"Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the Arizona State Zoo. My name is Misti and I will be introducing you to the world of tigers. My feline friend, Toomba, will be assisting me."
About 10 minutes into the presentation, the keeper tensed, sensing something amiss. Suddenly the huge cat was charging at her. As the crowd gaped, a shimmer appeared around Misti and she faded away. The tiger skidded to a stop and looked around, trying to find his prey. The shimmer appeared again and Misti stood at the door in the rear of the pen.
"She's a mutant!" a man shouted, hate in his voice.
Misti ran to the zoo offices as the families dispersed. She was sitting at her desk when her boss came in.
"I want an explanation! You may be the best keeper we have, but you know our policy! We do not hire freaks!"
"I can't explain whatever that was." There was fear in Misti's voice. "I told you there was something wrong with Toomba, but you wouldn't listen! He charged at me and all I could think was that I didn't want to be there. Then I wasn't." A sob escaped. "I am not a freak!"
Her boss glared at her. "You are and you are fired! Pack up your stuff and get out!"
Tears rolled down Misti's face as she packed her things and left the best job she ever had.
In the parking lot, she was juggling her purse and a large box while trying to find her car keys. She didn't hear the footsteps coming up behind her. Strong arms grabbed her, threw her on the ground. Vicious kicks rained on her, cracking fragile bones. "Freak!" "We don't want your kind here!" "You must die!"
Through the haze of pain, Misti recognized one of the voices as belonging to the man who earlier labeled her a mutant. As quickly as the attack started, it stopped. The men were gone.
Bruised and broken, she lay on the pavement. As she sank into oblivion , she heard a gruff but kind voice. "You'll be okay. I'm going to take you to Professor Xavier."
Misti's eyes fluttered open to find a woman in a lab coat standing over her. "Hello. How are you feeling?"
Ignoring her question, Misti asked her own. "Where am I? Who are you? How did I get here?" A spasm of pain flashed to her brain when she tried to move.
"Hold still." The woman gently laid a hand on Misti's arm. "I'll answer as many of your questions as I can. You are at Charles Xavier's School for the Gifted in Westchester, New York. My name is Jean Grey. You were beaten and Professor Xavier found you. Then he sent my friend, Logan, to bring you here for treatment."
In a rush of memory, it all came back to Misti. Her strange reaction to the tiger's attack, losing her job, the beating she received. Tears once again spilled. "I'm not normal! I am just what they said, a freak. Why did this happen to me?"
Concern flickered in Dr. Grey's eyes. "The professor can answer those questions better than I. For now, you need to rest. If you would like, I can give you something to help you sleep."
"Thank you," Misti murmured as she slipped into a restless slumber.
Dr. Jean Grey entered the conference room to address the group waiting for her. A distinguished gentleman in a wheelchair spoke first. "How is she?"
"A little worse for wear, Professor," came the doctor's reply. "She is bruised all over and has four cracked ribs. Misti is going to sore for awhile. However, I am afraid her body will heal before her mind. It seems she was not aware of her mutation."
A young man with glittering red glasses questioned, "Jean, can you tell us about it?"
"Well, Scott, I can tell you what I know so far. Misti can disappear. She actually fades away. I also discovered in my research that she has an uncanny way with animals."
Scott chuckled. "Maybe she can housebreak Logan."
"Watch it, kid," a voice warned. This came from a rough looking, dark haired man sitting in the corner.
Professor Xavier stepped in. "Logan, Scott, that's enough. Jean, when can I speak with her?"
"Give her a day of rest and then it should be okay," was the answer.