Secrets of My Prison-house (Whats Past is Prologue
It was my first time back in Indiana in almost twenty
years. I was feeling profoundly homesick I couldnt
wait to get back to New York. I was only allowed two
hours for the visit, but it wasnt possible to do this
in one day, given flight schedules and my inability to
drive at night. Logan and Jean had both offered to
come with me. Either of them as companions would have
taken care of the night driving issue, but I wanted to
do this alone.
So, Id be spending the night in the state where I was
born for the first time since I was fifteen. Id flown
into Indianapolis early in the morning, so I could get
to Terre Haute in time for my appointment. I stopped
to pick up the rental car and directions, and drove
straight there, going over in my head what Id say to
Alex, how Id try to make amends.
Youll do what you can for him. Its not your fault,
Logan had said, just before I left. And then, when I
didnt answer, hed added, Dont get your hopes up,
And he was right. On the last part, anyway. I wanted
to think that this could be the beginning of a new
relationship with my brother, a chance to help him and
grow close to him. Still, I knew I shouldnt count on
Alex being amenable to a relationship with me. I hoped
that self-interest would at least ensure that hed let
me help him. I shouldnt let myself hope for more than
that. It was unlikely that my little brother was very
kindly disposed towards me, given what had happened
the last time wed seen each other.
Which brought me to the not-your-fault part of Logans
parting words, the part I couldnt quite buy. I knew
that Alex had spent his teen years in a maximum
security juvenile detention center after being
convicted of killing our father. That incarceration
had pretty much ruined my brothers life, leaving him
without home or family or any non-criminal livelihood.
That would have been bad enough, but worse was the
fact that hed spent his adolescence locked up for a
crime he hadnt committed. A crime he and I both knew
that Id committed. Committed and then run away from
the consequences. Worst of all, Id never thought to
find out what had happened, never followed up on the
investigation and trial. I hadnt been in a position
to at first, but once I was with Charles...
If Id had the courage to tell Charles the truth, we
might have been able to get Alex out of there. If not,
at least wed have been able to offer him a home and a
continuation of his education when he was released. I
was hoping to offer him what I could now, but I was
well aware that it was too little, too late.
As I approached the prison I had the weirdest feeling
of déjà vu. It looked so familiar and I didnt know
why. I couldnt figure it out at first. Then it hit
me. In addition to being a prison for those convicted
of federal crimes, Terre Haute houses the Special
Confinement Unit for federal prisoners awaiting
execution and those awaiting trial for capital crimes.
Pictures of the facility had been in the news numerous
times, from the McVeigh execution up to most
recently Callahans attempted transfer there. If
Callahan hadnt committed suicide, he would have been
in the same facility as my brother. Mutant killer and
mutant locked up together.
Yes, I knew now for sure that Alex was a mutant,
although I had no idea what his power was. His mutant
status wasnt marked in his records, so it had to be
something that didnt show. But there was no doubt
that hed come into his powers some time ago and that,
whatever his gift was, it was well into the Alpha
range of intensity. Jean had had no problem locating
Alex on Cerebro. He was one of only two mutants in the
facility, the other a guard.
I wondered if Id meet the mutant guard and if Id
know it if I did, as I pulled up to the guard station
at the entrance and showed my visitors application
form and appointment letter. The man in the booth
waved me in, telling me where to park and to go to the
Visitors Waiting Room.
As I got out of the car and approached the building, I
traded glasses for visor. I was wearing civilian
clothes, but this wasnt just a social visit. I felt a
little silly putting the visor on; I certainly wasnt
expecting to use my powers. Still, wearing it made
this feel more like a mission.
There was a guard in the Visitors Waiting Room. He
asked for my form and looked it over. Youre a
mutant, huh? he asked.
Thats not supposed to be on the forms anymore.
Youre allowed to ask the inmates, but not the
We havent gotten the new forms yet. He told me to
empty my pockets and gave me a plastic tray to put
personal possessions in. He patted me down thoroughly,
then told me he wanted to examine the visor. I
retrieved my glasses from the tray so I could watch
what he did with it. What is this thing? he asked.
I need it to see. That or the glasses. Please be
careful with it, I added as he pressed the temple
controls, watching it open and close. He handed it
back to me and I closed my eyes, switching back to the
visor, putting my glasses in their case and in a
pocket. The guard didnt argue.
I just need to go over the rules with you, he said,
in the bored tone of someone who has given this speech
thousands of times. You can hug or kiss at the
beginning and end of the visit. Other than that, no
physical contact. You must sit the entire time of the
visit. No shouting or foul language. There will be an
officer in the Visiting Room at all times. If at any
time the Visiting Room Officer feels that the
situation has become unsafe, the visit will be
terminated immediately, at his discretion alone. Any
I had none. I went into the Visiting Room and saw my
little brother for the first time in nineteen years.
He looked old. Well, I didnt expect him to look
thirteen. At least I dont think I did. I dont know
what I expected. He looked older than I thought he
would, anyway. At thirteen Alex had looked ten at
most, always a source of great frustration to him. In
our family we all had a tendency to look younger than
our years. Hed lost that somewhere along the way. He
had small lines at the corners of his eyes and mouth,
his hands had protruding veins. He also had a
world-weary look that usually takes more than
thirty-something years to acquire. He looks years
older than I do, I thought. We didnt hug or kiss, but
we did shake hands.
It wasnt like in the movies. There was no glass
between us. We sat across from each other at a wooden
table. The guard sat in the corner, close enough to
see us, but unlikely to hear what we said if we spoke
softly. Did you recognize me? was the first thing he
said. Would you have known it was me if you saw me
somewhere else? I shook my head. Id know you
anywhere, he added.
I must have changed some since I was fifteen, I
said, smiling at him now.
Yeah, sure. But you look just like my father. Like
Dad. Neither of us smiled then.
I want to help you, I said. I want to get you out
Good. He lowered his voice. They know youre a
mutant, right? I nodded. They dont know about me.
He thought for a minute. That helps, but still. I
dont think we can take them, not just the two of us.
We could kill a few, but not all of them. Wed never
get out. You need to come back, with your X-Men.
I shook my head. I didnt mean like that. Ive got a
lawyer for you. Hes reviewing the case and then hell
arrange to meet with you via videoconference. Hes got
a few avenues he wants to explore.
I dont have money for lawyers.
Thats taken care of.
Youre wasting your money. I did it; they caught me.
Most of its on fucking videotape.
We have to try, Alex. If this doesnt work, Ill come
up with something else. I have to get you out of
Yeah, well youre close to twenty years too late.
I know that. I just found out.
Where were you when they locked me up?
I didnt know what happened. Really. I had no idea
theyd arrested you. I thought they were after me.
It wasnt a rhetorical question. Where were you? New
York? I nodded. With Charles Xavier?
No, that was later. I was... homeless.
A little over a year.
What did you live on?
I got by. I didnt know how much to say. Men gave
me money for sex.
And then Xavier found you?
He had a machine. A kind of mutant detector.
So you struck the jackpot? He was your sugar daddy?
I shook my head. What then?
My friend. My teacher. Eventually my father.
Yeah, I saw that in the paper. Survived by his son,
Scott Summers. Did he know what you did to my fa-...
I took a deep breath. I never told him. I wish I had.
If I had, he would have found out about you. We would
have helped you. But I was... I worried that if he
knew what Id done, he wouldnt want to keep me there.
Id been homeless for over a year. This was the best
deal I could imagine. I was scared to lose it. I was
only thinking about myself. Im sorry.
He didnt say anything for a long time. When he spoke,
he didnt acknowledge what Id said. I thought youd
come for me, you know. My big brother with the lethal
eyes. Hed come and save me and thank me for keeping
his secrets. It was the bedtime story I told myself
every night. I believed it, too. For a long time. I
was just waiting. And then, when you didnt come, well
I figured you were dead. You had to be. Nothing would
have stopped you otherwise. Thats what I thought all
that time, that youd died. And then I see you in the
papers, on the fucking TV news. Living in a mansion.
Private jet. Just inherited a fortune.
Im sorry, Alex. I didnt know. I know I should have.
I have no excuse.
It should have been you. Do you have any idea what
its like to be thirteen years old and in a place like
that? Do you have a clue what my life was like?
No, probably not. But I want to do what I can for you
You still a faggot?
It should have been you.
Why did you say you did it?
He shrugged and smiled. Smiled. He shook his head,
flashing me this what-was-I-thinking kind of amused
smile. I dont know, really, he said, still smiling.
Its something Ive asked myself more than a few
times over the years. I didnt want them to know what
you did. And I did hit him. He was dead, already you
bashed in his head real good but I did hit him. So,
they kept asking me what happened and I figured youd
be in big trouble if I told. And I didnt think theyd
do much to me. He shook his head again. Pretty dumb,
but thats what I thought. I mean, I was just a kid.
You were in *high school*, practically a man. I guess
I thought theyd go easy on me. I dont know what I
thought, really. Maybe that theyd let me go home
after I told them I did it, and then Id have to deal
with my mother being really mad. Bed without supper?
Grounded for a week? Crazy, huh? I dont know. I
didnt know what kind of punishment you get for
killing your father. It took a long time to believe I
wasnt going home.
Did Mom write to you? Visit you?
He shook his head. They made us write a letter a
week. I wrote to her. Who else did I have to write to?
I never got one back. Five years. I didnt know what
to say. How does it work? he asked abruptly,
pointing at my face.
The visor? He nodded. There are electronic
controls. Here, by my ear. It opens it up a controlled
Look at me, Scott.
Im looking at you.
No, without the visor in the way. Open it up.
I cant do that.
Yeah, you can. He raised his hand and gestured
towards me. The guard in the corner looked up from his
magazine, verified that there was no physical contact,
then went back to the puzzle hed been doing. No
physical contact, but something. Something sort of
shimmering and floating in the air. Moving towards me
from Alexs hand. Not quite there, not quite visible,
but something. And then it was gone. My chest felt a
little tingly for a minute, as if it whatever it was
had touched me there.
What was that?
If Id done that to him, gesturing to the guard with
his head, hed be dead. He waited a minute for that
to sink in. Open the visor. Only when youre looking
right at me. We cant hurt each other.
And I realized he was right. Thats why nothing had
happened when Id looked at him after Id killed Dad.
The blasts didnt affect him.
I looked straight into my brothers eyes and opened my
visor. Just for a couple of seconds any longer and
the guard might have looked up and seen what I was
doing. Still, long enough. Long enough to see a human
being up close and in color for the first time in
close to two decades. His hair was starting to turn
grey. His eyes were as blue as ever.
Alex had been right, yes, but hed been wrong, too. We
*could* hurt each other. Just not with our powers. Id
hurt him terribly. Id damaged him in untold ways,
damage beyond healing. And I knew beyond a doubt that
he had the ability to hurt me, too.
Mofic Website: www.angelfire.com/comics/mo
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