I'm sure you've all heard all about the amazing and powerful Astonishing Man by now. Who hasn't? He's smart, strong, and utterly super-powered. Astonishing Man is part of this story, but he's really not what the story's about, so don't get too excited.

The story's about me. I enjoyed a brief tenure as a super-hero working under the name Lightning Girl. Don't be surprised if you've never heard of me; I never really did a whole lot. This story isn't really about my exploits as a superhero, either. That story is somewhat boring and inarguably embarrassing, although not as embarrassing as this story.

My name is Clevette. I know that's not a very common name; my mom's not a big fan of common names. She named my older brother Antonio, and my baby sister Kerianora, although we all call her Kerri. Don't ask me where she gets these names, I really don't know, either.

Anyway, nobody cares about my mom's infatuation with unusual names. My story begins on an ordinary school day, when Mom was driving Antonio and me to school. Once again, Antonio had gotten his car stuck in the swamp that is our back yard, and Mom had to drop us off at school an hour and a half early on her way to work.

I felt like I was going to fall asleep, and I doodled in my diary during the drive. Antonio, who didn't seem capable of behaving like an adult despite the fact that he was seventeen years old and was a junior in high school, poked me and pestered me for entertainment. I tried to ignore him, but he wouldn't have any of it.

"Leave me alone, fart-breath," I growled, unable to think of any more cutting insults.

"Ooo," Antonio breathed, latching onto my inability to better articulate my annoyance. "Fart-breath? Stop your ferocious tongue-lashing, shit-brains."

"Tony!" my mom gasped from the front seat. "Watch your language!"

Pleased to see my brother chastened, I stuck my tongue out at him. I knew it was immature, but he's always been able to bring out the worst in me. Antonio saw my gesture, and apparently took that as some sort of challenge.

"Whatcha' writing?" Antonio demanded, leaning over and peering into my diary. I wasn't actually writing anything, I'd just drawn a picture of a princess in a castle, but I certainly didn't want Antonio seeing my fantastic sketches.

"None of your business!" I declared, slapping the diary closed.

"Oh, something there you don't want me to see?" Antonio demanded. He began to mimic me badly in a stupid high-pitched voice. "'Dear diary,'" he pantomimed. "'I love Jim Westin so much. I just want to hold him and kiss him like this. Mwa mwa mwa."

Embarrassed that he'd picked up on my little crush on Jim, I felt the blood rush to my cheeks as I declared, "You die now, twerp."

I wasn't really sure what I intended to do, but I hoped I sounded threatening as I lurched forward toward him. Antonio laughed loudly until my mom slammed on the breaks.

Concerned that we were about to hit something, I looked forward, and saw that we were sitting in the middle of the school's empty parking lot. "That's enough!" my mom snapped. "If I hear one more word out of either one of you, you're both grounded for a month! No parties, no football games, and no dances. Understand?"

Sobered by the threat, Antonio and I both murmured half-hearted apologies. I took a small measure of consolation in the fact that school still wouldn't be starting until eight-thirty, and I'd have more than enough time to exact my revenge after my mom drove away.

As we approached the school in faux fraternity, however, all thoughts of the painful things I'd have liked to do to my brother were dispelled when I heard a strange rumbling noise coming from the west wing of the school.

Antonio and I looked to one another in confusion. A moment later, that entire segment of the school exploded. Even though we were far enough not to be hurt in the blast, a weird and inexplicably purple shockwave began to roil toward us.

And that's how everything started.