Clutching Mark's history book to her chest, Erica screeched to a halt by the English block and stared up at the roof. There was no-one there, apparently, and, being the good girl of the school she had never learned how to climb up. Biting her lip, she ventured around the side, hoping that something would leap out at her; obligingly, the toilet windowsill and adjacent shed appeared. She eyed them, then clamped the book between her teeth and began to climb.
She hauled herself over the edge of the tiles just in time to hear someone yell "What?!" extremely loudly.
Hurrying in a bizarre half-crouch across the exposed rooftop, she rounded the chimneystack and saw Mark, who had spoken, sitting next to a girl who looked as though she'd cried for a month. They turned to look at her; Mark looked indignant, and this indignation evidently overcame any worry about social status and the need to actually know who she was.
"She just told me she was screaming-uh, wailing-for me! Me! You know what that means?"
Erica felt that she knew all too well, and it did not bode well. Not at all.
"It means you're going to die," she said, sitting down next to him.
Startled by her apparently intuitive knowledge, Mark blinked, shut his mouth, and took another look at her. She still looked just the same. Nerdy glasses. Over-neat uniform, although her shoes were now scuffed and her tights laddered from the climb up the wall. She didn't look like she would have any truck with banshees. She looked like the only thing she would have truck with was complicated maths. She returned his gaze coolly, and he blushed despite himself.
The girl, the banshee, put her head in her hands.
"Grief, another one who shouldn't be able to see me and can. This'll mean trouble, you mark my words. And I thought this would be a nice easy assignment..."
Mark spluttered in indignation; Erica poked him in the arm sharply.
"Stop whimpering," she told him waspishly, and thrust his history book at him. He grasped it obediently and subsided into sulky silence. The banshee blew her nose again and shrugged.
"Don't blame me, matey. I don't ask to wail whenever I see someone who's going to die soon. It's just what I do. I can't help it."
Erica, despite herself, found this rather interesting.
"How do you know if someone's going to die soon?"
Another shrug. "I just do. I look at them and I see them dying."
"What do you mean?"
"Well...I see the date they'll die, and how, and if it's soon I feel the urge to cry and I can't stop it. If it's a peaceful death I just sob quietly. If it's violent, I wail."
Mark looked up, morbid curiousity beating out his determination to sulk and the sudden gnawing worry that had settled in his stomach.
"So how am I going to die, then?" he demanded, more harshly than he intended. "You were wailing, so it's gotta be violent, right? You may as well tell me, 'cause it's going to happen, isn't it?"
He folded his arms and glared at the two girls. Erica pushed her glasses up her nose and bit her thumbnail. The banshee peered at him, and frowned.
"I don't know. I can't see. That's not right. I...can't see..."