[SFX: beep. Studio]
OWEN: Hey, uh, it’s Owen. Judith, I know you’re stuck in a meeting, but I thought I’d at least set things up and start going through the recording of the night I went to the house. I got it working! Codec error, maybe? Whatever. Uhh, so yeah, this was in… October. It seemed like it would be a normal night, but it was… not that. I mean, it was kind of that at first. Didn’t stay that way, though. But… you know that. Ok, this is… god, Judith, name your files better. This is… “spirit board night_4_4 export_2.wav”, Jude, I’m renaming everything and you can’t stop me, because you’re not here yet.
[SFX: beep. Claire’s living room]
CLAIRE: Call him.
JUDITH: He’s not going to come over for this.
CLAIRE: Tell him we have food.
JUDITH: Yeah, and then what?
CLAIRE: And then we’ll explore dank worlds unknown.
JUDITH: I don’t like the use of “dank”.
CLAIRE: How about we’ll… open his mind to a new plane of existence?
JUDITH: Hmm, a little too futurist.
CLAIRE: We’ll all go on a magical journey of exploration into our hidden depths… together!
JUDITH: OK, that sounds like I’m inviting him over for an orgy.
CLAIRE: Oh come on, that’s not what I meant. If I was inviting him over for an orgy, I would be like, “Hey, Owen, bring some baby oil and do some stretches.”
JUDITH: What, like, deep lunges? Also no, I’m not saying that.
CLAIRE: Hey, you’re the one bringing up an orgy. Do you want me to call him and talk to him about digging into our respective mind’s unknown-
JUDITH: Fine! I’ll call him, but only if you never mention baby oil again. I’m also going to explain that you want to use your Ouija board thing to contact the spirits or whatever.
CLAIRE: Oooh, can you ask him to bring snacks?
JUDITH: I thought I was going to tell him we had food?
CLAIRE: Well, we don’t. Not for someone’s who’s aggressively lactose intolerant, at least.
JUDITH: Right. Your fridge is full of cheese… I think just cheese. You know you’re going to get gout, right?
CLAIRE: Cheese is good for you.
JUDITH: Ok, I want to hear this, explain how.
CLAIRE: Cheese comes from cows. Cows live on farms. Farms are very nice to be on because they are outside and there’s fresh air and stuff and Old MacDonald had a farm and he has a song written about him and they don’t write songs about bad things, duh.
JUDITH: That’s so incredibly wrong I think it came full circle and actually became right again. [SFX: iPhone being dialled] Hey, Owen? Hey, yeah. I’m good, how’re you? Yeah. Yeah, ok, no, I know this is a little weird. Yeah, so Claire and I are a few beers in and, you know her creepy house? Well she found a homemade like… Ouija board-like thing in a box and she wants to USE it and do you by any chance want to join? No, currently it appears we only have cheese, but we do have beer and we can order Indian if you want to chip in. Maybe Banjara?
CLAIRE: Mother India is better!
JUDITH: Yes, I know. No, not you, just yelling at Claire. Really? I’ll text you the address. Ok, cool. See you in 20.
CLAIRE: Did you tell him I said hi?
JUDITH: He’s coming over, so you can tell him yourself.
CLAIRE: Oh sweet, let’s get this party started. Time to fill this house with ghosts!
JUDITH: An unearthly presence might really up its resale value.
CLAIRE: I’m sure that haunted houses are the next big trend. Succulents and minimalism are on the way out.
JUDITH: I can’t wait for the Toronto Life article that’s like… What’s In? Try Incorporating an Incorporeal Being Into Your Interior Decorating. Hey, wait, did you turn on the recorder?
CLAIRE: Oh, yeah, I thought it would be fun to tape the whole thing. Get something ominous if we’re lucky.
JUDITH: I like your thinking. See? I told you you would like this.
CLAIRE: It’s not that bad. Gives me something to focus on. Besides, this house feels so big after living in tiny apartments, sometimes the recorder is kind of like having another person here just… listening. Maybe that’s why I need a ghost.
JUDITH: I’m sorry I haven’t been around more, work’s been the worst, and my sister has been a bit of a monster about her wedding. It’s in 6 months, I don’t have to write the speech now.
CLAIRE: It’s cool, I’ve been busy too. But you know what? I’m feeling… pretty good. I think things are finally settling down in my head. I’ve been doing some reading and finding new ways to deal with my stress without like… only drinking wine.
JUDITH: That’s really good to hear.
CLAIRE: Yeah. Here’s a tip: don’t have your life slowly feel like it’s falling apart around you. Would not recommend. I want snacks. I think I have some veggies in the fridge-
JUDITH: And by veggies you mean cheese, don’t you.
CLAIRE: Have you ever heard a song about a vegetable?
JUDITH: I… you know what? Never mind.
[SFX: beep. Living room]
JUDITH: -t’ll just be running through the evening. Hi, welcome to Yes! In My Graveyard! Now featuring Owen outside of an office context.
OWEN: Hi, and yeah, no problem. So this is the house, huh? Wow, you weren’t lying when you said it was spacious.
JUDITH: I know, right? It’s pretty nice.
OWEN: I’ll have to get the full tour at some point.
JUDITH: Yeah, Claire’s just ordering food, then she can show you around.
OWEN: So uh, what’s with all the candles? And the pillows on the floor? It smells too nice in here. Is this an orgy?
JUDITH: It’s not an orgy! Why does everyone think it’s an orgy?
OWEN: Uh, well, I mean, normally I wouldn’t, but this place smells like a hookah bar and all the pillows are velvet and there’s a silk robe on the couch…
JUDITH: Ok, it LOOKS like a boudoir, and that is just a fun dressing gown I got for Claire for her birthday last year, but we’re actually trying to commune with the dead, or whatever weird plan Claire has. She thought this would make it feel more… inviting to any spirits.
OWEN: Horny spirits.
JUDITH: Oh god, I hope not. She found a homemade Ouija board thingy in the closet.
OWEN: And what, we’re going to recreate The Exorcist?
JUDITH: Yeah, except it’s not a piece of cardboard this time, it’s a wooden board that someone made.
OWEN: Weird. You should’ve told me I was walking into a spiritualist’s burlesque den.
JUDITH: You joke, but…
OWEN: Wait, what? Really?
JUDITH: Well, not the burlesque part. [quieter] Ok, so when Claire was first moving in we ran into a neighbour and she mentioned something about how this house has a weird past, so… maybe not too far off.
OWEN: Whoa, hang on, this was actually a place of like… questionable worship? That would be extra creepy.
JUDITH: Well, I don’t think so, and I haven’t been able to verify some things of ill repute went down here. Claire said she’d look through a few more files that she found to see if there was anything behind what that lady said. On the upside, she’s been doing a lot better lately, seems to have calmed down a bit. She’s still not sleeping super well, but at least she’s not as incredibly stressed out as she was before.
OWEN: Yeah, that was getting weird. I asked her one day at work to forward me an email and she burst into tears.
JUDITH: Yeah, not great. Anyway, I’m letting her kind of… find her strength first before I push her too hard to look into the maybe cult-y lives of her family.
OWEN: Eh, I’m sure it’ll be f-… oh, hey Claire!
CLAIRE: Hey! Thanks for coming over. Ready to speak to some spirits while drunk on spirits? I made a pitcher of vodka and orange juice, which is my attempt at eating healthier.
OWEN: … Because of the orange juice?
CLAIRE: It’s a fruit. Healthy. It’s like cheese. Cheese is healthy too- Didn’t we go over this?
JUDITH: Yes, just before the orgy was cancelled. Anyway, should we get started? Get a couple of calls over to the other side before the food gets here?
CLAIRE: Actually, can we wait for a bit? Judith, can I talk to you for a quick sec?
JUDITH: Oh, sure. What’s up?
CLAIRE: [quietly] I may have asked Adam to come by as well.
JUDITH: What? Why?
CLAIRE: I know! I know, it’s stupid, but… I’ve been reading some books lately about, y’know, finding yourself – it’s silly, I know – and it’s made me realize that if I’m actually going to end things with Adam, I have to do it properly, and I need closure, and not by just running away. And that means facing him and figuring out exactly what I want, do I want to leave or do I maybe need to just deal with my own internal problems? To find strength is to purify the soul.
JUDITH: I guess, if… that’s what you want. What’s that quote from?
CLAIRE: Oh, in one of the books I found. I think my grandmother wrote it? Who knows, maybe being more mindful will help. Anyway, I asked him to come by, told him that I wanted to see what comes of it. I also may have done it because you and Owen are here, so that makes it way easier to keep it neutral.
JUDITH: Are you sure? You seemed pretty set on ending it then and there before.
CLAIRE: Yeah, I think… I don’t know, it feels like I’ve had a change of heart.
JUDITH: That’s called “missing your ex”, it’s a very common malady.
CLAIRE: Probably. But… what’s the worst that could happen?
JUDITH: I don’t know, how much time do you have?
CLAIRE: Touche. I just want to try this out.
JUDITH: For the record, I just want to say that this is still a bad idea on at least 3 levels, but if it helps you, then I will do my best to not pour chutney on Adam.
CLAIRE: It’ll be fine. Shall we?
[SFX: beep. Living room]
CLAIRE: Ok, we’re all here, we’re full of naan, and I think it’s time we start seeing what this house has to offer.
ADAM: Well, I think this should be fun, but I’m also hoping that you took some precautions before we start.
ADAM: I mean, it’s not that I believe in the supernatural, but one shouldn’t just go communing with the dead all willy-nilly.
JUDITH: [mutters] The only thing nilly here is your willy.
ADAM: What was that?
JUDITH: Nothing. Uh… yeah. Come on, let’s do this.
CLAIRE: Yeah! This place is already creepy enough without ghosts, but maybe that will just… add to the ambiance.
OWEN: I think a nice poltergeist would really help spruce up the place, y’know, throw some furniture around the room, smash a few dishes.
CLAIRE: I’m sold. And yeah, come on Adam, it’ll be fine. This is just for fun!
ADAM: I’m sure if anything does happen, there will be a logical explanation.
JUDITH: So, what do we do?
CLAIRE: Ok, well, we’ve got the board and this little arrow thingy-
ADAM: A planchette.
CLAIRE: Yeah, that word. We each put a finger from each hand on the planchette and then I’ll ask the questions. No pushing it around! [SFX: wood on wood] Judith!
CLAIRE: [SFX: wood on wood] I said don’t push it.
JUDITH: I do only what the spirits tell me to do.
CLAIRE: [SFX: wood on wood] Well I haven’t asked a question yet so it shouldn’t be moving.
JUDITH: [SFX: wood on wood] Ok, that wasn’t me. The spirits are only telling me that I should get another beer.
CLAIRE: [SFX: wood on wood] Ok. Well, what’s it spelling?
JUDITH: [SFX: wood on wood] H… e… l… l…
JUDITH: No, Adam, there’s an ‘o’ on there, it’s spelling ‘hello.’
CLAIRE: Ok, this isn’t funny.
JUDITH: [SFX: wood on wood] It’s not me! Owen, should I be regretting asking you to join?
OWEN: It ain’t me, bud.
ADAM: It’s different, now it’s spelling… h… e… l… p…
CLAIRE: [SFX: wood on wood] It just keeps spelling that out… help, help, help…
OWEN: [SFX: wood on wood] Ask it a question? Unless…
JUDITH: The next person who says I’m pushing this thing around gets a finger in the eye.
CLAIRE: Ok! Uh, who are you?
ADAM: [SFX: wood on wood] F… a… m… i… l… y…
CLAIRE: Family! Holy shit. Are you… my mother?
JUDITH: [SFX: wood on wood] No.
CLAIRE: Are you… her mom?
JUDITH: [SFX: wood on wood] Yes.
ADAM: I mean, that’s unsettling, but since you can’t actually contact the dead. Once you think about what is happening here then it’s easy to understand how this is, in reality, some sort of automatic writing-like response-
CLAIRE: Hush. Why do you need help?
JUDITH: [SFX: wood on wood] T… r… a… p…
ADAM: Judith, I’m going to have to ask you to knock it off.
JUDITH: WHY WOULD I BE DOING THIS?
OWEN: Uh, I don’t think she’s doing this. Although if you are, I also think it’s time to knock it off.
CLAIRE: Umm… can we free you?
OWEN: [SFX: wood on wood] Yes.
JUDITH: [SFX: wood on wood] B… B-r-e… Break. … Glas-s-s-s-s. That’s too many ‘s’s. I think the ghost is stuck, we might have to reboot it.
OWEN: Alright, time to smash some windows.
CLAIRE: God, I hope not. That would cost way too much to replace.
OWEN: Could be fun though.
ADAM: I think this is getting a little silly.
JUDITH: Yeah, this is too odd. We’re doing this ourselves, somehow. There’s no way this is actually a spirit.
CLAIRE: Wait, there it goes again.
CLAIRE: [SFX: wood on wood] L… i… a… r… Liar.
JUDITH: Oh come on.
CLAIRE: Yeah, ghost grandma, don’t call my friend a liar.
JUDITH: Yeah, I’m a lot of other things that you could be calling me.
CLAIRE: Right? Better step up your game.
JUDITH: I guess ask it something else?
CLAIRE: Is this place haunted?
CLAIRE: Shhh, let the GHOST answer.
OWEN: Yes. Uhhh… t, r, a… trapped. Trapped. This ghost is a real downer.
JUDITH: Yeah, come on, be more fun. What’s a silly question to ask? Hmm…
OWEN: Should I ask for a raise at work?
JUDITH: Is there a decent buffet in heaven?
OWEN: Would you kill ghost Hitler if you saw him?
CLAIRE: Hey! Enough. Be nice. She’s just trying to say hi, while also being kind of scary.
JUDITH: Yeah, I bet she’s dead sick of us asking stupid questions, hahaha. Does she want a drink? [SFX: beer bottle topples over, Owen yells]
OWEN: Aww man, it’s all over my socks.
CLAIRE: Who knocked the table?
ADAM: We should be more careful.
CLAIRE: No, it’s fine, it’s fine. I’ll clean it up in a minute. So wait, what about this glass, why are you trapped?
ADAM: [SFX: wood on wood] Uhh… s… a… c… r… uhh… … sacrifice?
CLAIRE: Sacrifice? Did you sacrifice something? [SFX: wood on wood] Yes.
JUDITH: Uh… Claire?
CLAIRE: Hang on- [SFX: wood on wood] Free. Please. Holy shit.
ADAM: Claire, this isn’t real.
CLAIRE: Shh. What can I do? [SFX: wood on wood]
OWEN: What did it say?
CLAIRE: Help. Help.
JUDITH: Ok, this is getting ridiculous. And repetitive. Ok ghost lady, thanks for your input, but I think it’s time we say goodbye.
CLAIRE: Hang o-… yeah, maybe you’re right. It’s just…
JUDITH: Sorry to peace out so early, but let’s bring it home. Goodbye creepy grandma, you were a bit of a bummer. See you on the other s-[SFX: She falls backwards.]
OWEN: What the hell?
ADAM: That’s it, I’m turning the lights on. [SFX: footsteps, lightswitch]
CLAIRE: Oh my god, what a mess! I think you knocked the table over when you slipped.
JUDITH: What? No, did someone push me?!
OWEN: I think you caught me across the arm. Or… someone did.
ADAM: I wasn’t near you. Besides, violence is never the answer.
CLAIRE: Yeah, I think you may have just gotten startled and knocked into Owen.
OWEN: [quietly, almost to himself] It felt like a slap.
JUDITH: I swear, I felt something on my chest. Like… a push. A hard one.
CLAIRE: I mean… it can’t. No one pushed you- oh my god!
ADAM: Claire, I hope you’re not going to say what I think you’re going to say.
CLAIRE: … Do you think a spirit did it?
ADAM: Darn it. That’s not a real thing. Besides, Judith, you’re probably just a little drunk.
JUDITH: I’ve had like, two drinks! Someone pushed me. And slapped Owen.
OWEN: I mean…
CLAIRE: Wow, ok, everyone just calm down. I think we’re all a little worked up and-
ADAM: A little drunk.
CLAIRE: Enough! Enough. Jude, can I talk to you for a minute? Owen, Adam, can you take these dishes into the kitchen?
OWEN: Yeah, sure. [SFX: footsteps, dishes]
JUDITH: I don’t know what happened there. I swear.
CLAIRE: I know, it’s just…
CLAIRE: I don’t know, this is going to sound crazy.
JUDITH: Say it.
CLAIRE: Well, maybe there was a spirit there. I know, it’s a little eye-rolly, but it’s not totally impossible. What?
JUDITH: … a spirit? Conjured up by a homemade ouija-board? Of the spirit of your dead grandma?
CLAIRE: I know, but like… what if it is? I wasn’t pushing that planchette and I assume you weren’t either, and I seriously doubt that Adam or Owen were. What if there actually is someone in this house who needs help? What if they’re calling out to us to free them?
JUDITH: I just…
JUDITH: How is that even possible?
CLAIRE: I don’t know, does that matter? And even if it’s not real, then whatever. We all have a good laugh and then move on, but if it is…
JUDITH: It can’t be though.
CLAIRE: [exasperated] Why not?
JUDITH: It just can’t! Claire! Listen to yourself! You’re telling me that a ghost is trying to get help from you.
CLAIRE: I think you’re just looking for an excuse. You always want to look the other way. Maybe I want to believe that there’s something… more out there!
JUDITH: I can’t believe we’re having this discussion.
CLAIRE: Well neither can I. I just want you to stand by me on this if it turns out this thing has literally turned supernatural!
JUDITH: [surprised] Of course I would. I’m just having… trouble getting to that point.
CLAIRE: Yeah. I get that. You shouldn’t have been so rude to her though.
JUDITH: Who, dead grandma? [catches herself] Sorry, I’m…
CLAIRE: It’s fine. [sigh] Maybe it’s time we just pack up for the night. I think I need to think things over.
JUDITH: [surprised] Oh, uh, ok. Do you want me to stick around?
CLAIRE: No, I think… I think I’m good. There’s not much to clean up, other than the spilled beer.
JUDITH: Look, I’m sorry. Let me help. We can have chips and Adam won’t be here to tell us the dangers of trans-fats!
CLAIRE: Thanks, but… I need to think about everything that happened tonight. It’s just… if there was a ghost…
JUDITH: I’m going to be honest, it’s going to take a lot to convince me that there’s actually a ghost or spirit or what have you.
CLAIRE: I know. Whatever. Just… maybe you shouldn’t… antagonize it if it is real?
JUDITH: Hey, they were the one shoving me around.
CLAIRE: Come on, I doubt they would’ve shoved you.
JUDITH: So what, you’ll believe there’s a ghost but you won’t believe that it would mess with me?
CLAIRE: I mean, maybe she was annoyed.
JUDITH: By WHAT?
CLAIRE: You were rude!
JUDITH: To something that doesn’t exist!
CLAIRE: [sigh] I’m sorry, the night is done. I need some space to mull this over.
JUDITH: I’m sorry, I’m… sure there will be a good explanation for this. Maybe I am just really clumsy. And drunk, if you’re Adam.
CLAIRE: It’s ok.
JUDITH: If you need time alone… I’ll head out. I’ll… get Owen and we can… do something else for the night.
CLAIRE: Ok. This is just so odd, I want to sit down and really mull it over. It… puts some things I’ve been trying to figure out in a new light.
JUDITH: Yeah. Ok, um, I’ll pack up. I love you.
CLAIRE: I love you too. I’ll grab your coat from the closet if you want to go speak to Owen. Let me know when you’re home safe?
JUDITH: Yeah, that’s cool.
[SFX: beep. Audio is slightly muffled, recorder is in a bag, they’re walking outside]
OWEN: Are you sure?
JUDITH: Yes! Something pushed me in there. Just like, fwoomp, right in the rib cage.
OWEN: I assumed you’d slipped.
JUDITH: Did something hit you?
OWEN: Well, I saw you go backwards, and I reached out, and then there was like… crack across my wrist.
JUDITH: What do you think it was?
OWEN: I mean…
OWEN: The sane part of me says it was something on the table falling over and hitting me, or your arm catching me on when you slipped.
OWEN: [hesitant] The rest of me says that something hit me, and it wasn’t you, or anyone else at that table… what are you thinking?
OWEN: What are you thinking?
JUDITH: I don’t know. That house is weird. I thought it was just standard weird but… I think it’s getting to Claire.
JUDITH: Yeah, she was really big on the idea of there… actually being a ghost.
OWEN: Well, I wasn’t pushing that thing around. Maybe Adam’s trying to mess with her.
JUDITH: Not his style. He’s like lukewarm milk turned human.
OWEN: Were they always like that?
JUDITH: Nah, he’s usually just the most boring and well-meaning but overbearing man in the world. I once saw him compare three shades of taupe and then get rid of one for being “too much.”
JUDITH: I don’t know. I’ll keep an eye on it. Maybe… whatever. It’s late. We’re almost at my place.
OWEN: Ok, I’ll talk to you on Monday, ok?
JUDITH: Yep. Oh, I tossed my recorder in your bag, hang on… [SFX: digging around]
[SFX: beep. Studio]
OWEN: That’s what I have from that night. Judith’s here, and I’ve got two words for you:
JUDITH: And they are…
OWEN: Baby oil.
JUDITH: I forgot THAT WAS ALL RECORDED. Well, time to self-immolate, goodbye everyone.
OWEN: Ah, it’s fine. My mind is dank enough as it is.
JUDITH: That is true.
OWEN: As for the rest of that evening…
JUDITH: It was weird, right? That house is actively antagonistic. Is it possible for a building to hate you? Because if it can, then it’s not a fan of me. I thought the house was just bog standard weird but after hearing that recording in the basement… have you played that one again at all?
OWEN: No, and I don’t want to. Creeps me out too much. And that place clearly doesn’t like me much, either. That can’t be it, though. The house itself can’t be mad at you.
JUDITH: I don’t know, can’t it?
OWEN: I… I guess that makes as much sense as anything in the recordings. At first there were things I could write off as artefacts or issues or just out-of-context recordings but… I can’t stop thinking about that one in the basement and that voice. Jude, sometimes I hear it when I’m listening to something else, when I’m doing stuff at work. I know it’s all in my head but it’s really messing with me.
JUDITH: Yeah… I hear it too. [deep breath] I can’t let this get to me. I can’t. We’ve got to keep looking at what we’ve got.
OWEN: [SFX: mouse clicking] What about the recording from the next day?
JUDITH: Is there a recording from the next day?
OWEN: Yeah, there’s one- [SFX: Owen going “hey!” as Judith goes for the computer]
[SFX: The recording is from inside the house. It’s very quiet. A door upstairs closes. Water in pipes can be heard. The room is silent. Suddenly, a quiet knocking starts. Like a tap-tap, tap-tap. The sound starts to get thicker on the recording. The audio cracks and pops and a horrible strangled noise starts up. There’s a knocking sound, like someone knocking on a door. The knocking gets closer. It gets deeper. It gets louder. It’s coming from the inside of the speaker]
OWEN: Holy sh- [SFX: he turns off the recording]
JUDITH: How much more of it was there?
OWEN: It was only 2 seconds long according to this.
JUDITH: … how long did that run for?
OWEN: 8 seconds.
[SFX: a knock, from inside the speaker]
JUDITH: Did you hit play?
OWEN: No. Is that…
JUDITH: Inside the speaker.
[SFX: a knock, from inside the speaker]
JUDITH: I think someone’s trying to get our attention.
[SFX: a knock, from inside the speaker. Angrier, though. The hiss cuts out, the room is silent]
OWEN: That’s not a hello. That’s a warning.
JUDITH: Yeah. [shaken] I think we should leave.
OWEN: [quiet and nervous] Yeah, don’t have to tell me twice-