chapter – 1

It was a bright sunny day on a beautiful Saturday morning. Birds chirped sitting on the trees that grew beside the wide concrete road. Young children played football, shouting with joy. It was a holiday. And the adults, needless to say that they were resting in their house weary after a week of hard work.

While the other children of his age were already in the play mood, Derek was still hitting the breakfast table. He was too lethargic for his age, he got tired too quickly. He had been forbidden to play hard or even work hard physically. He had a hole in his heart, ever since his birth. Due to this condition, he had most of the times been sick. But his condition found no permanent cure. The doctors had been telling his family, "He has got only a few more years."

Derek was aware about his condition. The fifteen year old boy had been told. His parents were straightforward about it. And Derek did not feel bad at all, He was always optimistic about his life. His routine was simple. He always got up at nine, did his regular chores, prayed to God – whom he deeply believed in and then went to his school. When he came back, he would play chess with his father. He was an extremely intelligent boy; his grades in school were something to be envious of. He was an example to the other students. His teachers would always compare. But this had left him alone. His classmates detested him, were jealous of him. They hated the fact that he was always praised and they slighted. They abused him, made fun of him, and called him a lazy badass. But Derek bore it all, and he forgave them. He forgot all the happenings at school as he reached home. He was truly a God's child.

He had an elder brother, whom he loved very much. Tom. Tom was six years older to him, a fair and short boy with a bald shaved head. Tom had a fancy to baldness and for that reason he had shaved off his hair. He considered that as a style, as a fashion statement. And he had a goatee to top it all. He was quite handsome to look at and very athletic. He took care of his little brother pretty well. He sympathized with Derek and always looked to him with pity and love.

Today, they were alone. Their parents, Mr. Sam Norton and Ms. Isabelle Norton, were out of town on business and were set to return the next day. Tom always liked paranormal stuff, though he did not believe it in entirely. He was only curious to know and this had led him to deeply research the spiritual phenomena. He wanted to know whether such worlds existed and if they did, how and where? These questions he could not answer. He got no access to proper books and material. Some that richly treated the subject were out of his reach. The only way for him to formally undergo the spiritual research was take up a course with the department of paranormal studies at the local university, which was reputed in its own right. He loved watching horror movies but he had been forbidden by his parents who did not love movies, horror in particular.

He was supported by his close friends, Mortimer Greene and Silvia. Both of them were also horror fanatics and loved the supernatural stuff. They used to rent horror movies from a local library and used to watch it at Mortimer's place or Silvia's place. Since Tom's parents were away, they had planned to watch it at his place but somehow, they had designed a plan to scare Derek instead. And they had succeeded.

All three of them were buddies since their childhood and all wanted a seat at the university. For the same course, paranormal studies.

Derek hit the table late this Saturday morning. Fresh, cool wind blew in through the open windows, waving the white curtains aside. Winter was now about to end and would give way to a hopeful spring.

The living room was huge and at its center lay a wooden table with a glass plate over it. The plate was covered by a white cloth embroidered with shapes of flowers. On the table was already set Derek's breakfast, the normal, a pair of boiled eggs, a plate full of spaghetti, with pieces of ham thrown in and a small bowl of tomato sauce. For a young boy, he ate a heavy breakfast and as the day wore on, he would eat lesser and lesser.

Derek sat on a chair beside the table and started eating his breakfast. Few minutes, he felt a hand tugging at his legs. He was alarmed, weak hearted that he was.

He lifted up the cloth. A face suddenly glared at him; its lips blaring a scary sound. Derek, scared out of his wits, pushed his chair backwards and stood up, clinging to the wall just behind.

The face below smiled and started laughing. The voice and face became suddenly familiar. Tom.

"Hell, Tom. What's happened to you? Since yesterday night, you have been scaring me. Hell man."

Tom came out and stood in front of him.

"Look at you, Derek, your face has become white like the light."

"Tom, do this again and I won't talk to you ever, I swear."

"Ok, kid, now have your breakfast. It is pretty late. Eleven now."

Derek looked at Tom with his angry eyes. His heart was beating hard, thanks to the rush he had just received.

He was about to sit back when,

"Just have a look under the table. Just to be sure, you know." said Tom, still laughing.

Derek looked at Tom irritatingly.

But still, just to make sure there were no further pranks that could scare him, he lifted the cloth again. He let out a deep sigh as he found nothing.

He then turned to Tom, "If you had, then I would have killed you."

"For that, you would have to manage to stay alive. And I don't think you would have, considering I almost had you with the first two." laughed Tom.

Derek's eyes welled up with frustration.

"Hell, Tom, yes, I have a weak heart but that does not mean you can scare me as you would a goose.".

So saying, he stormed off, leaving his breakfast half eaten.