As I mentioned in my previous town announcement, I am pretty sure there is a weird, circular light in the woods and it is somehow responsible for all the things missing in town even though I can’t prove it.
Over the last week, I learned that there is evidence this circular light has been in the Question Mark woods for a very long time, probably for thousands of years. I met with Ms. Patsy Elske, a graduate student at the University of Ohio, and she showed me several documents and artifacts that suggest the void was here before 400 AD.
After that I discovered that a French missionary from the 1800s named Jacques Blanchet made a map of the region and detailed a spot in the woods called le vide. We tried to find his final letters but were unsuccessful.
But then, with the help of Pierre from Meow’s the Time, Mr. Bruno Ellis, Iris Engelbrecht, and I found one of Jacques Blanchet’s diaries near a strange-looking tree. The diary was titled Une confrontation avec le vide. Mr. Peter Lefebvre, my high school French teacher, was able to translate some of these pages, which seem to explain exactly what happened to the French colony that disappeared here in the 1740s.
Here's what we found:
14 October, 1748
On a recent circular path across this most wondrous region, where the Lord has seen fit to have me stationed these last two years, I have seen many fantastical and impossible sights. But nothing in my training at seminary or in my last twenty-five-years of life could prepare me for what occurred a week previous in a small, unnamed colony in the southeast river valley.
Formerly a great civilization must have lived here as their markings and shapes in the ground are all about this territory. These shapes give air of something important and perhaps tragic happening, but their mysteries remain a secret.
I had traveled to this small colony many times. There were maybe twelve or thirteen small families, each with a small home of mud and wood, and some fields for plowing. But when I passed back through the region last week, the village was entirely empty of life. I called out many times but without reply. Then I heard a strange sound coming deeper in the woods and ventured there.
I found a young girl crying behind some rocks and so I asked her who she was and what had happened. She said she was from a family named Reinold and her name was Elodie. She was perhaps the age of eight or nine but no more.
I looked down and saw the girl was clasping something to her hand and I was revolted to see it was a human appendage. I asked what had happened and she said the entire village had discovered a bridge to heaven, and all in the village but she had climbed the bridge, and that all that was left was the girl and the hand of her mother, the hand which her mother had offered to the girl as she stepped inside the bridge of light herself.
I asked the girl to show me the hand. At first she refused but eventually relented. On the ring finger of the hand was a ruby ring, which the girl said her mother always wore.
I carefully removed the ring from the unattached hand and offered it to the girl but the child refused to take it as she believed it was now haunted. And so I said a blessing to consecrate the earth and we buried both the ring and hand together.
Then I asked the girl to show me where this bridge of light was. She shook her head, terrified. Again I asked and she led me to a small hidden field and, there before me, was a circle, entirely empty of all color. And if it was sinister or not, I did not know.
For then I saw a bird fly too close and, all at once, it seemed to vanish inside. It was then that I realized this was no bridge to Heaven but an emptiness, a void, a place where perhaps All Time Ends, a hole in the Veil of His Most Remarkable Creation.
I quickly took the girl and we removed ourselves from the village. Further north on my route I left her in the care of some nuns who had a school nearby. I have alerted the Archbishop of the situation as well. I believe this emptiness, this void is perhaps the Mark of Cain. I fear the unsettled spirits of this colony will live on for many years after as the ground itself has been fouled by the corruption of this tragedy. My only hope is that the girl lives on to have a productive, joyful life.
I have promised to visit with the girl on my return trip across the region next March. But let whoever finds these pages be forewarned of the danger hidden in these woods. And let no one underestimate the catastrophe this void poses.
In service of The Righteous Spirit of God,
Father Jacques Blanchet
And so the question is now what, Question Mark? Are we going to face the past together or are we going to keep pretending everything is somehow just going to be okay?