GPS: Destination Death
This story is a series. Keep reading below. If you already read Parts 1, 2 & 3, jump down to where it says Part 4.
The story I’m about to tell you is not my own, but was told to me by a close friend. As far as I know, it’s true. I don’t know. My friend told it to me at a party, where alcohol was involved, so I’ll let you be the judge.
It was a Halloween party. Trish was dressed as a sexy mouse. By this point in the night, one side of her black whiskers was streak-smeared into the shape of a morbid rainbow. Her eyes were glassy, but I could tell she wasn’t all the way drunk, at least not as bad as she could be, because she wasn’t doing that thing yet where she ended her sentences as if they were questions — I’ve had six shotsss? The guy from my sociology class hit on meee? I have to peeee??? You get the picture. Annoying. But we love her.
She’s the one who came up with the title for this story, Destination Death. Said like, DESTINATION DEATH! Try it with me now. GPS: Destination! Death! Picture a kapow shape coming out of a guy’s karate kick, or the deep voice in Mortal Kombat that says “FINISH HIM.”
G. P. S. DESTINATION DEATH!
Anyway, I don’t know how we got on such a light subject for a party, but a small circle of us standing in the kitchen of the apartment started talking about people we knew who had died in high school, and so Trish started telling a story about a party she was supposed to go to…
It was late and Trish was about to go to sleep, but her friend, Sam, started texting her. She wanted Trish to drive her to a party. Not just any party. The “high school party of the century.” She still had their text conversations from that night, couldn’t bring herself to delete them, she said.
Trish told her she was tired, they could go out next weekend, but Sam just wasn’t having it. There was this guy she liked that was going to be there, she had the perfect outfit, this was her moment, yadda yadda.
She didn’t know where the party was, but she was planning on just typing the address into her phone and going from there. It was an address in town. Although they lived in the woods, the town was small, so it wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to get anywhere.
After going back and forth for ten minutes…sleepy, so very sleepy…Trish lost the battle and finally agreed to sneak out and pick her up.
At this point, Trish interrupts her story to tell us that if she had known what was going to happen to her friend, she would have done anything and everything to try and save her, that to this day she feels guilty about what happened, but it’s not like she killed her, you know? And although the cops never found out what happened to Sam, she knew, and to this day it freaks her out.
We still aren’t sure whether or not Trish is one shot of Malibu rum away from ending her statements in question marks when she says this, or if she’s just enjoying the moment of being the center of attention, or what, so we say yeah yeah, ok, of course, ok go on Trish, we know we believe you, keep telling your story.
She meant to pick her up, she really did, it’s just she was so tired — it had been a long week filled with practices and homework and studying for tests — and she couldn’t keep her eyes open.
So after telling Sam she’d pick her up at midnight when her parents were definitely asleep, she ended up falling asleep.
But the next day, Sam was reported missing.
When Trish woke up the next morning, she saw the missed text messages and immediately texted Sam to apologize and ask how the party was. She had gotten more texts from Sam around the time she fell asleep, and then a few selfies of Sam’s outfit, but the texts stopped around 1AM.
Trish went with her family to church around 11. When she checked her phone again around noon, there was still no word from Sam, but she didn’t think anything of it. If anything, she thought Sam was giving her the cool shoulder for falling asleep, making her work a bit to get an update. It wasn’t until evening that Trish became worried enough to call Sam’s home phone.
That’s when she learned from Sam’s mom that Sam was missing.
“Do you know anything, no matter how small, about where she could be, sweetie?”
Trish wanted to help, and she would have spilled her guts about every last detail had Sam’s mom mentioned that she had reported Sam missing to the police, but her mom didn’t. Maybe she assumed Trish would assume she would of course have called the police. But you know what happens when you assume.
And, to be honest, Trish probably should have come to that conclusion. In ordinary circumstances she probably would have — she was a responsible kid after all — but in that moment her head was spinning and the shock of the news clouded her logic.
Again, she would have done anything to help her friend. At that time, she thought that meant covering for Sam’s impromptu overnight at a crush’s house. Sam had too much to drink. Or she hit it off with the guy and they decided to drive to the ocean to watch the sunrise and spend the day at the beach. They lost track of all time, that’s all. There could be any number of reasons why a teenager failed to come home after a night of partying. Embarrassment. Fear. Recklessness.
Deep down Trish knew it didn’t seem right. Disappearing isn’t something she or her friends would do. They wouldn’t want their families to worry. Sneaking out for the occasional party was harmless, but you always woke up in your own bed.
Trish looked back at her text conversation with Sam, scrolling to find the kid’s last name and the address of the party.
She was going to look for, and find, her friend. She had to. God knows Sam was going to need Trish’s help coming up with an alibi to get out of the hot water she’d be in with her mom.
Trish found the address Sam had sent for the party and plugged it into Waze. It looked like it was only 15 minutes away from Trish’s house. Good. She’d go there now, but first she was going to look up this guy, last name Hurd.
The name still gives her chills. She never could have adequately prepared for what she was about to learn.
Google is a beautiful thing.
Mike, Tom, Ben, in order, from oldest to youngest.
Sam had said she was going out to meet the older brother of a kid in their class, who she met online, and had given Trish the last name.
It had to be Tom she was meeting because Tom was the only “older” brother.
Mike Hurd, the oldest, had recently died in a car accident just before leaving for college last year. Trish faintly remembered the tragic news, could recall a vigil held at the town hall, but not in any detail. She didn’t grow up in town, having moved there in middle school, so she didn’t grow up with these kids. Once they got to the high school, everyone mixed and became friends with kids from different towns anyway.
They went to a regional school that served kids from 7 districts. Counterintuitive, right? Small town, massive school.
So, anyway, it had to be Tom because it couldn’t be Ben. Sam was seeing the older brother and you couldn’t be the older brother if you were the youngest brother. Which Ben was. And Mike was dead. So that left Tom. Tom was the older brother of Ben, who must be in their grade. Tom was who she had to find.
How Sam met him online is another question altogether. Maybe Insta? Snapchat?
Trish had the only information she needed. Tom. Where’s Tom?
Later, Trish would realize that yes, she had all the information she needed.
But she was asking all the wrong questions.
She Googled Tom’s name, found him on Instagram, where an email was listed, opened Gmail, and sent him a message with URGENT as the subject line.
The plan was Trish would wait a bit for Tom to respond, but then she was going to track Sam down. Sitting here made her feel helpless. She texted Sam’s phone again. She called. Left voicemails. Still no answer, no call back. It was around 8:30 by then.
Trish was too worried now to keep waiting, but still unsure about whether or not she should rat Sam out and go to her mom with the text messages from the night before. She’d track down Tom in person, first. Hopefully he’d be with Sam or know where Sam was. The only place to start her search was the address Sam sent for the party: 11 Cedar Ridge Lane.
“Mom, I’m going to Target! I forgot I need something for school tomorrow!”
She Googled the address and the Hurd name. Property records connected the two, so she assumed it was the address of the Hurd residence. On the map, it looked like the house was located in one of the older neighborhoods farther back in the woods, but it wasn’t too far away. Sitting in her car, she refreshed Gmail again to see if Tom had responded. Nothing.
She dreaded the thought of going to someone’s house who she didn’t know to search for someone who might not even be there, but what else was she supposed to do? Maybe she could go and scope it out, see if the car Sam described, a black convertible, was in the driveway.
About 5 minutes into the trip, the GPS got tripped up.
“Aww shit,” Trish muttered. It was making her turn around and take a left onto a back road she had just passed.
“Shut up!” Trish made a U-Turn and followed the new route. Her ETA changed from 8:40 to 8:55. Weird.
By now it was almost impossible to see, the sun having set over an hour ago. There were no light poles this far back in the woods since there weren’t really neighborhoods, just houses staggered along the winding road, with long gravel driveways, some houses not even visible from the road. Trish thought Cedar Ridge Lane was the name of a road in one of the developments back here, but maybe she was wrong.
It says it’s right up here, Trish whispered. She saw a white structure off the side of the road. The map showed that she had reached her location. She noticed a small gated entrance just past the building and turned.
Looking through her window to the right, the moon was just bright enough to help her make out a small wooden sign with words and an arrow. She realized she had pulled into what looked like a tiny parking lot. There was one other car parked there, sitting farther past the entrance, but the building was dark.
First Holy Church →
She looked again at her phone. At least she still had service. Still nothing from Sam. She refreshed her email.
YES! He had responded.
Tom, I know I don’t know you, but my friend Sam said she was meeting up with you last night, and now she’s missing. Please respond to this as soon as you get this. Her mom is worried. If you guys are still out you need to come home. Tell Sam to call her mom and let her know she is okay.
Trish, sorry I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know a Sam, and I’m home now…was this email meant for me? Sorry again I can’t help…