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Morphic

For more information on this story and a full list of chapters and extras, click here. Please note that Morphic is rated R (M if you prefer Fiction Ratings) for strong language, violence and other sensitive subject matter.

Chapter 5

Mia Kerrigan sat on a bench at the edge of the school grounds. For most kids, free periods were their favourite time of the school day. And so had they been for her the first couple of years.

Then her scythes had started to grow, and the other kids had grown deathly afraid of her, something she could not really relate to personally but could, in a limited sense, understand.

On its own that was perhaps not too bad, since she had never been a particularly social person and initially it had been very satisfying to see all the gawking eyes averted as soon as she glanced in their general direction. The bad part was that it wasn’t until they became afraid of her that the Nutjobs had begun to feel some sense of martyrdom (an idea which they, for some reason she could not quite grasp either, seemed to feel oddly attracted to) in trying to explain to her why she was a vile creature of Hell.

And that was why she felt her glossy yellow insect wings begin to twitch that day when she realized that the Nutjobs were approaching her.

The boy she had attacked the last time was absent from the group, and she felt a hint of dark pride in herself. The oldest of them, a sixteen-year-old girl with square-rimmed glasses and long brown hair tied into a ponytail, was still there, however, and this year she had gathered a few new followers.

Mia said nothing as they came within a few feet of the bench.

“Still here?” the girl asked with contempt in her voice. Mia noticed a small blond-haired boy with large blue eyes standing in the group and looking at her with an expression almost of pity.

“Frank left because of you, you know,” the girl went on. “He didn’t want to come back. His mom put him into a different school. I hope you’re happy.”

Mia looked at the little boy, who looked back at her. He bit his lip, but didn’t show any other sign of being afraid.

She liked him.

“He was my friend.”

The little boy blinked his large blue eyes slowly, surveying her, his expression still a strange blend of interest and sad pity.

“What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you ever answer when people talk to you?”

Mia’s eyes darted up at her and her head slowly followed. She could see the muscles under the skin in the girl’s exposed neck tensing in anger, her posture stiffening slightly. The little boy glanced up at her and then back at Mia.

“You can talk!” the girl shouted. Her fingers curled into fists, her knuckles whitened. “Say something!”

“What?” Mia replied, her attention now focusing on the sinews in the girl’s neck shifting as she swallowed.

“I know you aren’t one of God’s creations,” the girl replied with a slight jerk of her head, her voice shaking slightly. Her ponytail swished around behind her for a second but quickly came to a stop. “But if you turn to him, he will accept you like any of his children. You can be good and you will be forgiven. How you were created doesn’t matter. Everybody is the same before God. I don’t know why you do the… things you do. Maybe you… you’ve got demons inside of you or… something.”

The way the girl’s gaze shifted as she said the last sentence betrayed undeniable scepticism. She didn’t really believe there were any demons. Mia could tell. That girl was confused and bitter, and had never gotten to Mia much, not even last year when she had been a lot more violent and actually punched her or the times when she had screamed about the eternal fires of Hell. It was the boy that bothered her more, that boy who wasn’t like the other cronies. The way he looked at her, sad, pitying.

“There is no God,” Mia just replied, watching both the girl and the boy. The girl flinched at the words, as if she had just been stung. The boy closed his eyes for a moment, ever-so-slightly shaking his head, knowingly, like it was Mia who was the one with the empty faith in imaginary friends in the sky. Something about it irritated her. Why was she to be pitied? She liked that boy. He wasn’t supposed to irritate her.

“Leave me alone,” she said, looking straight at him. He looked back at her and then stepped slowly forward. Mia’s arms automatically twitched into a defensive position, ready to slash, despite the wooden sheath bound around her forearms that covered her small blades from wrist to elbow and rendered them harmless. The boy didn’t blink. His eyes looked straight at hers, searched them, flicking now and then to the bony horns sticking out of her green hair and the sheathed blades on her arms.

“Get away from me,” she growled, her arm twitching. She would have hit him, except that she still liked him and didn’t want to.

“I feel sorry for you,” he told her, unblinking. Mia saw the brown-haired girl jerk her head down toward the boy, her bitter expression blending with surprise.

The boy took another step.

Mia jerked her arm towards him, but another girl from the group with the same blond hair and slightly smaller blue eyes, most likely his sister, pulled him back and jumped in front of him so that the sheath covering Mia’s scythe hit the side of her arm instead. There wasn’t much force in the blow and the girl wasn’t hurt, but she gave Mia just the expression that she had found most typical of the Nutjobs in her time dealing with them.

“Listen, you freak,” she said as she threw Mia’s arm away, standing so close to her that Mia could smell the blood rushing to her face, “I know you can’t hurt anyone with that on your scythes, but we’re going to get you out of this school, no matter what. You contaminate it with evil. You should be locked up somewhere away from real people where you can’t hurt them, and…”

Without thinking, Mia bared her teeth and snarled, a reaction that to her felt more natural than she knew it ought to. The girl recoiled slightly, clenching her jaws. “You can’t hurt us,” she repeated under her breath, more to herself than to Mia. “You can’t hurt us. They put that on your arms so you couldn’t.”

Mia knew it was a bad idea, but she growled, jerked her left hand up to the leather straps tying the sheath to her right hand and began to tear wildly at them. The Nutjobs took only a fraction of a second to realize what she was doing and immediately turned around to speed up to the school building. The blond-haired girl had to practically drag her brother with them.

She ripped the sheath fully off and felt the cool air around her exposed scythe. It felt good. The blade itched for something to cut, but the Nutjobs were already gone.

She looked around, straight into the eyes of the teacher currently on watch who was standing by the wall a few meters away, his face pale and sweaty as he picked up his cellphone and dialled what she knew to be Dave’s number.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes to calm down, shaking her head to clear it, but it was already too late.

-------

“Mr. Ambrose, surely you can understand that this is unacceptable.”

“I don’t see why this is any worse than what happened before.”

The principal’s office was not very big, and the crammed bookshelves that always threatened to collapse and the deathly still, heavy, red curtains in front of the firmly shut windows gave it a distinctly claustrophobic atmosphere that had made her despise the room the moment she had first set foot into it. She was sitting on one of the chairs in the corner with her bare, clawed feet up on the other, examining the blades that poked out through her skin just below her wrists while the men talked it over. She heard the principal sigh.

“Mr. Ambrose, this is the third time this has happened. The first time you assured us it was a one-time occurrence and would never happen again. The second, you told us that for safety we could put on that sheath which would protect any students from potential unconscious outbursts. But now this, too, has proven futile. We have multiple eyewitnesses who will readily swear that she simply took the sheaths off and all that saved her fellow students was that while she was doing so they had time to flee. Surely you cannot expect us to keep her at this school even after this. It is clearly only a matter of time before she murders someone. Frankly I’m afraid of her.” He lowered his voice, apparently having deluded himself into thinking her hearing wasn’t that much better than an ordinary human being’s. “I wouldn’t dare take her into this office if you weren’t here too, to be honest. The teachers are afraid of teaching her classes. More than one student has come in and expressed great concern or even wish to leave the school.” Not that it mattered that she heard it. She had noticed all of that already.

She poked the sharp corner of the scythe right at the elbow where it was widest, just before it sharply turned back into her arm and rejoined the bone. A trickle of crimson blood from her fingertip travelled down the blade and started to glide off her elbow. She wiped it carefully off with the finger it had come from and licked it off from there. She’d always enjoyed the heavy, metallic taste of it.

“You’re not getting it,” Dave’s irritated voice replied. “They provoked her. Nobody in their right mind would provoke a half-Scyther. It’s their own damned fault, if you ask me.”

“All the more reason not to allow half-Scyther into this school, don’t you think?”

“She has a right to education.”

“Of course she does, but if she can’t function among other students, her education may have to be carried out in her private home where she can be kept under control.”

A fly buzzed close to her and landed on the wall. Mia’s eyes automatically followed it as it crawled upwards in vain hopes of finding open air. She raised her arm slowly.

WHAM.

Dave and the principal jerked their heads around in surprise, abruptly ceasing their conversation. She pulled the short blade out of the wall it had sunk slightly into, letting the two halves of the fly fall down on either side of the resulting crack as a subconscious smile flickered across her face.

It took only a moment for her mind to snap back into human manners, her eyes flicking back to the crack and then to the elderly man in the blue suit standing pale-faced behind the desk. “I didn’t like it,” she just said.

Dave looked at her for an awkward second and then turned quickly back to the principal. “Eh.”

“We are not going to have her at this school anymore, Mr. Ambrose,” Mr. Rogers said, watching Mia. He had always been a man who had contained his fear relatively well. He may have been gripping the edge of the desk so tightly that his knuckles whitened, and a bead of sweat was trickling down the side of his forehead, perhaps or perhaps not just because the room was awfully hot for at least her liking, but his voice remained steady and his expression determined. “Please leave. This decision is final. She cannot function at a public school, and you know it as well as I do, Mr. Ambrose.”

Dave licked his lips nervously for a second, his gaze travelling a few times from her to the principal and back to her.

“Let’s just go,” he finally said, offering his hand to Mia. She had always liked it, the way he offered his hand. He did it sincerely and fearlessly, the muscles in his fingers occasionally twitching in protest but his mind inevitably successful in forcing them under control and maintaining the gesture. There was something intrinsically trustworthy in it, more so than in most other people, whose revulsion at the idea of touching her was generally far more obvious. She took his hand and stood up, letting him lead her out of the office and slam the door stubbornly at their backs.

Oh, yes, she liked Dave.

They walked out of the school building to his shiny white car and he walked over to the driver’s seat while she silently opened the door on the passenger side and got in.

“Watch the seat, Mia, watch the seat…” Dave muttered as he closed the door on his side.

She looked on either side of her elbows, where the sharp points at the end of her scythes had created a pattern of small holes and tears in the leather through the years, making sure the blades didn’t touch it as she buckled the seat belt.

Dave started the engine and drove off the sidewalk where he had carelessly parked the car. He sighed, looking briefly at her with his blue eyes.

“It was the Nutjobs again,” she said.

Dave snorted. “It’s always them, isn’t it? Fucking assholes, constantly shoving their religion down people’s throats. I’ve known too many people like that in my life. Complete retards, all of them.”

Mia nodded dully.

“So what was their latest theory about your origins? Have they done demonic possession yet?”

She didn’t answer. He looked at her again.

“There was a boy,” she said. “I liked him.”

Dave raised his eyebrows. “What, did he think you were just a lesser imp and not Satan himself?”

She shook her head absent-mindedly. Dave was peering through the windshield as he turned round a corner and didn’t notice.

“Don’t listen to them. I’ve told you, they’re batshit insane. You’d get more sense out of Babelfishing a Kadabra on crack. Just don’t even try.”

She didn’t understand them. Religious faith just didn’t make any sense. She couldn’t feel angry at them, like Dave did. Just baffled at their existence. Why they would want to believe in something they had no evidence for. It was just something she couldn’t wrap her head around.

“Goddamn kids,” Dave swore under his breath as a group of children scattered from the street in front of them.

“I don’t get it,” she muttered.

“What?”

“Religion.”

“That’s because unlike those nutsos you’ve got some sense in your head.”

“My parents believe in God too.”

Dave pretended not to have heard her for a few seconds. She watched a fly sit down on the back of his neck. If she slashed at it she could accidentally cut his head off. Haha. Oops.

But she liked him, so she didn’t actually do it. And even if she hadn’t liked him, there would have been complications. Too obvious who did it. No good Pokémorph sympathizers left to defend her in court. Somebody would point out her mental age of sixteen and say she was responsible for her actions. Everybody else would agree because they wanted to get rid of her. ‘That fly was getting on my nerves’ had never worked well for her. Jail. Tiny cell with stale air. Nothing decent to eat. It just wouldn’t pay.

He turned back to her. The fly took off and instead settled on the car window on his side. “Well, at least your parents don’t take it so damned seriously.”

She nodded and looked out the window.

“Hey, uh, want a hotdog?”

She shrugged.

“Great,” Dave replied and turned round the next corner.

-------

Howard Kerrigan was doing the dishes when he got the feeling that Lucy was standing behind him. She had a wonderful knack for being quiet and sneaking up on people, but she hadn’t yet tamed her abilities enough to stop a faint psychic signal from pushing gently at those she approached, alerting them of her presence.

He turned around, glanced at her and smiled. “Something bothering you?”

She looked up at him with wide, innocent eyes.

“Daddy, am I an abomination?”

He turned around and stared at her, pushing away the trace of hypnotic power in her eyes. “What? No. Who told you that?”

She pointed at the window above the kitchen sink. “There’s a guy with a sign outside in front of the door.”

Howard looked back at the window, and indeed, there was a man standing on the sidewalk outside the front door holding a sign that said simply ‘VISIONS 21.5’.

He ripped off his rubber gloves and ran to the front door. “Hey!” he shouted heatedly as he opened it, running towards the man. “Don’t you dare stand here giving my daughter ideas! Get away from my house right now!”

The protestor looked at him. It was a young man with pale skin and dark hair that would have been handsome if not for the icy coldness in his light blue eyes. Howard fleetingly recognized him as one of the scariest fundamentalists from church, somebody Daniels. He shivered.

“Get away from my house,” he repeated sternly. “You are not welcome here.”

“Realize what you have done and repent,” Daniels said in a quiet, cold voice. “The Pokémorphs are abominations before the Lord. He will make you pay for their creation, sooner or later. You will regret that He ever let you be born.”

“Get off my property now.”

A crazy glint appeared in the man’s piercing eyes. “He has already chosen His instruments. Those of true faith have received their calling. You will be punished.”

“I told you to leave.”

A smile flickered across Daniels’ features. “The rabbit who refuses to hear of the fox,” he said, “will regret it only when she wanders into his lair.”

Howard returned his icy stare for a second. He felt cold.

“Very well, Howard,” Daniels said quietly. “I see you cannot be persuaded.”

“Not by you. Go away.”

Daniels opened his mouth, but then flicked his eyes to the side. Howard looked to see Dave’s white car pull into their driveway. Both doors opened, and Dave and Mia stepped out. Mia glanced dully at Daniels while Dave pointed at the door to indicate that they needed to talk inside.

“Excuse me,” Howard said coldly to Daniels and walked to the door to meet them.

He took a last glance over his shoulder as he turned the key. Daniels looked at Dave with the creepiest grin Howard had ever seen, and then turned slowly around to walk down the street, still holding the daunting sign above his head.

Page last modified July 14 2017 at 16:44 GMT