by Hitman 44077, partially adapted from Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez
The assembled heroes within Titans Tower stood in silence as the Anti-Monitor spoke. Indeed, his voice was heard all over the new Earth. The unnatural lighning continued to flash across the sky, and the swirling energies expanded all over the new Earth.
“Since my birth, ten billion years ago, I have not known defeat. A thousand universes before yours perished without resistance. But you refused to die. I was to enlarge my antimatter universe, to have it replace all other universes… a thousand meaningless victories because you resisted my efforts to destroy you. One universe… protected by one small and terribly insignificant little world.
“A token force of humans succeeds where untold powers had failed. I offer you my congratulations. I acknowledge your persistence. Your will to live is astonishing. But it ultimately changes nothing. Your world must die. As your Supergirl died. As your Flash died. As so many others who tried to stop me died. And with its death there will be none who can prevent my universe from replacing your own.”
The Anti-Monitor’s words shook the heroes, but only one spoke. “The Flash… he is dead?” Kid Flash said as the Anti-Monitor’s claim continued to ring in his ears. “You murdered the Flash?! How? Where is he?”
The Anti-Monitor continued his speech. “My warriors stain your world with blood! They are everywhere, and they cannot be stopped! Hear the death knell, humans. It is the last sound you shall ever hear!” And the sky solidified in darkness.
“Then… then it’s true,” Batman said sadly. “He did die.”
Kid Flash heard Batman’s words and ran to him. “What do you mean by that?” he asked Batman in anger.
Batman addressed the young speedster slowly. “In… in the opening days of this Crisis, I had an encounter with the Joker. He had me trapped and was prepared to kill me. Before he could, the Joker and I saw a decaying man in a Flash costume warning about the future and the end of the world. I freed myself and the Joker escaped, but it was as if he didn’t see me. He made references to his deceased wife and your aunt Iris, which told me this image was indeed the Flash. He vanished before I could learn anything more from him.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Time and Time Again,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #2 (May, 1985).]
“Why… why didn’t you tell me?” Kid Flash asked in anguish. “You knew I was teammates with Nightwing. If I’d been told, I’d have come back immediately!”
Batman looked at Kid Flash, and seeing the pain in his eyes reminded him of the death of his own parents all those many years ago. “I saw his image again in New York as the Teen Titans teamed up with the Outsiders. He looked normal this time. But he faded away before we could do anything to help him,” the Dark Knight said to the speedster. (*) He placed his hand on the young man’s shoulder and spoke softly. “I’d hoped I was wrong. And now… I’m sorry, Wally. I’m so sorry. I should have reached you sooner, but I didn’t want to worry you in case I was wrong.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Oblivion Upon Us,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #3 (June, 1985).]
Harbinger interrupted. “This will be the last hero the Anti-Monitor murders. It is time to act.” She split her body into several bodies, sending them to collect the heroes who weren’t already at Titans Tower. One body remained at the Tower and picked from the heroes available. Kid Flash watched as Harbinger chose her team to combat the Anti-Monitor. They were accompanied by Lady Quark, Pariah, and Alex Luthor.
“You are the most powerful here, and your powers will decide the final battle,” Harbinger said to those assembled. “Our forces will meet at a region of the country where the Spectre remains comatose. Those who haven’t been chosen to combat the Anti-Monitor must protect the Earth. If we somehow fail, it will be up to you to stop him. The people of this world need heroes — now, more than ever.” As Harbinger finished, she vanished with her chosen champions.
The heroes went to work, splitting themselves into teams to defend the many cities not only all over the United States but the entire world. Everyone left the Tower toward their chosen cities, but one hero remained in the Tower.
Kid Flash stood there numb, trying to fight the tears welling in his eyes. No… this can’t be happening! he thought. Barry and I faced dozens of foes over the years, and never did anything like this happen! This… no, this shouldn’t have been his fate. Oh, God! He deserved better… he deserved a hell of a lot better, after all he went through. Iris dying, the trial, and the knowledge that he accidentally took someone’s life. I… I can’t do this. Not anymore. He’s dead… and I’ll be so glad when this disease takes my life. I have no desire to live anymore.
Tears in his eyes, Kid Flash sped out of Titans Tower and headed home for Blue Valley. The darkness shattered across the sky, but Kid Flash didn’t even notice. The revelation of Barry’s death still haunted him as he entered Blue Valley. I’m done. There’s nothing more I can do, he thought, the sadness overwhelming him.
One woman’s scream changed all that. “Mom?!” Kid Flash said. He ran all over Blue Valley, finally locating both his mother and father, who were cornered by shadow demons. “Leave them alone!” he screamed in anger.
“Wally?! Oh, Lord, get away, Wally! Please, get away!” his mother shouted.
The shadow demons turned and went after Kid Flash, who sped off into the middle of the town, while his parents escaped and ran to their home. He soon found himself surrounded by shadow demons, but he had a plan. If I can use my super-speed properly, I might be able to shatter these things, he thought.
Running through an opening, Kid Flash found himself in a position to attack the shadow demons. Straightening his arms and holding his fingers open, Kid Flash sped his arms faster and faster in a small, circular motion, until all shadow demons were trapped within the vibrations. He then spread his arms in opposite directions, his fingers creating such a tearing force that it shredded the shadow demons where they stood. I… I did it! Now I have something to do… something I should have done a long time ago, he thought, and ran toward his parents’ home.
Opening the door and walking inside the house, he found his parents safe, as well as Frances Kane. Wally’s mother ran to him and hugged him. “Wally! Thank God you’re safe!” she said.
Wally’s father walked over and gave Wally a warm hug as well. “I’m glad you’re safe, too, son. You really saved us back there,” said Robert West.
Kid Flash’s actions started him thinking about everything that had happened to him up to this point. He spoke to his parents. “I need to say something to you. I came back home because I felt I had no more to give. Saving you and seeing that you’re safe has given me some hope for this world. But, within just a few minutes, I’ve had time to examine myself — the mistakes I’ve made in the past, my insecurities. I’d continuously choose to be alone rather than accept the help of my friends, and then I’d find myself angry at them. Since I graduated high school, I’ve felt a sense of trying to do what’s right for Wally West and just put Kid Flash to rest. What’s happened, however, is that I ran away from my problems rather than faced them. I didn’t even tell you guys about the Trigon situation a few months back because of the fears I had to deal with.”
A look of understanding appeared on Robert West’s face. “We never knew. I’m sorry, Wally,” he said consolingly.
“That leads me to what I need to say,” Kid Flash continued. “The only way to move forward is to face the past — to grow up and accept your responsibilities. I have something to tell the two of you. I originally thought I was losing my super-speed, but I began to suffer pains anytime I used my powers. I had some tests done. Whatever I have, it’s killing me.”
A look of horror flashed across Wally’s parents’ faces. “Oh, my God, no!” Mary West screamed, as her concern for her son led to tears. “Oh, God, Wally, we can’t lose you! You’re our son! Our only child!”
“Why didn’t you tell us sooner?” Robert West asked, trying to hide the fears now possessing him. “We would have tried to help you!”
“I should have told you and the Titans sooner. My friends and family deserved to know. I think I couldn’t face my problems, because I tried to always be strong. But all it did was make me sick… and more scared. I’m tired of being scared. They say the truth frees you, and I feel good about it. I can’t put Kid Flash to rest anymore, because I’m both. I have personal responsibilities as Wally West and the responsibilities of a hero as Kid Flash. And now, with Barry dead, I need to do this for him. And, if I just sit back and not do anything, I’ll be betraying everything I learned from him. Whatever time I have left, I’m going to make the best of, and that means doing what I can to make a difference. I’ve got to go.” Kid Flash slowly began to walk toward the door.
“No, Wally! Robert, stop him! We can’t let him do this,” Mary shouted, her concern for Wally evident.
“We can’t stop him, Mary. God knows I love him, but he’s not a boy anymore. He’s a man… and a hero. You have our support, Wally. Just be safe,” Robert said, hugging his wife as she cried in his arms.
“Fran?” Kid Flash asked.
“Wally… you know whatever you do, I’ll support you. I love you. Just come back. Please,” Fran said as tears began to flow. Kid Flash hugged her and kissed her.
“I will be back. I promise, Fran. I love you,” he said and sped off.
Kid Flash traveled west, not knowing where to go, only knowing that the heroes must be preparing for an attack on the Anti-Monitor himself. He stopped by Death Valley, where the heroes had launched their last assault on the Anti-Monitor at the dawn of time, but the place was utterly empty. Then he recalled something that Barry had told him about a portal to Qward that existed in the rocky, mountainous area outside Coast City. As he knew, Green Lantern had used that portal several times to travel to the antimatter universe to battle the evil Weaponers of Qward. Could they be using the same location to launch their assault?
As he raced through California on his way to Coast City, he noticed a bluish light far away, reaching into the sky, which became larger as he neared the mountains outside Coast City. The heroes — it’s got to be them. They’re going to fight the Anti-Monitor, he thought. I don’t know what I can do, but I have to join them. I need to!
Running faster and faster toward the blue portal, Kid Flash’s tears burned away as he ran. If I don’t do this for Barry, I’ll never be able to live with myself for the rest of the time I have left. Faster and faster yet, Kid Flash ran, finally reaching and entering the blue portal.
I did it! I’ve got to compose myself and do whatever I can to help them. Barry always said there was hope. I need to keep the hope alive, even in this darkest hour, Kid Flash thought as he was transported to Qward.
Harbinger’s group of heroes, consisting of both Earth-One’s and Earth-Two’s Supermen and Wonder Women, the Superboy of Earth-Prime, Alex Luthor, Lady Quark, Pariah, Captain Marvel, Martian Manhunter, Captain Atom, Firestorm, Firehawk, Jade, Power Girl, Fury, Negative Woman, the new Doctor Light, and the Ray, found themselves on the antimatter world of Qward, thanks to Alex Luthor’s efforts. Unknown to them, they had one more hero on their side.
“We’ve made it this far. Now what?” asked Earth-Two’s Superman.
“That’s up to Pariah,” Earth-Two’s Wonder Woman replied. “He has the power to focus on evil and bring us to its source.”
“Then let’s get on with it,” said Earth-One’s Superman.
Pariah paused, unsure of what to do next. “I — I can’t. I sense evil all around us. There’s no single point to concentrate on.”
The man’s words didn’t please Earth-One’s Superman, still remembering how the Anti-Monitor had killed his cousin Kara Zor-El in front of his eyes. “I’m not going to sit around here and wait. I want to find the Anti-Monitor — now!” he said angrily.
“So do I, Superman,” a consoling, yet determined voice called out. “And just as much as you do.” The man behind the voice stepped from the rock where he had hidden, revealing himself to be Kid Flash.
Jade was the first to see him. “What are you doing here?” she asked him.
“The Anti-Monitor said he killed the Flash. That makes it my business. Barry was more than my uncle — he was my mentor, and my friend,” Kid Flash said with determination. “Maybe Harbinger excluded me from this group because I didn’t have the necessary powers… but that wasn’t good enough for me. I was coming and nobody was going to stop me. Don’t you see? I felt I had to join you guys, or–”
Suddenly, a voice called out, “Wally?”
Kid Flash turned toward the direction of the voice, and he was utterly shocked when he saw an image of the Flash — his Flash, Barry Allen — reaching out to him but seemingly paralyzed in place. “Flash?” was the only thing that came out of the young speedster’s mouth as a whisper. The other heroes saw the image of the Flash as well, equally puzzled at the apparition.
“He’s gone? Disappeared,” said Captain Marvel of Earth-S, confused. “I — I thought the Flash died.”
Captain Atom of Earth-Four, who had been near Kid Flash when he’d confronted Earth-One’s Batman at Titans Tower, replied, “The Batman said he saw Flash’s image, too. And Flash was moving through time… his image must have phased in and out as he did.”
A glimmer of hope possessed Kid Flash. He had to believe that Barry was still alive. He refused to believe Captain Atom’s claim that this was an image from the past. “No! He was calling to me. I know he was,” Kid Flash said frantically. “I can still pick up an after-image.” With those words, Kid Flash took off, running through Qward’s surface, trying to find his mentor.
“I’m going to follow it… no matter where it takes me. I have to find him. Don’t you understand? I have to.” Kid Flash hoped against hope that Barry was indeed alive. Please, God, he thought. Please let him be safe… please.
The heroes took off after Kid Flash, worried that he was on a suicide run toward the Anti-Monitor. “We can’t let Kid Flash run riot over Qward,” Earth-One’s Superman said. “We still have the Anti-Monitor to deal with.”
Kid Flash stopped suddenly, for he saw his greatest fear realized. There, buried under several tons of rock, was the costume of the Flash. He stood several seconds as the sight bled into his soul. The man who had been his idol, the man who had been his partner, and uncle, and treasured friend — the one person he would trust with his life — was dead. And his costume — the very costume that defined who he was and his character — was being yanked by a macabre soul who wasn’t quite sane.
The other heroes arrived on the scene. The sight of seeing Barry’s costume within the rocks saddened Earth-One’s Superman, as he had been one of Barry’s closest friends in the Justice League of America. He looked at Kid Flash consolingly, knowing the loss of a loved one and friend all too well in the war against the Anti-Monitor. “Wally…” he said sadly, “…please, you can’t keep this up. Barry’s gone… just like Kara. It’s over for both of them.”
“I kept praying, hoping… but it’s true. Look!” Kid Flash said, not knowing that the heroes had already seen the empty costume.
The Psycho-Pirate was tugging at the costume, speaking to it as if it were still a living person. “C’mon, Flash… you said you’d save me. You promised you would. You promised. The Anti-Monitor lied to me, but I know you won’t,” the Pirate said, his strange behavior making no sense to those watching. “You’re one of the good guys. Good guys never lie. I’m scared, Flash… so frightened… He’s going to kill me unless you save me.” The Pirate paused as if to listen for a moment, then pleaded, “Don’t just sit there… help me. Save me!”
Kid Flash watched in disbelief. “No… no… no… no… no… no… no… no…” was all that he could say, as each no only served to convince him otherwise.
“C’mon!” the Pirate yelled angrily at the costume. “I told you I was sorry for hurting you before…”
The Psycho-Pirate’s claim to hurting Barry ignited a fierce anger in Kid Flash. Louder, he continued to say, “No… no… no… no…”
The Pirate continued to yell as if in fear. “But save me now! Save me now!”
The anger boiling inside Kid Flash finally exploded. This man had hurt Barry, maybe helped kill him — he’d even said he’d hurt Barry. How dare this scum pull at that suit?
“NO!” Kid Flash screamed, the rage flowing out. He ran up to the Psycho-Pirate with his super-speed and punched the Pirate with his left fist.
“LEAVE THAT UNIFORM ALONE! Get your stinking hands off it! Let it go, you maniac… let it go!” Kid Flash yelled, waiting for another reaction from the Pirate. He wanted to kill the Psycho-Pirate. God help him, he wanted him dead.
The punch sent the Psycho-Pirate flying into the arms of Captain Atom and the Ray, who realized that the villain had been driven hopelessly insane by his fear. Even though the Pirate had manipulated them both earlier during the Crisis, they felt pity for him. “Kid Flash, stop!” said the Ray of Earth-X. “Leave the Psycho-Pirate alone.”
“The Ray’s right. The poor man’s been driven insane!” Captain Atom replied.
Kid Flash walked over to the rocks pinning Barry’s costume to the ground, not really listening to the two heroes’ words, and just stared silently at Barry’s costume. He was followed by Earth-One’s Superman, who lifted the heavy rock off the costume. Kid Flash picked up the uniform, the last thing he had to remember his mentor and friend by, and cradled it.
“That’s Barry’s uniform, isn’t it?” said Earth-One’s Superman.
Kid Flash spoke, calmer now, and glad that he hadn’t done more damage to the Psycho-Pirate, even though he may have deserved it. “It’s not fair that he died alone. He was a good man… the best. Everything I am I owe to him,” he replied.
Lady Quark noticed something sparkle on the ground near the costume. “What’s this?” she asked, kneeling down and picking up a ring. She stood up and showed it to Kid Flash. “A ring with some sort of lightning insignia on it. Does this mean anything to you?” she asked Kid Flash.
The shock of seeing the ring that Barry used over the years clinched it for Kid Flash. His voice shook, but he spoke nonetheless. “H-his Flash ring… where he kept his uniform until he needed it. It really is over now, isn’t it? Oh, Lord, Barry… I’ll miss you. Oh, how I will miss you.”
Pariah interrupted, as he felt an evil sensation so powerful that it dwarfed the normal evil of Qward. “Hurry,” he said urgently. “I feel an overpowering concentration of evil — directly ahead of us. Hurry before it’s too late.”
Before the heroes could act, the source of immense evil stood in front of all the heroes. It was the Anti-Monitor. The monster spoke:
“YOU WHIMPERING FOOL, IT ALREADY IS TOO LATE! FROM THE MOMENT YOU STEPPED FOOT ON QWARD — YOU SEALED YOUR OWN FATES! THIS IS THE DAY THE UNIVERSE DIES!”