Chapter 1

"And, concluding tonight's broadcast of the six o'clock news, Caltech University spends a day devoted to mourning their lost science research center on the border, near a city called Yuma, Arizona." At the specific indication of the modest area outside of Yuma where I resided, I sat bolt upright from my relaxed slouch, causing my boyfriend's minute, fluffy cat to jump off my lap, startled, and run to the adjacent end table to cower from the hallucinatory menace.

"What happened?" inquired my boyfriend, Tyler, who must have been disturbed from his task of making us snacks by the deafening clatter of a metal candy dish that Terrace, the cat, had knocked askew.

My cheeks steadily grew warmer in the manner that they always did when I made a mistake. "Nothing. I just heard something about a Caltech research facility."

Tyler walked to the rough canvas couch I was sitting on and kissed my cheek. "I've heard rumors about something like that. I wouldn't worry about it, though. After all, who could it possibly affect us?" His fingers played with the end of my oily black braid. I stretched my neck to kiss his lips before he went back to the kitchen to finish preparing our popcorn and Coke.

I mashed the input button three times to switch to the DVD player. Tyler returned with the popcorn and loaded a DVD that was at least five years old in the small tray that popped out. We had decided to watch the DVD in an old-fashioned DVD player to see what it was like compared to the newer Blu-Ray and the 3D-TV.

A mish-mash of previews of movies that had long-since come out played before the menu screen, which was white with red, dripping letters that read, "Vampires Suck". The red writing dripped like blood. There were several options, including "Scene Selection", "Bonus Features", "Language", "Settings", and "Play", which was highlighted. Tyler, who had sat beside me and allowed me to snuggle up close to him, took the remote from my hands and pressed "Enter" to start the movie.

The movie played for nearly two hours, ending with an awesomely hilarious scene involving a Mary-Sue vampire getting hit in the head with a spiky metal ball by a Team Jacob fan who yelled, "Team, Jacob, bitch!" just before the credits started rolling. Due to the bloodiness of the movie, I had drawn myself closer to Tyler, who was now holding me closely, his chin resting on my head.

Sitting up straight, I checked the time. "Crap, it's late!" I exclaimed, noting the 9:02pm that my watch's display read. My curfew was 9:10pm on school nights. I quickly kissed Tyler good-bye before grabbing my backpack (we had been doing homework earlier) and exiting the house. My house was a ten minute bike ride away on a good, well-lit day. I hoped that two minutes wouldn't cost me my freedom.

Wind whipped my face as my legs pumped as hard as they could on the pedals, which in turn powered a small engine and propelled the bike forward. I couldn't afford to stop and look at the time with two miles still left to go and about four minutes to do so according to my best estimates. The speedometer of the bike hovered around 25 miles per hour which wasn't fast enough. I exerted all my willpower to go faster. I closed my eyes, pushed harder, and-

Bam!My bike crunched into a precautionary, transparent force field directly in front of the curb. My seatbelt kept me from flying over the handlebars, but the bike itself toppled over. "Shit!" I exclaimed as I fell, trapped beneath the bike. The required protective equipment prevented my knees, elbows, and wrists from breaking and my helmet averted a concussion, but I was trapped and my shins were oozing warm, red blood.

I laid there for a few seconds getting my breath back and my heartbeat back down. Then i pushed the bike up with all my strength. It tilted back into place. I tried to clean myself up a bit, but my chins hurt like hell and i was already late getting home. Wincing, I sat on the bike and tried to propel it with only one leg, but that only resulted in my ankle getting cut up as well. How in the world would I manage the two miles now?, I thought hopelessly

Half an hour later, I found myself staggering up my porch steps. I pressed my dirt-coated finger to the pad that scanned my print and let me in automatically. Just as I had expected, the slim, short frame of my mother loomed two yards away. Her arms were folded across her chest and I instinctively made myself appear as small as possible. I wanted to crawl in a hole, pass out, and wake up to have everything be okay.

"Hi," was all I could manage without blacking out.

"Hi?" exploded my mother. "Tori Michelle Sierra, you are 32 minutes past your damn curfew! I was worried sick. And when you do get home you're covered in dirt, bleeding, and limping! What the hell did Tyler do to you?"

"It wasn't Tyler!" I screamed back, enraged that my mother thought so badly of my boyfriend of six months.

A miniscule amount of rage disappeared from her hazel eyes, but tons still remained. "Okay, if it wasn't your boyfriend, then what the hell happened to you?"

"I tried to get home on time Mom, I really did!" I began. "I left Tyler's house at 9. I lost track of time. So I was trying to go fast and I closed my eyes and then I crashed into the force field on Webster Avenue."

My mom was silent for a few moments. Then, inexplicably, she burst into laughter, "So, you're late because you biked directly into a force field on your way here?"

Now that she said it that way, it did sound a bit comical. I cautiously released a half-chuckle. "So how much trouble am I in?"

"I may let you off easy this time, seeing how hard you tried to get home..." pondered my mother. "Nevertheless, you shouldn't have stayed there so late. How about I just dock a dollar from this week's allowance and we call it even." Internally, I groaned, but I knew that I couldn't let that show.

"Thanks, Mom!" I exclaimed, faking a cheerful demeanor. "All my homework is done, and I should probably go to bed soon, right?"

A grin broke my mother's serious expression, but only for a fleeting moment. "Yes, that would be good."

I sighed, relieved at how easily I had gotten off, and resolved to try to learn more about the Caltech research facility as soon as possible.

Author's Note: I'm extremely open to constructive criticism, and I know that this needs lots of work, so I would love suggestions! I have most of this story written, though. This is, however, a rough draft. I hope you liked it!