Bzzzzzt! Bzzzzzt!

"Dammit," Diana muttered to herself as she smacked the off button on her irritating alarm clock. She dragged herself across the floor strewn with dirty clothes and miscellaneous clutter to her tiny bathroom to start getting ready for her monotonous minimum wage job at the local supermarket.

Her slightly glazed gray eyes fell on the image of a young woman in her mid-20's with long, dull blond hair which hung limply across a pale, thin face. The beginnings of wrinkles showed at the corners of her mouth and under her blood-shot eyes. Pulling her gaze away from her reflection in the mirror, she went about her usual routine of brushing her teeth and taking a short, hot shower.

Feeling a good deal less groggy, she wrapped a faded brown terrycloth towel around her soaking wet body and strode back into the main room of her small apartment, which held her bed, dresser and a slightly lopsided table with a pair of chairs. Tossing her towel off to the side of the room, she began getting dressed for work, until the feeling struck her. That sudden, unshakeable feeling of need gripped her, flushing all other thoughts out of her head, leaving only burning desire. She trudged over to her bed, pulling up the mattress to reveal a small, zip-lock plastic bag. Why am I doing this? she thought to herself in exasperation as she snatched the bag greedily from its hiding place. Pouring a tiny amount of the dark green mixture with practiced accuracy onto a little square of white paper, she sighed deeply. She rolled the tiny package into a tube and lit the end of it with a bright red lighter. She took a long drag…

…and began a torrent of coughing.

"Awww looks like she can't take it, huh guys?" Marshal asked in his usual mocking voice.

Diana stifled her coughing long enough to take another drag without coughing, just to prove that she really could take it. A wave of total relaxation hit her, washing away any and all stress. Her vision blurred and her mind was a chaotic mess of random thoughts and ideas. She felt the urge to do anything and everything, yet at the same time didn't care what happened. She didn't even care about what would happen if her father found out, somehow taking solace in the paradox of wanting to do everything and nothing at the same time.

"Heh, guess she's a lil tougher than we thought," Marshal drawled to the five other youths huddled together behind the high school bleachers.

"Sure as hell am," Diana slurred, gazing into nothing with eyes like peppermint candies.

"How would you like to stay wit' us next period too? I gots some vodka in my bag.

"Sure! Why not? I only got math next period! Who needs math anyway…"

…and sighed to herself in resignation. Who could have guessed that one little mistake could have led to so many problems? she wondered, releasing the sickening, yet strangely alluring fumes. Before she could even take a second puff, there was a pounding on the door.

"Police! We have a warrant for the search of the apartment of Ms. Diana Hetfield!"

"Shit!" she murmured under her breath. She had completely forgotten that they had been there the week before, asking around about any drug-related activities. She hadn't been home when they came, and she guessed that they somehow took her absence as a sign of guilt and gotten a search warrant. Her supplier, who lived next door, had told her about the visit.

They called several more times, but she ignored them, praying that they would leave when she didn't answer the door, although she knew that that was highly unlikely. Eventually they began banging harder until she realized that they were trying to break it down. Finally, the door came flying off of its hinges…

allowing her father to stomp into her room. His huge, bearded face was purple with drunken fury.

"I told you to be home by 5 o'clock!" he screamed in his husky, slurred voice.

"But Dad! I was only 10 minutes late!" she replied meekly.

"I don't care!!! When I tell you five, I mean five! No excuses!" he replied, smacking her right off of her bed, where she had been doing her homework, with his rough, leathery hand.

She tried to object, but was cut off when he walloped her again, and then again, never letting up. He continued screaming about how she should be home when he told her, simply because he told her so. After nearly ten minutes of thrashing Diana, her father finally tired of her punishment and simply left the room, to find some more whisky and drink the night away.

Battered and bruised, with huge purple welts covering her arms and chest, Diana just sat on her bed, nursing her various aches. Her only consolation was that her father didn't know why she had been late. If he had known that, she likely would no longer be alive. It was because of him that she had been late anyway. Sometimes it seemed like that lovely little narcotic was the only thing that kept her from going insane. It was her father's constant abuse that caused her dependency anyway.

Eventually she just got up and walked into the bathroom across the hall from her room to find some ointment to help heal her injuries faster. She then returned to her room to seek relief in putting to use the thing which had caused her lateness...

…and before they could even take a single step inside the apartment, she was sprinting towards the open window. She jumped out, landing on rusted old remains of the fire escape. Diana flew down the stairs, not caring about her clothes being torn on the sharp edges of the landings which had fallen into disrepair over the years. Not bothering to stop when she reached the ground, she just kept running down the street, into the early morning bustle of traffic. She ran until her legs were numb and even then kept running until she tripped over a rock and into a bush, slamming her head on the hard ground, and rendering her unconscious.