Sally Floyd, a journalist with The Alternative newspaper, is chatting with Warren Worthington III. They stay at the restaurant until the early hours of the morning. Warren rambles on earnestly, stripped to the waist the entire time. His once proud wings are now stumps of bone, and Sally thinks it’s like he wants everyone to see the cruel trick fate has played on him. Meanwhile, management and staff at the restaurant buzz around pretending that Angel’s presence is the most natural thing in the world. The other members hardly give Warren a second glance, and Sally can guess why.
She leaves Zoco’s following the conclusion of the interview and later meets up with Dani Moonstar at the office. She holds a dreamcatcher, given to her by her grandfather, who was the one that named her Moonstar. He said it would always capture her good dreams and allow the bad ones to slip away. She thinks the old man always suspected she was a mutant. They talked about magic so much that, by the time she got her powers, she wasn’t even surprised. She asks Sally if she can imagine what it’s like to know the thoughts of animals and to visit other planes and commune with gods: to manipulate a person’s dreams and shape their destiny with a stray thought? She had magic, and everything’s now slipped away. She hasn’t dreamed since M-Day.
She looks at Sally, who appears to have drifted off during the conversation. Sally’s focus is on her out tray. Her Mutant Diaries, renamed Ex-Mutant Diaries, since she received permission to begin writing them again, are now complete. Dani realizes that Sally is kinda spaced out right now and decides to leave. She tells Sally that she can paraphrase their conversation for the article if she likes. Sally apologizes, but she has some heavy stuff on her plate right now. “Don’t we all?” replies Dani, asking Sally to forward her a copy of the article when it’s done. Sally picks up her diaries and contemplates carefully what she’s about to do next.
Sally is with her editor, Neil. He has read her latest entry and asks if she’s sure about this. Sally is positive. Neil thinks she doesn’t sound so sure. It’s like she’s arguing with herself and losing. Is there something she’s not telling him? Sally turns to him and points out that people don’t understand what’s going on. Neil warns her that, once the article hits the shelves, there’s no going back. Everyone will know. Sally says she needs to do it for herself, and Neil places his hand on her shoulder. “Okay.”
The next edition of The Alternative features the last of Sally’s Mutant Diaries. It features a story entitled ‘Too Little Too Late. The Story of Minnie.’ It explains that, when her daughter was born, Sally made her a promise that she would always be there for her. But, promises are like hearts - they’re meant to be broken. Minnie was small for her age, weighing just over five pounds at birth, but the doctors assured Sally that there was nothing to worry about. Naturally, she and her husband, Ken, worried anyway. Ken would lie awake at night listening to the baby monitor and Sally refused to drive anywhere for fear of crashing. Minnie’s presence turned what was once an otherwise rational person into a panic-stricken train wreck. Minnie was this tiny, beautiful little life, and whatever happened next was going to be their fault.
They settled into a routine. She and Ken began to relax as Minnie settled into life as any other baby might. They learned to let her fall and bump her head, and as she was so light and so miniscule that Sally concluded that she couldn’t possibly hurt herself. Ken cried when she said her first words, “Da-da.” Then she walked, and then she learned how to pull the cat’s tail.
By the end of the year, the cat was her best friend. In year two, they had their Christmas picture taken at the mall and life was perfect. They moved into a new apartment and Ken would sing Minnie to sleep every night. As Sally watched their love for each other unfold, the truth of Minnie’s situation suddenly dawned on her. She wasn’t small... no one who filled her heart that much could be. Minnie learned to love her Elmo doll, and everything seemed normal until one day, when Ken was videotaping Minnie play. He looked at the footage and asked if it was him, or was Minnie getting smaller?
It was a chance comment but, as it turned out, he was right. Sally took Minnie to a doctor, who asked them to keep tabs on her weight. She was sent to other doctors before being asked to take Minnie to a hospital, just to be on the safe side. Before they knew it, doctors and specialists were suddenly speaking in hushed tones and glancing over their shoulders at them. The surgeon asked for Minnie to stay overnight for observation. They ran a battery of tests, before there was a terrible moment of professional panic as the experts realized what the results must mean. Sally was getting younger.
More observation followed. It was explained to the concerned parents that her mutation was a genetic quirk. It could happen to anyone, and it was happening to a small percentage of the world’s population. These mutations were difficult to predict, and they told Sally and Ken that they would have to wait and see. So, they waited and all the while, Minnie got younger. They waited some more, and Sally couldn’t take the strain. She began to drink heavily, because drinking heavily temporarily outweighs a heavy heart. Minnie’s mutation began to take hold and, on her fourth birthday, her body turned six months old. One of the nurses told Sally to have faith. Maybe the mutation would reverse again. Meanwhile, her daughter slipped away.
Sally blamed God, she blamed her drinking, she blamed herself and she blamed Ken. Ken eventually left her, and Sally was grateful. She didn’t want him to watch her die. Her drinking continued unabated. During Minnie’s final days, she read to her often. She wanted to think that Minnie knew the sound of her voice, even if she could no longer understand it. They’d sleep together, and sometimes Sally would dream they were at the seaside, swimming in the sea, just swimming lazily on top of the waves… drifting.
One night, as Sally watched over her, a buzzer sounded on Minnie’s incubator and hospital staff rushed in to the room. Sally was ushered into the corridor as doctor’s gathered around Minnie. Neil Crawford joined her as a friend, and after an hour, two doctors emerged from Minnie’s room. They didn’t need to give Sally the news. She knew all too well that Minnie had finally passed on. Understandably, Sally broke down.
Sally drives through the city streets on her way to meet with Warren Worthington a second time. Her Mutant Diaries had concluded with the story of her own daughter, Minnie; a child who had died of a genetic quirk that forced her physiology to go into reverse. A few months after Minnie left this Earth, there was a white flash in the sky. After it happened, most of the mutants on Earth weren’t mutants anymore. If she’d just managed to live another few months, maybe her mutation would have reversed course. A few months, and she would have lived. And if Minnie had lived, then so would she.
She finds Warren enjoying a glass of wine by a roaring fire, and he tells her that he read the article. “So did half of New York,” replies Sally. She asks if he wishes to finish his article, but Warren says he just wants to give her a hug. Can he do that? Sally figures that would be okay, and he pulls her to his chest. Warren says that he’s been to the ends of the universe and seen things that she wouldn’t believe. He never saw anyone do what she just did. Both have tears trickling down their cheeks as the moment grabs them. Suddenly, their comfort zone is invaded by the appearance of the Ghoul, who crashes in through the wall.
He is shirtless which displays his red-tinged skin and the muscles that lie underneath. He also has a strange small third arm on the left hand side. “You betrayed me, Sally Floyd!” Sally is terrified, and crashes into a table as the Ghoul strikes her across the face. The disinterested staff who were milling around earlier suddenly transform into the X-Men. Image inducers kept their profile low enough to allow the Ghoul to make his move. Cyclops, Emma Frost, Iceman, Psylocke, Rogue and Wolverine are on the scene, and Wolverine asks where the hell he came from. Emma informs him that the Ghoul teleported in.
The Ghoul grabs Sally by the throat, and furiously, he tells her that he believed in her. She was supposed to be decent but she sired a damned freak! The Ghoul thinks Sally has made fun of him and tried to make him look stupid in front of all those people. He thought she was someone who understood. Cyclops asks for a quick tactical assessment. It’s determined that no one has seen their opponent before, and Emma has a problem getting inside his head. There’s so much anger in there.
Angel picks himself up and congratulates the Ghoul on being on Candid Camera. Had this been a real hostage situation, he would be dead and his own wings wouldn’t have been a holographic projection. He orders him to hand Sally over. “Make me,” replies the Ghoul, before teleporting away. Emma has trouble determining where he has taken Sally. Somehow, he erects a kind of mental barrier, even though he doesn’t know he’s doing it. She concentrates hard, and deduces that teleporting hurts him. She knows that he hasn’t gone far. She receives the image of a tower, a cross and bells, and Rogue mentions that there’s a church across the street.
At the church, the Ghoul continues his tirade against Sally and her not being pure. Sally wipes blood from her mouth, and replies, “Me? Pure? Boy, are you confused.” The Ghoul isn’t playing. He tells her to say something clever with her smart mouth, and he’ll rip her jaw from her face. Sally isn’t fazed. She asks him how a homicidal whack job like him arrives at the conclusion that he’s pure and the rest of them are tainted. Is it the medication, or did he just wake up one morning and decide to emulate Hitler? The Ghoul smacks her once again across the face, knocking her down. “I woke up,” he replies.
Outside, the X-Men make their way across the street. Emma informs Cyclops that the Ghoul isn’t human anymore. He thinks he’s a new species; a transforming bacterial-cancer-virus. She thinks he has one of the sickest minds she’s ever seen. He thinks they’re eating his reflection. Scott orders Warren up there immediately, and he takes to the air, asking Scott to watch out for Sally. He knows her, and is sure she’ll try and get under his skin.
The Ghoul, in his deranged state, asks Sally why she lied. Why couldn’t she have been who he thought she was? Things could have been different between them. Sally replies, with a large dose of sarcasm, that of course she’s attracted to self-loathing mass murderers. What tipped him off? The Ghoul knows she is deliberately taunting him, and warns her not to. Without even looking, he motions towards the incoming Angel behind him and causes him to be hurled backwards. He crashes into a wooden shed as Iceman and Rogue rush to his assistance.
Cyclops fancies his chances at taking the Ghoul out with an optic blast, but Emma reminds him that he has a hostage up there. Iceman asks Warren if he’s okay. Warren’s thigh is on fire, and Bobby asks if he’d like it putting out. “Please,” comes the obvious response.
The Ghoul tells Sally that Latonya Jefferson looked shocked when he speared her through the gullet and stuck her like a dart to the ceiling. Hubie Edge cried like a baby. He likes it that Sally can laugh. Women fear what they cannot control. “You’d think that, wouldn’t you?” she replies, before smacking him right on the nose. He grabs his nose. That actually caused him pain. He warns Sally that he’ll make her feel that pain a thousand times. Sally points out that he never sat through one of the mayor’s press conferences. She has news for him - she’s not afraid. With that, she allows herself to fall backwards out of the tower.
“No,” exclaims the Ghoul. Angel flies to her rescue, and Emma tells Cyclops that now is the time to act. He unleashes a powerful blast, which destroys the entire church tower. Warren protects Sally from falling debris with his wings as they descend and, once out of danger, he congratulates her on succeeding. He took the bait. She doesn’t reply. “Sally?” he prompts. Sally offers a half-smile and tells him he is, “So frickin’ sexy.”
(two days later)
Sally is released from hospital. The Ghoul busted her elbow and two of her ribs, and she sports a sling. Her eye is blackened, but she doesn’t care. She has another pain to distract her. She has to go back to real life where everyone now knows that she gave life to a genetic freak. It’s time to face the music. She enters The Alternative’s office, almost hoping no one will see her. At first, people stare at her, but someone begins clapping, and soon everyone joins in. Sally is shocked, but is soon grateful as she sees the understanding faces of her colleagues. Next to the sound of her daughter’s laughter, it’s the best music she’s ever heard.
Sally wears a name tag which reads, ‘Hello. My name is Sally.’ She takes a seat with the rest of the group. At the end of the day, this is the only gift she can give Minnie. She was her life, and if she could die so Minni could live, she’d do it in a heartbeat. But, she can’t. Minnie died, and Sally has spent every day since trying to forget. Thing is, she doesn’t want to forget. She stands and addresses the group. “Hi. My name is Sally F. and I am an alcoholic.”