What follows is a transcript of a recording made by Ian Statler, 35, who went missing after a scheduled appraisal on July 12th, 2006. Statler parked his car at 3206 Santa Viera court at 3:00pm and was last seen entering the house at that address. The hallway described by Statler does not appear on the house schematics, and following his directions leads to a bookshelf with no further opening behind it. The recorder with tape inside was found in the 5th and Main subway station. Statler presumably took it along to report details of the house, as evidenced by the first minute and a half of tape. The ‘Gomez’ mentioned by Statler would appear to be the legal owner of the house, one Adam Gomez. However, the address and social security number written on the paperwork are both fake, and the phone number was disconnected shortly after Statler’s disappearance. There were no witnesses to the drop-off of the recorder, and the tape was found rewound to the beginning. Statler is missing presumed dead.
STATLER: Check one-two. *sound of air blowing into receiving microphone* July 12th, Wednesday. House is in a nice neighborhood. No HOAC, that could be a plus. Nice little yard out back that could turn into a basketball court or a pool. Roof needs some work. *sound of door opening*
STATLER: oooh boy. Hardwood floors, show wear and tear. Needs refinishing. The windows aren’t—
[at this point, the audio cuts smoothly into a separate recording. Presumably, Statler meant to rewind the tape to the beginning and stopped too soon.]
STATLER: Okay, Jesus. Good. Gather my thoughts.
STATLER: it’s July 12, Wednesday. I think. I’ve been down here for hours. I don’t know if i’ll ever see daylight again. *long, drawn-out sigh*
STATLER: I’ve only spoken to my client over the phone. That’s not unusual. There’s plenty out-of-staters who own in California. Hell, half the block belongs to Chinese investors who never even set foot in the country—
STATLER: I’m sorry, I’m getting off track. Whoever’s listening…okay, me? Erase this part if you chose to show someone else, okay?
STATLER: *miscellaneous noises* Gomez wanted me to appraise his place. Not unusual. He asked me to check up on some things, see if they’d ding the resale value. The house—
[thirty seconds of dead air. Statler presumably listening for something.]
STATLER: Okay, the house did not look lived in. Like, it had some stuff in there, but not like it had ever been used. I mean, that’s kinda normal. There’s plenty of flipped houses in the valley. But there were a lot of things that didn’t make sense. The halls had brand-new light fixtures, but the floors were rotting. New drapes on the windows that had moldy sills.
STATLER: I should’ve left. Fuck, I should have walked right out. Fishy as hell. I’m an idiot.
[ten seconds of dead air]
STATLER: He told me to check out the storage closet in the basement. It’s sort of left by the water heater, kind of squeezed down this little passage. If you’re listening, don’t go down there, don’t even go near the house. *voice builds up to an emotional plea* For the love of God don’t let anybody else get lost down here.
[Statler stops to breathe, regaining control of his voice]
STATLER: Of course it opened up, and I went right inside. I’m an idiot. It looked like someone had taken a sledgehammer to the wall. I walked into the hole. And I found…I found the hallway.
STATLER: *gulps* It’s really fucking weird to look at but if you go in there and see it, stay back. I know it looks like a normal hallway, but it just goes on and on and on. Those lamps? Don’t plug into anything. *bitter laughter* I have this little novelty keychain thing, it’s barely better than a glowstick. That’s all. I have my keys, I have my phone—which gets no signal down here—I have that business card in my pocket—I didn’t even bring a snack in the car—
[Statler breaks off, presumably to calm himself again]
STATLER: So it looked like hallway from a regular old tract house. Like my gramma’s. It even had that wallpaper, that pink-on-pink that looked like a rash? God, I don’t miss her. She used to…anyway, it had lamps and white wicker tables and doors every so often. I opened a couple. They were always the same room. White wicker chairs, blond pine coffee table, white rug. Always the same.
STATLER: By the time I realized how far I’d gone, I turned back.
[eight seconds of dead air]
STATLER: I went in a straight line. I know I did. But the hall ended in another door. And when I opened it, there was another hall, identical to the one I was in. So I-I went back the other way. Walked way too long. There was another door, this one just opened up on the rooms. I wasn’t even panicking then, I was just kind of confused and I think I just got myself more lost, like, you know how they tell you to stay where you are when you’re lost in the woods? So when they come to rescue you—*breaks off into laughter*
STATLER: Shit. Like anyone’s coming for me. I don’t even know why the fuck I’m doing this. *sounds on the verge of tears* I don’t want to die. I don’t want to stay down here anymore. I hate houses. I hate rooms. I want to live in the woods from now on.
[Statler takes a few breaths to calm himself]
STATLER: Fuck. Forget it. So I’m lost, and then an hour ago I saw something moving. I’ve been sparing on the keychain, it’s only a watch battery. I saw something moving down the hall right before I clicked off the light. It was a long ways off. By the time I hit the button again, i-it was way closer. *laughter* I thought, “people!” I was so fucking happy. I thought it was a homeless guy who snuck down here, m-maybe he could show me out? I’d do that if I were homeless, move into a suburban maze. I mean, it’s gotta be better than living on the streets, right?
[ten seconds of dead air]
STATLER: It wasn’t a man.
[a shuffling noise starts up at this point. Statler appears unaware of the sound, his voice shows no overt reaction]
STATLER: From a distance—okay, sure, it could be an old guy with natty white-boy dreads. But it got closer–um, close to me, and he didn’t look–like, the nose was wrong. The nostrils were almost sideways. And the biggest–the weirdest thing was that his eyes reflected the light. Like a cougar or a wolf. Human’s eyes don’t do that, I remember my dad said once.
[twenty seconds of dead air. Statler may have been listening but did not seem to detect the noise]
STATLER: It started shuffling towards me, and it moved—it was wrong, okay? The whole thing was wrong. So I cut the light and I took the first door I found—thank God it was another hallway—and then immediately took another door. I could hear it following me. It went past me down the hall. I waited until I heard another door shut before I came out. I haven’t—I’ve been fumbling around in the dark, because I’m afraid if I can see it, it can see me.
[another sound layers over the shuffling noise. Audio analysis shows it has a match in the tymbal sound generated by cicadas, however at a much deeper pitch]
STATLER: So I’m sitting in one of those stupid wicker chairs. I’ve been walking for hours. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep in a place like this. I don’t want to sleep. What if they find me in the dark? Those lights in the eyes, I think they’re supposed to help animals hunt better at night, aren’t they?
STATLER: I’ve heard others moving around. Sometimes in the same hall. Mostly I just curl up into myself and hope they don’t come near but I can’t—I’m going to die down here, I know it. I just wish it wasn’t so fucking dark. I can’t stand not knowing what’s in front of me.
[at this point a third noise is detectable in the audio, a rising and falling tone that resembles no known audio, man or animal. Audio analysis showed that the origin of the noise was something attempting to mimic Statler’s speech]
STATLER: So I figured fuck it, watch battery or not, I’m going to—*begins screaming* Fuck! Fuck! Get the fuck [unintelligible] no, no, no, oh God no *hyperventilated breath* I [unintelligible] fucking can’t I just [unintelligible] no, get away!
[a loud click, presumably the recorder hitting the ground as Statler’s cries fade away. Sixty-five more minutes of dead air before the tape runs out]