I sat in terror for the three days I was in the hospital.
He didn’t come back and I wasn’t comforted at all.
All I could think of was Redeemer flying all around the world, my world, a world with no capable of stopping him. No technology capable of making him break a sweat, a world completely unprepared for a man who could bring the Apocalypse all by his lonesome. Only my drug induced state kept me calm.
Please God, let this be a morphine-induced nightmare. The whole time I prayed I fingered the crushed aluminum bedframe, rubbing it like a rosary. On the third day, my father came to get me. He was dressed for work, in his attorney-armor, his face impassive and cold. As usual, he had little to say to me. His demeanor relayed his assumption I was doing my usual, something boneheaded and barely worthy of his acknowledgement. I know my mother sent him, he would not have come on his own. She scared him, but not enough to divorce her. She would get everything.
“Where do you plan to live? Your apartment is still a crime scene.” His voice oozed the disapproval of a parent filled with the shame of a son who did not achieve all that a one hundred and fifty IQ and one hundred thousand dollars worth of Harvard education should have become: a comic illustrator. I was the shame that kept on giving as far as he was concerned.
As he rolled me down the hospital corridor, I had to think. Where was I going to live? I hadn’t thought about anything beyond Redeemer promising to conquer the planet. “Maybe I can go and live with Will. He is my co-writer and colorist who helps me with my comics. Do you have a phone I could borrow? Mine was…” He hands his phone barely able to contain his contempt.
When we reached the street my heart stopped. Manfred Drake was standing in the doorway. Drake was Redeemer’s secret identity! He stood there in a dark suit, with a red tie and a black shirt. His brown skin positively radiated energy. His hair was close-cut and his eyes recognized me and when he spoke, his tone was ironic and yet still warm. “Galactic Press sent me to take you to your hotel, Mr. Marris.” He stood next to a magnificent cherry-red Mercedes.
“I didn’t know they came in red,” was all I could get out.
“They don’t, it’s a custom paint job.” His smirk told me he was enjoying my discomfiture.
Looking up at my father, he smiled his megawatt smile and introduced himself. “Hello, sir. My name is Drake.” He held his hand out to my father. “You are welcome to come along, sir.”
“No, if your company is willing to take him off my hands, all the better. Goodbye, son. Good luck with your… writing.” He turned away with nary a look back. I watched him walk away into the parking lot, wishing there was something I could have said to make him proud of me. Drake’s eyes watched me, I could not read his expression.
“He’s a piece of work. Now I know where you get it from. Can I help you into your car, Mr. Marris?” He held his hand out to me and I leaned my weight onto his hand. He lifted me effortlessly and slid me into the car. He closed the door and got into the Mercedes. “I haven’t had a chance to repair your apartment, but I have already paid a crew to do the work you need. I hope you don’t mind.”
He eased into traffic and my mind had a dozen questions. I was afraid of the answers. How did he get money? “Let me go through your questions so you can get to mine. No, I didn’t rob any banks or armored cars. Your Las Vegas is just like ours. There were at least six ways I could make money there. With perfect muscular control, I can roll dice and get the number I want as easily as you can put butter on toast. With my ability to focus my attention, I can watch poker players and read the smallest micro-expressions to know when and how to play my hand. With my ability to compute vectors, roulette is no more challenging than the average morning crossword puzzle. Walking down the strip I was able to acquire a million dollars in an eight hour shift. I didn’t even rush.”
We exited the freeway and I found myself sitting outside the Fairmont Heritage in Ghirardelli Square, one of the most expensive hotels on the wharf in San Francisco. He got out the car, paid a valet an obscene amount of money and a wheelchair was there to meet me. “Okay, I am a little confused as to why you are doing this.” Drake looked ahead and waved to the concierge and continued toward the elevators.
“Call it an apology. I had a few days to think and to look at your world. You are a product of your environment.” His face had no laughter, no mocking, nothing to say he was even remotely trying to be funny. For a moment I wanted to be offended.
“Don’t be. My world is as my creator made it, filled with strife, heroes and villains locked in a never-ending struggle. A simplistic reflection of his own worldview, uncomplicated by politics, megacorporations, and a pervasive greed that keeps billions in poverty while a few enjoy all that life has to offer.”
He rolled me into the room and once inside he lifted me gently from my chair, with the same ease he might move a doll. He placed me on the bed and sat down in a large nearby chair. I had to admit the room was beautiful in a way I had never known. Dark wood, light from the deck spilled into the room and I could see the bay from the window, small sailboats slowly moving in the choppy water.
Drake continued, “I asked you not to be offended because considering what you could have done to Metro City and to my world in general, it could have been like this place. You ban books, but not guns. You protest abortion but not the poverty caused by overpopulation, you promote prisons and a culture of violence but not schools. If all I have to contend with is a villain bent on taking over the world, who even if he were successful, he would not do all that you have done here, I can accept that. Your world is hell on Earth.”
He stood up and walked to the deck window. He slid open the door and stepped outside, letting in a warm ocean breeze. “Onto the real question. Have you given any thought about how to send me back?”
“I have no idea.” I whispered, but I knew he could hear it.
“Well you better get one quickly. I have noticed something since I have been here and you won’t like it. My presence seems to have caused an instability in your universe’s causal framework.”
“If I stay still too long, bad things happen. While I was in Vegas, there was a gas main explosion. I was able to contain most of the explosion underground and minimize the casualties. The explosion destroyed my suit and my money. I had to start all over again. Flying over the ocean, a tanker was lost in a storm and had been overturned by a rogue wave. I managed to keep the ship from sinking by beaching it.
The crew thinks they were just fortunate to run aground. During my world tour, I stopped in Russia. During my visit, an asteroid came down over Moscow and I caused it to explode by superheating it with my flash-vision. So far no one has seen me, but if this continues, eventually someone will realize they are not on a movie set.”
“I will think of something,” I stammered. He tossed me a phone. It looked just like my old one, only newer.
“You have until the end of the week and then my apology will end.” He put his hands together and there was a flash of light. He was wearing a variation of his Redeemer costume except it was dark and done all in a stretchy leather. “Your world is low on variable molecules so I had to make due. I figured if I was going to go dark, I might as well look the part. See you in a week.”
He disappeared from sight without a sound.
Apotheosis © Thaddeus Howze 2013, All Rights Reserved
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