[DEFEAT. is presented in weekly episodes. the novella tells the tale of Daryl Millar - a hero who dies at the intersection of pop culture, science-fiction, war epic, and fantasy. Brian Galiano provides stunning original art for every episode. the end is nigh.]
I’ll never forget how he looked when I finally came face to face with him. Well, face to face with him again. Surely you know what I mean.
It was just before 10AM when I came across Daryl Millar — just as I had planned it. His entrance at the pep rally would be about a half-hour later, so I figured this was the perfect time to reveal myself. Remembering the route he walked to school, I parked myself somewhere in the middle and waited.
He arrived right on time. Of course.
Before he saw me, his face was filled with fire. Not a blazing inferno of anger, but an inextinguishable torch of determination. There were no words that could persuade this hero to abandon his mission. Not that anyone else would have even approached him to try. After all, don’t forget that he was holding a goddamn sword. Not exactly an inviting image.
When I stepped in front of Daryl, he did not become upset. Perhaps somewhere deep inside, in the same viscera that told him to follow this course in the first place, he knew that I could not stop him. That I was not derailing his train of consequence, but offering a minor detour. With this comprehension in hand, he gave me an honest moment to speak my mind.
I told him who I was. He laughed at first. He told me I was just a pervert who hid in bushes and spied on high school students. I explained that I could understand his interpretation, as he had clearly spotted me on Monday, but that he was wrong. That I was who I was claiming to be. That given the revelations of the week, he should be more open to the idea.
And then I made an allusion to Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Daryl reconsidered his position. He looked as deeply into me as he could. Then he looked deeply within himself. I saw him thinking, considering all of the existential convergences. Intercourse under his belt. A sword that had traveled the world. A genuine gypsy mystic. Visions in basements and coffee shops. Friends in need. An adversary to defeat. His grandfather’s approval for whatever. A final word of warning coming from a traveler from afar. It all clicked.
Universal sequence complete.
We both acknowledged the surreality of the situation. I wanted to say something more to him, but didn’t. He offered his condolences about my right leg. He said goodbye and trudged ahead.
He hadn’t moved more than twenty paces when I called after him. Again, I knew it was useless but couldn’t help myself.
“Daryl! Wait! Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
He stopped but didn’t turn around. Over his shoulder, he called out to me. “Did you enjoy our conversation?
“Yes. Very much.”
“And do you enjoy the ability to have such conversations?”
“Of course! It’s my life’s work — everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”
“Then you know what I have to do.” He continued walking. “Besides, nothing’s stopping you from speaking with me again.”
I watched him unsheathe the goddamn sword and take a sneak preview of its glory. Walking down his chosen path, he was all right.
All right forever.