Chapter 1: A Disturbing Discovery
Dark, thick storm clouds rolled over the sky of the City of Brotherly Love. A light rain eventually fell from the sky and dampened whatever it touched. Quiet rumbles of thunder echoed throughout the skies. A bright flash of lightning would make itself visible every few minutes. Despite the inclement weather, the people of the city went about their business as if it were a clear morning. Men and women were on their way to work while college-bound students were on their way to their respective campuses to prepare for the upcoming school year. However, three students had other things on their minds.
"Are you sure we should be here?" Serena asked, sounding rather nervous. "You know I don't like abandoned places." She held her textbook and novel against her chest as she followed her brother and his friend to an abandoned parking deck. Upon entering it, Serena placed the books on the ground. Then she brushed her long blonde locks off her shoulder and turned to Jason, a rising senior. "I heard there's an orientation this morning. I really don't want to miss it," she said, trying to remain calm while picking her books back up.
"If I were you, Serena, I wouldn't waste my time going to that," he told her. "Besides, I can tell you of anything and everything you would ever need to know about college."
"I'm being serious, Jason," Serena snapped as she smacked him on the arm. "Don't be so conceited."
"You should know all the rules and regulations, Jason," Daniel, also a rising senior, said with a smirk. "You broke nearly every one in a month!" he thought he'd also mention as he combed his fingers through his short sandy hair. When the trio stopped to take a break, Jason turned to his friend and crossed his arms after adjusting his glasses.
"Well, excuse me, Mr. Daniel Richards," began Jason with a fake British accent, trying to imitate one of his history professors. "Weren't you the one who was caught trying to flush a pack of cigarettes and two lighters all because you were too damn lazy to go outside? You know that smoking will not be tolerated in the dorm rooms." Though Serena thought her brother and Daniel were acting immature, she couldn't help but laugh at Jason's imitation. Just then, the wind picked up. Jason sighed as he tried to straighten his medium length hair, forcing light brunette strands back into place.
"Why haven't you have answered my question yet?" Serena wanted to know. "Why are we here? This is just parking deck." Then she paused for a second before asking, "Are you trying to scare me with more of your obnoxious pranks?"
"Relax, Serena," Daniel replied as he placed his hands in his jacket pockets. "We just wanted to take a shortcut to campus. That's all." When Serena wasn't looking, Daniel turned to Jason and smiled.
"Why couldn't you just tell me that earlier?" Serena mumbled angrily under her breath as she adjusted the strap of her messenger bag. "I swear these books are getting heavier every second," she complained as she hoisted up her thick textbook and paperback novel before she nearly dropped them. "Can we go now?" she asked, almost sounding out of breath. "My arms are sore. They feel like they're about to fall off."
"All right, let's go," Jason said as he took Serena's books. "Even if you happen to miss the orientation this morning, I heard there's another one next Tuesday," he mentioned as the trio continued on their way through the abandoned parking center. Serena quickened her pace, trying to keep up with Jason. When she caught up to him, Serena reached her left arm around him and took the paperback novel back. Jason rolled his eyes. "If you wanted your book back, all you had to do was ask, Serena," he mumbled.
"What have you been reading that's so important, Serena?" a curious Daniel asked.
"I never said it was important," replied Serena. "I just want to catch up on my reading. Normally, I don't enjoy reading very much, but this book has captured my attention from the very beginning," she told him as she opened the book to where the bookmark had been placed. Though Serena wanted to wait until they had exited parking deck to continue reading, she tried her best to read the fine, dark print on the yellowed pages of the novel without placing too much strain on her eyes.
"What book are you reading?" Daniel asked again.
"What?" Serena asked as she picked her head up. Daniel stared at her as he pointed at the book in her hands. "Oh, this is just a book full of ghost stories," she replied, placing the bookmark between the pages and closing the book. Then she let out a heavy sigh. "This book belongs to one of my friends, so I need to finish reading it by Friday."
"You're reading ghost stories, Serena?" Jason asked as he stopped walking and turned to face his younger sister. Serena nodded. "I had no idea you were into those. I thought they always scared you."
"They don't scare me!" Serena snapped as she narrowed her eyes. Then she wrapped her arms around the book and held it against her chest. "They just creep me out a little. That's all." Her voice was now quiet. "But I'd like to think that I've gotten over my fear of ghosts and other supernatural beings. And besides, your little pranks don't scare me, either. I just like to play along so you think you scared me."
Only moments after Serena gave her explanation, there was an ear-piercing screech. The screams of a man and woman echoing through the parking center was followed by the sound of shattering glass. Jason and Daniel had become frozen with fear at the unexpected noise. Serena dropped the ghost novel and clasped her hands over her mouth to keep from screaming. When the noise had ceased, the startled trio slowly turned around and glanced behind them. Their hearts were bouncing off the walls of their chests, eyes wide and full of fear. On the ground, only a few feet behind them, were dark skid marks along with shards of broken glass and blood droplets surrounding a small pool of blood.
Daniel swallowed hard before he whispered, "Where did that come from?" His hazel eyes darted from the skid marks to the broken glass shards. "That wasn't there before," he mentioned while taking a step forward.
"Maybe we just didn't notice it," Jason replied. He placed Serena's textbook down on the cool concrete before he hesitantly made his way over to one of the dark skid marks. Jason cracked his knuckles as he knelt down in front of it. Then he reached down with his left hand and smoothed his fingers over the blemish on the concrete.
"But...what about...that sound?" the blonde stammered, terror filling her eyes. "What caused it?"
"The skid marks...and the blood...have been here for a while," Jason said, ignoring both of his sister's questions. He mumbled his findings just loud enough for Serena and Daniel to hear.
"Maybe we should just leave here," stammered Serena as she reached for her books.
"Don't let your fears get the best of you, Serena," Daniel told her. He was able to push the fear that was in him aside before trying to calm Jason's sister. "I can't imagine what caused that sound, but as for the skid marks...I'm not so sure. We probably just didn't notice them since we were talking, like Jason said."
"You can stay here and come up with your elaborate theories," Serena snapped at Daniel with her books in her hands again, "but I'm leaving! I'm not spending one more second in this place!" Jason heard Serena's outburst and glanced back at her as he rose to his feet. Just as Serena turned around and took a few steps toward the exit, she stopped dead in her tracks. Her face turned pale and the books fell from her grasp once more. "Did you...just...feel something?" stuttered Serena.
"Feel what, Serena?" Jason wanted to know as he made his way to Serena's side. "What's wrong? What are you talking about?"
"It feels like...something just...went right through me," Serena replied just above a whisper, visibly shaken with her fear resurfacing. "I feel...a lot weaker. It's as if someone or something has robbed me of my energy."
"Your loss of energy...is nothing compared to what you're about to lose."
I awoke early in a cold sweat. I sat up and combed my fingers through my long hair. I just stared at the wall. "What the hell was that?" I mumbled under my breath. Although nightmares have been a regular occurrence for me lately, I was able to forget about them as soon as I woke up. However, this one seemed too real...Like I had actually been there, watching the whole thing. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my nightmares have been getting worse and worse whenever I had one. And all too real.
Once I felt that the nightmare was starting to fade like always, I closed my eyes for a moment, steadying my breathing and controlling my unnecessary shivering. Taking a deep breath, I let my head hit the pillows. Right when I had gotten warm and comfortable, my alarm clock started buzzing. I growled and reached over, slamming my right hand on the clock. When the alarm had ceased buzzing, I let my hand slide off the clock and rest alongside my bed.
"It can't be time for me to get up already," I complained under my breath. With my eyes still closed, I grabbed my blanket and pulled it over my face. I had laid there for about ten minutes before the alarm clock buzzed again. Just as I was about to smack it again, it stopped. "Damn it." I shoved my blanket away from me and sat up. I grabbed my hairbrush from my nightstand and brushed my hair. I rubbed my eyes while glancing out the window. The gloomy sky had opened up and it began to rain steadily. The sound of the steady pattering rain was rather calming and almost put me back to sleep. "Fuck this. I'm going back to bed," I said as I rested my head on the pillows again. Just then, a deafening clap of thunder jolted me back up. "All right, I'm awake! I'm awake!" I groaned.
I sat on the edge of my bed for a minute before standing up to stretch. Then I yawned as I staggered out of my room to the kitchen. I had to adjust the strap of my nightshirt after it slid off my shoulder, making my way around the table to the counter. Once in the kitchen, I stood over the counter and stared at the time on the microwave. It was only a quarter until seven.
"Damn. I hate waking up early if I don't have to," I complained. I was in one of those stages where I knew what I was doing, but I couldn't fully register my actions as I poured myself a glass of cold lemon tea. I sat down at the small round table and took a sip of my drink. When I placed my glass down, my eyes came across the newspaper. It was on the other side of the table. Even though I didn't have my glasses on, I could see that the section open on top were the horoscopes. "I guess Miranda bought this after her run earlier," I said to myself as I reached across the table and grabbed the damp edge of the newspaper. I took the horoscope section and tossed it aside. I opened the first section that contained the major headlines.
I read through a few articles before I heard her door open. From the corner of my eye, I saw Miranda standing there, staring at me with a smile on her face. "Good morning, Autumn," she said to me. "I've rarely seen you up this early. Normally you're always sleeping in."
I didn't even take my eyes away from the paper as I told her, "I had no intention of waking up this early. I couldn't get back to sleep, so I just came out here to get a drink." I folded the paper and tossed it back to the other side of the table as I said, "I'm surprised reading the paper hasn't put me back to sleep."
"So I guess that means there was nothing of interest?" Miranda asked as she flipped her medium-length locks off her shoulder. I just replied with a simple nod. I wasn't going to tell her the real reason why I couldn't get back to sleep. To her, I was the kind of person who didn't scare easily. She'd never believe that a nightmare, although she knew I'd been having them more and more recently, would keep me from getting back to sleep. I thought nothing more of it and went to the living room and sat down in the chair by the sofa. Miranda joined me in the living room and took a seat on the sofa. She brushed her dark brunette bangs behind her ear before reaching for the remote on the coffee table. "Maybe there will be something on the early news," Miranda mentioned as she increased the volume. As we sat there, we listened to the end of the weather report.
"The overall outlook for this mild summer day is more thundershowers," reported the meteorologist. "Though the system has shown signs of weakening, we'll just keep the possibility for more rain open for the next few days."
After hearing that, Miranda began to complain. "More rain. When will it end?" All of the sudden, the words "BREAKING NEWS" in large red lettering flashed across the screen. I waved my hand at Miranda, signaling for her to be quiet.
"We have breaking news this morning," the newscaster announced. "Just a few hours ago, three local college students were found dead this morning. The bodies were discovered in an abandoned parking center right outside of the old emergency room in downtown Philadelphia. The cause of their deaths has yet to be determined. The only information authorities have released is that the bodies have been there for only several hours prior to their discovery. As soon as we find out more information, we'll let you know."
When the news paused for commercials, Miranda kept reading the headlines that continued to scroll across the bottom of the screen. I rose from my seat and took the remote from her. I muted the television and went back into the kitchen.
"I wonder how something like that could happen," Miranda said. "You normally don't hear about this sort of thing around here. Well, not to that extent."
Without realizing it, my thoughts just slipped from my mouth. "No way. It...it can't be."
"What are you talking about, Autumn?" I heard Miranda ask. I couldn't bring myself to answer her. Not yet. I shook my head and sat down at the table. Miranda came over and sat across from me. "What are you talking about?" she repeated.
"Never mind," I replied. I didn't want to talk about it, so I tried to get her mind going in another direction away from what I had just said. "Wait a minute. Isn't your mother a Lieutenant?" Miranda nodded her head once. I went over to the kitchen counter and grabbed the cordless phone. I tossed the phone to her and said, "Why don't you call her and find out if she knows anything. This is her jurisdiction, so she might know something."
Just as Miranda punched the first digit of her mother's work number, the phone rang. That startled her, for she dropped the phone. "Damn," she grumbled as she took a deep breath. Miranda picked up the phone and checked the call-ID to see who was calling. "Speak of the devil," she said. It was her mother. While Miranda was trying to receive information from her mother, I went back to the living room and tried to wrap my brain around what was going on. This was the first time a nightmare I had actually became reality. Maybe it was just a coincidence? That's all I could hope it was.
I sat there, trying to force the nightmare from my mind while attemptingto think of any logical explanation. "This doesn't sound like a typical murder," I said to myself. "Were they being targeted for some reason? Or maybe they were just at the wrong place at the wrong time." After a few minutes, I heard Miranda sigh heavily. I glanced in her direction and watched as she slowly placed the phone on the table. "Well? Was she able to tell you anything?" I asked as I rose from the sofa.
"Two of the people that were discovered...she'd never heard of before," began Miranda. "But the third one...He was her friend's nephew," she explained to me as her voice grew quiet.
"Was she able to tell you how they died?" I asked almost hesitantly.
"They're not sure yet," replied Miranda. "It could be another hour or so before they find out." After she told me what she knew, Miranda stood up and stretched. "Let's just try to forget about this for now," she mentioned as she glanced at me.
"I couldn't agree with you more," I replied, lying through my teeth. I had to find out what happened. I had to find out the meaning of the nightmares I've been having, especially since now one of them actually seemed to have become reality. I didn't put much thought into what I was about to say next. It kind of just slipped out. "I think I might go for a walk."
When I read her expression, I could tell she thought I was insane. "You're not serious, are you?" Miranda asked, wondering if she should believe what she had just heard.
"I'm only kidding. Relax," I said as a smile graced my lips. I had to save myself before I tripped up. "I was just thinking about going to the store. I realized we're almost out of pet food," I told her on my way back to my room. When I opened my door, my orange cat walked out and jumped on the sofa. "If you want me to pick up anything for you, just let me know." Before I closed my door, I heard Miranda mumble something under her breath, but I couldn't make out what she had said.
In my room, I locked the door and went straight for my closet. After rummaging through everything for a minute, I finally found a suitable outfit. I took my black tank top from the hanger, along with a pair of faded jeans, and tossed them on my bed. I then went over to my dresser and found the other necessary items that I needed before I changed. I took my nightclothes and just tossed them in the basket I kept right inside my bathroom.
Back at my dresser, I reached into a small dish where I kept some of my jewelry. I put on my two silver chain necklaces prior to straightening my hair. Once I had my hair pulled back the way I liked it, I grabbed my silver thumb ring and put it on. When I felt that I had made myself decent enough to go outside, I grabbed my watch and my black jacket. Just before I left my room, I caught a glimpse of the calendar hanging next to my dresser. It was September 2. I had placed a white rose sticker in that box. It was exactly one year ago today that my close friend, Luke, was killed. Rumor had it that he committed suicide, but I didn't believe it. I knew him better than anyone, and he wasn't that kind of person. Ever since that day, I've been having nightmares, although with how horrible they have been, I don't think I'd call them nightmares. Lately, they've been getting worse. I shook my head and stepped into the living room. I went over to the closet by the front door and pulled out my shoes. Once I slipped them on, I heard Miranda's door close.
"Wait for me," I heard Miranda say to me. I turned around and saw her place her wallet in her back pocket. As soon as she fastened the last button of her navy shirt, she took the remote and turned the television off. Then she joined me by the front door and slid on her shoes. As she put on her coat, she mentioned, "I think I'll go with you." I just shrugged my shoulders and didn't say a word as we left.
Outside, the weather seemed to have taken a slight turn for the better. The rain had eased up to nothing more than a mere drizzle. However, the dark storm clouds remained and once in a while a rumble of thunder could be heard. As we walked down the street, neither of us said a word. I don't know why Miranda was abnormally quiet, but I had too much on my mind and wasn't really up for talking at the moment.
"Are you feeling all right, Autumn?" Miranda wanted to know as we stopped at the street corner. "I know you tend to be quiet, but you're never this quiet," she pointed out.
While we crossed the street, I just sighed before my usual response. "I'm fine. I'm just...a little tied still."
"Por favor, ayúdame."
Right then I froze. I stopped dead in my tracks right in the middle of the street. Hearing the whisper in my ear nearly made my heart stop. Never before has anything like this ever happened to me. I waited to see if I would hear it again, but there was nothing. Figuring that it was just my mind playing tricks on me, I took a deep breath and calmed myself. That was until I just happened to take a glace down the street and saw the shadow of a dark figure staggering down the middle of the road. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Miranda come back to my side.
"Autumn?" Miranda asked. I could hear her, but for some reason I couldn't bring myself to respond. I was too focused on the shadow. "What are you staring at?" I was snapped out of my trance when I felt Miranda place her hand on my shoulder and nudge me a little. "What were you staring at?" she asked again when I looked at her before glancing around.
"Isn't this the street that leads to the abandoned parking center?" I wondered when I saw the large building down the street. "You know, the place where those college students were discovered?"
"Yes, it is," an irritated Miranda replied as she took a step back. By the tone of her voice, she sounded almost confused. I knew she was wanting to know more before she asked, "What does that have to do with anything?" I didn't reply as I tried to take a few steps down the street. I wasn't even able to take two steps when Miranda grabbed my arm and stopped me. "Please tell me you're not thinking about going down there, are you?" she demanded to know.
"Why not?" I wanted to know as I glanced back at Miranda. "I don't see the harm in it." I freed my arm from Miranda's grasp and continued to walk down the street. Nearing my destination, I saw the same figure again. It remained motionless as it stood only yards in front of me.
"Por favor, ayúdame."
What...or rather, who...was that and why did they keep asking me for help?
"Autumn!" Miranda yelled as I felt her grab my arm. Startled, I spun around, my heart racing. "Why do you keep spacing out like that? What's going on?"
"N-nothing," I stuttered once I had gathered myself some. I didn't think Miranda would believe me, but I asked her the question that I had meant to earlier. "You didn't see anything? Or hear anything?" I asked almost uncertainly. I could instantly see the confusion in her expression as she shook her head. "Never mind. Forget I said anything." When I glanced back down the street, the shadow had vanished. "Where did it go?" I asked under my breath.
"You better not be trying to scare me like you have before," Miranda stated. I shook my head. "Then let's go. I want to go to the store, then get back home before it begins to storm again," she said. In spite of that, I continued on my way to the parking deck. I heard Miranda sigh as I left. I knew she was following me because I could hear her footsteps behind me. When she caught up to me, she asked, "What exactly did you see and hear just now?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," I replied. When I glanced over at Miranda, I realized that she was being serious by the glare in her eyes. I cleared my throat before replying, "I saw a dark shadow. I thought I was seeing things...That was until I heard it whisper something."
"Well? What did it say?" Miranda wanted to know.
"Por favor, ayúdame." I said quietly.
"Por-what?" a puzzled Miranda questioned. "I don't understand French. What does that mean?"
"It's not French. It's Spanish." After correcting Miranda, who in return rolled her eyes at me, I repeated the statement that I heard the shadow whisper. ""Por favor, ayúdame. It means 'Please help me'. That's all it kept saying." Before we knew it, we had made it to the parking deck. "So this is where those three people were discovered," I mentioned calmy as I scanned my eyes around the area. Just then, I heard Miranda's cell phone ring. As she stepped away from me to answer it, I said, "You'd figure that there'd be something left if anyone had-" Before I could finish my statement, I felt something quickly force its way through me. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck and arms stand on end. "What...was that?" I whispered under my breath.
"I just received a call from my boyfriend's cousin," I heard Miranda tell me. "She was wondering-" Right then, there was a blood-curdling shriek that sent a chill down my spine. I'm sure Miranda must've heard it, for she didn't say a word. I slowly turned my head to the left, the direction from where the shriek came from. Only a few feet away from us were the skid marks, the blood droplets, and the shattered glass.
"Where did that come from?" I asked Miranda in a hushed tone.
"I don't know and I don't think I want to know!" Miranda replied in the same manner, only rather hurriedly. Then she grabbed my arm and said, "Julie is waiting for us at the hospital! Now let's go!" With my arm still tight in her grasp, she pulled me away and we fled from the parking deck to the hospital.
Once at the hospital, I sat down on the only dry bench around. I watched as Miranda, who was still rather shaken by the incident, sit beside me. She closed her eyes and rested her face in the palm of her hands. After a moment, I turned to my friend.
"Before all that happened, what were you going to tell me about Julie?" I wanted to know, acting like nothing had occurred.
"Huh?" Miranda asked as she glanced over at me. I narrowed my eyes and crossed my arms. "Oh, right. Julie heard that we were asking about what happened to those three people this morning. Being that my mother knew one of the victims, she agreed to share some information with us." Miranda brushed her damp bangs behind her ear as she continued by saying, "She still has one more body to examine. She said it shouldn't take her that long." Miranda then crossed her arms and leaned back on the bench.
"Well, can we at least go inside?" I asked, now getting irritated. "It's raining out here and I'm beginning to feel a chill in the air." Not waiting for her response, I stood up and entered the waiting room. I looked behind me and noticed Miranda was now following me.
Upon entering the waiting room, I immediately glanced around for an empty seat. Despite the seemingly large number of patients waiting to be seen by a doctor, I was able to find a few open seats in the corner for Miranda and myself. Almost as soon as Miranda sat down, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a few dollars.
"Did you want anything to eat or drink?" Miranda asked me as she stood back up.
"No, thank you," I replied. While Miranda was over at the vending machines, I leaned back in my chair and glanced out the window. However, someone sitting by the window in the opposite corner caught my eye.
Sitting alone across from me was a young woman. Her dirty wavy hair fell over her shoulders, a few stray brunette strands covering her right eye. Her round eyes had a light hue to them; they looked almost milky. Her blouse and skirt were stained with dried blood and dirt. On her arms and legs were several scratches and bruises, and two long lacerations I could see going around her left shin to her calf that I'm guessing were from a serrated blade with the way her flesh was torn. Her bottom lip was a bit swollen, blood trickling from the corner of her mouth. She slowly picked her head up and stared at me. Everything grew silent when she opened her mouth. My hands went cold.
"Por favor, ayúdame."
"How can I help you?" I whispered back, not realizing I had done so. "What do you want me to do?"
"How can you help who?" Miranda wondered as she sat back down next to me. "What are you staring at?"
"Nothing," I replied as I shook my head and rubbed my eyes.
Before I could say another word, I glanced up and noticed that Julie had entered the waiting room. Her long auburn hair wasn't in a ponytail like she normally wore it. Miranda took another sip of water as she rose to her feet. With a tired smile on her face, Julie motioned for Miranda and I to follow her. Once I had risen to my feet, I placed my hands in the pockets of my jacket, hoping to warm them. Just as I was about to enter the hallway that led to Julie's office, I took one last glimpse of the corner where the mysterious woman had been. However, she had disappeared. It was as if she hadn't been there at all.
"I must be hallucinating," I mumbled. I kept my eyes closed for a second before joining Miranda and Julie in the office.
"So glad you could finally join us," Miranda said jokingly as I shut the door. I said nothing as I sat down in the chair next to Miranda. We waited patiently as Julie finished typing the last of her reports. As Julie frantically typed away, Miranda leaned over to me and whispered, "What do you think happened to those three?" All I did was shrug my shoulders.
Once Julie had completed her report, she took off her glasses as she asked, "What exactly was it that you wanted to know again?"
"We were wondering if you could tell us anything about the people that had been discovered earlier," I answered almost hesitantly.
Knowing what Julie's response would be, for she leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms, Miranda broke in and said, "I understand that you might not be able to tell us a whole lot, but please! One of them was a friend of mine! I want to know what happened!"
"Take it easy," Julie said as she closed her eyes. Then a faint smile pulled at her lips. "I should be able to tell you what you want when my boss sends me the final reports." Only seconds after Julie spoke, there was a knock on the door. "Maybe these are the results," Julie mentioned as she rose from her desk and went to answer the door. Miranda and I sat in silence, hoping to overhear what Julie and her intern were talking about. Unfortunately, all we able to hear was Julie saying, "Thank you," before shutting the door.
"Are those the autopsy reports?" a curious Miranda wanted to know. Julie nodded as she sat back down at her desk. She opened the manila envelope and took out the papers. She was only given the opportunity to skim over the results before Miranda asked, "Well? What do they say?"
"Not much, unfortunately," replied Julie, sounding rather disappointed. "There's no definite cause of death." Confused, Miranda and I glanced at each other for a second before turning our attention back to Julie. "They tested negative for any foreign toxins and there were no signs of physical trauma." Then she sighed before saying, "Their health records showed that they were all in perfect health." After telling us what was stated in the reports, Julie placed the papers on top of the envelope. I didn't think there was anymore she could tell us, so I stared out the window. "I guess I'll have to go back and check everything again," I heard Julie mention. "Just to make sure nothing was botched up." Just as Julie was about to stand up, she must've caught a glimpse of me, for she asked, "Is everything all right, Autumn?"
"I'm fine," I replied. "I'm just...thinking." Julie nodded as she picked up the envelope and prepared to go back down to the morgue. Before Julie left, I thought I would ask, "Oh, Julie? May I use your computer?"
"Yes, you may," answered Julie with a smile. "If you don't mind me asking, what did you need to look up?"
Just as I opened my mouth to respond, Miranda interrupted and said, "Autumn thinks she's seeing ghosts." I turned away and shook my head.
"Search for what you like," Julie mentioned, trying not to laugh. "I'll try not to be gone for too long." With having said that, Julie left us alone in her office.
"Thanks for making me sound like I'm crazy," I told my friend flatly when the door clicked shut.
"No problem," Miranda replied with a small grin. Obviously finding nothing humorous about Miranda's comment, I just stared at her. After a moment, I rolled my eyes and sat down at Julie's desk. As I clicked a few keys and began my search, Miranda said, "Sorry. I couldn't resist." When she finally wiped the grin from her face, she asked, "Seriously, what are you searching for?"
"I'm looking up any old ghost stories or legends," I answered without even taking my eyes away from the computer screen. "Maybe one will sound similar to my situation...I hope."
As I continued my search throughout cyberspace, I noticed Miranda pick up a magazine and begin to thumb through it. Not one word was spoken, for we both had something occupying our minds. Other than the sounds of me clicking away at the computer and Miranda turning the pages of the magazine, all that could be heard was the rumbling thunder and the pouring rain. After visiting several sites and finding no useful information, I sighed heavily and leaned back in the chair. Miranda closed the magazine and tossed it back on the desk.
"Any luck?" Miranda wanted to know.
"What exactly did you notice earlier?"
"I told you about the mysterious shadow that I saw on the way here," I began. "I thought my mind was playing tricks on me until I heard it whisper something in my ear." I paused for a second as I leaned forward and placed my hands flat on the desk. "But in the waiting room...I saw an actual apparition. She whispered the same thing as the shadow."
"So that's what you were staring at?" Miranda questioned. I nodded. "Maybe you should try another search, but only mention what you just told me." As I began typing again, Miranda pointed out, "And maybe you should keep it within the Philadelphia area. That might narrow it down some."
I did what Miranda had suggested. After typing in the new information, my results were greatly narrowed. Once I had skimmed through a few pages, something caught my eye.
"This sounds promising," I mentioned as I clicked on the link. Miranda leaned forward and waited for me to explain what I had found. "It's something called...The Messenger," I said. Only seconds after saying what the site was called, the lights began to flicker.
"I suggest that you hurry up and read what that site has to say before the power goes out," Miranda suggested as she rose to her feet. "I'm going to check on Julie. Maybe she needs help."
"All right," I said as I began to read the information. As soon as Miranda left the office, the lights ceased flickering. I then cracked my knuckles before reading the story aloud to myself.
"The Messenger, as it is often called, has only been reported being seen less than eight times over the last two years," I read. "There are rumored to be two stages of The Messenger. To read about the first stage, please go to the next page." I rested my chin in the palm of my hand as I clicked to go to the next page. While I waited for it to load, I turned around and closed the blinds.
"The first stage, or sighting, is usually a dark shadow or mist," I read when the page had finished loading. "Once it had grabbed someone's attention, it begs for help. Most people that claimed to have seen this shadow ignored it or paid it no attention. The small amount of people who dove deeper into finding out whom or what the shadow is have seen the second stage, or sighting."
"What does this mean?" I mumbled under my breath as I waited for the next page to load. When it did, the first thing I saw was an image at the top of the page. "That's exactly what I saw!" I exclaimed, referring to the image that was the first sighting. "But...This isn't making any sense." Hoping to finally receive some answers, I continued reading on.
"The second stage, or sighting, has been rarely seen," I read. After reading that, I was growing more and more confused. "The dark mist had now become an apparition, or ghost-like figure, of a person still begging for help. However, should one try to converse with The Messenger, the results can be-" Before I could finish reading the sentence, the power went off.