Subject 13 #1 - Family Life
"Natasha Teresa Giuliano! Get your ass out here! Now!"
Nasty sighed. Setting aside her homework, she rolled off her bed. She took a detour through the tiny apartment's kitchen. "What?"
"Get in here! Your school called me today."
"They what?" Nasty stopped to grab a can of Coke before entering the living room. Her mother, still wearing her faded grey coat, stood at the door, grocery bags at her feet.
"Don't even try playing innocent with me. Your principal called me this afternoon. Let me see your face."
"This is ridiculous," Nasty protested.
"Let me see your face," her mother insisted.
Setting her cola on the coffee table, Nasty walked up to her mother and glared at her. "Satisfied?"
Her mother grabbed Nasty's chin and twisted her daughter's head from side to side. "Roll up your sleeves."
"I don't have to take this."
Reaching for Nasty's sleeve, her mother said, "Roll them up right now."
"Fine!" Nasty rolled up her sleeves. Several fresh bruises covered old scars marring her fair skin. "Happy? Now can I go back and finish my homework?"
"Where the hell did those bruises come from?"
Nasty's mother grabbed Nasty's arm, squeezing down on one of the bruises. "You got into another fight, didn't you?"
"Ow! Goddammit! What the --?"
"Would you let go? Christ!"
"You did. What have I told you about fighting?"
"I didn't start another fight." Nasty pulled away from her mother. "A weight fell on my arm."
"How the hell did a weight fall on your arm?"
"It just did!" Nasty backed off several steps. She took several deep breaths. "Did you ever think that the school would be calling because I was hurt?"
"Like from a weight falling on my arm? Don't worry, nothing was broken."
"You can knock off the sarcasm."
"You could try caring for a change."
"I do care. Now let's see your shoulder."
"What?" Nasty turned away from her mother.
"Your shoulder. Let's see it, now."
"Natasha, I'm not going to ask again."
"Good, because I'm not going to show you!" Nasty stormed back to the kitchen.
"Natasha, get back here!"
"Fuck you! Why the hell should I? You don't listen to me! Why the hell should I?"
Nasty returned to her room long enough to grab her motorcycle helmet, then stomped back to the living room. Her mother had tossed her coat on the couch, and was taking her shoes off. She looked up as her daughter rushed through the living room.
"Where do you think you're going?"
"None of your business."
"I am your mother, Natasha."
"I'm seventeen, Mother."
"Fine! Go! Stay out as long as you want! Don't bother calling or even coming back!"
"I won't!" Nasty grabbed her jacket. She left, slamming the door behind her. Still fuming, she jabbed the call button. When the elevator finally arrived, she punched the button for the lobby. At the lobby, she strode out of the apartment, heading for the corner store. She willed herself to slow down, to cool off. Her arm hurt anew - her mother could be rough at times.
At the store, Nasty bought a six-pack of Coke and a large bag of chips. She returned to her apartment, and down to the garage. Her motorcycle, an aging Kawasaki in desperate need of new paint, sat at the end of a row of cars. Nasty tossed the drinks and chips in her saddlebags, then mounted the bike.
Nasty roared out of the garage, turning hard at the driveway's entrance. She manhandled the Kawasaki through the streets to the highway, then wove the bike through the remnants of rush hour traffic. As she rode out of New York, the traffic became lighter and lighter. She relaxed, enjoying the ride.
An hour out of town, Nasty turned on to a small road heading to the ocean. Soon, she pulled the bike into a field, and stopped. She took off her helmet and shook out her red hair. Several deep breaths later, Nasty slipped off her bike. She sat cross-legged beside the bike and sighed.
'Damn her,' she thought. 'Why can't she just stay out of my life? I don't need her or that damned school.'
Nasty sat, watching the sun set. Only when the sky was dark did she move, and that was to get her chips and a Coke from her bags. Even the occasional car on the road failed to disturb her.
She drained the last of her Coke, then checked her watch. Ten p.m. She returned the empty can back to her saddlebag, and guided her motorcycle back on to the road. She fastened her helmet tight. Rotating her shoulder, she grimaced as a twinge of pain shot through the joint. "Assholes," she muttered.
On the motorcycle again, she revved the engine and rode back to the highway. In no hurry to get home, Nasty kept to the speed limit. The lights of the city grew bigger and brighter as she returned. Traffic picked up, mostly cargo haulers. One transport cut in front of Nasty, forcing her to swerve into another lane. She pulled alongside the truck's cab. Trying to get the driver's attention, she beeped her horn. "What the hell's your problem?" she yelled.
The truck swerved again. Nasty zoomed ahead, missed being hit by a narrow margin. The cargo shifted; the transport fell on its side. Nasty turned her bike around and returned. Jumping off, she ran to the overturned wreckage.
"Way to go," she muttered as she climbed to the door. A coughing fit struck her. She couldn't breathe, couldn't get enough air. She reached the door and stood. The air was much clearer. With her breath back, she called, "Hey! Are you hurt?" No answer. She yanked open the door. "Are you hurt?" Inside, the driver dangled from his seat belt. "Serves you right, driving like that." Nasty pulled him to a seated position.
"C'mon, asshole, we're getting out of here." Nasty reached to unhook the seat belt, then stopped. The driver's face aged, his skin drying out and stretching, his hair greying, then falling out. In shock, Nasty dropped the driver's arm.
"Help me," the driver wheezed. He reached out and grabbed Nasty's arm. Nasty jerked back, breaking the grip. She jumped off the truck and ran back to her motorcycle. Hearing sirens in the distance, Nasty got on her bike and roared away.
Panicked, Nasty took the most direct route she knew back home. She didn't care about what her mother would say -- better her than that driver. Turning on to her street, she eased off the throttle. She parked on the street and dashed to her building.
"Where are you running to?"
Nasty stopped. Her school's quarterback pushed away from the building's wall and blocked her path. "Piss off," Nasty snarled.
"How's your shoulder?" he asked.
"We don't like trash like you littering our school."
"Get the hell out of my way." Nasty felt a twinge in her hand.
"No." Three of the team's linebackers joined the quarterback.
"What, you can't take on a girl by yourself?"
The quarterback cracked his knuckles. "Who is going to believe you?"
Nasty charged at him. The nearest linebacker stepped in her way. Undaunted by his size, Nasty jabbed him in the gut. With an explosion, he flew back against the wall. He bounced and fell to the ground, not moving.
"What the fuck?"
"You fucking bitch! What the fuck did you do to him?"
Nasty looked at her hand, then at the downed linebacker. She smiled ferally at her remaining antagonists. The football players formed a semi-circle around Nasty. The largest one charged. He clothes-lined her into the wall, knocking the wind out of her. Nasty gasped for air.
"What the hell did you do to Tommy?" the linebacker growled, pinning Nasty to the wall. He slammed his fist into Nasty's stomach. "What the hell did you do?" He cocked his fist again.
Nasty freed her right arm. She chopped her fist on her attacker's shoulder. Bone cracked. The linebacker dropped. Nasty kicked him as she stepped over him.
The last linebacker and the quarterback backed away from Nasty. She glared at them, daring them to come closer. "Take your idiot friends and get lost!" Nasty walked away from the downed linebackers and towards the apartment's door. The remaining football players grabbed their friends and dragged them away.
Once they were out of sight, Nasty doubled over. She leaned against the wall to steady herself, and waited for the pain to subside. After a few minutes, she felt able enough to reach to the elevator. Inside the elevator, she clenched an arm across her stomach as she leaned against the wall.
At her floor, Nasty staggered to her apartment. Locked. Trying not to wake her mother, she found her key and unlocked the door. She opened the door, and discovered her mother had put the chain on.
"Great," Nasty groaned. She kicked the door. "Mom! Mom, open the door!"
Nasty's mother shambled to the door. Bleary eyed, she peered through the narrow opening. "I thought you said you weren't coming back?"
"You've been drinking again," Nasty accused.
"I am the mother here, not you." Nasty's mother unlatched the chain and let her daughter in. "Where did you get that bruise?"
"On your head. It wasn't there when you left."
"There was an accident."
"Then why aren't you at the hospital? Let me get my coat."
"I wasn't in the accident. Some moron wrecked his truck."
"Then how did you get the bruise?"
"I bumped my head while trying to help the guy. Okay?"
"I just want to see." Nasty's mother grabbed Nasty's shoulder.
"Ow! Watch it!"
"You were in a fight today, weren't you, Natasha? I was with you the first time you had to get that shoulder set."
Nasty tore herself away from her mother's grasp. "I was not in a fight!"
"Don't lie to me, Natasha. I've bailed you out far too often for you to pull a fast one on me."
"Don't believe me, then."
"I can't decide whether to believe you or not if you don't tell me what happened."
"Nothing happened! Is that so hard to understand?"
"Something happened or you wouldn't be denying it."
"I am not denying anything! I didn't get into a fight, damn it!" Nasty pounded her fist on the coffee table for emphasis. Her hand flared purple as it punched a hole through the tabletop.
"Holy shit," Nasty whispered.
"Natasha, what happened to you?"
Name: Enrico Gutierez, Jr.
Birthdate: January 23, 1963
Deceased: August 2, 1997
Cause of Death:
Severe trauma to head, caused by energy discharge
Birthplace: New York, New York
0.3cm long scar, hidden by left eyebrow
Mother: Rosita Gutierez, nee Escoban
Father: Enrico Gutierez, Sr
Generation and projection of fire. Range is 250 metres, though Subject 1 can project further with effort. Fire produced is subject to the usual limitations. Indoors, the Subject 1's powers can be nullified by most office buildings' sprinkler systems.
Subject 1 died August 2, 1997, from severe trauma to head, caused by an energy discharge from the paranormal known as American Eagle. Reports from Subjects 2 and 5 indicate that Subject 1 had fired at American Eagle, who then "parried" the flames with his own energy burst. Subject 1's body could not be retrieved at the time, but was destroyed August 13, 1997, by infiltration team.
[End Issue 1]
Next issue: What can a mother do when her daughter can destroy anything she hits?