Jamie Madrox(Multiple Man)

You know what they say; ‘You don’t know what you til it’s gone’. I think it was Cinderella who said it. Not the Disney princess but the 80’s hair band; one could live his or her life by following the many slogans and lyrics of the 80’s.

But I guess it’s true, the not really knowing what you got til it’s gone thing. It’s how I feel about my parents. For the first thirteen or so years of my life I thought my parents were this nuisance. I didn’t hate them or anything, not even close. I loved them but God, could they could be overbearing. You don’t know how much it hurts your street cred when you aren’t even allowed to cross the street. My parents would have liked if I lived in a big plastic bubble, heck I think they tried to put me in one once.

I guess it was understandable. Lucky for me(I say with irony) I was not born like other mutants. Most have to wait until the miracle of puberty for their powers to start, my powers came right at birth. With the first spank on my bottom my powers activated and I had myself a twin(a dupe). Boy were my parents surprised!

But they managed because if anyone knows how to roll with the punches it is the Madroxs. For the first few months of my life I was kept under careful observation at the hospital. I know the doctors wanted to present me to the world, baby mutant and all, but my parents refused to let me become some freak show for the norms to ‘uh and ah’ at. Yet they needed help, anytime I would bang my hand against something I would duplicate and I was pretty stupid baby, so I banged my head a lot. Sure the dupes would only be around for a few minutes before disappearing but still, how was I ever going to lead a normal life. They were freaked and had no clue what to do but then the Professor came and he made things alright. He told my parents that he could help control my powers. My parents thought the Professor was some sort of savior. He made me this suit which made it impossible for me to duplicate without some hard physical contact.

So that’s how it was for the next years, me in my suit getting on by. After that the only reasons I would duplicate was because I would fall down hard or run into walls(pesky walls!) but as I got older, it started to become pretty risky for me to go outside. If I fell, bumped into someone hard or anything of the sort I could risk exposure. So they keep me inside the house, safe and sound.

But the Professor was there for that too. For about eight years straight he would visit me every six months, adjust my suit, check my progress, have dinner with the family, but eventually he actually wanted to start training me in my powers. He told my parents all he wanted to do was teach me how to control the duplication process but he ended up teaching me ways for me to make me dupes last longer.
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Besides the whole multiplying thing my life were normal for a while, not really much to report in the way interesting. Eventually my suit came off and by the time I turned thirteen and after serious discussions with my parents they decided it might have been time for me to go a real school. My mom was not really for it but my dad was. Things were really looking up for old Jamie Madrox.

But of course when things go up that’s when they tend to fall down.

July 6th, 2001
Twin Lakes, New Mexico

It was a hot summer day in our small town in New Mexico. My parents and I were going to check out some nearby middle schools and decide which would be the best for me to go to come fall.

“I really do think he should wear his containment suit,” My mom said as we left our small, but cozy house, “Just under his clothes…”

“No worries dear,” my dad replied to her as he made his way to the driver seat of the 1985 piece of crap, Honda we owned, “Jamie will be fine.”

“Plus,” I added, “It’s hot as hell out. I can’t wear that freaking suit.”

“Jamie,” my mom frowned with disapproval as she got into the passenger.

“Sorry,” I said sliding into the backseat, “It’s hot as heck out. I can’t wear that gosh darn suit.”

My dad laughed as he started the car while my mom sighed in disapproval, a common sigh for her.

“I really don’t think we even need to check out this school,” I began as we pulled out of the driveway, “A private school? Come on, everyone knows Jamie Madrox is a man of the common people. I can’t just mingle with the upper crust all of a sudden and lose my every man status.”

“I have my qualms with sending you to a public school,” my mom replied, “All those hoodlums and trouble makers.”

“True the war with the Sharks and Jets have been heating up lately, though if there is any war I’m going to avoid it’s the one between the Socs and the Greaters,” I said in a very serious manner.

I saw my father smirk and I sit back proudly.

“This is one of the best schools in the state,” my mom went on.

“Yeah but its New Mexico,” I leaned forward and put my hand on the shoulder of the passenger seat, “We can have a ‘speak English good contest’ with freaking California and come in a close second.”

“Jamie,” my mom sighed in disapproval, “You are the one who wants go to school.”

“Yeah not a private school or worse,” I said my face contorting with disgust, “A prep school. I can’t wear school uniforms. It will hamper my individualistic style. Don’t you want me to be my own person and not just one of many!”

My mom sighed in disapproval as my dad stifled a laugh.

“I guess a school is a school,” I sighed leaning against the car door and looking out the window as we stopped at red light before a busy intersection, “I long to be part of a cliquish social system that I didn’t create. I’m tired of having lunch with myselves and rejecting one my dupes just to maintain my place in our social hierarchy.”

The light turned green.

My mom sighed in disapproval again before she turned back to me, “Put on your seatbelt Jamie, you know how dangerous it-”

Something plowed right into from the left. I had loud crashing sounds as the car jerked and spun towards the left. My head wiped right into the passenger side window. That’s when things start get murky. It all happened so fast. I remember a truck which came into the car from our right. It caused the car to fly back and I think it even flipped and twisted in the air. I remember banging the roof, the door, the car seat and then nothing.

Next thing I remembered were my eyes fluttering open and close, blood was dripping from my mouth. I couldn’t remember where I was or why I was now on the hot pavement. My whole body was searing with pain. I could hear sirens and the crackling of fire. Voices could be heard from all around but they sounded distant. I kept trying to keep my eyes open. I was moaning, trying to breath. My vision was a blur. I could see figures ahead of me but I couldn’t tell of what. I tried to focus, I tried to stay awake. I could feel the blood dripping from my forehead and I could even hear the blood hit the pavement.

The figure closest to me became more defined. It was a boy about my age, with my hair, my eyes and my face. It was me. His green eyes were looking at me horrified, his face was covered in blood and cuts. He was muttering something to himself and reaching out to me with his hand. I began to reach towards him but something made me stop.

It was me. So then who was I?

Jamie continued to put out his hand, reaching for me, looking horrified and desperate. I just kept telling myself I could not let him touch me. He could not touch me. I didn’t even know why. Why was I afraid? I was confused, I knew that. I didn’t know what was happening. But I just had this feeling that I couldn’t touch him but if I did…I’d be gone, just like a dupe. But who was the dupe? He or me?

Suddenly his hand fe;l to his side and his face became still. His eyes were open but they were lifeless. Jamie Madrox was dead. And with that everything went black.

Crystal Amaquelin
July 7th 2001
Outskirts of South Salem, New York

There is only so long a man can wait. Men are impatient, excitable and prideful. They see what they want, what they need and eventually they’ll try to get it. At least that’s what Serenity would say years later.

In my father’s case I guess impatience was the reason he could no longer wait for my powers to emerge. Yes I was X-Gene positive but that did not mean I would definitely become a mutant; at least not anytime soon. Some people could go years or even their wholes without activating their x-gene. And my father was not going to let that become me. He wanted my powers to emerge because he wanted to cure them but also, I think he wanted to know what half of his gene pool made. Was I a powerful mutant or would I be a weak one. I was a reflection of my father either way.

The day my father told me it was time (that was all he said, he didn’t need to say more) my stomach twisted in knots and I could barely contain my excitement. I remember sitting in my garden on a cold, gray day. My violets were finally blooming and I took that as a good sign of things to come. I say beside them, gently stroking their pedals as the cold wind brushed through my dark blond hairy.

I remember thinking that this would be the last time I would sit out here as a human, as a girl of flesh and blood and nothing else. When I came out again I would be someone else, someone different, someone special. My whole life I had seen my siblings become these others and I felt this deep jealousy. Though they might have been imperfections and failures, they were still more of a success than I was.

But now I was going to be the mutant. I was going to have powers and I was going to not be me anymore. When he looked at me, maybe he’d finally see someone worthy.

But sitting in my garden another thought had crept into my mind. I was going to be cured eventually. My father would find a cure, I knew he would. But what would become of me then? Would I become his pride and joy, his prize to show off to world or would I become just some ‘body’ to be sold, to be tested on and torn apart so the mutant cure could be massed produced. My father would say the former but I had my doubts.

When I called me into his lab I was surprised to see that everyone else was not present. I guess I was not going to get the Inhuman treatment, which made sense considering I was not one. As I moved towards the table I looked around the dark lab. I could hardly see anything but the table, which seemed to basked in a spotlight. It was like everything was engulfed in black except my father, the table, and I.

“Lay on the table,” my father said as he moved over to a tank beside the table. The Terrigan Mist tank, my father’s true greatest creation. They nectar of the Gods’ as he called it. This was how Max, Bart and Dusa got their powers, along with whatever my father did to them. I The mist was everything to this family, it literally kept most of us sane. Without a mist intake every week the mutated W-Gene, or what my father, sees as imperfect form of the X-Gene, would drive the three insane. The W-Gene was key to the mist. The W-Gene of course being what my father saw as the link between man and mutant, the step before the next step of evolution if you will. I was just not sure what it would to someone with an already active X-Gene and I was sort of afraid to find out.

I watched as my father moved into the darkness and bit my lip looking up at the dark ceiling. I was scared.. I was just thirteen years old, going to be fourteen in a few months. Though my father did not see it, I was still a child.

I heard a strange thud from above, followed by clink and clanking of what sounded like a wheel. My eyes narrowed in curiosity as I began to see something descend from the darkness. I felt hands touch my arm and looked to see my father by my side. I smiled at him but he did not return one to me and instead tied my right arm in straps. The clanking got louder and I turned my head.

My eyes widened in horror. Descending slowly from the ceiling was what looked like some strange device out of a bad science fiction movie. It looked some sort of gun. It was large and bulky, maybe twenty feet long and eighteen feet wide. It was a polished titanium and seemed to almost glow in the darkness. The tip of the gun was round and silver. I could see sparks of electricity coming from it.

“Father,” I breathlessly whimpered as he moved to my left arm and tied it tight, “What is that?”

“A necessary tool in awakening your X-Gene,” my father said his voice cold and emotionless, “Pain and stress has been proven the best way to activate the gene.”

A tear fell from my eyes as fear began to pour throughout my body, “I-I-I,” I tried to speak but couldn’t.

“The mist would be useless for you,” my father moved towards my feet and began strapping them in, “But I use this tool on the others and this helps awakens their power.”

“B-b-b-but,” I could hardly breathe, “There has to be another way.”

“No,” my father replied, “This is the best way. It will hurt tremendously.” I whimpered again and my father’s face suddenly got stern, “Do you not care about the advancement of this family? Do you care about the advancement of science.”

“I do,” I cried out, “I’m just scared.”

“That is good Crystal,” my father said he moved back into the darkness where I could not see him, “Fear is another emotion which might activate the gene.”

“Father,” I lifted my head up slightly and gave me straps a tug, “There has to be another way. There just has to be!” Tears began streaming from my face as the device began to make loud ‘crackling sounds. I was horrified. My heart was pounding in my chest and I felt sick to my stomach. My throat was closing but I had to go on, I had to convince him. “Please let me help you think of another way! There has to be another way!” The sparks on the gun began to spark stronger. Some of the sparks singed my cheek. “Please!” I cried louder into the darkness but got no reply, “Father! Please! Daddy!!!”

A large beam of electricity shot out from the gun and stroke me square in the chest. The most incredibly pain shot through my whole body. I began to scream and cry. My body squirmed and convulsed. My screams got louder and louder and tears were falling from the side of my eyes. I could hardly breathe anymore. I felt like my insides were being torn apart. I felt like I was going to die.

The stream of electricity continue to pour into my body. The room was getting hotter by the second. In fact my whole body felt like it burst into flames any minute now. I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t stop screaming. I could almost feel the ground beneath me begin to shake. In fact, through all the pain I was almost sure the ground was shaking. And the heat, it was causing me more pain than the electricity. I closed my eyes and tried to push it all away.

“AHHH!!!!!”

A burst of flames shot out from my whole body, from my head to my toes. It engulfed the device and the stream of electricity finally stopped. Still I continued to scream. The ground beneath me was shaking, I heard glass and bookshelves crashing from all sides. Soon the ground began to split. A stream of water poured from the ground on one side of the table and on the other side a stream of fire. Gust of wind were now blowing books into the air, pieces of glass and debris. I slowly began to float somehow getting out of restraints, still crying and screaming even though I wasn’t in any pain anymore. Somehow all the pain was gone. As I floated higher my arms hung at my side. One hand was puffing out fire, the other dripping with water.

“Crystal!” I heard my father shot.

My eyes shot open and everything ceased. The fires, the wind, the shaking and eventually my floating. I crashed down onto the table, whimpering as I moved onto my side, crawling into a ball.

My father finally emerged from the darkness, a look of awe on his face. I looked up at him, my vision blurred with tears, my eyes slowly closing. I tried to say something but nothing came out. As my father came closer to me, everything went black.

Jamie
July 10th, 2001
New Mexico

Four days had passed since the accident. Four days had passed since my parents died or were killed. I’m never sure the term to use when it comes to a car crash. I got off lucky, if you could call it that, with just a broken arm and a few broken ribs. Still they were going to keep me in the hospital for the time being.

Physically I was doing fine, I’d have normal function in my arm with some therapy but psychologically I was pretty damaged. I wasn’t talking or eating, I never slept and I just felt empty inside. My parents were gone and I could not really wrap my head around it. I cried most of the first day but after that it was like I was empty, no more tears came out and hardly any more words. Maybe I went into some delayed shock, I don’t know. I just know that I wasn’t feeling like myself. And I shouldn’t have been I guess. And not, just because my parents died, but because I wasn’t so sure I was myself.

Now when most people say that the common thought would be some sort of mental thing but when someone named Jamie Madrox says it, he most likely means it. That’s what happens with dupes sometimes. They get confused. They forget their dupes and begin to think they are the real deal. And I wasn’t sure exactly what I was, I wasn’t sure if I was THE Jamie Madrox or just a dupe.

I saw a Jamie Madrox die. He was reaching towards me, looking desperate, like he wanted to absorb me. Then there was the fact that I survived the crash. How could I have survived? I was sitting in the back seat without a seat belt. I wasn’t even sure how I got out of the car unless Jamie Prime hit the ground on impact and I was created. It just didn’t make sense and I wasn’t exactly one to believe in miracles.

So I was left with little to no choice to accept that I probably, most likely wasn’t Jamie Madrox. I was a fake. The parents I was grieving for weren’t mine, the painful memories crawling through my brains didn’t belong to me and my own life was just a façade.

So yeah, rough times all around.

My Aunt Rose had come in from Rochester New York the day after the accident. I had met her a few times growing up. She was my dad’s older sister, a nurse and a widow. She was apparently also now my legal guardian. She was cool I guess. She had made sure I was taken care of at the hospital, practically barking orders and correcting the nurses and doctors they had assigned to me. I had no idea if she knew about mine..or well Jamie’s powers. I had no plans of telling her. She wouldn’t get away from me though. She was at my bedside at all times.

I remember how it felt that day, sitting on my hospital bed, waiting for what I knew would happen eventually. Dupes don’t live long. At least I hadn’t created one that lasted longer than two days at the time. If I or well Jamie Prime, didn’t touch and reabsorb the dupe, they’d eventually disappear in the blink of an eye. It would be like they never existed. It would be like I never existed….

There was one thing that gave me hope. I hadn’t heard anything about another Jamie Madrox’s body being found. If that Jamie was Jamie Prime, wouldn’t the paramedics have discovered his body too?

But there was also the possibility they did find his body and maybe even a few other dead Jamie Madrox. Maybe I wasn’t the only dupe and maybe they were just discussing how they’d either dissect me or send me to S.H.I.E.LD to be their one man army.

My mind was constantly racing. I was living in fear every moment. But I would get some sense of relief soon enough when at least one of my questions would be answered.

It was the day the Professor finally came to see me. I had been waiting for him to come, hoping against hope they’d he hear about me and come himself. I couldn’t exactly ask Aunt Rose to call him without making her suspicious. But on the fourth day he finally came.

Aunt Rose was sitting at my bedside table, flipping through a People’s with a bunch celebrities on the covering and title “Hollywood’s 50 Most Eligible Bachelors’. I never really got that. Who exactly were they eligible for? Not my Aunt, that’s for sure. She was mousey, on the worst side of 50, with frizz brow hair, brown eyes with dark circles around them and slightly overweight.

“Excuse me,” a familiar voice said with a knock on the door.

I quickly turned my head to see the Professor walk into the room. I sat straight up at the sight of him. He was tall, well built with sleek back black hair, dark eyes and a classical handsome face with shallow cheek bones. He had a black goatee that was always neatly trimmed. He sort of looked and was dressed like some 50’s film star. Stripped suit, sharp tie and shiny shoes, you know all that jazz.

“Oh hello,” Aunt Rose stood straight up and I saw her cheeks blush slightly.

“Ah,” he moved forward and extended a hand, “You must be Jamie’s aunt.” The fact that he spoke with a really posh British accent almost made my aunt buckle at the knees. The Professor gave her a charming smile which only made Aunt Rose blush more.

“Yes, I’m Rose Madrox Crane,” she took his hand, “And you are.”

“Oh right I am sorry,” he gave a chuckle, “My name is Professor Nathaniel Essex. I am Jamie’s doctor.”

“Oh,” Aunt Rose gave him a curious look, “You’re his doctor. For?”

“I am his physician and psychiatrist,” he replied, “Technically I am Doctor Essex but Jamie has been calling me the Professor since I was a little boy.”

I gave a weak smile as my aunt gave a girlish giggle.

“So you’re a physician and a psychiatrist?” Aunt Rose asked clearly impressed.

“Yes well I could not resist trying both,” Essex gave her a pearl white smile, “I am a bit a surgeon too.”

“Oh,” My aunt’s lip twitched in delight, “My my.”

“Yes well I could never really decide one thing,” Essex went on, “So I thought why not try it all, multiple my possibilities.”

“A-HAHAHA,” I gave a fake loud laugh.

My aunt looked at me like I was a little off and then turned back to Essex, “Well actually I am nurse myself, have been one for almost thirty years now. My husband, who passed away a little over a decade ago, was a doctor.”

“Oh well I am sorry to hear of your loss,” Essex gave her a sympathetic touch on the arm, “And of course,” he turned to me. His eyes sad and empathetic, “Of yours.”

“Yeah,” I replied. I gave a sideways glance to my aunt who looked at me with a trembling lip.

“Would you mind dear,” Essex turned to Aunt Rose, “Can you leave Jamie and I alone for a moment? “

“Oh,” My aunt’s face soured a bit, “Ah..is that alright with you Jamie?”

I nodded, “Fine.”

My aunt nodded and then moved out of the room, giving one last wistful glance at Essex.

After she left and closed the door behind her Essex moved to my side, taking a seat.

“I will not ask you how you feel,” he gave me a somber look, “Because I know it is something you can’t describe.”

“Thanks,” I gave him a weak, forced smile.

“So how about I just let you talk,” Essex went on, “You tell me anything you want to say.”

I hesitated for a moment before blurting out, “I don’t think I’m real.”

Essex took in a deep breath and nodded, seemingly not surprised, “Yes I was afraid of that.”

I cast him a skeptically glance, “Really?”

“It’s about the body isn’t it. The Other Jamie,” Essex gave me a dark look.

My mouth hung open for a minute as I let a tiny inaudible noise. My heart had dropped and I felt sick. I could feel all the color drain from my face. I looked away from Essex, “…so it’s true. That Jamie didn’t disappear.”

“No,” Essex said softly, “He did not.”

A tear fell from my eye as I bit my lip, “I’m not real.”

“I…I do not know. You have not disappeared yet so I do not know…” Essex said sounding pained, “I am sorry Jamie.”

“So they all know,” I said looking out the window of my room to the hospital hallway where doctors and nurses passed, “They know I’m mutant.”

“No,” Essex replied, “They have no idea about the other body.”

“What happened to it?” I looked back to Essex.

“I burnt it,” Essex said in a way to casual way.

I looked at him surprised and even slightly disgusted, “You did what?”

“I had to dispose of his body,” Essex replied, “I had to protect you.”

“But..” I shook my head, “How could have done that without anyone discovering the body. They had to have discovered it after the crash.”

“They did,” Essex replied then paused for a moment. I could not read his face at all, “I have something to admit Jamie.” I gave him a curious, suspicious look, “I am a mutant.” My eyes widen slightly, “A telepath actually.”

“What,” I whispered, “Oh…” I nodded as I placed everything together, “You used your powers to make everyone forget about the other Jamie didn’t you?”

“Yes,” Essex nodded.

“Why did you lie to me?” I asked him feeling hurt, “You’re mutant. I felt so alone being the only mutant I knew, well the only mutant I knew who wasn’t me……”

“I am sorry Jamie,” Essex said sounding sincere, “But I felt it was the best way for you to open up to me. People get rather uncomfortable and closed off when they hear their psychiatrist can read their mind.”

“Did you ever read my mind?” I asked.

“Of course not,” He replied.

“Can you?”

He looked at me confused, “Excuse me?”

“Maybe if you read my mind you could tell if I am dupe or not,” I leaned towards him, “You can tell me if I am real.”

“That would do no good Jamie,” Essex shook his head, “If you were a dupe, your memories would mirror that of Jamies’, as would your emotions attached to those memories.”

“But there has to be some way,” I said almost begging him, “I need to know. I need to know if I’m real or not!”

“Jamie..”

“No!” I screamed, “I can’t live like this. Tell me if I’m real!”

“There is no way to tell,” Essex replied, “The other Jamie did not disappear but neither did you.”

“How long did you have the other Jamie before you burnt him?”

“Three days,” replied Essex.

“Damn,” I said I shed another tear, “Are there any test you could do, anything?”

“No,” Essex shook his head.

“So I just have to live like this,” I cried, “Afraid that I might disappear at any moment?”

“I am afraid for now, yes,” Essex replied.

“That can’t be,” I said as more tears fell from my eyes. “I can’t live not knowing if I’m real!”

“Jamie,” Essex moved a hand towards me but I hit it away hard. A dupe formed beside Essex.

The dupe looked at me dumbfound then began to bawl, “Oh My God! I feel so much! Why can’t understand me deep emotional complexities!!!”

I quickly grabbed the dupe and reabsorbed him. I looked to Essex and sniffed as I wiped a tear away, “That doesn’t mean I’m Jamie Prime does it?”

“I am afraid not,” Essex sighed.

“Can you leave me alone?” I said leaning back down on my bed, “I’d like to be alone now.”

“Of course,” Essex stood up. He moved towards the door then stopped in the door way, “I just want to tell you something and I want you to hear my words carefully.” I looked to him and paid attention despite feeling emotionally exhausted, “If it is true you can disappear any day, does that not mean that you should live everyday to the fullest. Live every moment you can, live as many lives you can lead. Do not give up Jamie Madrox, just live.” With that Essex walked out of my room, leaving me alone.

Crystal
August 11th, 2001

The wind swept across my face as I soared across the bright blue sky. I was smiling almost as brightly as the sun was shining. I feel the rays of sun prickling against my skin, almost energizing it. I soared downwards, then upwards, twirling in mid-air as I let out a loud laugh. My heart was expanding with joy I had never felt before and ever gust of wind that pass through me felt like a jolt of pleasure.

I descend towards the ground, the wind softly throwing my hair back. I landed softly on the bright green grass, my bare feet touching the ground. I could almost hear the earth talk to me through its subtle vibrations as the grass tickling my feet.

“That was good,” my father moved over to me and looked over me without any sign of emotion, “A definite improvement.”

“Yes,” I nodded. “I definitely felt like I controlled myself better than before. I felt like if I somehow balance my wind, fire and water powers it sort of levels my flight.”

“You used your water powers?” My father asked.

“More inwardly,” I replied, “More to provide balance and weight. I mostly use air to hold myself up and subtle bits of fire too control my speed.”

“Very good Crystal,” my father looked at me slightly impressed and my stomach practically burst with pride. I tried not to smile too widely, because I knew my father would disapprove.

“You have an impressive array of powers,” my father noted. “You can control and conjure fire, water, and wind and have power over aspects of Earth and its minerals.”

“Yes,” I nodded, “But why are having me practice if you just plan on taking my powers away?”

“I want you to perfect your powers until I cure them,” my father replied, “It might come in use for us one day.”

“Right,” I nodded again.

“I am going to go a make a report of our findings,” my father turned from me, “Be in my lab in an hour for blood test.”

“Yes father,” I nodded as I rubbed my right, needle marked arm which tinged with phantom pains.

As my father moved into the manor, I sat down on the ground. I ran my hand through the green grass. Ever since my powers had emerged the garden had really come alive. It was magnificent. Every part of the garden was brimming with all different types of flowers, all in full bloom.

I loved being a mutant. I loved my powers. I loved flying, I loved the control I had over the earth, over fire and water. I loved being different, being special, being someone my father was interested in.

I had forgiven him for that device he used on me to awaken my powers. It was necessary and a scientifically proven way to make sure my x-gene activated. Did I wish he had gone another way about it? Yes but what was done was done. I had to move on.

“Crystal!!” I looked up as I saw my young, nine year old brother Locke run out of the house. He was running towards me fast, his blonde hair sticking up at all ends thanks to the wind. He stopped in front of me, panting and looked up at me with his bright blue eyes, “That was awesome!”

“You saw me?” I asked with a large smile. As he got older, Locke and I grew closer. He seemed to idolize me and I adored him. We both knew to keep this secret. Any sort of ‘feeling’ in this family was looked down upon but I wasn’t going to not love my little brother.

“Yea!” He nodded, “It was so cool!”

I laughed, “Thanks.”

“Wow, you’re just so cool,” he looked up at me like I was the greatest thing ever.

“Thank you,” I gave a little curtsy.

“I wonder what’s going to happen to me,” Locke said falling down in the grass, “Do you think I’ll get a cool super powers?”

“Um, I don’t know,” I said as my stomach tightened a little. I looked down at my brother who was now on sitting Indian style on the ground, plucking pieces of grass, “I want a cool power. I know I’m not a mutant like you but if father makes a perfect X-Gene out of me, I’ll be sort of a mutant right?”

“Yeah,” I nodded as my throat got tight. I coughed a little as I felt my eyes begin to burn with tears.

“I can’t wait until I go through my transformation,” Locke fell on to his back and looked up at his sky, “I think everyone will like me than.”

“I like you,” I said as trying to gain control of my emotions, “I love you.”

“I don’t think father likes me very much,” Locke looked upwards, he had a dreamy expression on his face, “Max doesn’t care about me much either. I think Bart likes me though…and I don’t know about Dusa. She’s always mean to me.”

“She’s mean too everyone. And it doesn’t matter about them,” I gave him a weak smile, “You have me.”

“And you me,” he leaned up and smiled brightly. I nodded as a tear fell from my eye. Locke’s face fell, “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing,” I quickly shook my head and wiped away a tear. “I just…I’ll be right back.”

I turned around quickly and ran inside the house. I moved throughout the house, through the secret passageways and into my father’s lab where he was sitting behind a table, jotting down notes. Max, Bart and Dusa were also in the lab. Max was looking at something through a microscope, Bart jotting something down paper and Dusa pouring a liquid into a vial.

“Sister’s here,” Max turned to me, an unsettling smile on his face. He stared at me with his soulless eyes as he moved towards me, “She’s sad. Tormented.”

I rolled my eyes and moved past him. Max was still two days away from when he could take his Terrigan Mist. This is what would always happen with Max. The day he took the mist he would be at least semi-sane and as the days went on he’d descend further and further into madness.

I looked to Bart who gave me a silent nod. Bart, on the hand was good for the seven days but on the eighth day he would get violently ill. This would mean he’d cough up blood and when Bart coughed, that was never good.

“It isn’t time yet for your test Crystal,” Dusa looked to me, her red hair moving almost hypnotically. Dusa would start getting headaches around the sixth day, massive migraines on the seventh and after that she’d start losing her hair, which started moving on it’s on, which was always unsettling.

“Sister, sister,” Max move towards me and whispered into my ear, “I know why your sad. But the worst has yet to come.”

I ignored him and looked to my father, who was still taking notes.

“Father could I speak to you alone,” I said trying to contain my emotions.

My father sighed heavily and looked to me, “What about? I do not exactly have the time.”

I looked past my father to a work table not far from him. On it the torture device sat, its sides open. My father was working on it, fixing it for Locke. The thought made my eyes burn with tears.

“Please,” I said, “Just for a moment.”

My father got up from his chair and looked to the others in the room, “Leave us.”

Dusa rolled her eyes but did as my father requested. Bart followed closely behind her. Max, on the other hand moved to my side and whispered in my ear.

“You have no secrets to me sister. I see everything, I know everything. One day, you will burn.”

I looked him straight in the eyes, to show him I wasn’t scared of him or as he crazed rants. He laughed in my face or more like heckled before turning from me and moving quickly out of the room.

“He is getting worse,” my father looked at the spot where my brother once stood, “I wonder if I will have to make his mist intake stronger.”

“Father,” I moved close to him and looked up at him with pleading eyes, “You can’t do it.”

“Do what?” My father looked at me confused.

“Repair that device,” I said as tears poured from my eyes, “You can’t use that horrible device on Locke.”

My father looked at me disgusted, “Stop crying.”

“No!” I shouted and put up an open palm. A ball of fire formed in it, “I’ll destroy it myself if you won’t!”

“Stop it!” My father snarled, “How dare you act this way!”

“I can’t let you do this father, I’m sorry father I love you but-”

“Stop!” My father moved towards me and slapped me across the face.

The ball of fire went out in my hand and I touched the side of my face shocked. “Father how-”

“Do not let your emotions get in the way of this family’s goals,” my father glared down at me and I stepped backwards feeling suddenly powerless. I could not believe he hit me. I felt ashamed, like I somehow disappointed my father. I was angry at myself. I was in his good graces and now this.

Still, I told myself I had to stay strong, had to stand my ground for Locke’s sake. If I lost standing with father, so be it.

“I only care about this family,” I replied trying to stand tall, “I care about Locke. “

“No you feel for Locke,” my father replied, “Locke knows his purpose in this family, he knows it comes with sacrifice, and he is willing to do what he needs to do for the good of science.”

“But father,” I looked him in the eye, “There has to be a different way. There has to be drugs which can cause the same affects-”

“No drugs will cause confusion for the body,” he cut me off.

“But you’re brilliant father,” I moved closer to him, “You’re the smartest man I know. The smartest man in the world.” I noticed a change in his demeanor, more relaxed and willingly to listen, “I know you could do anything you wanted too. That device is practically primitive but you could create something new, something better which will bring about the same results.”

“Yes….that is true,” my father put a hand to his chin and suddenly seemed deep in thought.

“I believe you in father,” I said continuing to play to his ego, “Look at what you have done so far.”

My father looked to me and nodded, “Fine. I will begin searching for a new device to help awaken the x-gene.”

“You promise you’ll try right,” I looked into his eyes, “You promise you will never use that horrible device on Locke.”

My father looked me back into the eyes and for a moment there was silence, “I promise.”

I smiled and a tear fell from my eyes, “Thank you father. You really are a great man.” And I meant it. I idolized my father as much as my brother idolized me. I turned from him and begin to walk out of the lab.

“And Crystalia,” my father called out to me.

I turned to him, “Yes father.”

“I want you spending more time in the lab and less time with Locke,” his voice was cold and demanding, “I think you have forgotten the importance of what we are trying to do.”

I nodded not actually intending on keeping my word, “Of course.”

With that I turned from him and left the lab, happy with my bitter sweet victory.

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