Prelude 04: “Case Notes”

Prelude 04: "Case Notes" The Sheridan Tapes

CONTENT WARNING: Loud noises, descriptions of a corpse, discussions of death and drowning (including child death), despair, paranoia, grief, and loss October 13, 2018: In the desert town of Agate Shore, detective Sam Bailey investigates a series of mysterious drownings linked to the town's past – and his own. As the voice recordings of his case notes play out, a sinister, supernatural thread appears that threatens not only his life, but his sanity. Starring Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey and Robin Gabrielli as Allen Gott, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written and produced by Trevor Van Winkle, and made possible by our supporters at For more information, additional content, and episode transcript, visit Support this show Become a member at Hosted on Acast. See for more information. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Spotify

CONTENT WARNING: Loud noises, descriptions of a corpse, discussions of death and drowning (including child death), despair, paranoia, grief, and loss

October 13, 2018: In the desert town of Agate Shore, detective Sam Bailey investigates a series of mysterious drownings linked to the town’s past – and his own. As the voice recordings of his case notes play out, a sinister, supernatural thread appears that threatens not only his life, but his sanity.

Starring Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey and Robin Gabrielli as Allen Gott, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written and produced by Trevor Van Winkle, and made possible by our supporters at

For more information, additional content, and episode transcript, visit



CONTENT WARNING: Loud noises, descriptions of a corpse, discussions of death and drowning (including child death), despair, paranoia, grief, and loss

[Cassette recorder winds back]


Recording Begins

[Cassette recorder starts up]

[Static fades away]

Sam Bailey

I don’t even… I’m… Sorry. I should’ve written something down before I got started. Didn’t think… I mean… God, where to even start?

[The flipping of pages]

I’ve got a hundred pages of case notes here, but even I can’t seem to put the damn things in order.

[One more page flip]

I thought I knew what was going on, but I think I forgot something. Somewhere. Somehow. This was the ninth… tenth, if you count Richard Seaver — and I do. 

[Distant sounds like soft waves]

Most people don’t, but I think…

No no no no — it’s not real, it’s not real, it’s not…

[The sound of the waves disappears]

Sorry. Sorry. Everything’s just… with things like they are, I…

[He pauses]

Let’s… Let’s start from the beginning.

[Mechanical buttons]

[Tape begins playing]

[Background noises of office work–phones ringing, light conversation, etc]

Sam Bailey

So, um… It’s January — six? Yeah, yeah, January six, twenty… does this thing auto datestamp? I think…

[Rustling of papers]

Let me look at the instructions here — J[beep]S.

[A loud bleep drowns out the blasphemy]

[Rustling stops]

You’ve gotta be f[beep]ing kidding me.

[Same loud bleep]

This thing has an auto-censor? Who the h[beep]l decided that was a good idea — oh, Mary H. Mother of C[beep]t.

Okay. This is Detective Sam Bailey of the Agate Shore Police

Department, recording for the first time with this d[beep]n contraption because Jerry said, “Oh, it’s easier than typing everything out,” and I guess that’s right because that computer’s just another d[beep]n contraption I have to work with on this job, and I might as well save some time for all the other nothing I’ve got to do around here…

Look, I’m not just getting on this thing to hear the sound of my own voice, is what I’m saying. G[beep]d knows I don’t like it. But Oslow County’s finally joining the 21st century and accepting audio logs in place of case files, so here we are. Here — we — are…

[A flipping of notepad pages]

Right. Holdup at the Seven Eleven down on Front Street. Couple of hooligans in ski masks with BB guns — probably just kids on their Christmas break, passing through. All they took were a few cases of beer. Drove off south, but no one caught their license plate. And if those security cameras Rick put in ever worked, maybe that wouldn’t be a problem. Called up the station in Arrowhead to watch out for an old red Jeep.

[Another flipped page]

Ms. Miller called this morning to say her basement was flooding and she needed help. Told her that was impossible, since we live in a desert, but she kept insisting so I sent two officers to help her. It’s not like they had anything else to do, and it’s the least we could do for all the cookies she sent to the station. Allen called back to say she was telling the truth — the water was up to his knees. Don’t know if the other officer was in on the joke or not, but they stayed there all day — bailing water, supposedly. Sure.

Couple of drunk and disorderlies at Chuck’s last night — just the usual. Though there was one outta-towner — Jim said he stood up on the table and started singing in Mexican before he fell off and banged his head. I doubt Jim knows Spanish from Arabic, but I didn’t feel like pressing the issue, since we were already dragging the sorry sap out of the bar to get him to the hospital. He was gone next morning, but no one saw him leave. Figures. Didn’t have any ID on him, but we’ve got his description if he ever shows up again — black hair, blue eyes, pale Caucasian, fancy clothes. Hospital’s breathing down my neck about who’s gonna pay the bill. I say, bill for what? And they say ER services, but all they did was put an icepack on his head and let him sleep in one of the hospital–


[Reversal of tape, warped and tinny sound coming from the cassette]


Sam Bailey

That was six months ago. First time recording. Jesus. I couldn’t even tell what was important or not, I just read the whole damn notepad. Let’s try…


[Rewinding tape]

[Rapid, discordant voices]


Sam Bailey

…and I swear to God if Allen doesn’t stop stapling both copies of his reports together I’m going to take him out back and shoot him myself… it’s an act of mercy.


Sorry, that’s… that probably shouldn’t be on this tape. “Official business only,” and all that. Jeez, they even wrote that on top of the recorder in big red letters in case I forgot. But who else am I going to talk to about these things? I mean, is it really more professional to complain to a coworker than a machine? And I can’t talk to anybody in town — word travels too quick. I mean, I tell Jim about Allen, Jim tells Mary, Mary tells Abby, Abby tells Jerry and Jerry tells Allen. 


And if this gets played in county court someday — which I find unlikely — nobody in Agate Shore will hear it. Probably.

I’m… I’m avoiding the issue, I guess. Just don’t want to talk about it. A kid went missing at school today. The Martins’ boy, Pat. Good kid. Too shy for his own good, sure, but smart. Curious. Couple of the other kids saw him wander off into the lake bed… it was an Agate hunting trip. I mean, there were too many kids for Miss Maisey to keep track of, and the volunteer parent bailed at the last second. I saw him at Chuck’s last night — he’s probably still hungover.

[Siren rises behind his voice]

That’s — that’s an ambulance, not a patrol car. God, I hope that’s not…

[Door opens across the room]

Allen Gott



[Voices in fast motion, tinny music]


Sam Bailey

There’s been another one… J[beep]s no, another three. Couple of teenagers from Arrowhead, up for Spring break. They were — they were car-camping out on the lake bed, smoking or drinking or… you know. Whatever kids do out there. Allen went out to check on them when he saw their jeep out there. He… It was just like Pat. Just stone dead in the middle of the desert, their lungs full of water. Salt water.

Then Allen tries to tell me that when he got to the car, it was flooded all the way to the windows, and the kids were floating in it, that when he opened the door it all spilled out and soaked into the ground before anyone else got there. I mean, god Allen! People are dying out there…! The least you could do is stop cracking jokes about people who are…


[Voices in fast motion]


[Rain pouring outside]

[Sam’s strangled breathing, almost sobs]

Sam Bailey

Allen’s dead.

He… I… It was just like all the other others. Water, in his lungs. His skin colder than it should’ve been out on the lake bed in the sun. The coroner said the same thing he did with the others: that he drowned. On saltwater. In the middle of the desert.

I’m sorry, I – I can’t, I can’t.




[Buzz of fluorescent lights]

Sam Bailey

This is the first time I’ve… recorded anything in a while. I couldn’t just — sit in my office. I, I couldn’t — I couldn’t breathe in there. It felt like I was…

[Swallows, sounding choked]

I don’t know why I thought it’d be better here, of all places, but… But it is. I couldn’t get away from them in the office. Oslow sent up a new team of investigators, they… they think it’s a serial killer. Some… Someone with a fixation on the old salt lake. But, but I…

[He takes a moment to breathe]

It took me a while to figure out how to move this thing. They had it mounted to my desk, but I did manage to get it off. But I couldn’t take it home. Maybe it’s…it’s quieter there, but I… I couldn’t just tell it to the recorder. I had to — I needed to…

I’m sorry, Allen.


[Mechanical buttons]

[Tape reverses]


[Rain in the background again]

Sam Bailey

They’re dead. They’re all dead. All four of them. Marcus, Clarice, Han, Evan. I barely even knew their names before… before I got the coroner’s report. The whole team from Oslow. That’s nine in four months — five cops and four kids.

They were out on the lake. They called it a stakeout, but — I don’t know what they were hoping to find. Maybe they were going to use one of them as bait, or something. They were still on their serial killer theory. Trying to chase down leads on that guy who disappeared out of the hospital in January, right before all this started — the one singing in Spanish, or whatever it was. No one’s seen him since, but they were so sure, so confident, so determined that nothing I said…

[He pauses and slams his fist on the table]

I told them it wasn’t a serial killer. I tried to tell Han what I knew — I thought he might listen. [Low electrical surging builds in the background] He just laughed in my face. That was the last time we spoke.

[A loud electrical surge, then the sound of power failing]

[A glass bulb explodes, shattering]

What the hell?




Sam Bailey

It’s finally stopped raining. I took Russel out for a walk for… I guess it must’ve been the first time in weeks last night. I was just letting him out on the porch, before. Gross, I know, but… I just couldn’t go out in that. Last night, I couldn’t sleep, and then the rain finally stopped, so I…

The gutters were still flooded. Nothing drains properly here… I guess it’s ’cause we live in the desert, despite what the weather wants us all to think. I had my boots on, and, of course, Russel was having a blast with all the puddles. He was going to make a mess of the carpets when we got back, but I didn’t care. It’s not like I’m trying to impress anyone, not… not anyway. I was too distracted to really notice, even if it was dark and there wasn’t much to look at except maybe the streetlights. I could smell the water, though. I know it’s impossible, but — it smelled like the ocean. Like salt. Like the way the lake used to when…

I was hypnotized by it all: by the streetlights passing by and the smell and something… and something else. The sound of waves. And then all the lights went out again…

[Sam shudders]

[Faint sounds of waves]

Russel started barking right away. I noticed it too. I couldn’t see anything, not then, but… I felt something… someone… watching. Waiting. Considering. There wasn’t a moon last night, and what was left of the rain clouds was hiding the stars. But it still wasn’t dark. Not like it… Not like it should’ve been.

You know how when you’re swimming in a lake and you open your eyes? How there’s that kind of green-grey glow all around you? It was like that, except if you were at the very bottom of the deepest lake you could think of, and there was barely any of that light, but it was still all around you — no up, no down, and no real source that you could see. And you look up to try and find the sun, the way back to the surface, and it’s… gone. And it’s… It’s gone.

And then I felt like there was water in my lungs, and I was coughing and choking on the ground, trying to breath…

Russel — Russel saved me. He was barking at the shadows behind one of the dead streetlights. Then I thought I saw something moving there — something tall and pale, but I only saw it for a second. My eyes were watering — I was crying. And then Russel was licking my face, snapping me out of whatever it was. Then I was crying again — Jesus, crying over the fact I was alive.

Oh yeah. By the way, the profanity filter’s broken. I haven’t tried to fix it. The filter, the lights, the generators — everything keeps breaking down. I guess, except… Everything except the cars. Those are still working. They have to be… people just keep leaving.


[Voices in fast motion]


[A car’s engine starts in the distance, then speeds away]

Sam Bailey

Jerry found the guy. The guy from the bar that night last January. The pale one, with black hair and blue eyes and nice clothes singing in another language. He was… He was murdered behind the supermarket. He was… He’d been dead four days before anyone noticed the smell. There was no one taking out the garbage anymore.

There… There wasn’t any water in his lungs this time. The autopsy says he died of shock, completely unrelated to the other deaths. It could be. He was older than I thought he’d be — 67, if his ID was legit. And he did have it this time… just – just an expired driver’s license from Montana. Maybe it wasn’t another drowning. But… he’d been out in the sun for four days. It could’ve evaporated, or drained out, or — something. Anything. I – I don’t know.

His name was Richard Seaver.


[Voices in fast motion]


[An almost silent office]

Sam Bailey

It’s… It’s over. They’re all gone. Everyone. They were already — they were already leaving, and this was just the last straw. Jim was out on the lake. Nobody knows what he was doing out there, he worked a full night at Chuck’s, he should have just gone home, to Mary…

But someone on the highway saw him wandering out there, alone — alone on the salt flat. They couldn’t tell if he was moving away from town or running towards it, but they pulled off and drove over to him. By the time they got to where they thought they’d seen him, they…

It was just like all the others. Almost. But he had a note in his hand. It was pretty well crushed and soaked almost all the way through — it pretty much fell apart the moment I pulled it out of his hand, but… There was only one word on it, written over and over again. Restore. Restore. Restore…


[Sam’s voice, sped up and backwards as he rewinds]


[Buzz of fluorescent lights]

Sam Bailey

I’m sorry, Allen. I should’ve known what this was right from the start. The signs were there — the lake bed, the drownings, the weather —  hell, even Ms. Miller’s flooded basement. It’s so, g[Beep]n obvious even you could’ve figured it out, if only — if only I told anyone.

I grew up here in Agate Shore. I know, I know, I play the big city cop so well, dragged here against my will… and that’s also kind of true. When I went to school, I never wanted to end up working back here. But no one else would take me, though. Guess I was too bad with computers to actually fit at any other PD. Or maybe… maybe it was Agate Shore, trying to…

Back when I was a kid, there was actually a shore. There was actually a lake. You’re too young to remember it — h[Beep]l I’m almost too young myself. They built the dam when I was in third grade, and the lake was gone by the next summer. But before that, I was always out there with my parents. My mom and dad would swim out in the lake early in the morning, then teach me to swim in the shallows in the afternoon. We went out there as… as often as we could, sometimes three or four times a week in the warm season. I was a pretty good swimmer by the time I started kindergarten, and then I decided I would try to do what my parents did — swim out into the middle of the salt lake and just…  float in the sun. They would never let me go out that far — my dad would jump in and pull me back to shore and tell me it wasn’t safe out there. So one day, when my parents forgot the towels in the car and ran back to fetch them, I… I jumped into the lake and just started swimming.

I was a good swimmer, yeah, but not half as good as I thought I was. It was late February, and the lake was still cold. I made it about twenty yards before my arms started seizing up. I tried kicking to keep going, but my legs were already stiff, and I couldn’t seem to stay afloat. And then my legs froze too. And I was sinking.

You know when you’re swimming in a lake, and you open your eyes? How there’s that kind of… green-grey glow all around you, and you can’t tell which way is up? That’s what it was like. Except I knew I was getting deeper and deeper by the second. I tried to scream before I went under, but that just filled my lungs with water. I was drowning, and stupid as I was I knew there was no one coming to save me. And then I heard it: the voice. I — I don’t know if it was the lake itself talking, or some creature or monster or what. For a long time I thought it was just my own imagination or… Maybe it was God. I don’t think so now.

“What would you do to save yourself?” it asked. “Anything,” I thought. “What would you give to save yourself?” it asked. “Anything,” I said. “Who would you give to save yourself?” I wasn’t thinking clearly, my… my brain just couldn’t get the oxygen. And I was afraid… So, so afraid. “Anyone,” I managed, just before I blacked out.

[Deep, shuddering breath]

When I woke up, I was in the hospital with my parents watching over me. I never did get a straight answer out of them about what happened. They said I made it out of the water just in time, but they never said how I got out… or who pulled me out. But I could still hear the sound of waves in my head — I still hear them now, every once in a while.

[Faint sound of waves rises]

For years I thought one of them… swam in and saved me, but didn’t want to say it… That they didn’t want to scare me. Now I’m not so sure. I never really got the chance to ask them. The lake took them both back a few months later.

Restore. Restore. Restore.

Anything. Anything. Anyone.


End Recording


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s