Obsessive Compulsive DisorderLarge floor to ceiling windows lined the staircase letting the bright rays of sunlight illuminate the path as Marci walked down them. Her distressed mother sat at the table sipping a cup of steaming coffee. Tears glided down Mrs. Carter’s cheeks making a little pool next to her mug.
“Mom? Is everything okay?” Marci asked concerned.
“No! Everything is the opposite of okay!” She yelled smacking her hand down on the table causing the coffee to ripple, threatening to spill over.
“Where is Valerie?” Marci’s breath caught in her throat.
“I don’t know.” Mrs. Carter sobbed. “I phoned Valerie’s other friends and they all said that they hadn’t seen Valerie since the end of the school year. That was almost three months ago!”
“I’m sure she is fine.” Marci said with depleting confidence.
“No, she isn’t b-be-because…” Mrs. Carter stuttered, pausing. “She isn’t alright because she has a disorder. Last year she was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD.”
“What!” Marci was taken by surprise. “Isn’t that when the person obsesses over certain things?”
“Yes, recurring obsessions. Or compulsions to do something.” Mrs. Carter sighed.
“I guess that kind of explains the obsession over her washer and the compulsion to have the knife.” Marci said uncertainly.
“Different people have different obsessions. Valerie will not part with her washer under any conditions. Lately she has been writing her poems, well…scarier. Her wardrobe has turned from bright colors to black.” Mrs. Carter shook her head.
“Oh, I noticed.” was all Marci could say.
“I am going to look for her this morning. You and Liam have no choice but to join me.”
“If we don’t find her, I am calling the police to file a missing persons report. Allan gets home from his business trip tomorrow; I haven’t been able to contact him so he’ll have to wait to hear the bad news.”
Marci wished that her good for nothing step dad wouldn’t come back from his stupid business trip. After her dad died a year and a half ago her mother had immediately remarried Allan Carter, changing her name and everything else along with it. No wonder Valerie had a disorder, Marci thought.
“Honey, go and get changed. We are leaving in an hour.” Mrs. Carter stood, walking to the sink and dumping her still full mug of coffee down the drain.
“Do you see Valerie or her truck?” Mrs. Carter asked Marci and Liam.
“Obviously, we would have said something if we did,” Liam muttered, sticking his head out the passenger window, letting the cool wind hit his face and blow back his spiked black hair.
Marci was forced to sit in the back seats since she was the youngest, therefore having no roll-down windows to stick her head out like a dog; like her brother.
“No,” she sighed looking out the large back window hoping to see Valerie walking along the sidewalk. But as she figured, there was no such luck.
Mrs. Carter turned into the parking lot of the Quick n’ Clean laundromat, her eyes scanning the area for any possible trace of Valerie. “Alright,” she said. “We are going to split up and search around the Laundromat on foot for any evidence. I have no clue where else she could be. If we don’t find her, I’m calling the cops.”
Jumping out of the VW Bug, Mrs. Carter, Liam, and Marci split up in search of Valerie. Liam went inside the still empty Laundromat, Marci scoured the parking lot, and Mrs. Carter walked to the buildings next to it, examining them inside and out.
Marci bounded to the space that Valerie had parked the truck the day before and searched the cement-covered ground. She saw no visible object but something else came into her line of vision; tire marks. They were faded but still noticeable winding around the Laundromat making a direct path towards the back roads.
Marci called to Liam and her mother who joined her in a timely manner. Without a word the three of them began to jog, following the tracks until they were off the cement parking lot and onto a muddy path. The dirt and mud made the tracks even more noticeable as they curved around the back corner of the building.
When they wound around the corner Mrs. Carter’s heart skipped a beat. There, behind two puke green dumpsters, sat Valerie’s navy blue truck. Mrs. Carter stopped next to it, her eyes widening in terror. All of the windows had been blown out, shattered glass littering both the muddy ground and the interior of the truck.
“Oh my God!” Marci screamed. Mrs. Carter whipped out her phone, immediately informing the nearest police department-which was at least fifteen minutes from where they resided-about their devastating discovery.
Meanwhile Marci noticed large boot prints just outside the drivers’ door and in one of them sat two pieces of paper. Picking them up she noticed the delicate cursive handwriting was Valerie’s. The first of them read:
Deep in the woods,
Something is rising
It will invoke
Marci furrowed her brow in confusion, figuring it was one of Valerie’s poems as she began to read the other one:
a great darkness lies,
menacing evil it hides.
above us all,
our unforeseen down fall.
“Liam!” she yelled. Liam stopped investigating the broken glass to see what his sister needed.
Marci held the dirt-smeared poems in his face. “They don’t make any sense, but I know they’re Val’s.”
Liam took one look at the ripped edge and said, “I think it’s only one poem.” He paused squinting hard at the curling letters. “One that has been ripped in half.”
Marci snatched the halves from his hands and shoved them together reading aloud, “Deep in the woods, a great darkness lies, a sinister, menacing evil it hides. Something is rising above us all, it will invoke our unforeseen down fall.”
“Was she trying to warn us that there is something in the woods?” Liam wondered glancing at the shadowy forest.
“I doubt it. She wouldn’t have had time to write a poem if somebody kidnapped her. I think she may have written it yesterday before we left for the Laundromat. That’s what mom said-”
“The police will be here shortly!” Mrs. Carter interrupted. “What’s that?”
“Valerie’s poem,” Marci said handing it to her panic-stricken mother.
Mrs. Carter instantaneously threw the scraps of paper to the ground saying, “You shouldn’t touch it! It’s evidence! I’m sure Valerie wasn’t the one to rip it up, and the person who did might have left fingerprints. Hopefully your own prints won’t mess it up.”
Ten minutes later the police arrived, bringing with them storm clouds. They were quick to take the poem with their glove-covered hands, placing it into a waterproof plastic bag. Two of them began questioning Marci while the others searched the area hoping to find more than helpful evidence.
A short and plump policeman known as Sergeant Kenny and two of his men followed the deep boot prints-as Marci had indicated to-around the truck and down the alley. There, Kenny discovered something that drew his interest. Another set of smaller footprints-about the size of a teenage girl’s-joined the larger ones, and a few paces before one would reach the sidewalk the footsteps both stopped, replaced by scuff marks.
The scuff marks turned into two one-inch ruts forming a set of parallel lines and deeper boot prints that lead all the way back into the forest. As the other policeman and forensic scientists started casting the footprints, taking photos of the crime scene, and putting up police tape, Kenny wrote down a few notes and possibilities for what had happened:
Big footprints, and smaller ones: Valerie Carter’s, possibly. What Happened?
Valerie’s attacker may have been chasing her, and ended up tackling her to the ground. Then he/she might have pulled her away so that her feet were dragging on the dirt creating the parallel lines/ruts. The deeper boot prints that the parallel ruts slice through could be caused by having to drag at least one hundred and ten pounds of weight.
Ruts lead into woods, and then disappear.
Kenny tucked his notepad into his jacket pocket and strode over to the truck where a couple of policemen worked.
“Have you found anything?” Kenny hoped they had unveiled some fingerprints of the young girl’s attacker or even hair fibers. Any DNA sample would increase their chances of finding their identity. Kenny had determined that Valerie was indeed kidnapped, but a small possibility lingered that she had run away and created the mess all herself for a cover. Even then, how would she have created the two sets of different sized footprints?
“No, we even checked the poem that she had written, there was nothing.” Officer Denaldi spoke.
“Continue to search. There has to be some form of evidence.” Kenny shook his head. He had cases similar to that one before but they always, always left evidence. We just have to dig a little deeper, he thought. It turns out that was precisely what they had to do.
Dig a little deeper.