Hi everyone. Alex here, with a short introduction to today’s episode.
This marks the first of the bonus content that we are dropping during this Act break, with more to come on our normal weekly schedule.
The audio in today’s episode was recorded at our first Magnus liveshow as part of the London Podcast Festival Presents audio drama event in 2019.
The events take place prior to the first episode of The Magnus Archives, and can be considered canon.
That’s all for now. We hope you enjoy the episode.1
[INT. THE MAGNUS INSTITUTE, ARCHIVES, ARCHIVIST’S OFFICE]
So… this is your office!
(stuttering ever so slightly – nerves?) Uhh… thank you, Rosie. I – uh – um – I thought Elias was going to show me down…?
Oh, Mr. Bouchard is busy, but he said that he’ll be down shortly to go over your duties, etcetera.
(overlapping) Right. Well, I’m sure I can figure it out, I was – (shaky inhale) – thinking of, uh – digitising some of the more commonly accessed statements and then – some – general… (trails off) …archiving.
[Rosie exhales, puts something heavy down with a thump.]
I mean – it’s not exactly the most regimented.
[[SMALL AUDIENCE GIGGLE]]
Well, I think you have your… work cut out.
Yes. Did – Did the previous Archivist – I mean…?
Well, Miss –
Miss Robinson was getting… on, a little bit-
[The Archivist makes a small Mm of agreement.]
– and it must have been very hard for her.
Did, um. Did you ever meet her at all?
Erm – not really; a few times – I don’t think she liked me much.
(audible grimace) …No.
But, uh, she –
[[UPROAR OF LAUGHTER]]
But she didn’t really like anybody much, so I wouldn’t take it – personally? Um, she was a very – polite woman.
What actually – happened, to her? (quickly) If it’s not too insensitive a question.
(evasive) Oh, I, I, I don’t really think that’s my place to –
(overlapping) I mean, there were a lot of rumors, floating around Research, obviously. According to them, she (sensationalizing) ‘died at this very desk.’
[Brief pause. Rosie must confirm this visually somehow, because:]
(ah, shit) Oh.
(exhale) Well, I mean, if it’s a –
(overlapping, weary already) It’s –
(overlapping) – problem, I’m sure –
(overlapping) – alright.
(overlapping) – I can speak to Mr. Bouchard, maybe to get, perhaps –
(overlapping) It’s alright.
(overlapping) – a replacement desk?
I don’t believe in ghosts.
…Right. Well, in that case, I suppose I should be getting on; I’m sure that Mr. Bouchard will be with you shortly, so…
Yes, thank you, Rosie. (sudden thought) Oh, do tell Elias thank you. Uh, for the opportunity.
(I do *not* get paid enough for this) Well, I’m sure you can tell him yourself.
Well, good luck, Head Archivist.
…Well, no time like the present!
[Immediately, he reaches for a glass of water, drinks it, then puts the glass down with a heavy, contented sigh.]
[He remembers to hit the RECORD button.]
Statement of Nathan Watts, regarding an old encounter at Fishmarket Close. Statement given April 22nd, 2012.
(very fast) This all happened a couple of years ago, so I apologise if some of the details are a bit off.
I mean, I feel like I remember it clearly but – sometimes things are so weird that you start to doubt yourself.
Still, I suppose weird is kind of what you guys do, right?
So I’m studying at the University of Edinburgh. Biochemistry, specifically, and I was in my second year at the time this happened. It wasn’t any sort of – university accommodation at this point and, I, I was renting a student flat down in Southside with a few other second years.
To be honest I didn’t hang out with them much. I took a gap year before matriculating, and my birthday’s in the wrong part of September, so I was nearly two years older than most of my peers when I started my course. I got on with them… fine, you understand, but I tended to end up hanging out with some of the…older students.
That’s why I was at the party in the first place. Michael MacAulay, a good friend of mine, had just been accepted to do a Master’s degree in Earth Sciences, so we decided a celebration was in order.
Well, maybe ‘party’ isn’t quite the right word; we just kind of invaded the Albanach down on the Royal Mile and drank long enough and loud enough that eventually we had the back area to ourselves.
Now – I don’t know how well you know the drinking holes of Edinburgh, but the Albanach has a wide selection of some excellent single malts, and I may have – slightly overindulged.
I have vague memories of Mike suggesting I slow down, to which I responded by roundly swearing at him for failing to properly celebrate his own good news. Or – words to that effect.
Long story short, I was violently ill around midnight and made the decision to walk the route home. It wasn’t far to my flat, maybe half an hour if I’d been sober, and the night was cool enough that I remember having a hope that the chill would – perk me up some.
I headed for the Cowgate, and the quickest way to get there from the Royal Mile is down Old Fishmarket Close.
Now, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that there are some rather steep hills in Edinburgh (page turn) but Old Fishmarket Close is exceptional, even by those standards.
At times it must reach a thirty or forty degree angle, which is hard enough to navigate when you don’t have this much scotch inside you. And as I have mentioned, I had quite a lot.
So on reflection, it probably wasn’t that surprising when I took a rather nasty tumble about halfway down the street.
The fall wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and by the time I… got up it was… only shaken- with some nasty bruises. I picked myself up as best I could, checked I hadn’t seriously injured myself, no broken bones or anything, and decided to roll a cigarette to calm myself.
That was when I heard it:
“Can I have a cigarette?”
I was startled out of my thoughts by the words as I thought I had been alone. Quickly trying to compose myself and looking around, I noticed a small alleyway on the opposite side of the street.
It was very narrow and completely unlit, with a short staircase leading up. I could see a light fixture a little way up the wall at its entrance, but it either wasn’t working or wasn’t turned on, meaning that beyond a few steps the alley was shrouded in total darkness.
Stood there, a couple of stairs from the street, was a figure.
It was hard to tell much about them as they were mostly in the shadows, though, if I’d had to guess, I would have said the voice sounded male. They seemed to sway, ever so slightly, as I watched, and I assumed that they, like me, were probably a little bit drunk.
I lit my own cigarette and held out my tobacco towards them, though I didn’t approach, and I asked if they were ok with a roll-up.
The figure didn’t move except to continue that gentle swaying.
Writing it down now, it seems so obvious that something was wrong- if I hadn’t been so drunk maybe I’d have noticed quicker- but even when the stranger asked the question again,“Can I have a cigarette?” utterly without intonation, still I didn’t understand why I was so uneasy.
I stared at the stranger, and as my eyes began to adjust, I could make out more details.
I could see that their face appeared blank, expressionless, and their skin seemed damp and slightly sunken, like they had a bad fever. The swaying was more pronounced now, seeming to move from the waist, side to side, back and forth.
By this time, I had finished rolling a second cigarette and gingerly held it out towards them, but I didn’t get any closer. I had decided that if this weirdo wanted a cigarette, they were going to need to come out of the creepy alley and take one. (page turn) They didn’t come closer, didn’t make any movement at all except for that damn swaying.
For some reason, the thought- of an anglerfish popped into my head: the single point of light dangled into the darkness, hiding the thing that lures you in.
“Can I have a cigarette?”
It spoke again in the same flat voice, and I finally realised exactly what was wrong. Its mouth was closed, had been the entire time. Whatever was repeating that question, it wasn’t the figure in the alleyway.
I looked at their feet and saw that they weren’t quite touching the ground. The stranger’s form was being lifted, ever so slightly, and moved gently from side to side.
I dropped the cigarette and grabbed for my phone, tried to turn on the torch. I don’t know why I didn’t run, or what I hoped to see in that alley, but I wanted to get a better look.
As soon as I took out my phone, the figure disappeared. It sort of- folded at the waist and vanished back into the darkness, as if a string had gone taut and pulled it back.
I turned on the torch and stared, but I saw nothing. Just silence and darkness.
I staggered back up to the Royal Mile, which still had lights and people, and I found a taxi to take me home.
I slept late the next day. I’d made sure I didn’t have any lectures or classes, as I, I had intended to be sleeping off a heavy night of drinking, which- I suppose I was, although it was that bizarre encounter that kept playing in my mind.
And so, after making my way through two litres of water, some painkillers and a very greasy breakfast, I felt… human enough to leave my flat and go to investigate the place in daylight.
The result was… unenlightening. There were no marks, no bloodstains, nothing to indicate that the swaying figure had ever been there at all. The only thing I found was an unsmoked Marlboro Red cigarette, lying just below the burned out light fixture.
Beyond that, I didn’t really know what to do. I did as much research as I could on the place and- couldn’t find anyone who’d had any experience similar to mine. And there didn’t seem to be any folklore or urban legends I could find out about Old Fishmarket Close.
The few friends I told about what happened just assumed I’d been accosted by some stranger, and alcohol had made it seem much weirder than it was.
But I’d- never had hallucinations while drunk, and there was no way this had just been a normal person- but when I tried to tell them, they always gave me one of those looks, halfway between pity and concern, and I’d shut up. (page turn) I never did find anything else out about it, but a few days later I saw some missing person appeals go up around campus.
Another student had disappeared. John Fellowes, his name was, though I didn’t really know the guy and- couldn’t tell you much about him, except for- two things that struck me as very important:
He had been at the same party as I was, and as far as I remembered, had still been there when I left.
And the other thing was that- well… on the photo they’d used for his missing persons appeal I couldn’t help but notice that there was a pack of Marlboro Red cigarettes poking out of his pocket.
I haven’t quit smoking, but I do find that I take a lot more taxis now, if I find myself out too late.
(exhaling) Statement ends.
[He taps a key to stop recording.]
[He taps a few more keys, exhaling as he does so.]
[And then someone comes in –]
Hey, sorry; you haven’t seen a dog, have you?
I’m s– Sorry, what?
Um – Uh, a dog, a-a Spaniel, I think.
In – In general, or?…
(laughing slightly) N-N,No, in the Archives.
(explain. Now.) Why would there be a dog in the Archives?
[[NOTE: THEY PLAY THE CREEPY ATMOSPHERIC STATEMENT MUSIC OVER THAT LINE]]
Oh, ‘cause, well, I –
(cutting him off) Who are you?
(laughing nervously) Uh – M,Ma- Martin, I – and, cause… I… may have…
[We hear the Archivist scrape back his chair and stand up. We can only assume that he is fixing Martin with his greatest unamused glare.]
…l-l-let him in?
Oh – (nervous *heh*) Well, I didn’t – I didn’t mean to; you know, uh – I – we were outside, making friends, and – and then –
– I, I had to come in, but – (stuttering) – my hands were full, and, you know, the door’s really heavy, so, so I had to use my foot, and then he just – sort of – (breathing heavy) – like, got past me –
Why were you coming into the Archives?
Oh! Uh – I, I work here!
[[SLIGHT AUDIENCE CHUCKLING]]
No you don’t.
I requested Tim, and I requested Sasha, and you are neither.
(realizing) Oh! – Ohh-h! Oh, you’re – Jonathan. Sims, yeah. Um – Mr. Bouchard said I’d, I’d – be working for you.
Well, he didn’t tell me anything about it!
He, uh, he said that um – Well, he transferred me from the Library, so.
So I’m your boss.
I mean, I guess.
Which means that technically – (small, smug *heh*) – I have the power to – dismiss you, if this dog situation is not resolved immediately.
I mean, yeah, probably.
[He gives a small laugh.]
(realizing) Oh! Oh, yes! R-Right, sorry, uh-h – I-I’ll – Sorry!
[He turns to leave, takes a few steps.]
(turning back) Sorry!
[The Archivist inhales and exhales heavily. He is so annoyed.]
Well that’s – (exhale) not ideal.
[He sits down, taps the record button again.]
Statement of Joshua Gillespie, regarding his time in possession of an apparently empty wooden casket. Statement given November 22nd, 1998.
It started when I was in Amsterdam for a holiday with a few of my friends. Everything you’re thinking right now, you’re right. We were all early twenties, just graduated and decided to spend a couple of weeks going… crazy on the continent, so you can almost certainly fill in all the blanks yourself.
There were very few points where I’d say that we were all entirely sober, and even fewer where we acted like it, though I wasn’t quite as bad as some of my friends, who had a hard time handling themselves.
This… may have been why I headed out alone that morning – no idea of the exact date but it was sometime in mid-May. The others were sleeping off their assorted hangovers and I decided to head out into the beautiful sunshine of that Netherlands morning and take a walk.
Before graduating from Cardiff with the others, I’d been studying Architecture, so was looking forward to spending a few hours by myself to wander and really take in the buildings of central Amsterdam.
I was not disappointed – it’s a beautiful city – but I realised too late that I hadn’t taken any map or guidebook with me, and an hour or two later I was thoroughly lost.
I wasn’t particularly worried, as it was still mid-afternoon at that point, and getting lost in the backstreets had kind of been – well, kind of what I was trying to do, but I still decided I’d better make an actual effort to find my way back to where my friends and I were staying off Elandsstraat.
I managed it eventually, but my inability to speak Dutch meant that I spent a good hour riding the wrong way on various trams. And by the time I got back to Elandsstraat, it was starting to get dark, and I was feeling… quite stressed, so I decided to pop into one of the cafés to… relax before joining up with my friends.
I couldn’t say for sure exactly how long I was in there, but I do know that it had gotten fully dark by the time I noticed I wasn’t sat at my table alone.
I’ve tried to describe the man who now sat opposite me many times, but it’s – difficult. He was short, very short, and felt like he had an odd… density to him. His hair was brown…ish, I think, cut short? And he was clean shaven.
His face and dress were utterly unremarkable, and the more I try to remember exactly what he looks like, the further it gets from my memory. (page flip) To be honest – I’m inclined to blame the drugs.
The man introduced himself as John, and asked how I was. I replied the best I could, and he nodded, saying he also was an Englishman ‘inside a foreign land.’ I remember he used that exact phrase because it struck me at the time as very odd.
He said he was from Liverpool, though I don’t recall him having any sort of accent, and that he was looking for a friend who he could rely on for a favour.
Now, high as I was, I got suspicious as soon as he said that last part, and I started to shake my head. John said it was nothing too onerous, just – looking after a package for him until he had some friends pick it up, and that he would pay well.
I thought that he was talking about smuggling, and was about to refuse again when he reached into his… jacket, I think? And pulled out an envelope. Inside was 10,000 pounds.
I know. I counted it.
I knew it was a stupid move, but I kept remembering my friend Richard telling me how easy it had been to get a pound of hash through customs on his first trip to Holland, and holding that much cash in my hands…
I said yes.
John smiled, thanked me, and said that he would be in touch. He left the coffee shop, and I immediately started panicking about what I had agreed to. I wanted to chase after him and return the money, but – something weighed me down, kept me locked into my seat.
I just – sat there, for a very long time.
I don’t remember much about the next few days except worrying about when I’d see John again. I was careful not to spend any of the money he’d given me, and had decided to return it as soon as he turned up.
I’d say – I had made a mistake and I couldn’t take his money or look after anything from him. I tried to enjoy myself, but it was like this shadow hanging over me, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I waited for days, right up until the end of our trip, but – he never showed up. I obsessively checked my suitcase before boarding the plane home, just in case someone had snuck something into it, and there was nothing new in there.
I flew back to England with my friends still high and 10,000 pounds tucked into my coat pocket. It was… surreal.
It wasn’t until almost a year later that I felt confident enough to actually spend any of the money. I’d moved down to work for a small architects’ firm in Bournemouth, on the south coast. It was an entry level job and the pay wasn’t great, but it was the only offer I got in my chosen field, so – I moved down there with the hopes of – getting some experience, and a better position in a year or two.
Bournemouth was a decent-size seaside town, though much less idyllic than I’d been assuming. But, rents for a place on my own were a little bit out of my price range, given my starting pay grade.
I didn’t know anyone else down there, and wasn’t keen to share my space with strangers, so I decided to use some of the money I’d been given in Amsterdam the previous year.
I reasoned they were unlikely to find me at this stage – I’d not given John any of my details when he spoke to me, not even my name, and if they hadn’t been able to find me over the course of the last year, it was doubtful they’d be able to track me here.
Also, if it had been drug smuggling, as I suspected, 10,000 pounds probably wasn’t so much money to them that they’d track me this far over it.
Also, and this – looking back this sounds stupid – but I’d just grown a beard and thought it would be hard for anyone to recognise me as the same guy.
[[SLIGHT AUDIENCE CHUCKLING]]
So I spent a bit of John’s money on renting a nice one-bedroom flat in the Triangle, near the town centre, and I moved in almost immediately.
About a week later, I was in my kitchen, cutting up some fruit for breakfast, and I heard the doorbell ring. I answered it to see two red-faced delivery men.
Between them they carried an immense package, which they’d clearly had to manoeuvre up the narrow stairs of the building I lived in. They asked if I was Joshua Gillespie, and when I said yes? they said they had a delivery addressed to me and pushed past me to place it in the hall.
They didn’t seem to be from any delivery company I knew, and they weren’t wearing any uniforms. I tried to ask them some questions, but as soon as they’d placed the box on the floor, they turned around and walked out.
They were both well over six feet tall and very imposing, so there was little I could have done to stop them leaving even if I’d wanted to.
The door slammed behind them, and I was left alone with this – package.
It was about two metres long, maybe one metre wide, and roughly the same deep. It was sealed with parcel tape, and written on the top was my name and address in thick, curving letters, but there was no return address or postmark of any sort.
I was starting to risk being late for work at this point, so I decided – (heavy sigh) I decided I couldn’t bring myself to leave without seeing what was inside, and I fetched the knife from my kitchen counter and cut the tape keeping the box closed.
Inside was a coffin.
I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t that. My knife fell to the floor, and I just – stared at it in mute surprise.
It was made of unvarnished, pale yellow wood and had a thick metal chain wrapped around it, which was closed at the top with a heavy iron padlock. (page turn) The lock was closed, but had the key sitting inside it. I started to reach for it, when I noticed two other things on the coffin:
The first was a piece of paper, folded in half and tucked under the chain, which I took.
The other was the presence of three words, scratched deep into the wood of the casket in letters three inches high.
They read: DO. NOT. OPEN.
I withdrew my hand from the padlock slowly, unsure what I was supposed to do. At some point I must have sat down, as I found myself on the floor, propped up against the wall, staring at this – bizarre thing that had inexplicably turned up at my home.
I remembered the piece of paper at this point and unfolded it, but it simply read “Delivered with gratitude – J”.
Strange as it sounds, it was only then I made the connection with the man I’d met in Amsterdam. He’d told me wanted someone to look after a package for a while. Was this the package he was talking about? Was I to be looking after a corpse? Who was coming to pick it up? When?
I called in sick to work, and just sat there, watching the coffin for might have – what might have been minutes – or might have been hours. I just had no idea what to do.
Eventually, I steeled myself and moved towards it, until my face was just inches away from the lid. I took a deep breath, trying to see if I could smell anything from inside.
Nothing. If there was a dead body in there, it hadn’t started to smell yet. Not that I really knew what a dead body smelled like.
It was early summer at this point, so that would mean they must have died recently. If there was a body in there at all.
As I got up, my hand brushed the wood of the coffin, and I realised it was warm. Very warm. Like it had been lying in the sun for hours.
Something about it made my flesh crawl slightly, and I withdrew my hand.
I decided to make a cup of tea. It was – something of a relief, standing next to the kettle, as from that angle I couldn’t see the thing out in the hall. I could just ignore it.
I didn’t move even after I’d filled my mug; I just stood there, sipping my tea, not even noticing that it was still far too hot to drink comfortably.
When I finally got the nerve to step back out into the hall, the coffin still lay there, unmoving.
I finally made a decision and, firmly grasping the padlock, I removed the key, and placed it on the hall table next to the door. I then took hold of the coffin and chain and started to pull it further into my flat.
It was weird to touch it; the wood still had that – unsettling warmth to it – (page turn) – but the chain was as cold as you’d expect from a thick piece of iron, and apparently hadn’t taken on any of the heat.
I didn’t have any cupboards with enough space to hold the thing, so – in the end I just dragged it into my living room and pushed it up against the wall, as out of the way as possible. I cut up the cardboard box it had been sealed in and put it with the rubbish outside.
And just like that, I had, apparently, started storing a coffin in my home.
At the time I think I assumed it was full of drugs, at least as far as I assumed anything about the situation. Why anyone would store something in such a noticeable way, with a total stranger like me – these weren’t questions I could even guess at an answer to, but I decided it was best to think about them as little as possible.
For the next few days I avoided my living room, as I found being so close to the thing made me nervous. I was also staying alert for the smell of any sort of – rot, which might indicate there was something dead was inside the coffin after all.
But I never smelled anything, and as the days passed I found myself noticing my mysterious charge less and less.
About a week after it arrived, I finally started using my living room again. I’d watch TV, mostly, and keep half an eye on the unmoving casket.
At one point I got so cocky as to actually use it as a table. I was drinking a glass of orange juice at the time and – absent-mindedly placed it on top of the lid, not really realising exactly what I had done.
At least – not until I heard movement from underneath it.
I froze, listening intently and staring, willing myself to have been imagining things. But then it came again – a soft but insistent scratching, just below where I had placed my glass.
It was slow, and deliberate, and caused gentle ripples to spread across the surface of my juice.
Needless to say, I was – terrified. More than that, I was confused. The coffin had been lying in my living room, chained and unmoving, for well over a week at this point. If there had been anything living in there when it was delivered, it seemed unlikely it would still be alive. And why hadn’t it made any sound before if there was something in there capable of movement?
I gently picked up my glass and immediately the scratching stopped. I waited for some time, considering my options, before I placed it back down on the other end of the lid. It took almost four seconds for the scratching to start up again, now more insistently.
When I took the glass away this time, it didn’t stop for another five minutes.
I decided against doing any further experiments, and instead made the very deliberate decision to ignore it.
I felt at that point, I – either needed to use the heavy iron key to open it and see for myself… (pause, page turn) or I needed to follow the gouged instructions, and resolve myself to never look inside.
Some might call me a coward, but I – I decided on the latter, that I would interact with it as little as possible while it lived in my house.
Well. (small *heh*) I guess lived was the wrong term.
I knew I’d made the right decision the next time it rained and I heard the box begin to moan.
It was a Saturday, and I was spending the day staying in and doing some light reading. I had few friends in Bournemouth – something about having a mysterious coffin lying in my living room made me reluctant to make the sort of connections that might lead to people coming round, and so I spent most of my free time alone.
I didn’t watch a lot of television even before my living room was taken over by storing this thing, so – I now found myself sat in my room reading quite a lot. I remember I had just started Michael Crichton’s The Lost World at the time, and it started raining outside.
It was a hard, heavy rain, the sort that falls straight down with no – wind to disturb it, until everything is dark and wet. It was barely past midday, but I remember the sky was so overcast and gloomy that I had to get up to turn on the light.
And that was when I heard it.
It was a low, gentle sound. I’d seen Dawn of the Dead, I know what the groans of the undead are meant to sound like, but it – wasn’t that at all. It was almost… melodious. It sounded – like singing, if it was muffled by twenty feet of hard-packed soil.
At first I thought it might have been coming from one of the other flats in my building, but as it went on, and the hairs on my arms began to stand on end, I knew, I just knew, where it was coming from.
I walked to the living room and stood in the doorway, watching as the sealed wooden box contained – continued to moan its soft, musical sound out at the rain.
There was nothing to be done, I’d made my decision not to open it, and this certainly did not make me want to reconsider that.
So I just went back to my bedroom, put on some music, and turned it up loud enough to drown out the sounds.
And so it continued for months. Whatever was in the casket would scratch at anything placed on top of it and moan whenever it rained, and that was that.
I suppose it goes to show how you can get used to anything if you have to, no matter how bizarre.
I occasionally considered trying to get rid of it, or finding people like – you guys to investigate, but in the end I decided that if – I decided I was actually more afraid of whoever was responsible for entrusting me with the coffin than I was of the actual coffin itself.
So I kept it secret. (page turn) The only thing that worried me was sleeping.
I think it gave me bad dreams. I don’t remember my dreams, never have, and if I was getting nightmares, they were no different; I didn’t remember them, and I certainly don’t now.
But I know I kept waking up in a panic, clutching at my throat and struggling to breath.
I also started sleepwalking. The first time that happened it was the cold that woke me up. It was the middle of winter, and I tend not to keep the heating on when I’m asleep.
It took me a few seconds to fully process where I was: I was standing in the dark, in my living room, over the coffin. But what concerned me more about the situation was the fact that, when I awoke, I seemed to be holding the key to it in my hand.
Obviously, this worried me. I even went to my GP about it, who referred me to the sleep clinic at the nearby hospital, but the problems never recurred in a clinical setting.
I decided to hide the key in more and more difficult to access places, but still I kept on waking up with it, and I was starting to panic.
When I awoke one morning to find I’d actually placed the key within the lock and was, as far as I could tell, moments from opening it, I knew I had to find a solution.
In the end, what I took to doing was perhaps a bit elaborate, but it seemed to work: I would place the key within a bowl of water and then put it in the freezer, encasing it in a solid block of ice.
I still sometimes found myself trying to get to the key in my sleep, but the chill of the ice always woke me up long before I could do anything with it. And in the end, it just became yet another part of my routine.
I lived like that for almost a year and a half. It’s funny how fear can just become as routine as hunger – at a certain point I just accepted it.
My first clue that my time keeping the coffin was coming to an end was when it began to rain and there was silence.
I didn’t notice at first, as my habit at that point had been to put on the music as soon as the weather began to turn, and after a few minutes I realised that there wasn’t anything to drown out.
I turned off my music and went to check.
The living room was silent. Then came a knock at the door. The sound was light and unobtrusive, but it rang out like thunder in the quiet flat.
I knew what I’d see as soon as I opened the door and I was right: John and the two delivery men stood there. I wasn’t surprised to see them, as I say, but they actually seemed quite surprised to see me.
John had to take a second to look me up and down, almost in disbelief – and I asked if they’d come to collect their coffin.
He said that they had, and he hoped it hadn’t been too much trouble.
I told him where he could stick it –
[[MORE SCATTERED LAUGHTER]]
– and he didn’t seem to have an answer for that.
He did seem genuinely impressed, however, when I got the key out of the freezer. I didn’t even try to thaw it; I was so eager to be rid of the thing and get it out of my life that I just dropped the bowl of ice on the floor and shattered it.
I watched as John picked the icy key up, and I told them it was in the living room. I didn’t follow them. I didn’t want to see what they did with the coffin. I didn’t want to see if they opened it.
And when the screaming started, I didn’t want to see who was screaming, or why.
I only left the kitchen when the two delivery men carried the coffin past the door. I followed them down the stairs and watched in the pouring rain as they dro– as they loaded it into a small van marked Breekon and Hope Deliveries. Then they drove away.
There was no sign of John.
That was the last I heard of it. I got a new job and moved to London, and now I just – try not to think about it too much.
[He clicks to stop the recording, and clicks around on his laptop a bit more, trying to play it.]
[An audible recoiling.]
[A slight yell of pain.]
(slightly background) Ah, damnit!
[A knock at the door.]
Uh – yes – who – who is it? Oh. Tim, yes, good. Good, ah.
[He scrapes his chair back to stand up.]
Sorry, boss! Uh – you alright?
Uh – uh, yeah, no, I – Bit of a rocky start, some… technical issues; I was trying to do the Gillespie statement, and…
[He sighs and trails off, continues clicking around.]
(coming into view) Right, yeah. Oh! The Gillespie statement! That’s a proper weird one, right?
(overlapping) How so?
Well – The guy was –
(overlapping) I mean, yes, but.
(continuing) – on his own, for like, the whole time he had that coffin.
Well, in the seven other flats that were in that block, there was no one else there. For the whole two years, he was just on his own!
That. Is weird.
I’m sorry, Tim, I, I interrupted you –
Oh, uh, yes, uh – mm. Hypothetically –
What would you say, if I said that there was a…
[He trails off. The Archivist sighs.]
[[UPROAR OF LAUGHTER]]
Situation. In the Archives.
I would ask if it was getting worse?
(relaxing) Okay, alright, cool, so, right –
I – Yeah, yeah, there’s a dog situation in the Archives. There’s a – there’s a mess –
[[CONTINUOUS AUDIENCE GIGGLING OVER ALL THIS]]
[The Archivist sighs heavily.]
Of the… doggy variety.
(heavy sigh) Right.
(yikes) I’m sorry.
(pointed) It’s not your fault.
[He slams his laptop shut.]
Come on, let’s – (inhale) Let’s deal with this before it escalates.
Oh – Tim – do you know if we have any, uh, better recording equipment; my laptop’s playing up.
Oh, recording equipment, um – (blows air through teeth) Oh! Yeah, the – I think there are some old tape recorders in the storage.
That could work.
Episode will be transcribed as if a normal episode.
Anything breaking the fourth wall - audience reactions, actor breaking character, etc., will be put in ALL CAPS and [[double brackets]].
Since “Anglerfish” and “Do Not Open” have already been officially transcribed, the scripts for those statements have been taken from the official transcripts and corrected for any changes in the liveshow.