by Martin Maenza
At a nearby hospital, Jonny Double awoke in a semi-private room. He had a few familiar faces to greet him. “Did we win?” he asked and then winced in pain as he tried to sit up.
“Relax, my friend,” Christopher Chance advised. Gone was the make-up from his Angle Man disguise, and he was dressed once more in his own clothes. “Though the murderer escaped in a bit of an unorthodox way, we have managed to solve the case. Bullock is down with the police making sure the case of who killed the Angle Man is completely closed.”
“Good.” Jonny smiled.
“Hey, Double,” Jonni Thunder said. “Thanks for the save back there. You’re a good egg after all.” Chance had told her earlier that Double was a knight in shining armor, and the man’s actions a few hours earlier proved that.
“Yes,” Angel O’Day agreed. “Jonni and I do owe you our lives.” She leaned forward and gave Jonny a gentle kiss on the cheek. “There. Maybe that will help you feel better.”
Jonny smiled again. “Thanks, Angel,” he said. “Maybe there’s somethin’ else you can do for me.”
“What’s that?” Angel asked.
He gestured for her to lean closer, and she did so. “How’s about sneakin’ me in a steak dinner?” he said with a smile. “I never was one for likin’ hospital food.”
Angel let out a giggle. “For you, Jonny, why not?”
A thin man in a long purple robe and cowl cursed as he crossed his dank and murky facilities. “That stupid cow!” DeSaad spat. “How could Lashina fail me so? And my sister! Bernadeth will pay for her role in the failure, too!”
He glanced out a small window at the dark, smoky skies of Apokolips. From this vantage point, he could see the huge stone statue of Darkseid that had been erected to remind the hunger dogs just who was truly in charge here. DeSaad shook his head.
“Why Darkseid respected that human anyway is beyond me!” he said aloud with little fear of retribution. Darkseid had called Lashina back to join the other Female Furies in this time of great Crisis. When something like this actually worried the great Darkseid, DeSaad knew he was the last one that would be watched at this time.
“He had us create that Angler weapon because he felt the Earthman would be a great ally. Little did any of us suspect that he would double-cross us the moment he got the weapon. That Angle Man managed to hide from Darkseid’s wrath for quite a while!” DeSaad swept his hand across one of the tables, sending an experiment full of beakers and glass tubes crashing to the floor.
He rubbed his bony hand. “Still, if what Lashina reported is true, then we have no worries. If the man still lives, then the fail-safe in the weapon was not triggered. The fail-safe that Darkseid had us put into the device would ensure the man’s intellect would not be lost in case of accidental death. Had he been killed by Lashina, his consciousness would have been transferred to the weapon to be retrieved at our leisure.”
“As long as the man lives, we will be able to track him down again. And then we will make him pay for his betrayal to Darkseid!”
And back on Earth, as the skies turned cloudier and darker, a man dressed in dingy ragged clothes turned into a Las Vegas alley way. The homeless man poked his head into one of the garbage dumpsters as he often did daily, hoping to find a half-eaten meal or discarded item of value.
After poking around the trash for a moment, something caught his eye. “What’s this?” he asked as he reached for a shiny object poking up among the refuse. He pulled forth a shiny triangular object. “Hmm, wonder what this is?” he asked, holding up the Angler that had been lost in the battle earlier that evening. “Maybe I can sell it to someone. Get a couple bucks to buy me some Boone’s Farm.”
The cold wind blew from the stormy skies. The man slipped the item into his ragged coat and pulled the collar tight. “Gonna need that wine,” he said. “Sounds like something big is brewing.” And the man walked off to find some shelter as the merged Earth began to face its final crisis.