FEAR OF FIRE

Author’s notes: Written for a challenge on another web site. The idea was to start with a recognizable scene from your favorite fandom and write what would have happened if things turned out differently. Unlike my other alternative ending to Hellboy, entitled Hell on Earth, this story is more sad than horrific. Disclaimer: The characters belong to Mike Mignola and Dark Horse Press for the original comics and Guillermo del Toro and Sony/Revolution Studios for the movie. Some of the information below about Hellboy’s right hand derives from the original comics, but I put my own twist on this information.

Fear of Fire

Deep in the tunnels below Rasputin’s Mausoleum
Moscow, Russia
Sometime in the first weeks of November 2004

Liz Sherman, John Myers, and a third Bureau agent passed from the narrow tunnel into a dank, cavernous area. They soon realized that the place was swarming with hundreds of these dangerous Sammael creatures. As they tried to back out into the tunnel again, a round stone door sealed the entrance and cut off their retreat. Racing forward to the other side in order to exit into the tunnel that went from that end, they again were cut off by a similar round stone door.

Stunned at first, they just stood at bay as the menacing demonic beasts prowled toward them. “Myers! Your grenades,” suddenly shouted the other agent as he fumbled to set the timer on his own string of explosives. Yet, before he could complete that operation two of the creatures butchered him.

Shoving Liz behind him, Myers pulled out his handgun and vainly began firing on the group of beasts. Not a dent was made in their numbers. For every one that died, two more were hatched from the thousands of eggs that seemed to fill every crevice. More and more of these beasts filled up the pool of water that was at the center of that cavern.

Liz frantically pulled out her belt communicator. “Marco! Marco!” she screamed the agreed emergency code, “Get your big, red butt over here!” Even though their group had long been separated in these winding tunnels from Hellboy and his group, she was hoping against hope that he was near enough to pick up her distress call.

To her relief, Hellboy’s voice both came over her communicator and appeared to echo from somewhere above. “Don’t worry, kid, I’m coming for you!”

A massive crashing and pounding came from the stone ceiling above them. A large portion of this plunged down in a hail of large stones and small into the midst of Sammael creatures and the surrounding pool of water, Hellboy falling through with it.

He came up out of the water fighting. Shouting inarticulate challenges against the foe he was struggling against, he crushed one after another of the beasts as they threw themselves against him.

Yet, Liz and Myers both came to the horrified understanding that the numbers of these creatures was growing exponentially. Two more born from those eggs were replacing every single beast that was crushed by Hellboy’s initial fall or killed in the fight. A swarm of these beasts forced Hellboy lower and lower as he struggled to keep on fighting and to keep his head above the water. It wasn’t working. He would soon drown.

Liz grabbed Myers’s hand that held his gun. “Do something! They’re killing him!”

“What do you expect me to do?” he shouted, frustrated by the awareness that shooting any of the creatures would only increase their numbers.

“Hit me,” Liz shouted back.

“What?” Myers was a bit taken aback by this request.

“Hit. Me. Now!” Liz emphasized every word, ending the last one on a scream.

John Myers hauled back his hand and slapped Liz across the face. All of his fear, all of his frustration, and even some anger that Liz obviously loved Hellboy and not him, was behind that blow.

Liz used the power that came from the pain of that slap to focus her pyrokinetic energies.

“You should be running,” she said to Myers in a deceptively quiet voice.

As she gathered her powers, she walked forward, hoping that she could use her fire to kill all of the Sammael creatures and destroy all of their eggs at the same time to keep more from being spawned. Hellboy, at least, would survive any conflagration that she could create.

Liz brought her hands together as they began to tingle with power. Nothing happened. Tears of both grief and effort ran down her face as she concentrated even more. Still nothing.

She had spent too much time and energy denying her talent, which for so long she considered nothing but a dreaded curse. Now that she wanted, truly wanted, this power, her long suppression of it was impossible to overcome.

Not knowing what else to do, she continued walking forward toward those deadly creatures.

If she couldn’t destroy them, if she couldn’t save Hellboy, at least she could die with him.

Even in the midst of his last agonies, Hellboy only truly had eyes for the woman he loved.

“No, Liz!” he managed to gasp out through the water and his own blood that he was breathing in. “Stay away! Stay … ” His last words were cut off as the ever-multiplying creatures finally managed to completely shove his head under the water.

As everything suddenly grew deadly quiet, Liz fell to her knees.

John Myers, now aware that Liz failed to destroy the creatures, ran up to her, and fruitlessly shot at the creatures until he had no bullets left. Soon the creatures overcame him and ripped him to pieces.

The creatures then turned on Liz, the last one left alive. Yet, to her surprise, rather than killing her as they did Myers, they backed away from her as a tall, bearded man in a robe approached Hellboy’s lifeless body. Liz watched in horror as he produced a long knife from his robe and, stooping down, severed Hellboy’s huge stone hand from his right arm.

“Now,” the man gloated, “I can use this hand to open the gates for the Ogdru Jahad, the Seven Gods of Chaos, to come through. All humanity will be destroyed and from the ashes a new Eden will arise!”

“Read the runes, buddy,” came a voice very like Hellboy’s, even though he still lay dead, “the ones carved on the hand. Who uses the hand is my choice and I sure as hell won’t let you use it. Anyways, you can’t just cut it from my body after I’m dead, ‘cause my death bleeds into it and, poof, no more hand.”

Grigory Rasputin, who thought that he had finally gotten Hellboy’s stone hand under his control, stared in dismay as the huge appendage in his hands suddenly crumbled away into a fine red dust. This dust, rather than falling to the floor, expanded and surrounded him in an asphyxiating cloud.

“Bye, bye, buddy,” Liz heard Hellboy’s voice again, “That’s all for you.” A strong, bracing wind blew the dust away and, when it was gone, Liz was alone, as all of the Sammael creatures had disappeared along with the defeated Rasputin.

Sobbing, she crawled over to Hellboy’s one-armed body and pulled it into her arms. It felt cold, wet, and slimy; and the stump of his right arm was still bleeding a little.

To her surprise, his eyes opened; but rather than the glowing, bright-yellow eyes she remembered, they were almost black. His left hand, a hand that used to feel so warm and now felt so very cold, gently brushed her cheek.

“Sorry, I can’t stick around, Liz. Maybe I saved the world, but not for me, not for us.”

The hand slipped back down and the eyes closed, never to open again. Hours later, searching Bureau agents finally located Liz, still clutching Hellboy’s dead body.

Liz returned to Newark with Tom Manning and the other surviving Bureau agents. Yet, after the loss of her pyrokinetic powers, she never truly thrived and died on the first anniversary of Hellboy’s death.

Thanks for reading. All feedback welcome, Beth Palladino

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