Epilogue



Disclaimer: Zot and all related characters belong to Scott McCloud, best comics creator in known history.

Historian's note: takes place the night after "The Ghost in the Machine" part 3. You probably should read the storyline before this fic.

What's ever written between these two little ''s is quoted from the actual comic.



I just wish I could say it's easy.

You were dead, Jack, dead and gone. I saw you die right in front of me, with my own eyes. I saw you hit your own human body. You were dead, and I didn't have one thing to do with it. Not really. I never wanted to kill you, not really.

I won a war for them, Jack. I've never really been in a war before. I played fighting the bad guys, but I never truly harmed anyone, I never killed. I've never killed, Jack, you know that? Can you understand that? Can you understand what it meant?

It was all over, then. The war, it's over, but it'll never be over in my dreams. I tried to stop the killing, that's all I ever tried to do, but I had to get you, or it would've been no victory. So they told me not to look back, because I can't stop it now.

I didn't…

You were dead, Jack. All I've done, it was worth it, all I've helped other people do, all those crosses I'll have to bear, I can forget them knowing you're gone. No more little girls dying when I turn my back just for one second. 9-Jack-9, gone at last, let the world breathe a sigh of relief. Poor Zot can return to laughing at Bellows and Dekko and the Blotch, and have such fun punching and shooting…

The war was over, we could all go home, rest, know that there won't be anymore blood spilled today. But I didn't, I couldn't. I took Jenny home, poor Jenny, she'll have nightmares, I know. But she won't be seeing Lucy's face in them, beaming as she tells me not to look back…

So I packed my gear, and I went out, and I flew in the air and I tried not to look anywhere but the stars, but there was no escape this time, not this time.

How did you do it, Jack? How could you kill her? How could you kill all of them? Don't you have anything inside of you, telling you it's wrong, telling you you mustn't, ever, no matter the cost? Don't you hate yourself, Jack? Don't you pity yourself?

How does it feel, Jack? Killing?

I could blame you, but that would've been beyond even me, Mister Immaturity. I could hate you, I suppose, I wanted to, for the longest time. I wanted to hate you and to think it's all your fault. The war, what I did and felt, what I had to do because of you. 'Don't look back, Zot! You can't stop it now!'

I had to blame someone. I had to, before.

The air is different in Jenny's world. But you know that already, Jack. You've been there, you've been everywhere, nowhere escapes you. And wherever you are it's the same. No killing, I've never killed, no one in any world. Their lives aren't different than others. You know that as well as I do, Jack, you disregard them both the same way.

How does it feel, Jack? Does it feel good?

I breathed the air of Jenny's world, it was cool and refreshing, and it blew my hair away, and calmed me down, so all in all I was very relaxed, and I was thinking clearly, and I know what I was doing. All the time, even when I dived down near the bank hearing the sirens. I was rational, but so are you, isn't that right, Jack? All the time, you machine. Is that what makes the difference?

It wasn't that late at night. Some people were still conducting business in the bank, they weren't worried at all. I didn't stop to look at their faces because they'd all be the same. People that need to be saved, lives that need to be protected. One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. Jenny told me that quote; it's one from her world.

See what you made of me, Jack? See how I see them all now? A million lives, all in a hero's day's work. Precious, every one, I used to feel that, I used to care about that, it used to drive me. But I can't anymore, can I? Not anymore. One death is much easier as a statistic too, Jack. You know that. But you don't care.

How does it feel, Jack, knowing what you're destroying? Does it feel better than knowing what you protect?

Three bank robbers. I know what bank robbers are mostly from Jenny's world, because they're never just that in our world. I'm used to people like Dekko and the Devolutionaries… and you, Jack. Weird twisted people, not really people, come to think of it. Even Dekko isn't quite human. It's easier with that. Bank robbers I can handle, they're nothing but people, but therein lies the issue, Jack, right there.

It was a blur, eventually, all but the end. They shot, I dodged, they ran, I pursued. People stood on the sidelines, gasped, drew away, made room for me to fly, wonder what they're thinking. I forgot you, in a way, flying there after them, out to the streets. But I didn't, not as one of them drew a gun and tried to grab a woman to take her hostage. Just then I remembered, and not because of what you've done, not because of what I felt about you, but because I saw my chance. I saw my chance to know.

And I had to know, Jack.

How does it feel?

He drew the gun, reached out to grab the woman by her coat. I pulled out my ten-shooter. It only has one setting, Jack, and that's kill. But I don't use it much, except against robots and doors and weapons. It's there for self-defense, Uncle Max said, because sometimes… 'don't look back, Zot!'

I streaked behind him in hot pursuit just as he was lifting the gun, and I aimed, and did something so abhorrent not even the whole world forgetting will erase.

I did…

'You can't stop it now.'

I left a lot in Jenny's world that night.

I went home, there was nothing else I could do. Nobody will catch me in that world and in my own nobody even knows. I went home and I looked myself in the mirror, and I saw me.

Just plain me.

How does it feel, Jack? Does it feel as good when you do it?

I wish I could say it's easy. I wish I could say I couldn't look myself in the mirror, that I broke down in tears and confessed, that I hated myself for years to come, that my old self died then. I wish I could say some voice inside of me, conscience, morals, reasons, anything, screamed and me and didn't let me sleep at night. I wish I could say any of this, Jack. I wish there was something to hold me at bay, something outside of myself, something solid and real I can trust. Because next time, I don't know if…

I wish there was something like that at all, something to stop me, it.

I wish I could blame you, scream at you. Look what you've made of me.

But you're dead now, Jack.

And I had nothing to do with it, they told me.

I wish I didn't do it, because there's no turning back now. I've crossed the line once and now I'm hanging in the balance, forever. Everything that was so real to keep me from ever doing it before is meaningless now.

I'm strong, they'd tell me, I can do it, I can stop myself. I've never killed anyone before, it doesn't ever have to happen again, but why, really?

I wish I had an easy answer, some answer easier than always fighting, from this day forth, fighting like I didn't know anyone has to.

I guess it's a good thing I've learned.

I wish I could hate you, Jack, it would've made things easier, but easy is just that.

And I'm sorry.



~~End~~