The doctor woke up afraid. He was fairly certain that he had nearly died this time, yet he knew that would not stop him from doing it again. People were coming from around the world to seek him out, praying for him to heal them. They called him a miracle worker. Some whispered among themselves that he was some sort of messiah, come to save them all from the depravity and degeneration of the world. If only they knew the truth: he wasn’t a messiah, he was a mutant.
Of course he had been watching the news for years and knew all about the conflict raging between the Brotherhood and the X-Men. About the widespread chaos and destruction that their battles often generated. He had no place among those mutants. He was a healer of illnesses, not a leveler of buildings. And he had far too much work to do to chase childish notions of donning a costume and parading around as some farcical superhero.
He struggled to his feet, his knees shaky. Perspiration dripped from his forehead as he shuffled across the room, cautious not to overexert himself. It was always like this for a while after he healed someone. It drained his body to absorb their illness or injury, and even with his accelerated healing it took time for his body to fight the disease or heal the trauma.
They would consider him crazy if they knew what he endured to heal complete strangers. Sometimes it caused him to black out as the pain overwhelmed his senses. Last night he had blacked out when he healed the little girl. She had broken a few ribs during a fall and it had punctured her aorta. Her elderly father had come to stand in line, like all the others crowded outside his office, hoping for a chance to be seen. He had sensed the little girl’s suffering and called them in. He didn’t know at the time if his body could come back from that, but he knew he had to try.
And he knew, when he woke up, that it had almost killed him. But the girl lived, and to him that was the important thing. He felt a great responsibility to use his power for the good of others. Where modern medicine failed, he did not. It was his gift, and at the same time his curse. The crowd outside would never let him leave until they were all healed, and he could only heal a limited number before he needed to recover.
His thoughts were interrupted as the door slammed open. He turned to rebuke Virginia for bothering him so soon, but it was not Virginia standing in the doorway. It was one of those mutants that he had seen on the news lately. He racked his memory for her name, trying to recall which side she fought on.
Not that it mattered. He knew he would heal her, like he had healed so many others. She looked up at him, her eyes imploring assistance before she collapsed onto the floor. And in that moment he remembered who it was. Katherine Anne Pryde had come to him for help.
To be continued…
This is a response to the fourth Master Class writing prompt, which came from Anne Rice’s novel, The Witching Hour. We had to begin with the line “The doctor woke up afraid”, which stumped me for a while. And then yesterday I went for a run after work and hammered out the basic idea for this story.
I’ve been a huge X-Men fan for a long time. While I never collected the comic books, I did watch a lot of the cartoon series when it was televised. I thought it would be fun to finally write a superhero story, since I’ve been wanting to do that for months. At this point in time it seems likely that there will be a total of three parts to this, although it all depends on how in-depth I start to get with the story.
So, between this and Monster Hunter, check back often for some continuing stories!