2010-02-04: Inevitability (Phantasm)



Posting Date: February 4, 2010


It had to happen at some point.


Times Square

The rain comes down in heavy drops, soaking anyone out in it to the bone in moments. In such torrents, it fills the streets, puddles up, and overflows storm drains. The sky and glass of skyscrapers are illuminated by vibrant and devilishly forked bolts of lightning, illuminating the city to daytime brightness for fractions of seconds at a time. Aside from the rain, and the parked cars, the city is…strangely empty. There doesn't seem to be a soul out and about tonight. The helicopters and spotlights have ceased, the bombings and destruction of the buildings has ended. Of some buildings, only the bombed out husks remain, while some still stand pristine and proud. Lonely, foreboding…it's very much a scene right out of a movie, the sterotyped lost and alone in the whole city, stuck outside in the pouring rain with nowhere to go. Creeeeepy.

Another flash of lightning, improbably bright: then a lone figure appears, walking down the middle of an empty street. Deliberately. Purposefully. Matt's eyes are narrowed to little black specks, heedless of the downpour as it flattens his already-short hair and weighs down his suit jacket. His fists are balled up in anticipation; behind him, his service revolver lays discarded on the ground, rusted and useless.

The lone figure isn't alone for too long. Where he came from and where he's going isn't exactly clear. He's just here, for some purpose, to face some enemy. But who? Where did the people go? Or maybe, better, yet, where did they come from? With each step he takes down the street, people begin to appear along the sides of the road, on the sidewalk, in the windows of buildings, on top of parked cars. They're all different in the way the look and dress, men, women, children. Suits, casual clothes, homeless. It's like a perfect distribution of the city's population, more and more appearing with each step. Their heads and faces are highlighted by the flashes of lightning, and their expression is the one thing tying them all together: it's a grim, determined look, their eyes smoldering with what might be hate.

Of course, a million people is a statistic, here as anywhere… and then the familiar faces begin to emerge, and make it so much worse. There's half a dozen of his fellow officers, led by his supervisor in a twisted parody of a Right Stuff power walk. Over there is a Company agent with curly hair, standing side by side with Ted Sprague of all people. And just behind them, barely visible… is that Molly? It's enough to make him flinch, shaking the wet out of his eyes before he can continue. But none of these, still, are the one he's looking for. They're just incidental damage.

As they all appear, the mass of people closes up the road behind Parkman. He's allowed to pass, but about 100 feet behind him, the road is closed down, walled off by a mass of bodies. They move in odd synchronization, moving in step, turning the same precise way, stopping together. Not a soul moves, either. They just stare, herding him forward. Before long, the street gives way to the openness of Times Square. The signs, ads, and video screens have long since gone dark, but they're still there, most of them still suspended on the sides of buildings. A lone figure waits for him there, right in the middle of the square. She's tall, with rain-soaked blonde hair, and dressed in a catsuit. It's black and shiny, and the rain runs off of it, reflecting the lightning strikes.

There have been some good memories here. And some uglier ones, running the gamut from rowdy drunks at New Year's to strung-out streetwalkers. What he wouldn't give to have any of those things to deal with, rather than this. This is impossibly much…

"This is your fault!" he yells, eyes narrowing still further as he comes face to face with Emily at last. "When they declared war, when they said we were too dangerous to live— who do you think they meant?"

"I'm quite certain then meant dangerous specials like me," Emily replies to Matt, loud enough to be heard over the pouring rain, but not at all excited or emotional about it. The crowd presses in on all sides a little, and finally they speak up, in unison. "Dangerous like me," a million voices repeats, in exactly the same tone, with exactly the same inflection that the woman in the middle of Times Square used.

To his credit, Matt doesn't flinch this time, doesn't even back up. He knows what he has to do… there'll be time later to worry about how to live with himself. Or whether he can.

"You're not the only one," he replies— and promptly grabs the face of the person closest to him, projecting a simple thought into their mind. Into, with any luck, all their minds. Just two words.

« Kill yourself. »

The person gasps in shock at the move. When the thought is forced into their mind, the body goes rigid for a moment, the eyes roll back and the lids flutter. Then, they have to do what they're told. From a boot sheath, this particular person pulls a small knife, and without hesitation, draws it right across their neck. Easy, right? The body falls to the wet pavement, limp and quite dead. But then, something strange happens. The body reveals itself for what it truly is, as it inexplicably changes shape…into a tall blonde woman. What sort of place is this?!

Well. One down, nine hundred thousand and change to go. He'll rid the world of this infection yet. Now shutting his eyes completely - only to open them again, revealing the milky white of the blind - he continues to push the command further and further outward, one person after another forced to obey. Some have knives as well, a few have guns - one petite brunette takes out a bag of white powder and snorts it, convulsing and nosebleeding before she collapses in a heap - while others make do with what they have, jabbing themselves with their car keys until they strike an artery.

Even now, there's something of a method to his madness; while the wave of suicides ripples out in all directions, it moves faster in the direction of the prime, forming more of a teardrop than a circle. If he can reach her, then maybe he can let the others go. Maybe he'll only end up outdoing Sylar's track record by two orders of magnitude instead of five.

The thing about being blind, about losing yourself to your thoughts, is that you can't quite keep track of your surroundings. And while his gambit is effective, while person after person falls after being convinced to commit suicide, Emily herself seems to be quite immune to the psychological persuasion. She merely compacts her thoughts, as she likes to think. She retreats deep into her mind, and hides there, stretching out just enough to stay standing…while he wears himself out with the strain of convincing this huge mass of people to kill themselves. "You can't win…you can't kill me…" she taunts, voices calling from all around.

Abruptly, the wave of death stops. She's right… but at the same time, she may have just given Matt the key. He can't kill her… He's been going about this all wrong.

Eyes still glassy, Matt points toward where he last saw her, where the voices sound the loudest. And sends a different impulse into the crowd. « Kill her. »

"We can't do that, Parkman…" the crowd says. Now, they start revealing themselves for what's inside their minds. Some kind of illusion or something, but the ripple in the crowd turns from death, to a ripple of bodies changing their looks, until they're all tall and blonde, wearing ill-fitting clothes, but definitely all copies of Emily. Seems she's been spending her time constructively, ensuring that her legacy will live on…through every person in the city. "You're the only one left. Special…normal…it makes no difference. Where there was chaos, I brought order. Ended the war, gave everyone a perfect life…"

At that, Matt stares blankly out into the crowd, turning around and around. Does it matter any more which way he faces? "Not everyone," he replies to all of them at once. "See, I figured out why you left me out… because you can't be happy, none of you can, without someone else to hurt. Well, maybe I can't stop you… but I can sure as hell ruin it for you."

One last gambit. His hands scrabble along the ground until they come across something suitable - a broken bottle, as it happens - and draws it across his own throat, slumping forward in a spreading pool of his own blood.

Maybe he struck a chord with that one, as she surges forward from her position. "Noooo!" she howls out, part in pain, part in frustration. "It was inevitability! I saved you for last, since you know what it's like!" Blood pours out and is washed away by the heavy rain, poured down the drains, as she kneels down in the red wetness. As he dies though, she pays fingers on his neck, and…maybe it's mercy. She uses her ability to possess him, as he dies, rambling on about inevitability, how the fate for everyone is the same, how nobody can escape.

Of course he fights it! With what little mental focus he has left, and with his hands as well, reaching out to strangle her. Five seconds later, he's a motionless lump of flesh anyway, but whether he was himself or just another copy at the end… who knows.

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