Author’s notes: The form of Chapter Six is going to be a little eccentric. I hope it makes sense. What is below contains romance, but nothing graphic. The location I use is real. If you want to buy this island, it will only set you back about $23.5 million in today’s money. All of the sun, moon, and tide information is historical.

Chapter Six: Liz Sherman

Fear of Fire: A Tale of Trust and Love


He found himself in darkness, gradually realizing that he was seated on a hard surface with his back leaning up against a door; weeping, his arms held his knees tight against his chest.

“H.B.,” a woman’s voice entreated, “please open the door and come out.”

“Go away, Marty,” he shouted, “just go away and leave me alone.”

“I can’t go away, dear, even if I wanted to. I need supplies out of that closet.”

“He’s going to die! I know he will! I just know it,” he gasped.

“I’ll be left all alone.” It was a forlorn whisper that could just barely be heard.

The nurse on the other side of the door heaved a sigh, “Look, H.B., we both know that he’s very sick; but the cancer’s not as bad as you think it is and the chemotherapy’s starting to make a difference.”

“How do I know you’re not lying just to make me feel better, Marty?” he asked with a little sniffle.

“I would never lie to you, H.B.,” the nurse said even more firmly, “You should know that by now.”

“Would you really tell me if he was dying, Marty? Really and truly?”

“That kind of news shouldn’t come first from me, dear,” she replied gently, “I am certain Trevor would tell you himself if that were truly the case. He’s never hidden his illness from you. And you know that even if he were to die, he would always make sure you were taken care of. You won’t ever be alone—not unless you lock yourself away in the dark, like you’re doing now. You’ll have to trust me on this.”

Finally standing and pulling the door open, fourteen-year-old Hellboy threw himself into the arms of the nurse waiting in the hallway and wept on her shoulder; having the weirdest sense of déjŕ vu that he had performed this very same action somewhere, sometime centuries before.

The scene shifted abruptly and everything went even colder and darker. His entire body was being held down by a weight of water. “Open your eyes and move toward the light,” he heard a familiar voice shouting, “It’s the only way; stop struggling and just let yourself float toward the surface.”

Part Three

Little Ragged Island: the south Bahamas
Saturday, February 14, 1987

Hellboy suddenly broke through the surface, coughing and retching. He tried to look annoyed at the tanned, blond-haired woman in the blue bikini that was swimming next to him; but couldn’t help laughing along with her. Kate Corrigan swam adeptly away from his clumsy attempt to seize her.

“I told you to duck under that wave rather than trying to jump over it. Bet you’re sorry you didn’t listen to me. You have to admit, Hellboy, that you’re not the most graceful swimmer in the world; even if you can hold your breath for an extraordinarily long amount of time.”

Hellboy stuck his tongue out at Kate. “You try swimming sometime with a right hand that’s nothing but dead weight. And my stupid tail got in the way.” Just as he spoke another large wave rushed in. This time, he did duck instead of jump; which maneuver was much more successful.

“I think I’m starting to get the hang of this,” he said, shaking the salt water out of his hair, which was starting to come undone from its usual knot. He lunged again at Kate, who laughingly swam away from his grasp. Hellboy then looked back toward the location where Trevor Broom had been standing knee-deep in the water. “Aw, crap, Pop just got knocked over; I told him not to wade out too far.”

“Go ahead and stay out here if you want, Kate. I’m going to make sure he’s all right.” Half swimming, half floundering, Hellboy made his way as quickly as possible nearer the shore to the place where he had seen Trevor Broom fall into the water.

Arriving just as his adoptive father was raising himself onto his hand and knees, Hellboy helped him to stand up again. “You want I should help you back to your cabin, Pop?” he asked, as he brushed globs of wet sand off of the tee shirt Broom was wearing and fetched his sun hat out of the water.

“No, I think I’ll stay in the water a little longer, ” Broom laughed, shaking the salt water out of his hat and then replacing it on his head. “I found my unexpected dunking quite exhilarating. I’ll just have to be more careful the next time the wave is so large. Why don’t you return to Kate? You two looked like you were having so much fun.”

“We were having fun, Pop, but I think I’ll stay with you for a bit. We almost never get to do things together like this. Kate’s a good swimmer; she’ll be okay by herself for a while. And Abe must be having a great time exploring. We haven’t seen him since last night.”

Not long after Hellboy had left her, Kate ducked under another large wave. When she had bobbed to the surface, she found herself facing the shore instead of out to sea. She noticed that after Hellboy had gone to be with him, Trevor Broom dared to venture a little further out into the water.

Kate found it amusing to watch this pale-skinned, small-framed seventy-year-old man cling to his much more massively framed ‘son’. Hellboy’s bright-red skin seemed to glow even more vibrantly after long exposure to the sun; making his rather tight-fitting black swim trunks look even darker. Definitely enjoying this sight, Kate watched him until she had to deal with another large wave.

Walter Carlton had arranged this trip for Trevor Broom, Hellboy, Kate, and Abe Sapien as a Valentine’s gift and also as a way of thanking them for rescuing his daughter, Mindy, back in December of 1978. Now retired, Walter had managed his finances well during his years as a restaurateur and had amassed a considerable savings, investing a portion of this as a silent partner in a local travel agency.

“It’s about time you got around to taking ‘your Katie’ off on some sort of honeymoon trip, you know; and I’ll bet you’ve never had a chance to go anywhere with Trevor or Abe unless you guys were chasing some damn monster all over the place. You all deserve a real vacation.”

Walter had said this when Hellboy objected to the money this must have cost him. Then there was all that finagling the now retired ‘Lee’ went through to convince Tom Manning, the current FBI liaison, that there was this demonic infestation somewhere in the Trinidad Mountains of Cuba; something that had to be dealt with directly by Trevor Broom accompanied by his best operatives and consultant.

Somehow, Walter had also managed to arrange for a collection of Trevor Broom’s books and papers to be transported to the island with him. Broom loved being able to use some of his free time to catch up on neglected personal research. But he was the most grateful to be able to share this time with his adopted son and others he loved just as well; something he never could have financed himself.

Kate sometimes helped Broom with his research, but her evenings always belonged only to Hellboy. Together they inhabited a separate cabin. Between a well stocked bar, a huge entertainment center, and an enormous master bedroom they never had the time to even think about being bored.

In the beginning of the trip, Abe had stayed near the other three; but he quickly became intrigued with exploring everything that he could swim to within twenty-four hours. They soon saw very little of the fish-man as he finally got the chance to inhabit a more natural setting than his usual tanks.

As a rule, Trevor Broom explored the beach and ocean in the late afternoon. Newly developed sunscreens not withstanding, he still found himself too sensitive to the sun to venture outdoors too close to noon. As much as he had been enjoying exploring the water with Hellboy, it was not long before he could definitely hear his seven-foot-tall adopted son’s stomach grumbling.

Looking at the waterproof watch he wore on his left wrist, he noted that the time was now just after five in the afternoon. “Well, Son, this has been very pleasant; but now I should go back to my cabin, clean up, and look into preparing supper.” Hellboy assisted him out of the water and retrieved his cane from where it had been left near a chair and large beach umbrella.

Kate felt a little sorry that Trevor Broom insisted on doing all of the cooking. However, he made it clear that planning and preparing meals was something he regretted not having the time to do after becoming director of the BPRD.

And Kate was more than pleasantly surprised to find that not only was he an excellent cook, he also somehow managed to accommodate Hellboy’s less sophisticated palate as well. He, himself, was just pleased that his cabin included such a well-stocked kitchen.

Watching with a smile as Trevor Broom limped toward his cabin, Hellboy felt deeply thankful for what Walter had arranged. After seeing Broom was safely on his way, he again swam out to the location where Kate was still treading water; noting that the surf had become a lot calmer.

This time when Hellboy came near, Kate allowed him to grab her, throw her into the next wave that rolled in, and then pull her into his arms for a long, slow kiss. “Let’s go get cleaned up,” Hellboy said after they both had caught their breaths, “Pop’s going to have dinner ready pretty soon and I’ve really worked up an enormous appetite today.”

Kate laughed as they climbed out of the surf, “For once, I think I’m almost just as hungry as you are. Sun and surf always seem to leave a bottomless pit in place of my stomach.”

While Hellboy and Kate showered and dressed, Trevor Broom had prepared an Asian-style salad with chicken, Mandarin oranges, and sesame-ginger dressing. This was certainly not to Hellboy’s taste, who ate his way through an enormous portion of tacos, French-fries, and grilled-cheese sandwiches. Kate and Broom drank Jamaican ginger ale, while Hellboy drank several bottles of his favorite beer.

After they finished eating, the topic of dessert came up. Hellboy shook his head. “I’ve got something special for later; just for you and me,” he said, with a wink at Kate, “Right now, I’m ready for a nap.” He stood up from the table and held out his left hand, “Care to join me, Katie?”

Hand-in-hand, Hellboy and Kate departed for their own cabin and napped together; enjoying, as did Trevor Broom, the comfort of a centrally installed air conditioning system. Preparing an assortment of Abe’s favorite foods, Broom stored it in his refrigerator in case the fish-man returned later that night; he then retired for the rest of the evening, more than exhausted by his afternoon in the sun.

Yet, as tired as he was, he had trouble falling asleep. Like Kate, he had also noticed the change in Hellboy’s appearance over the last several days. Once again, he despised himself for far too often allowing the government to dictate how Hellboy was to be handled. He had always been more than aware how much Hellboy’s overly confined life was affecting him, both physically and emotionally.

‘What a difference just a few days in the sun and open air can make,’ he thought, and then smiled; the changes he noticed could be credited to more than just the delightful setting. Even though Broom had been hesitant at first over Hellboy’s sporadic romantic relationship with Kate, he now recognized that this deepening of their long friendship had been beneficial for both of them.

Finding himself once again able to relax, Broom quickly drifted off to sleep, wondering what the ‘something special’ was that Hellboy was planning to share later with Kate.

When Kate woke up, after a longer nap than she had intended, she found herself alone in the bed. Getting up, she lowered the air conditioning considerably. It was nice for the hottest parts of the day; but at that time of year, the evenings could be noticeably cooler. The sun had already begun to set before they started eating dinner and dusk was now far advanced. Kate switched on the lights and, not finding Hellboy there, pulled on jeans and a warmer sweater; wandering outside to look for him.

The just-past-full moon had risen a few hours earlier, making the sands of the beach glow bright silver and the waves sparkle as they washed in. Hellboy came into view, walking along the water’s edge. “Would you care to join me for a stroll?” he said with a little smile; which Kate returned as she drew her right arm through his left.

Together they walked back the direction he had just come from, toward the eastern side of the island. To their left they could make out the dark mass of coconut palms and other trees that almost completely filled the center of Little Ragged Island. They could see why it was called this as they made their silent, but companionable way along the jagged, wandering coastline.

After about ten minutes of walking, they came to a large red beach blanket spread out on the sand; surrounded by large candles in varied-colored plastic buckets. The candles had been lit, a chilled bottle of champagne set in an urn filled with ice, and a collection of dessert cakes placed on a plate.

As Kate and Hellboy sat on the blanket, he reached into a covered basket for plates, cloth napkins, flatware, and champagne glasses—in a setting for two where everything looked like beautiful crystal, but was really clear plastic. “The cakes and champagne were sent by Walt and Mindy,” Hellboy said, as he popped the cork out of the champagne, “but the beach was my idea. I thought it was sorta romantic with this moon and all.”

Kate smiled and kissed him on the cheek. “You’re right, Hellboy; it is romantic and very beautiful. When did you find the time to set it up?”

“You slept longer than I did, Katie, and I found this basket complete with stuff for two in the kitchen. That gave me an idea,” he said, as he pulled her closer for a real kiss. Until this time, Hellboy’s ideal date consisted of a great Charlie Chaplin movie, bottles of some really good beer, and ‘sexy Katie’; just as he once described to the demonic rat he had rescued Mindy and Kate from.

But these last several days had given him a taste of what could be possible for them if his private life wasn’t largely confined to an underground facility. He definitely liked what he was discovering. Understanding that what was taking place on this unique Valentine’s date would most likely never happen to him again, Hellboy was determined to make enough memories that night to last a lifetime.

The moon was much lower in the sky, the tide past low, and it was starting to become just a little brighter in the east, when a very tired and hungry Abe Sapien climbed out of the ocean on to the beach a distance away from the two cabins. His only idea was to make his way as quickly as possible to Trevor Broom’s cabin in search for the food he was sure had been left for him in the refrigerator.

To his surprise, the first thing he encountered was his two closest friends fast asleep; rolled up together in a large red beach blanket. And since they were surrounded not only by the remnants of what they had eaten, but also by all of their clothing, it didn’t take his powerful psychic abilities to figure out what they had been doing before they fell asleep. Squelching a definite twinge of envy that it was not he himself who held Kate in his arms rather than Hellboy, Abe continued on toward his goal.

The sun was just starting to rise as Hellboy gently extricated himself from the blanket, leaving Kate still sleeping. As he pulled his black leather pants back on, he could still hear the girl’s voice that had interrupted his pleasant dreams. “That memory lasted her a lifetime; you let yourself forget.”

“Lizzie,” he mumbled aloud, “Funny, I’ve not thought of her in over a month.”

“Who’s Lizzie?” Kate inquired sleepily, as she sat up still wrapped in the blanket. Hellboy sat down on the sand next to her and gathered her up into his lap, blanket and all, for a lingering kiss.

“Remember that trip I had to make to Chicago right before my birthday last December…”

More to come...

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