A/N: This is my first attempt in a long time to do a science fiction story. There won't be much science or fiction for a while, this is just a prologue. I have one request for the readers: tell me if you think it's worth continuing. Your review can just be one word, "yes" or "no". Really, I can't tell if this is crap or not.

EDIT: this chapter redone with the wonderful advice of WhenceComethThisBoredom. Thank you!


It was a fairly large class. Sophomores in the higher-level lit class and juniors in the lower-level, and thirty-something people all crammed into the same room with one harassed teacher who was planning to retire at the end of the year.

June couldn't come fast enough for anyone in the room.

But now it was only November, not close enough to Thanksgiving for anyone to celebrate yet, and far enough from Halloween that the excitement of candy, costumes and parties had died down. The students were seated in rows, with their backs to the windows. Today, that didn't matter, because today it was grey and rainy and nobody wanted to look outside.

The students were sitting quietly, taking a quiz on Othello. A few had finished, but not enough for talking and passing notes to start up. The faster test-takers were doodling or reading or doing homework.

A girl with a red braid finished her test with a period after her struggle to spell the name of Othello's wife. It started with a 'd', and that was about all that was correct, she knew, but it was a long quiz, and she didn't care much anymore.

She glanced across the room at a Japanese girl with short black hair, but her friend was engrossed in her test and wasn't looking. The red-head gave up trying to catch the other's eye, and excused herself as she tried to pass the boy next to her. He moved a little to let her out and continued to glare at his test.

The girl whispered a request to get a drink of water to the elderly teacher sitting at a desk. The woman glanced up quickly, and then nodded and went back to grading papers.

Before she exited the room, the girl glanced one more time at her friend, who still didn't meet her eyes, and a blond boy doodling in the back of the room. He felt her watching him and glanced up.

Pretending to have been scanning the room quickly, she looked away from the boy and ducked out into the hallway. As the door closed, the boy gave a little smile and went back to drawing a duck.

Outside in the hall, the girl ran into a tall boy with dyed green hair and an orange backpack. She smiled slightly patronizingly. "Hi, Zane," she said in a mocking tone.

"Hi, Krys," he replied in an imitation of her tone. "Do you think she'll notice if I walk in now?"

"We're taking a test. Probably." Zane swore.

"Man, I can't have another unexcused absence. She'll flunk me."

"Good luck," replied Krys unconcernedly. She turned and walked down the hall towards the water fountain, leaving Zane contemplating the door indecisively.

She turned a corner and waited behind a freshman she didn't know for water. The kid took her time filling a water bottle, not noticing Krys, and then tried for a nonchalant apology as she spotted an upperclassman glowering at her, and scooted.

Krys bent over the water fountain and suddenly felt a wave of dizziness. She stood up abruptly and, strangely, it disappeared. Wasn't that feeling supposed to come with standing up too quickly?

But after a moment it was back, with a splitting headache this time. Krys put her cold hands to her forehead, then her eyes, trying to get rid of the pain.

Suddenly she felt the bottom drop out of her stomach, the feeling she had loved so much when she was a little girl riding in an elevator. She closed her eyes and opened them again, and saw suddenly a river that wasn't moving, with a few stones in the center, too far for her to reach, that had constantly shifting surfaces. She stared into the stones, trying to figure out why they moved and the river stood still, and the closer she looked, the more she realized that it was the water coming out of the fountain.

Krys let go of the knob, and the water stopped. She stared at the water fountain for a moment, confused, and then shook her head.

Suddenly the headache returned. Krys screamed, putting her hands uselessly up to her head, and fell to the ground.

She could have felt someone shaking her arm, but all she could feel was the pain.

She could have seen the terrified-looking freshman, but all she could see was the pain.

She could have heard Zane shouting for help, but all she could hear was the pain.

It was as if Krys was no longer a part of this world, but had been taken somewhere else, and she didn't know if anything could ever break through.

What a relief.