The Catacombs

There was no earthquake when it appeared. No red moon, or solar flare marked its arrival, or to portent the tragedies to come. It didn’t rise organically either; there was no inch by inch progression of measurable progress. It was not there, and then one day, it was.

No one seemed to notice the change, none of the locals anyways. The farmer who owned the field just harvested around it, the neighbors saw nothing odd about the black obelisk thrusting from the golden wheat into the azure prairie sky. It hadn’t always been, but now it was and in the tradition of stolid farming folk, they just continued with the yearly cycles of planting and plucking.

It was a tourist, of course, who drew the worlds attention. One badly lit photo on the world wide web, and the tiny town of Rosmire was suddenly inundated with the curious, the conspiracy seekers, and the bored. Campsites were filled for months, the tiny town inn’s prices jumping to compete with the most luxurious New York city hotels for their lovely view of Sally the cow, and their decade old comforters.

The government ignored the obvious hoax. Lawmakers, scientists, and military men had far more important things to deal with than some silly tourist attraction.

Or they did, until Leo Morrison disappeared.

Leonard Albrecht Morrison

[Specimen 1.002 Obituary obtained from the Rosmire Daily Tribune]

— — — — —

August 2, 1989 — August 2, 2007

Leo was a beloved son, adored brother, and admired classmate. His curious nature and enthusiastic smile will always be remembered by those who knew him.

Leo was born and raised in Rosmire, and was always front and centre for every event and festival. Even as a child he was always with his mother or father, carrying loads of baked goods to a sale, or handing up a hammer during a barn raising. As he got older he only grew more generous, always happy to lend a hand to anyone who needed it.

Head of the Rosmire Art Club, Leo’s talent will grace the walls of the community center for years to come, as well as the homes of many of our citizens. He was always searching for new inspiration, and often found it in the strangest places. A number of Leo’s paintings have been donated by his parents to be auctioned off, the proceeds going to fund the continuation of the club Leo began four years ago. He is painting for God now.

The funeral will be held this Saturday, September 23rd, 2007 at 1pm. The Morrison family welcomes all to join in remembering this wonderful young man, celebrating his life and his reunion with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Leo Morrison disappeared on August 2, 2007. A massive search was staged, most of the town turning up for the grid search. Local police were stumped. The boy had been low risk, friendly, with no priors or known disagreements with anyone in town. He was single, a loving brother, and deeply involved in the community.

Weeks went by with no sign of the boy, dead or alive. The town grieved, but as they had done with the appearance of the obelisk, they set the disappearance behind them and continued. The harvest waits for no one.

On August 22, 2007, twenty days after Leo’s disappearance, his sister, Hailey, left home one evening and didn’t return. Another man hunt, another failure. The distraught parents begged the police to do more, to do anything to help bring their children back. Stumped, the locals called in the feds, and a pair of black cars, newer than anyone in town was likely to see again, rolled in on August 31, 2007.

Why the government sent four agents to look into two missing, rural kids, I couldn’t tell you. My clearance isn’t high enough to get more than the broad strokes of the story. They came though, and they dug through the town like a fine tooth comb, pulling up every disagreement, disturbance, and grudge.

And finally, two weeks after their arrival, they pulled up a secret. Leslie Twilling, the Morrison girl’s best friend, confessed. Hailey had called her the night before her disappearance, desperate and barely coherent. She had sent her brother to the obelisk. She had asked him to paint it, something beautiful and unique for her when she left for university the next semester. He’d agreed, gathered up his paints, and never been seen again.

The recording of the interview is confusing, full of teenage tears and fumbling confusion.

The obelisk had taken him. She repeated it, just like Hailey was to have done on that last phone call. It took him and she had to go take him back.

She couldn’t answer why she had waited so long to come forward, why Hailey had kept the information from the local police. She died three weeks later, hanging herself in the local jail where she was being held for the murder. Her story made no sense, the locals had argued with the feds. She had to be involved somehow.

No one had understood what she was talking about, then. How could some random protruding rock take a boy? It would be years before the first expedition into the Catacombs, and even after all this time, the mystery of how Leo and Hailey Morrison entered is unsolved. Hailey’s body was recovered by the thirteenth expedition, in area I-431. Leo has never been found.

S. J. Penner·
41 min
37 cards

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