Doug fights through a room full of weirdness.
The inevitable chop never crashed hell upon my outstretched hand and head. Instead the ax fell to the ground, right beside me and my dismembered leg, with a quiet thud. Thanks to a well-placed kick by one of my quickly-disappearing spider legs (undoubtedly a reflex action), the ax slipped through the reporter’s fingers without causing further damage. It no sooner fell than Glenn careened into my attacker, pushing him from me. Kip Mooney stumbled away from the freakish-looking man-bird, weaponless, and quickly fled toward the front door of the house. I breathed a pained sigh of relief. Surprisingly, I could feel the pain ebb, as if my changing body were healing the wound faster than it would normally take. For that I was thankful, but a new leg would have been nice too.
“Oh my God,” Glenn gasped. “Your leg! Doug, look what he did to your leg!”
I struggled to my feet. “Help me up, Glenn! He’s going into the house. We have to stop him before he hurts Diana.”
Glenn seemed to go woozy at the sight of my appendage. Seeing it laying there was something I was trying very hard to ignore. “I think I’m going to hurl…” he muttered.
“There’s no time for that now,” I told him. “We have to get inside.” With Glenn’s help, and the limited assistance of my short spider legs, I hobbled and hopped to the front door. We barged in without a second thought and there we saw our man standing at the living room entry with his mouth agape. By this point we were very nearly returned to our human sizes. I took in Glenn’s appearance, noting his skinny, sullen features and dirty blonde hair, as an aside. At that point I noticed what else was going on in the house – what had frozen Mooney in place – and it was trippy.
Tiny, six foot tornadoes of destruction swirled about Diana’s home in various rooms, crossing the hall, tearing up the kitchen, and generally causing havoc. Three alone spun and shimmied through her living room. The maelstrom cut up everything in its path. Bits of broken wood from the coffee table, fabric from the shredded couch; all joined in on the fun. The strange lights were everywhere, swirling into the tornadoes, moving languidly on invisible rivers of air, and swirling into bubbly masses against the ceiling. Greens, reds, golds and blues mixed together to create a creepy sense of holiday cheer in the psychotic Sturgis home. They were like orbs of light or giant dust mites like what you see in old photos. Either way it was nothing I wanted to touch.
Noticing Mooney’s apprehension to move, his shock at the strange sight that greeted him upon entering, I took the advantage. It was my turn to catch the space cadet off guard. With a solid leaping punch to the jaw, the newspaper reporter crumpled into an unconscious ball on the floor. I barely managed to land on my feet after delivering the blow, but ManQuail, nearly all man now, was there to catch me. I couldn’t care less about Mooney after that. If one of these weird tornadoes were to chop into him while he lay there sleeping, good riddance.
I started scanning the room, looking for Diana or one of the saints, or even the wormy witch, but I saw no one. We’d have to search the house, which wouldn’t be easy considering I could barely walk, but Glenn and I managed together. With one arm over his shoulder, we hobbled as one into the kitchen, avoiding the razor sharp tornadoes, and there found the rest of the party.
The wormy witch stood in the center of the room, surrounded by an intense army of glowing globs of light, not to mention a half dozen of the tornadoes. She faced us, her black eyes open and rotted mouth agape. Her hair danced around her hair like a million octopus tentacles. Worms flew from her body into the swirling mass of debris surrounding her. What was odd (as if nothing else were) was that she seemed to made of stone. Save for her hair and the worms, nothing else about her moved. Standing at either end of the kitchen were the two saints. Dymphna and Kolbe were both rooted to the spot, their lips muttering words I couldn’t make out. They were likely praying. I realized pretty quickly this was a battle I couldn’t take part in.
ManQuail leaned in to shout in my ear. “Doug, over there!” He pointed to the hallway. There, with her feet in the kitchen and the rest near a swirling tornado of energy, lay Diana.
I made a break for her and ignored the odd battle in front of me. The tornado edged dangerously close to her head. Had Glenn and I not yanked her away, it would have sliced into scalp. She stirred slightly as we pulled her into the living room, dodging tornadoes as we went along. Orbs of light bounced against us as we moved through the maelstrom. They tingled against my skin, but caused no further damage that I could tell. Diana had been knocked unconscious by debris thrown from the tornado, not the globs of light, but the same couldn’t be said for the wormy witch. The ghost of old Jacki Sturgis acted like a magnet to the orbs. They congregated over her body, something that didn’t seem to go over to well in her book. She started shrieking as the number of colored orbs grew.
Luckily for us, the tornadoes started to recede at about the same time. Within seconds there were only a few left in the kitchen and none from my vantage point in the living room.
I sat down on the floor next to Diana and placed her head in my lap, both to prop her up a bit and to check her pulse. She seemed to be okay, only sleeping and missing all the excitement. Glenn, meanwhile, checked in on the still knocked-out reporter. Besides being knocked out, he didn’t look any worse for wear. While the storm died down, the wormy witch’s screams intensified. I could barely see her under the orbs of light. Then, almost as soon as it began, it stopped dead. It was if the witch never existed. As she vanished into thin air, so too did the orbs of light. We were all alone in a dark house full of unconscious people and carnage, but the battle seemed to be over.
Dymphna and Kolbe strolled out of the kitchen, looking a little tired perhaps, but otherwise the same as they always looked – one like a rather grumpy, balding older man and the other a young girl who looked like she didn’t want to be there, basically like most teenagers. They stopped at my feet and looked down at me. Kolbe shook his head when he saw what was left of my leg.
“That’s a shame,” he said. “It looks like you’ve lost part of your leg. I hope you don’t expect us to help you with a new one.”
“It would be nice.”
“There’s nothing we can do for that I’m afraid. Even if we did, we’re out of juice. Getting this curse lifted, resting the spirit of Jacki Sturgis, took nearly everything we had.”
“Is she gone? Is it over?” Glenn asked.
Dymphna nodded her head and mumbled a reply. “Thanks to you two, and our efforts, all has been set right. Her soul is at rest, but it was not easy to get her there.”
Glenn smiled. “It’s like I always say, I love it when a plan comes together.”
Kolbe motioned to the door. “We’d better be off. I’ll check in later, Doug. You better get that leg looked at by a doctor.”
“I was really hoping you could use some Catholic magic to grow my leg back, Kolbe.”
“I’ll bet you were,” he said, then closed the door on his way out. I could hear sirens in the distance. It sounded as though they were getting closer, which meant one of Diana’s neighbors had called the cops.
“Good,” Glenn said. “Hopefully the cops will get here soon enough to get rid of this trash. Just seeing him makes me angry.” He kicked his former drug dealer’s foot lightly as if to emphasize his point.
I heard a voice whisper in my lap. “Doug? Is that you?”
I stared down at my beautiful friend, the woman I couldn’t stop thinking about, with two human eyes instead of eight spider ones. “It’s me,” I replied. “Nice to meet you in person, Diana Sturgis.”
She laughed a little. “You’re one handsome man, Doug Lansing.”
MANTULA WILL RETURN