Blue Amps, Crimson Volts
Chapter 10: A New Beginning
"COLE!" Nita shrieked the second she saw him falling towards the water, dragging his identical, red lightning twin in with him. Cole hit first, sinking straight down, the water around him sparking with blue electricity. Massive red sparks were shooting out of the water where his twin had landed. They stopped within seconds. Nita assumed that meant he was dead.
And that meant Cole wasn't too far behind.
Nita rushed to the edge of the wharf just as Cole's head broke the surface. Burns covered his face, and his eyes were glazed and distant.
"COLE!" She screamed.
Cole sunk back under the water. The electrical sparks went out a second later.
"HELP!" Nita cried. "Somebody help!"
Concerned citizens who had seen the battle rushed over. Nita stared at where Cole had disappeared. He wasn't coming back up. She no longer cared for her safety. Nita leapt into the water, searching for Empire City's hero. Her eyes burned from the salt water, but she ignored it. She found him drifting eerily in the dark water, not moving. Nita latched onto him and dragged him to the surface.
"HELP!" She screamed again, sinking further into the water with the weight of Cole.
Several citizens threw a rope down to her. Nita grabbed on to it and the citizens hauled her out of the water. She didn't know where this strength had come from. She was supporting both hers and Cole's weight with one arm. Her arm burned like nothing she had ever felt before, but she was more worried about Cole who wasn't moving at all.
Nita dropped Cole onto the concrete. "COLE! You've got to wake up, Cole! COLE!"
Cole didn't move. His eyes were closed. Everything about him looked peaceful, save for the horrible burns all over his body.
"GET A MEDIC!" Someone screamed. The citizens split into two groups. One half stayed with her and Cole, and the other half charged for the nearby clinic.
Nita pulled off Cole's soaked shirts and dragged him out of the puddle they had left and onto drier ground. "Cole!" She kept crying. "Cole! Wake up! Please! You can't leave this city!"
Somebody threw a towel on Cole. Nita instantly began drying Cole off as best as she could. If he really did short circuit like an ordinary electronic, then she didn't think he could survive the damage. She had lost many electronics to water in her life. She didn't want to lose Cole too. Cole was a person. She could replace her iPod, or her cell phone. But she couldn't replace Cole.
The EMT's arrived at that moment. They pulled her protesting form away from Cole. Away from his body, Nita broke into a panic attack and fainted from the stress she was under. Two medics looked after her while the other two looked after Cole, trying to revive him. The crowd could only watch as the EMT's did everything from chest compressions to even risking screwing up their defibrillator.
In that short span of time, Empire City lost hope.
I was floating. I felt light as a feather. It was like I was flying. There was no gravity, no weight...No nothing really. I was just...floating in limbo.
Where was I?
Trish? My eyes fluttered open. I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life.
Everything was white. A brilliant light was shining down on my face, both familiar and comforting.
In my heart, I felt it was heaven. In my mind, I didn't know what the fuck was going on. One moment I was short circuiting in the bay, and now I was looking at this beautiful light...
Something silhouetted the brilliant light. It was somebody's face. I could tell it was a female. She looked familiar too.
"Trish?" I whispered.
Something happened at that moment. The beautiful world started to fade away. It was as if hands had just grabbed me and were pulling me back to earth. No...I wanted to stay...I liked this place...
Nothing doing. The world went black all over again.
Nita jumped awake. When had she fallen asleep?
She looked at Cole lying pitifully in the hospital bed. He had barely been alive when he arrived here. He had life support systems keeping his heart beating and making him breathe. He was completely brain dead for the first twenty four hours. That broke Nita's heart. He was alive, but he wouldn't be waking up.
But then, something happened.
The machines started detecting brainwaves. Nita was stunned. When she looked at him, she could see his eyelids moving faintly. It was enough. He was alive. She called upon the doctors immediately, and they had this look of unbelievable relief on their face. One of them even started to cry.
A few hours later, they had taken him off his breathing tube. Sure enough, he could breathe on his own. You go, Cole. He was recovering! She had seen him wake up earlier today. His dark eyes were unfocused as he stared up at her. She had whispered his name several times to see how he would respond.
"Trish?" He had whispered.
Nita felt a pang in her heart. He still loved Trish. Then again, he could just think he was in heaven. His eyes closed not too long after that and he fell back into unconsciousness.
The burns on Cole's body had healed slowly. The worst ones were on his chest and down his arms. The doctors even said the energy had solidified the salt on his skin, forcing them to have to give him a delicate sponge bath to remove it. His skin was still dry and bumpy in places, but even those were slowly healing.
Cole was just amazing. There wasn't much else to it.
Nita continued to stay by Cole's side. He had been visited by many citizens giving him handmade cards and trinkets. One woman even came by with fresh flowers once. Nita asked her where she got them, and she said she owned a flower shop, and she grew her own flowers in a greenhouse.
Nita realized this was her breakthrough. She told the woman about her plan to build a vegetable garden for the city. She told her about the Hope Garden, and in that split second, everything fell into place. This woman would help her grow her garden. Her shop was all the way in the Neon, but that meant it was far away from the Blast, and her greenhouse was still intact. Nita had a feeling that her greenhouse would suit her plants better than her makeshift greenhouse and made plans to transport the vegetables to her greenhouse as soon as Cole woke up. The woman even offered to look after the vegetables while she was with Cole.
After she left that day, Cole woke up again. She heard him shift slightly.
Cole's eyes fluttered open again, gazing up at her wearily.
"Trish?" He said again.
Nita didn't want to burst his bubble and tell him that it wasn't his lost love. So she merely smiled down at him.
To her surprise, he lifted his hand and touched her face. Nita held dead still, not wanting to break the spell. He lowered his hand after a moment, his eyes narrowing slightly.
"You're not Trish." He whispered.
Wow. He caught on so fast.
Nita watched his eyes attempt to focus on her. After a second, realization seemed to dawn in his eyes.
"Nita." He whispered.
Her heart soared. He remembered her!
"How?" His eyelids started to flutter closed again.
"You'll be okay, Cole." Nita told him, taking his hand.
But he had already fallen asleep again.
Cole had been in the hospital for a week now. Trinkets and gifts were piling up on his bedside table, and Cole was still recovering slowly but surely.
The woman with the greenhouse was named Emma. She came by that day and seemed very happy with the work Nita had done. She even said she loved her little apple tree. She told Nita about how her tomato plant was growing like a mad thing, forcing her to have to tie it to a stick. The same thing was happening with the beans. Nita couldn't have been more happier with the news.
I woke up again to a very horrible feeling. It felt like something was squeezing my heart, making it beat when it wasn't supposed to. The feeling made it damn hard to breathe, not to mention it made me feel sick.
I put my hand on my chest and felt what I realized were cardiac pacemakers stuck to my chest. Their electricity kept sparking into my chest, making my heart beat for me. And damn, was it ever uncomfortable. Especially since I knew at that moment that my heart wanted to beat on its own now.
Wait a second...
I was alive?
My eyes snapped open, revealing a dark, silent hospital room. Holy shit. I was alive. My wide eyes scanned the room. It was obviously night time now. All of the lights were out, except for the ones that were monitoring my vital signs and various other random things I didn't care about.
But those damn pacemakers...
I lifted my hand to attempt to rid myself of the infernal contraptions, but I was stopped as IV tubes tugged at my hand. Not to mention everything hurt like hell.
A nurse stumbled into the room at that moment, her eyes wide. She gasped at the sight of me and took off. I could hear her calling for a doctor. She seemed to have known I had regained consciousness. I assumed that I was being given major VIP treatment here. I had a room all to myself, and hell. That nurse was probably my own personal nurse. She probably watched my vital signs via computer for every second of my stay.
The nurse ran back in, a doctor in tow. A familiar face followed in behind the doctor. It was Nita.
"How are you feeling, Cole?" The doctor asked.
Hmm...well first of all get this damned pacemaker off my chest before I break it. Next, I'm kind of hungry, I'm tired, and I'm in a lot of pain. Not to mention I don't even know how the hell I'm still alive, because I should've died. In a nutshell?
"Like hell." I stated.
As soon as the doctor checked me out, he removed the pacemakers. I was relieved when he did so, and when my heart rate didn't go haywire, he nodded in satisfaction.
"We were all worried about you, Cole." The doctor stated. "I can't wait to give the news that you're okay."
I looked away from him, staring at the wall. The doctor and nurse left. Nita walked around my bed and sat down in the nearby chair. I looked away from her too, focusing on the ceiling.
I heard a sob.
My head snapped towards Nita to see her face in her hands. Boy she cried a lot.
"I was so worried, Cole!" She sobbed. "I thought you were dead!"
"So did I." I stated.
She continued to cry. I put up with it for about ten seconds.
"Nita, stop crying."
"I can't!" She gasped. "I'm so happy, Cole!"
"Where's the other one?" I asked.
Nita looked up at me. "The other...?"
"The one with the red lightning."
"He's dead." Nita stated. She put her hands in her lap. "After you threw him in, I guess he had so much power he...well..."
"They recovered his body. It was burnt really badly. Worse than you were."
"How do you know I'm the real Cole?" I asked.
"Because I watched you go under. I saw the blue lightning around you before you disappeared. Besides, the other...he got thrown out further."
"How did I get out?"
"I pulled you out."
My eyes widened slightly.
"When the electricity stopped sparking, I jumped in after you."
I sighed and nodded. "Thank you, Nita."
"Cole, I wasn't going to leave you to die."
I shook my head. "Not just for pulling me out. For dumping water on him. I would've died if you hadn't done that. It cut his power level so I could defeat him easier."
Nita nodded. "I didn't really think. I just...did it."
"That was brave of you, Nita."
Nita flushed slightly, bowing her head. "I thought you would be mad at me."
"I can't be mad at someone for saving my life. Twice for that matter."
Nita grinned. "So I've officially repaid my debt, and now you're indebted to me."
"I don't think so. I stopped him from killing you after you dumped the water on him."
"Oh. I guess we're even then."
"Yes we are."
What can I say? I recovered slowly but surely. When I woke up the next morning, I noticed all of the gifts people had given me while I was in the hospital. There was a whole pile of cards which I read one by one. There were even a few children's' drawings of what sort of looked like me but sort of didn't with 'Electric Man' written underneath. There were some letters people had given me, voicing their thanks and encouragement for my swift return to action. There were more 'get well soon' cards than I could count.
Once all of the cards had been dealt with, I took the time to examine the odds and ends people had left me. There were a few carvings that someone had whittled out of wood, one of which was a lightning bolt. I held it in my hand a lot, rotating it this way and that. Someone was good. Really good. I could tell they had spent a lot of time on it.
Aside from all the carvings, also in my collection were coins that had been melted slightly and blackened by what I guessed was the Blast. A lot of random things had been gifted to me including what I guessed was a necklace with letter beads spelling 'COLE' on it.
Then there was that bouquet of flowers. Nita told me it had been a week since they were brought to him, so they were wilted. Even so, I could tell it had once been a beautiful bouquet.
"When she brought the flowers in," Nita began, "I was surprised that she had fresh flowers. She told me she had a greenhouse in the Neon, and she grew them because she used to sell flowers."
I nodded. There was something about the way here eyes were sparkling as she talked about this woman.
"Her name was Emma, and I told her about my Hope Garden." Nita stated. "She wants to help me grow it. She's giving me a spot in her greenhouse, and I told her as soon as you were better, we would move the plants over there."
I nodded slowly. "And you waited for me, why?"
Nita shrugged. "I just...don't want anything to happen to them. So just in case, I wanted you to help as well."
The next day, I pretty much got out of bed. I could move now and it didn't hurt much. The doctor was stunned at my healing abilities, but hey. I was a conduit. But they didn't need to know that.
I was released that day. I had all my gifts packed into my messenger bag as I walked out of the room. I stopped dead in my tracks as the hallway erupted with cheers. Huge lines of people, doctors, nurses, patients, civilians, all of them lined up along the walls outside my door. As I walked, wide-eyed by this development, the applause and cheers continued.
"Way to go, Cole!" Someone called.
"Yeah! You're the best!"
"You're a TANK!" I almost laughed at that one.
The massive lines of people went on and on, and then I walked out the front door. Again, I stopped dead in my tracks. Holy shit. That's all I can say to that. Hundreds, no thousands of people were gathered in front of the hospital. There wasn't an inch of space that wasn't filled by people. They were even hanging out windows and on roofs, waving flags. People sat on their cars, and anything they could just so they could see me step out of the hospital. I could see crude signs depicting slogans from 'COLE MACGRATH is our HERO' to 'HE'S ALIVE!'
Even I had to admit, I was touched by the gesture. I knew these people loved me, but I didn't know they loved me this much. They genuinely cared about me. If they didn't, they wouldn't be gathered outside the hospital like this, cheering for me.
The lines of people who had cheered me through the halls now came outside, lining up along the wall and around the stairs. I stepped further away from the hospital, towards the cheering crowd. I stopped when I realized I was in the middle of a massive circle of adoring people.
Trish, I thought. Are you seeing this? How about you, mom and dad? Do you know what I've become?
Then somebody lifted another person onto his shoulders. The crowd immediately went silent. The person who had been elevated started screaming at the crowd at the top of his lungs.
"Who's the saviour of Empire City?" He screamed.
"MACGRATH! MACGRATH!" The crowd chanted. I swear, it had been rehearsed.
"Who's the man with electric powers?"
"Who's this so called Electric Man?"
"Who's going to help us take back our city?"
"What's his name?"
And with that, the crowd stormed me. They surrounded me in seconds and lifted me high above their heads. I was carried by several people like I had scored the winning touchdown at a football game. The crowd cheered and followed the people who were carrying me. Some people lifted others onto their shoulders to they could high-five me. It was a massive parade through the streets of Empire City. I too got caught up in the euphoria. I forgot about everything that had happened since the Blast. I forgot about Trish, I forgot about Kessler. I forgot about The Beast, and hell, I even forgot all about Zeke and the Ray Sphere. That's why when I happened to meet him in the crowd, I couldn't find a way to be angry at him as he told me how sorry he was to my face. Instead I just told him to enjoy the party, because we would talk about it later.
And boy did we.
I finally snuck away from the celebration late at night. Zeke was waiting for me on the roof as always.
"Zeke, you know I can't forgive you for what you did." I told him.
Zeke sighed and bowed his head. "I know. I feel so bad for it, man. I mean..."
"Why did you want powers like mine?"
"Everybody loves you, Cole!" Zeke cried. "You're the big hero!"
"It's not easy being the hero, Zeke."
Zeke sighed. "I know it's not. But when you got your powers, it was like we weren't brothers anymore, you know?"
I frowned. "What do you mean?"
"We've always been equal." Zeke stated. "So when you got your powers, it was like you got a one up on me. I felt inferior to you."
"That's no excuse for what you did, Zeke." I crossed my arms. "I saw what you tried to do. You tried to detonate the Ray Sphere up on that tower. You made the choice to kill thousands for your own selfish desire to be equal to me. Not to mention you ran off with Kessler who killed Trish."
Zeke hung his head.
"I can never forgive you for that, Zeke." I stated. "Because of that, I'm not your brother anymore." I turned and leapt off the building. Now that that was over with, I had to pay Nita a visit.
"Thanks for helping me out, Cole." Nita sighed, sitting down onto her couch.
I sat down beside her. "Hey, just trying to help the city." We had just finished transporting Nita's Hope Garden to Emma's greenhouse. When we arrived there the first time, I recognized Emma as the woman who had given me the flowers for Trish's grave.
"Have you started on your book yet?" I asked.
Nita sighed. "Yeah. Sort of. I just can't get any blank paper anywhere, so it's difficult."
Nita hesitated. "After...After Empire City is back to normal and the quarantine is taken down...What are you going to do?"
I stared at my thumbs for a few seconds. When everything was back to normal, would I still be Empire City's big hero? Hell, would the government even let me run free with these electrical powers?
"I don't know, Nita." I stated. I watched my electricity spark between my fingertips. When I found out I had survived my bath in salt water, one thought had gone through my mind several times. What if I literally had short circuited? What if my powers never worked again? I had to admit, thinking about that really haunted me. I was afraid of losing my powers. I was afraid of becoming a mere human being again. Yet at the same time, my powers had come as a curse. They had come with the detonation of the Ray Sphere, and the deaths of thousands of lives. Regardless, over time, I had gotten used to having them. I even grew to like them. All the things I could do; it was just...amazing. So when those thoughts of losing all of that entered my mind, I was scared to death.
When I found out I still had them, it was both a relief and a bit of concern. Relief because...well...I still had my powers. I was worried because at that moment I knew there was no getting rid of these powers. I would have them for the rest of my life. Blessing? Yeah, for Empire City it certainly was. But what about me? After Empire City was restored to its former glory, what the hell would happen to me?
Nita's question had raised more fears. I was scared for my future. I didn't know what was going to happen to me, and that feeling was frightening.
I didn't respond.
Nita put her hand on my shoulder. She held it there for a second, then she wrapped her arms around me again, pulling me close. My mind wasn't a spin cycle of thoughts that time. Only the thoughts of my uncertain future occupied my mind.
"Let's not think about the future right now." Nita said softly. "After all, the city still needs you now, right?"
I pulled myself from her grasp. She let me go almost immediately which I was grateful for. She seemed to be picking up on my dislike for random, uncalled for hugs.
"Where are you going?" She asked.
I stopped and looked up at the ceiling for a moment. "I'm going..." How epic should I make this? I didn't know what to say. I wanted to say 'I'm going to help the city' but it sounded so damn lame.
I sighed. "You're right. The city does need me. That's why I'm going to help out with anything I can. Keep working on that garden, Nita."
Nita smiled. "I will!"
Nita always seemed to know just what to say. This time, it was no different. As I stepped back out onto the streets of the Historic District, I knew that at this point in time I shouldn't be worrying about the future. I should be worrying about now. And right now, Empire City needed its hero.