Another boring day. Another day re-organising the rails of skimpy dresses and trying to avoid anyone who came my way. I hate working in this department store.
I don't like people. I never have. I don't like looking into their minds and seeing all the sick, twisted, disgusting thoughts they've ever had. I hate breaking down that last wall of privacy and letting their minds wash over me like sewage. It stains. It stains me inside.
They told me I was mad. Maybe I am. Or maybe I'm not. Does it really make all that much difference? They told me I was lucky to get this job. I don't care about that, either.
I can't tell anyone. If I did, they'd say I was mad, like Mum and Dad and Uncle Jack. They all said that. I don't know where they are now, and they don't know about me. I left them behind. I don't need them. They don't need me. We're quits.
There. I check my watch again. 4:30. I'm free to go. Where? Anywhere. Does it really matter? I don't think so.
I wander about the streets, my hair blowing in the wind. It's too long, but I won't get it cut. It hides me. It hides me from the prying eyes of the world.
My eye alights on a bar. There are a few teenagers inside. It looks warm and comforting. Just the sort of place where it's easy to disappear into a corner and... and do what? I don't really care. Just so long as I can be me.
I push open the door and make my way past the gaggle of girls to a table. A waitress with a mane of caramel hair brushes against me. I nearly trip.
'Sorry,' she says. Our eyes meet, and in an instant I am in her mind. My God. I grab the table in order to stay upright as the world tilts alarmingly. The girls have stopped giggling, and are watching me with round eyes. Great. Just what I wanted.
I close my eyes and concentrate on breathing. The waitress is saying something, but I can't hear her. All I can think of is what I saw inside her.
I must really be mad. What I saw cannot be true. There is no way... is there? I look up, and our eyes meet again. Hers are full of concern. Mine... of wonder. And suspicion.
And I am inside her again. Colours whirl past me, memories, ideas half forgotten, names that mean nothing to me but give her wrenches of pain. When I am in her mind, she sees what I see. She knows what I know.
I pull out of her again, gasping. Her eyes are wide now.
'W-what just happened?' she whispers.
I shake my head. This can't be happening. 'You...' I manage to say. 'You're like me.'