Professor Veronica Weathers, after being told by the police that they couldn’t investigate the disappearance of four college students without further evidence, headed to their last known location. In the little town of Garretsburg, she couldn’t find anyone who would admit to seeing them, but she did find an empty suitcase in the local motel’s dumpster. She also found a camera bag in the woods with a tag on it, identifying it as belonging to one of the students.
Veronica is back in her office and wants to document what she’s found. She shows the camera she found, along with the portable hard drive. She reveals that there were dozens of videos taken around the time that Staci called her cell phone with her frantic voice mail. Veronica has uploaded all of the files onto the department server and she’s going to start going through them…
We cut to the first entry and get our first look at Staci Fowler. She’s around 20 years old, perky and nice looking. She’s seated on a couch in a dorm room, one that obviously belongs to a guy. She smiles at the camera and teases someone she calls Leon about finally getting it working. Leon, who remains off camera, mocks her back.
“At least now I can get to work on my film studies final project,” he says. “But now I have to come up with something to actually film.” He zooms in on Staci. “Wanna make movies with me?”
Staci smirks but then says, “Actually, I have an idea about that. You know I have that big journalism project coming up, right? Why don’t we team up and do a documentary?”
Leon makes a fake snoring sound. Staci picks up a pillow and throws it at Leon.
“Seriously, though, a documentary on what? Isn’t your project supposed to be about politics?”
Staci nods. “Exactly. There’s this girl in my econ class. The other day, she was telling me about some crazy stuff that happened in this town she lived in a while back. It sounded like the perfect thing to investigate. What do you say?”
“I don’t know,” Leon says. “I mean, yeah, I’m supposed to put together a movie, but a documentary? That sounds like a lot of work.”
“Oh,” Staci says. “That’s too bad. Because you know, I asked Bethany to help us on the project and she seemed excited. Just think. The two of you would probably have to spend some time alone together.”
“Oh, come on! That’s not fighting fair, and you know it!”
Staci smiles. “So what do you say?”
Leon sighs. “Fine. What do we do first?”
“Let’s go interview the girl from my econ class and get the story from her.”
The footage cuts to another college-aged girl. We catch our first glimpse of Leon as he clips a microphone to her her shirt. Leon is also twenty years old, a little on the pudgy side and definitely average as far as looks are concerned. He then steps around behind the camera again.
Staci’s voice comes from off camera. “Okay, Lisa, we’re just going to talk about that story you told me in econ, okay?”
Lisa takes a deep breath and nods. She then starts to tell her story, with Staci interjecting questions from time to time:
“Several years ago, my family moved to this little town called Garretsburg. It seemed like a nice enough place at first, very friendly. You know, typical small town.
“My dad, he’s an avid hiker and he couldn’t find any trails or anything nearby. But there was this large wooded property right outside of town. It was a couple of acres with some old rundown buildings in it. Dad thought that it would be perfect as a park. He had some money my gram left him, so he tried to track down the owners to see if they’d be willing to sell it.
“The weird thing is, no on in town seemed to know who the land belonged to. They all knew about it, but whenever Dad would ask about it, he got what he called the royal run-around. He finally found out that the land belonged to the city. He offered to buy it, but the mayor wouldn’t even talk to him. When he tried to track down the records about the land, he found out that they had disappeared. Not only that, but the mayor was becoming really rude to him.
“So when the next election came around, Dad decided to run for mayor. But that wasn’t easy. He said it was like everyone in city hall was against him. They lost his paperwork three different times. His lawn signs kept disappearing. The town newspaper kept misspelling his name.
“Then, when the election was held, the old mayor won in a landslide, which Dad thought was fishy. Sure, he knew he had an uphill battle, but based on what the newspaper reported, it sounded like no one voted for him at all. Dad thought maybe the election was rigged, and so he started making noise about contacting the state’s Attorney General’s office. That’s when the sheriff stopped by and ‘suggested’ that Dad take it easy.
“Two nights later, our house burned down. Strange thing is, none of the smoke alarms went off. Dad took it as a sign that we should just forget about it and get out of town.
“So there you go. That’s my story.”
The camera swings around to Staci. “Sounds like there’s something rotten in Garretsburg. I think we should go find out what.”