Doc Tesseract

The adventures of Greg Silverman, retail industry employee, prospective college student and superhero.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I'm Back

And all it took was some food and some deep discussion.

I arrived at the Continental at 8. When I went in and talked to the server, he told me that there was a table waiting for me upstairs. I went up, and saw Quint sitting at a table. He was wearing a business suit for a change, and was accompanied by a redheaded girl (Judy) and an Arab guy with short black hair and a "NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS, HERE'S THE SEX PISTOLS" T-shirt (I guessed Zulfikar).

"Glad you could make it, Doc," he said. "Sit down."

I did. I felt a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing. "Look, Quint--" I said.

"No," he said warmly. "No aliases. I don't want us to talk as superheroes; I want us to talk as friends. Call me Todd."

"Alice," said Judy.

"Ahmed," said Zulfikar.

"Then... Greg, I guess," I said. "Okay, then. Listen, guys, I'm glad you want to help me, but I still need some time to think things through."

"We're not here to interfere, Greg," said Todd. "If you don't want to go back to fighting crime just yet, then that's okay. We just want to help you with what you experienced."

I got a little angry. "What I 'experienced'," I said, "was killing a man. Plain and simple. No amount of verbal finesse is gonna make it less than what it really was."

"And there were other options?" asked Ahmed gently.

I paused. "No," I admitted. "I thought about doing other things, but I was afraid of what would happen if they backfired. By shooting Talin into space, I thought no one else would get hurt."

"And you succeeded in that," said Ahmed. "Thanks to your actions, millions of lives were saved."

"Yeah, I know," I said. "But, even then... I don't feel good about it. I know he was a terrorist, but he was still a person. I didn't want to have to do it."

"But you did," said Todd. "That is what superheroics is all about. If we did what we wanted with our powers, I would probably be one of the wealthiest men on the planet. But I still hold down a 9-to-5 job. Why? Because it's right. We, as heroes, must make sacrifices. We must put aside what we want to do for what we must do. It is our obligation."

"But what if I don't want that obligation?" I said. "What if I don't want to have to kill someone?"

"Greg." Alice spoke up for the first time that night. "We all make mistakes in our lives. Tell me something; when you did what you did, did you want Talin to die?"

"No," I said.

"Do you really think, had you done anything differently, Talin would have stopped what he was doing and turned himself in?"

I thought about it. "No."

"I got close enough to Talin to be able to read his thoughts. Greg... he wanted to die. It wasn't about killing in the name of G-d; he wanted to be with his wife again, and to take out as many people as it took to get into Heaven. He wanted to die, and he wasn't going to stop for anything. I don't know how that makes you feel, but I want you to think about it. All the lives you saved on Thursday, and all the lives you've saved so far, against one man with a death wish. Please, Greg. Just think about it."

I did. And, when I looked back on everything-- my fight with El Hechicero, the zombie attack, Azazel-- I had done a lot of good. I know I'll have to carry Talin's death with me for the rest of my life, but I'll also carry the knowledge that I've saved many lives.

"Okay," I said. "I'm in. But at least give me the rest of the weekend to think some things over."

"All right," said Todd. "We're glad to have you back."

The rest of the evening was dining and chatting, with no shop talk. Just like the drinks after Azazel, I didn't feel like I was with heroes anymore; I felt like I was with humans. And I felt like I'd really found my place.

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