Sign up for the latest news and updates from The Dark Newsletter!

The Pine Arch Collection

From: x_ <pinedemon@x.x>
To: Aly Duarte <alyalyoxenfree@gmail.com>
December 18 2017 3:36 am
Subject: The Pine Arch Collection

—Play the attached video and you can see, almost from the start, that something isn’t right. But you don’t know what. A sort of—familiarity. The trees are gasping in the fog. All you can make out for two and a half minutes are their thin trunks sliding through the white breath of a fallen cloud. There is no lamp on the camera. No night vision.

—At 2:17 a voice whispers, deep and thick. Increase the volume, reverse to 2:17: “She is sleeping.” You are welcome to think it whispers something else. But there is a—familiarity. What could almost be light approaches ahead, through the thinning screen of the trees. The camera is expelled from their mouth onto a bare patch of lawn. There is the moon. Pause the video at 2:38 and see the back of your house, at a distance of perhaps 80 feet. Something huddles against the wall, a heavy black lump with arms reaching up toward a window. Your low bedroom window a closed eye. You beneath its lid, warm.

—Resume play. The arms of the heavy black lump reach closer to your windowsill. The arms stretch up with a dreadful slowness. Zoom in but the resolution decays and you can’t tell if the arms have fingers, or hands. The camera holds for 43 seconds, then moves backward, back into the mouth of the trees. The pines gather. The cloud folds around the shot again and the wall of your house recedes. The heavy black lump and its arms reaching.

—Do the arms reach the window? But the video ends at 3:59.

—We have chosen you.

—Pine Arch Research is a group of filmmakers based—locally. As the title of the attached .avi file tells you, this is The Pine Arch Collection. When you complete your segment, send it to demon@pinearchresearch.com. Tap your own personal terror, real as blood. Breathe it into the camera with authenticity. Recommended length is 3-7 minutes. Finished product will be uploaded to YouTube (on a channel that does not exist at the time of this writing). Complete running time unknown. Cult status guaranteed.

—Welcome.

From: Aly Duarte <alyalyoxenfree@gmail.com>
To: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
December 18 2017 10:03 am
Subject: Shoot this weekend

Hey B. Texted you but wanted to elaborate. So something weird happened and I don’t know if I can do the shoot Saturday. I might have a new project, but . . . . . . . . . I don’t know. Got an email overnight from an encrypted (I’m assuming) address. Like a chain letter but for a cheap found footage horror movie? That’s what it seems like anyway. They sent the video clip with a sort of narration pasted in. Strange and pretty grim. I guess I got the most recent clip (and most recent director, if I’m right that it’s being passed along like that old typewriter story game), so it’s hard to say. But THEY FILMED MY HOUSE. I’m a little spooked at the moment. No, I haven’t responded to the email.

But IF I do a segment for their project and I need staging help, extra eyes, whatever, would you be down with rescheduling our shoot and joining forces on this too? I think Hamlet on Tape can wait another week. Pretty sure you’d be into this project, if it’s not too guerilla style.

Anyway, talk later?

-A

From: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
To: Aly Duarte <alyalyoxenfree@gmail.com>
December 18 2017 11:39 am
Subject: RE: Shoot this weekend

Mysterious dudes in the woods filming your bedroom window at night? Um, that’s a red flag, don’t you think? You know how those movies always end.

I’m cool pushing Hamlet back, but you gotta sell me on this. “Doubt thou the stars are fire” and all that.

How about you come to my place after work and we’ll talk about it. I’m not sure I’m super comfortable with you going back home.

Bobby

From: Aly Duarte <alyalyoxenfree@gmail.com>
To: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
December 18 2017 12:08 pm
Subject: RE: Shoot this weekend

Sure, it’s red flaggy, but it’s just . . . the boldness of reaching out to me this way, not to mention the fact that they must have seen some of my work. I like it. I love the outré element this has and there’s just something about the way it’s filmed that’s got my head filling with ideas, angles. I sketched something for it. Picture the woods, a pile of tree limbs shaped like a mound, with an opening at the bottom. [shivers]

I’ll let you know about coming over tonight. But for now, are you in? I only need a couple of nights. Sorry to bail on you AND ask for help basically in the same breath. I’ll be fine on my own with something simple if need be, but . . . see aforementioned spookiness.

Also, there was this really tall Chinese guy in your surrealist film class back in school. He came out with us once. Blanking on his name, but that was, what, 6 years ago? He told me he was in this blog group that would go camp out at filming locations of cult horror movies. His face lit up the whole time he was talking. Can you put me in touch with him? I want to know if he’s heard of Pine Arch Research. They are ghosts online. Can’t find a thing and the URL I was given (pinearchresearch.com) doesn’t exist. It would be nice to know who sent this clip in which some person/creature/prop was REACHING UP TO MY BEDROOM WINDOW.

There was nothing outside this morning, don’t worry. I peeked. I told myself to actually go back there and check the ground against the wall, give the woods a good stern look, but I had to get to work early, haha. It’s totally fine, I promise. It’s my turn now so the only creep hanging around in the trees would be me, right? Although . . . this clip they sent is messed up. Just wait.

Let me know!

-A

From: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
To: Aly Duarte <alyalyoxenfree@gmail.com>
December 18 2017 5:52 pm
Subject: RE: Shoot this weekend

It would be cool if you answered your phone.

Okay, fine. I’ll help . . . even though if some blood cult stuff goes down, you’d be better in a fight than I would. But you’ve won my interest, I admit it. Pine Arch Research rings zero bells for me. Big surprise, I know. 🙂 But hey, unacceptable recruitment strategy aside, it’s totally possible they’ve seen some of your stuff and were impressed!

And the Chinese guy’s name is Wes Cheung. Or was. I haven’t talked to him in forever but a mutual friend told me earlier today that Cheung disappeared a couple years ago while investigating . . . wait for it . . . a creepy YouTube video. Him and the other guys who ran that blog. I have no idea how much of that is true. You’ve seen the video, but maybe refresh your memory before you go shaky cam. Under the House, the one where the men are sitting outside and staring into the camera until you want to yell at your monitor for them to stop, then they go into that freaky basement with the loud humming noise. It went pretty viral for a while. Anyway, see a pattern here? Yeah, probably not, but be careful.

I wish I could ask Brit. She lives in this wheelhouse. You remember her, unfortunately. She’s deep into this stuff (anything occult in film, really) but I didn’t exactly deal with her well when you came along. And, well, you might remind me that I did inadvertently get her kicked out of school (and a festival!) when I let slip that she’d plagiarized that horror author for her final project.

How about we do your shoot Thursday and Friday nights? I can make that happen. I’m assuming your place? In the meantime, I hope you’re still coming over.

Send me the video clip?

Bobby

From: Aly Duarte <alyalyoxenfree@gmail.com>
To: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
December 19 2017 7:42 am
Subject: RE: Shoot this weekend

Don’t get mad but I worked late and was tired . . . then I went ahead and did some filming last night. And I don’t know how to describe it. Let’s meet up tonight after work and I’ll try. That way we can both watch together. But to tide you over I’ll attach the Pine Arch clip and mine, too. (The latter of which is rough as hell. No editing. Hint: It’s not what it should be.)

-A

From: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
To: Aly Duarte <alyalyoxenfree@gmail.com>
December 19 2017 5:23 pm
Subject: RE: Shoot this weekend

Aly. Why won’t you answer your phone or text me back? And why did you shoot thirteen minutes of darkness? Is that the woods behind your house? It’s just that I don’t remember it being foggy last night. What the hell is with all the breathing and that laugh? And the clip these people sent to you. The way theirs ends and yours begins. How did you manage that continuation . . . editing? Or you met up with them? Come on, we need to talk. That THING under your window is the creepiest shit I’ve ever seen.

I’m sitting at home. Tre is out with friends. A bad feeling here. Come sit on my couch, let Sebastian purr on your lap, and let me see that you’re okay. For solidarity I’ve got my camera right here. It’s waiting to lend a hand.

B

From: Aly Duarte <alyalyoxenfree@gmail.com>
To: Pine Demon <demon@pinearchresearch.com>
December 19 2017 10:12 pm
Subject: The Pine Arch Collection

I need to bow out. I don’t know what your game is here but this is too out there for me. Yes, I’m stubborn. Yes, I’ve tried shooting this scene four times now, even in the morning when the daylight fills the trees, but in playback it’s still night with thick fog and someone (plural?) that’s not me breathing just off camera. There’s a cold sort of gleam on everything, but it’s underneath the dark, somehow, I can almost see the pile of limbs the shot is approaching back in the woods. I saw it fine when I was shooting it in, you know, the DAYTIME. It’s like a hut that’s collapsing. Did you Pine Arch people build that? It’s basically what I had in mind for my friend and me to put together this weekend specifically for my segment. I have the story notes. SO . . . how is it there already?

There’s not much land behind my house. At this point, where the stick pile is, you’re not far from the creek, then the slope down to Camp Mile Road and up again toward the old nature reserve. I picture your crew with a black van parked down there on the ribbon of road, hiking up the hill in your dark clothing with a fog machine and a roll of twine to lash all those limbs together. I mean . . . at the very least wait until I say yes before you go into production design on my property.

Bear with me. We’re parting ways at the end of this email.

Four times I filmed this. Night, day, morning, evening. Each was a little different but not different enough. I did a test shoot of my kitchen and on playback it’s my regular kitchen, morning light streaming in, like the bland establishing shots at the beginning of a found footage movie. “I’m a normal person with a normal life, look at me before I start this fateful day.” So it’s not the camera, is it? You can kind of see things happening on the screen, out in the woods, you can hear those long half-whistle breaths I should have felt on my skin they’re so close, but it was just me in the milky daylight walking through the woods with nothing but leaves crunching under my shoes. And then that fucking laugh. Christ. I didn’t actually hear that, so how did it get into my camera? How did the fucking night get into my camera, for that matter?

I kept trying, and on the fourth attempt I figured I’d turn the night vision on even though it was 4 p.m. and it was business as usual. I get back to the pile of limbs and everything’s quiet, no creepy laugh, only the sun corroding out to the west and this calm cold. Except in the footage. In the footage there’s this laugh and when I approach the pile of limbs something is crawling out of the hole in it. It’s low to the ground, a green-dark shape, another lump with the night vision failing to stick to it, as ridiculous as that is to say. Not so ridiculous when I watch it now though.

So this time I play the role, I’ve got the night vision on in the sunshine. I turn and run and I give up. You can hear me whimpering and saying, “Oh God, oh God” as the camera bounces and the trees whip by as I run. Everything has that night vision phosphorescence. The streaking and the panic. You’ve got your staples. I ticked your boxes, so good work, although you know the Blair Witch Project guys already did that way back when, right? Kept their actors in the dark (literally, hahaha ha) and tried to scare them into this authenticity you’re looking for? I’m sure you know that. The word “research” is in your name.

AND. Not to mention the worst of it, that every time I play the footage back that THING, your “heavy black lump,” is pulling itself up into my bedroom even though I didn’t film the window. You see it glitch out and then supposedly it’s IN my bedroom. My back was to the house. I was walking into the woods when I started recording. THE CAMERA WAS FACING AWAY FROM IT. So I guess I have to move or never sleep again. At least in Blair Witch their cameras were actually allowed to film, you know, what they pointed them at. They had some autonomy.

Anyway, I’m attaching the .avi of all my takes with the request that you go ahead and move on to the next person. I am a filmmaker, not an actor. I am not a test subject. There is no pinearchresearch.com so who knows if anyone will read this. Either way, don’t worry about an explanation. This isn’t working out for me. And please don’t shoot any more footage at my home. Don’t come anywhere near my home.

Sincerely,

Aly Duarte

From: Aly Duarte <alyalyoxenfree@gmail.com>
To: Pine Demon <demon@pinearchresearch.com>
December 20 2017 1:21 am
Subject: RE: The Pine Arch Collection

Please stop this. There is something in my house waiting for me to film it. Is it the lump? It won’t show itself until I turn the camera on. Please call this off

Okay what if I do a scene going through the house checking all the rooms until it finally reveals itself? I’ll use my camcorder with the fold-out screen and watch it as I go, so I can see it. I can give you heavy breathing and gasps I can frame the shots well then cut to black when the camera finds the lump and it’s rising up at me and I leave and send you the file and we’re done. give me a few minutes I’ll be back. will you tell everyone to stop and will you reply so I know you’re even getting the email?

From: y_ <pinedemon@y.y>
To: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
cc: Aly Duarte <alyalyoxenfree@gmail.com>
December 20 2017 3:40 am
Subject: RE: Shoot this weekend

—Play the video and you can see the arms reach her window. They lift the sash and move into the house. The heavy black lump slides up the wall to follow its arms. At :51 the image pixelates and freezes. At 1:08 it clears and the heavy black lump is no longer on the screen. It is understandable for you to wonder if the pixelation is a digital trick, to make you think the heavy black lump has entered her bedroom.

—The open window stares at the camera for more than one minute. It gapes. It resembles a mouth more now. A voice whispers at 2:24, deep and thick. Increase the volume, reverse to 2:24: “Where is Bobby?” You are welcome to think it whispers something else. But there is a—familiarity.

—Distortion rolls across the screen and the house is gone when it has passed. The shot is moving in perhaps the opposite direction, through the woods at—night. Pine trunks puncture a ground fog, pull it into threads. Thin musical breaths seem to stretch out from both near the microphone and farther from it, breaths that take ten seconds or more to exhale. Too long. The camera stops, the sound of leaves crackling and shifting stops. The shot tilts down then gathers a white-green tint as it lifts back up, and visibility is increased. Something laughs. Someone, you tell yourself. Not something. You think it must be her, though it is pitched low and distant.

—And the shot continues forward until, at 4:08, a shape pulls itself from the fog. The shape resolves into a mound. It is difficult to see. You think it is constructed of oak and birch limbs, the latter of which is a species of tree that is sparse in this region, which could mean the maker spent time finding material. Perhaps the birch was transported here. A hole has been crafted at the bottom of the mound, like a mouth, or a window. Pine boughs curve over it.

—A figure crawls out of the hole, not unlike a spider the way its arms are elevated to show the sharp silhouettes of its elbows, the way its legs jerk and drag along the ground. It moves out of the mound with such slowness, such inevitability. It could be the same heavy black lump. It could be another. This is unclear in the dark, and the night vision does not reveal the figure to you as it should. You hear only the sound of leaves rustling in a soft storm of movement. The shot turns and flees, a wild sense of motion. The strange breaths have ceased and are now her breaths, quick and rasping.

—You think of how everything you have seen happens in a straight line. The line does not deviate into the trees. House to mound. Mound to house.

—The scene cuts out then returns inside her house. An hour has passed, there is a timestamp now that reads 1:26:41. :42. :43. :44. The quality of the image has changed—the screen is shaped more like a square box. There is more grain. There is yet more—familiarity. You recognize this frame, her kitchen, the small table with her pale green backpack, her dim hallway as the view turns and slides into it. It is her camera. Watch her hand reach into the shot and light floods the sink, tub, toilet, the empty narrow bathroom. You see a wedge of her reflection in the mirror, dark curly hair, the fine bones of her face. Her wide frantic eyes.

—She says, “Please, no.” The shot retreats and continues down the hall, unsteady, her hand pushing doors into rooms and fumbling inside to flip the light switches on. She leaves the lights on in the rooms, in a breadcrumb trail. Until her bedroom is the last dark thing.

—The door at the end is partly open. The door is incomplete and you wonder why. Pause the video at 6:13. You think these are the same reaching arms from her outside wall, creeping up around the door as they crept up to her window. Zoom in but the resolution decays and you can’t tell if you are in fact seeing the arms from before, whether there are fingers, or hands. Behind them, in the dark bedroom through the gap of the door, is a shape.

—Resume play. But the video ends at 6:16. The timestamp ends at 1:29:08. You think of how you could almost draw a straight line from kitchen to bedroom.

—We have chosen you.

—Pine Arch Research is a group of filmmakers based—locally. As the title of the attached .avi file tells you, this is The Pine Arch Collection. When you complete your segment, send it to demon@pinearchresearch.com. Tap your own personal terror, real as blood. Breathe it into the camera with authenticity. Recommended length is 3-7 minutes. Finished product will be uploaded to YouTube (on a channel that does not exist at the time of this writing). Complete running time unknown. Cult status guaranteed.

—Welcome.

From: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
To: Aly Duarte <alyalyoxenfree@gmail.com>
December 20 2017 8:05 am
Subject: WHERE ARE YOU

Hey. Called you, texted you, Facebooked you, went to check on you, nothing. I just got back from doing three laps around your house. Your lights are out. Your car is gone. I’m freaking out a little over here. Just tell me you’re okay.

Speaking of not okay, I got one of those Pine Arch emails. With a new clip. With you in it. And my name. I took a lot of deep breaths and with each one I told myself that this is your segment. You’re just helping them make a movie and I’m the idiot here. I’d love that. I’d love for it to be just really effective marketing and I’ll accept their invitation and join in the fun. Just PLEASE TELL ME I’M THE IDIOT HERE.

But the email they sent was in our “Shoot this weekend” thread, so either you’re in on the joke and cc’d yourself or something is very very wrong.

Got my phone on me. Blowing off work today. Will be back at your place again. JUST CALL ME.

From: Aly Duarte <alyalyoxenfree@gmail.com>
To: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
December 20 2017 8:42 am
Subject: The Pine Arch Collection

—It’s fine B. I’m fine. This Pine Arch Collection thing is really interesting . . . it’s sort of all about asking you to decide what “found footage” really is, what you can trust, perception, etc. Like anything that doesn’t involve hearing my voice or physically being in my presence in real time. And what is horror as fiction if it’s not horror without proof? So you’ll forgive me, pretty please, for not giving you those two undeniable signifiers, my voice and presence. There can’t be too much—familiarity.

—I can’t believe we haven’t been making horror movies this whole time. You’ll see.

—Give my love to Sebastian and tell him he’ll see me soon. I miss being coated in his fur.

—Aly

From: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
To: Brit Evenson <evenson.song@gmail.com>
December 20 2017 11:32 am
Subject: Help! Need info

Hey Brit, long time no anything. I’m sorry. This is urgent but I don’t have your phone number anymore. I know I dropped out of your life and you’re probably not my biggest fan, but you used to be into occult stuff and you did your thesis on folklore in British horror films (I think it was British). I need your help if you have any expertise closer to home. There’s a supposed group of DIY filmmakers around here (assuming metro Atlanta) that call themselves Pine Arch Research. They’re fucking with my friend Aly. Yes, that Aly. I’m really sorry but they’re inviting her to take part in some weird found footage movie. Everything feels off and I think she might be in real trouble. I’m attaching the clip they sent her to build off of, along with the first bit of footage she shot for her own piece. This was from yesterday morning.

Aly and I are only friends now but I’m still just as worried. She won’t answer her phone or her door. I don’t think she’s home. She did email me back to explain why she won’t answer but she wrote something that the real Aly never would: she called my cat Sebastian and she NEVER does that. She always calls him Seba. She always tells him and my roommate to not let me call him Sebastian. It’s not much. It could be her going along with their project, like a performance piece or something. But I don’t think so. I think they have her computer and are reading my emails with her and then posing as her.

I’ll be going back to her house later and I’ll break in if I have to, but in the meantime, I really really need to know about these Pine Arch people. I’m sorry but this is important. I could be filing a police report tonight and I’ll be refreshing my email on my phone. If possible, please call instead at 678-392-4006.

Thank you so much, Brit. I can explain the rest later when there’s time. And I’m sorry about everything back then.

Best,

Bobby

From: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
To: Aly Duarte <alyalyoxenfree@gmail.com>
December 20 2017 9:42 pm
Subject: RE: The Pine Arch Collection

Still not convinced I’m the idiot here. Still hoping I am. If so, I’m just glad you’re okay. Hamlet on Tape can be shelved a couple of weeks. Hell, a year. Sebastian misses you, too. Almost as much as I do. I don’t want to type this sentence but why did you call him Sebastian you never do that?

Love.

From: y_ <pinedemon@y.y>
To: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
December 21 2017 2:17 am
Subject: The Pine Arch Collection (new .avi attached)

—Seba. Seba. Tell Seba we miss him.

—You see yourself knocking on her door. The viewpoint is from the eastern corner of the house. Her car sits in the driveway, the front third of it in frame. You ask yourself if you have been allowed to return to your own home so you can sit there now, reading this, watching yourself knocking on her door.

—What color is Seba?

—You pound on the door, shout her name. 1:47 into the video you come down off the short porch and walk toward the camera, which withdraws toward the rear of the house until it is enclosed in the darkness of the first trees on the edge of her property. It watches you walk, almost run, behind the house and stop, scanning the back wall. Farther down is the door leading into the house, into the kitchen. You do not even try the doorknob, you break a pane of glass and reach through with your hand to unlock it. Just before you enter the house, there is a laugh, somewhere behind you, from the trees. You turn, thinking it must be her, but it is pitched low and distant.

—Inside the kitchen you turn the light on by the door and see her pale green backpack, the cluster of her keys on the table beside it. You watch yourself do these things through the door you have just opened, a spear of broken glass floats on the right side of the screen as the camera gently moves. You watch yourself shout her name and move forward into the hallway and the gloom there.

—The shot cuts to a gloved hand closing the kitchen door. At 3:52 the camera follows you into the hallway and makes the short turn toward the last room. Wide bars of light fall from the doorways leading to it. Her bedroom door is fully open, a tall mouth. You are standing halfway between the camera and the end of the hall. You say her name twice. The same low laugh comes out of the room and the dark line on the floor at the opening of the bedroom begins to push out into the hallway, into the light, across the fine old wood boards. The arms, pause the video at 4:11, they are perhaps the same arms but they have hands, and fingers. There is no need to zoom in and decay the image resolution. You see a face follow the arms out of the dark. Her face is underneath the face smiling.

—The POV shifts to the side, enters the bathroom, anticipating your turn and sprint back up the short hallway. For a half-moment, the mirror is there on the right edge of the screen. You see an ear obscured by dark hair, a gloved hand bisected by the strap of the camera, which blocks the rest of the profile. The shot turns away from the mirror and into the kitchen as you roughly open the door. You are gone, your scream pulling apart and fading in the night.

—What are you saying as you struggle toward your car? Has anything crawled from the woods to meet you? You have a camera in your home. The authenticity would be more chilling if you had brought it, as you were asked to contribute. But in footage that will be presented as “found,” the discerning viewer will criticize the camera operator/protagonist for continuing to film in scenes of great personal duress. Though limited in this certain way, here are a colder eye and a steadier hand.

—Tell Seba we miss him.

—The shot moves back into the hallway and turns to the left. The heavy black lump pulls itself along the floor. Her face lowers to follow her progress until the scene goes black.

—And returns to an empty hallway. And goes black.

From: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
To: Brit Evenson <evenson.song@gmail.com>
cc: Pine Demon <demon@pinearchresearch.com>
December 21 2017 4:10 am
Subject: RE: Help! Need info

I don’t know who else to reach out to. The police went to Aly’s house but it was empty. I got silence when I asked to file a missing persons report. An uncomfortable laugh when I asked for help. Do you know anything about Pine Arch Research or a kind of . . . I don’t know how to describe it. A crawling shape like a person something that’s like half tar. I think it got her. I think it might BE her.

There aren’t actual woods behind my house, just some huddled trees before the next street, but there’s a mound made out of limbs just like the one Aly saw at the back of her property in her video . . . their video, I’m not sure which anymore. It has the same “pine arches” curved above its mouth. They made a mound for me and put it just inside the trees where I can see it from my bedroom window. I filmed it. I didn’t go up to it but I filmed it. Nothing came out of it and nothing is climbing up my wall either.

I’m attaching the video I made so you can see. If you noticed a cc on here it’s because I’m adding them to this email, if you’re reading it Pine Arch please just leave Aly alone. Leave me alone it’s enough I did a clip for you. It’s not my fault nothing is happening.

I searched for Pine Arch Research again and this time I found a short story on Google books that has a film group with the same name. It’s fiction though. Seemed like a vampire story. Do you know Kirsten Mester? I know you had a friend named Kirsten back then. I used to call her your cult buddy.

I think I was jealous of your film, Brit. It was an amazing work and I wouldn’t have knowingly let it slip that you’d plagiarized that writer. I didn’t even think it took enough from Ligotti to actually really be plagiarism. I didn’t know then you’d taken whole chunks of text wholesale. And telling Ken—I don’t know, I didn’t think of him telling Wes, I didn’t think of Wes being in that “film haunt” group and taking offense and what a mess that all turned out to be. It was just a stupid thing I did.

Please tell me you know how to help my friend. I’m scared. I’ve never been so scared or so tired.

Bobby

From: Bobby Power
To: Pine Demon <pinearchresearch.com>
December 21 2017 10:52 pm
Subject: please

Attaching an hour of the mound out back. I was outside, sitting there. Waiting for it to come out and whose face would it have? Aly is this you? Let me help you. Brit? Nothing happened outside but at the end of the hour I get up and turn back to the house and you can see the creature at my wall reaching up to my window. What the fuck. My window is higher than Aly’s so I don’t know if I’m supposed to give it a boost? Leave the window unlocked? Leave. Please leave me alone. Just leave me alone.

From: Brit Evenson <evenson.song@gmail.com>
To: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
cc: Pine Demon <demon@pinearchresearch.com>
December 22 2017 12:38 am
Subject: RE: Help! Need info

—I shouldn’t respond, but it is precious of you to reach out. The clips you sent are interesting, rough. From what I gather, Pine Arch Research is a group of filmmakers based—locally. They seek authenticity. These days, I do as well.

—You mentioned expertise. And folklore in horror films. That is one way to put it. You might think it’s not my place to say, but perhaps you and your Aly should take your lumps.

—It is also interesting that you don’t recall the name of my film you ruined. A Birch Coffin. Birch. Huh. Not a particularly southern tree. However, I thank you for at least the semblance of an apology. But ask yourself something—what IS a horror film? It provides you with ingredients. As someone recently mused, it asks you to decide what you can trust. You want to decide. And what is horror as fiction if it is not horror without proof?

—I’m happy to say I haven’t thought of Cheung in some time. He met up with his own monster, I hear. Time to move on. And Kirsten is typing away in the next room, in fact. She has her own concerns. I will tell her you said hello.

From: y_ <pinedemon@y.y>
To: Bobby Power <bpower@gsu.edu>
December 22 2017 12:44 am
Subject: The Pine Arch Collection

Click here to watch a live video feed.

—Blackness pales to darkness and movement. The quality of the image has changed dramatically, vertically oriented, a widescreen tipped onto its side. The shot turns to display a hole framed by woven tree limbs, the hole it has come out of, then rises and moves until the entire mound is in the shot. Oak and the rare birch again. The camera swings back to face your house. Your woods are shallow. You have so few trees.

—You can see the arms, stretched so long now, reach your window. They lift the sash and move into the house. You did not lock the window. The heavy black lump slides up the wall to follow its arms. The image pixelates and freezes. Several seconds later it clears and the heavy black lump is no longer on the screen. It is understandable for you to wonder if the pixelation is a digital trick, to make you think the heavy black lump has entered your bedroom.

—Seba is black with white fur around his neck like a scarf. His front paws are white.

—On the live feed you see yourself from behind. You are seated at your desk, the white-blue glow of your monitor bleeding onto you. Your bedroom doorway frames you on the screen. Zoom in but the resolution decays and you can’t tell if the arms reaching across the room for you have fingers, or hands. The discerning viewer will criticize you for remaining seated in a scene of great personal duress. It is time to decide.

—Someone laughs. You think it must be her, though it is pitched low and close. You turn to face the camera with authenticity.

—Welcome.

From: z_ <pinedemon@z.z>
To: Pine Demon 2 <demon2@pinearchresearch.com>
December 25 2017 9:47 am
Subject: merry xmas (footage is over)

—Hello Evenson. We collected their computers and cameras. We collected their remains. See forwarded threads and attached clips.

—The footage has been edited. Upon your review, we will upload the finished film to a Pine_Arch channel on YouTube. As you can see, we have taken the liberty of incorporating several shots scanning (“reading”) the email threads from each of their computers. (We see instances of your name and email address due to your surprising decision to involve yourself. You are welcome to excise/obscure these.) The email threads are cut into the film as an ongoing narrative between the two subjects you chose. We believe our own contributions, as curators, add to this narrative as well. The questions that are raised, we find them to be key to the film itself.

—Their heavy black lumps have been released into the woods. Perhaps to your birch trees. But at least to the pines, so prevalent here. The Pine Arch Collection is complete. Cult status guaranteed.

—You’re welcome.

About the Author

Michael Wehunt lives in the lost city of Atlanta, where he wishes he had more time to read. His fiction has appeared in Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, Cemetery Dance, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction. His debut collection, Greener Pastures, was shortlisted for the IAFA Crawford Award and nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. You can find him online at www.michaelwehunt.com.