The tattoo had been on his body for as long as he could remember. Dark black words that nobody knew, that nobody had said, at least not yet. They curled around his bicep; just four words that rattled him to the core, “You’re a monster, Erik.” Everything about the tattoo troubled Max Eisenhardt. Who was Erik, and why was he a monster? Why this was tattooed on him? He had no idea.
He told his dad, Jakob, when they had first appeared, and Jakob sympathetically tried to console him, “They’re just words, Max,” he said, “Don’t let them bother you, don’t let them control you.” Jakob would then show his own tattoo that was on his back to his son: just his name. Max had smiled and told his dad it didn’t worry him, he knew his dad didn’t understand; his father’s tattoo was much simpler than his own.
It wouldn’t connect in his mind till much later that his mother screamed his dad’s name as they were ruthlessly pulled apart, never to be seen again.
Time had passed, and Max had grown and never thought about the tattoo, didn’t think about the name and what it meant, they were only words. All he could think about was the happiness he had found with Magda, his wife, and starting a family with her.
“I want to do this,” he said
“Max, you don’t have to change your name, not for me.” she replied.
He shook his head and smiled down at her.
“I know, but I want to. I want to fit in with your people, I want to do this for both of us.”
She smiled back at him and their lips made tender contact before he broke their embrace.
The name that was chosen for him was Erik, he never made the connection to his tattoo, he was blissfully unaware. Erik and Magda lived happily together with their daughter Anya, and he never spoke to her about the tattoo and she never asked, just like he never asked about her’s.
One fateful morning, he went to work like normal; he worked a construction job of hard labor.
He hurried home, confused but full of power. It felt so surreal what he had done, what he was now capable of; he had moved metal with his mind it was instinct to save a fellow worker. Erik had no clue how he had managed it and everyone had watched; everyone had stared. How was he going to tell Magda? His stomach knotted; she wasn’t going to like this, it didn’t make sense, things like this happened in movies, not in real life! Magda was all about sense, all about order. She was spiritual too, something that Erik respected about her. How, after everything they had been through she still believed. He decided that perhaps she would be more receptive if he brought it up slowly, with a handful of flowers in his hand. Yes, flowers would make her smile, make her less afraid. So even though they barely had enough to get by, Erik Lehnsherr stopped to grab his wife some flowers.
As he was paying at a local flower stop he heard the murmur of a mob forming. First, a group of two passed the shop, pitchforks and lamps in their hands. Then a group of five, then another, then another, until it seemed the whole town was passing the little shop.
“You could join them,” the owner of the shop quipped, “Instead of just staring.”
“Where are they going?”
The owner shrugged.
Erik paid quickly then hurried to catch up with the crowd. It wasn’t until they passed a familiar toy store that the knot in Erik’s stomach grew tighter; he had passed this store hundreds of times on his way to work. Every time he thought about going in and spending what little money he had on Anya, on his little girl. Every time he imagined her smile. He now knew that they were on their way to his house.
He smelt it before he even arrived, something burning. Then he heard a scream. Her scream.
“Anya!” It left his mouth without thinking, everyone in the crowd turned to face him.
“It’s him,” they yelled, “Get him!”
A few men ran towards him, and grabbed him roughly. He struggled and tried to escape, until he heard a CRASH and felt searing pain run along his back. He slumped and they dragged him to the front of the crowd. Magda stood there, tears in her eyes as she stared at their daughter trapped in the house, slowly but surely suffocating on the carbon monoxide and burning in the fire. Anya was dying, and Erik couldn’t bring himself to look up at her knowing that he had failed her. Instead he focused on Magda, and lived his own pain through the look of anguish on her face.
He turned towards the crowd.
“I know why you’re here,” he said, “and I’ll turn myself in. Just leave my wife out of this. Leave my daughter out of this.”
A laugh rose out among the crowd. It started in the middle of the crowd, but soon caught fire. Just like-
Erik would never hear a scream like that ever again. He turned back to see his darling girl become covered in flames. His blood began to boil. In all the years to come, with anger eating away at him like a parasite, he would never be as angry as that moment. With Anya’s death timid Max Eisenhardt died as well, and born was Magneto. He let out a monstrous cry, and metal flew to his command. It played connect the dots with the bodies of the villagers. A few managed to escape, but not enough. Erik opened his eyes and saw a chaos of bodies. And it felt good.
“What have you done?”
He turned around, and Magda was alternating between staring at him and staring at the bodies on the ground. There was fear in her eyes.
“Magda, I meant to tell you-”
He looked back at the flowers, laying on the ground among the strewn bodies. He danced around them to pick the flowers up, checking to make sure they were not completely crushed. Once they were in his hands, he started back towards her. When he was about halfway to her, she started backing up.
“Get away from me.”
“No,” there were tears in her eyes, “Don’t come near me ever again.”
She turned, and right before she ran away from him forever, she whispered, almost too soft for Erik to hear.
“You’re a monster, Erik.”
And then she was gone.