Great Oaks Correctional Facility

Once a month prisoners were allowed visitors. Because of the nature of the prison, unsupervised encounters were allowed in the common area. Dr. Macabre sat alone at a picnic table under a shade tree. His face was a little thinner, but he smiled as he watched the cloaked figure walk towards him.

"I was wondering when you'd stop," he chuckled. It degenerated into a cough, but he quickly covered his mouth with a handkerchief.

The figure stopped across from him and waited until he regained his breath. Macabre looked up at the figure again.

"I've dreamed of this for many years, but I have to admit I had my doubts I would ever see it," Macabre said. "I never thought you'd be the one."

"Times change," the figure replied and then sat down.

"I never realized you hated him this much," Macabre said.

"I loved him," the cloaked figure said after a moments pause.

"Then why?"

The cloaked figure sat there for several moments, as if thinking on Macabre's question. Pushing back the hood, the figure reveals her face for the first time. It was Katie Conn.

"You wouldn't understand, Macabre," Katie wearily said. Her eyes seemed to be looking off into the distance.

"Tell me anyway. One other person in the world should know why David Merryweather's partner and closest ally would bring about his end," Macabre replied. Katie seemed to think about this for a moment and then reluctantly gave in.

"Yes, perhaps you're right, someone else should know. I did it because David Merryweather is a hero. He saved countless lives and stood up to tyranny again and again. He fought Hitler and countless others. He stopped you from spreading your brand of hate and that was his finest hour. The world is in his debt and should be singing his praises. That's what a hero is, Macabre, someone greater than ordinary men, who accomplishes great things. David was that sort of man, a hero. Can you understand that, Macabre," Katie asked.

"I hated David Merryweather, Katie, but I never denied his courage. I always considered him a worthy adversary."

"Then maybe you'll understand that David Merryweather should have died as he saved the world from you that last time. That's the way hero's die. There should have been monuments built for him, statues erected of him. His funeral should have drawn dignitaries from all over and great speeches should have been made about him. His name should have gone down in the history books with the other heroes. That didn't happen. There was no hero's death for him. In a cruel twist of fate, his great heart didn't know when to quit. Your death hand took its toll and he would never be Cat-Man again."

Katie was interrupted by a spat of coughing from Macabre thated last for several minutes. Finally Macabre was able to get his cough under control. His body shuddered as he gasped for air. Katie sat there watching him.

"But why…why you, Katie? Why now after all these years?" Macabre managed to ask.

"Because of those years, Macabre. Instead of a grand funeral or an outpouring of gratitude, he slipped away, piece by piece. Can you imagine what it was like to watch your friend, a man you loved, reduced a shadow of his former self? Then as if to twist the knife even deeper, his young bride uses him to realize her tawdry dreams of fame. I saw him in the last years being paraded out in front of the crowds that had no conception of what a great man he was. Strapped into a mechanical harness by his loving bride and her doctor after the stroke to be a sideshow freak. His mind was failing, half the time he didn't even know where he was. What sort of life is that, Macabre?"

"A nightmare," Macabre replied sadly.

"I went to see him a month before that night. I begged him, pleaded with him, but he hardly recognized me. It was useless."

"But why kill him," Macabre asked.

"I loved David Merryweather more than anyone in my life. How could I just stand by and watch him like that? With modern medical science how long could they keep him alive? Five years? Ten years? Twenty? The name David Merryweather would fade from memory. He becomes just a footnote in history, a joke to those leering hordes instead of the hero he was. No, I couldn't let that happen." Katie said, shaking her head at the thought. Macabre nodded his head in agreement and waited for Katie to continue. Macabre could tell that now Katie had started she wanted to tell everything.

"I thought the law suit would put an end to it, but I realized his bride's lawyers would find away around it eventually."

"So all that talk about protecting your reputation?"

"Don't be stupid, Macabre, I couldn't care if the young Mrs. Merryweather did the dance of the seven veils as Kitten. Let her have her moment of fame, but the exploitation of David was too much."

"You've left me in a unique situation, you realize," Macabre asked. An evil grin came over his face. "I could tell the truth and implicate you in all of it."

"But you won't, Macabre," Katie replied.

"You don't think so? What's to stop me?"

"Do you know why David was always able to stop you, Macabre? No? It's because you're not as smart as you think you are. You have nothing on me. First, who would believe you? There's no evidence that links me. Second and more important, you're somebody again. A year ago you were a forgotten has-been, a failure, now you're the man the killed a hero. I don't think you're willing to give that up."

"You're bluffing," Macabre growled.

"Than call it, Macabre," Katie replied. "You won't, because you'll have to tell what really happened. How you still couldn't beat a man that was half paralyzed from a stroke with diminished mental capacities. How he still managed to fight you off and how I finally had to help you push him over the ledge. A failure to the end, Macabre, is that how you want to be remembered? The humiliation is something you won't risk."

Dr. Macabre stared at her, a murderous look in his eye, but he knew she was right. He wouldn't risk losing what he'd finally won.

"So what now," he finally asked.

"The hero ending to David Merryweather's life. He died saving the life of another. He finally gets all those honors he richly deserves. His name and legend won't just be a footnote in history. He'll enter Valhalla with the other heroes and legends of old."

"And Mrs. Merryweather," Macabre asked.

"Let her have her moment in the spotlight. It is all she ever wanted any way. She'll try and cling to it as long as she can. I'm sure Jungle Lil can tell you more about that life than I can.

"What about you, Miss Conn? What's going to become of Cat-Man's original partner, Kitten?"

" I'm not the hero David was or someone that wants the spotlight. I'll go back to my life and continue to try to make a difference there," Katie said sadly. Macabre smiled now, as if he knew something Katie did.

"You realize, Katie, that now that you have removed David Merryweather forever, I'm free to reclaim my rightful place as the master villain! Dr. Macabre already has the respect of the new generation. It's only a matter of time before I escape this place and start again!"

Macabre was cut off by another coughing jag. Katie waited patiently for it to subside. Finally as Macabre labored to catch his breath, Katie spoke.

"You may try to regain you passed glory, Macabre, but I doubt it will happen. The world has changed and new heroes have emerged. It would be a long drawn out struggle for you to regain what you lost and you don't have the time."

"What are you talking about? With Cat-Man out of the picture, I have all the time in the world!" Macabre said defiantly.

"No, Macabre, you don't. How do you think I found you after all this time? You went to the hospital over a year ago about your cough. Instead of stealing codeine cough syrup, you should have stayed and found out what was wrong. You're dying, Macabre. All those years you lusted for power, looking for the upper hand have come back to haunt you. All those experiments with isotopes to give yourself your death hand came with a price. From the charts I saw, your body is riddled with cancer by now. You might not want to admit it but I think you know. Your cough is just the first sign, but it will get much worse and fast. You don't have that long to live, so I doubt you'll be a threat to anyone. Enjoy what time you have left. You will not be missed. Good-bye, Macabre."

Katie put her hood back up and walked away. The last sound her heard before exiting was Macabre's hacking cough.