Samantha Elizabeth Manson was a bright-eyed six year old when her family decided to buy the renovated old brick townhouse on Cypress St. in the summer of 2001, excited about everything and anything that she came across. Little Amity Park was a far cry from their old home in Chicago, but she was too young to notice any differences and was in love as soon as she realized the backyard had a rope swing.

Looking critically around the living room with crossed arms while her daughter ran around giggling at everything in the new house, Pamela Manson found herself to be rather unimpressed with the small-town architecture of it all. The base layout worked fine, but she was going to be adding different moldings, repainting the walls, the entire fireplace needed to be redone since it was absolutely hideous...she sighed.

"Remind me again why we decided to move here instead of that lovely central gabled house farther out of town, Jeremy."

"Because it's much closer to Sammy-girl's school and we didn't want her to feel like a sore thumb when compared to her new friends, love." Her husband said into her ear while hugging her from behind, laying a light kiss at the top of her head before leaving to chase after their wayward child.

"Welcome to small-town living, I suppose." Pamela said to herself with a wry smile before turning around and following the rest of her family out the front door.


The first few weeks of life in Amity Park for Sam were an endless parade of interesting people and events, and she delighted in all of them. While Pamela spent most of her time at the townhouse overseeing the renovations and consulting with their interior designer Jeremy and his daughter were free to visit all of the local landmarks and do as they pleased. The zoo, the parks, the river beach on the other side of town, even the school Sam would be attending as soon as classes started in the fall were all thoroughly investigated by the pair while they enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the Minnesotan town. The father and daughter could only play Lewis and Clark for so long though, and soon enough the house was done and Sam's first day at Liberty Elementary School was about to begin.

Teary eyed and sniffling surreptitiously, Pamela kissed her daughter on the head and hugged her tight before helping her into her purple backpack and shooing her off to join the other six year-olds as they made their way to class on the sunny August afternoon. It was nearly September and the the weather had been turning cold but summer seemed to be giving the children a last hurrah has warm breezes and a cloudless sky welcomed them to the school year. Joining with the rest of the kids as they filed up in line and were led into the building by the sweetly smiling teacher, Sam couldn't help but twist around to wave one last time at her parents while they sat in the car watching her, seeing their encouraging smiles before the doors closed behind her and she stepped into the beginning of her academic career.

First grade was a new, exciting, and slightly terrifying experience for Sam, who had never spent so much time away from her parents or home. Back in Chicago she'd received private tutelage for preschool, and even when both of her parents were away working and she was with a nanny she still had the comforts of home around her. Looking at the small sea of children around her with trepidation, she held on to her backpack tight and stuck her chin out. She wasn't gonna be afraid of this, her mommy and daddy said everyone did it and she would be fine.

As the teacher called out their names to take attendance she showed them which desks and cubby holes were theirs, making sure everyone knew not to take their classmate's belongings or seats. As the first lesson began and they started to spell their names on the papers in front of them, she glanced at the boy next to her and stuck out her hand.

"Hi, I'm Sam." The blond boy smiled and shook her hand excitedly.

"I'm David! But everyone calls me Dash." He frowned for a moment and looked down at his paper, "I don't know which one I have to write." Sam thought for a moment before raising her hand and waving the teacher over.

"Mrs. Fisher, what names are we 'posed to write? I have two." Mrs. Fisher smiled and knelt down,

"We can practice writing nicknames later, but today is all about writing your first and last names." She pointed to the laminated names taped to the top of every desk, "See? Yours is Samantha Elizabeth Manson," She pointed to Dash's, "And his is David Asher Baker. You don't have to do the middle parts, just the first one and the last one, okay?" When Sam nodded she stood and went to help another student, glancing back to see Dash carefully writing on his paper while Sam read the letters for him to write one by one. Kids were always so sweet at this age.


Tuesday September 11, 2001 marked a turning point in the life of people around the world. Having been on a short vacation to New York for a the celebration of her grandparents' anniversary, the news of the attack was frightening and unexpected. Feeling the chaos surrounding her and seeing the fear etched into the faces of the adults, something in Samantha Elizabeth Manson changed. Like a switch being flicked on, suddenly the world was too bright, too loud, too full of emotion, so her mind did the only thing it could to alleviate the stress and turned off.

For two days Sam was dead to the world, her small body unable to handle the stress of a new sense while the world reeled in shock. Having been whisked out of New York as fast as physically possible, her parents admitted her into the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and prayed to every deity they knew of to keep their daughter safe and healthy. Upon waking, Sam was showered with teary kisses and joyous sobs from the elder Mansons while doctors informed them that there were no physical reasons for the time she spend unconscious and that it was most likely induced by the stress of the attack. Although there had been a strange MRI result, it was still within the range of normal and had been looked over but ultimately dismissed, which meant that the Mansons found themselves discharging and being driven home as the airports were still closed and air travel had been halted. Sam endured being fussed over for the next two weeks while her parents kept vigilant watch over her, worried she would spontaneously fall back unconscious, staying unusually quiet for such a headstrong girl. Seeing and feeling her parents' worry, the girl kept her newfound sensitivity to the world around her a secret, letting them relax and go on with their lives while she figured out how to deal with the unusual occurrences beginning to happen around her.

The weeks after her hospitalization were riddled with nightmares and a sudden fear of shapes in the dark, which her parents and a child psychologist attributed to PTSD from the attacks in New York. So when Sam ended up with an imaginary friend and the nightmares began to fade, no one thought anything was strange about it.


There was a girl.

She was small, and weak, and so pathetically human he would have missed her completely had her eyes not shone like beacons in the misty, grayscale world he resided in. Humans didn't show up in this plane, they didn't have the energy or the necessary senses to even register as a blip on the radar of the inhabitants, so when the glowing purple eyes showed up near him he couldn't help but be curious. She was nothing more than a shadowy gray form, the only defining characteristics he could make note of were her eyes and the taste of fear that wafted around her wherever she went, trailing after her like smoke. She was...interesting. He began to follow after her, his presence frightening away the lesser beings that had been feeding off of her as he did so.

What was a human doing here? How had she tapped into their shadow realm, and more importantly, how did she stay there, present on both planes at once? Occasionally a human showed up for a few moments as they passed on, but otherwise they were hidden from view. It was an anomaly, and for someone with all the time in the world on their hands and nothing to do he found himself searching for answers.


Everyone thought the monsters that plagued young Sam were all in her head, and to an extent they were, but only because no one else was capable of sensing them in any way shape or form. She saw shadows with glowing eyes everywhere she went, some passing her by and others circling her and tormenting her for lengthy periods of time. She heard voices, everything from whispers she could barely discern to hoarse screams and angry shrieks that froze her in her tracks. During the day they were less prominent, but it seemed that the night strengthened them, occasionally letting a few gain enough strength to touch her, letting her feel the cold fingers of the dead on her face and arms.

She had been unable to sleep, plagued by these creatures day and night, seeing all manner of hideous things. Her school sent home the dark drawings she made in class, worried that something was happening at home, and her parents did their best to take her mind off of the memories of the falling towers and explosions that they thought were haunting her.

Everything changed the day she saw the blue-eyed, black haired boy in the red and white windbreaker. He looked to be about fourteen, which was practically an adult in the six year old's mind, and when he appeared the rest of the specters that pursued her seemed to vanish. Unlike the shadows that had previously stalked her, he was clearly human looking, although he seemed washed out and transparent.

"Who are you?" Came a whispery voice in her mind, and when she finally looked him in the eyes she could see he was just as confused as she was, albeit more composed.

"What are you?" She countered, sniffling and wiping at her eyes, having been dealing with a particularly unpleasant monstrosity before he came along. He crouched in front of her, the edges of his body beginning to blur.

"What I am doesn't matter." He glanced around them, "Can you see the rest of them?" His eyes narrowed thoughtfully, "Can you hear them?"

"Yes," She said quietly, "All the time. Why?"

"That is something I'd like to know too." Sam's bottom lip trembled,

"But how come they don't go away, my mommy and daddy said that monsters aren't real!"

"Oh they're as real as you or me," The boy laughed, standing up, "You're just unlucky enough to be able to notice. They'd probably leave you alone if your eyes weren't so bright and you didn't taste so scared all the time." He inhaled deeply and sighed, rocking back on his heels, "Fear has this...addictive quality. We can't get enough." When he looked down and saw her confusion he rolled his eyes. "It's like...candy. We want to keep eating and eating and eating. I'm strong enough that I don't want it like some of the rest do, but it's still a treat. Why are you so scared anyways? It's not like they can do anything to you."

"Yes they can!" Sam said angrily, "They grab my face and hands at night! They're all cold and icky!" The boy's eye widened and he took a step back.

"What?" Upset and thinking he didn't believe her, Sam stepped forward and pushed him.

"They can! You're stupid! I hope they get you too!" He didn't move much when she pushed him, but when she turned around and tried to leave his hand shot out and grabbed her, which seemed to surprise them both. Sam, unused to more than casual brushes of cold against her skin was confused when she felt his grip on her, as solid as if one of her friends had done it. He let go slowly, letting her slip away while he stared at his hand.

"What's your name, girl?" When he realized she'd run off he scowled, annoyed that his new toy was gone. Concentrating, he closed his eyes, letting the energy build up before he opened them. Bright, neon green iris' stared out, seeing the real world for the first time in many years. He took a step forward and let his hand, now glowing with the same green energy, grab a drawing off the bedroom wall, reading the scribbled name on it as he did so. "Hello there, Samantha Manson. I think we'll be seeing quite a lot of each other."

The image isn't mine I just edited it, I'm not sure who the original artist is but if anyone finds out I'd love to credit them! As usual, I'd love a review and a well meaning criticism about the chapter to help me improve, you guys are the best.