Halloween 2022 - Whispers in the Walls
It’s Halloween 2022, which means it’s time for me to post my annual Halloween Solo Journaling Game. This year I am playing Whispers in the Walls by Pandion Games and written by Andrew Boyd.  Whispers in the Walls is available on itch.io.  In Whispers, you are investigating a crime or event. Many of the clues you find are discovered by listening or watching what the walls and rooms tell you.

The game is played using a standard 52-card deck with 2 Jokers.  Following specific guidelines, you create a nine-card deck that will reveal the prompts for each page of your journal. The first card/journal entry sets the location for your story.  The remaining eight cards prompt you as you visit different rooms in that location. The final card also doubles as the prompt for ending the story.

I began by drawing my first card to set my location. Then, before writing the first journal entry, I developed a background of events that led to my being in that particular location.

One last word before the story begins. I am formatting this adventure a little differently than my past journaling posts.  Instead of listing the prompts with each post I will be presenting the narrative of the story first. Then, when it is complete, I will post the prompts I drew for the game and any other notes I want to share about the experience.


Background: I used to work for the insurance company of Madison and Baines as a claim investigator looking into supposed medical injuries. I would interview neighbors, take pictures and videos, and watch claimants. While I would occasionally reveal a true case of insurance fraud, most of the time the company would simply use the information I gathered to reduce the payments of legitimate claims by as much as possible. It was slimy work, but I was good at it.  Some said I had a sixth sense to just know when something was off, or compared me to a bloodhound because I could “sniff out” lies and deceptions.

After four years of working for M&B I’d had enough of their greed and decided to strike out on my own. Okay, to be fair, while their underhandedness was a factor, the real reason was that I wanted more exciting cases. I wanted crime, missing people, and cheating spouses.  The juicy stuff. My shingle had been hung out for barely a week when a middle-aged woman walked into my one-room office. I’d like to say she was an attractive blonde in a tight dress with mysterious eyes and a husky voice, like in those old detective noir films. But she was nothing like that. She was of medium build and wore jeans and a solid purple sweatshirt. Her dull brown hair was frazzled and unkempt. She wore no makeup, revealing dark circles under her eyes. Needless to say, she was a bit distraught.

Her daughter Karin was missing. The police were convinced she was a runaway. Single parent home, the father left years ago without a forwarding address. Mother working two jobs to make ends meet, leaving the daughter alone to fend for herself. Poor grades. Sketchy group of friends. All the classic signs.

But her mother wasn’t convinced. For all their troubles, she assured me they had a happy home life. Karin had plans. She was looking at colleges, even though she was still a junior in high school.  She even hoped to start a summer job waiting tables at the Pork Pit, the local BBQ restaurant. Her daughter wouldn’t run away. Something must have happened to her.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have much to go on. I asked my client a lot of questions, developed a list of people to talk to, then went and asked them a lot of questions. While no one knew where Karin was, a common statement was that her favorite place was South Creek Elementary School, where she was a student during some of the happiest years of her childhood. The school was closed several years ago after a newer facility was built. It was sold to a developer, but so far nothing had been done with it. The building and surrounding area were falling into disrepair.

Whenever Karin was depressed or wanted to be alone, her friends said she would go to the old school, sneak inside, and spend hours there alone. Of course, the police searched the building when she was reported her missing, but they found no sign of her . . . alive or dead. Still, something may have been overlooked, so that’s where I’m going to search next.
Journal 1 (Location):

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The Case of The Missing Teen. (Need to think of a better name.)

Early evening. It will be dark soon. South Creek Elementary is several hundred feet off the main road. Surrounded by vegetation. Not easily visible from homes. Still, quick in - quick out - best course of action.

Outer fence was easy to climb.  Found unlocked door. In classroom. Posters on the walls - Goosebumps books, cartoonish Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster. Pumpkin faces. Obviously Halloween. Signs of a party. Candy wrappers. Old paper cups and plates in trash. Was school closed right after Halloween? And no one cleaned up?  Need to check on history of school. Probably not relevant but now I’m curious.

Dirty chalkboard. Remnants of word list: Anticipate, Catastrophe, Genuine, Suspense. Vocabulary or Spelling lists?  Was this an English class?  Book posters suggest that.

Will make this my base of operations.  Big metal teacher's desk. Good place to take notes, organize my thoughts.

Sun is going down.  Place is creepy.
Journal 2: 

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Police found nothing on their search. Perhaps only a cursory search of the main floor?  Need to check basement. 

Dark. Using flashlight. Musty smell. Water dripping.  Leaky pipes? Doesn’t explain formations. Spikes from the ceiling. Drips form spikes rising from the floor. Stalactites? Stalagmites? But how?  Don’t those take years to form? And in a building?  

[Sketch of stalactites and stalagmites]

What started as a few small protrusions grew in size and number as I walked further along the halls and entered what appeared to be a storeroom. Columns larger. Closer.  Had to squeeze through.  How did the police miss this?

Heard a sound. Whimpering. Followed to a corner of the room.  Dog. Mangy mutt. It was scared. Pulled back from me. It was missing a leg.  Fresh injury. Looked torn. Bleeding bad. 

Used flashlight to trace blood trail. Followed as far as I could before stalactites got too dense to pass. Are they growing that fast? 

Don’t want to be trapped. Tried to get dog to follow me, but it just snapped back. Bleeding bad. Can’t help it.  Have to leave it. 

Journal 3: 

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On the way back to the classroom I spot a puddle on the floor in the hall. Getting larger. Growing?  Surface rippled. Bead of water falls . . . up!? Nature in reverse? More drops raise.

Compelled I reached out and caught a drop. Smells salty.  Tastes like tears.

Where the water (tears?) hit the ceiling I see a faint greenish glow.  It formed a picture. Couldn’t see very well standing up. Layed on my back Looked up. 

Faces. Children, roughly 8 to 10 years old. Students? Boys. Girls. One looks similar to a picture Karin as a child her mother showed me.

[Sketch of faces, some fading]

Slowly, faces begin to fade.  More water flies up but fading doesn’t stop. Drops turn to streams. Then to a geyser.

Struggled to get to my feet as the collected waters poured off the ceiling back down on top of me.

I ran from the crying ceiling!
Journal 4:

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Weird things.  Need to investigate more. Headed out to another room. Smocks hang on hooks. Paint jars on the shelves. Boxes of Crayons. Stacks of construction paper. The Art Room!

Half-finished projects rest on the small tables.  Artwork is pinned to the walls. Before I got a good look something caught my eye.

A sculpture of hand hung on the wall. Attached midway to the elbow. Marble?  Exquisitely detailed.  Advanced - even for a sixth grader. No seams. Is it part of the wall.?

[Sketches of arm on the wall]

Suddenly, a button formed on the wall a few feet away. Two more right next to it. A fourth. A fifth! Soon the shape of an entire hand pushed through the wall. Not through exactly. but the wall became a hand. Another formed. Then another.  Soon a dozen small, childlike arms, or sculptures of arms, covered the wall, all pointing at something. The artwork across the room.

My flashlight reveals homemade Valentine's Day cards. Each one is for a teacher, signed with a child’s name. Block letters.

[Sketch of a Valentine]

Confused?? Halloween in one room. Valentines another. Was school closed in October or February?

I turned back to the hands. They were gone! Mind tells me to leave. NOW!

But I’m intrigued.
Journal 5:

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Most classrooms empty. Don’t spend too much time in them just in case my light can be seen through  dirty windows. 

Found a large storage closet. Boxes. Ancient computers. Stacks of books.

As I search I noticed movement overhead.  I shone my light. Ceiling is moving! Dirt, cobwebs, twisting, turning, forming a picture. Blurry. Childlike figures, but incomplete, One figure slim, round head. The other more triangular in shape, head and body. Long hair? Dress perhaps? Boy? Girl? 

[Sketch of shadowy boy and girl]

The boy(?) leans into the girl. She raises her hands and flees. Scared? 

No, wait! I feel like I know. It was a kiss and the girl didn’t expect it. A dare, perhaps?

WHY am I seeing this?!  

HOW am I seeing this?! 

Is the school showing me it’s . . . memories?

But that’s crazy! 

Buildings aren’t alive!
Journal 6:

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What else will I find in this building? I searched another classroom. Foot tripped on something. Flashlight revealed a bump in the floor. The bump grew. Became round.  The base squeezed, pinched, until the raised portion broke off. 

[Sketch of rising floor]

I picked it up. The “sphere” was oblong with various designs etched all around it.  An Easter Egg? The Eggs was light, hollow.  Curious I broke it open. Ew!!! Smells like rotten eggs. A lost Easter Egg found many months later.

[Sketch of smelly Easter egg]

I don’t think the school was abruptly closed in October, February, or April. I suspect it was a normal closure in between terms. Odd and fantastic as it sounds, I think the school is morphing itself, decorating rooms.  It is recreating memories.


Did Karin see all this? Is this why she liked coming here?

Can’t leave yet. Need to learn more.
Journal 7:

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[Pages smeared and spattered with blood.]

I found the cafeteria. Must double as an assembly hall because there is a stage at one end of the room. A curtain runs along the back.  Behind the curtain are props, costumes. Backstage! [Simple plan of cafeteria/stage layout] There is a full length mirror. As I look in a scene begins to form behind me. The room is filled with young children. Excited. Laughing. They are wearing fantasy costumes? Knights, elves . . . even a dragon. So real, but a glance behind me confirms the real backstage is empty.

One of the children in the mirror speaks to me. I’m startled. The building’s been silent for so long. He is dressed in a robe and asks me to hand him his staff. Wizard? I looked around and spotted a wooden pole. I stuck one end in the mirror. He grabbed it. As he did I felt transported into the mirror.  Into the scene. I knew everyone’s name!

[Sketch of the mirror with the shadowy image of the boy]

The wizard's was Dougie. Sally was a princess. Teddy and Bobby were the dragon.

But perspective was wrong. I was too small. Eye to eye with Dougie. My hand was bare - a child’s. Was I a boy?

I let go of the staff  and was outside the mirror . . . almost.  Hand still in glass.  I pulled. It held - not letting go. Pulled till the glass shattered. Cuts all over my hand. Damn!

Is this what happened to the dog?  Did the school try to suck him in? Ripped his leg off as he tried to escape?
Journal 8:
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Outside the Principal’s office. Class pictures hang on the walls. Children in neat rows, bleachers, obviously the stage in the cafeteria.

Suddenly a white light filled the room from above. Skylight? No. Just an opening in the ceiling. (Of course, always the ceiling.) I saw the night sky, a single star. Its light intensified. Formed a beam. Moving back and forth. Wherever it traveled it left a faint image on the floor. Writing:
To The Class
of ‘22
[Sketch of star with beam]
2022? This year? There’s no class this year.

I looked back at the pictures. The last one was labeled “Class of 2022” Was this there before?

The picture was empty but for a few children. One girl looked similar to a young Karin. The face of another, a boy, was unclear. But I know those clothes! It was my favorite T-shirt from a long-forgotten cartoon. Is that me . . . as a kid? Why?

The light was gone. Words disappeared. I stood alone in the dark . . . listening to the school whisper my name.

[Sketch of the class picture labeled “Class of 2022” with arrows pointing to Karin (?) and Me (?).]
Journal 9:
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Trapped! I can’t leave! 

Part of me doesn’t want to.

Door locked. Tried others. All locked. Can’t leave.

Out the windows ghostly children play on the playground. More ghosts walk through the halls. I lock myself in my classroom, to escape. My safe haven.

Movement across the floor. Carcasses of millions of dead bugs jitter from the corners and crevices of the room. Gnats, beetles, roaches.  Moved by some unseen hand they gather in the center.  Forming words.

[Sketched as though written in bugs]
They shift.  Reform into another palindromic phrase.

[Sketched as though written in bugs]
The school . . . 
          So empty . . . 
                   So alone . . . 
                              So sad.  

It has lured me here!

Captured me! 

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