Author’s notes: Poor Kate and Mindy; I’ve been leaving them hanging on a cliff for a long time.

This part follows directly after Part Twenty-Five, but makes connections to Part Twenty.

Reminder: The time period here is December 1978 in the weeks right before Hellboy’s 34th birthday (I use the December 23rd date from the original comics). Heed the ‘T’ (PG13) rating.

Chapter Five: Abe Sapien: Sibling Rivalry: Part Twenty-Six

Trevor Broom moved toward the front right-hand side of the truck to sit in Hellboy’s large seat. Hellboy and Abe sat side-by-side on the long bench that was located behind it. Broom found that he was able to swivel the seat around to watch what was going on.

As he had been instructed, Hellboy laid his left hand over Abe’s right hand, in which Abe held Kate’s hair clasp. Abe gently pushed his mind deeper and deeper into Hellboy’s mind searching for any pertinent memories of Kate Corrigan or Mindy Carlton. Abe used the hairpiece and Hellboy’s memories as catalysts to attempt to create a direct psychic connection to the two kidnapped women. He hoped this would break down that mental wall he had described earlier as blocking this connection, but it yielded only slightly; it did not appear he would be able to penetrate it completely.

After what seemed like hours of intense contact, but was really only minutes of grueling mental effort, Abe dejectedly broke off his attempt. Beginning to feel that his usefulness as a partner to Hellboy was a failure, he slumped down in complete exhaustion on the bench. Due to the connection Abe had managed to make to his mind, some of Abe’s thoughts came through to Hellboy, who was certain that unconscious resistance on his part had not made Abe’s job any easier. Draping his left arm around Abe’s shoulders, Hellboy wished he had something to say that would give Abe more confidence.

Abe again suffered from a pounding headache, but this was truly a tension headache due to overwork; the nausea and other weird effects that had come with his earlier headaches did not accompany it. Wordlessly shaking Hellboy’s arm from his shoulder, he moved to his own seat on the left-hand side of the truck. Dropping his head in his hands, he remained silent for a long time.

Trevor Broom walked over to Hellboy, who turned toward him as he approached.

“Not as scary as I thought it was going to be. Too bad it didn’t work,” said Hellboy, rubbing his head, nursing a rare headache himself.

Generally skeptical toward those who claimed to have psychic powers, Hellboy was starting to place faith in Abe’s unique abilities and was disappointed these efforts were for naught. When Trevor Broom went to sit down next to him, Hellboy waved him away. “I’m okay, Pop; go check on Abe.”

Abe never looked up when Trevor Broom walked over to where he was sitting, head still in his hands. “Abe, I’ve been doing this work for long enough to know that every failure is actually nothing more than an invitation to go beyond our limitations. If you’re still hitting up against a wall, maybe we need to find a way to sneak around it instead of trying to break through it.”

Touching Abe’s shoulder, Broom finally managed to get him to look up. “Let’s get you back in your tank for a well-deserved rest. Outside of that brief period of time when you were having those strange headaches, you haven’t spent enough time in water. Having been so focused on finding Kate and Mindy, both Hellboy and I have been somewhat careless of your welfare; please forgive us.”

Almost too exhausted to even stand, Abe still spoke no word but allowed Hellboy to come over and assist him into his tank. “C’mon, Blue, we wouldn’t even be this close if it weren’t for you. I’m sure you or Pop will think of something. I know I’ve not been much help, but I kind’ve got this strange feeling we’re a damn sight closer than you think. Give yourself a good, long rest and we’ll see.”

For the first time in a long while, Abe smiled at Hellboy and, still silent, slipped down into his tank and immediately fell asleep. Hellboy went out of the truck and Trevor Broom followed out after him.

They both greeted the new group of agents who were guarding the truck and its odd occupants. Hellboy realized that Trevor Broom must have sent the original group of agents back to the Bureau for food and rest. He wished Broom would have gone back with them, but knew his father would not return to the Bureau until this situation was resolved.

Hellboy moved to where he could see the moon, which was just past full. Trevor Broom joined him in looking up at the yet darkling sky. Street lighting made indiscernible all but the brightest planets.

“You know, Pop, I just thought of something,” he said, still peering up. “It was a month ago today.”

Broom did not need to ask what the ‘it’ was. Even though dawn was still some ways off, it was now getting into the morning after the day Kate and Mindy had been taken. That made it exactly a month since Hellboy had been possessed in Massachusetts by that demon that claimed to be his real father— a month since he had gone out of his mind, injuring both Abe and Trevor Broom.

That also made it a month since fish-man Abe Sapien had finally, suddenly started speaking after having been mute ever since his discovery in October.

Broom knew that Hellboy was having these same thoughts. “Son, I’m sure you’ve noticed that Abe hasn’t spoken a word since he ceased his attempt to access your memories of Kate. At first I thought this was due to disappointment that his attempt did not bring the results he wished, but now I’m wondering if there may have been some neurological damage due to mental strain. After all he only started speaking a month ago today and he has been pushing himself very hard.”

Absently rubbing his head, which still ached, Hellboy nodded. He continued staring at the moon as if that dead rock in space contained the secret key to what they wanted to know. Was it really only twelve hours ago that he sat with Trevor Broom on the BPRD entranceway roof watching the sunset? At that time, Broom had been successful in easing his anxiety over his unusual origins. However, these more recent events only served to reestablish and increase this uneasiness.

Sighing, Hellboy returned to the truck, beginning to wonder if it would be unwise to allow a woman to develop any relationship with him; especially a woman he cared for as much as he cared for Kate.

Trevor Broom stood looking up at the sky for a moment longer. The day before had been much warmer, even if it had snowed slightly. However, the clearing that occurred later in the day, making it possible to watch that beautiful sunset with Hellboy, had also later ushered in much colder weather. Broom heaved his own sigh, wondering if the place where Kate and Mindy were being held was cold. Finding that his tweed jacket was no longer adequately warm, he followed Hellboy into the truck.

Abe was floating in his tank, still fast asleep. “Abe’s got the right idea, Pop. I think we’d both be better off if we got some sleep,” Hellboy said as he arranged some blankets and pillows on the bench he had just pulled out into a bed. “Go ahead and lay down.”

After looking around the truck, Trevor Broom turned to Hellboy, “Where will you sleep?”

Hellboy flopped down into his seat, “Believe me, Pop, I’ve slept in a lot worse places than this chair,” he said with a slight smile. Smiling back, Trevor Broom stretched himself out on the hard, but not uncomfortable bench. As anxious as they both were, it was not long before exhaustion set in and Hellboy and Broom joined Abe in sleep.

For a time Abe drifted in darkness, too drained to even dream. He eventually became aware he was bandaged up and connected with wires to various monitors and healing apparatus. He was in great pain, but that appeared to be dulled by narcotic painkillers.

Slowly opening his eyes, he realized he was now located in a BPRD medical holding tank in the underground facilities in Newark. Becoming more aware of his surroundings, he noticed this tank was in a small chamber with a glass wall that looked out onto a corridor. He observed this glass wall had been smashed though at some point and had been hastily repaired.

The next sensation Abe felt, beyond the dulled pain of his bandaged wounds, were totally overwhelming emotions of sorrow, anger, and disbelief coming at him from almost all of the multitudinous inhabitants of the BPRD main headquarters. Too weak to block out these painful emotions or to sense what dreadful event had caused them, Abe slipped back into unconsciousness.

This brief stint of consciousness was not sufficient to trigger the alarms hooked to the monitors that were to communicate major changes in Abe’s status. If there was supposed to be any medical personnel in the chamber where the tank was located, they were no longer present. Not having been fully aware before he lost consciousness again, Abe never completely noted the frantic bustle of activity denoting some catastrophic facility-wide emergency.

Whether it was hours or minutes later that Abe again regained consciousness, he never found out. Now even more aware of his surroundings, he floated as close to the front of the tank as the wires would allow. He could see Hellboy seated on the floor at the foot of the wall the tank was built into.

Hellboy had his knees drawn up to his chest, his left arm wrapped tight around them, his right arm and huge stone hand wrapped over his left. Usually, if Hellboy was upset or agitated in some way he would lash his tail back and forth; this time it just lay limply on the floor and he leaned the left side of his head against the glass front of the tank as if attempting to be as close to Abe as possible.

Abe had never seen Hellboy look smaller or more forlorn; his massive shoulders were shaking as if he was weeping uncontrollably, but Abe could just barely hear a strangled sob. Wracking his memories of recent events, Abe could only recall enough to know that an operation they had been on had obviously failed; and failed badly.

Yet as Abe gazed more closely, seeing the flow of tears that ceaselessly rolled down Hellboy’s cheeks, he knew this catastrophe was more than a mere failed operation. Abe attempted to speak to Hellboy; but even though his medical tank was equipped with speakers, his voice was too faint to be heard.

He then weakly pushed a mental query into Hellboy’s mind, asking what had occurred. At first Abe thought this attempt at communication had gone unnoticed; but then Hellboy looked up, his eyes swollen, his face streaked with tears.

He looked away again. “Don’t ask. Believe me, you don’t want to know,” he muttered.

Abe was filled with curiosity as to what event could have driven the usually unflappable Hellboy so far over the edge. Yes, there had been a handful of times in the past when Hellboy had almost been this distraught, but it was usually related to…

A sudden panic gripped Abe—where was Trevor Broom? Even though Abe had always called him ‘Professor’, in many ways the BPRD director was just as much a father to him as he was to his officially adopted son, Hellboy. He would usually check on Abe frequently when he had been injured.

Feeling a little stronger, Abe pushed a more insistent question into Hellboy’s mind. Hellboy, still seated on the floor, raised his head again. The expression on his face filled Abe with dread. A weird sense of déjà vu came over Abe.

For some reason he knew exactly what Hellboy was going to say next. “November 1st; always knew it’d be November 1st. Just didn’t know what year; now I do.” Hellboy shook his head. “Pop was wrong back in ’78, Blue; it was all my fault, just like I said it would be.”

Dropping his head into his huge stone hand, Hellboy sobbed even harder as he was beset by the inescapable reality of his devastating loss. Abe felt wave upon wave of grief, guilt, and self-loathing pour out from his best friend, partner and almost-brother. In his weakened state, Abe could not prevent himself from being able to ‘see’ the event that had driven Hellboy to this extremity.

Gasping in dismay, his heart beating faster and faster, Abe attempted to drive this distressing mental image out of his head. Hellboy had been correct—he did not want to know what he now knew; he did not want to see what he was now seeing. He fruitlessly screwed his physical eyes shut against this horrible vision, wishing he had the tear ducts that would enable him to weep as Hellboy was weeping.

“A nightmare, this has to be nothing more than a hideous nightmare,” he thought to himself.

Hellboy spoke, almost as if he picked up Abe’s thoughts. “It’s just a bad dream; the same stupid dream I’ve had over and over since I was a kid. But now the nightmare’s real. My father’s dead and he will never hide under the bed with me again to keep the monsters away.”

The intense combination of emotional and physical trauma was too much for the badly wounded Abe and a series of alarms attached to his monitors went off. A member of the medical team rushed in. Abe was just barely aware of her addressing Hellboy. “I’m sorry, you’ll have to leave. Your presence is upsetting him too much.”

After that, everything went black and Abe floated away on a sea of nothingness.

At length he floated into a dimly lit tunnel, but found the way forward blocked by a wall of stone. Certain that he had to get past this wall, he investigated it closely. When it became obvious there would be no way to penetrate directly through it, he began to examine if there was a way over, around, or under this wall.

The water in this tunnel was very deep. Abe dove down into its murky depths; the farther down he went, the darker the tunnel became. Soon he could hardly see at all and the water was much colder. He continued going down, searching for the bottom of the tunnel.

When he reached it, after what seemed like hours of swimming, he found to his amazement that there was a tiny space between the bottom of the tunnel and the wall of stone. It was just large enough for him to swim through, even though it was a very tight squeeze. Having little idea what lay beyond, Abe slithered through this opening in what proved to be a very thick wall.

Abe found he was now swimming in a somewhat shallow basin of water with a cement roof that was just inches above the surface. It appeared to be a dead end, but when he attempted to depart the way he had come in, the hole he had entered through was gone. In fact the wall of stone was gone; there was nothing more than this completely dark basin of water.

Upon investigation, he found the place where he was confined was rounded in shape—probably some type of small underground reservoir. However, the water was not stagnant, indicating some sort of operational drainage system. The water in this reservoir was very still, but after swimming for a while Abe distinctly felt a gentle current of water that was flowing into the basin.

Swimming in the direction of that current, Abe groped the cement side of the basin until his hands encountered an inlet tunnel. The mouth of this tunnel was somewhat larger than the now vanished tunnel he had entered through, but appeared to be covered with a metal grating.

Abe came to realize that he had a harpoon-style weapon strapped to his back. He pulled it out from its sheath and gingerly examined it in the dark. It appeared to be sturdy enough for him to poke at the grating to see if he could loosen it and pass into the inlet tunnel. He soon discovered that the metal of the grating was corroded and the interface between the grating and the cement was weak.

It was not long before he was able to bash the grating loose enough to yank it out and let it drop to the bottom of the basin. Even though he had little idea of where he was going, he felt compelled to pass into this further tunnel. As he continued swimming forward in the inky blackness, he sensed that this tunnel started to curve upward.

He finally came to another odd chamber filled with water. It also had a stone or cement roof directly overhead; there appeared to be light filtering down through a small crevice in the surface of that roof. As his eyes adjusted to something other than pitch darkness, he discerned a metal ladder that came down into the chamber from the roof above. Carefully climbing up this damp and slippery ladder brought him to what he could now see was a trap door into a chamber above the roof.

Quietly pushing this open, Abe eased himself up onto a stone floor in a kind of underground chamber. He became conscious that he could hear voices and carefully moved forward toward this sound.

Surreptitiously crawling along the floor of the chamber, Abe ultimately made out a curiously attractive, if battered-looking, blond-headed woman tied to a wooden chair. He had never met her before, but it suddenly came to him that it was she, and the other woman tied up behind her, that he had been frantically searching for through all of the dark, twisting tunnels he swam through.

A British-sounding male voice was speaking. “Actually, 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?” queried Abe as he rose up onto his webbed feet to confront the rat-like creature that turned to face him. It was oddly dressed in a brown suit.

“Oh, my,” intoned this creature, in a fussy voice that was almost a parody of Trevor Broom’s cultured British accent, “A talking fish, how quaint.”

Abe noticed that the blond-headed woman had been surprised by his sudden appearance, but other than that did not seem particularly startled by the fact that he was not human.

“I think I’ve been away from the Bureau for far too long,” Abe heard her mutter.

Abe slowly became aware of the sound of knuckles rapping on the glass of his tank. Opening his eyes in surprise he looked out of his portable tank into the now dimmed lighting of the truck and saw Hellboy standing there.

“Hey, Blue,” Hellboy said when he finally noted that Abe was aware of him. “I’ve been trying to snap you out of whatever nightmare you’ve been having for the last ten minutes. It’s a wonder you didn’t wake Pop with all that noise. I actually thought you were going to kick the glass out.”

Even if he was still a bit disoriented, Abe found that the sleep he had gotten, even if troubled, had made him a lot stronger. He clambered out of the tank, down to the floor of the truck.

“Well,” said Hellboy with a smile, “you look like the sleep did you some good. How do you feel?”

Abe went and sat down in his seat. “Not bad, really. Funny dream I had, though. I can’t remember much except swimming through dark underground tunnels and chambers searching for something.”

He stopped speaking and shuddered, “But there was an earlier part of the dream that was terrifying. I don’t remember much of it and, believe me, I don’t want to remember it.” He shuddered again, “The only thing I really remember is that something horrible happened on the first day of November.”

Hellboy knelt by Abe’s chair. “Jeez, I’m sorry Abe. It looks like when you went into my head you ended up getting sucked into my bad dreams. Since I was a kid I’ve been having the nightmare that something bad will happen on November 1st. I don’t know what will happen, or how it will happen, or why, or what year; I just know that November 1st is the day the worst thing that will ever happen to me will happen.” As he said this, he looked over at the still sleeping Trevor Broom.

Abe nodded, “That fits in with what I remember of the nightmare. But that dream took an interesting turn toward the end and…” He abruptly jumped up from his seat and ran over to the table that had the various maps of the tunnels and chambers under Saint Nicholas Park. He snatched one up and turned toward Hellboy.

“I know which chamber they’re in, Red; I know where Kate and Mindy are being held. I saw them and their captor in my dream. And here’s where it gets strange; I think they saw me.”

More to come…

Author’s afterward: Please don’t expect Abe’s nightmare journey through the underground tunnels and chambers to correspond to any actual structures under Saint Nicholas Park; it was all my own weird imagination. However, I did find some historical weather data for the locations and dates in 1978 I’ve been writing about. Even though my weather may be fictional, it is plausible to the historical data. The moon phase as described is also based on historical data. The Farmer’s Almanac has some interesting data that can be found online.

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