AP Productions: Formerly Known as Brain Boy #6

“I never knew how much pain you carried with you,” Miles Cady whispered into Ryan’s ear, “Although I was aware of how much misery you caused,” he pointed to the video displaying old wedding footage, “It’s good to know you acknowledge that misery somewhere in your psyche.” Cady took a step back, “You have the tool to end this now,” he indicated the gun still in Ryan’s hand, “So why not use it?”

Ryan, still stone-faced, calmly raised the gun, placed his finger on the trigger and squeezed. The gunshot was jarring and loud, drowning out all the chatter coming from the screens along the walls. Blood sprayed across the wood panel floor, followed by a scream. Then Cady fell down, clutching his bloody knee.

“Just so you know, I don’t normally use these things,” Ryan began happily dismantling the gun in his hands, “My initial plan was to use this pen I have in my pocket which releases a sedative gas,” he casually dropped the pieces of the gun on the floor, “But, you asked me to use the gun, so…” As Ryan spoke, Cady agonizingly crawled along the floor, leaving a trail of blood.

“Eyes up front, Cady,” Ryan snapped his finger impatiently, “I know I fell asleep in your class a few times and this is a bit hypocritical of me but I’m showing off my prep-game here and you might wanna pay attention in case you were wondering why it didn’t go so well for you,” Ryan leaned on the Psychic Bomb and thumped it, “I previously assured everyone that this baby was hollowed out and used only as an art piece,” he did his best Maury Povich impression, “The lie detector determined that was a lie.” Ryan paced around the room, “I actually rewired the thing to send my brianwaves out in the ether but only someone with telepathy would pick up on it,” he pointed to Cady, “That’d be you.” Cady sat up and leaned against the wall, trying his best to slow down the bleeding. “Those bad memories and feelings you were picking up? Yeah, I made some lame excuses to visit my parents and Craig Levison just to get all the bad vibes flowing,” Ryan walked along the wall of monitors, gazing at each one, “I wore a device to record all those brainwaves while putting myself through some emotional abuse, y’know, really soak up the childhood trauma. That way, when you showed up, you’d receive these memories and feelings and think it was my current thoughts. You never actually entered my mind” Ryan stopped and reached up to his ear, “I used a trick from the Second Phase. They use cybernetics to block telepathy as you may know,” he removed a metallic bud from his ear canal, “This little guy replicated the same frequency, keeping me perfectly safe from mind-control or telepathic attack.” Ryan knelt down to meet Cady’s eyes, “And now that I’ve removed my little psychic-blocker, I feel a little tickle back here,” he tapped the base of his skull, “I’m guessing that’s you trying to pop my head open like that scene from Scanners. Kinda hard to focus with a bullet wound to the knee, huh?” Ryan stood up, turning his attention toward the sirens approaching in the distance. “We don’t have much more time together so now that I’ve deconstructed my plan, let’s get to yours… You said something about me causing misery like it was some bombshell. Was that supposed to demoralize me and further drive me to self-delete? Did you expect it to be something I didn’t already know and that I would be so distraught I would eat a bullet?,” his eyes fell upon his wedding video, “Were you trying to get me to hate myself? Because, let me tell ya, I don’t need you for that. That’s something that happens every day of my life,” he stopped, a sudden look of realization crossing his face. “Great Scott Nearing!… I hate myself,” he turned to Cady with a bittersweet smile, “Well, old bean, I guess you did give me an epiphany of one kind.”


Days later, in Dr. Ansari’s office, Ryan took a drag from his vape before shoving it back in his jacket, “As it happens, you were right in that I needed to talk about my divorce.”

“I’m glad you’re finally ready,” Dr. Ansari gave him a comforting smile.

“I didn’t realize it at the time, but my reasoning behind cheating on Sade was because I just didn’t think I deserved her. And not just her as a person but also the happiness she brought. As I’ve said before, all the fame and money that’s come along with it has never made me happy, regardless of whether or not I was being exploited by family or a TV producer. I mean, I’m still making millions with various patents and contracts but obviously that has done nothing for my mental stability.”

“Let’s go back to Sade. Were you the one who told her you cheated?”

“I did it the night it happened,” he pulled the vape back out, “I was supposed to meet her for dinner while we were vacationing in Japan but I made a little detour instead, through a red light district. To say she was upset would be to state the obvious and she ended up checking into a completely different hotel that night. I think a big reason why she was upset was because I couldn’t even explain why I did it. I’m aware of the reason why now, albeit too late, but I had no answer in the moment. In her own words, it was the only time in my life that I had nothing to say. I didn’t see her for weeks and when she came back to our home, she gave me divorce papers, which was not surprising at all.”

“What did you say to her when she came to your home?”

“I’m not sure, other than a lot of apologizing. I didn’t even make an attempt to ask her to change her mind. Here’s the thing that really kicked me in the perineal nerves… As she was leaving the house, Labrat was standing there at the door. He looked at her and said, ‘Bye Sade. I’ll miss you.” And she just broke down. I mean, the big guy can break anyone’s heart but it wasn’t just that. She rushed in and wrapped her arms around him and he just stood there silently with his own furry arms around her. Labrat has the mental equivalent of a five year old human. He barely understood what was happening and yet, he knew what to do in that moment: shut up and hug her, two things that didn’t occur to me. Simple, right? And I remember standing there and seeing this with complete social and emotional impotence,” he shook his head and took a drag, “If that doesn’t encapsulate all my personal short-comings, I’m not sure what does.”

“Ryan, how do you think Sade felt in that moment?”

“Sadness? Of course?”

“Of course, but do you realize that even in your breakthrough, you’re focusing on yourself? You’re still not properly addressing her state but rather, you’re feeling sorry for yourself.”

“Ah, I see,” he slouched in his seat and removed his glasses, then rubbed his eyes, “What a mess.”

“But let me ask you this. Let’s say that Miles Cady didn’t target you and was attacking innocent people. Would you have stopped him?”

“Of course.”


“Despite my pessimism and my complete annoyance of humanity, there’s this notion that I could potentially make the world a better place. I remember something Rex Robinson said to me as a kid: no matter how angry at the world I get, I can’t help but save it. I guess he’s right,… I mean, Rex is never wrong, but… I dunno. I’m not sure why I feel that way.”

“Maybe that’s another breakthrough we can work towards.”

That night, he went to LA and got drunk at an upscale bar. Sade lived in the area and he wanted to try to make amends to some extent but decided he needed some “liquid courage” first. After the first round, he realized he was more scared than he initially realized, which required more glasses of courage. He was working on his last martini when a young couple came up to him.

“Sorry but, you’re Ryan Bennings, right?” the young man asked.

At first, Ryan was going to scold him for referring to him as Brain Boy but caught himself as he realized the man used his real name, “Eh,… Yes. Yes, I am.”

“We just wanted to say thank you,” the young woman told him.

“I didn’t have anything to do with that cartoon,” Ryan grumbled, far too drunk and sad to go on a rant.

“No,… Just saving the world and stuff, I mean.”

“Oh,… Right,” Ryan nodded, not sure of what to say, “Don’t mention it.”

The couple left the bar, arms around each other and as they left, he could see them kissing outside the door. At that point, he was the only one in the bar besides the bartender who was busy washing a glass. He decided it was time and took out his phone. In his drunken state, he squinted to see the screen clearly as he dialed and soon heard a familiar voice on the other line.


“Hey, Sade.”


“Yeah, please don’t hang up.”

“Have you been drinking?”

“I have been drinking and continue to drink,” Ryan took a large gulp from his glass.

“What do you want?,” she asked impatiently.

“I just wanted to say sorry.”

“You’ve said that already.”

“I know, I know. I…,” he breathed in and quickly blurted out, “I realize now that I did what I did because I hate myself and I don’t think I deserve happiness or love and it wasn’t fair to you that you had to deal with my hang-ups. My issues should have never turned into your issues.”

“Yeah, I already surmised that was the likely result,” he noticed her voice calming a bit, then she added, “I heard one of your old professors tried to kill you or something? I’m glad you’re okay,” there was sincerity in that last sentence which gave him some resolve.

“Thanks. But, going back to the subject of us,… it was good while it lasted, though. Right? Wasn’t all bad?”

“What do you want me to say, Ryan?”

“I… Well, I was hoping that you didn’t have any regrets, I guess?”

“I’m sorry, but there is regret,” he began to detect hostility returning in her voice, “I thought I could have a future with you. When I met you, you were funny, smart and so easy to talk to but the longer I got to know you, the more I realized you were so caught up in yourself that you could never see what was in front of you. You never talk about your feelings but they were always so obvious to everyone around you except yourself. Meanwhile, it would have been nice if you asked me how I was doing form time to time which, by the way, I usually felt lonely even with you sitting next to me on the couch.”

“Okay, but…,” Ryan finshed his martini, “What is your regret?”

“All of it, Ryan. The whole marriage.”

“I… I know you’re hurt but you don’t have to -“

“I’m actually past being hurt. I really am. You want forgiveness and you have it but I do regret putting time and emotion into a relationship where one party was sabotaging it without even realizing it. Ryan, that hooker was just the last straw. You don’t even realize what led up to it. You are just not emotionally available. That wouldn’t be so bad but, as you said, I was the one who had to pay for it.”

“B-but we had some adventures,” Ryan’s voice was low and barely audible, “We saw the Northen Lights. Remember when -“

“You spent the whole time complaining about some guy on the train who wanted you to sign a stupid action figure.”

“I’m sorry but… I, uh,” Ryan’s voice cracked, “Please don’t say you regret everything completely. I’m not sure I can -“

“You asked the question and I answered,” her voice cracked a bit as well, “Deep down, you’re a good person Ryan. You just… need to get over yourself.”

“Can… Can I ask one more thing?”


“I’ve been drinking as you noticed. Could you… give me a ride to a hotel?”

“Don’t you have a self-driving car?”

“Contrary to popular belief, it is still illegal to be drunk behind the wheel of a -“

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“I just -“

“Goodbye, Ryan.”

She hung up and he silently slid the phone into his pocket. “Get you another round?,” the bartender asked, pretending not to notice Ryan’s state. “No, thanks,” he said softly, “Could you call a taxi for me?”. The bartender nodded and disappeared. Ryan sat staring at the empty martini glass in front of him. Alone.

NOTE: That does it for this storyline, hope you enjoyed it. Next up, I’ll begin the Astra Machina series. Funny enough, the first two issues have been in my drafts for over half a year now. See you then.

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