The Disappearance (part 5 – A short story by Mark Brady)

 “We don’t know who it is yet,” said Captain Peamopnt.

They pulled up in front of the church. Officer Rogers was there waiting for them inside. The four of them entered the sanctuary.

“I found the clothes over here. By the organ. It looks like ladies’ garments to me,” said Bill. “I was vacuuming when I noticed them.”

“Okay. Thanks, Bill. Don’t get any closer,” commanded the Captain. He and Officer Rogers started looking around the area before bagging the clothes.

“Captain, that looks like the dress Mrs. Jones was wearing this morning. She is our organist and said after this morning’s service that she was going to practice the special piece she was planning on playing next Sunday,” commented Pastor Scott.

“Captain, there’s a purse over here, next to the organ. I’ve got my gloves on already. Do I have your permission to look in it for an ID before I bag it?” asked Officer Rogers.

“Sure. Just be careful about it,” replied the Captain.

Officer Rogers found a wallet and opened it. “Yep, the purse belongs to Wilma Jones.”

“Oh my goodness. I can’t believe this. She is such a sweet lady. She has been playing the church’s organ for twenty-five years. I’ve only been here for nine. Ya know? The four people missing are all from my church.”

The officers bagged the purse and the clothes and looked around for any evidence of foul play but didn’t find any.

“At least we didn’t find any of Mrs. Jones’ organs!”

“That’s enough, Rogers. I think we have all we need here. Let’s call it a night. Rogers, you and I will head back to the station. I’ll take Pastor Scott home first.”

“I’ll get the lights. I’m done anyway cleaning the church,” said Bill.

“Thank you, and I’m hoping you are okay Bill,” said Pastor Scott.


The following day at Bradys, there was a meeting about the disappearances. Not really, but it’s all the people there for breakfast could talk about.

“I heard it was the work of aliens,” commented Bob Anderson.

“Bob, get out of here. You don’t really believe that do you?” challenged his friend Ronnie as he cut up his two eggs easy over.

“Why not? They strip off their clothes before they beam them up to probe em.”

“It’s not aliens doing this,” said Lloyd sitting across from Bob and Ronnie.

The two turned to acknowledge Lloyd. “Then what is it?” asked Bob.

“It all has something to do with the Spook Light. I haven’t put it all together yet, but I’m convinced these disappearances are connected to it.”

“Have you ever been up there to see the Spook Light?” asked Ronnie.

“Many times,” replied Lloyd. “Look at how many people have been killed or have disappeared in the area surrounding the light. Just like the legend tells of a miner whose cabin was attacked by Indians while he was away. Upon his return, he found his wife and children missing and is said to continue looking for them along the old road, searching with his lantern.”

“But these disappearances have all taken place just in Seneca!” exclaimed Ronnie.

“So far,” said Bob. “Besides, the government studied the Spook Light and said it was nothing but gases coming up from fishers in the ground, and they glow. And glowing gas doesn’t make people disappear! Well, except when gases come out of Ronnie! Then people disappear!” Bob had a huge grin on his face.

“Oh, you’re so funny, Bob,” said Ronnie.

“The Air Force,” said Jimmy as he took a sip of his coffee.

“What about it?” asked Lloyd.

“When I was in Nam, the Air Force was trying to develop a ray gun they could deploy from aircraft that would cause people to disappear. According to rumors, the gun shot out a light that only worked on biological matter. They are probably here in Seneca to test it. You know, with this being a small town and all. I mean, who would miss us?”

“I don’t know about any of these theories. I think we are all scared, and should be, and are grasping for some answers. Even crazy ones,” said Elona, who was sitting nearby listening. “I’m finished with my breakfast and have to get to work. I’m late. Hey, if I don’t see any of you tomorrow, it was nice knowing ya.” She paid her bill, left a small but generous tip for the waitress, grabbed her purse, and walked out. The door squeaked behind her.

The guys looked at each other and laughed. “She’s always been like that, ever since elementary school!” said Bob. A few minutes later, he said, “Hey, look.” Pointing to the front window of the old café. “She said she was late, but her car is still out front.” They all got up and went to the window.

“No way!”

…To be continued…

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

The Disappearance (part 4 – A short story by Mark Brady)

“Captain, I found a pile of clothes behind the Piggly Wiggly. They looked familiar, but I pulled out the wallet to verify. Sure enough, it’s old man Trout. Ya know how he always wears that denim apron? He probably was taking out the trash but didn’t quite make it because the bag is next to his clothes.”

“I’ll be right there. Don’t touch anything else,” ordered the Captain.

Captain Peamont arrived in the alley behind the grocery store as quickly as possible without raising suspicions. That meant no lights flashing, no siren blaring, and no speeding through town. He didn’t need panic to set in. They were already getting questions phoned in about Mr. Baily’s disappearance as well as Tamera’s.

“Rogers, grab an evidence bag. Put on some gloves and put Mr. Trout’s clothes in it. There may be some evidence or DNA on them other than yours.” He started looking around the scene. He didn’t find anything suspicious outside the store, so he looked inside. He knew the store closed on Sundays at 6 PM. He looked at his watch, which now read 6:37. Again, the Captain found no evidence of a crime being committed.

“Rogers, take the clothes to the station, and put another pin in the board.” The store phone rang. “Don’t answer that. It’s probably his wife. I’m heading over there now to give her the news.”


“Evening Mrs. Trout. May we come in?” said Captain Peamont.

“Sure. Come in, Captain and Pastor Scott. Have a seat here in the living room. Would either of you like something to drink?”

“No, thank you, ma’am,” both said almost in perfect harmony as they sat on the plastic-covered sofa. Mrs. Trout sat in her baby blue La-Z-boy.

“Pastor Scott, I am so sorry to hear about your daughter’s disappearance. I just can’t imagine what is going on here in Seneca. Then I got a call this afternoon from Betty Freeman, who told me Mr. Baily had also disappeared. My goodness, gracious. What are these days coming to?”

“Mrs. Trout, we’re here to inform you that your husband, Wilbur, has become another person to disappear. Officer Rogers found his clothes behind the store.”

“What?” she replied with her left hand covering her mouth. “No. Not my Wilbur,” she said while reaching over to the Queen Anne coffee table for a tissue. Pastor Scott moved over and took her hand.

“Remember, Martha, that God is with us in dark times. His Spirit is here with you and me as well to comfort us. I know Captain Peamont and his officers are doing everything possible to figure this out.”

Captain Peamont’s radio went off. He jumped and headed out the door while pulling it off his belt.

“Captain, we just got a call from Bill Russell, the janitor down at the First Baptist Church, and he says he found a pile of clothes in the sanctuary.”

“10-4 dispatch. I’ve got Pastor Scott with me. We’ll head over there now. Tell Bill not to touch anything.”

Back inside Mrs. Trout’s home, “I’m so sorry, Martha, but I got a call about an incident I need to go investigate. It’s at the First Baptist Church, so I need to take Pastor Scott with me.” Pastor Scott stood and looked at the Captain with bewilderment but didn’t ask any questions.

“Is there anyone we can call to come over and be with you, Martha?” asked Pastor Scott.

“No. Thank you, though. I’ll be okay…I think.”

“All right. If there’s anything we can do for you, call me at home day or night. Remember, my number is in your church bulletin,” Pastor Scott said while he hugged her.

Once in the Captain’s car, “What happened at the church?”

“Bill Russell called the station and said he found a pile of clothes in the sanctuary.”

“Who is it this time?”

…To be continued…

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

The Disappearance (part 3 – A short story by Mark Brady)

“You call the police about a missing person?”

“Yeah. My husband. We came home from church, ate our lunch, and he told me he was going out to the garage to do some tinkering. He likes to tinker. Rebuild old radios, fix neighbor’s lawnmowers, that kind of thing. I went to take a nap. When I got up, I didn’t find him in the house. I started making dinner, assuming he was still in the garage. But I knew something was wrong when he didn’t come in for dinner. I have never had to call that man to dinner in thirty-five years of marriage. When he didn’t show up, I went to look in the garage, and he wasn’t there. I only found a pile of clothes in front of his workbench.”

 Officer Johnson looked over at Officer Dawson. “A Pile of clothes, ma’am?” asked Johnson.

“Yes, officer.”

“You’re husband’s clothes?”

“Why yes! Who else’s clothes would they be?”

“Just making sure, ma’am,” Johnson replied.

“Is he on any medication?” asked Dawson.

“No, except Ibprofin occasionally for pain.”

“Was the garage door open? Is his vehicle still here?” asked Johnson.

“His truck is here, and the garage door was still closed. And the garage door lights were still on. He never leaves a light on when he leaves a room. Never!”

“Did you look in the backyard?” asked Dawson.

“Yes. He wasn’t there either. That’s when I decided to call you all. I didn’t want to think my husband had gone off his rocker and was running around town naked. Hey, you don’t think this has anything to do with Pastor Scott’s daughter missing, do you? Terrible thing. Not knowing where someone is, especially a daughter.”

“Not sure, ma’am,” said Officer Dawson. “May we get a photo of your husband, please?”

“Of course. I’ll be right back.” The lady went into another room, and the officers could hear her rummaging around.

“I can’t believe this!” said Officer Johnson. “Two strange disappearances in two days, no sign of foul play, and,” he looked at the floor, “both of them leaving their clothes behind.”

She re-entered the living room and handed them a photo. “That’s when we visited our daughter Karen and our two grandsons at Christmas last year. She lives over in Kansas. Well, Wichita, to be exact.”

“Okay. Thanks, ma’am. I think we have enough to go on, and we’ll put out an APB for the other officers to be on the lookout for him,” said Johnson.

“Thank you, officers. Oh! One other thing. When I looked for my husband in the garage, his grinder was still on, and what he was working on was on the floor.”


Back at the Police Station, The officers cleared off a bulletin board. They put up a large map of the town of Seneca that included the area that bordered it. Then they inserted push-pins in the location of Pastor Scott’s house and 422 Oneida Street. They used a color system to indicate the sex of each person who had disappeared.

“I wonder if we have some kind of sick, twisted serial killer on our hands,” Officer Johnson wondered.

“Oh, you mean he tells them to strip down naked and then quietly go with him?” Officer Rogers joked.

“Not funny, Rogers!” said Captain Peamont. “At this time, we don’t know what we have going on here. All we do know is two fine people are missing. We don’t know why. We don’t know if anyone is behind this or not, and we don’t know where they are. Yesterday we looked all over Seneca for Tamera and came up empty-handed. We need to keep our wits about us, keep the people of Seneca calm, and… it wouldn’t hurt to be praying for God’s help in the matter. Do your normal patrols and be on the lookout for anything strange, out of the ordinary, for Seneca, that is.”


The officers went back to their patrols as Captain Peamont had ordered.

“Dispatch, this is Rogers. Put me through to the Captain immediately!”

…To be continued…

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

The Disappearance (part 2 – A short story by Mark Brady)

“Officer Dawson, our daughter is missing!” cried Joanna when the police arrived. Scott showed Officer Dawson and Officer Johnson into the living room.

“I’m so sorry, Joanna. I assure you we will do all we can,” Dawson replied after hugging her.

They looked around while filling out their forms for a missing person. They even looked up in the attic. They asked if they could have a recent photo of Tamera. They also asked if she had any enemies.

While in Tamera’s room, Johnson asked, “Are these clothes lying on the bed what she normally slept in?” They hadn’t even noticed them while they were searching for her.

“Yes, they are, but her normal daytime clothes are also here.” No one knew what to make of that.

The officers left to put out an “APB” and start the search.

“What do we do now,” asked Joanna, looking at her husband

“The officers asked us to stay here in case she shows back up. And I have a sermon to finish up.”

“You still going to preach tomorrow?” inquired Joanna. “How?”

“I don’t know, but I feel as though I have to show the congregation how we are to handle real-world struggles, and you don’t handle them by hiding. Speaking of hiding, have you seen Luke?”

They went into the kitchen and found him eating the abandoned breakfast.

“What? I was hungry!” exclaimed Luke.


Scott entered his study and shut the door. It was a warm, comfortable feeling place with all of the natural wood walls. He sat in his desk chair and reached for his sermon notes. The words were difficult to read through watery eyes.

“God, why is this happening? Where is my daughter? What happened to her? Help me, Heavenly Father, because I don’t know what to do, and help me, God. Give me strength for my family and my church.”

His phone rang. Caller ID displayed, “Darcy.”

“Hello.” Trying to hide the shake in his voice while wiping tears away.

“Oh my goodness! I just heard. What happened?”

“How did you hear already?”

“Officer Dawson is married to Julie, and she told Susan, who is friends with Kelly, who does my hair. I was in her shop this morning when she got the news. I am so sorry. What can I do? Organize a search party?”

“That’s not a bad idea. It couldn’t hurt.”

“I’ll get on it.”


Sunday Morning

“This is not a typical Sunday morning. First, let me say “Thank you” to everyone who showed up yesterday to search for my daughter, Tamera. I think the whole town showed up.” He tried to muster up a chuckle. “Joanna told me I didn’t have to preach this morning, but I feel I do, if not for anyone else, me. The message is about “faith.” More importantly, how to keep your faith when times are rough. I’m glad God directed me to prepare this message this week. He knew I would need it.

When you have more questions than answers, you lean into God more than ever. You continue to believe what you know about him. And speaking of that, get to know the characteristics of God before you go through a trial, not in the midst of one. You continue to trust that his thoughts and ways are higher than ours.”

Pastor Scott shared the event’s details, but most in attendance had already heard, with it being a small town. Most of the women and a few of the men wiped their eyes in compassion. After the service, everyone in attendance felt the need to love on their pastor and his family by waiting their turn to hug them. To find some words to encourage and support the family. Doing what a church is designed to do.


The rest of the day dragged by for Scott and the family. Scott asked if anyone wanted to talk about what they were feeling, but only a few words were expressed. They all found a comfortable place to curl up and stare into space, eventually falling asleep because the night before it alluded them. They all drifted off, thinking the same things, “What happened to Tamera? Where in the world is she? Did someone take her?


“Car 57. Please see the lady at 422 Oneida Street concerning a missing person.”

…To be continued…

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

The Disappearance (part 1 – A short story by Mark Brady)

“I love living here,” said Darcy while sitting in Bradys old café sipping her coffee.

“Why’s that?” asked Scott finishing his eggs and toast. He and his cousin Darcy often met for breakfast.

“For one thing, it’s safe. Nothing bad ever happens here. We don’t even lock our front door. And it’s not too big either. You know, people wise.”

“Yeah. And those same people also know you and your business!” exclaimed Scott. “You know the saying, ‘You have a bowel movement in the morning, and by noon, everyone in town knows what color!”

Darcy laughed. Snorting on her coffee. “There is some truth to that.”

“Ya know, I heard the other day that the town of Seneca now has 2000 people. So your little town is getting big time,” said Scott.

“But we still don’t have a Mcdonald’s, so it’s not that big,” responded Darcy quickly.

Scott said, “I like the town’s look, how it sits in a small valley. The hills bordering it make you feel secluded from the world but not alone. And I love how we have two creeks running through town. We could probably do without the train line running through it these days. That would make it quieter. I know it was needed when the town was first developing.”

Scott is thirty years old, has been married to Joanna for fourteen years, and was born in Seneca. He has two children. His daughter, Tamera, is twelve, and his son Luke, is eight. He has been the minister at “First Baptist Church of Seneca” for nine years. He is medium height and has brown hair. His sermons are as firey as his quick-tempered personality. The youngest of six brothers and four sisters. He had to stand firm for his portion of meals and his family’s attention.



“Luke, what is it?” yelled back Scott while trying to locate him inside the house. He found him in his daughter’s room.

“Tamera is missing!”

“She’s probably just hiding from you. She has to be here somewhere.” He looked around his tween’s room. There were posters of Taylor Swift, piles of dirty clothes, books from school, and what little makeup her mother was allowing her to wear.

“Dad, I’ve looked everywhere in her room. I know her hiding spots!”

“Okay. I’m sure she’s around here somewhere. It’s pretty out this morning. Maybe she’s outside.” Trying to reassure his son that there was nothing to worry about.

Scott, too started looking for his daughter everywhere.

“Have you seen Tamera this morning?” Scott asked Joanna, who was in the kitchen making breakfast. She rolled her eyes from top right to top left.

“Come to think of it, I haven’t. I just figured she was still sleeping in her room since it’s Saturday,” Joanna commented.

Joanna turned off the fire from under the eggs and joined the other two, still looking inside and out. At first, the pace wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but panic set in as their search expanded and the big hand on the clock got further into the day.

“Let’s regroup,” ordered Scott. “Everyone into the kitchen. Joanna, why don’t you start calling her friends to see if she is at one of their houses? I’ll re-examine her room to see if there are any clues. Luke, you come help me.”

In Tamera’s room. “Luke, look to see if you can find her phone. I’ll check the closet and her dresser drawers.” In the back of his mind, he was trying to recount if she would have any reason to run away. He couldn’t think of any.

“I found her cell phone. It’s still here, Dad.”

“She doesn’t go anywhere without her phone,” exclaimed Scott. “I’ve asked her many times to leave it at home on Sundays. Somehow she forgets to silence it, and I’m not too fond of it interrupting my sermons. Especially with her ringtone of ‘You Belong With Me.’ Oh goodness, my sermon for tomorrow isn’t done yet.”

Scott checked the windows. They were locked. He returned to the kitchen to check in with Joanna.

“Any luck? Has anyone seen her, or is she at anyone’s house?” Joanna held her finger up to her lips and finished her conversation on the phone.

“Okay. Thank you, and if you see or hear anything, please call us immediately. Yes, by all means, pray,” Joanna said and ended the call.

“Honey, no one has seen or heard from her. The last text messages one of her friends got were around 11:30 PM.,” she said while snuggling into her husband’s arms. Tears begin to flow. “Our daughter has disappeared. I think we should call the police.”

…To be continued…

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.