VOLUME ONE: TRANSFORMATION
"We really should do something fun while you are all in town," Drew Peterson exclaimed as she plopped herself down on a giant pink bean bag chair near the window in Cadence Findley's bedroom. The rest of her friends were strewn about the room already; Taylor Christianson and Sydney Cox on the bed, Jon Chancellor and Kash Donatello in the two small chairs across the room, Jack Cook slumped against the wall next to the chairs. How many times had they all crashed here during high school? Now that all of them except for Drew, the baby of the group, had graduated from high school and gone on with their lives, these times were much rarer, and it had occurred to Cadence more than once that evening that this may be the last time she had her gang all together.
While her friends continued their idle chatter, Cadence sat in front of her computer screen, trying to finish the last two pages of her English paper. Professor Martin was such a jerk for giving them homework over Thanksgiving break! If she could just get this done, she would finally be able to enjoy her friends' company, rather than haphazardly chiming in from time to time and occasionally shooting annoying glances in their direction when they got a little overzealous in their enjoyment of a week free from school.
The group was a bit of an eclectic collection of personalities. Cadence was never quite sure what the glue was that kept them together, though Taylor insisted that Cadence was the glue. She didn't think so. With her long brown hair, large brown eyes, and perfectly proportioned facial features, she had been fairly popular in high school. Yet, she had always felt there was something different about herself, like she never quite fit in with the rest of the kids in school. She had participated in extracurricular activities, like cheerleading and choir. She had attended the dances and pretended to care about what others thought of her hair and her clothes. But at the end of the day, she always felt that the worries of high school were nothing compared to the "real" world. When she graduated last May, there was no question she was going away to college. She would have liked to have gone even farther than the University of Iowa in Iowa City, but they offered her a pretty nice scholarship, and she took it. And it wasn't so far away that she couldn't drive back to her hometown of Shenandoah for holidays such as this.
None of her friends had gone with her. In fact, she and Jack had broken off their two-year long relationship because he did not want her to go. He had already signed on to play baseball for the Nebraska Cornhuskers a pretty big deal and was hoping that he would show up "big man on campus" with his pretty little lady on his arm. But Cadence had other plans for her life, and his insistence that she follow him to Lincoln had ended their relationship, though they had somehow managed to remain friends, something that Cadence was thankful for.
The rest of the group had scattered to other institutes of higher learning, with the exception of Jon who went to work for his father's plumbing company for a bit, hoping to save some money before starting college. And Drew was a senior in high school this year. She had been on the cheerleading squad with the other girls, and though her peppiness was often annoying, she had wedged her way into their group via a short-lived relationship with Kash.
"Cadence, did you hear me?" Drew's chipper voice called from the corner. Cadence had been so preoccupied with finishing her assignment she had no idea what the rest of the group was talking about. "I said, 'Have you ever heard of an Eidolon Festival?'"
Temporarily pulling her eyes away from the computer screen, Cadence turned to address the spunky little blonde. "A what?"
"That's exactly what I just said!" Jack chuckled from his slumped position on the floor.
"It's so cool!" Drew said, bounding up from the floor and crossing to where Cadence sat in front of the computer. "I saw a flyer the other day at this gas station. We've got to check it out!"
"Because a gas station is where I always go to meet my entertainment needs," Jon mumbled sarcastically as Drew shoved her way between Cadence and the computer.
"What are you doing?" Cadence asked, watching helplessly as Drew grabbed the mouse out of her hand and opened up Chrome.
"Okay, so, Miss English Teacher," she said, referring to Cadence's career ambitions, "what does eidolon mean?"
Cadence thought for a moment. She knew she had heard the word before, but she wasn't precisely sure she knew the correct definition. In fact, she would be surprised if Drew knew. She wasn't exactly known for her broad vocabulary.
Taylor was standing behind her chair now, a purple pillow pressed against her chest. "It sounds like a place lazy people go to drink wine if you ask me!"
Drew snorted and rolled her eyes. "It's eye-dol-in not idle-wine!" she exclaimed.
"Isn't it like a ghost or something?" Cadence asked. Drew was frantically searching Google, trying to find more information than what was printed on the flyer from the gas station.
"I've never heard of it before," Kash remarked, "But if it's a party, you can count me in."
"A party about ghosts?" Sydney asked. She was still sitting on the bed but was no longer reclining. She strained her neck to peer across the short distance to Cadence's computer screen.
"It just means a specter or a phantom," Drew proclaimed. "I know, I looked it up on Dictionary.com."
"And that makes you an expert!" Jon added in his typical sarcastic tone.
"I'm not an expert," Drew responded as she continued various searches containing the words "eidolon" and "festival" and "Iowa." "But I would like to be!"
"Well, what did the flyer say?" Taylor asked.
Drew continued to search, now adding the word "secret" into her search criteria. "It was kind of cryptic, for a flyer. It just said something like 'Eidolon gather, Percy's Lot, Villisca, witching hour, November 26th.' I probably wouldn't have even noticed it if I hadn't dropped my keys."
The rest of her friends exchanged questioning glances, but Drew didn't seem to notice. She continued to search as the others drew straws nonverbally to determine who got to ask exactly what Drew meant. Finally, Jon exclaimed, "Explain!"
Drew was used to having to explain herself. She was a bit ditsy at times most of the time. She sighed in frustration, "I was walking out of the gas station, and I dropped my keys. I bent down to pick them up, and I noticed a red scrap of paper sticking out from behind a trash can. It was bright red, so it caught my attention. So, I grabbed it and read it. And I had no idea what eidolon meant, but I knew that festival meant party! So, I tried to find out more info on my phone, but I couldn't find anything else out about it. I did find out that eidolon means phantom though, which sounds cool, so I think we should all go. It'll be totally creepy and fun!"
"So, for all you know, this is, like, a private party?" Taylor asked, confused.
"No, I don't think so. It's a festival, and it was a typed flyer, so it's not like someone just wrote a note and dropped it. They want people to go," Drew said a bit defensively.
"Then why don't they advertise it or at least have a website?" Sydney wanted to know.
Drew sighed, tossing the mouse away and crossing back to the bean bag chair. "Come on, guys!" she exclaimed. "All of you are off in college or working, and I'm here going to flippin' high school. I never get to have any fun! Would you please just go with me?"