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.”

1×08: 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?”

1×05: 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.

1×02: 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.