A year before…

Matt Mitchell was the town hero and school legend, captain of most sport teams; he was far from the dumb jock type for he was just as talented in academics as he was in sports. Every girl had a crush on him and every boy wanted to be him. He was also famous for his pranks; he was always scheming up or faking one thing or another. Everything he did amazed and there was nothing he couldn't beat or find a way out of. But little did he know that something weird was happening to the children of Candlewood that not even the fearless school legend could overcome…

Little by little things were getting weirder and weirder in Candlewood, and it started taking view when the first kid went missing.

"Matt did you hear?" A kid came up to him when he walked into the classroom taking his seat

"No, what?"

"Tiffany Andrews went missing."

Tiffany Andrews was the girl who sat next to Matt in science. She was a very shallow and narcissistic girl who made a poor lab partner spending more time looking at reflection in her compact mirror doing her make-up than contributing.

"Really? Since when?" He asked

"Since Friday."

"That's so hard to believe, Friday we had a presentation to do together and she forgot her notes and we got yelled at by Mr. Turner for not being prepared—she's really missing?"

"Yes. There are cops here asking every one questions."

"I saw the cops on campus."

"Man this is more exciting than that time when Principal Marion publicly quit and threatened us all."

That was a sight to see. Principal Marion was the most hated woman of the school. She was strict, cruel and loved turning the school into a detention center rather than a learning environment. Matt was the student who dared stand in her way and never obey her school rules. It was he who got the students organized to fight back against her tyranny and in that one day during assembly the student stood up and revolted throwing food and yelling at her. She cracked and screamed back into the microphone quitting her job and swearing revenge on the children of Candlewood. No one has seen her since.

"How is this exciting? A girl's missing" Matt said harshly

"Oh come on nothing ever happens in Candlewood and anything that does is exciting"

"Whatever. Learning that our town isn't as safe as we thought isn't exciting to me," he grumbled

Everyone in school was talking about Tiffany Andrews and rumors spread as to what could have happened to her. No one knew, things like this never happened in Candlewood. Candlewood was a safe and quaint little town where no one had to worry about anything much less possible kidnappers and serial killers loose. Matt was worried, this is more than close to home for him, it hits home, for he knew Tiffany Andrews. He wasn't close to her but he saw her everyday in chemistry, nonetheless he knew her; she was more than just a name to him. She probably ran off with one of her college boyfriends she always bragged about, he automatically dismissed the crazy idea of any danger within Candlewood believing that it's just hype, nothing more and it'll die down soon…little did he know that it was far more than hype and that he was next.

He walked home after his classes ended. He waved to his classmates driving by. He would drive to and from school himself but his parents were strict and overprotected believing that a car would promise trouble and danger; why do you think they moved to Candlewood in the first place?

"Hey Matt! Wait up!"

He turned to see Gunner running to him. "Hey Gunth, how's school treating you? Frankie hasn't been picking on you, has he?"

Gunner was his next-door neighbor who was six years younger than him. Gunner was a very weird kid, superstitious and hyperactive with ADHD causing him to be the misfit with hardly any friends. Matt moved next door to him a few years ago and became friends with Gunner after seeing how alone he was being the only child, as he was, and also shunned by kids, as he was not. Gunner looked up to him as a cool big brother wanting to imitate everything he did. Matt was Gunner's hero, and 'sitter as well.

"No," He looked down rubbing his arm.

Matt notices and sees a mass of bruises hidden beneath his sleeve, "Gunth what's that?" He asked afraid of the answer.

"It's nothing," He quickly stopped rubbing and shoved his hand in his pocket trying to act normal.

"Frankie did that to you, didn't he?"

"No."

"I'm going to get that kid—"

"It wasn't him!" He shouted

Matt looked at him more seriously coming to another conclusion, "Did your father do this?" He whispered in concern.

"No he didn't."

"Than who did? And don't tell me you fell or got this while playing sports, in all the years I've played I've never—"

"It was this new girl in school," He interrupted.

"She gave you the bruises?"

"Yes, she…she, she didn't hit me, she pointed her finger and I felt this strong pressure that turned painful and she ah, she gave me this note and told me to give it to you or else she'll hurt me again and hurt me even more if I read it and after she disappeared and—"

"Gunner why do you have to make things up, I know your father did this to you and your trying to cover for him with this made up story."

"I didn't make it up! Here," He gave Matt the note.

Matt took it. It wasn't opened and was bound closed by melted red wax pressed by a stamp. He ripped it open and read the note.

Mattie boy, if you think for a moment you could over throw me and be safe here after, you're mistaken. I'm true to my word, as Tiffany saw and you soon will see at midnight when we will meet at the gazebo at Milan park, you and I, alone or else.

He crumpled the note. He knew for sure Gunner didn't write it and now was fearful knowing exactly who did. He knew what she wanted, she wanted revenge, and he was the number one person on her list of enemies. Why Tiffany was first, puzzled him.

He decided not to show up that night and instead stayed awake sitting at his window keeping a lookout. He refused to ever listen to or obey her commands. She was going to get him either way, only this way he was not surrendering, as she wanted.

Later that very week Matt vanished mysteriously while babysitting Gunner. Gunner was alone playing video games when it happened. No one knew what happened to, even Gunner who was there. Gunner claimed that he said he'd be right back as he walked up the stairs to his room, but he never came down.

Matt was the second kid at Candlewood to vanish out if the slew of them to come.


A/N: Thank you so much for the wonderful reviews, very much appreciated!

Jules