• The Big Apple- christened by jazz musicians and populated by cultureless thugs. It’s just another beautiful morning in the slums, where people wear their homes on their backs and their socks on their hands.

    But don’t get me wrong, not all of New York City’s a stinking cesspool of poverty. In fact, there’s no place I’d rather live.

    The blinding lights, the deafening traffic, the sharp air. Everything about New York makes me feel alive and… electric!

    Electric- that’s how I felt as I made my way down 5th avenue, my woven sandals flip-flopping on the cool concrete. All traces of sleep disappeared from my dark eyes as the mid-august sun beat down on my golden skin.

    Most mornings you would have to light the house on fire to get me up this early, but today was different. Today was amazing.

    I could feel heat and light spark beneath my fingertips with each confident stride I took.

    Today was tryouts. For what, I wasn’t too sure. But tryouts meant a challenge, and a challenge was something I could never pass up.

    It made my blood ignite, and my mind fume. Every carefully composed thought was overthrown by my lust for success. This frightened my father, and I knew that. That’s why he sent me here in the first place; to edge my necessity.

    An old cab honked at me from across the street.

    “Hey lady,” a greasy haired man hollered from the rolled-down window, “ya need a ride?”

    I tapped my foot impatiently on the pavement, but said nothing. If I ignored him, he’d probably just go away.

    “Yo hoo! Girly!”

    Damn! The auditorium was directly across the street; this loser was only obstacle.

    “I’m broke,” I called back, flashing him my empty pockets.

    And he was off, white wall tires squealing on the hot pavement.

    More than a little proud of myself, I sprinted across the busy street. That was too easy.

    From far away Andrew J. Parker Auditorium looked big, from up close, it was just scary. Each grey brick was nearly the size of my head, and the building itself spanned well into the smoky sky. It didn’t look like an auditorium though. In fact, besides its tremendous size, it could be mistaken for any other NY office building.

    But enough with the assessment, what mattered was what’s inside.

    Eyes twinkling with excitement, I placed my long hand on the cold metal handle, and pushed open the wooden door. The door creaked with the effort, but finally gave in.

    Wow, talk about disappointment. It was so, well… plain.

    A few sitting chairs, and a desk littered the hardwood floor. The furniture looked new but the whole room felt dusty and antique.

    There was a woman sitting at the desk, I realized as I stepped further into the room. She too was grey and aged, and amongst her surrounds, particularly non-descript.

    “Pandora Gale?” she asked, not bothering to wait until I reach her.

    “Yes,” I replied weakly, not sure of what else to say.

    “This way.”

    She shuffled along the creaky floor and out the back door.

    Shrugging, I followed. I watched as a few other teens my age were being led into different rooms. The application had stated that everyone would have a different try-out. Some would be asked to perform tasks, while others only had to showcase their powers.

    The old woman led me into a small black room, which looked more like a prison cell than anything else. What kind of place was this anyway?

    Three nearly identical bald, middle aged men, sat in three identical chairs. Each man was holding a small pad of paper and ballpoint pen; the judge’s panel.

    A tall man stood in the corner, making some sort of clicking sound with his teeth. His face and most of his body was covered in some sort of black cloth, but I could tell he wasn’t human.

    “Come,” his muffled voice was rich and surprisingly suiting. Demon maybe?

    Still, I obeyed, taking tentative, but confident steps towards him. This was a challenge, and Pandora Gale never passed up a challenge.


    I reached him.


    I can’t see his face, but I could have sworn I heard him grinning.

    “Your mission, if you choose to accept it,” he began dramatically, “is to remove my cloak.”

    Seriously? This was just lame.

    “I accept.”

    “Then, you may begin.”

    Immediately, I placed my fingers on the coarse wool. I removed them just as quickly; the material burned like acid.

    “Damn it,” I cursed placing my aching fingers in my mouth. Magical shields- I should have known better.

    The demons body shook with laughter, laughter at my blatant stupidity.

    Anger welled in my pores as determination sealed my body.

    I reached towards the cloak again, but this time stopping before the cloth touched my skin.



    I clenched my eyes shut and willed the fabric to tear.



    My chest started to hurt.



    My body ached and creaked, like it was about to tear itself.



    The dismembered fabric fell limply to the floor.

    I opened my eyes, expecting some sort of hideous being, but no such figure graced my eyes.

    The three judges glanced at each other and smiled.

    “Pandora Gale,” the old receptionist cackled, “you have passed the test.”