Sunday, October 31, 2004

Early Start

It's not yet noon, but I haven't been able to sleep since last night, and waiting seems pointless. The sun is up, let's go let's go. Cam is on his way over now.

I went to Home Depot early this morning and bought some supplies for the trip. I already had a few essentials here, mostly electronics. We're taking:
  • two high-powered flashlights
  • a Canon digital Elph camera
  • a Sony mini-camcorder
  • noseplugs
  • Swiss army knives with built-in scissors
  • a laser pointer
Now and then I glance over at the gear, and chuckle. It's like we're going on some hiking trip. Except, Cam is bringing his handgun. That scares me more than anything right now. I don't want anyone to get shot today, even Sweatsuit Man, if he's home. If we need to involve police, the firearm will make things look worse. And lastly, it's not like he's going to unload a clip into the drywall.

We may have two more coming with us, two friends of Cam's who're along for the ride. I don't know either of them, but I guess the more the merrier. An outside perspective will do me good.

Connie won't be back from her mother's until about 4pm. I should be home long before then. The main objectives of this trip: 1) Confront Sweatsuit Man, find out who he is, and 2) document the house, including address info.

Update: Cam's friends can't make it. It's just the two of us. Well, that makes it easier to keep an eye on each other.

He's on his way up. Jen, I'm guessing you had to recharge your cell overnight or something. Call me.

Here we go.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

It's Here

Jen! Where are you, and why haven't you answered your cell?

I don't see how you would check here before checking voicemail, but just in case, call me. I got home from work at about 7pm, and saw Sweatsuit Man driving out of the alley, in his pickup. I don't know if I was just fed up, or suspicious, but this time I followed him. It was night and I felt that I could follow at a reasonable distance without drawing much attention. If he knew my car, it would've been harder to identify at night. Anyway.

He drove north on Highland and entered the 101 westbound. We stayed on the freeway all the way to the 405, where he merged north, for the valley. There was some heavy traffic there, and for a few minutes I couldn't see the pickup, but I found him again as we passed Victory.

He exited Sherman Way and headed east. Then I got stuck at a light at the Northridge med center and lost him again. I just kept driving and looking. I thought I saw a pickup take a right on a residential street and followed. I had no idea where I was, no way to write down the street names. I have Mapquest open in another window right now, I'm narrowing it down, trying to recognize familiar names.

I had gotten lost after taking too many zig-zags, chasing after tail lights. Some of the stop signs had no street labels. Just an unmarked intersection. But I know the general area. And I made my way back to the freeway. I can retrace my steps in the daylight.

I found the house, Jen. And the pickup. It's the same house. The lights weren't on but I could see it well enough under the streetlamp. Same floorplan, same elevation. Not sure if the gate had a plank missing, it was too dark. But it's the one.

I called Cameron as soon as I got to a place where I had a signal again. He's on his way over. Connie is at her mother's this weekend. I think we're going to go over tomorrow, middle of the day, and confront the man. I'll round up anyone else I can, too. Power in numbers.

If, given the chance, we can enter the house, I'm undecided. I want to be able to put a stop to this madness, to expose or explain it, and that may require going inside and facing the madness.

But this time, we won't be unprepared.

I Should Be Working

...but I keep going back to the printout I took with me to the office; the one from Mark's PC. This has to be the pic of the house. It looks exactly like Mark described.

You know the funny part? It doesn't really look scary. It's just this generic, slightly neglected thing. I keep staring at it, as if I'll see Mark's face in a window, or a second story, or the front door will suddenly swing open... But none of that happens. It's just a low-res snapshot of a house.

I've emailed it to you, Jen. I'll send along anything else I find tonight, but so far, nothing exciting.

He was a great guy, you know. A great guy.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Return of Sweatsuit Man

Yes, he's back again.
This time, he has a vehicle. I saw him parked along the curb, just across the street from my building. He was in this dirt-caked pickup truck with a crooked fender. Just staring at the main entrance like it was a bank he was about to rob.

I guess that rules out homeless.
Who the hell is that guy? I don't like it. And I'm really, really trying not to be paranoid. Really.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Thoughts and Theories

It's been a long day, I'm buried in more email, and I've had two glasses of wine. Time for a long rambling post full of tangents and disturbances, starring an ensemble cast of the horrific little thoughts that have been collecting in the back of my mind since September.


So, the problem with this whole mess, with Andrew and Mark and Danielle and who knows how many others, the problem is it's crazy. You'd have to be crazy to take this all in and convince yourself 'Yeah, it happened, and it will continue to happen.'

So let's get crazy, Jen. I'm already there. I'm to the point that I think the reason something this horrific continues to spread is the power of human denial. Skepticism and curiosity, a dangerous duo. The house knows this. It banks on it. It gets its next victim that way, and prevents the truth from becoming so widespread and accepted as to blow its cover. The old line about the greatest trick the devil ever pulled.

All right. So there is a house, a set of houses. Identical. How? I don't know. The houses are inexorably tied. They share some sort of space, in some way. I picked up a science book the other day called The Holographic Universe, and Talbot (the author) talks about the phenomenon of this decaying photon particle, and how when it decays it suddenly seems to be in two places at once, but really it's just the way we're perceiving it, with the tools we're using, that gives it that illusion. There's this whole example, if you had a guy who didn't know what a camera or TV was, and hadn't seen a fish before, and you set him down in front of two monitors each focusing on different angles of the same fish, his kneejerk conclusion would be that there are two separate creatures somehow behaving as a unified pair. What one does, the other does.

I know I butchered that. But the book is in my car so you'll just have to bear with me. So this house is like that photon particle. It's in different places, but also in the same place. See, this explains the strange sounds and voices people hear inside; the sound is bleeding through from other locations, other iterations of the same hallway. For example, maybe Linney heard Mark trying to reach me on the phone, even though he was in Boise and she lives (lived?) in Arizona.

Then there's the way it regurgitates things, like keys. They don't show in the same place either. But then again the entire second story isn't supposed to exist, so all bets are off. Right? I'd like to find the architect who drew up these plans, and lock that fucker in an upstairs room.

Okay, so the house can do one of two things to you:
1) digest you
2) sort of partially digest you, 'hollow you out' as Mark would say, and make you a subserviant tool to obey the house

Why would it need us like that? Again, two options spring to mind:
1) self-preservation
2) appetite

An example of self-preservation: the Madsons. They'd been in the house, lived there for some time. And they managed to escape. I'm guessing here, maybe they posed a risk, like "MrParanoia" mentions. Was that risk due to them having stayed so long in the house without falling victim? Or was it a discovery? It had to be something big, for the house to keep tracking them for four years. If Drew kept taking jobs at Blockbuster Video stores, maybe he had the Madsons' account info and could tell where they were renting movies.

Speaking of, Mark mentioned Drew had a lot of IDs for different states. Did he stay in another iteration of the house in each state? How many are there?

The appetite theory is self-explanatory. The house uses people (who then use email, articles, etc.) as "lures" to ensnare new victims. Flies. I know I'm leaning heavily on Mark's original theory now, but I agree with him. Maybe I secretly believed him all along. And if that's true...

Christ, it's Andrew all over again. I let Mark slip away because I didn't want to face this mess, and now he haunts me the way Drew haunted him. As a memory. I'm so sorry, Jen. I'm sitting here trying to convince myself of the same ridiculous, insane, terrible thoughts Mark attempted to share five weeks ago! Why is the unexplained so taboo we can't accept it? We can't go to friends for help?

Did you know the human eye only sees about 40 percent of what we think is really there? Our brains interpolate the rest and fill in the missing space. There's a visual exercise in this quantum book that demonstrates it. I don't know what that has to do with this, but it stuck in my head after reading about it.

I want to see Mark again. I want this whole nightmare to be over, Jen. I feel so bad, I wake up aching in my chest at night. I leave lights on. I worry that I'm starting to go crazy, and the act of worrying pulls me further from sanity. But I still worry: about you, about Connie, and me. Are we in danger? Are we in a position to kill this fucking monster that took Mark? Is that also why we're in danger?

Too many questions, and the wine is doing all the talking now.
Off to bed.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A Dose of Normalcy

Good news, Jen. Not all things are crazy!

I realized that today after shirking off this sense of suspicion and paranoia I've been carrying around. Maybe it will help you too. I'm just going to rattle off a few things here, call it a mental exercise, call it what you will. It's helped me calm down.
  • The car drove smoothly today. No engine hiccups.
  • It actually rained here last night, and the air has that crisp feel to it. I walked to lunch from the office and passed by all these people who were out, people with normal lives. I stood next to a guy at the crosswalk and listened to him chat to a friend on his cell phone about GTA: San Andreas.
  • I brought home sushi take-out for Connie. She's finally able to eat regularly again, and I know she's been craving it. When she gets really excited or happy, it's like she can't talk, she just makes this high-pitched giggle-squeal and claps the palms of her hands. I absolutely adore that about her.
    Sushi = squeal-worthy. :-)
  • No sign of Sweatsuit Man. I think he's gone.
So, yeah. There's plenty of good things going on. I can't let the bad thoughts creep in and ruin the rest.

I hope you have some good ones, too.
And I'll let you know when the FedEx guy shows up with the laptop.

Strange Text Message

I got this on my cell phone today. The caller ID is listed as 'unknown' and my txt replies bounce back. The message reads:


If this is a prank, it's not funny.

He's Out There Again

I can see him between the two apartment buildings across the street.
Just standing there. I'm torn between the urge to confront him, or to call the police.

Connie isn't talking to me much this week. Used to be, we'd get up together and chat over breakfast. Now she just sleeps through. She won't let me kiss her on the lips. I know she's just worried about me, and maybe concerned I've become obsessed... Maybe she's right.

I'm late for work, and the car has been acting up on me. Goddamnit. The last thing I need now is a trip to the dealer in Burbank.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Getting Surreal

What the hell am I doing?

I'm going crazy. Ever since I first got pulled into this whole ordeal, ever since Mark's first email to me, I've been spiraling. Now I'm struggling just to separate the facts from the fog, the real from the unreal. For weeks, I've been trying to keep his disappearance (and everything trailing after that) at arm's length, and I've failed. I'm an absolute mess. I don't know what to think. I can't help the Condrys or Jen anymore than I already am, yet I feel wholly inadequate to answer their questions. The truth is I simply don't know. I don't. I wish I did. The one person who can answer them has been missing since September 21, and it's possible he lied to me about what he was doing.

And to make matters worse, I can't even lean on Connie. She doesn't like the fact that I keep updating Mark's site, or that I'm talking to Jen in the middle of the night. But I don't think she understands. The questions she asks, they're always centered around Jen, and what I was talking about on the phone. I know that tone of hers. In the midst of this terrifying ordeal, she thinks I'm cheating on her!

I can't dump my thoughts and feelings on the site I made for Mark -- too many people (including Jen and Connie) are paying attention now. And when I've called Cam, he's been more interested in the crazy theories than how I'm feeling. The email box I set up for questions by Mark's family is now flooded with messages from total strangers, some of them a little too eager to help. Or maybe I'm just paranoid now.

I need a place to unload all these things weighing me down. And, as I have come to appreciate so well in the last month -- a place to record events in my life. This is just for me. A little sanctuary, or maybe a confessional.

Here's something I haven't told Connie yet, nor Jen for that matter. Yesterday morning when I took out the trash, I saw a man standing at the other end of the alley, over on the La Brea side. Just standing there, staring at me. He was wearing this sweatsuit like a jogger wears, it looked dirt-stained, and his hair was unkempt. I tried not to stare back. I think he may be homeless.

This morning I saw him again, down by Olympic. Just standing and staring at me as I drove by.

Christ, I'm going out of my mind, I just know it.