My name is Karen. I can't tell you my last name, or any of my friends' last names, where I live, or any of that. What I can tell you is that there's a secret invasion. I'm not talking about little green men from Mars with ray guns. I'm talking about Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the one with Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy. Except these aliens don't exactly create doubles, and they replicate your behavior perfectly. If I tell you anything more than the bare minimum, there is a great chance that they'll find me and my friends, something none of us want to risk. These invaders do have an enemy, but it will be awhile before they'll arrive. Until then, we'll have to do everything we can to stop the invaders or, at least, slow them down.
I was with Rachel and Cassie at the mall, shopping for clothes. I'm not much into clothes shopping and neither is Cassie but Rachel, Miss Fashionista, loved it. She picked out different outfits for me, Cassie and herself, trying them on or having us try them on. Rachel handed me the latest outfit she picked out.
"This will look great on you!" Rachel exclaimed.
I looked at the extravagant outfit and the places it was cut. Not only is it too much for me but, if I went home with that, my mom would have my head. According to her, I'm not allowed to wear clothes like this until I turn eighteen. Then I can wear whatever I want. Still, Cassie wanted me to meet Rachel and I wanted to make a good impression.
"Okay," I said, nervously taking the outfit from Rachel and making a mental note to never tell my mom about this.
"I think we've shopped enough," Cassie said, giving me a sympathetic look.
"There's no such thing as shopping enough," Rachel said offended.
"I'll wear it, I don't mind," I said, smiling shyly.
"It's a trip for all of us," Cassie explained, looking at me understandably. "So I think that we should all get a chance to decide what we want to do."
Cassie turned to Rachel, who looked back with an apologetic look.
"All right," Rachel asked, turning to me. "What do you want to do?"
While Cassie was sympathetic and understanding, Rachel was like being in a Lion's den. You had to say the right thing or she would attack you. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but that's what it felt like.
Rachel and Cassie were polar opposites. While Rachel was the blonde haired, blue eyed, supermodel who dressed like she could be on the cover of the teen fashion magazines my half-sister, Tanya, loves, Cassie was a short haired African-America who dressed in casual clothes. As for me, I have long thick red hair that I work every morning to straighten, hazel eyes, freckles and my mom still picks out my clothes. Luckily, my mom's got good taste, so I'm wearing flare pants and a pink T-shirt. Not as glamorous as how Rachel dresses but a little more fashion forward than Cassie's clothes.
I met Cassie when I was at the beach, watching the whales and dolphins swim by. She was there to with her parents to check on a beached whale. It turned out that we both loved animals and bonded over it. Eventually, she invited me to her barn and we started hanging out. As for Rachel, this is the first time I've met her and she makes me nervous. She's too much like Tanya and we didn't exactly get along.
Okay, that's the understatement of the year. Tanya and I hated each other. Tanya was the Queen of the Campus while I was the geeky weird kid and believe me when I say that she used her power to make my school life miserable. When Tanya left, the new Queen didn't consider me worth her time and I became invisible. At first, I thought anything was better than being Tanya's whipping girl. Though, I have to admit, having your mom as your only friend gets a little lonely, not to mention loserish. This trip to the mall with Rachel and Cassie was my chance to stop being a wallflower.
"Well, where?" Rachel asked again.
"I'm not sure," I said.
I was being half-way truthful. I wanted to hang out at the bookstore, or the arcade, but Rachel wouldn't approve of either one. It's like Tanya always told me, popular girls like Rachel didn't hang out with dweebs like me. Sure, they'd pretend to like them in order to have a personal slave, but that was it. Even if Rachel tolerated Cassie's weirdness there's no way she would do the same for mine. So, I keep my interest in stuff like Star Trek, Final Fantasy and Pokemon a secret. I'll just talk about stuff like Friends, Will and Grace, yoga, animals and possibly cooking. Is cooking considered geeky. In the case of animals, I'll just talk about the cute cuddly ones, like puppies and kitties. That way, Rachel won't know that we belong to different social groups. As for Cassie, all she knows about is my love of animals. So I think I should be safe. I looked at my watch.
"It's getting late," I said, grateful for the time. "I think we should head home."
"Okay, I didn't find anything worth buying, anyway," Rachel agreed.
Cassie sighed in relief. We headed for the exit and spotted three guys, one of them I knew as Jake. Well, I didn't really know him, but I knew of him. Jake was Rachel's cousin. The strong-looking guy with brown hair and dark eyes who always has a serious look on his face. Half of the girls in school had a crush on him and I've heard Cassie mention him a few times, so she was definitely not the exception.
The other half had a crush on his best friend, Marco. He had long brown hair, a dark complexion and a reputation as the class clown.
"Don't think I've seen you before," Marco said to me with that air of confidence and a smile that looked almost flirtatious. "Name's Marco."
"I-I'm Karen," I said, looking at my shoes.
Was he flirting with me? No, he was probably just being nice to me. Guys don't find me attractive, especially the ones like Marco.
"Are you nervous?" Marco asked me. "A cute girl like you shouldn't be nervous."
"Th-thank you," I said, looking up to meet Marco's eyes and turning away again, feeling my whole face turn red.
Can you blame me? He said I was cute! No guy has ever said that to me before!
"Back off, Marco," Rachel said, her tone showing that she meant business.
So, he was flirting with me and "Miss Popular" didn't like it. Did she have to have all the guys?
"What's the matter, jealous?" Marco teased as he winked at me.
"Don't flatter yourself," Rachel shot back as she rolled her eyes.
It could be that he liked Rachel and was using me to make her jealous. Still, he thought I was attractive and my mom always said that I need to get over Josh. He's my half-sister's boyfriend, football quarterback, blond hair, blue eyes, strong built. He was a dream boat that neither Jake, Marco or the third guy could live up to. Josh was the love of my life, but he only thought of me as Tanya's kid sister.
Oh, I forgot to mention that there was a third boy with us. He was a boy with straggly blond hair who looked out of place next to Jake and Marco. He was the one kid I've never seen before, and I certainly didn't know him through reputation.
"Karen?" Jake asked with an air of familiarity. "You're Tanya's sister?"
"Yeah, that's me," I said, slightly angry. "And I'm guessing you're Jake, Tom's brother."
All right, maybe that last part was a little mean, but you try living in your sibling's shadow and not letting it get to you. Okay, he didn't call me Tanya's weird sister. So I maybe I shouldn't have done that. Thankfully, Jake only nodded his head.
"So, you guys going home?" he asked, turning his attention to Rachel. "You shouldn't go through the construction site by yourselves. I mean, being girls and all."
Was he serious? Yes, it was dangerous for young girls to walk through the construction site, but it's not like it was any less dangerous for boys.
"Are you going to come and protect us, you big, strong m-a-a-a-n?" Rachel said, I gave her a smile that she returned. "You think we're helpless just because —"
"I'd appreciate it if they did walk with us," Cassie interrupted. "I know you're not afraid of anything, Rachel, but I guess I am."
Though I did agree with Rachel about Jake's stupid bravado, I was also afraid of walking through the construction site.
"It's like they say, safety in numbers," I said, nervously.
Great, I probably sounded really stupid. The third boy just smiled.
"Yeah," He said, sounding just as nervous as I was.
He seemed like one of those kids who's only friend was his mother. So I imagine that he was probably happy that he got to hang out with Jake and Marco, desperate for them to like him. I felt the same way around Cassie and Rachel. Plus, that boy seemed a little too interested in Jake. I think he's gay. Not that I have a problem with that, but it wasn't exactly popular. Just like being a Star Trek fan. Okay, not the same thing but I could understand what he was going through, a little.
We finally got to the construction site, which was a big abandon area surrounded on two sides by trees, with the highway separating it from the mall area. In the middle of the construction site and the nearest houses was a broad open field. I'll admit, I was a little scared to walk through it and, when I left to hang out with Cassie and Rachel at the mall, my mom gave me several lectures about taking the longer safe route instead of going through the dangerous path just to get home quicker. Personally, I think it's safer to travel through a dangerous place with company than to travel the safer route alone. I mean, what's the worst that could happen?
What happened next changed my life forever. At the time, I didn't know it because I was too busy trying to keep my wits about me. Plus, I've been addicted to The Twilight Zone and the episode about the doll that came to life was still fresh in my mind. I felt something against my leg and shrieked, getting the attention of everyone around me except for the blond boy who was staring at something in the sky. Then I saw something that looked like a rat vanish into the shadows.
"Sorry, false alarm," I said, feeling really stupid.
"Look," the blond haired boy said, pointing to something in the sky.
I couldn't help but wonder what it was he found so fascinating and looked up to see a brilliant blue-white light that scooted across the sky, going slower and slower.
"Wow," I said in pure amazement.
"What?" Jake asked.
"Just look," I said at the exact same time as the blond haired boy.
I couldn't take my eyes off of that star, so I don't know if the others looked up as well.
"What is it?" I heard Jake ask.
"I don't know," the blond haired boy answered.
I knew what it was but I didn't say anything. What if I was wrong and it turned out to be a weather balloon? Everyone would laugh at me. Cassie just blurted it right out.
"It's a flying saucer!"