Friday, November 12, 2010

Chapter 8


I leaned against a tree planted in a dirt patch in the sidewalk, attempting to catch my breath. I never had been very good at running long distances. I looked around to figure out where I was. Cars rushed under a sign that said “Welcome to Lalmipaa.” I had just run into the outskirts of the neighboring city from the middle of Iocterrs. No wonder I was so tired! I sat down next to the tree. Now where was I supposed to go? My stomach growled and I reached into my backpack to fish out a snack. I remembered packing extra apples. But, instead of touching the smooth surface of an apple, I felt…nothing. Crud! I had forgotten my backpack at school!
I took deep breaths. Maybe I had some money in my pockets. I always forgot about the money I put in them. I stuck my hand in my right pocket and found the ten sythers. That was almost double the amount of money I’d had in my backpack. I could take a bus, now that I had more than enough money to do so.
“I bet I can run faster than you with my new shoes!” I turned to see a boy with obviously new shoes bragging to another boy. “How would your new shoes make you faster? I’ll still be able to run faster than you!” said the other boy.
“My shoes have dragons on them, and dragons are super fast!” retorted the boy with the new shoes.
“I don’t think that makes a difference,” said the other boy. “I bet I’ll make it to the next crosswalk before you do!”
“I bet you can’t!” And the two raced. Seeing the dragon on the boy’s shoes reminded me of another dragon I had met…last week. It seemed like so long ago. Her name was Science Nerdess, and I’d helped her and her friends Feathers the phoenix, Amarantha the unicorn, Zella the witch, Ellie the powerful ghost, her daughter Hannah, the elf children Priya and Maddie, and Ellie’s husband Scott free the goddess Scadoosh and imprison Ellie’s idiot daughter Emily for killing Ellie and then making sure the blame was placed on Scott. While Scott wasn’t exactly the most moral of people, he could never murder his own wife. And Emily’s jealousy towards her about-to-be-born sister and her anger towards her father was amplified by some of Jenisifydincneiwa’s zombies from her zombie army. At the time, Jenifydincneiwa and Anilokalmosia had been working together, so Annie had granted the ability of emotion-manipulation to the zombies. Emily managed to not only kill her mother, but also get her father blamed for it; there was no way she could have killed her mother, since she was “sick” and later killed by her father because she had killed her mother. Because Scadoosh had not really done anything about Scott, Emily turned to Anilokalmosia, and she ended up being her slave. She imprisoned Scadoosh, and I helped Science Nerdess and her friends go to Annie’s lair to get the keys to Scadoosh’s prison.
They had offered to let me stay in their cave, where Science Nerdess, Feathers, Amarantha, Zella, Ellie, Hannah, and Scott lived, but I had refused, insisting that, now that I was not evil anymore, I might be accepted by my parents. How stupid I was. But now, I could return to the cave, and maybe I could remain there in peace.
I ambled over to the nearest bus stop, which was just past the next intersection. A bus came after about five minutes, and I, along with three other people, climbed aboard. “Excuse me,” I asked the bus driver, as I paid my fare. “When does this bus stop at Eiatras?”
“The last couple of stops are in Eiatras, miss, ‘cuz it’s at the edge of the county,” said the bus driver.
Eiatras was a very backwards sort of city that belonged in the neighboring backwards county, Sarteea County. The city just happened to fall under the jurisdiction of Rirsocet County. It’s rumored that the people in Sarteea County and the city of Eiatras are trapped in time, which would seem to true because the city and county are very medieval. There are still knights there, and manors and lords and kings. The hygiene of the people is pretty terrible, which is why Scott, a coffin maker, had such a lucrative business for a time when he was alive until Science Nerdess and Feathers started their cave clinic. The people in the city and county, though, are aware of what the year is. The people all reject modern conveniences, though, since they think all our machines are “of the Evil Gods.”  
The bus’s engine started up, and I was soon on my way. This county bus had only a few people, so it was quiet. I wonder why few people ride the county bus. The seats are nice and the bus is spacious. But I don’t mind the lack of people; in fact, I like it. That way, I could be almost alone, with just me and my thoughts.
I looked out the window and saw the houses and walls rush by. I hoped the EIS wouldn’t find me here. How could it find out so soon? There wasn’t a way Mr. Esakon could have contacted it, was there? But what if he did? What if some EIS members were on their way—?
Now I was just being paranoid. To calm myself down, I focused on the other passengers. On the left side of the bus, an elderly man read a newspaper, while, a few seats behind him, a woman was sitting with her handbag in her lap. A brown-haired woman right behind her looked at me suspiciously, and I froze. Was she from the EIS? But then I realized that she was probably suspicious because she thought I was skipping school—after all, what else would a fifteen-year-old be doing on the bus at 9:45 AM (according to the clock on the bus) without any noticeable guardians? She stared at me as if I was some sort of juvenile delinquent, which I found rather weird because I thought that skipping school doesn’t warrant that kind of look. No one was jailed for skipping school in Rirsocet County or, really, in all of Naiambwao District. I was used to that look, though, so it didn’t bother me. The mentality of most people is that if you have a name like mine, you would be a criminal if you weren’t one yet. As long as that woman wasn’t going to do anything to me because of her suspicions, I couldn’t care less about what she thought. I turned my head to look ahead of me. I noticed that the black-haired man in the seat in front of me was chattering on his cell phone.
My eyelids began to droop. I typically try to avoid sleep when I’m not at home if I can because losing consciousness makes me feel vulnerable. I’ve had enough happenings happen to me while I was unconscious, typically childish pranks, to make me worry about what could happen if I fell asleep, and my precarious situation didn’t mitigate my fears. But I was so tired…
The bus stopped to pick up more passengers. About four people climbed aboard. Among them was a bespectacled black-haired boy of medium height with tan skin. He stopped by the seat next to mine and asked, “Mind if I sit here?”
“I don’t have any authority to deny you permission, so, sure, I guess.” Why was he asking me, anyway?
“Okay, then,” he said as he sat down. “Where are you headed?”
“That’s none of your business,” I said.
“Geez, I’m just trying to make some conversation! It’s boring on this bus.”
“Well, forgive me if I don’t trust a person I hardly know…you know how we’re not supposed to talk to strangers and all…”
“If you don’t talk to strangers, how are you ever going to meet people? Everyone you know was a stranger once. Heck, even your own mother was a stranger once!” And some people, no matter how long you knew them, stayed strangers…even my mother. “You’ve got a point,” I said, “but I’m not inclined to talk to people who I don’t know the name of. I’m not one of those people who can just talk to anybody.”
“I see. You’re one of those uber-cautious people, who probably are scared that even a dog might kidnap you if it’s a ‘stranger,’” he teased. “So, let’s not be strangers. The name’s Adhit, but you can call me Adi.” He was a Cursed One! Adhit was a derivative of Adrian, which was the CMN of Adraiminabo. For one Cursed with the CMN of the god of gluttony and laziness, he was pretty skinny. Adhit looked disappointed. “Oh, so you’re not going to talk to me now that you know I’m a Cursed One? Aw, come on, I’m not that bad! I’m not evil…not anymore anyway—”
“No, not at all. I was just thinking about…stuff,” I said. “I’m Anita.”
“Nice name.” Was he being sarcastic? “Do you have any nicknames? Like Annie, Neetu, Anu, Nita, anything?”
“No. No nicknames. And especially not ‘Nita’ or ‘Annie.’” “Nita” reminded me too much of Jasmine, and “Annie” reminded me of the goddess who convinced my parents to do the act of misdeed that led to my being cursed in the first place.
“Um, okay. So, why are you ditching school?”
“Oh, I’m, um, uh…not ready for a math test, so I, uh, wanted to ditch…”
Adhit laughed. “You suck at lying, you know that? Tell me the real reason.” When I wouldn’t respond, he said, “Fine, I’ll tell you my reason. You don’t have to tell me yours if you really don’t want to.” He lowered his voice. “Some EIS member found my house and tried to kidnap me. Of course, my parents wanted to get rid of me, anyway, so they didn’t care. So I escaped that EIS member and ran away, and now I’m on this bus and am going to the bus’s last stop.” Why would he tell me all this? He didn’t know that I wasn’t some other EIS member masquerading as a Cursed One. Of course, it was entirely possible that he was the masquerading EIS member, which made me regret telling him my name.
Or I could be just being paranoid again. “That really stinks. You’re going to have to be away from everyone you know and you’ll have to be among strangers,” I said.
“That’s fine with me,” said Adhit. “I never had any friends back in Henaima, and I’m okay with meeting people who can’t make any assumptions about me because of something that an ex-friend said. I know that Charles couldn’t hang out with me because his mother said so, but that doesn’t mean that he can make up all kinds of stuff about me.”
“Oh, wow. That’s gotta suck. My ex-friend only bullies me into going into the dark side again, and she only does that because she is under the Influence of the goddess of illness, and she’s got her CMN. She doesn’t make crap up about me, even though she is under the Influence. Charles is really mean. I’m sorry you lost him as a friend.”
“Well, ‘as we grow up we don’t lose friends. We just learn who our real ones are.’ I like that quote. It’s very true. Charles was never my real friend in the first place. Now, as for you…”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. We just met! At most, we’re just really good acquaintances. We’re not even close to being friends!”
“I wasn’t saying that. I was going to say that I think you might end up being a really good friend if we got to know each other better. Yeesh, don’t jump to conclusions!”
“Oh. Sorry about that.”
“What’s the last stop for this bus?”
“Somewhere in Eiatras.”
“Aw, crud, that backwards city? There’s no way I’m staying there! I couldn’t live without my computer.” I wasn’t even allowed to use the computer at home, so I couldn’t relate. “I’m sure you could. You technically only need oxygen, food, water, and shelter to live.”
Adhit looked at me, irritated. “You know what I mean.”
“Just saying.” Suddenly the bus screeched to a halt. Some normal-looking people rushed aboard the bus. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that they had guns.
Everyone in the bus was thrown into a panic. “DON’T HURT ME OR MY CHILDREN!” someone screamed. Other people tried to look for a way out. “Relax, if you are Regulars. We will not hurt you,” stated one of the intruders. “We are just looking for some Cursed Ones among you.” Adhit and I exchanged looks. The EIS had found us! Or, they could have been referring to other Cursed Ones on the bus…
The group searched every seat, referring to a device that looked like a phone. When they came to our row, one of them declared, “There they are! Well, some of them, anyway.” So they were referring to us after all. I gulped. Some of the EIS dragged us out of our seats roughly. Some other members grabbed a couple of other passengers. “I knew they were trouble,” said the woman who had looked at me suspiciously. “They’re abominations, that’s what they are.”
And we abominations were dragged into the trunk of a white van. What were they going to do to us? 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Random Pictures

Hi everyone!
I tend to doodle about certain ideas I have for books or comics during class. So, this month, I've been doodling about my NaNoWriMo novel.
Here are some pictures:

A Paint representation of another doodle:
Yes, I had to include a subtle Scooby-Doo reference. I just had to. :)
This is Jennifer. She kicks kittens and burns babies and butterflies. She's that evil.
Haha, I like how I was taking notes on how the South thought slavery was a "necessary evil" right where I drew Jennifer.

That should give you guys (or rather, just Amarantha) an idea of how some of my characters look like. 



Chapter 7

Clutching my call slip, I took my time getting to the principal’s office. All of the new principals hated me upon sight, anyway, so why bother being prompt? This principal certainly wasn’t going to be any different. So I decided to continue musing about what had happened to Megan and Jennifer and the other Blessed and Cursed Ones who had gone to the principal’s office. Was the principal behind their weird changes? If that was true, what would the principal do to me? I didn’t like this principal already.
“Just a quick announcement. Could the next student who has to see the principal please hurry up? Hurry up, please. The principal is waiting. Again, could the next student who has to see the principal please hurry up? Thank you,” announced a tired secretary, probably Kay. I sighed. The principal certainly didn’t want his nefarious plans for me to be delayed. I guessed that everything ran on a tight schedule. It must be hard to fit some fifty extreme hypnotizing sessions in one day. Hmmm, hypnotism. How the hell do you combat hypnotism?
I was definitely not prepared for this. I should have checked out a copy of Hypnotism for Dummies or Molly Moon’s Amazing Book of Hypnotism.
I finally arrived at the main office and stopped by Kay’s desk. “I’m here for the principal,” I told her. Kay looked down at her list. “Anita Sunagar, I presume?” I nodded. “You may go right inside. Mr. Esakon is waiting for you.”
I peered through the door opening to the principal’s office. Nothing much had changed. It was still rather spacious. Sofas sat against the right wall, and pictures and certificates hung on walls. The pictures and certificates had changed, though. The bookshelf was still to the right of the principal’s desk, against the back wall, just like it was last year.
Mr. Esakon was sitting behind the desk. His mostly brown hair had some gray mixed with it and he was scribbling something on paper. He didn’t look all that mean or anything like a hypnotist, but then again, people rarely were what they seemed to be. I didn’t think he saw me, so I cleared my throat. That got his attention. “Oh, Anita, do come in, please,” he said, with a warm smile on his face.
I walked and sat down on the chair opposite his desk. “Would you like a cookie?” he asked, handing me a bowl of oatmeal raisin cookies. “Uh, no thank you,” I said. I didn’t like oatmeal raisin cookies very much. He insisted, though, so I took it. When he wasn’t looking, I stuffed the cookie into my pocket. I’d figure out what to do with it later.
“So, how are your classes going?” he asked. I gave him the same answer I gave last year to the interim principal. “They’re going fine,” I said. “I’m doing rather well in them all.”
“What classes do you like best?” he asked. I told him that I liked history and science best, and that I hated math. “Do you have any suggestions for additional class choices?” he asked. “Or do you have any suggestions on how I could make school more interesting for you students?” And on and on he continued. I highly doubted that he cared about my answers; he always looked bored when I answered his questions.
BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP! I jumped a little at the noise. “Oh, that’s just my alarm,” he said, apologetically, as he took out his alarm and turned it off. Then he gave me a sickeningly sweet smile. “Don’t you hate it when people beat about the bush and don’t get to the point quickly?” he asked.
“Uh…I guess?” Where was he going with this?
“Well, then, I’ll get to the point. I would hate to disappoint you, Anita. Or not. You see, I couldn’t have cared less about your answers.” Not like I expected him to, anyway. “Why would I care about an abomination like you?” The way he said “abomination” sounded very familiar…
They have called the Blessed and the Cursed abominations before, and believe that the Regulars are the only “true” humans. “Y-you’re part of the EIS, aren’t you?!” I gasped.
“Ah, you’re a smart one. But I’m not just a ‘part of the EIS;’ in fact, I’m one of the people who revived it,” he smirked. Crap. My school’s new principal was a Blessed-and-Cursed-hater. “I’m not going to bore you with my childhood or what inspired me to help revive the EIS because, if I’ve learned anything from miserable cartoon excuses of villains, monologuing is an excellent way to let the hero escape and kill you. I’m not saying that I’m a villain. Heroes need to learn from the weaknesses of villains, too…
“So, you must be wondering why I’m a principal, right? Well, I figured that I could get rid you abominations more easily when you all are young. It is rather difficult to lure adults with cookies.”
“What do you mean?”
“You see, those cookies have an immobilizing spell on them. Whoever eats them is frozen into the position that they were in when the spell takes effect. But the head isn’t frozen, but that’s just a minor detail. And that’s what the timer was for. So, now, you are frozen…and you are mine!”  He was standing up at this point, with his hands on his desk so that he could be close enough for me to feel him breath. Ugh. His breath stank of salami. He then straightened himself up and strolled towards me. “Now, be a good little abomination,” he crooned as he turned my chair around, “and let me take you to the telecloner…oh, shoot, where is it?” He muttered something and a glass case big enough to stand in appeared in a flash of light. Mr. Esakon touched it with his finger and a touch screen with buttons appeared. “What does a telecloner do?” I asked, hoping to make some sort of distraction.
“It teleports you to where we in the EIS hold you abominations while cloning you so that no one suspects anything,” he replied. Dammit! That was too short of an explanation, and now I knew I had to avoid getting into that telecloner. I had to think of something else…
He put his hands on my shoulders and tried to carry me, so I gripped the armrests of my seat firmly so that he couldn’t lift me. He chuckled. “Wow, you’re heavier than you look. Luckily, I can roll this chair into the telecloner…” I jumped out of the chair. He gasped. “But how—?”
“I didn’t eat the cookie.” And I ran towards the window on the back wall. Suddenly, I was jerked back. “You may not be under the spell,” said Mr. Esakon, “but you’re going to be imprisoned either way.” He grabbed my hand and dragged me back to the telecloner as I struggled to break free. What could I do? I couldn’t go into the telecloner! Desperately trying to escape, I kicked him between his legs. He howled, clutching his groin, as I dashed to the window and hopped out.
Remembering Miss Krystal’s words, “If your name falls into a member’s hands, you’d have to go far away,” I ran as far away from the school as possible. I could not go back there again…not now, and possibly not ever.

Chapter 6

Over the next week, Blessed and Cursed Ones did indeed start disappearing from my classes. Kirsten, the Blessed One with Crisstareenaywebdermotti as her patron, was the first to disappear. Laura was also one of the people who had disappeared, as well as other people who I didn’t quite remember.
While the disappearances were happening, the school had finally found a permanent principal. Our other principal was just an interim principal. “Please give Mr. Esakon a warm Cayshun High welcome!” said the student council member who announced during homeroom that day. As was customary when a new principal arrived, the students would be called to the principal’s office one at a time for introductions, discussions about our academics and extracurriculars, and anything else we might want to add—I highly doubted that anyone actually did add anything, except for some of the brown-nosers—with the whole process taking five to ten minutes. I honestly do not know why we do this; whenever I talked to the principal because of this tradition, the principal always looked bored, and I was definitely bored, too.
“Okay, class,” said Mr. Sifuhn. “As you know, we have a new principal and, well, you know the traditions for that. While we are waiting for the first call slip, let’s start learning more physics!” His pen was about to mark the board when a nervous-looking office assistant entered our classroom. He was probably nervous because of his tardiness; the job of being an office assistant was not particularly nerve-wracking. If anything, it was incredibly boring. When I was an office assistant last year, all I did was file papers and deliver call slips. Usually, the call slips were for students who the counselors wanted to see, though when the new interim principal came, I was delivering far more call slips and they were for students who needed to see the principal. “I-I’m sorry I’m l-late, Mr. S-sifuhn,” stuttered the student. “H-here’s the c-call slip.” And the student quickly disappeared.
Mr. Sifuhn looked at the call slip and said, “Megan, you’re wanted by Mr. Esakon. I’m sure you’ll give him a wonderful first impression of this class!” Megan smiled and, taking the call slip, strode off to the principal’s office.
“Now, would you all please open up your notebooks? We’ve got a very yummy lecture to get through!” said Mr. Sifuhn. I grabbed my notebook. It was only November and already the top of the cover was disconnecting from the spiral spine. I turned to a fresh page in the notebook, and started writing. I doodled more than I wrote, though. We were reviewing velocity, and I remembered a lot about it from eighth grade and from math class.
About five minutes into the lecture, Megan plodded into the class. There was something…different about her, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. “Oh, welcome back, Megan. Please do take a seat. I’m afraid you’ve missed part of a wonderful lecture on velocity—”
“I could care less about this physics crap, you [unprintable word]!” said Megan. Everyone gasped. “Uh, I mean, awww! I love learning about physics! But the principal was really nice, so it almost made up for those five minutes of that exciting lecture!” said Megan, cheerfully.
“O-okay, then.” Mr. Sifuhn looked at the door. “Oh, the office assistant isn’t here—never mind. Thank you!” he said when the office assistant arrived. “It looks like it’s your turn, Silvia!” Silvia stood up, gingerly held the call slip, and timidly walked over to the principal’s office. Class continued as normal.
I looked at Megan. She seemed like herself now, but those words that came out of her mouth before…they weren’t words Megan would say. The unprintable word was definitely a word that Megan, or any of the Extremely Blessed Ones with the CMN of a good god or goddess, was incapable of even knowing. If someone tried to explain what the word was to an Extremely Blessed One, the Extremely Blessed One would forget what that someone said right after the Blessed One understood what the word was. It didn’t matter how many times anyone tried to expose a Blessed One to, or even submerge him or her in, bad influences; the Blessed One would never lose his or her naivety. So how had Megan lost hers?
Maybe I was just overreacting. Maybe theology class was wrong, and it was possible for an Extremely Blessed One to lose his or her naivety. Or maybe I had just imagined the whole thing. I was having a hard time convincing myself of that, though.
I did become more and more willing to dismiss my worries about Megan as I noticed that no one else had been affected after coming back from the principal’s office. I then concentrated more on the lecture. Mr. Sifuhn had now moved on to a more interesting part of his lecture. THUD! His white board marker slipped. “Do excuse my clumsiness,” said Mr. Sifuhn. “I’m sorry I had to interrupt such an interesting part of my lec—ah, Jennifer? What are you doing?” Jennifer had just returned from the principal’s office and was now picking up Mr. Sifuhn’s blue marker. “Here you go, Mr. Sifuhn. Please go on with your lecture,” she said, smiling. When she noticed everyone’s surprised looks, she barked, “What?! I can be nice if I want to!”
That was completely wrong. She couldn’t even want to be nice. She was raised under the Influence of Jenisifydincneiwa, and she couldn’t escape from it.
Something was terribly wrong.
All of the Regulars were the same as they were when they went into the principal’s office, but every one of the Blessed or Cursed had changed. Was this what the EIS did to their Blessed and Cursed captives? But how could they defy the will of the gods?
Mr. Sifuhn’s voice snapped me out of my reverie. “Anita,” he said, “it’s your turn to go to the principal’s office.”

Chapter 5

The sun glared down at me as I walked over to the tree that I called my home. It must have been around ninety degrees Froondscorch (about 105 degrees Fahrenheit), which was odd; as it was November, part of the season of Faelafl. I could have sworn my arm had darkened by a few shades. I didn’t have too much homework left, so I could study ahead for Physics Honors and Advanced Yordstap History. I only read ahead in the subjects I enjoyed. Why would I torture myself with subjects I hated? I’d rather learn about acceleration than sines and cosines. I also was sure that Mr. Sifuhn was furious when he had to give me good grades in his class, as he’d glare at me as he handed me back my quizzes which had earned high A’s under his scrutinizing eyes. A part of me just enjoyed infuriating the prejudiced science teacher by earning higher grades than, according to him, what “should be earned by scum” like me.
When I reached my tree, I noticed a figure by it. He or she was obscured by the shadows, so I couldn’t tell who exactly he or she was. I looked for something to use as a weapon. What if this person was one of the people responsible for the disappearances of the fifty Blessed and Cursed people? I hid on the other side of the tree and reached for the lowest branch. Unfortunately, branches don’t snap very quietly. The figure stirred upon hearing the snap! of my tree branch weapon.
“Hello, Anita!” chimed a familiar voice. I clutched my branch, still unsure of whether the figure was really who I thought he or she was. The figure emerged from the shadows, revealing herself to be…
“Miss Krystal?!” I exclaimed, shocked at the site of my kindergarten teacher. What was she doing here? And how had she figured out my new place of residence? “Yes, it’s me,” said Miss Krystal, grinning. “And you can drop that branch, now. I promise I won’t hurt you.” I noticed that I was still clutching on to my branch weapon, and so I flung it down, hastily. “I’m surprised you came to visit, Miss Krystal,” I remarked. “Want an apple? Heh, sorry I don’t have such a variety of food.”
“So, you’ve officially been kicked out of your house, huh?” said Miss Krystal.
“Yup. My parents don’t care that I’m not evil anymore…they just—”
“…don’t want the taint on their reputation,” finished Miss Krystal.
“Uh-huh,” I said.
“So, how exactly did you turn evil? I’ve been wondering,” said Miss Krystal. I began to explain.
Losing Jasmine’s support had been a hard blow to my perseverance in trying to fulfill my promise. It was especially hard now that Jasmine kept taunting and bullying me by trashing my homework and dumping my already pitiful lunch in the trash or on my head. The random visions of Anilokalmosia calling me over to the dark side (because apparently thirteen was the expected age of the “fulfillment” of a Cursed child’s destiny, and if the destiny wasn’t fulfilled by then, the gods got concerned) that had been haunting my dreams and my real life didn’t help much, either. The visions were pretty annoying, and I was always disturbed by how skimpy Anilokalmosia’s clothing was. She was the Goddess of Seduction, but no one, not even the most immodest seductress, should be wearing anything that skimpy. I still shudder thinking about it. Still, I held on to my values and managed to keep them for about a year.
Until that day…
It was snack, and I sat near my next class, reading my science textbook since I hadn’t any novels handy. I found the VSEPR model fascinating; it was really nice to have a way to model atoms. I also read about intermolecular attraction. Water really was something special. Its intermolecular attractions were rather strong. I loved how chemistry could help us look at such mundane ideas as water’s high surface tension in a different way. Now I knew that the surface tension could be attributed to water’s strong IMAs.
Suddenly, I felt a shadow loom over me. I looked up to see a group of Regulars, three boys and two girls, staring down at me. I leapt to my feet, ready to defend myself. One of the boys socked me in the stomach. I punched him in the jaw, and soon, I was receiving multiple punches while delivering some more with the same speed.
“STOP!” We all turned toward the voice. A teacher, Mrs. Yarsip, was glaring at us, with Laura standing next to her, smiling smugly. “You five,” she gestured at the Regulars, “may go to your classes. Anita, you’re coming with me.”
Later, I walked home from school, limping because of the especially bad fight I had had. I was the one who had gotten in trouble, of course, because if a Regular and a Cursed One get into a fight, the Cursed One is always blamed. My parents had neglected to pick me up again, so I had to walk home. I was huffing as soon as I had reached my house and I weakly tapped the door with the doorknocker.
My mother opened it, surprisingly promptly, and glared at me…more angrily than usual. She glared silently at me for what seemed like an eternity, blocking the door. Finally, she said, “This is the last straw.” She always said that. “I can’t believe you got into another fight. Another fight?! Why must you cause such ruckus? Isn’t it bad enough that you’re Cursed? Isn’t that enough trouble, enough embarrassment?” And she slammed the door in my face.
I sat on the steps just outside the door, not knowing what else to do. It wasn’t like I tried to get into trouble—heck, it wasn’t even my fault I was Cursed—but trouble always seemed to find me. The ability to be a trouble-magnet is definitely included in the Being Cursed Package.
Why was I always being blamed for things I didn’t do? Why did I have to suffer because of someone else’s mistakes? That was just the story of my life, from my birth to probably my death. I was Cursed because of something my parents did, and from then on, I’d had to suffer the consequences of a fight I didn’t start, the consequences of being evil when I really wasn’t, and the punishments for a minor transgression that everyone else did, too.
“Why do you even try, Anita?” I turned to see an unwelcome and random vision of Anilokalmosia. Why were the gods so interested in making us Cursed evil sooner? But if, of course, the evil gods were behind these visions, that would make sense. I closed my eyes, but the vision is there, behind my eyelids. That was a tad creepy, so I opened my eyes. “As I was saying, why do you even try to be good, anyway?” asked Annie. “No one gives you any respect. Your own parents don’t give you respect! Your goodness goes ignored by everyone, and you get punished for things you didn’t do. So what’s the point of being good?” Any other day, I might have had a good response to that, but I had been so beat down that day that I relented. I gave up and finally fell under the Influence of Anilokalmosia.
“So that pretty much sums it up,” I concluded, my mind snapping back to the present. “If only that day hadn’t been so horrible! I wouldn’t have fallen under the Influence.”
“You still would have gone under the Influence some day,” replied Miss Krystal. “In any case, you did much better than me. I went under when I was eleven. You’ve definitely got a lot of willpower.”
“Thank you,” I said, positive I would have been blushing had my skin been a little lighter. “So, why are you here, Miss Krystal?”
“I did want to see how you were doing,” she replied, “but that’s not the main reason. I’ve been trying to inform all of the Blessed and Cursed around the city of Iocterrs about the mysterious disappearances of the fifty Blessed and Cursed in Rirsocet County.”
“I’ve heard about that.”
“I thought Channel 101 was suffering from technical difficulties?”
“Oh, I didn’t learn about it from there. Mrs. Elralehimeshym had turned on the radio during detention, so I heard about it there.”
“Did you hear about the suspects?”
“No…there are suspects?”
“Yes. It’s suspected that the Everyone Is Special group, also known as the Pro-Regulars, are behind the disappearances. They have called the Blessed and the Cursed abominations before, and believe that the Regulars are the only ‘true’ humans. You’ve heard of the EIS, right?”
“Yeah, I have, in history class. I thought they died out?”
“They were dead for a while. But the group has been reviving. According to Channel 7 News, the new president of the EIS made a rallying speech just a week ago.”
“That’s…really bad. Why do you think they’ve risen again?”
“Probably due to the increase in crime rates. I guess the EIS thinks that if we Cursed and the Blessed are eliminated, the crime rate would go down.”
“But that’s not fair! That’s…that’s discrimination!”
“I know. But there’s not much we can do about it. So I want you to be careful. You never know who is in the EIS. If your name falls into a member’s hands, you’d have to go far away, and I don’t want that. So please, be careful, Anita. I’ve been trying to keep my real name especially a secret now that the EIS is on the loose.”
I gulped. “I will, Miss Krystal. What are they…doing to the Blessed and Cursed they have already?”
“I don’t really want to think about it. Whatever they’re doing, it’s bound to be bad.” Miss Krystal got up to leave. “I hope you manage to find decent shelter sometime soon. I wish I could take you with me to live in my apartment, but it’s only meant for one person.”
“That’s okay, Miss Krystal. It really means a lot to me that you actually looked for the tree that I now live at and bothered to wonder about my well-being, and that you have always cared about me, even though I’m not your responsibility anymore.” Miss Krystal was the only teacher I had ever known who had actually tried to keep in touch with me after I was promoted from her class. We hugged, and then Miss Krystal left. I plucked an apple off of my tree and munched on it. While eating, I glanced at my money stash in my wallet and counted it. Five sythers and fifteen centisythers—just enough to buy two school lunches. I was really going to have to earn money, or maybe I’d just bring apples to school as a lunch.
I suddenly remembered Miss Krystal’s words. You never know who is in the EIS. What if there were members at my school? I shuddered and tried to drown my worries out with the munching of my apple.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chapter 4

During homeroom the next day, as I sat at my isolated desk, Megan came over and said, “I asked my parents, and they said no.” She sighed. “I even told them that you weren’t evil anymore, but they still said they couldn’t have you in our home.”
“Eh, it’s okay. Honestly, I’m not surprised,” I told her.
“No, it’s not! You have to have somewhere to live!”
“At least I’m better off than the people who live out on the street.”
“So, you don’t live on the street? You have shelter?!” Megan let out a sigh of relief.
“Yup, I, uh, live under a tree,” I said.
“Oh, Anita, that doesn’t count!” she exclaimed, worry returning to her face.
“Well, I’m okay—” I was interrupted by my science teacher, Mr. Sifuhn, who was also my homeroom teacher since he’s my third period teacher. “Anita, your name is no excuse for such misbehavior!” he boomed. “You know you aren’t supposed to talk during the announcements!” Of course I knew that, but, like everyone else, I never paid much attention to that rule. I never could hear the announcements, no matter whether I talked or not. “For that transgression, you get an hour detention after school today!” concluded Mr. Sifuhn. The room was silent for thirty seconds, as it always was after someone was punished for talking, but afterward, the silence collapsed into whispers, which elevated to regular talking, which turned into shouts. And Mr. Sifuhn did nothing about it. I didn’t expect him to, either. He was extremely prejudiced against the Cursed, and he blatantly showed it by giving the Blessed mostly undeserved rewards and the Cursed mostly undeserved punishments. I always got detentions for the tiniest mistakes or for nothing at all. This didn’t just happen in Mr. Sifuhn’s class; almost all of my teachers gave those kinds of detentions, but not as frequently as Mr. Sifuhn. “Mr. Sifuhn,” said Megan suddenly, “you shouldn’t punish Anita. I started the conversation. If she got punished, then I should, too!”
“Oh, Megan, I’m sure it wasn’t your fault,” he said, smiling. “And for trying to take the blame for something that clearly wasn’t your fault, you may take some candy as a reward.” He gestured for her to come up to the candy bowl. Megan objected, so he came over to her desk and placed a pile of colorful candy on it. “Your candy is waiting for you on your desk,” he said. Megan went to her desk, scooped up the candy, and gave the candy to me. “I don’t want the candy. You can have it, if you want,” she explained.
Ding dong ding! “That’s the announcement bell! Listen to the announcement!” said Mr. Sifuhn. A student council member who had announced the usual homeroom announcements spoke over the intercom. “There will be no Channel 101 today due to technical difficulties.” The intercom clicked off. How typical. The main television that controlled all the other televisions always broke down while playing Channel 101 News. “So, I guess that means we can start learning about physics earlier!” said Mr. Sifuhn. The class groaned.  
At three o’clock sharp, I strode over to Room 33 where a group of about thirty students were seated. Some looked nervous—Regulars, I bet—while others were bored or upset. I took my seat just as Mrs. Elralehimeshym, my rather hefty redheaded Advanced Yordstap History teacher, said in her shrill voice, “Okay, you hooligans! I don’t want to be here as much as you do, so be quiet! I have tests to grade.” She took a stack of essays and placed it on her desk, but didn’t touch it afterward and read her book.
I never minded detention that much. In fact, I almost enjoyed it. In the past, it had been a good way to stay away from my parents, and now it just gave me decent shelter for longer. While the tree did give me, literally, a roof over my head, it didn’t have any walls to keep the cold out, so I was always shivering.  I took out my homework and decided to work on precalculus homework first. We were working on trigonometry, which I found rather difficult since I had forgotten much of what I had learned about it last year. I hate math.
Mrs. Elralehimeshym, bored by her book, turned on the radio to listen to the news. I wasn’t interested in anything that was on the news, so I continued with my homework. Stupid trigonometry!  But I was going to understand this! I just needed an epiphany. Where was that epiphany? But the epiphany didn’t come, no matter how much I begged it to appear. I looked through my math book to try to understand inverse circular functions and what the heck arcsin x was. Oh! So arcsin x was just another way to say sin-1x. Why did we need to know this crap anyway? Finally getting some part of what we had learned in today’s trigonometry lesson, I slowly managed to finish my precalc homework, cursing whoever had thought of trigonometry after every problem. I then took my tattered copy of The Complete History of Yordstap (our school had been suffering from budget cuts) and read about the Trafilnarian (Trafilnaria is one of the 37 Districts) rebellion started by the Cursed population for more rights. I liked history. I liked learning about the past and analyzing it. It’s amazing how one little thing could change so much. For instance, if the Trafilnarian rebels had not had a traitor amongst them, they might have won more rights for us Cursed people. Currently, we couldn’t even vote, since we “rogues” would vote for a “rogue” president. And if my parents hadn’t tried to steal the Anvil of Crisstareenaywebdermotti, my life would have been in a much better condition than it was in now. I definitely wouldn’t have the vile name I was unfortunately stuck with. “…and this headline should really alarm the Blessed and Cursed,” said the radio, catching my and about three-fourths of the detention-servers’ attention. “A series of about fifty mysterious disappearances has occurred around Rirsocet County, and the missing people, without fail, were either one of the Blessed or Cursed.” The reporter then interviewed families and friends of the missing people. I noticed that only families and friends of the missing Blessed were interviewed, but I tuned out the interviews themselves. Rirsocet County…that was my county! What was happening? Why were all the disappeared people specifically Blessed or Cursed? I could sort of understand why the Cursed were vanishing—no one liked us much, anyway, so why wouldn’t anyone try getting rid of us—but the Blessed? I figured that their disappearances may have been driven by jealousy. Why did this have to happen? I hadn’t seen any Blessed or Cursed people disappear yet, but I was sure the situation wouldn’t stay that way for long.
Mrs. Elralehimeshym quickly turned off the radio to reduce agitation, I supposed, but all of us Cursed were visibly quaking. If fifty of the Blessed and Cursed had disappeared already, what would stop whoever had taken them from taking us?

Chapter 3

I first met Jasmine back in kindergarten. I entered kindergarten already knowing how to read and write because my parents felt that if I was going to be “the scum of society,” I might as well be “educated scum.” Teaching me how to read is probably the only good thing my parents have ever done for me. They gave me a way of escape from my tormented life, even if I always had to return to it in the end.
The parents were supposed to accompany their children into the kindergarten classroom so that the teacher could tell them all about kindergarten, show them the “Early Bird” (which started at 8:00 AM but ended at 12PM) and “Late Bird” (which started at 12PM but ended at 4PM) schedules, and basically help them help their children with this “giant leap into independence.” Of course my parents didn’t come; they didn’t want to be seen with me, after all.
I had no idea about my curse and the prejudice directed toward “my kind” at the time; I’d always figured that every kid had been treated the way I had been. So I was quite surprised when, as soon as I sat down at a round table, one of the parents would ask, “What’s your name, sweetie?” in a really nice way, but as soon as I said my name, the parent would stare at me, revolted, and shoo me away, saying that “my child can’t be corrupted by dirt like you!” After multiple repeats of this incident, I gave up, dejected and confused, and sat on the floor next to the back wall of the classroom. I looked down at the floor, wanting to cry but conditioned not to by my parents repeated smacks. The kindergarten teacher, Miss Krystal (kindergarteners were allowed to call their teachers by their first names), walked up to a shivering me and asked, “What is the matter?” I told her about all the hatred I had felt that day and let a tear slide down my cheek. I quickly covered the tear, worried that Miss Krystal would see it and would hit me, like my parents so often did. Instead, she crooned, “Oh, you poor girl. You can cry it all out…” And then, the dam broke, and the next thing I knew, I was sobbing on Miss Krystal’s lap. “I don’t…understand why every…everybody ha-hates me a-and why nobody wants…wants to sit next to me!” I said, between sniffs.
“Well, you see, people don’t like some people with certain names because they think those people are bad. Now, some of those people with those names actually are bad, but the other people, like you, are not bad at all. But people don’t know that, and they won’t believe people like you when they try to tell them that they are actually good,” explained Miss Krystal.
“So, there are other people that they hate? It’s not just me?”
“No, of course not! I was also hated back when I was a child.” Miss Krystal’s name had originally been Mina, which, as I later learned in theology classes, was a derivative of Jazmeeneoheima’s, the goddess of sickness, viruses, parasites, and the like, Chosen Mortal Name, Jasmine. “I’m hiding my real name from everybody because otherwise, no one would let me teach,” concluded Miss Krystal. She also added that I would learn more about the significance of certain names later. “But now, we’ll have to find you a seat,” she remarked. She led me to a round table next to a girl with short brown hair. She, like me, was without a parent. “Jasmine, is it okay if Anita sits next to you?” asked Miss Krystal. Jasmine looked up at me and grinned excitedly. “Yay! Someone is going to sit with me!” Miss Krystal smiled and walked back up to the front of the class.
“So, your mommy and daddy didn’t come either?” I asked.
“Nope!” said Jasmine. “They said that they didn’t want to be with me or something. Ooh, look! Miss Krystal has crayons!” Indeed she did, and she passed out paper and crayons to all the students, asking them to draw a picture of their desk and their neighbors. “Do you want to draw me first?” asked Jasmine. “Or should I draw you first?”
“You can draw me first,” I said. “But use purple for the shirt. My purple shirt is my favoritest, but my mommy said that I can’t wear it today.”
“You like purple?” said Jasmine. “I like purple, too! Want to be friends?” I nodded, and grinned. I was glad to have a friend.
Our friendship fleshed out enough to not be solely based on our favorite color. We often hung out at the park, had conversations that could last for hours, and played board games (which Jasmine was always remarkably good at). But, most importantly, when we came to know of our curses through theology class, we helped each other withstand the daily barrage of insults and, in Jasmine’s case, physical violence.
“Hey, Anita,” said Jasmine one day in fifth grade. “Let’s make a promise.”
“Uh, sure,” I said. “But what promise?”
“Let’s promise that we won’t become evil until we’re twenty. We’ll prove to everybody that, even though our fate is determined by the gods, we can have some control over when we become evil. In fact,” her face lit up, “let’s be so nice to prove that we can be nice, no matter what our names are! Pinky promise?”
“Pinky promise,” I said, intertwining my pinky with hers and sealing the deal.
So from that day onward, we tried our very hardest to be nice as much as possible. Of course, if one of us was being bullied, that was a different story.
Later in fifth grade, as my class was being let out for recess, I searched for Jasmine. Where did she disappear off to? I searched in the playground, by the swing set, and even by the lunch tables. Finally, I sat on the table (as opposed to the seat) of an orange lunch table. Something felt sticky. I lifted my rear up and realized that I had sat in some cafeteria goop that hadn’t been cleaned off. I jumped off the table and wiped my pants, frantically trying to get the junk off. As I did so, I saw Jasmine behind the fence that separated the playground from the lunch tables yelling at two other boys, a tall brown-haired boy and a shorter black-haired boy, who were yelling back at her. I raced to the fence and jumped over (the fence wasn’t that high, anyhow). “Hey! Leave her alone!” I yelled.
“Why should we listen to lowly dirt like you?” sneered one of the boys. “’Cuz if you’re friends with people like her,” he pointed a finger at Jasmine, “you’re dirt, too!”
“Yeah!” said the shorter boy. “What he said!”
“Just go away!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah, just go away! We don’t want you here!” said Jasmine. Suddenly, the taller boy kicked her. “Dirty scum! You belong on the dirt, just like my daddy always says!” I tensed, ready to attack him. I wished I didn’t have to resort to violence, but what choice did I have? But then the boy said something that threw me off track completely.
“People like you shouldn’t even be called people! You have no conscience; you can’t tell right from wrong! You’re no better than…than animals!”
I was shocked. How could he say something like that? Being called scum and dirt and a corruption to society were what I was used to, but questioning our humanity? I did have a conscience, and so did Jasmine. Why, those boys were acting no better than the “animals” they claimed we were!
I trembled with fury. What nerve! How dare they insult us like this?! Suddenly, I felt a tingling and my eyes felt hotter than the gods’ auras when they were burning with rage. The world soon faded into darkness. I had just discovered my power to hypnotize.
All people with the CMNs of gods and goddesses have some of their powers. Mind you, these powers aren’t overly awesome, and how effective they are depends on how close a person’s name is to the CMN of their patron god. Jasmine, for instance, can give people diseases (as she has the CMN of the goddess of illness) easily no matter where they are. My kindergarten teacher, Miss Krystal, however, can only give people illnesses if she really concentrates, and she is often too exhausted to do anything else, if she is still conscious.
Because my name is similar to the CMN of Anilokalmosia, who is the Goddess of Hypnotism, Deceit, and Seduction, I can hypnotize people. However, I always faint afterward, so, if I want to get people to do stuff for me, I have say what I want them to do quickly, or else all I do is leave them in a trance. You’d think the gods would have a little sympathy for the “cursed,” or would want to bless the “blessed” more with better and more epic powers, but that’s just not the way things work.
I had no idea about my power of hypnotism because my parents would never talk about my curse and my theology classes only focused on the powers of the “blessed children.” Because of that, I had always assumed that only the “blessed” got special powers.
When I finally came to, I was still on the asphalt with a concerned Jasmine standing over me. “What happened?” asked Jasmine. “You were just defending me, and then the tall boy said something about us being animals…and then you were mad and your eyes glowed and then you collapsed!”
“I don’t know—wait, glowed?” I asked.
“Yeah, really bright red! Did you…go under the Influence or something?”
“I don’t know…” I really wanted to change the subject. I had learned that a faint red glow in someone’s eyes indicated that they were under the Influence, and I wasn’t sure if that was what happened to me. I hoped not; I didn’t want to be evil, not now, when I was only ten. “So, what happened while I was out?”
According to Jasmine, while I was out cold, Jasmine had been able to clobber the taller boy because he was in a trance, and the shorter boy had run away, yelling something about an apocalypse and evil winning. He wasn’t really understandable because he was yelling that while crying.
From that day on, violence wasn’t my last resort; it was my second-to-last resort. My ultimate last resort was hypnotism. I don’t exactly enjoy fainting. Not only does it make me feel vulnerable, but it also makes me feel disoriented afterward.
Jasmine discovered her power to give people illnesses that same week. We made sure to keep our discoveries secret because we figured we’d be treated worst now that we were “dangerous.” We managed to get through the next two years without turning to evil, and it didn’t look like anything could get in the way of fulfilling our promises.
School had just ended for the week, and I had a weekend to look forward to. I really didn’t like weekends because they forced me to spend more time with my parents. I was waiting on the grass right in front of our school. My parents had “forgotten” to pick me up, as usual.
All of a sudden, I saw Jasmine with tearstains on her face. I got up, concerned. “Hey Jaz, what’s wro—?”
“I hate people!” she yelled. “Everyone’s so damn mean!”
“Well, plenty of people aren’t angels. That’s expected. You know that,” I replied.
“They keep thinking we’re menaces to society and evil and blah blah blah, which I find really weird because they’re the ones bullying us. But of course it doesn’t matter if we get bullied ‘cuz we’re cursed! We’re not even people! We’re just liabilities, blots! If we die, no one would come to our funerals! ‘Cuz we’re cursed!
I was getting concerned. Jasmine didn’t usually rant like this. She would usually just remark that people were annoying and stop there.
Jasmine continued ranting. “I don’t understand it at all! It’s like they want us to be evil or something! They want to see how long it takes us to break!
“And you know what, Anita? They’ve won! Since they think I’m a menace to society, I’ll be a menace to society! What’s the point in trying to prove them wrong? They’ll never believe us scum! Yeah, that’s it, I’ll succumb! I’ll become evil, and I JUST HOPE THEY’RE SATISFIED!”
“Wh-what?! You can’t succumb to the Influence! In fact, we should be trying to show people that they can’t break us!” I said.
“It’s no use. Is there even a point in trying to fight?” said Jasmine, forlornly. “Do you know Jennifer?”
“Yeah,” I said, “but what does she have to do with anything?” Jennifer was another person cursed with the CMN of an evil goddess, Jenisifydincneiwa.
“She’s lucky. She was raised evil, so no one bothers her! It’s because she has done what society wants her to do.” That was true. Jennifer’s parents were truly evil, so evil, it’s rumored, that they rejoiced upon hearing that their daughter was to be cursed. They made it a point to ensure that she would have not even an ounce of goodness.
“That’s not why people don’t bother her. It’s because they’re scared of her!” I argued. Right after uttering those words, I realized what a horrible argument that was.
“Exactly! See? At least we’ll be able to intimidate people. I’m tired of fighting. And, hey, we can be evil together, right?”
“No! Not at all because I’m not going to succumb! I’m keeping my promise. I’m going to prove to people and the gods that I’m in charge of when my ‘destiny’ happens, that I have principles and want to stick to them! And I just don’t want to be evil. I really don’t. Please don’t give in, Jaz. Please don’t!”
Jasmine sighed. “Look, your decision is your decision, and my decision is mine. If you decide to be good, that’s okay with me. It’s not my place to tell you otherwise. But I figure that if I’m going to be evil anyway, what’s the point of delaying it? So, that’s that. I’m killing the next person who tries to harass me, and I’ll steal and rob, whatever it takes to go under the Influence. I’m tired of waiting!” And that was the last time I saw her as my friend. The next week, she was completely foreign to me. She lived on the evil side of town, in special apartments reserved for people under the evil Influence of their patron gods. She hung out with all the evil people at school and derided me for being a “goody-two-shoes.” Strangely enough, she was the only evil person who taunted me. All the others just left me alone.  

Chapter 2

After sleeping under an apple tree far away from my old home, I lifted my backpack onto my back and started for school. I sneezed multiple times along the way. I must have caught a cold during that heavy rain last night. It wasn’t raining anymore, but big puddles still remained.
The sky was clear enough for me to see the mountains off in the distance, just like it usually is after a rain. Rain is usually so depressing, but it’s really ironic how it can produce such pretty sights as clear views of mountains and rainbows. That’s why I like rainy weather. I don’t like the rain per se, but I do like how I can know that it won’t last forever and will even make everything seem so much happier and brighter.
I walked into my school, a large brick building that greeted me with the bright painted words, “Edna A. Cayshun Secondary School.” I slid my ID card through the card slot next to the doors, and the doors swung open. That was for safety measures, supposedly, although I don’t know who would want to break into a school.
After a few minutes of frantic searching through the halls, I found Room 20 and walked inside.  Most students ignored me, while others stared at me, frightened, and a token few gave me smug looks, namely, Laura and her cronies. Laura thinks she’s really great because of her name, which, while it might have more credence here than in other worlds, is rather ridiculous.
Names are really important here in Planet Stroavrel. Well, for people with normal names that are not based on the Chosen Mortal Names of the gods or goddesses, names don’t really matter. But for people like me who either have the actual CMNs or some derivative of them, our names affect so much of our lives.
I noticed Megan walking into the classroom, greeting everyone with a smile. Many people greeted her back, smiling…except for the evil people, who scowled. But then again, they scowled at everybody and everything good. And Megan was the epitome of niceness. However, she was also a bit na├»ve, which did get a bit annoying at times, though it was of no fault of her own. Her parents were extremely pious, so the gods blessed Megan by naming her the Chosen Mortal Name of Meegurncvbewa, the goddess of intelligence. People like Megan basically could only do good deeds and were impervious to bad influences, so their parents loved them since these children showed the parents’ piety, and most people like these children because they’re good influences (though there are a few people who dislike the people with good gods’ CMNs because they’re too goody-two-shoes-like). I liked her, too, which was part of the reason why, when Anilokalmosia commanded me to kill her, I couldn’t bring myself to do it, which eroded some of the evil Influence of the goddess. Bad goddesses just can’t stand goodness and good people, and neither can their powers, apparently.
Megan interrupted my thoughts. “Hey, Anita,” she said. She then noted, “You look surprised.”
“Well, I hadn’t expected you to actually still be talking to me, ever since that, you know, killing incident…”
She laughed. “But that was before, and—huh, actually, I don’t know why… I mean, you’re ev—waiiit…your eyes! They no longer have that reddish glow! So, you’ve escaped the Influence of the evil goddess Annie? You’re good now?”
I grinned. “You’re the first to notice that.”
“Wow! I can’t believe it! It’s so hard for someone with a name based on the CMN of an evil goddess to escape the Influence of that goddess!” This wasn’t prejudiced; part of the curse of having a name derived from the CMN of an evil goddess is that, not only is that person doomed to become evil, but he or she will also have a hard time getting out of the evil Influence of his or her namesake. However, if the person does escape, he or she cannot be under the Influence again, but they could be influenced (with a lower case i), like any other person, through methods such as bribery and temptation. “Yeah, I did it,” I smiled.
“So you can live with your parents again, and they won’t maltreat you, right?” asked Megan. My smile faded. “Um, it doesn’t work that way, Megan,” I said. “My parents don’t care if I’m not doomed to be evil anymore. I’m a taint on their reputation. I’m the reminder of a past incident that they just want to forget. They don’t want me. No one wants me.” I turned away to hide the tears. Oh, gods, I was being such a crybaby recently. Crying never got anybody anything, except for those spoiled tots who get whatever they want.
Megan thought for a moment. “Maybe you could live at my place! It’s not right for you to be homeless and unloved! My parents will take you in, I’m sure!” She was obviously pleased with her idea. I didn’t want to shoot it down, but I had to. “I really don’t think your parents would want me, either. I’d taint their reputation, too, though I’m not their biological child. People just don’t want to be associated with me, Megan.” Megan opened her mouth to retort, but the bell for class rung, and Mrs. Lazam started teaching precalculus.
I walked through the halls to my usual eating spot under my locker. I was a loner, and that suited me just fine. Having friends would be nice, but they weren’t necessary. I couldn’t get friends, anyway, so why worry about it? Megan, who had been walking, suddenly stopped in front of me. “Hey, Anita, it would be nice if you joined us for lunch today! You always look so lonely sitting by yourself…”
“Naw, I’m fine. Being alone is rather peaceful.” I munched on the sandwich from the cafeteria. I was glad I had the foresight to pack some money in my backpack, but I had to get money somehow. Maybe I would try for a job. I took another bite. “Are you sure?” asked Megan. “Because you could always—”
I dismissed her concerns with a wave. “Don’t worry about it.” She always offered me a seat with her and her friends at lunch, but I always declined. Besides, it wasn’t like her friends would much appreciate my being there. Sure, the people with the CMNs of good gods and goddesses would be nice, but the other people who Megan hung out with wouldn’t be so joyous about my company.
“Okay, then…” Megan started to leave. “But remember that you can join us whenever you want, okay?” She walked off, and I continued to eat my lunch. Laura and her friends walked by, and Laura helped a little seventh grader who had nearly tripped. Laura’s name was a derivative of the goddess Scadoosh’s CMN, Alaura, so she had a stronger conscience and didn’t fall to misdeeds easily. However, she still wasn’t perfect. Her kindness, for instance, didn’t extend to “my kind.” Thankfully, she ignored me, so I could eat my lunch in peace.
I was about to take another bite when a voice rudely interrupted. “Hey, Anita. Saw you talking to Miss Goody-Two-Shoes two minutes ago. Are you guys friends now or something? Aren’t you supposed to be evil? I certainly did like you better that way.”
Without looking up, I replied, “Of course you liked me better then, Jazzy. You’re evil yourself. And yes, I was talking to Megan. She has a name, you know. She’s a perfectly nice person.”
Jasmine snorted. “That’s exactly the problem! She’s too nice…you can’t be seen with her! Where’s your evilness, ‘Nita?”
“It’s gone, Jazzy! I’m not evil anymore; haven’t you noticed?”
“Aw, damn. I was hoping that you were just cleverly disguising your evil or something.” Jasmine puffed on her cigarette. I avoided the smoke. “Gosh, Anita, I thought you were my friend. Some friend you turned out to be!” She walked off.
“That was four years ago, before you succumbed to Jasyncobvee’s evil Influence! I’m not your friend anymore, and I never will be, unless you miraculously become good again, which is highly improbable!” I yelled. But Jasmine was out of earshot. Stupid Jasmine always bugged me like this and disappeared before I could tell her that we were not friends anymore.
I wished she hadn’t succumbed to her “destiny” so soon. Why couldn’t she have waited? We had promised each other that we wouldn’t allow ourselves to fall under the Influence of our “patron” goddesses until we were at least twenty, but she quit before she turned thirteen. But I knew it wasn’t her fault. She had felt hopeless, even more so than I did because her torment made my life seem like butterflies and rainbows. She was one of the unfortunate people whose names were the CMNs of bad goddesses, and, not only was she spat at and insulted every day, but she was also shoved, kicked, and sometimes left with huge injuries. I’ve always found it odd that a society that hates evil so much would actually torment people enough to turn them to the dark side.

Chapter 1

Splut. I trudged through the puddles, carrying my heavy backpack as rain poured down faster than the speed of sound. The rain was getting my boots muddy, which grieved me a bit because they were already quite tattered. I wished I could get new boots or new clothes in general, but money was fairly scarce. There was no one else around; no one, after all, would be stupid enough to go out in this weather. Except for me. Krak-a-THOOM! Thunder. How awesomely convenient. I sighed, pulled my heavy coat around me, and picked up my pace. No way was I going to get struck by lightning. I prayed to the gods, though I didn’t really know why. They wouldn’t help me. I did get cursed by them after all. I really think the cursing the child of the miscreant policy that the gods have has more drawbacks than benefits, but that’s just me, I suppose.
I finally reached the place. I wiped my wet glasses on my shirt just to be sure I was really there. A deserted swing set stood to the right of the quaint abode, which was reminiscent of an American suburban house, or at least that’s what I learned at school. I’ve never been to America, or Earth, even. The perfectly trimmed lawn was in front of the perfect little flowers in the perfect little garden. The mat carried the faded words, “Welcome! Please wipe your feet.” I resisted the urge to snort. I knew I wouldn’t be welcome here. But I could hope…
I held the doorknocker. The wood felt smooth except for the intricate carvings of floral designs. I think it had been polished recently; it did have that feel and look. You don’t have to knock, said a voice in my head. You could always turn back. It sounded like a very good suggestion, and my feet turned away from the house. But I mustered all my courage. If I didn’t do this, I would always have that gnawing doubt in the back of my head, that annoying what if?
Knock knock knock! I tapped the door with the doorknocker. Water sloshed against the sidewalk as a small child jumped in all the puddles. Her mother was warning her against it, but the child continued. She threw off her umbrella and danced in the rain as her mother dragged her away, into some safe shelter. Ah, the innocence of childhood. Children did not know about the horrors of the world; they just saw its beauty and its fun. I looked back at the door of the quaint house and then used the doorknocker to hit the door harder. The door creaked slightly to reveal a woman with disheveled hair, a rumpled nightgown, and a smile that quickly turned into a frown when her brown eyes settled upon my bedraggled image. “Oh,” she said, disappointed. “It’s you.” I nodded.
“What’s going on, sweetie?” asked her husband, with his approximately eleven-year-old son trailed behind him. “That girl came back,” sputtered the woman. “She dared to come back!” Oh boy. This wasn’t looking good. I backed away. “Oh no, you’re not going anywhere,” said the man. “You wanted to come here, you stay here until we’re done with you.” I wondered what that was supposed to mean. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good.
“Why are you back, you dolt?” asked the eleven-year-old boy. “You were supposed to go away, but you came back!” I noticed that none of them bothered to address me by my name. It was partly to dehumanize me, but it was mainly because my name was not the best name in the universe. In other worlds, it would be okay, but here, in a land where names meant everything because they determined a good part of your destiny, so they were given by a deity, it was a curse from the gods.
“Anita,” spat the woman, finally addressing me by name, “why the hell are you here? We finally got rid of you, you fulfilled your destiny, if it can be called that, so why are you back? What made you think you would be accepted here?”
“I just thought,” I squeaked, “that, since I escaped from the hypnotism of the Goddess of Seduction Anilokalmosia, and thus I am no longer cursed to be evil since I already have been, that I would be allowed back in? I thought—”
“You thought wrong!” said the boy, and he slammed the door in my face. I waited a few seconds, as if I thought they would change their minds, and then trudged back to the sidewalk. When I reached the sidewalk, I walked to the curb and sat on it. I knew they wouldn’t take me back. I knew they wouldn’t. Why had I even bothered? Why did I want to feel the pain?
They’re a bunch of idiots, I thought, trying to assuage my sadness, but I burst into tears anyway. It hurts like hell to be rejected by your own family.

Prologue

A woman snuck into a marble building. Her bloated belly showed her pregnancy, her empty sack an intention of misdeed. A slender man followed her, sneaking in a similar fashion.
“Are you sure that we can do this?” asked the woman, worried. “The gods, Crisstareenaywebdermotti especially, they’ll—”
“Screw the gods,” said the man. “I’m not passing up such an awesome opportunity.”
“But the evil goddess Anilokalmosia gave that opportunity, and we can’t exactly trust her. And if we get caught?”
“If we’re quiet, there’s no way we’ll get caught!” stage whispered the man. “Now shush! We must find the Anvil of Crisstareenaywebdermotti’s regional minister.” The two darted through halls and corridors and trembled at the slightest sound. They reached dead end after dead end. “We’ll never find it!” said the woman with a sigh. “This isn’t worth the million dollar reward!”
“Of course it is!” said the man. “We need the money—and here is the room!” The diamond-studded door opened to a room full of jewels, maces, staffs, and many other items worth far more than one million dollars, all of which had been blessed with remarkable power. “There it is!” whispered the woman, pointing to the anvil. As the duo ran, however, the woman tripped. THUD! Guards swarmed out of nowhere. “Cease! Desist!” they cried. Suddenly, a glowing brunette with a ponytail and a dress appeared. “The Great Goddess Crisstareenaywebdermotti!” exclaimed the man and woman, as they bowed.
“Enough of your fake reverence!” shouted Crisstareenaywebdermotti. “You were trying to steal the sacred anvil, and for the goddess Annie?! Shame on both of you!” Annie was the Chosen Mortal Name (CMN) of Anilokalmosia. “For this, you must be cursed.” The man and woman gulped. Upon seeing the woman’s pregnant belly, Crisstareenaywebdermotti declared, “Your child will be cursed! Come naming time, she will get a name close to the CMN of Anilokalmosia, since you obviously support that goddess greatly!” She paused. “However,” she added in a softer voice, “she won’t get the actual name, as you only attempted to steal something from a regional minister as opposed to, well, me. So, your child will not be doomed to stay evil forever. But she will be evil once in her life, due to her to-be-assigned name. So consider yourselves grateful. I’m in a pleasant mood today.”
“Oh thank you, oh great goddess Crisstareenaywebdermotti,” said the man and woman, ecstatically. “We have learned from our mistake. We won’t do it again, we promise!” They hurried out.
A few months later, the baby was born. She was named Anita.