"Thanks for coming," mumbled Linda as she waved towards the other woman. "I'm sorry I'm in my pajamas, but I've been obsessing over this all night. I tried to go to sleep but I couldn't get it out of my mind."
"No worries," nodded Susan as she took off her coat. "I was in mine until you called. What is so desperate that it can't wait until morning?"
"Someone left a videotape outside the paper's office," sighed Linda as she moved over to the TV. "It was unmarked so I presumed it was from a member of staff who had simply dropped it."
"So you watched it?" chuckled Susan. "Nosey."
"I was only going to watch a second," sighed Linda. "I thought if I saw a bit I could guess who the tape belongs to."
"Right. So where do I come in?" asked Susan.
"It is weird. Home recorded," explained Linda, "You're medical, you might be able to give me some idea of what the hell I'm watching."
"Please don't tell me you found a murder tape," groaned Susan as she lifted her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose.
"Not a murder. Weirder," replied Linda as she pressed play on the VCR. Suddenly the screen burst into life showing two girls in the forest. One was completely naked while the other was still clothed.
"Oh pretty lights," giggled the naked girl as she spun around on the spot.
"Bonnie! Bonnie!" shouted the clothed girl. "Wake up! Wake up!"
"So nice," mumbled Bonnie as she slowly dropped to her knees in the mud.
"Wake up! Wake up, Bonnie!" screamed the other girl, a look of pure terror on her face. "Dana is missing! She's just vanished!"
"Dana, you're so beautiful and strong," moaned Bonnie as she embraced thin air.
"I'm not Dana! Bonnie, please! It's Lydia, please respond to me!" Lydia pleaded, her voice cracking as she shouted.
Suddenly the sound of cracking twigs echoed from just behind the camera. Lydia spun around, her eyes going wide. "We had a deal!" shouted Lydia.
She paused for a second, almost like someone else was talking. But there wasn't any noise. All the while Bonnie continued to roll around, her body getting covered in mud as she kissed thin air, giggling drunkenly as she did.
"You said you would make Bonnie love me," shouted Lydia. "That you would make Dana forget her crush so I stood a chance! Not make her vanish! Where is she! Tell me, you monsters! She's been lost in the woods for a day! I need to find her! Tell me!" sobbed Lydia, her voice getting louder by the second. However, no one seemed to respond to her, the only noise was the sound of Bonnie’s dreamy mumbling.
After a few seconds, Lydia, let out a low growl. "I kept my end of the deal! I kept it! Now bring her back! Right now!" she continued to shout towards the camera.
Suddenly, Lydia charged towards the camera, pure rage in her eyes. However, when she got within a few inches of the lens, her body crumpled into a heap. It was as if someone had pressed her off-switch and she fell asleep in an instant. The next few moments showed Lydia's body lay motionless on the floor, soundtracked by Bonnie's drunken giggling.
"Like animals," moaned Bonnie as the tape cut off and the TV went to static.
"You see what I mean?" sighed Linda as she looked up at Susan, hoping for some answer. "What was that?"
"I don't know," mumbled Susan. "Though, I can make a guess."
"What is it?" asked Linda. "I need to know at this point."
"Do you recognize the people?" interjected Susan.
"Never seen them before," replied Linda as she started to anxiously grind her teeth.
"Hikers then," nodded Susan. "I'm betting they went in to get high and took too much. Bad trip. You know kids these days."
"But, how did I get the tape then?" asked Linda as she obviously fought back tears. "They seemed in distress."
"Hallucinogens will do that to you," sighed Susan. "I'm guessing they didn't want their parents having footage of their drug bender so threw the tape out while driving out of town. Likely aiming for that garbage can a little down the street."
"Are you sure? The girl looked so scared. And, who was she talking to?" replied Linda as Susan put her hand on the scared woman's shoulder.
"Likely just other members of their group. Look, if it will make you feel better, I'll take the tape and give it to Bill. He can get the parks patrol to send someone to search the forest and see if they find anything."
"Would you?" asked Linda, a tear running down her cheek.
"For you, sure." agreed Susan. "We'll likely not find anything but their litter, but at least you won't need to worry."
"Right, yes," Linda said with a small smile as she ejected the tape and handed it to Susan. "Thank you so much for this."
"No worries. Though, I need to head home. I have the morning shift tomorrow." Susan said firmly.
"Of course," said Linda as she guided Susan to the door and watched as the woman climbed into her car and drove off into the night.