“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.
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.
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.
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.