A/N: It's about time I made my comeback, and what better way to do it then to dedicate this first chapter to a very special person in my life. ^^ Here's to NewSuperFZeroBoyo, previously known as Cantdecideonaname. We've known each other for half a decade now, starting from FanFiction and a year later on DeviantART. Our bond has grown stronger ever since, especially these last 2 months when we decided to bring this friendship a larger step further. So, this first chapter is my contribution to your 4-Year Anniversary of being on DeviantART, Cody. I love you. :)
As for the story, this is a revisited first step for me to get back to what I used to do, but with a fresher start. I hope to not have any hiatuses anytime soon, and reviews from you guys would help boost me up to get things done a little quicker.
This story is a prequel to another major one I have planned, which I will hopefully drop a few hints of it soon.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this. :)
Chapter 1 ~ Prologue
Autumn came earlier to Blithe Hollow than anticipated.
The leaves still retained the last of their fresh green color, and the sky kept clear of murky gray clouds. But the gentile wind already grew colder, and it would've made Norman's hair stood completely on end... if it hadn't already been that way since he was born.
Norman didn't mind the chilly breeze though.
He had returned to his classes today, after spending three days home from school. He never realized that running from misunderstood zombies, getting yelled at by mindless mobs and confronting an angry ghost girl took more of a toll on him than he thought. Norman remembered his family ushering him into the car to get home, but he couldn't remember anything afterwards when he woke up in his bed and pajamas, looking out his window at the evening sunset in confusion. Then his sister, Courtney walked in, telling him how Mom found him passed out on the living room floor just after they got home. Norman felt terrible; imagining how frightened his mother must've been when she suddenly found her son had collapsed. Courtney had also told him to be careful with his left arm for a while. His parents discovered a bizarre, lightening-shaped scar on the far side of his chest, along with slight burns on his palm. Norman remembered his fight with Agatha Prenderghast, and sighed quietly, surprised that he never noticed the pain before. 'Too much adrenaline,' he thought.
The dismissal bell blared throughout the school, and a more confident Norman Babcock exited the building through the front doors within a few minutes. Narrowly avoided the rampaging crowd of kids, he clutched the straps of his backpack as everyone fled home while a few lagged behind to wait for their parents, or hang out by the school. On his first day back, Norman noticed that he didn't receive the usual snarky stares from anyone for the entire day, neither was he shoved to the ground or thrown against his locker. What he got was the opposite, earning a few smiles and hellos from passing-by students. Even Alvin showed some empathy towards Norman, the former offering the latter a seat to eat at Witchy Wieners, which Norman politely refused. As he turned right, past the stone wall of Blithe Hollow Middle School and walked the opposite direction from his house, he smiled contently to himself. For the first time in his life of being on Earth for eleven years, things were finally looking better for him.
A little nap next to Aggie's tree felt like a good way to end his first day to a new life. That, and a really good zombie movie before bedtime.
The walk from school to Knob Hill forest was a long one, but waving and nodding hellos to the fellow ghosts of the town helped pass the time. It gave Norman a moment to appreciate his life-long ability to communicate with the dead a little more, remembering his earlier days when he desperately wished for everyone to at least try understand or just leave him be. The feeling of being noticed, appreciated, and the fact of having real friends like Neil Downe, still felt foreign to him. But he was no less willing to embrace it.
Norman stepped into the forest, taking a straight path towards a familiar, gnarled tree that remained partially hidden by others from a distance. His mind was traced back to the memory of when Norman saw Aggie for one last time, before she rested her head against his shoulder to forever sleep. Norman would never forget the enchanting experience of seeing the rejuvenated forest, helping Aggie earn the peace she deserved since the beginning, and finally when her delicate form transformed into transparent streams of soft green, all flowing upwards and never wavering, before the forest disappears altogether too. It was also the first time he'd seen her true personality, an innocent and shy little girl with a special gift compared to her ghostly self, who once pulsed with violent electricity and terrifying rage. During the three days away from everything, Norman kept hoping she made it to that "paradise" his Grandma would sometimes mention. By now, he felt certain with hope that Aggie went back to her mother.
If only it were that simple.
Norman arrived at the tree, focused on squirming out of the straps as he removed his bag, letting it drop to the ground with a thud. He finally looked up expecting to see the old bark folding away from the tree, only to freeze entirely and widen his eyes in shock. A ghost stared back at him. Clenched hands dangled in front of her, dark brown hair hung around her little shoulders, and her lace-collared dress fluttered gently. The girl's expression barely held an ounce of relief when Norman turned to her. The boy frowned worryingly.
"A... Aggie?" Her name was the only word he could muster from his suddenly dry throat. Aggie's eyes lowered towards the ground, looking ever so lost.
"I'm... I-I'm sorry," Aggie whispered, and she brought her hands to her chest, as if to ease an old pain. Norman swallowed. "I don't know what happened... I can't find my mommy..." She lifted her eyes to Norman's, and he couldn't help but release a shuddered sigh. She looked so broken. The hope Norman held for her had by now, evaporated. Why was she still here? What could have gone wrong?
He found himself assuring and comforting Aggie, even though he held no clues or ideas in his head to how he would help her find her mother. Norman felt the urge to say it to his ancestor, and even the slightest amount of hope he gave to the girl was enough for him. But the questions remained; Why did this happen? How was he going to help her?
In the meantime, two-thousand, nine-hundred and twenty-eight miles from Massachusetts, someone would dramatically collapse onto her bed and cover her face in a pillow, before she emitted a muffled moan of frustration. She was in her bedroom trying out her new cellphone, when her mother whipped the door open with the happiest expression. It took a lot to excite her like this. Apparently her mother found the phone number of an old friend named Sandra Babcock, who she hadn't seen in years since losing contact after going their separate ways when graduating from high school.
Her mother then dropped the news that they were all heading for Massachusetts to Blithe Hollow, on December twenty-second to visit Sandra and her family for the holidays, and the New Year. The command took time to sink into her brain, but then she sat up from her bed and trudged over to her suitcase and pack early. She wasn't in the mood to be rushed by her mother again like back in Michigan before moving to Oregon.
A/N: My mother helped me a lot with the editing, and it's occurred to me of how rusty I've become with the detail. But, things should go soothingly from here. ;)