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My healing gift came with twelve Rules of Darkness, rules that I must follow at all times, until the day I die. The rules are ingrained in who I am. They dictate how I live my life when I am awake, and they haunt me when I'm asleep. Don't look into a graveyard, Katia. ...
My healing gift came with twelve Rules of Darkness, rules that I must follow at all times, until the day I die. The rules are ingrained in who I am. They dictate how I live my life when I am awake, and they haunt me when I'm asleep. Don't look into a graveyard, Katia. Don't touch the dead, Katia. Never seek out the lost, Katia. It's enough to drive a person mad.
And perhaps that's where I find myself now. A victim of a disease I can cure in others, but not in myself. It's madness to break the rules, and yet, I don't care anymore. I'm tired of living my life this way. I'm tired of the rules. I won't do it any more, and if that means I suffer the consequences, then so be it.
There are rules for people like me.
That's what my great-grandmother used to say. She'd say, "Katia, you are special, so it is most important you follow the rules. The rules will keep you safe."
Even before there were rules, there were signs.
It started with my conception. I was a blessing wrought from a brutal crime forced upon my young mother as she walked home alone one eve. The man who planted his seed was touched in the mind as they used to say, and had escaped from the nearby asylum. He came upon my mother, did his deed and left, muttering that he could not kill the woman with the river of midnight hair.
My great-grandma used to tell me that all I was, and all I would become, began then.
That was the first sign.
Then, on a cold night during the month of the Epiphany, my mother went into premature labor. Beneath a clear star-filled sky and a Lilith moon, she laid on a pile of blankets next to a fire, her body wracked in pain. The elders had gathered to see what kind of child she'd bring forth.
The whole village knew of the circumstances that brought my mother to that point, and they knew she would not live to see the morning, for my great-grandmother, a powerful seer, had read it in the cards. Even in those so-called modern times, my people still followed the old ways. Not that it mattered, for our kind would've never considered stepping foot in any hospital.
So as my mother gave me life, she lost hers, only living long enough to name me "Katia".
That was the second sign.
My great-grandmother saw to my care and found another woman suckling to give me milk. She had done this before, as my mother's mother had met thesame fate. As my eyes turned from blue to blue hazel, she often said she knew then, if the other two signs had not been enough, that I was special.
"Four colors. Your eyes hold all of nature. The green of the sacred tree, the gold of sand and stone, the blue of sky and water, but most importantly, you have the ring of shadow that binds them all. They will flock to you, thinking you are their way to heaven. If they live, lay your hands upon them and grant them peace. But never with the dead."
That was the third sign ... and my first rule.
I never knew who "they" were until I was five. It was a beautiful autumn day and I wandered through the woods alone, enjoying the sunbeams dancing through the canopy of trees as I picked berries. A woman appeared then, naked and lost, not only in the forest, but also in the maze of voices that floated around in her head. I could hear them whispering.
We made eye contact.
She stumbled toward me, grabbing onto flimsy bushes that refused to hold her weight, until finally she collapsed at my feet. Rising to her knees, she wrapped her arms around me and pulled me close, holding me as one would their own child.
At first, I stood dumbfounded, unable to speak. I wondered if she was a patient of the nearby hospital--the place where mean doctors locked people away in chains and opened their skulls with butcher knives.
Then my great-grandma's words came to me.
They will flock to you, thinking you are their way to heaven. If they live, lay your hands upon them...
I hugged her back. "Go in peace."
Sobbing, the woman withdrew. I watched her eyes as her mind collected the many people in her head and merged them into one being.
She looked down at her bare body, then back at me. "Where am I?"
"Little girl, may I borrow your cape?"
I untied it from my shoulders and handed it to her.
"Thank you, for everything," she whispered and walked away.
Great-grandma was upset when I came home without my cloak. When I explained what happened, she just patted my head, telling me that it was time for me to learn all the rules.
For many sheltered years, I heard them, memorized them, studied them and practiced them. Then one day, when I was sixteen, my great-grandmother died and I was alone in the world. That very night, under the cover of darkness, I fled my village forever, and even broke a rule while doing so.
It was a full moon.
I ran away from my life, away from all I'd ever known, away from my arranged betrothal. I ran from my destiny, for it was too much for me to bear.
I ended up traveling the world, wanting nothing more than to be alone. I survived by taking odd jobs and living off the generosity of others until I saved up enough money to move on, or attracted enough lost to make staying dangerous to the people around me.
Finally, I settled down here in America and went to school. I became an artist and have done well for myself. Very well. I have no regrets except for the love I left behind.
But no matter how far I ran from home, the rules of my life stayed close. Twelve rules, just like the twelve months in a year:
+ Never walk the forest at night when the moon is full.
+ Never look into a dark mirror.
+ Never glance into a graveyard as you pass it.
+ If you should see an unknown light reflect in the eyes of an animal, leave immediately.
+ Should you hear three unseen knocks, leave immediately.
+ Never pick up random objects that lay outside on the ground.
+ Never keep any object if you don't know its origin.
+ Avoid objects and places that have a violent history or were created before time written.
+ Never seek out the lost. Let them come to you.
+ Never allow someone to tell you your future.
+ Never tell anyone of your gifts.
+ And most importantly--never touch the dead. Not in any form.
You might wonder why I'm giving you my life story, and my answer to you would be because it is necessary. It is the only way you can understand how I found myself where I am now ... standing before my French doors, looking through the glass at a pale, dark-haired teen with empty black eyes and the gaping mouth of death.
He wants me to let him in.
Posted August 12, 2011
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