Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Storm Generation: Chapters 1-7

I'm bored. So I'm gonna write a story. Be afraid...
This is coming from the depths of my imagination (a very scary place. It's a mix of war, violence, explosives, fire, inside jokes, ideas,and rainbows) and I'm just coming up with this as I go. But, anyways, this story was inspired by a thunderstorm on the bus ride back from a field trip. Zeffer, Tempest, Tsu, and Amaya are based on my three best friends and I.
Storm Generation
Chapter 1

The storm that day was loud. Unfortunately, I was stuck in a giant yellow tin can on wheels with fifty other screaming kids. So, I put the window down and stuck my head out, letting the cool droplets sting my face and eyes. It was a good kind of pain, like pulling out a splinter.
                “Ha-ha, Tempest, you look like a dog.” My best friend, Zeffer, pointed at me and laughed from her seat across the aisle from me. We were sitting at the back of the bus so the bus driver, a rather stout woman with grey hair and drill sergeant persona, couldn’t see our shenanigans.
                “Don’t care!” I shouted into the wind, laughing insanely as thunder boomed across the sky. “Bring it on!” I cried, the words torn from my mouth with the wind.
                “I would laugh so hard if you got struck by lightning right about now.” Said Zeffer, her green eyes sparking with delight. I pulled my head back from the window and faced Zeffer.
                “You would.” I pointed out. “But I would get those cool scars all the lightning strike survivors get.” I smiled evilly.
                “Yeah.” She agreed, and stared out the window. I poked my head back out the window and continued to let the rain drops sting my face. I know you might be thinking, Is this girl insane? Well, yes, I am insane, my name is Tempest, and I love thunderstorms. Two points for you. And if you think this is cheesy, wait until chapter two, you’ll see.
                “Tempest, get your head inside the vehicle!” I thought I heard the bus driver yell from the front, but I wasn’t sure. So I didn’t. “Tempest Reyes, get your head inside the vehicle now!” Alright, that time I definitely heard her, everyone did. Crap.
                I pulled my head back inside the bus and brought the window up so only a small crack big enough for my fingers to fit through remained. I took my hat off and shook my medium length, cherry black hair like our basset hound after a bath. Zeffer squealed and whacked me with her umbrella. I just laughed.
                “Tempest, you are insane.” She pointed out, like it actually needed to be pointed out. I stood up.
                “Hey everybody,” I called. “Zeffer says I’m crazy.” Giggled responses filled the bus. I plopped down into my seat and turned to Zeffer.
                “I think they agree.” I crossed my arms and grinned smugly.
                “Most of my come backs make me look and sound like a two year old.” And with that, she stuck her tongue out at me.
“Yep, that about covers it.” I grinned a sort of lopsided grin and tapped my fingers on the outside of the glass. A girl sitting in front of me, Hannah, turned around to look at me. After glancing at my fingers, she smiled.
                “You little rebel, you.” She giggled and faced forward again. Rain pattered against the window, streaming sideways down the sides of the bus and wetting my fingers. The water ran down my hand and onto my wrist, and I shivered, loving the feeling of fresh rain water against my skin.
                “Whoa! Tempest, check those clouds out!” Zeffer pointed to the front bus window, waaay up there. I peered through the crumpled pieces of paper and assorted projectiles to the windshield, and through the fwip-fwip of the wipers going back in forth monotonously, to see what Zeffer was talking about. Huge roiling nimbus clouds stacked directly on top of each other like pancakes met my stormy gaze. White lightning forked to the ground, illuminating the dark blue clouds for a moment before returning them to their natural color. The beauty of this whole situation made me smile.
                “Temp, you look really evil when you smile like that.” Zeffer’s eyeballs grew to the size of, I don’t know, dinner plates? I laughed one of my famous laughs. The one that also gave Zeffer the heebeegeebies.
                “Why do I even bother?” She smacked a hand over her face and let it slide down slowly, distorting her features and making me laugh even harder.
                “Reaves! Your stop!” The old bus driver called.
                “That’s me!” Zeffer jumped to her feet and grabbed her backpack, slinging it over her shoulder. “Catch ya later!”
                “Bye!” I waved and watched Zeffer’s short, thin frame disappear into the crowd, her long brown hair blowing back behind her. Zeffer had always been shorter than me, and had a more petite frame than I did. She’s only slightly less crazy than I am, but she seems to be crazy in a different way. It’s like she’s sure of herself and not afraid to tell it how it is, but she’s crazy in a more evil scientisty way. Me? I’m, well… they don’t exactly have a category for me yet.
                So, a little more about me? Well.
Sure, I'm awesome. Well, according to me, anyway. To other people, well, if you ask them, you might hear words such as 'freak' and 'weirdo'. I am weird, and proud of it.
The only person who is possibly as weird as me, is my best friend, Zeffer (no that isn't a typo. Her name is Zeffer). Well, she's not weird. She is completely insane! Everybody else, well, they’re scared of us. Because we're really weird, we're not bullies or anything. We're not weird as in nose-picking or licking people. We just have crazy imaginations. Now, you're asking yourself, when does this get interesting? Well, keep on reading. 
                The wind shifted and I stopped running. Dad was taking me for a chocolate dipped soft serve later, but first I needed a bath. He wouldn’t be seen with me in public this way. My knee, bloody from tripping over a knobby root during hide and seek, had that sticky-tight feeling, and my other knee, scraped from tumbling on the sidewalk, burned. I really needed to be more careful.
                The wind picked up, a rare, cold wind that was hardly ever seen in summer. From my driveway I watched the willow tree’s branches sway slowly back and forth as I thought about ice cream, about my dad. He tried to hide his drinking, but I could always hear the beer bottles clinking inside the black bag as I took out the trash. Mom was always smoking, which she tried to hide as well, but all of her clothes smelled of tobacco when I did the laundry. I thought about School’s end, about another warm summer about to begin, about the dried blood caked on my knee- and my world exploded.
                It cracked open and I fell inside a whiteness that erased everything: the driveway, the tree, the long almost-summer day, the blood, the ice cream. For a time, the world was blank. For once, everything was still.
                I woke up, fingertips tingling, my head full of static, raindrops only now wetting my legs. I knew I’d been struck by lightning. There was never a question. If I didn’t die in the next few hours, I was so blaming Zeffer for this. I stood up, feeling really funky, seeing myself from a distance: wet black hair, the color of black cherry stained wood, freckled pink nose, grey-green eyes, highlighter t-shirt, cutoff shorts and dirty bare feet; gangly arms and legs.
                I hobbled inside our apartment to the cramped space we called our living room. With blood trickling down my shin, my voice shaky, I said, “Dad, I got struck by lightning.”
                He sat on the sofa. “If you got struck by lightning, you’d be dead.” He didn’t look up. His words were slurred and blurry- he was on the verge of a drunken stupor. The room’s golden drapes were parted. The sky was black. I shivered, waiting for my dad to say something more along the lines of, We need to get you to a hospital! or, Oh my God! I’ll call an ambulance! but instead, he picked up another stupid magazine.
                “It knocked me down.” I said, tapping my fingers impatiently on my shorts. I hated it when he did this.
                “Who knocked you down? Did you knock them down first?” he looked at me then. Finally.
                The rain streaked down the front window. “I think I got struck by lightning.”
                “Well, you seem fine now.” Dad was used to seeing my bloodied and bruised. Just like mom, I lacked balance and coordination. Just like mom. “Get cleaned up.” he returned to his magazine.
                Upstairs I looked at my watch before stepping into the tub. The hands had stopped at five-fourteen. That must have been when the lightning struck. Or maybe Dad’s right: Who gets struck by lightning and walks away? I knew the answer: Me. I do.
                In the bath tub with my big toe up the spigot, the water turned gray. I was trembling. Shutting off the cold water, I turned up the hot and took deep breaths. A failed attempt at controlling my shakes. I closed my eyes and let my imagination wonder.
                I imagined hovering, twirling in the air, shooting lightning bolts from my fingertips before dropping, landing cold and wet on the pavement. I opened my eyes and felt sick. My hands and feet ached.
                Maybe the prickling in my feet and the headache were my imagination. Maybe I’d bumped my head falling down somewhere earlier today but didn’t remember. And maybe the moon was made of cream cheese. More deep breaths.
                Mom, who took smoke filled breaths, said that deep breaths calmed the nerves. Taking the deepest breaths ever, I began to feel lightheaded. I pulled the tubs stopper.
                Looking at myself in the mirror, I decided to breath normally again. I was pale. I might pass out, and I’d been through enough today.
                Downstairs, I threw a clean tee and some shorts on, donning my flip flops and toweling my hair. Dad was on the phone. Again. He said, “I’ll be there,” smiling at me and holding up his pointer finger. He often held up his pointer finger. Sometimes, when he wanted me to do the laundry, he would look at me and point to the full basket. He was a man of few words. Into the phone he said, “I told you: I’ll be there.”
                I, having waited patiently for as long as I could, said, “I’m ready.”
                Covering the mouthpiece, he said, “For what?”
                “Ice cream. We’re supposed to-”
                He didn’t let me finish. Never let me finish. “Sorry. Another night.”
                I pulled the towel from my hair and dropped it on the floor, feeling my stomach twist in a knot of anger. I wanted to scream. He had said, ‘Sorry, another night’ the past three times he’d promised. I knew if I did anything rash, he would probably hit me. I’ve been hit before, and let me tell you, the experience ain’t great. I stormed outside, to the roof of the apartment building. I’m sure he was in the kitchen right now, pointing at the wet towel and waiting for someone to come pick it up. Later, when he’d gone and I’d come back in, the towel was still there. It wasn’t his job to pick up after us.
                The air was cold and wet; the large drops of water pouring down on my head, making the pavement beneath my feet steam. Breathing that air was like breathing through a wet rag. I was soaking wet and my clothes were sticking to my body with the rain, but I didn’t care. I had kicked my flip flops off a while ago, and now I was standing in the rain, letting the coolness wash over me. I wasn’t scared of the lightning or the thunder, in fact, the rain seemed to calm me down, and my shakes and dizziness went away. My bangs stuck to my forehead.
                I was still tingly, because of the lightning. Again, anger welled up in my stomach and I turned, punching the magnolia tree next to me. I waited for pain to seep into my brain. I wasn’t upset about the ice cream. I was upset that my dad cared more about his stupid boating and drinking than he cared about me and mom. I was upset about the broken promise. Mom’s smoking and Dad’s drinking, the cracked foundation of our family, the crack I was standing on. I looked at my knuckles blankly; saw the blood, the splinters, the missing skin. The physical pain hurt much less than the emotional pain. I went and sat on the old wooden swing beneath the willow tree, kicking my bare feet in the wet patch of grass on our apartment roof. I was glad we had a garden up here. I heard screaming and shouting, some glass braking, from inside the apartment. I winced, and it wasn’t because of the ant that had just bit my foot.

                Some taxi driver with a bad accent honked and shouted at me to get out of the road, but I just kept on walking. It was early Friday evening, and I was supposed to meet Zeffer at her house in an hour. For now, I was just killing time, meandering around the busiest part of the city and buying food from vendors whenever I got hungry. I picked at the frayed edge of my shorts absentmindedly. My flip flops tapped on the pavement, mingling with the sounds of the city: cars honking, people shouting, hot dog vendors and their rhymes, people talking and texting on their cell phones. I had heard these sounds before. I knew them, loved them. My blue messenger bag was slung over my shoulder, and was now filled with peanut wrappers and my sketchbook, laptop, and a few dollars from my allowance.
I inhaled deeply, and the smell of pretzels filled my nose. I knew that smell. I blinked, and spotted the vendor a few yards off. One of the many stray cats in the city ran in front of me, a fluffy calico kitten with matted fur. It planted its butt right in front of me and mewled so adorably, I couldn’t help but pick it up. She was really thin and boney, definitely malnourished.
“You’re a cute one, aren’t ya?” I cooed to the kitten. She started to purr, and licked her paw. My dad had told me so many times not to pick up stray cats around here. Like he would even care. I tucked the kitten into my jacket pocket and bought a pretzel. The kitten mewled faintly, and I tore off a piece of pretzel and shoved it into my pocket for the kitten. I could hear it smacking gratefully. I smirked, checked my plastic watch, and ate some of my pretzel. It was a honey pretzel, my favorite. The perfect mix of sweet and salty, plus it was warm and chewy. I loved pretzels.
I finished off my pretzel and headed over to Zeffer’s apartment building. It was sort of run down, and the paint in her bedroom was peeling, but you couldn’t tell because of all the drawings on the walls. I took the fire escape and climbed in through her window. There was no one there. The curtains blew in the breeze, and I climbed down from her dresser and looked around. Her bed was still messed up, a sign that she hadn’t been gone too long.
“Zeffer?” I called. Maybe she was in the bathroom or something.
“Zeffer? This isn’t funny!” I called. The bathroom door was open, and it was dark inside. Maybe she had gone to get something. She’d be back soon.
I plopped down on her purple arm chair, pulling off my glove and checking out the scar on my wrist. Sure, I had tons of scars from falling off skateboards and bikes and… trees, but I didn’t have anything like this. This scar was weird, curling around my thumb and spiking down my tanned wrist to my elbow like white fire. Despite the fact that it was still sort of raw and painful, I thought it looked really cool. I traced it, ignoring the burning sensation, all the way up to my elbow.
I heard shouting outside, the sounds of breaking glass. The first thought of mine was, “Ugh. Mom and dad are fighting again?” Then I remembered that they weren’t there. I slipped the glove back on and peeked out the window. And there was Zeffer, standing there, looking very evil. There were bits of garbage and trash swirling around her, like she was making a tornado around herself. Her long, curly brown hair was blowing around her shoulders and in her face. There were two men standing there, aiming some kind of weapon at her.
                Zeffer…” I whispered her name softly so that only I could hear. The wind was really blowing now, catching at my own brown hair three stories above. Another glass bottle went flying at one of the men, knocking the weapon out of his hand. Simultaneously, Zeffer lurched forward and threw something at the other guy, hitting him square in the neck with some sort of compact sharp thing. I cheered her on silently and slipped back through her window.
Zeffer popped back in through her window a few minutes later. Her nose was bleeding, and her face was scratched up. I smirked.
                “Who got his sorry butt kicked?” I motioned to her nose.
                “T.J.” She thought quickly, but I knew she was lying. We slapped a high five and I glanced at her shoulder as the sleeve of her shirt went up with her arm. There was a fiery circular scar there, like a tornado, but it disappeared quickly beneath her shirt sleeve. She, in turn, stared at my gloved hand. I had been hiding the scar under my glove for the past few days. It burned the wound, but it was better than getting weird glances from my family and friends about it. I picked at the glove and stared at Zeffer for a while, studying her dirt smeared, scratched up face.
                I choked. I think I made some kind of sound, then a blinding, stunning pain exploded behind my eyes.
                “Temp?” Zeffer whispered.
                I couldn’t think, couldn’t speak, couldn’t do a thing.
                Something was incredibly wrong.

                Tears streamed from my eyes, and my hands clutched my head to keep the pain from splitting my skull wide open. The only semi coherent thought I had was Please let me die soon, so this freaking pain will stopstopSTOP.
                I fell from the bed, curled up in a weak ball of pain. I hit the ground, wham! but nothing else mattered except that my brain had been replaced by a bursting nova of raw agony. I had just enough consciousness to be embarrassed at hearing myself moan pitifully.
                Death would have been so great just then.
                I don’t know how long it lasted. Slowly, slowly, the pain leached away. I could almost open my eyes a slit. I could swallow. Cautiously, wincing, I let go of my head, expecting huge shards of skull to come away in my hands.
                “Temp?” Zeffer touched my shoulder. I looked up at her through bloodshot eyes. “Are you okay?” Her face was worried, making her look two years older.
                “Uh-huh,” I managed. I just had a stroke or something.
An hour or so later, I thought I had recovered-but from what? We were up on Zeffer’s roof, a smooth rocky place with a perfect view of the night sky. I know you’re thinking, You can’t see the stars in the city! Well, at the spot we were in, you could just barely pick out the few pinpricks of light in the sky above New York.
                I lay on the smooth stones of Zef’s roof, still warm from that day’s heat. A small fire crackled quietly next to us. Yes, the land lord would have a heart attack if he saw what we were doing up here. But, he was busy downstairs. Lucky us.
                “Hey, Temp.” Zef’s voice broke into my thoughts, and I propped myself up on my elbows, peering at her. “You still okay from… you know, earlier?”
                “Yeah,” I nodded, grinning in the firelight.
                “Maybe you should see a doctor,” Zef asked mildly, but her eyes were piercing.
                “Oh, yes, that’s a good idea,” I said weakly. “We need to let more people in authority know about how psycho I am. Do you want me to be locked up in a loony bin forever?”
                “Look,” She began, but I cut her off.
                “I’m okay now,” I said, lying through my teeth. “Maybe it was just a stomach bug or something.” Yeah, the kind of stomach bug that causes brain cancer. The kind of bug you get after you’re struck by lightning. The kind of bug you get before you die.
                I couldn’t help thinking about the lightning strike. Could these headaches be because of the strike? Could I die a slow, painful death? I shook the thoughts from my head. Tonight was going to be fun, and I wasn’t going to let a stupid headache get in the way of it.
                Twenty minutes later, we were exploring the limits of what could be cooked on sticks over an open fire.
                “This isn’t half bad,” Zef said, eating a curled piece of bologna off her stick.
                “Don’t do bananas,” I warned, getting up to shake some warm mush onto the streets below us.
                “Ha! You actually tried that? I thought you were kidding!” Zef said, grinning. I nodded, and then laughed as someone shouted. The probably just wore my failed attempt at roasted banana. “Tempest!” She shouted playfully as I sat back down.
                “S’mores,” I cooed, mashing a graham cracker on top of he chocolate-and-marshmallow sandwich I had carefully balanced on my knee. I took a bite, and pure pleasure overwhelmed my mouth.
                “This is nice,” she said happily. “It’s like summer camp.”
                “Yeah, Camp Bummer,” I said. “for wayward hobos.”
                She nudged my leg with her sneaker. “We are not hobos. Yet.”
                I shot her an “if you say so” look and flipped some bacon over the fire.
                “This is fun,” she said through a mouthful of bologna.
                I stretched out with my head against my balled up sweatshirt. Time to relax. I had no idea what that pain had been, but I was fine now, so I wasn’t going to worry about it.
                The familiar sounds of the city started to lull me to sleep: cars honking, snippets of music, people walking, cell phones ringing, people shouting, dogs barking, bike bells, the crackling fire.
                I was too tired to worry about my brain attack earlier. Too tired to wonder what tomorrow would bring. Too tired to care about being struck by lightning.

                I woke to the smell of smoke. Zef was banking the fire. I propped myself up on one elbow and looked at her through bleary eyes.
                “What’s up?” I questioned, shaking my head to wake myself up.
                “Nothin’. I think we should make it a point,” She put the fire out completely and came over to me. “not to lie to each other.”
                With that, she yanked my glove off and pushed up my sleeve, revealing the fiery scars from my lightning strike. My mouth dropped, I didn’t know what to say.
                “You got struck, didn’t you?” Zef’s eyes narrowed as her fingers grazed my scar. I nodded.
                “I-I was scared to tell you. I thought you wouldn’t believe me.”
                “That’s what I thought…” She trailed off thinking to herself. “Those men weren’t after me, they were after you.” She muttered to herself, thinking.
                “The ones with the funky looking guns?” I questioned.
                Her eyes widened. “You saw them?”
                “Yep. I also saw that funky scar on your shoulder and what you were doing with the wind.”
                Zef opened her mouth to speak, but loud shouting from below interrupted her. They were the same voices from the night before. Zef put a finegr to her lips and grasped my hand. We ran to the edge of the roof.
                And jumped.

                “You’re insane!” I shouted over the wind as we fell. I watched as the ground rushed up at me with nauseating speed. I closed my eyes tight, waiting to go splat. What a crappy way to die: jumping off a fourteen story building to a concrete doom below.
                As it turns out, I didn’t go splat. I just kept falling. And falling. And falling.
                Slowly, I opened one eye, then the other, to find I was being held up by wind. It was blowing back my hair, but I wasn’t falling anymore, just hovering over the dirty pavement of the alley we had (sort of) landed in. I dropped to my hands and knees, and stood up quickly, grasping Zeffer by the shoulders. I shook her violently, whisper-yelling in her face.
                “Two questions! Why did you just jump off the roof?!” I stopped shaking her. “And why didn’t we go splat?!”
                “They’re coming. I’ll explain later!” she replied back, her eyes serious as she turned to a trashcan. Lifting the lid, she pulled out two black back packs and tossed one at me. She slung the other one over her shoulder as I pulled my sleeve down and put my glove back on. Surprisingly, I’d been able to hang onto it during the fall.
                “We’re heading to the subway on 34th street. Act natural.” She whispered at me. We exited the dark alleyway and turned the corner. We heard shouting behind us.
                “Hey! Stop!” They were the voices form last night. We took off running, dodging through people and knocking over newspaper stands to lose the tail.
                “Split up!” Zef hollered breathlessly, disappearing into the crowd. I kept running, turning corners, running across streets and mingling with crowds of people.
                When we finally met back up at the bottom of the stairs to the subway, we were both out of breath and breathing heavily. It was eerily empty, and our steps echoed as we walked.
                “I think,” Zef panted. “we lost ‘em.”
                “Whoever ‘they’ are.” I was hunched over with my hands on my knees; gulping deep lung full’s of air.
                “I’ll explain later.” She dragged me over to the ledge, peered down the tunnel. We hopped over the turnstile edge and started walking down the tracks.
                “…Wha?” I was confused. Zef waved her hand behind her, silencing me.
                Once we were inside, ten minutes went by with no train. Ten loooong minutes with me feeling like I was about to start screaming and climbing the walls. If we’d been followed, if those men came…
                I thought I heard something, and peered out into the darkness. Now that I concentrated, I could hear actual voices. And way down the line, I saw what looked like the flickering of a fire- its reflected glow from around a bend in the tunnel.
                “Let’s go,” Zef said, and jumped off the platform and onto the tracks leading into the darkness.
                I felt rumbling in the ground first- a train.
                “Get off the rails,” she said, and we stepped over to a yucky, disgusting wall and pressed ourselves as flat against it as possible. I slipped my pack off and held it tightly as I tried to flatten myself against the wall. Zef did the same.
                Thirty seconds later, a train rushed past so fast that its slipstream made us saw toward it.
                “Well, that was fairly nerve-racking,” I said as we gingerly peeled ourselves off the wall.
                We walked forward, on alert. We turned a bend in the tunnel. “Whoa,” I breathed.
                Before us was a city. A small ragged city in Manhattan’s basement. Groups of people clotted a large concrete cavern. The ceiling was three stories above us and dripped with paint stalactites and humid condensation.
                Several unwashed faces looked towards us, and someone said, “Few. It’s just Zef,”
                They turned away, uninterested, except for one woman who seemed to be wearing about five layers of clothing.
                “Hey, Zef,” she greeted, staring at Zeffer. “Find anyone?” she gave a glance at me.
                “Hey, Tam. I brought a friend.” She motioned to me in the semi darkness.
                “And who are you?” The woman, presumably Tam, asked.
                “I’m Tempest.” I held out a gloved hand to shake, but Tam just stared at it. “Tempest Reyes.” I hung my hand by my side.
                “Nice to meet you, Tempest. Are you a-” Zef interrupted her.
                “She is. I’ll show her around, if you don’t mind.”
                “Be my guest, but be careful. It’s a bit slippery.”
Zef grabbed my shirt sleeve and led me around the mini city. Here and there the cavern was dotted with fifty-gallon oil drums in which people had made fires. It was a warm summer night, but the fires provided the only light and helped get rid of the dank chill that was creeping up my legs.
                It was a whole new world, made up of homeless people, people who didn’t fit in anywhere, runaways… We saw a handful of kids who looked around our age.
                “What is this place?” I asked, realizing that my head was aching. It had been growing worse since I’d woken up.
                “So, you know those people who chased us?” Zef began.
                “Yeah,” I nodded, staring at the mini city. We walked over to a group of grimy tents.
                “Well, they know about us. Us, meaning those of us who got struck. They know what we can do, and they believe we shouldn’t be able to do what we can do, so they hunt us. Those weird energy weapons you saw, if you get hit, it momentarily freezes your powers. Which usually gives them the chance to take you out.”
                “So, everyone here has been struck? Like, they all have powers like you? Will I get them?” I was struggling not to jump up and down. This was so cool.
                Zef nodded, and we kept walking. “The tents are where the guys our age usually sleep and hangout and everything. Do you wanna meet some of them?”
                “Duh,” I stared at her with a blank expression. We walked towards the back of the cavern, where firelight flickered and some kids laughed.

                “Hey, guys,” Zef greeted them, and some faces turned towards us, taking in every detail of our appearances: Our ratty, wind-blown hair, grimy clothes, scratched up faces. I picked at the torn edge of my cut-off shorts nervously.
                Several flat ‘heys’ and ‘hullos’ echoed back. Some of them went back to talking and joking in hushed tones, but a few others studied Zef and me for a while.
 Then, out of nowhere, a slightly human feeling force tackled me and pushed me to the ground from behind. Something like puss stuck to my face as I went down. The person was still sitting on my back when I rolled over, throwing her off and scrambling away backwards. I came to a stop on all fours, panting next to a garbage can.
The person, who had landed in a pile of trash bags and other assorted junk, turned out to be a girl. She spit black hair out of her face as her body shook with laughter. She seemed to have a tan, but I couldn’t tell if it was just dirt. Dark, daring eyes reflected the flicker of the fire, and her long, sinewy arms and legs struggled to escape from the pile of junk.
“Hiya!” she greeted excitedly. She had sprung up from the pile of trash she was sitting in, and stuck her hand in my face in a friendly wave.
“Hi, dude,” I greeted back, reaching over to pick a banana peel from her hair. She swatted my hand away with a smirk and opened her mouth to speak.
“I’m Amaya!” she waved again, and I waved back. “It means Night Rain in Japanese!”
“Tempest,” I stated, a little overwhelmed at the friendly greeting. There was something weirdly familiar about Amaya, like I knew her somehow. Creepy.