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Afraid of the Dark

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Afraid of the Dark

Summary: Just what is it like to die? Found out through Nega-Dustin’s eyes when an attempt to clone him twenty years after his death by the hands of the tyrannical Dark-Eradicator is unsuccessful, and learn why it never pays to play the role of God.

Character List:

(Nega)Dustin/Negawing: A ruthless cold-blooded criminal, Negawing had plagued the Normalverse ‘s Neo (Formerly Saint) Canard for years and had often wrecked death and destruction in his path until recently he had finally met his demise at the hands of Dark-Eradicator, who had once been Posiwing Duck, a monster that Negawing indirectly had created. Now he is revived as a clone, but it seems his resurrected is only temporarily as he is fated to die… this story is told through his perception.

Jesssica: Formerly known as “Black Widow”, both Negawing’s wife and his most trusted subordinate. She had witnessed the horrors her husband had inflicted over the years in both realities and was distraught when he had died. Now that Negawing is revived she is spending the last few precious minutes with him, comforting him and is hesitant to say her last goodbyes to the man she had loved. This story is told through her perception.

Roderick: A expert at the field of genetic-engineering, he had revived Negawing in a attempt to have the villain reconquered his position in power by overthrowing his son.

Unknown: Negawing’s surrogate father, and once a deadly crimelord, he is now deceased.

Dark-Eradicator: Once a heroic crime-fighter, he is now the twisted shadow of his former self and has established his tyranny by conquering Saint Canard but he seemed to vanish without a trace shortly after his reign began… Mentioned only.

The Red Armed Gang: Negawing’s henchmen: Skinner, Brain and Brawns. After Negawing died, Dark-Eradicator had executed them. Mentioned only.

Drake: The son of Negawing, he had followed his father’s footsteps and became a villain with-the-same-name.

Deliah: The daughter of Negawing, unlike her devious brother she isn’t necessarily evil and wants a normal life.

Negawing II: Nega-Nicholas was the father of Negawing, he was betrayed and murdered by his own associates when Dustin was a small child.

Catherine Mallard: Negawing’s mother, she was killed by a gunman in cold-blood.

Negaduck: Negawing’s ancestor, died in his final confrontation by the hands of Dark Warrior over a hundred years ago.

Note: The setting of this story takes place twenty years in the future of the “Tortured Soul Series”, it features Nega-Dustin (most renowned as “Negawing”) and Nega-Jessica as the characters of this story. This story may contain spoilers from the events of the “Negawing Returns” story, which is in the writing stage. I do not own any of the Darkwing Duck characters nor the series since it belongs to Disney, I expect no profit from this story whatsoever.

Second Note: One thing I’d like to say is that I am not an Atheist, I am a very firm believer in god, so don’t let anything that happens in this story offend you. I intend no offense and apologize for any that is or if felt as you read. Thanks for coming, and I hope you find this story enjoyable.

Song Credit: Dante’s Prayer by Loreena McKennitt, a beautiful song that sets the mood in this story as you read.


Silence melts away, darkness fades and warm moisture surrounds me. My eyes open and saw through liquid, comprehending nothing that moves before them. How did I get here? Where am I? The last thing I remember, I was departing to my double’s universe, the Normalverse, in a last-ditch effort to conquer it…

Faces appear, one was covered with blue scales and had short orange hair, one wearing a white uniform that had resembled a labcoat, the other was white as I am and black hair-feathers, and had too also wore the same labcoat. Their eyes stare at me strangely, heads shaking sadly. Why?

Around me, the fluid drains and I feel myself sinking. I can’t move, can’t think… I just lie there while cool hands lift my limp body onto a cold metal table and push me down a corridor. Shiver…cold…say so… must tell them…

Gurgles, meaningless, then…

“….Cuuuuuhh… c-c…ooo…”

What? Did I make that nonsensical sound? The small fish humanoid was looking down at me, frowning. I’m confused… and I’m unable to utter a single word to speak! Nobody is telling me what is going on…

“Ah, yes, Emperor Negawing’s bed is ready for him. Just place him there and we’ll send her in.”

Negawing? Oh yes, that’s who I am… that’s the name I had used throughout the majority of my criminal career sine the day I abandoned my former identity, but for some reason it’s difficult for me to remember… to think… jumbled, twisted ideas and memories. Half-dreams, hallucinations and nightmares… reality all a jumble of strange colors and objects. I follow the fish humanoid figure with my eyes while two set of hands lift my useless body and lays it in the soft bed.

The fish man peers at me and speaks with a voice garbled by time. “You probably don’t recognize me, my name is Roderick, and if you can understand me in there, I’m overseeing your care until you terminate.”

Terminate?! Does he mean I’m dying?! No!

Roderick, as he calls himself, brings a lightened pen close to my face and moves it before my eyes. It is irrelevant, and I ignore the movement , my eyes still peering at his dark green eyes. He sighs and clasps the pen in his fist, straightening to speak into his computer log. “No cognitive function due to parts of the brain failing to form completely. The cloning procedure was unsuccessful as predicted. Life functions will cease…”

I had stopped listening at that time, and stare without really seeing the rays of light shining into the window near my bed. Disjointed, frightened emotions trickle across my mind. If I’m a clone, does that mean I failed to conquer Posiwing’s Saint Canard? Does that mean that I somehow had been killed by that meddling costumed hero? It was possible, I remember vague thoughts that I intended to exploit his secret identity by targeting his wife, his own Jessica, something tells me that whatever events had followed my latest plot had led to my demise. But… why can’t I remember dying? How did someone as weak as Posiwing managed to kill me? Is there… nothing after death?

No….no!

…I don’t want to die! I don’t want to cease to exist, I want to live!

(When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone)



Reflections of my black feathers and black hair that were now tainted gray had manifest themselves in the glass I stare through. Professor Roderick and a technician have just placed Dustin in his own bed. He just lies there like a frightened newborn in a strange place, his eyes unseen, and my heart starts to break.

I can remember how I fell in love with him when we first met, and I can remember he was in his thirites, like now. We had conveniently pulled off separate bank heists at the Third National Bank unaware of the other’s plans, it was then I had stumbled into the vault when I saw him in his ‘Negawing’ persona with a large sack of stolen money slung over his shoulder while carrying a large, heavy-built gun. It was at that moment that our eyes had met each other and I could already see that we’d fallen in love at first sight. He told me I was the only person he would allow himself to fallen in love with, to get so close to his heart, to see what the humane side of his dark personality, and I believed him. But even I could not keep the hatred that had been growing in his heart at bay, I was unable to save him, despite my best attempts. Over the years his hatred towards his double had grown intensely to the point that the very thing he hated had finally claimed his life. It’s ironic, neither of us knew the threat that Posiwing was capable of, we both thought he was merely a cheap impersonation of my Dustin, a problem that can easily be rectified until it was too late.

Professor Roderick is shaking his head sadly, my hand rises to rest on the glass, trembling in dreadful anticipation of what he’s going to say when he comes out. Roderick is a free agent geneticist, a small blue-scaled fish with short orange hair, wearing nothing more than a labcoat and black trousers, and a pair of oversized glasses over his face, he had been a scientist who had worked for my husband, often using his scientific knowledge to built elaborate ‘foolproof’ inventions that he had guaranteed would conquer the world, these inventions have been foiled by Posiwing countless times during the course of their rivalry. My husband hated Roderick, the only reason why he kept him was alive was due to his knowledge, he was confident that one of Roderick’s inventions would have fulfilled his dreams: but sadly, that would never happen.

After my husband had died in the explosion that had been a result with his final battle with Posiwing, now the tyrannical Dark-Eradicator, I was left to raise our children: Delia, and Drake, giving up my life of crime. Despite the hazardous health and the crime diseased environments that had plagued the city for hundreds of years, my children had grown up to become fine adults. Drake had followed in his father’s footsteps and became Negawing, as a tribute to his father, although his childhood is nowhere near as tragic as my Dustin’s, he was still as evil, I guess being evil for him was a heritage that had been a trait passed down from Dustin’s side of the family. He would often visit me once a week, to check up on me, despite his position as a super-villain he had always made the time in schedule to visit me along with his sister for our family traditional holidays. Dustin would had been proud to see his son becoming a splitting image of himself, he would be proud to know that he had left behind a strong legacy, he might as well be considered the reincarnation of Dustin since they shared so many characteristics.

At a young age Delia had expressed interest of becoming a fashion designer, currently she is being enrolled in a fashion designer college, determined to fulfill her dreams. She had no intention of becoming evil like her brother but rather had wanted a normal life. Despite their differences in personalities, while Drake (like Dustin) had been quite a temper-mental, always solving his problems with violent, aggressive methods while Delia had always been the calmer one, solving her dilemma with a more logical, reasonable methods, they had always gotten along since they were small ducklings, and their bond as a brother and sister is stronger than ever.

I had no intention of returning to the Normalverse, my life as the villainess Black Widow had ended the day Dustin was killed. I had heard no word of Dark-Eradicator since his tyrannical began, although there are rumors he had disappeared not long after his rule began. Even if so, even if that horrible murderer is gone I will never return to that reality.

However I was drawn back to reality when Roderick had approached the inbuilt intercom in the wall and pressed a button.

“Mistress Jessica, I’m afraid he isn’t going to make it…”

He goes on with a bunch of medical terms that I pay no attention to. All I want is to see my beloved, to hold him again after missing him for so long. I want to be with him when he dies, even if my presence goes unnoticed.

Dustin… he is so afraid of dying that he saved some of his own cells and downloaded all of his memories into a computer so he could be cloned if the worst happened. Not once did he pay any mind to the risks, and now he’s paying for that grievous mistake. He knew that the cloning machine would not be ready for the past twenty years; he knew he would likely have perished by his double or by a different criminal before its completion. He had made various enemies in his time, and knew he would not live much longer due to his notorious reputation which is why he was desperate to find any sort of means to continue his legacy, to find a way to gain immortality to extend it. He claimed to me that he wanted to ‘reign forever’, but I know the true reason: he fears death, he fears the possibility that he would suffer for his crimes against humanity for eternity, and the possible chance that he will cease to exist. It has been a fear that had plagued him like a nightmare since a young age when his own mother had died before his eyes.

Much to my annoyance, Roderick continues speaking in a monotone, staring down at his digital chart without looking up, “...it may not be a pretty ending either. Anything can happen at this rate.”

“Damnit!” I finally explode and snatch the chart from his hands, “Just let me in to see him, idiot! I don’t want him dying on me while you stall me with your medical psycho-babble!” I reached for my 9mm pistol and brought it to his eye-level as I remind him who’s in charge and he quickly bows before allowing me to pass.

Finally free, I walk around the window, stride into the room and stand at the edge of the bed. Dustin doesn’t even acknowledge my presence, even when I call his name, but I know some part of him still hears me. His lower lip twitches when I take his limp hand and kiss it gently, and his eyes drift shut when I lower my face to press my moist beak-lips against his dry ones.

Even though he doesn’t react, I know he knows I’m here. He has to know...

My eyes quickly scan the chart while Dustin rests. It says that half of his cerebral cortex failed to form, and a few parts of his brain formed in the wrong places. Humph, the chart even says he’s unresponsive. If he’s so unresponsive, why does he seem to see me?

(I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars)



Jessica looks different than before; her black hair now had signs of gray, as if she… aged, her beauty remains, as strong as ever. How long had I been dead? She was yelling at Roderick a moment ago, though I haven't the faintest clue what about. Now she's sitting right beside me.

Jessica…my love...her hot temper is one of the many reasons I married her. She’s funny, mother-like, beautiful and deadly. Not as deadly as I, of course, but close enough...I’ve been slapped several times with her hand and I find it a miracle that the bruises still don’t adorn my skin.

She kisses me and I cannot return it...what if she leaves? No, I don’t want her to leave me again! I can’t stay awake, but I don’t want to sleep either. If I sleep, I’ll never wake up...and I’m scared...so scared and afraid to be alone. I haven’t felt this way since my mother died when I was young child by the hands of a gunman , it wasn’t until later that Unknown had came into my life. I’ll never forget how lonely and painful it was.

Speaking of...where is Unknown?

No, he doesn’t matter, nothing does. Yes, yes he does matter! What is happening to my mind? I can’t think straight!

Jessica’s hand comes to rest on my forehead, warm and comforting against my cold skin. Though I can’t focus on her, I can see her beak lips in motion as she speaks.

“I know you’re afraid, and I know you can hear me. I’m not going to leave you, my love.” She says while pulling the familiar blankets around my body. Her hand never releases mine in the process, though I wish I could watch her care for me.

As long as we’ve been married, Jessica has had a tendency to mother me. I never did mind it, probably since I hardly remember my own mother.

The moment I think about that, I feel the distant sensation of arms about me. I feel so helpless, just as I always feel whenever she embraces me. Close...breath in my ear...murmuring without speech. Comfort...rest...no! I can’t let myself fall asleep!

I quickly snap my eyes open before they can drift completely shut. Please...I don’t want to die like this. I’ll stop trying to kill Posiwing...I’ll leave his damned world alone! I’ll denounce my evil ways, I’d give up my life as Negawing! I do anything… anything to live… I want to cry and I can’t even do that. I want to bury my face in Jessica’s breast and sob, and I can’t...

(Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me)



Dustin won’t sleep, not even when I hold him. I can’t put my finger on it, but something tells me he is more distressed than he looks. His eyes...they’re just...I don't know...more glazed with fear than I’ve ever seen them. Tears are coming down his face and dripping onto my arm.

“I’ll be right back, my love.” I tell him, kissing his brow before lying him down so I can poke my head out the door. Roderick is nursing the scratch I gave him when I first heard that Dustin was being cloned. He wasn’t reviving him through charity, but to overtake my son’s, Drake, leadership, he had thought that Drake was a terrible leader to the point he thought he could resurrect my husband from the dead so he can lead them again. Never before have I been this furious with him, he had always made stupid mistakes in the past but this had nearly pushed my patience with him to the point I want to drop him off a skyscraper or worse. I knew if our roles had been switched that Dustin would not hesitate to kill him for this sign of treachery. Sixty-two stitches, that’s how much they had to sew that idiot up. “Hey, get something that will help Dustin sleep, will you?”

“Mistress Jessica?” He looks up, “I don’t think it matters. He isn’t aware of anything.”

This numbskull is trying my patience! Grief is quickly turning to anger as I point my finger at his face and extend my metallic fingernail like a small dagger. “Do you want me to finish slicing off that arm of yours? Get a sedative this instant!” I screamed at him.

“Yes ma’am!” He jumps to his feet and races down the hall while another technician pushes past with a cart of medical equipment. While the fool is gone, I put my hand over my face and let some of my tears go.

Part of me keeps thinking that Dustin’s just groggy from coming out of the life-support cylinder, and that he’ll snap out of it in a few hours. But charts don’t lie, and neither does medical science. Nobody has the right to play Creator and turn someone’s cells into a life form. I think nature is trying to remind us of that by doing this to my love. Is this the Creator’s own unique sense of a joke by punishing my Dustin?

Ah, here comes Roderick again. I wipe the tears away quickly before he sees my weakness and shove him into the room. There is no room for patience when idiots like him walk around in this world...I swear...I’ll make it a point to kill him when this is all over. As I said it before, Dustin would have done the same for me if our situation was reversed, and I’ll gladly do it for him.

Roderick makes a quick injection with an epidermal needle and turns his orange haired head my way, “This will put him to sleep for awhile. It won’t stop his body from seizing, which will happen very soon because his oxygen intake is declining. I can give him oxygen to make him more comfortable if you like.”

“Do it.” I order as my feet carry me back to the side of my betrothed. Small noises are rising from his throat, though they make no sense and have no meaning. Is he trying to speak? Does he even know he’s doing it?

Ugh...I’m so tired from sitting up all night. I hope my love falls asleep soon so I can rest as well.

Once again, annoying Roderick pays a visit to annoy me and bring in the requested oxygen. He doesn’t say anything, he just fits the mask over Dustin’s beak and high-tails it out as quickly as he came in without another word.

Part of me feels guilty for Dustin’s terminal condition by not talking him out of cloning himself. The rest of me just wants someone to blame...and Roderick is the perfect scapegoat. Killing him will be fun, later. For now, I’ll just settle down with my arms around my love and watch him fall asleep.

(Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and the fire)



Tired...eyes heavy...but I can’t let myself fall asleep. I’m too frightened of never awakening. And what is on my face? I can’t remember what to call it...

“Go to sleep, m’love.” Jessica cooes into my ear. Her arms wrap around me, her left leg coiling around my legs, and I feel her body next to mine. So warm...soft...sexy...yet I don’t get excited. I don’t even remember what that excitement feels like.

Where am I again? My bed? Somewhere else? I can feel my memory starting to fade as I get more sleepy. Like a feather floating down from a high altitude. Ahh...keeping my eyes open is too difficult. Maybe if I fall asleep, I won’t know it when I die.

A void awaits me when I let my eyes close, though after images of the windows remain on the back of my eyelids. Sounds of the outside world grow faraway and insignificant. I can hear my own heartbeat...a throbbing, weak and irregular sound. Its rhythm defies logic.

Something rumbles...my stomach? No...it’s my bones. I can hear them. I can feel my own muscles starting to relax, playing their own chords in the silence. The buzz of my mind is a monotone in the background. Good...I know I’m not dead if I can still hear.

Then come my dreams...

Myself, wearing a black tuxedo instead of the double-breasted jacket I had always worn in my alias as Negawing. I had insisted to wear most of the pieces of my costume even at his occasion, such as my long black cape, my red mask and my black fedora. I could see Jessica, dressed in a beautiful white gown with a transparent hood acting as a veil. My hands lift the silver shroud hood to reveal her face to the witnesses, and hers come to rest on my cheeks. Our beaks meet to seal the vows. Her emerald eyes glisten with love, love just for me. My own eyes reflect that love. One pale hand and one black hand both interlock fingers.

I’m seeing our wedding...I could dream of it forever...

Wait a second, something is wrong! Its… no, it cannot be… my body...I can’t feel it anymore! I can’t move! This realization shatters the dream and I awaken, panting behind the plastic covering my mouth.

(Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me)



Asleep, he's so angelic, like an angel. My fingertips trace the curve of his forehead and his nose. I could easily trace a rose the same way and never tell the difference. Dustin’s forehead creases as my touch passes over it. His eyelids lift to reveal glazed eyes from underneath the red mask he wore. Plastic fogs and un-fogs, filling with foam. Hungry panting stabs the silence. Disjointed movements rip through stillness, then jerk to a halt, stiff as a board.

My God...he’s seizing! Is this the end?

Though convulsions aren’t present, this seizure still frightens me. I know it has to frighten him.

Moments pass before Dustin’s body relaxes. Sweat layers his pale feathers, droplets of dew. Unblinking eyes glisten sightlessly. Beak lips gape in panic behind the mask.

I remove the mask and wipe it clean. Tears begin to flow as I start to clean his face like a mother cleaning a messy child up. It hurts...this person is not my husband anymore...yet he is. Some part of him has to still be alive in there. A body can’t live with no mind!

His eyes remain open despite the stupor that half-closes them. My hand comes to rest on his forehead so I can turn his gaze into mine, and I stare into his eyes. They are unfocused, and I begin to cry more when I see them. “Oh Dustin, my love...can you see me? Are you aware?”

Nothing. I can’t tell if he hears me or not. He has to hear me...

“Dustin…”

When I take his hand again, I realize how cold it is. His fingers are getting gray and dusky looking with a hint of brown on his dry-looking feathers which were matted, they appeared to be falling out whenever he moved the slightest, even to breath. My eyes return to his face and I press my lips to his. They too have become like ice.

His eyes flicker a little, just a little, tears pouring out of them. Fear is broadcasting through them as clearly as a banner. Some part of his mind is still there, enough to feel emotion.

“Love,” I breathe, lips lowering beside his ear. Cheek pressing against his temple, I just hold him to my chest like an infant fresh out of the womb, “Don’t hold on to something you can’t have. Lingering will only prolong your fear...”

(Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars)



“...you will still exist. I promise you will not cease, Dustin, my betrothed.”

Jessica...speak to me more, my love. I love to hear your voice in my ear this way, the only comfort I have. But something by the wall is dragging my attention away from her words. Someone stands in the shadows, tall, muscular, clad in dark armor.

I recognize that figure as Unknown. He is a major crime-lord in Posiwing’s universe, he had took me under his wing when I was a young duckling, he raised me like his own son, he had wanted to turn me into his own image, to follow in his own footsteps but I had refused and decided to fashion a identity and costume after my own ancestor Negaduck, as a tribute to his notorious reputation. Unknown had never forgiven me for that, he had deemed me as worthless failure to his eyes, even though he never told me that I could see the disappointment in his eyes. Even I’d never admit it myself I had always seen him as my own father, since my actual one died a long time ago.

But how did he get here from the Normalverse without a portal? Where has he been all this time? I could see him scowl at me as he turned his back. “You’d always been a failure, Negawing, and now you shall die like one, its quite a fitting fate that only a treacherous failure like you deserves,” he spoke in a dark tone to me that sent a chill running through my spine. I was stunned at what he said to me, that cannot possibly what he always thought of me, right? I was at a loss of words, I couldn’t even utter a single response to him. Now he's leaving! Father, wait, I didn’t intend to fail you! I was trying to make you proud! Where are you going? Where?! Please… don’t abandon me while I’m slowly ceasing to exist. Please….

He left me... I could not believe it, a person that I considered to be my own father since I couldn’t even remember my own, had left me to die because he thought of me as a failure… never before had I felt such betrayal in my life.

It’s so dark. Has it always been this dark? No, no it hasn’t! Oh god, this can’t be the end for me! There’s so much I haven’t accomplished in my life! So many things I haven’t done, so many things I haven’t redeemed in my miserable life, so many things left unsaid. Oh please no don’t take me away from Jessica without me saying my goodbye!

My own moans work their way into my consciousness, mixed with Jessica’s soft murmurs. Soft feathers strokes my brow and silky lips press themselves to mine, silencing my cries. Hot tears drip onto my cheeks from her eyes as they stare into mine and wait for the response I cannot give.

A flash of color shocks my senses. There’s another, this one green! White! Red! Purple! Rainbows dance across my sight in different shapes and sizes. Beams of light in colors I’ve never seen shoot past me. I don’t even notice that darkness has befallen me, for all I see are these magnificent colors...

(Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We'll rise above these earthly cares)



Tears still flow freely while my lips press themselves to his soft feathers. His breathing is deteriorating, sounding labored and uneven. Every inhaling breath was a fight for air. Glazed blue eyes of glass stare at nothing, seeing nothing more. Pale fingertips like ice have turned more brittle and brown before my eyes. Yellow doors of breath have lost color, giving way to sickly deathly gray.

“You’ve been a good husband to me, Dustin. A wonderful companion and a true friend.” I say my goodbye while I still can. People say hearing goes last, but no sense taking risks. “I’ll never love another as I have loved you, and I shall never look upon another as I looked upon you. Do not concern yourself with me any further.” I have to stop, sobs lumping in my throat like a slow heat choking off my breath, “Let yourself go everywhere. Just melt from the flesh that binds you and free yourself.”

I don’t want to let him go. I don’t want to say goodbye and watch him fade in my arms. I don’t want to lose him again. But I must. He could linger for years like this and that isn’t fair, it isn’t for me and especially for him. He deserves much better than this, if only things had been different for the both of us.

Dustin? Do you even realize you’re starting to die in my arms? Are you still frightened of disappearing forever? Can you still hear my voice speaking whispers into your ears?

How I wish you could hold me back one more time... how I wish you’d never died in that explosion.

Wishing that makes my voice crack, “I love you...”

If he were able, he would have said, “I love you too, Rose.” Rose was his nickname for me, and he was the only person I would allow to call me that. Then he would smile that captivating smile and kiss me...he always kissed me after being told or telling me 'I love you'. On the cheek, ear, shoulder, hand, lips, tail...whatever was within reach at the very moment.

Now I lean down, slip the plastic mask off his face and kiss his brow, chin, cheek and beak. Perhaps to remind him that I never forgot his kisses...

This pain...it isn’t physical, yet just as real, if not worse. I can’t put my hand over it and cradle it until the smarting sensation dies off. All I can do is hold him, cradle him and keep talking.

“You’re not alone, my love...I’m holding you right now. My arms will keep you safe, I promise.” Tears blur my sight and form hot trails on my cheeks.

He is breathing through an open mouth, the sounds weak, little more than raspy gurgles. I leave his side for just a moment to grab a bowl of water and a sponge. My gentle hand turns his head towards me. The other moistens the sponge, brushes it over his lips and swabs his dry beak out. His lips move and I watch him swallow. For a moment he seems conscious. Just my imagination...as soon as I stop, so does he.

I spend a few moments massaging his hands to keep them warm…he loves having his hands touched and massaged, almost as much as his feet. Ah, they are such pretty little white hands…piano hands, as humans would say.

My arms return around him, and I listen to the breaths flowing in and out. I stroke his brow and speak softly, “I’m here again, Dustin. Just you and me...”

Of course, Roderick has to ruin the moment. He pokes his nose into the room and waddles to the bed to take Dustin’s vitals. Not once does he bother to tell my husband what is being done to him...treating him as if he were a vegetable. He may be, but let him have some dignity!

“What do you want now?” I snap, shooting a glare that could melt ice. “I already know his vitals are weakening!”

“Sorry, Mistress Jessica. I have to check up on him so I can log down the time he – “

“I will alert you when that occurs!” I hiss indignantly. “But I don’t want to have it happen while I’m staring at your worthless hide! Now leave!”

“Yes’m.” Roderick writes quickly on his chart and hurries out in fear. Sometimes I wonder why such cowardly people with no spines are allowed to live. I guess it is because of their high intelligence...but then again...that also comes with a lot of stupidity mixed in.

My anger melts as I look down at my betrothed’s face, and I even turn his head so I can see into his eyes. They look so dreamy and far away, but they aren’t seeing me anymore. I don’t know what they see, but it can’t be nothing.

Curling up beside him with arm wrapped around his shoulders and my free hand on his hip, I kiss his lips once more and lay my head on his muscular chest. It is as if we have just made love and are lying in the afterglow.

Remembering that we’ll never make love again brings a sudden rush of tears and sobs. So I let everything go: the pain, grief, anger and sorrow...I cry it all out on Dustin’s chest as I hold him.

He is barely breathing now. Just little twitches of his lips and chest. His eyelids have taken on a slightly grayish-brown tone, there were circles under his eyes. The rest of the natural white feathers on his body were starting to become the same color, and I knew in my heart that any second now, he’s going to be gone from me forever. This time he won’t be coming back. My love...my Dustin…

I hear him straining to breathe. He’s taking several sips of air to fill his lungs before exhaling. Another gasp. Silence...agonizing silence. I hear another gasp. It’s a pattern of agony, torture and fear. He is desperately struggling to fight a losing battle, he is struggling to hang onto the remnants of his life that is slipping away from him, it breaks my heart to see him in such a state.

Grunt.

Sigh.

Inhale.

“Dustin...my love, stop fighting it now. Face your fear! You won’t be doing it alone, I promise...”

Gasp.

Wheeze.

Exhale.

My tears have yet to stop, and I don’t think they ever will. “...I love you...I always will...”

...silence...

Inhale...

Sigh.

...silence...

Gasp.

...silence...

...silence...

...exhale...

...silence...

...gasp...

...sigh...

...silence...

...silence...

...silence...

A last twitch forces his chest up before he exhales and stops breathing. Now the most difficult moments will come. His heart has yet to stop, and not even I know what he will experience when his brain finally dies.

“Dustin...” I sob and clutch him tightly as I listen to his heart. I even turn my head and kiss the throbbing spot on his chest, as if kissing the love we shared goodbye. Never forgotten, but never to be again. Part of me is dying with him right now.

(Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
Please remember me
Please remember me...)



It's so hard to breathe, like air is heavier than water and I can’t drag it into my lungs. Jessica is holding me. I know this because a warmth is beside me and nobody else would touch me this way. Pain laces around her voice like a strangling cord when she speaks to me. I wish I could comfort her...

Scared...so scared...I can’t let go now!

Breathe...no, it’s too hard and tiring. Each moment it’s becoming more difficult than the last, I could feel my strength slipping away from me. Chest too heavy rise and fall. Body too tired to attempt.

...what is breathing again?

I’ve stopped forcing myself to take in air, and it feels so natural. I’ve already forgotten how it feels to breathe. Jessica cries harder when I give up my attempts. I can understand that...I’m still afraid. The kind of fear that leaves a person paralyzed and wetting themselves.

What is happening to me? Is this a dream?

Wait...what is that sound?

Thump-thump!

My heartbeat.

Thump-thump!

Thump-thump!

...thump...thump...

...thump...thump...

...thump...thump...

...

...thump...

...echo...

...echo...

...silence...

No! My heart just stopped! I can’t hear it anymore!

In that same moment I feel my mind going back in time to random moments of my life. I don't know why this is happening, nor do I care anymore.

Flash!

As clear as day, I see the time when Skinner got so drunk he fell asleep in my bed. The scent of the liquor and puke on his breath still permeates my nose to this day, just as much as the sound of horrendous snoring.

Flash!

I could see myself engaged in a hand-to-hand combat battle with Posiwing; it was during the middle of the night and was pouring rain. Punches and kicks were thrown as our battle drove us to the rooftop of the building I was robbing. I threw a kick at Posiwing, who managed to dodge the blow with little effort, he then threw a punch and I barely lifted my arm to blocked it. I then grabbed a grenade from my cape, biting off the pin I threw the small explosive at him. Posiwing saw the incoming projectile and managed to captured it, and without turning to look behind him he threw it casually over his shoulder. I then whipped out a tripled double laser shotgun and before I could even fire the bloody thing he pulled out his own laser gun and fired a single bolt of diamond energy, knocking the weapon out of my grasp where it fell over the rooftop and disappeared into the darkness.

I growled, feeling my anger getting the best of me as I then lunged at him, catching him by surprise I tackled him to the ground and started throwing a rapid series of punches at his head; punch after punch I vented my anger on my double. How could someone, a weak impersonation of me who dedicated his life to protect others from people like me should even exist in this world? How is it possible that this same weakling had managed to gave me this much difficulty? I should have been more than capable enough of killing this knob!

As I vented my frustration at my double, throwing punches at his face as quickly as I could, I had failed to notice that he had brought his legs up until the last second. My eyes shot open in pain as I felt the air rushed out of my lungs as he kicked me in the chest, knocking me off of him. Pain laces through my body as I landed to the cold-hard ground with a thud, I coughed a bit as I slowly picked myself by using my shoulders to support myself, when a fist had struck me in the side of the jaw.

I fell to the ground again as Posiwing approached me with a triumphant irritating smirk on his beak, oh I would love to rip that beak off his face and shove it down his own throat so he would choke to death. As he brought out a set of handcuffs from his cape my vision faded into darkness…

Flash!

I recall the day I met Jessica; I had returned from the Normalverse to conquer the Negaverse in a effort to rebuild the empire I had lost. I had committed a robbery at the Third National Bank, I was en route to my hideout when I saw a flash of black. Then I saw her eyes, the eyes that pierced my soul the moment I looked into them. I had walked over and kissed her right there. She slapped me so hard I was on my back and a handprint marked my face for weeks.

Flash! Flash!

Moments from my childhood emerge: the time I had pulled a rather clever mischievous and yet stupid prank on Unknown during the first year I had worked for him, five months after he took me in to groom me as his heir, I had dyed his black armor with a rather hot pink dye while he was asleep to humiliate him.

Flash!

Another image I remember from the earliest moments of my childhood when my father, who was fashioned in a similar Negawing outfit as I wore had confronted me. He told me that he is bound to die sooner or later from the hands of one the criminals that served him, he told me that while he had never expressed it he had loved both me and my mother. He had even presented a miniature version of a chainsaw for me to use, claiming it was to have been my next birthday gift. It was the only moment in my life that I shared a father-son bonding with him, the only time he didn’t expressed his rage by hitting me. It was also the last as he disappeared afterwards and was never heard of again, even when I told my mother she never told me what happened, although I would often see her break down into tears afterwards.

Then I see myself as a young child when I first met Gabriel by the first time, I was a shy child when we moved to Shady Cove Avenue. He introduced himself and we became quick friends, but sadly over the years as I grew cold and bitter, I had loathed him. The friendship we had before had long since been dead and now I feel a sudden urge of sadness and guilt nearly overwhelming me. I’m sorry my old friend for the way I treated you.

Flash!


Finally the images all fade to random colors that zoom past me. Sinking sensations bring me to the realization that something is happening to me. But what? I don’t know anymore...I don’t remember where I am, where I came from or who is with me, even as her voice continues murmuring into my ear.

Colored patterns become multicolored grids, the grids like walls that zoom by. Eyes staring straight ahead, I watch the horizon switch between vertical and horizontal. More insane and illogical by the second, faster and faster.

Some colors are fading out now. Reds, golds, whites and oranges with hints of blue are all that remain. Grids still shooting past me, colors melting and blending together. In front of me, the colors have become an expanding mass that stretches as far as I can see. More colors fade out of my memory, and they keep fading until white is all I see. A distant star in a sea of blackness. Then...

Flash! Whoosh!

A supernova blast goes off right in my face! Who is doing all of this to me? Am I still dreaming?

Light fading slowly, getting darker. I don't know whether to be afraid of the dark or not.

Dimmer.

The voice murmuring to me grows further away.

Dimmer...

I’m so frightened...I don’t want to stop existing!

...dimmer...dark gray with light still shining ahead...

Please...I’ll do anything. Whoever controls life and death! Please! Please don’t take me now!

...dimmer...

...What…?

Floating again...drifting...silence...I don’t remember who I am. It just slipped my mind. What is happening to me again?

...dimmer...just a flickering white ember in the blackness...

How long have I been here?

...dimmer...flicker fading...

Afraid...still want to exist...

...dimmer...barely see that flickering white glow...

I still see... I see...Jessica! I see Unknown, my surrogate father! My own mother, my father. Skinner, and the rest of the Red Armed Gang of his; Brawn and Brains. Posiwing Duck, my sworn nemesis. Arms still hold me close...are they Jessica’s? Yes!

Sensations all fading, but I still see. I still hear. I still exist. I’m… not afraid of dying anymore, I know I can still exist after death, even though I am dying I can rest knowing that I will find a haven.

Jessica, I’ll never know if you hear these words or not, a part of me hopes so but I’ll have to say this before I leave this world forever: there are no words to express how sorry I am to leave you in such a state, there are things that I should have said and should had done, but I know you’re strong, you’ll have to be. I’ll meet you again one day in the next life, until then continue your own life, don’t throw it away because of me, fulfill your own dreams and purposes. Until then, goodbye, my love, please remember me.

...flicker...

...I can still see...

...dimmer...

...I can still hear...

...fade...

...Despite everything, I still exist...

...ember flickers in the distance...

I...still...

...light slowly flickers out...

…...exist…

...oblivion…

(…please remember me...
...please remember me...
...please remember me...
...please remember me...)



My eyes fly open when something trembles, my hand staying on his chest as I lift my head just enough to gaze down at his face. His heart weakens beneath my palm, fighting the urge to stop.

Weaker, each beat fainter than the one before.

I can barely feel it…

Throb-throb!

...throb...throb...

...throb...throb...

...flutter...flutter...

...

...twitch...



Stillness…

His limp body is devoid of warmth, and his mouth lifelessly falls open as I clutch him to my chest. My trembling fingertips trace his lips for the last time, gently closing them while his distant wide-open eyes looked back at me ,I could see the last bit of life that had once filled them had been vanquished like a dying fire.

Dull turquoise orbs are all that remain of those once bright sapphire spheres.

No sound interrupts the silence hovering about us as the only man I ever loved dies in my arms.

No more fear now, Dustin…just float away…let the darkness gently carry you to safety…

This pain… I thought I experienced pain before, but I was wrong. This was true pain, ripping through my chest, freezing my body, burning my soul. I can feel heat flooded my eyes, burning them with heartbreaking loss. I tried valiantly to keep my tears at bay, but at the thought that I had just lost the only person who gave a damn about me, I fell apart.

I’ll never hear his voice again. He will never sneak up and wrap his arms around my waist. Coy hands will never caress me in odd places at odd moments. Blue eyes will never gaze at me to mirror my feelings.

No heartbeat throbs in his chest. No breath passes between his lips. It seems so unreal…none of it feels real, it feels that its part of a horrible d ream that I’ll wake up from. I just stare down at his eyes…so faraway…like a one way mirror, or a house with all the lights off inside.

Empty…

It takes all the control I can muster to reach down and gently slide my husband’s glazed, dilated eyes shut. His eyelids have turned a deathly grayish-brown color to match his lips, fingers, and the rest of the feathers on his body. Just a shell now…an empty shell…or a finished sculpture lying out to dry…no longer needing to be molded and changed…

Gone forever…

“Dustin...” Sobs choke me, my hand pressing against his face as I cover his mouth with my own for what may be the last time. He looks so peaceful, as if asleep, but dreadfully still. “My love...I’ll miss you with all my heart and soul. Oh, my love...my soul...” I rock him helplessly, afraid to let go, unable to speak anymore.

A flicker of light catches my eye. The stars! Oh...the sky is so clear tonight.

There is a new star in the nebula that spills across the night-time horizon. A star for my beloved...

“Mistress Jessica…” A familiar nasal voice cuts into my thoughts.

“He’s dead. I know.” I whisper, holding Dustin closer in a protective embrace. What I'm protecting him from, I don’t really know at the moment. Until Roderick comes closer, that is, and I speak up again in a choked tone, “What do you want!”

“To gather more cells so I can attempt to clone him again. Don’t you want him back? We need him to rule the Negaverse again, while your son has ruled the city with an iron wing it has brought to my attention along with others that he will not live up the expectations as his father did before him. Some of us rather prefer to have his predecessor alive to take command! We can bring back your husband so he can take his position as leader again.”

That’s it! He has gone too far!

“Listen here you irritating knob!” I scream in his face at the top of my lungs, “What right do you have to play God and create life in ways that it wasn’t meant to be created! Huh?! My husband had suffered enough in his life, I will not let you disturb his peace for your own selfish reasons!” While I held my husband with one hand I reached for my free hand to grab something from a shelf above my head. When I brought the object to view I could see Roderick’s eyes flew open in a mixture of terror and horror as I held a small gun, a weapon that spits out a small burst of flames, a miniature flamethrower that my husband had often carried on his persona. “Farewell Roderick, your services are no longer needed.” I pulled the trigger of the weapon, enveloping the small fish in a rather large haze of flames, letting loose with all my rage and pain.

With one last excruciating scream of agony I watched as Roderick disappeared in the flames. There wasn’t enough of him left to feed an ameba. Good, one less jerk to worry about.

Placing Dustin gently back in bed, I tuck him in and kiss his brow as if he were only asleep and going to wake up in the morning. My mind clings to that foolish hope as I leave the room and head into the lab where this pain began. The same burst of flames that killed Roderick is released again, this time on the life-support cylinder. I feel myself smile as it explodes in a shower of glass, water and metal.

Now nobody can ever hurt my Dustin again...

...now he can have the peace he deserves...

…If you only knew how much I loved you. If only things didn’t went the way it did. if only I could have been there to save you, not only from Posiwing, but from the darkness that had corrupted your heart, the same darkness that had claimed your life at the end. I swear I will never forget you, my love. One day I will see you in heaven.

...Goodbye, my love...

(...please remember me...)
"You want to know something funny? Even after everything you've done... I would have saved you." - Batman

"That actually is... pretty funny.""- Joker
(Batman to Joker before the latter's death in Arkham City video game, 2011)
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