- Anansa... this one is my young. H-he is my child.
- -- Animal Man
Appearing in "One Last Flight"
- Maxine Baker (Birth)
Synopsis for "One Last Flight"
It's been one week since Cliff's funeral, and his father Buddy Baker is feeling lonelier than he's ever felt before. He lost his son, and soon after, his wife Ellen left him, taking their daughter Maxine with them. Though his powers remain intact, Buddy himself feels powerless in a world where he could do nothing to stop the loss of his son.
At every turn, it seems the paparazzi are exploiting Cliff's death, and when Buddy sees a headline claiming that Cliff's death might have been a hoax at convenience store, he loses control, and destroys the magazine display. As the cashier threatens to call the cops, Buddt spots a spider crawling over one of the scraps left from the magazines, and is troubled by a memory.
Four years ago, Buddy had been fighting a super-villain called Biowulf, and it was quite a struggle. Despite Detective Krenshaw's opinion that they should call in the bigger guns, Buddy insisted that he could bring down the creature on his own. Though he was outmatched, Buddy discovered a weakness in Biowulf's biotech armour, and destroyed it, causing the creature to revert to a human form. As it turned out, Biowulf had once been Dr. Warren Stump, a scientist who had gone missing recently.
After foiling the doctor's crimes, Buddy received a call from a very pregnant Ellen, reminding him to pick Cliff up from school. Though he had forgotten, Buddy was able to make it on time with the speed of a peregrine falcon on his side. Cliff was notably excited to see his father arriving in full super-hero garb, impressing the other kids as he swept Cliff up in his arms, and carried him home. On the way, Cliff wondered whether the new baby would have powers like Buddy. His father had to admit that he had wondered about that himself. Cliff explained that he asked because he wished that he could have been born with powers too. Smiling, Buddy promised that whether Cliff had powers or not, the boy was his son, and always would be.
While stopping to buy some pomegranate juice that Ellen had requested, Cliff heard sirens, and encouraged his dad to hurry out and help the police. Though Buddy was reluctant, he followed his son outside. There, they learned from Detective Krenshaw that a homeless man had been shouting about spiders crawling out of the sewers. Though they had initially thought to ignore the claims as the ravings of a madman, the massive spider-webs in a nearby alley made them think better of it. Begging Cliff to stay put, Buddy attempted to track whatever might have spun the webs.
After touching the webs, Buddy blacked out, haunted by a nightmare of his body transforming into that of a monstrous spider. When he came to, he learned that a group of massive spiders had charged the police barricade and taken everyone - including Cliff. Worried for his son's life, Buddy leapt down into the sewers to find him. A sudden ring from his phone startled him, and while he tried to bluff some more time for himself to solve the situation, he soon learned that something big required his attention at home as well: Ellen had gone into labour. Promising to meet her at the hospital, the sight of the giant spiders coming for him made him drop his phone.
Angrily, he lashed out at them, demanding to know where Cliff was taken, but the spiders had a way of getting inside his head. Channelling a lion, Buddy frightened them away with his roar, but chased after them. He was surprised to be lead to a chamber where the human captives had been trapped within cocoons, presided over by a strange, pale woman.
Threatening, the woman attempted to communicate with a series of clicking sounds. Buddy raised his hands, hoping to calm her, explaining that he would not let her hurt these people. Her reaction expressed confusion, so Buddy decided to simply take his son down, and try to talk it out later. The woman's reaction then was violent, grabbing him up, and encasing him within his own cocoon. Soon, Buddy's mind was invaded, and he heard the woman's voice explaining that her young feed both on flesh and mind. Her name was Anansa, and until recently, she had only used small animals to feed her kind, but since discovering humans, whose minds are much more exciting, she decided that only humans would do.
Pleadingly, Buddy explained that Cliff was his young, and he wished to keep the boy safe. He sensed that she merely wanted to keep her own young safe, and be left alone. He struck a deal, suggesting that if she would stop feeding on people, he would agree to let her keep the dreams she had already taken from them. With that, Anansa released Buddy from the dream, and freed the other humans. Apparently unhurt, Cliff suggested that they call his mother, to warn her they'd be late. This, of course, reminded Buddy that they had to get to the hospital, still.
Channelling the fastest animals he could think of, Buddy rushed to the hospital just in time. Before going in to meet his new little sister, Buddy warned Cliff not to tell his mother about Anansa, and together, they met Maxine for the first time.
After that night, Buddy had gone back to find Anansa, and help her find a new home for her brood. Now, hoping to connect with someone, Buddy returns to that place, and calls on the spider queen. It takes a moment for her to remember him, but she is not upset to see him when she does. Sadly, Buddy admits that he lost his son, and she understands that Cliff is gone. Through tears, Buddy begs her to give him something of Cliff's to keep; the dream she took. Placing her hand over his eyes, Buddy begins to dream the dream that his son had had - a happy one of being carried in his father's arms through the sky as he had been earlier on the day Maxine was born.
When the dream is finished, Buddy thanks Anansa, and curls up in her comforting embrace.
- This book was first published on July 31, 2013.
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