"Brett, right here!"

He dribbled around the defender, left to right, always moving. When he did stop, he was under the basket, but it was too close for a shot. Brett heaved it to Mark, who had called for it, and Mark sank it. Two points! Brett and Mark exchanged a high five and got ready to play again. Five minutes later, the bell rang. PE was over, and the boys went to change.

In the girls' locker room, they were gossiping and laughing. The only one who never took part in this was Kitty. She wasn't interested in other people. A lot of the time she kept to herself. She loved sports, and loved playing with the boys because she was better than most of them. Kitty had never worn a dress since she'd started high school, not even to the dances, and most of the girls thought she was weird and didn't want to be her friend. Without saying a word, Kitty changed from her PE uniform to jeans and a T-shirt and stepped outside.

Mark was out there already, and he watched as Kitty appeared. "Good game today."

"Sure, you too."

"Hey, are you busy this weekend?"

"Yes." Kitty barely gave him time to finish. "Very, very busy. See you later." She left to find her locker.

Mark, surprised at the abrupt answer, stared after her and then followed at length to prepare for his next class.

Brett sat in algebra, completely bored. He was smarter than most of the kids in the class, and he never liked the fact that everything had to be explained three times. He gazed out the window on the door, trying to locate something that would occupy his mind for a while. Two seconds and he had found it.

A girl he had never seen before stood outside the classroom, looking nervous. Nervous, but an absolute knockout! Lightly, the girl tapped on the door and entered.

The teacher, Ms. Rockwell, looked up from the blackboard. "Yes?"

"Excuse me, but I think this is my next class. I'm Carrie."

"Oh yes, Carrie. Yes, you're in the right place. Why don't you take the seat by Brett back there?"

"Thank you."

Brett smiled to himself. His boredom had lifted. He already had an idea for starting up a conversation.


She turned. "Hi."

"Have you ever read that book by Stephen King?"

"Which one?"

"The one with your name on the cover."

Carrie giggled. "Yeah, that's a good one. Haven't seen the movie, though."

"Do a lot of people ask you if you're telekinetic?"

"Not really. It's such an old movie, though."

"Well, are you?"

She laughed, but cut it off quickly. "That's for me to know and you to find out."

"You can't be, though. It's just a story. Joke, right?"

"You wish." She continued her work and said nothing the rest of the day.

That night, Brett lay in bed, trying to figure out what Carrie had meant. The girl in the book had special powers and eventually used them on other people because she had no friends. This girl that sat by him in algebra didn't seem like an outcast. Maybe she was telekinetic, or something. What was with her, anyway?

Suddenly, it grew colder in Brett's room. He wrapped a blanket around his shoulders and went to shut the window, only to find that it wasn't open. An instant later, a powerful wind caused the window to burst open and slam Brett down to the floor. With the wind came a voice, just as powerful.

*Callista. Callista. Callista.*

Brett scrambled back into bed and pulled to covers over his head. He heard things fall off shelves and crash on the floor. "What do you want?!" he shrieked. "Get out of here!"

The wind kept whirling, stronger than before. The voice kept moaning, *Callista. Callista.*

"Go away!" Brett screamed. "Go away!" He lay flat, still covered, praying it would end. The storm raged, yanking the covers completely off of Brett, and stopped.

Brett opened his eyes, reeling from the shock of the hurricane. Standing before him was a figure, human, pale ghostly white. It was a girl, maybe about as old as he was.

"Are you the ghost of Christmas past?" Brett guessed, partly joking.

The figure shook her transparent head. *I am Beth. And you are in trouble.*

"Wake up, Brett, waaaake up," he murmured.

*I am afraid. Callista has returned, and she is after new blood.*

"What are you talking about?"

*Many years ago, Callista came to a blacksmith and instructed him to make her a necklace.* The human figure faded out and in its place hovered a larger-than-life gold necklace, with a pair of diamond swords on the end. Beth came back into view and continued. *The necklace is extremely dangerous. It turns the wearer into a monster, the likes of which this planet had never seen until she existed.* Again, she faded, and revealed a giant rat, followed by holograms of them attacking cities and rampaging people. Beth's voice narrated the scenes that progressed. *For the past decade, she has been forming her army of these evil mutants. You must be the one to rescue these innocents.*

"Why me?"

*You have to stop her, or she will become the dominant ruler, along with her army. Even now, more recruits are coming. Good luck.* Beth disappeared, leaving no evidence, except that Brett's room now looked like the result of a tornado. Brett glanced at the clock. It was one in the morning. He sighed wearily and began cleaning up.


Morning found Brett nearly late to school. He wondered if Carrie had been responsible for the bizarre visit last night. If there was a connection between her and Beth, he would know there was something inhuman about her. Could he ask her, maybe bring it up casually?

WHAM! Brett was knocked to the ground, completely winded. Mark hurried over.

"Hey, why didn't you catch the ball?"

Brett tried to answer, but he couldn't breathe. Mark led him over to a bench and sat down with him.

"What is with you today? It's like you never learned basketball."

"I'm okay, really." Brett coughed. The air was coming back. "Just distracted. I'll tell you later. Game on!" he called to his teammates.

In the locker room again, Kitty zoned in on an interesting tidbit of gossip.

"Hey, do you know that new girl?"

"Oh yeah, she is so weird."

"She's really popular, but everyone's always talking about-"

"I heard she thinks she's gonna rule the world."

Kitty finished changing and watched the other girls leave. This new girl sounded kind of neat. Kitty didn't have any classes with her, but she decided to find her after school and get to know her. It could be her ticket to at least a medium level of popularity.

As soon as the final bell rang, Kitty put her plan into action. She found her right away, and went over.

"Hi, are you the new girl?"

She nodded. "My name is Carrie."

"I like that name. It's better than Kitty."

"Almost the same." Carrie smiled at her, and Kitty felt wanted. "Do they call you Meow Mix or something?" They both laughed.

"No, nobody really talks to me."

"You sound like you could use a break. Come with me tomorrow and I'll introduce you to some friends of mine outside of school."


"Same time, same place. Be there or be square. Better late than never."

"You certainly are poetic." They laughed again, and Kitty started to leave. "I'll be there."

"Meow Mix," Carrie remarked, which left Kitty in high spirits. She had a friend. But not for long.

Mark had witnessed this conversation. Brett had explained to him what happened last night. Mark hadn't believed him, especially when he blamed Carrie. Everyone in school liked her a lot. He was happy that Kitty found a friend, but he felt the need to look out for her. Maybe, Mark thought, if he followed them, he would get an idea of what Carrie was like.

Callista left the empty school building and headed down into her hideout. Jenna had been killed for not being able to locate Beth, and since then Callista had tried experiments to contact the spirit herself. She hated to think that she had killed Beth as well, so she kept trying. It would only be a short while before the new army would be delivered. Callista was deeply satisfied with all she had accomplished. This world would soon be hers to control, if she could just find Beth!


Callista's eyes popped. Who knew? Who told? Go away or I'll kill you!


She sprinted to the door, finding it secured. The voice was outside, and heaven knew what they were doing here so late at night. Callista crept outside and jiggled the locker door. "I'm in here!"

"Carrie? How'd you manage that?" Brett hid a grin. He was on to her.

"Don't ask questions. Just get me out."

He obeyed and she emerged. "Have you been in there all night?"

"Some idiot locked me in there and it got jammed. What are you doing here?"

"Actually..." He faltered, searching for a good answer. "Well, I had to...I...have no idea." Carrie gazed at him expectantly, and he decided to get to the point. "I wanted to ask you something. Do you know anyone named Beth?"

Her eyes lit up. "You found her?! Where is she?"

Brett was confused. He hadn't expected her to know. "You mean to tell me you know about her?"

"Of course." Carrie regained her composure. "She's my sister. She ran away a week ago."

Oh, so that was it. "I saw her last night. I think she was dead, because it looked like a ghost. Sorry."

"Dead? Oh..." Carrie turned from him and made small noises that sounded like crying, but she was laughing. Pretending to wipe her eyes, she faced Brett again. "Want to help me bring her back?"

"You know how?"

"Sure. Come on." She led him into the locker and down the stairs.

"Wow," Brett murmured. There was definitely something going on with this girl.

"I've been looking through this book." She picked it up. "It's called Join the Occult. I've tried most of the stuff in it, but nothing's working."

"Let's see it." Brett took the book and flipped through the pages. "Have you tried 'Raise the Dead'?"

"I must have missed it." Carrie silently berated herself for being so dumb, and read over his shoulder. "To restore the soul of a dead person, stand outside at midnight and chant the person's name followed by 'Come to me.' This is to be done with several others all joined in a circle. Only the leader will chant. The force of the others around the lead will attract the ghost. Before you begin, you must find where the moon shines light. Place something gold in the light and stand around it. Once the ghost has arrived, it will do what you tell it, but only if the circle is still joined. Caution: This spell can only be used once."

"Something gold," Brett mused. "What about your necklace?"

"No!" Carrie practically shouted. "I-I can't take it off."

"Why not?"

"It's welded," she lied and searched the hideout with her eyes. Jenna's necklace was in no condition to possess anything, and there it was. "Use this one. It's old, but it'll work."

"Now we need some other people."

"No problem. ASSEMBLE!" she bellowed, and everyone came from every direction. "These are my friends," she told Brett. "Ron, Stacy, Ariane, Randy, Lisa, Allie and Christy."

"Coincidence?" Brett joked, projecting less fear than he had.

"They're always there when I need them. Let's go, it's already midnight."

They trooped outside and found where the moonlight was brightest. Carrie placed the necklace in the light, and they all gathered around it and joined hands. Brett stood between Carrie and Stacy. Carrie lifted her face to the sky and intoned, "Beth, come to me. Beth, come to me."

Brett glanced at her, and then at Stacy. He looked down and saw her necklace was glowing. All around him, the necklaces were glimmering, and suddenly he was very afraid. "Carrie?" She couldn't hear him. Even the necklace in the center was alight, until a brighter flash streaked down and destroyed it. The spell was defected. Beth had come and gone, and so had Brett.

"He broke the circle!" Carrie screamed. "Get him!"

The army chased Brett all the way through the school and out. He was winding down, but the rats were right on his heels. Instantly, he was knocked cold and carried off by Beth. She was on his side, and Callista would not see them again until her death.


The next day, though extremely furious, Carrie returned to school. Afterward, she met Kitty in the hall.

"Boy, you look awful," Kitty greeted her. "Rough night?"

"You might say that."

"Do you know where Brett was today?"

"I haven't the faintest."

"You okay?"

"I'm fine, just tired. I promise I won't ruin the experience. Come see my hideout." Carrie led Kitty through the dreaded locker and down the stairs. Kitty was thrilled.

"This is so cool! How did you ever find out about it?"

"When I'm at a new school, I like to explore and get to know the place really well. That way I don't get lost."

"I make sure I can find my classes, but it never occurred to me to go over the building with a fine-tooth comb."

"Surprises are everywhere," Carrie told her. "You just have to know where to look."

"I should try that some time. There are a lot of rooms I haven't been in. Might be fun. We could both go."

Carrie frowned slightly. "Usually you're better off by yourself. Only one person to lose. I have friends down here. We meet all the time. Join the club." She smirked, knowing that Kitty was playing right into her hands.

"What do you guys do?"

"Not much. Basically enjoy the place. Tunnels are everywhere, and I could tell you what's down each and every one."

"How many?"

"Around a hundred. Depends on which main one you take. And this club is great. You never have to worry about school. In fact, I only go there to collect new members. So what do you say? Wanna join?"

"Kitty!" It was Mark. "Don't trust her! Brett told me everything!"

"What's wrong?" Kitty was startled.

"Get away from her!" Mark grabbed Kitty's arm and pulled her back. She jerked loose.

"Stop it! She's my friend!"

Callista removed her necklace, and Mark and Kitty watched wide-eyed as she changed. They were smart enough to run when they realized she meant danger, but Callista caught up to them. "No one gets out alive," the rat hissed. She pinned Kitty with one foot. Mark tried to wrestle her off, but was knocked back by a lethal swipe from Callista's claws. She slashed at Kitty, then turned to Mark, still on the ground. Leaping, she crushed him with all her weight and ripped his throat. Blood from destruction. Callista replaced her necklace and watched as the others transformed and tore at the bodies like horrible, disfigured vultures.


The news reached Beth and Brett a short while later. Mark and Kitty had been killed, not transformed. Beth's voice was urgent.

*You must take her on right away. I have an idea that will help you.*

"Could you not talk like that?" Brett asked her. "It's kind of scary." He'd had enough thrills for one day.

*Forgive me.* Beth suddenly became solid and color. She looked like a normal human being. "Better?"

"Much. You're very pretty. Or you were."

"I've always been a spirit. I am Jenna's aura, the part of her that is still alive."

"Jenna? Is she like your other half?"

"Yes. Callista destroyed her when I wouldn't come to the hideout. I didn't want to have Callista as my master. I was scared and Jenna paid for it."

"That's too bad. And here I thought you were Carrie's sister."

"Callista has discovered that humans are very gullible. It has been easy for her for years to get people to do what she wants. That picture I showed you the first time was nineteenth century. Callista had been immortal until the necklace was made. Now it is her weakness."

"So you're saying..."

"Break the necklace, you destroy her. But first, she has to be physically weakened. You'll have to fight her as a rat in order to break the swords."

"Oh great," Brett muttered sarcastically. "I can't do that. She's obviously stronger than any human on this planet. Except maybe a pro wrestler."

"Like any human or animal, she has her weak points. It's up to you to figure them out. After you kill her, the soldiers will be freed and I will rest in peace, if you'll pardon the expression."

"What will you do when this is over?"

"I can't go back to Jenna, of course. It is possible that I could stay with you, if you prefer."

"Depends if I live through the fight."

"There is no one else to help you. Not even me, although I will be with you when you kill her. Come. You must destroy her now, while she is after a new recruit." Beth became transparent again, and carried Brett to the hideout.

She dropped him off in front of the locker, and disappeared. Brett had no idea what he was getting into, but Callista was expecting him. He went down the stairs very slowly, walking to his doom. He stood at the bottom, forcing his legs to stay planted, but they wouldn't cooperate. They were ready to shoot up those stairs if he saw anything resembling a giant rodent.

"I have told my army to stay back. Ten against one is dreadfully unfair, don't you think? I can see you, Brett."

The last words sent a chill up his spine. "Come on out and fight like a rat!" he shouted, trying to sound fearless, but feeling silly.

"If you insist." The human Callista instantly appeared out of the shadows and charged him, removing her necklace so that when she leapt, she was fully monster. Brett wasn't ready for the jump, but instinct told him to move aside so Callista hit the ground. Brett was running, trying to get the necklace. Callista recovered and knocked Brett from behind, pushing the wind out of him. She clawed his back and neck, and Brett kicked at her hind leg. The blow surprised her and she rolled off of him. Continuing his trek for the necklace, Brett found it and dived. Callista sprang in front of him. "I don't think so." She took it in her claws and tossed it out of his reach. Brett tried to stand up, only to get thrown down by his opponent. She clawed him again, across his face and then his chest. He kicked at her again and crawled as quickly as he could toward the necklace. Callista raced after him, and just as Brett got it in his hands, she landed on him and started biting wherever she saw flesh. Brett weakly rolled over underneath her and caught her in the stomach. She staggered off, and Brett crawled toward a wall, raised his arm, and...Callista was on him again. It was a losing battle. He struggled to get away from the claws and teeth, but he didn't have much energy left. With what he had, he punched her throat and caused blood to spill. She shrieked, but didn't let him up. She had stopped clawing, so Brett crawled carefully out from under her, raised himself up and heaved the necklace at the wall where it shattered. Callista had been preparing another launch. She paused in midair, howled, and fell on top of Brett. She moved no more.

The others came out to see the results of that final bloody battle. Brett was completely concealed by Callista's body. Slowly, slowly, he pushed at her until she lay dead beside him. Slowly, he arose, gasping for air and covered with blood. He noticed the others staring at him, and knew they were free.

Beth joined them and took on her human form. She smiled at Brett, who was too weak to do anything but stand. "I knew you could do it. I'm yours now."

Brett collapsed, and the others tended to him. As a group, they climbed the stairs and left the hideout forever. Lisa padlocked the door and locker, and everyone went back to their homes. The only questions asked would be by their parents. They would all be in school the next time, except for Brett, who went to the hospital.

The bodies of Mark, Kitty and Jenna were never found, due to the scavenges of the army. The rat once known as Callista, down in the sewer, suddenly burst apart into many, many little rats. They all went down a different tunnel and spread themselves all over the country. Even in death, Callista had successfully bred another army.