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4 mos ago
Current Don't let lack of original thought stop you from posting in the status bar. It never stops anyone else.
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1 yr ago
Hello, 2020? Why do we still have monuments to these pieces of shit who owned people as property.
6 likes
1 yr ago
THOMAS JEFFERSON MAY HAVE INVENTED THE SWIVEL CHAIR, AKA THE GREATEST FURNITURE INVENTION OF ALL TIME, BUT FUCK THAT SLAVE OWNING PIECE OF SHIT
8 likes
1 yr ago
You know not all cops are bad and not all protestors are criminals... but all mods are gay.
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1 yr ago
You know what I say when people tell us to never forget 9/11? All buildings matter.
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Metropolis


On any sort of map or realtor directory the Queensland neighborhood was called Lane Hill, but everyone called the six square block area “Little Lagos.” African immigrants from all over the massive continent settled the neighborhood starting in the early 20th century. Back then it was one of the few places on the American eastern seaboard Africans could find refuge among those with a similar background. And while it was truly a pan-African mix of nationalities, the higher than average concentration of Nigerians gave it the nickname of Little Lagos.

Ever since the early 90’s a new subgroup of immigrants had found their way to Little Lagos: Wakandans. Citizens of the secretive little nation had fled to America for many different reasons. Most of them were members of Wakanda’s lowest caste and sought a chance at improving their lot in life, some were attending Metropolis University on student visas. Some of those students might go back home after their studies were complete, but plenty more would stay. But the biggest percentage of Wakandas who called Little Lagos home were the dissidents. They arrived on American soil seeking political asylum after committing the ultimate sin of disagreeing with the government.

Odwa was one of those dissidents. These days he spent twelve hours driving an Uber around the city, but once upon a time he was a very powerful man inside the borders of Wakanda. He was good at his job. Too good, it turned out. A decision was made that Odwa was too dangerous to be kept alive. He'd used every bit of his resources and influence to get out of Wakanda alive, one step of his hunters. He’d reached America with nothing but the clothes on his back, but he’d made it here alive and under the protection of the most powerful nation on the planet.

And now he was here. And where was here, exactly? A small two bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of a walk-up building. Odwa sat in a recliner eating his frozen dinner while he watched television. He enjoyed watching the old American sit-coms of the 1970’s, one of the many cultural things that never made its way to Wakanda. Odwa finished his Salisbury steak and started on the mashed potatoes as the next episode started. The upbeat theme song blared through the TV's small speakers. From a rooftop across the street, an unseen figure watched Odwa intently.



“Come and knock on our door... (Come and knock on our door)
We've been waiting for you.... (We've been waiting for you)
Where the kisses are hers and hers and his,
Three's company too.”




New York City


The Presidential Suite of the Waldorf Astoria was aptly named. Every president since Herbert Hoover stayed on the 35th floor of the hotel. Calvin’s security detail and entourage took over the suite, the entire 35th floor, and both the floor above and below it. Calvin stood at the window that overlooked Lexington Avenue below. He could hear the heartbeat of a sniper placed on the roof of the building across the street. His guardian angel, a Secret Service sharpshooter that could drop any person from a mile away. Again, great protection for any other president besides him. He heard static from somewhere across the great cacophony of noise that was New York City.

“Eyes on target. Black SUV, coming up Park Ave. Parking outside Waldorf Astoria. Standby.”

That wasn't just his security, but something else. Agents talking in short, clipped sentences about a target on the move. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise, thought Calvin. The UN General Assembly was meeting today. Calvin wouldn’t be the only head of state present in the city, and he definitely wouldn’t be the only person under surveillance.

“What’s up?” Pete asked.

“Nothing,” Calvin said, shaking his head. “Just lost in thought. Maggie, where are we on the UN agenda?”

Secretary of State Maggie Sawyer peered over her reading glasses at the notebook in front of her. Maggie, along with Pete, Calvin, and the always present Secret Service agents, were the only ones in the room.

“Most of the Security Council want to vote on some kind of resolution and action on the Myanmar coup. But we’re getting pushback from China and Russia.”

“Like always,” said Calvin. “And all it takes is one veto from one of them to stop any resolution dead in its tracks. What else?”

“The secretary-general is trying to push through some kind of worldwide agreement on rolling back fossil fuel usage and slowing climate change.”

Calvin nodded and didn’t add anything else. That was the issue with the UN. They could make resolutions and pledges, but they were generally toothless as an organization to enforce anything. There were no levers of power for them to access. So the secretary-general and general assembly could adopt as many resolutions as it wanted, it still wouldn’t stop places like China and even the United States from its continued pollution. It was like trying to use a hall monitor to stop a bank robbery.

“And those are probably the bullet points for you,” said Maggie. “The rest of their agenda is developing economic growth in third world countries, expanding healthcare and internet access, stuff Ambassador Brand can handle--”

“Mr. President,” Secret Service Agent Ross came through the door. “You… uhh, have a visitor, sir.”

“Who?”

Before Ross could answer, he saw the two breathtakingly beautiful dark-skinned women in red dresses. Despite their beauty and high heels, Calvin knew the Dora Milaje were without a doubt two of the three deadliest humans in this room. Their king was the deadliest. They flanked him on both sides. He, of course, wore a simple black outfit. Black pants, black shoes, and a black tunic. Fitting attire for the Black Panther.

“President Ellis,” T’Challa, King of Wakanda, said with a slight bow. He introduced himself before continuing. “I am so sorry for the intrusion, but I wished to stop by to introduce myself and talk over some things. Is that okay?”

Calvin glanced towards Maggie and Pete. They both seemed as confused by his sudden appearance as Calvin was. But while Calvin Ellis didn’t know T’Challa, Superman was well acquainted. T’Challa very rarely did irrational and unpredictable things. And there was an additional wrinkle. Calvin could hear the continued squawk of walkie-talkies and surveillance chatter from somewhere else.

“I’ve got eyes on him. He’s… with the president? What should we do? I mean... what can we do but wait?”

Whoever these people were, they were watching T’Challa. And they were Americans.

“Guys,” Calvin said. “Can you give us the room? That’s everyone, both American and Wakandan bodyguards.”

Calvin noticed the hesitation with both his Secret Service agents and T’Challa’s escorts, but eventually everyone complied. Calvin waited until the doors to the suite were closed before speaking.

“I didn’t think you usually made an appearance at the UN,” said Calvin.

“I normally don’t,” said T’Challa. “But part of my ongoing pledge to open Wakanda up includes things like this, I’m afraid. But I’m not here to discuss government business, old friend.”

“Is it to do with the Americans watching your every move?” asked Calvin.

“Yes,” T’Challa nodded. “I believe the Black Panther has been framed for murder, Calvin. I need your help to clear my name.”
Work has been a MFer, but I'm chugging along with both characters.


New York City
January 1937

Dian Belmont knew she shouldn’t be here. The city morgue this time of night was no place for a girl like her. But... she just had to see it for herself. She had never really figured out why she was like this. Maybe it was being the only child raised by an NYPD detective? Her mother had died at an early age, so it was just her and her father for most of her life. Whereas some widowers turned their girls into tomboys, Larry Belmont had turned his daughter into a certified crime addict.

She loved reading the crime stuff in the papers, and would always race to the newsstands to get the latest issues of Black Mask and Thrilling Detective. Those stories, both real and fictional, of brave detectives, slimy criminals, and deadly femme fatales could only satisfy her needs so much. It was why she was here tonight. She just had to see the bodies for herself.

Her father had been home for only about an hour, long enough to only enjoy dinner really, before being called back out into the streets. It seemed as if there was another victim of the poisoner. This marked the fourth person to die of very violent and mysterious circumstances. Like all the others he had dropped dead in the street. The only thing that let the police know it was connected to the other three was the burning. Each of the four victims seemed to melt from the inside out. The smell of burning hair and fat wafted through the area within a four block range.

Or at least… that’s what her father had told her. Or, more accurately, what she had heard her father being told as she eavesdropped on his phone conversation. That sort of gruesome death, she had to see for herself. Was it morbid curiosity? Yes, she fully admitted that. But perhaps, there was something else. Dian thought of herself as above average in intelligence. She had been described once as "pretty smart for a broad" and that just made her more determined than ever to prove herself. Maybe she could see something all the old flatfoots with their tired eyes couldn’t? She knew it was probably a lost cause, but she had to try. If she could stop the madness before a fifth victim then it would be worth it.

Dian slowly made her way down the tile floors of the city morgue. This time if night the place was nearly deserted. She knew a few older sergeants on the way to collecting pensions acted as security for the place, but their prowess had been found lacking when Dian quietly walked past the sleeping cop at the desk. There was really no need to walk that softly, though. He had been snoring loudly and in a very deep sleep. The only other soul in the building at night was the night attendant, but Dian’s father had often complained about the man spending most of his time stashed away in some supply closet with a bottle of whiskey. He seemed he was still celebrating the repeal of the 18th amendment four years on.

The storage area where the bodies were kept was cool and dark. Dian flicked on her flashlight. She could see her breath steam from her mouth. It seemed to be as cold in here as it was outside in the bitter January cold. Dian turned a corner and let out a scream at the sight before her.



On instinct, the masked man pulled some kind of weapon and shot her with a cloud of gas. She coughed and gasped for air as he ran past her. Dian leaned against one of the walls and began to slowly slide down. She suddenly felt tired, lethargic. Sleepy. Her head rested against the cold tile floor as sleep overtook her.




New York City
Now

Ramone Gutierrez limped down the hallway of his brownstone, one hand against the wall while the other hand gripped his gun. He was too afraid to put weight on his left leg. He knew it was broken in at least two places. Blood dripped down the open wound on his forehead and made it hard to see. And the wounds on his chest oozed blood onto the floor. It was slick and slow going as he tried to make his way downt he hall in barefeet.

He had been getting ready for bed when the bedroom door flew open and a man came in. The son of a bitch had a knife in one hand and used it like he knew what the fuck he was doing. Gutierrez managed to get to his gun, but not before taking at least a half dozen stab wounds to the torso, neck, and face. The sight of the gun made the fucker retreat. His retreating move had been delivering a crushing kick to Gutierrez's leg. He heard the bone snap, felt the pain so intense he almost vomited right then and there. He fell back on the bed screaming in pain while the attacker disappeared further into the house.

Gutierrez looked through his nightstand for his phone, but it was nowhere to be found. He still had a landline down the hall that he could use to call 911, and then Manny and the rest of the crew. If he could get to the phone then he would be safe. Gutierrez slipped against his own blood and managed to catch himself before he put any more weight on his broken leg. When he was sure he was steady, he looked up and saw the attacker in the hallway. It was dim but he could see the glint of a giant hunting knife in the man's hand. Gutierrez raised his gun at the same time the man flicked his wrist. Suddenly a great searing pain bloomed through Gutierrez's body. He looked down and saw the knife embedded in his chest all the way to the hilt. The shock of it made him put weight on his bad leg and slip on the blood.

“Thunk”

The pain sent Gutierrez down to the ground, flat on his back. The fall knocked his breath from him and he gasped before coughing, phlegm and blood spraying from his mouth. Gutierrez could feel the knife in his chest bob up and down with every rapid breath. The attacker stood over him and looked down. He couldn’t see anything with that… fucking mask of his. The man yanked the knife from Gutierrez's chest, causing pain to shoot through his body as blood poured from the wound.

“Sllllorp.. Drip. Drip. Drip."

The masked man threw the knife over his shoulder and reached for something on his hip. Gutierrez begged for his life as he saw the gun in the masked man’s hand.



“Bang.”


Olavris XI
53 Billion Lights Years from Earth


Jimmy Olsen looked around at the faces gathered before him here in the Imperial Palace. They were as diverse a group as anything this palace had ever seen walk through its marble floor. They each represented every one of the various races, social classes, and religious beliefs that Olvaris XI contained. And Jimmy had needed everyone of them and their support in the war against Parnivores. The hard fought and bloody revolution had been waged in every city, neighborhood, and home across the planet. And how here they were inside the palace. Parnivores had fled shortly before Jimmy and his generals took the capital city, but everyone knew it was a matter of time before the emperor was caught.

The gladiator turned revolutionary nodded slowly at his troops. He still only knew so little about this planet, but even he was aware of the incredible feat his coalition had been. Tribes and races had put aside centuries and millennia of bad blood to unite under his banner. It was truly inspirational to him. He just regretted that he couldn’t put it on his resume.

“The war is over, but now comes the hard part,” said Jimmy. “History on my planet has shown when the revolutionaries become the government, they eventually morph into something just as bad as the power they overthrew. It happened with the French, the Bolsheviks, Paul Atreides from Dune, and even the New England Patriots who were scrappy underdogs once upon a time…”

He paused and gave them a gentle smile.

“But I know, in my heart, that the bonds we forged in the heat of war are strong enough to last through the new peace and the new status quo. You all showed me that no matter your skin color, your genetic code, your social status, or what gods you keep, you care about the fate of Olvaris XI. And those differences can be put aside for the wellbeing of the planet. I believe in each and everyone of you, your ability to do the right thing. That's how we make sure what comes next will be far more better and representative than what came before. And it is with that mindset we need to go forward and make this planet a--”

A chiming noise coming from Jimmy’s wrist cut him short. He looked at the signal watch strapped to his wrist and cleared his throat.

“I… have to go. Sorry, guys. Best of luck!”

He fiddled with the watch for a moment before he disappeared in a flash of bright blue light. The generals looked around at each other in what was becoming an awkward moment of silence.

“Sssso…,” a green skinned snake man hissed. “Uniting for a better Olvarisssss…”

The snake man suddenly pulled his blaster, along with the other generals. The group opened fire on one another all at once.




Washington D.C.


Calvin and Lois sat in the backseat of the limo with Pete Ross as the motorcade pulled onto 17th Street. The drive from The White House to Capitol Hill was a short one, though the heavy security that flanked the presidential limo meant it would be twice as long before they reached their destination.

“Jimmy fielded questions from the press this morning about last night’s event in Montana,” said Pete.

“He is the world’s foremost expert on Superman,” said Lois. She paused and gave her husband a smile. “Well… second most?”

“Something like that,” Calvin said to Lois. He looked at Pete. “Were they trying to get Jimmy to give them some kind of angle?”

“Trying to get his opinion on Superman playing politics,” said Pete. “But he knocked it out of the park. I can’t remember his exact words, but it was like criminals with political agendas are still criminals. Blackwood and the 100 are no different than the Atomic Skull.”

“He also went on some weird tangent about the nature of change and how nobody or nothing really changes when a reporter asked about our renovations to the Roosevelt Room,” said Lois. “I don’t know what that was about.”

Calvin shrugged. Sounded like Jimmy being Jimmy. He’d seen the news about his actions in Montana. ARGUS and FBI agents rounded up Blackwood and the armed members of the 100 after Superman was done with them. Overall it seemed Pete’s concerns were unfounded. There were of course those in the fringe media who scrutinized the actions of Superman, but they would do that no matter what. Superman had attacked a well-regulated and lawful militia, one commentator said, and he argued with the slippery slope who might be next. But Calvin saw what Blackwood had been dispatched to Montana to do. There was no way in the world you could argue he and his cohorts were anything close to peaceful.

“Cal,” Lois said, her hand reaching out to take his. “You look nervous.”

“I am nervous. Eyes of the world are about to be on me.”

Calvin looked past Pete towards the driver partition. It was closed and locked. Utterly soundproof.

“Before it was different. As Superman I don’t have to worry about big speeches. I just show up, save the day, and fly off. Tonight I have to convince the world with my words, and knowing full well that for about half the people watching it won’t make a bit of difference what I say.”

Pete held his hand up and started to search through his suit coat with his other hand. He pulled a cellphone from his pocket and answered it. After a moment, he glanced towards Calvin and passed him the phone.

“It’s for you.”

“Mr. President,” the baritone voice of Senator Morgan Edge said through the phone. “Can’t wait to see the speech tonight. I wish you well. Any jitters?”

“The normal stuff,” Calvin replied coolly. “I know you’ve gotten out of the habit of making much in the way of speeches, senator. You just kind of keep getting reelected no matter what.”

“I have a very loyal and grateful constituency back in Metropolis,” replied Edge. “I mean, you remember that first senate race? What was that your paper called me? Metropolis’ crime boss?”

“‘Crime Boss Tries New Racket: Politics.’ That was the Daily Planet headline, I believe.”

“Yep. All that mudslinging from you, your wife, and the paper and yet I still won. And I kept winning.”

“Any reason for this… social call?” Calvin asked tightly.

“Yes, actually. I want to give you a peace offering, of sorts. I know tonight you’re naming your supreme court pick. And I also know you had three names on your shortlist. I’m fine with two of them. But If you pick Justice Glastonberry, Mr. President, I will make it my mission to see that nomination goes down in flames. I will grant you Justice Woods as a nice compromise. He’s just moderate enough for me to stomach, and Judge Harrison wouldn’t be on the court long enough to really do that much damage. Any one of those two, Mr. President.”

“Is this the advice and consent portion of the Constitution coming to life?”

Edge chuckled deeply.

“It’s just me trying to help you out, Mr. President. You get your SCOTUS pick through and we both look good as bi-partisan allies.”

“But only on your terms.”

“That’s how negotiations work,” replied Edge. “The more powerful party tends to set the terms.”

Calvin didn’t respond. He saw both Lois and Pete watching his conversation with rapt attention.

“Thank you for your kind words, Senator. I’ll see you tonight.”




“Madame Speaker… the President of the United States!”

The sergeant at arms stepped aside to let Calvin make his way down the aisle of the House of Representatives Chamber towards the triple dais. The crowd erupted in applause as Calvin started down the aisle. He stopped here and there to shake hands and say hello to those on the aisles. He gave half-hearted welcomes and greetings. His mind was on the speech ahead, as well as Edge’s words. Despite all his talks about sticking to his guns… a guaranteed political win would be just the thing his new administration needed. But was it worth sacrificing a bigger, yet far more risky, win?

“Mr. President,” Senator Joe Siegel said, his hand out. “Good luck tonight.”

They shook hands and Calvin saw something dancing behind the old senator’s eyes. A small smirk formed on Siegel’s face and Calvin had the strangest thought that he and Siegel were on the same wavelength.

“Big stakes tonight.” said Siegel. “Lots of people watching. Stir the pot, Calvin, cause a little bit of trouble.”

Siegel winked as Calvin started back down the aisle. He stepped up to the rostrum where Vice-President Troupe and Speaker of the House Paula Hershey were clapping. After handshakes for them, he turned to look out at the crowd below. Members of the House, Senate, Supreme Court, and presidential cabinet were all gathered in the benches below. The members of Congress sat according to party affiliation, the now eight Supreme Court justices sat in the first two rows away from Congress, and Calvin’s cabinet members sat left of Congress. Calvin’s eyes looked up to the balcony where Lois sat. He waved at her as the applause began to fade.

“Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice-President, members of Congress, thank you for inviting me here for my first address. I wish to speak to all the members of Congress, along with the American people… the people who sent us all here on their behalf.”

Calvin paused. There was something awesome and scary to him about his new role. Superman was the most physically powerful person on this planet, yes, but that was raw power. Moreover it was just seemingly dumb luck he had those powers at all. Calvin had been sent here from Krypton not knowing the effects the yellow sun would have on his body. This power here, this power to address the nation, to shape and dictate the course of his country, had been given to him. He had been entrusted with it with the promise to speak on behalf of those who could not speak for themselves, act for those who could not act for themselves, and defend those who could not defend themselves.

“Our country seems to sit at some crossroads," he said. "Some precipice where we have to make a decision on what kind of country we will be. There’s been a lot of talk in our discourse lately about what it means to be American, who America is for, and what exactly were the intentions of the people who founded this great country. I think to continually look back in the past is to bog ourselves down in rhetoric, to stall any chance of progress. We must instead look forward. Instead of thinking about what this country was or is, we must instead think about what this country can become.”




ARGUS BLACK SITE
CODENAME: “THE SLAB”


Amanda Waller looked through the plexiglass window at Arthur Blackwood with something close to contempt. She noticed that through all the bruises and swollen eyes, the look on his face seemed to be mutual. Blackwood sat on the other side of a small cell. He reached for the heavy metal collar around his neck and tried to adjust it.

“Uncomfortable, isn’t it,” said Waller. “But then again that’s the point. In addition to negating your metahuman abilities, there’s a little psychological torture there. It’s just tight enough to be uncomfortable without restricting airflow. A little permanent reminder that you are always under my thumb.”

Blackwood snorted and spat a wad of snot at Waller. The phlegm thumped against the plexiglass before it slid down in a long, slimy streak.

“Let me out of this goddamn cage, you black bitch, and I’ll rip you to fucking shreds.”

Waller crossed her arm and laughed.

“I bet you would, Blackwood. But then again it seems like your track record against people of color isn’t faring too well these days.”

Blackwood stared ahead without speaking. Waller could see the embarrassment on his face. How could you call yourself the master race… and then go out there and get your ass handed to you by a brother, a brother in a cape no less?

“Let’s get serious,” said Waller. “This facility you’re in? It’s not on any government log or ledger. If anyone bothers to go looking you are in FBI custody. But nobody is going to go look. Nobody cares about you, Blackwood. You’re lower than the dogshit I wipe off my shoes. I can easily throw you into some hole somewhere and throw away the key. Nobody cares about the civil rights of some white supremacist asshole.”

Blackwood shrugged.

“And? I’ve been in enough fucking interrogations to know how this works. You showed me the stick, now I'm waiting for the carrot. I ain’t saying shit about who I was working for or what I was doing. I don’t stitch and I always stand tall, so do your worst, bitch.”

“I don’t care about that,” said Waller. “I have an entire army of intelligence operatives to find that out, Blackwood. But what I care about is you. That master race bullshit is just that, but you are… gifted. Special. And I like to think I have an eye for talent. Talent I can use, and talent that you can use to get out of this situation.”

Waller raised an eyebrow.

“Tell me, Blackwood… ever been to Louisiana before?”




Calvin let the latest round of applause die down. His promise to pass legislation to repair and improve the nation’s infrastructure drew a standing ovation from only part of the crowd. Perhaps it was the cost of the proposed legislation that kept the other part of the crowd from rising and clapping? Maybe, thought Calvin, but for the most part the same senators and representatives sat still no matter what Calvin said.

“As I try to look forward to the future of this country, a very important question hangs in the air. After Justice Herbert Hartwell’s sudden death, there now is an opening on the Supreme Court. By constitutional law it is my duty to appoint the justice to fill that seat. And given the nature of the court and its lifetime appointments, I want a justice who is right for today and tomorrow.”

Calvin’s eyes glanced around the chamber. He saw Senator Morgan Edge sitting comfortably along with a handful of like minded senators. He could hear Edge’s heartbeat quicken. This was the moment he was waiting for. And, like the America in his speech, Calvin was at a crossroad. But then he thought about his talk with his parents the other night, his role as Superman, and Senator Seigel’s words. Stir the pot and cause some trouble.

“Which is why,” he finally said. “I will formally nominate Federal Justice Syliva Glastonberry to take the seat. She is a fantastic jurist with a track record of decisions that were well thought out, well-argued, and always favored progressive causes. She will be one of those forward-thinking people that this country needs to fulfill that long ago promise that we are a nation of the people, by the people, and truly for the people.”

Calvin paused as another standing ovation rippled through the chamber. This time he made sure to lock eyes with Edge, who sat stone still in his seat. Calvin could hear his pulse and heartbeat were steady. No fear or anxiety. A small smile formed on Edge’s face as he continued to stare at Calvin.




Senator Morgan Edge checked the time on his phone and sighed. It was nearly three AM and his contact was late. Edge was in some drafty ass Civil War era bunker not far from the Maryland line. His contact had insisted this is where they would meet and discuss what had happened earlier in the night. Edge was finishing up a cigar when he heard footsteps approaching on the concrete from outside.

“Sorry,” Senator Joe Siegel said. “I got away from my after party as soon as I could, but that new Senator from California will not shut up about Napa Valley wine.”

Edge scowled as he tossed the cigar butt on the ground and stomped on it.

“Do you remember what you told me, Joe, on inauguration day?”

“I say a lot of things to a lot of people,” said Siegel. “It’s my job.”

“You said that the incoming president held you in quite high regard, quite high. Such high regard, in fact, that he had reached out to you already to act as an unofficial advisor on policy. And you said that if we worked together, we could guide---”

“Manipulate,” said Siegel.

“Guide sounds so much better,” replied Edge. “Sounds cleaner. But if we worked together we could guide the president’s hand. So, tell me, the first time we try to guide his hand, Joe, he goes off and does whatever the fuck it is he wants to do?!”

Siegel held his hands out.

“I thought we had come to some kind of agreement in the meeting that he would pick anyone but Glastonberry.”

“Right,” said Edge. “And it was your idea that I call Ellis just before he took the stage and threat--”

“A friendly reminder,” said Siegel. “That sounds so much better. Sounds cleaner. A friendly reminder of what was at stake.”

“And you spoke to him on his way to the dais,” said Edge. “What exactly did you tell him?”

“I told him good luck and whatever choice he made, it would be the right one.”

Edge shook his head and turned away from Siegel. His eyes inspected the old bunker curiously.

“It doesn’t matter. I have to do what I have to do, Joe. I’ll crush the nomination and he’ll have to come up with another candidate with his tail between his legs. So be it. Many a president have had their hopes dashed upon the rocks of the Senate. Why shouldn’t Calvin Ellis be different? Why did you want to meet all the way out here to talk about this?”

“This old bunker?” asked Siegel. “It’s lead-lined. Old school. You’d be surprised what kind of surveillance simple lead can block out.”

Siegel saw Edge turn to make another point. But halfway through his motion the man froze in place. Siegel blinked before he turned his head slightly. He looked to his right and smiled. Right at you.

“I’m sure you probably saw this twist coming right? Old mentor figure turns out to be not quite what he seems? But it runs deeper than that, actually. I’m not really on Ellis’ side, and I’m not really on Edge’s side. I’m playing a different game. One you have to see at a different angle or some… higher plain. Just keep reading and you’ll see.”

“Get some sleep, Morgan,” said Siegel. “You look tired.”

“I’m fine,” Edge grunted as he moved again. “Your boy in the White House is going to need all his strength.”

“I’ll think you’ll find he’s much stronger than you realize,” Siegel said, turning to you with a wink.


&




New York City
January, 1942

“I’d rather die than talk.”

The German man stared at Wesley and Ted through swollen eyes. Heavy rope kept him tied down to the chair he sat in. A single naked lightbulb hung overhead and cast the room in harsh lighting. They were in the Queens industrial park. This seemingly empty warehouse was where they’d found the headquarters of the Fourth Reich. The man tied to the chair was SS Colonel Hans Mueller, the German war machine's foremost expert in covert operations. Wesley and Ted were dressed in full attire as The Sandman and Wildcat. Somewhere outside, there was a loud crash.

“Time’s running out, pal,” Ted said, hitting the guy with another one-two punch. The German howled as a tooth broke off in his mouth.
“Where’s the bomb?”

“Let me gas him,” said Wesley. “Just a little to get him to talk, not too much so he falls asleep.”

“We got orders from Green Lantern. He stays awake.”

Orders, thought Wesley. Like they were soldiers and Alan Scott was their general. Wesley didn’t recall signing up for that. Another thump from outside, this one closer. Wesley’s hand went to the gas gun on his hip.

“There’s not enough time. Whiz may have made light work of the Baroness, but I’m not sure Starman could handle--”

The thick metal door leading into the room groaned as it collapsed in on itself. The twisted metal door fell to the floor hard and a figure stepped over it into the room.



“Guten tag, my American friends,” Captain Nazi said in heavily accented English. “Or perhaps I should say ‘gute nacht’ to the Sandman?”

Ted entered a fighter’s stance while Wesley pulled his gas gun. He already knew the gas had little effect on the German, but it may be able to give him and Ted enough cover to fight. He was nowhere near as skilled as Wildcat, but years of study in the Far East gave him a proficiency in the martial arts. He’d try his best.

“Who shall I kill first?” Nazi asked with a raised eyebrow.

Ted answered for him as he charged with his fist held high. Nazi shook his head and prepared to hit the ex-heavyweight champ with a punch so powerful it would punch a hole through his chest. His first struck some invisible barrier and bounced the punch back. Nazi and Ted both looked around for what had caused the blow to stop.

Wesley could see what it was clearly: An ankh, large and rippling with energy, appeared between Nazi and Ted. In a blast of bright yellow light, Fate emerged.



𝕐𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝔽𝕒𝕥𝕖 𝕙𝕒𝕤 𝕒𝕣𝕣𝕚𝕧𝕖𝕕, 𝔸𝕝𝕓𝕣𝕖𝕔𝕙𝕥 𝕂𝕣𝕚𝕖𝕘𝕖𝕣.

Doctor Fate assaulted the genetically-enhanced Nazi with bolts of arcane power, as Wildcat danced around their enemy, sneaking in punches where he found openings in their enemy’s defenses.

“You’re late, Fate.” Wildcat grunted between blows.

A sorcerer is never late.” He said, throwing Captain Nazi against the warehouse’s steel structural beams with a telekinetic blast. “I was fighting Nazis in Scotland less than ten minutes ago, I would say that I made very good time getting here.

“What are Nazis doing in Scotland?” Ted asked, putting their Aryan adversary in a sleeper hold.

I think you’d sleep better at night if I didn’t tell you.

The Sandman could only laugh ruefully as Ted dropped Captain Nazi, and Wesley stepped in to gas him. Doctor Fate cast another spell, and four glowing ankhs manifested around their enemy’s wrists and ankles, holding him in place.

“Now let’s have a talk, Captain," said Wesley. "There’s a bomb somewhere in this city that will go off in an hour. Tell me where, exactly, it is and how we stop it. And speak quickly. The sands of time run swiftly.”




New York City
Now

Kent knocked loudly on the apartment door, waited five minutes for signs of life, checked his daily planner to make sure he had the correct address, and knocked loudly again.

Wesley? I know you’re alive in there. It’s only me.” He called into the door. Letting himself into the apartment would have been trivial for the most basic student of sorcery, but this was a friendly visit, which did not beget breaking into an old man’s home.

The door opened slightly after a few locks were undid. Wesley peered through the door, still with its chain lock in place, at Kent, who looked back at him expectantly. Wesley wasn’t sure when the two men had last seen each other. Their last attempt at a JSA reunion was around the 50th anniversary in 1990. He knew they’d seen each other there back then. Wesley had missed Alan Scott’s funeral, preferring to pay his respects without the attention of the press.

“Good morning… afternoon, actually,” Wesley said. “One second.”

He closed the door before unlocking the door chain and opening the door fully. He wore a Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap on his head and his reading glasses hung down the bridge of his nose. He beckoned him into the apartment and started back down the hallway.

“Long time no see, Kent. How in god’s name do you still look younger than me?”

Some of us haven’t had the luxury of retirement.” Kent called after his friend, laughing. He hung up his hat and coat, and followed after Wesley. “Evil sorcerers, dark gods, dimensional invaders… I swear it never ends. How have you been holding up?

“I wake up, do my crossword puzzle, go to a diner, maybe the park. That’s been my life for the past thirty years.”

Wesley searched through the kitchen cabinets for mugs. The last thing he wanted to do right now was explain his last few days in detail. But, word got around. There was no doubt the whole reason he was at his door to start with was because of what happened with Sandy.

“I have some tea here in the cabinet if you’d like a cup.”

Sounds blissful.” Kent sat down, bones creaking, and sighed heavily. “That would be lovely, thank you.” He watched Wesley for a while as he fixed them each a cup of tea. He looked strong, he stood straight, and he moved purposefully; all things that one should be immensely grateful for at their age, leaving aside the supernatural forces that sustained them both. There was no cure for ennui, and Kent was immensely relieved to see his friend in good spirits.

I assume you already know why I’m here.” Kent said as Wesley filled his kettle, deciding to get the difficult part of his visit out of the way. “I’m very sorry about Sandy, he was a good sidekick, a good hero, and a good friend. Carter and Hector both send their condolences as well. Do you know when the funeral will be?

“I imagine later this week.”

Wesley took a seat across the table from Kent and laced his fingers together.

“Courtney is taking care of the arrangements for me. With… umm… Frankie now in police custody, Courtney and I are Sandy’s next of kin. Not biological, either of us. But family nonetheless. Those of us still alive and able to attend will be there. It seems at this age, Kent, it’s only the funerals that bring us all together again.”

Kent nodded thoughtfully as Wesley spoke, before adding, “I’ll endeavor to be there, and I’ll let the Halls know as well. Hector and Sandy were partners when he took over as Sandman for you, I’m sure he won’t want to miss it.

He sighed again, looking at the kettle boiling on the stove. “You’re right. It’s the only thing that breaks through the haze of nostalgia that most of us- what’s left of us- have retreated to. We’d rather just sit around in our trophy rooms and play ‘remember when’ than see another old face that reminds us of our own.” He looked back at his friend. “You look good though, Wes. I mean that. You look like you still have something to fight for.

“I sometimes wonder if that’s the case,” Wesley said as he stood.

He shuffled to the stove and began to pour the boiling water into two mugs with teabags in them.

“Next year I’ll be 113. One hundred and thirteen. I was born in 1908. I know I’m preaching to the choir on this, as it were. But how have I lived this long?”

He walked back to the table and placed the tea on the table. But he stood where he was. A look of contemplation crossed Wesley’s face. He sighed and removed his Dodgers hat. Underneath the cap, where once a white head of hair stood, was now a head of hair that was white with several spots of brown in it.

“This just started happening. My hair seems to be getting its color back, Kent. I’m going the wrong way.”

Kent stared at his tea, fussing with the bag as Wesley spoke. He thought about his own age. Chronologically he was 122 years old, just edging out Wesley but still coming in under Carter’s 125. While Nabu had frozen his age at 61, on the day that he had been chosen to become his Champion of Order, his body at this point functioned more by magical means than biological. Wards, enchantments, and alchemies had enhanced all of his natural functions to levels that defied physics, all for the explicit purpose of ensuring that he would not instantly perish when battling alien mutants and other aberrations such as the “Super Man.” Temporally, his being was likely older than his chronological age by orders of magnitude, as he had spent significant time in such realms that moved at a different timescale than Earth. Despite all of that, he still could not get his knees to stop hurting, nor his upper back, nor his shoulders, nor hands.

He felt the strain in his knees as he rose at once, looking over Wesley. He wasn’t a medical doctor, but he knew much of eastern medicine and spiritual healing. Ever the pessimist, only Wesley could complain about actually getting younger. He felt the other man’s face, running his fingertips gently over his sunken cheek. There had always been a strangeness to Wesley, he had sensed it since they first met, but he knew no more of it, and that was all he could find here.

I can’t tell you much, Wesley. It’s just you in there. Have you changed anything recently? New diet? Medication?

“Yes… actually.”

Wesley stepped away from Kent and walked back into the kitchenette. He put his hands on the counter and looked at his old friend.

“I stopped taking the sleeping pills. For the first time in nearly fifty years… the dreams are back.”

Kent looked seriously at Wesley, and then sat down, crossing one leg over the other as he looked at his friend curiously. He picked up his tea and sipped it. The Dreams… That was the strangeness about Wesley. His dreams, which Kent had always harbored a pet curiosity about. His professional nature was too strict to be overcome, but he had always desired to sit in one of Wesley’s psychic dreams in séance. Well, “psychic” was the wrong word, because Wesley wasn’t psychic, that was the strange thing about it. This was something else and the lure of the unknown had always tugged at Fate.

Well, clearly your dreams carry a vital part of you. Or you’ve been rewarded by a higher power. Or the pills were making you sick. If I knew where your dreams came from, I could give you a better guess, but I don’t wish to disturb your privacy.

Wesley looked confused for a moment. He took off his reading glasses and let them hang by the chain around his neck.

“Kent, don’t you remember what happened back in ‘54? It was me, you, Dian, Sandy, and Alan. I slept while the four of you had some kind of séance. You looked into my dreams. Dian and the others said they saw a man, skin as pale as bone, with stars for eyes staring back at them. I have no idea what you saw, but I remember you being unconscious when I awoke. You had no memory of what you’d seen in my dream, and I guess you have no memory of that even happening now.”

A cold shock ran through Kent, he looked at Wesley very seriously. There was a small tremble under his eye as he said, “Wesley, who was with you in ‘54? It couldn’t have been me. I didn’t join the JSA until ‘62.” In the fifties, before Nabu, before he became Fate, he had been an archaeologist, studying ruins and artifacts from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

“No,” Wesley said softly. “That’s not right. By ‘62, I was retired as The Sandman. Sandy took my spot on the JSA. Alan would have still been leading the team back then, but a lot of the first generation was retiring. I think Jack had passed the mantle to Starman on to Courtney’s father, Ted. The team pretty much faded away by the early 70’s as even the second generation lost interest.”

Wesley frowned slightly at Kent’s memories.

“What’s going on, Kent? Don’t you remember the 40’s? Fighting the Fourth Reich? FDR himself gave us presidential medals of freedom for saving the city. We lost Whizzer to Psycho Pirate in ‘47. Hold on…”

Wesley shuffled into some backroom for several minutes. When he came out, he held a framed picture in his hand.

Kent called after him, “In the forties I was in Tunisia. Rommel, the Desert Fox. A worthy foe.

“I kept very little of my Sandman stuff after I retired. Sandy had it all, and I’ve been slowly moving stuff here to my apartment. But look…”

He passed Kent a photo of the Justice Society of America. It showed Alan Scott, the Green Lantern, in the middle of the group with his arm raised and his power ring on display. Wildcat and Starman flanked him on both sides. Black Canary, Whizzer, and Hourman were to the right. To the left of Wildcat were the Sandman and… Dr. Fate.

“We took this in early 1940. Not the inaugural meeting, but the first one we had a photographer at.”

Kent accepted the photo, hands trembling slightly. He stared at it for an uncomfortably long time, before closing his eyes to perform a psychometric reading. He could feel the presence of every person that had been in the room, including himself, as well as the photo’s age. It was genuine, a completely authentic article. And the more he thought about it… He could almost feel as though he remembered this

Kent took a firm breath, collecting himself. Normally something like this he would assume to be a trick, or some temporal hiccup, but given his most recent encounter with Destiny, he was particularly wary of any possible disturbances in the past or future. Pocketing the photo, he looked back at his friend, no longer with the genial regard of Kent Nelson, but the unflinching gaze of Doctor Fate.

Wesley, I hate to cut our social call short, but this requires my prompt attention. If… this,” He made a general motion at Wesley’s face and hair. “Progresses further, especially if it gets faster, call me.” With the practiced motion of a stage magician, he produced a card from inside his sleeve. It was a shiny piece of golden foil paper with the dimensions of a business card. There was nothing written on the side Fate offered to Wesley, nor was there anything on the other side when he accepted it and turned it over.

He was half a step out the door before he stopped himself and turned back to his friend again. Kent took Wesley’s hand and put another on his shoulder. “It was good to see you, Wes. I’m very sorry about Sandy. Be well.

With that he left. Wesley, peeking through the peephole after him, saw him take two steps away from his apartment door, and vanish in a glimmer of golden light. Wesley locked his door and leaned against it, trying to comprehend all that had just happened between him and Kent. He remembered a bit of poetry from his schoolboy days that seemed to apply to both men.

“‘That is no country for old men… an aged man is but a paltry thing.’”


Olavris XI
53 Billion Lights Years from Earth


“JIMMY! JIMMY! JIMMY! JIMMY!”

The alien crowd in the arena cheered as Jimmy Olsen stood in the middle of the colosseum, dressed in full battle armor. He held his sword high above his head and yelled in triumph. At his feet was the unconscious and broken body of Bolphunga the Unrelenting. Emperor Parnivores watched the audience’s unrelenting approval with seething rage. This puny earthman had been able to defeat all the empire’s best champions again and again. Today marked his twelfth successful battle since his arrival on Olarvis.

Parnivores stood from his throne and waddled to the edge of his luxury box. Inside the small room was more food than the average person on Olavrais XI consumed in a year. He looked out at the rabid mob and their defiant hero. The games were meant to distract the hoi polloi from their problems, but this little worm seemed to be reminding them just how tenuous the emperor's grip on power was. Jimmy Olsen looked up at Parnivores and pointed the edge of his blade towards him.

“Is this the best the mighty empire has to offer?”

Jimmy spat at the ground beside Bolphunga.

“Perhaps the emperor would like to come down here and face me?”

A roar went through the crowd. Parnivores heard whistles, applause, and even jeers directed towards him. He narrowed his eyes. He was rapidly losing control of things. The time for games had passed. He looked down at Jimmy and showed the human a cruel smile. He still had one more trick up his sleeve.

“If our champion wishes for a challenge, then he shall have one.”

The emperor flashed hand signals to the men working the arena controls. The entire floor of the colosseum began to shake. Jimmy looked around confused. Somewhere from down in the bowels of the arena, something roared. Those in the crowd that knew what was coming began to fear. As they should, thought Parnivores. Was it overkill? Maybe. But he had to remind the people of this planet who their emperor was.

“Allow me to introduce the empire’s greatest weapon. The scourge that destroyed the Omixplar Uprising, the executioner of the rebellion high command, the devourer of dissidents. The Monster of Badoon.”

The iron gates leading into the arena opened and out lumbered the massive creature.



It roared at Jimmy and began to charge. Jimmy adjusted the metal bowtie on his battle armor and readied his sword.

“'Stay alive. Maybe spit some blood at the camera. Just stay alive.'”




Helena, Montana


ARGUS analyst Jasper Sitwell watched drone footage of the fight between Superman and the metahuman facial scans identified as Arthur Blackwood, a very dangerous metahuman wanted for multiple federal crimes. It was hard at times for the drone to follow what was going on down below. Superman was faster of course, CENTURION rated as Alpha-One on the metahuman scale for a reason, but Blackwood was still fast enough to make it hard to track his movements. So far they'd torn through parts of downtown Helena. Destruction wasn't ideal, but so far no other people had been harmed.

Stillwell's eyes flicked towards the corner of his computer monitor as an alert popped up on the screen.

INCOMING COMMUNICATION: ARGUS HQ

“Sitwell,” a gruff voice said through the speakers. “This is Director Waller, patch us through to your feed.”

With a few clicks of the keys Waller had full access to what Sitwell could see.




Superman’s eyes glowed bright red as he bombarded Blackwood with his laser vision. The energy shieldsBlackwood projected managed to stand up to the intense heat and force of the blasts. The two men were on opposite sides of Helena’s main street. Superman had done his best to clear out the area as they fought, even driving Blackwood away from more populated areas of downtown so police and other emergency workers could clear the area.

While Blackwood continued to protect with the shield on his left arm, his right hand he thrust outwards towards Superman. Bright purple daggers of pure energy flew from his palms and right at the Man of Steel. He broke off his laser vision attack and leapt into the air to avoid the daggers. Blackwood saw him take the bait and leapt into the air to meet him there. At the apex of the jumps, both men met and swung at each other.

The force of Blackwood’s punch rattled Superman’s teeth. He could pack a punch, alright. But the force of Superman’s blow could level buildings. Blackwood shot off to the west of the city as Superman fell backwards east. He hit the pavement hard and shot right back up, flying west to find where Blackwood had landed.

Blackwood landed in a forest area about four miles west of Helena. Superman found a grouping of fallen trees where his body had crashed through the area. But there was no sign of Blackwood. Superman floated just below the tree tops and listened hard for any vital signs. He could hear Blackwood’s heartbeat fluttering as he ran west from where he’d landed. He took off after the fleeing Blackwood. The man was moving fast, at least three times as fast as a normal human could move.

Whatever Blackwood was running towards, Superman could tell there were more people there. He counted at least three dozen more heartbeats. Was it a camping sight? More civilians meant more chances for them to endanger someone, more chances Blackwood would do something dangerous and desperate.

Superman broke through a clearing and found Blackwood. Along with thirty men in body armor and rifles. Painted on their chests was the number 100. Blackwood flashed a bloody smile on his bruised face.

“I got backup, motherfucker.”

“Good,” said Superman. His eyes began to glow red. “You’ll need every bit of it.”

The members of the 100 opened fire as Superman charged.
<Snipped quote by TGM>

How can I help you my child?


Legally you're not allowed within 1,000 feet of a child.
Fuck yeah pizza




New York City
December, 1939

"Whaddya think?"

Sandy Hawkins showed off his yellow outfit complete with red gloves, boots, and a red domino mask. It was a stark contrast to Wesley Dodds' suit, fedora, and gasmask. Most masked men and their sidekicks had some sort of matching theme or motif. Hourboy, Bulletgirl, and STRIPE all mimicked the look of their mentors. Sandy, however, was going another way with it.

"You'll stand out," said Wesley. "That's for sure."

"That's the point," said Sandy. He had the cocksure certainty of any other teenaged kid. It made Wesley proud, and yet slightly fearful. There was a fine line between confidence and arrogance. And in their line of work, arrogance could get you killed. "The others want to follow in someone else's footsteps. Not me. I want to chart my own course."

"Plus, The Sandboy doesn't roll off the tongue," Wesley said with a smirk. "Does it?"

"No, but... Sandy The Golden Boy? Look out criminals of New York!"

Sandy shadowboxed with a barrage of quick punches. He was certainly physically capable. Ted Grant himself had said Sandy was a natural fighter. That was high praise from the champ. Wesley hoped their partnership would work as a perfect compliment. The Sandman's detective skills and planning alongside Sandy's swashbuckling physicality was a perfect match. He was a little unsure about bringing Dian's nephew into his crusade like this, but the boy had been so adamant after finding out Wesley's secret. It was either do it under Wesley's watch, or let the boy go maverick on his own and surely end up hurt or worse.

"Do me a favor, Sandy," said Wesley. "Don't... tell your aunt about this just yet. If Dian found about it, she'd go ballistic. Especially if something happens."

The kid winked at Wesley.

"Don't worry, Uncle Wes. With you watching my back I know I'll be safe."




New York City
Now


Wesley Dodds stared down at the medicine on his nightstand. The clock ticked beside the many pill bottles and told him it was just past three in the afternoon. He'd been up a day and a half now, over thirty-six hours since he'd been told about Sandy's murder. Almost twelve hours since he confronted Frankie with the truth of what she'd done. He was so tired now. Not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, spiritually. He was tired of this world and tired of living. He felt his age for the first time in a long time. Dian was long gone, and now Sandy was gone with her. What did that leave him left with? A few JSA friends floating in the flotsam and jetsam out there. Kent was somewhere lost in his magic realms, Carter was still alive but Wesley hadn't seen him in fifty years. Courtney and her kids were active but with their own lives that Wesley never really took part in. So... what was left for him in this world? What was so worth sticking around for?

He shook a handful of sleeping pills loose from the bottle and held them in his hand. Kind of poetic, actually. Take a bunch of these and fall asleep never to wake up again. And endless sleep. He walked to the kitchen to grab a glass of water. The sound of a soft knock on the door made him pause. He put the pills on the kitchen counter beside the sink and walked towards the door.

"Wesley Dodds?" Detective Paul Gold stood at his door, badge in hand.

"Yes, sir," he said, doing his best to pretend he had no idea who Gold was. "Can I help you?"

"We need to talk. It's about your nephew, Sanderson Hawkins. Mind if I come in?"

Wesley thought about the small pile of pills on the kitchen counter and shook his head.

"Umm, actually, there's a diner not far from here where we can talk. Besides, you look like you could use a cup of joe."





"Francesca -- Frankie -- confessed pretty quickly once we woke her up and got her into an interrogation room."

Wesley and Gold sat in a booth. It was two over from the booth Wesley and Sandy had sat in thirty years earlier in the lead-up to their falling out. Gold stirred sugar into a cup of coffee while Wesley listened to him talk. He kept a hand on his chin, his fingers hiding his mouth as Gold told the story that he already knew, the story he'd led Gold to discover with his breadcrumbs.

"It was greed, simple as that. I'm sorry but that's what got your nephew killed, Mr. Dodds."

"He wouldn't be the first victim of it. And he certainly won't be the last, detective..."

Sandy looked out the window of the diner, not daring to meet Gold's eyes.

"I just... I wish he'd come to me if he needed money. I feel like he would have if we'd been on good terms. We hadn't spoken in nearly thirty years because of me. I was angry at, well, a lot of things. I lashed out at Sandy because he was an easy target. All he ever wanted was to make me proud. I never got the chance to tell him that I was sorry. That I never got to tell him how much I loved him and how proud
I was of him."

"I don't believe in an afterlife," said Gold. "Not harps and angels and shit. But I think Sandy, or whatever is left of him in this life, is watching and knows that."

Wesley shrugged half-heartedly. He had seen so much death and violence over the years it was hard to believe in anything close to a heaven or a benevolent god. But there was the dreams, though. That dream that punched through Wesley's medicated veil to let him know Sandy's death had not been a suicide. Was it just coincidence... or maybe some sort of final message from Sandy?

"I do have two questions though," Gold asked, an eyebrow raised slightly. "Sandy's collection of Sandman memorabilia. It looks like some items were missing, and a costume was one of them. But nothing in his records indicated he sold off any suits or costumes to anyone."

"Interesting," said Wesley.

"Furthermore, I did some research. Your nephew operated as a masked hero known as The Sandman."

"That's right."

"But Sandy was the second Sandman. He went public with his identity in the 70's. But the first Sandman never came out, and nobody really knows who he was. I say 'was' instead of 'is' because as old as Sandy was, if the fist Sandman were still alive... he'd have to be old. Practically ancient."

Gold let the silence hang between them, his eyes fixated on Wesley and a ghost of a smile on his face. Wesley met his gaze without blinking. A knowing look passed between the two men. Gold slowly nodded his head, the closest to a thanks for the help he would ever muster.

"You look tired, Detective," Wesley finally said. "All this coffee isn't good for you. Might need to get some sleep."

"That's my next stop after here, Mr. Dodds. Home and my warm bed and cold wife." Gold stood and put some money on the table for his coffee. "You know I actually know of the original Sandman very well, probably better than most. My family has a lot to thank that man for, you see. My grandmother was a woman named Meg Turner. She had rough upbringing, Mr. Dodds. Used and abused by all kinds of men. She came to the city in the 30's and found herself turning tricks to survive. She almost was killed by some serial killer called The Tar-"

"Tarantula," Wesley said softly. He felt a lump forming in his throat. "Yes... Sandy always said that case was one of The Sandman's best."

"Yes, and my grandmother never got to thank the man who saved her life. After that night she was able to get off the streets and live a normal life. He changed her life. And plenty of others. I mean, I wouldn't be standing here right now if not that that man. Neither would two whole generations of children, three if you count mine and my sister's kids. All because one man did the right thing. Her one regret was she never got to shake his hand and give him her thanks."

Gold stuck his hand out. Wesley could feel the tears streaming down his face as he and Gold shook hands.

"Thank you, Mr. Dodds. And I am truly sorry for your loss."

"Thank you, Detective," Wesley said. "Get some rest... pleasant dreams."






A candy-colored clown they call the sandman
Tiptoes to my room every night
Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper
Go to sleep, everything is alright


Wesley watched the sleeping pills disappear down the flushing toilet. He'd dumped them all into the water and flushed. He'd thought about Gold's words on the way back home. He knew exactly what he was living for now. It wasn't for loved ones, or really for himself. It was for the dreams. Like it had been some ninety years ago when they first started. Dreams of human suffering, dreams of horrors that had happened and horrors yet to happen. It was the dreams that the Sandman had even existed in the first place. And it was the dreams that kept him alive for as long as it had. Of that he was convinced. It was his purpose, his destiny. He slipped under the covers and prepared for sleep to take him. His eyes felt heavy as he blinked once, twice, and finally a third time before his eyelids rested in place. Within thirty seconds he was asleep. And for the first time in decades, when he slept he dreamed.

I close my eyes then I drift away
Into the magic night, I softly say
A silent prayer like dreamers do
Then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you.


In Washington Heights, naked women moved to a hip-hop beat as they cut and packaged drugs into little baggies. They weren't completely naked. Topless and bottomless, yes, but they all wore rubber gloves and surgical masks. At one large table, six women packaged cocaine while six more packaged heroin at an adjacent table. They were naked to prevent any stealing. Though in truth each of them were illegal immigrants and had too much to lose by skimming any of the top. Raymond Jones still made them strip because... well, he got off on the power trip. Raymond watched the girls working from the catwalk landing above the floor.

In his dreams, Wesley watched Raymond smile. Two rows of razor-sharp metal teeth shinned in the trap house light.

In dreams I walk with you
In dreams I talk to you
In dreams you're mine all of the time
We're together in dreams, in dreams


Wesley watched the masked man slowly glided up the rickety stairs like a ghost. Muscle memory kicked in when he reached the landing where the crew was sleeping. Check the corners, clear the rooms, plan your escape, kill as soon as you have eyes on the target. Wesley saw flashbacks go through his mind, killing a Somali pirate with a sniper rifle, garroting an Al-Qaeda cutout in Iraq. The masked man didn’t believe in the stereotype of born killers, but he was a killer now thanks to Uncle Sam. Like a chunk of coal the government had applied pressure and polished him up to turn him into a sparkly diamond of murderous potential.

Three guys were passed out on piss-stained mattresses. He kept the flashlight beam low and was able to make out one figure in the dim light. His target acquired he aimed.

"Bang."

Recoil shot up his elbow as he fired off a suppressed shot.

"Bang. Bang. Bang."

Three rounds hissed through the room, three bullets exploding the three men's heads. He fired off three more to each man's heart to be sure they were dead before he started down the rickety stairs.

"Creak."

Without another look back the masked man disappeared into the night.

But just before the dawn
I awake and find you gone
I can't help it
I can't help it
If I cry
I remember that you said goodbye


The bald, malnourished old man stared out blankly from his cell inside Arkham. His straightjacket was wrapped snuggly around his waist, his arms secured. The name on his breast pocket read J. Dee #102589. His face held a healthy amount of gray stubble, his lips cracked and dried. His glazed over eyes slowly tracked around the room and looked at something that wasn't there.

"I can see you," he said in a raspy voice. "Yes, you. Wesley Dodds. Hello... I can't wait to meet you. 'Badubabua... Goodnight sweetheart, well, it's time to go... Goodnight sweetheart, well, it's time to go...I hate to leave you but I really must say... Goodnight sweetheart, goodnight."

It's too bad that all these things
Can only happen in my dreams
Only in dreams
In beautiful dreams


Detective Paul Gold looked over the strange crime scene. Two armed robbers were laying face down on the pavement, snoring their asses off while their guns lay beside them. The two men had tired to take off a night time armored car as it restocked ATM machines around the Upper East Side.

"It was the weirdest thing," the security guard said to the patrolman interviewing him. "These fuckers had barely started their spiel when they get smacked in the face by some gas. They started coughing and collapsed right away. Next thing I know they're sawing logs. I look over to my right and there's this guy standing there with a... goddamn gasmask on. He has on some kind of wide brimmed hat. He just tips it at me and turns around, says something about sleep well tonight or something, I dunno. Jesus Christ... I gotta stop working nights..."

"Gasmask, huh," Gold said. His eyes glanced up the side of the nearest building. He followed the path of a fire escape. For just a moment, he thought he saw a flicker of movement somewhere on the building's rooftop. A small smile formed on his face and he turned to look at the security guard.

"You might be right... we could all do with a little shut eye and a visit from the sandman."

END:
PART I
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