I'm sorry I didn't post yesterday, although I said I would. Things have been utterly insane. I've been on the phone, working, giving statements, talking to all sorts of people all day. Everyone seems to think that nothing could possibly happen the way it really happen. But it did. I was there.
We found the bodies.
We found. The. Bodies.
I've come to hate the phrase.
Yesterday morning, I found out that shortly after Allie and I had left the police station, Mary-Ann Compton had been rushed to the hospital, suffering from hypothermia. What made this especially odd was that when we'd gotten her out of the woods, the paramedics had declared her (for lack of a better phrase) very cold, but able to be taken straight to the station. She'd kept getting colder, even in the warm station. Then, at the hospital, she kept getting colder. They were able to get her temperature up, and she's fine now, but for a while they weren't sure whether she'd survive.
This time, we set off at dawn -- others had to go to church or do other things with their families, so there were only about twenty of us -- and all made a beeline for the eastern edge of the forest just off Grier Nursery Road. We didn't have to look long. Once we got to the place where we'd found Mary-Ann Compton, we spread out, all keeping sight of each other, in a line, like a comb.
Before long, I realized that the leaves beneath my feet were crunching way too loudly. I looked down, and found that they looked blackened and brittle.
"Look at the trees," I heard Allie say beside me. "They look like something's singed them."
I looked up; they most certainly did. Black marks streaked them in some places, although none of them looked outwardly burned. Yet.
By the time they did, no one cared about how the trees looked anymore.
They were blackened and burned, the few remaining leaves stripped away. There was a thin layer of ash on the ground. It looked like a perfect circle where they'd been set on fire. Like someone needed to make their own clearing. The sunlight touched the ground through the bare, thinned branches for the first time in who knows how long.
The bodies, however, weren't burned. They didn't look like fire had touched them. Fire would've been too merciful a death. I heard Allie scream. Someone shouted, "Oh, my god!"
They were above us, far above us, in the trees. One of them, I saw, had branches impaling her arms and one of her legs -- they looked like they'd grown straight through her. The others, the four men, looked like they were somehow resting in the tree in such a way that they wouldn't fall.
All of them were cut open at the chest. Not torn, but cut in such a precise way, and then closed back up, although not tied with anything. Someone around us threw up. Someone else fainted. I couldn't do anything.
Most people left on their own with their respective chaperones. Detective Goldman came over and told us it was okay, the police have it under control now, and we can go, and he was sorry that we had to see this. Allie didn't have to be told twice; she started walking back with another Officer, automatically assuming that I'd follow. And I would have, if I'd been able to move. Detective Goldman touched my shoulder. Slowly, I was able to turn my head away from the bodies. Later, he told me that the look on my face scared him more than the crime scene. He helped me back to the car. Allie drove us down to the sheriff's office, where we and the others in the search party filled out witness statements.
It was textbook, readers -- fucking textbook, right down to the bags the examiners found their organs in when they took them down later in the day.
Today, Detective Goldman called me to see how I was doing. I told him I was fine -- as fine as I can be -- and he filled me in on some of the things they found, particularly about the fire. They have no idea what started it (a bolt of lightning is, so far, the logical prime suspect), but it looks like things happened like this:
Around the Tuesday before they were reported missing, the group of vengeful parents were somehow caught on the recieving end of a brush fire. Trapped, they climbed up into the trees (for some damn reason) and died of smoke inhalation (there is no evidence to support that as the cause of death, by the way). Mary-Ann somehow survived the fire, even after it caught on the trees and the surrounding brush. This is where things get a little more concrete, since from what tiny amount of information they've been able to get from (still catatonic) Mary-Ann, they know that she remained in that spot, probably in severe shock, for several days. With the bodies.
I don't think I can keep this from Violet much longer. She's been swamped with projects lately, and unable to read the blog, but she's bound to find out. My brain is just numb -- I can barely think of anything right now. We're going to lose. I can't even comprehend how we can end this in our favor. I just can't.