So… I was hoping to avoid the topic entirely because it's triggered A LOT of people back when I had the comments section for a that short time, but I guess I can't avoid it forever.
Garrotegate. Yes or no?
I'm leaning heavily toward no. The fact that nobody ever saw his ghost in that house of his kind of implies that he didn't die there—right? Buuuuuut, if he didn't die there, where is he now? Could he really have stayed hidden for twenty years? Wouldn't someone have known at the Hedgewood Foundation? (Ghostland's silent partner isn't so silent now it appears, with their cease and desist orders and all that other nonsense in the news.) And wouldn't somebody have blown the lid by now?
So I feel like it's highly unlikely that the real Rex Garrote was behind what happened at Ghostland.
Another possibility people have been discussing on the dark web—yep, I've taken a deep dive in my research; I hope you're all grateful!—is that a hacker used Garrote's hologram as a sort of avatar, like the Guy Fawkes masks the Anonymous people wear. A handful of survivors claimed to have seen some of the ghosts "glitching out," their faces kind of morphing with the holographic tour guide version of Garrote. My brother—I told you he's a computer guy, didn't I? he's the one doing all the heavy lifting with the webpage—he thinks that it's possible there was a flaw in thecoding, causing the Garrote hologram to cross over into other parts of the program. But the Ghost Brothers also had holograms in the park. Wouldn't the same potentially happen with theirs? Why doesn't anybody remember seeing Jake and Iain stalking through the park like summer camp serial killers, like some survivors have said about Rex Garrote? Dead men and women and pets roaming the ground wearing Garrote's face like some horror version of John Malkovichworld?
Is it possible a hacker got into the system? Someone with an agenda like the Ghosts Are People Too group? Someone with a grudge against the Hedgewood Foundation? A former employee? Someone who didn't realize the kind of mayhem releasing all of those hundreds of ghosts would cause in sucha small, enclosed space?
Or was it deliberate? An act of domestic terrorism, rather than vandalism?
I'm not sure which is worse, frankly.
I guess the one good thing is that it can't happen again. If someone did do it deliberately, evil intentions or not, it's not like anyone's going to be dumb enough to start all over again. This isn't the movies. It's not Jurassic Park or something. (By the way, did any of you realize that Jurassic Park is basically just a revamp of Michael Crichton's earlier novel, Westworld, but instead of dinos it was wild west robots that go berserk? That's kind of weird, huh?)
People in the real world learn their lessons. People have to take accountability, at some point or another. Though it seems unlikely at this point that anyone in the Hedgewood Foundation's upper echelons will end up taking the rap for this, with a negligent homicide charge or worse. Particularly if they can prove that an outsider hacked the system.
Anyway, that's my thoughts on the whole Garrotegate thing. Probably hackers. Maybe a flaw in the program. But Garrote is definitely not still alive. What possible motive would he have for doing something like that? It just doesn't make sense.
Wow, I really am getting too deep into this project. Last night's post was pretty melodramatic even for me. I just read it over for the third time and the weird thing is I can't remember writing any of it. It's stuff I've been thinking a lot about, obviously. But I don't even remember getting out of bed last night at all.
Am I losing it or what?
Did I ever have "it" to begin with? Something drew me to the park that day, even though it was way out of my comfort zone. It was more than just responding to Ms. Amblin's words. I know that now. She planted the seed, but something else grew the tree. Something dark in me?
I remembered my first Halloween just the other day. Not the first time I ever trick-or-treated because I would have been a baby, pushed in a stroller while my parents took my older sister door to door. But the first one I remember doing on my own, with my friends.
A couple of my friends were a year older and they'd already done Halloween on their own the year before. They were the streetwise cynics, like the grizzled detective on a police drama. Like they had seen it all. They knew the best route, who handed out what, which houses where the owners would hide or pretend to be a scarecrow made out of old clothes and straw and then jump out at you, making you run and scream all the way back to the sidewalk.
We'd just come from the house where the young guy living there gave out sodas to all the kids and I remember the medicine-sweet taste of cream soda in my mouth while we walked past the house on Tracey Lane. Everyone back then talked about how a witch lived there, but nobody had seen this alleged witch. Once or twice kids had seen a Meals on Wheels van there and one time Vince, one of the sixth graders, waited to see if she would answer the door but the delivery guy would always just leave it on the porch and drive off. The next morning the delivery would be gone.
Kids would always quicken their pace when they walked by the house on Tracey Lane on the way to school. Some kids held their breath too, like when you're passing a cemetery in the car.
This time we all stopped to look up at the house because a light was on in the top floor window. And of course, because I was the youngest of us—by only two months, Belinda Johnston was born in June—they dared me to run up and ring the doorbell.
I was terrified. Why did they have to ask me? I couldn't back out. They'd think I was a baby. I'd never live it down.
So I did it. I pushed open the rusty gate that squeaked on its hinges and I hurried past all the long dead grass with tennis balls and frisbees and who knew what else kids had accidentally thrown over the fence and didn't dare retrieve hidden in in there and past the twisted, spiny shrubs on either side of the stairs—which creaked every step of the way, of course they did—and I looked back to see the other girls watching me with identical expressions of awe and terror and even though I was shaking from head to toe I reached up and rang the doorbell.
The bell rang out in the house and I felt my legs give out but I ran anyway, I stumbled down the stairs and all the way back to the sidewalk where the other girls all giggled nervously and hugged me. But when we looked up at the window again the light had turned off and that was it.
Over the intervening years I've walked past that house a hundred times, a thousand. I teach at the same school we went to, and I bought a house on a street near the place where my siblings and I grew up. I do that same walk twice a day, five times a week. And I still look up at that window, thinking maybe this time I'll see her, but secretly hoping I won't.
Because no one lived in that house. Not when we were kids and not now. It's been tied up in probate for forty years. The old woman's kids—she died a few years before I was born, I don't know whether or not she was a witch—they must be in their seventies by now, still fighting over who gets to pay all the back taxes. They live in Tulsa, from what I've heard.
I guess it could have been squatters up there in the attic. But who was eating all the Meals on Wheels deliveries?
Anyway, no posting until I get back from Duck Falls. I'm gonna save up all of my physical and mental strength for the weekend. It's going to be difficult for me, seeing that place again after so long. I know it will be.
If it wasn't for all of you counting on my report, I'd probably just chicken out, like I almost did that Halloween when I was eight or nine years old.
Oh, and for those of you asking on Twitter, I'm leaving Fluffer with my sister but I appreciate your offers to dog-sit!
Until next time… wish me luck!