Chelsea collapsed onto the remnants of her bed
and bawled like a baby. She heaved out a whining groan of fury and tore
at the sheets, feeling immensely dissatisfied when the tension gave
out, the sheets ripping further. She pounded her fists into the mattress,
then, causing its insides to spill out through the gouge she'd sliced
that morning. She clenched her jaw, clenched her fists to her chest,
and tensed every muscle in her body, a high pitched wail slipping between
her teeth as she tightened her body, squeezing out all her tears, all
When at last she let her physical-self release, she lay there and gasped
for breath, exhausted. She swiped her arm under her nose, sniffling.
She went to wipe the tears from her face and was shocked by the stinging
pain it caused in her right eye. She mentally cursed Red again before
she remembered that she'd given herself that black eye in a drunken
She rose and went to the bathroom to inspect the damage. It wasn't
too swollen, thankfully, she could still see out of it fine. Just bruised.
Between that and her red eyes and splotchy cheeks, to say nothing of
her hair, sweat plastered to her forehead heedless of the cool October
weather, it was all Chelsea could do not to shatter the mirror with
her bare fists from self loathing.
She grabbed the tiny soap, shampoo bottle, and conditioner. It she
couldn't break the mirror, the least she could do is fog it up and make
herself presentable at the same time.
"Felling any better?" Alison asked as Red emerged from the
bathroom wrapped in towels.
"Incredible!" he said. "It's amazing how a nice, hot
shower can clear the mind."
"Thank God!" said Alison. She wrapped her arms around his
neck, he leaned down to her, and they kissed. Red grabbed a hold of
her sides and spun her around.
"From here on in, things are going to be wonderful!" He plopped
her back down on her feet and moved on into the bedroom.
"That's good…" Alison said from back behind him. "I
was worried. Things you were saying…"
"What can I say?" said Red, grabbing his clothes from the
closet. "I went a little crazy. Sorry I scared you. I wasn't myself." He
slipped on some underwear.
"I'm glad you're back," she said, sitting on the edge of
their bed. "For a while there… uh… what are you doing?"
"Dressing," said Red. He had finished buttoning his bright
red shirt and was tucking it into his black slacks. "What do you
"Why are you wearing those?" she said. "You haven't
looked at them since I made you buy them. You said you'd have no need
Red chuckled to himself as he attempted to tie his black necktie evenly. "See
what I mean? I was crazy." He turned to face her. "Straight?"
"Yeah, but the back of your collar is still up," she said. "Wait,
what are you saying?"
"I was just misguided," Red said. He smiled, reaching behind
his head and around his invisible blade to push down his collar. "I
was being selfish. But there are some things that are bigger than one
man, one life. Sometimes you need to face your responsibility. And if
I don't take down all the greedy corporations of this world, who will?"
Chelsea had to stop halfway through her shower to vomit.
Standing there, letting the water run over her head and down her torso,
the dirt may have been washed off her body, but her mind was just given
time to fester. She watched the water running down her leg forming little
chutes off of her before running the hard plastic rapids into the drain,
but all she really saw was Alison.
She could still remember the first time she met Alison. It was Chelsea's
first day at DI&R. Mr. Davis, head supervisor of the prophecy unit
for their installation, had been giving her a tour of the pertinent
facilities. Chelsea was beaming with pride as the portly man told her
how special and important her ability was.
He had just shown her the main room of the prophecy unit. It was an
immense open area packed with couches, chairs, oversized pillows, meditation
mats, and beds of all shapes and sizes. It was here that her fellow
prophets could come, relax, and get to work. They would get comfortable
and then, using any of a number of relaxation and meditation techniques
they'd been trained in, open their minds to the will of God. All prophets
could have visions whenever they needed to, but research had found that
these relaxation techniques increased the likeliness of one occurring.
A number of supervisors walked amongst them, waiting for a raised hand
or quiet word, ready to take down any information they'd seen so it
could be hurried on to teams waiting to decipher it.
Alison was on her way in as Mr. Davis was ushering Chelsea out.
"Oh, Alison," he said, stopping her a moment. "This
is Chelsea. This is her first day with us."
"Congratulations!" said Alison, smiling. "Welcome to
"Alison here is one of our most promising new prophets," Mr.
Davis said. Chelsea could see his little eyes shining through his glasses
as he talked about Alison. "She's only been here a year and she's
contributed to some of the biggest prophecies our unit has brought in."
"Just doing God's work," said Alison. "It's a pleasure
to meet you. I'm sure you'll be doing the same in no time."
Chelsea had blushed.
A few hours later, Chelsea had been learning the basics of transcendental
meditation from a senior prophet in a small room not far from there.
She was just beginning to feel the threads of reality slip away from
her consciousness when a scream cut through her concentration. She looked
up, frightened, to her instructor, who was already on her way to the
Chelsea followed her back through the hall to the main chamber. The
entire room was fully aware and all their attention was on Alison. She
was huddling on a large comfortable love seat, crying. Those around
her comforted her, rubbed her back gently, whispered that she would
"What happened to her?" Chelsea whispered to her instructor.
"She's discovered a new Saint," she replied, no small amount
of envy and respect in her voice.
Chelsea was in awe. Here was a girl not much older than herself with
all these people, older, more experienced, proud of her, admiring her.
A girl whose prophesy was so important, it shattered the silence and
preempted all others! The force of her vision! The Holiness of her very
power! As she watched them load Alison onto a gurney and wheel her out
of the room, she decided that this was a person she needed to get to
Chelsea went to the infirmary as soon as her training for the day had
finished. She'd brought some yellow flowers. Alison was lying in the
bed, her eyes wide, staring up as through looking through the ceiling.
Her eyes came into focus. "Oh, hi… uh…"
"I just, I…" Chelsea presented the flowers. "Everyone
said you did something pretty amazing today, and I… I just wanted
to give you these and hope you feel better."
"Thanks," said Alison, managing a weak smile.
"Everyone seems pretty impressed," Chelsea said. "They
say you're the youngest prophet to ever discover a Saint. You must be
so proud! What was it like?"
"I hope you never have to find out," she said. "It was
the most horrific thing I've ever seen."
Chelsea didn't press the point, but she held out the hope that maybe,
if she could find out more, if she could glean what Alison did that
made her so special, she could beat that record. Alison seemed to be
a year or two older than she was, she'd have a little time to work on
it. And that's why, when Alison left the infirmary the next evening,
Chelsea was there to accompany her to dinner. And she met her for lunch
the next day. And eventually, the two became close, to a point.
Which was how Chelsea met Red.
Which was what made her leap out of the shower and scramble to the
toilet, vomiting up her stomach acid and the remains of this morning's
liquor breakfast. She slid down into a shaking mass on the tiled floor
as she listened to the white noise of the shower water hitting the stall.
Red checked himself in the mirror as he buttoned his jacket. It looked
pretty good to him. It was the reverse of most of his original saintware,
a black jacket and tie with a right red shirt under them, rather than
the opposite. Not exactly the traditional super-hero outfit, but stylized
enough to make him memorable.
The only question in his mind, really, was where to start.
He heard their front door open.
"Thank God you're here!" said Alison from the other room.
"Why? What's happened?" Argento. Perfect. Red hurried out
to meet them.
"He's gone all-"
"Frank!" Red called out, entering the room. "I'm ready."
Argento looked him up and down for a moment. "Red?"
"I'm back in the game," he said.
"That's wonderful!" Argento called out. He ran over to Red
and gave him a hearty squeeze. "This is going to be great, I promise
you! We can play this any way you want to- we can go back to DI&R,
if you want, and read them our demands for working with them, or if
you want to go the other route, sure, I'll be your mole in the system,
sneaking you information, getting you where you need to be, where no
other Saint will do. I could pretend I'm following you around the country,
you know? I mean, I'm supposed to be tracking you down, but instead,
I'll just go with you, looking up information on 'whatever it is you're
going after' in order to give you the very information you require!
Oh, Red, this is going to be so wonderful! We can finish up here, which
I figure must involve some form of mind control or some such, how else
could we explain your behavior, right? Then, head out wherever there's
trouble, like I heard whispers about this prognostication freak who-"
"Frank, Frank!" said Red, shaking Argento a little. "Relax!
We already have a mission."
"Yes, of course," Argento said. "First things first,
and all. Like I said, I assume we're dealing with some sort of mind
control or brainwashing technique, something that could cause such a
large number of you to become so destructive back there."
"No, no, Frank, you've got it all wrong. Here, have a seat, I'll
Argento glanced over at Alison, who met his eyes and jerked her hands
up in a helpless gesture.
"You two are so paranoid!" Red said. "Just relax!"
Reluctantly, the others were seated on the couch, and he sat on the
love seat. He slid forward right to the edge, leaning in towards Alison
and Argento as he began.
"What happened back at CCI this morning wasn't mind control," he
said. "It was the first stirrings of a revolution. What I realized
this fine day is that our society is in grave danger. We live in a culture
founded on principals of capitalism, where money is the means of placing
value on products, work, people, or whatever. The problem is that, like
it's nemesis communism, capitalism works far better on paper than in
the real world. This capitalism we hold so dear is threatening to destroy
the free market it claims to foster. The problem comes with these new
beasts, the corporations. You have to remember there was no such monster
when our country was established. They crept up over time and insinuated
themselves into our systems of living, exposing the cracks in our capitalist
foundation. The problem is that once any one person, or corporate entity,
has achieved a certain amount of money and power, they capitalist system
provides them with a simple means of perpetuating it and, in fact, increasing
it exponentially. Look at Wal-Mart. Because they have such an enormous
amount of capital to invest at the beginning of each store, they can
make an enormous store, where they sell everything you could possibly
need in one location, and typically for less than a specialized store.
How? Partially, because, like I said, they have it all, guaranteeing
that they sell more product. Partially because they build their empire
on the backs of not only underpaid and overworked Americans, but overseas
sweatshops as well. Because they have so much money, they have the opportunity
to make exponentially more, and the power to do so in immoral ways,
by making the consumer dependent on them. For why would an underpaid
worker want to go to another store only to pay more? And so the cycle
continues. And as the powerful become ever more powerful, the common
man is left behind, happy with his sale prices, thinking there is nothing
one man can do. And he may be right, but I am not just one man. I am
a Saint. If our economic system has grown beyond it's moral restraints,
it's up to me to tame the beast and get it back in it's pen with all
the other animals. I will not rest until I pop every corporate pustule
riddling the American body."
Argento merely stared into Red's eyes for a moment.
"And I figure I'll need your help. Both of you."
Alison looked to Argento. Argento stared some more. Red leaned back,
taking it all in, basking in his new philosophical clarity.
"What?" Argento eventually bellowed.
The first time Chelsea met Red was at lunch, about a year later. Alison
and Chelsea had lunch together every day at the food court near the
prophecy unit, so it wasn't odd for her to meet Alison there. She was,
however, surprised to see a young man with her, dressed in a bright
Chelsea knew immediately who it was. Since Alison had discovered Red,
something very odd had occurred. About sixty percent of Alison's visions
had pertained to Red's missions. There was quite a bit of whispering
about it amongst the others in the unit.
Chelsea had kept her eyes peeled for any particular reason for this.
She and Alison had become fast friends, through no small lack of effort
from Chelsea, and as such, she was privy to Alison's point-of-view on
the entire Red situation. Much to Chelsea's disappointment, however,
Alison didn't seem to understand the connection any more than she did.
For her own part, Chelsea had only been involved in more minor visions.
She was told this was normal- most prophets work for years before they
have visions that stand alone, Alison was the exception to the rule.
She spent her days honing her meditation techniques and her evenings
studying Alison for clues.
For a long time, Alison had only known Red through the flashes she
experienced, but eventually, after a number of successful visions, they
were introduced. Alison had told her all about it. Apparently, they
hit it off rather famously, but Red had never built up the nerve to
ask her out on a date or anything. Hence the surprise at seeing him
here at lunch.
She approached slowly and Alison saw her coming. She smiled and waved
"Red," said Alison, "this is my good friend and fellow
prophet, Chelsea. Chelsea, this is Saint Red."
"God, just Red, please," he said, offering his hand.
"It's an honor," said Chelsea.
"If it is, it's all mine, I assure you." She could tell he
was embarrassed from the way his eyes suddenly could not find anywhere
to rest. "I'm just a lucky guy. You ladies are the ones with honest
to goodness super-powers."
"Chelsea and I usually have lunch together," Alison said.
"Oh, well, if I'm intruding," said Red.
"No, no, of course not!" said Chelsea. "It's not every
day a Saint seeks you out! I'll leave you two alone. Besides, I'll just
see you tonight, right Al?"
Red and Alison looked at each other.
"Er, actually," said Alison, "That's what brought Red
"I, uh, wanted to ask her to come out to a… movie tonight," said
Red, looking at his sandwich.
"No problem!" said Chelsea. "I understand, of course.
Congrats," she whispered to Alison. "Give me a call later,
"Nice to meet you, sir."
"Red! Please!" he said.
"Red, then." She did an awkward little curtsey and scurried
As she spent her lunch alone, she realized how unhappy she was. She
didn't like losing her lunchtime routine with Alison. She didn't like
losing her evening time with her. Not to mention that Alison was going
to spend the time with an actual Saint, getting that much closer to
real power, probably reinforcing whatever the bond is between them.
She'll probably have even more visions about him now.
It all heaped on top of the fire to form a jealous green pyre in the
center of her mind for all her thoughts to huddle around. Alison had
everything she wanted - respect, power, envy, now even romance.
When she finally did get together with Alison after that, Alison was,
of course, aglow from the date. From then on, Chelsea had to share Alison's
time with Red. At first, Chelsea tried to get to know Red better, see
if he would show any interest in her. She should have known better;
he only had eyes for Alison. When, on occasion, he was left alone with
Chelsea for a moment, he seemed awkward, much less self assured than
when Alison was around.
Chelsea was right, though. The more time Alison spent with Red, the
closer they grew to one another the more she would have visions of him.
It got to a point where she saw almost nothing that did not pertain
to Red, and very few other prophets had visions of him anymore. Chelsea
stewed inside just to think about it. Even so, it was months before
she took action, months of frustration. She kept thinking the next vision
would be the one, the big one that put her on the map, but every time
she would see where a spare house key was hidden, which subway route
would be faster, what time the dogs settled in for a nap.
It was her own foolish inexperience that did her in, of course. She
knew Red would be heading to California in a day or so- Alison had seen
a situation arising there and so, of course, Red had been assigned to
take care of it. Chelsea spent most of the morning relaxing and doing
her usual morning meditations, but she wasn't really trying, she was
keeping up appearances. Closer and closer the noon hour came, and Chelsea
decided to make her move.
She inhaled a sharp breath. She let out a low moan. Her eyelids burst
open and she yelped "No!" A few supervisors raced to her side.
Any of the prophets around who had heard her looked up to see what the
"What did you see?" one of the supervisors asked as they
helped her to her feet.
She feigned weakness and leaned on two of their shoulders. "It's
Red," she said, "Saint Red… he can't go… to California… he'll
die…" She figured it was a pretty solid plan. She had a death
scene in mind that figured the drug lord Alison had told her about seeing
the night before. She figured it would be a pretty attention getting
vision, then they'd have Red sit the mission out, send another Saint
in. She gets noticed, Red is ok, evil is still vanquished. Except for
"No… no, he won't…" said Alison, softly.
"I saw it…" said Chelsea, "I saw him… dying…"
"No," said Alison, more firmly, but confusion in her eyes. "You
"I did!" said Chelsea, anger hinting its way into her voice. "Red
cannot go to California. He won't make it."
"But, Chelsea," said one of the supervisors, looking over
"Chelsea…" said Alison, staring into Chelsea's eyes, "Why
are you doing this?"
"I saw it!" said Chelsea, standing up on her own. "I
saw it!" She took a few steps towards Alison and began shouting. "You
think you know all about him just because you've seen for him the most?
You don't own him! He's not your private Saint! Any one of us can have
a vision for him, any one of us, and as it so happens, I have! Mark
my words, if he goes to California, he is going to die! I've seen it!"
Alison said nothing. Everyone else in the room was staring at her.
"What?!" Chelsea spat at the group.
"Chelsea…" said a supervisor, taking her arm, "When
a prophet discovers a Saint… what she sees is his death. If Alison
says that's not how Red dies…"
Alison slowly took a few steps back, turned around, and ran out of
the room. Chelsea could feel every muscle in her body go slack as she
That was not quite the last time she saw Alison before this morning.
That came in late November just under a year ago.
She had been transferred to the Chicago office of DI&R a day or
two after her false prophecy incident. There she was put on very menial
tasks for quite some time. She had eventually worked her way back up
to the main prophecy pool of their office, neither as large nor as productive
as the New York branch. Chelsea lost herself in the job, reinvigorating
her faith as a penance for bearing false witness. It had taken time
to earn her new bosses trust, but a new commitment to honest hard work
eventually paid off - more than Chelsea had intended and perhaps more
than she wanted.
It was in Chicago that she discovered her first Saint.
That Saint was Chelsea herself.
The screams that shattered the silence on the Chicago prophecy floor
seemed no more horrified than any other Saint's discovery, nor did the
sobs that followed seem any more mournful. Inside, however, Chelsea
found it hard to imagine that anything could feel so bleak. She had
seen her own death, her own martyrdom. But that wasn't even the worst
She saw herself die at the hands of Alison.
Chelsea did not speak much of her vision beyond the basics of it containing
her own death. When she was back on her feet she gave DI&R an ultimatum.
"I don't need you," she said. "I can see God's Will
for myself, and He has seen fit to bless me with His approval. I can
make things right in this world without you. It is you who need me."
She gave them a simple bargain. She would be their Saint so long as
Alison was taken out of the playing field. Rechristen her, give her
a life outside of God's Holy works. Lose one prophet, gain one Saint.
They shook on it, and the deal was done.