Nemeses

Content warning: Hospitals, blood, cancer, and death.

 

Cosmus reclined in a sterile white bed, swaddled in sterile sheets. Tubes and wires ran from around his body into various beeping instruments. Everything in here was cold and unfeeling, it all felt like death. If he got a chance, he would certainly take some notes from these designers on how to make a sinister room. He laughed at the thought, but a stabbing pain throughout his chest put an abrupt stop to that.

The clocks ticking ran in stark contrast to the beeping metronome that had been driving his lifelong performance. The clock ran steadily, unaffected by the comings and goings of mortals. More importantly, the clock read 12:58.

He turned his attention to the television. Two reporters were interviewing a rookie super, about the potential whereabouts of the cities most infamous villain. They speculated all sorts of wild things. Perhaps he was making his most elaborate scheme yet, or wreaking havoc unbeknownst to the public. Perhaps he had simply given up evil, one of the reporters posited. The rookie laughed, some people are just rotten to the core, he said. He’s more right than he knows.

There was a faint knock at the door. Cosmus looked up to the clock, 1:01. A tall man walked into the room.

“So you came.” Cosmus grinned.

“Cosmus?” The man stepped back, and deployed a shield. “What’s your play here?” He glanced around the room rapidly.

“My whole life, I’ve had a plan, something up my sleeve. Today? No. No plan, no scheme.” Cosmus let out a wheezing laugh, but was once again interrupted by the pain.

The man lowered his guard a little. “Then why am I here? Why are you here for that matter?”

Cosmus looked downwards, and his grin faded. “Micah… I’m dying.”

Micah stepped forwards a little bit, and began to look Cosmus over. “You’re… What?”

“Its cancer.” Cosmus shook his head. “Stage four.”

Micah dropped his guard completely. He had likely taken in the full sight of the frail man in front of him. “How long?”

“How long have I got? The doctor said a few days at most.”

Micah was silent for a moment. “How long have you been in here?”

“I blacked out and woke up in a pool of blood a couple of weeks ago. I called an ambulance, and woke up again in this bed.” Cosmus sighed. “The doctor said this has been brewing for at least a year. I knew something was up, I just thought it wasn’t anything this major. Evil never rests, ya know?” He started to laugh again, but broke into a coughing fit. Blood spatters flew onto the sheets.

Micah paced around the bed, and the pair was silent for a moment. The competing metronomes filled the room once more, until Micah spoke. “Why did you call me here?”

Cosmus looked down again. A solitary tear rolled down his cheek. “Micah, I’ve never been much of a family man. I prioritized my studies and my career over that kind of thing. Any family I did have, I used and manipulated, until they couldn’t stand me anymore. I haven’t seen any of them in decades. I don’t have a lot of friends, since I can’t exactly get out much, being the face of evil in this city. Just to get a hospital room I had to call in several favors and bribe several people.” He went quiet again, another tear rolled down his face, merging with the last. “Micah, you’re the closest thing I’ve had to a friend in decades. You’ve always been there with me. Sure on opposing sides, but there was a kind of pageantry and sportsmanship to it.”

Micah sat down on the edge of the bed and rubbed Cosmus’s shoulder wordlessly.

“I’ve sat in this bed alone for two weeks, and I’m dying.” Two new tears came streaming down. He weakly gripped Micah’s hand with his less intubated arm. “I’m scared of dying, Micah… I’ve been a bad guy. I’m not sure about any kind of afterlife, but if there is one, I’m pretty sure I’m going to hell.”

Micah was silent for a moment, some tears of his own ran down his cheeks. “I’m so sorry…”

The heart rate monitor started beeping more rapidly. The sound began to drown out that of time’s metronome, and all others.

“Micah, I’ve got a will.” Cosmus was speaking faster now, and panic was rising in his voice. Tears now readily fell down his face. “I want you to use all of my things for good, to help atone for some of my misdeeds. I have a base out in the plains. A message telling you how to access it will follow after my death.”

Micah bowed his head, tears streamed across his scarred cheeks in cascading rivers. “I will…”

The beeping grew even louder and more rapid. Cosmus was now sobbing speaking only between heaves. “I don’t want to die… God I’m so sorry!” His wailing grew louder, but garnered no attention from hospital staff. Suddenly his wailing stopped. His eyes bulged, and he moved his hands around his neck.

“Nurse!” Micah bellowed, but to no avail. The beeping accelerated and crescendoed for a moment, but then suddenly stopped, replaced by a steady tone. Time’s metronome ticked onwards in a terrible duet. A man poked his head into the room, and upon seeing the monitor, shouted out of the room for help, before charging in.

Though the man fought on, he could not help. Cosmus and time played their duet, until the monitor was unplugged.

 


 

(Art credit: WordPress Free Photo Library)

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