1963-12-14 - Withered
Summary: Winter comes to the life of a young mutant.
Related: Tragic Beasts
Theme Song: None

The ravages of the giants attacking Earth have collapsed some of the subway lines around Queens. It hasn't been more than a day but already this darkened subway station has been reclaimed by displaced and criminal elements seeking shelter from the cold and chaos — until Vigor use resulted in disaster. The air is thick with the smell of scorched plastic and oil and trash smouldering. Black soot is thick on the floor, walls, and ceiling over most of the station, as though something immense burnt here for a very long time.

"No one here," a firefighter says, stepping gingerly down from the last stair and swinging his large light across the room. It's just him, his buddy on the small truck, and a lone cop just one step behind him. They haven't slept in more than a day, none of them; the city workers are running out of amphetamines. Cocaine is looking pretty good right now.

"This fuckin' drug," the cop mutters. "They better do somethin'. Ain't shit worth looking the other way when it comes to this kinda scene."

"What's that?" The firefighter pauses, brings the light back to where something looks like it's strung up on wires in the center of the station.

"Shit." The cop skids in the oily soot but recovers to cross the room ahead of the firefighter. "Fire didn't do this."

Withered vines twine in the pipes and vents overhead, stretching down to cracked, dry roots clinging weakly to the earth exposed by the broken cement floor. Caught in the tangle like a marionette in her strings is a young woman with pale gold skin and wild black curls. There's no ligature at her throat but her lips are blue, her acorn-brown eyes open and empty.

"Suffocation." The firefighter takes the girl's chin gently in his gloved hand, tipping her face into the light. There's no soot on her mouth. She died before the fire, not from the smoke.

"Wonder what did it?" Something crunches under the cop's feet and he looks down to see dry leaves, shards of bark, and dead blossoms.

"You wanna take pictures or something before I cut her down?" The firefighter pulls a folding knife from his belt and waits for his — well, they're friends now. You see enough shit with a guy, you're friends.

"I got a camera in the car." The cop exhales sharply. "You think one person in this fuckin' city could get a break. Especially a kid. But no." He touches the girl's arm, tracing a vine back to where it joins her flesh.

"Died from her own fancy genes," the firefighter says with a sigh. "Not the first time I've seen that shit. I feel bad for them, number of them who can't handle it. Worse with that Vigor."

"If they ain't dying, they're disappearin'," the cop says grimly. "Those that disappear must be wishing they're dead, if I know New York. And I know this fuckin' city."

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