Melissa Perez lived in a small house in Ely Nevada, she loved living in the town and knew many of the people that lived there. She didn't always live in the town, due to Melissa's father being in the U.S Army they would move place to place giving her no chance to make friends. But since her father officially retired three months ago, just a couple of weeks after Melissa turned eight. Melissa for the first time was able to hope to make new friends, and she did after a month of going to a new school.
As Melissa was packing her school books for the Easter weekend, her friend Chrissy walked up to her with her wavy dark brown hair bouncing side to side. "Hey Melissa, are you still coming over for the slumber party tonight? Chrissy asked in a very excited voice, and Melissa knew how much she was looking forward to it since three other girls in the class were invited as well.
Melissa gave Chrissy a warm smile and nodded her head, before closing her locker and zipping her backpack and replying in a calm voice. "Yep, my father will drop me off at six I clock, right after we finish our dinner. I will also make sure to grab my beading kit so we can make necklaces and bracelets."
As Melissa placed her backpack on her back, Chrissy smiled back then quickly replied by saying. "Sounds good Melissa, see you later." Chrissy waved goodbye before running out the front door leaving Melissa the last person standing in the hallway making it eerily quiet. As Melissa looked up and down the hallway, she recalled a ghost story one of her classmates told about a dead girl that wandering the halls.
That a teacher had killed the poor girl after the kid was forced to stay after school, the only thing anyone found was her blood-soaked backpack. Just thinking about that story sent chills down Melissa's back, just as she was about to turn and run for the front door. Melissa heard something fall, which caused her to leap into the air and bolt out of the school while not daring to look back. She was about to make it to the bottom of the stairs when all of a sudden she ran into a tall dark brown haired man.
The force of running into the man sent her flying back and landing butt first into the school stairs, at first Melissa sat there in shock. Not long after they ran into each other, did the man offer to help her up and then spoke in a soft tone. "Are you alright, young lady?"
For a moment Melissa sat there not sure what to do, her parents had always told her not to talk to strangers. While it was nice that he was offering her a hand up, Melissa was unsure if she should take his hand since she didn't know if he would try to kidnap her. As she turned her gaze up and stared into his eyes, Melissa saw that he was angry which made her more scared of the man. "I'm fine, sorry but I better get going my dad is waiting for me."
Melissa started to try and walk past him, only to have the man step in her way anytime she tried to go a different way. "Come on, you don't have to go so soon after all I want to do is talk that is all." As he spoke those words, Melissa noticed how cold his voice had become making her more nervous, but she did her best to remain calm.
Instead of letting her self-become overwhelmed she took a quick gaze of her surroundings, while she didn't see many people walking nearby. Melissa did notice Miss Applebee walking her brindle Irish wolfhound Charlie, once the older woman saw what was going on she walked over to them. "Melissa dear, shouldn't you be on your way home? Your mother will be worried if you are late." Miss Applebee asked in a soft tone, while at the same time not giving any knowledge of noticing the man blocking Melissa's way.
At first, Melissa was scared to say anything to Miss Applebee. She had no idea if the man might have some kind of weapon, but as soon as Charlie nuzzled her right hand Melissa finally spoke in a low voice. "I was on my way but this man wouldn't let me pass, would you mind walking me home." As soon as Melissa said that the man took off down the street, leaving her with Miss Applebee and Charlie growling loudly at the man.
Once the man was no longer in sight, Miss Applebee placed a protective arm around Melissa and drew her close. "Come on Melissa, let's get you home dear." Miss Applebee kept her voice remarkably calm but after watching the old woman, Melissa could see that she was very worried by the man.
While they walked to Melissa's house no one said a word, they just walked side by side for a block before they finally reached her house. Before Miss Applebee left her Melissa gave her a big hug before looking up and in a soft-spoken voice, she said. "Thanks for walking me home Miss Applebee, that man was a bit scary and I was worried he would try and kidnap me or follow me home." Miss Applebee gave a warm smile to Melissa and then, pat her lightly on the head while she stood there at the foot of her driveway.
"Make sure to tell your parents what happened, so they can call the police and I think it is best not to wander out alone for a while. Now get yourself inside, and remember you are always welcome to join me and Charlie anytime." Miss Applebee told Melissa before walking across the street and entering, the third house down from hers.
Melissa ran into the house as soon as Miss Applebee crossed the street, as she opened her door she looked around and saw no sign of the man. As she entered the house she gazed up the stairs before popping her head into the living room on the right, as she did she saw her little brother Fred. While he was four years younger than her, Melissa loved her little brother and enjoyed going to the park with him to build sand castles. It didn't take Fred long to drop his crayon and run towards Melissa giving her a big hug, she, of course, hugged him back.
"Welcome home, big sis I missed you," Fred said in a very baby voice. Fred smiled at Melissa that was when she noticed that he had lost another baby tooth on the right side. Melissa gave her brother another smile before taking a look around the room trying to see where their parents were.
No matter how much she tried to spot them from where she was standing, Melissa couldn't tell where in the house they were. The room became quiet and as if Fred knew something was wrong, he grinned then in a low voice asked Melissa. "Sis, is everything alright?" Melissa returned her gaze to Fred and could see that he was now looking worried and that was one thing she didn't want him to be.
"It's nothing I was just looking for mom and dad, but how about you show me what you been drawing while we wait for them," Melissa told Fred. While doing her best to keep her voice as calm as possible, she offered her hand and allowed her brother to lead her to the coffee table. Fred lifted the picture to reveal that he had drawn the whole family, seeing it made Melissa smile and forget her worries for that short while.
Melissa sat beside Fred and watched him as he started to draw another picture it didn't take her long to notice it was a picture of her. Though she looked more like a pig than a person, seeing the picture made her laugh loudly when Melissa started to laugh so did Fred. Soon enough their mood changed when they heard the back door opening, and Melissa and Fred's mother enter the house yelling at their father. "Do you think it's fair to our children, to ask them again to move to Washington because you got a job in the FBI?"
Without thinking Melissa scooped her brother and led him upstairs to his room, once they were in there she grabbed his lego and passed it to him. "Play with these ok kiddo?" Melissa kept her voice low, but even while they were upstairs they could still hear their parents fighting and the word move made her grin.
After her father had retired, Melissa thought that they wouldn't have to move again that they would stay in Ely where her friends were. Melissa kept Fred in the room for an hour after the yelling had stopped, during which time her brother had started to cry leaving her to comfort him. While Melissa was hugging him, loud footsteps could be heard coming towards the bedroom which when the door open revealed it was their father.
"Fred, why don't you go down and help your mother set the table for dinner." Their father's voice was stern and without saying a word Fred walked out of the room, leaving their father staring down at Melissa. Melissa's father spoke again this time his voice was not a stern as it was when he told Fred to go downstairs. "Thank you for taking care of your brother, you are a such a great big sister."
Melissa got up from where she was sitting and walked over to him, giving him a big hug while trying to find the words to tell him what had happened. But no matter how hard she tried, Melissa couldn't find the words so decided to wait until after the sleepover to tell him. "I better go pack for the sleepover, you're still walking me over to Chrissy's house after dinner right?" Melissa asked her voice sounding strained as she hoping he would say yes, the thought of her walking over by herself scared her especially after what happened at the school.
At first, Melissa's father stared down at her as if he was studying her face for any signs that something was wrong. "Melissa, you know you can tell me if something is wrong. Right?" Her father told her while keeping his voice soft, it left Melissa rethinking telling him but and she was about to then stopped herself. Melissa figured that if he found out, that he might tell her that she couldn't go to the sleepover after she already promised to be there.
"Everything is fine dad, I just trying hard to make sure I remember my beading kit so we can make necklaces and bracelets." Melissa quickly told him, as she headed to her room and her father followed behind while watching her pack her clothes and beading kit. While she was packing her father stood there, watching Melissa for awhile that was until they heard her mother call up the stairs.
"Dinner." Melissa zipped up her duffle bag as soon as her mother said those words, her father carried her down on his back just like he use to when she was younger. Dinner was quiet, everyone in Melissa's family ate her mother's Chicken Casserole without saying a word or asking about the fight.
After dinner was over Melissa did her routine which was helped her mother clear the table, then clean all the dishes. While her father and Fred went into the living room to watch some hockey, as Melissa passed her mother the last plate. She could hear her father explaining the game to Fred, once the last plate was put away Melissa looked at her mother worried about what she heard earlier.
"Mom are we going to move again?" Melissa kept her voice low enough that her father and Fred couldn't hear them talking, but the worry in her voice was easy to hear. Her mother turned and looked towards the living room, once her mother was sure that her father couldn't hear them she pulled her to the side.
Melissa's mother then bent down so they were eye to eye, then in a very kind low voice she spoke to her while placing a hand on her right shoulder. "It's nothing for you to worry about, you have a good time at the sleepover and we will see you tomorrow at lunch." Even as Melissa listened to her mother's words, there was something that told her something was wrong.
She was about to ask her mother what was bothering her when her father walked in, started glaring at her mother before returning his gaze to her. "Come on Melissa, we better get going." Her father's voice was a bit warm when he spoke to her, but she could sense that there was some tension in the room.
Not wanting her parents to fight again, Melissa gave her mother a big hug before going to the living room and hugging Fred. "Be a good boy Fred, I will see you tomorrow ok?" Melissa quickly said as she patted him on the head, she watched as the boy let out a big yawn before nodding his head and rubbing his eyes. Not long after that Melissa grabbed her bag and headed out the door, as they started to make their way down the street.
Not Melissa nor her father noticed that there was a dark figure, inside of the black SUV was watching their house and as also watching them as they walked. Nor did Melissa realize, that her not telling her parents about what happened at the school would have horrible consequences.