I was born in 2003, in New York City. For as long as I lived there I tried to avoid the hustle and busyness of the streets. I had only one or two friends at the time. I wouldn’t have called it lonely though. I only ever needed the company of myself. Some nights father would come home and tell Freja and I to go to our room so he cold talk to mother. We’d sneak out and hear him complain of genetically engineered freaks. We fancied our father a superhero, fighting super soldiers and championing the weak, but we had very little idea what he actually did. When we turned thirteen he came home one night pale as a ghost. He was sweating bullets and had someone’s blood on his shirt. It was blue. He didn’t look at me, but rather at the spot directly behind my head, through me. He told me to pack my bags and that we were leaving.
We left the next morning without any other warning. We moved to Trollonhem, Sweden. To say that it was a small town would be a lie, it could not even be called that. We lived high in the mountains isolated from civilization. There were three houses in all, my mother’s grandparents lived in one, her brother and his fiancée in the second, and us in the third. There were four of us in that house, my mother, Erica, my father Për, my twin sister Freja and me.
I was told that it was quite cold there and that supposedly made it a hard life, but I never felt the piercing winters. It took quite a long time for me to realize what others meant by cold. I always took it to mean quiet: tranquil. When we went into the nearest town, which was hours away they always said that it must be cold in the mountains year-round, with a smile I told them yes, it was very cold.
My family cared for us to the best of their ability then, there was always a fire blazing in our house and my mother was the best cook I will ever meet. Both of our parents tried to continue our education as best they could, which they did rather well with, considering. I was never a fan of schooling, but I did as my parents asked, stoically: without complaint. My sister approached learning with fascination and wide-eyed wonder, but violently resisted whenever she didn’t understand a concept. I remember specifically when she tried to learn Swedish she exploded over and over again that the language made no sense phonetically and should be banned.
Oh, it used to be so simple in those cold winters. Age 13 I would be out for hours with my father, me without more than a single hand made coat and my father bundled up looking down proudly and saying “Only a single coat? now there’s a boy that will become a man.” We used to spend hours alone hunting and exploring the wilds mountaintops. Just me and him. He taught me much about the wild. Most of the time he would talk to me about times gone by. Silently, I’d listen intently. Often he talked of life before lonely little Trollonhem. He told me of that other world. He told about the swat team, that he was quite the skilled fighter in the day. He talked dreamily of the cities he had live in in his youth. New York seemed particularly magical to him. I used to ask him why he didn’t go back, he’d usually always remain silent.
We’d gather around the table near the big fire every evening and eat whatever we had caught earlier in the day. Over dinner we talked about taboo topics like politics and religion, my father always encouraged us to form our own opinions about things. The only exception was when we started talking about mutants. Numbers had increased dramatically over the years, and my father’s eyes became slits when it was brought up.
“They’re freaks!” He’d proclaim, “Freaks, those brutes are a blight upon us all. I’d be damned if I didn’t kill every mutant I saw on sight!” Freja adamantly defended them.
“They’re not freaks! They’re super human, they have so much to offer the world, who knows what good they could do!”
“I’ve seen the kind of good they do, Freja, they’re monsters. All of them.”
My sister had red hair like our mother. She was mercurial, explosive, and hot-headed. However, she was also boisterous, outgoing and the most passionate person I’d ever met. She empathized with every rabbit that got caught in one of our snares. I always invited my sister to come along on the walks with my father, but she detested the cold and went outside on only the rarest of occasions. In fact, the only times she ever accompanied me were when she was too mad at our parents to stay in the house. My sister spoke as much as our father did, and often about the same things, cities, people, getting back to civilization, and I’d listen and say little.
As we grew older my sister started to fight with my parents more and more. She would hide in the back of our uncle’s car when he went to town and we might not see her for days until she finally appeared back in her bed. I don’t know how she did it, but she found ways of getting to civilization even when we started checking my uncle’s trunk.
When we were sixteen, she returned home after an entire month away. That morning we discovered her eating a wolf stew and greeting us as if nothing had happened. My parents were furious with her:
“We thought you were dead!”
“Yes, well I’m not, so don’t get upset”
“Don’t get upset! Young lady, you have been away for an entire month and you didn’t tell us once that you were coming back!” Suddenly she stood up.
“And why should I keep coming back?”
You could hear a pin drop. Hurt and angry my mother replied,
“Because we’re your family!”
“And what good does that do me? Huh? Here we are in Nowhere-ville sweden, I want to get back into the world! I’m wasting my life here!” My father cut in,
“Don’t be so quick to want get back out on your own. The world is cruel and I want to spare you from that.”“Spare me from that! Well jesus christ dad, this fucking mountain is cruel! You’re cruel! If you wanted to fucking spare me from cruelty you should have just clubbed me as a baby! I mean seriously, here we are in 2019, we don’t have internet, we don’t have electricity, we’re living in a fucking cave dad! We…”
But he had stopped listening, he had approached and lifted her off the ground by her neck. He said just one word to her. “Tough.” before dropping her in a crying heap and retiring to his room.
Freja burst out the door still in tears. Fearing she would leave again, I followed her. We kept walking for a long while in a direction I’d never explored. It began to snow.
“Well Great, just fucking great, it’s snowing again.”
“It’s not that bad is it?”
“Says Mr. Not affected by the cold”
“Hey, calm down.”
“CALM DOWN!? My life is shit, Sven. I hate the cold, and here I am stuck with our fucked up family.”
“Our family isn’t…”
“OH come on sven, uncle’s never getting to get married because he’s in the closet and still doesn’t have the stones to tell anyone. His fiancée makes weekly trips to dad’s room, I don’t even know who our mother really is.”
“That’s not true Freja.” I didn’t know if she was making things up because she was upset or if she had some knowledge that I lacked.
“And then there’s you. When was the last time you said no to something, got really mad, do you feel anything inside that cold heart of yours? Did you care that I was gone for a week?” But I didn’t have time to answer because Freja was now yelling so loudly that her voice triggered an avalanche. That’s not an easy thing to do, but if anybody could have done it was her.
Before we knew what was happening we were caught in the snow being pulled down in the mountain. We were swept away and then it was dark.
“Freja? Are you there? “Yeah, I’m here Sven. But I won’t be for long. I’m leaving.”
“Wait, what? You’re leaving? Can’t we talk about this?” Suddenly there was a light, it was a small flame at her fingertips. “Where’d you find a match…” I started, but realized there was no match, the fire got bigger and so did the space around us and suddenly I knew where she had been disappearing to all those weeks.
“I have to go, Sven, I don’t belong here.” I agreed, but I didn’t want her to go.
“No, wait, Dad doesn’t have to know, he…” But she wasn’t listening, the snow continued to melt. I knew that if she left, she’d leave for good.
“STOP!” I screamed, and her fire went out.
“Looks like I’m not the only freak in the family.”
“If I’m a freak too… let me go with you.” She looked at me, she was crying. “Sven, you have to stay here, they need you.” she said, “Let me go.” I’ll always remember that moment for as long as I live, my twin sister in tears because she had to leave and me in tears because I knew I had to stay. “Tell them I’m dead, that you searched but never found me, it’ll be easier for them.” When I stumbled back home a day later, tired and hungry, I was still crying. One look and they knew that Freja was gone, although they didn’t know she still lived.
Two years past and soon it was time for me to leave for college. In my free time I had developed my powers. My uncle was going to drive me to the airport. My father and I took one last walk the morning before and it seemed as it always did, and yet everything was different. He talked of the city and I said nothing. We stopped by a dead tree and sat.
“I wish your sister could have been here to go with you.”
“I’m sure she’s happier now in…” I had started to say the city, (I didn’t know where she was, just that she was headed to a city).
“Which city would that be, Sven?” I said nothing, but I had said too much already. I came clean.
“Dad, she didn’t die in that avalanche…she left…she’s a mutant.” Without pity my father growled, “Sven, she’s been dead to me for two years, and with that knowledge she’ll stay dead. You’ve asked almost everyday for five years why we don’t go back, you ask what happened, well let me tell you. A brute squad happened. A band of freaks and mutants was assigned to the same job as my team. There was one guy, a real hulk. All muscle and more brains than he deserved, he wasn’t a genius, but he was an expert, and expert on destruction on death. There was a band of super-freaks robbing a bank. We get there and half of the people in the bank are already dead, killed by our superfreak targets as an example of what happens when you mess with them. We meet them in the lobby of the bank and before I can even ask them to give up our “superfriend”Goliath charges in and grabs on of them and breaks his back, just like that. Our remaining three targets put their hands in the air at that point seeing that they’re out matched and outnumbered, but the freak squad keeps going. Goliath tramples the rest of the civilians into a pool of blood, one of the freaksquad starts throwing lightning or something at our targets, an android, hits the pool of blood and takes down two SWATs and one freak squad in addition to the android. Goliath smiles, takes a bite out of one of our electrocuted guys and uses him as a meat sword while cackling and saying tastes like chicken. All told, the freaks kill all of our targets, half the SWAT team and two of their own. They’re animals, Sven, you must understand that.”
“I guess I’m an animal then.” He looked at me and slowly, deliberately, without pity or remorse says
“Then you are no longer my son. Leave and don’t come back.” So I did. I left for the airport and I never came back.
I never felt hated until then on my mountain. But I had experienced nothing yet. The moment I got to college, the supposed liberal stronghold of the world, I was greeted with an anti-mutant protest. The anti-mutant fervor distanced me from my peers and I spent much of my time alone at school. I worked while at school and made enough to support myself over breaks, when I would venture as far north as I could. Sometimes I’d spend a few days on a mountain alone, at peace that nobody needed me and that I needed nobody.
Over the next couple years I found a group of partly underground mutant sympathizers at my school. I suspected that one of them was a mutant, but I never found out. They kept me up to date with the happenings of the mutant world. I heard about of the supergroups and the freak squads. I kept out of everyone’s way mostly. One summer I worked on a research ship to Antarctica and that was the most I had talked to anybody or been around anybody in some years. I dreamed of the day when I could have my own house atop a high mountain.
In my final month of school I heard rumors of Freja, or rather rumors of a mutant with fire powers and red hair, but the way they described her, it had to be my Freja. There were rumors that she had come to the region, but stories were mixed about why. Apparently she had made quite a name for herself in Italy, she was part of an Italian supergroup, although the group itself had a mixed reputation. It wasn’t clear what they stood for or whether they were a force for good or evil.
I graduated in the exact middle of my class. I found an apartment and entered the adult world which I hated because it hated me, whether it knew it or not. One night, on a walk a saw a women in an alley being mugged. She had the same red hair as my sister, maybe it was wistful thinking, but she sounded the same too. It had to be her resemblance to my sister that made me do it. I went up to the guy and told him to stop. He laughed and said the he was the one with the gun. I froze him to the wall and he stopped laughing. The woman continued to scream though.
“MUTANT! MUTANT!” She screamed. I had saved her but that didn’t matter, I was still disgusting. I fled the scene. Luckily I was wearing a hood and they hadn’t seen my face, but that was the extent of my vigilantism, though I trained whenever I could. If I am going to be a freak, I’m going to be the best freak I can be, an all-powerful freak, a freak you wouldn’t want to meet in an ally, a freak you wouldn’t want to fuck with.
Sven later got a job at the Sapphire City Wack Arnold’s and used his spare money to try to find Freja, this eventually led him to Evine who agreed to help him look for her. This led to the events of Mutants United.
After pursuing Freja, then Ember out of the underground lair, he lost sight of her. This utterly crushed his spirits, he had been so close to finding her and now she was gone again. He went back to his job at Wack Arnold’s where he has remained, hating every second and feeling completely alone.