Gone in the Storm: the Hurricane Vanishing of Autumn Dawn Dooker

Hurricane Irma made Florida landfall at Cudjoe Key on September 10th, 2017. Over the next forty hours, the hurricane harassed the state of Florida, spoiling weekend plans and upending every third thing in her path. On September 12th, with Irma well to the north, Autumn Dawn Dooker-Farquhar left her home in Central Florida to walk her dog, Biscuits, within the gated community of Fox Gulch Preserve. It was a humid morning, loud with the mechanical hum of generators supplying electricity to luxury homes along a powerless grid. Windblown clouds lay above as if a cotton ball had been raked over a blue canvas; skies were otherwise clear. Hugh Farquhar, the last person to have seen his wife, claims to have watched her innocuous departure from within the garage where he was salvaging the exotic game meats within his thawing freezer. Five hours later, Hugh would begin making phone calls inquiring on the whereabouts of Autumn Dawn Dooker-Farquhar. She was gone. 17 days later, Biscuits returned without his collar or leash or Autumn Dawn. Biscuits had a locator chip implanted which was still intact and active even though it had been unresponsive over the prior two weeks of searching. Hugh Farquhar offered a $2,000 bounty on his wife, who he claimed was the mother of some of his three children and the owner of at least as many maxed credit cards. In the years since, Hugh Farquhar has remarried and further propagated, but his reward remains unclaimed.

If there is an expert in the field of hurricane disappearances, it is mechanical engineer Jimmy Beakers, the author of internet posts such as, “Spitting into the Wind”, “The Mathematics of the Aftermath” and “How Hurricanes Rip Holes in the Space-Time Continuum”. Jimmy Beakers isn’t an easy man to find, but I track him down to an Apopka gas-station where he is waiting in line at a food truck selling shaved-ice refreshment. I offer to buy his “Unicorn Bliss” dessert, a concoction of cotton candy and a multitude of artificial flavors & coloring. Jimmy Beakers is quite pleased with this arrangement and agrees to a discussion on the history of hurricane vanishings.

“Dude-bro, imagine a dozen decades ago…” Jimmy Beakers sets the mood. “Texarkana in the wake of the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900: everything’s catawampus, topsy-turvy, upside-down and inside-out with prairie wolves howling at the sun and sisters from the Convent of the Flying Nun chasing geese through church pews while a spotted heifer is perched on the steeple. Dorothy is telling Toto, ‘we ain’t in Arkansas anymore’, but it ain’t quite Texas, maybe somewhere in between. The mayor of the Arkansan side of town decides reinforcements are needed out of Little Rock and sends for the telegraph operator, Dirk van Dierks. Now everyone in Texarkana knows Dirk van Dierks, he’s ‘the Lying Dutchman’ who’s been practicing telegraph fraud for the better part of three years, but Dirk van Dierks is the only dude technically savvy enough this side of Dallas to operate the damn contraption. Texarkana Mayor Winham offers Texarkana Mayor Estes a half acre of Arkansas donkey shit and a jar of shine if he’ll send the fire brigade from Red Lick, Texas, to fetch the rascal Dirk van Dierks. Fair deal; Red Lick’s Volunteer Fire Brigadiers find Dirk van Dierks hunkered-down in the bottom half of a bottle of port up at the Red Lick Bordello being spanked by Fanny Tolliver.”

The Van Dierks Brothers Telegraph Service: Dirk, Daan and Thijs, 1899 Ft Worth

The Fanny Tolliver?” I ask. “The infamous hatchet murderess of Izard County?”

“A dude would assume, wouldn’t he?” Jimmy Beakers shrugs shoulders with a pouty bottom lip. “Anywho, the fire brigadiers march old man Van Dierks back towards the Arkansas side of town to work his telegraph magic, but somewhere along the way, Dirk van Dierks becomes distracted by the crying of a tom cat in the broken window of a saddle shop. Being a friend of felines everywhere, Dirk van Dierks leaves the footpath to check on the cat. Before he can reach the shop door, he vanishes. Poof! Dutchman gone doggo. Seven witnesses attest to the disappearance, half of whom were upstanding citizens with the other half Texan. While the fire brigade never saw Dirk van Dierks enter the saddle shop, they still searched the building from bottom to top, coming up Dirkless. Interesting, right?”

Jimmy Beakers’ lips are already dyed unicorn blue. It doesn’t slow him down in the least…

John Paul George standing guard

“San Calixto Hurricane of 1780, a dozen decades before the Great Galveston Hurricane, Florida belongs to His Majesty, King George the Third Turd, but in those days, the Brits considered Florida to be something they stepped in, something they needed to scrape off the bottom of their Georgian boot. Florida was not the highest priority of the empire, if you catch my drift. Not to mention the British redcoats were occupied with the rebel colonies to the north, y’know, General George ‘Wood-Tooth’ Washington and his disloyalists. The British presence in Northeast Florida was less of an outpost than an outhouse manned by a second lieutenant and a lamp-lighter who spent most of his time chasing the swarthy laundry ladies of the Minorcan Village next door. In the wake of San Calixto, Second Lieutenant John Paul George was concussed after having a church bell bounce off his skull cap and began wandering the celery fields looking for his nana. The lamp-lighter and a legendary French furrier named Jacques Breaux watched as Second Lieutenant John Paul George approached a well before suddenly disappearing. They couldn’t believe their eyes after they booted-up next to the well, finding it full of storm muck and a pair of imperial pantaloons, but empty of second lieutenants, pantless or otherwise. John Paul George had up and vanished right out of his jodhpurs.”  

“I’m sensing a pattern.”

“Spoiler alert: yeah, maybe.” Jimmy Beakers shrugs again. “Hurricane Andrew hits Southeast Florida in 1992. The cross-state Presbyterian Church of the Holy Mother out of Ft Myers sends a church-van full of able-bodied teenagers, bottles of water and ice. The missionaries are helping out in devastated Homestead when 15 year-old Shelly St. Cloud becomes overheated. Youth Pastor Jerrick Magee gives Shelly the keys to the church-van where she can cool herself in the air-conditioning. Pastor Magee and the other kids don’t see Shelly St. Cloud alive again. Even more disconcerting to Magee, their church-van is where they left it, but the keys are missing along with she who holds the keys. The missionaries have to hitch a ride with their dreaded rival Methodist Church of the Holy Mother back to the left coast of Florida. Meanwhile, authorities search hell and high-water for the missing Shelly St. Cloud; find nothing… nothing except her pristine white Converse sneakers.”

Vic and Jimmy Beakers, contemporary Florida

“How’d they know the shoes belonged to her?”

“Dude!” Jimmy Beakers gives a sigh of exasperation. “I don’t know, man, they did a DNA test or some shit. Maybe Shelly’s mom wrote her name in permanent marker on the tongues of the shoes. Anywho, Shelly St. Cloud is barefoot, presumably, and nowhere to be found. Until a week later, after rubble is removed from a Homestead gas-station which had been crushed in the storm. They find the body of Shelly St. Cloud under the rubble. There’s not a scratch on her. No bruises. She’s long dead and maggoty, but the mortician cannot determine cause of death. Her death certificate says ‘storm related’, but Shelly St. Cloud didn’t arrive in Homestead until Hurricane Andrew had passed.”

“Did they find the church-van keys on her?”

“Did they find the church-van keys on her?” Jimmy Beakers repeats my question. “Really, man? That’s the question you ask?”

I think about it. “Yeah, pretty sure that is the question I am asking. And what did the Presbyterians do with the church-van? Did they have a spare set of keys? Did they tow the van all the way back across state?”

“Dude…” Jimmy Beakers shakes his head; exasperation holding firm. “These are not the questions you should be asking. The question you should be asking is ‘how the heck did Shelly St. Cloud end up on the wrong-end of a collapsed gas-station?’”

“Okay.” I comply. “How the heck?”

“Wormholes.” Jimmy Beaker says, narrowing further his cowboy squint, making his eyes especially beady. “Some sort of portal opened, perhaps forcibly from the violent hurricane, and each of these disappearing people stepped out of our universe and into something else entirely.”

“You’re saying Shelly St. Cloud stepped into a ‘star-gate’ which whiz-banged her out of her Converse into the multiverse?”

“Look man, I can’t say for sure.” Jimmy Beakers shows me his empty hands. “I don’t have proof. But, I think there are these portals between our world and the next which can be opened by higher intelligence, either from our side of the portal or the other, and these beings can jump back and forth through the multiverse like rabbits darting in and out of briar patches. I know for a fact the Pentagon is researching access to the multiverse.”

“For a fact?”

“I met this dude at an airport bar in Melbourne.” Jimmy Beakers pauses in his story to clarify, “Melbourne, Australia, that is, where I was doing classified military activity myself, which is why the Pentagon guy saw me as kindred spirit, having recognized me from a croquet match we played against each other at an all-night rager at the embassy. Anywho, I find this bloke at the Melbourne airport bar, already with a blood-level of 2% bloody mary, and he’s gushing how nice it is to see a friendly face and he is confiding in yours truly, telling me how he’s been up at Pine Gap near Alice Springs where there is a joint-covert operation to tap into this aboriginal star-gate portal where the old folks of Australia used to enter into their dreaming place. It’s a door to another world, but we don’t have the keys.”

“Like Pastor Jerrick?” I suggest. Jimmy stares back at me dumbfounded. I ask, “Who is the key master?”

“Them!” Jimmy Beakers says with his index finger pointing up. “All the unexplainable unidentified Frisbees and witches and Leprechauns and angels, these beings are who can come and go as they please.”

“And when a hurricane comes along…”

“All that static electricity or sheer wind force, something, it blows these interdimensional doors wide open and unsuspecting drifters accidentally drift from out of our world into the next.”

“Without their Converse? And how does this explain the girl being found under a gas station?”

“Shelly St. Cloud?” Jimmy Beakers rubs his silver soul-patch in thought. “Well, damn-it-shit, I don’t know. Maybe an interdimensional Sasquatch grabbed her for a dance and when returning her misplaced her under the collapsed gas station. Dude-bro, look, I can’t prove any of this, but I think there is something to it. I think after a hurricane or a tornado or maybe even an earthquake, certain doors into other worlds might open.”

“What of Autumn Dawn Dooker-Farquhar? Could she have stepped into one of these multiverse portals?”

“Yeah…” Jimmy Beakers pauses for a thought. “Or she had a sugar-daddy sugarier than Hugh Farquhar, someone who whisked her away to parts unknown. Just cuz you can’t solve the mystery doesn’t mean you can blame it on interdimensional elevators.”

“Say you’re right and a hurricane can open a portal to another world. What can I do to avoid stepping into that shit?”

Jimmy Beakers shrugs. “Not much, man. Maybe just pray that wherever you go they have good wi-fi, cold beer and friendly lady-folk. Hey, maybe you’ll run into Autumn Dawn. I hear she was quite the life of the party, I mean… when she was alive… or, at least, alive here.”

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