21. Cleaning Up the Mess

There was another dream that night. Id sat on the clock tower of an old cathedral downtown. His arms were wrapped around the ten foot high medieval cross that rose up from the spire. His trench coat was sprawled and dancing before him in the cold air, seeming to have a life of its own. It was an unusually frigid night for that time of year, yet the Knight Suit kept him warm for the most part. Rain showered down on an angle due to the winds as thunder boomed and tumbled across the distant black sky. Id being a completely different persona, his body was still aching from the previous night, from his last encounter. Yet he fought back the pain like a soldier. He had plans this night. He was to track down the Monstrosity that he encountered last night and finish where they left off. He had a score to settle. As for me waking up in a damn swimming pool, Id made no apologies.

Id had no clue how or where to find him, and he was unable to locate him clairvoyantly. Nevertheless, he tried. Once again silencing his thoughts he became aware to the countless spirits that surrounded him. The outside world vanished and it was just him; the sound of traffic and rain ceased. And he remained in that trance until he received his beacon.

Nothing.

No voices arose from the silence this time to point him in the right direction. If he was going to find this thing, he would have to do so by his own sense and cunning. He decided to retrace his steps, and work with the knowledge that he already had. So far the creature had not been seen by the public and seemed to remain in or near dark areas. Id reasoned that the first place he should search for it would be the city alleyways. These caverns of Lucicrescens were hidden, dark, and almost forbidden, and would provide the perfect environment for this enigmatic beast. The Ghost leapt off the church spire seconds before it was struck by a white bolt of lightning. By now he had learnt how to navigate through much of the alleyways networks, a task that few would dare take upon themselves. However, many scattered regions were still unknown to him, and these would be the places where he would look.

He hopped on to a maglev heading northbound before coming to a dense residential area choked with towering apartment buildings and condos just north of South Lucicrescens. Ascending one of these buildings was no problem as the maglev line ran high enough for the Ghost to jump to the roofs. From a rooftop he gazed down into the dark abyss that awaited him. Wondering if he could beat the raindrops to the bottom, he dove off the roof and plummeted into the dismal blackness. He seemed to fall forever as his descent gained speed. And as he fell he looked up and saw a single raindrop falling at the same velocity. It seemed motionless, frozen in time. Phasing into the phantom state, he became light than air, eased his fall, and lost sight of the raindrop. Upon landing, he materialized to find that section of the alley flooded in a pool that came up to his ankles as countless ripples danced around his feet from the rain.

Somewhere in the alleyways, Lawrence Howard was awakened by the thunder. He pulled the wool blanket tighter around his body. The ledge above him did little to shelter him from the rain as the newspaper beneath him was already soaked. “I can’t sleep,” he whispered to himself.  He sat up and grabbed a bottle of Samuel Adams. He held it to his lips only to find that it was empty. “Who the fuck drank my booze!” he cried out. He stood up and wobbled out into the rain. His eyes were used to the dark so he had no trouble seeing. He walked through the alley and came to an abandoned garage that was serving as a shelter to several other homeless men. Some of them were gathered around a bonfire while an addict scribbled on a wall and a crack whore sat in a corner.

“Well look who it is,” said a greasy looking character from the bonfire. “Mr. Sunshine himself.”

Lawrence immediately sprang forward and grabbed the man by his collar. “You drank my booze for the last time you piece of trash!” He threw the man to the ground.

The others stood by and watched as the crack whore in the corner said, “These two idiots are at it again. It’s the same shit every night.” Lawrence continued to go to work on the poor man when finally the others stepped in and pulled him off.

“Whoa, easy there fella’,” said a large brute holding him back. “That’s enough for tonight. I think he’s learnt his lesson.” Lawrence shrugged the brute off and stormed out.

When the rain had settled down some time later, the same man who Lawrence had attacked caught up with him down the alley. “What do you want,” spat Lawrence, wrapping his long coat tighter around himself.

“You’re getting soft, my friend,” the man said. “I was just about to retaliate.”

Suddenly a third voice spoke out from the darkness. “From the looks of it, you were getting your ass kicked.” The unexpected guest startled the two men.

“Who said that?” said the man, still sore from his beating.

“Up here,” answered the disembodied voice. The two men looked up to see a shadowy, crouching man perfectly balanced on an air conditioning unit some twenty feet up. “Say, you guys haven’t seen anything strange around here lately have you?”

“Besides you,” said Lawrence, “Yeah.”

“Like what?” asked the Ghost.

“All kinds of things,” said the greasy looking one. “People have been talkin’ about some monster that’s been stompin’ around these parts. Say it can tear a truck in two. At first I thought it was just the shit talk of junkies. I didn’t believe it until I saw it myself.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ll show you.” The two men then strolled down the alley through a series of cuts and turns. Id followed like a shadow. They came to a small, unlit street that seemed to have been forgotten by the outside world. They approached two large hunks of metal near the corner. Id couldn’t discern what they were at first, but as he looked closer he realized what they were. This vagrant was telling the truth. The two hunks of metal were once a whole pickup truck, now ripped in half and melted into a couple of fused heaps.

“Behold!” Lawrence mused as he turned to face Id but saw that he wasn’t there. “Where’d he go?”

“Up here,” came a whisper from above. The two men once again looked up to see the Ghost perched atop a broken lamp post.

“Oh, there you are,” said Lawrence.

“That’s it all right,” said Id. “That’s what I’m looking for. I’ve seen what it can do. I’ve seen it do this.”

“But wait,” said Lawrence. “It gets better. You haven’t seen what’s inside.” Id’s bright red eyes narrowed with suspicion. Normally in aura state Id can see through certain types of metal, but he couldn’t see through this kind, or at least because of what had been done to it. He leapt to the ground and walked over to the two heaps, the pair of hobos were slightly startled. He stepped up to what used to be the front seat and peeked inside through what used to be a window. The interior was now a twisted cave of metal and carbon, but he was surprised to see that a body was still inside. Id looked to see if there was still a door that could be opened or even ripped off, but found that it no longer existed. He decided to retrieve the body through this make shift window. Using some effort, he rented and twisted the steel frame to create an opening large enough to pull out the corpse. The two men watched as he tore open the pile of junk, pulled out the carcass, and gently laid it on the ground.

“How long has this been here?” asked Id

With a gulp, the beaten man said, “A few weeks probably. I’m not too sure.” Id examined the body visually and found it strange that it wasn’t even rotting. It was perfectly preserved, as if mummified. It even had a few distinctive features indicating that it had been a white male.

“What happened to him?” inquired the Ghost.

“How the hell should I know,” answered Lawrence, rubbing his facial hair, rough like sandpaper. “He could have been another junky who overdosed on some new drug. The synthetic chemicals in his circulatory system may have kept his body from decomposing.”

“Pretty fancy words there, boy,” said the greasy, beaten hobo. “Were you a doctor or somethin’?”

“Yeah. You might say that,” replied Lawrence bitterly. Id sensed that there was some truth behind that response, but didn’t bother to venture into how a doctor could end up here.

“I don’t think so,” said Id. “Whatever killed this man is the same thing that tore this truck in two.”

“Then that means you got a predator on the loose, my friend,” said Lawrence.

“Why do you say that?”

“Because we found a few more of these poor suckers lyin’ around, all turned to mummies. Since then we’ve been afraid to go out, even to buy smokes, out of fear we might end up like this guy right here.”

“Have you seen it,” asked Id.

“I think I caught a glimpse of it once,” answered Lawrence. “But I was piss drunk and just about ready to pass out. I don’t know what I saw. But it was huge, and pretty mean lookin’. You said you saw it?”

“Yes. Just last night near Action Square.”

“Wow, way up there? That thing can move,” said the greasy character. “Well as long as it’s all the way over there and I’m all the way over here, I ain’t got shit to worry about.”

“Funny you should say that,” said the Ghost.

“Why’s that?” said the man.

“Because if this thing could easily travel the seven and a half miles from here to Action Square, I’m certain it could just as easily travel back.”

“Heh, whatever you say,” shrugged the greasy man, looking a bit uneasy.

“And also,” continued the Ghost, “it seems that when I encounter that thing or whenever it’s near, I always get the same raw feeling. And you know what?”

“What?”

“I’m having it right now.”

Suddenly, a howling cry came shrieking through the alley like a banshee. The two men jumped in response. Then out of nowhere a body came flying out of the darkness and landed right in front of them. It had the same mummified appearance, ashen complexion, and skin like leather. Loud resonating footsteps then came crushing its way down the alley. The footsteps became louder as they began to stomp in unison with the heartbeats of the two frightened men. Then finally, like something out of a horror movie, the Monstrosity appeared out from the blackness, dragging another victim behind it. However this one was still alive, barely. The Monstrosity held the victim aloft, and with its right hand it drove its clawed fingers straight into the man’s spine and began sucking the life out of the helpless victim. Id watched as the poor man’s pink skin became a pale white leather and his limp body dropped to the ground like a husk. “It feeds on them,” discovered Id. Immediately he turned to the two men by his side. “Run!” he commanded. They were like statues. “RUN!” he repeated. The vagrants broke out of their shell shock and sped off into the alleys like a couple of rats.

Id turned his attention back to the Monstrosity. It stood there ominously and silently until it whispered, “GHOST EYE…”

That name, Id thought to himself, Ghost Eye. That’s from Anthony’s dream! This is the same thing that Anthony saw in his dream, the same thing that destroyed the Misty Canyon!

Remembering Jonathan, the Ghost stood his ground. Then suddenly, the creature lunged at him but grabbed nothing but air as Id instantly shifted to phantom state. Just as the beast spun around Id materialized and delivered a devastating upper cut to the Monstrosity’s chin, nearly knocking it off its feet. Id was ready for it now, as there was a new strength in him, a new vigour and confidence. The Monstrosity took a swing at him only to be blocked as Id gave it a potent blow to the chest, knocking the wind right out of it. Id then pulled out the extendible quarter staff from the suit and proceeded to batter the Goliath. He wielded it delivering striking blows that seemed to send shock waves through the air. But as the creature stumbled back it fired out its pair of metal tentacles to electrify the Ghost to the ground. But Id swiftly caught the two tentacles with his hand and with a powerful thrust he pulled the Monstrosity towards him, giving the beast an elbow to the face.

The two warriors fought each other intensely, tearing apart that back alley. There were moments where the Monstrosity gained the upper hand and man handle Id as it did the night before. But for the duration of the battle, the Ghost was in control, despite his body still being in pain. With much effort Id managed to bring the creature to the ground with a final blow to the jaw. He mounted it and thought, I don’t know if this thing breathes or not, but I’m going to see if I could choke the life out of it! He wrapped his hands around the neck that was like a sewer pipe and proceeded to squeeze it with ten times the strength he used when he crushed Justin Thomas’ hand. From there he was able to see the face of the beast for the first time. It had Nubian features that seemed to be carved out of stone, and its skin seemed to be of the same substance to that of the Knight Suit, only it had a bronze complexion with a brass sheen to it. Id was able to peer deep into the demon’s black eyes that seemed sculpted out of torment and anger. It was then when he made a horrifying discovery. Id saw that deep within those eyes laid the remnants of a soul. A soul that had nearly been destroyed but couldn’t. Something was keeping that soul alive, keeping it from being extinguished. And as Id continued to gaze he realized what it was. It was something familiar. Or someone familiar. A name flew past his thoughts but he dared not think of it. The revelation had momentarily loosened his grip around its neck.

“GHOST EYE,” the creature whispered once more.

“What are you?” Id whispered back. But before he could get an answer, the demon grabbed Id’s torso and flung him off. The Ghost hit a wall hard and watched as the beast crawled back to its feet and leapt out of sight, high into the night sky. “Where do you think you’re running off to?” Id asked, and he flew up after it. He landed twenty-three stories up to meet the Monstrosity. The creature posted a hasty retreat across the rooftop as Id gave chase. He halted, charged up his hands like a Tesla coil, and released two full force arcs of lightning to the Monstrosity’s legs. The thing froze in a series of spasms and went crashing to the ground. The Ghost kicked the creature onto its back, stood over it, and held his staff like a spare at the demon’s throat. Now Id possessed the strength to drive that staff with enough force to impale it in the Monstrosity’s neck. But for some cosmic reason he stayed his hand. “Say something,” the Ghost demanded of it. “Say something…”

At last the demon spoke. “I KNOW YOUR FACE.” Its voice was a whisper yet it had a baritone resonance that shook the Ghost’s spine. Then it spoke once more. “YOUR BROTHER DID NOT DIE IN VAIN. AND I KNOW THAT YOU ARE SEARCHING FOR SOMETHING; WE BOTH ARE…”

It then uttered something intangible but the Ghost was unable to understand it. Nevertheless, those words shook the ground beneath him. He nearly dropped his staff. He was transfixed on that single moment, blocking out the rest of the world. The demon looked him in the eye with a power that made him weak. Indeed this thing knew who I was, but how much did he know? It knew what it did that morning in the Misty Canyon. It knew I was there. It knew it killed my brother. What was this thing? And what was it searching for?

With this new found knowledge Id decided to rephrase the question. “Who were you?”

Silence.

Then out of nowhere a small canister fell from the sky and landed right by Id and the demon. It had a chrome appearance with a red blinking light. Instantly Id knew that this couldn’t be anything good. And suddenly the canister exploded in a powerful blast of smoke, knocking Id off of the Monstrosity. The smoke created a disorienting haze that blinded the Ghost as he stood up. He could hear a soft humming sound coming from somewhere but he couldn’t tell what it was. And as the smoke gradually cleared, he was greeted by two helicopters hovering in the air. They seemed to be an advanced form of the RAH-66 Comanche, and one of them was shining a bright white spotlight on the Ghost, his coat blowing in the wind from the rotor blades. From where he stood, Id could hear the pilots communicating through their com-links.

“I have a visual. Do you copy?” said one of them.

“Copy that,” said the other.

“Scanners confirm the target is wearing the Knight Suit. Repeat, the target is wearing the Knight Suit. Over…”

“Do you have a visual on the Archangel?”

“That’s a negative.”

A negative? Id thought. He looked over to where the Monstrosity had lain and saw that it was gone. As he looked off into the distance he could clearly see it raging its way across the rooftops.

“Permission to open fire, sir?” continued a pilot.

“Permission granted. Remember to use non-lethal weapons only. We have orders to bring both the suit and the Archangel back in one piece.”

“Roger…”

Instinctively, the Ghost spun out of the way from a hail of what seemed to be electrically charged pellets that came flying out of the choppers nose like a rail gun. Id immediately dashed after the Monstrosity, hopping the gap between the two buildings. And then summoning the bulk of his energies, he concentrated it and performed a tremendous leap into the air that sent him soaring five blocks to catch up with the demon. The Comanche helicopters gave chase as the pilots singled to the rest of their squad.

The Ghost landed a few yards behind the Monstrosity with a tuck and role before he paused to catch his breath. The leap had drained him greatly and he knew he wouldn’t be able to make a jump that large for a while. Putting that aside he started after the Monstrosity with the helicopters advancing on him. The demon was in sight and it was moving at incredible speed, Id had trouble keeping up with it. The creature plowed its way through rooftop obstacles as if they were nothing. The Ghost did his best to dodge through and hop over the debris that came flying at him. The choppers were not only close on his tail and gaining, but soon two other helicopters showed up. They fired a continuous stream of rounds at him but failed to hit the shadowy target. Finally, one lucky shot nipped him in the shoulder. Instantly, his whole left arm went numb and became a dead wait. At that moment Id realized what those pellets were. Fortunately for him he was only hit by one and could already feel the sensation returning to his arm. But he knew that if he were hit by a dozen of those things all at once, he would be at their mercy. Who are these people, Id wondered. He continued to chase after the Monstrosity with the Comanches not far behind. He had to keep up with this mechanized gorilla while at the same time avoid being hit with those pellets that were tearing up the rooftops.

Soon the beast led him to a wide busy street. With a hop from the roof, the Monstrosity leapt off of a neon sign at the side of the building, ripping it off from its foundation and sending it crashing down towards the sidewalk below. Id screeched to a stop as he saw this, and noticed a pedestrian directly below, unaware of the plummeting danger above. With the Comanches still hot on his ass, the Monstrosity getting away, and the hapless woman below engaged in her cell phone conversation, the Ghost made a split second decision. He dove over the edge and as he plunged towards the ground, he shifted into phantom state. In a single swoop he grabbed the lady and shifted her too into phantom state, then swiftly carried her to safety like a gust of wind, milliseconds before the neon sign smashed on to the pavement where she stood. Moments later, the lady materialized at the next block. She stood there in a state of shock with her cell phone still by her ear.

Id returned to his physical form as he landed on the roof across the street. He saw that the Comanches had lost him and were scouring the rooftops with their spot lights and infrareds. What just happened was a blessing in disguise, but by this point the Monstrosity would have been long gone. His body was still aching, he had spent much of his energy fighting the beast and evading those four choppers, and the whole excursion had brought him almost halfway across town. Nevertheless, he had learnt much about the creature in terms of how it fought. But something still ate at him from the inside. The Monstrosity had spoken to him, and what it said stuck out like a crooked nail. Had it meant what it said, if it was even aware of what it said? Was there more to that thing than the abomination that it appeared to be? Bains had said that it remembered fragments of its past, that’s why it escaped in the first place.

Its past. That meant that it was once human, and that really unsettled Id.

And the fact remained that this thing was still a threat to the public while at large. Seeing what it did to those people back in the alley, seeing it suck those people dead made Id realize that this thing was even more dangerous than he had imagined. Not only did this demon have the potential to level entire city blocks, but it used human beings as some form of sustenance. Id had to get to it.

However, there was still the case of those four Comanche helicopters. What exactly did they want and who had sent them? No doubt they were looking for the suit that Id now wore, and that rampaging thing he was chasing. Id figured that whoever those people were, or whoever sent them had all the answers. So before he called it a night, Id decided he had one more stop to make.

The helicopters eventually gave up their search and were about to leave. As one of them obliviously passed over the Ghost’s head, he made a calculated vertical jump that sent him high into the air allowing him to meet the chopper and land comfortably on its tail. Id braced himself low on the cold, black, radar absorbent steel of the aircraft as it was on its way to his next destination.

Eventually the four Comanches landed on a small landing strip just outside the city. A single black Mercedes sat near by with the engine off. The captain of the team stepped off his helicopter and ran over to the waiting vehicle. The Ghost slipped off the tail and hid behind the chopper. The back seat window of the Mercedes slid down to reveal a young woman’s face with glasses. Over the sound of the spinning rotor blades, the Ghost queued in to listen to the conversation.

“Did you find what we asked for?” the young woman asked the captain.

“I’m afraid not, ma’am,” answered the captain. “The mission proved more difficult than we anticipated.”

“Explain.”

“Well, we had trouble keeping track of the Archangel itself as it was difficult to follow, and the Knight Suit… Well, it just disappeared.”

“Disappeared?”

“Affirmative.”

The young lady took off her glasses, rubbed the corners of her eyes and said, “No, no, things don’t just disappear. Things either get lost or stolen. You were given a specific task to complete within a certain amount of time, and now you’ve come back telling me fairy tales of people disappearing without a trace. The Archangel grows more dangerous with each passing day, and thanks to you we’ve given it more time to evolve and become an even greater threat. Now I could sit here in this comfortable leather seat and grill you all night on how you and your men failed, but that’s not going to get us anywhere now is it?”

“No, ma’am,” answered the captain.

“I didn’t think so. But anyways all is not lost. If handled properly this might work out for me. Tell you what: leave the Archangel for now, all you have to worry about is getting me the Knight Suit.”

“But ma’am,” said the captain, “we were given direct orders from Bains to make the Archangel our number one priority.”

“Ah yes, Bains,” sighed the young lady. “Well, answer me this. I’m going to be as forth coming as possible. Knowing what that creature is and what it already knows, who would it specifically want to kill?”

The captain took a moment to ponder the question. “Bains,” he finally said.

“That’s right,” she continued. “So with that thing on the lose, where do you suppose its heading right now?”

“My God. We have to warn him immediately!”

But before the captain hurried back to his chopper, the young woman gestured for him to stay put. “Don’t worry about Bains right now. Let’s just say that whatever happens happens.”

The captain knew what the young lady was implying. “You can’t possibly mean–”

“Yes, I do,” she interrupted. “That thing will kill Edward Bains. And I don’t intend on preventing that from happening. You may interpret that anyway you like. Now are we going to have a problem with that?”

The captain hesitated. “No, ma’am.”

“Good.”

“Excuse me, but wouldn’t Bains have left the city by now, maybe even the state. He’s probably on the other side of the country at this point.”

“I wouldn’t count on that. Bains is way too stubborn to go into hiding. The delusional old man thinks he’s invincible. I’d wager the man is still within the state limits. I wouldn’t be surprised if he even came back to Lucicrescens.”

“What about you, ma’am?” continued the captain. “Wouldn’t you be a potential target as well?”

“I’ve already taken that into consideration,” she answered. “The chances of me being on the subject’s hit list are unlikely, as my involvement in the Genesis Program was rather subtle. Nevertheless, I’m not as foolish as Bains. I have a chopper waiting at Sky Towers prepared to take me to my ranch in Texas. I’ll be well out of harms reach. Now all this will strictly remain between you and me, right?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“That’s a good boy. Now take your helicopters and your little toys and do what needs to be done. And until the Archangel is back in its fish tank and the head of the dead man who stole the Knight Suit is on my desk, I don’t even want to see you.” The window then slid back up and the engine roared to life shortly after. The captain stood there, seemingly contemplating what he was just told as the car drove off. But then again, he was probably trained not to asked questions.

Id heard the entire discussion. Whoever that woman was she wanted the Monstrosity to seal Bains’ fate. If Id planned on getting to the bottom of this he couldn’t allow that to happen. As the chopper ascended to continue its hunt, the Ghost straddled its tail once again. He would have to find Bains before the creature finds him first.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: