01: Whereabouts

Judith Antoni’s friend Claire has gone missing. Well, she’s alive, but she’s taken off and no one can track her down. Judith enlists the help of her friend Owen to start digging through the recordings made when Claire took possession of a house in Parkdale and things started to get… kind of weird.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Hauntings/the paranormal, cults (mentioned), the occult, alcohol

[SFX: door opens, footsteps on hardwood, room echo]

JUDITH: Hello? Claire? Goddamnit. Ok, uh, I’m going to record this just in case. I’m at Claire’s place… But she’s gone. I don’t know what happened, I feel like panicking is a good option right about now because something bad has probably happened. This place just feels wrong.

[SFX: creaky wooden floor]

JUDITH: Ok, I’ve looked in the bedroom, the other bedroom… bathroom, kitchen, living room… I’ve looked freaking everywhere… I haven’t looked in the basement. [sigh] I don’t want to go down there, I don’t want to go down there. I don’t want to go down there by myself. Holy shit, I hate being in this place alone. [SFX: long pause. Quiet footsteps]

JUDITH: [whispered] Ok, ok. You’re OK, you’re ok, you’re ok, you’re ok, you need to be OK.

[SFX: Padlock being handled, key going in, jiggling]

JUDITH: Come on, open. [SFX: jiggling, popping sound] Ow! Shit, goddamnit!

[SFX: A click as the front door starts to open slowly. The wind starts to pick up, it can be heard as the door starts to bang quietly against the wall]

JUDITH: … I know I closed that door.

[SFX: the door is still banging]

JUDITH: And I know it latched.

[SFX: the door is still banging]

JUDITH: And I locked it. Because I’m holding the key.

[SFX: the banging gets LOUD AND AGGRESSIVE]

JUDITH: O… K… and I think it’s I leave because oh my GO-…

[SFX: door BANGS, wind picks up, JUDITH lets out a yell but it’s cut off. Beep. Studio]

OWEN:[on talkback] Well that was upsetting. I only have one question, though.


OWEN: [talkback] Did you survive?

JUDITH: Regretting my choice in engineer already. [deep breath] Ok, let’s start from the top: My name is Judith Antoni, and my best friend, Claire Sterback, has disappeared. Well, ok, she’s still alive and apparently… fine? But… all this started in mid-2018, when she took possession of a house in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto. We decided, hey, let’s make a fun podcast, maybe some Youtube videos about the renos and the attempted DIY stuff? All the half-assed plans that people make and only keep like, 45% of the time. But… things started to get weird. In all honesty, parts of her life were starting to unravel but… I don’t think that was it. It was the house.

Something is seriously wrong with that place and if I was just coming into this now I’d guess it was radon or carbon monoxide poisoning, or lead paint, or whatever. I would even say she was having some sort of episode, but… that’s not it. Something less rational is the main problem here, and now… Claire is gone. And she’s taken off and now I don’t know what to do. To be honest, it feels like sometime in the interim she become someone else, and I’m worried.

So, in early January 2019, she left the city without even telling me where she was going. She hasn’t returned calls, texts, anything. I know she’s alive because she has reached out to her parents, but like I said, something bigger is going on, and what I hope to do is put together all the bits and pieces and figure out what happened. I’ve got almost all the recordings that were made over the last 6 months, so maybe there’s something I missed. Anything that gives some sort of insight, at this point. I’ll admit, I’ve been lazy with listening back to them in the past. And editing. But whatever. No looking back, … aside for all the looking back I now have to do. I’m going to go over all of this with my friend Owen, and we’re recording so we can keep track of things and so that I have a copy of everything we did and… it means there’s a record of it in case… something happens? [pause] Does that make sense?

OWEN: [talkback] Makes sense to me. When was that recording from?

JUDITH: About a week ago? I went by her place to see if she was there after she stopped responding to texts and the house felt… well, not abandoned, but more than just empty. Like all the life had been sucked out of the place.

OWEN: [talkback] Weird.

JUDITH: After the big gust of wind blew the door open… or whatever… I left. The door slammed behind me and… that was it. Haven’t been back, but I doubt she’s been there anyway.

OWEN: [talkback] So where do you want to start?

JUDITH: Let’s start from the top. The recordings are dated, so let’s start with the earliest ones. Honestly, there’s probably a lot of junk in there.

OWEN: [talkback] No problem. Ok, first recording, August 18th, 2018.

[SFX: beep. Studio]

JUDITH:[brightly] Hello everyone! My name is Judith, and I’m here with producer, pop culture writer, and white wine enthusiast Claire Sterbak to welcome you to the first episode of Yes! In My Backyard, a podcast about making a house a home.

CLAIRE: Hi. I don’t know if I’m a co-host or a guest so, what’s up, all 6 people listening to this.

JUDITH: Hey, this show will be about you and your journey, both as a new and very sudden homeowner, along with your personal one.

CLAIRE: Hang on, what?

JUDITH: I saw that hastily packed suitcase in your office, and I know you’re not going on vacation, and besides, if you do just abandon me with all this work I will come find you. I do CrossFit now so that means that I’m really strong and I will carry you back here.

CLAIRE: That’s not how that works.

JUDITH: Whatever. So anyways… the suitcase. That means…

CLAIRE: [sigh] Adam and I kind of… broke up?

JUDITH: I’m shocked.

CLAIRE: It’s… complicated, ok?

JUDITH: What’s complicated? It’s either I left his overbearing butt in the dust or you had some sort of falling out… hang on, please don’t tell me that Boring Adam got you pregnant. Tell me you’re not pregnant with his tedious baby.

CLAIRE: What? No! I’m NOT pregnant. Also, ew. And can we stop calling him Boring Adam? Look, just because Adam’s…

JUDITH: … so beige that Holiday Inn’s are jealous?

CLAIRE: I… [sigh] I guess that’s not inaccurate. Either way, I don’t really want to talk about it right now. Besides, isn’t this supposed to be a home reno show? Not a “let’s gossip about my breakup with my boring ex-” … damnit, now you have me saying it. Can we also not talk about this in front of other people? You are aware that Owen can hear all of this, right?

OWEN: [talkback] I can pretend like I’m not listening if you’d like.

CLAIRE: Great, thanks. Anyway, is it too late to un-agree to this?

JUDITH: OK, ok, no more Adam talk, I promise. How about we treat this as… a radio documentary. We’re rebuilding a house while you find out about your past. We can journey into the hidden history of your biological family as we literally tear down the walls of the world you never knew. Then if it sucks, you can sell the house for like, $2 million. Then we get drinks. And you can pay.

CLAIRE: I mean… I guess that works. It could be fun?

JUDITH: That’s the spirit!

CLAIRE: Just, don’t make me put up drywall or anything hard. Or garden, I hate gardening. What if the power goes out? Can you just… buy a fuse?

JUDITH: See? It’s a journey.

OWEN: [talkback] Hey, sorry to cut in, but we I have to do some actual work, so unless you want to talk about how much you love your mortgage, I’m going to have to kick you out.

JUDITH: Can we have another min-

CLAIRE: [interrupting] Nope, let’s go.

[SFX: beep. Outside on a patio, sound of a beer being opened and wine being poured and placed on a table]

JUDITH: Ok, so for posterity and so I don’t have to go back and ask a bunch of dumb questions later when fact checking, I’m just going to let the recorder run. I can edit it if we use anything from this file. Let’s start from the beginning. Claire has a house! In Toronto! Like a fancy person! To be more accurate, she apparently inherited a house. Now, this wouldn’t be the weirdest thing in the world, except that – here’s a wild twist – she doesn’t actually know the people she got the house from. So now, while the rest of us are living in overpriced apartments, she can now laugh at us from her giant new house bequeathed to her by complete strangers. I mean, unless you’re lying to me, and your parents died or something and they left you a secret family home.

CLAIRE: My parents are fine. I mean, they’re at each other’s throats since the divorce and are acting like sullen teenagers, like get in loser, we’re going to the lawyer’s office, but no, they’re alive. Apparently this house was left to me by my maternal grandparents. My biological ones.

JUDITH: OK, first off, how? What did you think when you first heard the news? Where is it? How big is it? Are you going to live there?

CLAIRE: Jude. I… well, ok, it’s not a secret that I was adopted.

JUDITH: Yeah, and I know that, but you’ve never made much of a move to find your birth parents. Does your family know about this?

CLAIRE: Uh, well, to be completely honest, I decided I wanted to find my birth parents a couple of years ago, really just to see like, if there were any health things I should worry about, partly because I was just curious? And uh… it took a lot of paperwork, but I finally managed to reach out. Turns out my mother – her name was Dana – had actually died a long time ago, like when I was a little kid. So that’s a dead end, pardon the pun. There was no father listed anywhere, so that’s still a mystery. But, I was able to find some info on her parents after some digging, and it turns out that they wanted to talk to me, which was, y’know, kind of neat? I guess? I’m sorry, I should’ve mentioned this, but I just wasn’t ready to talk about it. It felt like that would make it too real? Anyway, long story short, I ended up calling them.

JUDITH: Wow. How did that go?

CLAIRE: Uh, we only spoke a few times, which makes this whole thing even weirder, but they seemed… nice? I guess? I mean, some random lady contacts them saying that she’s their long lost granddaughter… I can only imagine how weird that would be, but they seemed… quite pleasant about it after we talked for a little bit? Like, surprisingly chill. We talked for awhile, I told them a little about my life, and uh, yeah. In a sort of creepy way, I guess I’m the closest thing they had left to their daughter. Anyway, we spoke a few times on the phone. But one day I tried calling them back and no one answered. I left a message, but I thought, well, that’s that. I just sort of put it out of my mind. But then I got a call from a lawyer and there was an accident and according to their will…

JUDITH: You inherited their house.

CLAIRE: Yeah, looks like it. I’m their only living biological relative, apparently. Everyone else is dead and they only had one kid, and she’s long gone. [pause] That’s weird, right? Like, I don’t really know what to do with that. It’s kind of weird finding out about your biological family only after they all died, y’know? It’s like… you’ve got a lot of questions, but none of them will ever be answered. And now, I have this big dusty house. [pause] I don’t know if I’m ok with recording this.

JUDITH: I know this is big but, I just don’t think you should be too hasty with this, and besides, we can just cut out any of the really bad stuff, like any of this? I can remove it in post.

CLAIRE: Ugh, never say you’ll remove it in post. And Judith, please do not turn this into your wannabe-docudrama podcast B.S. This isn’t S-Town or Serial or whatever.

JUDITH: It’ll be fine. I swear. I swear! Let’s just keep recording. I mean, even if we get rid of all of this, I still want to hear about your uncovering of your history. Want another glass of wine?

CLAIRE: [sigh] I do want another glass of wine, and please keep in mind that I’m not a cheap date.

JUDITH: Excellent! Claire, you won’t regret this. I probably will once I start editing, but whatever. I’ve been meaning to just sit down and make something like this for so long, and now we’ve got a chance to maybe create something really cool.

CLAIRE: Yeah yeah, just give me the wine.

[SFX: beep. Walking down the street in Parkdale, outdoor noises, street sounds, birds, etc.]

CLAIRE: Well, this is it. It’s kind of nice.

JUDITH: Holy moly, this place is amazing. You’ve got a detached house on a corner lot in Parkdale, which is like, finding a diamond in a haystack, if the hay was poorly-constructed condo buildings. With a few updates and some paint this place could be phenomenal.

CLAIRE: I mean, some paint? Judith, the paint is flaking off the brick. It looks like someone chucked a rock through that window. And the front porch is collapsing on one side.

JUDITH: Minor details. For now, let’s focus on the big picture: we’ve got Victorian-inspired bay and gable architecture, stained glass windows, an outdoor space larger than a credit card. You can’t buy that kind of charm.

CLAIRE: Yes you can, because that’s what money is for. I could sell this house right now and someone could buy it and I wouldn’t have to deal with any of this.

JUDITH: No, what you can buy is a poorly constructed glass-walled condo to live in with a boring dude who eats plain oatmeal for breakfast. What? You know I’m right. Besides, a rotten porch… a broken window… it’s a fixer-upper! Plus, just means more stuff for us to work on – all the trials and tribulations and accidentally lopped off fingers.

CLAIRE: For the record, Adam actually eats overnight oats, it’s apparently more nutritious – what am I even talking about? Did I really agree to this?

JUDITH: [confident] For all intents and purposes, yes.

[SFX: dog barks, footsteps – dog and human]

JUDITH: Aw, hello pup!

NEIGHBOUR: Noodles, sit! Hi ladies. Are you looking for the residents? I don’t think anyone currently lives here.

CLAIRE: I guess? Uh…

JUDITH: Do you know anything about the place?

NEIGHBOUR: Well, I mean, it’s been around for as long as I’ve been here. Nice house, but it’s had a… bit of a checkered history.

JUDITH: What? Really?

NEIGHBOUR: Oh, you know. Rumours, old stories. I don’t think anything has happened there in the last while, but, well, some of the kids around here like to tell scary stories about this old place.

JUDITH: Well now I want to know more.

CLAIRE: Yeah, What’s so scary about it?

NEIGHBOUR: Well, it’s a rumour, but… I think this house used to be the site of some weird gatherings. A few people like to say that it’s cursed, which is silly, but I get it. Apparently there have been some bad doings within its walls. This place hasn’t felt right in a long time. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out the old owners were part of some sort of cult.

CLAIRE: Wait, hang on – cult?

NEIGHBOUR: These are just rumours, but some of the history of the place is a bit… dark. There’s a story from a long time ago, back when Parkdale was still its own village, about a murderous scandal at this house.

CLAIRE: Uh, I’m not so sure I want to hear this-

JUDITH: I do. What happened?

NEIGHBOUR: Well, from what I remember, I believe there was a maid who was having an affair with the owner’s eldest son or nephew or whatever, and, surprise, a baby was born from this tryst. Apparently he refused to acknowledge his bastard child, and, as the story goes, the poor girl went mad and-

CLAIRE: O-kay. It’s been really nice talking to you, but we really have to be getting on-

NEIGHBOUR: Hang on, are you looking to buy this place?

JUDITH: Actually, Claire here is the new owner.

NEIGHBOUR: [suddenly suspicious] You don’t work for that damn property developer do you that’s been skulking around the neighbourhood, do you?

JUDITH: Um, no, we definitely don’t.

NEIGHBOUR: He’s an absolute blight on this area. Put my favourite bakery out of business by buying up the building and tripling the rent! Now it’s empty, collecting dust, just waiting to be taken over by some chain business. There’s no respect these days for small businesses.

JUDITH: Well we’ll do our best to keep the character of the house and the neighbourhood, right Claire?

[SFX: dog barks]

NEIGHBOUR: Seems like Noodles here is getting impatient. It was nice speaking to you. But, ladies-


NEIGHBOUR: You might want to do your research about this house. It has… a history, and I’ve been here long enough see the shadows that can cast. [SFX: dog bark] Yes, yes, we’re still going to the lake, Noodles. Well, bye for now, have a nice day! [SFX: they walk away, long silence]

JUDITH: Well, I’m going to go in.

CLAIRE: Judith, wait –

[SFX: Sounds of steps as Judith heads up to the house and a key in a lock. A door opens]

JUDITH: Jeez, look at this place. It’s stunning.

[SFX: footsteps on hardwood]

CLAIRE: I mean, I guess for an apparent cult house it’s ok, but like… it’s full of spider webs and old junk…

[SFX: footsteps, rustling, general noise]

JUDITH: [distant] Looks like they had pretty decent taste in furniture, what is this, a regency sofa?

CLAIRE: I feel like I’m trespassing.

JUDITH: I mean, technically it’s your place.

CLAIRE: Yeah, but like… I don’t know these people. I don’t know this house. I don’t even know why they bothered to leave it to me. They just were like, “Hey, grandchild we don’t know, want some property that you now have to figure out how to pay taxes on?” Kinda rude, when you think about it.

JUDITH: I mean, if it’s a total mess, you can always sell the place, but for now, let’s just see if it’s worth keeping. It’s not like you now have a million dollar mortgage. You lucked out!

CLAIRE: I guess you’re right. Man, there’s a lot of dust. Looks like no one’s been in here for a while.

JUDITH: The bedroom is empty, just the bed is left, no sheets.

CLAIRE: Apparently someone who lived here liked… Danielle Steele novels? Come on.

JUDITH: Good lord, the wallpaper upstairs is ugly, did you see th-

[SFX: distant thud]

CLAIRE: What the hell was that?

JUDITH: I don’t know.

CLAIRE: Is something in here?

JUDITH: It’s an old house… it was probably just… pipes?

[SFX: Pause. Another loud thud, but this time it’s more incessant]

CLAIRE: Where is that coming from?

JUDITH: I think there’s a basement door over there, but I’m sure it’s nothing?

[SFX: Thuds continue]

CLAIRE: I don’t think I want to go down there.

JUDITH: We can just… flick the light on and poke our heads down. Besides don’t you want to investigate – what did that lady say again? – the dark shadows cast by history. OoooOOooOo, the horror.

[SFX: Static pop on recording, recording starts to become distorted over only Claire]

CLAIRE: I really, really don’t. I want to leave.

JUDITH: [breezy but nervous] Oh come on – I bet that she was just bored and wanted to mess with the new neighbour. The noise was probably just a draft or something.

CLAIRE: [flat] A draft.


CLAIRE: In the basement.

JUDITH: It’s not outside the realm of possibility! Maybe there’s a broken window and something got in.

CLAIRE: Please, please just… don’t open that door. Judith!

JUDITH: It’s fine! [SFX: Judith jiggles the knob and yelps] Shit!

CLAIRE: Are you OK?

JUDITH: It was hot. Does anything smell like it’s burning? Jesus, I guess it must’ve been getting a lot of sun on it or something. Ow ow ow. Ok, lightswitch doesn’t work and I’m not going into a dark basement. That was weird with the handle though. Stupid old metal hardware.

[SFX: Knock on the door.]

CLAIRE: … was that a knock on the front door?

JUDITH: Ok, this is getting kind of weird-

CLAIRE: Getting??

[SFX: More knocking]

JUDITH: I guess we better… answer it.

CLAIRE: I… ok, ok I’ll get it.

[SFX: footsteps, door opening]

AUSTIN BIRD: Well, hello, beautiful! Is your mother home?

CLAIRE: Excuse me?

BIRD: I mean no one this young and lovely could own such a house – I kid, I kid. You must be Claire!

CLAIRE: Uh, how do you know who I am?

BIRD: Oh, let’s just say I pay attention to the tweeting of the birds in the neighbourhood. [laughs] Actually, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m a developer and real estate agent and I heard a rumour that ownership of the house had recently been transferred… I must say, this place is gorgeous.

CLAIRE: Thanks. I guess? Can I help you with something? I’m kind of in the middle of-

BIRD: Oh, and this must be your gorgeous sister? I guess “luminous” runs in the family! Hello ladies. I’m Bird. Austin Bird. Please, take my card.

JUDITH: [reading] A… Bird. Realtor. Property Developer – your name is really “A” Bird?

BIRD: It’s Austin. Austin Bird. You’ve heard of me, of course.

CLAIRE & JUDITH: Uhhhhhhh…

BIRD: [incredulous] A. Bird. No one makes a nest like A. Bird? I’m sure you’ve seen my billboards. And of course, my properties – I’m working on a condo development not far from here.

CLAIRE: Um, I’m sorry, but I don’t know who you are.

BIRD: Well, never you mind. You know me now, and I’m sure this is the start of a beautiful friendship. I’ve had my bird’s eye on this property for years! It’s just chock-a-block full of potential!

JUDITH: I’m sorry, who says “chock-a-block”?

BIRD: So, Claire, my darling. What do you think? Are we going to do it?

CLAIRE: Do what?

BIRD: Sell this house and make you a fortune, of course!

CLAIRE: Actually, uh, Mr. Bird-

BIRD: LISTEN! Property rates have soared over the last few years. It’s a seller’s market, and you, my dear, are a SELLER, and the best kind of seller – the kind with a highly valuable property. Honestly, you couldn’t have picked a better time in history to sell a house in beautiful Toronto.

JUDITH: [cutting in] HEY, OK, GREAT, that’s cool, that’s enough. Thank you for coming by and for your card. Claire isn’t planning to sell at this time, but, if that changes, we’ll call you or something. Now, if you’ll excuse us-

BIRD: Look, if you’ll just give me a moment, I can give my appraiser a ring and he’ll be here in a jiff-

CLAIRE: Thank you for your offer, but we’ve got to be going.

BIRD: Well, Claire. I do believe you’ll change your mind.

CLAIRE: Look, just leave.

BIRD: Claire – can I call you Claire?


BIRD: My dear-

CLAIRE: That’s worse.

BIRD: Let’s make another appointment. Are you around next Thursday?

CLAIRE: Another ap-… we never even made a first appointment! You just showed up! Look, I’m not selling.

BIRD: I think you’re making a mistake.

JUDITH: I think you’re making a bigger mistake by not leaving.

BIRD: Well, I can see when I’m not wanted. I’ll bid you adieu for now, ladies. I’m sure we’ll see each other around the neighbourhood.

CLAIRE: Yeah, not if I can help it.

BIRD: Have a lovely day.

CLAIRE: Yeah, ok, thanks.

[SFX: Door closing, locking.]

JUDITH: What a tool. Seriously, what was his deal? He looked 35 but talked like a damn Dickens character. And there’s no way his name is really A. Bird.

CLAIRE: Did you notice he was wearing an ascot?

JUDITH: Oh my God, you’re right. Well, now I’ve upgraded him from tool to entire toolshed.

CLAIRE: You know what? I’ve had enough cult house weirdness for the day. I need some air, this place is giving me the [static] heebie-jeebies. Turn that thing off. Let’s go grab a beer.

[SFX: beep. They’re on a patio at a crowded bar]

CLAIRE: Sorry, I know we barely got to look around. We can go back later, it’s just… I don’t know.

JUDITH: Nah, it’s cool. That was odd. How about next time, before we go back in, we’ll do a check around the perimeter for any broken windows or whatever, and we’ll make sure that stuff is boarded up so no other random things get in.

CLAIRE: Yeah, sounds good.


CLAIRE: Yeah, no, I’m good. It’s just… it’s been a lot lately, y’know? I’d just barely started figuring out my family and then next thing you know I’m dealing with this giant house and I’ve been fighting with Adam and… I’m just feeling overwhelmed lately, I guess. Maybe it’s just stress, but that house just… gave me a bad feeling, if that makes sense?

JUDITH: Yeah, and I get it. I know things have been kind of weird lately, y’know, Adam’s a little odd. I had a bad feeling last time I went on a double date with you and Adam and he wondered why buttered noodles aren’t an option at restaurants in the city. That was a big red flag for me.

CLAIRE: [sigh] That was one of the more awkward dinners of my life. Did you end up seeing Rebecca again?

JUDITH: Nope. Like, she was nice and all, but the date was just kind of a dud. Besides, she was too enthusiastic about Adam’s love of buttered noodles, so it’s probably for the best. I’m in no rush, though. I’ve got like… five family weddings coming up, so I’m probably going to want to be single forever after all those. Anyway, feel any better?

CLAIRE: Yeah, I’m ok. I’m fine. It’s just… the house, Adam, work…

JUDITH: Do you want to talk about it?

CLAIRE: No. Not right now, anyway. I do want snacks, though.

JUDITH: Yeah, let’s do that, uh, there’s nacho poutine-… hang on a second; I think I hit the record on the Zoom and it’s been running this whole time.

CLAIRE: Goddamnit, don’t use this anywhere, OK?

JUDITH: Yeah, no worries.

[SFX: beep. Claire’s living room]

JUDITH:[a little bit drunk] Hello, dear listeners. We have an update for you. After… two or three… maybe, five rounds at the bar? Claire and I have decided to face her fears and have a slumber party in her probably haunted cult house of endless nightmares!

CLAIRE: Yes, because we are independent and capable adult women. Having a slumber party.

JUDITH: Yes and it’s way better than when we were kids because we have booze.

CLAIRE: Cheers to that. [SFX: glasses clink]

JUDITH: So we’ve been exploring.

CLAIRE: We didn’t go back in the basement, not in the frickin’ dark.

JUDITH: Claire doesn’t like basements, they are too scary.

CLAIRE: BASEMENTS ARE LIKE HAVING A TOMB IN YOUR HOUSE THAT ARE FULL OF JUNK INSTEAD OF BODIES. Besides, it’s so cold down there, when we finally got the door open it was like a fridge.

JUDITH: Yeah, and the light on the staircase doesn’t work, so whatever. I’m perfectly ok with not exploring an unfinished mystery basement in the pitch black because it smells a little like an old drainage ditch down there. We locked the door though, so hopefully the rats or whatever’s down there don’t have keys. Can ghosts carry around keys?

CLAIRE: They can have chains, like… that guy from the Christmas one… Ichabod?

JUDITH: Ichabod Crane is from The Headless Horseman, you dope. You’re thinking of the Ghost of Christmas Past.

CLAIRE: No, that’s just some person. It was like his business partner. He was super rich and evil and stuff.

JUDITH: Yes, listeners, here’s what you should know: turns out the ultimate evil is capitalism.

CLAIRE: Eat the rich and throw their ascots in the fire!

JUDITH: Yes, and make sure they don’t come back as ghosts.

CLAIRE: You know, there may be no ethical consumption under capitalism, but there is plenty of consumption of this margarita happening, so top me up, please.

JUDITH: Anyway, we’re saving the basement for another day, possibly for sweeps week. We did, however, find some weird crap lying around the place. Tell whoever’s listening about the weird crap, Claire!

CLAIRE: Well there’s like, a bunch of furniture that was all dusty and covered in sheets…

JUDITH: But it’s all made from actual wood, so we also know that they were too fancy for IKEA.

CLAIRE: Boomers, am I right?

JUDITH: Wait, wouldn’t your grandparents be the ones before boomers?

CLAIRE: Oh, maybe… What are they called again?

JUDITH: The… uh… big boomers.

CLAIRE: Wow, ok, one of us needs to crack a history book. Speaking of – so we found some books and stuff around. Nothing too wild, some old novels, uh… couple of random notebooks with some diary entries, I think? Not sure, we haven’t looked too closely. And we did find a box of photos and some albums tucked away in a desk!

JUDITH: I want to see if you look like any of these people.

CLAIRE: So we’ve got an old family photo album. It’s filled with pictures of this older couple and a little girl… From the clothes, it looks like the 60s. There are photos of them in front of St. Lawrence Market, at the park, at a concert… I think my birth mom has got to be the little girl, which would make the adults my bio grandparents, but here’s the weird thing: in a few of these photos there are people in the background. We think it might be the same people? It’s hard to tell. The reason we can’t is that their faces have been burned out. It looks like someone went through the album and used a cigarette or something to obliterate them.

JUDITH: VERY SPOOKY. It’s very spooky. It’s like we’re in an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark. That show scared me out as a kid, to be honest.


JUDITH: Anyway, tell them about the other thing!

CLAIRE: Right. OK, so there’s two bedrooms, a bathroom, and an office upstairs. But then, we found this door-

JUDITH: And it goes up to an attic bedroom! Very mysterious.

CLAIRE: It’s not really that mysterious, but there’s pink carpet and this super 80s wallpaper trim that’s pink and electric blue. The whole thing is ugly as hell. Judith, being the impulsive troublemaker that she is, decided it would be a good idea to start ripping it down-

JUDITH: Look, if we’re going to renovate, we’re going to start with any sort of hideous wallpaper. But that’s not the important part. What was interesting was what was behind it, and behind it was some kind of weird messed-up occult-y writing! It’s all OVER the walls.

CLAIRE: I mean, we don’t know that it’s occult. It’s really just weird graffiti.

JUDITH: It looks super spooky and I’m pretty sure it’s written in spooky Latin. Which is occult. And spooky.

CLAIRE: Would you stop saying spooky? Anyway. I mean, I don’t know, maybe my birth mom just went through a… poorly executed Wiccan phase…

JUDITH: [impersonating a teenager] Ooooh, I hate mom and dad! They made me stop worshipping Baal!

CLAIRE: It’s weird! I know it’s just gibberish, but it’s… creepy.

JUDITH: You’re creepy. You’re the one descended from occultists.

CLAIRE: Teenage occultists with bad interior design taste.

JUDITH: You know what though? That’s not the most important thing right now.

CLARE: Wait what? What’s the most important thing right now?

JUDITH: Tequila.

CLAIRE: [laughs] You’re ridiculous.

JUDITH: You love it.

[SFX: beep. Studio.]

JUDITH: So, uh, I think that’s it.

OWEN: [talkback] That’s not it, it keeps going.


OWEN: [talkback] There’s like, a bunch of silence, and then a little bit more audio right at the end. It’s really short, maybe it’s just something you accidentally recorded?

JUDITH: Maybe? Play it.

[SFX: beep]

[SFX: There is the sound of floorboards creaking, slowly getting closer, coming upstairs. A door handle jiggles, then a pause, then a click can be heard. Slowly, a door opens. You can hear light snoring near the tape recorder, so Claire and Judith are obviously drunk and asleep. There’s a horrible dragging and breathing sound under the static. Then it stops. All you can hear is the breathing. A woman’s voice can be heard. There is more distortion on the recorder as she speaks]

WOMAN: [whisper] welcome home claire

[SFX: beep]

OWEN: [tb] Hmmm.

JUDITH: [quietly] That… was weird.

OWEN: Maybe someone was talking in their sleep? Or there’s some sort of issue with the file? Just give me a second, I’m going to play a different clip and see if anything’s wrong with that.

JUDITH: Uh, yeah, sure, go ahead.

[SFX: beep]

JUDITH: [old recording] Hello! So we’ve picked out a bunch of wallpaper samples, and I think we’re going to do the wall going down the stairs with like… maybe a fern print? Is that too on-trend? Will that look dated?

[SFX: beep]

JUDITH: I hate the sound of my own voice.

OWEN: Everyone does. Hang on, I’m going to play it again.

[SFX: beep]

JUDITH: [old recording, little distorted] Hello, so we’ve picked out a bunch of samples, and I think we’re going to do the wall going down the stairs with a print? Will that look dated?

[SFX: beep]

JUDITH: [pause] Huh. Owen, can you play that again?

[SFX: beep]

JUDITH: [old recording, more distorted] Hello. We’ve picked out a bunch of wallpaper samples, and I think we’re going to do the wall going downstairs.

[SFX: beep]

JUDITH: Is that the same recording?

OWEN: I haven’t changed it, I’m playing it from the same spot.

JUDITH: Again, play it again.

[SFX: beep]

JUDITH: [old recording, distorted] Hello. We’re going down- stairs. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello.

[SFX: beep]

OWEN: What the hell…

JUDITH: What the hell was that?

OWEN: Well it wasn’t me.

JUDITH: If that wasn’t you, then what was that?

[SFX: beep]

OWEN: Uh, Judith? I’m not playing this.

JUDITH: [distorted] Hello. Hello. HELLO

[SFX: beep]