Written by Saul Castillo-Saenz (@SoulCastleFilms)
Casey Brinke had just been on her latest adventure in Danny Comics after Cliff tried to take over the entire universe as Planet Cliff. She was back at her place of origin, and while she continued to have many adventures, she desperately missed her friends and makeshift family, the Doom Patrol. She wanted nothing more than to return to reality, but she also knew that she had made the right choice in sacrificing herself to save everyone.
But one day, she suddenly found herself transported to the White Space, the space between realities. She had only heard the stories of this mysterious place from Flex Mentallo, and even she didn’t know what to really expect.
It was pure white, infinite space, with only Casey. Even though it was nothing but nothingness, it was still quite beautiful.
Casey looked around and began to walk. She immediately noticed the smell was similar to that of a copy shop, like fresh hot paper taken off a printer.
“There’s gotta be someone here, I can’t be the only one.”
She continued to walk and finally saw something in the distance, a little black spot. It was hazy, like a little dust cloud. It wasn’t much to go off of, but it was something to check out.
As she walked closer toward the black spot, the detail began to clear up. It was a black hole; swirling around, turning the surrounding White Space into a macabre grayish matter. As it sucked up the White Space, it grew larger and larger.
“What’s this doing here? I thought nothing could affect the White Space.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.”
Casey suddenly turned around and saw someone she thought she would never see again; her old girlfriend and only daughter of Mr. Nobody, Terry None. Casey just stood in complete shock at Terry.
“Terry?” She begins to make her way toward her.
“Terry! I can’t believe you’re alive!” But Terry suddenly teleports Casey in the opposite direction of where her hug was directed, right in front of the black hole.
“Go away, Casey.” Casey makes her way back toward Terry, walking at a brisk pace.
“But, Terry, I’ve been trying to find you for so long! I had no idea where you went and everything was just so crazy, I–”
“JUST GO AWAY, CASEY!”
Casey was taken aback by what Terry’s shouting, and she stopped walking.
“But, why Terry? We need to get out of here!”
“Casey, I came here willingly.”
She stopped, dead in her tracks.
“… What? Why would you do that?” Casey gets a little bit closer to Terry, before Terry steps back.
“After the whole Milk Wars fiasco, I wanted to find a place where I could be alone and collect my thoughts, especially the negative ones. And little did I know that my thoughts would turn into that.” She pointed to the big black hole behind Casey.
“It wasn’t always that large. It started out small. But, as time went on, it kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger until it was too late to do anything about it. Now it’s only a matter of time before that thing takes over the entirety of the White Space.”
“But why banish yourself, Terry? I mean, didn’t you want to come back with me and the Doom Patrol?”
“You think I wanted anything to do with you guys after what happened? After the $#!+ hit the fan, I… I just wanted to die. I wanted the pain to go away. But I’m a Nobody, I can’t die. So I did the only logical thing I could do, banish myself to the White Space for eternity. But now I have that-” she points to the Black Hole. “-to keep me company forever.”
“But-but I’m here now! You don’t have to be alone, Terry!”
“What part of me being alone didn’t you understand?! My father was right! Everything we do is pointless! Entertainment can only last for so long, people leave, people die, and you end up alone! $#!+ happens and we’re the ones that end up having to clean it up!”
“Terry, I don’t know what else your dad told you, but that’s not true! Life isn’t meaningless! Your dad is just a sad little man that wants everyone to feel as awful as he does!”
Terry walked past Casey toward the Black Hole and began to manipulate it. The darkness began to turn into an assortment of other colors and images began to clear up.
“Oh, no? What about your precious Doom Patrol? They were dealt with the $#!+iest of all hands, they try to be the good guys and nobody even likes or even thinks to thank them for what they’ve done!”
She conjured up an image of the first iteration of the Doom Patrol, consisting of the Chief, Robotman, Elasti-Woman, and the Negative Man.
“And how did their story end? With them dying to save the world! What do you call that?”
“It’s called being a hero, Terry! That’s what we are!”
“Oh, being a hero means dying to save an ungrateful world, huh?” Her comment caught Casey off guard, who looked at her in shock.
“… If that’s what it takes, then yes.”
“People love watching others fail, that’s why we have America’s Funniest Home Videos. And superheroes are no different!”
“But the Doom Patrol always gets back together when the world needs them.”
“Oh, yeah, they come back. In even worse conditions than before.” Terry manipulates the Black Hole, showcasing the new Doom Patrol in a far more dreary manner than before.
“Your precious Robotman in a mental hospital, Rita nowhere to be found, and Jane driven crazy by her abusive father. And the cherry on top? The Chief manipulated every single member just so he could have his own little discount Justice League.” The Black Hole shows the Chief preparing each and every ‘accident’ that would give each member their powers.
“Hey, they told me the Chief wasn’t to be trusted!”
“And yet you fell for his little sob story?”
“I thought I could change him. But I had to learn the hard way that just because you want someone to change, doesn’t mean that they will.”
“Oh, you learned something! Well, that already puts you ahead of the Chief in regards to your ego! But even without the Chief to screw things up, the Doom Patrol still fails!”
“Terry, what are you getting at?”
The Black Hole immediately changed, showing the next roster of the Doom Patrol.
“Kate Godwin, also known as Coagula, wanting so desperately to be a hero, got rejected by the Justice League just because of who she was. Found a home in the Patrol, but then? Suddenly dies.”
The Black Hole then showed a sort of rebooted Doom Patrol, with a far grittier look and feel than compared to previous iterations. Dull colors, rough designs, and even more dreadful adventures.
“And this Patrol? Don’t even get me started! Out of all them, this one is without a doubt my least favorite.”
“You know what? I’m actually inclined to agree with you on that one. Don’t know why, something’s just… off about them.”
“Well, you’re not the only one to feel that way. But, after all that, we finally get to you and your newfound family.”
The Black Hole finally showed Casey’s Doom Patrol, composed of bright, beautiful colors, filled with a sense of hope and adventure.
“Yeah, things started out pretty well, huh? You had a good job, good friends, and then? You met me and Cliff. Then the Doom Patrol, once again making messes that you made in the first place.”
The images shown involved Casey who saw the destruction of her home after rescuing Cliff. Then she witnessed the famed Robotman fighting off the vile Vectra down below in the streets, chaos spilled out everywhere.
“All this happened because of you, Casey.” She pointed a judging finger at her.
“I couldn’t just leave him!” She raised her arms in a defensive position.
“And how did you know he wasn’t dangerous? You didn’t know who he was, what he was capable of.”
“I just had a gut feeling.”
“Oh yeah, right, your gut feeling. Feelings that were put there by Danny, feelings that weren’t even yours to begin with. You’re Nothing.”
Casey froze. She faced her fair share of villains and got hurt plenty of times, but those words? They stung more than any villainous act.
“… You don’t mean that, Terry.”
“I do. You’re Nothing and the Doom Patrol are nothing… but losers. Everytime they’re given the Reboot Treatment, they only last for so long until it’s time for them to go underground again.”
And so, the Black Hole shifted its shape and colors. What appeared in the swirling vortex of nothingness was the Doom Patrol’s greatest hits; their tragic origins all orchestrated by Niles Caulder, dying to save the world, receiving the worst of endings to their stories, returning in ways that many would find overwhelming gritty and tone-deaf, and so on.
“They lose again and again and again. And the most surprising thing? They’re not the only ones who lose.”
The Black Hole conjured up images of new faces.
A troubled young man with a black hole in his chest.
A suicidal government agent suffering from depression and lack of motivation.
A rich young woman stuck in the future desperately trying to save her mother.
A changing woman who became a changing man only to become forgotten.
A Green Lantern riddled with guilt and doubts about her faith in the justice system.
“They may all look different, but deep down they’re all the same;
“Just like me?”
“No, you’re a Nothing. I’m a Nobody and Nobodies never amount to anything. You’re just the opposite, you’re nothing but a blank slate. A blank slate can be anybody, everybody! And when you’re everybody, then you’re really nobody. And I was just unlucky enough to be the only Nobody to actually care about you, and look where that got me!”
Casey winced at the vile words and a blank look appeared on her face.
“These people, including you, have failed what? Dozens, hundreds of times? But you just keep trying in the hopes of obtaining a different result? Is that not just insanity? Here’s some advice for you. Be here and be like me and this White Space. Be nothing, be nobody, be anything but anything. Be like me.”
The Black Hole lost its color and reverted back to its dark palette.
Casey stared at the Black Hole as it stared back at her, swirling around the White Space as it grew larger.
Casey’s eyes transformed from emerald green to inky darkness. Completely entranced by the Black Hole, she moved closer to it as Terry watched in anticipation.
But as Casey moved closer, she wasn’t sure if it was just her or if the Black Hole wanted to show her something, but she started to see something in the swirling vortex.
She saw her beginning in Danny Comics, her parents who despite everything still loved each other, the Doom Patrol who became her new family.
And then there was her son, Milkman Man.
She stops making her way toward the Black Hole and her eyes revert back to normal.
“What are you doing? You were so close!”
“Do you miss him?”
“Our son, Milkman Man.” Terry’s eyes widened.
“… He wasn’t real, what does it matter?” Casey deepened her gaze into Terry’s eyes.
“Do you miss him?”
“Oh come on, Casey! He was as real as you or me, which isn’t saying much.”
Casey continued staring deeply into her eyes, her soul. Terry tried to avoid her gaze, but she just couldn’t turn herself away. Terry’s scowl turned into deep regret, then sadness.
“I… I guess some part of me misses him. I mean, I gave birth to the kid. Didn’t know him for very long; what mother wouldn’t love their own? But it still doesn’t matter.”
“Because it ends.”
“Everything. Sure, the bad times end and then the good times come waltzing in. But then you forget, even the good times have to end too. It’s just a never ending cycle. I’m up, I’m down, happy then sad. If the good times are so good, why do they have to end? Aren’t we allowed to be happy for the rest of our lives?”
Terry took a seat on the ground, right in front of the Black Hole, which was still moving at a consistent pace. Tears began to form in her eyes. And before she knew it, the waterworks couldn’t be held back.
“Why did I have to be a Nobody? Why am I like this? Why do I want to hurt you, Casey?” She covered her face as she continued to sob.
Casey slowly walked up to her and sat down beside her. Close enough to be able to speak to her, but far enough so that she still had her personal space.
“You know Terry, when I found out that I was actually a comic book character, I was pretty pissed off. I mean, we’re talking mad-as-hell here.”
“Well, you’d have to be if you found out you were created by a sentient brick.” Terry laughed through the tears and snot.
“Yeah, that’ll do it,” Casey chuckled. “I was mad, because everything I thought was real about me suddenly wasn’t anymore. My personality, my friends, my family, I felt fake and unimportant. Like I’m just here to entertain people, like some poor party clown who spends his life making people laugh only to cry when he’s all alone.”
“That sounds pretty shitty.”
“Yeah, it is. And I still feel that way sometimes. But then, I realized something. When I met Cliff, Larry and the rest of the gang, I finally felt like I belonged. I wasn’t a mistake anymore, I had found my people and they loved me just for who I was. Including you, Terry.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that, Casey. We had barely met, I was just your new roommate.”
“Well, you were a heck of a lot better than the last guy.”
“Fair point. I still feel kinda bad about turning him into confetti, but at the same time, I really don’t.”
“He was kind of a jerk, but we’re getting off track here. Meeting the Doom Patrol and you, I finally felt real and important. It’s like what you said about me being everybody. Being everybody doesn’t make you a nobody, it makes you empathetic and stronger. You say you’re a Nobody, but you’re not. Your dad is just that. But you have a name, Terry. And the fact that you have a name means that you are somebody. So, what do you get when you combine Everyone and Nobody?”
“… I honestly don’t know, Casey. Mind games are more my dad’s thing.”
“Well, I’ll tell you a secret… I don’t know either, but we can figure it out together. What do you say?” Casey held out her hand. Terry stared at her for a moment, took her hand and shakily stood up. Casey smiled, and Terry smiled back.
“I’m sorry I’m such a mess,” Terry wiped her face.
“Oh, that’s ok, sweetie.” Casey cleaned her face while she caressed her.
The Black Hole in front of them suddenly turned into a portal back to Earth.
“I’m scared, Casey. What if… what if I can’t do this? I’m not like you.”
“Of course not, Terry. You’re you and that’s beautiful. No matter what happens, if we have to kick your dad’s ass, take on aliens, or if we’re in just some weird situation, we’ll face it together.”
They kiss and hold hands as they cross through the portal back to Earth.
Casey felt lighter than air. But more importantly, she felt like she mattered. She finally felt real. Sure, the Doom Patrol made her feel welcome, but being with Terry made her feel human.
Terry didn’t feel as though she completely healed, but she felt much better knowing she was with Casey. To her, just having someone close made her feel safe and cared for. She finally felt like she was Somebody.
The portal then closes and the White Space is blank once more…
THE END… ?