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The following audio recording is classified documentation for case (static) with The Enclosure, unauthorized access to this information will lead to immediate intervention. Progress further if proper clearance has been given.
Dr. Daman has suggested that I start an audio journal of some kind. Somethin’ outside of my therapy sessions to help me track my progress or whatever. Considering I don’t have much of anything that’s mine anymore, she suggested that this might actually be a good way to reclaim some of my…individuality? Maybe talking about what I do know of myself might help me remember more…
So, I guess I’ll start with what I know:
My name is Dr. Jared Hel. I’m a field researcher for The Enclosure, I specialize in studying the particularly dangerous creatures around here. For some reason, no matter their effect on others, nothing is permanent on me. Gods, the amount of times I’ve died this last year is probably more than I should ever care to admit…I guess it’s a blessing in disguise, though. It’s job security, for one thing: a scientist who can’t die no matter how dangerous the entity he’s studying? I think I’m set.
Sure, I may bounce back from death with a few more scars, but they’re relatively healed up and I’m rarely ever in much pain when I wake up.
Though, to be fair, if The Enclosure just left these creatures alone, I’m sure this wouldn’t even be an issue in the first place, but nooo. They just gotta meddle.
I started working at The Enclosure…what, two years ago? Though I’ve really only been on the field for less than a year. Apparently I worked at a different research site for some other organization before that, but I don’t really remember anything from before two years ago. I supposedly transferred here to research a particularly dangerous subject, the one that um… well, the one that killed my team. And me, I guess.
The most frustrating thing is the lack of remembering. I don’t remember any of their names, their faces, nothing. I had to relearn absolutely everything and no matter what I relearn, I never remember. It’s so infuriating knowin’ that there’s a whole childhood and more that I have yet to recollect anything from. I feel so… left out of reminiscent conversations, y’know?
Well, of course you know, I’m practically talking to myself here.
All I know of myself before the incident is what was on my work file. Top-of-my-class graduate from IU, but I don’t remember a damn thing about my time there…Apparently there’s a lot of fields ‘round there, though I guess that’s not too different from the towns around here. Born and raised in those corn fields, according to my records. No documented family to speak of, but from what other folks in the lab have shared about their families, ugh, maybe I’m not missing out on too much.
When I asked about gettin’ in touch with folks from the other facility that I worked at, they didn’t seem to think it would be too helpful. Hell, how would they even know who to put me in touch with? Wasn’t like they would have documented my friends or anything.
So, again: nothing.
Story of my damn life.
And of course there’s Todd. Oh, I’m sorry, uh Dr. Todd Carmen. He’s currently head of operations at The Enclosure… he’s- I’ll say he’s a character. Not as unique as he thinks he is, but certainly not boring. But just because something isn’t boring doesn’t mean that it’s entertaining.
He has a fashion sense that I would have never personally considered wearing, but…hmm. That shade of orange with his pale complexion? Hmm. Simply bold choices, in my opinion.
But I’m sure he’ll get himself sorted out someday.
Besides all that though, I guess it’s not too bad. Job security, with benefits. Apparently a lot of jobs don’t offer health insurance, though with our line of work it’s kinda necessary to keep us alive.
(sigh) What else do I know?
The Enclosure is an organization based out in the middle of absolute nowhere that researches the various anomalies, but really only bothers with the particularly dangerous ones. Like, really dangerous ones. I mean, Bigfoot, Mothman, that sorta stuff, they really just leave to their own devices for the most part. Sure, they hurt and even I guess sometimes kill people, but not a lot of people. And enough people already know about those things to not really hide them away now.
Wichton is like two hours from any other town; it’s guised as a farming town. Uh, well, no, it is a farming town, but The Enclosure has taken it as its guise. Most of the facilities are underground, uh, deep underground. They paid off all the townsfolk back when they were building to not ask questions, and considering they built it during a massive economic depression, no one asked questions. The townsfolk took the money. But there’s still some circulating rumors about us to this day, of course. As long as we keep the particularly dangerous creepy-crawlies underground with us, they’ve got no reason to worry too much.
Sure, sometimes things sneak out and make weird noises in the fields at night… but country folk are superstitious folk, and if nothing else it’s what these people have known all their lives. Suspicious lights, weird noises, and mutated deer don’t even phase these people.
The Enclosure picks its battles when it decides what to tackle, that’s for damn sure. Not like they’re an international brand or anything, they only have the resources to stick to these neck of the woods, and with all the anomalies in these parts, not really surprised that they settled here. Been here for nearly 100 years and have very little idea why it’s such a supernaturally-charged area. Some say it might be the fact that folks are so superstitious that it basically invites the energy here, but others think there’s a reason.
But, it ain’t my department to figure that out.
The hardest part of the job is getting things into the facility, but sometimes the hot shots up top decide to just have us study those things from afar since taking them out of their established location seems impossible. So many ladies in grey and white dresses all over the place, we can’t exactly make a support group for them here or anything. Not when they’re out busy haunting dunes or lakes or crying by the side of the road or whatever. Not really hurtin’ anyone all that much, so they’ve mostly just been left alone. We keep tabs, but we also don’t always interfere.
Oh, and being the sacrificial lamb is a bit annoying. But I bounce back quickly enough, death has gotten less disorienting over time, but no less annoying.
(pause, then sigh)
What did I do today?
Uh, well, I had a shorter day, shiftwise. So I went in at like 6am? Then got out at around 1ish. I was supposed to leave closer to noon, but I ended up having to stop at Dr. Rahal’s office for a bit for my headaches. They’ve been getting worse and we don’t really know why. At least they come and go in waves, so I get some peace at times. It’s always nice to see Dr. Rahal, though. He’s been the nicest to me since I started at this place, from what I can remember at least. He’s one of The Enclosure physicians who I’ve been seeing from anything to work-related injuries that aren’t too severe to these headaches. I swear, I’ve never met a guy in my life who can smile so genuinely and be so sincerely happy over just about anything. It’d honestly be annoying if it weren’t so sincere, and if he also weren’t so genuinely nice.
He’s really trying to help with these headaches, but medicine doesn’t really ever help and the medical scans showed nothing that would indicate any issue. I mean, not that they let me see the medical scans. I guess I wouldn’t understand them anyways even if they did let me. Dr. Rahal thinks that it’s likely stress, so that takes us back to therapy with Dr. Daman.
Had a session after work, which was when she suggested that I really start this up. She’s suggested it before, but I kinda dismissed the idea, until today; she made a very good point.
What’s the harm in doing it? I mean, it can’t make the headaches worse. And even if it doesn’t help me remember anything, maybe getting things off my chest could help in some way.
Therapy was… uneventful. Not like much happens in a week– just the usual work stuff, mostly. Though I have started going out after work a bit more often, even if it’s just to a local shop or to grab a bite to eat. Dr. Daman suggested a few months back that I socialize a bit more and it’s been kinda nice. Weird, but nice. I’ve mostly stuck to myself outside of work, honestly. Well, besides those community events that you’re basically ostracized if you don’t attend or you get bombarded with those calls of, “Where were you last night? We were so worried about you, are you okay?” Even if you don’t remember giving them your number?
I like to go to a restaurant in town called The Royal Cow. They make the best in-house ice cream. They built it to look like one of those red farm houses which matches most of the buildings in town, but their mint chocolate-chip ice cream is basically the best ice cream I’ve ever had. They also make really, really good sugar-cream pie, get it when it’s still fresh, still a little warm, melts in the mouth. I mean it basically cures any hankering for a sweet tooth.
So, that’s what I ordered. A fresh slice of sugar-cream pie. But- that was my dessert. They do also have some pretty good not-sweet foods, their lunch menu’s alright, but their breakfast food is really where it’s at. They do that ‘breakfast all day’ thing, so I got their breakfast platter, which is really, really good food.
On my way home I bumped into Darius, uh, he’s the son of some local farmers in town. His dads have an apple orchard, on top of everything else. The Enclosure actually keeps tabs on their farm because no matter what his dad, John, plants, apples always grow. I mean, no matter what John plants, he could plant pumpkin seeds in the fall, but no, apple trees are gonna spring up. And I’ll be damned if those aren’t the best apples. I mean, sometimes crabapples grow instead, he can’t really control what kind of apples grow, but John has found a way to make crabapples into really good apple pies and ciders and stuff. I’ve heard they make good jams and jellies, but he perfected a crabapple pie. He said it’s “just a lotta love”, but I think there’s something with those apple trees.
But again, not my department to figure it out.
Darius and I made small talk. The weather, mostly. So mostly just complaining about how it wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so humid or if we just had a nice breeze, but the shade does help.
He always makes excuses to talk to me- I mean, I’m not complaining, but that does seem to be a thing around town is everyone makes excuses to talk to everybody, like the one time that Holly stopped me in the middle of the road to chat when we were passing each other. It’s a community norm, I guess, but Darius always wants to talk. Again, I’m not complaining, he’s a really nice conversational partner. We can chat about just about anything, with certain obvious restrictions.
He knows I work at The Enclosure, but folks in town seem to think it’s some hoity-toity but shady government job. I don’t really think we’re tied to the government, per se, but whatever lie they’ve told the town’s just what I stick with. Whether or not they believe that it is entirely another story. He knows I’m a scientist, but he thinks I’m more of a, uh, environmental natural scientist, instead of a supernatural scientist… I guess whether or not he believes that is an entirely other story, too.
But we don’t really talk about work much, on my end I don’t bring it up, and uh, while he does talk about working on the family farm from time to time, especially ‘cause they expect for him to take over, he tries to find other things to talk about. He’s gone back to school recently. They recently in town set up a sort of trade school, I guess? Where if anyone’s considered a master in town, they can teach classes to teach other people that, whatever skills they have to share. Seems Darius is taking a bit of a Home-Ec class, I guess. Sewing and cooking and things like that. He said that he’s great with his hands in the field, but he really wants to round out his hand skills.
He then awkwardly chuckled after that, but I don’t understand why. I mean, it’s completely respectable to want to be able to stitch up your own clothes or actually have a nice dinner besides the reheated leftovers left on your doorstep, or to know what to do when your microwave catches fire. Honestly, I don’t really know what all they teach in those classes.
I’d never even heard of something like a home-ec class until Darius told me about it. I wonder if I ever took one…if I wasn’t so busy with work I would actually look into taking classes, I’d like to learn, and Darius even said that he’d be more than happy to help me with anything if I needed it, which is nice.
But I’m a really fast learner. I actually get bored a lot because of it. I don’t see why anyone would need five months or years of training or educating… No, I can see why. I also just know that I’m the anomaly. When I forgot everything and had to relearn how to read, I was at a 10th grade reading level by what, just a few weeks? And then I was at college-level again in a matter of a month. But even though I was relearning stuff quick, I never remembered anything. I never remembered books I’ve read before the incident, I never remembered learning how to read the first time, I just was quickly…relearning how to read. I don’t even know if you would consider it remembering how to read.
And I mean, I’m never remembering anything. I-I don’t even remember the creature that I was working with in the incident, and no one will tell me anything because they said they want me to remember organically or something like that. They said they feared something like a…trauma whiplash? I really don’t understand it, and it just pisses me off more than anything. But Dr. Daman won’t budge.
No one will let me look over any files of the incident or files on the other lab techs who died. They slapped this key around my neck and said, “Here, to keep your brain in check. Oh, you literally remember nothing? Whelp, tough luck. See this therapist and see what happens-”
They said if it weren’t for my weird powers then the incident would have killed me too, they said they don’t why I have this ability to rebound from death like it nearly never happened, but they sure are willing to use my ability for work.
Right, the key. Uh-
When I woke up, the first thing the doctors did was have me wear it around my neck on some sort of sturdy red cord, I’ve never taken the thing off in years…You would think it may have faded a bit or that the cord would have worn, but no, cord is still sturdy and key is just as shiny as they day they gave it to me, which isn’t that shiny, it was a bit tarnished already, but it hasn’t gotten any more tarnished. It’s supposed to keep my brain in check after the effects of well, the incident. Dr. Daman says if I take it off, I risk unlearning absolutely everything that I’ve learned in the last two years. I don’t know why the key is supposed to be the thing that does this, but this is the only time that death has ever made me lose everything, so I figured, what’s the harm in wearing it? Not like it hurts to wear or anything.
Darius has asked me about it before, though. Not when we first met or anything, but after multiple times of running into each other he finally asked. I get asked about it a lot, but I just say it’s a familial trinket and they tend to just leave it be.
But Darius had asked after we’d shared a few drinks at a local bar and, even though I have a bit of a high tolerance for alcohol and never stay drunk long, he seemed to ask at just the right moment for me to open up a bit more, I guess. I said it’s a comfort item… which I guess isn’t exactly the whole truth, I actually honestly hate this thing, a constant reminder of all the things that I have forgotten, but I guess there’s slight comfort in knowing that because of this key, everything that I’ve relearned will stick.
They say it’s important to understand all that you don’t know, but I know all too well that I’ve got at least 20 years of things that I don’t remember. But hey, with this key, I guess I can rebuild that.
I must have seemed uncomfortable about this question or he was satisfied with that answer because Darius let it go after that, but I catch him staring at it sometimes. He’s asked what I know about Skeleton Keys, and all things considered: I didn’t know much. At least, I didn’t remember.
He told me that his dads both told him about the powers that keys hold, not just to lock things but even more importantly to unlock them. That a skeleton key could lock or unlock any door to a given building, no matter what other keys people had. Commonly used by cleaners and inn owners and stuff like that. He really seems fixated on the idea… and I guess the symbolism is a bit striking with my current… situation considered.
Whatever. The less he knows, the better- it would be nice to talk to someone outside of The Enclosure about more personal stuff from time to time, but I can’t go around spillin’ secrets.
…Right, my day. Uh, lunch, talked with Darius. Uh-
After about 15 minutes of ‘alright, I should get going’’s, and taking a few steps apart, starting up talks about other topics, and repeating the process, I finally started home. On my way home I drove past some cornfields and various other pastures. The Enclosure gave me a house near the edge of town, because after a year of rigorous ‘relearning’, I didn’t want to live in their communal housing anymore. It’s not too far from Darius’s family orchard and farm, which is nice. Nicest farm in the area, in my opinion. There’s no real rivalry between the farmers, at least nothing too intense, but something about those trees in the distance out of my window is really relaxing.
All the cattle I passed on my way home had moved to face the same direction near the fences and stared into the distance, mindlessly grazing- that and the clouds rolling in were very strong indicators that there was gonna be a heck of a storm tonight. I didn’t listen to the weather announcement this morning, but the sky’s only gotten darker now, so I’m ready to sleep like the dead tonight.
But, when I was pulling into my driveway, I saw something rustling in the bushes by my front door. I thought maybe it was a squirrel or a rabbit or something, but then two tiny hands parted the leaves and I saw one of those black-eyed children just… sitting there. Staring at me. I normally only see them at night, I guess it was waiting for me to come home to loiter on my doorsteps or something, and I don’t know. When I got out of the car, I was surprised when it actually climbed out of the bush and just rigidly stared at me with those lifeless black eyes. I got my stuff out of my car and made my way to the door, but it was kinda standing in the way? I just slid on by it with a muttered apology and slipped inside before it could start whispering requests for entrance.
Never making that mistake again. No matter how much I want to let them in, my house got all sorts of messed up last time and I got a heck of a scolding at work when they found out. I don’t shoo them away, but I don’t let them in anymore.
It was really weird. They normally only come knocking or waiting by the sides of the road at night, I had never seen one in the middle of the afternoon.
Once I got settled in, I pulled out a book, a…a crossword book I was gifted at the last community bonfire. I blow through these things really fast, but I really like them, so Christine gave me like five of ‘em. All different, claimed that she found the most difficult ones that she could find, which is really sweet. She even wrote little notes on the inside cover of each of them, so I’ve ended up keeping them when I’m done so I can reread her notes when I need a little pick-me-up. Whether a crossword book or a little box of treats, she always writes uplifting notes and anecdotes inside any gifts she gives anyone, all signed with the most beautiful cursive:
With love, Christine Torres.
She really mothers everyone in town, at least that’s what I’ve noticed.
This one is a real toughie, which I like. That’s mostly what I’ve been up to since I got home. I decided that I’d take a break from doing, well, this. Dr. Daman was adamant about me giving it a shot, so here we are.
Me, myself, and I…
Ope. Sorry, hold on. Work email.
(Mumbling) Who am I even apologizing to?
Well now, wait a minute- A new lab partner? Dr. Gia Castillo… why the hell did they give me a new lab partner? I guess I’m meeting her in the morning…
I hate it when Todd pulls this. But I’ve got no say in the matter. The usual. But I hate sudden change.
I’m tired, I’m reheating some food Mrs. Wethington gave me and goin’ to bed. I can hear the thunder starting to get louder and that kid outside tappin’ on my door, so I guess I should try and get some sleep.
Guess I’ll… talk to you later?
(Pause) This is actually kinda nice. Saying whatever I want without worries. (Strained chuckle that trails off)
Ugh, I’m already dreading tomorrow.
Well, this is Dr. Jared Hel, signing off, I guess.
(Recorder clicks and music trails in with sounds of thunder)
“Jar of Rebuke” is written and produced by Casper Oliver, who is also the voice of Dr. Jared Hell.
The intro is read by Vanessa Rosengrant, and credits are read by Ashlee Craft who has also created the podcast’s official graphics.
Music was created by Luke Menniss (spelled M-E-N-N-I-S-S), who you can find and support on Bandcamp, Spotify, and Twitch.
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