The town of Aver is a beautiful place to live. But Ruby James is tired of this small town. When she goes on a camping trip, she begins a diary. Her best friend, Alina Manson, is the only one who knows of this diary and its contents. Soon after, people begin disappearing. Ruby and Alina begin to unravel the mystery of the diary, and the disappearances. After discovering the hideous truth behind the disappearances, the two friends jump into a plot to leave the town before anyone else dies.
Chapter 1: The Diary
I looked out the window as my mother drove out of town limits. I breathed a sigh of relief; just knowing that I would be away from this town for three days made me content. Even as it was only a few minutes out of town, for the first time in months, I felt like smiling. Like dancing, and jumping around.
The town of Aver was a small, beautiful place. Tourists didn't come here often though. They normally came to a well known city. Aver seemed to only be known by those who live in it. The town isn't even located on a map. So, with the beautiful mountains, lakes, the townspeople, and no tourists...it seemed like the perfect place to live. And it was...for a while.
I used to love Aver. I'd loved the wildflowers, and the forests. I'd loved the town square, where there was a beautiful fountain with flowers around it. I used to swim in the fountain as a kid. My mother had told me I was swimming in people's wishes, and then she'd turn around, close her eyes, and throw a penny over her shoulder and into the fountain while I swam.
But now, Aver is just another town. And it just so happens to be a town that I hate. Maybe it's because I need change, or because the townspeople get on my nerves constantly. Maybe it's because I'm different from them, and they still haven't accepted me completely. Only a small group of people had accepted me since I'd moved here. Alina, my best friend, Matthew, the funniest boy in the school, Jessie, the first person I met in the town, and Andrew, the Star Wars geek. All of them outcasts, just like me.
I looked at the trees on the side of the road. "Hey mom?" I asked.
"Do you think that we could stop at the next store we see?"
"Yeah, sure. Are you hungry?"
My mom and dad continue to talk with each other, and I turned up my mp3 player to tune them out.
We drove for a little while, and found a convenience store, with another small shop attached to it. Mom parked the car and I got out. It felt good to stretch my legs and arms. I walked into the store and looked around. I grabbed a pack of crackers, and a green tea.
I walked to the counter, but something caught my eye in the other store. They were attached, with no wall or door between them. Only a sign that hung from the ceiling helped me differentiate between them. "Mellie's Antiques" it said. I walked into the other store to look at what caught my eye. It was a leather-bound book with a strap keeping it closed. I opened it, and looked inside, hoping to find something that I might be able to read during the car ride. The first page had six words on it The Diary of the Red Messenger. I flipped through the book, all the other pages were blank. "The Red Messenger," I mumbled to myself. Why didn't you say anything? I thought.
"Might as well put it to good use," a heard a woman's voice say. I looked to my left and saw an elderly woman staring at me. Her face seemed to be painted in a permanent frown.
"Uhm...yeah," I said. "How much is it?"
"That book has been in here for years. You can take it for free if you want. So many people have looked at it and just left it here. A few returned it without writing in it."
"Free?" I said, confused. "You're sure?"
"Sure, honey," the woman said, a small smile breaking out from her frown lines.
"Uhm...alright, thank you." I smiled back at her.
"You're welcome," she said and began to walk back to her desk. "Thank you for visiting Mellie's Antiques," she added while I stepped into the other shop again.
I put the diary in my bag, and walked to the counter with my crackers and tea.
"Did you get what you wanted?" my father asked.
"Yep," I said, flashing him a smile and putting the food on the counter. I touched my bag for just a second and mumbled "Everything".
My dad handed me my food as we walked back to the car. "Thanks," I said and I opened the door and got in. I reached in my bag and pulled out the diary. I ran my hand across the faded leather cover, admiring it. I smiled inwardly and opened it. I looked at the first page again. I read the words on the front again, and began to wonder who the Red Messenger was. I tried to picture the person who had been the owner of this diary, but all that came to mind was Little Red Riding Hood with her basket of goodies for her grandmother. This person had to have been someone much more significant than a little girl skipping through the woods.
I looked back at the book. Maybe I'd missed something while flipping through it so quickly in the antique store. So I began to look at every page, searching for some sort of documentary from this mysterious person.
I began to feel that my searching would be in vain after I got toward the back of the book, but I continued to look. In the last few pages, two simple words were written:
Apparently this red messenger person wasn't going to tell me anything. The End? I thought sarcastically to myself. What did you write that you had to end? I laughed at my idiotic question to someone who must have died before I was able to even read. It wasn't like they were going to answer it.
I closed the book and put it back in my bag. I'd write in it later.
I opened my crackers and put my headphones on. I picked my favorite band on my mp3 player and turned it up until I couldn't hear anything but the music. I opened my green tea and drank some. I hadn't realized how thirsty I was. I drank it all in just a few minutes.
I ended up falling asleep.
It was dark. I saw nothing...I just heard.
"Listen," I heard a voice say in my dream. "I realize that you've finally found someone after all those years...but don't you think she's just a little younger than we'd imagined?"
"I think she's just right for what we need," a female voice whispered ominously. "And youth is important. They're ignorant, and have a mind centered on themselves only. She'll be perfect. We need her to help us with--"
"Shh," cautioned the man's voice, cutting the woman off. "No doubt she can hear us now. She has a good heart. It's going to be difficult to have her proceed with any of this. It would be better to not let her know of what we're doing."
"Alright," said the woman. "But when are you going to let me communicate?"
"When it's time."
"The time won't come for a while. How are we to have her listen to us, if we have no means of communication?"
"It's simple. Your diary is the key, Red."
"Wouldn't that be considered communication?" Asked the woman he called Red.
"You won't be writing in it," said the man. "Not yet, at least. You know that whoever has the diary can hear us. You'll speak to her as we are speaking now, only not in person. She can't see you, and you are forbidden to see her until the time has come. But the Elders have not given us a rule against this type of communication."
"You sly dog," whispered Red. "Benjamin, you are absolutely devious."
"Thank you, Red," said Benjamin, I heard the smile in his voice.
Then, I woke up.
"Ruby, honey," my mother said while shaking me. "Ruby, we're here. Time to wake up."
I slowly opened my eyes, and then quickly closed them again. The sun was shining in through the window on my face, a huge difference from the darkness of my dream.
"Ruby Elizabeth James," my mother's voice turned hard. "I know you're awake, so get up and come out of the car."
"Alright, I'm up," I mumbled sleepily. I sat up and turned my face away from the sun so I could open my eyes. I grabbed my bag and slung it over my shoulder. Then, I carefully stepped out of the car. I put my arms out, stretching, and yawned.
My father mussed my hair and handed me the case containing the kit to put our tent up. I looked at it disdainfully. "Why can't we use the cabins?" I gestured to the sign which informed campers of the log cabins on the eastern section of the grounds.
"Don't you want the full camping experience, Rubes?" asked my dad.
Not if it keeps me from proper shelter from rain, I said to myself.
My mother laughed at my expression. "Don't worry, Ruby. It'll be fun!" she assured me.
"Alright," I said, looking at the ground.
We found a path close to where we parked our car, and began to hike. It wasn't steep, and it didn't take long to get to our spot in the forest. However, the ground, still wet from an earlier rainfall, was covered in mud, which splattered my legs. The mud went all the way up to my knee-length shorts, which had mud on the back because of all the times I slipped on the slick, wet leaves of the forest floor.
My dad put his stuff down on the ground and said "Hand me the tent, Ruby."
I gave him the tent and walked over to my mom. "Where should I put my stuff while he gets that ready?" I wasn't going to put them on the muddy forest floor.
"Just set them on top of the cooler."
I walked over to the cooler and put my bags on it, but then stopped when I got to the last one. I kept this one slung over my shoulder, for this one contained the diary.
I helped in all the ways that I could, which weren't many. I had no idea how to put a tent up, but with my dad's instructions, we managed to set it up in no longer then thirty minutes.
I picked up my bags and moved them into my section of the tent, which was separated from the rest of the tent by a wall that zipped up to give me more privacy.
For dinner, we made sandwiches out of the supplies on our cooler, and when it began to get dark, mom and dad decided that it was time for all of us to go to sleep. After all, it had been a long day.
As I sat in my section of the tent, I began to feel like this camping trip would be better than I'd assumed. I began to make a list of pros and cons on my head.
In the end, cons won over pros, but there ended up being more pros than I'd originally thought of. The best of them being that I was out of Aver. Finally, I thought to myself. The second best of them was that I had the diary...
When I began thinking about that, I took the diary out and opened it. I knew I had a pen somewhere in my bag. I dumped it out, and after a short time of searching, I found the pen.
I put the pen to the page, and began to write.
Camping with the family. Maybe it won't be as bad as I'd imagined. After all, I am out of Aver.... Took long enough! I've been there for how many years? I'm sixteen, and I've lived there since I was 3. I wouldn't mind leaving Aver...I really wouldn't mind if....
I continued to write until I could keep my eyes open. Half the time, I felt like I wasn't even conscious while writing. Like it was a dream, or as if my brain had disconnected from my body. I just rambled on senselessly, until I couldn't write any longer. I didn't both reading over what I'd written; I signed the entry with my initials and put it away.
I fell asleep quickly, and my dream had the same qualities as earlier today. It was dark, I saw nothing...I only heard voices--the same voices as before.