Journal of Black Ivy

{Short Fiction} Journal of Black Ivy 1.1: “Zero Boundaries Podcast: Episode 182”

Art by Grave Roberts

Zero Boundaries Podcast: Episode 182

[Ed. note: The following was painstakingly transcribed from Holland’s digital recorder. We have done our best to preserve his voice, for ease and accuracy of analysis.]

[…]

Alright, so, I think this is rolling. Well, wait—fuck. Yeah. Okay. We’re on, I’m recording. Can I even say rolling anymore, is that allowed? Does a digital recorder roll?

Whatever your verb preference, this is episode one-eight-two of Zero Boundaries, the premiere paranormal urban exploration podcast; and this time, we’re going live! Well, almost—I’m recording live on the scene, but you guys will hear it whenever it hits iTunes or whatever.

Losers. 

[Ed. note: Zero Boundaries is no longer available online for the greater listening public.]

Right now, speaking from my digital recording device, I’m parked at a campsite on the edge of Olympic National Park in Washington state, and I’m about to go on a week long hike in an attempt to piece together a mystery that won’t stop unraveling. And because I’m in the field, so to speak, I’m going to be recording all my thoughts. 

And what mysteries does this lush, green, beautiful forest hold?

Hundreds of missing people, for one. But make no mistake, that’s only where the story begins. To pass the time on the trail, I’ve brought all my research with me. Throughout the next week, I’ll lay out everything I know about the Black Pilgrimage, while—drum roll—I’m actually walking it. I take my first steps on the trail tomorrow morning, until then, this is Zero Boundaries. 

[…]

I’ve been hiking for about, oh, let’s say three hours now. I’ve just been kinda enjoying the scene, really, it’s one of those things you have to see to appreciate. Sun is out, air smells crisp and clean—I don’t think I’ll mind roughing it in these parts. 

So, just a recap for all those who don’t know how this works. I’m going to be recording this episode in the forest itself, I have a couple fully charged batteries for my recorder, and I’m assured I could record a hundred hours straight if I wished. If you remember the Detroit episode where we spent the night in the haunted factory, this is gonna be kinda like that, except way more ambitious. I’ll explore the mystery, kinda go through the facts in my downtime and report anything I see or hear. It’ll be fun, and hopefully—spooky. 

To complete the experience, I also brought a camera and when I get home I’ll post some stuff to the Zero Boundaries blog, just so, you know, you can get the whole picture. Yeah, I know, I know, I’ll be here all week—literally. Double zinger.

[Ed note: Blog no longer exists. Unfortunately, to our knowledge, no photos have been recovered.]

But anyways, let’s get to why I’m here. The Black Pilgrimage. What paranormal investigator Kipler Roshe called “an unacknowledged holocaust, the most prolific serial killing in the history of the human race.” A deadly trail that some say is the Pacific Northwest’s Bermuda Triangle; discovered in part by non-profit Missing But Not Forgotten—a foundation intent on solving missing persons mysteries, with the help of a large and active community user-group. The site’s flagship application, the Missing Map, was used as a tool to help keep track of high-risk areas and to highlight the possibility of a human trafficking ring operating in the United States. A couple of users local to Washington, noticed the high density of dots in and around the perimeter of the forest and from there, the ball started to roll. 

Who were these people, who all so suddenly vanished? Well, at first glance, they had no connection to each other at all. They were normal people who lived quiet lives both online and off, flew to the Northwest, headed off towards the forest and were never heard of again. 

One of the most interesting pieces of evidence, in regards to a sort of anomaly, is this blog post by Jeff Koons, a man who allegedly sat next to a woman named Marcy Pollock on a plane ride to Seattle. Koons found out the woman was missing a couple weeks after his flight, and came forward to reveal his recollections in hopes they could help authorities.

He writes, “She was quiet, kinda tense, maybe a little sad […] I tried to lighten the mood with her a couple times and chatted a bit. I asked her if she lived in Seattle, and she said, ‘No, I’m just going home.’ I took that to mean she grew up there, but moved away. The wording stuck with me though.”

[Ed. note: Holland misquotes Koons’ blog post here. In the original post, Koons writes that she says, “No, I’m coming home.” There are no known records of Marcy Pollock having any connections to Seattle or the Northwest.]

The last places the missing are seen are often at gas stations, campsites, or sometimes on the trail itself. And to be true to the case, I’ve made all the obvious stops in the obvious places. Some listeners have suggested, in preparation for our Black Pilgrimage episode, that someone who works at one of these common sites is scoping potential victims. If this is true, I’ve left a strong enough trail for anyone to follow. They know where I’m going, the only thing I didn’t tell them was my real name and what I was doing here. 

[Ed. note: This was Holland’s first misstep. The pseudonyms he left at various hotels, restaurants, and gas stations obfuscated his comings and goings. He chose intentionally bland names like Robert Brown or Jeff Williams, names found at other registries in the area, thus widening the search when it could have been more focused.]

According to my map, I’ve made it to my first real stopping point today. Time to set up camp. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the little mystery that’s guiding my journey and how it connects to the Black Pilgrimage. Peace out!

[…]

I’m eating breakfast now, and I’m eating the good shit. Baked beans cooked over a campfire, authentically smoked-in flavor. The night was quiet, I heard a couple of animals but nothing too Blair Witchy. Slept pretty decent, but I’m a city boy, and I reserve the right to be tore up from a day of hiking. 

Anyways, I said yesterday I was at my first real stopping point. Which means I should probably talk about the Map. 

If I were to describe it to you, you’d think it rather unremarkable. The Map itself, or my copy at least, is a print off of a scan, an old map of the National Park with heavy black, vein-like lines hand-drawn over the illustrated topography. Each vein ends in the near center of the forest, reaching like a tendril from its edge to its darkest depths. These are the trails, they all lead to the same black dot and they all have a number of disappearances attributed to their entry point. This is the McAllister Map, this is what is leading me onward. 

For fifteen years, the McAllister Map has been passed around on the internet as a lesser known piece of internet folklore. Some users of sites such as 4chan and Reddit recall seeing it posted occasionally, dating from around the early millennium onward. Much of its rather limited popularity came from its unnerving visual factor. Basically, if you look at it, and I’ll be posting this to my blog along with any other pictures I come up with, you’ll see that it looks pretty creepy. 

But, initially, anyways, that was the problem with the McAllister Map— it didn’t have any real staying power. It didn’t have a name or a purpose like Slenderman, therefore never experienced the same sort of growth. Back then, the names floating around were sillier and more decidedly horrific, like Satan’s Eye, or Worm Waves. It wasn’t even widely acknowledged as a map back then, not until a user from a forum dedicated to unresolved mysteries commented that the map was of Olympic National Park. From there, one map was connected to the other and the fervor began. 

Internet researchers pinpointed the first sharing of the map back to 2001 in the golden age of online piracy. It was posted to an anonymous and now defunct image board at 9:36 pm October 12th. There were a couple comments, all of them lowercase, misspelled, and not altogether too interesting. But, someone who saw it there, downloaded it and then included it in a file titled creepy.exe. It was not actually executable, but simply an image gallery. Most agree that the title was likely written by a kid who thought it sounded ‘techy.’ The file contained a host of typical creepy images, one of which was the McAllister Map. Creepy.exe became a starter kit of sorts for kids on the internet, and this is when the image started to spread, albeit modestly. 

But once the Black Pilgrimage became a specifically Northwest phenomenon, the Map took on a new weight as users noticed similarities. The comparison took minutes to make, and pretty soon commenters were pointing out that both depicted Olympic National Park, and more disturbingly, the entry points on the McAllister Map correlated with the largest congregation of dots on the Missing Map. People began to wonder how it came to be, what it was, and when it was made. 

Well, the first clue was the map itself, not what was drawn upon it, but the original untainted map. Users matched it to a road map published in 1952, stocked in gas stations and convenience stores across the United States. On the blotch of green that is Olympic National Park, the black lines were drawn, probably in marker, designating a number of trails that all led to the same spot, in the shadow of Mt. Olympus. The McAllister Map is a black and white scan of that map, the scan’s distortive quality highlighting its sinister undertones with the ragged, stark aesthetic of horror movies like The Ring, The Grudge, and earlier, Seven—this coincidence, along with the growing mystery surrounding the Black Pilgrimage, cemented the McAllister Map as more than just a map, but something innately sinister

The plot thickened when a man named Buck Pfarrer claimed to have the original download on an old computer, saved on a whim from the original image board. Pfarrer said, in a now lost, but endlessly screenshotted MySpace post, “My friend saw the picture of the map and sent it my way, and when I saw it, I was immediately thirteen again. I remember seeing it, not thinking much of it, and then saving it. But back then, I saved everything. The map was weird and kinda cool to look at. When he told me that it was becoming a big deal, I had to dig out my old computer.”

Pfarrer did the mystery a huge service by finding the original download and uploading it, and an even bigger service by exposing its metadata, revealing the file to have been uploaded by a Louis McAllister. All it needed was a name, and the McAllister Map became canonized into internet folklore. 

We’re going to switch gears before we get back to Louis McAllister, but remember that name, because it’s not the last time you’ll hear it. 

[…]

On each trail, or Veins as they’ve started to be called, are smaller dots—internet commenters call them bloodclots. Charming, right? Well, I’ve been hiking for awhile now, and I think I’ve found my first bloodclot. Should just be over the hill here. 

So, no one actually knows for sure what these represent, but as we get deeper into the tangential material surrounding the Black Pilgrimage, the McAllister Map, and The Damned Abattoir, more theories will present themselves. The general consensus is that they are pit stops of some sort. Either way, we’re about to find out for sure very soon. 

[Ed. Note: Holland mentions The Damned Abattoir but never speaks about it at length, save for a few allusions. It is not yet clear whether Holland acquired a copy, or is using what he has seen online as a reference point.]

[…]

Holy shit. 

I—

Oh my God. 

This is amazing. 

I can’t— 

[inaudible]

This is… incredible. So. Here. Let me try to describe this. I’m looking at the Vein I’m following, and this is the first of two bloodclots before we reach the end of the Map. I can’t even—I’m seriously so excited right now. This is real headway, no one has seen this before and lived to tell the tale. Alright, let me take a deep breath. Fuck, fuck, fuck! This is awesome. 

So, I was walking up this hill. It was super rocky, but still, let me tell ya’, beautiful, gorgeous. Green on everything. Even the moss here is fluorescent. I get to the top and the trail tells me to steer left down the other side of the hill, which leads to a small valley. Down in the center of the valley, which is maybe, let’s say about a two-hundred feet of flatland flanked by heavily wooded hills, there is a structure. Man made, definitely, stone, but overgrown with vines and moss. It looks like an arch, kind of Stonehenge-ish, you know? I’m not an expert on this stuff, so I’m going to take a lot of pictures, because I want to know when this was built, but I’m going to guess sometime in the last hundred years.

This is amazing, and it’s getting dark. I’m gonna camp here for the night and gather some more data to take back with me. 

[…]

Alright, it’s morning. I’m still alive. No devils whispering in my ears, although I’m pretty sure someone did walk through my camp last night, but I’m thinking it was probably just another hiker.

Freaked me out a little bit when it happened, but what are you going to do? I’m in the woods, people hike. Just for the record, I didn’t see the hiker, but I did hear him and I can see his footprints right now. I’m taking some more pictures for the blog, uh, just in case. 

Just to be clear, I’m not fearful for myself right now, I’m more concerned that I’m documenting the latest victim to fall into the Black Pilgrimage. So, hopefully, that’s not what’s happened here. Either way, time to break camp.

 Art by Grave Roberts

[…]

On the trail again, saying goodbye to our first bloodclot. Looks like my trail is taking me in a different direction than the footsteps of our fellow traveler. Am I a pussy for saying I’m relieved?

Yes? 

Fair enough. 

[…]

Changing gears here, another piece of the puzzle. More fodder from message boards of days past. Remember when discussion boards were big? Before all discussion was centered in Facebook groups? It’s a thing of wonder, really. 

I’m on the trail right now so forgive my foot-stomping in the background. 

This next thing—I actually knew about this before I ever got into this Black Pilgrimage stuff. Way before. A Zero Boundaries listener tagged me in a story and I thought at the time it was a cute mystery—small potatoes, but still—intriguing. It was a video pulled from a local news broadcast out of Bismarck, North Dakota, a little fluff piece surrounding a seventy-three year old blind woman who paints. They talk a little about her art, why she chose painting, her struggles with her disability, and her can-do optimism. Meanwhile, they cut to some folks who I assume are from the Bismarck art scene and they all have some really nice things to say about her painting technique. 

Nice, right? It’s a fun story that you could probably see your local news running too. The paintings are no great mystery, they tend toward the abstract and are almost purely expressionistic—she is blind after all—but they do have a raw quality to them that makes them appealing. Well, there’s one scene in the video where the interviewer is standing in Abby’s studio and they’re talking about her art. They go through a couple of her paintings and she talks a little about them. In the background of the studio, we see all these paintings hanging on the wall, and this is where whoever uploaded the video zooms in and digitally circles a single painting. You can barely see it, and the video itself was produced around 1996, so the quality isn’t quite up to snuff in the first place, but you can see, pretty clearly, that this painting in the background is the only of the set that isn’t abstract. It’s a mountain, surrounded by forest, and it’s tucked into the corner of her display. 

Well, this definitely raised an eyebrow for me at the time, but I shrugged it off and moved on. I mean, there’s the obvious answer here: Abigail Zdor wasn’t always blind and she painted the nature scene back when she had sight. Boom. Case closed. 

Except, that’s not correct in the least. Abigail Zdor was born blind due to Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, an inherited disease. She has never known sight. 

[Ed. Note: It is possible Abigail Zdor possessed limited sight throughout, or early in her life. Holland seems confused, or is sensationalizing Zdor’s story. However, it is still a remarkable feat for her to have painted this piece. Either way, it is suggested that her sight is in parallel with TDA.]

With that in mind, new questions emerge. Did she actually paint this? Was it purchased? Would a blind woman purchase someone else’s art? Does she personally enjoy art or does she just like the way it allows her to express herself? One of our users went online and did some research. FreshJack13 found a great number of her paintings on a BigCartel site run by her surviving family. Abby died in 2004 and wanted her paintings to be sold cheaply to people who would appreciate them. Well, what do you know, the mountain painting wasn’t there, and for good reason too: it was sold four years ago. 

You gotta give credit to FreshJack13, because he goes a lot deeper than your average researcher. He found the painting online, a high resolution scan and a title. But where did he find it? A deep web message board called The Abattoir. The painting? The Red

[Abattoir user Doug Jackson has claimed to be FreshJack13, and has submitted screenshots of emails sent between himself and Holland as proof.]

But with a clear scan we can see a lot more detail, in fact, as soon as we posted a mini-episode mystery of the scan we knew we were onto something a lot bigger. Almost instantly, our Northwest readers chimed in. The painting was of Mt. Olympus, the mountain I can see right now, looming, and if I’m being totally honest, I’m fairly close to the painting’s perspective, about a days hike from the next bloodclot.

It’s chilling to see it like it this, because the deeper you get into the Black Pilgrimage, the more things connect, never exact, but they have a way of falling into place. 

The painting, why is it called The Red? There’s no red in it, it’s just motel art, albeit more ominous. The reason is another of those puzzle pieces, one that never quite fits into place, but another question to inspire endless debate. 

But, let’s deal with The Abattoir first. Hidden in the deep web, discovered by FreshJack13 from a lone link in an occult forum that’s been dead for about a decade, is an old school message board centered around a mystery. Well, that’s not quite the right way to put it—it’s populated by devotees of a mystery.

Anyways, the— 

[inaudible]

[…]

Alright, first big accident of the whole trip. Talking to myself, tripped. That about sums it up. If I’m correct, I’m still about two days from the end of the journey, with a bloodclot on the radar for tomorrow. I’m just torn up right now, I fell down into a, uh, I don’t know, a ravine? Is that right? I guess so. Hit a lot of trees on the way down, I might’ve twisted my ankle, which is the majority of the pain I’m feeling right now, but hopefully, it’s not actually sprained. I managed to get myself back to where I tripped and a little farther, but I’m still about a mile short of where I originally wanted to stop. 

It’s still light out, and it will be for another three or four hours, but I’m going to set up camp and try to rest my foot. Peace out. 

[…]

[Rustling noises, footsteps. The sound of voices, individually inaudible.]

[Ed. Note: Sound file available in Primary Documents Forum.]

[…]

[Ed. Note: From here on out, Holland starts to sound fatigued, possibly dazed from the encounter he had the previous night. This could also be a compounding of factors, including exposure to the elements and potential injuries. From The Damned Abattoir: “They walk and they shamble, through the woods like a flock of sheep. They walk all day and they walk all night, and I smell like bourbon and brains.”]

I don’t know what to think anymore. I was afraid to leave the tent this morning, you know? I didn’t want to get out of my fucking tent. 

I’m taking pictures of the footprints, all that kind of stuff, I know I need to, but it’s hard, because right now I’m not sure—

I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. But, make no mistake, they were here. I can see the footprints, about ten of them, and they were all around the tent, and they were talking to me. But I don’t know what they were saying. Would it be cowardly to just convince myself it was a dream and move on? I’m kicking myself for turning on my recorder at all…Yay, Zero Boundaries Podcast, the premiere paranormal—

[Holland trails off and says nothing for forty-three seconds]

This is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. A lot harder. I’m going to eat something, and then I’m going to the next bloodclot. God help me, I am a stupid man. 

[…]

I’m a little shaken up still. It’s hard to describe how I’m feeling, because, well, I’ve never had to feel anything like this before. I’m isolated. Like really isolated. If I wanted to get back to civilization, I’d probably have to hike a good twenty-five miles. 

I mean, it all fits together, right? That’s what makes a good mystery, is that at the end, you can see the pieces fall into place? Well, right now, I’m wondering, you know, what if this isn’t a good mystery? What if this is a bad mystery?

I’m getting tired, I’ve only been hiking for an hour, and I’m tired. I’ll try to push through, God, where were we? Oh yeah. 

[Seven seconds of silence, papers shuffling]

The Abattoir is a forum on the deep web, a scary term for the internet that isn’t part of search engine databases. Imagine all the websites you go to being on a… map. Wait, sure, a map. Not the Map, but a map, like a road map. Uh… it’s all documented, you can trace the lines, outline it with marker if you want, make stops along the way. But, now imagine some cities haven’t been put on the map yet, and to get there, you just need to know how to get there. Well, that’s the deep web. That’s The Abattoir, it’s not cataloged and you won’t find it on any maps, but it’s there. And this is where we start to go deep, maybe too deep if you ask me. 

The Abattoir is a dedicated forum for everything related to the Black Pilgrimage. If we’d found it a long time ago, we’d have saved a lot of legwork. But the truth of the matter is that it has to already be known. It’s like the chicken and the egg, how do you find a way to know something you’re already supposed to know?

God, I feel like I’m going to be sick. 

You know all those women who write to serial killers? The ones who fall in love with them? The Abattoir is a lot like that. The masthead is made up of the faces of the missing. You’d think, like, maybe it’s like, for remembrance. They’re trying to help the families, or something. But look at the name: The Abattoir. Do you know what an Abattoir is? Do you?

It’s a slaughterhouse, man.

[Ed. Note: It is possible that Holland is congested here as the tone of his voice changes. Some users claim to here sniffling too, after “…the masthead” and later, “…eloquent user speculation.” Users are split on whether the congestion is emotional or viral.]

This is the slaughterhouse. The forest, a giant meat grinder.

They have threads upon threads with thousands of pages of eloquent user speculation. We were talking about The Red, right? Well, they know all about it. They’ve deconstructed the technique, have a rough timeline of when it was painted, and they know who bought it. 

Remember McAllister, the kid who uploaded the Map, the one who gave it its namesake? Well, guess who bought The Red. Go ahead, fucking guess. Another McAllister, the Second this time, his father. 

It just keeps going deeper. You can ask yourself why, you can ask yourself why so many times, but it never comes together. 

Everyone wonders what they’re doing now, who they are. But you don’t need the Abattoir to figure that out.

At the age of fifteen, Louis was found guilty for the murder of a twelve year old girl. Before that, he was known as a quiet kid with a good family. That’s right, ask anyone who knows them, the McAllister’s are a good family. But then again, most of these people aren’t on The Abattoir, right?

[Ed. Note: Most users remain anonymous.]

Louis was quiet, his mom and dad were around a lot, they were decently upper middle class. But, Louis would sometimes act out in school, act goofy to get attention. Some people thought he had undiagnosed ADHD. And then, one night, he lured a younger girl out of her house, and killed her in the forested area of a nearby park. Details are vague, of course, but someone in the police department, came up with the fact that he pulled out her eyes, cut off one of her fingers, then buried them nearby.

[Ed. Note: Another parallel from The Damned Abattoir: “I buried pieces of her along the trail, in the hopes that her flesh would act as seedlings, and: grow.”]

Louis McAllister III is in prison for life. His family has spoken out against his actions, have condemned them vehemently, and have offered nothing but support to the family of the girl. Still, still—there isn’t a week that McAllister II misses a visit with his son. 

I’m looking at the Map now, and I’m getting close, really close. Chillingly close, I’m in spitting distance of the perspective from The Red. It’s like I’m seeing the painting right now, it’s unreal. 

[…]

The ground, it’s quicksand, I guess; I’m at a loss for words. I’m looking up, right now, at Mt. Olympus. I feel sick, I feel tired, I feel out of my element, and right this second, I am seeing The Red in a way no high def scan can ever represent. But, the ground, it’s like a marsh. 

I’m at the bloodclot, the exact same perspective Abby Zdor painted. Jesus fucking Christ, the exact same, it’s—I don’t know what to say. There’s no structure, nothing man-made, just this marsh and the view. 

I can’t tell if I’m underwhelmed or terrified. I don’t know what I can say about any of this anymore. All I can think about is the fact that I’m starting to warm up to the idea that I might not make it out of here. Is that dramatic, too dramatic to say? Maybe. Maybe. I might be stuck here, I might be the—

[Holland exhales, slowly. Theatrically, even. Some users believe Holland had already prepared this line before he entered the forest and is now using it, regardless of his dire situation.]

I might be the latest Black Pilgrim. 

I don’t even know what to think about that. I can see it now, my face, my smiling face will appear in newspapers, they’ll take quotes from my friends, they’ll ask my family what I was like growing up. All this will be published, then it will be forgotten. And the only place I’ll survive is on The Abattoir, they might even put me on the masthead. They’ll plot my course and imagine my terror at what I might’ve seen, what might’ve happened to me. 

You know, on The Abattoir, they have a sub-forum called The Goodbye? You know what they post there? Well, it’s right there, right there in the name. It’s just a natural extension of the hobby. Once you start researching the Black Pilgrimage, eventually, you’ll want to take the trip yourself. Once you read the literature, once you see all the facts, the mystery becomes too great, and when it’s time—when you finish your tattered copy of The Damned Abattoir, when you’ve discussed the disappearances until you’ve memorized all the canonical victims, when you’ve studied The Red, when you’ve seen the McAllister transcripts, when you start changing your desktop backgrounds to pictures of the forest, when nothing else interests you: 

You say Goodbye, and venture onward, as a fellow Pilgrim.  

[…]

The marsh—

[inaudible]

[…]

[Ed. Note: The dull roar in the background makes the audio difficult to hear, but as user BEDLAM2 suggested, it is clear that Holland is reciting the last lines of The Damned Abattoir, where the narrator, in free verse, gives himself over to an unnatural, living structure, most often referred to as the Tower.]

Bricks mortared, 

sealed and stuck with 

dice and pin-ups

We build, and

We bloom 

[end of transcription]

Ed. note: tape was found twenty-four miles in, following the McAllister maps trajectory, starting from Vein 4 with some minor deviations. The above was transcribed for ease of analysis. Lester Holland was never found by authorities, but this recording was found and sent in by listener TheLast_45. Please do your due diligence and keep these materials off the greater web. 

All materials are presented to you by THE ABATTOIR. 

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