Wed, 14 Jun 2000
D Benway <d_benway@yahoo.com>
XMANSON [4/5]


X-Manson

4 Salem Centre (1985-1988)

D Benway

 

There is no more food left in the apartment. She looks down at her belly, which bulges almost as if she is pregnant. She has lived in this room for over ten years, and has never menstruated once in all that time.


[Caption: Victor Creed]

Int: What do you know of the other enforcers besides Logan?

VC: We only know a little. Logan and Rasputin and Cable all came from the gray region that exists at the boundary between the forces of law and what one might call the criminal establishment.

Int: Where did Piotr Rasputin come from?

VC: He was Russian, and spent his early childhood on the far side of the Urals. That we can tell from his accent. From his abilities, he may have been raised in one of the closed cities there, and exposed to radiation at an early age. The Russians were never all that good at dealing with radioactive waste in the early days of their atomic energy program. Then again, his mutation might have come about from natural sources like uranium in the water.

Int: And his sister?

VC: Odd business, that. It is my understanding that none of the DNA from the bodies found at the site matched with Rasputin's, even after allowing for statistical error. This so-called sister may have been adopted, or something else. Without a recording of her voice, it is impossible to determine if she was even Russian.

Int: What about Cable?

VC: That is a true mystery. His background is as obscure as Xavier's. Neither I nor anyone else have any idea when or where they first met, or when Cable came to the School. I know that Cable and his Six-Pack did mercenary work for the French and the Americans in Vietnam, Algeria, and Guatemala before the UN resolved those conflicts, and that there is some evidence that Cable worked in the United States before the passage of all those amendments.

Int: Was he American?

VC: No idea. The man was a blank slate. We believe that he killed almost everyone who knew anything of his background. Of his original mercenary band, only one survives, and you'll have a lot of trouble getting to her.

[Shot of a wiry woman in an orange prison jumpsuit. Her face is small and round and may once have been pretty. She is very, very pale, but has a jailhouse tattoo that completely surrounds one eye. She is in manacles. The walls are white-painted cinder-block.]

[Caption: Domino, Federal Super-Maximum Security Penitentiary, Lexington KY]

D: This is the first time I've ever had a visitor. You must have some really powerful friends.

Int: How long have you been in here?

D: Twelve years.

Int: Your first guest in twelve years.

D: Can't comment on prison policy.

Int: Your indictment remains sealed under the Federal Act for Racketeering & Terrorism Prevention. Can you say something about what brought you here?

D: Well, our precious constitution says I can talk about it, but, if I do, they'll throw me in solitary for the next year. Besides, if I did, they'd have to kill you.

Int: Surely you exaggerate.

D: That's all I'm saying about it.

Int: If what you did was so terrible, why didn't they kill you?

D: Because they need to know some things that I know. I get to live as long as I can tell them what they want to know. After that, I'll commit suicide. Maybe I'm doing it right now. Maybe you are, too.

Int: What can you tell me about Cable?

D: Best times I ever had, hanging with him. Never a dull moment, I tell ya.

Int: Where was he born?

D: Depended on the time of day. Sometimes he was from the future, sometimes he was from the past. He'd say he was from some place called Canaan, not the one in Connecticut or the one in the Mideast. He'd disappear sometimes and when he came back he'd say he'd flown his personal space station to the future.

Int: Sounds a little implausible.

D: He was fucking nuts. Anyone who said that was toast, but he knew we were all thinking it. As long as you didn't say nothing, everything was just fine.

Int: Did you ever make a guess at where he might have grown up?

D: Never could place that accent. He said everyone who knew him as a child was dead, and I never saw any reason that wouldn't be true. He was old enough that he might've seen World War 2, but I could never tell if any of the languages he knew was his first. Sometimes he'd talk in this language of the future, but it sounded like that shit you hear at revival meetings, you know?

Int: Speaking in tongues.

D: Yeah. He had a real thing about the new testament. He'd quote it when we were killing people.

Int: What did you do when you were in his employ?

D: Killed people.

Int: Where?

D: Oh, everywhere.

Int: Why?

D: Dunno. Paid well, it was fun, couldn't find anything to watch on TV.

Int: Were you in Viet Nam?

D: We did jobs that no-one wanted to take the shit for, there and other places. We were deniable. We weren't there to be heroes.

Int: What was he like in combat?

D: Best fighter I've ever seen. He'd read their minds, right through any anti-psi protection they had. He was a crack shot, and no-one could hit him because of the force fields. Course, if you were outside the shield envelope you might get caught in the crossfire. I never did, so he kept me as his lucky charm.

Int: Were you close to him?

D: If you mean did he fuck me, yeah, he fucked me. Everyone else too. No orifice was sacred after we won a fight. Hell, only compromise we could get with him was that we made him promise to do us before he started on the dead.

Int: Excuse me, I do believe I'm going to be sick.

[Evidence of a cut]

D: Feels better, doesn't it?

Int: Yes, quite. I'm afraid we only have only a limited amount of time. Did he ever give any clues as to what his real name might have been?

D: He liked using other names. Nathan was one. He was really keen on Joseph, for some reason.

Int: Do you think-

D: Naw, he used it because it was the father of Jesus, or kind of. He had this thing about being a messiah. It never really made much sense, so I don't know if he was supposed to be the messiah or the messiah's dad. He kept going on about how he had to kill Apocalypse.

Int: Kill the Apocalypse?

D: No, kill Apocalypse. That's what he called En Sabah Nur.

Int: He called the Secretary-General `Apocalypse'?

D: Yeah. Apocalypse and his four horsemen were going to be toast.

Int: Who were they?

D: Well, War was Lehnsherr. Fuck, was he bad for business. Famine was Lehnsherr's wife, pestilence was that bitch who ran the World Health Organization-

Int: Amelia Voght?

D: Yeah. He was never too clear on who Death was supposed to be. Sometimes it was that Senator who got his head ripped off, sometimes it was that guy Cohn-Bendit who was running the European Commission, sometimes it was someone called the Professor.

Int: Was this before or after he went to the School?

D: Before. It kind of got worse after he went to the School. After he went there, it kind of killed the Six-Pack.

Int: You broke apart?

D: You could say that. We went to the School and he shot all the others except me.

Int: Why did he spare you?

D: Dunno. He was nuts.

Int: Could your companions be among those who were found in the lake but remain unidentified?

D: Naw. We had them for dinner.

Int: What?

D: Doesn't taste like chicken. Not really. We ate the meat and they boiled the bones for soup. All the non-meaty bits got ground up and made into pate and wieners that they served on the School open-house day.

Int: Oh God I'm going to-

[Evidence of a cut in the tape]

D: I got no idea why they'd have someone with a weak gut covering a story like this.

Int: I live nearby. I'm doing a favour for someone whom I formerly thought of as a friend.

D: Great. If I break out I'll come for dinner.

Int: Er-

D: Did you want to ask me anything else?

Int: How did he act, I mean, at the School, did he, er-

D: Like I said, after he got to the School, he got worse. He got this real weird fixation with this guy with red glasses and this woman with red hair. He started to say they were his parents, even though he could have been their dad. That's when he started calling himself Nathan all the time.

Int: The, um, Xavier-

D: He'd shut up when Xavier said anything. We'd never seen that before. I think Xavier was able to get inside his head, or maybe it was the other way around. It was creepy, they'd talk at the same time sometimes, complete each other's sentences.

Int: How could, I mean, if they were in public, could they-

D: He'd stay in the basement of the School, most of the time. If he did go out, it would be in a van with no windows or something. If there weren't too many people around, he could walk right up to people and they wouldn't see him. He'd stomp people's dogs when they were out walking them, and they wouldn't even notice. One minute, happy pupper, next minute, carcass on a string. He used to get a real kick out of that.

Int: The way it ended. Any other way?

D: Doubt it.

[Shot of a rangy, extraordinarily tough-looking woman with a black eye-patch. She looks like a biker chick who hasn't quite figured out that she's dressed like a stereotypical butch lesbo.]

[Caption: Callisto, Salem Centre, NY]

C: You don't use the word ghetto to describe this place, right? We got no rules. Anyone can live here.

Int: Is it not true that over 90% of your inhabitants are mutants?

C: Well, yeah, but the others aren't. This is an open Libertarian community, even to the Eloi who we name after the characters from HG Wells' novel the Time Machine.

Int: Why did you come to live here?

C: 'Cause it's cheap. Gives me a big kick to live in an Eloi house.

Int: Why do you call yourselves Morlocks?

C: We call ourselves Morlocks, just like the characters out of the novel the Time Machine by HG Wells. We do all the work so the nice Eloi can live out their lives in luxury.

Int: It was my understanding that most of you were unemployed.

C: You wanna be smart? You want me to kick your face in?

Int: I'm just making a point.

C: Well, we'd do the work if anyone let us. We're the ones who can't pass.

Int: So the Kelly Amendment had little effect on your lives?

C: Didn't give us 40 acres and a mule, if that's what you mean. Now if the cops and the feds come down here to kick butt we've got something to fight them with.

Int: Did you come here because of the School?

C: Kinda, but not really . We came here because it was cheap, and it was cheap because of the School.

[Shot of a portly middle-aged man in the world's last yellow and brown plain polyester sport coat worn as a serious fashion item instead of an expression of hipness.]

[Caption: William Loman Jr, Insurance Agent, Rye, NY]

WL: I used to work in Salem Centre. Used to be a really nice town.

Int: What happened?

WL: Mutants. I'm not supposed to say that now, am I?

Int: Don't worry about it. Weren't there mutants in the town before the School?

WL: Well, sure, but if they were deformed, people kept them out of sight, sent them to a hospital or a residential school or something.

Int: The School For Gifted Children was a residential school.

WL: Yeah, but it was where people lived, like as in real close. I mean like those schools that they've got up on the St. Lawrence or up by Lake Placid.

Int: The School had no obvious mutants.

WL: The point was that they came into town. We used to have 4 bars in town. Good family places where you take the kids. These guys from the School, Logan and Rasputin, start showing up and getting real drunk, even on weeknights. At first, they kept to themselves. Then one day the Russkie picks a fight with some guy up from the city who turns out to be like the hulk strength-wise and they take out the bar, the hair salon next door, and the front window of the supermarket across the street. I'd written the policies on all of them, but I'd been smart and I knew what was coming. I mean, Staten Island in 1955 was a great place to live, but today, it's all mutants. Just about every single one of them. I made all my clients take out riders if they wanted protection from mutant damage. No payouts at all.

Int: What were the consequences?

WL: I got to see Xavier for the first time. He brought a suitcase of cash to the Town Meeting and paid for all the damages. He also brought lots of food.

Int: Good pate?

WL: Really great pate.

Int: Were any charges pressed?

WL: No, kinda weird that no-one did. Guess they just took the money and ran. Maybe he was fucking with their heads. Dunno.

Int: What happened after that?

WL: Didn't see anyone from the School for about three months. Then we lost two more bars. I made some money on mutant damage waivers for a while, but then people just decided to give up and move out. When the supermarket got hit in the middle of the afternoon, everyone started shopping in Bedford. They closed the supermarket, and by Christmas half the stores downtown were empty and the place was starting to look like Harlem used to look. I lost a ton of money, so I upped and moved to Rye. The only bar in the area was this biker hangout called Harry's, and he only kept his place open by letting S&M types know about it.

Int: People went there to get beaten up?

WL: Yeah. As word got out, so many people left that a quarter of the houses were vacant. Vanderbylt moved in bought most of them up on the cheap.

Int: Henry Vanderbylt?

WL: That's the one.

[Shot of Henry Vanderbylt]

HV: I didn't buy those properties. I'm merely a board member of a company that did.

Int: We have SEC documents here stating that you are the majority shareholder in the New Salem Housing Corporation.

HV: I was a passive investor. I sold out several months ago.

Int: Who owns the numbered company that bought it?

HV: No idea.

[Shot of William Loman Jr]

WL: He still owns the place, like his ancestors did. People were lucky if they got a quarter on the dollar for what they paid for their houses.

Int: New Salem then rented the houses?

WL: Yeah, to anyone who would rent them. In the hills, it was parents with mutant kids. In the middle of town, it was the kind that you didn't see a lot of in public. A lot of them were criminal types. We started seeing the FBI and the Sheriff in here all the time.

Int: How much does New Salem own?

WL: In town, everything.

Int: Everything?

WL: Every store, every house. Everything. Even the gas stations. They run the only food store in town.

[Shot of a grim looking middle-aged white guy who looks like he last smiled during the McCarthy administration.]

[Caption: Willard Whipple, Food Store Manager, Salem Centre NY]

WW: I run this store. Stop squeezing that.

Int: Do you own the store?

WW: I run it.

Int: Who owns it?

WW: The owner.

Int: Who is the owner?

WW: Salem Food Stores.

Int: You're listed as the managing partner.

WW: Yes.

Int: So you must know who the owner is.

WW: Yes.

Int: But it isn't you.

WW: No.

Int: But the owner decides on the prices?

WW: After a fashion.

Int: The milk here is more expensive than it is in Manhattan.

WW: I charge what the market will bear.

Int: But almost everyone here lives in deep poverty.

WW: I charge what the market will bear.

Int: Why are five of the six aisles in the store filled with beer and wine and liquor?

WW: I don't like the tone of your questions. Get out.

[Shot of William Loman Jr]

WL: You used to see shops like that in Harlem, before the guaranteed annual income. This is one of the few places that still has them.

Int: Would you come back, now that the School's closed?

WL: You nuts? No way. No way I'd live anywhere near that place. Don't know how anyone could.

[Shot of Callisto]

Int: Do you enjoy living here?

C: Shit yeah, it's better than some places I've lived in.

Int: Like?

C: The sewer.

Int: Ah. I understand that you have some authority in Salem Centre.

C: I lead the Morlocks, who are named after the characters in HG Wells' novel The Time Machine. Nothing happens here without my say-so.

Int: Then we have your permission to conduct the interviews in town?

C: Shit, yeah.

[Shot: Two young men of obvious Native American ancestry. They are huge.]

[Caption: John & James Proudstar, The Hearth Social Services Centre, Salem Centre NY]

James: Did she tell you how we're all Morlocks, named after the characters in HG Wells' novel the Time Machine?

John: A great many of the people in this community had very rough lives. There's a lot of serious headcases living here. I wish you'd come to us first.

James: You're lucky. Last camera crew, she said her thing but said War of the Worlds instead of The Time Machine and when they corrected her she beat the crap out of them.

Int: Really.

John: She's superhumanly good at hand-to-hand combat. Used to be a Marine until her first psychotic episode.

Int: You were both graduates of the Massachusetts Academy.

James. Yeah. Great place.

John: James graduated the year before they closed it down. Fuckers.

Int: Who finances this centre?

James: Doug Ramsey gives us most of our funds.

Int: How long has the centre been open?

John: Since they closed that hellhole down.

James: We were here before that, though. Keeping an eye on the place. We're resistant.

John: We kind of settled here, just in case.

Int: Did Emma Frost encourage you?

James: Hell no. She freaked when we told her.

John: It was James' idea. If someone tried to get out, we'd be there. Kind of like the Underground Railroad. We got jobs here. I worked in the Family Services office, and James worked in the Parks and Recreation Department.

James: He got to look at the inside, I got to see the outside of the real ugliness that's here. Hard to tell which was harder to bear.

John: People were on best behaviour when they came to see me.

James: I had to see all the fights in the street, had to mow the lawn in the park in front of the School. Had to wear a gas mask when I did that for most of the summer.

Int: Why?

James: Place stank. Any time the wind came past the house into town in summer, it cleared the streets. Guess we now know why.

Int: Didn't you try to summon the authorities?

James: Yeah. Fuck all happened though.

John: We made complaints and nothing ever happened.

James: We think they were in some heads up in Albany and in White Plains. Either that or the Feds were holding them off.

John: We couldn't complain too much, or else it would have attracted too much attention.

James: Still think we should have made more noise.

John: Being in the bottom of that lake would not have been a good death.

James: Says you.

Int: But you must have known what the smell was.

John: We knew what most of it was, because we didn't have toilets in some of the places where we grew up.

James: Guess we just didn't want to think about what the rest of it was.

John: We knew that from the rez too. We saw our main job as watching, keeping track of things, being there in case anybody would want to get out.

Int: Did you think that there were any government operations that you didn't know about?

John: Oh yeah. There were at least four attempts to put an observation post in here. Logan and Rasputin took care of all of them.

Int: Didn't the agents have any protection against psis?

John: Yeah, but that didn't protect them against the neighbours.

Int: The psis in the School were watching the neighbours?

John: Maybe, but they didn't have to.

James: A lot of people came here because it was relatively safe for the mutants who couldn't hide, but some came because of the rumours about the School.

Int: What sort of rumours?

John: That it was the place that the revolution would come from. A revolution that would put mutants in charge. There were all these rumours about a mutant messiah, who would come and deliver them all.

Int: Did these people come and go from the School?

James: Hardly anyone came and went from the School who didn't live there. Sometimes people went, but didn't come back. No, the believers went to our competition.

John: The Xavier Centre. They changed the sign to Liberation Centre, but everyone still calls it the Xavier Centre.

Int: Was it run by Xavier?

James: They always denied it, saying he just put up the money, but that bitch who runs it always used to be down at the School.

John: She was one of the few of them who didn't live there.

Int: What did the centre do?

James: Same things we do. Give food to the hungry, arrange clinic visits, talk people out of killing themselves. Only difference is they have the church services there.

John: The church of the mutant messiahs. The twins. Little Rachel and Nathan.

Int: The names of the children from the house? The ones with the crowns?

James: You got it.

[Shot of a haughty, regal woman of African descent with dark skin but pure white hair.]

[Caption: Ororo Munroe, Director of the Liberation Centre, Salem Centre NY]

OM: I would prefer to be addressed as Your Highness, as I am a princess.

Int: From Africa?

OM: Please.

Int: Your highness.

OM: Yes. My lineage can be traced back to the dawn of time.

Int: Are you also a mutant, your highness?

OM: I am. I can control the elements, the winds and the waves.

Int: What services do you offer at the centre? Your highness.

OM: We offer counseling for the lost, as well as elementary medical care. Unlike the other so-called assistance centres, we offer our aid with no strings attached.

Int: What about the Drop-In Centre, your highness?

OM: It is associated with the pederast Frost. It is a well-known front for her slavery operations.

Int: Is there a religious dimension to your centre? Your highness?

OM: Our centre is non-denominational.

Int: I've been told, your highness, that you hold worship services here, associated with the children who were found in the School after the raid.

OM: Many of our clients are religious, and often pray for the souls of all the children found there.

Int: Your highness, was the centre financed by Charles Xavier?

OM: He was among our many backers. We had not heard from him for many years at the time of the raid.

Int: What do you think of Charles Xavier, you highness?

OM: I believe that he was a brilliant man who was misled, and manipulated by others. His dream remains alive within us.

Int: What dream is that? Your highness.

OM: That mutants and humans might live together in harmony.

Int: Does the centre encourage this, your highness?

OM: It does.

Int: Your highness, are there any non-mutant volunteers or employees of this centre?

OM: Some.

Int: Could I speak with them, your highness?

OM: Our volunteer and client lists are strictly confidential.

[Shot of J&J Proudstar]

James: She made you call her Your Highness, didn't she?

John: Funny thing is, she really is a princess. She used to work for the dictator of Zanzibar in his secret police, but she had to leave after the coup in '76. She ended up in their embassy in Washington, but, after the coup in '78, they booted her out into the street.

Int: How did she get hooked up with Xavier?

John: No idea.

James: We do know what she did in between, though.

[Shot of the cover of a glossy magazine called Dark Chocolate. The African woman on its cover is bereft of clothing, but is fascinatingly scarred. A teaser on the cover promises pictures of a princess within.]

Int: She claimed that the centre was non-denominational.

James: Yeah, just like the Vatican is.

John: They have services there, for Xavier's religion.

Int: Have you ever been?

James: We didn't dare. Too close to Xavier. John hears all about it, though.

John: It's got a kind of bastardized Christian theology. Lots of elements of things I read about in The Golden Bough. They're waiting for a messiah who will save the world from the chaos-bringer and Apocalypse.

Int: Apoclaypse being Secretary-General Nur?

James. You got it. They're kind of vague about who the chaos-bringer is.

John: Sometimes they said it was supposed to be Doug, sometimes it was supposed to be Erich Lehnsherr.

Int: I though Lehnsherr was supposed to be one of the Horsemen?

James: Kind of depends on the day of the week. They're pretty consistent on the Whore of Babylon, though.

John: Takes a lot of strength not to react to some of the things they say against Ms. Frost.

Int: Who runs the church?

John: Munroe, we think. Worthington's involved, but we're not sure how.

Int: Is he involved with New Salem Holdings?

John: Never been able to trace it back that far.

Int: Was the church involved in the escape?

James: Shit, yeah.

John: We'll never forgive her for that. Never.

Int: Were you here then?

James: Happened six months before we came.

John: I heard all about it, though. Lots of people here saw what happened.

Int: Was Callisto involved?

James: Yeah. She was a lot more together then.

Int: How many of the students at the School were involved?

John: Can't really say. We know that the Guthries and three others made it this far.

Int: Sam Guthrie, his sister, Psyche and Ariel?

James: Can we answer that?

John: Long as you keep away from real names. Yeah, those four. Which ones you talking to?

Int: Psyche. She's the only one we could find who would talk.

James: Doesn't surprise me Ariel wouldn't talk. She was there the longest.

Int: Who planned it?

John: Don't think we should say anything about that.

Int: Were there any people on the outside?

James: Some. You'll have to talk to Callisto about that.

John: We can tell you that Nathaniel Essex was involved.

[Shot of a very tall, imposing man with glossy black Bryllcremed hair. He has obviously been to an English public school, and is dressed somewhat anachronistically in a jacket and tie that would not have looked out of place in the 40s.]

[Caption: BBC Interview with Nathaniel Essex, 1986]

Int: Will you be completing the book at Oxford?

NE: No, no. I plan to return to the United States to set up a clinic in a town that I visited in New York State.

Int: Salem Centre.

NE: I would rather not be too specific.

Int: What do you intend to do there?

NE: I intend to provide such medical services as the natives cannot or will not provide for the mutant community there. It is the least I can do.

Int: Rather like Albert Schweitzer?

NE: Unfortunately, yes.

[James & John Proudstar]

James: Oh yeah, lots of people remember Essex.

John: He was one of the few doctors who would work in the clinics here. Even better, he was one of the world's best experts in mutant physiology. Saved a lot of lives.

James: They hated his guts, though.

Int: Xavier hated his guts?

James. Naw, the locals. He'd always come on like he knew all the answers, which he kind of did, and he had a crap bedside manner.

John: Very cold and distant. Xavier hated him, too.

James: Or Cable did. Something to do with his first name and the church.

John: He had the same first name as their messiah.

[Shot of a scruffy looking man in a black trenchcoat. He is gaunt and not clean-shaven. He has piercing blue eyes.]

[Caption: Peter Wisdom, Professor of Poetry, Fenland College of Arts and Technology, Thetford UK]

PW: I went over to see America, but I ran out of money the first week I was there. Needed a job, so I went to work in a bar. Didn't seem to be a thing that needed doing, so I searched for something better. Heard about this place in New York where there were all these mutants. Took a bus up there in summer 1988.

Int: Had you heard of Nathaniel Essex before?

PW: I'd read his book.

Int: Another American Dilemma?

PW: That's the one.

Int: How did you meet him?

PW: Got off the bus, found a paper, saw an ad, went there.

Int: What was the ad for?

PW: General dogsbody. Someone to cook and clean and get groceries. Not my thing except that it provided a roof over me head.

Int: What was your impression of Nathaniel Essex?

PW: His heart was in the right place, as they would say, not that you'd know it at first glance. He was bloody impressive in some ways, but his manner put almost everyone off. He worked 18 hours most days, sometimes 20. Housecalls day and night. I had to answer the phone. Didn't get one night of uninterrupted sleep the whole time I was there. Still, if it was a quiet night, sometimes he'd get out the medicinal brandy and we'd have a few. Had a great sense of humour, not that you'd know. He understood that the only way to cope with America was to be able to laugh at the absurdity of it. As long as you could laugh, you could be sure that you weren't turning into one of them.

Int: What did his patients think of him?

PW: That was the odd part. When they found out his name, they started coming, bringing offerings of food, sometimes money.

Int: His name?

PW: Nathaniel. Had some significance with a lot of the more religious ones. They kept wanting to know if he had a sister called Rachel, and if he was the mutant messiah. He did have a sister called Rachel, who was a biochemist in Nottingham, but he told them that he was not the messiah. He had me repackaging the gifts and putting them in packages he could give back to the poorer patients. Some days, he'd get 50, 60 pounds of food from people who barely had two pennies to rub together.

Int: How long did that last?

PW: For the first three weeks I was there, and some time before that. Then all of a sudden, nothing. Most of them stopped coming. It was that bloody Princess Air Conditioner at the Xavier Centre.

Int: Princess Air Conditioner?

PW: Yeah. Ororo Munroe, mistress of the skies. She could provide a draft and generate a noticeable damp if the room was small enough. She started spreading rumours about Nathaniel, saying he was taking clone samples during examinations when he took blood. She said that we were cloning monsters who would take over their lives.

Int: Did he take tissue samples?

PW: He had to clone cell lines to study the biochemistry of his patients, but we're taking a test tube of skin cells, not a whole person.

Int: Did he take it well?

PW: No. See, he had a real concern, a deep caring for his patients, and he hated losing them. Even so, he would just consider every loss another reason to hate America.

Int: He hated his patients?

PW: Not at all. He hated the society there. Because they were part of it, I think he felt more than a little superior. They could pick up on it.

Int: Did he know?

PW: He figured it out. Watching him try to pretend to have an interest in baseball was painful.

Int: Did it help?

PW: A little. He was regaining some of his patients when we first got word that someone was planning an escape.

Int: How did you find out?

PW: A patient. Let's call her Marrow. Said she knew someone from the house in her professional capacity.

Int: What capacity was that?

PW: The bars and clubs around Salem Centre catered to some pretty rough trade. Working in those clubs financed a lot of bad habits.

Int: She worked in a club?

PW: Yeah. In the back.

Int: Who did she know from the house?

PW: Sam Guthrie.

[Shot of a large, tired, washed out looking woman who's had as many children as her body can bear. She is sitting in a government minimum-standard prefab replacement house. Some of the furniture is old, but most including the computer are government-issue basic home furnishings.]

[Caption: Lucinda Guthrie, Caldwell County, Kentucky]

LG: Sam was my eldest. I had big hopes for him.

Int: What hopes were those?

LG: That he'd get out of here. Go somewhere like Cleveland or Philadelphia or Detroit where he could make some real money, have a decent life.

Int: Jobs are hard to find here?

LG: There are no jobs here. Since they got that fusion power, they shut down all the mines. That's all there was around here that was legal in the way of good-paying jobs.

Int: I understand that he had some trouble with the law.

LG: Everyone round here does. He wasn't ever convicted of nothing.

Int: I understand his mutant abilities caused some difficulties.

LG: They did. This country's not too friendly to mutants.

Int: Why's that?

LG: See, back in the 60s, when fusion came in, they started closing down the pits. Johnson put money into retraining all through the coal country, but when they had all those big mutant riots in '69 and '70 in New York, they took all that money and used it to build prisons for mutants. Thing was, none of those prisons was built here. Lot of folks resent that.

Int: When did Sam's abilities emerge?

LG: Not 'til late. He was 14, 15, out with some friends in the hills when the revenue men came. They thought they had him cornered, but he took off before they could see who he was. None of his friends talked. When he got home, he was scared, real scared.

Int: Why was he attacked by the revenue men?

LG: They was up at a still, or maybe it was a pot farm. Can't remember. The revenue men followed them up there. That didn't make them no friends, neither.

Int: He ran with a wild crowd, then.

LG: Yeah. Needed his father.

Int: Where was his father?

LG: Dead. Died in a coal mine, day before they closed it. Some days I wonder if I'll survive all of them.

Int: How did you hear of the School For Gifted Youngsters?

LG: Saw Professor Xavier on TV, debating Revered Stryker. Always hated Stryker, especially after I found out about Sam. I called him to see what he could do for Sam.

Int: I understand you were approached by Donald Pierce.

LG: Yeah.

Int: What did he propose?

LG: A school called the Massachusetts Academy.

Int: How did you make the choice?

LG: Don't know. None of us here trusted Pierce, and Xavier looked like a good man, a solid man on TV. Now that we know what we know, I don't suppose I had a choice at all.

[Shot of a thin, craggy looking man with a ponytail, wearing a leather vest and a tie-died shirt. He has a kind of manic air. He also has no hands, only a pair of old fashioned prosthetic claws.]

[Caption: Donald Pierce, CEO, Pierce Consolidated Syngas, Roanoke VA]

DP: In case you're wondering, I was born a mutant. I had tentacles instead of hands. Daddy listened to the doctors and had them removed. He meant well, but it's all in the past. And yes, I could get the more natural looking myoelectrics, but I've had these so long they're like old friends.

Int: I understand that you are a very influential man in this part of the country.

DP: My family made millions from the mines before they closed, but at a cost. It cost the life of a man a day in the mines to keep the lights lit before fusion, but it also provided damn near every decent-paying job in the Appalachians. When I decided to come back from Berkeley to join the family business, I decided that I had to give something back. We started with plastics, then when the oil started to run out, we started in on the syngas. In a few more years, we'll have the mines open again, but run properly and safely. The locals aren't too sure what to make of that.

Int: How did you come to meet Samuel Guthrie?

DP: When I returned to this area, the hostility of the people here towards mutants was extreme. It was well known that anyone bearing obvious signs of mutancy didn't dare step outside of the larger towns after dark.

Int: That was on account of the Johnson cuts to Appalachian re-industrialization?

DP: That's what they say, but the misery here is so damn deep, I think it was just an excuse, an outlet. A nice way for everyone to hate together. When someone got found out, as Sam was, his life was in very real danger. I approached his family as I had many others, with an offer to get out. Amazing, how often I got turned away.

Int: How did they react?

DP: Think maybe I came on a bit too strong, or not strong enough. I let others speak for me these days, when it comes to this sort of thing. I think his mother was more frightened of me than of the neighbours.

Int: Why?

DP: How I dressed, the claws. I mean, I told everyone that I was a mutant. I'd hoped that they'd see me as a kind of example, but they just saw me as a freak. Doesn't bother me now, but it did then.

Int: How often were you successful?

DP: In the towns, most of the time, but up in the hills maybe one in four times.

Int: What was your impression of Samuel?

DP: Scared. Scared as hell. I could see why he'd been in trouble. I could see that his mother was a good woman, but trying to raise seven kids alone in a three room shack with no plumbing, it was just too much. The housing program hadn't gotten to them yet. The desperation in that house was as bad as some of what I'd seen in Oakland and Frisco, working with illegals before they opened the borders. He barely said a thing the whole time.

Int: Did you know that his mother had contacted Xavier?

DP: Yeah. I contacted Emma Frost and she said the place was bad news. I told his mother what Emma told me.

Int: Then what happened?

DP: I forgot about the whole thing.

Int: What do you mean?

DP: I forgot that Samuel Guthrie existed. I forgot about his mother, I forgot about helping mutant kids in the hills. I simply forgot the whole thing, and so did everyone who worked with me. If I hadn't lost a diary when I was renovating my house, I wouldn't have ever known I'd forgotten. When I was repairing some renovations last year that I'd made in the '80s, I found the diary under the floor. I didn't recognize any of the names of the kids. I called some of them and they remembered me. It was freaky.

Int: Xavier got to you.

DP: Yeah. He did. And there wasn't one fucking thing I could do about it.

[Shot of Lucinda Guthire]

Int: Did you ever visit Sam at the School?

LG: Never. Couldn't afford it.

Int: Did Sam enjoy being there?

LG: I think so. Thing is, I don't know. I can't recall a thing about the conversations we had on the phone. Not a word.

Int: Did he send letters?

LG: He did, once or twice. I didn't keep them. I always keep cards, but I didn't keep those. Monster was in my head.

Int: How did Paige end up being sent?

LG: No idea. If those things had lived longer, I know they would have taken all my children.

[Shot of John & James Proudstar]

John: Guthrie had a reputation as one of the enforcers from the School, along with Logan and Rasputin.

James: Not a nice guy. Used to get into fights to hurt people. Problem was, unlike Rasputin and Logan, he didn't get into fights with people who wanted to get hurt.

Int: The sex trade customers?

John: Yeah. Free market in action. We've got too much brutality and pain, they need to get hurt, or to hurt someone.

Int: Yet he formed a bond with this Marrow person?

James: Something happened, just before the escape, back in '88. He stopped being such an asshole and started being nice when nobody was looking, acting like a real kid from the country.

John: Theory is, the conditioning slipped somehow. Maybe it was the start of Xavier's cancer, who knows. I mean, before that, if you weren't resistant, you belonged to them one way or another or you were dead.

[Shot of Callisto with another person, not immediately identifiable as a woman. Her body is asymmetrical, malformed by tumorous looking growths]

[Caption: Callisto and 'Marrow']

C: You be careful. You be nice.

M: Shut up. What you want to know?

Int: Did you know Sam Guthrie?

M: Yeah.

C: Think he needs more than that.

M: Used to do business with him. Need to know what kind of business?

C: You can't talk about that.

Int: Actually, you can. The local broadcasters cut that part out of the American version.

M: Don't think I wanna.

Int: Did he ask for your help in escaping?

M: Kinda. Asked me if there was anyone we could trust in town.

Int: You told them about Dr. Essex?

M: Yeah. I mean, he had a real stick up his butt, but he helped me when I got into trouble at work.

Int: Did Sam tell you what he was planning?

M: Naw.

C: You could tell something was up.

Int: How so?

M: Started acting real nice to me. Stopped hurting me. Kind of strange. Didn't see that too often. Started saying things about the School.

Int: What did he say about the School?

M: That he wasn't afraid of hell no more, because it couldn't be worse than there.

[Shot of Pete Wisdom]

Int: Were you told of any plans?

PW: Not really. Marrow gave us some hints, something about a group of children wanting to get out.

Int: How many did get out?

PW: Four. Had the feeling that there was a cock-up at their end.

Int: How did you find about the escape?

PW: When it happened. Nathaniel'd had a birth, and I'd gone out to bring him some equipment and some dinner. It was in a house across the square. They'd let me sit in. Perfectly normal child born to a woman with scales.

Int: Was that unusual?

PW: Yeah. Thy often had stillbirths. Any rate, we finished up at about 2:30 in the morning. They offered us a bed, but Nathaniel wanted to rest in his own and it was just across the square. It was damn dangerous, but we decided to go back.

Int: How far was it?

PW: About 200 metres.

Int: Why was it dangerous?

PW: There was always a risk of getting mugged by an addict. And Xavier, though we didn't know about it then. People were going missing all the time from Salem Centre, but we blamed it on the perverts from the city.

Int: Were there no police patrols?

PW: Besides the ones from the police station to the all-night donut house? Not that I ever saw.

Int: Were you ever attacked?

PW: Twice. First time I fought them off, second time they recognized me and let me go.

Int: Were you attacked that night?

PW: Not then. We made it to half-way across the square when this big glowing circle appeared right next to us. It sort of floated off the ground and there were people underneath it.

Int: Who?

PW: Paige and Samuel Guthrie, Ariel and Psyche. Had no idea who they were, but I found later.

Int: What happened then?

PW: I dropped the box I was carrying. Nathaniel and I're both staring at them. They don't say anything. They reminded me of those pics you see on the telly, of refugees. People who've seen too much. They're staring around, trying to figure out where they are. Then Paige points down the road to the School gates. We can see the yard in front of the main building down there, but there isn't anyone about. If there had been, they'd have seen us all. She kind of collapses to her knees and points. Doesn't make a sound. Sam Guthrie says, Oh God no, no, no. Psyche starts looking around, saying Where's Illyana? Where's Illyana? over and over again. The last one, Ariel, she just whispers, Oh shit, Yana fucked up. Then she says, We have to run. No-one moves. Then Nathaniel says Are you from the School? and Pysche says That stupid little bitch and Ariel turns to them and says We have to run NOW. Sam says We're dead. Ariel says Oh fuck this and runs into the darkness, straight at a wall then right into it. Psyche says We have to hide. Nathaniel says This way. Psyche follows, the other two just stand there rooted to the spot. I look back. Maybe I can see someone in the courtyard down there. I reach out for Paige and she starts screaming. Really screaming. They hear it everywhere, but no-one pays any notice. Not a single light comes on. Sam slaps her, and she falls over. Sam and I drag her the last 50 yards to the house fast as we can. We get inside, but don't put on the lights. We look out the windows, but don't see anyone down there or anyone else.

Int: What was there original plan?

PW: Their plan involved another girl called Illyana who put the whole scheme together, from what they said. She was supposed to travel with them, to somewhere safe. They told me this while Nathaniel was getting ready to examine them.

Int: What did he find?

PW: Never told me. He came out of the examining room pale as death. He had a spot of blood on his forehead. I gave him a glass of brandy, but he took the bottle and drank from that. Then he overturned the kitchen table and went back into the examination room. I could hear they were having an argument while I was cleaning up. Then Psyche comes out, yelling, Fuck you, I'm not going to sit here and die, and she bolts past me and out the back door into the garden. Nathaniel comes out and tells me to go upstairs and get bandages. I'm on my way back when I hear him open the front door and start talking to someone. All I remember is him saying, No he's gone to New York to visit some friends. I hear people moving around downstairs but I stay upstairs. I make my way back into a closet and close the door. They're making a lot of noise. I hear someone come into the room, and then I hear the woman from the Xavier Centre say Come on, we have to get back, and they're gone. I hear the front door shut, and I hear something drive off. I get out of the closet and look through the window. The School van was driving down the square and into the School courtyard.

Int: What did you do then?

PW: I'm going to call the police, when all of a sudden, I get the urge to run, so I run downstairs, get the keys to Nathaniel's Mercedes and tear out of there at over 100 miles per hour plus. Got stopped speeding in Chatham an hour later. I told the police what happened.

Int: What did they do?

PW: They put me in a room and asked lots of questions. Then they lock me in the room and leave me, no explanations. I was waiting for an hour when somebody opens the door. All of a sudden, this urge to run hits me again. I go outside and there's a cop but he's staring at me like he doesn't see me.

Int: What did you do then?

PW: Picked up my keys off a desk and tore out of there, but kept it as close to the speed limit as I could. Stopped at a petrol station, bought a map, found the straightest route away from New York to a place with an airport. Drove to Watertown, then to Toronto, then begged for a seat on the last flight out to London and made it there.

Int: Did you take further action?

PW: Didn't have to. I was in such a state on the plane that they had me picked up by an ambulance at Heathrow. They took me in for questioning for a fortnight, then they told me not to speak of any of it, and that I'd be protected. Suppose I was.

Int: Did you think of taking action on your own?

PW: No.

Int: Why not?

PW: Too damn frightened. Just wanted to go to ground and stay there. Natural reaction I suppose. That's what the other two did.

Int: Ariel and Psyche?

PW: Yeah. So I've been told.

[Shot of a tall, heavy woman with long black hair and a dusky complexion. She's wearing a blue denim shirt and black jeans. One sleeve of her shirt pinned at a point above the elbow where the limb has been attenuated. Throughout the interview the woman stares constantly at the floor and never once makes eye contact with the camera.]

[Caption: "Psyche"]

P: Got a joke for ya. What do you tell a woman with two black eyes?

Int: No idea.

P: Nothing. She's already been told. Har.

Int: Yes, well. What do you think of Pete Wisdom's account of your escape?

P: Should have sent me a tape. Can't read no more.

Int: Why?

P: Fried my brain on crack. Har.

Int: Do you remember the escape?

P: Can't forget.

Int: What about before?

P: Don't want to talk about that.

Int: What can you tell me about the escape?

P: What you want to know?

Int: Who planned it?

P: They're all dead, right? Cable? Xavier? Logan? Rasputin? Summers?

Int: For two years.

P: [Electronic sound] planned it, with Sam.

Int: I thought that Cable and Xavier could read you?

P: They couldn't read her.

Int: I thought that they killed all the ones they couldn't read.

P: They needed, what the fuck am I supposed to call her?

Int: Ariel.

P: Yeah, fuck, they needed Antenna to run the computers.

Int: Antenna?

P: Ariel? Antenna? What's the diff? They couldn't use her if they cored her.

Int: Cored her?

P: Like that Chinese chick with the wrong accent. Rip her mind out.

Int: Why did they do that?

P: So they didn't cause problems. Easier to keep them pregnant, and they could still use the psi cpacity, kinda like a remote, ya know?

Int: Why did they need to keep them pregnant?

P: To keep trying for the twins. Hey. You tricked me. I said I wasn't gonna talk about that.

Int: Sorry.

P: S'okay.

Int: I was under the impression they could read Sam Guthrie.

P: They could. Somehow he found a way to hide. He and me and his sister.

Int: They couldn't read you?

P: Not all the time. Sam showed me how to hide things.

Int: Who else was in on the plot?

P: Illyana.

Int: Rasputin's sister?

P: Wasn't his sister.

Int: Others have said-

P: Wasn't his sister. Found her somewhere. Stole her.

Int: Could she hide?

P: She was resistant, like Antenna. They got to know each other when Rasputin had them both. Shit. Not gonna say anymore about that.

Int: How did you plot your escape without suspicion?

P: Jean hooked us up together.

Int: Jean Grey?

P: There was still something of her left.

Int: How did Xavier and Cable not know?

P: Don't know. Maybe they did know. We never knew. Just knew we kept on breathing.

Int: How did you get out of the compound?

P: Antenna made something that psi-blinded everyone in the house. That wouldn't hit Logan or Rasputin, so Illyana was gonna zap us out of the house to somewhere safe.

Int: Zap you out of the house?

P: Yeah. She could do this trick like on Star Trek.

Int: Was she going to escape with you?

P: That was the plan. We were all ready to go in her room and Rasputin comes looking for her. She stalled him in the hall, then sent us. Never came after.

Int: Her body was never found, I understand.

P: Hope she got away. She didn't have much control.

Int: Why did you go to the square?

P: Weren't supposed to go there. We were supposed to go to Sam's Mom's house.

Int: What happened?

P: Dunno. Guess she sent us somewhere she thought was safe.

Int: Why would she think that Essex was safe?

P: Sam asked around. Original plan was to run in different directions. Logan and Rasputin could only catch two, maybe, that way.

Int: Which two?

P: The ones that would be dead.

Int: What happened after you left Essex's office?

P: Hitched west, went home, smoked a lot of crack, lost the arm.

Int: Why do you think they didn't come after you?

P: Don't know. Decided to make it so when they did it wouldn't matter. Now they're not coming. I think I kinda fucked up.

[Shot of "Marrow" and Callisto]

M: We found out the next day something had happened.

C: The princess was out all over the place, asking too many questions.

M: We decided to go underground.

C: Hid in the county trunk sewer.

Int: For how long?

C: Eight years. Morlocks, ya know?

Int: How did you eat?

M: There's things to eat down there.

Int: How did they not find you?

M: Dunno.

C: Thought maybe they couldn't find us if we were underground. Guess it worked.

[Shot of J&J Proudstar]

John: We knew they were down there. Lots of people in town did.

James: No idea why Xavier never went after them. Maybe he did. If he sent a fighter, they might not have come back. Cal's pretty vicious if she's cornered.

Int: But eight years.

John: Goes to show the sort of fear they could inspire.

James: Yeah.

Int: What can you tell me about the other one? Ariel?

James: She got away.

John: That's all you need to know.


She rocks slowly from side to side, the tears streaming down her face.

"I got away," she whispers. "I got away."


PART5

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