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Investigation Into the Velazquez Shooting, Part 3

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INTERVIEW WITH JOHN DOE (10/31/19)


RH=Sgt. Hendrickson
MB=Chief Barker (over radio)
SW=Ofc. Wilkins
JD=John Doe
W=Woman (unknown)
M1=Man (unknown)
M2=Man (unknown)
*=unknown spelling

RH: The time is 1:54 am. Today is Mon- no, Tuesday, October 31, 2019. This is Sergeant Raphaelle Hendrickson with the Internal Affairs Division of the Memphis Police Department, preparing to interview the suspect currently designated John Doe. The interrogation room is ready. I’ve got the water. Got the coffee. Got the computer.

[1.5 SEC PAUSE]

Let’s do this.

[4.0 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

[RADIO SIGNAL]

RH: Chief?

MB: Riffraff? You still gonna go through with this?

RH: Yes, sir. Can you see me?

MB: Yeah.

RH: Are the doors ready?

MB: Everything outside the basement can be locked and unlocked from here.

RH: I’ve gone through and locked all the doors down here. The keys are…

MB: On my desk. Yeah. I know. Have I mentioned I hate this plan?

RH: I’m not crazy about it myself. You know how many rules we’re breakin’ right now?

MB: Fuck the rules. This goes bad, you got no backup.

RH: I know, right? Which is hard to pull off in the middle of a police station. This is the one time and place where I’m not gonna get rescued to death.

MB: I know. You keep sayin’ that. Doesn’t make me like it.

RH: You can call it off now and I’ll go home and go to bed - it’s way past the end of my shift. We can let him out in the morning. Like, happy Halloween, Memphis.

MB: You got a third option?

RH: We could interview him the usual way. Like you said, we tried it once and everybody lived.

MB: How about a fourth option?

RH: We could try again with the intercom. Or we could give him a phone, Skype him…

MB: You know that ain’t gonna work. Unless you’re right there in the room with him he’s just gonna be speakin’ that mystery language. Convenient, huh?

RH: For him, yeah. But think about it. If he’s been doin’ all this just so he can be alone with me and open his jaws real wide and chomp my head off - well, that’s a pretty stupid endgame. I mean, what’s he gonna do after dinner? He’s still stuck here and now you know for sure he’s a threat.

MB: I still think there might be a - what are we on now? Fifth? Sixth?

RH: Fifth.

MB: Okay, gimme a fifth option.

RH: We could hand him over to ICE.

MB: What.

RH: Well, he’s got nothin’ on him saying who he is or where he was born. He’s definitely an undocumented alien - maybe a literal one. Hand him over and say, “Hey, we got this guy, we asked him where he’s from and he won’t give us a straight answer, maybe you can get him to talk.”

MB: How about no.

[2.5 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

RH: I’m heading up the stairs.

MB: Yeah, I can still see you.

RH: There’s still time to call it off.

MB: It’s not so much the plan I hate - it’s you bein’ in the middle of it. I feel like if we worked on it a little more we could come up with a way to keep you safe along with everybody else.

RH: Here’s how I see it, Chief. If he’s harmless, no problem. We can sit up all night and watch Netflix. If he’s dangerous, either I find out the hard way tonight or we let him go and somebody else finds out the hard way later on. Some other woman or some man or some child. Somebody who didn’t volunteer to face danger - didn’t even know there was any danger. That - I’m not okay with that. I mean this is what they pay us for.

MB: Jesus, Riffraff.

RH: Why do you think I’m so popular? Other cops are goin’ out on the street where they could get shot, stabbed, hit by a car during a traffic stop. And here’s me sittin’ on my ass in this nice safe building critiquing their work.

MB: That why you feel like you gotta be the one to do this?

RH: That and the fact that I’m the one who came up with this plan in the first place.

[DOOR]

[2.0 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

MB: Well, listen - in case I don’t get the chance to tell you this later on, people here like you better than you think.

RH: Thanks. ‘Course, you never know when I might have to make another arrest.

MB: If there’s ever anythin’ I can do for you, you just let me know, okay?

RH: How about no more “Rocky Horror Picture Show” jokes from now until forever?

MB: I can’t promise you that.

RH: Meh, worth a shot.

MB: Talk to you later. Take care.

RH: Later.

[3.5 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

SW: Sergeant Hendrickson.

RH: I’m here to take John Doe to interrogation.

SW: Yeah, the Chief said I should just do whatever you say. You brought him coffee?

RH: Uh-huh. Half-and-half, sugar, the works.

SW: You know, he looks totally different when he’s asleep. It’s weird. I can even see his extra fingers now.

RH: Whatever it is, he can’t do it in his sleep. That’s somethin’.

SW: Huh?

RH: Nothin’.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

Roberts should be leavin’ in a few minutes, right?

SW: Yeah. Why? You wanna wait for him to go?

RH: It’s imperative that as few people be around as possible.

SW: Because…

RH: Just trust me on this.

[2.5 SEC PAUSE]

SW: Can I ask you a, um - I’m not sure if this is a personal question or not…

RH: Only one way to find out.

SW: Who’s Jack?

RH: What have you been hearing?

SW: Sergeant Raeber said if the - uh, the lady from IA gives you a hard time again, you should ask her about Jack.

RH: Of course he did.

SW: Sorry. Like I said, I’m new and I don’t know all the, uh…

RH: I know.

[2.5 SEC PAUSE]

Look, I’m only tellin’ you this ‘cause if I don’t, somebody else will, and every other version of this story makes me sound like the Memphis Machiavelli or somethin’. There was a guy named Jackson - detective, Felony Response - really good guy. Friends with everybody. Including me.

SW: Just friends?

RH: He was happily married - devoted to his wife - and I’ve never been into datin’ my co-workers. So yeah. Good friends, but just friends. Thing is, I was also friends with his wife. Good friends. Good enough to share secrets. One night we get into the margaritas and she tells me she’s havin’ an affair.

SW: Awkward.

RH: Yeah. She wasn’t exactly braggin’ about it. She didn’t want to hurt anybody. It was all - swept away, throes of passion, the heart wants what it wants, blah blah blah. And - nobody believes this, but it’s true - after she told me that, I kept my mouth shut. For a while. Then one night - three weeks, maybe a month later - Jack’s workin’ late on an after-action report and he’s makin’ so many mistakes I tell him he should clock out early, go home, get some sleep. Out of nowhere he’s crying. Not sobbin’ but I can see the tears runnin’ down his face. I sit down with him in the break room, ask him what’s wrong and he tells me he thinks his wife’s cheatin’ on him. Now, I thought I had a pretty good poker face, but he - I’ll say it, he was a better cop than me and he saw right through it and he was like, “Do you know something?” And, um…

SW: And what?

RH: I couldn’t lie to him. I couldn’t. I straight up told him everything. He didn’t even get mad at me - he said “Thank you.” He said, “Riffraff, you’re the best friend I”…

SW: Riffraff? That’s your nickname?

RH: Mm-hm. Raphaelle - Riffraff. It’s something my friends call me.

SW: That’s funny, ‘cause I’ve never heard anybody in the precinct…

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

Oh.

RH: Yeah. A few nights later he got drunk, there was an argument and he hit her. Not just a slap, either - he knocked her down. Left a bruise. And guess who she came to.

SW: You?

RH: Yeah.

SW: I take it she didn’t know you’d…

RH: Tattled on her? No. Like I said, Jack was a detective - a good one. Detectives detect shit. If you’re married to a detective and you cheat on him, it’s not a great mystery if he finds out. Anyway, what was I supposed to do? Honestly, I wanted to smack her around a little myself, but there are laws against spousal abuse and they don’t have a exemption for if somebody cheats. And I was an officer in guess what division?

SW: Not - that’s right, you said earlier you were in Domestic Violence.

RH: Mm-hm.

SW: Shit.

RH: And the best part? She didn’t even go through official channels - she took it straight to me.

SW: So nobody knew about this except…

RH: Yeah.

SW: And you arrested him? Is that - I mean, are you supposed to arrest people you’re friends with?

RH: Where in this department would we have found somebody who wasn’t friends with him? I went to him and he confessed. Not much else to do after that.

SW: Oh, man. What happened to him?

RH: He pled guilty and got a deferred sentence - volunteer work and shit. There was a big stink about it online - a wife-beater gettin’ a sweet deal ‘cause he’s a cop, people said. Or rather, he was a cop. We had to let him go. Course, that was nothin’ compared to the stink inside the department. I’d cost them their best officer ‘cause I just had to do the right thing. Some people blamed me for talkin’, some people blamed me for not talkin’ sooner - some dumbasses said I’d gotten him out of the way so I could get his job even though we were in totally different divisions. Anyway, the Chief decided I’d do better in IA. And that’s the story. You can believe it or not…

SW: No, I believe you. I mean, I think if you were gonna make up a story to make you look good, that wouldn’t be it.

RH: Your honesty is much appreciated.

[1.5 SEC PAUSE]

His shift is up - shouldn’t he have left by now?

SW: I think Roberts is gonna stick around until Morrison comes in.

RH: Which’ll be a while ‘cause Morrison’s got punctuality issues. Can’t put this off any longer.

[4.5 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

[KNOCKING ON CELL BARS]

Good evening, Mr. Kishlau*. This is Sergeant Raphaelle Hendrickson of Internal Affairs. I’m sorry to wake you up, but I’ve been put in charge of your case. Would you like some coffee?

JD: Yes. Thank you.

RH: No problem.

[13.5 SEC PAUSE]

Got a sweet tooth, huh?

JD: (1.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “I need the calories.” That makes sense. You’ve been livin’ pretty rough out there. Incidentally, um, this conversation is being recorded and for purposes of clarity I’m going to be repeating everything you say exactly as I hear it. I hope you don’t mind.

JD: No, (0.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “No, not at all.” Good. I hope the coffee’s warm enough. Obviously we can’t be bringin’, you know, scaldin’ hot liquids in here and handin’ ‘em around to everybody.

[21.5 SEC PAUSE, DRINKING]

You’ve finished it? Okay. You’ll probably wanna use the john before we do anything else.

[15.5 SEC PAUSE, URINATION]

[FLUSH]

[9.0 SEC PAUSE, RUNNING WATER]

Now I need you to come over here.

[3.0 SEC PAUSE]

I’m looking at a man who calls himself - lemme look at this again - Yuvirikoi* Mwa-al* Yang* Kishlau* - exact spelling unknown. He looks - stand up straight - thank you, he looks to be about 6’5”, which is consistent with the booking officer’s report. This is more noticeable when he stands - his arms and legs appear to be longer than average, with large hands and feet. He appears to be in his mid-fifties, with a slender build. His ethnic background is difficult to determine by sight. Sort of medium brown complexion - wavy shoulder-length hair - hair and beard black but going gray - heavily lined face - prominent cheekbones - black eyes. Please extend your hands out between the bars, one over the other.

[2.0 SEC PAUSE, CLICK OF HANDCUFFS]

Thank you. I know they’re uncomfortable. This is just a precaution until we get to the interrogation room. I should mention that his most noticeably different feature is the presence of an extra finger on each hand, apparently functional. I think all this is consistent with our photographs of you. If it is, the cell door w- ah, it’s already unlocked. Please come with me. I’m going to ask you some questions.

JD: Okay.

RH: Repea- wait, that sounded different. That was in real English, wasn’t it?

JD: Yes.

RH: Yeah, I noticed you do know a few words.

JD: Yes.

RH: Nice to know I don’t have to repeat every damn thing.

SW: Hey, are you gonna be okay alone with him?

RH: Yes.

SW: You’re sure you don’t want somebody comin’ with you?

RH: Listen carefully, Steve. Whatever happens, remain at your post. If anything you see or hear makes you think I’m in danger or under attack, remain at your post. If other officers are coming to my aid, don’t join them - remain at your post. No. Matter. What. You got that?

SW: Uh… yeah.

RH: Good man.

SW: Good luck. Hey - can I call you Riffraff?

[2.5 SEC PAUSE]

RH: Um - on the understanding that it won’t stop me from bustin’ your ass if I have to, yes, you may.

SW: Thanks.

[9.5 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

[DOOR]

[CLICK]

JD: (2.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “Did the door just lock behind us?” Yes, it did. All the doors to this stairwell are now locked except for the one to the basement. Keep going.

[10.0 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

This is the basement. Nobody ever comes down here on the night shift, so we just keep everything locked up.

[3.5 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

[DOOR]

[CLICK]

JD: (1.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “Where are you taking me?” Relax. I’m not gonna - nobody’s gonna hurt you. I know how this looks - you bein’ taken down to the basement in the middle of the night.

[2.5 SEC PAUSE]

Okay, look. You heard the door to the stairs lock behind us, right? All the doors down here are locked except one and I don’t have the keys. So either we keep going or you stand here in the hallway all night. I mean, you know they’re watchin’ you, right? The people lockin’ and unlockin’ all these doors? They got a plan for if you try to escape.

JD: (1.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: I don’t have the slightest - wait, sorry. Repeating - “What’s the plan?” I don’t have a clue. They came up with it when I was out of the room. So even if you can read my mind, you don’t know either. I only know two things - I’m totally expendable, and you gotta sleep sometime. Sooner than you think, in fact. That coffee I gave you? Decaf.

JD: (2.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: (2.5 SEC LAUGHING) Repeating - “Ack, ack, you poisoned me.” You do have a sense of humor after all. Look, the fact that you can understand me and I can understand you proves you’re in my head at least a little bit. Can you tell I’m not lying?

JD: (8.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “Mostly. You asked the Chief to think of you as expendable for the purpose of this exercise, so you couldn’t be used as a hostage.”

JD: (8.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “You have no confidence that he can or will actually do that. But everything else you said is true. Lead the way.” Good man.

[2.5 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

JD: (3.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “I’d still like to know what you’re going to do to me.” I’m gonna ask you some questions. You can answer them or not. The Chief’s listenin’. He’ll decide what to do with you, and he’ll only be usin’ the information that you provide. He will not be listenin’ to any personal input or observations from me.

JD: (1.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “You mean you asked him not to.” Yeah. Basically if you try to control me or compromise my judgment in any way - brainwash me, make me fall in love with you, whatever - it’s not gonna get you outta this basement.

[9.0 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

We use this room for long-term evidence storage. I think - yes, we put all your stuff in here to keep it safer. That’ll make things easier if the Chief decides to just let you go. In the meantime, we laundered all your clothes. Except for the coat - no clue how to wash that.

JD: Thank you.

RH: No problem. A lot of what’s in here is stuff that’s meant to be kept confidential, so we have a burglar-proof door.

[DOOR]

Which I’ve just closed behind us. It’s locked, and I don’t have the key. Neither one of us is getting outta here until the Chief comes down and lets us out. Sit down.

[7.5 SEC PAUSE, CLICK OF HANDCUFFS]

There. The cuffs are off, and I have nothing on me that I can use as a weapon. Again, can you tell I’m not lying?

JD: (1.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “You’re telling the truth.” Good. I’m glad you can tell. So you understand - in this room the only harm we can do to each other is with our bare hands. And, um, you’re bigger than me. So you’re not the one who needs to be worried.

JD: (3.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “For all I know you have a black belt in” - oh, bullshit. (1.5 SEC LAUGH) Situation like this, Krav Maga might as well be Hava Nagila. We’ve seen what happens when somebody tries to hurt you.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

Actually, if you really wanna screw me over, wait till the interview’s done and then go back to your cell shoutin’ “Help, help, I’m really Raphaelle Hendrickson, he switched bodies with me somehow.” I don’t know what they’ll do to me but it’ll probably involve a sniper on a roof three blocks away. Just to be on the safe side.

JD: (2.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “You’re lying. Anyway, I can’t really do that.” Yeah, I didn’t think you could but I wasn’t sure. So let’s talk about what you can do. And before you get started, let me remind you I’m in Internal Affairs. So, you know, you’re not the only one who can tell when people are lyin’. Here’s the first question.

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

JD: (0.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “Only a little.” Now does that mean you can only read a little of my mind, or only a little at a time or what?

JD: (6.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “Imagine an office building or a factory - a huge, busy building full of activity.”

JD: (5.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “But most of the windows are dark, and most of the workers are blind.”

JD: (3.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Usually only one room at a time is ever lit.”

JD: (6.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Most often it’s the entrance hall, which is lined with mirrors that reflect the outside.”

JD: (4.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “The building is your mind. The lit room is your attention.”

JD: (6.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “I can only see into the lit room, to whatever is foremost in your mind at the moment.”

JD: (6.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “I can tell what you’re trying to say - and, to a certain extent, what you’re trying not to say.”

JD: (5.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “But the bulk of your thoughts and memories remain hidden from me.” So, basically, don’t think of an elephant. Or - actually, do think of an elephant if it’ll keep you from thinkin’ about whatever it is you’re tryin’ to hide.

JD: Yes.

RH: Okay, next question - can you control my mind?

JD: No.

RH: How much can you influence my mind?

JD: (4.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “I can make you understand my words. I can’t make you believe them.”

JD: (7.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “If I knew what face and voice would elicit the greatest trust from you, I could adopt them.”

JD: (4.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “But I can’t see far enough into your mind to know these things.” Good. Speakin’ of adoptin’ faces and voice, seems like you can make people see and hear whatever you want ‘em to. How far does that go?

JD: (1.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “Not as far as you might think.”

JD: (4.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “I can plant specific images in specific minds if I concentrate.”

JD: (8.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “What I most often do is encourage the mind in question not to pay too much attention, to see me as normal.”

JD: (2.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Their minds invent the details.” Explains why no two people see you the same way. Question - can you use this to make yourself completely invisible?

JD: (1.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “Most of the time, yes.”

JD: (6.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “But if people are looking for me, or are generally alert to their surroundings, I can’t hide from them.”

JD: (6.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “There are those of my kind who have greater power and can hide from anyone present.” That sorta leads me to my next question. What are you?

JD: (3.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “Human. But a different kind of human.”

JD: (5.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Our evolutionary paths diverged before the Toba eruption.” I’ll have to look that one up. Where do you come from?

JD: (1.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “Earth - but not this Earth.”

JD: (6.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “There are countless parallel worlds, lines branching out from one another.” Are we talkin’, like, alternate histories? Like the South winnin’ the Civil War?

JD: (6.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating - “I was once in a world where that happened. Not a nice place, but I escaped with an extra pair of pants.”

JD: (2.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Anyway, yes, that’s the general idea.” Is that why none of your clothes and stuff - it’s all brands we’ve never heard of? It all comes from different worlds?

JD: Yes.

RH: You mentioned others of your kind. How many of y’all are out there?

JD: (1.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “We can’t exactly do a census.”


JD: (5.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “But I believe there are as many as half a dozen grosses of grosses of us left in the multiverse.” I got a calculator on my phone. Gimme a sec.

[8.5 SEC PAUSE]

So 124,416 - only you don’t mean that as an exact number, do you?

JD: No.

RH: So how come we’ve never run into y’all before? I mean, as good as you are at hiding you can’t fool the camera.

JD: (7.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “The number of possible worlds is orders of magnitude greater than the number of atoms in this universe.” (1.0 SEC WHISTLING)

JD: (7.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “I’m almost certainly the first of my kind ever to set foot in your world, and I only meant to be passing through.” Hell of a welcome you got. Sorry about that. And I got some more questions. But first, I got some water bottles down here. Do you need a drink of water?

JD: No.

RH: Well, I do. Talkin’ for two is thirsty work.

[24.0 SEC PAUSE, DRINKING]

Okay. First of all, your name. Yuvirikoi* Mwa-al* Yang* Kishlau*. Did I pronounce that right?

JD: (0.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “Close enough.” Should I call you Yuvirikoi* or what?

JD: (9.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “That’s my family name. ‘Mwa-al* Yang*’ means ‘two dozen and ten.’ That is how many generations my family remembers.”

JD: (6.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Kishlau* is my personal name. If you want to be familiar, call me ‘Kish*’.” Yeah. I’m makin’ a lot of friends tonight. Let’s talk about how you get from one world to another. Do you have some kind of machine or vehicle or somethin’?

JD: No. (2.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “The power is built into us.” Does this have anything to do with that chalk thing you drew around that doorway in the alley?

JD: Yes. (5.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “The pattern and the symbols focus the mind to travel a specific distance and direction.” So you could leave any time you like, only you’re not sure where you’ll end up?

JD: No. (0.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “I’m stranded.” You mean that power has stopped working for you?

JD: Yes.

RH: Obviously, though, you’ve still got the others.

JD: Yes.

RH: Do you have any idea how it happened?

JD: Yes. (4.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “Whenever one of us enters a world, we change it slightly.”

JD: (7.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “But the changes are small and generally lost amid the chaos. Or they don’t manifest until many years later.”

JD: (7.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “If we change a world too much - a major change that’s easily seen - we become a part of that world and can never leave.” The Velazquez shooting.

JD: Yes.

RH: Yeah, I was meanin’ to ask you about that. I guess now is as good a time as any. Last Thursday afternoon, as you were exiting the Safeway, did you have a gun?

JD: No.

RH: Why was Officer Mitchell so sure you had a gun?

JD: (9.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “As I said, the way I normally use my power is to make others see what they expect to see - something ordinary, boring, forgettable.”

JD: (6.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “In this case, it backfired. Your officer was already anticipating violence.”

JD: (5.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “He expected to see a man drawing a gun, so that’s what he saw.”

JD: (6.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “By the time I realized what had happened, he was already preparing to fire.”

JD: (7.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “In that moment it was all I could do to duck without letting him see that I was ducking.” So, this stranding - it’s permanent?

JD: Yes.

[3.0 SEC PAUSE]

RH: I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

What do you guys do when you’re stuck somewhere?

JD: (3.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “Make a life for ourselves as best we can.”

JD: (6.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “If we can, we create a safehouse where our people can stop and rest from their journeys.”

JD: (5.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “A place for a hot meal and a change of clothes. A shower and a laundry.”

JD: (3.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “A place where our women can give birth, where our injured can heal.”

JD: (7.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “A place where we leave the stories of everywhere we’ve been, and everything we’ve seen.” You could create somewhere like that. Here in town.

JD: (2.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “If I had the resources I could.” Well, if you want money, I suggest you auction off the coat and the bag. Whatever they’re made from has gotta be worth a few hundred million at least.

JD: (3.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Others have tried elsewhere to do things like that.”

JD: (10.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “The problem is that a piece of advanced technology is of little use without the secret of how it was made. And I don’t know how this material was made.” Yeah. Where did you get them, anyway?

JD: (3.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Those come from a world far more advanced than this one.”

JD: (9.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “They quickly found us out. A few of us were stranded there. The rest were treated kindly, given gifts and sent on our way.”

JD: (5.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “They also boosted our immune systems. So wherever we go, we needn’t fear sickness.” And we needn’t fear catchin’ smallpox or mutant death flu from you, right?

JD: Right.

RH: So you don’t have anything you can use?

JD: (10.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “When I was younger I memorized a few secrets - how to make penicillin, how to mass-produce graphene - just in case.” We’ve had penicillin for a while now, but graphene - you might be able to do somethin’ with that.

JD: (9.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “I’ve never actually tried doing it myself. Even if I was sure I remembered all the instructions, I’d need access to a lab.” You’d probably also need to produce research showin’ how you discovered it. Just so whoever you were doin’ business with could be sure they weren’t buyin’ a stolen secret.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

One question about these safehouses. How do you find them? In fact - you said the number of worlds was “greater than the number of atoms in the universe” - how do y’all even find each other in all that? How do you stay in touch?

JD: (6.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “It’s one of our powers. We can detect each other across miles of ground and years of divergence.”

JD: (4.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “For instance, right now I can tell that a small group of my kind are approaching.” Uh, where are they at this moment?

JD: (7.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “They’re here in Memphis, in the general direction of President Clinton trying to pass drug law reform.”

JD: (2.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “I was in that world not long ago.” Sounds like they’re lookin’ for you.

JD: (2.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “The papers I kept in the envelope - are they still here?” They should be with the rest of your…

[7.0 SEC PAUSE, RUSTLING PAPERS]

Yeah, here they are.

[2.5 SEC PAUSE]

That where y’all come from?

JD: No. (5.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “This is where some of us are going. Think of it as our Promised Land.”

JD: (7.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “You see, many of my people—especially the young—find our lives unsatisfying.”

JD: (9.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “We see and hear wonders and terrors beyond your imagination. But all we do is see and hear.”

JD: (3.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “We don’t dare try to affect anything.”

JD: (9.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “We pass through worlds like shadows, stealing only what won’t be missed and giving back nothing at all.” I didn’t wanna criticize y’all, but yeah. I mean, it sounds like a cool way to spend a vacation but I wouldn’t wanna live that way.

JD: (8.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “A world to call home - to touch and change and love and protect - many would trade the multiverse for that.” I can imagine.

JD: (6.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Especially since when we do change a world, it’s accidentally and thus almost always for the worse.”

JD: (7.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “I’m a case in point. Because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, an innocent woman is dead.”

JD: (6.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “I have changed your world in the worst possible way. I can only ask your forgiveness.” It wasn’t your fault. You know that, right? She’s dead because one of us had a gun in his hand and was careless with it.

JD: (4.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “I used my powers as carelessly as he used his gun.”

[4.0 SEC PAUSE]

RH: Tell me more about this Promised Land of yours. What makes it special?

JD: (6.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “This world and yours diverged before Columbus sailed. There are many differences.”

JD: (9.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “The key difference is a virus that attacks human T-cells made the leap from apes to humans in the seventeenth century.”

JD: (3.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “It suppressed the growth of the human population.”

JD: (4.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Technologically, they’re about where this world was in the year 1900.”

JD: (4.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Except that no one has invented the photograph yet.” Lucky for you guys.

JD: (4.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Luck has nothing to do with it. We chose this world carefully.” I bet.

JD: (4.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Their population is about an eighth of the population of this world.”

JD: (5.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “So there’s still room for a good many mysterious strangers.”

JD: (7.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “My oldest son is in Gwambar*, on the east coast of Calisylvania* - what you call South America.”

JD: (5.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “He’s a pharmacist. He’s introduced some new antibiotics. He’s married to a local woman.”

JD: (6.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “His children have only five fingers and toes on each hand, and we don’t yet know if they’ll have our powers.”

JD: (5.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “My other son is a trader in Akshania*, in central Hesperia.” According to the map, that’s right where we are.

JD: Yes. (10.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “He travels the river they call the Akshah* Otima - you call it the Missouri and Mississippi - from the Batavian* High Plains to the Tainoan* Sea.” Sounds like they’re both doin’ all right. Are all your people going there?

JD: (7.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Only some of us are permitted to go there. It’s my duty to choose who can go and show them the directions.”

JD: (10.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Of those who may go, half settle in Hesperia* and Calisylvania*. The rest settle in India or Looshacia* - what you know as Australia.”

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

This is kind of a personal question, but - if you’re their father, who’s their mother?

JD: (5.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “I had a wife once. She was my companion on my journeys for many years.” What happened to her?

JD: (6.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “We lingered too long in a world ravaged by nuclear war. Isotopes got into her body.” Oh, no.

JD: (4.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Her strengthened immune system only prolonged her suffering.” I’m so sorry.

[7.5 SEC PAUSE]

Your people - you have to have come from somewhere. Is there any reason you can’t go back?

JD: Yes. (3.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “We aren’t just travelers. We’re refugees.”

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

What are y’all runnin’ away from?

JD: (2.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “Something unnameable.”

JD: (4.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “We are not the only ones whose senses reach beyond the world we’re in.”

JD: (2.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “It knows when one of us is thinking of it.”

JD: (6.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “To speak its name and describe its nature is to give it a channel into a new world.”

JD: (8.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “I’ve already said more than I should. I won’t answer any more questions on this matter. Please change the subject.” Um, okay. What would you like to talk about?

[2.5 SEC PAUSE]

JD: Pilar Velazquez.

RH: You want to talk about her?

JD: (1.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “I think we should.”

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

Well, I mean, what’s left to say? She’s been in the newspapers so much already. She was 31. She had three kids. The oldest was in kindergarten. She worked at a hair salon. She was born in Veracruz. Some little shitsplat in our fucking press office decided to release that she was here on an expired visa, like that’s a capital offense. Anyway, her husb- widower’s a U.S. citizen.

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

And now she’s dead and I don’t even know if the DA’s office is gonna do anything. If they do, God only knows if the jury’s gonna convict. Fucking juries.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

All I know is, the widower’s gonna sue us, and he’s gonna win. It’ll be big. Tens of millions, probably. The city’s gonna pay for it. And then the city treasurer’s gonna come ‘round and have a talk with us like we’re a bunch of rich teenage fuckups and Daddy had to bail us out again.

[1.5 SEC PAUSE]

And I don’t even know if it makes any difference if we prosecute Mitch or not. If we do we’re admittin’ he fucked up, and that’s pretty much the whole deal right there. If we don’t it’s like we’re sayin’, “Fuck all of y’all, we’re cops. We can do a human sacrifice and call it self-defense. You wanna hold us accountable, you’re gonna have to keep suin’ till the whole city goes bankrupt tryin’ to pay for us.”

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

You must think I’m a total piece of shit right now.

JD: (1.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: What do I mean? I mean she’s dead and all I can talk about is how it affects the department. How it affects me. My feelings. My… I don’t know…

JD: (0.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Shame. Yeah. That’s the perfect word for it. I know I didn’t do anything wrong myself but I still gotta walk around wearin’ the same uniform as him. This uniform that’s supposed to mean “If there’s a bullet it’ll go through me before it hits you,” but half the city thinks it means, “If there’s a bullet and it hits you, whoops, my bad.”

JD: (8.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: You got a lot more excuse than I do, Kish*. Wait - is something…

JD: (0.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Who’s coming?

JD: (2.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Chief, you gettin’ all this?

MB: I can tell somethin’s happenin’, but if you don’t tell me what he’s sayin’…

RH: Sorry. Some more of John Doe’s people are headed this way. I don’t know if they’re friendly.

JD: (2.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: He’s askin’ if there’s a paper shredder in this room. I’ll check.

[7.5 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

MB: Riffraff? You there?

RH: Yeah.

MB: They’re in the lobby. Came right outta the wall. Morrison’s just sittin’ there like he don’t see ‘em.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

Two men and a woman, all tall, skinny and dressed like they’re homeless. Men are both about 20. One’s about John Doe’s height, maybe a little more. Same color, but his hair’s blond. If the other man’s less than seven feet tall it ain’t by much. The woman’s maybe 40 or 50. About six-three. Black hair, gray streak.

RH: Friends of yours?

JD: No.

RH: Enemies of yours?

JD: Yes.

RH: Chief, try to lock those three in somewhere.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

What’s the story?

JD: (6.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “They’ve come for the directions to the Promised Land. I can’t give them those.”

JD: (8.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “The men - I know them. Some of our people don’t handle our lifestyle well. The loneliness twists and corrupts them.”

JD: (7.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “The woman is like me. She knows too much about the unnameable. It makes her a potential vessel for it.” So you couldn’t go there yourself - even when you could, I mean?

JD: Right. (3.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: “The Promised Land must be kept safe from the unnameable.” Yeah, let’s try to keep it outta this world while we’re at it. What’s the word, Chief?

MB: The word is “fucked.” I can’t stop ‘em. They got these things that look like dildos. When they hit a locked door, they put the end of it up next to the lock and - I can’t see what it does, resolution on these cameras is shit, but the door unlocks.

[1.5 SEC PAUSE]

They’ve split up. Blondie’s in I&R goin’ through their stuff. Too Tall’s in the holding area, checkin’ out the - Jesus, Wilkins, how the fuck do you not see him?

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

And the bitch is headed this way. You two just sit tight. You might be the safest people in the buildin’ right now.

JD: (1.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Repeating: “We need that shredder.” I’ll keep lookin’.

[2.0 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

JD: (1.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Yeah, the lighter’s down here too. Don’t know how much help it’s gonna be. We drained the last of the fuel out of it. Sorry about that.

[16.5 SEC PAUSE]

RH: Well, shit. There’s no shredder, and we’re still locked in here.

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

How’s it goin’ up there, Chief?

W: Hello.

RH: Uh - who are you?

W: A visitor.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

You have Yuvirikoi*?

RH: You speak English.

W: I do, yes. Surprised? Avarian*, Franclatin*, Vinlandic*, English - once you learn Khwarazmic* you can learn anything. I ask again - you have Yuvirikoi*?

RH: He is in our custody at the present time. Would you like to speak with him?

W: No need for that. He had papers with him. We have come for those papers.

RH: The papers in question are his personal property entrusted to our care. I can’t release them to you. I’m sorry.

W: I ask nicely.

RH: You ask very nicely. It does you credit. The answer is no.

W: You think you can stop us? I took this radio out of that man’s office while he tried to see me.

RH: I think we can destroy the directions before you get here.

W: You’re not reasonable. You will not help us without a threat. Okay. Fine. Have a threat. Give us the directions or we will kill you.

RH: Yep. That’s a threat. Which is a pretty serious offense, by the way. But I happen to know you can’t do a damn thing to me.

W: Are you sure of that?

RH: If y’all kill me - if fact if you do anything major, anything life-changing - y’all are stuck here for the rest of your lives. Which would defeat the whole purpose of stealin’ those directions.

W: Yuvirikoi* told you that?

RH: Yes, he did.

W: He should have told there are ways around that. If I plant a bomb I can leave before it goes off. Or I can grab someone and leave a world, taking them with me - world knows I changed it but I’m already gone.

[1.5 SEC PAUSE]

RH: But you gotta go somewhere with ‘em. Doesn’t bringin’ somebody into a world have the same effect as takin’ ‘em out?

W: Not if you kill them at a time that no one is looking. Not if you leave them in a place that no one will find them. River. Landfill. Pig farm. Building full of rats. I know a world not too far that we can cut you up and sell meat by the pound out the back of a truck - they don’t ask questions.

RH: As funeral processions go, I guess I could do worse.

W: I can’t wait for you meet my son. He’s the big one. He and his friend will play with you a long time while you live. You want hear that they once do to a Four Zoas* priestess?

RH: That’s not even the most interesting rape threat I ever got. Oh, and speakin’ of threats, you know we got y’all on camera, right? Poppin’ up outta nowhere right in the lobby?

W: So?

RH: So - it’s on a separate system, but all I need is one Ethernet cable and I can post it online. Right on our Web site and social media. “This Halloween, be on the alert for big tall ninja wizard hobos comin’ out of the fuckin’ walls.” Don’t you think that’d make at least as big a splash as me disappearin’? Think y’all could still get outta here?

W: You want raise the stakes? Okay. Fine. We do that. You keep him in the basement, far from everyone else - you must know we are dangerous. You know what we can do if we have nothing to lose. You want us do it to your friends?

RH: You want declare war on the whole damn city of Memphis? ‘Cause you know that’s only gonna end one way. You can’t hide from cameras, and this world’s got a shitload of cameras.

W: Yuvirikoi* told you about the unnameable?

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

RH: What about it?

W: It is inside me. If I can do nothing else I can let it out. You want know what it does?

[1.5 SEC PAUSE, CELL PHONE CHIME]

It eats futures. It eats possibilities. It nests in horror and madness. It gets in a world - that world has only one future. You will not like it.

RH: S’cuse me. I gotta take this.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

W: What?

RH: Never mind. Where were we?

W: You do not take me seriously. Okay. Fine. I’ve joined my son and his friend. We will be at you very soon. You do what you want. We do what we want.

RH: See you soon, then.

[BEEP]

JD: (2.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: We might not need to destroy ‘em. The Chief just texted me. Like I said, I told him this afternoon to come up with a plan in case of emergency and not to tell me about it. You got anything in your bag you can use to, uh…

JD: (5.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Can you hide it on yourself until you’re ready to use it?

JD: Yes.

[4.0 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

[ZIPPER]

RH: Huh. I was right. It only opens for you.

[6.5 SEC PAUSE]

How fast can you put it on?

[2.5 SEC PAUSE]

Good. Hold this. I think you can use it better than me.

JD: (4.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: I’ll be all right. Just need to get my mind in order is all.

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

You mentioned you’re not the best at the whole invisibility thing. Guessin’ she’s not so good at telepathy - that’s why she’s gotta learn languages for real. It’s Blondie and Too Tall I’m worried about.

[5.0 SEC PAUSE]

RH: Elephants.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

They’re comin’ across the savannah. A whole herd of ‘em. Big and gray and funny-lookin’. Raisin’ up a huge cloud of dust as they go.

[1.5 SEC PAUSE]

They’re on their way from someplace you never heard of to some other place you never heard of.

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

They’ll stomp you flat if you don’t get outta the way. Lions and hyenas are backin’ off and givin’ em room.

[2.5 SEC PAUSE]

Elephants elephants elephants. Yeah.

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

Elephants.

[CLICK]

And here they are.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

W: I ask you one last time.

RH: Okay. I give up. You want the papers so bad, you can have ‘em.

JD: No!

RH: Shut the fuck up, Kish*. First of all, I got no reason to give a shit what happens to your Promised Land. Second, even if I did care, I can’t help but notice that out of all possible worlds, y’all didn’t pick one with nobody else livin’ in it. I seriously doubt any of your people are goin’ to Gwambar* and Axe Body Spray and wherever else they’re goin’ so they can wash dishes and pick strawberries. Nuh-uh, they’re movin’ in and takin’ over. Because they can and nobody can stop ‘em, least of all me. But I am not your fucking bouncer. I’m not here to enforce your rules for you. I’m not gonna try and take on three invisible giants all at once - never mind some future-eatin’ eldritch abomination or whatever the fuck it is - just ‘cause y’all are like “They can’t sit with us!”

[DRAWER OPENING]

They wanna know the way. I’m gonna give it to ‘em. Right. Now.

[1.5 SEC PAUSE, HISS]

W: (2.5 SEC SCREAMING)

M1: (3.5 SEC SCREAMING)

M2: (3.0 SEC SCREAMING)

[THUMP]

[SOUNDS OF FIGHTING]

[THUMP]

[THUMP]

[SOUNDS OF FIGHTING]

[THUMP]

[SOUNDS OF FIGHTING]

[THUMP]

M2: (1.5 SEC SCREAMING)

[THUMP]

W: (3.0 SEC UNINTELLIGIBLE WHISPERING) (0.5 SEC SCREAMING)

[CRASH]

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

RH: (1.0 SEC GASPING) Oh, Christ, that hurts. I know it’s just blowback, but fuck. They put us through 20 hours of training in copin’ with this shit, but fuck. You okay, Kish*?

JD: Yes.

RH: Good. I knew I was punchin’ somebody in the dick. I’m glad it wasn’t you. Could you open a - fuck, no, there’s no windows down here, could you open that door real wide?

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

Thank you. Christ, what did she do to me?

[2.5 SEC PAUSE]

Fuck, I think it’s in my head…

[3.5 SEC PAUSE]

[3.0 SEC UNIDENTIFIABLE NOISE]

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

Kish*? I know you don’t like talkin’ about the, uh, unnameable, but - does it actually have a name?

JD: Yes.

RH: Does that name have 11 syllables?

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

JD: Yes.

RH: Besides the name, how much do you need to know to be, uh, infected?

JD: (3.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: I’m fucked.

[1.5 SEC PAUSE]

She grabbed me during the fight. Whispered it in my ear.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

You know those really bad ideas you sometimes get? The ones that don’t feel like they’re a part of you, like they got nothin’ to do with anything you really want? I think they’re called “intrusive thoughts.”

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

Like, smashin’ somethin’ expensive? Yellin’ out insults or racial shit? Turnin’ your car right into oncomin’ traffic and floorin’ it? Jumpin’ off a bridge?

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

It’s like a - a tidal wave of that shit. Thousands, millions of alien thoughts all tryin’ to push me in the same direction. All tryin’ to push me to spread the word.

[3.0 SEC UNIDENTIFIABLE NOISE]

Is this what you’ve dealin’ with all this time?

JD: Yes.

RH: How?

JD: (9.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Well, now, that’s a problem. I don’t have those powers, I never learned that discipline - I like to think I got a certain amount of mental discipline but - fuck, I don’t know if I can do this.

[1.5 SEC PAUSE]

For how long? How long does this go on? Does it get easier? Ever?

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

JD: No. Sorry.

RH: Shit.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

This thing is - it’s as bad as she said it was.

[4.0 SEC PAUSE]

I don’t know if I can do it.

[2.5 SEC PAUSE]

I really don’t think I can. I mean, I can manage it right now, but what if I get drunk? What if I need surgery and they give me a bunch of painkillers? What if I get old?

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

Or what if I just have a really shitty day?

[3.0 SEC UNIDENTIFIABLE NOISE]

I’m still having trouble opening my eyes, but I think Too Tall just, um, stopped breathing.

JD: Yes.

RH: You killed him, didn’t you?

JD: Yes.

RH: And the other two.

JD: Yes. (2.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: Someone else is gonna have to do that. I - I need you to do one more.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

I can’t live like this. I don’t know if I can manage, and even if I can - putting - having the only thing between seven-plus billion people and fucking hell on Earth being my self-control - that would be irresponsible.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

I’m - I’m a danger to myself and others. I need to be - okay, I can see how you did it now.

[4.5 SEC PAUSE]

Here’s my belt. Use that and the baton. I’ll, uh, try not to struggle.

JD: (0.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

RH: What do you mean, you can’t? You didn’t even hesitate with these three. You’ll kill to protect your fucking Promised Land, but not this world? Come on. You have no idea how many dudes would give their eyeteeth to wring my neck.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

Please, Kish*. I got family. I got friends - not a lot of ‘em, but friends. I don’t want ‘em spendin’ the rest of their lives wonderin’ what they did wrong or what they missed. Bein’ murdered under mysterious circumstances - that’s bad but it’s not, you know…

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

What are you doing?

[PAPERS CRUMPLING]

Kish*…

[CHOKING]

Fine. Asshole. I’ll do it myself.

[7.0 SEC PAUSE]

Is this thing still on?

[2.5 SEC PAUSE]

This is Sergeant Raphaelle Hendrickson with the Internal Affairs Division of the Memphis Police Department. The time is… shit, my eyes are still teared up, I can’t read the clock on this thing. Yuvirikoi* Something Kishlau* has decided to swallow the directions and choke on them. Very helpful.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

I’m sorry, Kish*. It’s been a long day. I’m really tired. I guess you were just tryin’ to make sure those papers never ended up on the Internet or anything. Make sure if there’s any other bad guys out there, they can’t get the directions and and they can’t get anything out of you.

[1.5 SEC PAUSE]

I’m in no position to criticize. Gonna have to, uh, clock out early myself. I wish I had time to explain myself, say goodbye, tell people I love ‘em…

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

But it’s gettin’ harder every minute not to say the wrong thing. If you listened to this tape, you have some idea of why I did what I’m about to do. This is not depression or whatever. I know damn well it’s still a - semi-beautiful world. Life is worth livin’ and all. Just wanna make sure it stays that way. This interview is concluded.


AFTER-ACTION REPORT OF CHIEF MYRON BARKER (10/31/19)

…When myself and Officers Morrison and WIlkins entered the room, we found that large quantities of pepper spray had been discharged into the room, making it difficult to function. Nonetheless, we were able to find the bodies of Jane Doe near the doorway and John Does #1 through #3 on the floor near the table.
John Doe #1 was wearing a mask of unknown design over his face and eyes, and was dead of asphyxiation caused by apparent choking. In his hand was one of the five sheets of paper originally found in the envelope taped to his chest (see attachments below). The other four sheets of paper were missing. Further details await autopsy.
John Does #2 and 3 and Jane Doe were dead of asphyxiation and spinal injury. All three victims had a belt or bag strap wrapped around their necks and a lockpicking machine thrust under the strap and wound around to tighten it, crushing the trachea and dislocating the vertebrae. John Does #2 and 3 also appeared to have been struck at least once with a steel baton, while Jane Doe had severe trauma to the left forehead consistent with being seized by the back of the neck and struck against the doorframe. Further details await autopsy.
Sgt. Hendrickson was at the far end of the room. She had used her belt to hang herself from the riser at the top of the shelving unit. In an apparent attempt to prevent herself from escaping via involuntary struggle, she had handcuffed her own hands behind her back and dropped the key on the floor.
She was still alive. Her ad-hoc suicide attempt had neither broken her neck nor fully closed her windpipe. Due to the risk of spinal injury, we did not attempt to remove her. Instead, we held her up, keeping the pressure off her head and neck, until the paramedics arrived and took her to Regional One Health Medical Center. At last report (0600 hours), ER personnel reported she appeared conscious but was unresponsive. Due to excessive lip and tongue biting, they gave her a mouthguard, which she accepted. They report no sign of permanent damage…


P.S. Sgt. Hendrickson would want be to be completely honest. When she went to interview John Doe #1, she made it very clear that no matter what happened, under no circumstances should anyone make any attempt to extricate her from the situation. She was certain that such an attempt would only result in—at the very least—her own death, as well as that of any officers involved in the attempt. She structured the entire interrogation around her correct judgment that no one in this department could be trusted not to try to save her even against orders.
What she didn’t realize was that this included me. Even though I shared her assessment of the situation and the likely outcome of any rescue operation, and even though I had provided the pepper spray and baton for her to use in case of emergency, I could not bring myself to abandon anyone under my command. This was the first time—and I pray it will be that last time—that I ever led men into action in the expectation of nothing but failure, disaster, and the deaths of myself and my fellow officers, for no other reason than my own inability to do otherwise.
If I hadn’t already believed in God, I sure would now.
Sgt. Raphaelle "Riffraff" Hendrickson finally interviews John Doe herself, and the stakes get raised all the way up to "apocalyptic."
Content note: Thinly veiled rape threats, suicide. If either of those is a problem for you, I hope you read this note before you read the actual story.
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