Chapter One

How many times have you stopped and asked yourself, "what am I doing with my life?" "Where am I going?" "Am I going to amount to anything?" "What do I do now?"

Take the time to think about this. Think about how many times you've fallen into a rut, flailing around like a fish out of water, useless, depressed. Feeling like you'll never amount to anything; that every single thing you'd done up to this point had been a mistake. Think. Think about it. Now, tell me. Tell me the answer.

Now that you've kindly done as I asked, take the time to ponder my response to the same question. At the ripe young age of eighteen years, I'd already found myself at the mercy of a mid-life crisis. My original plan had been to attend a prestigious university after graduating from high school-I was more than qualified for such a thing, in case you were wondering. My GPA was well into the 5.0 range due to the fact that I'd been in advanced classes since I was a child. I'd earned decent marks on my SAT tests and state tests alike. Best of all, however, I'd gotten accepted by the university of my dreams.

It was exactly what I wanted. My life was on the track I'd had planned since I was thirteen.

Where did this became derailed, you ask?

That's an easy question. Money. Financial issues. Scholarship issues. Loss of important documents. Family issues. None of this will be explained in detail, but if you've been in my place before, you understand.

It all came down to me being unable to attend that school. Instead, upon a last minute decision-that was indeed the turning point of my life, that one, singular moment that would forever change me-I'd decided to attend the local university because it was extremely affordable.

By that, I mean that the state paid for my entire undergraduate education, freshman year through senior year. Of course, book fees and boarding in the dorms would cost slightly extra, but that was of no importance, as I was living at home.

At the very least, I was attending a university. Not the one I would have preferred, but I was continuing my education nonetheless. It would have to do until I could set up my alternative.

This university, a branch of one of the most renowned public universities of the state, was of what I would call average standard. Small, only a bit larger than the local community college on the other side of town, but somewhat homey. Not only small in appearance, but also was it small in classroom size. I think, if I had to say, the largest class would have just around one hundred students. The smallest would have eight.

Nothing was particularly outstanding about this campus-that is, unless you would consider the small replica of Stonehenge near the Fine Arts building to be something outstanding.

No, it was the student body and the student organizations within this school that were truly remarkable.

I didn't become aware of this fact until about two months into my first year of college, however. At first, I had been somewhat isolated, unsure of what to do, and, above all, lonely. I had never realized it was so difficult to make friends, because I'd been with the same people throughout my grade school education and never had the need to meet new people. But, now that I was on my own, away from those people, I realized that I had the choice of remaining on my own, or taking the initiative to interact with others and make new friends.

It was harder than I expected. Most of the people I interacted with always went their separate ways after classes, and I barely had the chance to ask them if they wanted to hang out. That might have been because I was a bit timid, but I tried to be as outgoing as I could, now that I was starting a new chapter in my life.

Still, I didn't have much luck in the beginning of that year.

It wasn't until that "first encounter," I suppose it could be called, that I met my very first friend.

It had been a typical day; I attended my morning classes and had the rest of the day free to do what I wanted-usually that was studying in the library. I liked to keep on top of things, particularly reading assignments. But I had those done days in advance and usually just sat at the library's computer station browsing random sites that pertained to my interests.

Most of the time I was sitting quietly, keeping to myself, silently clicking away at the screen. No one bothered me and I bothered no one in return. It was the way I liked it. Of course, I was open to making friends, but, as everyone else needed break time, so did I. This was that time for me.

In spare time such as this, I found myself wandering several paranormal and supernatural websites that related to such phenomena. It had been a passion of mine since I was young, since I'd seen something I couldn't quite explain to myself nor to anyone else. Maybe I'd been looking for the answer within the interweb. Needless to say, I'd had no such luck up to that point. My current interest was centered around unexplainable phenomena that occurred locally. It was always nice to keep in touch with spooky town legends. Sometimes they ended up being more real than anyone would imagine.

As I was browsing these websites, it seemed I had caught someone's interest. I didn't realize this until that person had approached me, however. Or more like, until that person had spoken from directly behind me, very near to my ear.

"You like this stuff?"

In my surprise, I immediately straightened from my lazy stooped position and shoved the chair back from the computer desk, consequently ramming it into the person's torso. And possibly some more tender areas. Whatever the case, it resulted in this person stumbling backwards and crumpling to the floor in a heap, behind me.

"Oh my God," Was the most eloquent thing I could think to say at that moment, when it most probably should have been an apology. The person, who I now understood was a young man somewhere around my age, didn't seem to mind, though, as he was too preoccupied with his suffering.

How should I have handled that situation? Grab my backpack and run the other way? Sit back down and continue browsing the internet? Or, what seemed the best option, help the poor boy?

I did waffle between choice A and choice B before deciding on the last mentioned.

"Are you okay?" I asked in what would have been the most blatantly stupid tone I had ever managed to produce. What had I been thinking? Of course he wasn't alright, he was on the floor wheezing.

He couldn't even manage a reply. Could this be considered assault…?

"I, uh, didn't mean to-you know, ram the chair into you. You just surprised me was all. What's with that? Do you usually hover over peoples' shoulders while they're on the computer? Any normal person would have done the exact same thing. So it was ultimately your fault. You can't sue me for assault or anything, okay? I don't know much about law, but I can tell you that you can't do that. Capiche?"

That had come out of my mouth before I could stop it. Really, what had I been thinking? This was absurd. The most absurd thing I'd ever gotten myself into. No, that wasn't correct. It was only the first of many absurdities to come.

"You," He was finally forming coherent speech.

"I?"

"Are insane."

"Am I?"

That was a rather one-sided conversation, wasn't it?

After standing around for a moment longer, I gathered enough of my nerves to kneel beside the boy and attempt to help him up. He was of a much larger stature than myself, and I was doubting that I could ever support such weight. Maybe if I was willing to try, it would be different. But, as it was, I wasn't.

"You shouldn't lay on the floor for so long. It can't be sanitary."

"It's-it's not like I wanted to, you know."

"Right. Here, come on, let's get you up." With that, I offered him my hand. When he made no move to take it, I grasped him by the forearm and attempted to haul him to his feet. Or, well, helping him to his knees was about as far as I was going to get him, it seemed, as I'd underestimated my own strength and his weight.

"There. Now, tell me, why were you creeping around?"

Luckily, there hadn't been many people around to witness the spectacle. If there had been, I might have gained a reputation sooner than I would have liked.

When I stopped to take a look at the boy I'd piledrived via chair, I realized that he was not the most appealing of his gender. Though, there was something undeniably attractive about him. Don't get me wrong, now, that didn't mean that I was infatuated by-what was it, love at first sight? This person and I would never engage in an intimate relationship.

"Definitely not to have my balls assaulted," he managed out, still having some difficulty speaking. At the very least, he was now standing, though with a stoop. He was much taller than myself, and I couldn't decide whether he was slightly slouched for my sake, or for the fact that he was still in pain.

"How crude. Was that comment necessary?"

"Was what you did necessary?"

"No, and I clearly apologized. No need to use such vulgar language."

"Okay, okay, jeez. I'll try to remember that next time, your highness."

"'Your highness?' What exactly are you implying?"

"Maybe that you're kind of a dominatrix."

"I don't think I can agree with that."

During this random exchange, we seemed to have initiated a sort of standoff in which whoever backed down first would be the loser. Something like an automatic rivalry.

"It seems we've deviated from the point. Please answer the question."

Even so, I didn't care for such trivial things. I would take the high road and stop the competition in its tracks.

He stared down at me for a moment before obliging. "I wasn't trying to stalk you or anything; I just happened to see what you were looking at and well, it got me interested. It's not often that I meet people who are into that kind of thing."

"I see."

I flicked my eyes over him once more, definitely not checking him out but more like trying to establish some authority even though he was most likely older than me.

"Well, it's late. I should get going."

I turned to gather my belongings, aiming to ignore him forever and be on my way.

"Wait, that's it?"

I packed my notebooks and pen into my backpack as quickly as I could, then zipped it up so nothing would fall out if I decided to break into a sprint.

"You don't have anything else to say?"

It seemed he didn't quite understand what it meant to be ignored.

"Did you even find out anything?"

By that point I was headed to the elevator, but changed my mind and took the stairs instead. I wasn't looking forward to being in a closed-in space with that person if he decided to follow me.

"Stop, stop, stop! Come on, don't just ignore me! Don't you owe me that much for hitting me?"

I had made it to the second flight before stopping in my tracks. I could tell that he'd stopped just behind me, narrowly avoiding running right into me, which probably would have resulted in a painful tumble down the stairs. Thankfully, that was avoided.

"I suppose," it seemed that there was no escaping that. If only to ease my slightly guilty feeling, I figured it would be alright to listen for a few moments. "Well, then, say what you have on your mind. I'm in a hurry."

"In a hurry to do what?" The look I sent him must have put him off of his curiosity. "Right. Well, you like paranormal things, right? And you must be kinda interested in local occurrences as well. If you really do have a passion for things like that, then I have a proposition for you."

Interesting. I'd never been approached for something like this. Well, that didn't include door-to-door salesmen. But he wasn't a door-to-door salesmen, since there were no doors around the area. Or, had they evolved into something new…?

"Are you even the slightest bit interested in this?"

I nodded to show him that I was still listening. "Continue."

"There's a club here that focuses on things like that-supernatural occurrences, paranormal phenomena, and whatever else pertains to that-here on campus. I'm part of it, apparently. And before you ask, yes, I'm trying to recruit you. We meet on Fridays in the evening and sometimes at the leader's house on weekends."

"Intriguing. But I have my hands full with classes at the moment and-"

"No, no, it's nothing that will interfere with schoolwork, I promise you. It's just, ah…recreational activity! You can come and go as you want, and you don't even have to participate in events. I'm just asking you to check it out, is all."

This was the first time I'd been approached by a club. Being asked to join was nice, but that didn't mean that I was completely taken by the idea. What I studied was more of a secret hobby than anything, one that I wouldn't want to advertise. Or join a club that dealt with the same thing.

My face must have revealed my thoughts-either that, or the boy was a psychic. I was sure I could doubt the latter, since he hadn't foreseen the chair attack from earlier.

"I can tell you don't think much of it right now, but that's not all there is to it." He lowered his voice and leaned a bit closer, even though he wouldn't be overheard since there was no one else in the stairwell with us. "We go on ghost hunts."

"Ghost hunts?" My skepticism level couldn't have been elevated any higher. "You mean like those ghost hunting shows on the science fiction channel? That's a hoax."

That word seemed to deflate whatever enthusiasm he'd previously possessed. "Well, you can't really say until you've seen it for yourself. Right? Just, give it a chance. That's all I'm asking you."

I crossed my arms and studied his face intently. He did seem honest enough, even though the whole thing sounded like a joke. What kind of university had a paranormal club? Though, considering there were animal lover clubs, I suppose the idea wasn't so farfetched.

"What do you say?"

I wondered if he would begin pleading on his knees if I remained silent for long enough. He seemed set on the idea of having me join the club.

"I guess it wouldn't be a complete waste of my time."

"GREAT! First meeting's tomorrow at eight PM in the courtyard behind the main building. Try not to be late and bring a bag of salt." Upon speaking, he'd grabbed my shoulders and started to shake me slightly, jarring my senses a bit and making me second guess my answer. Then, as soon as he'd touched my arms, he let go and hurried down the stairs, soon vanishing from my sight.

I stood, dazed, on the second floor's landing for quite some time, staring at the corner he'd disappeared behind, wondering if perhaps that entire situation had been in my imagination.


A/N: Hey, Agness here! This was written for last year's NaNoWriMo as a first attempt and, well, wasn't the one I followed through to the 50, 000 word goal because I had three more attempts after this, and the third was the one I carried through to the end. But I still became very fond of this story and wished to share it here on . Have any thoughts? Concerns? I would love to hear what you readers think if you have the time to spare a review! Thanks for reading.