“IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR” – A True Paranormal Story! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: I’m sharing a story from Weirdo Family member Vincent Rocca – a story that was a bit too polished and too detailed for me to believe was true until I contacted Vince to make doubly-sure it was a fact-based story. He assured me, every bit of it is completely true! The story also comes with visuals. When he originally posted the story on Reddit, Mr. Rocca included photos and video links of what he was talking about, which he gave me permission to include in the transcript.
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
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Thursday October 3, 2019
Things got serious the day I installed surveillance cameras. That night, after I kissed my wife, Deanna, goodnight, I retired to my home office to edit a video for YouTube.
Just after 1 a.m., a high pitch shriek fills the house and jolts me out of my chair. I immediately run to Deanna, toward the scream. As I dash down the hall I’m hoping she is just having night terrors.
Later, when I watched the surveillance video, I saw something different. I saw something pulling her leg. Intently, I watch, waiting for it to happen again.
I see the gentle rise and fall of Deanna’s breaths as she sleeps soundly. She tosses and turns a bit, but nothing out of the ordinary. She snuggles into our waterbed with her right leg hooked around the comforter exposing her foot. Suddenly, her leg kicks as if it were yanked. She’s startled, but tries to fall back to sleep.
Our surveillance cameras have audio, so I could hear her grumble, “Vince, don’t pull my leg. I’m trying to sleep.”* I must admit, messing with her is something I regularly do, but not that night.*
Moments later, Deanna is forcibly pulled to the end of the bed. Jarred awake, she clings to the sheets trying to fight it off. It lets go, freeing her to scurry back to the headboard. She gasps and balls her limbs around her body like a child.
She scans the room attempting to make sense of what just occurred. Gaining a presence of mind, she creeps toward the foot of the bed to investigate. Slowly, she approaches the edge, grasping a fistful of the comforter for safety. She peers over but sees nothing. Relieved, Deanna rubs her face as she reassesses the room. She turns to my side of the bed and gulps, it must be there. Cautiously, she peeks over that edge, but again finds nothing and breathes a sigh of relief.
As she lingers over my side, the bedroom door behind her creaks. She turns and sees the door closing. Quickly, she sits up to glare at it. The door moves again. In a panic, with revved-up breaths, she calls for me. A hushed gasp at first, until she builds up the nerve to scream, “Vince!”
I fly out of my chair, blaze past the dogs and down the hall. Deanna shields her face in fear as I rush in spouting out a million, “What, what, what’s!” I kneel at her side and grab for her; she jumps.
Voice cracking, she mutters, “Do you see it?” She drops the covers a bit to peek.
“See what?” I ask.
“There’s someone behind the door.” Fixated, she whispers, “Its shadow is right there.”
I look over my shoulder, but I see nothing. Then, chillingly, Deanna cries, “She’s looking right at us!”
Her words cause my hair follicles to rise, even though I still don’t see a thing.
I stand up to approach the door. Deanna begs for me not to. I proceed, not knowing what she expects of me instead.
Once at the door, a cold draft flows over my body and I realize the door movement must be from an open window breeze. I look back to Deanna, she exclaims, “Oh my God. She’s right behind you!” Frozen, I slowly turn; then with a sudden whoosh, the door slams! Deanna screams.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – (I’m Darren Marlar and) this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
I’m sharing a story from Weirdo Family member Vincent Rocca – a story that was a bit too polished and too detailed for me to believe was true. It was also a lengthy story, much like the original stories I’ve shared. I thought it was fictional story, you might have too once you heard it, but Vincent sent it as a true story. I felt the need to reach out to him to double-check, thinking he just made a mistake in submitting it. Nope. He said, “While there may be skepticism… every word is true. It all happened. I’ll be jazzed to hear your take on it.” It’s a story called, “If You Don’t Believe, You Have Nothing To Fear”. The story also comes with visuals. When he originally posted the story on Reddit, Mr. Rocca included photos and video links of what he was talking about. So if you would like, you can follow along with the story and see the visuals within the transcript of this episode. To do so, look for the transcript link in the show notes, then scroll down that blog post where you’ll see the transcript begin.
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE, THEN YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY=====
Before I go any further, I should rewind a bit, to a simpler time — a time before the security cameras were installed, because the story doesn’t start or end here.
My name is Vince Rocca. I’m 46 years old. I have hippie shoulder-length, nearly black hair and brown almond shaped eyes. I also rock an awesome goatee. I’m in decent shape, but I could stand to lay off the donuts.
My wife Deanna is six months older than me, but is often mistaken for a much younger age. She has long brown hair and brown eyes. She is tall and leggy, with a slim build, and tries to workout six nights a week.
I’m a reality television editor. I routinely mold piles of mundane footage in to fun entertainment. I can assure you that reality television is not fake. Sure, the story is sometimes guided, but it is definitely real. In general, people naturally do front a hyper-realized version of themselves for the cameras. But even with the best, guided, most sensational character, it can often take 10-hours of footage to produce a good 3-minute segment.
Deanna is a Registered Veterinary Technician at the Los Angeles Zoo. Her duties involve everything from anesthesia to X-rays. She has done it all, from darting tigers to elephant trunk washes. Her favorite task is caring for the hospitalized animals. Be it a harbor seal or a vulture, she prides herself on finding ways to make their stay enjoyable.
We met in the eighth grade. I vividly recall the moment I first saw this stunning brunette. The leaves were turning in the warm autumn sun at our California junior high school. She crossed the quad in a pink Town & Country shirt as her long, tan legs jutted out from under a white miniskirt. I wish I could say I locked this down immediately, but we didn’t start dating until two years later at the age of 16. We have since been inseparable and are blessed to celebrate 30 years together, with 21 of those as husband and wife.
I’ve heard people describe Deanna as shy, reserved, and quiet. However, she’s always game to ham it up in the silly videos we post on the Internet. I, on the other hand, am often described as outspoken, boisterous, and loud. You could say opposites attract, but I really think we’re the same person.
We live in Southern California in a lovely suburban community adjacent to Northridge, which became famous in 1994 as the epicenter of a 6.7 magnitude earthquake.
In 2009, we purchased an awesome 2700 square foot 3 bedroom 3 bath home that was originally built in 1965. The house was a bank repossession and sat empty for nearly a year as the previous owners had succumbed to the subprime mortgage collapse.
Because of that recession, we were able to afford this huge house that even includes a den/game room. The house sits on a hill, with neighbors on each side and government land behind it. Bordering that land and us is a ravine with the dry Los Angeles River at the bottom. The large property includes a pool and a six-car parking lot, all nestled behind a sixteen-foot tall gate.
We are kidless, sans for the two fur-babies, which probably lends to our low-stress, youthful spirit. At the very least, being without kids definitely gives us the freedom to travel the globe and enjoy our vacations.
Back in 2014, I started editing our vacation videos as if they were reality TV shows and posted them to YouTube. This was before VLOGS were commonplace, but looking back, that’s exactly what these were: Travel VLOGS. For those not up on the term, a VLOG is a Video LOG, much like a BLOG is a written weB LOG.
As time went on, we traveled more and uploaded more, shooting everything became routine. I point this out so you understand that it’s not unusual for me to always be filming.
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1 YEAR before Night #1
Monday October 22, 2018
We started a little home improvement project, a project that would eventually turn out to have dire consequences on our relationship.
The whole front of our house is brick, but under our bedroom window is a weird wood accent. The wood looks like a headboard surrounded by molded wood trim. I assume this exists because a patio door was an option when the house was first built. Today, we’re going to exercise that option and install a French door.
Deanna enjoys smashing the glass into pieces. She even takes charge of the sledgehammer to blast holes between the studs so we can get our hands in to leverage the drywall out. I happily run the camcorder, as she pounds and sweats.
One particular opening catches her eye. She peers into the wall and declares, “There’s something in there.” She quickly reaches in and pulls out a little wooden box.
I snatch the box from her and hear a rattle inside. There doesn’t seem to be a hinge or an opening. It appears to be two pieces of wood magically joined together by triangular teeth. The box measures about two inches square and one inch thick with a religious cross chiseled into the lid.
Deanna immediately identifies it as a puzzle box, then declares, “I think you’re supposed to give it a whack.” I figure she’ joking, so I hand her the box. She takes a moment to inspect it, then with a WHACK she slides the box open.
Frankly, the box alone blows my mind. There is a metal ball that engages a magnet and binds the box closed. Take a whack at it, and the ball shifts to another magnet allowing you to slide the box open. It’s pretty ingenious.
More exciting than the box, is the contents. Deanna joyfully inspects a shiny silver necklace with an angled cross charm dangling from it. The cross is unlike a normal cross, but it isn’t a sinister upside-down cross either. It hangs at a tilt, almost like an italicized lowercase t.
Deanna immediately exclaims, “It’s a Portate cross!”
My head rattles, “What the hell is a Portate cross?”
“A Portate Cross is a wooden cross that the accused drags over their shoulder to the crucifixion site. As you watch the accused drag this cross, it is at an angle, or portate.”
I’m literally taken aback. I don’t know why she knows that. I don’t know how she knows how to open the box. I look to her for answers. She smiles coyly at my bewilderment and seems pleased with herself.
I take a closer look at the cross. The necklace looks well-made and could possibly be white gold. I wonder aloud if the cross could pay for our renovation. Deanna scoffs at this notion. I roll my eyes; as if she knows everything.
She snatches the treasure out of my hands and walks off with it.
[I ended up making two VLOGS out of the renovation. You can see them here:]
Our story, “If You Don’t Believe, You Have Nothing To Fear” by Vince Rocca, will continue in just a moment.
And you can see the photos and vlogs that Vince is referring to by following along with the story in the episode’s transcript on the Weird Darkness website. There’s a direct link to the blog post in the show notes so you can easily find it. I’ll be back shortly with more Weird Darkness.
3 WEEKS before Night #1
Thursday September 12, 2019
Eleven months have passed. The year was good but nothing too remarkable happened. I spent most of my time editing back-to-back TV shows. We did manage to take a quick trip to Florida for a veterinary conference. I was able to eke out a single VLOG from that trip on Gatorland. Over the next few months I cranked out a few more Daily VLOGS and How To videos, but I stalled around May and spent my Summer hanging out with Deanna, floating around our pool.
I came across that wooden box; it had fallen behind some shoes in the back of our closet. I took both the cross and the box to a pawnshop for appraisal. The shop clerk confirmed that Deanna is right, it ain’t white gold.
The guy identified the box as an Impossible Dovetail Puzzle Box. Apparently it’s a pretty common puzzle, but Deanna has never been the puzzle type, so I still don’t know how she knows its secret.
Tonight, while eating dinner, Deanna recounts the events of her day. I look down at her chest and see the Portate cross around her neck. I ask, “What’s with that?” sparking a religious debate.
Now might be a good time to mention that we’re both atheists, or at least, I thought we both were. I should also clarify — as there is often judgment when I say I’m an atheist — I don’t worship the devil, and I don’t hate God. I just don’t believe in either God or the devil for that matter. I also don’t believe in ghosts, goblins, spirits — none of that stuff. I have nothing to fear. I sleep soundly at night.
Have you ever noticed that the devil only attacks the God-fearing folk? I’ve never heard of an atheist being haunted. I don’t have anything against those who subscribe to religion, but if you believe in one, you fear the other; and that fear is what gets you. If you don’t believe, there is nothing to hurt you, so you’re safe, and you’ve got nothing to fear.
Anyway, I find it odd that Deanna, whom I’ve known my entire life, is wearing a trinket that epitomizes religion. Her defense is, “I think it’s nice,” so I guess what harm could it do?
As the night sets in, I leave Deanna home alone while I venture off to a filmmaking mixer. I go to a couple of these a month. Some are educational events about new technologies; others are just drinks and chats. Tonight’s event is the drinking kind.
At tonight’s mixer, I meet Christina. She’s an attractive 24-year-old Hispanic girl who is a fan of my VLOG and an aspiring Assistant Editor.
Assistant Editor types tend to be introverted, dorky by-the-numbers nerds. Add booze, and they can be very unique. Christina is just that, dorky and tipsy. We immediately hit it off. I mean, she is a fan of my VLOG, and I tend to like people who like me, because obviously they have great taste.
Back at home, Deanna isn’t having as much fun. She wakes from a nap on the living room couch to the sounds of whispers coming from the kitchen. Frightened, she flips on her phone camera video light and proceeds to investigate. Slowly, she tiptoes across the dining room, as the whispers increase in volume. She can see through the dark kitchen into the game room on the other side. The dim moonlight illuminates something in the doorway. She can barely make it out, then it becomes clear: on the other side of the kitchen, in our game room, stands the silhouette of a person swaying in the dark. Startled, Deanna flicks on the light, and it disappears.
Unnerved, she turns on all the lights in the house and double checks to ensure the security alarm is set. It is armed and shows no faults. Realizing she has succumbed to an overactive imagination, she makes an attempt to VLOG in the kitchen while she prepares some comfort food. She removes a bowl from the cabinet and turns back toward the camera to pour in cereal. Behind her the cabinet drifts open and a cup falls out, plummets to the ground and shatters.
Our cupboards have magnetic closures because 50-year-old cabinets have weak hinges that tend to drift open. In addition, Deanna often double stacks the coffee cups in an unstable manner. We both assumed this combo led to the broken cup.
But now, when I look back at the footage, it clearly looks like the cabinet door is completely closed with the magnet engaged. The door then pops open on its own, and the cup doesn’t fall out, but flies out, almost like it’s thrown.
Startled, Deanna laughs off the broken cup. She acknowledges for the VLOG audience that it is probably from double stacking the cups. She sweeps up the shards of ceramic and takes them out back to the trash. She even VLOGS the whole adventure.
As she approaches the trash bins, she freezes and turns toward the pool, straining to listen. She turns back, then to the pool again. Blood drains from her cheeks, out of nowhere with a sudden burst, she runs back to the house. She trips and falls. Her phone camera goes black as it flies through the night air, then slides across the pavement before coming to a dead stop.
The phone picks up her distant whimper as she repeats, “Oh my toe, oh my toe.” She comes into view hovering over the camera and reaches down to pick it up. The phone is still recording and shows glimpses of her foot as she limps. Her right big toe is messed up pretty bad.
I mentioned before that Deanna is an animal nurse. Her primary job is at the zoo, but sometimes she is needed in the field for freelance clients. Because of this she has a toolbox of stuff at home, which consists of various drugs, medicine, and needles.
I could have never done this, but Deanna possesses a courage that puts me to shame. She draws up a syringe of Lidocaine and shoots it into her toe to numb it. She even VLOGS the whole thing.
She actually films a massive three-inch needle as she stabs it into her foot. Three INCHES! I asked why the needle was so big, she said she had a surplus of them and didn’t want to waste a smaller needle in case she needed one for an animal injection. Bless her heart, her toe is mangled, she’s in pain, and she still puts the critters before herself.
The video shows Deanna inject herself in three places. She then taps her toe to confirm numbness. Once satisfied, she takes a pair tweezers and gives the nail a gentle pull. It breaks away like the separation of Velcro. She pulls her nail completely off her toe exposing a bloody mess of skin underneath. This is disgusting, and I have no idea how she did it.
What happens next is the icing on the cake. Deanna settles down on the living room couch to VLOG a summary of the evening. She explains to the camera that she’s freaked out, but she is just going to watch TV while she waits for me to arrive. She leans forward to grab the television remote off the ottoman. When she falls back into the couch, there’s a woman sitting next to her. Deanna screams, jumps to her feet, and staggers away from the couch. She turns toward the woman: nothing is there. Startled, the dogs wander in confusion, trying to figure out what’s going on.
I arrive home to a brightly lit house. She gives me the rundown, illustrating with videos. I laugh incredulously as I watch a video of our game room. She claims a dark figure stood in the doorway. I see nothing. She also claims a ghost sat next to her on the couch. I play the video back and watch her scream like a lunatic for no reason. It’s silly.
She’s angry that I don’t believe her. To placate her, I stifle my laughter, listen, and nod. I don’t believe in ghosts. But if you tell me you saw a ghost, I do believe that you believe that you saw a ghost. I just never thought Deanna would be the one telling me she saw a ghost, or how she describes it, “A shadowy figure that glows in a ghostly fashion with steam rising softly from her body.”
* * * * * * * * * *
Friday September 13th, 2019
I regularly journal. The inspiration came from a Robert Rodriguez book, which ultimately led me to write the filmmaking book “Rebel without a Deal.” If you’re interested, it’s available on Amazon, not that this is a sales pitch. The book’s subject matter has nothing to do with the events I’m recounting here; I only mention this so you don’t judge me as a sissy for keeping a diary.
In celebration of Friday the 13th, I decide to digitally insert a ghost into Deanna’s couch video as a fun VLOG treat.
I called Christina from last night’s networking event. She lives nearby and I know she is between gigs. She comes over, and I film her on the couch acting like a ghost. I edit her in to Deanna’s couch video and I even make her transparent with a ghostly mist.
After Deanna gets home from work and settles in, I show her my creation, expecting to get a laugh of approval. I totally misread the situation though.
Deanna is still pissed that I don’t believe she saw a ghost. I don’t understand why. I mean, there is video footage showing nothing there. She insists that I should believe that there was a shadowy figure of a legless woman sitting right next to her. I chuckle again at the thought of a legless woman, responding with, “She would be easy to run from.”
Deanna retaliates and accuses me of something with Christina. This is absurd. So what if Christina is cute? I’ve been with Deanna for 30 years, and there’s no reason not to trust me. Besides, I think Christina might be slow.
As I mentioned before, Assistant Editor’s are unique. Some people might define them as being on the autistic spectrum. Well, Christina seems to fit that bill. What I had mistaken for inebriated behavior turns out to be “special” behavior. I’m not sure if Deanna believes me, but in hindsight, she might be thinking that she’s been with me for 30 years so there’s no reason for me not to believe her.
* * * * * * * * * *
Saturday September 14, 2019
After 10 years, the ceiling fan in our bedroom finally made its last revolution. Michael came over to help me swap the fan out and film the installation of a new one.
Michael is my best friend. He’s been in the VLOG before and regularly does the podcast “GetConVinced” with me. He is a teacher of special needs kids but is best described as a Jesus look-a-like.
Michael is outside the French door gathering tools when Deanna enters the room. She broke the chain on the Portate cross and asked me to fix it. I tell her to throw the necklace out. This sets her off.
She now claims she isn’t an atheist. She says she was always unsure and only identified as one to appease me. I have no clue where this came from. We’ve been together our whole lives. There has never been any indication that she believed, or that I would judge her for believing.
Michael reenters the room and cuts our conversation short.
[YouTube enables you to upload a video today and set the premiere for a later date and time. This allows me to finish a video (of our ceiling fan installation) in the middle of the night and upload the file, but not notify viewers of it at two-thirty in the morning when they are probably asleep. I set this video to premiere on Sunday, September 22 to start the week, but later I discovered that I mistakenly chose October 22 instead. I understand if you’re asking, What does a ceiling fan have to do with this story? Unfortunately, that will make sense soon.] How To Replace and Install a Ceiling Fan
* * * * * * * * * *
Saturday September 21, 2019
The pool is 98 degrees, and it’s a warm, sunny California day. So before winter sets in, we’re having people over for an end-of-summer BBQ.
To my delight, Deanna’s friend Amy brought her 18-year-old daughter Jenna and three of Jenna’s girlfriends to the BBQ. These bikini clad hotties frolic around the pool and really bring on the sorority vibe. Not that I’m complaining, as it’s a fine sight to see.
I show a group of our friends the ghost I comped into Deanna’s couch footage, and they laugh. Deanna seems to have lightened up and recognizes the humor in the video. I think she might be okay with me using the footage in a VLOG.
My buddy, Marty proposes the idea that we have a seance tonight. He is a hardcore Metal Head and a die-hard Horror movie geek. He even owns a company, PlayItByFear.com that sells horror paraphernalia. So it’s no surprise to any of us that he suggests a seance. He assures us it is safe and fun. Deanna recoils at the idea, but Amy is onboard, stifling any objection Deanna might have had.
As the festivities wind down and the younger girls leave, we move the party into the house. I set up four cameras around the living room and have my phone attached to my three-axis gimbal. Everybody seems up for the seance, even Deanna, but Tom is totally against it.
Tom is a stand-up comedian and an actor. In 2003 I cast him in my first movie, Kisses and Caroms. He has been on numerous TV shows and most recently in the Progressive Motaur commercial. Tom loves to joke, so I’m not sure if this anti-seance stance is just a routine.
Also, Tom lost his father a few years ago, and later, when Tom was under anesthesia for an operation, he claimed his dad visited him. So Tom’s spiritual beliefs may have fluctuated recently.
Tom and Amy get into a bit of a back-and-forth debating God, ghosts, and religion. I don’t know if I’d call it an argument, but it is a bit heated. Just as Amy is gaining ground on Tom, Deanna shushes everyone. She hears something. I hear it too. It’s a whisper.
Being the man of the house, I get up to investigate. I creep down the hall toward the whisper. I can almost make the hushed noise out…“I like your…” is what the words sound like. I realize that everyone else stayed seated in the living room and I have no one backing me up. I’m alone in the hall. My heart is hammering out of my chest. Still, I press on down the dark corridor. The light switch is on the opposite end from me. Even if I could reach it, I don’t know if I would turn it on, for fear of seeming like a wimp in front of everyone.
The end of the hall splits in three directions. To the left is another hall that leads to our other bedrooms/home offices. Straight ahead is a guest bath, and to the right is a second doorway to the game room.
I freeze a few feet shy of this junction. The light switch is still a good foot out of reach. I again hear the whisper coming from the left hall. I can make the words out now. It whispers, “I like your dogs.” I white knuckle my gimbal. Everyone in the living room is silent. Everything is silent as I listen intently. Then with a sudden, “Boo!”, Bill jumps out from the right side and scares the crap out of me.
I ain’t gonna lie — I was frightened and momentarily believed Deanna’s story. In retrospect, I feel bad for teasing her, because my mind quickly entered a heightened state, and I was in a house filled by people. I can only imagine how she felt alone in the dark. Still, there turned out to be a logical explanation, and it was Bill.
Bill is our neighbor. He’s also an actor most famously from Comedy Central’s “Workaholics”. Those who are fans of the show will be delighted to know that in real life, Bill is very similar to his character on “Workaholics”. He’s strange, but he also seems to get the joke. Bill is the kind of guy in a horror movie that the girl mistakes as a creep, but turns out to be the nice guy trying to help her.
After scaring the crap out of me, Bill graces us with a story. He claims that one night before we moved in, he heard noises coming from our house. He looked over the wall and saw a bunch of cops. He overheard one officer say that the guy who lived in my house, Jose, shot his wife, Patricia, in the kneecaps, then hung himself.
Bill explains Jose shot her in the knees so her hobble would always remind her of that day, but instead, Patricia bled out and died.
In the moment, I play along with the story. It’s fun and it’s freaking Deanna out. Tom seems to buy into it too, asking me how I didn’t know this when I bought the house. I quickly pass that off by explaining, the house was a bank repossession, and the bank doesn’t have to disclose anything; you buy the house as-is.
Truth is, I’m not buying Bill’s story at all. For one, how would the police know the reason Patricia was shot in the kneecaps? If they arrived before she died, would that really be her last words? Most likely, Bill is playing off Deanna’s ghost video; he was in the mix when I showed it earlier while joking that a legless ghost would be easy to run from.
Bill also couldn’t remember the date. That seems like a pretty traumatic thing that would remain etched in your brain. Granted we’ve been in this house for 10 years, so if this happened, it happened over a decade ago, but these were Bill’s nextdoor neighbors that he knew by name. So I’m not buying his story.
Monday September 23, 2019
[I finish the vlog of Deanna’s couch ghost and upload it. Since this VLOG is in the Halloween spirit, I set the premiere date for October 11th.]
Tuesday September 24, 2019
I decide to prank Deanna for a follow-up video. Over the last few days I’ve teased her with Bill’s story. I’ve been telling her the ghost of Patricia is haunting our house.
Tonight, I’m going to crank it up a notch. It’s one in the morning, and Deanna is sound asleep in our bedroom. I creep in and set up a couple of cameras and a small light. Next, I open the French door. The fall temperature is about 60 degrees outside, which is a good 15 degrees cooler than the house, providing just enough of a chill to be eerie.
I slide into bed and Deanna rolls over toward me, but doesn’t open her eyes. I poke her head to wake her up. She groggily asks, “Why’d you open the door?”
“I didn’t open the door, did you open the door?”
“No, I was sleeping.”
“I was sleeping too. I woke up and the door was open.”
Deanna is now at full attention, trying to suss out the situation. I rev-up my breathing into a labored pace. We both gaze at the open door waiting for something to happen then, “Boo!” She jumps, I laugh.
Deanna rolls away mad, but I’m not finished yet. I impersonate a decrepit woman’s voice to scare her even more. I groan, “I’m coming for you, Deanna.”
She winces and begs, “Don’t do that voice. It’s creepy. Stop.”
Slowly, I inch my finger toward her face. I can feel her squirm and twitch. I tap her cheek, and she explodes with a scream.
I antagonize her with a belly laugh, but my celebration is stopped short by a knock at the front door. I’m confused because the driveway gate prevents people from getting to our front door. Deanna sits up, as I quickly lock the French door. My phone is already recording and rather than fumble with its light I grab a flashlight off my end table.
Deanna cowers into the comforter as I proceed toward the foyer. I peek around the corner into the hall. To my shock, the front door is wide open. “Hello?” I muster. “Hello?” No response. My heart tightens at the thought of someone in the house. I don’t want to step any further in fear that a person is hiding around the corner in the living room with an axe. I contemplate grabbing Deanna and escaping out the French door. I don’t know what to do. The silence is broken by the “thwock” of a ball as it bounces in through the door. I jump back. My throat knots up. Who the hell threw that? What the hell is going on? I’m petrified. I can’t take my eyes off the door.
Our dog, Pismo darts in and grabs the ball. I literally feel my throat fall to the floor and I almost collapse, but I regain my composure to put on a confident front for Deanna. Pismo doesn’t seem bothered, so there can’t be any danger, right? I mean, dogs are supposed to have a sixth sense about this stuff. At least that is what every movie depicts. I push the front door closed, secure the deadbolt and set the alarm.
I figure Pismo got out through the French door, ran around, found her ball, and pushed open the front door. Our front door is 50 years old and never had a traditional latch. Instead, the door uses a ball catch latch, which is a ball bearing that can be easily pushed open or closed.
Wednesday September 25, 2019
[I cut together last night’s prank video. The addition of some music and sound effects really sweeten it up. I’m able to pitch shift my creepy woman’s voice to sell the scare. I think it turns out pretty well. Changes with YouTube algorithms have caused video views to suffer, so I decide to premiere this one a couple weeks after the last video. That will put this closer to Halloween and give the last one a chance to rack up some eyeballs.] Halloween Prank Daily VLOG 133
* * * * * * * * * *
Friday September 27, 2019
I take the dogs for a walk, and standing in my driveway is Christina. I didn’t call her, but I ask how long she’s been here? She never breaks focus on the dogs, and responds, “not long.” I suppose it’s possible she just arrived as I walked out.
Today, her intellect really shows. She riles up the dogs yelling, “Chase me, chase me. Come on,” and keeps skipping in front of them. She acts like a child. I feel bad. She’s a sweet girl and means no harm but she is odd and annoying too.
Tuesday October 1, 2019
Sixteen security cameras and two DVRs were delivered today. Deanna has been against outfitting the house with cameras. She feels like they will be watching her. I think they’ll be great to watch the dogs and capture any spontaneous silliness that might occur to make for a good VLOG video. Plus they’re a good way to combat potential stalkers like Christina.
* * * * * * * * * *
Thursday October 3, 2019
Today I finished the security camera install. When Deanna gets home, I show off the cameras to her. She’s not pleased. I anticipated this, so I present her with the repaired Portate cross. I came across the broken necklace while I was running wires. One of the chain loops had split so I gave it a quick mend. This turned out to be just what I needed to soften her stance on the cameras.
Later that the night, I pass out on the couch. I’m sound asleep when something slides down my forehead between my eyes and onto my nose. It feels like a feather caressing my skin, but then it settles on the bridge with pressure. It comes into focus. It’s a long, dirty, brittle fingernail. The rough frayed edges press harder digging into the bridge. I begin to feel the collapse of my septum. The pressure causes the nail to bow, then snap, the nail breaks off. My eyes pop, I see her hovering over me, I fly off the couch and almost hit the ceiling.
Deanna laughs, “I bet you’re glad we have video cameras now!”
I’m disorientated; I expected to see the owner of the dirty nail, but I quickly conclude what transpired. It was Deanna dangling a plastic spider on my face. The finger was a dream.
“Funny. Ha ha,” I groggily reply. “You wanna step up the game? It’s on now.”
Deanna laughs it off as she heads to the bedroom.
This is the night Deanna’s leg is first pulled, and the door slammed. I recounted that event at the beginning of this story and see no reason to copy and paste it here.
After the door slam, I try to explain to Deanna that the wind blew it shut, but she doesn’t believe me. She rocks in bed and begins to pray. I’ve never seen her pray. I know as a kid she attended a private Christian school, but I understood that was because her mom taught at that school. This meant Deanna got to go for free and her mom could watch over her. I didn’t realize the prayer had stuck.
I finally set Deanna at ease by getting into bed with her to watch Friends with the lights on. At some point, she nods off. Around 3 a.m. I turn the volume down and close my eyes.
Friday October 4, 2019
Deanna is about to leave for work. Normally, I would sleep later in the morning, but I want to touch base about last night. We briefly chat in the kitchen over coffee. She appears fine and seems to realize that last night was silly. I joke that she needs more Sexy Time. She responds, “Sexy Time tonight?” It’s a date.
After Deanna leaves, I pull up the security camera footage on the computer to review last night. I also watch her spider prank. It’s pretty good. I fly off the couch like a scaredy-cat. After getting a good laugh at myself, I take off to meet Tom for lunch.
I chat with Tom about his beliefs, and what Deanna might believe. I postulate, can an atheist and a zealot be married? Isn’t it like a vegan and a meat-eater? They’re too fundamentally different to be together. Tom insists vegans and meat-eaters can be together and I shouldn’t compare them. He concludes with the revelation that I’m a knucklehead.
I begin to wonder. Deanna’s one of the smartest people I know. She even made the Dean’s List in college. Maybe I am wrong? Maybe there is a God. I don’t verbalize these notions to Tom, because I think he’ll eat them up.
Deanna gets home from work early for date night. We split a pizza and a bottle of Pinot Grigio. She really pounds the wine like water. After dinner, she leads me into our bedroom. I’m able to gauge that she isn’t really that drunk. She’s just drunk enough to do a bit of a cabaret dance, but not so drunk that she falls over. After her dance, she charges me and tackles me onto our waterbed.
I’ve got my hands all over her, as we kiss and make out. Suddenly, she loses interest in me and looks to the door like something is there. I try to get her to refocus on me. She’s receptive, but a moment later she looses interest again.
I explain it’s just the dogs, and regain her attention. A moment later, I hear something too. We both stop and gaze at the door. I can make out a whisper, or possibly a grumble — noises that can’t come from the dogs. I’m about to push Deanna’s half-naked body off me to investigate, when CRASH! The ceiling fan tumbles down on us.
Debris falls everywhere as we both scurry out of the way. I’m aghast. I know I securely mounted this thing to the ceiling. How could it fall? Deanna shushes me. “There’s something in this room. I can feel it,” she insists. Suddenly, she grabs her pillows and declares she is not sleeping in here and storms down the hall.
She spends the night in the spare bedroom, which is also her office. I throw the fan off the waterbed and momentarily consider getting the ladder to inspect the ceiling, but decide I’m too drunk for that. Instead, I fall back into bed and spend the night alone.
[I decide to assemble Deanna’s leg-pull footage into some previously unused VLOG footage. Some days I start to VLOG and don’t finish. Some days, only one interesting thing happens, but it’s only a small bit that doesn’t end up anywhere. I’m now going back to assemble those stray bits into what I think will be an awesome Halloween VLOG that can end with Deanna’s leg pull.]
I’ll be back with more of “If You Don’t Believe, You Have Nothing To Fear” by Vince Rocca, in a couple of minutes. And if you want to see the photos or vlogs Vince refers to in the story, you can find them in the transcript of this episode which I’ve linked to in the show notes. Weird Darkness returns in just a moment.
Tuesday October 8, 2019
As I return home from walking Tica and Pismo, a high pitch voice yells my name. I turn, and there she is, filled with cheer. Christina skips her way to me and begs to play with the dogs. Her big brown eyes are sadder than my Labradors. The pups seem to love her, so I cave.
Deanna arrives home from work and is disappointed when the dogs aren’t there to greet her at the door. It gets worse when she discovers it’s because they’re playing with Christina on our patio.
I try to reason with Deanna, “What am I supposed to do? She followed us home on the dog walk again.”
“Well, how would you like it if some challenged guy followed me home?”
“Does he have, like super special strength or something?” I get side-eyed at this and go on to explain, “I don’t want to be mean because she’s special.”
“She’s also very pretty.”
“So she’s pretty special!” I joke. Deanna is not amused.
I have a talk with Christina to tell her she can’t come over anymore. I tell her no more dog walks. “Why?” she pleads. I explain that she doesn’t have a dog, so it’s like she is just walking with me. She seems to understand. She even utters the words, “I crossed a line.”
Back in the house I find Deanna in her office. She tells me she wants to get a gun. I’m like, What? First religion, now guns; she really has swung right.
I’m not anti-gun, we’ve just never felt a need to own one. I have an alarm on the house, a nice fence, two barking dogs, and 16 security cameras. That should scare any intruder away. If someone gets past that, and I need to pull a gun, then that intruder is probably intent on killing me and has already formulated a plan that they will most likely succeed with.
Let’s face it. I know this is a sad thought, but if someone wants to kill you, they will. A gun will do you no good. I’m not afraid of guns. We’ve fired guns before, but I always felt that if I don’t buy one, then that’s one less gun in the world. But now Deanna is talking all kinds of crazy.
I veer the subject away from guns and try to convince her to sleep in our bedroom tonight. The last four nights she’s slept on the couch in her office. Instead, she convinces me to sleep on the pull-out couch in here with her. I agree, figuring this will blow over in a day or two.
That night, I get into bed, and Deanna reads a Bible verse. I kid you not, she has a Bible in hand and reads, “Keep this book of the law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:08.”
I’m like, “Where did you get a Bible?” She says she found the book out back and thinks it’s Christina’s. I don’t really want to have the Christina conversation, nor do I want to have a biblical conversation, so I just let it pass. We exchange good night kisses and go to sleep.
Wednesday October 9, 2019
As I write today’s journal, I pull up the security footage from last night to transcribe Deanna’s Bible quote correctly.
I open files, hunting for the right one. I notice the door is closed in some videos and open in others. I narrow it down to the last clip with an open door. As the clip plays the door slowly closes for no apparent reason. Next, to my horror, the sheets around Deanna’s feet flutter, then with a quick whoosh they blow off her. Deanna kicks. She sits up, gets out of bed, kneels and prays over me. I click through a bunch of clips and find that she prayed for over an hour before finally getting back into bed.
When Deanna gets home from work, I show her the clip of her praying. She’s frightened by it and starts to sob. She begs to know if she’s ever done that before. I tell her I don’t know and that there’s a ton of footage to sift through. I decide, maybe mistakenly, to not show her the door close and the sheet flutter. I worry it will only scare her more.
That night, she pops sleeping pills before bed. Her rationale is that they’ll put her into a deep sleep; this way, she won’t be able to get up and pray.
After struggling to fall asleep myself, I finally nod off, only to be woken by a door slam. I spring up and turn to the closed door. I’m sure it was open when we went to bed. Deanna is still sound asleep and doesn’t move. I climb out the foot of the bed and slowly creep my way to the door. I kneel down to peek through the threshold crack to see if someone is on the other side. I can’t make anything out. I stand up and reach for the knob. The door opens on its own. I stop to consider that maybe the latch didn’t catch from the slam. Sometimes doors do that, right? I peek out through the open crack, half-expecting to see someone standing there. There isn’t.
I tiptoe out and turn on the hall light. I peer into my office and flip on that light. It’s clear. A noise emits from the hall. I follow it, but it subsides. Again I hear something; this time from the game room. I flick on that light and scan the room. Nothing. I canvass the house room-by-room; everything is clear. I find the dogs asleep in our bedroom. They seem safe and happy in there. Why doesn’t Deanna? I double-check the alarm and make sure the front door is locked. The house is secure. I head back to Deanna’s office. She’s still sound asleep. I examine the door. It swings freely and appears to be fine. I can’t find any reason it would slam. I leave the hall light on and climb back into bed.
Thursday October 10, 2019
I pull up the security footage from last night and see the sheets flutter again. This time Deanna’s body sorta jolts like she got an electrical zap. A moment later she is pulled into the bed or possibly pushed. I notice something in the hall. There seems to be a figure moving on the far wall, but I can’t focus on it. When I play the footage back slowly, I don’t see anything, but at regular speed, something is there. I let the video play, and suddenly a shadow sweeps across the door. This one is easy to see, even as a still frame. A moment later, the door slams.
I scan through the rest of last night’s footage, but see nothing else. I don’t know how to process this. My mind oscillates between reason and what I’m seeing. Who do I show the video to? The police? The news? My friends? People will assume I faked this. I certainly can’t show Deanna. She’ll flip out.
I decide it’s best to first build a case. I need a substantial amount of undeniable proof before I show this stuff around. I have 16 cameras running 24 hours a day for 7 days, which is 2,688 hours of footage to comb through. That’s an impossible amount for me to tackle. I decide to back up the last 7 days of surveillance footage to another drive. I turn to my journals and figure I can compile a record of any unusual events. I can use these records to narrow down which surveillance files might be worth examining.
Michael arrives and interrupts my hunt. He’s here to test out my gimbal. He played with it a bit at the BBQ, and now he’s considering purchasing one. I contemplate showing him the footage; surely he’ll believe me, but then, shouldn’t I have believed Deanna?
First, I test the waters and ask if he believes in God. He doesn’t. He says he’s unconvinced. I expected this, as we had this conversation years ago, and since that time, neither of us has been particularly religious. However, Michael became an online ordained reverend and has performed a few wedding ceremonies for his friends; thus, I wasn’t sure if his views changed.
He did say he thought God was an “unfalsifiable hypothesis,” and compared him to Santa Claus. I don’t know what that means, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to show him the footage yet – at least not until I get a better understanding of how to explain things.
We head out to the parking lot so he can run around with the gimbal and test its smoothness. The gardener’s truck is there, and I can hear Juan’s blower polluting the air with noise. Thankfully, we aren’t testing any audio equipment.
Michael runs through the open gate toward the pool. He goes around the pool and onto our wooden deck, which overlooks the dry Los Angeles River below. He yells for me, “Come quick, the gardener has fallen off the deck!” Alarmed, I sprint.
Michael is already at the bottom of the hill by the time I begin my descent. The wooden deck rail is broken and partially hanging off. It’s probably a fifteen-foot fall to where Juan has landed. I climb down to find Juan unconscious on his back. He might have hit his head on a paver stone, but there’s no blood.
I grab Juan’s chest and shake him. I think he’s alive. I hope he’s alive. I need him to be alive. I realize I ran down with my iced coffee in hand. I quickly pop the lid off and throw it in Juan’s face. The coffee flows up his nose, causing him to choke to consciousness. I grab his head to cradle him and finally exhale a sigh of relief.
After a few minutes, Juan sits up. Michael runs to fetch him water while I stay behind. His English is broken, but he explains he was blowing the deck when he leaned back and fell. He blames himself. I’m confused, as the deck has plenty of nails holding it together. It’s never been flimsy before. I offer to take him to the hospital; he refuses. I offer again; he says to call his brother. I take his phone and call.
He speaks to his brother in Spanish. It sounds like they argue. Juan hangs up. I ask if everything is okay; he nods, then stands up, but quickly gets woozy and slumps back down. I catch him and ease him back to the dirt. He laughs embarrassingly. Michael gets back with water and Gatorade. Juan drinks up and rests. We sit and rehash the events that just transpired, as if we’re telling old war stories.
After a while, Juan stands again. He’s fine now. He stretches. Michael and I exchange looks. Should we take him to the hospital? At that moment, his brother, Cruz, appears at the top of the deck, looking down. Spanish is exchanged again, along with a chuckle. Juan translates. He says Cruz is asking why he broke the deck and says Juan will have to pay for it. I shake my head no and assure them everything is fine. Cruz chuckles; it seems like it was just fun brotherly harassment.
We get Juan back to his truck. Both he and his brother insist everything is okay. They will be okay. Surprisingly, Juan does look okay. I tell them both to call me if they need anything and they leave.
Michael and I go back to the deck to marvel at how Juan could take a fall like that and live. We also ponder how big a lawsuit this could be if he’d died.
Later, I recount the events for Deanna. She’s blown away. I offhandedly remark, “Thank God he’s going to be okay.”
Surprisingly, Deanna retorts, “Wouldn’t God have saved him?”
I’m confused. I thought she was all “God power,” but tonight she goes on to claim that she never really believed there was a God. I decide it’s best not to indulge this conversation now.
Deanna is on edge all night. I put on Friends. The show always seems to cheer her up. Tonight, it doesn’t. I know she’s angry, but I can’t actually point to a single thing, and if I do, it’ll just spark a fight, which it seems is what she wants.
We sleep in her office again. I get the cold shoulder, as she rolls away from me without so much as a kiss. I wish her good night, and she does reciprocate, so maybe all isn’t lost.
I lie there awake and listen to the silence. I focus on Deanna. The gentle rise and fall of her back, up and down, up and down; she is out. I contemplate staying up all night to comb through the security footage. I think about the shadow. I keep watching the door, wondering if it will appear. I think about Juan. I hope he’s okay. At some point I nod off, but suddenly I’m jarred awake. Deanna gasps for air as if she just broke free from drowning.
I’m dazed. My eyes are heavy and won’t open. Is this a dream? Is everything a dream? I ask if she’s okay, but I’m also not sure if asking is a dream. I manage to pry open my eyes. My head clears as I see Deanna exit the room. She hobbles like Frankenstein’s monster. I get up to follow her. I call out her name. She doesn’t answer. I’m getting creeped out.
I follow her into the dark hall and switch on the light. She hobbles down the hall toward the foyer. I wave my hand in front of her with no reaction. Her eyes are open, but she doesn’t see me. She is sleepwalking.
I have never seen this in my life. I always thought this was a Hollywood gimmick, but here she is hobbling around the house, eyes open and unconscious. I stay near her in case she falls or collapses. I wonder, do sleepwalkers collapse?
Deanna approaches the alarm panel and keys in the disarm code. Maybe she’s messing with me? Sleepwalking is one thing, but how is she conscious enough to key in the code? She turns and hobbles back down the hall. I reset the alarm, then follow her.
She heads to the game room sliding glass door. I grab the door handle to stop her from opening the slider. She hobbles right into the glass. Not hard. Not like she could break it. It’s a slow hobble into the door, as if she was going to pass through it, but instead the glass blocks her. She tries repeatedly like a wind up toy banging her head on the door with a light thud.
I always heard you shouldn’t mess with a sleepwalker, but I place my hand between her head and the glass. I reach for her shoulder and nudge her. She is receptive to my guidance. I lead her back to her office.
I get her to sit on the bed and lean her over to lie down. I gather the covers, when suddenly she wakes. She screams! I scream and jump back. At that moment the alarm sounds. I look at Deanna; she’s confused. I’m confused. The alarm is blaring. I head out of the room to the alarm panel. I key in the disarm code. The display shows Game Room Slider as the fault.
I rush back to the game room, and the slider is open a good three feet! I get angry. I don’t know why. I’m mad the door is open, since it shouldn’t be. I close the slider and make sure it’s locked. I turn on all the lights in the house and reset the alarm. I canvass the house, room by room, and I look in each closet. The dogs hibernate in our bedroom; they don’t seem to want to leave that room.
I find nothing. Deanna falls back to sleep. I stay up and watch Friends all night. When the sun rises, I finally pass out.
* * * * * * * * * *
THE DAY AFTER
Friday October 11, 2019
I wake up around noon. Deanna is home. I guess she skipped work. I head into my office to watch last night’s footage. I speed past Deanna sleepwalking and go to the game room slider. I’m aghast. The door just floats open on its own. I can’t explain it.
Deanna watches over my shoulder. She’s still angry, I think. She seems stiff, almost robotic. She’s more concerned with her sleepwalking than the slider and wants me to go back to that footage. I continue to examine the slider though. I just can’t figure this out.
I hear a noise coming from the game room. Deanna hears it too. We proceed to investigate. I peer into the game room. The noise comes from outside the slider. It’s Christina playing with the dogs on the patio. Now Deanna is definitely pissed. Suddenly, I’m pissed too.
Deanna storms out onto the patio, grabs up Tica and leads Pismo into the house. There’s a third dog on the patio, a little Chihuahua that I’ve never seen before.
Groggy, confused, and mad, I yell at Christina. She claims I told her if she got a dog, she could come over, so she got one. I tell her she’s trespassing, that we have cameras, that she has to go. She scoops up the little dog and storms off, crying. I feel really bad, but what alternative do I have?
I go back inside and catch Deanna in her office with a gun. She sees me coming and quickly sits on it in an attempt to conceal the weapon. I go for it, and we struggle. She puts up a fight, but I’m determined. I yank the gun out from under her.
“Where the hell did you get a gun?” I demand.
“I bought it.”
“You brought a gun into our house?!”
“We need protection from crazy fans and doors opening up in the middle of the night. I don’t know, maybe it was her, maybe she opened the door?”
I release the clip. The gun is loaded.
She quips, “The safety is on.”
I explain if she wants to have a gun, then we need to learn how to use it properly.
I’m not happy about the gun. This is something we should have discussed and decided on together. She could argue that about me and the security cameras. I’m pretty sure they’re not in the same league, but I feel like it’s the least of my problems. The gun is already here, now I need to mitigate it, and that starts with lessons.
Saturday October 12, 2019
Today we meet our friend Wes at the shooting range. He is very proficient with guns and gives us the basic safety course. We shoot off a bunch of rounds. Deanna seems elated to be firing the gun. This isn’t the first time we’ve fired guns. Last time was when she was first hired at the zoo; we rented a gun at a range and shot targets. This was to prepare her for the dreadful day a dangerous animal might escape. Today she’s like a kid with a shiny new toy. Maybe the last time we shot was under bleaker circumstances, but why would this be a happier one? I don’t question her. I’m just happy to see her happy.
Sunday October 13, 2019
It’s a beautiful day. The pool is 88 degrees, the weather is about 78, which is nice, but it makes you want to stay under the water, allowing it to swallow you like a cozy blanket. We frolic in the pool, toss the ball for the dogs, and grill up some food. We even dine Italian aperitivo style with salami and wine, as we watch the sun set.
Monday October 14, 2019
I wake from my wine coma around 3 a.m. Deanna is not in bed with me. I call out for her, but she doesn’t answer. I get up and cautiously make my way through the house. Again noise emits from the game room. I follow the noise and find the slider open. Coming from outside is what sounds like a chisel hitting a rock.
I run back into Deanna’s office to grab my phone. I flip on the camera light and follow the chisel sounds. As I approach the pool, I hear the noise coming from the deck. Crap, the deck is still broken; what if Deanna fell off? I rush to the rail.
I peer over the broken deck and find Deanna at the bottom of the hill. She has a shovel in her hand and has dug several holes. I call out to her. She doesn’t react.
I hurry down the hill and ask her what she is doing. Gravely, her eyes pierce right through me. She laughs a deep, hushed, “Heh. Heh. Heh.” I feel my spine collapse.
I flip off the camera and gingerly approach her. She appears to be sleepwalking again. I reach for the shovel, and she lets it go without resistance. I set it down, then take her by the shoulders and guide her back to bed. She eases in and lies down with no problems. Thankfully, she doesn’t wake and scream at me.
Tuesday October 15, 2019
Deanna has no recollection of digging last night. She denies it and claims I’m messing with her. I show her the footage, and she insists it’s not real. I assure her the video is not fake. She begins clicking around and opening the backed up surveillance footage on the computer.
I decide that between Juan’s fall and Deanna’s digging that I should move a couple of the wireless security cameras down to the bottom of the hill.
While tackling the job, I pass by my office a few times to grab tools and occasionally I pop in to check the camera feed. I wonder when Deanna will come across the sheet flutter or the shadow footage. She remains focused on the computer, poking through clips. She stops me to ask a question. I’m expecting to have a conversation over the unexplainable footage, but instead she asks me about the file name.
I explain to her that I had turned off the ugly on-screen security date and file stamp that superimposes into the camera footage. I wanted a cleaner, timeless video file to use in VLOGS. On-screen stamps aren’t necessary anyway because the system names the recorded files with a timestamp. For example CH15-1014-010800_011059: CH15 is CHannel 15 or Camera 15, -1014 is October 14th, -010800_011059 is the recorded time from 1:08 a.m. to 1:10 and 59 seconds. The DVR breaks files into three-minute chunks.
Deanna has the footage from the ceiling fan fall and her praying open on the computer. She points out that both of these clips happened on different days, but in the same 010800_011059 time-slot.
I tease her about it being creepy and that we should have an exorcism at 1:08 a.m. I even invoke a Jim Carrey impression from Ace Ventura that we should “Exorcise the demons.” Deanna is against it, but I lose myself in what was suppose to be a light-hearted joke.
I sorta feel like I want to challenge faith. The shadow, the sheets, doors, cups, and Deanna’s moods, is there a reason for it? Is it real? I want proof or no proof. I’m in this weird borderline. I wonder if I give in to Deanna’s belief and commit that maybe we can finally put this stuff to rest.
I convince Deanna to stand at the foot of our waterbed at 1:08 a.m. She nervously holds the Portate cross charm from around her neck. I grab Christina’s Bible and prepare to chant.
Deanna begs me not to do this. She suggests we hire a priest.
I retort, “A virgin! This is not a job for a virgin! Look, I’ve seen The Exorcist like a hundred times. I have a Bible. I totally got this.”
I call for the ghost to move something, to do something, anything. Nothing happens, except Deanna gets woozy. I attribute it to her being dramatic. I demand the ghost move the door. Deanna claims something is there; I seize that moment and begin the chant from The Exorcist:
I cast you out, ghostly spirit!
In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ!
It is He who commands you!
Be gone from this house.
In the name of the Father. In the name of the Son.
In the name of the Holy Spirit.
It is the power of Christ that compels you.
I continue to chant, “It is the power of Christ that compels you!”
Suddenly Deanna’s arms fall to her sides, her palms open, fingers outstretch. She exhales a loud, guttural, “Get outta my house!” She collapses to the ground. I’m stunned.
I drop the Bible and rush to her. I’m frantic; she’s unresponsive. I shake her but she doesn’t move. I scramble to get my phone from the tripod to call for help. With a sudden loud, prolonged gasp for air, Deanna wakes with a deep inhale. Relieved, I grab for her, “Oh God. Oh thank God.”
* * * * * * * * * *
Wednesday October 16, 2019
I visit the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder office to do a property search. I’m able to print out a list of the previous owners of my house.
I immediately note on the list that the people who owned my house before me, the ones who were foreclosed on, have the last name Spottiswoode. That doesn’t sound Mexican at all, but I’m thankful it isn’t a generic John Smith. The name is unique enough that I figure I should be able to track them down on the Internet.
I force Deanna to sleep on the couch in my office. I want to be able to keep an eye on her while I search online. She doesn’t want to sleep on our waterbed and I don’t want to sleep in her office anymore. That leaves my office. The dogs even come in to sleep with us. I thought they preferred the master bedroom because that’s where they’ve always slept, but now I wonder if they were just avoiding Deanna’s office?
I search the Internet until 2:30 in the morning. The even sound of Deanna’s breathing fills the air. I haven’t heard any other noises, so I decide it’s time to crash. I tuck Deanna in on the couch, and toss a pillow on the floor in front of her; this way I can block her if she gets up to dig.
About a half an hour later, I wake to the blaring house alarm. Deanna is not on the couch. I call for her and get no answer. The dogs are still with me. I get up and scramble for a camera monopod to defend myself against an intruder. My phone rings. I already know it’s going to be the alarm company. I give them the verbal pass-code, and they tell me the alarm triggered because the wrong disarm code was entered. They’re concerned that someone might be in the house.
I make my way to the alarm panel, and explain that I had changed the disarm code recently and my wife didn’t know the new code. I key in the correct code and tell them all is fine and not to send the police. I hang up and go searching for Deanna. Naturally, I check the game room slider first and there she is, standing in front of the closed door. She’s sleepwalking again. I guide her back to my office couch.
Sunday October 20, 2019
Jackpot! I finally tracked down a work address and phone number for Mr. Steve Spottiswoode. I’m going to pay him a visit tomorrow.
Over the last several days, I’ve really been editing my journals to assemble a clear record of the events. I’ve been able to cross-reference emails with photo dates and times on my phone to reconstruct a clearer picture of what’s transpired.
I’ve also been backing up the security camera drives and gathering the footage on a timeline. Deanna is right; things seem to happen at eight after one in the morning. I still have a bunch of footage to sift through, but what I’ve seen so far makes me think I might be able to assemble all this into a comprehensive documentary.
Monday October 21, 2019
I’m out front of Steve Spottiswoode’s office. I set my phone to record and stick it in my shirt pocket allowing the camera lens to peek out. I want to make sure I record all of this so I don’t miss a word.
His assistant leads me into his office. It’s a pretty big one compared to the other offices around him. He sits behind a desk cluttered with papers and mail. He’s an average white guy in his sixties and kinda looks like actor Ted Danson, but with a soft possibly southern voice. Behind him are bookshelves with dusty youth baseball trophies and an obsolete encyclopedia book set. His jacket haphazardly hangs on a sconce. He types and rudely ignores me, not even acknowledging my presence until he strikes his last period key.
He turns and asks what he can do for me. I explain who I am and inquire about the house. I sense apprehension on his part; but a moment later, it seems that he realizes it’s been over 10 years and it no longer matters, so why not be forthcoming.
He reminds me how bad the economy was back in 2007. He owned the house and no one could afford the rent. Along came a guy, Joshua Juarez, who had cash. So what if he was illegal? His sister lived nearby and ran a catering business. She was willing to employ him, and they all seemed like nice people.
He tells me he spoke to the sister after the incident and between his conversations with the police and what he knew of Mr. Juarez, he put together that Juarez’s eldest daughter had killed her little brother back in Mexico. Mr. Juarez fled with his wife and two daughters to the United States and got work as a cook with his sister. Mr. Spottiswoode assures me he knew none of this when he rented the house to Joshua Juarez.
He goes on to explain that Joshua shot his wife, then hung himself off the deck. He said the eldest daughter disappeared and the youngest went to live with her aunt.
I ask if the mother was shot in the kneecaps. He looks at me strangely, like he’s wondering why would I ask such an odd question. He finally replies, “No, no one ever mentioned that.”
Tuesday October 22, 2019
I’ve scoured the Internet trying to find something on Joshua Juarez. Spottiswoode told me I wouldn’t be able to dig anything up. He said that it never made the news. They were so busy reporting on falling stocks and Golden Parachutes that no one cared about an immigrant murder-suicide. I remember back then; he’s right about the news. You couldn’t get away from the collapse. Still, I search and I’m surprised at how common a name Joshua Juarez is here in the United States.
Our story, “If You Don’t Believe, You Have Nothing To Fear” by Vince Rocca, will conclude in just a moment.
And again, you can see the photos and vlogs that Vince is referring to by following along with the story in the episode’s transcript on the Weird Darkness website. There’s a direct link to the blog post in the show notes so you can easily find it. I’ll be back shortly with more Weird Darkness.
THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE…
Friday October 25, 2019
The week has been uneventful. Deanna is still in a slump. She refuses to sleep in our waterbed. Instead, she crashes on my office couch or the living room couch. I’ve been staying awake all night, occupying the same room as her to make sure she’s okay. I sleep during the day while she works. It’s been exhausting.
Tonight is an editor event with demonstrations I want to see and some contacts I should connect with, plus I really need to get out of the house. I arrange for Amy to come by after work at 8 p.m. I need to leave at 7 p.m., so Deanna only has to spend an hour alone.
I sync the security cameras with my phone; this way, I can monitor Deanna while I’m out. If something happens, I’ll have Bill from next door pop over while I rush home.
I’m ready to leave, but I can’t find Deanna anywhere. I call out for her, but get no answer. I check our bedroom and find the dogs sleeping. I head to the front door and call out again. I hear something at the end of the hall. I cautiously approach. I think back to following Bill’s whisper and wonder if my mind is playing tricks on me.
I stop at the end of the hall. “Hon? Deanna? Are you trying to scare me?” I ask as I look left toward Deanna’s office. I flick the light on and peer into the game room. I hear the noise again. It must be Deanna in her office. I wander into her room, peeking into my office as I pass. Again I call for her. Dead silence. I mean dead, like no air conditioner, no refrigerator hum, just silence.
I give up. She must be messing with me. I walk back to the foyer calling out, “All right, well. Wherever you are. I shouldn’t be too late. I love you,” then I head outside.
I turn to shut the door, and I’m startled by Deanna. She’s pointing the gun at my head. I immediately grab for the pistol and tackle her into the foyer. We struggle, and the gun discharges. I manage to pull it away from her and scurry back into the hall.
She cries, “You won’t let her, you won’t let her!”
“You want me to shoot you?” I yell angrily.
“No. No. I don’t know. You won’t let her, and she needs me.”
“Who? What? Goddamn it! What the hell is wrong with you?”
Deanna falls silent, stiffens, then rises to her feet in a very creepy, ethereal way. Her arms and fingers outstretch like before, but this time she expels a long, guttural yell. I stare in complete shock. I’m terrified at what is happening. The yell is deep, like an animal cry, so deep and bassy I can feel its vibrations in my chest.
Suddenly, without warning, she collapses like all her muscles gave way into a pile of bones. She lays there, lifeless. I stare at her from a few feet away. Afraid. I wait for her to gasp for air, but she doesn’t move. She lies still. My heart sinks then shatters into pure anger as I see she’s wearing that damn cross. The moment drags on. She’s not showing any signs of breathing. The shards of my heart begin to weep. I put the gun down and reach for her. I nudge her, nudge her again. She breathes, but is completely unresponsive.
I grab my phone to call emergency. I remember not wanting to deal with their questions. I shout, “My wife is unconscious, send an ambulance!” I toss the phone down and yell, “I’m running for water!” In the kitchen, I realize I’m holding the gun. Where’d it come from? Did I pick it back up? I stash the gun in the pen drawer then grab the dog’s water bowl and race back to Deanna. I splash her in the face, but she doesn’t respond. I yell my address into the phone, as I grab for the clicker to open the front gate. I cry. It’s that loud, moaning, painful cry that wounded animals make.
All at once, time seems to be stagnant and rapid. I remember holding her wondering, When will help ever arrive?,, but looking back, time skipped a heartbeat to place me at her hospital bedside.
I stay at her side for three days. She hasn’t woken up at all. Our parents spend a lot of time here as well. They bring me clothes and comfort food. Her parents move our dogs to their house, so I don’t have to worry about them. Deanna will kill me if the pups are neglected.
Deanna is in a big room. There are two beds, but no one occupies the second. Sometimes I nap on that one. Most nurses don’t seem to mind, but whenever one seems irked, I tell them how we’re high school sweethearts and haven’t been apart for 30 years. That softens them up.
No one can give me answers. The doctors attribute this as a reaction to her sleeping pills. They can’t find anything else in her toxicology and have nothing else to offer. They check her brain activity, and all is functioning. They just want to wait and monitor. The word coma is both used and avoided. There is talk of a feeding tube, but that has ramifications of its own. I panic, but I’m reassured that she doesn’t yet display all the signs of a coma. They tell me to just wait.
Tuesday October 29, 2019
This morning, they moved a roommate in with us. I no longer have a bed to sleep on.
Yesterday, the nurses began harping on me to go home. I stayed, but all day they kept telling me to go get rest and that they would take care of Deanna.
Today a nurse hinted, “You can go home and shower.”
“Do I need a shower?”
“Everyone needs a shower.”
“Is this because of her roommate?”
“Well, it is a shared room and we need to be considerate of everyone.”
I eye her name tag: Jayme. She has childish flower stickers around her name. I decide I don’t like Jayme.
As visiting hours near an end, Jayme comes to me with backup, a bigger male nurse. She firmly tells me to go home and get rest.
I kiss Deanna goodnight and leave. My fear is they kicked me out because Deanna isn’t ever going to get better. The thought of that even as I write this chokes me up.
I get home and park the car. On my way into the house, I hear something come from the pool. A growl? It’s a deep sound, deeper than a coyote. I turn on my camera light and follow the noise.
I approach the pool area, the pool light glows from under the solar cover. Everything appears peaceful. The noise is gone.
Just before I turn back there’s another noise. This one sounds like a shovel scrape coming from the dry river.
I make my way to the hilltop and look down. The area is empty except for Deanna’s half-dug holes and the broken shovel. I had broken our shovel to prevent Deanna from digging.
Maybe I’m delusional, maybe I have an ethereal connection, but for some reason I climb down to the bottom and sit on a dirt mound above a hole. This seems like the right place to be. I survey Deanna’s handiwork and consider all that has happened. I feel weak, limp, and exhausted. My chest swells as pressure builds in my head; then I burst into tears.
* * * * * * * * * *
Wednesday October 30, 2019
Deanna’s parents are at the hospital. They insist I stay home and rest. They’ll call if there’s any change. I’m reluctant, but I agree. Selfishly, I just want to be alone but that makes me feel bad.
I drive over to pick up the dogs, and on my way Tom calls. He asks all the usual questions. At some point, I express concern over having the gun. He says he’ll swing by to get it out of my house.
When he arrives, I hand over the pistol. Tom scans the dining room, then declares there’s something in this house. He preaches that I should call Heather, his spiritual friend.
“A medium?” I exclaim.
“Ah, more of a small. You’re judgmental.”
He texts me her number. Tom is a standup comedian; because of that, I can’t always gauge when he’s messing with me or being serious. He seems serious and insists that Heather can help.
Before I can refute him, he takes the cross off his neck and gives it to me for protection. He tells me it belonged to his father, and I’ll disrespect him if I don’t wear the cross.
I spend the next few hours lost. I try to play with the pups. I try to watch TV. I try to lie down. I briefly consider looking at the footage but it’s too soon. I’m going crazy.
I end up calling Heather. On one hand, I think this medium stuff is bonkers. On the other hand, I really don’t have any answers to anything, so what do I have to lose? There is the possibility Heather is a comedian friend of Tom’s and this is his way of pranking me to get my mind off Deanna. That is just the kind of thing Tom would do. So just in case, I have my phone at the ready to record my conversation with Heather. I figure it’ll either be an amusing diversion or I’ll get some answers.
I answer the door, and Heather blows past me, barging into the dining room.
“Something awful happened here. Your wife is in mortal danger,” she announces. She turns and proceeds to the master bedroom. I follow her.
“Your house is not haunted. It’s your wife.” She squats to the floor. Her hand grazes the carpet, “It happened here. She took her last breath.”
“Actually it happened in the living room,” I quip.
She glares at me. “There is death in many rooms in this house.”
She exits the bedroom in a hurry. I chase her into the dining room. She scans the room in the same fashion as Tom. Lying on the table is Christina’s Bible; it’s been there for a few days. Heather gingerly touches the book. Her fingers caress the cover, then she snaps the Bible up. A moment later her chest lunges, as if pulled toward the end of the hall. She holds up the Bible like she is about to give a sermon.
Under my breath I quietly utter, “This chick is crazy.”
She preaches, “It doesn’t matter what you believe. Demons are real. There is a heaven and a hell!” She does a one-eighty and beelines right into my face. I back up.
“Mr. Rocca, do you love your wife?”
“Would you do anything for her?”
“Sure, yeah, absolutely.”
“Then why don’t you help her?”
“I am. That’s why you’re here.”
“Don’t turn your back on God. The answers you seek are in this book. You just have to dig.” She thrusts the Bible at me, then exits. She is gone.
I plop down on the living room couch to thumb through the Bible. The chapter Joshua is bookmarked. I take a closer look at the actual bookmark. It’s a business card. I examine it. The card is for Tex Mex – catering for all occasions.
I call Christina, and she answers cheerfully as ever. I ask her to come over to walk the dogs. I half-expect rejection based on our last encounter, but instead she sounds excited at the prospect.
I put the card back into the Bible. At this point, I really consider the oddity that the card was place holding the Book of Joshua. I set the Bible on the dining room table next to the puzzle box containing the Portate cross.
Christina arrives about twenty minutes later. I show her the Bible and ask if it’s hers. She nods. I show her the Tex Mex card; she joyfully claims it as her aunt and uncle’s. Huh — her aunt owns a catering company? I hold up the puzzle box expecting to finally get answers, but she has clearly never seen it before.
I slide the box open and remove the Portate cross. Her eyes widen and her voice swells, “Where did you get that?”
“You know what this is?”
She lunges at me and grabs the cross. I pull it away. We’re in a tug of war over it. She swings and hits my arm. She attacks with a vengeance. “Give it. I need it. It’s mine. No, no, no,” she exclaims, as she keeps punching. I back away as she forges forward. The chain breaks free of her grasp and I manage to back a few steps away. She turns and runs out the door. She sobs, repeating the words, “I’m telling, I’m telling.”
The idea pops in my mind like the flare of a light bulb just before it burns out. I call Michael and ask him to come over to help me dig. Heather said, “You just have to dig.” Deanna was digging. I think I need to dig, but I ain’t doing this alone.
Michael lives a few minutes away and he must have dropped what he was doing because he seems to arrive before I hang up. It dawns on me that I broke our shovel. I’ll also need one for Michael. We make a quick trip to Lowes to pick up a couple. On the way, I fill him in on all the details. He isn’t as judgmental as I expected. Not that Michael is judgmental, but these are some far-fetched facts.
We get back and start digging. Our pattern around the hill is random; we don’t have a plan. Deanna had dug a few shallow holes, so we somehow figure that we should also be digging shallow holes. We dig for hours, but find nothing.
At one point, Michael notices Tom’s cross around my neck. I started wearing it after Christina’s attack. Michael suggests that maybe I should be wearing the Portate cross instead.
He surmises that it might be a talisman, a portal key. That sounds crazy, but he asks me if Deanna wore the cross when she did all that stuff. Why hadn’t I considered this?
I went into the house to retrieve the Portate cross with Michael in tow. He is recording on his phone. He says he wants to capture the moment that I “spontaneously combust.”
I take off Tom’s father’s cross and with a bit of reluctance, I clasp the Portate cross around my neck. I don’t know what I expected, but nothing happens. Michael says it’s, “very anti-climatic.”
Back out on the hill, we survey the holes in an attempt to come up with a strategy. At first, I’m thinking that we need to dig deeper, then eureka, it hits me, “Where did the gardener land?” Michael points. We start attacking that spot.
This hole is easy to dig. The dirt here might not be as compacted as elsewhere, or maybe this is where we’re supposed to dig. It’s still a challenge; it’s late, we’re tired, and even soft-dirt digging is hard work. After about two feet, my shovel strikes something with a THUNK! It isn’t a rock, it sounds metallic. I poke the shovel at it a few more times. It’s definitely metal.
Michael whips out his phone camera and flips on the video light. I try to get a better look. Our hole goes down two feet. At the bottom there seems to be a cavern that juts off to the side of the hole, almost like a downward L shape into a tunnel at the bottom. The video light occasionally catches a golden glint inside the cavern.
It’s too deep to reach in. I’d have to lay flat on the dirt for that. Instead, I step into the hole and bend over to reach past my foot into the tunnel. I feel a pointy object. I struggle to get my fingers around it. It feels like a pointed dome. It reminds me of one of those old German helmets with the spike on top. I strain to get my grip around the spike and pull, but there isn’t much to grip onto. I don’t want to dig more, I just want it out.
I try again struggling to reach in further. I feel the spike budge a bit. I strain more to get a better grip. I think the dome part is lodged into a rock. I sweep away some dirt and try again. The spike wiggles some more. I push and pull till it finally breaks completely free and I’m able to get it out of the hole.
It’s an 18-inch tall brass vase with a lid. It takes a moment for me to realize it is not a vase; it’s an urn.
I suggest we call the cops. Michael retorts, “And tell them what? Hey, we’re two guys digging in the yard at 2 a.m., and we found a vase? Run that through your head, how’s that gonna sound?”
“But what if it’s…” I stop to look it over.
Eagerly, Michael urges, “Let’s just open it.”
With a deep breath, I grasp the lid and turn. It breaks free. I slowly unscrew the dome to reveal the contents. Inside are ash and bone fragments. Michael shouts, “Why’d you do that?!” Frightened, I fall back, almost losing the urn. We both laugh off the tension.
I screw the lid back on when my phone vibrates. A call at this time of night can’t be good. I set the urn down and pull the phone from my pocket. Quickly I answer, “Hello?”
“Vince?” A female voice asks. I mistake her for Deanna. I want it to be Deanna.
“Hon?” is my hurried response.
The woman chuckles, “No, but Mrs. Rocca is awake.” Now I realize it’s Nurse Jayme’s voice. I ascend the hill in a flash. I jump in my car and immediately head to the hospital, leaving Michael alone with the urn.
* * * * * * * * * *
Saturday January 25, 2020
I’ve spent the last three months hanging out with Deanna. Every moment I can get, I spend with her. She was totally back to her old self within a few days. She went back to work the following week. She wanted to return that Friday, but we all insisted she rest for the week. Four days of sleep can take a toll on the body.
While she’s at work, I’ve been combing through all the footage in an attempt to assemble it into a cohesive movie. I’ve been trying to compose music and add effects to emphasize certain aspects of the footage. It’s coming along well, but it’s taking a long time, especially considering I completely drop everything when Deanna is home.
This past week, I took a break from the footage to focus on this written account. This seemed easier to finish before we leave for a week in Florida to fulfill Deanna’s dream of swimming with manatees.
SOME QUICK UPDATES…
The Portate cross is trapped in the puzzle box, which is locked in a safe and is never worn.
I gave the urn to the police. Two officers came out to investigate the hole, but they laughed when I told them about the Portate cross.
They said they would take the urn and see if forensics could get DNA from the ashes, but apparently that’s very difficult.
We haven’t seen Christina since October. I told the police about her. I also recounted the story of the people who lived here and gave the cops the business card. I explained that I think Christina might be their daughter.
A few weeks before Christmas, I spoke to one of the cops. They haven’t gotten anything from the urn. They did get some prints from the inside of it, but haven’t been able to match those. He said I could have the urn back or I could leave it with them. I said I’d get back to him on that.
He did pull up the murder-suicide from 2007. He confirmed the woman was shot in the kneecaps. He also spoke with Mrs. Hernandez; she and her husband own the Tex Mex catering company. She confirmed that Joshua Juarez was her brother. She said he had one daughter, Marisol, but she thinks they sent her back to Mexico before the murder-suicide. She denied ever having a nephew and claimed Christina was her daughter, but that she was currently visiting family in Mexico.
I think Mrs. Hernandez is telling a half-truth. I believe Marisol killed her little brother in Mexico, then the family fled to the U.S. The mother was distraught, so she killed, burned, and buried Marisol in our backyard. Joshua was angry over the killing of his daughter, so he shot the mother and hung himself near the grave out back. Christina was probably at her aunt’s house at the time, and Mrs. Hernandez protected the little girl from it all.
I have no explanation for the Portate cross.
I was able to finally compile the footage into a movie.
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Church of the Undead”, visit the store for Weird Darkness merchandise, and more. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“If You Don’t Believe, You Have Nothing To Fear” by Vince Rocca
WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.” – Proverbs 19:3
And a final thought… “Without the darkness how would we recognize the light? Do not fear your negative thoughts. They are a part of you: they are a part of every living being.” – Tuvac (Star Trek Voyager)
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.