I buried myself in my pillow as Joseph's cries echoed through the house. He was always so loud, so needy, so annoying. I threw my pillow across the room in frustration before getting up and storming into his room which was right next door to mine.

"What do you want?" I yelled. He only cried more. The stupid boy was ten years old and still acted like a baby. He didn't respond, only looked at me with that stupid look in his eye and pointed at nothing. I sighed in exasperation. It was twelve midnight and I needed sleep. "Just go back to sleep and STOP SCREAMING!" I yelled. I slammed the door to his room closed, sighing in relief as the irritating noise was muffled. Returning to my room, I collapsed and was soon asleep again.

It was somewhere between two in the morning and sunrise when I awoke to singing. It seemed to be coming from Joseph's room. Curious and unable to get back to sleep, I got out of bed, slipped on my slippers and walked into the hallway. I walked quietly and slowly, careful not to make a disturbance. As I got closer to Joseph's room the singing became clearer. The voice was soft and soprano but sung loud enough to penetrate his softening wails.

Hush little baby don't say a word

Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird

And if that mockingbird don't sing

Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring

The wails were getting quieter and quieter and as I crept towards the noise I felt calmer and calmer. So calm I could fall asleep. My eyelids dropped temptingly but my curiosity was stronger, there was a stranger in my house after all. By the time I made it to the door, Joseph had stopped crying. I creaked the door open just a crack and peeked inside. The room was dark but I could see the clear figure of a woman, or more accurately an adolescent girl, standing in the moonlight. Her clothes were black which helped her blend into the dark but didn't help me distinguish her. I moved so I could see her more clearly. Her black clothes were unusually designed. The cloth covered her chest, arms and legs but not her shoulders, stomach and wrists. The skin that could be seen was horribly mutilated with scars that twisted her skin upwards in crooked lines. Some looked like stab wounds, others like knife cuts and still others like burns. The scars covered every inch of her, except her face, which only had one long scar running from her left cheekbone to her jaw.

The strange girl tucked Joseph into bed, her movements clear and smooth like a ballerina's. Her hair appeared to be red but sometimes the light made it appear blonde or even gold as she moved. It may have been a trick of the light but one of her eyes appeared to be pitch black and... leaking. Her nose twitched like a bunny's as I moved to stand up. I planned to call the police of course. Some random girl broke into my house and interacted with my son, what else was I gonna do? But before I could move further than a step away from the door, she moved. It was so fast I almost didn't see her. The door opened and she looked at me, her head cocked to the side and a knife I hadn't seen before in one hand. I gulped, scared she'd use it, but she simply smiled and held out her hands to me. The knife was gone.

"Isabel," she whispered in the darkness. "Don't be afraid."  All of a sudden the calming aura was back and I relaxed. Now she was right in front of me. I could clearly see her eyes. One was indeed pitch black but I couldn't see any evidence of the dripping I thought I saw before. The other was multicoloured. Black lines separated each colour into one of six sections. Amber, sky blue, green, navy blue, purple and red. It was enchanting to look at. I was so lost in staring at those... mesmerising eyes... that I hadn't noticed she'd gotten closer and was holding my wrists in her hands.

"That boy of yours suffers a lot doesn't he?" She asked. "He's always screaming. Always crying for help." She frowned and looked into my eyes. "That annoys you, doesn't it?" I nodded passively. Why not answer this nice girl? Why not tell her exactly how I feel about my infuriating son? She was so easy to talk to. "Why don't you understand what he's going through?" She asked quietly. She sounded sad, disappointed. "Why can't any of you understand how much pain we're in?"

"I don't know," I said. Even then I felt how unusually blank I was being. How submissive and calm. She let me go and I suddenly found myself on my butt, my head smarting from falling against the wall. I felt dizzy and unbalanced as I looked back up at the girl. Both her eyes had changed to a fiery red, like the one that'd only taken up a section of her right eye before. Only a drop of dark blue remained, hiding behind the red in her right eye. Her lips were pursed; the knife was back.

"Do you know what pain feels like Isabel?" she asked, biting anger in her tone. "Or have you been this selfish your whole life as to have never known what it's like to suffer?" I was too dazed to answer.

"What is she talking about?" was all I could think. Mum always said I was a good girl.

"Your mother," the girl began, crouching down in front of me. "Was blind to your faults, which is why you never corrected them." Her eyes had changed again, this time the left was purple and the right was red. There was no more blue. "If you can't understand. I'll make you understand." She gave no warning before she plunged the knife into my stomach. It didn't hurt. At least, not at first. Instead of the expected burst of pain as sharpened metal split my skin and stomach, I was overpowered by fear. Sheer, utter terror. My heart raced and my breath shortened. I couldn't move. My limbs wouldn't respond. I was shaking all over and the unshakable feeling of nausea made me want to be sick right then and there. I tried to feel my beating heart but my perception of reality was bending and all I could feel was my body. 

I'm going to die! my head screamed. Someone! Someone please help I'm going to die! I was aware of the girl just staring at me as my heart pounded out of my chest and I broke into a cold sweat. I need to- I need to get out! Someone help me! Tears fell down my cheeks in a steady stream as I struggled to pull myself from oblivion. My hands were moving frantically all over my body, looking for a heart beat. Some evidence of life. I felt nauseous. My bones didn't seem to be in the right place. My muscles didn't move properly. My eyes searched desperately for help. Why won't anyone help me? I wondered as my throat began to close. I'm dying... someone... please help me. I burst into sobs then. I barely had time to take a breath. Why won't anyone help me? I finally moved my hands to cover my eyes as I sobbed, not caring that they caught and tangled my hair. Am I really that worthless? Doesn't anyone care about me?

Then the feelings in my brain burst. My head was suddenly filled with a hundred different emotions. Anger, sadness, abandonment, fear, anxiety, confusion, guilt. Then I screamed. It was too much. The pain was too much. I screamed and screamed and screamed until my throat was raw. My hands moved from my face to dig into my hair, pulling at the strands in frustration and anger. I pushed myself up the wall with claw-like hands still in my hair, still screaming. The knife was still in my stomach and it ripped through my skin as I stood, falling out of my stomach and leaving a crooked line from which blood poured from my belly. I was still screaming as I collapsed, crumpling into a fetal position with my hands ripping out my hair and scratching my scalp until it bled. Soft singing could be heard from Joseph's room. I could see the girl sitting next to him, singing him a song as he cried into her arms. Lights from the neighbours could be seen through the window as my vision blurred. I reached out a twitching hand to Joseph, to my little boy. He met my desperate gaze but he didn't move to save me. My little boy didn't move to save his mummy. "Joseph," I coughed, my throat so tight I could barely choke out the words. "Was this how you felt?" he continued to stare at me before nodding.

"I-I wanted you to listen," he whispered. "But you never did." His eyes welled up with tears, matching my own watery eyes. "Why couldn't you just listen Mum? Why couldn't you just look? Just once, for me." He looked away and the sound of sirens could be heard from outside. The girl let Joseph go and walked over to me, retrieving her knife and giving me a smile of... pity.

"Parents never listen," she said, shaking her head. "Adults think they already have the answers so they don't bother to listen to children. Do you know how much that hurts now?" The edges of my eyes were going black and my head was fuzzy but I managed to choke out one question.

"W-Who are you?" I coughed up blood as her smile dropped.

"They call me the Empath," she replied, gesturing outside to who knows who. "But my friends call me Six." She kissed me on the forehead before standing up and walking down the hallway, leaving Joseph to stand in his room and watch me die.

Paramedics found their way to me moments before death. I'd almost lost too much blood.

"The neighbours say they heard screaming," the police officer ordered to interview me said. "Was this screaming coming from you?"

I nodded quietly, trying not to pay attention to the intimidating blandness of the room.

"They also said that sometimes your son... uh... Joseph would scream and cry too. Is there any connection there?"

I shook my head.

The policeman sounded bored. Couldn't he see I'd just been attacked? "Did you know this girl?"

I shook my head again. My hands were clenching in anger. Weren't they gonna do anything about it?

"Were you on drugs at the time?"

That was too much. "I know what I saw," I snapped, a feral snarl forming on my lips. "I'm not lying about any of it. That girl's a monster."

The policeman sighed. "With all due respect, Ms Gavin, your description seems... off," he explained wearily.

"Well it's the truth." I glared at him and he shook his head.

"Well, it was nice seeing you, Ms Gavin. I hope you and Joseph have a good rest of the day. If you'll just wait here..." I nodded and he left the room for the other side of the one-way mirror. Joseph, who was sitting against the wall, hugged himself and began singing in a quiet, choked voice, rocking back and forth and staring blankly at nothing.

Hush little baby don't say a word

Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird

And if that mockingbird don't sing

Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring

And if that diamond ring turns brass

Papa's gonna buy you a looking glass

I snapped. I don't know what came over me. My hands were just wrapped around his throat and I was squeezing him, hard. He gasped for breath, his eyes desperate. The shouts of officers filled the room as they dragged me from him and handcuffed me. They held me down against a wall opposite the one-sided mirror as I struggled. I swore, I swore, I could see that girl looking in as if she was on the other side of the glass just staring at me with that smile of pity. I screamed. She waved me a goodbye then turned and left, blowing Joseph a little, sisterly kiss as she went. She's haunting me. I can see her in the mirror. I see her in Joseph's face. I hear her in that lullaby. She's haunting me.

Someone help me. Someone please help. I promise I'm a good girl. Just someone please help me.

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