Swamp Thing: The Doll’s House, Chapter 4: Infected by Love

by Doc Quantum

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Matthew Cable concluded his story, but by the harsh look on Abby Holland’s face, he hadn’t garnered any sympathy from her. This was going to be more difficult than he thought. Still, he thought he could still win her back somehow; he just needed to get that damned psi-helmet from her and turn her back around to his way of thinking before it was too late.

“I wasn’t lying to you earlier; in a way I am Matt Cable — or at least his body — though with a different soul,” explained Matt after the full import of the story had begun to sink in. “The real Matthew Cable that you knew was killed shortly after he ousted Anton Arcane from his body. As for your the soul of your husband, it was destined for a different and much more unique purpose. That’s all I know about it.”

“Are you telling me that you’re this Green Glob?” asked Abby, her laser pistol still trained on him.

“Essentially, yes,” said Matt. “Your husband’s body was vacated by both its original soul and by your uncle’s soul, leaving it alive but brain-dead. But because of Arcane’s interference, the Green Glob was also trapped within this body long after its mission would have been over.” He chuckled. “Just imagine the three of us stuck in this one body. Trust me: it wasn’t pleasant.”

“Did you ever try to escape?”

“Oh, yes,” said Matt. “Repeatedly. But it was no use. Nothing I could do would separate me from this body, which needed a soul to keep it alive long past the point it should have been dead. All I could do was try to heal it from within, and do so without the vast reality-altering powers of the Green Glob.”

“Is all this–” Abby waved her laser pistol in a small arc to indicate the surroundings. “–is any of this real?

Most of it is,” explained Matt. “This dimension, and the others we’ve visited, are most certainly real. My powers allow me to create solid psychic manifestations, but not on the scale of an entire world like this one. I used my abilities to bring us to these already existing worlds. Matthew Cable — your Matthew — had believed that he had gained his strange ability to warp reality simply because of his exposure to electroshock. But if that were true, surely there’d be more people with those abilities running around out there. Matt never had any ‘super-powers’ of his own — they were just what the Green Glob had given him, initially only to teach him a lesson about how his self-pity was destroying him, and that he had to overcome his personal demons. The best way was for him to actually confront those demons made into reality. But Arcane’s interference caused the Green Glob’s powers to remain in Matt’s body long after the lesson had been taught, which ended up making things worse for him.”

“So, if you’re supposedly some cosmic force for good, here to teach people lessons, why did you use your powers to control me?” demanded Abby. “Not even the most twisted logic can justify what you did to me.”

“It was my fault, I admit,” sighed Matt. “This — being in this body, experiencing what it’s like to be a husband — was completely new to me. In all my prior existence, I’d never been so close to a sentient’s emotions. This body changed me, infected me… made me human. I could no longer think coldly and rationally or follow the purpose of the Green Glob’s existence, which had been ordained by the wise immortals of the planet Oa many thousands of centuries ago. I essentially became Matt Cable, adopting his personality and his full gamut of feeling, including the most powerful emotions of all. It was overwhelming. I admit that I — I fell in love with you.”

Abby raised her laser pistol a bit higher. “If you think you can somehow salvage this, you’re wrong. Skip the ‘love’ part, and tell me why.”

“Why did I do what I did?” asked Matt. “I guess it had something to do with timing. If the Swamp Thing had never been shot into space, if you’d stayed with him, then I wouldn’t have tried anything. But he was gone for so long — a year and a half — that I thought I might have a chance with you. It was ironic that I recovered in this body at about the same time he did return to Earth and before you and he were reunited, but it certainly wasn’t planned that way.

“We talked, and yes, I wanted to convince you to love me, to give me another chance,” continued Matt. “But I never realized that my reality-altering powers — or those of the Green Glob, to be precise — had slowly begun to return to their original levels. Unconsciously, I caused you to ignore your love for him, for Alec, and to concentrate on the feelings you’d had when you were first married to me.”

“You manipulated me,” said Abby flatly.

“Yes, but I wasn’t aware to what extent I was until it was too late,” continued Matt. “It wasn’t until weeks later, into our second honeymoon, that I realized the Abby Cable I knew was not the real one. The real Abby — you — were buried somewhere beneath her consciousness.”

“So you made sure that I’d never be in control again,” concluded Abby.

“No!” said Matt. “I wanted you to be in control of yourself. I desperately wanted that. But I also couldn’t afford to lose you. I needed to make sure that the real you would fall in love with me just as much as the surface you had seemed to do. But then we started arguing all the time, and you kept on dredging up the past. I knew that I was starting to lose you again. I had to do something drastic.”

“Like getting me pregnant?”

“Like making you think you were pregnant,” explained Matt. “Despite all my powers, I couldn’t risk giving you the gift of life for real. So, two days ago, I created the child within you that would seem like the real thing. You’d carry it to term in a matter of days, yet believe that nine months have passed, and I made sure that nothing else could cloud your mind during this time. I needed you to fall in love with the baby, and through that baby fall back in love with me. I couldn’t risk losing you again.”

“You never had me,” said Abby. “You’re not my husband. You’re not even Matt Cable. I never loved you. All our conversations, all that you’ve heard me say since we’ve been together, was scripted. This life we had together here? Nothing but play-acting in a doll’s house.”

“But you once loved Matthew Cable,” he said.

“Yes,” agreed Abby. “Once.”

“Then you could love me,” insisted Matt. “I am everything Matt once was, and more. Why can’t you appreciate what you have? I love you, Abby! I want nothing more than to be with you and make you happy.”

“I don’t love you, and I could never love you,” said Abby. “You controlled me. You used me. God, you raped me. None of what we had was consensual. You made my body a puppet for your lust.”

“That’s not true!” said Matt. “What I feel for you is so much more than–“

“You want to make me happy?” said Abby. “Let me go.”

“But–“

“Let me go,” repeated Abby, pushing the laser pistol toward him.

“Abby, listen to me. I–“

“LET ME GO!” she screamed.

Matt Cable’s next words were caught in his throat. She was serious. He closed his mouth and gulped, then nodded and looked down, resigned to his fate. But as Abby began to lower her guard, he thrust his hand out and pushed the pistol away, even as he grabbed it from her and tossed it over the balcony into the valley below.

Abby began screaming as he approached her.

“I’m doing this for your own good, Abby!” he yelled, grabbing the psi-helmet from her head and yanking it away.

She stopped in her tracks as his reality-warping powers began making their way back into her mind in an attempt to take control of her once more. But she was on to him this time; it wouldn’t be as easy as it had been when she first allowed him in. Then, she’d had her guard down, but now she was fully aware of his capabilities, and she resisted.

Matt pushed harder, trying to suffocate her subconscious once again, but Abby refused to give in that easily. As he kept pushing, the house around them began to rattle and shake, vibrating terribly.

Finally, the house they had shared began to crumble around them, and the Daylands disappeared as they entered a misty realm, surrounded only by the debris from the destroyed house they had shared.

“Stop!” cried a voice in the darkness.

Help me…!” cried Abby, seeing the form of the Phantom Stranger appear before her.

“Go away!” shouted Matt. “This is none of your business, Stranger!”

“It was not before,” agreed the Phantom Stranger, “but it is now. Cease your attack upon this woman immediately!” And the Stranger punctuated his words with a mystical attack of his own upon the form of Matthew Cable.

Aargh!” cried Matt, finding himself the victim of his own mental attack, thanks to the Stranger’s mystic blast and Abby’s strong resistance.

It was too much for his frail human form, which began to dissolve into a greenish mist.

The Green Glob, his true form naked to the others, hovered in place as the body of Matthew Cable crumbled into dust, joining the fate of his long-deceased soul. Gone was the passion and lust for life that had embodied Matt Cable. Gone was his love for Abby and his desire to live. All that was left was the inscrutable Green Glob, its mission to right wrongs and teach lessons to those receptive to them finally set right again, its purpose finally restored. Remaining just a moment more in the presence of both Abby Holland and the Phantom Stranger, it then flew off and disappeared into the darkness. And all those who would encounter it in the days and years ahead would once more only benefit from its interference, in one way or another.

“Is it gone?” said Abby. “Is it finally over?”

“You are free once more,” said the Phantom Stranger. “Let me take you home.”

“I’m not sure where my home is any longer,” Abby said, her voice cracking with emotion. “I’d always believed my home was with Alec. But after all those things I said to him, I can’t imagine he’d ever want to see me again.”

“Let him decide that for himself,” said the Stranger. “If your love is as true as you believe it to be, then nothing will be able to keep you apart.”

“Thank you,” said Abby Holland. “Please take me back to Houma. I’ll… figure things out from there.”

“As you wish.”

Opening up a portal in the darkness, the Phantom Stranger took Abby Holland’s hand and walked her through it toward her new destiny.

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