Chapter One: The Beginning
---------------------------- Fredericksville, Missouri, 1969 ---------------------------
"Go get the ball Jonathan!" yelled Derrick Casey across the field to a pale-faced boy. Being very tall for his age of nine, skinny, and with spindly legs, Jonathan was pitied by many, and avoided by most. Derrick was his only friend, but lately Derrick was being a jerk. Jonathan was too afraid to go into the dark forest were the ball had rolled off to, but Derrick was pressuring him into going in. Why couldn't Derrick go? He was older. Yes, only older by one year, but that was old enough to make a difference.
"Are you too chicken?" Derrick taunted. Jonathan felt his pale face go red. This was getting annoying.
"Maybe those kids at school are right! You're just a freak."
"What is wrong with him?" wondered Jonathan. He was about to go to get the ball when Derrick decided to cross the line.
"If you don't get the ball, I'll never want to see your pale face again!"
That was it. If he didn't want to see Jonathan's face, he wouldn't have to. Jonathan was angry. Very angry. Dangerously angry. He was not going to take this, so he ran into the forest.
"About time!" Derrick said. He waited for a minute. Then two. Before he knew it, ten minutes had passed, and no sign of Jonathan. He sat down. He kicked a dandelion. Still no sign of Jonathan. What was taking him so long? Derrick decided to investigate, so he ran into the forest.
Trekking through that foreboding tangle of branches and thorns was not easy. Derrick had trouble seeing even three feet in front of him. There were scary noises everywhere. Then Derrick realized he didn't know what way was the way out. Derrick was lost. He ran in one direction, stumbled down a hill and landed on his face at the bottom. The trees were even thicker here. He pulled his favorite sweater tighter around him.
"Jonathan!" he screamed. If this was a joke, it was not funny. "Jonathan Slender this better not be a trick to get back at me!"
Something moved in the corner of Derrick's vision, and he quickly turned towards it, but it had disappeared.
"Jonathan?" he whimpered.
There it was again, now on the other side of his vision. Just like last time, by the time he turned towards it, it was gone. Derrick then had the horrifying feeling that someone, or something, was behind him. He slowly turned one-hundred and eighty degrees to face whatever it was.
"Ha!" giggled Derrick nervously. "That was probably just the shadows playing tricks on my eyes."
Derrick then turned back to the way he was facing, and he screamed.
And then the scream was cut short.
Nora Adeline Casey was getting home from her school, Fredericksville High, when she had the odd sense that someone was following her. She turned around and let go a yelp.
"Stephen Dacrae if you ever do that to me again!" she told him, laughing.
"I got ya, didn't I?" he replied.
"Not even close. Don't try again." She smiled. "Hey, want to come over to my house? I bet my mom has some kind of snack."
"Well anything is better than my house with my dad, so, yeah! Let's go."
As soon as they got to Nora's house, they were stopped by Mrs. Casey.
"You two have to be really quiet right now-" she was saying, when Nora interrupted her.
"Is he going through one of his episodes?"
"Nora, don't call them that. You know your father has been through a lot. It hit him hard when his little brother Derrick disappeared."
"But mom! That was over forty years ago!"
"You know that isn't the only reason he is like this."
"Why is he like this?" said Stephen. Nora and Mrs. Casey stared at him, surprised at him for speaking up. Nora guessed it was their fault, though, for speaking about issues that could arouse curiosity. In order to save her mom and herself from talking about Mr. Casey's problem, she said:
"It's nothing. Mom, me and Stephen were just heading out to the park anyways."
"Alright, hon, be safe, and don't go out for too long."
"And Nora? Avoid the forest."
"Okay mom. See ya!"
"Bye Mrs. Casey." said Stephen, and they walked out towards the park.
At the park the two friends found a hill overlooking the forest, and they sat down to talk. After talking about school, how their math teacher was so funny when he was trying to dance Gangnam Style in front of them, and about who liked whom and who was with whom, Stephen turned the conversation back to Mr. Casey's problem.
"So what is the reason your dad has those... episodes?" he asked tentatively.
Nora sighed. This was going to be difficult to explain.
"Well, it's kind of a long story."
It was also starting to get dark.
"Tell me." he insisted.
"Okay. Well, my dad had a little brother, named Derrick. One day, Derrick came to this very park with one of his friends to play ball. He never came back. His friend didn't come back either. The authorities presumed that they got lost in the forest, and they sent a team to get them, but the team never came back. This affected my father greatly, as you can expect, but what sent him into nervous hysteria was last year. He was doing some exercise at this park, and as he was running past the forest, he says, that he saw a tall man staring at him from the forest. As he looked at the man, again, this is what my dad says, he noticed that the man had no face. It was just a pale head basically, with no eye sockets or mouth or anything. He says he could swear that the man was holding the unmistakable sweater that his little brother Derrick used to wear. My dad says he then stumbled over a rock, and when he looked back, the man was gone... "
All this time Stephen was staring into the forest. He was visibly scared.
"What was your dad's brother's friend's name?" he whispered.
"Uuum. Hm. Wait. I think it was..."
She was then cut off from a bloodcurling scream emanating from the forest.
Constructive criticism greatly appreciated guys! Thanks!