Corinne leapt in the air, knocking her friend Luke out of the way while catching the football spinning through the air.
"Hey!" Luke shouted, running after her into the end zone.
"Touchdown!" was the call from across the field from Brendan, who was running toward them.
Luke crossed his arms and looked at his other teammates, Nick and Ryan. "It's two against three, and they're beating us, you guys."
"And they have a girl on their team, too," scowled Nick.
Corinne heard the comment and faced him, her hands on her hips. "And what's wrong with that? Don't tell me you have a problem with it."
Nick glared at her, not saying a word. Luke stepped in, saying, "Come on, you guys, let's get back to the game."
"I'm leaving," said Corinne, coolly. "I'm not going to put up with this." She yanked her coat out of the pile of jackets and walked off without bothering to look back. Luke and Brendan exchanged uneasy glances as they watched her leave, but they didn't say anything as the game continued without Corinne.
"And then he's like, 'And they have a girl on their team, too', " complained Corinne to her mother.
"Well, I don't see why you play with them," her mother replied.
"Is there anyone else I can play with?" Corinne asked. "Of course not. God forbid there be any other girls in this neighborhood."
"There are girls in this neighborhood. You just don't want to get to know them," her mother pointed out.
"They're all ditzy snobs," Corinne replied angrily. "We've been through this at least a hundred times, mom. It's pointless."
Her mother sighed and stirred the spaghetti that she was making for dinner. "Corinne, Nick and Ryan are always going to be doing that, so it's either just play with Luke and Brendan, or don't play at all."
"And this is all because I'm a girl. Do you how irritating it is?"
"I have a pretty good idea. Get washed up, dinner's almost ready."
Corinne sighed. Her mother had quite obviously closed the subject, and so she grudgingly complied and went upstairs to change.
As she finished pulling on a clean pair of jeans, the phone rang, and she ran into her bedroom to answer it.
"Hey, Luke. What's up?" she asked, sitting on the bed.
"Not much. We lost the game."
"I don't want to hear about the game. You know I can't stand Nick and Ryan."
"They're jerks. Everyone knows it."
"So then why do you guys insist on playing football with them?" she asked.
"I don't know. Just because, I guess."
"Okay, whatever. Anyway, I have to eat dinner, so maybe I'll see you tomorrow."
"Bye." Corinne hung up the phone and walked downstairs, her previous good mood ruined.
That night, Corinne sat at the computer chatting online with some of her friends from school. The television was blaring in the background when her father came in and switched on the news.
"Hey!" she protested.
"You weren't watching it dear, and besides, I want to watch the news."
Corinne sighed and let him switch through the channels. She finally heard the station stay on the local news channel.
She listened to the reporter say something completely ridiculous about witches and laughed. Turning around to face the television, she said, "What kind of weirdo is that guy? Who's actually going to take him seriously?"
There were a bunch of pale faced women chanting in the background of the scene, and Corinne added, "They're only a few weeks early for Halloween anyway."
Her father switched off the television and said, "As stupid as it is, be a little more careful walking home from school. And go to bed, you have to get up early tomorrow."
After a little bit of complaining, Corinne said goodnight to her parents and headed up to her room.
Looking at the clock, she realized she still had about an hour before she actually had to get to bed. She weighed the options of going to bed early and actually being partially awake for her first period math class and calling her friend Eileen. After a few minutes of thinking, she picked up the phone and dialed Eileen's number.
It was an hour before she finally hung up and changed into her pajamas. She had talked about everything under the sun, including the white-faced "witches." They had laughed and entertained the idea of using that as a costume idea for a Halloween party. There wouldn't be any trick-or-treating this year; they were in their sophomore year of high school, and had outgrown that. Corinne was hoping to get together a Halloween party instead. She was mentally planning the guest list as she washed her face and brushed her teeth. Then she climbed into bed and turned off the light, falling asleep immediately.
Corinne carried a candle and walked down a dark corridor made of stone. She was in a long, white nightdress and barefoot, but she couldn't feel the floor under her feet. She looked back at the candle she had seen and realized it was no longer a candle but an orb of light hovering above her hand. She continued down the endless dark hall, in the dead silence of the night. A pounding sounded from her right and she spun around to face it, but there was no door, only a solid wall of gray stone. Voices called out her name, but there was nowhere where they could logically come from. The hall grew colder as she continued walking, faster now. The more fearful she became, the colder and longer the hall. Suddenly, beams of light appeared from cracks in a door at the end of the corridor. Corinne found herself standing in front of it in no time and she slowly opened it. Inside, the white-faced witches were chanting in a foreign tongue around an orb of light, much larger than the one Corinne had found herself carrying.
She felt herself being pulled into the room, into the circle, and near the glowing orb. It felt magnetized, and she suddenly felt like something was pulling at something inside her, and it was beginning to hurt. The chanting grew louder, and Corinne tried to turn and run, but she couldn't move. Just as she thought she couldn't stand it any longer, everything went black.
Corinne jerked up in bed and clutched the covers. It was just a nightmare, she reminded herself as she slipped back under the sheets. Even though it was a really weird one. She didn't fall back asleep right away, instead she lay staring at the ceiling for ten minutes, thinking through the dream. It had involved those white-faced women, but Corinne didn't give much weight to that. She had always had an overactive imagination, and anything out of the ordinary would set her mind to work. When she finally did fall back asleep, it was dreamless and peaceful.
The next morning, Corinne woke up and took a quick shower before getting dressed and heading off to school.
She met Luke on the way there and greeted him with a grim smile.
"Are you still mad?" he asked, trying to inconspicuously keep his distance.
"Not really, but I'm still not going to play football for awhile. I have better things to do than be teased and insulted by some jerks who think they're cool."
Luke shrugged, then changed the subject. "Is there anything interesting happening at school today?"
"Not as far as I know. Unless they decide to surprise us. Otherwise it's the same old algebra at eight in the morning for me."
"At least you don't have to start speaking Spanish the minute you walk into school."
"Yeah, I get to find the values for x and y."
They continued talking until they got to school, which was when they split up to go to their lockers.
Corinne saw Luke again in her third hour biology class, along with Brendan and a couple of his friends.
"Hey, Brendan. What's up?" she asked, sitting down in her seat.
"Not much. Did you get that one molecule question we had to do last night?"
"Kind of. I couldn't find the formula of it, though."
"Oh, okay. Maybe Eileen got it."
When Eileen did rush into class a few seconds before the bell rang, she dropped her books on her desk and ran up to the teacher. While pulling her red hair into a messy bun, she said some harried words to their biology teacher as the bell rang.
Their teacher, Miss Lande, looked at Eileen with a concerned expression. They exchanged some more sentences before Eileen sat back down, still looking like she was in shock.
Corinne turned around and asked, "What's wrong?"
"Something really weird is happening," Eileen whispered back.
"What? How weird?" Corinne asked, as Miss Lande turned and addressed the class.
"You'll see," Eileen replied.
Miss Lande started speaking from behind her desk, where she was hurriedly scribbling a note. "Class, it appears we have received the order from the principal to evacuate the building. Please do so in an orderly manner."
She finished writing the note and followed her biology class outside the building. Corinne walked up to her and asked, "What's going on?"
She didn't receive an answer as everything seemed to stop. No one moved, the clouds stopped moving in the sky, the leaves stopped falling in midair. Corinne felt like she had been trapped in a photograph, but she found she could still move, while everyone else around her were as stiff as marble statues. She looked at her watch and kept staring at it, but the minute refused to change. She was too confused to think straight, and too scared to move. Has time been frozen, or something? she asked herself. She finally gained the courage to look around for her friends, but couldn't see them through the crowds of people.
She felt a tap on her shoulder and jumped while letting out a loud shriek. "Corinne, what's going on?"
It was Luke. "You can move!" she exclaimed, turning around.
"So can Eileen and Brendan, and one more guy who Brendan knows. I think his name is Kian."
"Where are they?"
"Over here!" called Eileen. "Hurry up and get over here you two!"
Corinne shakily walked over to where the other three were standing, and said, "Eileen, is what you told Miss Lande relate anything to this?"
"Only exactly. There was a strange woman in the school wearing blue robes, telling everyone to get outside. She had pointed ears, you know, like an elf."
"This is really weird. What's going on? What's wrong with our high school?"
"Nothing's wrong," came a voice from behind the group.
Corinne whipped around and saw the same woman Eileen had described standing in front of them. The five teenagers stared in fear at her before she spoke again.
"My name is Aurora. Corinne, Eileen, Luke, Brendan, and Kian, you are coming with me."