Chapter 11 - Part 1

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"Found anything?" I asked Leo, who was sitting on the floor with me.

He shook his head. "Nothing good."

We were staying in a luxurious suite in a hotel. Major Coleman brought us here when the dorm maintenance guys came. Major Coleman would have gotten us all individual rooms but we won't be here long so we saw no point in it. As soon as the repairs are done and the lights working again, we'll be heading straight back to the dorm. Besides, I'm pretty sure we would all wind up sharing one room in the end. I mean, none of us really want to do all this by themselves.

The place was furnished with two recliners of soft, brown fabric and a leather sofa bed, next to a table which top was a mosaic of stones of different kinds, cuts, and colors. The carpeted floor had alternating stripes of black, grey and white. On one side, there was a large, flat-screen TV mounted on the wall. Below it was the square, see-through glass cover of a fireplace. There was a separate bedroom with a king-sized bed but I doubt anyone would use it. For first-timers, I should have been amazed but compared to our dorm, this place was underwhelming.

Now, I've never stayed in a hotel before, not to mention in a suite because this room probably cost a stupid amount of money and my dad isn't exactly Bill Gates. But I know this place was not meant to accommodate ten people at a time.

To make room, we remove the tiled table so the carpeted floor became our work area. There were some arguing and pushing as to who gets to sit on the sofa. In the end, it was Scarlet, Demi, and Caprice. The rest of us didn't really care and just occupied the empty recliners and even the carpeted floor and got to work. I didn't mind sitting on the floor since the carpet was really soft. Soon, everyone was busy poring over the contents of whatever documents they were holding. Papers and folders and boxes littered all around us. If someone comes in and saw us, they would probably think that we were just a group of good students having a study session for an upcoming test and not reading up on decades' worth of information about the Shade.

"What exactly are we looking for again?" Cana asked. Aside from the files of the dorm, Major Coleman provided us with boxes of information about the Shade. Newspaper clippings from decades ago, transcriptions of statements taken from countless eyewitnesses. All archived files we wouldn't even think existed if not for Major Coleman. We even had the original reports of the haunteds from twenty years ago, the very first reports ever since the system was implemented. It was a lot to go through but no one minded, especially since it would mean saving our lives.

"A pattern, a cause, something that would explain the sudden change," I said.

"I don't know, man," Leo said. "Everything says the same thing."

It was true. Most of the reports contain the same description, the same observations. Except for some tidbits of information I didn't know about before. Like how the Shade kills haunteds the first time. Apparently, once a Shade latched on a haunted, the haunted will fall into a catatonic state. Muscles rigid and joints unmovable but the eyes were wide open. Doctors weren't able to do anything once the haunting took place. Muscle relaxants seemed to have no effect on the body. And when morning came, the Shade disappears, leaving the lifeless body behind.

"Just keep looking," I said. There are still a lot more materials to dig into so I was really hoping we would find something.

"Hey guys," Demi said with a high-pitched voice. "Did you know that this Shade Month originally lasted only a week?"

"Corresponding to the week of serial kidnappings, right?" Scarlet said.

"Right, by the cult," Demi said, beaming, as if we were just a group of friends hanging out, exchanging stories and trivia.

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