On that day mom sat me down after breakfast and explained Magic to me. Her way, obviously. She said it was a privilege and that I should be proud of my abilities. That the world was my oyster, basically. Which isn’t true, ’cause you can eat oysters. She told me I could read minds, which I’d figured already from things she’d let drop and that had kinda half-happened over the years, and by then it was clear that I could also do the recognizing Magic bit. But she admitted she didn’t know what else my exaltation meant. Boy, did I find out.

I went on to school as normal that day. Normal, huh. The last time in a long while I’d feel that way. ’Cause no sooner had I come of Magic age than I had my first vision. Although calling these things visions is pretty incorrect in their first stages. They always start with sound only, like an old TV set. By the time the tube warms up and I’m able to figure out what’s going on it can be too late.

I went to Templeton, just like mom. And like her I’d had to make very little effort up until then. The low-level child protection Magic had done its thing.

Anyhow, I’m now just coming up to the school doors when I hear this hollow, raspy kinda voice. ‘Gotcha!’ it says, and follows this up with a coarse laugh. Obviously I look around. Nobody there. Not even other students, ’cause thanks to my birthday chat with mom I’m late. Which I’m not worried about. It’s hardly gonna be a problem, I’m thinking. I do get a little worried, though, when the next voice I hear is my sister Bobby’s. ‘Forty-two,’ it says, in the same bored, blasé kinda tone I use when giving my answers in class. ‘That’s correct, thank you, Roberta,’ comes the reply. I recognize this voice too. It belongs to Mr Redwood, Bobby’s maths teacher. Before I can arrive at a halfway proper thought or even clutch my head in my hands, the first voice is back again. ‘Mother, daughter, all the same,’ it growls. ‘At last I got one of you. And you’re going to pay, you are!’