This story has been officially published in a literary collection. The story appears on page 115. Feel free to check out my author's page or blog to learn more details about this.
I used to watch this YouTube channel about paranormal topics all of the time. It had a weird name like Paranormal Headquarters Television or something of that like. Just what you would expect a YouTube Channel of that genre would be called. Whenever I was working on something on the computer I would always have the narration of the videos going on in the background. I even talked about this channel with family and friends.
Of course many of them just rolled their eyes and didn't give the channel a watch. They didn't share my interest of the paranormal but they always supported my strange obsession with it. I have always been into learning about the mysterious and unexplained mysteries of the world. The weirder the topic, the better. You might say I have had a lot of paranormal experiences in my life so learning about people who had gone through similar things was a bit of a comfort.
I continued my ritual of logging into YouTube and listening to this channel for a year. I learned about every topic possible from the Marfa Lights to the Skunk Ape. Not one paranormal topic went untouched. At the beginning of the New Year, the channel narrator started a new series about paranormal experiences he had personally gone through. It had its own little playlist so I started listening to that playlist more than the main channel because I love hearing people’s personal paranormal stories more than anything else. I listen to him talk about all sorts of things from lizard men, to spotting Big Foot in the woods. But one day logging into YouTube and going about my usual ritual of listening to his playlist, I immediately noticed that something was amiss. The new video playing didn't have the same audio quality as his other videos. It was grainy and scratchy and there were parts of the audio that could not be heard all together.
In the audio that did get through, sentences like, “I may not return again after this,” and, “I found something I shouldn't have,” peeked through the noise every once in a while. I figured that this was a jump scare video or something so I didn't pay much attention to it. This was a channel that focused on the scary end of things after all. But the next time I went to find the channel it had completely disappeared. No matter where I searched for it; on YouTube, on Google, on every search engine I could think of, it just was nowhere to be found. Even the website that I would visit occasionally had completely disappeared. It was like it had never existed.
The weirdest thing was that when I would talk to people about the YouTube channel in a vain attempt to get some information from others about what had happened to it, no one knew what I was talking about. Even the friends and family I had shared the YouTube channel with had no idea what I was talking about when I brought the topic up. Eventually I gave up trying to find the channel. I thought that maybe I really had just imagined the whole thing. I tried not to think about it. But then, when I was browsing for new paranormal channels to watch, a video with the narrator of Paranormal Headquarters popped up in one of my search results. I clicked the video right away without even reading the caption.
The video played and turned out to be a news story. It was dated, having been broadcasting the previous year. In the news story the lady on screen talked about the narrator who I learned was named Cory Felton in real life. Cory had apparently gone to a party with some friends and disappeared shortly after. They had launched an investigation into his disappearance but as of the date of the broadcast no one had seen or heard from him. This intrigued me so I looked up follow up news stories about Cory Felton. They progressed throughout the year talking about how no matter how many search parties had set out to find Cory no one could find him. The last news story said that due to the length of his disappearance it was assumed that Cory might be dead but they were still keeping up hope that they would find him.
All of this information was almost too much to process. While Cory was supposedly missing I had somehow been watching a YouTube channel narrated by him. Could it have been that he ran away and was making the YouTube channel from an unknown location? Did he already know his life was in danger before making the channel? Questions like this rushed through my mind. I thought that I should share what I knew about Cory with the family. They had a website which reached out to the internet community and pleaded for people to give them any leads they could think of to get their boy home safely.
I sent an e-mail talking about everything I had been watching on YouTube for the past year, including his personal playlist about the paranormal. I didn't get a response for a while but then Cory’s mother called me one day out of the blue. She sounded quite excited on the phone and asked me to meet up with her and her family in Bangor, Maine. She said she would pay for the plane ticket, as I lived in Paris, Texas, and insisted that I visit their family, being someone who had information about her son’s disappearance.
So that is what I did. I flew out to Maine to meet with Cory’s mother and the rest of their family. When I arrived, his family greeted me with warmth. You could see that they all looked tired and warn out as if Cory’s disappearance had just taken place yesterday. After settling in I went over all of the details again. Cory’s mother explained how the only object missing from Cory’s room was indeed his laptop. He had been researching all sorts of paranormal stuff for a year and kept insisting that he was going to spread his knowledge to the world. So it made sense that he would make a YouTube channel. Why he would run away to make it was as of yet still unknown. It was obvious that he had a very loving family and from what I gathered reading his journals he had really no problems in school or with other people that would make him want to run away or skip town for any particular reason.
I comforted the family the best I could when I was there and told them that they could always keep in contact with me if they needed someone to talk to. They were grateful for that and even after I left a week later, I kept in contact with Cory’s mother, his father, and his older brother through e-mail or Facebook. Unfortunately, I never was able to find anything else about Cory Felton again. That YouTube channel was the only connection I had with him and that had long disappeared. However, a few years later Cory’s mother sent me a lengthy e-mail explaining how Cory had returned to them seemingly lacking any sort of memories from his past or recollection of what had happened to him over the time he had disappeared.
He only showed up at the house because he had been dropped off there by a white van. The local police were looking into the case but were not coming up with much of anything that could help the family. Cory was slowly adjusting to being home again but he was not the same teenage boy that had gone missing. He wasn’t interested in paranormal stuff anymore. In fact, he intentionally stayed away with it or insisted that that stuff wasn’t real.
He didn't like any of the foods he had liked in the past. All of his clothing preferences changed. It was like he was a whole different person, but honestly this didn't bother the family. They were just happy to have him home. The final e-mail was the last connection I had with the Felton family. They got busy with their own life and trying to help Cory adjust to being part of their family again. I went back to listening to paranormal shows like usual as I worked on homework from university or building one of the websites I did as a side job as I was going through school.
But the strange nature of Cory’s disappearance always stuck out in my mind. I would never forget the YouTube channel he made and his final message talking about how he didn't know if he would return after finding out whatever he did about the unknown. It always made me wonder what he had found that would make him fear for his own life and why he had run away from his family in the first place. I only know one thing; after seeing what happened to Cory I am keeping my paranormal experiences to myself. I mentioned before that lots of weird things have happened to me. But you won’t find me talking about them. At least, not here on the web. Because the internet is the place those people who took Cory are watching, ready to erase the memory of anyone who knows more than they should about the paranormal.
If you are a person who likes paranormal things and sharing them with other people like me, let this story be a lesson to you. Keep your stories to yourself. You never know if the men in the white van are watching your every move. And if you say too much, erasing your memories might not be the only thing they do to you.