House of Memories
DescriptionA man seeks to find clues about several disappearances in a remote area. He finds them.
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1: The RoadsDriving through scarcely occupied roads in these mountains would usually be a peaceful and relaxing contrast to the loud obnoxious life in the city Alan had come from. This time however, he was on edge. He didn't know what he might stumble upon after all the research he had done. Finding that more than a dozen people disappeared on this very road over the course of a century kept him in a state of alert which made the calm ambiance of nature feel uninviting. Many years ago, this was the only road transferring from state to state for hundreds of miles. That was, when the main highway was put in, this road effectively had almost all the traffic taken. Many businesses went under within a year. As a result, the road was now under maintained and deserted. Alan had been driving for the better part of the day from each of the last known locations of the missing people, attempting to find clues as well as form a radius from with which to work. Alan was by no means a detective, but he was addicted to solving puzzles, and quite bored. Although somewhat on edge, he certainly did not expect to really find danger just by taking a drive and analyzing facts. Alan had won 400 million dollars from the lottery a few years back. He had spent the better part of six months figuring out patterns in the system until he was confident the next drawing could only be one of thirty combinations. So, he simply bought thirty tickets. After setting his family and friends up financially, he began to feel bored. He realized that during those six months, he was enthralled with the puzzle of the lottery and decided to seek out other puzzles. However, though he did find other puzzles and solved them, there was something missing. He would read mystery novels only to figure out the ending as well as possible plot twists within the first quarter of the novel. He watched crime dramas only to see the ending within five to ten minutes. He quickly realized that he desired reward for solving difficult puzzles. While he enjoyed solving the mystery, he was a rather selfish man. That was when he read the newspaper one day to see a story of a small girl having been kidnapped from an elementary school. The girl had vanished from a playground during recess. Extensive searches of school grounds were conducted only to find nothing that could indicate what had happened to her. It was thought that the child had been taken from the playground and was now far away from the school. Almost immediately, he was intrigued. Alan had managed to convince the child's family that he was a private detective, looking to establish a name and would look into their case for free as long as they agreed to help promote him with good reviews. Alan didn't give his real name and actually had no interest in establishing any name whatsoever. This gave him access to the security camera footage from the school the parents had demanded when all police efforts had failed. Upon reviewing the footage, he found that indeed it seemed the girl had vanished from the fenced in playground. The girl had been near one of the buildings in the back when she suddenly seemed interested in something just out of sight of the camera. That was when she walked off in that direction and was not seen again. The teachers supervising the playground had not noticed her disappearance until a few hours later when they were getting ready to leave for the day and saw the girl's backpack and lunch still at the back of the classroom. Alan began watching everyone and pinpointing their exact routes throughout the school. The cameras did not show the insides of classrooms nor did they give enough angles to allow seeing the entirety of the school's layout, so he called up an old friend who had been an architect and asked what the best way to get building layouts for schools. After Alan's generous donation, his friend was all too happy to make some requests with his friends and within a few hours, Alan had the full layout of the school to work with. A week passed and he had everyone in the entire school's routes completely mapped out. Of everyone there that day, all of their movements made sense, except one. At one point in the day, a custodian came out of his supply room and instead of cleaning the rooms in a systematic order, going from one room to the neighboring one, he would skip rooms seemingly at random. Finally, he reached the building at the back of the playground rather close to where the girl had gone missing. The custodian had cleaned other rooms at approximately fifteen minutes each, this one however, took him closer to thirty five minutes. At first it seemed the classroom may have just been a bit larger or dirtier but something didn't seem right. The custodian had a large cart for all his supplies he pushed around the entire school. After cleaning that classroom, he went back to his supply closet instead of continuing to clean other areas. This was originally perceived as simply restocking supplies, but once again, he seemed to take longer inside than was necessary. At the end of that day, when the teacher had finally noticed the girl's absence, the custodian joined in the search when teachers everywhere began frantically looking. That was when Alan noticed that the only one to check the supply closet, was the custodian. Alan then looked back at the layout and found that a ladder leading to an attic was found in the supply closet. Alan did not have access to background checks or records of any kind regarding this custodian. The only thing he had to go off of, was the name on the custodian's uniform. After some searching online, he finally came across a social media account that matched the custodian's name, face, and location. The man was single, with very few friends. His few photos revealed almost nothing about him that could help further the trail. This was when Alan decided to look at the parent's social media accounts as well. Their accounts were full of pictures, posts, and friends. It seemed they were quite addicted to their internet lives. Alan went through many photos and eventually, he spotted what he had hoped to find. In the background of one photo taken at a local park, was the custodian. Further more, he stood under a tree with a camera aimed at the family. After looking through many more photos, he found the custodian in the background in two other photos watching the family. Suddenly the moderate suspicion Alan had for the custodian, turned to full blown accusation. So, while he had no proof, he concluded that if the girl could be saved then time was paramount. He had no choice but to rush to the school and talk with the authorities about looking inside the supply closet and the attic it was connected to. After some pleading and convincing based on his suspicions, they reluctantly agreed to check the closet, it seemed the custodian was held in high regard as someone everyone liked. The only ones with the keys to the closet was the principal, and the custodian. The custodian could not be reached so the principal escorted Alan to the supply closet, where they found the ladder leading to a padlocked trap door that was not supposed to be locked. The principal had no key and was surprised by the lock, so Alan knocked on the door trapped door calling for the girl. Alan listened intently for any sound but heard nothing. He had nearly given up when the custodian arrived at the door of the closet with a bag of fast food. That's when Alan heard a fearful whimper coming from the other side of the hatch. The custodian immediately tried to run but another teacher who had been listening tackled him before he could reach the door. She had been up there for seven weeks. Being fed daily doses of sedatives in fast food. His abuse over that period of time had brought her to the edge of becoming feral. Many years of treatment would be required and it's possible she may never make a full recovery. Alan disappeared after making sure the girl was okay and just before the police arrived. The parents did several interviews in the following weeks praising the fake alias Alan had used even though the police told them the name had been a fake and he wasn't a private detective. In his desperation to get to the school and save the girl, Alan had foolishly walked the grounds in angles he knew cameras could see. Now, police were on the lookout for him. Alan laid low and after some time, suspected the police couldn't identify him by the camera alone despite being a big lottery winner. Alan was very thankful he asked not to be featured in any media sources when he had won. That was when Alan realized what he wanted to do with his life even though he had no training or authority to do so. All he had was a lot of money, free time, and an addiction to solving big puzzles with great reward. A few months later, he found a pattern of disappearances in the mountains over the last century from which all investigations eventually ran cold. The one thing he did seem to have, was that he thought perhaps all the disappearances were related whereas investigators in the past never put them together. He rented a car and withdrew cash in order to avoid being trailed before or after this next puzzle was solved. He had been driving from one last know location to the next. At each location, he couldn't discern anything different that the real investigators hadn't and had begun to lose hope when he realized he overlooked a small sign on the side of the road that he had now passed several times going from location to location. The sign read:
Granny Florence Road House Come stay the night at Granny's! She'll take good care of you! Room! Board! Low Prices! Next Exit!