Time: the previous day
It was a dark place, this neighbourhood. Tin cans and paper bags littered the road, rustling and clanking together whenever the odd car passed, rolling and tumbling in the strong winds that sometimes came.
Buildings and streetlights had fallen into disrepair, benches broken and their wood taken to build the many shacks that lined the roads, between the buildings. Dirt and grime covered the walls of the buildings, the pavements, the wooden shacks. Graffiti was sprayed across the many buildings - " Mutant Scum!"... " Freaks!"... " Mutants must Die!"
One building stood a little apart from the others, its grounds free from the masses of shacks. Its walls were a dirty grey, unlike the blackness of the others. Its grounds showed signs of attempts to clear the litter, the cans and paper bags. A once-magnificent stained glass was shattered, its colours dull in the dark lighting. A single cross rose above the pointed roof, but it had been broken in several places. Several men and women were cleaning the graffiti from its walls.
One man dressed in a torn black suit exited the church doors. Speaking to those cleaning the writing, he spoke quietly. " Thank you, my friends. May God bless you for your charity."
" Bless you, pastor," one man whispered, as he cleaned away an anti-mutant slogan - " Die, mutants!" His face was a monstrosity, hair sprouting all around, as if from a beast's head. His eyes were red, and his fangs gleamed as he opened his mouth.
" Yes, bless you, pastor," another woman agreed, as the last flower on the grounds wilted at her touch.
Tears rolled down the pastor's cheek, and where they touched his clothing or fell to the ground, the cloth or soil bubbled and corroded away.
" Let us pray," said he. And the evening air was filled with the murmured prayers of this small group.
Dirty-looking children running along the streets stopped as they heard the groups prayers, and they too folded their hands in a plea to God Almighty to deliver from their sorry state...
This was Mutant Alley - Washington's slum for those who did not fit in.
Mutants from all over Washington, in fear of persecution and violence, gathered together here for safety. Huddled together, they tried their best to turn their backs on the violence, on the hate. It followed them here, of course. But by being together, they were able to hold off the worst.
Here, they cared for one another. Theirs was a close-knit society, where everyone knew everyone else. It provided a sense of security for them, and sometimes, hope.
Many had turned to God for hope of deliverance. The church now stood as a symbol of their dreams of perhaps someday, living a normal life. Like the group now gathered in the church grounds praying, they too, prayed for a better life.
Mutant Alley was a dark, sad place. But for it residents, there was still hope.
- That is, until tragedy struck.