Chapter 1: Collision:

Fall 2005. A time where dead leaves obscured what was left of the slowly dying grass. A time when apples and pumpkins were in-season once more. A time where school was in session, and football started to air on TV again. A time during the first semester of my sophomore year of high school. And it was also a time when my life changed forever.

It all started right at the beginning of an American football game between the Hitsville Dobermans and the Kicksburg Rottweilers. Both Hitsville and Kicksburg were neighboring small towns in the state of Montana, whose sports teams rivaled each other at all levels from middle school to college, though no matter the sport, Kicksburg always seemed to win slightly more often than we did. I was the star quarterback for the former team, already poised and ready to add another trophy to the glass cabinet in my school's hallway. And by the looks of it, the rest of my teammates had a similar level of enthusiasm.

As the stripe-clad referee stepped onto the field, we all crouched into position. Directly ahead of me was the opposing team, proudly sporting their numbered dark red and lemon-yellow jerseys. The quarterback was closest to me, roughly 6'1" like myself, and quite sturdily built. He was definitely a little beefier than the other quarterbacks I'd faced off against before, but I was excited because it would mean a greater challenge. Despite the shadow cast over his face by his helmet, I could make out olive-toned skin, brown eyes, and a few locks of chestnut hair peeking into plain sight. He didn't say a damn word, and his helmet masked his facial expression, but he nonetheless seemed determined to make his team proud. His eyes remained glued to his target, which was obviously me.

After the ball was placed in centerfield, a brief countdown followed, before the ref yelled "Hike!" and blew his whistle, before the game finally began. I managed to grab the ball first and immediately made a mad dash for a teammate who was sprinting towards the other team's goal. However, before I could even take two steps, that same quarterback launched himself onto me, tackling me into the dirt and causing some of the sod on the ground to dislodge itself. As soon as we hit the ground, I felt immense pain welling up all over my upper body, and lost all feeling in both of my arms, which were still wrapped around the ball as they held it close to my torso.

I started to pant in order to calm myself down a little, but it hurt to breathe, letting me know that some of my ribs had been fractured as well. Weakly, I looked up towards my attacker, who was still on top of me and seemingly unwilling to move. I passed out from the pain within the next few seconds, but before I did, I managed to catch a glimpse of the surname on the back of his jersey: Simmons.

When I came to a while later, I found myself on an elevated stretcher in a dimly-lit room that was gray all over. I could feel a bruise forming around one of my teal eyes, and I was wrapped up in so many bandages that I couldn't move, though it wasn't like I wanted to move anyway. It was probably just a temporary restraint to keep me from sustaining any more injuries until the paramedics could come for me. The slightest of noise would echo throughout the chamber, and judging by the faint sounds I could hear from beyond the closed door, I could tell that the second half of the game was just starting to wrap up, and that my team was poised to forfeit. Not long after the whistle blew, I was taken by surprise as the door swung open, its creaking reverberating throughout the room I was trapped in. Looking up as best I could without hurting myself, I noticed that it wasn't a coach or medic coming in to check on me, but rather... a fellow student from my grade?

She was unusually tall, about 5'10" by the looks of it. All but flat-chested, but with a really nice body otherwise. She had peachy skin like myself, alongside gray eyes that were so pale they almost looked white. Her platinum blonde hair was styled into a chignon, decorated with a grass-green and ivory ribbon that matched her cheerleader outfit, which in turn matched my jersey. She had swapped out the skirted bottom half of her costume with some ordinary skinny-jeans that hugged her thighs and hips quite nicely, and there was a good two inches of skin on display between said jeans and the part where her top cut off. I'd seen this chick around campus several times before, such as during lunch or in between classes, but we'd never once interacted with each other.

"Er... hi," she spoke in a light German accent I'd never picked up on before, waving awkwardly at me.

"What's up?" I asked, trying to sound pleasant despite the lingering agony beneath my skin.

"Nothing much. Just wanted to see if you were doing alright. I saw what happened right at the beginning of the game, and I felt pretty bad," the girl explained. "Am I bothering you, or anything?"

"Oh no, you're fine," I quickly replied. I had very few if any friends at the time, so no way was I going to botch an opportunity to add another one to the list. "But yeah, that Simmons guy really did a number on me. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll pull through, though. I'm just optimistic like that."

"Well that's certainly a good trait to have," the girl mustered up a small smile, brushing her hand along her opposite arm for a moment, before clearing her throat. "Anyway, uh, I've seen you around a lot, but I don't think we've formally met. My name is Katherine. Katherine Augustus."

"Well if you've been checking me out all this time, then you'd have seen the back of my jersey and figured that my last name is Seymour," I said jokingly. "But as for my first name, it's Michael, but... most people just call me Mike."

"Nice to meet you, uh... Mike," Katherine replied, gently shaking one of my immobilized hands, which was surprisingly but thankfully uninjured.

Before I could say anything in response, we were both caught off guard as the other door opened and several paramedics hurried in towards me, prompting Katherine to back away. As they lifted me up onto a stretcher, some of the pain returned to certain parts of my upper body, and it also dawned on me how tired my injuries had made me. In my last fainting breath, I hollered back:

"Nice to meet you too!"