Author's Note: My Advent challenge to myself and I'm already a day behind! Hopefully that means I'm not too far behind to catch up. This story will be very "off-the-cuff" as it were, pretty much planned on a day to day basis – a chapter a day (aiming for 1000 words each) from November 29th to December 24th. (No beta, so errors are entirely my own.) Hopefully it flows and doesn't dip too terribly far into complete insanity, but… Wherever it goes, I hope you enjoy the ride. Wish me luck!
Call it fate.
Call it destiny.
Call it the universe having a good laugh at itself.
Call it whatever you want, but no one with even an ounce of sense can deny the reality of the threads. Most people do not see the threads, but everyone can see the bands around a person's wrist – thin black lines encircling the wrists, one for each individual who will be vital in the person's life. Most people have between one and six lines. Some might think that sounds low, but even the most extroverted of people will not truly bond at a soul deep level with more than a handful of folks. That type of bonding requires a level of trust and acceptance that most people just will not give.
Unlike some myths of old, these threads do not point a person towards lovers or spouses. Indeed, most of the threads tend to be platonic. This is not to say a person cannot find such connections in the threads, but the soulbonded are not limited in such a way.
People may be born with threads already attached, the black bands around a newborn's wrist reflecting the older soulmates already in the world. Other times a child must wait for the threads to form, connecting them with younger souls. New bands start with a lightening of the skin, the color bleaching out even as the new soul becomes accustomed to his or her body developing within the mother's womb. When the child is born, his or her connections will see their bleached band turn to black, letting them know their new soulmate has been born.
Threads can be broken only by death – and the black band will shift to gray.
These soulmarks turn iridescent when two soulmates meet for the first time. A slight tingling or stinging sensation signals the change. Philosophers have theorized that this prevents people from missing their chance to connect with their soulmate. Once the marks activate, the two individuals share a mental bond along which they can speak or express emotions. Sometimes the bonds run deeper and more can be exchanged – such as certain knacks or abilities – but that depends on the people involved.
Empaths and certain types of sensitives can see the threads. They have the ability to trace the threads from one person to another. In many cultures, such people have been revered and protected as messengers from a divine power; in others they have been hated and feared. So it has always been. Some believe the threads represent a repression of their individualism and they resent the bands, even to the point of repudiating their soulmates. Fortunately these seem to be rare. Most people find comfort in the marks, feeling a sense of serenity in knowing that others in the world will accept them for who they are, no matter what.
Once in a while a person is born who breaks the mold, a person destined to burn bright in the lives of many. These people have multiple soulmarks – even up to ten or more. They tend to become the focal point of a network of people, the center point of stability for a group destined to change the world. Rare as black opal, these individuals often become legends in their own time…with all the good and bad that comes with such attention.
They become the target of the curious, the needy, the desperate. Altruistic forces seek them out in hopes of helping to change the world. Darker forces want to destroy them in order to create anarchy and unrest. One way or another the people so marked will almost always find themselves at the center of activity sooner or later. They will have to rewrite the definition of 'normal'.
Darcy Lewis can attest to that.
Her mother kept her in long sleeves for as long as she could remember. According to her parents, they moved when she was a baby to protect her from the attention her soulmarks brought. The thin bands, maybe the width of a quarter, ran halfway up her arms. No one could recall someone with so many soulbonds before – at least, not outside of old legends. People talked. They gossiped and whispered about the baby girl with an abundance of bands waiting to be activated. When complete strangers started showing up on their doorsteps wanting to see the baby, her parents packed up and moved back to the family farm in the mountains of Virginia. Even there, surrounded and protected by kinfolk, she stayed in sweaters and sweatshirts, doing her best to remain low-key.
Then came college.
Darcy wanted to go to college, but she also wanted to remain close to the safety net of home. After several long talks with her parents and other family members, she chose Culver University in Willowsdale. Little did she realize that her choice would start the wheels of destiny and set her feet on the path woven by fate. When she looked back, it did seem predestined. And yet each choice was her own. No one forced her; no one chose for her. She made each choice of her own free will, but somehow she managed to choose the one path that brought her to this moment, where she found herself connected to so many unique, insane, and powerful individuals.
Maybe the universe really did have a sense of humor.
Maybe God had a plan for her.
As far as Darcy was concerned, the ancient curse 'May you live in interesting times' must have been written for her. If she ever found the person who cursed her – apparently from the womb? She would have to offer them her heartfelt thanks.
Right after she tazed them.