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Lynbrook High rests on a curved hill overlooking the dim, murky forests below. Twisted trees howl through the sinister air, as a thick cloud of fog looms over the school in clandestine. Flocks of crows, perched on the shaky branches, watch a young student jog through the dense fog. With their beady, dark eyes, they squawk as the student climbs the ominous hill.
Steve Andrews trudges his way deep into the dense fog, up the hazy mound. He lugs a giant knapsack, stamping down piles of leaves in his path. He accidental trips on some slippery leaves, falling face first onto the ground. Cursing under his breath, he gets up, sprinting toward the school.
It was a new semester and many students, like him, wanted a fresh start. This time, he had a new routine: wake up, eat breakfast, go to class, and try not to sleep. Many students went to Lynbrook for no apparent reason. It was a small school of roughly 500 students. Steve didn’t learn much last semester and the days went by slowly. Still, he needed an “education” in order to go to college like many of his family members did.
Steve forcefully hitches the school door open. It was an old, metal door that hurt his arms every time he opened it. The whole school was falling apart and many students and teachers wanted the school to be renovated. However, Lynbrook didn’t have the money to do so.
The building was constructed out of maple wood that was slowly rotting away. The walls were mainly composed of dilapidated red bricks and pieces of corroded metal. A large rusted bell, guarded high in a little bell tower, sat on top of a reddish roof. Faint words, to difficult to read, were inscribed on the bottom. Some students argued this school was built way back in the early 1900’s, right when the town reported the disappearances of several people.
As Steve walks through the dim halls, hoping to get to homeroom early, he accidentally bumps into a girl. Her books and pencils fall, sprawling across the floor.
“Oh! I’m sorry,” he exclaims.
The girl stares at him with her passive eyes like it was no big deal. She looks like a doll, with short, black hair clipped to a mini skull hairclip, and dark eyeliner on her eyes. She carries a black satchel, along with a pen and a notepad labeled: Entry Journal. Her ghostly, pale skin illuminates in the dim light of the hallways. Her eyes are different colours: black and blue.
Steve helps gather the books and pencils and gives them to the girl. She thanks him with a mumble and strolls away. He had never met a girl like that before. This wasn’t normal at Lynbrook High.
The morning bell rings as many students hustle to their classes. Steve was glad that he wasn’t late as he makes his way to an empty seat. The desk sits right in the middle of the classroom and he felt he was going to be watched. A lot.
As he takes his seat, another student suddenly “appears” beside him. Steve thought no one could’ve possibly been there. The desk beside him is empty and way older than the others, yet out of nowhere, a student had claimed it.
He was a male student – no older than him –with skin as white as the cotton shirt he was wearing. The light shined on his colorless skin, simply going through his body like a piece of glass. Instead of legs, he had a floating white tail that you could see through.
Why couldn’t they see him? Why am I the only one that can see him? Steve hadn’t thought about it, but he knew that this student was one of “them”.
The bell rings as Steve strolls his way to the cafeteria. The sun bursts through the grey clouds on a lazy, damp afternoon. He makes his way into the cafeteria, hoping to get dibs on the weekly apple pies. He thinks about the girl he met this morning and his legless classmate. He could see things no ordinary boy could see sometimes.
A few minutes ago, while eating lunch, he could’ve sworn seeing a girl floating into the room as she grabbed her lunch. With hair as grey as ash, her transparent body passed through the cafeteria doors. Not one student noticed her except him.
Steve couldn’t believe what was happening. He had seen students like them before, but there were more of “them” this semester than the last. How they got here? He may never know.
After eating, he decides the best thing to do is to visit the library and talk with the head librarian, Ms. Evans, the oldest staff member and also the wisest. Some students say she’s been the librarian ever since the school was built, but it was only a “rumour”.
Steve finds the lady reading Gone with the Wind on her usual cushioned chair and wooden desk. It is piled with mountains of books, documents, manuscripts, and late fees.
“It’s rare to see you in the library, Mr. Andrews,” she says. “May I ask why you are here?”
He hunches down and murmurs under his breath, “I’ve been seeing “them” again Ms. Evans and there’re more of them this semester.”
Her weary eyes darts towards my face. “Are you sure of that?”
“Yes,” I reply.
She sips her usual afternoon tea through her pursed lips; then gets up and walks towards me.
“Do not let any of the other students know what you have seen,” she mutters. “I think it is best to consult this with the principal and student council. We cannot let the students know they are here.”
Steve and Ms. Evans rush out of the library, into the crowded hallways. The bell rings; signaling the end of lunch. Briskly walking through the endless crowd, Steve notices an ashen boy, waiting by the science room. He twirls his head like a basketball on his finger, leisurely watching the students.
At the same time, a girl runs right into his body. His body shudders as the girl leaves an eerie trail behind him.
Grey clouds overcast the afternoon sun, bringing a soggy downpour. Steve and Ms. Evans arrive at the principal’s office. It is a tiny workspace that had a broken door at the front. Like many doors at this school, it was old. Ms. Evans jerks open the door.
“Wait here,” she utters. “Let us hope the principal will discuss this matter with the council.”
She opens the door, leaving him in the empty halls. Waiting to kill time, Steve watches the autumn leaves fall gracefully onto the grass. Colours of red, orange, yellow, and brown painted the ground like a giant canvas. Steve never liked fall, but it was still wonderful to look at.
Tip Tap. Tip Tap. A mysterious sound echoes through the vacant hallways. He turns to find the mysterious girl from the morning, slowly walking closer… and closer… and closer.
His heart felt like it was going to explode.
Ba Dump! … Ba Dump! … Ba Dump!
His lips start to dry and his body trembles vigorously. Is she one of “them”? He couldn’t tell. Heaven knows where she and her friends might have come from.
His eyes meet the girl. She glares, studying him with her black and blue eyes, which seemed to drill deep into his mind.
“You can see us right?” she asks.
Steve didn’t know how to answer. “I… uh… um –“
The girl presses her sheer cold finger on his lips, “its okay. You don’t need to answer.” The bell rings silently into the air.
She strolls down the hallways; her arm passing through the wall like it was invisible. Her strange shadow stalks her through the empty halls.
Before leaving, the girl turns and grins at him. “Hey Steve,” she says, “things aren’t always what they seem in Lynbrook, are they?”