Thursday, June 4, 2015

1. A Gift, A Curse

There was once a man among many men;
Was it in the Middle Age or was it long before,
When he appeared before the priest, bleeding from his eyes
And on his hands were written words of doom.
“Once every 50 years, a special child shall be born in the Middle World.
He shall able to see evil but bow his head in front of it.
The rule he has to obey is only one: never interfere.
He shall watch and regret; he shall wait, knowing that the darkness shall rise again.
He shall be freed only when the Darker Side of the Moon will face the Middle World.”
Ever since, every child born at every 50 years on a full moon has been killed. However, throughout time, that story became insignificant and the world forgot it ever existed.
In the 21st Century, one child has been born under the light of the full moon; one special child whose path in life has already been settled.

“Mommy? Why is the sky so dark?” Asked a six years old Zoe Lestrade, hiding behind her mother in fear.
Her mother looked at her daughter questioningly.
“What do you mean Zoe? It’s bright outside. There’s not even one cloud on the sky.”
The girl frowned and tightened her grip on her mother’s hand. Zoe could see it even if her mother couldn’t; the sky was grey and dark mist was flying around.
One woman walked towards them and hugged her mother. They seemed close. The older woman leaned towards Zoe and patted her head.
“You’re such a cute little girl, aren’t you?” The woman smiled but Zoe was too preoccupied with the woman behind her mother’s acquaintance. Her eyes were black and her hair was white. She was really pale and didn’t look friendly at all.
The pale person noticed the young girl staring at her and cracked a weird smile before disappearing.
“Come on, Zoe. Let’s go buy cake for your father’s birthday. Aunt Lucy will join us!” The girl nodded.
When she turned around she saw that pale woman again. She just appeared in front of her.
“You can see me. You can see the darkness, can’t you?”
Being only a child, Zoe screamed and grabbed onto her mother’s leg.
“Zoe, what’s going on? Why are you crying?”
She was grabbing the attention of the whole street. Zoe couldn’t stop trembling and her face was stained with tears. The pale woman cracked her head to the side, scaring the child even more. Her wide smile looked sick, like she has been petrified with that expression before she died.
“Shh. This is a secret. Even if you tell her, she won’t believe you.”
The child only cried more.
From that moment forward, the darkness around Zoe Lestrade intensified and became like a veil, covering her from the rest of the world.

As Zoe Lestrade grew older, she also grew to ignore the things around her. They weren’t people, she realized that. They were lost spirits connected to Earth or dark forces from Hell; she didn’t know what was worse. These spirits were always coming to her for help or for entertainment. It was annoying, mostly because she grew up to hate human interaction because of them.
Most of her friends were ghosts or dark fairies. Those were very common on Earth. People called them bad luck, but they were just a bunch of mischievous little bastards who loved to mess with humans; especially her.
Zoe didn’t know why she was like that. She had no clue why she could see the darker side of the world. No matter how hard she tried, it was too hard to ignore. She learned how to distinguish between normal and unusual through books and documentaries; maybe not everything was real on the screen but everything in her life was.
Her parents never really understood the difference between common imaginary friends and her imaginary friends. After she became a teenager, it was weird to have something so childish surrounding her. She never isolated herself and therefore blended in with the other students through high school.
The bad times began after she became an adult.
“You want to move alone? But aren’t you happy here with us? You have everything you need.”
Her mother was overprotective. Besides, she was a little sceptical in letting her weird daughter venture into the big bad world.
“I will be fine, mom. I just need a place of my own.” Her mother didn’t seem convinced, “I’m 24 already. Don’t you think it’s time?”
Her father walked behind her mother and wrapped a hand around her waist.
“I think you’re right. You are old enough to start your own life. You already have a job and a diploma. All you need is freedom.” Zoe smiled gratefully.
Her father is a nice man who’s always been on her side. Even when she had her episodes, he was always against therapy and special schools; he’s always trusted her.
It took another three hours until Mrs Lestrade gave up. Zoe was so happy that she started to pack right away. Of course, not everything went well with her choice.
On the day she moved to her new apartment, ghosts barged in as if it was a party. They made a lot of noise and the neighbours weren’t happy at all.
“Please leave,” She mumbled, sitting at her desk with her laptop open.
Zoe was trying her best to ignore the party in the living room and concentrate on work. She’s been writing and drawing ever she entered university so it’s been a while now; three years to be prĂ©cised.
The noise got louder and a slight breeze closed the door to her room.
“They are suspiciously joyful for such dark creatures,” She mumbled, aware that someone was standing behind her.
“That’s because you let them,” The voice of a young man started, his energy becoming more prominent because he was walking closer to her, “You can’t fight them anyway. They are drawn to you,” He continued.
That was part of her day to day life; scolding and judgemental opinions that weren’t needed but were coming anyway. Zoe got used to them since she’s been followed by familiars for as long as she could remember. Actually, anything could be a familiar, from mice to low ranking fairies.
According to English witchcraft handbooks of the early seventeenth century, the name was given to spirits attendant upon witches and magicians. It is said that the familiar, in the shape of a small domestic animals, was given to the witch by the Devil as companion, helper and adviser, which could be used to perform malicious errands. However, Zoe doubted that last part because in her 24 years of life, the familiars she met did nothing but play with the human imagination.
The noise got louder and Zoe was forced to save her work and turn towards the door helplessly.
“You should use a spell or two to make them leave,” The ghost started, the wood cracking under his feet even if he wasn’t material but only energy.
A sudden knock made the whole apartment freeze and Zoe’s breathe hitched. She had to walk through the mess that was in her living room to get to the front door and the fairies lurking around the jukebox were slowly getting the hang of how it worked. Truthfully, they stole it and brought it when she was working because Zoe didn’t remember having something like that.
“Excuse me ma’am but we got a complaint on this address,” The police officer begun as soon as she opened the door.
“Great,”
She frowned and glanced over her shoulder at the mess that was in her apartment: except fairies, she could see ghosts that she has never met before and familiars of all forms and sizes.

After that complaint, came another and another and she had to move to a different apartment after only a week.
The second place was a little cramped. That didn’t stop the dark fairies to come and hang around, though. They also found it necessary to bring bad luck to everyone in the complex. Zoe had to move again.
“You’re making my life miserable,” She mumbled to the perky fairy on her shoulder.
“You just didn’t find the right place yet. We feel the danger around you. We’re just trying to protect you.”
“I need protection from you not from my neighbours.” The fairy rolled her eyes and pinched her cheek. Since she was on the street, Zoe had no choice but slightly slap her cheeks. That way, the fairy got squished.
“You’re so mean. That hurt!”
Zoe entered the restaurant and completely ignored everything that didn’t seem normal. And boy, there was a lot.
The couple next to the window had two dark fairies on the table. Probably that was why they weren’t feeling well. They messed with their food. The man in business suit and his associates were fighting over some stupid football game. They had Liars around them. The Liars were some tiny and theoretically harmless demons. They weren’t a danger for human kind; they were just annoying.
Dark mist was all around the restaurant and she hadn’t seen even one clean person.
Zoe sighed and sat at the table in the far corner. She couldn’t see what was happening in the restaurant but she could see into the kitchen. That was better. Demons weren’t really fond of human food, finding it unattractive and overestimated.
She chose to eat pizza that day. It was better than the raw meat given by different acquaintances. What was supposed to be a present could easily get her towards death; like unprepared snake meat.
“Shouldn’t you help these people? They’re being tormented.” The grumpy ghost appeared in front of her.
Zoe sighed heavily.
One ghost that found it vital to act like a teacher was Andrew. He died young. He was probably in his early twenties when one of his colleagues pushed him down the stairs. What was supposed to be an innocent joke transformed into murder. However, Andy wasn’t a vengeful person. He was quite a nice kid but he had that evil glint of the other side. He didn’t want to leave and move on because as he said, he wanted to keep a close eye on this particular boy. She didn’t dare ask more but she noticed just how much Andy missed that guy.
He was in his first year of college when he died. It’s been two years already. Andy was majoring in Music and that boy was in Contemporary Dance. It was quite the story and Andy used to tell it every chance he got.
“You should do something. Don’t you know a spell or something?” He continued.
Zoe raised an eyebrow and leaned against her chair.
“No. I learned that some things are natural. You can’t fight the usual evil; you have to let people fight in order to realize just how much they care for each other.”
Andy leaned back in order to see the business men.
“I don’t think that applies to them.” He pointed at the group and shook his head in disappointment.
Zoe shrugged innocently. She wasn’t allowed to create a better future. She could see the evil behind everything but she had to obey some rules.
“Who invented those rules anyway? If you can see it, you can react and do something against it.”
“Never interfere, never involve the innocent and never react against the wishes of a human who has given his soul in the hands of darkness; three rules that tie my hands altogether,” She mumbled, leaning back and watching the waiters being followed by what looked like playful little spirits around the height of a dwarf who could morph into anything they wanted; Scaries they were called because most of them were lurking in the shadow of humans, making them feel watched.
“You have a mouth and can use it to warn them if what they see is dangerous or not. The rules don’t say anything about helping people who need closure,” Andy continued, his lifeless eyes staring at her intensely.
“That doesn’t concern me,” She responded, smiling when the waiter glanced at her.
“Of course not. I forgot that you are that kind of ignorant, selfish young woman who wastes her life on drawing a cartoon,”
“Strange because I know this college boy who stayed on Earth after he died. Even stranger is the reason he did it,” She stared at him with her big blue eyes, “You have been nagging me for two years about helping ghosts and every time I give you a negative answer you start rambling about that boy you liked so much. Who do you want me to help? Others or you?” She felt the table vibrate.
Andy narrowed his owlish eyes at her and scoffed.
“You’re such an inconsiderate woman. How did you make it so far?” 
She leaned her head on her left hand and glanced at the kitchen door, already used to making his voice part of the background noise.
Andy continued his rant but Zoe blocked his voice out. She noticed something dark lurking around the door. It looked like it was waiting for a chance to strike. It wasn’t a fairy or a Liar. It felt like hatred. That demon wasn’t playing around, he was targeting someone. That wasn’t usually happening.
“Are you listening to me?”
She wasn’t. The hatred became more accentuated and the demon noticed her. He chuckled and crawled inside the kitchen. Zoe got up quickly and walked towards the door. She stumbled inside the kitchen with nothing but a gut feeling. She succeeded in sneaking around the refrigerator and the oven. She saw the mist going deeper into the room, to a guy who looked like he was pretty much in charge there; probably the head chef.
“One more step,” She needed only one more piece of luck and she didn’t get it.
“Excuse me miss, but why are you walking around on your knees? And how did you get so far into the kitchen?” She jumped on her feet and ran out of there. She actually ran out of the restaurant too because she couldn’t risk staying there and eating like nothing happened.

“Great. Today’s lunch is supermarket ramen again. Don’t I have a joyful life?” Andy rolled his eyes and disappeared. “Yes. Thanks for fading away now when I need a companion, Andrew!” Zoe complained before she sighed and entered the closest supermarket.
She was looking through the shelves when she noticed a pair of shoes that didn’t look at all normal. They were expensive Oxfords, having a certain detail along the side in the shape of an elongated ouroboros.
“Did you come to check on me or torment me, Mehrdir?”
The tall demon chuckled and followed her. She was desperately trying to find something easy to cook. She was sick of supermarket food, moreover ramen.
“No matter how much I’d love to see you trip and fall over a bag of chips or how much fun would be if you’d actually fall over the shelf of drinks-” He chuckled bemusedly at his own plan. He could already picture it. She would be embarrassed and never enter that supermarket ever again. “Anyway, I can’t. I’m here to check up on you.”
“How so?” She was careful not to speak loudly in places where people could look at her. It was suspicious to see a woman talking to herself. That was why she bought a portable USB phone. Too bad she forgot it in her new apartment.
“Maybe you don’t understand because you’re stupid and oblivious to the world around you,” Mehrdir was starting on the wrong tone which only made her narrow her eyes at him. “But there are dark forces leaking into this world. The gap is supposedly small; like a handprint. But I heard Liars aren’t the only demons getting out.” He finished.
However, Zoe already got used to him and the way everything was a threat in his point of view. She grabbed a pack of frozen French fries and sighed.
“Let me remind you that you are a demon too. How did you crawl through that little hole anyway?” Zoe was only joking but he scoffed and appeared closer to her.
“Look, don’t compare me to low lives. I’m a medium-“
“Medium F greed demon. Yes, yes. You’ve been repeating that into my ears for two years already.” She was ready to enter another parlor when he grabbed her hand and stopped her.
“Pay attention, Zoe. You know very well that everything you see is not what it seems. Demons are not ghosts. That little Andy friend of yours is just a child. He can’t help you against something powerful.”
“And what do you want me to do?”
He smirked evilly, his eyes becoming smaller when he was trying to look intimidating.
“Make friends in high places.” He disappeared right after he gave his words of wisdom.
She blinked in confusion. Since Mehrdir was known to be a tricky demon, she just pushed his advice into the back of her mind. Zoe didn’t need that now. She had her own problems to solve.

Zoe was calmly walking towards the counter when she felt a sudden chill down her spine. She ignored it and that was a big mistake. She saw a bag of chips on the ground and chuckled, jumping over it while shaking her head. That demon wasn’t going to trick her again.
She was in the line and had two more people in front of her. Zoe couldn’t wait to get out and go home; she had to finish her work and give it to her editor. Unfortunately, while she was busy thinking about her next chapter, she didn’t see the child that ran past her. She jumped in surprise and lost her balance, trying to lean against the counter for support but a gust of wind threw her over the little shelf with drinks. The staff crowded around her and each tried to help her up. Through their alarmed voices she could hear a low voice laughing.
“Stupid demon,” She mumbled, getting up on her own, shrugging off the helping hands surrounding her.

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