In My Mind's Eye

Chapter one -- The First Sighting
~*~

Efad Milton sighed and drearily ran her fingers across the empty page of her sketchpad. 'Why'd I get this out?' She wondered. 'I have nothing to draw...' She distractedly fingered her pencil and touched the point to the page, moving it in a seemingly meaningless manner. When she glanced back at what she thought would be scribbles, she noticed that the "scribbles" had taken the form of a male, Anime-like face.

Curious, she continued to sketch slowly, adding hair around the face, a neck, and finally the rest of the body, making him tall enough to be 15 or 16. She quickly outlined the pencil lines with a sharp-point pen, erased the pencil underneath, and picked out the hair, eye and clothing color. The Anime boy was soon finished, his ebony hair framing his face and falling around his neck. His brown eyes were stunningly realistic (which caused Efad to wonder how on earth she managed such a feat), and seemed to almost stare at the girl as she observed her work. The final touches, his clothes, were a black tee-shirt, black jeans, a red scarf around his neck, and sneakers.

Efad nodded in satisfaction. "I don't know how I did that, but I did," she muttered to herself. "Now, what am I going to call you...?" The girl mentally filed through boy's names she'd heard recently, but after finding none to her liking, began to physically search her CD's for an artist's name she could borrow. She finally found a name that seemed to match. "Jacen," she said quietly. "That suits him." Finding her outlining pen again, she quickly wrote the name below the picture she'd just finished and closed her sketchbook.

~*~

The next day, Efad hopped on her bike and pedaled out of the Milton's driveway down the sidewalk towards her church. It took her five minutes to reach the large building, park her bike and begin to walk across the street to the "Big House", or the church youth building. Five teenage boys were already playing a game of football in the front yard of the house. The girl waved to them as she approached, grinning.

"Hey guys!"

The quarterback, a boy shorter than the rest with sandy brown hair, an unmistakeable red and white polka-dotted hat, and a large grin, waved back. "Hey Efad," he called out. "Wanna play?"

"Sure, just as long as the teams are ok. Pass it here, Christien!" The boy threw a perfect spiral right into Efad's hands. Another boy came up behind her, however, and tackled her before she could throw it back.

Efad cried out as she hit the ground, somehow on top of her tackler. A familiar cackling laugh echoed in her ear. "Gotcha!"

"Aaron!" She tried to worm her way out of the bear-hug the boy had on her. "Since when did we start tackle...?"

He finally released his captive, and she rolled off of him onto the ground. "From the moment you had your hands the ball. Any more questions?" He ran a hand through his dark, neck-length hair and grinned before helping her to her feet.

"Just go and change the rules, why don't you?" A third asked, crossing his arms. His blond hair was hidden underneath a white Alabama hat, but the warm brown eyes underneath the brim shone with mirth. "Pass it here!"

Efad looked at Aaron through the corner of her eye. "Sure, Justin, but only if SOMEone doesn't tackle me again..."

Just as she threw the ball, the fourth and fifth boys teamed up against Justin before he could move. One, whose hair and eyes were similar to Aaron's, intercepted the ball, while the other one tackled the blond. "YES! Way to go, Kevin!" Aaron cheered to the boy still standing.

Kevin cackled madly and looked down at Brian, the boy who had tackled Justin. His jet black hair was unruly from the tackle, while his eyes -one blue, one green- were closed while he laughed. "C'mon, Bri, let 'im up."

Justin roughly removed the younger boy from him and stood, brushing off his shirt. "Geez, are y'all just out to get me, or what?"

"I'd say 'or what'," Efad replied through a laugh. "Be nice, y'all...no more tackling."

"Darn," the five boys chorused.

~*~

Twenty minutes and two mild injuries later, the six trouped into the "Big House" and all flopped down on the green couches inside. Efad took off her hat and wiped the sweat from her forehead, surveying the room in a glance.

"Man, it feels good to be inside," Justin moaned, nursing his hurt wrist. "There's something to be said about air conditioning."

Brian nodded and sighed. "Amen, brother."

"Bri, we're cousins, remember?"

"You can't take a joke..."

Aaron laughed and winced as he put pressure on his twisted ankle. "Someone, anyone... next time I try that kick-to-the-knees to trip someone again, remind me of just how much it hurt when Justin landed on my leg..."

"No problem." Kevin threw a small beanbag at him, which he had found in his seat after he had sat down. "Then we'll remind the Jr. High kids to pick up after themselves."

Christien crossed his arms. "Hey, now... I'm still in Jr. High, let me remind you."

"Okay, then you can be in charge of picking up things!" Brian rested the back of his head in the palms of his hands as he leaned back on the couch. "It wasn't my fault that was left out..."

While the five boys bantered amongst themselves, Efad was staring off into space for no apparent reason, other than to think. She absently was mentally reminded of the sketch she'd done earlier in the day and began to wonder what had been the inspiration. Her head sort of turned on its own so that she could see the other half of the youth room. But something caught her attention out of the corner of her eye...

A boy clad in all black was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, his arms haughtily crossed. A flash of red caused Efad to jump, trying to see the person who had entered without her noticing.

No one was there.

Efad cried out in fright and fell off of the couch, still staring at the kitchen door. Aaron, despite his hurt ankle, leapt to his feet, as did Kevin and Christien. The girl pointed a shaky finger towards the doorway, too horrified to speak.

"Efad, what is it?" Aaron asked, raising an eyebrow.

She gulped and fought for her voice. "I--I saw someone there," she stuttered, still pointing.

Kevin looked at the girl, through the doorway, and back at her skeptically. "The security system would've recorded the door opening if someone else had come in," he scoffed, walking to the front door in the hall and opening it for emphasis. An electronic 'ding-dong' sound echoed from another room in the back of the building.

Now frustrated, Efad managed to stand and dashed to the kitchen door. "But there WAS someone here! I KNOW I saw a person -a teenage boy- standing in the doorway!" She looked in the kitchen, expecting to see the boy in black sitting on a countertop.

The room was empty.

A shiver passed up and down the girl's spine as Christien spoke. "I guess we'll just chalk it up to your overactive imagination and be done with it. Anyone up for cards?"

The remaining four boys voiced their interest as the youngest brought out a deck from his back pocket. Efad went into the kitchen, examining the cabenets and closets. She was still the only person inside the room. She sighed angrily and hit her fist on the countertop. "I swear, I KNOW what I saw," she growled to herself.

Another flash of red caught her eye, this time right beside her. She jumped back and screamed, attracting the attention of her five friends.

"Did you see your guy again?" Justin asked sarcastically.

Kevin laughed once at his comment. "Yeah, I bet she saw--" he went into a deep, dramatic voice. "--the Ghost of the Big House... Wah-ah-ah!" His menacing cackle caused the other four to burst into a fit of laughter.

"You're weird, Kev," Aaron managed to say as his laughing subsided.

"So? It hasn't bothered anyone else before."

Efad let her arms hang hopelessly at her sides, sighing. Now her friends didn't believe her... and on top of that, they didn't care. "But I know what I saw," she whispered to herself, sighing and hanging her head in disappointment. There HAD to have been someone in the kitchen...

But where did he go?