Prologue-The Last Galloway
The boy remembered that day as if it was yesterday.
He could still hear the screams of his parents and his little brother as they burned to death.
It had started out a completely normal day for their family; the boy’s parents were almost always out at work and he never knew when they were going to be back because they popped in and out of the house at such random times.
His parents had always been cautious about his safety, for reasons he was too young to know or understand. And because the boy was the eldest of the two siblings, he was given responsibility of looking after his little brother when his parents were away. He didn’t mind. In fact, he loved looking after his brother; the earnest green eyes would always look up at him, waiting to be told what to do. He didn’t abuse the power he held over his brother at this time, and he was almost always with him.
But not the one time he actually needed to be there.
It all started the time he was looking around outside in the garden of their bungalow home in L.A. It was a small and cottage like home and only had two bedrooms, so he and his brother had to share.
It was early morning and he liked to try and dig up worms so he could feed his pet chick, whom he had found abandoned on the roadside on his way home from school a week ago.
He walked back into the house as the sun rose over the hill making everything in its path shine like liquid gold. The boy had to admit, it was a very pretty sight. His little brother was sitting at the kitchen table counting the amount of money he had in his piggy bank.
“Saving up to go to the movies with your friends?” the eight year old older brother said.
“Nah, I’m trying to see if I have enough money for a necklace for mom’s birthday.” The six year old said while staring determinedly at the pile of cash.
“Hey” the elder boy continued, sitting down. “I have some cash in my piggy bank and if we put our money together I could go out and buy a really nice necklace or something; y'now, from the both of us.”
The other boy turned his head and stared at him, “you know you can’t. Remember how mad mom and dad got last time you went to the cinema after school without telling them? No. we both need to stay home and perhaps ask dad to go out and get it for us.”
For a six year old, the other brother thought, he was very smart, but, because he thought it would be a very quick journey, his parents would never even notice he had been gone. Despite the amount of questions he would get about where he would’ve gotten the present anyway, he said,
“Hey, I’ll go, it’ll be a really quick journey, just feed Pippy for me” he said setting down the worms in the jar on the table.
He then scooped up the money his brother had laid out on the table, ran into his room and managed to quickly count his money in his piggy bank. Including his brother’s cash he overall had about $75, he really hoped it was enough to buy a nice birthday present for their mom. He put on a jacket and slipped on his shoes with ease, and then he stopped. A searing pain had made its way through his head, making lights dance beneath his eyelids as he closed them in an effort to block out the pain. Then, as quickly as it had come the pain went away again, leaving the poor boy gasping for breath. He looked around stupidly as if he was searching for a source to the pain.
He then straightened up, dismissing the sudden headache as if it was nothing and again focusing on the task at hand.
He headed out the door, giving a quick wave to his brother, who was now quietly busying himself with a bowl of cereal, the boy could swear he saw his brother making a tsking noise and rolling his eyes. The boy grinned as he headed down the path.
He didn’t have to go far, but he took a bus to the centre of town anyway. When he got there he looked round and saw the local antique store. Having seen the owner a couple of times before, he went to look inside. He had always been interested in old things, interested in each of the different pieces history.
He bumped into a man on the street on the way to the shop and said, “Sorry”, but only got a grunt as the man (who looked like some dodgy dealer of some kind) walked away. Shrugging, the boy let himself into the shop.
He stared mesmerized at the counter. There was a beautiful gold pendant in the shape of a six winged phoenix attached to a gold chain sitting on a plush cushion with a sign saying $800 on it.
“It’s one of a kind you know, young man, very pretty. Can you see the intricate swirling designs on it? You know, I’ve been told that God himself carved this necklace” he said leaning on the counter. He bit into an apple he was holding, and looked the boy up and down.
“Is there any way I can get it for $75?” the child asked innocently, momentarily making a decision to turn his big, persuasive eyes on.
The shop keeper said, holding up his hands in a ‘like hell I will’ way, “No way boy, I don’t sell anything to anyone unless they can pay what’s on the price tag.”
The boy felt a weird tingling around all his sinuses and looked him in the eye and said again, “can I get it for under $75? Please?” the man looked the boy up and down, and said, “I’ve said it once, I won’t say it again-” and he stopped mid-sentence. He was looking directly into the boy’s eyes; something seemed to shift in the man’s face and he became still, almost like a robot. In a mechanical voice he said, “Sure, go ahead, in fact you can have it for free.”
The boy, slightly freaked out, but pleased nonetheless reached round to the other side of the compartment, lifted the lid and took the necklace gently. The boy said thanks to the man who was still just standing there silently staring at him. He backed out of the shop, pocketed the necklace and headed down the street towards his home.
But, little did the boy know that the man he had bumped into on his way to the shop had been a Mind Warper, able to temporarily change or control someone’s mind. The boy didn’t even know he was a Mimic. How was he to know he could copy other people’s abilities?
Clueless, the boy carried on walking down the street when he heard a yell from behind. “Hey, stop him, stop ---------!” the boy’s eyes widened as the shopkeeper spotted him as he poked his podgy head out of the door, he then burst out of the shop and into a run, chasing after the boy and yelling at him. The boy stuffed the necklace into his pocket and made a run for it. “Come back here ----------! Police, get the police! Now!” he yelled at a random woman who was looking as frightened as someone who had been threatened with a knife. “------------ stole my necklace!” he gestured wildly to the boy who was looking over his shoulder while running. Crap, the boy thought, the shopkeeper knew his name; in fact he’d just announced it to the whole street. But, knowing the consequences of what he was doing, the eight year old ran. Over the fences of backyards, down alleyways and along the long road that led to the cottage-bungalow. He stopped himself in the bushes near the front of his home, tired.
He couldn’t go in there, he thought. If his parents were there they would surely hate him; the respect his little brother held for him would disappear. The police had probably been contacted by now, in fact, with the amount of time it had taken him to run here, they could already be in his house and possibly telling his parents what he had done!
Even worse, what if they had come and only found his little brother alone? His parents would get into so much trouble! What had he done? The boy thought frantically. He shouldn’t have left his brother at home on his own, and he hadn’t stolen that necklace! The man had given it to him for free; the circumstances may have been a bit weird but the shopkeeper had definitely given it to him. Why didn’t he just explain it to the police? They might understand…
No. He couldn’t, his parents would be so disappointed in him. He took the necklace out of his pocket and looked at it; it was beautiful, the boy thought, the man had been right- the intricate swirling which made up the bird’s wings was mesmerizing. The boy hadn't noticed before, but there were tiny rubies embedded on the bird’s chest and head, glittering amazingly, surrounded by gold. Snapping out of the trance the tiny bird seemed to have put him in; he looked up from where he was. He could hear voices from inside his house.
“I can’t believe he left the house alone, he could be anywhere! Not again, darling, what are we going to do, they might be able to get him!” the boy, still crouching behind a bush recognized the voice as his mother’s. He heard the voice break as his mother burst into tears. He wanted to go inside his house, but he couldn’t. Not yet at least; he just huddled, scared in the bush, surrounded by overgrown grass and plants.
His ears picked up another noise, “Don’t worry Phoenix, sweetie, he’s close, he’ll be back soon.” It was his Dad.
The boy decided to give in, he wanted to see his mom, stop her crying no matter how much trouble he was going to be in for supposedly stealing the necklace. He wondered round to the front of the house and looked in the front window. His parents were on the sofa, the TV flickering pointlessly in front of them. They were locked in a tight embrace, holding each other, calming each other. His little brother was sitting between them, trying to avoid being hugged to death by his mother.
He knocked on the large window, making his mother’s head snap round, her brunette hair wild. She nudged her husband and then pointed at the window. Strange, the boy thought, why didn’t they come to the door and let him inside the house? Instead his mother screamed a word at him, pointing frantically at the space behind the boy. The boy whipped round, scared, and saw nothing. He turned back, confused; his father was staring at him this time, holding his sobbing wife in his arms. He threw both his wife and son to the ground and yelled at the boy.
This time, the boy heard what his dad told him. And to this day, the word still followed, and haunted him.
“Run!” his dad screamed, and then he was enveloped in a purple fire, his flesh burning. The boy blinked, not believing what was happening. His mother was pleading with something in the corner of the room which the boy couldn’t see, and then he noticed she was holding his little brother in her arms. He was crying, and his head was being held by his mother. He banged frantically on the window, but to no avail. This time, both the boy’s brother and his mother were set on fire, their flesh disintegrating as they screamed in pain. With one last look at his dead, burnt family lying on the ground, now just severely burnt skeletons, he ran. He ran as fast as he could down the long driveway that led to their house.
KABOOM! There was a loud noise that came from behind him and he was lifted into the air and he slammed into the ground right in the middle of all the overgrown bushes and grass with a heart stopping force. When the boy was over the shock of the blast, and could feel again, he felt bruised everywhere and when he tried to open his eyes he couldn’t see much. When he managed to finally open his eyes properly he saw his house, aflame, destroyed.
He then noticed a gold object in front of him, the necklace! It must’ve fallen out of his pocket when he’d been blown away. Crying in pain –both the physical and mental kind, he reached his arm out for the necklace. He was just too far away, if only—he stretched his fingers out and then the necklace vanished, it seemed to dissolve into the grass.
Crunch. All of the bones in his hand were broken, as a foot descended on his hand. He screamed in pain, sobbing over everything. He looked up from the foot that was on his hand and saw a man.
“Boy, it's nice to know that you got out of that fire, at least there's some common sense left in you.” the man said and kicked him in the side. The boy screeched and coughed up some blood. The man reached down and picked the boy up by holding his hair. The boy opened his eyes again, taking in the view of a man wearing a hoodie, with a smile lurking underneath the hood. And for the first time, the boy noticed someone standing behind him. He didn't look like he was there of his own violation.
“Why?” the boy asked, struggling to breathe, “why did you kill my whole family, we were quiet, we never did anything. I never did anything!”
"Oh, I know that, don't worry. But, alas, it was time for you to leave them. But really though, you have become way too soft, they have not taught you in the way that I'd had originally hoped. Oh, well. You will have to be punished for what you have done, my boy. Burn."
Through the boy's screams, as he was set on fire by what looked like the same stuff that had killed his parents, the other man next to the one wearing a hoodie, turned his head towards him.
"Why do you wish me to tell everyone it was me who killed the boy and his family?" he asked the man wearing the hoodie.
"Because, you dimwit, if I do it, you and witches like you will try to hunt me. I am compelling you, using you own ability to do as I say. You know you can't say anything about me or I will kill you."
He gave the burning boy one last glance before walking away, the man trailing after him.
Eventually the firefighters came and managed to tame the already spreading fire, completely missing the burnt boy who was hidden in the bushes near his driveway. However they did in the end manage to find the remains of three others.
It had been on the news, how some freak gas explosion had killed three members of a family of four; and that the second child was missing.
Some people even believed that it was the second child who'd started the fire for some twisted reason and then run away.
The firefighters and the police had looked everywhere for the boy’s remains- if there were any, but could not find them. Even when they eventually looked in the bushes they couldn't find the boy. They hadn't noticed the man dressed all in black pick him up. And they definitely did not notice the boy’s hand clench as his charred body was carried away.
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