Warning: This story involves a death of a child. Do not read if that is a trigger.
Sunday morning, a couple weekends into school.
"Sometimes there are no words. No clever quotes to neatly sum up what's happened that day... sometimes the day... just... ends." - Criminal Minds
The blonde-haired mutant kicked the dirt laying in front of her, causing dust to arise. She sighed, turning her head to squint at the gleaming sun. It was a weekend, so Kelsey Foster was free to do what she wanted. Today, a Sunday, she chose to venture outside of the school grounds, ending up in front of a recreation center. Kelsey sat on a cement ledge lining grass fields, wearing a navy blue windbreaker over a graphic-tee with denim jeans and white sneakers.
Although it was 87 degrees fahrenheit, the mutant with clearly visible inhumanness had to cover up her gray tinted skin and noticeable distinguishments. She leaned back, placing her hands behind her to support herself. Kelsey basked in the sunlight, letting out a deep breath. It was nice being away from the other students, with their perfect physical appearance and awesome powers. All Kelsey had was a mean bite and being able to breathe underwater.
In the distance, a child was wailing. It was just that, a lone cry. Kelsey raised her head, opening her eyes in search of the source of the sound. In front of her, there were groups of children supervised by a young adult playing, but no one crying. No, she could definitely hear it. Kelsey stood, dusting off her pants and followed the sound. She distanced herself further from the youth group, and approached closer to a small alley a block away.
Kelsey realized that her enhanced hearing had picked up the cry, which is why no one else followed after her. She turned into the alley, placing one hand on a nearby wall. “Hello?” She asked into the shadows. The sun didn’t seem to reach here, causing Kelsey to trip over a few trash bags. Someone sniffled in the darkness, murmuring something unheard.
The shark mutant blinked, adjusting her cerulean eyes to the shaded area. She spotted a blob. As she got closer, she recognized the blob to be a child. Kelsey knelt down in front of it, furrowing her eyebrows.
“Hey, there. My name’s Kelsey, what are you doing all alone?” She asked softly. It was a girl, with swollen red eyes and a red nose. As Kelsey’s eyes became more adjusted, she saw a shimmer on the girl’s face. The girl was covered in blotches of radiant scales all over her body, with one arm being entirely covered by said scales. Her hand was more like a claw, having only four fingers with long and crooked nails.
The girl whimpered, “Please, don’t hurt me.” She hugged her knees closer to her small torso. Kelsey raised her hands, “No, no, I’m not here to hurt you. Look, I’m like you.” Kelsey opened her mouth, displaying her pearly-white shark teeth. For further proof, she lifted up her shirt, twisting to expose her gills lining her torso. The girl widened her eyes, enamored by Kelsey’s appearances. Kelsey pulled down her shirt.
“So, where are your parents?” Kelsey asked the child, who returned to her gloomy mood. The girl lowered her head, “My parents… told me to wait by the park… a long time ago. But I couldn’t find them, and because I didn’t wait, they can’t find me.” She explained. Kelsey tensed. Her parents had left her by giving her a pathetic reason for their abandonment. Anger bubbled in her, but lowered once she noticed the girl’s skinniness and tattered shirt. She took off her jacket and handed it to her. She put the jacket on, which was much too big for her and the sleeves extended past her hands.
“Well, I’m hungry. I don’t know about you, but I could go for some sandwiches.” The girl’s face lit up at the word sandwich. She nodded frantically. Kelsey grinned and ruffled the child’s hair, “C’mon, then, let’s go get some sandwiches.”
As they stepped into the spotlight, the child pulled up the hoodie and held onto Kelsey’s hand as she led her. She couldn’t have been any older than eight. “My name’s Naomi.” Naomi said shyly. Kelsey glanced down at her as they walked, “Naomi’s a cute name.” She added. A few civilians in the area gave stares at Kelsey’s skin. Whatever, she’d pass it off as a skin condition. So long as Kelsey didn’t show off her teeth and Naomi kept the hood on, they’d be fine.
The two stopped by a local sandwich shop that wasn't too crowded. The teenage cashier didn’t pay any attention to the two as she served them, luckily. They sat outside on the curb, unwrapping their sandwiches. Naomi greedily chomped away at her food. It was clear that she hadn’t eaten in days. Kelsey handed her a water bottle and a couple napkins, observing the child mutant.
Naomi had finished eating when Kelsey was halfway done. She kept silent, biting her lip. Naomi turned to Kelsey quickly, pulling at her shirt. “I want to go to the mall!” Naomi said suddenly, pouting. Kelsey finished the last of her sandwich, “What, why?” Kelsey questioned, raising an eyebrow.
“No, I just want to…” Naomi frowned, turning away. She fumbled with the long sleeves of the jacket, “I see kids like me go there everyday with their parents.” Naomi murmured. Kids, always tugging at your heartstrings. Kelsey couldn’t say no now. She sighed deeply, rubbing the back of her neck.
“Fine, let’s go. But you have to stay close to me.” Naomi bounced up, her face lighting up in joy. Kelsey stood as Naomi hugged her tightly, “Ah, gills, gills!” Naomi let go and put her hands behind her back, mouthing a sorry. Kelsey pat her head and two made their way to the nearest mall.
Nearing the mall, Kelsey looked at the hooded Naomi, who seemed to be humming happily. “Hey, Naomi?” Kelsey began. Naomi looked up at her with hazel eyes, “Hmm?”
“You see, I go to this place in Bayville, it’s a school, so, it’s pretty boring.”
“Yep. It’s called Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Long, I know. But, if you want to, you can come with me.”
“Uh, yeah, but, they’re always stocked with food and have pretty nice beds. Plus there’s a bunch of kids your age, too.”
Naomi contemplated the idea of going to such a strange place. She nodded, “I’ll go with you, Kelsey.” Kelsey smiled at her, rubbing the top of her head.
“I’ll take you there after the mall.” Kelsey stated. They approached the front doors of the mall, “Remember, stay by me, Naomi.” She opened the door for her. The two were met by the cool breeze of the air conditioning. Naomi skidded from place to place, gawking at the items they had for sale. Kelsey followed, lurking only a couple steps away from her.
After thirty minutes of Naomi darting from store to store, Naomi set her eyes upon a brown fluffy teddy bear. She came running back to Kelsey, dragging her into the toy store. She pointed at it, “I want that one! Please, please, Kelsey! With cherries on top!” She begged. Kelsey sighed, examining the price tag.
“Thirty bucks! For a teddy bear?” Kelsey exclaimed, “Jesus, no wonder parents are going in debt.” She murmured. Kelsey looked to Naomi, who had her hands clasped together and was attempting to do puppy eyes.
“You better sleep with this thing every night until it comes apart.” Kelsey murmured, taking the teddy bear to the cash register.
Kelsey and Naomi walked out of the store. Kelsey slipped her wallet back into her jeans, watching Naomi hug the bear to death. Poor bear.
“Got a name for him?” Kelsey asked Naomi. Naomi furrowed her eyebrows, extending the bear out in front of her.
“Mr. Bear!” Naomi declared. How original. Kelsey sighed, murmuring under her breath, “Thirty bucks for a Mr. Bear.”
They began to exit the store, having fully toured the entire mall, before Naomi caught sight of something familiar. Recognition dawned on her face, and Naomi dashed off, dropping Mr. Bear. Kelsey reached out for her, attempting to grab her before she could flee.
“Naomi, wait!” Kelsey yelled, picking up Mr. Bear and running after her. Naomi squeezed herself past the crowds of people, calling at the top of her lungs, “Mom! Dad!” At top speed, Naomi crashed into an adult couple, her hood came off. “Mom, da -” Naomi was cut short as she noticed the couple’s faces. These were not her parents. The woman in front of her screamed in shock at the reptilian mutant in front of her.
Kelsey tried to pushed through the crowd, her heart beating out of her chest. A circle of people formed, surrounding the child. A few began to pull out their phones, taking flash photos or videos of Naomi.
“Naomi, Naomi!” Kelsey screamed, trying to call her over. Naomi was terrified, paling. She rose her arm, the sleeve rolling down to reveal her claw-like limb.
“I-I didn’t mean…” Naomi murmured, her eyes becoming glossy. The ground began to shake, causing the crowd to disperse around her. Kelsey had trouble standing, her vision flickering from the moving ground to the panicked child. Naomi had the ability to cause earthquakes. The woman Naomi had bumped into fell backwards, along with a couple others who couldn’t keep their balance.
Kelsey tried to take a step, but was met with a quavering shake. She whipped her head around, looking for a way to grab Naomi and get the hell out of here. A few stumbling civilians began to point at Naomi.
“It’s her, she’s causing this! Someone stop the mutant!” They called. A black object glinted in the flashing lights, and everything seemed to slow to Kelsey. The weapon was pulled from a man’s jacket pocket, pointed towards Naomi.
“Naomi!” Kelsey screamed, staggering towards her in a rush. He cocked the pistol, and a shot echoed in the mall. Naomi shook, and then fell. The shaking stopped, and everyone seemed to stop in their place.
“Naomi, stay with me, I-I still haven’t taken you to meet the other kids.” Kelsey trembled, kneeling down next to the gasping Naomi. Kelsey dropped the teddy bear and picked up Naomi, elevating her head. A tear fell out of Naomi’s eyes as blood pooled from her chest. Her chest rose and lowered for the last time. Kelsey sobbed, lowering her head.
She was just a kid.
Spencer E. Bannon
William J. Thrasher