I had this laying about on my computer for a good 6 months. Thought I might as well have the grammar checked and put it up here. I can’t really categorize this short story, it’s about love, it’s supernatural, and it’s a crime story too. I would rate it for young adults to mature readers.
John Commeau sighed and stretched his back as he opened the lid of the box which clearly said ‘Mothers’ Sorrows Creek 2011’ He turned the lamp on in the dimly lit, empty office to illuminate the interior of the box on his desk. Inside there was the case file written by the officers on the scene, a cellphone, and a map of the area with specific areas circled in blue sharpie. Commeau picked up the phone and pulled it out of its plastic bag, attaching it to his computer. He looked over his shoulder getting this crazy paranoid feeling. He looked up at the clock, it was late and most people had already left. For a moment he wondered if he would get in too much trouble if his boss found out that he had pulled this from evidence without signing for it. Truth was that he wasn’t supposed to be looking at this at all.
Commeau watched the screen on his computer as it downloaded the data from the cellphone. This was one of the only recovered pieces of evidence in the 2011 case, he reached blindly down into the box and pulled out the case file, he opened it and looked at the pictures of two young men, he knew exactly who they were, Tatum O’Hara and Dallas Ford Jr.. It saddened Commeau to be reminded of what he already knew, that only Tatum had been reported missing by his parents, Dallas had officially never had a missing report made, because obviously no one cared, and everyone had of course just assumed that it was a lovers’ spat, that the Ford kid had killed O’Hara in a fit of jealous rage, and then stole a car and left the state.
There had been a million theories, many of which could be found in this case file. The boys were secret lovers, that much had been clear from the evidence. Commeau had not personally worked this case but he remembered some of it well, he remembered the fit that Mrs. O’Hara had had when she had been presented with this knowledge. And Mr. O’Hara had left the station raving and ranting about getting his gun, and filing charges for slander. In the case file the officer who had worked the case had jotted down that the O’Hara’s had not even been aware that their son knew this other kid.
The cops on this case had not been impressed by O’Hara’s temper, and their theories were many, facts were that Tatum’s grades had been dropping, and Dallas had never really bothered with school, and maybe that was why they had tried to elope, to start over fresh? Maybe it wasn’t even connected? There were as many theories as there were questions.
The data was done downloading, and Commeau took a sip of his coffee, maybe he was grasping at straws, but he couldn’t help but feel that this case was eerily similar to the case that had landed on his desk just a couple of days ago. Two campers were just gone like the goddamn forest had just swallowed them… It wasn’t exactly super rare that campers disappeared, it could be bears, it could be a n argument and they left, it could be a whole bunch of things, the common thread for most of these campers was that they were never found again. These two kids were local though, and no local kid had disappeared since the seventies, Commeau remembered when little Petey Fink went missing, the whole goddamn town was in an uproar, the adults back then had been determined to pin it on some drifter, and in the end they had succeeded, the poor man died after a couple of years in prison. But it was still whispered that the drifter was not the killer, he had just been the scapegoat so everyone could go back to feeling good.
Commeau looked at the different numbered video files in the video folder from the phone. What was common for all the other cases was that there was no video evidence, some of them had taken a bunch of pictures of local landmarks and sunsets, but nothing useful for an investigation. He wasn’t really sure that this was any different, but it was the only evidence related to any of the freak disappearances that required a security clearance, so Commeau figured that it had to have something of substance in it. He settled in, feet on the table, paper file in his lap and coffee in his left hand when he clicked ‘play’ on the first file.
15:36 – May 6th – 2011
”Hey,” Tate said aiming the camera at Dallas who frowned, ”Hey man, smile.”
Dallas picked up a little branch and broke it, ”Why are you filming me?”
”Because I want to.” Tate said laughing, ”Hey babe, check it out.” He scooted over to sit next to Dallas, wrapping one arm around the other boy, and the other held the phone, capturing them both in frame. ”My name is Tatum O’Hara,” he giggled and Dallas rolled his eyes, ”And I lied to my parents, Hi mom, Hi dad, I am not on a bike trip with Janet and her friends, I actually ditched my bike behind Mrs. Ford’s trailer.”
”You are such a bad boy,” Dallas laughed.
”I know,” Tate grinned, ”And if I’m caught, I’m gonna tell them you’re a bad influence.” Tate dropped the camera as Dallas pounced on him, the screen went in and out of focus, in the grass, laughter and panting the only sound, and then suddenly the camera was picked up and this time it had Tate dead in center. ”So.. we have all weekend huh?” Dallas said with a snicker, still trying to catch his breath.
”Yeah.” Tate grinned, ”Just you and me.”
”And the monsters in the forest..” Dallas said with his best doomsday voice, and then broke out laughing. He got off of Tate and held out a hand, ”Come on man, we should get deeper into the forest, before we’re discovered by a church picnic or something.”
The recording ended and Commeau felt a little weird having watched that, he felt sorta like he invaded their privacy and hoped that there weren’t any video clips more private than this. It felt weird knowing that the laughing boys in that video were most likely both dead, and it set sorta bad with Commeau that they had felt a need to lie to get away and do what other teenage couples did. But judging from Mr. O’Hara’s reaction Commeau couldn’t really blame them. He got up and went to get another cup of coffee and sat down back. Clicking the next video.
21:45 – May 6th – 2011
”Are you just gonna sit there and play with your phone?” Dallas asked as the camera zoomed in on him sitting by a small fire, beer in hand. ”What are you gonna do when it runs dry?”
”Pfft, I got a spare battery.” Tate grinned behind the camera.
”You’re shitting me.”
”No, Sir.” Tate laughed,
”So,” Dallas rubbed his neck and smiled knowingly, ”What if your dad goes through your phone? You’ll be grounded for life, man.” He took a sip of the beer, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, ”I mean do you really think it’s a good idea to be making videos?”
”Maybe not,” Tate said and then added, ”I just have to make sure he never sees this then.”
”This is nice.” Dallas said watching the fire, ”Now we just need the crazy axe wielding hick to show up.” He laughed.
”Well technically, we haven’t been smoking pot or had sex – yet. So I think he’d wait out in the woods for a good hour or two.” Tate laughed.
”My grandpa used to tell stories about this forest you know.” Dallas grinned and threw a branch on the fire. ”You might not think it, but my family is about as old as the lands here.” He leaned in and looked directly into the camera for dramatic effect, ”They used to hang folks up by Wolf’s rock, cause back then it was known as the Ghost rock, and it was said you could hear cries of pain and agony carried by the wind all the way to the village.”
”Don’t.” Tate whispered.
Dallas laughed amused and held a hand out towards the camera and Tate, ”I’m here to protect you. I promise that no pesky ghosties will get you.”
”Asshole.” Tate grinned.
Dallas leaned over towards Tate and looked up at the camera and the boy behind it with loving eyes and a soft smile, ”Let’s go to Huskins, or Higginson” His smile widened, ”Just you and me, we could go anywhere from there. Come on babe, they won’t suspect a thing before we’re too far away.”
”I – ” Tate said ”What about my finals?”
”Fuck finals.” Dallas stated, ”Imagine if we didn’t have to, uhm.. sneak around.” His smile faltered, ”Or do you want your dad to break your collarbone again?”
”He didn’t mean it.” Tate mumbled sourly.
”Sure he didn’t.” Dallas whispered, clearly not believing a word. He sat up pushing the phone out of Tate’s hand, the image was the dark starlit sky, and Commeau could only hear their voices close to the microphone. ”Think about it,” Dallas mumbled, ”It could be fucking glorious, you wouldn’t have to worry about your dad kicking the shit out of you, and I wouldn’t have to deal with.. my mother. Just you and me, like this forever.” There was a pause with no sound, and then Dallas was heard again, ”Say you’ll think it over.”
”Mmnnn.” Tate purred, ”I promise.”
When the noises got more intimate, Commeau fast forwarded feeling like he was invading on the boys who had clearly forgotten all about the phone’s camera still running.
12:26 – May 7th – 2011
”Dude, check this!” Dallas called, the camera whipped around and focused on the boy pointing at a sign, ”Wolf Rock.”
”No.” Tate just stated.
”I dare you.” Dallas smiled boyish, ”I triple dog dare you, man.”
”Triple dog dare, huh?” Tate laughed.
”Aw come on.” Dallas whined, ”It’ll be fucking cool, I bet you half your stupid friends at school would be too chicken-shit to camp there.” He waved his hands in the air ”On unholy ground… uuuuuh.”
”Jerk.” Tate grinned, but walked closer to Dallas. The camera turned and focused on them both, freckled and smiling, ”Alright this is proof that Dallas dragged me kicking and screaming on his stupid ghost hunt.”
”Wouldn’t it be fucking cool though?” Dallas said, turning his head and kissed Tate quickly on the cheek, ”If we could catch something supernatural on that camera of yours, I am telling there’s real good money in ghost footage.”
Tate shook his head amused, ”Whatever dude, let’s just go.”
”Hey wait,” Dallas said and pulled a pocket knife out, walking over to a tree. Tate walked after him and the camera zoomed in on what Dallas carved into the trunk, he was making a heart with D + T inside.
”Dude, that’s corny as hell.” Tate laughed, ”But I love it.”
”Knew you would,” Dallas stepped away from his masterpiece and folded his arms over his chest, ”’cause you’re a corny motherfucker.” He smiled lovingly at Tate and the camera.
”Like you’re not.” Tate argued back, following Dallas up the trail.
Commeau watched as the video swooped across some trees and the narrow trail, and switched off. He stretched and got up to get more coffee, maybe they ‘had’ run away, it was clear that the Ford kid had entertained the idea, and he wouldn’t hold it against O’Hara junior if he was fed up with his old man, and just left. Hells, Commeau would have left himself if his dad had been an asshole like that.
He poured the coffee and went back to the table, four files left. He lit another cigarette and leaned back in the chair clicking the next video.
18:50 – May 7th – 2011
”Wow.” Dallas spun around in the camera’s lens, ”This place is fucking awesome.” He stopped and grinned at Tate, ”You think the gallows were actually on the rock or around it?” His smile grew, ”wonder if they buried them around here somewhere.”
”I am starting to regret this.” Tate sighed.
”Oh check it, Sorrows’ Creek.” He winked, and pulled his shirt over his head, and kicked off his sneakers.
”Aw don’t be a pussy.” Dallas laughed and dropped his pants and walked stark naked down to the creek, and only two steps out he almost slipped on the rocks, ”Slippery.” He grinned, ”Wet and slippery just like I like it.” He laughed at his own lame joke, and Tate snickered too.
”Are you gonna join me, or film my ass?” Dallas asked, ”Not that I am objecting, I’m just asking.”
”Alright, hang on.” Tate laughed. The camera switched off again.
00:04 – May 8th – 2011
”There it was again.” Tate whispered, his face obscured in darkness inside the tent, ”Dallas, wake up! There’s something outside!” The camera shook as he pushed the other boy sleeping next to him.
”Huh..” Dallas mumbled, blinking confused.
”There’s something outside.” Tate whispered urgently.
”It’s just the ghosts,” Dallas grinned and rolled over on his side again.
”I’m serious,” Tate hissed, pushing Dallas again. ”There is something out there, wake up, man.”
Dallas sat up in the darkness and yawned and sighed. ”Alright, does that thing have a flash?”
”Yeah,” Tate whispered and the camera twisted and turned in the dark till a crystal clear image of a sleeping bag was visible, ”There.”
”Great.” Dallas mumbled, shielding his eyes with his hands from the harsh light, as Tate aimed the camera at him. He leaned forward and unzipped the tent’s entrance, ”Let’s go, Rambo.”
”Wh-what are you doing?” Tate whispered in a frightened tone.
”I’m going outside to look for your fucking ghost, and then I’m gonna tell it to piss off so we can get some sleep.” Dallas said chuckling tired, ”Come on, it’s fucking dark, I need your phone.”
”I’m not staying in here alone.” Tate stated, ”without light.”
”Then come.” Dallas sighed and crawled out of the tent naked.
”Uhm don’t you want your pants?” Tate asked, the camera shaking as he made his way out to the open.
”I don’t think the trees will be offended.” Dallas shook his head, ”Dude,”
”Yeah.. yeah you’re right.” Tate mumbled embarrassed.
”Alright, where did you hear something?” Dallas asked, shielding his eyes against the glare as Tate lifted the camera in his face.
”Sorta all over.” Tate admitted softly.
”Oh well, that narrows it down then.” Dallas sighed deeply. ”Alright let’s go this way,” They walked counterclockwise around the tent, and came up short. ”Probably just some critters thinking that campers have food lying about.” Dallas squinted his eyes in the stark light, ”Come here babe, you look like you just saw Rosie O’Donnell naked, man.” He pulled Tate in for a hug, ”It’s nothing.” He whispered closer to the microphone. The camera flickered in and out of focus and most the dialogue was undecipherable because the recording flipped out in static before it cut off.
Commeau sighed, he couldn’t help but to hope that these boys had just eloped, it was hard not to like them when you saw them like this. Worst part was, really, that he could relate completely, they were not the first local kids who had hid out in the forest for some special alone time. Commeau smiled to himself, he had lost his virginity to a girl named Nora between pine needles and ants.
He clicked on the second to last video.
03:04 – May 8th – 2011
”Tate!” Dallas screamed, the flash searched the dark forest, ”What the hell.” The camera spun around with Dallas, but there was nothing to be seen in the blind. ”Tatum! Answer me man.”
Dallas walked around the tent searching for any sign of where Tate could have gone off to, there were no sounds but Dallas walking and his slightly panicky breathing. ”TATUM!” He screamed once more, ”This better not be a joke.” Dallas mumbled to himself. There was a loud sound of a branch snapping and the camera spun around again, and this time there was a figure. ”There you are, what the hell man?” Dallas said clearly relieved.
For a second he just stood there and watched as Tate walked straight past him and didn’t react to him. ”Tate?” Dallas asked worried, ”Where the hell are you going?” Dallas jogged up to get in front of Tate, ”Wake up.” Dallas grabbed Tate’s shoulder and ”Stop.” He got in front of Tate to cut off his path, ”What the hell is wrong with you?”
A loud splash was heard, and the camera spun around again, but there was nothing other than Tate that continued his bee line towards the creek. ”Tate,” Dallas yelled, ”Stop man, the creek is -”
He didn’t finish before both him and the camera was tossed aside by an invisible force. ”No!” Dallas yelped, ”Own, fuck.” He scrambled to his feet and picked up the phone to navigate in the dark. He sprinted towards Tate again, the camera shaking so hard that it was impossible to see what was really going on, and once more Dallas was pushed, this time even further, he dropped the phone and there was only darkness on the recording but you could hear Dallas sniffle and get to his feet again. Apparently he made one last attempt to stop Tate, and this time the force slammed him into the rock side of the camp. He dropped the phone again and it just stopped recording, Commeau figured that something had pressed on the buttons when Dallas had dropped the phone.
Commeau furrowed his brows and clicked the last video, not sure what the hell he should make of this, did Tatum have a history of sleepwalking? Even so, what the hell was pushing Dallas, because it clearly wasn’t Tatum, not even a grown man could hurl a boy like Dallas that far. Commeau knew the crime scene, he had gone there on several occasions, and he reckoned there’d be more than 26 feet from the creek to the rock side of Wolf Rock. No one could throw a growing boy 26 feet.
07:34 – May 8th – 2011
The camera flickered on, but no one was holding it, it seemed to be lodged up against something which allowed it to film straight out. Commeau could just make out Dallas kneeling by the side of the creek, and he knew from the crime scene photos that it had been where Tatum O’Hara’s body had been recovered. ”NO!” Dallas cried out loud, and for a long time nothing really happened other than static flickering across the recording, which would have made sense if it had been a video tape. A loud beep was heard warning that the phone was running out of battery. Dallas turned around and slowly got to his feet, it was clear that he was in great pain, but the beep had alerted him to the phone, he walked all over to it and picked it up, turning the lens on himself, he was bruised and bleeding, his eyes red from crying. ”Oh fuck.. oh God.. I… Fuck, fuck..” He rambled. He took a deep breath, and fiddled with the phone, calling someone but forgetting or not caring that the recording was still running.
”Hello?” He whispered brokenly, ”I think he’s dead, oh fuck, I don’t know what ha-happened.” Dallas started sobbing in little hysterical gasps of air. ”Oh Tate, I.. come get him…” He sniffled and took a deep breath, listening to what Commeau knew were the police on the other end, because he had the original call transcript in front him, in the paper file. ”Wolf Rock.” Dallas whispered, ”I.. I gotta go.” and then he hung up. Tossing the phone as he stood, and the last recording there was of the Dallas hobbling in through the trees towards the east and then it went black.
Commeau sighed, no one had found a body matching the description of Dallas, but that was not the same as saying he was alive, those forests were huge, and he could have keeled over, or maybe met a bear or something, there was just no way of knowing. Still Commeau found himself wishing that he had made it, and that this was nothing but a nightmare to the kid now.
He closed the file with a sigh, he suddenly understood why these files were classified, he had hoped to find an answer, but he was just left with more questions. The campers whose disappearance he was investigating had camped less than two yards from where Dallas and Tatum had camped the first night, and nowhere near Wolf Rock. Commeau sighed, there had to be a connection, all these disappearances was too similar for it to be a coincidence. He pulled his map out from under the old ’11 files and put it up on the wall, he stood back and studied it, then he took a thumbtack and placed it where Tatum was found, and then one where the other campsite had been. Commeau stood back and shook his head, ”Maybe -” he mumbled to himself and walked straight back to the computer, searching for all the cases with disappearances and camping sites.
An hour later he had a messy map with thumbtacks, but the picture was clear, they were not connected in anyway, actually they were all the way through the forest and up the mountain side, but one thing had him baffled. They were no more than thirty feet from the river. All the abandoned campsites, no exception was located more than thirty feet from Mothers’ Sorrow creek. Commeau felt a shiver go down his back. How was it that urban legend went? That the creek would take someone’s son or daughter once a year, and therefor the name. Now Commeau was a rational man, relying on facts and proof, but this was just too weird for him, totally X-files. He had always just assumed that the rocks were slippery and that was ninety percent of the legend, there was always some idiot who had to cross the creek somewhere and slip or get swept off by the stream in the spring when the mountain snow melted.
But Commeau didn’t stop, he grabbed his pen and the papers he had printed out, and methodically wrote the year atop the thumbnail. And what he found made his skin crawl, there was exactly one a year, some years there were two or three that had died in the creek, somewhere stupid rafters, but some.. Somewhere just gone. Unlike Tatum where a body had been found, most of the time there was just nothing. He flipped through his printed pages, only to learn that the bodies that had been recovered were not harmed in any way, and the coroner couldn’t find any other cause of death than drowning. He thought about Tatum, the kid that was assumed murdered in a jealous rage, but according to the coroner he didn’t sport as much as a bruise. He drowned, and no marks indicated that he was held down or fought. Now Commeau had seen the footage, and he sorta understood why the original officers who had been assigned the case would tamper with the evidence. Because the truth just seemed too bizarre, and small-town cops like himself and his colleagues, dealt in quick facts.
Commeau sighed and stared at the board. And what good would this do him? Was he supposed to write that an angry forest spirit had taken them all? He laughed out loud in the dim lighted room. Yeah, no. He turned and let the printed pages fall into the waste bin, and then he collected all the evidence from the ’11 box, and carefully placed the phone back down and put the lid on. Highlighting all the files on his computer and clicked on the ‘trash’ icon. Deleting Tatum and Dallas from his computer.
He pushed the box to the far end of his table, and opened the report he had been writing. Commeau took a deep breath and wrote; it is assumed that they must have gone to the creek for water or bathing, and the spring thaw and slippery stones surprised them. Nothing seemed out of place at the campsite, Mr. and Mrs. Green’s wallets and gear were intact. The bodies are missing so there is no coroner’s report to rely on.. The case is closed from this department, there has been no crime, and the couple’s belongings will be sent back to their relatives.
He moved the cursor to the top of the page and wrote: ‘Case Inconclusive ‘ by lead investigator John Commeau.
Commeau turned off the computer and the light over his desk before he grabbed the evidence box, carrying it back to storage. He’d come back to take down the map as soon as he got Tatum and Dallas back to their lonely spot under cold cases. Commeau pushed the box back in place, and for a second he patted the cardboard tenderly before he left.
In a spur of the moment thing he went back into the office and ripped the map from the wall, folded it up nicely and put it in his pocket. The reservation was out of his way, but he kept telling himself it was a small detour to make. Even when he shut the door behind him, and walked to his car he told himself that he was just gonna look in on Joe, and maybe, just maybe be slipping the map to the department there. If anyone could see what he saw it would be Joe, or maybe he’d laugh him out of the office, but it was a chance he was willing to take.
Getting in to his car, Commeau just sat there looking at the darkness through his windshield for a moment. He remembered back in their rookie days when Joe had been the laughing stock of them all for insisting that something otherworldly was at play in the forests here, and John had laughed with them. He had never believed in the boogeyman or Bigfoot or whatever it was, he dealt in facts. Not that Joe didn’t, he was good at what he did and graduated with honors, it didn’t stop them from cracking X-file jokes on his behalf. Commeau took a deep breath and started the car. And now it was time for Joe to laugh at him, but it was alright, because after all he had been the one in the wrong.