Opening to: Welcome to the Demon’s Masquerade

I don’t think I fully understood just how different I was until I started going to school. It was my intellect that started most of the discomfort it seemed. See, I was fine getting the weird looks from the adults I’d known as a toddler because logically, the age gap makes information transfers rather difficult to be taken seriously. Without contact to other kids, I wasn’t aware observations like that were nearly impossible for children my age to make.

Psycho-analysing my parents and their friends had been nearly mundane to me by the time I could walk, though. Hell, I did it to my mother the morning of that first day of school. I had gazed into her eyes and noted the fear and shame which always surfaced when she had to take me through the public at her side. I decided to therefore let her off the hook for today and told her I could get myself to the school and get organized in my classroom without her. She was so relieved she sobbed into her coffee. I just smiled at her, grabbed my backpack and silently left.

                I think I was supposed to cry too, but I never did. I understood I was not the child she had hoped for. She’d told her friends many times while I was in the other room how she would have aborted the baby had she known it would be ‘one of the cursed’. I never did ask her what that was. I found out soon enough anyways.

                No one paid me any mind when I entered the school amongst the crowd of other children. I had kept my unnaturally white hair cut short and tucked into a hat for as long as I could remember. People were always so uncomfortable by it as well as my bright yellow and green eyes so I tried to keep those features out of sight if I could. When I found my classroom, I finally took the red toque off and my black hoodie, setting them in a cubby at the back of the room before turning around to face the gathered crowd of children and parents.

All sound in the immediate vicinity ceased and every pair of eyes watched me closely. There was a mixture of fear and disgust cascading the room. Two girls started to visibly shake and a man standing next to his son walked towards me unflinching, dripping with rage. I stared up at him, curious at his body language before smiling a greeting.

He back handed me; the impact throwing my small body to the ground. There was a collective gasp from the inhabitants of the room while the man grabbed his son and walked out, muttering about abominations and curses.

Another moment when I was required to react in tears, but the sting in my cheek seemed to scare away that liquid, even as it already begun to fade into pleasant warmth.

There was a girl with long, black hair that carefully made her way over to me with a deep frown on her face. The teacher at the front of the room was frantically saying something to the other parents, assuring them that I was genuinely harmless at this age. It occurred to me through this strange exchange that they were all afraid of what I might do now. Adults were rather absurd it seemed.

The girl held out her hand to lend me assistance, but I frowned at the gesture before rising to my feet on my own. I looked around, taking in the scared and angry faces staring right back in a poisonous silence.  They flinched when I finally smiled at the gathered crowd. I slowly reached out to pull back the chair in front of me at a desk in the back of the room and seated myself. No one moved. No one dared even to breathe.

The bell rang and I watched every person before me visibly flinch at the sound.

Finally, I spoke. “I think I should know what crime I’ve committed if we want to get passed this staring and onto our education.”

Again there came the confusion I grew accustomed to. I am too intelligent to be this young. It scared them ever more.

Before anyone could speak, there was a voice over the intercom calling my name and another’s, instructing us to come straight to the office. They all watched me leave the room. I sucked in a painful breath once I found myself alone within the hall. I stood for a brief moment before making my way.

When I arrived there was a plump, elderly man with greying hair waving me into a smaller room at the back of the school’s office. Within the room, he seated himself in front of two chairs and motioned me to take one. Moments later, a boy walked in with anger written across his face. He plunked himself next to me, shifted his seat farther away and clutched at his wrist. There was blood on his knuckles.

I learned two things that day.

First; I had a powerful connection to the boy with the bloody knuckles and anger problems.

Second; We were an abomination to nature that brings destruction throughout every generation.

The principal was a member of a supreme council that moved to the city shortly after we were born. His name was Vance Rostyle and he was given this position to watch over us while we grew; making sure that we were not only safe from the hatred of fellow classmates, but to also monitor that they were still safe from us. After he gave us his introduction, he proceeded to answer the questions I’ve had ever since I could understand the comments of the adults around us.

I housed within my mortal soul the life essence of a powerful deity named after her element, Light. The boy whose identity was not immediately shared was the mortal shell to Her divine soul mate and lover, the deity known as Darkness. Light and Darkness were the creators of life itself and the world around us. The man told us that the Creators had grown weary with their work and hid themselves within human souls; creating an unbalanced and chaotic world. We were the result of selfish gods and because of that, many people wanted the twins punished. This was why my mother was ashamed of me and why that man slapped me and my classmates were terrified. We were the twins of destruction.

Yet there was a darker edge to the story. The principal informed us that this would be the only time we would be together. The twins must be kept apart until our powers fully mature when we’re sixteen and then the boy would die by my hand. The boy had glared at me when we heard this and I immediately began protesting. Not only did I have no grudge against this stranger, but I was not going to become a murderer over superstition. These people were insane!

“It is not murder if you’re not human.” The phrase became a torturous mantra that excused any vile act that was performed upon us after that.

Due to the heavy burden of our future, friendship was out of the question. The council had to ensure that nothing could sway me from ending the boy’s life or there would never be a breath of peace between us and the next generation of twins. We were in different classes in school and lived on opposite sides of town. Our families would alternate attending to town wide functions. Any time we chanced upon each other, our peers were whispering terrible things of the other to ensure our hatred would grow. I watched the boy suffer at the hands of both adults and children our age or older, singled out for being the ‘Dark Twin’ and blamed for the existence of evil. We were just kids. How could we earn so much hatred before we ever had a chance to act?

I fell into myself immediately. I would cry for the boy and would lash out at my own abusers in school. My mother very quickly shifted gears from sobbing at the thought of giving birth to a monster to pretending I was the greatest joy of her life. I represented Light and people seemed to think they could be blessed by my existence alone. The collective cult mind of this world was sickening and I grew weary of human interaction within my first three months of grade one.

The dark haired girl that had offered assistance on the first day of school tried to befriend me in the beginning weeks of the school year and I did appreciate her efforts to be genuinely kind. I knew she was a smart little one and didn’t listen to her parents like the other kids. But I wasn’t going to let anyone into the hurricane of rage that I faced on a daily basis for fear the debris would wound them. She quickly stopped offering her chocolates that she’d pack into her lunch and didn’t offer to lend another hand when I would be pushed down. I was glad for this. It was hard enough taking care of myself as a weak child, I didn’t want the responsibility of protecting allies on top of that.

Only once had I fought back on the school grounds. Three girls had pinned me down and smeared mud in my face. My silver hair was being ripped from my scalp in handfuls and instead of crying, I let out a horrific scream. Someone was kicking my legs and another foot collided with my face. There was a white flash and they were thrown back while I scrambled to my feet, immediately tackling the first girl in my vision. Light continued to flash when my fists met her face and a warm pulse was shooting down my arm with each blow. I didn’t stop until a black thread caught my wrist and yanked me back. The girls ran away and I stood staring at the boy with the dark hair and changing eyes. He frowned at me and walked away.

His name was Kaige. The dark twin had been called to the office enough times within those first months that the kids would flip a coin every time the intercom cut in and bet on if his name would be heard. Eventually, I stopped seeing him on the playground at recess and further investigations found him hiding within the library. He’d been more than happy to avoid me after that day in the office together, but I was worried about him and wouldn’t stray too far when I had the chance to watch over him. I felt as if I owed him that much, seeing as he received the brunt of our shared hatred and was supposed to have his life cut short in the coming future. He never spoke to me when we would pass each other, but part of me felt he knew I was watching him. If he was aware, he never did say anything.

 

It wasn’t until the summer after that first grade ended and we were about seven years old when we realized that our minds, hearts and souls were linked to each other. The discovery came when an accident almost killed us both. A car and a semi truck had a tangle in the road and I had been in the wrong place at the severely wrong time.

I hadn’t realized there was an accident until there was sharp pain spiking through my stomach. My fingers instantly clutched at the anguish and warmth spread over them in a thin syrup that shot a spike of fear up my spine. Bitter fire licked at the edges of what I glanced down to see were shards of glass being swallowed into my belly. Where did that come from? I pondered as my eyes lifted to the right where movement caught the edge of my vision and the sudden silence that had engulfed me suddenly shattered. A shrill metallic ring pierced my ears and shot directly through my throbbing skull. There was a mess of metal and silhouettes of strangely knotted bodies with their limbs rotated all wrong and blood splattered across glass and pavement. There were screaming voices all around me making these desperate chaotic cries that moulded together to form one horrible demonic growl that roared in my ears.

The pain spiking through my head blinded me and blood still screamed from the gaping wounds torn into my stomach. My legs gave and suddenly the harsh cement was rushing up to greet my knees. I hadn’t realized what had caused the buckling in my legs until fire shot up from the top of my stomach, slicing through the middle of my chest and wound up my neck to end just below my right ear. Blackness took over before I could investigate the new torment and I was consumed by bleak nothingness.

When I woke again, I was in the hospital and the Dark twin was sitting in a chair against the wall beside my bed. His head was bowed and he was holding my hand. I wanted to recoil from his touch; I was sure he hated me after all. Yet strangely, I felt comforted by his hold. Plus, I was wrapped from my neck to my waist in medical gauze which limited any movements. I allowed my fingers to slowly curl around his, hesitating at this foreign feeling of acceptance. His eyes rose when he felt the movement and he held my yellow gaze steadily.

During the following awkward silence, I realized I was waiting for him to say something. I didn’t want to upset him or lose this strange moment where we could almost be mistaken for friends. If he said something first, then I’d know that my communication would be accepted. My neck began to throb and I hung my head, sucking in a deep, shaking breath that stung in my throat. He still wasn’t speaking.

When I glanced up again, I studied him carefully while he remained quietly watching me. He had these strange eyes which shifted colors from gold to violet on to baby blue and then black before returning full circle back to gold. These changing colors were outlined in a ring of silver and the whites surrounding them were blood shot. His skin was slick with a sheet of sweat and its usually tanned color seemed washed out; pale and sickly. Something was very much wrong with him. He looked sick and exhausted.

“They didn’t know if you’d live through the night,” was the first thing he had ever said to me. “You look like crap,” was the second.

I narrowed my eyes at him and can remember thinking, of course I look like crap, apparently I almost died! I opened my mouth to speak these very words, but I was greeted with pain that shot from my throat up into my skull and the only sound I could make were harsh, scratching exhales. A shot of fear spiked through me as I wondered why I couldn’t make a single sound. My throat felt raw and sore as if I’d swallowed nails. He moved closer to me, resting his elbows on the bed beside me and putting his free hand around the one that was still holding mine. He was now clearly concerned.

“Don’t try to speak. There’s a lot of damage in your throat from the metal that hit you,” he said softly.

I cast him a confused look, but still listened and stopped trying to speak. I frowned, though and wondered: what is he talking about? What metal? What the hell happened? He smiled suddenly and his eyes were the color of a summer sky without a single cloud to be seen. My heart jumped involuntarily.

“When the car collided with the semi, there were chunks of metal that went flying and one of them struck you in the abdomen, cut up your chest and just about sliced through your neck.”

His answer to my unspoken question came with a touch of amusement and I froze all over, staring at him with a spark of fear and a strong curiosity. Did you just read my mind? I thought, experimentally while the fear grew with each passing second. He nodded slowly, expression turning to stone.

“The only reason that you survived was because I wouldn’t let the Connection break. Neither of us can die without severing it between us, so I held onto you through it until they were able to stop the bleeding and stitch you up. They have never known this, but we’re connected by body, mind and soul. I can hear your thoughts and feel your pain with you. We are soul bound,” he explained with a warm tone that washed over my cold skin.

We can feel what the other feels… I wondered if that meant that he was hurt too from what happened to me. It would certainly explain why he appeared so run down. Then again, to hold onto a person’s life with only the strength of your mind must be an incredible strain on both the mind and the body. I contemplated which one could have caused his state of being. I hoped he wouldn’t have felt the same excruciating pain that I had. It didn’t matter that I was supposed to consider the boy an enemy; I would never wish my torment upon someone so humble and kind.

He began to shake his head in answer to the thoughts he was reading from me when a nurse came into the room. She might have been pretty with the long blonde hair and the emerald green eyes, but her face had twisted into a look of horror as those eyes fell on my hand still clutched in both of his. We were not meant to interact as friends and images flashed in my mind of him being slapped and punished for the kind gesture. I quickly jerked my hand out of the hold of the Dark twin and let my long silver hair fall as a curtain between us.

Casting him a disapproving look, the nurse moved beside my bed and her face instantly shifted to one of faked concern when she regarded me. I bit the inside of my cheek to keep myself from rolling my eyes; the only thing that would actually be considered ‘bad news’ was if I was going to be perfectly fine.

“The x-rays of your throat came back and it appears that the damage done to your vocal chords is beyond our abilities to repair. I’m afraid you may never be able to speak again.” She spoke as if I was a child with a slow mind and pronounced each word in a rather condescending voice.

I wasn’t sure how she was expecting me to react. Was I supposed to start crying? Should this have scared me? Upset me somehow? She had paused to allow it to sink in and was looking at me with an expression open to a tantrum from me. In truth, I was rather indifferent. It’s not like I really had anyone to talk to anyways and I said few words when I would have to communicate. Mostly, I kept to myself; pulling away from any interaction that might end in pain. Now I could fade out of the spot light. Who would want to speak to someone incapable of responding?

A deep sadness overtook me, though. I would never be able to tell my parents that I loved them even as they blended with the smudge that was my peers; all the same slaves to fear. My baby sister would never hear my voice. What if someone lashed out again and physically attacked me? I would have no way to scream for help. As if anyone would save me anyways. Cutting pain shot through my chest; anxiety or rage, I pondered? A shutter skittered down my spine and my blood cooled to ice. Anything could happen and not a single soul would know until it was too late. Suddenly the choice of ignorance was taken away and replaced with silent stone. I suddenly felt I would be sick.

“I can be her voice,” came the boy next to me, much to my immediate surprise and possible horror. “As her soul twin, I can hear her thoughts. I can stay by her side and she can send her words through me.”

The nurse stared at him in silence for a long time. Our strange abilities were always believed, therefore this was her judgement not her confusion. She didn’t say anything and her eyes had turned to ice. When she finally left, it was a soundless and quick exit. I wondered absently if it was anger or fear which sent her away in such a hurry. I watched her go before slowly turning my head back to the boy, who appeared sad and distant. I could see it in the way he hung his head and his hand sought mine out again. I allowed him to take it and then pulled in a deep breath. Then another, allowing it to settle my rising nerves.

What’s your name?’ I sent to him cautiously.

His head lifted. A soft smile spread across his face and his eyes softened. They were now sparkling violet as if they captured a starry night just starting to give way to the morning sun.

“It’s Kaige. My name is Kaige Dark,” he said quietly.

I already knew this information, but I felt a strong swell within my chest that he trusted me and was willing to talk to me. His last name was also rather obvious; when our physical features betray our identity as the twins of the Creators, our name is changed to match the creator we represent. I tilted my head forward a little and gave him my name within my mind.

Mirabelle Light.’

His smile widened and his eyes were coal black. He was exuding warmth when he told me, “yeah, I know who you are.”

You’re my other half.’ It came to me as a whisper through my head like a light breeze had blown in behind my eyes with his gentle words caught in its grasp. His mouth hadn’t moved. I wished I could let out a girlish giggle by this point, but was immediately greeted by stark, defined pain.

They are all so very wrong.’ His voice returned, saddened and resigned. ‘The reason why you and I are followed by evil and calamity is because they won’t allow us to build our powers and learn together as one to bring balance back within the world. Light and Darkness are neither good nor evil, but if they are not working together they can only bring evil in their wake.

Now my thoughts came to join his as I sent, ‘How do you know all of this? Can we do that though? Actually work together? Can we get out of our fate in the coming years?

His smile immediately fell and sadness over took the golden color shifting into his iris. Before he could share his thoughts about my excited curiosity, the nurse came back to the room. With her was an old, stern looking woman stalking towards us with a face solidified with her stone expression. I instinctively shrunk away from her as she pulled up a chair and seated herself beside my bed. Kaige’s hand lightly rested upon the small of my back, my eyes widening at the contact.

Hey, it’s going to be alright. She can’t hurt us.’ He sent to me, a touch of amusement within his mental voice.

I gulped in a deep breath, straightened my back and held the fire of the sun within my yellow eyes. The woman pulled out a pair of glasses from her pocket, slipped them over her small, light blue eyes. Her skin was pale and deeply carved with wrinkles. She barely spared me a glance as I watched her. Her apathetic gaze fixed on Kaige and the hand he’d pressed against my back was digging tense fingertips into the bandaging over my flesh.  I locked my jaw to the dull throb that went through my abdomen at the pressure.

“So you claim you can hear the Light twin’s thoughts,” she stated in a cold, scratching voice. “Prove it.”

Defiant silence filled the space of the next few minutes and the woman sneered. “Yes, I thought as such. You truly are a stupid child. Just wanted to feel special, did you? Your twin almost dies but you need the spotlight. See, Darkness is not the important one and that is why the Dark twin always dies.”

Anger flared up inside of me, nearly choking me. How dare she say something like that! Light cannot survive without Darkness and vice versa. Even I knew that. And I was seven!

Tell her I think she’s ignorant and it makes her disgusting.’ I sent to him on a sharp exhale. The fingers on my back tapped my spine to acknowledge the thought.

“She says that you’re ignorance disgusts her.”

Now the silence came from the old woman, but it only lasted for a short moment. Her eyes turned to steel and a chill crept up my spine.

“Insulting me isn’t going to get you anywhere, Dark twin. It will only fuel the anger of not only myself but of the Council as well. Now shut your little mouth before you say something you won’t be able to take back.”

I sucked in a deep breath, quickly realizing the mistake in my haste and slowed down for another try. ‘Share this memory with her: when I was about five years old, my father had brought me to the Council with a concern for my health because I had panicked when we were in the store earlier that day and a crowd had gathered asking for Light’s blessing. I couldn’t breathe and I fainted. The Council called it a ‘panic attack’ and told him to keep me away from crowds for fear the next could trigger my power and hurt someone. There’s no way you could have known about this.

His finger tapped my spine again and he repeated my words aloud exactly as I sent them to him. Silence pounded in my ears and I struggled not to squirm now in its uncomfortable texture. The woman was staring at Kaige with an unreadable expression, the gears behind her eyes working hard to find a way that she could disprove his words. Finally, her eyes shifted to me.

“Don’t lie to me Light twin. Light does not lie. Is this true?”

I nodded slowly. The woman frowned in consideration. Her gaze moved between me and Kaige while no one breathed in the minutes leading to her reaction. We were but marble statues waiting for the pin to drop and send tiny sound waves that would shatter us into a thousand pieces. She let out a heavy sigh eventually before standing up.

“I will need to call both of your parents first and if they can agree to this, there will be a council meeting. We’ll see what can be done about allowing this to happen without letting you lose sight of your duty in nine years.”

She didn’t say another word after that and made a quick exit. The nurse followed close behind her, casting us a glare over her shoulder as she closed the door and then we were alone again.

Immediately after the click signaled the closed door cutting off unwanted company, there was an arm around my waist, turning me around so I could be engulfed in a tight embrace.

“I will let you kill me,” he whispered in my ear, voice slightly shaking. “Hell, I’d even help you do it if you can’t on your own. When the time comes, I will accept dying at your hand, but please let me bare your friendship in the mean time. I beg you!”

There it was again; the intelligence that surpassed our child sized lives. We never had the chance to be kids. At age seven, here we were talking about murder and acceptance of death. We’d been trained in duty all this time and met with only anger or fake love. Now I had the same boy I was going to kill in less than a decade held within my arms and begging me not to leave him to continue this nightmare alone.

Awkwardly, I let my arms come around the boy and turned my face into his shoulder while I reached out mentally with the answer.

Of course, Kaige, you can be my friend. We’ll be the best of friends and I promise I will protect you until the end. I will never let you suffer again.

He let out a strangled laugh as the words came to him and he pulled away. A smile held his lips tight and when the old woman came back into the room to tell us he would become my shadow, his hand was clasped in mine behind my back.

 

The rule was that once a week I was to hurt him in extreme ways with the Council observing so they could conclude that I would still be able to kill him when the time comes. I was to show no form of guilt or regret towards the wounds I would open on him and if I did, he would be punished. Within twenty-four hours of my promise in the hospital, they’d made me a liar. It split open my heart and left a deep scar that would never fade, yet Kaige was barely phased in the slightest by the treatment. It was just another way to be punished for being Darkness. The first time that they strung him up before me, he was smiling down at me as they put the knife in my hand.

Outside of that horrible day, Kaige was free to stay by my side as the close friend he’d become within moments of our first time truly speaking. He sat beside me in all of my classes. We attended all events together, and would bounce back forth between staying together at my house or his. He never left my side after that.

A lot of people were horrified and enraged by us and plenty more were becoming violent towards our friendship. I guess they figured that if they could punish us for being together then eventually they could scare us apart. It never seemed to occur to them that it was difficult to fear them when we already knew that they couldn’t kill us without being stuck within this increase of evil.

Still, there was a hidden thread of respect that we came to notice subtly appearing. Some people in the town were able to see how Light and Darkness began working together, watching the small changes that took place. Those who observed how people stopped dying off as often while others stopped killing. It was not a perfect balance like it would become with Kaige’s death, but we were trying to reach that goal before we made it to sixteen. We worked on understanding our power and the balance that we knew in our joined hearts we could reach so that I wouldn’t have to end his life. I did not want to live in a world that would guarantee my love would only bring betrayal and murder.

Our world took a drastic spiral downward as the years went on; draining our strength over time. Darkness began to crumble and the Light was going out. This is not a story that will bring you hope and heroism; it is a nightmare that humiliated and degraded two powerful beings until they were less than animals. This is a recollection of a journey through Hell that I never expected to survive. It was only at the hands of a stranger that the purity was saved, but the costs of that help proved to be higher than I could have anticipated. I get ahead of myself now, though. Let me start on a day when I was forced to torture my other half for what felt like the thousandth time. It was just a few days before our fourteenth birthday.

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