Chapter 1

The clock was moving slower every second. I swear, it slowed down every time a minute passed, prolonging the end of biology. I kept glancing up at the clock mounted on the wall, while my lab group excluded me from looking through the microscope. It was only 10:06 and the two minutes left were agonizing. I turned away from the clock and my hair fell into a beaker containing a small amount of black dye that we'd been using. I pulled my hair out and quickly blotted the dripping black liquid with a paper towel, but there was a good inch or so of hair that was going to be black for a long time.

"What'd you do that for?" a member of my lab group snapped, as if I purposely sopped up the black dye with my hair.

"Wanted to pass the time. Hey! Look! 10:08!" I replied, rapidly cleaning up the beaker and pipettes on the table then grabbing my things and taking off for my study hall. I scurried down stairs, almost slipping on a leaf, and then kept going down the hallway. I pushed my way through a gaggle of seventh grade girls gossiping and then walked into the library. I sighed loudly and obnoxiously while dropping my bag loudly to provoke the librarians.

"Shhhh!" The squat hobbit-like woman said to me.

"Yeah." I said, sitting down in one of the comfy chairs, next to Abigail, my friend that had moved here last year.

"You're such an ass." She said, snickering. She was reading a book and taking notes in the margins.

"Well, I like to give them a new reason everyday to hate me. So how's the book?"

"Brilliant. Mark has outdone himself again." Abigail noted.

"Ugh. Get over your crush on him already. He's our English teacher for Christ's sake." I remarked, cringing. Granted, I'd had a few fantasies about hooking up with our hot and nerdy English teacher, Mr. Parker, but I hadn't flirted with him and expected reciprocated feelings. Like some people I know.

I took out my math things and began on my homework. I was doing well and then started bobbing my head and lip syncing to the song echoing through my head. I was so wrapped up in my work it took me a minute to see the morbidly obese librarians were staring at me. I saluted them and turned my head back to my homework.

"You need to put your iPod away." The hobbit librarian said.

"This invisible one? Okay." I said, and began humming. I finished my homework, noted the time I had left until English, and then took out a book to read.

"Why do you read that junk?" Abigail said, putting her copy of Night down. I was slightly ashamed. The book I had bought was an impulse buy, and I was just reading it out of nostalgia that the series still existed.

"I wanted to loose some brain cells without recreational drugs."

"Excuse me?" An obese librarian, that only owned one shirt, said. I glared at her, then rolled my eyes. The bell rang and people fled the library, Abigail and I making our way to English. I glanced at Abigail. She looked nervous and excited, but pretty. She was wearing a short black and white plaid button down dress and bright yellow leggings with black ballet flats. Her brown hair was hanging in it's loose waves around her face and her bright blue eyes were rimmed in brown eyeliner and cream colored eyeshadow. I was constantly jealous of how pretty she was, and constantly amused by the fact that Abigail only seems to like guys that she has absolutely no chance with.

"Hey, Mr. Parker." I said, walking into the classroom.

"Hello, Ms. Rosdale, Ms. Gilbert." he replied. We took our seats as the class filed in.

"Okay, so I was thinking that this next week should be a "movie analysis" week. The film: Dead Poet's Society." The class breathed a sigh of relief and joy; Mr. Parker was famous for showing the honors English class movies when everyone felt lethargic and bored. I settled into my chair and took my notebook out on my desk. Mr. Parker turned the movie on and shut off the lights, while the air began to have a palpable feeling of tranquility.

I began to write in my notes as the candle flickered on the television screen. I was writing a bunch of nonsense and doodling, while watching Robin Williams smiling a sarcastic smirk in a robe that looked similar to a silk Snuggie. The period ticked on while the only thing I really noticed was the movie and pen flitting across the page on my desk. Mr. Parker got up, turned on the lights and stopped the movie.

"We will continue this tomorrow. Your homework tonight is to read!" Mr. Parker boomed. He made his way back to the corner of the room where his desk was, passed by Abigail, where he slipped note right under her hand. I quickly looked away, shocked at what I saw and embarrassed that I noticed a moment that was supposed to be private.

The bell rang and I fled the room, tripping ever-so gracefully over a desk. I rushed down the hall and to my town history elective, where I quickly sat down in a desk to try and avoid Abigail.

"Why'd you take off like that? It was like your ass was on fire or something." Abigail said as she came into the room and sat down next to me. Dammit, I thought she was going to get here after the rest of the class.

"Yeah, somethin' like that." I mumbled, thankful the teacher was closing the door as a girl entered the classroom. Everyone was quiet and Ms. Hall picked up a stack of papers and began handing them out to us.

"Alright class, I need these permission forms signed so we can walk the 50 yards to the town's historical society. We will be doing research on the town's history due to the fact that the Founder's Gala is next Saturday. I am aware that many of you and your families will be attending this event, whether it's because you have ancestors from the beginning of the town or if you or your family is on the historical society." A large amount of the class groaned, because not many people were going to the Founder's Gala, because a good deal of parents didn't want their teenagers at a historical event. I, along with my brother, mother and father, would be attending the event and so would Abigail and her mother. The last few years it was pretty boring, but since then, the historical society recently acquired a large volume of new documents and antiques from the late Mrs. Thompson, who, apparently, "wanted the town to have these things".

I sighed and looked over at Abigail who was scribbling in her notebook, her arm blocking what she was writing.

"Okay, put those permission forms in a safe place and take out your notes." The class shuffled, the sound of notebooks and writing utensils clattering to the faux wood desks.

"So, let me take you back to when this town formed," Ms. Hall begin, "1833, Silas Valen came from London, England and stumbled upon miles of land circled by a heavy forrest. Valen was camping by the lake outside the trees, when one day he decided to venture through the trees. He found a vast amount of land, flat and hilly. After his discovery, Valen made his way back into the city, where he told colleagues of his about the place and said they should build a town. About two years later, Valentown was up and running." Ms. Hall told us, a story we had heard almost a hundred times since we were in first grade.

I zoned out and stared blankly out the window at the trees that surrounded the school. Since 1835, most of the trees that surrounded the town had been cut down so more houses could be built. The town had expanded it's boundaries to outside the lake, but nobody really taught us that, we just had to figure it out ourselves. I wondered what could possibly have gone through Valen's head when he came across this massive hilly field. Did he really think that this place was a good location for a town? Or did he just want to become a wealthy figure in history whose name never is lost on a tongue of any resident of this place?

While I was lost in thought, Abigail was busily scribbling on her letter, but she was shielding it now from Ms. Hall. I rolled my eyes, trying not to jump to conclusions, that what I was thinking was crazy. I shook it off and glanced over to see Conner Falcon, Luke Patter and Jeremy Carlin walk by the classroom laughing and throwing things. I hated them so much; they loved to cause some sort of problem and they love to provoke people. I didn't understand how they all finagled their way into advanced classes because they never show common sense. Yet, I knew that a good amount of time, people without common sense were very smart, academically speaking, that is.

The bell rang just as I heard a teacher yell at Conner, and everyone shuffled to get their things and make it to lunch. I walked out with Abigail, not wanting her to think that I was mad at her, or that I suspected anything.

"So, do you wanna hang out tonight?" Abigail asked.

"Sure. Movie marathon at my house?" I asked.

"Sure." Abigail said.

"So, are you well informed about Silas Valen and his discovery of this lovely place we reside in?" I joked, knowing that Abigail new the story by heart, even thought she hadn't lived here for more than two years.

"Yeah. Now I know everything I need to know about the discovery of Valentown and how it was built! Golly gee, I think I might go research it more at the library!" Abigail mocked, acting like a cheesy poster-child for the town's Chamber of Commerce. I laughed and dropped my bag on a bench and then got in line for lunch, with Abigail behind me.

"Okay, in all seriousness, I am curious to see what Mrs. Thompson 'donated' to the historical society. Apparently she had letters from the town's original settlers, newspaper clippings and jewelry. I don't know, there might be something about my family in there." I said, wondering about the parts of my family that were an original settlers.

"Hmm. Could be interesting." Abigail replied, distracted considering we were right in front of the food now.

We both got our lunches and sat down at a table. Abigail and I talked about the movies we would watch tonight and the books that we had recently read that we liked. After we finished our lunches, we each did some homework. I was struggling to focus on my assignment, and abandoned it as the bell was ringing.

The rest of the day went by agonizingly slow. When the bell finally rang at 3, I whipped out of the school like a bat out of hell. After the bus ride home, I got right to my room and tidied a few things up. I heard something fall downstairs and immediately went to see what it was, considering out cat tended to break things. When I got downstairs, it was my brother rifling through the cabinets.

"Are you high?" I asked.

"Why, you want some?" Darren asked, his eyes droopy and the whites painted with red lines.

"Yeah. Abigail's coming over tonight, wanna chill together?" I asked, getting a water bottle out of the fridge.

"Sure. Hey, guess what?"

"What?" I asked, leaning against the counter.

"I asked Monica out."

"Really? That's great!"

"She said she doesn't want to date a waste of space, small town stoner. So, yeah, bully for me." Darren said, but he had a lazy smile that was part weed-induced and part Darren humor.

"Well, at least now you know. You're a waste of space, small town stoner." I said, laughing, and he threw a box of brownie mix at me, laughing. Abigail walked in and dropped her stuff near the table and joined Darren and I in the kitchen.

"Hey." Abigail said to Darren and he nodded at her.

"So, do you guys wanna chill now?" Darren asked, looking at both of us. I shared a glance with Abigail and she said, "Yeah. Let's do it."

An hour later, we were all stumbling around, looking for food with droopy lids wiry read-lined eyes, giggling and on top of the world. My parents had gone to a friend's ski cabin for the weekend, so we had just smoked in Darren's room. A deep sense of sinking and emptiness filled my head. Things were clearer and simple things were more important than the bigger, more complicated ones. But at that moment, the only thing that was important was finding good munchie food.

Darren had somehow disappeared, so Abigail and I were on a mission alone. I took Oreos out of the cabinet, and Abigail got sour cream and onion Pringles, then we retired to the living room to watch Degrassi. We were both munching on our food and sipping on our drinks to keep the cotton mouth at bay, while wrapped up in Degrassi. The the weed seduced the curiosity and they made a baby which birthed itself out of my mouth in the form of:

"What's going on with you and Mr. Parker? I mean, I saw him slip you a note today, so...I don't know. Do you guys have something going on?" Abigail was silent for a second, tightlipped and then she started laughing.

"What's so funny?" I said, joining in, The Giggle Theory proving itself once again.

"I'm just surprised you saw that. And, yes, we do have something going on." Abigail said.

"Care to elaborate?" I pressed on, stuffing another Oreo in my mouth and chasing it with milk.

"Well, we went to a bunch of the same lectures and movies and stuff outside of school, and then we started talking instead of awkwardly waving at each other. From there, we just kinda kept flirting. Like all the movies and books we exchange? They have notes in them." Abigail explained, then popped a chip in her mouth.

"Have you guys kissed?" I asked, quickly swallowing a gulp of milk. I almost feared the answer.

"No, not yet. We haven't really had a chance to. We haven't met outside of school since we started exchanging notes and texting and emailing and so on. But I want to." Abigail said dreamily.

"Oh." I replied, and then turned my attention back to the kid covered in paint and feathers holding a gun. Abigail and I smoked more, watched excessive amounts of t.v. and movies, ate our weight in junk food and then passed out somewhere around 3 in the morning. I was asleep for maybe two hours when I woke up to a steady flow of freezing wind chilling me to the bone. Abigail was covered with a comforter and snuggled into the couch. Darren was upstairs playing video games and the air continued to whistle and bite.

I went over to shut the window and tried to pull down the old, stubborn pane, but it was stuck. The raw wind was cutting through my shirt and blowing my hair around as I pushed down on the window. As I was throwing my body weight into shutting the stuck window, I saw someone standing outside the window. There was a woman with matted dark hair and she was staring straight at me. I couldn't make out any distinct features, so I abandoned the window and squatted down, squinting to see what the woman looked like.

I didn't see it coming and barely registered what was happening. The woman had sprung forward and reached through the screen, grabbing my throat and squeezing it. She had a scarred and dark face, almost like a character from a zombie movie. I tried to push her away, but she kept crushing my throat, impairing my physical and mental capabilities. I then realized that we didn't have a fence in our yard, like the one behind this woman. There had been, almost ten years ago, while my aunt was living here.

I quickly broke sleep with a pain in my throat, but it was nothing compared to the splitting in my head. I knew that it had nothing to do with the weed from earlier, but only the dream. I could distinctly hear every crash and explosion in Darren's video game. I got up, stumbling around because my headache was hindering my ability to open my eyes and see where I was walking. I clattered upstairs, and into Darren's room.

"Turn that down." I croaked, realizing how hoarse my voice was and how dry my throat was.

"Holy shit, Hayden, what happened to you?" Darren said. I opened my eyes as best I could and only saw a flash of blood.

"I had a nightmare," I wheezed. "someone attacked....my throat....this woman...just...grabbed....my...throat." I choked out, and coughed against my dry throat.

"Are you sure it was a nightmare? You're covered in bruises." Darren said. I nodded, the motion paining my head beyond belief.

"Hold on." Darren said and then his footsteps drifted away. The pain in my head and throat were practically killing me. The throbbing and pulsing; the pushing of ache and soreness; the shear rawness of my throat, it was almost unbearable. The blood was sticking to the neckline of my shirt, and I could feel drops of it running down my back. I fell on Darren's bed, and stuffed my face in the pillow to keep the light out. It was short-lived; the second I saw darkness, I saw, and felt, the woman from my nightmare. I heard Darren's footsteps come into the room.

"Mom told me if something weird ever happened, to put this on." Darren said. I squinted and saw a flash of gold. It must have been a necklace, because Darren slipped the cold chain around my neck, with some sort of pendant touching the pillow while Darren clasped the necklace. He spun it around and the pendant hit my chest. As soon as the pendant hit my skin, I felt immediate relief; the headache disappeared and the pain in my throat was gone. I could open my eyes and gulp the water Darren was holding, watering my dry throat.

"Better?"

"Much. I don't even know how."

"It must be the necklace." Darren said, quizzically.

"Yeah, and I can fly if I drink the Kool-Aid." I said, sitting up. There was a bowl packed next to the bed, which I immediately took and lit. I sucked in the sour, flat smoke. I swallowed and then exhaled threw my nose, while Darren sat staring at the necklace.

"What?" I said.

"I really think it's the necklace. I mean, mom told me if something weird happens to put it on, and then something weird happens and it just stops once that necklace is on."

"Darren, it's late and you're just babbling. The necklace has nothing to do with my speedy recovery. It's just a coincidence." I lied. I did believe that, weirdly, the stone had made me recover. I don't know how and why, but it must have had something to do with me feeling better. I got up and walked towards the door.

"Where are you going?" Darren asked.

"Downstairs. I need to sleep." I said, turning around.

"Hayden?" Darren said and I turned around.

"Don't take the necklace off."