I’m a student at Bridgewater State in Massachusetts. I share a dorm with my roommate, Wallace. We both major in computer science, and that’s all we’ve ever talked about on the rare occasions that we actually speak to one another. We don’t have much else in the way of common ground.
You see, Wallace is an odd guy. He’s very socially awkward and doesn’t have many friends, if any at all. I’ve only ever seen him talking to his professors, and one time, the janitor. It’s safe to say that Wallace is a recluse. Because of this, I don’t know much about him. I would love for the guy to open up more, but I’m not sure how to go about doing that. Besides, I have enough on my plate as it is between exams and the struggle of day-to-day finances. As cliche as it might sound, Ramen is a popular meal on campus.
Another one of Wallace’s quirks is his obsessive compulsive nature. He conducts himself in a very specific manner and has his daily routine mapped out to a tee. It never changes. When he wakes up, he brushes his teeth, making sure to gargle and spit exactly three times. He then puts on a striped shirt followed by khaki pants. His wardrobe never changes. He always arrives to class five minutes early and turns in his assignments a day before they are due. This is how it’s always been.
How do I know all of this? Well, being a socially awkward hermit, Wallace didn’t tell me these things. I don’t think he’s even aware that his routine is a byproduct of OCD (I’m not claiming to know exactly what causes Wallace’s actions, but I do minor in psychology). It’s just something I’ve picked up on during the two years I’ve lived with the guy. It’s almost impossible not to notice.
Knowing Wallace’s usual behavioral patterns, I noticed that something wasn’t right. He began sleeping in his clothes, not brushing his teeth, and not passing in his assignments on time. Eventually, he stopped sleeping in our dorm all together. After over a day of not seeing him, things started looking grim.
Despite not knowing Wallace all that well, I became worried. Depression and suicide rates are at an all time high for our age group. I didn’t want the poor guy to do something stupid. That worry justified me hacking into his laptop to see what he’d been up to. It was the only thing I could think to do.
In finding his laptop and turning it on, I felt like a fool. The thing was as clean as a whistle, at least to my eyes. You see, though I pride myself in my tech know-how, Wallace is far more adept in the field. It was safe to say that I wouldn’t find a shred of evidence as to where he might be, or what he’d been doing. No journal entries, no browsing history, no nothing.
Feeling anxious, I thought about any other potential ways to continue my hunt for the truth. That’s when something clicked. Like I said before, I sometimes saw Wallace talking to the janitor in the halls. He was the only person I had ever seen him speak with at length. It was possible that he would know something about Wallace’s state of affairs.
Later that night, I exited my dorm and wandered the halls. Eventually I found Chuck, the janitor. I tried to be gentle when confronting him, as he had his back to me and was known to be hard of hearing. Still, when I tapped him on the shoulder, he jumped.
“Holy cheese balls, you nearly scared me half to death!”
Chuck laughed through his bushy, gray mustache.
“What can I do for you, son?”
I told Chuck about my predicament and how I was concerned for Wallace, having not seen him in a while. Chuck’s happy expression transformed into a look of unease and tension. He seemed to know a bit more than I did.
“Well, here’s the thing. Wallace is a good kid and we do chat from time to time. I happen to know where he might be, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable blurting out the details of his social life to anyone who asked, even if you are his roommate.”
Social life? Wallace didn’t have a social life. I pressured Chuck into letting me in on the secret. I really laid it on thick, expressing a great deal of concern for Wallace’s well-being. Being the nice, old janitor that Chuck is, he eventually gave in.
“Okay, okay. I understand. Just please don’t tell him that I told ya, okay?”
I nodded, eagerly awaiting for him to reveal Wallace’s whereabouts.
“Wallace has been feeling really down lately. He’s got no one to talk to but me. The kid wanted some friends. People that he could hang out with and talk to, ya know?”
I listened closely for the details I so desperately sought after.
“So, Wallace went on something he called… oh what was it… the deep web? On there he found a group of people. They called themselves the ‘Clan of the Red Wolf’ or something like that. Tthey invited him to one of their meetings. That’s probably where he is right now. He seemed pretty excited when he told me about it. In fact, it’s all he’s been talkin’ about for the past week.”
There. That was it. That was the bit of info I needed. The key to finding Wallace.
I thanked Chuck and gave him a goodnight wave as I ran back to my dorm room. From the sounds of it, Wallace got himself involved with another group of people who share in his interests and eventually they invited him to hang out in real life. I had their quirky name –“The Clan of the Red Wolf”, and that’s all I needed to find them on the deep web myself. Soon enough, I would be able to find my missing roommate.
It took quite a while, but I finally managed to find a deep web forum pertaining to the so called Clan. It contained nothing but a description and a series of videos. Here is the description as it appeared on the site:
Welcome to your new belief system!
We are the Clan of the Red Wolf, and we’re here to help! There are seven educational videos on this site, each tailored to a specific belief that we want to share with you. You are asked to watch these programs to understand our doctrine. If you make it to the last one, you will be invited into our den! Good luck!
The summary was bizarre, but nothing less than what I’d expected. Scrolling further, I noticed that all of the videos were titled similarly – “Day One”, “Day Two”, and so on. Naturally, I watched them.
The whole series reminded me of old war propaganda. It was made in the style of a vintage cartoon, starring a wolf as the main focus. Not a normal wolf, but a cartoon caricature version of one. Picture a character similar to Wile E. Coyote.
In each video, the wolf learned a new Clan value from the campy, male narrator. Not unlike old cartoons, the wolf comically goes against the narrator’s wishes and suffers the consequences before learning his lesson. Every video ends with the narrator saying, “Join the pack. You never have to feel alone again!” I guessed that was the selling point for lonely Wallace.
I will share with you a bit of the transcript from each video along with any points of interest.
VIDEO ONE: Wildlife
“Treat flora and fauna with dignity and respect. They’re people too! Trees provide you with the air you breathe and animals share the earth with you, keeping you from being alone! They deserve more than you ever will!”
*Wolf relieves himself on tree. Tree falls on top of him, crushing his head and revealing the blood and brain matter inside*
VIDEO TWO: Thicker Than Blood
“Your blood is the most important material in your earthly vessel! The Clan requires a sample upon joining our order. This is a requirement for all pledges. Our blood must flow as one for us to work together and save the planet!”
*Wolf enters a room full of cloaked figures – presumably Clan members. All members are in line, giving blood samples. The Wolf refuses to have his blood drawn and walks away. A cloaked figure sneaks up on him and slices his throat with a dagger. Video focuses on the wolf bleeding out for a few moments before fading to black*
VIDEO THREE: Obey or Suffer
“Remember what happened to our friend when he didn’t give his blood to the cause? He didn’t obey our order’s rules, so he had to suffer the consequences. Remember, the Clan’s laws are important. You must obey or perish. Trust me, it’s worth it!”
*Shows the wolf bleeding out again, only now a few cloaked figures are on top of him, stabbing his corpse repeatedly*
VIDEO FOUR: Vow of Secrecy
“The Clan of the Red Wolf is often misunderstood. Because of this, it is important to never tell anyone of our existence, under any circumstances! You may only speak about Clan activity with other Clan members. Break this rule and you will perish!”
*Wolf is shown talking to his wolf pals and showing them his new cloak. A cloaked figure walks in frame with what looks like a semi-automatic weapon and opens fire. The wolves fall to the ground, dead. The cloaked figure gives a thumbs up before the video ends*
VIDEO FIVE: Learn and Understand
“If you’re allowed into our inner sanctum, you will be greeted with knowledge! We abide by the word of the Red Wolf and you will too! You will be expected to learn and understand his teachings, otherwise you will fail – not only the Clan, but the entire world.”
*Wolf is seen in a classroom environment taking a test of some sort. He turns it in to a cloaked teacher and receives an F. The entire class points and laughs at him and then pulls out a plethora of medieval weaponry from their robes. They then proceed to close in on the wolf. The wolf swallows the lump in his throat before the video ends*
VIDEO SIX: Tasks and Rituals
“As a new recruit, you will be asked to carry out various tasks ranging from the mundane to the fantastic. Most of these missions will involve fetching ingredients for our rituals. As boring as that may sound, it is the most important thing you can ever do for the Clan! Rituals are what give the Clan power. Without this power, we cannot hope to rid the world of what plagues it.”
*Wolf fails to bring ingredients to Clan member for ritual. Jump cut to wolf being sacrificed on a black altar atop a pentagram, carved into the floor. He is beaten, cut open, and eventually torn apart by his fellow Clansmen*
VIDEO SEVEN: Mortals
“When accepted as a full fledged clan member, you are no longer considered ‘human’. You will be one of us. From that point forward, you are discouraged from any and all human interaction, unless it is deemed necessary to the cause. Humans are vile, filthy, disgusting, and dangerous creatures. We seek to exterminate them once and for all. Any human who knows of our existence and isn’t deemed worthy enough to join must be killed. Nature is your only friend.”
*Wolf is walking down a ‘main street’-like environment and can be seen waving to everyone he sees. He comes upon a Clan member who then pierces his gut with a long blade and tosses him aside in the road where he is then run over by numerous cars*
The content of the videos was incredibly jarring. I almost couldn’t believe that such a cult could actually exist, let alone that Wallace would join them. He must have really been lonely.
The last video exited with the same “Join the pack” spiel and then faded out to a screen with a series of numbers. I assumed this was my invitation into the “den,” perhaps an encrypted set of coordinates leading to the Clan’s lair. That, I thought, must have been where Wallace had gone.
I wrote down the code and immediately started doing some research to begin cracking it. Just as I was in the thick of things, something hit me. One of the videos stated that you couldn’t talk to anyone about the Clan under any circumstances. But Wallace talked to Chuck. That didn’t make any sense. Wallace was a stickler for rules.
Another fact hit me. The video stated that you could only talk about Clan activity with other Clan members. What if Chuck was one of them? Chuck could be stationed at the college to recruit members and he simply nudged Wallace in the right direction. He could have been playing dumb with me when I questioned him.
So either Chuck was a Clansman or Wallace broke a cardinal rule. Neither theory held much water. If Chuck was a member, then why would he have told me anything without either recruiting or killing me? And if Wallace was so eager to be accepted into a strict cult, then why would he disobey their wishes? I couldn’t make much sense of either angle.
I eventually gave in to the notion that perhaps Wallace simply disregarded the rules in lieu of his excitement. He was finally going to have friends, so he had to tell someone. This didn’t completely sit well with me, but I had to get back to cracking the code. I didn’t have time to dwell on uncertainties.
Just then, there was a knock at my dorm room door, followed by a voice.
“It’s Chuck, the janitor! I’m here to tidy up your room.”
Chuck never cleaned dorm rooms…
…that wasn’t part of his job.
“I’m all set!” I yelled, hoping he would leave me be.
The knocking ceased. There was a long stretch of silence followed by a soft, metallic creak.
The doorknob was turning.
CREDIT: Christopher Maxim
(Click HERE to check out Christopher Maxim’s book, How To Exit Your Body and Other Strange Tales)
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