Issue 9 Review

Midnight Nation 9 Synopsis

"Explanations, Valid and Otherwise"

David Grey and Laurel have finally reached New York City, the place where David can try to recover his soul. David is determined to try even though his future self told him that he would fail. David is even more determined that his future self's other prediction won't come true: that David will kill Laurel.

David asks Laurel why he senses so much fear from the in-between people on the streets. Laurel says that part of their fear is of David, whose Walker tattoo has spread onto his face. The other reason for their fear is revealed when David and Laurel come upon the effects of the Other Guy's influence. Many of the buildings that David should recognize in New York City have been replaced by demonic structures with brimstone fires.

Laurel explains that everything else they have seen represents the shadow side of the metaphor. They have seen the abandoned people and places that the real world can't see any more. However, the demonic city they see now is the real city, but the people in the "real" world don't see it because they don't want to admit it exists.

The Other Guy's power grows as misery spreads. Eventually every place will become like the demonic New York that they see. David surmises that this is why the Walkers were supplying drug dealers in Los Angeles. They are responsible for the misery in the world. Laurel says that the Walkers only help along what David and his kind do to each other. David begins to ask Laurel why she refers to herself as outside the human race, but they are interrupted by the Other Guy.

The Other Guy congratulates them for arriving with a week to spare. He tells Laurel that it's good to see her again, but her only response is a pained look.

David expresses his impatience and demands to have his soul back. The Other Guy opens his palm to reveal a bright white flame that is David's soul. He says he will return it freely at the right time. The Other Guy will determine the time, but he will be fair. He will offer the soul's return in the next few days, and David can accept it with no tricks. He says David is his child and he loves him. He can deny him nothing and will not oppose David when it is time to reclaim his soul. He says that Laurel will confirm that he never breaks his word.

However, first the Other Guy has much to show David so that he understands what it means when he recovers his soul. He orders his Walkers to seize them. David struggles and calls out for Laurel to stay close, but she just stands still and tells the Walkers to do what they must as they encircle her.

The Walkers carry David into an underground tunnel singing "Hi-ho, hi-ho" in their "Shah" language. The Walkers throw David into a cell with a window barred with stalagmite columns. He looks out across a fiery chasm. Laurel is also in a cell, but her window has much thinner bars. She methodically begins to break them.

A short time later, the Walkers come to fetch David with a coffin-sized box. David strips naked and stands inside. Wrought iron bars on the upper third of the box allow him to see out. The Other Guy explains that the box is to protect David from himself. Others have hurt themselves after going through what David is about to experience.

The Walkers bring the box to the edge of a black pit. The Other Guy entreats David to pretend that he is God. He notes that many unqualified people think they can do God's job, and he suggests that they might even do it better because their hearts are in the right place. They wouldn't create a fraudulent setup.

The Other Guy gets back on track and asks David how he likes being God so far. David replies that this is profoundly stupid. The Other Guy refers to the black pit as the pre-creation void. The void is silent - sound hasn't been created yet - and David is alone. David is alone all the time - and time hasn't even been invented yet. He "is", but he can't "be" because there isn't any place to be in. So, the Other Guy says, David creates a place. "Let there be light."

As the Other Guy describes David's creation of the universe and life, Walker performers shed their robes to prance about in black leotards illustrating the story with props. They carry models of molecules and planets. Toy animals hang from poles. A few of them wear angel's wings.

The Other Guy says that David creates more complex creatures, but hones his skills by killing his failures. By design everything he creates dies. David is not perfect. If he was, he wouldn't have created everything because he was alone, afraid of the void, and bored.

The Other Guy says that David created others like himself, but not as powerful so that they were not a threat. He says that neither David nor his creations remember him creating them. The Other Guy says David tells his new creations that he is creating a better world. However, the Other Guy asks, if David is perfect, why didn't he get it right the first time? The new creations asked this question, but the Other Guy says David didn't like questions instead of obedience. When the questions continue, it becomes a war about misery.

The Other Guy says that David wanted to be entertained, and every author needs conflict, so he introduced misery. The promise is that tomorrow will be better than today, but the Other Guy questions whether that is true. He says that the cliche about money being the root of all evil is not true. Misery is the root of all evil. Misery proves that the universe is uncaring, random, and cruel and the creation is a lie.

David points out that the Other Guy is the one causing the misery. The Other Guy responds that everyone causes misery. David has seen on his journey evidence of the misery he has caused unintentionally. The Other Guy says that David is still missing the point. He continues questioning David as if he is God. Nothing exists except what he created. Why did he create misery? This entire was is about removing misery in all its forms from the equation.

While the Other Guy lectures David, Laurel is drawing a mother and child in chalk on her cell wall. Two Walkers bring her a sheer gown. Laurel begins to remove her clothes as the Walkers wait with expressions of sadness.

The Other Guy tells David that there is no Hell or Heaven. There is only the cycle of life and death and rebirth with more misery each time. He enumerates sources of misery including mothers who murder their own children. He says they do it because they know that their children will only know misery. It is time for the children to return the favor by overturning creation and starting again.

The Other Guy proposes to do this by exploiting the flaw in creation and accelerating misery. Lazarus was the first to fall through the cracks, but each day he is joined by many more. Every day the flaw in creation becomes evident to more people. Eventually everyone will be on the Other Guy's side of the equation instead of God's. Then it will be their turn to create a new world based on pleasure, joy, and freedom.

The Other Guy has been forced to hear the misery of the world throughout eternity. Now he will show David Grey one second of the pain and suffering of a world that was deliberately created flawed. He challenges David to answer his question: "Is this not a world that deserves to be put out of its misery?"

In one agonizing second, David's mind is filled with a planet full of hate, prejudice, injustice, horror, war, oppression, violence, hunger, pain, and genocide. His scream fills the caverns.

Laurel is standing naked with the gown and freezes when she hears the scream. She mutters David's name and buries her face for a moment. The Walkers begin to cry. She puts on the gown and says, "Let's do it."

Laurel walks through the tunnels with the Walkers trailing behind. She passes the Other Guy, and they exchange sorrowful glances. She enters the chamber ahead like a sacrifice.

David crouches on the floor, but he is no longer himself. The feral creature lets out a "Shah," and his face shows only anger.