He is the protagonist. He attends Blackwood International College. Located at the foot of the Maloti Mountains, Blackwood International College is an elite private boys' school, situated between Lesotho and South Africa's Free State Province. He is the school's student president and captain of the first rugby team. He is a top-tier student. Academically, he progresses fairly well. His father expects him to obtain twelve distinctions. In person, he appears to be stable, strong, and capable. When he reminisces about his late brother Daniel, it exposes his soft and emotional side.
Gregory Stevens (Greg)
Is the antagonist. He is the new kid on the block at Blackwood. From the beginning, there was friction between him and Erik. He often says things that appear to be perplexing for Erik’s comprehension and understanding. He is a bit of an outsider and a loner, not necessarily the ‘party type’, a heavy reader and is fanatical about computers and running. He has a heavy interest in computers and the dark realm of hacking. Erik gradually gravitates towards Gregory since there is a part of him that very strongly resembles that of his late brother Daniel. He has an overwhelming interest in computers and hacking. Gregory appears to be an isolated individual in so far as not sharing much about his personal life with anyone. It is later discovered that Gregory has a dark side to him. His bookshelf even contained a book about depression and psychological health. He mysteriously disappeared after being at Blackwood for a couple of months.
She is the mother of Erik. Her living standards and experiences are those of a rich man's wife, living on an enormous estate in Sandton, Johannesburg. For the better part of her days, she appears to be lonely. She endures the absence of a distant and absent husband that is very concerned about economic and business prowess. She is occupied for most of her day by TV and the estate staff.
Erik's Dad (Mr Wilson)
He is a jewellery magnate, and he owns the jewellery company Gemstone-Glide. He is quite a difficult man. He is a distant husband and absent father. He often neglects his family to achieve higher economic and business goals. He is driven and will do whatever it takes to remain at the top of his industry. He barely takes time off from work, he spends many hours away from his home, and he even takes some when he is on vacation. His eldest son, Daniel, is presumed to have committed suicide due to the heavy pressure and layers of expectations laid on him by his father. Often Erik feels so despondent and annoyed at his father, as he feels like his father’s manipulative attitude has shifted on him after Daniel’s death.
Daniel Wilson, Erik's dead brother
Daniel could be considered a ‘ghost character.’ He is not a character per se in the story but who, through the words and thoughts of others could have an impact on the events occurring in the story. Daniel was in his own right a top-tier student. The girls were crazy about him, the guy with blonde locks and hazel-green eyes. He was extremely infatuated with extreme sports, such as mountain climbing and mountain biking. With all the responsibility placed on his shoulders to be and become the best at practically everything, he succumbs under the pressure, took a hand full of pharmaceutical drugs, overdosed as a result of it and dies on the way to the hospital. For much of the time he is at Blackwood, Gregory reminds Erik very much of his brother Daniel. In fact, Gregory does become Daniel for Erik, so much so that he gave Daniel’s bedroom to Erik while on vacation.
Jimmy Thomson (JT)
Interestingly, Jimmy is the grandson of Claude Blackwood, the founder of Blackwood International. He is a reliable friend of Erik’s. He is skilled at badminton, disciplined and conducts himself orderly as the school’s standard requires it. Erik takes him into his confidence about everything that transpired between him and Gregory. He confesses to him that Greg is also heavily involved in hacking and is a hacker himself. Jim betrays him in the end by disclosing this information to the police.
Justin Goldberg (aka Bill)
He is also a friend of Erik. He is also a senior in the twelfth grade. He plays alongside Erik in the school’s first rugby team. His wit and intellect are often undermined as a result of him being always on a high and smoking joints.
He is the vice president of the Student Council, after Erik, the president. Erik finds it difficult to get along with him because he tends to act above his status at school. The tension between the two continues to amplify when Cedrick calls for the first student council meeting of the year, without Erik receiving any notice of it.
Isabella Fourie, Erik's girlfriend
She has long golden locks, blue eyes that resemble the ocean, a small nose with a sharp edge and thin lips that are coated always coated with red lipstick. Erik is sensitively concerned about his relationship with her. As he is miles away from her, he and she shared an intimate moment together when they visited Cape Point while on holiday. He fears he might not trust Isabella when she is alone in Durban.
Dr Hendrick D. Paterson (Doc Pat) Headmaster and Principal of Blackwood International College
He rules his school with an iron fist. He does not tolerate backchat or intolerable behaviour. He gets annoyed with the way Erik behaves towards him regarding Gregory’s disappearance. He tries to obscure everything in the media concerning Gregory’s disappearance. It is later discovered that he is a felon who committed heinous crimes
Dale Mansion, personal secretary of Doc Pat
While for the most part, he is proficient in his duties, he often gets overwhelmed with the workload, leading him to act at times gullible and naïve about most things. It becomes easy for Erik to engage him with social engineering, manipulating him to give the password to Doc Pat’s computer.
Nico Steward, vice principal & deputy headmaster of Blackwood International College
He is the only member of the staff, and of management that takes it upon himself to inform the police about Gregory’s disappearance. He cooperates and handles the police during their investigation.
Inspector Priyanka Kumar
Inspector Kumar knows how to hold her ground and does not allow people to push her around or intimidate her. She is driven and has a lot of perseverance to succeed in her job.
Sargent Leonardo McCallister
He serves as Inspector Kumar’s assistant.
William Stanford, the maths teacher for seniors at Blackwood
He is the one who reported Gregory’s disappearance to the school principal.
Thomas Felkin (aka Tommy), the school foreman
He manages the school grounds and ensures that the gates are locked after every school day. Erik and Greg are given access to the network lab by him.
Mr Dali Freedman, the hostel administrator
An ageing, half-bold old man who has become more creative about hiding the keys to the students' hostel. But it is later discovered that he was hiding the keys along with the door's runner underneath the stairs.
*Author’s Note* Dear readers, Before you go ahead and read this story, I thought it wise to leave a note concerning a couple of “needs to know” for your comfort. So here they are: (a) The structure of the book: The book is structured accordingly – a Prologue, a central part (Chapters 1-35) and an Epilogue. (b) Chronology of the book The book is told in an Achronological manner. The chapters will alternate between past and present-day events. All the unevenly numbered chapters, that is Chapters 1,3,5, and so on will include present-day events. These chapters revolve around the moment Gregory Stevens went missing and Erik’s investigation into his disappearance. On the other hand, all even numbered chapters, that is chapters 2,4,6,8 and so on will include past-day events (these are events that are 'flashbacks'). These chapters revolve around the first instance Gregory arrives at Blackwood. His first encounter with Erik and the evolution of their relationship. It also gives readers
He twirled around in his bed, having trouble falling asleep. He is huffing, almost as if his lungs had closed down from terrible flu.Suddenly, he is pulled from his slumber. His chest appears to be more receptive to receiving air, but his breathing remains irregular. A loud squeaking sound caused by a door that slides across the oak floor compels him to stand up.He moves towards the direction in which the noise comes from. He stares intently at the door. The noise came directly from a window which, because it was wide open, blew the door open back and forth timidly. Friction between the sill of the door and the floor causes an unbearable and irritating squeaking sound. The sound seemed to agitate him. He walked toward it in an attempt to shut the door.He approaches the door to close it, but as he does, he notices a familiar figure that he can recognize from a mile away. The figure sits in a ladder-style office chair. It was the wind that caused the squeaking sound of the door as it
Note: This is a present-day event, i.e. (start of odd-numbered chapters time span event: 1,3,5, etc.)The sudden vibration of my phone under my pillow caused a droning thump in my head. Therefore, I was woken up prematurely as a result. I am so annoyed right now. I am totally perturbed. Who could be calling this early in the morning? Well, whatever it may be, you can forget that I will indulge him, or her, or them. Lazily I tucked my left hand under the pillow. Even with my eyes, half closed, I still scanned the screen. After having pulled my phone from underneath my pillow, I instinctively felt the need to click the reject call button. My wits are rattled as I recognise the number and name that flashes on the caller ID. I dare not reject a call from her. I will never hear the end of it. The call took me by surprise at this hour of the morning. The call came from Isabella, my girl. A curvy smile stretched across my face. I hastily slide my index finger over to the accept call butto
Note: This is a past-day event, i.e. a 'flashback' (start of even-numbered chapters time span events: 2,4,6, etc.)It is the day before the last school year. As opposed to having previously been dropped at Blackwood with a limousine, my mum has opted to take me around this time. Yeah, I know what you're thinking - the supposed top guy at his school is going to be dropped off by mummy. Frankly, I preferred it as well.I never seem to get to spend as much time with either of my parents anymore. I suppose after Daniel’s death, none of us seems to have any agency to live life with a sense of gratification. I help my mother put the last suitcase in the trunk. She finalises a couple of things with our security chief and head house help, before getting into the car.The length of the pathway on this estate feels as if it could be a highway by itself, so unnecessary is its length. We finally approach the gate at the far south end wing. About five hundred miles from the estate we crossed the p
Note: This is a present-day event, i.e. (continuation of odd-numbered chapters time span event: 1,3,5, etc.)I firmly gripped the half-burned note in my hand, staring for quite a while at the continuous flashing of the wording on Gregory’s smartwatch. I notice that his running shoes are missing. Then he must probably still be running. I am very much aware that he is fanatical about it. He could run for hours on end in the morning. Sometimes even in the afternoon. Interestingly, he is known to be punctual. So, for the time I have come to know him, he has never been late. It concerns me somehow. Did something happen to him? I try not to ponder too much on the matter. But like a blown-up ball that bounces back when you try to push it down underwater, it keeps popping up in my head.After a while, I subconsciously shrugged my shoulders. Knowingly so with the surety that he might return at some point. Perhaps even with a good tale to tell. Who the heck knows?I decide to leave Greg’s room,
Note: This is a past-day event, i.e. a 'flashback' (continuation of even-numbered chapters time span events: 2,4,6, etc.)The first day of my last school year has been rolling like a long boring flick. Some of the other guys are up quite early already. For once I feel like just sleeping a bit longer for a while. I was not provided that leisure. Bill came knocking on my door and woke me.“Come on Erik, surely the student president should be setting an example for the other guys,” he says sarcastically.“I was not the one who elected myself into office. I shall choose to sleep if I wish,” I answered him sleepy“Oh, thee high and mighty,” giggled Bill. “President, vice president, of the student council. You bunch were likely business transactions, were you not? Contesting to see whose dad could give the school’s budget the best financial boost? Not to speak of those badges on your blazers that were pinned on your chest, is the bloody quotation you will be wearing throughout the year.”“F
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 t
Note: This is a past-day event, i.e. a 'flashback' (continuation of even-numbered chapters time span events: 2,4,6, etc.)On the quad between the five hostels, there is another water drainage pipe that runs along. It is this iron lid which Cedrick now removes. The metallic sound reverberates through the night. By the windows of the hostels, the rest of the guys stand and look on. They know exactly what is going on, they too went through this.I notice Gregory standing somewhere between all the other guys, while we wait for the eighth graders on the other side. While it appears that he might be standing amongst us, he seems at the same time distant. Arms folded. His eyes intently fixed on the dark hole in the ground.Shadows stretch long dark stripes over the paving. Voices banging against the buildings.We wait, breaths held until... the first pale fingers were folding over the edge of the manhole. Cedrick held out his hand, took hold of the eighth grader’s, and pulled him out. The yo