Messed Up Things

First, she was an ordinary kid who dreamed of extraordinary things.
Then she became the stuff of urban legends and impossible fantasies.
Now, she's a monster. She's a long way past saving, and she knows it.
She's just holding onto the hope that the others won't go the same way.

(All credit to the amazing NamesFromGraves for my gorgeous cover!)

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13. Empty Thoughts

 

What the fuck was I thinking?

Ember caught the ledge with one hand and swung herself through the open window, landing on her feet in the warm darkness inside her bedroom. She pulled the window shut. Then, as one final lightning-strike of grief and anger crashed through her mind and shuddered through her body, her legs gave way and she collapsed to the floor in a sobbing, shaking heap of black clothes and glowing eyes and dark, dark thoughts. What the fuck had she done?

What the fuck are you going to do?

She tore off her mask with one hand and used her mind to fling it far away, losing sight of the thing in the darkness under her bed. Her hood had fallen down already, freeing her hair; strands of the stuff were clinging to her face, stuck to her tear-stained, sweat-soaked skin. A final tear wriggled free of her eyelid and swam down her cheek, and she let it go, wishing that there could be more, wishing that they could drown her, purge her of the dry, hot emptiness that was filling her mind and burning blackened holes through her thoughts. Of course, deep down, she knew that sadness wouldn't save her. Neither would anger, or fear, or regret. But she also knew that, if she left it to grow and fester and burn, the emptiness would tear her apart from the inside.

​She lay there for hours, numb and cold and almost alone.

Almost.

That voice- the one that had followed her through the darkness for so long- was still there, still whispering. Its words echoed endlessly in her hollow head, and she wasn’t sure if she believed them, but in the end, she supposed that it didn’t matter, because she had no choice but to lie there and listen.

You like being the bad guy. Don’t you?

​No, she didn't.

Yes.

Yes, you do.

Do you remember how she was looking at you tonight? She was afraid of you.

Ember thought, and she remembered. She saw Raegan's pale face growing paler, drenched in Ember's scarlet gaze. She saw her cold, grey eyes growing colder, full of fear that made them wide and white and wild. She'd been terrified. Utterly terrified. And...

And that made you feel good. It made you feel powerful. More powerful than you’ve felt since Ashwell.

And speaking of Ashwell…

Ember closed her eyes and took a deep, ragged breath as the face in her head began to change, ripple, becoming the likeness of a different girl. This girl was smaller, thinner, prettier, but her hair was the same colour as Raegan’s. Red. Vivid against the black concrete as she lay there, her eyes staring, empty. Surrounded by eight others with those same dead, dark eyes.

You enjoyed killing them.

Didn’t you?

Had she? She didn’t know. She didn’t think so. If she had, she hadn’t meant to. She hadn’t meant any of it.

It doesn’t matter if you meant it or not.

Nobody ever means to hurt anyone.

But people still get hurt, don’t they?

And you’re still guilty when they do.

Another sob tore itself free from between her lips and spiralled away into the shadows. She dug her heels into the carpet and shoved herself back against the wall, drawing her knees up to her chin, clamping her hands to her ears in a desperate attempt to get rid of the voice, but it was inside her head, and it kept talking.

You enjoyed it.

And you want to do it again.

And again.

And again and again and again.

Until everyone’s just as dead and empty as you are.

And there’s nothing left to cry over.

No. No, she didn’t want to do that. She wanted to jump into bed and pull the covers up over her head and cry until she was numb. She wanted to go to school and see her friends and wear a real smile, for once, and she wanted to get yelled at for forgetting her homework or wearing too much makeup or anything, anything that wasn’t sick and twisted and monstrous. She wanted to be normal again. Was that really too much to ask?

Yes.

Yes, it is.

Because you’re not normal.

You’re a freak. A murderer. A monster.

And now, that’s all you’ll ever be.

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