“Come on, Liv. Please?” My best friend, Suzanne Birdcage, begged.

I shook my head vehemently. “No.”

“But Liv…”

“I said no.”

Grinning wickedly, Suzie flicked a finger and a flame ignited on the tip.

“Suz…”

“What? You need to live a little, Liv. You’re too… uptight.”

“I’m not uptight.”

“You’re valedictorian of our senior class and your idea of a good time is cloud-watching.”

“Watching clouds is fun.”

“For you maybe. You’ve got magic, Liv— use it.”

“But…”

“What happened with Sarah was an accident. It wasn’t even your fault, anyway. Jaine pushed you.”

“Yes, but I lit Sarah’s hair on fire.”

“Not on purpose.”

“Yes, but I didn’t even touch her. That means my powers are getting stronger.”

“You can’t live you life afraid of your magic. What? You’re just going to swear off magic forever?”

“As long as it takes to gain control of it again.”

“You’ll only gain control through practice.”

Picturing a fountain of water splashing down on Suzie’s head, I raised my eyebrows at her. She was suddenly soaking wet and I hadn’t lifted a finger. “See? It’s dangerous.”

“You just need to focus. And not think of bad things happening to people.”

“I can’t help it if people are stupid or mean.”

Suzie sighed. “Can you try to play nice, Liv? Please?”

“Can people try to say something intelligent? Please?”

Suzie smiled faintly. “I’ll help you hone your powers. Start with something simple. Freeze me.”

“As in ice or time.”

“Either, or.”

“Let’s try time first.”

“So you’re letting me train you?”

I shrugged. “I don’t see how I have a choice.”

Suzie clapped her hands, beaming. “Excellent!”

I pictured time stopping. In my mind, I saw everything around me stop. The cars in the streets froze, Suzie could no longer move, time was standing still.

It held for ten more seconds and then, with a horrible ripping, tearing noise, the delicate fabric of time exploded.

 

With no idea how to handle this type of situation, I used my magic to unfreeze Suzie.

“That was good,” Suzie told me, smiling. “See? Nothing to be afraid of.”

“How about that?” I spun Suzie around so she could see the gaping black hold in the middle of the dog park behind her.

Suzie gasped. “What did you do?”

Nothing! My powers are out of control—”

No sooner had I gotten the words out than an alien stepped through the hole.

“I’ve opened a portal,” I said in awe. “A portal into another dimension.”

“We’ve got to do something.”

“Like what?” I hissed back. “How about running? I like running. What about you? I’m personally a fan of the running… Why aren’t you running?”

“There’s no need to pan—”

“There’s every need to panic, Suzie! We’re being invaded by aliens!”

“That’s not an alien, silly.”

“Then what would you call that? It’s pale green, ghostly, ghastly, scaly, humanoid, has antennae, came out of a black hole and speaks funny— it’s an alien.”

The alien creature appeared to be speaking to someone. “Sheofn gjriuy euik yakshi orno…” It stopped to listen to something, then replied, “Gha.”

Pausing, the alien’s head whipped up and his buggy eyes turned to stare directly at us.

“I suggest we start running now,” I whispered.

Suzie shook her head. “Perhaps he only wants a friend?”

The way he was looking at us… “I think he wants dinner.”

“He’s just lonely.”

“What is wrong with you? He’s clearly hungry.”

Ushibop diochung rethkitch.”

“That didn’t sound like do you wanna be friends to me!”

Suzie took a step forward. “Hi…” she said awkwardly. “I’m Suzanne and this is my best friend, Elivabyth.”

“Great,” I groaned. “Now he knows our names!”

The alien cocked its head with a rather bulbous nose, eyeing us up. “You…” it said slowly. “Food?”

See?” I hissed.

“I have potato chips.” Suzie unzipped her backpack and took out a bag of chips. She tossed it to the creature.

“I don’t think he wants potato chips.”

The alien pulled a blaster and shot the bag in midair. Then he aimed it at us. “A…ttack?”

“No, no, no.” Suzie shook her head and mimed eating. “Food.”

The creature cocked its head again.

“Let’s just go.” I begged Suzie.

Suzie stood her ground.

Rolling my eyes and fearing for my best friend’s life, I stepped out and held out my hands, palm facing the alien. “Hurt her, you die.”

Liv!”

I ignored Suzie’s protests, fully intending to blast this martian back to Hell. “You don’t belong here!”

“We… come… in…” The alien seemed to be struggling for the right English word. Finally he gave up and said, “Figgbo.”

Figgbo?” Suzie repeated, prompting.

The alien seemed to be listening to something, then said slowly, “I bel…ieve… you call… it… pieces.”

Suzie frowned, then understood. “You come in peace? See, Liv? He’s harmless.”

I wasn’t so sure about that. Instead of answering, I blasted the alien with a shot of light. The alien fell back, stunned.

Suddenly, aliens seemed to be everywhere, pouring out of the hole in hoards.

“I think the alien you just killed was a diplomat, here to see if humans were hostile!”

“I didn’t kill him.”

“You didn’t help, either.”

Exasperated, I ignored Suzie’s scolding. “Now can we run?”

Run!” Suzie screamed and we ran. We ran long and hard and fast. We ran until my legs felt like jell-o and I was out of breath. We ran all the way back to our coven, Circle Hartbrayk, but it wasn’t enough. We ran as desperately as one human— witch— could…

 

But it was no use. We ran to no avail, but the damned aliens caught up.

They swarmed our coven’s headquarters and broke down the door, seizing us.

“You… murderer… Code 1-9-0-6…”

I caught snippets of the aliens’ conversations. They mostly spoke in alienish, but some apparently preferred English.

“Code 1-9-0-6…”

“Code 1-9-0-6…”

“Code 1-9-0-6…”

It became a buzzing around me. Those four numbers, a code. They resonated deep inside my skull, as if I should understand what they meant. Code 1-9-0-6

There was a peculiar sound and I passed out.

 

“Are they… awake…?”

The aliens speech was slow. Slurred. But maybe that was because I was still completely out of it. The aliens must have drugged us. Looking around, I saw Suzie was lying beside me. She was still unconscious. We were in a metal vehicle of some kind. A hovercraft, maybe? I could feel the floor vibrating and tilting beneath me.

“Blonde one… is.” An alien said. The words reached my ears and I sluggishly realized they were talking about me.

“Who are you?” I asked. My vision was blurry and I suspected I was crying.

“Gnolk.” The alien who had asked if we were awake knelt by my head. “You are… Blonde?”

“I’m blonde, yes, but my name is Liv. Elivabyth.”

“Pretty… Liv.” Gnolk reached out to stroke my hair. “Like a duckling’s… fluff.” He pulled out a scary-looking blade and started sawing off a huge chunk of my hair.

Screaming, I tried to get away. My unsuccessful attempts at a fight woke up Suzie.

“Unhand her!” Suzie yelled, throwing herself at the alien.

Gnolk swatted her away like a pesky fly. She tried to wrestle him to the floor, but Gnolk was a big alien and poor Suzie was so petite… Suddenly, there was blood.

Suzie face changed and I saw Gnolk’s knife sticking out of her gut.

I shrieked and crawled to Suzie’s side, cursing out the alien, who just cocked his head as if appraising a piece of artwork he didn’t like. “Suz? Suzie? Suzanne! Oh my god. oh, dear fucking Lord! Suzie… Fucking hell… You motherfucking bastard! Suz?”

“Liv.” Suzie placed a hand on my arm as I laid her head in my lap.

“They’ve killed you, Suz.”

Suzie shook her head. “They’ve given me life.”

“I won’t let you die in freaking space.”

“Then send me back to earth, will you, Liv?”

I hesitated.

“It’s the only way, Liv…”

Steeling myself, I touched my forehead to Suzie’s and called on our combined magical forces to teleport Suzie to her house. Her mom would still be home and would take her to the hospital.

I turned furiously to Gnolk. “You stabbed her!” I seethed.

“She attack…ed me?”

“She was trying to protect me.”

“She was… threat.”

“No. She was friend.” I raised my hands and blew Gnolk to bits. I had control of my power and it felt good.

 

“You… killed… Gnolk!” Another alien flung herself at me, but I blew her to pieces, as well. I did the same with the next five.

Unfortunately, I didn’t expect the alien who came from behind. He grabbed me. Instead of attacking, though, he stuck his hands down my pants. I wasn’t wearing a belt, so it made it easy for him to yank my pants down. Wrestling me to the ground, he molested my chest and then moved downward.

I was about to be defiled by an alien.

The alien slid something silver and shiny onto my finger.

“You can never… take this… off. After we… release you, we… can always find… you… again.”

I fought, but he was too strong. Eventually, he got it in and my soul was forever stained.

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