If you’d care to start our story at the beginning:
Part One: Desert Stray
Part Two: Fragile Hosts
Part Three: The Final Ride Of Joe Pesci
Part Four: Hunter and Prey
Part Five: Low Voltage
Part Six: Fire and Smoke
Part Seven: Juggling Act
Part Eight: Kicked Into High Gear
Part Ten: J.J.’s Garage
* * * * *
The creature fed, feeling its strength returning. Then it felt something else. A presence.
The hunter and his pet, the manforms the creature couldn’t inhabit. They were close, mere miles and closing.
The hunter who had set traps for it, meaning to end its existence merely for being what it was.
Well, the creature could set traps as well.
It eyed the acetylene tanks in the corner.
Anita pulled to a stop and turned off the squad car’s spinning lights. The street in front of J.J.’s was quiet, like someone had hit a cosmic Mute button, save for a yipping dog that someone had left tied to a trash can across from the garage.
“Can you believe they let some people have dogs?” Irvin asked his partner, noticing her see the dog.
Anita gave a noncommittal nod then put her hand on her service gun, leaving it holstered, and walked toward the darkened garage’s entrance.
“Ah, dammit,” Irvin said.
Anita turned to see what drew her partner’s attention. An unmarked car was pulling up next to them; its headlights pointed onto J.J.’s accusingly.
“Officers,” Rory said, getting out of his car. “What’s going on?”
“We just got here,” Irvin grunted. “But we’ve got this.”
“I know the layout,” Rory said, walking in front of the beams from his car. His shadow stood twenty feet tall along the wall. “Let’s do this by the book. I’ll go around back; you two take the front.”
Anita didn’t see the point in arguing who did what and headed toward the entrance.
Irvin finally followed.
“Screw that guy with his pants on,” he whispered to Anita. “Seriously, we can’t handle a disturbance call?”
Anita pushed the front door to J.J.’s open with her left hand and drew her gun with her right. Rory showing up made things feel more tense for some reason.
“Police,” she announced. “Did someone call for help?”
Behind J.J.’s Garage
Rory crept alongside the garage, keeping mindful of the corner he was nearing. Noises up ahead, someone dragging something heavy, meant he wasn’t alone.
“This is the police,” Rory drew his gun as he met the corner. He couldn’t find the source of the noises in the empty back lot. “I’m going to need whoever is out here to come out with their hands up where I can see them.”
The wind was all that replied.
Inside J.J.’s Garage
Irvin was getting annoyed. It was looking more and more like someone was jerking their collective chains. There was nobody here. Prank calls came with the territory on Halloween.
“‘Nita, I don’t see anyone. Let’s leave Cap’n Half-Ass to handle this.” Irvin said from across the garage. “There’s just a bunch of oil spilled and — wait a minute.” He bent down to better inspect the puddle.
“You got something?” Anita asked when he went quiet.
“This ain’t oil, it’s –” Irvin was saying as an engine block swung from chains suspended from the ceiling. The pitch was perfect, catching him center mass and flinging him through the garage door into the street.
Anita yelled, firing her gun at the shape in the rafters.
Her aim was not as good.
Rory walked through the door into the rear of the garage and almost threw up.
There was J.J.’s daughter, her face all mangled, strewn out next to what had once been someone dressed as a priest. Entrails snaked out from the body — minus its head and right arm — as though the holy man had swallowed a stick of dynamite.
As he wretched, double over, something sharp drove through Rory’s shoulder from behind.
“Sorry,” J.J. said. She left the shard of scrap metal in Rory’s shoulder and picked up two acetylene tanks. Her arms were purple, as was her neck and half of her face. “But I’ve got to get these someplace, and I’ve no time to wait for your consciousness to become malleable.”
Rory desperately tried to pull out the makeshift weapon in his back as someone inside the garage started shooting.
J.J. walked away carrying nearly a quarter-ton hiked up on her shoulders with no more effort than if she were carrying groceries.
Blake & Summers Building
“I know I didn’t knock you out,” Dusty said over the police officer he’d just kicked in the head. He looked at Lauren for confirmation. She nodded. “So get up.”
Rory rolled over, the wound in his shoulder causing him to gasp.
“He’s really hurt,” Lauren said and made to move to Rory.
“We don’t have time.” Dusty took Lauren by the shoulder and walked her toward the elevator.
“Stop,” Rory tried to yell. “Stop right there.”
Dusty and Lauren didn’t look back.
“It doesn’t work,” Lauren said about the elevator.
“I figured,” Dusty grunted. “You’ll have to do it.”
Worry shot across Lauren’s face.
“You’ll be fine,” Dusty told her. “I have faith in you.”
With a determined grimace, Lauren focused on the elevator doors. Her hands began to shake in the effort, so she placed them in front of her, splaying her fingers apart.
The doors flew open, shattered.
Lauren fell to the floor.
Smoke and debris billowed down the shaft from the floors above. Dusty looked up, squinting through the smoke.
“We’re in luck,” he said. “The elevator crashed to the bottom. I’ll climb us up on these cables. Hop up.” He said, turning his back to the young girl.
“I – I don’t know if I –” Lauren’s eyes teared up.
“Hop up.” Dusty waited, his back to her.
Lauren climbed up onto his back, and the pair disappeared up the shaft as Rory could only watch.
Blake & Summers Building
Eric and Tiffany tried to break out some of the windows on the north side using office chairs but to no avail.
“It’s no use,” Tiffany said. “These things are probably bulletproof.” She dropped the chair.
“We’re getting out of here,” Eric assured her. “Ayasha’s guys’ plan is sound.”
“Speaking of my guys,” Ayasha said. “What the hell is taking them so long. Marcus! Christopher! What’s our E.T.A. on getting out of this place before it falls?”
Marcus peeked around the corner of the office from where he and Christopher were working. “Two shakes, I promise! I, erm, we could use an extra set of hands in here, though. Just one more of you would do it.”
“I’ll go,” Eric said.
Ayasha and Tiffany sat in silence for a moment, and then looked at each other.
They both started laughing.
“Can you believe this?” Ayasha asked, drying her eyes. “We finally get a chance to talk and the world blows up!”
“We are in a building that’s currently on fire, and I finally feel like my best friend’s back.” Tiffany smiled.
The elevator doors crinkling apart interrupted their conversation.
“Jesus!” Eric yelled, stopping five feet from the office where he was bound for the creature’s embrace.
Dusty stepped out of the elevator shaft, and Lauren slid down off his back onto shaky legs.
“Remember, you’ve got to hold it in place while I perform the ritual,” Dusty said as he removed the long, thin blade from the scented cloth.
Lauren shivered. She remembered.
“Who the fuck are you?” Ayasha asked, getting up and walking toward the new arrivals. Tiffany followed behind her.
“Watch out, Ayasha,” Eric warned. “Guy’s got weapons.”
“Did you do this to my studio?” Ayasha yelled. “Try and blow us up like some half-assed terrorist?”
Marcus reached a hand out for Eric, grabbing him by the face.
“Man, get the fu-” Eric’s eyes went blank.
“No!” Lauren yelled. Her hands shot up as though she were performing with an invisible marionette. Neon green energy filled her eyes.
Marcus froze in place. The blood vessels in his hands and face began to burst.
“Hold him!” Dusty yelled, rushing the creature, blade at the ready.
Dark purple energy began to seep from the body of Marcus, flowing into the room like ink in a bucket of water.
“You will not win this day,” Marcus’ mouth spoke with a voice that was not his. “I will eat your heart, hunter.”
Dusty began to slow his advance against his intention as the creature’s dark purple energy gripped him.
Lauren’s head whipped back as the green energy emanating from her began to fill the room as well, pushing against the creature’s dark purple power.
Nobody else could move as the battle commenced.
“Keep at it!” Dusty ordered Lauren. “Don’t you dare ease up!”
“B-but, I can’t,” Lauren cried. “I’ll –.”
“DO IT!” Dusty screamed.
A sound like a bomb exploding underwater blasted in the room, and everyone in it fell unconscious.
Blake & Summers Building
Paramedics hoisted Eric up on a gurney and began transporting him to the makeshift exit. Tiffany had gone ahead of him.
“What do you think was wrong with that little girl?” one firefighter asked another. “She’s catatonic. And those eyes! I’m gonna have nightmares.”
“You are? What about that bald dude with the funky arms?” his co-conversationalist responded. “His head was spun completely around!”
“Stifle it, you two,” another firefighter said. He pointed at Ayasha who was walking with purpose.
“We need to get you out of her, ma’am,” the classier of the firefighters told her.
“One minute,” Ayasha said. “I want to tell my listeners that I’m okay. My guys died so that I could.”
She walked into the booth and flipped a switch. A red light suggested that power was on, so Ayasha grabbed the mic.
“To everybody listening out there, I just want to say: This is Ayasha After Dark, and I feel amazing! So, on this special Halloween, listen closely. Hear my words. Lu eribu, wardum!”
Sherie thought that this had to be the craziest Halloween night in the history of the town. It was chaos! Ranging from property damage to murder. Every cop on duty was out on call, and they’d started bringing in County as well.
“Dispatch,” Sherie sighed. She didn’t know how much she had in her before she started screaming. “Go ahead.”
“Hey, Sherie,” Rory’s voice came over the radio.
“What do you need, Rory?” Sherie snapped. This guy she didn’t need.
“Lu eribu, wardum.”
It was a phrase that Sherie repeated throughout the night to every officer whose ear she had.
Which was all of them.