End Credits from Infinity War
What did this mean? My mind raced with possibilities. What had I done? How long had I been out? I checked my phone and my heart sank when I saw that it was 10:37 a.m. I’d been asleep for over 16 hours. How was that even possible?
I looked at the tattoo again and my chest pounded with anxiety. What had happened to Four? I swung off the bed and rushed to her room, not even knocking before I barged inside. But just like yesterday, she was nowhere in sight. Her jackets were still in the same spot on her bed where I’d left them.
Where was she?
I walked back into the living room and there was a ding on my phone. When I pulled it out, I saw that someone had just messaged me a series of videos. Without even clicking on any of them, the first one started playing and my pulse accelerated with each second I watched it. It was an aerial view of a path on Hook Mountain and Seven was lying on his back with the Man in the Hood standing over him and shooting him. I put my hand over my mouth and the next video showed the Man in the Hood shooting Five further down that same path. The next video was of Eight getting shot in her apartment. And the last one was of Two getting shot at the bottom of a stairwell.
This couldn’t be happening.
There was another ping and I got a text: You’ve been looking for me. Come to your office and you’ll find me.
The sender had no name. Just seven 0’s.
It was him. How had he gotten my number? And how had he gotten to all of the other agents while I’d been asleep?
I didn’t have time to figure it out. This maniac was targeting all my friends and now he was in my office. I had to end this.
I ran back to my room, pulled on my boots, then grabbed my two extra Glocks just in case. My eyes caught my Dad’s little black box on my dresser and I paused for a heartbeat.
You definitely don’t deserve that now.
She was right. I strapped the extra Glocks on my thighs then rushed out the apartment. I was on the train heading to the office five minutes later running through every possible scenario in my head on the way there. Did he have Four hostage in my office? She was the only one without a video. Was that why? Was this a trap? What if she was somewhere else and I was wasting time by going where he wanted me to go?
I caught some strange looks from the other people on the train then remembered that I’d been sleeping for 16 hours and hadn’t even checked myself before going out. I pulled my pocket mirror from its tiny pouch on my belt and examined my face. I rubbed the crust out of my eyes then rolled some chapstick on my lips.
You should’ve set your alarm earlier.
I shut the mirror and shoved it back in its pouch. I should’ve done a lot of things. And now all my friends were in danger because of me. I was the one trying to figure this maniac out so that the rest of us would be safe. And yet I was the one who overslept and put all of us in danger. If I’d just been able to suck it up and pull through without needing a stupid nap, none of this would’ve happened.
I finally made it to my office and approached the door, aiming my Glock in front of me as I did. I stopped a foot away, took a deep breath, then barged in, ready to shoot the room up with feelings looking for him. But I didn’t need to. He was standing directly in front of me, staring out the window with his back to me.
“Turn around with your hands in the air!” I barked.
He didn’t move and kept his hands in his pockets as I gave the room a visual sweep. Nothing seemed out of order. The books were still lined up on the shelves on the right, the picture frames were still in order on the wall on the left, but the computer monitors were on. I couldn’t quite catch the clip that was playing on them.
“Where’s Four?” I demanded as I took a few steps forward.
“I should be asking you that,” he said as he turned. His voice was digital and reminded me of Kylo Ren’s voice when he was wearing his mask. He was draped in black from head to toe: a black hood covered his head, a black mask covered his mouth and nose, and his upper body was lost in a baggy black cloak that cascaded over black combat boots.
“Hands in the air,” I repeated.
“It’s been so long since I’ve seen you,” he replied. “I’ve been dying to see you in action.”
I paused for a millisecond over his words, but forced myself to focus just in time to catch him reaching inside his cloak. I dove to the side just as a feeling shot into the wall behind me. I landed with a roll then sprang onto one knee and opened fire. I shattered the window in seven different places with my feelings, but none of them hit him. He moved like a ghost and dodged every one that came then shot two shots at me. Both hit me in my arm and I ducked behind my desk as I felt the rejections leak into my blood.
“I know you’re beating yourself up for what happened,” I heard him say. “I thought you of all people would’ve fought it off.” Then he added this line for good measure. “You should’ve resisted.”
I shut my eyes and glanced down at my arm where that tattoo was from two nights ago. He knew. He knew what I’d done. But I didn’t. He had the upper hand, but I couldn’t let him get in my head.
I grimaced, took a deep breath, then swiveled out from behind the desk and fired several shots straight at his face. But somehow he ducked and swayed with each shot and I watched in awe as the feelings blasted through the windows behind him.
“Geez louise,” he said, glancing back at the glass. “Are you trying to miss?”
How was he moving so fast? Why couldn’t I hit him? I kept my Glock aimed at him and glanced at his gun, hanging loosely in his hand at his side. He stepped to the right casually as he eyed me up and down and I stepped in the opposite direction so we were circling each other like two lions ready to pounce.
“I’m sure you’re dying to figure out what you did,” he taunted me. “I’m dying to see your face when you do.”
I just stared back, not willing to give him the satisfaction of a reaction. We continued to circle until the door was on my left and on his right. Then I fired a shot at the doorknob and the feeling ricocheted off it and knocked his gun out of his hand and to the floor. In the second it took his gun to clatter, I crossed the distance between us and had my barrel inches from his forehead.
“Good shot,” he chuckled without even flinching.
“Take off the mask!” I shouted.
I saw the snicker in his eyes as he lifted his hands to his head and pulled his hood back, letting a flow of silky black hair fall onto his shoulders. Then he removed the mask and I was staring at the familiar face of an adult Asian woman.
My hands trembled when I locked eyes with her and I felt the room fade to gray as confusion poured into my head.
She grinned as she put her hand on her hip. “I would say it’s good to see you, but quite frankly, I’m disappointed in you.”
All the confusion drained out of me as the anger flushed back in and I jammed my gun into her forehead.
“I don’t care! I don’t need your approval.”
“I think you do,” she smirked.
“I’m everything you want to be.”
“You’re everything I don’t want to be,” I spat back.
“Is that so?” she tilted her head to the side, utterly unfazed by the fact that I was two words away from blasting her in the head. “Did you see how easily I took down all those agents? Tell me, how many times a day do you train? How many back-up guns do you have? How much surveillance footage do you study? And yet you couldn’t find me–because you’re not smart enough. You couldn’t hit me–because you’re not good enough. And you can’t beat me–because you’re not strong enough.”
I stared at her, but the anger was dissolving. She was wrong. None of those things were true. I didn’t want to be her and I was nothing like her. She was everything I didn’t want to be. And I was enough. I was. I had to be.
Then why can’t you beat her? my reflection whispered through the mirror on the wall.
“Why do you hate me so much?” my mother asked me.
“Because you left,” I replied, my anger slowly rising back as I remembered. “You left when me and Dad needed you most. When I needed you most. Do you know what it’s like growing up without a mom and not knowing why she just got up and abandoned you? Why?! You never called. You never wrote any letters. Why? Why did you leave?! And then you have the nerve to come back in my life and attack my friends and tell me that I wanna be like you?! I’m nothing like you and I will never be anything like you! I’m better than you!”
She stared back with a blank face, almost like she was really expecting me to answer. Then she moved her eyes to the desk on my right. “You should check the screen. I think your favorite show is on.”
What was she talking about? I kept my gun trained on her and didn’t move. But neither did she. What was on the screen? I slowly stepped back, but didn’t move my gun. When I was in line with the screen, I glanced over at it and saw surveillance footage of Four’s room. My heart shriveled up in my chest and I almost dropped my gun. The time stamp said 4:36 p.m. Yesterday. Four was sitting on her bed, hugging her knees to her chest and crying. My chest tightened as the Man in the Hood suddenly appeared at the doorway and approached her.
“No,” I whispered.
The Man in the Hood held a gun out to Four and she took it without hesitation. Then, without any other exchange, Four disappeared through a secret door in her wall I never knew she had and was gone.
“Where did she go?” I asked, fully facing the screen now. “Where did she go? What did she do? What did you do?” I spun back to my mother and she just smirked at me again.
“Me?” she touched her chest, feigning innocence. “Little ol’ me?”
I looked back at the screen and the Man in the Hood reached up and pulled off the hood and the mask. My jaw dropped when instead of silky black hair black braids came tumbling out and I was staring straight at my face through the camera. It felt like a knife was being plunged into my chest as I locked eyes with myself.
“You should’ve protected her,” my mother said, driving the knife deeper. “But instead, you pushed her back into her pain.”
The room muted to gray again as another flood of confusion drowned my thoughts, but this time it was joined by a sea of guilt. What had I done? What did I make her do? What was wrong with me?
“You’re a vigilante by day and a villain by night,” my mother went on. “Like mother like daughter.”
“But…how?” I stuttered, watching myself leave Four’s room.
“What was that drink you always order? Iced caramel macchiato, three pumps of espresso, and one pump of Ambien? All it took was some tweaking in Mamma’s lab and that little drug turned you into a sleepwalking, sleeptalking, sleepkilling machine.”
I watched in horror as the screen switched and I was standing over Two’s body, mask and hood off. Then it flickered again and I was standing over Eight. It flickered again and I was standing over Three.
“The world needs better heroes,” I heard my mother say. “And I’m gonna give them to it.”
I lowered my head and felt my chest deflating. How could I have let this happen?
“But I couldn’t have done it without you,” my mother went on, her voice sounding closer. “After all, I can’t be in two places at once.”
This whole time I was looking for an assassin and it had been me. The weight of it all came crashing down and I dropped my gun to the floor. She had drugged me. But I hadn’t resisted. Because she was right. I was just like her.
The next thing I knew, my mother was sweeping me off my feet and pinning me to the ground with her boot in my neck. She held her gun over my head and released the magazine inside so it dropped inches from my ear. Then I watched her pull a new magazine from her cloak with one word etched across it in red: CORRUPTION.
She loaded it into her gun then knelt with her knee on my chest and pressed the barrel into my forehead.
“You will never be as good as you want to be,” she whispered to me. “Because you are as bad as you think you are.”
Original artwork by Alyssa Pfingst