SwanFP t1_jeb9xi6 wrote

“Not one more step! Another step and the floor is lava! Can’t walk on lava can you?” Mr Matter screamed at us through a purple mist.

Some of us can, I thought. But we better not broach that subject in his current state.

I’m The Intervener.

It’s not a good name. I know that. The name doesn’t matter. Only the process. I know the process because I’ve been there and spent my life learning it. Now I needed to make Mr Matter learn it, too.

Moonlight made its way through the broken windows lining the walls. I raised my hands, showing that we would yield. “Matter, we’re not here to hurt you. I’m sorry if it seems that way.”

“It seems like you want me dead. Seems like you all hate me!”

The others around me looked nervously at one another. Crystal Ball spoke up, “Mr. Matter, we don’t hate you. Not at all.” She stepped forward, “if you could see what I see, you could reflect on all the good you’ve done.”

“The good? I don’t do any good.” The mist fell around him, growing thicker. “I’ve hurt people! I’ve just hurt all of you.” Purple haze turned into a green smoke, covering the concrete floor of an abandoned steel mill.

I needed him to see that this wasn’t his fault. “Matter, you didn’t create the storm in Austin. In fact, you’re the one who helped rebuild after Tidal Wave disappeared.”

“But I could have stopped him years ago! Their blood is on my hands!” Matter screamed, tears in his eyes.

The old equipment started to come to life. A blast furnace cried from within. Where iron and oxygen would once mix, a fungus rapidly grew, with screams coming from their caps.

This was going to get out of hand if he didn’t come down. “Dimitri, listen to me.” We didn’t need alter egos here. This was a place where the ego should have been left at the door. “You are not responsible for the pain caused by someone else. You can’t control everyone. Even if you can control the very atoms we are made of, you do not have control.”

“I.. I know that. But I need to.”

“But you can’t. Especially not like this. Dimitri, look around you.” I motioned to a furnace behind him. A hot, bubbling mess released noxious fumes into the air. This wasn’t metallurgy, it was decay. “If you can’t stop that,” I pointed to the source of the stench, “can you at least let us help?”

Mr. Matter, no, it’s Dimitri right now, looked to the furnace. Feeling ashamed, he lowered his panicked gaze. “Okay, I- you can help.”

“Will," I asked, "can you calm that down?” Will, better known to the rest of the world as The Voice, spoke like an aural massage.

The smooth baritone of his Texan drawl called through the noise of this once deserted factory “Why don’t you calm down with the bubbling?” He didn’t speak to Dimitri, but to the roiling metal in that great cauldron. No sooner did he end his question, did the bubbling calm.

We stood in silence for a few moments. Dimitri’s anger had stopped but his confusion and tears were still coming. “Why did you come here?” He asked the three of us.

He needed honesty. “It’s two-fold. One, because we were asked to by The Committee, but-” he cut me off.

“So I’m just another civilian to save?!” His insecurity in the moment paved a way for his anger to come back.

“No, Dimitri.” I kept calm. If I matched his tone, he wouldn’t see what he needed to see. “One, because we were asked to. Two, because we care about you.Even with all of this… all of the lashing out, we still deeply care about you.” The emphasis was my own. I didn’t know how Crystal and Will felt about him, but this was the man who I had known for 10 years. 5 years as a team in SeaTac and 5 years keeping in touch through mutual friends and the occasional meet-and-greet with the press.

I continued, “We care about you. But we also need you to care. And take better care of yourself. This wasn’t the first time you lashed out, D. I don’t know what you expect to find by trying every manner of escape but there is no running from the demons that are following you. You can only confront them. But you don’t have to confront them alone. You can talk to us. You can talk to me.” I paused, holding back tears that started to form. “Think about what we went through in Tacoma. I would not be here today if not for you. So, will you let me be there for you? When you need it?”

“I… I don’t know. You don’t understand, Josef. It’s not just me. It’s not just the lives lost. It’s the whole damned system. What part do I play in all of this? How can I live with myself if I stand by and do nothing about it? Do I just stay quiet? Do I ignore the thoughts that are pressing in my head, calling me to change everything?” His anger was gone now. This was bargaining.

“No, D. You don’t ignore it. But you can choose how you react. You can choose when to react. There is a time and place for the right action.” Will shot a skeptical look towards me, but I ignored it. “Everything that happens to you isn’t a choice. But how you react, that’s up to you.”

His eyes darted between Will and Crystal, then back to me. Calmly, “You’re right. It is up to me.”

Crystal’s hands shot forward as she spoke “Josef, something is wrong.” Her hands began to glow with a bright white light.

“Crystal, NO!” I screamed as a bright white light was reduced to a harmless blue glow. Her hands, now an icy blue, were frozen in the air as the rest of her body began to melt away from the glowing heat of the fire behind her.

Before Will could run to her, his feet sank into a floor made of tar. The air from around him had vanished. He existed in a shell of a vacuum, unable to make a whisper, nevermind the scream I could see him trying to release.

“Dimitri, please do not do this. We have to be better than this.”

“Josef, if you could see what I see then you would know. I don’t need an intervention. You do.” The fire from the puddle that was once Crystal Ball turned her to steam as it met with the tar, climbing up The Voice’s legs and into his airless mouth.

With a wave of his hand, the air between us shimmered and moved towards me. I braced myself for the end.

I remembered watching soft rains while sitting on the top of the Space Needle.

I remembered Dimitri and I, in our early twenties, bringing down what felt like a criminal empire.

I remembered Violet and our final days together…

The shimmering air hit me and moved around me. I closed my eyes.

Silence. Peace. Finally.

I opened my eyes and found myself standing on wet rock, soft tides coming in and out. The noise here was nothing compared to the busy sounds of machinery, humming with unnatural life back east.

I had never been here at night, but I still recognized this place. Point Defiance. And unless this was my own personal heaven, Dimitri transported me back to Washington.

I looked around for Crystal, Will, and Dimitri but it was just me and the moonlight. I knew the way out of the park, but didn’t move.

I failed my friend and I had to think of a way to make it right.