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Death is Only the Beginning

by on October 26, 2014

“When a superhero dies, whether in combat or rescue, the authorities are presented with a dilemma. Traditionally, the next of kin would be notified as soon as possible. This would seem all the more important in the social media age, when video of the death event could flash across Twitter or rack up YouTube views almost before the body grows cold. However, a specific and irreversible death event for superheroes is no longer assured. Extremely slow heartbeats, healing trances, mind-to-clone transfers, time reversals: all of these mean that a person could die one day and be perfectly healthy the next. Due to the potentially traumatic complications that could arise, it is recommended that a uniform death-notification policy be established to account for potential resurrection variables. Such a policy could include delayed notifications until it appears certain that no resurrection is imminent or possible.” –Excerpt from proposed amendment to Manual of Superhero Policy, Government Publication 947-A5.

Maria Smith didn’t see the notification people coming. She had just died herself. Bullet in the head, quick, relatively painless. Resurrection in seventeen seconds. She didn’t get much press, not being one of the big-leaguers, so the burglar who had shot her on the way out of the jewelry store was terrified out of his mind when he glanced back and saw his victim getting calmly to her feet. Frantically, he shot her again. Maria grabbed hold of a glass table to stop herself from hitting the floor this time. She blinked, died, and then seventeen seconds after, breathed again. “You wanna keep doing this?” she asked. “I’ve got all day.”

“You…” gasped the burglar. “You can’t…”Β  He shot her for a third time, practically point-blank.

“Okay, now that is pushing it,” Maria said, seventeen seconds later, as the hole between her eyes stitched together. “When I said I’ve got all day, I really don’t. Drop the gun. Now.”

He dropped it, shaking in terror. Maria relieved him of the loot and smoothly cuffed him to a nearby lamp-post. “You just sit there and think on your sins, okay?” she lectured him. She turned, intending to return the stolen goods to the shop owner. Then she saw the grave faces of a military officer and a chaplain approaching her. “Look,” Maria said, “I appreciate the thought, but I’m not still dead. I’m sure someone probably saw me get shot and reported in, but honestly, it only lasts seventeen seconds. I am fine, really.”

“Ma’am,” said the officer quietly, “This is about your daughter, Madeleine.”

Maria went cold. “What about my daughter Madeleine?”

“I’m so sorry. She was killed two days ago.”

The words seemed void to Maria, so many meaningless syllables. She couldn’t comprehend them. She died twenty times a day. She had almost forgotten what death meant. Riley was so durable he was practically immortal anyway. They had gotten into the way of thinking their daughter would be immortal too. She was a flying brick, but now… it seemed that wasn’t quite enough.

“How?” Maria forced out.

“She went in against the Shrieking Tree Demon. Natalie James was on the way as backup, but your daughter attacked before Natalie arrived. The monster was too strong for her.”

“I see,” Maria said. “And… where is my daughter now?”

This was the hard part for the officer. “Ma’am, I….I’m afraid we couldn’t recover her. She was blasted right out into space. We tried to track her by satellite but… we lost her. She never came back to Earth.”

Maria looked at the sky. Her daughter was out there, floating in the stars. It wasn’t the comforting thought she hoped it might be.

Her phone chirped. She fumbled for it, her eyes suddenly burning with tears. “Riley?”

“Maria. You know?”

“I know.”

That was all they said for a long time. Their daughter wasn’t a telepath, or a regenerator. She wasn’t coming back. Ever.

***

Somewhere in the dark, Madeleine blinked.Β  “Hm. I’m still alive. I wonder how-”

The sun blazed at her eyes. She raised her hand to block the light. Her hand was transparent. “Oh…crap,” said Madeleine. “I’m a ghost. I’m a stupid ghost.

 

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11 Comments
  1. I’m guessing that Madeleine is going to figure out a way to turn this to her advantage, much like another superpower!

  2. Well, I did not see that coming! But if you think about it – this could be a good thing! A ghost with Gaseous Girl’s powers – wow! As always, a great read.

    • As Suzanne pointed out below, I’ll have to work out whether being a ghost means you keep your earthly powers. If she does, you’re right, it could lead to a lot of upsides for her. Other than being dead, of course.

  3. Love that you gave us a bit more info about Madeleine’s family before the great reveal. So does this make her Gaseous Ghost, then? Can super powers persist through death? You’ve got some important philosophical questions to answer, my friend. πŸ˜‰

    • Indeed. I will have to ponder those questions before the next entry in the saga of Gaseous Ghost.

  4. “To account for potential resurrection variables” is very important indeed! Brilliant and, as usual, you made me laugh πŸ™‚

    • I’ve seen enough superhero stories to know you ALWAYS have to account for resurrection variables. πŸ˜€

  5. Yay! Another in a line of superhero stories. I’m liking these. I loved the quote from the government document. That’s a great touch. And what a superpower Maria has. That’s mighty handy! I liked the finish. Who knows where that could go? It leaves me thinking, and I think that’s fun. Great one!

    • Thanks! I’m not sure where it will go myself, but I’m glad it left you thinking. I will have to be thinking about it myself soon…

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