A Necrodancer’s Neverending Nightmare
In my world, there are two types of Magick: Pretty and Untouchable.
We all love Pretty Magicians: the wand-wielders, elementals, all those flashy hat-and-rabbit folks.
Then there's my kind. We're the horror movie villains, the Satan-worshippers, the freak shows. If you're looking specifically at my mixed heritage, you might call me a Voodoo queen or plain witch.
My parents had known that I would be born with their same abilities, and tried their best to hide them. I avoided hanging around graveyards and abandoned buildings, ignored roadkill and weakening souls, and concealed the rusty nails and ragdolls. Whenever I did use my powers, I made sure I was alone or, if anything, around small children. Kids tend to tolerate us Uglies better than adults do.
That brings us to my personalized news headline, the thing that got me running from both the feds and feuding family: Teenage Girl, Class-A Necromancer, Saves Drowned Boy.
To be fair, I didn't save the kid. Oh no, he was long gone by the time I went rushing to the riverbank. His parents were attempting CPR on his little frame, but all they had succeeded in was breaking two of his ribs and making things worse. I don't usually trust anyone with keeping my secret, but that day, I was feeling heroic and made the mistake of showing them my power.
If you ask me, I'm more of a Necrodancer than a mancer. It caused quite the scene when I, some punk high schooler, did a little jig around a dead boy's body, pouring salt and gold dust along the way into the shallow stream. I had taken my shoes off to sense the pulse of the earth beneath me, but probably should have taken the freezing water into account. After forming a vaguely-shaped circle around him, I stuck a razor in one palm and clapped my hands together, letting a little of my blood drop onto his paled forehead. I'm not religious, but from the view of the crowd, it must have looked like I was praying.
At this point, someone had taken out their phone and a bystander who I had thought to be an ordinary police officer was approaching. Luckily, the kid was already beginning to move. I opened my eyes to find his also fluttering, and soon enough, he was crouched over, coughing up water.
I had stepped back to let his mom and dad take over when I bumped into someone. That someone had a pair of handcuffs on my wrists in no time, and sure enough, it was the special government agent I had mistaken for a cop.
Let's skip over the ride in the backseat and awkward conversation with my parents, to my meeting at the Pentagon. The nameless generals I had to talk to described "Project Second Chance", an initiative involving me and other scouted Necros reviving fallen soldiers on the battlefield to make drafting new people become obsalete. Each word that came from their dry mouths was a poke at my Magically-exhausted brain, and it became very clear that this plan would just make me another expendable, sold soul for them to exploit.
I kept my right to remain silent until the very end. I didn't want them to pry me for details regarding my Magick, and I really didn't want them prying for information about my family. I stayed quiet as they assumed that I would love dancing around shot-up, mangled corpses. That it would also be nice for me to "reconnect" with a culture they despised. That I wouldn't question the ethics or safety of any of this.
"If you agree to be recruited, the handcuffs can come off." Yet another old white dude talking to me. "We would greatly appreciate your abilities on our team."
"No." One word and an awkward silence. I narrowed my eyes at his graying hair.
"Take her away-"
"No!" The same word, louder.
And with the fall of my chair and the pull of a door, I was out of there.
Wondering what happened to the handcuffs? I rarely rely on them, but that day I had seeked help from a spirit; specifically, a random Russian spy who had been killed in that same interrogation room.
I knew that my parents knew what was going on through even Facebook's news sources, so I didn't go home. I didn't even text anyone from school, not wanting to deal with their impressions of my Magick from, say, The Skeleton Key or The Serpent and the Rainbow. I already don't have many acquaintances here, having just moved to DC from what was current destination, Austin. There, my childhood best friend Jackie was waiting, and I knew she would be the only one to understand everything.
Why? Because when my powers were outed back there and we were forced to move out to escape the ignorant, Pretty Wizard locals, she was the only one who didn't insult or threaten me at school.
Longer story short: What began as a simple runaway became a national manhunt, and after hitchhiking with some Warlocks (another type of Untouchable), I was found on the Louisiana border.
But not by the feds or local sheriffs.
They call themselves Les Filles de (Marie) Laveau, and I knew they were legit Voodoo practitioners because their leader is my older cousin, Zelie Alarie.
"Brigitte, is that you? It is! Yes, we've heard what happened, and are glad you've come back here to continue the family business!"
The 'family business' referred to Les Filles's hold on the city of New Orleans, their questionable methods of giving special offerings to the spirits that controlled the land.
Of course, I didn't want to join them either. I didn't want to raise an army of the undead, but I also didn't want to gurantee eternal suffering to oblivious tourists. Zelie and my Southern side of the family are the ones I avoid at family reunions because of how they claim that the other side has "tainted" my Necromancer blood, and this case was no different.
They're all powerful Magicians, but they weren't able to make a doll or drag me into a salt circle, because I could run faster than them. I was across the street before they could unroll the thick sleeves of their black cloaks and grab my hair or take out gold vials.
What? Dancing means stamina and flexibility, and my traumatic years of ballet and PE have prepared me for these kinds of situations.
"Wait, Brig! Please!" Zelie nearly tripped on her cloak a few times as she chased after me. "It's not safe for you out there!"
I should have just stayed with the demon sugar babies, I thought back to the college-aged Warlock couple, Will and Wyatt. They were really nice and willing to keep quiet about me but, as usual, I made a point that I didn't want to bother them for long.
"It's not safe here eith-" I started to yell back, but suddenly, something was constricting my throat.
Since my eyes need to adjust to see them, I had completely forgotten about the fifty ghosts all around us near the square. It felt like forever before I could breathe in the night air again, when my cousin caught up and gestured for the tormented soul to stop.
"That's enough, Jimmy."
The translucent spirit, a man with sad eyes and a glowing gash down his neck, stepped back.
I only heard Zelie's heels click in a crescendo on the cracked pavement, my back turned on her. "Look at me, Brigitte," she said.
Growing up around other Magicians has made me aware of their tricks. This one, which required eye contact between the Mage and victim, I dubbed "Medusa". For Necromancers, it could mean the stop of a hearbeat or possession from a nearby spirit.
I heard her sigh and the other Filles mumble to themselves. Then, a thin hand reaching out to move my hair behind my ear. Trick #2, Sample Collection. Hair can be used for Voodoo, Alchemy, and a number of other DNA-based Magicks. With the swipe of my head, I ducked out from under her arm and kept my eyes on her sleeves.
"I know you do not trust us," Zelie's voice became calm, almost hypnotic. I made sure to watch out for Trick #3, Mind Control. "but you have to recognize that we are the lesser of the two evils here. Do you think the leaders of this country care about us, want anything to do with our 'taboo' Magick? We are connected by our blood, while they only lust for it. You have no one else to go to, so now is the time to come back to your roots."
I dared to glance up again, instead meeting the eyes of the other Filles. Most looked like us: coily black hair, dark skin, brown eyes that could turn from warm and welcoming to cold obsidian in seconds. And whether we liked it or not, we could all squint and see our own kaleidoscope souls and monochrome ghosts filling the air around us.
"Fine." I finally nodded to her. "I'll spend the night, but you can't make me stay her forever. This is where I'm from, but it isn't where I belong."
But where do I really belong? Back home in DC with mom and dad, or back in Austin with Jackie and her own family? Maybe things won't be that bad here...
I'm still figuring out how to deal with my identity and how my powers are now known to both of my worlds, but at the moment, I have something I'm sure of:
My cousin/cult leader just winked at the lights illuminating the street, and they all winked back at her.
"What?" She saw my widened eyes. "This city comes alive at night. Come on, let's go before it gets hungry again."
Oh yeah, I almost forgot that they enchanted all of New Orleans and gave it a taste for human flesh. I guess it could be worse though. Right?