Apparently I occasionally write fanfic now. Here's where I'll put any that I've recorded.
A "The Magnus Archives" fanfic, following the events of the finale. Maybe spoilers?
For more info on The Magnus Archives, see their website.
F/X - A tape cassette switches on.
This is Detective Spode recording. I give my permission for this recording to be used in the hearing for case number 624687.
This is a victim statement for case number 624687, document number 27244837.
This statement was given by Andrew McCullock, flatmate of Roderick Stephens, on the 26th of March, 2021.
Honestly, I think it began when he started listening to podcasts. He's always liked little niche things, and I guess these shows made by mad obsessives were the niche thing du jour. Except each of them came with built in hobbies of their own to follow afterwards.
He'd listen to somebody doing a breakdown of all of Charlie Chaplin's best prat falls, and then spend hours on YouTube finding them all and trying to recreate them. Or crunch through a recap show, and then stay awake for thirty hours getting through the relevant series.
It was sometimes annoying, as some of these hobbies were a little too big for our flatshare, but at least they didn't stick around for very long. He'd dive in, play with it until he found a natural endpoint, and drop it completely. Usually when he'd mastered some particularly tricky intermediate skill. And it wasn't always a bad thing, because when he wasn't working on a hobby, he was rather reliant on smoking to pass the time. Anything that put that off was fine by me.
But then he found this last one. Not entirely sure what it was, something about library archival systems maybe? Never listened to it, but he started asking me about cross-linking methods, data analysis and analogue versus digital recording. That's when the wall of crazy appeared.
No idea what anything on there means by the way. I only saw it a couple of times, as he started locking his door soon after that, but what I saw didn't make any sense to me. I gave a couple of things a google, but mostly all I got were nonsense pages obviously built for link spamming. The couple of exceptions were Smirke, who apparently is an architect, maybe he was looking into how you build libraries? And something called the Leitner system, a method for sorting your flashcards.
Anyway, that was the first sign he was into a new obsession. I don't think I got much conversation out of him after that first week. Basically lived with his headphones attached to him, constantly taking notes on a stack of post-its. Occasionally he'd leave one out. I snapped photos of a couple of them, because the one time I tried to chuck one, he flipped out. They weren't any more informative, really, mostly just big lists of numbers. Though to be fair, that might have been to do with his PhD. Maybe they were sample numbers, which actually would have been pretty vital.
As I say, he didn't talk much, other than mumbling to himself as he scribbled on another post-it. He did seem to not want to be alone, however. Didn't matter where I was in the flat, he kept finding excuses to be in the same room as me. I don't know how much you know about postgrads, but we can have some strange schedules. But no matter what hour it happened to be, there was Rod. Would look up from whatever I was doing, and just find him watching me. Bit creepy, but given how quiet he had been, was worried something was bothering him, and that this was some sort of coping mechanism. I didn't want to drive him away if that was the case.
Luckily, it didn't last long. I'd been gently dropping hints that maybe he should be trying to find people who shared his interests by pretending I was doing the same, and he must have started Skyping people, because I started hearing him chatting in his room, and he invested in a couple of webcams. One for his laptop and one for the big TV in the main room. Personally I'm not sure I'd want my face appearing on a 4K telly, but I guess whoever he was talking to didn't have to know they were on a 50 inch screen.
He did try and prank me a couple of times with those. I'd be sitting at the kitchen table, and would suddenly hear this gentle buzz behind me. When I eventually noticed it wasn't the fridge and turned around, the TV would be on, and he'd just be sat there watching. As soon as he spotted I'd seen him, the screen would flick off. Not exactly the best prank ever. Certainly not as good as that time I replaced his shampoo with golden syrup.
But after he started talking to other people, he started getting a bit more normal again. Stopped listening every minute of every day, stopped leaving the post-its everywhere, and stopped following me around, which was nice. I figured the podcast had ended, and this was the wrapping up period. You know, discuss a few things you've learnt, suggest other things you can listen to next, and maybe archive all the notes. Bit like when you do a lit review.
I even thought he'd found the next obsession, because he spent a couple of days making oblique references to finding The Sims. Figured he'd heard about the people making money off of it, and wanted to download an older version that was compatible with modding software. People like making little houses and controlling every aspect of their characters' lives, but the games are quite limited, so there's a thriving business of people creating custom items, like drugs or special pets. Bit silly, but you can make a living out of it if you're good. That seemed a bit more productive, but nothing ever seemed to come of it. Guess he found coding was more difficult than he expected.
He was back to the old routine though, so I stopped being worried about him. He was still locking his room, but I figured he'd just slipped into the habit, and maybe we'd been living in each other's pockets too much anyway. We'd both been single for a while, despite our best efforts, and I was beginning to wonder whether we were getting old enough that we should be trying to get into our own separate spaces, even if it would mean a more painful rent paying experience.
Looking into it, it would be a really painful experience. We started running through listings and doing the maths on what we could afford, but there was always a slight disconnect between what was available and what I could stretch to. Utterly frustrating, as I've never been amazing at budgeting, and every time I thought I was getting close, Rod would point out some minor cost I'd forgotten that just tipped the balance to the side which meant I'd keep slipping further into debt. I tried it for a couple of weeks, until I finally conceded defeat and just added a mental filter for people with flatmates to my OK Cupid account. At least they might understand the struggle.
That's when "the struggle" restarted, this time with vintage tape recorders. I assume ebay did a roaring trade out of him, as for a couple of weeks, a parcel turned up nearly every day. Each one contained an ever more obscure brand of cassette player. He set them up in pairs, as a sound experiment apparently. The system was he'd have one playing and one recording, on other sides of a space. You know, opposite sides of the kitchen table, or the settee. He was apparently testing to see what happened when you record playback of a previous recording, a bit like the old Doctor Who opening. I could never hear anything on the playback tape though, just the gentle hum of the motor. Guess it operated at frequencies above the human ear.
I figured it was better than other things he could be doing, but it did make me a bit more aware of my habit of talking and singing to myself. It's okay belting out songs or pretending you're a talkie toaster when you're alone in your kitchen, but when something's recording you, it takes all the spontaneous fun out of it. I was also worried about spoiling his experiment, though he never told me to be quiet.
That was just before the last fun weekend we had. He'd finally convinced me to go paintballing with him, and so one slightly damp Saturday morning, I found myself facing him across a bit of woodland. I'm not the best at it, but it was good fun, chasing ourselves back and forth, occasionally landing a hit on each other. He got a bit too into it at the end of the day, going full Rambo about hunting me down, but it was nice to see him enjoying himself.
Which is why I was worried the next week when I basically didn't see him. He would go out for hours, come back and go straight into his room. I tried to talk to him, but he wasn't having it. I figured I could give him a week, to look after himself, so just kept on doing most of his jobs around the flat, and keeping us kept stocked with food. Did make me appreciate how often he must dust, though, because I was constantly removing spider webs from the corners of the ceiling, that I'd never noticed before.
It all came to a head that next Saturday though , when I told him I'd had enough. Banged on his door for ages, until he finally came out. He looked more cheerful than I expected, and was pretty calm. When I told him I was worried, he said he got it, and had just been bummed out that one of his online dating possibilities had crashed and burned. So he'd been getting a bit drunk, and not really feeling like moving. Promised last night was the last time, and it was time to get moving. So he was going to have the nice coffee to celebrate.
He boiled the kettle, filled the cafetiere, and made us both a cup. We sat down in front of the telly, and chatted like we used to. It was great, complaining to each other about the state of the telly, and it was only as I gently slid to one side that I realised I'd been starting to slur my words.
I came out of the blackness all at once, trying to lurch myself upwards. But all I did was arch my back, and wriggling around on my elbows, I discovered that my ankles and wrists were tied to his bed. He was sat on his desk chair, watching me, surrounded by his mad wall and the crisscrossing of the red string. He'd progressed to three walls now, and so the string made weird 3D shapes in the air. I honestly don't know how he got me through it to the bed.
I yelled at him, or tried to, and realised my slowly waking jaw muscles were stretched open by a gag of some sort. He looked actually sad, as he said "I'm sorry, I've got to do them all. We'll start with the easy ones first." I yelled at him, but he switched the light off, and left. He must have taped or painted over the window, because it was utterly black. There wasn't a single light anywhere, and though I kept closing and opening my eyes, I couldn't get anything to resolve. I kept trying to yell and scream, but through the gag, I doubted anyone could hear me. It was only when I was utterly convinced he'd gone forever and I was going to die here, that he returned.
"Only for a moment", he said, as he flicked on a switch, and then left again. Above me, a massive screen started gently glowing. On it, small lights appeared, and started to move. I tried to stop watching, but they were the only light, and I needed something to cling on to. I was stretching up to get closer to these spiralling lights, when my perspective flipped, and I was suddenly overcome by this hideous vertigo, and it felt like I was falling upwards into some great empty space. I think I passed out again, as he was suddenly back in the room, wearing that mask and holding the Bowie knife.
You've seen what he did with that. You've also seen the results of the biting insects, the waterboarding, and the solid hour he spent punching me. He stopped once, to feed me some dark liquid while I was too out of it to scream, and weirdest of all, he made me watch him burn my thesis. Thank god for multiple backups. After he'd burned my thesis, he turned the lighter onto my hand, and that was when he'd obviously reached his limit. He turned away from the fumes, retching, and ran out of the room. I could hear him vomiting, and knew I didn't have long. Thank Christ he dropped the lighter close enough.
I'll never get full sensation back in those fingers apparently, but it was worth it to burn through those ropes. After that, I had just enough freedom to get the rest of me untied, and let me barricade the door and find his mobile. That's where you lot come in, and you don't need me to tell you the rest. Just, lock him up, and please don't let him find me again.
Additional note. Mr McCullock is obviously traumatised by his experience, and I believe it would be better to not have him placed in the court to provide additional statements. On a personal note, I believe I have found the podcast mentioned herein. I'm quite enjoying it thus far. Very clever. Haven't quite worked out what's going on yet though.
F/X - Tape cassette switches off. Or does it?