**WARNING: This story contains references to violence, discusses controversial topics, and contains mild language.**
This story was inspired by a prompt submitted to /r/WritingPrompts by /u/KHanson25.
Prompt: “You are a superhero and for months, you’re tracking down the newest supervillain. You finally come face to face with this villain who was your college roommate.”
I always knew he had darkness in him, but I never imagined he was capable of becoming the person standing in front of me.
When I first met Jonathan Gray on move-in day at Georgetown University, he was different from what I expected. For some reason I had pictured him as a joker and an extrovert, but when I met him I found he was shy and mild-mannered, very much an introvert.
Anyway, we got to know each other, and in some ways he was a really nice guy, and he was always a very loyal friend from the start. And he always took good care of his side of the room. I really couldn’t have asked for a better roommate.
We would get into deep discussions sometimes, and I enjoyed them because we had very different worldviews but the discussions were always respectful.
But every once in a while, despite the cordial nature and tone of these discussions, he would say something that would jump out at me, something that I would find very disturbing or alarming. He would talk about things he would do if he ruled the world, and those things sometimes involved the wiping out of entire nations, the question of why nuclear weapons are not used more often in war, very harsh and distributive forms of justice for people who do misdeeds, extreme levels of Social Darwinism, etc.
As time went on I think we began to rub off on each other a bit, and we definitely developed a closer bond. I think the environment of Georgetown rubbed off on him too, because he began to express fewer and fewer of these thoughts.
We were close friends, and he was always loyal, but after college we unfortunately lost touch. I don’t know why it is that way so much of the time with males. Even though the bond is always there in our friendships, the contact often fades.
I had seen him a few times since college, but this was the first time I had even seen or heard from him in a year. I was now standing face-to-face with the man now also known as The Enforcer.
The Enforcer’s goal was to build an army that would use brutal tactics to punish those who commit even the pettiest of crimes and get revenge on his enemies. If you combined the retributive ideology toward justice of The Punisher and the Boondock Saints with the rigidity of Javert from Les Miserables, you would get The Enforcer’s goals. The Enforcer felt that the current criminal justice system needed to be reformed, and not in the way where we try to rehabilitate people, but in a way where we brutally enforce the law and harshly punish those who break it to deter crime.
Some of the worst penalties you could suffer from The Enforcer and his army of Disciplinaries included quartering, crucifixion, burning at the stake, flaying, etc. And there were no trials. The Enforcer and his army do not wait around to execute their gruesome form of justice. They believe in acting swiftly. This was Jon Gray’s mission.
“Well Mason, aren’t you at least going to say hello to your old roomie?” Jon said to me.
“Jon, you need to stop this. I realize that you want to get rid of crime, but you have taken this objective way too far. You’re using a cannon to kill mosquitoes.”
“These are CRIMINALS, Mason! The scum of our society! You were always such a bleeding heart–hell, that’s your new identity now–and I suppose that’s an admirable trait in a lot of ways, but I will never understand why you would let your heart bleed for DEGENERATES!”
“Offenders are people too, and when they are rehabilitated they can give back to society. There is a use for these people.”
“These are the bad guys, Mason. I’ve known you for a long time, and I know you’re a good person. So why would you take the side of the bad guys?”
“You know it’s more complicated than that, Jon.”
“You are too caught up in this Bleeding Heart persona. Step out of it for a second and really consider whether you are on the right side of this.”
“Justice cannot exist without due process and rule of law. And you should be ashamed that as a former District Attorney you have abandoned all that.”
“I lost too many cases. I saw too many worthless pieces of shit get off scott free. Our system doesn’t work. It needs to be bypassed altogether. I should have known that you’d take this side considering how much I hear about how great of a defense attorney Mason McAndrew is.”
“I CHOOSE MY CASES CAREFULLY!”
“And are you so sure that ALL the people you have defended are innocent, Mason? How many people do you think you have let get away with terrible crimes?”
“And how many people do you think the justice system wrongfully convicts Jon? How many people do you think you have delivered ‘justice’ to that really didn’t deserve it? There is no greater crime than punishing an innocent civilian. If anything, our justice system is unfair in that not everyone gets a fair shake, and it is not rehabilitative enough. The recidivism rate is way too high, and we need to make sure people succeed after they get out of prison. We waste so much money on our justice system!”
“That wouldn’t be a problem if we just snuffed out crime before it began with harsh deterrents. Maybe you need to feel my brand of justice to see what I mean.”
“I’m done talking about this. I will hand you over to the police, and unlike your countless victims, you will get a trial. And you should thank me for that Jon.”
“I will be thankful when I drive my fist through your bleeding heart. You are an enemy of The Discipline and you must die. I regret that it has to come to this.”
Jon’s fists turned to teflon, and I activated my electrical field. We shed a tear as we charged towards each other.