FLASHBACK: (12 years ago)
Ayla was visiting her grandparents for the first time after they moved into this town. She had recently celebrated her twelfth birthday.
She was forced to visit her grandparents home this time 'alone'. She, being a City slicker (According to the girls whom she met in the town), felt a little bored in this town.
She came to visit her grandparents during summer vacation. Her sister Sarah was four years elder to her.
She got the permission from their parents to go globetrotting with her friends. Hump… Ayla was so jealous of her sister.
When will she be able to travel like that? She so… wanted to have so many friends and jet off with them. How nice it would be? But…
She was happy to spend some time with her grandparents. The only thing she complains about is that there were no friends for her in this town.
Ayla was taking a walk in the morning when she came across three girls. There was one girl who was looked so beautiful among them that Ayla can't take her eyes off her.
One of the remaining two girls was also good looking but the last girl looked…..mean. Ayla instantly disliked her.
"Eliza… stop supporting Arya... she can't participate in our bike race. I don't accept her as our friend. She is new here. Who knows what type of a person she is?" the mean looking girl looked at the better looking girl and complained.
"Ruby... please don't say that about Arya. Though she is new here, she is really good. I believe that she will become our good friend." The better looking girl gently looked at the beautiful girl and smiled.
"Hellooo.... guys!! I am Ayla... I am kind of new here… Can I join you as well?" Ayla joined them uninvited and smiled at everyone.
One look at her and anyone would know that Ayla was a cheerful person. She was not really shy. Nobody would dislike her; she has that kind of charm.
The beautiful girl also smiled a little and introduced herself.
"Hello... I am Arya." She showed the better looking girl and then the mean looking girl and introduced them as Eliza and Ruby.., whose names Ayla already knew from the earlier conversation.
Eliza smiled at Ayla while Ruby scoffed, "Here comes another city slicker!! What is it? Why does everyone want to be friends with us? You want some entertainment while you live here. Don't you?"
Ruby began jeering at Ayla. Eliza held Ruby's hand while Arya furrowed her brows.
Clearly this was not necessary. They could all be friends. Then why was this girl called Ruby so persistent in making things ugly?
Ayla smiled at Ruby and retorted, "You clearly want to be one as well but….. You can't! Is that why you are jealous of us?"
She was about to fire up but was cut off by Ayla, "If you are so proud of yourself why don't we compete in biking? Starting from the church we should reach the entrance of Chatfield state park and then return to the church.
The one who wins shall be the leader and the others will listen to her orders throughout the summer break. What do you say?"
Ruby looked hesitant but then scoffed. She agreed instantly. She was born and raised there. If she can't win then who can?
That evening… the race began. Ruby biked with vigor. She wanted to win at all costs. After two whole hours Ruby reached the state park but...… there was no one behind her.
That was when she observed that something was off. She was exhausted but she still had to reach home. She didn't even have time to rest because it was already five in the evening.
If she doesn't hit the road immediately she might be stuck on the road in dark. She didn't understand why no one was coming even though it was already so late.
Does that mean she is the winner of this competition? Or did they take another route? But that was not possible. There is only one route for bikers.
While Ruby was perplexed, Ayla took her two newly made friends for an ice-cream treat. Ayla laughed evilly imagining Ruby's face when she knew that she was the only one having a race.
She laughed loudly when she thought about it. Eliza looked on worriedly while Arya was nonchalant.
They all started biking along with Ruby but they planned to stop after sometime and come back without Ruby notice them missing.
Arya didn't care about any 'Ruby'. As long as she has someone to spend some time with, she was indifferent about others.
"Maybe we shouldn't have done that! At least I should have gone with her." Eliza was reluctant at first when she heard Ayla's plan. But these two or rather Ayla forced her to agree.
"Leave worrying about her. You are such a worrywart! Now is the time for celebration!! We should celebrate our friendship. Hope we all remain best friends in the decades to come."
Ayla dragged them both and ordered their favorite ice creams.
< FLASHBACK ENDS>
When Eliza's accident happened Ayla was not in Mancos. She was with her parents in Chicago. Ayla couldn't do anything to take away the guilt from Arya's heart even after so many years.
Ayla only visited her grandparents in Mancos. After the summer vacation she left the town. Though she couldn't be with them all the time, they were still best friends.
Whereas.., Arya lived in Mancos, after she moved in that year. Arya was different from her. Arya became dependent on Eliza emotionally.
Ayla was a very practical person. She was easy to get along with but… she wouldn't make friends so easily. Even if she did make friends, she would not trust them unconditionally, unlike…Arya.
Ayla didn't know why but she preferred Arya to Eliza as her best friend.
When Eliza's accident happened Ayla literally ran to Arya. Because she knew just how important was Eliza to Arya. She knew that Arya would be broken down without Eliza.
But nothing she did, cheered up Arya. Arya was always burdened by guilt. She always felt lonely.
When three years ago Arya got a clue that Eliza was probably alive, that was when Ayla happened to see new enthusiasm in Arya's eyes.
Ayla promised herself to help Arya in every possible way to find Eliza. So they both together, tried to dig up everything related to that incident.
Three years ago they found a crucial clue which opened a path to new finding.
And that was related to the 'society'. But on that night, when they were investigating they witnessed something that chilled both their hearts.
"Ruby was killed!!!"