A PLAGUE OF FROGS: AN AU PARODY
Disclaimer: These characters aren't mine. I'm just having a ton of fun at their expense. Much of the dialogue and narration is mine, but some is taken from John Byrne's narration and dialogue from Hellboy: Seed of Destruction.
A Plague of Frogs—An AU Parody of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy: Seed of Destruction
I just couldn’t believe it when the guys at Bureau headquarters in Fairfield contacted me to say that Trevor Bruttenholm was back in his old brownstone in Brooklyn, asking for me to come and see him. Close to ten months ago the old coot went missing on an expedition in the mountains of Tibet and no one’d seen hide nor hair of the Professor until he called them this morning.
Stupid idiots in Connecticut had to go and retrench funds again; so I end up dragging my sorry butt, big gun, long coat, and all, through the commuter railroad from Connecticut and the number 6 line from Manhattan. I hate when I have to do that.
It’s not so much the staring; you do get used to that after fifty years of life and close to forty-two years of chasing the detritus of the demonic world down these mean streets. It’s these damn Japanese-made trains with their narrow doors and even more narrow seats, and those subway stations with those tiny stairwells and token turnstiles. I left a bit of my leather coat in that last one.
The Professor had better have a darn good explanation of why he’d gone missing all these months. Really, I’ve been trying to get Tom Manning to see since that last trip we’d taken together to England five years ago that the absent-minded guy’s marbles were starting to roll just a little loose.
After we’d got back from that trip, he had everyone back in headquarters convinced his house was infested with tiny pixies. I get out to Brooklyn to find this ‘infestation’ of his was more along the lines of little furry things with whiskers and tails. He keeps forgetting to close the doors onto his courtyard.
Some years back, I had met Mike and Gabe Angelo; two pest exterminators from Bensonhurst who found that one of their customers had something lurking in the basement that was definitely more along my line than theirs. They returned the favor and helped me get rid of the Professor’s ‘pixies’.
I’ve only dealt with them ever since; they know when to keep their mouths shut about certain things and take it completely in stride that the Professor is convinced they’re archangels in disguise.
When I finally made my way to the house from the closest subway station, it was getting pretty dark. At first, it seemed that no one was home; but then I could see that the lights were on in the topmost floor of the house where the Professor had his study. God, how many times over the years had I reported to him in that very study? That was before the old guy had let Tom Manning take over most of the day-to-day operations from that special facility built for the Bureau in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Fishing around in the inner pockets of my coat, I turned up the key to the front door and let myself in. Noticing a draft coming from the rear of the narrow house, I carefully passed through an unlit sitting room and living room to find that the glass doors leading onto the courtyard had been left open again. As I used my normal-sized left hand to push the doors closed, I could swear I saw something leap away in the darkness. I hoped it wasn’t what I thought it was.
Moving back toward the stairway in the center of the house, thankfully a wider one than those in the subway stations, I made my up to the fourth floor where the Professor’s study was located.
As I got to the top of the stairs, just before pushing the door to the study open, I heard the end of a cassette tape the Professor made in 1979 about how he and some others found me in that abandoned church in England in 1944. They called it the ‘Hellboy Incident’ after he had called me by that name.
“It’s good to see you back, sir,” I said as I walked into the room; but I’m not sure I like what I see. After all, this is the man who had been like a father to me. To see him looking even more befuddled than he had been before the expedition to Tibet was upsetting.
“You came,” he peered up at me in the dim light in the study, “Thank you.” He stared at me in silence for a few more minutes. “Funny, you’re a lot larger than I remember you being, my boy.”
I tried not to sigh; over the last several years, this has happened almost every time he listened to that old cassette tape. I’m beginning to wonder if I should just hide the blasted thing.
Still, it was hard not to smile, “I think I’ve grown a bit since then, sir.”
He blinked, and then gave a chuckle, seeming just a little more like the English-born paranormal whiz kid from my childhood in New Mexico. “Why, of course, you have, my boy. My memory seems to be playing tricks on me again, I’m afraid.”
Just as I was about to try to pry out of him why he wandered away from that group in the mountains of Tibet and how he ever managed to get all the way back to Brooklyn alone, an odd croaking sound came from under his old wooden desk.
I stooped to see what was making that noise, then turned toward the Professor who had jumped up from his chair at the same time that I first heard the croaking. “Sir, you’ve got frogs.”
An absolute look of terror crossed his elderly face. With a shriek, he dashed through a set of glass doors that led into a room where he kept a large collection of books, statues, and other artifacts.
“Run, in God’s name, Hellboy,” he cried as he took off, “Get away! Save yourself! It’s the sa-gnyan, terrible Tibetan frog demons.”
There was a loud crash from the other room. Walking up to the double glass doors that were left standing open, I tried to peer into the dark room. “Sir?” I ventured a little further in. “Sir…?”
The silence worried me. So, stupid idiot that I was, I charged headlong into a pitch-black room and tripped right over a fallen statue. As I straightened up, I was more than relieved to hear the question, “Are the frog demons gone, my boy?”
“Let me go check,” I grunt. Returning into the study, I pull out my cannon-sized pistol and get off a few rounds, which smash a number of minor relics and statues. I never claimed to be a great shot, but with all that stuff, he probably wouldn’t miss those things anyway; and I noted that most of the little green things scattered to the four corners of the room.
“It’s safe to come out now, sir. All the froggies are gone.” At my assurance, the Professor came back into his study. One thing I do have to say about him; he’s always trusted me, even from that 1944 day in East Bromwich, England when my infant self came from where-the-hell-ever in a ball of fire.
I thought he had looked tired when I first entered the study; now he looked totally exhausted.
I coaxed him down to the third floor, where the bedrooms were located; and, after getting him into a clean nightshirt, put him to bed in a thankfully frogless room.
Going back up to the study, I noticed the little green things hopping around again. I looked more closely at these ‘terrible Tibetan frog demons’; they just looked like frogs to me. New York’s had a lot of rain recently and who knows what critters have been multiplying in that courtyard. I really should get someone to bolt those doors shut, so the Professor’d stop leaving them open all the time.
Digging the Professor’s more than ancient phone out from under a pile of papers, I first make a call back to the Bureau headquarters in Connecticut to tell Manning what’s what and to tell him I’m sticking around Brooklyn for a while.
I then pull a dog-eared business card out from one of the pouches of my belt.
Angelo’s Exterminators: We Pester Your Pests was blazoned across the front of the card with both a local 718 and a toll-free 800 number. The back of the card gave Mike and Gabe’s names and the address of their main offices in Bensonhurst. I know it’s late, but the guys are always game for coming over and helping me to ‘banish’ the Professor’s latest crop of ‘demons’.
Then we’ll hit the local Starbucks for cappuccinos and then the local pizza joint for pile of large pies and a couple of pitchers of beer. Now that I think of it, it shouldn’t be such a bad visit home after all.
Author’s afterword: Many apologies to Mike Mignola, wondrous creator and artist of Hellboy, and John Byrne who scripted the first Hellboy miniseries Seed of Destruction to Mike’s story of the death of Trevor Bruttenholm and how those events changed Hellboy’s life. It was Mr. Byrne’s inimitable first-person prose that I was attempting to parody above. After this first issue, Mike scripted his Hellboy comics himself, but never again, if I recall, in the first person from Hellboy’s POV.
I intended no denigration to Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, which is a very powerful graphic novel. My copy of such has a round yellow label that states: The Book that Inspired the Motion Picture! This has been very confusing to some who had seen the movie adapted from Mignola’s Hellboy series and were not familiar with the original comics. A lot more of that series had gone into the script to the movie than just Seed of Destruction.
That being said, I’ve always gotten a kick out of the line “Sir, you have frogs,” and this AU parody is the result. It was fun keeping Trevor Bruttenholm alive. The title of my fic derives from one of the titles in the the B.P.R.D. spinoff comics, where, unfortunately the frogs are not exactly the kinder, gentler creatures I portray above.
Thanks for reading. All feedback welcome, Beth Palladino
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