Everyone and No One: A True Crime Podcast

Episode 8: Posted on *date blocked

November 07, 2023 DimensionGate Season 1 Episode 8
Everyone and No One: A True Crime Podcast
Episode 8: Posted on *date blocked
Show Notes Transcript

In the spring of 2022, the 44 Division of the Toronto Police Service discovered the burnt remains of Rachel Amina Darwish, Daniel Brewer, and Mitig Biskane, in southern Ontario, Canada. The only clues offering an explanation for the three deaths were found in an anonymous blog written by an unknown individual.

The following is a reading from the blog website, www.everyoneandnoone.org, before it was seized by the police.

This episode is a reading of seven blog entries posted with blocked dates.

After a brief hiatus, the SEASON FINALE will be published two Tuesdays from now, on November 21st. To listen to the final lost blog posts of "Everyone and No One" before the next episode, please consider purchasing the COMPLETE audiobook version, or the novel in eBook or hardcover, in the links below:


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Everyone and No One, a true crime podcast, hosted by Ian Tuason. Episode 8. 


In the spring of 2022, the 44 Division of the Toronto Police Service discovered the burnt remains of Rachel Amina Darwish, Daniel Brewer, and Mitig Biskane, in southern Ontario, Canada. The only clues offering an explanation for the three deaths were found in an anonymous blog written by an unknown individual.

 

The following content was taken from the blog website, everyoneandnoone.org





 

Posted on *date blocked*
 (second post)



I walk into fire, trees rumbling in flames surround me, but I feel no heat. I tread down a path, fire licking at my arms, ashes fluttering upwards into the night sky like millions of gray moths. 

The path ends at a single tree—a white birch of dead branches, untouched by the fire. I look for the crucifix on its trunk but I can barely see through the smoke. 

 

Suddenly, a whirlwind lifts the smoke and I see the crucifix upside down. Under it stands the woman in the yellow dress, facing me now, but the skin on her face is gone, as if ripped off, exposing skull and teeth and eyes without eyelids, staring at me as if trapped in an infinite scream. Cradled in her arms is a new born baby, naked, its skin obsidian black, its face without features, marked with words in yellow, green, white and purple. 




 

Posted on *date blocked*
 (third post)



In the stale quietness of the hospital room, I wake up to the disappointment of not having died last night. Already in a room tight enough for a tomb, I lie there, craving for oblivion. But Leah has other plans for me. She is beside me, thumbing the space on my forehead between my eyebrows. I hear the beeping of a heart monitor. Every time I blink, Leah's face doubles, then slowly merges back into one face, then doubles again with another blink.

"Where am I?" I lift my arm to see if I can. An I.V. needle pierces the back of my hand.

 

"You're at…St. Mike's," Leah squeezes my shoulder. "You're…okay now."

 

"I killed them," I whisper.

 

"Those...those were terrible things you wrote. But you didn’t...do those things. You just…wrote them. That's all you did."

 

I look at her and see someone brave now—decisive. She speaks firmly, and I believe her. "Just leave me," I close my eyes.

 

"I'm not leaving you. I'm...I'm going to help you," Leah hushes me.

 

A nurse enters. "Sorry. It's passed eleven, he needs to rest."

 

Leah nods and the nurse leaves.

 

"I was in the…hospital once, too, remember?” Leah leans over me. “Do you remember what helped me?" She presses her lips on my forehead and blackness plows over me.

 

 

I wake up again, gasping for air. The beeping of the heart monitor fills the dark room. Florescent light from the hallway pours in through the open door. A figure in the room casts a shadow on my face. The figure is tall and thin, its arms long at its side.

 

"Hey fam," the figure says in William's voice.

 

The rhythmic beeping of the heart monitor speeds up.

 

William walks closer and I toil to lift my head for a better look at him. His face is cloaked in shadow from the hallway lights behind him. 

 

"You're not real," I force out the words.

 

"I’m not?" William chuckles.

 

It’s just the meds, I think to myself. I close my eyes expecting the voice to stop speaking. But it doesn't.

 

"We’re getting closer now," William says.

 

"Closer to what?" I say, thinking that speaking back to a specter of my imagination would make it go away, but the vision of William only becomes clearer.

 

"To God," William says.

 

I shake my head and the pillow makes crumpling noises under my head.

 

"Soon these shit and piss filled bodies of ours won't exist, but we will," William squeezes my foot under the sheets, and I'm shocked at the solid feeling of his touch.

 

"You don't exist," I whisper, the beeping of the heart monitor slowing down. "You don't exist," I repeat, slipping into sleep.




 

Posted on *date blocked*
 (fourth post)




Leah holds the tote bag open as I dump my dirty clothes inside. I inhale the fresh laundry smell of the clothes I'm wearing, that Leah had brought me from home, and I'm glad to be checking out of the hospital. I say goodbye to the nurses and walk out into the busy streets of downtown.

I don't feel like going home. It's morning and the day is alive. Leah and I walk south down Yonge Street, the smell of Lake Ontario creeping closer. Reaching the harbor, the smell is overpowered by the fragrance of smoking meats from an outdoor food festival. We tread down a boardwalk, reaching the end, and then continue down Lakeshore Boulevard to a small grassy park along the arm of a peninsula. Strolling down the paved path, our faces are dampened by the mist from waves smashing against flat boulders lining the shore.

 

"He was so real to me," I say.

 

"The mind…is a powerful thing," says Leah.

 

“But the message from Rachel.”
 
 

“Rachel?”

 

“In the writing,” I say. Was she really still out there, I thought, oblivious to everything?

 

Leah rubs my arm.

 

"I don't remember writing any of it."

 

"My psychiatrist thinks my…anxiety was caused by a repressed memory," says Leah. "He says it's a common thing to forget what your mind doesn't want to remember. He...he thinks I was molested in my childhood. I told him I wasn't, and he just said I was…repressing the memory and prescribed more...more pills. The mind is a powerful thing..."

 

Childhood. I repeat the words in my head—childhood—repressed memories.

 

Suddenly, I think of my parents. I think of the cottage and the forest, and I recall the dreams that have haunted me since starting the meds. The visions of the dead birch and the clearing hit me like the waves on the boulders beside us. There was a quickening in my blood, much like, I would imagine, a rise in temperature when a life-long sailor feels that he is getting closer to the sea.

 

"What's wrong?" Leah squeezes my hand.

 

"I've been dreaming about the forest again."

 

"The forest?"

 

"The forest beside Dad's cottage," I say. Leah studies me. "I've never told anyone about that place. Not to my doctor, not to anyone."

 

"What…happened there?" she says.

 

"I was so young," I say, walking slower. "I remember living with my uncle when I was in elementary school, and never talking for years. My uncle and the doctors thought I turned into a mute. One night when I was eating dinner with my uncle, I said something out loud, like 'thank you' or 'uncle', I forgot which. Then he asked me what happened at the cottage. I told him I didn't remember anything. And it was true. I know what happened there, but what I saw—what I felt—only comes to me in snapshots, like a bunch of photos messed up in my brain." 

 

"Where's the cottage?" Leah interrupts.

 

"Near Sudbury. My uncle owns it now."

 

"Hey," Leah pulls my arm. "Look at me."

 

I look at her.

 

"We have to…go there," she says.

 

"Where?" I say, knowing the answer but asking anyway.

 

"To the cottage," she says.

 

I look out into the lake. "I don't..."

 

"We're going," she stops walking and faces me. "We're…going there. And whatever happened there, we're going...to leave it there. We're going to leave it there for good."




 

Posted on *date blocked*
 (fifth post)




My apartment seems smaller now—suffocating me. I open all the windows and cool air trudges in. On Craigslist, I search for a used car and find a champagne colored 2008 Civic for $1200.

Opening Google maps, I enter the address of the seller and nod my head to Leah. "I know where this is. It's not too far from here."

 

Leah looks at the map on my screen. "Show me where your cottage is."

 

I type in the address. A red pin pops up on the screen. The map shows a white line cutting through a gray field and ending at a blue shape of a lake.

 

Leah climbs behind me on the sofa, cradles me with her legs, and rests her chin on my shoulder. We look at the screen together, and I zoom out of the map. I zoom out and out until it shows all of southern Ontario. I put my finger on the red pin at the top of the map, far away from Toronto. 

 

"There it is," I say.



 

Posted on *date blocked*
 (sixth post)




My throat is sore from the dozens of cigarettes I smoked on the four hour drive littered with stops at coffee shops and service stations. We are minutes away from the cottage, driving the used Civic up a dirt road through the forest. The road is much narrower than in my memory. A thick ceiling of tumbling clouds hovers above, and a cold chill blows in through the vents. The road winds and drops into a mud pool and I'm worried we might get stuck but we don't. The forest on either side of the road is thick and green. There are blackberries on the bushes that line the road and crows are gorging on them.

The road grows thinner the deeper we drive, until I see an opening in the treetops ahead, bright with skylight. In the opening squats a low cottage with white chipped paint, three steps down from a driveway that loops around in a circle in front of it. A large bony vine clutches at the cottage, as if clawing down the roof. Beyond, a hill slopes down to a lake. There are some pine trees, cedars, and ragged birches.

 

I park in the looping driveway. Stepping out onto the gravel, I walk up against the cottage window to peer inside and see the kitchen, and then the living room, and then the large window facing the lake.

 

Uncle said the keys were in the same spot inside the small bin hidden in the shrubs against the cottage. Finding the bin, I lift the lid and see a coiled up garden hose that is now a whitish color, and a sprinkler stained with lime. I inspect the bin for insects or mice but see none, just cobwebs and an old hornet nest now vacant and hanging from the lid. On the inside wall is the nail, now dark with rust, and the steel key hanging from it.

 

The lock on the front door is stubborn at first, the key seemingly too large for the keyhole, but I manage to wiggle it through. Taking my first step into the cottage as an adult, I enter the kitchen, and the smell strikes me—the relentless smell of musky aging wood that hangs like a thick blanket smothering everything. Hundreds of shining specks of dust float in the sun rays from the window. I flip the light switch on but nothing happens. Opening the fuse box cupboard on the wall, I flip a switch and the light bulb in the kitchen ceiling turns on with a tiny popping sound.

 

I rummage through the drawers of the kitchen. The bottom drawer has rope and tape. Under the sink is a pail, an old kerosene lantern, and a large plastic jug filled with kerosene.

 

In the living room is a wood burning stove. A few feet away from the stove is a shelf overflowing with books. Some loose single books rest horizontally on the top of other books stacked vertically. 

 

On the opposite wall is Dad’s hunting rifle rack. It used to be stocked full of rifles from what I remember, but only two remain now—a .22 caliber and a .300 caliber. A box of bullets sits at the bottom ledge of the rack. 

 

"Where's the broom?" Leah places her duffle bag on the kitchen table and I point at the closet. Leah sweeps the hardwood floor, whistling, as I stare out into the lake from the back window.

Cobwebs infest the door handle leading to the back porch, so I ask Leah to wipe it with the broom and she does. I pull open the heavy wooden door and push open the flimsy screen door leading onto the porch. Stepping out, the old planks creak at my feet, and Leah follows me with the broom, pushing dead leaves off the red painted deck. The porch wraps around the back and west side of the cottage. I turn the corner and see the dense forest climbing slightly uphill. 

 

"There it is," I whisper to myself. Leah hears me.

 

"What is it?" she asks.

 

I peer deeper into the dense woods of oak, maple and birch—the forest floor dark under a canopy of leaves above it.

 

"Let's finish cleaning up," I say.




 

Posted on *date blocked*
(seventh post)




As the sun creeps towards the horizon, a comforting glow illuminates the wooded landscape. A strong gust of wind rustles the leaves around us. Specks of sunlight shine through the canopy above like dancing stars. Twigs and branches break at our feet as we tread towards the clearing ahead. In the clearing hangs the decaying trunk of a dead birch tree hunching over a grass-less patch on the dirt ground.

"There used to be a path here," I say. Leah is silent and looking at me. A wind brushes my face. I walk up to the birch and see a tiny wooden cross nailed to its white peeling bark. “My uncle put that there. I never saw it before today. He just told me he did when I was a kid. I always imagined it was bigger.”

 

Leah keeps her distance, standing in the shade at the edge of the clearing.

 

"Right here," I point down at a spot by my feet. "This is where it happened."

 

Leah listens, silent and unmoving. I walk around the birch, kicking away fallen branches. I'm shaking my head.

 

"That day..." I pause.

 

A loon cries in the distance.

 

"That day I remember Mom and Dad screaming at each other. I hid under my bed.”

 

Leah's face is long with sympathy, absorbing every word.

 

I close my eyes and search deep—deep into my memory.

 

"I remember their screams getting louder. And then hearing one of them leave, and then the other. Then I was alone, and everything was quiet for a while.”

 

I slap the trunk of the birch, leaving my hand on it. My fingers slowly curl, scratching at the bark.

 

"I remembering hearing a bang, far away. And then another one. I was only seven, I didn’t know what to do. I just waited. After some time I crawled out from under my bed and started calling for them. I started to get scared. So I went looking for them. I walked into the forest, following where I thought I heard the bang. I was calling for them the whole time. I still remember branches scratching the skin of my legs. I found Dad first. He was lying on his back with his mouth gaping open, a rifle at his feet, and a pool of blood around his head. I shouted and shook him to wake up. Mom was lying face down beside this tree. There was a red stain on the back of her yellow dress. I shook her too—I still remember. I sat by her feet until it got dark out. And then when I couldn't cry anymore, I went back into the cottage."

 

Leah takes a step forward, yearning to grab hold of me, but she stops herself. She wants me to keep talking. She stands there, letting me crack and spill out words like a breaking dam.

 

"I waited in my room," I say. "I eventually fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought it was all a dream. I called for Mom but she didn't answer. I looked into their room but she wasn't there. I went into the forest again. When I got to them, I saw they were moved. Mom was on her back now, but her face wasn’t there anymore, just a bloody patch, and chunks of her skin from her arms and legs were missing. I heard coyotes yelping all around me and ran back to the cottage. A couple of rangers found me in the cottage days later—lying in my bed. They found me starving and dehydrated. They told my uncle it was a miracle I was alive. After that, I lived with him. I woke up sobbing most nights. I just wanted to forget everything. I wanted to be someone else. And then my wish came true."

 

"I'm so sorry," Leah says, speaking for the first time in a long time. I look at her, and then up into the blue sky now innocent of clouds. I draw in a deep breath.

 

"No, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I didn't tell you everything. I was William. Before that I was Michael. I was John and Steven. I was so many people.”

 

"Stop it," she springs towards me into the sunlight of the clearing and squeezes my hands. "I know who you are."

 

I see the reflection of the sky in her green eyes.

 

"There’s more I remember," her face blurs as my mind wanders back into memory. "I remember Mom. And the smell of her perfume. I remember how safe I felt when she picked me up. I remember thinking Dad was a super hero, driving hours and somehow knowing where to go. I remember how Mom would scratch my back to help me sleep."

 

I stop talking. Tears swell behind my closed eyelids. I'm not sure if the tears are from sadness or from the joy of remembering. Leah hugs me, and I hug her back. I cherish the feeling of her arms around my ribs. She knows everything now, and so do I. I finally feel filled—filled with who I am—who I really am.







 

Posted on *date blocked*
 (eighth post)




Naked in the cramped cottage bedroom, I sit up and take a deep breath of musky air. The bed is wrapped in flower-patterned sheets. The room is vaguely lit by my iPhone charging in the corner. Creeping out of bed, I hear Leah waking up. She turns over onto her back. I feel the floor's wooden grain on my bare feet as I lumber over to my pile of clothes.

"You're…awake?" Leah asks, groggily. I pull my pants up. "Where you going?"

 

"I can't sleep."

 

"Try praying," she says. "That always…helps me."

 

Buttoning down my top, I stare at her peaceful face, her lips slightly parting into a smile.

 

"What do you say when you pray," I ask her, curious.

 

"I say…thank you for this and that, mostly."

 

"Does he ever say anything back?" I say, sarcastically, but without malice.

 

"Of course he does…in everything…in the sun rising and setting every day, in the people we meet...” Leah closes her eyes and her voice trails off. I disconnect my iPhone and see that it's 3:13am.

 

"Okay," I say. "I'll give prayer a try."

 

She turns over to her side to face me, beaming.

 

"Go to sleep, sweetheart," I stroke her hair as she drifts off.

 

In the living room, the drapes of the large window are pulled wide open, letting in a faint glow from the starlit sky outside. My eyes adjust quickly. I see the outline of the table where two flashlights stand upright. I grab one of them.

 

The screen door creaks open, followed by more creaks from the wooden planks on the old porch. I grope my way down the staircase to the dirt ground below, continuing on down the hillside towards the lake. I shine the flashlight on the earth before taking each step, making sure the ground is even there. A wind blows dry dirt and I clench my eyes shut. The night is void of cricket chirps and mosquitoes buzzing in my ears—there is only the relentless rushing of wind.

 

As I descend the slope, the sound of waves smacking against wood gets closer. At the foot of the hill, the ground levels out, and I find myself at the mouth of a boat deck floating in the water. Stepping onto the deck, it wobbles and I shift my weight side to side for balance. Ahead of me, the stars reflect off the lake like wavering white dots. I turn off the flashlight and see my own body vanish in the blackness, as if I'm just a pair of eyes hovering over the lake, encompassed by stars above and stars below.

 

I know that the stars are millions of miles away, its light taking thousands of years to reach my eyes, and I wonder if the actual galactic orbs of gas are even still up there at all—or are they ghosts now—remnants from another time, like the tweets and posts and artwork from people now dead.

 

Turning back, I step off the unsteady deck onto solid ground, and I sit on a bench a few feet away from the water, resting under the hanging branches of a maple. The bench is like a miniature version of a city park bench, as if it was made for children, and perhaps it was, placed there by Dad decades ago for me. Compelled by the peacefulness, I try, in the darkness, to recall everything I knew before I had erased my childhood from my mind. I struggle to recall the faces of all my grade one classmates from shortest to tallest. Gradually, I remember a time when Dad carried Mom into their bedroom, both of them laughing hysterically, and once again, I come to possess what is already mine.

 

Looking up at the stars again, I remember Leah telling me to pray, and I begin to search for Leah's God—there in the stars. But I only see the stars—unmoving in the sky for billions of years. So I look beyond the stars—behind them—and see them this time as God's words—written billions of years ago.

 

If Leah is right, then the stars, like the mountains and the oceans, are the true scripture of God. Everything is God's words. I think of the generations of men who have come to pass and I imagine the first morning of time when God began writing his message to me—a message traveling through millenniums to reach me here by the lake.

 

But what does the message say? What do His words mean? Perhaps the sum total of all stars is simply a single word. Or perhaps the message is not a word, but a single sound that inferred the entire universe. Here, standing alone under the stars, I pray—thankful for his words—this wind, this night sky, these stars, this body of mine. 

 

And I thank God for my emptiness—my vast, infinite and glorious emptiness. And suddenly, I feel as if the ground below and the sky above is replacing the prison of my small apartment, and the eternity and vastness of the universe is the new extension of my identity.

 

And with this understanding, this bliss of understanding, I dig out the phone from my pocket and stare down at its lighted screen. My peripheral vision disappears and I only see the whiteness of the screen, almost blindingly, and nothing else. The tiny computer in my hand is a connection to another universe as singular and shared as the one I stood in. A metaverse—a dynamic book of infinite messages, endless identities, and inner dimensions. I tap the wallet icon and I’m asked for my secret recovery phrase. I stare at the twelve empty fields waiting to be filled. Twelve empty fields, like the twelve disciples of Jesus, the twelves sons of Jacob, the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve gates of heaven guarded by twelve angels.

 

I enter the twelve words William challenged us to remember when we first met. And then I'm in. 

 

My breath quickens. In the wallet is just a small fraction of Ethereum and all the NFTs I had written and minted without any memory of it. 

 

I open my document app and begin to type on the screen in a trance, as if writing in a vacuum, and the words spill onto the screen like olive oil. Then time skips, and the page is full of words—an hour may have passed, or a minute—it is impossible for me to tell. But it doesn't matter now—it’s over. The story of William is finished. I format the words to fit onto one page and take a screenshot. I connect William’s wallet to OpenSea and mint the final item. William is free now—free to exist forever—free from me.

 

The wind blows stronger, and waves slap the deck harder. After taking a deep breath, I light a cigarette, its amber tip glowing brighter as I inhale. Looking up at the cottage, I see a light in the window. Leah must be awake now, waiting for me. But then the light turns off, and the cottage turns into a black outline against the purplish sky. Beside the cottage on the west side is the dense forest that ate my childhood, swallowing it whole and imprisoning it there until yesterday. The forest is now just a forest—just a bunch of trees and a dead birch with a tiny cross nailed to its trunk.

 

I think I hear something—voices from the cottage. I must be imagining it. A wind plunders through the trees and I curse at the noise, listening for the voices.

 

I hear it again.

 

I shake my head. It's late, and I must be hearing things, I convince myself. I clamber up the hillside, the cigarette hanging from my lips. Sucking in a final nervous drag, I drop the cigarette and crush it into the dirt with the heel of my boot. I exhale the sweet nicotine that fails to relax me as it usually does, and make my way back to the cottage.

 

Creaking across the porch and into the cottage, something feels off. 

 

“Leah?” I switch on the lights and see our bedroom door open. Inside the room the bed is empty, the comforter on the floor. “Leah!” I call out louder. She’s not in the washroom either.

 

My mouth seems to dry up when I notice the front door agape, the cabinet door under the sink hanging open, and one of my Dad’s rifles missing from the rack. 

 

A voice screams outside in the distance. 

 

Dashing out the front door, I point the flashlight to the west, but the light doesn’t hit anything—it disappears into the darkness between the trees.

 

I trudge into the darkness to the west. Flustering, I swing the light from tree to tree. All sounds are heightened, like the crushing of foliage at my feet and the rustling leaves above. My fingers tighten around the flashlight and I jerk the light towards every sound. Trekking deeper, thick vines creep around me. Branches from twisted oaks hover like outstretched arms. An owl screeches overhead. Blood rushes between my ears.

 

And then I see it—the dead birch. The wind expands, and the rustle of leaves becomes deafening. My flashlight beam stretches towards the tree and I see a figure standing beside it. At first glance, in the blurring darkness, I'm not sure who it is. Trembling, I drop the flashlight. It thumps on the damp ground, throwing me into darkness. Falling to my knees, I scramble for the light. I find it and raise it again, not daring to blink—it’s Leah, gripping a kerosene jug hanging heavy at her side, her face wet with tears.

 

"Hey fam," says a voice in the shadows.


This ends Episode 8 of "Everyone and No One: A True Crime Podcast", hosted by Ian Tuason. To be continued in the season finale, Episode 9, after a brief haitus, two Tuesdays from now, anywhere you get your podcasts. If two weeks is too long a wait for you, please consider purchasing the complete audiobook version of "Everyone and No One", on Spotify Audiobooks, Audible, iTunes, or anywhere you get your audiobooks, which will also support the production of future episodes of this podcast. You can also purchase the eBook, hardcover and paperback version of this story on my website, iantuason.com, That’s i-a-n-t-u-a-s-o-n dot com. Stay tuned for the season finale of "Everyone and No One: A True Crime Podcast",  in two Tuesdays. This has been a DimensionGate production.