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

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at
Thu Feb 12 18:55:47 PST 2009

[Hey, Russ.  Please replace the archive one with this one.  This one 
doesn't have those irritating space breaks.]

[Reposting this for Valentine's Day.  It's a love story.  Perhaps a 
depressing love story.  Also is more edited and has some sentences. 
Also the first appearance of Dr. Cool J Dog for those who keep track of 
such things.]


[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, there's a place where the rainbows never end.

Somewhere, people sip miracle margaritas while waiting to board space 
shuttles that will fly them to monstrous space cruisers that will send 
them on tours to see the colonies on the Moon and Mars.  Afterwards, 
they will travel throughout the solar system and be baptized by the 
glory of 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 infected their land.

Somewhere in the city of 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.

Somewhere, there are a million crosses.  People of all sexes, race, 
size, and age are crucified on them.  Each one has a pained expression 
on his or her face.  Each one asks God why he/she/it has forsaken them. 
  Each one waits for his or her chance to die for the sins of mankind. 
Occasionally tourists will stand next to them to have their picture 
taken with the self-appointed savior of the world.

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 from 
the shadows ate 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!  Right?"

"No, I'd prefer my hymn shit free, but thank you," replied the man as he 
stepped out from the blackness.  He was an extremely well-built 
physically fit middle-aged Japanese man.  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 one was covered by a black glove.  The 
glove gobbled up any light that dared get close to it.  He placed his 
gloved hand on the blackness painting the door.  As he touched it, the 
glove completely absorbed whatever darkness remained.  The man's name 
was Charlie Hiroshima although he was better known to the world 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 of the 
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 that surrounded a silverish center. 
The center was so reflective that you could see your own face when you 
looked into it.  The woman was Alice Queen.  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-five.

Alice Queen's eyes slipped away from the two policemen she was talking 
to when she 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 the 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 better."

Charlie turned his attention to the man whom Alice had pointed to.  "Hi, 
Mr. Hiroshima.  Name's 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 
super-villain 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 suicide."

"If I could just interrupt here," Charlie said, "How did this lady -- 
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 any clearer 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 seems perfect.  And the interviews 
with friends and family said she was always happy -- at least no signs 
of anything 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 super-villain involved?  Someone who manipulated with this woman's 

"Well, we've certainly faced some in our time.  You know the 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.  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 them; 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 again."

"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 on 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.

Yeah, Charlie thought to himself, I know.  As Alice softened the piece 
of gum in her mouth, the smell of cinnamon started to melt the air.  And 
with that came the memories.  Damn the memories.  That time they were 
trapped in a space escape pod after fighting the Asteroid Sphinx.  They 
had barely gotten out.  Charlie had received a number of 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.  Nano-bots 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 through him.  "The Asteroid Sphinx?  Weird.  I was just 
thinking about him."

The Asteroid Sphinx opened its eyes.  Eyes that had the blackest secrets 
of the universe buried within them.  There was a contemptuous look in 
its face.  Yet there was also a dark satisfaction on its lips.  Like it 
knew some shadowy horrible secret that would destroy the two heroes.  An 
inescapable doom already written.  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, Charlie?"

"I think I have no time for this," he said as his shadowglove started to 
blast the Asteroid Sphinx with blackness and complex mathematical 
algorithms.  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; 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.  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 grabbing a book from the table they were close 
to.  "Call it a hunch, but this could be what we're after."  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 was -- Fluppsie 
Wuppsie World!  Hmm.  Sounds fairly nightmarish to me.  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.  Candy-canes 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 a freshly baked apple pie.  Off in the distance, a big rainbow 
could be seen.

"Damn.  Even worse than I'd imagined.  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 that had come 
near her.  The fawn sniffed her hands as if searching for something. 
"Sorry.  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 look.

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 here."

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 giant's 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 giant's 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! 

"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 were 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 that covered his body.  All the scars and cuts on his body 
healed instantly, and his eyes regenerated back into 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 was dying to ask him. 
  Like, how many 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 

"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 that was the most horrible thing.  The Second Hand.

The Second Hand was a horrible spell that should have never been cast. 
There was an ancient myth explaining how a force known only as 'The 
First Hand' had created the universe.  It was said that eventually there 
would come a time when its brother 'The Second Hand' would come to erase 
the creation that 'The First Hand' had built.  Whether there was any 
relation between 'The Second Hand' and the myth was never known, but 
what was known was for one week the world felt like the end had finally 
come and there was nothing it could do to stop it.

The first thing The Second Hand did in Amsterdam was cover the entire 
city with a force-field so that no one could enter or escape the city. 
The next thing it did was create a portal that connected the universe to 
the Abomination Hound's universe.

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 destroyed four other cities that same 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 
too 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 all right, 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.  She was 

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 -- didn't expect that."

"Yeah, well," Charlie yawned to himself.  "Been a long morning.  You 


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

"Westaurant?"  A slight smile broke from her face.  "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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= ** - - ** =           = ** - - ** =           = ** - - ** =
       |                       |                       |

End of Part I

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