"No!" I screamed, shattering the bloody sight and plummeting back to earth with a plop. The class quieted and the teacher looked at me reproachfully.

"Mira," he said. "Do you, perhaps, disagree with Pythagoras?"

I flushed heavily. "No sir, I don't disagree with a Greek. It's just . . . my horse is sick and . . . I just realized it could be this rare brand of colic where the stomach starts eating itself 'cause of the twisting an –"

"Spare us," the teacher said curtly, wrinkling his nose and returning to talk about the theories of Pythagoras. I sank lower in my chair. At least being known as the horse freak came with built in excuses.

It also gave me time to dwell on my hallucination.

Or vision. Whatever floats your boat.

I can still see it, even now. The dagger driving into her side, the blood streaming out, her falling . . . falling to the ground in a pool of her own blood. And the face. The older and somewhat altered face of my friend Kat.

A shudder passed through me. Oh gods, don't let that be real. Yes, that's right, I said gods. I'm a pagan of the old faiths. Everyone else was, you know, a catholic or a christian or whatnot except for me and my friends. The school's oddballs.

I jumped when the bell rang, jarring me from my thoughts. Oops. I'd missed the whole lesson. Ah well, I'd just memorize it later.

I grabbed my bag and hurried out of the class room towards my locker. I couldn't wait to get home and curl up with my book; or maybe my laptop. I'd see after the walk.

Quickly I yanked my locker open and switched my books. Just as I was kicking it shut a hand clamped on my shoulder. I thrust my elbow back. Immediately it was caught and deflected as a voice said, "Dude, it's me, chill." The tension flowed out of my body.

"Hey Kat," I said.

She grinned. "Glad you're back in this land." I offered her a weak smile. At 5'10" Kat towered over me by a few inches; which was sad since I'm already tall. She had hazel eyes with hints of green and wavy brown hair. Her sharp features were softened by her size, having a much more normal weight for someone of our height group.

We started walking down the upper halls. "Seen Aith?"

"Nah, she's probably waiting outside with her lighter."

Our other close friend, Aithne, was a pyro. Now don't get me wrong, she doesn't blow stuff up (though she would), she just likes fire. A lot. Like, she loves it.

"Right," I muttered.

"Is ginger upset?"

"Don't call me ginger!" I snapped.

There was a moment of silence.

"Don't look now, but here comes Red Head Enemy Number One." I tensed and hissed under my breath. That was the name of this one guy I couldn't stand. Maybe he thought he was something he wasn't, because the first time I'd met him had been him literally walking in to me, Kat, and Aithne. Great way to get on my bad side. Especially when I already hate guys.

I balled my hands and focused on breathing. Just keep moving forward, I told myself. We almost made it too.

Just as we were moving past the horde a voice yelled out, "Hey there Ginger!" I spun on them, snarling, and lunged. Kat latched herself on to me, gripping my arms as I fought to get at them. The entire horde shrank against the wall in panic.

"Let me at him! Let me at him!" I howled, straining to break free. Kat's face was sheet white. I jerked away, free for the briefest moment, flying forward. The Kat grabbed my arms and used her weight to heavily toss me into the wall.

In a dazed moment I heard running footsteps. Kat's arm was there holding me back before I could move.

With practiced expertise Kat pulled out a piece of brownie and thrust it in my face. That distracted me from the retreating backs of idiotic boys. I inhaled the brownie in record time.

"Better?" Kat asked. I nodded. "Good. Now let's go find Aithne – you guys can beat each other up."


We crossed over to the corner where Aithne stood flicking her triple flame lighter on and off. Today her pale blue eyes seemed to be glowing while the flames' light happened to reflect beautifully off her naturally goldish-tan skin. Her curly light brown hair was down, showing off the golden highlights and aura-like glow.

"Check this out," were the first words out of her mouth. Before Kat or I could utter a word she clicked the lighter open and stared at it intently. A moment later it shot it by nearly a foot and died.

Aithne gave us an impish grin. "Pretty cool, huh? It just started doing that out of the blue!"

I eyed her warily. "You weren't in the propane again, were you?" The last time she'd gotten access to flammable liquids, I'd smelt like smoke for a month. Sometimes I still got a whiff of it.

Her eyes lit up. "Nope!"

"Uh, help?" I muttered under my breath. Kat chuckled and our little trio set off down the sidewalk.

About halfway down Aithne stopped dead and smacked herself in the forehead. She twirled around and in a flash was running off, yelling, "Oh my gods I'm supposed to m –!" The rest of her words were lost.

I looked at Kat and shrugged. "Guess we're braving the park ourselves." We laughed and continued on.

I ought to explain about the park.

The strangest things happen there. The most newsworthy time was with the coyote. Kat and I spent an hour holed up in a tree pelting a rabid coyote with rocks from Kat's bag until animal control came to sedate it. I still wasn't sure why there were rocks in her bag.

Then there was the time I was there alone and the creek had flooded.

Oh, there was also that story on the TV. Aithne was in the park when it happened. This guy our age had been hit by a lightning bolt and walked away unscathed. The real doozy was it had been a clear day.

So very strange things happen all the time in the park. Today was just another testimony.

Kat and I were cutting across the green. I had pulled off my shoes and was walking barefoot. Kat was acting like the intense sunlight was the best thing in the world. I made sure to remain covered – no need to go lobster – but undid my braid to maximize the sunlight glow of my hips long hair.

We were laughing over something that had happened in class when an unfamiliar voice yelled, "Watch your heads!" I turned around just in time to see a boy as he crashed into me. We tumbled painfully to the ground.

"Erre es korrakas!" I screamed, ramming my foot into his stomach to push him off of me. "What is wrong with you?" I demanded, brushing a lock of hair out of my face.

The boy pushed himself to his knees and coughed. "Damn you've got a kick," he muttered. Kat mumbled something sourly about me being a champion rider and got ready to hold me back. The boy looked at me. "And sorry for trying to make sure your head wasn't taken off." He pointed to a frisbee embedded in the ground. He frowned at me. "Go to the crows?"

I blinked in surprise. "You know Greek?" He nodded. I realized I was staring. Something about him seemed odd.

"My grandfather taught me," he said, standing up. He offered me his hand. I scowled and pushed myself up alone.

"I don't need your help," I snapped.

He held his hands up in a show of peace. "Okay, sorry."

"Question," Kat said, stepping up, obviously deciding I wasn't going to kill the guy. "Aside from what the heck did you do to Mira to make her not attack you –" I glared as she gestured to the frisbee, "- who threw that?" I glanced at the frisbee; it was half in the ground on a shallow angle. Whoever threw that must be a reincarnated Heracles.

"My friend," the boy said, suddenly uncomfortable. "Whenever he throws stuff it tends to go really far and fast . . . usually he waits 'til it's clear but –"

"Where is he so I can bash his head in?" I growled, whirling to look at the deserted park.

"Um, I don't think –"

"Hey Mira, don't you have to be at the barn?" The rush and pitch of Kat's voice told me she was trying to prevent murder.

I froze, my eyes widening. "Oh shoot! The world does not need a psychotic mare!" I spun and scooped up my bag. Pausing I turned back to the guy.

"Tell your friend," I growled, jabbing my finger at his chest, "that if I ever find him, I'll personally make him long for Tartarus!" With hardly a glance at his expression I twisted on my toes and took off at a sprint.

"Oh yeah!" I yelled after a few long paces, turning to run backwards. "When you see Aith, tell her she's on Shreever! And take up that offer for a hack already!" She raised her hand in acknowledgement as I raced back forward.