Josh Garcetti, known in certain circles as the superhero Regenerator, sat in his car and stared at his front door. Specifically, his open front door, the door he'd been assiduously avoiding ever since he'd smuggled his wife's dead body into the house. The front door led right into the living room, where he'd been...keeping...Meredith. Anyone who walked into that door would have seen her, eyes cloudy and teeth clacking, bound to the stretcher.
At least he always made sure to clean up after he gave her her...meals.
Who could have opened the door? He'd made sure it was locked and deadbolted before he left for work this morning, his first set of rounds since the accident. The clinic had assured him he didn't have to come in yet, that he had plenty of leave left, but he couldn't continue to sit in the house with only the confused yowls of the cats and that constant clackclackclack from Meredith. Not even a moan like in the movies; no, nothing so human. Just the sound of chattering as she bit down again and again and again, chewing on air in lieu of his flesh.
Was it a robbery gone wrong, he wondered, slowly getting out of his car and walking towards that damning open door. The Seventeens, maybe? This neighborhood was a little far from their usual haunts, but they still got the occasional stupid crew coming through with their big cars and flashy green bandannas. It wouldn't be his first tangle with the Seventeens as a civilian--that was how he'd discovered his power. One punk with a knife had grabbed Meredith up on Oxford and she'd screamed; Josh had hopped in without thinking, pounding the kid into unconsciousness. And when the fight was over, they'd looked down at his shirt and seen the six bloody holes and the gory knife and the skin below that was sticky with drying blood and not a hole on him.
That had been the beginning of so much. Most specifically, though, the beginning of the end.
He allowed himself a brief moment of hope. Maybe Meredith had come back to herself while he was at work. Maybe the residual power had finally worked it's way up to her brain, lighting up the parts that had gone dark, bringing her back to him at last. He hurried now, closing the last few yards to the door. Maybe she'd managed to work herself free and had left to go looking for him, to find some answers to the questions she surely would have had. Or maybe she didn't remember much of anything and had left afraid and confused, but at least alive--
His foot stepped into something cold and stiff and even before he looked down to verify, he felt his hopes crumble. "Aww, shit," he said, taking a step backwards and feeling his shoe squelch before it was released. "Aww, Lewis. Little buddy I'm so sorry."
There was no way to heal him the way he'd managed with Clarke. Death was a hard line for his powers. Very hard.
Walking slowly into the living room, Josh felt his guts clench. The stretcher was empty, the bonds hanging loose and slack. Blood covered the sides of the stretcher, some of the walls, and led through the door to the dining room. He followed it, knowing what he'd find in the other room, but needing to see for sure. Maybe he'd be lucky and the thing that had been his wife would still be there, hunkered over whoever had played Good Samaritan. That wouldn't explain Lewis in the hallway by the door, but maybe...
Fuck. Resigned and somehow unsurprised, Josh looked down at the body of Mrs. Halifax dead on the dining room floor. She had a key, he remembered dully, a key in case they needed her to feed the cats. There was a casserole dish near her right hand. Her right hand was six feet from her body, along with the rest of that arm where it had been gnawed through. The rest of her was sprawled face up, a look of shock and fear carved into her features where they'd stay that way forever.
"Oh, Mrs. H," Josh whispered. "You just had to be neighborly, didn't you? I told you not to come by, that I didn't want to see anyone--" Which explained why she'd shown up at his door after he'd left for work. She'd intended to kip in, leave something for him to eat, and get out, all so he wouldn't have to see her. This was his fault. This was all his fault.
No. This wasn't his fault. This was the hospital's, this was fate's. Fate had made Meredith hurt herself, fate had given him powers that didn't work well enough, fate had orchestrated the entire shitshow at the hospital. It was horrible, cold, uncaring fate, a terrible cosmic accident. He'd done nothing wrong. That was what played in his head over and over again as he pulled out his phone, called 911 to report something horrible, made sure he sounded confused and distraught enough for the recording. Not my fault, this isn't my fault. Anyone would have done the same, anyone would have tried. There's no evidence, so I couldn’t’ve done anything. I did nothing wrong.
He'd been at the clinic all day; his whereabouts tracked and vouched for by a hundred different witnesses. There was nothing weird in the house but an empty stretcher in the living room, which a grieving doctor could explain with no problem. Oh and a partially-eaten corpse, but, hey, that wasn't his fault. Odds were, the police would chalk it up to some kind of vicious animal attack and by the time the labs came back that proved that human teeth had done that kind of damage, he'd barely even be a consideration anymore.
This was horrible and it was a tragedy, but it wasn't his fault. Just like what happened to Meredith.
Not his fault.
[Warning for mention of a pet and an elderly neighbor gotten by zombie-violence; nothing gratuitous but still wanted to give a head's up. Some small bits of text taken from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines, specifically Chapter 24 "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?" NFI, NFB, OOC is always appreciated.]
- Josh Garcetti's House, Los Angeles, Sunday Evening