Stranger Things, Part 1
There are way too many wolves outside town, and the ravens say there are even a few within. Whatever the case, don’t forget to lock your doors at night, people. We are not safe. That should be the town logo. LOL. — Tweet from the Raven_Eye.
Dad was livid.
“Do you know what time it is, Jessica?” he snapped at me.
Jessica — he never called me that unless he was really, really angry.
“I was about this close from calling the cops!” he continued.
The lecture about how dangerous it was to be out at night alone would go on for a full five minutes, and I was honestly just glad none of the neighbors had come out to see why a forty-two-year-old man was raving like a lunatic on our front porch. I was also glad he didn’t notice Ollie earlier, either. That would have been a whole other rant.
Still, seeing how pale dad’s freckled face looked was proof enough that he’d been terrified for me, and all I could think about was how this carrot top was the best dad in the whole freaking universe.
I waited for him to let me get a word in to say, “I’m sorry, dad... I just got lost.”
Then I gave the guy a hug. It had the added effect of shutting him up, too.
Yes, I knew how to work him. June’s better at it though. She could make dad eat out of her hand when she really wanted to.
“Dad...” I still had my arms wrapped around his waist. “Why did you move away from Forest Hills?”
I wasn’t sure if I meant to ask him that but seeing him standing outside his old house brought up the memory of how Ollie seemed to know more about my family’s past than I did.
Dad was frowning when he pulled away, but his clean-shaven face with the long, hooked nose and the kind green eyes had never looked intimidating to me. He was just dad.
“Why would you ask me that now?” he asked.
“Because it’s relevant,” I replied. “I mean, you did just move us back here and all.”
No, it wasn’t technically a lie. I just didn’t mention the weird stuff.
The raised eyebrow told me he knew I was holding something back, but he hadn’t pressed me for it. Instead, dad sighed, and with knotted brow simply said, “It’s a really long story, Jess... and not all of it’s good.”
He sighed again.
“Ask me some other time... preferably when I’m not half out of my wits from worrying over you,” he added.
“Okay, dad,” I said.
I knew better than to push my luck with him. And he didn’t say no exactly, just to give him some time to tell it. This probably meant I was about to hear some interesting backstory in the near future, and I guess that would be worth the wait.
But, as he guided me back into the house, I did manage a, “Hey, dad... are there wolves in Forest Hills?”
He froze just like Ollie had when I asked him about the wolves. “Why do you ask that, Jess?”
I could just hear the barest hint of worry in his voice.
“Um, I think I heard one howling nearby when I went jogging,” I admitted.
It wasn’t a total lie, just one of omission. Dad didn’t need to know about me almost getting eaten by an oversized wolf or his blood pressure my just spike past tolerable levels. He didn’t need to know about Ollie, either, at least not yet.
“Probably... it’s mostly forest surrounding the town,” he said matter-of-factly, but I could tell this was a brush-off technique, one that never really worked on me or June. “Jess...”
I smiled sweetly at him. “Yeah?”
He sighed. “Nothing... just... No more jogging after sunset anymore, alright?”
“Okay, dad,” I answered quickly, although a part of me felt bad lying like that. Because I did think I would be jogging in the middle of the night again, especially if that might mean I’d run into Ollie once more. “So... where’s my room and how much bigger is it than June’s?”
That made dad grin. A big silly grin that meant he’d forgotten about his worries for now. “You’re going to love it, Jess... It’s double the size of your old one, and I know it’s a fixer-upper, but a little TLC will make the new room feel even better than the old one. I promise.”
And that’s how my first day in Forest Hills went. Not at all like how I expected it to be. I toured the neighborhood, got my dose of close encounters with the local wildlife, met a weird handsome boy who wasn’t as boring as all the other handsome boys I knew, saved weird handsome boy, and even learned his name. Not a bad first day, all things considered.
I suppose I should also mention how I woke up in the middle of the night to grab a glass of water from the kitchen downstairs and noticed another strange thing about Forest Hills.
The window on the second-floor landing had a good view of the front yard where I thought I saw these strange red fireflies floating by the bottom step of our front porch. There was something odd about them too — apart from their red glow, I mean. It was almost like these fireflies had shadows much bigger than they were.
I blinked and then they were gone, which meant I must have been imagining them, especially the part where two of them had drifted toward the window.
"This town is so weird," I sighed.
It was definitely strange, but not nearly as much as meeting Ollie. That was definitely stranger.
CHAPTER FOUR Stranger Things, Part 2 Two days after my night in the woods, dad surprised me with a car. I know! A freaking car! And it had been such a struggle just getting him to pay for driving lessons last year. “Driving before you’re eighteen and responsible just leads to accidents, Jess, and I’m not comfortable with you driving in the city with all the other drunk drivers who populate California’s teenage driving population,” he’d once lectured. But now, mere days after we’d left Orange County behind, he actually got me a car... a car! Yeah, I still can’t believe it. “Okay, who are you and what did you do with my dad?” I joked, although I w
CHAPTER FIVE The New Girl, Part 1 The ravens come bearing news. A certain new redhead was spotted in Midtown today. And I hear her daddy dearest is every bit the #mchottie his daughter is. Forest Hills could certainly use middle-aged eligible bachelors. Too many of them leave. #foresthillsmysteries — Tweet from Raven_Eye. They say lightning never strikes twice, but it apparently does in Forest Hills. Ollie’s life was in danger once more, and there I was trying to rescue him again. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how I did it, but I managed to reach him just before the truck did. “Hey!” I grabbed onto the sleeve of his arm and then pulled him back in desperation. I didn’t mean to twirl him around so he
CHAPTER SIXThe New Girl, Part 2I woke up on the wrong side of bed the next day thanks to yesterday’s weirdness, and I was still feeling like an extra on the Walking Dead by the time I parked my car in the parking lot of the place that filled me full of anxious vibes.Yep, you guessed it. Today was D-day, and first day as a senior at Forest Hills High.I glanced over at the rearview mirror to stare at my tired-looking face. “It’ll be okay, Jess. You’ll make a ton of friends, breeze through AP classes, and not make a fool of yourself on your first day in a new school.”No, I didn’t believe anything I’d just said, but it cost me nothing to try to feel upbeat about it all.&nb
*NOTE: Edited 08/17/21. Streamlined sentences, added in dialogue, and fixed grammar issues.CHAPTER SEVENJoyride, Part 1The ravens say that the new girl and the football jock have flown the coop… a budding romance? Or teens turning bad? You decide Forest Hills! #jessiver — Tweet from Raven_Eye.The ride wasn’t as long as I thought it would be, just a short hop from the high school to one of the shops in midtown, which was enough minutes for me to feel just a little guilty for ditching school on my first
CHAPTER EIGHT Joyride, Part 2 Ollie handed me the flowers while he took the time to wipe away the fallen leaves around Ellie’s gravestone. The careful and respectful way he cleaned around her told me she must have been important to him. “Was Ellie your girlfriend?” I asked. “She’d tell you she doesn’t date jocks,” Ollie chuckled, although the laughter never reached his eyes, “right before laughing in your face for thinking she’d ever hook up with me.” I gave Ollie a skeptical look. “So she wasn’t your girlfriend then?”
CHAPTER NINE Nancy Drew, Part 1 People say Forest Hills memorial is so old even the ghosts don’t remember who they are… I’d be cautious when visiting the place though. Some stories claim that a daytime visit to the cemetery might mean you get a visitor at night too. #ForestHills #Spooksville — Tweet from Raven_Eye. The following message was read from the email of Jonathan Day and later added into the live journal of Jessica Day; Jono, It’s happening again… but it’s worse now because there’s no one else in the know. The rest of our goon squad has moved away, and the few of us who are left have begun to forget, or at least they’re trying to… Ellen did. It’s why she couldn’t protect her girls from it. Sh
CHAPTER TEN Nancy Drew, Part 2 “Are you serious?” Emma asked as she leaned over her seat to whisper in my ear. “You saw the red fireflies?” “Y-yeah,” I replied. I was surprised by how serious Emma seemed to get the more she listened to last night’s weird episode. “Do you know what they are?” I asked. I’m pretty sure I held my breath while waiting for her to reply. Emma’s face turned contemplative just before she leaned back in her chair and said, “No, first time I’ve ever heard about them.” She was grinning back at me, and I nearly threw my book at her. “Seriously?” I frowned. “Well, you were being so serious I didn’t want to kill the mood,” she admitted. Now I really had my his
CHAPTER ELEVEN Ghost Story, Part 1 Rule number one of Forest Hills; don’t ask questions… you’ll never like the answers. Rule number two; when you do learn the truth, do your absolute best to look like you don’t know… that’ll keep you alive. #surviveFH #Spooksville — Tweet from Raven_Eye. I’m not entirely sure why I let Emma drag me into the school library during lunch. I’m also not sure why I didn’t just shut her crazy theory down immediately after she’d said it. “Emma…” I sighed. “Haven’t you heard of the internet?” “The internet’s overrated,” she replied. Emma had dropped me off at a table at the far end of the library before she went hunting off for the thing she wanted to show me. She came back wi