Author’s notes: This follows directly after Part Seventeen. Won’t make sense without the previous parts.

Chapter Five: Abe Sapien: Sibling Rivalry: Part Eighteen

Hellboy and Trevor Broom descended back down into that part of the underground facility that comprised Section 51 of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

By this time the code red alarms had stopped sounding. Rather than proceeding directly to the room where field operation briefings were usually held, Broom first went to his office to look up Abe and ask him to join them for the briefing.

Hellboy went to his room to collect his gun, utility belt, and other talismans that he thought important to always have with him. Other agents would later come into his room to retrieve the rolling munitions cases that held his extra bullets and other weapons.

Hellboy exited the room, but then turned back and rifled through the button-filled cigar box that was still sitting on his table. He shoved a small handful of buttons and old-fashioned shirt studs into one of the pouches of his utility belt and departed for the briefing room.

Between Hellboy’s earlier conversation with Trevor Broom and the prospect of a new monster to fight, he again felt filled with excitement and self-confidence. Hellboy came anew to the insight that, regardless of his origins, he had been raised up to be a protector of humanity and had been capably filling that role for over twenty years.

He also realized that with the advent of fish-man Abe Sapien he now had a new partner to join him in protecting these humans who had come to mean so much to him over the years. Life suddenly seemed very good to Hellboy again.

Grinning in anticipation as he walked down the corridor, he pulled a cigar stub out of one of the pouches of his belt and stuck it in his mouth. He then fished a beat up looking Zippo lighter out of a pocket of his coat and used this to light the cigar. He puffed on this for the few minutes that it would take to reach the briefing room.

When Hellboy arrived to the room, he ground out the lit cigar against the cement wall of the corridor and stuffed the stub back into the pouch that it had come out of. Trevor Broom, who was already seated at the large conference table with Abe and several BPRD agents, looked up as Hellboy walked in and was pleased to note an unquestionable change from his previous melancholy. He also noted the smell of tobacco that had followed Hellboy into the room.

Broom, a non-smoker himself, had always disapproved of Hellboy’s smoking. But, on the other hand, he also took a very secret pleasure in the faint smell of cigar smoke that always permeated Hellboy’s clothing and private room; it reminded Broom of his grandfather who had been the original owner of the cherished wooden cigar box.

Lee, the FBI liaison, was seated to Broom’s left at the table. Hellboy noticed that his own usual seat to Broom’s right side was where Abe was now seated. There was a time when something like this would have made him very angry—made him feel that Abe was attempting to usurp his position. However, recent events had caused Hellboy to look at Abe in a new light and he now understood that Broom was merely making Abe feel welcome as a full member of his team.

Hellboy grinned at a somewhat nervous-looking Abe and went around the table to sit next to Lee, who surprised him by standing before he could sit down and grabbing him into a fiercely tight hug.

“Damn it, Hellboy,” Lee growled, “I can’t even go off on vacation without you almost up and dying on me before I can get back. The next time you try that I’ll kill you myself.”

Hellboy smiled and leaned in closer as he returned the hug. “Next time, I’ll try really, really hard to get myself possessed when you’re not on vacation, Uncle Lee,” he whispered to the man he had known almost as long as he had known Trevor Broom.

At this Lee hugged Hellboy even tighter; Hellboy hadn’t called him ‘Uncle’ in over twenty years.

Hellboy pulled away and sat down in his seat. “Let’s cut the mushy crap and get back to business.”

He looked over at Trevor Broom, “Well, Pop, what is it this time? Hope it’s something interesting. I’m ready for some real action and I think Abe is, too.”

“Rats,” was Broom’s only answer as he looked over some papers in front of him.

“Rats? You mean like those ugly black things with tails that I see every time I have to chase some monster down subway tunnels or smelly sewers? Those kind of rats?”

“Not exactly, Son. These rats are extremely large and aggressive. Those who have seen them describe them as almost five or six feet tall and walking on their hind legs like a human being with coal-black hides and yellow glowing eyes. Mainly these creatures have just appeared suddenly out of manholes in various sections of Manhattan frightening people and then ducking back under the streets again. However, for some reason they have grabbed a young waitress and another unknown woman from a restaurant and dragged them down below the streets.”

Broom pushed over a photograph toward Hellboy.

“The waitress’s name is Mindy Carlton. For some strange reason this woman looks vaguely familiar to me, but I can’t think of where I might have met her before.”

Hellboy glanced at the photograph on the table, but then, with a gasp of surprise, picked it up in his left hand and looked at it much more closely. He then startled everyone by slamming the photograph back down on the table. “Pop, I think we’ve got real trouble here. I know this woman. Remember the ‘poltergeist-in-the-library’ job I did on Halloween? She’s one of the waitresses from the restaurant where the party I wasn’t supposed to be attending was held.”

Broom snatched up the photograph and looked at it again. “Damn! No wonder she looked familiar. I think she was working in the restaurant the day I went to arrange everything.”

Abe reached over and took the photograph from Broom. He closed his eyes in concentration and then opened them again in surprise. Reaching out he grabbed Broom’s hand. “These creatures know exactly what they are doing, Professor. They are trying to get Hellboy’s attention. But I’m picking up something further here. I think I know who the other woman they took is: Kate Corrigan.”

Hellboy jumped up from his seat, knocking it over backwards. “Katie? My Katie?” he shouted, “Where are you getting that from, Blue?”

Abe shrugged, “It’s just a strange feeling I’m picking up from this photograph of the waitress.”

Hellboy picked up the chair he had knocked over and then went around the table to where Broom was sitting staring at Abe who was still holding the photograph. “Pop, you told me Katie’s been in Hungary doing research since right after Halloween and that you decided not to get her all worried about what was up with me by trying to contact her. Is she back from that trip yet?”

Broom shook his head. “Not that I know of. But there’s one way to find out. I’ll call NYU and see if she has returned recently.”

He went over to a phone, dialed into the department at NYU where both he and Kate taught folklore occasionally, and asked the department secretary if she knew if Kate had returned to New York. As Hellboy watched Trevor Broom listen to the answer and turn very pale, he realized that he was not going to like the answer his father was going to give to his question.

More to come…

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