“I can’t believe that happened,” Miyuki Sato said as she pulled her shirt off over her head. She stood in front of the mirror and shook her long hair back into place before returning her attention to Lenard Harris.
“Shit happens,” Lenard replied with the usual smirk. “That’s why they call them accidents.”
“I know…but still.”
“Don’t worry. I’m not hurt.”
“What do you think I’ll do without you?” Miyuki countered as she turned to her reflection once more.
Lenard in the meantime watched with admiration as the tips of her ebony locks caressed her erect nipples. His eyes trailed her physique, remaining a little longer on her flat stomach and the vertical slit of her belly button before roaming to her tiny waist and toned buttocks.
The two of them had been riding earlier on one of the many bicycle paths within the city. They had been attempting to cross traffic at one of the places where the main road intersected the path when a careless motorist knocked Lenard from his cycle. He was going to run him over but Miyuki’s frantic screams caused him to slam on his breaks. When he’d realized what he’d done, the man had emptied the contents of his stomach at the side of the road. However, with the exception of his torn riding shorts and smashed sunglasses, Lenard had not sustained any injuries.
The driver had given his name as Howard, profusely apologized for his lackadaisical way of driving, and had been grateful when Lenard agreed not to call the police to report the incident. He’d also gone as far as to joke about Lenard being the Man of Steel due to the lack of injuries he’d sustained.
“I thought you were invincible before,” Miyuki was saying, drawing him out of his unpleasant thoughts. “But you have to fight.”
“Fight, Lenard. You have to fight.”
“What are you talking about? Fight what? Fight who?” Lenard stumbled for understanding.
“You’re my hero. You’re my super…hero. Fight, Lenard.”
“What are you talking about?
“I had a dream last night,” she replied, turning to him once again. She had removed her underpants without him realizing, donned a pink bikini bottom and was looping the straps of the top over her head. Now there was a distant look in her eyes as she continued. “The dream I had last night came true.”
“What dream…what are you talking about?”
“Lenard, I dreamed this entire day. Everything from the moment we woke up to the time we left the house to the exact place of the accident. It was all as though I were living an extended déjà vu, a very, extended déjà vu. And honey…” Tears were starting to well in her eyes. “Remember, I had told you that you were changing. At the time I didn’t realize why or how, I just knew that you meant a lot to me, that you were my hero. Last night I dreamed that you were my superhero, and you will have to fight what is coming,” she finished, wiping away a stray tear.
“Miyu,” Lenard replied, using her affectionate nickname. “You’re not making any sense. What are you talking about?”
“You’re strong, Lenny. I know you are.”
She’d finished lacing her bikini top and had put on a white shirt over her beachwear, covering her small but shapely breasts. Walking over to where he sat on the couch, Miyuki leaned in, placed her arms around his neck, and gave him a kiss. Lenard eagerly returned her ardor, hugging her around the waist and trailing his hands down to her butt.
Their moment of passion was interrupted when the front door exploded on its hinges.
“I am Gate Keeper!” a voice bellowed. The walls trembled from the monstrous echo and with each step the intruder took, the apartment groaned and buckled.
Lenard quickly placed his girlfriend behind him and rushed to confront the interloper but quickly stopped in his tracks when he saw whom he faced. The invader’s head scraped the fifteen-foot ceiling of their abode and his frame—which was nearly as thick as it was wide—silhouetted the door casing and wall he had just crashed through. His hands were twice the size of Lenard’s head; his chest, biceps, and forearms seemed carved of solid rock and bulged against his black-and-white horizontally striped T-shirt. Even his enormous face was accentuated with muscle as he bore his teeth in a menacing sneer.
“I’m here for you, Hero!” he growled.
“Fight, Lenny. Fight,” Miyuki whimpered as Lenard began to retreat from the imposing figure.
Seeing his love frightened, he did something he did not think possible. He charged screaming at the monster, hoping his sudden action would catch him unaware and…do what, he didn’t know, but something.
To his surprise, his initial attack did take his enemy by surprise, and he was able to land a solid uppercut to the right side of his face and a hook to the left. His foe was rocked momentarily but regained his balance and countered with a backfist. Lenard ducked and felt the wind from the blow rush past his head. Gate Keeper’s mitt smashed through the wall, creating a gaping wound and a spiderweb of cracks.
Roaring in fury, he lunged forward, kicking at his crouching opponent. Lenard jumped back to avoid the blow but was not quick enough and was knocked, winded, into the living room.
“I’ve come for you, Hero!” Gate Keeper bellowed again as he advanced on his downed foe.
“Fight, Lenny!” Miyuki said again.
“Fuck that!” Lenard replied. “Run!”
He grabbed Miyuki from where she sat on the couch, and together they bounded for the back entrance and the fire escape.
“You can’t run, Hero!” his enemy hollered.
Lenard could feel the building quiver from the force of Gate Keeper’s pursuit. He and Miyuki made quick work of the three flights of stairs, then pelted out of the alley and onto the street. Normally the avenue was congested with human traffic, but inexplicably, today found it eerily deserted. It was as though the neighborhood had heard the commotion from his apartment and had wisely decided to stay indoors.
“You cannot escape the Gate Keeper, Hero!” The bellow reverberated down the street.
As they fled past the houses—some with their immaculately tended lawns, others dotted with cracked, rusted pink flamingos and other gaudy ornamentation—the occasional curtain pulled back to reveal a curious onlooker before being quickly replaced. At the first cross street they banked right, and Lenard was surprised to see some elderly people ambling along the sidewalk.
“Quick, get inside!” he yelled as they sped past.
At the far end of the street lay the recreation center with its empty playground. Lenard could see from the distance that the swing, slide, and even the jungle gym were in exceptional condition in spite of constantly being exposed to the elements. Obviously the staff at this particular location took pains to ensure that the equipment remained attractive to children and parents alike.
The two sped down the long street and were crossing the grounds when a bald-headed little boy suddenly came out from around a corner of the building. The pair halted in their tracks.
“You shouldn’t be here,” the boy said.
“Neither should you! Get inside!” Lenard yelled to him.
“It’s OK, but you shouldn’t be here,” he said again. His attention focused on Lenard’s girlfriend.
“Go! Run!” Lenard screamed as he gave the child a gentle push back toward where he had emerged. The couple took flight once again.
Suddenly Miyuki halted and yanked on his arm to stop him. “You have to fight,” she said.
“I tried,” he replied, “And it didn’t do any good. That guy’s a monster. How the hell can I beat him?”
“You must. You can’t give up.”
Gate Keeper rounded the corner, his powerful footfalls causing the ground to quake. The swings pitched back and forth from the distant force of his stride.
“I tried to fight him,” Lenard said again.” I don’t know who he is or what he wants.”
“You know who he is, Lenny. Every hero has an enemy. He’s yours, and you can fight it and win.”
“Why’s he my enemy? What did I do to him? I didn’t even know I was a hero until today. How does he even know me?”
“It knows you, Len. It’s always known you. It was only waiting for this moment to make itself seen. You can do it, Len. You have to believe that you can, and you have to fight.”
Seeing the desperate look on the face of the women he loved gave him the determination to try. He didn’t know what his powers were or how he had come to have them. In some ways he was reminded of the TV program he’d heard his parents talk about. It had been called The Greatest American Hero, and was centered on an ordinary guy who’d been given a super suit by a race of aliens. Unfortunately, he’d lost the instructions, so he had to discover its powers on his own.
Lenard didn’t think of himself as a great hero, he was just an ordinary guy who up until now had been resigned to never being anyone of importance. Now here he was…a hero—no, a superhero—fighting against an unknown foe. The one thing he did know, however, was that the woman standing by his side meant the world to him. Her faith and belief in him would provide the strength he would need to win this battle. He had always believed that with her, he could do anything.
Placing his love behind him, he turned to meet his oncoming enemy.
“At last, you realize that you cannot run, Hero,” his nemesis growled. “Now, come and meet your fate.” A blow from his powerful arm shattered the trunk of a large oak that overhung the road. As it toppled to the ground, Gate Keeper caught it overhead and hurled the large missile at Lenard.
Knowing that if he evaded the projectile, it would hit and crush the love of his live, the newly discovered hero braced himself. In his mind he imagined what his favorite comic book character would do, and just like the real Man of Steel, he rocketed toward the oncoming object. Then soaring up, he captured it from underneath and flew with it high into the air. Finally, with all the might he could summon, he flung the broken timber back at his enemy.
Gate Keeper easily deflected the tree away, and it crashed through a nearby house. Lenard prayed that there was no one inside. He did not want to save his own life at the expense of another. But he had to do something, anything within his new powers to stop this menace. It was now time to take the fight to the enemy.
In dispatching the tree, his foe had left himself unguarded. Swooping down before his opponent could fully recover, Lenard picked him up and carried him into the sky. Though Gate Keeper rained blows down onto his back, the hero held tight, and when he judged that they were high enough, spun and threw his foe back toward the earth. Several homes shook on their foundations from the concussion of the impact, and the pavement radiated in waves of flying asphalt.
Keeper rebounded from the assault almost immediately, standing straight and tall with a sneer upon his face.
“No, Hero!” he called. “You cannot defeat me. I never lose!”
With that, he vaulted up—one massive fist extended—and caught the hero with a devastating uppercut. Lenard reeled from the force of the impact. An ordinary human chest and face would have exploded from the blows of Keeper’s humongous fists, but thanks to his newly found resilience, he was only winded.
Before he could reorient himself however, Gate Keeper attacked again and again with powerful flying uppercuts, knocking him higher and higher into the sky. Each time his enemy landed, the concrete exploded into shards that smashed through houses, cars, and trees. The destruction was immense, and once again, Lenard prayed that there would be no collateral damage.
Although dazed, he could get a good lay of the city. The streets were not as deserted as he had first thought. People were out walking in small pockets here and there. More alarming was an elderly woman rounding the corner, seemingly unaware of what lay ahead. Lenard refocused and dove toward the unsuspecting victim, but Keeper followed his gaze and was unbelievably fast. He pounced toward the lady, who was still either oblivious to her imminent death or welcomed its release. Scooping her up in his gigantic paws, he held her high overhead with his mouth opened unnaturally wide. To Lenard’s horror he pulled. She snapped in half at the midsection. Blood and entrails flowed down his throat. Then he stuffed the halves into his craw, licking the blood that had splattered onto his hands and forearms.
“No!” Lenard screamed.
“Yes, Hero!” Gate Keeper cried as he delivered a backhand that knocked his prey to the ground. Immediately he resumed his attack, throwing a flurry of punches but inflicting little damage as his assault was parried, albeit barely.
Seeking to escape, Lenard leaped into the air, and as he did he scanned the ground beneath him looking for Miyuki and the strange child. However, in the fray he and his opponent had moved a few blocks away from where the battle had initially began. Part of him wanted to get back to her but another more reasonable part told him that if kept his distance, then Gate Keeper could not do to her what he’d done to the old woman.
Miyuki was his everything. When he had thought of giving up on college, she had given him the strength and willpower to continue. Recently, they had begun discussing their future after graduation. They would get married when they finished college and start having children a year or two afterward. At first, Miyuki was not sure that her parents would accept a black son-in-law, but after they had both spoken with her family on Skype, those fears had been laid to rest.
Now he refused to lose sight of his love. If not for her encouraging him to fight, making him believe in himself and his new abilities, the enemy would have already destroyed him and their future. The thought brought him clarity, and as Keeper launched another bombardment Lenard repulsed the onslaught with a double-fisted overhead smash.
His assailant fell back to the ground with Lenard diving in pursuit, driving him deeper into the ground with massive punches to his face, throat, and chest; anywhere that provided an opening. When he grew weary of punching, he turned to stomping. Jumping up and down; forcing his foe into the bowels of the earth. He figured the ensuing damage to the neighborhood would be repaired; the authorities might even thank or reward him for stopping the menace, but little did that matter to him. All that he could focus on was protecting a future for Miyuki.
Gate Keeper seemed dazed by the punishment Lenard had inflicted. Dazed but unharmed, he grinned up at Lenard with that unnaturally large orifice. The eight teeth lining the top and bottom of his mouth were nearly the size of the hero’s head. He raised a hand to seize Lenard’s foot, but Lenard kicked it away and proceeded to jump on his enemy’s face.
“Leave-me-alone!” he yelled in time with each of his leaps.
“You cannot defeat me, Hero,” Keeper grinned back.
“I can and I will, you bastard!”
“No, Hero. No one can defeat me, for I am eternal.”
“I will find a way. You will pay for killing that old lady, you will pay—”
He was cut off in mid-stride and sent careening from the crater by a solid punch. He landed winded on his back, with the clear blue sky filling his vision before it was replaced by the sight of his beloved looking down at him in concern.
“Miyuki, how did you get here so soon?”
“I’m here, Lenard. You’re doing good. Keep fighting,” she replied.
“I don’t know how to beat him. I don’t know who he is or what he wants.”
“You’re doing good,” Miyuki repeated. “Keep fighting. You can do this.”
“No, I can’t. We have to run. We have to get out of here.”
“Fight, Lenny. Fight—”
He cut her off by lifting her in his arms and springing into the air. He didn’t have a destination in mind; all he wanted to do was put distance between Gate Keeper and himself. At least until he could figure out what to do and what his new powers were. He already knew that he was seemingly invulnerable and could fly, but…what else? What other inherent weapons did he have at his disposal? For that matter, who the hell was this Gate Keeper? Where had he come from?
With so many questions and so few answers, he decided to go to the place where he’d felt the safest, where he’d had the happiest times in his life. He flew to his old neighborhood, circled his old high school, and headed for his teenage home. Using X-ray vision he didn’t know he had, he looked inside and found that it was deserted. Landing in the backyard, he gently set Miyuki down and paced a few feet away.
“You can do this, Lenny. I know you can,” Miyuki said after leaving him to his thoughts for a moment.
“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I can do,” he countered.
“You can fight, Lenny. You have to—”
“You keep telling me to fight! That’s all you keep saying! There has to be more. There has to be a reason why he’s after me.”
“You just have to hold on…fight.”
“Stop saying that!” he yelled. “Why do I have to? Why can’t I just fly outta here? Why can’t I just fly us outta here? Why must I fight?” He sank to his knees in the plush, green grass.
Memories flooded back to him of the young, skinny teenager who used to love to mow the lawn. He remembered the minor struggle of pushing the then-heavy mower up the slight incline of the yard, and the joy of going back downhill while controlling the machine with one bony finger. He remembered the small garden that his mother had planted off to the side against the slightly rotted fence. The tool shed on the opposite side where he’d kept his bicycle. He remembered the day when he’d punctured his rear tire on an exposed piece of metal on the sliding door. The damp, musty odor inside. The rusted tools his father kept.
Those were happier times. Times long gone. Times that in many ways he longed to have again, as impossible as that was. Then again, it was also impossible to be a superhero with the ability to fly, but here he was.
Miyuki walked over and stroked his shaved head. Cupping his chin in her hands, she forced him to look into her eyes.
“You fight because you have to. Because I need you to,” she said
Gazing into her beautiful light-brown pupils, he saw a mixture of hope and desperation. Gladness and sorrow. He searched for understanding, for purpose, for determination, and was rewarded. Not with what he sought, but with something else. He was rewarded with the knowledge that he could not live without her and that she needed him as much as he needed her.
Their tranquil moment came to an abrupt end when his childhood home shattered. The force of the explosion propelled them both across the yard. Lenard was able to maneuver himself into position so that Miyuki would land on top of him thereby cushioning her fall. Together they flew backward through the wooden fence and the neighboring yard to smash through the wall of the opposite house. When they landed, he rolled over to further protect her from any falling debris.
Before the dust could settle, a mammoth hand grasped his head from behind, lifted him off the ground, and proceeded to repeatedly slam him face first into the walls of the home—causing more brick, mortar, and wood to rain down—and then into the dirt of the yard. Gate Keeper then flung him back toward the ruins of his previous home to land on a heap of broken, jutting wood and crumbled stone.
Picking himself up from the rubble, his first thought was of Miyuki. Unfortunately he did not have long to worry about her safety, for his opponent was on the attack once more. Bounding from the adjacent property in three powerful strides, his attacker shouldered Lenard through the ruined home and across the street into another house.
This one, unfortunately, was not deserted. A young girl appearing to be in her late teens rose from the couch where she had been sitting in a daze; a needle dangled from her arm. Gate Keeper quickly reached out and crushed her head with one hand. He then snatched the decapitated body by the legs as it slumped to the floor. Holding it like a grotesque Popsicle, he bit it in half. Gore splattered on the wall behind the sofa. Using the remainder of the corpse as a bludgeon, he swatted at Lenard, sending him head over heels through the large glass window of the living room before devouring what was left of the girl.
“None can escape me!” he bellowed, then charged Lenard once more. Blood and feces oozed from the corner of his mouth, and he wiped it away with the back of his hand before slamming his palm into his opponent. He was like a child pounding a doll into soft mud, each blow driving the figurine deeper into the earth. Lenard neither knew how he was able to withstand such an attack, nor how much more he would be able to take.
In the back of his mind he could hear Miyuki’s words, forcing him not to give up, offering him a reason to persevere. But he also realized that he would need to find the strength within himself. She was his guide to the cache, but she couldn’t give him what he would need to continue. He would have to do it himself.
Digging deep within, he searched. He looked for what he needed to fight. The conviction he needed in order to continue, why he should stand and not run. He found the answer in the end . He would fight because he did not want to cause her pain. He would fight for the future they had planned together. He would fight for the chance to hold her in his arms at least one last time.
Gate Keeper in the meantime had apparently grown tired of driving him into the soil. He reached into the cavity and gripped Lenard one-handed by the ankles. Hauling him up, he swung him around and hurled him toward a row of neighboring houses. As the hero flew through uncountable walls, he saw an assortment of people within each abode. One home held five emaciated black children, their bloated bellies making them appear as though they were in a grotesquely late stage of unnatural pregnancy. These, Keeper grasped in his monstrous fist; popping each swollen midsection like perverted grapes before shoving the limp bodies into his mouth.
A young couple locked in a sensuous embrace was stomped flat by his enemy’s powerful foot before they, too, were consumed in a ruthless act of spite. A soldier sitting dazed with his helmet in hand was rolled into a blood-oozing ball before also being devoured. On and on the carnage continued as Lenard repeatedly crashed through the homes.
When his momentum finally abated and he bounced from the last wall, he fell to his knees, his head a swirling mixture of disorientation and pain. He felt the ground shake as his foe came rushing through the rubble and caught him in the face with a powerful kick. Lenard was sent cartwheeling through the air once more and landed in a near-broken heap.
“You are mine now, Hero!” roared Gate Keeper as he took his time approaching. With each step, Lenard felt his heart sink. He had tried to fight as Miyuki had wanted him to, and he felt anguish at leaving her. Knowing the tears she would shed, the pain she would feel, the future that would not be, but he had fought. He’d discovered an inner strength that he had not known existed. But his foe was mighty and relentless. Every attack he’d tried had barely scratched his enemy. He did not know what else he could possibly have done. What his nemesis’s weaknesses were. How to defeat the unstoppable Goliath determined to end his life.
Maybe it was time to lay down and accept the inevitable. All living things eventually came to an end. Though that end arrived in different ways it happened none the less. Now it was his turn. His body was not broken, but he could feel the pain from Keeper’s assault searing through him. Each step that his enemy took intensified the physical and emotional agony roiling deep within him, and he wanted it to end. If it meant that today would be his last, then he was resigned to his fate. Seeing the devastation his foe wrecked upon innocents tore at his heart, and knowing that his efforts to stop him fell short only magnified the sorrow. He could not go on. His every effort was ineffectual. The horror transpired in spite of his attempts, so it was time to stop. As morbid as the thought was, Lenard felt that one or two people departing the world would be an acceptable price to pay, even if he were included in that fare.
He could hear voices now. It sounded as though the neighborhood was awakening from a dead night’s slumber. From around street corners and houses, people began to emerge. Some were old, some were young. There were singles, couples, groups.
Gate Keeper stopped his approach long enough to snatch a few more victims from the new arrivals and stuff them into his mouth. The repulsion, sorrow, and anger Lenard had felt at seeing the first victim consumed waned. He no longer had any strength for emotions. Laying his head down, Lenard closed his eyes and awaited his end. He had fought a valiant fight, but his foe was far too powerful for him to defeat.
Miyuki appeared over him, tears in her eyes once again as she looked down at her fallen superhero.
“Fight it, Lenny. Please fight it,” she pleaded.
“I tried, Miyu. I really tried, but I’m so tired. I just want to rest,” he heard himself say.
“Don’t give up. Just a little longer. You can do it, I know you can.”
“I can’t, Miyuki…I just can’t.”
“Please, Lenny, hang in there. I love you. I need you,” she whispered the last as though she, too, were giving in to his inevitable demise.
Those words triggered something. Deep within the recesses of his being, they ignited a furnace; a molten pit of determination. And, as he watched Gate Keeper pluck and eat another random victim, the pit erupted.
Soiled and sore, yet determined, he rose. A little shaky at first but the inner heat hardened his stance, supported him when he would otherwise have fallen in upon himself. His body tingled from the newly tapped energy. He could feel it coursing through him, and he knew what he had to do.
“Gate Keeper!” he bellowed.
His enemy paused in the midst of biting the head from another victim. This time it was the small child Lenard had encountered at the recreation center. He shoved the child’s body into his mouth.
“Come, Hero. Let us finish this once and for all.”
Speckles of blood sprayed as he uttered the words. Then he charged once again.
Lenard met him head on. Running at his foe, he ducked the first assault of the mammoth fist and delivered an uppercut, driven by the ferocity of the inner furnace. A full-faced punch followed, staggering his enemy, then another. As Gate Keeper rocked from the blows, Lenard drove one knee into his groin and another into his midsection. As the fire grew within, so, too, did the hero grow until he stood as tall and as thick as his nemesis.
When Keeper doubled over from the attack, Lenard dug his fingers into the flesh of his enemy’s muscular shoulders, picked him up, and slammed him down head first into the ground.
By now a crowd had gathered to watch the melee. The majority of them were elderly, but young faces could be seen here and there. Lenard wanted to yell at them to get back, to stay out of the reach of this heartless beast, but he could not allow himself the distraction. He would protect them even if they didn’t have the wherewithal to protect themselves.
Picking up his foe once more, Lenard slammed him down again. He then turned around with his opponent in hand and catapulted him into the air. As Gate Keeper reached the apex of his flight and began to descend, Lenard leaped up with both hands extended into fists and knocked him further into the sky. Gliding back to the ground, Lenard tried in vain to get the crowd to retreat, but still they seemed oblivious to the danger.
By now, Keeper had began his new descent, and from his trajectory, Lenard could see that he would land in the midst of the congregation, resulting in more deaths, or at the least serious injury. Being a hero meant that you not only protected the ones you loved but everyone. It also meant that you had to do things that you might not have otherwise thought yourself capable of. Today was a day of discovery for Lenard. His invulnerability was new, his super strength was new, his power of flight was new. He now hoped that he had at least one more special power.
He focused on his falling opponent while seeking deep within himself, feeling the strength of the forge, the energy and determination it gave him. Lenard then concentrated this puissance through his eyes in the form of pure white flame directed as his enemy. Gate Keeper ignited upon contact, becoming a falling, writhing mass of fire. The hero did not relent and kept focusing more and more of the blaze at his foe.
Long before he could impact among the crowd, Keeper exploded into a shower of ebony flakes that fluttered to the ground, covering the horde and the grass in thick black soot. Only then did Lenard ease on his siphon of inner strength, eased, but not released.
“You cannot defeat Gate Keeper!”
The words echoed from all around, and to Lenard’s horror, his enemy multiplied from within the gaggle. It was as though the ashes had taken root and sprung an aggregation of new menaces.
“I come for one! I come for all!”
Each of the new enemy started to devour victims. Reaching left and right, they bit into torsos, removed heads, tore limbs from bodies as blood splashed them and others in the crowd. Some in the crowd, however, were lucky enough to vanish before they could be taken.
“You win this day, Hero, but I will be back for you! None can escape Gate Keeper!”
The carnage surrounding him continued, but started to become translucent; fading before his eyes to be replaced with a white ceiling and florescent tube lighting.
“Nurse, nurse, he’s waking up!” he heard Miyuki’s voice say. It seemed to be coming from a distant tunnel.
“I’ll get the doctor,” a female replied. Hurried footsteps followed.
More words were being spoken through a haze. He didn’t know how long he’d remained in that state of incomprehensibility, but eventually recognition blazed again as he felt his eyelids being opened and a blinding light shone into them.
“You’re a very lucky young man,” he heard a male voice say. “Very lucky indeed.”
“What…what happened…Gate Keeper…” Lenard croaked.
“You were hit by a car three days ago while riding your bicycle. You’ve suffered severe head trauma.”
A face came into focus in front of the hanging lights. It wore a goatee speckled with gray on the chin and close-cropped dark hair with more gray at the temples. Blue eyes peered from behind rectangular glasses. A stethoscope hung around his neck over his medical jacket like a medallion.
“Yes. This young lady never left your side,” the doctor continued, indicating someone across from him with a motion of his head.
With effort, Lenard followed the direction indicated and saw Miyuki standing off to the side. Her eyes were raw, and her hair appeared to have not been touched by a brush or comb in days, but she wore a look of relief upon her face. He offered her a smile.
“We didn’t think you would make it,” the doctor was saying. “But she never gave up. She stayed with you constantly, talking to you, encouraging you to fight.”