Sixteen-year-old Calli Courtnae is shocked when she breaks the 100-meter world record at her track meet and is whisked off to Montana to train for Olympic tryouts. In this strange setting she finds something totally unexpected: her fellow athletes are mysterious, paranoid, and endowed with the same gift of super-speed. The truth, Calli learns, is she has been brought to Montana to join an elite group of superhuman Runners who train for secret missions so complex they're boggling. Just as she tries to figure it all out, she discovers the next assignment includes delivering a valuable diamond sought after by evil forces . . . and she's the one to carry the diamond.
A mysterious woman secretly gives Calli the real diamond, while the team leader is given a decoy. Almost immediately the magic diamond unleashes within her a startling range of supernatural powers and mind-reading abilities. Using her new-found powers, Calli exposes traitors among her team, has visions of her companions' tragic futures, and learns she alone holds the power to change the outcome. While Calli knows her powers derive from the secret diamond in her pocket, her companions do not, and Calli dreads the fast-approaching day when they will discover the truth.
I don’t understand what’s happening to me. Something strange and inexplicable is going on inside my body, and there isn’t anyone I can tell about it. I wouldn’t even know where to start.
I just crossed the finish line in first place for the 100-meter race. No one else is even close, I’m sure, but I turn around to verify this and can see the other runners are still racing towards the finish line. The crowd has grown eerily silent. I glance up at the stands to find nearly every face looking in my direction.
The other runners finally reach me and halt nearby, panting as they walk in circles to cool down while throwing suspicious glances my way. I watch the lips of a couple of the competitors and listen to their low whispers. They debate back and forth about whether I jump-started or not. The shorter of the two girls hammers her point home by asking why the starter’s gun didn’t fire twice to indicate a false start if that’s what happened.
The answer: I didn’t leave the starting blocks before the other runners.
Coach Simms jogs over to me with his clipboard papers flapping in the wind. His overly round waist throws off his balance. “Calli! Wow! How did you do that?”
I respond to Coach Simm’s question with the puzzled truth. “I don’t know, Coach.” I’ve never won a race before—and to win by such a long shot without feeling the least bit tired doesn’t seem right. I’m beginning to wonder if winning the race was all a weird dream. “What was my time?”
Coach hands me his stopwatch and grins. The time shows 9.3 seconds. “Of course, this isn’t the official time,” he says. “I’ll find out what it was.”
My brain struggles to grasp the incredibly fast time on Coach’s stopwatch. It has to be a mistake, I think.
We are ordered off the track so the next race can be set up. Coach Simms and I walk towards the bleachers where my personal belongings set in a pile. As we reach the bleachers, one of the officials pulls Coach Simms aside. I climb the stairs towards my half-frozen bottle of water, winding through the gaps between fellow athletes. Their stares of question and suspicion prickle my skin. They’re probably thinking I’m on steroids.
I’m not a track star or a spectacular athlete in any sense of the word. I tried out for the team last season in my sophomore year because of the encouragement of Coach Simms, who is also my algebra teacher. I figured it would be better for me to join an extracurricular sport than to stay home alone after school. Until today, I haven’t performed very well. In fact, my best time for the 100-meter was 13.9 seconds, not 9.3.
I pass through a group of senior boys and one of them teases, “Hey, Courtnae, wanna share some of your ‘speed’ with us?” His buddies chuckle. I don’t even know his name, and frankly, I’m shocked he knows mine. I sit down by my things and take a long swig from my water bottle. The boys are still staring at me—something I’m not used to—so I raise my water in a toast-like fashion, smiling half a smile, and drink some more.
I’m doing my best to appear like I’m another tired athlete, yet I can’t ignore the sensations racing through my body. My muscles feel pumped and ready to run again, which is completely the opposite of how I usually feel after giving the 100-meter my all. Maybe Coach had been slow in starting his watch and I didn’t actually have such an unthinkably fast time—but that would mean the other runners were incredibly slow. I rub my face with my hand, trying to transfer some of the moist coolness from the bottle to my skin. Now would be a good time to awaken from this dream.
Coach Simms climbs the bleachers and heads in my direction. I take another drink of water so my hands have something to do. Will Coach ask if I am using drugs or steroids? He sits nearby, fatigued and sweating profusely from the climb. He looks like he could be having a heart attack.
“So, Calli, what in the world did you eat for breakfast?” He grins, as if he’s come up with an original line to express his amazement.
I shrug my shoulders.
“You broke the record!”