I haven't written a short thriller in a while and I'm off of school in two days, so I figured I'd get another one going. This chapter's short, but once we start progressing they'll get a wee bit longer.

Based off a true story, as a matter of fact.

Dedication: To the homeless man I saw today. I dunno if you're a junkie or an alcoholic, but I would've tossed you a coin if I wasn't already late and if it hadn't been pouring.


G A B R I E L

It's here. It's now. Don't be late.


"…He took it off, like, that night when some kid reported it but then the next day it was still there."

"So someone wrote it again. Big deal."

"Every night for three years? Man, don't be an idiot."

"So, whatever. It stopped after three years? Okay."

Alex groaned and slammed his locker aggressively. "It didn't stop, the janitor did. He just got fed up and stopped cleaning it off."

His friend Nick rolled his eyes and shrugged on his backpack. "Someone's just screwing with him, man; it's not, like, a demon or whatever."

Alex glared at him, an attempt at a menacing gaze that may have been effective had the sixteen-year-old sophomore it belonged to not be cursed with curly red hair and baby blue eyes.

"Dude," said Nick, feeling pity for his friend but impatience with the story. "I know you like all that weird, uh, paranormal stuff, okay, and I mean, it could be real and stuff but maybe you should just, like, drop this one. We have exams to worry about." He readied his cringe.

Alex sighed as if in defeat. "I don't care about exams." They left the building and crossed the senior parking lot, careful to dodge careless junior drivers who, rejoicing at the graduation of their upperclassmen, seemed prone to honk their ear-splitting horns at any given intrusion. "I got my B average. I'm cool with that."

"Whatever, man," Nick answered, leaping hastily onto the sidewalk and avoiding a fatality by Mustang. "You going home?"

Alex shrugged. "I don't want to," he said in a tone of depression. Nick frowned in concern, but said nothing. "It's like, my parents, and all that…"

Nick nodded. Nine years. Nine years they'd been best friends and through the near-decade he'd seen his friend's family go through hell and back. "How's Jason?" he asked, at a loss for anything else to say.

"How do you think?" Alex retorted savagely and Nick blinked slowly. "Sorry."

"Yep."

"He's still in a coma."

"I know."

"They don't think he's gonna come out of it." Alex's tone was flat. Emotionless. Nick figured it was a protection method, but then again it could be expectancy.

"What d'you think?"

Alex was silent for a moment. "I don't think he will, either," he said finally.

"Oh," Nick answered, not at all taken aback. "Sorry, man."

Alex adjusted his backpack on his shoulders and somewhere across the busy street a dog barked. The Minnesota air was dry; an improvement over the humidity of the past two weeks but not at all caring towards the parched flowers lining the suburban houses.

"Wanna come over?" Nick asked. "We can…" he paused, sighing inwardly. "We can look up this new ghost of your's." he smiled at Alex's skeptical expression. "Nah, I'm serious. Take your mind off stuff."

Alex chewed it over for a few seconds. "Alright," he said finally. "But the janitor retired after last year."

"Google satellite?"

"You need the address-,"

"-How about a telephone number?"

Alex laughed once. "It's a start."

"Dude," said Nick, grinning widely. "We're halfway there."

●●●●

"His name's Carlos Sanchez."

Alex groaned. "Him and everyone else in Mexico," he complained, staring despondently at the computer screen.

"Actually," said Nick slowly, glancing at the handwritten sticky note held between his fingers. "He's from Cuba." Alex looked up curiously. "He's got three daughters and one son," Nick continued. "All grown. And his wife died of cancer last October."

"Whoa," Alex said, brows raised. "How'd you find all that out?"

"A very friendly operator…"

●●●●

They may not have laughed if they knew they only had three days left.

Three days left of sanity.

Three days left of innocence.

Three days left of life.


Review, please!