Episode 59: “A Shroud of Thoughts”

Episode 59: "A Shroud of Thoughts" The Sheridan Tapes

CONTENT WARNING: Brief depictions of implied death by drowning and hanging (including child death), coughing and choking sound effects, discussions of atomic bombings and apocalypse, brief mention of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, mind control, psychic warfare, existential dread, and terror1206019: Unearthly occurrences at the White Sands Missile Range.Starring Virginia Spotts as Kate Sheridan, Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, Mike Kennedy as Edgar Morrison, Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, and Sam Taylor as Ren Park, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Additional voices provided by Virginia Spotts, Maurice Cooper, and Trevor Van Winkle. 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/tst059Support this show http://supporter.acast.com/sheridantapes. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/SheridanTapes. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

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CONTENT WARNING: Brief depictions of implied death by drowning and hanging (including child death), coughing and choking sound effects, discussions of atomic bombings and apocalypse, brief mention of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, mind control, psychic warfare, existential dread, and terror

1206019: Unearthly occurrences at the White Sands Missile Range.

Starring Virginia Spotts as Kate Sheridan, Trevor Van Winkle as Sam Bailey, Mike Kennedy as Edgar Morrison, Amitola Lomas as Maria Sol, and Sam Taylor as Ren Park, with original music by Jesse Haugen. Additional voices provided by Virginia Spotts, Maurice Cooper, and Trevor Van Winkle. 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: Brief depictions of implied death by drowning and hanging (including child death), coughing and choking sound effects, discussions of atomic bombings and apocalypse, brief mentions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, mind control, psychic warfare, existential dread, and terror

[Waves, a thundering storm]

[A creaking ship, ropes and sails snapping in the wind]

[A bell rings]

[Cracking of the ship]

[A loose rope whips Anne Bonny in the ankle]

[She cries out]

[She’s pulled underwater]

[She briefly surfaces, then goes under again]

[She struggles at the rope]

[The world grows quiet]

[A voice calls out to her — her own]

“Anne Bonny”

What would you do, to save yourself?

[A dry and barren desert]

[Crickets chirp in the night air]

[A rope stretches and creaks]

“Sam Walsh”

What would you give, to save yourself?

[Cold winter wind]

[A child splashes in the water]

[The child, a young Sam Bailey, chokes and splashes and goes under with a yelp]

“Sam Bailey”

Who would you give, to save yourself?

[Wind howls through empty tunnels and corridors]

[Water drips from the ceiling]

[Voices echo throughout time, through different stories]

Anne Bonny

…the ship capsized before we could even reach the longboat. A piece of rigging wrapped around my ankle, pulled me into the depths. I tried to cut it loose, but my knife slipped from my hand and then I… heard it.

Sam Walsh

The rope just… broke.

Sam Bailey

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 my own imagination, or maybe it was God. I don’t… think so, now.

Anne Bonny

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them.

Sam Walsh

How long can someone survive being hanged? If they’re just… left there?

Sam Bailey

“What… would you do… to save yourself?” it asked. 

[Morrison, as if responding to the stream of voices…]

Edgar Morrison

Anything. Anything. Anyone.

[Cassette noises]

[Click]

[Main theme]

Recording Begins

[Cassette noises]

[Click]

[Static fades away]

[Wind whistles through a wide desert plain]

Sam Bailey

Samuel Isaac Bailey, recording for ISPHA internal records — daily log, December 2nd, 2019 at 9:31pm Mountain Standard Time.

It’s so quiet out here. I almost don’t want to break the silence, but… I needed to get out and think. I needed space… more space than I could get in my tent, at any rate. Ren probably doesn’t want me wandering off into the dark, especially after what happened the last time I did that, but… I still can’t sleep, so what else am I supposed to do at half-past 9?

It’s been three days since we got here. We’re camped out on a section of the White Sands Missile Range, though I’m still not sure why. All I know is that something has been seen lurking around the Trinity Site, and the base commander called Ren when they discovered a couple of fulgurite formations in the sand nearby — I guess they knew Ren from some previous project he was part of? Fulgurites are like Lichtenberg figures, the marks of electrical currents along an insulating material… except instead of forming on the surface of something struck by lightning, they’re 3D structures… masses of melted and fused soil, rock, or — in this case — sand, turned into glass. Except it’s December, in the middle of the desert. There hasn’t been a thunderstorm out here in months.

Bill stayed behind at Meriwether this time. Ren said that he needed more time to rest and recover from what happened in Pennsylvania… and if it was just Ren’s call, I might just believe that. But the order came down from Caldwell. That tells me that she saw Bill’s presence as a security risk — most likely because she suspects one of the creatures from Morrison’s psychic wheel is responsible for whatever’s happening here. We still don’t know the extent of Bill’s connection to the other “participants” in Morrison’s experiment, or how long those effects will linger. The ISPHA docs have been running tests on him nonstop — EKG’s, CT scans, that sort of thing. I’m sure he hates it, but… honestly, better him than me. Given… what I am, I have no interest in becoming ISPHA’s resident medical marvel.

[He shivers as the wind howls]

I shouldn’t forget why this place is so quiet — why ISPHA can camp out here with no fear of being spotted. People used to live out here, you know — ranchers and farmers, far from any city or town. Desert folk, just living their lives. And then World War II happened. The Manhattan Project began, and the government needed an atomic test site… somewhere remote, desolate, and hidden from prying eyes. Didn’t matter how long they’d lived there, how much they depended on the land, if they had anywhere else to go… one day, someone showed up and said they just had to leave. They could accept a settlement or file a legal case if they had the money — but first they had to leave, with no assurance they’d ever get their homes back. The McDonald Ranch House isn’t too far from here, one of the many homes seized by the government to build White Sands. The McDonalds went to court, actually, expecting to get their home back after the war ended… but that never happened. And on July 13th, 1945, their home became a grim monument when the world’s first fission bomb was assembled within its walls and detonated less than two miles away… the father of the bomb that killed more than 300,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. [bird chirps] If Anna was right, and some supernatural power is looking to wipe out humanity — this would be a fitting place to start.

It still feels weird to say that out loud — that we’re trying to save the world. I mean — what does that even mean? The world… is it the planet? The universe beyond? Or just the world we know… our people, our friends, our… families. Because I’m pretty sure that’s what the scientists at Los Alamos thought they were doing: building a weapon that would keep the world they knew safe from destruction, because if they didn’t do it first, someone else would. Mutually assured destruction. And if Ren was in their shoes… 

…If I was in their shoes, would I go through with that first test? Would I open Pandora’s box like that, if I thought it would keep the people I know safe? Morrison once called me a walking, talking calamity… and maybe he’s right. I still don’t know the limits of my powers. But if it comes down to it — if there’s no other choice — could I risk it to prevent Anna’s apocalypse? Would I?

[He sighs]

I don’t know. I’d like to think I could… that I’d be willing to take that chance. Down in the server room, I saw Doctor Caldwell risk everything to try and stop Manfredo’s plan, just to burn him out of the system. There wasn’t a doubt in her mind… or if there was, she didn’t show it. I don’t know if that conviction’s a danger or an asset yet, but… I can’t help but be impressed.

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[Shuffling as the recorder is handled]

Maria Sol

There! Did you see it that time?

Sam Bailey 

I think so… it was fast, though. Where’s Kate?

Maria Sol

Back at camp — second tent down the row, I think.

Sam Bailey

Here, take the recorder — [Sam moves the tape deck] I’ll go get her.

[Running footsteps as Sam retreats]

Maria Sol

I… guess Sam expects me to narrate what I’m seeing, so… Ren has us all on a rotating watch of the range, just to make sure we don’t miss anything. Sam and I were just about to switch out when I saw a flash of light on the mountains. I thought it might have been headlights, but then I saw it again, a few miles closer and down on the range itself. Whatever it is, it’s not on the road — and it’s getting closer. It’s in the same area they found those glass formations, and it definitely looks like some kind of lightning… even if it did almost look like a human for a second. I can’t be sure though… It just appeared for a second, and then it was gone.

[Distant rumble of thunder]

There it was again. I saw it a little clearer, but it’s leaving spots in my eyes. But it definitely doesn’t look like it’s just a lightning strike.

[A pair of footsteps approach]

Kate Sheridan

Is it still there?

Maria Sol

It was just a second ago… It disappeared again. You seem awfully awake.

Kate Sheridan

Seems like none of us were actually sleeping tonight.

Sam Bailey

How far out is it?

Maria Sol

Less than 200 yards, I’m guessing.

Kate Sheridan

Are we safe up here?

Sam Bailey

Considering it was ten miles away less than five minutes ago, I’d say no.

Maria Sol

Unless it doesn’t know we’re here. It could just be exploring the area on its own.

Kate Sheridan

Could be?

Sam Bailey

There it is!

[Crackle of electricity, faint boom]

Maria Sol

Less than 100 yards now. Kate, is that a— 

Kate Sheridan

Yes… That’s one of the creatures I saw in the bunker… The one Lara thought was an alien.

[Maria groans]

Maria Sol

Aliens… why does it always have to be aliens in New Mexico?

Kate Sheridan

Sam, are you getting anything from it?

Sam Bailey

No, I’m… I’m not. That’s weird… even with Ned, I got some level of background emotion.

[Crackling increases on the tape]

Maria Sol

Are you sure it isn’t just… trying to hide them?

Sam Bailey

I don’t think it works that way, Maria.

Maria Sol

Can you at least check?

[Sam hesitates, but takes a deep breath]

[Interference rises on the tape]

Sam Bailey

Huh… I’m getting something, but it’s… it’s faint — more like the way I sensed you when you were down in the bunker.

Kate Sheridan

So you think it’s not… like you? Not paranormal, I mean?

Sam Bailey

I’m not sure… it’s powerful, whatever it is. But it doesn’t feel like… like the other things I’m connected to. I can sense… curiosity. A need to investigate, to understand. And… 

[Interference increases]

Dread. A soul-wracking dread at some terrible task to be done — a horrible mission to be undertaken. It doubts itself, and what it might do if it finds what it’s looking for. And beyond that… 

Maria Sol

Sam? Sam!

[The interference almost drowned out Maria’s voice]

[Maria gently slaps Sam across the face]

[Interference stops]

Sam Bailey

Ow.

Maria Sol

Sam, LOOK.

[The figure is watching them, gently buzzing]

Sam Bailey

Oh no.

Kate Sheridan

I think it knows we’re here now.

Maria Sol

Hail Mary full of grace, the lord is with thee— 

Kate Sheridan

Maria, go get Ren. Now.

[Maria hesitates, but runs off]

Sam Bailey

I guess it’s not interested in her.

Kate Sheridan

Something tells me it’s found something else to worry about.

[The creature blinks out of existence]

[It reappears much closer, sparking and buzzing louder]

Sam Bailey

Shit.

Kate Sheridan

Sam, do something!

Sam Bailey

Like what?

Kate Sheridan

Anything! You’re the one with the fucking power— 

[The creature is suddenly close, electricity within it almost booming]

[Sam and Kate breathe with panic]

Sam Bailey

Go Away.

[Interference rises on the tape]

Sam Bailey

AHHH!

Kate Sheridan

Sam, what’s going on? What’s happening?

Sam Bailey

I tried to push it away, but it’s pushing back — I can’t — AHHH!

[Sam cries out]

Kate Sheridan

Sam? Sam, talk to me, are you— 

[The creature speaks through Sam, cold and electric]

“Sam Bailey”

Identify.

Kate Sheridan

What?

[Sam pants with effort to regain control of his body]

Sam Bailey

Sam Bailey, my name is Sam Bailey!

Kate Sheridan

Sam, what’s going on?

Sam Bailey

It’s using my voice to speak, I can’t— 

[Sam gasps as the creature takes control again]

“Sam Bailey”

Category error — human being in command of telepathic sympathies. Explain.

[Sam breathes heavily]

Sam Bailey

I’m not human! Not completely. I’m connected to something else that’s— 

[Sam gasps]

“Sam Bailey”

Link: unknown power. Previously detected in captivity.

Direct manifestation, humanoid form. Logged. Why did you seek to infect us?

[Sam breathes heavily]

Sam Bailey

Infect you? What are you talking about?

[Gasp as the creature takes control again]

“Sam Bailey”

“Go Away.” Telepathic assault by alien presence. Weak, but volatile. Represents potential contaminant of Jovian Greatmind.

Kate Sheridan

Jovian?

Sam Bailey

[breathing heavily] I was just trying… To make you go away… We thought— 

“Sam Bailey”

You. Secondary. Identify.

Kate Sheridan 

Secondary? Katherine Sheridan — Kate.

“Sam Bailey”

Identify nature: human?

Kate Sheridan

Yes… Yes, I’m human.

[Electronic, but organic sound of upload]

“Sam Bailey”

Subject logged. Request parley with species representative. Will you speak for your kind?

Kate Sheridan

Me? I don’t… I don’t know if I can. I’m not… [beat] Yes, I’ll… I’ll try.

“Sam Bailey”

Sample selected: Sheridan, Katherine “Kate.” Human. Identify purpose.

Kate Sheridan

You mean why I’m out here? It’s kind of a long story— 

“Sam Bailey”

Negative. Refine query: purpose for existence as Kate Sheridan. Reasons for continued operation.

Kate Sheridan

[uneasy laugh] That’s, uh… That’s a fairly loaded question.

“Sam Bailey”

Incorrect. Terms are clear.

Kate Sheridan

What’s your purpose for existing, then?

[Electronic, organic sound of download]

“Sam Bailey”

Objective: Evaluate terrestrial organisms endemic to Earth. Evaluate potential threat level. Determine necessity for sterilization. Execute if needed. Return to Greatmind if not.

Kate Sheridan

Sterilization? You’re here to… to kill us?

“Sam Bailey” 

Simplification: Objective, evaluation. Study. Outcome indeterminate. Response required.

Kate Sheridan

Response… Look: your reason for existing might be that clear cut, but it’s not that way for us.

“Sam Bailey” 

Expand.

Kate Sheridan

I don’t know… by the sound of it, you just kind of show up one day with a goal to accomplish, right?

“Sam Bailey”

Correct: Functionaries arise from the Greatmind for specific objectives. Return when complete.

Kate Sheridan

Well, we’re not like that. We’re just… born. With no idea who we are or what we’re supposed to do. We just… are. We have to figure out the reason on our own.

“Sam Bailey”

Define reason.

Kate Sheridan

Well, it’s… different for everyone.

“Sam Bailey”

Clarify: define your reason.

Kate Sheridan

[uneasy laugh] My… well, uh — There’s a few, I guess. My family, for one.

“Sam Bailey”

Define family.

Kate Sheridan

[scoff] My son, and my husband… and my mother and sister as well, but— 

“Sam Bailey”

Define your connection to “family.”

Kate Sheridan

They’re my family.

“Sam Bailey”

Describe the nature of your bond.

Kate Sheridan

I… [uneasy laugh] I love them. I promised to care for Peter, to be faithful to him. And Andrew… he’s my son. He needs me.

“Sam Bailey”

Does he?

Kate Sheridan

What?

“Sam Bailey”

Is organism: Andrew physically dependent on your presence? Would your cessation lead to his?

Kate Sheridan

Well… No, but he’d… 

[Electronic, organic sound of upload]

“Sam Bailey”

Mother and sister. Are these connections necessary to continued function?

Kate Sheridan 

It’s not about that!

[The Jovian’s true form sparks louder, lightning arcs to the ground]

“Sam Bailey”

Restrain emotional contaminant, or I will terminate this parley. Respond.

[Beat, Kate steadies herself]

Kate Sheridan

No, they aren’t… necessary. Mom’s in a nursing home and Anna’s been missing for two years, so… 

“Sam Bailey”

Error: organism Anna/sister is dead?

Kate Sheridan

She isn’t—!

[Kate steadies herself]

She’s gone, either way. I want to find her… but I don’t know if I can.

“Sam Bailey”

Return to original query — expand. Define reason for locating Anna?

[Kate holds back tears]

Kate Sheridan 

Because I miss her. And because… we think she saw the end of the world. I need to know — if she was right.

“Sam Bailey”

Query: Assume Anna was correct. What would you do to prevent it?

Kate Sheridan

I don’t know. I don’t know if there’s anything I could do.

[Pause]

“Sam Bailey”

Organism Bailey, Samuel Isaac — reply to previous query.

[Sam coughs]

Sam Bailey

I thought you were never going to let me out.

“Sam Bailey”

We are almost done with you. Respond.

[Sam breathes heavily]

Sam Bailey

Could you repeat the question?

“Sam Bailey”

What would humanity do to save itself?

[A moment’s silence]

[Sam laughs bitterly]

“Sam Bailey” 

Error: explain this reaction.

Sam Bailey

If you want to know that… just look into my memories. I already answered that question. A long time ago… and every day since.

“Sam Bailey”

Warning: if you attempt deception, you will live to regret it.

Sam Bailey

No tricks. Just… look.

[A moment’s hesitation]

“Sam Bailey”

Uplink.

[The Jovian’s form hums with a higher tone]

[Sam whimpers]

Kate Sheridan

Sam? What’s going on?

Sam Bailey

It’s… it’s making me relive those memories… Making me— 

[Sam cuts off with a gurgle]

Kate Sheridan

Sam? Sam! (to Jovian) Stop it! You’re killing him! You can’t—!

[Sam pants]

Sam Bailey

Anything! Anything! Anyone!

[Sam lies panting on the ground]

Kate Sheridan

Sam? Are you okay?

Ren Park (through megaphone)

Don’t move! We have you surrounded — put your… hands up!

[The Jovian speaks with Sam’s voice, no longer speaking through his throat]

Jovian

Objective complete.

[The buzzing aura of the Jovian brightens]

[It vanishes with a thunderclap]

[The sound slowly dissipates]

[Maria runs down to Kate and Sam]

Maria Sol

Sorry it took so long to get back — Ren wanted to mobilize the whole team before we left, and— 

Oh my god… Sam, are you okay?

[Sam laughs, weary]

Sam Bailey

No… no, I’m… I’m not okay.

Kate Sheridan

What happened? What did you see?

[Sam doesn’t answer]

[Click]

[Silence]

[Click]

[The boom of machinery behind him faintly, back at Meriwether]

Sam Bailey

Samuel Isaac Bailey, recording for ISPHA internal records — final mission report, December 6th, 2019 at 6:21am Mountain Standard Time.

It’s been four days since the encounter at White Sands… give or take. I’ve honestly kind of lost track… the days have just blurred into each other since we got back to Meriwether. Between the psych evals, physicals, and scans I’ve practically been living in the medical wing, and I only just got the green light to go back to work. Looks like I didn’t quite manage to avoid getting poked and prodded like I’d hoped.

[Short sigh]

There’s been no sign of the Jovian since it vanished, and apparently both ISPHA and the Air Force are convinced it’s gone. I don’t know what Ren told them — probably some half-baked excuse that explains just enough of what happened to close this case. Ball lightning, most likely. I’m not too worried about it though… it isn’t coming back.

I’ve been connected to other minds before. Felt emotions from things that don’t even pretend to be human being pressed over my own. And I’ve seen things far stranger than a being made of lightning. But that mind… it was alien. There’s… there’s no other word for it. And when it entered my memories… the connection went both ways. I saw its mind too. What it’s seen. What it’s a part of. What it’s done. There are civilizations out there in the black so powerful they could crush us to atoms without a second thought… and they are as nothing compared to what waits for us at the edge of the solar system: the psychic hive from which these Jovians send their soldiers and spies to every corner of the universe. Gathering intel. Evaluating. Passing judgment on entire worlds, annihilating species they deem too dangerous to continue. Turning millions of years of life and history to less than ash.

[He shudders]

We got a pass this time… I think. At any rate, the functionary didn’t drop us into a black hole, so that’s something. It could have. But it didn’t. I hope that means we’re safe… that Anna’s apocalypse won’t come at the hands of the Jovians. But I don’t… 

[Beat]

No. No, I think I do know. Whatever the Jovians have decided, it’s out there, among the stars. Whatever Anna saw in her dreams… it’s still here, waiting for us. 

[Clack]

Recording Ends

End Theme & Credits


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