by Psuedo Nihm
There were things Michael Hutchinson had learned early on in life, including the sacred truth. It was the truth that had seen him through so many things. Kicked, beaten, loved, hated... it all came down to the one truth above all others: 'life ain't fair.'
Once you learn that-- the rest becomes a simple exercise in unfairness. He was smart, young-- reasonably good looking... it didn't matter, it didn't get him what he wanted.
There were others-- ones to whom things just seemed to come naturally. People like Griffith and his band of followers. Good things came to you if you were Griffith Macalister.
That was another rule, one Griffith was very fond of demonstrating-- and having his friends beat into people like Michael. Still it was more a corralary to the first rule when you thought about it. Giffith was petty, cruel-- selfish, self impressed, things that if life were fair would net him the big null set, but life wasn't fair.
At the age of 12, as his voice was changing-- life dealt Michael Hutchinson another cruel indifferent blow--
Compared to some people's experiences-- Michael had gotten off easy. The change had only taken a week from start to finish, but when it was done, he wasn't as smart or as good looking. His was a face only a Troll could love.
He'd almost come to terms with the change when the next blow came-- instead of taking him home, his parents took him to another home-- a home for troubled teens: Howard Hall.
He tried to object, telling anyone who'd listen that he didn't belong there, but no one would listen. Looking in the mirror he understood. No one who looked at him would want to hear what he had to say. His face was disgusting... how could he be otherwise?
If life had been unfair before it was nothing compared to life inside the home. Random unfairness turned into random brutality. The strong lorded over the weak and Michael was labeled 'prey' before he even set foot inside the institution.
And so he cried himself to sleep-- holding on to the one truth...
Life ain't fair.
By the time he was fifteen, Michael had grown big enough that the other kids left him alone. Not that it really made his life any better. Michael had dreams-- hopes that he'd find a better life. One where he could have the simple things-- maybe just a few luxuries. One where he was accepted.
Dreams of what could never be.
On his sixteenth birthday, Michael was released. He was old enough to fend for himself.
That was it. No one came to pick him up-- to tell him they were sorry. There was no life waiting for him-- no way of making a living. It should have hurt, but by then he was so numb to the world around him that it didn't matter. Nothing really mattered.
He had been out less than a month when the trouble really began. He had managed to find a small cot at the local shelter. In exchange for cleaning up the place-- he had a place to sleep. It wasn't much but it was something, and it was his– losing it was the hardest thing he had endured.
One morning as he was emptying the trash from the kitchens, seven men rushed past him. One of them shoved him, sending him sprawling. As he got up he found several uniformed me pointing guns at him. He was taken in for questioning-- the Star was sure they had their man, that he'd crack and give them the rest of his gang, but being innocent– he had no one to give up. It didn't help when they ran a check into his past and found out that he'd been a resident of Howard Hall. It was his third strike as far as they were concerned. They'd found him with stolen property-- never mind the fact that it was next to him, not on his person. He was a Troll... with a record. That was all they needed.
Howard Hall had been bad but he correctional facility made it look like heaven by comparison. At first he spent more time in the infirmary than he did in his cell, but time passed.
By the time he was released– there was very little in his outward appearance that harkened back to the young man he’d been. He was only two years older physically, but mentally he was so much older.
He went back to the shelter– but, because he’d been imprisoned...
He knew he should have been bitter– and maybe he was a little. Life had dealt him some pretty heavy blows, but he knew the truth of the matter. The world wasn’t out to get him, it wasn’t trying to ruin him... it just didn’t care.
With the second truth well in hand, he tried to make a life for himself.
It was hard getting anywhere. Finding a job was hard enough, but when you added a criminal record and the fact that you were a troll, jobs went from scarce to nonexistent.
He’d almost given up– succumbed to the third rule, the one that said only the strong survived when life’s chaos rained down around him in the form of a downed plane.
He was drawn by the fires as they burned– he was numb to the people’s screams as they fought their way free of the wreckage that had been their plane– their home– their cars... Life wasn’t fair.
Some walked away unscathed, others would never walk again... there was no rhyme or reason... He felt only satisfaction on the sheer unfairness of it all. Men and woman who’d ignored him now reached out for help. They saw him as someone who might be able to help them.
He froze. For the first time in a very long time they actually looked at him– saw him as a man. He almost walked away– rule number two... the world is indifferent.
They weren’t the ones who’d put him here– they weren’t the ones who caused his misery– they were people just like him. They’d been dealt a fickle card by fate... nothing more...
The lights flickered as the emergency vehicles started to arrive. They didn’t need him anymore. His shoulders sagged as he realized this and he started to move away.
He turned stunned by the fear and confusion placed in that one word.
A little girl looked up at him, her eyes full of innocence and fear. Her world had been destroyed by laws one and two– and she was about to learn the final law. She was small... weak... frail... innocent.
The little girl took his hand, so trustingly she began pulling him towards one of the buildings. “My daddy!...”
There was something in her voice– a ghost from his past. He let her lead him to the building– to her father trapped beneath the fire escape. He gasped slightly– it was none other than Griffith MacAlister.
All his money, all his power meant nothing now. He was a victim– like everyone else. He rejoiced– perhaps there was justice in the world.
Griffith looked up at him– the only thing in his eyes was pain.
Michael paused, relishing his tormentor’s suffering.
“Help me...” Griffith managed to gasp.
Michael looked down at the girl and then back at Griffith. It would be so easy. He could just walk away. Walk away and life would run its course, but looking at the child he saw himself-- the child he had been. He could do nothing about what had happened to him– but he could perhaps save her from the heartaches he’d faced.
He braced himself and then lifted the twisted iron that pinned the man down. As he held it others came... pulling Griffith to safety and help.
It didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things... but it did. That night Michael learned the corollaries to the laws that had ruled his life.
Life ain’t fair– but you do your best to make it that way.
The world is indifferent– you have to care.
The strong survive– together we are strong.
In the morning no one would remember the struggle of one man... except for those who’s lives he’d touched. In the end– that’s all that mattered.
(c) 2000 Pseudo Nihm. Used with permission.