WHERE WE LEFT OFF: Staci and Leon struck out when they tried to interview the locals. Ray, surprisingly, uncovered a pattern: approximately every three years, someone goes missing from town. The disappearances are explained different ways. Not only that, but the local Catholic priest resigned after one of the disappearances. He claimed they were the work of a cult in the nearby woods. The gang decided to interview the local priest to find out what happened.
WHERE WE PICK UP:
The next morning, Staci, Leon, Bethany, and Ray head over to the local Catholic parish and ask to speak with the priest. Eventually a middle-aged man who introduces himself as Father Collins comes out. He seems friendly if a bit wary when he sees the camera. Staci quickly explains that they’re shooting a documentary, that they have all of the permits, and they just had a few questions for him. Would he mind sitting down and chatting with them? Father Collins seems unsure, but he agrees.
The camera cuts to the interior of the church. Father Collins is seated in one of the pews and facing the camera. Staci is apparently standing just off screen. Father Collins asks where Ray and Bethany had gone. Staci assures him that they’ll be respectful (although her tone makes it sound as if she isn’t so sure).
They chat for a while, getting his background. He’s been in Garretsburg for the last ten years since the former priest resigned. Staci immediately broaches the subject:
“We understand that the former priest resigned because a little boy went missing?”
Father Collins holds up a hand. “Now hold on. I know that it’s become acceptable to assume that we priests are always involved in nefarious plots against little kids, but Father Anderson had nothing to do with his disappearance. He simply became overwhelmed and suffered a mental breakdown.”
“No, we understand that. But didn’t he claim that there was some sort of cult out in the woods?” Staci asks.
Father Collins snorts. “Ridiculous. Like I said, I’ve been here ten years and I haven’t seen any evidence of a cult.”
“So why did Father Anderson think there was one here?”
“Because of the little boy. His name was Tyler Engler and he belonged to our parish. Father Anderson was very close to the Engler family and he took the disappearance hard. When the sheriff ran out of leads, Father Anderson started his own ‘investigation.’ His only theory was the so-called cult.”
“What evidence did he have?” Staci asks.
Father Collins laughs. “”Evidence’ is too generous. ‘Conjecture’ and ‘guesses’ is even too strong. He spotted what he thought was a pattern and ran with it. Before too long, he was so worked up he just . . . snapped. Listen, I don’t know what this school project is you’re working on, but if it has anything to do with Father Anderson, you’re only going to wind up disappointed.”
The camera cuts to Staci and Leon waiting out in the parking lot afterwards. Ray and Bethany jog up to the car.
“Where were you two?” Staci demands. “If you two snuck off to—”
“Hey, come on, give us some credit,” Ray says. “While you two were playing nice with Father Collins, we did some digging on our own. I distracted the parish secretary and Bethany found Father Anderson’s contact number. Why ask his replacement when you can ask the real deal?”
Staci squeals and hugs Ray. But their celebration is cut short when Leon notices the sheriff’s car parked down the block. They can’t see if someone’s in the front seat or not, but Leon suggests they get out of there.
The camera switches back on late at night in the motel room. Someone is pounding on the door. Staci turns to Leon and asks if he knows what’s going on. The camera drops onto the bed (still pointed at the door, of course). Leon creeps over to the door and opens it.
Standing outside is a bedraggled looking middle-aged man. He seems twitchy and a little off. Leon demands to know who he is.
“What do you mean? You called me!” the man says.
Staci creeps around Leon. “Father Anderson?”
The man nods. “Who else? So are you here to reveal the truth? Is someone finally going to listen to me?”
“Come in,” Staci says. She then pounds on the wall.
A second later, Ray and Bethany come into the room. Leon retrieves the camera and gets it pointed at Father Anderson.
“So what can you tell us about this ‘cult?'” Staci asks.
Father Anderson collapses onto the bed and coughs. “I hear doubt in your voice, young lady. But I had to come anyway. For Tyler. His disappearance is my fault.”
“Why do you say that?” Staci asks.
“Because I ignored the signs around me. Because I didn’t pay attention to the evil that’s boiling right under the surface.” He coughs again.
“Let’s jettison the poetry, okay?” Ray says.
Bethany elbows him.
“I don’t blame anyone for being skeptical, but Garretsburg has been poisoned for a long time and no one knows.” Another long cough. “No one but me.”
“Why? What’s going on here?” Staci asks.
“Do you know about the pattern?” Father Anderson asks.
“1,008 days,” Ray says.
Father Anderson nods. “Three lunar years. Precisely. And the pattern is about to restart soon. That’s why I came back when you called. That’s why…”
He breaks down in a coughing fit. As he does, the footage goes blurry and begins to break down. It stutters and skips, odd screeching noises cutting through the frantic sounds of Staci and Leon. It’s hard to tell what’s happening exactly, but it looks as though Father Anderson is having some sort of seizure. He collapses off the bed before the footage goes to static and then nothing.
So what happened? You’ll have to wait until next week to find out for sure!