Trail Magic

📅 Published on March 26, 2022

“Trail Magic”

Written by Brandon Faircloth
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
Please wait...

I’ve received copies of the recent writings and recordings of Matthew Calder.  I say “copies” because the originals are still in police custody in connection with several ongoing investigations.  The writing is presented as is—I literally copied and pasted from the original documents, so aside from formatting, it should be fully representative of what Matt wrote.  As for the recordings, I’ve watched them all numerous times over the last week, taking careful notes of anything that seems important.  The summaries of these recordings are written by me as objectively as possible, though I’m aware I’m too close to this for my own emotions and perceptions to not creep in from time to time.

In any case, I’m writing this now out of desperation.  My hope is that by distributing a version of what happened to Matt, someone might come forward with more information or some new idea that I’ve failed to find on my own.  Whether you read this with a mind toward helping or just being entertained by something strange posted on the internet, I ask you to please keep an open mind, and I thank you for your time and attention.


File: TBWM1.DOC Create Date: 3/16/21

Welcome to the inaugural episode (or issue?  Ask Sarah what to call it) of “Trailblazing with Matt,” a new series on your favorite hiking blog.  I’m Matthew Calder, and I’m not just new to the website; I’m also new to long-distance hiking in general.  I’m athletic, and I’ve been on hikes since I was a kid, but nothing more than a few miles at a time.

And that’s kind of the point of this series.  Most of you probably know one of the senior editors on the blog, Sarah Burr.  What you may not know is that Sarah is also my Boo (check with her on if this is tmi or too jokey a tone).  Since we met two years ago, we’ve had a ton of fun introducing each other to new things, and of course, one of the first things she started telling me about was how much she loves long-distance hiking in general and, specifically, thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.

I’ll be honest, the idea of walking and camping for months kind of terrifies me, but that nervousness and fear is what led to us deciding to document our first section hike together: A 72-mile hike through the Smokey Mountain National Park.  We’re starting today out of Fontana Dam and heading north up the Trail with the goal of reaching the other end of the park by next Tuesday or Wednesday.  Between Sarah’s expertise and my burning desire to not give up (especially in front of her), this should be interesting!

While I won’t post any of this until we’re back home, my goal is to document every day and (when we get back) post an article daily until our saga is done.  So if you’re reading this on the blog, check back tomorrow for how my first 24 hours went!


File: TBWM2.DOC Create Date: 3/17/21

Welcome back to Episode Two of Trailblazing with Matt, a series where I, newbie hiker Matthew Calder, go with experienced long-hiker Sarah Burr on a week-long journey across the section of the Appalachian Trail that crosses the Smokey Mountain National Park.

So Day One went great…until it didn’t.  When we started out yesterday morning from the dam, I was full of energy.  By four in the afternoon, however, I was really dragging.  My feet were sore, I was hungry despite snacking most of the day, and the last thing I wanted to do was take an hour to set up a camp.

Lucky for me, Sarah is a pro.  She not only encouraged me, she showed me a good camp prep order while helping me wrestle our tent into shape.  By the time the sun was down, we were resting by the fire listening to the weird night wood noises.  Then before I knew it, I was dead asleep.

This morning I woke up stiff, and my feet were still more tender than I’d have liked, but after half an hour on the Trail, I was feeling great again.  A lot of that is the scenery.  It really is just a beautiful part of the country.  (Insert Pic)

Here’s a shot of the little waterfall we stopped at for lunch.  (Insert Pic) This is Tony, an older guy that has done thru-hikes of the AT several times.  He met us coming the other way as he was heading south on his latest thru-hike.  Really cool dude, though Sarah says starting from Maine in the winter is a little too hardcore even for her.  (Insert Pic) And here’s Sarah waving at me to pick up the pace this afternoon.  She’s using her fancy camera to record my growing fatigue and shame.  (Insert Pic) So yeah, so far, I’m loving the Trail.  About to eat some dinner and get some rest.  Talk to you again tomorrow!


File: TBWM3.DOC Create Date: 3/18/21

Hey guys and girls.  This one is going to be a bit different.  So the night went fine overall.  Colder, but less weird night noises, so all things considered, it wasn’t too bad.  And today had been going well enough, though I can feel my energy level slower to come back compared to yesterday.  Sarah says I need to eat more, and maybe she’s right.

The problems came when Sarah turned on her phone and saw she had a voicemail from work.  I won’t go into details here, but due to some unforeseen consequences, she’s got to leave the section hike and head to Richmond for a few days.  What that means for me is I have a choice to make: Do I leave too, or do I go on without her?

I’ll be honest.  My first reaction was that I was definitely leaving.  I told myself it was to be supportive of her, but this is a work thing with the company that owns the website, and she doesn’t need any support, least of all from the newest contract labor on the blog.  No, truth be told, I’ve been coasting these last three days because I had her as a safety net.  But if I’m going to do this—both for the job and for myself—I need to be able to keep going when I don’t have her to hold my hand.

So I’m staying out here and finishing the hike.  And when she leaves in a few minutes, she promised to let me borrow her badass camera, so you might get a high-def video blog next time (if I don’t break it).


File: JVC1093.mp4 Date Created: 3/19/21 Time: 9:23

Matt starts the video awkwardly, jumping the view around as he fiddles with buttons and settings.  Once he’s satisfied, he turns the lens toward himself, waving into the camera and introducing himself a couple of times in what looks like an attempt at replicating his friendly greetings from the blog posts he had written.  He looks tired and stressed, the dark circles under his eyes undercutting the chipper attitude he’s working to maintain as he walks along the Trail.

He says Sarah got into Richmond safely and that while he’d had some issues setting up camp alone the night before, it had been a good learning experience.  Laughing, he says he learned what not to do, at least.  After glancing down the path, he smiles at the camera and says he’ll record more later on in the day.


File: JVC1094.mp4 Date Created: 3/19/21 Time: 13:39

Matt has stopped for lunch.  He says that the walk has gone okay so far other than getting a bit too close to a rattlesnake before he noticed it.  He smiles nervously and shrugs, saying the snake warned him, and he listened to Mr. Snake.  He tells the camera he should have recorded the big fella, but he didn’t think about it until a few minutes later.  Says his goal is to make fourteen miles today, which would be a major improvement over the prior days and move him past the halfway mark on the section hike.  I can tell from looking at him that he just wants it to be over.


File: JVC1096.mp4 Date Created: 3/19/21 Time: 16:11

Matt comes into frame without his normal forced jolliness.  He looks angry and worried, and it doesn’t take long to figure out why.  He tells the camera that an hour earlier, he had gone to collect water off the path.  When he got close by, he took off his pack and set it down, carrying just the bottles and the camera, as he had wanted to make a video on what Sarah had taught him about the best places to get water.

It was as he reached the water’s edge that he glanced back and saw his pack was gone.  He panicked, looking around to see if it could have rolled under some brush or if he saw anyone around that might have messed with it.  But there was nothing and no one that he could find.

Matt looks genuinely scared as he’s talking into the camera now.  He says everything was in that backpack: his tent, his sleeping bag, and all his food other than a couple of bars in his pants.  But beyond that, the matches, the map, his tablet and his cell phone…they had all been in there too.

Matt laughs with embarrassment, saying he feels like a big baby getting so freaked out when he’s traveling a marked trail, but it’s so big, and aside from the white blaze marks that traced the Trail route, he has no real idea of where to go or what was coming up when.  He knew there were lean-to shelters up ahead, but he wasn’t sure how far it was until the next one, and he had even less idea of how to boil water without matches or get more food.

Sighing, he tells the camera that he’s sorry, and he hopes it isn’t a disappointment, but he was going to have to try and get help the next chance he got.  Without any of his gear, he just needed to find a ranger station or a person and get off the Trail as soon as possible.


File: JVC1097.mp4 Date Created: 3/19/21 Time: 19:29

Matt is using the camera’s night-vision now, and it’s apparent from his surroundings that he’s found a small wooden shelter to spend the night in.  While it’s clear he’s grateful for the place to rest, it’s also obvious he’s considerably more worried than before, as he’s yet to find a station or run across other people, despite them having seen other hikers several times on the first few days of the trip.

The one bright point of the evening was Matt’s first experience with “Trail Magic,” a term he said he’d initially learned from Sarah but had later found was a common experience during long-distance hiking. He said that from what he’s heard and read, Trail Magic could be a lot of different things.  Sometimes it was just good luck when you needed it or encountering something really special on the Trail.  At other times, and more relevant to Matt at the moment, it would be something left behind by another hiker or a kind-hearted local.  Maybe food or something else of use on the journey ahead.

What Matt had found was a small cooler.  He held it up to the camera, and it was a size and shape I’d associate with small picnics or live fishing bait.  Inside he’d found a bag of trail mix and two bottles of water, all of which looked well-sealed.  Matt notes that normally he wouldn’t eat or drink things he just found out in the woods, sealed or not, but these were not normal times.  And hopefully, he adds, it would give him the energy to walk until he found help in the morning.

He jumps a little at this point as a branch cracks off in the distance.  And when he laughs, his voice is shaky.  Says the nights were still spooky, but he was getting used to them, and at least it wasn’t like a few nights ago.

Crazy as it was, one night he would have sworn he could hear a baby crying.


File: JVC1099.mp4 Date Created: 3/20/21 Time: 14:03

It appears from both the time stamp and Matt’s appearance that he’s already been walking for hours when he turns on the camera this time.  Sitting down next to a tree, he looks exhausted and terrified.  For the sake of accuracy, I’ve transcribed his words in this recording below: I…Fuck, I don’t know.  I fucked up.  I…I didn’t sleep for shit last night, and so I got up when the sun was up and got started.  I kept thinking to myself that I had to be close, right?  Not to the end, no, but to something.  A ranger, a hiker, a damn emergency phone or something, right? But I’ve been walking for hours.  Like, I think it’s been like six or seven hours.  And there’s nothing.  Just more trail, more woods, more fucking nothing.

(Laughs) I’m really trying not to lose my shit, you know?  I know I’m in a national park, and I know plenty of people walk this trail every year.  I’m bound to find something soon, right?

(Shakes his head) I even thought about going backward.  But I don’t know how far it would be until I found something that way either.  I didn’t pay that much attention when I had Sarah, and I haven’t seen anything since she left.  And…and I have to be way over halfway by this point.  Even if…shit, even if I don’t see anything or anyone until I reach the end of the park, it’s way closer to keep going than to try and go back.

I…yeah, this…I don’t know that any of this is going on the blog.  Maybe it would be interesting, or maybe it would just scare people away from trying this.  The thing is, I’m starting to feel less like I’m doing it for the job and more…fuck, I’m starting to feel like I’m making these recordings so there’s a record of what happened to me.

I need to go.  Turn this off and save battery power.  I have a spare left for the camera, but I don’t need to waste it on my whining.  Matt out.


File: JVC1100.mp4 Date Created: 3/20/21 Time: 19:33

Matt is again sitting in what looks like a wooden shelter.  He tells the camera that he considered walking on in the dark, but he doesn’t know how much charge his headlamp has left and when he found this shelter a little while ago, he decided to stop for the night.  The good news is that he’s found some more Trail Magic, this time in the form of a cardboard box containing a small camp stove and a metal pot.

He says the camp stove works, and he was able to boil water and refill both his collection bottles and the water bottles he’d carried from the last shelter.  While there’s some relief in his voice talking about having fresh water, it fades quickly when he confirms he still hasn’t seen any sign of help after walking throughout the afternoon.


File: JVC1099.mp4 Date Created: 3/21/21 Time: 15:19

Matt is walking up to a shelter silently, showing a ten-foot-long wooden floor surrounded by three plank walls and a wooden overhang, much like the limited views we’ve gotten from prior nights in a structure along the Trail.  He pans over to a plastic bin tucked against an inner corner and lets out a rough laugh.

“Great.  More Trail Magic.  I hope they left some food, because I’m fucking starving.” His voice sounds dry and brittle, and when he gets close enough to see what’s in the bin, I can hear him start to cry.

It’s a hunting knife, a flint, and three packs of dried ramen.


File: JVC1101.mp4 Date Created: 3/21/21 Time: 17:25

Matt seems in a little better spirits now.  Lit by a small fire he finally got started with his new tools, he talks about how the ramen was about the best thing he’d ever eaten, though he made a point of saving one for the next day.  He’d been using the extra space he could make in the camera bag to carry stuff up to this point, but now he’s trying to decide if he should carry the bin too or leave something behind.

He’s very muted now, both his words and actions slow as he stares off-camera at the fire he’s made.  He says he still didn’t find anyone today.  That he should reach the edge of the park by late tomorrow unless he’s seriously miscalculated the ground he’s covered, but he doesn’t want to abandon any supplies he might need if the hike lasts past tomorrow.

Staring into the camera, he begins to cry again.

“I just want to go home.”


File: JVC1102.mp4 Date Created: 3/22/21 Time: 18:34

Matt is breathing heavily as he stands over the remnants of shredded wrapping paper and a medium-sized open box.

“This doesn’t make any fucking sense.  None of this makes any fucking sense.”  He then turns the camera toward himself and begins to explain.

So I…I fucking walk all day, okay?  And, and, I should be at the end, or seeing some signs that the end is coming up, but nope.  Just the normal trail markers, the blazes or whatever.  So I finally stop tonight because I find yet another fucking shelter.  And I’m not complaining, right, because someone stole my fucking tent, but how many of these shelters are there going to be?  Because we didn’t see many back when Sarah was with me, and at first I was like, okay, there’s just more on this part of the Trail, right? And then when I started finding the Trail Magic boxes and stuff, I was just happy to find something to eat or drink.

But how am I not done yet?  Or seeing anybody?  And why do all these places have shit that I need? Isn’t that weird?  Fuck, I know I’m starving and exhausted and probably just getting fucked up paranoid, but it feels like someone is messing with me.  But how could they?  How is that even possible?

I…I think in the morning, I’m going to try walking into the woods a little.  Not far, not so far that I lose sight of the shelter, but maybe if someone is leaving presents and shit, they live nearby, or I can get to where I see a road or something.  I don’t know.  I just…I know I can’t do this for much longer.


File: JVC1104.mp4 Date Created: 3/23/21 Time: 7:15

Matt is walking away from the shelter now and moving into the woods behind it.  The sun is up, but the light is still dim as he pushes through some brush and into the trees.  He doesn’t make it far before he notices the gleam of white behind a nearby pair of trees.  As he gets closer, it becomes clear what he’s found.  A small cooler, like you might keep drinks or live bait in.

But not just that.  There are other things strewn out behind the trees as well.

A cardboard box and a plastic bin.

What….what the fuck?  It…I thought it looked the same but…it has to be they just build them all to look the same, right?  I can’t…I can’t be going in a fucking…I’ve been following the Trail the whole time!

The camera shakes as he looks closer at the containers.  If they aren’t the same ones he had found gifts in on prior nights, they are their identical twins.  Matt picks up the cooler and hurls it into the trees with a scream of rage before spinning away and stalking back toward the shelter.  He’s moving so fast now that he almost steps on the thing that has been left on his return path.

A photograph.  An old-fashioned instant film photo that looks untouched by the elements or time. Something that, based on repeated viewings, I’m confident wasn’t there when he left the shelter moments before.

He picks it up and murmurs a curse under his breath, talking to his only companion, the camera, as he shows it the picture.  It’s a photo of Sarah standing on a street corner in what I’ve learned is Richmond, Virginia.  Based on her expression and the angle of the photo, it doesn’t appear she knows the picture has been taken.

“What the fuck is this?”

Matt is almost running back to the shelter now, and as he rounds the corner, the camera spies a new gift that’s been left behind.  A small metal lockbox with a key sticking out of the front.  The view spins and jolts as Matt runs around the shelter, screaming for whoever is behind this to come out, to quit fucking with him.  When no one answers, he goes back to the box and crouches down before turning the key with a trembling hand.  Inside the box there are two items.  The first is a second instant photo.  This only appears in front of the camera for a moment, but a freeze frame shows it was taken in what looks like a hotel room, with both a bed and the edge of a small table in view.  On the bed is Sarah, hands and feet bound, mouth gagged, eyes wide with bleak horror.

Matt might have lost the last of his mind right there, but for the second item.  It’s his cellphone.

Snatching it out of the box, he sets the camera down as he tries turning it on.  After a tense moment of silence, it lights up and beeps, and Matt is heard softly praying for a signal.  He is only partially in frame during the start of this process but moves more into view in what I assume was an attempt to get better reception.  Apparently satisfied, he shakily makes a phone call.

“Come on, baby.  Come on, pick up.  Please be a joke, please pick up.” There’s no answer.

He grips the phone tighter.  Based on the three button presses followed by a fourth higher up, I think this was him trying to call 911.  Again, no answer.

Shaking with fear and frustration, he keeps trying to call someone over and over.  Based on his actions and the overall context, I think he spent the next few minutes trying to reach anyone in his contacts, all with no luck.  At least until the last call, when the phone began to ring.

“Hello?” A voice on the speakerphone, faint but clearly that of a young woman.

“Oh, God.  Lanie?  Can you hear me?”

“Matt?  Is that you?  I can barely hear you, yeah.”

“Lanie, please, please just listen.  I need you to call the police for me.  This is not a joke, okay?  I…My girlfriend, her name is Sarah Burr.  I think she’s in Richmond, Virginia, and someone has her.  Like has kidnapped her and is going to hurt her or something.” He paused for a moment.  “You still there?”

“Yeah.  Yeah, I’m still here.”

“Okay…okay…so, I’m like…I’m in the Smokey Mountain National Park.  On the Appalachian Trail. I’m lost somehow.  So please do two things for me.  Call the police in Richmond and ask them to find her.  Sarah Burr.  And then call the park service for the Smokey Mountain National Park and ask them to come find me.  I’m lost and hungry and I need help.”

“I’m so sorry, Matt.”

Matt seems to recoil slightly at this.  “Sorry?  No, you don’t need to be sorry.  I’m sorry I had to call you.  I swear, I tried everyone else, but you’re the only person that would go through.  I swore I’d leave you alone, and I’m sorry I’m breaking that promise, but if you don’t help, then I think me or Sarah might die.  Someone is doing this to us.  I don’t know who or why, but they are.”

“His name…his name is Bertie.”

“What?  Say that again, Elaine.  What was that?”

A crackle and then, “I said his name is Bertie.”

Matt freezes for a moment before responding.  “Are you…are you saying you put someone up to this?” When the young woman speaks again, her voice is trembling.  “I…I didn’t mean to.  I…a few months after we broke up, my grandmother died.” “Um, yeah, I’m sorry about that.  I heard about it through Stu, and I wanted to call, but I didn’t think I had the right and…but…but I don’t understand.  What does that have to do with what’s happening to Sarah?  What’s happening to me?” “When she died, my grandmother left me something.  She called it Bertie the Cat, but it’s not a cat, not really.  It’s…well, that doesn’t matter.  What matters is five days ago was the anniversary of when my grandmother died.  And that’s when he asked me for a name.” “Lanie, I don’t know what this is but…”

“He asked me for a name, and I’d already decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to give him one.  I didn’t know what he’d do if he got one, and I didn’t want to hurt anyone.  But…”  There’s a pause, and then the woman goes on.  “But when he asked, I thought of you.  I’ve forgiven you for cheating on me. It sucks, but I know it happens to some people.  But…I don’t think I’ve ever forgiven you for lying to me about it.  Never admitting it, even at the end.  Somehow that seemed worse, more disrespectful, than you finding some other girl you liked better or seeing her behind my back.”

“I swear, I never…”

Her voice is colder now.  “Don’t make it worse by lying again now.  Bertie showed me what you did.  It was with this Sarah, wasn’t it?”

Matt’s shoulders slump as he nods bleakly.  “Yeah.  It…it just happened.  I never meant to hurt you.  As shitty as it sounds, it felt like just lying about it was protecting you somehow.”

“That’s convenient.”

“But I swear, I’m sorry.  I really am.  Just…please don’t hurt us.  Or have this guy hurt us.  Call him off.”

There’s a small laugh over the phone.  “Matt, you don’t understand.  I can’t stop him.  I didn’t even want to give him your name, or I don’t think I did.  But once it was in my head…well, a moment later I heard myself saying it.  It was like I was in a dream where I could see what I was doing but not stop it.  I said it, and before I could even try to take it back, he was gone.”

Matt slams his fist into the wooden floor next to the phone.  “What the fuck is wrong with you?  You hire a fucking hitman because an old boyfriend cheated on you?  You’re going to prison, you crazy bitch.  You call this off now, get us both home safely, or you’re fucking dead, you hear me?”

Her voice trembles when she answers.  “He’s not a man.  He’s…not a man.” “Whatever.  Get me out of here.”

“Matt, where do you think you are?”

“At a shelter…stuck in some kind of fucking loop on the Appalachian Trail.  Don’t act like you don’t know where I am.  I don’t know how you’re doing all this, but you know where I fucking am.”

A moment of silence.  “I do, but it’s not there.  He’s showing me where you are.  And you’re…I know this won’t make sense…but you’re inside him.”

“Inside…you really are a crazy fucking bitch.  Listen to…” “He’s taken you somehow, and you’re inside him.  And he’s here with me, but he’s also with her.  And in there with you.  I don’t want to see this, to know this, but he’s showing me anyway.  He says I have to see so I can understand.  I’m sorry.  I told him I only gave him your name, not hers, but I don’t think he cares.  I asked him to make it quick at least, but…he’s just laughing.” Matt goes to yell into the phone again when a shadow falls over him.  Looking up, his face contorts into a scream as the camera crackles and then dies.

* * * * * *

On March 24th, 2021, Richmond Police began to search for my brother in connection with the brutal murder of Sarah Burr in a downtown hotel room.  The cleaning staff had found her bound and gagged, tortured and butchered with a large hunting knife.  While there were no witnesses to my brother being in the hotel room or Richmond at all, his fingerprints were the only ones found on the murder weapon.  My understanding is that the current theory is that my brother somehow followed Sarah to Richmond, murdered her, and wrote and filmed a bizarre narrative of being “lost in the woods” to try and create some kind of demented alibi.  As of me writing this, he has still not been found.

What was found was his cellphone, his tablet, and the camera, all in a neat little stack inside one of the shelters along the Trail.  There’s no explanation for how they got there, particularly since they were located miles away from the point that Sarah left the Trail to head for Richmond.

The other thing that the investigators have failed to explain is why there’s no record of Matt using his cell to try and call people or his lengthy phone conversation with the woman, which I know would have been his ex-girlfriend, Elaine Roman.  Police claim to have checked her phone records as well as Matt’s, but there was no sign of the call being made on either side.  One of the detectives interviewed her over the phone as well, but she supposedly acted surprised that Matt was missing and said she hadn’t spoken to him in well over a year.

Of course, I know that’s bullshit, so I went to talk to her myself.

I’d never met Elaine in person before, but I recognized her when she opened the door.  She didn’t look surprised by my visit or have any real question as to why I was there.  Instead, she just greeted me and gestured for me to sit down on the front porch.  She was all dressed up with her purse in hand, and as she pulled her door shut she warned me she only had a moment before she had to leave for a party.

“So you’re here about Matt, right?”

I tried to keep my expression neutral, but I could feel myself glaring at her.  “You know I am.  What happened to him?”

She rolled her eyes slightly.  “I have no idea.  I told the police the same thing.” “You’re lying.  I saw the video of you talking to him on the phone.” Shaking her head, she gave a small laugh.  “Look, I don’t know what to tell you.  I haven’t seen or talked to him since we broke up.  I’m sorry he’s missing or whatever, but it doesn’t have anything to do with me.” When I stared at her, she looked away and stood up.  “Anyway, I have to be going.  My father just got out of the hospital, and we’re throwing him a welcome home party.” Standing up myself, I could hear the sarcasm in my voice.  “Congratulations.  At least some people are lucky.” Turning back to me, I expected to see anger in Elaine’s face, but instead I saw a mixture of sadness and fear.  “It was more than luck.  He had late-stage Parkinson’s and was dying of sepsis.  Doctors didn’t think he’d last beyond a few more days.  Then he suddenly not only beat the infection but…well, the Parkinson’s is gone.  They’ve run tests and brought in experts, but they have no idea how it happened.” Her lip trembled as she tried to smile.  “I guess there’s just a lot of things that can’t be explained or really understood.” She turned to walk away when I grabbed her arm.  “We’re not do…” I froze as I felt a hand settle on me from behind.  Out of the corner of my eye, I almost thought I saw a white glove on my shoulder, but then the vision was gone while the weight remained.  Elaine didn’t look back, but just gently pried my hand loose from her arm as she spoke.

“Go home.  Please.  And don’t come back.  I’m sorry for what happened to Matt, but it was outside my control.  And…well…I don’t want to see anything happen to you.”  As if to punctuate her point, the invisible thing gripping my shoulder squeezed painfully for a moment before fading away.

I drove back to my hotel and then sat in the car shaking.  I’m no closer to understanding what happened to my brother or Sarah, or what Elaine did to set it in motion.  In some ways, I’m grateful for the dead end, as I’m scared to go on.  But then I think of Matt, lost and alone and terrified in ways I’ve never known.

So I write this to record what I’ve seen and learned.  I’ll post it online in case it can somehow help my brother.  And then I’ll try to ignore the small voice in my heart.  The one that hopes it all comes to nothing—that there are no more leads to chase or trails to go down.

Because I don’t know where those paths lead, the voice tells me.

Or what might be waiting for me at the end.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
Please wait...

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Brandon Faircloth
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Brandon Faircloth

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author Brandon Faircloth:

It Sounds Like a Baby Crying
Average Rating:

It Sounds Like a Baby Crying

The Jackdaw
Average Rating:

The Jackdaw

It Had Three Mouths
Average Rating:

It Had Three Mouths

The Joker’s Wilde
Average Rating:

The Joker’s Wilde

Related Stories:

No posts found.

You Might Also Enjoy:

Uncle Scratch
Average Rating:

Uncle Scratch

Cracked and Broken
Average Rating:

Cracked and Broken

The Chair in the Closet
Average Rating:

The Chair in the Closet

Bad Blood
Average Rating:

Bad Blood

Recommended Reading:

Tenement: A Short Horror Story
Helltown Experiments: Book 1
There's Something Terribly Wrong With My Son
Don't Scream 2: 30 More Tales to Terrify

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
7 months ago

Nice, but it might be better if you make this a “historic” case from, say, 2003, and the videos are on Mini DV tape which you can’t easily transfer to a computer nowadays. If somebody in a missing persons case had modern digital video files that could be clues, they wouldn’t transcribe them, they’d upload them.

Skip to content