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[We should all Listen to] The Magnus Archives

Sabermane

Proud Fianna knight of hope and peace
Validated User
EPISODE 83: DRAWING A BLANK
Case: 0131910
Statement of: Chole Ashburt, regarding a new window display at Fanton’s store in Hammersmith
Date of recording: October 19, 2013
Date of Event: September and October of 2013
Recording by: Jonathan Simms

Simms is talking to Georgie, who is rightly wondering why Simms is still...recording statements? For a job that he doesn’t have anymore? From tapes that he’s getting in the mail for some reason? Doesn’t that strike you as weird, Simms? Georgie isn’t sure what’s going on, but she’s guessing he got dragged into something weird, got too mixed up in it, and lost everything. Now, she says, he needs distance, but Simms...needs to record it. Georgie knows this isn’t right, but can’t break through.

Chole works in a large department store, and it can be a bit weird sometimes. She does like when the company moves the staff about in new departments--she gets bored if things stay the same. Fanton’s was a good part time job for her, especially working with the displays--she enjoyed the design elements of it, so she always enjoyed designing the mannequins and backgrounds.

Oh shoot, mannequins.

It was the autumn displays when this all started--when the designers get a big creative. This year, the new display was “Night at the Circus”

Uh oh.

Acrobat mannequins in hoops, a paper mache lion, and a ringmistress with a red top hat and a whip. Chole, being a perfectionist, spent a bit too long making it perfect, but it was worth the effort--the smooth plastic flesh looked like it might leap to life at any moment.

Chole enjoyed working at Fantons because it gave her the chance to practice her figure drawing. Her boss, Lana, would let her close up and stay after a bit to practice drawing all the mannequins. Chole always was thankful for Lana letting her do this--she didn’t need to and took some flack from her managers.

So Chole draws the circus mannequin over and over. So she knew when the manniquen had been...changed one day. The limbs were a little bit longer now, the face was now completely blank. Someone had replaced the mannequin and she was the only one who noticed. It didn’t make any sense, nothing had been stolen, so…she ignored it as best she could. Still though, something was wrong with it. It was...cruel. If felt like it was watching Chole. Of course, nothing really happened for the next few days.

But then when she came into work, Lana called Chole into her office, asking her to shut the door. With stern eyes, Lana asked if she had stayed late, if she had tried out any other “artistic pursuits”, if she had seen anyone else, or messed with the displays.

Lana showed Chole the pictures of a previous display. In the picture, a raincoat mannequin had been rebuilt into a weird torso-monster, with weird limbs, colorful shirts, and a broad smile painted on it’s face--a weird clown/mannequin monster. Great.

Chole convinced Lana that she was not the responsible party, but Lana was sure someone in the company was related--whoever had done it had avoided all the cameras. So good news, Chole gets to keep her job, bad news she isn’t going to be allowed to draw after hours anymore.

So without this, Chole grinds through the job. Closing shift had become a rotation, and Chole notes that people get nervous the next day after having to close. The mannequin still sat there.

Due to staffing issues, Lana and Chole had to close up. Chole, who has been working her tail off to stay in her bosses’ good graces, even convinces Lana to let her draw a bit while she’s locking up. The day was quiet, but there was a feeling of anticipation in the air. Chole thought it was her, but…

It was the two ladies, and Lana was walking around doing final checkup. Chloe went to grab her supplies, and found the mannequin was gone. A headless acrobat mannequin and paper mache was all that was left. Chloe could hear nothing for a few moments, until…

Lana was calling to her, but in a strange, pushed way. Like something was making her speak. Chole, being a smart girl, dials 999 as she heads to the cupboard where she hear’s Lana’s voice. With shaking hands, she opens the door and finds the lights won’t click on. Frozen in the doorway, she sees a tall, thin figure. Maybe it’s Lana--no, Lana doesn’t move with spider-jerk clattering, charging at Chole. The faceless figure loomed over her, put a plastic finger to her lips, and said “shhhhhhh….” with it’s mouthless face.

The next thing she remembers is the police questioning her. Lucky for her, the cctv shows there’s no way she could have been involved with Lana’s murder, and the only blood was a thin line on her face. The police are deciding to run with the “murderer hiding in the store” more than Chole’s “death mannequin” theory, but Chole knows better. Sometimes in her dreams she can still feel that cold plastic hand on her lips…

POST STATEMENT
Simms hates doing freelance investigation work. Without the resources of the institute he doesn’t have much to go on. After four sleepless days, he can prove only that Lana Billings was strangled and partially skinned in the department store, but that’s about it.

Well, almost. There was a service entrance in one of the papers pics, and Simms did notice an off-white delivery van sitting on the sides. Chole did have an unfair dismissal case on her record due to her dwarfism, but other than that there’s nothing Simms can find out.

He’s sure all this is tied to the Stranger, what with the mannequins and the clowns, and Breekon and Hope might be connected. After all they did deliver something to that taxedermist shop.

Of course, the real question is--who delivered this? No postmark so they dropped this package off. Why did they drop it off? Is this a threat? Simms can’t say for sure, but he knows hiding won’t help. He’s going to keep investigating. He’s got work to do.
 
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