“Yo, Evvy’s makin’ some friends at school, mom!” Barry said, ruffling my hair until the curls frizzed out.
I took a deep breath and puffed the hair from my eyes, smiling as I nodded in agreement to Barry’s outburst at the dinner table.
“That’s nice, Evvy!” Beatrice beamed.
“Yeah, pretty soon you’re gonna have plenty of high school memories to add on your camera!” Ben added.
“Yeah, and speaking of Scarlett—” I began, “—Dad, I’m going to need another SD card; the others are getting pretty full.”
“Well, we’ll pick one up when we go to the mall this weekend; Barry needs better cleats for football anyway.” Ben said.
“Thanks!” I smiled.
I shoveled a forkful of corn into my mouth.
“Speaking of sports,” Ben said, flicking out the Long Islander newspaper.
There was an article on Barry:
‘Robinson Sacks His Way Into All-County.’
“How about THAT!?” Ben cheered.
“Oh wow, Barry!” I said, returning the favor by ruffling his hair, “Nice work!”
“I didn’t put on twenty pounds of muscle for nothing!” Barry boasted.
“Oh and speaking of ME, I have a date to get ready for, may I be excused?”
“Who’s the lucky girl?” I teased.
“Amy Hunter,” he sang.
“She’s in high honors, isn’t she!?” I was shocked.
“Got that right!” Barry grinned.
“Wait,” I hesitated then continued, “is Barry Richard-Robinson finally taking advice from me!?” I teased.
“Oh please,” Barry denied, but his eyes told on him. “Okay maybe a little bit—you made a good point last time with Missy Bishop. She just liked me because I was the head honcho; she didn’t like that I actually liked studying.”
“Well, she doesn’t want to be seen with a geek,” I continued to tease.
“Wrong,” Barry argued, “I didn’t wanna be seen with an airhead!”
“Nice one!” I sang then added, “Missy Bishop was a bimbo; Amy Hunter’s got brains!”
“Yeah, plus Amy Hunter has a nicer rack!” Barry finally confessed.
“I knew there was a catch!” I accused.
“Hah!” Barry spat out a condescending laugh. “You know nothing, little one! Just wait until you find yourself a dude, then we’ll talk!”
“Yeah, speaking of that,” Ben jumped in.
“We don’t have to worry about you getting into any troubles with the opposite sex now, do we?”
“Well,” I teased a little.
“Oh my god! Barry!” Ben teased back.
“I’ll get on it, dad!” Barry jumped in, “I’ll find out who it is tomorrow, she’ll only see him on the back of milk cartons!”
Barry got up from the table, ruffling my hair again—his way of letting me know that he’s joking—and then ran upstairs.
“You guys are such turds,” I scoffed.
“Oh don’t you let these boys tear you down,” Beatrice defended me. I smiled.
“There is a boy, but it’s just a crush,” I finally answered.
“Crushes are safe,” Ben nodded.
“Crushes are healthy!” Beatrice added on, “especially for Evvy, she’s been through some rough years, and she’s finally breaking out of her shell. It’s good to see her being able to embrace a good life!”
I smiled faintly. I’d almost forgotten about everything that had occurred since I was four years old. I was still too young when the tragic genocide of my family happened before my eyes. I guessed that following the conditions my father had requested in his will when I was nine—finish high school and all of the answers will be given to me—has had me living my own sort of good life. After dinner, I went to bed that night thinking about Devin. I wondered what he was exactly, and how to approach him about what I am capable of doing; if he would even know anything about having such a clairvoyant gift of contacting the paranormal. I’d wondered if he knew that he was one—if he actually was one—a ghost.
I had slept through the buzzing of my alarm clock; Barry had to fortunately wake me up. It was weird that Barry was always wide awake in the mornings despite him going out on school nights, not going to sleep until midnight.
“Ugh, I think you broke a rib this time,” I whined after Barry had hoisted me up out of bed and bounced me over his shoulder—his fool-proof way of waking me up from a deep sleep.
He had set me on my feet when he’d know I was not going to fall back to sleep—I didn’t.
The shower woke me up almost as instantaneous as Barry’s approach, just not as painful and bone-bruising. I got dressed, and decided to put my hair up in a ponytail—I felt too lazy today to set my hair into curls although Beatrice had offered to do them for me.
“At least leave some curls hanging,” she suggested, tugging some of my hair out from the sides and made them hang over my faint, strawberry-red sideburns.
I made sure I had my notes, homework, and all of my books crammed inside of my Giant Book Bag o’ Ultimate Terrorism, and Scarlett was in her traveling case, strapped around my waist like a gun holster. Beatrice stopped me as I approached the door before I opened it.
“You’re beautiful,” Beatrice began. “Any boy stupid enough to pass you up will end up with a whore!”
“Mom!” I said with a gasp, surprised at what she had said.
“I’m just telling you the truth, dear,” Beatrice added.
We both giggled, and then she kissed my forehead—we were both about the same height and Barry enjoyed calling us out on that fact.
“Okay time to end the munchkin convention!” Barry sang annoyingly.
“Oh shut up and go to school already!” Beatrice said with a laugh. “Have a good day at school dear,” she told me with a smile. Barry rode with his friends and fellow sports mates to school; I would take the bus. By the time the bus reached the school, I saw that Barry was already there, and some of his team mates made like chatterboxes in the parking lot with nothing else better to do but converse mundanely with each other. The air was crisps today, and the skies were a bit cloudy. I liked the way the overcast gave the atmosphere a dimmer look; the bright and sunny days were nearly blinding me. Plus, since I’d finally learned how to see ghosts without having to blindly take shots with Scarlett, I found it much easier to spot them when the sun wasn’t tracing every detail of the land beneath its rays.
“Smile!” I heard as I walked towards the main doors of the school building.
I turned around, and was immediately caught off guard by the sudden flash.
“Gotcha!” Casrial sang triumphantly. She frolicked over to me, giving me a surprising hug as if we’ve known each other for much longer than yesterday.
“You’re a sharp shooter,” I complimented her, “What’s up?”
“So,” she began, “I finally got my official schedule. I was pretty much being floated all around the school—they had problems with getting my information for some odd reason. But I checked my schedule and then realized to my dismay…that I have sixth period Home Ec with you!”
“Oh my gosh, really!?” I shrieked, “I mean—no no no, you’re gonna have to change that, immediately!”
We both laughed as Casrial lazily nudged me.
“So wait,” I continued, “What other classes do you have? We might have some more classes together!”
We both walked to the School’s main entrance, comparing classes. Casrial had four classes with me: first period English, fourth period Math, sixth period Home Economics, and eighth period Earth Science. Neither one of us counted Lunch as a class, but we concluded that we would see each other five times a day, not counting hallway encounters.
“Wait!” Casrial said suddenly. “We forgot about homeroom!”
“Oh yeah!” I sang. “Wow, so that makes it six times a day, not counting bumping into each other in the hallways!”
“Good, so I won’t miss my good friend for too long!” she cheered proudly.
It was a really great feeling knowing that I’d actually made a friend almost as similar as how the ghosts would find me now; popping out of nowhere and striking up a conversation with me. One thing I had discovered that was significant about me was that it didn’t take much to get me interested in being your friend; As reserved as I was, I opened up easily to people who allowed me to just be me.
“Now all we need is to get you a locker as close to mine as humanly possible, and then I can consider you my sister!” I said, almost fan-girlishly.
“That would be amazing,” Cas replied, “Granted I’m the only child in my family.”
“So was I,” I said, “Until my—well, when I got foster parents.”
I gave her a weak smile as we stopped in front of my locker. I entered the combination on the four dials on the lock:
The tumblers crackled softly as the lock popped open, and then I pulled the latch to open my locker door. I stuffed my ‘Giant Book Bag o’ Kill Me Now’ into the locker, and then closed it shut again, popping the lock shut and scrambling the numbers.
Homeroom was a lot of fun with Casrial there to talk to. We both wrote notes about random things; why our homeroom teacher Mr. Krauss had worn reading glasses only to take them off while he was reading the paper, and which boy was cute and what number grade we would give them. There was a pretty laid back boy Casrial thought was “flawlessly cute” in our homeroom; he had short, messy, brown hair, and wore nothing but short-sleeve button shirts with a white V-neck t shirt underneath. His name was Jayden Howell. He’d turn his head, staring at the two of us whenever we giggled to ourselves; Casrial would wave to him whenever he looked at her. After homeroom, I noticed Jayden gave Casrial another look, and a smile stretched lightly on his face, waving to her. Casrial waved back, and then did a half-twirl, facing me with a strong grin.
“See?” she pointed out. “Flawlessly cute!”
“I like his hair,” I admitted with a smirk.
“I like his everything,” she sighed.
First period was spent being paired into groups—obviously, Casrial and I were inseparable like conjoined twins. We had to choose specific topics for each other to come up with an essay. We had dozens of choices to choose from; I chose ghosts and spirits for Casrial, and she’d chosen fears as my essay.
The rest of the day I’ve managed to see Casrial, even in the hallways when we’d have separate classes. We spent our lunch time together at our usual spot—we managed to actually collect a few students outside as well.
“Wow,” Mike Presley, a sophomore student said. “I didn’t know people actually had lunch outside! I was afraid of coming out here by myself!”
He was right; nobody ate lunch outside. I didn’t understand why; the benches were in pretty decent condition, and there were enough of them for at least twenty to thirty students to sit and have lunch outside. I didn’t mind it though because I felt alone inside the cafeteria, and deep down I didn’t want the space outside to be filled with the insanity that had already consumed the lunchroom itself.
The day went by fast, and despite my drowsy beginnings, seeing Casrial most of the day gave me energy; a reason to enjoy school that much more. However, there were some downsides to being friends with Casrial: I’d lost sight of ghosts—not even a hymn of harmonic resonance was heard, not even during classes. Also, I lost track of my reason for forcing myself up today; the old football field where I wanted to attract ghosts. Lastly, was all the more apparent—I’d had not seen Devin at all today.
“So I’ll see ya tomorrow, little sister!” Casrial snapped me out of my trance.
“Little?” I asked my eyebrow half-cocked.
“Well, I remember you telling me your birthday’s in July, right?” she pointed out, “My birthday’s in January, so that makes me a few months older than you!”
“Heh,” the fact just dawned on me. “Well, big sister, I’ll remember to get you a birthday card.” Cas smiled, and then raised her arm up. She wound up her sleeve to reveal a watch around her wrist. Casrial glanced at it briefly and then looked up at me.
“I gotta get going—my dad’s picking me up today…did you need a ride?” Cas offered me.
I shook my head slightly and then said, “I’m gonna catch the bus…if all else fails though, there’s always the 4:30pm bus I could wait for.” I ensured her.
“Okay!” Casrial gave me a sisterly hug, and then waved goodbye before she started to glide away. “I’ll see you tomorrow!”
“Yep!” I waved back.
I noticed the buses began hissing as their breaks were being set, and then the thought dawned upon me.
“That’s right!” I thought aloud. “The 4:30pm bus! I can head over to the old field for a bit, and then come back in time to catch the bus!”
I left my ‘Giant Book Bag o’ Utter Crap’ in the locker and then sprinted as fast as my thin, gazelle-like legs could catapult me. It didn’t take long for me to make it to the old field since I’d sprinted the entire way; it took me about four minutes at most. I even out ran most of the cross country team making their warm up runs; some of them had stopped, possibly because I made them look bad.
I slowed down to a walk once I had reached the field. I wasn’t that worn out, nor had I broken a sweat; I was only breathing slightly heavier than usual. Looking around to investigate the area, I removed Scarlett from her padded travelling case like a standard-issued handgun from its holster, and turned the power on. Scarlett made a beautiful digital-type of sound; almost as if she was actually alive. The SLR’s mechanism moved smoother than clockwork gears and the soft ‘bzzt bzzt’ sounds of the lens focusing and refocusing, the blips and bleeps and welcoming sound byte of something magnificently stellar was like a Beethoven symphony of a digital masterpiece every time I pushed the “on” button.
The clouds had rolled in, making the autumn evening begin much earlier than usual; the sun was shrouded by a thick overcast, making 3:20pm appear to be 7:45pm. I grabbed a Snap-On camera light Ben had given me for my fifteenth birthday, and snapped it right on top of a fitting slot on Scarlett; it turned on at the push of a button, illuminating a good portion of the old football field. There was a light layer of fog looming over the field as I’d walked through, but I had sensed nothing, saw nothing. I decided to walk on the faded fifty-yard-line, taking pictures of the old field; it looked like a roman coliseum the way that the old, decrepit wooden crowd benches were broken, warped, and slanted—I felt like I was in the middle of Stonehenge.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I sighed disappointingly. Half-defeated, I began taking more pictures of the football field, and of myself. I’d noticed that the freckles on my face had grown more visible, especially under dim, poorly-lit places. I liked my freckles, however; I thought I looked cute. When I was fifteen, I’d started considering myself as the geeky girl that all the trend-following boys wanted to have; the beautiful maiden hidden and protected behind a thick armor of nerdy. I’d waited for the day, the one day that a boy would look at me and put the moves on me like I was the only girl in the world. Then I’d remembered that I’d never found the need to really want to talk to a boy…except the day I met Devin Greigh.
After fifteen minutes of posing in front of Scarlett as she flashed her beautiful light, capturing every detail of my beautifully-freckled and nerdy face, I started to hear unfamiliar sounds. I began to think it was the harmonic resonance of a ghost, finally finding my whereabouts. I listened again. It was a deeper, more pain-filled moan, almost like a baritone choir of the damned, or a bass cello being played in a very noir motif. It soon began to grow cold; I saw my breath as I exhaled, watching it blend in with the now thickening fog. I shut the power off of Scarlett and quickly surrendered her to her traveling case. I spun around frantically—something felt eerily familiar. The feeling of cold married with the dark, low tones of sorrow, had sunk heavily in my chest, and filling my lungs. I breathed heavily with anxiety, unsure of what to expect. I had a hunch that whatever this was approaching had to be huge.
From the somber, noir tones, there was a demonic cackling; similar to a hyena’s, and that’s when I began to see them. One-by-one they approached from the fog, walking in groups as silhouettes of what used to be human beings. Where their heads were, white spheres which served as their eyes shone brightly, leaving trailing blurs from their movement. Their silhouettes were dressed in an aura of black and blue, dancing violently like war flags of smoke traveling in the wind. There were so many of them walking slowly in my direction that I couldn’t physically count them.
“I—I mean no harm,” I stuttered. “I’m harmless, I promise!”
They continued to approach, their hyena-like cackling growing louder with each advance. It was that moment that I remembered the note left in the box from when I was first given Scarlett; ‘White= GOOD and Black=BAD.’ Did they mean the colors of the ghosts? I’d noticed that the ghosts advancing were blackish blue, the same colors as the ghosts that had killed my family, the same ghost that had attacked me at the age of nine. These had to be the same form of ghosts. They were not friendly, nor did they give me the usual feeling of security and comfort; they were evil, and without a doubt in the world, they had arrived for me.
I gasped, stepping back defensively, and then I had noticed…I was surrounded. What I thought was only a dozen, had multiplied by four when I scanned the entire area of the field; There had to have been twice as many approaching me from each sideline than the ones approaching me from each end zone. Suddenly, I felt the cold air grow denser, weighing my lungs down and making it harder for me to breathe. I tried to find some means of fleeing, but the ghosts were like a translucent wall blocking any means of escape. Soon the cackling turned into slow, serpent-like hisses, and then they pursued. “No!” I shrieked, and then started to backpedal.
One by one, each ghost moved like puffs of smoke. One flew right past me; the cold air was like ice, leaving me disoriented long enough for a second ghost to collide straight into my chest. The impact felt like a hammer infused with electricity, sending a paralyzing surge throughout my body. I was flung through the air from the forty-five-yard-line, bouncing onto the twenty-yard line, and then rolling helplessly to a stop at the ten-yard-line. Pain shot through every limb, every scuffed, newly grass-matted joint, and even my face. My teeth clenched as my body contorted in pain as the cold-burning mixed surge continued to thrash my body in pain. I couldn’t help but to look up, regretting ever coming to the football field, as the fog now lingering over my tortured body, became the starting line for the horde of evil ghosts stalking me; death from above. One of the ghosts slowly walked over to me—I assumed he was the leader.
“She is the one,” the ghost hissed.
“We will kill her quick, and then take the soul from her.”
His voice echoed as if he was speaking from the end of a long, narrow hallway. I couldn’t even speak in my defense, like before. It was happening all over again. ‘Will they finally kill me?’ I started to think.
“Yes we will,” he answered. My eyes widened as I thought to myself, ‘He can read my thoughts!’
“No,” he hissed. “Your spirit speaks when your flesh does not. Your flesh begs for mercy, but we will show it none.”
The ghost’s glowing eyes turned a bright red, his mouth stretching past the limit of a human’s mouth like a snake unhinging its jaw to swallow a rat whole. I closed my eyes; I did not want to see what was going to happen next, my inevitable death.
I suddenly heard a swooshing noise, a rush of warmth brushing against my skin. The sound of something whistling in the air, followed by a blood-curdling shriek, penetrated my eardrums. I felt a familiar cooling vapor feeling, and the sound of harmonic resonance, like church bells, began overpowering the flood of hisses and noir-like baritones. As I experienced this, I felt safe—and more curious enough—to open my eyes.
A lone, but beautifully white-glowing blur, danced around the field, attacking every ghost in sight. It was moving so fast, it literally looked like a streak of white smoke, wielding what looked like a sword of sorts from the way it was fighting off the evil ghosts with it. The white ghost moved so gracefully, fighting off each of the blackish-blue predators with finesse, with ease. I had no idea that ghosts could fight against one another; this had been something I’d never expected to witness. The lone white ghost fought in a seamless string of patterns, both I assumed was hand-to-hand, and swordplay. Streaks of black and blue smoke flew in various directions, like fireballs being projected from catapults. The sounds of wind, the whistling of the blade-like weapon the ghost wielded, and the shrieks of pain as a blow connected with an evil ghost, orchestrated a symphony of war right in front of me. I then realized that the agonizing surge running through my body had ceased, and I was able to move, but I continued to lay still, only sitting up from where I was to keep an eye on the battle; I did not want to risk moving and drawing the attention back on me, and I was horrible with sneaking around stealthily.
After what actually felt like nearly a minute of battle, the black ghosts began to change in light; the blackish-blue began peeling off of them like eggshells off of hard-boiled eggs. The white ghost floated down, and I could see the figure more clearly now; the figure of what looked to be a male with his back turned to me, standing nonchalantly and looking over the army of what was now white ghosts much like himself. The harmonic resonance became a choir of solitude, and the vision of the man—or boy—standing in front of me, was like that of a composer orchestrating an award-winning sonata. Seconds later, the horde of newly-white ghosts dispersed, and the football field was silent once again. “You,” the voice called over to me. It sounded so familiar, but I could not put my finger on it.
Suddenly the ghost blurred from my vision, and appeared suddenly right in front of me. He was hunched over, examining my face. It startled me that my elbows that were holding me up, gave way, and I fall back to the ground. I shook my head—my hair became undone, and was all over my face in messy curls. I looked up at the face still examining me. “You!?” the voice said in a higher tone, almost a tone of disgust.
I looked at the ghost’s face…it was not a ghost. His face was bold, and young. His hair was as much of a mess as mine, but with more style, more purpose. His familiar bangs half-covered his eyes, which illuminated a blue so pale they had almost looked white or silvery. His face was perfect, even with the sweat dripping from every open pore of his prominent face. His lips were the tip off; the same full lips that I’d seen just yesterday. I gasped to my surprise as I looked to the left-part of his body and to the ivory-black gun-fashioned cane that he had stabbing into the ground. “What did they want from you?” he asked. It was Devin. His low, raspy voice was the dead giveaway. My eyes widened, half bewildered and half relieved; relieved because deep down I had known there was something outer-worldly about him that drew me closer to him.
“Devin!” I gasped. “I—I don’t—I don’t know.”
“What are you?” he asked, his beautifully pale-blue eyes squinting as if he was in deep thought.
“What are you?” I asked in return.
He suddenly looked up as quick as a snake, past my direction, and in a blur of smoke, he vanished into the skies.
I gasped, jumping up as if I had awakened from a horrible dream.
“Hey!!” A familiar voice yelled from a distance. It was Barry. “Are you okay??” Oh great, I thought. How was I going to explain to him what I was doing here and not home? “Evvy!?” Barry caught a glimpse of me before I could even think about trying to run off, “What the hell are you doing here? You should be home by now!”
“I know, I,” I stuttered, unable to devise a quick enough excuse.
“My god, what the hell happened to you!?” he looked in horror, “You look like you were attacked by an animal!” He ran over and grabbed my hand—it was all cut up, as if someone was torturing me with a box cutter.
“I was at intramurals,” I lied, “I went outside to do laps, and I saw an eagle—I wanted to take a picture of it.”
“And an eagle did this to you!?” he asked as he cocked one eyebrow.
“N—no,” I said. “A stray dog did!”
“Damnit, Evvy! We gotta take you to the hospital,” Barry panicked. He picked me up as if I’d only weighed five pounds, and rushed me off of the field.