Chapter Three: Trevor Bruttenholm, The Adoptive Father: Raising Hell

Somewhere off the coast of Scotland, late December 1944

The twenty-eight year old Trevor Broom awoke from a deep sleep. He came to realize that he was lying in a bed on some sort of ship. The lights in the cabin were on. His first sensation upon awakening was one of great pain in the thigh of his right leg.

He was unnaturally groggy, which made him aware that his sleep must have been assisted by some sort of narcotic. He was under the impression that some loud sound had disturbed his sleep and listened for some further manifestation of this.

He tried to jog his memory as to where he was and why his leg was all bandaged up. His last memory was of being on a submarine. He had been preparing to leave with a group of American soldiers on a mission to a small island just off the coast of Scotland. Certain British experts of the paranormal, including Broom himself who now worked for the American government, suspected that Nazi occultists had established some sort of base in the ruins of an abandoned monastery that was located on this island.

However, at this point in time, Broom was still too much under the influence of what ever narcotic he must have been administered to bring his memory up to his arrival, wounded, on the ship where he was now located. He could hear, from another part of the ship, a sort of ruckus. He realized that this may be a continuation of the sound that had wakened him in the first place, but he couldn’t quite make out what the sound was.

Suddenly the door to his cabin opened and a man he recognized as Sergeant George Whitman entered carrying in his arms some sort of child wrapped up in a blanket. This bundle was struggling and squealing.

“Glad to see you’re awake again, Professor. I’m sorry to disturb you, but we can’t do a darn thing with Hellboy. One of the men thought it’d be funny to let him look at himself in a mirror and you’d think that he’d seen his worst nightmare or something like that.”

Broom stared at Sergeant Whitman and the horned infant red devil that was struggling in his arms. Memory came crashing back in on him.

“Hellboy,” he groaned to himself, “Why did I ever call him that? It is a name that he will most likely get stuck with.”

Broom struggled to sit up. “Sergeant, give Hellboy to me. I do not appreciate the men playing with him as if he were some sort of pet. Mirror recognition comes late to most infants and who knows what the poor child thought he was seeing.”

As Whitman approached the bed Hellboy quieted down, reaching out with his two arms, and leaned toward Broom as a child would to a parent. To Broom’s eyes Hellboy’s huge stone-like right hand and forearm seemed almost too large for an infant his size to lift.

Broom took Hellboy into his arms trying to avoid jarring his bandaged leg. He noticed that someone had torn up a sheet to make the infant demon diapers.

“Sergeant, would you do me a great favor. Somewhere in those bags of mine in the corner over there I think I have some more of those Baby Ruth bars I fed him on the island. See if you can find me one. He certainly seems to love chocolate and feeding him that may calm him down. Tell me, have you managed to get him to eat anything else? The child has to eat something more than a steady diet of chocolate.”

Whitman brought over the candy bar. “We managed to get him to eat hot noodles. That’s the only thing, outside of chocolate, that he’s been willing to even taste.”

As they had been speaking, the ship, which had already begun rolling in the water a little more than it had been, took a lurch that threw Whitman off balance.

“Crap!” he exclaimed, “There must be another God damned storm coming. I wish we were back home. I’m blasted tired of this Scottish December weather.”

Hellboy, who at the time was busily downing the candy he had just been given by Broom, jumped up and down in Broom’s arms causing exquisite pain to his injured leg.

“Crap! Crap!” the little red infant gleefully repeated.

Broom glared up at Whitman, “Obviously, the child is prone to imitation. Please, watch your language around him.”

Whitman couldn’t help laughing, “All right, all right, Professor. I’ll keep that in mind.”

He turned toward the door of the cabin, “I better get out of here and check with the crew about the state of the weather. Are you sure that you’re up to keeping him here with you? If so, I think I’d better send one of my men with more of those diapers. I think he might need to be changed by now.”

Broom set Hellboy down on the bed and struggled to stand up. “My leg still hurts like the dickens, but other than that I’m starting to feel a lot better; especially now that the effects of the medication I was given are wearing off. I do believe I actually prefer the pain to taking those narcotics.”

Whitman nodded at him and walked out. The ship gave another little lurch and Broom sat back down on the edge of the bed. Hellboy wanted to climb into his lap, but Broom grabbed him and kept him sitting on the bed next to him. His right leg wasn’t up to having anything sit on it just yet. Whitman was right, Hellboy needed to be changed.

Broom sighed to himself. He loved children, but the course of his life and his work meant that he was seldom around them. He hardly knew the first thing about diapers.

Just then a private came in that Broom only just remembered having seen on the island where they had destroyed the Nazi’s occult machine and had found the infant demon they were all now calling Hellboy. He looked at the name on his uniform: Weber.

Private Weber was carrying a pile of diapers that had obviously been made from the same sheet as the one Hellboy was wearing. He handed them to Broom.

“Professor, why don’t you let me change him. We really should have checked him before we sent him in to you.” He reached out toward Hellboy who startled Broom by shrieking and scrambling on the bed to hide behind Broom’s back.

Private Weber backed up, “Sorry Professor, I guess he’s still frightened of me. I asked Sergeant Whitman to send me in with the diapers because I wanted to say how sorry I was scaring him like that. I didn’t really mean anything by it. I just thought it would be cute to let him look in a mirror, like I did with my little niece back home. It never crossed my mind that he would be so frightened like he was.”

Broom smiled, “I accept your apology, Private. I also appreciate that you all want to play with him. But we should be careful. Despite his odd appearance, I am convinced that Hellboy himself is not some sort of evil creature; but we have little certainty of his actual origins before arriving on Earth. We also have no knowledge of other beings he may have had contact with in this other place or his previous experiences with these beings. These experiences may not have been pleasant ones and when he looked in the mirror, seeing something that he would not necessarily recognize as his own face, it may have reminded him of something frightening.”

Broom got up from the bed, ignoring the pain in his leg, and picked Hellboy up into his arms. “Private do you think you could send in someone else who could show me exactly what to do with these diapers. I may have several university degrees, but feel somewhat inadequate to the task of acting as a father.”

“I think I’ll send in the ship’s surgeon, he’d probably want to see you anyway since you’re awake now,” Private Weber walked out the door, “He can show you what to do with the diapers.”

The surgeon came in several minutes later, checked out Broom and informed him that his leg was healing nicely. Before he left he showed Broom how to diaper Hellboy.

It was getting late so after the surgeon left Broom arranged Hellboy in the bed trying to figure out a way to avoid sleeping too close to Hellboy’s right hand. Broom turned out the lights and climbed into the bed next to Hellboy. They both fell asleep rather quickly.

Later, Broom woke in the middle of the night. Hellboy had thrown off the blanket Broom had covered him with and had rolled over onto his stomach. He was now almost sleeping on top of Broom with his head on his shoulder and his huge right hand across his chest. This was all somewhat uncomfortable, but Broom hated to wake the child up and the heat of his body felt nice even though there was increased pain in his wounded leg.

Broom reached up with his left arm and readjusted the heaviness of Hellboy’s right hand on his chest, being careful not to wake him. He was surprised at the coldness of this stone-like hand. Despite the pain caused by the weight of Hellboy’s body against his leg, Broom fell back asleep, his left hand lying gently on the child’s back.

Hours later Broom was awakened by a crash of thunder. Sergeant Whitman had been correct; there had been a storm coming.

Broom now noticed a small porthole in the cabin and saw in the flash of lightning that was admitted through it that Hellboy was nowhere to be seen. But he could hear grunting and squealing coming from under the bed when the next peal of thunder rang out.

Without a thought for the strain that this would occasion for his bandaged leg, Broom knelt down on the floor and tried to coax the demon child out from under the bed. The totally frightened Hellboy was having none of this. When there was another bolt of lightning followed by an even larger peal of thunder he slid even further under the bed.

By this time the ship was tossing about quite violently. The legs of the bed were bolted to the floor, but some of the loose items in the cabin started to slide around. Since Hellboy was obviously not going to come out from under the bed, Broom lay down on his back on the floor and slid under the bed. He gathered the struggling Hellboy into his arms and tried to comfort him.

After a time Sergeant Whitman entered the cabin to check to see if Broom was too disturbed by the storm. He was somewhat surprised to see no one there, but when he called out Broom answered him from under the bed.

“Jeez, Professor, you startled me. I never expected to find you hiding under there,” Whitman said as he looked under the bed at him.

“I’m all right, Sergeant,” Broom replied, “I’m just waiting for this storm to calm down. Hellboy was so frightened and he just wouldn’t come out. I hated to leave him all alone under here. There is nothing I really need so please don’t worry about me.”

Whitman shrugged and said, “They tell me this storm isn’t supposed to last long. I’ve also been informed that the Brits have gotten wind that we found something of interest on that island. I hear there’s been a telegram from Churchill stating that since the ‘alien child’, as he calls Hellboy, was found on British soil by a British citizen he should be turned over to the British government to deal with. I’m not doing anything until we hear either from the FBI or the president. After all, British citizen or not, you’ve been working for us and I doubt the president would relinquish our rights to this ‘alien child’.”

By the time Whitman was finished speaking the storm had died down a lot and Broom decided to slide out from under the bed bringing the now calmer Hellboy with him. Whitman helped him up from the floor and Broom lifted Hellboy back up onto the bed where the exhausted ‘alien child’ immediately fell back asleep.

Broom sat on the edge of the bed next to Hellboy and covered him up with the blanket. He looked up at Sergeant Whitman.

“Sergeant, I would like to make it perfectly clear that I am not about to give Hellboy up to any government officials, either British or American. The child needs to have someone with him who is concerned with his interests. He should not be treated as merely property for governments to fight over.”

Broom looked down on the now quietly sleeping Hellboy and took the child’s normal-sized left hand into his own. He bent down and kissed his forehead.

“No, Sergeant,” Broom said softly, “The child is going to stay with me. I will allow him to go nowhere without me as his guardian. I am uniquely qualified in many different ways to be the one who takes custody of him. I will only let him move to the country that will allow me to do so. I suspect that it will end up being America.”

Whitman had only met the young expert in the paranormal around a week before and at first had not been at all impressed with him. However, ever since that evening on the island where they defeated the Nazis and first encountered Hellboy, he more and more discovered an unexpected power in Broom; a man who at first appeared to be nothing more than an eccentric academic.

“What about your own family and your career in England, Professor?” Sergeant Whitman was still somewhat startled by this unexpected vehemence in Broom.

Broom merely shook his head, “None of that matters, Sergeant. As for family, I have no family, or, at least, I have no family left that cares what becomes of me. I am almost totally alone in this world. As for my career, I believe I have a position waiting for me in America that will be an even greater one than any I have ever held. This position will also give me a better opportunity to nurture and raise Hellboy than I would have here in England. But even if it doesn’t work out, I am more than prepared to give up everything I have to ensure that Hellboy stays with me.”

Broom whispered, almost to himself, “What do all the things I have matter to me if I must give him up to those who will surely treat him as a dangerous creature?”

“You see, Sergeant, for some strange reason I know that if he is taken from me the very continuing existence of humanity will be jeopardized. Yet, it will not be for the sake of humanity that I will wish to have him with me. I will love him and be as a father to him. He will love me more than any son; and yet will never speak of this love. I will live only for him and, eventually, I will die for him. I know this; I have seen it.”

Sergeant Whitman stared at the young scientist still seated on the bed clasping Hellboy’s hand in his own. Eventually he realized that Trevor Broom was in some sort of trance.

He reached down and shook Broom’s shoulder. “Professor, are you all right?”

“I know what to call him. I call him Son.” As Broom spoke these words his eyes suddenly became focused again, “I apologize for drifting off like that Sergeant. I must have dozed off. I almost feel like I had been dreaming something. I really need to get back to sleep. I do hope that I have made myself clear about wishing to keep Hellboy.”

Whitman smiled slightly, “Yes, Professor, you made yourself very clear.”

The next day Trevor Broom received a telegram from President Roosevelt. A week later, after his leg was sufficiently healed, a military plane transported Broom and Hellboy to Washington, D. C., where the president appointed him as the head of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. President Roosevelt also allowed Broom to keep Hellboy with him; he eventually was permitted to officially adopt Hellboy in 1951.

Next chapter: Chapter Four: Katie Corrigan, The Little Sister

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