Last year in autumn, the warmth of summer was quick to fade into the distinctive coldness of wintertime. My daughter had just turned 18, and was spending her last few nights living under the same roof as me. Camilla decided to attend a private college located in a small town in Wyoming, where she would be free of distractions. She needed that sort of isolation, free from the distractions of the city.
On the day of her departure, we said our goodbyes at the airport. I stroked my hands through Camilla’s long, blond hair, and we hugged tightly before she boarded. I told her to text me every night, and to send a picture of the dorm when she arrived. Camilla waved to me one final time, immediately before entering the boarding gate to embark on her journey. I watched the plane on the runway as it faded into the cold darkness of the nighttime sky.
Later that night, I texted Camilla, asking about her initial thoughts of the dormitory, but she neglected to respond to my message. The next morning, I woke up to a voicemail from Camilla. In the 20 second audio clip, she sounded distressed, almost panicked, using a tone I had never heard from her. In a scared, shaky voice, she said, “Hello Dad, today was a great day. My class was interesting, and I had a fun time today…I love you…” It cut off abruptly before she could finish pronouncing the last word. I promptly called her back, hoping that everything was alright, but she did not answer my call.
My fear was that she was not doing well, but she did not want to disappoint me with the news that she was doing poorly. Her shaky voice could have been the result of suppressed emotions, as she would rather lie than open up to any struggles she may have been facing. Camilla had always been an honest person, and lying did not come naturally to her. I texted her, asking if everything was alright, but she never replied to my message.
Three days passed, and she left a new voicemail for me each night at around 2:00. Every message was the same: she maintained a bizarre uneasiness in her voice, but constantly told me that everything was going great and she was having a great time. Eventually, I gave up trying to communicate with her, as she would not reply to any of my text messages or calls. But I was worried that something was going horribly wrong.
On the fourth night, I kept my phone ringer on full volume as I slept. When Camilla called, I would awake in time to pick up and finally get the chance to communicate with her. I had a restless sleep, my eyes fixated on my bedside clock. Hours passed through the night, as I stared at the digital clock resting on my bedside table. There it was, the sound of my cellphone ringing. I scurried out of the bed covers, eager to finally speak to Camilla after four days of poor communication.
With shaking hands, I eagerly tapped the green button, accepting the call. On the other line, I heard the sound of frantic breathing. Not a crazed sort of breathing, more of a surprised, fearful tone. I heard a loud gasp on the other end of the line and the cellular reception just shut off. The call was promptly disconnected, followed by the perpetual beeps of the dial tones. This was not like the Camilla I know, and I was furious. She was hiding something important from me, something she didn’t want me to know about. I tried calling back repeatedly, but she neglected to pick up the phone all night.
Communication with Camilla was completely erased after that night. She stopped leaving her nightly voicemails and she seemed to have blocked my number, as my calls began to go straight to her voicemail. I tried contacting the school, but they were not any help to me. On the school’s social media account, I tracked down her roommate’s phone number. I called her, and thankfully, she picked up her phone. With urgency, I inquired about Camilla. The young woman on the other end of the phone was calm, apprising me that Camilla was not acting out of character whatsoever. She told me that Camilla was in class at the moment, and would be back by noon if I wanted to speak with her. However, I did not have the patience to wait, and my suspicions were already raised. Camilla was not acting right, and this woman could have been hiding something from me. Skeptically, I asked the woman to describe Camilla’s features to me.
“OK, well, she is tall…about 5”10. She has long black hair and she has large-” I hung up the phone immediately and dialed 911. Camilla did not have black hair.
“There must be some sort of imposter,” I told the operator. “She has been acting really strange, and now someone seems to have stolen her identity.”
I requested a full investigation to be conducted at Camilla’s college dormitory. The operator insisted that she would get back to me as soon as the police force arrived at the scene. Not knowing what to think, I whispered prayers, hoping for any signs that Camilla was not in any danger.
That’s when I heard a knock at my front door. Hoping to see a policeman, or better yet, Camille, I rushed to the door in the front of my house. The visitor was just the postman, carrying with him a small cardboard package. But the package was addressed from Wyoming, the location of the school Camilla was going to. There was only one item in the package, a CD, titled, “I Love You.” Knowing this disc had to have been sent to me from Camilla, I nervously booted up the CD and listened to the short audio track.
I still remember the first 30 seconds of the clip in rich detail: Camilla was screaming for help, wailing and crying. Among the turmoil, I heard a deeper voice, threatening my daughter with prolonged torture. I heard Camilla forcing herself to suppress her tears, followed by the sound of paper rustling. In the exact same voice as before, I heard my daughter speak. “Hello Dad, today was a great day. My class was interesting, and I had a fun time today…I love you…” The track continued for what seemed like an eternity, alternating between bloodcurdling segments of Camilla’s cries and brief monologues of Camilla describing her daily life at school, the voicemails she had been sending me the past nights. I counted the number of speeches Camilla was forced to deliver.
The audio cut off with a bang.
The final words of my daughter were, “Hello Dad. I’m having a great day today. Don’t worry about me. I love you.” The words she spoke before the gunshot, words that I would have heard on that fourth night.
I sat motionless in my room, devoid of any rational thoughts, when the phone rang. I was not capable of picking up the phone, as my mind practically shut down. The operator was sent to my voicemail, where she reported with an update on the killer. It was another woman, around the same age as Camilla, who murdered my daughter. She had been impersonating Camilla for nearly a week, wearing her clothing, texting her friends, even using the same deodorant. This woman insisted that her name was Camilla, and law officials failed to determine her identification, as she did not appear in any records. They tested her fingerprint, blood, even searched through millions of criminal mugshots, but found no records. It was almost as if she had never existed until that point. There was one test that did come up with some disturbing results, however. It was the paternity test, where her blood was sampled and compared to mine.
Now, it is obvious that this murderous woman could not possibly be Camilla. This woman was the one who murdered Camilla. Police reports have confirmed Camilla’s death. Her body was found dead that night, her blood completely drained out and her clothes removed.
But for whatever reason, the results of the paternity test were positive. It sounds insane, and I still don’t know why, but I somehow seem to be related to this woman by blood.