Of Eons and Stars Part 017: Charles, Down the Drain
The black Lincoln Continential barrels down the road towards Bolton, the sound of the roaring engine deafening Charles as he glances at an open suitcase with a built-in military-grade laptop in the passenger seat. On the screen, a map and a marker, the map is of the area, the marker is Angelica, and she is right up ahead.
The area seems to be a never-ending road of curves with just more trees past every turn, but this turn is different. As Charles rounds it he sees a blazing fire in the middle of the street, and in the middle, a silhouette. It’s the shape of a woman, but not a woman, a creature, the creature. To the right of the inferno, he sees a group of four young people, but zeros in on only one of the faces. It is Angelica and she looks more terrified than he has ever seen her before. She looks over at him and from her gaze alone he can tell that the thing in the flames has to die.
Straightening out of the turn, Charles pushes the pedal to the floor, the guttural rev of the car bouncing off the trees and echoing through the night. The creature looks at him, but it is too late.
The car hits the creature at 80 miles an hour, the two and a half-ton slab of metal batting it down the road. Charles immediately slams on the breaks, sliding several hundred feet as he watches the bluish corpse’s body bounce down the road for hundreds of more feet, arms flailing limply like a crash test dummy.
Leaving the engine running, Charles gets out of the car, removes his sport jacket, and rolls up his sleeves. He opens the trunk and puts on a black backpack with bandolier straps of shells over his shoulders. He grabs a black tactical shotgun and starts walking towards the group of kids.
“Are you alright?” he asks Angelica walking up to her. She just looks at him. With his free hand, he gently touches the side of her face and asks again, “Angelica, are you alright?”
Angelica falls against his chest, tears running down her face, “Yes. Yes. Thank you. Thank you.”
“Who the fuck is this guy?” Brad asks, still looking at the road, down the trajectory the creature’s body was thrown, eyes focused on the crumpled corpse illuminated by the Lincoln’s headlights.
Angelica turns her face from buried in Charles’s chest to the side, looking at Brad. “It’s Charles, my Dad’s husband, my stepfather.”
Brad looks at Charles, having to cock his head up to make eye contact with him. “Well, Gay-Rambo, I have never been so happy to meet a friend’s fucking parent in my whole fucking life.”
Charles raises his eyebrows and smirks at the kid, but quickly switches to a look of confusion as he feels the hairs on his arms and neck stand on end.
The cutting metallic sound cuts through the night air again, echoing through the forest as the headlights on the Lincoln go out.
“What was that?” Charles asks quietly, still hugging Angelica close.
“It’s like an EMP or something, it turns out all the lights and electric shit.” Brad answers. “It’s been happening all night and it must be coming from, that, that thing.” Brad points down the street to the silhouette of the crumpled corpse in the starlight.
Charles gently pushes Angelica away and drops to his knees. He sets down the shotgun and pulls several flashlights from the backpack. He hands the first one to Angelica, then one to Brad, and turns the third on and clicks it onto the side of the shotgun. Finally, he pulls a Beretta pistol from the bag, checks that it’s loaded and that the safety is off, then hands it to Angelica.
The group points the three flashlights in the direction of the creature, looking on in silence. With the shotgun aimed at the corpse, Charles hears a crack like the breaking of bones. The heap of flesh rolls onto its hands and knees. It doesn’t have the shape of a body, more like a bag of skin with bones inside hanging over the extended limbs. With another crack, Charles can see that slowly but surely the body it putting itself back together.
“I don’t think this is over,” Charles says to the kids, eyes still focused on the de-mangling in front of him.
“Shit,” Carter and Tiffany say in unison.
“What are we going to do, Charles?” Angelica asks, her eyes wild in fear and exhaustion.
“We keep moving,” he says to the group pointing in the opposite direction of the creatures cracking bones.
“Fuuuuuck,” Brad moans, “more running.”
“Let’s go,” Charles orders as the group starts moving quickly back in the direction Charles initially came from.
“There’s nothing out there. Where are we going?” Carter asks, attempting to sound reliable and in control, but his fear wobbling through.
“The only thing we are doing is creating distance, burning time. John and Harry should be here soon.”
“Dad and Harry?” Angelica asks.
“Yes,” Charles replies, “and when Harry gets here, he’ll take over.”
“So your car and your guns cant stop that freak, but this Harry can?” Brad questions.
“Let’s hope so,” Charles answers.
As they move behind them they hear a chirping noise and then some kind of screech. Charles looks back and sees the reconstituted naked figure of the creature moving towards them.
“Keep moving,” he shouts, but then sticks his arm out straight saying, “Do you hear that?”
They stop and listen. Quiet at first, then, music. Blues music?
A black delivery truck slowing comes up the road toward them, music coming from the cab. The truck stops next to them.
In the driver’s seat is an old man in a newsboy, smoking a cigarette.
“This the place, Charles?” The man asks.
“Yes, Buster, you found us,” Charles replies.
The old man slaps the side of the delivery truck and yells, “Yo! Harry! We’re here!”
The back door of the truck slides up as Harry steps out followed by Thelonious. Harry is shirtless and shoeless, wearing only jeans, his black rune tattoos in stark contrast to his skin. Behind him, Thelonious in his robes, looking down and praying over a bowl of water. The pair walk up to Charles and the kids next to Buster in the cab.
Buster points at the blue corpse walking toward them and says, “Apparently, it’s that one.”
“Oh really?” Harry responds sarcastically.
The blue corpse of Biscuit starts running at them and, in kind, Harry charges the creature.