Chill

Resolved, or so it seems

Tuesday…

Gordon and Jackson pulled out of the neighborhood and onto the street that would lead them to the highway, putting another job behind them – at least most of it.

The poltergeist had gone quiet for a few days after the events of Friday and Saturday, and the Sartmanns had started the things they’d been told they needed to do in order to keep Old Bob satisfied, and keep their family together. Larry was eager to step up as the leader of his family, rather than just its part-time commander. Sarah agreed to go into counseling for her pill usage, although she was adamant that it was not an addiction and wasn’t even something indulged in that often – but she did admit that it was a sometime crutch that needed to go. Kathy turned over access to her Facebook accounts (all three of them) and several other secret web identities, along with her phone and the dark recesses of her computer’s hard drive. It seems that she had been on her way to becoming a druggy and had flirted with porn, even having contact with some creep online who had her sending pictures now and again. Basically, she’d started out as they all start out: curious, looking for any cheap thrills she could get, and craving the attention that she felt she wasn’t really getting at home. And like in so many other situations it started slowly, then more, and more, until just now, when it was almost certain to spin out of control. Danny was young, but had been generally left alone by Old Bob, and so maybe he’d heal naturally over time.

The family, on Saturday, got in contact with the pastor of the church they’d attended now and again, made an appointment with him, and attended services on Sunday. In this area they were all shaky and self-conscious, but felt compelled to do this and do it the right way.

“Let’s go see the national park where the battle took place,” suggested Jackson. “We’re here – might as well.” Gordon smiled, tired, but accepting the idea as a good one. They needed some downtime, and the email from Mal that just appeared could wait.

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The Sartmanns, their house, and their problems
helpful discoveries among disturbing incidents

Writing this as narrative would take a long time, and would make for a very long post, so this is in note format.

Things learned by interview of the family

  • The disturbances started small about 3 weeks ago, with things going missing and such. The family blamed one another and were on edge for about a week before things started to escalate.
  • About 10 days ago things got worse, and quickly. The ‘stacking’ incident took place in the living room; the phone message (which is not, nor was was it ever, on the house voicemail) occurred; and the noises as night started, all within a 24-hour period.
  • They’ve lived here for 4 years; nothing stands out about the previous owners or property.
  • The son clings to mom while the bratty daughter relies on dad to make excuses for her.
  • The disturbances have followed the family to places where they’ve tried to flee or find shelter or calm

Clues from searching the house

  • The garage is a freezing cold black void of space that will suck things in
  • Several rooms have animated things in them, or flying stuff; the attic has a hurricane in it if you stay there for a minute or so; the hall closet is stuck shut; the daughter’s room is completely normal aside from the closet, which is stuck shut.
  • Everything looks normal from outside.

Other things learned

  • Kathy, the daughter, finally admitted to playing with a ouija board with a friend and having a spirit named “Bob” contact her – she thought nothing of it, aside from it being creepy.
  • Salt seemed to keep the moving objects away, but aside from forming a barrier against small stuff doesn’t seem to have much utility. The living room has always had low-level activity only – at least when people are present.
  • Poltergeists, which is what it sounds like this thing is, tend to attach themselves to people or places. The ones that attach themselves to people do so for some reason – something they want to accomplish – and are the more dangerous of the two types, because they can follow a person and tend to…obsess.
  • Ouija boards are no joke. When used correctly (enough) they will open a door, however small, that can allow things to come through. Never worth the risk.
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The Pawnshop in Dallas
...a chance encounter

The bell rang when the duo walked into the small pawn shop in East Dallas, Texas. Passing all the everyday items to the back corner counter, Jackson and Gordon leaned over the glass cases displaying the handguns. A wall of long guns ran for roughly 20 feet behind a older man perched on a black bar stool.

“Gents” was all the man said without looking up from his magazine. His long grey mustache curled slightly at the ends. His slight potbelly blocked the view of the Glock at his right hip from this angle.

“May I see the Mossberg 12 gauge, sir?” Jackson asked politely.

The man handed the tactical shotgun over the counter.

“Thanks Dan.” Jackson said without looking away from the firearm.

The man eyed him quizzically and grunted, deciding the customer had just guessed well. Dan looked over at Gordon and asked if he’d like to see the Colt Python .357 magnum in the box.

“It’s a good old pistol from back in the day before all the cops switched to semi-autos.” Dan smiled as he pulled the revolver from the case and handed it to Gordon. “I pegged you when you got out of the Charger. Spent 22 years on the force myself. But I’m not sure about this one,” hooking a thumb at Jackson, “military?”

“I’ll take this one.” Jackson said to the owner. “She’s perfect. Not too new and not too old. Don’t want to damage a new one and don’t want problems either. Needs to work in a tight spot. Rocksalt when ya need it.” Dan raised an eyebrow at the comment, but said nothing.

“Uncle Dan, I see the silver blades at the end of the cabinet. Might you have any silver bullets? What other sorts of ‘specific’ gear have you got just out of sight?” Jackson asked with a disarming smile.

“I think we came to the right place, Gordon. You should get that one, its perfect for you.”

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Vicksburg, MS
New York is going to have to wait

Gordon showed Jackson the email from Mal, which contained a forwarded message from a contact of his.

Between Mal’s comments and the other messages in the thread, it was clear that the Sartmann family of Vicksburg, MS, was experiencing some unpleasant phenomena. Given that this came from Mal, it was obvious that the initial claims had been properly vetted and this was likely to be legitimate.

In a nutshell, Erika Sartmann had contacted a former teacher of hers, Dr. Roger Spalding, a psych professor at the University of Mississippi. Spalding, while not a SAVE member, was familiar with a few folks in the organization and in fact had turned down membership on a few occasions. He’d had some odd experiences over time and was a reliable source of information within his academic field. In this case, a former, trusted student turned to him because she was afraid that she and her family were experiencing some kind of group hallucinations or dementia. He passed this along to a contact of Mal’s, who got with Mal.

For over a week the family, living in an upscale suburb, had experienced increasingly disturbing events: at first it was misplaced small items. Then things moved around the house, unseen. They quickly got on one another’s nerves, each suspecting pranks. A few days ago Erika walked through the family room and into the kitchen to get something before heading out of the house, and when she went back through the family room saw that all the furniture had been soundlessly stacked and piled, along with everything else in the room.

What’s gone on since has been even more disturbing, with the family – mom, dad, a teenage girl and a 6 year-old boy – seeing things move on their own. They tried to stay at a friend’s house, but the problems followed them. They went to a hotel, but could neither sit on the bed (it would shake violently) nor turn on the television – only static and growling sounds there.

The family is at wit’s end. Things are getting worse. You’re only a day away. More information can follow if you’re up to taking the job.

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You're not going to believe this...

Gordon had been reading emails, and appeared to be listening intently to something before he leaned back and took on a puzzled expression then taking his earbuds out. Jackson watched him from the Motel bed, holding the remote control in his hand, he was flipping through channel after channel looking for something to watch, but not finding anything. “I haven’t seen that look for a while. What’s up?” Jackson asked. Gordon took a deep breath before walking over to the restroom sink and splashing cold water on his face, he comes walking back in wiping the water off with a hand towel before throwing it back by the sink. “Mute the TV, you need to listen to this!” Gordon says, as he pulls the power plug from his laptop and walks over to where Jackson is sitting upright on the bed. Handing him the laptop, Jackson puts the earbuds in, and presses play

After about 5 minutes, he pulls the earbuds out and looks at Gordon “What the hell was that? You getting into some Mathcore or Goth or something?” Gordon chuckled as he took the laptop back, returning it to the table where he was working. “So, it came as an attachment to an email wherein describes the backstory. According the the writer (which appears to be the Husband), he and his Wife live in New York, and his Wife was a Student at Columbia University. Both audiophiles, sound techs, whatever, they liked to record stuff.” Jackson harrumphs showing that he thinks it doctored. “Yeah, I thought it was made up as well. But, Jack, the Husband, goes on to describe that his Wife was doing Student work at WKCR-89.9 the Student Radio station at Columbia and you can hear her at the end. Well, their Daughter liked to sleep to the soothing sounds of her Mother… wait for it, Jill is her name. Yeah, I know.” Gordon takes a sip of his beer before continuing. “So Jack and Jill’s Daughter Meghan, likes to enjoy hearing the music and the sound of her Mother’s voice while she sleeps, and randomly, the baby monitor is setup to record on certain algorithms. I have no clue, Jack went into a little detail, but suffice it to say, they did not edit this, it was simply a recording through the baby monitor. Now, what is weird, according to Jill, is that she never played any such thing as the sound of the voices that Evening, usually she just plays light music, jazz, classical and so on. Safe music that Meghan could sleep to.” Taking a deep breath, Gordon stands up finishing his beer and heads over to toss it in the can and get another. Jackson, sitting digesting what he just heard pipes up asking “Are these two friends of yours?” Gordon pops the top and takes a long draft before looking at Jackson “Nope, got it through my channels. Jake sent it to me, says he got it from a friend of his. Thought I would be interested in it.”

“In the email, it included a rough deciphering of what was being said:
1. August 22 1985 Arimichaelis?? Tulio sister of millie, margaret.. domanic…. and joe, wife of william, mother of mary, lisa? and billy.
2. July 4 1987 peter dunwell son of robert
3. November 1988 john byrne?? son of john brother of catherine
4. December 21 1988 Barry Valentino son of Barry snr. brother Scott
5. February 1985 Frank Oppenheimer brother of Robert
6. May 1987 Henrietta Graham
7. March 17 1988 Edward McNellis?? brother of william , june… peggy
8. April 1988 Rupert ??
9. October 1988 Morgan Tunic?? father of Barbara, husband of Elsie “Barbara’s Dad”.
BELL – rinse and repeat.
Freaking weird!"

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"I'm going to eat your soul, okay?"
Bringing a bad thing to a better ending

Anna, as it was known in this body, wanted some more skin. Not skin like to eat or claw at, although those held an attraction – no, it wanted some skin to touch. Being inside the body enabled it to interact tangibly with the world, and the sensations that allowed were pleasing. And so it went to the club again – the one that played the Blake Shelton music repeatedly – and made its body available to the men that were interested in touching, too.

Five bottles of wine, two plates of nachos, and a Big Mac later, along with a young man shocked at how much Anna could eat and drink, it had ‘Rick’ home and right where she it wanted him: on the bed, half-unconscious. No, it didn’t need him to be unconscious for a nibble on his life; rather, it just made the whole affair easier for the drunken man to deny in his foggy, hungover memory. And so it drank of him, but not too much – not enough to kill. Just enough to leave a mark, and over enough time to increase the glow of his life as he was transfixed with terror. It really liked that part.


A few nights later at the hospital it walked the halls, having taken on the shift of a sick coworker – yeah, sure he was sick! He was home half-dead, drained by her. He’d never say anything or do anything but call in sick, as she came to his ‘rescue’ and at her suggestion would take his shift. He’d also never say anything because his wife would not like the things they’d been doing at seedy hotels and her house for the last few weeks.
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Sometimes it got hungry faster than other times, probably because of its appetite, which was powerful. Tonight would be a good night to finish off one of those men it’d been dreaming with. It checked in on some patients – always good to be on top of the job expected of the body so as to be above reproach – and made sure that all was well.

Thomas Duncan was just right for tonight. His dreaming had been short, but very hard on him, and the fight he put up during the dreaming was so…cute. He had such spark, and would be a perfect taking for the month.

As the time drew it could feel its urge to feed growing, in anticipation of the power it would receive. It made small talk with Eric, the nurse at the monitoring station, and left some clouds in his mind – he’d not pay any attention to the screen even if he saw it. Same thing went for Lucas, the guy who took care of the computers on this floor during the day. It almost wanted to skip it was so excited!


“Boo!” it said quietly, with the cute smile it had practiced so much and enjoyed. This body got a lot of attention from men, all good, and had a disarming way about it. Duncan woke up a little more and as his vision cleared he smiled a little at Anna’s body.

“Rarr!” it said, making fake claws and baring its teeth while smiling, and intentionally letting a little of its true visage come to the surface…better to give him a little taste of the fear now, a little uncertainty to tug at his mind before she came back. “Don’t worry sleepy-boo…I’ll show you all of me later,” it said, pointing its finger suggestively at him. And in a whisper it knew he’d wonder if he really heard, “…that’s when you’ll die…” With that she watched for a moment as his painkillers kicked in, pushing him closer to sleep, and then left the room.


No one suspected. No one knew. This was the perfect life! Its last body worked at a jail, and while that seemed like a good place at first, it was terrible. Too limiting. The body before that was a teacher, which was okay, too, for regular nibbling, but all the real takings had to be done elsewhere. That made things hard. The hospital was much better.

Into the room it went and behind the closed door she gently woke Thomas Duncan, TGsgt, USAF, medically retired. He was groggy and understandably confused, and it smiled, then held him, then showed him its true visage. He tensed in pure terror. Silence followed and it began the slow, luxurious taking, losing awareness of the room in the moment.

The door burst open, but with no sound. The two men poured into the room, with no sound. It turned, drunk in the moment but now aware of the intrusion, and the truth of the sight shocked them, but not enough to stop them from acting. One of them fired a handgun, striking the body twice in the torso. It lashed out with its mind, holding that man in place, but in that instant the other man fired his gun, striking it in the chest. The body was weak, lacking a soul. It could only keep the AH Puq rooted in this world so long as it was fed, and when feeding it was completely vulnerable. The spirit felt an instant of intense pressure, then nothing.

The body hit the floor, dead as it should have been 3 years ago when bacterial meningitis had actually taken poor Anna McPherson during her spring break. That the two hunters would take the body and hand it off to a contact in SAVE, and that the nurse would essentially disappear, destined to become an urban legend, would hurt the family as much as her death would have – or, rather, as much as their knowledge of her true death would have.


Gordon and Jackson thundered down the highway, the Charger’s glass pack muffler doing its job to announce the downshift into 3rd gear to pass a minivan that dared to go the speed limit.

“How was that?” Jackson asked. Gordon raised an eyebrow.

“Mahogany or teak?”

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A late dinner with Suzanne

While Gordon pecked away on his computer in Suzanne’s office – an extra bedroom nicely appointed with her service plaques and display cases, a sturdy desk, and her router – Jackson and Suzanne talked, catching up and processing what was happening at the hospital.

“So you’ve been out for a year or so, and you’ve been hunting ghosts and monsters?” she asked before taking another sip from her bottle of Samuel Adams Boston Lager, her second this evening.

Jackson nodded, feeling a little self-conscious about the question and his answer, regardless of the truth of things. It felt strange to be asked, point-blank, such a thing and even stranger to answer earnestly and to the affirmative.

FOB Murphy wasn’t the only instance of things like that in this world, and there are folks out there who accept that and work to do something about it,” he answered, wondering if he should mention SAVE or not. “Gordo and I have known each other since we were kids. Our parents went to high school together, actually. He’s seen things, and now we’re doing something about it all, or at least trying.”

“So this isn’t your first dance?” she asked, leaning back into the overstuffed couch, looking like she wanted to hear more. It was good to be able to talk openly about the last several months and some of the things he’d seen and done, places he’d been, and people he’d helped. Much like the hung-over conversation he had with Gordo in the car on the way out of Indiana, laying all the cards on the table, face up, helped a lot. He still stayed away from SAVE – the purges and deaths they’d been told about sounded awful, and operational security was something he understood and respected.

“So how do you get by – I mean, how do you afford to do this?” she asked

Seeing an opportunity to steer the conversation around a topic he didn’t feel like broaching he answered instead, “so…why do you start all your sentences with ‘so’?” smiling. “You’ve always done that,” he laughed.

Suzanne rolled her eyes and looked a little sheepish. “You wouldn’t understand – it’s a black thing,” she dead-panned…and then a long pause….and then the two old friends laughed about the absurdity of it all.

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Findings
all meta here

Instead of writing a narrative, which I might do later, I thought that a list of what was done, accomplished, and learned would be most helpful in trying to figure out what to do next.

Deaths

  • It seems that you ruled out the first death, leaving 6: all services, 5 men, one woman, all between 24 and 32 years of age, all in-patients, all marked as having died from some undiagnosed injury-related problem.
  • Each of the six were visited by Anna McPherson, RN, who seemed to morph into a blurry black cloud, hover over the paralyzed but very much awake victim, and draw something out of them by nose and mouth. This took about a minute.
  • The video of each death is scratchy and full of static, but once all six are watched the ‘image’ of what happened is very clear.
  • Why does this incriminating video exist, and yet nothing’s been done?

McPherson’s House

  • Virtually empty
  • 47 bottles of unopened wine; 15 empties in the recycle bin. Only food was mac & cheese mix and dozens of bags of super-cheap ramen
  • Strange residue in sink and tub in master bath; slight evidence of sex on the sheets.

Other

  • You’ve got IT badges from the VA, which got you in one day. Perhaps they’d work again.
  • If it’s a monthly thing, you’ve got safely no more than 2 weeks. Wait…now about 12 days
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Suzanne's Message
An old Army buddy in need

“Saturday, August 22nd, at 7:52am…” the prissy voicemail voice said.

“Jackson, this is Suzanne Baker,” the female voice said, sounding a little nervous.

“I got your number from Eric and, well anyway I got your number,” she sounded flustered at this point, and continued, “…and I called…well, shit, of course I did,” she stopped and the sound of someone taking a deep breath or two replaced her voice.

“I know you remember what happened overseas so I knew I could talk with you….and I need to talk. I work at the VA hospital in Oklahoma City – been here for about a year – and something’s going wrong here…something that reminds me of FOB Murphy. Call me…thanks.”

The message ended.

Forward Operating Base Murphy was a small U.S. Army installation in a remote part of Afghanistan where Jackson’s unit was assigned when he first experienced an otherwordly….evil…the event that motivated him, in part, to get out of the service at the end of his contract. Suzanne Baker was a senior medic brought in to deal with the casualties that resulted, and she and Jackson experienced much of the same horrors.

From what Jackson heard, she got out, too, and he hadn’t heard her in a few years, until now.

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Another call from Mal
While you're on the road, could you check this out?

Gordon and Jackson roared down the interstate in their Charger, southward toward home, when Gordo’s phone rang through the Bluetooth system in the car. Malcolm, their primary contact and researcher from the Chicago office, cut to the quick, as he always did.
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“Yeah, I’ve been following some dolls on eBay- don’t laugh; lots of folks say they have haunted dolls and they sell them there, and wackos buy’m,” he began.

“Seriously, who’d do that? Yeah, anyway, I’ve got my eye on a few that have come up a few times – same doll for sale, gets bought, then a few months later, maybe a year, it comes up again, gets bought, lather, rinse, repeat. Low price, but always reasonable. I’ll send you the link for the one I picked out for you two. It was just bought by someone near Evansville – just keep heading down the 69 ‘til you hit the 164 and you’ll get there,” he continued. A beat later Jackson’s iPhone 6 vibrated, signally the arrival of a new email, containing a link and the address of a home.

“Yeah, so here’s the sticky: far as I can tell this doll’s had a few owners over the last few years and each has met with some kind of accident – someone connected to the owner has died or been injured, or some other loss was experienced. Then the doll gets sold, right? Find out what’s up, and maybe if you can contain the thing – whatever it is – I’d love to get a look at it. If not, just make sure it doesn’t get sold again.”

“And I’m going to be out of the loop for a bit these next few days, too – maybe a week. Got a huge project at work – full server rebuild – so if I can answer emails or anything at all, there’s going to be a lag, right? Sorry ’bout that but I gotta pay the bills, " he finished before asking a few questions about their most recent case and then hanging up.

The email included this link.

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