A/N* All characters and plot lines belong to me, thank you. All novels and poems are All Rights Reserved Copyrighted Material-Poems and Novels, including chapters, prologues, epilogues and all associated content is copyrighted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights are reserved by the owner and creator of these works. Any unauthorized copying, broadcasting, manipulation, distribution or selling of these works constitutes as an infringement of copyright and is punishable by law.*

Also, this book does deal with some not-so-nice topics, so if you have trouble with harsher topics, I'd avoid it.

Chapter 1

The name's Katya. Pronounced KAH-tya. I am not Kate. I am not Katie, Katherine, and I am especially not Kat. I am not bad or evil, but I am not particularly good either. If you have something to say, well, don't expect me to listen. I will not be your shoulder to cry on, and I will certainly show you no pity. If you want to survive here, then you have to be cold, unfeeling. That's if you don't die first.

There is no such thing as love, compassion, or tenderness here. I don't know what it feels like to have someone always be there for you. We have no friends here, only allies, and shady ones at that. We have no light or warmth, only dark and cold.

I feel sorry for anyone who has been born here and has had to experience what I have, because no one deserves this fate. No one deserves to have their life ripped away before they are even born. But I guess life is funny like that. Life isn't fair. Life isn't here to pat you on the back and rock to sleep. Life is here to knock the wind out of you, kick you when you're down, and take away any chance you have of a real existence until there is nothing left but an empty shell of who you used to be- the molted skin of a snake or cockroach. That's life, and here, in this world, life knows what it's doing.

This world I live in is known as Dimension 1, one of several smaller sublets in between the Capitol and the off-limits black district. You don't know hell until you've been here. If you were lucky enough to have born in say, Dimension 10, or anywhere else really, I envy you. I envy the freedom you must have. I envy the stories your parents tell you about how Dimension 1 doesn't exist- it's only a myth.

I don't expect you to believe me when I tell you that you don't know what you're talking about. I don't expect you to believe that reading this book will cause you such mental and emotional scars that it will make up for some of the pain I have endured. I don't expect your disbelief, your pity, or any other misguided emotion aimed at me. I simply wish to be heard, by a world that never heard me. I warn you- this is not a story for the faint of heart. I would know- I lived it. It does not have a horrible ending, but it does not have a happy one either. If you are still reading, I admire you and your strength. But you have only just begun, and you have no idea what you have gotten yourself into… at this point, it is up to you whether you want to continue reading.

Dimension 1 is one of 9 failed projects launched by the U.S. government 50 years ago. Supposedly, they were trying to rid the world of all the evil in it, so they created another dimension to put it in. But their plan backfired. Yes, all the evil got transferred here, but the U.S. got no better or worse. It stayed the same, with equal amounts of good and evil. So they tried again. And then again.

After nine tries, the idiots finally figured out their strategy wasn't quite working. So they switched tactics. They decided to try to make a new dimension, where there were no struggles, or vile things to lurk in the corners where you least expect to find them. This time it was a success. So they continued to make more and more, sending people from the U.S. and various countries to the Dimensions. But this posed a problem. People couldn't know that a few light-years away were nine other Dimensions floating around full of evil. It would cause a panic. So they started to destroy the Dimensions. One by one they picked them off until there was none left but the original. But by this time, it was already too late. Dimension 1 had evolved so quickly that it was too powerful to destroy. So the government simply swept it under the rug, pretending it never existed. But we do exist. If we didn't, you wouldn't be reading this.

Dimension 1 lies directly beneath the Capitol. The huge gray monolith of a building towers over us. Its massive dome creates a feeling of vertigo no matter which angle you look at it from. The placement of the Capitol was no mistake. It was put there with as much purpose as a psychopath stalking his next victim. It is there to remind us. To remind us we are always being watched, oppressed. We are never alone. Between the millions of cameras placed all around Dimension 1, to the tracking chips forcefully shoved into our spinal cords, we are under its constant watch. The Capitol of Dimension 1 controls everything. All the rules and laws are made by it, and we are expected to follow. This is no democracy, it is a dictatorship. And in this dictatorship, you obey, or you're in for it. Do something bad, and you might just disappear. No belongings, no records, nothing left to prove you even existed. That's just how it is here.

Then again, in the Capitol, the idea of bad is quite frankly, a bit twisted. What you might consider bad is not what the Capitol would think. Murderers, rapists, liars- every horrible thing you could ever imagine is combined in the 50 million inhabitants of Dimension 1, and the Capitol endorses it. To do wrong, is to do good. Doing wrong is the "right" thing to do, to quote, "create the next leading Dimension".

So say you, oh, I don't know, save a puppy from being beaten to death. Perhaps you see an old man in the street about to be run over and you jump to save him. Maybe you help out a 'friend' in debt, although there really are no friends here. Well, don't expect to ever be found again. Sick is an understatement, but what do you expect in a city that thrives on it?

In Dimension 1, while you are constantly watching your back against whatever sickos are out there, most don't even notice the kingpin of the activity is really the Capitol. Unfortunately, they are who the people look up to. The people who eventually, most before adulthood, become exactly what they are asking the Capitol to protect them from.

But here in Dimension 1, that's not all. The bad in humans is not the only thing the Capitol supports. The Capitol discourages anything good, unique, or anything that isn't inherently wrong. The Capitol doesn't want someone who is different, because they are a danger, a threat. They could spark the revolution so desperately needed. It's not like people haven't tried before, but, let's just say they were never seen again.

Another thing we lack? Beauty. There are no trees or plants here, only cold metal, slick steel, industrial buildings, and smog. Lovely. There are no smaller cities, no quaint neighborhoods, no countries, oceans, rivers or forests. We simply have one big Metropolis, known as, you guessed it, Metropolis 1. The size of the United States, Metropolis 1 is massive- a monstrous city of crime and infection. Just one more Metropolis out of hundreds, but the only one that survived that wasn't perfect. You could relate Metropolis 1 to one large jail, except the only guards are crooked ones who help out the criminals, and the criminals are really the "good" people, watching out for any sign of justice that may be near.

However, what it lacks in infamy, it makes up for in a ridiculous sense of pride. Metropolis 1 has more pride than any other Dimension or universe I've seen or heard of. The people in it love it, doing anything possible to protect their "home". It's a bit ironic, how much they protect the city that they destroy on a daily basis. An interesting paradox if you really think about it. Truth is, well, there is no truth. Truth is nothing here. Hypocrisy is what reigns.

Describing Dimension 1 is like describing the drunkard you saw lying in a pool of his own vomit on the side of the street- unpleasant. Nothing much to say, you just avoid it like the stench of bile on the sidewalk. That's probably the best way though. Who knows? The drunkard on the side of the road might just be waiting for the right moment to grab you, slit your throat, and steal your wallet.

I'm sorry to tell you that the eyes you are most likely rolling right now would be cut out at this moment, blended, and then fed down your throat with a tube if you were in Dimension 1. Maybe though, you have already caught the hint and you are keeping your eyes glued straight ahead, your hands at your sides, your ears alert, and your guard up. You want to live in my world? Then you better man up, because you won't last five minutes with your attitude. There is nothing more that I can say to you, or about Dimension 1. If you've managed to get this far, then you have incredible willpower. But don't be fooled. Things never get better, they only become increasingly worse.

I have no last name, only the number 246683; a mandatory number given to any child who has no determined last name. I was born in 3014 in an alley to a drugged up, burned out minor and a nonexistent father. That's even what the records say. Nonexistent. I don't know either of their names, what they looked like, what they did- I know nothing. All I know was the age of my mother, 15, and the approximate age of my father, 25. What do I know? At three days old my mother pinned a name to my shirt, put me in a dirty, used shopping bag, and threw me at the large academy modeled after the Capitol building. Normally parents have a choice- keep the child to five and send him or her to the Academy, or, have their child killed. Seems like a pretty easy choice to me. I would've killed it-saved it from the misery it would have to endure at the Academy.

There are a few exceptions to this rule however. If a mother doesn't want the child, she can drop him or her off immediately, if the child survives long enough to be dropped off. Most don't make it past a few hours, what with the crooked doctors and crack-addicted fathers ready to sell the child to get a few hits. My mother was one of those people. She didn't want me, need me, or particularly care for me, so she left me. Not uncommon in Dimension 1. I guess you could say this is where my life begins, or rather, ends? I don't think either of them works. I would never say I had a life; Just a bleak existence.

The Academy made no mistakes in distinguishing me immediately as a "trouble-maker". It was the eyes. The peculiar large, almond shaped, blue-violet shaded eyes were almost never seen, and if they were, well, things weren't going to go well for you. Usually if your eyes were so different, they would either surgically alter them to brown, the most common of all eye colors, shared by every person in Dimension 1, or they would simply cut them out. It was a pretty easy solution if they didn't feel like paying the money for the surgery that day.

I guess it wasn't just my eyes though. The long blue-black hair, thin nose, full enough lips, the top lip slightly thinner, and the pale tan skin were all distinguishing features. Throughout my life people would look at me with disgust, saying the word "unique" as if it were the blood you were washing off your hands after your latest kill.

Most people in Dimension 1 looked almost exactly alike. Brown hair and eyes, average height, deathly pale skin, sickly looking expressions, and the glint in their eyes warning you to keep your distance. These features weren't natural. It isn't like sending the evil here altered anyone's DNA. Technically everyone is a bit different, but that is quickly changed usually right after birth.

If your cheekbones were too high, your lips too full, your weight off average, you would be sent immediately to the surgical table. Face a bit different? The doctors will cut a large opening at the bottom of your chin, then proceed to pull back the skin of your face, leaving a thick slice of flesh flapping around like a rather limp piece of bologna. Then they would shave down the bones, surgically alter the eyes, cut down the lips, etc. Then they would pull the skin back down, sew it up, and leave you with nothing but a slight scar and an entirely different face. Weight a bit off? Liposuction. Height a bit off? Grinding or snapping of bones. I'm assuming it's quite a bit of fun; like playing with Play-Doh. Mold it however you want, let it dry, and come out with a new shape.

I remained unchanged. Why they decided to keep me the way I was is unknown to me. Sometimes it just happens. It's unusual, and rarely seen, but it's not unheard of. Sometimes the surgeons or the Academy would find someone so different that they knew they wouldn't last. So they'd keep them that way to find a few cheap thrills. They would watch as the child was ostracized, talked about, beaten, and harassed until they either became a Class A killer, fueled by the rage inside of them, or they killed themselves. Either way it gave them something to watch, saving them from the "boredom" of "regular" activities in Metropolis.

When it came to the other kids, I was no exception to being treated like an outsider. I was immediately shoved into the outermost corners of the Academy, being politely tolerated as if I was the spider you found making a web in the corner of your bedroom but felt sympathy towards and chose not to kill. I occasionally was awarded with a sideways look, a chorus of whispering, or head nod to actually acknowledge that yes, I indeed existed and no, I was not a figment of your imagination.

Only two children out of the thousands that attended the Academy even took the time to talk to me, Bryce Woodell and Abbie Blakeny. Bryce was two years older than me, Abbie a year younger. Both outsiders themselves, they were no strangers to cruel treatment. We outsiders had all experienced our own problems simply because of being different. Bryce with his golden brown hair, deep green eyes, dark tan, and rebellious attitude was one of the few who chose to challenge authority on a daily basis, and Abbie with the unusual features, a different hair color every week and the large slate gray eyes that were cold as ice.

They received the same treatment as me, but if they were specially favored by the instructors I'm not sure. That was one thing that I wasn't able to avoid. I was lucky enough to be ignored by the students, but I was in no way ignored by the Academy itself.

Most children in the Academy are treated with a cold indifference or a contempt that never quite shows its face, but occasionally surfaces in the snide comments or the glares shared between the instructors when discussing or talking to a student. Unless you were one of the pedophiles targets, you weren't usually paid attention to.

I immediately noticed the difference between my treatment and the other students. At least one of the instructors always paid thorough attention to me as if they were waiting for a sign that there was something "wrong", as if they didn't already believe that. I was always followed, even into what should have been the most private of places. It didn't matter if I was eating lunch or dropping a load, there was always someone there, whether I could see them or not. If I wasn't being physically tailed, I could see the ever present security cameras. Cameras that would track my every move.

But that was only the half of it. The Academy often liked to test the students, to see how compliant they were. The ones who obeyed were always rewarded with better food, more rations, new clothes, etc. The non-compliant? They were the ones who had it hard. If they didn't obey, then there would be severe punishment. Sometimes it was a beating, sometimes it was being put onto the pedophiles' radar, or a night in solitary confinement. Most were lucky enough to avoid the torture chamber, but a few extra rowdy kids spent most of their lives down there until they were so broken, they would do anything to get out; Didn't matter how disgusting.

More often than not, the tests were there to break every living thing. Whether you obeyed or didn't, it never mattered. Either way, something in you was going to be shattered. For example, one day we were flown by helicopter into a large field that contained a slew of rubble that had been arranged into a sort of maze. The concrete blocks were white, which stood out starkly against the sparse patches of grass and scorched rubble. It was large, but not massive, although quite imposing. Once they had herded us to the center, the Academy instructors announced that we would have three minutes to try to escape. Whoever could get out would not be tracked, and we would have our freedom.

The absolute silence that occurred after this startling announcement stood out almost more than the actual gravity of the situation. I wish I could say I had some sort of huge revelation about life and the universe, but I didn't. I simply remember the extreme tension in the air, the electricity crackling with every second passing, and the moment I decided that escaping was what I had to do. Dead or alive, it didn't matter. I was determined to get out of that maze in the allotted three minutes. The moment the siren went off I sprung into action. I ran faster than anyone there, skirting around the edges of the large concrete blocks and pillars, avoiding the searchlights ready to trap the kids who tried to escape.

Most of the children were too afraid of the consequences, knowing that the test was probably rigged and they wouldn't escape, or if they did, would be brought back anyway, so they stayed put, their thoughts and fears reserved for the other students and the punishments they knew they would receive. Not me. I continued running until the breath burned in my lungs, and fire seemed to replace my every intake of oxygen. But I kept going. I had almost made it to the edge, seeing the fence, when the slight light from the moon emerging from the smog caused my shadow to spring up on one of the concrete blocks. This is how I got my street name-shadow. I can blend into any patch of darkness, and all you will see before I kill you is my shadow on the wall behind you.

Needless to say, I was caught, and the beating I earned this time kept me immobile for two weeks. For the first week I had lost partial control of the right side of my face. It healed, but it was a close call, not like it would've mattered either way. I am not here for my face.

To the Academy, that little escapade was a game. Give us hope, and then rip it out of our guts. It was the first time for most of the students to get even a little taste of freedom, and it broke ninety percent of them, watching it crushed before they even had the slightest hint of it. But for me, I had known all my life about freedom, and how close it was. All I had to do was get out.

That was the first time I tried to escape. I was five. The next time came two years later, at age seven. We were having a mandatory bomb drill, just in case any psycho got the idea to bomb our half of Metropolis. The instructor turned his back for two seconds and I was off. I thought the masses of students would cover me well enough that I would find an out, and escape. It worked to my advantage for a while, but there were too many instructors and all too quickly I was caught again. It landed me with no food for two days, and a night in solitary.

Eventually after a few more tries, and a night in the torture chamber, I learned that there was no way I would escape so young. I needed more knowledge of the inner workings of the building, more experience, and more time. So I waited. I knew with patience, and the ultimate knowledge that comes with nothing but experience, the time would come when I would escape. Every free minute I had was spent studying the building, and the system. I memorized every teachers schedule, every pedos' rounds, every rule loophole and every last word of the Book of Punishment.

Somewhere along the line I was able to hock a necklace I stole from one of the richer students to get a halo-map. The size of my palm, it would quickly unfold to five times its size, and project a 3D image of the entire Academy. I could scroll up or down depending on the situation, and before long I had the entire building memorized. With the inner workings imprinted on my brain, I sold the map to a black market run by a few of the students to receive another one that traced a route outside the building. It covered the ground all the way to the Black district, on the other side of town. I began to ready myself for escape. It had been a snap decision in the beginning, but it was turning into something deeper. The need to make a change burrowed within myself and began to fester, the possibilities of escape much greater now that I knew so much.

However, even with this new knowledge, I made no attempt at escape. I knew the time wasn't right, and with the recent crack down on security after a student almost made it to the outer gates, it would be impossible to even think of it. So I remained in class, and pretended like nothing had changed. To say this was easy would be BS. I had always been "insolent" according to the teachers, and every day made me even more determined to leave that Hellhole of a school.

When it came to answering questions in class, anything I said, no matter how innocent was considered "challenging the authorities" and awarded with a night in solitary, a beating, or both. Eventually I learned to just keep my mouth shut, and speak only if spoken to, which was rare since the instructors avoiding talking to me because of my uniqueness.

I was once asked if Murdering or Raping was the better profession. I chose neither, that both are equally proficient, which is the standard answer. My instructor then called me a smart ass and proceeded to whip me with his belt. When he asked the next student he hesitantly responded with the same answer, and the instructor nodded his head then went on to the next question. I jumped out of my seat and called him an insufferable dick, which earned me a beating that left me unconscious for two days.

Thinking about it, those nights of unconsciousness weren't the worst nights I'd had. In fact, anything that left me unconscious was better than being awake, or even asleep for that matter. Sleep brought nothing but nightmares that as sickening as it is for me to say, would find me suddenly awake and terrified, screaming until I broke into sobs. Those were the worst nights, when I felt so helpless against a world that wanted nothing more than to hurt me.

I don't pretend to be without feelings. I am not heartless, regardless of what people say. The feelings are there, like any normal person. They are simply suppressed. A person can only take so much before they break. I was determined not to be one of those people. So I shoved my feelings far into myself, locking them into a safe place where nothing could touch them. I only held on to the ones I needed at the time. The rage, the determination, the hate- that's what was left when I was done. Why I'm telling you this I don't know. Maybe so you'll be able to understand some of things that I've done, even when they seem that they are only something someone with no soul would do.

I wish with all of my heart that you don't do what I have done. I don't want you to be someone who feels nothing until they force themselves to. Because if you do, well then you'll be just like me, and no one wants to be that. To have no soul would be easier than having one that is left hanging by a thread. To have no soul would be an ignorance close to bliss, because at least then when you do something wrong, it won't cut into you like a thousand shards of glass, leaving oozing slices closer and closer to the emotions that you try so hard to keep safe.

At least I know now that I can warn you. That telling you the story of myself will lessen your chances considerably of making my mistakes, no matter where you are living. I want you to read this and be horrified. I want this to evoke the emotions in you that are stronger than I could ever muster. Being scared or afraid is not a weakness, like I thought it was. Crying is not a weakness. I pray you'll see, and I pray for your heart, because I won't be surprised if it gives out…