SILENT HILL HOME COMING

ALEX SHEPHERD
August 2 It’s hot here. Sweltering. I can barely breathe. But I guess that’s the point. War is hell, right? Why am I writing this? Some of the guys said it would be good for me to communicate with the outside world. Keeps up your morale and improves mental health. Sir, yes, sir. Besides, what else am I gonna do with my free time? Write home? Unfortunately, I can’t tell you where I am. And I can’t tell you what I’m doing here either. All I can tell you is my name, PFC Alex Shepherd. And all you need to know is I’m a million miles from home in the middle of the nowhere, with thousands of people trying to kill me every day. So how did I get here? Well, I guess I should probably explain. August 4 Went on patrol today. That’s pretty much what we do every day. I’d give you the details but a) I’d get court-martialed and b) it’s not that interesting. It’s mostly driving around, keeping your eyes open, looking for bad guys. Most of the time, nothing happens. If something does, I’ll let you know. I said I’d tell you how I got here. I guess there are a lot of reasons. They’re pretty much the same as everybody else’s. Small town, not many choices. Military dad, military son. I’ll get to him later. Don’t have energy right now. But I guess the main reason I joined up was, I wanted to make a difference, do some good. I know it sounds cheesy, but who knows? Maybe I’ll learn something about myself. I’m not trying to be a bad ass or a hero or anything; I just want to do something that matters. August 5 Today it was so hot I thought my skin was gonna melt right off my body. Our tents have A/C but the cool air never stays in. Still, when you go inside any of the mobile CPs, you stay there as long as you can whether you have any business there or not. It feels good.

I used to love the heat. In the summertime my brother and I would spend every second we could at the beach. Our town is on a lake and there were always tourists coming into town to go fishing or boating or whatever. When I was in high school, I would sometimes work at the docks filling gas to make some money. The girls who came there on vacation don’t even get me started talking about girls while I’m stuck out here. Damn, I just got really homesick for a second thinking about summertime. My last summer there, I hung out with my friend Elle pretty much everyday. I could probably write five pages just about her. Just about the coolest chick in the world. We were friends all through high school up until I left, but I haven’t really been in touch with her since. I haven’t really been in touch with anyone. I guess that’s kind of the point. One of the reasons I left. Things weren’t always so great back there. They weren’t always like the summertime. In fact, most of the time, things sucked. To be continued... August 6 We took a patrol through a town about 50 miles from here today. It was like a ghost town. A storm blew through and you could barely see twenty feet in front of your face. Every once in a while some villagers would appear and we would train our weapons on them. They wouldn’t even react. They would just walk right by us as if we weren’t even there. It was spooky. I was glad as hell when we got out of there. That was the first time I ever really felt afraid here. I felt like there was something waiting for me around every corner. I felt vulnerable. The only thing that kept me going was the mission. I’m just glad to be back in my tent now. My dad would have called me weak. He spent fifteen years in the military. Yeah, nothing to live up to there, huh? He tried to groom me to be a soldier for a while, but he pretty much gave up on that after my brother was born. I think it surprised the hell out of him when I enlisted. He probably didn’t think I could do it. Well, here I am. August 8 There’s a local kid here who comes by everyday trying to sell stuff. When he first showed up, the MPs were nervous and searched him to make sure he wasn’t carrying

bombs. But after two days he became everybody’s best friend. He’s got this huge smile and he just charms everybody. He reminds me of my brother Joshua. Everybody loves Joshua. Even when he does something wrong, he never gets in trouble. He just smiles that big smile and gets himself out of it. I remember the day he was born how happy my parents were. It was almost like relief. Joshua’s ten years younger than and I think they were trying to have another kid the entire time so I think they were just glad he was healthy. They pretty much spoiled him from that day on. I didn’t mind it at first, because he and I get along great. But they basically wrote me off after he showed up. Even now, I haven’t received a single letter from them since I left. I don’t bother with mail call. Back in high school, I knew I had to get out of town. That’s something I could never really talk to Elle about. Both our families have been there for generations (get it Shepherd’s Glen? I know, don’t remind me how much it sucks to have the town named after some great-great grandfather of yours) so it’s not an easy thing to discuss. But Elle never really felt that pressure to live up to her family name. She was independent, she did her own thing. No one told her how to live. I loved that. When I left, everything was just so chaotic that I never even got the chance to say goodbye. But I’ve been gone so long now. I don’t even know if she’d remember me. August 9 I saw a guy’s legs get blown off today. He was walking patrol alongside an APC when an anti-personnel mine when off on the side of the road. The top half of his body did a back flip and landed right in front of me. Without thinking, I wrapped a tourniquet around each bloody stump and began to give him CPR. I was at it for an hour before the medics showed up. Then I went around the corner and threw up for twenty minutes. To be continued... August 10 I grew up in a small town. I left because I wanted to make a difference and the people around me were too blind to see that I could. I don't care if I ever go back there, but I'd like the people I do care about to know that in a bad situation I did everything I could to make it better. I'd want them to be proud of me. We're going on a mission tonight. No patrols, no guard duty, a real mission. Militias have taken control of a nearby town and we're going in to clear them out and liberate the civilians living there. We're trained, we're ready, and this is the reason we're here.

August 22 I know it's been a while since my last post. I've been asking them to let me get to a computer, but they kept saying I was too weak. I guess it's kind of obvious I'm not in the field anymore. The last time I wrote, we were just about to deploy in a small town to dislodge the militias that had taken control. It sounded like a good idea. The town was quiet when we entered it. That already made us suspicious. We were entering the town center when small arms fire erupted all around us. A rocket took out our lead vehicle, trapping us. It was an ambush. We called in air support and returned fire. But we were outnumbered. Guys starting get hit all around me. Guys I knew, dying right in front of me. Sgt. Nash pulled us together and we took cover behind a concrete wall. The last thing I remember was the whistle of an incoming rocket and the weight of that concrete wall crashing down on me. A chopper ride and a couple flights later, and I'm back in the States. I don't really remember any of it. Everything went black and I woke up in this military hospital, being wheeled in for surgery. I was in an out for the next few days, dreaming mostly. Even now, I'm not 100%. In fact, writing this has made me exhausted. I'll have to finish the rest later. August 23 They gave me a hard time about using the computer again. I need my rest, they say. That's all I do. Rest. I need at least some connection to the outside world. I found out today that Sgt. Nash is alive and here in the hospital. I'm gonna try to visit him when I get a chance. I'm still in a wheelchair, so it's hard to get around without someone's help. Makes me feel pathetic. I don't know if anyone else made it. Maybe Nash will know. Haven't heard anything from my parents. I don't even know if they know I'm here. To be continued... August 24 I found Sgt. Nash. He's in good shape and remembers a lot about what happened.

As it turns out, the militias were tipped off to our coming that day. The very same villagers we were sent there to protect were keeping tabs on us – our movements, our departure from base, everything. They gave all this information to the militias so they would be ready for us when we got there. They sold us out. Air support arrived shortly after I got hit. They leveled any building the enemy might be hiding in. Choppers came in to make sure everyone got out – wounded, dead or alive. We lost over half our squad. This whole ordeal taught me an important lesson. Instead of paying attention to the task at hand, I got sidetracked, thinking I had to do some sort of "greater good" in order to prove myself or some shit like that. I got caught up in trying to save the world instead of focusing on what was important and sticking to the mission. That kind of thinking costs men their lives. It won't happen again. August 25 The food here is terrible. My bed is stiff. There's only one thing that makes it bearable… The nurses. These girls are incredible. They have these pristine white uniforms cut right above the knee, their breasts spilling out from their shirts. Look, I don't want to sound like a dirtbag or anything, I'm just saying I appreciate the military providing us with this one thing to brighten our days. Maybe it's sort of like payback for getting us stuck in this place to begin with. I don't know. All I can say is, "thank you." August 26 Started my physical therapy today. I'm making it a goal to be walking in a month. They say that's pushing it, but I don't care. I can't stay in this place forever, although I'm not really sure where I'm going next. The physical therapy was grueling. Holding myself by my arms and trying to teach my legs how to walk again. They felt like two big sacks of potatoes. But I kept trying. No matter what, I'm gonna keep trying. I talked to Sgt. Nash again today. He's doing much better and will probably be heading home soon. He's a good man. To be continued... September 2 My days now are filled with exercise, mental and physical exercises to make me stronger. Vitamin shots in the morning, breakfast, physical therapy, lunch, more

physical therapy, dinner, psych evaluations, vaccinations, weigh-ins, muscle measurements, bone density tests and on and on and on. I'm starting to feel like a science experiment. But I am getting stronger. I can hold myself up on my own two feet. At night, I do push-ups on the floor and then climb back into bed. I refuse to waste away in this place. September 8 Sgt. Nash left today. I went down to his room on my crutches to say goodbye. He's heading home for a couple weeks and then they're shipping him back over. He was hoping he could spend more time with his wife and daughter, but they say they need him. It really kind of freaked me out. Is that what they're gonna do when I'm better? Ship me back? I don't think I can go back there. I don't think I can watch people I know dying in front of me again. Nash said something weird before he left. I don't know if he felt betrayed for being sent back into the field so quickly or whether it was a reference to the ambush that put us here in the first place, but he looked at me and he said "Don't trust anyone." September 12 I walked down the hall and back today. All by myself. No crutches, no handrails, nothing. I wish Nash could have seen it. I felt a real sense of accomplishment. But also a sense of dread. What's next? I'll be better soon, and then what will they do with me? To be continued... September 13 Okay, this is gonna be tough. I may ramble a bit. I'm still a bit confused. I'm trying to remember it as best I can but it comes and goes. That's why I need to write it down. I had a nightmare last night. I was here, in the hospital. But it wasn't really the hospital, you know what I mean? It was transformed, like a twisted version of it – everything was the same but kind of upside down. I kept hearing weird noises and sounds like people were being killed. And it was dark. I could barely see anything. And then I saw my brother, Joshua. He was here in the hospital, but every time I got near him he would run away. He talked to me like he didn't know who I was. When I woke up, I was screaming. I wasn't sure if I was awake or not, because I was still in the hospital and it was dark. But then the nurses ran in. I couldn't calm down, so eventually they stuck me with a needle and sedated me. That's why all of this is kind

of a blur. I'm still a little loopy from the drugs. I think I've calmed down but I can't get those images of Joshua out of my head. Why wouldn't he listen to me? Why was he here in the hospital? September 14 I'm feeling a little better today. I've been having trouble sleeping but I'm trying not to let it get in the way of my exercises. My legs are stronger. I'm starting to walk stairs now. When I was back in high school, I remember my friend Elle used to run track. After school you could always see the team circling the gym, running up the stairs to the weight deck then back down the other side. I remember thinking how exhausting it must be to run all those stairs. Now I feel that way after climbing just one flight. But getting stronger is the one thing I have to focus on right now. I don't really want to think about anything else. September 15 I had the dream again. It went on even longer this time. No matter how close I got to Joshua, he always got away. He kept asking me for things, but whatever I got him didn't seem to help. He didn't look good. Something was wrong. I know it was just a dream, but I've had this bad feeling all day long that something's wrong with him. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I just can't shake it. Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow. The doctors are gonna give me something to help me sleep tonight. I'm not so sure I want to. To be continued... September 18 I asked the staff at the hospital to try to get in touch with my parents. I haven't heard from them since I got here. I just want them to leave a message or something, let me know Joshua's okay. I'm sure he is. I just want to know for sure. I can't get better if I'm worried about some stupid dream. September 21 I'm having the dream every night now. I stopped telling the doctors about it. I lie now because every time I tell them, they stick me with another needle to make me sleep. I'm sick of it. And the psychiatrist is at it everyday too, wanting to know all the details, wanting to know if I'm stressed out about anything. Yeah, asshole, I'm stressed out about this stupid dream! I'm worried about my brother and my parents won't call me back! So, yeah, I'm stressed out.

The drugs keep me drowsy. They make my muscles weak. Which is why I don't tell them about the dreams now. I need to get out of this place. And the only way I'm gonna do that is if I've got my wits about me. September 25 I've been doing reconnaissance. During my morning walks around the halls, I've mentally catalogued all the exits and all the places where the MPs are stationed. It gives my days purpose. It's like another mission. The dreams haven't stopped, although I haven't told anyone (aside from whoever's reading this). I feel better now that they've stopped giving me the drugs. I'm more focused. I dread the thought of going back home to Shepherd's Glen, but it's a necessary evil. I can't stay here feeling like this. I just need to check in on Joshua and make sure he's all right. To be continued... September 29 They found out about the dreams. I must have been talking in my sleep. I woke up shouting Joshua's name again the other night and they sedated me right away. I told them that I just needed to get out of here long enough to check on my brother. They said that I'm suffering some sort of post-traumatic shock. They don't know what the hell they're talking about. Or maybe they do. Is that all this is? If so, how do I make it stop? I can't think straight with the drugs they put me on. Whatever they are, they're not helping. They make me sleep, but they don't take away the dreams. More importantly, they don't take away this awful feeling. I just need to go! October 1 I'm making a plan to get out of here. It's not like it's high security. It's not a prison or anything. But it is a military hospital. They've got MPs by all the exits and you can't leave without the right papers, so I'll have to break out. Will they come after me? I doubt it. They'll probably figure I'll come back eventually. And who knows, maybe I will. Then again, I don't know if military life suits me anymore. I don't really know much about what my future holds. Only that, I won't be in here much longer. October 7 The plan is set. On my morning walks, I discovered an exit to a loading dock at the back of the building. I was out there looking it over for a good five minutes before an MP found me. I acted dumb, like I was drugged up (an easy thing to fake at this point).

I pretended I was lost. "Well, you can't be back here, soldier," he said. "You gotta get back inside where they can make you all better." Condescending ass. Boy will he be pissed when he finds out I got out that way. I went online and got a map of the area around the hospital and found that the main road in front of the place leads right out to the highway. I figure I can get out through the loading dock exit, get up the road to the highway and then hitch a ride from there. If I leave before midnight I should be in Shepherd's Glen by morning. Hopefully none of the staff here are reading this. If they are, I'm screwed. October 10 My last entry. I'm full recuperated, I'm strong and they've laid off the drugs the last couple of days, so I'm lucid. I figure this is as good a time as any to make my exit. I just need to find out for myself that Joshua's okay. I'm his older brother, that's my job. And I'm never gonna find out in this place. They're never gonna let me leave if the nightmares don't stop, and the nightmares won't stop until I've checked on Joshua. So I'm stuck. I only hope it goes okay. With any luck I'll be blogging again soon with good news, a clear head and some idea of what the future holds. Until then…. PFC Alex Shepherd, signing off.

ELLE
September 4 I’m just going to start writing and see what happens here. I apologize in advance if I come off whiny, bitchy, stupid, lame, annoying, weird, creepy, or a drama queen. Another great day in my house! Mom barely spoke a word to me, which is about five words more than usual. Dad locked himself in the bedroom all day. He’s found the best way to deal with life is just to pull the covers over your eyes and pretend no one can see you. I wish it were that easy. But for me, something actually happened. I managed to get one of the old computers in the library to work! See, typing works!!!! I CAN TYPE IN CAPS TOO!!! For anyone reading this (not sure why), then you might be asking yourself “just who is this girl and why do I care?” Well, for one, yes I’m a girl (note to creepy stalkers, stay away, I’ve got enough weirdoes around me). My name is Elle. I live in the smallest place in the world, Shepherd’s Glen. Haven’t heard of it? Big surprise. If you got in your car, drove to the most unused road near your house, then took it for 100 miles, then turned off on a dirt road with no name, drove on THAT for a whole day, you would still never get here. So what’s the big deal with the computer in the library? (Yes, I’m still excited about that!) Well, everything around here is either broken or from before I was born. So finding a computer that actually makes the letters appear on the screen when I type is a miracle of modern science. Okay. Rambling. (I should have added that to the list above.) I could go on for about a thousand hours, but then I wouldn’t have anything to write about next time. And then what would you do with yourself? September 5 I’m back! Don’t all applaud at once. I’m not sure why I’m back. The last time I was just testing to see if the computer actually worked, but it does. And it’s still here waiting for me. This computer is officially my new best friend!

If someone told you they had a computer for a best friend, would you think they were crazy? I would. But then again, good friends are hard to come by. So who wants to read about another exciting day from the pages of my life? Okay, I woke up. No one was home. Looked outside and it was another beautiful foggy day. I opened the fridge and there was about half a glass of old apple juice and a jar of mustard. Seriously, THAT”S WHAT WAS IN THE FRIDGE. I wrote a note to Mom on the door. It said, “Hey! Can we PLEASE buy some food? There are humans in need of nourishment still living in this house!” Think she’ll get the message? I went down to Solar (best chili fries). Luckily, they’re still open. Jeanine (who owns it) took mercy on my starving self and fed me. But she seemed all weirded out the rest of the time, which in turn weirded me out. She kept asking me all these questions about my mom and what she was up to. As if I’ve seen her in days. I stuffed my face as fast as I could. And then I dragged my bloated ass over to the library to write this. And THAT is what my day consisted of. Hopefully yours was a little bit more fulfilling. Do tell. September 6 You know what I found taped to my door this morning? That note that I left on the fridge for my mom with a twenty dollar bill taped to it! Talk about lazy. At least she’s paying attention. To be continued... September 7 I got an idea a few days ago. I thought that from now on, I would try to run at least twenty minutes every morning. I’ve been pretty lazy, just sitting around waiting for something to happen (and to be honest, chili fries five days a week are taking their toll). So, today I got up really early and ran. And I saw the funniest thing. I saw the mayor, the actual mayor of Shepherd’s Glen passed out in front of his mansion. No one was around! I thought about taking a picture, but that would be too mean, don’t you think? I went up there to make sure he was okay. He was really out of it and smelled like a case of wine. I found a stick and poked him to make sure he was still alive. He was. I felt bad for the guy – I’ve never been THAT messed up. But seriously, no wonder everything has gone to hell around here. The freaking mayor is sleeping on his own front lawn like he’s some high school freshman who didn’t make it home from a party. How embarrassing.

Alex would have found that funny. Too bad he’s not around.

September 8 Weird thing today - my mom actually stopped by my room, woke me up and asked me how I was feeling this morning. Huh, what, huh? This woman hasn’t spoken a word to me in months and now she’s taking an interest in my feelings? I said to her, “and you are…?” She didn’t think that was funny. She rarely finds the things I do or say funny. She used to. I’m not sure what has happened, but my mom and I used to be friends. Not like hang out at the mall friends, but at least she acted like a mom who had a daughter. September 10 I’m so bored. I went down to Solar today and tried to spice things up and NOT order the same thing. Woo hoo! I went by school today. The place was empty but the door to the gym was unlocked. I snuck inside. It’s amazing how creepy the place is when no one is around. I stopped by Alex’s locker. He used to have all these stickers, but they must have scraped them off. It’s like he was never there. I was hoping there would be something left of his I could have kept. Then it started to get pretty scary being there alone and I thought I heard some people talking from the classrooms upstairs, so I ran out of there pretty quick. I never saw anyone. My boredom is going to get me intro trouble one of these days. To be continued... September 11 So about that Alex guy I just happened to mention last time. I know you're all dying inside for some juicy gossip on my personal life. Okay, twist my arm. Alex was a guy from my school (obviously). First he totally ignored me when we got into high school, which was really annoying since I've known him forever and he acted like he had never seen me before. But then we started hanging out again. He was over at my house a lot during the last couple of years because his dad was always working and his mom pretty much didn't care less where he was. Funny

thing is that my mom, of all people, actually talked to him like she cared. That was a pretty great time for all of us. Alex and I hung out every day and during our summer vaca after graduation he would stay over at our house when he got off from work. I don't think his mom ever called or came over to find out where he was, which was fine with us because everyone just left us alone. I'm not sure I want to talk about all of this right now. I promise I will – just not today. September 12 Okay, I wanted to organize all the thoughts I had about the day things changed for me, so I went back and put it all in order so I wouldn't just ramble on and on (like I normally do, yes I KNOW!). Right, so Alex and I were having a great time that summer, blah, blah, blah. After the summer, our town had this big anniversary party. There was something actually FUN happening where we lived! Everyone was there. My mom and I worked a dunk tank together, and Alex did safety guard for the petting zoo – you know, making sure the animals didn't attack the children! And then, that whole week, Alex didn't come by and he didn't call me. It was weird, so I went over to his house. No one answered the door. I could hear Alex's mom crying. I banged and banged forever. I thought something bad had happened. His dad came out and told me that Alex had left. HE LEFT? I was like, where did he go? I could tell that his dad was angry. I asked if Alex was okay and he said he was fine. He just shut the door on me. I didn't know what was going on. I banged on the door again, but Alex's dad just told me to go away and leave them alone. I went home to tell my mom, but she was gone and so was my dad and my sister. I just went up to my room and fell asleep hoping that I would wake up and it would be back to normal. That was a few years ago and I still haven't forgiven Alex for just leaving like that without even calling me. That's when everything in my life started to suck. I can't talk to anyone around here like I could with him. No one here has any perspective. Alex and I could talk for hours about whatever. At least I have you to talk to. Are you listening? September 14 Hi. I'm not sure how long it's been since my last post. Feels like it's been a while, but it could just be that the clock in my head is all screwed up. Maybe I need to start crossing off days in a calendar, like someone shipwrecked on a deserted island.

Ladies and gentlemen, let's give a big hello to Elle, the drama queen! So, something pretty crappy happened today. I went down to Solar for my usual fix and it was closed! No sign of Jeanine either. I'm going to go back there now and see if she showed up. What the hell are people supposed to eat around here? To be continued... September 15 Okay, this is starting to freak me out. Yesterday, I saw Jeanine and she was just wandering around Main Street. She wasn't going anywhere, she just stood there in front of her store. I went up to talk to her, but I might as well have been invisible. She just stared at me. I asked her if she was okay. She asked me if I had seen her husband. She started getting really weird about it and kept asking me over and over again. I didn't really know what to do, so I just went to the other side of the street and made sure she didn't do anything stupid like walk in front of a truck or something. After about an hour, she went inside the café the door and disappeared into the back. I went over there and knocked on the door, but she never came out. I thought I heard some yelling inside, but then it just stopped. I took off and went straight home, up to my room and closed the door. I didn't know where my mom was, so I just stayed in my room the rest of the day. I was scared to even come to the library to write this, but I knew you would find it all very thrilling! I do this for you. Maybe tomorrow, aliens will land in front of the town hall and take me on board. Doubt it. That would almost be a relief. September 16 I was trying to figure out a way I could get the computer out of the library and bring it home, so I wouldn't have to leave my house. Yes, it's gotten that creepy around here. Today, the streets were really empty and the fog didn't lift the whole day. Even Mr. Rooney, the guy who runs the tourist place, is usually around (not sure why, we haven't had an actual tourist in months). But he was gone, his little stand was all closed up.

I'm not sure how safe it is for me to come here anymore, but I'll try again soon. Now, I'm going to go find my mom. September 17 Hi. So, this morning my mom was cooking breakfast. Yes, you read that right, she was actually cooking breakfast – eggs, bacon, the works! I was really excited! We just sat there and ate, like two pigs. We talked about all sorts of things. I brought up Alex and how I missed him, she understood and told me she missed him too and wished he was here with me so I wouldn't get so lonely. She knows that most of my friends have gone off to college and many of the people around town have just packed up. I could tell she was worried about what was happening, with everyone closing up the stores, but she told me not to worry about it. I said I was a bit scared to go outside. She told me to be careful. She walked me down to the library today to make sure I was okay. Still, I think she's pretending not to be scared for my sake. I guess that's what makes her a parent. To be continued... September 22 I think my mom might be in denial. It's pretty obvious that people aren't just leaving town. They're missing. Like, "no one knows what happened to them" missing. Remember when I told you about Jeanine looking for her husband? Today, I saw her again and she had a stack of flyers with her husband's picture on it. Before, I just thought he left her (for another woman or something, she can be pretty annoying), but she really doesn't know where he is! She hasn't heard from him or seen him. It's not like he drove out of town. His car is still here. I felt really bad for her, so I grabbed a stack of flyers and put them up for her. Maybe we need to start making more flyers. September 27 My mom saw me putting up more flyers today. She was heading to her office but grabbed a bunch and told me she would put some up near work. Some other people I don't really know stopped by and brought their own flyers. This guy Clint who used to work at the library came by and printed up a bunch more for some other people. I realized that this was getting out of hand, so we went down the sheriff's station. The deputy was there by himself. For someone who is supposed to be protecting the town, this deputy acted like he just wanted us to leave. We showed him all the flyers and he said he would "get on it". Sure.

The fog rolling in from the lake this morning made the place really gloomy, so Clint walked me to the library. I'm really going to make the effort to post this blog as much as I can, in case something bad happens. September 29 Clint hung out with me today while we printed up more flyers. We dropped by our favorite deputy, who seems really annoyed by how many times we've come by his office this past week. What the hell does he think we should be doing? What the hell is HE doing about this? I would dial 911 if it wasn't him at the other end of the phone. Maybe I should call the Army. But what the hell would I tell them? I could really use Alex right now. Sometimes I have the tendency to freak out really easily and Alex is one of the calmest people I know. I think I'm trying to block out the idea that he might be missing as well because I just can't deal with the idea of anyone else in my life disappearing. To be continued... October 5 Clint is gone. He didn't show up at the library this morning. I went by his apartment. It was unlocked. I didn't want to go in, but I had to. No sign of him. Nothing left behind either – his place was totally untouched. I knocked on some of the other doors, but I couldn't find any help. Maybe he just packed up and left. It got me thinking – maybe we should get out of here too. I ran home and my mom was there. I told her about Clint and said we should go, like get out of town. She said that this was our home and where were we supposed to go? We argued about it, but there was no convincing her. I would have left by myself, but I can't leave her behind. I came back to the library to see if Clint might be hiding out, but he's not here either. I know the deputy is still here. Tomorrow, I'm going there, and this time he better help me. October 6 Okay. Good news. Deputy Wheeler is more on the ball than I thought. I went down to the station today and we had a good long talk. Turns out, he has more information about what's going on than I do. He showed me a stack of missing person reports and said he was going his best to check out each and every one. According to him, all these people have one thing in common - they vanished without any reason or warning. I told him that Clint was missing, and we added him to the list. Wheeler told me I shouldn't be wandering around town alone anymore, but he figured I would

anyway so he gave me one of his cop walkie-talkies. It's pretty cool. I make sure to check in with him every few hours and report anything weird. Unfortunately, everything around here is weird! I'm going to stop by Alex's parents' house to make sure his mom is okay. October 7 I saw Mrs. Shepherd today. I don't think I've seen her since the day Alex left. I'm pretty sure she hasn't left the house lately. There wasn't much to eat, so I went down to the grocery store. They shut down almost a year ago, but I figured they must have some canned stuff in there. Now, I know stealing is wrong, but this is a crisis, wouldn't you say? I broke in. Don't tell my mom, I don't need her throwing the book at me. The place stank! But I found a bunch of good stuff. I wish I had thought of this earlier. I grabbed as much as I could and got out of there. I'm going to hoard a few things here in the library so I know they'll always be here. To be continued... October 8 I told Alex's mom I would come once a week or so in the afternoon to check on her. She just nodded. I wanted to ask her about Alex and that whole situation, but I think everything that's been going on has been taking a toll on her mind. I don't even know if she cares (or knows) I'm here, but I think it's good that I do stop by even if it's just for a minute to make sure she's ok. Wheeler and I went through another stack of missing person reports. I copied a bunch and replaced the old ones out at the board. I don't know if anyone's reading them, but I'll keep putting them up. Wheeler has some "interesting" ideas as to what is going on. He told me he had posted them online. I don't know how much of his ideas are actually possible, but it's definitely worthwhile reading material. As for me, I'm just trying to keep out of trouble. My mom is down at her office most days. I think she's got her own problems. October 9 I've stopped going home. This morning I could have sworn there was someone in my house. I didn't know where but I know I'm not crazy. I grabbed as much of my stuff as I could and got out of there. I left a note for my mom telling her I would find her.

Maybe I'm in over my head with this whole thing. I told Wheeler I was going to wait out the rest of this at the library and he could find me there. I'm going to lay low for a while. I don't think I can stop by Mrs. Shepherd's today, I'm just too scared to go outside. The fog seems to always be around and it's hard to see ten feet in front of my own face. October 10 I quietly snuck down to my mom's office at the town hall. I found her sorting through a pile of papers. She looked very concerned and asked me to come back home. It's pretty obvious I'm afraid of something, but I don't want her to think I can't handle what's going on. I played it cool and told her I would be home tonight. To be continued... October 11 For a town that barely has a pulse, I was busy today. First I stopped by Wheeler's office. I can tell the guy might be going a bit looney in there all by himself with just his thoughts. I think he's glad I'm actually still here with my eyes wide open (although I don't know how much longer that will last). He said he's been sitting on the roof at night and seeing strange things. There was a lot of fear in his voice. He didn't really tell me what he saw, just said a lot of animals moving in the shadows. Great. What the hell does that mean? I made him some lunch, hung out for a while and listened to more of his theories. He has this crazy idea about how cell phones are always on and someone might be listening to your conversations. Okay... Finally, I went home and saw mom just as she was leaving. She was heading over to talk to Dr. Fitch. I guess he's not feeling too well and she's worried about him. I begged her to be careful... it was already dark and I told her about the animals in the night that Wheeler had been seeing. She told me she would be back soon. I don't think she took what Wheeler said seriously. I hope she'll be okay. October 12 When I woke up this morning, I realized I hadn't heard my mom come home last night. She was back over at the doctor's house. I burst out of my room and ran into hers, but there she was with my dad, sound asleep. It was the first time in a long while I felt okay. That lasted for about a minute. When I looked outside, everything was covered in haze. Not like the usual morning fog... this was different. The entire town was painted in a murky gray cloud.

I radioed Wheeler and he ordered me to stay inside today. He said not to come down to the station. "There's something bad out there" were his exact words. But as you can see, I didn't stay inside. I walked around to see if I could find anyone who needed my help. If Wheeler was scared of what was out here, then maybe someone needed a safe place to go. I called out. No one answered. I went down to the flyer board and made sure they were still up... just in case. On my way back to the library, I heard voices again, coming out of the fog. I ran. I ran as fast as I could to the library. I locked the door tight and blocked the door. I couldn't see anyone following me, but the fog is freaking thick, they could have been right behind me and I never would have known. Whoever said that curiosity killed the cat might have been right. But cats have nine lives. I'm pretty sure I only get one. October 13 I slept in the library. Wheeler radioed me early this morning. He sounds desperate. He's boarded himself up in to the sheriff's station. The only guy in town who can help me and I have no way of getting to him now. He asked me if I had seen anyone. I told him the last person I saw was my mother, who was going over to Dr. Fitch's office. And that was it. I don't know what to do now. Stay here? At least I can get the word out about what's happening and hope someone's reading. But maybe someone out there needs my help. Last night I could hear all sorts of strange noises. I don't know. Maybe this is all in my head and I'm asleep somewhere dreaming this whole thing. Why can't I dream about nice things? October 15 I don't know how much longer I'll be able to post. The computer was shut off when I woke up today (stayed another few nights here... I need a shower...). I freaked out that it was broken, but it fired up about ten minutes of me turning it on and off. Only the screen is really messed up and flickering. I even tried to switch monitors, but something is wrong with the actual computer. I'm typing very slowly to make sure the words come out okay. I don’t think staying in the library is safe anymore. Last night, the noises outside were unbearably loud, like something was trying to get in. Today when I checked around to make sure nothing had broken in, I found something that scared the living shit out of me... Clint's glasses were folded neatly on one of the tables. I'm

POSITIVE they weren't there before. I have no idea what the hell that means, but I don't want to stick around here anymore. For anyone who is reading this, if you can get to Shepherd's Glen, I'll be at the sheriff's station on Main. If I'm not there, the only man who can help you find me will is Deputy Wheeler. If you can't find him, then get the hell out of here.

DEPUTY WHEELER
September 10 Open your eyes! You open your eyes; you might just start seeing what’s really going on in the world. For now, just think about this: There were a total of six moon landings between 1969 and 1972. Over the next three decades, we’ve managed to make laptop computers, cell phones the size of credit cards, advances in DNA testing – yet we’ve never managed to get back to the moon. So without any hard evidence, what makes you believe we ever actually landed on the moon in the first place? If we can’t do it now, how the hell did we do it back then? September 11 I can’t tell you who I am because I don’t want to ruffle my boss’s feathers. He made it a rule —no personal time on the computer. This computer’s strictly for work. But I know how to use this thing better than he does. I can hide my tracks. I have to make sure that if I ever need to go looking for a new job, I can still get a decent referral. That is, if I can ever track him down. So all I can say right now is that I know things. I know about things that maybe you know about, maybe you don’t. Either way, it’s not my job to convince you that you’ve been lied to. It’s my job to make you question what you’ve been told. Only then can we start to REALLY understand what’s going on around here. September 12 My boss looked into buying some traffic cameras a while back. You know, to catch speeders? Right. If those cameras are supposed to snap a photo right at the moment of a crime, why do they always keep running, shooting video, day and night? Most people don’t realize that. They think, SNAP, and they’re busted. But those cameras – they’re always watching you.

So make sure you’re watching them. To be continued... September 13 Do you borrow books from the library? Hey, don’t get me wrong, reading is good for you. In fact, the government is so happy that you’re reading, they want to know what you’re reading as well. So remember, every swipe of that library card sends a nice little byte of information to your friendly FBI office letting them know just what it is you’ve checked out. It could be Huckleberry Finn or it could be Mein Kampf. Which one do you think they’ll be more interested in? I’m sure they’ll come knocking at your door one day to tell you. September 15 I ordered some crypto software so I can stay hidden online. That way I can tell you more about me. I shouldn’t really be so worried, should I? I mean, we live in a free country where I can say whatever I want…right? A fun little fact for you… You have a cell phone, right? Of course, everyone does. Now you realize that when you talk on that cell phone, the information is transmitted to a cell tower, which then bounces it to a satellite, back down to another cell tower and into the phone of whoever you’re talking to. Did you ever wonder what happens to all that information as it’s just flying through the air like that? Did you ever wonder who might be listening? ―Sure,‖ you say, ―I knew that. I’m not that nah. I would never say anything really private on my cell phone. What else you got, old man?‖ All right, well what would you say if I told you that even when your cell phone is off, someone can still listen in on your conversations? Take a look at the little mic on your phone. Take a good look at it. Do you think it’s off right now? Say something. Speak into the mic. Ever wonder why when you’re not using your phone, the battery is still getting drained? It’s not because that little digital clock is ticking, I’ll tell you that.

September 16 I feel like a criminal (which is ironic considering what I do for a living. More on that soon). Today I stayed late and installed that new software. It hides files, lets me surf anonymously and erases any trace of me on the Internet. My boss will never know. About that. My boss hasn’t really been around for a while. I guess I’m sort of in charge here now. But that’s why he hired me. I mean, a sheriff needs a good deputy to handle things when he’s not around, right? So now you know. I’m a deputy. It’s a small town and I’m not so sure I want the sheriff’s office being connected to my personal feelings about what’s going on in the world out there. There’s the public image to think about. You see, when I’m wearing the badge, the gun is loaded and my walkie is on, I’m Deputy Wheeler. But behind the uniform is a man on a mission. I want people to know what I know, to see what I’ve seen. And believe me, where I live, I’ve seen it all. That’s all for now. In the meantime, wear big reflective sunglasses – keeps those ATM cameras from seeing your face. So make sure you're watching them. To be continued... September 17 I don't really have the time to tell you about any of life's great mysteries today. Instead, I'm gonna tell you a little bit about life here in Shepherd's Glen. The travel brochure reads: ―Come and relax in Shepherd's Glen.‖ That's supposed to make people want to come here. I suppose if it said ―Come and relax in Shepherd's Glen, where it's gray and foggy, no one talks to you and there's all sorts of secret shit going on behind closed doors,‖ people wouldn't come visit, would they? Well, between you and me, I haven't seen a tourist here in hell of a long time. No one comes to visit anymore. And the people who live aren't exactly all that friendly anymore. None of this should surprise me. Every town has its secrets.

September 18 I remember when I took this job, the sheriff told me that Shepherd's Glen was a place where I'd never have to load my gun. But when the sheriff himself takes off and doesn't come back, maybe it's time to load your gun, son. September 19 I didn't always used to think like this. I was a skeptic, same as most people. But then I came here. In the last few years, I've seen more strange shit than most people have seen in their whole lives. I started thinking that maybe there might be other people like me out there. People who QUESTION things. If I can't figure out what's been going on around here, maybe somebody out there can. So if anything I'm saying rings any bells, send me a line. I could use the help. I'm feeling kind of alone out here. To be continued... September 20 I just got something new on the radar I wanna talk to you about. They're called ChemTrails. Now when an ordinary plan flies overhead it leaves what they call a ―contrail.‖ But ChemTrails are different. They last much longer and dissipate into the air, leaving the sky overcast. They usually show up in a crisscross pattern. There have been documented sightings of these things all over the world. The reason this caught my attention was because of the weather aspect of the story. This town is so damned gloomy, I can't remember the last time I saw sunshine. Could this be what's causing it? And if it is, who's behind it? Of course, the usual suspects come to mind: the federal government, NATO, the UN, the pharmaceutical industry, the oil companies, the list goes on. But what are they trying to do? And why are they doing it HERE?

September 21 Speaking of who's behind it all, you should be aware of who's really running the world out there. We all think we live in a democracy, right? We elect our leaders. Power comes from the people. Sure, if by ―the people‖ you meet 325 guys who meet once a year in secret. I'm talking about the Trilateral Commission. It's a group that was founded back in the 70s by the wealthiest and most powerful men in the world. They're the ones who are really calling the shots. Think I'm making this up. A lot of our top politicians are or were a part of this group at one time… including a couple of presidents. Wanna know which ones? Look it up. You'll be amazed. September 22 I wouldn't say I've given up on my boss ever coming back, but I sure as hell wouldn't put money on it. He knew something was up here. Maybe he got too close to figuring it out and someone decided to shut him up. Now that I mention it, this station isn't as secure as it could be. If anyone reading this didn't want me spilling the beans on what's really going on, they wouldn't have to do much to take me out. I'm gonna have to work on locking this place down. Lucky for me, I haven't really figured anything out, so I guess I'm safe for now. To be continued... September 23 I might have spoken too soon. I don't think anyone's really safe around here any more. The population in this town has been dwindling for years, but I'm starting to notice that people are just GONE. The mission person reports are stacking up, and I'm the only one working here. What the hell am I supposed to do by myself? I mentioned that the tourists had stopped coming long ago, that there were no new faces in town. Well, that may be true, but I get the feeling SOMEBODY is here. You can never quite see them – they disappear before you get a good look. But there are people roaming around this town who aren't supposed to be here. I put a new set of locks on the front door to the station. That's just for starters.

September 24 I learned a little bit more about those ChemTrails. Apparently, one theory is that what they're spraying into the air is iron oxide – little particles of metal that can get into your body and poison you. The question is, why is the government doing this?

Well, the big idea is that the federal government is actually behind global warming, that releasing these metal particles into the air reflects sunlight, heating up the atmosphere. Now, I can believe an awful lot, but I think the verdict is pretty much in on what's causing global warming. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that pumping all that CO2 into the air is eventually gonna turn this planet into an arboretum. Hey, at least we'll be able to grow orchids. September 25 Today I decided to reach out to some of the local leaders here in town. They've pretty much ignored me since my boss left, but I figure I need SOMEONE to listen to me if we're gonna save this town from falling apart. I stopped by the judge's office but it was empty. It looked like nobody had been there for a while. I tried the local doctor's office too. I swear I could hear someone inside, but no one answered when I knocked. So I headed up to the mayor's mansion, and there I found the strangest thing: Mayor Bartlett's vines had all been cut down. The mayor grows grapes for a little winery that his family has owned for ages. Somebody had gone through the entire field and hacked apart every single grapevine there. But wait, here's the kicker. On the edge of the field, someone had written a message in the dirt. It said: "Stop looking at me." To be continued... September 26 Did you know that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had prior knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor? He had been trying to get the U.S. to enter the war for years, but the people didn't want it. So when he got the intelligence that the Japanese were planning the attack, he did jack to stop it. He did, however, make sure that none of the aircraft carriers stationed at Pearl were in the actual harbor when the attack came. He needed the attack to be

devastating enough to piss off the American public and get us into the war, but he couldn't let the entire fleet get destroyed. I feel like that's what this town needs right now. Some big event to wake them up and make them realize what's going on. We need to mobilize here, people. I can't do this by myself. I'm just one man. September 27 When people talk about the all the conspiracy stuff surrounding the Lincoln assassination, they always bring up the connections to JFK. Both their VPs were named Johnson, both their names have seven letters, etc, etc. Please, people, that's nothing. Here's something that's actually true. Years after Lincoln's assassination, his son Robert fell off a railway platform onto the tracks. He was saved by…Edwin Booth, John Wilkes Booth's brother. Robert Lincoln's life was saved by the brother of the man that killed his father. Talk about a small world. Mary Todd Lincoln went crazy. Hey, can you blame here? She watched three of her kids die and her husband get shot in the back of the head. Her own son took her to court to try to have here committed. Grief can drive a person nuts. I've seen it firsthand. Reading this, you probably think I'm crazy. But I might just be the only sane person left in this place. September 28 Good news. There's a girl here in town named Elle who's been trying to figure things out just like me. She's been posting flyers for missing people all over the place, so I told her to put them up on the bulletin board outside the station. You never know, it might help. She seems even more clueless about this whole situation than I am, but it's good to have someone to talk to. I can't tell if she's listening to what I'm telling her or not. These young people, they've got no attention span. But she's a fighter, I can tell that. She's got something driving her. To be continued... September 29 Reinforced the front door today. Fog's getting thicker. Sometimes when I walk, I can hear someone walking behind me, just beyond the fog. They stop when I stop. Maybe it's an echo.

Maybe it's not. I stocked the station with food Elle brought over. I brought some clothes and supplies from home. I'm not going back there for a while. September 30 Things are getting worse, much worse. Most times I go outside now I don't see anyone at all. I know there are still people living here. I can hear them whispering. At night I go up on the roof. I can't see the stars. It's too overcast. I can hear things moving around at night out there. It sounds like animals but… Things are not right here. This isn't something I'm making up. There is something honest-toGod wrong with this place. October 6 I've started going up on the roof a lot now. I want to be able to keep an eye on things, but it's not safe to go out in the streets. I told that to Elle but she doesn't listen, does she? She's trying to play detective. I told here that that was my job, and even I'm not stupid enough to go wandering around out there. I gave her one of the walkies from the station and told her to check in whenever she can, just to let me know she's all right. I also told her it would be a good idea to radio me before she comes by. I don't wanna blow a hole in the door with my shotgun if I hear a noise… and then find out it was her. To be continued... October 7 Something's wrong with my Internet connection. Sometimes it just stops working. How am I supposed to deal with all this if I have no connection to the outside world? I need answers, people. Doesn't anybody out there have some answers for me? I'm no better off than when I started. I've been looking into the history of the town, and I've found a lot of interesting things, but nothing that gets me where I want to be. I've got theories, ideas, possibilities… But no one to discuss them with. Even Elle's tired of listening to me.

I wish I could just get pointed in the right direction. October 12 I've made a decision. I'm boarding up the station. It's not safe out there and I'll be more good to the people in this town staying in here trying to use my brain than going out there trying to fight something I can't even see. The last thing I did before I locked the doors was to get a whole bunch of books about Shepherd's Glen from the town hall. Those should keep me busy for a while. October 14 The Internet connection went out again. It's making me suspicious. Does somebody not want me posting this? Am I on to something? Maybe I'm getting too close to the truth. Or… maybe someone doesn't want me calling for help. That's a spooky thought. Why do they care about me? I'm just a run-down old deputy. Shit, what the hell they think I'm gonna do? At least the walkies still work. Elle's been good about keeping in touch and letting me know she's all right. She's still at it out there, putting up flyers, keeping hope alive. But that can't last too much longer. No one can stay hopeful forever. October 15 The Internet connection is shot. It comes and goes so sporadically I'll be surprised if this post even makes it out there. Someone or something is trying to isolate me. They don't want you to hear what I'm saying. Well, they may be able shut me up, but they can't do the same to you. So I'll leave you with this, people. Learn from what's happened to me, because it could happen to you. Open your eyes to what's going on around you. Whoever did this here could do it in your town too. PAY ATTENTION. And don't believe the people in power when they say that everything is going to be okay. Because it's not.

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