‘There are horrors beyond life’s edge that we do not suspect, and once in a while man’s evil prying calls them just within our range.’
“The last man on earth sat alone in a room – until there was a knock on the door.’
Chapter 1 – Halloween Weekend 1995
“911- what is your emergency?”
“Yes hi – I think there are some kids in trouble – some teenagers – out by the old railroad bridge!” The voice belonged to a young teenage girl who was clearly out of breath and having difficulty calming herself down enough to even speak coherently. “I think they need help!”
“Okay ma’am, where are you?”
“I’m on the payphone at the old vacant gas station on Minor Road – right by the railroad tracks,” she said.
“What’s your name?”
“Uh, MY name…? I’m Faith – I’m Faith Berry! Can you send help? The police…?”
“Faith, I need to know what type of help to send, okay? I’ll get everyone coming but you have to tell me what’s happened out there.”
The girl’s next rush of information came in a free-flowing blast of verbiage:
“Okay, so my friends and I followed my older sister and three of her friends out to the old 110 Mile Creek Bridge, right? The big steel bridge where everyone parties, do you know it? The police know about it, I know… They keep talking about turning it into a real hiking trail and stuff… so we followed them out there and they didn’t even know we were following and we were about to leave them because they were just hanging out and having fun after the last football game of the year – and our team completely sucked this year- and then they started walking away from us, away from the bridge to those big open cornfields on the other side of the woods, do you know what I’m talking about? Right along Highway 60…?”
‘Yes, we know the spot – and I have deputies on their way to you now… Go on…”
“This is going to sound completely crazy but, beyond the woods where the old tracks go, where it opens up into the first of those huge, flat fields there was… There was a bowling alley – there was a bowling alley there…”
‘Faith, I know the spot you’re talking about. My friends and I used to party out there, too, and we came in from the east so we walked the tracks right by those fields. They’re cornfields – farm fields – there are no structures out there and certainly not any bowling alleys…”
“I know!! That’s why we need the police – or whoever! I know how it sounds…”
‘Okay Faith, what is your age?’
Faith cringed, already fearful in which direction this phone call was headed, but she forced herself to remain calm and answer the dispatcher’s questions.
“I’m fourteen years old,” she said. “I turned fourteen on July 4th – so yay me.”
‘That’s a desolate stretch out there, Faith – are you alone? Are you safe? Is someone with you…?”
“I’m not alone,” Faith said. “I’m not alone – I have two friends with me.”
“Who are the friends, Faith? What are your friends’ names?”
“One’s… One is Billy Kemp. He’s… he’s almost sixteen.”
“Is that Sheriff Kemp’s son…?”
Faith tapped the phone against her forehead.
“Oh my God, WHY is that important?”
‘It’s not important, Faith – it’s just a question.’
“Yes, Billy’s mom is the sheriff,” Faith said. “And that means absolutely nothing with regards to why I’m calling. This is NOT a prank call – I’m not THAT stupid!”
“I understand that. And the other friend…?”
Faith closed her eyes and forced herself to remain cool, calm and cooperative. Although the dispatcher appeared to just be gathering information during the dead period before the authorities arrived, she couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a huge spotlight on her and she was going to be dismissed or scolded for making the call.
“Ellen Myers is my other friend,” Faith said. “Ellen or Ellie – we usually call her that, but – whatever…”
“From Myers Farms…?”
“Yes, her family owns the big farm.”
“Has there been any drinking tonight, Faith? Any smoking…?”
Faith felt herself growing more and more agitated and annoyed as she paced as best she could given the phone’s short cord.
Maybe if she’d had told the dispatcher there had been a car accident or a horrible crash or a fire or something then this would be easier. As it stood, she felt like the dispatcher was equal parts dismissive and annoyed.
“Tons!” She said. “See? You’re right! I am underage, totally alone on a dark country road and drunker than a skunk! I just saw a pickup truck – no, an old white van – drive by and a few minutes ago, for no apparent reason, I stripped all my clothes off so I’m totally naked! The old man in the van offered me some candy and I’m about to get in, so you’d better send help before my disappearance is on your conscience!” From his spot atop an old busted picnic table in the deeper shadows beneath a willow tree, Billy Kemp held his hands up – ‘what the hell’s wrong with you?’ Ellen Myers did some sort of pseudo-sexy dance move and smacked her palm to her face.
‘What happened to the teenagers…? Your sister and her friends – what happened to them?”
“I – we… don’t know! They’re gone… it just, took them – they’re gone!”
‘Wait a minute – Faith, you said IT took them. WHAT took them?”
” The bowling alley…!”
“Sit tight, Faith – help is on the way…”