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My grandpa, a retired homicide detective, told me about one last case before he passed

Case 1 | Case 2 | Case 3 | Case 4 | Case 5 | Case 6 | Case 7

Hey everyone. Very sorry for the extended absence. I’m sorry to inform you all that my grandfather passed on December 30th, 2019. On Christmas night, after a fantastic, lively day with his entire family, his health took a drastic downturn. He passed while we were all over at he and my grandma’s house, preparing for New Years Eve. I know he was happy to go with all of us around, it’s what he always said he wanted.

Let me also say that the time my grandpa and I spent over the past few months, sharing his stories here on r/NoSleep, interacting with everyone, I can’t overstate how happy this all made him. You helped make some very difficult months just that much easier for a sick man, and my grandpa appreciated each and every one of you.

So, we did speak with a detective in Colorado about a couple’s unusual experiences in a cabin in the blizzardous mountains of Pikes Peak, but I thought it might be more appropriate to share the final case my grandpa himself regaled to me. After the last weeks of pre and post-funeral goings on, I’ve finally transcribed the case he told me about on the 24th of December.

—–

I had a good career, you know? These weird cases were few and far between, and when i wasn’t chasing my tail looking for clues that wouldn’t lead anywhere even if I found them, I feel like I really made a difference. Scary as hell, sometimes…yeah…but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Your…your grandmother…there’s…ah, I don’t know. I don’t wanna scare you. I’ve been putting this one off since I started telling you about these damn cases. 

[My grandpa was very apprehensive about sharing this particular case, moreso than any of the others. When he said he didn’t want to scare me, I suggested that with everything he’d already told me, the chances of that were slim. Even still, he was particularly worried that the contents of the case would affect me. Nevertheless, I assured my grandpa I would be fine, and he begrudgingly continued.]

Alright…well, god…this one hits home. So by the time I made detective, I’d been with your grandmother for a while, a long time. In 19…81? Maybe’80, one of the two, my partner and I caught one. Now, this wasn’t immediately apparent as being an Impossible One. There were little hints of odd things, but…

[I could tell my grandpa was questioning whether or not to continue telling me about this case.]

So, the case was a double homicide at a real nice apartment building downtown, you know, a high rise, overlooking the lake, all that. Now, the apartment belonged to a man and his wife, I remember the man’s name was Scott, Scott something. Scott was one of the two victims. He’d been…ah…I don’t wanna be gratuitous, your folks on the website don’t need to hear all the nasty business. 

But…okay, picture someone laying down on their back, arms at their sides. Starting at the tip of his right shoulder and going diagonally downwards to the bottom of his left elbow, he’d been cut. I don’t mean someone had slashed him with a knife. I mean…god…he’d been cut clean through, like someone took a giant axe and hit him at that angle.

He’d been cut there, and then from his right hip to just above his left knee, and then again from his right knee to his left ankle. The cuts were so clean that we didn’t realize at first he’d been vivisected. He was wearing a suit and tie, and the cuts were so clean that he just looked like a normal dead body in a pool of blood. You can imagine our surprise when the coroner’s went to move the body and he fell into a whole bunch of pieces…shit.

So…uh…yeah, there was another body. Scott was married, but the body wasn’t his wife’s. It was this…ah…this, this old lady, must’ve been in her 90’s. Nothing was done to her, she was determined to have died from natural causes. We initially thought maybe the wife had been abducted, and, you know, of course we had to look at her for the death of her husband, but…

This old lady, she’d been reported missing from a nursing home the day before, a nursing home in…shit where was it…Sunset…Sunrise. Sunrise, Florida. We spoke to the staff over the phone, and there was one nurse there, she’d just walked this woman back to her room and given her her medications. She was supposed to mark down on a form when she’d last taken her meds, but she’d left her pen in the common area just outside the room. She stepped out for about five seconds, as she put it, and when she stepped back in, lady was gone. Vanished into thin air.

That was at about 4:00PM. Meanwhile, about 4:15PM, maybe 5 minutes away from the nursing home, a woman was detained after behaving erratically, taken to a mental health facility. That woman was Scott’s wife. She’d been at work that day, and towards the end of the day she disappeared, everyone thought she’d left the office early for the day. She didn’t buy a plane ticket, a bus ticket, a hot air balloon ride, her car was still in the parking garage at her office building.

They’d just…switched places, kind of. Not an exact switch though. We don’t know how the old lady ended up in Scott and his wife’s apartment. Oh…and Scott’s wife, Amanda! That was her name…Amanda. She’d been picked up screaming at the top of her lungs, but after that, she went catatonic. Completely, stone cold catatonic. God…damnit…

Ah…so the whole thing is strange, unexplainable, all that. You know by now how these things go. But…shit, ah…this one though. We, uh…we start going through the apartment, trying to figure out who these people are; I mean, we know who they are, but…you know, trying to figure out what might have led to this point. 

My partner happens upon some photo albums, and…ah…[my grandpa started tearing up at this point, and had to take a few moments to collect himself]…he finds some photo albums, and there’s pictures of, uh…of us. Of me and your grandma. Pictures from our wedding, from games we’d gone to, the first picture we took when we bought our first house together…even pictures from when we were kids, long before we knew each other.

I’m trying to reason it out. I think maybe Scott or his wife is someone your grandma knows, or someone in the family knows. But it’s only pictures of us, no one else in the family. And your grandma didn’t have any clue who they were. It was all logged into evidence, we kept working the case. Never figured out who killed Scott and…and we never figured out how he was cut so cleanly. Doesn’t even seem possible.

Anyways…about a year after that, your grandmother and I are sitting at the dinner table…your mother too…and the phone rings. Your grandma gets up and answers it, and…and uh…fuck…you know, she says ‘hello’, and the color just drains from her face, like she saw a ghost. Then she bursts out in tears, just…hysterical sobbing, and you know your grandma, she’s a strong woman, the strongest.

I get up and take the phone from her, and it’s just a dial tone. I kept asking her, “who was it? Who was it?”, and she just cried and cried and cried. I asked what whoever it was said, and she just shook her head. She’s never told me what was said on that phone call, even to this day. She wouldn’t tell me who it was, either, for a while. 

About a month after the call, it was the middle of the night, and…you know that feeling you get, like you’re being watched? I remember I felt that, except I was asleep. I opened my eyes and your grandmother was standing on my side of the bed, just staring down at me. I didn’t know how long she’d been there, but I damn near pissed myself. “…the hell you doing, Pat?” I ask her, and she just looks at me and says “It was Amanda on the phone.”

After she said that, she took these weird, choppy steps back to her side of the bed, like she was only moving one part of her body at a time to get where she was going. Her toes, then her foot, then her leg, and so on and so forth. It was goddamn…[my grandpa tears up again]…it was goddamn horrifying.

I didn’t go back to sleep that night. The next morning, when your grandma woke up, she had no memory of it happening. When I asked her if the person who had called her a month earlier had been named Amanda, she got real worked up and said she didn’t want to talk about it, and then she…she got sick…physically sick. Ran to the bathroom, threw up. 

Then that night…I woke up again in the middle of the night and your grandma was outta bed. The light in the hall was on, and the stairs to the attic were down. I went up there, and your grandma was…she was sleeping on the floor of the attic, and it looked like she’d gone through a bunch of boxes. There was a whole bunch of stuff we’d stored up there all thrown around, and she…she was sleeping next to some photo albums. Most of them were our old ones, but there was one, and…it was pictures of Scott and Amanda, from their wedding day, from when they were kids.

There was no reason we should’ve had it, and the album was in with a bunch of stuff we hadn’t touched in years. I woke your grandma up, and she didn’t remember going up there.

By that point I was obviously onto different cases, and this one was just filed in with the other Impossible Ones. But…and I didn’t notice this until years later…every year on May 12th, your grandmother gets sick. Real sick. It’s gotten worse as the years have gone by. Remember last year, when she was in the hospital for a few days, dehydrated? It was that.

May 12th is Amanda’s birthday. 

I’ve gone over everything more times than I can remember. Hundreds of times, trying to find a connection. There isn’t one. The closest thing to a connection between us and them that I could find was that my dad’s brother, Alfred, he owned an apartment building on the eastside where one of…shit it was one of them…I think it was one of Scott’s great aunt’s had rented, something really far back and really meaningless.

I’ve told you about a lot of these, and I know I’ve said that one or another was “the one”, the one I could never get out of my head, the one that still, after all these years, really…really gets to me. But this one…this is the one. This is the one that I still look into every year. I call over to the precinct and see if they’ve come across anything new…of course they never have.

Your mother…she…she’s connected to it too, some way. I’ll let you ask her about it though, or your grandma. But I’ll bet she’s not going to want to talk about it. You can…

[My grandpa went into a coughing fit and said he was done for the night, and that he didn’t want to talk about the case anymore.]

—–

On December 30th, while we were all at my grandparent’s house, my grandfather was quite sick, but he’d mustered up all the energy he could so as not to drag the evening down. He was always thoughtful like that. We would’ve been happy to spend time with him in his room, if that’s what was needed, but he refused. He wanted to be up and helping and talking and enjoying the night with all of us.

At around 9pm, the phone rang. He was sitting in a chair in the kitchen, and he reached over to the desk behind him and grabbed the cordless phone. He said ‘hello’, and as soon as he did, I saw the color drain from his face. His lip started quivering and his eyes welled up with tears.

I quickly grabbed the phone from him and put it to my ear, but there was nothing but the three tones the generally accompany the “We’re sorry, but your call cannot be completed as dialed” message, repeating over and over. I looked to my grandpa and asked if he was okay. He simply looked at me and said “It was Amanda on the phone”.

And with that, my grandfather took a look around the room, sat back in his chair, and passed on to the hereafter.

When all of the funeral and will business was completed, I used the information my grandpa had given me in this case to reach out to a relative of Amanda, her sister Anne. I explained that I knew reaching out to the mental health facility she was at would be useless, as they couldn’t and wouldn’t divulge any information nor allow me to speak with her.

Anne informed me that her sister had died just over four years earlier.

And despite there being several people in the house, all of whom acknowledged hearing the phone ring, the phone records showed that my grandparent’s home didn’t receive a call anywhere near 9pm on December 30th, 2019.

I think of all the Impossible Cases my grandpa ever worked, this is the one that truly haunted him the most. In his honor, I’m going to continue his “tradition” of reaching out to his old precinct every year to see if any new developments have arisen.

For now, I know that wherever my grandpa is, he’s regaling anyone else who will listen with the stories of an honorable life well lived.

 

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They say the snuff film industry doesn’t exist. It does. [Part 2]

My brother stood up and stormed out of the house. I listened as his car started and peeled out of the driveway. I apologized to the cops, who told me not to worry about it.

“We were telling your brother, your parents, they uh, looks like there wasn’t any pain.” the tall cop said.

“Where did it happen?” I asked.

“On the parkway. That long stretch of road, nothing but trees, no lights.”

I stood still. I just couldn’t believe it.

“You were at your friend’s house last night, yeah?” he asked.

I looked up.

“Your brother mentioned it.”

“Oh…yeah. My friend Ryan.”

“Do you have somewhere you can go?” the short cop asked, trying to draw attention away from his partner’s callousness.

I knew that my aunt and uncle (my mom’s brother and his wife) were the ones who would get custody of my brother and I if anything happened to my parents. Since my brother was 19, he wasn’t made to go there, but there were a lot worse places I could’ve ended up.

“Yeah, my aunt and uncles.” I said.

“Is that…Richard and Jennifer?” the tall cop read from a notepad.

“Yeah.” I choked back tears.

“Alright, well…give them a call, okay? Some official stuff will need to happen, but you just take it easy for now.”

I nodded. The officers walked past me, with the short one placing a hand on my shoulder.

“You’ll get through this.” he said.

All I could do was nod. I stood in place, unsure of what to do or where to go. At that moment, the store, the videos, they were the farthest thing from my mind.

“Video West…that’s your folks place, yeah?” I heard the tall cop say from behind me. I spun around.

“Uh, yeah.” I muttered.

“You spend a lot of time up there? I know I would, I was your age.”

“I haven’t been there in a while. They said it was a place of business, not a place to hang out.”

“Hmm. Take care, son.”

The tall cop turned back around left.

I didn’t want to call my aunt and uncle right away and deal with everything that would come with that, so I tried calling Alex, but got no answer. Next on my list was Ryan. He was able to borrow his mom’s car and drove over. A short time later, he walked into my house. I was sitting in the living room, in the same spot my brother had been not long before.

He walked right past me and started up the stairs before I called for him.

“What are you doing down here?” he asked.

“My parents are dead.” I blurted out. I figured there was no sugarcoating it.

“What…the fuck? Really?” he asked, incredulous.

“Really. Cops left like 20 minutes ago.”

“Shit dude…I’m sorry.”

“Car accident.” 

“Man…I don’t know what to say. I’m so sorry, Nick.”

I paused for a moment.

“You know what I keep thinking?” I asked. Ryan didn’t answer, instead just waiting for me to continue. “They got in a car accident coming home from the store in the middle of the night, and they were there in the middle of the night because I called the cops.”

“You can’t think like that, man. It’s not your fault.” my friend offered.

I don’t know if it was out of need for a distraction or grief giving me an odd boost, but I suddenly stood up.

“Let’s go to the store.” I declared.

“What? No. Why? We don’t have to do that shit anymore, dude.” Ryan objected.

“I want to. We don’t even need to sneak in. We can just…you know, go. Let’s get that proof.”

“….if you’re sure, yeah, I guess let’s go.”

We got into Ryan’s mom’s car and drove to Video West. I still had both keys in my pocket, and I rubbed them together nervously in place of conversing with my friend. Once we arrived, I walked to the front door and slid the key in, and once I was inside I shut the security system off.

Ryan and I quickly walked through the store and headed straight downstairs. The stairway seemed even gloomier somehow, the cobwebs fuller, the walls a darker gray. We made our way into the basement, the contents of which, boxes, cardboard cutouts, rolled up posters, had been rearranged. 

We felt around the wall, finding the section that depressed when we pushed on it. After finding the edge, we pulled back, revealing the hidden area.

But it was empty.

The hidden alcove was nothing but four gray walls and a matching floor and ceiling. No boxes of videos, no TV/VCR combo, nothing. 

I felt defeated. I didn’t even know what my plan was once I got a tape, but knowing that I wouldn’t be able to get one, it hurt. I hung my head in submission. Looking back, I think I expected that getting proof of the murder videos was going to somehow make my parents’ death mean something, that I was going to honor them somehow by exposing what was happening at their store, which, perhaps due to the fog of bereavement, I decided there was no way they were a part of.

Ryan and I replaced the wall and walked upstairs.

“Sorry, man.” Ryan offered. “But hey, at least there’s not murder videos in your store anymore.”

“Yeah.” I said without any kind of emotion behind it. “I wonder what’s gonna happen to the store now.”

We walked through the doors into the main area of the store. Just as we did, the front door, which I’d failed to lock behind us when we came in, swung open, and two men walked in.

“I’m sorry, we’re not open.” Ryan announced.

The men continued perusing the aisle.

“HEY.” my friend said with some more force behind his voice. It got the men’s attention. “We’re not open.”

“You aren’t the people who’re usually here.” one of the men said. He wore a blue button-down shirt with jeans, and had his dark brown hair slicked back.

“No, we’re not.” Ryan explained “They’re not in today.”

“Then why are you here?” the other man abruptly asked. He was shorter, but more solidly built than the other man.

“My parents own this place.” I said. “They, uh…won’t be coming back. I don’t know why I’m here, just thought I’d come check on the place. I don’t know.”

The men looked at each other, then back at us. 

“Won’t be coming back?” the taller one asked.

‘Yeah…” I started. “They…”

“Jesus dude, the fuckin’ store is closed, I’m sorry. We’re figuring everything out. Next time you come back we should be good to go.” Ryan interjected, something I was grateful for.

The men headed towards the door, and just as the taller man walked through, the shorter man stopped and turned around.

“Very sorry for your loss.” he said, and in retrospect I should’ve seen the venom dripping off his tongue. I didn’t realize it back then, but the way the man said it, there was more than a simple condolence behind his words.

“Fuckin’ asshole.” Ryan said.

I stood there, in the middle of the video store my parents had dedicated their lives to.

The video store my friend and I had snuck into the night before.

The video store we’d seen a collection of murder videos in.

—–

Years passed. I had moved in with my aunt and uncle after the funeral, and my brother had too, but like everyone else, I rarely saw him.

I resented him for that. With our parents gone, I needed my big brother more than ever, but he was nowhere to be found. For as rarely as he answered his phone, it was even more seldom that he was at the house outside of the hours of 3AM and 7AM, when he would sometimes come home to sleep. As time passed, I saw him less and less, to the point that in the last three years, I’ve only laid eyes on my brother three times.

Our parent’s life insurance policy paid out to my brother and I an amount of money that was substantially more than I would’ve expected from two people who owned a video store in the mid-2000’s. It wasn’t an extravagant or unbelievable amount of money, but it was enough to lay a solid foundation. 

I made a series of smart investments based on the advice of my aunt, who’d had a long career as a CPA. Over the years I was able to quadruple my inheritance, and because I lived with them rent free, plus the fact that I had a job, I was able to accumulate an amount of money to where I could live comfortably. My brother, as far as I knew, blew through his money very quickly.

I had remained friends with Ryan. He helped me through the roughest time in my life, and the events of the video store and the murder video faded into pockets in the very backs of our memories. We’d brought it up a few times, but what could we do? Video West had been bequeathed to my aunt and uncle, who managed to keep it open for a little over a year, but the advent of Netflix and Redbox eventually made the store unfeasible. 

My uncle eventually sold the property to a business, but nothing was ever done with the building. It just sat there collecting dust and being beaten down by weather and a lack of maintenance. Whenever I drove past it, it brought back recollections both good and bad, and it saddened me that a place I once treasured so much had become a worn down, dilapidated, faded memory of a building.

—–

That brings us to about a year ago.

I was 26, and Ryan and I had grown tired of the same three bars in our small town, and at that time had been travelling to the nearby city whenever we felt like going out. On that night, we were at a bar we’d discovered a few weeks earlier playing pool. As I lined up the cue to hit the 4 ball into a side pocket, Ryan started tapping me on my shoulder.

“Dude, Nick, dude.”

“What, what, what?” I bit back, probably sounding more annoyed than I actually was.

“Look.” Ryan pointed towards the bar at the front of the establishment.

I looked over, trying to figure out what he was pointing to. And then I saw.

It was the man who’d offered me his condolences at the store the day I found out my parents died. I stood there for a few moments, emotions flooding through me like waves in a storm. Years of therapy, however, helped me to maintain my composure. I simply looked at the man as he leaned on the bartop, his head craned up so as to see the basketball game playing on ESPN.

I might’ve ignored it entirely. I might’ve not even given it a second thought; the man was of no consequence to me, I hadn’t seen him in years, and I really didn’t even know who he was, just that I got a bad vibe from him. I might’ve just ignored it, but then someone walked out of the bathroom. This person exited the bathroom and walked up next to the man from the store, patting him on the shoulder as he leaned against the bartop. As this person leaned against the bar, the bartender came from the kitchen and set a few bags of food in front of them. This person handed the bartender money, and gave a motion that told the bartender to keep the change.

The man from the store and this person each did a shot that had been sitting on the bar the entire time. This person picked up the bags of food, gave a knowing, familiar handshake to the bartender, and the two of them started for the door.

This person was my brother, whom I hadn’t seen nor talked to in nearly three years.

I was stuck for a moment, frozen in place, leaned halfway over the pool table. He looked different. I don’t know if it was his clothes, his haircut, the way he carried himself, but something was different about him. As they stepped out the door, something clicked in me and I dropped the pool cue on the table and started for the door without saying a word to Ryan, who just knew to follow.

We made our way outside, just in time to see my brother and the other man get into a Maserati, my brother into the driver’s seat. I decided to try to call Alex. I saw the glow of his phone cast a dim light in the car, then I saw that light go away at the same time I heard “you have reached the voicemail box of…”, and then I saw them drive off.

I was in a particularly sour mood thereafter, now having more questions than ever with regards to my brother. I drowned that mood out with a series of shots and mixed drinks from the bar. When it came time to leave, despite neither of us being in a position to drive, we decided Ryan was better suited to it than I was, and he took us back to our town.

As we neared my neighborhood, I suddenly got the urge to make a pit stop. 

“Go to the store.” I said to Ryan.

“Alright. What do you need? You wanna just get McDonalds or something?” he replied.

“The video store.” 

“Whaaat? No, dude. Why?” he asked.

“I just wanna check it out.”

“It’s been sitting there for what, like 10 years, 11 years, whatever. It’ll probably collapse on us.” he argued.

“It’ll be fine.” I was insistent. If he wouldn’t have stopped, I would’ve immediately left my house in my own car once we got back and gone alone.

“What are you gonna do, break a window?”

“If I have to, who gives a shit?” I started. “And who knows, maybe the key will still work.”

I pulled my keyring from my pocket and held it by one gold key, the copy I’d made all those years ago.

“You still have that?”

“Yeah, I don’t know why.”

We parked down the street from the old Video West building and made the rest of the trip on foot. As we reached the parking lot, the building loomed before us, shadows hitting it in the most unflattering of ways. We got to the face of the building and tried to peer inside, but the windows were too marred by grime and dust to go inside.

The front doors were boarded up completely. As such, we decided to walk around to the back of the building. The back door to Video West, the one we’d escaped through years prior, had three windows, one of which would be just low enough to reach the locks if I reached in.

“You sure you wanna just…break in?” Ryan asked.

“You really think anyone will notice? Look at this place.”

I put my back to the door and drove my elbow into the window, but it bounced right off of it. I tried again, but to no avail.

“What the fuck?!” I yelled out in frustration.

Ryan shushed me, then patted me on the arm, pointing to something I hadn’t noticed.

“There’s like a thousand locks on the door, there used to just be the one.” he said. And he was right. There was the doorknob lock, but there were also three deadbolts.

I didn’t say anything. Instead, I walked back around to the front of the building and up to the front doors. I pulled the key out of my pocket and put it in the lock, and we were both surprised to find that it still worked. I swung the door open, motioning for Ryan to hold it.

I put my back to the wood and swung my leg up and then back into the bottom corner of the plywood, sending a loud, flat thud echoing into the night. 

“Fuck dude, be quiet!” Ryan yell-whispered.

I kicked again, and the noise this time was accompanied by a split-second of a metallic squeal. A third kick sent one of the eights bolts clinking across the floor within. A fourth split the wood on the frame to which the plywood was fastened, and a fifth sent a second bolt clattering to the floor. Meanwhile, Ryan looked around us with a paranoid fervor.

“Are you fuckin’ done? Jesus dude the whole goddamn neighborhood probably heard that.” he said, despite the fact that Video West wasn’t *in* a neighborhood, but just on the outskirts of one.

I pushed the plywood in with my foot, making a space just large enough for us to fit through.

We crawled in, the plywood making a *crack* as it whipped back into place.

It was evident that we weren’t the first people to explore the abandoned store. The walls were marred with graffiti, the glass from a hundred fluorescent light bulbs littered the ground, beer cans and empty cigarette packs had made their home in the corners.

“Jesus, what a shithole.” Ryan exclaimed. I knew he was right, but to hear my parent’s store described in such a way caused me instinctively shoot my friend a biting glare. He saw it, and his regretful face served as an adequate apology.

We walked to the back area of the store, staring into the dark abyss of boxes long torn to shreds, movie posters with hand-drawn addendums, and empty DVD cases. 

I looked over to the basement door, and from where I was, I could see a numbered keypad. 

“What the fuck?” I said as I made my over to it.

“What?” Ryan said. 

“The basement door.” I replied. “It’s got a keypad lock, and it definitely didn’t before. The door’s been reinforced, too.”

And it had. The old door to the basement could’ve been pulled off its hinges with a hard yank, but the current door was a much thicker wood, built into a much sturdier door frame.

“We have to get down there.” I said.

Now with a motivation I hadn’t had until that moment, I walked back into the main area of the building, where the aisles and aisles once full of movies now sat bare, with a few DVD cases scattered about the floor.

“That room, the…the hidden one. Where about was it?” I asked my friend as I walked with purpose across the building, navigating our way around the aisles. “Here, you think?”

Ryan looked around, and I could see his thoughts working through his head.

“Little this way.” he said, and we walked a few feet to our right. “Cause it was down the stairs, then like halfway across, right?

I nodded in silent affirmation.

“What are you thinking?” Ryan asked. 

“I don’t know…can we get through the floor?” I said.

“Seriously? Even if we did, how are we gonna get back up?”

“The room didn’t have a ceiling, it was just the slats. And as for getting back up…one problem at a time.” I said, drunken confidence taking over rational thought.

The carpet had been torn up in a number of spots on the floor, revealing the wood beneath it. And to our luck, the wood at a spot just to our right had been warped, I figured due to a leak in the roof. I recalled a conversation between my aunt and uncle years prior during which they debated getting the roof replaced. This was shortly before they sold the building altogether.

I tore a piece of thin but sturdy metal from one of the aisles and used it as a crowbar of sorts, prying up the warped floorboards. From there, I worked my way left until I had gotten to the area over the hidden room. We tore out the insulation from between the levels and were soon looking down into the room in which we’d watched the beginning of a murder video years prior.

Instead of a TV/VCR combo, there now sat a desktop computer and monitor and three laptops. The room was no longer a tiny warehouse filled with boxes of videotapes, but was now set up like some sort of cubicle. Each computer sat on a desk, with the wall opposite us home to two laptops on one desk. In the corner of the room was a metal multi-shelf unit, and each was stuffed to its limit with small USPS shipping packages. 

On the floor almost directly beneath us sat the only box in the room, only it wasn’t filled with videotapes. As far as I could tell, it was filled with packaged USB flash drives. 

“The…fuck?” Ryan said. 

“I’m going down. You wanna stay up here? I can use the desk and get up far enough if you can help me up just a little bit.” 

Ryan agreed. Just as I was about to stick my legs through the opening and jump down into the room, Ryan stopped me. 

“Wrap your shirt around your face.” he advised. 

“Why?”

“If they have some murder-video-ass operation going on down there, you think they’re gonna not have cameras? There’s none I can see up here, but…I don’t know, better safe than sorry.”

He had a point. I took off my t-shirt, leaving only my white tank top to cover my upper body. I wrapped the shirt over and around my head in such a way that I saw through the neckhole. I put my legs through the opening of the floor, dropping down onto the desk below. 

I maneuvered the rest of my body down and hopped onto the floor. The first thing I noticed was that instead of just a false plywood wall, there was now an actual door. I communicated that fact up to Ryan. 

I stepped over to the nearest laptop and turned it on. While I waited for it to boot up, I turned to face the shelving unit and looked at a few of the USPS packages. All of them were addressed to people or businesses all over the United States and Canada, and each had a different return address. 

Brunner’s Automotive Solutions – Milwaukee, WI

Pet Prizes by Millie – Walnut Creek, CA

Kimberly Corporation – San Antonio, TX

I pressed my thumbs against the packages, finding each of them to have only a single small object inside. That’s when I turned around and stepped over to the box full of packaged USB drives. 

Each of the at least 50 drives were the same brand, and accompanying them were a stack of paperclipped receipts that showed me that no more than three of the USB drives were purchased at any one location, and the locations they were bought at spanned the entire state. 

I turned back to the laptop, finding it to be password protected. As luck would have it, there was a post-it note stickied to the side of the desk, on which was written a series of 22 characters, some letters both lowercase and capitalized, some numbers, and some symbols. I input the string of random characters into the password box and was in. 

The screen opened to an in-progress project in the video editing software Sony Vegas. The title of the project was 5-12-2018 – K7 – F – 34, the same title format of the videotapes. I clicked play, and in the bottom left hand corner a video began, ostensibly somewhere in the middle. 

Rather than simply a stationary camera, this video was done side by side, with one view from the upper corner of the room by what was presumably a security camera, and the other handheld. The security camera caught the entire scene, the masked cameraman included. 

In the handheld view I watched a woman cower in the corner while a man closer in frame, his face covered by what looked like a handmade paper-mâché mask, held a blowtorch up for the camera. 

“Today is May 12th, 2018, let’s get to it.” The masked man said over the tormented screams of the woman in the corner. 

He turned towards her and laughed at her fear, blowtorch in his left hand. He stepped closer to her and the woman made a sad attempt at running from him, but with his free hand, the man grabbed her by the hair and slammed her head into the wall. With a sickening crunch he drove his knee into her jaw, dazing her. 

And that’s when it started. 

I don’t want to be gratuitous, so I’ll give you the broad strokes. He started at her feet, chasing her around as she tried to scurry away. Next her legs, then her back and stomach. He punched her in the head whenever she moved around too much. 

When he got to her chest, she passed out, or died, I don’t know. The video didn’t end until he used the blowtorch on her face, until she didn’t have one. It was the most depraved, revolting, horrible thing I’ve ever seen or heard.

“Alright, cut.” the cameraman said. 

The left side of the screen cut to black, but the right side still showed the security camera footage, on which I watched as the man with the mask lifted his disguise over his face; it wasn’t a face I recognized. 

“Sweatin’ like a whore in church, fuck me.” the man said, wiping sweat from his face and hair. “How’d it look?”

“Looked damn good.” The cameraman replied. “Bitch put up a fight though, huh?”

“Didn’t she?!” the murderer laughed. “Ah well, Al likes when they squirm a bit. Tough little thing she was. Thanks for serving your purpose.”

The man spit on his victim, something so inherently disrespectful that it made me cringe as much as anything else in the video.

“NICK!” A sharp whisper from Ryan brought me out of my trance. I looked up. “Someone just pulled up!”

I didn’t hesitate for a second. I grabbed a handful of addressed packages from the shelves and tossed them up to Ryan through the hole in the floor. Additionally, I grabbed a few loose USB drives. I held the power button the laptop down and shut it before climbing up on the desk. Ryan helped me up through the floor and stuffed the insulation back in, then scattering some debris over the area we’d pried up as I picked up all the evidence.

We made our way to the opening in the plywood. Just as Ryan pulled it open for me to crawl through, we heard the locks near the back door clicking. We both made it out and sprinted to Ryan’s car. As we pulled away with his lights off, I saw for the car that Ryan had heard pull up.

It was a black Maserati, the same one I’d seen my brother get into at the bar earlier that night.

 

My grandpa’s friend, a retired homicide detective, just told us what goes on in the Arizona desert

Case 1 | Case 2 | Case 3 | Case 4 | Case 5 | Case 6

After my grandpa told me about the last case – the one about the Backwards Man – he told me to make the tentatively-planned Skype call to a colleague of his in Arizona. Connectivity issues on both sides didn’t allow us to have the call when we’d initially planned, and schedules then got in the way after that. That said, we all eventually found the time, got the call connected, and my grandpa and I were soon talking to a detective in Arizona named Adam, a man my grandpa had met at a conference years prior.

Little small talk was made; my grandpa quickly got to the point.

“I know we talked about it a little, uh, you know, about those cases. The kinds that don’t make any sense?” my grandpa said.

“Ah, yeah. What’d you guys call them? The Impossible Cases?”

“The Impossible Ones, that’s right.”

“That’s right…down here they’re called ‘The Inconceivables’.”

“Like the movie?” my grandpa joked. They laughed for a moment, during which time Adam said that they did indeed get the name from “The Princess Bride”, and then he went into one of his very own “Impossible” cases.


There’s a lot of desert down here, a lot of long, empty roads with nothing but open land on either side. A few skinny trees here and there, some cacti, but no real structures or anything to speak of.

I got called out to a crime scene in…shit, had to be around 2002, it was right after 9/11, I remember. Not that one has anything to do with the other. Anyhow, I drive out there, and this is in the middle of nowhere. Like, I had to drive 20 minutes off the road just to get to it, middle of nowhere.

It was the middle of the night when I got there, 2, 3 in the morning, so they had these big flood lights set up outside the tape, and the tape was set up way farther out that I initially would’ve thought necessary, real wide around the focal point of why I’d been called out, but I’ll get to that. There were a few little pathways that we could take to get to her, and I was led in by one of the officers.

Standing there in the middle of this big ass area was a woman, looked maybe about 30? She was standing midstride, like she was just walking through the desert and one second she just, boom, died. Her foot was pointed up like she’d just taken a step…and then she’d just frozen. We had the techs out there trying to figure out exactly where she’d come from.

That was one of the weirdest things…the footprints. So, leading up to where this woman was, there were no footprints. Ground didn’t have any imprints whatsoever, not in the slightest, not leading up to where she was standing. It was like she’d just floated down right outta the sky.

But around her, maybe 15 yards or so, there were these…I actually don’t wanna call them prints, because they weren’t, but these…tracks? I don’t know what to call them. They were like something had been shuffling around…something big. I mean…they looked like they stepped lightly, but when they were pointed out to me I could plainly see that they’d left depressions in the ground.

But they weren’t shaped or structured like footprints. They were these weird…these kind of “collections”, I guess you’d say, of spirals. Spirals…groups of five or six of them of different sizes and angles, where if you drew a line around them, it would look…I guess maybe like a rhombus. I remember there were four separate collections of these, so 20, 25 different sized spirals, some circular, some triangular, some square-shaped, 20-25 total. 

If you drew a line around the collections of rhombuses…rhombi? If you drew a line around those, it made almost a perfect rectangle. There’s no real way to put it into words, and I know this is for the…the blog, whatever Steve said you were doing with these.

[We took a short aside, during which time I told Adam about NoSleep and how I felt it was the only place there was a real chance a lot of eyes could get on their tellings of what goes on in these impossible instances.]

Where was I? Ah…shit…uh, okay, so it was the desert, it was cold, maybe 40 degrees, give or take, but parts of this girl’s skin were frostbitten. If it would have been her whole body I might have thought she’d been walking naked through the arctic after getting out of a swimming pool filled with ice water, you know that dark purple, black color? But there just these…patches all over her. Big section of her thigh, tops of her knuckles, side of her neck, her shoulder blade. Like these spots of her had been dipped in subzero temperatures or something, but just those parts…I don’t know.

Ah…oh! The tracks, that’s what we were talking about before. So, like I said, they made a big circles about 15…maybe closer to 20 yards out from her. Each one of the rectangles, the ones with the four rhombuses in them? They must have been 12, 15 feet apiece, maybe six feet wide, fuckin’ huge, these things. I know you might be thinking “it sounds like someone drew them”, but the techs said that the depression pattern in the ground indicated that the symbols were most depressed on the ends, not so much in the middle, like someone stepping heel to toe. 

Obviously someone could’ve done this on purpose, but why? They went in a circle around this woman, and they overlapped each other a whole lot, like someone was just doing laps. I suppose it’s worth mentioning, we didn’t realize all the spirals and the shapes and everything right away, it took a few days before the techs put it together. I mean the shapes were apparent right away, but I just mean the patterns and all that. When you first looked at it, it just looked like a bunch of nonsense scribbles with no rhyme or reason to it.

Craziest thing about those tracks? Maybe…200 yards away, there was another big circle of them, same circumference, but like they’d just made one circle, no laps. And the depression on that one, was deep. Like it had stomped down. About 200 yards after that one was another one, depression even deeper, and that was it. They said it was like whatever had left it had dropped out of the sky and landed, boom, then jumped, boom, another one, and jumped again, and landed lightly on the last one, then circled this woman.

No idea what it could’ve been, obviously. Usually with the weird ones, some people speculate; not with those, though. No one could come with any kind of explanation.

Back to the girl. 

She didn’t have any ID on her, no wallet, purse, nothing. She was wearing a tank top and shorts. How I said she was frostbitten? Well her face wasn’t at all, it was as dry as I’ve ever seen a face in my life. Her lips were cracked all to shit, skin was sunburnt, flaky. 

That’s why when the M.E. (Medical Examiner) told us her cause of death was drowning, we couldn’t believe it. By all accounts, drowning should’ve been the last possible cause of death, but the M.E. said she would stake her whole career on it that any subsequent analysis of the autopsy results by other M.E’s would yield the same results. And it wasn’t a dry drowning, it was like she’d been held underwater until she died.

Her stomach contents, I remember, there was water, of course, but there were also blades of…of grass. So initially we think maybe she was starving, tried eating some grass, yeah? It was sod. Fake grass. There wasn’t a whole lot of it in there, you know, she didn’t have a whole front lawn in her stomach, but there was enough that you could cover maybe the bottom of a water bottle with the grass standing up, you know what I mean?

Oh, even more fucked up? Get this. She’d put the time of death as being about eight hours after I’d shown up in the desert. No kidding. She’d apparently been alive the whole time I was skulking around checking it all out. I’d been right up close to her, inches away, and I didn’t see her chest moving, I didn’t feel any breath coming out of her, nothing. Didn’t make a shred of sense. And that was just the time she recorded. She said there were multiple factors that contradicted one another. 

How I said she was standing? Rigor mortis had somehow set in instantly. M.E. said it was impossible, but that’s what it was. But despite the rigor mortis being an indicator of T.O.D., her stomach contents made the M.E. think it hadn’t been that long, same with the fact that no insects had other little creepy crawlers were anywhere near her. But then there was the fact that a few of her organs were deteriorated, like she’d been dead for days.

It was just…I still can’t wrap my mind around it.

Alright, anyways, we had to find out who this woman was. We started looking at recent missing persons reports, far back as six months, didn’t turn up anything. Checked with the surrounding states, nothing. Her fingerprints…well that wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen. She had two sets of fingerprints on each finger. That’s a bad way to put that. 

On each finger, she had half of one fingerprint on the left, and half of another fingerprint on the right. The lines just didn’t connect like they should’ve. Again, it would be easier to show you what I mean, but you can’t really show what I mean through the written word. But it was bizarre. We had a specialist come in, try to reconstruct the prints, but nothing came of it.

Then about…ah…maybe three months after she was found out there, a call was placed to 9-1-1.

Word for word, a man’s voice said, “The woman in the desert. Amber Lee.” Then they hung up. The call was placed from a payphone outside a convenience store in Massachusetts, one that had been out of service for about two years. Nevermind the fact that the phone didn’t even work, but how the hell did someone dial 9-1-1 and get connected to dispatch across the country?

We called over to Massachusetts State Police, sent them over the woman’s picture, had them go through their databases, missing persons, all that. There was nothing about her there. There was a woman with the name  ‘Amber Lee’ that lived in a suburb outside of Cambridge, but she was alive and well.

We never found out who Amber Lee was or how she wound up in the desert. And, you know, that’s tragic. This woman, whoever she was, she might have had family, people who loved her. Even if not, she deserved better than what happened to her. But for as tragic as what happened to her is, it’s not what fucks with me.

What fucks with me is the fact that there’s something out in the desert. Something that even if we knew what it was and how to find it, I don’t think we’d be even halfway equipped to deal with it. 


After he was done telling us the story, he offered to put us in touch with both his son, a current Arizona homicide detective, and a colleague out in Colorado who he knows has some crazy stories. So hopefully we’ll hear from them soon!

After we hung up, he called back about two minutes later.


Tell your friends on the blog that there’s not much of a story to this one, just something that happened that we never figured out, never had a single clue on. Never found out who it was, who did it, how it was done, nothing. There’s about 100 things wrong with this one, but it’ll be funny to make them scratch their heads trying to figure it out, because it really just doesn’t even sound possible…logistically or otherwise.

Some folks were bowling, and right in the middle of a game, this little girl throws her ball, then she’s standing at the return waiting for her ball to come back, and out comes a human head, male, maybe 40 years old.

Take care boys!

The Final Case

Daughter’s Drawings Companion Piece

Author’s Note: I wrote this not long after Daughter’s Drawings blew up, to add some kind of background to the tale. I’m indifferent about this, as it doesn’t really affect the story itself at all, but I hope you enjoy it! Also, feel free to check out the as-yet unfinished Alternate View of Daughter’s Drawings.


Most of this information was retrieved through interviews with Joseph Marcel, the owner of the Galleria Motel, at the time of the investigation. Other, less important details were made apparent by other family members, and it was all rounded out by information gathered through various means by the investigating parties surrounding the kidnapping of Katelyn Lorraine Botic.

BiloXy Farms is a place shrouded in dark history. It was started by the patriarch Alfred Billows. Alfred was a peculiar fellow. He and his wife, Geraldine (nee Thompson), moved to the Midwest from Oregon after she received a large settlement in hopes of becoming the main supplier of foods for the new town in which they now called home. 

On the outside, they looked like a happy, successful married couple. But behind closed doors, Alfred was a deplorable human being. He regularly beat his wife, leaving marks only on her body, so they could be covered up. If that wasn’t enough, his sexual proclivities proved just as sadistic. He would eventually pass these habits on to his children.

The people behind the nearby town being set up were developers from the southwest. They were quietly looking to develop all of the nearby farmland into a booming metropolis, but Alfred had bought a large portion of it for his own purpose before they were able to. This led to some disputes between Alfred and the developers. 

At that point in time, all that had been constructed was an unopened diner and motel. The tension between the developers and Alfred reached a boiling point one evening when the primary developer and his partner, Anthony and Nadine, stopped by the Billows house with yet another offer to purchase their land. 

They sat down for a conversation, and at some point, Alfred expressed his disdain for them them trying to run them out of their new land, ignoring the fact that Anthony and Nadine had always been regarded as persistent, albeit kind and understanding people. He then excused himself from the table, and while Roberta talked with the developers, Alfred retrieved a claw hammer, which he proceeded to use to render Anthony and Nadine essentially unrecognizable. Their bodies have never been found. Alfred forged the documents necessary to transfer the land and properties owned by the developers to himself. From that point on, that small town belonged to the Billows. 

Alfred invited his brothers from Oregon and with them came their wives and children. Once they were settled into their new surroundings, older members from their extended family began emigrating as well. Soon, the Billows were motel operators and ran a diner they called Daisy’s, after Alfred’s niece. From that point, they constructed a small police station, which a few untrained cousins became the “sheriff and deputies” for (eventually they received proper licensing), as well as opening a small general store.

After numerous miscarriages at the hands of her husband, Geraldine eventually gave birth to a daughter, Roberta. Alfred extended his anger towards her as well, beginning nearly at birth. Less than a year later, Geraldine suddenly went into labor, after being unaware she was pregnant, and gave birth to a son, Rudolph. 

It was during this time that Alfred began advertising the remaining nearby land as being for sale. He sold different plots of land to different people, mostly families, and the town became just that, an actual, real, functioning town. And for all intents and purposes, for the first few years, it was a successful one. The motel, while never reaching a point of having an abundance of business, did receive enough patrons who were passing through town to stay afloat. The people who bought the remaining land in the area became regulars at Daisy’s Diner, and did their grocery shopping with the limited items offered at the general store.

Years went by, and the kids grew up, eventually taking over their aging parents positions in the various businesses around town. Roberta found a lover in one of the townspeople, and they eventually married when she was 19 and he was 35. They day after their wedding, Alfred, for unknown reasons, signed all of the property and land deeds over to his daughter, then proceeded to brutally beat Geraldine to death with his bare hands, then cut his wrists, successfully committing suicide. The day after that, Rudolph went into one of the room of the motel and shot himself under the chin with a double barrel shotgun.

Roberta, while never having been a very well adjusted individual herself, let the house go to ruins. She gave the motel to her husband, who would run it for the next several decades. The only solid thing in Roberta’s life was apparently Daisy’s Diner, where people say she would do a complete 180 in her personality, becoming a kind, soft spoken, attentive waitress in contrast to her normal messy, boisterous, rude self that she normally exhibited elsewhere. 

Roberta’s husband, Joseph, wasn’t much more than a leech. While he did run the motel, he often overstepped his bounds, and organized robberies and attacks on guests that chose to stay there. He didn’t do this for personal gain, but for pleasure, as was evidenced by his distributing the ill gotten gains from the robberies to his partners in full. Joseph was just interested in causing people harm. He was overjoyed when he found out he’d be having a child, or as he thought of it, a student.

6 months later, Roberta gave birth to Atol. All things considered, Atol was essentially doomed from the beginning. He was never given proper schooling, instead, he would be left alone while his parents went to work as soon as he was able to crawl and pull himself up. They would leave food on the endtable that he was able to reach, and would spend most of his time naked, as he would pull off his soiled diapers when no one was there to change him.

When Atol was old enough, Joseph began bringing him to work with him. Atol found fun in sneaking into unsuspecting motel guests rooms while they were asleep, and otherwise terrorizing the guests. He was essentially given free reign over the town as he was the son of the two people that essentially ran it, and all of his sociopathic behavior was largely ignored by the townspeople, for fear of retribution from his parents. From an early age, Atol had a fascination with art, but didn’t become an artist himself until his 19th birthday.

For his birthday, he was gifted a plastic bag full of white masks. Joseph gave him these masks in hopes he would better conceal his identity when out committing whatever nefarious acts he was involved with at the time. Instead, Atol became obsessed with designing the masks, and rarely went without wearing one from that point on. It was a good thing too, because many of his psychopathic tendencies were quelled when his father gave Atol full access to the garage next to their house, which he turned into a rudimentary art studio.

Several years later, Roberta and Joseph took a small break after a particularly bad fight. Seeking comfort in her son, they eventually began an incestuous relationship, which resulted in Roberta getting pregnant with her own son’s child. Not believing in abortion, she chose to carry the baby to term, and eventually gave birth to a little girl on the living room floor of their filthy home. Despite the obvious biological contradictions, Emma Geraldine Marcel was by all means a “normal” child. She didn’t show any developmental problems from birth, and only fell behind where a normal child should due to a lack of education.

While walking to visit his mother at work one day in 2012, Atol couldn’t help himself but to peek into some of the cars that were sitting parked in the parking lot of Daisy’s Diner. He came across our Hyundai truck, and when he looked into it, he saw a drawing, and for whatever reason, he was absolutely entranced by it. He took his mask off and hid it in his waistband. He then found the passenger’s side door to be unlocked, and rummaged through the car. He found a multitude of drawings in a backpack in the backseat, and was immediately curious as to who drew it.

He went through the rest of the car, only stopping after coming across information on our family. He then had the forethought to take the attention off of himself, even though he knew the police wouldn’t do anything to him anyways, and went in and alerted our family that our car had been broken into.

He then spent the next four years obsessing over the drawings he’d found, and was given ideas on how to terrorize our family by his father, ever the sadist. He even went so far as to murder his own daughter, as you all know. 

Everyone knows what happened to the Marcel family and Roberta’s extended family. There is, however, one important piece of information that was left out of everyone’s testimonies.

In one, and only one picture, the Marcel family is seen posing for a photo at a picnic that was attended only by Roberta and Joseph’s extended families. In the background of the picture, is the man who picked me up on the side of the road after I escaped the TV room.

Not one member of the Marcel/Billows family would give even the slightest bit of information on that man, and it is widely believed, considering we received a drawing and letter after Atol was dead, that this man is truly behind everything that happened to our family, and that the explanation I just gave you was all fabricated by the family in order to protect the true culprit. It would seem that Joseph and Roberta made their own son a patsy, and sacrificed him to protect whoever it is that is truly behind everything.

This would explain the fact that my daughter never saw the man’s face, as he wore masks all the time. Another thing no one seemed to know anything about was the tunnels under all of the BiloXy farmland. The investigators told me they believe that the family didn’t know about the tunnels, and that they were constructed by the unidentified man in the photograph.

Besides the family who is protecting him, no one knows who this man is, no one knows where he is, no one knows his motivation behind haunting my family for years, no one knows how he was able to financially support a cross country stalking endeavor, and, perhaps most chilling of all, no one knows what his next move will be.

I just ask that everyone send good thoughts our way, and to wish us luck. It seems we are dealing with someone more sophisticated, yet seemingly equally as uneducated, than the incestuous man I shot in the barn at BiloXy farms.

 

My grandpa, a retired homicide detective, just told me about the only serial killer he ever pursued

Case 1 | Case 2 | Case 3 | Case 4 | Case 5

As always, my grandpa and I read the comments on these posts together. He absolutely loves hearing what you all have to say. He loves your theories, he very much appreciates your well wishes, but he rebuffs the claims that he is an exceptionally brave man worthy of commendation.

“Eh…I just did what the job required. The brave ones are the ones who were more…affected…by the Impossible Ones…those guys and gals who are still around today even though the cases took a part of them…a bigger part than they ever took from me. They’re the ones who should be getting the praise. The partners I had over the years who were never the same after one of those cases hit our desks. Tell them I appreciate it, but they would all do the same things I did in those situations. For whatever reason, I was just lucky enough to not be in the direct line of fire when a case like those took one of us down with them. Just luck, that’s all.”


Alright, I got one for you. In my whole career, I only ever dealt with one serial killer. You know, not that we were hoping there’d be a serial killer on the loose, of course not, it’s just…those are the cases that make careers. This was about two years before I was planning to retire, so…what, ‘99, 2000? Somewhere around there. If I could bag a serial killer, it would be the cherry on top of my whole career.

I should’ve known right from the jump it was gonna be an Impossible case, but…well, I don’t know…hope and the benefit of hindsight, I suppose.

In the department, just amongst ourselves, we called this sick son of a bitch the Backwards Man. Ah…hey now, we never claimed to be creative types. We called him that because we caught him on camera a few times, a bunch of times, actually. He’d approach his victims, but he’d walk up to them…backwards. He’d stand with his back to them, and he’d talk to them.

He always wore the same thing: a long black coat with a big hood pulled up over his head. Winter, summer, didn’t matter, always wore the same thing, always walked backwards.

Now, if you’re walking down the street and you see someone walking backwards towards you, what are you gonna do? You’re gonna get outta the way of the weird son of a bitch, right?. Uh uh. Not with this guy. He’d walk up to these people and they’d stop, they’d talk to him, talk to the back of his head. After they’d talk for a bit, 20, 30 seconds, he’d take off in the opposite direction, and they’d follow him.

We tried following him on the cameras, and this is where it gets real weird. Downtown, you know, they have all kinds of cameras on the streets. 

There was one, middle of the day he took someone. We got the footage from six different cameras. He walked up to this guy, guy talked to the back of his head for a minute, and they started walking. Now, you’re thinking that if he walks up to them backwards, then starts going in the other direction without turning around, he’s just walking normally, right?

Well, on all of the cameras, his back was to it. Camera was facing east on Juneau, his back was to it. Camera was facing west on Juneau, his back was to it, walking backwards. Camera was facing north on Water Street, his back was to the camera. Sounds like it doesn’t make sense, right? If he was walking east on Juneau and you’re looking at him from the south, you’d be looking at him in a profile, right? No, sir. His back was to the camera, and he was walking sideways, crossing his feet one over the other. 

Didn’t make a single shred of sense. All the cameras had the same timestamps, but we were watching this guy walk in distinctly different gaits at the same time. Once they turned enough corners, they’d just disappear. We’d always check the nearby buildings, but there would never be any evidence of them having been there. We would eventually find the victims, but I’ll get to that.

Anyways, because of the whole camera thing, we obviously never saw his face, not once. Chased this guy for two years, interviewed…I mean, hundreds of folks who were in the areas this son of a bitch would take his victims. They all said the same things: “I only saw his back, his back was always to me, I just thought he was a weird guy walking backwards down the street.” No one we talked to ever saw his face.

Except for one lady.

We’d sent some uni’s out canvassing after the Backwards Man had taken a 13-year-old girl with him in the Third Ward. They went door to door to a few apartment buildings, and there was one lady, she was in her 40’s, name was…ah, what was it…Kathryn something…ah, it doesn’t matter. 

So about a week after this girl had gone missing, we go to meet this woman, this Kathryn, and…it’s hard to describe, but it was like she was ripped off the page of one magazine and pasted onto another. Her apartment was immaculate. The Third Ward isn’t a cheap place to live, you know that. She had big fancy bookcases, big TV, pristine furniture; she was a lawyer, judging by the apartment and the pictures she happened to be in that were around her house, she was a real professional type.

But the woman herself, she was…she’d seen better days.

In those pictures she was an attractive woman; she was dressed sharp, hair was nice, big, sparkly white smile. When we talked to her, she looked like she hadn’t seen a shower in weeks. Her hair was all messed up, her teeth were dirty, she was just…she was a mess. 

And she was afraid.

She sat in a chair in the corner and watched the door while we talked. She was…she was shaking like a leaf. We sat down to talk to her, you know, asked her what she’d seen. Her voice was all shaky, and she whispered, like there was someone in the room she didn’t want to hear what she was saying. Now, I’m paraphrasing here, but…

“He walked up backwards to the girl…I watched him do it, he–he walked up backwards to her, and just stood there. I, um, I wasn’t too close to them” you know, she was stuttering, you could tell she was terrified. She goes, “But I could see the girl talking to the person. I was wa–walking back to my office and I walked a bit closer and as I walked by I threw my coffee in the trash beside them and—and he was just saying something over and over and over, the same thing, and she was talking to him like they were having a conversation.”

I ask her what he was saying, and she just starts hyperventilating, you know, freaking out. Takes us a good 10 minutes to calm her down, but we need to know, you know? We have to know what this guy was saying.

She goes, “He was saying…’Is a house really a home if you aren’t there?’ and he’d sniffle a little bit like…like he was sick…then ‘is a house really a home if you aren’t there?’ and another sniffle, ‘is a house really a home if you aren’t there?’ and a sniffle. And then…”

She started crying real hard, had to give her a minute to calm down again. Then she says, “Then I realized that it was a perfect copy every time. Like it was on repeat on a recorder or something. It did something to me, hearing that. I thought I was gonna drop dead right there, I don’t know what it was but I thought I was gonna die.”

Then I ask what the girl was saying.

“She was…it’s like she was hearing something different than I was. She was just going on, ‘oh yeah, me too! I love it there. Oh yeah, what about you? That’s great!’ It didn’t make any sense.”

Then I kinda got down close next to her, as comforting as I could be, and I asked her again. Did she see his face?

Her eyes well up with tears again, her hands start shaking, I can tell she’s just about to break down again. Then she whispers, “His face…his face…his face…” then she starts yelling. “His face! His face!” 

We try to calm her down but then she just stops, goes dead silent for a second, stares off into nothingness, then it’s like she composed herself in the blink of an eye and she goes, “Will you excuse me? I need to use the restroom.”

Before I tell her to go I ask her again if she can tell me what the guy’s face looked like. She’s cool as a cucumber now, and she just says, “If you’ll give me a moment, I’ll collect myself and be right back with you. I’m very sorry, I just…I just need to calm down for a second.”

I didn’t really know what else to say. I mean, her change in demeanor was…it was jarring, kinda left me and my partner stunned. And I couldn’t tell her ‘no’, you know? It was her house, she had every right to get up and go, and she did. My partner and I just kinda stood there and talked for a minute, kinda going over what the lady had said. 

When she’d gone to the bathroom and closed the door, we’d walked over nearby just to keep an ear on her. She seemed unstable, but not to the point that we thought she’d try to harm herself. As I’m telling you this, I realize what it must sound like, like this woman was on the edge, and we just let her go to the bathroom, but I…she was afraid, and it just seemed like shock. In that line of work, you have to be able to read people. Well we were reading her, and neither of us felt she was at risk.

The water had been running, and we’d heard a creak, you know, like she’d sat down on top of the toilet or leaned against the counter, something, but that was it. No crying, didn’t sound like she was moving around at all. I knocked on the door, and we didn’t get a response. Knocked again, but in a hurry. When she didn’t answer, I tried to open the door, but she’d locked it, so I busted the handle.

She’d taken the blades out of one of those single-use razors; there were two blades. I know what you’re thinking. She tried to slash her wrists, right?

Wrong.

She’d cut out her tongue.

There was blood everywhere. All over the sink, the floor, the mirror, on top of the toilet. The tongue itself was sitting on the counter next to the sink, right next to the cup that had her toothbrush in it.

Kathryn, she–I think her name was Kathryn, that’s gonna drive me crazy. But she–she was sitting on the edge of the bathtub, totally silent, still as calm as she had been when she’d gotten up to go in there. Every few seconds she’d spit out a mouthful of blood into the tub, it was horrifying.

My partner called for medical, and I did what I could to help plug up the bleeding, which wasn’t much. 

Oh, and on the shower wall, she’d written in her own blood the words “HIS FACE”, which…I don’t know what that was supposed to mean, still today don’t know what it meant. It wasn’t an indicator of what it had looked like or anything, just…I don’t know.

She, uh…she ended up in the hospital, of course, then was remanded to a psych facility for a few days. I remember my partner at the time, he looked her up a few years after I was out, and, uh…she had…she was living with her sister, and by that time she’d been arrested, uh, twice, for…for heroin possession. Her life really fell apart after that.

That…[My grandpa was thinking for a moment, and had a look of remorse on his face]

So, ahem, anyways. So that was odd enough, the whole thing with the guy walking backwards, whatever his face looked like, the weird things he was saying. But that wasn’t it. 

So he’d take these people, we’d follow them on cameras when we could, but eventually we’d lose them. Sometimes the victims, they’d be missing for days, sometimes weeks. The longest any of them was missing was a guy, about your age [I’m 30], he was missing for about six weeks. But they’d always turn up. And they’d always turn up in the same way.

There’d be a call placed to 9-1-1, and the call would always essentially sound the same.

“We just got home, and there’s a dead body in our house.”

So there were, uh…there were seven. Seven of these murders, you know, that we know about. Three had already happened by the time I got put on the case; the lead before me hit his 20 and left the force. So I dealt with four of these. 

The girl from the Third Ward, she’d been missing for uh…what was it…two days shy of a month. Towards the end of August, she showed up like all the others did. They were always in surrounding areas, never anywhere near where they’d gone missing.

This poor couple, they…the wife had come home from work about two minutes before her husband, and she’d walked in the house to find this 13-year-old girl’s body propped up in a reclining chair in the living room.

This girl’s body…she’d been frozen, and when the uni’s got there, maybe 10 minutes after the call was made, she was still ice cold to the touch, like she’d just been dropped there right before the wife had gotten in…had just barely started thawing. Her skin was black, like…she had the worst kind of frostbite over every inch of her body. There was dried blood coming from her nose, ears, eyes, you could barely see it, but it was there. 

She’d been…posed.

She had one leg over the other, and she had one hand held up, and the son of a bitch had put an empty champagne glass in it. But the worst part…her face. This was a pretty girl, or she had been…but, uh…well her face was solid black, but she was…ah, shit. She was smiling. Lips curled up, toasting like she was celebrating something. It was…that was the worst part about it, to me at least.

The other ones were…they were different but equally as twisted. One of them was the guy I mentioned earlier, on Juneau, he was found at a house in Brookfield, burnt to a crisp. And he was still smoldering, too, like he’d just been put there the second before the people got home. He was posed too; he was in their rec room, and he’d been set up like he was tossing a dart at their dart board.

And uh…then one day…they just stopped. It just never happened again.

The only thing related to the Backwards Man that happened after that last murder was…well I shouldn’t say the “only” thing, I don’t want to diminish it. It was…very unfortunate, what happened. I should say that the last thing related to the Backwards Man that I dealt with, and as far as I know the last thing to happen with him in [Our City], was…this poor girl.

She was in her early-mid 20’s, going to graduate school. She had just had a baby maybe six months before, and…she’d been walking from the [Local College] campus to the parking garage, and somewhere between those two, he’d shown up. Whole thing was caught on the security cameras, and again, no matter the angle, his back was always to the camera.

They talked for a minute, and this time, he turned around, her faced her. We couldn’t see it, because, you know, whatever the hell happens with the cameras. They talked for just a second after that, but instead of her following him, he just left. Just walked away. 

She stood there for about 10 minutes, still as a statue, just looking into the distance, kind of a thousand-yard stare. She eventually went back to her car, stopped at the store, picked up diapers, started cooking dinner for her husband and son. While whatever they were having for dinner was cooking, she sat down at their kitchen table, wrote something down on a piece of paper, folded it over once, and set it down on one of the end tables next to their couch.

Then she went into her closet and hung herself from one of the bars. Her husband had been playing with their son and hadn’t noticed her put the piece of paper down; he…the smoke alarm went off, and he went looking for her, found her in the closet.

The note just said “HIS FACE” as many times as she could fit on the piece of paper.


My grandpa was drained after this one. Reading these transcriptions is one thing, but when I sit down with him and he tells me these verbally for me to record and transcribe, it’s apparent how all these cases affected him emotionally. And keep in mind, these are just the Impossible Ones. Besides those, he still has nearly three decades worth of normal, explainable cases weighing on him.

My grandpa then said something despite his clear exhaustion from the memory of this one, and even after my insistence that he is under no obligation to share any of this with me if he doesn’t want to.

“Let’s make that call, get you on the line with my pal in Arizona, I know he’s got a story or two that’ll really kick your ass.”

Case 7 | The Final Case

The kids in my neighborhood haven’t stopped trick-or-treating

In our neighborhood, in the town of Wauwatosa, WI, trick-or-treating was initially scheduled for October 27th. Inclement weather called for a reschedule, so it ended up being on Halloween night, which as you know was a Thursday this year. Weather again caused a cancellation, but finally, the night after Halloween, trick-or-treating was held.

It was a fun evening! The kids came out in droves; there were kids in scary costumes like witches, vampires, and creepy clowns, while others had on any number of pop culture-influenced costumes, my favorite of which was a shockingly accurate Endgame-style Iron Man Mark LXXXV Suit.

It was from 4-7pm, which was perfect, because at about 6:50, we gave the last piece of Halloween candy in our home out to an adorable little Mulan.

Now, around here, a few stragglers are to be expected. Kids whose parents weren’t available during the official time, kids who for whatever reason couldn’t make it; whatever the case may be, it’s not unusual to get your doorbell rang a few times over the next day or two.

On Saturday, though, starting at about 4:10pm, our doorbell was ringing just as much as it was the night before. For the first few kids, we were forced to turn them away because we didn’t have any candy. My wife went to the store and picked some up, and we went through another round of trick-or-treating.

We assumed that people might have gotten their dates mixed up, with the reschedule throwing things off. We assumed that was the end of it.

Then Sunday came. I started noticing that the kids coming to our door were the same ones as the previous nights, sometimes in the same groups, other times solo or with different companions. When the Mark LXXXV Suit kid came through for the third time, I looked around, and at that moment I realized that there were substantially more children on the street than guardians. Generally speaking, there are 3 to 4 kids for every supervising adult. Now, there were at least 8-10 kids for every adult. 

I kept an eye out the window, waiting for another adult to come by. When one finally did, I stepped outside before the kids got to the doorstep. I recognized the man as Mike, a guy who lived three blocks over, and I only recognized him because I had spoken to him before about the seemingly rotating door of classic cars he has parked in his driveway.

His hair was unkempt, his skin pale. His clothes were disheveled, and he had what I can only assume was a small sliver of dried blood under his nose. 

“Hey man…you alright?” I asked him.

Mike seemed to quickly look behind me then very subtly nodded his head before turning away.

I looked behind me, and found a Spider-Man, an Elsa, and two pirates staring up at me.

“You kids…you can go up to the door…we have…candy…for you…”

The kids didn’t move.

I looked back towards Mike, who quickly glanced at the kids and then just as subtly shook his head from side to side.

I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I knew something wasn’t right. I turned back to the kids.

“You guys want some candy?” I said in my most chipper tone while walking back to the door. “Your costumes are great.”

I quickly got inside, shoved candy into the kids’ various receptacles, and closed and locked the door.

“What’s wrong?” Kimmy asked me, reading the very obvious look on my face.

“I don’t know…you know Mike from 109th? Something is going on.” 

“DId he say why all the kids are out…again?

“No…he didn’t say anything at all. He looked fucking terrified. And those weird ass little kids were–”

Our conversation was cut short by our doorbell ringing again.

I supplied a Captain America and a non-licensed ghost with a Fun Size Snickers and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup each and sent them on their way.

“You should call the library [where we live, the library doubles as City Hall] and see what’s going on.” I said to Kimmy.

“It’s Saturday, won’t be open until Monday.”

“Fuck, that’s right.”

I looked out the window. To both sides there were kids walking, some towards our house, others away. The rest of the night went without incident, and we hoped against hope that that was the end of it.

Then at 4:07pm yesterday, the doorbell rang.

“You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.” I said as I got up from the couch; Kimmy stayed seated. “Do these little assholes think we work at Hershey’s?” 

I opened our front door and found Rey from the new Star Wars Trilogy, Aladdin, and who I’m pretty sure was the same ghost as the aforementioned incident standing there with their bags held out in front of them, none of whom had the decency to say “trick or treat”.

“Look, kids, you look great, but we’re out of candy. You guys cleaned us all out!” I kept the annoyance out of my tone of voice and spoke in the typical “talking to a kid” tone of voice.

The kids just stood there with their bags held out, not saying a word. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood there in silence as well. It felt like an eternity before any of them moved, with the Aladdin finally breaking the tense standoff, slightly shaking his bag, as if he were annoyed I hadn’t put anything in it yet.

“Dude, I just told we don’t have any candy. Why are you even trick-or-treating still?” if you can’t tell, I’m not the best with kids.

They just kept standing there, staring at me.

“I’m gonna close my door now…go…get candy from the next house.” I said as I shut my door.

I turned to walk back to the couch when a loud THUD shook the picture frames we have near our front door. Another THUD sent one of them sliding to the ground, shattering. I stomped back to the door and flung it open.

“Are you fucking kidding me, you little pieces of shit?!” In the closet next to the front door, we had some leftover candy; I just hadn’t anticipated needing to use it to fend off an attack. I took a handful, pushed the screen door farther open than the kids had it, and threw the candy out onto our front yard. “Go get it, you fuckin’ scavengers, and stay away from our house.”

I slammed our door and turned back towards Kimmy, who was already calling the police. Enough was enough. It was strange enough that all these kids were still out trick-or-treating, but now they were starting to damage the property of people who wouldn’t comply. 

“Hi, we live over on Congress, um…and there’s kids–yeah…okay….so, what? Okay I get that, but what are you doing about it? Well now the kids are–hello? Hello?” she took the phone from her ear. “What the fuck?”

“What did they say?”

“That they’ve gotten a bunch of calls about it and are looking into it. Then she hung up.”

“Jesus. Well, we really are almost out of candy. If it’s between buying another bag of candy until this shit is taken care of and having these little bastards fuck our house up, I’m gonna go get some.”

“Will you wait until 7?” Kimmy asked. I then realized that the kids were only trick-or-treating between the officially sanctioned hours, if not the officially sanctioned days.

“Yeah, of course. Wait, why don’t you just come with me?”

“Well, what if today is the day they don’t stop at 7? I know Walgreens is only like 2 minutes away, but I don’t want to come home to find all our windows smashed. I’ll give them candy if I absolutely have to.”

“Should we just leave a bowl on the porch?” I suggested.

“What if a kid comes by and just empties it into his bag?”

A fair point.

7pm rolled around and a few minutes after that I was pulling out of our driveway. As I drove, I noticed kids still walking around, but assumed they were heading home for the night and prayed that Kimmy hadn’t been right about that night being the night they ignored the set times. I went to Walgreens and picked up a few more bags of candy. On the way back, I decided to swing by Mike’s house on 109th, and on the off-chance he was outside, I planned to ask him what the hell was going on.

I turned onto 109th, and the first thing I noticed was the house that had arguably the best Halloween decorations in the neighborhood. Two large inflatable ghouls now sat deflated on their front lawn, with the rest of their decorations similarly messily strewn about.

As I neared Mike’s house, I noticed two houses with their doors open, one of which had a similarly disheveled lawn in addition to a broken front window. 

Mike’s house finally came into view, and I immediately noticed the broken windows on his 1967 Cutlass. I pulled up and quickly got out of my car. I walked around the Cutlass and nearly tripped over something in the driveway. That something was Mike’s body, whose skull had been caved in.

I immediately returned to my car and floored it to my home, passing retreating trick-or-treaters who all stood in place and turned their heads to watch as I sped by them. I made my way to 106th, and noticed on our block too that three houses had been similarly vandalized, all of them with their doors left wide open.

As I drove, I called 9-1-1. 

“9-1-1, what is your location?” the operator answered.

“There’s a–a body on–I’m on 109th–I was driving on 109th, by Congress, and there’s a body in a driveway.” I just barely managed to get out.

“Yes, sir, we’ve gotten calls about that in the recent hours, we have a unit on the way.”

I was bewildered.

“Wha…what the fuck do you mean ‘in the recent hours’? You’ve known about this for hours and nobody’s here yet?”

The operator didn’t respond right away.

“HELLO?!” I yelled into my phone

“Sir…” the operator whispered. “Just…get to your house and lock your doors. We’re working on it.”

“What the fuck is going on?!”

“Please…sir…just get to your house and lock your doors. Go in your basement. Use the time you have before they come back tomorrow. Please. I’m sorry.”

The call ended at the same time I pulled into our garage. I hurried inside, locking every door behind me as I did. 

“KIMMY?!” I yelled out.

She rushed into the kitchen to meet me and wrapped her arms around me, sobbing into my shoulder.

“What, what, what happened?” I asked, inspecting her for any sign of injury. 

“They…Kevin and Carol…” she said between sobs.

Kevin and Carol were our neighbors across the street, a kind couple that had a big party every year, to which the entire neighborhood was encouraged to attend. 

I ran to our living room and looked out the window. I had been so focused on getting home to make sure my wife was okay that I hadn’t noticed what was going on just across the street. Carol laid halfway in and halfway out of their front door, her face on the pavement. Kevin, a large man, was slumped against the large tree in their front yard, with, from what I could tell from across the street, a pitchfork decoration with the handle shoved down his throat and into his stomach.

“Jesus Christ, was it the kids?” I asked, maybe somewhat rhetorically.

Kimmy nodded in the affirmative.

“Mike too…he’s dead in his driveway.”

“What the fuck is happening?” my wife was doing her best to maintain composure, and I wasn’t far behind her.

“We need to leave.” I said. “Grab some shit, we’ll go to your parents.”

Kimmy normally takes an absurdly long time to get ready for something, but it didn’t take longer than 30 seconds for us to get out to the garage. We got in the car, turned it on, and I pressed the garage door opener. As the door opened, so too came into view three children, a princess, the Flash, and a firefighter, who ducked under the door before it had opened fully. 

Two of the kids brandished knives and punctured the back tires of our car, then made their way over to our other vehicle and did the same. Then, as if it were a completely normal thing to do, they put the knives away and held up their candy bags.

“What…the fuck…” Kimmy cried, and I was in too much shock to move.

I finally snapped out of it and opened my door slowly.

“C–Candy? You want candy?” I said.

The kids just stood there with their bags held open.

“K–Kimmy, come on. K-Kids…you wanna go around to the front, I’ll meet you there with some candy?” I talked as I slowly walked around the car and took Kimmy in my arms, but the kids didn’t want to meet us around front.

They followed as I opened our door. We walked backwards into our breezeway, the kids following closely with their bags held out. They followed us through our kitchen and into the living room, where I put two pieces of candy into each of their bags. After I’d done so, the kids closed their bags, at which point I opened our front door, and the children went on their way.

Kimmy and I breathed a sigh of relief, a small victory that was quickly overshadowed by the realization of a greater loss: our means of escape. With a gauntlet of murderous children between us and freedom, we tried to think of alternatives. Anyone who lived nearby wasn’t answering their phone, so Kimmy thought of what might serve as something of an alternative to escape.

I had bought a deadbolt for our front door a few months ago, but never installed it. My wife suggested we use it on the basement door. It took some time, and I had to provide some more kids with candy, but I got it done. 

By the time I was finished, it was late. Our porch light was on, and as I was grabbing the last of the supplies we intended to take to the basement, a shadow danced on our living room wall.

Knock knock knock

I opened the door and found a kid that was maybe 9 years old, by himself. He didn’t seem to be wearing a proper costume, but rather he was in dirty clothes that had been sprayed with blood. The look in his eyes can only be described as void of any life. He had a thousand-yard stare and his eyelids hung heavily.

The boy held out a pillowcase that was about ¼ full of candy.

I reached into the bowl next to the door, keeping my eyes on him as I did. I dropped a Mini Kit Kat and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the pillowcase and waited for him to turn around and walk away, but he didn’t. He just continued standing there with his arms and the pillowcase held out.

I reached back to the bowl of candy and gave him two more pieces. Again, he didn’t budge an inch.

“I…uh…I gotta make sure there’s enough for other…for other kids.” I tried to explain in a shaky voice. “It wouldn’t be fair to them if I…you know, if I gave all the candy..to you.”

The kid finally moved, taking a step back. I kept a close eye on him as he walked backwards across our yard. Just as he reached the curb, I heard a scream from nearby. Two houses down, I saw a woman taken down by children in the middle of the street. The boy I’d just given candy to whipped his head around, then pulled a hammer from the back of his waistband and sprinted towards the woman, where he joined the group of kids in beating her to death.

I yelled for Kimmy to get downstairs as I went around and made sure all the doors and windows (for whatever that was worth) around the house were locked. Kimmy had called 9-1-1 several times, but each time got dismissive answers, and it’s gotten to the point now that 9-1-1 isn’t even answering anymore.

We’ve been in our basement since about 2am. In that time, our power has been cut, and we’ve heard numerous windows in our house be shattered, amongst other things. They’ve tried to get into the basement, but so far, the deadbolt has held; we’re just lucky we have a solid basement door.

If you can, please call anyone, call the news in your area. We called ours, but got no response. Please, help us. If you have ideas on what could get someone, ANYONE down here to help us, please do. Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

Please.

 

My grandpa, a retired homicide detective, just told me about the first case that made him consider a different career

Case 1 | Case 2 | Case 3 | Case 4

Both my grandfather and I appreciate everyone’s well wishes, truly more than words can express. Posting these stories has become something he gets excited to do. In his words: 

“Knowing I can finally get the word out on all the weirdness that goes on in this world, not having to worry about the department biting me in the ass, it’s good. It feels good. I know I won’t be kicking around much longer, but if these folks really enjoy reading about the cases, I can’t think of a better way to spend the rest of my time until I punch my ticket. Make sure you tell them ‘thanks’ from the old guy with the weird stories.”


So the very first one, the first Impossible One, that was…ah, what, ‘76, 77’? Somewhere in there. Around a year after I made detective. Anyways, I’m sitting at my desk when the Sergeant comes up and whispers something to my partner, this guy Manthe. I think I told you about him before, you know what happened to him. So Sarge whispers to Manthe and heads back to his office; Manthe just kinda hangs his head a bit.

I ask him what’s going on and he stands up and tells me to follow him. We go to the car, and on our way to wherever we’re going, he gives me a little speech. Now, I’m paraphrasing here.

“I’ve been a detective 11 years now, Steve [my grandpa said it was fine if I used his name]. I’ve solved a lot of cases. I’m not the best detective there’s ever been, but I’m damn good at my job. Generally speaking, if there’s a murder, I’ll get the guy, or gal…one time it even ended up being a dog. But you get what I mean. 

“But sometimes…” he says. “…sometimes there’s cases you can’t solve, no matter how good you are. Sometimes things just won’t make a lick of sense. The clues will take you to a dead end, the evidence will just raise more questions…

“You know when you do a puzzle, sometimes you’ll have the box there so you can see what you’re supposed to be putting together? It’s like you’re doing a puzzle, you know what it should look like, you got all the pieces on the table in front of you, but they just don’t go together. There’s no reason why. They just don’t.

“The department doesn’t like word of these getting out. You’re not under any obligation to not talk about them, don’t think I’m trying to scare you or anything, they sut prefer to keep them quiet, don’t wanna scare the people, you know? We got a name for em’ around the department, just a dumb little name, we call em’ the “Impossible Ones”, ‘cause that’s what they are, no two ways about it. They’re impossible. You might’ve heard someone mention them before.”

I had. I’d heard the term “Impossible One” in passing, never really knew what it was about.

So Steve says “We’re headed to one now. I knew it was just a matter of time until we caught one. Sarge got the details from some of the uni’s down there.”

We drove out to Oak Creek, you know, the farmland out there? We had to drive down this long dirt road between two giant plots of corn stalks, and finally this house comes into view, got the black and whites parked all around it, yellow tape, the whole deal. We pull up, and the Lieutenant was there, which…you know, I wasn’t used to that. Manthe tells me “whenever we get a weird one, they send out a higher up”.

LT just shakes his head and tells us “good luck”. So, you know, we walk past the tape, everybody’s out there doing their jobs, there’s a group crowded around this big flag pole they have. We’re walking up to the house to talk to the responding officers, and I overheard some folks talking about how “it just doesn’t make sense”, you know, “how is it possible”, stuff like that. So right away, I’m getting that something is off, but I still don’t know why we’re even there.

We get in the house, and a few uni’s are standing in the foyer. This house…it was…it wasn’t a nice place. There were no walls, or, well, no drywall; it was just the slats, like someone had started building the house but given up halfway through. We go up and ask for a rundown of what’s happened, and two of the officers tell us to follow them upstairs.

One of the uni’s says, “I’ve been on the job about 2 years, I’ve seen some messed up things, but this has got to be the worst.”

They take us up to a bedroom on the second floor, and before we turn to go in, the uni says “brace yourself”. I don’t remember what I was expecting, exactly, probably a whole lot of blood, gus, you know, something like that. But there wasn’t any. There was no mess. The room was absolutely immaculate, like they’d gone over it with a toothbrush just before we walked in.

The bedroom was empty except for a small, almost like a TV tray, you know, that stands up? Yeah, there’s one of those, and…there’s medical supplies on it. You know, bandages, wraps, scalpel, scissors, sutures. All of them clean as a whistle.

But the body…

There was a body on the floor, sort of halfway leaning against the wall. The feet…the feet had been sewn on. They were much paler than the rest of his body, you know…like the feet clearly came from another person. Again, there was no blood, but at the same time, there was evidence that…that the…”operation” if you want to call it that, happened in that very room.

Weirder yet, one of his hands had also been stitched on, but just one of them. This body’s right hand, it uh…it belonged to its original owner, ha, and it…it had a stitching needle and thread in it, like the son of a bitch had been doing this to himself. Problem was, his feet and hand, the ones that actually belonged to him, were nowhere to be found.

As…you know, as freaky as this was, it was the smell that was the worst, It was the most rank, putrid dead body smell I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve smelled quite a few.

Now, later, they did an autopsy. The, uh…the cause of death couldn’t be determined, but…the level of decomp on the outside was…you know, hours, by the time Manthe and I showed up on the scene. I don’t remember what the call was, or, you know, how it was found out that there was a potential murder there, but when we showed up the body was still fresh. 

They did the autopsy not long after that, and the decomp on the inside of the body, you know, his organs and all that? At least a month. Like he’d been sitting against that wall for a month. Now, I don’t know how much you know about human decomp, hopefully not much, ha, but it happens in stages.

Right after a person dies, first few days, not too much happens. Then they’ll start bloating and all that. After about a week, the skin will start to turn black, and like I said, none of this had happened yet. But on the inside, a little after a week, things will start breaking down, maggots, bugs, insects, all that, they’ll start laying eggs, feeding off the organs. And the organs, they’ll start breaking down, leak outta the body.

Sounds gross, I know. But…so the outside of the body was fine, as far as decomposition, but the inside of the body was just…I don’t know how to put it…it was just…flakes. Like dried fruit, his lungs, spleen, kidneys, bladder, stomach, it was all decomposed, covered in creepy crawlers. It didn’t make any sense. It was…drumroll…impossible.

And even more than that, you know how I said the room was perfectly clean? Not a drop of blood? It’s because the body had been completely exsanguinated. I mean completely. The body shouldn’t have looked the way it did on the outside considering what had happened on the inside. If I wouldn’t have seen it with my own eyes, I would’ve sworn to you it was a, uh, you know, like a wax statue or something.

But that’s not the weirdest thing, not to me at least. So, uh…outside, when we pulled up, there…there was that group of uni’s gathered around the flagpole. 

When we were done, you know, looking around the inside of the house, trying to make heads or tails of what happened, the folks that brought us into the house told us to follow them out. We get down to the flagpole, and this thing is big. Must’ve been 25, 30 feet tall, big as the kind you’d see at a school. 

We walk up and kinda get everyone to clear a path for us so we can see what all the commotion is about. Manthe was walking ahead of me, and I just hear him say “Jesus fuckin’ Christ”. I look around him and I see what everyone is looking at.

There is a body at the base of the flagpole. I don’t mean next to it, I don’t mean near it. The flag pole had gone through the man’s lower sternum. Blood had pooled around the area, and by the looks of it the man hadn’t been dead longer than a few hours.

Now, after the fact, we had learned that the flagpole had been on that property since the 1960’s. At least on paper, it hadn’t been replaced or anything since then. There were two flags at the top, an American flag and a [Our State] flag. Both of them were blowing in the wind, and they were clean. Besides the normal weather-wear a flag gets, they were both clean. 

And so was the flagpole.

A little dirt here and there, maybe, but for a body to have impaled by it, and for it to have slid down the flagpole, both it and the flags should’ve been covered in blood and guts. And there was no way anyone had lifted the flagpole from the ground and then dropped it on him, there was just no way. 

Craziest thing about that one? Guy had died from a brain aneurysm.

Ah, and before I forget, the guy on the flagpole was the owner of the property.

The guy inside, sewing on new hands and feet for himself?

Never identified, and neither were his new extremities.


My grandpa then said, “Well, now you know the first one. Next time you come over I’ll tell you about the very last one. Don’t worry though, there’s still a few in between them. I was also considering putting a call out to some colleagues, I’m sure there’s cases in other states and departments even I’ve never heard of.”

Case 6 | Case 7 | The Final Case

My grandpa, a retired homicide detective, just told me the worst place he ever searched

Case 1 | Case 2 | Case 3

Apologies for the delay. When I posted the last three entries, my grandpa was elated. We spent so much time going over the comments, and it brought him a joy I haven’t seen in a long time. His health took a brief turn for the worse in recent weeks, and he made me promise not to post any more transcriptions of our conversations without him being able to sit down with me and watch the comments roll in. I kept that promise.

Luckily, he’s back to where he was when we started this whole thing (which still isn’t great, but it’s better than he has been recently), and I’m proud to present the fourth “Impossible Case”.

—–

It’s not always people, you know. The uh, the Impossible Ones weren’t limited to just people. Back in the…late 80’s, early 90’s maybe, we caught a call, a suspected murder had taken place. Mail had filled up the mailbox, eventually someone called the police for a wellness check.

Some uniforms go to check, look through the window, and they see blood on the living room carpet and walls. They go in, clear the house, we get called. I remember the phone call, it was the same as the calls for the Impossible Cases.

“Yeah, [Grandpa’s Name], we, uh…it’s…it’s another one.”

We could always tell how shitty our day was going to be by the tone of voice of whoever called us. It was me and a temporary partner I had, this guy Malloy. He’d come over from across the state, but like every detective, he was familiar with the Impossible Ones, though he said at his last shop, they were referred to as “the Unexplained”. Different name, but the same mind-boggling bullshit.

Anyways, we pull up to the house and find everyone standing outside it. We get outta the car thinking they’re just trying to preserve the scene, but then we see that everyone is real on edge…jumping when we shut our doors, staring at the ground, you know, just acting real antsy.

We ask them what’s going on, but no one will say a word. We go around asking if the house has been cleared, and finally a uniformed, looked like his first day on the job, nods his head a little bit.

Malloy and I go in the house, and, you know, it looks normal. Just a normal suburban house. There was a stain on the living room carpet, and it was very clearly blood. It was made all the more obvious by the fact that there was blood dripping from the ceiling. You ever seen a ceiling with flood damage? Where it looks like dropping a feather on it from the other side is gonna make is come crashing down? That’s how the spot above the stain was, it was dark red and looked thin as wet tissue.

So obviously, we think there must be a body upstairs. Based on the call we got and how the folks outside were acting, we were expecting something real…you know, something real gruesome. We go upstairs, figure out which room the stain is below, but when we walk in, there’s nothing. Room is normal. Not two second after we opened that door, that’s when we first hear it.

Tap tap…taptaptap

The best way I can describe it is like they tapped their pinky, then a half second later their ring finger, then middle-index-thumb, boom boom boom, real fast. 

Malloy and I both spin around; it sounded like someone was tapping on the wall in the room across the hall from the one we were in. Now, the door to that room is closed. We’d been informed that this woman lived by herself, didn’t have any kids, no husband, not even any family that lived in the state, so there shouldn’t be anyone else there.

Malloy and I draw our weapons, start doing the whole “open the door, show us your hands, yada yada yada” thing, but no one responds. We stand there long enough with our weapons pointed at the wall…I was pointing at the door, Malloy had his trained on the wall…we stand there long enough and don’t hear anything back that we start wondering if we just heard something from outside or something. The uni’s had cleared the house, and they’d never done us wrong before, but with how weird they were acting we wanted to be sure.

Just as I start to take a step to pass Malloy and move toward the other room, we hear it again.

Tap tap…taptaptap

Only this time, it sounded like it was in the room on the other side of the wall from the one we were in, you know, on the same side of the hall, just a door down? I yell out “police! Step out into the hallway with your hands up!”, and again, no response.

Tap tap…taptaptap

This one comes from the opposite wall from the previous one, which would put whoever was doing it on the steps leading upstairs. Malloy was still standing in the doorway, so he took a step and leaned over to take a look, then looked over to me and shook his head. There wasn’t anyone there.

The next set of taps, that same pattern, they came from above us, like in the attic. Then higher up on the wall by the stairs, then down the hall, then from underneath my feet like someone was tapping on the ceiling in the living room, then back on the wall in the opposite room, over and over and over and over and over and over. Sounded like a miniature stampede was happening all around us. It lasted about 30 seconds, then as quickly as it started, it just stopped.

Malloy and I stood there for a good 10 minutes, guns up, arms aching, wondering what the hell was going on. When we both finally calmed down enough to act rationally, we went through and cleared the house again. Attic, top floor, ground floor, basement. We did it ourselves just to make sure it got done thoroughly, and there was no one. House was empty except for us.

So then we have to deal with the fact that the ceiling in the living room is leaking blood, but there doesn’t seem to be a source. The bedroom where the leak should’ve been, where the body should’ve been, there was a throw rug in there, you know, over the hardwood floor. So we move the rug, there’s a little, uh, door, type thing, I guess you’d call it, a little door in the floor, maybe the size of a pack of cigarettes, with a hinge that’s flush with the floor. 

I open it, shine a flashlight in, but there’s nothing there. No source for where the blood could be coming from, and even after we had some guys come in and take out the floorboards, I took out the insulation and it was dry. The material that made up the ceiling, while it was soaked with blood on the bottom of it, it was completely dry on top. Which, I mean, it’s impossible. It’s like the source of the blood was in between a half-inch, inch thick piece of plaster.

That was a hell of a long day, I’ll tell you.

So, it’s late now. Probably 2, 2:30 in the morning. Malloy and I are still at the house, looking around. We finally got a few people to come in, you know, fingerprint folks, photographers, they’re getting their job done.

Me and Malloy are standing in the kitchen when he goes “did you hear that?” I hadn’t heard a thing. He goes “there it is again.” I’m straining my ears trying to hear what he’s hearing, and when I turn to look at him and ask what he thinks he’s hearing, I won’t lie to you, my heart skipped a beat. 

Malloy was standing there, staring straight ahead into my eyes, but it was like he was looking through me. He face had gone completely limp, slack, and his eyes…his eyes looked like they’d been turned off, like there was no life behind them. His mouth hung open like he was just…totally braindead.

“Malloy?” I say.

He just stared through me, to the point that I looked over my shoulder to make sure no one was behind me. When I turned back around, Malloy was pointing to the basement door. I looked over and saw that it was closed. When I looked back again, Malloy was pointing, but the life had returned to his face, he looked normal.

I asked Malloy what the hell had happened, and he just said “you didn’t hear that?”. I told him I hadn’t. He said we needed to check the basement again. We head over and open the door, only now the lights wouldn’t turn on. They’d worked fine the entire day, but all the sudden now, nothing. We get our flashlights out and head down.

I asked him why were checking the basement again, but he just kept saying “we need to check the basement again. You didn’t hear that?” We get down there, and everything looks the same as it had all day.

Tap tap…taptaptap

The taps sounded like they were against one of the metal racks that lined the basement walls. We shine our lights all around, there’s nothing, no one. 

Tap tap…taptaptap

This time it sounds like it’s on a cardboard box.

“You didn’t hear that?” Malloy says again.

The tapping starts all around us. It’s on metal, cardboard, plastic, wood, drywall, plaster, it gets to the point that it’s deafening. I shine my light all around and it eventually lands on Malloy, who had at some point moved to the corner. He had that same dead look on his face again, and he was pointing towards the ceiling, just behind me.

I consider myself something of a brave man, but in that moment, I was about as scared as I could’ve been. I did not want to look behind me. It felt like something was there, looking at me, waiting for me to turn around.

“You didn’t hear that?” Malloy said again. “You didn’t hear that? You didn’t hear that? You didn’t hear that? You didn’t hear that? You didn’t hear that?”

He just kept repeating it, over and over and over, then he started slurring his words, like he’d sound if he was drunk. I’m yelling out at him to shut his mouth, scared out of my mind. And…so, there’s already been a lot of this that makes you scratch your head, you know…say ‘what the hell?’, but then…[I can tell my grandpa is reliving this in his head]

I worked up enough courage to turn around. The…Malloy was still repeating that over and over, but I turned around, and looked up towards where he was pointing and there was a spot of the plaster in the basement ceiling that was newer than the rest of it, the same size as that little door in the floor on the second level. We’d been through the house more times than I can remember, and neither of us had noticed that door until now, which seemed…unlikely.

The tapping seems to be getting louder, faster. I got Malloy yelling over and over, and I’m so afraid, I think I might piss myself. It gets so loud that I cover my ears, start hunching over. I mean, it sounded like you could’ve heard it on the other side of the neighborhood. Then it all stopped again. I looked over to Malloy and saw him sobbing into his hands, then he walked up the basement stairs without saying a word.

I wanted to get the hell out of there, but at the same time I didn’t want to skimp on my duties. I yelled up the stairs for a few of the construction guys to come down and take down the entire piece of plaster that that spot was on. They unscrewed the screws, and when one side of the piece was lower than the others…a little bag slides out and falls to the ground. 

The bag had fingers in it. Three fingers. If I remember right they were…it was an index, ring, and pinky finger. We eventually went back upstairs, and when we did, the…there were spots like the one in the basement all over the place. The ceiling in the living room had stopped bleeding, but now we had more of these spots. Must’ve been 5 or six on each level of the house.

Inside each were bags of fingers, form pinky to thumb. We had them all tested, and far as we could tell, at least some of them belonged to previous owners of the house, going back decades. Turns out that everyone who’d lived in the house had died; one of them was a suicide, but the rest were natural causes. 

It was odd, because all the fingers were in perfect condition, like they’d just been removed from the body and decomp hadn’t started yet. Doesn’t make any goddamn sense.

Malloy, that poor bastard. He quit the job the following day, refused to talk about what was going on in his head during that day. He tried committing suicide twice that I know of, now he lives with his daughter in Monterey, California. In the few years after that day, I tried to check in on him from time to time, and he would apparently have these fits where he just screams “you didn’t hear that?” over and over,

I was supposed to go back to that house a few days later. I showed up and when I got to the front door, I just couldn’t do it. That fear set in again, made me feel like I was gonna pass out. I knew right from the jump this one didn’t have an answer. I still did my due diligence, did what I could to find some answers, but I refused to go back in that house.

Oh!

And the woman, one who lived there? A neighbor down the street had seen her walking the morning we got the call, so several days after she’d stopped getting her mail for whatever reason, even though she was apparently home. She’d walked down the street and onto the main road, we’d tracked her security tapes, but she turned the corner from North Avenue on 92nd Street, and just vanished. Poof, into thin air.

Wondered for a long time what happened to her, then one day, almost 7 years later, we get a tape in the mail, it had been sent to the precinct, addressed to both me and Malloy. It was a security tape from a gas station, the time stamp was the day after we’d been to her house, so the day after she’d vanished, about two hours after. Across the street from the gas station, some folks were doing some tree work.

That woman had walked up to the area these folks were doing the work, set her purse down with her ID on top of it, leaned forward, and went head first into a woodchipper. 

Messed up, right?

Well, even more messed up than that? The tape came from a gas station in Florida, about 1,200 miles. 

Never did figure out how she got from the corner of 92nd and North to Tampa Bay, Florida in under two hours.

—–

[A couple days later, I went back to my grandpa’s, and he got me immediately excited for his next case.]

“You know, I should probably tell you about the very first Impossible Case I ever had.”

Case 5 | Case 6 | Case 7 | The Final Case

They say the snuff film industry doesn’t exist. It does. [Part 1]

When I heard my parents were going to be opening a video store, I was ecstatic. It wasn’t going to be a Blockbuster or a Family Video, it was going to be *ours*. My older brother and I eagerly awaited as renovations and setup got underway, making lists of films we would watch when the store was open, debating on the order in which we should watch them. 

Life was good then. Our parents were happy, I remember. I look back and I recall realizing that those were two people who were truly in love. They weren’t all lovey dovey, but there was just a general electricity of true happiness between them. 

Construction on the store finished during the summer before I was going to enter 3rd grade, my brother 7th. I remember going to school and bragging about the video store, and even telling everyone that one day it would be mine. I exaggerated my importance and value to the store, making wildly outlandish claims that my parents relied on my brother and I to keep it afloat. 

We spent most of our time there. When the school year started, Alex and I would take the bus to the nearest stop and walk the 15 minutes to the store. In the office was a TV that we watched movies on while doing schoolwork, and it was without question instrumental to my lifelong love for film and television. Other times, we would go to the back of the building and go through the boxes of newly-delivered movies, and more than once we tried taking movies our parents weren’t legally allowed to distribute yet, much to our parent’s annoyance. 

Then things changed.

It was a day just like any other. I was in fifth grade, Alex a freshman in high school. By this point, Alex would usually just escort me to the store and go his separate way after checking in with our parents. We walked into the store and found our parents behind the counter talking to two men neither of us recognized. 

Alex and I said hi, but our chipper greetings were met with a brusque direction to the office from our dad. We obeyed, figuring they were in some sort of meeting, brushing off the fact that our dad seemed in a particularly bad mood. I had just gotten my schoolwork out and was preparing to watch Signs for the millionth time while Alex simply sat waiting for one of our parents to come in and let him leave.

We were in the office for about a half hour before our parents finally came in. I remember looking at my mom, her eyes puffy and red, asked her what was wrong.

“Get your stuff together, you’re going home.” Dad spoke before Mom could.

“What? Me too?” Alex asked.

“Yes, let’s go.”

“I’m supposed to meet Mike at the–” 

“Well Mike is just gonna have to deal with it!” Dad snapped back.

“James!” Mom interjected. She leaned in and whispered something in his ear, but that kind of forceful whisper you do when you need to yell but can’t have anyone else hear it.

“Sorry, Alex.” Dad then said, forcing a calm tone. “Please, just…let’s go. Get your stuff, your mom is taking you home.”

Alex was irritated, but he ultimately complied.

As we rode in the car, our mom tried to compose herself as much as she could.

“You boys won’t be going to the store after school anymore. You won’t be going to the store at all anymore, unless it’s with your father and I.” she said.

“Why not?” Alex asked.

Mom took a breath.

“It’s just a…it’s a place for business, not a place for kids to sit around.” It was the same answer our parents would give us the next 50 times we asked why we couldn’t go there.

“Okay…” Alex wasn’t buying it.

“From now on, you’ll be walking your brother home and staying there. *Both of you.*

“What?! Mom!” Alex tried to argue, but our mom cut him off.

“Alex! Please.” her voice was shaking, like she was holding back tears.

My brother crossed his arms and sat silent for the rest of the ride home.

For the rest of my fifth grade year, I was given the “stranger danger” talk about once a week, and made to recite the plan for if someone I didn’t know tried to get me to go somewhere with them. By the time sixth grade rolled around, though, I was able to walk home by myself, and my brother wasn’t confined to the house after school anymore, save for seemingly random pockets of time when our proverbial leashes would get considerably shorter. These times could last a single day or a couple of weeks, but we’d learned that begging and inquiring didn’t do us any good.

Alex and I speculated more than a few times on the real reason we weren’t allowed at the store anymore and came up with some ideas, but none that were ever confirmed. During this time, too, a noticeable strain between our parents developed, one that got increasingly worse as time went on, with seemingly no peak. What was once the strongest example of true love and happiness I had became a tense, anger-filled union between two people who could no longer stand each other.

That was life until I reached high school. My freshman year, I was finally given the freedoms of a normal person my age, though I still wasn’t allowed at the store. When hanging out with friends, we’d sometimes stop in to pick up a movie, but my parents would always hurry us along. Of all the rules our parents ever enforced, keeping us out of the store seemed to be the one that never wavered.

—–

During my sophomore year, I was sleeping over at my friend Ryan’s house. Ryan was essentially every parent’s worst nightmare; he was the kid parents warned about. He’s who I went to my first party with, who I smoked my first bowl with, who I stole my first bottle of booze and got drunk with. On this particular night, Ryan wanted to sneak out and roam around the town.

“Let’s go to your store.” Ryan said while we wandered aimlessly, all but chain-smoking joints we’d rolled before departing from his house.

“The video store? Eh…I don’t know. Why?”

“Come on dude, we can watch…something.” Ryan and I both laughed harder than necessary.

It may have been because I was high, or it could’ve been fueled by some deep-seated resentment I harbored for being banned from my favorite place as a kid, but when we were done laughing, I acquiesced.

“We have to go to my house and get the key.”

We turned around and walked to my house. When we turned down my street, I saw both my parent’s cars in the driveway; my brother’s was nowhere to be found. I’d snuck out of my house before, but never into. I knew my window would be unlocked, so I crawled through and made my way to the kitchen. In the same place it had been collecting dust since third grade, a drawer opposite the sink, sat the spare key. I went out the same way I’d come in, and found Ryan lighting another joint in my backyard.

“You got it?” he said with his lungs full of smoke.

I held up the key as confirmation and we continued on our way. It took us about a half hour to get there, but conversation and marijuana made it so that before we knew it, we were standing in front of Video West at just after 2am.

We walked in, and I quickly noticed a security system counting down. I tried the same combination my parents used for the lockbox in our house: a combination of mine and my brother’s birthdays. With the alarm disabled, we were free to roam. While Ryan scoured the aisles, I walked over to the office, the room I’d looked forward to sitting in after school for so long, and found it to be little more than a hoarding room for papers.

Several Mountain Dews sent me to the employee bathroom, and when I walked out, I couldn’t find Ryan. I called out for him in a kind of loud whisper, but didn’t hear anything in response. Suddenly, the doors to the back of the store opened behind me, making me almost jump out of my skin. After Ryan was done laughing at me, he told me he was going to check out the basement. 

The only way I can describe the stairs leading down to the basement are that they are an amalgamation of every horror movie you’ve ever seen. The basement itself was no different. Ryan and I were navigating around the boxes of posters, spare light bulbs, and retired cardboard movie cutouts when a cobweb wrapped itself around Ryan’s face, sending him stumbling into the wall, a wall that I noticed became concave as he steadied himself on it.

I walked over as he cleared the webs from his face and pressed on the wall, finding it to not be the same solid cement as the rest of the basement walls, instead just crudely painted to look like them. Ryan took interest in this as well, and we began feeling around for an edge. Once we found it, we pulled back, and it opened another area of the basement. 

The windowless room too had boxes, but instead of DVDs (as the medium had primarily shifted to by this time), they were filled with videotapes in generic sleeves and handwritten labels.

11-19-2004 – S12 – F – 15

4-2-2004 – G2 – F – 22

9-26-2003 – N5 – F – 9

Each video had a label in that same format, which of course meant nothing to us besides the dates. On top of each box was a number of papers, each listing various addresses and initials, some of which were crossed out.

Also in the room, which was lit by a single bulb only when we found a string hanging from the ceiling, was a TV/VCR combo unit. Ryan pulled a tape from deeper down in the box, one labeled 9-10-2005 – G11 – F – 26. He put the tape in the VCR and the video opened with a camera being rocked around and then steadied, presumably on a tripod. It then pans around in a 180, finally stopping and centering on a young woman tied to a chair.

She had duct tape around her mouth, and her wrists and ankles were duct tapes to rungs on the chair and the legs of the chair, respectively. To the right, just barely in the frame, was a table, on which were a variety of knives, saws, hammers, and other tools.

A man walked into frame. Covering the man’s head was a white mask with no holes for seeing or breathing. It looked like spandex, and made his face nothing but a pristine white surface with a small lump where his nose jutted out. 

“Dude, what the…fuck?” Ryan said. I didn’t know what to say, so I just kept watching.

The man walked over to the table and picked up a hammer and a chisel.

“Uh…” Ryan began.

The man held up the hammer and chisel to the camera, and then walked behind the sobbing woman.

“Dude…” Ryan continued.

The man lined up the chisel on top of the woman’s head. She moved her head around trying to break free from her bindings, but to no avail. The man lined up the chisel in the center of the top of her head. He brought the hammer up, ready to swing.

“NOPE. We need to go, now.” Ryan said, taking the video out of the VCR and placing it back in the box he grabbed it from, making sure to put it back in the same spot. I clicked the light off as we stepped out of the room, and we both quickly replaced the false wall. We hurried up the stairs and made it to the back of the store. 

That’s when we heard people talking.

The voices of two men drifted from the front of the store to the back. 

“Alarm is off.” one of the voices asked.

“Maybe one of em’ forgot something.” the other replied.

“And left the alarm disabled? Parking lot is empty.”

Ryan and I swiftly but silently made our way to the back exit and got outside, carefully closing the door behind us. From there, we sprinted. We ran and we ran and we ran, until our legs wouldn’t allow us to run anymore. We stopped at a bench near a playground in one of the neighborhood parks. 

“Dude…” Ryan said in between panting. “I thought your fuckin’…parents owned the store.”

“They do….” I started. “My parents and my aunt and uncle. But that didn’t sound like my dad or my uncle.”

“That fucking video, dude…” Ryan said, clearly chaken.

“Yeah.” I replied. “I kn–”

I was cut off by my cell phone ringing. It was my dad. I showed it to Ryan, who told me to answer it, but to make myself sound like I was sleeping. In my groggiest voice, I answered.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Nick…where are you?” my dad asked.

“Ryan’s…I just fell asleep. What’s wrong?” I said in my most confused, concerned voice.

“Yeah, bud. We’re fine. Just couldn’t remember where you said you’d be tonight.” my dad replied.

“Oh…yeah. I’m at Ryan’s.”

“Alright, well. I’ll see you tomorrow then. Sorry to wake you.” my dad said.

“All good, no problem.

“Say, hey, Nick. Have you been to the store recently?” my dad finally asked, dropping his fake concern for my whereabouts and getting to the real point of the call.

“The video store? I was there like two months ago with Mike. Why?”

“No reason, just popped into my head. We moved some stuff around, thought I’d ask how you liked the new setup. Sorry to bother you, buddy. Get some sleep.”

“Alright…bye dad.” I ended the call and looked to Ryan, who was shaking his head.

“Dude, uh. We gotta call the cops. Those guys there, they probably own all that shit in the basement.” I said to Ryan.

“It’s your parent’s store’s basement, dude. They’ll arrest them too.”  Ryan warned.

“Well what the fuck…if they didn’t do anything wrong, they’ll have nothing to worry about. Let’s go find a payphone. That was fucking sick, dude. Jesus Christ.”

Ryan didn’t oppose me, I think because he knew I’d already made up my mind several blocks ago. We clung to shadows and skulked through backyards to get to a convenience store, outside of which sat one of the only operational payphones still in our area. I quickly dialed 9-1-1.

“9-1-1, what is your location?” the operator asked upon answering the call.

“Hi, yeah, I’d like to report something. There’s…like…videos of people being killed in the basement of Video West.” 

“I’m sorry, you said videos of people being killed?”

“Yeah, at Video West, the video store on 7th. There’s a bunch of tapes in the basement.”

“Okay, I’m gonna connect you to an officer.”

“No, no, just…go to the basement, there’s a fake wall and a bunch of boxes full of tapes. There were two guys there, maybe more. Be careful. Thanks, okay…bye.”

The operator started saying something but I hung up. When I turned around, Ryan was fighting against the breeze to light another joint. We sat outside the convenience store for a short while, smoking and talking about what we’d found. Before long, Ryan suggested we go back and watch them bust the video store. In my inebriated state, I thought it would be a good idea. I pondered the prospect of my entire life changing, but what we’d seen couldn’t go unreported.

We made the 20 minutes run back towards the store, and once it was within eyeshot, Ryan and I crouched down behind some bushes. Being that we lived in a small town, the police were already there by the time we arrived, and their car was parked next to another one, one I recognized. It was the Dodge pickup truck my dad had bought a year before. In the space next to my dad’s truck was another truck, that one a Chevy pickup.

Ryan and I watched as the lights inside the store shut off, and my parents, a cop walked out. They talked for a few minutes, shook hands, and each got into their cars. While my parents drove away, the cop sat in his car, and in the darkness of night we could see the glow from a cell phone light up the car. The cop appeared to make a call, and after about 10 seconds, the glow disappeared, he started his car, and drove off.

Ryan and I walked back to his house, discussing what we’d seen.

  • There were murder videos in the basement of my parent’s video store. That was a fact.
  • There was a possibility that my parents didn’t know about it, no matter how unlikely.
  • But I’d told the police exactly where to look, false wall and everything, so how did they not find it?

“We need to go back and get proof.” he proposed.

“How though? Obviously those dudes were aware as soon we went in, even though I shut off the security thing.”

“One problem at a time, man.” Ryan insisted. “Think about it, if we can get in and get a tape – fuck I knew I should have taken one – if we can get one and we turn it in, it won’t matter. Cops will protect us.”

“So what, we just go back? Whoever those dudes were, they’re probably cleaning it out right now.”

“Well…the cops didn’t do anything, so maybe they think everything is all good? They don’t know why the cops showed up, they probably think it was the alarm or something. We just gotta go back tomorrow night and get a tape, in and out. It might…you know, get your parents store shut down and fuck their lives up, but like you said, they probably don’t know anything about it.”

It didn’t sound right. I knew full well that if there was a hidden room in the basement of Video West, my parents knew about. I figured there had to be a reason though, for them to know about it and not do anything.

We made it back to Ryan’s and while he eventually fell asleep, I sat up the rest of the night in an uneasy consciousness. 

I called my brother for a ride, but unsurprisingly he didn’t answer. Since he turned 18, he’d spent less and less time at home. I walked with my right hand in my pocket, fumbling the key around. On my way home, I took a short detour and got a copy of the key made for our apparent return to Video West later that night.

When I finally got home, there were two police cars parked in front of my house. Only my brother’s car and my mom’s were in the driveway. My heart leapt to my throat, and I was terrified. Had the cops somehow known it was me who made the call? Did my parents know it was me who had been in the store? I decided not to delay the inevitable and trudged up the walkway to my house.

I stepped through my front door and looked to my left, finding two police officers standing in the living room with my brother, who was sitting on the couch, his head in his hands.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Hi, son.” the taller of the cops said. Either one of the cops in my living room could have been the one my parents had met with last night; we’d was too far away to see any defining features. “You uh, you wanna sit down?”

I looked at my brother, who raised his head from his hands long enough for me to see that he was crying.

“What the fuck is going on?” I demanded.

“Your parents, uh. Your parents were in a car accident last night.” the tall cop explained, regret in his voice.

My heart sank from my throat to my stomach. 

“And…and they–” I began.

“Yeah.” the short cop was kind enough to not make me say it. “They uh…yeah. I’m so sorry.”

I didn’t know what to say. My whole body felt numb. My vision narrowed.

My parents were dead.

 

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