I think maybe I would have believed her at first. Maybe. But after everything that had happened, I found it really difficult to give her one lick of trust. I mean seriously. She had stabbed in the back. Almost literally, too. Well, how should I put this? Anne had never been what one would call normal. She was eccentric, weird, and everyone knew it. Even she did. But anyway, my point is that she had always been strange, always believed things that others took for rumors or fantasy. She had an unnatural craving for anything of the supernatural. People avoided her; it was like one of the laws of nature, like gravity and whatnot.

I don't know. Maybe it wasn't even because of her tendency to horror and vampires and werewolves and all that crap. Maybe it was because she had an air of…something about her. Something that people could sense, so they steered clear of her. I had sensed it. Sort of. When I had first felt if, Anne had been at the beach, stretched out on a beach towel. I remember looking at her and feeling myself somehow drawn to her. It wasn't that she was beautiful. Actually, she wasn't even pretty. Anne was a plain girl. Too straight light brown hair, dull green eyes that stared with too much intensity. Thin lips that always seemed to be constantly pressed into a grimace. Freckles across her face as if someone had flicked mud on her and it had never come off. Her face was too thin, eyes too close together. And the way she stood, hunched over a bit, was unnatural.

But, like I was saying, something about her drew me closer, across the beach, my bare feet sinking into the sand with each step I took. When I had reached her, she looked up at me, that grimace that practically defined her instantly appearing. I wanted to turn around right then and there. I wanted to just walk away and hope no one had seen me so close to Anne the Freak. And I was about to leave too. I had lifted my foot and was starting to turn, but something in her face, her eyes, stopped me dead in my tracks. I looked at her more closely. I opened my mouth to say something, what I am not sure, but I figured that I couldn't let the silence go on, but Anne spoke first.

"You're like me," she said, eyes wide, a hesitant smile on her lips that was so…perfect…that it almost made up for the rest of her plain, drab features.


She looked around at the other people on the beach. Not one of them was paying attention to us, most too busy enjoying the sun or the water to notice me talking to Anne. I almost wished that someone would notice so that I would have an excuse to leave. But, of course, luck was not with me, so I was forced to listen to what Anne had to say.

She sat up, pulling her thin, lanky legs beneath her. She patted the spot next to her, and only after a couple seconds of internal debate I sat down on the beach towel, legs stretched out across the sand. Anne ran her tongue over her lips as she appraised me, and I could feel a shiver run down my spine. I'm not sure what it was about her, but she really gave me the creeps. She looked at me as if I was an experiment that really interested her, that delighted her.

"What do you want?" I finally asked, irritation leaking into my voice.

She was quiet for a moment as she laced her fingers together and stared down at them before looking back at me. "Do you feel it?"

"Feel what?"

"The Vibrations."

I rolled my eyes and stood back up. "This is ridiculous. I don't even know why I agreed to talk to you in the first place. You make no sense."

"Carson…" she trailed off and looked away, almost as if she was embarrassed.

"Look, Anne, I'm sorry. Okay? But I can't sit around and chat. I'm busy." With that I turned around and started across the sand.

"You will, Carson."

I groaned and looked back at her. "I know I shouldn't ask because I'll probably just regret it later, but I will what?"

Before answering, Anne stood up for one standing up completely straight and I surprised to see that she was actually taller than me. She stretched out her hand, palm up, her fingers trembling slightly. I stared at her dumbfounded, trying to figure out what the hell she was doing.

"The living have a definite Vibration," she said, locking eyes with me. "Not many people can feel it. You must have certain qualities, and without them you're deaf."

"Oh, God,"

"You don't believe me."

"Did you expect me to?"

She lowered her hand, but her gaze never left me. "You're different than the rest of them. They're blood Vibrates, yours Screams."

"You're an idiot. And I'm going now."

I spun away from her, stomping across the beach, slowly at first then I picked up speed until I was in a full run. When I had gotten far enough away from the beach, I slowed my pace to a walk. What Anne had said really bothered me in ways that was impossible to explain, no matter how hard I tried.

Yeah. So, that was the beginning. And, of course, I had known exactly what Anne had meant about Vibrations. I would never admit it to her, and maybe not even myself, but I knew. I had felt it thrumming in my blood, heard it hissing in my ears like static or humming softly. It was a constant nerve-wracking presence that set my teeth on edge. The reason I was in denial, though, was because I didn't want to be anything like Anne. I didn't want to hear what she heard, see what she saw, or know what she knew. Why? Because I hated her. Okay, well, maybe not personally; she had never done anything to me, but everyone else hated her, and I was the kind of guy that went with the flow. I didn't want to stand out; I didn't want to be known as a freak, and so I decided it was best to shun Anne. Besides, she was use to it, right? So what damage did it really cause?

The answer to that question came the next day. School had just ended, and everyone was rushing home. As usual, I hung back as the flow of students stampeded out of the building and off the grounds. I had never wanted to try to maneuver through the crowds, a waste of energy in my opinion. So, instead I waited in the building by the lockers, trying to convince myself that I couldn't hear the Hum of everyone's blood as they passed me. But that was hard to do. Very hard. Whenever someone came too close to me, the Vibrations would be so intense that I had to clamp my jaw shut tight and dig my fingernails into my palms to keep myself from screaming or something else that would draw unwanted attention o me.

Once the school was empty of everyone except for me and the few teachers that still had work to do, I pushed myself away from the wall and headed towards the front door. Unfortunately, I was intercepted by a figure appearing from the shadows—no joke; that's seriously what it looked like. I took me a moment to realize that it was Anne, her brown hair disheveled, her eyes wide and rimmed with red. She looked like hell. Worse, maybe.

I took a stumbling step backwards, staring at her in shock. "A-Anne?"

She blinked and looked at me as if she hadn't noticed me standing there before. She ran her fingers through her snarled mass of hair. "Carson?" she said, voice trembling as if she were afraid, then a smile lit up her face, her dull eyes beginning to gleam in a way that really made her look beautiful.

I looked around for a moment before focusing on her again. "What are you doing here?"

"I came to find you."

I narrowed my eyes, though I didn't feel angry—or even upset—at all. The thing is, I was intrigued, but I didn't want to be. I wanted to be angry; I wanted to be furious, to hate her. "So, you're stalking me."

She grinned. "You're worthy of stalking."


"It should be flattering."

"You had a messed up childhood, didn't you?"

"Yes," she said, with a sad smile.

I stared at her for a moment before saying, "Oh. Sorry. I was just—."

"Don't bother. It doesn't matter anymore."

"But I shouldn't have—."

"I said, don't bother."

And so I fell silent, standing there awkwardly and trying not to stare at her. After a few tense moments, I couldn't take it anymore—yeah, I was never one for patience—and had to say something. "So…Anne…" Too bad I didn't know what to say.

"Yes, Carson?"


"You feel them?"

"What? No! I don't…" I looked away, biting my lip.

"Of course you do. All of the Livs can."

I turned to face her again, a questioning look on my face. "All of the what?"

"Livs. They're the members that make up the Hlif."

"Okay. You have totally lost me."

She frowned. "Do you…really not know? No one told you? Your parents…they should have known. They should have prepared you. Oh. This…this isn't good. Oh. Oh…"

"Look, Anne. I have to go. My parents will ground me if I'm late again."

"R-right. Sorry for keeping you."

I made a dash for the door, wanting to be out of there was quick as was humanly possible.