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

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at
Thu Feb 12 19:01:20 PST 2009

Beginning of Part III

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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 copycat 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 that 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 puppies!?  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 was creaking open.

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

"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 guilty 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.  It was 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.  Then 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 night.

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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 scattered with old newspapers on the floor 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 looked at something long 
enough you could understand it.  You could 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."

Raindrops 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.  This whole -- " 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 got 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 our..." 
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 declared war on the cloth prison 
that suffocated both their bodies.  No mercy -- No surrender.  Rip. 
Rip.  Rip.  The fabric disappeared into history's black hole.  And the 
rain kept pouring.  The Shadowraiser's shadowglove started to raise the 
shadows 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 lush grass.  They're both naked.  Their arms are 
around each other.  They're both looking up into the clouds.  They give 
the clouds names.  Make up funny stories for the things that 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.  Near 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 for hunting.

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

Somewhere, there's a place where everything makes sense.  There's always 
an answer.  A place where the doors are never locked.  The puzzle pieces 
always fit.  The maps are infinite.  A place where people can 
understand.  Understand everything.  Everyone.  Every action.

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


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

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Copyright 2005 Arthur Spitzer

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End of Part III

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