[SFX: beep. Studio]
JUDITH: Hey, Owen, if you’re listening, it’s Sunday, and I’m here listening to recordings by myself. It’s boring sitting around my apartment, so… I’m at work. Obsessing. If these are haunted and they somehow turn into magnetic tape, unspool, and kill me, please avenge my death. [nervous laugh] Ok… these are from… early November. Back when I was living with Claire for a bit. Um… I think I’m beginning to understand what you were talking about when you were commenting about my file names, these are… a mess. God, ok, I promise you, I’m going to organize them later. Seriously, I thought we fixed these.
[SFX: beep. Claire’s living room]
JUDITH: Good morning, Judith here, from Yes! It’s My Breakdown! I’m coming to you this morning with a dire report. [Claire: mimics breaking news announcement noise.] The space previously known as my apartment has now become a sopping wet testament to the hubris of man.
CLAIRE: To be more concise, her living room, kitchen, and bedroom flooded.
JUDITH: My life has overflowed into a horrible soggy mess and I am a sponge brimming with sadness.
CLAIRE: I would describe you as… damp. Moist. A moist lady.
JUDITH: Please do not call me moist.
CLAIRE: What do you mean? Lots of things can be moist. Like all your clothes. They are literally moist.
JUDITH: Now I’m depressed AND grossed out.
CLAIRE: Care to explain what happened?
JUDITH: Like with most disasters, it was caused by an idiot who thought he could shirk the rules.
CLAIRE: This does have a historical precedent. Consider: the Exxon Valdez.
JUDITH: Let me paint you a picture with my words: it’s the early hours on a cool Tuesday morning. I’m doing what I do best at 4 AM, which is sleep, and suddenly it’s BWEE BWEE BWEE, I awake to the sound of my building’s fire alarm going off.
CLAIRE: Ok, I think we get it without the noises-
JUDITH: No, I need everyone to suffer with me. Turns out someone living directly above me had decided to use their ceiling sprinkler as a coat rack. Fun fact: if you break one of those sprinkler heads, they send 80 billion gallons of gross stagnant water spraying out with the power of a broken dam. So, thanks to my upstairs neighbour, may I see them in hell, my place is completely trashed. Claire was kind enough to take pity and provide temporary shelter-
CLAIRE: Of course. It’s actually the least I could do, seeing as I crashed at your place for so long.
JUDITH: So now I’m hanging out in Claire’s guest room.
CLAIRE: The host becomes the… hosted.
JUDITH: I think the word is guest.
CLAIRE: Nah. The tables have turned and now Judith is the one breaking her back on my couch. Well, actually, my old mattress, because I’m a fancy lady with a guest room and I just bought her best friend some new sheets.
JUDITH: 300 thread count or higher, please.
CLAIRE: There are definitely more than 300 threads in here.
JUDITH: … I… never mind.
CLAIRE: Hey, if you prefer, you can stay in the creepy basement rooms.
JUDITH: Nope. Not going down there unless I absolutely have to. And even then… probably not.
CLAIRE: What if I need your help putting some of these boxes of junk down there?
JUDITH: Throw them down the stairs.
JUDITH: Yeah, just… chuck ‘em.
CLAIRE: Please don’t throw stuff down the stairs.
JUDITH: No promises.
[SFX: beep. Living room]
CLAIRE: Can you pass me that page?
JUDITH: You’ve been… taking some notes, I see.
CLAIRE: Yeah, I’ve been going through the notebooks.
JUDITH: Oh, yeah, got any here I could look at?
CLAIRE: [bit evasive] Uh, yeah, I’ll grab one in a bit. They’re pretty… weird. Some of them get a little personal. I’ll… get one later. Sometimes reading them gives me a headache, probably because the writing is so fine and small that I feel like I’m squinting at it half the time. For now… I’ve been thinking since that night with the spirit board. This house, it’s… weird. It’s special, the more I think about it, the more I realize that there is something here, but I don’t think it’s malevolent? I think there’s more to it than that. I think there is something that really does need our help, like it needs to be freed. I’ve been looking into it to see what I can find.
JUDITH: I mean, that night was odd, but… letting something out? I know the board… “said” some things… but is that the best course of action? Has anything good ever come from a spirit being released?
CLAIRE: Sure, uh… Patrick Swayze in Ghost, or the couple from Beetlejuice.
JUDITH: Uh, yeah.
CLAIRE: Oh, the guy in The Sixth Man.
JUDITH: If we’re going down this path then we could also go with the best friend in Teen Angel.
CLAIRE: Yeah! If I died from eating an expired hamburger, I think it would be fun to come back and haunt you.
JUDITH: Let’s… not test that.
[SFX: beep. Studio]
JUDITH: Ok, notes time: I went through the notebooks we took from the house. Most of them appear to be pretty… benign. But there’s entries in here that are making me feel like… well, like a weight is pressing into my stomach. I can’t tell if it’s stress or… not. Whoever was writing in them, and I’m assuming it’s either Minnie or Hugh, writes about how they’re so close to achieving their “final goal.” Here’s a quote: Blood is the key. Not just the blood spilled, but the blood linking between all of us. The spirit can only move between those linked, through birth, through marriage, through belief, through the fire that burns within us. We have removed all that is extra, all that is spare. Listen, for on the horizon I can hear the screaming heat of the sun of Moloch rising, and the death that comes in its wake.
That’s messed up.
But… they had a plan. And I think it involved their daughter. Quote: She is almost due. I see the doubt start to flicker in her eyes. She is worried, all new mothers are. But the child is the answer. If the door does not open, then she shall be the future gateway that this new world be born from. Her blood, is my blood, is our blood. And we are all one in the flames.
I don’t totally know what that means. Maybe… I’m worried this may involve Dana and I don’t really like what that implies? This… puts things in a new light. A new terrifying light. Ok. Next recording.
[SFX: beep. Bathroom. Judith is cleaning the shower with like, a scrubbie]
JUDITH: Alright, day three of staying in the haunted house. The shower is… functional, but kind of shitty. Claire says she cleaned the head, but I’m going to do a vinegar soak on it to get rid of any build-up. There’s some orange mould in the grout, which is Serratia marcescens. I believe that’s Latin for “real hard to get rid of”. We’re going to scrub everything down with a diluted bleach solution, and hopefully that will work. I’m still not optimistic about water pressure with the showerhead, though. Might have to just replace it.
[SFX: Water sputtering and then turning on. Shower noises.]
JUDITH: Yep. Not great. Oh for christ’s sake, this house and its bugs. Stop crawling out of the drains you disgusting multi-limbed vermin. Oh christ, how are there MORE of these?
[SFX: Bugs! Judith scrambles, aggressive spray bottle sounds]
JUDITH: [Triumphant] Yeah, chug on bleach, you jerks!
[SFX: showerhead running]
JUDITH: Yuck. I’m just going to push all the dead bugs down the drain and pretend like that never happened. Again. Anyway, I’m going to scrub down the shower doors and clean the grout because I might as well do something to pay Claire back. So instead, I’m going to kill bugs in Claire’s shower. It looks like she wrote something else in the steam on the mirror, but that’s [SFX: quick steam sound] ahh! what the-… for crying out lou-… Sanguinem eius?
CLAIRE: [downstairs] Hey, you want any coffee?
JUDITH: Claire, can you come up here?
[SFX: Footsteps, Claire enters the bathroom]
JUDITH: Uh, did you write this?
CLAIRE: Write what?
JUDITH: Look at the mirror.
CLAIRE: [confused] There’s nothing there.
JUDITH: What? Oh. Oh… I could’ve sworn…
CLAIRE: Well, there’s a drawing of a pair of boobs. I may have done that.
JUDITH: Right. [frustrated] Right. Can you touch the mirror for me? Does it feel hot to you?
CLAIRE: Uh… ok… nope, no, feels like a steamy mirror. Why? Also, why does it smell like wet dirt in here?
JUDITH: Bugs. There were more bugs. It’s ok! They’ve been drowned in bleach. It’s just, it felt really hot when I touched it a minute ago. But… now it doesn’t?
CLAIRE: Weird. Maybe you’re starting to crack from the stress. Welcome to the club! Maybe the ghost wrote it.
JUDITH: It was probably you. Or maybe that annoying real estate guy broke in and is trying to legit scare you off.
CLAIRE: I swear if I see him around I will strip the flesh from his bo-
JUDITH: Whoa, whoa, ok, that’s very murdery.
CLAIRE: Sorry, got a little heated there. I did get some security cameras. Nothing crazy, just some ones that connect to my phone. We could set those up around the house.
JUDITH: Fancy. Where’d you get them from?
CLAIRE: Ummm… Walmart?
CLAIRE: Best Buy?
CLAIRE: Adam got them for me.
JUDITH: There we go.
CLAIRE: I know, I know. He’s actually been a lot less… frustrating lately. I’m trying to be nice. He is too.
JUDITH: You do you. Hey, about the weird mirror writing, didn’t you say there were some things in other languages in the notebooks?
CLAIRE: Yeah, uh, I’ll check later, see if I can find anything.
JUDITH: I mean, I can take a look?
CLAIRE: [evasive] Uh, yeah, maybe. I’ll dig one up later.
JUDITH: Why are you being so cagey about me seeing them?
CLAIRE: No I’m not! I mean… maybe I am. I don’t know, it just feels… invasive. I… I just need to finish reading them first. It’s odd though. I start reading and I just… zone out. I get so engrossed.
CLAIRE: [lost in thought] Yeah.
[SFX: beep. Studio]
JUDITH: Ok, so, I looked up what it meant. As far as I can tell, sanguinem eius means “bleed her”. So, that’s terrifying. The next recording is from when Claire started sleepwalking while I was there. The first time, I heard her shuffling up and down the hallway mumbling to herself and I just sort of… led her back to bed? It was weird, she kept heading towards the middle of the hallway and just… standing there, swaying, and it was super weird. So after that I started running the recorder on my computer in case something happened. Here’s what I documented two nights later, along with a few other recordings from the following couple of days:
[SFX: Beep. Bedroom. Sounds in the hallway]
JUDITH: [half asleep] What the-[SFX: There is a thud.] Claire! Claire wake up! It’s me. It’s Judith. You were dreaming.
CLAIRE: [Mumbled] Open the door. Open the door.
JUDITH: What are you talking about? Jesus, you’re warm. And sweaty, yeesh. Claire, wake up.
CLAIRE: [quiet, mean] You stupid girl.
CLAIRE: Stupid girl. Stupid girl. You stupid girl.
JUDITH: Hang on.
CLAIRE: [getting meaner] You stupid girl, you stupid girl, you stupid girl…
JUDITH: [backing up] Claire, wake up.
CLAIRE: Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid girl.
CLAIRE: Stupid girl… stupid girl… [walking down hallway, door closes]
JUDITH: [breathing heavily] What the hell?
[SFX: beep. Living room]
JUDITH: Good morning.
CLAIRE: Or something.
JUDITH: I played Claire the recording from last night.
CLAIRE: That was… really unsettling.
JUDITH: I know, I was there.
CLAIRE: I honestly remember none of that.
JUDITH: Yeah, I would describe it as alarming.
CLAIRE: Here’s my theory: maybe I just had that old Garbage song stuck in my head?
JUDITH: At this point that’s what I’m hoping for. Honestly, you’ve seemed off lately.
JUDITH: You’re sleepwalking and sleeptalking. Sometimes it feels like you’re in your own little world lately.
CLAIRE: I’m fine, I just… I think ever since I started actually taking charge here and getting into the family’s history, I’ve been feeling this… longing. It just opened up all these questions and now I can’t stop thinking about them.
JUDITH: Ok. I’m still going to keep an eye on you. I only have one request: stop being creepy at night. It’s upsetting.
CLAIRE: I’ll try. No promises, though.
[SFX: beep. Bedroom]
CLAIRE: Jude, hey. I’m recording this because you’re asleep and if I don’t I will probably forget about half of the pertinent details. Also, I don’t want to wake you up, but I want to talk about this now. I’ve been going through notebooks, trying to see what I can dig up about my mom and her parents and really anything else. Uh, I think I found some old articles that mention my grandparents putting on little art shows, but not much else. I did find a little bit though, about my birth mom. There was a short obit for her in an issue from 1996. She was born March 3, 1970 in Toronto, she had no siblings, uhh, she liked to bake and she was apparently really good at both needlepoint and softball, so that’s cool. She went missing in November, 1989, which, like, bad timing for me, I guess. I’m sorry, that sounds mean, I’m sure she was scared, or lost, or… I mean, there’s no mention at all of a partner or anything. There’s no father listed on the birth registration or declaration, so he could be anyone. Maybe she ran off to be with him? Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, and I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, if I come to it. I tried to find more info on her, but that was about it. She lived, she had me, she went missing, and then I guess she died. “Instead of flowers, we ask that donations be sent to the Kenna Centre.” I don’t know what that is, I just found an old address, apparently it was in Woodbridge, up by Weston. Doesn’t exist anymore, now it’s a Korean restaurant in a strip mall. [sigh] This just feels like a lot of dead ends. I think I’m going to go to bed, I just wanted to get this down. But hey, I’ll probably bug you tomorrow about this when you get back from brunch with your parents! And Judith, if you listen to this in the next couple of days, I’m sorry that I’ve been cranky lately and weirding you out with the sleeptalking. I’m trying to put up a strong front but… I’m a mess and it’s just hard to talk about. I don’t even know where to start, sometimes. It just feels like my head is too full lately, if that makes sense? [sighs] I should probably tell you this in person, but… I don’t know. I should just go to sleep. Hopefully I’ll actually stay in bed this time.
[SFX: beep. Bedroom]
JUDITH: [whispering] Claire is sleepwalking. It’s… 3:42 AM. I can hear her walking around. Honestly, it freaks me out. I know that makes me a big baby, but I… don’t really want to go down there. But I should. I’m worried she might fall down the stairs. Should we get a baby gate? Ok, you’re ok [deep breath]…
[SFX: The door opens. Claire is right there. Judith inhales sharply]
JUDITH: [shaken] Oh jeez, Claire, what the HELL?
JUDITH: Jesus Christ. Claire, wake up, good lord you scared the hell out of me. Claire, hey! [clapping] Well this is fun.
CLAIRE: [mumbling] et aperta porta
calor et lux sunt in
candorem solis a terra
JUDITH: [deeply unsettled] Wake up. Wake up. WAKE UP! Uh, [SFX: footsteps, Claire is walking towards Judith] hey, whoa whoa whoa, ok, let’s stop walking towards me and… ok, I’m sorry about this in advance…
[SFX: Judith throws a glass of water at Claire right in her spooky face]
CLAIRE: [Splutters] What th- Judith? What is going on? Why am I WET?
JUDITH: God, glad you’re back with us. Uh, sorry about the water.
CLAIRE: [confused] Yeah, uh… was I sleepwalking again?
JUDITH: Yeah, and it was really, really weird. You were mumbling and… speaking in another language or something, I don’t know, it just kind of sounds like gibberish and like… chanting maybe isn’t the right word, but it’s certainly adjacent to it.
CLAIRE: [Softly] Oh god.
JUDITH: Were you dreaming?
CLAIRE: I don’t… maybe? I think I was. I had to find something, and I had to tell you something. But I needed to be alone, I was trying to be alone… I don’t know. I definitely have a headache, though..
JUDITH: Ok, maybe you should just go back to bed and we can discuss your weird occult mumblings in the morning.
[SFX: beep. Living room]
CLAIRE: Judith, hey, so you’ve gone over to your sister’s place to help her pick napkin rings for her wedding, which, that sounds really dull, but sure, why not. I’m bored and there’s nothing good for me to watch, so I’ve been looking through the notebooks again, and I found this passage in one of them, it’s actually not even a part of the book, it’s just a piece of paper jammed in there. It’s weird, but I think it’s about Dana. Here…
“She’s grown into a beautiful woman and will become a mother, not just of a child, but of a movement. We will finally be able to finish what we started. I can only hope that our faith is stronger than the threads of doubt that wind their way through her mind. She is ready, but she is still young and susceptible to being tainted by the filth outside these walls. It is almost time. Only a few more months.”
That’s just weird sounding. So they were definitely ok with the baby, but like… [static building in the recording] hang on, the Zoom is acting up, [slapping noises as she hits the recorder] come on, you piece of trash. [static keeps building] Crap, I hope it doesn’t like, explode or anything, uhhhh… [handling the recorder, then a loud electrical SNAP] ow! [recorder is dropped] Ow, ow… what th- [loud noise builds, static, recording ends]
[SFX: beep. Studio]
JUDITH: Crap. Crap crap crap crap crap crap. Ok, that was… I hadn’t heard it before. I hadn’t heard that recording before. This was from the same night as this recording. I got home and I thought Claire was asleep, but… I’m just going to play it for you.
[SFX: beep. Bedroom]
JUDITH: [quietly] So, Claire’s been acting weird. Not like, normal weird. Weird weird. It’s been almost two weeks here and things were ok at the start, but then… well, there’s the sleepwalking, and maybe that has some sort of rational explanation, but even when she’s awake… something’s off. I’ll come in and she’s sitting there, reading these notebooks. Just flipping back and forth, and you can’t disturb her while she’s doing that. It’s like she’s zoned out or in a trance, like flip flip flip, back and forth. She’s… kind of moody, but it’s like a lightswitch. She’ll be fine, everything’s ok, and then I’ll leave the room or go run and errand and I’ll come back and it’s like she’s ready to rage. And… I think part of the reason I’m staying here and not just in an airbnb or with my parents is because I’m worried about her and don’t want her to do anything harmful. Also my parents live in Scarborough and I don’t feel like commuting. [sigh] This has been getting worse since we found that stupid spirit board.
I found a notebook, sorry Claire. I’ve been flipping through it and yeah, there’s boring day to day stuff, notes, but there’s also some weird writing in here. Sometimes it looks kind of like poetry, but they’re not, probably because there’s way more Latin than one would expect. Would it be silly of me to say that they look like… spells? I don’t know, that sounds ridiculous. There’s writing in here that set off alarm bells in my head, like, [SFX: flipping pages] “We are getting closer. The child becomes the woman becomes the mother, becomes the mother of us all. Blood for blood: we must be the key, the lock, the listener, the seer.”
There’s a gestation chart in this one and that has to be for Dana, the year lines up. So clearly her parents knew she was pregnant and weren’t against it, because there’s all kinds of little notes about food and health charts and baby growth, but there’s also all these notes about… sun placement? “As rising, 58.62°”… that can’t be temperature, unless they’re secretly American and are measuring it in Fahrenheit, so is that angle? Of the sun? “She shall face towards the sun, be anointed with vetivert and willow, and this shall purify her and the child. She shall drink licorice tea and let the fire burn through her. She is The Mother.” And I don’t like any of this because it kind of implies that not only were they going to involve Dana in this but like, does that me that they were going to involve… Claire in this? That’s weird, that’s really weird. And I’m going to have to talk to her about this and she’s going to be really mad that I looked at the notebooks but like, I just needed to know…
[SFX: door creaking open]
JUDITH: Claire? What’s u-… hey whoa whoa whoa! [SFX: hurried footsteps towards the bed]
CLAIRE: Put that down. Give me the book. Give it to me! That is mine!
JUDITH: Holy cow, ok, whoa, calm down, it was on the shelf, I just wanted to see what was in her-
CLAIRE: No! You can’t read these. These are important. Give it to me. Now!
JUDITH: Ok, ok. Jeez, what’s gotten into you? What does it matter if I read this?
CLAIRE: [static] It’s not for you.
JUDITH: Ok, so…
CLAIRE: [static] It’s not for you.
JUDITH: Ok, I’m sorry. I overstepped.
CLAIRE: [static] You shouldn’t go where you’re not wanted. Don’t open what isn’t meant for you.
JUDITH: Are you ok? You’re really… red and sweaty.
CLAIRE: [static] I am fine. You’re the one playing with fire.
CLAIRE: Goodnight. [SFX: door closing]
[SFX: beep. Studio]
JUDITH: Quick note, that was the last night I stayed at Claire’s, and the rest of the recording explains why.
[SFX: beep. Hallway, going towards the kitchen. Glasses are being smashed over and over again in the distance]
JUDITH: [quietly] I didn’t think this night could get any weirder, but someone is breaking stuff in the kitchen.
[SFX: the smashing it getting louder. Claire is smashing jars on the floor of the kitchen near the door to the basement]
JUDITH: Holy sh-… Claire, wake up! Ow, god, there is broken glass everywhere. Ow ow ow, SHIT, CLAIRE, STOP.
CLAIRE: [static] Don’t touch me! DON’T TOUCH ME! I have to let them out!
JUDITH: Claire, wake up! You’re sleepwalking! And smashi- [Judith yelps as Claire chucks a jar at her, it breaks on the wall beside her] What the hell? Why would you throw that at me? Claire!
CLAIRE: [static] They are trapped! Trapped in the glass that binds! They must be freed. The walls must be shattered!
JUDITH: What the hell are you talking about?
CLAIRE: [static] They’re trapped. I have to let them out.
JUDITH: Ow ow, jeez, god, shit, ow, ok, STOP. CLAIRE.
CLAIRE: [angry, static] WHAT? [silence, then discomfort, static is now gone] What-… was I sleepwalking?
JUDITH: Yes! Careful, there is glass everywhere. You were going nuts, I think you broke every jar in here.
CLAIRE: Oh my god, oh my god, jam and pickles… god.
JUDITH: Do you remember any of that?
CLAIRE: No! No, I just remember going to bed.
JUDITH: You got to go to a sleep doctor or something.
CLAIRE: Yeah, yeah… I should get a broom.
JUDITH: You… go lie down, go sit down in the living room. I’ll try to… sweep this up.
CLAIRE: I feel weird.
JUDITH: Yeah, I’m not surprised.
CLAIRE: Judith, am I losing it? I think I might be losing it.
JUDITH: Hey, hey, it’s ok.
CLAIRE: [deep breaths] Yeah. Yeah, uh… [deep breath] ok. I can do this. I have to figure out my next steps.
JUDITH: Yeah, where’s the broom again? I’m going to sweep this up, whatever I can.
CLAIRE: [static] Do you think I can get them out?
JUDITH: [in the other room] Get what?
CLAIRE: [static] I have to let them out. That… that’s what I have to do.
JUDITH: Do you have a dustpan?
CLAIRE: That’s what I have to do. [walks away]
JUDITH: [coming back in] Hey … huh, ok.
[SFX: beep. Living room]
CLAIRE: You ok after last night?
JUDITH: Yeah, I am just picking the last shards of glass out of my toes. Listen, you really need to go speak to a specialist or sleep doc or something. The sleepwalking, the sleep-smashing, this is really bad.
CLAIRE: Yeah. Maybe. Yeah, I should go see someone. I think I’m going to go stay at my mom’s for a bit. Maybe that will help.
JUDITH: Yeah, that’s probably for the best. When do you think you’ll go?
CLAIRE: Today. I’m going today.
JUDITH: Oh, ok.
CLAIRE: I’m sorry, do you want to stay here? You can totally stay here.
JUDITH: … no, I think I’ll… go to my mom’s place as well. My apartment will be ready in a bit and it just doesn’t feel… right being here alone.
JUDITH: I, uh… recorded what happened last night.
CLAIRE: Oh, great.
JUDITH: Do you want to hear it?
CLAIRE: [sigh] No, not really. I thought I was still in bed. I was dreaming.
JUDITH: What were you dreaming about?
CLAIRE: I was in an open field, walking towards a house.
JUDITH: Well, you weren’t. You were throwing jars.
CLAIRE: Yep. Yep. Look, I’m sorry, I want to go sooner rather than later, I’m going to pack up right now and head out.
JUDITH: Promise me you’ll make an appointment with a sleep clinic?
CLAIRE: Ok, I will.
JUDITH: If you’re taking off for a bit, can I borrow a couple of those notebooks?
CLAIRE: No. They should stay here.
JUDITH: Ok, uh, but why?
CLAIRE: I don’t know exactly, but it feels… right. They need to be here. They need to be together.
CLAIRE: Please don’t sneak any out.
JUDITH: Come on.
CLAIRE: Just… don’t.
JUDITH: Ok, fine. I’ll pack up as well.
[SFX: beep. Studio]
JUDITH: I don’t know if she ever went to the doctor. I mean, she said she did but… I don’t know what to believe. About anything really. Ok, so… that’s it for now. Owen, I’ll leave the files on the desktop for you to listen to. Uh… [mouse clicking]
CLAIRE: [on playback] Judith, if you listen to this in the next couple of days, I’m sorry.
[SFX: Silence, deep sigh, Judith’s possibly considering having a good cry. Beep]