A series of weird horror podcasts set in the midwest.
The Dead Letter Office of Somewhere, Ohio is a horror-comedy fiction podcast set within one of the last remaining Dead Letter Offices in the country. Join Conway, Wren, and the rest as they archive strange, spooky, surreal pieces of lost mail.
A solo project by a nonbinary creator inspired by Kentucky Route Zero, Twin Peaks, Edgar Allen Poe, and more. Each episode features 2 short stories connected in some way, either narratively or thematically.
What begins as an anthology evolves into...something else. Content warnings are posted in the show notes, along with transcripts.
Written, performed, and scored by Rat Grimes (they/he)
Art by Nerdvolkurisu
DLO 16: METAMORPHOSIS
Wren takes a road trip. A divorcee spots an odd insect. Conway tries to shake a rock out of his shoe.
Featuring the voices of Nathan from Storage Papers (https://thestoragepapers.com), Jess Syratt from Nowhere, On Air (https://nowhereonairpodcast.weebly.com), and Rae Lundberg of The Night Post (https://nightpostpod.com/).
(CWs, mild spoilers: LOTS of insects, body horror, fire, car braking sound)
Transcript incoming, here's the rough script for now, which mostly follows the episode.
“Now let’s get to the weird stuff…”
WREN: We humans generally like stability. Predictability. We like to figure out patterns and stick with them. I think that’s why change can be so frightening for us. It throws the future--which once seemed so certain--into chaos. Anything could happen. We could be on the verge of destruction at any moment. But we could also be inches away from utopia. If you can learn to live with this change, this constantly revolting present, you just might make it out of the apocalypse with your sanity intact.
Or so that’s what I hoped. I had little else to count on. I tried to flow like water with the shifting tide. You can be the judge of how that all turned out. That’s why you’re here, right?
Pockets of shadows remained in the cave, about a dozen or so people, seemingly oblivious to the life outside. They toiled under The Boss’s directives, worked day and night for the Dead Letter Office. To what end, I couldn’t really say. Seemingly just to perpetuate the office itself. If I could show them the way out, maybe they would help me take on the Boss. One shadow, Liz, was receptive to my offer. She still had some kick left in her diminished form. Her girlfriend, though, was blind to the world, just a single atom in the bureaucratic monolith.
In Liz, I had someone on the inside. If she could go back and agitate from within the machine, we might stand a chance of turning a few more souls back to the light. It would be risky, though; if even one shade suspected outside forces were at work, they might alert the Boss. Even given all my experience with the paranormal and extranormal, I have no idea what would happen then. My gut feeling told me that facing the Boss prematurely would be...ill-advised.
If I wanted to find more of these shadows, I’d need to search through the dead mail, find the stories that might have caught Conway’s attention, and seek out their writers. The problem was that I had just walked out of my job, and I had a suspicion that if I showed back up unannounced, the Boss would take notice. Where, then, would I find these letters if not the office?
I’d need to find the place that Conway kept all of the clues. I’d need to find Aisling. I’d need to find the vault. Would anything be left in the old vault, or had the Boss already figured out my plan and purged it? Only one way to find out.
Yes, change can be terrifying. Yes, the future is in flux. But the scariest part is that the past can be made just as uncertain as the future. Memories fade, records burn, and witnesses pass on. Entire decades lost, cultures lost. Lessons unlearned. Mistakes repeated. If a place loses its history, how can its people know the present? Without a past, how can we make sense of the future? As a butterfly forgetting it was once a worm, who are we without who we were?
Driving through the clogged artery highways of the state was a challenge, given that time appeared to be at a standstill for most of the world.
If all the postcards and letters were to be believed, I was looking for a lakeside town. Somewhere along the Erie was a town full of shadows, a place haunted by its own history. And within that town was a lighthouse. This lighthouse was my metaphorical beacon. I kept the postcard printed with its image folded and tucked into my pocket. It was among the few items I took with me on this road trip: a cassette player with some of Conway’s old tapes and a furry little friend also jostled arou
DLO 17: MIMIC
Wren visits the town of their dreams. A man finds a doll that looks just like him. Featuring Jess Syratt of Nowhere, On Air as Liz. (CWs, some spoilers: alcohol, possible murder, body horror, derealization, dysphoria?, blood, insects)
CONWAY: Sometimes a drop of water is all it takes for rust to form. A single grain of sand to gum up the gears. One thought to plant to the seed of doubt.
Sometimes we don’t want to think that thought, so it festers, mold in our minds. We wear masks, build whole cities–empires–just to obscure that one thought. It can drive some people to madness, others to enlightenment.
What that thought is I’ll leave up to you. I’m not here to give you answers. I’m here to tell you what happened. The facts, as I see them.
Despite my power and wealth, something stung me. Ants crawling on my skin, salt in my wound. Defection among the ranks. And something else, too. A feeling that something wasn’t right. That I wasn’t right. That something had gone wrong somewhere along the line, but I couldn't remember what.
You can’t usually go back and fix the past, so what you’ve got left is thought, grains of sand, drops of water. Masks. What happens if the mask takes over, starts to be more real than the face underneath? And if you’re a mask, who’s wearing you?
Was it too late for me to take it off? Was I really…me? Or was I just what I thought I should be? Was I in the cave, or in the tower?
Wren, can you see my face? Or do you see the mask?
The first thing I noticed was the fog. Wisps of light gray curling and drifting above the tall grass that framed the narrow road. It wasn’t the fog itself that gave me pause, it was the movement. I hadn’t seen anything outside of my control move at all these past 3 days.
The yellow cones of the car’s headlights illuminated a sign, bent and scored by weather and age: “WELCOME TO AISLING, THE TOWN OF YOUR DREAMS. POPULATION–” I couldn’t read the rest: rust and time had swallowed the populace of this place.
Though there was movement here, it was nearly silent and empty. No crickets, no birds, no rumbling engines or hushed voices. I suddenly felt very exposed in my car. I pulled off into the dewy grass and got out. I took the flashlight and jacket out of my emergency kit in the trunk and ventured into the haze.
As I drew nearer, a cluster of short buildings emerged from the mist, and I could smell the lake on the air. Its gentle lapping barely pierced the foggy aura surrounding the town. The steady beam from my flashlight guided me as best it could, given the conditions.
The second thing I noticed was the cold. The temperature dropped precipitously as I crept through the barren streets. I focused the flashlight between my heavy puffs of breath onto the nearby houses. Every home along this road was encased in hanging ice, sheets of gray vacuum sealed to the facades, dripping at the edges in a thousand angry fangs. The frozen tendrils hanging from every surface mimicked alien architecture: these were no longer houses, they were noneuclidean sculptures hauled from the deep itself, symbols of tentacled things unseen and unspoken dwelling miles below the surface. Spiraling, bubbling cathedrals dedicated to the worship of beings our species had forgotten, or chose not to remember. There is a difference. One in particular near the shore stood elevated on a dock, now smothered in sharp icicles. There it sat hunched before the lake like a withered king on a throne, now too thin for his hanging robes. All he can do is watch as his kingdom melts away.
The third thing I noticed was whistling. As I explored the town further, I could make out a faint ethereal tune floating on the air. I followed it, and it grew in volume as I neared the lake. Out on the frozen piers stood a man in an orange vest, human alone amongst the jaws of ice, casting his line into what had to be frozen lake water.
DLO 18: HONEYBEE
Wren has a chat and descends into the dark. Liz gathers allies for a revolt. Major thanks to the MVPs of this episode: Rae Lundberg as Shadow, Jess Syratt as Liz, and Nathan from the Storage Papers as the Director. (CWs, mild spoilers: fire, death, body horror, distorted voices and faces, static, dripping noises)
Transcripts available at somewhereohio.com
Apologies for the delay!
*Fizzling Boss tones*
*boss tones coagulate into a voice*
BOSS: “Because I needed you alive long enough for us to talk.”
WREN, barely conscious: “wh-what? Where…”
WREN: Drops of frigid water pelted my forehead, stirring me from the astral plane. Above me was a whitewashed ceiling, stone walls curving in a circle like a shackle. I wasn’t restrained, however. I sat upright on crossed legs. Someone had been speaking just then, right?
WREN: “Is someone there?”
BOSS: “Ah, good, you are awake. I was a tad worried the furball out there hit you too hard.”
The curdled voice had to be coming from…somewhere, but it felt like it was all around me, under me, seeping into my hair and nails. The impact of the sheer cold of this place finally hit me as my head stopped spinning. I sat hunched for a moment before responding.
WREN: “Boss? I-is that you? How did you–”
BOSS: “I live in the wires, creep through static, remember? And your friend out there is about 50% wires, give or take. It’ll be fine once its circuits or whatever they have reboot. But that thing isn’t what I’m interested in. I brought you here to talk. So let’s hop to it.”
WREN: “What do you want me to say? I’m sorry for leaving? For trying to help you?”
BOSS: “Lucy. I want to talk about Lucy. See, Ever since our phone call, I’ve been…unsettled. Now that I’ve always been the boss, I have near unlimited knowledge of the DLO, of the things around me, but still no sign of Lucy. That bothers me.”
I warily stood up and looked around the frozen lighthouse. Long icicles hung from the ceiling–floor? whichever--dripping and freezing once more on the ground. The whole interior was covered in a thin icy sheen. No sign of Conw–er, the boss. I needed to find where this voice was coming from, but I needed time. I’d have to string him along for a bit and hope his confidence would play against him.
WREN: “Okay, then. Let’s talk Lucy. But first, there are some things I want to know. I’ve heard about some sort of machine salvaged from the lakebed. What is it?”
BOSS: “Might as well indulge the little worker bees in a bit of honey while they can still taste it. Very well, Wren.”
As he spoke, I snuck around the perimeter of the dark tower, listening for any changes in directional sound.
BOSS: “That machine is what made this place, made me real. It shepherded a new era for this state. Sure a few people lost a job or two, a few houses demolished, a few forests burned down, but it made way for industry, for growth. For potential. You shouldn’t blame this engine for your troubles: it’s people that run it. Without us, it’s just a hunk of junk. But with our hand on the till, we can remake the world. You’re stuck in the old ways, Wren. You’re a dinosaur, flailing in the tar, and I am the good god above, shaking my head.
Yes, this little engine can be dangerous, if you can’t handle the power. Kenji couldn’t. Look what happened to him. I could handle it, and here we are.
Speaking of power, don’t think I don’t know about the little coup attempt you’re plotting with some of my…former associates. It won’t work. As soon as we’re done here, I’m crushing your little salt and feeding her to the engine. Then it’s back to business.”
I should have known he’d know. But just because he knew what was happening didn’t mean he could stop it. If all went well on Liz’s side, it would be many hundreds against one. Those are decent odds in my ledger. I just needed a bit more time.
WREN: “So this
DLO 19: WE'RE STILL HERE
Forward and backward are not stable concepts. The curtains close, a mask is shattered, but we're still here. Wren helps a lost soul and meets some familiar ones.
Thank you all so much for listening, and special thanks to guests Jess Syratt of Nowhere, On Air and Shannon Strucci of Critical Bits and more.
(CWs, spoilers: bullying, derealization, implied dysphoria, brief fire and engine sounds, alcohol, smoking)
*audience shuffling and chatting, dies down*
LOST FISHERMAN: “Good evening, dear audience. Tonight we present to you the final act in a series of strange events. The detective this evening will be played by Wren once more, with the receiving clerk reprising the role of the vanished. I will be your chorus. When you see me again, it will all be over. When I return, you will not be ready, but it must end as all things do. Until then, please enjoy the show.
“A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me”
The vault wasn’t so much an actual vault, but–as you’ve no doubt surmised–a cave. Like the cave I had encountered before, where Lucy served me breakfast. Where I cried over eggs and toast. Maybe just a different part of the same cave, even. All around me, stacked and scattered throughout the yawning caverns was dead mail: letters, packages, objects covered in grime and dust. The light from my phone only revealed a harsh circle in front of me, leaving much of the vault in total darkness. I felt things stirring in that darkness whenever I turned away. They gathered behind me, at my sides, spiraled gaseous tendrils around my ears. But they dissipated any time I faced them.
I flipped through folders and sifted through cabinets and baskets full of decomposing paper. I found many strange stories among the mundane cruft. Some stories I had heard before, some I had not. These pieces had little in common: from different parts of the country, different times, different people. Many followed a similar thread, though.
Something under the office’s purview, my purview, appeared in each: a moth here, an alien worm there. Just little hints of the ineffable, the sublime radioactive backdrop that most people tune out. This damp hall was where my furry friend would have ended up, had I not saved them from that fate. I panned the pulp silt for gold, trying to find any clue I could sink my teeth into.
I went further and farther back, in time and in space. The older files were kept ever deeper in the cave. I was in the middle of reading a peculiar letter regarding an ill-tempered neighbor when my boot struck a vein. Masonry. Not the deep brown rock surrounding me, but a gray slab shaped by human hands. Around the base of the stone was a shallow puddle. I looked up and there I saw an angel.
An angel in gray, its features blurred and worn by time, its form smudged with black. Had the angel been there the whole time, or had it just appeared a moment ago? I leaned closer and inspected its surface.
All across this sculpture–from the top of its head to the base–were dark fingerprints. I gently slid the letter I was carrying through one of the tacky prints. The black substance followed, sticking to the paper. Simply looking was going to get me nowhere. What use is a detective that only uses one sense, anyway? I held the tacky substance close to my nose and inhaled.
Fire, smoke, machinery. This thing was covered in scorched oil. The angel’s hands were clasped to its chest, and I could tell there was something within. I recalled a story I had heard about a sculpture of similar kind. About a disappearance and a hanging thread.
I had to know what was held in its hands.
As if already planting its roots in my mind, the angel’s stone fingers unfolded, and there it proffered an egg, no bigger than a chicken’s. I dared not touch the angel, this seraph bathed in the blood of the ancient earth. I took a step back and shuddered. At this rejection, many fish fell around the angel, all dead and frozen, sla
DLO 10: SONG BIRD
Receiving Clerk Conway was asked to look into an angel statue and a missing mail carrier named Kenji on behalf of the Dead Letter Office. During the investigation, Conway encountered a strange lost fisherman and some odd postcards with unsettling connections to his past. After finding Kenji's body holding a phone, Conway called the phone number on one of the postcard and received some disturbing information: he couldn't recall his own last name, and realized he was being set up. And what did the lost fisherman mean when he said Conway isn't real? At least not yet?
Now, a new face has arrived at the DLO to sort through the mess Conway left behind: claims adjuster Wren is on the case. On their first day at the office, karaoke night at a dive bar turns weird and Conway finds himself somewhere he shouldn't be.
Some lyrics from Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads
"Fool" originally by Frankie Cosmos
(CWs--mild spoilers: birds, bugs, brief blood, alcohol, smoking, brief harassment, very mild body horror, some strong language, romance?)
CONWAY ON TAPE:...gonna pick up the phone and dial this number.
WREN: Now you’ve heard everything I have. Conway’s vanished, leaving only a trail of disconnected audio memos for me to follow. His last known location was here, at the Dead Letter Office of ******* Ohio. He was supposedly asked to investigate a large package in some other post office, but the DLO has no record of this request, and no idea where he went.
Hello, I’m--wait, am I supposed to introduce myself, or is this more of a formal...Okay.
Then let’s start at the beginning, where I come in. I want to be as thorough as possible. No loose ends.
I had just hung up a bird feeder on the front porch. I like watching all the little birds stop by. The robins, the jays, the sparrows, their colorful plumage and vibrant songs. They take turns plucking seeds out of the holes in the cylinder and sing their small hearts out.
It was an afternoon, still a little chilly. Summer hadn’t quite hit full swing. A couple of Carolina Finches were pecking at the small bugs and shells left by their brethren on the concrete. The birds weren’t aware of the hawk landing in the tree behind them. They’re not aware of the movements of empires, the fluctuations of markets that destroy their homes. They only see what’s in front of them: the sky to the ground, the egg to the dirt, is now. A moment later and the raptor descended on the surprised prey in a flurry of chirps and flaps. The small birds scattered in a panic, one slammed into the window then took off and the other found itself tangled in the freshly torn mesh on my screen door. Having missed its chance, the hawk turned, soaring far out over the houses down the block. None of these birds would be lunch that day.
This was a relief. I didn’t want to see my visitors get eaten. I mean, I eat chicken already, it’s not all that different, but I still feel bad for the little birds. I figure if I were an animal, I’d be like them, picking at seeds and singing my little song. Noteworthy to those paying attention, but a background detail--a bit player in the grand scene--to others. Realistically, though, I could just as easily be a hawk. Hungry, waiting patiently on the sidelines for my chance, disliked by most. Reaching out and missing. Chronic bad luck.
I heard my phone buzz on the coffee table, but I had to get this finch out of my screen first. I opened the heavy door and found the thing flapping and screeching, its foot caught in the screen. I gently unwrapped the fabric from its leg, despite its vociferous protestations, and it burst free, tearing through the air to join its friends on the telephone wire.
I went back in and answered the call. It was the DLO. I was being transferred to some nowhere post in Ohio. Supposedly a temporary assignment, though I guess they all are in the long run. There was a case there that needed an expert’s opinion.
DLO 11: TAMAGOTCHI/THE DEAD MALL
A letter writer reminisces about his strange childhood pet. Conway explores the guts of an abandoned mall and finds someone he wasn't looking for. Wren gets chewed out for something they can't control.
(CWs: body horror, brief mention of violence and death, alcohol, dead animal, whispering, some strong language)
Hello, this is Wren, claims adjuster for the Dead Letter Office of *******, Ohio. The following audio recording will serve as evidence for Conway’s case. Public release of this or any other evidence is strictly prohibited. Some names and facts have been censored for the protection of the office.
As we’ve previously established, forward and backward are not necessarily stable concepts. So let’s begin today by looking at the next letter in Conway’s backlog, which may give me insight into what happened to him.
Dead letter 14417, a long note written on several folded pieces of printer paper, sent by a Stephen ***** to his mother in late 2016. The letter reads as follows.
NARRATOR STEPHEN: Hey mom.
Did I ever have a pet growing up? I know dad never wanted one and then Dave was allergic. It’s getting harder to remember if this actually happened or if it’s a vivid dream that’s stuck with me through the years.
Before high school hit me like a semi truck, you’d let me bike up to the arcade at the Deerland Mall on the weekends.
LOUDSPEAKER: “WELCOME TO THE DEERLAND MALL, YOU’LL GO BUCK WILD FOR THESE DEALS! Our store hours are: 9am to 7pm” *slowly fades out*
NARRATOR: I remember the huge globe of stale gumballs loitering in the foyer. I’d chew on them even though I knew they were rock hard and would probably cut my gums up. Sorry about the quarters missing from your purse. Then I’d stop by the candy store and get a big bag of sweaty gummies that had been sitting in the foggy display case for god knows how long and a tall cherry coke from the concession stand.
The light gun shooters and fighting game cabinets there were cool enough, but my favorite was the racing game. It had a whole mock driver’s seat that moved side to side as you steered. It was also more expensive to play than the others, so I’m sorry about the missing dollar bills. Whatever change I had leftover after a few laps of hairpin turns went into the vending machine full of capsule toys. Since I couldn’t get a dog, I was desperate for one of those new Tamagotchi toys. But where was I gonna get a whole twenty dollars? Coincidentally, the top prize advertised on the machine was a bright blue Tamagotchi. I was old enough to know there was probably only one in there, if any at all. I knew I’d probably end up spending more than twenty dollars trying to get it, yet here I was pouring money down the slot anyway instead of saving it up to buy one.
On a particular lazy afternoon, the arcade was empty: not too uncommon for a summer weekday. I put two quarters in the slot on the capsule machine, twisted the tough old crank, and out dropped a peculiar toy. The capsule itself was identical to the others: a translucent plastic casing, a bubble with a colorful top that popped off. Almost like an acorn fallen from a petroleum tree. But what was inside the case gave me pause then, and still makes me uneasy today.
I cracked it open under the flickering lights of the arcade. Inside wasn’t a Tamagotchi, but rather an egg: bigger than a robin’s egg but about the same color with a few white spots, and surprisingly heavy for a toy its size. What’s a thirteen-year-old boy want with a plastic egg? Waste of 50 cents, I thought. I put it in its case and set it on top of the claw machine so I could go play a game about shooting aliens in area 51. I was winding down a blocky corridor when I heard something behind me. I had thought I was the only one in there. I froze, and a bead of prickly sweat rolled down my neck. I turned my head to the entrance of the arcade. Nobody there. I scanned the stained carpet for anything o
Like creepy pasta
Really well produced
I Love this show!
Incredible story and narration
Also how do I support this show, I feel guilty listening for free it’s that good