Chapter One: Four Weeks

This dock is very old. It has been around since my grandparents were young and even before that, I think. All of its groans as the wind and water knock it around, the weather-worn color of the wood; all of the empty spaces where chunks of wood should be, point to its antiquity.

But the dock itself holds no interest for me today.

It was here about four weeks ago on a Tuesday evening that Dale Evans disappeared. Police estimated the time of disappearance to be around five-how they figured that to be, I have no clue. Nobody exactly saw him strolling down here, but of course, nobody would have. Most folks were inside their houses taking shelter from a storm that was about to hit.

I can see another one on the way. There is rumbling in the distance as pillars of dark grey clouds race through the sky. They'll be on the lake in a few minutes, disturbing the placid, glass-like surface of the water into a mini tempest. Birds are flying back and forth through the air, eager to return to their nest before the storm hits.

I should be heading home as well, I tell myself. It's dangerous to be caught out in a thunderstorm and my grandparents will be worried about me. They probably already were. I really should have been safely indoors by this time, but the pull of the lake and the mystery surrounding the circumstances of Dale going missing couldn't be ignored. Ours was a small town, barely a blip on the map, and everyone was shaken up by this - including me. Though Dale and I weren't exactly best friends, we weren't enemies, either. It was hard to imagine that something bad had happened to the boisterous, funny classmate who always pulled pranks on our teachers.

A gust of wind blows across the lake and the dock groans again in response, almost like it's begging to collapse once and for all. A drop or two of rain hits my face.

I turn away from it and take off toward Blossom Street, trying to ignore the chills running up and down my spine. One question, among many, swirls around in my mind:

What happened to Dale Evans?