Pythomus: the New Era

Faceless Child

In the suburbs of Anduris...

Hunter Tunne was a normal, happy child. He was eleven years old, having just entered his sixth year of school. His best friends were Georgi West and Veryn Terrison, and Katie Kiply, he was convinced, was the love of his life. He liked the way her name felt on his tongue, the way she laughed, the way her hair was the most beautiful shade of red. 

Hunter Tunne wasn't a normal child, however, and deep down, he knew it, no matter how much his doting mother tried to pretend otherwise. Every morning she would gently rub his face, and remind him. "Now, Hunter, remember. You've got to keep your face on."

By sixth grade, Hunter had taken to laughing it off. Of course he'd keep his face on. He'd been careful, like he always had been. No one was suspicious, he was certain. 

That morning, Hunter woke up late. He scrambled to get dress, shouting to his mother that he'd skip breakfast to make it to school on time. And, he decided in a snap, at recess, he would confront Katie Kiply and tell her how he felt. And so it would be his undoing. She faked a gag and kicked sand at him, calling him cruel names while her friends hooted and jeered. To Hunter, it seemed to be the end of the world. He found a hidden place, and cried his little eleven-year-old eyes out. And in that time, he forgot. His face slowly melted, assuming its natural, blank, featureless state. 

He willed it back immediately, of course, looking around in terror. He couldn't see anyone, so he was pretty sure he was in the clear. He cleaned up his tears and snotty nose, and trudged off to class. And he pretty much forgot about both his early heartbreak and his slip-up by the time he was out of school. 

At least, until he arrived home. His mother was sitting in the living room, silently crying, as two men in dark suits, one sitting, one standing, stared impassively.

"Hunter…" she began as he entered.

"Mom? What's going on?"

"Ma'am, we're sorry, but the law is the law." the standing MiB said, stone-faced.

"NO!" screamed Mrs. Tunne. "YOU CAN'T TAKE MY BABY! YOU CAN'T!!" she stood up, angrily, before collapsing into a sobbing heap. Hunter started to run to her, but found himself scooped up into one of the MiB's arms. "HE'S MY SON! HE'S MY SON! YOU CAN'T DO THIS!" 

"Mannikins are a danger to the entire human race." the second man said as he rose from his chair, drawing a pistol in one smooth motion as he did so. He nodded to the other man, and they dragged Hunter out of the house, kicking and screaming, as his mother sobbed inside. 

A few minutes later: a gunshot, a car engine purring into the distance, and a broken woman sobbing on the empty floor of her empty house. 



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