Chapter 1: A Grey and Boring Day
It wasn't a dark and stormy night, or any day at all suitable for drama. It was a normal day, with a normal temperature. Pretty, but there were still puddles on the road from the morning's drizzle and the sky looked a tinge grey at times. So very…normal.
April hated normal.
She was walking home from school when It happened. This event was so strange, so important to her life, that she would decide it deserved a capitol letter. Even in her thoughts, she always called this event It. If you listen hard enough, you could hear capitalization.
April thought of herself as very much your standard science-fiction geek, and used the word both as a proud battle-cry and a shield to hide behind. Glasses, messy hair, back sore from all the books she carried around in her backpack. If you asked her, she would call herself "hideous", but although she certainly wasn't beautiful, she wasn't ugly either. That is, if she got rid of the pencil behind her ear, wore something other than a shirt with a giant TARDIS on it, and took the time to get the knots out of her hair. All of which would be blasphemy to geekdom, in her opinion, so she was very much content with all the mean kids shouting "geek" at her. She took it as a sign that she was successful in her goals.
As such, she knew all about the butterfly effect and alternate universes and weird stuff like that, stuff that would make Jeremy Rice stare at her with his mouth gaping open for five whole minutes as she ran away. April wished she could have seen his reaction to her explanation of Quantum Theory in person, but she had been too busy running away.
For the rest of her life, April would wonder if this all would have turned out different if a strange idiot in a blue box hadn't walked out of said box in the Cretaceous Period and accidentally stepped on a butterfly while he was running away from a Zygon that crash-landed on Earth and was hell-bent on marrying him.
She would wonder if this would all have gone different if Jeremy Rice had stared for four minutes instead of five a week ago.
Or what if he had stared for six?
"Please," Ava said, laughing as she brushed her thick dark hair behind her ears, "kill me now."
"Oh, come off it," Elaine responded. "My singing's not that bad."
"It is to," Harriet chimed in. Her brown braids bounced on her shoulders as she talked.
"Now you're ganging up on me," Elaine said, grabbing her backpack.
"Yep," Ava said cheerfully.
"April, back me up here," Elaine said, pushing down the book that April had been attempting to read while walking through the hallway.
"Um," April said, slightly confused. "What?"
"Elaine's singing's pretty terrible, right?" Harriet asked. She jumped up to see over Elaine's shoulder. "Oh, hi Mike!"
"Hi!" A random boy that April had never talked to in her life said.
"'course not!" April defended her fried, pulling her book back up. She'd lost her place, and she was at the climax.
"She just wants to read," Elaine said. "That doesn't count!"
"Does to!" Harriet said.
"Do you three wanna come over to my house later?" Elaine asked, a moment later. "My mom's out, so we can watch as much Doctor Who as we want."
"You know," Ava said slowly. "The beginning of that sentence…"
"Ava!" Harriet said. "We're not like them."
"Yeah," April said. "We're the little angels every parent wants to have. I think I can come."
April would later wonder what would happen if she had said no. But she could probably blame some butterfly or random Medieval cleric named Bob for her decision. Time worked like that; she was pretty sure. Random things could influence other random things and create a chain reaction that changed the world.
Taking out her iPhone, April typed a quick 'yes' to her mother. Her friends were very predictable, but that's partially why she liked them. She didn't care about being friends with someone surprising, or loyal, or even smart. She just wanted someone to watch Doctor Who with who didn't take too much effort to be friends with.
If it took too much effort, she could always just hide away in her room and watch Doctor Who from there. At least, that's what she told herself. Secretly, April was very happy that she had friends who would put up with her constant references to an obscure British TV show.
"I can come too," Harriet said. "Harriet?"
"Sorry, viola lessons," April said. "But I can come over at four? Will you still be around then?"
"Well," Elaine said, "I was thinking about re-watching The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang, so I think so."
"Seriously?" Ava asked. "Moffat lover!"
"Hey, Moffat's good," April defended.
"Yeah, at least he wasn't Chibnall!" Harriet added cheerfully.
"But Chibnall's not bad either!" April insisted.
"Yeah, right," Elaine said.
"Yeah," April said sincerely, "right. So," she said, before anyone could contradict her again. "We'll take Elaine's bus?" Ava waved goodbye as she hopped on Bus H.
"Sounds good," Harriet said.
"Hey, what's that?" April asked, running over to the grass by the High School when she spotted a strange object lying there.
"What's what?" Harriet asked curiously.
"Come on," Elaine said. "Mrs. Richards doesn't like late-comers."
April bent down to find a strange device. Taking off her blue glasses, she could spot what appeared to be some sort of battery, with wires running all throughout it. Absurdly thin wires in weird colors. It had several bulbs on it, all of which appeared to be broken or burnt out.
Harriet knelt down by it, ignoring the busses that were beginning to leave the bus circle. "What do you think it –"
"Don't pick it up!" April said, stopping her friend's hands. She looked at it closer, holding back her long auburn hair from the strange device.
"You think it's dangerous?" Harriet asked.
"Could be some sort of bomb. Why'd you pick it up? Talk about genre blindness."
"We're not in a science-fiction story," Harriet protested. "Honestly, April, you believe in this stuff a little bit too –" she saw April's face. "I'm only kidding."
"Oh," April said quietly. "Sorry. Right. So…no!" Harriet had picked up the strange device.
"No countdown, so it's not a bomb."
"Not how bombs work," April said, exasperated. "You don't just go around picking up random—"
"April! Harriet!" Elaine shouted. The bus was driving away.
"C'mon!" Harriet said, dragging April to her feet and running towards the bus. "Let's go!" The three girls chased after the bus, feet pounding on the blacktop as they attempted to reach it in time.
"Give me a moment!" April said, hunched over and breathing heavily. "I can't – can't breathe."
"You need more practice running," Harriet said, looking nervously at the bus. It briefly stopped for the traffic officer and then continued onto the road. "We're too late." She looked down at her shoe, and reached down to tie it.
"My mom can –" April began. But she never managed to finish her sentence.
Jeremy Rice was cool, and he was very concerned about staying cool. If that meant a few eggs got cracked to make a cool omelet, no big deal. Cracking eggs was fun…not that he'd ever admit it. Enjoying 7th and 8th grade Home Economics was definitely not cool in the slightest ever in a million years. But when the eggs stood for people, well, what difference did that make? He'd happily bully a few annoying geeky girls if it meant he was still cool.
So, of course, why wouldn't he give some of his friends a ride in his car? Why wouldn't he turn the music up to a maximum so that he can't hear anything outside? Rap was cool, and Jeremy Rice was cool. A match made in heaven.
And cool kids don't refuse dares. Not that Jeremy Rice was even thinking of refusing when his friends offered him three cans of beer in the boy's bathroom during lunchtime. It never even crossed his head that this was a stupid, ridiculous idea. Cool kids don't think like that, and Jeremy Rice was most definitely cool. He certainly did not think about how he was going to be driving his friends home for a party that day after school, speakers blasting rap music so that he didn't hear the two girls in front of his car until it was too late.
Jeremy Rice was cool, and he was very keen to prove that he was still cool after that really really annoying April Storm girl got him gaping at some weird thing about a cat and electrons.
He was so busy being cool that he ran over two girls in the parking lot, one of them holding a weird device straight out of a science fiction book.
Or more accurately, a TV show.
In the split second before the car hit, April realized what was happening and panicked. Her heart jumped and her mouth prepared to scream.
And then the car hit, hit her and Harriet, and she screamed in pain. She could hear Harriet screaming too, and Elaine calling their names. Through her blurry vision, she could see Jeremy Rice getting out of his car, rap music still blaring, as he ran over to where she and her friend lay on the ground.
And then everything went white.