MISC/ACRA: Guttertrash #25 (1/4): A Suicide in Destiny City

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at earthlink.net
Sat Mar 12 18:14:43 PST 2005

[Sorry.  This is not the return of Abhay Khosla.  Just me.
Disappointing.  Isn't it?]

[In Abhay's words:  This is a series of single-issue stories; each issue

is a self-contained attempt to do a superhero story with hopefully a
different style than that found in monthly mainstream comics.]

[Oh, yeah.. This is Acraphobe; meaning that there is horrible stuff in
this story like bad language, sex, violence, and other corrupting stuff
that will warp young impressionable minds.  So if you have a young
impressionable mind, please for the love of God, do not read this story!

That is all.  Enjoy!]

The JONG Company Presents:

                                  H H
                                  S S
                                  A A
                                  R R
                              R E T T U G
                              G U T T E R
                                  R R
                                  A A
                                  S S
                                  H H

                              N U M B E R

                                  2 5

                                  b y

                         G u e s t   W r i t e r

                         == Arthur R. Spitzer ==


Somewhere, the rainbows never end.

Somewhere, people sip miracle margaritas as they wait to board space
shuttles which will take them to monstrous space cruisers that will send

them on tours to see the colonies on the Moon and Mars.  And afterwards
they will travel throughout the solar system and be baptized by the
glory of all the god named planets.  As they wait, a person who looks
exactly like Buddy Holly entertains them with the Deep Purple song,
'Space Truckin'.'

Somewhere, people in gigantic mechanical suits that can transform into
monster trucks explore the deepest parts of the Mariana Trench.  They
will discover an entire lost city populated by sentient plastic aquarium


Somewhere in the city of Nyala, Darfur; bored children send telepathic
messages to each other as the virtual reality creation, Dr. Cool J Dog,
teaches them about the horrors that occurred in the early twenty first
century when the Janjaweed and civil war inflicted their land.

Somewhere in Makkah, Arabia; two college-age girls (one of arab descent
and the other one jewish) make out as they sit inside The Ka'bah built
by the Prophet Ibraaheem.  And no one cares.

Somewhere, a small little girl has a tea party with her sentient stuffed

animals.  She is Queen of the Kingdom of Red Dandelions.  And she
discusses matters of state with her council of stuffed animals.  She
will do this till her Mom comes back home from ultra-shopping.

Somewhere, a small group of middle-aged men wearing 'Cheesecake Eater
Lad for Pope' T-shirts walk out of a Virtual-Plex which has a pre-
screening of LNH: The Motion Reality and are pleasantly surprised that
it didn't suck.

And somewhere in Destiny City's tallest building, The Wolfe Tower; a
group of policemen gather around a crime scene.

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                      A Suicide in Destiny City

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Part I:  The Book of Happy Endings

The light on the door started to wriggle and squirm.  A darkness that
had emerged from the shadows was eating away at it.  The temperature
lowered where the darkness spread.  It kept growing and growing until
the door became a pool of black.  Then right in the middle, something
began to reach through.  At first it looked like the tips of fingers.
Then it looked like a hand.  But finally, it looked like a man.

"Holy shit," gasped a policeman who was munching on a donut while he
witnessed this transpire.  "You're him.  Aren't you?"

"Yeah.  That would be me.  Mr. Him.  But you can call me, Hey you, if
you want," replied the man as he stepped out from the blackness.  He was

a middle-aged Japanese man who was extremely physically fit.  Covering
his eyes were a very dark shade of sunglasses.  He was garbed in a
mostly black with traces of white costume.  In the center of his chest
was a yin yang symbol slightly spread apart so that it looked a bit like

an 'S'.  One hand of his was bare while the other was covered by a black

glove.  The glove seemed to gobble up any light that dared get close to
it.  He placed his gloved hand on the blackness that painted the door.
As he touched it, the glove completely absorbed whatever darkness that
remained.  This man's name was Charlie Hiroshima although he was better
known to the world and Destiny City as the Shadowraiser.  A long time
ago, he had been a superhero.  "So -- any donuts left?"

"Hmm?  Oh yeah.  Over there.  There's also coffee by the table.  Man,
it's starting to feel like a Destiny Patrol reunion here."

"Reunion?"  The Shadowraiser raised his eyebrows a bit, but then
glancing around the room he realized why the cop had said that.  He
discovered in one of the corners a costumed woman talking to some cops.
Chromatic locks of hair flowed from her head and splashed against her
shoulders.  Each color seemed to have its own personality.  The hue of
her costume was a heavenly blue which surrounded a silverish center.
The center was so reflective that you could see your own face as you
looked at it.  The woman was Alice Queens.  Her other name was The
Mirror.  She had the power to reflect whatever evil or good a person did

right back at them.  And as Charlie Hiroshima looked at her, he thought
to himself, Damn, she looks young.  God, she looks like she's twenty-

Alice Queen's eyes slipped away from the two policemen she was talking
to and spotted Charlie.  Her face lighted right up.  "Charlie?" she said

as she made her way to him.  "Charlie!  Geeze, it's been forever!  Come
here!"  She wrapped her arms around him.  She was wearing that same
perfume she always wore.  The perfume that always drove Charlie crazy.

"Yeah.  It's been a few years, hasn't it?"  Charlie broke from the
embrace.  "Last I heard you were in LA, Alice."

"Well, it's only a teleportation booth away from Destiny City.  And I
felt I had to come here.  This thing -- it's the biggest thing to happen

in over ten years."

"Yeah, this thing.  So what is it?  Suicide?  Something worse?"

"All signs seem to be pointing to just a suicide, but I've -- Oh wait.
Here's the Commissioner.  He can probably explain things a little

Charlie turned his attention to the man whom Alice had pointed to.  "Hi,

Mr. Hiroshima.  The names Chip Hammer.  You probably knew my dad, Max."

"Oh right.  The former commissioner.  So, you're Max's boy?"

"That would be me.  I'm glad both of you could come here.  Although it
seems kind of a little league problem for you guys.  It's not like some
supervillain is threatening to blow up the world.  It's just a suicide."

"Commissioner," Alice Queen replied, "With all due respect, there hasn't

been a suicide, or murder -- or any other crime committed in the last
ten years.  This is big.  And I'm not convinced that it's just a

"If I could just interrupt here," Charlie said, "How did this woman --
Umm, what's her name again?"

"Mary McCloud," answered Commissioner Chip Hammer as he flipped through
his note-space.

"How did Mary McCloud kill herself?  Last time I checked, every single
human on Earth was invulnerable to harm.  Right?"

The Commissioner nodded his head.  "She hacked into her teleportation
device and spread everyone of her molecules all over Destiny City.  We
have holographic surveillance jellies that show this happening.  It
doesn't get more clear cut than that.  Plus we have a suicide jelly that

has her saying goodbye to her husband and kids.  If it quacks like a
suicide then -- well, you know."

"It just doesn't make sense," Alice said shaking her head.  "She had a
husband and two kids.  She was one of the top virtual reality
programmers in the world.  She had access to the best mental healthcare.

On paper everything about her life seemed perfect.  And the interviews
with friends and family said she was always happy -- at least no signs
of anything that was troubling her.  We live in a world where no one
should feel like committing suicide.  Least of all her."

"Well," Commissioner Chip Hammer interrupted, "Just because someone's
happy on the outside -- well, it doesn't mean anything.  You know?"

"Alice?" Charlie said breaking into the conversation, "You think there's

a supervillain involved?  Someone manipulating this woman's emotions?"

"Well, we've certainly faced some in our time.  You know that one who
could transfer his own despair into his victims' bodies -- He caused
that mass suicide in Detroit -- What was his name?"

The Shadowraiser gave a nod.  "The Despair King.  I fought him a few
times.  But I doubt he did this.  He committed suicide years ago."

"Well, there were countless others.  People who could have done this."

"And everyone of them is locked away in dreamland," Charlie pointed out.

"Yeah."  All three were silent for a bit.  Finally, Alice continued, "I
just can't believe anyone would commit suicide in this world.  In this
perfect world."

Charlie looked at the Commissioner.  "Have your people checked this
ladies system logs?"

The Commissioner shook his head.  "We've tried getting in there, but --
the password is a very complex one.  We're waiting for a super
encryption stripper to arrive here so we can crack into it."

"Would you mind if I gave it a shot?" Charlie responded.  "I can create
a powerful code breaking device using my shadow glove."

"Sure.  Go for it.  Hey, Steve!" the Commissioner shouted out to one of
his men.  "Show these folks the way to the system storage room."

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Charlie plucked a blue glob from the jiggling monolith that stood in the

center of the storage room.  The glob pulsated in his hand.  "You know,
Alice?  The last time I saw you, you actually looked your age."

Alice's lips slipped into a smile.  "It's called reverse aging.  Didn't
you get the memo?"

"I get tons of memos.  I quit reading them years ago."

"Well, as a member of the Forever Council; you're certainly qualified to

receive the treatment.  In a few years, everyone will be able to look
the age they want.  You should get it, Charlie.  It makes you feel

"Maybe.  I don't know.  I kind of like aging.  It feels like something
people are supposed to do.  It feels real, you know?"

"Dying was something people used to do.  But we changed that.  Maybe
it's different for men.  I guess when men age they get a more
distinguished kind of look.  They look wiser.  More important.  When
women age; they just get more wrinkled, grayer, and every part of their
body starts to sag.  I love being twenty again.  I love being beautiful

"You were always beautiful, Alice."

A slightly embarrassed look hit Alice's face.  "Flatterer.  But.  You
can never be too beautiful, Charlie.  Not when you're a women."  She
gave a slight wink.

"Yeah.  Well," Charlie said as he looked at the glob in his hand.  "We
should probably get started with this."

"Right," Alice said as she also took a glob.

"VR-Chew Gum?"  Charlie offered a reddish stick to Alice.

"What type?"


"Mmm.  My favorite," Alice said as she took piece from his hand.

Yes, Charlie thought to himself, I know.  As Alice softened the piece of

gum in her mouth, the smell of cinnamon started to invade the air.  And
with that came the memories.  That time they were trapped in a space
escape pod after battling the Asteroid Sphinx.  They had barely gotten
out.  Charlie had received quite a few broken bones and too many bruises

to even count.  Alice didn't have any injuries.  But she never did.
Nothing could ever hurt The Mirror.  Their pod was drifting into deep
space.  There was no hope that they'd ever be found by anyone.  There
was no food, or water on board.  There was no light.  There was just the

two of them and a pack of Red Scorpion cinnamon flavored gum.  After a
couple of days though, their fellow Destiny Patrollers did manage to
find them.  Sometimes, Charlie wished that they had just gone one more
day before being discovered.  Charlie popped the piece in his mouth.  He

sat on the floor in meditative position and closed his eyes.  Nanobots
in the gum started to activate.  They sped from Charlie's tongue towards

his brain.  The blue glob in his hands started to crackle.  After
awhile, he was connected.

Stars and galaxies washed over him.  He spotted a comet tracing the sky.

He was in virtual space.  He saw Alice floating towards him.  She made a

gesture towards something behind him.

"The watchdog looks familiar.  Doesn't he?" Alice said.

It was gigantic half-human and half-lion robotic creature.  In two of
its hands, it carried a massive greenish looking eye that appeared to be

gazing right at him.  "The Asteroid Sphinx?  Weird.  I was just thinking

about him."

The Asteroid Sphinx opened its eyes.  There was a contemptuous look in
its face.  Eventually, it spoke.  [?]Those who wish to enter the realm
of Mary McCloud must answer these seven whys.  They must find the mirror

in the lie.  The life in the die.  The spider in the fly.  The God in
the guy.  The pit in the sky.  The sea in the dry.  The cook in the pie.

And the storm in the eye.[?]

"Hmm.  A pit in the sky?" Alice said pondering the riddles.  "A cockpit,

maybe?  And the storm in the eye?  Teardrops?  What do you think,

"I think I have no time for this," he said as his shadowglove started to

blast the Asteroid Sphinx with blackness.  The Asteroid Sphinx began to
crack apart.  And a few seconds later, a doorway appeared.

"Ladies first," the Shadowraiser said as he held the doorway open for
Alice.  Alice slipped in and then Charlie followed.

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The room they entered looked like a library.  Shelves with books spread
throughout the entire area.  A little old lady who looked exactly like
the ultimate stereotypical librarian was reading something called
'Lapping Librarians'.  The cover had a couple of very hot young female
librarians completely naked and reading books.

"Hmm.  I guess when the cat's away the librarians do play."  Alice Queen

smirked a bit after saying that.  "So, should we ask her for searching

"Oh, she's probably just reading the articles.  Regardless, we might not

need too," Charlie said as he grabbed a book from the table that they
were close to.  "I believe this is the one we're looking for."  He held
the book up so that Alice could see the title.  It was called the 'Book
of Happy Endings'.  He flipped through the book.  "There must be over a
million Virtual Realities in here."

"Well, I doubt she's been to each one.  Let's check out the ones she
visited last."

"Right."  Charlie flipped to the beginning index and clicked on the most

recently visited list.  "And the last one she visited is -- Fluppsie
Wuppsie World!  Hmm.  That sounds fairly nightmarish to me.  Are you
sure you want to go there?"

The Mirror snorted a small laugh.  "We're superheroes, Charlie.  We're
always living on the razor's edge."

"Well then, into the jaws of hell we go."  Charlie clicked the Fluppsie
Wuppsie World entry in the Book of Happy Endings.

The library checked itself out.

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And was replaced by a happy green meadow.  Candycanes and lollypops
blossomed from the ground.  A jovial Sun whistled a tune that sounded
suspiciously like 'Zippity Doo Dah'.  Bunnies, puppies, kittens, and
teddy bears bounced around playing with each other.  The air smelled
like freshly baked apple pie.  Off in the distance, a big rainbow could
be seen.

"Damn.  It's even worse than I'd imagined.  It's like Bambi meets the
Diabetes Bears."  A couple of puppies sniffed the Shadowraiser's boots.

"Oh, come on!  They're so adorable!"  Alice petted a fawn who had come
near her.  The fawn sniffed her hands as if searching for something.
"Sorry.  I don't have any food."  After hearing that bit of information,

the fawn turned its head leaving in disgust.  "Still.  There is
something creepy about this place.  It's almost too cute, you know what
I mean?  It's like there's something we're just not seeing."

"That could be it right over there."  The Shadowraiser pointed towards
the cool blue pond.  Multi-colored frogs bounced on lily pads.
Something was floating in the water.

"God.  It's a kid.  A little girl," Alice said as she took a closer

The Shadowraiser used his shadowglove to fish the girl from the pond.
The girl looked about six years old and wore a blue and white dress.

"Who is she?" Alice said as she gently pulled the wet hair that obscured

her face.

"I don't know.  I have a feeling though that she's a VR-Avatar.  She
might be a young Mary McCloud.  I think we've seen all we need to see

Alice picked a flower that was caught in the little girl's hair.

"Book of Happy Endings -- appear."  With that command the book
manifested right in Charlie's hand.  "The second to last place she
visited appears to be a VR-World called 'Punishment'.  Shall we go?"

Alice Queen nodded as she stood up.

And Fluppsie Wuppsie World popped like a bubble.

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It was some kind of gigantic man strapped to a table.  The man's head
was the size of a house and the rest of his body was proportional to it.

He was bound by chains to the table, and an ungodly number of wires were

attached to him.  His chest was cut open, and a number of his entrails
hung out.  Giant mechanical scorpions and spiders crawled all over his
naked body.  Occasionally the creatures would bite and sting him.
Sometimes they would burrow under the giant's skin.  The giant made the
most horrible screams as this happened to him.  The giant would have
probably cried too if he had eyes to cry with.  But someone had already
pulled them out of the giants face.

"Jesus Christ."  The Mirror winced as she caught a glimpse of the
gruesome atrocity.  "We've got to end this!"

"Alice?  Remember, this guy's just a virtual creation.  And considering
its size, it might be best if we just keep it tied up for the moment.
Let's just ask it a few questions.  Okay?"

Alice bit her lip.  "Fine.  Ask him a few questions.  But we are going
to free him."

The Shadowraiser floated up towards the giants face.

"Who is that?  I can hear voices!  Please, whoever you are -- Free me!
I beg you!  I can grant you anything you desire!  Please!!  For mercies
sake!!!" wailed the giant.

"Who are you?" the Shadowraiser replied.

"I am _The Alpha_.  I am _The Omega_.  I am _The Beginning and The
Ending_.  I am _The Which Was, The Which Is, and The Which Will Come_.
I am _The Almighty God_!"

"God?  Wow, that's really -- Hmm.  You know, I always got the impression

that you were a bit more -- what's the word?  Oh, yeah!  Omnipotent."

"Charlie!"  Alice gave a very sharp glare.

"Sorry."  Charlie gave an apologetic glance towards Alice Queen.  "So,
how did you wind up in this state, your Almightiness?"

"I was captured by the Judge of All Gods.  It was She who did this to
me!  It was She who tried me for my crimes!  It was she who sentenced
me!  And it was she who administered my punishments!"

"Crimes, huh?  So, what were they?"

"The Crime of creating Reality!  The Crime of creating the Universe!
The Crime of creating Life!  The Crime of creating Humanity!  The Crime
of creating Good and Evil.  And finally the crime of being God!  And,
alas, I was guilty of each one of them."

"Where is the Judge of All Gods?" Charlie asked.

"Over in the Control Booth!"  God made a gesture using one of his
bloodied hands.  The window that covered the booth was made from one-way

glass.  The Mirror smashed through the reflective glass and made her way

in.  The Shadowraiser followed.

Inside the control booth was a gigantic control panel with millions of
switches and buttons.  Each button and switch was its own unique brand
of torture.  On the floor was a hooded woman and a spilled bottle of
pills.  The Shadowraiser unmasked the woman.  Her face was Mary
McCloud's.  Charlie examined the bottle of pills.  Peaceful Death Pills.

The Mirror looked over the control panel.  Finally, she found a button
called 'Forgiveness'.  She hit the button.  The chains that bound God
disappeared.  Free from the chains, he got up and burned the spiders and

scorpions which roamed his body.  All the scars and cuts on his body
healed instantly, and his eyes regenerated back in their sockets.

God looked down upon them and smiled.  "I thank you for what you have
done!  _Now_, I must go back to my _Kingdom in Heaven_.  I hope you both

can find what you're looking for.  Farewell, my children."  And then God

vanished from the Torture Room.

"Damn.  I had a few deep philosophical questions I wanted to ask him.
Like, how licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?
Guess I'll never know."

Alice Queen just looked at the dead form of the Mary McCloud Avatar.
"Why would she do this?  And why this sick fantasy?"

"I dunno.  Guess she wasn't too fond of God.  Something she made so she
would be able to cope with life, I guess.  I really don't know.  We
should probably check out some more.  Alice?"

"Yeah.  Let's do that," Alice said as she placed the pill bottle back on

the floor.

And an old chapter of The Book of Happy Endings turned to make way for a

new one.

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And Alice and Charlie witnessed many more strange and twisted virtual
realities as they journeyed through the book.

There was a reality which took place during the French Revolution.  Mary

McCloud playing Marie Antoinette.

There was a reality set in a World Russian Roulette Tournament.

A reality populated by sentient suicide notes.

A reality where a cooking show used the bodies of suicide victims to
make its dishes.

A reality where suicide was a type of performance art.

A reality where Bob Saget hosted a show called, "America's Funniest

"You beginning to see a trend?" Charlie asked.

"'Fraid so."  Alice flipped through the Book of Happy Endings.  "Let's
try this one.  It's called 'Catharsis'."  And Alice clicked the entry.

And Hell became real.

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The Shadowraiser didn't hesitate as he saw the tourist bus falling from
the sky.  Quickly using his shadowglove, he made a gigantic black
cushion to absorb the bus's impact.  There was something familiar about
this, The Shadowraiser thought to himself.  He sniffed the air.  And
then he looked at Alice.  Alice's hands were trembling.  She was
petrified with fear.  "Amsterdam," she said.  "This is Amsterdam."

And that was all she needed to say.  Amsterdam.  Charlie surveyed the
area.  He could see people running and screaming.  They were in Dam
Square.  He could see the Royal Palace burning down.  The air smelled
like rotting corpses.  It was The Abomination Hounds that made the
smell.  They were creatures twice the height of wolves.  They had two
heads and the skin over their bodies was completely missing.  A green
type of foam dripped from their mouths.  They were also completely
silent.  The only way you could tell one was behind you was the sick
smell.  The Shadowraiser quickly blasted a hound with a shadow cannon he

conjured up.

Also, The Abomination Hounds carried a disease inside them, and anytime
they bit someone the disease would cause the effected person to change
into an Abomination Hound.  And unfortunately, a lot of people did
become them -- had become them.  Still, The Abomination Hounds weren't
the worse things here.  Charlie looked up in the sky.  There was a
fifteen year old boy up in the sky.  The boy had a cruel grin on his
face.  But even the boy wasn't the most horrible thing.  It was the
boy's hand which was the most horrible thing.  The Second Hand.

The Abomination Hounds had come from some portal that the Second Hand
had created.  There was a forcefield around the entire city making it
impossible for anyone to escape or to get in.

Everything Charlie was seeing had happened fifteen years ago.  A million

people had died in Amsterdam, but that wasn't what made Amsterdam
special.  The Second Hand had destroyed four other cities that day.
What made Amsterdam special was that Wendy Rush died here.  Wendy Rush
was The Breeze.  A member of the Destiny Patrol.  She had super-speed
powers, and the faster she ran the more intangible she became.  She was
also excellent with the bow and arrow.  She was a talented artist.  She
was a member of the Hopi Indian Tribe.  Her favorite song was The
Scorpions' 'Wind of Change'.  Her favorite film was 'Midnight Cowboy'.
She loved horses.  She collected postcards.  She saved two hundred and
thirty-two people that day.

Then she was bitten.

She changed into an Abomination Hound.  The Hound inherited her super-
speed powers and ability to become intangible.  In the end, The Destiny
Patrol managed to find a way to stop her -- to stop it.

She was twenty-five when she died.

"This isn't real, Alice," Charlie said as he flew over to her.  "This
isn't real."

"I know.  I know that."  Alice made a choking sound as the smell became
to much for her.  "Let's get out of here."

Charlie nodded.  "Take us back to the Library."

And Hell burned away.

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"Why did she create that?  Why -- why that?" Alice said as they returned

to the library.

"I don't know.  It was a significant part of human history.  The Time of

the Second Hand.  The world completely changed.  It changed everyone.
If it had never happened, the world -- it would be a different place.
If it hadn't happened, would we have done what we did?  Would we have
remade this world into a -- better place?  Who knows.  Maybe it had some

special significance to her.  Was she one of the survivors that day?
Maybe she was feeling survivor's guilt.  Maybe -- I don't know."

"Yeah.  Guess we need to dig into her past."  Alice sighed.  "It's been
so long.  God.  I can't remember the last time I thought of -- Jesus,
it's horrible what I just said.  A certain amount of time passes and you

just stop thinking..."

"Look.  It's okay.  It's alright, Alice.  It was fifteen years ago.
It's normal after awhile to stop thinking of tragedies.  We'd go insane
if we constantly dwelled on them."

"I suppose you're right.  Still.  You can't help, but wonder -- What we

"There's no point in wondering.  We had to do what we did.  We had no
choice.  She was dead already.  She was dead.  We had to do it."

For a few seconds, the room was silent.

"Do you -- Do you think she would have approved of this?  Everything we
did?  You know?  The world -- The world, we made?"

"Of course she would," Charlie gave one of his all knowing glares.
"Heaven or Hell?  It's not a tough choice."

"Yeah, you're right.  You're right.  I wish -- I wish she could have
lived to see this."

"I wish she was here, too.  So -- you okay?"

"Yeah.  I'm fine.  Seeing Amsterdam -- I didn't expect that."

"Yeah, well," Charlie yawned to himself.  "It's been a long morning.
You hungry?"


"I know this place -- Think you'll like it.  It's called: The Wild-Wild

"Westaurant?"  A slight smile broke from her face.  "I suppose I need to

change though."  Alice made a gesture towards her superhero suit.

"Don't worry about it.  They've got changing booths there.  Want to take

a shadow portal?"

"Oh, sure.  What the heck."

The Shadowraiser focused his shadowglove on a shadow near the walls.
The darkness spread till it looked big enough to walk right through.

"Okay.  It's ready."

"Umm, Charlie?  I think you're forgetting something."

"Uh, what?"

"This library isn't real."

"Oh.  Right.  I knew that," Charlie said with a sheepish expression on
his face.  "I did.  Really."

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