Statement of Chloe Ashburt, regarding a new window display at Fanton’s department store in Hammersmith.
Chloe Ashburt works in a large department store called Fanton's which is putting her through Art School. She enjoyed getting involved in the displays in the windows and shop floors and her line manager, Lana, usually allowed her to do so.
One of the displays that Chloe worked on was for the autumn collection with the theme 'Nights at the Circus', which included various mannequins, one dressed up as a ring mistress in a bright red top hat and whip. Chloe was interested in figure drawing and Lana would allow her to stay late and draw the mannequins. When the Circus displays went up, Chloe spent many evenings drawing them.
When Chloe came into work one morning she discovered that the ring mistress mannequin had been replaced with another, almost identical, mannequin. It had longer arms, a more twisted neck and a crack by its forehead. None of her colleagues recognised it, however. It did not fit with the other mannequins and Chloe always felt like it was watching her.
Lana called Chloe into her office one morning, asking if she had been involved in any other artistic pursuits. Chloe said that she had stayed late to draw. When asked, Chloe confirmed that she hadn't seen anyone last night, nor had she moved anything. Lana showed her some photos of one of the autumn displays.
The mannequin had been reassembled, torso upside down and arms jutting out of its pelvis, holding its head up which had a bright red pompom glued to the top. It had been dressed in red and purple pajamas and had a crude smile painted on its face. It reminded Chloe of a clown. Lana believed that Chloe was not involved but said that someone who worked for Fanton's must be involved as they had avoided any security cameras.
Lana started a rotation for people who would close up the shop. Chloe noticed that those who closed up were jumpy the next day. After a few weeks, Lana had to close up herself: Jan had a doctor's appointment and Lee had a family emergency. Chloe convinced Lana to let her stay with her when she closed up to do some quick drawings and her manager agreed.
Chloe went to get her drawing equipment and realized she could not hear Lana. She went to draw the ring mistress, but was greeted with an empty display, bar a torn wedge of papier-mache and a headless acrobat mannequin. She heard Lana calling to her in a way that made Chloe think she was being forced to do so. Chloe called 999 as she approached the store cupboard that Lana's voice was coming from. The lights did not work, and she could just see a tall, thin figure which moved jerkily towards her. Chloe's muscles seized up, and she dropped her phone as the mannequin pressed a plastic finger to her lips, whispering "Sshhh."
The next thing Chloe knew the police arrived who had found Lana's body. CCTV exonerated Chloe, and the only blood found on her was a single line traced down her lips. The police believed that a killer had been stalking Fanton's and fled when Chloe called the police.
John is finding it difficult to follow up on this case without the resources of the Magnus Institute. Lana had been strangled and partially skinned in the store cupboard of Fanton's. Jonathan was able to find a picture of the service entrance to the building, which was assumed to be used by the murderer, which showed a Breekon & Hope delivery van parked nearby.
Jonathan was not able to find much on Chloe, other than bringing an unfair dismissal case against a previous employer, claiming it was motivated by her dwarfism.
The ex-archivist is not sure who sent this statement: there are no revelations and he wonders if it is a message, that hiding will not bring any answers.
|ATTENTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!!|
This section contains information from later episodes of The Magnus Archives and may contain major spoilers for the setting and plot. Continue at your own risk.
- Related Entity: The Stranger