Season One, as recounted by the characters who lived it.

The first season of The Cover Story campaign was never recorded, its exploits lost to history. Until now! We’ve put together a recap of everything that happened so you can follow along with our favorite show (and yours!).

Let Mark, Casey and Kira tell you all about the weirdest year of their lives in their own words, and get a first-hand account of the events leading up to Season Two!

My name is Mark Clayton. I’m a reporter with the Daily Tuba. I’d honestly be surprised if you’ve heard of us. We’re the smaller of the three major print outlets in Minneapolis, plus we report on the weird stuff. Well, I do. Me and Kira Ashwood. 

And on this particular day, our boss Kent Clark sent us to investigate something going on at the Stroud Manor. You’ve probably heard of the Stroud family mainly for their expansive real estate empire, or maybe for the weird rumors about their funeral practices. You know: “Strouds in shrouds”? It’s a whole thing.

Anyway, the Stroud family mansion had been in the family for generations. But recently, it had been sold for the first time ever. And for a stunningly low price. Oh! And also, it was haunted.

When we got there, we met up with an old friend. Casey Davis, who was now an investigator with EARS. A real Men-In-Black type outfit. Extranormal Analysis and Research… Something. You probably haven’t heard of them, that’s kind of the whole point.

So, we interrogated the new owner, a nice enough guy named Frank Garcia who at first thought that the knocking in his walls was just neighbors messing with him. He told us that as a rich, Mexican tech geek, he was pretty used to people not liking him. But then the knocking started following him around, so he invited his brother Rigo to stay with him. Trouble was, we arrived just in time to see whatever was knocking on the walls rip poor Rigo in half. 

We ran into the room in time to see a vaguely human-shaped ghost spirit, but with huge teeth and claws, and we managed to dispel it. I… um… talked to Rigo’s ghost? That’s a thing I can do. See and talk to ghosts and spirits. Anyway, turns out Rigo had been killed by the ghost of Ezekiel Stroud—the one who built the family mansion in the late 1800s.

We wound up getting jumped by Ezekiel a couple times, and each time he appeared, he looked worse. More monstrous. It took all our tools and abilities to send him off each time. And at one point, huge black wings sprung out of Kira’s back. I was supposed to be the weird one!

Anyway, Casey was able to call into EARS to get some more info on old Ezekiel, see if there was anything we could use. Turns out he was married twice. First to a Loretta Dowell, and then to a Lorraine Dowell. Yes, they were sisters. Also, she found that the family was being investigated by somebody else. The file was marked with a black rose—more on that later.

We kept exploring the house and found the ghost of a young maid named Nelly who’d worked for the Strouds. I got her talking, and it turned out that she’d had an affair with Bertram Stroud and wound up pregnant. But when Bertram’s wife found out, she had the poor girl poisoned. She’d wandered the grounds as a ghost for some time, much of that time with Ezekiel’s ghost. But something had turned him mean. Recently.

It turns out the family grave plot was on the property, which was useful since we were dealing with a ghost. Find and burn the remains. But when we got to the little cemetery, someone else was already there: The Invisible Family. There was a young woman who introduced herself as DAD, and a man who called himself MOM. There was also a… donkey who they called UNCLE. I know. It didn’t make any sense to us either. Not yet. But they seemed to be there to help and they knew what they were talking about, supernatural-wise. So, we dug up Ezekiel’s grave, but the remains inside weren’t his. It was just a bunch of random bones.

Ultimately, we went to the cellar, where the funerary rites took place. There we found Ezekiel Rose the Fourth, doing something to Ezekiel Stroud’s true remains. We did a lot of shooting and kicking and tossing of fire and eventually managed to burn the whole cellar down, including Ezekiel’s remains, and took Ezekiel the 4th into EARS custody.

Oh, and EARS um… did something to Frank’s memory? And when we went out to see what had happened to the Invisible Family, they were nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, when I wrote up the story to turn in, Kent said it sounded like a bunch of horsefeathers. Oh, well. Better luck next time. 

I’m Casey Davis. Agent Davis to most. I work with the Investigations Unit for EARS, which stands for the Extranormal Analysis and Reconnaissance Society. We investigate supernatural happenings, and if there’s monsters, we put them down.

But on this particular day, a few weeks after the fiasco at the Stroud Manor, I wasn’t working. I was trying to be there for my cousin Aaron Davis, a scientist and inventor. He’d been working on a machine that he claimed could completely scan and project the inner workings of the brain. Not sure why that’s good, but he’s my cousin, so I showed up for him.

I should have known things were going to go sideways when I saw Mark Clayton and Kira Ashwood show up to cover the event for the Daily Tuba. Because the moment Aaron put on the device, it started to malfunction in a big way. It created multiple holographic images of him, and then appeared to open some kind of giant, sphere-shaped gateway that a spidery monster started coming through.

Naturally, I leapt into action and shut down the machine. As I cleared the area, Mark and Kira… helped, I encountered a young man in a military jacket who claimed that Aaron was like him: a Third Son of a Third Son, and that his mind shouldn’t be copied. According to him, such a person can access his past lives. And that kind of mind can attract creatures from somewhere else.

Speaking of somewhere else, that’s apparently where the museum had been teleported to. When we tried to leave, the doors opened out not into the cloudy afternoon but some kind of hell dimension. We didn’t have time to be too impressed, because The Invisible Family showed up again. This time, UNCLE the donkey was a tall man who kind of gave me priest vibes. DAD quarantined us inside, and we agreed to work together to get everyone out alive. 

Between intel from the Family and what I could gather from my handler—The Producer—we figured out that we were probably dealing with some kind of gateway to another dimension. Seems another monster hunter by the name of Nick Sparks tried to seal the gateway some time ago. Either it didn’t take back then, or Aaron’s machine was stirring it up. DAD’s working theory was that something was trying to break through, and was planning to use some of the people inside the museum to do it. She said to think of it like a beast looking for food. Once we figured out what they were after, all we had to do is keep it from them. Starve the predator.

Speaking of Aaron’s machine, it turns out his main benefactor was a wealthy old silver fox named Nathaniel Rose. Kira had her intern look into him, and it turned out he was the grandson of Marinette Jones. Which made him the great grandson of Ezekiel Stroud.

We continued around the museum, trying to find the gateway, and looking for survivors. The whole place was besieged by what appeared to be flickery digital ghosts from throughout history. In one of the attacks, Mark burst wings from his back to get a burst of speed. Just like Kira’s. I don’t know where they came from, but this really pissed Kira off. She went off on him about how he had no idea what she had gone through to get her wings. Definitely made a note of that.

Eventually we regrouped with Aaron and the man in the military jacket and discovered that something called “The Sleepers in the Dark” were trying to hitch a ride to Earth using these Third Sons, because as they said, they had “lives to spare.” A whole mess of them came at us and went for the man in the military jacket. So, I did what DAD said. I starved the predator. I shot the man dead.

The rest of us escaped and Aaron led us to a secret area of the museum that he seemed to remember from a past life. An area that had been a chapel. We found a photograph of three men dressed like it must have been the 1920s. John Graal—who Aaron had been in a past life—Bertram Stroud—Ezekiel Stroud’s son—and Branson Branson, identified as “B.B.” A fourth man—Craig Throat—was named on the back of the photo, but not pictured. 

According to Aaron, each of these men had been kings of industry in their day, who wanted to push the limits of their power. So, in 1921, the four of them gathered for some kind of ritual to “pierce the veil.” But instead of contacting whatever God they were after, they contacted these monsters. The Sleepers in the Dark, and their queen. At the time, it was Craig Throat who managed to send her away, but they all recalled hearing another voice beyond the gateway. A more naïve voice.

Then suddenly, Craig Throat himself turned up in the chapel, looking just as young as the men in the photograph, and told us he knew how to close the doorway that had been opened. We had to perform the Four Kings’ ritual, but in reverse. Using Aaron’s device, we were able to watch the ritual. At first it was just the three in the picture. Each man added a sigil glyph representing himself to a pile, until they were stacked atop each other forming a rune that opened a portal in the room, not unlike the one we’d seen on the stage. A trio of arms reached out of the portal and grabbed the men by the forehead. A fourth arm reached out and seemed to manifest Craig Throat. Then, B.B. fully disappeared.

But it didn’t matter. We had what we needed. We performed the ritual, backwards. And as the Queen screamed somewhere distantly, each of us also heard that second, naïve voice. It showed us visions of ourselves somewhere in the future. Kira saw herself on a throne, powerful and horrible with dozens of subjects. Mark saw himself transformed into a monster of strength and magic. And me? I saw myself as the Director of EARS.

That small voice asked us “Is this what you wish to become?” I said no. It seemed like some kind of deal. And I’m not one to make deals with entities that can make me see things. I’m not sure what the other two said. They both seemed pretty shaken by what they saw.

But we’d done it. We’d closed the gateway and pushed back the sleepers in the dark. Turns out, it was only the beginning.

My name is Kira Ashwood, reporter for the Daily Tuba. By now, Mark and I had gotten used to being sent out on the weird assignments. And we were honestly getting pretty used to running into Agent Casey Davis when we did. But this one wasn’t a supposed haunting or a science experiment. This was murder. And a lot of them. The wall of a local laundromat had just exploded, and out walked something with knives, or claws. And it had killed a lot of people.

We looked into the laundromat and found it crawling with police. We made friends with a Detective Hartley and talked ourselves into getting a look at the security feed. And what it looked like was that monster hunter Nick Sparks had done the exploding and the killing. But we’d learned through our research that Nick was miles away, on the hunt for his brother Tommy who’d been missing for years.

Then we got the idea to walk through the exploded wall and we found… an office. But not the office of the laundromat. An office that wasn’t supposed to exist. Fancy, well-appointed, and ransacked. Turns out it belonged to a group called “EYES.” East Yorkshire Elder Sciences. And there was a door in the opposite wall that seemed to be a kind of gateway.

Naturally, we all walked right through it, and found ourselves walking out of the doghouse in front of a suburban home. A quick breaking-and-entering later we found out the place was a sort of safehouse for EYES, called “Offpost 6.” It was decked out like a model home, but we found a strange notebook and startlingly complete dossiers on… us. All of us. Me, Mark and Casey.

The notebook was no less distressing. EYES had learned through what they called “Primary Sources” that the gateway we had closed in the museum was just one of countless doors into something known as The Infinite Hallway. A sort of nexus dimension that connected to this world, and an infinite number of others. Many more of those doors remained open, and just about anything could come through them.

Our investigations were interrupted by a knock at the door. It was some kind of local cop, a State Trooper. And we might have been in some real trouble—remember the B & E from earlier? Except this particular Trooper turned out to be none other than Casey Davis’s cousin Dale. 

As he was questioning us, something huge and horrible tore through the street and snatched him up. The thing moved with inhuman speed, and when we caught a glimpse of it, it appeared like a huge werewolf that was made of pure energy. We ran out to confront it, and Mark wound up sprouting those damned wings of his and chasing it around the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, poor Dale had been ripped in half by the ghostwolf. His legs were completely detached, but he was still hanging on. I felt horrible. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like, even more than us! But I can… do things. Dark magics that I thought just maybe I could twist to help out here. I held my hands over his phantom bottom half and… made him a new set of legs out of some kind of solid shadow. I think he was exactly as grateful as he was terrified.

In the aftermath of the attack, we saw a van pull up nearby, and out stepped several members of a murder cult. A cult I used to be part of. Divinity’s Shadow. They’re bad news. 

And apparently, they were following the trail of bodies the ghostwolf was leaving behind and collecting blood and spirit energy from the attacks in what we later learned were some kind of batteries they could use to open the Infinite Hallway.

We tried to chase off the cultists, but we were attacked by… me. See, the ghostwolf was a doppelgänger of Nick Sparks who’d come through the hallway. And this was another me from another world. She was missing her right hand and in its place was a ferocious looking black metal axe. She told us the Creator had sent her here to push the cult beyond the veil. 

She put up a hell of a fight, but so did we. Between my weird magic, Mark’s surprising adaptability and Casey’s straight up gunplay, we put her down. We found a notebook that we couldn’t open, and I decided to take the axe hand for my own weapon. Seemed only fair.

We got a call from Hartley that the laundromat was under attack again, so we went back as quick as we could. Unfortunately, we were too late. Hartley and about half of the cops on the scene were dead. And the place was under siege by a veritable army of Divinity’s Shadow cultists, and a trio of winged doppelgängers: Yet another version of me, a nasty looking Mark Clayton and… DAD.

It looked like a fight, and we weren’t sure we could win this one. 

It certainly didn’t look good. An exploding laundromat, a monster fight in a sleepy suburb, and now some kind of showdown in the middle of the city? All I could hope was that someone else from the Daily Tuba would be able to make enough sense of this to turn my death into a decent story.

That didn’t mean we weren’t going to fight like hell. It’s weird, you know. Trading blows with, um, yourself. But since the other me and the other Kira had the same wings we had, I figured it would be a good idea to take as much of the fight as we could to the sky.


Leaving me on the ground to coordinate the surviving police and push back the absolute onslaught of these Divinity’s Shadow freaks. But it’s hard to manage a ground battle when your bad guys have fucking wings.

Mark and Kira were trading bloody blows with their doppelgängers, and my poor defensive line was getting picked off one by one. We were losing.


Over the noise of the battle, a nondescript van screeched into our perimeter, and a tall, long-haired handsome man slid open the door and told us to get in. We didn’t wait to ask questions. He introduced himself as “Steg,” and along with the young Indian man, Gad, and the clairvoyant 10-year-old girl, Riley, in the front seat, they were with an offshoot of the murder cult I’d been a part of. They called themselves Dawnbreak,, and they believed I was some kind of messiah. But they told me they were dedicated to ensuring I didn’t do whatever I was destined to do.


Which turned out not to be quite so true. At their headquarters, a shitty house in a shitty neighborhood, we met their shitty leader: a twitchy guy named Miklos. He talked like, well, like a cult leader and overall gave us very bad vibes. He eventually forced Kira to try to open a door into the Infinite Hallway to prove she was something called “His Voice,” and amazingly, Kira was actually able to do it.

But the realities of being inside The Hallway were horrible. Inside was this vast empty space with distant purple and golden lightning flashing everywhere. And the noise of the place. Like whooshing and chattering and painfully loud whispers. The three of us were sucked in, and something about being there started to drain us of strength. Fatigued and weakened, we fought in vain to make our way back through the door, until Steg turned into a dang werewolf and pulled us out, one by one, saving our lives.


We didn’t get much time to catch our breath. Upstairs, Nick Sparks was leading a full-on assault on Dawnbreak, apparently in league with The Invisible Family—the young woman who went by DAD, the mustachioed man called MOM and now, an 11-year-old boy in one of their distinctive black suits who they called KID.

Kira managed to get the people who had helped us escape to retreat to safety rather than fight and die in a battle against what were basically good guys. “This is not the way,” she told them, which… really affected them, and they got away safe.

Well, except for Steg, who embraced Nick like a brother, which, it turns out, is exactly what they were. Nick and Tommy Sparks, reunited at last.

The Family took us to their headquarters, which was in the basement of a damn bodega over by the University. At least it was in a better part of town, and it was decked out with all things magical, technological, and everything in between. We even got to meet the Family’s… bosses. Huge beings made of something like pure energy named GRANDMA and GRANDPA


They knew things. About the world, and about all of us. And they told us that Miklos’s real plan was to head to something called The Source—a massive gateway into The Hallway that’s big enough to bring The Creator through— and open it before the main cult had a chance to do it.

The Source was in a Divinity’s Shadow temple, one I knew my way around. The group of us—along with Nick and Tommy—made our way in, half-sneaking, half-fighting and managed to rescue a version of me who wasn’t trying to kill us. Dressed like some kind of superhero.

Miklos’s cult was there, using drums filled with blood and spirit energy to juice up The Source with enough energy to split it open. We put them down, and wrecked the machine, but the loose, wild magic wound up temporarily transforming us all into… teenagers. And I don’t know if it was the way he handled himself in the fight or my suddenly 16-year-old feelings, but damn did Tommy look cute. 

I asked him out on the spot. And, he, um, said… yes.

Over the next few weeks, I’d been working with EARS to see about getting Kira a job with me. She certainly had the strength, and she’d proven herself capable enough. It would be probationary, but since I was moving up in the ranks—and was soon to take command of my own team—there’s that old saying about when you have nothing more to learn, it’s time to start teaching.


The idea of being an agent was exciting and everything, but I had a date with a very handsome boy. Don’t be like that, it wasn’t all mushy stuff. We’re both in the monster-hunting business after all, and it turns out we both have a lot of baggage. Tommy being a werewolf wasn’t entirely on purpose. And it turns out that the woman who had turned him—an ex-girlfriend named Sarah Flass—was not only still alive, but apparently had some degree of control over him. Because in the middle of our date, Tommy wolfed out and burst through the diner window, escaping madly into the night.

We did some research and found that the only ways to remove this ‘sire bond’ would be to either kill Sarah, or perform some kind of ritual where we combine her blood with his and “Boil it in the Green.” Whatever that means. I didn’t know Sarah Flass, but she was someone who was important to Tommy, and that was important to me. I told the team that we shouldn’t kill her. Casey said she’d do what she could, but that wasn’t good enough. I made her promise.


Then the weirdest thing happened—we absolutely tripped over another lead. See, the agency “EYES” stood for East Yorkshire Elder Sciences. And we ran smack dab into a guy with an East Yorkshire accent. Literally. He was trying to hunt us, and we hit him with our car.

But with him out cold, we couldn’t exactly interrogate him, so Tommy suggested we do something called a Dream Dive, where we could go directly into his mind. Casey seemed reluctant. Apparently, it’s something she’d done before. And apparently it hadn’t gone well.

We did it though, and it was weird. Real dream logic stuff. Like a trippy experimental film. But we learned that this agent—Doctor Michael Umm—believed that something inside The Hallway was the biggest threat to our world, but he couldn’t get his agency to believe him. We also found out that EYES as an organization got their intel from something they called “Primary Sources,” but we didn’t get to dig much deeper because-


We were attacked. Of course we were attacked! Dream dives don’t end well for me. A group of well-armed EYES soldiers surrounded my home where we’d holed up. My home! 

We took them out, and I took one hostage. No need to tell the others. Not yet.

Back on the trail of Sarah Flass, Nick happened to have a vial of her blood. Seems he hadn’t been able to bring himself to kill her all those years ago—and look how that worked out—but he’d kept the blood as an insurance policy. And that’s how we tracked her and her pack to Boom Island Park.

It wasn’t long after we got there that Mark got weird. Like, weirder than usual.


Remember how I can see ghosts? Well, I saw a ghost. An old, dead hippie named Dockers. I think I must have startled him, because he burst into a poof of green smoke that got me really, really high. I had a vision, but it felt more like a memory: My own mother, running after a young girl, calling after her, “I can’t lose you, too.” I wasn’t sure how I knew it, but I knew that girl was a sister I’d never known. And I knew she was out there somewhere.


Mark wasn’t great at talking on the best of days, but lying in the grass at that park, it was half nonsense. I did manage to catch in his babbling that when we asked him where he was, he said he was “boiling in the green.” I took a big risk. I gave him Tommy and Sarah’s blood and had him take it into himself. Something about the ghost weed he was riding actually did the trick. The sire bond was severed.

Tommy back on our side, we took the fight to Sarah and found that she had been coerced into transferring Tommy’s sire bond to a larger wolf, whose human form was Marinette Jones—the illegitimate daughter of Ezekiel and Loretta Stroud who had supposedly died back in 1910. We fought and killed Marinette’s body, but her spirit was intent on sticking around—and it possessed Casey.


It was one of the worst experiences of my entire life. Some hundred-year-old ghost bitch flew into my mouth and wore my body like a glove. That was horrible enough, but then there’s what she made me do. She made me shoot Kira. And my brother. Jesse, an EARS agent as well, who’d come to back me up as soon as he could. Jesse got out of it with a bad shoulder wound, but Kira… I hit her point blank with my sniper rifle. There was no way she was going to survive that.

But then… in a flash of light, she was whole again. No gunshot wounds, not even the scratches from the earlier fight. 

Who is this girl?

It was lucky that Mark was able to use his ghost powers to exorcise the bitch, and Nick used some kind of relic to trap Marinette’s soul inside the blade of a dagger. With the main werewolf down, the rest were little more than wild animals. They’d calm down once the sun was up, but that wasn’t going to be any time soon, and we had to get Jesse to a hospital.

I ran ahead to ready Cosmo—my temperamental Volkswagen van—while Kira, Mark and Nick helped the wounded stay out of claw’s reach as the group made their escape. I had my sniper rifle, prepared to cover their retreat, and I got a couple of the werewolves until finally
Sarah Flass herself wound up in my sights. I took aim… 


And she killed her. Casey murdered Sarah. After she promised me that we wouldn’t hurt her. With Marinette down, we’d defeated a monster, but it didn’t feel much like winning.

We… didn’t talk much for a while after that. Kira had felt so betrayed by Casey that she threw herself into work at the Daily Tuba—As a mere probationary EARS agent, she still needed a day job. As for me I had to get way too into work too, since our boss, Kent Clark, had absolutely gone missing. We later learned that he’d been taken by EYES, and Casey had inadvertently put him in their crosshairs.

Casey and Kira both wound up in mandatory therapy, seeing a guy named Dr. Mehndi who they both seemed to really like, but on the few occasions we spoke, neither of them smiled.

I wound up back at Boom Island Park on a story that quickly turned into a hell of a case. A young boy was looking for his missing father, and the place was still crawling with monsters. I couldn’t fight them alone, so I reached deep into the memories of an old nightmare and conjured a monster made of static to fight by my side. The fight was chaotic, so I lost track of him, but the boy and I found his dad in a rough and recently-carved cave. Inside was some kind of monster that had clearly come from within the Hallway. And it had removed its own eyes—they looked like two burning stones—and was devouring the eyes of a row of parkgoers he’d made into victims. I saved who I could, killed the monster, and then something came over me.

I picked up those flaming eyes and shoved them into my own face. It hurt like hell at first, but then… it didn’t. I had magical fire eyes.


And that’s not even the oddest thing that happened that day. I was attacked by an assassin who was disguised as my brother, Jesse. I fought him off and made him drop the disguise. He seemed to recognize me somehow. But I had no memory of him.

Craig Throat got back in touch and told us that the three of us were being hunted, by two assassins: a shapeshifter named Faces, and a deadly marksman named Numbers. We captured Faces first and brought him to of all places my cousin Aaron. The Third Sons had formed a kind of supernatural clubhouse/militia, and were apparently working with and for Craig Throat.


That’s when the countdown started. Numbers had a habit of making his prey come to him, so he started taking out innocent bystanders to draw us out. In our search for him, we ran into Craig, who was in a bitter argument with someone I knew very well: Donovan. My old mentor from my cult days, and the closest thing I have to a father figure.

But that’s when Numbers caught up to us. Gunshots from across the block showed us where he was. Donovan came to my defense which was honestly a little surprising. In the chaos, Mark destroyed one of Donovan’s wings, which let us take him in peacefully. But when it came to Numbers, Casey did what Casey does.

I’d already escaped one murder cult. If being in EARS had turned Casey into this, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a part of it.

My work with Mehndi had helped me a lot. When I was in training, we’d had to do a Dream Dive, so we’d know what it felt like, and how to defend against it. But someone had infiltrated and stolen a whole bunch of my memories. Faces the shapeshifter had murdered… someone I’d been close to. And to cover his tracks, he stole not only the memory of his own face, but years’ worth of moments with her. Tessa Jones… my first… a girl I knew in high school.


I knew something about what Casey was going through. Lately, I’d been losing time. It turned out that I’m… not always myself. And one of my ‘alters’—Anna—had been working on something with Gad and Riley at Dawnbreak. I knew Anna, of course. And I trusted her implicitly, but I hadn’t been able to communicate with her in over 10 years.

It really helped me understand some things and after Casey apologized—really apologized—we interrogated Faces together. He’d been hired by Nathaniel Rose and his “Order of the Black Rose” to kill Tessa all those years ago, because she was a distant relative of the Stroud family.

Speaking of family, I… well, I broke Donovan out of EARS custody. I hadn’t seen him in over a decade either and despite everything, I still believed in him. He was supposed to be there to “fulfill my destiny” and “bring the Voice out of the hallway,” but he couldn’t do it. He still wanted me to be safe. I used my shadow magic to manifest him a black wing to replace his missing red one, and gave him a second chance to be free, and make up for his past.


Casey didn’t even have time to be pissed off about that. Remember the monster I conjured? The nightmare made of static? Someone else had found him, and turned him evil. He was now a gigantic rampaging monster EARS was calling “The Red Noise.” He’d been taken over by a kind of monster collector, a red-haired man named Monroe.

Casey had a new team—Diego, Gia and Taak—who joined up with us to track him down, and after a bitter fight with my ‘old friend,’ we managed to kill Monroe. Freed from the collector’s control, he shrunk back down to normal size and color, and I finally knew him again. He wasn’t “The Red Noise.” His name was Ack, he’d been with me all my life, and now he was back inside my head.

Oh and you know who else was living inside my head? Dockers! That old stoner ghost actually turned out to be a really cool guy, and a good friend.

I’ve been alive… for a long time. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve been too distracted with the mysteries of this world to concern myself with the single mystery that’s troubled me most: Who and what I am.

But now, I look around and I’m surrounded by allies. This agent, and her ersatz Journalists, and, of course, John’s Third Sons… I find myself able to take a breath for the first time in … decades.

I find myself musing at last on the circumstances of how I became involved in all of this. It would be easy to say that it began that day in the museum, 1925. But I know that the ripples of what we did—Bertie, BB, John and I—pressed out into the world, both forward and backward through time.

I see the ripples as far back as 1911, back when Branson Branson—BB—thought to host a party for his friend in mourning. Poor Bertram Stroud was distraught after the sudden death of his cousin Marinette. BB thought to stage a séance. He’d done the reading, he’d hired a professional—one Quinn Castward, from something of a family of maguses. Magi… Mages.

But—damn the man—once John Graal got whiff of the proceedings, he felt a party brewing. So he put the word out. As high as the old-money heiress Riley Mathews, and as low as the cut-throat conman Gottfried. Anyone who was anyone was there.

Obviously, so was I. Or at least, I remember being there. And I know others remember me being there. But I have no evidence. No invitation addressed to my name. No record of my attendance. 

Which was odd, but not as odd as what else was going on. 

Riley had taken to snooping. And she’d found that Marinette was not Bertie’s cousin, as the records held, but was in fact his bastard half-sister. Not only that, but the two of them had been maintaining something of an affair—epistolary, if not more—which gave the proceedings something of a more troublingly romantic pall.

   We had little time to digest the whispered information before something more grave overtook it: The séance took a turn, and Marinette’s spirit arrived, but furious. With Bertie himself.

“What have you done” she kept saying. “And what will you do.”

Marinette’s ghost made violent moves towards Bertie before—of all people—Gottfried put himself between them. Between the Criminal and the magus Castward, they drew her attention away from her quarry. Unfortunately, that only enraged the spirit, and she moved to inhabit the magus. Quinn Castward, empowered by the infuriated spirit of Marinette, fought her way through the party’s modest security with ease.

Thus far, we have never seen her since.

In the years that followed, it would be Riley Mathews—with help from myself and the newly discovered bastard wing of the Stroud family—that would take that evening’s symbol—a black rose party favor—and use it to found an organization—The Order of the Black Rose.

I was part of its founding. I was there when Marinette died, and when we brought her back. I remember all of this.

So why is there no proof of who I am??

After what happened in the park, where Casey got possessed and… you know… killed me, EARS had her under observation. They couldn’t be sure there wasn’t lasting effects of being possessed. Which was fine, because Mark and I had a mystery of our own to investigate. Namely, what exactly Dawnbreak had been up to, and who had been helping them.

Turns out? It was me. Or at least, a version of me. See, I have these other people who live within me. And sometimes they take the driver’s seat. Alternate personalities. Dissociative identities. Whatever you call it, one of them—Anna—had been causing me to lose time over the last few weeks. She’d been working with Dawnbreak to map out the Infinite Hallway. Riley had been mining some kind of metal ore from a realm called “Ashworld” that gave them the ability to go in and out of the Hallway without it tearing them apart like it almost did to us.


The Hallway has a kind of idle hunger. It’ll eat you up, like a kind of soul vacuum. Right about then, I had a premonition on the topic. I saw Donovan bringing Riley to the Source and murdering her, letting The Hallway suck up her soul. Premonitions are a thing that’s been happening to me lately. I can see the future, but only when it’s bad. Riley was in danger, and if we were going to keep her safe, we needed somebody who did that kind of thing for a living. Luckily, we knew just where to find her.


I was never the kind of kid who snuck out at night, but I imagined this must be what it felt like. Mark, Kira, Nick and Tommy—who’s apparently Kira’s full-on boyfriend now—helped me step out from under the nose of my EARS-appointed babysitter. They needed my help to protect Riley, but I’m an investigator first, and she knew more than what she was letting on.

It turned out she had been the one to recruit Donovan into their little cult in the first place. And this destiny Kira had going on was shared. There were others out there who could pull off whatever she was supposed to do. One was Donovan himself, another was Mark, and also… his sister, who’d been missing for years. Thankfully, Mark got another one of those feelings about who would be able to help answer some of the questions we still had. 


KID, from the Invisible Family. I don’t know how I knew it, but I did. So, we tried a frankly risky ritual to summon him. But when he showed up, so did DAD. We learned that she had been KID herself. She’d been taken into the Divinity’s Shadow cult as a little girl, just like Kira, until she was rescued by The Invisible Family, and the people who’d held the titles of MOM and DAD before her. They’d made her KID until they died, leaving the Family in her command.

But what struck me about the story was where she’d been taken from

My Mother…

DAD’s name had been Sasha Clayton… 

My sister…

Holy shit.


Family drama would have to wait. There was a universe-ending murder in the near future. I probed further into the vision Mark had, and it seemed like whatever gave him those premonitions gave him some kind of connection to the monsters—people—that he saw in them. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. We piled into the car and set off, Mark giving his odd, vague directions to the danger.


I was trying to help. I thought that if Mark could get a better mental picture of Donovan, we could get there quicker and save Riley. Hell, we could save Donovan. But the moment I mentioned his second wing—the black one, the one I made for him—Tommy called me out.

I had told him about Donovan. From then. The ruthless mentor. The monster. Who’d tried to make me into one, too. And he was. And he had. But I hadn’t been prepared for what it would be like to see him again. With what we knew now, I wondered aloud if I’d made a mistake breaking him free.

Tommy wondered if he’d made a mistake too, in trusting me. And here I had thought my heart was all done breaking.


We did wind up tracking Donovan to the temple where the Source had been hidden. Kira still wanted to save him, but when we got there, Donovan wasn’t that interested in being saved. Zealots never are.

He had some kind of dagger that gave me the same kind of vibe as the one Nick Sparks had used to trap Marinette. Less an instrument of damage than a kind of collection medium. So, when he seemed about to slash out at Kira to take her blood, and maybe her soul, I didn’t hesitate. I drew my shotgun, and I put a hole in him.


I know why she did it. I have to remind myself that I know she was protecting me. But this was Donovan. You don’t know what he did for me. What he saved me from. Everything else he did was just… what happened next.

So, when he held that dagger in his weakened hand and said, “then let it be my blood,” and thrust it into the crater in his chest, I knew without knowing what he was trying to do. And I couldn’t let him do it.

Even as the blood drained from his body into the blade, I reached out with my own. One of the things they taught us how to do in the cult was pull another person’s life force out of them to heal yourself. But the spell can be… reversed. I can spend my own body and blood to rebuild someone else. And that’s exactly what I did.


As Donovan’s body started to repair itself, I got the dagger away from him, and it… called to me. It was still charged with his blood. Still had the potential to do whatever he wanted to do with it. Whatever I was apparently capable of doing. Ripping a hole in reality. Changing the world to my whims.

Making everything that had ever been unfair in my whole life into something better. Backwards through time even. I could do it. I could see it.

But then I saw Casey. And she saw me.


Look, Mark Clayton is a weird guy on the best of days. But we’ve been through a lot together. And even though it’s pretty clear that there’s something other than human going on inside him, I know him. And he knows me. I had to believe that he could do the right thing. I held out my hand for the dagger, and even though his unnatural flame-eyes literally burned with desire for it, he turned it over. Because I asked him to.

Now it was time for clean-up. I couldn’t very well take Donovan back to EARS—Kira had busted him out, first of all, plus there was the matter of my house arrest. I wasn’t even supposed to be here. So, we took Donovan and the dagger to the only place we knew they’d both be safe. To Craig Throat and the Third Sons. Craig used some kind of gadget to ‘cleanse’ the dagger, and they put Donovan in one of their holding cells in his basement. Whatever Donovan had been planning, it was over now.

Afterwards, we all headed to the Sparks Brothers’ cabin in the woods to regroup. I thanked Nick for his help. In the church, and before. He’d become an oddly trustworthy part of the team. I’d come to… rely on his presence.

I, very… coolly made plans to go on a double da—a group hang out wi– no. A double date. With him and Kira and Tommy. As soon as it was safe, we’d all go get a drink.


Which would maybe have to wait. I came clean to Tommy. I told him… everything. About Donovan and how he’d taken me away from a straight up abusive childhood. About how he was the first person—the only person to really believe in me. About the ritual—the murder I’d committed that gave me my wings and my powers. 

And then goddamnit, I told Tommy that I couldn’t handle being left out in the cold! I wasn’t okay with where we were, and I wanted to find a way back. Donovan meant a lot to me. But so did Tommy.

“I want that, too,” he said, “But I need some time.”

It wasn’t… it was enough. I could live with that. I could wait.

Remember that agent from EYES who had attacked my home? It was time to get him out of my basement and figure out what to do with him. I tried to offload him to Nick Sparks, but he refused. So, I took him to Black Hawk Park. Where it all started for me. Where Tessa Jones—my high school girlfriend, my first love—had been murdered. Where her ghost still lingered. Literally.

I’d gotten some memories back that had been stolen, and Tessa’s ghost and I had sort of reconnected. I guess some part of me wanted her to talk me out of doing what I was going to do, but I should have known I’d be too stubborn for that. I killed the agent and buried him there. But not before stripping him for equipment. Some EYES communications gear I could try to reverse engineer, and what appeared to be a physical brick of static. Tangible white noise. It was some kind of ultimate escape device. Filing that away…


I’d gotten some memories back, too as it happens. With the help of EARS resident therapist, Dr. Mehndi, I’d gotten back in touch with Anna. An alter, or imaginary friend or… I don’t know. I always thought of her like my sister. After 10 years of silence, she was back.

I also had been working with Aaron Davis to trawl through his memories of John Graal and we figured out that on the night the four industrialists had “pierced the veil,” they’d torn open the hallway and a voice inside had instinctively granted their deepest wishes. For John, it was to have knowledge and have it survive, creating the Third Sons phenomenon and their connection to past lives. Bertram Stroud’s connection to the land created the Stroud curse: every Stroud who passed was guaranteed to leave a ghost behind, until a countermeasure was developed: “Strouds in shrouds.”

I may have flirted with Aaron a little to get my questions answered. And Aaron may have developed a schoolboy crush on me. That’s not… it’s fine. It’s fine.


Around the town, and especially at the Third Son’s headquarters, something was driving some of the ghosts we’d met before mad. Nelly, the young ghost maid we’d met at Stroud Manor, turned up and attacked, looking more like a skeletal beast than the sweet young woman I’d talked to months ago.

We drove her off, but knew that things were only getting started. We met up with Casey at EARS headquarters, because, I guess that’s who we thought would know the most. At least we were together when it happened, or we wouldn’t have been able to act quickly enough. Thunder almost literally shattered the sky, and we could feel it, each of us, the same trepidation we’d felt at the museum, at the Source… in the Hallway.

Something was coming.


Over two dozen doors to the Hallway were suddenly open, across the city, around the state. Luckily, we were at the one place that would know how to fight back. Teams were being deployed, but we identified five main areas of concern. To cover more ground, we split up.


I tried something weird: I used the shadow powers I’d been honing into a force for healing and I built a body for Anna to occupy. I knew it would be temporary, but I knew she could help.


I headed to the University where I found Ack. He’d been roaming free, and when he sensed the danger, he’d showed up to fight. I reached out to him, I merged with him. And together, operating as a green, three-story monster of strength, we crushed the threat in no time. I also crashed the ceiling of a dorm, but nobody got hurt. So, hey! Still a win.


I went to a park, where a winged and violent double of Mark Clayton’s mother was terrorizing the parkgoers. She recognized me. She called me daughter-in-law… so that’s weird.

I got some backup from the Sparks brothers, and we used some kind of magical chains to restrain Mrs. Clayton, ending the threat.


My team and I faced off against a team of masked agents with otherworldly weapons. They turned out to be other versions of me, my brother Jesse and Tessa.

My doppelgänger got Diego pretty bad in the ankle with some kind of magma-hot spike. He was going to lose the foot—damn my impeccable aim—but we got them. Three down.


Hey, I’m Anna! It was weird being apart from Kira, but I had a job to do. At the Source, I found more Divinity’s Shadow cultists feeding blood and power into the hole, but found that the energy was flowing to a bigger door into the hallway: at Jupiter’s Garden, the low-income high rise in the west of town. 

What’s more, the cultists were being led by Nathaniel Rose and… Loretta. Ezekiel Stroud’s first wife, and Marinette’s mother. They’d figured out how to use her family’s curse as a blood gift to jump from body to body, making themselves effectively immortal.

Only effectively though. I took out the cultists, stopped them feeding the door, and then as the magic sustaining my body started to fade, I sprouted some wings, and flew her as high up as I could. The last thing I saw before I dissolved back into my sister was Loretta landing with a crunch. Good luck finding your way back into a body, ghost bitch.


I got a call from Jesse, but it wasn’t him. It was Craig. He sounded different. Focused. Lost.

Craig Throat had my brother. And whatever his plan was, it was moving forward. And it was going down at Jupiter’s Garden.


Everybody else had to drive, but merging with ACK made me not only huge, but fast. I got there before anybody else did. I even turned to wave as the others drove up. I thought they might be scared of my new body, and wanted them to know I was friendly.


He didn’t see the soft-ball sized light blue orb that had been thrown out of the window at him. I shot myself forward like a cannon and hurled my axe at the grenade. Except it wasn’t a grenade, not really. It was a displacer field. It expanded, encompassing my axe and a large part of Mark’s ethereal body. Then it all disappeared. Mark was back to normal—I mean normal for Mark—and my axe was gone.


I’d had EARS arrange for a cybernetic foot for Diego so he could stay in the fight. It would match his robotic left hand.

We knew Craig was in the basement. Sneaking in, we found my brother, chained up and badly beaten, a whole mess of Divinity’s Shadow cultists, some militia types in Black Rose gear, and Craig Throat. He was standing by a door that had been ripped into the Hallway, held open by the warped and monstrous ghosts of Nelly the maid and Ellsworth Stroud. Craig held out his hand, ready to meet another hand that reached from inside the hallway. When they made contact, Reality shifted.


Suddenly, I was a badass, graveyard-dwelling monster of the night


I was the Director of EARS


And I was the queen of Divinity’s Shadow. All the things that the voice in the museum had shown us. And for each of us, Craig Throat had taken some position of trust. He was Donovan.


He was my handler, The Author.


He was DAD, of the Invisible Family. But we all knew he wasn’t, not really. Especially when we heard Riley’s voice, the little girl from Dawnbreak. She told us to meet her at a suburban junior high.


But it was besieged by some kind of zombies. We couldn’t do it alone. I called my brother. In this world he was a washed-up drunk. I still needed his help, though. We wound up getting a ride from Tiff Torres. In the real world, she was a captain in EARS security, and one of the people who’d trained me at the agency. But here, she was The Director’s—my—personal driver.

At the Junior High, we fought our way through the zombies, with a massive assist from Torres, who it turned out had access to insanely powerful shadow magic, and apparently served some kind of shadow… God. We fought our way inside to a massive black cube that we knew had imprisoned Riley. Torres’s shadow master started speaking up. And pushing her to get in our way. I had no choice but to put her down.


Inside the cube wasn’t much less weird. It was some kind of astral plane designed to look like a young girl’s bedroom. And in that room, Riley explained everything. She’d found out that the prophecy about me was wrong. I wasn’t supposed to bring something from the Hallway out, but to bring it back in. Craig Throat was the wish-granting voice inside the Hallway. When Stroud, Graal and Branson first met him, he’d granted his own wish as well, creating himself a body and a life, with memories reaching back through time, establishing Craig Throat as a permanent presence in our world. That’s why he never seemed to age.

And to kill him for good, we’d have to bring him into the Hallway and kill him there so he could be reabsorbed. Then we’d have to seal him by closing all the doors. Only someone with the power to do it could close the doors. And only from the inside. Someone would have to stay behind.


With Riley’s help, we broke free from Craig’s reality prison and found ourselves in the middle of an all-out battle between EARS backup and the Third Sons on one side, and Black Rose militia and Divinity’s Shadow cultists on the other.

The entire Invisible Family was there as well, handling themselves as well as any small army. MOM, UNCLE and KID held the line while DAD fought with us. We focused on Craig. Pulled him into the Hallway, outnumbered him and used all of our powers to finally bring him down. But the job wasn’t done.


No sooner had I started sealing doors than Donovan showed up, grabbed me from behind and tried to shove me out. He was going to try to do this for me. Close the hallway so that I wouldn’t have to.

There was too many for either of us to do alone. We decided to work together. I’d figure out how to make sure he couldn’t sacrifice himself for me… later.


One of the doors was open into Craig Throat’s basement, where Riley was watching. Casey jumped through to get some intel from her, I saw the opportunity and… I sealed the door behind her. I also had the power to stop this somehow. And if there was anything I could do about it, I wasn’t going to let this place take my friend away.


Mark shut me out! He sidelined me! That wasn’t his call to make! Especially because as I came out on this side, I saw Faces go through to the other side. Faces. The murderer who’d ruined my life—twice—was going to get a front seat to the end of the world, and all I could do was watch.


He was… here to help. When I asked him what the hell he was doing here, he shifted his form into Tessa’s. He said he was here to do what she would do. And then… he also started closing doors. 


That was more than enough people. I shouted at Mark and DAD—at Mark and his sister Sasha—to leave and let us handle it. They should be safe, and together. As a family.


She was right. DAD seemed like she wasn’t going to leave, warrior to the end. But she was my sister. And I’d never gotten the chance to get to know her. If I lost her now, I never would. Not to mention the Invisible Family would lose its leader.

It was a cheap shot. I caught her on the back of the head with a sharp jab, and knocked her out. I nodded at Kira and Donovan, and carried my sister out of the Hallway.


Until there was only one doorway left: the one back into Jupiter’s Garden. Me, Donovan and Faces were the only ones left in here. I was all set to try to convince Donovan to just let the shapeshifter do it. After what he’d done… but there wasn’t a shapeshifter. Just two Donovans.

They weren’t budging. So… I said goodbye. The closest thing I had to a father was going to save the world. At the cost of his own life. That’s my dad. 

I went back through, and a few seconds later… so did Faces. And the doorway shut. It was over.


But I had a plan. I held Donovan in my mind and made as much of a connection as I possibly could. He was my best friend’s dad, and I couldn’t let him take that away from her. I gripped the EYES agent’s brick of static—the ultimate escape hatch—and squeezed it until it broke.

I was yanked through reality, like a rock on a string. The world bent in front of me until I was looking at Donovan, frozen in time, the last door to the Hallway a heartbeat away from closing, and trapping him in here forever.

I let the momentum of the static brick carry us both to the place I’m most connected to: My home.

Except, when we got there, it seemed off. My van Cosmo was there, but he was painted all wrong. The plants weren’t mine. And when I tried to open the door, I couldn’t.

Suddenly it clicked. I’d escaped. All the way. Out of danger, out of the hallway. Out of this world. We were safe, but whatever world this was, I didn’t have a place in it anymore.