of the woodwork.
Maybe that’s why I’m hearing those things down in the basement now, though. If I’m right about this place, it’s almost exactly a year since those bodies were discovered. “The veil” is probably even thinner that usual right now, between that anniversary and my being here, messing around with the supernatural. That’s probably why they’re angry with me – I didn’t bother to get them anything.
[Knocking downstairs, brief static on the tape]
I guess all I can do is stay quiet and just – hope they go away. Or I could try pushing them away, but – that just doesn’t feel right. If they were killed in this cabin, then they have more right to be here than I do, honestly.
[Sam sits in the quiet for a moment, thinking]
It’s odd – there’s something about this that feels… I don’t know.
I’ve been here for six months now. I’ve spent that time resting, hiking, and hiding away from the rest of the world. Just taking care of whatever I’ve needed in the moment. I haven’t thought about the future or the news or… Well, anything else in months. When I first got here, I was terrified, worried about how I was going to keep busy, keep myself from going in circles. And now… I don’t even think about it. It’s kind of nice to know what I can accomplish when everything else is taken away. I’ve finally figured out how to meditate. Sort of. Physically, I feel better than I ever have. I could have done with some better food, sure, but it’s not like I would’ve known what to do with it when I got here.
[The spirits stir slightly. He pauses, then continues, trying to be quieter]
I’ve never been able to recognize birds before, but now I do. Not species – I can’t look anything up, and there isn’t a book on Ornithology in the cabin. But… individual birds. I recognize them when they come around the cabin, or I see them out on one of my hikes. I’ve seen the weather shift, and the forest along with it. And it does change, each and every day, just… just a little bit. I didn’t think it was possible to know a place this way – to feel the rhythm of it, like a heartbeat beneath my feet. Even this high up, in the thin, dry air… There is so much life.
But even so… It feels like I’ve done what I came here to do. There’s a certainty, a finality to what happened the other day with Allen and the ladders and that other place. And now? Now it just feels like I’m trapped here. I still need to find out what happened to Anna, I know that much – – and I’m positive I can’t do that from here. So somehow… I need to leave.
[He shifts, stands, and walks gently to the window]
The clouds outside are dark and heavy, and it feels like it might start snowing any minute now. I don’t have a vehicle, and I have no idea how to get off this mountain even if I did. I know that civilization is miles away at least, and I wouldn’t last long hiking in this cold. And even if I did somehow make it to a town or city nearby, that’s no assurance that I’m safe. I have a terrible feeling Morrison would know I was there before I had a chance to escape.
Which leaves me with – the basement. Again. And trust me, I am in no rush to try my luck down there. If I try to calm down those… Spirits… Well, there’s no guarantee it’ll go well for me either. I might be getting more comfortable with this stuff, but that doesn’t make me… Well, Anna Sheridan. [He scoffs] She’d probably know exactly what to do. Too bad I didn’t listen to all of her tapes. She probably has one for “things that go bump in the night.”
[He chuckles, the spirits knock in the basement, static rises and falls]
I moved the heaviest bookshelf in the cabin in front of the basement door, and so far it seems to be holding. I guess I just have to hope it’s enough.
[As he says this, there’s a creaking, wooden sound. Sam whips around, and the noise stops immediately]
That sounded like the rocking chair. But no one’s…
[Sam sighs and turns back around. The noise starts again]
[He turns to look, and it stops just as suddenly]
Well – I guess that’s something else I need to keep my eye on. Great.
[Sam grabs the recorder, walking over to the window. In the background, the struggling noises start up again in the basement, a large cracking noise as they slam against the basement walls]
[Sam lets out a breath, creeping the rest of the way to the window over the kitchen sink]
Ah, shit. Well, there it is – first snow of the season. It’s already starting to stick further up the mountain, so it’s only a matter of time before I’m actually trapped in here. With the unquiet spirits and the haunted rocking chair.
[He grabs a glass and rubs it with a washcloth]
You know, this cabin is starting to feel a bit crowded.
Wait, is that –
Huh. Never mind. I thought I saw something out there in the trees, but… No.
[Static rises on the tape, the glass continuing to squeak as he dries it]
Only saw it for a second. Probably just a… deer, or…
[Sam draws a shocked breath and drops the glass – it shatters]
[The spirits are unhappy, knocking again. They quiet down]
It’s the trees. They’re… they’re all… Weeping. Weeping blood though their bark. And it’s… I can feel the pain and fear radiating from them. Not from the trees, but from something inside them, something beyond them…
[The rocking chair starts up again. Sam groans in fear and frustration, turning to walk over to it. As he does, the spirits in the basement grow more agitated, rushing upon the basement door and banging against it, moaning and shaking the bookshelf]
[Sam jumps back, freezing in his step]
[Sam suppresses a scream – realizing that his own fear is amplifying on the spirits in this cabin]
[Sam takes several deep breaths, collecting his thoughts]
I need to stay calm. Calm… Calm… All is well… All is well…
[Static rises slightly on the tape, his last word distorting slightly]
[The spirits grow quiet, moaning softly behind the door]
[Sam sighs in relief – then cuts off sharply. There’s an engine running outside, tires on dirt]
[As quietly as he can, Sam sneaks back to the front window]
There’s an – an unmarked black van outside.
That’s not Bill’s car. Who else could be…?
Oh shit. Oh Shit.
[Sam turns and bolts for his room. Sam throws the recorder on his bed, grabs a backpack, and zips it open, throwing items inside as he puts on every item of warm clothing he can find]
[The spirits grow restless]
I don’t know how Morrison found me, but I need to get out of here, now. The snow’s falling faster, but I should be able to get away… There’s a cave just a few miles southeast that I might be able to shelter in if I just –
[The door of the van slams shut outside, footsteps approaching]
Shit shit shit shit…
[He zips up his backpack]
[Sam runs to the back door, the spirits slamming against the bookshelf and door]
[Someone knocks aggressively on the front door]
Those spirits are about to bust right through that door. I see anyone but Bill out there, I make a run for it out the back. Hopefully the spirits will keep whoever it is occupied long enough for me to get away.
[The person outside knocks urgently again]
Come on – show yourself.
[Knocking again, and the bookshelf rocks forward, almost toppling]
Sam! Open the door, now!
[Sam scoffs in disbelief, then rushes back to the front door, opening it wide]
[The spirits moan louder and louder]
[Static crackles on the tape]
Uh, Sam… What’s going on in – OOF!
[Sam unexpectedly embraces her in a hug before he realizes what he’s doing, then suddenly steps back]
Oh god – I’m sorry Maria, it’s just –
It’s, uh… It’s fine, I’m just –
[The spirits slam into the door again, making both of them jump]
Sam, what the hell is going on in there? And why are the trees bleeding out here?
There are, uh… Two very unhappy spirits trapped in the basement. Probably not for much longer, by the sound of it.
Never mind that – how did you find me? What are you doing here?
Wait… You don’t know what this place is?
Uh… No, not really.
How can you not know? You were working for Oslow PD when it happened!
I was a little bit… No, that doesn’t matter. What is this place? Why are you here?
[There’s a rush of wind as the spirits throw themselves into the door, knocking the bookshelf over]
[The spirits wail, their voices fill the cabin, shattering every window]
[Sam gasps, Maria recovers quickly, grabbing Sam by the arm and pulling him outside]
What are you doing?
[Sam and Maria hit the deck, and the spirits fly out the front door. Their wailing retreats into the forest, eventually vanishing into the peaceful quiet of the snow]
[She releases a breath]
Okay… You can get up now.
[Her footsteps crunch on the frozen dirt]
Wait… They just wanted to leave? All I had to do was… What, open the door for them?
I guess so. You okay?
Yeah… I think so. You?
Good thing I got here in time to save your ass.
How did you find this place? I thought Bill didn’t tell anyone?
He only told me about it yesterday – probably because he knew I’d give him an earful about putting you up here.
Why? What is this place?
You seriously don’t know?
[Sam shakes his head]
Those two spirits – I’m guessing they used to be the two backpackers who went missing up here in 1991. They found this cabin in the middle of the woods, and then… John Martin Westmoreland found them.
Westmoreland? Not the –
The serial killer, yeah. He forced them into the basement, then locked the door behind them. Let them starve to death down there.
But – I thought his MO was hiding victims in hollowed out trees, not…
Oh. Well, at least that explains the blood.
Yeah. But those two came too close to his hideaway. He couldn’t risk someone finding their bodies, and since it took nearly 27 years for the police to track them down, I guess…
What the hell am I saying – Sam, we need to go, now. We’ll talk on the way.
[Maria rushes to the back of the van, opening the doors and rummaging around]
On the way? On the way where? What’s going on?
[She turns to face Sam]
De Witt is back. And he’s working with Morrison.
[Rummaging around in her van]
Bill followed his new partner out into the desert the other night. He was acting strange, and Bill was worried he might be in trouble, but it turns out – De Witt has a new face. And he and Morrison are planning something. Something big.
What kind of something?
[Maria continues rummaging, pulling metal cans with liquid out and arranging them]
Bill wasn’t sure – all he knows is they’ve been capturing creatures in Oslow and using them to power some kind of machine. He overheard them talking about closing a door and getting rid of monsters, but I don’t know how they –
[Maria turns to face him again]
What is it?
I… I’m not sure, but I’ve been – working on a theory. Testing my connection to the lake and what I can do with it. From what I can tell, everything we’ve been dealing with comes from a place outside the material universe. One that occasionally pushes through to create objects and creatures and places that are normally impossible… But if that connection is severed, they cease to exist. That’s what happened to the Echo, when I went back into the lake.
So if Morrison and De Witt are trying to close it off completely – ?
Then I’m dead. Without the lake, I wouldn’t exist. I’ll just vanish into nothing… Not to mention what might happen if something goes wrong with their experiment. It could destroy the veil completely… Set uncountable horrors free on this world.
Go get your stuff – we need to get moving.
[She closes her van door, the cans of liquid jangling as she picks them up]
[Sam turns and walks back into the house, his boots crunching over powdered glass. He grabs his backpack and walks towards the front door, then pauses, pulling a thin book from the toppled bookshelf. He flips to a certain page and rips it out, dropping the rest of the book]
[He turns and walks towards the front door, seeing Maria walking across the porch. A plastic gas can sloshes slightly at her side]
Taking souvenirs from the haunted cabin?
It’s just a story that…
Yeah, I am.
[He steps forward]
What’s with the gasoline?
You’ve got everything you need out of there?
Yeah, I kind of – I freaked out a little when I saw the van coming and packed all my stuff. I wasn’t sure if it was… [he clears his throat]
Ah. That would explain why you’re wearing seventeen different jackets right now. Planning to make a run for it?
Figured it was worth a shot. So… Gasoline?
We need to torch the cabin before we go.
We need to what?
Sam, your DNA is all over this place. The snow should be enough to keep the fire from spreading… Especially since all the nearby trees are soaked with blood.
I guess you’re right. It’s still a shame to –
Sam, this was a serial killer’s murder cabin for three decades. I know you probably have some fond memories here, but it’s time to say goodbye.
Not sure if “fond” is the right word for…
No, you’re right. It’s time. You have enough to get it started?
Probably. I’ve got some more in the van if we need it.
[She jostles a can, setting it down]
[The two walk out the front door. The snow is starting to fall faster, and their footsteps crunch beneath them]
I’ll fill you in on what’s been happening on the way down the mountain. Then we need to find somewhere to hide until we’re ready to move.
What about your van?
[Maria offers a deadly silence. They stop]
Unless you feel like sleeping on the roof – no, probably not.
Right. I’ll, uh… I’ll think about a new hiding spot on the way.
[Footsteps crunch again]
You do that. And while you’re on it, could you try thinking of to deal with De Witt and –
[They both stop]
Why would we…
De Witt’s lived for more than a thousand years. We can’t kill him, and there’s nothing we could offer him that would make him change his mind. If there’s a way of stopping him for good – it’s in that lake.
How do you know that will work?
I don’t. But there aren’t a whole lot of other options.