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Matters of Life and Death


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McNider Hospital

December 31, 2017

10:32 PM


Nick Cimitiere generally avoided hospitals.


Not out of a general phobia, that is. And it wasn't like his duties didn't draw him there on occasion. But he never really liked it when that happened. Because that meant he had to get on the costume, put on the war paint, and go into a place of wellness looking like the coolest reaper around. 


Which, needless to say, likely was not a source of comfort for patients or staff.


But tonight, it couldn't be avoided. Something had been ticking away at his death senses from across Downtown. When his shift was over, he made his way to Midtown, only to feel the strange ripples coiling off of McNider. Not a sense of emerging souls, but... a lattice, almost.


He had a feeling he knew what he'd find as soon as he went in. There was some sort of controlled chaos - nurses and orderlies rushing everywhere, patients in the ER who looked like they'd gotten an early start on the New Year's Eve festivities (and whose "festivities" had gone down paths not easily considered jubilant). There was this general pallor to the whole place, this sense of sterility that went beyond your average hospital.


"Good. You're here."


That really wasn't what Nick had been expecting to hear. He turned to find a doctor striding towards him. "I assume you're here because of the..."


"I think I can guess. How long has it been going on?"


"Six hours. Gunshot victims, car crash victims, burn victims... nobody's died. Which would be a good thing, but... they're not getting better, either."

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Hospitals were really really hard places for Power to go into. Mangled patterns everywhere. He could fix some. But it was not a pretty sight. Others' patterns were so messed up. Yes he could mend broken things. As long as they were alive. But things like diseases and other bodily afflictions were above his reach. And heaven help if the pattern were to expire. The pattern taunted him and told him what he could have done. What he should of done.


So, why was he here? In costume even. His black morphic molecules costume was a sight among the patients. But apparently he wasn't the only costumed folk around here. Power tried to suppress the 'sight' of patterns, but it would only be a short time before he was needed here. That, and his responsibilities.

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As Power explored the hospital, he saw what he was expecting. Frayed pattern, torn patterns, patterns warped and twisted by damage that was sometimes hard to place. But it seemed there was something else in the pattern - a stray thread, one that seemed to whisk its way in and out of the patterns like a snake in the grass. It was hard to track, but when it materialized, it seemed to have the same effect as that old metal bar people used to use on their steering wheels to prevent car theft - locking the pattern in place. A thread of green that did not course or pulse. Threads of black and gray that remained stuck where a woman's lungs might be. The pattern did not shift and reknit; it seemed still, but not gone.




Nick kept exploring the hospital, trying to find the answer. But there was none. Not really. It was hard to get a sense on the pattern of death when death just wasn't happening. 


There was some mercy to that, he supposed. A gunshot victim had been wheeled into the ER at death's door, and his condition had automatically stabilized. But coming back from death's door after that much blood loss was having its own deleterious effects, and the medics put the chances of a full recovery at slim to nil. Still, it would have been better than an early death...


But what happens if it can't be fixed? What happens then?


There were always his own gifts, of course. Miracles to drive back the reaper. But it felt like there was something missing from the equation. How could he drive off death when death didn't seem to have any dominion?


He was broken from his reverie by the presence of the man in the black costume. Of course he wouldn't be the only hero working on this thing. He walked up, trying to be as nonchalant as a man with a skull painted on his face could be. "You see it too, don't you?" 

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