3 Movies to Watch When You're Done with Black Mirror's Bandersnatch.

So. Bandsersnatch. Here are two weird things that immediately preceded our viewing:

1. In an attempt to reach sixty blogs for 2018, I combed through old, unfinished drafts. One was about fan theories, specifically, about LOST being a psychological experiment.

2. My sister showed my best friend her favorite episode of Black Mirror titled Play Test. Which is thematically relevant, to say the least. I also talked to them about how true to the simulations industry and scenario design the episode really is. If I were insane, this would be a bad time to be...well...insane.

Luckily, I'm not. First, I'll share my favorite ending. Then, I'll give you three movies to cleanse your palate of the Black Mirrory-ness of it all.

We enjoyed several endings, none of which I will ruin for you here. After trying several variations of choices, I chose to end my experience with the "Do you want more action?" ending. Not only is it true to the era of the story, but it's also funny and self-aware. Two of my very most favorite things, especially when they're thrown together. If you need a palate-cleanser...

Here are 3 Movies to Watch When You're Done with Black Mirror's Bandersnatch

They'll take you back to the real 80's and put you in a great mood.

1. King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

2. Atari: Game Over

3. Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made

Remember when the world was simple? When the Thompson Twins were new? When Indiana Jones was young? When you could go to Jennifer and Kimberly's house and play Donkey Kong and Pong? When you were connected to the world around you and the summer smell of freshly mowed lawns left you to adventure in your imaginations instead of the internet on a tiny box phone? 

Okay, Audrey. Oddly specific. I guess Bandersnatch messed with my head, shifted me firmly into Nostalgia mode. Anyway. Music played an integral part in Bandersnatch, yes? Here's another movie moment for you that made excellent use of an 80's song. 

Where's your head after Bandersnatch? Are you feeling any better yet? 

P.S. Happy New Year!

3 Things I Still Love: Fan Theories

1. Toby is the Scranton Strangler

2. The Whedon-verse is all connected

Related: There was almost an animated Buffy series this famous fan opening by the talented Stephen Byrne gave us a taste. And there's a unified Pixar theory too.

3. LOST was a psychological experiment. A simulation designed to see how humans would perform and behave outside of their normal environments. How susceptible would they be to the power of suggestion? And so on and so forth.

Of course, the video explaining the theory is gone. So I'll explain. Briefly. This excellent theory claimed origination from cast and crew who worked on season one. No proof was offered. But all the dots connected story-wise. That is, until the series was so successful, it needed to be extended and milked for all it was worth. Along with J.J. Abrams famous "mystery box" philosophy at the heart of the series.

Among other ideas, the psychological experiment theory claimed:

1. the plane crash was a simulation

2. actors were planted within the group of survivors (John Locke was one.)

3. this is why there were animals on the island beforehand, specifically animals anachronistic to the physical environment, hence the polar bear

4. the time travel wasn't real, the controllers just wanted to see if they could get people to accept extremely unlikely circumstances as part of the experiment

There have been countless fan theories, but this is my favorite. The simplicity of it makes sense. It explains the plot holes, the numbers, the significantly named characters, and why things went off the rails story-wise in such non-specific and confusing ways as  TV networks knew they had a gold mine to keep...well, mining.

I personally thought God (Jacob) and the Devil (the man in black) had been fighting over mankind's right to exist. In my mind, they were going seven rounds and this was the seventh and final, which is why it was so important.

But back to my theory. Because what kind of writer would I be if I didn't arrogantly assert my own theory?

Each time humanity failed to prove their goodness, God restarted the world. Hence the four-toed statue, as evidence of one of the failed past civilizations. I thought many of the selfless acts of sacrifice, and the many ways people changed for the better, would help Jacob win the final round, allowing the Earth and humanity to continue existing.

Related: My embarrassing TV rants have gotten some of my highest hit counts ever. Here's the tantrum I threw the day after LOST ended, my Medium finale reaction, and my Magnum P.I. rant.

3 of the Best Film Analysts on YouTube

1. Lindsay Ellis

2. Rob Ager at Collative Learning

3. Be Kind Rewind

2019 Character Study - Lara Croft

I love doing this and I do it every year.

To use a poetic, mature term, in 2018, I was kind of a wimp. Whiny. Weak. In all fairness, I survived a major medical thing. The consequences of which I'm still dealing with. But I'd like to say goodbye to weak, vulnerable, sad sack Audrey and reconnect with one of my earliest inspirations.

Lara friggin' Croft.

And I'm not talking about prequel Lara. Bruised and battered, scared Lara. I don't even mean movie Lara. I mean grown-up, closet full of adventuring clothes, runs a mansion gaming Lara. She's disciplined. She's goal-focused. She doesn't suffer fools. She eats right and exercises often, and most importantly, she knows how to do a great french braid.

Well, okay. Maybe it's not the most important. But it's pretty handy.

Who's your fictional role model for the upcoming year?


Eartha Kitt's Vocal Performance for Yzma

You never know how long these banned videos will last on YouTube. Enjoy this 2002 "making of" (directed by Trudie Styler) for The Emperor's New Groove while you can. It's titled The Sweatbox and the whole doc is pretty great.

You can also skip ahead to 10:38, 23:10, 51:32, and 1:09:56 to see Eartha Kitt working her absolute magic in the studio and in her real life.


The 2018 Christmas Monorail Resort Tour at Walt Disney World

Jake and I have always been bad at traditions. Usually, it's because we're working on different projects when the holidays roll around. It's tough to repeat a celebration if you don't know what state you'll be in. Side Note: I accidentally typed, "when the holidays toll around." For whom the It's a Wonderful Life bell tolls, am I right?


We finally managed to cement a tradition. I flew back from my museum in the mid-west and we managed to get sushi at Disney's Polynesian Resort on Christmas Eve two years in a row. AND we brought one of our very best friends.

And hey, if you're going to the Polynesian, you might as well ride the monorail and see it all. So this is Christmas 2018 from Walt Disney World.


You Must Whip It

Gerald Carale, the founding member of DEVO, wrote an in-depth treatise about capitalism. Again. BoingBoing.net posted this last week and it's worth a read.

I've been doing a deep dive into the sites I first loved when I started Born for Geekdom a DECADE ago. A decade, you guys. Ten years. Ten yeeeeeeaaaaaarrs.

*Please feel free to read the rest of this post in the voice of Minnie Driver from Grosse Pointe Blank*

It was pretty much BoingBoing.netWilWheaton.net, and Doombuggies.com for me back then. And that was plenty. That and my Indiana Jones-themed Myspace page.

Anyway, I love Devo. In middle school, my youth minister told me Devo was from the devil. Simon and Garfunkel too. And my little music-obsessed heart broke right into two sad pieces. I don't know. Maybe he was right. Eternity will tell.

Mark Mothersbaugh has since become a hero of mine. He's a master of tone and one of many from the pop pantheon who have gone on to the wonderful world of film score. (hullo, Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo)

I used to visit this spot with DEVO's handprints in San Francisco. It was a happy place. Still is. I dream of a day when Mark Mothersbaugh scores one of my projects. As far as dreams go, that's pretty pipe-shaped, I realize. But you never know.

What were you perusing on the internet ten years ago? Who is your favorite 80's musician/film score genius/capitalist essayist? Do you even want to think back that far or should we give the past the slip?

(I'm sorry. I had to.)


Speaking of the Tower of Terror...let's muse

I've been thinking a lot about The Twilight Zone since my post the other day. You know what makes me happiest about The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror? The mystery.

I feel the same about The Haunted Mansion. It's the mystery in between the spots of well-defined narrative. It's the objects in the library that don't have a story. The tiny bits of detail in the Boiler Room that remind me of walking through the bowels of The Queen Mary.

It's all that wonderful possibility. Let's think about it while we look at some pics I took the last time I was there...


It's December

You know what that means.

It's time for this:

And this:

Shut up, Wesley.

What's on your annual holiday geek watchlist?

Three Places to Get Your Twilight Zone Fix While You Wait for the New Show

Twilight Zone mini-golf

I recently discovered a Twilight Zone-themed golf course in Las Vegas. I was so overjoyed, I thought I'd make a list of a few more places fans can get a fix while we wait for Jordan Peele's (sure-to-be-brilliant) new iteration.

1. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida. I particularly enjoy the glee-like fear everyone experiences at the end of the ride as they notice the ventriloquist dummy from the aptly-named episode The Dummy. It's situated uncomfortably close to the ride vehicle.

(Eagle-eyed fans will also notice a lot more props in the ride and the exit through the gift shop.)

2. There was also a very nineties made-for-tv movie based on the ride, which is itself, based on the show. It's creepy turtles all the way down. By the way, I love the movie and I'm not sorry. It was the dry run for the theatrical Pirates of the Caribbean movies. So we owe it a lot.

Fun bonus fact: Melora Hardin who played Jan on The Office plays an old-timey nightclub singer in the movie. She was also a singer in The Rocketeer.

3. Last but certainly not least, I've been bingeing a lot of Blank on Blank lately. Rod Serling's episode is nothing short of spectacular. Enjoy.

More Spaceship Librarian Is Coming

I shared an update on Instagram the other day. I'm ridiculously excited, even though my progress on this project has been glacial. But hey, slow and steady is much better than not happening at all, right?


When You've Been Sick for So Long...

...that you just sing this song over and over again in your head between loud, dry coughs. Thanks, Midwestern winter!

*air five transitions into slow motion rocking back and forth*


When Your Horse Doesn't Like You

Optional Pre-Reads
For anyone confused by the whimsy and glitter and puppetry of it all.

Part 1

What I Learned Growing Up with a Mom Who Did Singing Telegrams

Part 3

When Your Horse Doesn’t Like You

To my imaginative, creative mother, horses meant prosperity and dignity. She sketched them in whimsical shades of pink and blue with curly manes and purple stripes. Sometimes they had wings. Usually glitter.

In an effort to share the inspiration, my parents once scavenged a carousel horse for me. Mom painted it white with rainbow zebra stripes. Dad hung it on a trellis in the back yard. I must’ve been four or five.

I'd happily swing back and forth until I got too high. The chains would catch. I'd fly through the air, land in the grass, cry for a few minutes, go inside, have a popsicle, then come back out and repeat the whole routine. Knowing the horse could throw me, at any moment, offered a strange bonus thrill. An adrenaline rush.

History, it turns out, would repeat itself. And you know what they say about history, those who don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. In fact, history has a lot of helpful advice for avoiding calamity. But hindsight is always twenty-twenty...there's a lesson in here somewhere amidst this Mike Brady paroxysm.

I promise I'll get to it at the end.

This Crimes of Grindelwald Promotional Video from Marie Claire You Need To See

Forget the fact that Dan Fogler is a charming, hilarious gem. Forget the fact we're all discovering Ezra Miller's edginess. Just. Please, please watch this video from 3:03 to 4:45 for a good laugh.

Ooh, ooh...how about a show called Dan Fogler Reacts? Where we just show Dan Fogler weird stuff and he, you know, reacts. I'd watch. 

For the record, I love it when actors get fatigued during press junkets. I know it's schadenfreude, but it's funny schadenfreude, which is the best kind. Also, it happens a lot, mostly because actors get locked in rooms for hours on end where they're forced to answer the same three or four questions ad nauseum. It's enough to make anyone slap happy. But this is a new level. A whole. 'Nother. Level.

Conan O'Brien Has a New Podcast

Get thee hence, comedy nerds!

Bonus Conan Content:

1. Here's my all-time favorite Conan remote.
2. Here's a thing I wrote about Conan that went moderately viral back in the day.


All the References in Hail, Caesar!

I haven't watched The Ballad of Buster Skruggs yet. When I do, I know I'll get that type-A itch to catalog all the references. I have a listing problem when it comes to classic film. But we all have problems.

Below you'll find my guide* to all the classic film references in the highly underrated Hail, Caesar! Plus, here's another time I wrote about The Coen Brothers and their predilection for western structure.

Now, onto the show...

The Coens have written yet another incredible detective story. This one is filled with fictionalized versions of real Hollywood figures. Their dreamlike universe is a nice place to visit if you already know the referential sites. If you're new to Old Hollywood, it might've been a little confusing.

It would be easy for me to wax not-so-poetic about how much I loved Hail, Caesar! A more helpful contribution might be a primer to the film's many references.

If you're a Lebowski fan, but couldn't find your way into Hail Caesar!, read this list, then try again.

Question 1: What was up with Channing Tatum's character?

Answer: He was an homage to Gene Kelly.  His introductory dance number in Hail, Caesar! is a specific reference to Anchors Aweigh and On The Town. 


If I get one shot at introducing you to Gene Kelly, I want you to start with Cover Girl. Once you fall in love with him (and you will) you can proceed to Singin' In The Rain and THEN to Anchors Aweigh.

In Hail Caesar!, the Coen brothers pose a hypothetical question. What would the world have been like if McCarthy's communism fears were founded?

Gene Kelly WAS the red-blooded American man in film at the time, so the juxtaposition of him being a Russian spy is too clever for any more of my dumb words.

The real takeaway here is that a great reaction to all unreasonable political movements is to have the Coen Brothers make spoof movies about them as though they were true.

Here's Gene:

These Gene Kelly movies will also show you how much you should appreciate some of the dead ringers they cast for Rita Hayworth, Phil Silvers, gossip journalist Hedda Hopper, and all the other iconic personalities of that era.

Question 2: Who was this lady supposed to be?

Answer: She was an homage to Carmen Miranda, an actress who makes me feel too much appreciation to write anything that's not super saccharine. (I once wrote a script for her. Even though she's dead.)

Just watch her shiny light shine ridiculously bright in the clip below.

Here's Beautiful, Shiny, Graceful Carmen:

Question 3: Who was Josh Brolin?

Answer: Eddie Mannix, who was a real person. The idea that the Coen Bros. turned him into the earnest hero of the film is another intricate puzzle piece of what makes Hail, Caesar! such a treat for history buffs.

You can learn all you need to know about the real Eddie from this episode of the podcast You Must Remember This. Then, enjoy the shame and ridicule of your friends and family as you abandon your entire life for about a month to listen to every episode of this engrossing show.

Don't worry, it'll be worth it. (Someone sent me the podcast after I started drafting this and I had to go back and add a link. I'm freshly obsessed.)

Question 4: Is the movie within the movie Hail, Caesar! a reference?

Answer: Yep! to Ben Hur, a movie I genuinely love. You should too. It says so much about the world at the time the movie was made (1959) and movies at the time that movie was made and the way we reflect on it now says so much about our cynical culture and if you'll excuse me, I'm sinking into a pit of pretentious quicksand...

Anyway, here's Ben Hur:

Question 5: Who was Scarlett Johansson?

Answer: Esther Williams. People have forgotten that water ballet was, at one time, intensely popular. Most people think it's a Miss Piggy joke. Maybe they kind of know about synchronized swimming from the Olympics...or from the classic Martin Short/Harry Shearer SNL skit.

What's that, you say? People don't know that either? I'm getting older and therefore my references are more obscure?

For some reason, Esther Williams has not stuck to the collective pop culture consciousness like she should've. But her career was storied. Between her live shows and films, she was an absolute force with no current equivalent.

And I adored Scarlett Johansson's performance. Let's hear it for the juxtapositional comedy of an elegant swimmer being a sassy troubled dame!

Here's Esther in one of my favorites:

P.S. Laurence Laurentz was Howard Hawks, right? If so, I'm sneaking in one more. My favorite Howard Hawkes movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

I think that's just about as much classic film geekdom as the internet can handle today. Bye, for now.

*This article was originally posted at AudreyBrown.net on 2.6.16

3 Good Geek Things To Get You Through the Holidays

And now, 3 Good Geek Things To Get You Through the Holidays. These selections are ushering me through a weird season of life. If you're enduring the start of a hectic time too and you need a brief, mental respite, use these. They help.

1. The Gryffindor Common Room

I go to sleep every night in the Gryffindor Common room. The original Pottermore sorting quiz placed me in Slytherin. The recently updated quiz sorted me into Ravenclaw. So I don't know why I'm hanging around with the goody-goodies in Gryffindor. But I am.

The sound of the crackling fire comforts me. The look of the room itself takes me back to my days at Universal Orlando, when I'd get out of dance rehearsal and ride Forbidden Journey four times in a row. Every day. Very happy times, indeed.

2. I Was There Too

Specifically, this episode featuring my favorite, your favorite, EVERYONE'S FAVORITE, Vasquez from Aliens, Jenette Goldstein. True story, the day after I started drafting this, I was flipping channels and found Star Trek: Generations. I paused to watch for a few minutes and guess who was on the bridge? Jenette Goldstein.

If you like smart podcasts, I highly recommend this and this. True story, I accidentally typed Malcom McDowell instead of Malcolm Galdwell while searching for a link (because Star Trek) and guess what? Malcolm McDowell has his own podcast.

3. Film Score, Film Score, and more Film Score (with a side of They Might Be Giants)

Film score is restful for the ears and the mind. These are my personal favorite playlists on Spotify. 

WRITE by Yours Truly
ON STRENGTH also by me

I think Ludwig Goransson's Black Panther will likely be my favorite score of 2018. And TMBG is going to take song of the year with this one.

I've been making a playlist every year of my life since 2013. I officially close them out on Dec. 31st and they can never be altered after that day. Embarrassing or otherwise. 

I can read these playlists the way mystics in movies decipher tea leaves or thrown bones. 2013 was a rager filled with nostalgia. It was walks around Lost Lake in Florida and new tattoos. 2014 was driving back and forth from TeachLive. It was hopeful and happy and filled with connective tissue. 2015 and 2016 were long walks in San Francisco. Work stress, plane flights, and political upheaval. 2017 was almost a lost year, aside from some great work in Washington D.C. I spent the rest of it locked away in an office writing one-off screenplays that I never revised. 

This year? This year has been a grab bag. Chicago, New York, Indy, Orlando...as Johnny Cash would say, I've been everywhere, man. I'm almost certain I finally found my landing spot. Almost. I can't tell if I'm hiding or making a good move for the long term. Either way, 2018's playlist is long walks in Florida, thoughts of returning to dancing, trips to the hospital, and autumn in Indiana. 

Not that anyone needs an intimate peek into my psyche, but just in case...

What will be your mental retreat in November and December? What strikes your fancy right now as relaxing, intelligent, or inspirational?


31 Days of Halloween

I know October is almost over. By now, you've probably seen the new Halloween, The Haunting of Hill House, and our sweet, beloved Hocus Pocus and Nightmare Before Christmas about 43 times. (And if you haven't, what are you waiting for?)

If you're all funned out, if your inspiration is waning, check this list I made a few years ago. It has suggestions you may have overlooked. Some are cult classics, others will be new to you.

31 Days of Halloween

Ghost Story is an important precursor to movies like What Lies Beneath. Robert Wise's The Haunting is the foundation for The Haunting of Hill House. If you're a chicken like me, there are plenty of cop-outs. I highly recommend Transylvania 6-5000 and High Spirits, flicks we simply must do more to push into the cult classic category.

If you're looking for some fun reads, I re-edited my dorky FanFiction (totally safe for work, the playground, church, etc.) Mulder and Scully Visit the Haunted Mansion.

I also shared my poem Monsters' Girlfriends via Twitter and Instagram. Because I'm needy. 

Happy Halloween! What are you watching?


Mulder and Scully Investigate the Haunted Mansion

My favorite episodes of The X-Files were always "monster of the week". In my opinion, the very best of these were The Ghosts Who Stole Christmas, Triangle, and Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.  In the grand tradition of weird one-offs, I bring you my very own X-Files episode, wherein Mulder and Scully investigate The Haunted Mansion


Photo via DisneyAvenue.com
Scully visited a lot of unexpected places with Mulder, but none this ridiculous. Over the years, the two saw tiny towns, big government facilities, and worst of all, Los Angeles

No, she thought, this is the new winner. No doubt about it.

Scully's flashlight danced across a nearby sign. She read it aloud, making sure to keep the two words distinct, “Haunted. Mansion." They emerged with all the sarcasm she could muster as she looked up at Mulder from under thick eyelashes. “Just when I think…” her words trailed off but she held her gaze. 

“Come on,” he smiled and walked ahead on the winding, well-manicured path. Scully followed reluctantly through the wrought iron gate. 

She turned off her flashlight and let out a long deep sigh, “We don’t even need these.” She held it aloft. Behind her, a workman in a hard hat drove a cherry picker, very slowly. The machine beeped in a comical, exaggerated rhythm.

Mulder turned to comment. She silently and emphatically gestured at the workman. She was out of words. All she had left was an incredulous pantomime. He smiled, turned around, and continued down the path. Scully let her head fall backward for just a moment, then trudged on, looking defeated.

Moments later, they stood at the front door to the picturesque white manor. Mulder broke the silence, “What's wrong? Christmas flashbacks?”

“Sure. I’m terrified by all the atmospheric maintenance workers,” she said in full deadpan. Almost as if on cue, the cherry picker backed up again in the distance. She looked toward the sound and then back to Mulder, “Weren’t we supposed to have an escort?” 

“Escorts? We don’t need no stinkin' escorts.” He searched for a way to open the door from the outside. The handle didn't work.

“Mulder, they specifically told us to wait…”

“What’s the matter? Afraid of a little mouse?” He was still preoccupied with the door. 

“Do you ever tire of reverse psychology?” Scully took out her phone, ready to dial.

“Not when it works so well.” The door opened on its own. He smiled wide and stepped aside. She placed her phone in her pocket and walked into the darkness. He followed. The door closed slowly and gently behind them.


They walked into a small receiving room. Lamps on the wall and a chandelier above flashed an artificial flicker. Organ music drifted in through nearby speakers. Scully turned her flashlight back on; Mulder promptly swatted it down. “You're gonna ruin the magic.”

“Honestly Mulder, this is a very large corporation we’re dealing with here. In fact, one of the biggest in the world. You obviously blew off our corporate liaison. We’re backlogged with actual cases that need our attention and you very likely put us over our travel budget for the month to get here. If you wanted a break, you could’ve said so. You’ve never been one to flash your badge to get…”

“You always do this,” he said. He seemed the opposite of bothered. His shoulders relaxed.

“Do what?”

“Whistle in the dark. You talk in circles when you’re nervous.”

"Irrelevant," she said. The faux antique wall in front of them slid open. They stepped into the center of the next room. Scully looked around for a few moments. The octagonal chamber had striped wallpaper and dark wood wainscoting. Painted portraits hung on every other wall. Wooden gargoyles held electric candles. Mulder pointed them out.

"Just like the kind you see in windows at Christmas," Mulder clarified, "The candles, not the gargoyles."

A voice began a pre-recorded spiel. Mulder had to shout so Scully could hear him over the soundtrack. “Our liaison is meeting us at the start of the ride. Your theory about me playing corrupt cop to get in for free is a good one. Just one problem. They called us.”

“This isn’t the start of the ride?”

He stopped. “Come on, didn’t you ever come here when you were a kid? Didn’t you ever dream of riding alone? Get into the spirit of things.” He raised his eyebrows again at the word spirit.

“I grew up in San Diego, remember? It was kind of a drive.”

“You’ve never been here before? I just assumed,” Mulder didn't even try to hide his shock. 

Scully shrugged her shoulders.

“Not even YouTube? Nothing?” He smiled. This wasn't the first time he pop culture shamed her. When he did, she usually reminded him that the majority of her youth was spent achieving. While everyone else partied in college, she fixated on graduate work, then her doctorate, then the Academy, and ultimately, the FBI. After all that, he'd call her Clarice a couple times, then give up when she ignored him. This time, they skipped the routine.

“It’s just a ride, Mulder.”

“Boy are you in for a treat.” The lights went out, a high pitched scream permeated the darkness. When the lights came back on, Mulder was an inch away from her, his face frozen in mock fear. Scully was less than amused. He backed away, looking sheepish.

Another wall slid open. This one led to a long hallway. On the left, billowing lace curtains framed tall windows. On the right, a row of cartoonish portraits lined the wall. Lightning struck periodically, illuminating glow-in-the-dark, sinister overlays of the paintings. 

Mulder stepped aside and extended his arm, showing her the way. She didn’t budge. He acquiesced. “I’ll go first.” Speaking aloud to no one in particular, he asked, “Can we get some lights here?"

“I’m not some stoic harpy. I might even make the odd pop culture reference myself from time to time. But yes, Mulder, this does bear a certain similarity to the last haunted house we visited.” She made air quotes when she said the words haunted and house. “I just like to know what I’m walking into, or next to,” Scully looked at the portraits on the wall to her right. Their eyes followed her. “Cute,” she said.

Mulder turned back to her, “What’s cute?”

She pointed at the eyes. “You know…” She took a few steps backward, then forward again. The eyes still followed.

He smiled, “Uh…they’re not supposed to do that.”

“Mulder, if you don’t start treating this like an actual case, I’m walking. Right here, right now.”

“I’m serious. I’ve never seen them do that before.” He walked up to the last portrait on the wall, a medusa. He stood in place but swayed back and forth. “Sure enough,” he said aloud as the Medusa's eyes followed.

“Well, they’ve probably changed the effects since you were a kid,” Scully said. Mulder looked sheepish and tried to seem busy. He scanned the wall more intently. “A teenager?” Scully tried to hide a smile by looking down and covering her face with her hand. “When was the last time you visited?”

“Last week. For research,” he admitted. “I didn’t expense it.”

This time, Scully took the lead. She stopped at the end of the hallway in front of two marble busts. She reached up to touch one of them. “What do these do?”

Mulder looked confused. “These shouldn’t be here. I mean, not like this. They’re supposed to be an optical illusion. A relief.”

Scully turned around while Mulder took pictures with his phone. She asked, “Where do we go now? Another secret door?” He stopped taking pictures and turned to his right.

“There should be a space right here. I mean, this is where the ride starts. Right here.” He ran his hands over the wood looking for seams. He even pushed on the wall.

Scully was almost ready to have fun until she noticed Mulder switch into serious investigation mode. He turned his flashlight on and aimed it at the busts. He searched every corner of the room while Scully did the same. “You need to give me some context, Mulder.”

He finally started talking like a grown-up, “The ride has been functioning normally. But every day for the last two weeks, guests have complained about changes. Not that complaints aren't standard for theme park geeks. They don’t always take so well to upgrades. But people were saying some scenes were too violent. Too scary. Children were running out screaming." She raised an eyebrow in his general direction, "More than usual. Guest services reported the complaints, but as far as maintenance and managers could tell, the ride was exactly the same. Until they looked at security footage, where they saw that entire rooms were…"

“Changing?” Scully pushed on a windowpane, testing its strength. It wasn’t going anywhere. She tried, to no avail, to pull up a corner of the carpet as Mulder continued.

“Changes that would’ve taken weeks were manifesting on the ride in the middle of the day. The company assumed hackers were altering to the footage digitally and the people making complaints were part of it. They thought maybe someone was trying to pull a Banksy. Making a statement about copyright. If you want to talk about something haunting a company…wait,” he took a soft jog back toward the now-closed sliding door they used to get here. He stopped to orient himself for a minute rubbing his forehead, turning from right to left, then back to right again, “It should be here.”


“The chicken exit,” he said as he parted some curtains. Behind them was an average-looking door. Mulder looked triumphant. Scully pushed it open. They aimed their flashlights into the stairwell ahead. 

“Mulder,” she said, unable to tear herself away from the sight.


“We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”


Their flashlights illuminated a stairway full of bizarre trinkets, small statuettes haphazardly tied to railings by yarn. Crude markings were drawn on the wall. Small mason jars of unidentifiable liquid sat in neat, organized rows on the concrete floor.

“Scully, what does this look like to you?” he asked as he bent down and picked up a jar filled with red liquid.

“Some form of voodoo. Hoodoo, maybe? But it doesn’t look...authentic. There’s something off about it. Homespun, almost.” She took the jar from Mulder’s hands, unscrewed it, dipped a finger in, and inspected the contents.

“Blood?” he asked.

“Paint,” she offered him a sniff of the jar. “Acrylic.”

She put it back down and looked for a place to clean her finger. She settled on the inside of her blazer and aimed her light at the walls.

“Some of these symbols though, they don’t really match. That one’s Egyptian,” she said pointing to an eye.

“But this,” she grabbed one of the small statues tied to the stairwell, a black and white skeleton. “This is Mexican, meant to be used on the Day of the Dead. And that,” she pointed to a dimly lit prayer candle at the top of the landing, “…is a Catholic prayer candle you can buy at a grocery store.”

Mulder couldn’t help it. He glanced at the delicate gold crucifix around Scully's neck, then looked away quickly. “Maybe somebody wasn’t getting a long enough lunch hour...decided to skip human resources for another alternative.”

“This is hastily thrown together, but it does make a kind of sense.”


“This is death worship, Mulder, from multiple cultures. Some of it ancient, some very contemporary.”

“What are you saying? Somebody watched too much Bergman and wants to play a quick game of chess?”

“Not badly enough to use real blood. I can’t speculate on their aim, but it's ritualistic which suggests a deep emotional motive,” Scully said. “Practitioners of these types of traditions claim to need energy in order to manifest…whatever it is they want. Despite misconceptions, there’s no real energy in a cemetery, or so they claim. And there aren’t any modern American temples dedicated to death. At least, not any commonly known. But this? If you believe in that sort of thing...”

Mulder continued her thought for her, “Talk about putting the magic in magic kingdom." 

"Where else do thousands of people a day come to look for...death?" Scully walked back through the chicken exit and found herself standing in the hallway again. “Hey, Mulder?” she called.

He walked through the door. She pointed up. “I think we missed something.”

Mulder’s head popped through the curtain. Scrawled on the ceiling were the words “All we have to do now, is take these lies and make them true somehow.”

“I know my Biblical texts, even apocryphal scrolls. But I don't know this,” she continued searching the ceilings.

Mulder smiled again. “You wouldn’t. They're George Michael lyrics.” He started to sing George Michael's Freedom. Off key. “I won’t let you down, I will not give you up. Gotta have some faith in the…” he stopped.

Scully’s mouth was hanging open.

“No? Nothing? You know JAWS, but you never listened to the radio? MTV? It’s a song, Scully!” A third voice interrupted. A slender blonde man in a well-pressed Disney uniform breezed through the now open space at the other end of the long hallway.

He sang loud and on key, “I won’t let you down! So please don’t give me up! Cause I would really, really love to stick around. Oh yeah!” The harsh glare of their flashlights was suddenly on him. He shielded his eyes.

“Hey! Those aren't consistent with show lighting!”

They lowered their flashlights but didn't move or speak. The man smiled wide, "Off, please." They obliged, clicking the lights into instant darkness.

Mulder spoke up, “And you are?”

“Your liaison, silly! I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” Mulder and Scully looked at each other, conveying a thousand words of surprise and confusion without having to say a single one out loud.

The man cheerfully gestured for them to follow, then whipped around the corner. They lingered for a moment too long. The man popped his head around the corner, this time sounding a little terse. "Guys?" They followed immediately. Scully took the opportunity to gesture to the lyrics on the walls. She held up her paint-stained finger. The shades matched perfectly.  

The role of corporate liaison
goes to Tom Lenk.

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*Repost from AudreyBrown.net