Anne woke up.
The little details of her existence accumulated, letting her know where she was: the feeling of the gown, the IV stuck up one of her wrists, that awful sick stench.
A hospital. She was in a hospital.
And she wasn’t alone.
She could hear it, the sound of another person breathing. For a second, before she opened her eyes, she hoped it was Shade. It would’ve been nice to wake up to the sight of Shade.
No use hoping, though, because it didn’t sound the way Shade’s breathing sounded. It was heavier: effortless but powerful, too powerful for a normal human.
Anne opened her eyes and saw him. “Gala…” her voice trailed off. She wiped a bit of sleep from her eyes and tried again. “Galactic Man.”
How long has it been? she wondered. The Sun was out, but that didn’t mean much. Had it been an hour? A day?
“I’m glad you’re awake,” the Man said, clad in his white-and-black outfit. Anne hadn’t seen him wearing anything else in a long, long time.
Something about the occasion, though — the fact that he was here, or maybe the surreal nature of the recent past — made her remember some better times.
She remembered going over to David’s house, seeing The Galactic Man wearing a plaid shirt and jeans. He’d play with the kids sometimes, or his superpowered dog. He always had to leave for some crisis or another, but he always came back.
Once he’d joked that Anne and David would get married. That was so long ago. God, that was so long ago.
“What happened to my son?” the Man asked.
“They told you, right?” Anne asked. “That he came back to life?”
“They told me, but that’s not what I mean.”
“What are you trying to say?”
The Galactic Man couldn’t form the words, not so much because he was afraid of David dying again. He was afraid of what might happen afterwards.
“Your heart’s beating fast,” the Man said.
“That happens a lot. I get anxiety.”
“I know people with anxiety,” the Man said. “I’ve heard the way their hearts run. This is something more.”
Anne didn’t say anything.
The Man continued, “I’ve found that the people who fear me are the ones who have something to be afraid of. Am I making sense, Anne?”
“You’re making sense,” she said. This made her feel like a kid again, but she didn’t like it. No matter how good those times were, she couldn’t go back. “I’ve got a good reason to be afraid of you, though.”
“My son?” Galactic Man asked. For the first time in the conversation — for the first time ever, perhaps — Anne heard a hint of desperation in the Man’s voice. “Are you worried because you did something to my son? You’re worried I’ll have to avenge him?”
“I’m worried you’ll do something crazy.”