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For the Greater Good

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This day…did not go as I expected it to.

For one thing, after dying, I materialized out of thin air next to my friends rather than waking up back home in my bed. Which, again, was pretty unusual, as it’s never happened to me before. In the moment, I couldn’t help but wonder that it must have happened because there was something I was needed for, something that couldn’t wait for my usual resurrection in the next couple of days.

But nope, I was wrong. If anything, I was brought back sooner to be put through absolute hell.

To be honest, I didn’t even know what happened, it all went by so fast. Something about Mephesto getting shot, my friends and I staying behind to help out the doctor, and the power went out because of a blizzard.

A blizzard that I was now stuck in.

Fuck me. I thought disdainfully as I waded through the mountains of snow. The doctor was a fucking idiot. When a power outage occurs, and you need someone to go outside and fix it, you don’t just send one person. Moreover, you don’t force that one person to go into the raging blizzard against their will. And unintentionally mock them by openly stating the relaxing and warm activities you and the others will be doing. But most of all, you don’t send someone who is infamously known for getting killed on a daily basis. Because most likely, that person will end up dying before they reach the fucking backup generator.

My parka was warm enough to keep me from freezing to death, but I wondered how long that could last. Snow kept on leaking into my shoes, and it wouldn’t be long before frostbite would kick in, and take away my ability to walk. The brown gloves I always wore were becoming so wet that they were pressed up against my hands, which occasionally gave in to uncontrollable spasms of shivers. And despite me being practically cocooned in my parka, it didn’t keep out the cold completely. Which only got worse the farther I walked.

I never even asked for this. And even if I volunteered, what good could I possibly do? Picking me for this job is one of the worst possible mistakes anyone could make. And because of that mistake…dozens of people…not just me…are going to die.

Ah, right. The one thing that kept me going through this raging snowstorm. Because, like it or not, I was chosen for this mission. And if I failed, then all the patients on life support in the hospital would perish because of me.

But then again, in a sense, wasn’t I the most logical choice for this? Now that I thought about it, it actually made a stupid amount of sense. “Hey, let’s send in the disposable poor kid with a million lives and literally nothing to lose!” I mumbled sarcastically, barely able to hear my own words due to the howling winds.

Now that I thought about it, would I even come back if I died during this mission? Did I have a set number of “get out of Hell free” cards that ran out at some point? I had never been thrown into a perilous situation that allowed me enough time to question my own mortality, and this possibility was weakening what little resolve I had. Would this death…end up being my last?

No. Don’t think about that right now. If you die, you’ll just come back. Like always. I thought anxiously, trying to calm my racing heart but to no avail. The heart that was so valiantly trying to keep me alive, despite knowing that its beats were numbered. How many did I have left?

I squeezed my eyes shut as another gust of wind battered my near-frozen body. This was hopeless. I wasn’t even able to see anything in this blizzard. How was I supposed to find the backup generator when I’m practically blind at this point?

My legs gave out from the cold, and I collapsed, sinking into the foot-thick layer of snow. Shit… I cursed, trying to push myself to my feet. But really, what’s the point? No matter what, I was going to fail. There was just no way…

The static crackle of the walkie talkie the doctor gave me brought me back to my senses. With one shivering hand, I lifted it close to my face, my ears straining to hear what he was saying.

“—ny? This is Team A. Have you continued going north as I last instructed you?”

That’s a good question. Did I? I couldn’t even remember the last time the doctor contacted me, much less what he had said. For all I know, he could’ve called me and I didn’t even hear him, considering how loud the raging snowstorm was.

“I’m…I’m not sure. I just kept walking straight…” I murmured, not even sure if he could hear me on the other end. It had taken all the strength I had just to press the button to communicate. “I still haven’t reached it…and…I don’t think I’m gonna make it…”

Another buzzing. “Team B? If you kept on going straight, then the backup generator should be close by. You’re almost there, Team B. Everyone here is counting on you!”

I lifted my head up, snow brushing up against my exposed face. I winced, the feeling of snow on my bare skin draining away even more of what little warmth I had. I forced my eyes open, straining to see what was in front of me. Hoping, praying, that he was right, and it was just off in the distance. Just like I thought, there was nothing but snow, wind, and…

Wait. There’s something else… A dark speck, but...

That could be it. Against all odds, that could be it. My muscles screaming in protest, I pushed myself up off the ground and struggled through the frozen blanket I had collapsed in. The pain was excruciating, almost unbearable, but moving around was generating just enough warmth to keep me going.

Just keep going. One foot in front of the other. Don’t give up, Kenny. You can do this.

As I moved towards the speck that I saw in the distance, it became less of a speck, and more of a gold-colored lump sticking out of the ground. The moonlight glinted off of it, in a way that confirmed it was, in fact, not snow. The closer I got, the more I was sure of myself. No doubt about it, that was, indeed, the backup generator.

I made it…I fucking made it… I thought, a tired smile on my face. I wouldn’t be letting everyone down after all, things were going to be okay…

“Team B?! Come in! Kenny, can you hear me?”

“Uh-huh,” I replied, shivering too much to form actual words.

“Oh thank God…” he said, clearly relieved that I was still alive. I had to admit, I was pretty damn proud of that fact as well.

“I-I’m h-h-here.”

“You’ve reached the generator?” Another “uh-huh” from me confirmed it, and I stood shivering in silence, awaiting further instructions.

“Okay, there should be two copper nodes, connected to the generator by cords. Do you see them?”

I braced myself against another gust of wind, hastily looking around for what the doctor had described. But seeing the snake-like protrusions put my concerns at ease. They were here. “Uh-huh.”

“Good. Now, is there a wire connecting them?”

I narrowed my eyes, straining to see if there was something binding the two nodes together. There was not. My heart was in panic mode again. Nervously holding down the “talk” button, I gave a very anxious “nuh-uh” into the speaker.

This…this was not good. There wasn’t any wire, which meant that there wasn’t any power. I looked around anxiously, hoping that there was something nearby that could be used to complete the circuit. But save for me and the generator, there was only snow.

Wait a minute…Save for me—!

I stumbled back, my breath coming in short, panicky gasps. I was shivering even more now, mostly due to the anticipation and fear that came over me than the cold of the blizzard. That couldn’t be the only solution. There had to be some other way, this couldn’t—

Through all of my deaths, they had all been accidents. Usually in some ludicrous and inconceivable way. But this… Willingly putting myself through that…? Actively choosing to die? No…I…I couldn’t…

But deep down, I knew this was the only way. As much as I’d like to hang onto that false hope that I would get out of this alive, I knew that no matter what, I was going to die. Either by freezing to death in the blizzard, or going through with this insane, spur-of-the-moment plan of mine. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I left all those innocent people to die, knowing that I could’ve saved them.

My hand shaking uncontrollably, I lifted the walkie talkie up to my face, one last time.

“I’ll…I’ll fucking do it.”

He immediately responded to my last message. “No, Kenny! You can’t make the connection yourself, the voltage will kill you!”

I took a deep breath, releasing my grip on the walkie talkie and letting it fall into the snow. Dragging my frozen feet along the ground, I forced myself to move closer to the disconnected nodes.

Okay…how am I gonna do this? I thought, pondering on what would be the most surefire way to make sure I could complete the circuit. I tugged at my gloves, figuring that exposed skin was more likely to conduct electricity than layers of glove were. I didn’t know if that was true or not, but I pulled them off, just in case.

I heard muffled noises coming from the snow, most likely the doctor messaging me from the walkie talkie, telling me to stop what I was about to do. My heart was practically screaming at me to do the same, frantically beating faster as it slowly became aware of its impending demise. I swallowed nervously.

Goddammit, they make sacrificing yourself seem so easy in movies! And for someone like me, who dies and comes back to life all the time, this should be a piece of cake! So why…is this so hard…?

Turning around, back facing the generator, I lowered myself to my knees, reaching for the copper nodes. Instinctively, I pulled away, wincing as the self-preservation part of my brain started to kick in again.

What’s the holdup? Every second you waste moves those patients at the hospital closer to death. SO QUIT BEING SUCH A FUCKING PUSSY AND JUST DO IT ALREADY!!!

Bending down, my hands hovering over the nodes, I squeezed my eyes shut and braced myself for the pain before latching onto them. I was barely able to register the fact that I was getting electrocuted before I blacked out instantly.


Pain.

What’s going on…?

Pain coursing through body.

It hurts…

Electrical current is shocking me.

Wait, what?!

My eyes snapped open, my brain working feverishly under the extreme circumstances.

I’m still holding the nodes. I’m being electrocuted. How am I not dead yet? How did the electrical current not pass through my heart?

Feeling my vision beginning to fade out again, I slid my hands further down the cords so I was no longer getting shocked. With what little strength I still had, I stuck the two wires together so the copper nodes were touching. The pain became much less excruciating, and I nearly collapsed to the ground in sheer relief. Taking big, grateful gulps of air, I could feel my body shudder with each inhale and exhale.

While I felt slightly frustrated for not thinking of that idea sooner, I reassured myself that it wouldn’t have made a difference. Sticking the nodes together and leaving them behind wouldn’t have guaranteed the patients’ survival…or mine. They could end up being dislodged by falling snow, or blown away due to the powerful blasts of wind. And in the current situation I was in, I knew I wasn’t completely safe.

Ah…right… There’s still the blizzard to worry about…

While I felt initially grateful for the sheer miracle that was surviving the electrocution, I realized that it was just making things harder in the long run. I was beginning to wish that the electricity killed me, as it would’ve been a quicker and easier way to go. But instead…

I’m going to freeze to death.

I tried to move my legs, just to see if I would still be able to. No dice, they were practically stuck to the ground. I tried to call for help, but my voice was no louder than a whisper. And what’s worse, I wasn’t shivering as much. It wasn’t because I was no longer cold, far from it. It meant that my body was beginning to give up. It was ceasing its efforts to generate heat, and I knew that it was only a matter of time before death claimed me.

I sighed, any resolve I had previously slipping away. Despite all the hell I was put through, all the bitter cold, I was slowly becoming numb to it all. In fact…it almost felt…warm.

No…that’s not what it is. It’s the next stage in dying of exposure…you begin feeling intense heat that isn’t even there.

Indeed, the imaginary heat I was feeling was becoming more and more intense, and soon, it felt like my clothes were being lit on fire. I whimpered in pain, struggling to overcome my urge to disrobe and escape the heat, as doing so would involve letting go of the nodes and dying for nothing.

It’s not hot, you’re not burning… Don’t you dare drop those cords… Get a grip, dude. It’ll all be over soon…

I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to just tough out the heat as best I could. At this point, I was too weak and frozen to do anything about it, and all I could do was suffer in silence. For the first time ever, the universe had me begging for death.

Overtime, the fire began to die down, and the brief numbness I had felt previously began to return, spreading to my whole body. My arms began to lower to my sides, as I was no longer strong enough to keep holding them up. But I still made sure to keep the nodes pressed up against each other, even when I was being engulfed in an overwhelming desire to sleep.

This…actually isn’t so bad… It hurt before, but now it feels kinda nice…

My heart was beginning to slow its beat, not just from my approaching demise, but also due to the serene calm that I was feeling.

Despite all the hell I was put through, despite going through my longest and most agonizing death yet, it was still worth it. Because unlike all those other times, I wasn’t dying because of some freak accident, or for no apparent reason. Nah, I chose this. It wasn’t the most ideal choice, far from it. But because sacrificing myself was the only possible way to save all those innocent lives…well, I didn’t regret a thing.

Sacrificing myself for the greater good… Does that make me some sort of…superhero? Hah…I wish…

Whatever the outcome of this happened to be, I would openly accept either one. Either I would come back as usual, and everything would go back to normal, or this would be my final death, and I would never have to go through anything like this ever again.

I wonder… Is this why I materialized out of thin air like that? Because the universe somehow needed me to do something that couldn’t wait for my natural resurrection? To do…this…? While I didn’t know if my theory was true or not, it offered me some sort of comfort while I was on my way out.

My eyelids were becoming heavier, and I felt more and more disconnected from my body. It was as if my soul was attached to my physical form by a mere thread, and it was on the verge of snapping at any moment. At this point, I was tired of fighting to stay alive. My arms were practically frozen to my sides, there was no way I was dropping the generator cords anytime soon. My body can’t really collapse when it’s rendered immovable. Yeah…I think I’m all set.

You did good, Kenny. Take a break, rest up a little. You earned it.

I exhaled slowly, knowing with certainty that it was my last breath. I allowed my eyelids to slide down, and the blackness became all-consuming. In a sense, it was a comforting feeling, almost like being wrapped up in a velvet blanket. Never before had death felt so…final.

It’s okay…

I’m so tired…

I can rest now…

Going…down…

Fading…

Leaving…

I wonder…what’s next…

I wonder…

I…