November 1, 2019

#150 The Reply All Halloween Scream-A-Thon

by Reply All

Background show artwork for Reply All

We celebrate Halloween by opening up the phone lines for your scary stories: Ghosts, Googling how to Seance, and the Mysterious Sax Man of Berkeley.


PJ: So Alex.

ALEX: Yeah?

PJ: I’ve been thinking about how, there’s like a kind of story that we do. And I like -- I like that we get to do it. Where, we’ll hear about something surprising or unexplainable that’s happened and we’ll go talk to the people that were there, and learn a bunch of stuff, and make it make sense--- like we’ll explain it. And it’s a fun thing to get to do. 

ALEX: Mhm.

PJ: Um, but there’s this other kind of story which in my real life I enjoy a lot. Which are stories that cannot be made to make sense. You know the kind of stories where it’s late at night and you’re talking to a friend and you’re like: “Do you believe in ghosts?” And they’re like: “Well no… but….there was this thing that happened one time...”

ALEX:  Yeah. 

PJ: And I want-- I want to do that on the show. Like I want to do an episode of scary stories.  

ALEX: Oh, yeah. Yeah, there's been a lot of iterating on that.

PJ: What do you mean a lot of iterating on that?

ALEX: Well you know that I wanted to do like a soundscape-y fiction horror story on our show right?

PJ: No I think I–

ALEX: You didn't know about this–?

PJ: I think I've been protected from this information.

ALEX: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I definitely wanted to do one which was like, starts out, me in a studio. I'm like recording credits or whatever.

PJ: Uh huh–

ALEX: Like that's how the show opens.

PJ: You know what? Let's just- let's just–here. Ready? Take one. Just do your idea. 

ALEX: Okay. Sitting in the studio. I'm reading the credits. 

PJ: No, read the credits. 

ALEX: Oh. Reply All is hosted by PJ Vogt and me, Alex Goldman. The show is produced by Sruthi Pinnamaneni, Phia Bennin, Damiano Marchetti. Then–so then my wife calls and I'm like, "Yeah, I'm in the studio by myself. Everybody else is–"

PJ: Do you want me to do like a "bring bring". 

ALEX: Yeah, go ahead. 

PJ: Bring, bring. Bring, bring.

ALEX: Hey, Sarah. What's up?

PJ: (muffled phone voice sound)

ALEX: Yeah, it's like–I think I'll be home in like 20 minutes. Everybody else has left us the- the–the studio.

PJ: (muffled phone voice sound)

ALEX: Are you fighting with me right now?

PJ: (muffled phone voice sound)

ALEX: (Laughs) ah, um, I just have to finish recording the credits. So–

PJ: (muffled phone voice sound)

ALEX: It'll take me 10 minutes. I just have to cut them together and then–

PJ: (muffled phone voice sound)

ALEX: Bye.

ALEX: So then I'm in the studio like doing–I'm reading the credits again. And then suddenly I hear like a sound–like a creepy sound in the hallway. And like I call out. I'm like, "Hello! Is anybody out there?" You know? And then–

PJ: No, do it.

ALEX: (off mic) Hello? Hello?

PJ: Uh huh.

ALEX: And then gradually you soundscape it so there's like a monster in the building. 

PJ: Uh huh.

ALEX: And then I die. And like you could start it with Alex Blumberg being like, "Hey, we found this computer in the studio. It was still recording. We don't know where Alex is. It's really fucked up." And then we play that and I'm dead. 

(PJ laughs)


PJ: A couple of weeks ago we asked listeners for non-fiction scary stories--things that actually happened to them. Um, we opened up the phone lines. This is what we got.


ALEX: Hello?

MAX: Oh my god. It worked. Hi. 

PJ: Who’s this?

MAX: This is Max. 

PJ: What’s your scary story?

MAX: Okay. So I have a seance story.

PJ: Okay, are–so just before we get into it, are you like a, are you like a person who's into like witchy, Wiccan, like New Moon ceremony type stuff or no?

MAX: Not at all. In fact, I would say I don’t believe in ghosts whatsoever.

PJ: Okay, so what–how did you end up in this situation?

MAX: Okay. So. I was living  in Pittsburgh at the time, and I had three other roommates in an old house. And... we were sitting around the table and I don’t know, someone had the idea to do a seance. And almost unanimusly we chose my one roomate to be the medium. And she said something about like--- oh she like googled like what you say at a seance. 

(PJ laughs)

Right? So she like did this little bit. 

So we were like–we had filmed it on my MacBook.

MEDIUM:Spirits of the past. 

SEANCE GROUP: Spirits of the past. 

MEDIUM: Move among us.

SEANCE GROUP: Move among us.

MEDIUM: Be guided by the light.

SEANCE GROUP: Be guided by the light. 

MAX: And so we're sitting there. Eventually, after the bit, we're like sitting with our hands held. There's like five of us. And we're all just in the dark in the kitchen with candles and crystals and it's totally quiet. And on the kitchen counter, I had a bag of change that I used to pay for the bus. And at some point the bag of change just goes–

[Change clinking]

[whispers: The change moved]

MAX: Like a group of coins in the bag kind of, like, just like shifted a little bit.

PJ: Okay.

MAX: Which like could have been gravity.

MEDIUM: That’s a sign. I—

MAN’S VOICE: Can you move the change again?

[Change clinking]

WOMAN: I’m not joking I feel really tingly 

PJ: Ugh.

MAX: Right?

ALEX: (Laughs)

MAN: Do you come in peace? 

WOMAN’S VOICE: Can you please stop?

MAX: So then like that was too much for us. Seance over. We just like left the room.

ALEX: What do you think happened?

MAX: Okay, so here's- can I–can I like elaborate on my relationship to ghosts?

PJ: Yeah, th–this is the time.

MAX: Okay, so this is–that's like the only time I've even slightly been convinced by ghosts. But I, I want them to be real. Like I don't believe that they're real, but I am open. Like whenever there's like a spooky situation, I just really hope a ghost talks to me. Because I'd be really excited. I think it'd be a wonderful experience to talk or like have–

ALEX: I feel this way too.

PJ: Hold on. You say this but you got to the portal. You got to the doorway, like your spooky cell phone rang and you didn’t pick up. 

MAX: It was too much to handle (laughing).

PJ: I think that there was some like 200-year-old spirit that was like, “Finally, I can like say who killed me or whatever. And then was like (clears throat).” And you guys were like, “Ehh never mind.”

(ALEX laughs)

MAX: (Laughing) 


MAX: Maybe you’re right.

PJ: Thanks for calling 

MAX: Bye 

[Music ends]

[Phone ringing]

ALEX: Hi, this is PJ and Alex.

PATRICK: Hi. Uh nice to meet you guys.

ALEX: Who’s this?

PATRICK: I’m Patrick. 

ALEX: Hi Patrick. How ya doing? What’s your uh scary story?

PATRICK: Well, one time when I was in freshman year of college, I lived on this very social floor of my building. And we were all just hanging out one night. It was two or three in the morning when from this other building that faces–it’s not part of our college. It’s just this other building. We see someone in a baby face mask just looking at us. 

ALEX: (laughs)

PJ: That’s so creepy.

PATRICK: And we didn’t just see it–like we saw it. And it was staring at us. And then the light of the room turned out. I presume the guy must have been near the light switch. And it was just gone. And for like an hour, on and off, this baby face guy would just stare at us.

ALEX: What um–what kind of building was this? What–

PATRICK: So I go to college at city–

PJ: “What kind of building was this?” Is your question?

ALEX: No, no, no. Okay. Let me- let me—

PJ: What was the masonry like?

ALEX: Goddamn it.

PJ: Was it new construction or old?

ALEX: PJ, let me justify why I asked the question.

PJ: Was there a tax abatement when it was developed?

ALEX: Was it abandoned? Was it an office? Was it a residence? I’m trying to figure out like if there’s any reason that a baby face–

PJ: How thick were the windows?

ALEX: Patrick, can you tell him to stop it?

PATRICK: (Laughs) I don’t know, I love it. I like it. 

PJ: (Laughs) baby face. 

ALEX: Goddamn it.

PJ: What kind of building was it? My co-host needs to know.

PATRICK: It was just a regular apartment building across from us and I can only imagine that they just like messing with college kids.

PJ: Did baby face ever appear again?

PATRICK: No. Never after that.

ALEX: You know, I would do that baby face thing.

PJ: Yeah, I know.

(PATRICK laughs)

ALEX: When I was a kid, my brother did this thing where—so you know sometimes people on Halloween, they’ll put out the candy in a, in a bowl and be like, “Please take one”?

PJ: Yeah.


ALEX: So my brother put out a—like a scarecrow on the front porch for like weeks before Halloween. And then on Halloween night replaced the scarecrow with him (PJ laughs) with, with straw stuffed (PATRICK laughs) in his shirt and put the bowl on his lap and said, “Please take one”. And if anybody took more than one, he would like leap up and terrify them.

PJ: God–

PATRICK: That’s pretty good.

PJ: --That’s how you make an Alex Goldman.

ALEX: Uh-huh. That’s how you make a squirrely little nightmare guy. Anyway, Patrick, thanks so much for uh, telling us your scary story.

PATRICK: (laughs) 

ALEX: Take care.

PATRICK: You too. Buh-bye.

PJ: Bye.

[Phone ringing]

ALEX: You’re really the worst person.

PJ: I don’t know if that’s true.

KATIE: Hi, Alex and PJ. 

PJ: Hi.

ALEX: Who’s this?

KATIE: My name is Katie. 

KATIE: Should I tell you if I think I’m an Alex or a PJ? Are we still playing that game?

ALEX: Mehhh...

PJ: Alex’s new thing is he wants to know what kind of building everybody lives in. (ALEX laughs) What kind of building do you live in?

KATIE: Oh. A little bit scary. I live in an apartment building. (laughs)

ALEX: Um, yeah, I’m trying to be spooky by just asking people what type of building–

PJ: No, he’s not. He just- he–every story that he hears, like he–we saw Star Wars and he was just screaming “what kind of buildings do they live in” the whole time. Because apparently you don’t see Darth Vader’s house.

ALEX: At Star Wars?

PJ: Yeah.

ALEX: I mean at—

KATIE: Yeah, tell us more about it. Please.

ALEX: In space, I don’t think you have homes. You just have spaceships. Like—

PJ: No, that’s like—that’s like saying people who drive to work don’t have houses.

ALEX: Yeah, but at the end of the day—

KATIE: Right. 

ALEX: They go back to their house and they sleep there. Han Solo sleeps on the Millenium Falcon.

PJ: Not when he’s at home.

ALEX: Where is his home?

KATIE: Yeah.

PJ: You haven’t seen Star Wars Homes Editions?

ALEX: (Laughs) Star Wars Cribs?

PJ: As a guy who only cares about where people live, I feel like you’d really like it. Do you have a scary story to tell us?

KATIE: (Laughs) Okay. So, last year my friends Nicholas and Anna bought a house and they flipped it and renovated it and stuff.

PJ: This is a real Alex story.

ALEX: (Laughs) Could you tell me what—was it a Tudor?

KATIE: (Laughs) Um, I don’t think it’s a Tudor. 

PJ: Okay.

KATIE: So this house, when they bought it, the original owner of the house, uh,  was the person who they got it from. But that person died in the house when they were like 97 years old. 

PJ: Mm-hm. 

ALEX: Okay.

KATIE: So when the family was selling it to my friends, they were like, “Yeah, this woman, she was so sweet and every year on Christmas she would make this huge pancake breakfast for the family.”

ALEX: Mhm. 

KATIE: And it was something we always looked forward to, was this big pancake breakfast on Christmas.” So my friends were like, “Oh okay, that’s a nice story.” So last year it was their first Christmas in the house.

ALEX: Mhm.

KATIE: And they wake up and my friend Nicholas is like, “Oh, Anna’s making pancakes!” (Alex gasps) So he walked out and the entire house smelled like pancakes. But neither of them were cooking.

ALEX: That’s a super sweet ghost.

PJ: Yeah. Non-menacing, nice ghost.

KATIE: Yeah, right? Yeah. That’s what we were all saying. Like if you had to have a ghost haunt your house, that is the best ghost to haunt your house. 

PJ: And also like the part of me that believes in ghosts, I feel like the thing that makes it easy to believe in them is just as a creature of habit who just does the same thing over and over and over and over again, (KATIE laughs) I feel like my love of routine is strong enough that I could die, not notice that I died, and keep trying to do my routine. 

KATIE: (Laughs) Oh god. What kind of routine would come back if you died?

PJ: It would just be like, oh there’s this apartment in Brooklyn where the–the Playstation controller mysteriously rattles (ALEX laughs) and like Domino’s keeps getting these like haunting spooky phone calls where somebody moans something about a thin crust pizza.

KATIE: (Laughs) Oh my God. Well yeah, I guess of all things to happen in a haunting that—that’s not too bad.

PJ: Probably frustrating for Domino’s, but it’s fine. 

KATIE: (Laughs)


Thank you for your scary pancake call.

ALEX: Thanks, Katie.

KATIE: Yeah, thanks guys.

ALEX: Bye.


[Phone rings]

ALEX: Hello this is PJ and Alex.

MIKE: This is Mike, I’m calling from Columbus, Ohio. 

PJ: What’s your scary story?

Mike: So I uh, lived in a house in college with 6 other guys. And, uh,  I shared a room with one of them. He was a musician so he would always come home at like really weird hours of the night. And, uh, one night I woke up and I thought it was him...walking into our room, but uhh it wasn’t him.

PJ: How-- what?

MIKE: I honestly thought it was him like either packing a bag or getting ready for bed or something. But he turned the light on and my--- and my roommate never turned the light on so I was like first of all that’s really strange. 

PJ: So he turned the light on? So he knew you were like right there?

MIKE: Yeah so the way the room is set up, um, so you open the door and you see my, my roommates bed first. So his bed was on the other side of the room. And mine was along the wall closest to the door.  So when you open up the door, immediately he saw an empty bed because my roommate wasn’t there but he didn’t see me. So I kept my eyes closed. The whole time I had my my uh-- 

PJ: Oh my god. 

MIKE: ---body facing toward the wall where the door was. Uhh...and then as soon as I felt him under there. 

PJ; He was underneath your bed?

ALEX: Oh my gooood.

MIKE: Yeah I felt him underneath there. And uh, this whole time I was not thinking it was somebody else. 

PJ: Oh my god. 

MIKE: So I like turned over. Really hard. To kind of just like let ya know my room---who I thought was my roommate know: “Hey I’m awake I don’t want you under my bed.” 

PJ: Yeah

MIKE: And then the guy just got out from under there and stood there and I could feel him standing there. Because---


 MIKE:  you know like when you have your eyes closed--


MIKE: --but you know someone’s there?

PJ: Uhuh.

MIKE: So he was standing there for probably 30 seconds. And then-- I felt-- or I heard my belt jingle so he’d like lifted up my belt. 

PJ:  (Scared) Uhhh.

MIKE: And then I didn’t hear anything for like 2 min but the light was still on. 

And So I opened my eyes. And my xbox is gone. My backpack is gone. 

PJ: Oh my god.

MIKE: My wallet was gone. And to this day I still have no idea who it was.

PJ: The fact that he was standing over your bed jingling the belt to me that means like, he would have restrained you if you’d opened your eyes, right?

MIKE: I don’t know if he was trying to beat me with it or I guess I don’t know what was going through his mind at the time.

ALEX: That’s such Michael Myers behavior. 

MIKE: Yeah.

PJ: It’s also like the brazenness of it and the light and thing thing over the bed, it just feels like you were actually really close to a lot of danger.

MIKE: Yeah I mean that was-- that was like the most violating thing to me. Like, I was just angry. 

PJ: That’s a good scary story. 

ALEX: Ugh that’s horrifying.


ANNA: So my boyfriend’s house has a ghost living in it and follows us around sometimes.


ALEX: Current–currently living in it?

ANNA: Yes, currently. And we named her Linda.

PJ: Why did you name her Linda?

ANNA: I don’t know. It was–she was named that when I came into–when I first started dating him. So I don’t know where it came from.

ALEX: And when you say follows you around, does that mean follows you around the house? Or outside of the house? 


PJ: That’s your question? That’s your question? (Laughs).

ALEX: That’s just a foundational question. I’m going to ask more after that. I’m not a fucking idiot. 


ALEX: God, you’re so annoying.

PJ: (Laughing) just give me one second to recover.

ALEX: I hate him. It’s not—

PJ: (Laughing) Alex just needs to know if every story takes place in a house or not. And what kind of house it is.

ALEX: (Laughs) I’m not the weird one here. You’re the fucking weird one!

PJ: (Laughing) I’m sorry. 

ALEX: Well, I don’t accept your apology.

PJ: I’m not apologizing to you. 

ALEX: I know, that’s why I don’t accept it.

PJ: Anna, can you just tell your story?

ANNA: So there’s been a few occasions actually. The most recent time was out of the house. Funny enough.

Alex: Ha!

PJ: (Laughs) okay. Okay. 

ANNA: Um, we were at a restaurant and I was in the bathroom alone. And I was washing my hands and it wasn’t a motion sensor sink. It was the one you actually have to turn on.

PJ: Yeah.

ANNA: And so I’m done washing my hands and I turn around to go dry my hands with a paper towel and the water just starts running.

PJ: Oh. Like fully running or like dripping?

ANNA: Like, no, fully running.

ALEX: Woah.

PJ: Okay.

ANNA: So I was like, “Oh, that’s weird.” So I turn around and I go to check to make sure I turned it off, and then it just stops. 

ALEX and PJ: Ughhh!

ANNA: I was like–and I was like “Ah! I’m out here.”

PJ: This is like- that’s like—okay, that’s like the first thing that happens in a horror movie. You’re like six minutes into your horror movie.

ANNA: Exactly. And there’s been a few times where like you know when you have a desk lamp and it has like that clicking noise? Like when you turn the dial and it has that like kind of click to make sure like to tell you that it’s like turning on or whatever?

PJ: Yeah, yeah.

ANNA: So I woke up one morning—and he has a desk lamp, clearly—and you just hear the noise, like clicking. But the light’s not turning on. 

PJ: Ten minutes into the horror movie.

ANNA: And then she’ll respond. So like when I heard the clicking noise, I had just woken up and I said, “Linda, knock it off.” And it stopped. 

PJ: What a respectful ghost.

ANNA: It was like super spooky. Right! 

ALEX: Now PJ is going to get on my case because I—I do have a question about what kind of building this is.

PJ: Oh my God.

ANNA: It’s a house.

ALEX: But it- but is it like an old—

ANNA: It’s a—

ALEX: Is it a—like an old house?


ALEX: Where there could be like a ghost from the 1800s in it?

ANNA: I don’t think so.

PJ: Do you guys have theories about who Linda is and what she wants?

ANNA: So there is—I mean her name is Linda, but we do have one theory that it might be my boyfriend’s grandfather who passed when they were young.

ALEX: Why?

ANNA: I mean he was—my boyfriend was like in the fourth grade when he died. And he was just always around and so it’s kind of like— kind of making sure like he’s still there and he’s still watching them, but we just call her Linda.

PJ: So it feels like a nice thing? Like he’s like keeping an eye out for him?

ANNA: Yeah.

PJ: Huh. 

ALEX: But also occasionally annoying.

PJ: That sounds like–

ANNA: Yes.

PJ: A sort of grandfather relationship.

ANNA: That sounds like a grandfather.

PJ: Yeah.

ALEX: Yup.

PJ: Huh. Thank you. That’s a good ghost.

ALEX: That is a good ghost.

ANNA: Yeah, we like her. 


MADISON: All right, so this story is kind of what my friend and I refer to as “The Invisible Man” and it is not going to sound real but I swear to you it is real. 

PJ: Okay.

MADISON: So have you ever heard of Sherri’s?

PJ: Sherri’s?

MADISON: Yeah, Sherri’s is basically a very typical 24-hour diner. 

PJ: Okay, where is this?

MADISON: In the Northwest. 

PJ: And how—how old are you when this is happening?

MADISON: Oh jeez, this happened maybe three years ago so I was 18 at the time.

PJ & ALEX: Okay.

MADISON: So we’re just sitting there talking and I’m faced towards her and not towards the event. I kind of get a hint she is motioning at me that something’s going on behind me. So I look behind me and there is this guy talking to, like almost as if he has somehow made these clothes–like starched them. And it is propped up right in front of him on the other side of the seat. This outfit has its own cup of steaming coffee and everything. And this guy is—

PJ: Wait, he's talking to an empty pair of clothes but the clothes have the full posture of a person?

ALEX: (Laughs)

MADISON: Yes. I swear.

PJ: And how is he talking—

MADISON: They have the full posture of a person. He's crying.

PJ: The man's crying?

MADISON: Yes, he is crying and talking to this—just these clothes.

PJ: What–what was the outfit that the invisible man was wearing? Like, what did–what did the clothes look like?

MADISON: All right, so I only got pretty brief of a look. I remember the shirt being black. I didn't get a good–see like if there was any pants, but there was definitely like a jacket.

PJ: So what, in your heart, what do you think it was?

MADISON: I don't know. We didn't even know what to make of it. Like I'm not trying to make this sound more interesting than it is. Like, blatantly we just saw this guy sitting across from a starched up outfit or jacket with a co–just steaming cup of coffee in front of it. And he had his own cup of coffee, 


MADISON: --so it wasn't his. And he was just talking to the things very intently and crying.

[Voicemail plays]

AUTOMATED VOICE: The Google Subscriber you have called is not available. Please leave a message after the tone. 


NEIL: Hey guys, it's Neil. And I thought you might need a different kind of non-Halloween spooky story so this is the spookiest thing that ever happened to me. I may cry. I was taking care of my best friend during cancer treatment. And long story short, he's okay. And that's great. 

But we were in the hospital together and it was time to discharge him. And so I was running all around, trying to pack up his stuff. It had just been a really rough go and I was at my wit's end. Taxed and sleep-deprived and whatnot. And I was in the lobby of the hospital on that day and I heard somebody playing piano from another room. And it sounded exactly like my dad. 

(Tearing up)

My dad just played in a very specific way. Um, and I hadn't ever heard anybody play exactly like him. And this was exactly like him. And I didn't think much of it, you know, apart from that it was nice. 

When I got my friend bundled off into the car and we were down the road, um, that's when I realized it was the day—it was May 3rd, the day my dad had died in 2012. And it was just so– 


Hey I got cut off. I was just wrapping up. It was really spooky the way that it was so specific at such a specific time. Um, my dad was not, you know, for lack of a better term, he was not a very come back from the dead type of guy. And really pooh-poohed that kind of stuff. 

But I don't know, I just felt convinced. It really laid a finger on me in a very specific way. So um, hopefully that’s a nice ghost story. 


Hey this is Neil. I wanted to call back because I wanted to send you some um examples of my dad playing piano. Enjoy. 

[Piano music plays]

PJ:. After the break, the spookiness continues. 


PJ: Welcome back to the show. 

PHIA: Hey, guys.

ALEX: Hey.

PJ: Hey, Phia.

PHIA: So in addition to all the calls ... Me and Damiano are goin to tell you about some of our favorites. Um, so I want to tell you a story.

PJ: Mhm.

PHIA: It’s about a woman named Meghan.

PJ & ALEX: Okay.

PHIA: And growing up, Megan loved like all things horror… 

MEGHAN: The Ring, um you know, all the Exorcism movies. Like all of that stuff. I just—I loved it. 

PHIA: Hmm. [dips under]

PHIA: And she particularly loved this ghost story section of Cosmo Girl. 

MEGHAN: They had a section that was called "Freaky Deaky" and I would always read it. 

(PHIA laughs)

MEGHAN: Like scary stories. Like, aww come one. Give me all the "Freaky Deaky" stories. 

(PHIA laughs)

PHIA: So Megan is this like gigantic horror fan until one night in middle school when she wakes and she has this like horrible feeling. She feels like there’s like a pressure on her chest. And she can’t move any of her body. And like the only thing she can do is blink her eyes. 

MEGHAN: I started to panic because I was like, oh my gosh. Like the devil is coming to get me. (laughs)

PHIA: Oh noo. 

MEGHAN: Because, this sounds crazy, but in "Freaky Deaky", I remember reading about this girl who woke up and couldn't move and had like pressure on her chest. And she was like, “my grandmother told me it's the Devil sitting on your chest.” 

PHIA: Oh God. 

PJ: The other explanation by the way–

ALEX: Sleep paralysis. 

PJ: Sleep paralysis. 

PHIA: Yes. But–

PJ: Just for the record but—

PHIA: Thirteen-year-old Meghan is like, oh my God. The Devil is coming to get me. 

PJ. The Devil's on my chest. 

PHIA: This is what's happening. But also like, it goes away and being a middle schooler, she's like, I'm not gonna tell anybody that this ever happened. 

PJ: Right. 

PHIA: She goes to high school. She goes to college. Freshman year in college she's sleeping one night. She wakes up, opens her eyes and there's a man in her room, (Alex gasps) very skinny, leather jacket looking down at her. 

PJ: Not sleep paralysis. 

PHIA: Not sleep paralysis.

PJ: Jesus. 

ALEX: What does she do? 

PHIA: And she’s terrified and part of what makes it so scary is that he’s in perfectly in focus and she has horrible vision. 

PJ: Oh so normally, if she’d wake up in the middle of the night she wouldn’t be able to see anything clearly but she can see him as if she’s wearing glasses. 

PHIA: Yeah. 

  MEGHAN: He didn’t move. He’s like standing there. And my heart is pounding like: “Oh my gosh. What is going on?”

PHIA: Like thirty seconds later he disappears. She can't sleep the rest of the night. 

ALEX: I can imagine. When you say disappears, you mean like into thin air. 

PHIA: He just dissolves. Yes. This sort of thing starts happening to her every month. And then twice a month, every week, every night. And eventually it's happening to her every time she lays down.

PJ: Ohh. Even just with like—I've had paralysis and I've had lots of nightmares (PHIA: Uh huh) and you hit a point where you're like, I don't want to go to sleep. Like why (PHIA: Yeah) would I want to subject myself (PHIA: Right) to eight hours of apocalypse?

PHIA: Right. 

PJ: I can't imagine. It's just such a hell. 

PHIA: Totally like for Meghan she started trying to avoid sleep like any way she could. She got awfully depressed. And eventually her parents were like, something is really wrong. We're sending you to a sleep study. 

So they send her to this place and she like sleeps with all the monitors on her. And she wakes up the next day, goes home. Like a week later gets the results and they're like, um, yes. You have a form of narcolepsy that includes sleep paralysis and hypnopompic hallucinations.

PJ: What are hypnopompic–?

ALEX: What the heck is a hypnopompic–?

PJ: Hallucinations.

PHIA: Ok so hypnopompic hallucinations are ones you experience as you’re waking up. What was happening to Meghan is that she was experience that sometimes but she was also experiencing sleep paralysis. And what this is is… when we’re sleeping your body release these chemicals that stops you from like enacting all the things that you're dreaming. 

PJ: If you have a dream where you're running, you body will release these chemicals so that your body won't actually run. 

PHIA: Right. And so for her, the chemicals are still at like full function after she wakes up.

PJ: Right. 

PHIA: And then also she's having these hallucinations. It's like the barrier between sleep and wake isn't working. 

PJ: Right. So she wakes up. Her body still thinks that she's supposed to be asleep so she can't move and like the nightmare film is still screening. 

PHIA: Right. And so she gets the results and she's like, great. 

MEGHAN: Now what do we do? They're, they’re like, "Oh well there's no cure." And I'm like—

PHIA: Ughh.

MEGHAN: Wonderful. But they were like, they were like, “The only cure is to master your fear.” 

PHIA: What does that mean?

MEGHAN: Mastering your fear isn't necessarily like, don't be scared cause you're going to be scared. Like last year, my husband was sleeping next to me and I saw this

colonial woman hovering over me and she had like a deformed face and one eyeball that was like really wide open.

PHIA: ew uhhh.

MEGHAN: And she’s, like, she took—I felt like she took me reeling back like ten steps and I was like so like upset. And that happens sometimes, you know? But it's about

like training yourself to be like, okay you're not, you’re not there. Or you are there but you don't scare me. 

PJ: Wow. And so does it work? Like does it get easier?

PHIA: She seems to not be afraid of going to sleep anymore. If her husband's on a trip, she puts on The Office and sleeps to The Office the whole night but she does sleep now. 

PJ: I’ve done that. Yeah. 

PHIA: The other thing that I'll just say is that I was like so, when you hear other people's ghost stories now, what do you think? And she's like, "Oh, they're all hallucinations." 


MEGHAN: There’s like tons of people who were like I was levitating or an alien spaceship flew through my window and I’m like you were hallucinating. Cause like one

time we were like at a hotel like a hundred-year-old hotel, like two years ago. And it was rickety, crickety, you know. And I just saw this cowboy, in a ski suit. And he just

walked through the wall. And I was like, that wasn't a ghost. That was just one of my hallucinations.

DAMIANO: Hi boys! So I talked to a guy named Isaac.

PJ and ALEX: Uh-huh.

DAMIANO: He grew up in Berkeley in the 90s. And one night he and his friends, they drive out, there's like a park, like a big, like, park with a forest and stuff in it.

ISAAC: So we—we rode a couple cars out there and there was a little like building like that had—like events could be held at. 


ISAAC: And we were just going to go hang out there. We hiked in after parking two cars, came back up this, this road. (DAMIANO: Mhm) And then we found the building

and proceeded to start our little teenager party.

DAMIANO: Isaac brings his like big boombox that he loves very much.

PJ: Because he's a teenager in the 90s. 

DAMIANO: Yeah. And there's like sort of a clearing area and so they're like drinking beers and smoking weed and like listening to music. And, all of a sudden, (laughing) one of- one of–one of his friends is like, "Do you guys hear like a saxophone?"

ALEX: (Laughs)

PJ: Really?

DAMIANO: Yeah, really. Like the ululation of a saxophone? 

PJ: The least spooky of instruments.

ALEX: I know.

DAMIANO: I know. 

ALEX: All I can think of is the riff from "Careless Whisper", you know that George Michael song? (Sings the saxophone part from "Careless Whisper")

PJ: That was also the saxophone thing in my head, I don't know why. Not scary. 

DAMIANO: Um, then one of his friends turns around and is like: “Look.” And on the hill above them, like 20 ft away, it’s like a high kind of hill above them. They see a man in a white sweater playing a saxaphone.

PJ: That’s so weird.  

ALEX: I'm imagining like a full moon and like this guy just silhouetted at the top of this—at the top of this mountain and I imagine it just looking so cool.

DAMIANO: Just blasting. Mhm.

ALEX: Just like him with like one leg out front and one leg out back and he's like—he's got his back arched and he's just blowing that horn.


PJ: So what happened next? (Damiano laughs) Did something happen next?

DAMIANO: So- so they're- they're— so they're all like yelling at this guy like, "Come down! Party with us! Like come hang out with us."

PJ: Come on, sax man.

DAMIANO: Yeah. Sax man doesn't budge. So two of their friends like run up the hill and um, then run back and are like,

ISAAC: And they're like, "Guys, guys, we just went up there. There's a bunch of people up there and they're messing with us." We're like what? "Yeah. Come on. We got

to go. We all got to go. Everyone, everyone, gather up, gather up." And we all gather up and we go over this hill and—and down the hill into this amphitheater space. I

get a little nervous, because I left my boombox over by the building. 

DAMIANO: Mm-hmm.

ISAAC: I'm like, "Oh man, if there's someone messing with us, they're probably going to go after my boombox."

DAMIANO: So they start to walk back and the friend in like the back of the pack, like, he sees something or hears something 'cause he starts like motioning everyone sort of like quietly, like, follow him, follow him. But Isaac, he's–he like gets back to the camp, gets his hands on his boombox and then he starts to hear like screaming like bloody murder.

PJ: Ugh.

ISAAC: And then they're all running down the trail at high speed and their faces are white and they're screaming, "Run! Run!" And I turn around and I'm doing my best to

run and keep up with this, when I have no idea why everyone is running for their lives.

DAMIANO: Mm-hmm.

ISAAC: And I've got a boombox jostling and we're just running down the trail and then we get pretty close to the gate and I'm trying to ask questions like, "What

happened?"  They're like, "We just need to go. We just need to go." And I'm like, "Come on, what's going on?" They're like, "Look, we need to get out of here. We need

to...." And I'm like, “Okay, okay.” And we get to—to my parents' car. 


ISAAC: It's a—it's an '80 Buick at the time. And the doors are wide open. 

DAMIANO: (gasps)

DAMIANO: And these two lights start coming up the road from behind them.

PJ: Like car lights?

DAMIANO: Yeah, car lights. And he still doesn't know what had happened, what was going on. The car lights, it’s the cops. They must have heard the screaming or something. They came to check it out. They make Isaac and his friends throw out like their beer and the weed that they have and then they follow them out. When he gets out, he finally asks his friends like, "What the hell happened?"

And apparently, his friends were like running through the woods and they started to hear children’s voices.

PJ: What?

DAMIANO:  And then these like orbs of light started to circulate. Like he--he--he interviewed them all individually and they all like corroborated the same story. And one of them told him, that this like beam of light, like shot through the woods, pierced him, and he felt chills.  

ALEX: That is so cool. Every element of the story is amazing.

PJ: It kind of sounds like a weird nightclub. Also–


PJ: It makes you wonder if the sax man was trying to warn them–


PJ: Or lure them. Could have been a force for good. 

DAMIANO: Yeah. Uhh--

ALEX: Do you think that a ghostly sax man is like trying to—trying to toot them away from danger?

PJ: Yeah. 

DAMIANO & ALEX: (laugh)

PJ: Don't be careless with your whispers. 

DAMIANO: (Laughing) toot them away from danger. I hope there's a man with a sax trying to do good in the woods.

ALEX: This is the happiest I've ever been. This story makes me happier than anything.

DAMIANO: So, he lives in Humboldt now. And like, ten year–I think it's ten years later? He says he like finally figured out what it was all about. 

PJ: What was it about? I have a guess.

DAMIANO: Ok guess.

PJ: Weird avant garde, practicing in the woods. 

Damiano: That’s close.

PJ: What was it?

DAMIANO: So um, the woods were—it--it  was a eucalyptus forest. 

PJ: What does that mean?

DAMIANO: So eucalyptus is not native to California. And they were brought over from Australia at some point. And he says that every tree and every plant, they have like a spirit to them. And he says, for sure what the sounds that they were hearing were, were fairies. 

PJ: That is not at all a helpful-- I really thought the explanation was going to be something based in the world of reason and fact.

ALEX: It’s so funny when he said,  “is it an avant garde band?” he was like “close” and then it turned out it was avant fairies.

PJ: Close. It’s Australian fairies. 

DAMIANO: Well that’s what he says. It’s fairies. And he also told me that it’s Jack London’s fault apparently because when he brought eucalyptus trees over, he also brought fairies. 

ISAAC:I don't think Jack London knew what the hell he was doing when he brought all these eucalyptus trees to, to North America. It was a really, really crazy mistake,

but I think it also brought spirits. And that like the–really the end all be all of the universe is that everything has to lean towards being funny.

DAMIANO: (Laughs) I like that as the conclusion.

ISAAC: It's fairies. Ba-doy. So obvious now.

DAMIANO: (Laughs) Oh clearly.

DAMIANO: Um, so that—that wraps up that case.        


ALEX: (Laughs) 


ALEX: I want to go to this forest so badly. 

[Music cuts out]

ALEX BLUMBERG: Hi. This is Alex Blumberg Co-founder of Gimlet Media. This is where the credits would, um, normally play but the co-host of Reply All, Alex Goldman, went missing last week. We’re really disturbed and sad here. The only possible clue to his disappearance is the following audio file we found on his laptop. 

[Audio file plays]

ALEX GOLDMAN: Reply All is hosted by (clears throat). Reply All is hosted by PJ Vogt and me, Alex Goldman. We’re produced by Sruthi Pinnamaneni, Phia Bennin, Damiano Marchetti, Anna Foley, Jessica Yung and Emmanuel Dzotsi. Our executive producer is Tim Howard. We’re mixed by Rick Kwan. Fact checking by Michelle Harris. Our intern is Rachel Cohn. Thank you to everyone who reached out with their spooky stories and special thanks to Maire Spurgeon, Sarah Konishi, and Susan Brackney. Our theme song is by the mysterious Break Master Cylinder and our ad music is by build---

[cell phone rings]

ALEX: Hey babe.


ALEX: What’s going on. How you doing?

SARAH: Um good, I’m just wondering if you knew what time you’re coming home tonight?

ALEX: Um, I’m just finishing up the cre-- I’m just finishing up the credits, I just have to edit them and then I’m gonna get on the train. So idk, an hour.

SARAH: So wait Kalila’s leaving at 9:30, so...

ALEX: Ok I’ll definitely be home by 9:30 so you don’t have to worry about that. 


ALEX: Alright, love you.

SARAH: Sounds good. Love you too. Bye.

ALEX: Bye. 

ALEX: Our theme music is by Break Master Cylinder. Our ad music is by Build Buildings. The piano music you heard in this episode was written and performed by Neil Cleary's father, William Cleary. Matt Lieber is probably a vampire. You can listen to the show on Spotify or wheever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you in 2 weeks.

[door opens]

ALEX: Hello? Hello?

[banging, footsteps, machine beeping, glass breaking]

ALEX: Oh my god. Oh my god. What the fuck was that? What the fuck?

[emergency siren]

AUTOMATED ALARM : Please exit the building. Do not use elevators. I repeat do not use elevators.

[Phone ringing]

ALEX: (whispering) I need you to send a police officer. There’s something in here. (deep breathing) I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what it is. I’m in 41 Flatbush. It’s like an animal. I’m on the 7th floor-- I don’t know what the fuck it is. I need you to come right now.

[monster screech]

[audio ends]