Monster in the Mirror

Chapter 11

Sitting in the dank basement, I could clearly hear the tense argument going on upstairs, signaling the arrival of my father. As my mom explained to him that I had done what I did in order to save my brother, my dad retaliated by shouting that none of it would have happened if I had told a teacher like a 'normal' kid. I didn't know which hurt more: the fact that I'm forced to stay down here instead of with the rest of my family, or the fact that my own father wants nothing to do with me and treats me like a burden he didn't want.

Sighing, I picked up a small grey mouse that had been sniffing my shoe and pet it as I stared at a stain on the floor in a daze. 'I wonder if any of the guys will miss me when we leave.' I thought as I laughed bitterly at the thought: of course they won't, they're too shit-scared to even come over and check on Alex, let alone me. At least I have SOME company that isn't afraid, even if it is a mouse that doesn't understand a thing I'd say to it…but company was company and I won't take it for granted.

"You're not scared of me are you little mouse? You don't understand me but that's okay, I can talk for the both of us." I said to it as it stood on its hind legs and sniffed my nose with a tiny squeak, as if telling me to continue. "I never wanted any of this to happen, all I wanted was to live a happy life filled with friends, family, and the ability to be a kid for once in my life. I want to play, laugh, hangout and just BE normal: if only for a day. But no, that can't happen because I'm not normal and I never will be…not after what they did to me. This might've been stupid and childish but I made a wish on a star yesterday: I asked it to send me a friend who understood how it feels to have the weight of the world on their shoulders. That's what I wished for and that's all I want, instead I fucked that chance up by nearly killing someone. I don't want people to be afraid of me: but to understand that I did what I did to make sure my brother was safe. But of course nobody else sees it that way: all they see is a monster." I whimpered as tears trailed down my face like a raging river as I poured my heart out to the little rodent sitting in my palm.

It was around this time that the argument upstairs dimmed down to a heated conversation as Alex put in his two cents, bless his heart. Wiping my tears away so I could see clearly, I saw that the little mouse leaned forward and placed its paw on my nose before jumping from my hand and disappeared under the stairs. For several minutes I sat in silence, watching the setting sun turn the white snow a blend of pink, yellow, and blue before I turned my gaze to the door as my parents both came down and stood in front of me.

"Your mother told me what happened today with that boy and your brother. I am absolutely livid with you for breaking the set rules of not revealing yourself, but if you hadn't: Alex would be dead. Therefore, we came to a decision about what to do with you, Saphira." dad said as he stood rigid with his arms crossed, making me look down at my feet in deep personal shame. "We have decided to allow you to use your 'abilities' only in emergencies." he said, making my head snap up so quickly I was sure I had given myself whiplash.

"But you said if anyone saw me that they will-" I started, only to have him silence me with a wave of his hand. "Yes that's what I said and I meant it: however, I highly doubt they will care if their lives are at stake. You can also wear that…'outfit' of yours instead of hiding it, since there's no point in doing so now." he said, not giving me a chance to reply as he and mom retreated back upstairs and to bed, leaving the door unlocked this time: making me grateful for not having to pick the lock again.

As I tried to wrap my brain around the fact that I wasn't going to be punished for breaking the rules, I nearly jumped out of my skin at the sudden but persistent 'tapping' on the basement window. Looking up, fearful that I had finally been discovered, only to relax at the familiar sight of Mysterion staring intently at me from the window. 'He's probably here to interrogate me about what happened today.' I thought as I nodded at him before opening the window and climbing out into the cold evening air.

Standing up straight, I saw the vigilante keeping a very close watch on me as I brushed the snow off my knees. Looking back at him, I saw his scowl was deeper than the last time I had seen him and his eyes were cold and calculating. "I suppose you'd like an explanation." I stated as he narrowed his eyes and nodded.

"Fine, I will tell you all I'm allowed, but not here where others might be listening. Do you know a place that's out of earshot of eavesdroppers?" I asked, widening my eyes as he became more guarded and slipped into a defensive stance. "No! That's not what I'm trying to do, it's very important that nobody knows what I'm about to tell you." I said as he searched my expression, poking and prodding for any lies or schemes before nodding and gesturing for me to follow him.

As we tromped through the snow and up and down various alleyways, I noticed he wasn't letting his guard down in the least bit and kept glancing at me like he expected me to attack him. After about an hour of this awkward journey, I found myself standing with him on the roof of Walgreens. Looking around for Mysterion, I found him perched on top of an AC unit: in a typical Batman pose that oddly suited him.

With a heavy sigh, I made myself comfortable on the edge of the building and tried to decide where to begin with this long and complicated story of mine. "Where should I start?" I asked him as he cocked his head slightly, making the question mark on his hood wiggle a bit. "How about you start with the beginning, like all stories." he replied as he shifted his weight, ready to fight or flee in case I turned on him. "Wait, you're not afraid of me?" I questioned, shocked that he didn't have the fearful look in his eyes as the rest of the kids that saw me fight today, meaning he probably wasn't there.

"That remains to be seen." he said, deepening his scowl at my stalling before I began. "Remember when I told you that you weren't the only one with a burden?" I asked him as he blinked and nodded cautiously. "I was talking about me when I said that as you can probably guess. When I was five years old, my parents signed me up for a genetic mutation experiment: an experiment that involved the testing of a weaponized virus that mutated animals and people into creatures and monsters not even your worst nightmares can conjure up. I had begged and pleaded for them to leave me alone, but they said that I had 'promising reactions' to the torture they had me endure. Instead of it killing me or turning me into a creature from hell: the virus bonded to me, earning me the codename ZEUS amongst the scientists and military faction known as Blackwatch. When that happened, they wouldn't let me leave: instead they pushed me past my limits by forcing me to fight the 'failed' test subjects in an arena like some kind of gladiator. I had learned to control my…abilities in doing so, even though it came with a price. I can shapeshift into anything or anyone by consuming or absorbing them: but in doing so I end up killing them, letting me gain their form, memories, and status as an individual. In addition to that, I can rapidly heal myself as well as adapt to many forms of combat and situations." I explained with a shuddering breath as Mysterion tensed as he glared at me, silently urging me to continue.

"I can take hits that would kill a normal human, I can run up walls, I can rip a helicopter in half and throw the pieces a ridiculous distance away. I can also turn my arms into an arsenal of weapons and fall from very great heights and land on my feet without taking damage. I could even glide like a wing-suitor if I felt like it from one building to another. My life isn't my own and I hate it almost as much as what those bastards turned me into, because of them: I am a monster that deserves to die just as much as the rest of the scum of the earth. I'm a super soldier with no other purpose but to destroy, it's all I know how to do. When my parents finally realized their mistake, they smuggled me from the Gentek facility I was caged in and moved us here. My brother refuses to speak of it, my parents forbade me from showing any of my skills or risk severe punishment: which is part of the reason why I had been locked in the basement earlier. I don't want to be a monster Mysterion, I want to live a normal life like everyone else and just be free. But now that Gentek knows that I'm gone, Blackwatch will surely be hunting me down: and they won't hesitate to nuke every city and town if it means finding me, and when they do: they will 'take out the trash' and start over with some other poor kid to mold into the perfect weapon." I said as I wiped my tears away, not daring to look at Mysterion's reaction to my tale as the snow fell gently from the night sky, and something told me I didn't want to.

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