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The Disappearance of Amelia Bowden

by Chris DW 3 months ago in fiction

Tales from the Syndicate Vault: Part One

The disappearance of Amelia Bowden

Syndicate Vault Entry: 2675

Case Occurrence: November 2018

Martyria Collected: 13th April 2019 by Field Agent Venatoru

Committed to vault: 20 June 2019

Martyria of Steven Bowden as follows:

Amelia was an insomniac. It wasn’t exactly a huge secret, pretty much anyone that knew her well could see the times at which she posted on Facebook, or the tiredness in her eyes after she had been up for a few days. Still, she was quiet about it and that was her choice. She always said it was hard enough getting people to respect you without them labelling you an exhausted incompetent. As her husband I got to know how much it cost her, how many different things she tried, pills, meditation, yoga, teas, the full works. All of it just to try and seem a little more functional, all chasing just a few hours rest.

When we first started living together I would wake up so many times to see her across the other side of the room on her laptop, the screen illuminating her face as she scrolled endlessly through Facebook, or delved into weird corners of the internet chasing her next story. She was a journalist; did you know that? She had articles published regularly in half a dozen e-zines and feeds. Sorry, I’m avoiding the subject by talking about her career, that's not what you're here for right? I told all this to the police, but they didn’t believe me, in fact I think it made them more suspicious of me for a while. I can hardly blame them though, young woman goes missing, it's always the husband, or the boyfriend, or the lover, right?

So, it all started in September of 2018. August had been a pretty rough month. Amelia had hardly slept at all, and at the end of it she’d had one of her ‘bad spells’, the ones that lasted a few days with maybe an hour's sleep here or there. It was nightmares mostly, that kept her awake, or woke her up after a short sleep. Terrible nightmares that she wouldn’t ever talk about, not even with me. And yes, before you ask, she’d tried therapy. These must have been worse than usual though; she was quieter and more withdrawn than I’d ever seen her. She hardly spoke, hardly ate, she was wasting away before my eyes. I tried to help, but it was such an ingrained problem, neither of us knew where to begin. And that was when she found Dreameater.

Dreameater was an app that she’d seen recommended on some forum or other. I don’t know which one. It wasn’t on the app stores, you had to download it separately. Normally I don’t think she would have, it didn’t exactly seem safe, but I think she was desperate. The app was pretty simple, like hundreds of others out there, it just played relaxing sounds as you went to sleep. Forest sounds, waterfalls, cicadas, that kind of thing; but it worked, that was the amazing thing, it worked. The first time she put it on she fell asleep in ten minutes, and slept for eight hours straight. That morning was like Christmas, I’d never seen her wake up so happy, so bright, she positively glowed, she was like a whole new person.

The first two weeks were like a dream. Amelia suddenly had so much energy, not just for work either, but for me. We went on dates, went shopping together; the house suddenly just had so much joy in it, they were the happiest two weeks of my life.

Then the sleepwalking started, this wasn’t like a huge problem or anything, sleepwalking isn’t exactly abnormal. It was a bit odd since Amelia had never done it before, but we chalked it up to the fact that she was getting a good amount of sleep for the first time in her life. It wasn’t anything too intense either, I'd just wake up occasionally and she’d be standing at the foot of the bed looking at me. One time I saw her staring off into the corner of the room like a cat. Plus, she was my wife you know? It wasn’t actually scary. The only vaguely creepy thing about it was that the UI of Dreameater, which you had to keep open for it to work, had a kind of eerie red glow to it that never quite seemed to illuminate the room. That, and the way she would stare of course, like she was staring at you without even seeing you, that was a bit creepy; but like I said, not actually scary. I’m a pretty deep sleeper by and large, so there were probably more nights where she did it and I didn’t even notice.

This carried on for a couple of weeks. Amelia still seemed to have loads of energy during the day, and the occasional sleepwalking aside, things were working out really well. Then one morning she woke up and her feet hurt. When she checked them, they were covered in dirt and rubbed raw, like she’d been walking barefoot on concrete. This was when we actually started to worry, it seemed pretty clear that she’d left the house in the middle of the night, and that just wasn’t safe. Not that we lived in a bad area or anything, but still, wandering around the streets at night, asleep, I think anyone would be worried about that.

That night we took some precautions. We made sure all the doors were locked and put the keys on a high shelf where Amelia couldn’t reach them. We went to bed as usual and fell asleep fairly quickly as Dreameater played in the background. I slept quite lightly that night and at one point I woke up and realised that Amelia was gone. The red glow of Dreameater was also missing and I figured she must have gone to the loo or something. I thought it was best to check though, so I got up and headed downstairs. As I got to the bottom of the stairs, I heard a strange knocking sound coming from the kitchen. I went in, and there was Amelia, standing by the back door. She was moving slowly, ever so slowly, and maybe every five seconds, she would raise her fist and knock twice on the back door. She had her phone in her hand with Dreameater still open on the screen. I asked her “What are you doing?” and she turned, without any kind of start or hurry, looked at me with those vacant, staring, sleeping eyes, and said “He needs me to go to him.”

“Come on love.” I said, “You’re asleep, let’s go back to bed.” I took her by the arm and started leading her back upstairs. She resisted for a moment, then let me lead her back to bed, where she just lay down and closed her eyes. I didn’t get much sleep that night, on the surface it wasn’t that big a deal; but it just left a kind of creepy feeling in the pit of my stomach. When I told her about it the next day Amelia laughed it off, she said she’d had a weird dream where I was trapped in a block of ice and she was beating on it to rescue me, she was just glad she hadn’t broken the window.

After that things started to get weirder. One day Amelia logged into her laptop and saw that she had sent a bunch of emails, just long strings of letters and numbers, to an email address that was itself just an alphanumeric string. When we tried to test it by sending an email, we got a notification that it couldn’t be delivered. Another time I woke up about four or five in the morning, I went downstairs and found Amelia sitting in the living room. She was holding her phone up in front of her face like she was video calling someone, but she was just saying gibberish, then pausing like she was listening to a response and occasionally nodding. At this point I brought up getting rid of the app, but she said she couldn’t go back to the way things had been before. I accepted that, I loved my wife, trusted her judgement, and I just wanted her to be happy. If she was still happier getting a decent sleep even with all of this weird stuff going on, then that was good enough for me.

The night Amelia disappeared was pretty normal. We had dinner, went to bed, nothing out of the ordinary there. However, I woke up about two AM, because I thought I’d heard the back door open. With everything that had been going on, I rushed downstairs. Sure enough, the back door was swinging open and it was bitterly cold. I ran right outside to see Amelia disappearing around the corner. I chased her at full speed, but the moment I rounded the corner there was just this explosion of pain. I fell over, shaking, feeling sicker than I ever had in my life. I could hear the clatter of a two by four dropping to the ground; someone had hit me in the head with a plank of wood! I watched, unable to move as Amelia calmly walked down the side of the house and got into a red car with some man. Both of them were bathed in the glow of Dreameater coming from their phones, both of them had that creepy blank expression on their faces. I threw up then, and I think I blacked out a little, because suddenly they were just gone. I called the police, and they called an ambulance; the paramedics said I had a concussion, and mild hypothermia. I answered the police’s questions as best I could, and they started a search, but they couldn’t find any trace of Amelia or the car.

And that was that, the whole story. The police did an investigation; they questioned me repeatedly, understandably I guess, but eventually they gave up. They said that according to my account she’d left of her own free will, but I don’t think she did, not for a second do I believe she was in control of herself. I tried doing some research into the app, but I hit a dead end when I couldn’t find anything online, and I never knew where Amelia got it in the first place. I’ve put up posters, Facebook pages, websites. The last six months I have obsessed over everything I can remember, wondering if I missed something, if I could have stopped her from going, if I missed some clue that would tell me where she went.

I’m sorry, I try not to break down like that. Thanks for taking the time to listen, it feels good to talk about this; especially since most people think I’m crazy when I start, who did you say you were with again?

--Martyria Ends--

Follow up investigation notes from Agent Venatoru:

Follow up investigation could find no trace of the Dreameater app. The email address that Mr. Bowden provided has indeed been deleted and is not associated with any other activity. The police investigation was fairly thorough, brought no relevant information to light, and remains an open case. A check of syndicate records indicates the involvement of Dreameater in three other disappearances, however these were judged at the time to be unreliable accounts due to substance abuse issues. I Recommend a thorough review of these previous accounts in light of this new martyria.

Scrivener Notes:

Accepted as a true record of events and committed to vault 20th June 2019 by Scrivener Wells.

Chris DW
Chris DW
Read next: I See You
Chris DW

Hi I'm Chris, a freelance proof-reader, editor and writer with an interest in Sci-Fi, TTRPG, horror and all things nerdy.

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