Over the course of the last few years of throwing our bi-annual FACECON events, we have been discovering many significant artifacts, writings and evidence surrounding the life of a young girl who was born in the late 1800’s, EMILY SANDFORD. Her narrative seems inexorably tied to our own and aside from some of her writings, we have witness accounts and historical relics which tell her harrowing and macabre life story. Here is a repository of the evidence, if you will, that we of The Face Eaters Cinema Collective have gathered thus far:
THE DIARY OF EMILY SANDFORD
The following is a pieced together story, utilizing scattered and disjointed diary entries from the journal of one Emily Sandford, a resident of old Monarch township in the late 1800’s. The entire account can never be fully shown, as much of the diary was either destroyed by fire or burned by some unknown hand. These remaining pages and pieces were found charred and scattered among the ruins of an old building near Monarch Pass, Colorado in 2009. They have been reassembled as best they may be able. What is contained herein, is a largely lost, often fragmented narrative and there are some places where the date of the entry was not available, but are always denoted as such. While no records exist which either deny or validate any of the events the narrator mentions, two things add to the historical plausibility of the diary entries in question and the validity of the tale told herein.
First, there is a record of a local cemetery(local to Monarch Pass and it’s surrounding area), currently in the archives of Denver’s Historical Museum in Denver, CO, which details the interment of vast numbers of deceased persons in the autumnal months of 1887. While never explicitly accounting for any of the means of death in any of the cases, it names 128 bodies buried between August 20th, 1887 and September 27th, 188
7. This number would roughly be the population of the small town. Oddly, the authorship of said document is also impossible to verify as there is no listing inside for any of the many hands that seem to have given ink to it’s pages. It may be assumed that this medical record was largely authored by doctors involved somehow in the incident.
Secondly, aside from much undeniable evidence that shows that the town was completely burned to the ground some time in the late 1800’s, no other artifacts or records exist which explain the sudden disappearance of the entire township of Monarch, CO in the fall of 1887. Since most other items of any possible historical significance have thus far been shown to lack any definitive physical clues as to the unexplained fate of the lost Monarch miners and their small town, it may be assumed that the town was most likely taken over by some sort of plague which the townsfolk could not discern, evidenced and supported by certain passages herein, and was later burned down to avoid any further spread of the contagion by persons unknown. It has a few residents a the time of this writing, and of those people, only one would speak with this writer, wishing to remain anonymous and saying simply that the mines just gave out and people left. They further briefly denied that there was ever any such event like the one detailed by young Emily, and thus no more than supposition one way or the other may be offered.
Note: The last three entries were written in a simple Ceasar cipher, and the key to the ciphers found later in the diary entries was 13, which is a possible explanation for her writing it in all caps in the first diary entry. These are the passages a reader may find the most unsettling. It is during these few entries that it seems the narrator is succumbing to the illness she mentions as, “taking over the town”, and the absurdity of some of her claims must also be assumed to be part of a likely hallucination-fueled, malady-related dementia and discredited as the tragic fantasies of a very sick young girl. Contained in the index of this volume is a full translation, though it, along with the rest has been presented hereafter as originally dictated.
- Dr. Vincent Cossig
August 14th, 2012
July 14th, 1887
My name is Emily Sandford. I guess I might do well to talk about who I am. I was born on the 22nd of June, 1874 in Denver. I’m THIRTEEN years old and this is my first journal. Mother bought it for me in Denver when we visited this summer and saved it for now. Mother says a diary is a good way to keep one’s mind open and focused. I do not know what she means precisely, but I am happy to finally see for myself. She has made sure our education runs through the summer as well as the school year. She says the world of the 1900’s will be one that will be hard to navigate unless you are well learned. I believe I am. I should think myself more learned than my little sister Lindy. I love her dearly of course, bothersome though she is, time to time. I have two sisters who are younger than I and a brother who is much older. Lindy is eight, Mary Beth is seven. My brother, Jacob is older, almost eighteen and already working for the trailsmen of the high country. Father says he earns keep by helping folk make the cold journey over this hard mountain country, to and from the east side of the state. I miss him for the bond we had, more than that of my sisters and I. We used to talk often, and it was he who gave me my first puzzle, which helped kindle an ever growing love of solving them. He got his love of puzzles from our ma’s bother, uncle Henry who used to live with us. He was also a trailsman, but he stopped after he had a bad experience which Father said not to ask him about. Jacob once told me it was a bad man who gave my uncle the willies and caused him to take to the mines near Leadville. Uncle Henry was odd ‘un, as they say. He only stayed with us for a few months but never could find any rest. I would hear him, often in the long hours of the night, mumbling to hisself in his sleep, and it frightened me something awful. I don’t like to say it, but I was happy when Pa said he was movin’ on.
Father moved us here when I was just four because he says that the hills around us have precious metals and ores which’ll prove fruitful to future commers in these parts. The ores, he says, include silver, lead and iron which are worth a good bit of monies. He also says many people will use these mountain passes to cross the state in the coming years. Where we live is a nice house on the main street, in a town called Monarch, which up until 1884 was know as Chaffee City. It was first founded by a man named Nicholas Creed in 1878 when he hit pay dirt in the hills. My father heard of the booming time here, and rushed to help some other men establish the mine he calls The Madonna in the nearby mountainside. He moved us up here soon after. He is the primary manager and operator of The Madonna Mine and owns a large stake in it. If I stand on the deck of the upper floor of the house, I can just see it over the treetops, nestled against the hillside. I don’t think he spends much time inside the mine, but he seems to know everything about what happens there, and he has an office building near the entrance to the main shaft where he goes to work each day while mom tends the house affairs. Some months back, there was a small cave in and a few of the miners died. No one blamed my pa, though I have sometimes been teased about it at school. According to most of the townsfolk, they hit some sort of major ore vein and it caused a small earthquake which collapsed one of the shafts they had been scratching at for the last year. We felt it down here in town. It only lasted a minute, but the sound was odd. It sounded like a big crack, like when a branch snaps, followed by a rumble like a distant thunder. I was okay, but the kids in the classroom, especially my little sis Mary Beth, were all shaken up and a few were crying a riot. Some got so upset that Mrs. McLeavy excused us from our learning’s for the day. She’s my teacher at school.
School…I don’t like school. It’s not the learning, or Mrs. McLeavy. She’s is a fine tutor and she often calls on me to help the other students which makes me feel good. I’m one of the oldest in the class, and that includes all the boys, so I help when I can because with the entire town’s worth of children in there, it’s hard for Mrs. McLeavy to attend closely to all. And while I like solving problems and reading books, I just don’t like the school itself. In the past weeks weeks, I have felt a bit o’ the willies whenever I am at school. Mayhaps I’m just letting my mind get the run of me, but I can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong there. Maybe in the basement. I never been in there, but I know from Danny Doffer, a boy in my class, that the latched door in the floor near the back of the schoolhouse leads to a basement below. He says it’s on account of what’s buried down there that the school has it’s name, The Amen Schoolhouse. He says that there was a tragedy many years ago that no one ever talks about, and that it happened in that there basement. He said that sometimes when his pa would take to the drink, he would say this and that about something awful happening, how a bunch of people died and how the ground was bad. His pa said that the whole area had gone bad, and that the early settlers had to have some men of the faith come up into the hills to put a blessing on the ground so no more bad stuff happened. I would ne’er believe such nonsense at the outset, lest I knew Danny to be honest as a preacher in all other matters. I believe him, so I do. I don’t think he’s the type to sell snake oil, and on this I would say he speaks true. Also, sometimes, when it’s quiet in the classroom, save for the sound of chalks on slate, I would swear to the God Almighty that I hear odd sounds coming from the back of the schoolhouse. No one else ever seems to notice, not even Mrs.McLeavy. If they do, they never say nuthin’. Sometimes I think it’s a bit crazy to think such things, other times I think I’m the only one who is able to hear it. But school is essential, so mother says, and I still go.
School ain’t starting back up for a few a bit longer yet, and I’m enjoying my time in town. It just keeps growing and growing. We got us a livery, a couple saloons, and a nice general store where father sometimes sends Lindy and I to get us bread and fresh vegetables brought up by the rail lines. There’s are a handful of churches and we go to the protestant church just up the road every Sunday morning to hear the good word of the Lord. Pastor Evans is good at learning us in the good word. He says that so long as you got the Lord at your back, no worldly evils can hold you. I believe him, but I wonder if he’s ever been to the schoolhouse. Maybe I’ll ask him this Sunday.
July 19th, 1887
I shouldn’t have asked.
After Sunday’s service, everyone was heading back on to there homes, and people were glad-handing and gossipin’, especially the ladies. They are always chicky-chattin’ about the comings of new people to the town, and how the mines make the men to tired to do chores when they get home and other such silliness. Amid the hubbub, when he was standing alone, I walked up to Pastor Evans and asked him what he thought about there maybe being something bad in the basement of the schoolhouse. His eyes went wide and he asked why I would ask such a question. I told him that every so often lately, something feels wrong there. He mumbled something like, “…not just there I’d say…” but then straightened up and said that it was probably just my imagination, but if I felt anything specific, that I could always tell him. He said God shepherds us through the darkness, which seemed odd in that moment, but I said okay and went to gather Lindy from her friends so we could start walking back to the house. We found Mother standing with Mary Beth and Father. Father always has the nicest suits in town. I joined my family and we started walking back.
On our way home, Mother asked what the good Pastor and I were talking about. I didn’t tell her. I don’t know why.
(Preceding Entry Burned/Illegible)
…gotta say that pa is worrying me , and not just him either. Other folks are looking alarmingly ill these days…..sneezing in the streets, with the occasional yelp from a second floor window as the town doc gives up some snake oil or one of his tonics. Alot of the miners are sick or acting sickly. My father, who looks very tired despite sleeping much of the last three days, looks worse as the time goes. Ma thought he may be catching something, but he said he’s just not feeling like hisself and not to raise a hen about it. He’s been looking badly as of late, and I wonder if he’s getting something from all that time he spends at or near that mine. I don’t think it’s a real sickness cause he hasn’t taken to the bed yet, but my father looks really really tired…and troubled. Maybe I’m thinking about it too much.
I do that sometimes.
Think too much.
And when I think about…
(Rest of Entry Burned/Illegible)
(Preceding Entry Burned/Illegible)
…woke up last night in a cold sweat, from a dream I almost don’t want to recall. It was bad, so so bad. I wish I hadn’t seen what I did…
I dreamed I was at Church, and everyone in town was there. My Family, the miners, their families, the constable and the bankers. Everyone, even the ones you don’t ever see on Sunday. And I swear upon the God Almighty that everyone was a corpse. Shoulder to shoulder, an unholy congregation of the dead idly swaying in the cold light of the candles at the altar. Everyone a dead body, except Pastor Evans. He stands, cowerin’ and shakin’ at that altar, screaming words at the dead lot that I can’t make sense of. All they do in repose is moan. It ‘s an awful sound and I am not sure if I have slept well or at all since I woke in the early hours…
There is something chasing me in my dreams. Something from the deep earth below the mine shafts, where once it slumbered, yet now it stirs…and if I can’t find a way…
(Rest of Entry Burned/Illegible)
August 7th , 1887
Lately it’s hard for me to realize I’m dreaming…my dreams have become so frightening and real. And what IS real is sometimes too hard to believe. I cannot shake the feeling that something dark and ugly is happening in town. People around town are getting sick, but it’s nary a disease anyone’s heard of because it’s coming on folks in a whole buncha different ways. Some people get it in the body, others seem to get it in the brain. Some people get the fever and start coughing up a bloody mess, some just start gibberin’ away, some acting like them loonies up at Pueblo, a few counties over. They had to cart off Mrs. Jasper the other day on account of she made like she was gonna stab her brother with a big ol’ knife. Like the kind they cut pigs with. Usually, she’s a calm as a high mountain pond, and on Sundays, she’s always smiling away. Now she’s likely off to Pueblo with the other kooks.
The scariest of the folks afflicted are the ones who have started to hum to themselves day and night, calmly sitting wherever they be, just staring off into space and making like they can’t hear nothing of the outside world.
I’m so scared for my sisters…Lindy hasn’t said a word in days and while Ma and Mary Beth keep fighting off the fever, dad is still…well, after the constable locked my father up in the downtown cell, I think the whole town is scared of him. The constable let the news along that he had sent a party off to Denver for some specialists and medical men to hurry up here and find out what’s happening up here and if my father…
(Rest of Entry Burned/Illegible)
Can’t trust anyone in this town…
August 12th , 1887
I SIMPLY CAN NO LONGER TRUST MY FAMILY OR ANYONE IN TOWN. PASTOR EVANS IS DEAD AND WITH HIM, ANY ALLY I HAD IN THIS. I KNOW NOW THAT IT IS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE I TOO AM DEAD IF I JUST KEEP PLAYING AT THE TOWN CHARADE THAT ALL IS GOOD HERE. WHERE ARE THOSE FOLKS FROM DENVER??
ALL IS BAD HERE.
ALL IS WRONG.
…AND I KNOW I SAW DANNY DOFFER DEAD. NOW HE IS WALKING AROUND TOWN LIKE HE WASN’T KILLED BY HIS MOM AT ALL. THIS IS THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS. THIS IS THE END TIME. I MUST ESCAPE NOW, OR TAKE FIRE TO THE WHOLE OF MONARCH, LEST THE HORRORS OF OUR TOWN AND THAT BEFOULED MINE SPREAD ONWARD. AM I TO RUN…
…OR MUST I SIMPLY BURN IT ALL?
August 14th , 1887
BURN IT ALL