GONE Episode 2: Alarm

So here’s an embed of Episode 2.

And after the cut, my thoughts.

Episode 1 opened with the clattering noise of the Narrator getting into place for the recording. Episode 2 opens with a sort of interesting echo of that; the sound of the Narrator stumbling and cursing. There’s an odd atmospheric effect going in the background. It sounds distorted, artificial, almost cyclical. It’s not clear if the Narrator is hearing it in real time.

Okay, so, it’s dark. It’s dark, and I don’t know where Goober went

The watch words for the opening of episode 2 are “what the fuck“, repeated several times. In episode 1, all of the individual things the Narrator experienced were, if taken in a vacuum, mundane and explicable, right up until the end.

Episode 2 begins with a threshold crossed. The impossible has happened. An event that are individually inexplicable have occurred.

In the last moments of the last episode, the Narrator admitted that even though she knew it was coming, she was not prepared for 12:01. I think this is a variation on the recurring theme of how do you plan for the unexpected? A terrible man once famously said that there are known unknowns and there are unknown unknowns, but, really, Socrates aside, there are limits to how far knowing you don’t know a thing can take you.

Eventually “what the fuck” gives way to “I’m okay”… physically, at least, and we get a rundown of what has happened. The lights went out. In the darkness and her alarm at the Noise, she banged her shin on some furniture.

(Sidenote: How does a witch find a coffee table in the dark? Widdershins.)

The Narrator informs us that the power is out, before correcting herself. It isn’t. The lights are out. Or maybe the light is gone. But the power is on. Her computer is on. “What the fuck?” returns, because “that is not how that’s supposed to work.”

Oh, God, please let this not be it. Please let this not just be how it’s gonna fucking be.

We’re relying on the Narrator’s audio, so we have to infer a few things. She’s got a flashlight and we have to assume that works and she used it to find her way back to the computer, which means the flashlight is working and giving off light. Her computer monitor has to be giving off light in order for her to be using it and recognizing that it’s turned on.

So it’s not that her vision has dimmed or light itself has broken, yet in the same way that there is no natural reason for her to be singled out out of the whole world, there is nothing “special” about the lights wired into the house for them to not be drawing power or not be producing light when the computer and its peripherals can draw power and produce light.

If nothing on the house power worked, she could infer the power was out. If nothing was visibly giving off light but, say, the computer was still running, she could infer that something was wrong with her vision.

But for power to still be supplied to the house yet the lights won’t work, something has to be wrong with the world.

It’s touches like this that leave me inclined to think that what happened, happened to her rather than the rest of the world, that she’s the one who is GONE. There’s no natural effect that would produce these results, which speaks of design.

And that’s the kind of slow dawning scare that GONE relies on. I spoke in the first episode recap of how the horror of the Narrator’s situation gradually widened its scope. Even as the wrongness and weirdness and badness amps up, this kind of escalation continues.

And since the damage to the world at 12:01 the night before hasn’t been undone yet, she has no reason to expect that this, too, won’t pass… until about two and a half minutes into the episode when the Narrator screams because the light has unexpectedly come back into the world.

The change is marked by the background noise switching from the weird atmospheric ish to the night bugs.

Quick aside note: GONE is a one-person production, aside from music and whoever created the stock sound effects. One writer, one actor, one editor. Sunny Moraine has told me that their “soundbooth” consists of basically a blanket over their head and microphone.

The background noise may be canned and they may be very simple and very simply used, but they’re very effectively used. Like the backdrops in a stage play, they’re not there necessarily to convince you of the reality of the scene but to convey things about the setting of a scene you’ve already accepted.

The night bugs tell us that it’s night, and normal night. By the time they made their appearance towards the end of the first episode, we were already invested.

So the lights are on. The narrator says this a few times. “I have no idea how to…” The thought is left hanging. The lights are on.

In my episode one post, I talked about the short film Lights Out, and how the first jump scare in it is not the appearance of the supernatural but its sudden and unexpected absence, at a point when nothing else has changed. That’s not a very common trope. Some might see it as an extension of the idea that “nothing is scarier than your imagination”, but there’s a difference between never seeing the monster and having seen it and suddenly not seeing it.

I’d say the thing that’s scarier than your imagination is not being able to trust the difference between your imagination and your perception. The lights are on. Moments ago, there was evidence of something outside the natural. Now there isn’t. The only evidence anything happened is the stuff she knocked over stumbling in the dark, and that doesn’t speak to the nature of the event.

The Narrator doesn’t know how to process its sudden absence any more than she knew how to process its presence. She’s together, mostly, until she isn’t.


She pulls herself back together-ish and takes stock. She’s okay. She doesn’t know where Goober, the neighbors’ dog is, but she can’t hear him crying… and for a moment she thinks that’s a good sign, until she considers for the first time the possibility that he might have been taken from her the way all the humans were.

She’d thought about what it would mean if she WENT to whatever place the others had GONE; she had not considered that anyone or anything else might go instead. The possibility is almost too much for her… but she keeps going anyway, because what else can she do?

Alright. Okay. I’m going to put a Band-Aid on my fucking knee, then I’m going to see if I can find him.

Then I’m going to see if anything else is weird.

She then castigates herself because everything is weird. Last episode she was noting that except for the total absence of everybody else, everything was normal. Now it’s sinking in to her that the stuff that’s normal shouldn’t be normal, that it’s weird how normal some things are. Everything is weird.

She ends the segment by repeating, “I’m not okay, I’m not okay.”

She’s back a few minutes later to say that Goober is under the bed, which strikes her as the most sensible response to the situation.

Everything does seem normal, like it does seem… like it was before. I don’t even know what that was. I went back and listened to it. I’ve never heard a sound like that, but it wasn’t, like it wasn’t even a sound. It’s like the sound is just the part that it could record.

One of the weaknesses of basically any format other than prose is the inability to accurately represent the incomprehensible. A story can tell us about a color out from space that is visible to the human eye but not quite any color we can classify, but you can’t put that color on screen. This is the same reason we can’t hear the greatest song in the world, but only a tribute to it.

What the Narrator heard was both indescribable and apparently deep-in-the-bone traumatic; Moraine can’t replicate the experience for the listener (thank goodness), so we have a little bit of a handwave acknowledging that.

Though it doesn’t, for my money, damage the narrative to know that what is happening is beyond the ability of the Narrator’s recording equipment to capture.

Nothing is normal, but everything seems normal. She can’t find any permanent change in the world at the latest 12:01. So she has turned on all the lights “because I am not sitting in even vaguely the dark”. She admits that she still doesn’t know what to do, and rationalizes that the fucked-up thing she was afraid of happened, she doesn’t know what it means, but it didn’t appear to do anything besides scare her and get her to bang up her leg a little, and she’s got to sleep some time.

I am giving serious thought to addressing this problem through chemistry.

So, she informs us she’s taking a bunch of Xanax and a little Seroquel and crawling under the bed with the dog, because there’s nobody around to judge her and nobody to tell her what to do.

It’s like the sad, scary version of realizing you can have ice cream for breakfast and Cap’n Crunch for dinner.

I guess I am in full-on found footage mode, because I am talking into my iPhone.

Another day, another background track: wind and birds chirping. The Narrator tells us what we already know: the day has dawned and the sun is shining. It’s really foggy, though. Visibility is only a couple of yards, and the sun seems dimmer than it should be… which might just be the fog, but, again, the Narrator has no one to confer with on that.

It sounds all very Silent Hill, but the hills aren’t silent. They’re alive with the sounds of birdies. It’s the persistent juxtaposition of the wrong with the okay that makes GONE so creepy and I think contributes to the Narrator’s eeriness fatigue.

Not to get all ~*political*~ in the middle of this analysis, but it actually reminds me a lot of the national mood at the moment among those of us paying attention. So many things are wrong, abnormal, weird, or skewed. But life just keeps on going on. The normal stuff keeps happening. If the lights went out, we’d know we were in a disaster. But the lights are on, so mostly we just keep waiting.


She repeats that nothing’s normal, and talks again about the quiet… not the absence of all sound but the absence of the specific noise of people, of cars. She compares it to the days after 9/11 when air traffic was grounded and there was a noise that was suddenly gone.

She confesses that she’s standing next to the car, and that the truth is she never learned to drive because she’s “too fucking scared of it”. She describes being afraid of being in control of a giant pile of moving metal while surrounded by other people in their giant piles of moving metal and not knowing what any of them are going to do with theirs, but also admits that mostly, she doesn’t trust herself to be in charge of a giant pile of moving metal.

(That relatable content.)

She tells us about her nightmares of driving, her previous attempts to drive, and it’s clear that she feels both defensiveness and shame over her inability. She beats herself up a bit over not having climbed into the car yesterday, the day when she was not in control of anything. “That would have been the smart thing to do.” Drive to her wife’s work, drive until she found somebody…

It doesn’t necessarily make logical sense, but she’s not dealing with logic, or with a logical situation. She is right that if the situation persists she’ll need to get into the car at some point, if only because she’ll run out of supplies otherwise, which means working her way through the issues that are stopping her.

Nothing’s the shape it was before. It’s like all those nightmares. Nothing’s in control, nothing’s the right shape, I’m driving from the passenger seat and I can’t change that. I guess.

And… one truth leads to another, and I’m scared. I’m scared of driving, but I’m scared of a lot more than that.

In my analysis of the first interlude, I talked about the Interlocutor as a different character than the Narrator, though I said they’re describing the same life. “I’m scared of everything,” she confesses, “and I’ve been scared of everything for a very long time.” The fear is one of the most prominent commonalities, but they talk about it in very different ways.

The Narrator is afraid of her fear, and afraid of what people will think about it, if they know how afraid she is of cars, of phones, of being alone (but also of all the things that could help her not be alone). The Interlocutor mostly sounds tired of her fear, fed up with it and with what she imagines other people think of it.

She talks about how she’s been alone physically most of the time for a long time, living as a virtual shut-in except for walks, and talking to people on social media. (Again, that relatable content.)… and how when she couldn’t reach anybody the day before, that was her being alone.

I didn’t even know the name of my neighbors’ dog. I didn’t even really know the name of my neighbors.

Incidentally, I related so strongly to this part of the story that it became fodder for a short story up at my Patreon. It’s a very personal story, though the isolation in it would only be possible if I lived alone.

It’s interesting. The Narrator doesn’t live alone, but I feel like by this point in we’ve learned more about her wife through the eyes of the Interlocutor. She’s used to waking up alone. I haven’t been listening for it but I don’t think, ~24 hours after she first woke up, we’ve heard her say that she misses her or wishes that she in particular were there. She speaks of everyone being gone, of where everyone is.

And this is an observation, not a fault against the narrative. The emotional reality of GONE is just so vivid. It works well for me. There’s a lot going on, a lot for the narrator to process. And who is to say what is a normal response to an unfathomable situation? We know what would happen in stories because it happens in stories. But the Narrator has noted that she doesn’t have any story to prepare her for this.

But whatever it means or doesn’t mean, she has been alone for a while, she says, and she’s started to wonder what anybody in a situation like this might: what if she’s dead, and this is hell, “and hell is just more of what was true anyway?”

I’m ridiculous. I’m just a ridiculous human being.

One of the rawest parts of GONE is the narrator’s self-talk.

She does talk her way through an epiphany: that she’s recording things, talking to the recorder, because she needs to talk to somebody else to process what’s real, even if the other person isn’t real.

I feel real. I have a voice. I’m here. So I’m going to indulge that stupid impulse, and I’m going to record whatever I want. Whenever I want to. I’m going to talk to nobody. And that’s going to be how I know that it’s real.

She then announces, almost but not quite cheerily, that she’s going to break into some houses and save some animals, and “maybe find some kind of answer.”

The recording picks back up five or so houses in, where she’s found a couple of dogs and a cat. She’s freed the cat on its own recognizance because it’s hard enough to wrangle dogs. She turned on the recorder not just to give us a status update on her plans, though, but to note the unexpected, the things not planned for.

She didn’t think about it until after she was doing it, but she’s been breaking into houses even without animals in them, just to see what was there. And now she’s in a child’s bedroom, which she identifies as a boy’s on the basis of the dinosaurs and Power Rangers… before chuckling and noting that it reminds her of her own room growing up.

The Narrator talks about her mother having bought her all that stuff, “and then she was all surprised when I married a woman.” Maybe more than just surprised, because, the Narrator notes, choking up a little, they hadn’t spoken since then. She tried calling her the day before, when she was trying to reach anybody, but couldn’t even say if the number she had was current.

I haven’t kept up with her because I haven’t wanted to talk to her. She doesn’t have anything to say to me, I don’t have anything to say to her… but… I was kind of hoping that she would be there.

And she wasn’t.

And it’s ridiculous, but that actually in some ways, it hurt the worst.

The Narrator goes on to refer to her mother as her only family, or her only close family, or the only family she considers close. Which since I’m thinking about the fact that she hasn’t said much about her wife yet sticks out in my head as an odd thing to say, since she’s married.

Buuuuuut I say this as someone who has hurt people’s feelings by using words like “family” that have more than one meaning under the assumption that everybody listening would know that it has multiple meanings and understand from the context I meant “immediate birth family”. Which is probably why I didn’t twig to this the first time around. I’ll say “my family” and mean the people I share a last name and genes with in one context and “my family” and mean the people I live with in another and use “my family” to mean the overarching umbrella that encompasses both groups and more in yet another context…

If we want to talk about meta, I mean, we could hypothesize that the author isn’t ready to tell us about the Narrator’s wife yet. It’s also possible that they hadn’t worked out everything yet. There are any number of possibilities, none of which are that interesting to the question of what is in the text and what does it mean. I throw these examples out here literally just to throw them out, as in dispose of them.

The reason something did or did not make it into the corpus of the story does not change what is in the corpus, and within the body of the story, within its world, the narrator is at the moment more broken up about not being to reach her estranged, apparently bigoted mother than she is about not knowing what happened to her own wife and that’s interesting.

It’s not necessarily revealing, not of the most obvious conclusion. We know she’s afraid of, in her own words, everything. We know she does not like to look at the ideas that scare her the most. We know she has considered, but only under extreme stress, that being GONE so completely might be indistinguishable from being dead. So maybe she’s more easily able to face the possible implications of that her mother that she’s already said goodbye to is all the way GONE than she is able to consider that for her wife.

But it’s interesting, either way.

Especially in light of the interludes.

And the way she talked about having been alone, physically, for a long time and having used the internet for social contact.

Okay, but here’s something that I’ve noticed, in all the houses I’ve been in. And it’s especially noticeable here…

In every room of every house—even in the kid’s room—the Narrator has noticed that everything is neat. Everything is put away. Beds made, dishes washed and put away. Nothing half started. Nothing half finished. The inside of the houses matches the world outside.

It’s all been reset.

It’s like everybody just tidied up, and got everything in its place, and then they just walked away. It feels like… this doesn’t make sense, but nothing makes any sense… it feels like this was intentional. It feels like this was planned.

And that’s impossible.

The intentionality of the situation, the deliberateness, the designedness, of the situation is something that just keeps ramping up along with the weirdness. In fact, the weirder things get, the more artificial they seem.

Now, this might be illusory. The illusion of design is behind a lot of conspiracy theories, after all. The pattern of coin tosses that goes heads-tails-heads-tails-heads is no more or less likely to arrive through random chance than heads-heads-heads-heads-heads, nor of heads-heads-tails-heads-heads, even though intuitively the messier third string seems more ~*random*~ to us than the other two, and the one that’s the same result five times seems less so.

Any arbitrary sequence of coin tosses has the same likelihood as any other arbitrary sequence of the same length, all other factors being equal. That the weirdness seems designed does not mean it is. We don’t know what rules govern weirdness. Maybe things unfold this way because they’re the way they have to unfold. Maybe things happen in ways that seem significant because the Narrator herself is affecting them through her perception. We don’t know.

But I agree with the Narrator on both scores: this does feel planned, and it is impossible.

It’s not possible that everybody in the world would have planned this together and then gone off somewhere, on foot, without her noticing. Which, again, is why I think that whatever happened, happened to her.

As I’m listening to this again, I’m hearing the Narrator describe the layer of dust that’s inexplicably settled over everything, a couple of weeks’ worth, and I’m having a very disturbing thought. The dust that gathers inside our houses gathers very specifically inside our houses, because it has a particular source: us. It’s mostly biological material. You get dust in abandoned places, too, but it’s different dust.

If this were an episode of Doctor Who, featuring a world where the people disappeared not even two days ago but every house has gained a coating of dust that can’t be accounted for by two days, it would almost certainly turn out that the dust was what was left of the people who’d lived there.

I don’t think this is that kind of story. I don’t think that’s what happened to the people. Because I don’t think they tidied up and then fell into evenly distributed clouds of dust. I don’t think they tidied up at all.

But I’m getting ahead. Spoilers!

The dust is there, in every room of every house. They are tidy, but they aren’t clean.

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t have any idea how to interpret this. But I know what I’m seeing. And I know I’m really seeing it. I have to believe that I’m really seeing it.

And now the weather: it’s still foggy outside. It’s early afternoon, the fog has never lifted, it’s not clouded over, but things are “fuzzy”. The Narrator announces she wants to get through the houses in the neighborhood before dark, and that she’s not going to be outside after dark and she’s not thinking about 12:01. That’s filed under the heading of “deal with it when it happens”.

The recording goes off, and when it comes back we’ve got our night sounds again. The Narrator starts to give us a time stamp, then makes the deliberate decision not to look at the clock.

I’m just gonna let it be whatever time it is. I know it’s near midnight, and I’m not gonna count down, I’m just gonna wait.

And I’m gonna see what happens.

She tells us that she’s found a couple more dogs, bringing the grand total of canine companions to five. She didn’t get to every house in the neighborhood, but she has hopes of hitting more tomorrow. She relaxes a bit when she’s talking about this, in the sense of the edge of anxiety leaving her voice and being replaced with purpose.

She doesn’t know what to do about the world or 12:01 or the missing people or herself, but she has a Plan. She knows how to take care of the dogs. Tending to them is a matter of psychological survival for her, but her psychological survival also requires her to sharply limit her sense of responsibility to that which is within her reach. Her anxiety starts to edge back in when she starts talking about all the houses out there, with all the pets she couldn’t possibly reach in time to help, even if she does, as she puts it, “suck it up and get in the car”.

For now: she’s got the dogs, she’s got their food, and they seem okay, “considerably more okay” than she is. If this were a slightly different sort of story, this would probably be about where the episode ended. If it were just like apocalypse blogging, some weird prepper fantasy, that would be it.

In the early 2000s I read a lot of people’s version of cozy catastrophe stories where the zombie apocalypse or some other disaster was basically an excuse for the author’s self-insert to live their best life and turn the ruins of civilization into their ball pit. I never found those stories very interesting to read, though I understood the diversion posed by imagining them.

This isn’t at all that type of story, and there’s a good 12 minutes left in the episode when the Narrator tells us she’s done for the day.

She knows that 12:01 is coming again and she finds it reasonable to assume that something similar will happen when it does.

To pass the time while she’s very studiously not counting down the minutes until midnight, the Narrator tells us about some old files she found while thinking about the past. In order to help her date where they’re from and give us context, she winds up for the first time really talking about her wife, whom she says she met “four or five months” before they got married.

She beats herself up a little bit over not knowing the exact date, which, again, presents an interesting picture, especially coupled with the very short courtship. She tells us that her wife’s salary gives her the luxury of being a stay-at-home wife, but her job is that she writes scripts and concepts for video games.

She relates that she had been working on a game, or had finished work on it, when she met her wife (hence the significance of the date; they’ve been married for about five years and met about five months earlier), and she had been kicking around ideas for a sequel with the dev team.

She describes an indie game with a small but loyal following, coherent enough to have a fan community with the attendant art and fic, and it was through this community that she met her wife.

And here we start hearing about her wife in earnest. They bonded over geek culture: Neil Gaiman, X-Files, Star Wars, “pretty much all the stereotypical geek shit”.

Even with these revelations, the wife remains very much a cipher. We know that she liked stuff the Narrator liked, stuff that by the Narrator’s own admission is stuff a lot of geeks like.

We do know, or can at least infer, something else, something that it feels like the person telling us the story missed: she was a fan. Of her, specifically. Her work. They never talked about the game, but maybe it felt like connecting at least with a minor celebrity.

In the preceding interlude, the Interlocutor talked like her wife must have despised her. Who knows what the basis for that observation was… but realizing that they met in a fan community for a game that she wrote—and that the first shared interest mentioned was a writer, a storyteller—it does seem like she must at least have been a little awed by her?

That is all assuming that the Narrator’s perspective on this is reliable, that the meeting was everything it seemed to be. I don’t want to go too deeply down the rabbit hole, but when you think of the situation she’s in as being planned, as being designed… when did the plan start?

I’m going with the early relationship being genuine, as genuine as early relationships can be, unless and until there’s proof otherwise. Like the Narrator says: we have to trust that we’re seeing what we’re seeing.

It takes several times circling around the field before the Narrator is really ready to open up about her wife, but when she does, she comes close to gushing, apologizing for the cliche of it all: she found someone she could talk to.

I felt like we really were on the same wavelength, there was a lot of stuff I didn’t even have to say. Then we got together in person, it turned out she wasn’t that far away from me…

Hmm. Okay. Maybe I should put a pin in that “designed from the start” idea.

Though, again, randomness can look like design. If this fan community member had been on the same wavelength but not conveniently close to our non-driving protagonist, they might not be together. The fact that they were close geographically made it more likely, not less, that they’d get together.

And she’s so fucking smart, and she’s so talented, and she can talk for fucking ever about just about anything because her knowledge base is immense, and… I love her, and I really fucking miss her, and I’m trying not to… worry.

About what actually might have happened to her.

And there it is. That does make sense. And it’s consistent with the Narrator’s psychological operating parameters as we’ve seen them. She returns to her statement that she was physically alone a lot of the time, but says that she’s never alone with her wife, that her wife comes home to her and she’s reliable.

And, reader, it makes so much sense… but still I worry. I worry that there’s more going on there. More to the loneliness. More to the need. I don’t know. I just think there’s more than one thing going on. Maybe it’s my cynicism and inability to rely on anyone the way the Narrator relies on her wife. Maybe it’s the interludes. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m looking for a villain in a story that so far only has one person in it. I don’t know.

The Narrator then returns to the subject that go her onto this tangent, before she opened up about the most important relationship now missing from her life: the game she was working on.

She describes it as being a horror/thriller game, “like a cross between Alan Wake and Silent Hill”. It sounds a lot, though not exactly, like her situation: a guy phases in and out of another world where everybody is gone and it’s just him, in a growing darkness where lights become less effective as time goes on.

I don’t know what it means that it would be so similar.

This is where the Narrator breaks down and reveals she’s on a lot more medications than the ones she mentioned earlier, “mostly for anxiety”. She says she’s never had a psychotic break and doesn’t think the meds she’s taking should be able to cause one, but having noticed the similarities between a creative work she designed and the strange circumstances in which she’s found herself, this is where her thoughts are trending.

I’ve been emphasizing the idea that I have to trust what I’m seeing. but… I have to accept the possibility that I really can’t trust what I’m seeing. I have to accept the possibility that none of this is happening.

Real psychological terror: recognizing that you might not, in fact, be trapped in a nightmarish hellscape and knowing that your situation isn’t one iota improved if this is so.

Of the things that frighten me, not being able to trust my own perception is probably the biggest thing. It’s the thing I’ve always been most afraid of.

She makes a promise to herself that when the 12:01 sound comes, she’s not going to freak out, not going to knock anything to the floor, just sit, wait, and see what happens. She’s going to record it as it happens so she can listen to it, not because she expects to learn anything from it but because it’s something to do. It’s a Plan.

She also resolves to describe it as it’s happening, to try to capture the more ephemeral qualities, the things the recorder can’t pick up and the things she can’t properly remember after the fact, but knows she experienced. She likens it to a dream in that way.

Having so resolved, she finds herself at a loose end, waiting for the inevitable to arrive.

How are you doing? How’s your day going?

The plan to describe the indescribable sound seems to go sideways almost immediately, as the Narrator tries and fails to find the words several times. She repeats the description she had of the fog-bound world outside: fuzzy, then corrects herself. It’s not fuzzy. Things are folding back, folding back, and she can’t…

Then the sound is gone, and we’ve got that weird cyclical distortion in the background again that marks the world of darkness that follows the reset. The flashlight seems to take a few tries to click on. She chuckles and chalks that up to the batteries, though I the listener am thinking about her own description of the video game mechanic where lights became less reliable.

Her self-inventory: she’s fine, but not fine. But, you know. Fine. She starts to say that everything in the room looks okay, but then she realizes that something is wrong, and she can’t quite describe it. What she’s looking at looks normal, but out of the corner of her eye, there’s “a shimmer”.

It’s almost imperceptible, but it is… I swear to God it’s there.

She also notices that the crickets have stopped, and doesn’t remember if it happened last time. (But I do, and it did.) More collected and in a note-taking mood, she also notices that noise, presumably the background distortion, and wonders what the hell it is.

The crickets come back with less than two minutes to go in the episode. There’s a sharp breath, rather than the jump-scare-yelp of the previous night’s transition. The Narrator confirms that the lights are back, and announces she’s going to take a minute to process what just happened. We hear the flashlight click off.

Whatever that was, it affected everything. I felt it. Really deep.

And… and it was… it was visual. I did see something.

And… there was the sound, of course, but like I said, it was a lot more than the sound.

And everything reset.

This is not the first time the word has presented itself to the Narrator, and she wonders where it’s coming from. Then something hits her.

The capsule description for this episode notes that there’s always something more to lose. The opening act teased it, when she realized that she couldn’t hear Goober crying.

Oh my God. They’re gone. They’re just fucking gone.

The episode ends there. There wasn’t a long search, but it’s not just one dog this time, and I think we can infer that there’s no way five dogs all found a perfect hiding space to scatter to during the reset sound.

There’s more I have to say about that, but the next episode feels like the more natural place for it, so I’ll save it for then.