If you haven't started from the beginning, here's Chapter 1 for your reading pleasure.
I guess it goes without saying, but I'm nowhere near as fast as the Flash, if that's what the yellow light racing up through the bizarre skyscape of metal and glass fragments is. So by the time I'm even halfway to the epicenter of this whole black hole thing, he's already reached the big bad space-time disturbance and collided with it.
The result is an explosion that fills the sky with piercingly bright white light, which is then followed by a deafening thunderclap and a pretty nasty shock wave. More than one previously-still-intact window shatters as a result. I end up with a few pieces of said windows falling on me, even cutting through my suit.
Great, I think. And I didn't bring my sewing kit.
As soon as it's safe to look up again, I do so - and see that the black hole is gone. However, there's a dark red blur coming down from where it had just been. Not a yellow blur. I wonder if that's what the Flash looks like when he's not running practically at the speed of sound.
Wait a minute. If that's him...why is he just letting himself fall? Is he even conscious? If not, it wouldn't surprise me. I'm sure most people, superhero or not, would be at least concussed into oblivion by an impact like the one I just witnessed. Or dead...no, no, no, not dead. I'm not gonna assume the worst.
I stop to see if I can calculate his trajectory. I'm a pretty good visual thinker, if I do say so myself. But running these advanced numbers on the fly is still a serious challenge for me. In any case, it takes me only about ten seconds to figure out where he's headed - by which time he's fallen about five hundred more feet.
I think I can catch him now. Catch him, and bring him safely to earth. But I have to work fast.
I launch weblines from the shooters on both my wrists, wrapping them around a pair of lampposts on either side of the street. Then I pull back on these shooters and wait a couple of seconds before using them to launch myself into the air.
I rise in a very high arc, coming up about two hundred feet before starting to descend again. The Flash, however, is falling at a higher rate, having already reached terminal velocity. So, before long, he draws level with me.
That's when I reach out and grab him. Like I expected, he's unconscious, so I'm forced to awkwardly wrap his arms around me. That way, I can hold on to him with one arm, and use the other to launch another webline with which I can swing us down to the ground.
There's a small group of people gathered on the ground, most of whom are looking up at us. I wonder if these guys are associated with the Flash. Maybe they were trying to help him stop this black hole, wherever it came from.
I take a chance and bring him down to these people. As soon as we land, I see that I made the right call. The group, with the exception of a blond man who's also unconscious (according to a quick glance out of the corner of my eye), descends on the Flash, taking hold of him and trying to revive him.
One of these people, an older black man, turns to me and takes my hand in both of his. "Thank you. Thank you so much."
"Don't thank him just yet," says a twentysomething woman with brown hair. She peels off the Flash's mask, revealing the rest of his face - previously, only the lower half and his eyes were visible. Seeing his whole face, I'm shocked by how much he looks like he could be my older brother. He's got similarly boyish features, messy hair that somehow managed to hide under the spandex of his mask, and huge, thick eyebrows. And I thought the only people with bigger eyebrows than mine were Gandalf, Zachary Quinto, and the Twelfth Doctor.
"Yo!" cries a skater-looking Latino dude. He jumps in front of the girl and the Flash, hiding the latter's face from view. "As another masked hero, I think this guy appreciates the value of anonymity. Don't you think, Caitlin?"
"You've heard of this guy too?" asks a black girl. "I thought he was just an urban legend they talked about in New York."
"Uh...nope, not a legend, urban or otherwise," I say, giving these guys a two-fingered salute. "Greetings from Gotham, huh? I was just in the neighborhood, thought I'd drop by..."
"Thank God you came when you did, though," says the Latino. "Am I right, Spider-Man?"
I rub my hands together. "Uh...yeah. You're welcome, guys. All in a day's work, you know what I mean?" I peer around the Latino and get a better look at the unconscious blond. Except he's not unconscious. Judging from the amount of blood pooled around him, and the gun in his hand, it looks like he's dead. "Holy shit," I whisper. "What happened?"
"It's a long, long story," says the white girl - I think she's the Caitlin the Latino guy was talking to just now.
The black girl, meanwhile, looks over to the blond guy as if remembering he's dead. Tears well up in her eyes as she walks over to him. She must be his girlfriend or something like that.
Between the black hole, the Flash, and the apparent suicide, I still have no idea exactly what's going on. I rub my temples with my knuckles, trying to connect the dots. They're not exactly forming a recognizable shape, though.
The older guy turns to me and says, "Thanks again, uh, Spider-Man. But we got this covered, don't worry. You don't have to hang around."
"You sure?" I ask. As much as I want to get back to Gwen and make sure she's safe, this situation seems pretty important too. But maybe the guy is right - without a good grasp on what's happening, I probably won't be much help around here.
"Don't worry," says the Latino, a strained smile forming on his face as he tries to project an air of breezy confidence. "We do shit like this all the time."
I shrug. "If you say so. But if you guys need me again, I'll be here all week. No, seriously. So, uh, check you later, I guess?" With that, I turn around and head back up the street, then swing away on a webline.
A minute later, I get back to the CCU campus, find the place where I stored my street clothes, and get dressed once again. The student visitors are flooding the lawn again now that they've been given the all-clear. I look around frantically until I spot the telltale shine of Gwen's blonde head. There really aren't all that many blond people around here today, so she stands out in the crowd.
"Hey," I say, taking Gwen's hand for a second. "You miss me?"
Gwen looks up at me with a silly smirk, then gazes out towards the city, which is still pretty badly wrecked - but at least it's free of black holes. "Dare I ask?" she says.
I check my watch - quarter to ten. Unless the schedule's been thrown off by the black hole incident, we have fifteen minutes to get to a brief seminar being hosted by the College of Sciences. And then, we'll have only five minutes to get to a similar seminar for the College of Arts - Gwen's not as interested in that one, but she agreed to go along with me as I look into the possibility of taking up photography classes.
After that, though, I think I'll be able to talk freely to her. "What say we, uh, save the war story for lunch?" I ask.
"Only if you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," Gwen says in her best Law & Order voice. "So help you God."
"What if I'm an atheist?" I counter. "Or what if my God goes by the name of Vishnu?"
"Nice try, Peter," Gwen laughs, setting off and following the marked signs for the College of Sciences.
"All right," I say, grinning at her. "You got a deal."
Before following her, however, I sneak one last glance at the remains of the city skyline. For that one second of looking, and for too many seconds afterwards to count, I think about two questions.
Who is the Flash?
And why did he just have to nearly kill himself canceling the Apocalypse?