I really don’t know where else to send this letter, and so I was hoping that you could help me. I wrote this for the Running Girl. Of course, nobody knows very much about her, and it isn’t like she has a public address or leaves a calling card for people who want to get in touch with here.
So, Running Girl.
I want to tell you about my daughter, and what happened to her. Her name was Karissa. She was only fifteen years old the first time she saw you on television. It might even have been your very first television appearance.
Some kind of huge mecha-robot thing was tearing up the street somewhere in downtown Dankor. Do you remember? You appeared out of nowhere, right in front of it, with a screwdriver in your hand. The next thing anyone knew, you were taking the machine apart piece-by-piece, and toying with it, until it’s utterly terrified pilot was left sitting on the broken asphalt and screaming profanities.
You posed for the camera when you were done. Thumbs up, wink, and then zip! You were gone.
I thought you were just about the most adorable thing I’d ever seen. My daughter had a different reaction. You inspired her. From the moment she laid eyes on you, it was like some little piece of that bright and bubbly personality of yours rubbed off on her. She smiled more often. She got out more, making more time for her friends and spending less time on the Internet.
What you need to know is that my Karissa was Ascendant. She had wings. Not ugly things made out of fire like that hateful man down in Madrid last year, or those scary looking things made out of alien metal like that hero with the reality show up in New York has. Hers were real, and soft, and perfectly beautiful, just like her.
She could fly! I never fully appreciated it for the wonderful thing that it was until it was almost too late.
Karissa had a second ability that I always thought of as ‘stealth mode.’ It was like, with only a little focus, she could make it incredibly hard to focus on certain things. If she wanted to hide herself from you, you might never see her. And, even if you knew they were there and what to look for, your eyes could slide right off of her wings without being able to focus on them. That’s how she kept them a secret all those years. It’s also what got her into trouble when she used it to sneak out of the house a few times.
A mother always knows. Remember that, young lady, if you ever get any ideas about those quick feet of hers.
God, I don’t even know if you have a mother. I don’t know anything about you, really, besides what little we’ve seen on TV.
On a sunny morning not long after you first appeared in our lives, I went to wake her up only to find an empty bed. Less than a minute later, I found her. She was standing in our back yard. Her arms and wings were stretched out toward the sun, and on her face was the widest, most beautiful smile I’d ever seen in my life. She wasn’t even trying to hide. Here I am, she was saying. This is me. Look at me.
There was a part of me that wanted to rush outside, to cover her up and hide her away before anyone else saw. It was too late for that, of course. I could already see our neighbors, on both sides, gaping over the fence. Was it awe on their faces? Did they think she was as beautiful as I did? Were they disgusted? Terrified? I really couldn’t say. It wasn’t until a long camera lens appeared over the fence that I opened the back door so that I could go to her.
Click! That was her cue.
In one swift motion, she flexed her huge, beautiful wings and leaped into the air. That was the first time I saw her fly, and I will never, ever forget even one moment of it. I still get teary eyed thinking about it. One of the pictures that my neighbor snapped actually graced the cover of this very magazine. I have the original, as well as that issue, framed on my wall.
About six months ago, and exactly three months to the day after she came out of the proverbial closet, something terrible happened. There was a hostage situation at a bank on the far side of Dankor City from where we live. What she was doing there, I don't know. How she even knew what was going on, I don't know.
From what I was told, and learned through the News, there were seven armed men and one who was allegedly an Ascendant Human. He had some kind of flame powers. They had taken seventeen hostages and were holed up in the bank. Negotiations with the police were going poorly.
My Karissa crawled into the building through an upstairs window. I've seen the security footage of that. She had that determined frown on her face as she struggled to get her wings through that tiny opening, the one that I remember from when she was a baby trying to figure out how to make her legs work. It was also the one she often wore when working on her computer, or doing her homework.
From there, she made her way down three flights of stairs to the main floor. She took a hostage by the hand, and using her Stealth Mode, sneaked her away. Then she came back for another. She made this trip at least nine times. That is a matter of public record.
It was the numbers that did her in. Those men would have never seen her, or the people that she was taking away, but nobody can make eight hostages look like seventeen. I don't know exactly what happened. If there is security footage of that, I don't ever want to see it. I know that, apparently, these men noticed the missing hostages and panicked. Karissa got caught up in that.
My little girl died a hero. Her body was badly burned, and we buried her in a closed casket beside her father in Dankor Memorial. It was the worst day of my life.
This is what I wanted to say, though. Don't feel bad for what happened to Karissa. That isn't why I wanted you to know this story. Whoever you are, wherever you are, you brought her to life. I don't think that she was ever truly unhappy, but I never saw her so full of joy as she was in those three months when she was finally allowed to be absolutely, unashamedly herself. Sometimes I can't still can't stand the pain of losing her, but those memories get me through. They will get me through the rest of my life.
Thank you, Running Girl. And God bless you.
I found this story very touching, and have contacted Maria about making the next edition of Masked Views Unmasked a Karissa Swift tribute. We will re-print her beautiful MVU cover and include a small photo album highlighting the transformation of this amazing, courageous girl. Nothing will ever bring her light back into this world, but I feel that she deserves to be remembered and honored.
Two more things.
1. The Running Girl should be involved in this tribute. I have never had the pleasure of meeting her, and my attempts to reach out to her have been unsuccessful as of this writing. If anyone who reads this does know her, please extend to her my most heartfelt gratitude for everything that she does and give her my invitation to meet with me at my office in the Masked Views Unmasked building. The address can be found in the front of this publication.
2. The Ascendant Human with flame powers who killed Karissa managed to evade capture. He is currently at large and considered extremely dangerous. It would, of course, be wrong of me to encourage Dankor's more active Ascendant elements to take matters into their own hands and do what they can to bring this man to justice, but wouldn't it be nice if the Swift family, as well as the rest of us who were moved by this story, could have some closure? Food for thought.
-Mary Moulton-Eisenberg aka Gaia