When the four men emerged from the stairway the first thing that they saw was a burst of light erupt from the exhibition hall. It was followed by what sounded like a huge clap of thunder and then a police officer's limp body flew through the door and crash into the opposite wall. The impact caused two paintings to fall from the wall which set off the alarm again. The chief and Fines both pulled their guns out of their holsters.
"Whoever is in there needs to come on out with their hands up," Fines called. "We don't want to have to hurt you!"
The sound of wind blowing filled their ears and an icy breeze rushed through the corridor. A voice called from inside. Every one of them felt as if the voice were coming from inside their own mind.
"Please," it called. It sounded like a low growl but also had a gargle to it as if it were coming from under water. "Come and try!"
"That didn't sound human," the professor said. "Oh my god!"
"Professor, calm down!" Daniel said. "It has to be human. What else can it be?"
It stepped into the hall.
Most of it was still bones. Black bones that still looked as if they were made of rock. Its left arm, right leg, left side of its chest, and its whole head were that of a petrified skeleton. The rest of it not only had new, pink flesh, but also a very young and athletic build. It was looking at them with the crazy terrifying smile of a skull that had a bright yellow glow coming from its eyes.
The chief screamed and took off running. The thing held up its flesh covered hand and a crackle of raw energy erupted from it. The chief instantly vanished into a cloud of golden mist which the thing sucked up as if it were having a sip of soda. It moaned as new flesh began to grow across its bare arm. Lips and cheeks formed on its face.
Fines pointed his gun at the creature and fired. The thing held up its hands and the bullet stopped in midair. It pointed at the officer and the bullet reversed its trajectory. It hit Fines in the head and he fell to the floor. Dead.
"Run, Professor!" Daniel said. He turned to head back to the stairs and could feel the professor following him.
"Robbins!" the creature screamed. The professor froze in place. It was not that he did not want to run. The creature had forced him to stop. He slowly rose off of the ground and his body turned to face the thing.
"Stop!" Daniel screamed.
"Daniel!" the professor yelled back. "Go! Get out of here!"
"Robbins," the creature said. The energy that it had absorbed from the chief had mad it mostly normal again. It had the face of a man in his late twenties but he still had nothing but naked light where his eyes should be. His voice was less like a growl. Though when he spoke it sounded as if there were two voices coming from his mouth. "I must consume you. I will be complete."
"I pulled you out of the ground," Robbins said.
"And I thank you for that," the creature said. "But I must consume you."
Daniel watched in horror as the professor's body was reduced to mist and consumed by the creature. He did not wait his turn. He ran into the stairwell and flew down the stairs as quickly as his legs would carry him.
He had to get the kids and get out.
Tyler opened his eyes and woke with a jolt. He sat straight up and looked around himself. He was sitting in the middle of street and was surrounded by broken glasses. He breathed deeply.
He looked up and saw Megan running toward him. He remember what had happened now. She had to go back to the lobby and out the door to get to him. There was a police officer and a couple of other people coming toward him as well.
"Are you okay?" Megan asked as she got to his side. He was starting to get up and she gave him her hand to brace with.
Tyler looked down at his body. He had some tears in his clothes and there was a big patch of blood on his thigh. He had probably cut himself pretty good on the way down. But other than that he felt fine.
"I think so," he said. He looked down and saw the medallion lying on the ground next to where he was. It was different now. It did not look like an old relic. It was shiny and looked as if it were brand new. Hesitantly, he reached down and touched it. Nothing happened. He quickly swiped it up and put it into his coat pocket just as one of the policemen got to where he was.
"What happened?" the man asked. He looked at the glass all around them and back up at the two broken windows in the museum.
"The guy that set off the alarm came this way," Tyler said. He pointed down the street. "He got into a car and went that way."
"And how did you get out here?" the man asked.
Tyler shrugged. "I don't know," he said. "I guess I flew."
"Shots fired!" a voice called out over the officer's radio. "Shots fired! All units to Urban City Museum of Natural History! Shots fired on the third floor!"
All of the cops on the street took off running back to the museum entrance. Tyler and Megan followed them.
"Are you sure that you're alright?" Megan asked as they ran.
"I'm fine," he said. "I still don't know what happened but I'm fine."
Daniel burst from the stair well just as a group of officers was about to go up. He waved at them, gasping desperately for air. Tyler ran over to him and put his hand on his shoulder.
"Dad!" he said. "What's the matter?"
He shook his head and looked at one of the policemen. "Don't go up there!"
"Where is Sergeant Fines?" one of the men asked.
"He's dead!" Daniel replied. "They all are! Everyone that went up there is dead."
Daniel looked over and his shoulders slumped. He had not realized that Megan had been standing there. "I'm sorry, honey. Yes. We all need to get out of here right now!"
At that moment there was a burst of thunder from above them. Then another loud crash came from outside. They all looked out to the street and saw that huge piece of the building had fell on top of one of the police cars. A second later another, smaller object landed on top of it. It was a naked man.
"Who is that?" one of the cops said.
"That's him," Daniel said. "That's the guy that killed everyone."
The cops all ran out onto the front steps and drew their weapons on the man. One of them yelled for him to freeze. He sent a bolt of energy in that officer's direction and the man vanished. The other officers responded by opening fire. The naked man held his arms out and all of the bullets slowed down until they were floating about six feet away from him. He dropped his arms and all of the pieces of metal fell to the sidewalk.
"I can sense it!" the man yelled. "I know that it's here! But now is not the time! I must prepare!"
With that, he turned and ran down the street. The police all went after him, but by the time they had reached the bottom of the stairs he had vanished.
A few minutes later Daniel, Tyler, and Megan were sitting in the lobby in three of the chairs that were still there from dinner. An entire fleet of police cars were outside with their lights flickering in the darkness and there were police officers all over the museum. The coroner and a team of detectives were upstairs taking pictures and filling out reports. Another group of detectives and uniformed officers were busy trying to get fingerprints in the conference room and here in the lobby. And there was a detective standing here in front of them. He was not dressed like a detective that Tyler had seen in the movies. This man just had on a button up shirt and pair of blue jeans. He guessed that the man had been sleeping or something when he got called to come down here. He had a notepad and a pen in his hand and he had just finished listening to Daniel give his account of what had happened on the third floor. Even after the things that Tyler had seen tonight even he had a hard time believing what he was hearing.
"So, this guy was sucking people into his eyes?" the detective asked.
"I don't know," Daniel said. "He was feeding off of their souls or something. He got stronger every time he did it. I'm telling you that it was the skeleton that we had on display! It was encased in stone when it was brought in here and now its running around downtown!"
"Dad," Tyler said. "Calm down."
The detective turned to Tyler. "And the person you saw was a different guy?"
"Yes," Tyler replied. "I know that his first name is Raloam. I don't know his last name. He was here tonight with Anya Blake from the Channel Nine news."
"And you think that he stole something?" the man asked.
"I think so," Tyler said. He had to will himself not to reach down and touch the coin in his coat pocket. "But I don't know what."
"It was a medallion," Daniel said. "That's the only thing missing. Well, that and the skeleton."
"Do you have a picture of it?" the detective asked. Daniel reached into his pocket and pulled out one of the brochures that he had printed about tonight's event. He opened it and found a picture of the medallion and handed it to the man. "Thank you. Okay. I'm going to put in a report on this and I'll probably have some more questions for you tomorrow. In the meantime you all need to go home and get some rest. DCF is working on getting a place for Ms. Robbins to spend the night."
"Thank you, Detective," Daniel said.
The man handed Daniel a small piece of paper. "This is my card. My name is Detective Cruise. Call me if you remember anything else. Otherwise, I'll be in touch."
Detective Cruise walked away and Daniel stood up. He looked at Tyler and Megan.
"I've got a lot to do here tonight guys," he said. "But, Tyler, I'm going to have someone take you home. You have school tomorrow."
"Dad," Tyler started.
"Don't argue, son," Daniel said. "It's been a long day." He took Megan's hand and looked at her. "I'm sorry, honey. And I'm sorry for the way that you had to find out. Your grandfather was very good man."
"He like you very much, Mr. McDawn," Megan said.
Daniel smiled and turned. "Tyler, be in the parking garage in ten minutes. There will be a car there."
Tyler gave a little salute and turned to Megan.
"I'm sorry about your grandfather," he said.
"Thank you," she said.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
"I don't really know," she replied. "I don't really feel anything right now."
"You're in shock," he said.
Megan suddenly opened her eyes wide and looked at him. "Oh my god! Tyler, I totally forgot! Are you okay?"
"I told you I'm fine," he replied.
"But that thing blew you out the window like a cannon," she said. "How did it happen?"
Tyler reached into his pocket and pulled the medallion out and held it in his hand.
"I don't know," he said. "It's not doing anything now. But all of the age and corrosion is gone."
Megan took the medallion and looked at it. "It's beautiful. It looks brand new."
"I know," Tyler replied. "There's something about it. I felt the power come out of it."
An older lady in a blue suit walked over to them and put her hand on Megan's back.
"Hi," she said. "I'm with DCF. I need to talk to Megan for a few minutes."
"Okay," Tyler said. "I have to go, anyway. Call me tomorrow from where ever they take you."
Megan smiled. "I will."
"Do not answer that."
Anya looked over at Raloam. He was lying back in the seat with his eyes closed. A second later her phone started to ring. She rolled her eyes. She had given up a long time ago trying to figure out how he did that. She looked down at the display on the dashboard.
"It's my boss," she said. "I have to answer it."
"No you do not," Raloam said. "He is calling you to go cover the robbery. You can not take be back there."
"They won't know it was you until tomorrow," Anya said.
"Unless the kid gave them my name," Raloam said. "You had to introduce yourself."
Anya gritted her teeth. After a few more rings the phone stopped.
"Did you kill him?" she asked.
"What?" Raloam replied. "Of course not."
"I had to ask," she said. "It looked like a pretty big explosion back there and I'm almost positive I saw someone fall out of the window."
"It was the first floor," Raloam said. "He's fine."
"So, he has it now?" she asked. Raloam nodded silently. "I'm still not sure that this was the right thing to do."
"Anya, this was not your decision," Raloam said. "I am sorry. But it was something that I was going to have to do eventually."
"But as on edge as you got when they showed that skeleton I would have thought that you would have had second thoughts."
"It is not my fight anymore," Raloam said.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Anya said. "Everything that you've searched for all these years and you just want to stop?"
"The only thing that I have searched for is that medallion!" Raloam yelled. "I found it and I used it for its purpose!"
"That medallion's purpose was to create a sentry," Anya argued.
"And it has created one," Raloam replied.
"A kid that doesn't even know what's happened to him," she said. "You're not the man that I thought you were."
She reached over and switched on the radio.
"If you're just joining us we have reports coming in from the Urban City Museum of Natural History," a reporter was saying from the speakers. "We do not have anyone on the scene yet so we're not exactly sure what's happened down there. But what we do know is that there has been at least one explosion, an exchange of gunfire, and at least seven people are dead. We know that three of those were Urban City police officers. It is believed that this all stemmed from a robbery attempt after tonight's gala event. As soon as we have more information we will let you know."
Anya looked at Raloam.
"Damn," he said.
Tyler walked into the apartment and hung his coat on the hanger next to the door. It felt like it had been years since he had last been here even though it had only been a few hours. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled the medallion out. It laid there in the plam of his hand. The gold glittered in the dim light and the red jewel gleaming at him looked like an eye staring into his soul. He had never seen this thing before tonight, but somehow he felt like he had owned it his whole life. He looked at the etching on the surface. He had seen it earlier and thought that it looked like gibberish. As far as he knew it was not written in any language that has ever been known. Now, it looked strangely familiar.
"To the soul of a warrior," he said to himself. "The soul of a griffin." He did not know why he said that. He just felt like that was what the writing said. He laid the coin down on the table next to the door and went down the hall to the bathroom. He turned on the shower and started to get undressed. He winced as he pulled down his pants. He had not taken the time to look at the wound on his leg, but judging by the size of the blood stain in the fabric of his jeans it was going to be pretty bad.
He took a washcloth and wiped away the blood on his leg. There was a wound there but it was not much more than a scratch. It had pink skin and was a little red around the edges of it. It almost looked like he had gotten a bad cut weeks ago and it was well on its way to healing. He just stared at it. There was no way that a cut like that could have caused the amount of blood that he had on the thigh of his jeans. He shook his head in disbelief. This night could not get a whole lot wierder.
He pulled the rest of his clothes off and took a quick shower. It was now nearly two o'clock in the morning and he was going to be lucky to be able to get any sleep before it was time to go to school.
When he climbed out he heard could hear his phone ringing. It was still in his pants pocket. He retrieved it and swiped his finger across the screen to answer it.
"Hi, son," his father said from the other end of the line. "I just wanted to be sure that you got home alright."
"Yeah," he replied. "I'm just getting a shower and heading to bed."
"Good. Listen, things got so crazy around here before you left. I'm sorry about that. I realize now that you had blood on your leg. Are you okay?"
"Yeah, Dad," he said. "It was nothing. I just scratched it chasing after that Raloam guy." He left out the part about flying through a glass window into the street. He had managed to keep any of the cops from saying that to him and he would rather he not find out now. His dad had been through enough tonight.
"Okay," his dad said. "Well, take care of it. Put some peroxide on it and bandage it before you hit the sack. How was Megan?"
"She's okay for now," Tyler said. "I don't think she will be, though. It didn't seem like it had really hit her yet."
"I know," the older man replied. "Poor girl. Her parents are back in Greece. I called her dad a few minutes ago to tell him what happened. He's heading out tomorrow to get her and take her back."
"She's going back to Greece that soon?" Tyler asked.
"Well, it'll probably be a couple of days before she actually leaves," Daniel said. "But, yeah. I mean, probably. You really like her. Huh?"
"I guess," Tyler said. "Listen, Dad. I've got to get some sleep."
"Yeah," Daniel replied. "I probably won't be there when you get up in the morning. But I'll see you tomorrow night."
"Okay, Dad," Tyler said. "Good night."
"Good night, son," Daniel said.
Tyler ended the call and went into his bedroom, but he did not sleep.