It was a sunny, and unseasonably (but pleasantly) warm, Friday morning in the middle of December, and I was walking down the hall towards my office, my arms full of finals that needed to be graded. It was that blissful end of semester time of year, when students and professors alike would soon be free to attend to their own devices over winter break. This particular break was something I was looking forward to immensely, it being the first time I would go out on a solo project with the funding of my department behind me. When the familiar voice first called out to me, every muscle in my body tensed.

"Doctor Barrows, Doctor Barrows!"

I turned to see a dark haired girl running towards me through the flow of overworked, sweaty undergrads, her backpack bouncing around wildly behind her. I recognized her as one of my better students, Michelle Harrison. I had a feeling about what she wanted, and I hated to do it, but she was about to be very disappointed. She took a moment to catch her breath before continuing, the current of students in the hallway flowing around us without stopping.

"Doctor, I heard you were heading out to New England next week and going to Blackfield. Will you be taking anyone with you?" she looked at me hopefully.

I gave her my best smile, "Well, you heard right, but I'm afraid I'm going it alone—it's all the department would afford me since Blackfield isn't exactly a high priority area of research. Most folks see it as a pretty open and shut case even with the lack of any real evidence, only the locals tell the interesting stories, though who knows how many of them actually believe it. The still rather new CDC, for the time, declared the population wiped out by disease, officially tuberculosis, and closed the case."

A look of rejection came across Michelle's face and she slumped, shoulders down. "B-But I can pay my own way, I-,"

I held up a hand, which was dangerous considering how much I was carrying, "That's all fine and good, but I can't let you do that. I do have a group study trip over the summer that you can sign up for, but I'm afraid I go this one alone." In reality, I didn't want to have to babysit during the trip, because no doubt word would spread and more would want to come along. They would all just get in my way, in the end.

She perked up a little at the mention of my summer course, which relieved me. "Okay!" She adjusted the rather heavy looking backpack. "I hope you find something interesting over the break," she said cheerfully and she turned on her heels and bounded down the hall, maneuvering against the flow of her peers like a salmon going upriver.

"Only after I get these damn essays graded," I muttered under my breath, trying not to let the pleasant smile on my face falter.

I sat in my office in total silence, reading the Mythology 101 essays while sipping a half-cold mug of coffee. It was how I did things, and I was always a slave to routine. When my office phone began to screech, I nearly spilled my drink all over the very average paper I was reading.

"Y'ello, this is Doc Barrows," I gave my usual greetings.

"Good afternoon, Sydney," a familiar voice said on the other end. It was the head of my department, William Jacobs.

I sat down my coffee and straightened in my chair, "Afternoon, sir, what can I do for you?" Thankfully most of my colleagues preferred to remain informal, but one must remember to always treat Dr. Jacobs with that old time Southern Respect.

There was a muted cough and then, "Are you fully prepared for your trip? Your flight to Portland leaves Monday morning…"

Of course it did, and I knew this because I was the one who did all the planning for the trip. I didn't explain this to Dr. Jacobs, he just liked to feel as if he had more control over everyone under him than he really did. "Yes, sir, and I'm getting a cab from the airport all the way to Allenstown, where I'll find a local to ferry me across to the island and…"

"Yes, yes," Dr. Jacobs said, and I could picture him obsessively checking his fingernails as he spoke. "Good luck to you, Sydney, you're going to need it," and then he hung up.

I stared into the receiver then gently dropped into its cradle. Dr. Jacobs did not believe, like so many others, that my little trip was going to do any good. But, thankfully, he needed a reason to spend department money and I had provided the best excuse. Having very few of my fellows show confidence in my theories was not so disconcerting for me, being very used to having my obsession with fairy tales taken less-than-seriously by those around me.

It's just that the case of Blackfield Island was a special one for me, because it is the closest thing to a modern day Roanoke that there is, and being able to discern the truth from the fiction would be a monumental find for a notorious mystery.

In nineteen-fifty-three, Blackfield Island had a recorded population of 2,343. One year later, it was zero. In the summer of '53 the mainland got a radio transmission from the Blackfield port authority that an illness was running rampant amongst the islanders and that they were shutting down the ferry services until it came under control. It obviously never did, as that was the last and only message to come from Blackfield about the whole ordeal.

When a "fleet" of fishing vessels from nearby Allenstown arrived on the island after five weeks, they found Blackfield completely barren of any life. No trace of animals or people to be found. Even the waters in the immediate area around the island were clear of any sea life. Meals were found half-eaten; cars found with their gas tanks empty and their doors open. One small neighborhood was nearly burnt to the ground because of an oven that had been left on.

Theories ranged from half the population dying and the other half throwing itself into the sea, to the Devil himself taking all of Blackfield to Hell due to sins of the their ancestors. I found the former to be too romantic and the latter too unrealistic. But I read about Blackfield as an undergraduate and found myself obsessed with it ever since. Fifteen years of my life, waiting for the moment that would come Monday afternoon. But until then, until at least Sunday, I would be busy reading these damn papers.