Author’s notes: This part follows directly after Part Thirty. This is finally winding to its conclusion and won’t make sense without the previous parts. Thanks, to all who have been following this.

Chapter Five: Abe Sapien: Sibling Rivalry: Part Thirty-One

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.’ Hellboy projected this thought at Abe Sapien just as he was departing the underground chamber bearing an unconscious Mindy Carlton in his arms.

At least ten or fifteen minutes later, Hellboy caught Abe’s projected reply: ‘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.’

Hellboy projected back, ‘Gotcha. See you later, Blue, and tell the kid I’m really sorry I yelled at her.’ Even though Abe returned no further communication, Hellboy caught a whiff of what he was thinking; Abe was impressed with the range of this form of communication and suspected that some sort of psychic connection between the matching shirt studs was, indeed, helping.

After Abe left with Mindy, Hellboy sank to the floor, apparently in total defeat. He leaned despondently against one of the dank walls of the chamber. As Kate dropped down next to him, he gathered her up into his lap and buried his face in her hair.

Reaching up, Kate caressed the side of his face; she had never seen him so dejected, not even in 1959 when they had first met and Trevor Broom was gravely ill with cancer.

“God, Hellboy,” she murmured, “My hair must be filthy by now.”

Peaches; did anyone ever tell you your hair smells like peaches, Katie?’ Kate was startled to ‘hear’ a voice very much like Hellboy’s projected into her mind.

“How…what?” she began to blurt out, when Hellboy grabbed her up into a huge passionate kiss.

Not completely sure how this’s working,’ came Hellboy’s ‘mental’ voice again, ‘But whatever you hear me say in your mind, don’t let it see you react; just get ready to run when I say run.’

Hellboy had continued kissing Kate even during this mental communication. He felt Kate cautiously nod her consent to his request. He deepened the kiss even further. ‘That’s my brave Katie.’

“Ugh, how nauseating,” said their giant rat-like captor, as that breath-taking kiss came to an end, “You could be one of the most powerful beings in this universe and yet you choose to align yourself with this weak, insignificant human woman. What you see in these human creatures is beyond me. You have so identified with them as to almost become human yourself.”

Hellboy looked up at the giant rat and shrugged. “Makes me better than you, I’d say. And why not try to be as human as I can? Jeez, human is all I know. It’s the way I was raised.”

The rat walked closer. Despite still being dressed in a suit of clothes stolen from Trevor Broom’s Brooklyn apartment, it was beginning to sound less and less like him. “You speak truly, demon; human is, indeed, all you were raised to know. However, you could know so much more: your real father, for instance. A month ago you were offered that exact chance, and yet you dared to reject it.”

Remember, Katie; run when I say run and don’t look back and don’t worry ‘bout me. Just run out that door and Abe should be there to help you by then.’ Hellboy projected that thought toward Kate as he again stood to confront their captor.

“You guys just don’t get it, do you? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ve already got a father; don’t need another one. Trevor Broom took me in when I needed to be taken in and protected me when I needed to be protected. He adopted me and raised me as his own son. Because he chose me, I choose him; end of story.”

“That story is far from over, demon,” the rat took another nonchalant puff of the cigarette in its elegant holder before going on, “In the end, you will have no choice; your destiny must be fulfilled and it will be fulfilled or we will take your life from you. These are the only two outcomes open to you.”

“Look, there’s only one ‘destiny’ I want to fulfill and one outcome that really interests me,” Hellboy said with a laugh, “It has to do with a great Charlie Chaplin flick that’s on TV tonight, a few bottles of some really good beer, and sexy Katie here.”

Making a dismissive gesture, the rat said, “You could be so much more potent than this mundane humanity you so admire. They call you ‘Hellboy’; that is no name, it is merely a description of where they think you hail from. That is the true source of your weakness here. I know exactly who I am and where my true allegiance lies; you, on the other hand, do not.”

“Oh, shove it up your ass,” Hellboy muttered. He then began to maneuver Kate through projected mental instructions, so that she was as near to the door as possible. The whole time he was doing this he continued speaking to the rat, “You know, after that demon tried to get at me last month, I got bothered about not knowing what kind of creature I really was. But my father has helped me see things in a different way. He’s right, it’s not what I used to be that matters, but what I am right now.”

“But, you see, demon,” the rat said as it moved closer to Hellboy, “you have absolutely no clue as to what you are right now.”

“I know exactly what I am and always will be—the son of Trevor Broom.” As Hellboy spoke, he shifted to block the rat’s view of Kate, furtively removing something from one of the pouches of his belt.

“You know,” Hellboy continued, as he moved closer to the rat with slow deliberation, “now that I come to think of it, my father had me baptized when I was five. I’ve got a real name and it ain’t Hellboy; it’s Trevor, says so right on my baptismal certificate. Pop’s always taught me this baptism made me a new person. I don’t think this Trevor’s such a bad person to be, so I think I’ll stick with that.”

The rat shook its head. “I assure you that absolutely nothing can stand in the way of your predetermined role in this universe, demon. No silly Catholic rituals can ever free you from that fate.”

“Fate, who gives a damn about fate,” growled Hellboy, “You keep telling me I only have two choices: fulfill this destiny you keep droning on about, or die. Well, I choose door number three; it’s my goddamn life and I’ll live it the way I want to live it.”

The rat was curious to note a new show of strength in one that really should be completely powerless in the current situation. “I see the others are correct; now is not the opportune time. However, when that time comes we will definitely have to dispose of that human male you so erroneously refer to as your father. He has far too great a hold over you.”

Kate had followed all of Hellboy’s mentally projected instructions to the letter and was now poised as near as she could get to the smashed-in door of the chamber. She watched this whole confrontation between Hellboy and that demonic rat-like creature with intense interest. Hellboy was obviously not as defeated as he had pretended to be earlier. She saw him slip something into the palm of his huge stone hand, closing it into a fist as he moved even closer to the rat.

“His only hold over me is love. I never could quite get what he saw in me, but he has always loved me and I know he always will. I won’t have you or anyone else threatening him, not as long as I’m there to protect him. And I always will be; I can promise you that.”

The rat pulled another cigarette out of a vest pocket and inserted it into the holder. Lighting it with the Indian head Zippo he had stolen from Trevor Broom, he shrugged. “Promises are made to be broken, demon. You will come to rue the day that you break the one you just made. It is the very stuff your nightmares are made of. I know this; I have seen it.”

“No!” Hellboy suddenly shouted, leaping forward and bringing his huge stone fist crashing into the rat’s stomach. “I will never leave my father unprotected; never!” Before the rat could recover from the blow, Hellboy grabbed a hold of the creature by the dark-brown vest it was wearing.

“Run, Kate! Run now!” Hellboy shouted.

“Tu Sancte Michael Archangele, princeps militiae caelestis, cum omnibus milibus angelorum ora pro me ut eripiat de potestate adversariorum meorum!” As Hellboy cried out this invocation to the leader of the hosts of heaven and his angelic troops, two things happened at almost the same time.

One was that the invisible barrier that was still blocking the exit from the chamber ceased with a suddenness that almost caused Kate to stumble as she ran into the tunnel as directed. The other was that as Hellboy opened his stone fist and let what he was holding touch the forehead of the still stunned rat, the rat’s body disappeared in a sulfurous vapor. Trevor Broom’s stolen suit of clothing fell empty to the floor of the chamber.

“So much for your physical manifestation, whiskers,” Hellboy rumbled, as he shoved the Russian Orthodox Saint Michael engraved soldier’s nametag back into the pouch it had come out of.

He had little idea of why he even recalled he had been carrying that piece of memorabilia from the time he had served in Argentina. Dmitri, the same Russian man who had taught him to read and speak Russian, had given him that nametag. Not that Dmitri himself had worn that during the war; good Soviet soldiers no longer carried images of saints and archangels into battle, at least not openly.

Blue, you out there? Is Katie okay?’

Hellboy impatiently waited for a reply that seemed to take forever to come. ‘Don’t worry, Red, she’s just fine. I’ve just been explaining to her how we’ve been communicating. Kate doesn’t want to go to the surface until you come as well. Do you need any assistance in there?’

Nah, everything’s under control. Just a few more things need taken care of.’ Hellboy reached into an inner pocket of his coat and pulled out a bottle of holy water.

He stooped and retrieved the Zippo lighter that dropped from the rat’s grasp as it had vanished. Pulling a handkerchief out of another pocket, he wetted it with the holy water and very carefully washed the lighter. Sprinkling some more holy water on the handkerchief, he wrapped the lighter in it before placing it into an inner pocket of his coat. He planned to let Ed Kelly, the best priest and exorcist he knew, examine it before he returned it to Trevor Broom.

Stooping down again, he looked at the dark-brown three-piece suit, white shirt, and dark tie that had been stolen from Trevor Broom’s apartment. He was careful not to touch them. Again taking the bottle of holy water, he sprinkled it on the unsalvageable clothing. He then pulled out a small, flat canister that contained extra fluid for his ubiquitous Zippo lighters and poured it over the clothing.

Using a battered lighter he pulled out from a pocket of his leather pants, he applied the flame to the clothing while he recited another Latin invocation. “Exorcizo te, omnis spiritus immunde, in nomine Dei. In odorem suavitatus. Tu autem effugare, diabole. Appropinquabit enum judicum Dei.”

As he stood, watching the clothing burn into a charred mass of wool, cotton, and silk, he recited in English, “I cast out you noxious vermin, through the same Christ our Lord, who shall come to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire.”

The flames consuming the clothing unexpectedly surged up, almost to the ceiling of the chamber. Hellboy stepped back a little; he may have been proof against destruction by fire, but, outside of his stone hand, he could sense pain when burned just like any other person.

As he came to realize that this purging fire was going to eventually consume the entire chamber and everything contained within it, Hellboy turned and ran out into the tunnel beyond.

“You have won this skirmish. But the true battle has yet to be enjoined. Remember the promise you just made to always protect that human male you call Father; the time you break that promise will be the beginning of the end.”

Hellboy stopped running. He swung back toward the fire-engulfed chamber the voice appeared to be issuing from. “I said I would never leave him unprotected and I meant it,” he shouted, “I will forever be there for him; you can count on that.”

“There is a lot we are counting on,” said the dark voice, “Forever is a very long time, but we can wait.”

Just as the voice stopped speaking, the chamber collapsed into itself in a shower of smoke and ashes.

As Hellboy turned away, again running along the tunnel toward the stairs leading up to the surface of Saint Nicholas Park, he found that he was weeping.

More to come…

Author’s afterword: The invocation to Saint Michael was cobbled together from two different ancient Latin texts. Roughly it means something like You, Saint Michael the Archangel, leader of the armies of heaven, along with the thousands of angels, pray for me and deliver me from my powerful adversary’. The other invocations both Latin and English derive from the Roman Catholic rite of exorcism. The Latin from the rite of exorcism means ‘I exorcise thee, every unclean spirit, in the name of God. For a savor of sweetness. And to you, O devil, begone. For the judgment of God is at hand.’ The Saint Michael engraved Russian soldier’s nametag is based on a real item. Anyone who wants to see what it looks like can ask me to send them a picture. It’s very colorful.

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