"What...?" Xavier questioned vacantly, staring at the bearded man.
"Your poppa owns this place, right?" He said. "Your dad, I mean... could you ask him something for me?"
"Sure." Xavier agreed. Please just let me leave...
"Ask him if he'd be willing to host a Christmas convention in this old lodge of his." The bearded man requested. "Its quite an ideal place for a nice
little get-to-together, I think. Its on the side of a mountain, out of the way, far from any towns or cities... oh, and there's always a foot of snow
outside, too. This is the whitest part of this red old planet I think I've ever seen."
Xavier continued staring at him, wondering if he'd finished.
"I'd pay, of course." He added. "We save up funds all year, every year in order to pay for our annual Christmas convention. Its a family tradition,
"Alright." Xavier nodded. "I'll ask."
After giving him a small wave, and a faint half-attempt of a smile, she shuffled off, vanishing into the large hallway between the diner and the
Though most parts of The Black Dingo--her father's lodge--were very large, the rooms all somehow maintained a very warm, comfortable, cozy vibe. The
lobby contained a few armchairs and two large couches facing towards the massive windows, or towards the huge brick fireplace on the left wall.
"Christmas..." Xavier muttered to herself. "Who the hell'd spend an assload of money on Christmas...?"
As she approached the glass doors, leading outside, she stopped when she spotted her reflection.
Xavier ran a few of her crimson-colored bangs through her fingers, then slightly patted down her short hair. Her hair was an unusually deep shade of
red--so deep, it looked incredibly unnatural. She wasn't the only person on Mars who had this condition; one in roughly twenty people born on Mars
would be born with a particularly bizarre color of hair. No one was sure what cause this to happen, and it wasn't the strangest mutation in society
Just as well, Xavier didn't complain; it was perhaps the only thing she liked about her appearance. Apart from her unnaturally red hair and her ocean
blue eyes, she usually looked rather unhappy, and even homely... then, there was that scar... that big, nasty scar...
"Hey." A familiar voice boomed from behind her, sending a mild wave of panic down her spine.
Xavier turned, sighing.
"Hope you're not thinking about going outside." Her father said, marching through the lobby towards her, his eyes fixed on her in a very direct way.
"You were supposed to clean your room last night. And, when you're done with that... you haven't even gotten
to the water heaters yet. Are you
ever gonna do anything?"
"Maybe if you pay me." Xavier said, only half kidding.
"Cute." Her father responded, smirking. "Get to it. And if I catch you outside before you're done, its your ass."
He made a few guiding gestures with his thumb, ushering her on, then he pushed the glass doors open and stepped outside. Xavier watched as he strolled
towards another wing of the lodge, through the unbelievably thick blanket of snow... folding and crumbling as he kicked it from his path... that
A wave of brisk, cold air hit her as the doors swung shut, consuming her body in a feeling uncomparable to anything she'd felt inside the lodge. As
she watched her father get further and further away, pressing her face against the glass, a bitter, uneasy sensation began to brew in the pit of her
stomach... That bastard... he's a complete tyrant... I'm not allowed outside? Really? I have to fix the water heaters while he goes off and drinks
with his buddies over at the bar...
Xavier began towards another hallway, the one leading towards the basement. There were three rooms in the basement of the main building; a spare room,
the water heaters, and a storage area for food, water, and other supplies. The spare room belonged to Xavier; it was a damp old basement, but using
very little resources and a whit unmatched, Xavier managed to turn it into a very comfortable, dingy little craphole. When she returned to her crummy
room of salvation, she plopped down onto a thick mold of ten blankets--which she'd manifested into a bed--and made herself cozy. Xavier had no
intentions of cleaning her room as of now. There's nothing to clean in here, anyway... I got rid of all the trash, and I don't have a dresser for
my damn clothes. What the hell does he want from me? He just needs something to whine about... something he can make my fault...
Xavier's thoughts continued to swarm throughout her mind rapidly, making her feel anxious. Ever since she was eight years old, she'd been living in
this place... this gigantic winter lodge, out in the middle of nowhere, supporting a man who had no concept of respect... someone who took her in when
she was a child, after her family was killed during a caravan run... killed by Reptilians... she barely remembered... barely cared, anymore... He's
not even my real father. The only reason he took me in was to get some free labor. He doesn't give a damn about me.
BANG BANG BANG.
"Hey loser. Open the door."
Carlos said, then turned the knob and entered without permission anyway.
"Get out of my room." Xavier muttered, lying on her side and staring at the wall, her arms crossed.
Carlos stared down at her, making a face, though she didn't see it.
"Oh, get out?" He said in a challenging tone.
Then, an enormous weight landed squarely on her back--most of the breath escaped her.
Carlos sat on top of Xavier as though she was a fine leather couch. He extended his arms along either side of her body, leaning back and making
You fatass!! Get--OFF!"
Xavier was not a weak, skinny girl... but, nevertheless, her lunging and squirming proved useless against Carlos's gorilla-like body weight. Though
Xavier had a mostly muscular build for a girl, Carlos was easily twice her size. And as she continued to struggle, he began to smile.
After a while, Xavier grew exhausted. Then, Carlos reached his feet, laughing and stuffing his meat-like hands into his jacket pockets.
"Dad says to fix the heaters, fry face." He said, then stepped out of her room, slamming the door behind him and knocking over one of her clothing
hampers as he did.
Xavier lie on her bed for what felt like years, her hair completely askew now, her face red, her hand-me-down tshirt--which was much too big for
her--twisted sideways along her torso. She gazed into the old gray ceiling, feeling more miserable than ever. It was impossible to tell who she hated
more; her adopted father, or her adopted father's son, Carlos. That fat, over-fed, pampered Carlos... that snide, hateful Carlos, who lived in a lodge
suite while she, Xavier, was forced to live in a nasty basement...
Something ran through her. She couldn't explain it... it was a sudden, undeniable rush...
Xavier stood from her makeshift bed, inching towards her window, the only window in her room. It was a small, rectangular window at the top of her
wall... the only part of her room that wasn't underground, beneath the cold, red soil of Mars. It was a small window, and it was completely blocked by
snow; no daylight could get through.
Still, it seemed just big enough to fit a person... just barely...
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