A college dropout, Addison Gilmore works at an old bookstore in her home town, living with her parents, and generally feeling at a dead-end. Then she finds a box filled with old journals, seemingly written by some kind of agents or operatives, dealing with impossible things such as a child-demon with control of flies, or a child's toy which beats the hell out of a grown man, or vampires in a quiet American town. The journals are clearly hugely varying in age: some are written in literal hieroglyphics, some seemingly brand-new, and all by dozens of authors over a period of, at least, decades.
So, being a frustrated journalism student, she of course decides to launch a podcast where she explores this (she assumes) collaborative fiction project. She quickly finds that more than a few of the stories have incidental support in the real world which, presumably, served as inspiration for the author's story. Further complicating things, she periodically comes across people who assure her that the stories are real: that they either happened to a friend of theirs, or they lived through it themselves.
Things... escalate from there.
The Box is about belief, and the interactions it has with reality.
The Box abruptly stopped updating as of about July 14th, 2017, after the posting of episode 31. The website's domain name lapsed and Addison's Twitter has stayed quiet ever since. However, the podcast started re-posting episodes in October, 2018.
This podcast contains examples of the following tropes:
- After-Action Report: The journals themselves.
- Ancient Conspiracy: Central and later Regnant. While they theoretically have a very narrow focus, they explicitly have a great deal of influence in governments and business.
- Berserk Button: A pyrokinetic goes from relatively calm to fireball throwing within two minutes when Addison accidentally brought up her unfaithful ex-partner.
- Continuity Lock-Out: Happens quite quickly. Every episode begins with an exhortation to the listener to go back and begin at the beginning:Addison: It's the only way this will make any sense to you.
- Cool Old Lady: Madelyn, Jo.
- Criminal Mind Games: A favourite of Anya, particularly aimed at her lover, albeit 17th-century style.
- Finger Snap Lighter: Addison is a fan of this, particularly when she wants to make a point.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Manifested by the sensitive who puts down Bridget, and becomes a walking black hole of life-force, instantly and randomly draining anyone she notices. Ends with Face Death with Dignity.
- Goo Goo Godlike / Creepy Child: Bridget.
- Guns Are Worthless: Addison was baffled on seeing people with guns.
- Heroic BSoD: Addision, more than once.
- Instant Expert: Addison, once her powers manifest. Although she does train briefly, several characters comment on how quickly she masters the use of her various powers.
- Knight Templar: Regnant describes its mission to enable sensitives to reach their full potential, listing off the benefits to society for. Shame about its habit to murder those who get in its way, or are used for experiments.
- Lawful Neutral: Central's main mission is to protect sensitives from the threat of non-sensitives, and sees maintaining secrecy as paramount in that mission. Pursuant to that goal, it attempts to discover and destroy non-natural threats and phenomena. However, while they normally can be described as a Reasonable Authority Figure, they have zero problem killing people, even large numbers, if necessary.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: A favourite tool of Central. Used on all of Addisons family, friends, even casual acquaintances after she meets up with Garrett.
- Lecture as Exposition: Although not strictly a class, Jo often delivers a lot of information to Addison this way.
- Minovsky Physics: "Energy" is the only explanation given behind the weirdness. Sensitives have their powers because they manipulate "energy". Cryptids are (usually) normal life forms corrupted by "energy". Ghosts are semi-random collections of energy in a similar "shape" to that held by an individual in life. Tied to ley lines.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Technically a form of cryptid, vampires are previously normal humans who drink, repeatedly, blood directly from humans often enough that they are changed. Drinking blood from vampires also works, and in fact drastically accelerates the process. They're extremely rare, mostly because blood tastes foul, and even people "edgy" (or twisted) enough to drink directly from humans either recoil after the first time, or are dysfunctional enough that they come to the attention of the authorities after kidnapping and assaulting another person fairly quickly.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Not so much in how they look or act, in which they are the classic Voodoo Zombie. But incredibly difficult to pull off, and prone to attracting... unpleasant attention.
- The Prophecy: Speaks to one who will come and change the balance between the three groups. How, who, when, why or where is not clear.
- Psychic Powers: Sensitives are defined by these, although the nature of the "powers" varies widely from "enhanced cognition" to pyrokinesis to regeneration to telepathy. The overwhelming majority of sensitives have only one power, but there are a few rarities that have two. And then there's Bridget and later Addison herself who manifest several powers.
- Southern-Fried Genius: Jo has a supercomputer for a brain (but with all the flexibility and intuition that the human brain is capable of), but speaks with a distinct Southern accent. Also overlaps with Black and Nerdy.
- The Voiceless: Berta. It's self-inflicted, so she can't be forced to tell the secrets she knows from her association with Jo.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Addison, after she finds out that nearly everyone she has involved, no matter how tangentially, in her research, has ended up dead through either suicide (usually brutal), implausible accidents, or simply through bizarre methods, like being crushed by nothing at all.
- Title Montage
- Town with a Dark Secret: The town annually sacrificing two children to the beast that lives in the nearby forest to stop it from taking larger numbers.
- Unreliable Narrator: Addison herself. It's not that she lies (very often), but she certainly has her own opinions, and she makes decisions what to share and what to hold back. Furthermore, she is often working off very limited information, and the few sources she has all have a strong agenda. As a result, what she says should be taken with a grain of salt.
- Useless Security Camera: The security camera at the hotel Addison checks into after the Chuckie incident. She's moderately pissed, not just for the misleading, but because her car got stolen right in front of it. Probably by Garrett.
- Wendigo: Not "seen", but explicitly mentioned as a cryptid operatives sometimes have to deal with.