Thank you for coming back. Your faith in my sanity is all I have right now. I've been looking forward to writing again since the last update, but I just haven't been able to collect my thoughts until now.
Today, if I can make it through the story, I want to discuss my friend, Mike Scola. He was just about the only person I was close to in high school, and I've never shared this with anyone for fear of what could happen to me. I believe Mike Scola was murdered here in Pale Forest.
Mike was the son of a paper mill worker like I was, but he was far more outgoing. It was strange that we would be friends, but he said he enjoyed the peculiar way I viewed the world. I was cold towards him at first, but as a teenager I quickly discovered that even I needed someone to talk to occasionally.
We didn't really hang out much, to be honest. He was generally busy with sports or his girlfriend, but we sat at the same table at lunch and would occasionally go to the Fun Lanes. Not many of the teenagers in Pale Forest were interested in bowling, so that was really the only thing we had in common. We'd have a good time there, though, as we were both pretty good (he was slightly better) and the owner would occasionally give us beer even through we were only seventeen. It was generally on the nights when we had alcohol that we'd talk openly. I would complain about politics and other topics too mature for my age, and Mike was content to listen and laugh. He didn't seem to worry about anything, unlike me, which probably made him healthy for me to be around.
I remember that his attitude changed towards the middle of our senior year. He suddenly became jittery and easily angered, as if something was constantly bothering him. I asked him on more than one occasion what was the matter, but he declined to say. I later found out that his father was having a hard time at the mill and was coming home drunk and violent and assumed this was the root of the problem.
Eventually Mike's dad lost his job for some reason that was never explained to me. One Saturday night in February, Mike told me he'd be moving. This would be our last bowling trip. I was sad but not devastated. He also apologized for being so moody and then confided in me in a way he never had before.
His new attitude was not, as it turned out, a result of his father's work problems, but instead was owed to him hardly sleeping for weeks. He had been having a reoccurring nightmare for the past several months and it was destroying him. I remember nonchalantly asking what his dreams were about and then instantly regretting it. Mike, though somewhat embarrassed, told me that they always involved being chased by a human sized monster, though he never saw its face. What was always present, however, were its long, thin arms that seemed to be reaching for him as he ran. He was aware that it meant to do him harm, though it had never caught him. He added that the creature did seem to be getting closer with each dream. I remember he shivered several times as he spoke about the thing that "came to him in his sleep". Mike told me he hadn't mentioned the nightmares to anyone else because he was afraid of what people would think if they knew he was having them. High school is a rough place, after all.
We didn't bowl very well that night.
I never told Mike about my own experiences with what sounded like his monster. I wish I had. Three days later Mike disappeared from his bed. It was the night before his family was to move.
The police made a cursory look into the whole thing, but the teachers and students at Pale Forest High School (we still had three schools back then) couldn't wait to point out how angry Mike had been over the past few months. He was eventually ruled a runaway.
When they came to speak to me, I didn't say anything about the dreams. Why would I? I didn't understand, nor did I want to tarnish his memory any more than necessary. I still get sad thinking about Mike, though. And I hope I'm wrong about what happened to him.
I also hope it doesn't happen to me.
Until next time...