Hellboy: Oddest Jobs Page 11


Kicking, screaming, Liz flew up out of the water and motioned for Roger to drop her back onto Typhon.

A measure of her misplaced fear of Roger lit up like kindling inside her, and it was not rage that dried her and singed even Roger's clay hands as he set her down, but love.

A corona erupted around her and blazed hot enough to make a firebreathing monster scream. Terrible in her solar beauty, Liz Sherman knelt to lay her hands on the titans hide, and let it all out.

Like a thousand years of drought, her unbound fire seared the flesh beneath her feet, in faults and fissures, and returning it to charred stone so violently that boulders broke free and lofted like meteors to burst in the steaming sea.

She walked down Typhon's paralyzed length and stuffed a supernova down its throat. She felt the white-hot plasma race up the shaft of the tentacle to blow out its host of ogling eyes like the windows of a demolished skyscraper.

Hellboy punched his way out of a blazing socket near the penthouse, then somersaulted down the heaving length of the monster to join her. "Yowch!" he yelled. "Way to go, Liz!"

"It's not slowing down!" she shouted over the roar of her own flame. Typhon's hide was a bed of coals, but the monster's frenzied gyrations were, if anything, only more desperate. From a mating dance to a death dance.

"I couldn't find anything like a heart or a brain in it. That things an idiot." Hellboy pounded the glowing red stone like an anvil, bellowing, "You lost, damn it! Cut it out, already!"

The surface of the sea about fifty yards out bulged and broke as the gas from an underwater explosion broke free of the waves. Hellboy pinched his nose. Roger flew through the noxious fog and almost crashed, but Liz's fire gushed out over the water, turning green with the methane-rich upwelling.

It was the unmistakable miasma of a belch, suppressed and festering for millennia. And out of the thick of it, smeared with something fouler than ambergris, came someone who waved to them.

"Abe!" Hellboy's joyous roar cut through the earsplitting spasms of the defiantly undying monster.

Despite Hellboy's warnings, Abe swam toward Typhon's gasping mouth, almost pulled headfirst over its teeth in a swallow of seawater that leaked out its sundered sides in plumes of steam.

Abe caught himself on its lower lip and shouted something down the titans gullet. Hellboy could not understand it, but he thought he recognized the scholarly cadence of Abes ancient Greek.

And just like that, Typhon finally gave up the ghost.

With a shudder and a sigh that was softer and more unsettling than the cacophony of destruction he and Liz had wrought, the heaving monstrosity subsided into its natural petrified state, as whatever mad energy the deluge of blood and wine and magic had awakened in it simply and suddenly went away.

Typhon's stone carcass sank like the Titanic, and would have sucked them down after it, had Roger not snatched each of them clear of the undertow and dropped them beside the emergency raft Omar had left behind, before he ran out of fuel.

Looking at the bobbing hulks of helicopters in the smoking black-red water, Liz lit a cigarette from her watertight pack and smirked, "Best Earth Day ever."

"Be careful," Abe warned. "I'm a bit soiled, and more than a little radioactive."

"Nuts to that," Hellboy replied. Still holding his nose, he pulled Abe into the raft and said, "I'm sorry if I made that harder than it had to be. You give a monster an inch, and they think they're a ruler. What happened to you down there, anyway?"

"I was trapped." Like one dimly awakened from a dream, Abe searched for the right words. "I had ... help getting out."

"Did you cast some kind of spell on Typhon?" Roger asked.

"I didn't cast a spell." Abe smiled, but the warmth of it never reached his icy blue eyes. "I broke one."

"I'm sorry?" Roger, as always, keenly trying to understand.

"I told him that she just didn't love him anymore."

"Awww," Liz said. "That's kind of sad ..."

"Mm-hmm," said Hellboy, and left it at that.

Together, they bobbed on the current for a while, while Omar circled and lowered the ladder. Each sifting their own measure of sunshine and melancholy, in the light and shadow of still-abiding Mother Nature.

Taking her course, once again.

Someday it might end. But not today. Magnificent and terrible, life went on. The waves still waved. The sun still shone. All in all, a very beautiful day. Tomorrow, there might even be another.

* * *

End

"I told her there was no more room in the world for monsters," Abe said. Liz just looked from the begrimed amphibian to the homunculus to the wryly smiling devil with whom she shared the raft. "Yes, there is," she said.

* * *

Danny Boy

Ken Bruen

* * *

The robbery happened so fast, it was like jig time

I was behind the counter, doing my usual mundane boring job when the two guys came roaring in, screaming obscenities and waving sawn-offs though one looked like a pump

They scared the be-jaysus out of everyone which was the whole point

And they had three bags of serious cash packed and ready to roll in, I'd guess, four minutes, we were lying on the floor

Normally, sleepy midwestern towns, we have an old security guard whose toughest task is to stay awake

But recently, a young kid named Jason, due to ship out to Iraq, had been doing the job

He had long black hair, shades, and a whole attitude of gung-ho

He was itching for aggro

He got it

They'd taken his weapon but this was a kid of the movies, carried an ankle piece, he's shown it to me often enough

I didn't like him and he thought I was a nerd

He'd go

"So Danny Boy, ever feel like having a brew or doing some guy stuff?"

The robbers were at the door, the three stashed bags in their arms when Jason got on one knee, no shout of

"Freeze motherfuckers."

Nope

He just started blasting away

The first guy managed to make it out the door, the second guy, did a little dance of dance and I registered the bag of cash fly across the floor and lodge in an alcove, hidden in plain sight almost and the thought came to me

"Dare I?"

Jason had taken off after the other guy and I was on me feet, screaming

"Everybody out, move move."

They did

I had about sixty seconds

I grabbed the bag, vaulted the counter, put it in my locker and then ran out of there like all the other sheep

Cop cars were wailing in from everywhere and the second guy got blasted to hell from about six different directions and miraculously, kept driving and got away

We were all of course interviewed and offered counseling and the manager confirmed the guy had gotten away with three full bags of serious bills

I nearly wet meself

Jason was on a jagged rush and didn't seem to notice the third bag had never left the building

My whole body was shaking

Jason, being congratulated by all, finally got a moment to speak to me, said

"Shitting yourself there buddy ... right?"

The prick

I said

"That was an amazing display."

He'd been basking in praise from all and said

"No biggie, it's what men do."

I bit down on my smile, he might have the glory but me, I had the loot

You'll have gathered I'm not American, I'm working on the accent but it ain't coming in so good, its hard to shed a Mick mindset, ask any Brit, they'll endorse that Bill Clinton is a saint in Ireland, never no mind his little peccadilloes, he's good-looking, that's enough for us, reminds us of John F Kennedy and God bless him, he'd initiated a number of schemes whereby we exchanged personnel, especially in the financial sector.

So the Irish banks sent a batch of us stateside and a bevy of Americans came to

Ireland.

In my branch In Dublin, everyone wanted

New York

Boston

San Francisco

Washington

Who wouldn't

But the powers that be felt it was important we also gain experience of smalltown

America to apply to our minor branches in the less-sophisticated parts of rural Ireland.

Every bastard was praying to God's Mother that they get the plum gigs

My prayers were obviously ignored, I got the sticks and this nowhereville and did I hate it

Take a wild fucking guess

But now, a chance to get free, not only of this shitehole but of banking and all that plain

Joe bollocks, I felt the rush of the freedom beckoning

I was exhilarated, so excited, that I stopped by Joe's, had two boilermakers and Joe said

"On the house after all the ruckus you had today."

Meaning

"Tell us the story for the fourteenth time."

I did

Got out of there, a little unsteady, I wasn't used to drinking in the afternoon or indeed any other time, I was to pun ... steady

I had rented a small house, it was one up, one down as the Brits say

I let myself in, contemplating a warm bath and early night and nearly dropped dead of fright

Sitting in my armchair was a massive red figure, with what looked like horns on his head and a curiously disfigured right hand, as if someone had attached a distorted hammer on it

Boilermakers!

Already in the DTs

I shook my head to dispel the vision, opened my eyes and it was still there but smiling now and it spoke, rich baritone masculine voice

"Danny, hope I didn't give you too much of a scare but believe me, if I'd have approached you on the street, you wouldn't like the attention.

"I'm Hellboy."

I decided that events of the day had temporarily unhinged me and if I just humored it, he'd simply fade away He shook his huge head, said

"My instinct tells me there is going to be serious crap coming down the pike."

I went to the fridge, got some iced tea and asked

"Get you something?"

He laughed, if a cackle blended with a gutted larynx can be called that

"I'm good ... Well, not always, but that's another dimension."

I sat, a hell of a headache building, a real stormtrooper and he said

"That's mild compared to the headache you have coming."

I said

"Go fuck yourself."

He made a sound that might have been a snarl, said "It's to prevent you from doing exactly that to yourself that I'm here." I had a pretty good idea of where this was going, well, then, I thought I did, if I really had known,

I'd have fled, right then and there

He said

"All around you the black forces are swirling, you've given them a tiny window, don't make it a portal."

I said

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

He leaned over, a languid move, all stealth and dark grace, said

"That money already cost one life, the bank is built on the site of an Indian burial ground and the story goes, a shaman blessed it to keep the evil spirits away ... On condition that nothing bad occurred there, even something like stealing money, and the shaman emphasized that if blood was shed on that hallowed ground, then forces would be released that would bring chaos in their wake."

"You're saying it's cursed."

"Bank robber's already suffering thanks to that shaman but we've got it covered ... We can probably prevent it getting out of control, and save your life, if you don't steal the money."

Alas, I choose that moment to look down and saw ... I fucking kid thee not... cloven hooves!

And shuddered, he said

"Shudder now, pay later."

Staring more closely at that deformed right hand, for all the world like a slab of granite that some very bad sculptor had tried to insert fingers into and oh fuck, the things on his head were horns, but as if they'd been sawn down, he stood and then he did a little turn, right there in the middle of my room, and I saw a tail, beneath the red mac he was wearing

He sat back down, the chair creaking under his weight

He asked

"You never heard of me?"

I gave him my banker's smile, all malice and bad intent, said

"Barney the dinosaur is about our speed here."

He seemed genuinely surprised, said

"Guess you don't read Life or People magazines."

"Welcome to Hicksville and dare one ask as to what exactly you hope to accomplish?"

He sighed, sounded more like a bellow, he must have been over seven foot and that massive frame rattled, he said

"I work for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, lately its been quiet so we've been experimenting with pre-recognizance, see if we can avert an event before it happens, your actions are likely to set off some serious murder and mayhem."

What can you say save

"Good luck with that."

He reached in his mac, extracted the largest gun I've ever seen, flung it on the table, asked

"See if you can lift that."

I tried

Couldn't

He picked it up like it was a feather, put it in a massive holster, said

"The security guard, he's the key to chaos and you and he are linked, this is your opportunity to prevent disaster."

I said

"Great story, now if you'll excuse me."

He stood up, his huge presence looming over me, used his other hand to touch those growths on his head, said

"It's not too late, I'll be hanging round, see if I might talk some sense into you, my car is parked out back."

He had a car?

I watched him stride out, get into a red '59 ragtop Cadillac, it had huge fins, and I bet it was hell on gas but I doubt if he'd have fit in anything smaller

He rolled down the window, shouted Cheerio.

Did he have a Brit accent?

I did what any normal person would do who's just had a chat with Hellboy, I had another drink, okay, drinks but who's counting eh?

As I finally got into bed, I began to plan what I'd do with the money, if it meant having the odd red devil-ed hallucination, cheap at the price Amazing the lies that booze will tell you

I didn't touch the money for another four days, the excitement was finally easing down and people were beginning to talk of other stuff, like the Red Sox and Britney Spears, you know, bank stuff.

Jason had a new swagger in his strut, he'd been unbearable before, now he was Dirty Harry in a cheap security uniform. Was it my imagination or was he watching me a lot? I kept my head down and did what I do best

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