CHAPTER ONE:

Introductions.

'Connor! Get up!'
The voice drifted up the stairs and into the loft. Connor, had once again, fallen asleep in front of his computer. The screen was flashing black and white and odd sounds emitted from the silver speakers on its' sides. Connors' head rested on the uncomfortable keyboard, his black hair flattened on one side. He opened his eyes slowly and raised his head. The teenager looked at the computer screen and quickly hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete a small table popped up on the screen as he clicked End Task with his cursor. He went to the start menu and shutdown the machine. As the shutdown tone played in the background Connor swiveled around in his desk chair and got up, his head spinning from a late night of writing.
Connor was what you would call an under appreciated artist. He spent late nights up writing stories for his friends to read. He was always the first to finish a book in English class and to write a narrative for an assignment. He breezed through exams without worry and always scored outstanding marks. But, unfortunately this did not sit well with his peers. Connor was often the topic of many jokes as he walked past what was considered the cool group. This group was mainly made up of people who would do anything with anyone. Connor was not an easily led person. He was happy with who he was and intended to stay that way. His friends consisted of two people; they were the leftovers when everyone chose their friends on the first day of high school. Stella, Rupert and Connor had formed a strong friendship over only five years. They would always say that the fates had brought them together, when, they knew deep down they were all each other had.
As he pulled off his London Underground shirt he walked over to the mirror. He discarded the shirt and looked his topless self up and down. He was pale skinned with black hair and washed out blue eyes. He had a thin frame and was rather tall, another thing that didn't please the others in his class. The other young-men in his class had tanned skin and bleached hair, whether it was authentic or not. The girls were mostly peroxide blondes with fake tans and pigtails. They were always eating lollypops and twirling their hair. But, there weren't just girls in pink and surfers at his school. There was a small group of Gothic's who hung around cemeteries. They would perform séances and other rituals of witchcraft.
Connor ran a comb quickly through his hair and pulled on his white school shirt. He buttoned it up quickly and roughly tied a tie around his neck. Connor pulled his grey school trousers on and did them up when he heard a call from downstairs.
'Connor! Get down here now!' His fathers rough voice once again drifted up the stairs. Connor basically lived in the loft. It had a low sloping ceiling. The room was rather large. His bed was in one corner, his desk and computer in the other. He had various posters of famous authors; Edgar Alan- Poe stared down at him from his ceiling and William Shakespeare loomed over his desk.
Connor finally left his room with his calico schoolbag and walked down the spiral staircase towards the kitchen. He lent over the tabletop and through the alcove where he could see his father.
Connors mother had left when he was young. She had disappeared without a trace when Connor was seven years old. His father had contacted the police and filed a missing persons report. The police had done all they could, searched all over England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland but could not find her anywhere. They had tried tracking her credit card details but it was to no avail. His father worked in Belfast as an Electrician. Connor worked in the local bookstore, mostly hanging around the science fiction and literature sections.
Connors' father, turned around as his son poked his head through the alcove.
'Well good afternoon' he said sarcastically giving his son a small smile. His father had a slowly graying beard. His black hair had streaks of silver running through it. Connor looked just like a younger version of his father. He had the same hair and eyes. Their hair was dead straight and a glossy black. Their almond shaped eyes looked out on the world with a certain realism no one else could see but them. His father and him seemed to communicate without words. Before Connor could finish his train of thought the phone rang with a loud high-pitched sound. His father immediately picked up the phone.
'Hello. Axel Lewis.' His father said in a strong English accent. Connor and his father had moved to Ireland after his mother had disappeared. They used to live in Canterbury. Although his father spoke with the words of an Englishman, Connor had a thick and unmistakable Irish accent.
Axel spoke on the phone for a few moments before hanging it up on the receiver. He sighed and let his weary shoulders fall. He turned to his son and looked at him with sorry eyes. 'Connor. I've got a call. Mrs. Scallows' television has gone bad again and it needs rewiring.' He reached down and pulled a ceramic bowl out from the cupboard below the kitchen bench and placed it in front of Connor. 'You'll have to get yourself some breakfast. I have to go.' Connors father fetched his toolbox and belt and headed out the door. 'I'll see you this afternoon'
Before Connor could farewell his father he had disappeared out the door and was walking down the gravel path. The lone boy sighed and went over to the other side of the bench and to the pantry. He flicked the light switch on and looked around it. He reached for a box of cereal and took it out of the pantry, switching off the light in the process. As he walked out he opened the fridge and grasped a carton of milk. He placed the cereal and milk on the bench and fetched himself a spoon. He poured the cereal in until the bowl was half full and filled the rest up with milk. Connor always liked his cereal soggy and wet. His friends thought it was absolutely disgusting but he liked it, it saved time wasted on chewing, time he could use to write his novel.
Just as he slurped down the dregs of his cereal the doorbell rang. Connor quickly placed the bowl in the sink and walked to the front door, checking through the peephole to see whom it was. Upon seeing a familiar face he undid the latch and opened the door. As the door opened he revealed to his eyes one of his best friends. Rupert looked at him, his brown, mousy hair sat untidily on the top of his thin face. He smiled back at his friend, his green eyes gleaming.
'Hi mate!' he said cheerily as he let himself in the door. Connor was used to Rupert dropping by of a morning. His home life wasn't the best and he seemed to do anything to get away from it. His parents were constantly fighting and at each others' throats. Rupert, like Connor was an only child. His mother had spent many nights sleeping on the floor in Ruperts' room just to get away from her disorderly husband. His father would spend almost every night at the local pub drinking his hangover away and in turn getting another one. But, Rupert seemed to soldier on, no matter what happened to him. Connor admired his friend for his strong-will. On the outside Rupert was untroubled and happy. But, on the inside Connor could tell his best friends' heart was truly breaking. If he had room in his own house Connor would have Rupert live with him.
'Can I get some breakfast?' Rupert asked, making his way to the kitchen. 'I didn't have time to this morning. Left the house awfully quickly this morning.'
'Sure' Connor said. For once he realized how alien his own voice sounded. He hadn't uttered a single word since last night. His voice was husky and breathless. Connor cleared his throat and spoke again. 'There's some cereal or bread in the pantry.'
'Thanks mate.' Rupert said appreciatively as he walked to the pantry and pulled an un-sliced loaf of bread out and laid it on the cutting board. Ruperts' clothes were old and worn. Bought from the second-hand clothing pool at the school uniform shop. They were the oldest of the old clothes. The shirt was going slightly yellow and his grey woven pants hand been darned several times. The tie he wore around his neck was slowly fading from a once dark navy blue colour to a lighter version of its former self.
Connor began to chew on his nails. It was a habit of his, something that he had done ever since the beginning of high school. The hefty workload along with his daily routine of getting pushed around wasn't a good way to stop him biting his already horrible nails.
'So,' Rupert began 'What have we got on today?'
Connor and Rupert were in the same class, so was Stella. It was good; at least he had some friends in his class. Connor reached for his satchel and opened it; he pulled out an organizer and flicked through to his school timetable. He found Tuesday and scanned the column.
'History and English' Connor said robotically. The only good thing about Tuesdays was that it was the day when the rest of the school had afternoon sport. The two senior years - eleven and twelve - got the whole afternoon off to do what they pleased. Most of the grade went into the city and had afternoon meetings over hot chocolate or Milkshakes. But, Connor and his friends stayed in the library, either on the Internet checking e-mails, reading or writing. Connor often took this afternoon to check his e-mails. He never got many, just some from relatives in Australia and America and loads of Spam.
Rupert sighed deeply as he spread some raspberry jam on two slices of un- toasted bread. 'Well, as usual another day of routine' he said as he bit into the bread.
'Aren't you going to toast that?' Connor asked, looking at Ruperts' strange eating habits. It was something he was used to. Rupert ate strange combinations of food, he would eat avocado and honey on sandwiches or apple and peanut butter.
Rupert shrugged. 'Can't be bothered' he said as he finished the last piece of white bread. He placed the plate carefully into the sink and washed his hands in the basin. 'Well, we'd better get going' Rupert said, making his way around to Connors side of the bench.
'Yeah' Connor said monotonously. He picked up his satchel, as did Rupert and they walked out into the front yard.
Connor lived on the bottom floor of a high-rise tenament flat; five other families in a rather poor area of Belfast shared it. Connor and his father were better off than most families. They could afford almost anything they needed but still lived week to week often wondering if they would eat at all, but they could always find some money somewhere to see them through for just a little while longer.
They walked and found their bicycles tied up around a drainpipe. They took out their padlock keys and pushed them into the keyholes of their bike chains. They turned their keys at the same time and unlocked their bikes. They tucked the chains in their pockets and jumped on their vehicles. They began to ride to school. Neither Connor nor Rupert had a car so they either rode or walked everywhere or took advantage of the Belfast bus services. They raced each other to school, Connor always winning by a generous margin. When they arrived at school they tied their bicycles up on the racks and proceeded into school. They always sat outside the library under a pair of white sails over their heads. It was an out of the way place where they could do what they wanted and not get tormented about it. When they arrived at their meeting place Stella was already there, as usual she had her nose in a book.
Stella came from a large Catholic family. She had red hair and green eyes like the rest of her seven siblings. She lived a rather hectic life. Being the oldest she was often a second mother to her four brothers and three sisters. Stellas' father was a low-paid accountant at the local bank and her mother taught at a small preschool nearby. Stella held a job at a bakery after school and on weekends. Stella looked up from her book as the pair approached.
'Good morning' she said cheerily, putting her book away in her backpack. She pulled out a hair-tie and tied her hair in a high ponytail on top of her head.
'Morning' the boys said together. Connor threw his satchel on a seat and sat down across from Stella, Rupert doing the same. Before they knew it the school bell rang. They picked up their bags and headed off to their first class.
'So,' Stella said as they walked 'Did you write another chapter?'
Connor was writing an ongoing story for his friends to read. Each week her would update it and place it in a display folder for them to read. He would, when it was finished, send it off to a publisher to get a deal. Soon, he would hopefully see it in the very bookstore he worked in.
'No. Sorry. Fell asleep in front of the computer last night' he said, remembering his awkward sleep atop his computer desk the night before.
'Oh well, Hurry up with it anyway' Rupert said as they headed through the corridor and towards their history class.
Finally they arrived. Mr. Garland glared at them. They were always the last to arrive in class, much to the annoyance of their fellow classmates.
'Sorry we're late Sir.' Connor said as they took a seat at the back corner of the room.
Their seats were in groups of three, very convenient for the trio. They dropped their bags on the floor and pulled out their history books and pens. Mr. Garland had already written up a blackboard full of notes entitled The Roles of Women in Medieval Society. Connor began to write, his fast spidery writing a perfect comparison to Ruperts' illegible scrawl. After about an hour of the teachers droning voice the bell rang again, signaling the beginning of a short ten-minute break.
Only too quickly the ten minutes flew by. But now it was time for English.
English had to be Connors favourite subject. He loved the dynamics of the English language and the way he could express himself through his writing. The teachers loved him, but this didn't sit well with the rest of the class. He was known as the teachers' pet and often had eyes rolled in his direction when he answered questions or wrote an utterly fantastic story. Connor and his friends were always the first to arrive at English. Their English teacher, Ms. Dutton, was a kind young woman. She had to only be in her mind-twenties. She was pretty with blonde hair and blue eyes and always kept up with the latest fashions.
As the trio walked into class, they were greeted by an empty classroom. In English the seats were arranged in a U shape to generate maximum discussion and interaction between the whole class. The room was set with a large whiteboard, the school was slowly making to transition from Black to White boards because the teachers complained about always landing chalk on their hands at the end of a class.
As Connor and his friends sat down the rest of the class filed in. Almost everyone in the class knew English was Connors' domain, but they never said it aloud. As the class settled their teacher walked briskly into the room. She set down her folder; today was the day when they got their assignments back. The class had been instructed to write a three-chapter short story about a topic of their choice. Connor had written a Stephen King style thriller. He was utterly looking forward to getting his back.
'Good morning class' Ms. Dutton said cheerily as she began handing back assignments. Some people smiled as they got theirs, others groaned with disappointment and quickly tucked theirs back into their bags. People were leaning over their tables to compare marks. Some laughed when they failed, others sat plain-faced staring at the front of the room. Finally Ms. Dutton handed Connor his back.
'Thank you Ms.' He said politely as he took the nine-page assignment back from her. He tuned to the last page and saw his mark. Full marks. One hundred per-cent. Connor smiled as he read the comment on the bottom of the page, Wonderful work, Connor. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it; wish there were more chapters to read. You will pass your upcoming exam perfectly. The teacher had signed it at the bottom with her loopy signatures.
'What'd you get?' Rupert asked as he lent across Stella to see Connors paper. Rupert was quite good at English too, but never liked to admit it.
'Full Marks' Connor stated, folding his paper neatly and tucking it into his English Book. 'How'd you go?'
'Nineteen out of Twenty' he said proudly. Connor smiled in congratulations and looked at Stellas' paper, she too had got a good mark - eighteen -.
After another quarter of an hour of conversation about what was a good mark and what was not, Connor felt something hit him in the back of the head. He turned around and looked on the floor, he noticed a felt-tip pen sitting on the floor behind his chair. Connor sighed and looked up to see who threw it. It was Darren O'reilly. Darren was often in direct competition with Connor in English, but Connor would always been him by a small margin.
'What'd you get?' he asked gruffly, folding up his paper and placing it into his new red bag. Darren was from a well off family. He lived in an old estate in the 'good part' of Belfast.
'Twenty' Connor said confidently. Now, Darren couldn't beat him he could only, at his best, tie with him, but he knew he wouldn't. 'How about you?'
Darren didn't answer. This usually meant that Connor had beaten him. Connor smiled and turned to the front of the room, just in time to catch the beginning of Ms. Duttons' writing on the whiteboard.

***

The bell rang loudly to signal the end of the lesson. The trio, were always the first to get out of the room and to where they sat so that they would catch minimum contact with anyone on their way. They walked down to the library and sat on the seats outside it and began their conversation.
'So,' Connor began. 'I've been getting these strange e-mails saying things like; we need your help. Our Colony is slowly dying. Help us please. But, now I've got to the point where I'm just deleting them.'
Stella seemed deep in thought for a moment until she spoke. 'Did you ever think this might be real?' she asked, nibbling on a chocolate biscuit.

'Yeah' Rupert stated through a mouthful of apple. Rupert had a silver spoon in his hand and was waving it around as he spoke. Strange, Rupert would always eat his apples with a spoon. ' Listen, this afternoon in the library, log onto your e-mails and show me some.'
'I will.' Connor said. He had forgotten to grab some lunch on the way out so he had been given some by Stella, it was a banana, and Stella hated bananas' but never said anything. Lunch packing in Stellas' household was like a production line. Everyone got the same thing whether they liked it or not.
After another ten minutes of speculation over Connors' e-mails the trio walked slowly to the door of the library and placed their bags on a rack. There was a sign on the door. Please place schoolbags on the racks or out of the way. Schoolbags not on the said racks will be towed. Connor always laughed when he saw this sign, he always wondered how they could tow someone's' schoolbag. They took their mobile phones and wallets out and took them with them so they wouldn't get stolen.
'So. These e-mails, how many have you got?' Stella asked as she pushed open the door and walked in. The computers were in a separate room to the rest of the library.
'Oh. About ten a week' Connor said as they walked to the computer room and pushed the door open. They all walked to a group of three computers and clicked on the Internet icon.
Connor typed in the name of his e-mail website into the taskbar and waited for it to load. The computers at school were much faster than his one at home. He typed in his username and password and before he knew it the page had loaded and a long list of these strange e-mails popped up. They were all from the same sender, a mysterious man with the name Elos. Connor nudged his friends and motioned to his screen as he clicked open one of the e-mails. It read:

Dear Sir, We have realized we haven't been getting any replies from you. We would like to meet you tomorrow at the café on Moncktons avenue. Send us a reply if you can make our meeting. Yours in witchcraft Elos

'See this is the strange part,' Connor said. 'Yours in Witchcraft. What the hell does that mean?'
'I don't know' Rupert said, reading the e-mail again. 'But you have to send a reply and meet with them. Otherwise you may never know who is Elos person is.'
'He's right you know' Stella added. 'You only live once'
But that wasn't Connors problem. He did only live once, but perhaps if he met with these people he may not live at all. He hit the reply button and wrote a quick message.

Sir, I shall meet with you at twelve O'clock tomorrow. I will be the one inside on table twenty-three. See you then. Sincerely, Anonymous.

Connor didn't want these mystery people to know his real name, not until he knew who they were first. Connor sighed and hit the send button, holding his breath.
Finally the bell to signal the end of school rang. The trio filed out of the library and into the grounds. He fare welled his friends and untied his bicycle to set off to his after school job at W.H Smith bookstores. He rode for a while, finally getting to work. As he rode he was drafting exactly what he would say, and how he would get out of school to meet with the mystery people.