Shadows In The Night
It was night. The stars shone brightly, the
hills illuminated by a crescent moon. Pausing in his flight from the
compound behind him, a dark figure paused and looked up in wonder.
He'd forgotten what the stars looked like.
They were beautiful.
Onward now, the figure ran. Keeping low, partially out of habit, partially out of instinct that dictated he remain unseen. Not knowing his destination, he ran with all his might on a road he did not know but followed as though it were familiar. This young man, more of a child really, running for his life, his freedom.
Suddenly, although his eyes needed no assistance from light, he became aware of one - a flickering orange, off to his left. He turned towards it without thinking, increasing his already frantic pace. Within seconds he entered a clearing in the trees. Before him was a milling crowd of people, men, women, children. They were milling about a fire, chanting curses and screaming in fury at the fire - no, not the fire. At the figure tied to the stake in the flames, now burning like a candle.
Who the mob thought was him.
Turning, running now, the figure fled back the way he had come - but it was no longer the same way. A cliff waited before him, a drop of some eighty feet. Two figures struggled on the edge of the cliff - one seemingly an angel. one his brother. As he stared in horror, the angel hurled his adversary into the empty space beyond the cliff's edge, and turned to face the new arrival.
Your sins, your stupidity, your weakness. now they have led to the deaths of those you most hold dear. You should have surrendered, fool.
The escapee turned to run again - and saw a fence blocking his way. He could not pass. And behind him, as the landscape changed once more, becoming a place of pain, a place of evil, a place of science that was never intended to benefit mankind. A place known as Genetex.
He was a prisoner again.
He began to scream, a drawn out cry that echoed throughout the night.
He was alone, by himself in a cave. In this new place he'd been forced to transform into a home, the place he'd lived alone for nearly two years now, though he himself had long lost count. He was lying on the pile of animal skins and branches that served as his bed, dressed in a pair of ragged pants that were all that remained of his clothes. As the dying echoes of his scream bounced off the stone walls and into the night, his breathing slowly returned to normal. Just a nightmare, not reality, he realised. He was not at Genetex now. His strange, three-fingered hand unconsciously felt the patch of midnight blue fur on his shoulder that covered the barcode they'd tattooed there upon his arrival at the Genetex laboratories.
Be strong, he
told himself. I am safe here. they cannot find me here. no- one
will come for me here.
Alone in the darkness, Kurt Wagner began to cry.
Logan." The burly Canadian grunted an intelligible reply as Ororo
reached around him to reach the coffee. "Did you sleep well?"
"For a while. Somethin' woke me up 'bout 4 am."
Ororo sipped her coffee. "What was it?"
"Don't know. I've heard it before, though. Mentioned it to Chuck. He says I'm imagining things."
Hank McCoy looked up from the newspaper he was reading at the table. "Getting confused in our old age are we, my friend?" he smirked. Logan scowled and was about to blast the blue mutant with a scathing retort when he was interrupted by the arrival of the student body in general.
"This is like, soooo unfair!" wailed Kitty. "It's
not even 9 o' clock yet!"
"But we woke up at 7:30 yesterday," chimed one a trio of Jamies – he'd managed to dupe himself within 10 minutes of waking up by falling over a lupine Rahne on the way to the shower.
"That was a school morning," reminded Rogue. "Now quiet, or you'll encourage Logan."
"Too late, darlin'," grinned Logan. "I'm up, so I don't need encouraging."
"Not even from your
invisible friend?" murmured Hank, earning a scowl from Logan, a
grin from Ororo and a confused glance from everyone else. Then Logan
turned back to the others.
"Now then. You've probably all noticed the snow outside, right?"
There was an apprehensive murmur of assent. "Well, since you're all having so much trouble waking up this morning, it can help ya out. You're all going for a run, all of you, to the falls in the mountains and back. That's five miles all told. Breakfast will be waiting when you get back, and the loser's got cleaning duty for the whole weekend."
There was dead silence that was finally broken by Evan.
"So, exactly how long
ago did you sell your soul to the devil, man?"
Logan grinned. "I am the devil, porcupine. Get changed, all of you. Show up late and as well as the run, it's 2 hours in the danger room. With me."
Had the students maintained the speed at which they ran to change into their uniforms, the 4-mile run would have been over in a few minutes.
"Before breakfast? Really, Logan," admonished the Professor.
"Don't worry, Chuck," chuckled the gruff man. "I told Scooterboy that they're to turn back after a mile and a half, and even he doesn't know that the cleaning duty threat was a lie."
"Well then," announced Hank, "this gives us a spare hour or so - Logan, why don't you entertain us with the exploits of your imaginary friend. Have you heard this little fable yet, Charles?"
"Yes, I have,"
admitted Charles. "And I'll tell you what I told Logan. If there is
someone living in those mountains, then they're there by choice. If
they're a mutant, they're not using their powers or else Cerebro
would pick up their signals. No matter who they are, they probably
have a very good reason for living in solitude, and it's not our
place to intrude. And if it's simply Logan's overactive imagination,
there's nothing to worry about, now is there?"
Logan snorted. "Whatever, Chuck. I know what I hear, I know what I smell, and I know there's someone - or something - hiding up in those hills." He turned to gaze at the peaks out of the window. "And I don't like not knowing who it is."