Better Than Me

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I should really stop dreaming.

Also, there was a legitimate reason for me not posting. WordPress on my iPad wasn’t working. Not to mention Year 12 is crushing my soul. 

Anyway. Flashbacks fucking suck. The end. 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 “Well? What do you think?”

I jump as the man behind me speaks suddenly. After quickly looking around for humans, I speak. “What do you mean?” 

 “I know you know,” he says flatly. 

 “About what?” 

 “About what just happened. Come on. What do you think?” 

 I turn around slowly. “Kaya…disappeared. After someone crashed into the palace, right?” 

 “…you know that someone, don’t you?” 

 “…” 

 “Who was it? Did you see them?” I can see that Daniel’s trying to keep his voice as non threatening as possible, but I can still feel the tension radiating from him. 

“…I didn’t need to,” I whisper. “There’s no one else it would be.” 

 “Who?” 

 “He killed her,” I say to him. “How could you not consider him?” 

 He’s silent for a moment. “You mean…” 

 “Yes.” 

 “But he’s in hiding. Why would he steal Kaya?” 

 “I don’t know. Because he can?” I feel drained from this conversation. Daniel’s eyes won’t leave my face, as if I’m hiding something. Which I am.

“You know what Kaya’s capable of,” I explain. “If he could control Kaya, imagine what he could do.”

It dawns on him. Even though this is more of an attempt to sway his attention away from the truth of her death, it is a genuine concern, not just for him, but for Kaya’s world. Not that I care. “You’ve got a point,” he says. “With Kaya’s body on life support, it wouldn’t take much for someone like him to reanimate her. She’d be a true weapon then.” My blood runs cold at the image of Kaya taking a step like a puppet dangling from a string, so much closer to reality than he realises. “I don’t understand why he’d leave her on the lake after killing her though,” he argues. “Why would he let the enemy take her back only to retrieve her again? As a result, we now have new information concerning Esper tech. Not to mention it would be a more effective strategy to leave us in the dark on Kaya’s status.”

“I don’t know. Maybe he’s just showing off. Showing us that he can infiltrate the castle. Putting us on edge.”

“Why not just kill us then?”

I frown. I didn’t take Daniel to be the type to not percieve this. “Obviously he wants to torture us before he kills us. It would be more fun for him that way.” I let my disgust of the monster show on my face.

Daniel just stares at me. “Since when do you know how psychos work?” he enquires.

I shake my head. “I’ve been watching monsters longer than you,” I told him. “Their insanity isn’t that hard to pick up on.”

Daniel accepts my excuse. “Still, it’s a big risk, letting us take her back. Would he really gamble the goals of the Espers for a quick thrill?” he contemplates.

“He’s not working for them,” I object too quickly. Immediately, Daniel’s face becomes suspicious again. I quickly clarify. “I think he hates them as much as he hates us,” I say. “He has no side but his own.” Just like Kaya.

Daniel watches me for a moment, and I worry that he’s picked up on what I didn’t say. For a moment, I feel guilty that I’m keeping this from him. If our roles were reversed, I’d want to know the truth. Then he speaks again. “He’s like you then,” he concludes. “No other concern except for himself. Maybe it’s not just Kaya’s viewpoint that makes you understand him.”

His words are cruel, and they sting as if he slapped me. Why was that necessary? I look away from him, gritting my teeth in silence. One thing was for certain; any pity or guilt I felt for him immediately vanished.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

That incident didn’t stay on my mind for long. Things at home were horrible, and though Daniel’s words stayed in my head long afterwards, I focused on other things.

Then he found out.

I didn’t speak to him when he appeared in my room. I never did. I always waited for him to start talking. And then he did. “Suicide,” he said flatly. 

My stomach leapt. 

“It was suicide,” he repeated. “Kaya knew she was going to die. And she did it anyway.” He stared at me, no set expression on his face. Then his eyes narrowed. “How long did you know?”

“…from the beginning,” I admitted, closing my eyes and shutting off my computer. I pushed it aside and sat up.

“Why?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“She didn’t want me to.”

“That’s not for her to decide,” he argued. “For gods sake, she was your friend too. How could you just accept this?”

I was shaking. “What could’ve I done?” I pleaded. “I couldn’t go into your world, remember? What could’ve I done to stop her?” Daniel continued to glare at me. “You don’t think I tried to stop her? After she told me, I begged her not to do this. But she ignored me, and then she was gone…” I took in a deep breath. “I knew her plan,” I admitted. “But there was only so much I could do. After she left, there was no way-“

“You could’ve told me!” he shouted. “I could’ve stopped her!”

“You would’ve. And then Kaya would been thrown in prison for conspiracy to high treason,” I retorted. 

“But that bastard would still be in jail. They would’ve released Kaya-“

“They killed her mother!” I blurted out. “And they wanted Kaya dead too, five years ago. Don’t you get it? This way, those men will die at the hands of the Espers. This is her revenge.”

“She wouldn’t give her life-“

“She would. You know that, don’t you?”

“I…” Daniel’s face was mixed with rage and despair. That’s when I figured it. He already knew that she’d give her life for this. That wasn’t the issue. It was that Kaya would throw him to the sharks too, despite everything they went through together. 

“Daniel…” The name was strange on my tongue. I had never called him by name before, and it was awkward. “I’m sorry,” I said at last. There wasn’t really anything else I could say.

Daniel quietly looked up at me. Immediately, I tensed up, already anticipating what was coming. And I was right. “Of course, it would be fine for you,” he spoke darkly. “None of this effects you. Even if Kaya’s dead. All you have to do is sit back and watch everyone die. That shouldn’t be too difficult.”

I had gotten up from my bed and had been pacing up and down my room for a while now, randomly picking up stuff from the floor, as if that would stop his words from hurting. He went on. “Nereida, Kaya, you’ve watched people die before. You’ll probably cheer when one of the Espers tears my fucking head off-“

That’s when I swung around, my fist smashing against his face. He stumbled back, caught off guard. Immediately, I backed away slightly, waiting for him to react. I just knew he’d get back at me. I knew that it was only a matter of seconds before I was lying on the ground getting the shit kicked out of me. I had no idea what possessed me to hit him.

Moments passed, and I realised that the blows I had been bracing myself for never came. Daniel just stood there, watching me, as if I was some strange beast that had escaped its cage. He once stared at Kaya the same way, in fact. “I deserved that,” he said finally. “I…shouldn’t have-“

“Shut the fuck up,” I hissed suddenly. His eyes widened. “How dare you. What do you take me for? I’m not…I’m not this twisted psycho who gets off on watching people die!” I was steadily losing control, but I didn’t give a crap. “Do you think I enjoy being able to do nothing? Do you think I’m happy to just sit there while people I care about die?! Why…” I tightened my hands into fists. “Why do you think I’d want you to die?!”

I could’ve slapped him for the incredulous look on his face. “You don’t?”

“No…” The anger quickly evaporated, and I was left trying to hold back what seemed like an endless supply of tears. “Don’t be stupid. If you died…” There’d be no one left to help me, I finished in my head. But I wouldn’t say them out loud to him. 

“…I spent the last few minutes verbally abusing you. You should hate me,” Daniel countered.

“I don’t.” I feel tired all of a sudden, and I sit down on the bed. “Kaya…was important to you too. I can understand how you feel.”

“….how do you do that?” he asked quietly. 

“…do what?” 

“Justify it. How can you allow people to do things to you that you can just sweep under the rug?”

I thought about that for a moment. It was just so…natural, that I never even questioned it until now. “It’s just…” I struggled to say, “it’s not like there aren’t more horrible people than them.”

“Like who?” Daniel retorted. “Is it even possible to hate someone who’s never done anything to you?”

“Yeah. It is.” If I looked at Daniel, I would burst into tears, so I kept my eyes firmly closed. “You were right, you know. About people who can’t do anything. Sometimes you can hate people so much just because they were involved and couldn’t, or didn’t, do anything to stop it.”

“…you mean…”

“…I’m sorry,” I said to him in a whisper. “I need to be alone.”

“You’re shaking…”

“I don’t care. Just go. Please,” I begged. 

For the first time since I had known him, Daniel did as I asked. I was finally left alone to shed the tears that I had locked in for the entire conversation. And for the rest of the night, I lay there, holding my knees and hating myself.

Next thing I knew, I was in Delirium.

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Evil Twin

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I don’t see Kaya as often as some people think. She’s only in my head when A, I have a bad episode in Delirium and she comes in so people don’t hear me dying, or B, when she’s in a very bad mood.

Which is why, on Friday, I got to spend most of the day with the bitch. Because I had a very special photoshoot that day.

It doesn’t look like me, she informed me. If you’re going to impersonate me, you might at least try.

“You try talking to her,” I pleaded with Daniel. He just ignored me, and continued looking through my iPad. “Found anything yet?”

“Nothing you’d be looking for,” he replied. “Mostly brightly coloured stuff, none of them scream ‘grim reaper’ to be honest.”

“You’re in the wrong section then. Just scroll down till you reach the dark pictures.”

“There’s a lot of shit on this thing, Cat Madigan, you ever think of clearing it?”

“All the time. And every time I think, What if I need to refer to it? It’s a vicious cycle.”

Why do you even do this to yourself?

“I like modelling. It gives me self confidence, and I need self confidence.”

You have the eye of a king on you, she reminded me. What more do you want?

“He’s…” I nearly said not real, but I’m already on Kaya’s bad side. “I’m not interested,” I settled for saying.

Liar.

“Kaya…” Daniel said warningly.

“I’m genuinely not interested Kaya. He’s nice, but he’s got the attention span of a cat.”

Pot. Calling. Kettle. Kaya’s voice was as dry as a bone.

“You know what I mean,” I groaned. “I don’t think I’d be able to talk with him the way I’d want to talk to someone. Not to mention, he seems like the type that would only desire someone till he had her.”

In other words, you don’t want to get hurt.

“No, that’s not the issue. The issue is that he’s not the sort of person I’d be interested in as a…what word would you guys use?”

“Lover?” Daniel suggested.

“…really? Is your whole mind entirely focused on sex?”

“Hey, you wanted a word for it.”

Concubine?

Both Daniel and I widened our eyes. “Kaya…” I said. “Please tell me you know what that word means.”

Of course I do.

“No offence to Cat, but I think the term concubine would refer to her rather than our beloved king,” Daniel pointed out.

I grimaced. “Not happening. I’ve had enough of that sort of thing.”

“For now.”

Before I could ask what Daniel meant, Kaya spoke up. There’s not really a word for it, she mused. Normally there’s a contract to marry, and perhaps courtship after that, if the husband wishes. More often it’s not. I could hear the distaste in her voice. And after that, there is marriage….maybe you could be his sweetheart?

“I’m not his frigging sweetheart!” I hissed.

What’s gotten into her? Her tone is as if she has never snapped at me in the whole duration of her existence.

“Leave her, Kaya,” Daniel said wearily. “Both of us aren’t good with that sort of thing right now.”

“Thanks Daniel. Anything yet?”

“I think you’d have a better chance searching YouTube for makeup ideas,” he said. “There’s nothing here.”

“It can’t be, there has to be something.” I took the iPad out of his hands.

“No!”

“…well, I see why you haven’t been finding anything.” I hurled it back at his chest.

“Ow!”

Before I could say anything more, we hear shouting. “Not again…” I groaned.

What’s going on now?

“Do I ever know what’s on with them?” I retorted. “Tig’s not like me, Kaya, he talks back. He’s under the impression that he’s intelligent and that screaming back insults makes a difference.”

What’s he done?

Suddenly, I heard a loud slamming sound, and my brother sobbing. Mum screamed at him, and I could make out the words How dare you, and Little shit. “It’s sickening…” Daniel said stiffly, trying not to show anything.

Are you alright Cat?

“I’m used to it.” I took the clothes out of my cupboard and laid them on the bed for the afternoon.

That wasn’t answering my question, she observed.

“Would you answer honestly if you were me?”

Mum charged into the room suddenly, without warning. Daniel froze, even though he’d be able to move freely and not be seen by her. “Your brother,” she announced, “has stolen most of the Easter eggs.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

“And he’s not owning up to it.”

“Again. My astonishment is extremely lacking.”

“Hmm.” She frowned at me. “It wasn’t you, was it?”

“No.”

“How do I know it wasn’t?”

I groaned. “I don’t know how I’m meant to prove myself innocent.” I turned to Daniel as Mum went on a tangent, and I saw his face going red, even though he was barely moving.

After what seemed an eternity, she finally left my room. Is she always like this? Kaya questioned.

“Not always.” That makes it harder though, I add mentally.

Hmm…

“So your brother’s stealing again,” Daniel observed.

“Seems like. You’d think he’d learn by now.”

“I don’t agree with what your parents do, but your brother is truly a little-”

“Daniel…”

“Fine.” Daniel put his arm around my shoulder. “How are you?”

“Fine.” That’s all I say.

“Kaya…” Daniel said after a while. “You’ve been quiet.”

Oh?

“What do you think?”

Of what?

“Cat’s parents.”

He shouldn’t be punished that way, she said firmly. Not by being thrown against the wall. I grimaced at a similar memory. Sorry Cat.

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Kaya…” Daniel’s voice had an odd note to it. “Tell her.”

“What?” I looked at Daniel and frowned. “What aren’t you telling me now?

He groaned. But when he opened his mouth to say something, Kaya spoke up. It’s fine! She doesn’t need to know.

“Kaya…what did you do?” I asked, suddenly going cold all of a sudden.

…Well.

Daniel interrupted her. “Cat, you might want to check in your wardrobe.”

“…do I want to?” He gestured towards it. “Very well…” I walked over to it and slid the door open. That’s when I saw the tinfoil. “You’ve got to be kidding me…” I span around, as if I expected Kaya to be behind me. “This is what you do when you take over when I’m in Delirium? You steal chocolate?”

I was starving! she protested. You barely eat anything, how can you stand sitting there with an empty belly?

“I eat apples! Apples are good! The chocolates are off limits though!”

Well, I didn’t know that!

“Shit…” I knew my hands were shaking, but I didn’t care. “My brother just got beaten up because of that!”

Cat, I’m so sorry, if I had known that it wasn’t allowed, I never would’ve done it, I swear.

I just sighed. “Now what?”

“Discard evidence,” Daniel directed. “Put the wrappers in the bathroom, in the cupboard. No one knows who put them though, no one gets the blame.”

“Or we both get the blame and we both get walloped till one of us confesses,” I pointed out.

“Yeah, well, I don’t see any better choices. Unless you’d like to confess that your dead demon friend who possesses you took the chocolates.”

Kaya scoffed. Demons are pathetic.

“Exactly my point.”

“Oh don’t you two start,” I hissed. I took the wrappers and crumpled them up and put them in a plastic bag. As soon as they got put in the cupboard, I hurried back to my room. “There. Hopefully things will end there.”

“Well, you’d better get dressed,” Daniel said. “Kaya’s makeup will be here soon.”

Kaya hissed in my head. “Shut up Kaya,” I told her.
_____________________________________________________

It resembled Kaya a lot, but not precisely. But no one except us would know that.

Kaya’s hair covered her forehead entirely; whereas the wig I had gotten from Comic-con only had little bits covering my face.

Kaya’s skin was pale grey in colour, and I remember that covering the sides of her face and her arms were a number of random scales. What made it even more frightening was the black protruding veins which were so hard to ignore. The makeup, of course, wasn’t anything like that. She was still quite pale, but the makeup was for a natural skin tone. It was almost like Kaya had been humanised, somewhat.

The contact lenses I had were close to Kaya’s eyes. But they were only contacts, so of course, they weren’t an exact match. Kaya hated her eyes. Once, when she was younger, they were a pretty silver, but after her arrest and confinement, they became a bright, glowing violet to match the poison. They could’ve been lovely, but after what Kaya went through, it was rare for her to show any emotion other than emptiness or rage, and I don’t blame her.

You’re also fatter than me, Kaya informed me.

“Yeah, well, that’s because I haven’t been starved for eight or so years,” I retorted. That shut her up.

This is similar to what I wore when I escaped with Daniel, she mused, looking at my costume. But my hair was long then.

“I can barely remember you with long hair though,” I told her. “You cut it off not long after.”

I know…

I giggled. “I remember their faces when you did that.”

She laughed at the memory. It was as if I had slaughtered their children.

“In a way, it was. Those maids must’ve spent hours brushing the mats out of your hair.”

I don’t regret my decision. There’s a hint of mischief in her tone. Daniel was the funniest though. He was trying to comfort the poor women.

“Aww….Daniel used to be a gentleman!”

He still is. He just acts perverted to irritate you.

“Why?”

You’re funny when you’re irritated.

“Not always.” I showed her my memory of murdering that woman.

There’s a difference between irritated and infuriated, Kaya said. You need to forgive yourself.

“Then it will become easier. I don’t want to do that again.”

Who are you? she asked me suddenly.

“I’m…not entirely sure. Who am I? What am I? Am I a different species now?”

Look. Kaya cleared her throat. Your name is Cat Madigan. It’s not the name you were born with, but you’re not the same person from when you were born, are you? She went on before I could speak. You’ve changed a lot over the years. When I met you, you were a quiet, innocent young woman. A disaster waiting to happen.

And then I met you again, with Daniel. You were scared, terrified actually. What astounded me was that you trusted me over Daniel, who is obviously the less frightening article.

“Daniel used to be an asshole though.”

He’s changed a lot too. He didn’t like you because he thought you were some weak little snivelling thing.

“And I’m not?”

“Definitely not.” I jumped at the sound of Daniel’s voice. “Hey.” He waved at me.

“Hello Daniel. Can you tell me what I am? Daniel?”

He’s taking in the sight of me. “Right…sorry. We’re going to leave in ten minutes,” I told him. “Wanna come?”

Daniel smiled. “Would I go anywhere else?”

I’ll be off then. With that, the pain in my head vanished.

“Can you answer my question then?” I asked Daniel.

He sighed, and knelt down as if I were a child half my size. “My dear lady,” he said, looking up at me. “You are about to witness a remarkable event.” He inhaled. “I agree with Kaya.”

I managed to stop myself from laughing. “I see.”

“It’s true.”

“That…must’ve been hard on you.”

“…you can laugh now if you want.”

I grinned. “Thankyou.”

“Now. You wanted to know who you are? You are Cat Madigan. Not Freak or Kaya or Bitch, or anything else.”

“Aren’t I? Think about what I’ve done. I’m going down the same road as Kaya.” I remembered her last moment, on the Lake of Ghosts. “I’ll end up like her, one day. I can feel it.”

“No.” Daniel took my hand. “There’s a very big difference between the two of you.”

“Which is?”

“Remorse,” he answered. “Kaya killed men she didn’t know and brushed it aside. She wanted revenge on their kind, so she became one of them.”

“And I’m not? I’ve gone through ‘treatments’ too, Daniel. I’m a freak, and I can kill just as easily as she can.”

“No. You won’t.” Daniel stood up and drew me in for a hug. “Because you can see the good in people as well. Kaya’s disillusioned because of everything that’s happened, but you still have faith, no matter how little. And that guilt stops you, makes you pause before you do something you’ll regret.”

“No it doesn’t,” I argued. “I’ve killed before that woman. And now I’ve lost count.”

“I know that. Yes, you’ve killed people.” He grimaced. “But you’ve always been as guilty as hell afterwards. And that’s the difference. Kaya let herself become a monster. You’re more reluctant to let go of your humanity. And that’s who you are, Cat Madigan; human.”

“Freak,” I insisted.

“Freaks are human too,” he reminded me. “Sometimes more than most humans. And this world of mine needs some humanity left in it.”

“You and me, against the rest of the he world,” I laughed.

“That’s how it’s gonna be,” he grinned.
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The Definition of ‘It’

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After discussing my cancelled abandonment of Reality with Flash, I was tired. Exhausted actually. Being a depressive schizophrenic is hard work.

And then my head threw another bombshell at me.

I woke in Delirium being shaken awake by Daniel. “Argh…Daniel, I’m tired…” I complained.

“Yes, well, unfortunately for you, someone wants to speak to you,” he informed me, pulling me out of bed.

“For gods sakes, haven’t you noticed I’m wearing my nightdress?” I grumbled.

Daniel sighed and shoved me his jacket. I barely pulled it over one arm before he grabbed it and kept pulling me. “Who is so important that he can’t wait to see me in proper clothes?” I asked, somehow managing to get the rest of the jacket on.

“Remember Thommand?” I was dragged out of Daniel’s chambers, and down the long spiral stairs.

“Which one is Thommand?” I hissed.

“Fat man,” he replied. We came to a large door, and Daniel hammered his hand against it before barging in, pulling me behind him.

The fat man, or Thommand, who had my throat slit a month ago, gave as much courtesy as Daniel did. “You,” he pointed to me. He walked up to me and slapped me across the face.

Instantly, I struck my foot at his legs, tripping him over. My foot ached when it came away, and the ground seemed to shake as he fell, but I didn’t care. “How dare you,” I snarled.

“Control her Daniel!” Thommand barked.

“She’s under control,” Daniel replied, making no move to restrain me whatsoever.

I watched him get up. “You have no right to hit me, and the next time you do, I’ll do more than kick you to the ground!” I told him. “Are we clear, Thommand?”

“It’s m’lord to you,” he informed me frostily.

“Then act like one,” I retort. “Now what do you want?”

I heard the words ‘wretch’ and ‘she-cat’ under his breath. “I want to know how you arrived here,” he told me. “How you first came to this world.”

“So do I. But this is just as strange to you as it is to me.”

His hand twitched beside him. “If you’re lying to me-”

“I have nothing to gain by lying.”

“Yes you do,” he insisted. “There are humans here, just like you when you arrived. That would be something to gain.”

I froze. “What?”

“So you didn’t know?” Thommand shook his head. “Caught in the next village. Three of them. One is dead and the other is being brought here.”

“What are their names?” Daniel asked.

“The captive won’t say.”

“You said there were three,” I interrupted. “What happened to the one who wasn’t killed or captured?”

His eyes narrowed. “Gone,” he said shortly. “We’ll find him though. We found Daniel.” He started out the door. “The captive is coming now. Follow me.”

Shaking off Daniel’s hand, he and I strode out behind the fat man, who was surprisingly quick. “So why did you strike me?” I demanded.

“Shock value,” he replied. “I wanted the truth, and fast.”

“I wouldn’t say anything else,” I objected.

Daniel stopped me. “Cat, go back to my chamber, now.”

“Why-”

“Court business,” he said. “This is no place for you.”

At the same time that I was saying “I will not be left behind!”, Thommand had stopped and said “The girl stays.”

“I forbid it.”

“Don’t command me, Daniel.” I returned his angry look. “I am not weak.”

He paused. “You’re not,” he admitted. “Come along then. Knowing our men though, the man’s probably nastily wounded.”

I could see Thommand bristle as we continued walking. “Is he getting treatment?” I asked Daniel.

There was no reply from him at that. I wondered where I could find a nurse in this place, and hopefully one who might be able to help with what I needed.

We arrived in the courtyard to find a crowd gathering. It was the first time I had seen so many of them. And as soon as I came into view, they all turned to me.

My first thought was that I really wished that I was wearing something less inappropriate than a scarlet silk nightdress and Daniel’s jacket.

The second thought was how different from Daniel they were.

I hadn’t really noticed the contrasts between Thommand and Daniel, but I became aware of them once I saw the others.

I had thought that Thommand had a fringe- and I had thought how stupid it looked. But as I looked more closely, I realised that it wasn’t the case. His hair line started from where his brow would be; it wasn’t a fringe at all.

That explained Daniel’s absurdly long hair. These people would probably want their hair to grow pretty long…but I had seen people with ordinary fringes. Not to mention eyebrows. I’d have to ask Daniel about that.

The people in the fanciest dress- by fanciest I mean most ridiculous- all had clear, grey eyes. They were beautiful, I suppose. In a way. But it was too over the top. They were the ones who stared at me the most. No one paid attention to Daniel. They treated him as if he weren’t there, sort of like a bad smell. But they kept giving me looks and whispering as they turned away.

I heard shouting, and people walking by. “Daniel, can we get closer?”

“This is fine, Cat.” Daniel was unnaturally still, as if he were afraid to breathe.

Slowly, I started walking away, dodging the strange people as I tried to get through the entrance of the building. It was no use; even though there were guards pushing everyone back, I still couldn’t see.

Then I spotted a window. It wouldn’t be dignified, but I would never be admired by these strangers, only seen as an animal.

I could reach it, so I lifted myself up onto the ledge. It was one of those windows without glass, so I clung to the edge, praying I didn’t fall back.

I could see everything from where I was. There were two lines of people, surrounding one attraction in the centre. A young man was walking towards a group of people, who stepped aside, leaving one man alone. He had long sandy hair that covered his face, and his arms hang by his side, in shackles.

“Hello Cat Madigan,” a voice suddenly whispered into my ear.

It was him. The man that’s more corpse than living flesh. “Can’t they see you?” I whispered.

“Of course.” I could feel him beside me. “They won’t remember I was here though. I’ll vanish from their memories.”

“What are you?”

“Something weird,” he told me.

I knew that phrase, it’s mine. “Are you like me?”

“Whatever do you mean?”

“You know what I mean. But we’re different. Like two members of the same species.”

He chuckled. “We are definitely not the same species.”

“I didn’t mean it in a literal sense.” I look down at my hand. My five letters are glowing again. “This is…what I can do. And you….mess with people’s heads.”

“You are clever,” he said approvingly, and he kissed me on the cheek. He laughed as I grimaced; he’s so cold, it’s like a fish kissing me.

I would not let him get to me. “You messed with Kaya’s head too,” I told him.

“Not like them,” he objected.

“Doesn’t matter, you’re the one who killed her.”

“Ms Madigan,” he whispered. “Instead of accusing me of such trivia, you may want to watch what’s happening before you.”

“What do you mean?” But he was gone.

I glanced down, and looked at the scene. The prisoner was kneeling on the ground, his hair held back by one of the guards behind him. He had no expression, no emotion on his face.

But I knew him.

This person was one of the few things that kept me in Reality.

What was he doing here?

I leapt down from the window, only to be tackled by Daniel. He lifted me and carried me into the shadows, despite my struggling. He held my hands and feet behind my back, ignoring my growling.

When we were away from everything, he put me down. “I’m going back!” I yelled.

“You’re not,” he told me. “Believe it or not, I’m saving your life.”

“Believe it or not, it’s not something I treasure,” I retorted. “His, however-”

“Don’t even think about it. Not now,” he pleaded.

“I’m going.”

It happened in an instant. His arm was wrapped around my neck, a sharp object touching the skin of my temple. “Don’t make me do this,” he growled.

Go ahead, I thought. “This is my friend. I would do the same for you,” I told him.

“And I would respond the same way.”

The needle pierced my head and I started feeling drowsy. “I hate you,” I grumbled, as I faded out.

Faith in People…Status: Depleted.

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Cat Madigan is not happy.

Neither is Daniel.

It’s not every day that you accuse non-existent readers of things, but here goes.

WHO TATTLED ON DANIEL???

Yesterday, I came home feeling a lot happier than I had been in a while. I have no idea why, but I was. Which made things even worse later that evening.

During dinner, a notepad had been left in front of where I was eating. One that my mother often used. And, one word caught my eye. HYPNOTHERAPY.

Now, I have a massive aversion to hypnotherapy. I do not like the idea of someone getting inside my head and tampering with the shit in it. Even in the name of therapy. Yes, my opinion of hypnosis may have been influenced by Alice: Madness Returns, but I hated the idea even before the video game.

I have enough trust issues as it is, and I am not comfortable with the idea of someone having the power to lock things away in my head. Nonononononono.

There was more to the note than that. One sentence made me go into full blown panic mode.

Daniel is a devise.

My mother knew about Daniel.

Or at the very least, knew of someone called Daniel who was probably causing me to need something involving hypnotherapy.

In other words, my Daniel, a figment of my imagination.

So. Who tattled on Daniel?

There’s a number of options. Unfortunately.

I’m going to guess my therapists though. Because on that note was details about someone called Mia, who works at CAMHS. Which is where I’m having with someone I’m calling Lolly.

But the thing is, my therapists remind me just about every session that everything I tell them is confidential. Unless I am of threat to myself or to others, they are not allowed to tell anyone anything. Nothing I say leaves my conversation with Lolly.

So someone has lied.

Someone who obviously thought that it was their place to tell my mother about Daniel. Meaning someone who has contact with my mother, and who I’ve trusted with information about Daniel.

They might even read what I’m writing now.

Funny…the one time I get a reader, and they’re betraying my trust.

If you’re reading this, tattletale, read till the last word.

I had never given anyone permission to tell my mother anything. Especially not about Daniel, or what I see. And whoever you are, you had no right to tell anyone anything, no matter what you had thought. I would’ve never said anything to you if I knew you’d tell my mum.

If my mother tells me to go through with the treatment, beats me, yells at me, or screams at me to force me into it, it’s you who’s to blame.

Cat’s Run Away, Part Four: Save Me

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His name was Tarrant, and the next day, he was heading to Indonesia for a trip. He was already late for his own going away party, as he had to pay a fine, but for some reason I couldn’t comprehend, he offered to drive me to the Underground.

“How blistered are your feet?” he asked.

I hadn’t had a look at my feet in a while, and now that I was sitting in his car, I could do so. Tarrant’s face screwed up at the sight. “How long were you walking barefoot again?” he winced.

To be honest, I didn’t think they looked too bad. Like, they weren’t mutilated and disgusting, merely filthy and tough from walking on rocky pavement for hours. The skin was almost black on my feet, but water would get that off.

Tarrant dropped something on my lap. “Buy some shoes, I’m begging you,” he said. “Before your feet are permanently ruined.”

“My feet were never lovely in the first place,” I told him. “Besides, the shops would be closed now, I wouldn’t be able to buy anything.”

“Well take it for my state of mind, alright?” said Tarrant. “Think of it this way; I would be relieved by the thought that you are at least wearing shoes on your way there, so take the money, and let me have that illusion.”

I hesitated, before finally accepting the money. “You see? I feel better already,” Tarrant said. “I can live with myself knowing I helped you.”

“I had never thought I’d see the day that someone would beg me to buy shoes,” I told him. “Normally it’s the other way around.”

He grinned. “Buy ugg boots,” he said.

I made a face. “Again, never thought I’d hear someone say that.”

Tarrant chuckled. “When you think about it, my actions are selfish, because I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t feel bad about not helping you, see. So its selfish of me that I’m helping you.”

“Well nothing is truly altruistic,” I pointed out. “Human beings are selfish by nature.”

“Silly human beings…” he rolled his eyes.

I giggled at that. “That’s usually what I say.”

“We think alike,” Tarrant said. “…that may not be a good thing.”

I rolled my eyes. Tarrant was nice, for a stranger. He was weird, and he thought about random things. He was practically my twin. :p

Tarrant left me at the Underground, after giving me his Facebook details so I could let him know that I was alive. I bought my ticket and got on the train, and I would’ve fallen asleep had Daniel not been there.

I managed to scramble off the train, with all my belongings in hand, and Daniel following me.

Oh, and I forgot to do a recount of thus far. Still barefoot, still homeless, still carrying iPad and books, still have five bucks, plus an additional forty from Tarrant.

“Why on Earth would he give you that much money?” Daniel asked. “Are you sure those notes aren’t laced with something?”

I was too busy braving the rocky ground to answer. “Ow, ow, ow, ow.”

“Never mind…” Daniel turned to me. “Where are we meant to go?”

Now, upon being told how I needed to catch the Chesire Train, the whole police station gasped. The Cheshire station, I was informed, was an incredibly seedy place. Not fun seedy, like my Uncle Slenderman, but bad seedy, as in Creepy Stalker Guy Seedy.

So my thoughts were wonderful after hearing this.

We walked for ten minutes, and Daniel and I were walking along the highway, looking for directions.

Then someone grabbed my shoulder.

I cried out and span around to see someone I knew very well.

He was a Delusion.

He was not Daniel.

And I hated him.

“What do you want?” I snarled.

Then I crumpled to the ground, hissing. My head was burning, and I was vaguely aware of him standing above me.

“Don’t you dare!” I heard Daniel screech. Suddenly, the pain vanished, and I was lying on the ground, disoriented.

When my sight came to, I took in the scene in front of me. Daniel was standing there, panting and in agony. “What happened?” I asked.

He grimaced. “It’s fine,” he murmured. “Perfectly fine.”

And then he fell to the ground.

Cat’s Run Away, Part One: I am Stupid…

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Beforehand, you must understand two things:

First: I am mad. Actually, make that MAD. And I always will be.

Second: What I did even surprised me. I have never done anything like this before. Hence why I am freaking out.

Alright, I’m only freaking out a tiny bit. Excuse me for being emotionally sterile…

So I ran away from home.

Here’s what happened. In chronological order. And in several instalments.

I suppose it must’ve started the day before. Well, it was that that sort of inspired the idea. I suppose that the events that followed were sort of catalysts to the inevitable.

That day I got on the bus to go to school, and I was heading toward the back of the bus when I noticed what I thought was a corpse. It wasn’t moving, it smelt, and I was nearly terrified. Then I heard the corpse snore, and I realised, to my relief, that the corpse was in fact alive.

Then the transport officer came up to the living corpse, and told him to get off the bus. After waking him up, of course. The corpse refused. It was then that the transport officer threatened to call security who would forcibly take him off the bus.

I swear, the second the officer said ‘forcibly’, about ten girls took out their phones, ready to capture a fight on the bus.

And I was one of them.

Well, that’s not completely true. I was going to switch to camera mode on my iPad. Anyway, officer got off, bus went off, phones went away.

I was on the bus for about ten more minutes after that. And I had been sitting across from the homeless corpse. So I got to have a closer look at him.

He was young. Blonde hair, and I saw he had hazel eyes when he opened them.

He looked like he was in his teens, and he was rugged up in a rain jacket and baggy waterproof trackies.

And he was curled up on the back seat. Even when the driver went over a speed bump, he wasn’t stirred.

I also managed to figure a few things. Had this been a serial snoozer, he wouldn’t have been able to get on the bus in the first place.

Then I thought of all the people I had seen on the street, impervious to the wind, with their ragged, hardened skin. And yet they do not shelter in the CATs. This guy had soft looking skin, clean shaved. And he was sleeping on the bus.

I don’t think he has been homeless for very long.

Should’ve I said anything? Maybe. Looking back, I wanted to talk to him, ask him about himself. But I didn’t take that opportunity, to find out what it was like to be away from everyone you would’ve once held dear. I don’t know why he was there, because I didn’t ask. But if he were a runaway, then I missed my opportunity to know what it was like to do that.

Now we’re going to jump forward to the next day. BOOOOOOOING.

So I was cleaning my room. My mother came into the room.

Some people may already understand where this story is heading, but for others, I’ll fill it in anyway.

She yelled. A lot of things she yelled. I managed to pick up “Ungrateful”, “Never amount to anything” and “Respect”, or lack thereof.

So I went out of the house to what for now, I call the cubby house. Because it’s a house, but only the rooms have been built. So it’s essentially a cubby house.

I had my iPad and two books with me. So I read, and I danced, and I forgot my problems. Not crappy school coordinated dancing, but mad dancing that you do at raves, only I was by myself.

After two hours of singing a song from The Nightmare Before Christmas, (In this town, don’t we love it now! Everybody’s waiting for the next SURPRISE!) I went back. And my mother had locked me outside.

After about ten minutes, my brother came out. He had a smile bigger than a Cheshire cat on crack. And he told me gleefully that my mother had grounded me, and wanted me to give him my iPad, Facebook, and any sort of freedom I had. Because I had a much needed time out.

I told her as much when she came outside. Not that she heard any of it. I doubt she takes in anything that I say these days. But after she had left, I had some time to think.

And as all you imaginary readers know, thinking is a terrible thing.

I couldn’t stay with my mother right then. But there was no room with my friends, and I had no neighbours to stay with.

I was contemplating giving up, and pleading mother for the right to reenter, when all of a sudden, who should appear but my smug faced, shit eating brother?

He wanted my iPad.

He tackled me.

And I attacked him with a cat brush. A WIRE cat brush, which hurts when you slap people with it.

And then I ran.

Twenty minutes later, I kept repeating seven words to myself.

What. The. Bloody. Hell. Was. I. Thinking.

And guess who had the decency to turn up then?

“Fuck off Daniel,” I mumbled.

“I thought you could use the company.” He fell in pace beside me.

“Well, no. You were wrong.”

There was silence.

Äny idea where you’re going?” he asked me.

“City,” I said. “Then…I’m not sure.”

“Get to the police. They’ll tell you where you can go.”

“They’ve got better things to do that help a runaway,” I pointed out.

“Maybe. But this is your ass we are talking about. I wouldn’t like it if anything happened to it.”

I ignored Daniel. We walked another two hundred metres before he finally spoke again. And after he spoke, a different seven worded sentence consumed my brain.

Well, when I say Daniel spoke, he was actually singing.

Out of the blue, he started. And I will walk five hundred miles…”

“Fuck off.”

This was going to be a long night…

Bandaids

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There’s a reason why I think my family is what caused the creation of my Delirium.

It used to be a lot worse when I was little. But for reasons I don’t entirely understand, I believe it’s far more painful now that it was then.

I have a few memories from when I was a child, of it happening. I don’t know exactly how old I was though at those times, but these two events were during kindergarten and prep. There were probably other times as well, but for some reason, these stay planted in my memory.

I was sitting at the table, brushing my hair. I never did it right, I was little you see, and little people never get out all the knots, because they don’t like the pain. When my mother came over, she took the brush out of my hand, and started brushing herself. It was hurting, I remember, and I was crying, begging her to give it back, when suddenly she started yelling, and the brush cracked across my thigh like lightning. I was too busy sobbing to notice it was bleeding, until I touched where the brush hit me, and my fingers came up covered in dark red.

Did I tell anyone what happened at home? I’m not sure. I have dreams of myself as a child, crying and telling my teacher about how mean mummy was. Of course, if I were a kindergarten teacher, I would’ve thought that as a child’s exaggeration, from an angry little girl who’s mother had probably said No to her. Lots of children are like that see. The trouble these people must have, questioning which complaints are from those genuinely in trouble.

The other memory was from when I was older, just a little bit older. I don’t even remember what the cause was. Did I make her angry? Was my mother already having a bad day, and my presence was the catalyst? Couldn’t say. But I remember everything that happened after the catalyst had done its work. There was a lot of hitting, not so much punching, I don’t think it was my mother’s intention to hit me so hard I was knocked out. Later, I was lying on our living room floor, blood pouring out of my nose, tears streaming down my face, wishing that I could fall asleep there, and never wake up.

There were three words I kept repeating, over and over and over, and to this day I can’t make myself forget them. “Mummy, I’m bleeding!” I kept crying. “Mummy, I’m bleeding!”

If there are any scars on my body from what they’ve done, I can’t see them. That’s the thing with children; they’re resilient. They heal quickly, and bruises and cuts and scrapes fade away completely after about two weeks. Well most do anyway.

The other thing about children at that age, is they still don’t know right from wrong. So even though they cry whenever you smack them across the face, or hit their hand with a stick of bamboo, they don’t tell anyone. I just assumed that everyone was punished that way. And I was ashamed for being a bad child, so I never told anyone about my punishments, I didn’t want people to think I was bad, I didn’t want to be bad. I knew I was, I had enough punishments to know that, but to have everyone think that would be horrible. For everyone to hate me as much as I hated myself, for being a bad child, would be more than I could handle.

Now, I’m older. I haven’t been hit for a while. The last time would’ve been when I had hidden my iPad and my father wanted to know where it was. You see, my mother wanted to take it away, for the school holidays, and I was less than willing to cooperate. So I hid it in my room. And I refused to tell my father where it was. So he did what he always does when he doesn’t get what he wants from his children; he hit me with his belt. This went on for a while, till he realised I would gladly go through a million strappings if it meant I wouldn’t have it taken. So he went and found my iPad himself, locking it away for two weeks. That’s how he punishes me now. Instead of strapping, he resorts to stealing my things, blackmail and extortion. Far less evidence than physical punishment; emotional and psychological torment is just as painful, if not more.

Nonexistent people reading this could interpret this as the cries of a spoilt brat. There are children who are beaten daily, and are starving to death at their parent’s hand, you may cry. You just get your iPad taken off you. What’s that compared to what those poor children go through? Why are you so special? I ask myself the same thing; why does my pain matter? Why should people care about me when there are probably others hurting more? I find this painful because my iPad allows me to communicate with my friends, who are there for me when things are bad at home, and I’m not allowed to use the phone at night. Without my friends, I am alone against my parents. I cannot speak for others, but I find the pain of being alone in this world exceeds the pain of a bamboo stick. Still, I suppose it doesn’t compare to those other people; technically, I’m not in danger physically.

What I find sick about this, is that I miss the hitting. I want them to hit me, to punish me that way, instead of taking me away from my friends, my writing, my drawing, everything I care about. I want a reason to hate them, a real reason, one that is not purely in my mind. My pain, no matter how unjustified and selfish it may seem to you, cannot be measured by scars, bruises or anything of the like. I feel trapped; without my friends, I only have one place to go to escape my family and their yelling; the place in my mind, my horrible horrible sanctuary that may one day be my prison.

It’s not physical. It’s only emotional, and emotional bullying doesn’t leave anything behind. That’s what I find the most painful; unless I have something to show for it, people would merely pass it off, take it for the whining of a selfish girl. You see, scars don’t exist unless you can see them.

That’s one reason we use bandaids. To cover up cuts, scraped knees. Not only does it help it heal, but you feel better just seeing it. It helps you think how things will be ok. Plus, with kids bandaids, you know, the ones with pretty designs and stuff on them, you’re distracted from the pain of the injury. Bandaids cover up the nasty scrape or cut, and you don’t have to see it anymore, only a pretty pattern. That’s probably what I thought when my mother put a large sparkly bandage on my thigh after the hairbrush scraped off the skin.

You see what I mean? Providing you think it can heal, anything can be covered up, you can hide it from the rest of the world. The wound’s still there though. Eventually, the bandaid comes off, and you’re left with a scab or a scar reminding you what happened. No matter how faint it is, you know it’s there. And you remember the pain, you remember why that scar is there.