MISC/ACRA: Guttertrash #25 (3/4): A Suicide in Destiny City

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at earthlink.net
Sat Mar 12 18:14:47 PST 2005

Part III:  The Storm in the Eye

On top of The Wolfe Tower, The Shadowraiser and The Mirror gazed down at

the city.  The Wolfe Tower was twice the size of the Sears Tower and on
top of it you could pretty much see everything and everywhere.

Charlie looked at Alice.  "Ever had the urge to throw a water-balloon
off this building?"

Alice raised an eyebrow.  "No.  I can't say that I have."

"Years ago, it would have probably hurt someone; but now days --?  It
would just really piss them off.  Aren't Utopias great?"

Alice didn't respond.  She looked like she was lost in some kind of
thought.  Holographic Advertisements flickered in the night sky.

"The Wolfe Tower," Charlie said as he leaned over the edge.  "A monument

to everything the Destiny Patrol fought against.  And to everything the
Destiny Patrol was.  Good old Julius Wolfe.  Whatever happened to him?"

"He's still in prison.  Still in a VR-World containment capsule."

"You've seen him?"

"Yes.  A few times.  He's in some VR-World where he's emperor of the
world.  He's married to me, or should I say married to a VR-duplicate of

me.  He seems happy."

"You didn't actually go into his VR-World, did you?"

Alice Queen hesitated a bit before answering.  "Yeah, I did.  I know
that's really a bad idea, but I couldn't help it.  I went into the world

as a male reporter so it wouldn't trigger any type of suspicion.  I did
a few interviews."

"So, how is he?"

"He's probably worse than he was when he was running the Destiny Patrol.

Some of the acts he's committed in his VR-World are pretty hideous.  He
degenerates more and more every time I see him.  But he's happy."  There

was a sadness in Alice Queen's eyes.  "And that's what's important."

"Sorry.  Not that I'm surprised.  Even when I first joined the Destiny
Patrol, he struck me as a corrupt bastard.  He..."

"Yeah, well -- Sometimes you just hope people will eventually change."
Alice sighed to herself.  "Let's talk about something else."

"So, Mary McCloud -- What's the verdict on her?  Suicide?"

"As much -- as much as I'd like to believe it's something else, it
probably is.  I don't understand.  I just don't understand what could
cause a person to do that."

"Have you ever heard of the Blind Syndrome?"

Alice shook her head.

"Imagine waking up one day and finding out there is only one color.
Black.  White.  Red.  It doesn't matter.  You remember there used to be
all these other colors, but now there's only one.  After awhile even the

color you can see becomes meaningless because what use is one color if
there are no other colors to define it?"

"So we created a world where no one dies.  Death becomes meaningless.
Without Death to define Life, Life becomes meaningless.  We try to make
a world where there is no misery, but we create a world where happiness
is taken for granted and becomes meaningless.  The more of something
there is the less important it becomes.  For the person who has
everything, everything becomes meaningless."

Alice shook her head.  "I don't buy that.  If that's true then why
aren't there tons of people committing suicide?"

"It's just a theory.  Most people have a strong urge to survive.  For
most people killing themselves is unthinkable.  They might be miserable,

but not to the point where it becomes a viable option.  But we are going

to see more suicides.  I suspect in the upcoming weeks, we're going to
see quite a few copy-cat attempts.  On the OmniNET, Mary McCloud is
already starting to become a cult figure.  A new folk-hero for the
modern age."

"Jesus.  That's insane.  We've got to stop them from happening," Alice
said with a determined look on her face.

"How?  And why?  Why should we bother?"

"_Why_?  Come on, Charlie!  Suicide is a horrible act!  It's a
destructive act which hurts everyone who knows the victim!  Mary
McCloud's family is never going to get over this!  They're always going
to wonder if they could have done something to have prevented it!  God!
It's going to destroy them!  It's -- it's -- Christ!!"

"And so people should spend the rest of their lives in misery because
their loved ones will feel bad?"

"Misery?  What Misery!?  Where's the misery here!?  What did Mary
McCloud have to be miserable about!?  There was no reason for her to --
God!  She could have gotten help!  She should have gotten help!"

"Sometimes help is not enough.  Sometimes the happy pills aren't enough.

Sometimes -- there's always something.  Something that can't be fixed."

"What's this about, Charlie?  What are you trying to say?"

"You want to know?  You really want to know?  I know why people want to
blow their brains out.  I know why people want to sleep forever.
Because you can't have everything.  And that thing you can't have -- it
eats you up.  And it's always there in your mind.  And -- and..."


"I can't have you, Alice.  I can never have you."

There was a long moment of silence.

"Charlie -- I..."

"Don't.  I shouldn't have -- Look.  Forget I said that."

"Forget?  Charlie, I can't just..."

"I'm sorry.  It was a stupid -- Look.  You have a wonderful family.  A
wonderful marriage.  I don't want to ruin it -- them.  I don't -- I wish

my feelings for you would disappear.  I want them gone.  But I can't.
I've tried, but I can't."  Charlie hesitated a bit before continuing.
"You know?  There was this -- This year that I spent several months in a

VR-World.  In this world, I was married to you.  I had it set up so that

I would completely forget reality, but -- there was always something.  I

remember feeling that there was something false about it.  It wasn't
you, and I knew it.  I've occasionally thought about trying it again,
but -- Is what I'm saying bothering you?  Alice?"

Alice Queen turned her head away.  "I don't know.  I -- I want to --
Yes, I guess it does bother me.  It's weird hearing..."  Alice looked
back at Charlie.  "I'm sorry.  I'm not judging you, or -- I've done
things in the VR-Worlds I'm not proud of too -- I..."

"I'm not ashamed of what I did, Alice."

"I didn't say you should be -- I didn't mean it like..." Alice placed
one of her hands on Charlie's shoulder.  "I'm glad you told me this,
Charlie.  And I love you -- as a friend.  Seeing you today -- talking to

you -- having lunch -- it was wonderful.  I can't express how much
seeing you today meant to me.  You're important to me, Charlie.  God,
you're important!  If you killed yourself, I -- I don't even want to
think about it.  I can't think about it.  Part of me died when Wendy --
when Wendy -- I love you, Charlie.  I love the hell out of you, Charlie!

But I can't -- I can't love you in a romantic way.  I can't -- It would
kill Rick.  I couldn't -- I wouldn't do that."

"I know.  And I wouldn't want to hurt you, Alice.  It's not just you,
Alice.  I've got tons of other reasons why I can't take living anymore.
I've always been depressed.  Suicidal.  I think that's the reason I
became a superhero.  I had a death wish.  But despite all the crazy and
stupid things I did; somehow, I always survived it.  I don't want you to

feel guilty or hurt, Alice.  I just -- I just want to die because I want

to die.  There's nothing I can do about these feelings."

"Yes, you can!  You can fight, goddammit!" Alice said with an angry tone

in her voice.  "You don't have an excuse, Charlie!  You have access to
the best doctors and the best medicine!  And anything I can do to help,
I will!  Get help, Charlie.  If you really care about my feelings, get
help.  Please."

"I have.  I've done the shrink and pill game.  I've tried all types of
things.  I don't want to fight anymore.  Maybe I'm weak, or a coward --
but I can't do it anymore.  You don't understand, Alice.  You could
never understand."

"No.  Don't tell me what I can, or can't understand!" Alice said
pointing her finger at Charlie.  "You think my life's a bed full of
roses!?  I have my highs -- my lows.  I know what depression feels like!

And I know what it feels like to stop believing in hope!  Don't tell me
I don't understand this!"

There was silence for a moment.  Thoughts trapped in the mind unable to
become words.

And then Alice spoke up.  "What would you do if I was suicidal, Charlie?

If I wanted to end it?"

Charlie didn't speak.  There was something in his mind -- a door.  A
door that should have stayed shut, but it was creaking open.

"Well?" Alice said crossing her arms.  "Well, Charlie?  What would you

"Honestly?  I'd probably try to stop you."

"So -- let me get this straight -- It's okay for you to commit suicide;
but not for me, is that it?"

"No.  It wouldn't be right for me to stop you, but I probably would.  If

you committed suicide, I'd feel horrible.  Devastated.  It would kill
me.  And I'd probably feel guilt about not being able to help you.  But.

I'd like to think that I'd understand.  That's what I want, Alice.  For
you to understand.  I don't want you to feel guilt, or hurt.  I just
want you to understand."

"I won't, Charlie.  I won't understand.  I'll never be able to
understand.  There's nothing you could do to ease my hurt if you ever
did do it."

"Maybe we should call it a night."

"No, I'm not leaving you here.  Not when you're in this state."

"Jesus, Alice.  I'm not going to commit suicide right this minute.  I've

got -- There are things I need to do first.  I'm going to finish my
memoirs which is probably going to take me a year.  And then -- I guess
then I'll make any major life decisions.  It's okay, Alice.  You can
leave me."

"No.  I don't think I can.  You need someone to be with you right now."

"Alice, when I say something I mean it.  You know that.  I promise --
I'm not going to kill myself tonight.  Cross my heart, hope to die,
stick a needle in my eye -- and all that jazz.  I promise.  I want to be

alone.  Really.  Please leave.  Please, Alice.  Leave."

Alice Queen looked Charlie straight in the eye.  "I want your word.  You

won't kill or hurt yourself tonight.  I want your word, Charlie."

"You've got my word.  I promise.  Go."

Alice put her arms around Charlie and gave him a very tight hug as if
she was holding onto a palm tree during a hurricane.  And part of
Charlie wished that she would never let go.  But after awhile, she let
go.  Her eyes were slightly red; and her nose was slightly sniffling.
Charlie conjured up a piece of shadow kleenex and gave it to her.  She
wiped her eyes and then blew her nose into it.  She gave a slight smile
and a thank you.

"We're going to have breakfast tomorrow," Alice said.  It wasn't a
question or suggestion.  More like an order.

"Yeah.  We'll have breakfast."  Charlie gave Alice a smile.

"You still live in the same place?" Alice asked.

"Yeah.  The Sundown Building."

"Well, I'll meet you there at seven.  Okay?"

"Sure.  Seven it is."

Alice stepped close to the edge of the building and then she looked back

at Charlie.  "Well, see you in the morning."  Then she hesitated for a
moment, but finally made the leap.

"See you," Charlie said.  He watched Alice as she flew away.  Some part
of him wanted to shout, 'Stay.  Please.'  But he resisted.  He just
watched her as she slowly disappeared into the night.  And then he sat
down.  It was just him and the various advertisements that lit up the
night air.

<<LUNG CANCER IS DEAD!>> proclaimed one of the ad-holographs.

He could hear the sound of the Rolling Stones' 'Honkey Tonk Women'
coming from the ad.  At first it was soft, but the sound grew louder and

louder each coming second.


Charlie could see something coming from the distance in the ad.  It was
a woman riding a bull.  The woman didn't appear to be wearing anything
besides a cowboy hat, some boots, and spurs.  Eventually, he received a
full view of her.  Her hair was fire red, and everything else about her
was perfect.  She rummaged through her saddle and found a packet of
cigarettes.  She took a cigarette out.  Then she looked right at Charlie

and gave him a very suggestive smile.  And then she placed the cigarette

between her lips and with one finger touched the tip of the cigarette.
A flame appeared.  She took the cigarette out of her mouth and then blew

a cloud of smoke.  Charlie could smell it.  It smelled like a cinnamon
breeze.  The Rodeo Gal started stroking her breasts and other parts of
her body with one hand while the other hand flicked holographic ashes.


God, why was he watching this shit?  God, this was horrible.  Charlie
shut his eyes.  Everything was falling.  Everything was cracking.
Dissolving.  Sometimes -- everything was too real.  The light cracked
the shadows.  What was he doing here?  Why is the mirror in the lie?


The cracks were starting to become huge.  Reality was starting to come
through.  There was no point in staying.  He needed to go back home.

He needed to end this.  "Program: Alice-25 [End].  [End Program]."

And the Rodeo Gal disappeared.  As did the Wolfe Tower.  As did the

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Charlie opened his eyes.  He put the glob of System-GEL down on the
floor and took the wad of VR-gum out of his mouth.  He was in an empty
room and scattered on the floor were a bunch of old newspapers and a
bottle of scotch.  There was a mirror on the wall.  He went over to it.
He was just wearing a pair of boxers.  His hair was long and messed up.
Instead of a clean-shaven face, he had an unkempt beard.  He touched the

mirror.  Why is the mirror in the lie?

Why was he doing this?  Was he trying to find the truth?  Or was he just

creating a fairy tale?  God.  Alice.  Sometimes, he tried to make sense
of everything.  Sometimes, he thought, If you look at something long
enough you can understand it.  You can make sense of the world and
everything.  He grabbed the bottle of scotch on the floor.

He should just get drunk.  Just stinking drunk.  No.  He shouldn't do
that.  No.  He should.  It wouldn't matter.  He could take a Hang-never
pill.  And wake up fine.  No.  He wanted a hangover.  He wanted to hurt.

He wanted to be miserable.  God.  He clutched the bottle tightly.  He
hated this fucking world.  Alice.  This fucking utopia.  What a joke.
Just get drunk.  Just get drunk.

He looked at the bottle.  And then in a fit of rage, he threw it at the
mirror.  There was a loud crash.  The bottle of scotch shattered and the

mirror cracked.  There were pieces of glass all over the floor.  Why did

he do that?  God, why did he do that?  Alice.  He went over and examined

the damage.  He picked up a piece of the mirror.  For a long while he
just stared at it.  And stared at his reflection.  He squeezed the piece

of glass in his hand.  It crumbled to pieces.  He looked at his hand.
There were no cuts, or bleeding.  He missed that.  Now you could only
feel physical pain in the VR-Worlds.  Cuts only shed virtual blood.

It didn't matter.  This didn't matter.  He looked at the glass on the
floor.  The nano-maids would clean in up.  And he could have his mini-
god make a new mirror and bottle of scotch.  That was the great thing
about utopias.  Nothing mattered.  Alice.  Nothing fucking mattered.
Maybe he could have his mini-god make some heroin or crack.  It didn't
matter.  Everything was safe now days.  Pleasure was just a button away.

He looked at the System-GEL on the floor.  No.  He had a better idea.
He picked the blob off the floor.  Escape.  Escape from it all.  Yes.
Alice.  He unwrapped another stick of VR-Chew Gum.  He put the stick in
his mouth.  He sat down and placed his hands over the System-GEL.  Into
paradise, he'd go.  To hell, he'd go.  He closed his eyes.

"Run Program: Alice-28.  Link Previous Program End.  Forget Reality."

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Charlie found himself back on top of the Wolfe Tower.  But he could
still remember.  "Forget Reality!" he shouted.  "Forget Reality."

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And then he paused.  He had been thinking of something.  What was it?
Something important.  He couldn't quite remember.  There was something
running down his cheek.  It felt like water.  Must be a raindrop.  Must
be starting to rain.  Why was he here?  Alice.  She had left him.  I
should go home, Charlie thought to himself.  No sense in getting soaked.

And then he heard a voice.  "Wait!" the voice said.  It was Alice's
voice.  She had returned.

"Jesus, Alice.  I told you -- I'm not going to commit suicide!"

"It's not that.  I -- a lot of stuff was brought up tonight and -- If
you don't want to talk I'll leave."

"It's okay.  We can talk.  What's wrong?"

Alice looked away from Charlie and then looked back, hesitant to say
anything.  But finally she did.  "God.  It's my marriage.  When I said
it was fine, I was..."  She put her hand on her mouth.  "It's not fine.
It hasn't been fine for -- I don't know.  I shouldn't be talking about
this.  I -- I have feelings for you, Charlie.  I always have."

Rain drops started to sprinkle on top of their heads.

"It's okay, Alice."

"No, it's -- I love you, and I love Rick.  But Rick -- Rick doesn't
touch me anymore.  I can't remember the last time we had -- Why didn't
you tell me?  Why didn't you say something, Charlie?  Before the

"I didn't know how you felt.  I was afraid.  There was that thing you
were having with Julius.  I don't know."

"God, this is hell," Alice said as the raindrops started to increase.
"I should have realized..."

Charlie lightly touched Alice's hand and then gently raised it up.
Their fingers locked together.  Lightning streaked across the sky.

"This is wrong.  We can't do this.  We can't..."  Alice let go of
Charlie's hand.

"Why?  Why is this wrong?  Rick will never find out.  No one will know
about this."  Their bodies inched closer and closer to one another.
Everything getting closer.

"I can't lie.  I can't do it."  Their faces closed in.  Thunder rumbled
in the background.

"Lies aren't evil, Alice.  Happiness isn't evil.  You deserve happiness,

Alice.  We both deserve it.  We did our time in hell.  We did out..."
Their lips...

Then their lips touched.  At first it was a slow kind of touch, but then

it -- it started to speed up.  Faster.  Starved for touch for so long,
they devoured one another.  Their eyes closed to the world.  Their hands

clutched and grasped at the others body.  Fingers dug into the fabric
trying to get closer and closer.  Hands philosophized about the nature
of ripped clothing.  And the rain kept pouring.  The Shadowraiser's
shadowglove started to raise the shadows that existed on the rooftop.
The shadows glided to the interlocked bodies.  The shadows started
dancing like flames around the two bodies.  The shadows consumed the
bodies.  A cocoon of darkness wrapped around them.  The world became
skin and sweat.  The rain kept pouring.  The rain kept pouring.  Nothing

could stop it.  Everything dissolved.

Heaven drowned the light.

Heaven drowned the shadows.

Heaven drowned Destiny City.

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Somewhere, there's a beautiful garden.  A man named Adam, and a woman
named Eve lie in its grass.  They're both naked.  Their arms are around
each other.  They're both looking up at the clouds.  They're giving the
clouds names.  Making up funny stories for the things they see in the
clouds.  They don't know what the words good and evil mean.  In the
distance, their two children: Cain and Abel play with each other.  The
two of them will transform into dinosaurs and compete in a contest to
see who can kill the most animals in the garden.

Somewhere, a man ascends up a golden staircase towards the clouds.  He
has survived the trials of the Mermaids, The Catwomen, The Sirens, The
Succubi, The Nymphs, and The Amazons.  Now there is one last trial.  One

last test.  He must pass the Orgy of the Angels.  If he is successful,
he will then become a Sex-Wizard Level 25.  He takes some breath-spray
out of his pocket and gives his mouth a spritz.

Somewhere, a group of men in camouflage outfits kick back and drink a
few brewskies.  Besides them is a pile of dead bodies.  The faces on the

bodies look familiar.  One looks like Adolph Hitler.  Another one looks
like Joseph Stalin.  Still another looks like Osama Bin Ladin.  It's
been a good day hunting.

Somewhere, an artist proudly shows off her paintings to a crowd of
onlookers at a gallery.  Once upon a time, her beautiful visions were
trapped in her head unable to escape.  She only knew how to paint
ugliness.  But thanks to the Michelangelo implants she received, she is
able to pour her dreams onto the canvas for the world to see.

Somewhere, there's a place where everything makes sense.  There's always

an answer.  A place where a little hard work and determination can fix
any problem.  Everything clicks into place.  A place where people can
understand.  Understand everything.  Everyone.  Every action.

Somewhere, there's a place where Alice Queen's suicide makes sense.


Somewhere, the rainbows never end.

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Copyright 2005 Arthur Spitzer

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