She wondered why no one respected her. I wondered how thick her skull must've been.

I don't like to think I'm a trouble magnet or that I tussle with the "higher authorities" too much, but I also can't shake the feeling that sometimes it's true; I do get in trouble and I do rub against a few "elders." It wasn't entirely my fault though, seeing as the only time I fought was when they wronged me, pissed me off, messed with a friend, were being stupid, crossed me on a bad day or…

Okay, so maybe I had some disciplinary issues. Even so, this situation was not a case of me losing whatever loose control I had over my temper.

Let me introduce my English teacher. The one spitting in my face as she screamed and ranted over something was Mrs. Morris; I had stopped listening halfway through her second long-winded run-on sentence, though I had a vague suspicion it was related to the… erm "belligerent attack" on her during class. Truth be told, I had raised my hand to tell her that she said "is" instead of "was" when giving a demonstration, but of course, my semi-sarcastic remark warped in her head so that a simple correction—rude as it was—transformed into attempting to debase her authority over the classroom. You'd think she'd have appreciated it when a student actively participated to enrich the learning experience.

Then again, the only times I ever did participate was to do just that; correct a mistake and piss her off.

Yeah, I'm at fault here. I never argued that, did I?

A glaze overcame my eyes as I listened—I use that word loosely—to the end of her lecture. I couldn't repeat half of what she said, but I did wonder if my brain was going to ooze out my ears sometime soon. Like I had hoped, Mrs. Morris got tired, lost her breath, then wrapped up her thousand word report on my behavior with a lame "you're lucky it's the last day of school" before shuffling off into the classroom and ordering me to stay out in the hall to wait for the bell. I obliged by leaning against the wall to stare up at the florescent lights, which glinted off the deep green of my irises to give my boredom a robotic appearance.

Only then did I let the whole incident sink in. More or less it was the inevitable ache my feet would be in if I stood around for too long. How much time till the bell rang again? Normally I'd be keen on the time, but the last few days of school were… relaxing almost. Brows creasing as a scowl formed, I pondered bitterly whether her car's shiny paint job would look good with some big dents and scratches. The last day of school… ruined because of the bitch. Didn't she know taking up other people's time was a douche thing to do?

I jumped when the bell broke through the silence of the halls. From empty as a ghost town to teeming with teens eager to escape this brick prison, I scanned the surroundings with thought. Honestly, I felt alienated at times, especially when watching the casual, almost ignorant lifestyles of my peers. My head lowered, curtains of brunette hair shifting to shield my face from any prying eyes.


I perked up when a familiar face weaved around the various bodies to poke her head in front of me. Exasperation filled me, and I had no hesitation in displaying that. My entire visage fell unimpressed, and a fist rested on my hip as I lifted my weight off the wall.

"What's with that attitude?" she asked, pouting. Her brows lifted in unison with her shoulders. "You got in trouble again with Mrs. What's-her-face again?"

Rolling my eyes, I turned and began walking towards the lunchroom. I had half a mind not to answer her or just lose her in the crowds inside the cafeteria; after all, that place was packed ninety percent of the time, and better yet, the entrance rested right down the hall. I heavily debated this choice, but in the end decided to answer her anyway. She'd just hunt me down later with a huffier attitude, so I'd still deal with the interrogation plus more annoyance.

"I corrected her," I answered. "You should know that already, Devonna. Weren't you sitting right there when she pulled me outta the room?"

"Psh. No need to get an attitude." She lifted her hand up to reveal my backpack in her grasp, so once I spotted it, she tossed it at me. "But yeah. She's a dumb broad if I ever met one. Why didn't ya just punch her out? It's the last day of school ya know, and..." A frown formed as she eyed the splatters of spit all over my shirt. "It's the least ya could a done to avenge your sexy lil shirt there."

"Why yes, Dee, I would love to spend several weeks in summer school for assaulting a teacher. Why didn't I think of it before?" I declared with false glee. Seeing the sarcasm went over Devonna's head, the girl puzzled by my statement, I rolled my eyes and huffed. "I have plenty of shirts, and loogies will wash out just fine. What is with you and spaghetti straps though? Is it a fetish?"

After receiving a glower from her, I found myself inside the cafeteria, so a relaxing sensation started to build… but sank back down since Devonna didn't want to let the topic go.

"It ain't a fetish! I just like the way it matches your cargo pants, especially since it's the only thing you wear consistently. You should get her back somehow. Maybe break something on her car. Window or headlight?" She took note of my waning attention span towards her. "Scratch the paint if you're feeling mellow. C'mon! Who'd know?"

"Aside from you, Miss I-can't-keep-my-mouth-shut?" I thought to myself. Regardless, I waved the ideas off when she continued, "I'm going straight home today."

"Oh come on! I know you don't care about clothes, but—"

Tuning out. Ah, that's much better. I smiled on reflex once Devonna's never-ending questionnaire stopped registering. Perhaps my day was not ruined after all. Lunchtime always gave a sort of break from the monotony of this routine, save for the days Devonna stalked me like she was. I blinked against the florescent lights and peeked over my shoulder; Dee was off with some other friend already.

Still, I felt happy. Nothing about me was hard to figure out, so someone like Dee, who'd I'd met only some years ago, knew as much as other friends who'd known me since early childhood. She understood that if I went to lengths to drop the conversation, I wanted to be left to myself.

That's when I spotted it. No more than a few feet away was a nearly empty table with a few lone trays of food left unattended. I grinned as I weaved around a few students to slide my butt onto the bench and pluck out a few crispy fries from the meals. As I reached for seconds, a plastic fork swatted at my hand to halt my advances, but the effort was all too late. I had pulled my hand away quick as a snake to flick the newly stolen fry into my mouth.

Another brunette plopped down next to me, her brown eyes narrowed, "Get yer own food for once, Emma."

I just smirked and waited for her to look away—an opportune moment to steal another piece of food, often without her noticing.

Still, that sort of pastime loses its fun quick, so I soon lost interest and kept myself busy by people-watching. Noisy, immature, looking at nothing but the present... I almost pitied the people around me. They hadn't a damned clue what they wanted in their future, nor did they have an inkling of care to think on it. The vast majority would go through these high school years without batting an eye, then graduate with no goal, catapulted into the real world with no direction.

I did not make useless noise as they did, as my own friends did; I did not fall back on my age to excuse my mistakes or simply blow it off like I'm some hot shot; I did not get stuck in the now. No… it all annoyed me. Noise was distracting, immaturity was limiting, and the present was overrated. I preferred the future over it, so I let my thoughts wander into oblivion quite a lot, sometimes daydreamed, or even thought about what kind of career I might like. Something with excitement, thrill, adventure!

My head tilted. What about romance? Dating was low on my priorities, but being single my entire life seemed a tad… lonely. What kind of guy would it be? Slim and feminine like those pretty boys most my friends liked? Tall and muscled like those actors Dee fawned over? A brow quirked at the superficial stereotypes I thought up. How about in between? What kind of personality? Warming and humorous or smart and mysterious?

Most important, how and when would I meet this person?

"—what do you think?"

I snapped out of a half-decent daydream when I heard Dee's voice break through. A few startled blinks later, I was staring at her with a blank look; more or less it was obvious I hadn't a clue what she wanted to know.

"You were talking to me?" I asked. More like, why was she over here? She didn't particularly like this group.

She huffed and folded her arms, "Emma! You're going to lose friends if you refuse to talk or listen to anyone!"

The lonely notion of being single my whole life resurfaced, plus the added idea of also having no friends to talk to.

I shrugged it off, resting a cheek on a fist, "And? At least it would be quieter."

"Ha! And yet you wanna go on some big adventure!" she mocked.

I could detect traces of bitterness, but I let it go. Irritated as it made me, Dee was the last person I wanted to pick a bone with. The turbulence it'd cause wouldn't be worth it since she had become renown for her talents in blackmail and spreading dirt, truth or lie. Seeing as I wasn't acknowledging her statement, she shook her head and left the table to go bother someone else.

The others at the table glanced between me and Dee, the brunette from before stating her concern over my friendship with Devonna, but after getting a few others agreeing to the same worries, I reassured them that I'd be okay and the topic dropped. Likewise, my mind drifted back to that daydream, the simple "fated meeting" with this perfect someone gradually changing into a perfect lifestyle with my dream job and a good home.

The bell concluded the end of lunch period and brought me back to planet earth. I sighed as I stood amidst the swarms of students. Perfect life… not going to happen. I hated my own brain for so many reality checks.

From building one to building two, I stepped out the back door of the cafeteria to reach the final class for the day before they'd send us home, and of course, I had all the luck in the world. Smack dab in the middle of my path was the wrestling team reject, towering a foot taller than me and displaying his thick muscles by wearing no shirt. From the cross look aimed at me, it took no brainpower to figure he had business with me.

Emotion drained from my own visage to create a stone-hard stare, keeping my eye on him as I attempted to move around, but he stepped in the way.

"Emma, right?"

I quirked a brow, "Yeah. What do ya want?"

"Yer slutty friend cheated on me with two guys. You needa beat some sense into her."

"I have a policy of not punching my 'slutty friends.'"

His eyes narrowed, "Well, she ain't listening to words."

"Then it's her own problem when no one wants to date her next year." I ducked around him to continue walking to the second building, now suspecting that Devonna was who he wanted to get. "If you want to break her nose so bad, do it yourself. Don't be a pussy and have others do your dirty work. Remember that next time you ask me to do any favors."


I figured he stalled at that word, so my attention focused on my path, taking notice that despite the promises from staff, they still hadn't fixed the rails leading up the stairs, so a pile of iron rods were piled to the side. What a waste of—

Before the thought finish, I felt my body jerk backwards and off my feet, only for a fist to slam straight into my gut. The pain from the blow was acute, and immediately I gagged, only to be thrown onto the pavement. At that point I could only roll over holding my stomach at the cheap shot, registering late how the wrestling reject stood next to me with a confident but nasty attitude.

"Remember that next time you decide to be a bitch," he retorted.

He turned to leave, but I had paused in getting up to digest these words, that last one hitting home. Fingers curling into the pavement, shoulders quivering, the lengths of my hair again fell forward to hide my true emotion. All at once, my chin rose in pride and anger as my hand grabbed the nearest railing rod tight in two fists.

He never noticed me rise, and I didn't need to charge—he was right there—so I swung with both arms. The only warning was my scream of anger before the metal made contact with the back of his knee and sent him tumbling to the ground. The second he cried out in pain, holding his leg, I shirked my backpack off and tapped the metal bar against my shoulder, kicking him hard.

"You cheap shot me, then call me a bitch? You think anyone would let you just walk away?" I questioned, voice harsh. "You wanna fight, asshole? Get up and do it right!"

"Fight you…?" he repeated, snarling up at me and finally rising to his feet to stare down at me with malice. "No, yer gunna be in the hospital before I finish with you, slut."

I grinned at the challenge, allowing my hostility to show and twist the grin into something darker, "Just try it."

"Hey! You two!"

The two of us snapped out of our battle masks to step back from each other and look towards the cafeteria door. A security guard was there, making her way over with a walkie-talkie to her mouth to call for some help just in case. I broke my stare with the lady when the guy rammed into my shoulder to walk past, regaining my full attention.

"This ain't over, bitch," he muttered.

I glared, but at that point he was hurrying off into the building to lose the security guard who had reached my side.

"Really, Emma? On the last day of school?" she commented with a disapproving frown. "Ugh, stay here while I get the other kid."

I frowned back at her as she chased after the "other kid." Usually she was the one to bring me out of Mrs. Morris's class and had a knack for finding fights before they escalated, so it was no surprise she knew me by name. Originally I had every intention to stay put until she returned, but after being alone for a few minutes, I was forced to review the events in my head until my rage simmered beneath my skin and nearly boiled over.

A glance around while I shrugged my backpack on showed no witnesses had gathered, so I began a swift gait towards the exit. However, only a few feet from leaving I spotted a familiar bright red sports car with a Mazda sign on its front; Mrs. Morris's car. Earlier I had been mellow and forgiving, and now I chucked the metal rod it at the windshield. It didn't break to pieces like normal glass, but a loud crack accompanied the spider-web shatter marks that formed.

I didn't wait anymore; I continued on towards my house. Screw Mrs. Morris, screw the security, screw that school was in session, and most of all, screw the goddamn rules! I'd repeat a year if I had to, but I was not putting up with those assholes getting pissed because I got pissed at a cheap shot and grabbed a weapon for a quick moment.

Finally, my quiet time came. Strolling down the sidewalk, my headphones blared music, which brought my temper back down to controllable levels. I wondered at times why I got angry so easily, but at the moment I had to wonder what the hell I was going to do if my actions got me expelled.

That's right. I was having second thoughts on that "screw them all" moment. Having my anger deflated made it easier to think logically, so I was able to feel regretful and more so embarrassed, but it became hard to focus on it. The music, along with the woodsy scenery aligning the road, distracted me from the less pleasant thoughts…

At least, until the batteries ran out. Seeing my Player had shut itself off, I groaned. I'd forgotten to charge it.

Although having no music lowered my spirits, it ended up a blessing in disguise because within the next few minutes an engine revved some distance behind me, drawing my attention. Cars always passed on occasion, so it wasn't a sound I thought strange until the revving got louder and more frequent. I turned my head to see what douche was trying to seem impressive by having a bad muffler, but instead was greeted with a banged up red Mazda that just as soon swerved off the road and aimed for me.

My initial paralysis lifted in an instant, and I dashed forward to escape, but when the car only adjusted its path to follow, I instead dove into the trees lining the road. In the same second my legs disappeared behind a trunk, the car hit the trees in a booming crash, the glass shattering and front crumpling up against the wood. I landed roughly on my front, not having the luck to roll so that I could avoid the stings and scrapes that'd mark my arms and face now. I didn't care though. As soon as I regained my senses, I scrambled to my feet and bolted from the scene.

Curious as I was though, I glanced over my shoulder. Lo and behold, the douche from before was crawling out the driver's door, all the more surprising to me since that was clearly Mrs. Morris's car. I almost got crushed between a fender and a tree, but hey, now they'd never know I shattered the windshield!

Okay, so maybe I was forcing some optimism out of this situation. The main problem was, after kicking the car a few times, Mr. Cheap Shot followed me into the trees. Like so, I didn't stop running for quite some time. Every so often I thought I lost him and he'd prove me wrong by popping up between the trees in the distance and send me bolting off through the trees again to avoid the encounter.

After hours of running with some small breaks, the sun was setting, I was tired and dehydrated, and it seemed the idiot had finally given up the chase. I could only manage a fatigued trudge at this point, so part of me thought it'd have been better to let myself get run over than run around exhausting myself when I could've gone to the hospital and…

Screw that, I should have pounded his head in with a rock.

Just as I began dwelling on the thought, exploring the various ways I could've caught him off guard before the head-meets-rock pounding, I spotted something through the trees. Initial ideas surrounded the possibility of having looped around to the school or happened across some hermit's house, though upon closer inspection, I found myself not at a school or house, but a giant stonewall and gate.

It stood tall in the air, probably high as the trees that surrounded the both of us, but it's impressive arching doorway and defensive walls were smoothed from time to leave no noticeable imprints or designs. Plus, those trees it reached up with were partially fused to its walls due to having grown too close. Curious though, that it held no moss or ivy to empower its ancient aura. Goosebumps rose on my arm, so I rubbed them down as I reexamined it. No, the lack of moss and ivy added a fair amount of mystery and eeriness to the atmosphere.

Admittedly, I was fairly intrigued by this unusual structure since I hadn't been informed of any relics or ruins around, so for now I pushed aside my fatigue to venture closer and allow my hands to feel around its weathered form. Curiosity got the best of me; I knocked hard—as hard as the stone would allow without bruising my knuckles—and awaited a response.

Surprise, surprise, no one answered. It didn't even do anything cool like open itself to allow entrance or have a disembodied voice greet me.

"Hello?" I called, sounding rather lame, now that I think about it.

A reasonable human being would turn back. I considered myself reasonable, so logically…

Who am I kidding? A normal human being would go "What the fuck is this doing here?" and investigate.

And so, with a mental declaration of "What the fuck is this doing here?" I pushed open one of the gate doors to investigate. I had put a lot of back into making that old thing move, but considering its massive size and that it seemed to be made of stone, I found it to be much lighter than anticipated. On the other hand, I only opened it up enough for me to squeeze through.

Once inside, I spotted nothing out of the ordinary. Grass grew everywhere and some rocks were scattered about, though one thing in particular did catch my eye.

It was one of the stones, but it had been placed smack dab in the middle of the grassy field and pointed towards the sky. Stepping up in front showed that it was inserted into the ground to sit perfectly upright, and it was the only stone that had white flecks mixed into the grayish color. Its shape reminded me of a crystal. Other than that, there was absolutely nothing fascinating about it. With the way the walls surrounded the area, seeming to be specifically centered around this stone slab, I figured it must have been some sort of grave.

If that was the case, I felt bad that I'd intruded like this, so I knelt down and put my hands together as if praying.

"Sorry 'bout the intrusion, stranger. Didn't think I'd be trampling on your resting pla…"

I trailed off when upon bowing my head, I spotted inscriptions at the bottom of the gravestone. The letters were tiny, but once I got on my stomach and let my chin rest on the ground, I could make it out. At least, I could make out the second line. The top one was in a language that I didn't recognize.

These are the grounds with which the gods call upon their messenger to collect the heirs of the heavens.

The incantation to summon all forth is thus spoken: Su'cra Shas'kar.

A brow lifted after reading it, but again, I was too curious to resist. I glanced around to double-check my surroundings, then looked to the inscriptions again.

"Su'cra Shas'kar."