Feature of the Month
The "Faces Of Hate" Challenge;
What's not mine is Marvel's. No money. Don't sue.
Here's my response to my own "Faces of Hate" challenge.
I've been up half the friggin' night writing this thing, so gimme feedback! Gimme gimme gimme!
Comments to KayleeSama@aol.com. (Cute new addy, innit? Thank Celendra! ;)
"I didn't know."
"It's all right, Amy. Take it slow."
"But that's the whole point, Doctor Robbins. I didn't know. If I had...oh god, if I had..."
"Breathe deeply, Amy. I promised you we'd confront this today, remember? We can't do that if you don't get past the very beginning. I need you to relax...and tell me what happened."
"Look at me, Amy. You already know you can trust me."
"...yes. Yes, I know I can."
"That's right. There's a girl. Now tell me, Amy. Tell me how it started."
"It... I was cooking. Dinner. Healthy Choice barbecue beef. I've been very health conscious lately, ever since my sister turned up with heart disease."
"Yes, Amy. Go on."
"...okay. So I was cooking, and I had the news on, and that's when I saw that woman...what's her name? That reporter?"
"Trish Tilby was the one you mentioned, I believe."
"Yeah. Her. Anyway, so she comes on talking about some mutants going nuts downtown. I didn't really think much about it, y'know. Mutant stuff's on the news all the time. You just sorta...tune it out. Know what I mean?"
"A lot of people do become conditioned to it, yes."
"Well, like I said, I wasn't paying attention. Just glancing at the screen every now and then. And then one time when I looked, suddenly it's my building they're showing. Just like that. I didn't even hear anything outside, and there they were."
"Of course. All sorts. People dressed up in PJs and trying to hurt each other...lights going off...these big loud sounds that came out of nowhere..."
"Deep breaths. Just talk slowly."
"It's... I first realized that this was really happening when the whole building just sort of...shuddered. The lights flickered. Mrs. Jeffries -- she's this little old lady who lives...lived...next door -- well, she screamed real loud, and I heard something break. And then there was shouting...and the building sort of groaned like it was alive or something...
"I might have screamed, maybe. I remember that I wanted to. I just don't know if I actually did. But I wanted to scream, I remember that very clearly."
"It was a terrifying thing, Amy. I'm not surprised you were scared. Please continue."
"The TV went off. Everything went off. The whole building went dark and quiet, just like that. It was like...like being in the eye of a storm, y'know? Everything around you is dead quiet. Dead quiet. And you just know the world is about to explode, but there's not a damned thing you can do about it except start praying. I hadn't been to church in ten years, Doctor, but I was praying like a parishioner that night. I just kept saying, 'Please god...please don't let me die. I'm not ready to die. I'm not finished yet.'"
"Do you need a tissue?"
"No, I just...I...yes, please."
"Here you are."
"You're welcome. Would you continue, please?"
"Just...just give me a sec..."
"Take your time."
"... Well, you know about...about the gun. I had it under the bed. It's just that living in Manhattan is dangerous these days. And when the building started shaking, and all I knew was that there were mutants out there doing this..."
"You got the gun."
"And what then?"
"Here's another tissue."
"God, you don't...you don't understand. Then it was...the children."
"I heard about the children."
"You can't just hear about something like that! Children, Doctor! I heard the crash -- didn't know what it was, but I heard it. Then they were...they were screaming and crying for their parents. Jenine was babysitting, but I found out later that she was...was killed when the wall was smashed in. And god...the way they sounded... Angels, Doctor Robbins. Angels screaming in agony. It was worse than hell."
"Three children died during the incident."
"Yes. Bobby, Sharon, and Cassie."
"You knew them?"
"I used to read Cassie to sleep when she was four. Two years before...this."
"Bobby was friends with my son Thomas before he...died. I remember that he once stole twenty bucks from my purse. Sharon -- she was his older sister -- she made him give it back."
"I didn't know it was them when it happened. But everything was going nuts. There were people shouting again...and these loud noises that I couldn't recognize. Like the special effects things you'll hear in movies, sort of. And then someone else screamed, outside, and then..."
"I guess...I kind of shut everything out then. Went blank. I was standing in the corner of my bedroom with, y'know, the gun. I smelled the smoke before I saw it, but I just couldn't make my feet move to get out of there. The children...had stopped...screaming. I found out later that...that it was over by then. They'd stopped the mutants who were trying to hurt everyone. But I didn't know that..."
"Is this when the mutant...?"
"He came into your apartment? Broke down your door and came in?"
"And you heard him, didn't you, Amy?"
"I did. He wasn't trying to be quiet. He was shouting, but I couldn't hear what he was saying. Or I didn't hear. Not his words. Just the sound he made when he ran through the apartment..."
"You must have been terrified."
"Do you need a break?"
"...no. No, I'd rather finish this now."
"I heard him coming, and I remember very clearly how loud it sounded when I flipped the safety off. I thought he must have heard it. And I thought it didn't matter, 'cause he's a mutant, right? What good is a gun against a mutant? And then he was there at the door, and it was dark, and all I could see was this huge, monstrous shape in the doorway, coming towards me. He was talking, but the words...they just didn't mean anything. I screamed at him to stay back -- or I think I screamed. I didn't really hear myself. But he just...kept coming. And I..."
"I shot him."
"... There's a girl. Easy."
"No! Don't tell me 'easy'! You didn't see his face! His eyes...they got so wide, like he didn't believe I'd do that. I just saw his eyes right as I pulled the trigger, but it was too late and he was already falling with blood all over his face. Blood! Because of me!"
"Amy, you didn't know."
"Goddamn right I didn't! How the hell was I supposed to know that he was trying to help me?! How was I supposed to know??"
"... Would you like that break now?"
"No, I... Let's just finish it."
"Very well. I want to skip ahead now, Amy. The trial. How did you feel about that?"
"I thought they'd give me the chair."
"Yeah. I mean, I killed this guy. This good guy, who was just trying to save people. I thought I deserved it."
"You know better now, though."
"... Do I?"
"Amy, look at me. You had no idea what was going on. You were only trying to defend yourself. It's okay to defend yourself. You couldn't know...the rest."
"I know, but..."
"But his mother..."
"What about her?"
"She was at the trial. And his father, too. I saw her sitting there every day. Looking at me. Just looking."
"Was she trying to intimidate you, Amy?"
"No, I don't think so. She just looked so...sad."
"It made me start thinking...what if my son had lived and grown up, and something like this had happened to him?"
"Your son wasn't a mutant, Amy."
"How do I know that? He died when he was eight. They say you can't tell until puberty."
"... How did you feel when you were acquitted?"
"Like it was wrong."
"Then why did you plead 'not guilty' in the first place?"
"I...was scared. I listened to my lawyer..."
"You did the right thing."
"I don't think so. I mean, his mother... I just...keep wanting to go talk to her. To try to find a way to let her know... Just to tell her that I'm sorry. I know she'll never forgive me, but I want to tell her..."
"I don't know if that's the best idea, Amy."
"... Maybe it's not."
"But you're doing well right now. It's important that we get you back on your own two feet."
"Do you want to finish up on the trial today?"
"Can we just save it for next time? I'm feeling really tired."
"If that's best for you, certainly."
"Thank you, Doctor Robbins."
"My pleasure, Amy. Let me just grab my schedule book, here..."
"You've been such a help to me."
"I care about you, Amy. You're a remarkable woman. Do you realize that your case was the first official acquittal in a mutant-death case of this magnitude?"
"I...didn't know that."
"It's true. Where is that...? Ah, it's in my coat pocket. Just a moment, Amy. I have to grab it from the closet."
"That's fine. I don't mind wait..."
"...what is that?"
"On the inside of your closet door. What is that?"
"This? Oh, nothing. Just an old campaign poster."
"You...were going to vote for him?"
"Yes, I was. I made several contributions to the campaign. It was quite a personal loss to me when he was murdered."
"Is something wrong, Amy? I'm sorry...this is an unpleasant topic for you, I imagine. The assassination of a man who fought for human rights can't be easy to think of considering your own...situation."
"... I...have to go."
"Hold on, and I'll pencil in your next appointment."
"No, I just..."
"Where are you going? Amy? Amy, when do you want to come back? Amy? Amy!"
It was a quaint little farmhouse.
God, she hated that word. 'Quaint.' It sounded so 'Better Homes and Gardens.'
And now she was rambling to herself. Perfect.
Oh god, she was terrified.
Do this. Just do it.
Her feet took her slowly up the walk. Eyes skimmed nervously over the odd assortment of gadgets that adorned the place like lawn ornamentation. The lawn itself was torn and rutted from the overflow of news vehicles that had been flocking here like scavengers ever since it happened. They'd probably only left a few days earlier, finally letting these people attempt to regain some semblance of life again.
She could do this. She could do this. She could--
She knocked on the door before she could change her mind, then took a step back and clasped her hands tightly in front of her. Suddenly realizing how the whites of her knuckles showed her tension, she shifted her arms to grip her hands behind her back instead.
Maybe she's not home, please let her be not home, please let this be the wrong house, please... Oh shit, I hear feet coming, she's coming, oh shit, oh shit oh shit...
The door opened. She swallowed hard as she looked into a familiar face...
And then, all of a sudden, the tears started.
"Oh god," she choked out. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry! I didn't know. I didn't know!" It was all she could say, over and over again, blubbing like a baby as she stared into those sad, sad eyes. "I'm so sorry to have done this...I didn't mean it to happen...I was so confused and scared, and I didn't know..."
"Easy," the woman said quietly, in a voice so very different from the doctor's. "Easy." And then the screen door was being pushed open, and suddenly arms were wrapping around her firmly, gently, and she was pressing her face hard into a warm shoulder while sobs wracked her body and the tears welled from a never-ending spring deep, deep inside.
"I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry, Mrs. McCoy!"
©David D. Amaya
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