Episode 51: “Vox Aeternum”

Episode 51: "Vox Aeternum" The Sheridan Tapes

CONTENT WARNING: Depictions of existential dread, body horror, and character death, claustrophobia, and some loud noises11112019: Ren recounts the fate of Anna's first mission with ISPHA.Starring Ezra J. Wayne as Ned Leroux, Mike Kennedy as Edgar Morrison, Sam Taylor as Ren Park, Airen Neeley Chaconas as Anna Sheridan, Kris Allison as Daniella Caldwell, Karim Kronfli as David Robinson, Paul Warren as Craig Domhnwell, Virginia Spotts as Kate Sheridan, Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, and Jesse Steele as Bill Tyler, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written by Trevor Van Winkle and produced by Virginia Spotts, with dialogue editing and sound design by Trevor Van Winkle. This episode was made possible by our supporters at Patreon.com/homesteadcorner, ko-fi.com/homesteadcorner, and our backers on Seed&Spark.For more information, additional content, and episode transcript, visit homesteadonthecorner.com/tst051Support this show http://supporter.acast.com/SheridanTapes. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Spotify

CONTENT WARNING: Depictions of existential dread, body horror, and character death, claustrophobia, and some loud noises

11112019: Ren recounts the fate of Anna’s first mission with ISPHA.

Starring Ezra J. Wayne as Ned Leroux, Mike Kennedy as Edgar Morrison, Sam Taylor as Ren Park, Airen Neeley Chaconas as Anna Sheridan, Kris Allison as Daniella Caldwell, Karim Kronfli as David Robinson, Paul Warren as Craig Domhnwell, Virginia Spotts as Kate Sheridan, Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, and Jesse Steele as Bill Tyler, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Written by Trevor Van Winkle and produced by Virginia Spotts, with dialogue editing and sound design by Trevor Van Winkle. This episode was made possible by our supporters at Patreon.com/homesteadcorner, ko-fi.com/homesteadcorner, and our backers on Seed&Spark.

For more information, additional content, and episode transcript, visit thesheridantapes.com

Script

Transcript

CONTENT WARNING: Depictions of existential dread, body horror, and character death, claustrophobia, and some loud noises

[A wind whistles, a metal door creaks open]

[Electronics spark, small fires crackle]

[Ned stumbles into the chamber, coughing, glass crunching underfoot]

[He spits, groans, and calls out]

Ned Leroux

Morrison! You still down here?

[Silence]

[Ned scoffs]

Figures. Asshole probably ran the moment things went south. Should’ve done the same, honestl—

Edgar Morrison

Ned.

Ned Leroux

WHOA!

[Ned jumps away]

Oh goddammit, don’t sneak up on me like that Morrison.

Edgar Morrison

I wasn’t… I wasn’t trying to scare you.

Ned Leroux

Well, you did. Lucky I didn’t hit you.

[Silence]

What are you still doing down here? What happened?

Edgar Morrison

I… I was, I was… Running. Sheridan let the monsters out, and I—

Ned Leroux

Shit, they’re not still down here, are they?

Edgar Morrison

No, no — they’re all gone. Back into the world.

Ned Leroux

Shouldn’t we — I don’t know, set up a perimeter? They could be halfway to Arrowhead by now.

Edgar Morrison

They’ve gone much further than that… Much further… I was a fool to think I could keep them here, and now the door is open… 

[Silence]

Ned Leroux

Morrison, are you — is everything alright?

[Silence]

[Morrison turns and walks away into the tunnels]

Morrison? Morrison, we need to—

[A door shuts behind him]

[Lights buzz]

What the hell do I do now?

[Cassette noises]

[MAIN THEME]

Recording Begins

[Static fades away]

[A quiet conference room: A/C, buzzing lights]

Dr. Ren Park

Alright — tape is running. [He flips through papers] Could everyone state their names and occupations, for the record? Anna?

Anna Sheridan

What? Oh right — Anna Sheridan, writer and… uh—

Dr. Ren Park

Writer is fine for now. Dr. Caldwell?

Dr. Daniella Caldwell

Doctor Daniella Caldwell, head of experimental research, ISPHA Laboratories.

David Robinson

David Robinson, research assistant, experimental projects, ISPHA.

Dr. Ren Park

Mister, uh [he flips through pages] — “Dum-well?”

Craig Domhnwell

“Don-ell.” Craig’s fine, if ye insist on putting my name on yer tapes, though I cannae say I’m all in favor of it.

Anna Sheridan

Craig, just—

Craig Domhnwell

No, no, I’ll go along wi it. I dinnae choose to be here for yer fancy words — I came for Anna’s sake, and no one else.

Dr. Ren Park

Duly noted, Mr. Domhnwell. And what is your occupation?

Craig Domhnwell

Writer, same as Anna. Researcher into the wee folk and their histories.

[An amused snicker escapes from David]

[Craig turns in his chair]

Craig Domhnwell

Did I say somethin’ funny, Mr. Robinson?

David Robinson

A little bit, yeah—

Craig Domhnwell

Cause if I’m not mistaken, we’re all here on account o Anna, and even if ye use different words fur it, what she studies is no less strange than the faeries I write aboot.

Dr. Daniella Caldwell

No one’s saying it’s not, Mr. Domhnwell. My colleague spoke out of turn.

David Robinson

The hell I did… 

Dr. Daniella Caldwell

Please continue, Dr. Park.

Dr. Ren Park

Right, um [shuffling papers] — My name is Dr. Ren Park of the Institute for Stellar Propulsion, Heuristics, and—

Dr. Daniella Caldwell

Ren.

Dr. Ren Park

Lead researcher, Experimental Projects division. I oversee some of ISPHA’s more… Unconventional lines of inquiry.

David Robinson

You can say that again.

Dr. Ren Park

While I’m aware that some of you may be skeptical about Ms. Sheridan and Mr. Dohmnwell’s fields of study, let me assure you that they’ve both furnished empirical evidence of their claims to this institute on several occasions. If anyone wishes to question their place on this team, I suggest you take it up with myself — or Dr. Caldwell — before we go further.

[Silence]

[David sighs]

David Robinson

No, I’m — I’m fine.

Dr. Daniella Caldwell

I’m sure you are. Ren?

Dr. Ren Park

All yours, Dr. Caldwell.

Dr. Daniella Caldwell

Thank you.

I know some of you have doubts about this project, but let me assure you: if what we’re searching for is even remotely possible, then this investigation may change not only our understanding of physics, but the future prospects of humanity as a species. Each member of this team has been carefully selected for their specific set of skills, along with their perspective on both the scientific and the supernatural. If you feel skeptical about your place here… that is intentional. Whether you believe it or not, your role on this expedition will be vital to its success.

[Click]

[Ren has stopped the tape, turning in his chair]

[A small clock ticks on the wall]

Dr. Ren Park

This was the first meeting of the team ISPHA assembled to investigate Anna’s predictive abilities, taking place in Ventura, California on January 14th, 2018. The team consisted of two ISPHA staff members — Dr. Daniella Caldwell and Mr. Robinson — and two private contractors selected by Anna — herself and Mr. Craig Domhnwell, a nonfiction author and expert in folklore and mythology. This meeting occurred shortly after we determined that Anna was able to make meaningful predictions of the future, and following our—

Kate Sheridan

Wait, wait, just… Slow down a second.

Dr. Ren Park

Do you have a question, Kate?

[Maria scoffs]

Maria Sol 

More like a hundred.

Dr. Ren Park

I understand there might be some confusion. Several recordings were lost during the expedition, but I’ll do my best to fill in any gaps in the record as we go.

Kate Sheridan

But — how did Anna predict the future? How do you even test something like that?

Dr. Ren Park

Well… during the years preceding her disappearance, Anna began to suspect that some of her more disturbing dreams were more than just nightmares.

She mentioned this to me at several points, and eventually, I proposed that we put her theory to the test. We conducted a number of sleep studies, cognitive tests, and attempts to initiate lucid dreaming in one of the medical labs here at Meriwether. At the end of these, we had a prediction that could be objectively and definitively tested. I passed this information along to Dr. Caldwell, and once it was confirmed, she—

Sam Bailey

Wait — what did she predict?

Dr. Ren Park

A supernova. The explosion of a neutron star nearly a billion lightyears from earth. Impossible to guess, impossible to predict ahead of time — and yet she did, right down to the day.

This told us two things: One, Anna was able to make tangible, provable, and accurate predictions about future events — and two, that she was right to be worried about what she saw.

Bill Tyler 

The end of the world…

Dr. Ren Park

The end of the world. An apocalypse triggered by some kind of supernatural disruption affecting the entire planet. That was the one constant, going back to her earliest nightmares.

Dr. Caldwell was skeptical at first, but she’d never been afraid to push past her own doubts. Still, she felt we needed more evidence to confirm Anna’s ability.

So she proposed an arrangement — we would test one of Anna’s earlier visions in the field to make sure the supernova wasn’t a coincidence. This next tape is taken from that expedition, soon after the team arrived at basecamp near the Babia Góra massif, on the Slovakia/Poland border.

[Ren plays another tape]

[Wind blows beyond the canvas walls of a tent]

Anna Sheridan

Anna Sheridan, recording for ISPHA internal records – daily log, January 20th, 2018, 1724 CET.

We landed at KRK earlier today after an unexpected layover in Heathrow… apparently it’s a bit of a gamble to fly into central Europe in the middle of winter. We picked up our supplies in Kraków and made it to basecamp before it really started getting dark, and the local guides had already set up the tents when we arrived. It’s still tenting on the side of a mountain in January, but it won’t be nearly as bad as some of the backpacking trips I’ve done: the canvas and plywood flooring do a remarkable job of keeping the cold out, and once we got the heaters going they warmed up nicely. We don’t have the fuel to keep them on all the time, and the weather will make the solar generators nearly useless, but we’re sure as hell going to make the best of them when we can. The cots are a pretty nice upgrade too, though I doubt I’ll be sleeping much, even with the jet lag. I’ve… been having—

[The tent flap zips open, letting in the roar of the cold wind outside]

[Someone steps inside and zips the tent back up]

Craig Domhnwell

Are ye gonna join us anytime soon, Anna? I cannae keep David off the rest ae that bottle a’ night.

Anna Sheridan

I think you can manage until I’m done with this.

Craig Domhnwell

Taping yerself again?

Anna Sheridan

Need to keep a record of the expedition — Ren insisted.

Craig Domhnwell

I hardly think they needed tae.

Anna Sheridan

You should be recording too, if you have the time. I’ll try to be thorough, but I might miss a few things you—

Craig Domhnwell

Aye, aye… If ye say so. I’ll try an save ye a drink if I can.

[He moves to the exit again]

Anna Sheridan

Don’t bother. You know I can’t stand vodka.

Craig Domhnwell

I told ye, it’s not vodka — it just smells like it is all… 

[Anna laughs lightly]

[Craig unzips the tent flap again: roaring winter wind]

[He steps out and zips it shut again: the wind goes quiet]

Anna Sheridan

Honestly, I’m glad Craig’s here — between the four of us, he’s the most well-balanced. Caldwell’s nothing if not professional, but I know obsession when I see it. And Robinson’s… Well, he doesn’t really care what we find, so long as we find it quickly. But Craig believes it — at least, he believes that I believe it, and that’s enough.

Truth be told, though… I’m really not sure if I do. Not completely. But I need someone in my corner, at least for now.

That being said, I don’t know exactly what we’re looking for — my dreams are always a little sparse when it comes to specifics. All I know is that whatever it is, it’s here on Babia Góra — “the old witches’ mountain,” literally translated — it has something to do with “corrosion” and “evolution…” or maybe “transformation,” I’m not sure. The rest of the dream was just a mess of dark shapes and bad vibes, but it was the only one where I was able to pick out an actual location.

It definitely seems like the right kind of place — Craig was very keen to point out that a lot of the local folklore points to this mountain as the location of the “witches’ sabbath.” I don’t know about witches, but it does feel a lot like some of the other mountains I’ve had encounters on. Like it’s the opposite of a holy mountain — a place where the barriers between worlds are thin, but what’s on the other side is a little less than friendly.

Even so… I’m not convinced we’re looking in the right place. There must be something to my dreams, so… there must be something here. But if there is… if we find what we’re looking for up the mountain tomorrow… then I don’t know what that means for me. For all of us.

I still haven’t told them everything — not Ren, not Caldwell or Robinson… and definitely not Craig. 

I can’t tell him. I want to be honest with him, but… I don’t know if it would help right now. It’s certainly not helping me.

[She sighs]

God, I need that drink.

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[A snowstorm whips around rocks and ice]

[Crampons and snow poles crunch and clink through the snow]

David Robinson [yelling over the wind]

—Four days! Four days on this goddamn mountain, and what do we have to show for it, besides bruises and a risk of frostbite?

Craig Domhnwell [yelling back]

Ye think four days on this mountain is long enough to keek anythin’? We’ve hardly started lookin’!

David Robinson

Yeah, well some of us have got more important work we’d like to get back to!

Craig Domhnwell

And what do ye mean by thae, Mister Robinson?

David Robinson

All I’m saying is that Dr. Caldwell and I don’t spend months on top of a mountain looking for ghosts or goblins or whatever the hell you two claim to see out here! We’re scientists, for christ’s sake!

Craig Domhnwell

Oh, is that sae? I’ve seen things that would scare the skeptic right oota ye. Believe ye me, ye’ll ken how deep the dark goes afore we’re done here.

David Robinson

Dr. Caldwell, could you please give me some backup here?

Dr. Daniella Caldwell

Not right now I can’t. I’m a little busy trying not to get blown off this mountain.

David Robinson

Could you at least tell me you don’t believe in ghosts or monsters or… whatever we’re supposed to be looking for here?

Dr. Daniella Caldwell

No. I don’t believe in ghosts—

David Robinson

Thank you!

Dr. Daniella Caldwell

—But… Anna did make a prediction that is scientifically impossible. Either she’s incredibly lucky, or there’s something beyond our understanding going on here. I intend to figure out what it is before we leave this mountain. Understood?

David Robinson

Yes, Doctor Caldwell.

[Anna shivers]

Craig Domhnwell

Ye a’right Anna?

Anna Sheridan

What?

Craig Domhnwell

Are ye okay? Yer bein’ awful quiet up there.

Anna Sheridan

Yeah, I’m… I’m fine. Just distracted.

Craig Domhnwell

Have ye been sleepin’ any better since we got here?

Anna Sheridan

No, I haven’t.

Craig Domhnwell

Bad dreams?

[Anna hesitates and continues hiking]

Craig Domhnwell

Anna?

[She notices the recorder]

Anna Sheridan

Oh shit, I must have bumped the—

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[Another canvas tent, quiet except for a slow-building argument in the background]

Anna Sheridan

Anna Sheridan, daily log, January 31st, 2018, recorded at 1832 CET. We’ve been on the mountain for 16 days now — far longer than we anticipated, but still within the acceptable range. We’re supplied for at least a month — longer if we decide to start rationing — and while the roads to Babia Góra are closed, we can still be resupplied by snowmobile if needed. I’m not worried about the supplies though, and neither is Dr. Caldwell. 

What I’m more worried about is the weather. Most of the northern slope is completely exposed to the elements, and conditions can change extremely quickly. I’m starting to see why people call this place “the mother of bad weather.” But I’m honestly more concerned that—

[David unzips the tent and steps inside]

[The wind outside roars]

David Robinson

Sheridan! [He zips the tent again] Sheridan, I want a word with you.

Anna Sheridan

[Under her breath] Of course you fucking do…

[Calling out] What is it?

David Robinson

I want to see your journal, now.

Anna Sheridan

Absolutely not.

David Robinson

We’ve been stuck on this mountain for half a month because of your dreams. The least you could do is let us know what we’re supposed to be looking for—

Anna Sheridan

What part of “absolutely not” did you miss? No, you can’t look at my journal. It’s private.

David Robinson

If it concerns the team, it shouldn’t be.

Anna Sheridan

Well it is. Look, if you’re so skeptical about my dreams, why do you want to know about them?

David Robinson

I don’t. But if I know what we’re supposed to be looking for, we can get off this mountain faster. That’s all I care about.

Anna Sheridan

Do you really think I’d keep that to myself if I knew?

David Robinson

You’re holding something back. Whether it’s about your dreams or something else…

[Craig unzips the tent, wind howling outside]

[He steps inside]

Craig Domhnwell

Robinson, I suggest ye take a step back before I find somethin’ heavy in here an’ make ye.

David Robinson

Is that a threat, Domhnwell? We both know you wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Craig Domhnwell

I think ye’d best consider the difference between someone threatenin’ me, an’ someone threatenin’ a friend of mine.

David Robinson

I’m not threatening anyone, I’m just—

[Caldwell pokes her head into the tent]

Dr. Daniella Caldwell

David! A word, if you please.

[David grunts, walks off, and zips the tent shut behind him]

[The sound of the wind dies down]

[Anna lets out a long sigh]

Craig Domhnwell

Shit… Anna? What’s wrong?

Anna Sheridan

Nothing, Craig, I just… I don’t want to talk about it.

[Craig creeps closer and sits down]

Anna Sheridan

I said—

Craig Domhnwell

Aye, I heard ye. I’m jist gonna sit here, is all. If ye dinnae want tae talk, that’s fine.

[They sit in silence]

[Anna sighs, pained]

Anna Sheridan

What the hell am I doing out here?

Craig Domhnwell

The same thing yer always doin’ — looking fur answers tae questions most people dinnae think tae ask, and like as no find them.

Anna Sheridan

I don’t know if I want answers this time. Not to these questions.

Craig Domhnwell

What, are ye afraid yer dreams are portents? I cannae think ae any prophet who was happy tae—

Anna Sheridan

No, Craig, that’s — that’s not what I’m scared of.

If I’m wrong — if my dreams don’t mean anything, and I’ve sent us all up here for nothing — then I’m just… delusional. People have called me that all my life: I can live with it.

But if it’s true — If I really can predict the future…

[She trails off, sighing]

Craig Domhnwell

Are ye so afraid ah yer nightmares ye’d let them stop ye from livin’? That doesn’t sound like the Anna Sheridan I kent.

Anna Sheridan

It’s — It’s not those dreams I’m worried about, Craig.

Craig Domhnwell

Then what is it?

[Anna hesitates, then leans over and stops the recorder]

[Click]

[A small clock ticks on the wall]

Dr. Ren Park

Whatever Anna said to Mr. Domhnwell after that point is lost, as we’ve found no records of that conversation in either Anna’s notes or the recordings kept by Mr. Domhnwell. At this point, Dr. Caldwell was aware that the team was growing dangerously unstable, and they would need to conclude their mission one way or another before interpersonal tensions boiled over. As such, she ordered an expanded search pattern the next day, pushing further up the northern slope and spreading the party members out along a wider stretch. They were instructed to remain within visual range of one another at all times, but that proved impossible when an unexpected snow storm arrived and reduced visibility to less than ten feet.

[Half-pause]

This tape is vital to a complete understanding of the events on Babia Góra, but I know you’ve all just endured a very traumatic experience. If any of you would like to leave the room for the next few minutes, I would advise you to do so.

[Sam turns in his chair]

Sam Bailey

What do you think? Bill… you’ve probably had the hardest time out of all of us, [Bill laughs] are you sure you want to—

Bill Tyler

“I ain’t afraid of no ghost,” Sam. I can handle it.

Kate Sheridan

It’s not about being scared, Bill — whatever’s on that tape might be—

Bill Tyler

Look, I’m fine. Just play the tape already.

Dr. Ren Park

Would anyone else prefer not to listen?

[Silence]

Alright. This tape comes from later in the day, after weather conditions had worsened dramatically and Dr. Caldwell ordered an early return to basecamp. While there are a number of written field notes from both Dr. Caldwell and Mr. Robinson, this is the final relevant audio recording from the expedition.

[Tape begins]

[Shuffling as Anna handles the recorder]

[A long, narrow, echoing cave: rumbling wind, echoes of footsteps and Anna’s voice, faint dripping of melting ice]

Anna Sheridan 

Anna Sheridan, project update. Recorded in the field, February 1st, 2018 at 1400 CET… Or at least, that was the time when my watch stopped working.

I must have hit it on a rock at some point… I got separated from the rest of the team earlier. I was trying to reconnect with them when I felt the ground shake. I don’t know if it was an earthquake or a lightning strike, but I looked up and saw a wall of snow barreling down on me. I just managed to duck inside a nearby cave entrance, but the avalanche completely buried it before I could get out. I tried chipping at the snow with my ice axe, but there was just too much for me to dig out on my own. Thankfully I still had a headlamp, so I’ve been looking for another way out ever since. The cave is fairly extensive — and I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to be here. The entrance wasn’t on any of the maps I saw, at least. And I’m pretty sure I’ve—

[She stops, hearing the mutter of a distant voice]

Anna Sheridan [whispering]

That’s the third time I’ve heard that voice down here. I mostly started recording to see if it’s picked up by the tape or not. If so, then I can finally have proof of what’s going on down here and can shut David up a bit… If I ever make it out of here, that is. And if he didn’t get caught in the avalanche too. Dr. Caldwell did say there was a risk going up the mountain in this weather. I just hope they’re all okay.

[Half-pause]

But right now, I need to focus on getting out. The air smells fresh [she begins walking again] and doesn’t seem to be thinning out, so there must be another exit somewhere. I’ve been marking my path with grease pencil so I should be able to find my way back if I get turned around. Speaking of which…

[She pauses to mark a nearby rock with a grease pencil]

I can’t let myself get too distracted recording this. So far there’s only been one or two turn offs, but I’ve been trying to find one that leads back up towards the surface of the mountain…  trying and failing. They all seem to curve back in on themselves, and the further I go the more they seem to slope down. I would be more worried about getting further underground if this all didn’t feel so… oddly familiar. I think I might have seen this place before. Thinking back on it, it might have been a—

[She hears strange, distant noises again]

Anna Sheridan [whispering]

I… I think whatever’s whispering is through here. There’s a thin gap in the wall of the cave, and… 

[She clicks off her headlamp]

There’s a light on the other side. Not sunlight, but a… a faint blue. Some kind of bioluminescence, maybe?

Or I might be about to crawl into another supernatural hotspot. Why did I have to lose the skeptic squad before I found this?

[Anna grunts as she squeezes through a narrow chasm]

Okay… It’s a tight squeeze, but I’ve made it through worse. Just… Keep… Pushing, and… There!

[Anna takes a shaky breath]

Made it… Made it. For someone who hates caves as much as I do, I seem to spend an ungodly amount of time in… 

[She stops, noticing an underground river snaking by]

Holy shit. Okay, this was definitely not on the map — I don’t think it’s on any map. It’s a large grotto with a deep central pool, fed by an underground stream that seems to originate from one of the tunnels leading off of the chamber. The ceiling is about eight or nine feet high with a number of large stalactites, but… 

Well, the reason I can see all that is because there are large patches of glowing mushrooms growing around the pool and along the cavern wall. There must be some geothermal activity in this cave too, since there’s no sunlight to—

[Anna cuts off with a faint gasp]

[The voice has returned, and it’s obvious who is speaking]

Craig Domhnwell [chanting, continuous]

Eve, when she saw the fruit good to eat, 

And Adam, standing nearby, 

Could not bear the sting of separateness more, 

Unity, lest they die. 

Tie, bind… 

Anna Sheridan [simultaneous to Craig]

Craig? Craig, what are you doing down here?

Is there another way down? Did you find some other way into the cave when the avalanche—

[Anna gasps, horrified]

[Craig turns to look at her, a sound of cracking bone & twisting organic matter]

[He moves towards her, unhurried]

Craig Domhnwell [chanting, continuous]

…joining yet still, 

Adam and Eve in their mirth, 

Knew the mind of God, 

the Father of God

The Prophet of the Earth.

When the Word is spoken to you, little children, 

Remember well these words: 

That the Prophet will make a new home once more —

The Promise of New Birth. 

Stand not against the roots of heaven, 

Resist not the union of bliss, 

Be at One all the same and remember the name 

Of Time and Creation’s Kiss.

Anna Sheridan [horrified whisper, simultaneous to Craig]

No, no, no — Please Craig, please fight this, please don’t be… 

Craig, listen: it’s me. It’s Anna. You can come back. You don’t have to give in to this thing. You can beat it, I know you can. You’re stronger than this, and we can figure it out—

[Anna shrinks against the stone wall of the cave]

Anna Sheridan

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

Craig Domhnwell [voice filling the cave]

The Source of All that Was and Was Not and Will Be Again is Within Me and Without Me [distortion rising] and Beyond Me and Below Me and Before—

[A sudden BANG, followed by a fleshy THUNK]

[Hiss of burning flesh]

[David stands, panting]

David Robinson

Are you… Are you alright?

[Click]

[Tape ejects]

[Clock ticks on wall]

Dr. Ren Park

While Anna didn’t stop recording at any point during this confrontation, her recorder ran out of tape at that moment. She did not make another recording until she returned to the United States several months later. While the death of a Scottish national during an American expedition on the border of two European nations had the potential to become an international incident, the autopsy conducted by the ECDC determined the cause of death to be infection by the unknown fungus within the cave, as it caused significant nerve damage and possibly brain death several hours before the flare gun fired by Mr. Robinson burnt out a large portion of Mr. Domhnwell’s cranium. The team was allowed to return to the states once they had undergone an extensive quarantine and decontamination process, and all relevant authorities chose to keep the incident quiet.

Despite some initial reservations, both Dr. Caldwell and I agreed that the discovery of the previously unknown cave system and the samples of foribus oraculi collected within confirmed Anna’s abilities beyond a reasonable doubt. As such, ISPHA began a series of research initiatives into the apocalyptic events she foresaw — one of which involved surveillance of a group of individuals referred to by Anna as “the Searchers…” Hence, your presence in this room.

And that brings us up to date, I believe. Any questions?

Bill Tyler

Robinson.

Dr. Ren Park

What was that, Bill?

Bill Tyler

David Robinson. Your researcher. David Nathan Robinson, right?

Dr. Ren Park

Ah… Yes. Though you might know him better as Hericium. Soon after returning to the U.S., he disappeared into the Templi Prophetam compound and quickly took over as the primary religious figurehead of the cult. The timeline is still a little unclear, but we believe he collected an undocumented sample of foribus oraculi before leaving the cave and smuggled it back into the U.S. once he’d cleared quarantine. We’re unsure what his exact motivations were, but some variant of that fungus soon became the focal point of worship within the cult, leading to its eventual collapse and Mr. Robinson’s death and…  Transformation.

Kate Sheridan

Why didn’t you stop him?

Dr. Ren Park

We considered it, but once he’d integrated himself into the power structure of the cult, we couldn’t remove him without alerting local authorities. We couldn’t tip our hand to Morrison like that — not yet. Confronting Robinson was out of the question.

Sam Bailey

You didn’t seem to have any problem “confronting” Ned—

Dr. Ren Park

And we still might pay for that. We’re a research institute… A well-funded, private institute with a great deal of operational autonomy, but we’re not some kind of hit-squad. We research. We investigate. We contain threats where possible and necessary, but intervention is always a last resort.

Kate Sheridan

That’s still no excuse to let all those people get hurt.

Dr. Ren Park

It… It wasn’t my call.

[Silence]

Maria Sol

What did Anna tell Craig? That night before he died?

Dr. Ren Park

We’re not entirely sure. Like I said, there are no records of that night, and she didn’t tell me.

[Bill turns in his chair]

Bill Tyler

Did you know him?

Maria Sol

Yeah. Not very well, but… he was nice. Funny. Just really, really friendly. I met him a few times on Anna’s trips to Europe, but — I didn’t know what happened to him.

[Creaking of a chair]

Sam Bailey

What do you think she told him, then? You clearly have some idea.

Dr. Ren Park

Unfortunately… I do. It’s clear that she blamed herself for Craig’s death — not just for the fact that he was up the mountain in the first place, but that she felt directly responsible for the events leading up to his death.

Kate Sheridan

She wasn’t though, right? I mean, she couldn’t know what was going to happen in that cave… 

Dr. Ren Park

She might not have remembered her dreams clearly, but there was some element of them that disturbed her — particularly when it came to Craig’s involvement.

I believe she dreamed about Craig’s death. And that she told him.

Sam Bailey

So she thought… 

Dr. Ren Park

She theorized that her prophecies were not predictions of fixed events. They could be unreliable at times — at least, in terms of small details. But after what happened in Poland, she began to suspect her prophecies might be self-fulfilling: that conscious knowledge of the future only makes that future inevitable, and whatever actions people take to prevent it only bring it about faster.

Bill Tyler

But… if that’s the case, then why are you trying to prevent this… apocalypse that she saw? Is that even possible?

Dr. Ren Park

I said she believed it. I don’t. While it’s true that observation can change the state of particles in a quantum system, cause and effect are far too complicated for that to hold in the macroscopic world. I have to believe she was wrong. I have to believe we can change that future.

Maria Sol

And you want our help.

Dr. Ren Park

Yes. [Shuffling papers, passing them out] 

Doctor Caldwell has requested that I offer everyone in this room a full contract of employment as an independent research consultant for ISPHA, effective immediately upon your decision. You’ll all be required to sign a blanket NDA of course, but trust me: it’s a good deal. You’ll be provided with room and board both here at Meriwether and in the field, along with a regular salary equal to or greater than your current income and a stipend to cover any incidental expenses. More importantly, we’ll keep you off Morrison’s radar and protected from any reprisals he might attempt. The same offer will of course be extended to Robert and Jerry as soon as they arrive — though they will not be expected to participate in your investigations unless they choose to.

I’m sorry to spring this all on you so suddenly, but we need your decision fairly quickly. There’s a team leaving this facility in less than 24 hours to investigate a potential haunting in Allegheny National Forest, and we’d like you to join them. Your flights to and from Pittsburgh will be covered as well: private charter, well off Morrison’s radar. You’ll be there and back in less than a week.

Kate Sheridan

What about my family?

Dr. Ren Park

What about them?

Kate Sheridan

They’re supposed to meet me in Oslow.

Dr. Ren Park

I… suggest you tell them to stay home.

Kate Sheridan

And… and they’ll be safe there?

Dr. Ren Park

As safe as they can be, I assume. Why?

[Kate clears her throat]

Kate Sheridan

“I’m going to kill you all the next time I see you.” That’s what Morrison said… to me. If I wouldn’t be safe in my own home — then why would my family?

Dr. Ren Park

I… see your point.

If we offered Peter the same arrangement… do you think he’d accept it?

[Kate sighs]

Kate Sheridan

He would if I asked him to… and if Andrew can stay here as well.

Bill Tyler

Are you sure you want to bring a kid into all this? I mean, this place is kind of—

Kate Sheridan

It might be the only place where we’re safe from Morrison. I want my family here, where I… know they’re protected.

Dr. Ren Park

What about the rest of you? Bill, Sam, Maria — I know your financial situation is a little… unstable at the moment.

[Bill scoffs]

Bill Tyler

Tell me about it… 

Dr. Ren Park

And I’m sure this isn’t how you saw this year going — but we need your help. If we’re going to find the trigger for Anna’s apocalypse and prevent it, then we need outside perspectives on the supernatural — people who know the world Anna operated in. And if Anna is still out there somewhere, then I suspect the best way to look for her is to follow in her footsteps… see what breadcrumbs she left for us to find.

Sam Bailey

Can we have some time to think about this?

Dr. Ren Park

Is there something missing from our offer?

Sam Bailey

No, no, it’s all… It’s very generous, but this is all just… really sudden.

Dr. Ren Park

Sure. Take as much time as you need. I mean… It’s not the end of the world, or anything.

[Clack]

Recording Ends

End Theme & Credits


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s