Kelly is different. No one really knows why, but everyone knows it. What they don't know is what she sees in each of them. Categories…stereotypes. Each one fits neatly in her compartmentalized system. For her, the stereotypes are obvious. At least they were until she met him. He's the only one who defies her stereotypes, and she is determined to find out why.


1. Different


Eight steps forward, turn, eight steps back.


"I should have helped him."


Eight steps forward, turn, eight steps back.


My dad sighs, "You did Kell. If you hadn't found him, he would have died."


I shake my head, continuing to pace, "No, I should have stopped him! I should have known that this was going to happen."


My mom reaches out and grabs my arm, bringing me to a halt. I look at her and she points at my chair, clearly telling me to sit.


Grumbling, I follow her orders. The pacing is starting to make me dizzy anyway.


The cushions on the chair blows a sudden burst of air and I cringe at the smell.


I've always hated hospitals. The smell of antiseptic and sickness permeates everything. When I leave I can usually still smell it on my clothes.


The waiting rooms are even worse than the individual rooms. There are people everywhere, some sick, others waiting on loved ones, one praying that their loved one  will make it through the night. Waiting. Always waiting. Never finding anything out. There's nothing do to except pace.


A nurse walks in the waiting room door and I jerk up, hoping for good news. "Mr. Finsen?" She asks the older man sitting beside me.


"Yes?" The man jumps up wringing his hands, eyes bright with anticipation.


"Congratulations. You are the grandfather to a beautiful baby boy."


I sit back down in my chair as Mr. Finsen practically bounces out of the room after the nurse. How can he be so happy? This waiting room is full of misery. How can anyone justify forcing another person into a world full of death and evil?


My dad reaches across my mom and pats my knee. "Come on, Kell. There's no way that you could have known. None of us knew that this was going to happen. You can't blame yourself."


He's wrong. I did know. I didn't know exactly what was going to happen, but I knew that something was wrong. I should have seen it coming. All the signs were there, literally screaming in my head! Now it's all my fault. If he dies, there will be no one to blame but me.


Right after I figured it all out too. I've had this ability for years, and when I finally understand it, I just sat back and watched.


'Maybe I lost it. Maybe that’s why I didn't know!' I look around the room, focusing in on the noise. Everything seems to be normal. Everyone's ranking is slightly higher than normal, but this is a hospital. I guess that's to be expected.


Let me back up a little bit and explain.


For some reason, I can tell things about people. Well, technically just one thing.


When I turned thirteen I began to hear a sort of noise. It was kind of like that random shriek that you'll hear when you've got sinus pressure, only it didn't stop. It wasn't painful. Just annoying. I asked my parents about it, but they said that they couldn't hear anything.


After a couple days of this I realized that it wasn't going to go away.


My parents took me to the doctor, and according to him I was fine. There wasn't any reason for me to be hearing the noise. I wasn't sick. My ears were in perfect condition. Yet the shriek continued to keep me up night after night.


Weeks passed, and the shriek was still there.


It wasn't until I went with my mom on one of our biweekly trips to the convenience store that I realized something. These weren't just irritating noises that had no rhyme or reason to them, they were hums that came from the people I was around and varied in pitch from person to person. For example, my mom's hum was slightly higher than my fathers.


Later, I also realized that the sounds aren't completely unique to each individual. Some people's hum will be the same pitch as another's. There was a definite lowest pitch, but I don't think I've heard as high as it will go yet. I don't know why I think this, but I just have a feeling.


Because of this I ranked the pitches 1-10. I've seen people with pitches 1-8 and left those last two for ones I haven't seen yet. Just two though. If you're going to go above 5 you've gotta go all the way to 10. You just gotta.


Mostly the only 1s that I have ever seen were babies and little kids. They are usually 2s by the time they are ten. I never see adults that are lower than 3s except for those with mental disabilities.


So far I've only seen one person as high as an 8. He was a middle-aged homeless man I saw walking out of a store. The next day the news said that he had punched a policeman after he was caught shoplifting.


At school I'll get anything from 2-4. It's usually really obvious what a person is going to be. For example, the peppy student librarians are mostly 2s, and fakes like the guys on the football team and the cheerleaders are usually 4s.


This all probably sounds insane. I mean, only a crazy person hears noises in their head that only they can hear, and then decides to claim such power over people as to name them based off of those noises!


I know that's exactly what most people would think. That’s why I told my parents that the shrieks stopped. That's why I don't usually tell people about this.


I'm not crazy.


I don't think I have a superpower either.


I'm just… different.


Most of the time I just ignore it. The hum becomes a constant, yet musical background noise. I walk through the school hearing a chorus of 2s 3s and 4s, and pretend to be normal.


Ever since my thirteenth birthday I've kept my secret and watched the pattern repeat over and over again, but at the end of the last school year something changed. One boy stood out from the rest.


His rating: 6.


Other than a little bit of nerves over starting high school, the 6 was pretty much the only thing I thought about over the summer. Now, I'm sitting in a hospital waiting to see if he lives or dies.


So much has happened in such a short time. I look up at the small clock hanging on the wall. It's two in the morning. I count back in my head, its only been one week, two days, and 18 hours since school started back and my life changed forever.


If only I had known then what I know now

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