“So you’ve never heard of Blackhollow Cove?” The girl asked.
Nathan shook his head, readjusting the strap of his backpack. They were standing at the bus stop waiting for the school bus, just the normal bunch of teenagers. Nathan had moved to the neighborhood some three months ago and had acclimated quickly, but was still finding new things out about the small town every day.
The girl, Lacey, had dirty blonde hair and misty blue eyes. She frowned at Nathan before continuing. “I’m surprised, it’s one of the local hangouts for college kids around Halloween.”
“And seeing as I’m still in High School with you I would know this how…?” Nathan asked.
“I just keep forgetting you’re not from around here and that all of this is new to you,” Lacey said. “Look, Blackhollow Cove is a place where some bad things happened. It’s on an island about a mile off from the coast; there’s a cave where a shrine has been built, it’s crazy!”
“Uh-huh… and why would I want to see this again?” Nathan asked, dreading the sound of the place with each passing moment.
“Because your dad has a boat and the guys want to head out there for the first time to see it for ourselves,” Lacey explained. She twirled a lock of hair around one finger and pouted. “Think you could give us a lift?”
Nathan laughed. “Hell no. No way am I going out to some spooky-ass island with some kids I barely know.”
“You know John and Kevin…” Lacey said, earning a snort from Nathan.
“The two stoners from English? Yeah, like I’d trust them with my life,” Nathan said, turning to stare out across the asphalt once more.
Lacey’s voice became a wheedling plead. “Come on, it’ll be fun! Eric, the quarterback, he’s coming as well and he’s going to bring the beer.”
“So what, we’re just going to head out to this freaky island and drink all day?” Nathan asked, looking at Lacey incredulously.
“All night,” she corrected. “We have to go at night if we want to see any of the ghosts.”
“Yeah,” Lacey said as if Nathan were slow, “why else would we want to go if not to see some real ghosts?”
“Yeah, I’m drawing the line in the sand here: no ghosts,” Nathan said.
“Come on, aren’t you the least bit curious? Have you ever seen one before?” Lacey asked, leaning closer to him.
“No, I don’t really buy into all of that afterlife nonsense,” Nathan quipped.
“So why are you worried?” Lacey asked.
“Just because I don’t believe in it doesn’t mean I’m going to test my luck by dancing around in haunted coves,” Nathan replied. “You’ll learn you live a longer, healthier life if you don’t tempt fate.”
“So you believe in fate, but not ghosts,” Lacey teased.
“A figure of speech,” Nathan snapped. “Now hush up about this, I’m not taking you and your friends out to the haunted cove to drink and party. That sounds like the set up for some horrible horror movie!”
“Fine, what if I offer you a hundred bucks to take us out there and back?” Lacey said, her tone growing frazzled as she spoke.
Nathan stared at Lacey for a second before clearing his throat. “A hundred dollars? Just to ferry you and your buddies to an island and back?”
“And party with us, of course.” Lacey threw her hair over her shoulders.
“I’m not a fan of beer,” Nathan replied.
“We’ll have tequila and rum as well,” Lacey helpfully supplied.
Nathan rolled his eyes. “Fine. For a hundred dollars, up front, I’ll take you and your friends to Blackhollow Cove for a night of debauchery. Happy?”
“Ecstatic!” Lacey squealed, hopping from foot to foot. She pulled out her cell phone and rapidly began texting someone, her eyes practically alight with mischief. “We’ll figure out a day and tell you when, okay?”
“Yeah, whatever. Just keep in mind that I’m not going to be getting wasted with rest of you,” Nathan said.
“Yeah, you say that now…” Lacey teased.
Their conversation was cut short by the school bus pulling up, the hiss of the hydraulic brakes cracking as the folding door slid open. Lacey and Nathan filed into the bus, taking a seat near the front. Lacey was still typing away on her cell phone, smiling gleefully as she did so. Nathan pulled a small leather-bound book from his back pocket and began writing in it, both of them adjusting when the school bus rolled off to a slow start.
As they neared school Lacey looked up from her phone and leaned over to whisper. “This Thursday,” she said.
“What? Why a Thursday? We have school the next day.” Nathan asked.
Lacey shrugged. “So we’ll skip. Wouldn’t be the first time.”
“For you maybe. If my parents find out I’m skipping class, they’ll kill me!” Nathan exclaimed.
“Hey, for a hundred bucks I expect a little bit more cooperation from you,” Lacey said.
Nathan ran a hand over his face. “Yeah, sure. Whatever, Thursday will be fine. Just have your and your posse meet me by the docks at five o’clock. I want to at least have the sunset as something to guide me by if I’m just sailing off into the Gulf.”
“The island is really easy to find so long as you’re looking for it,” Lacey said, earning a look from Nathan. She shrugged and smiled. “I heard an upperclassman say that in the bathroom a few weeks ago.”
“That just bodes well…” Nathan drawled, already regretting his decision to go along with this fools errand.