CRYPTID CAPE S1 E6: Human Error
Published on October 14th, 2019
Avra: A-are you sure you don’t want me to turn this off? Because I can, I-I don’t wanna—
Julius: No, no, you’re fine. I’m fairly certain Dr. Francis wanted you to record these sessions, is that right?
Avra: Yeah, I don’t know if she’ll ever be listening to them, though, what with the whole cryptid thing.
Julius: That’s true, but I think it’s good to keep with her methods while we get to know each other. No guarantee that we’ll continue using it as a therapy tool. I’ll have to evaluate its usefulness.
Avra: Are you going to be listening to these, then?
Julius: Would you like me to listen to them?
Avra: I would really rather you not.
Julius: Then no, not for now. So, shall we begin?
Avra: Sure. I mean, where do you want me to start? There’s, there’s kind of a lot.
Julius: Well, how about we start with your recent move to town? I know you’re new to Water’s Edge, what brought you to our little beach town community?
Avra: I mean the short answer is I needed a job somewhere new and Roger was looking for an editor.
Julius: And the long answer?
Avra: Right. Well, I used to live in Philly, with my boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend. We... we didn’t have the best relationship. Um, can I turn this off for this part? I don’t think I want to listen to this later.
(recorder clicks off)
(upbeat theme music plays)
Lizzie: Welcome to town.
Roger: You are essentially the one-woman band running Water’s Edge Weekly.
Avra: Maybe being in Water’s Edge will be different.
Francy: You’re not exactly as strange as the rest of us.
Roger: You’re not a cryptid, are you?
Victoria: Cryptid Cape, Episode 6: Human Error.
(theme music continues, then fades away)
(tape recorder clicks, light cheerful music in background)
Avra: So I’m back in therapy again. Dr. Julius seems fine, definitely more laid-back than Dr. Francis was, although I suppose the approaches one takes in a mental hospital versus private practice therapy might warrant that difference. Julius is a ghost, at least I’m assuming he is, since uh, he wasn’t exactly… corporeal. He told me to call him Julius, as if that was his first name and he was the cool professor who didn’t mind if students were on the same level of name-officiality as him. I don’t know if it’s actually his first name, though, and I forgot to ask. It took an hour to fill him in on everything that’s happened, all my issues and that good stuff. (sarcastic) So glad I get to recount my trauma for another therapist, what a way to spend a Tuesday morning.
I’m back at the office now, clearly not being as productive as I should be. I wanted to move some stuff around for this week’s layout and, (sarcastic) shocker, the software’s not cooperating again, so I’m on a thinking break. Specifically, I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with Officer Jenkins. It’s weird that he wants me to work with them, right? Even if it’s not for a malicious purpose, it, it feels unethical. The separation between the press and law enforcement has always been a strange one. I mean, it’s necessary 99% of the time so reporters can cover corruption and scandal when it surfaces within departments. But then there’s this other 1% of situations, the times when cops request information be held from the public so they can best protect and serve. I still can’t tell what side of the line this falls on, though.
I just want to know all of what’s going on, then I can decide what to publish and what to hold back on. Or (sighs) maybe I still won’t know. Either way, if Jenkins is controlling what I see and hear, I might not even have the opportunity to make those decisions. I need to find a way to get an interview with the witness, without Jenkins policing it. He’s probably still at the hospital, but how would I even... huh. I just got a very bad idea, but given it’s the only one I have, I think I’m gonna do it anyway.
(tape recorder clicks off)
(tape recorder clicks on, the light sound of a car running, the click of the gear shift being changed, the ignition being turned off, the car door opening, Avra getting out, the door slamming closed, then Avra’s footsteps with light traffic sounds in the background, an automatic door slides open and closed, Avra continues walking until she speaks, in the background phones ring, carts clatter as they roll by, people type on computers, walk, and have light conversation)
Desk Assistant: Hello, miss, how may I help you?
Avra: Hi, I’m Avra Nunez from the Weekly. I’m working on a feature about the hospital and was hoping I could snag a quick interview with someone. Preferably a doctor or a nurse?
Desk Assistant: Well—
Avra: I’m sure they’re very busy, but it will only take a few minutes. Just a couple questions about their daily work and I’ll be out of their hair.
Desk Assistant: I think one of the nurses gets off their shift in about fifteen minutes. I’m not sure who, but I can check and see if they’d be willing to be interviewed. As long as you don’t mind waiting around a bit.
Avra: Not at all, that sounds perfect.
Desk Assistant: Great, let me just see who it is...
(typing, mouse clicking, light upbeat music)
Avra: While you do, is there a bathroom I could use?
Desk Assistant: Of course, just go down that hall, hang a right, and it’ll be the second door on the left.
Avra: Wonderful, thank you.
(Avra’s footsteps walking down the hall, turn, slow briefly before speeding up, turn again, and there is a thud, something wooden clatters on the tile floor)
Shia: Oh gosh, I’m so sorry—
Avra: Oh jeez, my bad, I didn’t—
Avra: (surprised) Shia, hi.
Shia: Fancy running into you here. What are you doing at the hospital?
Avra: Oh, just, uh, looking for the bathroom. (small laugh)
Shia: Oh yeah? Because you already passed that.
Avra: Really? Gosh, silly me, always missing signs, getting lost.
Shia: You’re a very bad liar.
Avra: Liar? Uh, what do you mean a…? Why would I lie about trying to find the bathroom?
Shia: I don’t know, would you like to fill me in?
Avra: I really—
Shia: You’re sweet, Avra, and I don’t want to get you in any trouble or anything, but as a nurse here I can’t condone people sneaking around the hospital.
Avra: (sighs) I was trying to get an interview with the human found in the woods before their memory gets wiped.
Shia: Oh, just an interview? That seems fine, as long as the patient agrees to it.
Shia: Yeah, he’s awake and aware, he can make his own decisions. The only reason we have a no visitors policy in effect for him is because Jenkins requested it. It’s not like he would have any visitors anyway. What’s up with the whole James Bond act, though?
Avra: Well, Jenkins and the police force really don’t want me looking into this one unless they have control over my interviews and articles. Maybe I’m making it sound more nefarious than it is, but that’s kind of the problem: I don’t know why they want me to back off. Getting this interview without Jenkins knowing could help me figure that out.
Shia: A rogue journalist dredging up the details before pulling the trigger on a story, that’s something I can get behind. Well, you’re in luck, there aren’t any cops hanging around today, and I happen to know exactly where the human is. C’mon, I’ll introduce you, but maybe turn that off for now.
Avra: Oh, right, got it.
(tape recorder clicks off)
Avra: Shia led me through the halls of the hospital, amused at my confusion over how large the place was on the inside while seeming pretty small on the outside. We found the human’s room quickly; his name is Rory Schneider. It feels weird to keep calling him “the human,” as if I’m not also a human? Anyway, Shia checked in to see if it would be alright if I asked him a few questions about what happened and he seemed very willing to talk about it. Shia sat in with us while I conducted the interview.
(tape recorder clicks on, faint, lightly ominous music in background)
Shia: Avra, this is Rory. Rory, Avra. She’s the editor in chief of our local newspaper.
(light rustle of bedsheets)
Rory: It’s great to meet you, miss.
Avra: Nice meeting you too. How are you doing, recovering and all?
Rory: I’m alright, I think. I guess Shia could tell you more about that, right, nurse?
Shia: You’ve been doing great, Rory. We should be able to send you home in a couple days.
Rory: Can’t wait, I’ve gotta tell my friends about all the crazy shit I saw the other night. No one around here’s been believing me, but apparently you want to talk about it? Unless I’ve got the wrong idea.
Avra: No, please, I’d love to hear about what happened. First, can I ask how old you are?
Rory: I’m nineteen.
Avra: Okay, and what do you do?
Rory: Well, normally I go to school. I’m a freshman at Rutgers University, but I’m missing some classes right now. Hope the teachers won’t be too mad at me when I get back.
Avra: Oh, yeah. I’m sure they’ll be understanding if you’ve got a doctor’s note.
Shia: I don’t want to interrupt, but you guys might want to hurry it up. Not sure how long you have till the front desk wonders where you went.
Avra: Right. Rory, could you tell me about what happened the other night at the water tower? What brought you there, exactly?
Rory: Yeah, well a few of my friends back at school and I heard about some crazy magic show happening out here. Saw flyers around campus advertising for it. I mean, it did seem pretty sketchy, but we called the number anyway because what else are you supposed to do during syllabus week at Rutgers? But this guy answered and told us to meet him in... Redding I think? Is that the mainland town here?
Avra: Yeah, Redding Township.
Rory: Yeah, so we met him there at like 11 that night and he drove us to the water tower in his pickup truck. Made us pay up front for the ride, 25 bucks a head. Looking back, it was all (laughs) pretty stupid, but we did it. There was another guy waiting there and he was doing some weird stuff.
Avra: Weird stuff how?
Rory: I-I don’t know, he was… he was doing some magic with his hands, making little fires and changing its color. He dropped it onto the ground and I freaked out a little because I thought the whole place would light up, but instead it kind of changed shape. He made it look like a dog, and then it was a flower I think, stuff like that. It was freaky.
Avra: Could you describe what the two men looked like?
Rory: I wish. I-I couldn’t get a good look at either of their faces, they were both wearing black hoodies. The guy that drove us was big, though. Not like fat, just tall and kind of built. The other one was a lot shorter. I saw his eyes, actually the shorter one. He did a weird trick with them that made them shine bright yellow for a bit. They looked like cats’ eyes, but when he stopped doing it, I couldn’t see what they looked like normally.
Avra: Any other physical characteristics that you could see?
Rory: No, sorry. God, what I would’ve done for a flashlight that night.
Avra: Mmhmm. And, uh, what happened after all these tricks?
Rory: Well, the weird fire stuff kept getting crazier and bigger, and the guy who drove us there was talking about getting back in the truck and seeing what other freaky stuff was on the island. Then we heard a cop car siren from far off and it must’ve startled the fire guy because he seemed to lose control of what he was doing. Suddenly the fire was actually catching on the leaves and spreading fast. The two hooded guys bolted, so we all tried to run for it, too. In the panic, I tripped over something and smashed my head on a rock, and then I woke up here. That’s… that’s really all I’ve got for you, sorry I can’t be more helpful.
Avra: That’s alright, thank you for sharing what you could.
Shia: Avra, we should probably go.
Avra: Okay. Feel better, Rory.
Hey, is this gonna be in the paper tomorrow? I’d love to read it, bring home a copy to show my folks and stuff.
Avra: (hesitant) Uh, yeah. It’ll be out on Friday.
Rory: Awesome, awesome, thanks.
Shia: Have a good one, Rory.
Rory: See you tomorrow, Nurse Shia.
Shia: You okay?
Avra: Yeah, yeah, I just... They’re going to wipe his memory?
Shia: They have to.
Shia: Oh, damn it.
Avra: What’s wrong?
Shia: Oh, my carpool had to leave without me, her son has a soccer game. I just need to find myself a cab now, it’s nothing.
Avra: Oh. (pause) Do you want a ride home?
Shia: That would be great actually.
(tape recorder clicks off)
(light calm music in background)
Avra: Shia lives by the beach in a small, beautifully decorated two-bedroom house. They invited me in when we got back. I think I was wearing my stress on my face a little too much, so Shia offered some tea and a comfortable couch. They have a roommate, Elton I think his name is, but he was busy playing video games in his room, so we hung out in Shia’s living room. They have it decorated in a classy beach house style—lots of whites and tans and blues everywhere. At first I was afraid to sit down out of fear of ruining the nicely fluffed pillows and white couch that looked like it was out of a home improvement magazine, but looking around more, I could see the little details that showed it was a house well-lived in. The cluttered shoe and coat rack, a dish left out here and there, and a familiar sink of the couch made me feel more at home. After Shia made some tea for us, we got to talk for a little while. Of course, I don’t have to sum that up because I’m an idiot and left my recorder on for half of it.
(tape recorder clicks on)
Shia: (footsteps tapping lightly) Some raspberry matcha for you, (mug taps on table) and an English breakfast for myself.
Shia: Of course. Tea’s always good to soothe stress.
Avra: Is it that obvious? (sipping)
Shia: For me it is. I’m a little better at reading emotions than the average person, comes with the water nymph territory. What’s got you so troubled? Is it the Rory situation? I hope the interview was what you were hoping.
Avra: Oh, the interview was great, yeah, cleared up a lot.
Avra: (sighs) I guess the whole memory wipe thing is just really getting to me.
Avra: I mean, I know it’s necessary, it’s not like you can have him going home and telling everyone that the island is full of cryptids. It just seems...
Shia: I understand. I haven’t had to be present for too many mind clearings, but they make you feel funny. A little bit in the morally gray area. Granted, there’s no pain to the patient, it’s a completely harmless process and we’re very careful to only extract the cryptid-related memories. Our doctors are very good at it. (sighs) Reason can’t change feeling much though, can it? But I suppose we don’t have much choice.
Avra: Is it really that dangerous for a human to know what’s going on, though?
Shia: Yes, Avra. I’m not sure if you’ve lived in a cryptid cape town before but surely you understand what it’s like to live in a place full of humans who don’t understand cryptids, who don’t even give us a chance. To have to hide who you are for so long, sometimes even from friends and coworkers, maybe even family. But here in this town we’re protected from that. We can be a nonbinary water nymph, or a Grecian oracle, or what have you and be out in the open about it without needing to be afraid. If a human sees what Water’s Edge really is and decides to spill the truth to the world, all of that disappears and we become freaks of nature that need to be studied and tested and locked up.
Avra: Only if people believe that human, though. I mean, look at all the people who say they’ve seen Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. Even if they go on TV, no one takes them seriously. And if they do, they just make some stupid “Chasing Monsters” show out of it.
Shia: I would argue that the instinct to chase is concerning enough. I guess for now we’ll just have to agree to disagree.
Avra: I... I guess so.
Shia: You seem so disappointed. It’s okay, difference of opinion makes things interesting. Imagine how boring and broken the world would be if everyone agreed on everything.
Avra: What if they agreed on all the good things, though?
Shia: (laughs) It’s a good point, but even then.
Is something blinking in your bag?
Avra: What? Oh, Jesus.
(shuffling through bag, tape recorder is bumped, then clicks off)
Avra: I still can’t believe I left the recorder on, Shia must think I’m such a creep. They said it was fine and blamed the forgetfulness on stress, but I’m sure it was a little off-putting at the least. Either way, I left pretty soon after that and spent the rest of the day working from home. Just finished some dinner and I’ve been putting off returning Officer Jenkins’ call. Ugh, I should probably just do it, shouldn’t I? Alright, (whispers) whatever.
(cellphone being dialed then ringing twice)
Officer Jenkins: (through phone) Hello?
Avra: Officer Jenkins, hi, it’s Avra, from the Weekly.
Officer Jenkins: Oh, Avra, good to hear from you. Look, I don’t have much time to chat right now, but have you decided to go through with the interview?
Avra: Um, no, actually.
Officer Jenkins: Uh, no?
Avra: I appreciate the offer, but I thought about it and I think for integrity’s sake and preserving the ethics of the press, I’ll do my own interviews and investigation for this story.
Officer Jenkins: (sighs) I see. Avra, you’re new here, so you probably don’t understand how important confidentiality is in this town. (stammering) If anyone were to—
Avra: I know security is important. I know what I’m doing.
Officer Jenkins: (clicks tongue) Alright then.
Avra: Have a good night, Officer Jenkins. And thank you for the— (call ended tone, Avra sighs) Well, that could’ve gone better.
(tape recorder clicks off)
(upbeat theme music plays, fading into the background as Victoria speaks)
Victoria: Thanks for listening to episode six of Cryptid Cape, “Human Error.” The show is created and produced by me, Victoria Pereira. I also voice Avra.
Grant: The voice of Julius is Grant Bowman.
Aidan: The voice of the desk assistant is Aidan Gibbs.
Christian: The voice of Rory is Christian Woodward.
Angelique: The voice of Shia is Angelique Fustukjian.
Michael: The voice of Officer Jenkins is Michael Manaloto.
Victoria: Our theme song is “Pink Nights in Ohio” by Ryan Andersen. The other songs used in this episode were “Meeting Again” by Emily A. Sprague, “Fender Bender” by Bad Snacks, “Ticker” by Silent Partner, “Beyond the Lows” by The Whole Other, and “Water Lillies” by Density & Time. Our cover art was created by Christy Duprey. Be sure to subscribe to Cryptid Cape so you don’t miss our next episode, we publish every two weeks. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @CryptidCape, or on Facebook at Cryptid Cape Podcast. Share this episode with friends or leave a review if you enjoyed it, it means the world. See you next time.
(theme music fades out)