Sarah and Michelle were best friends. They went everywhere together, one was never without the other, kind of like you never have a "Q" without a "U" behind it. Well, you never had a Sarah without a Michelle. So it was only reasonable that when Sarah disappeared, Michelle did too.
It was Aug. 25, 1995. Summer vacation was almost over. In less than two weeks the girls would be in their senior year of high school. Neither of them were anxious for school to begin, in fact, they were dreading it. To remedy their depression and officially end the summer, they decided to have one last party. They decided to go camping in the woods with a bunch of their friends. It would be so much fun - no parents, no worries, nothing but them and the great outdoors. No one would ever forget this summer! They just didn't know how right they were.
They had food to feed an army, clothes, chairs, and one enormous tent. The two had decided to go up to Baker's Mountain campground. It wasn't really a mountain, more like a big hill in the middle of the forest. But it was the best choice, because they would most likely be the only ones around for miles...just what they wanted.
The trip up there took about an hour, an hour filled with laughter, jokes and an all-out good time. When everybody arrived at the campground they all jumped out of their vehicles hooting and hollering. All in all there were six of them: Sarah and Michelle, Josh, Samantha, Janet and David. All good friends, and all ready to have a great time.
Their first priority was to go swimming in a little lake nearby. It wasn't very warm outside. In fact, it was getting downright cold, but none of them cared. They all went crashing out into the water anyway staying in there for about a half-hour, which was amazing considering the temperature.
When everybody got out of the water and had changed into jackets and pants, they set out to make themselves dinner. By now it was pretty cold outside and from the looks of the sky it was going to storm during the night. The kids were having too much fun to take note. The remainder of the evening was spent telling stories, teasing each other and eating a mountain of hot dogs, chips and pop. To Sarah and Michelle, the trip was turning out just the way they had imagined. It was the best trip ever. No joke!
Eventually, darkness set in - the wind began to pick up and the temperature dropped rather fast. None of the kids noticed, however. Janet, the future photographer decided she would go get her camera. It was a really fancy one her mother had gotten her for her birthday with a special filter so you could take pictures in the dark.
She started snapping photographs of everybody as they sat around the fire. David and Samantha as David shoved a hot dog in her face. Sarah trying to scare Michelle. Josh making funny faces.
These were the memories they would have forever and ever. No one would ever be able to take these away from them. They would have them for the rest of their lives.
No one ever saw those six again. When they didn't come back the next day, their parents started getting worried. Where were they anyway? Four of the parents drove up to the campsite to investigate. What they found dumbfounded them. There was Sarah's car, David's truck, the tent, the food and the campfire. It was all there. Nothing disturbed. Everything was as it should be ... just no kids.
As you can imagine, it sent the town into panic. How could six high school students just vanish? They spent months up there looking for some shred of evidence as to what happened, but nobody could find anything.
One day, Janet's mother was looking through a box of Janet's belongings the police had given her from the campsite. In it she found the camera. At first she set it aside, close to tears, but after a while curiosity got the best of her. She decided to get the film developed so she could have some memory of Janet in her last days.
When she got the pictures back, it became clear what had happened. Well, clearer than before. There were many pictures of that night. All of them showed a bunch of teenage kids kicking back before the school year began.
But one photograph - the last one - was different. It showed Sarah and Michelle. They were staring at what looked like right above the camera, but their normally bright cheery smiles were replaced by horrifying grimaces of terror.
This photograph sent another ripple through the community. It started a whole new investigation. The crime scene was scanned over once again. Hundreds of questions were once again asked. Once again, to no avail.
Although this photograph was an obvious key as to what happened, it could offer no clue to the truth.
To this day nothing more is known about the strange disappearance of those six students. It still remains a mystery.
Mary Neal is a senior at Grant Union High School.