Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn
It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead. People feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals and mournful obituaries, and there they stand, looking out the window, sound and well in some new disguise.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Jeffrey C. Halcomb / I-881978
Lambert Correctional Facility, Rainier Unit
Lambert, Washington 99372
Mr. Lucas Graham,
I will spare us both the embarrassment of a formal introduction. You’re an intrepid fellow, and as such, have likely already deduced by both postmark and return address who I am and where I currently reside. But as you are a writer and I’m a lover of literature, I’ll do us the favor of setting the scene. Picture a seven-by-ten cell, bare walls, a springless mattress flattened thin, and your book, Bloodthirsty Times, resting askew atop a gray wool blanket. The first time I read your book, I did so with pleasure. The second time, I did so with intent.
You see, Mr. Graham—Lucas, Lou—I’ve been sitting in this concrete box since 1983. A true-crime writer of your caliber knows the date and the facts; but as you know, facts and details aren’t one and the same. The media relayed the story, but what they fail to acknowledge is that this story, my story, is one that has yet to be told. Because how do you tell a story when the key players are missing? How do you tell it when I, the protagonist, have refused to speak?
Oh, there have been attempts to retrace the footsteps of my past, of my family, of the crime I’ve been accused of committing. But they were all clumsy, halfhearted attempts at an unknown truth that I refused to share.
I’ve kept my silence well, Lou. But silence can be weary. I’ve grown tired of it. And since I’ve taken a liking to your method, your style, your ability to bring the past to life—to resurrect it, if you will—I’m inspired. It’s time to tell my story, the real story of what happened the day my freedom came to an end, and I want you to tell it, Lou. Honestly, I’m a fan of yours, and the pleasure would be mine.
Therefore, my terms: I will grant you however many interviews you wish, but all communication will have to be done in person. I will break my vow of silence in exchange for a single insistence: you take up residence at 101 Montlake Road in Pier Pointe, Washington. Surely you know the address? The scene of the crime? It’s for rent, Lou, and I doubt there are many clamoring for the key. You want my story, you live in my house.
One other thing: you need to do all of this within four weeks of the postmark on the envelope you now hold. I won’t reveal the significance of the date or deadline, so please don’t ask. If you are willing to accommodate me, you can phone the prison and let them know you’d like to chat. I’ll arrange the rest.
I’m looking forward to meeting you, Lou, and anxious to finally tell my story the way it has yet to be told. I’m sure the details of that day will suit your career well.
The clock is ticking. Are you quick enough to outrace time?
Ever a fan,
Jeffrey C. Halcomb
CONGRESSMAN SNOW’S DAUGHTER DEAD
Murdered In Ritualistic Fashion
By Jefferson Boone, The Seattle Times staff reporter March 15, 1983—Audra Snow, the daughter of Washington State congressman Terrance “Terry” Snow, was found dead in her Pier Pointe, Washington, home yesterday. Police walked in on what Officer Nathan Gilcrest of the Pier Pointe Police Department described as “something out of a horror movie, like nothing I’ve ever seen.” Ms. Snow’s assailant, who has yet to be named, was apprehended at the scene. Police say that the killing appeared ritualistic in nature. Cult activity is strongly suspected, but an official report has yet to be made.
Ten Dead, One Caught
Ms. Snow was not the only victim at the scene. The bodies of eight other individuals were found, arranged in a circle with Ms. Snow at the center. Ms. Snow’s unborn child was also not spared. Police suspect suicide on the part of the eight currently unidentified victims, but are awaiting autopsy and toxicology reports. Ms. Snow was living in her father’s Pier Pointe home on a permanent basis. When questioned about the identity of Ms. Snow’s assailant, the congressman insisted his daughter lived alone and did not mention anyone that fit the assailant’s description. When asked if Ms. Snow was involved in any cult activity, Congressman Snow declined to comment.
Unspeakable Magnitude Police report that they walked in on what they believe was an in-process ritual killing. The assailant—a dark-haired man in his late twenties or early thirties—had Ms. Snow draped over one knee. A large kitchen knife was found near Ms. Snow’s body. “We didn’t realize she was pregnant until we saw what [the assailant] was holding,” Officer Gilcrest recalls. “When we discovered it was a baby, that’s when the magnitude of it really hit home.” Ms. Snow’s child—a girl—was not breathing when officers arrived. Pier Pointe coroner Samuel Rays reports that the infant was full-term at the time of its passing.
A Search For Answers