Author’s notes: This part follows directly after Part Twenty-Nine. It won’t make sense without the previous parts. It certainly was not my original intention to make this chapter quite so long, but Abe, Hellboy, Broom, Kate and company had other ideas. Thanks to those who have been following this. All feedback will be welcome. (P.S. Wish me a happy birthday. Yesterday was my special day and I spent most of it in a dress rehearsal for a big concert. The concert was earlier today: Haydn Lord Nelson Mass and Te Deum. The concert went very well, but cut into my writing time, so this part is a little shorter than intended.)

Chapter Five: Abe Sapien: Sibling Rivalry: Part Thirty

There was a small group of BPRD agents stationed outside the Saint Nicholas Park enclosure containing a passageway that descended into an underground chamber. Abe Sapien had been certain that it was in this chamber giant rats had Kate Corrigan and Mindy Carlton held against their will.

These agents were beginning to get fidgety. It was now over an hour since Abe and Hellboy had descended this passageway and they were unable to make radio contact; due, they assumed, to the composition of the materials in the underground tunnel and chamber. Just about the time some of the agents were considering descending the passageway themselves, they heard soft footsteps ascending the stairs that lead from the underground tunnel to a doorway in the enclosure.

They were relieved at first when Abe Sapien exited the enclosure carrying a woman, dressed in jeans and a green sweatshirt, in his arms. She was unconscious, but apparently unharmed. The agents were again concerned, however, when there was no sign of Hellboy or Professor Kate Corrigan.

As Abe carried Mindy in his arms, he couldn’t help recalling what had occurred just a few minutes before in the chamber where she had been confined for so many hours.

Taking a deep breath, Hellboy turned back toward the rat. “Yeah, I’ve decided; let Abe take Mindy.”

“Me?” Mindy was taken aback, her moment of self-pity gone, “Why me instead of Kate? You hardly even know me.” She walked closer to him, “I won’t go without Kate, and that’s flat.”

Hellboy exhaled noisily, trying to remind himself that he was angry with the situation, with that damn irritating demonic rat, not Mindy, “Look, kid, I’ve got a job to do and this’s the only way I can do it. When this thing first came up, no one even knew Katie was involved; anyway, I promised your father. If there’s one thing I learned from Pop, it’s you don’t break promises.”

Suddenly everything that Mindy had gone through really got to her. “No! I won’t go without Kate and no one can make me!” she cried, becoming even more hysterical than she had been earlier.

The rat found this all most amusing. “Well, if she truly wishes to stay we should bow to her wishes, don’t you think? However, that fish-man must leave even if she does not.”

Abe tried to calm Mindy down, to make her see reason. He also wondered about Hellboy’s seeming calm through all of this. Abe hadn’t known Hellboy all that long, but thought he knew him well enough to suspect that Hellboy had given up to this rat way too easily.

At the same time that he was coaxing Mindy to calm down, Abe cautiously pushed a silent query toward Hellboy; not certain if the rat could pick up projected thoughts. ‘Red, are you sure about this?’

Wanting to distract the rat from this silent exchange, Hellboy moved closer. “Now look here, stupid,” he shouted at Mindy, “Get the hell out of my hair; I’ve still got a job to do and you’re not helping me.”

As Mindy’s hysteria mounted even higher, Hellboy carefully projected back to Abe, ‘Seems to me he’s going to a lot of trouble to get rid of you. Maybe he’s not really as strong as he appears.’

Certain that further coaxing or reasoning with Mindy would be fruitless, Abe planted the suggestion into her mind that she would do well to faint at this point in time; which feat she promptly managed, almost too quickly for him to catch her.

As Abe lunged to catch the now unconscious Mindy before she hit the floor, he mused on the idea that the rat had really seemed oblivious to his mental exchange with Hellboy. Either this demonic creature was a very good actor, or it was truly unable to pick up on their thoughts. Abe suspected the latter.

“How convenient for you that she fainted instead of carrying on further,” the rat moved closer to Abe, who was now holding the unconscious Mindy in his arms. “Very well, you may take her and depart.”

Before Abe left, he turned to take a silent farewell of Hellboy and Kate. He noticed that even though he had only just met Kate, he felt so close to her; so aware of how attractive she was. Abe presumed this could be mainly due to the effects of having delved into Hellboy’s memories of her.

Yet, the idea that this attraction may be only an echo of Hellboy’s attraction still did not make it any easier to stop noticing that Kate filled out her plaid blouse and jeans quite nicely. However, Abe had enough experience of Hellboy’s tendency toward jealousy to decide that no matter what happened he would keep this attraction to himself; at least for the time being.

As he was pondering this, he noted that on the collar of her blouse was a stud that matched the one he had on his own collar; the old-fashioned shirt stud Hellboy had gifted him with so many hours before as a sign of their new partnership.

He was certain this stud had not been there when they first arrived to rescue her. Hellboy must have slipped it to her at some point since he kissed her. Abe then noted that Hellboy also had one just like it attached to the collar of his leather coat. These studs probably all derived from a matching set that once belonged to the grandfather who had raised Trevor Broom. Abe assumed that Hellboy had several of these stashed in one of the pouches of his belt.

Think you can make a psychic connection between these buttons, Blue? Maybe we could keep a link that way; in case we get moved or something.’ The thought came just as Abe was starting to leave.

Only someone who knew Abe as well as Hellboy did could recognize that he smiled; just before he turned away and bore Mindy out through the smashed doorway toward freedom.

Might be interesting to try. By the way, Red, as far as I can tell, rat-face can’t pick up on this form of communication. We might be able to use this to our advantage. I will return here as soon as I deliver Mindy to Professor Broom. She should be safe with him and his agents until we figure out how to get you and Kate out of here.’

Abe had waited until he was a distance away before projecting this thought back toward Hellboy; waiting until he was at the stairs that led upward from the tunnel to the enclosure in the northeastern end of the park above. It was time to start testing the range of this form of communication.

Gotcha. See you later, Blue, and tell the kid I’m really sorry I yelled at her.’

Abe was impressed; maybe there was something to the idea of a psychic connection between these matching shirt studs. He would have to work on that more after he had delivered Mindy to safety.

Walter Carlton must have been on his tenth pot of coffee. Out of the little window at the end of the kitchen in his daughter’s Carmine Street studio apartment, he watched the dawn growing in the sky. The area where he was standing wasn’t even big enough for a table. Mindy always swore that she could reach anything from anywhere in any cupboard just by standing in the middle of her kitchen.

Looking at the time on the clock built into her stove, he wearily noted that it was almost half past six in the morning now. He had virtually done nothing since he had arrived there the evening before but pace back and forth from the kitchen, making one pot of coffee after another.

He knew it would have been better if he had lain on the bed in her bedroom alcove and tried to sleep. Yet, his concern for his daughter’s welfare made even the very idea of sleep repulsive; he could barely even make himself sit down.

He again paced back out into the room that functioned both as Mindy’s living room and dining room, wondering if he would ever see her stand in her kitchen again. One way or another, during the earlier hours of moonlit darkness, he had managed to keep this same thought at bay. Somehow, it seemed even worse to finally think it now as dawn crept into the sky.

Setting his mug of coffee down on a table in the living room, he again collapsed onto her small couch. Finally dropping his head in his hands, he sobbed out an ocean of tears he had been holding in for almost nine hours; tears, that once started, he knew he would never be able to stop.

Just about twenty minutes later, Carlton was sobbing so hard that, at first, he did not hear the telephone in Mindy’s bedroom alcove ring. He abruptly ceased, gasping for breath. When he realized what had interrupted his anguished weeping, he leapt up from the couch heedlessly knocking over the table that held his now cold mug of coffee.

Dashing into the bedroom, he snatched up the receiver of the telephone on the nightstand.

“What? What is it? What news?” he managed to get out. One brief conversation later, he had fallen to his knees, clutching the receiver to his chest and sobbed even harder than before.

His daughter Mindy was safe and he would see her within the hour.

After cleaning up the coffee he had spilled, Walter Carlton made a fresh pot. He then, if anything, paced even more than previously. The hour promised by Trevor Broom seemed more like a century. Finally, he heard the buzzer and ran to push the button that released the lock on the lobby entrance.

Rather than waiting for the doorbell to ring, he threw open Mindy’s front door and seemed to wait another eternity for the old, wheezy elevator to arrive to the fourth floor.

Interestingly, once that longed for moment finally arrived, everything seemed to happen so fast as to make Carlton’s head spin. At first, it seemed like the elevator door was opening in slow motion. However, the next thing he knew his daughter, Mindy, had flung herself into his arms; not weeping, but clinging as if she never wanted him to let her go again.

Carlton half-dragged, half-carried Mindy back into her apartment. Slowly walking toward the couch, he gently sat down on it and drew her into his lap, cradling her head on his chest. He never even noticed how awkward this was now that Mindy was full-grown; she was still her daddy’s little girl and he felt he could sit like that for hours and never tire of holding the daughter he had almost lost.

Eventually looking up, Carlton found that Trevor Broom had quietly sat himself down on a chair at the table in the dining alcove. “Professor, I…my gratitude is…can’t thank…” Carlton broke down unable to say anything more.

Broom smiled sadly, “Please, I need no thanks. I was merely doing the job I have been given to do. Unfortunately, however, this job is far from over. My son…”

Before he could finish, Mindy lifted her head from her father’s chest. “Daddy, you don’t know the whole story yet. Whatever that dreadful rat wants, I’m not completely sure; but it’s still holding Professor Corrigan and that Hellboy guy hostage.”

Mindy stopped and took a deep breath; Carlton noticed that she was almost on the verge of tears. “Hellboy, he…” she almost completely broke down and then managed to blurt out in a rush of words, “He chose me; he said that he made you a promise and that’s why he chose me instead of…”

Breaking off, Mindy shoved herself up from her father’s lap and turned to Trevor Broom.

“I’m really sorry, sir. I know I should feel more grateful. Hellboy meant well, I know that; but he saved me at someone else’s expense. I can’t take that; I just can’t.” Standing up from the couch, Walter Carlton tried to take Mindy in his arms again.

She shoved him away and running into her bedroom, slammed the door behind her. Due to the very thin walls separating the bedroom alcove from the living room, it wasn’t hard to hear that she had thrown herself down on her bed and was now sobbing as if her heart would break.

Walter Carlton hardly even remembered sitting back down on the couch. Trevor Broom quietly went into the kitchen and after digging around in the cupboards, came back with two mugs of the freshly brewed coffee. He handed one to Carlton, who took a deep drink of his before he even realized much of what he was doing. He looked up at Broom, who was again seated at the table in the dining alcove.

“Mr. Carlton, I hope you don’t mind that I helped myself to some of your excellent coffee. I know I’m usually a tea drinker; but since I’ve been going on so little sleep this coffee is very welcome.”

Rising from the couch, Walter Carlton came to join Broom at the table. “I must apologize for my impoliteness in not offering you something after everything you’ve done for me and my daughter. From what my daughter said earlier, I gather that your son and Professor Corrigan are still in danger, or possibly even destroyed by that hideous creature. Is this truly so?”

“It appears that way,” Broom said, as he took another drink of his coffee, “and yet my son has been defeating the most dreadful creatures since he was nine years old. I’m truly worried for him, but I refuse to give up hope. I believe I understand something of what he may be up to; if he must be held hostage together with some woman, he realizes he will have a better chance of getting both of them away if that woman understands something of what they are up against. Frankly, I can think of no other woman better equipped for this than Kate Corrigan.”

Taking a final drink of his coffee, Broom then arose from the table and held out his hand to be shaken. “I’m afraid I must leave now, Mr. Carlton. I truly wish I could stay and help you comfort Mindy, but my agents and I must go to where we will be of the most use to my son.”

Seizing the proffered hand, Carlton pulled Broom into a tight embrace. “You said that you didn’t want my thanks, but I have to thank you anyway. My wife Margaret died of cancer when Mindy was only twelve years old. I could never bear to lose Mindy since she is practically all I have left of my wife. When your son saved my daughter, he also saved my very life.”

Broom sighed and then smiled; but Carlton did not see the smile in his eyes, which looked very sad. “I understand what it is like to have an only child mean that much to you. It becomes the most difficult when you come to realize that you can’t protect them from everything.” Pulling away from Carlton’s embrace, Broom retrieved the coat he had slung over one of the chairs at the dining table.

Looking at the coat he held in his hands, Broom shook his head. “My son; I would die a million times over for him. However, I know he will eventually find himself totally alone and the only person who will be able to save him is also the one person he keeps trying to run from; himself.”

As Broom pulled on the coat, he smiled again; this time Carlton noted that the smile reached his eyes.

“Somewhere deep down inside of me, I know that I will not outlive my son. Recently, just about a month ago, my son was almost taken from me; part of me absolutely panicked, another part of me kept insisting that it wasn’t supposed to happen that way. Like any father, I always worry about him; but I’m still alive and he has yet to be taken from me. I find that fact very reassuring.”

Broom turned to leave, but Carlton stopped him. “Is there anything I can do to help my daughter? She seems so distraught.”

Broom sighed, “We were able to save your daughter, but we unfortunately were not able to spare her a traumatic experience. My organization has professional counselors, better equipped than many, who can help Mindy deal with this. If you will allow me, I will contact you as soon as I can. The best you can do for her right now is to just be with her.”

Carlton nodded, “I wish you every good luck again. I hate having my daughter saved at the expense of your son or his friend; even if they eventually do escape from that horrible creature.”

More to come...

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