This is the story of Cree Bowman, a girl with the power of change the forms of matter. After her foster mother catches her using her power, which until now she managed to keep a secret, Cree runs away and hitches a ride with a truck driver.

Prologue: - The Secret

It was a crisp September day when Cree Bowman exited the school bus. She had just started the eighth grade and was a little nervous about her first day.

She and her mother moved to Cleveland from Denver a few months ago, and her mother was a nurse and was offered a prestigious position as head nurse at Metro Hospital.

They had bought a house that was only a block away from the hospital. Her mother, Elizabeth, hated driving, so she made it a point to find a house as close as possible to the hospital. It didn't matter that Cree's middle school was seven miles away, and she had to ride the school bus every morning.

Elizabeth could have easily driven her since her sift at the hospital didn't start until an hour after Cree had started her school day. That didn't matter to Elizabeth Bowman. If something didn't benefit her in any way she just refused to do it, and chauffeuring a thirteen year old girl around wasn't her idea of fun. It didn't matter that girl was her daughter either.

Cree was used to looking after herself. Many times she was the one who did the grocery shopping, transporting the food they needed in her red wagon that she had since she was five years old. One of her mother's boyfriend's had bought it for her for Christmas that year.

Elizabeth rarely bought toys for her daughter, anything Cree acquired she bought with her own money, or it was given as a gift from a teacher or friends. She had worked paper routes, took on babysitting or did odd jobs for people around the neighborhood to earn money. She even had her own grocery delivery service the she provided for elderly people who had a hard time getting around. She usually got a dollar or two per customer, but there were those times when someone would slip her five bucks.

Even with her own form of earning she had to hide the money she made and had built up a tidy sum. She spread her loot in different hiding places around the house. She tried to pick places her mother wouldn't look, but she always managed to find something Cree had hidden. It wasn't so bad when her mom found one or two, but she would not be able to find them at all. She knew it wouldn't be long before Elizabeth kicked her out. She was getting older and started wearing a bra at nine years old and was developing nicely into a young woman, and even at thirteen she looked more like fifteen. This didn't sit well with Elizabeth, because the last thing she wanted was competition from her own daughter.

Cree was going to hold out as long as she could, even dressing like a tomboy so members of the opposite sex wouldn't notice her. She wore her light red strawberry hair in a messy ponytail and wore no makeup.

She never thought she was pretty anyway having been cursed with freckles and being taller and skinnier than most girls made her self-conscious, but she had never been comfortable in her own skin anyway. She never felt as if she belonged anymore and certainly... not with the mother she was given.

Still, she was hopeful of the future, always remembering the story of The Ugly Duckling. In the end the homely foul became a beautiful swan, and one day that would be her. That's what she hoped anyway.

She slung her backpack over her shoulder and walked the block and a half to get home. Several younger boys in the neighborhood were outside playing and teased her as she passed.

"Creepy Cree!" they shouted out. Cree turned their way and shouted back. "Shut up, jerks!"

She tried to go on her way with her heavy backpack and an arm full of books she checked out of the school library, but the two boys got on their bikes at lightning speed and raced towards her. One of the boys abruptly stopped his bike right in front of her, while the other one blocked her escape from behind. She realized that she had just been ambushed.

"We don't take that from no freak girl like you," one of boys said. "So what's Creepy Cree gonna do." The boy in front of her started laughing as his friend and partner in crime joined in.

They repeated that horrible nickname over and over, until Cree screamed to the top of her lungs. She didn't realize that she had a hold of the handle bars on the boy's bike. Then he screamed, and she looked down and saw the boy on the ground. He had a burn mark on his leg and his bike was mangled into a melted mess of metal.

She looked on in horror knowing she had done it. She ran fast heading for home hearing the injured boy's last words. "You're a freak."

She ran around the back of the house and entered through the cellar door. The boy was right. She was a freak, and what happened out there scared the hell out of her.

After entering the cellar she dropped her books on the concrete door and looked at her hands. She was still freaked out and examined them closely, but they looked like any ordinary set of hands. What was so different about them that they could cause that type of destruction? If she could destroy a metal bike by just touching it, what other things could she do?

She couldn't understand it. She could always do strange things like drying the dishes without a towel by pulling the water right off of them, and she never had to worry about her hot chocolate getting cold. She could just heat it up by holding the cup in her hands. She always saw what she could do as a gift, but what happened with that kid and his bike scared her. Perhaps it was a curse after all like her mother always told her.

She left her books and her bag lying on the floor and walked into the backroom of the cellar basement. She closed the door and stood over the large square table that dominated the room. On it there were about a dozen or so metal statues of mythological creatures. She loved collecting statues, but these particular statues were special. The reason was that she made them herself... the same way she had destroyed that boy's bike.

The whole incident was very confusing. How could a gift like hers create such beauty things, and destroy other things and hurt people. She picked up the Pegasus statue and looked at it closely. She stared into its eyes and for some reason she thought they are moving, staring back at her in disgust.

"No!" she screamed and threw the thing across the room. It fell on its side, but she could still see its eyes staring angrily at her. Then she looked over at the table and there stood the other statues and they were also staring at her with that same look of disgust.

She flipped the table over and the statues scattered all over the door, but she could still see their eyes, and they were all staring at her. She imagined that they would come alive and punish her for what she did.

She ran out of the room and raced up the basement steps and slammed the door and locked it behind her. She was crying by this time and slumped onto the floor. She thought she was going crazy. How could she think those statues had come alive? There was no way. It was her own guilt that was tricking her mind.

She had to stop this line of thinking before she drove herself crazy. After she calmed down she went back down into the basement to retrieve her backpack and the school books she dropped. She still made a point to avoid the room that held her metal statues that were scattered on the floor, but there was one lying outside in the door. Perhaps she had kicked it out there when she ran from the room. It was the little unicorn statue.

She looked at the cellar door and tried to decide whether or not to go in there. She stared long at the statue once again, and it looked like it was smiling now, so she just shoved into the front pocket of her backpack.

She left the basement and ran upstairs to her room as quickly as possible. She turned on the stereo that had her favorite CD already in it. Songs from Garbage, her favorite band, filled the room. She needed a distraction so she could forget about the events that had taken place in the last hour.

She laid on her bed singing the lyrics in a loud combative voice. She figured the more noise she made the less she had the think about everything that had happened. It went on like that for about four songs until she heard the front door slam. She picked up her remote and quickly turned off the stereo.

She knew it was her mother and she didn't like a lot of noise in the house, at least not any she didn't make herself. Cree tried to be as quiet as she could. Perhaps her mother would forget that she was supposed to be home and leave her alone for a while. Her hope was dashed as she heard heavy footsteps coming up the stairs followed by a banging on her bedroom door.

Cree tried to ignore it, but her mother wouldn't stop banging her fist against the wood and screaming to the top of her lungs. "Cree! Open this damn door right now!"

At first she tried to ignore it, but Elizabeth Bowman's screech was like fingernails on a chalkboard.

"Fine? I'm coming!" Cree screamed back. She took her time getting to the door. She could guess what this was about, and the last thing she wanted to do was discuss it with her mother. "What?" she asked but got no answer out of her mother. The woman just pulled the door opened and invaded her bedroom like a hurricane.

"What the hell did you think you were doing?" Elizabeth asked in a demanding voice. This is the way it always was, whenever something bad happened it was completely her fault.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Cree said and walked over to her stereo and turned it back on.

"The hell you don't!" She shouted as she pulled the stereo out of the plug. "Why did you attack those two boys?"

Cree looked shocked and lashed out at the accusation. "I didn't attack anyone. They attacked me."

"Oh, two ten-year-old boys attacked you, and why would they do that?" Cree stayed silent and folded her arms over her chest. "You did it, didn't you, after I told you not to?"

"I didn't mean to," Cree said, slumping down on her bed. "They just wouldn't leave me alone."

"You burned that boy's arm, Cree," her mother shouted at her. Cree was crying by now, but her mother didn't lift a finger to comfort her. Instead she paced back and forth ranting about all the bad things that Cree had ever done.

Finally she reached Cree's door and the last thing she said made Cree both angry and upset. "I should have gotten rid of you long ago."

With that she walked out and slammed the door behind her. Cree was so upset she picked up her music box and threw it across the room. "I hate you!"

She lay on her bed and cried. She didn't care that her broken music box was lying on the floor shattered into a million pieces. It was one her mother bought her for her thirteenth birthday, but it didn't matter. The gift didn't mean anything anyway. It was just a trick to make her think her mother cared about her, but it was obvious that Elizabeth hated her and wanted her gone. Well, Cree was going to give her mother her wish.

She walked back over to her stereo ready to plug it back in. She wanted to forget this day ever happened, but to her surprise the phone rang. She raced to the door and opened it, hearing her mother screaming on the phone from downstairs in the kitchen. She quietly raced into her mother's bedroom and carefully picked up the phone. Her curiosity was telling her that she needed to know who was on the other end. She had to know who pissed her mother off that bad to make her scream like that.

She could hear the voice of a man on the other end. "I told you to keep her under control until we are ready to recruit her."

"None of that matters now!" she heard her mother's voice. Elizabeth tried to remain calm, but she sounded as though she was about to blow her top.

"Of course it matters." The man on the other end barked back at her. He was growing angry. "You have been in charge of the girl since her mother's demise, and you will remain her loving mother until I say otherwise."

"Everett, I'm sick and tired of taking care of this little brat, and after that stunt she pulled today, either you come and get her or I'm leaving."

"Don't threaten me, Elizabeth," the man said, becoming more agitated. Cree couldn't believe what she was hearing. Elizabeth wasn't her real mother? If not, who was?

"I'm not threatening you," she said, her voice as calm as it could possibly be. "I'm just giving you a dose of reality."

"I need that girl, Lizzie," he said angrily.

"Then come and get her," she said and slammed the phone down. Cree couldn't believe the things she heard.

"ELIZABETH!" he shouted. Cree could feel the vibration as she held onto the receiver. "You fucking bitch, I know you're there. I'm coming there tomorrow morning, and that girl is mine." She hung up the phone quick not wanting to hear that horrible man's voice anymore.

She ran into her bedroom and locked the door. There was no way in hell she was going to stay here and wait to be taken by the awful man. She had to come up with a plan and fast. No matter what, she was getting out of here.

Cree had six different hiding places that she had money stashed, so she gathered the things she needed and waited until dark and then she would take off. Her mother would either stay out all night or be passed out drunk on the couch before midnight, and she could slip out then.

She just wondered where she could go, but then she remembered that newspaper clipping she had saved. She dragged out her scrap book and opened it up. There was a photo of a large building and a man standing out in front of it. He had dark hair and wore a very expensive dark blue suit. He had a smile on his face, and not a fake smile like many of the politicians on television did. He looked friendly and inviting, just like she thought her real father would be...whoever he was.

The sign on the building was The Drell Institute. It was a school for kids like her. She knew the article about the man had to be true. It was written by Arion Krouder, the top newspaper reporter in Crystala. He always told the truth no matter the consequences. The Crystala daily news was about the only newspaper in the country that did.

Most people didn't even know about Crystala, and those that did would not even acknowledge its existence. She obtained this edition of their newspaper by accident, or so she thought. The summer tutor Elizabeth hired for her left it behind when she left after their last tutoring session. With all the moving around they did she fell a little behind. It was another thing Elizabeth complained that made her look bad, having a dumb kid.

She managed to hide this knowledge from Elizabeth which wasn't hard to do. Her 'mother' was oblivious to anything that didn't directly pertain to her, so Cree's scrapbook wasn't high on her radar.

She wanted nothing more than to live in Crystala and be among her own kind, but she didn't even know where it was located. She did know the Drell Institute was in upstate New York, and she would find a way to get there. It wasn't that far away from Ohio, and she could take a bus or hitch if she had to. She would do anything to get away from Elizabeth, and avoid taking part in whatever crazy plan she and that horrible man were cooking up.

She had a bag already packed and tucked away in the back of her closet. She just had to wait until it got dark, and then she could slip out quietly.

She was running down all the things she had to do and how much time she would have to do them when Elizabeth banged on her door.

"Go away!" Cree called out.

"That's what I came to tell you," she called from the other side of the door. "I'm going out."

She just rolled her eyes, not one bit surprised. The only time Elizabeth spent any real time with her was when she couldn't get a date. It didn't matter anymore because this faker wasn't going to be playing mommy to her after tonight.

She waited until she left and was out of sight. Elizabeth took her car and pulled out of the driveway and drove down the street and out of sight. Cree was watching from her window and knew she was headed to the local bar by the direction she was headed.

As soon as she knew it was safe Cree put her plan into action. First she sought out the hiding places where she put her stashed of money. All but one was untouched, but it was the one that only had ten dollars in it. Even with that small lose, she still had close to $500 and that would be enough to get her a one way ticket to New York.

She grabbed she bag and reached the door, only hesitating for and moment before opening it. She had been planning this for a long time, over a year, but now that the time had come she was a little scared. So much so that doorknob she was holding onto was melting off. She gasped and let go of it. She remembered that this was the reason she had to leave in the first place.

Stupid hands, she said to herself.

She was just a lonely girl out in the cold looking for the place she belonged. She hoped that one day she would find it.