Chapter 10: Enter the Darkness

September 28, 2008

Things that go bump in the night…

The last bit of steam drifted from the top of the coffee cup. It dissipated into the air in the same manner as Jackson’s patience. Except for the period naps he has taken since Chambers disappearance, Jackson has been pouring over numerous missing persons files and Chambers case load looking for the smallest clue that might help with identifying what happened to him and who might be responsible. Throughout his notes and organized chaos on his desk, he kept referring back to the cases where the missing persons disappeared from their captor’s custody, and then failed to show up later.

He noted that in some of these cases, the footprints in the area all came from the investigators and neither from the kidnapper nor the victim. If the victim escaped there should have been some sort of evidence of them leaving the area, but the lack of footprints and fingerprints at the exits perplexed him. “Just how did they disappear,” Jackson asked out loud, hoping someone somewhere would answer. A few seconds of silence passed as Jackson seemed to be listening in vain. He shook his head and chuckled to himself and then reached for the phone.

“This is Sergeant Jackson,” he said into the phone. “I need to have a list of crime scene evidence turned over to me, and I need some locations re-examined for evidence. Footprints, to be exact.” Knowing how strange the request was, the reply was already anticipated. “I know that some of these locations have already been contaminated, but I need this done.” He ran off the list of cases where the missing people vanished, knowing he was hoping for a miracle. “Just one clue,” he said to himself. “Just one clue.”

Slowly and deliberately, Chambers stepped into the darkness. The dust at his feet swirled as he entered the structure at Babs request. Somewhere in the building was this mysterious “Father” she kept referring to. All he was looking for was some answers, especially where he was and how he got there, but first he would settle for a flashlight. The hallways were dark except for a few beams of light that cut through the walls from somewhere. Thanking the fact that he was not afraid of the dark, he would use his foot to explore the ground before him with each step, while his fingers were flared out, searching for any wall or furniture that might be in his path.

As he progressed down the hall, a soft humming noise as if made by machinery echoed off the walls. Chambers ducked his head into various rooms as he discovered them, but could not identify the source of the sound, so he continued his trek. Turning around a corner, he noticed a faint glow coming from a room down the hall. As he approached the opening, the soft humming noise increased but was still seemed “distant.”

Wrapping his fingers around the edge of the doorframe, Chambers peeked around the corner to examine the room. Near the door, he saw a few metallic boxes which might have been a part of a computer system, the far wall had a series of windows, and in the middle of room was a dark figure standing on a platform with a small lighted console in front of him. Chambers stood there, watching the figure for a few minutes, investigating his actions.

Chambers watched for what felt like an eternity. The mysterious figure just stood there, like a stature, staring at the dark windows. What was he looking at? He seemed so intent, almost as if he were listening for a distant sound rather than looking. Chambers felt apprehensive while watching the figure. He didn’t know if this figure was the “Father” Babs referred to or someone else. Chambers was imagining a man wearing robe, smoking a pipe, and sitting in a large leather chair, not someone standing in what looked like a dimly lit control room.

Feeling that he was overstaying his welcome, or at least that was what he was telling himself to mask his fear of being caught, Chambers decided to back away from the door and continue examining the structure for other signs of activity. Just as he thought about letting go of the doorframe, the mysterious figure quickly turned around and stared right at Chambers. Panicked, Chambers quickly released the door and started running down the hall, and ran into the wall in the darkness, causing him to stumble to the ground.

He scrambled to get onto his knees and start running down the hall again when he heard the mysterious figure call out from the other room.

“Bill.”


Chapter 9: The House

September 21, 2008

Home is where the heart is.

“Who owns this house?” Chambers asked, wondering who owned the house and who were these people the old woman was talking about. Since waking up in the forest, nothing has made sense to him. Where were the railroad tracks? Where did the path lead? Who is this old woman?

“Father,” replied the old woman.

“Your father owns the house?” Chambers questioned.

“Not my father. We call the person who lives there Father. He was the only person here when I woke up. After all my years of living here, the only other people that I’ve met have been like you, lost in the woods,” the old woman said.

Continuing to walk with the old woman down the path, the detective in Chambers continued to lead the conversation. “Where are the other people that you have met? Are they at the house too?”

The old woman said, “No, they left a long time ago. They don’t stay long, and many years pass by between visitors.”

“Where did they go?” Chambers pressed.

“To see Father, as I said. Everyone goes to the house to see Father,” the old woman replied

Chambers seemed to end up with more questions than answers. “Ok, then tell me about Father. Who is he and what does he do?”

Old woman responded, “We don’t know much about him. He doesn’t talk. He just stands there in front of the window like a statue.” As she continues to talk, the couple rounds the corner of the path. In the distance, a large structure begins to appear.

After an hour of listening to the advice for the old lady regarding meeting Father, the two travelers exited the woods and reached the structure. “I should tell you that those that see him are apprehensive at first. They feel that he is the last person you would want to see, yet at the same time he is a welcomed sight,” the old woman stated.

Walking to the opened doorway, Chambers noticed that the old woman stopped a few steps back. “Aren’t you coming in with me?”

“No, I cannot. Everyone that comes to Father meets him alone,” the old woman stated while motioning Chambers to proceed.

Chambers stood there; looking into the darkness that lay beyond the doorway, and then turned back towards the old woman. “I forgot to ask. What’s your name?”

“Babs,” the old woman replied. “Everyone calls me Babs.”


Chapter 8: Not alone

September 14, 2008

New discoveries lie around the bend…

A day has passed since Chambers began his journey, but it felt like an eternity. With each step he was reminded of the pain in his side, causing him to rest against trees just to regain his composure. He wasn’t sure of how far he traveled, but he knew in his heart he was making progress. The path had to lead somewhere. From the clearing, there was only one direction to travel. If the clearing was the end of the path, what would he find at the beginning?

He couldn’t take the pressure any more. Chambers leaned against a tree along the path, slowly inching his way down the trunk until he was sitting on the ground. Lying back, he clenched his eyes in pain until he head rested on the dirt floor. Staring up at the sky, he could only think of the pain in his side and how he wished it would go away. But for now, enjoying a moment where he could rest would have to do.

He wasn’t resting long when his mind started wandering and then playing tricks on him. The sound of the wind passing through the leaves was interrupted with the sound of footsteps and a female voice humming merrily in the distance. The more he listened, the less he focused on his side, finding the tune to be very soothing as the though of pain faded from his mind. But as the stepping grew louder, the more Chambers began to realize that the song was not coming from within his mind.

Chambers worked his way up into a seated position and noticed an old woman slowly walking down the path enjoying the serenity of the woods. He sat there and watched as she gracefully walked along the tree line, running her fingers against the leaves while humming her song. Not wanting to startle the woman, Chambers raised his hand and gentle cleared his throat – or at least tried to. He retracted his arm quickly and grabbed his side as coughed, causing himself much pain. Continuing to walk towards him, the woman seemed unfazed.

After a short while, she made her way to where Chambers sat. Looking down at him, she placed her had on top of her head as she slowly walked around him without breaking her stride. “Excuse me,” he stated as he tried to get her attention. “I’m in need of aid. Can you help?” Smiling, she reached down and plucked a small purple flower near where Chambers sat. She lifted the flower to her nose and then handed it down to him, motioning him to do the same.

Taking a sniff of the flower, he sensed a slight sensation in his head. “It will help with the pain,” the old woman finally said, encouraging Chambers to continue smelling the flower. “I know of someone who might help you, if you wish to follow me.” Continuing to smell the small flower, Chambers thanked her for her kindness and gently stood up to walk with the old woman.

“What is at the end of the path,” Chambers asked, searching for some answers as to where he is and what is going on. So far, nothing has made any sense to him since he first woke up. Something had to be at the end of the path.

“The house, of course. Everyone comes to the house,” she replied.


Chapter 7: The awakening

September 7, 2008

for whom the bells toll…

The chirping of the birds grew louder and louder, stirring Bill Chambers back to consciousness. Thoughts in his minds, of being cold and in pain, quickly faded away as he started to open his eyes, causing his dreams to come to an end. On second thought, the pain was still there. He reached up and grabbed his head as he laid there on the ground, with the light flickering through the slits between his eyelids.

Rubbing his eyes and then looking up, Bill noticed he was still in the woods, the sun breaking through the canopy above. The green and yellow leaves created a canvas of soft light that calmed him – that was, until he realized something. It was Fall. Where did all the leaves come from?

Confused, he tried to sit up, only to wince in pain and instinctively reached for his side. If he was dreaming, he wouldn’t have known it. Looking around, he became more puzzled. He was sure that he was lying near their railroad tracks last night, but none were to be seen. Gaining his composure, he worked his way onto his feet, leaning up against the tree for support. “What the hell…” he thought, as he slowly made his way around the tree, searching for some sort of landmark.

Through the trees, he thought he saw a clearing. “Ah, there’s the tracks!” he said. Reaching out to different trees as he made his way in the direction of the clearing, Bill made his way into the clearing only to be disappointed. “Where are the tracks? Where am I?” While the tracks were missing, a sense of hope entered Bill’s mind when the clearing gave way to a dirt road, that lead through a path through the trees. A road meant civilization, and civilization will lead to help. Pressing his hand against his side, he took a deep breath and began his journey into the unknown.

Jackson looked up from his computer and noticed it was already after two in the morning. Sleep was something that Jackson hasn’t received much of since Chambers disappeared. He has spent the past few days viewing and reviewing these open cases of missing persons without any success. “How can I find answers when I don’t even know the questions?” Jackson thought while rubbing his eyes. He wasn’t even sure if these cases had anything in common to begin with. Doubt began to set in as he reached over to turn off the monitor and make his way to bed. Maybe the questions will come tomorrow. Maybe.


Chapter 6: More and more questions

September 1, 2008

When none of the pieces fit…

This isn’t what he had planned. He hoped to be sitting down with Chambers reviewing the documentation he had on a missing person’s case, but now he is reviewing interview notes on Chambers himself. Sergeant Jackson needed coffee. A lot of coffee.

He naturally assumed the investigation into Chambers disappearance simply because he was first on the scene. It wasn’t until later in the day when he was officially put in charge. Delegating others to handle the interviews and crime scene investigation, Jackson had time on his hand to ponder on tho “why” – why would somebody do this? The initial interviews revealed nothing as to who let alone why. Everyone seemed to have an alibi. They always seem to have an alibi.

Putting the notes aside, Jackson powered up his computer to look at the prior investigations Chambers was working on recently, searching to see if maybe a clue could be found there. The last case he was working on centered around a missing girl named Barbara Jenkins in Kentucky. Barbara had spent the afternoon frolicking in the leaves a month ago when she disappeared. Chambers focused his investigation on the child’s parents and a gentleman named Mark Branson. A search warrant of the Branson house led to the discovery of a secret room in the cellar of the house, large enough to hide a person but small enough to almost miss detection. Inside the room was some knotted rope and a child’s left shoe.

Chambers notes indicated that Mr. Branson later confessed to forcing Barbara to rake up all the leaves in his yard after she messed up all his hard work earlier in the day, and then placed her inside the secret room as punishment for her actions. However, he swore that he did not harm her nor knew where she disappeared to. All he remembered was her whimpering when he closed the door and slid the boxes in front of the wall and then headed up stairs. The fact that Chambers was unable to find the child continued to haunt him even after he was forced to turn the investigation over, causing him to decide on the vacation to clear his mind.

Searching through other open missing person’s files, Jackson came across a report of a wife who disappeared while on vacation in the Denver area. The husband eventually confessed to the crime, but was unable to produce the body. He claimed to have placed her inside the trunk of his car and drove it down to Las Vegas, but when the car was located, the trunk was empty.

Also in Las Vegas, a couple reported that their child disappeared while at College in Georgia. During a holiday weekend, a janitor traumatized and eventually kidnapped the son while the building was empty. He kidnapped him in the middle of the night and locked him inside a faculty supply closet, but some how escaped. The student was never seen again.

After a few hours of reading the numerous reports, Jackson was interrupted with a phone call from Indiana. Sergeant Chambers’s wallet was found along the side of the tracks. Jackson responded, “… but let me guess, no sign of Chambers himself, correct?” Unfortunately, Jackson was right, as he feared. The pattern of many outstanding missing persons cases of late result in the kidnapper being identified, but the victim never surfacing. “Turn that area upside-down,” Jackson demanded before hanging up the phone.

Holding his head in his hands, staring at the computer screen, Jackson struggled with the next course of action. If these cases are actually connected, then how are the victims disappearing? If they managed to escape their captivity, why haven’t they shown up yet? Flipping through the files once again, he identified at least 20 cases where the victim remained at large. It was time to look for a pattern if one existed.