As students are walking about the hallways, Chad, Vitani and Josh turn the corner while chatting with each other. They are looking at a poster in Vitani’s hand and discussing whether they should all go to the Midnight Masquerade coming up later this week. It’s being hosted by the Milano sisters in the spirit of Halloween, coming up later this month.

However, Chad muses with a grin, “Hey I’m supposed to be a nerd, guys. I don’t do much partying.”

Vitani smiles, “Oh? That’s not what I heard about you at last week’s football party with Ray Torres.”

Josh adds, “Your friend even took you home after you passed out from like four beers, remember?”

Chad turns to them, “I remember you daring me to try the beer. I also remember feeling like I was gonna puke and heading upstairs in one of the dorm rooms to lie down, but I don’t remember anything about Ray taking me back to my dorm room. Are you sure about that?”

Vitani raises her eyebrows and smirks, “You mean he didn’t tell you?”

Chad shrugs and replies, “We hung out a few times this week and he didn’t mention anything like that.”

Josh grins, “Sounds like something else interesting might’ve happened once you two were alone.”

Vitani and Josh exchange glances before they giggle. Chad blushes to himself before pondering on it.

“Look, we’re gonna head over to the Libretta and hang out for a while. You can catch up with us later after you to talk to Ray Torres … who happens to be right over there,” Vitani points out, “Maybe you can invite him to the Halloween masquerade and something else interesting might happen.”

Chad sighs and muses, “I dunno guys …”

Vitani says, “Look, we know what happened with Rick must’ve taken away your faith in a lot of things.”

Josh adds, “But if you let yourself run scared forever, then he’s also taking away your chances of ever having any kind of faith again. And he and his manipulations would’ve won. So don’t let him win. We’re not saying anything has to happen before you’re ready, but just don’t wait until it’s too late.”

Vitani nods, “Just wait until it feels right. And only you know how you really feel about Ray Torres.”

Chad shakes his head, “What I feel and what he feels may be totally different. But I guess there’s only one way for me to find that out, huh?”

Vitani and Josh nod before walking away. Chad sighs deeply before he turns and heads across the hallway, over to Ray Torres himself, who is busy putting some math books in his locker. Chad takes a deep breath before tapping him on the shoulder.

“Hey C.K.! What’s up?” Ray says with a grin.

“What’s up with you not telling me about what happened during the party last week?” Chad asks.

“Oh,” Ray closes his locker and turns to him, “Well, is there something to tell?”

“Um, I heard you took me back to my dorm afterwards, but you never told me,” Chad explains.

“You passed out after having a few beers, so I did,” Ray replies, “But I didn’t mention it because I guess I didn’t want to make things awkward between us. What if you didn’t remember and I were to bring up what you said to me when we were back at your place that night?”

“What? What did I say?” Chad asks nervously.

“You said … that you were afraid to love,” Ray says.

“W-Why would I say something like that?” Chad asks, scratching his head.

“You were going in and out of it when I was carrying you. But when I’d put you to bed, I said that I just hoped it meant that you loved being at the party almost as much as I did. And that’s when you mumbled that you were afraid to love,” Ray tells him, “When I asked what you meant, you had dozed off. So I’m going to ask now. What did you mean by you were afraid to love?”

Chad pauses nervously, “Oh …”

Ray looks at him, “I mean it’s the way you said it that stuck with me. You were so nervous and you even started shaking a bit. That’s when it hit me that it felt like you were confessing how you felt to me.”

Chad starts to get so nervous that he looks away as he tries to think of a quick excuse. However, Ray puts a hand on his shoulder and turns Chad back to face him. Chad gulps nervously as Ray looks him right in the eye.

“And I just want you to know that if something happened you know you can tell me,” Ray says.

“I know,” Chad says softly.

“Then tell me, is it that you’re like, in love with someone?” Ray suggests with a smirk, “Is that what you’re afraid of? Because if that’s the case, I hope it makes you feel better if I tell you now that I’m twice as scared as you are … since I think I might be in love with someone too.”

Chad looks up in surprise, “… Ray I …”

Ray continues, “And if it’s something that you know is only gonna cause you pain, then I hope you can trust me enough as your friend to tell me, so that I don’t make the same kind of mistake. That is, if it is a mistake.”

Chad shrugs, “I’m not the best person to go to when it comes to love …”

Ray replies, “If you’re both heading in the right direction, you’re gonna meet that person halfway. And I wanna know if I’m heading in the right direction with how I feel as well. So are you gonna tell me how it is you really feel, C.K.?”

Chad tries to say something, but the words don’t exactly come out. Ray pulls on his backpack and sighs.

Ray tells him, “If you’re not ready to tell me I understand. But I just hope you don’t wait until it’s too late to tell that person how you feel. Sometimes fear can cost us more than what you could’ve gotten with a few brave words of truth.”

With that, Ray turns and walks off down the hall in the crowd of students. Chad sighs to himself.

= = =

  Meanwhile, Vitani and Josh are heading across campus over to the school theater. Josh walks up to the side doors and pulls out a pair of keys. He opens the door and allows Vitani inside before he follows her in and closes the door. They are in the vestibule before the theater proper.

“The coach wanted some of the basketball team to volunteer as manpower to help set up the theater for the Halloween costumes display and sale this week,” Josh explains. “I just wanted to make sure everything was in order here before tomorrow. Mrs. Chase and that new assistant, Ms Harriet, are even scarier than the costumes.”

“You and someone else had the same idea,” Vitani mentions.

Josh looks around to see her holding a backpack that was left at the front desk. Josh takes a look at it.

“Yeah, this is Derrick’s. He’s a point guard on my team,” Josh says, “But where is he?”

“He must be in the theater,” Vitani looks over, “Apparently enjoying a movie.”

Vitani and Josh look around to see lights flickering through the crack under the doors to the theater. They approach the door and try to open it, but to no avail. Josh knocks on the door for his teammate to open up, but no such thing happens, nor is there any answer. Vitani wonders what is going on. Josh looks at her before turning his hands to steel and yanking the door open. After his hands return to normal, he and Vitani enter the room and see static on the screen. Josh then spots Derrick sitting in the front row of the theater seats. They head down to him calling out to him, but he doesn’t answer. Vitani and Josh are alarmed when they see his skin is unnaturally pale.

“I wouldn’t say he was enjoying this movie,” Josh says.

“Looks like he saw something walk straight out of a horror movie,” Vitani adds worriedly.

Just then, they hear the faint sound of a laugh before the screen flickers. They exchange glances.




The next day, Chad drops by the Libretta after class and joins Vitani and Josh at their table.

He swings off his backpack before sitting down with a deep sigh. “So, what’s going on?”

“Some sick kind of Halloween prank apparently,” Vitani begins. “Yesterday, Josh and I found one of his teammates sitting in the theater traumatized. When he was taken to the hospital, all the kids watching were talking about him falling for the Horror Hex.”

“It’s supposed to be some kind of video message of some horror or something that’s being sent around to people; it makes them severely traumatized if they watch it,” Josh explains. “Apparently, they are usually sent to get revenge on someone in the spirit of Halloween. So if you get any strange messages this week, whatever you do, do not open it.”

“I’m afraid to open up so many other scary things as it is,” Chad muses.

Just then, Ray Torres walks into the bookshop café in friendly banter with some of his football buddies before the boys all head to a table. Chad looks over at them and sighs. Vitani and Josh exchange looks and she taps Chad’s hand.

“So, did you invite him to the masquerade yet?” Vitani asks.

“Well, no,” Chad admits with a scratch on his head.

Josh teases, “C’mon Vitani. You know he’s already got a big date with his science books anyway.”

Chad replies, “And you could always meet ’em face to face too, when I throw them at you, Josh.”

Vitani adds, “Or you could go talk to Ray Torres face to face now that he’s gone over to the counter, and tell him you wanna go to the Halloween party with him.”

Chad stands up, “Fine. I’ll go talk to him. We’re just friends anyway.”

Vitani and Josh wink at him with huge grins. Chad rolls his eyes and excuses himself from the table before he heads over to Ray at the counter, just as he receives his order. Chad finds he has to take a deep breath again before he taps him on the shoulder.

“What’s good on the menu today?” Chad begins with a small grin.

“Hey C.K.,” Ray turns to face him with a flyer in his hand. “Given that I just found this on the counter, I’d say we could have a go at this fortune teller thing. It says there’s a fortune teller girl at SyndAcad this week who can tell you your destiny for good costumes ideas. How’s that sound?”

“It sounds like you want me to go to that party with you,” Chad says.

“Unless you don’t wanna go with me,” Ray asks.

“No. Of course I wanna go with you, Ray. I mean … yeah … that’d be cool,” Chad replies.

“Cool. I just thought you were thinking I came off a bit too pushy yesterday,” Ray admits.

“No. It kinda showed me how much you thought of this whole thing between us,” Chad tells him.

“Yeah,” Ray sighs, “I just wanted you to know that I wanna be there for you like you’ve been for me.”

“That means a lot to me. So I guess we should go see what that means for our destinies from that fortune teller now,” Chad says with a grin. “I mean, maybe our destinies are connected or something.”

“Only one way to find out,” Ray adds with a shrug before looking back at him.

Chad and Ray smile at each other before agreeing to go back and grab their stuff before going. After they leave the counter, Chad goes back over to Vitani and Josh who are staring at him with wide grins on their faces. Chad grabs his backpack and smirks to himself.

“So,” Chad says, “I guess I’ll be going off with my friend to get a costume for the masquerade then.”

“You’re really gonna keep rolling with this ‘friend’ thing between you two, squirt?” Josh asks.

“Hmm. I wonder what it would mean if I said that I thought of Ray and me as being friends as much as you and Vitani seem to be,” Chad replies with a teasing grin. “I wonder what that would mean to you as far as you two go. Seeya later guys.”

With that, Chad walks over to the exit door just as Ray meets back up with him with his own backpack and they leave the café together. Vitani and Josh raise their eyebrows in amusement.

= = =

  Chad and Ray walk together to the fortune teller’s stall set up in the hallways, which has a banner with ‘Destiny’s Fortune’ strung up above it. They stop behind a small group of students ahead of them who are receiving their costumes. Chad and Ray watch in intrigue.

“So do you really believe in this fortune teller thing?” Chad asks.

“It depends on how believable what they tell me is,” Ray shrugs.

After the students ahead of them leave, Chad and Ray step forward with intrigued grins on their faces.

“Hello, I am Destiny,” the fortune teller girl introduces herself, “and I am here to let you know what the future holds for you, and what that represents in a costume. This Halloween, you can represent the kind of person you will become. Come, let me see your palms.”

Chad and Ray grin at each other before Ray steps forward and sticks out his hand to be read. After she reads his palm, she nods and reaches under her counter. When she comes back up, she has a box in her hands and presents it on the table in front of Ray.

Ray looks at it and reaches over for it. “So what’s this?”

Destiny nods and replies, “This is the Halloween costume fit for someone who will conquer.”

Ray smirks to himself, “Conquer, huh?”

Chad nods as he leans on the counter, “Maybe it means you’ll conquer the world of football.”

Ray smiles as he unfolds the whole costume, “Yeah? Then it seems I’ll conquer the whole arena too.”

Chad watches as Ray unfolds his costume to reveal a Julius Caesar toga outfit. As Ray pays her, Chad is intrigued by the fortune teller’s prediction and agrees to give it a try for himself. Chad outstretches his hand to be read by Destiny. She looks at his palm and gasps in amazement.

Chad asks, “What is it? What do you see for me?”

Destiny nods and replies, “This is the Halloween costume fit for some who will be a great hero.”

Chad and Ray look at each other in amusement as she reaches behind the counter for another box and hands it to Chad. Chad takes it and opens in excitedly. When he unfolds it, it is revealed to be none other than a Superman costume. Chad smirks as he quickly pays her.

Ray elbows him. “So I guess my calling you C.K. was to help you get used to the idea of being a hero.”

Chad replies with a smile, “Knowing how tough that can be, it’s good that I have you around then.”

Ray nods and adds, “Let’s see for how long. So Destiny, what does the future hold for Chad and me?”

“So what do we have here?” Rita Allen chimes in from behind them. “Need I do a report on how many students actually fall for this fortune telling thing? I always thought both of you were aware of the reality of things.”

Chad grimaces to himself before he turns to see the school reporter standing behind them. He puts on a fake smile in order not to let Ray catch the tension between them. Rita Allen smiles to herself as she manages to stand between them at the counter.

Ray shrugs and says, “Well so far she’s been able to predict exactly what we see for our future.”

Rita Allen nods, “Oh really? And what might that be?”

Destiny cuts in by saying, “I see that you have something very powerful, Ms Allen.”

Rita Allen pulls her hand away and folds her arms amused before she says, “Do tell.”

Destiny simply replies, “I will tell you that it is, however, not as powerful as your greatest fear.”

Rita Allen frowns before briefly glancing over at Chad. Chad looks back at her strangely.

Ray raises his eyebrow curiously and asks her, “And what do you have to be afraid of?”

Rita Allen shakes her head and replies, “I’m just afraid of what a certain situation will become if I don’t do something about it. But I’m convinced I have something powerful enough to get rid of that issue.”

She then looks over at Chad with a telltale look. Chad shifts uncomfortably and looks off.

However, Destiny adds, “I also see that your motive is flawed for personal gain.”

Chad looks back over at her with raised eyebrows. Rita Allen shifts somewhat bothered.

She then states, “The only personal gain I hope to get is the happiness I will have as soon as my little problem is solved once and for all. I mean, that’s all we want in life, to overcome our fears and find some kind of true happiness.”

Ray leans on the counter and muses, “I feel the same way. But I wonder if it’s about the same thing.”

Destiny looks up and gazes at them, “I sense something strange going on among you three.”

Chad, Ray and Rita Allen all shift uncomfortably. Ray quickly goes over to Chad’s side on the counter.

“Um we have our costumes for the Halloween Midnight Masquerade, so I guess we better be off to our Bio class now. Right, Chad?” Ray says as he puts his hand on Chad’s shoulder.

“Um right,” Chad nods.

“Seeya later,” Ray says.

Chad and Ray turn and walk off down the hallway to their Bio class. Rita Allen walks forward a little.

“You’ll be seeing me sooner than you think,” Rita Allen muses to herself before looking at Rick’s flash drive in her hand, “And if what that fortune teller says is true, I know this flash drive is the key to exposing Chad for who he really is and he’ll lose Ray forever.”

With that, the reporter walks off in another direction. Destiny watches from her stall in intrigue.

= = =

  The next day, Vitani and Josh are busy helping with costume wardrobe racks over at the school theater now that the day’s Halloween costume sale is over. After most of the students leave, they stop pushing their rack and breathe a huge sigh.

“I can tell with the amount of kids that just bought these costumes for the Milano sisters’ party, it’s gonna be a real crowd,” Vitani remarks, “and we both know Amber and Christy have always been a crowd all on their own.”

“Does this mean you don’t wanna go this year?” Josh asks, raising an eyebrow.

“If I didn’t go, not only would I miss my chance to make those two as miserable as they make me whenever they stop by the café,” Vitani replies, “but I would lose my chance to wear this outfit that I’ve saving for myself. I’ve been hiding it away from everyone that came in today. If I can wear this, I’m definitely going.”

Vitani reaches through their costume rack and shows him a sparkly light blue ball gown.

Josh eyes the dress, “Hmm. I never pegged you for the fairytale princess kinda girl.”

Vitani presses it against herself and replies, “That’s why it’s the perfect costume. So what do you think?”

“We think if you wore that dress you’d only have until midnight before you have to change back into your tacky apron to scrub dirty pots and pans,” comes the voice of one of the two cheerleading twins.

Vitani and Josh turn to see none other than Amber and Christy standing behind them in matching outfits with sleek black and white striped dresses and hats. Josh sighs heavily and Vitani rolls her eyes, as usual, before giggling at their outfits.

“And what are you two supposed to be?” Vitani asks, “Tweedledum and Tweedledumber?”

“Ugh. I told you we should just go with something else instead of coming here to let those theater arts geeks try to fix it for us!” Amber snaps at her sister before adding, “But no. We are actually queen bees except a certain twin sister of mine used our Fabric Whitener instead of Fabric Brightener.”

“If you two are really supposed to be bees then how about you buzz off?” Josh says.

Amber and Christy exchange looks of shock before scoffing and walking away. Vitani and Josh watch while they bicker quietly with each other as they leave the theater. Josh shakes his head before he turns to see Vitani hanging up the princess gown costume on the rack.

“I think you’d look great in it. Don’t let them talk you out of going with the dress,” Josh tells her.

“Thanks Josh. And it’s not them though,” Vitani sighs, “I was just thinking it would be nicer if I had my own knight in shining armor to go with it, you know? I know you had plans on bringing a date and stuff.”

“What about your pal Evan Ross?” Josh asks.

Vitani replies with a little smirk on her face, “He told me he was hoping we could go trick or treating together or something, just like old times when we were kids. But now that he’s editor-in-chief at WP and all, he has to attend this university seminar thing tomorrow.”

Josh shrugs to himself, “Well I guess I really don’t have any binding contracts tomorrow.”

Vitani looks up, “But what about Melody … or was it Melanie … or was it both?”

Josh rolls his eyes and says, “Hehe … it was actually both. But I know if I do go with them, the only metal costume they’d probably have me wear would look more like a trophy. I’d say I prefer to be a shining knight.”

Vitani grins and pokes him in the shoulder, “Oh, my man of steel.”

Josh raises his eyebrows and shrugs with a grin, “Now wasn’t I always?”

They giggle a bit before an awkward silence. Just then, they hear a piercing scream echo through the theater, startling both of them. Josh mentions that it sounds like it came from the basement beneath the stage, so they both head downstairs towards the basement door. However, just like before, the door appears to be jammed shut. The girl screams and bangs on the door for help. Vitani and Josh exchange looks before Josh turns his hands to steel and yanks open the door. The frantic girl runs out past them, without stopping to look back.

Vitani and Josh look at each other before they decide to go into the theater basement. After they reached the bottom of the stairs, the door suddenly slaps shut! They are in darkness before Josh turns on a light to reveal lots of old stage props and mirrors.

“I don’t see anything unusual,” Vitani muses.

“Except that creepy old lady in the reflection over there,” Josh remarks.

The two look up to see a mysterious reflection of an old woman in the mirror behind them. Josh steps in front of Vitani before slowly approaching the mirror to find out what it is. The old woman begins to smile as Josh gets closer. He stops and peers closer when the old woman morphs into a sinister hag creature and jumps from the mirror. The hag creature, covered in torn black rags, throws him to the ground and tries to choke him. Josh instinctively kicks her over his head and off of him.

Vitani moves out of the way as the hag flies past her and into another mirror. Vitani puts her hand to her mouth and blows a freezing mist on the mirror before jump kicking the ice to break it. The glass shatters and falls to the floor. She looks back at Josh, who climbs to his feet.

“What the hell was that?” she asks.

Before Josh can even reply, the hag leaps down from a mirror hanging flat on the basement ceiling and grabs Vitani by the arms, pulling her up. She flails and kicks to escape, but as the hag laughs evilly as they ascend into the air. Suddenly the hag fades away into thin air and Vitani begins to drop, where Josh rushes forward and catches her in his arms. He puts her down before showing her what was in his hand.

Josh shows her a cellular phone with a static screen that says, “And that was the Horror Hex.”

= = =

  The next day, just as Chad closes his locker from unpacking his Chem books, he is surprised to see none other than Destiny the fortune teller standing behind him. He fixes his backpack before he turns to ask what was going on.

“Hey, is something wrong?” Chad asks.

Destiny looks around before she replies, “I sensed some powerful emotions with you, Ray Torres and school reporter Rita Allen yesterday. Emotions that I think you choose to be afraid of.”

Chad shrugs and muses, “I’ve got a lot of reasons to be afraid.”

Destiny tilts her head to the side skeptically before she replies, “Then how will you prove yourself as the hero I know you are if you don’t try to overcome that very fear before it overcomes you?”

Chad pauses before he says, “Let’s just say I would be risking a lot in doing that.”

Destiny nods and says, “Where risk is involved, time is most precious. But it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth that risk. I just hope you don’t wait until it’s too late, Chad.”

With that, the fortune teller girl turns and walks away down the hall. Chad sighs to himself before pondering on what she just said meant for his situation.

He knows he is afraid to admit what he feels about Ray Torres because of the consequences, and he’s held back most by what happened with Rick in the beginning. But could he take the risk to find out if Ray felt the same way? Chad stops and recalls some of his previous encounters with Ray.

First there was:

“C.K.?” Chad raises an eyebrow.

  “Your first two initials,” Ray explains as he grabs his jersey from the coat rack, “are the same as the greatest hero of all time. And I think you’re already on your way to living up to his name. I’ll always be here to remind you that you’ve got a whole world to save.”

  “If you insist,” Chad shrugs with a teasing grin.

  “I do. And I also insist you make good on my offer,” Ray reminds him.

  “I will. I promise,” Chad nods.

  “Good. I guess I’ll see you around then,” Ray states and pauses before moving forward to give him a warm hug, which surprises Chad. Chad settles into the hug until he notices Rick staring at him. Ray lets go and smiles, “Thanks for being there when I needed it the most.”

  With that, Ray excuses himself and exits the dorm room after briefly greeting Rick. Rick steps aside to let him pass, and watches him leave before turning to Chad and raising an eyebrow.

  “I’d say that looked like the beginning of something … beautiful,” Rick remarks.

  Chad merely smiles to himself and quips, “It is what it is.”

And then there was:

  Chad looks over at Ray, who simply nods and hands the shirt to him. He then steps closer to watch in intrigue as Chad gently rubs the cloth over the stain in tiny little circles. Ray looks down at it over his shoulder. Chad shudders a little when he feels Ray’s breath tickle his ear. He continues to rub the cloth in the spot slowly until the stain begins to disappear.

  “S-So what you do you think?” Chad asks quietly, keeping his eyes down at the shirt.

  “It’s amazing,” Ray says, holding onto Chad’s hand with the cloth and looking up at him, “Just like you said.”

  Chad looks down at Ray’s hand, firmly placed over his, and watches as Ray uses their hands to finish wiping out the rest of the stain. When he’s done, they look at each other and giggle a bit before an awkward silence. Chad glances up at him and Ray smiles back at him before he suggests they leave before they get into any trouble for sneaking into the labs.

  After they go back out into the empty hallways, Chad closes the door to the lab while Ray watches.

  Ray says, “Our little restaurant dinner you promised me is gonna be twice as amazing, right?”

  Chad turns and says, “Of course, we’ve got twice as much to celebrate anyway. You’ve got a big game to win this week to take the football team through to the third round of the prelims. So if you just keep thinking of the positive outcome, as you did when you handed me that shirt back there, chances are that’s the biggest step you really need to pulling it off.”

  Ray smiles, “You know C.K., I hear these kinds of things all the time from everyone else. But somehow, it’s whenever you say it that it feels like the only time I actually believe it. Maybe it’s because you’ve come through for me, from getting rid of the stain on my shirt to saving me from a lightning storm my own team put me in.”

  “What are friends for?” Chad shrugs.

  “No. Because if I think of everyone else as a friend,” Ray muses, “you’ve gotta be something more.”

  “Well … what do you think of me as?” Chad asks quietly.

  “I really can’t describe it,” Ray admits, “But I guess that’s because whatever it is, it just means so much more, you know? Anyway, I’ve got to get going to practice now and probably get some mud stains on this shirt instead.

And then, just two days ago, there was:

Ray looks at him, “I mean it’s the way you said it that stuck with me. You were so nervous and you even started shaking a bit. That’s when it hit me that it felt like you were confessing how you felt to me.”

  Chad starts to get so nervous that he looks away as he tries to think of a quick excuse. However, Ray puts a hand on his shoulder and turns Chad back to face him. Chad gulps nervously as Ray looks him right in the eye.

  “And I just want you to know that if anything happened, you know you can tell me,” Ray says.

  “I know,” Chad says softly.

  “Then tell me, is it that you’re like, in love with someone?” Ray suggests with a smirk, “Is that what you’re afraid of? Because if that’s the case, I hope it makes you feel better if I tell you now that I’m twice as scared as you are … since I think I might be in love with someone too.”

Chad snaps out of his thoughts with a look of realization and muses, “Omigod. What if … could Ray have feelings for me too? Maybe I just have to get over my fears and find out if he felt the same way about me all along. But I guess there’s only one way to find out. Maybe I will tonight at the party.”

He finds himself nervous, but smiling, as he walks off down the hallway to head to his dorm. He retrieves his costume before stopping by at Josh’s condo to go with them to the Milano sisters’ the Halloween Midnight Masquerade later that night.

= = =

  Sometime that night, Chad finally drops by the condo, where Josh lets him in. Chad strolls in somewhat anxiously, knowing they would be heading over to the masquerade soon. However, after he puts down his stuff over the couch, he sees Vitani and Josh with troubled looks on their faces.

Chad then says, “Hey what’s the matter guys? Don’t tell me you’re getting a little scared to go to the Halloween party. It’s hosted by our favorite cheerleading twins of terror.”

Vitani replies, “Not quite. We’ve got our minds less on terror and more on the word ‘horror’.”

Josh adds, “This Halloween’s Horror Hex, to be exact. We finally got in on the scary surprise.”

Chad looks up in concern, “So what happened?”

Vitani replies, “It seems the hex was sent to another student; she got trapped in the basement below the theater. Josh wedged the doors open and she just ran off in fear. So we decided to check it out … and that’s where we met this creepy hag illusion thing in the mirrors that almost sucked me in.”

Josh adds, “Thankfully, her knight in shining armor was there to rescue her as I was also able to discover that the source of the hex was from the girl’s cell phone. After I stopped the video on the cell, the hag disappeared and the phone screen went to static. Just like before at the theater. Just like an oscinade could be behind this.”

Vitani takes the cell phone from the counter and looks at it saying, “So far we saw that it was sent from someone calling herself Hell Girl. Calling the number only gets us static too. But I was just going through the text log for anything and … oh look here, there’s a text from Hell Girl wishing the girl and Derrick a horrible Halloween, like they caused her. Hmm.”

Josh looks up, “Hey, and Derrick’s the guy from my team we found in the theater yesterday.”

Chad muses, “How do you think those two are connected?”

Vitani replies, “From some texts I see here, the girl made plans with some friends for the masquerade so we may be able to answer that question tonight. You guys ready for the Midnight Masquerade?”

Chad sighs and replies, “As ready as I’ll ever be.”

= = =

  At Amber and Christy’s dorm, Chad, dressed as Superman, Vitani, dressed as a princess and Josh, dressed as a medieval knight, arrive to join the queue of students to the Halloween party. After the persons before them, dressed as a pirate and a zombie, enter, the three make their way to the front of the line.

“Well, would you look who it is,” Amber and Christy scoff with the guest lists in hand.

“Mary Kate and Ashley reinvent Prison Break?” Chad takes an honest guess looking at their outfits.

“Ugh! We’re queen bees!” Amber screams

“Just a little accident with bleach,” Christy adds.

“It’s that what you call what happened when you did your hair?” Vitani quips.

“What?” Amber and Christy exclaim, looking at each other.

Josh finishes signing them in before Amber and Christy grip onto their hair in shock. Chad, Vitani and Josh walk past them giggling and they head into the party. After they make their way over to a food table, they all stop and look around.

Josh tells them, “Well, she hasn’t been checked off on the guest list yet, so we might as well mingle until then.”

“Who’s that, Josh?” Chad asks.

“We think the girl from the theater will be coming to the party too,” Josh says.

With that, Chad looks around and soon spots Ray in his Julius Caesar costume. He’s standing with some of his football friends. After Vitani and Josh see who he’s looking at, they give him a telltale grin. Chad shrugs before he excuses himself and makes his way through the crowd to Ray.

“Hey C.K.,” Ray says as he steps away from his teammates, “Don’t you look super tonight?”

“I could say the same about you, and you don’t have an ‘S’ on your chest,” Chad replies.

“Aww thanks,” Ray says. “So you ready to party or what? You know, to make up for passing out on me last time.”

“Actually, there is something I wanna make up for,” Chad says, “Do you mind if we talk on the balcony?”

“Hmm. Lead the way,” Ray shrugs.

Chad turns and heads out to the balcony with Ray following behind him. After they go outside, Chad goes over to the banister and looks out at the full moon in the night sky. Ray looks over at him curiously before going to stand beside him. Chad takes a deep breath.

“Hey,” Ray begins, “is everything okay?”

“I just want to know that everything will be after tonight,” Chad says softly.

“What’s gonna happen tonight?” Ray raises his eyebrows.

“I think our friendship might change,” Chad says, looking away nervously.

“Is that in a good way?” Ray asks.

“I hope so with everything,” Chad replies, “Because you’re really special to me, Ray.”

Chad takes a deep breath again before he steps a little closer. Ray looks at him closely and expectantly.

However, just as Chad is about to say something, the balcony doors open, letting in the party music with it and someone dressed as Cleopatra. Chad and Ray turn to see school reporter Rita Allen standing on the balcony in her elegant Egyptian costume with a cobra headband. Chad huffs to himself.

“I’m here to interview the students on this year’s Halloween party, but I just came out here for some fresh air,” Rita Allen explains, “But maybe you guys can also let me in on your thoughts about tonight.”

“Chad and I have something important to talk about, so if you could just give us a minute?” Ray says.

“Oh, I see,” Rita Allen says, before she reaches up to the necklace around her neck and, fiddling with the end of it, she reveals Rick’s flash drive for Chad to see, “I’ll just be inside then, but we also have something important to talk about as well.”

Chad sees the flash drive and panics, as shock takes him over. Rita Allen smiles to herself and heads back inside.

Ray turns back to Chad and smiles, “So, what was it you were going to say?”

Chad gulps to himself as he panics about Rita Allen having her hands on Rick Hayes’ flash drive. He knows it’s filled with pictures of him and Rick from when they ran away together. If she has seen any of the photos of him and Rick together, then she could reveal his secret to Ray or the rest of the school at any moment. Is that what she wants to talk to Ray about? Or was she using it to make him back off from Ray? He figures it would fit her desperation to stop them from getting any closer since this whole thing started.

It is then that Chad decides he has to tell Ray now and hope it means something or let Rita Allen tell him and ruin everything.

Chad begins, “I was going to say that …”

Just then, Chad’s cell phone buzzes in his pocket. He looks down to see it is a text from Josh saying they needed to talk ASAP. He groans in frustration before he looks back at the door and then back at Ray who is still looking at him expectantly.

Ray starts, “Chad …”

Chad sighs, “I have to go …”

He turns to walk away when Ray grabs onto his arm. Chad looks back to see Ray is staring at him.

Ray sighs and says, “Look, I guess whatever this is you were gonna tell me is hard for you to say, but that it’s also something big. Something that you think I deserve to know. You came this close to opening up to me tonight, but I’m afraid you won’t come this close again. So I’m telling you that whatever it is, I won’t judge you. In fact, it might bring us even closer.”

Chad’s heart starts to pound in his chest and he is about to say something when his cell phone vibrates in his pocket again. What if Vitani and Josh found out about the oscinade behind the Horror Hex?

Chad simply replies, “Just know that, no matter what, I want you to be happy, Ray.” With that, Chad leaves the balcony and heads back inside the party.

Ray looks over the balcony’s edge and sighs to himself deeply. He hears the doors creak open and looks back excitedly in hopefulness… only to see that it’s just Rita Allen.

Ray asks, “So what was it you wanted again?”

Rita Allen says, “Well it’s a little different from what I want now. Now I’d like to interest you in a dance.”

= = =

  Meanwhile, Chad comes over to Vitani and Josh, who were waiting together outside the Amber and Christy’s dorm for the party. He tries to shake off the other things from his mind before he goes over to them. Vitani and Josh turn to him, wondering why he took so long. Chad claims it was the party crowd.

“Anyway, we found the girl from yesterday; her name is Lisa. We spoke to her and she eventually admitted that Derrick’s girlfriend sent the Horror Hex to her after she found out Derrick cheated with her,” Vitani tells him, “So teenage drama aside, Lisa also told us that it was forwarded from someone called Teirrah. It was a kinda strange spelling for that name.”

“I don’t know how many forwarded texts we’d have to trace back through strange names,” Josh huffs.

“How much more backwards could this whole thing get?” Chad mumbles.

“Omigod. That’s it!” Vitani exclaims, taking out her phone, “I’m typing out Teirrah backwards.”

“Hey wait a minute,” Josh says, taking a look at it, “It’s Harriet. Ms Harriet, that new drama assistant!”

“I guess she must be the oscinade behind the Horror Hex,” Chad wonders, “Where would she be now?”

Josh looks over at the theater and points out her car before musing, “Putting on her last horror show.”

= = =

  Chad, Vitani and Josh burst into the theater to see it was empty. They are, however, surprised when someone closes the door behind them. They turn to see a creepy old man behind them.

“Welcome children,” he snickers in deep guttural voice.

“Who are you?” Chad asks.

“Some people call me Dr. Jekyll,” he replies before his suit bursts open as he morphs into a large hideous grey-skinned creature before their eyes, “But it’s times like these I prefer Mr. Hyde!”

Before they can retaliate, a dark shadow swoops over and picks up Chad in its glide upwards towards the stage lighting. Chad yells in shock before he looks up to see the evil creature flying away with him has pale skin and sharp bloody fangs, like those of Dracula!

Vitani and Josh look up in shock before turning back around at Mr. Hyde licking his lips with a snake-like tongue. They back away, only to butt into something large. They look above them and turn to see that it’s a green-skinned Frankenstein with balled fists. Frankenstein is about to pound them flat, but they run in separate directions to avoid his attack. As Frankenstein, menacingly, turns towards Vitani, Josh is going to save her, when Mr. Hyde jumps in front of him. He leaps forward to choke Josh, who turns his hands to steel to pull Mr. Hyde’s hands away, but it is a struggle of strength.

Frankenstein tosses a chair at Vitani, who ducks out of the way before she blows her freezing mist to freeze him solid. However, Frankenstein is strong enough to break free from the ice and grabs her gown as she runs. Vitani falls to the ground. The revived monster is about to pound her with his fists before he is knocked out of the way when Josh tosses Mr. Hyde at him. Josh rushes over to Vitani.

“Destroy the auranades!” Ms Harriet orders her monsters.

Meanwhile, Chad uses his powers to blow himself out of Dracula’s grip and lands on the scaffolding bridge above the stage. Dracula lands on the other end. He looms closer with bared fangs, so Chad swipes his hand forward to send a gust of wind to blow him away. However, Dracula simply flies into the air and flies back from a different angle for a bite. Chad quickly swipes at a hanging stage light, which swoops over and crashes into Dracula midflight. It electrocutes him, causing his image to flicker. So do Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein. Chad smiles and makes another stage light swipe into Dracula and he explodes in a bright flash of light. The other monsters fade away.

Ms Harriet looks around in despair after realizing they can defeat her horror monsters. Chad looks over the bridge and uses a gust of wind to yank the curtains down over her. She struggles to climb free from the heavy curtains.

Chad climbs back down to the stage just as Vitani and Josh run up to join him. They stand around her.

“Looks like it’s the end of her show,” Chad states.

And with that, the three auranades repeat the banishment verse in unison.

“Evil spawned from darkness core,

Walk this land you shall no more,

Wickedness be rectified,

Let your face be now denied!”

  A bright light emerges from around the curtains, where drafts of energy blast out that suck the curtains into a violent swirl. Chad, Vitani and Josh watch as a portal opens up and begins to suck Ms Harriet into it. She screams out in her own horror as her body distorts.

“Hopefully you’re the last horror I see in a long time,” Vitani says as she holds her dress back.

It is then that Ms Harriet’s body expands and distorts as she is finally drawn inside of the swirling portal, simply leaving the echo of her voice in the theater before it seals shut and fades away with a blast of air. Chad, Vitani and Josh sigh in relief.

“Well, it looks like we’ve missed the Midnight Masquerade though,” Josh says, looking at his watch.

“How about some trick-or-treating then?” Vitani replies, “Preferably, I’d go for treats after tonight.”

“Maybe when we overcome our fears is when we’re treated to something special,” Chad muses.



  The next day in the hallways, Chad arrives to once again see Ray Torres over at his locker, among the other students heading to and from their classes. He takes a deep breath and wipes his hands on his jeans before he walks over to him.

“I’m surprised you aren’t still running away from me,” Ray muses as he closes his locker.

“I didn’t mean to run,” Chad tells him, “And I didn’t mean to leave you alone last night.”

“Don’t worry. I wasn’t alone,” Ray replies with a shrug and begins walking away.

Chad frowns in confusion before looking on. He is surprised to see Ray walking towards Rita Allen at the end of the hall. With open arms, Ray and Rita Allen hug warmly. Chad is left speechless. The two then come back over with big smiles on their faces. Chad watches in silence.

“Hey Chad, Ray’s got something to tell you,” Rita Allen states, leaning her head on Ray’s shoulder.

Chad looks up quietly.

Ray says, “Rita Allen and I did some talking last night and we realized some things.”

Rita Allen once again tugs on her necklace with the flash drive at the end with a grin. Chad gulps.

Chad nervously asks, “About what?”

Ray replies, “About us. We realized there was something between us and decided to give things a go.”

Chad takes a deep breath and asks, “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

Ray nods, “Yup. Rita Allen and I are kinda together now.”

Chad pauses in disbelief and looks at the two of them. Rita Allen throws her arm around Ray’s waist.

Rita Allen then adds, “We just had such an amazing night together last night when we were dancing and we did some talking and decided to find out what other interesting things are in store for us.”

Chad is about to say something when Rita Allen begins to toy with the flash drive again.

Chad sighs in frustration and simply says, “Like I told you before, all I want is for you to be happy, Ray.”

With that, Chad says he has to get to class, and he walks away before they can see the heartache on his face. Ray looks on while Rita Allen smiles deviously. She tugs on his side and the two walk off together.

Copyright © 2013 Chad Blackman

= = =


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