X-Book 1: New Allies New Enemies - Chapter 9 - Last Trip to Town
Summary: (See Book 1: Prologue)
Disclaimer: I own nothing associated with characters from the Marvel
universe or any previously published work.
Mary Sloane drove into town early the next morning, wanting to
complete all of her errands of the day so that the afternoon could
be solely for her guests.
All morning her grandmother had been fussing about the house,
cleaning and re-cleaning, cooking and baking, and preparing for the
day. They had visitors so rarely, and Mary was glad to see her
aging Nana slightly energized by her hosting duties. She had a
whole list ready for Mary when she woke, and had pestered her the
whole way out the door about coming back on time. Mary just smiled
with amusement (although very subtle and respectful amusement), and
promised again and again not to be late.
The road into town was empty as she drove, and she did not meet
another car until she crossed onto Main Street. The air was dry and
dusty, every building seemed to be covered by a fine layer of soil.
The shops and homes were old, many looking sorely in need of
renovation. The few people who walked along past looked tired and
worn, though most gave Mary a friendly wave a she drove by.
A decade ago, it had been a small, but thriving community, but over
the years since then, the town just seemed to be drifting to sleep.
There had been no major change to the area, no big railway or
factory that closed. The people just seemed to be fading, moving
onto somewhere else. Most of the younger families had moved away,
and the older residents just seemed to be waiting out time until
they passed away.
Though no one ever spoke of it, it had dawned on Mary about a year
before that she was the youngest resident of this valley. The
school which she had attended her whole life had closed shortly
after she graduated, so any family with children had chosen to
leave. Most of her friends had gone off to college or moved to the
city, finding no possibility of a future here. She had written to
them for a while, but even those ties had grown cold.
Mary pulled up to one curb next to a small general store. As she
entered, the man behind the counter smiled up as her over his wire
"Well, good morning, Mary," he said with a slight wheeze,
brings you down so early?"
"Hi, Mr. Duchak," she said, "Just getting some things for
"Just like always..." another voice chimed in. An old woman
was hobbling her way carefully up the last aisle, chuckling loudly
as she approached. She was grasping a basket by one hand, steadying
herself with a cane in the other. Even though the basket was still
relatively empty, it was obvious that she was struggling. Mary
walked over to her and helped her maneuver the burden to the counter.
"Oh, thank you, dear," she said, "Now, that's enough,
I don't want to be a bother
"It's no trouble, Mrs. Sauter."
"Aw, you were always a good girl," the old woman replied,
"Your Nana's pride..."
"Besides her roses, you mean," Mary said with a grin, and the
old woman cackled again.
Mr. Duchak began ringing up Mrs. Sauter's purchases,
"How's her hip been feelin', Mary?"
"Not too bad," she replied as she shopped, "She's
active this morning."
"Glad to hear," Duchak said, "Hate to think of Lily stuck
inside all day."
"You're absolutely right, Melvin," Mrs. Sauter said,
stressing each word strongly, "Why your old nana was a
firecracker in her youth..."
"Never anyone more active in the church than your Nana,
Mary," Duchak added.
"And she still is," Mrs. Sauter corrected him, "Although
that didn't keep her entirely out of trouble, did it? Ha. Did I
ever tell you about the time
Mary smiled as the pair talked on. She had heard the stories a
thousand times but somehow they never got old. Listening to the
people around her had always been important to her, watching the
life twinkle in their eyes as they reminisced on better times and
Suddenly, Mary's hands began to shake. She had been gathering
some cans of vegetables and they tumbled from her grasp. The world
around her was getting dark, spinning away, and a cold panic filled
The voices around her were muffled, but she could hear their concern
Not here, she thought desperately, Not now
oh, God, they'll
they think it's all in the past
But all those thoughts were overwhelmed as a vision ripped through
she saw water
All being torn apart
All spinning away
The center has fallen
The balance is gone
All the roses are dying
Mary gasped and sat up, looking suddenly into the eyes of not two,
but three people.
Mr. Duchak and Mrs. Sauter were hovering over her with fearful,
The third person was Eddie Chalmers. If she was the youngest in
town, he was the second youngest.
Sheriff Chalmers, she thought as her mind was able to focus on the
present again, He's the sheriff now
even though you used to try to steal my lunch money," Mary
finished her thought in a hazy voice.
Sheriff Edwin Chalmers smiled down at her with undisguised relief.
Duchak had called him first when Mary collapsed. They would have
never called an ambulance, considering the only hospital is over
forty miles away.
"Hey, kid," he said, "Old folks here said you took a
spill. I guess they didn't lie."
Mrs. Sauter smacked the Sheriff comically on the head.
"Edwin Chalmers!" she said flabbergasted, "Well, I never!
To say we would fib about something like that."
Eddie rubbed the back of his head, with a grin. Mary laughed,
jolted back into reality and, with Eddie's help, stood up slowly.
Her mind was still reeling a little from the vision, but her hands
and legs had stopped shaking.
"I'm just kidding, Aunt Celie," he said, and seeing the
woman's very unamused glare, "I'm sorry. How you
Mary shook her head, "I'm fine, I'm fine
just, felt a
little faint, that's all."
"That's not the first time. Do you want to sit a moment,
dear?" Mrs. Sauter asked, still shooting angry glances at her
nephew, "Those spells come on you so quickly
"No, thank you
" she replied, and noticing the identical
doubtful expressions on Eddie and Mrs. Sauter's faces, she
smiled, "I'm fine
"Ok," Eddie said finally, "We'll take your word for
it. Everyone knows you don't lie, either."
He smirked jokingly, as his aunt slapped him again on the upper arm.
"Will you be ok to drive home?" Eddie asked, with genuine
Mary nodded, trying to keep the panic out of her face, "Yeah,
I'll just take it slow."
"Do you want me to call your grandmother?" he asked.
"No, don't do that," Mary replied, a little quicker than
she had intended. Eddie cast her another doubtful glance but nodded.
"Ok," he said, and then forced a bright smiled onto his
features. He turned to his aunt and lifted her grocery bags from the
"Well, if everything's under control here," he said,
"How `bout you let a handsome law man walk you home, Lady
"Oh, posh with the lady talk. And, what's this about you
trying to steal Mary's lunch money
" she said, and the pair
said their farewells before leaving.
Mary sighed, and looked over at Mr. Duchak. The old man was
regarding her with an intense frown.
"I'm fine, Mr. Duchak," she said again, "Please
don't make a big
"What did you see?" he asked abruptly.
Mary stared at him for a moment, unsure of how to answer.
"What do you
" she began.
"What did you see?" he repeated, a little more forcefully
Mary looked away from him, and began to gather the fallen cans of
"I don't know what you mean," she said quickly.
When she turned back to him, Duchak was still frowning, his arms
folded across his thin chest. The look on his face made her
uncomfortable, as if he was accusing her of something.
"I just felt a little faint," she said, trying to sound
convincing, "That's all."
The man kept silent, and rung up her purchases slowly. After
several very awkward minutes, Mary sighed angrily.
"Look, what do you want me to say?" she asked him, "Do
you want me to tell you that I'm still having visions? Is that
you want? Why does it matter anyway, the elders never listen to
anything I have to say
"Only because you don't tell them everything," he finally
said, without looking at her.
"What else do they want to hear?" she asked, "They've
known about my visions for years, and they never give me any reason
or explanation of them. They won't tell me a thing about what
happened in the desert ten years ago
"Don't talk about that," Duchak said quickly, glancing up
at her darkly.
"See?" Mary said with growing agitation, "How am I
supposed to understand this if no one will help me?"
"No one can help you, child," he said.
"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked, and grabbed
her bags, "Oh, wait, you can't tell me that either."
Mary paid for her groceries and turned around quickly.
"What did you see, Mary?" Duchak asked one more time.
Mary looked back, "I saw Eddie Chalmers get clocked by his old
that's what I saw. Now, if you'll excuse me, I
have to get
"Who's coming to visit you today?" the old man asked and
Mary froze. Her grandmother said she did not tell anyone about the
people from Xavier's school coming. No one else besides Mary
"How did you
" she asked, and then drew herself up, "It
"You're not who you think
" Duchak said softly. Mary
paused a moment, and then frowned without her earlier ire.
"Who am I then?" she said, finally asking the question that
had plagued her for her entire life.
Duchak shook a cigarette out of a pack and lit it slowly. Mary
suddenly thought the man's eyes looked more than aged, they
In the brief interlude of their conversation, the soft roar of a
passing jet filled the air. They both looked up, out at the sky and
Duchak spoke one last time.
"You need to find that out for yourself, child," he said,
giving her a strained, but hopeful smile, "Now, off with
I think your visitors are near."
Mary stared with open confusion at the man for one more moment and
then headed quickly out the door toward her jeep. Duchak walked
slowly over to the front store window and watched her drive away.
He glanced one more time up to the sky and sighed.
And I hope, for your sake, you never find out, he thought, taking
one long drag from his cigarette before crushing it under the tip of