The Flash: Back to Speed, Chapter 3: Alive

by Hitman 44077

Return to chapter list

Arriving back at the home of the Russells in the thirtieth century, the Flash entered the residence and made his way toward the laboratory where he’d spoken to the family only a short time before. He stopped a few feet from the entrance to the lab, unsure of how to handle what was to come next. I don’t know why, but even though my life was saved for a purpose, it seems there’s more to it than just that, the Flash thought, glancing at the glass cylinder in his arms that contained what remained of Manfred Mota. And there is. Now’s the time to find out the answers.

The Flash then slowly walked toward the laboratory door, which opened in its familiar mercury-like form, and entered the lab himself. Inside were Eric and Fran Russell, who hadn’t noticed the speedster enter.

“What will happen to our world if he fails?” Fran asked her husband aloud.

Eric closed his eyed and slowly shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t want to know.”

“I don’t think either of you have anything to worry about,” Flash said aloud. Eric and Fran turned toward the laboratory entrance and saw the Flash starting to approach them. “Mota’s been stopped, but at the cost of his own life.” Flash placed what remained of Manfred Mota onto a nearby table and continued to approach the Russells.

“How did you–?” Eric started to say.

“I managed to trap him, and I took him on a trip into the time stream. It was my intention to use time to reverse the changes in his body, but because we were still tied to this era through the Cosmic Treadmill, his body aged appropriately,” Flash said somberly.

“So the creature actually was Mota?” Fran asked.

“Yeah, it was him,” Flash said quietly. “He spoke to me, recognized me, and seemed to genuinely repent his actions. Whatever intuition your daughter had regarding the creature’s identity allowed us to defeat him… and maybe save his soul, too.”

“We can’t thank you enough, Flash,” Eric said graciously. “You prevented something today which most likely would have spelled the end of our city, and possibly more.”

“I would have done this before, regardless of the events, Eric,” Flash responded as he finally found his inner strength. “I realize I need to return to my proper time, but I’d like to speak to your daughter. She seems to be a… fan.”

“Um, well, I… uh… I don’t know,” Fran blustered, growing nervous.

“Our daughter is busy, Flash. You’re always welcome to visit our era, but–” Eric started to say.

“I know I’d like to speak to him,” a young woman’s voice called nearby, even as she stepped from the shadows and approached the Flash.

“I owe you and your parents my life, and this new costume,” Flash said calmly. “Why exactly was it so important to save my life?”

“Let’s just say that the twentieth century has always held a place in my heart,” the young woman with long brown hair said. “The era’s champions were among the finest in history. As for the costume, it’s something that’s best suited to someone in your department.”

“That’s nice to know, but I think it was a little more than just that,” Flash said. “From the moment I saw you, there was something so familiar about you. Now I know I’ve never seen you before, but still… I’m crazy to even think this.”

“What do you mean?” the young woman said, as if she sensed that the truth was about to come forth.

“It was in your eyes the entire time. Your parents didn’t need to tell me your name… or the name of your deceased husband. Your actions already confirmed my suspicions, even though it still seems impossible,” Flash said, keeping strong.

“I… I don’t know what–” the young woman protested, though her voice shook, unsure whether to speak further.

“I know who you are,” Flash said, doing what he could to keep his voice from shaking. “Aunt Iris.”

The young woman’s face expressed surprise, even as tears began to well. “I — I,” she stammered, placing her hand slightly over her mouth.

“Please. If I’m right… please tell me,” Flash said as he removed his mask and looked the young woman in the eyes.

The young woman managed to smile through the tears, and she responded. “Yes… it’s me, Wally,” she said in a whisper. With those words, the two embraced, holding each other as if afraid to let go. Wally’s memories flooded back to his childhood and the good times he’d experienced with his aunt, all the way up to the unexpected end when Iris had been murdered by the Reverse-Flash. He had never had a chance to say goodbye to the aunt he loved so dearly. But yet here she was — alive!

Wally released Iris from the hug, though she seemed to want to keep holding the boy who’d been, at times, more than just a nephew. “Aunt Iris! How…?” Wally asked, wiping away a tear from his left eye.

“Wally,” Iris said, her voice still trembling. “It’s a long story. But we have enough time to spare.”

Fran and Eric Russell had watched the tearful reunion between aunt and nephew and finally understood the bonds that their daughter had forged a millennium before. In that moment, they knew that the Wests were more than just Iris’ caretakers — the Wests were as much family as they were to Iris. “Let’s go, Eric. They deserve some time to themselves,” Fran said with understanding.

“I was just about to suggest the same thing, dear,” Eric responded. The Russells exited the laboratory, and Iris began to explain just what transpired in the meantime.

“I have to start from the beginning, Wally, and this is probably something I should have told you years ago,” Iris warned, wiping the tears from her eyes.

“What do you mean?” Wally asked.

“Several years ago, Barry and I learned that I wasn’t the biological daughter of Ira and Nadine West,” Iris confessed sadly. “This era, the thirtieth century, this was where I was born, and the Russells are my biological parents.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: This was originally explained in “The Flash’s Wife is a Two-Timer,” The Flash #203 (February, 1971).]

Wally remained silent as Iris continued. “Shortly after I was born, our world was coming ever closer to a nuclear holocaust. My parents sent me to the middle half of the twentieth century, hoping to spare me of the fate they were sure was approaching them and their world. I was entrusted to the Wests, who raised me as their own. They always provided for me, and they loved me as much as they did Robert and Charlotte.”

“Dad never learned the truth?” Wally asked.

“No. He and Charlotte were young children when I came into the picture. I was the baby sister,” Iris said with a small smile.

“I want you to know, Aunt Iris, that it doesn’t matter to me. You are my aunt, blood or otherwise,” Wally confided, placing his hand on Iris’ shoulder. “I’ve missed you so much… I can’t tell you how much losing you hurt me, and how deeply it hurt Barry, Dad, and Grampa.”

“I know,” Iris said quietly, as she faintly remembered the moments before she’d died. (*) “It’s something I’ll never forget.”

[(*) Editor’s note: Iris West Allen’s death occurred in “The Last Dance,” The Flash #275 (July, 1979).]

“Who saved your life? Was it the Russells?” Wally asked.

“They did something which should have been nearly impossible, but it worked,” Iris said. “From what you’ve seen firsthand, the science of the thirtieth century is immense, but they took extra precautions with me. They knew history could not be changed. I — Iris West Allen — had to die on my appointed death date in the twentieth century. That didn’t stop my parents from using their equipment to extract my psychic essence — or, rather, my soul — from my dying body. From there, my parents managed to perform a psychic transplant, placing my essence within the dormant body of a young thirtieth century woman who’d recently died of natural causes.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: As explained in “Flash Flees,” The Flash #350 (October, 1985).]

“Incredible…” was all Wally could say.

“I suppose I would have stayed in this era within my new body, but my concerns were still for Barry, my one true love. From historic archives, I learned that there seemed to be a time anomaly caused by the death of the Reverse-Flash. Indeed, Barry was put on trial for killing that monster, but all knew that he was supposed to be acquitted. For his sake, I had to ensure that history would play out the way it was intended to.”

“He was found guilty briefly, but a jury foreman named Nathan Newbury claimed to have been inhabited by — no way!” Wally said, realizing a fact.

“That’s right, kiddo,” Iris smiled. “For the entire time of the trial, I inhabited Nathan’s body, doing what I could to prove that Flash was innocent of the charges brought against him. Once the facts were brought to light, I returned to my new body in the thirtieth century, with Barry at my side once more.”

“So that was why he vanished. He made his way to the thirtieth century. My God, he… he left me a note. He gave it to Henry and Nora Allen before he left, telling me he hadn’t forgotten about my problem. He also alluded to a surprise. He was referring to you. You were the surprise!” Wally exclaimed.

“You’re right,” Iris admitted. “And he was right about another thing. He never forgot about the disease which was killing you.”

“Huh?” Wally said, astonished.

“Barry lived here in the thirtieth century with me for one month,” Iris said. “In that time, he worked tirelessly, searching for a cure to the disease which was ravaging your body. He even brought the blood work he’d taken from you during his trial to this era. One of his first attempts involved him comparing his experience with a disease which had been killing him briefly, and the method by which he was cured.”

“What?! Barry had a disease similar to mine once? When?!” Wally said in shock.

“It was shortly before we married,” Iris explained. “I guess he’d teamed with the Batman and fought some criminals who were using a bizarre type of radiation to commit their crimes. (*) It was their radiation which cured Barry. He tested that type of radiation on samples of your blood work, but to no avail.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Death of the Flash,” The Brave and the Bold #67 (August-September, 1966).]

“He was running out of options when he decided to take a sample of his blood and compare it with yours. Dabbing just a drop of his blood onto a slide containing a sample of your blood, Barry examined the slide… and was instantly surprised! It seemed that his body possessed stronger antibodies due to the fact he’d gained his powers as an adult, while you gained yours shortly before puberty. He double- and triple-checked the results, and each time, the results remained the same!

“He decided to remove a pint of his blood, and he also managed to isolate the antibodies which killed the disease upon impact. He managed to create enough of those antibodies to go along with the blood so that it would be possible to cure your body. He also built the suit you’re wearing now. Made of the usual Flash costume material, it incorporates thirtieth century technology, including a small amount of microcircuitry, all the while keeping in form with its twentieth century counterpart. Ironically, Barry built this suit for you.”

“What?” Wally asked, stunned.

“Barry wasn’t sure how long he wanted to stay in this era, but he knew he wanted to cure you. He also wanted someone to continue his fight until he at least made a decision one way or the other. Unfortunately, before he could bring you here to this era for either reason, fate intervened,” Iris said softly.

“Oh, no. The Crisis,” Wally said as it dawned on him just how history had panned out.

Iris continued. “My parents knew of this Crisis on Infinite Earths through historical documents, but were unsure of its connections to our time period… until the terrible day two months ago. Weather spun out of control, and it seemed that time was fracturing. In the aftermath, there was no sign of Barry. I never bothered to check to see if he’d returned to 1985, but as I began to check the archives…”

At that moment, Iris began to quietly sob as her memories reminded her of the pain all over again. She placed her hands over her eyes, trying to wipe the pain from her face, but to no avail. Wally felt compassion as he himself remembered the pain when he saw the empty Flash costume trapped under the rocks on Qward. He hugged Iris and spoke softly. “I am so sorry, Aunt Iris.”

“It was so unfair, Wally,” Iris said between sobs. “I was taken from him for so long, and we had such a short time together… and I’ll never be able to see him again. I’ll never be able to tell him how much I loved him… how much he meant to me. He was my world, Wally, and I am so empty without him.”

“He’ll always be with us, Aunt Iris. That was why I adopted the identity of the Flash. To keep what he represented alive,” Wally said, trying to reassure his aunt.

“That was one of the main reasons I sought to save your life, Wally, besides the most obvious reason being love,” Iris admitted, wiping some of the tears away. “We had the means to cure you, and though it seemed that your disease had been placed in remission, I refused to throw away the cure Barry had worked so hard on. And when I learned that you were either destined to vanish or die that fateful day of June 1st, 1987, I knew I had to act. The hardest part was convincing the Russells. But I did, thanks to Mota. Eric, or Dad, made the journey to the past, and brought you back to our era. Once you were placed in the tank, we managed to heal your body. But the disease was another matter. I brought Barry’s pint of blood and the antibodies he’d isolated, and we managed to inject them within your body. From there, you began to recover, leading up to the here and now.”

“It’s almost as if a part of Barry is within me now, more than ever before,” Wally said, as the revelation of the cure settled into his mind.

Iris responded. “There is a part of Barry which is within me as well, not just within my heart, either. He gave me a precious gift in the month we had together, and for that gift, I need to stay strong.”

Wally began to realize what Iris was saying. “You mean–?”

Iris smiled, wiping the last of her tears from her eyes and spoke. “I’m pregnant.”

To say Wally was overjoyed would be an understatement. He smiled and continued to hug his aunt. “You’re having a baby! Oh, my God, I am so happy! How far along are you?” Wally asked, trying to keep his excitement at a normal level.

“I’m within my first trimester. For the most part, I’ve kept the excitement to a minimum,” Iris started to say.

“Aunt Iris, whoa, you placed yourself under some severe stress, though, recently because of me. You shouldn’t have done that,” Wally said, concerned for the health of Iris’ unborn child.

“You listen to me and you listen good,” Iris said sternly. “I lost Barry. If I had the ability to save him, I would have. But I knew just what the ramifications of his sacrifice really were. I couldn’t bear to lose you, too. I love you too much for that to happen. I was careful, believe me, but I want my child to look at you the way you looked at Barry. Whatever sex my child is, I want he or she to have a stable role model that embodies what’s right with the world.”

“That… really means a lot to me, Aunt Iris,” Wally said, surprised that his aunt held him in such high regard. “Have you thought about maybe… coming home?

Iris paused for a few minutes before responding. “Right now, no. In the twentieth century, Iris Allen is dead. Dad still thinks I’m dead, so does Robert, Charlotte, and the people I worked with at Picture News. I — I can’t… I can’t do that just yet. I need some time. And I don’t know how much time I’ll need. For now, I’d rather you not tell anyone I’m alive.”

“All right,” Wally softly promised. “I just don’t want this to be the last time I see you.”

“It won’t be, and that’s a promise,” Iris said with a smile. She held Wally’s hand and moved it down to her belly. “Both of us will see you again.”

“You know, I want to stay, but I know I can’t. I have to return to my era. But knowing that you are alive, and knowing that you and Barry have something very special waiting to join this world, I couldn’t be happier. I love you, Aunt Iris,” Wally said, gently kissing his aunt on the cheek.

“I love you, too, Wally. I am so grateful you’re alive,” Iris said. “We can send you back a day or so later here–”

“Nahhh,” Wally said with a smirk before pulling his Flash mask back on. “I’ve been reintroduced to the Cosmic Treadmill. I’ll go from there, and I’ll make sure I don’t alter what was already established. Just one thing. If there’s such a thing as Lamaze here, I’m more than willing to be your partner. Deal?”

“Deal,” Iris joyfully said with a smile before pulling something from her pocket. “One more thing, Wally. You might need this,” she said, walking to her nephew and handing him a new Flash ring. “Another improvement Barry made in his time with me. By wearing it, the ring will respond to your thoughts and release your suit without any problems. I hope it suits you well.”

“I know it will, Aunt Iris,” Flash said, placing the ring on his left hand.

“I guess this is it, Wally,” Iris said, hugging the nephew who was now a man in his own right. “I am so proud of you, and I always will be. Goodbye, Wally.”

“Goodbye, Aunt Iris,” Flash said, waving to his aunt. Turning toward the laboratory door, Flash picked up the ashes of his former foe. He then took off and headed to the Flash Museum, ready to head home.

Return to chapter list