Chapter 1

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Silence. The bittersweet sound of silence is what enveloped Andy as he sat vigil in front of his best friend, Sarah Lees gravestone on a cold, foggy and damp Spring evening. It had been exactly a week since the mysterious death of his best friend Sarah. Andy kept thinking back to when Sarah was still alive and breathing, the sound of her laughter and her secretive smile that seemed to lure you in. The death of his friend seemed strange and unreal to him. He felt as if someone was keeping the truth about what truly happened to her hidden. Everyone said that Andy was crazy for not believing that she was murdered by the town's gang, but he didn't listen to them.

Andy was suddenly startled by the discordant sound of tires screeching against the pavement of the once silent road leading up to the cemetery. Andy quickly sprung to his feet, resulting in his long black hair flying to the other side of his face. Andy knew nobody ever comes to the cemetery unless there's a funeral that's about to happen or unless you're trying to do something illegal. Andy hovered near Sarah's grave trying to decide between staying and finding out who it was and bolting behind the Victorian style citadel that was supposedly haunted by the spirits of the graveyard. Before Andy could make his choice he saw the vehicle roar around the corner and come to an abrupt stop in the first spot of the small parking lot in the cemetery. Andy recognized the vehicle as his friend Ryan's maroon Jeep. Although the car had evolved since the last time he saw it, the vehicle looked as if it had been raised a couple inches. As the driver's side window of the vehicle rolled down Andy started walking towards his friend's vehicle.

"Hey," Ryan yelled, "aren't you gonna be late for the reception?"

Andy pulled his phone out from his back pocket and pressed the power button bringing the dark screen to life. Andy looked down at the time and realized it was already 1:30 pm, he was late for the reception that was planned for Sarah.

"Yeah," Andy shouted back "I am gonna be late."

"Then I decree," Ryan started saying "that you shall get your butt in my car and I'll take you with me."

As Andy was walking towards his friend's car he tripped over a dark, and thick stick laying in the center of the pathway, his trifold wallet and his black prescription glasses fly out onto the dirty, and cold ground. The contents of Andy's wallet come flying out and among these items are his student ID, his library card, a $10 gift card to McDonald's, and a mysterious now dirtied white piece of paper. As Andy tried to gather his thoughts and was to groping the ground to find his glasses and the other contents lying about the ground he snapped his head up at the sound of plaudits coming from the direction of the parking lot.

"Great job," Ryan called out from the inside of his vehicle "if you don't hurry up you're going to make us even later for the reception and I'm sure you don't want to miss all of the servile 'I'm sorry for your loss' words from everyone."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah" Andy replied, " I'm hurrying."

After Andy had grabbed all the contents that were strewn about the ground he walked over to the passenger's side door and climbed into his friend's vehicle, the familiar smell of burning leaves in the fall hitting his nose almost instantaneously.

After Andy got into the car Ryan pulled out of the parking spot and reverted back to the main road out of the cemetery. The car ride was quiet aside from the soft hum of the radio and the scratchy noise of the tires running against the pavement. After a few short minutes, Andy and Ryan arrived at Sarah's house. Memories of times well spent came flooding back to him like a burst dam. As Andy climbed out of the Jeep he was greeted by friends and family members just arriving as well. Andy walked around to the other side of the vehicle to meet Ryan, and then they proceeded up the narrow driveway and into the house where they had spent many nights playing various games like Twister, and Uno. The house which was once filled with joy and light was now dark and gloomy, which is out of character for a house like Sarah's.

Once people had gathered into the house Sarah's parents called everybody into the large backyard where we sat down to listen to excerpts from the Bible and old adages from close family and friends. As Andy looked around he noticed some churlish kids talking and whispering to each other, Andy tried to hear what they were talking about but he failed so he zoned out and focused on Sarah's memory, he was thinking about what Sarah was doing at that moment and whether or not she was doing okay. When they told everyone they were free to mingle and converse with others at the reception Andy came crashing down back to reality. This is when Andy got up and started walking in a laggard manner trying to decide where he wanted to go.

Andy finally thought that he should go up to Sarah's room to find some peace and quiet. Andy jostled his way through the crowd of people up to Sarah's room. When he got up to the door to Sarah's room he hesitated before finally proceeding into the room. The walls were a snowy white with various painting and posters covering the walls; just like Andy remembered. When Andy looked at the opposite corner of the room he laid his eyes on Ryan. Ryan and Andy had both fallen for the mysterious girl during summer of freshman year of high school, and Sarah had fallen for Andy. Although Ryan was hurt the three of them remained good friends which is why it hadn't surprised him when Andy saw Ryan in the room. Andy walked over to the bench where Ryan was sitting and sat down next to him. Andy pulled out his wallet to inspect the mystery paper that had fallen out his pocket earlier today. Andy unfolded it to reveal the shocking words from his best friend.

Dear Andy,

I'm not dead.

I'm hiding.

I need your help and I need Ryan's help as well.

I'm hiding from them...

Under the rubble is where you'll see

The bonanza waiting for thee.

The next hint is where we went when we wanted to be free.

I hope you see this in time.

You must hurry

Sincerely,

Sarah

Andy looked down in shock. He thought it had to have been a prank. Andy looked over to Ryan and asked him if he had written the letter. Ryan puzzled he took the letter and read it aloud and gasped in shock.

"No," Ryan started saying "I didn't write this."

"Then who did?"

"I don't know," Ryan replied, "it has to be a prank."

"There's no way this could be a prank!" Andy yelled.

"It has to be," Ryan said, "she's dead."

Ryan and Andy continued to wrangle back and forth for a couple minutes before they heard a knock at the door. Ryan got up and opened the door to see Sarah's mom with a juice pouch in each hand.

"These," she said handing the juice pouches to Ryan "are for you and Andy"

"Okay," Ryan said taking the pouches from her "thank you."

"You're welcome," she said, " I hope you boys are doing okay." And with that, she left back down the stairs.

After that encounter, Ryan said that he believed the letter was real. In that room at 3 pm on a foggy fall afternoon, they precluded the world and swore to collaborate to help Sarah in whatever way they could, no matter what. Little did they know the amount of danger they were getting themselves into.

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