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A Friend Departs
by James S Cole
James S Cole -- all rights reserved

Misa entered the apartment and became worried. Normally Sting would be playing his music loudly. But it was deathly silent. Something in Misa's mind told her there was danger. Unconsciously her exoskeleton began to thicken, the domes of her simulated busts melting as she became thickly armored. She had shifted to huge beetle with huge slicing mandibles. She dropped her groceries when she saw blood on the floor. There was a trail of blood and Misa followed it. In the living room she stumbled on a horrible sight. It was Sting and he was dead! The room was a shambles, furniture smashed and gouged with claws. Next to Sting was a body, a human body apparently dead due to a sting the giant scorpion had inflicted. Sting himself had been impaled through the head by a large kitchen knife. His exoskeleton was damaged in several places by what looked like bullet holes and his tail was cut off. Someone had used paint to write "Die SCABS die!" on a wall. Misa was terrified, someone had broken and murdered Sting. The she remember Widow, the resident giant black widow of the house. Misa ran to Window's room to see if the giant she-spider was ok. What greeted her was grisly image. Three human bodies all with huge welts on there necks, the kind of welts caused by spider venom. One of them had a spray paint can, the color of the paint on the wall. Another had a shot gun and the third had a pistol. There was no blood and Widow's door was wide open. Apprently the three would be killers had been surprised by Widow. Misa rushed into Widow's room.

The room was as Misa remembered, filled with countless webs Widow had spun. The room had been taken over by spider silk only a week after Widow had claimed it as her "lair". Misa heard crying and used her mandibles to slice through the spider silk before her. Huddled in the back of the room, clutching what looked like a teddy bear was a young girl. But the girl wasn't fully human. A bulbous black abdomen with a familiar red hourglass symbol on the underside stuck out from her behind and two long spider's legs grew beneath her arms. Also small bits of black exoskeleton where on her calves and forearms. Misa realized it was Widow... and shifted back to her humanoid wasp state. Widow looked up, her cheeks streaked with tears and her eyes puffy from crying.

"Misa?" Widow asked.

"Widow are you ok!" Misa said concerned.

"Bad mens came." Widow said, sounding like a child. "They hurts Sting, he no gets up when I try wake him."

"Did they do anything to you?" Misa asked.

"They say they kill I." Widow said. "I no want be killed, and I want get them for hurt Sting. I attack bad mens, and I bites them. Bad mens fall down and no get up. I kill them Misa. I kill bad mens, it scare me."

The trauma from losing Sting and realizing she killed three people must have broken Widow's morph lock. Unfortunately Widow's mind had been trapped as a Spider so long that she had the mind of a child now, Misa surmised.

"Widow we need to call the police." Misa said. "You understand?"

"You call the mens who come when bad lady try get us move?" Widow asked.

"Yes I'll call the good men." Misa said.

"Sting.. dead?" Widow asked.

"Yes... yes he is." Misa said the full force of the loss yet to hit her.

"Why bad mens want kill us Misa?" Widow asked. "Cause we bugs?"

"I.. I don't know, but we have to call the police." Misa replied.

Misa called the police and a full investigation was launched. Widow was not charged, it was an obvious case of self defense. The four men who broke into the apartment where members of a Humans First fringe group. They had been involved in six other incidents when SCABS had been murdered. The activities of such groups had been increasing ever since the rash of SCAB murder/suicides. Sting was given a full Christian funeral, even his family had shown up to morn the loss of there son. Misa was surprised, they had after all denounced his very existence when he got SCABS. Yet when he died they came to morn the loss. Misa was cornered by Sting's mother, Ms. Slater.

"Misa... I know when we first met it was under..." She searched for a word. "Undesirable circumstances... I wish... so much... this wasn't what caused us to met again."

"Why did you come anyway?" Misa asked. "I distinctly remember you saying he wasn't your son anymore."

"I know that." Ms. Slater said. "What we did to Gregory (Sting's real name) was unacceptable. I feel like such a horrible person for rejecting my own child. I tired counseling for a long time... then I turned to the church."

"I thought the church considered SCABS evil?" Misa said confused.

"Most do." She replied. "But not my church. I was taught that forsaking a child due to illness was a sin. It didn't matter that Gregory was a SCAB, all that mattered was he was my son. I wish I had realized that... while there... was.. still time!"

Ms. Slater broke down and began to cry. Misa comforted her as best she could, Mr. Slater then came up to them.

"Misa.." he said. "I want to thank you."

"Thank me?" Misa said confused.

"You took my son in." he said. "When he wasn't getting what he needed from us. If not for you.. Greg might have died much sooner. "

"But he still died." Misa said mournfully.

"It wasn't your fault Misa." Mr. Slater said. "If anything it's ours. If we hadn't been so blinded by fear You, Greg, Melony (Widow's real name) would have never been driven from town. Then you wouldn't have to have come here.. and Greg would still be with us."

"But if I had only been there..." Misa said.

"If you had you might be dead too." Mr. Slater said. "I know we can't undo the pain we caused... but would you consider returning with us to town?"

"Back to my home town?" Misa asked. "I... I don't know."

"Please we helped destroy our own son." Mr. Slater said. "We need to make amends somehow."

"I can't leave." Misa said. "I've made a life here, and no one is going to drive me away, not this time!"

"Won't you reconsider?" Ms. Slater asked.

"No, you and Melony are going, but I am staying." Misa said.

"What?" Mr. Slater said.

"She's got the mind of a child, she needs to be safe." Misa said. "I can fend for my self, she can't. You wanna help, help Melony rebuild her life."

"Of course we will!" Ms. Slater said still crying.

Misa was wary but knew she could trust the Slaters. Melony would be in good hands with them. They where rich and could pay for the type of help Melony needed. Misa never returned to her apartment, the police had removed everything and once the investigation was over they helped her move into her new place. Three months after Sting's death Misa was moved in to a new building. The new building was much safer, with actual security staff and alarms. Here Misa could try to fix her broken life. Her metamorphing ability kept her a sought after commodity for movies. Mostly horror movies but still she got paid. Misa tried to settle into new building but it was hard, but she had to try to move on, for the sake of her departed friend.

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