Statement of Dr. Adelaide Simmons, regarding the events leading up to her leaving her home. Statement originally given April 19, 2015. Audio recording by Jonathan Sims, Head Archivist of the Magnus Institute, London. Statement begins.
The first thing I need you to understand is that I am not crazy. I have never done drugs. There is no history of mental illness in my family. I am a proud, well-respected professor of physiology teaching at a prestigious university. I. Am. Not. Crazy.
With that out of the way, I suppose I can begin. Ever since I was a child, I have been afraid of the dark. I suppose that’s common enough, right? I think, in all honesty, you’d be hard pressed to find a kid who isn’t afraid of the dark in some way or another. And, like a lot of kids, I don’t think I was actually afraid of the dark itself – I was afraid of what was in it. What could be in it. When I was six, it seems silly, but I was so convinced that when my parents turned the light off after tucking me in bed, there would be a crocodile in the corner of my room. I don’t know why a crocodile specifically, but I was positive it would appear there after they closed the door. I couldn’t see it, but that was the point, wasn’t it? I couldn’t see anything. Anything could have been there in the corner, waiting to attack.
I suppose it’s sort of funny then that my problems started with another common childhood fear – what was in the closet. It was a bright day, I remember that. Not a cloud in the sky. It must have been a weekend, because I remember I was at home in my living room, grading papers. I had the television on for background noise. I got a call from my mother – it was nothing important, just talking about this and that – so I had muted the TV. And then, when I had hung up, I heard it.
It was so faint, that I hardly noticed it. But it was there. Coming from my hallway closet, a quiet, gentle scratching sound. It was steady and rhythmic, almost as if it was being done intentionally – something which, now, I’m quite sure it was. But, at the time, I thought it was some sort of animal, perhaps a raccoon that somehow came in through the air ducts. I went to grab a walking stick from my room in case it attacked me, and threw open the door.
There was nothing there, and the noise stopped.
“No matter,” I thought. I assured myself it was a rat or a squirrel in my walls, made plans to call an exterminator, and more or less went on with my life.
It went on like that for a few days. It wasn’t strictly confined to just that closet – it just seemed to be coming from… well, from anywhere, really. Behind the walls, in the cupboards, in the closets. It was unfortunate, for sure, and I can’t say I enjoyed it. But it was an infestation of rats, I told myself, and there would be an exterminator soon enough, and that would be that.
It was about two weeks later when things started to get a bit more intense. It was nighttime. I was in my room. I was in bed, with the lamp on my nightstand on. I was just catching up on my reading when I heard it.
There was a knock on my bedroom knock. Or not a knock, no. A knock implies it’s being done with a hand. It sounded like someone threw their entire being into the door. It was just once, just one awful thud.
I looked at the door in shock. And then, it happened again. THUNK. The door shook. THUNK. The door shook again. It happened again and again, about once every fifteen seconds or so. Thank God my door was locked.
I tried to maintain my composure. I’m not an idiot. I read horror novels. I knew better than to open the door, thinking I could best whatever kept throwing itself at my door. So, quietly, I got up, propped a chair up against the door as a barricade, crawled back into bed and phoned the police. They sent someone over, and, of course, they didn’t find anything. No sign of entry, no sign of an intruder. At least they didn’t think I was fully lying, because they heard the thumping upon my door just as much as I did. They said it was probably just the house settling in, and left.
But there was one thing I noticed. When I saw the police car pull into my drive, their red and blue lights flashing through my window, there was one final, quiet thud, and then what sounded like scurrying away. And for whatever reason, in that moment, I thought, “Of course they’re leaving now. They hate the lights.” Not that they were afraid of the police – that they were afraid of the lights.
Before I went to bed that night, I turned the hallway light on.
I didn’t hear any more thudding that night.
And, again, for a while, that’s just how I lived. At some point I gave up on the pretense of it being a wild animal, especially after the exterminator came, had a look around, and said he saw nothing, even though all the color had drained from his face and he refused to look me in the eyes. It was like a game of cat and mouse, almost. I would hear it behind closed doors, and I would open them, filling them with light. I would hear ungodly noises from the basement, and as much as they bothered me, I knew all I had to do the next night was to leave all the lights on downstairs, and everything would be fine. It felt sort of… empowering, to be honest. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared, but also, I felt like I was in control. I knew it couldn’t be in the light, so as long as I was, I was safe. I felt like the kid at the zoo making funny faces at the tiger, knowing that there’s a big sheet of glass keeping them apart.
Besides, as I said earlier, I’d never been a fan of the dark. While the higher electric bill was a bit of a nuisance, I thought it was worth it. The fear of what exactly it was living in my house would creep into mind, and kept me up once or twice, but I was confident. I was sure that I had power over it, that I could be safe from it just as long as I kept all the lights on.
It started getting bolder with its methods. Any dark space, it snatched up. I remember the first time it opened a door. It was just a cupboard door, but it threw one open, and then another, and then another, every door in my kitchen was ajar. It wanted me to know with absolute certainty that it wasn’t just a passive being. It was startling, to be sure, but I drove to the nearest Tesco, bought those chintzy electric tealights they sell around the holidays, and put a fistful in every cupboard, content that that would keep it away.
Then it took to the fridge. The whole fridge would shake, those nights. I taped the light switch down on the fridge so the light inside stayed on, but as for the freezer… well, I couldn’t think of anything that worked in the long run. The cold would drain the battery of any flashlight too fast, and I couldn’t just put a candle in there. I had to tape it shut, because it would throw the door open from the inside at me. It gave me a nasty goose-egg once or twice. I ended up selling it and getting a new model that actually had a light up there.
The vents were the real problem. Even during the day, I could hear it in that maze of metal chutes, clawing about, banging on the walls from the inside. Some nights it would even scream and snarl from in there. That’s when I’d pop my headphones in, pretend it was just heavy construction, or a horror movie playing on the TV, and try to keep on with my life.
I don’t know why I never left. I certainly thought about it enough. I just kept telling myself that it was my house. Whatever being was trying to terrorize me had no precedent to do so. And besides, I was smart enough to deal with it. I was standing my ground.
I was a fool for that, of course.
There are so many dark places in a house. The insides of drawers. The space between your furniture and the wall. Even the inside of a box of junk in your basement. I forget exactly when it claimed the outside of my house too, banging itself on the walls every night, tearing off the siding. But for everything it tried, I thought I had a simple fix for it. I was so sure I could beat it.
It ended up winning, of course. It was a dark and stormy night – how cliché, I know. I was in bed. It was – well, every else it could have been. It was so loud that night. It kept pounding and pounding on the walls from the inside, so hard I thought it would break through. I knew it wouldn’t, though. That would mean jeopardizing what little territory it had left in my home.
It was raining so hard that night. I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming. I had so many flashlights, but not a single candle burning that night.
The lights went out.
Lightning struck a transformer box nearby, I found out later.
I am not crazy. I need you to believe me on this. What happened to me was not a hallucination. It was not a “trip”. It was not an “episode”. I am not crazy. I need you to believe me on this.
I need you to believe I’m not crazy, because I need you to believe that what attacked me was not hiding in the dark.
What attacked me was the dark.
Everything happened at once. I don’t think I could give you a beat by beat on what happened, not really. I heard the darkness slamming doors shut, knocking things over – anything to get rid of those last few points of light in my house. I got out of bed, and tried to run, but the air around me was so… thick. So sharp. So wet. And all around me, I heard it howling. The darkness was laughing at me, jeering.
I got as far as the living room, for what it’s worth. It was dark outside – or, no, that’s not it. The darkness was outside, too. I know, because it kept ramming itself against my windows, until finally it broke through, showering glass all over the floor.
The darkness was so thick there. I could no longer move through it. And I screamed, and only then did I realize how horribly, horribly dark it is inside your body.
I felt the darkness force itself in my mouth. It had already grabbed my arms and legs, immobilizing me. It shoved itself down my throat, into my lungs. It was choking me from the inside. And with its… claws, or talons, or whatever things the darkness had, it began to slash at me. Do you know what it’s like? To have every inch of your skin clawed away at, all at once? To have your lungs cut from the inside?
I don’t know what you’d call it – fate, divine intervention, even just good luck – but lighting struck just then, right outside my house. It had hit a tree in my yard. It had caught fire. Even with that glow being as faint as it was from inside, it seemed to be enough. Immediately, the darkness fled. It left my body – it must have been unable to exist by itself in my body, thank God. As I stumbled towards the door, I heard the darkness growing furious. Somewhere, I heard one of my doors being ripped from its jambs. I heard it striking the basement’s ceiling with such great force, that it tore up through the floor. I didn’t turn back to see the extent of the damage. I ran, as fast as my body would allow, towards the tree. Towards the fire.
That’s the last thing I remember. I blacked out. When I came to, they told me I’d been in a coma for almost a month. Some kind soul came down my drive to alert me about the tree, and when he saw me laying in my yard, bloody and raw, he drove me straight to the hospital. The doctors said my esophagus was lacerated – “it was like you swallowed a fistful of razors,” one said.
I was in the hospital for a while, recovering from the coma, treating my wounds, getting reconstructive surgery on my throat. I got two care baskets. The first was from my colleagues, and was quite sweet. It had a stuffed bear, a bouquet of flowers (though they had already begun to wilt when I woke up), all the usual stuff you’d send someone in a get-well-soon deal.
The nurses told me they didn’t see who left me the second one. It was a basket full of candles, of all shapes and sizes. The only note that was left on it read, “Here’s hoping you make it through your darkest hour. See you soon!”. It was signed with a little heart.
I told her to throw it away. I couldn’t bear to look at it.
I haven’t been back to my house since then. The police told me that it must have been a break-in. The “official story” was that some hoodlums took advantage of the outage to bust into my house and attack me. I know that’s not true. I know what happened to me.
I’ve been sleeping at my office. It’s not that bad. It’s hooked up to the same generator the hospital uses. I keep my lights on in my office, of course. Plus, I have a few lamps and flashlights scattered around. Officially, they won’t let me keep any candles around, but they’re sympathetic enough to me to let me have a few lit. Really, my only trouble is giving new members of the janitorial staff a fright.
I don’t fully know why what happened to me did. I don’t think I want to know. I miss living in my home, of course, but I’m done fighting. I just want to live a peaceful life.
I must be going now. The sun is starting to set. I don’t want to be caught in the dark, you understand.
Well, then. Attacked by the dark. While Dr. Simmons repeatedly insists that she was in a sound state of mind, I think perhaps she doth protest too much. Given that she already had a fear of the dark, I can see how her mind would trick her into thinking that everything that happened was a result of some dark force – quite literally, in this case.
It is true that police found her windows busted into, and that there was rampant destruction on the insides. I have to stand by their account, that they assaulted one very unfortunate Dr. Simmons, before fleeing due to the fire. Apparently, nothing of worth was taken, though the television, several lamps, and a small collection of plates were destroyed. The fridge had been knocked over, as well.
As for Dr. Simmons’ initial theory on a rat infestation, it turned out that she was actually on the right track. A crawlspace was found, leading to the bodies of a few dozen rats, all of which were dead. Exactly how the rats died is unclear, but they were found to be covered with long, shallow wounds. I suppose that’s what you get living in walls, running up against nails all the time.
What I find notable about this case is that Dr. Simmons worked with Dr. Elliot at King’s University. I sent Martin out to see if he could get a statement from either of them. He said that Dr. Simmons seemed happy enough, though he couldn’t imagine living in a room that bright. Dr. Elliot didn’t have anything of real import to say, only noting he remembered dropping off her gift basket. Still, two people at the same university being plagued by “supernatural” problems… I'll have to poke around to see if anyone else has had similarly eerie experiences.
As for her injuries… well, I’m not quite sure how to square that one away. Sasha got her medical records and, indeed, she was checked in with internal bleeding, esophageal lacerations, blood loss, loss of consciousness, the whole nine yards. I can't make heads or tails of it. My crackpot theory was she somehow inhaled some shards of glass, but Sasha quickly put me in my place, pointing out how improbable it was. I’ll look further into it.
There’s one final detail I can’t take my mind off of. The police record said that there were holes in the walls, likely made by whatever punks terrorized her. But in every picture, you can see that all the detritus on the floor. It doesn’t look like someone punched those holes in the wall. It looks like someone punched them out.