Tuesday, July 17, 2018 - 12:53
She has been here before. Forced to confront her fears because a of a power ring gone wrong. This time, it is a real, bonafide qwardian ring wielded by none other than Nora's cousin and whatever demonic-looking force it is that has taken over all of his good graces. The face that she has known since she was four years old stares every single one of them down with a look in his eye that, though indescribable, can only mean the worst. He is impossible to read. Menacing. Mocking. It kills her to make eye contact with this creature that has overcome Hector altogether, and the uncomfortable, maniacal grin he wears drives her need to save her cousin.
He is fast, however, and before she knows it, she is trapped, frozen, hovering in the air and unable to move. She looks past a spot just next to his head as fear consumes her. She recognizes this feeling as it washes over her body again and she braces for the worst. The last time she was forced to confront her fears, a giant yellow python had come flying out of Daisy's ring and hurtled through the air towards her direction. The panic floods her gut immediately, and she holds her breath while Hector—Kyle—Reptar—whoever it is—does his worst. And she knows that it's his worst, because he knows her best.
"None of it is real," she mumbles as a reminder to herself. "This isn't real."
It isn't long before the familiar, uncomfortable feeling has overwhelmed her. She feels herself waver in the air just as the constructs come towards her. She is in her apartment, alone. Sam is gone, their pets are nowhere to be found. Pork Chop's giant dog bed isn't even in her room. She wanders through the property with her phone in hand, looking for any signs of life. As she steps into the living, she sees that her friends and family are all around her, but nobody notices her. Nobody cares about her. They go about their conversations and jokes as if she isn't there.
She glances at her phone and sees that all of her texts and emails have gone unanswered for days on end. She waves at Sam, who looks right through her as if she isn't there. Cait hardly flinches when she tries to hug her. Jazz is the only friend to make eye contact with her so far, but Nora looks away quickly after seeing such intense anger and hurt in her eyes. She sees Jake with Dahlia and Natalia in the corner playing with Pork Chop and Nasim is off getting another drink, but she is unable to get either of them to acknowledge her, almost as if she were a ghost. Max and Etta are happily playing with Cheeto and cooing over his sweet little kitten antics. Hector and Bodhi are standing in their wedding attire enjoying the happiest day of their lives together so far. Thom and Meadow are deep in concentration over a game of Mario Kart. She tries to reach out to every single one of them but her attempts are in vain. Everything falls on deaf ears and she feels herself growing smaller and smaller until suddenly, the images disappear and she is completely alone.
This is a nightmare.
The hurt and loss that she feels in this moment are enough to attract a red power ring to her once again, and as it comes to her in construct form, she hears that voice again, announcing her to the world.
"Nora Saylor of Earth. You have great rage in your heart. You belong to the Red Lantern Corps."
She watches as the construct ring makes a beeline for her finger and it takes every ounce of fury and might for her to will herself to move out of its way. "It's not real," she reminds herself as she dodges the construct. Her ring was destroyed when it was removed last. For it to make a comeback would be impossible. For it to appear again would mean an immediate round trip to the sun to rid herself of the god damned ring once and for all...again. Still, the ring finds its way to her and she feels her body transform as the blood coursing through her veins begins to burn. The construct versions of her friends and family appear once again. She is immune to the napalm that she now carries, but this holds true for absolutely no one else around her as she becomes feral and experiences another rabid rage episode as she had several months prior. A fear-stricken Nora only contributes to the chaos over the Boston skyline as her fake red power ring because to send energy blasts at the construct versions of the people around her, decimating them on contact before seeing them reborn as Red Lanterns themselves. She sees herself facing an army of rabid Lanterns without their wits about them.
"You were wrong. This isn't a fresh start. This is a nightmare."
It's Bruce's voice again, from months and months ago. Spoken just before her actual power ring found its way back to her and took over her heart and mind. "This is a nightmare" repeats again and again and again, almost as if someone is trying to get through to her.
All it takes are two words from Daisy for her to snap back to reality. With that, the constructs are gone, her hand is free of a fake power ring, and she charges towards her cousin as he flies around in the air, overwhelming him with nothing but her speed and causing a flurry of confusion around him that she secretly hopes resembles a high stakes and deranged Road Runner versus Wiley Coyote cartoon. It works, and with one last speed blitz, she removes the qwardian ring from his finger and thus, any and all of his super powers. The team works together to ensure that he falls safely, unharmed.
After all, fall risks pose some of the greatest dangers to the elderly.