India Ink

Everyone got 2012 wrong. It wasn't an ending--it was a beginning. The supernatural beings that lived in secret for thousands of years began to plan their first televised public outing. The world was about to be shown something that they could have never prepared for.

Johanna Rosas was one of those people. She would have never consciously chose to be apart of something so crazy. Her life was hectic enough. Between dealing with an abusive stepfather and caring for a mother who needed constant babysitting, she wasn't in any position to get involved. But after meeting a boy at a women's shelter one night after her mother was dealt a particularly bad beating, she didn't have a choice.

How will Johanna and the rest of the world react when everything they know is proven wrong?

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1. India Ink

It all started with a bottle of India Ink.

Maybe it was stupid. Normally I would gladly make fun of anyone who made a spontaneous decision to go to a craft store and purchase a bottle of Indian Ink to use on themselves. I would have mocked anyone who fashioned a tattoo needle out of a pencil, sewing thread, and a needle. And I definitely would have ridiculed someone who gave themselves a dodgy tattoo.

Maybe I was just yearning for something permanent in my life. When your life is a constant roller coaster, it's something that is desired. A tattoo would never slip, run, or jump off my skin. It was dependable.

A series of mistakes were my downfall. My first mistake was placing the tattoo on my wrist--a bold choice, I knew it from the start. My second was leaving my door unlocked. I was halfway through filling in the crescent moon that would be embedded in my wrist forever when my door flew open.

My step dad, Carl, stood there, flushed with intoxication. There was a fine layer of sweat across his forehead and black smudges covering his wife-beater. I could smell the whiskey from where I sat and I was sure that he could see the India Ink bottle.

"What the hell are you doing?" he said with malice. When he sneered like that, all I could see was the fusion of yellow and black matter on his teeth. My stomach churned.

I didn't answer. He stumbled over to me, grabbing my arm and tossing me to the side. I landed on the ground with a loud thud. He knocked the bottle of ink over, spilling it across my desk in an unattractive blob.

"Seriously?" I said through my teeth. Usually it was easy to keep my temper in check when he was going on his rampages but I couldn't control my tongue while surveying my ravaged desk. My room was the only place in this god awful house that I felt safe in and now he had ruined that too.

"Did you just talk back to me?" He shuffled his way over to me. I knew what was coming but that didn't make the imprint that he left on my cheek sting any less.

My mom came in then. I held my cheek so she wouldn't see the damage but she already knew. "Don't you ever touch my daughter again!" Her hair was up in a bun that had pieces sticking out every which way in a disheveled manner--adding to the chaotic atmosphere that was already suffocating me. She still wore her scrubs, even though her shift at the hospital ended four hours before.

Carl didn't say anything back. He made a monstrous noise and lunged for her, knocking her and his Jack Daniel's bottle to the ground while simultaneously drawing his fist back. The first punch bloodied her nose. "Mom!" I yelled, getting up to stop him.

He pushed me back onto the floor and went back to hitting her. I squeezed my fist shut so hard that I could feel my fingernails cutting into my skin. The pungent smell of spilled whiskey burned my nostrils as I screamed at him.

I wanted to do something but I was powerless. Anytime I came at him, I was either hit or pushed back down. Every time I called the cops, they didn't help at all. The most Carl had gotten was an overnight stay and the beating that he dealt when he got back home was worse than the one he'd gone to jail for.

Finally, after my hands were bleeding and my mom's face was nearly unrecognizable, Carl ceased his attack. He grabbed his spilled bottle of whiskey off the ground, swigged the miniscule amount that was left, and went to the door. "If I ever see you tattooing yourself again, you'll be leaving the house in a body bag." He threw the empty bottle on my floor and walked out.

After he was gone, I ran to my mom. Her nose and bottom lip were leaking blood. Almost the entire surface area of her face was inflamed--the first stages of a painful bruising. "How bad is it?" she said, her voice an uncomfortable rasp. All I could imagine was sandpaper rubbing together slowly. It made me cringe.

"S'not so bad. A few Band-Aids and you'll be fine," I said, forcing a smile to make her feel better. I pushed her ebony hair--same as mine--that had come out of the bun off her face.

She gave a shaky laugh. "Well, that puts me out of work for a few days..."

I could feel my cheeks flush with anger. He put her out of work again. "Mom, we've got to go to the shelter. I can't take this anymore."

She sat up, carefully touching her face to assess the damage. "I know, Johanna. Go grab some clothes, okay? We'll have to go out your window."

I did what she said while she stood up slowly. I grabbed two pairs of jeans and two t-shirts out of my closet. Since my mom had always been a toothpick, she fit into my clothes and we were often in the situation where we had to share. I put them in a duffel bag that I kept packed with toiletries and helped my mom out of my window.

I paused momentarily to narrow my eyes at the spilled ink on my desk once more before climbing out. My feet touched the ground immediately and I was thankful once again that my window was close to the earth.

I held my mom's hand as we walked to the women's shelter--a path that had become familiar to us both. The sun was starting to set, casting an orange glow and bathing the city in delicate warmth. I basked in it while I could, knowing it would begin to cool before long.

The streets around us were still alive. The bass thumped in a Subaru Impreza that drove by. I could smell the distinctive scent of weed and cigarettes in the air and down the street, I heard some kids running around in someone's yard. Close by there was still the constant noise of traffic, as there was at any given point in time in New York City.

We checked in the shelter just before dark and found that we would be rooming with a pregnant woman who had a baby. I cursed my step dad internally once more for taking away my precious sleep.

Almost immediately, the damn thing started crying. "Sorry," the woman muttered, trying to calm her wailing infant. As much as I felt badly for her, since her face was incredibly bruised and her belly was swollen with pregnancy, I had to get out of there.

"I'm going to go get a little fresh air," I said, leaving the room before my mother could argue that I had just gotten plenty on the walk to the shelter.

Once outside, I bent my leg behind me so I could lean against the building. The structure looked like a normal apartment building on the outside until you saw the battered residents within. I went to touch my cheek which had been quietly throbbing since I'd been hit when the little crescent moon on my wrist caught my eye.

I laughed at myself. How could I have been so stupid? Now I was stuck with a half-done crescent moon tattoo. It wasn't even subtle; the raven colored ink stood out, even against the bronze tone of my skin. The outline of it was hardly solid. There were spaces in between each dot that I had made and the filling was even worse--it looked like a speckled mess. Not even permanence treated me kindly. I took this as an omen that I was doomed to be unhappy forever.

I ran my thumb over the ink. Little dots of blood came to the surface while I winced at the tenderness. "Nice tattoo," I heard someone say.

I turned to see a guy coming out of the shelter. He pushed his too-long hair behind his ear and took his place on the other side of me. "It's not finished. I was interrupted," I said simply, already offended by his comment.

He flashed a smile, peering over at me without turning his face. His deep set eyes seemed tired. "I can tell. Let me guess, you got a bottle of ink and a needle and did it yourself? Those never turn out good. And if you did it with pen ink then you're probably going to d--"

"It was India Ink, thank you very much," I said, cutting him off. My fingernails found the broken skin of my palm again and I grimaced. "Not that it's any of your business."

"Guess not." He rubbed his chin absentmindedly.

"And in case you haven't noticed, this is a women's shelter. What were you even doing in there?"

Finally he turned his head to face me. His cheekbones were higher than I'd expected and his nose was narrow. "I was bringing my mom some food. She hates the stuff they make here. What are you doing here?"

"What do you think?"

"Abusive boyfriend?"

I sighed. The sky darkened more every second and the crescent moon in the sky reminded me of my stupid tattoo which prompted memories of my futile step dad. "I don't have a boyfriend."

He nodded his head. "Right."

"It's just a bad situation with my step dad... Things are always crazy." My eyes widened after I spoke. Why am I telling him this?

"I have some bad news. Things are about to get even crazier." His brown eyes grew mysterious--ominous even.

"What do you mean?" I put my sore hands in the pockets of my jeans, unconsciously leaning closer to hear his answer.

"Haven't you heard? It's 2012."

I laughed out loud. "You don't seriously believe that crap, do you?"

"You'd be surprised how believable the unbelievable is."

I narrowed my eyes at him. The scent of car oil wafted off his body. He probably worked in a garage just like Carl. The thought made my stomach churn in disgust. "Right. You know, I should probably get back inside. It's almost curfew."

I turned my back on him but I could feel his eyes boring into me. "You gonna tell me your name?" he called when I began to open the door.

"Johanna."

"Mine's Julian." 

I turned to take one last glance at him. The moonlight cast a silver halo over his black hair that made him appear celestial--otherworldly. I laughed under my breath. "Bye then, Julian. See you around."

I was certain that I wouldn't be seeing him around unless he frequented this particular shelter. Yet, I wasn't sure that I wanted to see him again. He left a weird feeling with me--like he was someone I didn't want to get mixed up with. And I've had enough roller coaster for a lifetime.

I was going to stay clear of Julian.

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