The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive

Living Dead Girl

by J. Darksong

* * *

Chapter 4)


I had to give the old fart credit. Vampires are pretty powerful. And we’re a pretty resilient lot. I mean, I’m no Omega Girl or anything. I can’t hold up a mountain with my bare hands, and immortal isn’t the same thing as invincible. But I am still pretty strong, and pretty tough. I’m no pushover. So when Professor Old McFarticus chuckled about having a way to get rid of me, just before bashing me over the head with a club, I was concerned. Not worried, just concerned. I was pretty sure he didn’t have the balls to stake me, decapitate me, stuff my body with garlic, and bury me in four separate spots, and anything less, while hurting a FUCKING lot, and being extremely inconvenient, I would have eventually been able to recover from. Probably. I haven’t had to test that theory, after all.

So yeah. Concerned. But not really worried.

But, waking up, and realizing the situation I found myself in, I had to admit, the old guy had done a pretty good job in containing me for the short term.

The Iron Maiden was never really used as a medieval torture device. All the leading authorities agree that the concept, while a novel idea, was never really put into practice, and believed that one of the earliest discovered maidens recovered in the 1800’s was merely a replica, a fake, based on descriptions from old 1400’s manuscripts. And I was relatively sure that the one I now found myself restrained in was a recreation, a replica of models from that time period. Nevertheless... I also couldn’t help but acknowledge the fact that being bound in a metal cocoon with a dozen or so metal spikes embedded deeply inside you was FUCKING EFFECTIVE as a torture device!

I had been penetrated... and not in a good way. And I was still weak and drained from all that herbal smoke I’d inhaled earlier. Worse, I could tell by the smell that the bastard had rubbed or sprayed said spikes liberally with garlic before tossing me in. In other words, I was fairly and thoroughly fucked. Again, not in a good way.

“Ugghhnnn... d-dammit...” I grunted, struggling the little bit that the damned cocoon allowed. I was held pretty tight, the shape of the maiden not giving me much leeway to move my body or arms around. I could feel what was apparently a large puddle of blood—my blood—pooled up around my feet. I had no idea how long I’d been out before regaining consciousness, so on top of everything else, I was definitely a few quarts low.

And that... was actually a good thing, I realized suddenly.

A vampire’s physiology is strange. Don’t even try to understand it. Hell, I am one, and even I don’t fully understand how it works. The point of this, however, was that despite being so dangerously low on blood being a BAD thing, it also meant that the dual poisons affecting me, the herbal smoke and the garlic, were both mostly out of my system by proxy, through blood loss. It both weakened me AND restored my strength. It was now just a question of which effect would win out, the weakening or strengthening. And, as I flexed my arms, pulling against the spikes shish-ka-bobbing me, I tried very hard not to focus on the fact that I was now starving, that the blood loss had now placed me dangerously close to the level of needing to feed soon or risk succumbing to blood fever.

Yeah, that would be just about perfect, I thought grimly, pushing with all my remaining strength, ignoring the pain as the metal spike tore and ripped through muscle and sinew as I pulled my arms free, moving into position. Breaking free to try and rescue my new friends, only to end up going berserk, and killing them and anyone else that crosses my path. And I’m SURE all the heroes in this city would be so understanding about it all when I explained aqfterwards that it was a ‘medical condition’ and that I couldn’t control myself. Yeah... that will go over well...

With a heave, I jerked down, letting out an agonized scream despite my success. I glanced down, then immediately looked away. Seeing one’s bones on an X-ray is pretty cool, but seeing them through the shredded remains of your skin, while still attached to your body is something else entirely. Note to self: When I catch up to Professor McBride, rip off HIS fucking arm, use it to beat him to within an inch of his life, then shove it straight up his arse! Bracing my hands against the edges of the iron maiden, I pushed, trying to open it from the inside, and release myself from this stupid spiked abomination—

Tried and failed. The telltale clinking of chains and a padlock told me why—the fucker had chained the damned thing closed!


So... I cried a little. And screamed. And cursed for several seconds. Then, after regrouping, I calmed down and focused and thought about the situation a bit. The problem was really the chain. It was keeping the heavy iron case from opening as it should. And while I was strong enough at my full strength to break through it like an eggshell, I was hardly at my full strength. But... I didn’t NEED to shatter the case. I just needed to break through a spot close enough to reach the chain and break or remove it somehow. Luckily, I had plenty of implements to aid me with that right here inside the cocoon with me. Grabbing one of the spikes that had skewered my arms, I snapped it off, reversed it, and used it to poke a sizable hole through the cocoon where I estimated the chain to be. And, after a bit of painful stretching and maneuvering—painful, as in driving the remaining spikes fucking DEEPER into me in order to move forward and reach it—I was able to grab the chain. Snap the chain. Throw away the chain. And finally... push over the bloody iron maiden encasing me...

* * *

“Jan? Jan? You awake?”

Janika groaned softly, head lolling to the side as consciousness returned. She opened her eyes, then sighed, immediately regretting it. “Y-yeah. I’m awake,” she answered her partner, who, like herself, was lying naked and chained on a large stone slab directly across from her. “But, well, all things considered, I kind of wish I’d stayed asleep.”

“You and me both, love,” Tina replied with a sigh. “And don’t even bother trying to cover up. Damned stasis field seems to have played havoc with our Neuroweave costumes. It’s going to take a while before they charge up again enough to reactivate.” She shook her head. “Captured and stripped... again. Honestly, how do we keep getting into these situations?”

“Your guess is as good as mine,” she answered, pulling idly at her restraints, testing their strength. “You know, I always thought, on average, River City had a lot fewer kidnappings and abductions of females than your hometown of Midas... but lately we seem to be making the national average just by ourselves, not counting all the others in this city. What’s up with that?”

Splash shrugged. “Just lucky, I guess... in the right places at the wrong times. Still, we usually end up getting out of these messes and taking down the bad guy anyway, so I can’t really complain TOO much...”

“True,” Sunbeam murmured, “but just once I’d like to take down the bad guys without ending up captured, tied up and stripped naked.”

“Awww... but I love seeing you in this position,” her lover teased, causing Janika to chuckle despite herself.

“Well, yeah, in the privacy of our bedroom, sure. But not out here in the open, where any Tom, Dick, and Harriet can see us!” She frowned, glancing around. “And why pray tell, ARE we strapped down like this, out here in the open anyway? Who does something like this up on the roof of a highrise building... especially in River City, when a good third of the Super population can fly?!?”

“It’s actually closer to one-fifth,” Professor Stephen McBride commented as he walked forward, having changed his clothing to resemble an Ancient Egyptian priest. “I know. I did my research. And as for why I brought you up here... it’s for multiple reasons. First, even with the chance of discovery, I think it much safer to attempt using the Death Stone in an open area rather than an enclosed space. Secondly, despite the Akert stone belonging to Anubis, I thought it would be good karma to get the blessings of Ra, the Sun God, while I was at it. And finally... if this works, I have hundreds of people on the streets down below to acknowledge and proclaim my greatness!”

“You mean to alert the authorities and call for help,” Splash shot back, struggling again. “The minute anyone notices you up here and realizes what you’re going, they’ll call the police, and other heroes will show up to stop you!”

Rather than be intimidated, the Professor merely chuckled. “That’s precisely what I want!” he announced. “If this stone works on Supers such as yourselves, it will work on anyone! And once I demonstrate my power and superiority to everyone, no one will DARE to oppose me!”

“But why?” Sunbeam asked, grabbing his attention. “Why do this... ANY of this? Why give up your life as a famous and successful Professor, a noted scientist, and head of your own museum, all to become a criminal? A murderer? You have to know how this is all going to end...”

The professor sighed softly, shaking his head. “So short-sighted. I should have brought your vampire friend along. She at least would have understood.” At Sunbeam’s glare, he chuckled. “Indeed, she would have understood. She is the very reason that I am doing this, after all. Well, technically, not HER, per se. But her immortality... her ability to transcend life and death—that is what I am after! When I succeed in unlocking the secrets of the stone, I will literally control the power of life and death itself!” He laughed. “And then no one will be able to order me around ever again!

Taking the metal case, he opened it, revealing the small black stone. “Behold, the Akert stone,” he said, holding it up for them to see. Both heroines shrank back visibly. “Don’t worry, girls,” he said calmly, walking over to the edge of the roof, retrieving a long black and gold staff. “The stone itself is harmless. In order to utilize its power, the stone must be activated, mounted and set in the proper way.” With a bit of effort, he placed the stone within the center of the wood and gold scepter.

“In the olden days, the staff was stored in a roll of sheepskin, bound in wool,” he added, as he placed what appeared to be a pair of D batteries into a hollow slot in the bottom of the staff. “To me, that bespoke of the ancients having at least a rudimentary knowledge of static electricity.” Holding out the staff, he pressed a small button on the side, causing the stone to glow with an eerie black light. Laughing, he held the staff high above his head in triumph. “Yes! YES! I’ve done it! The hour of my ascension is at hand! I shall become the new Anubis of this world!”

* * *

Okay. Take two.

I apparently passed out for a few minutes after breaking out of the iron maiden trap. No more than a few minutes. Still, it was a bit embarrassing. I really needed to stop and feed... and in a bad way. But time was kind of a factor here. I had no idea what McBride was up to, or where he’d taken Splash and Sunbeam. But I knew two things. One, that the Professor was batshit fucking crazy. And two, that he had a very deadly weapon on his hands. I needed to find them and fast. But... gggrrrrrrr... I was SOOOO hungry! It was becoming harder and harder to ignore. Add in the fact that my wounds still hurt like a muther fucker... and were only slowly, sluggishly healing, and I was not really in much shape to take anyone on.

Fine. First things first, then. I stumbled my way upstairs, hoping against hope that Jan and Tina were still there, that they’d somehow managed to turn the tables on the Prof and already had him thrashed, beaten and handcuffed, preparing to haul his sorry butt off to jail. Hmph. No such luck, though. The museum was empty and utterly deserted. Even the security guards were gone... either as part of the heroines’ plan, or called away by McBride. Whatever the reason, I was all alone.

“MCBRIDE!” a female voice called out, surprising me. “Where the HELL are you? How DARE you stop payment on that money transfer! Did you think I wouldn’t notice, that I wouldn’t check my goddamn account?!?” A young rather hot looking Latina woman stormed her way into the main floor. “Get out here, old man! I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing at, and I don’t care... but I delivered those two hero girls to you, and I expect to be fuckin’ paid for it!”

Two hero girls?!? Tina and Janika... my vision went momentarily red. This costume wearing BITCH was the one that beat Splash and Sunbeam and delivered them to McBride. That meant that she knew where they were. It also meant she likely had an idea what the Professor was up to, whether she realized the significance of it or not. I needed to question her, put the fear of God into her, and garner the information I needed to save my friends.

Yeah. That was the general idea.

Unfortunately... I also really needed to feed. And the stupid annoying bitch that had crossed my path just happened to be full of that tasty nourishing blood that I was craving. Before I even realized that I’d moved, I’d zipped across the room and grabbed her by the throat, slamming her hard into a wall. Her cry of startlement and terror was cut off by the lack of air going into her lungs, but I’m pretty sure that if she HAD been allowed to breathe, she would have been screaming like crazy. Again, before I’d even realized what I was doing, my fangs were in her throat, and her blood was dripping, pouring into my open mouth...

Ohhhhhh my fucking goddess... the taste!

Okay, a normal human can’t properly appreciate what it is like to drink blood. You don’t feed on it, or require a steady diet of it to exist. You eat normal food, and every human has their favorite, some food or dessert that just the merest taste causes a flood of endorphins to be released in the brain. You’ve heard the expression, ‘it’s even better than sex’, usually said about some dreamy all chocolate drenched confection of some kind. Well, that’s not even a close approximation of what its like for a vampire drinking blood, especially when they are starving for it! The closest I could get to an avid description would be that feeling for a crack addict getting a fix after weeks or months of denial.

So. On the good side, I hadn’t quite gone into a blood frenzy or anything. I still had my rational mind intact. On the bad side... I was fucking HUNGRY... and the comparison to a crack addict getting a fix? It was taking every scrap of my willpower not to simply rip this bitch’s head off, flip her upside down and use her neck like a silly straw. And really, only the knowledge that I needed to save my two friends allowed me to pull back. Gasping, shuddering from the effort, I released the blood drained girl, allowing her to slump to the ground.

A quick check revealed the obvious—that she was still alive. Which was good. I wasn’t in the habit of killing people, even if they pissed me off. Better yet, she was still conscious, if only just barely, and that I could work with. Lifting her chin, I stared directly into her eyes and focused my powers upon her mind. “Listen to me, my little blood thrall,” I intoned. “You are going to tell me everything I want to know. Do you understand?”

“Yes... yes, my Mistress,” Empathy replied in a soft listless voice. “I will obey...”

“Good,” I said, licking the drops of blood from my lips and cheek. “Now then... tell me where I can find my two friends...”

* * *

Professor McBride continued to chant, speaking the words he’d memorized from the ancient Egyptian burial rites he’d researched. All the while, the stone wedged tightly within the staff he held continued to glow, radiating a strange eerie dim light. Janika and Tina struggled with their bindings, knowing that their time was short and that once the old man was finished, their lives would likely be forfeit.

“Sunbeam... any chance you can use your powers to blast this guy?” her partner asked.

“Sorry, Splash,” the young heroine replied. “I’ve been trying... but I need my hands to aim my blasts. I don’t have a shot. What about you? Can you blast him with your water?”

The dark-skinned girl shook her head. “I’ve been trying, but I need my hands to aim as well. And we’re too high and isolated to use any nearby water sources.”

“Oh, man... looks like we’re totally fucked...” Sunbeam murmured.

“Maybe not. There’s still a chance another Super will see us and swoop in for a last minute save,” Splash reminded her. “We can’t give up yet. We have to have faith...”

“Faith?” the Professor replied with a laugh as he turned to face them. “Belief in a higher power? Hah!” He held up his staff. “I have become the god of this world! If you have prayers, best to send them to me!”

He extended his staff, sending out a beam of shadowy light, enveloping both heroines. A wave of weakness swept through them both, and they groaned, feeling dizzy and nauseous. At the same time, Professor McBride’s face and body began to change slightly, his wrinkles slowly fading, his steel grey hair darkening, his frail thin body becoming stronger. “Yes! YES! It’s working!” he announced gleefully, the stone stealing the girls’ life essence, transferring it to him. His smile turned to an evil grin. “With this stone’s power, I will become a god and live forever! Now... it is time for you two to die, and for me to ascend to my destiny—”


“Aaaarrrrggghhhhh!” the Professor cried out as he skidded across the roof, landing against the edge. Where I’d just knocked him. Panting softly, I made my way over to my two friends. They looked dazed, and weak, but thankfully, still alive. They were chained up to what appeared to be a round stone altar, so I knelt down and snapped the chains.

“There. You guys okay?” I asked as they rose unsteadily back to their feet.

“Y-yeah, I think I’m okay,” Sunbeam replied, shaking her head. “That was... uggh... felt like he was... sucking the very life out of me...”

“That’s pretty much what he was doing,” I replied grimly. “I got a good look at his face, and he’s younger than he was before. I stopped him before he got too much, so hopefully you should both recover and be okay.”

“Um... speaking of which... are YOU okay, Gwen?” Splash asked me, gaping wide-eyed at me. “Pardon me for saying so... but you look like death warmed over!”

I chuckled softly at that, considering the situation. She wasn’t wrong. Even having recently fed, I was still in pretty bad shape. I was still a few pints low. Ideally, I would have fed enough to fully replenish what I’d lost as well as some extra to hasten my regeneration. Which was still badly needed. But yeah, draining every last drop from Empathy would have killed her. Hell, I’d pretty damn well brought her dangerously close to shock when I’d stopped as it was. Add in the fact that all of my open wounds from the garlic-coated spike trap were healing very slowly, and yeah, I’d seen better days. Still, I’d recovered enough to make it here in time to help them both.

“I’m gonna need to seriously get my eat on once we get out of here,” I noted, grabbing their arms, “but for now, let’s just worry about getting the hell out of here.” To my surprise, both girls pulled out of my grasp, causing me to whirl back around to face them.

“We can’t leave yet, Gwen,” Splash stated grimly.

“Not like this,” Sunbeam added. “Especially not as long as the Professor still has the stone.”

“Um, no, that’s EXACTLY the reason we need to get out of here,” I countered. “You two were only exposed to it for a few seconds, but trust me. The Akert stone WILL kill you if he uses its full effect on you long enough—”

“You are quite right!” McBride growled, having regained his feet. “And while I’m not sure exactly what effect a life-stealing stone will have on an undead vampire such as yourself,” he said, pointing the staff at us, “I am more than willing to take a chance and find out!”

“GET DOWN!” I yelled, grabbing them both and diving for cover just as a beam of jet black energy flashed where we’d been standing seconds before. Scrambling, dodging like crazy, we managed to duck down behind the doorway leading back downstairs, providing a bit of cover, Not that it helped matters much since the doorway itself was on the side facing the Professor. Normally, I would have simply dove over the side of the building and glided down to land safely on my feet. But this wasn’t normal conditions by any stretch of the imagination. I was weakened, and even if I could manage myself, I couldn’t do so with my two gal pals and get us down safely.

I glared at both of them, expressing my anger and exasperation. “Well? I wanted to run while we still had a chance... but now we’re cornered. So, heroes... do you have a plan on getting us out of this is one piece?”

“Well, its not really much of a plan... but I do have an idea,” Sunbeam stated ruefully, glancing carefully around the corner, only to duck down again as a beam struck over her head. “Give me ten seconds to charge up a blast, then you two run left and draw his attention, and I blast him once he’s distracted. Gwen, you’re fast enough to keep you two from getting hit, right?”

I grimaced. “Kinda running on fumes here guys. I think... I probably have enough in me for two, maybe three high-speed sprints. But after that, I’ll be too weak to do much of anything else.”

Janika nodded. “That should be enough. I just need three seconds to line up the shot and nail him. If I can’t take him down with that, then we’re all pretty much fucked anyway.”

“Yeah, well, nothing like a little pressure to sharpen your skills,” Tina replied with a grim expression. Sighing deeply, drawing in a mass of water from the air, she nodded. “Okay, I’m ready to draw his fire. Count us down, ’Beam...”

As the sexy nude heroine started the countdown, I couldn’t help but take a moment to ponder the situation. I’d asked them before why they did this kind of thing, risking their life this way. And make no mistake, they WERE risking their lives. And mine, to boot. I honestly had no idea what the stone would do to someone like me... but it would sure as hell kill both of them. Yet they weren’t running from the danger like any normal sensible person would... they were facing it head-on. Worse... I wasn’t even sure why I was still here myself! I had nothing to do with this! Yeah, I still wanted to beat the shit out of McBride and shove a boot us his ass so far that I kicked his brain, but honestly, what I REALLY wanted most was to go back home, lock the door, drain three or four bags of O- and veg out in front of the computer watching Markiplier and Jacksepticeye until I felt a bit more like my old self.

So... what the FUCK was I doing? And WHY was I doing this?

“ go! Go now!” Sunbeam hissed, recapturing my attention as Splash left cover, running to the far left, sending out a torrent of water at the surprised museum curator. Unfazed by the low-pressure assault, he turned and raised the staff, intending to slay her. Which meant it was my turn. Tapping into my powers, my speed, I zipped across the roof, grabbing Splash by the shoulders, and zipping us both sharply to the right, just as the ebony colored beam struck.

Instinct. It was all instinct. Shadow beam, dark energy, death ray—whatever you want to call it, it was energy, moving the same speed as every other part of the electromagnetic spectrum. So, no, vampire or not, I wasn’t moving the speed of light. Basically, I was managing to quickly move us somewhere other than the beam’s targeted direction an instant before McBride fired the beam. Which meant that if McBride managed to tire me enough to actually get a lock on us, it was game over. Barely catching my breath, I saw the muscles in his hand twitch, signaling his thumb about to press the trigger again, and again I zipped, moving us again, back to the left, again narrowly missing inky black death. My eyes flashed, and a wave of weakness swept through me—I’d reached my limit. When the Professor pointed that cursed staff towards us one final time, I knew this was it.

“Perish and die!” he yelled in triumph, raising the staff once again.



At the very last instant, Splash’s partner struck, sending a blast of light energy at the startled madman in a loud clap of thunder. As planned, the blast struck the scepter, knocking it out of McBride’s hands, and sending the old man sprawling to the ground from the impact. “No! NO! You... you fools!” the man professor shrieked, staring at the staff careened over the edge of the roof, falling down below. “What have you done!?!”

I was, of course, all set to gloat, to taunt the old man on how we’d taken him down with teamwork and intelligence, two things the old fart obviously had in short supply... when a loud crackling sound clued me in to the fact that the old man wasn’t shouting in anger or outrage... but in fear. Moving to the edge of the roof, a quick glanced over revealed what had happened. The scepter, already damaged by Sunbeam’s blast, had fallen down onto some power lines and landed atop a transformer.... directly between the heavy ceramic resistors posted to help contain the voltage and prevent arcing. Except, the heavy staff had basically damaged the resistors and shorted the circuit, and was pulsing wildly as gigavolts of electrical energy were fed into the Akert Stone.

Again, it was entirely instinct, some animalistic fear that prompted my action, forcing my limbs to react even before I fully recognized the danger. And despite being drained to the dregs earlier, I managed one last super speedy burst, pulling myself, Sunbeam, and Splash back from the edge of the roof an instant before the stone sent out a flash of black energy up at the building. Right where the fourth person on the roof had remained standing.

Do you remember that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy and Marion are tied up and Nazis open the Ark of the Covenant and start messing around inside it? And Indy and Marion shut their eyes, but the others all get disintegrated? Well, the head guy in the priest robes, staring inside... his face basically melts, his skin, then blood, then insides, pouring off him like water.

Well, picture that, only sped up a hundred times faster, and that’s basically what happened to the Professor. I have a pretty strong constitution, and it nearly made me vomit. It also freaked me the hell out. “Come on, we’re getting the fuck outta here!” I yelled, grabbing the girls by the arms. Only to skid to a stop as they AGAIN pulled away, staring back towards the evil stone of death. “No. No! NONONONONONO!” I growled. “We are NOT going after the fucking death stick! You saw what it did to Old Man Assface! It took less than a second! No way we are going anywhere near that thing! Let someone else handle it!”

But the two heroines merely shook their heads. “We don’t have time. That thing is blasting out beams randomly. There’s no telling how many people it will kill before someone else capable of stopping it comes along. There’s no telling how many people its already killed. We have to do something.” Sunbeam sighed. “Maybe if I move up close enough for a quick shot—”

“You’ll be dead before you even get it off,” I countered, angrily. “Unless you suddenly gained the ability to move faster than the speed of light, there’s no way you can do this. No way EITHER of you can do this!”

“Maybe not, but we have to try, dammit!” Splash yelled, causing me to blink. “Look... Gwen... I’m sorry you got dragged along into this. I’m sorry about everything that’s happened to you. But this is something we have to do. Janika and I... neither of us wants to die. We’re not crazy or suicidal. But we both feel that we have a responsibility to use our powers to help people... to do the very best we can to save lives. And if that means giving up our own lives in the process,” she said, glancing at the random barrage of beams firing on the other side of the wall, “if its the only way, then, that’s what we’ll do.” She swallowed painfully.

She was scared. They both were. I could feel the fear, smell it rolling off of them in waves. But they were steadfast in their determination. A car crashed down below in the ground level, its drive no doubt disintegrated by a stray flash from the stone. A few people screamed suddenly... then went silent. This was real. It was happening. And the girls were right—the longer this went on, the more people were going to suffer. The more innocents would perish.



“FUUUUUCCCCCKKKK!” I yelled loudly, insanely, as I leaped over the edge of the roof. Yes, I’d taken total leave of my senses, doing the unthinkable, risking my own life... death... unlife... WHATEVER this was... basically tossing away my existence on the very unlikely chance that I could stop this mayhem from continuing. I heard Tina and Jan yelling my name, calling after me, and I smiled softly at that. Asking me to volunteer to do this was the obvious choice, someone who was technically already dead. Yet neither one had even broached the subject. Just one of the many things I’d grown to love about those two...

They say in the last seconds of life, time slows to a crawl. As I fell down towards the evil death stick, I felt the same thing happening to me. I could see everything down below me perfectly: the powerlines, and the scepter; the asphalt road, and the crashed car, having swerved into the side of a building, its driver vanished; several people huddled in corners, other running away in a panic, even a mother and a young child in an alleyway, with the mom clutching her child protectively, trying to shield him from what was coming. Exactly what I’d expected to see. I’d moved without thinking, my body reacting to what I’d heard, and sensed, what I’d known was happening below, even before my conscious mind had fully processed it. And, perhaps that was why I’d jumped, why I’d done such a crazy reckless thing in the first place.

I’d said it multiple times. I’m NOT a hero. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Sunbeam and Splash? Yeah, definitely. Me... not so much. I’m selfish. I care about my own existence and well being. And I’m not sociable. The past two days is the most I’ve interacted with other people in half a century. So, you may ask, why the hell had I jumped?

Because, hero or not, I wasn’t about to let my two new friends risk THEIR lives in a fool’s errand. I jumped because, if I hadn’t, one of them, or maybe both of them, would have. And died in the process. And I liked them, Maybe even more-than-liked them. And I wasn’t going to let them throw their lives away. In retrospect, I probably could have hypnotized them and made them leave, convinced them to call someone else, like Omega Girl, to save the day. But... going that route felt... wrong. Not to mention that they’d resent it, and resent me, even if it was for their own good.

All of that went through my mind as I fell, as the damned staff reacted again, lighting me up with a blast of inky black death.

It was... a strange feeling. Like feeling one’s self begin to unravel. I don’t know what it was inside me, a spark of life, my spirit, my soul... whatever it was, it felt as if it were being sucked away, like a smoldering fire being snuffed out. I felt weak... drained. And I’d felt weak and drain before leaping over the edge—this new feeling was a thousand... no, a MILLION times stronger. I was... I was dying.

The staff... the scepter. It was directly below me. I extended my hand towards it as I continued to fall. I was fading... fading fast. I wasn’t sure if I was dissolving away like Professor McBride, but I was still together enough to do what I’d set out to do. I hoped. My hand was still there... though I could now see through the skin straight to my bones. I didn’t have the strength left to destroy the scepter myself... but considering my trajectory, it wasn’t really a problem. I just needed to reach the damned thing and let gravity and momentum do the rest.

Giddily, I laughed aloud as I fell. I was bloody Wreck-It Ralph, at the end of his first movie, plummeting down to pump the big stack of Mentos and save the world.

So close. So very close... there!

My hand touched the smooth wood and metal finish. I’d done what I’d set out to do, so I let my eyes close, let the pain and weariness I’d been fighting finally wash over me. It... wasn’t so bad. Kind of like carrying a heavy weight for a long long time, and finally being allowed to put it down and just rest. Which... I suppose was just what this was. I felt a momentary pressure and pain, my weight snapping the staff, and tearing through the powerlines as I continued to fall. I felt the wind whipping my hair, flowing over me. I heard the cries and gasps of shock, of those people on the street, no doubt surprised by my strange and sudden appearance.

And then... impact. A moment of pain. And then nothing. Nothing at all.