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- Matt found a note, signed by Sarah, asking him to meet her on the pier where the Fisherman’s Pier restaurant once stood. Alarmed by the wording of the note, he went--only to find himself attacked knocked out. He awoke tied up in a strange, dark room.
- Danielle dropped by Matt’s apartment to see him, but he was not there. When she found the note from Sarah and then spotted his truck parked by the pier, she became concerned.
- Graham prepared for the demolition of a commercial real estate property on Pier 23. A promising encounter with his estranged son, Alex, made him question a plan that he had recently set into motion…


Orange cones, yellow tape, a crane, and a long-arm excavator: the scene on the pier looks ominous to Graham Colville as he parks his Mercedes and hurries toward the demolition site. The overcast Northwest sky hangs over the proceedings, amplifying the sense of impending doom that seems to be enveloping Graham. He hurriedly locates the foreman of the crew.

“Graham Colville,” he says, jabbing his hand toward the man. “I’m the developer of this project.”

“Oh, yeah,” the bearded man says as he shakes Graham’s hand. “Looks like everything is on schedule and according to plan.”

“That’s good to hear.” Graham’s chest tightens as he looks toward the structure, ready to be demolished. “Has the walkthrough been completed?”

“Had it done last night, and I had one of my guys do another quick one before dawn.”

“Terrific.” Graham nods along as he stalls for time. If Matt is in the room where he is supposed to be, he must not have been awake or making noise by that point. Graham isn’t surprised that no one examined every nook and cranny of the building during the second check. Normally, if a bum had gotten into the building during the night, it would be hard to miss the mess or the smell.

  Graham Colville

“Nothing else appears out of the ordinary?” Graham asks.

“No.” The foreman crosses his thick arms and looks offended by the suggestion that everything is not aboveboard. “We’re ready to go. This whole place will be done for in an hour or two.”

Graham’s mind races. There is no way that he can stop this demolition without implicating himself. And if he does not stop it, Matt Gray is going to die inside that building.


“Help me! Someone help me!”

Matt’s throat is raw from screaming as he finally gives up on slamming into the door. There is no knocking it down, and it is locked from outside. If he is getting out of that room, it is not through that door.

Because of the lack of windows, it is still miserably dark in this room--wherever it is. His eyes have adjusted to the dark somewhat, but between his diminished vision and the screaming pain inside his head, even that is a trial.

With his feet still taped together, he shuffles slowly along the wall, searching for something--anything--that might help him. Maybe there is something he hasn’t discovered yet. Maybe he can at least figure out who did this to him, who knocked him out and threw him in here.

He has an idea, insane though it seems. Sarah didn’t leave him that note. He should have known. The writing looked like hers, but if someone wanted to fool him badly enough…

Not now. He has to focus on getting out of here.

Then he sees it, high on the wall: an air duct. It is small, perhaps the size of a shoebox, but it is an outlet to the world outside this room. It might be all he has.

His pulse soars as he moves around the room, frantic to find something that might help him get up there to reach the vent. But there is nothing. He yells again, a noise that does not add up to words, a shout that dies in the air before anyone ever has the chance to hear it.


Matt’s disappearance is still weighing heavily upon Danielle Taylor when she stops for a coffee on her way home. The note from Sarah… his failure to answer his phone or return messages… his truck being parked down by the pier… something very strange is going on. She is turning it all over in her head once again, trying to make some sense of it, when a key part of the jumbled story walks through the door.

Danielle, waiting at the end of the counter, for her drink, hesitates only a moment before going over to Sarah Colville. Despite having once been in-laws, they have not had the closest bond since Danielle returned to King’s Bay--especially in light of the animosity between Sarah’s best friend, Diane, and Danielle--but this is far too important to let awkwardness interfere.

“Hey, Sarah,” Danielle greets her.

“Danielle. Hi.” Sarah wears a bulky black coat, but her pregnancy is very noticeable.

“Do you have a minute? It’s important?”

Sarah looks confused but nods. “Yeah. Sure.”

They step to the side, navigating through the line of customers.

“Is something wrong?” Sarah asks.

  Sarah Fisher Colville

“I don’t know. I’m trying to…” Danielle shakes her head, trying to loosen the tangled web of thoughts enough to articulate herself. “Maybe this is none of my business, but do you have any idea where Matt might be?”

“Matt?” Sarah seems taken aback by the mention of his name. Danielle can’t tell if it is because of whatever is going on between them or because Danielle is the one bringing him up. “No. I had a missed call from him last night. I didn’t see it until I woke up this morning and checked my phone.”

“Last night?” Danielle’s heart pounds harder. “You weren’t meeting him?” She sees Sarah hesitate and hastens to add, “Whatever is happening between the two of you is none of my business. And I’ll keep it all to myself, I promise. I’m just worried about Matt. I stopped by his place this morning and saw the note you’d left.”

Sarah’s face screws up with confusion. “What note?”


Graham puts on the hardhat that the crew gives him, just as he has at hundreds of construction sites before. The scene is very familiar and yet so, so foreign. Matt must be in that building somewhere, as planned; Graham spotted his blue pickup truck parked by the next pier. But his plan, which seemed airtight 24 hours ago, now threatens to make him physically ill.

He thought that he had no other choice. He thought that he had lost Alex because of his past mistakes, and he wasn’t about to lose his wife and their unborn child to Matt Gray. But his chance encounter with Alex this morning made him realize that perhaps all Sarah needs is time, and based on the way she acted earlier, maybe that is true. She is pregnant with Graham’s child. Was he crazy to imagine that she and Matt were carrying on an affair behind his back? The thoughts were so overwhelming that he felt he had no other choice.

And now he will have to live with this for the rest of his life.

“It looks as if it might rain,” he comments to the foreman.

“Weather report says we’re clear ‘til tonight,” comes the response. The man clasps a beefy hand on Graham’s shoulder. “Don’t worry. We’ve got this under control.”

“Great. Thank you.” Graham forces a genial smile as the man moves along. In a matter of minutes, the entire structure will come crumbling down, burying Matt inside and ending his life.

Graham is attempting to make his peace with that when something even more nerve-rattling comes screaming out of the distance: police sirens.


“Anything yet?” Sarah asks from a chair in the police commander’s office.

Brent Taylor sets down his radio. “They just got to the pier. They’ll keep up posted.”

Danielle, who has been pacing back and forth, stops to lean against the closed door. “Thanks for doing this, Brent. I know it’s too soon for a Missing Persons report, but this seems really weird for Matt…”

Sarah nods in fervent agreement. “That note you said you found--I didn’t write it. I have no idea who did.” Her stomach twists, but she can’t tell how much of it is anxiety and how much of it is the baby.

“I sent an officer to Matt’s apartment to find the note,” Brent says. “We can have the handwriting analyzed if we need to.”

“I just want to find him,” Sarah says.

“Do you think it’s possible he just wanted to drop off the grid for a little while?” Brent asks, his gaze shifting between his sister and his ex-wife.

“It didn’t seem that way when I saw him last night,” Danielle says.

  Brent Taylor

“And we both texted him that we’re worried,” Sarah adds. “Even if he needed to get away, he would let us know that he’s okay.”

“Unless he has his phone turned off,” Brent says, but none of them seem particularly reassured by that possibility.

A silent moment passes as a wave of adrenaline buzzes through the room.

Brent grabs his jacket. “Let’s go,” he says, but the two women are already headed for the door.


Graham sees the foreman talking to a police officer and, trying to quell his nerves, makes his way over to them.

“I’m the developer,” he says to the officer. “What can I help you with?”

“We’re investigating a missing person,” the officer explains. “Do you mind if we ask your crew members some questions?”

“Of course not.” Better than searching the building, Graham reasons. In the distance, he sees another officer taking stock of Matt’s truck.

Who would have figured out that Matt is missing already? Graham wonders. Anger swells within him as he realizes that it must be Sarah. Perhaps Tori tried to get in touch with her father and said something…

He sees another police car pull into the lot but does not think much of it until he sees who gets out of it: Brent Taylor… and another woman… and Sarah.

It takes him a moment to recognize the other blonde woman as Danielle Taylor, but by now, all of Graham’s attention is focused on the fact that Sarah is here. Could she have figured it out? How is that even possible? He decides that the best course of action is to face this as any unaware person would, so he hurries to meet his wife at the end of the pier.

“Sarah,” he says. “What’s going on? Why are you here?”

“It’s Matt. No one knows where he is,” she says.

“That’s awful.” He folds his pregnant wife into an embrace.

Brent finishes speaking with another officer and turns. Surprise registers as he takes in the sight of Graham.

“I’m developing the property on Pier 23,” Graham explains. “What’s happened to Matt?”

“We don’t know,” Brent says. His focus shifts down the pier, to the waiting demolition site. “Is there a demolition in progress?”

“We haven’t begun yet,” Graham says, “but we’re trying to have it completed before the rain comes.”

There is something accusatory in Brent’s gaze, something that sends a chill through Graham’s body.

“You’re gonna need to wait a little while longer,” Brent says. “We need to search that building.”


Matt sits against the wall in the dark room, his shoulders slumped as he tries to think. This is like some horrible puzzle with no solution. He has four walls, a locked door, and an air duct that he can’t reach. That’s it.

He tries to claw at the heavy duct tape wrapped around ankles, binding them together, but it is no use. Without a blade or a pair of scissors, he cannot free his feet. After 20 or 30 minutes pass--at least that’s how it feels--he struggles back to a standing position.

There has to be something I can do…

But there isn’t. He has searched the room. He has investigated his options. Nothing. His head is throbbing, and his mouth and throat are so dry that even breathing is becoming a nuisance. Furious, he slams his shoulder against the door again.

Who could have done this to him? Could it have been a random attack? But that note from Sarah… His mind keeps taking him to one very chilling place, but he doesn’t want to dwell there, not until he can get out of here.

And then he hears it: a voice. It is distant, dulled by the walls, but it is a voice.

“Hello?” it calls. “Hello?”

Without even thinking, Matt lets a wild yell rip from his body.

The voice responds: “Hello?”

“In here!” he shouts, but his dehydrated mouth and throat make it difficult for him to get the words out. He tries again: “In here!” They still sound garbled, but they bring footsteps in his direction.

The next few minutes are a blur. The voices calling to him become clearer. He pounds against the door to make his location known. Then he hears what is possibly the most glorious thing he has ever heard: the door’s lock being picked. It takes only a minute, and then the door is swinging open, and Matt sees two police officers standing in front of him. A rush of words follows, as one of the officers grabs him and takes stock of him. Then the officer is ushering him out of the room, and eventually, he sees daylight through a window.

Back in the room, the other officer lingers, shining his flashlight around. He stops when his beam catches the glint of something in the middle of the floor, and he bends down to examine it.

“The hell?” he says to the empty room as he takes out a small plastic baggie to scoop the item up.


What did the officer find?
Will Graham be able to cover his tracks?
Will anyone put the pieces together?
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Friday, March 9, 2012

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