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The Man Called Pathos

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Author's note: This story is the first part of my Houseguest Series, which involves some of my comic book characters. I give a long overdue thanks to EmpyrealInvective, whose feedback and advice helped me improve this story

Pathos mask

Original Version

The hoodlum stood hidden in the shadows and continued to watch his intended victim. He only got a glimpse of his face, but overall he guessed the man to be in his thirties or forties. Though his clothing wasn’t fancy, he gave the impression of being financially secure. He carried himself well, but the hoodlum had run into plenty of victims whose composure and bravado had disappeared when they were attacked or even threatened. The hoodlum smirked as he anticipated an easy robbery.

The man came to a halt at a bus stop and leaned against the signpost. The hoodlum checked the surroundings. Seeing no witnesses in sight, he stealthily left his hiding place and approached the man. Once he was within a couple yards he took out his switchblade knife and flicked it open. The man moved slightly at the sound, but otherwise made no response.

“Don’t turn around or you’ll regret it!” barked the hoodlum.

“Am I to assume that you’re a mugger, then?” asked the man calmly.

The nonchalance of his intended victim caught the hoodlum off-guard, but he replied, “Yeah, this is a mugging! Now fork it over!”

The man slowly raised his hands up past his head. “I hate violence. Isn’t there some way we can work this out?”

“Yeah, by you forking your wallet over!”

“Listen, I’d-”

“You think I’m playin’!? Your money or your life!”

The man sighed, and the hoodlum suddenly felt tightness in his chest. The man moved his arms, but instead of reaching for his wallet, he took his right hand, touched his left wrist with his right index and middle fingers, and made a swift swiping motion. The hoodlum suddenly felt a sharp, burning pain in his left wrist. He cried out and dropped the knife in shock. The man then touched his right wrist with his left index and middle fingers and made another swiping motion, one more forceful than the previous one. The hoodlum felt an even more intense pain in his right wrist. He cried out in fear again and clutched the wrist. He was astonished at the sharp, sudden pain, but he was even more astonished to look and see that were no visible wounds on either wrist, no discernible reason he should be feeling this pain.

The man turned to face the hoodlum. His eyes glowed with both anger and sadness, and underneath those eyes were dark shadows which gave him a weary look. “I told you I’d prefer to work this out, but you chose to threaten me.” He jabbed his right arm with his left index finger, causing the hoodlum to feel stabbing pain in the same area. The man continued, “Do you know what the word ‘pathos’ means? It’s a Greek word meaning ‘suffering,’ ‘experience,’ or ‘emotion.’ My powers allow me to experience the emotion and suffering of others, and to cause others to experience the emotion of suffering as well.”

He quickly drew his right index and middle fingers across his abdomen, causing the hoodlum to clutch his belly and drop to his knees, his every muscle tensing as a result of the pain. “This is the pain you have inflicted on others.”

The man ran his index fingers across his arms, causing the hoodlum to feel searing pain in his. The man watched with a somber air as the hoodlum began to cry, then took out a cell phone. “I’m calling the police. Don’t make me hurt you any more, okay?”

The shocked hoodlum nodded. As he listened to the man call the police, he wondered what exactly he had come across.

Revised Version

The man finished the rest of his meal, threw the wrappers and other garbage into the nearest trashcan, left the tray in the proper place, wished the crew a good rest of the night, and exited the restaurant. His name was Michael Cannon, but he went by the codename Pathos. Years ago Gerard Ripley had found out about him, seen his potential, and convinced him to join his gang, Basilisk. Like most of the other high-ranking members of Basilisk, he had special powers. Since childhood, perhaps since birth, he’d had powers related to trauma. Since he could perceive the trauma experienced by others, he could also perceive people’s emotions. This made him a compassionate counselor. He was grateful that he had a role that allowed him to use his God-given abilities to help people. Thankfully Ripley never forced him to use his other power, and he didn’t have to use it very often.

He reflected about the call that Ripley had made that evening. When he heard about the physical, psychological, and emotional damage that the man Ripley was trying to help had suffered, he agreed that he was needed. He was glad that the location given was only a relatively short bus ride away, and he prayed he could provide the help the man needed.

As Pathos walked along with his thoughts, a hoodlum stood hidden in the shadows and observed him. He only got a glimpse of Pathos’s face, but overall he guessed him to be in his thirties or forties. Though his clothing wasn’t fancy, he gave the impression of being financially secure. He carried himself well, but the hoodlum had run into plenty of victims whose composure and bravado had disappeared when they were attacked or even threatened. The hoodlum smirked as he anticipated an easy robbery.

Pathos came to a halt at a bus stop and leaned against the signpost. The hoodlum checked the surroundings. Seeing no witnesses in sight, he stealthily left his hiding place and approached his intended victim. Once he was within a couple yards he took out his switchblade knife and flicked it open. Pathos moved slightly at the sound, but otherwise made no response.

“Don’t turn around or you’ll regret it!” barked the hoodlum.

“Am I to assume that you’re a mugger, then?” asked Pathos calmly.

The nonchalance of his intended victim caught the hoodlum off-guard, but he replied, “Yeah, this is a mugging! Now fork it over!”

Pathos slowly raised his hands up past his head. The hoodlum saw him shudder and then tense his muscles as if he were experiencing some strong emotion. Pathos paused before asking, “I hate violence. Isn’t there some way we can work this out?”

“Yeah, by you forking your wallet over!”

“Listen, I’d-”

“You think I’m playin’!? Your money or your life!”

Another shudder ran through Pathos’s body, but his voice and overall demeanor stayed unruffled. “Listen to me. You don’t know who you’re dealing with, what could happen if you keep this up.”

“Oh, what, you’re going to tell me that I should walk away right now and thank my luck that I won’t find out what you can do to me?!”

“That’s it in a nutshell. Please, let’s talk this over and find a better way. Believe me, that’s the best option for both of us.” He used the tone of a father warning his child. “I can guarantee that if you keep going, you’re going to regret it. I don’t want to have to-”

“Man, shut up! I’m not going to tell you again! ‘Your money or your life!’”

Pathos sighed, and the hoodlum suddenly felt tightness in his chest. Pathos moved his arms, but instead of reaching for his wallet, he took his right hand, touched his left wrist with his right index and middle fingers, and made a swift swiping motion. The hoodlum suddenly felt a sharp, burning pain in his left wrist. He cried out and dropped the knife in shock. Pathos then touched his right wrist with his left index and middle fingers and made another swiping motion, one more forceful than the previous one. The hoodlum felt an even more intense pain in his right wrist. He cried out in fear again and clutched the wrist. He was astonished at the sharp, sudden pain, but he was even more astonished to look and see that were no visible wounds on either wrist, no discernible reason he should be feeling this pain.

Pathos turned to face the hoodlum. His eyes glowed with both anger and sadness, and underneath those eyes were dark shadows which gave him a weary look. “I told you I’d prefer to work this out, but you chose to threaten me.” He jabbed his right arm with his left index finger, causing the hoodlum to feel stabbing pain in the same area. He continued, “Do you know what the word ‘pathos’ means? It’s a Greek word meaning ‘suffering,’ ‘experience,’ or ‘emotion.’ My powers allow me to experience the emotion and suffering of others, and to cause others to experience the emotion of suffering as well.”

He quickly drew his right index and middle fingers across his abdomen, causing the hoodlum to clutch his belly and drop to his knees, his every muscle tensing as a result of the pain. “This is the pain you have inflicted on others.”

Pathos ran his index fingers across his arms, causing the hoodlum to feel searing pain in his. He watched with a somber air as the hoodlum began to cry, then took out a cell phone. “I’m calling the police. Don’t make me hurt you any more, okay?”

The shocked hoodlum nodded. As he listened to Pathos call the police, he wondered what exactly he had come across.

The police officer who came to the scene several minutes later paused when he saw Pathos. He had occasionally heard stories of this man, the man called Pathos, inflicting harm on vicious criminals. Each case was similar. Pathos’s shaken, frightened victims had been found subdued by the infliction of pain, yet they didn’t have one single physical wound, and in each case Pathos had acted to defend himself or a third party. Not once had Pathos been the aggressor. After recovering from his surprise, the officer nervously approached Pathos. Pathos soon put him at ease with his politeness and humility. The hoodlum confirmed Pathos’s story and allowed the officer to arrest him without a struggle. The officer gave Pathos one last look. Though he figured he didn’t need it, he found himself telling Pathos to be careful. Pathos quietly thanked him and told him to do the same.

After the policeman drove away with the hoodlum in custody, Pathos sighed and once again leaned against the signpost. When he was threatened, he had shuddered and tensed up because he had experienced for himself the suffering that the hoodlum’s victims had experienced, the stabbings and slashes that the hoodlum had inflicted in his cruelty and greed. After that he had shuddered because he knew that he would most likely end up having to inflict that same pain. His ability to experience the suffering of others had given him a pacifistic nature. When he inflicted trauma on another person, he was also inflicting it on himself. He preferred not to harm anybody, but sometimes he was forced to. He took consolation in the fact that he had tried to prevent it, and in the fact that the hoodlum had inflicted that pain on others (and thus had gotten a taste of his own medicine). He hoped that the hoodlum would reform and forsake his violent ways (resulting in one less source of trauma), stared into the night sky, and tried to move past this latest experience to focus on the task ahead.

Character Entry

As a bonus, here’s an entry on the character

Basilisk Roster 2

Various Basilisk members, with Pathos in the bottom right corner

Pathos

Secret identity- Michael Cannon

Birthplace- Ohio

Occupation- counselor

List of powers, abilities, and weapons- trauma perception, trauma projection, empathy

Status- member of Basilisk, member of Re’em, member of Shophetim

First appearance- Horrific: Devotee

Personality- Pathos has a quiet, humble nature and great reserves of inner strength, though he sometimes suffers insomnia and nightmares on account of the trauma he has experienced. He is respectful, calling Dart Tongue “Boss”. Due to his ability to perceive the trauma of others, he has great degrees of compassion and understanding as well as a pacifistic nature. He also feels great anger toward those falsely claiming trauma and abuse, those with a cavalier attitude toward abuse and the suffering of others, and those who try to justify or dismiss cruelty. Though he is a pacifist, he will use his ability to inflict trauma if the need arises.

Appearance- Pathos is a male African-American human. He has a dark skin tone, black hair with three tufts, and dark shadows under his eyes. He wears a dark blue jacket with dark purple sleeves, a black shirt, grayish-blue pants, a white belt with a circular gold buckle, and white shoes.

Entry- Michael Cannon has trauma-related superpowers, making him both a compassionate counselor and a formidable foe. Dart Tongue found out about him and convinced him to join Basilisk. He took the moniker “Pathos”, a Greek term meaning “suffering”, “experience”, or “emotion”. He chose the name because he had experienced the emotion and suffering of others, and he wanted the cruel and insensitive to experience the emotion of suffering as well. Though the Basilisk and Re’em chief is a pacifist who prefers to help people, he will put the hurt on someone if the need arises.

Description of powers, abilities, and weapons- Pathos has the ability to perceive the trauma experienced by others. Because of this he also has the ability to perceive people’s emotions. He can defend against opponents by causing them to experience trauma he or they have experienced or that they have inflicted upon others. For instance, if his opponent had stabbed somebody, then Pathos can make them experience stabbing pain.

Weaknesses- Pathos is susceptible to the same weaknesses as an ordinary person (extreme temperatures, poison gas, etc.). He also suffers from bouts of insomnia and nightmares, but this does little to stop him.

Trivia

  • Pathos is not a parody of any particular character. Having post-traumatic stress disorder myself, I thought it would be interesting to have a character with trauma-related powers.
  • I got Pathos’s name from consulting the thesaurus for words related to sympathy and suffering. His first name comes from the late Michael Clarke Duncan, who played a condemned prisoner with special powers in the movie version of The Green Mile. His addressing Dart Tongue as “Boss” was inspired by scenes from the movie. His last name comes from Kannon, the Japanese name for Guanyin, the bodhisattva (a being who wishes to obtain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings) of compassion.
  • The shadows under his eyes, in addition to indicating weariness, are reminiscent of the shadows under the eyes of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight “Doc” Gooden, former baseball stars and recovering addicts.
  • In keeping with the themes of trauma and dedication, the color used for Pathos’s sleeves is a Crayola shade of purple named “purple heart” after the Purple Heart medal given to members of the U.S. military who have been killed or wounded in action.


Written by Raidra
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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