PHANTOM: Grounded By Mike Cecconi

Word Count 500
By Mike Cecconi

They said it was the most humane way they had to “deal” with us but some days, I’m not so sure. I mean, I’m glad they didn’t kill me. I’m glad I’m not a guinea pig locked up in some laboratory somewhere, I’m glad I’m not forced to be a black-ops government assassin. I am certainly glad there are no longer ridiculous superheroes running around trying to recruit me, saddle me with a jolly pirate nickname and then stuff me in a latex suit. And of course, it’s wonderful to no longer worry that an angry mob will try and kill me with Frankenstein villager torches if they glimpsed me in my glory, a death that would be as painful as it would be cliched. And yet.

I can still feel my wings sometimes. I can still feel the tips of my claws if I’m startled awake at the beginning of a dream. It feels like I can still grab at things with the three extra sets of hands that I would grow when I wanted to compete against myself in a video game. I cannot even begin to describe what it was like to have been able to be either gender or somewhere in-between upon a whim and then be locked into just one set of options. Being just one person, just one thing, just one check in every row of boxes, it’s so damn limiting that I have to say it hurts. It literally hurts.

After they held me down and gave me the injection, once I was just a “normal” person, all the persecution stopped. They were even nice about it, as long as they were full certain we were no longer special, shapeshifters like myself, psycho-kinetics, super-speedsters, the ones who could talk to horses, the ones who could shoot laser beams out their noses, they were so gosh damned nice to us it was almost condescending. They got us therapy. They put us in group counseling.

Myself, I meet with amputees, that’s a way of looking at it, sure. Mostly war disfigurements, a few farm accidents, some lost their parts to cancer or to frostbite. And I’m not taking away from their loss, I know they’re going through their own hells but when they’d talk about their phantom limbs, they’re talking about one or two, an arm, two legs, whatever. How could I explain what it was like to lose every limb ever at once and then after that, to lose fifteen million things a human being is never supposed to have? To have lost tentacles, mandibles, to have lost eight breasts, to have lost the ability to fly.

Don’t get me wrong, the old soldiers are very nice, and they listen close even if they don’t quite understand, it’s just… I can sometimes still feel my wings. The clouds in my eyes. The wind on my back. Even if it saved your life to do so, you don’t just forget that kind of thing. Ever.

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