It's an old story. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl painfully rejects boy, who spends years obsessing over her, builds shrine in her basement and stalks her until he finally gets her alone and "rescues" her from her dull, drab, life into a whirlwind – albeit one-sided – romance. You know. That same old tune.
This isn't that girl's story, though. Neither is it the boy's, thank god. Who'd want to read a story from that lunatic's perspective? No, this is the story of an unfortunate bystander, who got caught in the crossfire when it all came crashing down.
That's you, by the way.
We're getting ahead of ourselves.
Your name is Frankie Andershale, and you really shouldn't be involved in this story at all. Or, rather, this story shouldn't involve you at all. The heartbreak, rejection, kidnapping, and murder were always going to take place, with or without you. You were just… an added bonus.
You, Frankie, are a junior at Kimberlane University, home to the Fedderhonks, a mythical (meaning imaginary) beast the Student Union created because their old mascot was deemed "too racist" by the county board. You're majoring in Art, much to your father's displeasure. Your favorite shirt has a picture of Che Guevara on it, even though you know nothing about Cuban history. You're a damn good whistler, and you can solve a Rubix cube in under two minutes. No one's had the heart to tell you that solving a Rubix cube in under two minutes isn't really that impressive, so you continue to bring it up every time you're introduced to anyone new. Unbeknownst to you, it's cost you multiple job offers.
Your best friend is a lovely young woman named Samantha Blaine. Samantha is the Treasurer for the Student Union, a Youth Leader, Entrepreneur, and member of the Fedderhonks' small but valiant lacrosse team. Absolutely none of this is relevant to you right now, because at the point where you stand in this story, Samantha has been missing for two weeks.
The library on the Kimberlane campus is, succinctly, the worst library in your state. It leaks. It creaks. Bits of the building shift independent from the wills of the earth, man, or god. The electricity is ancient and the plumbing is all but non-existent. Kimberlane University, having seen the writing on the wall (in a somewhat literal sense, going by the most recent building inspection), made the decision to digitize almost everything in the building five years ago.
You're sitting in the second floor reading room, trying desperately to remember why you bothered coming to this shithole of a library, when you get a text.
It was Samantha's number. You freeze. What do you do? You want to pick up the phone and call her, demand an explanation, but—should you call the police? Does this make you a witness? What if she's in trouble? What if she's hiding from some lunatic, and that's why she's texting and not calling you?
This is Frankie, right? says the second text.
Your fingers are shaking a little as you type a reply.
yes? is this Samantha
You feel a bit sick, heart leaping in your throat as you wait for a reply.
Hey Frankie look it's been a while, but I need your help
Oh no. You should call the police. You should call the police right now.
what do u need?
You're a goddamn idiot and whatever mess you get in as a result from this is entirely your own fault.
I need a place to stay for a few days
Do your parents still have that house out in the sticks?
You know the one she's talking about.
yeah, you respond. Her reply is almost instantaneous.
I need you to meet me there this weekend
Please come alone :( Its important
It's Thursday. Your parent's vacation home is a day's drive west from here. You stare at the emoticon frowny face, thumbs hovering over the keyboard.
Samantha disappeared without a trace three weeks ago, almost to the day. Her parents, friends, coworkers and teammates were all interrogated by police, to no avail. Her car was still in the dorm's lot. Her purse had still been in its passenger seat when people began to notice she was gone.
There was every reason to call the police, and no reason not to.
Please come alone :( Its important
Your keys slide into the ignition of your Ford pickup, and you begin to make your way west.