There is an octopus in my stomach and its tentacles are slithering around, brushing my skin and making the little hairs on my arms stand on end.

I'm standing on the edge of the building again, but this time I'm alone. The reason I've come suddenly escapes me.

I'm not leaning against the edge this time; I'm standing on the thick concrete perimeter , looking down at the world below me. From this distance, the patches of grass and concrete are wallpaper, the trees are pieces of broccoli and the moon is the only thing that looks big enough to be alive.

The octopus is gripping the edge of the building, trying to scale down the side. There's a small part of it that is terrified of the height, and it will do anything to get down. I need to tell it that I can't do down that way, but I find I can't speak.

I dig my feet into the ground but it only makes me be pulled forward until the majority of my weight is leaning over the edge. I grab around me to try and hold on to something, but all I can catch is air.

I fall.

I hit the ground much sooner than I would have expected to for how high of a building I had been standing on. I have a feeling I haven't fallen all that far, partly because I'm not dead. It takes me an embarrassingly long time to realize that the force that is wrapped around me is my comforter and that my feet are dug into my mattress and my upper body is on the floor of my bedroom. The "drama queen" pajamas (that anyone who sees will be silenced) that parents got me for my birthday are all twisted around me. And it's four in the morning.

I grumble and kick at the blanket (which just makes me stuck more) and pull myself up, knowing I won't be able to get back to sleep until it's time to get ready for school, so I decide to sit in the living room and watch television for a while.

The cool thing about TV when nobody else is awake is that the strangest things are being broadcasted. Some on purpose, for the potheads who stay up all night, but some unintentionally, like maybe they were produced in the middle of the night by the same insomniacs who would be up to watch them. There are the dirty adult programs that take over channels you wouldn't expect and lots of Japanese anime cartoons that all looks the same to me.

And of course there are the infomercials, which somehow become exponentially more interesting at four in the morning.

One for an exercise machine that always makes Johnny start laughing until he cries (the reason for this is beyond me) comes on, and I grab my phone to call him and tell him. But then I remember what time it is, and that Johnny is the heaviest sleeper in the whole of the earth and never wakes up until precisely six forty-seven a.m. and that he would just tell me how I should see a doctor about my sleeping problems if I were to call him at this hour, because Johnny is incredibly dull this way.

I flip to the weather channel to see what the temperature will be to find that it has just ended and the news has started again. Someone from the area is missing, blah, blah, blah, that seems to happen every day. I turn the TV off because I try to make a point of not listening to the news.

Utterly bored, I go ahead and get ready and then sit outside on our swinging bench until my mom, dad, and four younger siblings wake up. There are no sounds of cars and no flash of headlights; the only sound is the soft roar of crickets that echoes in the chilled air. I think that really the best part about being awake when everyone else is asleep, is that it's the only time I get to see everything being still. During the daylight, my house is chaos. But at night, I feel like the whole world belongs to me.

A few minutes before school starts, I'm in the back seat of Johnny's car, squished next to his best friend Cameron, as usual. As so often it works, we are running late, this time because Cameron's clawless cat had gotten out again, and we had spent a good twenty minutes calling for Muffin before finally finding that she had gone back inside his house of her own free will about two minutes after we'd started searching.

Where Johnny is disgracefully conventional, Cameron seems to be trying to compensate for it by being one of the most ridiculous people I have ever met. His tightly curly, light brown hair has started to get long enough that it looks like an afro, and he's both taller and skinnier than almost every boy at our school. He is on the debate team, and thinks that it is necessary to argue even when he agrees with someone.

"Could you possibly move over a little?" I try to ask politely, but I know it comes out rude. Fortunately Cameron doesn't care. He is the worst sort of confident—he wouldn't care what anyone else thought even if it would save his life. But I think that's the only reason why Catherine lets him hang out with us as much as he does. He's the only person she can't boss around.

"I could," he says slyly. This is how he says a lot of things. "But I'd have to throw Johnny's precious teddy bear out of the window. I couldn't break his heart like that."

"It isn't mine," Johnny says dully, and I can in the mirror that he is rolling his eyes. Catherine giggles at what I assume is the thought of Johnny having compassion towards anything. "I'm delivering it for Dr. Mullbanks."

"You're still working for him?" Cameron sounds surprised to hear this, which in turn surprises me. Johnny tells me hilarious stories all the time about all of the things the associate at his father's practice makes him do. Supposedly Dr. Mullbanks is a brilliant, gifted psychiatrist who is an expert on a bunch of stuff I can't pronounce, and supposedly it's this huge deal that Johnny is getting to "intern" for him, but in my opinion the old guy is a crackpot.

Johnny pointedly ignores him, but I know Cameron isn't going to let it go. Fortunately for Johnny, when we finally pull into the student parking lot, the subject is automatically changed. We can see that everyone is standing outside in the courtyard between the old and new school buildings, even when we hear the two minute warning bell ring. Administrators are standing around the edges, clutching their walkie-talkies as if they hold the answer to the meaning of life.

When we get to the courtyard, none of said administrators even say anything to us about being late. One just tells us that the power has gone out in the old building, where there are no backup lights, and so school will be cancelled unless they can get it back on.

"Sweet, bro," Cameron concurs, getting a much deserved eye roll from the counselor with which he'd been speaking. I think that by now Cameron has developed an immunity to sarcasm.

When we're walking away, one of Cameron's friends (he seems to be friends with everyone) stops us and asks Cameron what's up, etcetera, and they perform some sort of strange tribal ritual which they refer to as a secret handshake.

His friend has a large tattoo and is wearing dark clothes that look like they were made to show off his muscles, and I don't like how close he is standing to Catherine, but he looks like he has something important to say because he is getting all of our attention.

"Who do they think they're kidding?" he scoffs, nodding towards the counselor. "Power out my ass."

"What on earth are you talking about?" Catherine raises an eyebrow. She is probably thinking the same thing as I am—that this kid is some crazy radical who looks for conspiracies around every corner.

"It's because they don't know what to do," he shrugs. "That chick that's missing is super rich and shit, and her daddy's making a big stink about it. They think a killer's on the loose or something."

Missing. Now I wish I'd paid attention to the news.

"And they're having us stand outside," Johnny observes practically, smirking slightly. I wonder if he understood what the kid was saying. Maybe he is secretly really stupid.

The boy grins, apparently in on the joke. I guess it is kind of ironic, but it doesn't seem very funny to me, especially if there really is a killer on the loose. For all we know, he could be some kind of government robot sniper that's standing on top of the school building right now, aiming.

"If you ask me, she just got sick of everything and ran away," the boy shrugs. "I remember her a couple years ago. She was kind of a freak. Kid was always drawing and smelling her fingers and shit," he shudders.

Drawing doesn't really seem like a weird thing to me, but I don't mention this to him. I don't think that's the point.

After a while, the "power comes back on," and we all go inside and start second period. I guess they figure most of us would be safer at school that home alone anyway. Whichever choice would make them less likely to get a lawsuit filed against them.

When the revised schedule for the day is worked out and things basically go back to normal, talk about the missing girl and people's theories about how she got that way starts fading away, and the buzz switches to the presence of a new soul in our midst. I'm sure the chaos wasn't exactly the best way to start his new school, but it seems like his fault anyway for starting when we only have one grading period until graduation anyway.

It's this, and his curious habit of nearly nodding off constantly, even when girls are right next to him, giggling about how cute he is (which, trust me, is something worth giggling over), that makes him seem so strange.

Strange enough that come lunchtime, as much attention as he has gotten all day, nobody asks him to sit with them. When Catherine, Johnny, Cameron and I get to the cafeteria, he is sitting in the corner by himself, and he appears to be asleep. Not exactly the most approachable of positions, but I always like meeting new people.

"Like he'll even notice," Johnny snorts. He's been in a bad mood all day. He says it's because people are making light of the girl's disappearance by some of the things they theorize happened to her (such as being dragged away into the ocean by a zombie starfish), but I think he's really just jealous because the new boy is getting so much female attention, whereas he has never gotten any because of acting like a stuffy old man.

"Cameron can keep him awake with one of his fascinating debate speeches," I grin, and I can't tell if Cameron knows I am being sarcastic, but he seems exited nonetheless.

"And Catherine can give him that look that will make him think he's her slave," Cameron winks. Catherine gets all huffy at him, since he always teases her about being bossy, but I can see the compliment behind his words. She's so beautiful that it makes things happen for her. For a moment my heart wrenches with jealousy, but I push it away again. The poofy haired of us will simply have to work a little harder.

Johnny doesn't want to do it, but he finally comes with us because otherwise he would have to sit with people he doesn't actually like. There are actually not very many humans that Johnny does like. It is going to make it hard for him to have a life someday.

Cameron examines the boy for a moment after we all sit down around him. It's a good thing he's asleep or he'd probably think we were creepy. "Completely conked out," is his diagnosis. A normal person would have either waited for him to wake up or poked him until he'd done so against his will, but Cameron is no normal person.

The boy's head, which is leaning on the brick wall next to him, looks very serene. At least, it does until Cameron gets to him. Cameron lifts up the boy's hand and angles his finger so it is pointing at his face, and then shoves it up one of his nostrils.

"Cameron!" Catherine gasps, completely appalled. She looks like she's trying very hard not to laugh, though.

Cameron messes with him for about a minute, until he gets to the sunglasses I realize the boy is wearing. They look strangely natural on him. When Cameron touches these, the boy's hand snaps and grabs Cameron's wrist.

"Oh God!" he squeals, purposely being extremely overdramatic to cover the fact that he is actually freaked out a little bit. I know he really is because of the speed at which he rips his hand away.

"Those were expensive," the boy says simply, pulling the sunglasses off himself. He is completely expressionless, but he has the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. They don't seem very friendly but they are shiny like ice (of either variety.)

For once, Cameron has absolutely nothing to say. Catherine is diplomatic and takes over for him.

"I'm Catherine," she says, and then proceeds to introduce the rest of us to him.

"Mark," he says after a lot of consideration. I assume that's his name, but he is looking so loathingly at us that I can't think straight.

"Where'd you move here from?" I ask him, smiling my warmest grin and hoping that I don't look like an ax murderer.

He looks at me, directly in my eyes for at least a minute. The bell rings, making me jump, and I don't know what would have happened if it hadn't.

"She asked you a question," Johnny says for me, which is weird for him. He sounds almost hostile. The boy's eyes are daggers when he looks away at Johnny, and I can tell he isn't going to respond to that either. "She was being friendly."

The boy thinks for just a moment before standing. "Don't waste your time," he mutters, and then walks away.

"Well," Cameron grins. "That was interesting."

I laugh a little, but I can't forget the look he gave me. I should be able to ignore it, but his last words feel like a challenge. I must be glaring at the direction in which he walked away, because Cameron is waving his hand in front of my face and using his astronaut voice.

"Earth to Ellie," he says. "Come in. The flight leaves in T minus… uh, now. Are you okay?"

"Yeah," I say, shaking my head and returning to the real world. "I think so."

And then the power really does go out.

A/N: Too quickly or too slowly? Is there enough information yet to keep your attention.

You know you want to review. Again, I'd like to know if I should continue from here or rewrite the beginning to make it more interesting.

Inspiration to review: what are your new years resolutions? =D