Alex Reagan: Oh my god Richard! Look at all of he children in this photo! They all look exactly like Sebastian Torres!
Richard Strand: I suppose that's true, if you ignore the fact that this child is blond, this child is a red head, this child is asian, and this child is clearly female.
Alex Reagan: God damn it Richard I am so tired of you having a calm logical explanation for clearly inexplicable occurrences! You can't just pass this one off by saying "apophenia this" and "Alex, most children have two eyes, a nose, and a mouth" that!
Richard Strand: So I take it you aren't sleeping again?
Alex Reagan: Look, the fact that I spend every harried night haunted by the echoes of a song I can't quite hear, the whispered suggestions that I put an end to this farce by killing first myself and then everyone I love, the appearance of scar tissue in the shape of various occult sigils on my arms and legs and torso, and a person I don't quite recognize staring back at me in the mirror has nothing to do with your inability to admit that this Chinese boy has distinctly hispanic features!
Richard Strand: ...Anyway, have you ever heard of stirpiculture? It was an early eugenics program practiced by the Oneida Community, with the goal of producing children that were physically, mentally, and spiritually superior to the average human.
Alex Reagan: Wait, they're a weird sex cult? I love weird sex cults!
Alex Reagan: Hey Richard? Why is there an asterix next to the name of this Oneida Community child?
Richard Strand: Oh, that kid was just weighed and found wanting, so this child and his father were banished from the community, driven into the wilderness where they would be claimed by the fell god Valbardok.
Alex Reagan: Wait, this photo of the boy's father ... isn't that Charles Guiteau, the man who assassinated President James A Garfield in order to prevent the Order of the Cenophus from taking over the American Government and installing a cabal of lizard people as Rulers Supreme?
Richard Strand: Your history books are very different than my history books.
Alex Reagan: Dr. Strand's insistence on "evidence" to "prove" all of my "crazy ideas" and "wild conspiracy theories" was weighing heavily upon me. In order to justify myself once and for all, I decided to track down Daniel Guiteau, kidnap him, tie him to a chair, and tickle him until he agreed to corroborate all of the very sound and in no way unreasonable hypothesis that I have conveniently stapled to the wall of the breakroom at PNWS.
Nic Silver: Okay Alex, so two things. One, it is still a crime to kidnap, falsely imprison, and torture American Citizens, and I don't care what precedents were set in Guantanamo Bay, you are a journalist and are not allowed to use extraordinary rendition. Second, even if S&M was a legitimate investigation technique, I have no idea where we would even begin looking for a guy who died in the early 1900s.
Alex Reagan: You know what Nic? I have the weirdest feeling that these Black Tapes will come to an unsatisfying conclusion, leaving me, you, Strand, and our listeners with a hollow feeling of disappointment.
Alex Reagan: My head spun with questions. With nobody to stalk or harass, I was at a dead end. Hoping to pick up the lose threads of our investigation, I turned to Andrew Verk, Professor of American Mysticism at Fordham University, NY.
Professor Exposition McInfodump: Hi Alex! It's super interesting you called, I was just working on a research paper about George Jurris, who became Daniel Guiteau's legal guardian after the mysterious death of his father!
Jurris studied with a bunch of monks in Russia and Bulgaria, where they taught him the ways of Pythagorean magic! Their leader was a man named Cenothas, which means "spiky one", a title he earned due to the boney, demonic protrusions erupting from his skin and devil-like horns on his head.
When Jurris completed his studies, he returned to America and founded a community dedicated to discovering the ancient melody that would rend the veil between this world and the next, and tracking down the blood lines that are capable of playing the song that will end the world!
When Jurris met Daniel, he wrote that "This is one of them!" in his notebook and underlined it like a million times. But then he spent the night at the Sagamore hotel, where he left a note claiming that the "demons had found him." He committed suicide by throwing himself off a balcony, shooting himself in the head nine times, strangling himself, and then drowning himself in the river.
Alex Reagan: Wait, are you saying that the haunted hotel from our very first episode is in fact plagued by the restless spirit of a man trained in the occult arts by the Monks of Glushka, a man who's breeding program culminated in Dr. Richard Strand and the boy haunted by a shadow demon in the very first Black Tape?
Professor Exposition McInfodump: ...I don't remember saying any of that, but I do drink heavily, so I guess anything is possible!
Alex Reagan: Nic, I have a confession to make. I grabbed a package out of the lobby, thinking it was for me, but ...I stole your socks. Yes, your Bombas socks. I took them all, and I'm wearing them right now. You have very small feet. It's almost embarrassing.
Also, if you could forward that package to me? I'm afraid that the severed head will start to smell if I don't get it in the fridge soon.
Alex Reagan: Oh my god Richard! I discovered that a man you never heard about before was murdered for trying to release the ancient secrets of the Order of the Cenophus! And I realized that the only man who has ever successfully escaped the order is Percival Black! And I also discovered that this man you never heard of invented the Exorcism Machine used on some guy named John when the Men in Black were performing some arcane ritual on Jessica Weldon! And that Thomas Warren is working with the Order!
Richard Strand: Well, Thomas Warren is a billionaire, and if there's anything billionaires love it's money, so I assume Thomas Warren is hoping to use the power of religion to pilfer money from gullible but well meaning rubes.
Alex Reagan: Well that's one theory, but I think I need to confront Thomas Warren face-to-face and accuse him of playing a central role in an ancient plot to unravel the very fabric of creation using a profane combination of science, math, music, and mysticism. That's called journalism!
Alex Reagan: Hi Thomas Warren! I have a copy of the Horn of Tiamat, and I'd love to show it to you if you'd just answer a few questions about the Order of the Cenophus!
Thomas Warren: I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter!
Alex Reagan: Just kidding, I only pretended that I was going to give you the final key in your monstrous plan to unleash a horde of shadow demons from their eternal prison! But I would still like all of those answers please!
Thomas Warren: Alex, you are literally the worst journalist in the history of the written word, and I, along with all of my goons, are going to storm out of the cafe just as soon as my lackeys are done remote wiping your phone and breaking into your car.
Dr. Jane Martindale, McGill University: Hi Alex! Thanks for not telling everyone that my real name is Lisa Trove, and that I live at 123 Fourth Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada! I bet I would be in a lot of serious trouble if the bad guys knew how to track down one of the five people in the world capable of translating the Horn of Tiamat, and the only one living in Canada! Anyway, I stumbled across some prophecy about demons and water and power and Switzerland. Hope this complicates everything!
Richard Strand: Alex, normally I find the spurious connections you draw based on the flimsiest of evidence to be infuriating, but this talk of water and power has for some reason reminded me of this Black Tape:
Alex Reagan: The tape is marked Rolling Hills. In the video, we see four children, standing in a candlelit room, chanting into a mirror:
Believe in four, he's at the door
Believe in three, he comes for thee
Believe in two, he's coming through
Believe in one, and he will come
The tape cuts out. When it starts up again, the children are standing by a patio door. It's dark outside, and we see them reflected in the glass. Again they chant. Their dog whimpers and runs away. The children open their eyes.
For a moment, nothing. And then they realize that some ... thing is standing behind them. Something tall and dark. Something old and awful. A beast with gnarled hair and teeth.
I had seen this creature before, in a dream. Standing by my bed. Holding a decapitated cat, and licking my toes.
These children had summoned ... the Babadook.
Richard Strand: ...I ... it's Tall Paul, Alex. The kids summon Tall Paul. Jesus. I am trying to drop a shattering reveal. Will you fucking work with me here?
Alex Reagan: The Black Tapes is a production of Pacific Northwest Stories and Minnow Beats Whale. Join us next time, when I investigate the inexplicable connection between Richard Strand and the Torres family, and we do a deep dive on the prevalence of a foot fetish among musically inclined shadow demons. I'm Alex Reagan, and we'll be back in two weeks.