(This is one of many items in a forthcoming horror/comedy novel about a strange town called Wilthaven. As always, I hope you enjoy… – OJ)
TV REPORT 1
The following footage was uncovered as part of a ‘clear out’ by a local Public Broadcasting Station in central Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in January 1971. According to those who reported the footage to us, it matched no known programmes the local station ever broadcast. Markings on the film-can reference an address based in Wilthaven – known to BPD officials as P1983 – and dated April, 1962. Most of the footage was unsalvageable, but the following transcription was the clearest we could save, bar the odd colour disintegration and visual static. Footage is presented in a 5:4 aspect ratio, with a mono audio track.
– Fyfe, Bureau for Paranormal Discoveries
CUT TO: Sound stage covered in neon wooden walls, littered about in a haphazard way. A man (henceforth known as Subject A), 40s, is standing in MS, centre screen, dressed in a white suit with a wand microphone in hand. He is smiling and mid-sentence as the footage begins.
A: … today’s prizes. Gee, they look like a swell bunch. But as we all know, there can only be one winner, and that’s what this final round is going to help us with. You got it, folks, its time for…?
Audience: Schrodinger’s Box!
Subject A laughs to himself as he walks stage right, passing three, large, different coloured boxes placed in a diagonal line. As he finishes his walk, we see that they are placed in a rhombic parallel to three podiums, each with a person behind them.
A: That’s right! It’s time for Schrodinger’s Box, the round where there are only two answers, and only one correct one. Contestants, are you ready to gamble on Schrodinger’s Box?
The three contestants nod nervously behind their podiums, smiling.
A: Then here we go!
Jaunty music plays as lightbulbs flicker on and off on the neon walls behind them, as the audience cheers. Subject A moves toward the contestant on the far left, and leans in toward them.
A: Now, Jenny, we start with you. Who did you nominate to go into the box today?
Jenny: My neighbour, Tom.
A: Do you like Tom?
J: When he’s not mowing his lawn at 5 in the morning.
Audience laughs, as does Subject A.
A: I think we all know that feeling. Well, I guess there’s only one thing for it then, Jenny. To win your prize, all I ask is… is your neighbour Tom alive? Or dead?
Tense music plays as the camera SLOW ZOOMS into Jenny’s face.
A: Let’s find out, shall we? Open the box!
The box on the far left opens, to reveal a middle-aged man cuddled up in there. As the door opens, he looks around in shock, before smiling. The audience cheers.
A: Jenny, you’re right! Tom is, indeed, alive in the box! Congratulations!
Jenny jumps up and down with joy behind her podium, before rushing out and embracing a clearly confused Tom. A lady in a red cocktail dress, Subject B, guides them off camera, stage left.
Subject A moves to the middle podium, where a portly man is standing, sweating profusely.
A: Next up, ol’ Wendell here. Wendell, you look nervous.
Wendell: I am.
A: And why not? Your big prize relies on this 50/50 decision. It’s a tough call, who did you put in the box?
W: (Looks around, swallows hard) My co-worker, Sandy.
Subject A nods slowly and motions for the audience to be quiet.
A: Interesting choice. Why was that?
Wendell rocks his head from side to side, before slowly smiling.
W: I don’t want to say.
A: (Laughs) Don’t worry, Wendell, we’ve all been there. Well, the time has come. To win your big prize, I ask you… is Sandy alive? Or is Sandy dead?
Tense music begins again, as the camera SLOW ZOOMS into Wendell’s face. He is sweaty heavily.
A: Are you sure?
W: (Pause) I’m sure.
A: Then let’s find out. Open the box!
The middle box opens, and a young lady, Sandy, falls out onto her hands and knees. Judging by the smears of makeup on her face, she has been crying. The audience groans.
A: Well I’m sorry, Wendell, but it appears Sandy is, in fact, alive.
Wendell begins shaking as Subject B helps Sandy up and off camera, stage left. Subject A guides Wendell from behind his podium as Wendell mutters something inaudible, and also guides him off camera, stage left.
A: Which means, we are down to the final box, and our final contestant.
Subject A moves over to the far right podium, behind which stands a woman, approx. mid-30s.
A: Dana, how are we feeling?
Dana: Good, I think.
A: I bet! That’s because who have you put inside Schrodinger’s Box today to get your big prize?
D: My husband, Grant.
A: That’s sweet, Dana. Keeping it in the family. Not many go that route on this show.
Dana nods slowly.
A: Do you love your husband?
D: (Pause) Very much.
A: And will the big prize help you both?
D: So much.
A: Well then, we all have our fingers crossed for you. It only leaves me to ask you the question. Is Grant alive?
Audience laughs as Subject A feigns being shocked.
A: Whoa there, Dana. We have to inject some sort of mystery in the show otherwise they’ll take us off the air.
Audience laughs some more.
A: So, to clarify, you’re saying your husband is alive?
A: Well… let’s open the box!
The box on the far right opens, and reveals the corpse of a man in his early-30s, Grant. His eyes have rolled back into their sockets, only showing the whites, while his jaw hangs loose with his tongue lolling out the side. His skin is a greyish-white, and his clothes are smothered in an unknown grey liquid that leaks out the bottom of the box.
Subject A stands at the podium feigning disbelief, as Dana stands there, eyes wide in shock and hands covering her mouth. She seems to jerk forward as if retching.
A: Well ain’t that a kick in the head. Sorry, Dana, but it looks like Grant is no more, along with your chance at today’s big prize. Well then…
Subject A moves toward the camera, as we see Subject B move toward Dana. Dana lets out a low wail as Subject B struggles with her, and Subject A smiles at the camera.
A: Not everyone can win at Schrodinger’s Box, but that’s just the way it is. Sometimes you’re alive, sometimes you’re dead, and as the people of Wilthaven know, sometimes even that isn’t guaranteed.
Audience laugh, Dana is still shrieking in background.
A: Which just leaves me to say, until next time, hail Hq’tar!
Footage CUTS TO static.
No further footage was recoverable on the rest of the reel. Footage has been passed to the BPD Research Team to gather any information on the show’s host, or contestants. Will update document if any further information is attained.
– Fyfe, Bureau of Paranormal Discoveries