One Is The Loneliest Number

From the Story Arc: The Fading Flame: Meanwhile

Previous Story in the Arc: Recrimination by Krasnaya Zvezda (Saturday, May 05, 2007)

Next Story in the Arc: The Eighth Sin by Belladonna Aura (Wednesday, May 23, 2007)

(posted Friday, May 11, 2007)

Weeks now. John Murdock wasn’t the only one staring at the bottom of a bottle.

Victoria Victrix didn’t drink….but tonight she had gone through more vodka than ReBear and Russian Trawler combined. It hadn’t helped. Nothing helped. She suspected Johnny was finding out the same.

Weeks. Sera and the kids, gone. Red gone. And no one gave a shite. Oh, there was an initial flurry of “Oh no!” for the spectacular way in which the Murdock clan had been blown to bits, but now…they might just as well have never existed. And as for Red…no one noticed at all.

Vickie started her third bottle, wondering if it was even possible for a metahuman to OD on booze or drugs—well, other than the stuff like Dyne, that messed with your whole genetic architecture. Didn’t seem like it. Johnny was sure trying to plow himself a hole in the ground, and…this Russian mule-kick was just going down like water.

Weeks. And they weren’t even a footnote anymore.

Keet was nuckin’ futz, but maybe she’d been right with all the stuff she’d been babbling about when Zach was killed. The stuff about “stay interesting.” Whatever was in charge here…maybe you had to stay interesting, or you got erased out of the collective conscious. Canceled in midseason. Dropped with a kill fee, like a book series that never worked out, with no one interested in how it was all supposed to end except the author. So long, buh-bye, there’s a thousand stories in this city more compelling than yours, don’t call us, we’ll call you.

And the sad thing was, no matter how compelling your story was, the hard truth was that no one was indispensable. Everything went right on keepin’ on without you. Maybe once in a great while someone would say “Gee I wonder what happened to—“ then go on with a headshake.

Except for the broken bits left behind, like her. Like Johnny. And even Johnny was ceasing to care about anything except maybe the next bottle.

Victoria Victrix looked at the third bottle and realized dully that it was empty. And she wasn’t nearly drunk enough to dull the pain.

Which was probably exactly what Johnny was discovering, every hour, every day.

She put her head down on the table and let the tears slowly, silently come, until she passed out, still crying.