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Threatening Souls [PUBLISHED PREVIEW]

Summary

This is the first novel in the Threatening Souls series.

The sacrifices, the drama, the horror within. In the year of 1860, a curse was performed over the suburb of Roseway, Washington, which rests about twenty miles south of Seattle, that killed nearly every living resident. After coming back to Earth as spirits, they form a twisted plan that not only provides them with bodies of their own but also kills off all who venture into Roseway in the future.

Thirteen-year-old Rebekah Jensen has lived a fine life in Marywood, Florida with two best friends, a clique that strives to make her one of them, and a boyfriend who happened to be one of the most popular guys in her school. But all that is about to change when the date of her arrival to Roseway nears, when she starts to see things that she presumes are spirits-and she is sure that she had gone insane.

After moving to Roseway, she gets sucked into an illusion of the dead, coming to regard Roseway as some sort of cult in which they worship a mysterious being that is introduced to her as the Master. Within the months of enduring Roseway, she finds out more about herself and her purpose in the suburb. Teaming up with a friend, who has a dark secret, Rebekah must put an end to the curse before she ends up like the rest of the victims.

Republished October 31, 2016 under The Polyethnic Publishing.

Cover credit: Melissa M. Futrell

Author's Note

This book has recently been republished underneath The Polyethnic Publishing on October 31, 2016. The prologue and first five chapters of this book are from the newest version of this novel and have been made public on Writersky to read for free.

Reviews from Amazon:

 "I just finished reading this novel tonight, and I enjoyed it so much. Nicole does a fantastic job at creating an unique world--the mysterious town of Roseway, and shaping believable characters whom you grow attached to. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense and horror, and doesn't mind some cursing. Definitely going to read the sequel. Five stars." --Victoria Snow, author of Edyn: The Infected and The World of Phoenix: V.  

"In her debut novel, Ms. Lambert shows exemplary mastery by crafting a tale complete with memorable characters, rich descriptions, and a riveting plot. One aspect that surprised me the most was that, despite its length, I finished the novel within a matter of days! For most novels over 300 pages (even those by my favorite authors!), it usually takes me close to a month. But, as a result of Ms. Lambert's deft ability to generate suspense, the book was simply impossible to put down! It was one of those rare books that had the ability to make me feel emotionally invested in the characters — their paranoia, struggles, and successes felt like my own. In closing, I genuinely hope that people take the time to read this novel and support this aspiring writer who already writes like a pro." --Olivia Kuziel.

"Captivating and engaging, this book has away to pull you into its grasp so you cant put it down. The wording flows like silk making it an effortless, perfect for late night reading. The description is beyond compare, as I was hooked from the very first sentence." --Amelia Etchells, author of 1,2,3: Battles to Win.

"A recommended read. Perfectly written from the very beginning and a must-have for many readers. Lambert takes us on the journey in a mysterious place called, "Roseway" that instantly pulls you in. In this thriller YA novel, it is unpredictable and will give you the chills." --Melissa M. Futrell, author of The Venomous Saga and Ryan and Julie.

"The cover is gorgeous itself. A very contemporary take on an original story. It is great for the fall season and it is hard to put down. In my opinion, the description is great and there is amazing character building. Nicole does a good job at creating her own world. I recommend this during the Halloween season, a great binge read!" --Jaden Morello.

Links to Other Reviews:

https://quirkyandpeculiar.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/threatening-souls-by-nicole-lambert/

https://sarahwazir.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/review-threatening-souls/

https://www.instagram.com/p/BMvOsLdDNW7/?taken-by=bookfrenzy_

Interview:

http://readinginthewindowseat.blogspot.com/2016/10/threatening-souls-giveaway-interview_3.html

Introduction

There’s just something hauntingly beautiful about a candle, its flame dancing freely against the background of night. It is one of those sights that remains shrouded in mystery without a care in the world, and all we can do is stare, mesmerized by its beauty. And in the presence of the candle’s continuous flame, we slowly find ourselves becoming more and more hypnotized as we succumb to the darkness that envelops our minds.

Prologue

Henri Anderson had never truly been one to express mercy, especially with those he deemed as inferior to himself. After all, he was currently the most powerful and infamous immortal warlock on the planet, which also allowed him to rule over the immortal magic users. While his subjects, for the most part, respected him, especially those who resided within the Dark Rulers and the Dark Guard, the rest of the world who knew his true name feared him. Mortal magic users and those who had been deemed as special humans alike, with the exception of the Spies, had a history of forming alliances with one another with the sole purpose of defeating the immortal threat, or in other words, the threat he imposed on society.

Henri especially hated the mortal magic users. He hated how easy it was for them to form alliances with the Innocents and the Foreseers, whereas if the immortal magic users wished to take advantage of the abilities those special humans possessed, a mixture of kidnapping, torture, and manipulation was inevitable. His hatred of the mortals was what stemmed his desire to curse the small town of Roseway, and in order to do so, he relied solely on manipulation and was the first immortal being to make an alliance with an Innocent without the use of kidnapping and torture. In essence, he told said human that if she helped him by using the abilities that had been gifted to her since birth, she would earn immortality. Yet, the kind of immortality Henri promised the human was a sense of false immortality, and through her permission, he had cursed Roseway in the year of 1860 by letting the acid rain fall. Only two people to his knowledge managed to escape the curse as they fled the town to find help, but he didn’t care much for them and instead focused on those he did successfully kill.

After abandoning their bodies that had been reduced to molten ash, vengeful spirits soon began to swarm the town, evidently confused as to what had happened. That was when Henri decided to reveal himself to them and planted the false idea in their heads that if they possessed any and all living souls who came to Roseway after the acid rain fell, they would gain an immortal life.

Thus, Henri proceeded to take over the town with a new title he had conned for himself. From this point forward, he was formally known as the Master.

Chapter One

You can do this, Rebekah Jensen thought as she stared at her blank expression in the mirror of her bedroom. Today is just like any ordinary day.

Taking the brush off her wooden dresser, she began to brush through her tangled light-brown hair, knowing that she was lying to herself. Today was anything but ordinary. It was her last day in Marywood, Florida, and that saddened her tremendously, especially since she had lived in Marywood her whole life.

From behind, Rebekah heard her door open slightly, and she jumped—not because she was frightened, but because she didn’t hear a knock. She was very peculiar about her privacy and the desire for others to knock before they enter, and for the most part, her parents followed that wish of hers. Her older twin brothers, on the other hand, chose to ignore that rule of hers. In a fit of frustration, Rebekah threw her brush down on the dresser and turned to face one of them. “I’m going to kill you!” she screeched before coming to an abrupt stop as one of her brothers—Nicholas—stepped in front of her, closing the door behind him and sat on her bed, making himself comfortable.

With a fit of frustration rushing all over her, Rebekah angrily approached him. “What are you doing in here?” she snapped, grabbing his shoulders and attempted to yank him off her bed.

“I can see that you’re not dressed,” Nick observed analyzing her up and down. Willingly, he jumped off her bed and parked himself in front of her dresser.

Rebekah took one look at her pink plaid pajama pants and white tank top before looking at Nick again. Her eyes narrowed. “Well, yeah! Obviously, I’m not ready yet!”

“Mom’s going to be mad,” Nick pointed out. “She wants you downstairs, and as usual, you’re running late.”

“Get out!” Rebekah bellowed, pushing him towards her door. “Tell her I’ll be downstairs in about a minute!” She then slammed the door shut behind him and turned back towards her dresser.

Rebekah sighed and began peeling off her bedroom attire. After a minute had passed, she shifted through the many pairs of pants that she owned. The day was November twelfth, a cold Thursday, and Rebekah knew that she would need something semi-warm if she was going to survive the dread of her last day at Marywood Middle School. Ultimately, she decided on a pair of baggy, dark-blue jeans, and she quickly shoved her legs into them. After randomly putting on a red V-neck and a black wool jacket, Rebekah dashed out of her room, shooting down the stairs as fast as she could. Nick was right about one thing: she usually was running late in the mornings.

“Rebekah,” her mother, Katie, greeted as she made her way into the kitchen and sat down in between her two brothers. “Nick told me you’d be down here soon.”

“Yeah, he did,” Rebekah said, shooting Nick a glare as a bowl of oatmeal was placed in front of her. Looking up at her mother, she watched as Katie placed bowls of oatmeal in all five of the spots on the dining table.

“Mark, will you get your father?” Katie asked Nick’s twin. “He should be out back in the garden.”

Mark left the kitchen, and within a few moments, he returned with their father, Paul. Rebekah began to dig into her oatmeal as soon as the others sat down at the table, singeing her tongue a couple of times.

“Now, I want all of you to come straight here as soon as school gets out,” Katie ordered. “We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, and I want you all to do any last-minute packing.”

“Why do we have to move?” Nick complained, making Rebekah roll her eyes. “Mark and I only have a year and a half left until graduation, and it seems cruel that you’d force us to graduate in a foreign city on the other side of the country—”

“Nicholas!” Katie bellowed. “I will not hear any more of your complaints!”

“But you’re forcing us to—”

“Rebekah,” Katie interrupted, waving Nick off, “you mentioned yesterday that you wish to take the bus home today?”

“Yeah, I would love to so that I can formally say goodbye to everyone,” Rebekah said. “Am I allowed to?”

“You may.” Katie flashed her daughter a smile.

Rebekah didn’t return the smile. Instead, she focused on her oatmeal. Usually on school days, her parents would drive her to and from school, since they both held jobs at the middle school. Her mother was a math teacher, and her father was an English teacher—the main reason why the Jensen household was located in a lower middle-class neighborhood.

The rest of breakfast was eaten in silence, and once the dishes were cleared, Rebekah made a beeline upstairs to brush her teeth. Afterwards, she quickly grabbed her white backpack and met her parents by the front door.

“We promise we’ll come straight home after school,” Mark said to his parents as he and Nick exited the house, dangling a set of silver car keys from his hand.

Rebekah, however, followed her parents into their car, taking a seat in the back and throwing her backpack next to her. In hushed tones, Rebekah could hear her parents talking. Probably about the move tomorrow, she suspected as she leaned back into her seat. I almost wish we weren’t moving.

For months, both of her parents were set on moving, claiming that it was for “a change of scenery.” Rebekah didn’t buy that excuse, though, since they were looking at the same place during those months. She figured that it was because of their jobs, even though she thought their jobs in Marywood were pretty stable. Yet, Rebekah’s parents kept insisting that this move would be good for her and her brothers. Rebekah didn’t quite understand how moving would be good for her, especially since the town that they were moving to was one she had never heard of before. It was a suburb of Seattle that was built twenty miles south from the city, and Rebekah had only seen pictures of its old-fashioned, run-down architecture. Her parents mentioned that the suburb was named Roseway and that it was a historical town that had been around since 1830, twenty-one years before Seattle became a city.

The car was soon parked in the school parking lot, jolting Rebekah out of her daydream. “Bye, Mom. Bye, Dad,” she said as she hurried out of the car with her backpack dangling on one shoulder. “I’ll see you when I get home!”

A little too quickly, Rebekah made it to the front entrance of the school, flinging the glass doors open. As she peered inside, she noticed that the hallway was filled with other students hanging out in small circles. Upon entering, Rebekah felt eyes that had belonged to pained expressions fall on her, but as soon as they saw who she was, they relaxed and paid no attention to her. For Rebekah, it was like that every single morning, since she knew that they all were expecting to see someone else. And she knew exactly who they wanted to see—or rather, who they feared seeing.

Jamie Simpson,  the Queen Bee of Marywood Middle School and the leader of a very extensive clique, “Eternal Division.” Occasionally, Rebekah would see them around the school, terrorizing those that they deemed were inferior. Strangely enough, Rebekah never recalled Jamie terrorizing her, especially since she fit the profile of the usual victim of not being rich. All of the four members of Eternal Division were rich, especially Jamie, since her mother was the famous pop singer, Sasha Simpson.

In mere seconds, Rebekah reached her locker and stuffed her backpack into it, pulling out only what she needed for her first class: science. As she was about to close her locker, she felt someone clasp their hands over her eyes. Yet, she knew exactly who the person was.

“Give me everything you got,” a male voice cooed in her ear.

“Jake, stop!” Rebekah giggled as she felt him release his hands from her eyes. Spinning around to face him, she ran her hand through his blonde waves. “I have nothing to give you.”

“That is where you’re wrong,” Jake said softly as he planted a kiss on her lips.

Rebekah felt herself become increasingly giddy as she looked into the green eyes of Jake Stein. He, in turn, stared into her hazel ones, sending chills down her spine.

Rebekah had been with Jake since the beginning of the school year, and she could hardly believe that their time was running out.

“Rebekah, about the whole ‘you-moving-to-Roseway’ thing, I’ll try to maintain a long-distance relationship with you,” Jake said. “I’ll…come visit you.”

“You know that long-distance relationships rarely work,” Rebekah replied.

“I’ll make it work,” he insisted.

Rebekah couldn’t help but smile at his determination.

“I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” a voice questioned from behind Rebekah.

Rebekah spun around only to see that it was one of her best friends, Holly White.

“No,” Rebekah said, making room so that Holly could join the conversation. “Where’s Mandy?”

“I don’t know.” Holly shrugged, tucking a strand of her orange hair behind her ear, revealing her blue eyes and pale complexion. “I just got here.”

Rebekah turned back towards Jake, who was eyeing Holly’s outfit with disgust. Rebekah couldn’t blame him; Holly always wore the same attire: a handmade polka-dot dress and worn-out, black running shoes.

“I can’t believe today’s the last day for you,” Holly commented, her voice monotone.

“Tell me about it,” Rebekah grumbled to herself right when the glass doors to the school opened. She, as well as Jake and Holly, quickly turned their attention to the school’s entrance.

There stood Jamie Simpson, her thick, black hair cascading down her round, tan shoulders. In her hand, she held a plastic bag, though Rebekah had no idea what its contents were. Behind her were the other members of her clique. They were Teri Olson, whose platinum-blonde hair stuck out in a pixie cut on top of her round, porcelain face; Sabrina Adams, her golden-brown hair framing her brown face down to her chin; and Samantha Shea, whose strawberry-blonde hair was tied into a high ponytail and whose skin tone showed evidence of a fake tan.

With confidence, they walked into the hallway, occasionally pausing by groups to hand out the contents that were in the plastic bag. Rebekah caught a brief glance at what Jamie was handing out: envelopes.

“I forgot that it’s her birthday tomorrow,” Jake noted, and Rebekah knew that he was referring to Jamie.

However, Rebekah didn’t respond; she was too fixated on watching Jamie. After handing out envelopes to several people in one group, Jamie turned her head, her brown eyes staring at Rebekah’s group as a mischievous smile played on her lips. Abandoning the other group, Jamie led her clique to Rebekah’s trio—and Rebekah didn’t know how to respond.

“Rebekah! Jake!” Jamie greeted as if she’d been friends with them for years, ignoring Holly. “How are you?”

“We’re okay,” Jake answered for both him and Rebekah.

“Great!” Jamie said enthusiastically. “Rebekah, I hear you’re moving tomorrow.”

How does she know that? Rebekah gulped silently. “Yeah, I am.”

Jamie pulled out two envelopes out of her plastic bag and handed them to Jake and Rebekah. “Well, I’d be honored if you both attended my party tonight.”

“We’ll be there,” Jake said.

“Wait, Jake, I can’t,” Rebekah uttered, dipping her head low. Secretly, attending one of Jamie’s parties was the last thing she wanted to do, and for once, she was glad that she had some sort of excuse to get out of going. “I promised my parents that I would go straight home after school.”

Jamie pursed her lips together. “Do you always do what your parents tell you to do?”

“I have an early flight tomorrow,” Rebekah protested.

“Sneak out,” she egged. “You don’t have to stay for the whole thing.”

Rebekah glanced at Holly for support, who merely turned her head away. It was evident she was at a loss for words, and before she had a chance to think about what she was saying, her next set of words mindlessly tumbled out of her mouth. “I…guess I could do that.”

“Great! See you both there!” Jamie beamed, giving Holly a glare before she left their group.

“What just happened?” Rebekah wondered as she tore the envelope open. Inside was indeed an invitation to Jamie’s thirteenth birthday party at her house at eight. Quickly, she shoved the invitation back into its envelope. “She’s never spoken to me before.”

Jake smiled at her before kissing her lips once again. “I’ll see you later.”

“Alright.” Rebekah  smiled and watched him take off.

 As Jake disappeared down the halls, Rebekah shoved the invitation back into her locker. Then, she closed and locked it, proceeding to make her way to her first class.

“You’re not really going to…go to her party…are you?” Holly asked, following Rebekah. Her voice was low and a bit worried.

“I’m…I’m…thinking about it,” she admitted sheepishly, gulping slightly. She knew that Holly and Jamie were not on the best of terms, since Holly was one of the many people Eternal Division teased regularly. “I don’t know, though. The only reason I’d really go is because Jake is going to be there.”

Holly shot Rebekah an accusing look. “That’s not a good enough excuse. This is Jamie Simpson we’re talking about here!”

Before Rebekah had a chance to respond, the first bell rang, echoing throughout the halls. There was five minutes left to get to class. The two friends then departed their ways and headed to their homerooms.

 

~~~

 

Hours soon passed, and Rebekah had emptied out her entire locker, shoving everything into her already twenty pound backpack. Securing the straps over both her shoulders and slamming her locker shut for the last time, Rebekah started to lug it towards the bus loop.

“I can’t believe Jamie did that,” Amanda Palmer, who preferred to go by ‘Mandy,’ commented as soon as Holly was done explaining the situation with Jamie’s party. “Do not go to that party.”

Rebekah barely paid any attention to Mandy’s advice. She was too busy clouding her mind with thoughts about Jake and her desire to spend as much time with him as possible. Even if it meant going to a party of someone whom she barely knew.

A few moments later, the trio ended up in the bus loop, and Rebekah reluctantly entered the bus for the first time in her life. With her eyes zoning in on Jake, she made a beeline for the back, and Holly and Mandy reluctantly followed her, despite their protests.

“Hey,” Rebekah greeted as she took a seat next to him. Holly and Mandy, on the other hand, favored the seat that was directly across the aisle from Rebekah.

Jake offered her the same greeting as he put his arm around her. She leaned into him. “How was your last day?”

Rebekah attempted to shrug. “Kind of boring,” she admitted, “but sad. I still had to do the schoolwork.”

Jake chuckled a little at that statement. “Of course you would complain about doing schoolwork on your last day.”

“I don’t want to go, though. I would be leaving everything behind me.” Rebekah shook her head. “I can’t even imagine myself living in any other place but Marywood.”  She sighed and glanced at the ground.  A growing feeling of nausea was rushing up her body.

“Shhh,” Jake whispered softly to her. “You’ll be okay.”

I hope so, Rebekah thought as she cranked her head to look at Holly and Mandy. Instantly, she noticed that they were looking at the back cover of a book. Rebekah raised an eyebrow. “What’s that you got there?”

Holly snapped her head at Rebekah, startled. “Oh, umm…” she stumbled, glancing at Mandy.

Bleeding Misery,” Mandy finished. “You know, the book I was working on for about a year now.”

“You finally published it?”

Mandy nodded. “I self-published it yesterday.” She paused briefly, gazing at her novel and then handing it to Rebekah. “Here, take it.”

Rebekah took the novel from Mandy’s hands. “Are you sure?”

“You’re going to need something to read on the plane, right?” Mandy said, smiling a little. “Besides, I don’t know if we’ll ever see each other again.”

“Well, thanks.” Rebekah grinned as she tried to stuff the book into her overloaded backpack. Then, she leaned into Jake even more and closed her eyes, allowing the bus to rock her back and forth, back and forth…

She stayed in that position for nearly twenty minutes until the bus came to an abrupt stop. The doors soon opened, and  six people stood up, including Teri and Sabrina.

“This is my stop,” Jake whispered to Rebekah.

Rebekah looked up at him and nodded. Within seconds, the two hugged for the final time, and all Rebekah could feel was emptiness in her stomach. Beady tears cascaded down her cheeks. She didn’t want to let go. She didn’t want to lose him just to move to the other side of the country. As she hugged him tighter, she began to sob even harder.

Jake patted her back and squeezed her tighter. He then untangled his arms around her and reluctantly, Rebekah let him out of the seat and into the aisle. As she watched him exit the bus, her heart sank. She bit her lip and leaned her back against her seat, letting the tears continue to fall.

Before the bus started moving again, Jamie and Sam made their way to the back. Rebekah wiped the tears with the back of her hand and eyed them with curiosity, knowing that their intention was to convince her to go to Jamie’s party. Yet, she was shocked when Jamie and Sam decided to sit down—not in the empty seat next to her, but on her two best friends.

“Hey, Rebekah!” Jamie waved cheerfully, pretending that everything was normal. “What’s up?”

Rebekah knew that she shouldn’t be surprised by Jamie’s choice of seating. Yet, she couldn’t help but feel a little shocked and irritated. “You’re on…Holly and…Mandy,” she forced herself to say.

“What?” Jamie blinked as if she didn’t understand Rebekah’s statement. Turning her head slightly to her right, her brown eyes came into contact with Mandy’s green ones. “I’m so sorry.” She ushered the fake apology while unscrewing the cap of her water bottle. “I don’t know what got into me—ahhh!”

Rebekah watched in silence as Jamie’s water bottle tilted slightly, letting the water flow out of it and into Mandy’s lap. Instantly, Sam whipped out her phone and started recording the entire thing.

“I’m really sorry,” Jamie said with fake sincerity, unable to hide her wicked smile.

But Mandy kept her expression as blank as possible. Staring directly at the camera, she said in the most monotone voice that she could muster, “Cute and original.” Then, she flipped her stomach-length blonde hair over her shoulder, letting the soaked tips air-dry.

 Jamie and Sam rolled their eyes and then slid into the seat next to Rebekah.

“Are you still planning on attending my party?” Jamie asked as if nothing happened.

“Umm…sure?” Rebekah replied in a small voice mainly to appease Jamie. The truth was, however, she was still undecided, especially after what she had witnessed.

Out of the corner of her eye, Rebekah then noticed a black shadow. Cocking her head to the side, she saw nothing, and a wave of panic washed over her.

“Rebekah, are you listening to me?” Jamie demanded.

Rebekah didn’t respond to Jamie, for the same shadow—or rather, a strange figure that was draped in black who held what appeared to be a knife—entered her vision. Rebekah’s eyes widened, and she began to feel a bit loose as the bus stopped at the second stop—her stop. Before she could even come to her senses, the figure disappeared once again.

Knowing this was her stop, Jamie and Sam let Rebekah slide out of the seat. As she got out with the support from the two seats in front of her, she slowly made her way down the aisle. She could feel her legs wobble with each step she took. Her vision quickly faltered, and her head began banging over and over.

“Rebekah!” she heard Holly cry out from behind her.

Rebekah whipped her head in Holly’s direction, only to notice the same figure, standing just mere inches from her. Her eyes soon rolled into the back of her head, and her knees collapsed inward. Then, she felt herself falling down the stairs…

…and she heard the many gasps from the other students before she blacked out completely.

Chapter Two

There was no light.

She felt numb and heavy.

Shrouded in black, she was alone in her mind, sobbing quietly. She couldn’t move; she couldn’t see. She was unable to form words, and the noises of the outside world seemed distant. She was unable to comprehend them. Trapped in her own mind, the darkness slowly faded, and soon, she found herself in a place she thought she would never get to see: the verdant forest of the town that she would be moving to.

She quickly found herself in a small clearing that was surrounded by trees. Rain pelted her from above, and she glanced at the cloudy sky. Rarely did Marywood get any rain, and Rebekah extended her arms outward so that the raindrops landed on them. Yet, she felt nothing.

Her name was whispered through the trees, and Rebekah cocked her head to the side, seeing nothing at first. Then, she noticed movement within the woods—movement that belonged to a black, shadowy figure. The thing from the bus? Rebekah questioned as she moved towards it.

The figure moved closer to the clearing, extending its hand towards her. Rebekah searched for the knife that it had held previously, but she saw nothing. Then, the figure finally emerged from the dark recesses of the woods, revealing a face that was all too familiar.

Jake Stein.

Rebekah squinted at him, confused. What is he doing in Roseway? she wondered. How did end up here?

“I was getting worried about you,” Jake said, his voice devoid of all emotion.

Looking at him strangely, Rebekah stammered, “But…why…?”

In heavy strides, Jake moved towards her, wrapping his arms around her. “I thought they had taken you already,” he said into her hair.

“What do you mean?” Rebekah asked, breaking out of his grasp.

“I thought they—” Jake started to say but suddenly stopped as he stared at something behind Rebekah, his mouth hanging open.

Rebekah glanced behind her into the eyes of the shadowy figure from the bus. Letting out a scream, she ran behind Jake, clutching his arm tightly. “Jake, we need to go!” she screamed at him.

But Jake refused to move. Instead, he pushed her farther behind him. “You will not claim her,” he spoke calmly to the shadowy figure. “She has not left for Roseway yet.”

She has not left for Roseway yet? Rebekah repeated as her heart pounded inside her chest. Am I not in Roseway?

The shadowy figure said nothing to Jake. In response, it raised its knife—the same one Rebekah had seen on the bus—and twisted it into Jake’s stomach.

Blood started gushing from the wound, and Rebekah watched in horror as Jake collapsed onto the ground, his eyes rolling back into his head. Then, the figure started to advance towards her, yanking the knife out of Jake’s stomach, which was now coated with blood.

Rebekah did not hesitate to start running. Leaving the clearing, she disappeared deep inside the forest with the hope of hiding from the shadowy figure. It killed Jake, she thought, and the realization about the severity of the situation suddenly hit her. What is that thing?

Racing through the forest, Rebekah started to pant, willing herself to keep going. Pain shot up her right leg as she twisted her ankle, tripping on one of the roots of a nearby tree. She stumbled forward, landing on her arm—and she cried out in agony. Noticing the figure in the distance, Rebekah willed herself to get up and continue running, but her two limbs wouldn’t cooperate. She watched as the figure loomed over her, adjusting the knife so that it hovered perpendicularly over her chest.

“Rebekah!” a muffled female voice screamed, reverberating throughout the forest. “Can you hear me?!”

Rebekah watched as the world around her started to crumble and fade away into black—and the figure was the first to disappear. Screaming, she felt herself falling further into the darkness, landing suddenly on what appeared to be a couch. The darkness soon faded away, and she found herself in a trailer.

 

“Rebekah, are you alright?” the same female voice questioned, now crisp and clear.

Rebekah attempted to move her head to the left, seeing Holly’s worried expression. “Where am I?” she questioned.

Holly didn’t answer her right away. “You…were screaming. And your body was convulsing. I…didn’t know what to do.” She let out a sob. “What the hell happened?”

Rebekah weakly shrugged. “I saw a shadowy figure on the bus, and then, I…blacked out…” she admitted.

“You saw that, too?” Holly questioned.

Rebekah nodded slowly but was shocked to hear those words come out of Holly’s mouth. “Wait you did? I wasn’t sure that people saw it… I mean, they didn’t act like it at first.”

“Trust me, they did,” Holly said. “You would have had to be blind not to see it.”

“What happened…afterwards?”

“You fell out of the bus and rolled down the ditch by our bus stop,” Holly explained. “You’ve been out since then.”

“Wait,” Rebekah paused, “what day is it?”

“Saturday,” Holly replied. “Rebekah, I know you were supposed to leave for Roseway yesterday, but you couldn’t. Your parents left already with your brothers, for someone was expecting them, and they needed to settle into the house they bought because the one down here has already been sold. They told me to look after you until you are ready to be sent up there.”

Rebekah’s eyes widened. “I also missed Jamie’s party,” she remarked.

“Rebekah, there are more important matters than missing a birthday party,” Holly commented. “What were you dreaming about that made you thrash so violently?”

“I was in Roseway,” Rebekah started to explain. “In a clearing. Then, Jake showed up, and…is he alright?”

“Why wouldn’t he be?”

“Because,” Rebekah paused, feeling tears brew in her eyes, “the shadowy figure from the bus was there, and it killed him! Then, it started coming after me!”

Holly didn’t say anything for a moment. “Don’t go to Roseway,” she warned. “Please.”

Rebekah raised an eyebrow. “Holly, what—”

A sudden knock pounded on the door, interrupting her thoughts.

Holly turned away from Rebekah and opened the door. “Jamie?” she said in surprise.

“Surprised much?” Jamie said, entering Holly’s home as if she owned the place. “You know, I always suspected that you were trailer trash, with those silly dresses you wear all the time.”

“How did you find out where I live?” Holly inquired, her complexion paling tremendously.

“It wasn’t that hard to figure out.” Jamie smirked. “But a mobile home? Seriously?”

Holly sighed. “Jamie, if you just came here to mock me—”

Jamie held up a hand to silence her. “I came for Rebekah, not you! I was told she’d be here.”

“What do you want, Jamie?” Rebekah wondered, struggling to get off the old couch. Standing up, she watched as Jamie’s face went white.

“I thought you broke a couple of limbs when you landed in that ditch,” Jamie commented. “I mean, it looked like you did when you landed on them weirdly.”

“She didn’t break anything, Jamie,” Holly corrected before Rebekah could say anything. “She only bruised them slightly.”

“How…strange.” Jamie took a step towards Rebekah. “Anyway, I’ve decided to host a sleepover at my house with the others, and I was wondering if you’d like to come?”

“Absolutely not!” Holly was mortified. “She needs to stay here and rest!”

“It’s not your call!” Jamie snapped at Holly. “Besides, she looks fine, and I’m sure that she would rather bathe in the comfort of my mansion than your little, shabby mobile home. Do you want to, Rebekah?”

Rebekah didn’t answer right away. To say she was conflicted was an understatement. On the one hand, she deemed she had to go, since she had already missed the party due to the accident. On the other hand, she was not the biggest fan of Jamie due to what her clique had done to people in the past. At last, she finally came to a decision; however, the words that decided to tumble out of her mouth shocked even herself. “Holly, let me do this. I already missed her party.”

Not surprisingly, she wasn’t the only one who was shocked that those words decided to tumble out of her mouth. Holly was as well, judging by the widened eyes as she sighed in frustration. “Fine.”

Jamie smiled before leading Rebekah outside. The first thing Rebekah noticed was a huge hummer limo in front of Holly’s trailer, and she looked at Jamie in surprise.

“The others decided to come with me,” Jamie explained. “We’re going to the mall first, and then, we’ll go back to my place.”

Rebekah had never ridden in a limo before, and when she entered the vehicle, she didn’t know what to expect. Jamie directed Rebekah to a seat next to her, and soon, the limo jerked forward before speeding down the road.

“I thought a couple of her limbs were broken,” Rebekah heard Sam comment.

“Apparently, they were just bruised,” said Jamie. “And besides, even if they were broken, I’d figure out a way to make her come with us.”

Sam leaned forward in her seat. “How are you, Rebekah?” she asked. “You know, after the incident on Thursday?”

Rebekah shrugged. “I’ve been better.”

“What exactly happened?” Sam asked. “It looked like you wiped out somehow.”

“It was the shadowy figure. I’m sure of it,” Rebekah said, but the confused looks that Eternal Division exchanged gave her the idea that they did not know what she was talking about.

“What shadowy figure?” Jamie questioned. “I didn’t see any.”

“The one that—never mind. I must have imagined it.” Rebekah surrendered in an attempt to save herself. Why did Holly lie and say that everyone saw it?

“On a lighter note,” Jamie began in an attempt to change the subject, “I hope you all—with the exception of Rebekah—brought money.”

The others nodded.

“Rebekah,” Jamie said softly, “I’ll pay for you.”

Rebekah stared at Jamie as if she had spoken a foreign language. How could such a bitch be pleasant at times? she found herself questioning. Yet, the very concept of skepticism or the idea of there being an ulterior motive to Jamie’s words never once crossed her mind. Rebekah had always been a rather trusting and easily-influenced person to the point where Holly had said in the past it was ridiculous at times, but she couldn’t help it. In a way, she wanted to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, not just certain individuals.

Teri looked flabbergasted by what Jamie had said. “Why did you offer to pay for her? You never gave any of us that offer!”

In response, Jamie shot Teri a cold glare. “You are privileged enough to have money. That’s why.”

Ouch, Rebekah thought, feeling the sting of Jamie’s comment. Any previous thought she had of Jamie being a decent person faded away as Jamie subtly declared that her family was poor, even though they weren’t.

Teri then smiled the most phony smile Rebekah ever saw. “So, what you’re doing is charity?”

“More like I’m helping those out who are less fortunate than I,” Jamie declared.

“That’s what charity is,” Sabrina pointed out.

In no way would Rebekah have ever considered herself to be unfortunate, and in that very moment, she started to get extremely uncomfortable.

“Would you mind not paying for me?” she questioned, feeling quite uncomfortable.

Cutting her conversation with the others short, Jamie shockingly faced her. “Wait a second, you actually have money on you?”

“Uh, no? But if I hadn’t been out for about a day, and if I knew about these plans beforehand, I would have brought some,” Rebekah said in an attempt to explain to Eternal Division that she was not as poor as they thought.

“Nonetheless, you have no money,” Jamie said, seeming to have ignored the second part of Rebekah’s declaration. “I’d be honored to buy you some,” she paused, scrutinizing Rebekah’s outfit, “Jamie-approved attire.”

Can’t wait, Rebekah grumbled in her mind, not amused by Jamie’s discreet—and politely worded—insults. That was also when she realized she made the wrong decision to hang out with someone like Jamie, but she couldn’t do anything about it.

The limo soon pulled into the parking lot of the biggest mall in Marywood—one that Rebekah had never been to because of the fact that it was built within the wealthy part of the city. Plus, the styles and brands were priced too high for her parents’ low wages.  As soon as the limo stopped in front of the entrance to the mall, Jamie signaled for everyone to get out.

“We’ll be picked up in a couple of hours,” Jamie said as the limo drove away. Turning towards the mall, she began walking towards the entrance with her clique following her.

Upon entering the heavy glass doors, Rebekah didn’t know what to expect. She knew that it would be a lot different than the outdoor mall she always went to by her house, but she could only imagine how different it was going to be. For one thing, the entire mall was indoors, its corridors stretching farther than the human eye could see. The second thing Rebekah noticed was that the walls that separated the mall from the outside, not including store walls, were made of shimmering glass. The ceiling, which was built in a dome shape, had several unlit chandeliers hanging from it, and the floor was built with pearl-white tile.

“I know the perfect store to hit up first,” Jamie said, motioning for her clique to follow.

 

~~~

 

Right from the beginning, Rebekah realized that her definition of perfect and Jamie’s definition of perfect were two completely different concepts. What Jamie thought was a perfect store turned out to be an over-decorated and overpriced designer store that Rebekah would normally try to avoid at all costs. To make matters even more uncomfortable, the clique split up in the store, and Rebekah got stuck with Jamie.

“Rebekah, you need to choose  something,” Jamie said with frustration in her voice. “Or else I’ll end up choosing for you.”

Rebekah shrugged off Jamie’s comment. For the past half-hour, Jamie presented Rebekah with many different outfits, and Rebekah had turned down every single one.

“I told you already,” she protested. “I’m not big on designer wear.”

“When will you ever get an opportunity like this again, though?” Jamie started shifting through the many pairs of skinny jeans. “Fine, let’s play a game of Mystery Box.”

“And that is?”

“What’s your pants size?” Jamie questioned, examining Rebekah head to toe.

“I told you this already that I don’t need—”

“You look like a size four,” Jamie analyzed.

How does she know? Rebekah thought.

 “Mystery Box is simply where I pick out your new clothing, and you won’t know what I’ve picked out until they’ve been paid for already.”

“Okay,” Rebekah agreed, feeling defeated. After Jamie told her that she would need to leave the store, Rebekah did just that, taking a seat on one of the benches right outside. Surprisingly, her wait was incredibly short.

“I need you to change,” Jamie ordered, thrusting the bag of clothing into Rebekah’s hands. “Teri, Sabrina, and Sam are still browsing, so you have time.”

Rebekah was about to protest but decided against it. Taking the bag of clothes with her into a nearby bathroom, she went into a stall and began to peel off her “poor” attire. Then, she shifted through the bag and dressed herself in the first outfit she saw: black skinny jeans paired with a pink low-cut tank top. Feeling ridiculous, she stuffed her former outfit into the bag, emerged from the stall, and headed out of the bathroom without even bothering to look at herself in the mirror. Worst idea I’ve ever made.

Yet, when she went to meet with the clique, she noticed they were all outside with multiple shopping bags in each hand. Their mouths hung open—all except for Jamie, who had a satisfied grin on her face.

“I’ve got great fashion taste,” Jamie complimented herself. “You should have me buy your clothes more often.”

Rebekah barely paid any attention to them. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of a figure that was draped in black, but when she turned her head in its direction, the figure was gone. Although, there wasn’t a doubt in her mind that that figure was the same one from the bus and her dream.

All it left behind was writing written in jagged lettering, on one of the store walls. Rebekah squinted, trying to read it:

 

Tibi maledictionem eius descendet.

 

Latin, Rebekah quickly realized. But why?

“What are you looking at?” Jamie asked Rebekah, following her gaze.

“There’s writing on the…” Rebekah let her words trail off.

“There’s no writing,” Jamie noted, turning back towards Rebekah. “Honestly, there’s something…strange about you today. Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

“Yeah,” Rebekah said a little too quickly. “Let’s just…go.”

Shrugging, Jamie took the lead once again.

For the last time, Rebekah glanced at the wall where the writing was, but it was gone. Where did it go? she wondered, sure that she was going insane.

 

~~~

 

By the time the couple of hours were up, Rebekah was relieved that she would finally be leaving the mall. In every store they visited, Jamie dragged her into certain sections—and soon, Rebekah had more belongings than she could fit in her closet.

“Think of these gifts as going-away presents,” Jamie told her as they exited the last store. “By the way, when are you leaving?”

Rebekah shrugged. Remind me to ask Holly later.

As the clique approached the entrance to the mall, Rebekah’s eyes came across a group of guys who chose to loiter near a hat store. Paying no attention to them, she quickened her pace.

“How come I’ve never seen them before?” she heard Jamie question, who noticed the group of guys as well.

“You should go up to them,” Teri suggested as the clique stopped to stare at them.

Rebekah could care less about them, but she stopped herself anyway. Why can’t we just leave?

“Do you dare me to go up to them and kiss one of them?” Jamie replied. “I see the prize right there.”

Rebekah followed Jamie’s gaze to the boy she was referring to who looked to be about fifteen with dark brown hair and Indian-tan skin.

“Go for it,” Teri said as a cue. “Let’s see how they react.”

Smiling, Jamie walked up to them, and at first, Rebekah saw them talking. Then, Jamie wrapped her arms around her target and pressed her lips upon his—and Rebekah suspected that he would immediately push her away.

But he didn’t. He did the exact opposite.

Jamie pulled away from him and slipped a piece of paper into his hand before walking back to her clique.

“Easy,” Jamie gloated. “Gave him my number as well.”

“How do you do it?” Teri questioned.

Jamie shrugged. “If you do it correctly, every guy that you do it to will want you.”

I highly doubt that, Rebekah wanted to say but decided against it, for all she wanted to do was leave the mall.

As expected, the limo was already outside, waiting for them. Once Jamie secured all the bags into the back, the clique took their seats, and the limo drove off.

Chapter Three

Not surprisingly, the ride to Jamie’s house was a short one. For most of it, Rebekah silently stared out the window as the conversations of the others faded into the background. Her mind was still wrapped around the shadowy figure and the Latin message it had left behind, which she could not translate into English, for she didn’t know a wick of Latin. Evidently, Jamie and her followers only added to Rebekah’s discomfort, and then, she thought about Holly and what Holly would make of all this. Obviously, Holly would be peeved at Rebekah for choosing to hang out with Jamie in the first place, but as soon as the Latin message was brought up, there was a good chance Holly’s focus would be purely on that.

“Rebekah, are you okay?” Jamie questioned suddenly, snapping Rebekah out of her thoughts.

Hesitantly, Rebekah glanced at Jamie. “Yeah, why?”

“You just seemed rather…quiet.” Jamie seemed unconvinced with Rebekah’s answer. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I said I’m fine!” At one point, Rebekah deemed she couldn’t get any more aggravated than she was at the mall; however, that proved to be false when Jamie kept pestering her for what Rebekah called a Jamie-approved answer.

Although after Rebekah said those last few words, Jamie didn’t pursue the question. “We’re almost to my house, by the way,” she instead said.

“Okay.” And just like that, Rebekah proceeded to stare out the window for the rest of the ride.

Within moments, the mansion came into view, and Rebekah was in shock at the size of it. At first glance, she presumed that it was some sort of hotel until Jamie said to her, “Welcome to my house.”

The limo was parked just outside the house, and Rebekah scooted out of her seat right behind Sabrina.

“Leave your bags in the limo,” Jamie instructed. “We’ll retrieve them when you all go home tomorrow.”

Rebekah barely heard Jamie as she stepped into what she presumed was the foyer. Already, there were marble stairs leading to the upper level of the mansion. More rooms branched off from the foyer, and Rebekah couldn’t help but gawk at every single detail.

“My father’s not home right now,” Jamie explained. “My mother’s out touring Europe. Let’s go upstairs.”

As she approached the stairs, a wave of nausea washed over Rebekah, and she stumbled a little. Catching herself from falling, she started walking up the stairs as she followed Jamie, who led them down one of the upstairs hallways—the one on the right.

“This is the bedroom hallway,” Jamie said to Rebekah. “Every bedroom in the house can be found in here. I’ll show you to your room, and then, we’ll hang out in mine.”

Room? Rebekah questioned in her mind.

As if she read Rebekah’s mind, Teri strolled over to her and said, “At Jamie’s sleepovers, we each get our own bedroom. Today, you will be assigned one that will be yours permanently if you choose to come here again.”

“And here we are.” Jamie pushed the door open that led to Rebekah’s assignment. “What do you think?”

Rebekah took one look around the room, seeing nothing but white. The walls, ceiling, floor—everything was coated in white. Jutting out from one of the walls was a queen-sized bed, and next to it was a nightstand with a lamp placed on top. On another wall, a desk was placed, and on the opposite wall, a dresser. There was only one window in the entire room. “Wow,” she breathed.

“I’m glad you like it.” Jamie folded her arms for a moment and then pointed in another direction. “Let’s go to my room.”

“How many guest bedrooms do you have?” Rebekah questioned as she followed Jamie into her bedroom across the hall.

“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “Periodically, my parents will hire someone to extend this house, and with that extension, another bedroom is added to this hallway.”

Unlike Rebekah’s bedroom, Jamie’s was decorated entirely in pink. The clique filed in behind Jamie, and she closed the door.

“You know, you can stay here, if you want,” Jamie said to Rebekah. “My mansion is much more comfortable than Holly’s mobile home.”

“Umm…thanks,” Rebekah said, “but I don’t know.”

Jamie flashed Rebekah what she presumed was a sincere smile.

Before another word was spoken, Jamie’s door was jolted open, and Rebekah strained to see who it was.

“Steph,” Jamie said in surprise, “haven’t you ever heard of knocking?”

Just like my brothers, Rebekah thought.

“Dad called,” the person Rebekah presumed was Jamie’s sister said. “He’s going to be late today.”

“Of course.” Jamie pondered that comment. “Oh, Rebekah! This is my sister, Stephanie.”

“I kind of figured,” Rebekah answered, looking at Stephanie. She remembered her two brothers talk about her excessively, for she was in the same grade as them.

“You’re the sister of Nick and Mark, aren’t you?” Stephanie asked for clarification.

“Yeah,” Rebekah responded. “They’ve mentioned you quite a lot.”

“They’ve mentioned you as well in their attempt to show me that they also have a little sister attending the middle school.” Stephanie paused briefly. “They irritate me.”

“They’re always flirting with her,” Jamie explained. “I don’t believe Rebekah would do that to you, Steph.”

“I didn’t think she would,” said Stephanie. “I’m just glad Nick and Mark are gone. Why aren’t you with them?”

“I got wounded, and now, I’m stuck here until I am deemed healthy enough to travel,” Rebekah said, not wanting to go into too much detail.

“Really? You don’t look wounded.”

“She is,” Jamie said. “Believe me when I say that I saw the entire thing.”

“Uh….well, anyway,” Stephanie began rolling her eyes, “Dad said we could order whatever we want for dinner. We could do pizza.”

“I’m thinking Chinese,” Jamie said, glancing at the members of her clique. “Would you all be okay with that?”

A chorus of yesses chimed in the room.

All Rebekah did was shrug. She didn’t really care.

“They’ve spoken,” said Jamie to Stephanie. “Make it so.”

“Okay?” Stephanie turned to leave. “Do you want to come and help me order it?”

“Fine.” Jamie turned to the rest of the group. “You guys can stay here and do whatever.”

 

~~~

 

Hours into the evening, Rebekah ate with Eternal Division and Stephanie, and then, they watched several movies before going to bed. Periodically, Rebekah had caught glimpses of Jamie’s white ragdoll, Missy, but the cat spent most of her time under Jamie’s bed that those times were few.

Feeling fatigue wash over her after she had returned to her bedroom, Rebekah fell asleep immediately after her head hit the pillow of her temporary bedroom. For a few hours, she stayed like that.

It was currently two in the morning, and a storm was brewing outside, rattling the house.

Rebekah’s eyes flew open as thunder sounded and lightning flashed by. She instantly placed a pillow over her ear as she laid on one of her sides so that the noise was blocked. And that was when she saw her.

A grey, floating girl who made Rebekah feel like she was looking into a mirror. The girl’s features were devoid of color, and she wore what appeared to be a grey, oversized dress. Rebekah couldn’t help but stare at the girl and the knife she carried—the same knife that Rebekah had seen twice before. Is this the shadowy figure that I have been seeing all along?

Rebekah turned her head to turn on the lamp, but when she looked back, the girl was gone.

Drowsily, Rebekah got out of bed and went to her door, opening it slightly and stepping out into the hallway. Careful not to wake anyone, she sneaked to the stairs and peeked down them.

Nothing was there.

Frightened, Rebekah turned and walked down what she presumed was the right hallway. She reached out to open the door to her bedroom, and when she did, she jumped back when she realized the door led to a small study. Where am I?

In the center of the room was the same girl; her face was plain.

“Who are you?” Rebekah whispered. “What do you want with me?” By that time, she was sure that she had gone insane. She was sure that she was talking to a product of her imagination—that the girl wasn’t really there, just like the shadowy figure.

The girl said nothing to her.

“A-are you dead?” Rebekah tried again. “You can trust me.” What the hell is wrong with me?

The girl approached Rebekah, still saying nothing. She reached out towards Rebekah, and Rebekah attempted to grasp the girl’s hand, her fingers falling right through.

The girl then vanished—and Rebekah started to feel something pierce the back of her right hand. With pain shooting up her arm, she watched in horror as words were being carved into her skin, words that she presumed were being carved by the knife. She bit her lip, willing herself not to scream, reading the message:

 

I am coming for you.

 

Gasping, Rebekah ran her other hand over the message, feeling the warm, sticky blood beneath her fingertips. Then, a wave of nausea fled her body. Her vision became wary, and before she knew it, she collapsed onto the ground of the study.

 

~~~

 

It was not until Rebekah woke up the next morning when she decided it was best for her to leave.  I need to see Holly, she thought, glancing around the room. I can’t stay here.

Grabbing the leg of a desk right next to her, she slowly propped herself up from the ground. Doing so, a sharp pain shot up her arm, and Rebekah yelped. She glanced down at her arm and saw the mark that was carved on her from last night. Biting the bottom of her lip and trying her best not to cause any noise, she did her best to wipe the dried blood with the hem of her shirt, but the more she did it, the more the pain grew.

Trying her best to cover her arm, Rebekah speedily headed out of the study room, making her way down the hallway, and back into her temporary bedroom. Opening several drawers, she finally found a paper and pen and pulled it out.  Quickly, she wrote:

 

Jamie, I left your house this morning. Needed to see Holly about a couple of things. I’m sorry for not staying.

 

-Rebekah

 

She gently placed the note on the nightstand and exited out of the house.

The sun barely peeked over the horizon, and Rebekah guessed that it was probably seven in the morning. Sprinting towards the limo, she opened the back—which was surprisingly unlocked—and grabbed her belongings before heading away from the mansion. She climbed over the heavy gate and quickly left the wealthy part of Marywood by foot.  The trailer park was thirty minutes away, but Rebekah figured if she paced herself, she could get there in twenty minutes tops.

By the time she reached her destination, Rebekah was out of breath. She rested her hands on her knees and took in heavy breaths before spitting out chunks of saliva that was building on her throat. Racing to Holly’s house, she knocked on the metal door.

Right away, the door unlocked, and Holly appeared before her. “Rebekah?” she questioned. “What are you doing here? I thought that you were at Jamie’s.”

“Oh, umm…I didn’t expect you to be up this early,” Rebekah began. “But I…uh…left.” She stepped into the mobile home and dropped her bags on the ground.

“What did Jamie do?” Holly asked accusingly.

“She didn’t do anything. She’s not the reason why I left.”

Holly gazed at Rebekah, confused. “What happened?”

“Holly,” Rebekah sighed, “I know you lied to me about everyone on the bus being able to see the shadowy figure. The topic was brought up in the limo, and Jamie had no idea what I was talking about.”

“You…talked about it?” Holly questioned. “Why would you—”

“So, let me ask you this,” Rebekah interrupted. “Was everyone able to see the shadowy figure, or was it just you and me? Were you truly able to see it, or was it just a product of my imagination?”

“I did see it. Both of our minds are more open to that kind of stuff than Jamie’s apparently,” Holly paused, “but you can’t go around telling people about what you saw! People will start thinking you’re crazy!”

“What if I am?” Rebekah questioned. “What if you’re only saying that you saw it to appease me, and what if it all is in my head?” Tears started brewing in her eyes.

“Trust me, it’s not,” said Holly. “What makes you say that?”

Rebekah glanced at the carved message in her flesh. “I think I saw a spirit early this morning, but I don’t know,” she admitted. “Spirits don’t exist. I could have been imagining everything.”

“What’s that on your hand?”

Without hesitation, Rebekah held out the message for Holly to examine. “It was dark, and I…don’t remember how I obtained this. I mean, I could have carved this myself, but—”

“You did not do this yourself,” Holly pointed out, her face turning white. Immediately, she rushed into the kitchen area of the mobile home and pulled out a small first-aid kit. Then, she proceeded to bandage Rebekah’s hand. “For now, you are not allowed to leave this home without me.”

“What?” Rebekah questioned, raising an eyebrow. “Holly, you can’t do that to me. I still have to go to Roseway, y’know.”

“You’re not going. You’re staying right here.”

“And where would I go? Who would I stay with?” Rebekah inquired. “Holly, my family is there. I can’t just not go there!”

“I can offer you a home. It’s not much, but I can offer you a home.” Holly paused. “And you will never see that…thing again.”

“You’re being ridiculous,” said Rebekah. “I need to leave. Please tell me when I’m due to leave!”

At this time, Rebekah saw tears slide down Holly’s face as she went into the kitchen as if to retrieve something. A few seconds later, she came back with a piece of paper in her hand. “I don’t want you to go…” she said, slamming the tickets on the table next to the couch. “But your flight is on the twenty-sixth of December, and it looks like you will have a three-hour layaway in Phoenix, Arizona.”

“The twenty-sixth? In December?!” Rebekah nearly shrieked. “Why is it over a month away?”

“I’m not the one who bought the tickets!” Holly argued. “Everyone was sure you broke something that they figured this would be enough time for your limbs to heal!”

Rebekah rammed her fingers through her hair. “Isn’t there any way to move the flight to a sooner one?”

“No,” Holly said a little too quickly. “You’ll just have to stay here for a month.”

“And do what?”

Holly shrugged. “I’m sure we can find something to do around here. There’s also the possibility of playing with the neighborhood kids, but they’re not the kind of people you want to get involved with.”

Gawking, Rebekah snatched her tickets off the table. “Did my parents leave you with my suitcases?”

“They’re in the kitchen.” She pointed.

Rebekah went over to the kitchen and inserted the tickets into her suitcase’s smallest pockets. “What else is there to do around here?”

“That’s about it,” said Holly. “I mean, I still have to go to school, so you might be on your own for a good portion of the day.”

Of course, Rebekah thought. And I’m not allowed to leave this place.

“Look,” Holly started, clasping a hand on Rebekah’s shoulder, “I’m only looking out for you. Whatever you have been seeing, I can see as well. You’re not alone.”

Chapter Four

Six weeks had passed—the slowest weeks of Rebekah’s life. Within those weeks, she did absolutely nothing, for not only was Holly keeping an eye on her, but both of Holly’s parents were as well. She couldn’t attend school, for she had been officially taken out of the institution the day after her accident, and overall, she felt as if she was under some sort of house arrest if it wasn’t for the fact that her house wasn’t the one she was confined to.

Rebekah curled herself on the couch, mindlessly staring at her blank phone screen, deep in thought. For the past six weeks, she had been left to ponder Holly’s words and actions, especially the part where Holly told her not to go to Roseway. In the time that they had been friends, she never saw Holly act as paranoid as she did whenever the topic of Roseway was brought up, not even when Holly would oftentimes talk about the torment Eternal Division would subject her to. Nevertheless, in Rebekah’s mind, Roseway was just a town, much like Marywood was, and therefore, she found it hard to understand what about Roseway would create such paranoia within Holly.

For once, Holly was also in the trailer with Rebekah; however, both of her parents remained absent. In fact, Holly was in the kitchen with her hands folded on top of one of her counters, seeming to be staring off into space. Neither of them spoke to each other at first as they each were lost in their own thoughts. After a while, however, Holly decided to approach Rebekah and kneel on the ground. “You know, you don’t have to go,” she whispered. “You can miss your flight.”

“Holly,” Rebekah began. “I have been stuck in your house for a month and a half. Not doing anything. Always staying inside and tucked away from the fresh air. If this is how it is going to be and under constant surveillance, I would much rather leave.”

“I’m just—”

“I need socialization other than you and your family,” Rebekah cut in before realizing how awful that sounded. “I mean, you wouldn’t even let Mandy see me.”

“I told her that it would be better if she didn’t get involved.”

“Of course you did,” Rebekah paused, “because unfortunately, her mind isn’t susceptible to seeing what we have been seeing!” By this point, Rebekah knew that she was yelling, but she didn’t care. With all of the anger that had been brewing inside of her for the last six weeks, she needed a way to release it.

Taken aback by Rebekah’s sudden tone of voice, Holly stood up abruptly. “Merry Christmas,” she said as coldly as she could muster. “You won’t ever have to worry about me looking out for you again.”

“Holly—”

“Today is the last day we have, and I am willing to take you somewhere, where it’s just you, me, Mandy, and possibly Jake.” She sighed. “Today, you will make your final decision, but just so you know, if you do choose to go to Roseway, you will never hear from me again.”

“Holly, you’re being ridiculous.”

“Am I?” Holly questioned. “Am I being ridiculous, considering what has been stalking you?”

“That…thing has been stalking me?”

“Rebekah, you’ve been seeing that thing everywhere,” said Holly. “I’m sure it is.”

“What do you even have against Roseway, anyway?” Rebekah wondered. “It’s a perfectly respectable suburb.”

“Roseway is far from respectable,” Holly grumbled, clearly agitated. “It’s full of dark magic.”

It took all Rebekah had to not burst into laughter. “Then, I will embrace whatever Roseway throws at me.”

“We’re leaving,” Holly declared with hurt evident in her voice.

Finally, Rebekah thought as she followed Holly out of the mobile home. As soon as she did, the neighborhood kids swooned her and Holly like wolves would do to rabbits. Immediately, she walked closer to Holly, and strange and toxic scents whisked up her nose—the smells of alcohol and…marijuana?

“Holly!” one of the boys sneered, pressing a joint to his lips. After letting out a puff of smoke, he continued, “Care to join us for some Christmas fun?”

Holly stopped dead in her tracks, moving so that her body was in between Rebekah and her neighbors. “Every year, you ask me the same question, Kyle,” she stated flatly, jeering his name. “What is my usual answer?”

“Kyle, she’ll always decline your offer,” said a girl from behind. “She’s too busy playing with the rich kids.”

“Right,” Kyle said, his eyes sweeping from Holly to Rebekah. “And what’s this one’s name?”

Rebekah turned away from Kyle and chose to stare at the ground.

“Get a life, Kyle,” Holly growled, grabbing Rebekah and turning her away from them.

“You bitch!” Rebekah heard Kyle shout from behind them. “You pretend like you’re one of them, but you’re really one of us!”

Rebekah raised an eyebrow and whispered, “Holly, what does he mean by that?”

“Don’t listen to him,” Holly said as they exited the trailer park. “He’s high and drunk. He doesn’t know what he’s saying.”

“But…I’m not…rich.”

“To him, everyone that doesn’t live in the trailer park is rich. There’s a reason why none of them attend any of the schools in Marywood.”

“Where are we going?” Rebekah questioned in an attempt to change the subject.

“The city park. I figured that’s a safe place to host a Christmas get-together before tomorrow,” said Holly.

Key word, Rebekah thought. Safe.

Surprisingly, the city park wasn’t that far away from the trailer park, and within minutes, Holly pulled Rebekah through its entrance. “Mandy said that she’d meet us here.”

“And Jake?”

“I don’t know. We’ll see if he shows up,” Holly replied, “but you know how he feels about Mandy and I.”

“He doesn’t hate you.”

“I’ll believe that when he tells us.” Once Holly was done speaking, her gaze immediately locked onto something in the distance.

Rebekah followed where Holly was looking, her eyes sweeping across Mandy and a tall figure who seemed rather familiar to her. Is that Jake?

Excitement soon flooded through her at the site of him, leaving behind a tingling sensation that was difficult to quell. All of her previous thoughts promptly left her mind, for she had not seen him since the accident. Before she could think about what she was doing, she let her body take over and ran to him, flinging herself into his outstretched arms and leaving Holly to chase after her.

At that moment, Rebekah didn’t know what to say or even how to explain the lack-of communication between them. After all, Holly had convinced her that it was better off that way.

“Holly told me everything,” he professed, sparing her the need to explain her situation. “Are you feeling better, at least?”

Rebekah looked into his eyes. “What do you mean?”

Jake broke the embrace, still standing mere inches from her and tucked strands of her hair behind her ear. “Holly said that you’ve been ill for the last six weeks.”

Ill? Rebekah questioned, glancing at Holly. “Right, I’m…fine, I guess.”

He pulled her into him once more, and she attempted to relax. But her mind began to spin, and soon, she saw it again in the same dream as before. Jake was there, standing protectively in front of her as the figure raised its knife, thrusting it into his stomach. Then, she saw the blood rush out of the wound as his body slunk to the floor. Tears started flowing out of her eyes as she began to scream.

“Rebekah,” she heard Jake say, pulling her out of her flashback. He jumped away from her as if her flesh had scorched him. “What happened?”

“It stabbed you! You’re dead!” she bellowed. And the blood. There was so much of it.

“What’s gotten into you?” Jake demanded as a look of shock and confusion swept across his features. When Rebekah didn’t respond, he turned to Holly. “Holly, what did you do to her?”

“Rebekah, he’s fine,” Holly said, rushing to her side and trying to calm her down. “He’s not dead.”

Rebekah wiped her tears away as well as the vision of his bloodied body.

“What was that about?” Jake demanded with his gaze on Holly.

Holly shrugged as if Rebekah’s outburst was nothing. “She dreamt that you got stabbed.”

“That’s not the whole story!” Rebekah snapped at Holly before turning towards Jake. “Jake, in the dream, you said…you mentioned…” Her voice broke with every word she spoke.

Jake moved closer to her. “I said what?”

Gulping, Rebekah willed herself to continue. “You said you were worried that they’d taken me already.”        

“‘They’d’?” Jake questioned. “What do you mean? Who are—”

“Don’t think much of it,” Holly interrupted, shocking Rebekah. “It was just a random nightmare she had.”

What? Rebekah thought, shaking her head in disbelief and glaring at Holly. Says the person who became ultra-paranoid about Roseway for no reason!

“Guys, we should get going,” Mandy suddenly said, reminding Rebekah that she was there as well. “And later, Rebekah, you can tell me more about that dream.”

Rebekah knew that Mandy meant that as a joke, but she still didn’t find it amusing. Knowing that the concept for Bleeding Misery came from a nightmare that Mandy had, Rebekah couldn’t help but glare at her as well.

“Right,” Holly agreed. “The reason for all of us being together.”

Jake draped his arm around Rebekah, steering her in the direction of Mandy and Holly.

“Jake, you know where this place is, right?” Holly questioned as the group exited the park. “Have you even been there before?”

“Yes, I have been there before,” said Jake half-sarcastically. “And yes, I know where it is.”

“Know where what is?” asked Rebekah, not crazy about surprises.

“You’ll find out soon enough,” Mandy replied. “Just know that this was not my idea.”

 

~~~

 

Apparently, Rebekah’s surprise involved being taken to Jamie’s house, which left her terribly confused. While she didn’t fully understand why Holly and Mandy would agree to such a surprise, she also wasn’t sure that she wanted to be at Jamie’s house because of what had happened the last time she was there. Because of what she saw.

Nonetheless, she had no choice.

“Jamie has been pestering me to let her see you for weeks now,” Holly said. “It got to the point where she threatened me. She doesn’t understand why you left so early that one time and why you chose my house over hers.”

“What did you tell her?”

“I told her the truth,” Holly shrugged. “That you and her aren’t really friends.”

Of course you would say that. “And she said?”

“She’s determined to change that.”

Ultimately, it was Holly who rang the doorbell, and Rebekah decided to watch from behind. The door swung open, and Jamie seemed only too happy to answer it.

“You actually did what I asked for once,” Jamie said, which was the closest she would ever get to an actual compliment. “I’ve wanted to see her before she left.”

“Despite my best interests, I brought her here. Now, you owe me.”

“I owe you nothing.” Jamie shifted her gaze from Holly to Rebekah and Jake. “Rebekah, Jake, you’re allowed in. Holly, Mandy…I owe you nothing. You’d best be off.”

As Rebekah and Jake were about to step around Holly, she outstretched her arm to keep them behind her, and her eyes latched onto Jamie. “I helped you by forcing her to come here. Now, you are going to repay me by letting both Mandy and I into your party.”

Party? What party? Rebekah questioned, watching Holly skeptically. Knowing how much Jamie disliked Holly and Mandy, she guessed that Jamie would motion her and Jake inside first before slamming the door in the faces of the other two. Opening her mouth, Rebekah wished to tell Holly to let the situation go, but something else happened instead that shocked her to the point where her mouth hung open.

“Sure, you can come in too,” Jamie said monotonously and unnaturally, almost as if she was a robot. This confused Rebekah even more, therefore adding to the pile of bizarre experiences she had been a part of since the accident.

“Thank you.” Holly smiled innocently as she was the first to enter, followed by the rest of the group. Then, Jamie motioned for them to follow her, leading them into a back room, one that Rebekah had never seen. Noticing that her movements were almost mechanical, Rebekah whispered to Holly, “What did you do to her?”

“It’s called persuasion,” Holly whispered back. “I’m very good at it.”

Despite the fact that Rebekah didn’t believe Holly, she let that excuse slide as she took in the ambiance of the back room, which was a full-blown party.

“Welcome to my Christmas party,” said Jamie excitedly, reaching out to grab Rebekah’s wrist. “You’re coming with me.”

“Why?” Rebekah demanded, struggling a little against Jamie’s grip.

Not answering her right away, Jamie led Rebekah away from the party. Letting go of Rebekah’s wrist, she started to explain: “My clique and I voted on this, and we came to a decision a few weeks ago. That’s why I wanted Holly to allow you to come here.”

Rebekah barely paid attention to Jamie. With her eyes, she searched the room to locate Jake. She knew that Jake wouldn’t have come if it wasn’t for her being there.

“Now, I want to formally invite you to join Eternal Division,” added Jamie. “I know that you’re leaving Marywood tomorrow, but technically, you can still join.”

“Wait, what?” Rebekah’s eyes landed on Jamie, unsure if she heard correctly. I only hung out with you once! I barely even know you.

“We would be much obliged if you’d join,” Jamie continued.

“Umm…I need time to think about this…” Rebekah awkwardly replied. In no way was she going to accept Jamie’s offer, but she also knew that if she refused it in that moment, Jamie wouldn’t let her go without knowing why and trying to change her mind. Therefore, she chose to give an unsure answer, hoping that Jamie would let her go right away so that she could search for Jake.

Still, Jamie seemed shocked by Rebekah’s response. It appeared as though Jamie expected Rebekah to accept the offer right then and there. “Oh, alright? Well, enjoy the party, and please let me know as soon as possible what your final decision is.”

Before Jamie finished her sentence, Rebekah already zoomed passed her towards Jake.

“Hey,” she greeted.

“What did Jamie want?” Jake asked her with curiosity.

“She wanted me to join her clique, despite the fact that I am leaving tomorrow. I told her I’d think about it,” Rebekah explained as a thought occurred to her. “Do you think you could do me a favor?”

“Depends what it is.” Jake flashed her a playful smile.

Rebekah scoffed at his comment, but nonetheless, she continued, “Tell that rich snob I want no part in her shitty clique sometime after I leave tomorrow, okay?”

Jake couldn’t help but laugh at Rebekah’s comment. “Is she really that bad? And do I have to tell that to her verbatim?”

“Yes, and yes.” Rebekah smiled mischievously at Jake. “That bitch needs to be put in her place for once.”

“You really hate her, don’t you? Will do, Rebekah!” Jake kept up his playful demeanor, but then, he took on a more serious tone, which therefore ended the conversation. “Now, please come with me. I need to talk to you too.”

 

~~~

 

By asking her to come with him, Rebekah realized that he wanted her to temporarily leave the scene of the party. She followed him outside and felt the chilly, December air sucking out her breath. Against the limo, he propped himself up, and she did the same, folding her arms across her chest.

“So, you’re leaving tomorrow,” he suddenly began as if that fact wasn’t obvious.

“Yeah, I am.”

“About earlier today, I couldn’t stop thinking about you temporarily losing it. I want to know exactly what caused that.”

“Holly told you,” Rebekah pointed out. “It was because of a nightmare I had recently.”

“Rebekah, Jamie mentioned that you’ve been acting strangely since the incident on the bus,” said Jake. “Obviously, there’s something you’re not telling me!”

“I—” Rebekah started to say before she heard her name being whispered above her. “What do you want?!” she bellowed to the sky.

“What?” Jake began in a stern voice.

Rebekah paid no attention to him. Instead, she looked at the sky, watching the clouds float high above her.

“He believes you’re losing it,” whispered a female voice from above. “He suspects you’ve gone insane.”

“He does not!” Rebekah shouted. “You’re lying!”

“Am I? He doesn’t understand you,” the same female voice taunted. “He can’t hear me. Only you can. You’re special that way, which is why you must leave him and all others behind you.”

“What do you mean?” asked Rebekah, but she got no response back.

“Who are you talking to?” Jake demanded.

Rebekah glanced at him. “Do you think I’ve gone insane?”

“Rebekah, why would you…” Jake started to ask, seeming taken aback by her generic question.

Before he could finish, tears started streaming down her cheeks. Jake wrapped his arms around her and held her head against his shoulder as she sobbed.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into me,” she claimed. “I just don’t know.”

“It’s okay. Everything will work out,” Jake cooed softly. “And who knows? It probably will be good for you to get out of Marywood for a while.”

Chapter Five

Rebekah barely had any time to gather her things. From the moment Holly woke her up the next morning to the point where they were practically rushing out the door, Rebekah felt overwhelmed to the point where she wouldn’t be surprised if she forgot something.

“We pretty much have to walk to the airport,” Holly said, “which will take about forty-five minutes.”

“Walk?” Rebekah questioned. “Couldn’t you just…drive your house?”

Upon hearing that, Holly couldn’t contain her laughter. “Of course, because I live in a mobile home,” she sneered jokingly. “That won’t draw any attention to us at all.”

“Okay, we’ll walk,” Rebekah declared, unamused by Holly’s sarcasm.

Holly made her way towards the door and propped it open. “Do you have everything?”

“I…think so,” Rebekah said, whose arms were being weighed down by four different suitcases. She glanced at the clock in Holly’s kitchen, which read five in the morning. “Why must we leave so early?”

“Leaving this early will give us enough time to check your suitcases and let you go through security,” Holly explained.

“Oh, great,” Rebekah said half-sarcastically, sloughing off two of her suitcases and sliding them towards Holly. “You can carry these two.”

Holly took one look at the suitcases and opened her mouth as if to protest. Yet, she thought better of it and instead took the suitcases in her arms and headed towards the door.

Rebekah followed closely behind, and she instantly was blasted by the freezing-cold, wintery air. The sky above her was a dark cerulean, and the sun had not yet started to show. In her wool jacket, she shivered a little, and she watched the molecules of her breath disperse in multiple directions as she exhaled.

Yet, Holly seemed to have an easier time handling the cold. She still wore one of her handmade polka-dot dresses with nothing coating her legs and arms. Looking at Holly made Rebekah shiver even more, and she chose to focus instead on the scenery of the trailer park around her, which wasn’t much.

“Holly, how can you wear barely anything?” Rebekah asked, her voice shaking from the cold. “It’s freezing.”

Rebekah could sense Holly smile a little. “It’s not that cold.”

Rebekah said nothing after that. For forty-five minutes, she stayed silent, paying attention to where she stepped. By the time they reached the airport, Rebekah’s legs felt like they were going to collapse from under her, and all she could think about was taking a seat in the waiting area near her terminal. Yet, she would first have to pass through security.

“Oh, and,” Holly paused as she opened the front door to the airport, “I won’t be able to follow you through security.”

“Holly, I know,” said Rebekah as she passed by Holly. “I’ve flown before.”

“Right,” said Holly as she let the door close behind her. “Well, I haven’t, so I have to do my research.”

“You leave every summer for two months,” Rebekah pointed out skeptically, “to Europe. How do you suppose you get there?”

 “Boat,” answered Holly. “It’s like a prolonged cruise around Europe and some of Asia for two months.”

“And you take the same cruise every single year?”

“It’s like camp but on a boat. They give me financial aid every year as well, so it’s pretty cool.”

Up ahead, Rebekah saw the security place, and she let the previous conversation with Holly drop. Glancing to her right, she noticed a countertop with three computers. Behind the computers stood three different workers, and behind them on a board were the different flights and their scheduled times. Placing her suitcases on the ground, she shifted through her smallest one, snatching her tickets. Then, she took the two suitcases she was carrying and made her way to the counter with Holly trailing behind her.

 “Can I help you?” the airport personnel asked Rebekah as she approached the counter. Rebekah took one look at her nametag, which read ESTELLE.

Rebekah gave Estelle her tickets. “I need to check four bags.”

Estelle glanced at the tickets briefly. “So, you’re traveling to Seattle?”

“Roseway,” Rebekah corrected, but one confused look from Estelle told her that the woman had no idea what she was talking about.

“The latter ticket says Seattle,” Estelle insisted.

Rebekah looked at one of her tickets, searching for her destination. Sure enough, the ticket revealed that she would arrive in Seattle at five-thirty in the evening. “There has to be some sort of mistake,” she said, glancing at Holly.

“No mistake,” Holly said. “Roseway doesn’t have an airport.”

“Apparently, there is no mistake,” Rebekah repeated, turning towards Estelle.

Estelle reached under the countertop and produced four strips of paper, each with a side that had a sticky substance. “Wrap these around the handles of your suitcases, and then, leave them with me,” instructed the airport lady as she handed Rebekah the strips of paper.

Rebekah did just that, leaning each of her suitcases against the counter. Then, she turned to walk towards security with her ticket to Phoenix out and her ticket to Seattle placed inside her pocket. Since she had a layover in Phoenix and therefore had to switch planes, she needed both tickets in order to reach her destination.

“This is where I leave you,” Holly spoke softly from behind.

Rebekah stopped in mid-stride and turned to face Holly. “I know,” she stated plainly.

“Rebekah, I knew secretly that I wouldn’t be able to change your mind about moving, but I meant what I said.” Holly took a deep breath. “I will be cutting off all communication with you.”

“And I said that you were being ridiculous,” Rebekah replied. “Find a phone or something and call me. We’ll talk more then.”

“No, we won’t. You’ll understand soon enough,” Holly said as she turned to leave without uttering a final good-bye.

Rebekah watched her go, feeling a sense of sadness wash over her. Deep down, Rebekah knew that Holly meant what she said, and Rebekah had truly lost one of her best friends. She turned towards security and started to make her way to the guard who was stationed at the entrance. Handing her first ticket to him, he signed off on it and motioned her through. Grabbing a bin, she began to empty her phone and belt into it before proceeding to take off her boots. Dumping them into the bin as well, she placed it on a conveyer belt and made her way to another part of security, where a woman greeted her and told her to step onto a platform in a small, room-like area of security and pose the way the orange humanoid model was posed. Rebekah did just that, placing her hands behind her head as she let the machine scan her for any lingering metallic objects. When it found none, she stepped off the platform and went to retrieve her things, putting on her boots and belt as well as reclaiming her phone.

She made it through security. Glancing at her ticket, she noticed that her terminal number was A-4, and she began to head in that direction, passing many restaurants and gift shops along the way. Then, she took a seat at her terminal and remained there for the next hour-and-a-half.

 

~~~

 

Rebekah could not remember a previous time when the hours had slowed as much as it did during her wait. Immediately, she started cursing herself for packing Bleeding Misery in one of her suitcases that was being checked, and when people started being called up to board the plane, Rebekah remained seated, for she was not permitted to board first. She was zone four.

As soon as her zone was called, she rushed in line with her ticket and waited for the line to move. Up ahead, she noticed the flight attendant taking people’s tickets, and when it was her turn, she gladly handed her ticket to him before stepping into the terminal. Within a few slowed moments, which were caused primarily by people shoving their carry-ons into the spaces above the seats, Rebekah boarded the plane and searched for her assigned seat—17-F, a window seat. She shoved her way to her seat and sat down, glancing out the window of the plane. By now, the sun was out, slowly climbing towards its peak.

A man sat down next to her, but she paid no attention to him. Leaning her head against the side of the plane, she waited until everyone had boarded and for the plane to start moving.

One of the flight attendants soon announced over the intercom that the plane would now start moving, and Rebekah fastened her seatbelt. Then, she felt the jolt of the plane as it started moving towards the runway. Watching the plane move, she felt her head vibrate, and she began to relax. Soon, the plane positioned itself on the runway, stopping suddenly before it started racing down the runway at an increasing speed. The wings of the plane bobbed up and down rapidly as the plane accelerated, and soon, the plane took off, soaring high into the sky. The flaps on the wings began to recede back into the wings, and the plane straightened itself. Then, Rebekah closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

 

~~~

 

Her sleep was dreamless, and she awoke suddenly when the plane made contact with another runway—the one that she suspected was in Phoenix. When the plane came to a stop and the terminal was connected to it, she glided off of it as fast as she could and took a seat near the terminal in order to collect her thoughts.

She had no idea what she was going to do during the layover, since she packed her only source for reading material in one of her checked bags. The only thing she knew was that she could not stay there; she had to pass through security again, since she was technically embarking on another flight.

Immediately, she started heading towards security, determined to get to her next terminal as quickly as possible. The procedures for security were the same in Phoenix as they were for Marywood, and she wasted no time passing through it. Once she had passed through it a second time, she quickly gathered her stuff and started making her way to her next terminal. For the rest of the layover, she chose to entertain herself with thoughts of the place she would be moving to as she took a seat after reaching the terminal. She thought about the people there as well as the school system. She thought about her family, who she deemed would be overjoyed to see her after all this time. Last of all, she found herself wondering how similar Roseway would be to Marywood, hoping that the two cities wouldn’t be too different from each other.

The announcement that her plane was now boarding was what pulled her out of her thoughts. Her eyes instantly widened at how fast time flew by, but even though people were already in line to board the plane, she didn’t move a muscle. Once again, she was zone four, and she would be boarding last.

After another tedious wait, Rebekah took her seat, 18-E, and glanced out the window. Her head started pounding, and soon, she felt herself sinking back into a stage of sleep.

 

It was as if she was staring into an intangible mirror. Finding herself in a field, Rebekah stared into the eyes of a nineteenth-century version of herself. The same girl she had seen at Jamie’s house that one night, except this girl appeared in full color.

“I’ve been watching over you,” the girl stated, coming towards Rebekah. “The demons have been trying to steal you from me.”

“What do you mean?” Rebekah questioned. “Who are you?”

“We are not so different from each other, you and I,” the girl said, ignoring Rebekah’s question. “We are like twins, almost…one person.”

“Who are you?” Rebekah repeated her question.

“For years, you’ve been hunted by the same demons that I am trying to shield you from. I figured that if I finally brought you into Roseway, you’d be safe.” The girl paused. “Roseway is my town. Only I can control it, and it is a safe, heavenly place where its citizens become one with their counterparts.”

“Counterparts?”

“If you let me into your mind, I can protect you,” the girl continued. “Yet, your mind still remains closed to foreign presences.”

“H-how do I open it?” Rebekah questioned.           

“You’ll have to figure that out yourself, and I am very patient,” answered the girl. “The others will show you our way of life in Roseway, and when you are ready, we will become one.”

 

Suddenly, she disappeared into nothingness as the world around Rebekah crumbled. She jolted awake suddenly, rubbing her eyes, as the plane stopped. People started to stand and file out of the plane, and Rebekah, feeling dizzy, did the same. Outside, rain pelted the plane, and Rebekah could barely make out the faint outline of the city of Seattle.

After exiting the plane, Rebekah began to make her way to the baggage claim, unable to get her previous dream out of her mind. Demons are hunting me? she questioned. Is this what Holly’s been hiding from me? How would she know about this?

Rebekah glanced behind her shoulder. Off in the distance, she saw two people staring at her from afar. One was a middle-aged man, and the other seemed to be a girl about her age. The man’s hair was greyed to the point where his original hair color did not show, and the girl’s hair was strawberry-blonde. Both had pale-white skin, and both pairs of their eyes looked as if they were colored in fully with the color of maroon.

Rebekah turned away from them as she quickened her pace to the baggage claim. Periodically, she would glance behind her, watching them follow her, and her breathing turned heavy. She raced down the escalator and positioned herself amongst the crowd, who were also waiting for their luggage. Watching bag after bag after bag be dispensed onto the conveyer belt, Rebekah checked each one in order to find her four bags. Periodically, she would make note of where the two people were, but she couldn’t find them. Feeling herself relax, she began to search for her luggage again.

It took a while before the luggage from Phoenix was officially being unloaded from the plane, and Rebekah watched more and more people leave the side of the conveyer belt after their luggage was claimed, leaving her more and more exposed. Frantically, she stared at the luggage dispenser, waiting for her bags and growing more and more impatient. Come on, she thought. I have to find my parents.

As if on command, her luggage started to barrel through the dispenser one by one, landing on the conveyer belt in front of her. Rebekah took each bag off the conveyer belt, securing them around her arms, and then, she turned around…almost running into the strange man. Instantly, she bit her lip to stifle a scream.

“Are you Rebekah Jensen?” the man asked, his maroon eyes devoid of expression.

“Y-yes?” Rebekah said in a weak voice, glancing around her to see if anyone else noticed these strange people. Yet, they paid no attention to her, and she contemplated screaming for help. “Who…are…you?”

“I must apologize for how I came across to you earlier,” the man continued, reaching out to take two of her bags. “My name is Joseph Evans, and this is my daughter, Sara.”

Rebekah saw the girl from before take a step forward, grabbing the other two bags. “I don’t understand.”

“Your parents were too busy that they couldn’t be the ones to greet you.” Joseph paused. “My daughter and I were sent by them to safely escort you to Roseway.”