Well, February 22nd makes it one whole year. I think that's deserving of a top level post, right? Here are screenshots of the Mint Trends, which has every single expense from the past year categorized. I've added comments on each page. Expenses Overview Auto Expenses Food Expenses Home Expenses Utility Expenses Tax Expenses Healthcare Expenses Entertainment Expenses Main takeaways, my total expenses for the year was $37,700, but I'm going to dismiss about $15,000 of that as "one time" expenses from paying off my car and my furniture loan. A more reasonable number for my annual spend is $22,700. With my car payment gone, my highest expense category is Food, averaging $500 per month. This has room for improvement. Healthcare will look artificially low last year because of taking Tax Credits up front. This year I am not and will be paying $325 per month for health insurance. At ~$4000 per year, this puts healthcare at nearly 20% of my total expenses. Nothing else is particularly interesting. That $22,700 figure is a reasonable real-world number for me, but for future planning I'd still inflate that to $25,000 just to have more wiggle room. I may look into traveling this year, which would add some expense. Investments: Vanguard Investments: (All in VTSAX)
Traditional IRA: $299,000 -> $348,000
Roth IRA: $14,500 -> $18,150
Brokerage: $18,400 -> $22,900
Total Rollup: $331,800 -> $389,100. ~17% return
Other LTCG holdings: $145,000 -> $291,000 (other investment accounts and bitcoin) HSA Investment Account: $6000 -> $7400, with another $1700 in the "cash" holdings of the HSA. $9000 cash in Money Market & Checking Account. Finances Going Forward I had earned income last year so I didn't start my Roth Conversion Ladder last year. This year I decided I will be converting the $12,400 standard deduction + $9600 of the first tax bracket for a nice round $22,000 converted. Yes I'll owe a little bit of taxes, but it sets up my Roth with $22k in 5 years which should cover the majority of my expenses. And with $350k currently in tIRA and converting $22,000 per year, I won't be able to chew through it all before actual retirement age. I have about $20k from an old stock purchase plan that unlocks come April, which I will be selling and likely moving over to my money market account to shore up my "cash" holdings. My plan is to not really tap any of my "normal" investment accounts for as long as possible. I've been deferring to selling Bitcoin if I need to move some cash over. Last year I sold 3 bitcoin, one for $9300 in June, and then two at the end of December (for tax year Capital Gains reasons) for $7300 each. These were all LTCG at 0% taxed. AGI for last year is around $35,000. The Living Part: There's all the boring expenses and financial stuff. Now for the ever painful question that my beloved Grandmother loves to ask, "But gosh, what do you do with all of your time! I can't imagine being retired at your age!" Step 1, restful sleep. During my working career I lived off 6 hours of sleep every day. It made for exhausting weekends trying to "make it up." And luckily I'm not a generally stressful person or else it'd have been worse. But now I go to bed when I'm tired, and whenever I naturally wake up, I get up. This can lead to VERY weird hours since I'm often an extreme night owl. But I generally get 9-10 perfect restful uninterrupted dream-filled hours of sleep. I'm betrayed by my "Food Expense" breakdown, but I really am cooking more and eating better. I drink a lot of coffee and water at home and generally try to eat only one meal per day, but sometimes lunch and dinner. I don't normally eat breakfast, just have coffee when I wake up. And did I mention how much less painful it is to go grocery shopping when it's in the middle of the day and everyone's at work. It's so nice. I spend a lot of time on reddit browsing my front page, and I check out the YouTubers I follow that post daily, then check out any of the irregular posters. Depending on how much good stuff there is, this could go on for a few hours. I have a lot of hours playing video games. I tend toward puzzle games or building games (Factorio, Satisfactory) because they scratch that itch in my engineering brain. There are times at night where I'll spend hours on this website: https://www.puzzle-sudoku.com/ and play Sudoku or Nonograms or any of the other puzzle types on the bottom of the page. I'm doing my best to watch every single last show on Netflix. It's a daunting task, though it's surprising how often I drift back toward watching the same smattering of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes rather than try something new. But I try and take recommendations and work my way through shows. And Podcasts! The joy of joys is when I come across a new-to-me podcast that has a huge backlog. I found a great ST:TNG rewatch podcast that had 108 episodes already done. I spent like 2 months watching the episode of TNG then immediately listening to their podcast about that episode, repeat repeat repeat. I'm currently working my way through The Adventure Zone, I'm on episode 46 of 155 with them. And they keep advertising the other podcasts The McElroys do so I'm sure I'll roll into one of those next. For many people podcasts are background noise, but I'll often just sit on the couch and concentrate on just listening the podcast. Outside of home, I can't wait for the weather to get nicer so I can go on more walks. Being a night owl I like going for walks at night. I live near our city center so I'm within blocks of city hall, the main library branch, and the fountain / park. I jump at any opportunity to hang out with friends. It's just about every weekend that we are getting together to hang out and play board games. Like I mentioned in one of the breakdowns, I've started to play D&D with my buddy and his wife. I'd never played before but he's been DMing for years (but hasn't had a group for 10+ years now). He's glad to be playing again, his wife loves it, and it's super convenient for them to stay home with the 5 month old daughter. (And baby gets to hang out with Uncle Oracle.) I get together with former co-workers every few months to keep in touch with them. One in particular I have a standing every-2-month bar date with. I remind them every so often that if they want to go out to lunch ever to just call me. Personal History Just a quick personal history in closing. I was an automotive engineer working for OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers in the Metro Detroit area. In the 2008 downturn I lost my job and was unemployed for 2 years and ended up getting my house foreclosed in 2010. By the time i got a job in March of 2010 I was basically at $0. I had a tiny amount in an 401k, had about $20,000 in credit card debt from being unemployed. But then I got a very well paying engineering job ($108k annual and eligible for time-and-half overtime). I kept living like I was unemployed, spent as little as possible and saved as much as possible. Through my parents I secured a mortgage on a nice 1 Bed / 1 Bath 900 sq ft condo. I paid off my CC debt in less than a year and kept banking cash and maxing my 401k every year. I heard about bitcoin in early 2013 (from a guildmate in World of Warcraft, believe it or not) and jumped on board. All time bitcoin price chart (log scale) for those unfamiliar with the history. I got in before the first spike to $1000 in December of 2013, and kept buying throughout the downswing in 2014 / 2015. In 2017 I sold 5.6 BTC for a total of $6000 and paid off the last of my student loans and my car, then a few months later I sold 4.25 BTC for $6700 and paid off the last of my condo mortgage. So in May of 2017 I was officially debt free and had a net worth of about $200,000. Then in the fall of 2017 was when bitcoin exploded. I knew I had to take profits here. Every time the price went up 10% I sold another bitcoin. $7500, $9000, $10700, $13000, $15500, $18600. I sold all the way up. I ended up selling about $100,000 in bitcoin that year and I pushed most of it into my Roth IRA and Brokerage accounts. Then I really started thinking about FIRE in early 2018. Started doing the math, tried to see what my expenses would be, and thought I'd give it ago. I've told myself from day 1 that I'd give this trial a solid 2 years. If I don't feel good about it, or the money doesn't seem right, then I'll still only be 40 years old and could (IMO) easily jump right back into an engineering gig. So I targeted early 2019 so I could frontload my 401k for two months, grab the annual bonus, then peace out. TL:DR: 38, FIREd, Money's looking right, Life is feeling right, everything is fine
Behind The Scenes of How I Sold A Passive Income Site for $1,830.40
Hey guys, New to this subreddit, but I recently sold a very small affiliate site a couple months back for about $2,000 and wanted to share my experience. Although the sale wasn't HUGE, the process was very illuminating and interesting for future projects. It also reinforced that I should be focusing my efforts on higher leverage options. However, if you're new to entrepreneurship or online marketing, hopefully you find this helpful. Let me know if you have any questions. The other day I sold a passive income site I built 2 years ago for $1,830.40 with Empire Flippers. Here’s an in-depth look at how I went and sold my first website ever (and what I thought of the whole process).
A couple years back, I started a new web site (to protect the buyer’s privacy, let’s call it GWP.com). It was in the WordPress themes space. I had seen some success from other sites in the space and knew there was opportunity. I built the site quickly with the help of an AWESOME virtual assistant, but then had other projects come up that were more important. The site did well from the get-go because of my initial enthusiasm, but it wasn’t a game-changer for me. It made a few sales a month (off which I made about $30), but I did basically no work on it and it was very under-optimized. It was THE definition of a passive income site. That said, even if I optimized it, I think I could double or triple the earnings, but probably not enough to make it worth directing a lot of attention to it. The site was was making about $100/month, which for some people is great, but I had a lot of other areas in general that I could optimize that have greater returns (this site, for one). In addition to revenue reasons, over the last year, I’ve been working on focus, and I’ve made the decision that I don’t really want to be spending time on anything that isn’t Impossible or Paleo related. For that reason, this site no longer fit in with my goals and I decided to sell it.
Picking Empire Flippers
I used EmpireFlippers.com, who I know through the Dynamite Circle. Before listing, I had never met them, but they’ve got a good reputation and a decent buying audience, so I decided to give it a shot. I know several guys who have bought and sold sites through them. Also, because it wasn’t a HUGE dollar amount, I figured I would give it a try.
Empire Flippers charges $297 to list a site for a first time seller. They charge $97 for any future sites. That’s not a bad deal, especially on bigger sites (most brokers work on a percentage), but if you’re selling a small site (like I did), the fee actually cuts into your profit by a large number since it’s not a scaled percentage. Either way, I decided the listing fee was worth it and went full-speed ahead (Note: I found out about another “commission” fee later on in the process. More on that later).
The experience started off a bit bumpy. I did an analysis on the numbers and had to separate them out since these sites shared a few affiliate accounts I used for other projects. This is a good lesson for the future: create separate affiliate accounts for each site if you intend to sell them in the future. That said, I ran the numbers and provided a detailed breakdown in the spreadsheet. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough. They wanted a login directly to my affiliate account so they could verify the numbers themselves. This is understandable, but a little invasive if you have multiple sites running through the same account. Also, it would have been a much less of a big deal if they would have gotten the numbers right. Even after providing the numbers (on my end), the numbers they came up with were way off. In less words – for this sale specifically – ShareASale (the affiliate marketplace that I used for affiliate links) provides the total transaction amount AND the commission you actually make. The Empire Flippers VAs added these two numbers together instead of just counting the commission. This meant that for each sale I “made” through ShareASale, Empire was counting my total revenue on the site as 130% of the purchase price – even though I was only making 30% of the purchase price! Because of this, the initial estimate I got for the site was close to $8k! While I could have taken their valuation and kept the listing price at that, I have this darn conscience that would have bothered me for a while about it. I pointed out the error to the team and they re-ran the numbers and agreed to list the website at $1830.40 or about 20x monthly revenue. Here were the exact calculations: I gave them a login to my site, Google analytics, and ShareASale, and they approved my listing.
They approved the site for a 20x multiple. I pushed for a higher multiple, but they reminded me I was looking for a quick sale, so I agreed to go with 20x. The Sale The sale went up 1 day and was sold within 24 hours. That was fast! In fact, I went back to look and it sold just over 8 hours after it was listed. Getting it sold FAST was awesome, but it also reinforced my opinion that the listing price was too low. That said, I didn’t cry too much because again, my goal was on selling it fast rather than maximizing a few hundred bucks off it. I figured if I got the sale over and the cash quick, then it all would be good. The only other thing that bothered me about the listing was that I never got to see it before it went live. As a marketer, I would have liked to have been involved in the listing name, language, etc. I guess that’s part of their process (and maybe a benefit to people who don’t want to have to deal with it), but it bothered me a bit after the fact (although that could just be because of my inner control freak tendencies). Again, these were all minor things – I wanted to focus on my other projects – and the fact that they could get a buyer in less than 24 hours was impressive.
The Migration Process
Migration is where I had my biggest issues with the process.. First, I had to provide access to the Filipino techs to transfer my site. That’s okay, but I had other projects on the same host and it’s a bit nerve-wracking to give someone you’ve never met wholesale access to your hosting backend. The migration process took a bit (as they had to coordinate buyer and seller info), so I think this part took a few days. The other annoying thing was that as part of the migration, they had to verify and change what sorts of ad info and affiliate info you had. In my opinion, this should be solely on the part of the buyer. The seller sells the site as-is and the buyer should have to do the work to swap out ads. Empire Flippers tries to mitigate this by having their techs do it – but the end result is that it slows everything down for the seller. The other annoying piece was that I kept getting comments and questions that should have never come up
“This link doesn’t work”
“What banners perform best?”
These are good questions, but should have been figured out when the buyer was purchasing the site or did their due diligence – not after the sale has been entered into agreement. As for links that don’t work – they didn’t work when I sold the site and that’s part of the buyer’s opportunity. The site was under-optimized from the get-go and I hadn’t spent anytime looking at it. Changing that link is the reason you get it for 20x vs. 36x. Also, throughout the process, the migration ticket is handled on 1 ticket for both parties. That means each party can see what the other is typing. That makes it easier for Empire Flippers, but could be a security risk if 1 side provides passwords or other sensitive information in it.
This was the second annoying thing. It costs zero to create an account on any domain registrar. The best practice here would be to push the domain to whatever registrar it’s currently on, then let the buyer transfer it on their own time down the line. Domain “pushes” are instant on the same registrar, while a domain transfer (to a different registrar) can take anywhere from 3-10 days. Instead of doing a registrar push, the buyer insisted on a domain transfer which is a bunch more hoops that the seller has to jump through. They can fix this just by allowing the seller to push the domain to whatever registrar the domain is currently owned at. Waiting 5-10 days to see if a domain is transferred correctly is annoying and a waste of time as a seller.
Empire Flippers holds your money until the other party verifies traffic and sales. This is annoying as a seller. I understand why – they want to verify that they’re selling legit sites – but it’s VERY unfriendly to sellers. Here’s why: As a seller, you’re selling a site based on past performance – not future guarantees. In any site, technical changes affect SEO and performance. A seller shouldn’t be responsible for changes that the buyer could potentially jack up. The seller is on the hook for poor implementation by the buyer. Imagine if you wanted to buy a stock, but only had to pay if the stock went up? That’d be great as a buyer, but as a seller, there’s only downside. No other market does that. If something goes bad, the seller is screwed. The buyer I dealt with wanted it transferred to his specific domain manager. That’s cool but when you transfer registrars, you are automatically locked from moving that domain again – per iCANNs rules – for 60 days. This is very annoying.
This means that if the buyer screws things up – the seller is on the hook.
This means if the buyer doesn’t “verify” the earnings – the seller is on the hook.
This means that if the buyer for whatever reason doesn’t like the domain or website – the seller is on the hook AND can’t get back the domain for 60 days. So they’re out the sale, the domain AND 60 days of earnings (at the least). That’s a terrible policy.
I tried to put in a ticket on this, but the support team manually merged it into my transfer ticket (which let the buyer see it as well – which, again, is not what I intended) and is another problem with the shared transfer ticket.
Adding In A “Bonus” Site
Part of my deal with the listing was that I was going to throw in another WordPress theme related site (let’s call this one RT) to the buyer. It was a very similar site that did less traffic due to neglect – I hadn’t really done much with it. The site generated no revenue and had minimal traffic, so throwing in the domain was meant to boost interest in the sale. The problem came up (again) that the buyer wanted it transferred to a specific registrar and I was asked to do so. Again, this is a terrible policy. I was throwing in the domain and the site as a bonus, and it was a pain that it was taking even MORE of my time. The buyer ended up creating an account at the registrar the domain was at, which was nice, but that should be the standardized policy.
Surprise: A Commission Fee
I should preface this: this is MY fault. This is pretty standard in brokering situations, but (for some reason I still don’t know), I was under the impression that the listing fee was the only fee I was going to be responsible for. That said, once I was told how much I was getting paid ($1555.84), I was surprised to see the number lower than the sale price. After inquiring further, I only then realized the commission was on top of the listing fee. Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 4.16.30 PM I don’t know why I didn’t realize this (I think I was just focused on clearing house and had other things going on). I was so sure that the listing fee was the only fee, that I went back and looked and sure enough, they say it RIGHT ABOVE the button to “sell the site.” Proof Oops. Apparently, I’m not a good speed reader. While this is reasonable on larger sites, in total, between the listing fee and this, EF basically ended up eating 33% of my sale price which sucks. Again, this is in the terms and conditions and is MY fault, but it’d be cool to see a “profit calculator” or a notice of “this is how much you’ll sell for” and “this is how much you’ll get” earlier on in the buying process so bad speed readers like me don’t get surprised :( That said, let’s talk MONEY.
Getting Paid (Cash MONEY!) $$$
All right, the deal was done. The buyer was happy and everything was good to go. Email Not wanting to deal with Paypal, I opted for bitcoin. I’ve bought a few bitcoin in the past and didn’t mind stocking up on a few (just in case they go to a billion someday :)). After trying to haggle Paypal minus the fees – I settled on bitcoin. I got this message from Joe: At this point, I was antsy to get paid, so waiting a full week to get paid seemed like ANOTHER preventable delay. I know there’s a bit of volatility with the price of bitcoin, but I think they should probably carry some bitcoin as a cost of doing service in order to accelerate some of these smaller transactions). Nevertheless, on September 2nd, Joe sent $1,000 to my bitcoin address and sent the remainder on September 6th. Website Sold. Transaction finished. #boom
Vital Stats For This Website Sale
For those of you scanning this, I dug up some of the numbers for this sale in order to give a quick overview of everything. I think it’s pretty interesting:
Average Monthly Revenue: $91.52
Revenue Multiplier: 20x
Listed Price: $1,830.40
Profit after Commission: $1,555.84
Profit after Commission + Listing Fee: $1,258.84
% of Sale Price Profit Realized: 68.7% (ouch!)
Time from submission to listing: July 25th – August 17th = 23 days
Time from start of transaction to sale: August 17th: 11:07pm – August 18th, 7:15am = 8 hours, 8 minutes – WOAH.
Time from sale to $$$: August 18th – September 6th = 19 days.
Time from submission to $$$: 43 days (1 month, 12 days). #doubleboom
Lessons Learned From Selling My First Site
If you’re going to sell a site, separate earnings out by the account / website level This would have helped with the earnings numbers and verifications and cleaned things up from a security standpoint. I would have felt way more secure in sharing multiple accounts with them, and it would have sped up everything. Get all the terms up front Part of what annoyed me about the sale was that it wasn’t until after I made the sale that I was told I wouldn’t receive funds until the buyer verifies that they’re making money. I also didn’t realize that the listing fee was in ADDITION to the commission fee. I still would have listed with them, but I would have been aware of it, rather than surprised (to be fair, I take responsibility for this part, but I think it could have been clearer). Understand the domain transfer clauses I mentioned this above, but this was annoying as well and added 5 days to the transaction time. Domain pushes and transfers are very different things and can add a huge differential of time to the transfer process. Know it’s going to be a PITA I was really hoping that for such a small site and transaction, that it would be quick and painless. It ended up being a minor pain in the a$$ when I had a lot of other things I’d rather focus on – which was the reason I was selling it in the first place.
If you’re a buyer, Empire Flippers might be a good deal. Most of their policies are buyer-centric. This makes sense. Buyers will often buy multiple sites (they have money to spend), but sellers don’t sell nearly as often. It makes sense to build in policies to their business model that protect the people giving them money. If you’re a seller (especially looking for a quick sell), the sale happened SUPER fast, but the transfer took way too much of my time to be worth it. I was hoping they’d be much more direct and quick with the sale and hassle-free. However, it seemed like every step of the way (except the actual sale), I was dealing with a headache. Part of their model includes using Filipino VAs. I have no qualms with that, but it did delay the process somewhat as most of the interaction took place on Filipino time (night-time stateside) and required solving miscommunication issues that did come up. Interestingly enough, if I worked normal hours (9-5 US time), this would have taken even longer – chalk another one up for night owls. This could be fixed by having VAs on duty round-the-clock or on US shifts (which is not unusual for outsourced services).
My Verdict on Empire Flippers
Based on my experience with Empire Flippers, I would give them a 6/10. I’ve been building sites for a long time, but I’m a newbie at selling them. Again, I’ve known the Empire Flippers guys since way back when they were Adsense Flippers and they do a ton of volume and move a lot of sites, so maybe people are having better experiences than me, but on this sale, I found a lot of things they could fix or improve on to be more seller-friendly. I think a major part is that selling a site (especially one that could be considered a “small site”) is a headache in general. I felt like this took an inordinate amount of time for such a small site but to be fair, I’m not sure it would have been better with Flippa or anyone else (since you have to manage the process yourself), but it would be nice for it to be a little less painful. It’s probably much more worth the squeeze if you have a bigger site that you’re listing, but if you’re thinking about Empire Flippers, here’s my verdict: Pros
Less headaches than other sites
Process needs a lot of refinement
Focus is on buyers over sellers
Not going to get top dollar for your site
Transfer is a headache
No insurance if things go bad (that I know of).
I talked with Justin Cooke (one of the founders at Empire Flippers) at a conference in Barcelona this past weekend about a lot of these issues. One thing that I didn’t realize is that this size of deal (under $5k) they don’t really do much of anymore. For a lot of the reasons I outlined above, they don’t take on smaller sites, but also, the people BUYING smaller sites tend to be less experienced and delay the process (via many of the things I mentioned above). For this reason, I think you’ll run into MANY of these problems with ANY sale UNDER $5k. It’s just the market and there’s not a lot of good options for getting rid of them. If I knew that going into this, I would have either 1) deleted it, 2) hired an assistant to grow it to something more salable, 3) just forgot about it. Given the new knowledge, if I had a site to sell in the 5-10k range, I would consider giving them another shot, however, there are things from the seller’s side that I would like to see fixed. This post was originally posted on Impossible. If you found it helpful, I'd love to hear your comments! Thanks.
So many thoughts come, in my hunger to record the shape of that which ails me. Memories, imprinted like typewriter keys on the wet, spongy mass of the brain, feel transient, like ancient scrolls or commandments inscribed on crumbling slate, eroded by desert winds in unfathomably ancient ages. The memories of a man, fragmented in time - wet with horror and delusion. For some reason, softer memories of childhood rise to the surface sometimes, like leaves in a dirty backyard pool, only to become too raw and shamefully unclothed when exposed to the sunlight of a middle aged man’s temperament. I remember games of Checkers with my great Grandfather, Ildor Hearst, who appears in my mind’s eye as a-kind-of Russian Santa Claus, wirey beard and carven forehead. He was a stern man, and would always be ranting his archaic religious views. Prostheletising the fall of modern Babylon and the age of the Nihilist. He would play Checkers with me, sharp movements, wooden circles slammed down with impunity. He never let me win. Saw his dominance as a matter of instruction and learning. As I look back nostalgically, sometimes, I yearn for Great Grandfather Ildor’s black and white mentality of good and evil, lightness and darkness... and an over arching confidence in the eventual triumph of mankind. Rather than the bleak reality of the post modernist distopia in which I live. I recall vividly, after those intense games, once Ildor had imparted his thorny wisdom, I would be granted relaxation and be free to play with my own toys, scattered around my grandparents wooden floor boards; Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers, Wonder Woman, Spider Man and He-Man. Mine was always a multicoloured world of complex morality and democratic voices ... all of which ran into muddy paradigms that seemed totally outside the circle of Great Grandad’s moral compass. These days, as a real estate Agent, I am occasionally gifted limited insights into a checkerboard like world of manipulation and sinister intentions, but mine is to perceive the evil of global finance, and the general unfairness of land ownership and rabid, unchecked capitalism...but with no delusion of an interventionalist God to pull us out of the hole we humans have dug for ourselves. My name is Vilson Hearst, and I am a Real Estate Agent for Steel City Real Estate in Hexton, Australia. Perhaps you think yourself free from the real estate game. Perhaps, you are a fool. Perhaps you are satisfied with your lot in life, making a simple way for yourself, with a mortgage and a family, (if you should be so lucky to afford to get into the housing market at all that is). Then, could be that you are living a student lifestyle, paying rent, constantly paying off another cunning man’s mortgage, or worse still, perhaps you have abandoned the fight, to cower in your parents basement, with the real world slowly closing in on you, as you desperately try to escape into a world of Hollywood movies, video games or creepy pasta. You are all in the real estate game, wether you like it or not. There is a broader game of capital and estate, which is increasingly complex, and even those like myself who’s job it is to ‘follow the money’ sometimes are completely lost at sea in the Darwinian struggle of the global free market. Studying finance at Bourkeley University,.. I did my PHD thesis about money and the aquisition of power. I spent a solid year, studying the major players in global banking, watched the Chinese ICBC rise to become the wealthiest banking institution in the world. I tracked the strange and secretive trails of the richest investors, after the terrorist attacks on September 11, watching money transfer around the globe in secret trust funds, private meetings of powerful elites in Shanghai—as the Chinese World Trade Centre “Tower Three” was built, in the image of the destroyed Twin Towers of New York, (which is no coincidence, given it was constructed by the same architecture group; Skidmore Owings and Merril, (who also constructed the replacement One World Trade Centre.)) I studied Wikileaks and other whistleblower organisations. Gained secret documents, and learned of meetings between wealthy individuals; John Fallon, the chief executive of Pearson Education, the company which controls half the worlds schooling institutions— made a private deal in 2015 with Indra Nooyi and Paul Bulcke, Chairman and CEO of Nestle and PepsiCo, the owners of the majority of global food and confectionary. You wonder why our children are so desperately obese. I was constantly surprised by the familiarity of these billionaires with one another. For instance, you might not know, that Hugh Grant, the CEO of Monsanto, the sinister company who has come to dominate a stronghold on global agriculture, (and who, among more nefarious acts, was responsible for manufacturing the deadly ‘Agent Orange’ poison in Vietnam and causing countless generational mutations).. just happens to be close friends with the CEO of Lockheed Martin, the dominant power in weapons manufacturing and ultimately what people mean when they talk about the ‘military industrial complex’. Guns don’t kill people. Corporations do. But you knew that already. Other minutes from meetings by the powerful, would have many questioning what the leaders of certain organisations could possibly have to discuss with each other,... such is the nature of the unheard of D40 meeting in a chateau in Shandong Province; where Barry Lam, chairman and founder of Quanta computers, the name behind the majority of computing technology, was recently in discussion with Carlos Brito, the CEO of InBev; the name behind all the major alcohol players—Ian Read, the CEO of Pfizer, who basically controls the entire legal drug market, Mark Zuckerberg and the CEO Of Alphabet Inc— who own Google and most of the rest of the internet. Now these meetings bare direct relationships with the stock trading happening in the World Trade Centre Tower Three in China. The minutes from these meetings contained discussion both controversial and amazingly nuanced, and the complexity of the global solutions some of these key players in the tech revolution were coming up with would’ve gone over the heads of even the top IQ holders from 98 percent of high schools in the world. Nonetheless, some of the darker plans by these shady monopolies would terrify you, more than you could possibly know. To understand Australian land ownership, the problem becomes more of a global puzzle. The figures who own the most land globally, are, the King of Saudi Arabia, The Pope and the Catholic Church, Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster certainly has a cut, and of course, the Queen of Britain herself, Elizabeth ...(who currently owns about a sixth of the worlds land, some 6.6 Billion Acres, more commonly known as the Commonwealth Realm, (which includes two thirds of Antarctica, Time Square in New York, Canada, New Zealand and of course ... Australia.) These people, i’ve learned, are not particularly interested in the debate around land ownership coming to the forefront of the global conversation, and billionaire media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Andrew Packer have filled their bank accounts, making it their mission to keep just such subjects off the family dinner table, with distractions like ‘My Kitchen Rules’ and ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ filling Australian television channels. The question of wether anyone owns land in Australia, or if it is in fact all owned by the Queen of England, is a contentious one, particularly when you factor in the confounding elements such as the status of Norfolk Island, which at one time was, on a technicality, not owned by anyone except for the fictitious body ‘The Crown’ (until being taken over by the Australian Capital Territory, in 2015). Then when you consider the original claim of the British that the Australian nation was unoccupied or ‘Terra Nullius’ when Europeans arrived, a truth widely held as fact until the precedent of the Mabo Decision in the Torres Straight islands in 1992. This decision returned some land ownership rights back to certain aristocratic lineages of the native people. However, the paradox leaves a complex and enduring problem for the future of land ownership in Australia and what that exactly entails. In Hexton, the most rapidly developing city in Australia, corporate billionaires have their stakes in national land ownership, yet meanwhile... National Parks, Botanical Gardens and other public spaces are unapologetically ‘Crown lands’, a fact which is still testified by the names of the spaces; Kings Domain, Queen’s Square, and other titles which clearly and proudly display the heritage of monarchic ownership deeply entrenched within the Australian property market. Of course, even within the field of Australian National Real Estate, the individual estate agent becomes bogged down even further in matters of local estates, so that these important issues take second stake to the sales and acquisitions of the day. Steel City Real Estate, the company I work for, is a nation wide brand, but our particular office in Albert Park consists of about nine agents. I spend most of my time competing with the golden boy of Steel City, Greg Leisdadt. Greg has consistently won the monthly sales targets in our office for over a year. His desk is covered in trophies, awards, and framed certificates adorn the walls behind him. I’m not sure what words could aptly describe Leisdadt; his wolf-like eyes, both evil and mesmerising. A cannibal grin consisting of Colgate super white teeth, and those gelled locks of amber hair which hang impossibly, like an arch villain over his forehead. Greg oozes saleable confidence which grates my own nervous disposition sufficiently towards constant despair. The only force which makes the constantly eclipsing day to day victories of Leisdadt bearable to me is Natasha Valuvjdavo. She is the agent who sits on the adjacent table to me in the office. I confess, for some time, I was profoundly attracted to Natasha, and had to stop myself from gushing and fawning over her. She is a demure, and assertive brunette, her crimson lips could kill a boat full of sailors. Unfortunately, she is engaged to a man named Fred, who is something of a wet blanket, yet I must discard my jealousy and confess that for whatever reason, Natasha seems happy in her domestic life. My only solace in this, being that Greg Leisdadt, the man who has everything, although persistently flirtatious, has never made a dent in Natasha’s self security. She is thankfully not attracted to him. But now I should refrain from being sidetracked and talk about the subjects which, you, the reader, more likely desire to hear of. For my tale is no idle blathering of romantic ennui, or global conspiracy—but rather the trauma of my profession, does persist— in both being exposed to the ruthless game of money/power, but moreover being haunted by knowledges both gothic and Victorian. For there is no other game in town, where one is more exposed to unwanted or haunted real estate; the devil hounded, and the wished forgotten. There are the houses that are impossible to sell, because of brutal or public bloody murders that have occurred to the prior occupants. Wether psychological or other, the frequency of those who purchase such forbidden and damned abodes —then in no matter of time, flee and sell at carelessly lower settlement costs, with tales of unhallowed things returned to life, or clanking noises in the basement...why... this simple fact of the real estate market is as common as there is. A story as old as time. Now perhaps I could spend months repeating the folk lore surrounding that dilapidated and spiritually unsaveable address; that run down, trash infested garden, and collapsing terrace roof of no 13 MacArthur Street. But this could take a conceivably longer time period, and I shall reserve my energy for the most disturbing and horrific of these preternatural experiences. Though I should briefly mention Vernon tower, for though this wasn’t the property which near drove me to insanity, it factors too far into the disturbing tapestry of the veiled or hidden real estate scene. Now, Vernon tower, is an enormous building in South Hexton. Our agency deals more with rentals than with sales of the apartments in that old, and curious piece of architecture. Built as early as 1866, there has always been something profoundly wrong with Vernon towers. Of course, it is me who has to deal with most of the tennants of that foreboding block, for it is the Hearst legacy to be fated just such dull luck. Thus it is always, I, who takes the phone calls from disgruntled students and drug addicts; Vernon Tower is unprecedentedly cheap, due to its history. Yet the impoverished clientele still have no issue burning my ear off; to complain of strange mechanic noises, or those bizarre phosphorescent green lights. Then there was the girl who tried to sue us, after her seizure from what she claimed to see inside the laundry room. That manner of description I can scarce repeat for its absurdness and high strangeness. But let me get to the more dreadful incident which frightens me even to recall. Indeed, it had all begun with that infernal property in Elwood, which I was in terse competition to sell... pitted unwittingly against the undefeated Super-Agent, Greg Leisdadt. The spectacularly immense mansion on Ormond Road, was once occupied by billionaire Serbian entrapaneur Dimitrije Stojanovic, who I’m told partially drafted the architectural plans for the immense mansion himself, before he had it constructed on the corner of Ormond and Radkin Streets. The nature of the oddities surrounding that place however, extend not from the architectural style of the lot itself, (mind you those odd modernist geometric pylons, stepped piers and sail-like rooves do lend a kind of funereal gothicness to the address.) However, it was the murder of Stojanovic which caused true fluctuations of interest in the property. Given the public knowledge of the horrendous murder, the property value was incalculably lower than its market worth. It seemed the image of the alleged burglar breaking into Stojanovic’s window, and bludgeoning him to death in the lounge room with a heavy trophy or statue of some kind— somehow grinding his skin off as with multiple teeth, or a spiked club—stayed in the public mind, thanks to Channel 9’s ‘A Current Affair’ and their sensational program about the incident. For interest in the property remained uncharacteristically low. Perhaps the fact that the murderer has yet to be identified or captured by police, nor the murder weapon found, hasn’t helped the matter. Now, as I have mentioned this was not the first time our staff had dressed up a ‘murder property’. But the truly disturbing elements began to happen during the time the property came under my tenure. Now, I should proclaim sincerely that I am by no means a superstitious man, I admonish my readers to believe that I was just as skeptical about the soon to be foretold events as you, had I not experienced them myself, I should fiercely doubt my own sanity. I should also divulge a little more information about Dimitrije Stojanovic himself, (the owner of the grand mansion) as the web of intrigue very much seems to hinge on his professional history. Stojanovic made his billions in Silicon Valley, working in many aspects of the tech industry, investing timely in companies like Facebook and crypto currencies like Bitcoin, when the time was right. in the move to Australia it seems that his ambition was to try out his own company idea in the developing market of Hexton, where the game was not already dominated and over exposed. With this intent he came out, built his immense mansion in Elwood, Moonsmoth, and immediately started channeling his money into the development of something called .....‘DigiTown’. Now being neither a tech expert myself, nor expecting such of my audience, I will explain the fundamentals of the ‘DigiTown’ concept in the same manner it was explained to me by Neil Druton, a four eyed nerd with an immense forehead who was one of the developers working for Dimitrije Stojanovic, before he died. I had decided to interview Druton, to get the background on the Stojanovic case to find a more positive angle for investors. I figured if I could distract the buyer from the details of the murder, and big talk the profile of Stojanovic himself, “the prolific entrapaneur”, this might flatter the egos of other wealthy entrapaneurs to buy it out. Druton told me he had been working for Stojanovic for about six months, mostly at the office Space Dimitrije was renting in Southbank. He described Stojanovic as ruthless, and borderline insane, but nonetheless he spoke of ‘DigiTown’ with respect, a ‘unique’ and ‘brilliant’ project, which would have been at the forefront of the tech industry, if it had ever been finished. Put in layman’s terms, Druton explained that the project had a great deal in common with Bill Gates plans for a ‘smart city’ but on a more achievable scale. I could tell Druton was oversimplifying the description for my sake, no doubt parroting Dimitrije’s marketing pitches for investors. But he described it like this; ‘Imagine a kind of augmented portal, with a built infrastructure and virtual architecture planned by white collar professionals, a crypto currency run communal space, overlayed over a modern city space, where your own request portal is linked to different reference cubes; Town Square, Library Cube, Media Station, Entertainment Centre, Eateries, telematics and roads authority, and these all function via the same channels as an actual city.’ ‘So you mean, instead of one social media interface trying to network everything, the actual infrastructure of a city is built out within the media itself?’ I asked. ‘Yeah pretty much’ Druton replied, seeing I had sensed the practical nature, adaptability, and profitability of the software, all over the world. ‘ATMs, shops, business, smart cars and machinery— all worked into the same dual augmented system. Superimposed as a direct collorary.’ It got me thinking paranoid, and I asked Druton earnestly; ‘Do you think if another rogue in the tech industry knew about Stojanovic’s idea, it would have been a groundbreaking idea enough to have killed him over?’ Druton went silent, and sweated a little from his pimpled forehead. I didn’t need to hear him answer the question, it was written all over his shrivelled face. I spent a good couple of months doing my research on Dimitrije’s mansion. (I would’ve loved to cover up the existence of the current owner of the mansion). Rich heiress Stacey White bought the house, and lived in it for a month before she got spooked— and decided to resell it. I made sure to get the story straight, offering Stacey a hot cup of Bush tea, and asking her precisely what she saw. Here’s what she told me; ‘I was alone, in that creepy mansion, at night,... and I got a weird feeling. There was a strong wind, and it was dark. The gum tree in the front yard bends a lot in the wind, and sometimes the branches whip against the side of the house. I was just getting used to that noise, but this time it was something different, almost lost in the whistling wind. It was a lower kind of ...moaning. A deep, pained groan. I got up to check I hadn’t left something on in the kitchen. I went to turn on the light switch but the globe burnt out. That’s when it happened. Almost like a mini-earthquake, but there was this strange energy. Then the gas stove just lit up, a green flame. It wasn’t on, but the kitchen was illuminated in a kind of underwater hue. Then—-(Stacey began to gasp and sob)—-then... in the darkness — I saw it!! A green head! Half a Human head, but mangled, half the skull bashed in, shimmering like I was looking through glass. It spoke to me ....in a voice that made the room cold. Just—-(she broke down into tears, suppressing a scream). H—his lips... cold, green lips. Steam coming from his mouth. He said — he said—- ‘Beware the Wagluh’. As this point she became incommunicable. I felt an increasing sickness in the ensuing weeks, the cause was unknown, but chiefly matched my mental state. It must’ve been around this time when I first saw the strange rune which had been spray painted on the abandoned building in Elwood. I was doing my rounds, why I should’ve noticed the strange glyph remains beyond my understanding, yet there it was. A curious, green shape, interrupted by a stark arrow and a kind-of ladder shape above it. I was becoming increasingly stressed and agitated by the competitive sale of Dimitrije’s mansion. My manager Herron Del Ray had been hounding me to make a sale, it had been months since I had successfully got a down payment from a client. Del Ray had threatened redundancy in no uncertain terms, and the stress was beginning to erode my total mental well being. In conversations with my beautiful colleague Natasha around this time, I found her to be kind, but not particularly helpful. Her advice was that if I was going to beat Leisdadt, I would have to compete with him at his own game. She told me on one particular occasion I should just lie to clients about the gruesome murder in the house, or omit it from the description altogether. This was both against my moral compass, and senseless, for the case was so popular, I felt sure that any potential investor would know of it, to omit it would only anger them. That same day I got a call from a potential buyer named Greame De Montague. Leisdadt watched me like a hawk as I took the call, giving me a cunning look. The stare flustered my nerves, but choking through the phone I agreed for an inspection with De Montague. He would be the fifth buyer I had spoken to, all four previous investors had abandoned their inquiries when learning more about the murder, or after having seen the contract of sale. I calmed myself the day of the appointment by speaking soft mantras to myself under my breath. I knew I had to push this client to a final purchase, and my job security depended on it. Greg Leisdadt was leaning against the bronze statue of a Cheetah in our office as I was leaving, mocking me with the words ‘Good luck, Vilson old boy.’ It was a cold autumn day, and brown leaves blew around the streets in gusts of curdled wind. I had arranged to meet Mr De Montague on Beach Avenue, so that we might walk down to Ormond Street and view the mansion. As an eerie coincidence the corner we agreed to meet was precisely at the point that odd rune was sprayed on the abandoned building in Elwood. Greame De Montague was standing on the corner as I arrived in my light grey sedan. He was standing in front of the odd rune, as though the symbol itself had somehow marked his presence in an unexplainable yet mystical time stamp. I couldn’t see his car parked anywhere. He was wearing a very curious oufit, particularly for Australia, although the weather was reasonably cool that autumn day. He wore a kind of black velvet robe, cut in the shape ...not unlike an Orthodox Jew’s regalia. It tarried at the bottom into a sort of deep purple cape. On his head he wore a buckled Capotain, and in his hand, a decorated staff. I wondered if his clothing indicated the excesses of vanity of the social media age, or if he was perhaps a foreign prince of some kind. I stepped out of the car, and approached De Montague with my hand extended. I could see now he had a strange face, with slanted owl-like eyebrows, and a fluffy round beard that gave him an almost koala-bear-shaped head. Mr De Montague raised his hand and met my embrace, shaking my hand with a firm clasp. ‘It’s lovely to meet you Greame. I have a feeling you are going to love this property.’ ‘Please. Call me Lord De Montague.’ The stern man insisted, ‘I descend from Carpathian royalty, the son of a Duke.’ ‘Very well M’lord.’ I replied, my tone accidentally tinged with irony, ‘Have you come ...very far today?’ I asked trying to distract from my faux pas with a bluff of small talk. I couldn’t help staring at the strange Necklace around De Montague’s neck. It seemed to be made of solid gold, and was comprised of a chain of large charms, each coin depicting deities from Ancient Asian and Mesopotamian religions. I began walking, unsure what to say but deciding to lead De Montague down towards Ormond Street. There was a terrifying stillness on the street that day. The sun dried grass seemed frozen in time, and the grey sky moaned geriatrically, with the energy of a tired giant trying to fend off the vast abyss of Space. I noticed that De Montague was not moving, but had instead stopped firmly in his tracks. His face gave off a distinct lack of pathos. ‘Mr Hearst.’ Lord De Montague’s grainy voice echoed; ‘This is the wrong way.’ I turned and looked back at him confused, but De Montague quickly supplanted my curiosity ‘We should walk down Vautier Street. It comes out closer to the property on Ormond.’ By my own calculations, the distance was exactly the same, but as I was in a desperate state of flattery, I decided to humour the strange, old man, though I now questioned wether my client might be an eccentric madman, who merely thought he was born of Royalty, in his delusions. Nonetheless, I followed De Montague and we wandered down the leafy, terraced streets. ‘Tell me something Mr Hearst’ De Montague began to speculate; ‘Have you ever heard the expression ‘Old Money’?’ I looked at him trying to gage his meaning; ‘Yes, of course.’ I replied. ‘The man who owned this mansion’, De Montague continued in a practiced refrain; ‘It is my understanding he was one of the new breed. Wouldn’t you say? Those who make their fortunes on the gamble— or the changing technologies of the world, but haven’t yet come to fully comprehend the system as it works. As it has always worked.’ ‘I’m afraid I haven’t come to fully appreciate your meaning.’ I replied with honest perplexion. ‘My ancestors were very interested in Asian spirituality’ De Montague continued in a seemingly distracted soliloquy, ‘The De Montagues have migrated for some time you see. Sharing something in common with the Romani people of Europe. I have had ancestors who have lived, over the centuries, in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea and the Phillipines. Do you know what is the one thing these vastly different cultures all have in common?’ ‘I do not’ I confessed. ‘Reverence for ones ancestors, and respect for ones elders, and an overwhelming policy of acceptance towards the natural systems that have always existed.’ ‘That’s very interesting’ I replied, gawking about anxiously and wondering where the conversation was leading. ‘I have only more recently come to adapt the principles of the Japanese Shinto religion into my philosophy Mr Hearst. However I think we could all take a page out of that discipline, and it’s superior attitude towards the unknown. You know, in some sense the Shinto practitioners had an almost scientific approach to their spirituality. Certainly, like with the Eastern superstitions, the Shinto perceived a longing towards extra sensory insights into a hidden or secret world supposed to lie beneath the surface of our material life. However, we can say that the Shinto practitioners never got into the awkward and complex dogma of hierarchical worship. Rather, they merely approached each of their animistic inhabitations of spirit that they encountered with the proper fear and respect that one should properly apply to creatures or Gods we fail to yet understand.’ ‘It’s an interesting religion.’ I said, still utterly confused as to what the eccentric prince was attempting to convey. ‘I see you’ve mistaken my warning.’ De Montage continued in a more stern and serious tone, as we passed rows of trimmed hedges and decorative fences. ‘It is right to fear that which we don’t understand Master Hearst. We ought to treat our material supervisors with more respect. Now, I confess, it has never been the object of my ancestors to worship the unseen. Only a fool wishes to make a slave of themselves to a devil they don’t know. But respect, awe, fear, that is different. That is the core of wisdom. Now.... I confess to you... My own aristocratic ancestors, have had more of a vested interest in acquiring artefacts and precious minerals that can absorb such unknown energies. To tap into the mechanisms of nature and the outer spheres of unseen chemistry, that is where one can find the tools to bring about the acquisition of power!’ I began to become totally speechless, realising now, that I was in the presence of a lunatic. We were still about five minutes from the Serbian’s property, and De Montague now began to rave in such a strange and sinister manner, that he appeared some demented imp, his lecture was so insane. ‘So it was for the ones who claimed the future. Those beings with silken robes of silver, who sought the forbidden wisdom from beyond the abysses of Space and time. They are like the watcher, and we are but the conduits to their ancient digital powers. Yet if you could perceive the outlines of the Shapeshifter, who is the lost among us all, and he who brings the bitterness from the original tragedy. Then, perhaps you could understand what the Hindu’s really worship, in the form of their metamorphosising God of many evolutionary attributes.’ Mr De Montague suddenly stopped, slamming the steel cap of his staff upon the cracked concrete, and turned to me; ‘Mr Hearst, this is my warning for you! You cannot outwit the darker destinies of the force that itself conjures black holes. Have due reverence for the unseen beast which lurks beneath, and threatens your soul with eternal mutilation. Stand down from that property, and abandon your research into the disappearance of that accursed Serbian. I send this warning as a friend, and wether or not you take it up, I tell you that your colleague Greg will still make the sale, whichever path you choose.’ De Montague suddenly scowled like a rabid dog, grabbing my hand and thrusting the handle of his cane upon my palm. ‘Cursed child— I have the power of the Chiromancer, and that which is engraved upon your line of fate, makes it clear. But there is still time to evade the mark of this warning.’ Suddenly, I shrieked, for my palm began stinging with pain, and I realised that the silver etched handle of the staff was unfathomable degrees hot. I pulled my hand away before the impression became irreversible; ‘Ouch, you burnt my hand!’ I cried. De Montague then seemed satisfied that his message had been delivered. He immediately hoisted back his staff, then let out a sound almost like a wolf’s growl. Then he seemed to perform a magicians trick of some form. For he cast the staff down at my feet, but as it fell there, a glimmer of light played a trick on me. I stepped back in fear, for that which lay across my feet, was no longer that of carven wood, but a coiled brown snake, who raised itself and hissed through fangs, and quivering forked tongue. I turned and dashed out of the snakes attack perimeter. I gazed down at my stinging palm, to see with terror and trepidation that the burn mark in my hand imprinted from the image on the cane— it was the same strange glyph that was painted on the house. Panting and sweating, tripping over my clumsy feet, as I rotated again to survey the scene, I saw now with incredulity the brown snake remained upon the pavement, but De Montague himself was long gone. The hoax plagued me for hours afterward, I had been pranked it seemed, by some rich and bored eccentric trickster, who never intended to view the property at all. Or he was an escaped lunatic from Bourkeley Asylum perhaps. As I was already in the area, after a sufficient down time, when my heartbeat had reduced and my manic paranoia dissipated —I resolved to continue to Ormond Street anyway. When I got to the property my fading anger was rebuked, for I saw two cars parked outside the late Serbian’s mansion. ‘Leisdadt’ I cursed. As I walked up the modern staircase, I saw a cheerful looking man m, wearing a scarf, leaving, who Greg had obviously just shown around the property. He seemed fearfully optimistic about the place, and I continued cursing under my breath until I reached the hallway where Greg was standing, smugly, with a clipboard. He seemed even more satisfied when I came to the door; ‘You better watch out for that one’ Greg said in a tone that sent me into a rage; ‘He seems very keen. What happened to your 4’oclock?’ ‘Someone pulled a prank on me’ I cursed. I began to wonder if Greg had organised the incident with the charlatan somehow. Leisdadt tried hard to refrain from breaking out into a grin, ‘That’s a shame. Your luck has to come up one day Hearst.’ Leisdadt chuckled, but then seemed to remember something— ‘I thought you signed off on the clearance papers anyway Hearst.’ He said, ‘After Stacey White complained about the dead guy’s stuff still laying around, I thought you had the house completely emptied.’ ‘What of it?’ I asked. Greg leaned over to the ornately decorated mantle piece, pulling open the dresser drawer below the mirror and revealing a stack of haphazard papers and letters. ‘Can you take care of these?’ He insisted coldly, ‘I’ve got a last minute potential sale of that impossible property, 13 MacArthur Street. Can you believe my luck? We haven’t had a buyer for that place in years.’ I scowled into my neck as Leisdadt left via the rear entrance of the mansion. Grumbling and moving towards the papers, I cursed myself for so easily being persuaded to do what Greg could’ve done himself. I mumbled, calling myself a sucker under my breath as I leafed through the papers. Then, I turned over something which captured my interest. It was a sleek black diary, and as I turned the pages I came to realise that it had evidently belonged to Dimitrije. I flicked through the musty pages, seeing that the entries of the private journal dated up until the Serbian’s disappearance. I began to read with fascination and morose intrigue; Here is the transcript of the more interesting parts of Dimitrije's diary: http://textuploader.com/dh4w4 Dimitrije Stojanovic died on the 13th of October, 2016. The strange diary had a terrible effect on me. I became deeply paranoid that I was wedged within a catastrophic and deep conspiracy. Though I couldn’t fully understand the map laid out by the corners of my discoveries, there was enough of a pattern that I knew there was some terrible logic beneath it all. I found the references to Vernon Towers and the architect ‘Von Marrickville’ extremely intriguing and began to further my own research on the property which was already familiar to me. I had always known that Vernon Towers was an old heritage building. But I had never researched the buildings actual construction. So it was, that I found out more about the strange creator, borrowing a book about the eccentric architect Veda Von Marrickville from Hexton library. The book was fascinating. Von Marrickville, it turned out was a fairly prolific architect of the day, who was commissioned to build a series of buildings around Hexton city. Of particular interest to me, where the four or five buildings Von Marrickville built in a kind of arc around Port Phillip Bay, pointing towards Valsbury docks. Von Marrickville was a Dutch native who came out to Australia in 1834, one of the key buildings on the Port Phillip Bay side of Hexton was Vernon Towers, which I read to my astonishment was funded by a wealthy nobleman named Aaron De Montague. I couldn’t find out much about the De Montague family or their history in Australia, but I was beginning to think it must have been the same family as the De Montague whom I had met. Von Marrickville describe Vernon Towers as an ‘occult conduit’ and layered it with engraved symbology. He suffered a tragic fate, and wound up raving as an inmate in Bourkeley Asylum. Since reading the diary, I have begun to experience strange anomaly. I visited Vernon towers myself, looking for a particular architectural feature. To my surprise and terror I saw one of the green glyphs mentioned by Dimitrije. I tried to track down De Montage, however have not seen him since that odd encounter. Searching for families of that name, the only people I could come across in Hexton was a family living in Brunswick. When I went to visit I found them to be a strange family of Indonesians who incidentally suffered from an unusual diverse range of diseases. The youngest daughter suffered autism, whilst her brother was an extreme Down syndrome case, and the mother herself had mental health issues. I concluded that these De Montagues probably bore no relation to the man I had met, if indeed he hadn’t lied about his name. Then there was the day I found that bizarre egg. It was about the size of a milk carton, all speckled and grey, but it was broken in half, as though it had hatched. Yet I was positive no animal could have produced the egg, and could only assume that it was a student art project or installation of some kind. In any case, it seemed unrelated to the other strange occurrences. I feel as though my sanity has completely abandoned me, torn more and more towards the point of collapse. Leisdadt has sold the Serbian’s property, and I haven’t been to work for a week, for fear of the consequences with my boss. But worse, I’ve started to smell a.... to sense something. Something that I recognise from Dimitrije’s descriptions in his diary. How is it possible to sense the form of something that you have never seen. To know it sometime. To dream of a shrieking thing that soars through a red sky. That mosquito like head. Immense lizard like body, bone and ribs, like a sharks egg. Black leather wings. There was a brown parcel that arrived in the mail. The statue inside matches the description given by Dimitrije. It’s so hideously disfigured. Does it represent the swimming demon in my dreams? I examined the edges closely, and the inscription which seems to be flecked with blood. Could it be the murder weapon they used to bludgeon the Serbian? What of his shredded corpse, what tore his body apart? As I sit, hailed up in my lounge room trying to distract my mind with escapist television, and recording this journal on my IPad. I fear something unfathomable which seeks my destruction. I can hear noises, am I hallucinating? Dear God! That banging outside the house.
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