LinkExchange FORWARD

The Last Good-Bye

By Alan Kistler a.k.a. Continuity Cop

It was seven days. Seven days after a crisis that had robbed entire universes of their very existence. Seven days after an event that had caused shockwaves throughout the multiverse. Seven days after a catastrophe of such enormity that it had needed the involvement of legions of heroes across a universe, uniting together to preserve the ultimate treasure: life.

Seven days, after a brave and noble man had been forced to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to ensure that others would continue to enjoy the ultimate gift: life.

The air in the Justice League cemetery was dry and cool. A summer breeze picked up several leaves and carried them off the ground. The leaves danced over the fields of grass until finally, they rested before the feet of a man with a black armband. On the armband was the seal of a stylized lightning bolt. The man stood at the entrance of the cemetery for a few moments, taking a moment to breathe and to absorb the scene. He sighed and then began to walk through the field.

After several steps, he reached a statue. It showed a man who was known to the world as The Flash and who was known to this man as Barry Allen. The statue showed him racing towards the museum, a look of happiness expressed on his face. And yet it also gave off a sense of nobility and grandeur that truly did justice to the fallen hero. At the foot of the statue, a marker stood with an inscription carved on it.

"The Flash. The Fastest Man Alive…He died so that billions could live."

"Hello, Barry," the man said quietly. "It's me again. Hal. I just came to talk." Hal looked over the statue again and smiled. "Amazing. I don't know how Batman did it, got that Wayne guy to buy this plot of land for the League, and then had your statue done so quickly. But you deserve it, buddy. And I think it's kind of fitting that we have a cemetery for people like you… men gifted with strange powers who died in battle. It's kind of like the Vietnam Memorial, huh?" He paused for a moment and grimaced. "God, I sound like I'm giving a sermon or something. Strange… I'd never thought I'd see Batman so… sad. Of course, everyone at the funeral was sad, but it just never occurred to me before how much he cared for any of us. He even asked me to write the inscription, you know that? So I did, in front of everyone. Hope you like it."

Hal sat down in front of the statue and looked up to the sky. The sun was setting and the stars were quickly becoming apparent. He smiled slightly. "So, what do you know? A few humans with weird costumes and odd powers.. and we did it. We saved the universe. Those stars are there because of us… Because of you." His face grew a sad frown as he looked downward to the ground. "You knew what would happen. You knew that the only way to destroy the anti-matter gun was to get into that sucker, run alongside the tachyons at faster-than-light speed and cause a power surge. You knew it would kill you in the process… and you didn't hesitate. That was the kind of man you were. And I admire that. See, I know I'm supposed to be 'honest and fearless' and all but.. I've never really been tested to the point where I was absolutely certain that there was no chance of my survival.

"I've been thinking about the past a lot since the Crisis ended. You remember when we first formed the League? God, those were brighter days. You, me, Dinah, Arthur and J'onn. We were five people who were going to save the world. And, y'know what? Even though we always seemed to be fighting some kind of world conqueror or cosmic menace, it never really worried me all that much. It seemed like we were immortal in a way. I remember, one day, you were wondering whether or not we would last as long as the JSA had. And I told you not to worry. I was convinced you and I were going to live to 'a ripe old age.' So how come you're gone?"

Hal paused for a moment and then stood, facing the statue. Somehow, doing so felt like he was truly talking to his friend, as if Barry were actually standing there before him.

"I'm worried about Wally. He's not taking your death very well. I'm afraid he's going to do something rash, something he'll regret after he's had time to cool down. I'll watch over him for a while… I just wish you were here to do the same."

Hal sighed and gritted his teeth.

"You know, it still gets to me! Not just YOUR death, as if that wasn't enough, but the whole thing. I mean, I try to look back on it and say 'Yeah, we did it, we won!' But I can't. I just can't! Look at how much was lost. We have no idea how many other universes were wiped out before any of us even knew about the Wall. All those lives lost. And you… dead. It seems so wrong. The whole thing makes me wish I could turn back the clock. Stop the Wall before it ever occurred, stop everyone from dying. Just… go back and make it like the whole thing never happened and none of us suffered. Of course, I know what you'd say. 'Relax Hal, you can't save everyone.' And you'd be right, of course. I don't have that kind of power. And in some ways, I'm not sure I have the right."

He turned then, slowly making his way to the gates of the cemetery. The night breeze brushed over him.

"Thanks for listening, Barry. You always were a good friend. And you were a true hero. You proved that with your death. I hope that someday… someday I can honestly say that I'm willing to do the same… willing to die so that billions may live."

Hal reached out to open the gate. As he raised his hand, it felt as if a huge weight was adorned on his wrist. He finally forced himself to open the latch and a second later he let the gate shut behind him. For one last, brief moment, he looked back through the rods of the gate, looked back at the final resting place of a friend whom he had loved as a brother. They had fought together for so long, each knowing that, whether in the brightest of times or the blackest of dangers, they could always depend on each other. And now he was gone. As Hal turned to leave, one last whispered word escaped from his lips.



All characters are ™ DC Comics
This story is © 1999 by Alan Kistler.