The first thing he felt was that old exhilaration that came when he moved at super-speed. There was an emotional rush that came with the sensation of racing faster than the human eye could follow. It was not merely the mundane physiological surge of adrenaline, nor was it the sensory overload that accompanied the use of greatly accelerated powers of sight and hearing. If the man in the futuristic chamber could precisely define that familiar, stimulating sensation, he might have called it intoxicating or empowering. It certainly made him feel liberated or free from the petty limitations other lesser men were subject to during their tedious lives. As he looked around the chamber, he realized a few things.
He was not moving at all. He had been racing at top speed seconds before — if such a measurement of time could apply to speed like his own — but now he was abruptly at rest within a device that had somehow anchored him without bringing him to a jarring halt. He nodded as he noticed machines that were more advanced than the toys that passed for scientific marvels in the ancient era that his most hated foe the Flash called home. He frowned as he also realized that, in spite of his nom du crime of Professor Zoom, the so-called Reverse-Flash was not able to fully comprehend what some of the devices were meant to do.
“This may not be the twentieth century, but it isn’t my twenty-fifth century, either,” he said as he stood up and emerged from the metallic chamber to move deeper into the room.
He frowned as he glanced around the room and noticed a few items that could not be classified as technological tools. He ignored a few monitoring devices and climate-control or enviro units that any home of his own era would contain. He wiped at his eyes beneath the yellow cowl he wore over a matching costume. Zoom was a bit of a scholar of sorts, but he certainly didn’t recognize the garish figures whose holographic images adorned the room. They each wore ornate costumes, and he read the names below each floating image.
“Robert-Houdin, Blackstone, Sorcar, Zatara, Henning, Copperfield,” he read. “I’ve heard of Zatara, but the rest of these nonentities are unknown to me.”
Smoke filled the room, and as light blazed across the room, a tall, lean figure appeared and posed for dramatic effect. He had receding black hair and an elaborately curled mustache. He smiled rather expectantly, as if he anticipated a particular response from his guest. When Zoom displayed nothing beyond a rather contemptuous recognition, the man in the immaculate white tuxedo and tails bowed slightly and stroked his mustache with one gloved hand.
“No doubt you wonder why my own name and image are not immortalized with the other luminaries within my Hall of Magic,” he said. “The answer is simple. I have created a separate shrine to commemorate my remarkable feats of prestidigitation. It occupies the west wing of my humble home. I will gladly give you a tour of it once you have rested.”
Zoom grimaced as he moved closer to the preening man in white. “Abra Kadabra,” said a sneering Zoom. “No wonder I didn’t recognize some of the machines in the room. This is the future. We’re not in my twenty-fifth century, but rather we are in your own sixty-fourth century! Why have you brought me here? Is it jealousy? Is it because I was about to do for the second time what you and those other pathetic Rogues could never even do once? I was about to strike at our mutual foe the Flash in a more satisfyingly personal manner than merely committing any boring crime spree or showing him up could ever do! I was about to kill his beloved and blushing bride-to-be, Iris West!”
Abra Kadabra smiled quizzically. “Confused? You meant to say that you were about to kill his fiancée, Fiona Webb. You already killed Iris West Allen, or did you? (*) I can understand how the nuances of time travel can boggle the mind.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Last Dance,” The Flash #275 (July, 1979).]
He grasped the edge of his cloak and swept it forward in a flamboyant gesture. “Allow me to explain, my friend! You are the infamous Reverse-Flash, Eobard Thawne. You acquired superhuman speed after discovering a residual energy charge within a costume that once belonged to the Flash of the twentieth century. As your rather uninspired costume motif suggests, you came from the twenty-fifth century to oppose the heroic Flash — Mr. Barry Allen — and to figuratively and literally position yourself as his opposite number, his player on the other side, as some might say. You managed to use super-speed of your own to challenge him, ever so slightly, and you were about to kill his bride-to-be Fiona Webb, when–!”
Zoom interrupted the arrogant magician by saying, “When you waved your technological wand and spoiled my moment of glory. You did it because you have always wanted to be the Flash’s greatest foe, and not even your advanced science, which you use to mimic magic, has ever enabled you to do more than transform him into various ridiculous objects… temporarily!”
Abra Kadabra shook his head and assumed a look of mock indignation. “You wound me!” he said. “Do you truly think the great and terrible Abra Kadabra would stoop to such a petty stunt? I wanted to spare your sensibilities by breaking the truth to you in a gradual manner. However, my desire for charity must take second place to the need for blunt truth.”
“Cut the showmanship,” said Zoom. “I’m not an audience, and you aren’t going to receive applause from me!” Honestly, for a man who could move at such superhuman speed, it was incredibly tedious to have to patiently wait for such a longwinded egomaniac to get done talking.
“You were doomed to failure!” pronounced Abra. “History shows us that the Flash stopped you from harming Fiona Webb. In fact, the Flash killed you!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Run, Flash — Run for Your Wife,” The Flash #323 (July, 1983) and “The Slayer and the Slain,” The Flash #324 (August, 1983).]
Zoom hesitated, then reassumed his normal air of swaggering defiance. “You mean that wimp was about to kill me, but you plucked me from that moment in time so we could team up to ruin his life!” he declared.
Abra smiled wickedly and shook his head slowly. “Alas, no. He killed you. I even posed as you afterward to achieve a bit of revenge!” This was not strictly true, but Abra thought any good showman knew how to properly put a spin on the facts when necessary.
Zoom showed his concern as he stammered, then gazed at the magician in dismay. “He killed me?” he said. “Barry Allen made Superman look like an anarchist! Are you seriously telling me that the sickeningly noble Flash killed me?”
“He did, indeed, until I failed with my previously mentioned ploy, and I realized that I had no choice but to interfere and use my awesome magic to change history,” said Abra. “I created a golem or lifeless automaton of you and left this empty husk behind while spiriting you here to my era, where I have graciously given you a second lease on life! The Flash thought — and history itself showed — that you died because of his actions, but now in truth, through a bit of sleight of hand no one but yours truly could master, you live!”
Professor Zoom smiled and rubbed his hands together eagerly. “OK. I’m used to time travel,” he said. “I can handle the ups and downs of a paradox. So, how do we kill him?”
Abra Kadabra frowned slightly as he realized that Zoom had predictably failed to thank him for what he had done. The man truly was a barbarian. Luckily for Abra, Zoom was also a disposable one. “You rest and enjoy the comforts my home offers you,” he said. “Then we will plot our magnificent revenge on the Flash!”
Abra smiled knowingly as he thought, Dolt! I didn’t plot against the Flash after he killed Zoom… at least not in the way Zoom thinks I did. I have plans of my own for the so-called Reverse-Flash, and I’ll execute them when the time is right. At that carefully staged moment, I’ll prove that the skillful hand of Abra Kadabra is truly faster than the eye can see! He clapped his hands and vanished in a puff of smoke.
“I’d notice the faint energy aura of a cloaking device, so I assume he merely used a portable teleporter,” mused Zoom as he reclined on a sofa. “Poor sap likes to pretend that he is performing real magic, when it is nothing more than common science.”
Zoom munched on some neutrino bars and smiled smugly. Thanks for the help, Abra, but this is one Flash who has his own method of travel… and you simply can’t keep up with me! he thought.
He stretched for a moment, then raced out of the futuristic home as a blur of yellow and red.
Meanwhile, if the term applies to time travel, within the thirtieth century a graying man named Eric Russell glanced over to his wife as they stared at a series of computer monitors.
“What does it mean?” asked a clearly worried Fran Russell.
Eric put one arm around his wife and patted her on the back. “The alarm means something or someone has made an attempt to alter the chronal reading for Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash! After his attack on Iris led us to save her life via psychic transplant, I figured we had better install some safeguards in case Zoom himself or some ally might try to go back in time and do something to change history so that we failed to save Iris! The Science Council set up alarms to register any fluctuation in the time stream involving the particular chronal reading Zoom’s unique metabolism emits. The monitor indicates that Zoom himself has made at least two trips through time! He journeyed to the sixty-fourth century, and now the sensor indicates that he is on his way back to the twentieth century!”
“But he’s dead!” cried Fran. “I know he died!”
“Think, dear!” said Eric. “Iris was born in this century, the thirtieth. Zoom killed her while she was in the twentieth century. We were able to save Iris from death because her death at Zoom’s hands in the 1980s meant that she was technically dying prior to her birth. It was a time paradox, and we were able to take advantage of it. Zoom’s death at Barry’s hands occurred before his own birth, too. We’ve always speculated that that time anomaly led to the history of that era being somewhat nebulous. I fear it also means one of our worst fears has come true. Zoom is active again and may be trying to change history once more!”
“Oh, Eric, we can’t allow this to happen!” Fran cried. “First, we had to send baby Iris back to the twentieth century to escape the world war of this era. Oh, it’s true, she was raised by loving parents Ira and Nadine West and even found both a satisfying career and a loving marriage in that time period, but we certainly suffered by not being able to raise our little girl!”
“But she married the Flash, and he brought us all together and even brought peace to this era,” said Eric. “We were lucky Barry Allen entered our lives, even if it was his enemy Zoom who killed Iris and led us to restore her here in a new body.”
“Poor doomed Barry,” said Fran. “He learned that we had saved Iris and came here, but even that knowledge didn’t save him from his own all-too-sudden death.”
At that moment, a pretty woman in her thirties entered the room, along with a lovely blonde girl of fifteen.
“Well, here you are,” she said with a smile. “Deena and I have been looking for you two.”
Deena grinned and said, “I could have searched the whole dome in the time it took for Mom to summon and ride the escalator to this level.”
Iris Allen smiled at her daughter and relished the now-familiar sensation of living with a super-speedster. It’s almost like having Barry back with us, she mused. She shares his passion for learning. How he would have loved seeing our daughter grow. She referred to her beloved late husband, Barry Allen, who had only enjoyed a brief time with her in her native century before meeting his own heroic death during the cosmic Crisis on Infinite Earths.
“Now, Nadine Nora Allen, don’t show off, or I’ll take away your holo privileges!” scolded Iris.
Deena Allen smiled sheepishly at her mother and said, “Sorry, Mom! Don’t mean to demean the ol’ parental unit!”
“Come on, ladies,” said Eric. “Let’s get ready for dinner. The robo chef has something special on the menu. I peeked.”
He was still worried about what his alarm signal indicated, but he was also determined to spare Iris any needless worry if he could. He hit the shut-down switch on the wall bank of screens.
Deena smiled affectionately as her mother gave her a hug, then her blue eyes widened as she saw the flicker of the many monitoring devices as her grandfather Eric hastily shut them down. Her super-swift eyes could read the words on the screen before they vanished.
Professor Zoom? she thought. I know Gramps was looking at something he didn’t want us to see. Zoom was the monster that almost destroyed my folks.
As the family left the room, Deena Allen returned at super-speed. None of the others had any idea that the studious blonde teenager had momentarily left them to return to the room and activate the screens once more. She had moved so swiftly that her after-image still lingered in their collective field of vision.
Deena frowned as she rapidly worked the controls. “Zoom’s going back to Dad’s time!” she gasped as she spotted another record that had not been on the screen before. “He was crazy over Mom. I know more than they think, since I’ve studied all the holo files. I was able to do it in a matter of minutes. I can’t let him hurt her or Dad! I mean, he could actually kill them both before I was even born and wipe me out of history, too!
“Something weird is happening when I let the scanner run freely. If Zoom reaches the twentieth century, certain events will change subsequent to his arrival. I see a news photo of a bunch of costumed kids, and one of the girls looks like me! I’m going to end up in that era. I’m wearing a costume based on the one Wally wore during his last days as Kid Flash. That means I have to go back in time, too. I’m destined to be a super-heroine there! Of course, Gramps and Mom won’t know that, since the events that led to me doing so only came into being after Zoom travelled through time. I’m a bit mixed up, but I won’t let that creep hurt my parents!”
She opened a storage cabinet and smiled with approval as she pulled out a small device the size of a twentieth-century calculator. “Because of the threat of atomic warfare, all homes have these personal enviro-scanners,” she said to herself. “While they normally are used to detect radiation levels, I can modify this one to track the kind of supercharged metabolism possessed by Zoom and myself. I should be able to follow him and correct any changes he makes in time, but I don’t exactly know how to stop that maniac. He was supposedly one of the most dangerous of all Dad’s foes!”
A determined Deena Allen started working furiously as she adjusted the controls on several different machines. She moved so swiftly that no observer could have detected her. Moments later, the brave girl was gone, from not only the home she loved, but the only era she had ever known.