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Otto Ling’s House (Caitlin’s Journal, 9)

CD Knowles 3 weeks ago

Otto Ling’s House

Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Below you’ll find the ninth journal entry that Caitlin Wang, our advice columnist who went missing in mid-February, wrote after she and her husband, Dr. Li Wang (from UT’s virology lab), fled Austin. Caitlin has been in hiding from the men whom she suspects of kidnapping her husband last month. She gave us her journal to publish in the hopes that her story will help her find him. (Note to the bad guys: the journal is NOT at Randi’s or Nicole’s house. It has been hidden well, so it’s not worth looking.) We highly recommend starting at the beginning with our series of videos, from when we first announced that Caitlin was missing til when we finally found her and met in person for the first time. If you’d like to start with her journal entries, click here. We’ve included a summary at the bottom of this post of the parts of her journal we’ve made public so far. otto ling’s house

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May 17, 2020 (Galveston) otto ling’s house

It’s the end of the day, Sunday, and I want to quickly write some notes before I forget. First, driving to Galveston in the middle of the night was pretty frightening (I guess everything’s frightening right now), not because I thought I was being followed, but because it was unfamiliar territory and I was scared to turn on GPS for fear of some kind of hacker tuning in. (In the pocket behind the passenger seat of Li’s truck there was a US road atlas and I used that.) I arrived at Otto’s early this morning, curled up with my blanket and pillow in the backseat, and eventually fell asleep.

Five hours later I woke to bright sun and the smell of ocean. I was in front of a detached garage next to a very nondescript house. My mouth tasted foul and dirty and my clothes felt as if they were sticking to my body. It had been two days since I’d had a shower and I badly needed one. I was also extremely hungry. I got out of the truck and marched to the front door of the house where I pressed hard on the bell. From the interior I heard a male voice yell, “Coming!” but no one appeared. I pressed the bell again with the same response, so I yelled: “Please open the door! It’s important!” To which the voice, Otto’s I assumed, yelled, “Come in! Come in!”

I tried the door, but it was locked. “Otto!” I shouted. “Are you okay?” I pictured Otto sprawled on the floor, victim of a dangerous pathogen that had sneakily entered his system during his Covid research. This time he didn’t answer, so I became seriously worried. I had to get in there and help him ASAP! I peeked through the porch windows, but could barely see anything, so I circled the house which was small, one story, and extremely plain with large, unplanted front and back yards. In the back I spotted a half open window and managed to jimmy it open a little further and climb through. I found myself in a bathroom, right next to the tub. “Otto!” I called. “Otto, where are you?”

No answer and my heart started pounding as I began to search the house. From deeper inside — the kitchen, it turned out — I heard a loud, cheerful laugh. What the hell? I ran into the kitchen, which looked very 1950s, and to my shock came face to face not with Otto Ling, but with a large African Grey parrot in a wire cage. The parrot looked at me out of a beady black eye, cocked its head and said hello in the same male voice as before. “Oh fuck!” I moaned.

“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” screeched the parrot.

I decided to ignore the bird as I continued to search the house. Everything was neat and tidy. The bed hadn’t been slept in. There was barely any food in the fridge, no milk, juice, creamer, just some condiments, a lone diet Coke, a six pack of beer, a package of sprouted bread that had gone moldy. Famished, I ate some cereal (dry), drank the Coke, scraped mold off two pieces of bread which I toasted and slathered with jam. Obviously Ling wasn’t here, and from the look of things he’d been gone for awhile. So I stripped out of my clothes and jumped in the shower, one of those old fashioned ones, narrow with a plastic curtain. While I was in there, the bathroom door opened and I heard a female voice yell: “What’s going on? Who the hell are you?”

Uh oh, I thought, reaching for a towel.

Before I could step out of the shower, the woman jerked open the curtain and stared at me, a large person with big blond hair and an angry expression on her face. “Who are you?” she repeated.

“Um… a friend of Otto’s. Who are you?”

“His neighbor and I’m calling the police. You’re not fucking supposed to be here.”

I’d like to go on with this, but I’m running out of energy so I’ll continue tomorrow.

***
Summary of What We’ve Made Public So Far

Dr. Li Wang’s sister Mei was researching corona viruses at the Wuhan lab in China, but she disappeared under suspicious circumstances after having mailed highly classified material regarding her research to Dr. Wang here in Austin. (It was sent on an external hard drive hidden inside a key fob.) When he received news of Mei’s disappearance from his niece (who lives in China) in February, Dr. Wang packed up his lab and some supplies, and he and Caitlin set out to live off the grid in a cottage outside of Doss, TX. While there, Dr. Wang had been working in full Hazmat gear on various vials he stored in the small lab fridge. He told Caitlin that if anything should happen to him, she must take the key fob to a researcher in Galveston named Otto Ling. One morning a few months after arriving at the cottage, Dr. Wang went to the grocery store but never returned. The next afternoon, two law enforcement officers showed up at the cottage with the keys to Li’s truck which had been abandoned, keys still in the ignition, on the side of the road. Caitlin left with the cops to get the truck and returned to a ransacked cottage — Dr. Wang’s computer and all his scientific research had been stolen. She decided to search for him, first in the small town of Doss, and then back in Austin at their house, which had also been burglarized. At that point she had no choice but to drive to Galveston to deliver the key fob to Otto Ling.

We’ll post another journal entry on Monday. To start at the beginning of this story, when we first announced that our advice columnist, C.D. Knowles (now confirmed to be Caitlin Wang), had gone missing, please click here. This will be an ongoing publication as we continue to sift through her journal and post the entries that explain everything.

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