On June 6, 2006 a blood vessel in my brain broke open. With no place to go, the blood pressed into my brain tissue, destroying it. The pain struck me like a knife into my skull, and then I went blind but only on one side. Within minutes, I felt nothing on my left side. When the doctor asked me to squeeze her hand I couldn’t. By the time my brain stabilized, I had lost a ball of gray matter the size of a pencil eraser. I will have hallucinations, migraines, and a host of other issues for the rest of my life.
I’m grateful for the brain hemorrhage every day. While I’m glad I survived and thankful that I recovered so much functionality, the hemorrhage itself was a blessing that changed my life for the better in countless ways.
Almost immediately I gained a profound appreciation for life. I stopped focusing on the small insults and battles every day and celebrated the accomplishments, the triumphs. I told the people I loved I how I felt about them. I stopped giving my time to things that didn’t bring me joy. Realizing the clock was ticking, I began taking the time every day to write. I finished my first novel before a year had passed. That day changed my perspective; death became real, not a nebulous idea that might come someday. My dreams weren’t something to get eventually, but daily actions I insisted taking.
It’s not always easy to see the gift that comes with a crisis, but after almost ten years, I’m glad for all the things that came along thanks to the hole in my head.
Mallory Mors, death witch and detective with Baton Rouge’s Supernatural Investigative Unit, controls every aspect of death; she can even touch a dead body and know how it died. When she’s called to the scene of the city’s first zombie attack her magic leads her to a voodoo queen who claims to be controlled by werewolves. The Werewolf Protection League, a political organization fighting for werewolf rights, insists they have nothing to do with the killings. As the kidnappings and murders continue, everyone becomes a suspect. Aided by her boyfriend, a six hundred year old vampire, and all the supernatural citizens of her city, Mallory fights to close a case that may claim her life.
A thousand details flooded my mind. Her last thought had been about her grandchildren. My mind filled with images of fur and teeth, something large and rank. Her death had been terribly slow. Claws ripped into her skin, tearing her limbs apart. She hadn't been lucky enough to die from blood loss. A heart attack killed her. I wondered if she recognized the symptoms as she watched her attacker eat her limbs.
I moved from her body to the limb beside it. The leg was still wearing its white nurse's uniform. The knob of the joint looked polished in the morning sunlight. I put my hand on top of the cloth and a second surge of information flooded me. He ran from them, listening to the sounds of his coworker being torn apart. He had been a runner, but he hadn't been fast enough to outrun the thing that ripped him apart.
"Older female and middle aged male," I said to the technician. He supplied their names but I ignored them. My mind was still with them, still dying with them. I walked up to the tree. There was a thick stain six feet up on the trunk. I put my hand on top of the mark and saw the death of the man.
"What happened?" Danny asked quietly.
"It chased him down, grabbing his leg there," I pointed to where the limb remained. "It ripped the leg out, and then carried the rest of him back here. It lifted him up. It looked at him. Then it ate the heart out of his chest."
"Werewolf." The wolf had devoured his heart in front of him, just like in my nightmare.
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