HELLBOY'S FAMILY

Author’s notes: This part follows directly after Part Twenty-Six. It won’t make sense without the previous parts.

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

Hellboy stood up and strode over to where Abe was standing, still holding the map.

“You think they saw you? What’s that supposed to mean? It was just a dream, right?” He tried to keep his voice down in order to avoid waking Trevor Broom, who was still sleeping.

“Yes, Red, it was just a dream; or, at least, it started out as one.” Abe said as he sat down at the table and picked up a pencil. He began to jot markings on the map that related to where he was now convinced Kate and Mindy were being held captive.

“Yet, at a certain point it became a real-time experience of my astral body rather than a dream. During this time, I exchanged some words with a giant rat-like being that was dressed in a brown three-piece suit. This odd creature had two women held captive, bound to wooden chairs. One of these women, who I believed to be ‘your Katie’, definitely saw me and muttered something about having been away from the Bureau for far too long.”

Hellboy frowned, “A rat in a three-piece suit? Are you sure you weren’t still dreaming?”

Shrugging, Abe continued scribbling on the map. After a short while he looked up. “Between the suit and the way the rat spoke, it looked and sounded just like a rat trying to imitate Professor Broom. Still dreaming? Maybe; but I practiced traveling in my astral body when I was recuperating after being injured in Massachusetts and what happened just now felt like that, not like a dream.”

“Still sounds like a dream to me,” said Hellboy, shaking his head, “None of the giant rats seen by other people wore clothes or talked. You say you thought you saw Kate, but how do you know that wasn’t just one of my memories of her coming into your dream?”

Putting down his pencil, Abe looked up at Hellboy, “I know that at one point I was definitely dreaming, but the whole feeling changed once I starting swimming through the underground tunnels. I don’t really recall much of the dream before this point, but my primary impression is that once I encountered the rat in that chamber, it was no longer a dream.”

Abe picked up his pencil again, pointing to a series of tunnels and chambers on the map. “I am now convinced this large chamber below the northeastern end of the park is what we are looking for. However, I cannot guarantee that the route I took in the dream to arrive there corresponds to anything on this map.”

He pulled out another map that showed the aboveground structures in the park. “As you can see, there is a passage from an enclosure on the surface of the park that functioned at one time as a way for maintenance workers to have access to this chamber and the waterworks beneath it.”

Abe jotted some markings on this other map, “I am certain these rat-like creatures have this enclosure guarded. There is yet another thing to be considered; if I indeed appeared before Kate and Mindy’s captor in my astral body this may well cause these creatures to become more vigilant in guarding entry into the chamber from below.”

Hellboy collapsed back down in his seat. “Damn,” he mumbled after digesting this new information, “if you’re right that it wasn’t just a dream, so much for the element of surprise. What are we supposed to do? Just when we finally know where these creeps are hiding Kate and Mindy, we can’t come at them from above or below.”

“Perhaps we can assist you,” came an unexpected and unfamiliar voice from the rear of the truck. Abe, map still in hand, jumped up in astonishment from the table where he had been seated.

“What the hell!” Hellboy shouted, as he threw himself from his seat. He came up, huge gun in hand, in a protective crouch in front of the bench where Trevor Broom was yet sleeping. “Stay down, Pop,” he whispered as he felt Broom starting to sit up, the shouting having finally wakened him.

Hellboy’s shout attracted the attention of the BPRD agents who were on guard outside. Pulling out their guns, they moved toward the still open rear entrance of the truck and cautiously peered inside. The agents saw a gun-wielding Hellboy crouching on the floor, Abe standing by the map-strewn table, and a drowsy, tousled-hair Trevor Broom looking up from his recumbent position on the bench.

“I can assure you, all of this aggressive display of weaponry is unnecessary,” came the voice Hellboy and Abe had heard earlier. A large white cat, that was just inside the rear entrance of the truck, stepped forward and metamorphosed into a tall male figure that looked human, but still had something cat-like in his blue eyes and long white hair. “Believe me, we mean you no harm.”

“Look, bud,” growled Hellboy, still hovering protectively over Trevor Broom, “I’m the one who decides if you’re safe or not and I’m in no mood to find out the hard way; so the guns stay.” He gestured to one of the BPRD agents, “Get Pop out of here. I don’t want him in the line of fire if things get hot.”

Unlike his earlier adamant determination to remain on the scene, Trevor Broom knew he was still too sleepy to be of much use in this new situation. Believing it to be the better part of discretion not to burden Hellboy and Abe with the necessity to protect him, Broom complied with Hellboy’s wishes. Giving a curious glance toward the mysterious stranger, he climbed out of the truck.

The stranger smiled as Broom departed, escorted by the agent. “It would have been perfectly safe for him to stay. He might even have found what I have to say informative.”

Hellboy shrugged, “Yeah, maybe that’s right. But I’d never forgive myself if anything happened to him on my watch. Better safe than sorry, if you know what I mean. So, what’ve you got to say?”

Just at this moment Lucky, the white cat Hellboy had adopted a few hours earlier as his new pet, decided to wake up and start making a fuss. The stranger looked toward the cage where Lucky had been sleeping and where he was now meowing vociferously. “Well, well, so that’s where our little kleptomaniac has disappeared to.”

In the midst of all of the confusion that had occurred since he had awakened Abe from his nightmare, Hellboy had forgotten all about the stray cat he had placed in the cage. “Hey, does this cat belong to you or something like that? What do mean by ‘kleptomaniac’?”

“It's just one of our little jokes; this stray seems to have a taste for shiny objects and the place where he likes to sleep is filled with little things he has collected.” The stranger held out his empty hands, palm upward, “I assure you I am not armed; may I go examine the cat?”

“Yeah, go ahead; but don’t try anything funny.” Hellboy, gun still in hand, stood aside so the stranger could approach the little white cat in the cage at the front of the truck.

The cat seemed to be familiar with the stranger and let him examine him thoroughly. “You have treated our little friend quite nicely. As far as I am concerned, this shows you can be trusted.”

Turning back toward Abe and Hellboy, the stranger continued, “It has come to the attention of certain of our associates that a specific enemy of ours has been holed up in a location near here. You can be sure that any attempt to penetrate to where it is hiding will be noticed by the rodents and other small creatures it has guarding the entrances. My companions and I have means at our disposal that can neutralize these guards without our enemy’s knowledge. You and your friend can then penetrate into its lair and do what you must. The question now is whether or not you are willing to trust us.”

Still looking suspicious, Hellboy glanced over at Abe. “What do you think, Blue?”

Placing down on the table the map he had still been holding, Abe walked over to the stranger.

“May I attempt to read your thoughts?” When the stranger nodded, Abe placed his right hand on the stranger’s forehead and concentrated in silence for a few moments.

“His name is Malachy; he is the leader of an assemblage of spirits of righteousness that often manifest physically as cats, in much the same way as their demonic enemies manifest as rats. They seldom interfere directly in human affairs, but look upon our case as unique and are willing to offer us the assistance that Malachy has just mentioned and possibly even further support.”

Malachy nodded, “Yes, this is so. These giant rats are more than mere monstrous creatures; they are high-ranking demons that are divinely prohibited from acting in such a direct manner in your world. The breaking of this decree opens the way for us to assist you in a more open manner than usual.”

Hellboy re-holstered the Samaritan, but still looked puzzled. “Demonic creatures act directly in this world all the time. Look at me, I’m a demonic creature; or at least I think I could’ve been if it wasn’t for the man who adopted me. And look at the crap I’m fighting against all the time. Not sure I get what you’re saying.”

“Ah, but you see,” Malachy said with a smile, “these monsters and demons your organization usually handles are far from the level of these creatures we are dealing with now. Demons of this magnitude are permitted only subtle means to manipulate humanity; psychic infiltration, demonic possession, clever means of evil persuasion—but the kind of direct action as they are using now is prohibited.”

Looking deeply into Hellboy’s glowing yellow eyes, Malachy went on, “You are an intriguing case; conceived centuries ago of a human woman in hell, who had in her youth conjured up a demon and consorted with it. Even so, the destiny you must play out is not clear to me. I have seen only your actions, and these have largely been good ones. You are a most remarkable creature and significant choices must be made before your true destiny manifests itself. These demons may be trying to force your hand; force you willing or not into a predetermined fate not of your own choosing. I and my friends are here to help you up to a point; but, in the long run, you are the one that must choose.”

Hellboy turned away from Malachy’s searching blue eyes with a sigh.

He then laughed. “Sometimes I feel like I need all the help I can get. I’m going to go get my father back in here. I think you’re right; he really would be interested in what you have to say.”

More to come…

Author’s afterward: I had originally intended this part to be much longer, but life got in the way. I’ve got to go visit my family who lives in other states. I’m sorry that I won’t be able to get back to this for at least two weeks.

Dealing with ‘kleptomaniac’ cats: When my sister’s cat Ginger was a kitten he loved small pieces of jewelry and other shiny objects. He would collect these things and hide them in his cat bed. Once when my mother was visiting she couldn’t find her watch anywhere and then one day Ginger carried her watch to her in his teeth and dropped it at her feet. (True story, honest.) However, I’ve made the kitten, Lucky, in this story a white cat with blue eyes in honor of my first pet cat.

I would like to thank all who have been reading this. All feedback is welcome.

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