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Contest Entry Player ID: 23268 (The Weight Of Pain)
The Weight Of Pain
"Get outta here, ya bum!" yelled a teenager as he threw a crumpled soda can at the homeless man. Bolstered by each other's presence, he and his friends laughed and continued to mock the 30s something looking man in his ratted up coat and undersized clothes obviously meant for someone much younger. As he turned to look at them before shying away, he thought he knew them. They looked like some boys he had gone to school with. He gave them a meek smile and a nod. "Sorry. Sorry." he could be heard saying before quickly moving on down the street and away from them.
Matty looked into the window of a restaurant he was passing. Everything was so neat and clean. The waiters, with their black ties, serving couples dressed in evening wear the likes of which he had only ever seen on people he did not know. What it would be like to dine in such a place, to eat such wondrous meals his mouth could only ever dream to taste. Just once. "Just once I wish I knew what it was like to be a like normal person. To have a normal life. " Matty said quietly to himself. "Just once."
Matty's fantasy was interrupted by the low rumble from his stomach that reminded him he must get moving. He might not be able to eat a fancy meal at a fancy restaurant, but if he hurried, he should still have time to get in line at the soup kitchen three blocks down. Pushing himself away from the window, he hurried on his way.
After making it to the kitchen, he grabbed a tray and waited in line. The servers gave Matty a bowl of rice and gravy with a conservative amount of chicken mixed in. It smelled a little funny, but it was better than nothing.
Matty heard a bit of commotion coming from the door as he sat down to eat his meal. A little elderly woman, who was visibly upset, frantically begged for something to eat. The staff had told her that she was too late and that all the food was gone. Matty had only just made it a few people ahead of her. He looked down at his food as his stomach rumbled once more, before looking back up to the woman. Frowning a little to himself, he got up out of his seat and took his tray to her.
"Here, mam." he said as he handed it to her. "I ate some scraps from a fancy steak house earlier. I'm not really that hungry." Matty lied to her.
"Are you sure?" asked the old lady.
Matty just smiled and nodded in his way before leaving the kitchen in search of food elsewhere. Maybe there really would be some scraps at the dumpster of that restaurant he had passed earlier. There was always hope, right?
After an unsuccessful search, Matty headed back to the underpass where he and many other vagrants from around town camped out for the night. The crowd was always changing. Always there were some new faces as older ones disappeared. But today there was a visitor he didn't expect to see here.
"Have you seen this boy?" she asked as she showed a picture to his camp neighbors. Tears crept into the corners of his eyes as he turned away before she saw him. It had been only a few months since he had seen her last, but he knew she wouldn't recognize him. He was so different now than when she remembered. He didn't want her to see him like this. Covering his head with the hood of his jacket, he walked away and hid behind a freeway support pillar waiting for her to leave. Seeing her brought back memories of how he got here in the first place.
He and his mother had just returned from the hospital after some tests. The doctors told her that he had an unknown condition brought on by morphon exposure. Like many of the morphon enhanced people he'd heard of and seen on TV and the News, Matty had powers. No one could say what the extent of his powers were, nor did anyone want to find out. They varied greatly from super strength to telekinesis to telepathy. But his powers came with a curse as well. Each time Matty used his "gifts" he aged physically. Sometimes it was only a little. Other times Matty aged a year or two after expressing his powers. Each use shortened his life span and robbed him of his youth.
While Matty sat in his room with a book, his mother broke the news to his father. It wasn't a good time. His father was drunk as usual and Matty could hear the tell tale sign of things crashing as his father threw them at the walls of the house.
"DAMMIT, Sue!" Matty could hear him screaming at his mom. "Do you realize how much this is going to cost us?" Something else hit a wall and shattered.
"Jim, we can make it work!" she pleaded. "I can get a second job."
"Does it have medical insurance that will cover the costs of all his doctor bills we're going to have to pay????" he yelled at her. "I work my @$$ off! AND FOR WHAT? So this FREAK can suck it all away? What about special schools? Who's gonna pay for that, Sue???? You? You can't even afford to pay for yourself! You're living off me too!"
"Please, Jim." she begged. "Please don't be like this. He'll hear you."
"I don't care if he hears me!" Jim yelled back. "He's not my son! He's just a freak! That's no son of mine! You had an affair with one of those super freaks behind my back, didn't you, Sue????"
Jim raised his hand to strike her before Matty intervened and tackled him to the ground. Throwing Matty off him, he then straddled Matty's chest before laying punch after punch into Matty's face. Matty could see his mother's hands as she tried to wedge her way between them.
"JIM, NO! DON'T!!!!" she screamed as she tried to separate them, before Jim backhanded her across the face and sent her reeling backwards.
"YOU LEAVE HER ALONE!!!!" Matty screamed as his eyes began to glow bright white.
"NO MATTY! NO! The doctor told you not to!" he could hear his mother screaming at him as tunnel vision consumed him and all he could see was the look of disgust on his father's face. With a yell, Matty released a beam of white energy at his father, blasting him into a wall.
As the bright light faded, Matty stood there, steam rolling off his body. His was taller now. His hair and nails had grown too. An intense pain gripped his jaws just before he spit out two of his back molars covered in blood. Reaching into his mouth he felt around and discovered two new molars where the old ones had been. He looked around confused before hearing his father grunt as he pushed himself up off the floor.
Jim looked at Matty again with disgust, yelling at him as he threw the closest objects he could find.
"Get out of my house, you worthless freak!" Matty heard him scream as he ran out the door. "Yeah! Get out of here! I don't ever want to see your face again!"
Sue was in a derelict side of town looking for her son, Matty, who had run away only a couple months back. She was showing his picture to the destitute homeless hoping one of them had maybe seen him. She had about given up for the day when she saw a man in a dingy coat that she hadn't noticed before, walking away from behind a pillar. Maybe he'd seen her Matty.
She ran to follow him, yelling out, "Sir! Sir! Excuse me, sir! I'm looking for my son, Matty. Perhaps you've seen him?"
"I haven't seen your son, mam." he said as he rushed away with his back turned to her.
"Could you please just look at this picture?" she pleaded.
"I don't know any Matty, mam. Please just leave me alone." the man said as he quickly walked away.
Frustrated and defeated, Sue turned and headed back the way she had come, stopping occasionally to staple fliers with her missing Matty's face on it, anywhere she could. It was a long walk back to her small one bedroom apartment she had recently rented out after leaving her abusive husband, but she didn't have a car and any money she might have had for the bus was used making fliers for her missing son. Sue leaned on a wall to take a rest for a minute. Her feet were so sore, and the search for her son these last few months had taken a toll on her.
Suddenly, emergency sirens started blaring. As she looked up, she could see several supers flying in the direction of the Hollywood Hills. Others were watching too. Many started taking out their phones, some filming and others frantically searching online for information on what was happening.
"Arx is back!" someone yelled to the rest of the crowd. "He's threatening to hold the city hostage again! BADGE is calling in all units!"
Sue glanced back towards where she had seen the supers flying. The battle was too far off in the distance for her to see what was happening, but the sparks and blasts of power could be seen all over the city like a fireworks show on the grandest of scales. There was one great blinding explosion that seemed to rock the very ground around her as its glare temporarily stole all vision from her. She covered her eyes with her hands until the strobe of light faded. Blinking sporadically, she tried to reattain her sense of surroundings as her vision slowly began to return and refocus. Too late she saw the sudden danger she was in.
Coming at her at breakneck speed was one of the lifeless supers that had been sent to engage Arx, his crumpled body unconsciously hurling towards her. There was no time to move. No time to save herself. That's when she saw him, the man that had hurried to get away from her earlier. She could still see the blur of his dingy coat as her vision strained to catch up with his movement. Momentarily, he glanced back at her as he stopped to position himself between her and the airborne lifeless body headed her direction. His eyes glowed bright white and energy crackled from his body as the other super froze in midair. A streak of white hair appeared out of nowhere among the homeless man's previously full brown locks.
"Matty?" she asked as he turned his focus towards several more objects flying their way.
More supers were being flung across the skies by Arx. Crashing into streets and buildings, their dead or unconscious bodies were acting like mortar shells across the city, ripping it into pieces. Three more supers were thrown into a building just above Sue. She could hear the screams of the other pedestrians around her as the building collapsed from above them. But the walls of the building never landed on people below. Instead, they merely floated there. She looked again at the man who had saved her as he strained to use his powers to keep the building from falling on the pedestrians. The pain of his efforts could be seen as his eyes creased and stress lines wrinkled his face.
"RUN!" she yelled at the crowd of people. "Run while you can!"
As the crowd dispersed towards safety, she could see the man start to falter. The lines of stress were now replaced by permanent age lines. His hair had turned white and thin and his muscles looked tired and frail.
She ran to him screaming, "MATTY!" as he collapsed to his knees.
The bricks of the building he had been holding up crashed to the ground all around him, but he used the last of his strength to shield Sue and himself. She held his tired body to her, cradling his head with her arms.
"SOMEONE! SOMEONE, PLEASE HELP!!!!" Sue screamed. "SOMEONE HELP HIM!!!!"
"Hi, Mom." Matty said to her as she looked down at him and stroked the loose hair from his face.. "I'm sorry for all the trouble I caused."
"It's not your fault, baby." she said. "You just hush and rest. Someone will help us soon. SOMEONE HELP US!!!!"
"I'm sorry I wasn't enough." Matty whispered weakly. "I love you, Mom."
"I love you too, Matty." she gently whispered. "You were always enough. You were always more than enough, Matty. You saved all these people, my beautiful baby boy. You were the best thing that ever happened to me, hunny! Shh! You rest now. You can finally have your peace, baby. You earned it...... HELP US!!!!"
Matty felt his mothers tears fall onto his face. He smiled weakly one last time as his last breath escaped his lips and he died an old man in her arms. She rocked his lifeless body back and forth as the tears cascaded from her eyes. Looking to the sky in the direction of the battle waging between Arx and the members of BADGE, she screamed the long anguished wale of a woman who had just lost the only person that mattered to her.
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