It was the first day of the new school year, but it was by no means an ordinary day.

I had just stolen a cigarette out of a kid's hand, and smirked at his confusion. I crushed it beneath my foot and dematerialized. "Damn ghosts," he grumbled to himself as he got off the fence and headed into the school building. I followed him. He hadn't seen me, of course, but he knew I was there, and it made him nervous. It made most nervous, even amongst nonhumans.

There was a breeze, and I thought about materializing and letting it touch my skin, but decided against it. There was an eternity of breezes I could feel later, and I didn't feel like spending the energy.

Today was a very important day to the NHCR, or Nonhuman Civil Rights movement. After a horrid couple of years and a dreadfully painful spring, the bill had finally passed through Congress to integrate the public facilities, including the public schools. Of course, if history had told us anything, it was that though the laws were on our side, it didn't mean the people were. I had to wonder at the bravery, or foolishness, of the nonhuman kids who would be attending an actual human school now. It was this that brought me from my cozy little graveyard to the loathsome high school across the street.

I had to be discreet, since I was trespassing on a closed campus. No materializing or even solidifying; just pure ghost. I floated in through an open door above a student and scanned about for any nonhumans. They wouldn't be very difficult to find. Doubtlessly, no one would be within ten feet of them if they could help it.

I followed everyone into the gymnasium for the back-to-school assembly, and sat up on the scoreboard, waiting and watching. I heard a "Psst! Daniel!" behind me, and I looked over my shoulder. Out from behind the scoreboard flew another ghost, who settled in next to me.

"Hey, Teddy," I said. "What are you doing here?"

"Same as you," he replied. "I came to see the show."

I frowned. "Shouldn't you be at the junior high? They've let in ghosts now. You could finish up your education."

"Hell no," said the boy. "I've seen what that's like. The only thing in this world worse than high school is middle school. I don't care how many laws they pass, nobody's ever going to want dead kids at school with them. Not to mention an education seems pretty pointless when you're dead. And get with the times, Daniel; no one says junior high anymore."

I smiled. "Sorry, I'm a little slow at keeping up. It's almost like I've been dead for a hundred and fifty years."

We laughed together as the bell rung, and then quieted down with everyone else. Teddy was eleven when he died twenty years ago, and had become something like a little brother to me. It was always hard for us ghosts to add another to our ranks, especially when it was just a kid. Not everyone who dies becomes a ghost—in fact, most don't. But when we huddled around the new grave anxiously, hoping and praying that he wouldn't climb out, and he did, it was heartbreaking. Even worse when he began crying and following his family around, and when he realized he was too young to have learned how to make himself visible or audible, only I stuck around to help him. He'd been all right, though, for the last fifteen years or so, and spent his time messing around in schools and learning his new ghost abilities.

"Hello, everyone!" cried the principal into a microphone. "I hope you've all had a great summer." With a nervous laugh, she added, "It's certainly been exciting, to say the least!"

There was a low murmur through the crowd. I saw Teddy clench his fists.

"As you all know, we have some new students with us this year," the principal went on. The forced cheer in her voice disgusted me. "The hard work of the Nonhuman Civil Rights movement has really paid off, and now everyone will be able to get an education, and not just peop—humans."

Teddy shot up, fuming, but I grabbed his hand and pulled him back down into a sit. Though I could hardly blame him.

The principal's tight smile widened. "Would the nonhumans in here like to stand and present themselves?"

How humiliating! Any chance of blending in for them was gone. I hardly had the will to stop Teddy from assaulting the woman, but I did. "Stop it," I hissed, "or you'll be forced to leave. And all our work will be for naught."

He sat back once more in a rage and I glanced at the nonhumans who were standing miserably in the front row, all huddled together. There were eight of them—eight! They were surely all regretting this decision… except for one. A tall, thin boy with dog ears and a tail marched up and took the microphone, nearly startling the principal out of her wits.

"My name is Lonner White," he announced fiercely. "You remember that name! I am the first werewolf to come to Northside High School and I will not be the last!" He then abruptly handed the mike back to the flustered principal and went back with the others.

"Aaah, well—er, thank you, Mr. White…" She cleared her throat and collected herself enough to say, "And now, your class-elected Student Body President… Bow!"

"Beau?" I wondered, confused at the curvy thing with strawberry blond hair coming up to grab the mike.

"Yeah, her name's Little Rainbow," answered Teddy. "But if you call her that, she'll probably kill you. She goes by Bow. She's the most popular girl in school."

Little. Rainbow. I knew the humans were naming their kids weird things these days but, honestly, Little Rainbow? Did her parents not have the decency to even drop the 'Little'? "Doesn't she have a last name?" I asked.

"Her parents are the Madisons, but they took the name off Bow to make her more unique. Like Cher."

I laughed. "You're too young to know who Cher is."

"Nuh-uh. Now shut up and listen."

I complied, and my eyes widened at the sight. Little Rainbow was stunning. I couldn't remember having seen such beauty in all my afterlife. She was a senior, probably seventeen or eighteen. And her voice didn't fail to match her appearance. I hardly heard an actual word until she said sweetly, "And I for one am quite excited to have our new students, though it's a shame there are so few. I hope you can become comfortable and feel safe here as quickly as possible. That is my deepest wish for you, and I am confident that our student body here at Northside will be kind and accepting. Now, let's have a great year, everybody!"

The kids cheered, and quickly stormed out of the gymnasium to get to their first classes. "Wow," I said, running a hand through my hair. "She's… wow."

"Yeah, don't even," said Teddy, still scowling. "She's a total bitch."

"Really? She seemed nice enough to me. Beyond nice, actually."

"Well, whatever. You do whatever you want. I'm gonna go mess with some toilets."

"Teddy," I said with a laugh, reaching out—but he was gone. I looked down at the gym at the few people petering out, and gently dropped down to the floor. Little Rainbow was there alone turning off the mike, while the principal had gone over to talk with the other faculty. I materialized just for her and smiled. "Hey. Nice speech."

She looked up with a raised eyebrow. "Thanks. And who are you?"

"I'm Daniel," I answer, leaning forward. "I hear your name is Little Rainbow Madison. Very pretty."

She gave me a wicked smile. "Why thank you again. Except I don't use Madison, and I only go by Bow. So I'd appreciate it if you didn't refer to me by any other name from now on."

I gave a mocking bow. "Of course. Rain, it is."

The look she shot me seemed to go from pure hate to uncaring to amused in the blink of an eye. I was a little startled. "You're funny," she said tightly. "But seeing as you're not a student here, judging by the way you and your other little ghost friend were sitting on top of the scoreboard watching, I'd suggest you get out of here. Before they make you get out. You're trespassing, after all. So, goodbye, Daniel."

Before I knew it she was gone, and I'd gone back to being fully invisible. Was that supposed to have happened? How did she see Teddy and me, when we weren't visible at all? And why the hostility?

I didn't realize then that I'd met the devil in the form of a beautiful young woman. As I used the last of my energy to phase out through the walls and float to my grave, my mind was plagued with Little Rainbow. Little did I know, I had just been swept into something that would haunt me forever.