Below are a selection of emails from Leonard Tomlins, a person of interest in two separate missing person cases in the North Sheffield area. It has been the conclusion of the writing officer, and his colleagues, that Leonard Tomlins has passed away since the writing of these emails. Until further information can be found, these emails offer the only narrative available on the dual disappearances of Sarah Lither and Samuel Tomlins-Lither.
To: James Lang <Jfirstname.lastname@example.org>>
Hey man, sorry I haven’t had chance to speak to you before you left. Didn’t really know what to say since I missed your goodbye party. Still, though, I kind of have an excuse. I woke up on Friday and went through the whole routine, cleaned up a little for Sam’s visit, got myself showered and ready and when I went to leave there was a dog waiting by my front door. Like, seriously, just this manky looking little thing with a note around its neck that read,
“Give it everything”.
It was a real curve ball! I took the little thing in and it made itself at home while I went and knocked on some of the neighbours’ doors. After a while I was told about a guy a couple of doors down who had lost his dog a few weeks ago, but when I saw him he told me they’d found their dog dead a couple of miles away in a ditch. By the time I came back it was too late to come see you. So, real sorry for that. I’m going to try and take it to a shelter tomorrow with Sam and then maybe things will be back to normal, and maybe we’ll have heard a bit about your case, eh?
Best of luck.
To: Helen Ansbury <Reception@SheffieldShelter.co.uk>
Subject: Apologies Over This Afternoon!
Helen I am so, so so sorry. I cannot emphasize enough that what happened today is not normal! Sam has never behaved like that before. I’ve already made a donation to your website that I think will cover some of the damages Sam caused in your reception area, and I have a friend who works in flooring and I’m sure he could do something about the stain on the rug. And I’m more than willing to pay for any medical expenses that result from the bite on your hand. And, again, I just want to apologise for the mess he caused! Sam is a perfectly healthy and normal child, I don’t know what would have made him do that. I just can’t emphasise it enough. And I know it may be the last thing you want to think about, but please phone me so we can discuss you taking in this dog. I know Sam spun a pretty compelling tale but that dog is not my dog. Sam’s mother and I didn’t buy it for him two years ago, and we’ve not spent the last three months trying to put it down because we want to move to a nicer house with wooden flooring. In fact Sam’s mother and I have split up, we no longer live together and haven’t since Sam was two. I do not have the money to look after this dog, and I don’t believe I can give it the home it deserves. For the sake of the animal please phone me on the number I left at your reception.
To: James Lang <Jemail@example.com>>
Subject: Bad Luck Man
Hey, so I heard about the trial. I mean, I guessed after I didn’t hear from you on Friday, but your mum filled me in when I saw her a couple of days ago and she passed on this new email address. She says you guys get email access for good behaviour, is that right?
So yeah, I don’t think I’ve had the chance to fill you in but I wound up keeping the dog. Sam’s been real weird about it. He went home after the weekend and told Sarah that I bought him the dog. And he says to her, no joke now, that I told him that if he didn’t behave, and tell mummy how important spending time with daddy is, that I’d kill the fucking dog. Next thing Sarah’s phoning me and going nuts. She’s all horrified and threatening to get Alan to come kick my ass, and obviously I’m pretty pissed so I start screaming too and next thing I know some real nasty stuff gets said and we don’t talk for like a week. So yeah, the kid clearly loves the dog, so I didn’t really feel like I had a choice. Guess the next move is taking it to the vets.
Thing is though… I just don’t like the dog. When Sam’s not here it sits and looks at me, and almost never moves. It’s just not right. It doesn’t move right, or behave right. And when Sam does come here it acts real normal, but only around him and even then it’s like it guards him from me. I check in on him at night and it sits on his bed and just stares, and if I come too close it growls. There’s some other, really weird stuff too. I’ve checked a hundred times, and I’m desperate to hear other ideas, but I swear this dog hasn’t been to the toilet at all.
Seriously. Every day I put him out in the garden and I haven’t seen anything left, and it’s not a big garden. And the damn thing eats so much. It went through 50 kilograms of food in a single day! It’s eating through my damn bank account and it’s not a big dog either. Bit bigger than a terrier, but smaller than a Labrador. I must be missing some piece of the puzzle, like maybe it digs a hole and buries the mess? You used to have dogs, is that something they do?
To: James Lang <Jfirstname.lastname@example.org>>
Subject: Thanks for the call
It was nice speaking to you properly. I know you don’t get long on the phones, and ringing me meant missing out on a chat with your mum. Still though, thanks. So yeah… I followed your advice. It was a really clever idea you had putting talc down on the dog’s bed. Didn’t really go as planned though. Not that it didn’t work, it’s just that what I found didn’t make a lot of sense. I mean, the marks just got real weird. They started out looking like a dog’s but changed with each new print, and next thing you know…
You know what, don’t worry. It just didn’t work… and I’m beginning to think this is actually Sam. Maybe he came home when the teachers weren’t paying attention? I don’t know how... but he must have. I think something is really wrong with him. Every time he comes around it’s just not the same. He sits by that dog for hours, and no matter what I do I can’t go near them when they’re together. Sarah’s been feeling the same way. We’re talking a lot more since Sam’s been misbehaving so much, so that’s one good thing I guess. He’s still going back and forth between us and Sarah thinks that’s the problem. I told her she could take full custody for a month or two to see if it helped, but she didn’t want to take the dog, and Sam would never leave it permanently. He only lets the it stay with me because, and I’m quoting now,
“He needs to make sure Daddy behaves.”
Which… yeah, is probably one of the freakier things I’ve heard in my life, but lately he’s been a pretty freaky kid. I don’t really know how to handle it. The other day I found him letting the dog clean up a cut and the dog was just licking away and Sam was moaning, real loud. Even the neighbours came out to see what was going on and all I could was drag the kid by the collar inside, all the while the dog tried to eat my ankle. I’m pretty sure everyone on this street thinks I’m some sort of weirdo. If you’d heard the noises Sam was making though, you would have thought it too. It wasn’t… right. They aren’t noises a kid should make, or even know how to make. Makes me wonder what he’s been exposed to at Alan’s.
I asked him why he was letting the dog do it, and all Sam could say was that the dog was hungry, and he wanted to feed him, and it felt good. So yeah… thanks for the dog advice man but honestly, I don’t think it’s the dog. I think Sam’s got some serious issues. I think he’s the problem, though I don’t know how or why.
To: Dr.Sletter <M******r@PawPetsVets.co.uk>
Subject: Please Phone Me ASAP URGENT
Dear Dr. Sletter,
I really don’t understand the content of your last email. I would appreciate a phone call so we could discuss what happened in your veterinary office on Thursday afternoon. Typically in situations like this I would pay for any damages or fees the dog incurred, but as far as I’m aware you’ve made no attempt to seek reimbursement. Also, I’ve heard you fired your assistant, which was really unnecessary. It wasn’t her fault that she was bitten by the dog, and as far as I’m aware he’s a stray mongrel so anything she said after being bitten was probably the result of an illness, fever, or maybe even a concussion she had received during the struggle. I know she said some silly things, but let’s be honest about what probably happened. Your business lost another client’s dog during a struggle with mine, and I feel very responsible. I don’t know if that little guy jumped out a window, or made an escape through an unguarded door, but either way I wouldn’t feel comfortable if you blamed the poor woman who got bit, even if she did accuse my dog of swallowing a beagle whole like a snake. It was clearly something said in the panic.
So please, please, phone me, so we can discuss this further.
To: James Lang <Jemail@example.com>>
Subject: Update On Sarah
I know it’s been a while. I didn’t really feel like speaking to anyone after Sarah disappeared. I figured I’d drop you an email though because I’ve changed numbers a couple of times since we last spoke, and I don’t know if you’ve got the right one. I just wanted to say, thanks for trying to help with the search. I know you tried to get out for special circumstances so you could come look, your mother told me the whole ordeal with the parole board. Sorry that at the time I didn’t really think to say thanks.
Now it’s just me to keep on looking. Yesterday all the volunteers officially quit, and the police said they have no choice but to focus on other cases. So this is the first time in a while it’s just been me on my own, not surrounded by cops and volunteers. So yeah… I don’t really know what to do now. Sam’s moving back in tomorrow, he can’t really stay with Alan.
I always thought I’d be such a good dad, but when I told him he’d be living with me he got so happy and jumped up and down and he said,
“I knew he’d fix it! I knew he’d fix it!” and… I don’t know. I guess all I can say is, I’ve raised one fucked up kid. I must be a terrible dad. I don’t know what I did that was so wrong. Sometimes, when I’m feeling really angry, I don’t even blame myself.
I blame that fucking dog.
I need help man. I really need help. Please phone me when you get the chance.
To: James Lang <Jfirstname.lastname@example.org>>
I wanted to say sorry. I didn’t do a great job being a friend did I? No one’s going to really know what happened, and you’re no different. We used to talk so much, before the wives, and the kids, and whatever it was that got you and your brother in so much trouble. So I just want you to know that they’ll come and ask questions. They’re going to comb this house, and they’re going to want to know so much and they’ll think I’ve got the answers but fuck man… I don’t. You’ll believe me won’t you? You know I would never hurt Sam, or Sarah.
I just went to the shop, and I came back. That’s it.
Seriously, that’s it. Sam was sitting with the dog when I left, I asked if he wanted to come with and obviously he said no, so I just left him there. Then I came back and the house was wrecked. At first I thought an oil pipe under the house must have exploded but then I got closer, and there was this smell. Jesus… I couldn’t even stay in there. I nearly passed out. I’m writing this at the library, I took a shower at my gym. I had to. The stink followed me everywhere I went.
I think… I think it might have finally taken a shit. There was so much of it and it didn’t look like shit. It was like oil, but with hints of red. Like blood. Like blood and oil, about a foot high throughout the entire house. It was turning the walls and floor to mush, like everything had been stewing in the slick broth for years. Gallons of it must have spewed out from that little thing, and from the marks on the wall the force was horrific. I mean, fuck… some of the windows were smashed out. And in one of the walls, embedded in the cheap plasterwork, I even found a tooth.
And a dog collar.
And a ring…
I think it was Sarah’s.
Jesus Christ. I’ve gone fucking mad. Sam’s gone. I think it hurt him. I think it must have. It must have done something to him. I went looking, I went looking through the shit and the blood and the… other stuff, maybe guts, I don’t know, but I couldn’t find him. No trace of him. Nothing.
I won’t be here when you get out. If they ask you about me you can show them this, it won’t help much though. I’ll be dead. I’ve got nothing left. Sarah’s gone. Sam’s gone.
I think I get it now though.
“Give it everything.”
Written by ChristianWallis