Being Someone You're not | Teen Ink

Being Someone You're not

November 8, 2017
By GabsLovesPotatoes, Boise, Idaho
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GabsLovesPotatoes, Boise, Idaho
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Author's note:

I was inspired to write this after reading mysteries by a wonderful author named April Henry. I hope that all you readers can leave with a curious mind, and that this will inspire you to write.

Jake peered over the side of the tall footbridge above the river that he loved so dearly. The most often abandoned footbridge was a place he felt safe and comforted; a place where he could watch the sunsets peacefully, away from the din of his house.
He hopped up onto the railing and sat down, his legs dangling over the edge. His mother had warned him not to do this, but he never listened.
“Hey! Jake!” Jake turned around to see his three best friends, Neil, Grace, and Brooklyn.
“Yo dude!” Neil exclaimed as he walked up to Jake, and patted him on the back, Jake jumped off of the railing, and onto the sidewalk next to Neil.
“What’s up, Neil,” Jake said smiling.
  “Are you still coming over on Saturday?” Neil asked eagerly.
“You know it,” Jake replied, chuckling, and lightly punched Neil in the shoulder.
Neil had thick, curly, black hair. He loved video games with a burning passion. He loved them so much, that he would sometimes act and talk strangely, as if he were in a game, or online.
“Hello, Jake,” Grace said. Sweetly, Grace walked over to Jake.
Grace had shoulder length dark brown hair, and if you glanced at her, she could somewhat remind someone of Velma, a character from Scooby Doo.
“Hi there, Grace, how’s it going?” Jake asked as he leaned on the rail.
“Well, I have been improving with my-” Grace started, but was interrupted as Neil hit her back and laughed. Grace stumbled a bit, and adjusted her black glasses with purple trim. Neil pivoted around, and yelled to Brooklyn, who casually leaned on the railing as she looked at the rushing water below the footbridge.

“Yo! Brooke! You coming!?” Neil shouted. Brooklyn glared at him.

Brooklyn had light brown hair with blonde highlights, that was very wavy. She usually wore her signature black hoodie, and skinny jeans.
“Don’t call me that!” Brooklyn yelled to him, glaring. Brooklyn disliked being called Brooke, there wasn't any special reason, she just didn't like it.
“Ok, Ok, calm down, Brookzilla,” Neil said, chuckling.
Brooklyn walked over, and smiled at her friends.
“Hey Jakie,” she said, and smiled brightly at him, he could feel his cheeks get tingly as he lightly blushed.
“Hey Brooklyn,” He said as he smiled back at her.
Neil looked over the edge of the railing, he peered down at the river, the water looked suddenly calmer than before.
“Hey guys, I have a crazy thought,” Neil said, grinning.
“W-what?” Grace asked timidly, a bit frightened at what he was about to answer with.
“We should totally jump off the bridge and swim to that dock over there,” He answered excitedly, and looked around, to see Grace's terrified face, and Brooklyn and Jake glaring at him.
“Seriously?” Jake said, raising an eyebrow. “You know how much Brooklyn hates swimming.” Neil looked over the bridge again, his eyes bright.
“Well I never said she has to come!” Brooklyn shrugged and looked at Neil, her lips quirked up a bit, into a small smirk.
“Oh it's ok Neil, go ahead, but it's going to be freezing and you'll probably die,” She said smilingly.
“Yeah, there most likely underwater currents to pull you down.” Grace said, and giggled as she looked down at the water below. Jake laughed, Neils face went pale.
“Yeah, on second thought…count me out…” Neil said, he backed away from the railing, crossing his arms, everybody laughed.
Suddenly, Jake's phone went off, it was a text from his mom.
“Sorry guys, I have to head home…”  Jake said, looking at his friends sadly.
“What? Why?” Neil asked, frowning.
“Sorry, mom’s rules,” Jake answered, and hopped onto his bike. “I'll see you guys tomorrow at school.” His friends waved at him as he rode off.
As Jake rode home, he felt that it had begun to rain, it seemed strange to him, as the sky had been clear not ten minutes ago, but he paid no attention to it, and pulled his hood over his head, riding down the street. He shivered in the rain, his house was about four miles from the footbridge, and it was a long bike ride to get to and from the two destinations.He pulled up to a stoplight, and looked across the street to a park, he could see down a little pavement path that led to the fountain in the middle of the park. There were many benches surrounding the fountain, and as Jake looked around, he saw a bag sitting on one of them. A tall figure in a black trenchcoat walked up to the bench, and slung the bag over their shoulder. The strange figure turned to face the stop light, staring at Jake, it felt like they could see into his soul, and see his thoughts and every emotion at that moment. The feeling made him sick to his stomach, and he got goosebumps, he blinked. The strange figure had disappeared! Jake looked around in surprise, but they were nowhere to be seen in the pouring rain.

The light changed as Jake saw that familiar walk sign, and he hesitantly rode home.

Jake walked into his house, his mother's car wasn't there, so he figured she had run to the store to get some things for dinner.
“Sam!” Jake called out to his sister, setting his bag on the table. He took his shoes off and sat on the couch, messing with his spiky, now wet, brown hair.
Sam was Jake's sister, she had thick and curly red hair, and usually dwelled in her room upstairs. “Sam!” The thirteen year old yelled again, before hearing his seventeen year old sister groan.
“What is it, dweeb?” Sam yelled, and appeared at the top of the stairwell with a bag of chips in her hand.
“Where’s mom?” Jake asked, turning the tv on.
“She went out for a while, I'm in charge,” Sam replied, Jake could hear her as she munched on the chips.
“Dang,” Jake laughed, and his sister came down and sat on the couch next to him.
Suddenly, a loud boom could be heard outside, and the lights flickered.
“Geez, you had to ride home in THAT weather?” His sister asked, and looked up at the lights.
“It wasn't that bad, you know I love the rain,” He said, chuckling a bit, and looked up at the flickering lights along with his sister.
“I wouldn't be surprised if the lights went out-” His sister started, before another loud boom shook the house and the lights blacked out.
“You jinxed it,” Jake said, he watched as his sister got up.
“Yeah, yeah, I'll go get some candles…” She said with a groan, and walked off.
Jake got up off the couch, and walked to the window and looked out at the thunderstorms they had grown so accustomed to. The thunder roared, like a lion trying to escape its cage, and the lightning flashed, lighting their yard, and went away, leaving darkness once again, only to be met with another flash of blinding light.
Jake peered into the yard, seeing something, but he couldn't quite make it out. The lightning flashed, to reveal a man, looking quite familiar, standing in the yard, Jake felt uneasy, and his eyes widened as he realised, it was the man from the park!
The lightning flashed again, and he was gone, Jake started to panic, he locked the window, and yelled up the stairs to his sister.
“Sam! Come here, hurry!” Sam came down, worried at her brothers panicked voice.“What happened?” She asked in a panic.

“Th-there was someone in the yard,” Jake said.
“Lock all the doors,” Sam said. “Now.” She tried to keep her cool, but Jake could sense his sisters panic, he nodded, and headed for the front door, when someone knocked loudly.
Jake gulped, as Sam pulled him away from the door, and grabbed a spatula from the kitchen counter next to her. She stepped in front of Jake, and opened the door, ready to attack.
It was their mom, Jake let out a relieved sigh silently, glad it was their mother, and not some crazed murderer. She had two big bags of groceries in her hands. Sam helped her get them inside. She and Jake shared a look, as if they were agreeing not to tell their mother...yet.
That night, they all sat at dinner quietly, until it was time for bed. Jake couldn’t sleep, he had a thousand questions buzzing like a swarm of bees in his head. Who was this man? Why was he in the yard? And what does he want?

The next day, Jake got up and got ready for school, it was Monday, and the strange events of the day before hadn't left his mind. He got up and put his uniform on, brushed his hair, and grabbed his bag. He looked at his clock, it was five minutes before the bell would ring! He was going to be late!
Jake darted out of the house. He made sure to grab an apple on his way out, and ran down the sidewalk. He decided it would be quicker to cut through the backyard, and so he hopped over a fence, and ran onward towards his school.
After a while, Jake reached the steps to the front door of his school, Norson Jr. High, right as the office assistant closed them. It was clear she wasn't going to let him in. Jake groaned, and decided he’d wait for the bell to ring for first period. He sat down, taking off his bag, and ran his fingers through his hair that just couldn’t seem to stay out of his eyes.
He looked around, feeling as if he was being watched, although he was sure it was just the office assistant watching him and giggling to herself. He sighed. “Ugh, absent is going to kill me.”
After about forty-five minutes, the bell rang, he stood up, as a bunch of students came flooding out. Some girls said hi, giggling to their friends.
Jake had always been one of the more attractive guys in their grade, and always had girls coming up to him, asking him questions. Jake never really liked that scene though, he just wanted to spend time with his friends, and focusing on his academics.
Jake always heard people whisper about him in the halls, things like, He never wants to hang around with us, and Why is he always hanging out with those losers, He didn't like that people talked about his friends that way, but what could he do?
He walked on towards class, ignoring everyone, until he saw his friends, they waved him over. Jake told them about the night before. Grace almost passed out.
“And after I got home, I saw the very same guy standing in the yard, but he was gone in a flash of lightning.” Jake looked around at his friends.
“Woah! You think it's a ghost?” Neil said excitedly, a shimmer in his eye.
“Uh...Neil? Are you...happy about this?” Brooklyn asked. She looked at him, her arms crossed and an eyebrow raised.
“No! Of course not! It’s just...intriguing,” Neil replied awkwardly, chuckling a little.Grace chimed in, she stuttered as she spoke, “W-what do we do?! This is a real problem!” Grace looked around, a worried expression on her face.

“Yes, it is. I need to figure out who this person is, and quick,” Jake said, beginning to pace, he was starting to freak out, and didn't believe that this had been coincidence.
The bell rang.
“Hey, let’s meet at the bridge today, I'll see you guys later,” Brooklyn said, and flashed a smile at them, then walked off to her next class.
Jake hurried into his favorite class, english. Jake always loved to write, or come up with little stories and scenarios in his head. One he had been working on, was a story about a seventh grade class, that always gave their teacher, Mr. Beaker, a hard time.
Jake sat down in his seat. He got his notebook out, jotting down a short story based off of the recent events. A girl sat down at the seat next to him and smiled at him, and got her work out. He recognised her from the hallway, she got bullied a lot. He looked at her, she was so happy. He wondered how she acted as if she were fine, when everyone treated her so terribly.
“Hey,” Jake said, and smiled at her, she looked at him.
“Oh, hello Jake!” She said, and smiled. He was a bit puzzled, he had never told her his name before, but he shrugged it off, thinking she probably heard it somewhere.
“How was your day...uh…” Crap. He forgot her name.
“Julie. My name is Julie,” She said, and giggled.
Jake blushed out of embarrassment, and chuckled.
“Sorry, heh, I’m not very good with names…” He said, as Julie smiled.
“That's ok, neither am I.” The teacher cleared his throat as class started. “Talk to you later,” Jake said and smiled.
“Mhm.” Julie nodded and looked down at her papers again
as the teacher started talking.
After school, Jake headed over to the footbridge to meet his friends, who were all waiting for him. Neil happily waved him over.
They all hung out at the bridge for a while, and decided that Jake should look around at the park for any clues.
“I think someone should go with him,” Brooklyn said, looking a little worried.
“Oh! I’ll go! Please?” Neil asked, putting on his best puppy dog face to Jake.
“Ok, then it’s settled, come on Neil,” Jake said, he grinned a little as Neil celebrated.
They got on their bikes as the girls said goodbye.
“Be safe, boys!” Brooklyn yelled after them, smiling. Jake smiled at the comment, and they rode off to the park.

Neil and Jake arrived at the park a little later, and hopped off their bikes. Jake looked around, the park was pretty dry, except for a few puddles here and there.
Jake walked around looking for clues, he walked over to the bench that he had seen the man at.
“He was standing right here,” Jake said, waving Neil over.“I’m with Brooklyn, we should look around for clues,” Grace said. Her voice trembled a bit, but she pushed her glasses up with a determined face.
“That’s the spirit, guys,” Jake said, glad that he wasn’t there alone. “We should split up into pairs,” Neil said. Jake thought it was a good idea.
“Yeah, that way, we will all have a buddy, and we will still be able to search.” Jake looked at his friends. Brooklyn nodded, and Grace reluctantly agreed.
“We should look for clues over here then!” Neil looked under the bench.
“Yeah, that's why I called you over here,” Jake said with a laugh.
They looked around, and after a while of searching, Neil called out to Jake.
“Jake!” Neil yelled. Jake, who was on the other side of the park, darted over to Neil.
“What did you find?” Jake panted out of exhaustion. Neil held up a scrap of paper, with an address on it.
“I think we should check it out,” Neil said. “Could be useful.” Jake thought for a second.
“Ok, let’s go get Brooklyn and Grace,” Jake said.
“You should put this in your inventory,” Neil said, and gave the paper to Jake, he made sure to put it in his pocket carefully.
They hopped onto their bikes once again and rode as fast as they could, back to the bridge.
Brooklyn and Grace were sitting in a patch of grass, their bikes strewn to the sides, they were picking blades of grass and talking about, well, whatever girls talk about, Jake wondered. They rode up to them, out of breath from the ride.
“Park...bench...paper...address…” Neil desperately tried to tell them what they found, but was way too winded.
“I think he’s trying to communicate,” Brooklyn said, as Neil gasped for air. Jake pulled the wrinkled piece of paper from his pocket gingerly.
“We found this at the park, we think it might lead to more clues.” Jake  looked at the girls. Grace adjusted her glasses and looked closely at the paper, while Brooklyn leaned in over Jake's shoulder. 7619 N. Mckinley St. it read.
“Well then what are we waiting for?! Let’s go!” Brooklyn excitedly hopped onto her bike.The four friends rode off, unprepared for what was to face them, but they didn't care, oh no, they were together, and as long as they were, nothing scared them.

They rode, and rode, and rode, and after forty five whole minutes of riding, they arrived to an old, rickety house. It looked horrible, windows boarded up, or broken, the paint job an old worn blue. Rust covered just about anything it could, until most of the house ended up having an orange tinge rather than a blue. It looked as if it were to fall down with a single touch, Jake thought it to be a miracle it was still standing tall, waiting for it's next visitor, sure to be them.
“A-are you sure this is the right place, Jake?” Grace asked timidly, shaking like a leaf. 
“Mhm, 7619 North Mckinley, this is it,” Jake responded, before gulping.
“We should stick together, safety in numbers, right?” Brooklyn looked around at her friends.
“We should hold hands, just so that we don’t lose each other…” Neil said, he looked worried, but tried to play it cool.
“Yeah, that's a good idea,” Grace said.
They all gripped each other's hands, Neil on one end, Jake on the other, then Grace holding Neil’s and Brooklyn holding Jake’s.
The four walked in, cautiously looking around. The door creaked open, and the floorboards groaned. Jake looked around, the interior of the old house was even worse than the outside. There was a green, dust-covered couch on top of a vintage rug. To the right, a lonely, cold fireplace sat, covered with cobwebs, dusty pictures and trinkets put out on display atop it. A brown chair had been knocked over, one of the legs broken.
Jake looked slightly to the right, and out of all of the items in the room, this thing made chills travel down Jake's spine. It was a large portrait on the wall next to the stairs that were in front of them. It looked like a man, a soldier, and it stared at him, Jake felt sick, and the smell of the house didn't help. A faint rot-like stench lingered in the room, he wanted to leave.
Jake could hear Neil whisper.
“M-maybe we should leave…” Neil said, a huge gulp following.
“We have to press forward Neil, or we’ll never get to the bottom of this.” Brooklyn spoke confidently, but Jake could feel her grip his hand a bit tighter.“I’m with Brooklyn, we should look around for clues,” Grace said. Her voice trembled a bit, but she pushed her glasses up with a determined face.

“That’s the spirit, guys,” Jake said, glad that he wasn’t there alone. “We should split up into pairs,” Neil said. Jake thought it was a good idea.
“Yeah, that way, we will all have a buddy, and we will still be able to search.” Jake looked at his friends. Brooklyn nodded, and Grace reluctantly agreed.

Grace paired up with Neil, and Brooklyn paired up with Jake. Jake and Brooklyn set out to explore the lower half of the house, while Grace and Neil explored the top half. That meant that they were stuck with the basement.
Jake looked through the living room while Brooklyn looked in the kitchen, when all of a sudden...boom!
“Did you hear that?” Brooklyn said, she ran into the living room.
“Yeah,” Jake said. “What do you think it was?”
Another thud echoed in the room, Brooklyn and Jake looked at each other.
“We should check it out, right?” Brooklyn looked to Jake with a helpless expression.
“Are you kidding me?! Have you seen a horror movie before?” Jake said with a teasing smirk.
“I think we should leave Jake, I don’t like it here,” Brooklyn said.
“Ok,” Jake said. “But let’s go find Grace and Neil first, ok?” Brooklyn nodded, and grasped Jake's hand again.
“If you say so, Jake,” Brooklyn said, and gave him a concerned look. Jake gripped her hand, and they walked upstairs cautiously. The floorboards creaked under them.
“Gracie? Hello?” Brooklyn looked around.
No answer. The silence seemed to ring in Jake's ears.
“Neil? Dude, this isn’t funny, come out here,” Jake said. He took a deep breath. He thought to himself, it's ok, just keep looking for them. Still no answer.
Suddenly, Neil and Grace came running into the hallway.
“We need to leave. Now,” Neil said. Jake looked over to Grace, who looked terrified.
“Come on, let’s go,” Jake said.
They all rushed down the stairs. Jake tried to open the front door. It was locked.“I-I can’t open it,” Jake yelled. All of a sudden, pounding could be heard on the basement door. Jake put a chair to the door, trying to block it off to anyone wanting to get out. The four friends looked among each other.

“The window upstairs! Come on,” Grace said, and darted up the stairs.
They all ran up the stairs frantically, and into the master bedroom.
“Jake! Help me get this window open,” Neil said, as he ran to the window and pulled on it. Jake ran over to the window and helped Neil. A crash could be heard downstairs. Whoever was in the basement, wasn’t anymore. Loud footsteps ran up the stairs. Neil and Jake managed to get the window open, Brooklyn and Grace shut the door.
“Come on,” Neil yelled to his friends. “Let’s go!” Brooklyn barricaded the door, and ran over with Grace.
Neil escaped out the window, Grace followed. The door burst open. A large figure burst into the room. It was the very same man from the park, but then… it wasn’t. The man popped his neck, and the sound made shivers travel up and down his spine. It's face slowly morphed into this… thing. It was very tall and lanky, and also very pale. It had black bug-like eyes and sharp claws. It had sharp yellow teeth, that reminded Jake of an angler fish. Suddenly, it hit Jake that he knew what it was, and he was shocked that it had ever actually existed.
It was a skinwalker.

The skinwalker quickly gripped Brooklyn by the wrist as she started to run, and began to dig it's claws into her skin. Jake watched in horror as he saw the bone-chilling face slowly morph into the one of a beloved friend.
As some people know, a skinwalker is a mythical being, that steals the skin of people. While doing this, the skinwalker will kill the person whose skin it is stealing, and will use it’s skin to become that person, in order to get more victims to feed off of.
About halfway through the transformation, Jake noticed as Brooklyn got paler, Jake had to do something! He pushed Brooklyn away from the skinwalker, but now they both looked the same. Jake took off a section of wood that had been nailed to a chair, but had loosened over time.
“O-ok, who is the real Brooklyn,” Jake said as he held the wooden weapon towards both of them, ready to attack.
“Me! Jake, stab it! I’m the real one,” One of them said, pointing to the other.
“What?! I’m the real one,” The other replied. Jake couldn’t tell who the actual Brooklyn was.
“Ok, where was I at 7:00 pm on Sunday?” He looked between the two.
“Oh my god, that is so easy! You were with us, of course! Remember when Neil tried to jump off the bridge?” The one on his right said, looking pleadingly at Jake.
“Jake you do realize that it stalked you,” The other on his left said, giving him a sassy look.
“I think I know which one to trust,” Jake said, looking at the one on his right.
“J-Jake, you don’t actually believe it, do you?” They said with a terrified face.
“Sorry, but your skinwalking days are over,” Jake said and ran towards it, tackling it to the ground and holding the stake above it's chest as it fought.
“Jake! Stop,” It yelled, but he drove the stake into it's chest.
“Aaaah!” It screamed and backed up against the wall, trying to pull the stake out.
“Hurry Brooklyn!” Jake jumped out the window.
“I’ll be right there!” She said, and turned to the Brooklyn struggling against the wall
She cracked her neck eerily as her face slowly transformed, Jake had stabbed the wrong one.“Thank you, deary,” It said and grinned at her.

“J-Jake…” Brooklyn struggled more against the wall, trying to call out to Jake as she got paler.
“It’s ok, don’t fret, Jake will be safe with me,” It said with a giggle.
“Are you coming?! Jake yelled from outside.
“Oh my, seems like our time is up,” It leaned in closer to Brooklyn’s face as it whispered. “Shh, just let go, you’ll see your friends soon enough.” It smiled creepily at Brooklyn, and Brooklyn closed her eyes, gripping the stake in her chest.
“J-Ja…” Brooklyn tried to say, but it was too late, the darkness had consumed her as she closed her eyes for an eternities rest. She let out one final exhale, as the breath left her body for good.
“Brooklyn?!” Jake could be heard yelling from outside.
“Sorry Jake! I'm coming down!” It yelled, as it snapped it's neck inhumanly, once again morphing into Brooklyn. It smiled as it's pitch black eyes shone, but with a single blink, they turned into the familiar blue eyes of the girl that had been so close to Jake. It smiled and brushed its hair to the side, then crawled out the window after Jake, but not after looking back at the cold, lifeless girl slumped against the wall, paler than paper.

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