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Blood Ties

By Katie Matthias All Rights Reserved ©

Horror / Fantasy

PROLOGUE

NOVEMBER 23

11:21 P.M.

I was never afraid of the dark as a child. Even in my younger years when most of the kids I knew needed the aid of a nightlight to get to sleep, I’d go to bed bathed in total darkness. It wasn’t for lack of good parenting on my aunt’s and uncle’s part. Every night, after they’d tuck me in, Ramona and Costin would make sure to leave the door cracked ever-so-slightly. I think it soothed them, the knowledge that they wouldn’t have to waste that extra half a second to get to me should I call out to them in the middle of the night. But as soon as the sight of their shadows disappeared down the hall and the sound of their muffled footsteps on the carpet faded, I’d leap up out of my bed and close the door tight. Try as I might, I could never manage to sleep with even that thin, glowing sliver that shone like an eclipse around the jamb.

Ramona used to accuse me of hiding something from her. What she thought it was, I have no idea. I mean, what kind of trouble can a six year-old get into anyway? Okay, sure. I’ll admit it. I was a moody child. My temper tantrums were the stuff of legend, a result, Costin would tell her (with no small amount of pride) of the “hot blood” of my Roma ancestors yearning to make itself heard. But I was hardly hoarding drugs in my teddy bear. Not then, at any rate. The drugs came much later…

No, my nighttime proclivities had nothing to do with any secret I was keeping. Instead, my aversion to the light stemmed from the fact that I felt safe and secure in the knowledge that I held dear. There were no monsters under my bed, no boogeyman that could come and take me away. All the stories I heard about the things that go bump in the night were simply tales of make-believe, no more than fables spun from some adult’s overactive imagination – no doubt designed with the malicious intent of keeping his children firmly in check. I was only a child myself back then, but even at six I knew the difference between dreams and reality. Even the worst of my nightmares could never hurt me.

Too bad I had to grow up.

People say that hindsight is 20/20. I suppose that’s true. Had I known then what lay in store for my future, I would’ve taken the nightmares a little more seriously. I would’ve heeded your warnings all those weeks ago, when you told me to walk away but I said I needed the answers. I would’ve listened when you told me that this path I was on could only lead to pain and destruction.

The terrible irony is now, sitting here all alone in this blackened cell, waiting for the final seconds of my life to tick away, I’ve come to realize that it’s the one thing I used to take solace in that’s become the thing that has killed me. It’s only now, at the end, that I’m finally able see the truth.

I’ve always just been drawn to the darkness.

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