An excerpt from Winter Lakes
Hilarie shook in nervousness as the three boys sat in front of her at the library. She was so scared and confused by what she had found that now she didn’t how to share it. She explained that she had been made editor of The Abyss, and then she explained her idea and how Shayna Reed had tried to take her moment away from her. Her bitter aside received raised glances from the boys, so she got back on track.
“The point is, she was right. They don’t have the first four copies, but I decided to try and find the school paper at the time to see if they mentioned anything about it. Maybe the kids would’ve taken out an ad for people to submit right? So I found this.”
Hilarie pulled up on her laptop the image of the archived paper from the school library.
Students wishing to express themselves creatively now have a
new place to do it. Starting this year, Winter Lakes Prep has
introduced the first issue of a literary journal named The Abyss. It
was founded by a group of overachieving freshmen who were
surprised that they were the first ones to think of it.
“We expected the school to already have something like this,”
freshman, Andrew Monroe said. Monroe was elected by his friends
to be the magazine’s first editor on the basis that they felt he was the
most talented of the group. “I spend a lot of time writing,” Monroe
The co-editor is Lillian Kinkaid who explained why people were
drawn to the concept once they had introduced it to the school, “We
just want to be heard. So many of us have things in our lives that
inspire us, and many of us are just looking for ways to escape.” So is
this why the magazine was called The Abyss?
“Not at all,” member Timothy Aspen says with a laugh, “We had
a hard time coming up with a cool name for it, but we came up with
The Abyss because we came across a Nietzsche quote that we felt
applied to us.”
The members are encouraging all students to contribute to the
first issue, and you can drop off any copies of your work after school
at their drop off box in the administration building. They check the
box every Friday once school is over, and they don’t want to find an
“We know this school is full of creative people,” Monroe says,
“The most amazing part is that you may write something that
someone else needs to read. Sometimes people have ideas and
think they’re alone. That’s sort of how we all became friends. We all
thought we were too weird and too unique to ever fit in, but we found
each other and found that we had a lot in common and suddenly we
all became friends for life. All because we weren’t afraid to share our
creative works with each other.”
So get writing, and help Monroe and the rest of his staff make
the first year of The Abyss a memorable one.
“Okay,” Matthew said, “What does this have to do with anything?”
“I never would’ve guessed Lillian was part of something like that,” Adam said and Hilarie nodded in agreement.
“I was surprised too, which is why I went to find the yearbook for that year. I became so interested in learning more about her and her friends because it’s not at all what we know about her now.”
“I’m lost,” Sean said, “Who’s Lillian?”
“Derek’s mom,” Matthew and Adam both told him at once as Hilarie opened the yearbook she had pulled from the reference section. She slid it toward them.
The Abyss shared a page with the yearbook staff, and below the picture of a multitude of yearbook staffers, was a picture of eight students, posed as if they were lifelong friends with their arms around each other. There were four boys and four girls, and in the center were Andrew Monroe and Lillian Kinkaid.
“I can’t believe that’s Lillian,” Matthew said.
“Neither can I,” Adam said looking closer. “She was hot.”
Hilarie had had the same reaction when she had first seen the picture. She had seen Lillian Rochester at many country club events, and Hilarie had a hard time reconciling the lifeless, harrowed woman to the vibrant, happy young girl in the photo.
“If you notice,” Hiilarie pointed out, “Next to the picture they have a shot of the title page of the first issue.” The boys looked closer and Sean read it out loud.
“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. Friedrich Nietzsche.”
“They sound like a pretentious group,” Adam said.
“This is all interesting,” Matthew said, “But why is it important? What does it have to do with anything outside of your magazine?”
“Wait,” Sean said looking at the yearbook again, and Hilarie smiled knowing he had noticed the very thing that had freaked her out. “Robert Conner.”
“Yep,” Hilarie nodded with excitement and readjusted her glasses that had slid slightly down her nose. “Robert Conner was one of the kids of The Abyss.”
“Who?” Adam said.
Sean explained to them how Hilarie had seen the spirit of who they believed was Robert Conner at the playground, and Matthew waved his hands to get them to stop.
“No. You guys are crazy. You didn’t see a spirit of anybody.”
“Yes I did,” Hilarie said, “And it was Robert Conner.”
“Lillian has the dragon symbol on a jewelry box,” Sean said thinking out loud to himself. “He who fights with monsters. It has to be that they created the dragon symbol to signify the monsters in the quote. Just like they created this literary journal to signify the abyss.”
“Like I said,” Matthew said, “It was a prank. I knew it. Lillian’s group of friends probably went around defacing everything with this symbol they came up with thinking it was edgy or something.”
“Maybe it was pretentious promotion for their literary journal,” Adam pointed out and Hilarie suddenly liked Lillian and her group of friends that much more.
“Either way,” Matthew said, “That solves that. Now we don’t have to worry about those dragon symbols anymore. You guys with your crazy ghost stories.” Matthew laughed.
Hilarie knew there had to be more to it. “But then it doesn’t make sense,” she said before they could get up from the table to leave. “Why does Robert Conner want me to find them?”
“And by them, are we thinking it’s the other members of the group?” Sean said as he once again looked at the picture.
“We have to do it. We all felt connected to these symbols for a reason. Maybe it’s like his dying wish that all his friends be found.”
“Well we know where one is right?” Sean said looking at Adam and Matthew.
Both Adam and Matthew were silent and Hilarie wondered what was going through their minds. She wanted to go over to Lillian’s house right now and ask her everything she could about her group of friends. Maybe she could tell them everything they needed to know.
“Lillian is a very unstable person,” Adam finally said.
“And it’s probably because she was messing with crazy stuff like dragon symbols,” Matthew said getting up from the table. “Good luck to you guys with this whole thing, but now that I know it was just a prank, I’m done.”
“Yeah, I’m with Matthew,” Adam said getting up as well. “This whole thing seems to have a sensible explanation. I’m sure you guys will find it. We should get going.”
“I think I’m gonna hang out with Hilarie a bit more,” Sean said and Hilarie squeaked inside. Something about Sean’s receptivity to this whole adventure made her find Sean slightly more attractive than Adam. Only slightly.
After Adam and Matthew left, Sean looked at Hilarie and let out a deep breath. “This is heavy stuff, huh?”
“I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it all.”
Sean pulled out his laptop and looked around as it turned on. “What time do they close the school library?”
“Six. They leave it open for tutoring and study groups. Not that there would be any today, but they still leave it open.”
“Good. That gives us a couple of hours to start tracking down these kids, or, I guess they’d be adults now.”
Hilarie nodded and put in the first name in her search database.
“Then maybe after that we can get something to eat somewhere,” Sean said. “We’re going to be starving.”
Hilarie mentally did a backflip. “That sounds perfect.” She knew she had a goofy smile stuck to her face, but she didn’t care.