by Hitman 44077, partially adapted from Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez
The heroes, including Kid Flash, saw the Anti-Monitor standing before them.
“Scatter!” yelled Earth-One’s Superman to the others.
“Oh, no!” the Psycho-Pirate screamed, looking at the costume Kid Flash had in his grip. “Flash — please, Flash… save me! You promised!”
Though he had anger toward the Pirate, Kid Flash grabbed him and said, “We’re not going to die just yet.” He then carried the Pirate and himself away from the battlefield, still holding the Flash costume as the heroes began to attack. Running as fast as he could, Kid Flash found a safe haven to watch the battle… and to babysit the insane Psycho-Pirate. I wish I could combat that thing, but super-speed isn’t enough — not this time, he thought, turning his attention to the Psycho-Pirate.
“Now, Pirate, you’re going to tell me just what happened to the Flash,” Kid Flash said with anger.
The Pirate, who hadn’t up to this point realized that there were more heroes on Qward, responded. “He’s right here,” he said, pointing to the costume of the Flash. “He saved us. Yes, he did. Flash saved us.”
“Just what happened when he made his promise?” Kid Flash asked the Pirate.
“Oh, you see, the Anti-Monitor gave me a toy to play with… Flash, here,” the Pirate responded, staring at the costume as if it were still alive. “I was supposed to get an Earth for myself, but I failed him. He didn’t kill me, but I was scared, yes I was. I hurt Flash, but I told him I was sorry. He punched me a few times, but it was okay, because he was going to save me. I just had to help him a little, and I did. I think Flash broke the Anti-Monitor’s toy, his antimatter cannon, because it was going to be used to destroy the five Earths. There was an explosion, and I got lost. (*) It took me a while to find Flash, but I did. ‘Cause he promised…”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “A Flash of the Lightning,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 (November, 1985).]
Kid Flash’s thoughts drifted off as he realized what had happened. The Anti-Monitor didn’t kill Barry. My God, he sacrificed his life to save five Earths, not only the lives of those he cared about. The reason we even know he died is because he succeeded. And this… he thought, holding the costume of the Flash up, …this was the only reminder we have toward your sacrifice. God, Barry, you never gave up. You never quit. You were — are a true hero — and you’ll be remembered. I guarantee it.
Taking his right glove off his hand and placing Barry’s ring on his middle finger, Kid Flash opened the ring’s compartment and held the costume until it was pulled inside the ring. He then placed his glove back on his hand. Whatever happens now, at least you’re going home… so you can receive the rest you deserve. I love you, Barry, Kid Flash thought, closing his eyes and clenching his right hand in a fist.
“Huh? Where’d Flash go?” the confused Pirate said.
“He’s here, Pirate… he’s here,” Kid Flash said with a whisper.
Kid Flash watched the battle from afar, viewing the many heroes’ attacks. He watched as most tried to punch the monster to no avail. He watched as a woman dressed as Doctor Light began absorbing solar energy from a huge star. Strange twist of fate, Kid Flash thought, remembering that he learned that he was dying after he and Fran had fought another Doctor Light, the former leader of the Fearsome Five.
He saw Alex Luthor mount an attack, and then watched as Negative Woman released her radioactive soul form and bound itself to the Anti-Monitor. He saw the heroes finally unleash every ounce of power upon the Anti-Monitor, who for the first time looked vulnerable. Finally, he watched as the female Doctor Light fired all the solar energy she had collected into an enormous blast.
The impact upon the Anti-Monitor’s body was immense, as was the Anti-Monitor’s scream of agony. “AARRGHH!” the creature screamed as it was slammed into Qward’s surface. The body lay still, its chest smoking.
That’s right, you bastard. Enjoy your trip to Hell, you Devil, Kid Flash thought, his hatred for the creature still alive within him.
He turned to the Psycho-Pirate, who spoke. “Is he dead? Duly and truly legally dead? Oh, dare I hope?” the Pirate asked.
“I think that thing’s as dead as can be, Pirate,” Kid Flash said.
The Psycho-Pirate jumped around in joy, like a child on Christmas morning. “Oh, happy day, happy day! He’s dead! Duly and truly, certifiably, legally dead! You kept your promise, Flash! Heroes never lie. Oh, thank you, thank you!” the Pirate cheered.
“Let’s go. We need to let the heroes know we’re all right,” Kid Flash said, picking up the Psycho-Pirate and running toward the Anti-Monitor’s body, where he stopped.
The Pirate continued to sing. “Ding-dong, the Wicked Witch is dead. He’s dead, he’s really dead. Talk about happiness, talk about delight, talk about joy!”
“Stay here. I’ll be back,” Kid Flash said, running toward an asteroid where Power Girl, Captain Atom, Firestorm, and Doctor Light stood. “Hey!” he yelled toward the asteroid. “Down here!”
Firestorm heard the speedster and responded. “Hey, we did it, Kid Flash! We beat the Anti-Monitor!”
“That’s great, but I need a little help. I can’t fly. Can you come down here?” Kid Flash asked.
“Yeah. I’ll be there in a second, don’t worry,” Firestorm said.
Kid Flash ran back to the Psycho-Pirate and watched as Alex Luthor transformed his own body into a portal through the dimensions. “C’mon, Psycho-Pirate — move it!” he yelled.
“Flash… you saved me just like you promised you would,” the Psycho-Pirate continued to say.
Kid Flash knew they had little time. If they didn’t hurry, they would be trapped in the antimatter universe forever. He’s lost his grip on reality… he’s totally out of it. I want to hate him, but I can’t, he thought, calmer now that the Anti-Monitor had been dealt with. He spoke calmly to the Pirate. “C’mon, Pirate, it’s all over. We’re going home now.”
But what he didn’t notice, if he had looked behind him, was that there was a flicker of life still within the Anti-Monitor. Even as Firestorm landed by Kid Flash and the Psycho-Pirate, the ground began to shake. They watched as the green-caged shadow demons were drawn closer and closer to Qward’s surface. “No…” Kid Flash muttered.
“Oh, no… don’t tell me anything bad — I don’t wanna hear it,” Firestorm said.
Faster and faster, the caged shadow demons lurked closer and closer, nearing the planet surface. “The planet’s shaking,” was all Kid Flash could say.
“I told you not to tell me anything bad,” Firestorm replied.
The Psycho-Pirate screamed, “Y-you said you saved me… You lied, Flash… you lied!”
Suddenly, there was the impact of raw energy exploding about, and then, for Kid Flash, there was only darkness.
Kid Flash watched helplessly as his hero and mentor the Flash fought against the Anti-Monitor. The monster threatened to kill the Flash, but he moved too quickly. Within seconds, however, the Flash had gained the upper hand, using various speed tactics to wear down the monster. Suddenly, without warning, the Anti-Monitor was gone — vanished. Kid Flash could move again.
“Flash! You did it!” Kid Flash yelled happily, placing his hand on his partner’s shoulder.
The Flash turned around, revealing a skull behind the mask, blood pouring from its mouth.
“Hunghh!” Wally West cried, waking from his fever. A doctor who had been keeping track of the speedster’s condition spoke to him.
“It’s okay,” the doctor said. “Your fever broke. You’ve been out for several hours.”
“Where… where am I?” Wally asked, weary.
“You’re at STAR Labs,” said the doctor. “You were brought here earlier by Firestorm. He was concerned that something was seriously wrong with you. You see, whether you remember or not, you were in a delirious state of mind, making references to a disease killing you. We did some blood work, and we should learn the results soon. I’ll alert Dr. Klyburn that you’re awake.”
“Thanks,” Wally said. He looked around the room and spotted his costume, his Kid Flash ring, and Barry’s ring. Thank God it’s safe, he thought, referring to Barry’s ring. I might as well suit up.
Using his super-speed, Kid Flash put his costume on, but something didn’t seem quite right. Compared to other times I’ve put on the costume, it seemed as if I were moving a little slower, he thought. That’s odd… very odd.
Just a few seconds later, Dr. Jenet Klyburn walked into the speedster’s room. “Kid Flash? I’m Dr. Klyburn. How are you feeling?” she asked him.
“I feel better. Why?” Kid Flash asked.
“We went over your blood work while you were unconscious,” began Dr. Klyburn. “Firestorm said something about you mentioning a disease that was killing you. In fact, the doctor who was watching over your condition heard you speak of the same thing.”
Kid Flash confided to her, “Yeah. I have a disease that has caused me pain whenever I used my powers.”
“Firestorm mentioned that you received a blast of antimatter before he brought you here,” she said.
“I can’t even remember anything after the blast. I remember the colors and the energy. And the darkness,” replied Kid Flash.
“We did blood work, and whatever your disease is, it’s now in remission,” said Dr. Klyburn. “You’ll need to do some tests, because it seems that your body chemistry’s been altered slightly, but you’re in the clear right now.”
Kid Flash was surprised. “Are you serious? Is the disease gone?” he asked.
“Unfortunately, no. It’s still in your blood, but apparently the blast of antimatter you received is keeping the disease in check. It’s by no means a cure, but for the time being, you’re going to be all right,” Dr. Klyburn said, smiling.
Kid Flash smiled, feeling as if a heavy weight had been lifted off his shoulders. “I’m all right,” he said to himself, then he spoke to Dr. Klyburn. “I’m all right!” he yelled with joy, hugging the scientist.
Suddenly, he grew quiet. He realized that Barry was still gone. “Dr. Klyburn, I need to ask a favor of you,” Kid Flash said.
“What is it?” she asked.
Kid Flash picked up Barry’s Flash ring and released the Flash costume contained within. “This is the Flash’s costume,” he said.
“Oh, no. He really is dead?” she asked with sadness.
“Yeah. You mean his death hasn’t been reported?” Kid Flash asked.
“There’s been unconfirmed reports, most notably the Anti-Monitor’s claim, but none of the heroes have confirmed it,” Dr. Klyburn responded.
“I need to know if there is anything inside the costume — ashes, or any proof that this was indeed worn by the Flash. I’m not holding out any hopes, but I still need to know for sure,” Kid Flash said solemnly, handing the costume over to Dr. Klyburn. “If there’s anything left, then I’ll need to turn it over to his family. They deserve that much.”
“I understand. We’ll start right away. We’ll collect what we can, and if there are ashes, we’ll place them within an urn,” Dr. Klyburn vowed.
“I need to see if I can’t find Superman. I need to see him… to talk to him about the Flash,” Kid Flash said.
“That won’t be necessary,” a voice said from behind. Kid Flash turned around and found Superman himself standing there. Dr. Klyburn walked out of the room with Barry’s costume in tow.
“Superman!” Kid Flash said. “What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to see how you were doing. You look all right, and I’m glad,” Superman said.
“Dr. Klyburn said that none of the heroes have publicly confirmed Barry’s death. Is this true?” Kid Flash asked, not sure how to react.
“Yes. It’s true. I asked them not to say anything for now. We’ve suffered so many losses in the war against the Anti-Monitor. And…” Superman said softly, “…it’s not our place to do that.”
“Thank you,” Kid Flash said calmly. “I felt that before the world needed confirmation that the Flash was dead, I needed to inform Barry’s parents about what happened to him. It’s the right thing to do.”
“I understood that, as did the others. We’ll respect the family’s privacy,” Superman said consolingly.
“I appreciate that,” Kid Flash said.
Just then, Dr. Klyburn walked back in the room. “We found very little, but there were indeed ashes inside the costume. We found bone fragments that appear to be human, as well as a few human hairs. I’m sorry… I’m so sorry,” Dr. Klyburn said consolingly.
Kid Flash paused, bending his head toward the ground. He knew Barry was dead, yet he still had to hope for a slim chance, a miracle. Now, there was nothing left to do. “Thank you, Dr. Klyburn,” Kid Flash said softly, trying to keep his voice from breaking.
“Wally, I’m sorry. I held a little hope, too,” Superman said, feeling the loss. “What are you going to do?”
Kid Flash paused. “First, I need to let my folks know I’m alive. Afterwards, I’m going to see the Allens. They deserve to be told. I need Barry’s ashes and his Flash costume, so we can put Barry to rest.”
“We’ve already prepared them,” Dr. Klyburn said, as another doctor brought the costume and ashes to her. She handed them to Kid Flash.
“Thank you. After this is over, I’ll come back for those tests you need,” Kid Flash said, running off. You deserved a lot more, Barry, Kid Flash thought. I hope that you’ve been reunited in Heaven with Iris and have found peace.