June 24, 2016

Missing Rachel - Entry V: Into the Wood

Missing Rachel
Entry V: Into the Wood
Location: The Wood
Date: Friday, June 19th, 2015

As I walked through the wood, I couldn’t help but realize how alone I felt. There wasn’t even a single hooting from an owl or a chirping from a cricket, everything was silent. I had passed a sign that pointed out various campsites and walking paths within the wood a few yards back. There was also a mention of a river and a washroom, but the details were too faded for me to see clearly. My mind wandered back to that man’s house and the tunnels underneath it. Whoever had used it had scribbled notes on this place, notes I couldn’t make out, but I wondered what someone would be doing poking around in those tunnels, and the sewers, and what that person would be doing here.

I traveled down what I hoped to be the main path out of the wood and into town. I came across a trampled pile of dirt and saw a plastic card of some kind sticking out. When I brushed it off and shined the flashlight on it, I was surprised to see it was my credit card. Was I here before? When was that… and what was I doing here? I pocketed the card, even though I wasn’t sure it still worked, and continued down the trail. I came across a fenced off area and could see a dilapidated outbuilding. I needed to find my way around the fence if I wanted to investigate further. I moved forward, coming across a fire pit which still had a few embers burning at the bottom. I had just missed the people here, maybe they would be able to help me… or maybe it was the same person that wrote those notes. I looked around the campsite and spied two folding chairs near the firepit. One was knocked over and there were beer cans spilled on the ground. There was a cheap dome tent that slept two people, with two bedrolls, two backpacks, and a cooler inside. Why would they leave their backpacks?

I tried to find a clue as to which direction they went, only to find some personal effects shoved behind a rock a few meters away. Wait… there was a notebook here too. Inside the cheap, dollar-store notebook was page after worn page of names and lists. None of it made any sense. The newest page contained several names.
Rachel?! Why was her name on this list?! Her’s was the last name on the list and it had a mark beside it in blue ink. The names ‘Daphne’ and ‘Olivia’ had been crossed out in the same blue ink. ‘Cheryl,’ ‘Heather,’ and ‘Rose’ had also been crossed out but these marks looked much older and faded than the others. No, no, Rachel… please be okay. I had to get out of here and get back home, back to Rachel. What the hell was going on and who was this person?!

I couldn’t run but tried to hobble down the path as quickly as possible. I somehow found myself on the other side of the fence and near the dilapidated outbuilding. There was a large hole in the chain link and I was able to squeeze through it. Inside, I found a grimy sink that had a small clean patch in it. There was no one inside and it looked like the washroom hadn’t been used for some time. A musty wooden plank was propped up against one of the stall doors, I wasn’t sure how it was useful, but I took it outside with me. Near the washroom was an old picnic table sat lonely amongst the trees. It had carvings and marks from years of previous campers. I sat down and as I tried to read the names carved into the table, I idly thumbed the knife I’d found in the sewers. With a few crude strokes, I etched a simple design into the wood of the table:
I felt like a teenager, defacing the table with my professions of love and eternity. I realized then that I could hear the babbling of water nearby. There was a small river and I could see some kind of clearing on the other side. The plank I found was long enough to form a crude bridge, but I wasn’t sure if it would hold. I quickly and precariously made my way across the plank to the other side of the river, what I found there was nothing I could fathom. Two bodies… two young women… were half-dug into a hasty, shallow grave between the trees. The younger-looking one was still face-up, her dead eyes gleaming against my flashlight. It was sickening, what kind of person could do this to another living being. They both deserved better than to be dumped in the wood like garbage. I tried to cover them up a bit more and I closed the younger woman’s eyes. I fashioned a crude marker from a couple of twigs and placed it near their heads. I wasn’t sure why I did this but I felt like I had to do something.

I rushed across the plank once more and down the path. This time I stopped for nothing, no exploring the other campsites or going down different trails, I needed to get home. I needed Rachel. I found the same sign that was placed at the beginning of the wood, but this time it was marking the opposite entrance. I had finally found my way out. Once I left, I knew I never wanted to return here again. Through the dense trees, I could finally see some light. I must have been at the edge of the wood, though I wasn’t sure where the path ahead of me led. I could almost feel the cryptic notebook in my pocket as I tried to think about what it could mean. And who had killed those campers? Was it the same person who killed the man in that house and the sewer worker? Though the path ahead of me was less dense, I still felt guarded and wary. Who knew what I would find ahead.