Note: This is a present-day event, (continuation of odd-numbered chapters time span evennts: 1,3,5, etc.)

It is Friday morning, the day after Greg’s disappearance. The television in the hangout blurs in the hangout. Something about Avian influenza that caused two deaths in England is being broadcast. I am bewildered about the fact as to how the Avian flu has its origin in Hong Kong but had spread rapidly toward the West: The Middle East, Italy, Frans, and England. Even parts of North Africa have been affected, and case there has been detected as well.

Gradually the sound of the television fades as the voices in the hostel hallway amplify. It appears as if it is the voices of teachers. Some of the seniors gather in small groups in the hallway.

“What the heck is going on?” I ask one of the guys that are in reach.

“Gregory has not yet returned,” he said.

“Mr Steward, along with a couple of other teachers are in his room.”

“Sorry guys,” I say as I forcefully try to get through the crowd that has gathered in the hallway, trying to make my way to Gregory’s room. At that moment, Mr Dali Freedman, the hostel administrator and a few teachers came barging out the door. They make sure to close the door of the dorm room behind them.

“Gentlemen,” said Mr Stanford, the maths. “Would you be so kind as to follow me to the hangout? We need to talk.”

Like a bundle of sheep, we follow him eagerly. Questions are being thrown around in whispers amongst the guys. There is a feeling of excitement in the air, something happened, almost close enough for us to turn the day around.

But somehow, the feeling of excitement is not apparent to me. I feel like it has a dark side. Something like fear.

Someone in the hangout switches off the TV. Mr Stanford had to silence us first before Mr Steward could speak. “We need to start combing the school grounds,” he said. He rolls the sleeves of his suit up. “We will divide into groups. The teacher, here will take you to the areas we want you to go and search.”

“What are we looking for, sir,” someone asks.

The response is most likely obvious, but perhaps not.

“Will be searching for Gregory Stevens. Or anything that might look out of the ordinary. Anything that may lay around. Clothing for example.”

There is a moment of silence. Then suddenly Steward add: “Dr Paterson is not in the office today, but I will try to keep him posted about what is going on here. As per his request, the rest of the school will operate as per usual. I request that you do not speak to the other students about this, do you guys hear me? I am counting on your integrity, gentlemen.”

Mr Stanford whispers something in Mr Steward’s ear. Mr Steward nods. “Another thing. Do not mention this to your parents. Well, at least not yet. We want to be certain of any declaration about what has happened for sure. Keep in mind that Blackwood International College is a school with a proud reputation. We cannot afford for it to suffer just for the mere fact that the one or the other…”

Mr Stanford places his hand on Steward’s shoulder and he stops talking in the middle of his sentence. His eyes shift from across the room gliding over one guy after the other, as if he is trying to read us. His eyes land on me for a moment, which I am openly comfortable with. “Go on and get dressed. Eat something. I will wait for you all on the plain within an hour.”


And so, the search for Gregory began. Where there the rumours started, God knows. But until such time that we stood on the plain, divided into groups, everyone speaks about a letter that was found. A suicide letter.

We start walking. I am completely discombobulated. Someone tries to make small talk with me, but I do not answer him, cause dude, buried emotions come to show face again. Ghosts from the past.


Daniel Wilson was my brother. The girls were crazy about him. Blond hair and a friendly, shy smile that went along with it. The two of us could talk for hours on end, sometimes until late in the evenings. Sometimes just about a lot of rubbish. He used to enjoy the extreme sport. Mountain climbing, mountain bike riding, white water rafting, and stuff like that. Once we went together to go bungee jump. The adrenaline rush made me a danger junkie as well, so all that was a dangerous thing I started to do alongside him.

You know you get those types of guys that are just naturally talented. They are best at everything they take on. Daniel was one of those guys. School, sport, you name it. I would think on some level he was my hero, but also my best buddy. I would have done anything for him. But he had never seemed to ask anything of me. I suppose I always thought that it was because he had everything he needed. But I was for sure wrong. Something was missing.

Then he went ahead and go and do something stupid.

Curtains tightly drawn

Pills on the bedside closet

“Good God Daniel!” did my mum shout.

Ambulance doors opened up slowly at the hospital

Emergency personnel on site.



Now there are rumours. Gregory might have committed suicide. It feels like a blockbuster that you have already seen. Why the fuck would it happen again? And why with Gregory of all people? The night he looked at me with the eighth graders’ initiation at the tunnel… It was almost as if Daniel was looking at me through Gregory’s eyes.

History repeats itself. That’s what people say. Well, they also say that you are on this earth to learn lessons. And if you fail to learn the first time around, then they will cross your path again. You cannot sidewalk it like in a rugby game.

I just cried when Daniel died.

“You will not!” my dad ordered me, his entire attitude nonchalant as if nothing had happened, as if it was someone else’s child that had died. Not his own. Not the son from whom he had expected so much.

And now, between the trees and the school border on the school terrain, I wonder: is this the lesson I was supposed to have learnt? How to act and behave as if I am human, to live life without needing to feel as if I am ‘solid’ all the time that prevents me from showing any emotion.

As far as possible, I try to walk away from the other guys.

Our eyes scan the floor. Looking up at the branches. Searching for a person.

The day passes by painstakingly slowly. By the evening there is still no sight of Gregory. Some of the teachers were out and about to go and search in the nearby towns. They were searching in the streets.

Tiredly I strip my clothes from my body that night. I tie a clean towel around my waist. Before I could walk out of my dorm room, my cell phone rang. It is my mum. We talk a lot of nonsense, but somewhere in the middle of the conversation she suddenly stops.

“Erik, what is the matter?” she asks.

“Nothing, mum.”

“I can discern from your voice that there is something…”

I cannot tell, I know this.

“Erick? What” she persists

I let off a sigh. “I was remembering Daniel today.”

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