DARK FORCES 2
Higgins shook his head in disbelief as he read the report before him. Nolan had sent the file, sealed, directly to him instead of through the regular channels because of what the information represented. It was the ID of the first victim of the Kastaga, the torn to shreds man that they had found spread through out an eastside apartment. They had assumed that the man who rented the apartment, an Eric Himmel, had summoned the Kastaga and had been killed by it, but Nolan's findings were now disputing that assumption.
The name on the file was that of a Robert April, an import dealer with a house in Greenbourgh, and offices downtown.
What the hell was he doing at Himmel's apartment? Thought Higgins. And where in the hell is Himmel if he's not the victim?
"You look troubled."
Higgins glanced up to see Steve standing before his desk, his arm sporting a soft cast now that his shoulder had healed some. Saying that the two had nearly been killed in their encounter with Kastaga would not be covering half of it; Steve had almost been torn open by the creature.
"We've got to follow up on this," stated Higgins, handing the file to Steve. "We've got a different victim than we thought."
Glancing through the thin file, Steve looked back to Carl. "You thinking what I'm thinking?"
"That Himmel summoned the Kastaga to kill those people, and is still on the loose?"
"I was a bit more general, I was just thinking that this isn't over yet."
Higgins got up, grabbed his jacket, and headed for the door.
"What?" asked Steve, moving to follow his partner.
"That it?" asked Steve, pointing to a ranch-style house setting about fifty yards back from the road, at the end of a paved drive.
"Has to be," replied Higgins. "These houses are pretty spread out, but that last one was one-oh-five, and that would make this one-oh-seven."
"I know this is some weird shit, Higgs, but do you think we should be going in here with out telling anyone? What if we run into…hell, some thing?"
"While you were requisitioning an autogun, I called Nolan. He's picking up Terri and meeting us here, but I think we should check the place first."
"Okay, as long as we've got some back-up coming."
"Besides, if this April had something that Himmel wanted, then he's probably already gotten it."
Higgins pulled into the driveway and slowly approached the house, both he and Steve checking the surroundings for any signs that something was amiss. The area, a spatial suburb called Greenbourgh, was filled with dozens of ranch and split-level houses, all a good distant from their neighbors, most separated by large privacy fences. April's house had such a fence, running up one side, along the rear, and down the other side, leaving only the front open for inspection.
"Kind of quiet out here," noted Steve.
"It's mostly a well-off singles area," detailed Higgins. "A lot of money but no life."
"What good's one without the other?"
There was a turn-around in front of the house and Higgins pulled the Ford into it, killing the motor and just studying the front of the house for a moment.
Everything seemed okay; no broken windows; the front door intact; patio furniture setting in an organized manner.
"According to his file, April lived alone, and as a victim we have the right to search his residence."
"And I'm sure you filled the Captain in on this."
"Hmm, hadn't thought of that," replied Higgins as he got out of the car. "Guess I'll have to let him know when we get back."
Steve popped open the truck and removed a Kevlar vest which he let Higgins help him put on. Once his vest was secure, Steve opened the case containing the Bennsonn 230 Mark 2, nick-named the autogun because that was what it was; an automatic shotgun.
Manufactured exclusively for special police units, the auto-gun was only issued to officers that had been through a special training class for its use. Very much like a regular shotgun, it fired a load of Teflon coated buck shot that was fed from a magazine that held twenty shells and fired as fast as you could pull the trigger. Of course it also had the kick of a shotgun, and repeated rapid firing was not something that a person could physically take for long, but then no one had imagined a situation where that would be necessary.
The manufacturers had never heard of a Kastaga.
"You sure you can handle that, with your arm like that?"
"Qualified right or left handed."
Higgins let out a short chuckle and headed for the front door. "Might as well be direct, at least try to keep this official looking."
The two men stopped just short of the front door as they heard a vehicle pull into the driveway. They turned to see a large black van setting motionless just in the front of the drive, and their senses kicked up a notch as they wondered whom the visitor was. Then the van slowly backed out and inched down the road as if the driver were looking for something, the side of the van proclaiming in bright yellow that it was New York Courier And Cargo.
"Must be looking for an address," noted Steve, not sounding like he really believed it.
They waited until the van was out of sight before they continued to the front door; mildly surprised to find it unlocked. Exchanging glances, Higgins pulled his gun and edged into the house, his eyes taking in the devastation and his guard going up immediately.
The tranquil appearance of the outside of the house completely belayed the wreckage inside, some force evidently having gone through every inch of the interior of the dwelling. Furniture and appliances had been completely torn apart; books were ripped to shreds; walls had holes knocked in them. Absolutely nothing had been left untouched.
"Somebody was real serious about searching this place."
"Damn," muttered Steve, "this looks like my place."
"Almost. No plates of mold encrusted food setting around, though."
"So I guess there was a reason you gave me Lysol for Christmas."
Wading in though the mess, they quickly moved through the main floor of the house, giving only quick glances into rooms that had their doors smashed down. They ended up in the kitchen facing the doorway that led to the basement, the door itself presenting them with a clue. It had been smashed in, like the others, but it was made out of more than wood.
What had been a reinforced metal door, at least two inches thick, had been covered by a thin sheet of wood to make it blend in with the rest of the décor, but that sheet of wood had splintered and broken off where what could only be fist marks had smashed into it. The door had taken a hell of a beating but it had lost, finally caving in but still hanging on by two of its hinges.
"I'll go first," volunteered Steve, brandishing the autogun before him.
The stairs led down to a small three-by-five area that had another of the smashed down metal doors, this having a keypad on the wall next to it. The keypad was intact; indicating that what ever had broken in had not even bothered with it.
"Not something you normally find in a ranch-style house."
The room they entered was large, easily spreading beyond the boundaries of the house, and filled with mostly smashed equipment. There were several consoles still left unscathed, but the same force that had ravaged the upstairs had set upon more than half of the devices.
"What the hell is this place?" wondered Steve.
"And why did they stop smashing everything?"
There was a sound to their right, like stone on stone, and they knew the answer to Higgins' question.
Steve whirled, bringing the autogun up, and locked onto a human shape in the shadows, Higgins dropping to one knee and sighting on the same form. It looked to be a man, a rather large man, his form obscured by the darkness of the room but intimidating none the less.
"Fuck me," hissed Steve as the form emerged from the shadows, stepping into the limited light given off from the machines that still operated.
A statue given life, the man was made of stone, his body one solid piece of rock given motion. There were indications of a face, two black orbs serving as eyes, but the form was free of detail, the mere shape being all that it needed for functioning.
In the confines of the underground room the autogun boomed like a blast of thunder, the Teflon pellets tearing chunks out of the stone man but doing little actual damage. The thing turned its head toward Steve and there was the sound of two grindstones crunching.
Emptying his clip into it, Higgins was pleased to see that his newly acquired silver rounds actually tore into the thing, but was equally disappointed to see that they seemed to have no visible effect other than the small holes in the stone of its body.
A red gleam seemed to pass across the thing's eyes and it turned towards the door, its intention apparently to exit. As Higgins slapped another clip into his gun, Steve darted around him and blocked the thing's path, pumping two more rounds into it.
Faster than either one of the men would have thought possible, the stone man lunged forward and swatted Steve as if he were a fly. The detective let out a pained grunt as he was knocked out of the way, landing in a heap about ten feet from his previous position.
Higgins turned to fire on it again but was too late, it was already through the door and pounding up the stairs. He hesitated for a moment, trying to decide if he should pursue it or not, then turned to check on Steve.
"Okay," gasped Steve, holding his side. "I'm okay."
"Like hell you are," countered Higgins, seeing the pain on Steve's face with each breath he took.
"Mom?" asked Steve, just before passing out.
Higgins lowered his friend to floor and turned to go summon help when there was a blast from upstairs that shook the entire room. A cloud of dust and smoke floated in through the door, filled with bits of wood and plaster. From out of the cloud rolled the stone head of the thing that had attacked them, its destruction having apparently been the source of the explosion.
Coughing, waving his arm to try and clear some of the dust cloud, Higgins saw numerous black shapes moving in the cloud. For a moment he thought that SWAT had somehow arrived on the scene, perhaps summoned by a neighbor that had seen the men enter the house, but then one of the black forms descended on him and he saw that body armor of the person bore the large, yellow letters of the FBI.
"I'm a cop," informed Higgins, holding his badge out for the mask-encased agent to see. "My partner's been hurt," he added, nodding towards Steve.
He looked back up in time to see the butt of the agent's weapon come slamming into his face.
"Wait a minute," instructed Brandon, turning the patrol car's spotlight towards the alley they had just passed. "I think this it."
Dill backed up slowly, the pool of light filling the wide alley and illuminating the large sign over a garage door that identified the building as Munson's Metal Shop.
"Yeah, this it."
Normally giving access to delivery trucks, the alley was plenty wide for the black and white, leaving ample room for the two officers to be checking out the surrounding area. Much like other alleys, this one was filled with dumpsters and piles of trash, but was strangely devoid of any signs of the local wildlife that liked to feed off such offerings. The two missed this fact, rats in alleys not sporting two legs generally ignored as part of the everyday landscape.
"There," pointed Brandon, spotting a smashed in door further down the alley.
Putting the car in park and pocketing the keys, Dill unclamped the shotgun and got out. "Call it," he spoke softly to Brandon.
"Don't worry, I'll flush 'em out to you," replied Dill, heading towards the open door, laughing to himself that every rookie always believed that he would tell them if they guessed the right number. It was his task to break them in on the job, and that meant keeping them alive long enough to learn a few things, no matter how he had to do it.
The door led to an outer reception area with a few chairs and a counter, a similarly smashed door centered behind the counter. From deeper with in the building Dill could hear sounds of movement, and a light source was evident by a faint yellow glow.
Dill moved on into the building, keeping the shotgun at the ready, and made his way through a small series of ancient cubicles that were part of a warehouse. The source of light was in the center of the warehouse, directly over stacks of tarp-covered piles that blocked his view of the intruders. Judging by the sounds there had to at least two of them, one giving orders to another.
Quietly weaving through the piles, Dill centered in on the men, and prepared to make his move. He would use one of the piles as cover as he announced his presence, making sure that he let them see the shotgun to help them make the right choice.
"Freeze," he yelled out in his most authoritative voice as he leaned around the corner.
Dill's first impression of the man was that of a twisted, evil looking Mister Whipple from the old Charmin commercials. Old, with graying hair on the sides of his head, the spectacle wearing man had a slant to his face that gave Dill a flash of pictures of demons he had seen in various religious books as a child, pictures he had not thought of in years.
If he had to place the emotion that showed on the man's face, Dill would have called it annoyance. Not fear or surprise, just annoyance. As if Dill was nothing more than a troublesome problem that was to be dealt with and forgotten.
Then his gaze fell on the other one, and a chill ran through the officer. Sandstone was the first thing he thought of as he looked at the thing, but his mind was having trouble grasping that. How could there be a man made out of sandstone?
The thing turned, and the sound it made as it moved was that of stone grinding on stone, memories of summer camp flashing through his mind as he and his friends had first learned that you could write with sandstone like brown chalk.
Reflex kicking in, even though his mind was unable to identify what the thing really was, Dill pulled the trigger and let pellets rain into the thing.
It shrugged off the gunshot like water from a hose and in one swift movement it was upon him.
The thing's hands were merely thumbs and wide pads where there would normally be four fingers, but that did not stop it from grabbing the hapless man by the collar and lifting him into the air. As Dill struggled to break the thing's vice-like grip, it seized his shotgun with the other hand and crushed it with no effort.
The evil looking Mister Whipple spoke something in an unknown language and the stone man grasped Dill's head and gave a slight tug. Dill's now headless body dropped to the ground, spasming as fluids issued from it. For a moment, the thing stared into the dead eyes of the head that it held, and then tossed it over its shoulder like refuse.
As soon as he heard the muffled boom of the shotgun, Brandon got on the radio and called for back up. In the few minutes that Dill had been inside he had found that the alley was a dead end, and was glad that Dill had parked with the cruiser effectively blocking the alley from a quick exit. As his mind raced, trying to decide what he should do, Brandon realized that the garage door was rising, his fears apparently justified that his partner had not succeeded in halting the burglars.
A large truck came roaring out of the building, surprise showing on the driver's face that a police cruiser blocked his road. Tires screeched as the man slammed on the brakes of the truck, but it was too short a distance and too great a speed. The truck crashed into the car, jamming it sideways in the alley, the driver bouncing off the windshield like a rag doll.
Brandon had had a second to react but it had not been enough time. The fender of the cruiser slammed into him, knocking him to the ground and stunning him. He shook his head and started to get to his feet when cold force latched onto his arm and jerked him from the ground, pain shooting through his shoulder.
A cry of terror escaped from his throat as he saw what was holding him, the pain in his arm all but forgotten. The black eyes that stared at him divulged nothing, but its boredom was evident as it casually tossed him aside. Brandon hit the wall of the alley with such force that his skull split, brain and blood spilling out as his life quickly faded.
The stone man glanced around, confused by the lack of the controlling voice that had been its constant companion since its conception. With no source of direction to instruct it, the stone man sauntered down the street, vanishing into the night, as the wails of sirens grew closer.
Pain was the first thing that Higgins was aware of. A sharp ache that seemed to start in his chin, spread to the back of head, and settled in his neck. He opened his eyes and nausea seemed to be building in his stomach, as if the light was physically pummeling him. He let out a groan and closed his eyes, welcoming back the blackness that he had been swimming in.
He was only aware of one other attempt to regain complete consciousness before finally managing to stay awake with no sense of sickness. He had no idea how long he had been out, but he knew that they knew he was awake. He had heard someone in the room, someone who had left for a brief moment and returned with someone else.
"You should be able to set up now, Detective," spoke a voice in a tone that suggested its owner was used to getting results when he spoke.
Higgins complied, opening his eyes to let the room come into focus before attempting it. His senses seemed to swim for a moment but quickly settled, and he found himself facing a man in a dark suit and a man in the standard issue, dark blue uniform of a FBI guard.
"How are you feeling?" The man seemed genuinely concerned but Higgins could not help wondering if it was a well-practiced act.
"Sorry about the rough treatment." The man pulled a chair over to set facing Higgins. "In our profession it's better to render inoperative first and ask questions later."
"The FBI does that a lot, do they?"
"We're not the FBI."
"Then who the hell are we?"
"Sort of an off shoot of them, actually."
"That's not an answer."
"Originally we were part of the Secret Service, organized about a year after its initial conception in the 1800's. The Bureau took over when President Kennedy decided that the oval office did not need our services as much as the rest of the country did. President Nixon decided that we needed more power than the Bureau could offer us. Today, we're our own agency, and we answer only to a special Senatorial Committee."
"That still doesn't…"
"We are a group of roughly a hundred agents, spread across the entire United States, that identify and deal with supernatural threats."
"First The Order, and now you guys."
"I can assure you that we are nothing like The Order, Detective. As a matter of fact, The Order is not even allowed to operate in this country with out our expressive permission."
"Then I've got some news for you,"
"We know about your encounter with the Kastaga, that's why I'm here, telling you the truth, instead of your waking up in some hospital being fed a story about a botched drug raid."
"You've lost me on this."
"If I didn't think that you, and Detective Strieber, would be of use to us, you wouldn't know about us. As it is, I like the way you two handled things and I want to offer you both a position within our agency."
"You're kidding, right? You're setting there telling me that the United States government has its own group of…Ghostbusters?"
"Until two short weeks ago, Detective, would you have believed that a demon could be responsible for a series of killings? What you and your partner accomplished was nothing short of miraculous. With no training, limited weapons, and the help of a novice Wicca, you managed to banish a Kastaga back to hell. You may not be aware of this, but Kastaga are essentially professional hit men for old Lucifer himself. If the devil doesn't think you're evil enough then it doesn't matter how many rituals you perform; you're not getting your Kastaga.
And to have that demon released from a spell of binding that had the faith of the entire Catholic Church behind it, well this is one evil bastard that we're after."
"His current identity. We've been after him longer than you can imagine."
"Since the Section was founded."
Higgins sat silently, staring at the man as if he had suddenly sprouted a third eye. "You're telling me this guy's been around for almost two hundred years?"
"Actually, we've traced his actions back to 1657." The man let that sink in for a moment before continuing. "Originally an English doctor named Randolph Melling, he was forced to leave England after reports of him being involved with black magic. There was supposedly some sort of ritual that witnesses stated caused not only his death, but also his rebirth. Since then he's popped up in one country after another, sometimes vanishing for a while, but then resurfacing with a new…body."
"This just keeps getting better and better."
"It's safe to assume that however he was reborn, Melling is no longer human. What ever inhabited his body has the ability to move on to a new host when the need arises."
"And in all this time you haven't been able to catch him? Maybe you guys need our help more than you think."
"How would you capture someone who could become anyone else at will, Detective? When he assumes a new life, it isn't something that he's made up; he takes over that person completely. An old man in Budapest or a nine-year-old child in Ohio, it doesn't matter. We don't know who he's become until he makes his move."
"His move? He has a move? What the hell is it, summoning demons to slaughter people?"
"There was a book at the first murder scene…"
"Bound in skin and written in blood." Higgins failed to contain the chill that ran through him as he remembered trying to examine the book.
"The Necronomicon, the book of the dead. Only one complete version was ever written, by the devil himself, with the blood of a thousand and one newborns. Many people have tried to copy it over the centuries, all of them dying before they could finish more than a few chapters."
"Accidents mostly. We believe it to be the work of The Order, but there's no way to prove that, and the last death was over a hundred years ago. It's said that who ever possesses the Necronomicon will have the power to unleash the forces of hell."
"And Himmel's been after this book, too. That's how you find him again."
"Very good. No one's been able to find it since the last incident, but we believe that this time it's the real thing."
"But the book's gone. If Himmel got it in the first place then it's safe to assume that he's the one that has it now."
"I've called in every agent that we have, but we could use more help. What do you think?"
"What about Nolan and Terri? We couldn't have finished the Kastaga with out their help, especially Terri's. It's got to be all of us. They have the right to know about this, too."
"I'm prepared to make the same offer to them."
"Okay, you can count me in, temporarily, until I find out what they think."
"You can count me in, too," came Steve's voice from the corner of the room. Higgins turned to see Steve standing in the doorway, his abdomen tightly wrapped in white bandages. "I owe this shit some payback. That and you guys have got some cooler weapons."
Inhaling deeply, Parker passed the joint to Lewis and rocked his head to the beat of the song on their boom box. Ditching school had become the two's regular habit, scoring some pot and jamming' in one of the abandoned factories along the East River. Today they had managed to get hold of some harsh stuff that Parker was starting to swear must be laced with something. This idea came to him as he watched a statue walk into the deserted building.
Fucking cool, he thought, as the statue stopped and looked in their direction.
The statue came at them, its long, fast strides matching the beat of the music almost perfectly, having a hypnotic effect on Parker. Not oblivious to his friend's intent look, Lewis slowly stood up and turned around to see what Parker was staring at.
For a fleeting second Lewis came to the same conclusion that Parker had, that the weed was mixed with something far stronger, but that illusion was shattered as the statue loomed up before him. The stone man drew back his fist to strike when his black eyes suddenly sparkled red for an instant and he froze. A moment ago those black orbs had seemed empty, but now Lewis could feel that there was something in them; some intelligence.
Parker's laughter snapped him out of his stupor, and Lewis looked down to see that he had pissed himself at the thought of the statue attacking him. "Shut the fuck up, man," he yelled at his friend before turning back to the statue.
"And you!" He jabbed his finger into the chest of the stone man. "You can get the fuck out of here!"
The statue turned as if to leave and Lewis let out a "hell, yeah!" cry.
The buzz was gone and Parker was completely straight in a fraction of a second as his mind registered what happen next. The statue suddenly spun back around, its arm now extended, and slammed into Lewis's head, ripping it from his shoulders in one fluid movement. The teen's body fell to the dirty, concrete floor, his head flying into the distance to smack into a wall and bounce across the floor.
Parker topped his friend by pissing and defecating his pants as the statue moved on him.
He saw, in its black stone eyes, the same evil that his friend had seen, and he began begging for his life. The stone man did the next best thing, ending it so quick that Parker was dead before he realized it, his last sight that of the stone man's hands closing swiftly in on his head in a clapping manner. Blood, bone, flesh, and gray matter erupted in a sick splash as the golem's hands completely crushed the youth's head.
It had been completely pointless; the killing of the two teens, but it had made him feel better. They were not yet aware that he was awake, lying motionless in the hospital bed as he concentrated on regaining control of his slave, and he planned to keep it that way until he brought the golem here to free him. He was certain that there was at least one person in the room with him; his senses could detect the shallow breathing of someone that was completely board and the occasional ruffling of magazine pages.
It would take time, the golem was several miles away, but time was something he had an abundance of. In a few hours the golem would arrive and kill his guard, or guards, and he would be free to continue his mission.
Nothing would come between him and his mission. He had sworn that to his dark lord so many years ago.
After officially introducing himself, Mike Richards, head of Section Seven, had given Carl and Steve a brief tour of the five underground levels that made up the base of operations for Section Seven, hidden beneath a postal office. He provided them with FBI credentials, the Section's main legal identity, a few computer discs that contained information they would need, and a special cell phone for each of them. Richards also informed them that Nolan and Terri had driven on by April's house when they had seen the FBI vehicles all over the place, so he was going to leave it up to Higgins to tell them of what was transpiring, and the offer being made them.
The trip back to the precinct was a short one, the Section's HQ actually not being far from down town, and they hoped that Richards already had things squared away with their Captain as he said he would. If Higgins knew their Captain as well as he thought he did, then the man would be extremely pissed off by the fact that the feds were trying to take two of his men for an indefinite period of time with no explanation what so ever.
Higgins did not get find out if he was right or not, Nolan was waiting for them as they pulled into the underground garage, a worried look plastered on his face.
"Where's Terri?" asked Steve as they approached the coroner. "We've got some incredible news for the two of you."
"Not as incredible as mine," he replied, handing Higgins a police report that had been Xeroxed. It was the incident report involving the deaths of two officers and the apprehension of one Eric Himmel.
"Shit!" exclaimed Carl, "they've got Himmel at Saint Anthony's."
Steve grabbed the paper out of Carl's hand and read over it.
"Terri went there to try and erect some wards of containment to keep him from leaving."
"Come on," called Higgins, heading back towards the car.
The three men piled in, Higgins leaving a patch of rubber as he stepped on it, ignoring regs and speeding out of the garage. Nolan fought to keep from sliding around the rear of the Ford, struggling to get his seat belt on before they made it to the street. Steve just hung onto the dash as he usually did when Higgins got to driving like this, thoughts racing through his head that Terri was going up against something that was far more powerful than she had ever imagined.
"Get Richards on the phone," ordered Higgins, irritated that Steve was not already doing that. He could understand what his friend was thinking but he did not like it. Distractions led to people getting killed, and Higgins did not want to see any of his friends end up like that.
Richards was on the phone in less than a minute, cursing up a storm that they had not learned this sooner. Apparently the Section was tied into most police computer systems, constantly looking for little red flags signaling possible trouble, but this report had not been entered yet and thus had not come to their attention.
"What's you ETA?" asked Richards.
"About five minutes if Higgins doesn't wrap us around a pole," replied Steve, hanging onto the door handle as Higgins took a right turn at fifty, barely missing a, now angry, Indian male who had had to jump back out of the way and landed in a muddy pothole.
"Don't try and take him by yourselves," instructed Richards. "I've got a team prepping now, we'll be there in ten minutes. Anthony's has a helipad on the roof, that's where we'll meet you."
"Don't forget to bring me a really big gun," finished Steve before the connection went dead.
Higgins took a left, a very sharp left, running a light that had just turned red and narrowly avoiding the already advancing traffic. Nolan could not help but wonder which situation was more dangerous; the one he was in or the one he was heading to.
Nelson had met some freaks in his few years on the force, but none like the young woman standing in the hallway now. He placed her in her late 20s or early 30s, with long blonde hair, and fairly nice frame though he liked his woman a little bigger. She was wearing jeans and sweatshirt, and sported one of those hip pouches that a lot of women were wearing nowadays. He had noticed that she had come to a sudden stop as she rounded the corner, apparently in response to his presence, and had dropped just as suddenly to one of the small benches that dotted the halls of the hospital.
She appeared harmless enough, setting on the bench as she clutched a small leather pouch in her hands, whispering something under her breath. Nelson decided to wait and see what she did, a feeling of peace falling over him.
Everything is going to be okay, he told himself. This place is secure against evil.
Terri kept reciting the spell of peace, the only one that she could come up with on such short notice. She hoped that it would install the feeling of security that it was intended to, smothering any desire that Himmel might have about escaping. She had felt the taint of his being before she had even entered the hospital, and she knew that he was a powerful force.
She just hoped she was up to the task of keeping him in place until the others arrived.
A shadow passed by her, and for a second Terri felt the exact same force of evil in two different places at the same moment. She looked up to see a large man covered in an overcoat and floppy hat walking down the hall.
Something was not right.
She concentrated on the man and gasped as the backwash of power flowed over her, nearly bringing on panic. This was too much power, more power than she could even hope of matching. Something evil was in this building, and it was not even remotely human in nature.
Terri broke her spell, the policeman at the door immediately coming alert to the walking mountain of a man that was approaching him. The bright lights of the hall served to create a pool of shadow under the man's oversized hat but Nelson got the impression of a hard-set face in that darkness. His instincts screamed at him that something was wrong, and he was not going to wait around to find out what it was. He pulled his revolver and trained it on the advancing man.
"Hold it right there, pal!" he barked
The man was now less than ten feet away, his gate not slowing at all.
"That's close enough!"
"Freeze, damn it!"
Nelson fired, a hole appearing in the coat, directly at the man's chest, but it did not even slow him.
Two more shots rang out before the man reached the officer, his fist slamming out and punching a hole through Nelson's chest and out his back. Nelson's body hung there, impaled on the golem's arm, twitching violently in the throes of death, as the door he had been guarding swung open to reveal a second officer.
"Tony?" asked the officer in a hushed voice as his mind tried to process the image before him. His gun was in hand but it hung at his side in useless shock.
The golem jerked its arm back and the body fell to the floor with a wet thud. It turned and looked at the second officer, snapping the man out of his shock.
Slamming the door shut and locking it, the cop leaned against it, his breath coming in ragged gasps as tried to decide what to do. His eyes fell on the previously unconscious man in the bed who was now setting up, a huge smile across his demonic face.
"What the hell is that thing?" screamed the officer.
"Why officer Healey," responded the man, "It's your death."
A huge arm crashed through the door and wrapped around Healey's chest. With a tug, the golem pulled Healey through the door and out into the hall. Himmel smiled as if hearing music as the golem quickly killed the second officer, crushing him with a bear hug that collapsed his lungs and lacerated his insides with the broken bits of his ribs.
Putting on his overcoat, Himmel stepped out into the hallway to view his surroundings first hand. A few doctors and nurses were standing around in shocked silence, one of the younger nurses screaming at the top of her lungs. Himmel tuned out everything and turned to face Terri, still setting on the bench, a look of sheer terror on her face.
"You've been a naughty girl," spoke Himmel. "I think we should dispose of you while we have the opportunity."
The golem turned and stride towards Terri, who remained where she was, shaking her head back and forth as she babbled "No, no, no, no," over and over.
Two men rounded the corner, one of them grabbing Terri and throwing her to the ground as the other hefted up a strange looking weapon. For a moment Himmel was amused by the situation, then he remembered the weapon; he had seen it through the eyes of his golem that had been destroyed at the house.
And the two men, he had seen them there also.
That such a large looking weapon would make such a small sound was almost funny. The resulting explosion was anything but. The golem blew apart in a shower of dust and stone, much of it pelting the helpless witnesses and Himmel. The necromancer went down, as did many others, from the concussion of the explosion, but was not injured otherwise. He began scrambling down the hall, climbing over the others in a bid to make his escape.
Section agents poured into the hallway from every possible entrance, several of them grabbing hold of Himmel, the rest starting to evacuate the civilians. In a few minutes they had the hallways cleared, what few patients that had been on the floor secured in their rooms until they were finished.
Richards stood next to Himmel, holding onto the titanium handcuffs that held Himmel's hands behind him. He was checking Himmel's coat when he found what he was looking for. From an inside pocket he withdrew the Necronomicon, its large form not having been noticeable at all through the man's coat.
"What are you?" asked Richards.
Himmel merely smiled at him.
Richards started towards the elevator, dragging Himmel along with him. Carl, Steve, and Terri followed him, two heavily armed agents at the lead and rear. They were not going to take any chances with Himmel, he was too dangerous, and had been free far too long.
As they waited for the elevator, Himmel began chuckling softly.
"Something amusing?" asked Richards.
"This is not over yet, Special Agent Richards," replied Himmel, surprising Richards with his name.
"You know me?"
"I know all about Section Seven. You think that you technology can stop the forces of darkness, the forces of the Great Evil One. But, you are ignorant to the true power of who you face."
"Something's wrong," blurted Terri, a sense of dread building up in her.
"It's okay, Terri, we got him," offered Steve, trying to comfort her. He thought that she might still be in shock from the recent events.
Terri knew what she felt, that something was most definitely wrong. It seemed to be getting closer; a danger that she had felt before but did not recognize. It was the same feeling of evil that had blanketed her when…when the golem had passed her in the hall!
The elevator had arrived.
"There's another one!" she cried out in warning, but it was too late.
A bronze form stepped out of the elevator and heat washed over them. Where the other golems had been lacking in features, this one was complete in every detail. It reached out and latched onto the two agents in front, its massive hands completely encompassing their heads. The stench of burning flesh permeated the air as the two men began screaming in agony.
A hissing sound could be heard as the two men became motionless, their brains boiling within their skulls from the immense heat radiating from the golem. As their hair caught fire, it released them, their bodies sliding down as they burst into flames.
The others had already begun back peddling, trying to put distance between them and the bronze golem. Shifting positions, the rear guard was now at the front, and they opened fire on the gleaming creature. Silver, Teflon coated slugs tore into the thing, each of the holes immediately sealing up as drops of liquid fire sprayed out.
The golem lunged and got a grip on the closest man, who began screaming in horror. His uniform began smoking and he could feel his skin blistering beneath it. His misery was cut short as the golem swung him around into the path of bullets being fired by his partner, his body armor barely slowing up the special rounds as they ripped into him.
Turning to run, the second man was slammed by the tossed body of his partner, blackness enveloping his senses as he was knocked out. The golem ignored the non-threat and proceeded down the hallway after Himmel and the others.
Rounding the corner, the golem saw his quarry vanish around another corner at the far end of the hallway. Seven threats separated it from its goal, and the golem did not hesitate to engage them in battle. It stalked down the hall, swatting left and right at those that challenged it, its super hot skin burning through everything it touched.
In less than a minute it had left a trail of burnt and broken bodies in its wake.
The turn ended in a small alcove that held a second set of elevators and stairway door. The golem hesitated, listening for its master's voice, and it immediately knew where to go. It smashed in the door to the stairway and began trudging upwards.
The group arrived on the roof in time to see a second bronze golem finish destroying the helicopter that the Section agents had arrived in. The golem's hands had torn through the metal as if it were paper, the pilot now a blackened corpse and the co-pilot lying on the caved-in roof of a car twenty-three stories below.
Steve aimed his weapon at the golem and fired before anyone could react.
A massive hole momentarily appeared in the golem's chest as it staggered back a step then resealed. They heard the thud of the explosion but the animated being remained intact. For a few seconds it seemed to glow even brighter, then slowly faded down to its original gleam.
"What the fuck was that?" demanded Steve.
"I think you just fed him," replied Richards.
"We've got a problem," announced Higgins.
"No, that." He pointed behind them to where the first bronze golem was emerging from the stairwell.
"Let me go and you can live," offered Himmel.
"Not a chance," rebuked Richards, heading away from the two creatures.
The others followed, Carl and Steve firing off useless shots at the two beings in a vain attempt to slow them down. They quickly ran out of roof, reaching the edge and finding only a window washer's rig that could probably hold three of them, but not all them.
"You guys first," ordered Richards.
Terri and Steve climbed onto the rig, Steve studying the controls as Higgins argued with Richards.
"Mike, you can't hold them."
"I don't need to, they won't attack while I've got a gun to their boss's head." To demonstrate he pulled his gun and put the barrel against Himmel's temple. The golems ceased their advance, watching silently in response to the threat. "You three go on, then I'll come down with Himmel."
Higgins hesitated for a moment.
Nodding, Higgins climbed onto the rig and Steve activated it. The platform began dropping slowly, their view of the roof soon gone.
"Stop it," instructed Carl, Steve responding immediately.
They were before a dark window, three stories down from the roof. Carl pulled out his gun and fired several shots into the glass, shattering it. The glass was designed to keep someone from falling against it and breaking it, not to keep out bullets. A light kick and it was no longer an obstacle, Steve helping Terri in as Higgins told them that he was going back up for Richards.
On the roof, with the others gone, the golems began their advance again, slowly edging towards the agent and his captive. Richards pressed the barrel of his gun harder against Himmel's head and instructed him to have his creatures back off.
"I only offer guidance to these two, their master is a force more powerful than I," responded Himmel, apparently at ease with the situation.
"Back them off!" yelled Richards.
Himmel merely began laughing, a dark rumbling sound that actually caused a shiver to run through the experienced agent. With the golems less than two yards away, Richards made a decision he hoped he would not regret. He shoved Himmel at the two radiant beasts, their reaction what he had hoped for as they stumbled backwards to keep from unintentionally injuring him.
The gap between the two golems was not large enough that Richards felt comfortable dodging between them, but he did not know what other choice he had. His body twisted as he made to push off when he was suddenly grabbed from behind, the unexpected force pulling him back over the short wall that encircled the roof.
He landed with a thud in the window rig, the look of panic on his face vanishing as he watched Carl work the controls and reverse the direction of the platform. The rig started back down, moving slower than either of them could have imagined possible.
Himmel's voice echoed out from above them in an unknown language, and both men knew that they only had seconds to make their escape. Higgins repeated his window-destroying maneuver, not even bothering to stop the rig; its descent was that slow. He helped Richards up and they both vaulted through the shattered window, landing in a heap in a huge utility room.
From outside of the window came the metallic pinging sound of cables snapping and the rig dropped from view. Hands that burnt flesh on contact and rendered helicopters to shreds had little problem severing two-inch thick metal cables.
As Higgins rose from the floor, a sharp pain flared in his leg and shot up his side. Apparently he had not shattered the window well enough, a large thick piece of glass embedded in his leg. It was bleeding freely but not great enough to indicate that he had hit an artery. Putting weight on it was out of the question as he nearly toppled over, Richards catching him to keep him from hitting the floor again.
"Damn, you're a mess," noted Richards as he helped Higgins down to a setting position.
They were in a small storeroom filled with pharmaceutical supplies, and Richards helped himself to some of the items. In a few minutes he had the piece of glass out of Higgins' leg and the wound wrapped in thick gauze. It was a temporary bandage, the gash would definitely need stitches, but it would serve for now.
As he let Higgins rest for a moment, Richards studied their surroundings and learned they were in a supply room at the rear of an operating room. Through the thick glass window next to the locked door he could see the operating table; multi-armed lights; cabinets filled with surgical instruments; and tanks labeled oxygen.
A key was required for the door lock so Richards pulled his gun and blasted the lock. He made his way to the O/R doors and peered out cautiously. The outer area was devoid of people, hopefully because his men were getting the hospital evacuated, and he exited the O/R to explore the short hallway that led out to a nurses' station and splintered off in three different directions. He was about to turn and retrieve Carl when he heard the heavy thuds from down the hall that told him this was not over yet.
He dodged back into the O/R as one of the golems strode by the nurses' station, its head turning from left to right as it looked for its quarry. Risking a glance, Richards saw that he had not been fast enough, the golem having come to a stop and starring down the hall in their direction. With little hesitation, it turned and marched towards the O/R, Richards cursing as he stumbled back, trying to decide what to do.
As he frantically scoured the room for anything he could use, a plan blossomed in his head, and he immediately wondered if it was crazy enough to work. He ran over to the wall and undid the straps that held the row of oxygen tanks in place, quickly spinning one of the tanks on its end to shift it over to the doors. With a grunt of exertion he lowered the tank to the floor, butting it up against the doors, then pushed over a gurney so that it held the tank in place.
Returning to the storeroom, Richards grabbed up a couple boxes of cotton and tossed one to Higgins.
"You might want to pack you ears," he offered as he ripped open his box and started stuffing the white fluffy balls into his ears. "This could be loud."
The golem crashed through the O/R doors, nearly tripping over the obstacles that had been dropped in front of the door. Bellowing with rage, the golem picked up the tank to toss it aside, its hands instantly burning into the metal canister.
Richards dropped to the floor, trying to cover Higgins some as the oxygen tank exploded. The blast caught and ignited the second tank, the fireball blowing out the doors and windows of the room in a tremendous whoosh.
Crystallized glass showered down on the two men as an arm of fire lashed over them and out the window they had entered through. Bits of burning material and metal pelted them as the fireball receded, the stink of ozone and charred things filling their senses. The wash of heat had left them both drenched in sweat, but the breeze being pulled back in the window to fill the sudden vacuum was already cooling them.
Richards rose to peer over what was left of the blackened wall that separated them from the O/R and smiled as he spotted the bits of bronze spread through out the flame etched room.
"Oh, shit," muttered Richards as he looked down at Higgins.
Carl followed the other man's gaze and saw where a metal rod had penetrated the wall and impaled his thigh. Funny, he thought, I don't even feel that. Then he passed out.
Higgins sat up as Steve, Terri, Nolan, and Richards entered the room. His wounds had been serious enough that they were keeping him for a few days, but it would not be long before he was back to work. An agent had been on duty when he had woken, and he had asked the man to summon the others so he could find out what had transpired after he passed out.
"Nice try, Higgs, but I think my injuries were more serious," joked Steve.
Terri handed him a small leather pouch, with instructions to keep it close, as it would help speed his healing. "You can see how well it works," she offered, pointing out that Steve was no longer wearing his cast, at least two weeks ahead of schedule.
"What about Himmel?" asked Carl, turning his attention to Richards.
"Twenty three men dead, and we didn't even capture the bastard," he replied, a haunted look in his eyes that told Carl some of what the man was feeling.
"But we have the Necronomicon?"
"Yeah, it's already been secured in our vault until we can arrange for it to be transported to our facilities in Washington. Once it's secure, there's no way in hell that Himmel will ever get his hands on it again."
"I hope you're right, Mister Richards," offered Terri. "I felt something when I was near him, an evil greater than I would have ever thought could exist."
"He's an evil bastard, all right."
"No, there's more to him than that. It was if…"
"What?" asked Steve, holding her to offer support.
"He wasn't of evil…he is evil. Everyone has an aura about them, but his was pure black, like a bottomless pit that you fall into forever."
"Well, what ever his plans are, it's evident that he needs the Necronomicon for them. He's going to have to come to us this next time," explained Richards. "And we'll be ready for him."
Himmel sat in the muck of the sewer, his body severely sore and drained from the last few days. The guardian that his master had sent lay on the ground, cold and lifeless now that he was free. He did not know if the other one had been able to kill the Section agents or not, and it did not matter. They knew who he was, again, and that meant it was time to change.
He had an idea of who it would be, he had been using a local gang to gather some items for him, and one of their members came to him frequently. It had been a long time since he had had a youthful form, and he thought that it would be a nice change.
The time was near; he had almost everything that he needed. Over the span of time that he had been on this world he had been building the power needed to open the gateway that would allow his master and the armies of hell to arrive and ravish this world. Soon, the time would come for the final sacrifices to be carried out and all would be complete.
The seas will burn.
The dead shall rise.
The living shall perish.
It will be hell on earth.