Prologue

Enter Pyromaniac, Stage Right

"What on earth are you doing?!" the woman screeched, her eyes wide.

"Um… nothing?" was the innocent reply. The teenage girl paused with her work, but didn't bother to look up. "The lighter's running low on starter fluid. I think we need a new one."

"Arren, I thought we talked about this… you can't use index card voodoo on everyone. It's… it's not normal."

"Normal people worry me. You should try it; it's a wonderful stress reliever."

A sigh escaped the older one's lips. "Arren…"

"I know, I know. I'm a freak, I get it. You don't need to continuously remind me, Taria."

"Don't say that! You're not a freak. But I don't see how this is helping you at all. You were suspended from school for doing this in the bathroom, remember? Maybe if I don't let you do it at home, you won't do it there."

"Actually, not doing it here will mean that I'll have to do it more often at school," Arren reasoned, holding the lighter beneath the index card that was ripped into the crude figure of a girl. Written in pencil on its chest was the name Julia Reynolds. The feet began to turn black and curl upwards in the heat of the flame. "And you're not my mother, you know. However much you like to act like it."

"Arren, stop it. It's not like you have anyone else to take care of you."

"Funny… I had a similar conversation with my wall this morning."

"You are impossible!" Throwing her hands up into the air, Taria stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her. "Just don't set off the fire alarm again!"

Humming quietly to herself, Arren put her full attention back to the burning of her index card version of Julia Reynolds. Once the entire thing was charred, she put it in a Dixie cup full of water and poked it unceremoniously until it bobbed up and down in the liquid, dousing all of the flames as it broke apart into small pieces.

"Even if the voices aren't real, they have some really good ideas…" she said happily to herself, padding softly over to the window. The dirty, badly made window opened surprisingly easily, considering the building Arren lived in. Once open, she dumped the cup's black contents outside.

"Arren!" an angry voice came from beneath her. "Why must you always dump the proof of your pyromaniac tendencies my head?!"

Allowing her mouth to curl into a small smile, Arren crumpled the Dixie cup in her hand and tossed that out of the window as well. An animalistic roar came from beneath her, and she giggled to herself as she closed her window.