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AT ABOUT SIX THIRTY P.M., the four boys were crowded around the small wooden table when they heard a small knock on the basement window. Mike stood up, wondering who or what could have made that noise. In surprise, Mike opened the window and revealed the brown haired girl with wild eyes who sat grinning down at them.

"Cassie," Mike breathed, gazing up at her admiringly. "What are you doing by the window?"

"You want me to come in or what?" replied Cassie, smirking down at the boy.

"Yeah, yeah," said Mike. "Go right ahead."

With a slight whoosh, Cassie slipped through the fairly small window without making a noise. The boys looked at her in disbelief as she said, "Sorry about the window. I hate using doors."

Mike chuckled, "Well, you can climb through my window anytime."

Cassie grinned at the boy, then shifted her gaze to the small wooden table in the middle of the room with some sort of board game placed in the center.

"So," Cassie started, grabbing a slice of pizza from the disheveled paper box. "What kind of game is this, exactly?"

"Dungeons and Dragons," Will spoke quickly. "And it's not a game per-say, it's more than that."

"Well, I would ask you to explain further," Cassie started, taking a bite of cheese pizza. "But I don't really care."

The boys looked down sadly, and when Cassie noticed this, she spoke, "That doesn't mean I don't want to watch you guys play. I actually find it pretty cool how you guys are so serious about this."

"You think it's cool?" said Mike, hopefully. Cassie nodded, causing Mike to blush.

Cassie's heart clenched a little when she noticed Mike's reaction. She hoped that he didn't get the wrong feeling about her being there.

"So," Cassie spoke, falling down lazily on the couch next to the table. "Carry on, I'll just be over here eating pizza."

The boys nodded, and so quickly that it was almost scary, they began their game. Suddenly, the two story house at the end of the cul-de-sac was transformed into a battlefield in an alternate universe.

"Something is coming," Mike began, his voice darkening. "Something hungry for blood."

Cassie was intimidated by the boy, who's personality had seemed to change so quickly, "...a shadow grows on the wall behind you, swallowing you into the darkness."

Mike then paused, the tension in the room building, "It is almost here."

The boys then broke out in conversation, the game intensifying as Will was put on the spot to fight back whatever creature Mike threw at him.

As the boys shouts grew louder, Cassie turned her to the window, which revealed a single streetlight enlightening a dark road. Just as Cassie was about to pull her gaze from the view, she spotted something. It-whatever creature it was-seemed to creep out of the darkness.

Everything around Cassie seemed to go cold.

As the creature crept forward, Cassie was able to make out its form. It was not human. She then stood up from the couch, walking closer to the window to get a better view.

Just as the creature was about to enter the street light, she was brought out of her thoughts by Mike screaming, "Cassie! Cassie! Are you alright?"

Cassie glanced at Mike then turned back to the window. The creature was gone. Looking back at Mike, Cassie sighed, "Yeah, I'm good."

"Well, my mom kind of kicked everyone out," said Mike shyly. "I'm sorry."

"No, that's totally cool," Cassie laughed it off. "I was planning on heading out anyway."

"Well..." Mike trailed off, rocking back and forth on his heels awkwardly. "I'll see you?"

Cassie paused, glancing at the hopeful boy, then slowly grinned, "Maybe."

After that, Cassie hopped up on the small table and hoisted herself up and through the window with ease. She then ran through the grass and grabbed her bike, which was thrown lazily down on the Wheeler's lawn.

"Cassie!" a voice spoke as she hopped up on her bike. Cassie turned and met Dustin, Will, and Lucas, who began riding out of the garage. "Wait up!"

Cassie chuckled, watching as the boy rode faster to catch up to her, "Byers, you gonna ride home with me?"

Will Byers lived just across the forest from Cassie Harrington. Their backyards connected, so sometimes, when she felt like going for a walk, she would pass by "Castle Byers"-a fort that Will and his brother, Jonathan, built together.

Cassie secretly envied Will and Jonathan's relationship. Steve would never treat Cassie half as good as Jonathan treats Will. Cassie was practically invisible in her family-never seen nor cared about.

"I hope you don't mind that I join you," said Will, shyly looking up at the girl. "Dustin wants to race home, but I would prefer not to."

"That's alright," said Cassie, peddling her wheels with her arms crossed in front of her. "You can hangout here with me."

Will glanced up at her in shock, "You can ride your bicycle with no hands?"

Cassie chuckled, "It's not that hard, really,"

Will hesitated, looking back up at the girl as the soft wind blew through her brown hair. He then asked, "Could you teach me how?"

Cassie looked down at the boy, "Maybe soon-I really got to get home."


"Yeah," said Will, sighing and looking forward at the dark road. "I bet Steve's worried about you. It's pretty late."

"You're right, he probably is," said Cassie.

Another lie.

Up ahead was the corner to which the two separated ways. Just before Cassie turned, she gazed back at Will, "You know, you're a cool guy, Byers."

Will's eyes brightened, "Really? Thank you, Cassie."

"Hey," said Cassie, pointing a finger to him. "Don't get too soft on me. I hate when people do that."

"Right, sorry," said Will, his smile dropping. "I'll see you tomorrow. Goodnight, Cassie."

Cassie smiled, this time genuinely, "Night, Byers."

Then, as if for the last time, the two kids smiled at each other, before parting ways and riding into the darkness.

It almost seemed peaceful at this time of night. Normally, this was the time where the children were put to bed, the fathers were watching a program, and the mothers were cleaning up dinner. It truly could have been a normal night.

Only this time, something dark was coming. Something that was ready to kill.

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