Corrupted Transmission

Means and Motive, Part II

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, Mid to Late November

With Frank Brooks release, Dr. Trevor Sorenson had been busy with his normal work. That was interrupted by the arrival of numerous cement trucks over the past week. A firm called Angel Construction had been commissioned to shore up the East Wing’s foundation. The psychologist knew that could only mean filling in the tunnels beneath the asylum.

With his usual conspiracy laden suspicious, Sorenson was preoccupied trying to learn who or what was behind this. While he supported sealing up the dangers below the hospital, the mystery intrigued him. Angel Construction itself wasn’t a subsidiary of another company but the way they were hired was odd. It was a state contract but requested via the administration. But digging deeper, he finds the request was from the state, but no one at the head office know anything about it. The money trail doesn’t lead anywhere. He isn’t sure Angel construction is even being paid.

He theorizes that this is a cover for a special government agency covering up supernatural occurrences. One really weird detail though, is that the construction company has seven John Mills on the payroll, out of only 50 employees. Maybe it is a typo.

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, November 24th, 11 PM

Dr. Sorenson looks up from his papers and research and realizes the late hour. Before he leaves though he remebers to finally check his messages. One is from Frank. He seems worried and claims to have been recently attacked in his home. Lillian Shaw has left three messages. The first mention that dopplegangers connected to the Watcher case are after Frank. The second informs him that the Sandman, Francine, has woken up. The final one, dated a n hour ago, says they were going to the house in Yesler Terrace.

Sorenson calls Shaw back. “I’m so sorry I got so wrapped up in what I was doing.”

Shaw, crouched behind an old table in a grimy abandoned kitchen turns the phone on speaker. Her voice sounds distant. “Hey Sorenson. I’ve got to handle a flame thrower, we’ve got incoming Sandmen.”

“I’m sorry I missed your call,” Sorenson says. “I got so busy investigating why there are cement trucks filling in the basement.”

Shaw seems to ignore his comments. “Yeah we’ve got like eight sandmen closing on our position here at the house. We are in the kitchen.”

Sorenson begins to hurry to his car. “I’m on my way right now.”

“Thanks. Bring fire.”

He grabs a bottle of liquor stored in his filing cabinet.

“You guys are going to be okay?” he says leaving the building at a run. “You are in a safe spot? I’ll try to create a distraction.”

He hears Mill say, “that would be nice.”

Sorenson jumps in his car and drives off as fast as he can safely manage.

The House, Yesler Terrace, November 24th, 11:23 PM

The three investigators wait for the attack, backed up against a wall of cabinets with a table in place in front of them as a barricade. Shaw watches the back door, her flame thrower at the ready. Dr. Ilyes is beside her watching the winodws. Robert Mill is on his left, scanning the room. Both have their pistols out.

Suddenly Mill sees door opposite the back door open. A pair of Sandmen enter, their pale corpse like forms drifting silently in. Mill points his guns at them, drawing Ilyes’s attention. But the doctor is unable to see them!

Ilyes waits instead for something to shoot at. As they charge Mill and him they become visible and he fires at point blank, putting a hole through its jaw. The thing pulls itself over the table and grabs him. As they struggle the other one grabs Mill. As it vaults the table, Mill fires back shouting “Die!”

A bullet perforates its head and a second shot causes a grunt of pain as it smashes through its gut.

Shaw sweeps the room and other entrances for more of them. She spots a third one entering via the same door and turns the flame thrower on it. As the flames burst across the room and up its dry dusty flesh, it screams in agony. It turns and flees, trailing flames behind it.

Ilyes fires again into the one grappling him as its mouth opens disturbingly wide. It seems to be trying to suck something from him. Mill fires into his again. clouds of dust erupt from its back as it topples back onto the floor. Shaw turns the flames on the one grappling Ilyes. The flame lap over it. Ilyes flinches back as the flames lick his arm. He kicks the creature off of him and it topples back onto the floor. As the doctor beats the fire out on his arm, the Sandmen crawl away out of the room to safety.

As they catch their breath, Shaw sweeps the room and the others check their ammunition.

“Guys, we want to keep holding here or do we want to make a break for it?” Shaw asks.

“I think the next wave could be heavier,” Ilyes opinions. “I think we should pull back.”

“Where do we want to pull back to?” Mill asks.

“Well our car is on the front street,” Shaw responds, as sounds of the things echo through the house.

The House, Yesler Terrace, November 24th, 11:25 PM

The voice returns. “Leave the doll and I’ll let you go.”

“So the front door?” Mill says to the others.

“Yes,” Shaw says.

Mill takes point while Shaw covers their retreat. They take the door the sandmen came through. From their rough map it should lead toward the front door. They enter a long room with a crumbling fireplace. A rotten rung in the center of the room is covered in soot from the fleeing Sandmen. A door to their right should lead down to a basement. An archway at the far end of the room should lead to the front door though.

They push forward and run into an out of breath Dr. Sorenson carrying a gun and a bottle of liquor. “I got here as fast as I could.”

“Alright take point,” Shaw instructs.

“Let’s get out of here,” Mill agrees.

“What’s going on?” Sorenson asks.

“We’re getting out of here man.”

“Did you see them out front?” Shaw asks as they begin to move again.

“No it was all clear. But I wasn’t taking the drugs,” Sorenson warns.

“If we get pinned down we’ll give you some drugs but for now let’s try to escape,” Mill says.


As they reach the front door, the see three Sandmen waiting for them. Then Mill sees Sorenson grabbing for doll. He steps back and says, “Doppelganger!”

He shoots ‘Sorenson’ and his disguise fades away, revealing a slight Sandman dressed in a dark cloak. The female figure reaches for the doll, trying to pull it off him.

Just then the real Dr. Sorenson pulls up in front of the house. He can make out hazy figures in front of the house as well as distant sounding gunshots. He pulls his car around and drives toward the house. He skips over the curb and crashes into the Sandmen. One is crushed against the house while another lands on his hood. He isn’t sure where the third went.

Inside Mill shoots the lead Sandmen again, this time in the hand. She is forced to let the doll go. He fires again wounding her grievously. The Silent One flees deeper into the house, chased by Ilyes’s gunfire. A shot hits her knee as she hobbles out of sight.

Shaw meanwhile turns the flamethrower on the Sandman on the hood of Sorenson’s car. It screams and blackens as it scratches feebly at the windshield. Sorenson pulls the car back, running over something in the process. He sees a crushes Sandman turn to dust as he pulls out. The one on the hood falls off, still burning.

Sorenson grabs his guns and gets out.

Mill meanwhile pursues the Silent One intot he back fo the house. He corners it and unloads his pistols into it. The creature riddled with bullets, slumps against the wall.

It looks up with its empty eyes. “Its. My. Dollie.” Then she collapses into dust.

Everywhere in the city Sandmen begin to scream, stunned by the death of their master. Ilyes takes the opportunity to kill the one burning outside. It instantly turns to dust. Shaw covers their escape as they pull out of the house.

Sorenson meets them on the porch as Mill catches up with them.

“What the hell is going on here?” Sorenson asks.

“We’re getting out of here man,” Mill explains. “Who knows what is going on.”

“Think there are more back in the kitchen,” Shaw says. “What did you shoot back there?”

“I think I killed the little girl,” Mill says. “I think. I think it may have been her doll.”

“I want to check two things, you guys hold here.” Shaw goes back to the kitchen. Three sandmen are there still screaming but one retreats as she approaches. The others soon back away.

She checks the door they passed on her way back. There are stairs leading down. She returns to the others and relays her findings. They decide to stay and investigate.

The House, Yesler Terrace, November 24th, 11:30 PM

“What brought you here? What made you come back?” Sorenson asks as they mill about by the front door.

“Okay let’s go,” Shaw says. “We can talk about it later. Next time return my calls. I didn’t hear any screaming from up above. Hopefully the body is still there. Let’s check downstairs first. Its the only place we haven’t been.”

They head down into the cellar. Small windows near the ceiling are covered with dirt, leaving only their flashlights for illumination. The first room is a decaying pantry with two doors leading off of it. The shelves are filled with old cans and jars of fruits. One of the doors leads to a closet filled with boxes of Christmas ornaments. The other door leads to another storage room in the center of which is a child’s bed.

With nothing else to find they go upstairs. They check out the corpse. Ilyes examines the blackened mummified form. He determines it was the body of a very old man. There are no obvious signs of trauma and he might have passed away from natural causes or illness. It looks like he was naturally mummified by the dryness of the room. He is wearing a gold wedding ring and the few knickknacks in the room suggest this was his bedroom.

“This could be Westergard,” Shaw says.

“Let’s get this body ready for transport,” Ilyes directs.

They wrap the body up and leave the house. As they look back they find it easier to focus on the building as if whatever hid it was weaker or fading.

“We don’t think she’ll come back, Dr. Ilyes?” Shaw asks.

“I can’t say for sure but usually things don’t come back after they disintegrate. Usually.”

“I may have acted hastily in killing her,” Robert Mill mutters.

Dr. Ilyes’s house, Bellevue, Seattle, November 25th 1 AM

As Ilyes prepares for the autopsy, Robert Mill gives his own theory for what happened. That the father (Mr. Westergard, the corpse) mistreated the little girl and she died. She then came back as a Sandman but that she always loved her doll and was drawn to it.

The others are not so sure. They wonder if there isn’t a deeper explanation, something to tied in Ambrose Grant.

“Maybe there is something else here,” Shaw says. “Maybe there are ley lines or something. I want to consulate with someone.”

The autopsy results confirm their suspicions. The man was in his 70s and was mummified over several decades. This would fit with him being Mr. Westergard and would indicate he died in the 1960s after the final mention of him the census. He seems to have died of natural causes and what remains of his brain shows no sign of damage from Sandmen.

Ilyes puts down his tools. “Let’s start the process of putting this guy to rest. We will need a cover story Shaw.”

“What conditions would you need to create a mummy like this?” she asks.

“Time, dryness, neglect.”

Late November

Shaw references her research on local tunnels and finds a sealed tunnel that should be a reasonable place for body to mummify. She reports the discovery of the body to the Seattle PD. She claims they were investigating the area when they came across the corpse in a sealed tunnel.

Jack seems dubious and she gets some flack for her actions. But it passes and Westergard is finally buried.

The house itself seems to be more and more visible to “normal” people. They still seem to forget about it though.

More disturbingly, there is a fifth Watcher murder on the 26th of November. This one is in Lake Union, not far from where Shaw lives. When Shaw checks her security around that time, she spots Jarette Costa waving at them.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, November 27th

The investigators discuss their next step.

“We don’t have leads at this point,” Robert Mill points out. “Do we?”

“Jarette Costa is in prison,” Dr. Ilyes says.

The others point out a doppelganger copy of him still out there and they are not sure what he is after. Nor how this is connected to the house.

“I was watching ghost chasers on the History channel last night,” Dr. Trevor Sorenson says.

Shaw snorts. “Really?”

He continues on. “They have this devices to read magnetic fields and cold spots. Maybe there is some weak point in the fabric of reality here. If we had the right tool we might be able to detect it.”

Ilyes points out, “a little more plausible than weak reality is that we haven’t found all the psychic equipment in the area from Ambrose. Backup systems, redundant systems.”

They decide to ask Infinity if she has learned anything from the tapes. A short while after their message a file appears on Mill’s computer titled “Initial Findings.” It discuss her discovery of two intelligences operating within the system, imposing their will on the dreams of the inhabitants of Ashwood Heights. There are other transient minds but those seem to be lucid dreamers. The first intelligence, “user 1”, is almost always present and is likely Ambrose Grant. The other “user 2” is a mystery. It is someone else knows how to run the dream machine and who has been present since the beginning. This entity was also heavily monitoring Jarette Costa’s dreams.

“That makes some sense,” Shaw says reading over the file.

This “user 2” was adept at using the device and manipulating human psychology. Infinity concludes it possesses a high intelligence and speculates that it has other means of accessing the minds of people.

“Could it have been the girl?” Shaw muses.

Ilyes suggests that they might look for other possible holdings by Ambrose or for missing buildings or blind spots in the area. They start searching but don’t find much in that direction. They contact Keystone Pharmaceuticals about Ambrose but are told he is no longer available. Shaw cross references the data they have with Frank’s files but again comes up empty.

They decide to focus on the person they know is involved: Jarette Costa.

“It is like he was sent to clean up after the people investigating the house,” Shaw says. “It is interesting he went after Frank first. Why did he go after Frank?”

Mill muses Frank is the only, outside of themselves, who is connected to it in any way. “Georgia is a vegetable and Ken is out of state.”

“But Frank was never involved with the house or the apartment building,” Shaw points out. “This mind, or user 2, has been connected to it for a long long time but it was something else that Frank did that threatened it.”

“Well he was involved with Ambrose Grant,” he suggests.

“But it went after Frank first. We were looking for Ambrose but Frank never went to his old place. He went to the hospital and was grabbed.” She turns to Sorenson. “Doctor do you think talking to Frank could help?”

Dr. Sorenson nods. “There may be something in the light of what we learned that we can ask. Now that we know the right questions we might be able to jog his memory.”

“We need him to make him make the right connections before anyone else dies.”

The Brooks Residence, Ballard, November 29th

Dr. Sorenson sits down with Frank as the others look on. He explains the situation to the older detective.

“What could it want from me?” Frank says. “I don’t know why it would be after me. I mean from what you said it is coming after me specifically.”

Sorenson nods. “You are not the normal victim type. You are the anomaly in the pattern. There must be a reason he strayed from his normal behavior.”

“Right,” Franks says nodding. “And we think Costa is being directed by someone? Because I never met Costa.”

“Well perhaps there was something you stumbled upon that is linked to Costa. Now that you have recovered it now sees you as a threat,” Sorenson suggests.

“I barely remember anything from back then,” he says shaking his head. “Whatever did this, they took so much of my memory. I mean if they just wanted me to forget Ambrose or something why didn’t they just take those memories?”

“Maybe they couldn’t do it so selectively,” the psychologist suggests. “They just caused a lot of brain damage and hope it got what they wanted or killed you.”

“Yeah,” he says grimly. “But I do remember some things from back then. Maybe I remember something. Maybe there is something I know that it doesn’t want me to.”

“Maybe its something you don’t even realize is significant.”

Frank holds his head trying to remember. “Right.”

“We just have to find a way to trigger the memory.”

“Maybe Frank met user 2,” Shaw suggests.

Frank seizes on that. “That could be. That would make sense. If I knew who user 2 was and if it wanted to remain hidden.”

“You might not have realized it was user 2,”she says, “but you might have met him in your investigations.”

“What about the other victims?” Sorenson asks.

“Well the other victims sound like targets of opportunity,” Frank says. “Maybe the copy isn’t completely under user 2’s control.”

“But they might also be part of a pattern,” the psychologist contemplates. “You might not be the only anomaly. Maybe the one behind this is trying to eliminate others as well.”

Mill voices his opinion that the other murders might be Costa being the serial killer he is. If there is a reason behind them it is entirely Costa’s doing.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, November 30th

The investigators begin to profile Jarette Costa. Shaw obtains the crime reports and Dr. Sorenson leads the analysis. Using the dream records as well they quickly create a profile. Deep down Jarette desires to hurt women but his rational for why he does these horrible things is that he believes he is helping them see the world as it is. He gets at his victims with a charming facade. He is very persuasive and good at getting people to drop their guard around him. However if that facade is seen through, he will become very upset and fixate on that person tot he exclusion of all else.

Sorenson slowly works his way into the mindset of Costa. Clearly Frank is not part of his plan, if anything Robert Mill is more likely to be fixated on. The move to Lake Union only makes sense if he saw Shaw. That suggest he is still murdering to open people’s eyes. Going after Frank is like some outside compulsion.

The doctor looks over Costa’s mad ramblings and the recording of his dreams. The same phrases keep coming up: “God-Machine”, “turning gears”, “tower in sky”, and “dreams came first.” He realizes Costa dreamed of doing murder before doing committing the acts. He also dreamed of a machine in the sky. Then he say in the real world. The dream machine wasn’t the machine he saw. It was just a little piece of a much larger machine. A terminal.

He looks out a window. A translucent tower of gears floats above Seattle. “What the hell is that thing?”

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, November 30th, 5 PM

They discuss findings of the psychological profile. Sorenson seems very agitated. as he paces back and forth, he hears a clicking noise from somewhere in the room.

“What’s the matter Sorenson?” Shaw asks.

“I thought I heard something.” He tilts his head. The noise is coming from Mill‘s bag. "Its coming from your bag. You don’t have a stopwatch going in there?"

“I have a creepy doll in here,” Robert says.

Sorenson ponders that. “That’s something we never thought about. How does this doll fit into this equation? Maybe this doll is a symbol for something else. At its core is something else.”

Mill agrees the doll may be important. Sorenson suggests they take look at it. “But first I want to say that I think Costa was on to something. He uncovered something which caused him to snap. That is when he began his murders. Not that he could open other people eyes but that something opened his eyes. He uncovered some hidden truth. Not sure what this is.”

Shaw however is unconvinced. She asks him, “Are you sure?”

“Well I can speculate,” he says nervously. “You can’t take anything at face value but he felt there was some great technological machine that was controlling and manipulating the world.”

She nods. “Yeah, he said something like that in my interview.”

Mill points out the coma patients at the Hillcrest Mental Health Center may also be connected, while Ilyes tells them a conspiracy theory about wireless communications run directly into the brain, controlled out of the Echelon 4 facility. Trevor suggests this could be a government agency working to control or eliminate paranormal activity.

He concludes with, “I don’t support any one of these theories but we have encountered some pretty crazy stuff.”

Ilyes concurs, “Stands to reason if one was to harness the Tulpa phenomena one would have a limitless army of assassins.”

“What do we think the doll have to do with it?” Shaw asks.

“It is tied to this machine,” Sorenson says. “Like a lost key.”

“Well were looking for some missed remnant from the cases. Something to explain the continuing murders.” She turns to Mill. “Can we take a look at it?”

Mill reluctantly hands it over. On the outside it looks like a well preserved turn of the cnetury doll. But Sorenson can hear a noise from around the doll and faintly see a set of gears extending from it like an umbilical.

“There could be an electromagnetic connection to this machine, tying the doll to it,” he opinions.

Ilyes seems confused. “So you are saying there may be some electronics inside of the doll. If we cut it open we’d find transistors?”

“I don’t want you to cut it open,” Mill says quickly.

“I’m thinking more symbolically,” Sorenson explains. “Not a machine but something paranormal. The words I’m using to describe this thing-”

“Make you sound like a crazy person,” Ilyes says.

“I can think of only technological terms to describe it. It may be some paranormal phenomena that we currently lack the science to describe yet.”

“So Clark’s law,” Ilyes concludes.

Shaw asks Mill, “have you been seeing anything weird in your dreams?”

Mill tells them he has been sleeping pretty well and doesn’t rememebr any dreams while he had the doll with him.

“Either it is shielding you from something or else it is shielding your dreams and the ability to recall them,” Sorenson theorizes.

Shaw ask Dr. Sorenson, “could you hypnotize him and ask him if he recalls his dreams?”

“I don’t have a lot of experience with that but I can try. There aren’t a lot of ways to get at it.”

Mill is supportive of this plan. “They did it in the X-files all the time.”

Dr. Sorenson induces a light trance in Mill.

“How have you been sleeping lately?” Sorenson asks.

“I’ve been sleeping pretty good,” Mill calmly replies.

“Do you remember your last dream you had?”

“I’m not supposed to remember that,” he tells them.

“Have you had any nightmares recently?”


“No dreams you recall what so ever?” Sorenson asks again.

“I’m not supposed to remember the dreams,” he says.

Sorenson bewildered. “That’s unusual. Most people remember at least fragments of their dreams. Are you sure you don’t remember a little bit?”

“I make sure not to remember them.”

“Why would you not want to remember the dreams?” the psychiatrist asks.

“I’m not supposed to remember the dreams. It told me too.”

“Who told you not to remember the dreams? What is keeping you from remembering?”

“The doll,” Mill states.

“Is the doll doing this protect you or to harm you?”

Mill is evasive. “The doll is my friend.”

“Protecting you?”

“Dreams can harm me,” he tells them.

“They can keep you from getting a good night sleep sometimes,” Sorenson admits.

“There are truths in the dreams,” Mill hints.


“What truths?” Shaw asks.

“I’m not supposed to remember what the truths are,” Mill says.

Sorenson resumes the interrogation. “Why do you think the doll is trying to shield you from the truth?”

“Because the secret will open the door,” Mill says cryptically.

“The door to what?”

“I’m not suppose to remember,” he says.

“A literal door or a symbolic door?”

“I’m not sure there is a difference,” he tells them.

“Where is this door? It is impotent for you to remember or you will be a slave to this doll,” Sorenson cajoles.

Mill tells them, “the doll holds the answer. The doll holds the secret. She put the secret in the doll.”

Sorenson decides they have enough information for now. “When you wake up from this trance you will give the doll to Ilyes so he can lead the investigation of what is inside it.”

But when Mill awakens he refuses to give over the doll.

Dr. Sorenson tries to reason with him. “From talking to you in a more lucid state, you seem to be very protective of this doll which also seems very protective of you. It is protecting you but at the same time it is keeping you from seeing the truth. It is not protecting you from outside forces but something in your mind. It could be like a drug addiction, a mental compulsion. I’m just asking you let us investigate it, delicately together.”

The argument continues. The other point out that the examination won’t hurt the doll. Shaw plays back the tapes of Mill’s session.

“It does seem very odd,” Mill admits. He even admits he is obsessed with the doll. But still he refuses to part with it. “I may not be thinking properly but it does seem to protect me. Maybe we could try to sleep experiments and see how far the effect extends.”

“But is it protecting you or its own interests?” Sorenson asks.

“I admit I might be acting irrationally but I don’t want you to take the doll,” Mill tells them.

“We won’t take it permanently we just want to run some tests on it,” Ilyes says. “You can be present.”

Shaw points out that the serial killer is still out there. They need to act soon.Eventually they wear Mill down and preform some external testing.

Bellevue, Washington, November 30th, 7 PM

Using the clinic after hours as well as some equipment borrowed from the university, the conduct an examination of the doll. The results are baffling. An X-rays shows the interior to be empty as if it were hollow. Yet is has mass and feel consistent with being filled with some granular material. There are no electromagnetic emissions and less radioactivity than would be expected. Its heat signature is normal as is a chemical analysis of the outer layer. An ultrasound skips over the interior as if the inside was a vacuum.

“Can I have doll back?” Mill asks.

Dr. Ilyes is at his wits end. “Yeah. Dr. Sorenson let’s confer.”

Shaw and Mill talk while the doctors are out of the room.

“How you feel about that?” Shaw asks.

“What do you mean?”

“You seem pretty concerned about the doll,” she explains.

“I just feel nervous,” he says. “Like they are going to hurt the doll.”

Shaw points out how irrationally he has been acting, like he is addicted to this doll or being controlled. “I’d like to think you could stop if you needed to.”

Elsewhere, Ilyes tells Dr. Sorenson, “It’s more inert than it should be.”

“Like there is some kind of shielding?” Sorenson says.

They talk about what it might be but eventually Ilyes says, “I just want to cut open this doll and find out what is in there.”

“I agree but I don’t really want him to be freaked out,” Sorenson says referring to Mill.

Ilyes takes a stern tone with the psychologist. “You are the psychologist and you are dealing with a nigh psychotic patient. Tranquilize him.”

“I feel violating his trust like that would be wrong,” he says. But he reluctantly agrees. “Lives are at stake.”

The doctors return with some coffee. As they drink Mill asks, “so we are going to try my plan with the dreams?”

Dr. Sorenson nods. “Yes, I think that is the next step.”

The doctors ramble on about the plans as Mill grows increasingly tired. He slumps back in his seat and passes out.

Shaw shouts at them, “What the hell?”

Ilyes tries to explain. “He’s alright but he’s under the influence of a paranormal entity.”

“What do you mean? You didn’t think he would give it up?” she asks, shoked and dismayed by their behavior.

Trevor leans up against a wall shaking. “Its just a sleeping drug. I -I can’t believe I did that. Its just something to put him under so he wouldn’t be so obsessive about the doll. We need to see what is inside.”

“Are you okay?” Shaw asks.

Dr. Ilyes tells them their findings. “It puts out no radioactivity. X-rays and Ultrasound show nothing. According to everything I’ve been reading there is nothing inside that doll yet it still has mass.”

“Not even empty space,” Sorenson adds. “There is nothing inside.”

“So you guys want to cut it open?” Shaw asks.

Ilyes is unapologetic. “Yes. We want to understand what this is.”

“You really need to talk to him about that,” Shaw lectures them.

“He was not acting rationally,” Sorenson tells them.

Shaw objects. “I know that but-”

Ilyes interrupts her. “He was acting in a manner consistent with supernatural compulsion.”

“There are lives at stake,” Sorenson says.

Shaw sighs. “He is stronger than that, he deserves to make that choice for himself.”

The argument continues several more minutes about the morality of what happened. Dr. Sorneons is of the opinion that an intervention was necessary and not everything can be solved with words. Shaw disapproves.

“Let’s just stop talking and figure this shit out,” Shaw says.

Dr. Ilyes carefully cuts open the doll, opening it up along a seam. As it opens up they can see it is filled with bright multicolored dust. It resembles a day glow version what they found inside the Sandmen.

A little bit of dust wafts out and each of them has a flash of memory. Shaw remebers being Frank on the case of tracking down a deadbeat husband who is having an affair. Ilyes rembers being a child in the 1950s who encounters a Sandman. Trevor remembers being a workman at the construction site for the Ashwood Heights apartment complex.

“What is all this equipment we are putting in the basement? It is like some strange science fiction stuff down there,” he recalls saying to the foreman. Then a Sandmen appears.

Mill meanwhile has a dream. He is journeying through his dreams. He travels past his own dreams, then past the dreams of hundreds of other people. He keeps going until he is standing in front oa blazingly bright thing in the middle of the dreams. It is a symbol he can’t quite focus on but he knows it is a key. The idea of it is lodged in his head. He also realizes there is a second key and someone is using it now.

“Well that’s an interesting psychogenic property,” Ilyes says. He takes a sample and sews the doll back up.

“I thought I was Frank there for a second,” Shaw says. “What about you guys?”

“I remember someone being assaulted by a sandman,” Ilyes says.

Sorenson concurs. “Maybe these are the stolen memories that the Sandmen have stuffed into this doll.”

Ilyes nods. “If I hadn’t experienced all of this I would say you were deeply deluded, but I have.”

“A year ago I would have committed myself,” Sorenson says.

Mill wakes up with the doll in his hands. “I’m sorry I just nodded off there.”

“Possibly an effect from the hypnotic session,” Ilyes suggest.

Mill tells them about his dream as best he can. “It may have been what the doll was trying to keep me from remembering. There is this key.” He concentrates. “I can’t quite articulate it but there is this key that goes to this door. But the important thing is that there is a second key being used out there right now.”

Dr. Sorenson he no longer hears the ticking from the doll or sees the ghostly umbilical. But does hear gear noises coming from Mill’s head while he concentrates.

“It sounds like you are experiencing the unlocking of a repressed memory,” Ilyes suggests.

“I think a short nap in the proximity of the doll might have unlocked the dream,” Sorenson says.

Mill agrees. “Yeah so my plan worked out. Though I still can’t quite remember it, like it is slipping away like a dream.”

Ilyes says, “well let’s try some sleep studies at distance from the doll and we will monitor you.”

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, November 31st, 2 AM

The investigators conduct the sleep study that night. Mill sleeps and they move the doll varying distances to see the effect on his dreams and vitals. Dr. Ilyes watches him and records the data, while Shaw and Dr. Sorenson wait in the surveillance room, keeping an eye out for trouble.

The doll does not seem to be having same effect. It is diminished, weakened.

Mill dreams of the House and the Silent One. She threatens him harshly, “You took my dolly. You took my secret. This isn’t over. I’m not gone. I will come back. I will take the secret from your mind.”

In the surviellance room, Shaw spots a suspiciously blurry janitor in the hall downstairs. “Sorenson, this janitor looks blurry to me. Its him.”

“We can’t let him get out of here,” Sorenson says. They quickly form a plan to surround him.

They relay this to Ilyes. “Do you want me to revive Mill? He is one of our most effective combatants.”

“Yes, wake him up,” Sorenson says as he heads for the far stairwell.

“I’ll track him through the video feeds,” Shaw says standing in the door to the surveillance room. She glances at the video feeds and see the man heading up the nearby stairwell. “I think he is coming up here. Wake him up.”

Mill continues to dream. The Silent One advances on him, continuing to threaten him, “I will eat your memories. I’ll devour everything there was of you. I will track down those you love and I will eat them too.”

He wakes up to Ilyes shaking him. The doctor tells him, “We’ve got a situation here.”

For a moment Mill sees a Sandman behind him. Then he blinks and it disappears.

“Jarette Costa is in the building,” Ilyes says.

“He is in the building?” Mill says sitting up.

“He is coming this way.”

“Is Isabel here?” Mill says shaking the sleep from his head.

Ilyes shakes his head. “Not as far as I know.”

Elsewhere Dr. Sorenson runs down the far stairwell and across the downstairs hallway. He sneaks up the other stairwell and finds himself behind the serial killer. Before he can enter the floor, Sorenson tackles him, driving him to the grounds. Shaw standing in the hall runs over and helps hold him down. With her help, Sorenson is able to pin him to ground for a moment.

Then Jarette Costa breaks the hold and tries to bring a box cutter to bear on the doctor.

In the examination room, Mill grabs his guns and moves out into the hall with Ilyes.

Shaw wrenches Costa’s arm and knocks the box cutter down the stairs. She gives him a kick and disarms him of the bottle of bleach in his other hand. Sorenson smacks Costa’s head into the concrete but only angers him. Costa kicks him into a wall.

Sorenson quickly shakes it off. “Is that all you got!”

Mills tries to help hold Costa down, but suddenly he seems to gain superhuman strength. Dr. Sorenson is thrown down the stairs while the others spill out into the hallway.

Ilyes rushes forward in the moment of distraction with a syringe. “You are going to feel a small jabbing sensation don’t worry.”

He injects Costa with a tranquilizer. The serial killer teeters for a moment. “I have to. I have to show the truth. I must get the doll back. No. No I’m not human. This won’t work on me.”

He shrugs off the drug’s effects and knocks Ilyes away. “I’ve moved beyond such limits.”

Mill quick draws his guns and riddles Costa with bullets. The killer shudders as cracks run up and out of his wounds.

“No. I. I saw the gears,” as his amrs crumbles and falls off.

“We know about the God-Machine,” Ilyes says.

“Do you know? There is another key,” the sociopath says as a deep crack runs up and across his face.

“Where is the other key?”

“He’s coming. he will kill more than me.” Then Costa shatters and disintegrates.


As the month passes, the killings stop. According to V.I. there no doppelgangers in the city and the Sandmen have become easy to knock off. Jarette Costa is tried and sent to prison for life.

The analysis of the dust from the doll is just as inconclusive as that from the Sandmen. They seem to be the same is every way but color at least as science can yet divine.

And occasionally Mill can see something drifting in sky.


derendel derendel

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.