[The recording starts to play.]
“My name is Annabelle, and I am fourteen years old. It was about a month ago that I started acting “strangely”, according to my father. Of course, I don’t remember a bit of it.
“The first time it happened, I did something pretty weird. In the middle of the night, I apparently woke up and opened every single door and window in the entire house. All of them! The pantry door, the back door, the front door, the doors to the cabinets, dad’s room, the fridge and freezer door, and even the door to the cellar out back – which was locked. No one knows how I got the lock off, or even where the lock was. It just vanished. Needless to say, dad was livid. “Bells,” he said – that being what he calls me – “what the hell were you doing?” The freezer motor burned out, and the cellar was very wet from the rain. But my dad didn’t stay mad for long. Ever since mom died, he can’t stay mad at me for long. He keeps saying I’m all he’s got now… and I know what he means. He’s all I have too. I think he was just very worried about me, since he found me outside in my pajamas, soaking wet from the rain, not having a clue how I got out there. He doesn’t always express things the way he feels, but that’s okay. Boys are like that.”
[The recording starts skipping at this point. A hiss is heard in the background – but it could just be static. It smoothes out, and the girl starts speaking once again.]
“The second time, I did something pretty awful. When I woke up, I was covered in blood. The knife was still in my hand, and they found—“
[A crack almost like lightning interrupts the next few words.]
“—Sox was our cat, see.”
[The interviewer mutters an affirmation, and asks her to continue.]
“Dad was pretty scared for me then. He recently became involved with you guys—“
[The interviewer asks her to clarify for the sake of context in the recording.]
“Oh, sorry, he recently became involved with the Church of Repentant Sinners. I hadn’t been to church before, but after that my dad said he wanted me to go. No offense to you folks, but I don’t really believe in God—“
[The interviewer says something inaudible, something about not getting sidetracked. His tone suggests annoyance or impatience.]
“I’m sorry, I just can’t seem to focus very much these.. these… these…”
[The girl repeats this word for about two minutes. The interviewer is not heard saying anything or stopping her.]
“—days. Um. So that was the third weird thing that happened. I went into church that Sunday, but I felt this strange itch. It felt like it was under my skin, you know? I started scratching, and then I started tearing my skin, and soon people started noticing and whispering, and very soon I had long bloody nail marks down my arms and across my stomach and legs. Dad took me out of there, and I was glad, because it made the itching stop.”
[The interviewer asks her something that is only partially audible, as a slow whirring sound is heard. Fragments include “demon” and “escaping”.]
“Yeah, okay, I’m not sure you’re right, but if it helps me, let’s do it.”
[A tonal sound is heard at very high frequency, and is strangely pleasant to hear. Underneath can be heard the interviewer asking her to describe the fourth occurrence.]
“Okay. It was a couple weeks after the church thing happened. So I got this marker, one of those permanent markers, and I drew on everything. I mean everything. The entire house was covered in black marker. What did I draw? The same thing, over and over. It was a little “2”, with an arrow pointing to the right, pointing towards a little “1”. Then I took a knife—“
[A sound like a high wind starts to intersperse the recording. The girl’s voice is still audible.]
“—and I held it to my throat. I have no idea how long I was standing by dad’s bed, but when he woke up, he said I was staring at him with strange eyes. I didn’t speak. I just stared, a wild, crazy stare while he pleaded with me to drop the knife. Finally, I must’ve snapped out of it or something, because I woke up with the knife in my hand and my dad scared ghostly white and begging me not to do anything to myself. I dropped it and started crying.
“After that, and after seeing what I wrote, he said I must be possessed by a demon or something. And so here we are. This is my pre-exorcism interview.”
[The interviewer thanks her, and the recording ends – but not before a strange voice is heard whispering “soon”.]
[The video starts to play. It is instantly apparent that something has gone terribly wrong. The video has a very un-electronic distortion to it. Five marks score the video, are repeatedly replaced by a clear image, and then new marks start to form immediately in a descending stroke – almost as if someone were clawing at the image itself. This continues throughout the video.]
“No!” screams the girl. She is restrained to a bed in a small room with several men wearing black garments.
“In the name of—“ [The audio cuts out for a few seconds.]
“S-S-Something’s wrong guys, I can’t see anything!” screams the girl in a quavering voice.
“Depart!” says one of the men in robes. Then, “depart!” they all shout. This chant continues for around three minutes as the girl starts sobbing uncontrollably.
As the chanting starts to wind down, the girl cries out, “Dad! Make them stop! Please! … Please… I don’t want to go,” as her voice trails off. One of the men mutters something to another.
[At this point, both the video and the audio undergo very typical electronic distortion. Nothing can be seen or heard, at least in the video, for several seconds. Underneath the static is a single word: “Goodbye.” The video becomes clear, and no more scratching distortions are seen.]
The girl is no longer crying. She is, in fact, very still. A man in jeans and a flannel shirt runs into the room and unties her restraints. He embraces her, quite emotional and seeming to be relieved. Then she speaks.
“Hi Bells. How do you—”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Don’t call me Bells. I don’t like that name. Call me the name you picked out for me when I was born. Annabelle. It was beautiful. And I’m not going to be called the same name as that – thing.” She utters the last word with terrible vehemence.
The man is clearly confused, and looks pleadingly at the men in black. They start to whisper among themselves. Their concerned glances play off one another’s faces, and cold, harsh realization washes over each of them one by one.
One of the men approaches the man who still held the little girl. “Mr. Goodwin, I am sorry… I am truly sorry…”
[Another man quickly goes to the camera and shuts it off.]
I remember now. I remember everything. I just wanted to live again. Dad, I love you so much, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to take your daughter from you. I came to her while I – she – was still a baby. I didn’t think it was wrong. I didn’t think she would miss her life. I didn’t think she would come back. I didn’t even think she was there, since it was so easy to stay inside her. So easy I forgot everything about who I used to be – what I used to be.
I didn’t even know what was going on. I only remembered after I left my – her – body. It is so strange and cold here. Everything in the world is gray and misty. All I see are people fading in and out of the dark. No one sees me or speaks to me. I am so alone. There is no God, no Heaven, no Hell, no demons or angels. Just people ripped from their bodies, unable to feel anything but regret and loss for what was once theirs. We just rot, dad. I was rotting, and I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I had no choice. I’m so sorry. I hope you love her as much as you loved me, and I hope one day you can forgive me for what I did.