I should've just stayed home from school today. I should've just listened. But no. I had to insist on the fact that I was feeling better. I had to go to school today, I said, besides, it's just a little cold. Nothing was seriously wrong.

Well, if things weren't wrong, they were going to be. If I'd known that, I would be at home, lying on the couch, wrapped up in blue sheets and the oddly fascinating blue quilt that my mother had made for me, watching old reruns of "The Price is Right". But no. I just had to go back to school today.

I could be eating hot soup. I could be recovering. But no. And see where it gets me? For once, I manage to persuade someone to do things my way, and it backfires on me.

But I guess I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, huh? Maybe I should start from the beginning, this morning. This cold, dark, rainy morning. That's where it all started: I woke up, and got ready for school, forcing myself to ignore my slightly congested nose. I drank some tea to soothe my throat, and was about to walk out the door.

"Just where do you think you're going?" my mother crossed her arms.

School, I told her.

"Oh, no. Not in this condition. You need to fully recover before I send you back to that germ-fest of a school."

"Moooom!" I fussed, "I'm fine! Besides, I'm 17. I'm a big girl. I can handle myself. If I felt sick, I'd be in bed. So obviously..."

"Bed. Now."

I sighed. Obviously this would be harder than I thought. "Mother," I began slowly, "Today Mr. Long of Arcadia University is coming to talk to our school for a lecture. I really want to be there. Besides, I'm considering going to Arcadia. And if I feel sick, I'll come straight home. I promise."

She was starting to give. So I gave the final blow. "After all, it's for academic purposes. And I'm fine...did I mention the academics?"

She smiled. Score! "Alright, fine. But if you feel even a little sick, even a tiny bit, you come home."

"Okay, mom," I'd told her with agitation.

"Young lady…" she warned.

I quickly left. And of course, it was raining. As if it's not cold and dark enough at 6:30 in the morning. With this storm, it was pitch black. It was pouring. And I mean pouring. And thundering on top of that. And of course, I walk to school. And I forgot my umbrella. I sighed. I just had to go to school today, I thought, mentally kicking myself in the mouth.

But there was no way I would reenter my house. My mom might change her mind. So I pulled my coat tightly around me, and pressed forward. The only light was from the streetlamps, and the pouring rain only helped to impede my vision. But it didn't matter. I only cared about making it to school. As long as that happened, things would be fine.

After a good ten minutes of walking, my mind started playing tricks on me. I heard footsteps behind me. I quickly whipped my head back to catch a glimpse of whoever it was, hoping it was my friend Amy trying to play a trick on me. No one. I shook my head and kept walking, determining that it must simply be the sound of my own footsteps, splashing through the lake of a sidewalk. But now I heard a metallic sound, something hitting water. I spun around with a gasp, feeling truly nervous now. No one. As I turned back around, my foot kicked something forward. My house keys. I forced myself to chuckle, to laugh it off. Laughter is the best medicine for anything, including paranoia, right? I picked up my keys and began walking again, this time at a faster pace. The sound of the rain hitting the ground only made me a bit more nervous, however. Now I couldn't hear anything, not above the rain. It thundered quietly. I started humming to sooth my frazzled nerves. Within a few minutes, I'd reach the school. I could get out of my wet coat, let my hair dry, and laugh with my friends. And after school -- even if it'd be raining -- it'd be much lighter outside, and I would walk home-- safely.

I smiled at the thought, and forced happy thoughts upon myself. I was finally going back to school after being holed up in my house with the flu for the past week. It'd be nice to see my friends again.

I don't know who I thought I was fooling. I certainly wasn't fooling myself. I was nervous like never before. The only thing on my mind was getting to the school safely. I quickened my pace to a power walk.

And then that stupid cat screwed me over.

Our neighbor, Mr. DeBold, was a snooty thirty year old who's claim to fame was writing scripts for soap operas --scripts that were always rejected. He referred to himself as an "Ar-teest", and always had to be right about anything to do with the fine arts. He walked around wearing this black beret, and a black scarf. If he was ever offended, he'd turn his back with a "humph! Well!" and toss one arm of the scarf over his neck in an attempt to his the person in the face before stalking away. And if this doesn't already make him annoying, he had a dumb cat, Fiona, who really took the cake. She was always getting out of Mr. DeBold's house, ruining people's gardens, and using people that Mr. DeBold didn't like as her personal scratching posts. Mr. Debold would simply say, "She's expressing herself artistically, to the best of her ability. But then, I wouldn't expect you to understand it, being an imbecile to the fine arts."

But right now, dumb little Fiona was being artistic by pouncing on my feet, and playing with my shoe laces. And as cute as the annoying snob is, I had no time for this. I picked her up, and she swiped at my face. I managed to hold her back before I ended up with a few stripes crossing my face. I walked to the nearest lawn, and put her down. Fiona sat and mewed. I simply sighed. I had no time for this. Why was she out in the rain, anyway? Cats hate water! She truly is an idiot. And being the idiot that she is, she continued mewing. What was she mewing at? I shook my head. Whatever. I had to get to school.

I turned around to get back on the sidewalk, and out of the muddy grass. But instead, I came face to face with a huge black shadow. And things went black.

Yeah. I had to go to school today.