After making a copy of the picture, I took the contents of the package I’d received to the police. Just as I had figured, the fingertips were much too damaged for any kind of identification. They checked the box itself for DNA, but it was of course wiped clean before being sent to me; the only fingerprints on it were from mail personnel, who all checked out. They said they would keep the investigation open, but that was the same thing they’d said so long before then. I definitively decided I was going to check it out myself.
I told my wife that I had to go out of state to do some research for my current project. I’m pretty sure she knew I was lying, but she let me go without too much of a fight. Not wanting to leave my family without their primary protector, we set up an elaborate plan to transport each of our kids to different places; our daughter went to my sister’s house in Wisconsin, and our son went to my wife’s parents back in California. I say elaborate because we had other people help out with decoy cars in the respective states for each trip to make certain they weren’t followed. Once I felt that my kids were safe, I made sure my wife was comfortable staying home alone, which she assured me she was. I made sure she had ready and immediate access to the gun we kept in the house, just in case, and I set off for the midwest.
After just about 15 hours of driving, I arrived to the small town that was home to Daisy’s Diner, which I decided would be my first stop. I pulled into the lot that I hadn’t been in since the car was first broken into. It was dirtier than I remembered; the lot was littered with assorted garbage. This time, I parked directly in front of the large windows of the building, so I could see my car from the inside. I walked into the restaurant and the first thing I saw was the same waitress that served my family and I during the first visit, only this time I took note of her name, Roberta. There were a few other people in the restaurant; two men eating together at a booth, a man and woman eating together at another booth, and three men eating separately at the counter. I didn’t recognize any of them. By her demeanor, I determined that Roberta didn’t remember me from our previous meeting. I sat down and she asked what I wanted to drink. I told her I wasn’t there for a meal.
I took out the copy I’d made of the picture of the little girl and asked Roberta if by some miracle, she had any idea who the girl in the picture was. She looked at it for what seemed like a long time, but ended up telling me she didn’t recognize her. As she handed me the photo back, one of the patrons said loudly *”what the hell is going on out there?”* I looked to him, and saw he was directing his attention outside. I spun around, and there was a hooded man standing at the driver’s side door of my car. I immediately got up and ran outside; as soon as I got to the door the man took off running.
I gave chase around the corner of Daisy’s and that’s where I blacked out. The last thing I remember seeing was a mask under a hood, and something solid hitting me across the side of the head, knocking me unconscious.
When I woke up, I was in the dark. I wasn’t bound or gagged in any way, but I couldn’t discern my surroundings. I found myself able to stand up straight, and when I did, about 25 televisions all turned on at once. The were all showing static, with the volume on full blast. I yelled *”HELLO?!”* at the top of my lungs, but the sound of my voice was drowned out by the static.Then, so suddenly that it made me jump, each of the screens changed to a picture. It was the same room I’d seen in the video of the murder of the little girl. The same white sheet was hanging up, draping onto the floor, though this time, blood stained the bottom portion of the sheet. I assumed it was the little girl’s blood, but I had no way to know if that was his only victim. Somehow I doubted it.
A man came in the frame, but kept his back to me for the entirety of the video. He spoke to me in a high-pitched, yet gravelly voice. The best way I can describe his tone is that it was childlike. He spoke like an excited kid.
“Hi Katie’s daddy. I’m glad you got my present. I don’t wanna do no harm to your daughter the great artist, I just want her to be my friend and draw me pictures! I sent back the ones that weren’t my favorite but I’ve kept the ones that are my favorites and those are mine now. All I want is a friendship with Katie. Katie Katie Katie. She’s such a very good artist. [Now more angrily] But you won’t let her be friends with me! You’re making me get you out of the way and I don’t want to do that because friends don’t hurt friends daddy’s! I want to be a good friend and not a bad friend! So, I’m going to make this simple. Simple simple easy peasy.If you promise to let your daughter the artist be my friend, I’ll leave you alone. But if you still won’t be nice, I’m gonna get really angry. Do you promise to be nice?”
I muttered out ”Y–yes?” unsure as to if this was a video or a live feed, or if I was being watched or not.
There were moments of silence, and then he spoke again, this time calmed down.
”Good. But since you were such a meany pants, I’m not gonna tell you how to get out!” Then he let out this sickening, childlike laughter. Then, the video simply cut off.
Now once again in complete darkness, I felt the walls around me for some kind of door. I had noticed that behind the televisions the space went farther back than I could see. I tried my best to move the TV’s, but there were some old, 50-60” sets that couldn’t be easily moved. I then thought to feel around the ceiling, which was just above my head, and at one point, I was able to push up, and sunlight slipped in through the cracks.
Locked by nothing but a flimsy latch, I quickly got out and found myself in the middle of a large forest. There was a bag next to the hatch door that had all of my belongings in it. I took out my phone, which had as little signal as possible while still actually having some, and used its built-in compass after unsuccessfully trying to place a call to 911. After walking west (not sure why I picked that direction to head in) for about an hour and a half, I came to a road. Then after going North for another 45 or so minutes, a truck pulled up and asked where I was headed. I told him Daisy’s Diner.
At that point, we were only about a half hour from the restaurant. I guess I’d walked in the right direction after all. The man was quiet, and didn’t ask me any question’s, much to my appreciation. He dropped me off at Daisy’s and nodded his head as a goodbye, shaking his head at my offer of gas money for the help, then sped off. I got in my car and looked in the mirror, I had a cut on my forehead that had been stitched up and cared for, but it still hurt like a sonofabitch.
I realized that I finally had a signal on my phone so I called the police. They came to me, and I took them back to the place I was held. The first thing they told me was that there wasn’t anything in any direction for miles. No businesses, houses, cabins, nothing. They searched the hatch I had been in, but found all the televisions to be smashed, and the cords cut. They searched behind the TV’s, where I had suspected there of being a tunnel, but just around a small bend it stopped. It’s like it was the beginning of a tunnel that never got finished. They again took a report, and examined my injury, saying it had been properly stitched and treated. In the end, I was dropped off at my car at Daisy’s and told I would be called with any further information, as they would be investigating the area around where I was held.
By now, it was starting to get dark, and my head was absolutely killing me, to the point I didn’t feel comfortable driving for too long, so I headed to the only place I knew was close enough for me to get some rest, and the possibility of an answer. I headed back to the motel where I was given the first picture.
When I pulled in, I looked through the window of the front office and saw the man from those years before. I can’t say for sure, but it almost seemed like when he saw me, he picked up the phone, said a few words, and hung up. At the time I thought it was just me being paranoid, because when I walked in, he didn’t give off any signs of remembrance. He seemed genuinely curious when I brought up what had happened during my first foray at his place of business. After a short back and forth, I got a room for the night, went inside and passed out before I could even take any safety measures. Luckily, I woke up and found that nothing had happened. At least until I went outside.
I exited the room and saw that all four of my tires had been gouged open. All I could do was chuckle, this seemed like such a pathetic action compared to the psychological torture my family and I had endured at his hands before this. I called a local mechanic and he was there within an hour changing all my tires. Then I was back on the road, again taking all the twists and turns I could to make sure I wasn’t being followed. I returned home after about 20 hours of driving and got my family all back together. They had remained unharmed during my absence.
Things went fine for quite a long time. Over a year by my count. Then, one night, I woke up to a knocking on our front door. I got the gun from the safe and approached the door, which was repeating *“knock knock…knock knock”*. I disabled the alarm system, swung the door open and saw that there was a folded up piece of paper on the doormat under a small rock. I stepped over the picture and ran into my front lawn to see who it was, as they couldn’t have gotten far between their last knock and my opening the door. I looked down the street in both directions and saw no one.
I’ll admit I wasn’t quite thinking clearly. Even with the adrenaline, I was still half asleep, and I turned around and walked back to my door. I picked up the piece of paper off the ground and walked in. After closing and locking the door and resetting the alarm, I opened the paper to see which picture it was this time.
This particular picture was a self portrait Katie he done, a full body drawing of herself. The addition to this one was that another thinly drawn version of the stalker was present, holding my daughter’s hand. Katie had written above the photo the word ”ME”, but now, there was a bold X through it, and written next to it was “US”. Thinking it was just another attempt to scare us, I set the picture in a drawer and resolved to call the police, but first I went to check on Katie.
I went up to her room, and pushed open her mostly closed door. I felt the color drain my face, and that ever familiar feeling of my heart sinking to my stomach. But this time it was worse. This time it felt like it never stopped dropping. Katie wasn’t in her bed, and her window was wide open, a breeze blowing in, making her drapes wave. My daughter had been kidnapped.