Author’s notes: This part follows directly after Part Twenty-Seven, but then makes connections back to Part Twenty. Malachy: the ‘ch’ is pronounced as a ‘k’. He is original to me and, as far as I can recall, neither he nor his name derives from anything other than my imagination.

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

Abe had returned to his seat at the table and continued to pore over the maps he had of all of the above- and belowground structures of Saint Nicholas Park. Hellboy had gone out of the truck and came back in bringing Trevor Broom. Broom was now seated on the long bench speaking quietly with the odd being Malachy, who had indicated a wish for a private conversation.

Not wishing to appear to be eavesdropping and feeling that his own seat was too close to the bench, Hellboy went and sat in Abe’s seat on the other side of the truck. Even though this seat was smaller than his own, it was still designed sturdily enough to support his weight.

Broom and Malachy quietly spoke together for a long time and Hellboy was curious what they were saying, assuming that he himself was the main topic of conversation. He got up from Abe’s seat and went to join Abe at the table.

For a brief while, Hellboy looked in silence at the maps Abe was consulting. He then bent over and whispered in his ear. “Tell me, Blue, what does this Malachy character look like to you? Every time I think I’ve figured out what he looks like, everything seems to shift. Now that I’m not looking at him, all I can remember is his hair and eyes; nothing else, not even his clothing.”

Abe nodded, “Curiously, he seemed the most physically manifest as a cat. I wonder…”

Whatever it was that Abe wondered, Hellboy never found out. Distracted by the awareness that Trevor Broom had become somewhat agitated, Hellboy could now make out what he was saying.

“No, Malachy, I don’t doubt him. I have never doubted him and I never will. If there is anything I doubt, it is my own ability to deal with him. He matures so slowly that I am finding it more and more difficult to reconcile my responsibilities toward him as a father and my responsibilities toward the federal government as director of the organization that utilizes him. I have tried so hard to keep him as free as possible from unwarranted restrictions, tried to protect him from feeling more like a prisoner than a son; but I fear I will fail him in this regard and he will hate me for that failure.”

Malachy was about to reply to this, when Hellboy came and stood next to where Broom was seated.

Broom looked up at him with a sigh, “I didn’t mean for you to overhear that.”

“It was hard not to, Father.” Hellboy sat down on the bench next to Broom. “I can’t promise I’ll never say that I hate you. I say the stupidest crap when I’m mad. You’re doing the best you can. Remember I said that; because if it all goes wrong, it will be my fault, my failure, not yours.”

Broom took Hellboy’s left hand into both of his own. “When that times comes we may both be to blame, I’m afraid.” He touched Kate’s blue ribbons wrapped around Hellboy’s wrist. “I didn’t notice these at first, but I know whose they are. We have more important things to do right now than waste time speculating on our future.”

Broom squeezed Hellboy’s hand and then looked back up at Malachy, who was still sitting waiting for Broom to resume their conversation. “I understand what you are trying to do, Malachy, but I can only take my life with him one day at a time. My only concern at this point is what we need to accomplish to rescue Kate Corrigan and Mindy Carlton; that’s the best thing we can do right now. The future will just have to take care of itself.”

Malachy nodded, “That future will come, however; and when it does it will not be easy. Yet, neither of you will be left without help.”

Broom nodded back and letting go of Hellboy’s hand stood and stretched. Never saying another word on the subject, he went and looked out of the rear of the truck at the growing light in the sky.

Arising from the bench, Malachy gestured toward Hellboy. “We have an advantage over our foe that it does not have over us,” Malachy said as they went to join Abe at the table, “We now know where it is hidden, but it has less knowledge of our whereabouts or how close we are to it.”

He bent over the table and looked at the maps Abe was consulting. He then turned toward Hellboy. “I believe we can also take advantage of another distraction. As far as my associates and I are aware, Abe’s encounter in his astral body with this creature was real; but this event occurred outside of linear time and, in actuality, has yet to happen. If my group can neutralize this creature’s guards at the same time that it is being distracted by Abe’s astral projection, then you and Abe have a much better chance of taking it unawares.”

Hellboy frowned slightly, “How’re we supposed to know when this will be? I don’t think Abe knows.”

“I certainly do not, Red,” Abe said shaking his head, “I just know that it happened; but if what Malachy asserts is accurate, then the ‘when’ is a mystery to me.”

Hellboy turned toward Malachy, still mystified both by the elusiveness of his appearance and his sudden emergence on to the scene as a new help in this time of crisis.

“I’ll bet you’ll say that you and your buddies have your own ways of finding out.”

Malachy grinned slightly as he looked closer at Abe’s assemblage of maps. “We may. I will consult with them as soon as I have memorized the information on these maps; then we will see.”

Kate Corrigan was more than infuriated with both the absurdity of her situation and with having to put up with the ridiculous blather that was being uttered by her rat-like captor. Rather than paying much attention to that creature droning on in that mock Trevor Broom accent, Kate pictured to herself what it would look like after Hellboy ripped it to shreds.

Although she understood that Mindy Carlton, her fellow prisoner, was understandably fearful, Kate had absolutely no uncertainty as to the eventual outcome of this situation. Hellboy wasn’t one to sit around and do nothing while monsters or other demonic creatures terrorized innocent people; he was even more protective of his intimate friends and acquaintances.

Suddenly, in the midst of some idiotic nonsense about the ‘human male who calls himself his father’, an unfamiliar blue-gray fish-man clad in Bureau issued clothing and equipment unexpectedly rose up in front of Kate. This fish-man challenged her captor, referring to Hellboy as ‘my brother’.

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

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

The rat had turned away from the entrance to the underground chamber, which it considered secure. There were many small animals and animal-like demonic creatures guarding this doorway and the tunnel leading to it. In addition, the aboveground access to this passage was in an essentially concealed enclosure in a seldom-visited section of the park.

“How did you manage to get in here? I did not realize there was another passable entrance.” Confident it could deal with this lone intruder on its own, the giant rat moved to seize the fish-man.

However, as the rat moved in, the fish-man unexpectedly faded into nothingness. At that very same moment there was a huge crash as the door to the chamber burst open. The chair Kate was bound to faced away from this entrance and she could not turn around far enough to see what was going on, but she was sure this new intrusion was finally Hellboy come to the rescue.

Mindy Carlton was bound facing the opposite direction from Kate. She could hear the intruder speak, but could not see him. Unlike Kate, she could see the obviously locked door into the chamber.

At almost the same time that their captor was distracted by the intruder, Mindy saw a giant red fist, apparently made of solid stone, smash through the cement door. Two figures forced their way through the ruins. The first of these Mindy recognized right away as the man who had been the guest of honor at that Halloween costume party where she had tended bar.

Mindy was too startled to even scream. Her heart practically stopped beating at the impression of bristling, fuming rage radiating out from this gigantic individual. In his more normal-sized left hand was the enormous handgun she had seen at the party and thought merely a well-constructed fake. The sheer awareness of his presence was larger than life; how could she have ever thought he was nothing more than a large man in a funny red costume?

The other being, which was directly behind, was a smaller-built fish-man. Oddly mottled dolphin-gray skin showed from under his tight-fitting black outfit. He was armed with some type of harpoon gun. Even though more slender, he appeared just as dangerously angry as his colossal-sized partner.

Hellboy’s heart really only had eyes for one person in that room; the one person he couldn’t see from the vantage point of his entrance. Yet he was more than aware, from his many decades of experience in dealing with monsters and demons, of what was truly important—the giant black rat turning in confusion toward its no longer existent door. His heart-wrenching concern for Kate Corrigan had to wait until he dealt with this creature that oddly was clad in a way that reminded him of Trevor Broom.

“All right, fur face,” snarled Hellboy through gritted teeth, “you’ve got someone more your own size to pick on now. Why not do it the easy way and just let the girls go?”

If the rat was disconcerted by this aggressive incursion into its chamber, it did not show anything.

“Oh, my, the easy way? I don’t think so, demon; at least not for you, a traitor to his own kind.”

Hefting his cannon-sized gun a little higher, Hellboy moved closer to the rat, which was about a foot shorter than he was. “Look, pal, I’ve got no problem with you and your paranormal buddies living your measly paranormal lives in your stupid little paranormal realms. But when you turn up here scaring the bejesus out of people, stealing poor parents’ little kids, or damning their immortal souls; that I’ve got a huge problem with.”

He moved in a little closer, “And I don’t see that nasty bullies like you are my own kind. I’ve been protecting defenseless people against the likes of you almost my whole life. Not planning on quitting.”

At this the rat drew out of its pocket a shiny antique Zippo Indian head lighter and then proceeded to relight the cigarette it had in its holder. After a few puffs on this, it gave Hellboy a little smile.

“And what’s the idea,” growled Hellboy, “of standing there and aping my father to my face. Everything you have looks exactly like his stuff, except for that idiotic cigarette.”

The infuriating rat grinned even more broadly. “Except for the cigarette, everything is your father’s. Maybe he never told you that his apartment in Brooklyn had an infestation of rats a few months ago. I’m afraid he has yet to notice that some things have gone missing since that time.”

Everyone was following this altercation between Hellboy and rat with intense interest; all could sense Hellboy’s fury increasing exponentially. He pointed his gun directly at the rat’s head.

“I don’t give a damn about a few clothes, but I want that lighter back. He may not smoke, but that was a Christmas present from me way back and he always kept it on display in his china cabinet. Give it back or you’ll be really sorry.”

The rat shrugged. “Big words, demon. But, you see, you have no power here. Go ahead; shoot me with your big gun or punch me out with your big fist. Let’s see how far that will get you.”

More to come…

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