Copyright 2016 Katherine Rochholz
All rights reserved as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. No portion of this book may be reproduced by any means, mechanical, electronic, or otherwise, without first obtaining the permission of the copyright holder.
This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead (unless explicitly noted) is merely coincidental.
This is for all those who have ambitions, who want to make a difference, who are different. The world would be nothing without you.
“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” Oscar Wilde
“Don’t try to be a hero. Just try to not become the villain of your story.”
The man standing in the mask growled. “I am no hero; I am just trying not to be the villain.”
The man left the woman and kid he saved at the police department and disappeared into the night.
He left the woman and kid staring into the dark as the police came out to find a tied up mugger would be rapist and his would be victim and kid.
A man who never thought he would have this life.
“There is one moment, one moment that changes the way the world views you forevermore…”
Ronald Wriedt sneered as he walked into his little house. He could not stand this world. But they needed him, rather he liked it or not. He was just looking for redemption for all the things he has done in his thirty-one years. He sat at his desk and looked at the file in front of him.
He sighed. People are, in essence, lazy. We see those who are not as ambitious, greedy, or even evil. The world saw him as evil. Pure evil. He pushed the boundaries in his work.
He just wanted to cure those things that took people from their loved ones. Those that people have deemed the work of the devil himself. Cancer was a big one.
He closed his eyes as an image of his kid sister lying wasting away as the cancer ate at her six-year-old body. He pushed to become a medical researcher. He would cure cancer… one day.
He used the military to pay for his college. But killing as they ordered him to do, his ledger still was bleeding red and always would. For nothing can erase the lives he took.
But this… This saving people thing would help while he fought to not lose himself in his work. His work with stem cells, with cloning, with killing, with annihilating cancer…
Because sometimes he could understand why people called him evil. Because in the end, humans, in essence, are lazy. We see those who are not as ambitious, greedy, or evil.
And sometimes evil is just too greatly misunderstood for that evil to do anything but evil things… but sometimes… just sometimes… rare in fact… from that evil a hero is born.
And as Ronald watched the video of his last failed experiment to annihilating cancer, as the person died in pain, he hoped that he could become that hero as he remembered a promise to his light in this darkness.
Twenty Years Before
Ronald looked at the white hospital bed. He was a fourteen-year-old genius. But nobody needed to be a genius to see what was happening. His sister. His light in the darkness was dying. His father was an abusive bastard and ran off when his sister was only three. Their mother was addicted to pain pills and booze. So for his sister, he pushed through. For his sister, he went to school and worked odd jobs. For his sister, and now she was dying. And there was nothing he could do.
The cancer to advance. An evil in the world that bred evil. The darkness he knew he had inside of him was aching to break free. To make the doctors pay for not saving his light. To make his parents pay for making him feel this pain. To make them pay for not protecting his light. He stood in this hospital room in Iowa City, hours from his home in the middle of nowhere, Iowa; and vowed that even if he had to become a greater evil than cancer, he would destroy this evil that had been unleashed upon the world and took his light.
He moved and took his sister’s hand. “My light. Helen, don’t hold on to the pain. Go home. Go to heaven and I promise you, my light in the darkness, that I will destroy this evil. Even if I have to become a greater one. I love you my Light. My sister. My Helen. I love you.”
The little girl on the bed. “I will always be with you, my king. My savior. My hero. Show the world that hero. Nothing you do will ever make me love you less.”
Ronald cried into her hand. “To wise beyond your years, my sweet sister. I will always hold you close to my heart. My soul. My light. Even if the world is expecting the worst, I will show them the best. I swear to you.”
“I love you, my king. My brother.” Helen stated as she closed her eyes.
Ronald stayed with her. He knew she would not last the night. He knew that she even knew that soon she would be an angel. He was not sure if he believed in God, but he was sure there had to be something for Helen’s soul to find peace in when she was taken so early in life.
It was unfair that she did not get to live and he, who, though smart, was going down a bad path, even if he loved her and tried to not go down the worst path. He avoided the gangs and the drugs. But the violence and the delinquent behavior had gotten him with a juvie rap sheet. He looked at his angel. His sister, his tears, blurred his vision. He stayed and held her hand and cried. It was the early morning hours when the alarms went off. He stayed with her as she took her last breaths. He had gotten his mother to sign a DNR for Helen. The pain was too much, and he never wanted his sister in pain. Never. He closed his eyes in pain as the doctor declared her death. January 1st 1999 0115 hours. It was the day the light that kept his darkness back flickered and thought to have went out. Instead, it dimmed and went to the back of his soul for when it was needed. Until then, the light seemed to know the boy, the young man, needed to work out his grief with the darkness.
Ronald Wriedt stared at the small grave. It had been two years since he held his sister as she died. Helen Anna Wriedt May 16th 1992 to January 1st 1999. Beloved Sister. A Light In The Darkness. He was seventeen now and just got permission to join the Marines. He had graduated high school and even had a college degree now. Medical school was almost done, but his biochemistry and organic chemistry doctorates were next. He would destroy the evil that took his light. But for now, he would do his duty to his country, and the Marines were going to help him pay his college loans. And they allowed him to work out his darkness.
“You try and clear the red from your ledger… But you never can…”
Ronald came back to the present. He shook his head as he made his notes. He could not allow himself to get lost in the past. Too much of the present depended on him to be lost in the past. He stood and stopped the video after he had made his notes. The last formula had been a disaster. It not only did not work. It killed the test subject. He should feel some remorse for killing the man, but the man knew the risks. And he was dying from the work of the devil anyway. Ronald poured himself a glass of whiskey and sat down in front of the television. He hit the on button to some sports channel. He allowed himself to be lost in the college basketball game as calculations churned in the back of his mind. The next formula would have to work. And he would have to work harder on making his amends. After all, he had too much blood dripping from his ledger. He was about to turn off the television when the news started. It intrigued him when he heard his research company’s name.
“Today the Helen Anna Foundation announced that the owner, and main researcher, Dr. Ronald Wriedt, was stepping down as CEO and focusing solely on research. Dr. Wriedt is known for his controversial treatments of cancer and other diseases that have nicknamed the man the Harbinger of Death.” The blonde news reported started.
Ronald snorted and turned off the television. When he cured cancer, they would hail him as a hero. All his medical advancements he had been part of, from finding a way to head off the flu to making a better drug cocktail for AIDS were all hated and got him the title of ‘Evil’ from the media and public until he perfected the formulas and then suddenly he was a hero and winning prizes. But the news reporter was right about one thing.
He stepped down and allowed his board to take over. He just could not stand the day to day running of the research company. He belonged in his lab. And he may be ‘evil’ but, this evil was created to keep anybody else from losing their light in the darkness of a hard life.
Ronald went into his bedroom and ran his hand over the last picture he had of his sister. “Soon sister. Soon, my little light, I will make you proud. Until then, I will be an unknown ‘hero’ while I work on this true evil in the world.” Anybody that would have been listening would have to be a complete idiot to miss the sarcasm in the word hero. He stripped and got into bed and by the time his head hit the pillow, he was asleep.
The next morning, he was in his lab working with enzymes and other things to battle his demon. He was reading an article about a Swedish doctor who was injecting cancer cells with heroin. It was destroying the cells and ‘curing’ the cancer. Something was not adding up totally though and the heroin addiction would be just as bad as the cancer and soon healthy cells would kill each other because of the addiction. But injecting cells… now that doctor may be on to something there. Hmmm… he put on his music load. He smirked. He loved music. It was something from his old life and his life as a Marine and research that stayed. He turned it up and started bouncing around as he worked on his huge dry erase boards and chalkboards. He kept them for sentimental reasons. When he told his sister his dream, she had looked at him with awe and said, ‘You totally have to have huge room long chalk boards! Like the scientists in the old movies!’ Ronald had laughed and promised her he always would.
He got into his grove as he bounced from board to board. “You, I need. You, I don’t.” He talked to himself as he worked. It was how he worked best. Talking it out to the light that always stayed with him; that one that never left him and kept him from becoming the evil the world viewed him as. He crossed out a large equation. “You are just annoying!” He went and added a few more equations to the board and looked at the particles. It was after many hours, many songs, many cups of coffee and computer reminders to eat that he left his lab. He threw on the ski mask, hooded jacket, and black pants. He was going for a walk. He might be able to protect another tonight. Help clear out that blood in his ledger.
“To be ambitious can make you the villain…”
Ronald walked the streets and stopped a few drug dealers from dealing with kids. Scared the kids and delivered the dealers to the cops. He also stopped a few more muggings and attacks. Nothing every really large. But who knows? The smallest actions on his behalf could save a life. He liked to think he saved them, at least from the pain. He did this every night. It saved him from going crazy and becoming too obsessed with his greatest ambition. After all, those who are ambitious are views as abnormal in this world. He shook his head.
One day. One day, for all the evil he had done, he would rid this world of a devil. For his light. For her memory. So another person would never know what it is like to see their light in their darkness snuffed out way too early. He knows the psychology behind his obsession. He could not deal with the loss of a child, and since he had raised her, she was his child. It broke his mind. He was not an idiot. After all, he was a genius.
This was his life. His penance. After Helen died, he straightened up just enough to graduate school. He had long ago got his GED and had been taking college classes though the fighting and the arrests were sealed now; he still knew of them. Then he got into a bad situation.
He needed money to pay for some classes and he finally allowed a gang member to tempt him into the money. It was his first and only run for the man. And he was arrested. He was seventeen. His life would have been over. But the judge had taken pity on him. Told him to join the military and learn some discipline and he would wipe this incident off his record.
He joined the Marines. He was good at what he did. They helped pay off the college loans. Then 9/11 happened and things changed. Suddenly, he was fighting a war. He was killing people. Innocent or not. He never wanted that. But it was killed or be killed, and his darkness took over just a bit more, so that he did not lose himself to the things they forced him to do to keep his country safe. To make sure he made it out of the war alive. He moved up the ranks quickly over the six years he was in the Marines. He left as a Gunnery Sargent. He refused to become an officer, just become he had a college degree. He was an enlisted Marine. But he had made some calls. Took lives. And that… that weighed on his mind.
And on that light that kept burning in the back of his mind so he never lost himself to his darkness.
So, he left the Marines and started his research company. He had few expenses in the Marines and with his degrees, he first got grants. The business grew quickly. And soon many things were coming out to help the sick. But the media labeled him evil. He went beyond what they called humane and moral. But then praised him when it was all said and done. Always the villain, always evil.
People forgot that advancement came at a price. But then he always thought humans were lazy. As a whole. Humanity has become lazy and anybody with ambitions as great as they labeled him wrong. Evil. He has faced many trails to get where he was. Paid many fines for his trails. Watched many lives lost. But in the end, everything would be worth it. In the end, they would save more lives. Because failing was not an option to Ronald Wriedt. He would not, could not fail in this; because then he might never gain that redemption he needs to see his sister once more when his time comes that God or whatever higher being takes him home to her.
Ronald snapped out of his thoughts of the past when he heard a scream. He ran to find a gang circling a couple of teen girls. He growled. “I would leave boys.”
“What can one man do to us? We have guns!” The supposed leader sneered and waved the gun.
Ronald was glad for his time in the Marines and soon took all five of the boys down and called the cops. He waited in the shadows as the cops came and arrested the boys and comforted and got the girls’ statements. He left before they could even think to say thank you. Shock is great for escaping the situations one does not want to be in. He left after the cops did and headed home.
Not The Hero
“I am just trying not to be the bad guy of my story… Not the hero…”
Over the months, he saw this ‘vigilante’ being hailed as a hero. He snorted. Oh, he knew of heroes. Police Officers. Fire Fighters. Soldiers. Marines. Sailors. Doctors. But he was not one of them. No matter what anybody stated. Oh, many saw him as such. Just as many that called him evil. He threw the newspaper down. How had this gotten out of hand? He went down to his lab. He had work he must do. He had to get this done. Something was telling him his time would be over soon. He just hoped he could gain his peace.
Months went on, and every night he tried to keep people safe, while he worked all day trying to save people from a true evil of the world. Months in which the news was calling his nighttime persona a hero and his public persona the villain. He was both the villain of the story and the hero of the story. He sometimes smirked at that. The irony.
Years went by of this. Soon he was feeling he was close. So close. The final tests were set and soon he would have beaten the evil that killed his sister.
He looked at the chalk boards. The final equations on them. He smiled. This would work.
He set up the whole thing that night. And then the trails started in the morning. The weeks went by and he watched as they injected the patients right into the cancerous cells with his new drug. No addiction. No attacking healthy cells. It was working. The news was hailing him as a hero, when he was once a villain.
And that night. That night, he went out and did his duty to the public. To help clear the blood from his hands that would never be cleared.
His ledger would always be in the red. Even with this new ‘cure’, but he could try. And hope that God was merciful and allowed him to see his sister before they sent him to hell for his punishment.
He ran when he heard a screen of a child. A little girl with blonde curls was screaming over the body of her mother as her brother tried to protect them. It reminded him so much of his life. The ‘father’ was beating on them. He did not think of the consequences when he thought of the knife and tackled the man.
The fight was fierce, but the man was in his thirties and Ronald was now a man in his late sixties. But Ronald would not allow these children to live the life he had. He wouldn not, even if it was his last act on this Earth.
He fought. He felt the knife as it entered his chest; just as he got his arms around the neck of the man. He twisted. Killing the man and then fell to the ground. He was bleeding out. Help would not make it. He could hear the teenage boy calling the cops. He took a shallow breath. He looked over when he felt his mask taken off. The little girl looking into his eyes. The little girl had crystal blue eyes. He was so reminded of Helen. “What… is… your… name?” He got out between labored breaths.
“My name is Anna. Anna Helen Willams.”
“That… is a lovely… name.” Ronald smiled. “My sister was named Helen Anna… she was my soul.”
Anna smiled and took his hand. “You are going to go be with her?”
“You are a hero!” Anna smiled.
“I am no hero… just a man trying not to become the villain…” He whispered.
“But you are my hero. You saved my mom, my brother, and myself.”
“Just a man…” Ronald gasped.
The little girl looked at him as he took his last breaths. “Your sister will tell you the truth when you see her again. Thank you, my hero.” The little girl kissed his check as Ronald took his last breaths.
The sirens were in the background, but they would be too late. He had no regrets about the way he died. He saved the little girl. His last living thoughts were he hoped his sister would still love him after all that he had done. And that he had become. And all that he was.
A man trying not to be a villain.
“I just wanted to go home…”
“Ronald Ross Wriedt.” A voice stated.
Ronald blinked at the bright light. Pearly gates? How… cliché. “Yes?”
The man smiled. “I have someone here to meet you. Welcome home.”
Just then, a blonde hair girl with crystal blue eyes ran to him. “Ronnie!” She threw herself at him. “You are home!”
Ronald looked down at his sister. “Helen.” He whispered. “My light.”
“Welcome home, my king. My savior. My protector. My hero.”
“Not a hero… just a man trying not to be a villain.” Ronald stated.
“That is all a hero is Ronnie. Just a man trying to gain redemption and trying not to be a villain. That is all a hero is Ronnie. Now let me show you our heaven.” Helen smiled as she led Ronald through the cliché pearly gates. And Ronald could not help but to smile and for the first time in many of years he felt peace.