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[We should all Listen to] The Magnus Archives

Sabermane

Proud Fianna knight of hope and peace
Validated User
EPISODE 63: THE END OF THE TUNNEL
Case: 0143103
Statement of: Erin Ghallager-Nelson, regarding an urban exploration trip beneath St Paul’s Church
Date of Statement: Marche 31 2014
Date of Event: March 26 2014
Recorded by Jonathan Simms

Erin begins with a brief introduction of urban exploration--aka breaking and entering in broken down ruins. He makes his living as a photographer, and some nice dilapidated underworld shots can bring in some good money. She always did his exploring with his brother-in-law Luke Nelson. At least, until he was eaten by darkness.

Ok, hop right into it then Erin…

The two were underneath St. Paul’s Cathedral, formerly St James before the Blitz blitz’ed the church and it was rebuilt. Erin had found some discrepancies in the blueprints--a massive void below ground that no utility ran through. All this smells like jackpot money to Erin, and so they decide to break into a church--good thing they weren’t catholic because of all the actual valuable

It was past midnight when they broke into the main chapel. Luke spots a removable panel, and the two sneak in. It had been decades since anyone had bene down there, and the air hissed out, icy cold and damp and clean. They went down into dark caverns of Victorian brickwork, the darkness clawing around them. Luke fixed the lighting, Erin took the shots--and noticed that Luke kept screwing up the lighting. His shadow was right there in every show--even though Luke argued he wasn’t doing that and stormed off. Erin took another shot--and saw another shadow. He convinced himself it was just some fluke, certainly not a shadow demon.

Finally, the two enter into a circular chamber filled with rubble and multiple doors. For some reason, this place wasn’t as dark--funny that. No shadows in here--that’s good. Then they head back, but Luke gets panicky. He’s ready to leave because of the “weird vibe”. But no, Erin needs more shots. Not enough to get paid. Luke shrugs, and they go deeper.

How deeper? Who knows? All Erin knows is that more shadows are showing up, and...less human silhouettes. Deeper and deeper in the black-bricked hallways, for over two hours, to the end of the path. A blank brick wall, and Erin decides it’s time to leave--

Erin’s torch died. She looked at Luke, his eyes filled with terror, then his flashlight died. In the impossible black, Erin heard Luke trying to turn on the camera flashes, hearing only the klick klick of failed ignition. Erin couldn’t speak, only listening to his breathing, Luke’s breathing...a third person breathing. Slow and deliberate and growing louder.

Then another.
Then another and another. They were surrounded in the dark. Luke whimpers, and then there was metal scraping on brick and coming faster. Footsteps running in the blackness, pounding down the tunnel.

Then the scream. Luke’s screaming in pain and fear. Erin was locked in terror, but somehow found the flash on the camera. The light flashed, and Erin saw Luke hangingin the air, two long thin shadows on the wall grabbing Luke’s shadow and his head’s shadow--well seperated from teach other. Erin screamed

Erin’s next thought was just a blast of light, the rector and parishoners. Luke’s body was gone, eaten by darkness. The Rector reassured Erin and called him an ambulance, and it was only after he was in the hospital that Erin realized the rector had taken his camera.

POST STATEMENT
The foundation stone of St James was laid in Nov 17 1821 by sir Robert Smirke. Simms is annoyed HOW regular Smirk or his students are. Simms obviously ties it to the Divine Host, although there’s no signs of a connection other than “dark=bad”. No one at the church remembers Erin showing up or anything about that night, even though hospital records clearly show it happened. Tim’s sure they’re lying but…

Miss Nelson’s wife is denying contact from the Magnus Archive for her. Luke is still missing.

SUPPLEMENTAL
Simms can’t haxxor. He can’t break into Gertrude’s laptop, and doesn’t know who he could trust to break in. Speaking of breaking in, Melanie King--you remember her, the head of Ghost Hunt UK? Worked with the weird creepy girl who stapled herself?--barges in. The new girl let her in.

She needs help. Access to the library, and she needs Simms to vouch for her. Oh, and the two them both know a Georgie who had nice thigns to say about Simms--how weird is that! Also, King’s been shamed out of the ghost hunting community. Ghost Hunt UK is all but officially broken up, and ever since King got arrested after breaking into the train graveyard in Rotherham. Even worse, she got recorded being arrested and became persona non grata. Simms says he’ll help, and recommends she asks Sasha for help out.

PERSONAL NOTES
First, I thought Erin was a guy when I started recording, but she’s a woman. I’ll try to correct.

Again, another reason why I’m enjoying doing this. I missed the connection of the great circular room with doors from EPISODE NUMBER?. Apparently there have been multiples of these, all built by Smirk or a student of his (and again, Smirk is a real person). We can assume that the crawlspace happened to hit the DARK hallway.

I LOVE the “New Girl/Sasha” bit. See, King is unaffected by Not-Sasha, so when not-Sasha shows up to let her in, King sees...someone she’s never met. Simms doesn’t even notice it, but it’s a great reminder that lets the audience do the podcast equivalent of yelling at the movie screen.

As for the story itself? It’s not my favorite, but it has great imagery and a solid hook. I do like how even Erin derides herself for not really paying attention to the shadow demons in her own pictures, and the conspiracy of the Church Rector snagging cameras--more signs of people just dealing with this and keeping it all quiet, a non-conspiracy Stand Alone Complex of a bunch of people all doing the same thing.
 

Rolzup

Dinoczar
Validated User
This is probably a personal statement, but I love how it’s just two old ladies talking but it’s so. Much. worse than a simple chat. You can hear that polite British “I’m going to offer you tea but I’m also going to rip your face off if you even think of those ancient Sumerian chants you shrew…”. Just a great opener. It’s a Doctor/Master, Bond/Blofield, Sherlock/Moriarty, Danger Mouse/Greenback banter. Ok, I lost it at the end there.
This is completely unconnected to the story itself, but I do find it fascinating that the voice actors for Gertrude and Leitner are the actual parents of Jonathan Sims. The person, not the character. Although I suppose that technically, they're the parents of both.
 

Sabermane

Proud Fianna knight of hope and peace
Validated User
Huh, I did not know that...I love these little tidbits! Thanks Rolzup!

EPISODE 64: BURIAL RITES
Case: 0152005
Statement of: Donna Gwynne, regarding an unlicensed archaeological dig near the Red Sea, Egypt
Date of statement: May 20th, 2015
Date of Event: 2012
Recorded by Jonathan Simms

Donna is being a bit vague, something something illegal digging something criminal enterprises. All the names are fakes, and when the specifics are “Egypt...ish”, well--makes it hard to corroborate.

Apparently it’s hard finding a job as an archaeologist. Stupid Indiana Jones making it look cool. Donna took the “unliscened work” path because being a criminal grave robber sounded better to her than being a teacher.

Her job was simple--find the right pieces for the “private market”. Less regulations, more law-breaking, adn she worked for a man named Stavo. Maybe works--she doesn’t know yet. This job went pear-shaped, so she’s not sure if she’s been fired or not.

She started working with Stavo three years ago. Her job was appraiser--she finds the valuable portable stuff for the workers. She agreed on the spot.

Next we get an introduction to the Shadowrunning Black Market Doomed Archeology Team (feel free to turn on your favorite "team of criminals" soundtrack now):
Grigori the geologist
Norman, the Face and Fixer,
and Barry and Paul, two Albanians who were muscle.

The last dig was high risk--Egypt had denied Penn U permission to look at a ruin in the middle of the desert sands. It was a completely untouched tomb away from everywhere else. The cops or the army could come looking, sure, but it was a risk they were willing to take. Stavo uses his contacts to get some crooked cops for cover, and Donna and team go into the desert, dreaming of finding a new pyramid…

So they end up digging in the middle of the eastern desert to break into a tomb, the kind of stuff Donna really lives for. Hanging above the entrance is a Shen Ring, the Egyptian sign for eternity and royal burial places. This was weird for Donna, since this underground pyramid didn’t seem to have the royal person’s name inscribed anywhere. At this point your average gaming group would go “nope--seal it back up or fill it with C4”.

The Albanians move the door slab, and they entered into the tomb (after Norman chips off the eternity symbol to sell later). The air smells of ancient cedar, and they delve into tomb. Donna notices how BIG this place was compared to other tombs, and that it is bare of paint or heiroglyphics. Well, it hadn’t been robbed...it was just empty. They also find numerous corridors, all stretching around and back and ending in dead ends. The tomb was a labrynth, designed to make it hard to reach the front door. Walking in was easy, getting out was hard.

…so now your ‘runners are covering the C4 blocks in gasoline and chemical weapons.

Stavo grabs the jeep’s winch because he’s got cunning. The group finds the central chamber--again, completely empty save for raised dais holding a rotted wood sarcophogus, no paint to protect it and copper bands still holding the sides together. Inside,trhough the wholes in the wood, they see the bod of the mummy.

Stavo curses--there’s nothing to really SELL here, and he spent a lot of money. Donna, trying to keep her head low, explores the room and finds some dice made of small bones. Perfect! She turns to let Stavo know, seeing him ranting above the mummy--Donna has to reiterate that the mummy might be worth a lot of money if you don’t punch it.

Just as he calms himself, Stavo’s eyes go wide and his face goes pale. The mummy was grabbing his wrist. The mummy was alive. It opened it’s mouth to scream but nothing comes out. At this point there’s a brief moment where Donna wanders down the path of “sure would have sucked to be mummified alive” and probably costs herself some sanity points--of course it can’t scream, it’s lungs were dissolved by cedar oil!

Stavo shoots the mummy repeatedly, finally remembering that mummies and zombies are pretty close and blows out the back of the creature’s head. The mummy falls over, in between Donna and the door. Stavo gives her a “sorry!” look, and he bolts for the door (apparently everybody else had already bolted). The mummy crawls after Donna--it was slow, but fear kept Donna’s legs from responding. She grabs her lucky hunting knife, and threw it into the mummy’s throat. The mummy grabs Donna’s hands, pulls the knife from it’s throat...and makes her aim the thick heavy blade lower. To the monster’s heart. Monster and human plunge the blade into it’s heart again and again...the fifth time it appears to take, and Donna follows the winch cable out, finding the two Albanians arguing how to put back the seal. The group wordlessly covered up the ruins, leaving no trace of it.

Donna finishes by saying how dying was the most important thing a person could do. She has no idea what they would have thought of a person that could not die, but she knows what they might do if they found one...

POST STATEMENT
Simms is pissed, obviously, since you can’t corraberate anything other than Donna is now a teacher.

SUPPLEMENTAL
Simms is getting berated by Bashira--he’s been clumsy and asking around for her because he needs new tapes. Bashira feels like she’s being watched by her bosses though. He’s going to need to cool it for a while. Simms is sad because he will need to be more careful.

PERSONAL STATEMENT
Mummies! Illegal body snatching! Horrible undying!! Sure, it’s a bit of a light episode, but it works, honestly because of the closing statement. It goes from campy to creepy, especially since-

Spoiler: Show

The story suddenly clicks. Some point in the forth century, some body got scared of dying, so much so that they drew the attention of The End. That fear became...immortality, and yeah--that seems like a great way to get doomed, especially in a society focused on the afterlife.
 

Sabermane

Proud Fianna knight of hope and peace
Validated User
Oh yes. This is one of those "Oh man, remember THAT one?!" Episodes. it just works really well in it's own creepy way. And the best part was--it was also one of those scenes I was really waiting for at the end.

EPISODE 65: BINARY
Case: 0170701
Statement of: Tessa Winters, regarding a strange computer program she downloaded from the Deep Web three months ago
Date of Statement: Jan 7, 2017
Date of Event: October 2016
Recording by: Jonathan Simms and taken from subject directly

We open with Tessa chatting with Simms about his clunky old analogue tape recorder. How digital works, and how it represents on way of storing and reading data--1’s and 0’s. But analog means “everything else”. We quickly learn that Tessa is a computer expert, and she worked on turning analog into digital. She reminds us that magnetic tape is still technically digital. She goes on like this for a while, and frankly Tessa sounds like a nudge here or there and she could end up being a cultist for data. She’s not there yet, but we’ve already seen too many people who have seen things in this world that end up in worse places later. Maybe she’ll be back...who can say?

Anyway, Tessa works with computers and not so much people. Her greatest social vector is a blog she hasn’t posted to in a year. Tessa’s also worried about people losing their minds, since their minds are all we are. She knows a lot of friends in the digital industry who are ready for the Singularity, but Tessa’s pretty sure that it’s impossible--turning the “wet, messy” analoge brain into a clean digital copy won’t work like they think it will. At best, computers and digital thinking will only trick themselves into thinking like us.

Finally, simms gets to making the official record start with only a bit of frustration at Tessa’s ramblings. But she’s not rambling--she’s giving us the framework so we understand. She also briefly mocks Simms for sounding like her grandfather about “the Deep Web”--she just downloaded a program from a TOR server.

Tessa asks if we’ve heard of the creepypasta urban legend of Sergey Ushanka. Sometime around ‘83, they say, back when we were all getting AOL CD’s in the mail, this genius programmer finds out he’s got a fatal brain disease. Probably brain cancer or alzheimer’s or whatever. Sergey doesn’t want to die, so he decides to upload his brain on line in the most ghoulish way possible. Be it his dead body still tapping code into his computer, writing down programming in his own blood, or just shoving his brain directly into the motherboard, he tries to cheat death. According to all the stories, there’s a copy of floppy disks of impossible code sitting next to his corpse…

Anyway, Sergey’s become a bit of an internet game, making a chatbot who makes you believe it’s actually a Russian programmer trapped online. Like a spooky Turning test, it should start small and convince you you’re talking to a person, but by the end make you creeped out by a digitalized screaming face and how “the angles cut me when I try to think”.

So yeah--good internet ghost story, and a niche toy. A lot of programmers make a Sergey, and finding one is kinda like listening to a spooky podcast. Tessa would do this when the mood struck her. One day she gets an link to a Ushanka.exe. A tiny one--less than a MB, and the comments are full of “broken link”. But she had nothing to do, and at 2 in the morning, after some wine, she decides she’s in the prefect mood for having a chat with Segey.

It opens to a black chat window with a blinking cursor. Normally the program started first, but not this time. Tessa typed “hello”, something the program would obviously have a response to--except this one didn’t really. After 15 seconds, she gets a blur of nonsense, changing, twitching, scrolling characters. It hurt her eyes to look at, and there’s some words buried in the chaos--

Helphelphelp

It peels my brain like knives


Well, spooky--but it’s supposed to be spooky! Tessa was unsettled and enjoying it--until she realizes her laptop’s fan sounded like it was wheezing instead of whirring. Tessa thinks some evil might be involved--malware. She couldn’t exit the program, so she shuts it down--but it keeps running. Without power. That’s...not good.

Youwantedtotalk
Hihihihihihi


Suddenly, an image pops up--a grainy webcam video of a balding man in his 30’s, obviously hurting and sick. No sound, but he’s shuddering and crying at his keyboard in the dark. With dread, Tessa watched him grab his keyboard and jerk up one of the keys. The man then ate the key, plastic shattering between his teeth. Then another key--

Tessa slams the laptop shut. She waks up an hour later, and on her TV is...the man. Now with sound. Cruching and eating each key, blood coming from his mouth. There was no way Tessa could figure out how this could happen--and the man kept eating and painfully breathing. He was muttering something about “it feels like thinking through cheesewire’, “there’s no feeling but the nofeelign hurts” and “it’s cold and it hurts without blood”.

The man finished the keyboard, and shatters where the screen would be, and starts eating that. Even if the screen was broke, it was still illuminating his face…

Tessa unplugged everything. Computer. TV. Router. Even her phone.

But still the recording came. For 17 hours it haunted her--popping up in any screen she watched. The man painfully eating the computer. Only she could see it, and Tessa really hopes she’s not mad.

After a month of this, she took a day and watched the whole thing. Finally, after the worst 17 hours of her life, she watches the man smile bloody, lay down at his desk showing that he is missing the back of his head, and say “The maze is sharp on my mind. The angles cut me when I try to think…” For a half hour the image froze, and then--blackness.

Tessa still thinks the idea of uploading your mind in a computer, and how painful it must be to try to think in digital.

SUPPLEMENTAL
Simms verifies that this is the first time he’s heard of anything like this. Tessa apparently found the Magnus Archives from a post he made on a tech-saavy forum, and Tessa was able to unlock the laptop!

Then Tim breaks in while Simms is “scheming”, and Simms and Tim get into a bit of a tussle about Simms thinking tim was a murderer. Tim is sick of Simms and his scheming, sick of the monsters and tunnels and nightmares, sick of nobody having his back in the Archives! Sick of Simms stalkign people and for some reason not being fired! He’s been eaten by worms for this job, and Simms won’t even show him a modicum of respect!

Simms sneers back “why don’t you quit then?! You hate it here, fine. Quit now--i’ll even get you the rest of the month’s salary. Just say the words”

Tim wants to say it...but he can’t. Why can’t he quit?! Simms doesn’t know--and he’s pretty sure he can’t fire Tim either. They both know this place is wrong somehow. Who is the victim? Who is the agent?

They don’t know, but right now...they should just do their jobs, I suppose.

PERSONAL STATEMENT
This is, in many ways, a pretty good sci-fi. Using new technology to warn us that maybe things we want aren’t what we really want. It feels like it would be a somewhat gory “outer Limits” episode in many ways, and i mean that in a good way.

But the supplemental is what I was waiting for. This is why I enjoy this series so much, because “seriously you got eaten by worms last season WHY WOULD YOU STILL WORK HERE?!” is a common issue for media (especially podcasts for some reason--it irks). No one wants to be here. No one wants to explore this mess, and now with direct evidence that this is all real, the logical answer would be “screw this I’m joining a nunnery and getting drunk until I die”.

But they can’t.

I never really think about that when I’m playing a game. That the character’s are living out all this terrible stuff, but they’ve lost the capacity to quit or leave when that’s the obvious correct choice. My PC’s are trapped fighting Gannon or dungeon crawling or whatever because *I* do not want to give them that option. A fickle and terrible god is pushing them to keep reading the necronomicon, to keep slaying dragons instead of opening taverns, to do the least safe action.

A story is a monster that eats its character’s alive. And in this case, the character’s know it.

This is why I like this series--because it takes a normal complaint about the genre and makes it a terrible thing. It doesn't take the easy way out, and instead it grabs the cliche and uses it to expand the story.
 

Sabermane

Proud Fianna knight of hope and peace
Validated User
EPISODE 67: HELD IN CUSTOMS
Case: 0002202
Statement of: Vicent Yang, regarding his claimed imprisonment by Mikale Selasa
Date of Recording: Feb 22, 2000
Event Date: January 19, 2000
Recorded by: Jonathan simms

All right! Our favorite Samoan Cultist/Smuggler/trader in antiquities and other atrocities!

Yang is positive he’s been drugged. It was the only way he could have been grabbed, and put in, and how it felt like things went forever...all of this is surprising to Yang, because it didn’t feel like being drugged (he experimented a LOT in his early days), but it’s the only explanation.

Everybody knows how this was supposed to work. Yang works at the Portsmouth harbor, and everybody knows his job is to bust the sloppy ones. Everybody smuggles, that’s how this works, but you bust the ones that make mistakes or are doing things the government is hitting hard this week. Most smugglers are small fry, and everybody wants a nice, boring day.

But no, Salesa screwed up his paperwork even though he should know better. So Yang had to stop him--not a full search, just a delay. Don’t kill him, Salesa. Well, this did not please our Samonan smuggler at all. Glaring murder six inches from Yang’s face, he waves his arm and says that Yang can search his cargo if he thinks he’s a criminal.

Now Yang hates his job--no one likes the guy who has to enforce the laws. Yang just nudges around to show Yang that he COULD do this if he wanted but he WON’T because he’s a nice guy please don’t skin me kaythxbai. So in that cold, freezing air, Yang was ready to get the hell out of dodge, leaning on a wooden crate--that slides open. A whoosh of dry, hot air gusts from the crate--and Yang finds...nothing.

Now, this could be normal. It’s not like you need to declare “nothing in a box”, right? So Yang looks over to shrug at Salesa, who suddenly looks concerned. Yang tells him he needs to get his documents in order or else, and leaves to go. Salesa grabs Yang’s arm as he heads to the door--and says, softly. “Don’t go to sleep.”

So Yang thinks Salesa’s trying to scare him, and back to his small ground-floor flat in a rough neighborhood. Yang checks all his locks, takes two shots of medicinal vodka, and gets ready for a nice winter’s “no mythos interacting with my life at all’ rest.

He has a lovely deep sleep--until his legs started cramping. He tries to move his legs, but they were trapped by something. He opened his eyes--he wasn’t on his pillow, but instead a flat wooden board. He was stuck in a box, in the dark. That box.

He screamed because why wouldn’t you. Nobody came, and he was terrified that he might be buried alive.

He decides to try to budge the top, but to no avail. He was trapped, stuck, and thrashing to move only gave him spinters. It was humid and hot in this box, even in this dead of winter. So Yang crapped and dehydrated and eventually panicked. After a few panic attacks, it was at least nice to know that he wasn’t buried alive. See? Good news!

No, because the box seems to shrink. Just a few millimeters, but enough for him to realize he was being punished for hoping.

At some point, he realized there was light from the outside. Yang moved himself barely, to get sunlight on his face, another moment of peace--and again, the box squeezed him tighter.

Knowing he was outside, Yang screamed until his voice was gone.

At 11”56, he realized he could see his watch (he doesn’t take it off to go to bed). It grounded Yang, letting him see that time was passing, and that meant he wasn’t mad. He eventually fell back asleep…

And woke up still in that box. He cried, hating himself for wasting water.

Due to the light moving in and out of the box, Yang was sure that he had been in that box for four days. Yang knew he was going to die in this box, alone and forgotten. Maybe someone would find his body, and be eaten by the Box if it was still hungry…

Then, Yang woke up to the crate lid being pried open and a flashlight bearing down on him. Above him was Salesa, peering at Yang curiously, and a captain that came through the port regularly. What was his name...Lorell? Luka?

Lukas saw the man was there in the crate, shrugged, handed Salesa a 20 pound note, and left. Luka let him out, being sure not to touch the crate mind, and hands Yang a bundle of papers--one manifesto, properly filled out.

Yang spend the rest of the day trying to move his tortured limbs and sipping water. By the end of the day, he resigned. On the 19th of january. The day after he dealt with Salesa. Even though his watch no longer matched the date or clock on the wall, even though yang had been scorched by the sun and frozen by night, it had only been a few hours he was in that Box.

He had to have been drugged, Yang knows. He also knows that’s not the truth at all.

POST STATEMENT
So now Simms knows that Salesa knows Lukas of the Tundra, our tanker that eats new Irish sailors. Is Salesa a player or a pawn? Who can say?

Tim was unable to flirt any documents out of anybody, and Not-Sasha is still having problems using computers (DAMMIT SIMMS!), so no proof can be obtained. Martin was sent to find Mr. Yang, but only found his children. They were surprisingly cooperative in letting him see Mr. Yang--who is in late stage Alzheimers. Martin had to leave after Mr. Yang became upset after hearing about boxes.

SUPPLEMENTAL
Simms has been checking Gertrude’s laptop. Sadly no “My murderer.avi” or a diary--just some records and budgets. Gertrude wasn’t great for notes. However, she did seem to request a LOT of budget for travel (that was approved). Gertrude travelled all over, apparently--Nairobi, Withita, Budaphest, Shanghai. Nothign about Alexandria but that wouldn’t be surprising.

Her Amazon account is apparently filled with petrol, lighter fluid, torches, and copious sums of filing tabs and index markers of various types. It appears Gertrude was keeping the files in dissaray on purpose. But why? Simms knows she might not be happy with him organizing it, but at the same time he doesn’t trust Gertrude either…

Of course, the three other things she purchased on her browser are the worst part. Gertrude was trying to buy Leitners as grbookworm1818. She got hold of three--the Seven Lamps of Architecture, the key of solomon, and a pamplet known only as “a Dissapearnce”. These books aren’t in the Magnus Library or her apartment--and Simms is hoping that she destroyed them.

He closes with a realization. Maybe it’s not important who killed Gertrude, but WHY.

PERSONAL STATEMENT
 

Sabermane

Proud Fianna knight of hope and peace
Validated User
EPISODE 67: BURNING DESIRE
Case: 0071803
Statement of: Jack Barnabas, regarding a short-lived courtship with Agnes Montague
Date of statement: March 18 2007
Date of Event: October/November 2006
Recording by: jonathan Simms

Anges? You mean “burns your cheek to wake you from torpor caused by your foster-father trying to sacrifice you and turn you into a spider-shell?” Agnes? “Absolutely tied to hilltop road” Agnes?? ‘Obvviously supernatural?!” agnes??

Well, Jack could tell you that--he knew she wasn’t normal when he met Agnes. Jack thinks she’s like him--another weirdo in a normal world. He thought Agnes was beautiful and completely human. She was tall, with long, auburn hair, and eyes that made you understand the phrase “like a deer in a headlights”.

Even Jack’s boss knew she wasn’t a good idea. Jack worked at the Canyon Cafe, and the first time his boss Deliah saw that look in Jack’s eyes, she warned him to stay away. The girl was trouble. Apparently Agnes had been coming to this cafe since 1991.

Of course, Jack was drawn to her, but was too scared to actually talk or flirt with her. But every day she came in, and enjoyed ordered a large black coffee room for cream--even though she never put cream in. Or drank the coffee, really--just sat there by the window, holding the coffee and people watching. An hour or so later, she’d leave, and Jack would pick up her coffee--still scalding hot. Funny that--but love is, as they say, blind.

It went this way for a year. She was alone all but two times. The first time, some dick tried flirting with her. She glared at him, and the dick started sweating profusely, but kept going. Agnes flinched to get up, and the man fell back--knocking over her coffee and scalding his hand with red welts. He screamed something about suing them before disappearing and never coming back. That day, Jack noted there were some small scorch marks on Agnes’s chair. Funny that--but love is, as they say, blind.

The other time was near the end of October last year. Jack saw Agnes had a guest--a short, muscular Asian woman wearing a tanktop. Odd because it’s chilly October, but maybe she just really wants to show off her strangely detailed back tattoo of a man writhed in flames screaming. Agnes was actually talking to her, which was a red letter day event for sure! The asian woman was talking loudly about if Agnes was ready for the job and if she was going to be “released”. Agnes looked sad, and the woman handed her a brown paper bag--a “collection”--before leaving.

Well, seeing Agnes act like a human being gave Jack courage enough to ask her her name. Then he asked her out on a date before Jack could even stop and think about it. The room suddenly fell silent, and Agnes “twisted her face into what i think was a smile”, and said yes.

Jack is walking on sunshine (wo-ah!) the rest of the day--until he realizes he didn’t actually plan anything or get her number. As the next day was his day off, he simply stayed at home and kicked himself for being so stupid--until at 3pm, there was a knock on the door. There was Agnes, dressed in a coat and scarf, smiling her entirely-human smile. After taking a moment to put on a clean shirt (and noticing a weird “burning” smell comin from the whisp of smoke that had been a cobweb in the corner of his room), the two went out into the cold October day.

What were they going to do? Walk through the park, Agnes said. They went and walked--Jack did most of the talking, and Agnes kept not-smiling. They sat on a bench as the sun set, and Agnes asked Jack a question. “Do you have a destiny?” Well, Jack said “um...no.”, to which Agnes said said, “tht must be nice”.

They dated a few other times--each time Agnes simply arriving. They walked through the park, went to a restaurant where Agnes ate nothing, and saw “the Prestige”. Their last date was november 23rd, 2006. It was too cold for the park, but Agnes demanded and Jack agreed. As night fell, Jack was getting ready to recommend they leave. He turned to see Agnes clutching her chest and gasping. She said they needed to go, and she made it to a phone booth to call somebody--something about “a tree falling” and “needing to finish” someting. Grasping Jack;s arm, they went back to her flat--Jack’s first time there, an old apartment building with burn marks in the wallpaper and a bunch of people (including short angry Asian lady) waiting for Agnes. All of them dressed in work clothes and looking pissed, one bald guy with an empty latern, one holding a bag of candles, and one holding a plastic jug filled with spiders.

Normal Thursday night, really.

Jack realized this was not a good place. Agnes told Jack thank you and goodbye--and Jack realized he would never see her again. He could have left, but filled with emotion he asked if he could give her a kiss. Agnes touched his cheeks with her hands--the first time thier skin had ever touched…

...and started screaming as she kissed him. His face erupted in blistering white heat, melting and cracking. As he blacked out, he felt a tiny sizzling teardrop hit his skin.

Three days later, Jack woke up in the hospital. The police--when able to look at him--told him that Agnes had killed herself. Jack was apparently lucky, since whatever fire he put his face in should have blinded him--but Jack doesn’t feel lucky. He lost his job (hard to have a service industry job when people can’t look at you), and his house. He’s living with his father now. He knows if he had the chance again, he still wouldn’t have done something different. He was drawn to her...like a moth to a flame (cure Cryptkeeper laugh).

POST STATEMENT
Agnes Montague /Fielding is apparently kind of...human. The bold man with the latern was probably Diego Malina, the man who had the red leather book, burned Basira’s parter when he was arrested, and ended up dying in a hospital when Gerard kaey killed him. Was Arthur nolan, also a man obsessed with fire and crazy tattoos also tied to this? Probably--Simms is calling them all the Lightless Flame, and is confident these guys made that crazy Scottish ritual site.

Martin was able to contact Jack by email, who is doing better now with soem plastic surgury. Martin was able to get Jack to remember that Agnes said she was adopted. They also got verification that Agnes had been visiting the Canyon Cafe for over a decade, apparently not aging at all during that time. So yes, Simms will admit this the same Agnes from Hilltop Road, who hung herself with a human hand on her belt after the Tree was ripped out of the ground.

SUPPLEMENTAL
Elias is trying to stop simms from going back into the catacombs. Either John was crazy, or there is evil there, neither of them are really good reasons to let Simms back into the catacombs. Elias agrees to a key, only if Simms agrees not to do something stupid, and demands that Simms get some sleep.

PERSONAL NOTES
Aw, the fire demon immortal lady is just a coffee lovin’ romantic! Or a face burning nightmare. Man, that line about “feeling the fat melt from your cheeks” always gets me--just...gah. Shudder.

I admit, i think they overdid it at the end with the “moth to a flame” line, but otherwise a good tragedy and another life ruined by the briefest encounter by the Darkness. It’s also nice to get some verification that all of this is really connected, and that apparently the spider’s and firepeople are/were at war.
 

Sabermane

Proud Fianna knight of hope and peace
Validated User
EPISODE 68: THE TALE OF A FIELD HOSPITAL
Case: 0030306
Statement of: Joseph Russo, regarding a book allegedly authored by Sir Frederick Treves
Date of recording: June 3, 2003
Date of event; June 1, 2003
Recorded by: Jonathan Simms

Joseph is a fanboy of the Magnus institute. He read all the leaked stories from ‘99 (what?), and he believes in the supernatural. He also believes in the Illuminati, and that the world is being controlled by a secret cabal of billionaires. Which...look, this was probably funny back in 2015, you know?

Joseph is also an “artist”--by which we mean, he builds things out of garbage. So he ends up at a dump, looking for deals and material for his ‘expression’. While deciding if he needed to pick up a wicker basket of old books, he found a copy of “the Tale of a Field hospital”.

Joseph is obviously going to pick it up--it’s written by Sir Frederick Treves, friend of the Elephant Man! The book was about Treves time in a field hospital during the second Boer War, and it looked old. age made it seem like it might have been a first edition. Except...the pages and typefaces and layout is different from chapter to chapter. Maybe it’s older. Maybe it’s a working draft copy? A customer bound collection of the articles that the book was based on?

So Joseph is excited for both a good re-read of a book (he lost his copy during a breakup), and possibly a pay day. However, he begins to notice that this version is different from the one he previously read. For example, in the section on the soliders with the spades (digging the graves for those who died the night before), the ‘normal’ book describes these men as carefree and joking to hide their grief. But THIS book talks about one man who DID have proper decorum, a private Amherst (who had the same last name as a Jeffery Amherst who gave small-pox blankets to native Americans because he’s a right dick) who never seemed to sweat in the heat but seemed to win the “most flies buzzing around you’ award. The next morning, Amherst dug a grave, saluted to the narrator Treves, and then died on the spot of Typhoid.

In Chapter 19, “the story of the restless man”, the new version talks of how private Amherst came back into the field hospital with a broken leg. Yeah, that private Amherst. He was given a bed, but in the morning he’s splayed out on the floor. When asked why he got out of bed, Amherst (who is politely ignoring Treve’s questions on “seriously didn’t you die?”) just says “i’m such a restless man”. They tried again, and next morning he was on the floor--and another man with a chest wound is in his place. Apparently they put the man in on the middle of the night--and suddenly died. So hey, Amherst get’s his bed back! The third night--same thing. Amherst on the floor, other wounded guy in the bed who dies of infection ridiculously fast. Amherst’s wound becomes stupidly gangrenous with the relative strength and speed of a gangrenous spider, and Amherst dies a second time. Treves implores him to stay dead, but Amherst uses his (second) final words to be “but doctor, I’m such a restless man…”.

Then, Chapter 30, the last chapter, Treves watches a man walk into the hospital--shit, it’s Amherst, and he looks like he’s died twice already. He was black and covered with flies. Amherst told Treves that he had just come back from the concentration camps, and he desired to touch Treves with all he had seen--the disease and putrefaction and crawling insects there. Then he dropped dead a third time...as did the man who dug his grave.

So anyway, Joseph donates the book, with a warning that the pages are very sharp.


POST STATEMENT
Two days after donating the book and making a statement, Joseph Russo died from a ridiculously fast blood infection after a paper cut. Simms is certain this was a Leitner. Simms is also fairly confident due to the scorch marks on some of the paper that Gertrude tried to delete this record via burnination.

Shockingly, this is a fairly accurate reading. Treve’s published version is nothing like these chapters, oddly. Amherst is a long list of names Simms knows--oh yeah, John Amherst, our elderly care home of doom, exterminator threatening, highly flammable guy! I keep forgetting his name because he’s so gross! Is it a relation, or is our John Amherst the same John Amherst from 1900 and maybe the same Jeffery Amherst who gave small pox blankets? Well that would be impossible, obviously.

SUPPLEMENTAL
Simms is in the tunnels and got lost! He found the gas main, and someone’s coming and so...AAHHHH! It’s Sasha! That’s a relief (NO IT’S NOT!). Sasha forgot her coat, and saw the trap door open, and came down to make sure everything’s ok. She doesn’t like it down there, as it’s hard to focus…

Ka-chick. Later. Not-Sasha got them out of the tunnels. Simms is thinking he might take a vacation from exploring. The tunnels play tricks with your mind--when he saw Sasha down there, she seemed...much too tall for some reason. He might take a break from exploring down there for a while.

PERSONAL NOTES
Yeah, because it’s Not-Sasha!! Moron!!

As for the story itself, the first thing that comes out is Joseph is an annoying character. I mean, good work from the real Johnny Simms on his voice work here--the character is nothing like our Simms, and the sheer eye-rolling disdain i have for this character is palatable.

The record however points out a few things for us. First, again, that this has been going on for a while. Second, that Amherst is probably immortal. Which means we still need to worry about him. If Simms was paying attention, that means that Jane Prentice could, theoretically, also be not dead for real--which isn’t good news for anybody.

There’s a bit at the supplemental though. Simms talks about how he got lost, finding some spider webs so he turned to another corner and found a gas main--so our spider vs. Fire war. Also that not-Sasha was having trouble thinking down there, and that’s probably why Simms started to see through the mask a bit. This doesn’t seem to be the same kind of secret chamber we’ve seen previous, but these tunnels are tied to at least four of the evil flavors we’ve seen.
 

Sabermane

Proud Fianna knight of hope and peace
Validated User
EPISODE 69: THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Case: 0101811
Statement of: Darren Harlow, regarding a failed psychology experiment at the University of Surrey
Date of recording; November 18, 2010
Date of Event: november 11, 2010
Recording by: Jonathan Simms

We open with Simms and Martin doing small talk--Sasha’s taking the day off with her boyfriend Tom from Kensington, a perfectly real man and not some horrible cabal of face-stealing monsters. Martin pushes for Simms to talk to Tim, but Simms isn’t having it. On one hand, Simms is a terrible curmudgeon who never asks for help or tries to open up AND I’M SURE THAT WON’T BITE HIM IN THE ASS REPEATEDLY HA HA, and on the other hand what do you do after a “well, you can’t quit and I can’t fire you because Cthulhu” conversation?

So, back to the job--Darren was a janitor, and even he knew that experiment sounded like something out of a horror movie. Each new detail sounded worse and worse, but Darren laughed because hey--he’s not living in a horror movie? Even when he started to see more spiders while cleaning, well--it’s just the laughing kind of horror, right? Playing at being scared. Darren does say something quite profound--how even when you’re staring horror in the face, you still don’t really believe it because that’s not how reality works. But then...what’s reality? When it’s all based on our perceptions, we create our reality. If we’re not careful, we can change it.

Darren, who seems pretty damn insightful, will remind us at this point he was not doing any experiments because he was just a simple janitor, cleaning up the school and the labs. Since the labs are filled with stuff that is both expensive and difficult to clean, he’s a higher level Lab Janitor, so he gets to clean the swanky lab stuff but not the REALLY expensive stuff. But he’s a regular, and the lab guys all seem to get along with him pretty well. He’s a regular secondary cast member is what he’s saying.

So when Dr. Bates (yes, really) tells him about the new experiment, he’s pretty sure she’s fucking with him. Who would have funded this? Who let them get the lab space in the first place? Again, above Darren’s paygrade, but Dr. Bates is the head of the psychology department, and they’re now digging into parapsychology. ESP. Basically--can a bunch of people in one room make another person in another room feel something? Yeah, real Time-Life books series. But hey--Darren loves him a good sci-fi yarn and it’s psychology so he never really needs to clean up anything too messy.

The experiment was thus: Subject A would be in a sealed room A with a one-way mirror, wired up for monitoring. Room B would have 1d20 other people thinking really hard at Subject A while also being stimulated by something. The scientists then see if Subject A responded. For this experiment, Subject A is one Annabelle Cane, a dark skin and short bleach blond hair who dresses “like a vintage clothing store exploded on her”. The stimuli they’re working on?

Fear. Which you should have known because we’re 70 episodes in and a person is named Cane, but more specifically--arachnophobia. So while Room B is staring at Annabelle, videos of spiders eating things and being spidery would be shown. So a bunch of arachnaphobes will be in a room staring at a person while spider-images are thrown at them to see if you can weaponize terror.

Perfectly rational normal science.

Now, Darren doesn’t know what really happened during the tests since he wasn’t there (obviously), but he heard stories. Apparently Annabelle was showing some signs of fear response during the spiderpalooza (as did one arachnaphobe, being sick from discomfort). Darren also notes he starts having to clean a lot more cobwebs than normal. He never saw the spiders, which was weird...spiders don’t hide from people. But hey--it’s all fun and games, right. He even made jokes about it to Dr. Bates…

The experiment starts getting better results--Dr. Bates throws up more projectors for the poor people in room B, and Annabelle starts reporting she’s getting dreams of spiders! Well no one told her arachnophobia, so it’s working!! See?! Science!! Dr Bates is getting very excited and doodling plans for a scarecrow costume...

But then, problems. At first, the multiple projectors did a better job of increasing fear threshold, but then a change--not fear, but...something else. So Dr. Bates is still apparently proving ESP but not fear ESP and she’s not really happy about it since it muddies the research.

Darren does see Annabelle once during all this. Exiting room A, he notes she’s walking...odd. Like her knees are at funny angles or something while her hands scuttle along the walls (Cue Torgo walking music). But hey, we got perfectly rational fear science to do!

But last Thursday is when it all went wrong (since it was going so right until then). Darren noted the lights in the psychology/arachnamancy lab were still on. They were going to do one lab with all 19 (remaining) arachnophobes that day, but Darren figured it was probably just them leaving the lights on--it is almost 10 pm. So Darren opens the door--

All 19 arachnophobes were in a complex circle-in-a-circle, hands interlocked like...well yeah, a web. They walked slowly around in a focused pattern while an intern, Mark, just stands in the corner hypnotized. And on the other side of the glass, Annabelle Cane was standing, staring through the glass at the people she couldn’t see, her body hunched over and twitching. For a second, Darren was sure she had too many eyes.

Then, the web-dance stops, and they all look at Darren. Shit. They all stopped their dance, and instead of attacking Darren, they all went to the glass--and began jerkily slamming their heads into the mirror, shattering it and letting Annabelle out. Darren, trapped in terror and disgust, watches as Annabelle moves through the window, crawling on the floor. She looms above Darren, over a foot taller than she was, and Darren starts feeling the sensation of thousands of spiders crawling in his brain (GHA!! GHAAAAA!). Then his hands scuttering up his body to strangle himself. As Darren nears death by choking himself, he sees intern Marc somehow break the spell and slam into Annabelle! Surprised, Annabelle’s head hits the ground with a sick impact noise on the floor. Darren wakes up and starts getting air again, Marc calls the cops, and Annabelle, head caved in, begins moving. Darren looks down and sees no blood, but cobwebs coming from the wound.

Darren screams, runs out, and drives for a few hours before pulling over for a well-deserved cry. By the time he got home, the University called him (before the cops), for a friendly reminder that if he liked his job he was not in that lab that night. Not like he could tell the cops “oh, spider-people” (well he could, but Section 31 don’t advertise). So, he lied to the cops.

Officially, Annabelle had suffered a psychotic break, broke through the glass, and beaten post-grad Mark nearly to death and fleeing. The arachnaphobe 19 don’t remember anything. Mark and Dr. Bates never returned to the University, and Darren’s not digging into it. Annabelle Cane is probably still out there according to our wise janitor, who is avoiding spiders as best he can. He already survived one horror movie..

POST STATEMENT
The story of “the student who went crazy during a lab experiment” is still a popular one on campus, and there were news reports (without reporting anything about spiders or Gotham City-esque experiments). Mark Voight and Dr. Bates both left immediately after under “a cloud”--I believe that’s English for “got shit-canned and damn the tenure because you mutated a student using fear waves”. Dr. Bates refused an interview, Mr. Voight’s testimony was a jumbled mass of nonsense, just crying at Martin and rambling about legs and scuttling.

Tim was able to pull up police reports about Annabelle, who blame this on a psychotic break that her parents deny and is so crazy frothing mad it sounds like a bad movie. She is still at large. Every other participant involved with the study has also disappeared since then.

SUPPLEMENTAL
Simms sound weak. He’s scared of the tunnels, and he doesn’t want to go back in there. But everything else is a dead end, and every plan he can think of ends up at “go down into tunnels with thing that doesn’t want to be found”. He doesn’t feel like he can talk to the others since they’ll just try to stop him, and he also knows...he has to know.

CHARACTERS
Annabelle Cane: Former grad student turned horrible spider-woman.

Dr. Elizabeth Bates: Doctor doing perfectly normal ESP fear experiments. Apparently fired and ignored from hereon out, but I trust nothing at this point.

PERSONAL NOTES
This is a damn insightful janitor. Darren is clever, aware, and seems a lot smarter than some of the other characters. The only thing he could have done different is remember the lights are motion-detected in the lab or transferred. He also seems to be kind of hinting at some truths, even if he doesn’t know them as truths.

We also get more cover ups, and I’m picturing some Lovecraftian Animal house where a whole lab is under double secret eldritch probation.

I will need to check my notes, but I feel like this might be the first time we see someone really changed by contact with the magnus mythos. We’ve seen it take you apart and scare you and kill you, but I can’t remember any mutations. So from a meta-perspective, that’s really what this one is for; to let you know that you don’t always get murdered by evil, but changed by it, and probably not by choice..
 

Dionysos

Registered User
Validated User
I’m well ahead of this thread now, but I’m still reading and I very much appreciate it. The reviews and commentaries make for a great supplement.
 
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