September 25, 2015
My name is Ruth Warren.
My older brother, Ezekiel Warren, disappeared exactly three years ago. At the end of that year, there were about ninety thousand missing person cases still active. Of those, fifty-five (including my brother’s)1 connected to each other. A Greek letter was painted on the door of each missing person’s house. In some cases whole families disappeared — either all at once or staggered throughout the year. Each family member was given their own letter.
Our house was painted with an alpha.
I’m writing all this today because I just reached a breakthrough.
For the past three years, I’ve been driving around the country and investigating each house I can find. Many are abandoned and rundown. Some are completely gone. I’ve seen various Greek letters but no other connections. I’ve also encountered some other people on the search for their own lost loved ones. They’re all in the same boat as I am. At least the ones that haven’t given up.
And they haven’t given up without reason. Many letters weren’t written in black paint. I’ve seen betas, gammas and deltas lined in blood.
Blood, but never any bodies.
Anyway, back to the breakthrough. I figured out that I was looking through cases from the wrong decade. Instead of sticking to more recent cases, I should go to the beginning. With this new direction in mind, I found the town in which these disappearances originated. A small town called Xenia. I’m on my way there now.
155 cases and counting. There doesn’t seem to be an end to these disappearances. The only thing anyone can agree on is that these are all connected, which Ruth discovered. Maybe she got too close to whatever or whoever is behind this. We met in St. Louis while I was working on this case. The cases already numbered 40 by that time and I was losing too much sleep to mention. We met at one of the houses and she said she would call if she got close to anything, and I said I would do the same.
September 28, 2015
Xenia, Texas is a tiny dot on the map with a forty mile radius from other communities. There’s only one house left standing in Xenia. The rest of the landscape is covered in ash and rubble. And not a single inhabitant roamed, except maybe some ghosts that keep the candles lit inside the surviving house. I scoped out the place. Can’t tell right now if it was a mistake or not.
Xenia made its mark on the news for being terrorized by some sort of large wolf creature. One by one the townspeople got killed. Some bodies were found in the surrounding woods but there was never a sign of a wolf. Whenever the Greek letters started popping up on doors, it became clear that the killer/kidnapper was no wolf. Many people moved out of Xenia before they were the next to be taken away. By 1985, there was no one left and no answers. And the rest of the world lost interest.
The exterior of the house was weathered by biting winds and downpours of rain, but the interior wasn’t dusty or unkempt at all. Someone must be keeping the wooden flooring spotless and tending to the potted hyacinths. It was a quaint one-story home, with a normal bedroom, bathroom and living room all furnished with normal furniture. What wasn’t normal was the closet.
Inside, the walls were covered in photos, each labeled with a letter. No red ones. I tried looking for a familiar face but there were so many that some were even pinned on top of each other. There were also miniatures lining a shelf to the side. Socrates. Aristotle. Pythagoras. Idolized even though they weren’t gods.
I then smelled something. Smoke. Fire. I tore down as many photos as I could and stuffed them inside my backpack. The glint of gold buckles from a satchel on the floor caught my eye. I stuffed that in my bag too.
Fire engulfed the living room. Through a glass window was my only escape route. I threw the pot of hyacinths at it and scrambled through the opening.
Once I got out, I watched as the rest of the house succumbed to the crackling flames. The howling wind helped the fire rage on.2
2What I discovered is that the blood at the crime scene never belonged to the person being kidnapped, but to someone who was previously taken in this manner. It was difficult and took time but we finally got a match: it was her brother’s. I wanted to let her know that he could still be alive and that the chance was high. I was also hoping she might have had a clue to where he could be. It would have put an end to this madness. But I can only carry on.
September 29, 2015
I’m back at home. My walls are now covered with the photos I took.
I found my brother’s. Like the rest, he stood in front of a black background and was smiling. A forced smile. An alpha symbol marked his head — both drawn on the photo itself and inked on his forehead.
I’ve also gone through the satchel. There was only one thing inside. A tape recorder.
The first time I tried to play the tape, it wouldn’t work. There was a piece of paper stuck in the slot. I’ll transcribe what was written on it:
It explained some things, but not enough.
The recording explained a little bit more3:
[28 seconds of silence]
What has one voice, and is four-footed in the morning, two-footed in the afternoon and three-footed at night?
I’m telling you. I don’t know.
That’s a pity. Your sister knew the answer.
Well, she is smarter than I am.
We’ve noticed. But you have at least gone this far as to find our whereabouts.
I just want to find my sister.
She is ours now.
I don’t care. Either tell me where she is or just kill me already since I don’t know the answer to your riddle.
Very well then. We knew you didn’t have a mind we need. This was just a final test — just to make sure.
3Ruth wasn’t the first one to find tapes like this. I have a few and they all go relatively the same. A question is asked. The answers vary from “Fuck off”, to “I don’t know”. No one ever knows the answer. The interviewer just ends the tape before we can discover anything else.
October 1, 2015
I keep looking at all the pictures. So many people.
I’ve stared at Zeke’s face for hours. I have a lot of other pictures of him but I only look at this one. The one with that terrible, fake smile.
I rewatched a video I made after a full year of hunting for answers. It used to comfort me. But now it just reminds me of what I still don’t know. Of what I still haven’t accomplished.
I’ve also listened to the tape over and over again.
Sometimes I hear the man’s voice as Zeke’s instead. And then I start to cry.4
4I also explored the house in Xenia, though it seems I was too late. When I got there, it was already rubble and ash just like everything else around it. But I decided to look anyways and found something. A safe. Fireproof. Possibly waterproof. It was difficult but I managed to open it with power tools and a crowbar. Inside was only one thing: a tape. I quickly got in my car and listened to it. It was a continuation of the tape Ruth transcribed above. It went like this:
[movement of more than one person]
We really expected more of you, John. You would have fit in here. You would have been happy.
How I could I be happy with you psychopaths? Where is my sister?
I’m afraid you’ll never know.
John Carpenter of Fargo, Minnesota, you are absolved.
October 3, 2015
My parents died when I was four years old and Zeke was seven. We were put into many different foster homes but there wasn’t a single one that became permanent.
We took care of each other.
Every school we attended was quick to discover that both of us were above average in most subjects. We took in knowledge like air. Once we bought our first house, the library room was the first to get furnished.
I look at all the books on those shelves now and wonder how they could have possibly cursed us.
Zeke’s a professor but he doesn’t specialize in just one subject. Whenever one class cancels, he moves onto another one.
I don’t have a job. I pretty much read books all the time. The library is my second home. Zeke always told me to do something more with my life.
I just can never figure out what.
October 5, 2015
omega — on the door5
5Ruth had long ago given me her address just in case I could not reach her. After I found out where John Carpenter lived, I came to tell her, to see if she’d made any progress. Too late. The omega on the door. I stepped inside and saw nothing. No sign of struggle or forced entry. Just this journal. Damn shame. I really could have used her help.
I went to Fargo, Minnesota. Nice town, nice people. Asked around for a John Carpenter. Finally one lady said her neighbor’s name was John. I decided to check it out. I went to the address given and there was a man. I asked him who he was and no shit, his name was John Carpenter. I showed him the tape and he had no idea what the hell it was. It sounded just like him. We knew it was him but he had no recollection of the event. He offered to let me spend the night and I accepted. I woke up around 3 a.m. to get some water and he was nowhere to be found. Without hesitation, I left. I don’t know if he left or was taken again but I know I don’t want to end up like that. I’m spending the remainder of the night at the nice hotel right outside of town. Perhaps the daylight will have some answers.
I am writing this in the bathroom. Someone is in my room. Something is, at least. I am going to try and stay quiet.
There’s a window. But the sight I was met with upon drawing back the curtains made me wish I had never seen it.
6That’s where #288’s record ends. I need to seek out more information.