A TALE OF 'DEMON' RIGHTS

Author's note: Hellboy once said of his father, "He loved me when others wanted to destroy me." As related in the story Father's Day Gifts, Trevor Bruttenholm had to make a long trip in June of 1949. Why had he been forced to make this trip? And what was it that happened later that year to make what should have been a special day so difficult for him? At the time, Hellboy was not completely aware of what was going on. He only knew that his father was determined never to let anything separate them.

A Tale of 'Demon' Rights: Part Two: Protect the Son

Trevor 'Broom' Bruttenholm, a British scientist of the paranormal, had been appointed by President Roosevelt in 1943 to be the director of the brand new FBI Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. It was during one of the Bureau's first field operations against Nazi occultists that Broom first encountered Hellboy.

Trevor Broom was still a British citizen and had discovered Hellboy on an island off the coast of Scotland. Therefore, in some circles, it was felt that the paranormal being that Broom had named Hellboy should become the property of the British government. On the other hand, the FBI felt that since Hellboy had been discovered by Broom while he was working for them that he belonged to the United States government.

All Trevor Broom knew was that he had become very attached to Hellboy and was only willing to reside in a country that allowed him guardianship of the infant demon. Broom eventually moved residence to the United States since President Roosevelt showed himself willing to allow Broom to keep custody of Hellboy. Roosevelt also wanted to keep Broom's BPRD operating after the war and still wished him to head it.

The British scientist and the demon child he came to look upon as his son eventually relocated to a secret Army base in New Mexico. This base became the first location after the war of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. A bungalow was constructed on the base that was to function both as headquarters for Broom's organization and as his residence.

Trevor Broom, as a scientist, was also eager to study Hellboy. While the appearance of the child looked to be just like a stereotypical red devil, complete with horns and tail, he also seemed to have some evidence in his tissues and blood plasma of human DNA.

There was a secret Congressional committee set up to study Hellboy and a series of tests were eventually conducted to see if it was possible to ascertain his true nature. Many scientists were secretly sent to New Mexico to conduct these tests and to meet the unique being that was the subject of this testing. These tests proved inconclusive.

Especially futile were any attempts to study Hellboy's right hand, which was extremely large for the size of the child and appeared to be made of solid stone.

Any tools or equipment used in the attempted study of the hand had a tendency to explode into sparks and shards of metal.

Even though the young Hellboy showed incredible resistance to pain, he did not enjoy these frequently invasive tests and often cried bitterly while they were being performed. As Trevor Broom became more attached to Hellboy, he became reluctant to put the child through even more drastic testing.

He decided to stop the tests all together since he felt they were yielding no useful results. Thus began a bitter tug of war between Trevor Broom, who felt that any more testing of this nature was not in the child's best interest, and the Congressional committee, who felt that Broom did not allow the testing to go far enough.

Professor Broom was called, in June of 1949, to attend further meetings of this committee. He reported what findings he had so far and explained his reasons for stopping the testing.

A certain senator who was a member of the committee spoke up, "We the members of this committee object to Professor Broom referring to this creature as his son. We consider that this tendency toward over- sentimentalizing has compromised his objectivity as a scientist and has interfered with the workings of this committee. Further testing must be performed if we are ever to determine the nature of this thing he insists on calling his son."

Broom retorted, "I will stop referring to Hellboy as son during these committee meetings if you insist that I do so. I would, therefore, ask in return that the members of this committee stop referring to Hellboy as 'creature' or 'thing'. However, this still does not negate my point that further testing is futile and will accomplish nothing more than putting Hellboy through needless pain."

The various members of the committee were not in agreement as to further action and Trevor Broom was sent back to New Mexico.

Hellboy, while his father had been away at these meetings, attended classes at the school on the base designed for the children of the personnel who resided there. Hellboy's own natural intelligence, combined with past tutoring by his father, meant that he was able to attend with the older students even though he was not yet five years old.

Trevor Broom, on his return, found that the base was involved in a Father's Day celebration that they had decided to institute that year. All of the children had written their fathers short essays to honor the occasion.

The only exception to this was Hellboy, who wasn't about to write an essay for any reason whatsoever.

Hellboy was later to feel rather guilty about this and somewhat tardily slipped a small note addressed to his father under his door.

Things on the base pretty much went on the same as usual after this time. It was decided that Hellboy was to continue attending the classes with the other children. He seemed to enjoy this and it gave him more of chance to interact with others.

Trevor Broom had started considering the possibility of other less invasive tests, such as psychological and intelligence tests, to research more about Hellboy. He was involved in developing this research when the calendar turned to December 23, the day before Christmas Eve and Hellboy's fifth birthday. It was on that day five years before that Broom had first encountered the demon he called his son.

Since Hellboy's birthday was so close to Christmas, Trevor Broom usually took the whole day off. The two of them would then spend the day together eating their favorite foods (especially chocolate) and watching their favorite movies.

Sometimes if the weather was amenable they would take Hellboy's dog Mac outside and have him chase a ball or fetch sticks. Last year the personnel on the base had turned an empty hangar into a kind of circus and put together a show to entertain Hellboy and his father.

This year Broom had been so busy that he had had little time to consider what he wanted to do to mark this day. Therefore, he was especially displeased when his assistant informed him that two members of the special committee were coming to speak with him late that morning.

One of these members was the person who was also the liaison between the BPRD and the FBI. The other member was the senator who had so objected to Broom's references to Hellboy as his son. These two men were shown into his office.

Broom, who had been seated at his desk, rose to greet them with the intention of offering them seats, when the senator launched into the purpose of the visit.

"Professor Broom, the committee has come to a decision. It was not unanimous, but it did carry the majority. We feel that you are not working toward the best interest of the country in this matter; therefore the creature you have named Hellboy is to be removed from your custody and sent to another facility in order for the testing to be continued. You have one month to comply in this matter. By the end of January of next year you must have all records and findings prepared for the researchers who will be coming to remove Hellboy to this new facility."

Broom, who had still been standing, suddenly sank back down into the chair behind his desk.

"Why? Why are you doing this? I can assure you that these further tests will not reveal anything we do not already know about him. Frankly, some of these proposed tests are nothing short of vivisection; the kinds of tests that I would not allow to be performed on an animal let alone a fellow sentient being. The Nuremberg Code of 1947 is instructive in this matter. I cannot allow my son to be subject to research that is not far from torture."

The senator remained standing, "Sir, you cannot invoke the Nuremberg Code except in cases of human experimentation. Your so-called son has no more standing under Nuremberg than if he had been a laboratory rat. The fact that we have been unable to find out much, if anything, about this creature's true nature is looked upon in many circles as a definite threat to national security."

"Your organization here is a federally funded one and as such anything connected to your Bureau is the property of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to deal with as it sees fit. At this point in time, since the committee decision was not unanimous, the further tests that are being proposed are not quite the thorough tests that many of us would prefer."

At that moment two different things occurred at almost exactly the same time.

The first was that Trevor Broom jumped up from his seat and said in a voice louder than any had ever heard him use before, "No! Absolutely not! I cannot, I will not, allow this to happen!"

The second was that just as he was speaking something whammed up against the door to Broom's office causing it to swing open and a ball rolled in being chased by a largish sized brown dog.

This was followed by a rather chastened Hellboy who immediately assumed that what his father was yelling about was related to his breaking the rule that he not interrupt his father when he had visitors.

"Sorry, Father. Don't be mad at us." Hellboy attempted to collect both ball and dog and to get out of the room before his father became even angrier.

The senator, who had never seen Hellboy outside of some pictures, stared at him in amazement. The look on his face was of someone who had expected to encounter a monster and instead was confronted with a rather polite, well-trained five-year-old child who just happened to look like a monster.

"Hellboy, come over here," This was spoken by the FBI liaison who had yet to enter the fray.

He was someone who had worked with Broom almost from the beginning and highly respected both the scientist and his relationship with the demon child he had virtually adopted.

He was among the members of the committee who had voted against Hellboy being removed from Broom's custody.

He stooped to Hellboy's level as the child walked over to him and placed his arm around Hellboy's shoulder.

"Trevor, I mainly accompanied the senator here today to assure you that the dissenting members of the committee will back you up on whatever action you decide to take on this matter. We have already gathered a petition together recommending to President Truman that he reconsider this matter and return to you the custody granted by President Roosevelt."

Neither the senator nor Trevor Broom had spoken since Hellboy's inadvertent and unexpected arrival into his father's office. The senator managed to find his voice first.

"Professor Broom, if you do not comply with the dictates of this committee you will be held in contempt of Congress and your salary and the funding for your Bureau will be withheld."

Trevor Broom finally found his own voice, which was again very quiet. Hellboy could have informed the senator that the quieter his father became the more furious he really was.

"Believe me, Senator, it is not Congress that I hold in contempt. I have plenty of my own money from an inheritance that I received in England. I will spend every shilling of that before I accept even one more penny of federal funding under these intolerable conditions."

Broom walked up to the FBI liaison who was now standing.

"I would like to thank you for your vote of support. I am sure it is not easy to defy the committee majority. I myself will make a trip to Washington to speak with President Truman. I believe on this trip I will find a way to bring Hellboy with me. It was President Roosevelt's actual meeting with Hellboy as an infant that convinced him that there was nothing threatening about my son. I hope to God that I can be as successful with President Truman."

Hellboy looked up at his father with a bemused expression. The look on his father's face—Hellboy couldn't determine if it was angry, sad, or just very tired.

"Father, did I do something wrong? I really didn't mean for the ball to knock through the door like that."

Trevor Broom bent over and with all his strength hauled this five-year-old demon into his arms and held him close. At his current size Hellboy was getting hard for Broom to pick up and it had been a long time since he had held him in his arms.

It felt good, very good.

"Lee, you are welcome to stay for the rest of the day if you would like," he said to the FBI liaison.

Turning to the senator he said simply, "Go away. I have a birthday party to plan and have already wasted enough time on you."

The senator stalked out without another word.

The FBI liaison excused himself because of some other duties, but said that he would keep in close contact until this whole issue was resolved.

A few minutes later Trevor Broom found himself alone with Hellboy. He collapsed down into one of the office chairs with Hellboy on his lap and held his son even closer.

Nothing had really been resolved that day. All he really managed to accomplish was throwing that senator out of his office. Broom knew he would be back. This senator was not the type to give up easily. And this was certainly not the way he had planned to spend his son's birthday.

"Father, what are you thinking about?"

Broom was almost startled to hear Hellboy's voice. He had become so wrapped up in his concerns that he had almost forgotten that he was still holding his son.

"Just planning the best birthday party that I can come up with." Broom thought for a moment, "Let's see, hangar number three is empty. How would you like it if the men turned it into a movie theater complete with popcorn and Coca-Cola and we watched all of your favorite Gene Autry films?"

Hellboy smiled, "Yeah, that sounds great! Will we get to eat chocolate too?"

Broom lifted Hellboy down from his lap and walked over to his desk.

"We are going to consume every single one of these." He pulled out a large box of Baby Ruth candy bars that he had originally been saving for Christmas.

"Wow, neat!," Hellboy exclaimed, "This is going to be the best birthday ever."

Broom stood next to his desk holding the box of chocolate. He had just been thinking about what an awful day he had been having so far. He smiled at Hellboy and said, "Yes, I do believe it is."

The men who had set up the 'theater' had done an excellent job. They tried as much as possible to decorate up a portion of the empty hangar to look like a movie house. They had even set up a ticket booth and concession stand and brought in very large cushioned chairs for the 'audience'.

Maybe about six of the men were able to stay on through the evening to watch the films with Hellboy and his father. However, they knew that while it was permissible for them to share the popcorn and cola, the chocolate was only to be consumed by the birthday boy and his father.

Later that evening, after having eaten all of the candy bars and popcorn, drank all of the Coca Cola, and watched four complete Gene Autry films, both father and son were very full, very sticky, and very sleepy. They were alone in the now dark 'theater', the other men having gone to their bunks.

At some point during the third film, Hellboy had climbed out of his chair and into his father's lap. Now that the last film was over he appeared to be asleep, his head lying warmly against his father's wool vest.

However, this was something that had happened on every birthday and holiday since Hellboy was three years old; he wasn't asleep he was listening to his father's heartbeat.

Broom remembered when the three-year-old Hellboy had asked him why he ticked like a clock and who was the one who wound him up.

Broom had answered that the 'ticking' was his heartbeat and it was God who wound him up, somewhat dreading Hellboy asking him who 'God' was.

However, at the time this answer had seemed to be enough for the youngster.

This evening Hellboy had another question, "If it's God who winds your heart up, what keeps it going?"

"Love," said his father, "my love for you is what keeps my heart beating."

Hellboy raised his head, "Will you always love me?"

Trevor Broom held him even closer, "Yes, Son, I will always love you."

"Good," said Hellboy as he fell asleep in his father's arms.

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