The Kaliyah Chronicles Part Two

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After I knew who I was, it became easier to please Mother. I was able to feel a certain empathy for her. That’s not quite right. It wasn’t empathy. It was pity. I pitied her, a normal woman who had simply wanted a baby girl; who wanted to have a real mother-daughter relationship. I felt I had let her down immensely, being an abnormal demon thing, unable to have normal emotions, unable to share with her those things that mothers and daughters shared. We didn’t get our nails done together. We didn’t talk about dating. We didn’t go shopping. We did not have shared Pinterest boards with purses on them.
I went to school, kept to myself, and got passing grades. I mowed the lawn. I helped Mother with the dishes and I learned her spaghetti sauce recipe, duplicating it to within acceptable parameters, I was told. Her smiles and hugs told me when I was doing well by her. I felt satisfaction when I earned them. I knew that I was assisting her to feel better. This was important to me.
As I went forward with a new understanding of my identity, I learned things about my capacities and powers. I learned that not only could I change my hair color; I could cast a glamour around myself which would cause me to appear the way prey wanted to see me. I learned this slowly and by happenstance, from the breathy, guttural comments my food made to me directly before they realized their doom. When I was very hungry, I would think, “I wish that the perfect prey would come to me.” In less than a few minutes, the child rapist would appear, lewdly commenting on my non-existent Catholic school girl uniform, or my ample bust or lack thereof, whatever he personally desired. Did he like pigtails on underage, innocent teens? My hair would suddenly part and go up in elastic bands. As I gained more and more experience, I could taste the flavor of the prey’s perversion, and knew the chalky taste of a baby goth grabber, or the metallic taste and smell of the “she seduced me” sicko, always over 50 and Caucasian. Apparently, I could even change race, as I learned once when one dinner warbled his “sweet Asian kitten” swan song. I remained, shall we say, well fed.
In my first year as a consumer of human predators, I managed to attract solitary prey. After all, it was easy to go out alone at night and attract an opportunist to assuage my hunger. But it was one day that I found myself in a different situation that I met the first person, other than my divine mother, who knew what I was. I was out hunting as usual. I was magnetizing myself to my lunch. I had gotten on a bus to go into the city of Anoka, MN. I found it was best to jump around. It made me nervous when the news crews noticed that too many local men from one place had disappeared. I rode the bus for around 45 minutes and disembarked on a cute little street with lots of bars and antique shops. I sat on an ornate bench. It was green with black, iron legs and arm rests. After about 10 minutes, a well-dressed man approached me. He smelled of expensive cologne. I couldn’t get a fix on his flavor, but he began telling me that I would make a wonderful model. He was a photographer, he said, very well-known, and asked if I wanted to see his portfolio. I said, “sure.” He pulled out a tablet and began swiping photos of girls and boys, all teens and tweens, in various surroundings. None was specifically “sexy,” but there was a sliminess to the energy of the pictures that I couldn’t quite place. I had felt my hair change to red right before he approached. He commented on how photogenic my white skin and bright red hair would be. He wanted to photograph me in a deep green dress, he said.
The man handed me a business card and told me to call or text any time. I said, “Is your studio around here? I have some time.” The man smiled and pointed across the street to a building next to a butcher shop. It looked abandoned. I asked about that. He assured me that his suite was in the basement. It allowed him to control the lighting for shoots, he said. I made my eyes big and nodded enthusiastically. We walked to the building and went down a rather dark stairwell. I began trying to consciously control my change as I felt the man’s excitement at getting me alone. I breathed slowly, calming myself.
We went through a large, heavy metal door, and what unfolded next was unexpected. I was standing in a beautifully appointed office, brightly lit and festooned with plants, artwork, and shiny marble floors. A crisply dressed lady in her 30’s was sitting at a reception desk, her Ray Bans were perched on her blonde head, holding back corkscrew curls. Dark red, matte lipstick, the kind that looks expensive, was meticulously applied to her perky smile. She chirped a greeting to us, calling the man “Mark,” and asked how he managed to meet such a beautiful model.
Mark laughed a friendly laugh and said, “Would you believe we met at a bus stop?” The lady practically sparkled and answered, “Like finding a Van Gogh at a garage sale!”
Mark led me through the office. It smelled like lavender and seemed to be much longer than it was wide, so it seemed “smaller from the outside.” We arrived at a photo set with special back drops and those weird umbrella-looking lights on stands that photographers always have. Several sets were arranged in front and back of one another, and I saw a boy who looked like a wrestler or a football player duck behind a screen, presumably to change clothing. Mark pointed to the middle set and invited me to go through a rack of size small dresses, asking which ones I liked. I looked through them and picked out a forest green strapless dress, plus another royal blue sequined ball gown. Mark looked pleased.
“What’s your name, dear?” Mark asked.
“I’m Katie,” I lied.
“Well, Katie, now you ARE 18 years old, and can sign a modeling contract, correct?” Mark nodded at me with an intense look. I gathered that I was supposed to agree that I was 18, so I did.
“Absolutely!” I smiled. “I just turned 18 last week, as a matter of fact!” I exuded my “barely legal” vibe with gusto.
Mark gave me a knowing look. He was well aware that I wasn’t 18. He said, “I’ll go get the contract, and you pop behind the screen right there and put on the green gown, OK?” I hauled the dresses over my arm and went behind the screen. I wondered exactly what was going on here. I mean, he was definitely under the table with his willingness to photograph a minor without parental consent. But there was more to it than that, I was sure.

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Kristin Barton

I'm a YA paranormal author who loves all things spooky!

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