Author’s note and disclaimer: This was written for a challenge to write a fan story based on the theme “What is it?” This is mainly based on a scene from the prologue to the movie Hellboy. Action and dialogue written from memory, the internal thoughts of the characters are my contribution to the retelling of this scene. Even though based on the movie, a little of this comes from a similar scene in the original comics. Characters, both named and implied, are not my own. They belong to Mike Mignola and Dark Horse Press for the original comics; and Guillermo del Toro and Sony/Revolution Studios for the film adaptation.

What Is It? A Hellboy Tale

The ruins of an abandoned monastery on an island off the coast of Scotland
December 23, 1944

“What is that? An ape?” growled Sergeant George Whitman, still fingering his lowered pistol.

“It’s got a big stone in its hand!” shouted another soldier’s voice.

Shaking his head, Trevor Broom attempted to peer up closer at the bright red, toddler-sized creature perched on the ledge above. “I think that is its hand,” he said in a bemused tone; so concentrated on this weird creature he almost completely forgot the agonizing pain of his injured leg. He could just make out eyes—tiny yellow eyes, round and innocent looking.

As he moved closer, the creature screeched and lashed out with that enormous stone appendage. Surrounded by the echoing sounds of pistols being cocked, Trevor Broom quickly raised a hand.

“No! Wait!” Pulling a Baby Ruth candy bar out of a pocket of his overcoat, he tore the wrapper off; then pretended to take a bite before slowly proffering the chocolate toward the now curious infant.

Teasing the creature closer to the edge of the ledge, Trevor Broom found himself unable to stop from smiling up at it; regardless of its odd appearance there was just something he found so endearing in the red-skinned, be-horned infant reaching out toward the candy bar with its tiny left hand.

Having over-estimated the reach of the infant creature’s larger right hand, Trevor Broom moved back; startled when that huge hand with its four stone appendages snatched the candy bar from his fingers.

Smiling at the crunching and smacking noises coming from above, Broom dug though his pockets, produced another Baby Ruth bar, and unwrapped it. Turning toward the more than flabbergasted group of soldiers surrounding him, he whispered, “A blanket; someone give me a blanket.”

A thankfully clean, dry blanket was produced from a military first-aid kit and passed to him.

Holding the blanket out and juggling the open candy bar, Broom again carefully attempted to coax the creature down from the ledge; this time mindful of the long reach of that enormous stone hand.

“Come on, jump down; it’s safe,” he gently cajoled, smiling; hoping that his calm tone would reassure the creature, even if it did not understand his words. “Jump down,” he said, a little more insistently.

He wasn’t quite sure if the odd-looking infant had, indeed, jumped down; or if it had over-balanced trying to reach the second Baby Ruth bar. All he knew was that his arms were suddenly full of a squirming, giggling scarlet-red creature with a long tail, tiny horns, and cloven hooves instead of feet.

Managing to make sure that the creature’s huge right hand was immobilized, Trevor Broom carefully moved the blanket aside to look closer at what he held.

“It’s a boy!” Some not completely identifiable emotion caused Broom’s voice to crack as he spoke. Many there later swore that he almost sounded more like a proud father than a young British scientist of the paranormal who worked for President Roosevelt in conjunction with the FBI and the U.S. Army.

“Hellboy,” Trevor Broom smiled down at the infant in his arms as he spoke, unintentionally saddling his ‘boy’ with a rather odd, but unmistakably apt name.

Thanks for reading. All feedback welcome, Beth Palladino

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