1×06: Lucas

The weekend went by quickly, and by the time Monday rolled around, I forgot about the person in the masquerade I’d seen outside by the buses. Rachel and I agreed to sit at lunch together, and Peter seemed okay with having a girl join us. At least he wasn’t completely freaking out. I thought my best friend wouldn’t like that, but instead, he was talking about another girl himself. One he was particularly interested in.

“Eden is just gorgeous,” he said that afternoon on the way to the lunchroom. “Do you think I’ll be able to get her to sit with us?”

I was starting to realize Peter needed a girlfriend. One who wasn’t Eden. I doubted she’d be into him, and it was kind of weird to me that he was so into her. “I’m not sure. But why don’t you try looking for someone close to our own age? She’s two year older than you.”

“One and a half,” Peter reiterated for the thousandth time.

“Not that it makes any difference,” I reasoned. “There’s no way she’s going to be into you. Maybe Rachel has a friend you can meet.”

Peter shrugged. “Maybe.”

The two of us entered the cafeteria and walked toward our spot to put our bags down. I saw Rachel across the room, heading toward us, with her long brown hair flowing over her shoulders, and her deep brown eyes staring right at me. She smiled. When she arrived at the table, she placed her bag town beside mine.

“We have a newspaper meeting on Wednesday,” she said. “The first newspaper comes out next month. Isn’t that crazy?”

“Yeah,” Peter said sarcastically, smiling. “Isn’t that crazy, Lucas?”

I glared at him. He knew that I was a terrible writer and knew that me joining the newspaper was a bad idea. Not only would I not know what to write about…I wouldn’t be able to actually write it. And once Rachel found out I lied about being an amazing journalist, she’d probably never speak to me again.

“It’s definitely something alright,” I said under my breath.

“What’s that?” Rachel asked with a smile.

“Oh, nothing. Just saying how excited I am for Wednesday.” Which was the biggest lie in history, but I didn’t have to admit that. “Hey, I gotta go to the bathroom. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Nope, we’ll be here when you get back,” Peter said, winking. I could punch him. I left the cafeteria and started toward the nearest bathroom when my phone buzzed in my pocket. Pulling it out, I saw that it was a text from an unknown number.

“Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off, they say. Maybe this applies to men, too.” -Masquerade

“What the hell?” I asked, glancing around to see who all was on their phones. Practically everyone. Looking back at my phone, I read the message again. Did someone know? Was the text from Peter? Or Rachel? Did she know that I was lying to her? Panic fell over me, and once in the bathroom, I looked at myself in the mirror.

Was it that obvious that I was lying? Someone knew, that was for sure. But the name from the sender was throwing me off. Masquerade. Just like the person I’d seen by the buses. Then I thought back to my sister and how she knew I saw the person. Was she playing a prank on me? Or was this someone else entirely?

It could have been anyone. That was the problem. And if it was really the person I saw by the buses that day, it didn’t narrow it down by much. It only ruled out my sister. But if it wasn’t the person by the buses, it could be her playing a trick on me.

After doing my business, I went back to the cafeteria. Lunch was strange the entire time, because I couldn’t help but wonder if the girl beside me already knew that I was lying to her. And if she was the one who was watching me out by the buses that day.

***

I couldn’t stop thinking about the message I’d received from Masquerade. At home I was lying on my bed, pondering the incident, when I decided that I just needed to ask Leslie. She was never really a good liar, and if it was her, it would at least clear my mind of worry.

I got up, went into the hall, and knocked on my bedroom door beside mine. She opened the door immediately, as if she were expecting me. “What do you want, Lucas?”

“Did you send me this text earlier?” I asked, showing her the message on my phone. Leslie took a long glance at it.

“No, I did not,” she said. “Was it an unknown number?”

“No, the person’s number was saved in my phone. That’s totally why I’m asking you,” I said sarcastically. “Yes, it was an unknown number. So it really wasn’t you?”

“I don’t even understand the context of the message, so no.” Leslie closed the door in my face, leaving me alone in the hall. The text could have been from anyone. Rachel. Peter. Heck, even Ruby could have sent that message to me.

I walked back into my room, throwing my phone down on the bed. This was ridiculous. Why was I getting so wound up over a text? That’s what I saw it. Outside my window. I headed closer to the window and looked out to see a person move behind the bushes. The sun was going down on the horizon already, and the shadow of the person was very obvious. Someone was outside my house.

I couldn’t tell if it was the same Masquerade I’d seen outside the buses because I could hardly see what they were wearing. But it had to be Masquerade. The same person who just sent me a text. I noticed that mom and dad were not home yet, so I decided I needed to do some investigating.

Once outside, I walked over to the bushes. No one was there. Had I imagined the whole thing? Was I becoming delusional? Then I heard footsteps crunching in fallen leaves behind me. Spinning around, I saw a figure in the backyard. The sun was going down fast, and I didn’t want to be out here too long.

“Hello?” I said. “Who’s there? Are you Masquerade?”

The figure stood there, waiting. Watching. I walked closer, and they didn’t move a muscle. As I got closer, I saw that they were wearing white. White hoodie, white pants–

“Hello?” I said again. “Can I help you?”

The person stepped forward and I saw that they were wearing a masquerade mask. Except this one was white. Everything they were wearing was white, and I wanted to scream. I was terrified. Something was wrong. Why had I come out here?

The White Masquerade lifted their arm up, and I flinched, expecting them to reveal a weapon. Instead, they went for their mask. As the mask was slowly taken off their face, I gasped.

“Oh my God.”

1×05: Eden

That night’s sleep wasn’t good. After seeing the video of Josh and I being watched, I was ready to have a heart attack. Finally morning came, my body was aching, and I had a migraine from hell. How fun.

Climbing out of bed, I pulled out my phone. No new messages. No new emails. Thank god. What did this person want? Who was the masquerade? Why were Josh and I, who had no connection until yesterday, being targeted? So many questions, hardly any answers. When did my life turn into a mystery novel?

I knew I should tell my dad about what was going on, but I wasn’t sure what to say. Hey dad, I’m being stalked some person who wears a masquerade mask. This person also attacked me in the school parking lot. Oh, and they’re stalking my new friend, too.

Yeah, that sounded like it’d go well. Josh and I would just have to figure this out together. I messaged him, asking if his night went well, then went to the bathroom to get ready, hoping this day didn’t turn out to be weird.

My wish did not come true.

***

The day started out normal. In fact, I was actually starting to enjoy Wellington. Josh and I sat together at lunch discussing the masquerade situation.

“What should we do about it?” he asked.

I shrugged, picking at my spaghetti. “Honestly? I have no idea. I can’t think of any reason why this would be happening, other than the fact that I’m new. But why you? Nothing makes any sense.”

Josh pulled out his phone and said, “I wonder if they’d respond to me if I emailed them back.”

I doubted it. Whoever this was clearly didn’t want to talk with us. They wanted to talk to us. Wanted us to know they were there. Watching. Waiting. For what? “You can try. Anything might work.”

Josh typed viciously at the keyboard on his phone, then it send. He looked at me, his face straight. “Now we wait.”

We ate in silence for a few minutes. Right before the bell rang, Josh’s phone dinged. As did mine. The two of us exchanged a glance and pulled out our phones. It was an email. From Masquerade.

“In time you’ll know the truth. In the meantime, let’s play a game.” -Masquerade.

“Oh my God,” I said. Reading the email over and over, the words rang in my ears. In the meantime, let’s play a game. That didn’t sound good. What kind of game? “What do we say to that?”

“Nothing,” Josh said. “We say absolutely nothing. I’m not giving into this.” As he stood up, his phone beeped again, a different sound. It wasn’t his email. It sounded as if it were a text. He read the text, then looked at me. “They know.”

“What?” I asked.

“They know about me,” Josh whispered. He showed me the text. “Look.”

“You don’t have a choice. How would you feel if everyone knew your little secret? I’m sure Damien would love to know.” -Masquerade

The words sent chills down my spine. The text mentioned Damien. I could tell Josh was thinking the same thing, but he didn’t vocalize his thoughts. Masquerade made it sound as thought they knew where Damien was. That Damien might still be alive.

Then the thought occurred to me. Haven. The girl who disappeared along with Damien. Could she be Masquerade? It seemed possible, but I wasn’t entirely sure if the person who assaulted me was male or female. Whoever it was definitely was strong enough to knock me over.

The bell rang and the two of us headed off toward class, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched. But with all the people in the hallway, I couldn’t figure out which one it was.

***

At home, Josh and I were talking on chat. I’d yet to bring up my theory, but I knew I had to. Deciding to just come out and say it, I typed it as quickly as possible. Listen. I’ve been thinking. Is it possible that Haven could be Masquerade?

It took him a moment to reply. Why would you ask that?

How could I explain this to him without him getting offended? It’s not like I knew him all that well. Or knew his friends at all. But I couldn’t just let this go. Both Damien and Haven were missing, and Masquerade made it sound as though they knew where Damien was. And that Damien was alive. Masquerade seemed like they knew Damien, that’s all. I can tell you thought the same thing earlier.

Yeah, well, it can’t be her, Josh replied. She wouldn’t do that. I know her. It has to be someone else. It just has to.

I decided it was best not to argue when suddenly my phone beeped. A text message. I pulled it out, reading the text I received.

“Trying to figure out this mystery, huh? Why are you trying so hard? Was it because you couldn’t figure out your mom’s?” -Masquerade

My heart stopped. Goosebumps ran over me. The Masquerade was trying to get to me, and it knew just where to hit. My stomach did flip flops and I tried not to vomit. Why would someone use my own mother’s death against me? Who the hell was this person? And what did they want?

I couldn’t respond because it was an unknown number. Untraceable. Of course it would be. Looking out my bedroom window, I saw someone standing there.

The Masquerade.

Watching. Waiting. Watching.

Even though I couldn’t see their eyes, I knew ours locked. They knew I had seen them. And from the looks of it, they didn’t give two shits. My hands balled into fists, and I tried to keep from hurting them. This person, whoever they were, knew where I lived. They knew my number. They knew my email. Hell, they probably knew my social security number.

A car drove down the road, passing in front of Masquerade. When the car was gone, so was Masquerade. Just like that. Vanished.

“Damn, you’re fast,” I muttered to myself. Where did they go? I went back to my computer and messaged Josh really fast.

Masquerade was just here. Across the street from me. They know where I live. They might know where you live, too.

Which meant they might have been here Wednesday. They might have really been outside my bathroom. They were in my house. I had to tell someone. Dad needed to know. I couldn’t handle this myself.

“Dad!” I yelled. “Can you come here for a minute?”

He burst into my room, looking a little worried. “Is everything okay?” he asked.

I opened my mouth to speak but my phone dinged. I knew who it was before I even looked. Unable to resist the temptation, I read the text.

“Speak a word of this to your father and he’ll be lying in a coffin next to your mother. The game is just beginning. Rule #1: No one knows about the game but the players.” -Masquerade

“Eden?” Dad asked. “Are you alright?”

My palms felt sweaty, and I put the phone down, plastering a fake smile on my face. “Oh, nothing. I just…wanted to tell you how much I loved you. You’ve been great since…Mom. and I just want you to know I really appreciate you.”

Dad smiled at me. “Thank you, honey. I know it’s been hard on you, but I’m glad you’re making an effort. Dinner will be done soon, okay? We can maybe eat together.”

I smiled, despite my fear of Masquerade. “I’d like that.”

As he left the room, I went back over to the window to see if I could see Masquerade. I could not. But that didn’t mean they weren’t still there.

1×04: Josh

Friday came quickly, two days after the disappearance of Damien. Everything was so different. Strange. Unbecoming. Without my two best friends by my side, I felt alone. Afraid. Desperate for some familiarity that clearly wasn’t coming any time soon.

Lunch rolled around, and I was going to head to the library again after getting my food. Once in line for some Asian chicken, I tried not to think about it. I couldn’t think about what might have happened to my friends. If I did, I was going to spend all my time worrying, which would distract me from school and my writing.

A girl I never met before came up behind me in line and grabbed a tray. She was wearing all black, with her long black hair put up behind her with a pencil to hold it up. I tried my best not to look at her. Something about her was very off-putting. Not only that, but I spent the last couple of years in the popular crowd with Haven and Damien–

Damn it. I was thinking about them again.

“You don’t have to do that,” the girl said.

Surprised, I looked at her. “What do you mean?”

“You don’t have to pretend I’m not here,” she said. “I know that I look scary. But I’m not really. It’s just my style.” Then, the girl actually smiled. “My name’s Eden.”

“Uh…I’m Josh,” I said, feeling a little unsure about the conversation. Why was she trying to talk to me? She must have been new. I hadn’t seen her the last few years, not that it didn’t mean anything. “Are you new here?”

“Yes, sir, I am,” she said, grabbing some chicken to put on her tray. “I’ve only been here about a week. I’m still adjusting. I haven’t really made any friends yet, either. Not that it’s anyone else’s fault but my own.”

“Well, you certainly came at an interesting time,” I said. “With kids going missing and all…” My voice trailed off. Why the hell did I just say that?

“Right? It’s so strange,” she said. “No one knows where they went. I’ve listened to the rumors in the hall, and some of them aren’t pretty–”

“Or true,” I added. “None of the rumors are true. They can’t be.”

Eden’s eyes widened as the two of them got out of line. “Wow, you seem sure about that. Is there something you want to tell me?”

“They were my friends,” I said. “My…best friends. Especially the guy, Damien. I’ve known him for a long time.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that,” Eden replied. “I didn’t know.”

I started to walk off, then stopped. “Hey, do you, uh…want to come sit with me? With the two of them gone, I haven’t really had anyone to eat lunch with.”

Eden smiled. “Of course. With me being the new girl, I haven’t really made any friends that I could eat lunch with.”

The two of us walked over to the table where Damien, Haven, and I used to sit. It felt a little strange, but it was the only empty table in the cafeteria. For a few minutes, the two of us ate in silence. Finally, Eden spoke.

“Can I ask you a question?” she asked. “Without you thinking that I’m really weird?”

I actually laughed. “If you’re asking whether I’m gay, yes. I am.” Whoa. Did I actually just say that out loud? Something was seriously wrong with me today. I hadn’t admitted that to anyone. “But it’s kind of a secret. At least, it is for now. Unless it’s really obvious.”

Eden laughed, too. “No, that’s not what I was going to ask, and no. It’s not obvious. I wouldn’t have really thought.” She paused, leaving me hanging. Then she said, “The other day…on Wednesday…I was waiting out in the parking lot for my dad to pick me up. And something kind of…happened.”

Happened? Whatever it was, it didn’t sound good. “Eden, did someone do something to you?”

“Well…sort of,” she said. “I was the only one left in the parking lot when someone came out of nowhere. I don’t even really knew if they were a student or not.” She stopped again, as if she wasn’t sure whether she should continue. I urged her to, and she nodded. “They were wearing all black. Black shoes. A hoodie. Pants. The hood was on over their head, but their face was covered.”

“Covered?” I asked. “Like a ski mask?”

“No,” Eden said. “Like a masquerade mask. Have you ever seen anyone like that around here? They kind of…attacked me. Pushed me against the wall. But they didn’t rob me. Or do anything else. It was almost as if they just wanted to scare me.”

What she said was definitely strange, and somewhat scary. But she did have a point. It was possible this person tried to scare her, and that’s exactly what I said to her. “Not only that, but I wouldn’t worry.”

“Well, there was something else, too–” she started, but the bell cut her off. “I guess I’ll talk to you tomorrow then.” Before I could say anything else, Eden left, and I couldn’t help but wonder what else Eden had to say.

***

At home, I said my hello to my parents and hibernated upstairs in my room. The last few days, the only thing I wanted to do was sleep, but I knew I had to be functional. They’d find Damien and Haven. They had to.

Walking over to my computer, I woke it from its sleep and began to work on my novel. And by work, I mean looking at the computer and not typing anything. My mind was blank. I couldn’t think. Sighing, I closed off and went onto Facebook. Seeing that I had a friend request from Eden, I accepted and about a moment later, it dinged, alerting me of a message. It was from Eden.

Hey, sorry I didn’t get to tell you the rest of my story, her message said.

It’s okay, I typed back. Is everything okay? Do you want to talk about it?

Her reply took a little bit longer than I expected. Finally, she sent her message and I read it.

It was so weird. After that happened, I went home and got an email to a website. http://www.whoismasquerade.wordpress.com. I clicked on it and there was a video of me being attacked by the masquerade. It wasn’t security footage or anything. It was like someone had been watching. And I heard these bangs on my bathroom door and it really freaked me out. I haven’t seen anything sense then or gotten any more emails. Do you think it was just a prank?

I wasn’t sure what I thought. On the one hand, it seemed like a pretty elaborate prank to pull on a new girl. But what else could it have been? Was someone really after Eden?

That’s when the realization occurred to me. Could this have anything to do with Haven and Damien’s disappearances? Were they being tormented by the masquerade before they disappeared? It seemed unlikely, as they never said anything to me, but was it a coincidence that a mysterious person was trying to scare Eden around that same time?

My phone dinged. My email. Heart pounding in my chest, I pulled it out to look, and fear swept over me at the sight of the email.

http://www.whoismasquerade.wordpress.com

I clicked the link, and it led me to the site’s home page. The newest post was a video. It automatically started playing, and I knew what it was. Eden and I at lunch. Someone had recorded our conversation.

Looking behind me to make sure I wasn’t being watched and that someone wasn’t in my room, I sent a message back to Eden. Just got an email. Same website. Go look. The first video there is of us. Someone was watching. 

But what did this mean? Were were next? The thought of Eden and I being the next two to disappear sent chills down my spine, and I hoped that this was a prank. I could handle pranks. Something as scary as this couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be.

The sad thing was, I knew in my heart it was true. Someone was watching us. Someone wanted to hurt us. To scare us. And that was the worst realization I could have ever had.

1×03: Lucas

There are a lot of things I never expected my freshman year of high school.

The hard work; the romance; the amount of electives. But one thing I definitely didn’t expect was the amount of horror I’d face. It was only a few weeks into school and I was enjoying it so far. I didn’t realize that soon everything was going to change.

It was the day after Damien went missing. While I didn’t know Damien personally, it was something that affected the entire school. Wellington was a large school, but nothing like this had ever happened before. Wellington was a nice town and violence was typically kept away. Of course, no one knew if there was any violence, but when a kid goes missing, typically rumors start flying around.

Considering Haven was missing, too, the rumors were pretty intense.

Maybe she killed Damien.

Maybe Damien assaulted her and took off.

Maybe her body will be found in a ditch somewhere.

Maybe they ran off together.

Maybe she’s pregnant.

The way people stuck their noses in other peoples’ business really frustrated me. Sure, I’d come up with a few theories myself, but didn’t really feel the need to voice them. As I walked into school that morning, my best friend Peter came up to me and bro-punched my shoulder.

“Hey man,” he said. “How’s it going?”

Peter was semi-tall, about 5’8, and had short blonde hair. Bright blue eyes. Not a single blemish. One would say he was attractive, but friends don’t admit that to each other.

I shrugged. “It’s barely 7 o’clock. Nothing eventful has really happened yet.” But as I watched all the people whispering in the hall, I knew the Damien drama wasn’t over. “Any more news on Damien?”

Peter shook his head. “Nope. Still missing. Haven, too. No one has any idea where they went.”

I couldn’t imagine anything like that ever happening to me. The thought sent chills down my spine, and I hoped that Damien and Haven were found soon. Everything about that situation sucked.

“Did you see the new girl?” Peter asked.

“There’s a new girl?” I asked. “I didn’t notice. Technically we’re new here, too.”

“No, we’re freshmen. There’s a difference. Look, there she is.” Peter pointed to a girl who looked like something out of Satan’s vomit. I mean, sure, she was pretty. But she definitely wasn’t my type, and the fact that Peter seemed into her was a little weird in itself.

“How old is she?” I whispered. “She looks older than us.”

“I’m pretty sure she is,” Peter said. “She’s a junior.”

“A junior? Why are you checking out someone two years older than you?” God, Peter was so strange sometimes. Didn’t he know that men were always supposed to be older in the relationship?

“She’s only about a year and a half older than me,” Peter explained. “Besides, she’s hot. And unique. I like it.”

The thought was totally grossing me out, but I kept that to myself. “What’s her name?”

“Eden.”

I snorted. How ironic, being named after God’s first garden. This girl looked as though she crawled out of the ass crack of hell.

The late bell rang and I headed off to class. The rest of the day was mostly boring, but when lunch rolled around, I found Peter sitting alone, watching Eden. Grabbing a tray to get some food, I stood in line, waiting patiently when someone came up behind me.

“Hi.”

I turned around and my jaw nearly hit the floor. The girl standing behind me was absolutely beautiful. With long brunette hair and glimmering brown eyes, she was one of the most gorgeous girls I’d ever seen.

“Uh…hi,” I said. Way to go, Lucas. Real smooth.

She laughed at me. “Are you going to move forward in the line or are you just going to continue standing there, gawking at me?”

Sure enough, there was a huge gap between me and the person standing in front of me. Feeling embarrassed, I ignored the girl and started walking forward. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be,” she said, holding out her hand. “My name’s Rachel.”

Was I supposed to take it? Reaching out, I said, “My name’s Lucas. Are you a freshman, too?”

“Sure am,” she said.

As we grabbed our food, I thought about what I should say to her. Finally gaining the courage, I asked, “Hey, do you want to sit with me and my friend Peter today?”

She actually frowned. “I wish I could, but I have a meeting with the school newspaper today. It’s the first one, and if I don’t go, I won’t get in. Maybe another time?”

Without even thinking, I replied, “Really? I totally forgot that was today! Thank you for reminding me!”

For a moment she looked a little confused. Finally, Rachel said, “You’re joining the newspaper? Today must be my lucky day.”

With that, the two of us walked out of the cafeteria, leaving Peter behind. Joining the newspaper wouldn’t be too bad. Only problem was, I couldn’t write worth a shit.

***

The day ended and I got on the bus to ride home. It was too hot for my taste, but at least it wasn’t humid. I sat down in the seat across from my sister, Leslie, and her friend Ruby. They were both sophomores and loved to pretend like they were mature adults.

Leslie leaned in to me and said, “So, how was your day little bro?”

“I’m not little, thank you very much,” I said. “And my day was fine. I, uh, joined the newspaper.”

Leslie and Ruby laughed like a bunch of prissy school girls. Leslie said, “The newspaper? When is the last time you actually read a newspaper?”

“When’s the last time you read a book?” Ruby asked, laughing a little too hard.

Ignoring them, I squeezed over by the window and looked out into the parking lot. As everyone got on their buses, I watched, wondering what Rachel was up to. The meeting had went fairly well, and I got the vibe that she was into me now. The newspaper would give us something to do. How bad could it be?

That’s when I saw it. And I blinked, revealing it to be gone.

“Les,” I said. “Come look at this.”

“Oh god, what now?” she asked. She came and sat next to me, looking out the window. “What is it?”

“Do you see anything unusual out there? In the parking lot?” I couldn’t find it again and it was bugging me. I knew I had seen it. Leslie just had to see it, too.

“See what?” she asked.

“Someone in a masquerade mask,” I said.

My sister snorted. “Why in the world would someone be walking around outside in a masquerade mask?”

“It wasn’t just that,” I told her. “They were wearing all black. Black hoodie, black pants, black shoes. The mask we even black. I saw them over by that bus.” I pointed to the one at the far end of the lot that was now leaving.

“You’re delusional,” Leslie said, going back to her seat.

But that was the thing. I wasn’t sure if I was delusional. I knew what I’d seen. Did that mean I was crazy?

1×02: Eden

“Eden, I don’t know how many times I have to say it. You have to go to school.”

Dad was really adamant about me going to school and making friends, but I really wasn’t a fan. In fact, I was begging him to let me be homeschooled. One can imagine how well that was going.

“But I don’t have friends,” I explained. “I don’t fit in.”

He was sitting at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of coffee in one hand, looking like your stereotypical single father. Looking me up and down, he said, “You’ll make friends. Just find someone with the same…tastes as you.”

I wanted to laugh. My dad was great, because he let me express myself in ways my mother probably wouldn’t have. I was wearing black net leggings, a little black skirt, and a red and black checkered shirt. With my black hair tied up behind my head and my black eyeliner, I looked as if I’d just walked out of a Halloween store. I liked it.

“Dad. I’m the only girl in school that looks like this. And they’re all afraid of me,” I muttered. “Why?”

His eyes widened, and I quickly said, “Actually, no. Don’t answer that.”

Dad chuckled. “Honey, it’s okay. Look, things aren’t going to be easy. We both know that. But it’s going to be okay.”

“I just don’t get why we had to move here…” I said, taking a seat next to him. “I mean, what’s the point? We were happy where we were.” At least I was. It was the only thing that helped me remember by mother.

My father sighed. “I got a job here in Wellington. We’ve been over this. I needed to take you with me because I wasn’t going to leave you back there on your own. You understand that, don’t you?”

The worst part was, I did understand. I understood that we needed to move on. But just because I understood didn’t mean I needed to be okay with it. Ever since Mom had died, everything changed. The last thing that I had in life were my old friends and house. Now that was ripped away from me, too, and Dad just expected me to be okay with it. I loved my Dad so much, but didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be home.

Avoiding the question, I grabbed my backpack and said, “I have to go. I’ll see you later.”

“Do you want me to drive you?” he asked. But before he finished his question, I was already out the door.

***

The day was pretty boring for the most part, and once again I spent the entire day alone. Throughout the day, I heard murmurs of a kid who had apparently gone missing the night before, and I tried my best not to pay attention. Tragedy was too much to deal with. The only thing I knew about the student was that he was a male and was supposed to go to a movie with his friend. According to a few people, they think the friend did something to him, as she wasn’t in school today. Other people think he did something to her and ran away and her body would probably be found in a ditch somewhere.

Yeah, I thought to myself sarcastically. What a nice little down Wellington is. 

As the final bell rang, I headed outside to wait in the school parking lot for my father, who I knew would come pick me up even if I didn’t want him to. Might as well not make him waste his time. I waited patiently, leaning against the wall, trying hard not to imagine the terrible things that could have happened to those students.

Just like Mom.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move. Glancing away from my phone, I looked over to see what it was, but there was nothing there. It was just an empty football field. Thinking it was nothing of any importance, I went back to scrolling through Facebook.

About twenty minutes passed and my dad still hadn’t shown. I texted him, asking if he could hurry up, but I noticed that I was the only one left. No more teachers. No more staff. No more students.

“Great,” I muttered. I placed a call to my dad and it rang about five times before it went to voicemail.

Bang!

Suddenly, out of nowhere, someone came rushing at me. They were wearing all black–black hoodie, black pants, black shoes, and what looked like a black masquerade mask. I screamed, and they grabbed hold of me, and shoved me against the brick wall. I tried to fight back, but before I could do anything, I smashed into the wall again and fell to the ground in pain. The assaulter ran off, leaving me all alone. Blood dripped down the sides of my arms, and I tried to get myself together.

What the hell just happened? I thought. This person didn’t take anything. All they did was shove me into the wall. No rape. No theft. What was the point? It all happened so fast that I barely had any time to think.

A moment later, Dad pulled up. He jumped out of the car to come and help me, and said, “Oh my God! Eden, what happened?”

He reached out his hand to lift me up, and I wiped some of the blood off my arm. “I-I don’t really know,” I said. I tried to think of what to say, but what could I? “I-I think I just fell.”

His eyes narrowed as if he didn’t believe me. “You think you fell?”

I tried my best to force a laugh, but it came out hoarse. “Yeah, you know…tripping over air and stuff.” It wasn’t a very believable lie, but would he actually believe the truth? There was no reason for why I had just been assaulted like that. None. But every criminal had a motive, right?

***

At the house, I sat in the living room on my laptop, talking to one of my old friends back at my old home. I refused to talk about what happened at the school because it was too embarrassing, and quite frankly, bizarre. Maybe they got the wrong person. Maybe they thought I was someone else, and when they realized I wasn’t who they thought I was, they pushed me to make sure I couldn’t fight back.

It was unlikely, but the only thing that actually made sense.

Dad walked into the living room and said, “I gotta go out for a business meeting. You’ll be okay by yourself, right?”

The thought of him leaving me alone was terrifying, but I faked a smile. “Don’t worry, Dad. I’m alright.”

Looking rather unsure, he left anyway, and I was by myself for the first time in the new house since we got there. After the incident at the school, I was a little nervous and decided to go take a shower to help calm down. I closed my laptop and took my cell phone upstairs with me as I looked for some pajamas. With my pajamas chosen, I walked into the bathroom and closed the door behind me.

Beep. My phone just received an email.

When I looked at the name of the sender, I gasped. Masquerade. Locking the bathroom door quickly, I turned on the shower and then began reading the email. All it contained was a web address.

whoismasquerade.wordpress.com

My heart pounded in my chest as I clicked the link. It brought me to an all black page, similar to a blog. The first thing I saw was a video, and as I clicked on it, I gasped. The video was of me.

In  the parking lot.

Masquerade coming up and attacking me.

It was as if someone was watching, recording the entire thing. Or did Masquerade put a camera there to make sure they got this sick stuff on tape? This was crazy. It was more than crazy–it was twisted.

Bang!

I screamed as something on the other side of the bathroom door bashed into it and continued to bang it over and over. The Masquerade was here! They were here to get me! The banging continued for a few more seconds, then finally stopped. I found myself sitting on the floor, shower still running, holding myself in fetal position. The horror of what just happened wouldn’t leave my mind for the rest of that evening. And I had no idea that this was only the beginning of coming trouble.

1×01: Josh

Everyone has secrets. When you were little, you probably kept secrets from your parents all the time because you felt that if they found out, you’d get grounded. Maybe that meant your television privileges would be taken away, or maybe it meant you couldn’t have snacks for a whole week.

Secrets are a part of life, but the older you get, the more you learn about the world. When I turned sixteen, I never expected my life to get as complicated as it did. In fact, I don’t think anyone at Wellington High School excepted their lives to be irrevocably changed. 2014 was the year that changed out lives forever, and nothing would ever be the same.

I am not the founder of this blog. In fact, my hope is to find out who did. There are secrets the world needs to know, and I can’t let the truth slip away from anyone. My friends and I are here to tell you the tale. We all have our stories.

The story begins with me.

***

Sitting behind my computer, I typed away at my latest novel, trying to master the art of writing. Of course, with just turning sixteen, I was hardly Stephen King. Writing had been my passion since I was a kid, and knew that this was something I wanted to do. I wanted to be an author. It was my dream job, and I vowed to make it happened before I turned eighteen.

Wellington was a quiet little town, one that I never saw the outside of. I spent my whole life there, and due to lack of income, we were never able to go vacationing anywhere. It was alright considering I had two great friends to keep me company: Damien and Haven. But recently, things weren’t going so well with them.

Thinking of the Damien situation, I closed my computer and headed over to my mirror to find myself gazing at my reflection. What was wrong with me? I mean, I wasn’t anything hot, but wasn’t an ugly guy. I had short, brown hair and chestnut eyes. I was about 6 feet tall, and was of white descent. I wish I knew more about my family background to give a better description, but white was it.

I can’t think like this, I thought. Damien’s my friend and that’s that. 

But things were getting a lot more complicated than I’d anticipated. Best friends since we were eight, Damien and I had a lot in common, and we knew practically everything about each other. He knew everything about me, all except for one:

I was gay. And I was in love with him.

It wasn’t something that was always there. It actually wasn’t until recently that I started having feelings for him, and it was a bit of a disaster. Being in love with my straight best friend was only going to lead to issues. So instead of admitting my feelings, I buried them underneath, hoping that no one would ever find out the truth.

My phone rang from my bed, and I jumped. I reached over to grab it, and answered before it rang for a second time. “Hello?”

“Hey,” Damien said. “What are you up to, man?”

Trying not to think about being in love with you. Not that I would say that to him. “Nothing, just working on my new novel. It’s going really well.”

“That’s great to hear. I’d love to read it some time,” Damien said. “But I was actually calling to see if you wanted to come with me tonight. Haven asked me to go see a movie with her, so I figured I’d ask you to come along.”

It took me a moment to process everything he was saying. “Wait–Haven asked you to the movies and didn’t ask me? Why did she do that?”

I could practically hear his shrug through the phone. “Not sure. Maybe she just thought you were busy.”

That was a huge possibility, but I wasn’t too positive. Were my suspicions coming true? Was Haven into Damien? And if she was, did I really have a right to be jealous? “I’m sorry, but I can’t,” I told him. “I have to try and get this chapter finished, and then I have to do some homework before I go to sleep.”

“You know, most people do their homework before they do other things,” Damien said, and my heart warmed at his jokey tone.

“I guess I have other priorities.”

He sighed. “Well, I suppose I can’t make you come. But we’d really like for you to come.”

After explaining a little more that I really couldn’t, we ended the call and I plopped down on my bed, trying not to think about him. But I couldn’t get him out of my mind. It was bugging me in more ways than one, and I needed to do something about it.

Before I could think of anything to do, I fell asleep.

***

I woke up to flashing lights outside my house. Had I dozed off? I looked at the clock and saw that it was 2 AM, and I climbed out of bed to look out the window. Police were here. Two cops cars sat in the driveway, blue lights blurring my eyes. What was going on?

Not wasting a moment, I headed downstairs to see that mom had already answered the door. She turned around to look at me and tears were streaming down her face. Between the tears and the bed head, she looked terrible.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

One of the officers, a young man who looked about twenty-five, said, “We have to ask you a few questions about your friend Damien. Do you mind stepping outside for a moment?”

Damien? Did something bad happen to him? My heart was pounding a million miles per hour, but I obliged. I followed the officer over to his car, and I looked in for some sign of Damien. Nothing.

“You’re friends with Damien, right?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied. “He and I have been best friends for years. Is everything okay?”

The officer frowned at me, showing off at least some sign of emotion. “I’m afraid not. He was reported missing earlier this evening. There’s been no sign of him. And according to his phone records, the last person he was on the phone with was you.”

My jaw fell open and fear swept over my body like a crash of ocean waves. Something had happened to my best friend, and that was all I was concerned about. “Oh my God…I…I fell asleep after we talked on the phone. He said he was going to the movies with our friend Haven. She apparently asked him to go.”

“Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to reach you’re other friend, Haven. While a missing person’s case has not been opened for her, it’s possible that it will.” The officer wrote something down on his pad. He asked a few more questions, including my number, school, and other personal information. After he finished, I went back inside to find my mother sitting at the table, her head resting in her hands with her elbows propped on the table.

“Mom?” I asked. Tears were forming behind my eyes, but I couldn’t let it show. “Do you think Damien’s going to be okay?”

She lifted her head and tried to smile behind the tears. “We both know Damien. He’s probably going to be alright.”

And that was definitely mom code for “Damien is probably already dead, but I can’t tell you that.”

I went back upstairs to my room, resting my head on my pillow and hoping for some sort of peace. There wasn’t any. That was the first night I realized my life would never be peaceful again.

And I was right.