My best friend is missing, she has been gone for almost a year. Her car was found parked in an access road, next to a thick tree line, empty. No evidence of foul play, the police decided she disappeared on her own free will but I know in my gut that is not true. All her belongings are still in her apartment, plus,  she just put fresh groceries in her fridge.  People who plan to disappear don't do things like that. 

I started taking it upon myself to find her, the forest just beyond where her car was left, has be combed through countless times with no evidence and that is when everyone quit looking, everyone but me. I have a sick feeling that she's still alive somewhere and in trouble, I can't abandon her now. 

I comb through that thick forest every chance I get, I usually come back empty handed and defeated, until yesterday. 

I was slowly moving through brush, kicking underneath overgrown weeds and branches when something caught my eye. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a worn down, sun faded journal, the cover was a soft leather which had seen better days. I picked it up for closer examination, little brown pieces of twine were holding it together at the seams, the leather was severely faded but none of it looked water damaged. "Weird" I thought, turning it over and over in my hands. I really wanted to open it and read it but I felt kind of funny about it. Someone's personal thoughts shouldn't be read. "But what if this was one of the missing girls journal?" I thought. 

A few years back is when it started, when people started disappearing in our cozy little town. The first one was Lucy Abraham. Lucy was the type of person that you couldn't help but love, she was a sweet girl, and pretty with her long golden blonde hair and big blue eyes, her smile was infectious, she made people happy, no one can imagine she had any enemies. The whole town panicked when she couldn't be found. They all joined together and combed through that forest all day every day, and always returned empty handed. It was disheartening how not a trace of evidence was ever found. Then, exactly one month to the day, Alexandra Davidson went out for her morning run and never returned. Alex was the school athlete who excelled at every sport and attended college on full athletic scholarships. Now she was a personal trainer at the local gym. Well, now she's gone, vanished. 

It went on like this for 2 years, not quite every month, sometimes there would be two to three months in between vanishings, always young women, between ages 25 to 35, none of them had any other similar traits, no one could confidently make a profile of this person. The police were frustrated, with no leads and nothing to tell the families.  The town was crawling with reporters and people that just wanted to be in the middle of this, it was like a circus came to town. 

I didn't follow it much in the beginning, I knew the girls but I guess I just thought they left.  My best friend, Lily Hudson, had been obsessed with the cases, she got as much info that she could get her hands on and she would study, I don't think she slept at all, just studied. 
I constantly urged her not to go searching the forest by herself, she would agree, mostly to shut me up.  

Then she vanished, and shortly after that it's started dying down, only 4 girls were taken in the last year. It's a good thing too, the police seemed to have given up, they didn't bat an eye or even look up when I reported Lily missing. The searches seemed so half assed now, search parties comb through the woods, yes but it's all so disconnected and half hearted, nobody expects to find anything, and to be fair, they never do. 

I turn my attention back to the book, and wonder how it was missed in the searches, I unsnap the piece of leather that was keeping the pages from flying out. When I saw the first entry, I dropped the book like it had a million spiders crawling out of it, my heart was racing as I stared hard at the book on the ground. I suddenly don't feel I am alone, I quickly scanned the trees and brush around me, no one,
I grab the little book and run to my car, throwing my discovery in the passengers seat and head home. 

The book sat on my kitchen counter for days, I was scared to read it, not sure what horrors would be staring back at me.  Finally, Saturday morning, I sat down with my coffee and opened the front cover. The perfect letters on the page jumped out at me, I dropped the book that day because I recognized the handwriting. 

It was Lily's journal, and I read it.  I can never unsee the horror in her words or the terror she must be feeling if she's still alive. 

I have to share these entries, I have to because if I don't, I'm pretty sure I will go crazy. I already feel like I am starting to lose my grip on reality. 

(To be continued...)