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Life as a private investigator was difficult enough before this particular case came into your lap. Had you known then, what you know now, you may have simply avoided the case. It seemed simple enough at first, like any other missing persons case in a small suburban area. However, little did you know, following the clues to solve this case would end up changing your life in irreversible ways, and soon enough, solving the case would be the least of your worries.

Investigating a series of strange occurrences in the area had lead you to this particular neighborhood. In appearance it differed little from the surrounding mostly developed countryside outlying the larger cityscape over the hills to the east. A far stretching sea of nearly identical pre-built houses with neatly trimmed lawns and small bits of personalization dotting their walls and grounds.

However, over the past 3 months or so the department had been receiving an increasing number of concerning reports from the area. Ordinary citizens suddenly stricken into apparent cases of violent madness, strange changes to some of the inhabitants’ bodies, outbreaks of odd physical afflictions, and a steadily rising number of disappearances. People of no apparent links to each other, of various ages and physical builds, vanishing throughout the woodland bordered grid of development housing.

After canvasing the series of streets and variously pastel tinted houses throughout most of the afternoon, and sizing up the surrounding countryside according to the local maps, you made the observation that most of the stranger sorts of activity seemed to focus around a particular area of the town, a hillside pre-planned community housing area with not much more than a shopping mall, a few roadside shops, and a gas station to serve the gated and well-kept sprawl of houses stretching out from the main road. 

Spending the early afternoon investigating the shopping areas and questioning the various inhabitants and owners turned up little to no useful information that wasn't already available in the case file, save a growing interest from most of the locals on an apparent influx of "newcomers", various businesses and residents who had recently begun flooding into the area during the fluctuating economic times.

The more neatly trimmed surface sights of the area did however give way to a seedier undertone when searching the backsides of the buildings and alleyways between the shopping centers. Your search revealing quite a few oddly impoverished and unintelligible vagrants or drunks of some kind, muttering to each other in hushed and garbled tones when approached, and offering little when questioned.

Little that is, besides unbelievable rantings about strange lights coming from some of the shop buildings at night, and rumors of witches. A certain coven of witches, who apparently used to frequent the hills beyond the developed housing in older times. According to a number of the old drunkards, they claimed these unknown occultists were still burning strange fires and committing dark rituals in the dense forest stretching towards the mountainside.

These rumors, you simply shook off as common local superstitions. Often, when investigating a series of shocking cases like these, the local populace would take to blaming whatever particular local folklore creature or legend-shrouded bit of forest area that their grandmothers had taken to telling them stories about for generations. It was nothing new to encounter such irrational testimonies.

However often such rumors held even deeper truths, mis-identifications of actual committed crimes being taken as lore or mythological happening, by potential eye-witnesses high on their own superstitious beliefs. So, after taking log of the more and less rational accounts of the local commonfolk, you had been able to boil the area of possible suspects, and the highest frequency of reports to a particular series of streets.

All that could be done for now, was to investigate the oft mentioned neighborhood and hillside forest itself. One of the houses on these few blocks must hold either a witness or a suspect that is connected to the strange occurrences and disappearances throughout the area.

One of these seemingly average inhabitants of this gated community was probably a habitual killer, or perhaps a ring of human trafficking had sprung up in the area, they often liked to mask their activities to the eyes of the local populace of more dubious areas by merging it into their local folk-lore.

Assumptions aside the task was clear, and you decided to start by going door to door questioning the neighbors individually to see what you could gather and see them face to face, to get a more accurate judge of character. Although you wouldn't be able to breach certain barriers of their households in this way, unless they were compliant, it offered you a chance to see for yourself who was who on these streets.

The first few houses offered what you had mostly expected. Dreary looking housewives answering the door, painfully distracted by whatever it was they were doing, and already too aware of the same rumored answers he had gotten from the people of the shopping district. "Strange lights in the woods, strangers settling into the town" and a collection of less useful street-side rumors about the other each other mostly concerning who may or may not be addicted to what and who may or may not be sleeping with each other.

The local streets offered little useful towards solving the case, but on the second block, a particularly shut in looking single man, after exchanging the usual pleasantries and being questioned on the disappearances, stated he'd seen a lot of unusual activity on 13th street, particularly around 301-310, the houses that make the round along the cul-de-sac where the road ends.

He spoke oddly cautiously, glancing over his shoulder at the nearby houses as he explained- "a lot of the more rebellious youths in the area have been running around at night, between the houses and into the woods, doing god knows what." He had been keeping an eye on the area at night because he feared his house being broken into but had only seen the usual neighborhood drama and "bullshit" besides that.

He stated when pressed further however, that he had seen one of the local college girls carrying a strange light, a lantern or flashlight of some kind that caught his attention, as he worked in electronics and couldn't recognize the type of luminance as any kind of phone or device he was familiar with, saying it gave off a "strange, blue eerie glow" but copping it off mostly to his imagination playing tricks on him, after being spoon-fed the local myths about "witch-fires in the woods" throughout his childhood.

Walking away from the lifetime resident’s house left you with a strange sense of discomfort. His seemingly sober tale adding a bit of depth to the otherwise passably ignorable rantings of the town gossips and the alleyway drunkards. Standing at your car for a moment, you found yourself unable to shake the unnerving feeling and decided to focus your efforts for the rest of the quickly dimming afternoon sunlight on the Cul-de-sac the man mentioned.

Climbing into your car and shaking off the eerie vibe building from the various rumors you’d collected throughout the day, you drove quickly past the remaining houses on the block and made your way towards 13th Street.

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