On the night of October 16, Hope College junior Jack Soren didn’t come home. “I didn’t think much of it,” says Ryan Louder (’22), Soren’s roommate in DeGraaf Cottage. “I just thought, you know, ‘Oh, he’s spending the night at his girlfriend’s and forgot to tell me.’”
However, when Soren didn’t show up at all the next day and was similarly absent the next night, Louder got nervous. He called Soren’s phone but never got an answer. He talked with friends, all saying they hadn’t seen him since the morning of the 16th. One friend recalled that Soren had mentioned something about going for a walk along the beach. Louder decided to investigate, which is where the story gets complicated. Louder found his roommate’s car sitting empty in Tunnel Park’s parking lot and could see through the window Soren’s backpack in the back seat, his mask hanging off the gear stick. “He’d definitely been here,” Louder said. “He’d definitely driven here and had gone out to the beach. But I couldn’t find a trace of him.”
Louder called Campus Safety soon afterward. Immediately a search began; however, they proved as fruitless as Louder. They combed Tunnel Park’s beach, the surrounding woodland, spanned the distance between this park and the state park, but nothing was found. Holland Police then was involved, to the same confusing result. “It’s like [Soren] just vanished off the beach,” Officer Dempsy remarked. “There weren’t even footprints to track.” The larger campus community was then informed of the incident via mass email, which asked anyone with any knowledge of Soren’s whereabouts to immediately alert Campus Safety. A (socially distanced) prayer vigil was held in Dimnent the night of the 18th, while police once again roamed Holland’s beaches. “It’s terrible to say, but if this student had drowned, then his body would have to show up eventually,” said Chief Brown of Holland Police, with a frown and a shake of the head. “We were just waiting for a body to wash up on the shore, if I’ll be honest.”
But days passed, and a body hadn’t yet floated to the lakeshore. This is when other theories began to emerge, some ordinary and others…extraordinary. “Guys, you don’t understand,” said Zach Dankert, senior and self-professed “Frozen” enthusiast. “He legit pulled an Elsa and found the magic glacier; he’s at the middle of Lake Michigan singing ‘Show Yourself’ as we speak.” As absurd as this student is, he may not be completely insane; there may be…something, in the middle of this beloved Great Lake.
For a different perspective, The Anchor talked to Giorgio A. Tsoukalos. “The answer, of course, is simple,” he smiled. “It was aliens.” Tsoukalos is the head of the department of ufology and speculative science. Though this department isn’t recognized by the college, this hasn’t stopped Tsoukalos from taking over room 117 in the Schaap Science Center and shouting at students who pass by. “This wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened at Hope College,” he continued. “A similar event occurred in 1978.” Steven Kubacki, a 23-year-old senior, had disappeared off the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan in February, leaving behind him a trail of footprints in the snow leading absolutely nowhere. Fourteen months later, he woke up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 700 miles from where he had vanished, with no memory of the past year. “The government has tried to cover it up, even to this day there’s very little information on it, and Kubacki hasn’t exactly been vocal about his experience, but you can’t deny that it happened,” said Tsoukalos. “Kubacki’s story supports the theory that, between the points of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Ludington, Michigan and Benton Harbor, Michigan, lies a smaller, lesser-known “Bermuda Triangle” of sorts. Now, it seems, the Triangle has taken another soul. There have been many accounts of airplane disappearances and shipwrecks in this specific area described above, with unsatisfying explanations. On the same night as the disappearance of Northwest Airlines Flight 2501 in 1950, strange bright lights were seen above Lake Michigan.
However, despite the arguably overwhelming evidence, this theory has not received a lot of traction. “No, that’s ridiculous; don’t believe a word he says,” said President Matt Scogin. “Jesus Christ, I’ve been trying to get this lunatic off campus since day one.” Louder, too, is of a similar stance. “I just don’t see how that’s possible; it’s a little far-fetched for me.” But as the days continue, and still no evidence of Soren is found, everyone is still left scratching their heads, trying to make sense of such an unexplainable disappearance. And people cannot deny that this is an auspicious time for such an unnerving incident. “In just a few days now is Halloween, where a rare Blue Moon is supposed to grace the sky, the second full moon of the month,” Tsoukalos informed The Anchor. “The aliens love this time of the year.” To answer the question of what we should do, Tsoukalos is extremely unconcerned. “We should just wait; in another year Soren will show up, in Utah or perhaps Maine, hopefully with enlightening stories to tell.”
As the situation stands, Campus Safety and Holland Police are still conducting regular searches of the nearby shoreline, as well as on campus and randomly throughout the Holland community. Louder is still waiting for an answer, as are Soren’s parents. They plead that anyone who may have information regarding the disappearance of their son to let them know immediately. In the hopes of finding the truth behind this tragic incident, The Anchor asks you, Hope students, to report to us if you happen to know the whereabouts of Jack Soren, or if you have any evidence as to the means of his catastrophic disappearance. His life may be resting in your hands.
Before we finish this article, Tsoukalos wouldn’t leave us alone until we agreed to leave you with one more story. Mark Holley, an archeology professor, and Brian Abbot, his colleague, conducted a sonar search within the Lake Michigan Triangle. They conducted it to find shipwrecks, but what they found was a bit more consequential. They sent divers to the bottom of Lake Michigan to confirm what they found, and the divers reported a 12,000-year-old stone carving of a mastodon. They also found a line of stones near the mastodon carving. These stones were captured in an underwater photograph, and once Holley and Abbot saw the picture, their confusion morphed to perplexing realization. These stones, like the mastodon, resembled something that had been built long before the modern age of humans. Long before the world was confined to calculations and measurements, long before our fear of the unexplainable sputtered out our primal awe of a world governed by things not of this earth.
For Holley and Abbot, the likeness was uncanny; it was Stonehenge.