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?”
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.
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?