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Casey's POV

                Music pounded into my eardrums, the volume louder than normal. My eyes darted warily about the students who filled the cramped hallway, and I was positive they could hear my music despite their chatter. The skepticism and suspicion that had developed within me over the years now consumed me; it was me. Needless to say, I was more than self-conscious and all-too-aware of the people around me. 

Trying to squash those irrational feelings, I yawned as the music continued to blare, the lyrics and instrumentals blending into one loud buzz.

                I was content with my hearing being blown to smithereens so long as it blocked everything out; I could care less if I could tell what the artist was singing or if it was all just noise. Just anything to keep me from thinking made me happy.

                Feet slowly shuffling across the once-white tiles, they made their way to the classroom of their own accord. They knew the routine; there was no need to think twice about it. No need to risk the other thoughts getting involved. 

Students began to drift in, but I barely spared them a glance as I took my seat near the back. A minute or so later, the teacher stood and began to speak, undoubtedly starting today's lesson.

                I could feel my hands automatically reach up to pull out my earbuds, an effort to at least try to learn something while I was stuck here. But then I paused, my hands falling limply back into my lap moments later.

                No, not today; I can't learn today. I don't want risk it, the symptoms seem to be worse than normal today.

                Even as the thought flit across my kind, a wave of exhaustion overcame me, and I couldn't stop my mind from going back to this morning. I already felt weak from the constant sleep deprivation, and I didn't have the strength nor willpower to stop the darkness from dragging me down. With one final yawn, I finally succumbed to the sleep clawing at me, nothing to protect me from the flooding memories.

***

                A symphony of voices pulled me from my slumber, startling me upright. I frantically gazed around my room, searching for the owners of the voices. Yet I wasn't surprised when I found that I was alone, the only thing keeping me company was my stuffed orange cat, Kyo.

                I should have been used to it by now - I already knew that the voices were in my head. Still, I grabbed Kyo and hugged him to my chest, with futile hope that he could somehow protect me from the brutal words that were soon to come.

                "Go away," I ground out, clenching my jaw and squeezing my eyes shut. I tried to force them from my mind, but instead they grew more callous and taunting.

                "Why Casey? Why don't you want to talk?" One of them cooed.

                "Yeah Casey, talk to us! Or are you too much of a loner?" another chimed.

                "Of course she's a loner! Look at her, she's too ugly to have friends." A chorus of laughter followed this comment, making me squeeze Kyo to my chest harder, desperately trying to block them out. Go away, please go away, I chanted in my mind repeatedly in hopes of drowning them out.

                "Oh stop, she's not ugly! She looks completely normal - like all the other blobfish in the world. Strange that she has somehow adapted to land though, that makes her even more of an outcast."

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