It’s been 72 hours since he disappeared and the police are yet to do anything about it. They’re spread thin chasing leads about a spree of weird incidents across town.
Cooper’s two best friends, Lara and Audrey, both deeply in love with the lad, have decided to search for him – even though he stopped talking to Audrey after a long date with Lara.
The two girls searched for Cooper at his last known location, behind the bar on the edge of town, where Lara admitted to Audrey she was kissing him after they asked a stranger to buy them a pack of beers. Besides that they know Cooper’s parents, who are even meaner to Cooper than they are to themselves, are doing nothing to help.
While the girls found nothing at the scene, many of the townsfolk were praying for the lad that night because the pastor had asked them too. Lara and Audrey knew this, they were at church when the pastor acted in accordance with his position in the community. But what the girls didn’t know was that some of these townsfolk were praying around a black cauldron boiling with oil and bone.
A text from an unknown number with the single word “unchanged” was sent to Audrey’s phone just as the two were leaving. It included an attachment of an image of Cooper before he met up with Lara. Specifically, he was sitting at the truckstop diner drinking a strawberry milkshake.
The girls made their way there and entered the diner with concerned looks, which at that time of night were not the looks two young girls should have while so many unseemingly types were around: truckers and drunks looking to do anything to not yet go home. However, none of them were paying the girls any attention. In fact, they were all too busy listening to a pirate radio station blast on about what the police had cornered inside the old Mill.
As the search for Cooper continued to turn up false leads, Lara overheard a biker at the diner mention how some young lad with lanky limbs he had working for him was no longer the person he made himself out to be. She tried to put certain thoughts out of her head, quickly shifting focus back to Audrey. Someone needed to, Audrey was young, immature and in way over her head as she tried to put the moves on a couple of loggers chowing down on turkey-burgers at a booth. She wanted to press them for information, but Lara put a stop to it. “Maybe he’s been like this all along…?” Lara thought. She couldn’t get it out of her head and hated how paranoid she was becoming because of all this.
In the mill across town, exactly eight police officers, the entire town’s police force, were inside the building, standing in front of a large office with no windows, signalling to each other to bolster defensive positions and make sure the thing inside had no way of getting out.
At the pirate radio station, the DJ quickly added in that a young lad with black hair and lanky limbs had been spotted with another man in a black “wizard’s hat” just outside the east side trailer park. He then thanked the locals and their commitment to the neighbourhood watch program. Lara and Audrey immediately knew it was Cooper because no one else could be described as lanky limbed. The DJ followed it up with that a man with a similar description as the one wearing the black plastic wizard’s hat was last week reported to have been fleeing Ned Dickens’ farm after one of his cows became violently ill.
As the girls were leaving the diner, a trucker asked them if they would like a lift to wherever it was they were going. They kindly declined, but he insisted he could get them to where they needed to be, such as the trailer park, faster than their feet ever could. Lara gave the man the finger before running out the door with Audrey in tow. They ran across the gravel car park outside the diner, stopping just at the road. It was dark out. They looked back to see if anyone was following but no one had bothered. In fact, inside the diner looked dark, like the lights were all off. But before they could think much of it, a red porsche came speeding to a stop right next to them. In the driver’s seat was a young man with black hair and lanky limbs, but it wasn’t Cooper. “Get in,” he said. “I’m going to the trailer park too.”