shiny solar surface of her hoverboard. She ran toward it,
ignoring the burning flowers in her path.
The board seemed untouched by the flame, protected by
good luck and the layer of dew it collected every nightfall.
She quickly folded the board and stepped onto it, not
waiting for the yellow light to turn green. The heat had
mostly dried it already, and it rose into the air at her com-
mand. Tally took the board over the river, just above the
water, and skimmed her way upstream, looking for a break
in the wall of fire to her left.
Her grippy shoes were ruined, their soles cracked like
sunbaked mud, so she flew slowly, scooping up handfuls of
water to soothe her burning face and arms.
A noise thundered to life on Tally’s left, unmistakable
even above the roar of the fire. She and the board were
caught in a sudden wind, shoved back toward the other
shore. Tally leaned hard against it and stuck a foot into the
water to slow the board. She clung tightly with both hands,
desperately fighting being thrown into the river.
The smoke suddenly cleared, and a familiar shape
loomed out of the darkness. It was the flying machine, its
thundering beat now obvious above the raging fire. Sparks
jumped across the river as the machine’s windstorm stirred
the fire to a new intensity.
What were they
? she wondered. Didn’t they real-
ize they were spreading the fire?
Her question was answered a moment later when a