HELLBOY'S FAMILY

Author’s notes: This follows directly after Part Nineteen.

Reminder: Kate Corrigan is derived from Mike Mignola’s original Hellboy comics, but I am solely to blame for how she is being used in Hellboy’s Family. The waitress, Mindy Carlton, is one of the original characters I have created for this story. The idea of talking rats was suggested by a short story based on Hellboy, but the creature here is not at all like the talking rat in that story.

Chapter Five: Abe Sapien: Sibling Rivalry: Part Twenty

Kate Corrigan struggled against the cords that held her tightly bound to an uncomfortable wooden chair. She was neither blindfolded nor gagged. As she struggled she looked around the brightly lit, but dank and smelly underground room where she was now confined.

She came to the conclusion that she must have been drugged at some point. She remembered being grabbed, along with the young waitress who had been serving her, out of a diner near the university where she occasionally taught classes on folklore. But she could not recall how she got to this room and felt as if her head was filled with cotton. Her memory of the non-human creatures that had seized her was also somewhat incoherent.

As she looked around she became aware of the sniffling sound of someone trying to hold back tears. It came from somewhere behind her back and she tried to crane her head around to look. Her dark blond hair, which she had allowed to grow longer while away conducting research in Hungary, had partially fallen into her face during her struggles and she was unable to push it back out of her eyes. This made it even harder to see what was going on.

“Mindy, is that you behind me?” Kate whispered, wishing she knew where she was being held and whether or not she was being observed by whatever had grabbed her away from her early supper.

“What’s happening to us, Professor Corrigan? I’m…” Mindy shuddered and stopped to take a breath, “I’m so scared,” she finally gasped out in a tiny whisper. She began to cry harder, almost hysterically.

“Shh, Mindy, not so loud. We need to talk, but we need to be really quiet. I have no idea if whoever or whatever dragged us off is listening or not.” Sooner than Kate expected she heard Mindy’s strangled sobs calm to a few sniffles.

“Good. First, if I remember correctly, even though I didn’t notice that closely at the time, weren’t you one of the waitresses working the bar at a special Halloween party I attended? I was there dressed as a Romanian gypsy complete with authentic costume, gaudy makeup, and a long, curly black wig.”

Kate heard Mindy stop sniffling and suck in her breath before answering. “Yeah, Professor, I remember that party. The guest of honor was certainly an interesting guy. I don’t usually work that restaurant except for special events where Dad needs extra help. You know that my father owns the diner near NYU where I wait tables, but he also works as the special events manager for that other restaurant. I did notice the gypsy who was, um, a bit chummy with the ‘guest of honor’, but the wig and makeup threw me off; I never recognized you, Professor.”

Even in the midst of her trepidation, Kate had to smile at the memory of that Halloween party and the several passionate kisses she had shared with the ‘guest of honor’; she had certainly become ‘chummy’ with Hellboy in a way that was very different from their decades-long friendship.

Kate dragged her attention back to Mindy and their current predicament. “Second, I want you to stop calling me ‘Professor’; call me ‘Kate’. When people call me ‘Professor’ it always makes me feel so damn old and I can’t be much more than five or six years older than you are.”

“Tell me, Professor, I mean Kate, what’s going on here? Is this somehow related to that Halloween party? I don’t really remember much about the people who kidnapped us, but what I do recall seems like something out of some nightmare. When I try to think back on it I keep remembering giant rats.”

“Same here,” sighed Kate. “And I’m afraid it may be related to that party, or at least to the guest of honor. I noticed that the waiters and waitresses kept their distance from him until he decided to thank them when the party was coming to an end. At that time you were the only one of them who spoke to him and, along with me, you were the only younger woman he kissed in some way. I can’t help thinking that maybe these creatures are using us to get at him.”

“Is he someone these creatures would want to get at, Kate? We were paid a lot of extra money to work the party in a way that would keep everyone happy, and yet, at the same time, keep us as far away as possible from the guest of honor. I just assumed since there was no guest list with names and we only allowed people with invitations that the guest of honor was some unidentified celebrity.”

“Now, ‘celebrity’ is a very interesting term, would you not agree?” interrupted a very cultured, almost British sounding, male voice.

Kate and Mindy both looked around to see who had addressed them as this voice continued.

“It mainly refers to someone who people would wish to ‘celebrate’ for some reason. But, somehow, I don’t think people would want to fête him if they truly knew what was hidden within that interesting red costume he wears. For his exterior appearance really is a kind of costume even if he can never actually remove it. Even he himself is basically unaware of what is hidden beneath that costume, although he already suspects that the reality will be an unpleasant one when it is finally revealed.”

Kate became aware of a figure that had suddenly appeared in the brighter light directly in front of her. She was more than used to non-human creatures and just looked without comment or fear at the giant rat that stood erect before her. It had glowing yellow eyes, but these eyes were actually nothing similar to Hellboy’s yellow-colored eyes; certainly not the eyes Kate saw when Hellboy looked at her.

What bothered Kate the most was that this sleek rat’s black-pelted body was oddly dressed in a perfectly immaculate dark-brown three-piece suit, complete with a matching fedora hat. This mode of dress and the voice the creature spoke in made it distinctly appear like a rat-like version of Trevor Broom, being just about his 5’ 11’’ height; the main difference being that this odd creature smoked a cigarette in an ivory holder elegantly held in its hand-like forepaw. Kate wondered to herself if the similarity to Hellboy’s adoptive father was intentional on its part.

Whiskers tickled her ear as the creature bent over, “Oh, yes, my dear, quite intentional,” it whispered.

The giant rat then moved around behind Kate and revealed itself to Mindy who gasped in dismay.

“Ah, I see that you are not as aware of the existence of ‘horrific monsters’ as is your acquaintance. And yet you have interacted with this big, red fellow; even allowed him to kiss your cheek. Did you really think he was nothing more than a big guy in a funny red costume?”

Mindy unexpectedly found herself angry instead of afraid and stopped shaking. “I know exactly what I thought, and still think, of him; he is nothing more or less than a great guy whose father cared enough to want to give him and his close friends the best Halloween party his money could buy.”

“Actually,” the rat sighed, “in a way you are most correct. But the human male who calls himself his ‘father’ and those humans who call themselves his ‘colleagues’ and ‘friends’ are deluded if they think he can forever evade his destiny. For in reality he is nothing less than a betrayer of his own kind.”

“And what, exactly, is my brother’s ‘own kind’, pray tell?” interrupted a new voice.

“Oh, my,” said the rat who had shifted to confront the newcomer, “A talking fish, how quaint.”

Kate looked in surprise at the fish-man who had suddenly risen up in front of her. Even though she had never seen him before, she immediately recognized the Bureau-issued clothing and equipment this oddly attractive stranger wore on his slender, blue-gray body.

“I think I’ve been away from the Bureau for far too long,” she muttered to herself.

More to come…

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