The skies were filled with dark,
black clouds, roiling over each other.
Voices echoed inside my mind,
yours in particular tonight, dear.
The world has become dark with fear,
blackened with the smokes from war.
When will it all end? When will all
of the screams stop in my head?
Time will tell, of course, it always
does. No matter what, it does.
End my fear, end my doubts, end
it all. Put me out of my misery.
This is the end, I'll show you.

Chapter 1: So here's the story, kid.

I CAME INTO THIS WORLD almost seventeen years ago now, something that I've always been told shouldn't have happened in the first place.

The story I've always been told by my mother, as if it were some fairy tale or even some sort of a bedtime story growing up, involves a guy whom she had madly in love with, who had left her suddenly, disappearing into the dark, starry night. She spoke of it as if it were some mystery; as if it were something that hadn't even happened to herself.

My grandparents had told me the same story, except there was a strange twist to it. There was no love, there was no honesty nor trust… there was no father, just a man. He was just a man who had used my mother and tricked her into loving him back… and then skipped town as soon as he found out that she was expecting. My grandmother said a lot of men are like that, but I just laugh. She's quite bitter and jaded; I don't much like talking to her about anything that involves guys.

You would have thought that hearing all of this my entire life would have made me bitter against love, but it just made me want to find the right one that much more. Even though I'm still a teenager, I still believe that there's such thing as true love, and that anyone can find it, at any age. I don't care if I'm almost seventeen. I don't care if I'm eighty when I find it, even. As long as I find it, that's all that matters, right?

My mother was sixteen when she met my father, and she had fallen madly in love with him. All through her life growing up she'd wanted to be a mother, wanted to have a baby girl. She had gotten her wish right before my father had left when she was just barely seventeen herself; she was pregnant from this mystery man.

She had decided that she wanted to keep me – no matter the cost. She said that I was always a reminder of what she had lost, but not in a bad way. I was a reminder of the man that she had loved unconditionally, and who had loved her even more back, though my grandmother had always been bitter about the subject. She'd always say that I was just a reminder of a monster... that I was destined to become one myself.

I've never known who my real father is – I've never seen a picture of him, nor has my mother told me what he looked like. In all of my life, she had never had another boyfriend or gotten married. I guess she's just been waiting for him to come back.

I wish I knew what he looked like, though. No matter how many times I've asked for a picture, or for a name, the answer was always simply and infuriatingly, no.

When I'm not in school, I'll normally be found at the cemetery in the center of town, doing charcoal rubbings or just using it as an escape, or in the library doing research. I find the cemetery peaceful, and quiet compared to my everyday life.

Out of all of the statues scattered around the cemetery, the one of the Fallen Arch Angel Michael had always drawn my attention, like a magnet pulling a piece of metal closer and closer to it. It was an irresistible pull, really. Sitting beneath it, I felt safe and whole, and I'm able to relax completely.

I'm not your average sixteen year old girl, by far. My mind is filled with consistent chattering voices, and not the ones that everyone hears. It's not my self-conscience thought, though I've wondered many different times. I'm not as sane as anyone might think, which ultimately leads me questioning who my father was, and if he was like me. I have my problems, but I live through them. On the outside, I'm an ordinary girl trying to make it through school.

Sometimes I wish that I were blind, because along with the voices, come hallucinations. It scares me, because they're not really there. They talk to me, touch me, and communicate… everything about them is human.

Lately I haven't been going anywhere by myself because of this… everything is getting worse. I've always got a friend with me, wherever I go. Even if I look like I'm by myself, unfortunately that's not true.

I don't run around judging every person, because I know that somehow, something they're going through could be worse than my life. I'm getting used to this, slowly.

I know exactly what I do, how I feel, and what I like… but who exactly am I, really? I don't know how to answer my own questions; I don't know who I really am. There's got to be more to life than feeling insane, right?

All over my body I have scars from cuts and burns, bruises, and marks that I can't explain anymore. Every night is a nightmare – but even calling it a nightmare is an understatement.

My mp3 player helps me fight the voices; it helps keep me sane so that I can try to fall asleep at night. A lot of the time, I stay up listening to my music until the sun rises, unable to drown the voices out.

My friends worry about me constantly - I suffer from blackouts and get dizzy fairly easily. I guess it's just from being overwhelmed, but nobody has ever been able to figure it out.

I've fallen into the habit of ruining everything I have going for me. Every time I try to make something better, it all ends up crumbling in the end.

I can sit here and beat myself up mentally about all of that for hours, and eventually I'll break down, crying about it, but it doesn't do me any good. The only thing that I can do now is just sit here and deal with it.

I've mostly got a short attention span, unless I'm completely fixed on something. I bruise almost too easily, and it makes people worry. I walk around with pale skin, because I've got English ancestors. And I've constantly got dark circles underneath my eyes. I'm a wreck. I'm together. I'm in pieces. But I am still whole.

I know my name, I know my age, and I know my birth date and the color of my eyes. I could tell you my entire life story, but that still wouldn't answer the question of who I am. My name is Andromeda Ray Hodge. Everyone calls me Andy. I am sixteen years of age, and my eyes are a silvery grey.

The question still remains in my mind, boring deep into my thoughts: who exactly am I?

"ANDY!" KITTY MONROE, my best friend, screamed from somewhere in the distance, dragging my mind away from my previous thoughts. Her voice was shrill and slightly panicked as she screamed for me.

Warily, I opened my eyes a crack, not knowing where I was. It was dark outside, and the street lamps glared in my eyes from where I lay on the damp grass that was cool on my back.

Everything that I'd been thinking of still lingered in my mind, about how my grandmother thought I was a mistake and every detail about me, inside and out.

I remembered a little bit of how I got here – how the voices were almost overpowering and how I'd stumbled through the streets, but not exactly where here is or the specifics, though. I knew the month; May, late May because of the warmth.

My mind was beyond the point of being foggy, and I couldn't understand why my best friend would be panicking so badly. And… why was I laying here, outside, anyway?

Suddenly, small, cold hands were on my bare shoulders, shaking me and bringing me back to the present. "Andy, wake up and talk to me right now," she growled impatiently, a hint of worry tainting her otherwise angry voice.

She gave up shaking me for a moment, and let out an impatient sigh. Something was wrong, but I couldn't quite figure out what.

"Alek! Hurry up!" she shouted for her brother impatiently, hands still on my shoulders, shaking me slightly harder than before. Alek was a year older than her and not too much more mature in the slightest bit.

My eyes opened wide at the sound of his name being screamed, waking up all of my senses and replaying everything from earlier, reminding me of where I was. I was in the cemetery, alone, in my silky black nightgown, that didn't even reach my knees. My blood ran colder than it already was before, and goosebumps rose all over my body as I thought of how I was alone here at the cemetery moments ago.

Embarrassment flooded my senses almost instantly, drowning out the chill from the thought of having been alone in a cemetery as I realized exactly what I was wearing, and exactly who was here.

"Wonderful," I thought to myself bitterly, not wanting to speak up yet.

As I started becoming more aware of everything that was going on, feeling started to come back to my limbs, more so than before. Something warm and sticky covered my arms, and I was dying to wipe it off. It felt like somebody had spilled… warm syrup all over me. My shoulders all the way down to my wrists stung, like I'd been attacked by millions of tiny claws, all at once while someone poured lemon juice all over it. I resisted the urge to shiver as I thought of it.

"Andy!" Kitty gasped, as she looked down at me and noticed I was staring up at her. I didn't know if I were smiling or grimacing, or if my face was as blank as a sheet of paper, but I know hers was of pure shock, and then horror as she looked at the rest of my body. "What did you do to yourself?" she demanded, shaking me some more as a tear slowly slid down her cheek, her cheeks turning red.

It was hard to speak, so I just rolled my head back and forth, shaking my head no. "They... told me to." I murmured in a voice just under a gravelly whisper.

I wanted so badly to tell her that it wasn't me this time, that I didn't even know what was going on, but I couldn't make my lips move. My eyes wouldn't stay open either, and they kept closing on me.

I stiffened and sucked in a quick breath as I heard louder foot-steps approaching us. Alek. It had to have been Alek. Why did they always have to come together? Why did it always make me feel pathetic and stupid whenever he came to my rescue? But worst of all, why didn't it bother me when his girlfriend got upset, even when she's my best friend?

His breathing was heavy and loud, like he'd run the whole way here. "Is she okay?" he asked, panic and other emotions laced through his voice, unable to be hidden.

Getting up the strength, I forced my eyes to open and my lips to part. "I'm fine," I tried to say, but it came out in a really low whisper, and I wasn't even sure if they had heard me.

All of the sounds around me stopped as both Alek and Kitty watched me intently; concerned looks on each of their faces. After what felt like ages, I closed my eyes and Alek got busy with what I could only guess was a wet cloth, dabbing it at my bloody arms and making them burn.

"I'm sorry," I whispered to Kitty and Alek, as the feeling of blackness surrounded my thoughts, tugging at them and clouding everything. It felt like it was clawing me away from my body, as the sounds of talking turned into murmurs and then whispers, and then ceased all together. It felt like I was running towards a bright light, and that light only kept getting smaller and smaller the more I ran.

I gave in, embracing the cold darkness that I could never outrun. I knew that I would never be able to escape it. Everything felt like it was spiraling downward, deeper into the dark abyss.

"SO, WHY DID YOU DO IT AGAIN?" ALEK QUESTIONED me in the doorway of my bedroom as he pulled me into a hug. His voice was carefully relaxed, even though I knew the subject made him anything but that.

His voice was soft, and his expression seemed distant as he stood there. He had to have been around 5'10", maybe even a little taller. He had muscles, but he wasn't overly muscular.

I'd just gotten out of bed, and my mind was working slowly. I tried pulling myself out of his hug, but that just made him tighten his arms more. I let out a sigh, giving in and relaxing a little bit.

I shook my head slightly, defeated and not really knowing how to begin. "It's the same old story, different day. You wouldn't believe me, even if I did tell you," I murmured as I pulled out of his embrace slowly, pushing against his hold and looking down at the ground.

He grabbed my arm quickly to stop me, causing me to wince. His grip on my arm loosened slightly, but still kept me in place. "You're probably right, when it comes to everyone else. I believe you, Andy. I wouldn't be here still if I didn't, and you know that. My sister thinks you need help, but she thinks that about everyone. I think she believes you too, though," Alek murmured in my ear, sounding desperate for me to believe him as he pulled me close to him again, hugging me close and resting his chin on the top of my head.

I let out a small, humorless laugh, hiding my face in his shirt so he couldn't see me. I didn't try pulling out of his hug again, because I knew it was just no use. "Nobody cares, Alek. You should have left me to die last night," I said flatly, my voice almost a whisper as I spoke, looking at everything but him.

My mom was at work, so our small apartment was empty. Nobody else would hear what I'm saying, which helped me relax, but only a little. My eyes scanned my room briefly, resting on my posters of alternative bands, then on my bed and the purple bedding that lay on it in a mess, and then finally on my dresser with all of my collection of glass angels on it. Reluctantly, I lowered my gaze to my arms, to stare at the bandages that covered them almost completely.

Surgical tape and gauze were laced up and down both of my arms, from the tops of my hands all the way up to the very tops of my arms. Faint red smudges shown through them, but not enough to need changed quite yet.

Alek's warm hand was under my chin within seconds after I spoke, lifting it so my gaze finally met his. "You're blind, Andromeda Hodge. You're the most amazing girl that I have ever met," he murmured, his sea foam blue eyes boring into my stone grey ones for only a moment. I knew that it was a lie; he was dating my best friend Marie, who sometimes goes by blue.

He kissed my forehead softly, and then looked me in the eyes again. His soft expression and intense eyes had me hesitating – the look in them was amazing yet oddly terrifying for me to comprehend. Did he really care?

I didn't know what to say to him, at all. After a few minutes of me not responding to him and just staring into his eyes, he let out a sigh and released me from his hug, running his fingers through his short brown hair.

"Are you that oblivious to everything I'm telling you?" he asked, a hint of frustration marring his ever patient voice.

All that I could do was shake my head no, as faint murmurs of voice echoed throughout my head. It would only be a matter of time before it became unbearable.

It's not in my intentions to hurt anybody, but I figured the more that I distanced myself from Alek, the better off we'd both be. I didn't want my feelings for him to grow any more than what they were already, but I knew it was all inevitable. I knew that I liked him, and that I quite possibly loved him… but I knew that he was dating my best friend. He was off-limits, and there was nothing that I would or could do to change it.

Alek didn't feel the same way about me; I knew it better than I knew my name. He's dating your best friend, you idiot, a soft voice said in my head, but I brushed it off as a thought.

The kisses on my forehead, they were meant for nothing but to calm me, they weren't meant to say I love you, though it would be nice if they were.

A slow and small tear rolled down my right cheek as I looked back at him. I felt naked, exposed, and worst of all, embarrassed. I had no reason to be embarrassed, he'd reassured me before.

"What exactly is it that you're telling me, Alek?" I whispered, half to myself, my voice catching in my throat.

A troubled look crossed his face briefly, and then was masked with an expression of concern. "You do mean a lot to me, Andy," he said, keeping eye contact, and swiping a stray tear, his thumb slowly tracing its way across my cheek.

"He's lying," a voice hissed in my head and I winced, not sure of what to do. Even though I'd been going through this since I was younger, I still wasn't used to hearing the voices suddenly like that. "Don't let him lie to you," it hissed again, this time in a raspy, broken voice.

I shook my head again, quickly, causing my tears to stray down my cheeks more frequently, until I couldn't stop them anymore.

"He doesn't care, don't you see? If he did, he'd let you go! He would leave you be. He wouldn't be here causing you pain," the rotten voice hissed once more in its shrill voice, louder than before, and I clamped my hands over my ears. It felt like whatever was yelling, was standing right beside me, and was in my ear yelling.

I wasn't paying much attention to anything other than the voices, trying to embrace the harshness and many voices instead of fight them because it would be less painful in the end. In the back of my head, I heard Alek calling out for me.

"Andy," his voice sounded distant through my hands and compared to the other voices inside my head.

He appeared next to me, trying to pry my hands away from my ears, which just made my grip tighten. I shook my head quickly, trying to get his hands away from my ears. I couldn't bear the thought of hearing the voices without my hands up like this. It would be unbearable; shrill shrieking and screaming would fill my head quickly, louder than before.

"What's going on, Andy," Alek panicked, trying to get me to answer his question. His voice and face were both filled with fear, making my breathing catch in my throat. Does he really care?

A questioning look finally took the place of fear, and then finally understanding crossed his face. I nodded my head, answering the unspoken question hanging in the air between us as he stared at me, frozen.

I'd forgotten to take my medicine last night, and this morning. The doctors had me on schizophrenic medicine since I was six years old, claiming that it would help me. The only thing that it did was turn me into a mindless zombie, and not care if a voice talked to me while I was by myself. I guess in a way it helped me, but honestly? The medication has never worked on me.

"He's no good for you!" all of the voices were screaming at it at once now, saying the same thing for once, making me gasp as a sharp pain started in my left temple, working it's way across my head.

I opened my eyes for a second and caught a glimpse of Alek running to my nightstand, where I kept my medicines.

Darkness ebbed at the corner of my vision, draining the color from everything that I could see around me. Slowly, everything began to get darker and darker. I struggled to fight it, but it was no use. I'd just have to learn to embrace the darkness, someday, because it would come for me whether I liked it or not.