[SFX: beep. Living room]
CLAIRE: Judith, can you help me with this?
JUDITH: Oh, hi, welcome to Oh No, Not This Old House Again, with Claire and Judith. Today we’re looking into the history of this house because we’re sick of painting cupboards. [SFX: papers being put down on a desk] That’s a lot of paper.
CLAIRE: I had been doing research trying to figure out some things about my family and this house and, uh…
JUDITH: You know our boss will lose her mind if she sees how you’re abusing the work printer.
CLAIRE: Whatever, I’ve been trying to make sense of all of this, there’s a lot to wrap my head around. Well, most of it is boring legal stuff. I also probably printed out a few things twice by accident.
JUDITH: [SFX: paper being picked up] This is a receipt for a delivery order from… 7/11? They do that?
CLAIRE: Give me that. [SFX: snatches paper back]
JUDITH: [to herself] I’m gonna do that.
CLAIRE: I didn’t want to go out and you weren’t around. You were on a date.
JUDITH: Which a waste of… some of my time.
CLAIRE: Well you didn’t come home.
JUDITH: Should’ve. I mean, I wouldn’t kick them out of bed for eating crackers, but that’s only because it was their bed and they’d already eaten the crackers. I think they were BBQ flavoured.
CLAIRE: Ew, no thanks.
JUDITH: Remind me to remove that in case they listen. So, what do we got?
CLAIRE: So I’ve got some info from my grandparent’s lawyer about them, uh, my bio mom, stuff about the house. Her parent’s names were Mariam – but she went by Minnie – and Hugh Wreed, and they bought the house in 1958. She worked as a counsellor at a small holistic practice.
JUDITH: So she was like a professional hippies?
CLAIRE: Sort of, looked like she was a proto-life coach or something, but also that she was into like, crystals and meditation, that kind of thing?
CLAIRE: Yeah, and Hugh worked as an accountant in an architectural firm that doesn’t exist anymore, I looked it up. But they were both noted poets and artists, at least in the area.
JUDITH: Oh, cool.
CLAIRE: Yeah! Like, they were pretty central to the small artist community.
JUDITH: Cool, well maybe we’ll find something of their work in here in this very large pile- [SFX: receipt being picked up] this is just a receipt from CB2, how many coasters did you buy?
CLAIRE: I think I might have to do some more digging. I really want to see more of what they wrote, I’m going to be pretty disappointed if it turns out that they were bad writers. I mean, that doesn’t bode well for me.
JUDITH: It would explain why you haven’t finished your novel.
CLAIRE: I’m not inspired enough yet. It’ll come. Then I’ll just… write it all in the span of two months while in a secluded beachside cabin.
JUDITH: I don’t want to squash your dreams, but I don’t think that’s how that works.
CLAIRE: No no, I’m the writer. Trust me, it is. I’ve been reading through notebooks I found though, and there’s some interesting items in there. I guess Minnie did a lot of mediation and yoga and stuff as a way to relax, her whole practice is outlined here.
JUDITH: Are you going to start exploring your inner self?
CLAIRE: I mean, maybe. Can’t hurt, can it? I’ve been trying to do these breathing exercises and not to fall over in warrior pose.
JUDITH: Still haven’t achieved that.
CLAIRE: Yeah, I’ll let you know what I find. So far I know that Dana was born in 1970 and she went missing in late 1989, so right after I was born.
JUDITH: So I’m guessing that’s when she died.
CLAIRE: Well, ok, here’s the thing: in 1996, she was declared dead, but they never found a body or anything.
JUDITH: Like, at all?
CLAIRE: No, she had just been missing for so long with no sign of her that she was listed as dead in absentia. So technically she’s still missing, but like, it’s been almost 30 years. Even if she is still out there, she’s not looking back.
JUDITH: Huh. [pause] Hey, uh, how are you feeling after last week? I feel like we’ve just been missing each other a lot recently.
CLAIRE: Oh, yeah… I’m ok. I think I was just so sleep deprived and stressed that I was starting to lose it.
JUDITH: [unconvinced] Yeah. It’s just… you said some weird things.
CLAIRE: Don’t worry about it, it’s fine. I’m dealing with everything as best I can. Have I said weird stuff since then?
JUDITH: No, aside from asking me if it was a good idea if you got bangs. Don’t get bangs on a whim. But like… have you been sleeping ok? I’ve heard you thrashing around on the futon recently.
CLAIRE: Yeah, I think so? I’m just… really warm sometimes.
JUDITH: Really? I find my living room to be comfortable most of the time.
CLAIRE: You know me, I just run hot. Dude, I swear, it’s fine. It’s fine! I’ve probably just been having weird dreams at night where I’m running or something, but before you ask, no, I don’t remember them. And besides, I have some good news for you: I’ve decided to move into the house on Sunday. You will get your place back!
JUDITH: Oh! Oh, I mean… don’t feel like you need to rush out. If you want to stay longer, that’s totally cool. Honestly, I think I’ve gotten used to having another person around.
CLAIRE: No, it’s ok. I think it’s time I take the next step and actually move into the house I’m paying the electrical bills for.
JUDITH: Yeah, I get that. But you’re welcome to stay as long as you want.
CLAIRE: Thanks. Oh, how’s your neck?
JUDITH: Uh, it’s fine. Had a doctor look at it. But hey, we at least we figured out that the basement isn’t supernatural spooky, it’s just regular spooky.
CLAIRE: And we found the notebooks.
JUDITH: Yeah, I want to take a look at those. Got any with you?
CLAIRE: Not right now. But I’ve been reading through them and… yeah.
JUDITH: Hmmm, yeah. I want to take a look at some point when we’ve got the chance.
CLAIRE: Works for me. Besides, a lot of it so far has just been like, odd notes? Notes, uhh… recipes for “relaxation tonics” and “healing essences.”
JUDITH: Sounds weird.
CLAIRE: Yeah. Lot of rosehip oil and sage going on. I swear, if they had been alive now, they could’ve made a killing selling this stuff if they just put everything in stylish packaging.
JUDITH: Anything good in there?
CLAIRE: I’ll try out the ones with simple ingredient lists. One of them calls for belladonna, which I’m pretty sure would kill me.
JUDITH: Yeah, maybe skip that one for now.
[SFX: beep. Studio]
JUDITH: Well hi there. It’s Judith and Owen listening to endless audio logs. That name isn’t very good, is it? We need like, a cool name for this, like… Help! Maybe My Friend Is Haunted!
OWEN: The Exorcist.
JUDITH: I feel like that one has been used before.
OWEN: Nah, it’ll be fine.
JUDITH: On the bright side, Owen brought beer and I brought snacks, so we have sustenance through the record.
OWEN: I also did a little bit of research into the house as well.
JUDITH: Wow, you really delivered today.
OWEN: I… just thought it’d be interesting and had some time to kill.
JUDITH: The mystery eventually sucks us all in. What’d you find?
OWEN: So remember how you played that recording where that old lady told you about the maid that murdered someone? Well that actually happened. Her name was Alma Keene and according to some articles I found from 1915, she had a relationship with the adult son of the house’s owners, Timothy Crawford. She ended up getting pregnant, which was a big scandal for the usual reasons. Once the baby was born, Timothy and his family pushed to have her and the child removed from the house, and she freaked out. Eventually, she was found in the basement with the body of the baby. Apparently the child had been smothered, but it was never conclusive as to whether or not she actually committed the murder. Anyway, that happened where the original laundry room was. She was arrested and jailed, but contracted diphtheria and died not long after.
JUDITH: Dark. What happened to Timothy?
OWEN: He also died soon after that.
JUDITH: Um… [SFX: paper flipping] looks like the whole family did.
OWEN: It was a big scandal at the time because it was all so sudden, with no obvious cause.
JUDITH: They were all listed as having choked to death…
OWEN: … but that’s not definitive. Anyway, it doesn’t sound like it’s related to anyone in Claire’s family, but it is related to the house. After that, the house was plagued with stories about hauntings and unsettling occurrences, but most of them honestly sound like campfire stories. Rapping on the walls, evil paintings, and all that stuff.
JUDITH: Honestly, I’d prefer an evil painting at this point. But I want to look more at her relations. Claire and I did a bit of digging after we found the notebooks and we found some information on something called The Family of Fire. They were a weird fringe group in Toronto in the early 1900s who worshipped this spirit named Moloch or Melark or Melanie or whatever, thinking that he would eventually be summoned and he would bring his wrath. At first I thought it was unrelated, but then I found references to the same deity in some books at Claire’s. I also found something about them at the Reference Library, so it looks like I’ll have to go back.
OWEN: Well, we’re going to the house later, so maybe we could do that instead. Then we don’t have to go over there, and it’s win-win.
JUDITH: Yeah, I need to get my hands on those notebooks. They’ll have more information that we can use. Probably. I didn’t get to read many of them but I flipped through a few, I took a few notes, and one of the ones I remember had a bunch of names in it.
OWEN: I like my library-only idea better. Just saying.
JUDITH: Anyway, notebooks: sometimes the names in them would be carefully written in and then delicately crossed out, which was weird, but like, you find ways to rationalize it. Oh, maybe it’s Christmas card lists, or a phone tree, or something along those lines.
JUDITH: But it’s not that simple. that wasn’t all that was in it. There were random bits of text throughout. Sometimes it would just be symbols, with small notations surrounding it. I have a couple of photos of them I took to reference at some point, hang on. Yeah, ok: “draw with hand”, “the mother”, “the child.” Some are just… lists of numbers. But some were short sentences that, probably even in context, sounded ominous. I took a couple down: “Nov 4, no reaction. Younger donor?”, “Gateway – a path could open. Who will walk through?”, “Remove the child from the mother”, and over and over again, on one page, as if someone had been writing absentmindedly, “the child, the child, the child, the child. She will come home.”
OWEN: “She will come home…” Claire said something about… lemme check, I made a note of it somewhere… [SFX: rifling papers] She has come home. That was it.
JUDITH: Hmm. I don’t feel good about that.
OWEN: Yeah, me neither. Hey, I have an idea.
OWEN: Why don’t we just not go into the house? Is there anything I can do that will stop you from wanting to go in there tonight?
JUDITH: Not at this point.
OWEN: Great. I just want you to know though that this is the worst date I’ve ever been asked on.
JUDITH: Look, if you don’t want to go, that’s ok, I can go by myself.
OWEN: Nope, no, it’s cool. I just… listening to these recordings has really set me on edge, y’know? It was weird enough the first time I was there and I don’t want to go back there, especially now. But I also feel like sending someone in alone is a stupid idea as well, soooo…
JUDITH: I promise, we’ll be quick. Anyway, I want to listen to another recording. Can you pull up… [SFX: paper shuffling] October 2nd?
OWEN: Yep, give me a minute. Want a beer?
JUDITH: Sure, why not.
[SFX: beep. Living room]
JUDITH: Hey hey! It’s Claire and Judith here with some chilling news. So, tell our listeners more about it.
CLAIRE: It’s like I said, it might not be anything.
JUDITH: But you’ve never slept-walked before.
CLAIRE: Not to my knowledge, no.
JUDITH: Well people don’t just start sleepwalking, and they certainly don’t start sleep-smashing. So what happened?
CLAIRE: [deep breath] Ok. I spent the day yesterday cleaning out the upstairs bedrooms. There was the usual stuff, old clothes, knick-knacks, just like, things I could donate or throw out. I’m dusting, I’m digging through drawers, when I find what looks like a day planner and a small red leather bound book in the back of a drawer.
JUDITH: Yeah, we got the book here, it’s called Return Of Fire, by Bridget Whitmere.
CLAIRE: So yeah, I start going through that one first, right? And I thought it would be a novel, but it looked like it was more of a… history book. Like, it broke down all this information about these various… gods, I guess. I mean, I’m calling it a history book, but it felt more like a… a bible or something. I don’t know, maybe I just think it felt like a bible because the pages were super thin and had a gold edge on them.
JUDITH: I mean, that makes it “biblical” at least.
CLAIRE: Yeah. It was odd though, can pages look tarnished? Whatever. Most of the book was about the history of this group that followed this god, Moloch, but it got super dark real fast. It was bleak, just this horrible dense text that was filled with all these stories about how to return the Earth to fire. I read through it for a while, and before I knew it, it was getting dark out. It’s like I just lost the whole afternoon. It didn’t feel like I had been reading for that long, but suddenly it was just… dusk. I was starting to get tired too, which made sense because I’d spent the day cleaning. So I put that down and remembered the day planner, and once I began looking through that, it started to get even weirder.
JUDITH: Weirder how?
CLAIRE: Well, it was a day planner, but there wasn’t a year on the book, which is weird, right? And at first it was just notations for things like… dentist appointments, meetings, etc. Normal calendar stuff. But then they stopped. Months with nothing in them. Then suddenly, one last one, an entry in early October that just said “lock the door.”
JUDITH: Oh my god.
CLAIRE: Finally, there was one last note in mid-November.
JUDITH: What did it say?
JUDITH: That’s super freaky.
CLAIRE: Yeah, I don’t know. I want to think it was just a prank, but like… I want to know, who wrote that? Did something happen? It wasn’t the same handwriting as the notebooks, I checked.
JUDITH: Yeah, I don’t know.
CLAIRE: Anyway, the whole thing unsettled me. But yeah, I packed up everything that I’d been going through, put on an audiobook, and dozed off, in bed, mind you.
JUDITH: Do you know when you started sleepwalking?
CLAIRE: Not exactly. I assume it wasn’t long before I woke up, which was around 3:30 AM. I’m pretty sure that I was dreaming. I don’t know what the dreams were, I just felt really tense? Like all my anxiety had become manifest. Suddenly, I wake up. I’m standing in the kitchen in the dark. Everything I’m wearing is wet. At first I thought it was sweat, but then I started to smell the air and I realized it’s not that. I had smashed several bottles on my kitchen floor and I was covered in whatever had been in them. The floor was covered in broken glass. I swear, I’ve never done anything like that, I’ve never even slept-walked before in my life.
JUDITH: Claire, are you sure you’re ok? Please, just come back and stay at my place for a bit.
CLAIRE: No, I’m ok. I need to just get my head on straight. I have to be able to stand up on my own and not just depend on you or Adam or my moms or whatever to figure things out for me.
JUDITH: Are you sure? Even just for a night…
CLAIRE: It’s fine! I can do this.
JUDITH: [unsure] Ok. I trust you. But… don’t be afraid to ask for help.
CLAIRE: I know.
CLAIRE: Oh, one other thing, I went back down in the basement to put some stuff away for storage. Still creepy, still hate it down there.
CLAIRE: I noticed something…
CLAIRE: Have you ever just gotten a feeling when you go into a place? Like it makes the hair on the back of your neck rise?
CLAIRE: Well I went down there and I heard a noise, like a little scratching sound. I assumed it was a raccoon again, but as I turned around suddenly I got this super intense head rush, like I’d stood up too fast.
CLAIRE: And in that moment, I felt… scared. Not scared for me, but like… as if I was scared for someone else, as if I was afraid something bad would happen to someone else. This weird anxiety crept up my spine and made me feel like something bad was coming in this big indistinguishable way, I don’t know how else to explain it. My vision was starting to tunnel a bit, so maybe it was just a head rush, but it really freaked me out, so I went back upstairs and had a sit down and a glass of water. I know that sounds capital-B bizarre.
JUDITH: Hmmm, yeah. Not to sound too much like Adam, but maybe you should talk to someone.
CLAIRE: [sigh] Yeah, you’re right.
JUDITH: Yeah. Hmm.
JUDITH: Nothing. I just… I kind of want to see what’s going on in that basement.
CLAIRE: This weekend we can take a look, make sure I’m not hallucinating.
JUDITH: Hah! Yeah. Ok, let’s wrap this up for now. I’ll edit this later.
[SFX: beep. Studio]
JUDITH: God, I want to go back in time and tell past me to not be such an idiot. I hear myself talking and I’m just… avoiding avoiding avoiding. Don’t want to rock the boat, don’t want to ask the tough questions because I’m afraid of the answers. Or maybe just the fact that there is no good… answer. Also, it’s been two days since we were last in the booth. Work got busy.
OWEN: [off mic] I live here now! In this studio!
JUDITH: Owen’s losing it. We went to Claire’s but there’s still no sign of her having returned, but we don’t need her to get inside, because I have a key. On the upside, we grabbed some books! That’s neat. The downside is that the experience there was… disconcerting. So we’re going to play back what we recorded in the house a couple of days ago because we both want to hear it.
[SFX: beep. Claire’s living room, but it feels emptier. Footsteps]
OWEN: I can’t believe Claire was staying here by herself. It’s a big place but it just feels…
JUDITH: Eerie? Sinister?
OWEN: Empty. It feels empty. Normally like… a house feels lived in. This feels like a set.
JUDITH: Yeah, it feels… too big.
OWEN: Not to sound like too much of a wimp, but I feel like sticking around after dark would be a bad idea, so let’s get what we need and go. Are you sure there aren’t like… vampires in the basement or anything? Ghouls? Wendigos?
JUDITH: Not at last check, but if there are, I don’t think animal control will be willing to help out. I want to go downstairs. Well, I don’t want to, but…
OWEN: What are the chances of there being CHUDs?
JUDITH: … slightly higher than zero? Ok, let’s head downstairs. Look for anything down there that involves like, the Family of Fire, those notebooks, anything about that Moloch dude, whatever.
OWEN: Or we can just search the living room.
JUDITH: Let’s get this over with.
OWEN: [sigh] Ok.
[SFX: Footsteps, a key in a padlock, door creaks open. They’re heading into the basement]
OWEN: I don’t know, it just smells… familiar? Down here.
JUDITH: Like what?
OWEN: Like… not like, outside, but there’s a woody smell to it. I just… can’t place it. But it smells like a damp campfire.
JUDITH: [SFX: sniff] Yeah… what is that? What does an electrical fire smell like?
OWEN: Not like this. Oh man, that’s a lot of boxes.
JUDITH: [sigh] I guess she moved more stuff down here. Ummm, ok, can you start looking through that pile of books? We’ll take whatever we can find.
OWEN: Sounds good.
[SFX: Boxes shuffling, papers, being moved around]
WOMAN: [quiet but heavily distorted] Leave.
[SFX: beep. Studio]
OWEN: [very nervous] Did you hear that?
JUDITH: [nervous] What was that?
[SFX: beep. Basement]
WOMAN: [a little louder, heavily distorted] Leave.
[SFX: beep. Studio]
OWEN: I didn’t hear that when we were there.
JUDITH: There wasn’t anyone else down there, so…
OWEN: I’m going to keep playing it.
[SFX: beep. Basement – more distortion happening in the background, more glitches, things are getting worse]
JUDITH: Hey, I think I found a book on demonology. Could be useful.
OWEN: Sure, put it in the bag. I found one on… dentistry?
WOMAN: [heavily distorted] You must leave. You are not welcome here.
[SFX: beep. Studio]
OWEN: [nervous breathing, scared] Who is that?
JUDITH: [flat] Don’t know. Don’t think I want to know.
[SFX: beep. Basement, heavy static on the recording]
OWEN: How do you spell that? Does Moloch have one ‘l’ or two?
JUDITH: I don’t know, depends on the text. M-O-L-O-C-H, or an E instead of the second O, two Ls, it’s not consistent from what I’ve seen.
OWEN: Ok, I think I found something that references him. Wait, does he have a goat head or something?
WOMAN: [distorted, louder] YOU WILL DIE HERE.
[SFX: beep. Studio]
OWEN: That was not audible when we were there. There was no one else there. We were alone!
JUDITH: Keep going.
JUDITH: Please, I… I don’t want to hear it either, but I have to. We have to. Please.
[SFX: beep. Basement – it is NOT ok down here]
JUDITH: Ok, I’ve got like, 4… 5 books and what I think is a diary.
OWEN: Yeah, I’ve got a couple things and some of the notebooks. Anything else? Oh, wait! I remember what this smells like. It smells like burnt birch trees, I was at the cottage after a fire not too long ago, and it reminds me of tha-…
WOMAN: [heavily distorted] LEAVE NOW, OR ELSE DIE IN THIS PLACE.
[SFX: Bulb pops, the door to the upstairs slams. Distortion continues]
JUDITH: What the hell, [SFX: stumbles] Owen?
OWEN: Shit, I’m [SFX: he trips over a pile of boxes] gaah, I think I rolled my ankle.
JUDITH: You ok? Come on, let’s get out of here.
[SFX: Shuffling, footsteps on concrete, footsteps up the stairs. Door handle rattles. It won’t open]
OWEN: Uh, the door is locked.
JUDITH: What? How is it locked? I have the padlock with me.
OWEN: Well it’s not opening.
JUDITH: Let me try. [SFX: More door rattling, shoulder hitting a door] Goddamnit.
OWEN: Ok, it must be… jammed or something. Let’s try to force it, both of us.
JUDITH: Ok, uh… on 3? 1… 2… 3! [SFX: thump]
OWEN: Ow. Ok, again. 1… 2… 3! [SFX: thump]
JUDITH: [stressed] Again! 1… 2… [SFX: The door slowly creaks open on its own]
JUDITH AND OWEN: [weakly] 3.
JUDITH: What the…
OWEN: [forcefully but shaken] We are leaving now.
[SFX: beep. Studio]
OWEN: We weren’t alone down there.
JUDITH: No. No… but we were! We were! I didn’t hear that woman’s voice though when we were there. You didn’t either. It’s just… on the recording?
OWEN: I don’t know, I don’t know! It was freaky enough when we were just getting locked in the basement, but that… that’s not just some weird quirk of the house. That’s not just some… artefact on the recording, there’s something down there. And it wanted us gone.
JUDITH: I think it did something to Claire.
JUDITH: I think it knows what happened to Claire, because I think it did it. Or… affected her in some way. This can’t just be us.
OWEN: [long pause] What does that mean?
JUDITH: I don’t know.
OWEN: Look, I don’t think we should go back.
JUDITH: No, yeah… I mean… I might have to. I can’t give up now.
JUDITH: We’ll be ok. I think. I hope.
OWEN: Yeah, I know. Just feels like we’ve got a lot to think about. Not like I’ll be sleeping tonight anyway.
JUDITH: Yeah. Yeah…