Few people notice the absence of Victor Lewis, an Urbex that targets one building a month, taking pictures and recording video. Two weeks ago, he targeted an abandoned mall, and told friends of his plans – only they made the connection to his plans and disappearance, and share it on a small local forum. As the rumors spread, more follow after Victor’s footsteps.
Mature | Death; Body mutilation; Body horror;
Her phone rings as she pulls into her driveway.
“Is this Carol Tyler?” An older woman is on the other end of the line.
“You’re talking to her,” she pulls out her backpack and a few bag of groceries from the back seat. “What do’ya need?”
“Would you mind coming into the police station to answer a few questions?”
“Yes, but can I inquire what this is about?” Carol slams her car door and stuffs her shoulder into her head with the phone between them, then pulls her keys from a pocket and jiggles them into her front door, Tilly hops around and scratches at the door.
“I cannot answer that,” Tilly’s barking mutes the caller and Carol pushes the rottie back into the house, dropping her bags on the kitchen counter.
“Apologies, can you repeat that?”
“I can’t answer your question. Are you home?”
“Yeah, just got back.” Carol pushes canned foods into the cupboards, “but I can leave as soon as I am done. Which location do I need to be at?”
“The Toledo Police Department.”
“Ah, alright. I’ll be there soon. Do I need to sign in?”
“Yes. Thank you for your time.” Carol stuffs her phone into her pocket. “Sorry Tilly, no walk today.” The dog bounces around the room, barking again and laying half down on the floor. Carol shakes her head and ruffles Tilly’s ears before she gathers her wallet from her backpack and heads right out the door, leaving Tilly alone to whine and paw at the door.
She drives straight to the police station with her music low. She finds a parking space along the side of the road and walks a block to the police station. She’s sure it’s about Victor Lewis, the missing man that might’ve disappeared into the abandoned Findlay mall – but there is no telling what it could exactly be about, and so she walks into the station barely confident, walking up to an empty booth.
“Carol Dally Taylor, I was called in for questioning a few minutes ago,” the man at the front desk goes through the computer hidden from her sight.
“An officer will be out soon to take you in for questioning, just sit in one of those seats in the back to be called.” Carol gives him a quick thanks and sits herself away from the entrance, opening a game app to play until she gets called.
“Carol Taylor?” She shoves her phone back into her pocket and gets off her chair.
“Here,” and she walks over to the officer and follow him in. They walk past the main offices and into a small room at one side of it, and they sit.
The officer, an older woman, pulls a recording from the wall-end of the table. “Do you mind if this conversation is recorded?”
“No, I’m fine with it,” Carol sits in seat with her hands holding each other.
“Alright,” the officer sets up the recorder and places it between the both of them.
“Sunday, November 10th, 2013, 5:42. Officer Elrois of Toledo, Ohio questioning Carol Dally Taylor in the missing person case of Victor Thompson Lewis. Have you had any contact with Victor Lewis before he went missing?”
“No, I can’t say I have. Until I saw his missing person flier Saturday evening and talked to his ex-wife’s friend – who was one up on a notice board at my friend’s apartment complex.”
“Who is this friend of yours?”
“Hadi Omar, we’ve been good friends for a few years now. I was at his place with Alexis Machirna for a movie night.”
“Another good friend of mine, she’s trans and moved up here for college a year ago.”
“Have you either heard from or seen Victor Lewis after November first?”
“No, not exactly. Me and my friends think he might have an account on an internet forum that we go to a few times a week.”
“What is the website, and what it is based around.”
“It’s UrbexNOH.com, U-R-B-E-X-N-O-H.com – it’s short for Urban Exploration North Ohio. People make plans to go to either abandoned, dilapidated, or places that are in a state of decay. Pictures and Videos can be submitted as well.”
“Do you remember the name you think Victor Lewis went under on the website?”
“Yeah, VTLewis – I strongly think it is him based on that and that the user hasn’t been signed in for a week now and hadn’t followed up after going somewhere he was planning.”
“Do you know the location that he might have gone to?”
“An abandoned mall in Findlay, it’s in the North-western corner. I was there a few hours ago just to check the place out from the street and then came back home. It took a while to find it, but a group of teens pointed me in the right direction.”
“Hm. Hadi Omar said that you might’ve driven down there.”
“Eeeh, yeah. The closet I got was barely into the parking lot so I could do a U-turn back out of the area to get back home.”
“Is there any other information that you think could help the investigation, Ms Taylor?”
“Nothing else for sure besides what I’ve said. Have you talked with Hadi Omar?”
“Yes, Mr. Omar came in earlier on his own with a friend to give a statement about his potential lead – he said that you might also help in the investigation.”
“Oh yeah, for sure! But, I got nothing to share anymore now…. Except. Does the department communicate with the Findlay police? I saw a few missing persons fliers on the way out.”
“No, the department doesn’t – but the task-force can look into it. Thanks for your time Ms. Taylor,” Officer Elrois holds out her hand, Carol shakes it and starts to get up. “If anything else comes up, we may try to contact you – is that alright?”
“Yeah. That’s fine with me, officer,” Elrois holds the door open for Carol, “if I manage to learn anything else, should I call you or…?”
“Just ask for Sergeant Elrois, have a good day.”
“You too,” Carol slips right out the front door of the office and into the front lobby, worming around a couple people to get outside, where the streetlights shine lighter than the sky. “Shit,” Carol bundles herself deep into her coat, zipping and buttoning it before shoving her hands into the front pockets, fiddling with her car keys. After walking the block to her car she starts driving home, bypassing the main streets for the quieter streets, letting her radio play into the dark interior of her car.
Letting out a sigh, she drifts off back onto the highway, back to Findlay.
She still remembers the tingling in the back of her neck when she looked at it, a deep presence that tugs at her skull for the time she was there. It’s pull wasn’t driving her back, she repeated as she drove through the low-traffic lane, it was the presence that felt heavy in her soul. Her phone ringed when she started pulling off the highway.
“Hello?” She drives through streets lit by sparse passing cars and streetlights.
“Got busy again?”
“Oh, Mom. Sorry about not coming over today. I… sorta got wrapped up in a couple things,” she watches out for the White Rats trail, slowing her car in the quiet streets.
“That’s alright Carol, I got wrapped up in my own things as well, oh god you wouldn’t believe it.” Her mother laughs in the background, children playing with each other in the background. A smile splits Carol’s face.
“Hosting another sleepover?” her car slows and rounds into the parking lot of a pub.
“Yes, yes, the neighborhood kids don’t got school tomorrow and they wanted to hang out together, give their parents a break.” Her mother laughs in the background, she hushes a child loudly asking for another serving. “No Jamal, No more of the casserole until the morning. Carol, you think you can bring Tilly tomorrow? Tyler and the boys miss playing with her.”
“Sure, sure. Should I bring up anything? Running short?”
“Nah, nah, honey. I can get any missing supplies when they run out. Good to speak with you dear,” Carol starts to back her car out of the parking lot again.
“You too mom, I’ll seeya tomorrow.”
“Kiss kiss.” The call closes and Carol follows the white rat again.
She drives deeper into the dark streets, letting the radio barely chirp as the car rolls through the snow and salted streets. Her stomach makes a horrid gurgle; she doesn’t diverge from the cold streets into any of the fast-food places lining the cross-sections. In the distance the dark building is lined by the last lit clouds on the horizon, the sharp rectangle corners cutting against the sky. Fewer lights speckle the snow-bordered streets as she draws closer to the dark shape in the distance, very few people walk the streets, even less in the quiet neighborhood lining the streets around the mall. Stark blankets of snow encircle the mall and the dim poles speckled along the parking lot, Carol sweeps her sight across it while her car slows to a crawl, trying to scope out anything standing pronounced against the snow. Three times she circles around the entire structure, sizing up the basic external structure, memorizing the boards over the doors and the graffiti snaking around the ground level. On the beginning of the fourth pass around the building she watches a group of five people walk across the road and into the snow field – she stops her car and gets out.