Chapter 0:


When the Shadows Materialize

     I step into the main office at the school. I have been here a few times in the past couple of months. The dean of students usually tries to get me to join some extracurricular activity I am not interested in. He says “Samael, someone with as much potential as you should join something. It’ll look better for colleges that you would eventually want to get into.”

I’m walking through the short hallway going towards his office with my friend Titan. I know this was going to be short so I just invited him along with me. I didn’t want him to wait for me outside the office. I stopped when I reached the dean of students’ door.

“Thank you for coming, Samael. Please take a seat over there.” he motioned towards the chairs across from his desk.

I sat down at the chair, Titan remained standing behind me looking at the different motivational posters scattered on the walls. The dean waited to talk until he was done with whatever he was typing. He then grabs a piece of paper behind him and slides it towards me.

“This right here, Samael, is a document notifying you that you, after this semester, have reached the number of credits needed to graduate. I see that you have straight A’s in all your classes with just a few weeks left before your winter break. The extra classes you took during those two other summers gave you enough credits to get a semester ahead and I don’t think there is a way for you to fail one of those so we wanted to let you know that you can graduate early if you so wished.”

Graduate early. A semester early. Something that I didn’t think was possible when I started here. I was a solid straight D+ student at my middle school. Before high school, no class seemed to interest me, but when I walked inside those doors something just clicked in me, and became a bookworm.

“What do you think, Samael?” Mr. Herbenson interrupted my thoughts. Looking at the paper I replied with an unenthusiastic “I’ll think about it.”

I took the paper and started to leave the room. I got one foot out of the door when Mr. Herbenson spoke up again.

“Please consider it. This kind of thing doesn’t happen to just anyone. Take advantage of it and start your adult life early.”

“So you have no other clubs you want me to join like the last few times?” I gave him an accusatory look when I asked that question. He shakes his head no.

“Oh, I get it you're just so caught up in trying to recruit me to things that you even want to recruit me out of here now, huh?” He smiles at my comments and waves for me to leave, which I do in a hurry.

“Dude, that's insane.”

Titan was jumping off the walls from how excited he was for me. I don’t know why if I did decide to leave early he would have barely anyone to talk to anymore.

“I didn’t even say I was going to do it, idiot.”

I’m just trying to calm him down at this point. He’s always been like this, getting hyped up for the littlest of things. Nothing seems like a bad time for him. Ever since we were little kids he’s always been the life of the party.

“This is something I couldn't even dream of dude. You gotta be more excited for this than you are right now.”

He puts his arm around me and grabs my cheek, pulling it to make a smile. Still laughing he walks around the corner of the hall and bumps into someone.

“Sorry ‘bout that.”

The guy didn’t say anything and just stepped around him and started to walk away. He didn’t even look at Titan but stared at me as he passed me. It felt weird. I don’t know how to explain it. It was like he somehow knew and wanted to hurt me. It was a weird vibe coming from him.

“Samael, let’s go.”

Titan gripped tightly around my arm and dragged me around the corner for the exit. He only let go of me after we got out the doors.

“Did you know him?”

He asked me while walking.


“Why were you just staring at the floor, then?”

I didn’t know what he was talking about. I try to think hard about the weird thing that just happened and realized I was staring at the ground.

“I don’t know. It was just a weird vibe, ya know?”

We threw our bags in the back of my car and got in. He rummages through my glove box and pulls out a pipe.

“You wanna hit this?”

I did want to hit it. Pretty badly too. I reach out to grab the pipe and I feel a hand slap my hand. I look at him with an accusatory look.

“Nah you were saying you were quitting didn’t you?”

“Really?” I said infuriated.

“Hey man, I’m just doing what you wished.”

He takes a lighter from his pocket and lights it up.

“Thinking about it, I think I have seen that guy before.”

He said while holding in the smoke. After blowing the smoke out and coughing a few times he explained.

“I’m pretty sure I saw him with a few other people before. They all seem pretty quiet and don’t talk much. A few cute girls in that group too. Do you know Maria and Adelaide? They are in that group.”

I heard of them before. I've never talked to either one of them, and it seems like they don’t talk to other people. I've even seen a few guys trying to ask them out. Getting shut down coldly without even finishing their question. It is weird seeing how reclusive they are while being that popular with the guys' hearts.

The guy that we bumped into I've never seen before so if Titan says he's seen him with the two girls I can't question it. I’m sure he gets the same confessions as the girls.

“Yea I get it, man. They are kinda weird. It seems like they are trying to hide something from everyone.”

I turn on the car and start to leave the school. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a car with someone I couldn't see driving close to me.

“Oh yea that reminds me. We’re going to a party tonight.”

I look at him with a disgusted look.

“No, we’re not.”

“Come on, you can’t just sit in your room all the time. How are you not bored out of your mind?”

“Because I like to do things that entertain me when I’m sitting in that boring room. What made you even think I would want to go to a party anyway?”

“Because we haven't been to one in over a year, and you are a loner. So why not?”

He looks at me with a smile on his face. I knew I wasn't going to get out of this one. He was going to bug me until I give in and go with him.

“Fine I’ll go, but if I’m not having a good time within the first hour I’m leaving without you.”

He shrugged his shoulders. I know he was just happy that I was going along with this plan of his.

“Okay then here’s the plan. I need you to pick me up at 8 and I’ll tell you where to go from there.”

Looking over at my desk I see my history book and my journal. I know that I wouldn't enjoy this party at all. I know as soon as I get there I would want to be back home writing or doing some research for my end-of-the-semester essay.

I changed into a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt for the party. I want to just blend into the crowd and leave as soon as possible without anyone noticing.

Checking my phone again I see that it's 7:50. I know that I have to leave to pick up Titan but I am having second thoughts about even going. Might as well just start moving before I double down on my thoughts and just ghost Titan.

Titan only lives about 5 minutes from me so I knew I would get there before his 8 o’clock deadline. So I started driving slower and took a long way to get to him. When it was all said and done I got there at 8:02.

He comes rushing out of the house without me calling or messaging him. He seems extra excited for this party for some reason.

“Thought you would get cold feet, man,” he says while jumping into the passenger seat.

“I do have cold feet. I just didn't want to disappoint you.”

He gives one of his classic smiles and begins to give me directions to the party.

The drive itself didn't take long. The part that was the worst was trying to find parking. It easily took just as long going up and down the streets to find a parking spot.

“Good, we’re here. I got one hour to wow you right?”

“You're saying that it's going to be an easy thing.”

We get out of the car and start to walk towards the house. The party seems to have been going on for a little bit. Red solo cups and garbage fill the lawn already. Hundreds of high schoolers are in and outside of the pretty big house.

As we walk into the house Titan immediately makes a beeline toward the keg. After handing me a cup he fills his own. I know I will hate it here sober so I start drinking the beer.

I take a look around the party and there are a lot of people here that I recognize from school, and a few I didn't. I even saw someone from the group of people that Titan said that Baron guy was in. She was even alone here. Not talking to anyone.

“Yea, that should get you loose, my guy”

I felt an arm wrap around me. It was somebody that I didn't recognize. He was drunk out of his mind already.

“Yea just like you, right? You seem to be having a good time.”

“I’m having an amazing time.”

He stumbles away from me while I look back at my cup. I take a sip and start to walk around with Titan.

He seems to socialize well with other people. I must've looked like a scared dog behind him while he was talking because I would not talk and take sips of my drink.

“Hey, Sam.”

I heard a drunk girl behind me. I turned around to see that it was a girl from my math class. Olivia, I think her name is.

“How are you doing? I’m surprised to see you here.”

“Yea, just came here because Titan basically forced me.”

She laughed hard at my comment. It wasn't meant to be a joke.

“Well, did you want me to show you around?”

I take a look back at Titan. He was deep into a conversation. This could be my way out early if I ‘get lost’ from Olivia.

“Sure, that sounds good.”

She began to shuffle me around the room trying to get to the hallway. The number of people in the room made it difficult for her to get through, so I started to lead the way. Slightly pushing people out of the way to make sure she got through.

Once we got to the hallway, I could now see how drunk she was. She was stumbling over herself, falling over, and she had a glazed look in her eyes. I had to think of a way to get away from her soon. I didn't want to try to hold a conversation with a girl that is that intoxicated.

“Hey, so I was thinking about getting another drink from the-”

I was immediately stopped in the middle of my sentence by her kissing me. I backed off as quickly as I could. She must've seen how shaken I was from the sudden action.

“Sorry. I just thought. I have had a crush on you for a while.”

She backed up a bit before looking at me again and she turned and walked back into the living room.

I just stood there in the hallway not knowing what to think for a little bit. A girl confessed to me that she liked me. I never even knew anybody could like me like that. I was just the quiet kid in the class. Getting his work done and not much else.

The thing that shook me out of my thoughts was that girl from that group walking past me. Maria.

I shook my head and started to walk toward the kitchen. I might have one more drink and head out early.

I find where the kitchen is and luckily there aren't as many people in here as in the living room. About 10 people stood in this kitchen when I came in. That was quickly about to change.

I look around the kitchen for any beer. There was a pack of cans, so I took one. I open it and take a drink of the bitter liquid.

I leaned against the counter and relaxed for the first time I got here. I just can’t believe I’m here. Friday nights I would usually just sit in my room. Now I'm here for some reason.

When I was silently listening to the other people in the kitchen, out of the corner of my eye I saw a group of people walk in.

Piquing my curiosity I take a look at who came in. After taking a look I stopped leaning on the counter and tried to leave using the other kitchen entrance. I did not want to be in the same room as those who walked in.

I turned the other way as fast as I could and tried to walk out.

“Where you going, Samael?”

I hear while feeling a strong grasp on my shoulder. He turns me around. I couldn't look him in the eye. I can only look down at his shoes.

“Look at me!”

He screamed right in my ear. As I glanced up to look him in the eyes I saw the punch from him coming forward.

I didn't even flinch. I knew I deserved anything that he would want to get out of his system.

Before I knew it the kitchen was flooded with people cheering on his punches. I deserve this. I deserve to be embarrassed by him. I deserve to be the humiliation of the party. I deserve everything that came to me.

He pushed me to the ground and continued his barrage of punches. I just had to wait for him to get tired or too frustrated to stop. I don’t plan on fighting back at all.

I deserve this.

I deserve this.

I deserve this.

That’s all I could think of every time he connects his fist.

Just as fast as it started I felt him come off of me. I saw someone had pushed him off of me and grabbed my hand.

The person was dragging me out of the house, and all I could do was look back at the kitchen and then the house.

“You know, you’re making this job a lot harder than it should be!”

It finally hit me that this person had dragged me out of the house to avoid getting beat more. I look back at who raced me out. It was Maria.

“You could’ve made it easy on me tonight and just stayed home.”

What is she talking about? Was she following me or something?

“Why did you do that?” I asked.

“I had a job to do. And I’m sure he would've tried to beat you to death, or at least close to it.”

“What is this job? And what does it have to do with me? You could've just left me there.”

“I don’t know how much I can tell you at this moment. Just know I can’t let you get hurt. That’s my job.”

She takes out her phone and dials a number.

“Hey-” I try to get her attention, but she ignores me.

“Adelaide, my cover is blown.”

“You still owe me answers-”

“Got it. I’ll take him over right now. It shouldn't take long.”

She looks back at me and points in the direction of my car.

“I’m taking you to someone who will give you answers if you want them.”

“So what was that fight about?”

She was giving me directions to where we were going and to break the silence she asked me that.

“I’m not too sure how to explain it. We were childhood friends.”

“I don’t think most childhood friends would want to kill each other.”

She’s right. I know she’s right. I just don’t know how else to explain it without giving terrible flashbacks.

“I guess. That’s all I know of childhood friends. The shortest way I could explain it is that one of my friends died, everyone was depressed and stressed out and he mistakenly thought I was hooking up with his girlfriend. Big fight, he hates my guts so much that he would beat me to death as you would put it.”

She fidgets in her seat a little bit after I say that.

“I’m sorry.”

She genuinely seems sorry for me. I don’t know who she is, but she seems to know me. It feels weird to think about. If this is what being famous feels like I want nothing to do with it.

“And what about the girl you kissed in the hallway?”

“She did that. I stopped it.”

“How much farther is this place?” I tried changing the subject.

“Just around the corner. Take this left.”

Taking the turn I notice this is a block that is filled with apartment buildings.

“Are you taking me to your place? I thought there would at least be a date beforehand.”

“You’re meeting with Adelaide, idiot. I’ve been told I can’t tell you anything about this.”

That’s who she was talking to on the phone. I remember Titan telling me Adelaide was a part of the group Maria was in. First baron, then Maria, now Adelaide. Am I just going to meet with everyone in that group today?

Maria forces me into the building and up the elevator. Once we reached down a long stretch of a hallway she stopped and knocked on the door.

“Adelaide I brought the idiot.”

I could understand why Maria was angry at me. Dragging me out of a beat down and supposedly blowing her cover of something she had to do. Even though I didn’t know what this is all about, this is at least interesting.

The door opens and Maria goes inside without saying anything. A head pokes out of the doorway with a smile.

“Come on in!”

I entered the apartment and was surprised by what I saw. The living room seemed like an office. A big table was in the middle of the living room. With chairs and papers scattered across. Multiple cubicle-like setups were on the far wall of the room.

“Please, Samael, sit down.”

I grab the closest seat to the door. Maria is already sitting down in one of the cubicles, looking at a computer screen.

“How do you guys know me?”

She goes around the table and sits down across from me.

“It’s a little complicated to explain. Just have an open mind will you?”


“Okay, I don’t want to waste your time so I’ll just come out and say it. We are called Accroître. we are an organization that fights against the devil.”