The Lights Beyond the Straits

An Unusual Investigation


Source: OpenStreetMap
On April 28th, 2015, Hal Usher suddenly went missing. He was last seen heading towards the village of Port Costa, on the Carquinez Strait (see map).
The Village of Port Costa, seen at night from across the strait.
“This is it. This is what it’s come to. I dread the thought of going near that wretched building, but I have no choice. Ethyl draws me there, I don’t care what horrors await me. These may be the last words you ever see from me, but I’m fine with that. To anyone reading this, wishing to finish what I started, I urge you to proceed with caution.”
Artist’s impression of Hal staring across the Carquinez Strait.

Those were Harold Thomas (“Hal”) Usher’s last written words. They were written in a journal, which was itself found almost a week after he went missing. I was the last person to see him, but I really shouldn’t have been. He wasn’t a friend of mine, he wasn’t a friend of a friend of mine, he wasn’t even a casual acquaintance of mine. In fact, I’d only met him once.

He was a tall, slender, and rather handsome man, if a bit disheveled and sloppy in his appearance. He was also a quiet man, and having an artist’s sensibility, he constantly brooded and stewed. Underneath his scruff and flannel lay a sensitive soul — caught between his headstrong San Franciscan idealism, and that certain jadedness we all get after the world beats us down.

Which, in a way, makes the circumstances behind his disappearance much more intriguing. So I dug deeper, and deeper. After I found out enough, I was already in the middle of it. Now, I have no choice — I am going to share Hal’s story with you. Once you’re done reading this, you will know as much about him as I do.

Building in Port Costa, where Hal was last seen.

I should warn you — what you’re about to read is not pretty. It’s not for the easily scared, emotionally weak, or quickly squicked. It takes a certain amount of maturity (both emotional and chronological) to be able to process and deal with what I’m about to show you.

If you still want to know — if you’re ready to know — what happened to Hal, then proceed. But only, as he himself warned, with caution.

Click here to read the rest of Hal’s story in “The Lights Beyond the Straits,” available now on iTunes.

(Mac, iPad or iPhone required)