I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night. I kept trying to figure out who that woman was on the other end of the phone. Why had she called me to taunt me?
I would have never bothered with the number had I not been investigating my own sister’s disappearance. I was worried and afraid that Detective Phelps would show up at my door again since I had spoken to that woman at the same telephone number as they were tracking it. Even so, I still didn’t want to bother him about the phone call.
Something was off about it, and she was targeting me specifically.
I had to know what was going on. Growing more curious by the minute, I finally got out of bed around five am and went for a walk. I grabbed Pete and hooked him on his leash.
I walked around the neighborhood and through the park until I could gather enough mental capacity to comprehend the oddity that was my life. There weren’t a lot of people out to disturb me walking early in the morning. The sun had barely broken the clouds above me.
I walked along, replaying everything in my brain, still unsure as to why the “Amanda” person, or who I had assumed was Amanda Kline, had reached out to me after my initial phone call. It was a separate mystery from Ellie’s disappearance.
I turned a corner near the park by my house when I saw something odd. The sun was hitting something in front of me, causing it to shine, and when I got closer, I realized it was another missing dog poster. This time brand new.
I looked at the number on the poster, and my stomach felt sick, but also I grew hopeful.
The telephone number was the same as the one on Amanda Kline’s missing poster except for the last digit in the telephone number. Was I crazy in thinking it was connected? I looked around and saw there were other posters. The photo of the dog on the sign was generic and could have quickly been taken off the internet. Even the description of the dog on the poster and how it became missing was generic.
Poodle mix Blk
Last seen near Greyson Park Saturday, November 9, 2018
If you have any information, please call:
Telephone number 330-555-6741
I looked around and then picked up the poster realizing that it too was laminated. I wondered if I should tell Detective Phelps. I decided to keep it to myself for now.
I wasn’t sure about the telephone number. It was just too much of a coincidence.
I got home and turned on the television. My mom was already up making coffee and met me in the kitchen.
“Hungry?” she asked.
“Did you go for a walk?” she asked.
“Yeah, took Pete.”
“I’m glad I don’t like you going out alone anymore. I’m glad we have Pete for your protection.”
She began frying eggs and bacon. I missed this normality with my mom.
We sat watching the news and ate in front of the tv. That was something that was never allowed before Ellie went missing. Mom had grown a bit laxer since Ellie’s disappearance.
A news flash came on, and instantly I sat up.
“Rachel Simmons has been missing since early Sunday morning. She was last seen in Greyson Park with friends.” the news lady was saying on TV.
The young girl they were talking about had a similar look to my sister, Ellie. My mom looked away from the television. I knew she was thinking about Ellie. She got up and took our dishes to the kitchen.
Greyson Park. Hmm, I thought. The similarities were too odd, and the girl looked like Ellie. Could those posters have anything to do with the missing girl? I took a deep breath and then pretended to be tired and went back to my room.
I called the number on the missing poster. This time I blocked my number so the person receiving the call wouldn’t see who the caller was. The telephone rang and rang, and there was no answer. Then as I was about to hang up, the voicemail came on.
Hi, Rachel here, I can’t come to the phone, but if you leave your name and number, I’ll call you back. Thanks bye!
I had to be losing my mind. The voice, the voice on the other end of the phone was Ellie’s. I knew her voice anywhere.
I didn’t want to tell my mom, in case I was wrong, but I had to tell someone with authority. Reluctantly, I called Detective Phelps.
He answered the phone as gruff as he sounded the day I spoke to him last.
When I recounted the story to him, he seemed concerned.
He asked if I could meet him somewhere quiet.
I agreed to meet him at a coffee shop at the end of our street.
It was a small little place, with not much going for it except it was usually empty except for a few students from the nearby college campus.
“So, the person called you Friday evening at what time?”
“Eleven or so.”
Detective Phelps was severe and methodical about his recording of my story.
“What did the person say?”
I retold what was said, and he looked at me, puzzled for a moment, and then looked down at his notepad. He was old school and wrote everything down in a tiny notebook and number 2 pencil.
“I asked you not to try and take matters into your own hand. Why didn’t you call me if you suspected something with the missing girl and a link between your sister?”
I shrugged, “I didn’t think you would believe me.”
“It isn’t that I don’t believe you, but these types of people can be dangerous. Surely, you understand that.”
“I just want to help find my sister.”
There was a desperation in my voice that he seemed to empathize with me. He took a deep breath rubbing his chin.
“Do me a favor. If you want to help out, let me know if you find any other clues. I’m not saying go off on your own and start another investigation, but if you see or notice anything strange, don’t hesitate to let me know.”
He stood and patted my shoulder.
“Jack, we’ll find your sister.”
I had not lost hope.
Later that week, I was studying for a math exam in study hall when I saw a girl standing outside of my classroom. She had long dark hair and was wearing a plain pink t-shirt. She had her head away from me, but if I had to guess, she was my sister, Ellie.
I bolted for the door of my classroom, and when she saw me, she disappeared into the bathroom.
I didn’t wait; I just went in.
Two girls were yelling at me. “This isn’t the unisex bathroom! What do you think you are doing?”
“Did you see a girl wearing a pink t-shirt run in here?”
They looked at each other and shook their heads.
There was a stall door at the end of the bathroom that someone was in, and I peeked down and saw a girl’s shoes. I didn’t care if I upset the person, I peeked under the door. It wasn’t Ellie, but a girl screamed as she was holding out a tampon.
“Sorry!” I yelled and ran back out.
I know I saw my sister unless I was going crazy.
I got home, and my parents had not made it there yet, Brianna was sitting on the porch.
I walked up to her.
“Hey,” I looked down at her.
“Something happened to me today, but you won’t believe me.”
She had tears running down her face.
“What is it?”
“Ellie called me.”
I looked down at my sister. I believed her.
“I believe you.”
“She said, ‘Bri stop trying to find me’ there was something about her voice. It was I dunno..”
“What? Tell me, Brianna!”
“She sounded like she didn’t care. She sounded like she was mad at me.”
“That wasn’t Ellie then. Ellie would never be that way.”
“No, Jack, it was Ellie.”
But it couldn’t have been Ellie.
Our sister was found two days later. They said that whoever killed our sister, possibly drugged her, sexually assaulted her, and then to add insult to injury burnt her, most likely while she was still alive. There were no real remains of her body except for teeth that were found at the crime scene.
My parents were dead to the world once they received the news of my sister’s murder. Our lives would never be the same again. A dark cloud hung over raining upon us after that day.
That was nearly a year ago now.
Then something happened the other day, that made me take pause.
I was sitting at my desk studying for my science class at the local university. My life had gotten back to normal for the most part.
I got a message on my phone that it was time to go to work. My buddy, Aaron, had helped me get a part-time job working the night shift at a local gas station in town.
If Aaron didn’t remind me, I often got too into my studies and forgot to go into work on time. He worked the second shift, and I worked the third shift. Like two ships in the night, we had just enough time to catch up as he was leaving and as I was arriving.
I grabbed my bookbag and my car keys and headed out the door. I managed to change my clothes when I got to the “Gasoline Alley,” and as I walked towards the door, I saw Aaron, he smirked when he saw me.
“Hey, Jim said we don’t have to stack tonight.”
I looked at him shocked because Tuesday nights were always the nights I got stuck stacking the beer in the back.
“Shipment didn’t come in today. Guess tomorrow it will be here. So tomorrow it is that night shift staff’s issue.” He laughed, and we high fived each other, and Aaron left me alone for my third shift.
I could use a break for once, so I pulled out my Biology book and got comfortable. Tuesday nights were always dull.
It was just after midnight, and I put the “BE RIGHT BACK IN FIVE” sign on the counter. I was walking towards the back when I saw a reflection in the glass window. I turned around, expecting to see a customer walking up to the counter.
Instead, the person, who I identified as a young woman walked over to the board we had on a wall over the magazine rack.
She was hanging up a poster.
I looked at her, she was tall, thin but had stringy blonde hair. I couldn’t help but stare at her. There was something about her. I didn’t want to hover, but I looked over her shoulder from where I was standing at the counter.
“Can I help you?”
The woman didn’t say anything, and after hanging the poster, she walked out.
I shrugged it off. I needed to piss real bad, but then something made me walk over to see what it was.
I wish I could tell you how I felt looking at it. I felt like I was living in some kind of episode of the Twilight Zone.
It was a LOST DOG poster. Laminated just as the others had been.
There in front of me was a photo of my sister, Ellie, holding a white Bichon. Long blonde hair now, instead of dark hair, but unless it was a ghost, it was my sister, Ellie.