this was fun to write. something new, so i hope it works. will you still love me if it's bad?

They think me mad. They don't say it aloud; oh no. But I can feel it. Feel the hatred, the scorn. She's different, she's evil. She should die. I don't blame them.

When I laid alone in my room, I felt empty and numb. So many betrayals. So much hurt. I used to start scratching at my arm, digging holes into the flesh, wondering why it didn't hurt, why I couldn't feel anything. Drops of blood welled up, but I was still oblivious to the pain. I expected tears to follow, like the crimson tears falling from my arm, but there was nothing left. Empty. Hollow. I clutched at my head, tearing my hair, trying desperately to get something, some reaction of pain.

What's wrong with me?!

I grew so angry at my inability to feel. I would clutch the knife, shaking violently, slashing at my body, my face, painting my bedroom as red as my hair. Everywhere, and on everything. I'd pound my head against the walls, hold cracked glass till it shattered, still numb, still confused. Still scared. It wasn't fair! I blamed my 'friends', the ones who had always been there, saying we'd be like ducks and water and then abandoning me in the blink of an eye at the parties, the birthdays, the classes. I blamed myself for wishing my father would die when I saw him fighting with mum, coming home a year later to find he had died. I blamed him for leaving me alone in the world at such a young age, for making me become numb. We were standing at his grave, and there were just no tears. Nothing would come. And the people saw me and screamed, beating me.

"You're a monster! A monster! You don't even cry when your father dies!"

And I had shouted that I was sorry, that I didn't know why, but they hated me. Even my mother just looked away, averting her gaze away from me as I lay broken and bloody. I had reached out to her, and she had merely turned away. I think that was when it happened. My heart just broke, and I couldn't feel anything. I stopped hurting, even when they continued to kick and punch me. It was a blessing, at first. Mother would 'dance' with me often after that, throwing me against the walls, cracking my skull against the tables. And I didn't feel a thing. Oh, I still shouted, still screamed, because it made her happy. I loved her, loved it when she smiled as my bones shattered like glass, even loved the drops of blood she gave me that welled up and dried like roses.

But then I grew scared of the numbness. I made friends but didn't feel happy, went out on dates but felt no love, played but felt no joy. And then they left me like my best friends had before, and I still felt nothing. No sadness, no regrets, no pain. Nothing, unless I was alone. Then I felt plenty of emotions.

That's when I started trying to hurt myself. Stopped eating so I could feel hunger, stopped drinking to feel thirst. Went out in shorts and T-shirt when it snowed to feel cold, wore thousands of layers in summer to feel hot. But even that had been stolen away from me. Food tasted like ash. Living became one endless nightmare. Sleeping was the only time I felt safe. If I was asleep, I didn't have to think. I didn't have to feel. I didn't have to live.

But even though I grew to fear each day, I never once thought about suicide. I was determined not to run from my problems. I was determined to not give up. I regret that decision now, that flash of child-like inspiration that made me swear to never kill myself, and to always struggle on. I was full of hope that it would end one day, that someone would find out what was wrong and make it go away. I was a fool.

I was fifteen when I started hearing the voices. There's no need to be scared anymore. Those words enchanted me, caught me instantly. I would be able to feel again. All you have to do to feel pain is to see it through another's eyes. It made no sense, yet I would have done anything at that moment. All I could think about was finally being able to feel pain, instead of sitting there trying desperately to remember it.

And so quietly I'd slip away from the house, knife clutched eagerly in my shaking hands. Pain! How I longed to feel it! To prick my finger and cry out, instead of just staring at it blankly, thrusting my hand into a fire and feeling it burn. I started out small; just the odd homeless person every now and again. I made sure I wore gloves when I killed – I watched enough detective shows to know how it worked. Lead them away into the dark alley, hearing their terrified screams. Watching them writhe and whimper in pain as I ran the knife slowly up their chest, pulling out their innards as if gutting a fish. They didn't know how lucky they were. I lived on the pain in their eyes, the screams, the tiny glimpses of death behind their eyes as the candle was snuffed out just like that.

It was…beautiful.

But they didn't understand how blessed they were. Didn't understand how much I wanted to feel that pain. I saw it through their eyes, but it wasn't enough. I wanted it to exist for me. I wanted the unbearable agony as I was burned alive, cut to pieces, broken and shattered. The voice made another appearance. The more you kill, the closer you get. Just give it time. But I didn't want to wait, I wanted it NOW! Why don't you pay your 'friends' a visit? Show them the pain they put you through when they abandoned you and repay them back for numbing you forever. Enchanted with the thought of someone finally being able to understand, I didn't hesitate to slip into their houses, steal them away during the night and ripping them limb from limb screaming about how lucky they were, how much I envied them for their feelings, how I just wanted them to listen to me.

And after a while I forgot, really, what it was I wanted. During that brief moment as they cowered before me, I found myself allured by that thrill of being in total control, and the mystery of death behind the glassy eyes. It was only afterwards, nicking my hand on the blade, that I remembered. I began to kill just to run away from the terrible realisation that no matter how many I hurt, I wouldn't find pain. I would claw at my head, shouting, screaming.

You lied! You lied to me!

The voice didn't want to give up. It struggled for a hold, but during those moments of horrible sanity I continuously pushed it away. No! Be patient, you are almost there!

But I'm not! And I never will be! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?!

Sanity rarely lasted long though, and soon I fell under its sway once more. If you feel so guilty, just remember you are doing them a favour. To live their final moments in pain, isn't that what you've always wanted? And better yet – they can run from it all. They get to finish the game thanks to you. They can finally go to sleep.

You're right. I help them.

And my mind was drugged for the rest of the week.

It made sense, in a twisted sort of way. I'm showing them how lucky they are, so I'm doing a good deed. And good deeds should be rewarded, right? And for the briefest of moments, I was happy. And then the reward never came, and I'd fall into depression again.

But something happened I had never expected.

It was the last of the lot; the one who had struck the first blow at the funeral. I wanted to make this one suffer for what they had done to me. If they hadn't said that, no one would have noticed, and my mother wouldn't have silently disowned me. Damn Lee for what he had done to me! Damn him for stealing away my pain! He had come round the house to see if mum was home, and as usual sneered when he saw me.

"Hasn't she thrown you out yet, brat?"

My fists clenched, and I had this uncontrollable urge to lock my hands round his throat and beat that arrogant smirk off his face, but I controlled myself. Father had raised me to always be polite, no matter how repulsive they were, so very calmly I offered him to come inside to wait. He agreed and went on into the living room, and as I closed the front door I realised this was my chance. There wouldn't be any more need for revenge. Here he was, alone in my house, and with mother out of the way…it was as if fate herself wanted this. And who was I to go against destiny?

Closing the living-room door and locking it, I couldn't stop a grin spreading across my face. Revenge would finally be ended with his death. No more numbness, no more to blame. The others were gone, and so would he. He saw my smile and it must have unnerved him because he stepped back, laughing uncertainly.

"What? What is it?"

My grin spread all the wider as I caught that faint hint of fear. I breathed it in – it was like some exotic sent, sweet and intoxicating. I had drawn my knife, the one that had drank in so much blood. Mine, mostly. I sliced my palm, watching as the blood welled up and dripped to the floor. It didn't matter if my fingerprints were everywhere – I already had an excuse. An innocent girl witnesses a gruesome murder and tries to defend herself. Grabs the knife, desperate to protect herself and her dying friend, but they're already gone. I tasted the blood from my hand, chuckling quietly to myself as I saw his horrified expression.

"What the hell is wrong with you?!" he screamed, falling over the sofa in his haste to get away from me.

I tilted my head to the side, wondering how stupid he was not to see it. "Emptiness. Betrayal. The inability to feel. All of which I blame on you." I pointed the knife at him, watching in fascination as it flashed in the light, beautiful and dangerous.

Suddenly I pounced, pinning him to the floor. Slowly, teasingly, I ran the blade across his neck, too light to break the skin. Leaning close, my hair fell around our heads, dropping us into darkness. "You don't know," I purred softly in his ear, "how long I've wanted to do this."

Oh, how I loved the terror in his garnet eyes! That knowledge I saw on all of their faces; the one where they realise that no one is coming to save them, that no one will stop it. To see that same expression that always shadowed my own eyes, that one of utter despair.

I drew two thin lines of blood along his cheeks, creating a macabre parody of a smile. He whimpered, and I sat up, lightly caressing his face.

"You can run, if you want to. It will be useless, but you can try."

I sat calmly on the sofa, watching as his eyes darted towards the door. Scrambling up, he raced for the door, sobbing in terror as he realised I had locked it. Lunging at the window, he clawed at the wooden blinds that cut off his only escape. Trembling violently, he fell to the floor, tears falling from his eyes as he stared at the floor. Crouching in front of him, I raised his head and licked the blood from his face, tasting salt from the droplets that fell like rain. He shuddered at my touch, as if I were some repulsive beast.

Drawing away slowly, forcing him to watch me, I showed him the key to his freedom, tied to my neck by a thin ribbon of black silk. "It's right here," I murmured to him, seeing the sudden flash of hope across his face. "If you want it, all you have to do is fight me. Look, I'll even make it fair." Tossing him the knife, I leapt up, spreading my arms wide open, inviting him. "Come on! I'm just a little girl, after all!" When he didn't move, I sneered at him. "Oh, but I thought you liked beating defenceless girls? Don't tell me you've found a soul so quickly!"

I wanted him to kill me. I wanted him to end this numbness. I wanted him to silence the voices that whispered endlessly in my mind. He said nothing; terror had stolen his voice. But I saw the guilt on his face. Good. At least now he knew why I was doing this.

He lunged at me like a cadged animal, slashing at me with the knife. Laughing, I opened my arms wider and threw my head back.

"You monster!"

Grabbing him by the throat, I slammed him against the wall. "Yes," I hissed. "I am a monster. And you're just doing your part to kill the barbarian that can't cry. That can't feel." Leaning close, I let him see the emptiness in my eyes, the void that was slowly eating me alive. "Because of you, I can't feel anything. Not this," I lifted my bloody arm, bashing it against the wall. "Or even this." I ripped the knife from his hands, slashing at my chest. Pressing up against him, I felt the blood seeping over his clothes. "And I hope that in death you'll be put through the same hell I am forced to live through every second of my life."

He was so scared he couldn't move. I loved it. Apart from the shallow cuts on his face, I hadn't actually cut him yet, but he knew he would die. "I'm sorry," he whispered softly. I saw sincerity in his eyes, but my sorrow wouldn't let me see it.

I snorted. "The only thing I hate worse than me is a liar." Kissing him roughly, I thrust the blade as far as I could into his neck. My mouth was flooded with blood, and I drank it all down, holding him still as his body thrashed beneath mine. Giddy with the kill, I didn't hear the door burst open.

"What…oh god…"

Dropping the body to the ground, I looked over my shoulder at my mother, smiling innocently. What a sight I must have been, covered in blood, skin shredded and torn, knife clutched in my hand and an angel's smile on my face.

She started screaming. I was a murderer, I was a murderer! Her own daughter!

High from the euphoria that only killing could bring, I stalked towards her. In my drunken state I knew I had to stop her from screaming or someone would find out, so I covered her face with a cushion.

"Shh! You have to be quiet! It's a secret. A secret!" Giggling madly I pushed harder, and eventually she stopped moving. Removing the pillow, I smiled lovingly at her. "There we are mummy! I took care of my problems! See, I did it all by myself! We don't have to worry anymore. I still can't hurt, but that just means we can dance as much as you like, and we'll never have to stop!" I hugged her limp body. "I love you! I always did! Even when you turned away. Even when you didn't stop them. I knew you were just waiting for the right moment! It's the policeman's fault for stopping them before you could, that's all!"

I just sat there, talking and whispering in her ear. There was blood – my blood – all over her, so I bathed her and washed her hair. I dried her and carried her to her bedroom, and I dressed her in her best clothes. Brushed out her hair and braided it, telling her how pretty she was, and how I wanted to look like that one day. I had always wanted her hair. So soft, so long. Took her back into the living room, sat her on the chair with a book in her hands and her reading glassed perched on the end of her nose. I knew she had loved Lee, so I cleaned up the blood and gave him a new shirt, and sat him on the couch next to her, their hands touching. I wasn't jealous – I knew she was lonely. Being with him made her smile, and I would have done anything to keep it on her face. Finished, I opened the blinds and cleaned the floor.

Curling up in my mother's lap, I sighed happily. It was just like before, when father was still alive and we had all been happy. The king and queen, and their little princess.

Three days later they found us and tore me away from my mother's lifeless arms. I cried, trying to stay with her, trying to crawl into her lap, where I belonged. I bit and thrashed, doing all I could to stay in that house. But strangely, once I was outside I felt nothing. The numbness washed over me once more, and I fell limp in their arms. The rest passed in a blur. Accused of murder, called insane. Sent to a clinic with my own room. Locked away. And here I am now, with no one but those quiet voices whispering ever so softly in my mind. My make-believe friend in a world that doesn't believe. They even took away my knife.

Every now and again I'll wake up screaming for my mother. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, just don't hate me!

Don't be scared. Fight it. You aren't mad. If anyone is, they are. Just wait it out, and we can find mother again, yeah?

Yeah. It's right. All I have to do is bide my time. Wait for me, mother. I'm coming.

They think me mad.

But we know I'm not, don't we.