Chapter 1: A Disturbing Discovery
Dark, thick storm clouds rolled over the sky of the Steel City. A light rain eventually fell from the sky and dampened whatever it touched. Quiet rumbles of thunder echoed throughout the skies. A bright flash of lightning would make itself visible every few minutes. Despite the inclement weather, the people of the city went about their business as if it were a clear morning. Men and women were on their way to work while college-bound students were on their way to their respective campuses to prepare for the upcoming school year. However, three students had other things on their minds.
“Are you sure we should be here?” Serena asked, sounding rather nervous. "You know I don't like abandoned places." She held her textbook and novel against her chest as she followed her brother and his friend to an abandoned parking deck. Upon entering it, Serena placed the books on the ground. Then she brushed her long blonde locks off of her shoulder and turned to Jason, a rising senior. "I heard there's an orientation this morning. I really don't want to miss it," she said, trying to remain calm while picking her books back up.
“If I were you, Serena, I wouldn’t waste my time going to that,” he told her. “Besides, I can tell you of anything and everything you would ever need to know about college."
“I’m being serious, Jason,” Serena snapped as she smacked him on the arm. "Don't be so conceited."
“You should know all the rules and regulations, Jason,” Daniel, also a rising senior, said with a smirk. “You broke nearly every one in a month!” he thought he’d also mention as he combed his fingers through his short sandy hair. When the trio stopped to take a break, Jason turned to his friend and crossed his arms after adjusting his glasses.
“Well, excuse me, Mr. Daniel Richards,” began Jason with a fake British accent, trying to imitate one of his history professors. “Weren’t you the one who was caught trying to flush a pack of cigarettes and two lighters all because you were too damn lazy to go outside? You know that smoking will not be tolerated in the dorm rooms.” Though Serena thought her brother and Daniel were acting immature, she couldn’t help but laugh at Jason’s imitation. Just then, the wind picked up and Jason sighed as he tried to straighten his medium length hair, forcing light brunette strands back into place.
“Why haven't you have answered my question yet?” Serena wanted to know. “Why are we here? This is just parking deck." Then she paused for a second before asking, "Are you trying to scare me with more of your obnoxious pranks?"
“Relax, Serena,” Daniel replied as he placed his hands in his jacket pockets. “We just wanted to take a shortcut to campus. That’s all.” When Serena wasn't looking, Daniel turned to Jason and smiled.
“Why couldn’t you just tell me that earlier?” Serena mumbled angrily under her breath as she adjusted the strap of her messenger bag. Then she hoisted up her thick textbook and paperback novel before she nearly dropped them. “Can we go now?” she asked, almost sounding out of breath. “My arms are sore. They feel like they’re about to fall off.”
“All right, let’s go,” Jason said as he took Serena's books. "Even if you happen to miss the orientation this morning, I heard there's another one next Tuesday,” he added as the trio continued on their way through the abandoned parking center. Serena quickened her pace, trying to keep up with Jason. When she caught up to him, Serena reached her left arm around him and took the paperback novel back. Jason rolled his eyes. “If you wanted your book back, all you had to do was ask, Serena,” he mumbled.
“What have you been reading that’s so important, Serena?” a curious Daniel asked.
“I never said it was important,” replied Serena. “I just want to catch up on my reading. Normally, I don’t enjoy reading very much, but this book has captured my attention from the very beginning,” she told him as she opened the book to where the bookmark had been placed. Though Serena wanted to wait until they had exited parking deck to continue reading, she tried her best to read the fine, dark print on the yellowed pages of the novel without placing too much strain on her eyes.
“What book are you reading?” Daniel asked again.
“What?” Serena asked as she picked her head up. Daniel stared at her as he pointed at the book in her hands. “Oh, this is just a book full of ghost stories,” she replied, placing the bookmark between the pages and closing the book. Then she let out a heavy sigh. “This book belongs to one of my friends, so I need to finish reading it by Friday.”
“You’re reading ghost stories, Serena?” Jason asked in a questioning manner as he stopped walking and turned to face his younger sister. Serena nodded. “I had no idea you were into those. I thought they always scared you.”
“They don’t scare me!” Serena snapped as she narrowed her eyes. Then she wrapped her arms around the book and held it against her chest. “They just creep me out a little. That’s all,” she added, her voice now quiet. “But I’d like to think that I’ve gotten over my fear of ghosts and other supernatural beings. And besides, your little pranks don't scare me, either. I just like to play along so you think you scared me."
Only moments after Serena gave her explanation, there was an ear-piercing screech. It was followed by what sounded like a man and woman screaming and then the sound of shattering glass. Jason and Daniel had become frozen with fear at the unexpected noise. Serena dropped the ghost novel and clasped her hands over her mouth to keep from screaming. When the noise had ceased, the startled trio slowly turned around and glanced behind them. Their hearts were bouncing off the walls of their chests, eyes wide and full of fear. On the ground, only a few feet behind them, were dark skid marks along with shards of broken glass and blood droplets surrounding a small pool of blood.
Daniel swallowed hard before he whispered, “Where did that come from?” His hazel eyes darted from the skid marks to the broken glass shards. “That wasn’t there before,” he mentioned while taking a step forward.
“Maybe we just didn’t notice it,” Jason replied. He placed Serena’s textbooks down on the cool concrete before he hesitantly made his way over to one of the dark skid marks. Jason cracked his knuckles as he knelt down in front of it. Then he reached down with his left hand and smoothed his fingers over the blemish on the concrete.
“But...what about...that sound?” stammered Serena, terror filling her eyes. “What caused it?”
“The skid marks...and the blood...have been here for a while,” Jason said, ignoring both of Serena's questions. He mumbled his findings just loud enough for Serena and Daniel to hear.
“Maybe we should just leave here,” stammered the young woman as she reached for her books.
“Don’t let your fears get the best of you, Serena,” Daniel told her. He was able to push his fear that was in him aside before trying to calm Jason’s sister. “I can’t imagine what caused that sound, but as for the skid marks...I’m not so sure. We probably just didn’t notice them since we were talking, like Jason said.”
“You can stay here and come up with your elaborate theories,” Serena snapped at Daniel with her books in her hands again, “but I'm leaving! I’m not spending one more second in this place!” Jason heard Serena’s outburst and glanced back at her as he rose to his feet. Just as Serena turned around and took a few steps toward the exit, she stopped dead in her tracks. Her face turned pale and the books fell from her grasp once more. “Did you...just...feel something?” stuttered Serena.
“Feel what, Serena?” Jason wanted to know as he made his way to Serena’s side. “What’s wrong? What are you talking about?”
“It feels like...something just...went right through me,” Serena replied just above a whisper. “I feel...a lot weaker...It’s as if someone or something has robbed me of my energy.”
“Your loss of energy...is nothing compared to what you’re about to lose.”
Only blocks away from the deserted parking deck was a newly built apartment complex. In one of the freshly painted apartments resided Autumn, who was still sound asleep. She had her black and white floral print blanket wrapped around her. Just as she was about to turned over onto her left side, her alarm clock stared buzzing. She sighed heavily as she reached over and slammed her right hand on the clock. Once the alarm had ceased buzzing, her hand slowly slid off the clock and rested alongside the bed.
“Is it...morning already?” Autumn mumbled under her breath. With her eyes still closed, she took her blanket and uncovered herself. She pushed it aside before sitting up. With her eyes still closed, Autumn reached over on her nightstand and grabbed her hairbrush. When she finally had her long brunette hair brushed, she blinked her sapphire eyes open and glanced out the window. The gloomy sky had opened up and it began to rain steadily. The sound of the rain almost put her back to sleep. Just as she was about to rest her head back on her pillow, a deafening crash of thunder jolted her back up. “All right, I’m awake. I’m awake,” she groaned as she placed her feet upon the plush white carpet.
After sitting on the edge of her bed for a few more seconds, Autumn stood up and stretched her arms above her head. Then she yawned again as she made her way out of her bedroom and to the kitchen. As she walked to the counter, she adjusted the strap of her nightshirt after it slid off her shoulder. Once in the kitchen, she stood over the counter and stared at the time on the microwave. It was only a quarter until eight.
“Damn. I hate waking up early if I don’t have to,” Autumn grumbled as she finally started showing signs of being alive and poured herself a glass of cold lemon tea. As she went down to sit at the square table, her eyes came across the newspaper. It was on the other side of the table. The section that had the horoscopes had been taken out and was laying open on top. “I guess Miranda bout this after her run earlier,” Autumn said to herself as she reached across the table and grabbed the damp edge of the newspaper. She placed the horoscopes off to the side and opened the first section that contained the headline news.
Just then, Miranda stepped out of her room and stared into the kitchen for a second. “Good morning, Autumn,” her friend said with a smile. “I’ve rarely seen you up this early. Normally you’re always sleeping in.”
Without taking her eyes away from the paper, Autumn shrugged her shoulders and said, “I had no intention of waking up this early. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I just came out here to get a drink.” After she took a sip of her cold tea, she added, “I’m surprised reading the paper hasn’t put me back to sleep.” Then she folded the paper and tossed it over to the other side of the table and leaned back in her chair.
“So I guess that means there was nothing of interest?” Miranda asked as she flipped her medium-length locks off her shoulder. A slight nod was all Miranda received in response from Autumn. Miranda then brushed her dark brunette bangs behind her ear as she made her way over to the sofa. She reached for the remote on the coffee table and turned on the TV. “Maybe there will be something on the early news,” she mentioned before increasing the volume. Autumn rose from the table and placed her glass on the counter. After that, she joined her friend in the living room and sat down in the chair next to the sofa. As the two women sat there, they listened to the end of the weather report.
“The overall outlook for this mild summer day is more thundershowers,” reported the meteorologist. “Though the system has shown signs of weakening, we’ll just keep the possibility for more rain open for the next few days.”
After hearing that, Miranda began to complain. “More rain. When will it end?” All of the sudden, the words “BREAKING NEWS” in large red lettering flashed across the screen. That’s when Autumn signaled for Miranda to be quiet.
“We have breaking news this morning,” the newscaster announced. “Just a few hours ago, three local college students were found dead this morning. The bodies were discovered in an abandoned parking center right outside of the old emergency room. There is no word yet on what caused their deaths. As soon as we find out more information, we’ll let you know.” Having heard that, Autumn took the remote from Miranda and muted the television. As she stood up, she took it and tossed it back on the sofa. However, Miranda continued to read the headlines scrolling across the bottom of the screen for the next few minutes.
Once the news had paused for commercials, a curious Miranda turned to Autumn. “I wonder how something like that could happen,” she mentioned, not knowing if Autumn had heard her. “You normally don’t hear about this sort of thing around here...Well, not to that extent.”
“I don’t know,” replied Autumn. That’s when she remembered something. “Wait a minute,” she said as she faced her friend. “Isn’t your mother a Lieutenant?” Miranda nodded her head once. Autumn then reached over to the kitchen counter and grabbed the cordless phone, tossing it to Miranda. “Why don’t you call her and find out if she knows anything. This is her jurisdiction, so she might know something.”
Just as Miranda, punched the first digit of her mother’s work number, the phone rang. That startled her, for she dropped the phone. “Damn,” she grumbled as she took a deep breath. Miranda picked up the phone and checked the call-ID to see who was calling. “Speak of the devil,” she said. It was her mother. While Miranda was trying to receive information from her mother, Autumn remained in the kitchen and poured herself more tea.
“This doesn’t sound like a typical murder,” Autumn said to herself. “Were they being targeted for some reason? Or maybe they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.” After a couple of minutes passed, Autumn heard Miranda sigh heavily as she ended her call. “Well? Was she able to tell you anything?” Autumn wanted to know as she made her way back to the living room. Miranda tossed the phone down on the cushion before glancing up at her friend.
“Two of the people that were discovered...she’d never heard of before,” began Miranda. “But the third one...He was her friend’s nephew,” she explained to Autumn in a soft tone.
Autumn placed her glass down on the coffee table and sat down at the other end of the sofa. “Was she able to tell you how they died?” Autumn asked almost hesitantly.
“They’re not sure yet,” replied Miranda. “It could be another hour or so before they find out,” she added. After telling Autumn what she learned, Miranda stood up and stretched. “Let’s just try to forget about this for now,” she mentioned as she glanced at her friend.
“Well, I don’t know what you had in mind,” began Autumn as she rose from the sofa, “but I’m going for a walk.” Miranda glared at her like she was insane.
“You’re not serious, are you?” Miranda asked, wondering if she should believe what she had just heard.
“I’m only kidding. Relax,” Autumn said as a faint smile graced her face. “I was just thinking about going to the store. I realized that we’re almost out of pet food,” she added as she went back to her room. When she opened her door, her orange cat walked out and jumped on the sofa. Then Autumn called back, “If you want me to pick up anything for you, just let me know.”
“I have an idea,” Miranda mumbled under her breath as she reached for the remote and turned the television off. “I’ll go with you.” Then she tossed the remote back on the sofa and went to her room to get changed.
In her room, Autumn locked the door and then went straight to her closet. She opened both doors and began rummaging for something to wear. After a minute, Autumn finally found a suitable outfit. It was a black sleeveless shirt along with a pair of faded jeans. Then she tossed the clothes on the bed before going over to her dresser. Autumn opened the second drawer and found the other necessary items she needed. Once she had her clothes picked out, Autumn changed. When she had finished, she tossed her nightclothes into the basket she kept by the door.
Back at her dresser, Autumn reached over to a small dish in which she kept two silver chain necklaces. Autumn put both of them on before she pulled her back in a ponytail. Then she put on her silver thumb ring and various other rings. When she felt that she had on all of the accessories that she wanted, Autumn grabbed her black jacket from her closet and left her room. Once Autumn had returned to the living room, she went over to the mat in front of the door and put on her black shoes. Just then, Miranda exited her room.
“Wait for me,” she said as she placed her wallet in the back pocket of her jeans. Miranda fastened the last button of her navy shirt as she joined Autumn by the front door. “I think I’ll go with you,” she added as she slid on her dark shoes. Then she took her jacket from the coat closet and put it on. Autumn shrugged her shoulders as she unlocked the door. After that, they left.
Outside, the weather seemed to have taken a slight turn for the better. The rain had eased up to nothing more than a mere drizzle. However, the dark clouds remained and once in a while a rumble of thunder could be heard. Both women remained quiet as they walked down the street. For some unknown reason, something appeared to be disturbing Autumn.
“Are you feeling all right, Autumn?” Miranda wanted to know as they stopped at the street corner. “I know you tend to be quiet, but you’re never this quiet,” she added as they started to cross the street.
Autumn sighed before replying, “I’m fine. I’m just...a little tired still.”
“Douka tetsudatte kudasai.”
Just then, Autumn froze. She stopped dead in her tracks right in the middle of the street. Hearing the whisper in her ear made her eyes grow wide. After a few seconds, Autumn thought she was hearing things and took a deep breath. That was until she glanced down the street and saw the shadow of a dark figure staggering down the middle of the road. When Miranda realized that Autumn wasn’t beside her, she turned around and saw her friend standing there with a frightened expression on her face. Confused, Miranda went to Autumn’s side.
“Autumn?” Miranda asked, hoping to get her friend’s attention. “What are you staring at?” When Autumn felt Miranda place her hand on her shoulder, she was awakened from her trance and stared at Miranda. “What were you staring at?” she asked again. That’s when Autumn recognized the street they were standing on.
“Isn’t this the street that leads to the abandoned parking center?” Autumn asked out of curiosity. “You know, the place where those bodies were discovered?”
“Yes, it is,” an irritated Miranda replied as she took a step back. By the tone of her voice, she sounded almost confused. Wanting to know more, she asked, “What does that have to do with anything?” That’s when Autumn tried to take a few steps down the street.. Before she could get anywhere, Miranda grabbed her arm and stopped her. “Please tell me you’re not thinking about going down there, are you?” she demanded to know.
“Why not?” Autumn wanted to know as she glanced back at her friend. “I don’t see the harm in it.” Autumn then freed her arm from Miranda’s grasp and continued to walk down the street. As she made it closer to her destination, Autumn saw the same figure again. It remained motionless as it stood only yards in front of Autumn.
“Douka tetsudatte kudasai.”
“Autumn?” Miranda asked as she walked up behind her. Autumn was in such a trance that she didn’t hear Miranda call her. “Autumn!” Miranda said again as she grabbed her friend’s arm. She didn’t scream, but Autumn was startled and spun around. Her heart was racing. “Why do you keep spacing out like that? What is going on?”
“N-nothing,” stuttered Autumn once she had clamed herself. Not knowing if Miranda would believe her, Autumn asked her the question that she had meant to earlier. “You didn’t see anything? Or hear anything?” she asked almost uncertainly. Confusion washed over Miranda as she shook her head. Autumn rolled her eyes and sighed. “Never mind. Forget I said anything.” When Autumn glanced back down the street, the shadow had vanished. “Where did it go?” she asked under her breath.
“You better not be trying to scare me like you have before,” Miranda stated. Autumn shook her head. “Then let’s go. I want to go to the store, then get back home before it begins to storm again,” she said. In spite of that, Autumn continued on her way to the parking deck. Miranda sighed as she followed her friend. That’s when she asked, “What exactly did you see and hear just now?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” replied Autumn. When she glanced over at Miranda, she realized that she was being serious by the glare in her eyes. Autumn sighed as she said, “I saw a dark shadow.. I thought I was seeing things...That was until I heard it whisper something.”
“Well? What did it say?” Miranda wanted to know.
“Douka tetsudatte kudasai,” Autumn said quietly.
“Do-what?” a puzzled Miranda questioned. “I don’t understand Chinese. What does that mean?”
Autumn sighed before replying, “It’s not Chinese. It’s Japanese.” After correcting Miranda, who in return rolled her eyes, Autumn repeated the statement that she heard the shadow whisper. “Douka tetsudatte kudasai. It means ‘Please help me.’ That's all it kept saying.” Right after Autumn told Miranda what she knew, the two women became aware of the fact that they were at the parking deck. Autumn scanned her eyes around the area. “So this is where the bodies were discovered,” she said under her breath. Just then, Miranda’s cell phone rang. As she stepped aside to answer it, Autumn said, “You’d figure that there would be something left if anyone had been here.” All of the sudden, Autumn felt something quickly force its way through her. The hair on the back of her neck and arms stood on end. Autumn tried to calm herself by taking a deep breath. “What was....that?” she whispered under her breath.
“I just received a call from my boyfriend’s cousin,” Miranda told Autumn as she went back to her side. “She was wondering where we-” Before Miranda could finish her statement, the two women heard a blood-curdling shriek that sent a chill down their spine. Autumn slowly turned her head to the left, which was the direction from where the shriek came from. Only a few feet away were the skid marks, the blood droplets and the shattered glass.
“Where did that come from?” asked Autumn in a hushed tone.
“I don’t know and I don’t think I want to know!” Miranda replied in the same manner, only rather hurriedly. Then she grabbed Autumn’s arm and said, “Julie is waiting for us at the hospital! Now let’s go!” With Autumn’s arm still tight in her grasp, she pulled her friend away and they fled from the parking deck to the hospital, their hearts pounding the whole time.
Once at the hospital entrance, Autumn and Miranda tried to collect themselves. Autumn sighed heavily as she sat down on the only dry bench around. Miranda closed her eyes and rested her face in the palm of her hands to keep from screaming. After a few seconds, Autumn turned to Miranda.
“Before all that happened, what were you going to tell me about Julie?” Autumn wanted to know, trying to forget about what just happened.
“Huh?” Miranda asked as she sat down. Autumn narrowed her eyes. “Oh, right. Julie heard that we were asking about what happened to those three people this morning. Being that my mother knew one of the victims, she agreed to share some information with us.” Miranda brushed her damp bangs behind her ear as she added, “She still has one more body to examine. She said it shouldn’t take her that long.” Miranda then crossed her arms and leaned back on the bench.
“Well, can we at least go inside?” asked Autumn, now almost sounding irritated. With her arms still crossed, Miranda glanced over at Autumn. Autumn had her left leg crossed over her right one. “It’s raining out here and I’m beginning to feel a chill in the air.” Having said that, Autumn stood up and entered the waiting room. Miranda rose to her feet and followed her friend inside.
Upon entering the waiting room, Autumn immediately glanced around for an empty seat. Despite the seemingly large number of patients waiting to be seen by a doctor, Autumn was able to find a few open seats in the corner for Miranda and herself. Almost as soon as Miranda sat down, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a few dollars.
“Did you want anything to eat or drink?” Miranda asked as she stood back up.
“No, thank you,” replied Autumn. As Miranda made her way over to the vending machines, Autumn leaned back in the chair and glanced out the window. However, someone sitting by the window n the opposite corner caught her eye.
Sitting alone across from Autumn was a young woman. She had short black hair that framed her pale face. Her almond-shaped eyes had a light hue to them. Her short sleeved shirt and shorts were stained with dried blood and dirt. On her arms and legs were several scratches and bruises. The young woman’s bottom lip had a slight split in it. After a minute, she slowly picked her head up and stared at Autumn. A tear trickled down the young woman’s cheek. All of the sudden, everything around Autumn grew silent. Her hands went cold.
“Douka tetsudatte kudasai.”
“How can I help you?” Autumn whispered back. “What do you want me to do?”
“How can you help who?” Miranda wondered as she sat down next to her friend. Unbeknownst to Autumn, Miranda had heard everything she whispered. Autumn didn’t hear Miranda’s question and continued to stare in the direction of the window. Miranda glanced in the same direction, but saw nothing. Miranda then placed her hand on Autumn’s shoulder and asked, “What are you staring at?”
“Nothing,” Autumn replied as she shook her head and rubbed her eyes.
Before Autumn could say another word, she noticed that Julie had entered the waiting room. Her long auburn hair wasn’t in a ponytail like she normally wore it. Miranda took a sip of her water as she rose to her feet. With a tired smile on her face, Julie motioned for Autumn and Miranda to follow her. Once Autumn had risen to her feet, she placed her cool hands in the pockets of her jacket in hopes to warm them. Before she followed Miranda and Julie behind the double doors that led to the offices, Autumn took one last glimpse of the corner where the mysterious woman had been. However, she had disappeared. It was as if she hadn’t been there at all.
“I must be hallucinating,” Autumn mumbled under her breath. She kept her eyes closed for a second before joining Miranda and Julie in the office.
“So glad you could finally join us,” Miranda said jokingly as she watched Autumn shut the door. Autumn said nothing as she sat down in the chair next to Miranda. Both women waited patiently as Julie finished typing the last of one of her reports. As Julie frantically typed away, Miranda leaned over to Autumn and whispered, “What do you think happened to those three?” The only thing Autumn did in response was shrug her shoulders.
Once Julie had completed her report, she took off her glasses as she asked, “What exactly was it that you wanted to know again?”
“We were wondering if you could tell us anything about the people that had been discovered earlier,” Autumn answered almost hesitantly.
Knowing what Julie’s response would be, for she leaned back n her chair and crossed her arms, Miranda broke in and said, “I understand that you might not be able to tell us a whole lot, but please! One of them was a friend of mine! I want to know what happened!”
“Take it easy,” Julie said as she closed her eyes. Then a faint smile graced her lips. “I should be able to tell you what you want when my boss sends me the final reports.” Only seconds after Julie spoke, there was a knock on the door. “Maybe these are the results,” Julie mentioned as she rose from her desk and went to answer the door. Autumn and Miranda sat in silence , hoping to overhear what Julie and her intern were talking about. Unfortunately, all they were able to hear was Julie saying, “Thank you,” before shutting the door.
“Are those the autopsy reports?” a curious Miranda wanted to know. Julie nodded as she sat back down at her desk. She opened the manila envelope and took out the papers. She was only given the opportunity to skim over the results before Miranda asked, “Well? What do they say?”
“Not much, unfortunately,” replied Julie, sounding rather disappointed. “There’s no definite cause of death.” Confused, Autumn and Miranda glanced at each other for a second before turning their attention back to Julie. “They tested negative for any foreign toxins and there were no signs of physical trauma.” Then she sighed before saying, “Their health records showed that they were all in perfect health.” After telling Autumn and Miranda what was stated in the reports, Julie placed the papers on top of the envelope. “I guess I’ll have to go back and check everything again,” Julie mentioned. “Just to make sure nothing was botched up.” Just as Julie was about to stand up, she caught a glimpse of Autumn, who appeared to be staring off into space. “Is everything all right, Autumn?”
“I’m fine,” replied Autumn. “I’m just...thinking.” Julie nodded as she picked up the envelope and prepared to go back down to the morgue. Before Julie left, Autumn asked, “Oh, Julie? May I use your computer?”
“Yes, you may,” answered Julie with a smile. “If you don’t mind me asking, what did you need to look up?” the medical examiner wanted to know.
Just as Autumn opened her mouth to respond, Miranda interrupted and said, “Autumn thinks she’s seeing ghosts.” Autumn turned away and shook her head.
“Search for what you like,” Julie mentioned, trying not to laugh. “I’ll try not to be gone for too long.” With having said that, Julie left Autumn and Miranda alone in her office.
“Thanks for making me sound like I’m crazy,” Autumn told her friend when the door clicked shut.
“No problem,” Miranda replied with a small grin. Obviously finding nothing humorous about Miranda’s comment, Autumn just stared at her. After a moment, Autumn rolled her eyes and sat down at Julie’s desk. As Autumn clicked a few keys and began her search, Miranda said, “Sorry. I couldn’t resist.” When she finally wiped the grin from her face, she asked, “Seriously, what are you searching for?”
“I’m looking up any old ghost stories or legends,” Autumn answered without even taking her eyes away from the computer screen. “Maybe one will sound similar to my situation...I hope.”
As Autumn continued her search throughout cyberspace, Miranda picked up a magazine and began to thumb through it. Not one word was spoken, for they both had something occupying their minds. Other than the sounds of Autumn clicking away at the computer and Miranda turning the pages of the magazine, all that could be heard was the sound of thunder and the pouring rain. After visiting several sites and finding no useful information, Autumn sighed heavily and leaned back in the chair. Miranda closed the magazine and tossed it back on the desk.
“Any luck?” Miranda wanted to know.
“Not really,” Autumn replied as she shook her head.
“What exactly did you notice earlier?” Miranda asked.
“I told you about the mysterious shadow that I saw on the way here,” began Autumn. “I thought my mind was playing tricks on me until I heard it whisper something in my ear.” Autumn paused for a second as she leaned forward and placed her hands flat on the desk. “But in the waiting room...I saw an actual apparition. She whispered the same thing as the shadow.”
“So that’s what you were staring at?” Miranda questioned. Autumn nodded. “Maybe you should try another search, but only mention what you just told me.” As Autumn began typing again, Miranda added, “And maybe you should keep in within the Pittsburgh area. That might narrow it down some.”
Autumn did what Miranda had suggested. After typing in the new information, her results were greatly narrowed. Once she had skimmed through a few pages, something caught her eye.
“This sounds promising,” Autumn mentioned as she clicked on the link. Miranda leaned forward and waited for her friend to explain what she had found. “It’s something called...The Messenger,” Autumn said. Only seconds after saying what the site was called, the lights began to flicker.
“I suggest that you hurry up and read what that site has to say before the power goes out,” Miranda suggested as she rose to her feet. “I’m going to check on Julie. Maybe she needs help.”
“All right,” Autumn said as she began to read the information. As soon as Miranda left the office, the lights ceased flickering. Autumn then cracked her knuckles before reading the story aloud to herself.
“The Messenger, as it is often called, has only been reported being seen less than twenty times over the last two years,” Autumn read. “There are rumored to be two stages of The Messenger. To read about the first stage, please go to the next page.” Autumn rolled her eyes as she clicked to go to the next page. While she waited for it to load, she turned around and closed the blinds. When Autumn turned back around, she realized that the page had finally finished loading.
“The first stage, or sighting, is usually a dark shadow or mist,” Autumn read. “Once it has grabbed someone’s attention, it begs for help. Most people that claimed to have seen this shadow ignored it or paid it no attention. The small amount of people who dove deeper into finding out whom or what the shadow is have seen the second stage, or sighting.”
“What does this mean?” Autumn mumbled under her breath as she waited for the next page to load. When it did, the first thing Autumn saw was an image at the top of the page. “That’s exactly what I saw!” Autumn exclaimed, referring to the image that was the first sighting. “But...This isn’t making any sense.” Hoping to finally receive some answers, Autumn continued reading on.
“The second stage, or sighting, has been rarely seen,” Autumn read. By the way she read it, she sounded almost confused. “The dark mist had now become an apparition, or ghost-like figure, of a person still begging for help. However, should one try to converse with The Messenger, the results can be-” Before Autumn could finish reading the sentence, the power went off.