1×10: The Devil Within

Josh

“I already told you I’m going,” I said to Eden that Friday. School had just gotten out and Eden was determined to keep me from going to the graveyard. Regardless of what she said, I already made up my mind and I wasn’t going to cancel just because of her. I needed to find out what was going on. I needed answers.

“Josh, wait,” Eden said, running to try and catch up with me as I reached my car. Opening the driver’s door, I slipped into the seat and closed it before Eden reached me. Then, instead of talking to me, she went and stood behind the car, blocking my way out of the parking lot.

Rolling down my window, I yelled, “Eden, move out of the way!”

“You can’t go!” Eden pleaded one last time. “It’s not safe.”

I knew it wasn’t, but that couldn’t stop me. “I’m going. Now please move.”

For a moment I thought she wasn’t going to move, but finally, she stepped out of the way and I pulled out of the school parking lot and headed toward the graveyard. In just a couple hours, I’d be coming face to face with the mastermind behind it all. At least that was the hope. I just kept my fingers crossed that it wasn’t Damien.

Leslie

The school bell rang, and instead of heading to the bus, I was going toward the parking lot to meet my parents. We were going to see Lucas in the hospital. They asked him to stay a few days because along with the gash on his part, they said he had a concussion from hitting his head one something when the stink bomb went off.

“Leslie!”

I turned to see my best friend, Ruby. She smiled at me. I tried to smile back but it probably came off more as a grimace. “Hey, Ruby. I’m going to meet Lucas at the hospital. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

Ruby frowned. “Is he okay?”

I shrugged. “I haven’t seen him. Mom and Dad are pretty pissed that he had a gun. Apparently it wasn’t even ours.”

“He had a gun?” Ruby asked.

“Yeah. And thank God he did. Otherwise I would have been stabbed right in my chest, and they would have found my organs spilled all over the floor, most likely.” Thank God for Lucas. Thank God for him having that damn gun, even if it was suspicious that he had one. But I knew he was caught up in something. I just wasn’t sure what it was yet. Whoever the Masquerade was came to send Lucas a message: To stay out of the “game.” Whatever that was.

“Huh. Who would have thought he had it in him?” Ruby said. She gave me a quick hug and said, “I hope he’s okay. Just don’t let him know I said that.”

I nodded. On my way out of the school, I got stopped by another person. This girl was a cute little girl, who looked about 13. But I had a feeling she was a freshman.

“Hey, are you Leslie?” she asked.

“I am,” I replied. “But I really have to get going.”

“Oh, of course. I, uh, heard about what happened to Lucas.” The girl stopped and said, “Can you give him this note? Tell him it’s from Rachel.” Then she walked away, leaving me wondering what the heck that was all about. I thought about reading the note, but I had a feeling I didn’t want to know what was inside.

Eden

It was time. I called Matt and he met me outside my house at 6 PM. The sun was starting to go down, and as I climbed into the passenger seat, he laughed at me.

“What?” I asked.

“Are you going to tell me why exactly we’re following Josh to a graveyard tonight?” Matt asked. “Did he kill somebody? Are we going to watch him bury the body?”

For some reason, I actually laughed. “No, Josh didn’t kill anybody. I’m trying to keep  him from getting killed, if this counts for anything. So drive.”

We were driving for a few minutes, and I knew then that Josh would be mad at me the second he saw us. Not that I cared. I’d be a bad friend if I let him come out to a graveyard in the middle of the night alone.

“This is about Masquerade, isn’t it?”

My heart stopped. I turned to look at Matt, who kept his eyes on the road. His hands were gripped on the steering wheel and fear came over me. “W-what are you talking about?” I stammered.

He turned to glance at me for a second before looking back at the road. “Just answer the question. Is this about Masquerade?”

“How do you know about Masquerade?” I asked. This couldn’t be happening. I had a really bad feeling about this.

Matt didn’t answer for a moment. “I heard about it on Facebook,” he said. “Apparently Masquerade attacked a girl two nights ago. They just did a press conference about it two hours ago. That’s what they’re calling the person. Masquerade.”

My mouth hung open. “Masquerade attacked someone? I didn’t hear anything about that! Who was it?”

“Some girl named Leslie Sanders,” Matt said. “She’s a sophomore. Her brother’s a freshman and in the hospital. They won’t say what exactly happened, but according to the report, Masquerade attempted to murder her.”

Murder. Assault. Masquerade. My palms started sweating and I tried to relax. Inhaling was becoming an issue and my chest tightened with pressure. “Stop the car.”

“What?”

“I SAID STOP THE CAR!” I screamed, and Matt slammed on the brakes. Opening the passenger door, I fell out on the ground, clutching my chest. I couldn’t breathe. Soon Matt was at my side and he was holding me.

“Eden, relax,” he said softly. “You’re having a panic attack.”

I tried to relax, but I couldn’t. Masquerade. Murder. Assault. Masquerade. Assault. Murder. Murder. Murder. The word kept replaying over and over in my mind. This is the game. To torture us. To kill us. To scare us. 

After a few minutes, I stood up, brushing myself off. My breathing was back to normal. I looked down at Matt who was still sitting on the ground. He smiled at me weakly and said, “Are you okay?”

I shook my head. “No. All the more reason to go save Josh.”

Josh

Night had fallen. The mood was hanging high above the graveyard, and the light from the moon made it easy to navigate around the tombstones. I sat there waiting, looking at my phone, hoping for a text of some sort. So far nothing.

I listened to the sounds around me. Crickets chirping. Wind blowing. Cars driving by.

Feet crunching in the leaves.

I turned around but no one was there. Standing up, I turned on my phone to use as a little bit more light when I got a text.

“Welcome. It’s good to see you. I wish I could show myself, but I cannot. Not yet. Only when you’re ready for the truth.”

No signature. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was really Masquerade, White Masquerade, or Damien. I wanted it to be Damien. It had to be. As if the person was reading my mind, I got another text.

“Remember the first time? I bet you do. It was the first time you ever realized the truth about yourself.”

My heart stopped. One who didn’t understand it would have thought the text was vague. But to me it wasn’t. I remembered.

***

It was the first day of freshman year. Damien and I were at his house, but he had gone to take a shower. I was sitting on his bed when his computer dinged. Our friendship was so good that we normally checked each other’s messages if the other wasn’t around. Why not? It wasn’t like we had anything to hide.

I walked over to the computer and shook the mouse so the screen popped up. It was a message from some girl–someone I didn’t know–and what I saw shocked me. It was a nude picture of her. 

What the hell? I thought. Why is this girl sending nude photos of herself?

What made it even weirder was that I’d never seen a girl’s body before, but looking at one at that moment, I realized it wasn’t doing anything for me. It wasn’t that hot. Curious as to why this girl sent a photo of herself, I scrolled up, but only had to go so far to see what started the exchange.

There was a photo of Damien. Naked.

“What are you doing?” 

I turned around to find Damien standing there in a towel. Taking a long look, I saw he was starting to get abs and his chest was…nice. I tried hard not to look. This wasn’t what friends did, was it? But looking at him was making me kind of…hot.

“Uh…I was looking to see a new message you got. It’s from some girl. Do you know her?”

Damien didn’t say anything at first. He walked over to the computer and saw that his nude photo was on the screen. At first, he seemed confused. Very confused. And as if something switched inside of him, he smiled, looking embarrassed. “I’m sorry, man. I didn’t want you to see that. I should have told you not to look. This is embarrassing.”

“No, it’s uh…it’s okay,” I said. Really, it was. In fact, I actually kind of liked looking at it. And that was when I realized the truth. I was in love with him. All those times I thought my feelings were more than a need to be friends…I was right. He was attractive to me.

Shit.

“It won’t happened again.” Then he logged out of his account and I saw him typing. Next thing you know, he was back on Facebook.

“What did you just do?” I asked. “Weren’t you just signed in?”

“That account is my fake account,” he said nonchalantly. “Now go. You already saw me naked once. Don’t need to see it again.”

I walked out of the room, closing the door behind me, wondering why I really wanted to go back in there.

***

That was the day I realized I had feelings for Damien. That whole account was a mystery, but it became very clear to me that something from that memory needed to be recollected. This person wanted me to know. It had to be Damien…but how did he know I had feelings for him?

“What do you want me to remember?” I said out loud, hoping they could hear me. “Is that you…Damien?” Tears formed in my eyes but I tried not to let them out. “Damien, if that’s you and you know the truth…I always wanted to tell you. Just…tell me what I need to know. Tell me if it’s you. Tell me what’s going on.”

I waited a few seconds. My phone beeped.

“I will reveal my identity soon enough. But remember the past. Remembering the past can help you with your future.”

The past. The memory. There was something there I needed to remember. Something important. Something that could help…

The fake account.

“Is it the fake account?” I asked out loud. “Damien had a fake account that he used for…things. But is that what I need to remember?”

Then from behind a tree, a figure stepped out.

Masquerade.

Leslie

Lucas was sitting in his hospital bed, looking at his phone, which he wasn’t supposed to have. I knocked on the door, even though it was open, and he smiled when he saw me. “Hey, sis.”

I tried to force a smile, but it didn’t work. “Where are Mom and Dad? They came in before me.”

“They went to go get my some food,” he said. “Are you feeling okay?”

I laughed. “I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be asking you that. But…that’s not why I’m here. We need to talk about what happened the other night. With Masquerade.”

Lucas looked away from me, avoiding my eyes. “Nothing. You know everything. I heard a noise and went downstairs to see what it was. And then I saw Masquerade was going to hurt you, so…I just…” He trailed off. For some reason this didn’t seem like the confident Lucas I’d seen the other night.

It seemed like an act.

Josh

Masquerade stood there, about twenty feet away, watching me. And in one of their hands was a gleaming knife.

“Is it you sending me these texts?” I asked. “Are you messing with me? Huh? Is this part of the game?”

But I realized very quickly that we weren’t alone. Turning around, I saw White Masquerade standing there. There was a gun in their hand. And they were pointing it right in my direction, but I couldn’t tell if it was aimed at me or Masquerade.

I fell to the ground when the gun went off.

At first I thought I’d been hit, but realized I only fell in fear. The gun didn’t hit Masquerade either, because they were running through the trees.

“Wait!” I screamed.

“Josh!” a voice yelled. I looked to see Eden and that new guy, Matt, running toward me. “Oh my God, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” I said as they helped me up. “But what the hell are you doing here? I thought I told you I could handle this!”

“Yeah, you look like you’re doing so well handling this alone,” Eden snapped at me. “You know, cowering on the ground.”

I glared at her. “The fun went off! There’s two of them!”

“There’s really two for sure now?” Eden asked. “A White Masquerade and Masquerade?”

I nodded. “And from what I can tell…they’re not friends. That’s for sure.”

Eden

Driving home was quiet. Josh didn’t want to talk to me, but said thank you to Matt. Of course he would. Sitting in the passenger seat of Matt’s car, arms crossed over my chest, I avoided conversation.

“Eden,” Matt said. “You did the right thing. I would have done it for him, too, had you not.”

“That’s because you like him,” I snapped. I don’t know why I was so mad about that.

Matt said, “I don’t like him, per se. I think he’s cute. But don’t admit that to him. The point is, I’d like to get to know him. And after tonight, seeing that go down…I really want to be there to help him. What was he even doing out there anyway?”

“Looking for an old friend,” I sighed. Then, as we drove along the road, I saw something. Someone. “Hey, slow the car down.”

Matt slowed down the car and as we got closer, I saw that it was a female. She had blonde hair and it looked like dried up blood was stuck in her hair. Make-up was smeared and clothes were torn. What in the world?

“Roll down the window,” I said to Matt. When he did, I stuck my head out the window and said, “Hey, are you okay?”

The girl looked up at me and wiped tears from her eyes. “I-I’m fine.”

“How old are you?” I asked.

“Sixteen,” the girl replied.

“Do you need a ride? We can take you to a police station.”

She seemed hesitant, but finally, she nodded. She climbed in the backseat and we drove in silence for a few minutes. I couldn’t take it anymore. Looking in the backseat, I asked, “What’s your name? What happened to you?”

The girl opened her mouth to say, then closed it again. After some thinking, she said, “Haven. My name is Haven.”

1×09: Leslie

Bam!

I shot up in bed, listening for the sound again. What had just woken me up? It was the middle of the night and everyone in the house was supposed to be asleep. But it seemed as though there was a bang someone in the house. Slowly slipping out of bed, I tiptoed over to the door, creaking it open.

Sticking my head into the hall, I looked for any signs of someone. No one was there. I closed the door and went toward my window, looking outside into the dark of the night. At first I saw nothing. Just the shadows of the trees and bushes.

But then one of those shadows moved.

As they stepped out into the streetlight, I saw that it was a person. They were standing there, facing my house, then looked up. Their face was covered by a black Masquerade mask.

My heart pounded in my chest as I backed far enough away from the window, hoping the person wouldn’t see me. I picked up my phone and dialed 9-1-1. I was not going to sit around and wait for this.

The phone rang, and someone finally answered. “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

“There’s someone outside my house,” I whispered. “Someone wearing a masquerade mask. They were just looking in my window.”

“Ma’am, what’s your address? I’ll send officers over there right away to make sure everything’s okay,” the woman said.

“I think he was in my house,” I explained, trying to calm my nerves. “I woke up and heard a bang. And then I didn’t see anyone in the house, but I saw him outside. I don’t know if he was inside or not, though.”

“Ma’am, what’s your address?” the woman repeated again. I gave it to her and she said, “I’m sending officers on the way.”

Looking out the window, I saw no sign of the person in the masquerade mask. Did they know I saw them?

Bang!

I jumped and said, “There’s someone in the house.”

“Is anyone else in the house with you?” the woman asked.

“My brother and parents,” I said, then stopped. Lucas. Lucas said he had seen someone with a Masquerade mask out by the buses the other day. Was this the same person? If so, what would be the reason for watching us? “My brother claimed he saw someone wearing a masquerade mask out by the buses the other day after school. I thought he was making it up…”

“So you think someone has been watching you?” the woman asked.

Bang! 

“Something’s definitely going on downstairs.” I opened my bedroom door and peeked out into the hall again. I didn’t see anything. Goosebumps ran over my body, causing me to shiver. “I’m going to go check it out.”

“Ma’am, stay where you are,” the woman said. “It’s a better idea to stay where you’re safe.”

Ignoring her, I walked down the stairs, peeking around the corner to see if someone was there. No one. Continuing in the downstairs hallway, I turned to go into the kitchen when I was thrown to the ground.

I screamed, but the person standing before me was intimidating. The Masquerade. And gleaming in their right hand was a knife. They lunged at me, but I quickly stood up, avoiding the blade. The Masquerade grabbed a hold of me and I shrieked when they threw me into the refrigerator, knocking me down again. Masquerade jumped on top of me, forcing their hand over my mouth, and using the other hand, held the blade to my throat.

Neither of us made a sound. Even though I could see their eyes through the hole of the mask, I knew they were watching me. I wanted to struggle, but I couldn’t. They were too strong. Masquerade lifted the knife, ready to plunge it deep into my chest, when a voice said, “Stop.”

Masquerade turned around, giving me enough time to throw them off of me. I scrambled, trying to stand up, and ran over to where I saw my brother standing. Lucas. And my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw he had a gun in his hand.

“Get out of the house,” Lucas said to Masquerade. “And don’t come back again.” He stood there, looking ready to take on the world. My little brother was growing up. But what scared me was the lack of fear in his eyes. The cold, dark stare he was giving the masked figure on the other side of the room.

“Oh my God!” a voice said from the top of the stairs. Mom.

“Mom, don’t come in here,” Lucas said, refusing to take his eyes off the Masquerade. I turned to see Mom and Dad standing there, watching Lucas stand his ground. But the Masquerade wouldn’t leave.

“If you don’t leave, I’m going to shoot,” Lucas said, cocking the gun. “Three…two…”

And with no warning, Masquerade threw a stink bomb right at us. I screamed again, running away, and Lucas shot the gun. I heard screams all throughout, none of which I could make out. I couldn’t see anything and fell over something, right on my face. More gunshots rang through the house, and sirens could be heard outside.

Doors opening.

Cool air.

Voices.

Once outside, an EMT was talking to me, asking me questions about what happened, but I was too scared to talk. I looked over at my brother, who had a huge gash on his arm that wouldn’t stop bleeding. I heard someone mentioned “stitches.” Someone, an officer, handed me my phone, which they found on the floor inside the house.

I had one new text message.

Opening it up, the words sent more chills down my spine.

“Tell your brother to stay out of it. This is not his game to play.” -Masquerade

Looking back over at Lucas, I knew he was hiding something from me. Underneath that strength was a dark secret. And I needed to figure out what it was.

1×08: Eden

Tuesday morning came and Dad was driving me to school. I was half tempted to blurt out everything that was going on in my life and about the texts I was getting from Masquerade, but I didn’t want to compromise the “game”.

“Are your grades good so far?” he asked as we pulled into school. “It’s October now, right? You’ll be getting a progress report soon, I believe.”

“Soon enough,” I said. We pulled into the school parking lot and I gave him a hug before I got out. On the way into the school building, I saw someone I hadn’t seen before. He had dirty blonde hair and bright blue eyes. He was tall, wore a nice button-up shirt, and straight legged jeans, and smiled at me. I almost walked passed him until I saw a piece of paper in his hand.

“You’re new, aren’t you?” I asked him.

The guy smiled. “Yeah, I am. Today’s my first day.” He held out his hand and said, “My name’s Matt.”

“Eden,” I replied, shaking his hand. I felt a little weird, but Matt seemed nice. “Do you, uh, know your way around? I could show you if you…you know, need help.” Oh God, what was wrong with me?  But looking him up and down, I knew what was wrong. He was hot.

His smile didn’t drop once. “I actually don’t know my way around, so I could use the help. I have AP Literature and Composition.”

An AP guy? Must be pretty smart. I asked, “You’re a senior?”

“Actually, I’m a junior, but I’ll have enough credits to graduate this year. Unless I decide to stay for an extra year, I’ll be off to college.” He handed me his schedule, and I couldn’t help but notice all the classes he was in.

AP Literature and Composition

AP Psychology

Calculus

Lunch

AP American Government

AP Biology

Sociology

“This is, a uh, interesting schedule,” I said, not sure what exactly I was supposed to say. “Are these all the final graduation requirements you need?”

Matt nodded. “I’m really big into psychology and sociology. What makes people do the things they do is something I ponder on a day-to-day basis.”

His personality was fascinating. While he didn’t seen narcissistic, he seemed confident in his own skin, and that was something I admired. My phone beeped and my heart almost stopped in my chest. The look or horror must have flashed across my face, because Matt suddenly looked concerned, his eyebrows scrunched up and his mouth flat.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“N-nothing,” I said, pulling out my phone to read the text. I sighed in relief when I realized it was just Josh. He was letting my know to meet him before class this morning. Damn it. “Hey, I’m supposed to help a friend this morning with something. We still have time before the bell rings. If you want to come with us, maybe we can show you to you class afterward.”

For a moment, I thought he was going to say no. Finally, he smiled and said, “Sure. I could use some friends around here.”

Together, the two of us walked to the spot under the stairs in the main hall where Josh told me to meet him. Matt stood by my side the whole time with minimal space between us, and I tried not to look. There was no way he’d be into me. He looked like he just stepped out of an Aeropostale poster, and I looked like I was born in the corner of Hot Topic.

When we got to the stairs, I saw Josh keeping a lookout. “Hey,” I said. “Matt, this is Josh. Josh, this is Matt. Matt just moved here. It’s his first day.”

Josh looked at Matt, and the second their eyes locked, I saw it. Their eyes met, and for just a moment, Matt’s eye twinkled. Freaking twinkled. And he suddenly looked uncomfortable, but smiled anyway.

Matt was gay.

I wanted to laugh at how ridiculous it was. I wouldn’t have noticed, but by the way he looked at Josh, it was completely obvious. Josh, who seemed unaware of the situation, said, “Hey Matt, it’s nice to meet you. Do you like it here so far?”

“Well,” Matt laughed, “the first ten minutes have been pretty nice.”

Josh frowned, looking embarrassed. I watched the interaction, noting just how cute it was, and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get Josh’s mind off the Masquerade business for a little while. As long as we discussed whatever he needed first.

“Anyway,” I said, “what did you need me here for? Is everything okay?”

“Um…can I talk to you away from him? It’s about that thing.” Josh smiled at Matt and said, “No offense to you, but it’s personal.”

“None taken,” Matt said. “I’ll just be over there by the water fountain, trying not to listen.”

Matt walked away, leaving Josh and I alone. Josh told me what happened to him yesterday at the graveyard, the unsigned text, and White Masquerade. The fact that there was another one was blowing my mind.

“That’s crazy,” I said.

Josh nodded. “Of course it’s crazy, but it’s the truth. There’s another one. And I think I have a pretty good idea who it is.”

He didn’t have to finish his sentence because I knew exactly who he was talking about. “Damien,” I whispered.

“Yeah,” Josh said. “It’s got to be. But why would Damien be running around town in a White Masquerade outfit? Especially since there’s another Masquerade? I can’t think that he’s the one doing this to us, so White Masquerade has to be good, right?”

So many possibilities and not enough answers. I sighed. “I don’t know, Josh. The whole thing sounds risky. I don’t think you should go see them on Friday. The chances of it being Damien are 50/50 and you shouldn’t take that risk. For all we know, Damien could be–“

I stopped before I finished what was coming too quickly from my mouth. Josh stared at me, not angry, but sadly. He had thought about it, too. It was hard not to when something like this happens. The chances of Damien being alive were slim. Especially since no one had heard a single thing from him since his disappearance.

“Maybe this is him reaching out,” Josh said. “If Damien is alive, I know he would try to get in contact with me.”

“That may be true, but this is dangerous,” I said. “The game doesn’t just involve you. Doing this could jeopardize me and anyone else who might be involved in this. There are other players. We need to find them.”

“No,” Josh said. “I don’t need to find any of them. I need to find Damien. I loved him, Eden, don’t you get that? He was my best friend. The love of my life. I’m not going to just let him die out there. If he needs me, I’m going to help him.”

Josh stormed off and Matt walked back over. “Is everything okay?”

I shook my head. “No. Everything’s definitely not okay.”

***

At lunch, Josh never showed. Matt sat with me instead, and the two of us didn’t say much. I was too busy thinking about what happened with Josh, and what he might be planning for Friday. I had to figure out a way to stop him.

“So…” Matt finally said. “Where’s Josh?”

“Why?” I asked, trying to laugh. “You got the hots for him for something?”

Matt actually seemed to blush, but didn’t stop smiling. “Am I that obvious?” Even as he talked, his voice was deep, not at all feminine. Of course, Josh’s voice wasn’t feminine either, but was a little more neutral.

“Yeah, you are,” I replied. “I mean, at least you are to me. Now…are you, you know…gay?”

He shrugged. “Bisexual, I guess. I’ve dated women before. I’ve actually never had a boyfriend, although I’ve had crushes.”

“Well, Josh isn’t out yet,” I said. “You guys should try and talk. Get to know each other.”

Matt smirked at me. “You trying to set us up? And here I thought you had the hots for me.” He went back to eating, while I pondered everything. Masquerade. Josh. Matt. The meeting Josh was going to have on Friday. There was one thing I knew I wouldn’t do, which was let him go alone.

“Hey Matt,” I said. “You busy Friday?”

1×07: Josh

“So basically, Masquerade thinks this is a game,” I said Monday afternoon at lunch. “That’s reassuring. I suppose.” To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what I thought. When Eden had told me about the “game,” I thought she was joking. But when she showed me the text this morning, I knew it was true. Masquerade was playing a game.

“Right,” Eden said. “All games have an ending in mind. In hide and seek, the winner finds all those who are hidden. In Chutes and Ladders, it’s about who makes it to the top. All we have to figure out are the rules of the game, how to win it, and how to beat it.”

She made it sound like it was so simple. I didn’t think it would be. Whoever Masquerade was, they weren’t going to make it so that we could win easily. In fact, it was possible we couldn’t win at all. The thought of that was terrifying.

“I don’t even know if we can,” I said to her. “How do we know that there’s a way for us to win? What if only he can win?”

“He?” Eden asked.

I noticed the word that came out of my mouth and shrugged. “I guess it just feels like a he.”

“Maybe that’s the exact reason why it won’t be a boy,” Eden replied. “I mean, I thought it seemed like a guy, too, but we shouldn’t rule out females. Females can be vicious.”

But this vicious? I’d never heard of female stalkers. Sure, it was possible, but just how likely was it? I kept my phone’s volume a little higher today. I was more on edge than I ever had been. It seemed as though every second I was being watched, even though it wasn’t possible. I was being paranoid and knew it.

“So what do we do about it?” I asked.

“We play the game, and hope that whatever they want gets resolved quickly,” Eden said. “But I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something else.” She leaned and said whispered, “Do you think we’re the only ones?”

“The only targets?” I said. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I realized that was something I really hadn’t thought about. Were we the only targets? Was that even possible? “I guess…I haven’t really considered anyone else. But that’s a really good question. If we’re the only targets, that’s odd since we didn’t have a connection prior to becoming friends, but you were already attacked when we became friends.”

“Exactly. There’s a connection. Something that ties this all together. But…what is it? And are there really other people involved? How would we even find out if there? We can’t just go around asking people if they’re being stalked by Masquerade.”

She had a point. So how would we find out if we were the only ones? Suddenly, our phones both buzzed at the same time. Glancing at each other, fear etched on our faces, we glanced at our phones.

“Think you’re the only ones? Think again. This game needs lots of players in order to go forward. There’s a lot you need to know.” -Masquerade

“A lot we need to know?” I said. “What do you think they mean by that?”

“I’m no expert, but…I did take psychology my freshman year and AP psychology last year,” Eden replied. “It’s possible that this person is crazy. But sometimes crazy people have reasons. Motives. What drives a person to make them do the things they do? That’s what we need to ask ourselves to figure this out.”

But it seemed as though Eden missed the point. Masquerade heard our conversation. Masquerade was here. And they were close.

***

On the ride home from school, I was about to pull into my neighborhood when I saw it. At first I thought I was going crazy, but after another glance, I knew I wasn’t losing my mind. It was Masquerade. Except this time, their disguise was different.

It was white.

They were standing off the side of the road by the gate of a graveyard. I didn’t stop my car, and instead kept driving. Should I have stopped? Maybe. But I didn’t want to risk it. I was alone, and we still didn’t know what Masquerade wanted.

My phone beeped beside me, and I waited until I got to the nearest stoplight to read the text message.

“Meet me Friday night in the graveyard. There are things we need to discuss.”

No Masquerade signature. Of course, it was an unknown number, but the fact that Masquerade didn’t sign the message made me wonder. The person that I just saw…was that Masquerade? It had to have been, right?

Unless there were two.

“No,” I said to myself, pushing on the gas when the green light lit. “That’s not possible. There are not two of them. One is enough.”

Then the other thought occurred to me. One that made my heart stop. Damien? Could that person on the side of the road have been him? Without any hesitation, I looked to make sure no other cars were on the road, and I swerved around, going back toward the graveyard.

It’s Damien, I thought. It had to be. But if it was him, why has he dressed up as some sort of white Masquerade? Was he the one messing with us? I had to find out. He had to tell me the truth.

I pulled up the the curve, jumping out of the car. There was no sign of the White Masquerade. Maybe they went inside the graveyard. As I went to go open the gate, my phone beeped again.

“Do not come inside. Come Friday. You’ll know everything then.”

It was Damien. I knew it was. I wanted to text back, but the best I could do was yell through the gate.

“I know you’re in there!” I yelled. “I’m coming back Friday, but I need to know the truth. The whole truth, no beating around the bush. You better be here.”

As I got back in my car and drove away, I looked in the rearview mirror. White Masquerade was watching me. It was the most chilling sight I’d ever encountered in a very long time.