Elliott Sewell

Story goes that a couple of years back, during the late '80s and into the early '90s, Elliot Sewell was leading a pretty darn interesting double-life, there for a while. That was, by the way, right before he went sniffin' for Hell and it caught up with him.

In the daytime, Elliot was becoming pretty well known in and around the Miami-Dade County area as a young investigative journalist with a whole lot of grit and a sharp writing style. You can look up some of his stuff on Microfiche, these days. Pretty impressive. Now, he wasn't getting many above-the-fold front-page stories or Pulitzer nods, but it was all because he refused to play politics and not a lot of people in any office he ever worked in much cared for him. Elliot was applauded for a take-no-prisoners approach to interviews and sources, which was what scored him those breathtaking pieces on the Fraternity Hazing Death Cover-Up! (not his title) and the Governor Sex-&-Drugs Scandal! (again, not his title) … but while the editors smiled politely and accepted the praise for Elliot's work, everybody knew that he was never going to be a star reporter.

Not at the Miami Herald and not at the Miami News Daily and probably not even at the La Estrella de Nicaragua. And that was because of Elliot's temper. Which was connected to his night-time passion, which was weird shit and the people involved, and that didn't make his editors too happy, either.

Here's the thing: while it would be great to imagine that Elliot was able to keep himself very detached from the people he worked with at night, tracking down leads on disappearing homeless, UFO communities, child-murdering blood-drinking rituals and the urban-voodoo cults that spawned them, the truth is that Elliot was only human. And he had a soft spot for young Cuban rent-boys with faces like angels and lips like heaven.

Okay, fine. Elliot liked fucking drug-addicted teenagers. Are you happy, now?

Anyway, the legend is that Elliot stumbled onto something explosive in Overtown: a purported gateway into something outside of reality, or at least of human understanding. The locals called it the Hole to Hell, and said that it had been around since at least the 1890's, back when the area was just called 'Colored Town' and the sliding steel industrial door blocking it now had just been a couple of boards. Nobody liked to mess with the thing, but every few years a kid or two would wander down there below the pink house near the Lyric Opera and never come back.

And if they did, it was never pretty.

Now, most people these days figure that to Elliot, this was his one-shot ticket to super-stardom: he would be the first reporter in the world to break the story of an alternate universe! A real, genuine mystery like something out of the most sensational book you ever read! A millionaire and a celebrity, all over-night! But the truth is, Elliot wasn't interested in the fame or the money. Well, not much, anyway. What he wanted was something a lot more complex: he was interested in being RIGHT. About being BELIEVED. About making people see something that was real and then having to ACKNOWLEDGE its REALITY.

As an aside, to suggest that maybe Elliot Sewell was a little nuts, what with the obsession with forcing people to see the truth compared against his double life as a frequent buyer of sex from heroin-addicted, barely-post-pubescent boys … well, that's probably fair. But sometimes obsessions come from strange places. Story goes that Elliot had tried to come out to his mother back when he was a teen, and she just pretended it never happened.

Anyway, the up-shot of all this is that Elliot went down there. And he found himself face to face with worst of the worst mind-fucking that he had ever bumped into in all his years of reporting. Twisting corridors of bloody baby-teeth, with high walls made of yammering, severed penises. Hot rivers of tears and feces that ran along the ceilings and down into columns of tumor-geysers. A pack of human-headed, melting dogs with accordion-parts coming out of them that chased him and finally fell screaming into their own shadows once he made it back Topside.

You know all this, if you've ever 'Crashed from Miami into the Spunk-Lick Shoals, of course. Dumb bastard didn't even bring a '30s-era $2 bill with him to make himself invisible to the Ratchet-Faced Wraith.

The problem was, Elliot decided to tell people about it. Lots of people. And once the camera-guys and the lighting crews and the sound people showed up, the cherry did what so many of them do under scrutiny and the light of day: closed up tighter than a frog's asshole. Water-tight.

He was humiliated. And he was ignored. And he was chastised: there was a lot going on in Overtown those days, with the Great White Flight and the crack problem and the inspirational stories of the youth-centers opening and the less-press-covered shut-downs a few months later. But a story about a secret passage into the darkness behind the universe was stuff for the Weekly World News, not a goddamn ace reporter. In short, he was busted down to the gardening section and only worked his way back to the crime beat in 2002. Most people would have given up. A lot of people, in his same position, have. But not Elliot.

The fact is, whatever sadistic intelligence guides the workings of the Nether, the sick machinery which runs the Wheel of Punishment and keeps itself hidden from the world at large, had found itself a willing opponent in Elliot Sewell.

Spoiler alert: the Nether won.

Over the years, Elliot has made hundreds of hours of tapes of the inside of the Hot Spot. He's interviewed dozens of crashers. He's cataloged a myriad of artifacts brought up from Below and has even spoken with a returned damned.

And he can't prove a goddamn thing. It's almost, like Legend Kligrapp says, as if the Big Suck is just fucking with him at this point.

In an attempt to get corroboration for his story, Elliot has called in false 911-emergency reports to police from that basement in Overstreet on sixteen separate occasions. On nine of them, no one showed up. On five of them, a few cops came down and poked around in the basement and then went home. On one memorable occasion, a pair of police officers actually entered the Bad Ending briefly before getting the fuck out and refusing, at gunpoint, to be interviewed.

Then there's the time that the police went in and never came back out. That made Elliot feel pretty goddamn bad. That's when his drinking problem started.

Anyway, the figure of Elliot Sewell is something of a tragic, cautionary tale in some parts of the crasher community, considered with as much mingled sympathy and derision as Old Stinktoe: it's self-evident that proof of the Eternal Evil can be shared and even exploited, because there wouldn't be a community of crashers if it couldn't. But the fact remains that such knowledge is not capable of being widely disseminated, for good or for ill, and Elliot is the Sisyphus railing against that rule.

Now, where a crasher stands on the 'Sewell Problem' comes down to one question: is Hell - and that meaning the as-of-yet-entirely-theoretical central intelligence of Hell - aware of crashers, or no?

If the answer is yes, and Hell is just fucking around by letting people in and out, then Sewell is no problem at all. He's just a sad figure, with haunted eyes and a few notes on some interesting things about the Nether nobody else is interested in and zero real 'Crashing experience who will buy you a hot meal in exchange for a good story to put on tape.

If the answer is no, and all the cherries are unlocked back-doors guarded by autonomous guards but that it could all come apart at any minute, then Sewell is the worst kind of leak. The kind that the Government Man, Bibb Graves, should really get around to shooting in the face at some point.

But the fact is that Callus Detier Drogovich really likes Elliot. And so he's still among us, jotting down his notes.

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