Zara is a perfectly normal teenage nerd. That is, until she finds out her parents sold her soul to the devil and Hell comes a-knocking to collect.
It had been the sixth of June. Or, the fifth of June.
In other words, it was 12 am, and I was tired and frustrated and all too frazzled to care about the fact that it was my birthday.
Believe it or not, I had summer school and had, just then, been doing my level best to finish an essay that was due in a matter of hours.
Maybe it was a bad idea. To be fair, I had no idea what was coming.
The universe chose that time to give me a head-splitting migraine. The kind I'd been getting regularly since I was six. As of then they'd been getting worse, and the handful of tylenol I'd taken in the last half hour had done nothing to quell them.
I also had another kind of pain, a sharp pain that made it hard to sit.
No...not there. In my tailbone, jeez.
My parents had given me about a thousand different explanations they'd found on the internet-including both constipation and diarrhea-and none of their 'miracle cures' did anything to help. Including the time when they sent me to an acupuncturist and I had the most horrifying hour of my entire life.
I'd learned to stop asking them for advice.
But, anyways, back to my weirdo pain problems.
I was trying to slog my way through my third body paragraph when the pain was too much and I literally crawled off my chair, curling into a ball on the floor and grabbing my head.
Both my parents and my sister were out either partying or partying, so none of them heard me screaming or crying hysterically as my scalp exploded with pain.
It felt like there were two snakes in my skull trying to burrow out of my head. Snakes made of lava. Soon afterward I felt the same pain at the base of my spine.
I seriously started to wonder if I had some kind of new strain of killer constipation, lying there on the ground helplessly.
I gritted my teeth and shut my eyes. Seconds, minutes maybe hours later the pain peaked in one moment of sheer agony and then reduced to a dull ache.
I opened one eye cautiously before sitting myself up and opening the other. The worst seemed like it was over, but I was still a little scared out of my wits.
My scalp felt wet and, when I touched it, my fingers came away bloody. I ran to the bathroom, afraid I'd burst my head concentrating on the Treaty of Versailles.
When I looked in the mirror, I felt myself gape in shock. A few inches from each of my temples I could see tiny...horns protruding from my scalp, barely visible above my dark hair. I poked one of them and realized miserably that they were rather tender to the touch.
I was unsure whether I was having some elaborate hallucination brought on by stress or experiencing a sudden mutation, but promptly decided that I needed a shower.
It isn't fun having blood in your hair. No fun.
I had just thrown off my sweaty clothes when I noticed the second surprise I had that day.
There, swinging just above knee-level, was a black, scaly, forked tail. And it was attached to me.
I stared at it, and it suddenly went still. A second later, when I'd let my thoughts wander, it was swinging like a pendulum again.
So either I was on some kind of crazy high from the Tylenol, or I had an extra limb.
I was in shock for the duration of my shower, and even as I worked to finish up my essay.
I'd worn a hat just in case my parents or Izzie showed up anytime soon, and kept the tail hidden in my sweats.
It was kind of uncomfortable, but the last thing I wanted was to deal with three more panic attacks in one night.
I blazed through the bibliography, printing the sucker before shutting the laptop down and throwing myself onto my bed.
What a birthday present.