A collection of four stories:
"Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”
“The Life of Chuck”
“If It Bleeds”
In January of 2021, a small padded envelope addressed to Detective Ralph Anderson is delivered to the Conrads, the Andersons’ next-door neighbors. The Anderson family is on an extended vacation in the Bahamas, thanks to an endless teachers’ strike in the Andersons’ home county. (Ralph insisted that his son Derek bring his books, which Derek termed “a grotesque bummer.”) The Conrads have agreed to forward their mail until the Andersons return to Flint City, but printed on this envelope, in large letters, is DO NOT FORWARD HOLD FOR ARRIVAL. When Ralph opens the package, he finds a flash drive titled If It Bleeds, presumably referring to the old news trope which proclaims “If it bleeds, it leads.” The drive contains two items. One is a folder containing photographs and audio spectrograms. The other is a kind of report, or spoken-word diary, from Holly Gibney, with whom the detective shared a case that began in Oklahoma and ended in a Texas cave. It was a case that changed Ralph Anderson’s perception of reality forever. The final words of Holly’s audio report are from an entry dated December 19th, 2020. She sounds out of breath.
I have done the best I can, Ralph, but it may not be enough. In spite of all my planning there’s a chance I won’t come out of this alive. If that’s the case, I need you to know how much your friendship has meant to me. If I do die, and you choose to continue what I’ve started, please be careful. You have a wife and son.