She looked at me with hope. With kindness.
She looked like an angel when I met her.
She tried to heal the brokenness in me. And I hated that. I hated her innocence.
Hated how she knew so little of her own family's doings.
So I showed her.
All it took was letting her see the darkness her father had made.
All it took was holding a gun to her head.
All it took was one bullet, and she knew.
But now she's back. And I want her now more than ever.
I was 8 years old when I met him.
A broken-looking boy, covered in blood.
A haunted look in his eyes, and unable to smile.
I watched him. Grew with him. Loved him.
And then, he killed me.
And now, I'm going to kill him.
If I don't, I might just lose myself to him, again.
12 years ago
Anya, age 8:
I laughed as I spun in the air, my father's deep chuckle filling the room with mine as he held me up and spun me in the air. The small music player in the corner played a classical song, one I didn't know but Papa loved to dance with me too.
Mama smiled as she sat on the couch, my little brother Alexei on her lap, and my sisters Olga and Maria spinning around together. Nickolai, one of Papa's friends, stood in the corner, his face looking blank like always.
Papa put me down and gently spun me away from him as the music slowed, bowing as if it were a real Royal ball as the music finally ended. I giggled and curtsied like I had been taught, and Papa pulled me into him, giving me a massive hug.
At that moment, the doors to the living room opened with a bang, and Papa quickly whirled around, pulling him behind me as Mama held Alexei tight to her. Olga and Maria ran and hid behind the couch. Two men came in, wearing black suits and shiny black leather shoes. Papa relaxed, the two men nodding at him.
"Anastasia, stay with your mother and your siblings. I will be back soon with your birthday present."
At the young age of eight, I never realized those words he said as he kissed my forehead, had sealed my fate for me.
Ras, age 12:
I winced at the screams filling the house. The sound of guns also filled the air, as my mother tried to run to the safe room. My arm was in my mother's grip, her hand bruising my flesh. The floors were hard to run on, slippery with the blood on the white marble. I didn't know why the house was being attacked. Only that Pa had screamed at mother to take me to the safe room after running into the living room.
I slipped on the floor, my arm falling out of Mother's grip as I landed on the tile. My hands, chest, legs, and face were soaked with the red liquid staining the floor. I felt my stomach clench and knew I was going to be sick.
But I didn't have time to think about being sick before Mother grabbed me again and dragged me to the crack in the wall, pressing her hand against it and sliding the hidden door open.
The safe room was small, only big enough for two people. There were no lights in it, and the darkness in the corners made me scared. Mother pushed me in before kissing my head, the blood on my face staining her lips. "Rasputin, you need to stay in here. Do not come out until it is safe!" Mother held my face in her hand, my own hands holding her wrist for dear life.
I didn't want her to leave. I wanted her to stay. I wanted to open my mouth and beg her to not leave me in this dark room alone. But before I could even open my mouth, or get the words stuck in my throat to form she started to close the door. The door was almost completely shut someone appeared behind Mother. They grabbed her, kicking and screaming, and dragged her away.
I hid in the corner of the room, as far from the door as possible. Curling into a ball, I held my legs close to my chest, shivering from the cooling blood on my skin and clothes. The only light left in the room was from the small crack where the door hadn't been fully shut.
I knew I was being a coward. Papa had always tried to teach me to be a man, to stand up and fight back. But there was this terror inside me, that I couldn't fight. It paralyzed me, even as I slowly heard the screams stop, and the gunfire ended.
A shadow crossed the light of the safe room, then stopped, drenching the room in blackness. The footsteps slowly rang closer, the sound seeming to echo in the closed space before they stopped just before the door.
I held my breath, closing my eyes and clenching my fists tight. I didn't know who was on the other side, but I didn't want to find out either. After a few moments of silence, the shadow moved away, my body instantly relaxing and a faint breath of relief escaping my lips.
Before I had time to even think about screaming, the door was swung open and a man in a black suit stepped into the room. He held a gun in his hand but hadn't seen me yet. I glared up at him, trying hard not to feel the fear that was coursing through my body.
You are not weak Rasputin. You will one day be one of the most powerful men in all of Russia. You must show you are not afraid of death.
My father's voice in my head had me standing up as quietly as possible and launching myself at the man. I was Rasputin Gregori. I would not cower in the face of death.
The man didn't see me until I was already around his back, my arms trying to go around his throat. I put all my strength into it, hoping it would be enough.
The fight was over before it even started. The next thing I knew, the man had thrown me over his shoulder and was standing over me, his foot planted on my chest.
"You're strong, kid. But not strong enough. What's your name?" The deep bass of his voice sent tremors of fear down my back. I'd heard this voice before. But I couldn't remember where at the moment.
"Name, kid. I ain't got all day and I'm not a very patient man." He glared down at me, and that was when I realized he was also covered in blood. His face had an almost demonic feel, and even though he was very much human, I felt like I was staring at a monster.
"R-Rasputin. My name is Rasputin." I hated how pathetic my voice sounded, as I stared up at him. His eyes stared into mine as I spoke, assessing me, watching me.
I was a bit stunned when he moved his foot off my chest, and instead reached down and helped me to my feet. "Come on kid. Let's get you out of this place."
He put his hand on the middle of my back, walking me forward and guiding me. I paused as I stepped out of the safe room, finally getting a proper look at the chaos that had happened in my home.
Bodies of men piled all over the floor. Blood covered the once pure white marble tiles like a carpet, staining the ground crimson. The pictures on the walls were destroyed, lying in pieces on the ground. The walls were splattered with blood and bullet holes, making a canvas of death and destruction.
The man behind me gently pushed against my back, startling me. He didn't wait and started pushing me to keep walking. I walked along with him, shock slowly taking over. To think only an hour ago I had been laughing with my Papa, with Mother working on her embroidery.
Now, everything was gone. I didn't know who had caused it, or if my parents were even alive. But suddenly, I desperately wanted to know who the man was and if he knew if my parents were alive.
"Sir...?" I said slowly. The man glanced at me with an eyebrow raised in question. "Who are you..? Are you the one who did this? O-or did you come to help my parents?"
The man turned away, looking contemplative. "I'm a friend." That was all he said, but I wanted to know more. "Where are Papa and Mother? Are they alive?"
The man sighed and stopped, turning to me. "I'm sorry kid, but your parents... they're not alive. I was too late to save them." His eyes held sadness and sincerity as he looked at me.
I stared up at him, wanting to cry. But the tears refused to even form. Slowly everything I felt inside shut down, my emotions turning into nothingness and numbness. "I want to see them." My voice sounded strange to my ears. Harder. Emptier. Stronger.
The man nodded and started walking to the living room that only an hour ago my family and I had been in. He slowly pushed the door open, walking in as if it had been his own home, and stood to the side. I slowly walked in, staring at the two bodies lying side by side, almost as if they were embracing each other in sleep.
My mother's black hair sprawled out around her, her eyes closed. Her skin was milky white, despite the tan complexion she usually tried to have. Her lips were still red, the blood on her lips from kissing me having stayed. Her arms clung to my father's body as if seeking protection.
My father's eyes were open, the irises already starting to go milky. They were blank, the usual spark of life they held having vanished. His skin was the same pale white as my mother's, his hand holding her wrist.
The only thing that kept me from believing they weren't pulling a prank, was the matching holes in their heads. Right above the eyebrows, in the middle of their foreheads, they each held one bullet hole.
The blood from the wounds was soaking the floor behind them, their heads surrounded by a halo of it. The sight of them both holding each other, even death, helped me feel a little at peace. Yet I still felt numb.
My stomach churning, I turned away and threw up into one of the fake plant vases, gripping the edge of the vase until my hands were white and numb.
Wiping my mouth, the man turned to me. "Do you have somewhere to go? Relatives? Distant cousins?" I shook my head and he stared at me for a bit, then nodded.
"You'll come to stay with me. I could use a strong boy like you around. My daughter needs someone to spend time with anyway." The man turned and started walking away, and I followed him, unsure of what he was talking about but not wanting to stay in the room any longer.
He opened the large double doors leading outside to the driveway, two men standing and waiting beside three black cars. "Come, Rasputin."
I didn't realize I had stopped at the stairs, staring at the cars. I glanced back at my house, feeling like it would be the last time I ever saw it before I turned and walked down the stairs.
"Dominic, this is Rasputin. He will be living with us from now on. Anya will need a new friend, and I want to make sure she is always safe. You will train him." The man who found me spoke to one of the men by the car, before sliding into it.
I paused again at the open door, but then set my shoulders, and slid into the car. I didn't pay much attention to the details of the car, my focus on the man sitting in the seat beside me.
"Sir... where are we going?" I watched him, seeing an emotion I hadn't expected this monster-man to have, flash across his face before going back to the cold blank mask.
"We are going to my home. You will be living with me and my family. My little girl, Anastasia, needs a friend."
"How old is she Sir?" I asked, curious despite myself.
I nodded and looked away, figuring it wouldn't be too hard to handle a six-year-old girl. I'd never had siblings, but I didn't think it would be difficult to be her friend.
"Your name is too uncommon. So you will go by Ras. If anyone asks your name, that is what you will answer. Am I understood?" The man looked at me, his eyes daring me to argue or disagree.
I nodded slowly, swallowing before I asked what I had been wanting to know since I met him.
"Sir.. what is your name?" I sounded soft. Pathetic. Weak.
"My name is Nicholas. Nicholas Romanov."