Chapter 7: THE RECKONING
I looked at the panel Mama Midnight gave me and focused my mind on it. It began to glow and then reveal the interior of the penthouse. I felt heartsick when I saw what I saw. Julie, Dan, Susan and Lucy brought through the stairwell before Moloch.
I called Kowalski.
“Lieutenant. I want you to know that I’m going in. The Bradbury Tower.”
“Why the urgency?”
“They have Julie and her family.”
“Give me an hour to see what I can raise on my end to help. I can’t promise anything. At the least I’ll be there.”
“Hour max. Then I’m going in.”
Kowalski thought of the best justice minded cops he knew and called them one by one. They were Perez, Johnson and Rodriguez. He asked them to meet him at his home.
“Thanks for coming on such short notice. I didn’t know who else to call, but you were it. You can back out at any time. No shame. Seems I’ve discovered who’s been capping all the scumbags in my district for the last 10 years. Thing is, I like the guy. He didn’t mean to do it, but he’s been doing our job. Not just our job, but from the cop up to the DA to the executioner, he’s been doing our job. Worst of the worst. They’re all dead once they meet him.
“So you got this vigilante…”
“I wouldn’t say that exactly.”
“What would you say?”
“Look. This guy’s done a couple of hundred years of police work in the past few years. He’s going up against some major bad guys who have been taking out citizens of our city. They’ve taken a family hostage. I promised I’d have his back. This is completely off the books. This is personal. I want to know if you have my back?”
“You put it that way Kowalski, I’ll have your back at the gates of hell,” Rafer Johnson said.
“You might not be far off from the truth.”
“You can count me in,” Rodriguez said.
“Me too!” Perez said.
“OK. Get body armor, helmets and whatever heavy artillery you’ve got. Shotguns, automatic weapons. Something tells me we’re going to need it all.
Kowalski called Falco. He picked up on the second wring.
What’s going on Lieutenant?”
“I’ve got three guys. I make four. We’re ready to follow you into the Bradbury Tower.”
Lucy and Susan were crying hysterically. Dan was shaking in fear. Julie looked at Moloch in disgust and revulsion. It was all starting again. When would it end? Fyren and Diva stood behind them.
Moloch looked them over with his glowing red eyes with reptilian slits and spoke.
“I had you brought here in hopes that your friend would come to help you. He will not be able to save you. We will make it quick when the time comes. You live because he still lives. When he dies, you die.”
“What are you?” Julie demanded.
“Some would call me a demon,” he said with a chuckle and a snort through his snout. “I’ve been called as much over the ages. The truth is I am very old and experienced in the petty weakness of men. I feed on your kind.”
“You’re a monster!”
“Yes. I am. I am more monstrous and powerful than you can ever imagine. Before the night is through you may yet witness my power and glory.”
“Let our children go!” Dan exclaimed.
“They will be the first I will consume. And then we will consume you.
“Fyren and Diva!” he barked. “Take them to the bedroom in the rear and secure the door.”
Fyren and Diva stepped forward. Dan and Julie turned and looked at them.
“No!” Dan shouted as he recoiled from them.
“Take us instead!” Julie shouted. “Let them go!”
“I’ve heard it all before,” Moloch said. “You will all die for our nourishment.”
Moloch began to cackle, first quietly, then louder, booming his voice into the room.
“Don’t make this difficult,” Fyren said. “Follow me. I think you’ll find the accommodations comfortable.”
“Alright,” Dan said with a defeated look on his face and motioned for Julie to take charge of the girls and follow Fyren to their quarters, Diva taking up the rear. They walked up a set of stairs and into a hallway. Fyren led them to the door at the end of the hallway, opened it and directed them inside. There were two beds, several chairs and tables. There was a single window. It was their sole source of light.
“Oh, the window? Just in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t open. If you did manage to smash it and climb through, you would experience a sheer drop of 35 stories to the concrete below. Not a pretty way to go, but quite effective.”
Fyren closed the door and latched it from the outside and he and Diva returned to the main room and Moloch.”
“They’re secured, Master.”
“Yes. I know.”
Moloch reached out to Lilith and Malvoglio telepathically and beckoned them up to the penthouse level. They came up.
“Thank you my children. I thought it would be best to shield our guests from your loathsomeness. My own appearance has caused quite a few humans to die of fright. To have them see all of us together could have had a most regrettable effect on them. We want the interloper to engage us in combat and then we will destroy him.”
“Yes, Master,” they both intoned.
I had asked Kowalski and his fellow officers to meet me in the alley below Billy Barkey’s former apartment. Before departing I donned my shoulder harness with the dual spring-loaded swords and put on the sheath that held my obsidian knife and slipped it in. I next took my two .45s and placed them into the holsters at my sides. I then packed my daypack with eight loaded clips for the .45s, Mama Midnight’s concoctions and a box of strike anywhere matches. I put the pewter tablet in as well. I then slipped on my bloodstone ring. I thought back to my battle with Victor and remembered the gas bombs I made. I decided we were going to need some of those for this battle. I opened a drawer near my tomb that contained old linen and sheets. I gathered it all up and walked down to the parking garage, got into my Civic and drove out into the night.
I headed first to a liquor store where I purchased a 20 pack of Coors Light in the bottle and a package of ½ gallon re-sealable plastic bags. Tossing those in the back I pulled into a gas station and asked for a 5-gallon container of gas. I gave the attendant a $100 bill as a deposit. He filled the container and I left knowing he hoped I would not return and he would be $100 richer.
I then drove over to the alley, parked my car and waited for Kowalski and his boys.
About five minutes later they drove up in two slickbacks, got out of their cars and walked into the alley. I got out of my car and walked over to them.
“Hey Falco,” Kowalski said.
“Lieutenant Kowalski,” I said offering my hand in respect. “Who are your friends?”
“Sergeant Franklin Perez you know. May I introduce Detectives Rafer Johnson and Tony Rodriguez to you.”
We nodded in recognition of each other.
“Can you give us some intel, Falco?” Kowalski said.
I reached into my daypack and pulled out the pewter tablet.
“I figure the way this will make the most sense to you is if you see what we face.”
My mind activated the tablet and it began to glow and then reveal the interior of the penthouse. They could all see Moloch, Malvoglio, Lilith, Fyren and Diva regarding each other.”
“What the hell is that?” Perez exclaimed.
“They’re monsters, not unlike me.”
“But the woman and the man. She’s really hot. He looks normal enough.” Rodriguez said.
“Don’t be fooled by their appearance. On the inside they are just like the others,” I said pointing at Moloch, Lilith and Malvoglio. “You’ve never faced an enemy like these.”
“What makes them special?” Johnson said.
“You don’t believe they exist.”
They all looked intently at Falco.
“Explain,” Johnson said.
“These are creatures of the night. They have all been alive for a very long time. They are difficult to kill and have had a lot of experience defeating men who have tried to kill them. I am one of them, but I have chosen to follow a different path.”
“You’ve got to be bullshitting us man,” Perez said.
“Really?” I said before I levitated one hundred feet into the air and drifted down, landing softly on the pavement before them. “Seen anyone do that lately?”
“How did you do that?” Perez asked.
“It doesn’t matter how I did it. It’s just that I can. And the creatures in the Bradbury Tower can also do things you will think are unbelievable. You have to believe what I tell you. Your survival depends on it. Otherwise they will overwhelm you and destroy you.”
“Why are you doing this Falco?” Kowalski asked.
“They’ve kidnapped a family that is dear to my heart: Julie’s family. I believe this is their way to force me to confront them so they can destroy me. When I die they will kill them. I must try to defeat them so they may live.”
“How can we help?” Rodriguez asked.
“I’m not sure if you can, but I was moved by Lieutenant Kowalski’s offer to help. I have a few items that might help you.”
I dropped my daypack to the ground and pulled the bags that contained Mama Midnight’s potions.
“OK. It’s not much, but it may help. I’ve got twenty of these. You toss it hard at one of those motherfuckers and it breaks on their body. Should cause them some pain and distraction. Should back them off. There’s five each,” I said distributing them to the men.
“The next one is a little trickier. It’s got a fuse that you light. The business end is mixed with gun powder and gasoline that will explode on contact and infuse deadly herbs under their skin. There’s five each of these.” I said distributing them.
“Come with me,” I said motioning them back to my Civic. I popped the trunk and brought out the 20 pack, the re-sealable plastic bags, linen and sheets and the gasoline.
“I’m alive today because I defeated one of these motherfuckers ten years ago. I made gas bombs and that made the difference. You gotta cut their heads off though. Otherwise they might come back at you and kill you.”
We set about dumping out the contents of 20 beers, filling the bottles back up with gasoline, shredding the linen and sheets into strips, stuffing it into the mouth of the bottles. We then sealed each one up in a re-closable plastic bag. We packed the bombs back into the empty 20-pack carton and put in the Civic’s trunk. I then distributed the matches to them.
“OK. That’s five bombs each. If you can take out just one of those fuckers, it’ll be a tremendous help. Do any of you have a sword?”
They looked at each other. Their heads shook.
“Shit. We’re cops in the 21st century,” Perez said. “What the hell we need swords for?”
“Like I said. You might think you killed one of them, but the only way you know they’re dead for sure is if you behead them. That’s the way it works.”
“How the fuck we supposed to get shit like that?” Perez said.
I activated my spring-loaded swords. They shot out into my palms.
“Fucking A!” Johnson exclaimed. “That’s some baddass shit!”
I released the trigger and they retracted into their harness.
“Contact me with your mind if you have one of them compromised. If I can come, I will dispatch them.”
“I’ve got an axe at home!” Perez said.
“Good. Bring it. Everybody bring something that can separate a head from a body!” Kowalski said.
They each rushed off to their homes to arm themselves as well as protect themselves with Kevlar and bulletproof vests. Perez got his axe. Johnson found a hacksaw. Kowalski a pruning saw. Rodriguez a drywall saw.
They all drove to the predetermined spot 2 blocks from the Bradbury Tower.
I approved of their latest weapons.
Each man also had a sidearm or two. Kowalski had a double barreled shotgun and a .45 and a .38. Johnson had a fully auto M-16 as well as a Glock 9. Rodriguez had a Street Sweeper shotgun and two .45s. Perez had a MAC-10, a .45 as well as an RPG.
“Where the fuck did you pick that up?” Rodriguez asked Perez.
“Gun buy back program. Some banger’s mom sold the RPG back to the city for $200. City never got it. Thought I might need it for a rainy day. I think it’s raining.”
“How many shells you got for that thing,” Johnson asked.
“Hope you can hit something with it,” Rodriguez said. “How ’bout that MAC-10?”
“From the other night at MADISON MANUFACTURING. Never know when you’re going to need superior firepower.”
“OK. I’m glad you all have some badass shit. Let’s focus on the gas bombs. Each of you should carry two or three. We’ll split the rest into two groups and leave them in two different spots in the building, so if you have to retreat you’ll have a weapon waiting for you to deploy. Besides, we don’t want those fuckers blowing them up. It’s just like what your dad told you in baseball. It only takes one. Make sure it counts.”
I opened my trunk and each officer took two gas bombs and placed them in their jacket pockets.
“What are you gonna do?” Rodriguez said.
“I think I’ll go see what they’re up to.”
“Before you go,” Kowalski said. “I thought we should review this floor plan. He brought out a bunch of printouts and placed them on the trunk of the car nearest them.
“This is the Bradbury Tower’s floor plan. Notice there’s no clear path to the penthouse. There’s a secret elevator that leads there. There is also a hidden stairway on the eighth floor in the center of the building. As there’s no power to the building, the elevator doesn’t work. So the stairway is the only way. I’m not sure how to access it, but for sure the entrance is on the eighth floor.”
“Then let’s go into the building and find it,” I said.
We walked through the doors into the lobby that was crowned by the enormous Beaux Art dome. The men were awed by the now extinct culture that had once built this city.
Kowalski pointed ahead. “There’s the door to the central stairwell. Let’s drop half the bombs to the right of the door and the other half to the left.”
They divided the remaining twelve bombs and placed them as Kowalski suggested.
They walked through the door into the incomprehensible interior space, open to the top and open to the bottom, an octagonal series of landings with the stairwell off to the side.
“OK. We’re on the fourth landing. The secret door to the penthouse stairway must be up four flights.”
They walked up to the eighth landing and paused, stumped.
“You said it was secret. Seems to be a pretty good description,” Johnson said.
“Spread out. Tap on the walls. Push on the them,” Kowalski said.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “Let’s use logic and find out what doesn’t belong here.”
“What do you mean?” Kowalski said.
“Look over there,” I said, pointing at the first door. “That wall is part of the room. See how it’s repeated six times. Only six walls can be a part of a room. Then we have the stairway, and this extra wall. It doesn’t seem to be part of either a room or the stairwell.”
“Yeah! You’re right!” Rodriguez said moving toward the wall I’d pointed out. He started tapping on it and pushing as well.
“Stand aside,” I said. He backed off. I had noticed a slight erosion in a two inch length of moulding at the top of the wall. I reached up and depressed it. It gave and there was a click. The wall was released and I was able to slide it open to the left.
We walked in and found ourselves at the base of a flight of stairs that led up to the top.
“Nice work, Falco!” Kowalski said.
“Just getting started.”
Everyone checked their weapons, potions and bombs. We looked at each other. Everyone nodded OK.
“Wait here,” I said.
I levitated up the center, passing each floor slowly looking for entrances until I arrived at the top and saw there was no door to the penthouse. I floated back down to them.
“When you reach the top, concentrate your mind and think of me. If you encounter resistance, think of me as well. I will hear you. Let’s go.”
Where are you going?”
“To see what we face.”
I walked out into the lobby, through the doors to the outside and levitated upward toward the tower, circling it in the darkness, sensing what it must hold.
I alighted on the outdoor patio and walked toward the door to the interior, peering into the windows and waited for the signal from the officers.
The nightclub was empty. I knew Julie, Dan, Susan and Lucy were in there, but their abductors were not apparent. I decided to circle the tower again. On the sheer side of the tower, I noticed a window that had no fire escape. I drew close to it and peered in. I saw Julie, Dan, Susan and Lucy huddled together, trembling. I floated above the tower, not wanting them to notice my presence or draw attention to myself when I sensed Kowalski tell me that they were in position.
I floated back down to the patio and psychically pushed my thoughts into Kowalski’s mind, telling him it was time to go into the penthouse. I flew through the plate glass windows that stretched from floor to ceiling in the penthouse, sending shards of glass flying in all directions, catching and reflecting the light from the skyscrapers and moon as they settled to the floor. Kowalski and his crew smashed the door open and rushed in, guns at the ready.
No resistance. While a relief, it brought no comfort. I felt as though I was a mouse being toyed with by a cat.
“Let’s find them and take them out of here.”
We moved carefully up the steps in the back of the room into the hallway that led to the back. I sensed that Julie and her family were behind the door at the end of the hallway. I tried to open it. It was locked.
“Julie! Are you in there?”
“Yes! We’re in here!”
I gripped the locked doorknob and felt the anger and determination course through my veins. With a sudden movement I forced it forward, ripping through the door jamb, splinters flying, the door opening in my hand. Julie, Susan and Lucy rushed to me and embraced me. Dan rose with a hollow look in his face and walked toward us.
“Nothing’s been settled yet. We’re going to try to get you out, but they’re going to try to stop us. Let’s go!”
I led them into the hallway and down into the nightclub. Kowalski, Perez, Johnson and Rodriguez were standing sentry brandishing their weapons.
“Let’s move toward the stairwell.”
We moved cautiously toward it when an unholy howl sucked the oxygen out of our hearts as Lilith burst through the door to the stairwell.
There was an enormous flapping of wings. Moloch landed on the patio and strode into the nightclub.
“So you think you can just take them away that easily?” He laughed heartily, sending a chill through us all.
He faced the policemen. “Do you really think you can hurt me with your weapons?”
He lurched forward suddenly, causing the cops to snap their weapons to attention.
Moloch burst out into mocking laughter.
Perez reached into his pocket and pulled out one of Mama Midnight’s poppers and tossed it at Moloch with all his might. It burst on his chest and he screamed in pain. He fell back to the ground and clutched his chest where the popper burst on him.
He snapped his head toward Perez and angrily demanded, “Where did you get that?”
“You don’t need to know,” I said and flew at him with my obsidian knife drawn and thrust it as his neck. He was too quick though and flew up to the top of the room. Lilith rushed at us from behind us. She slashed Rodriguez and Perez with her claws. I rushed down at her with the knife and swung it at her, she retreated to a back corner, hissing and growling at us.
“Malvoglio! Come and feed on the unbelievers!”
There was a rush of air in the room as a creature as loathsome as has ever been seen entered through the smashed patio windows. Its red eyes and baby horns rising. Its claws and fearsome teeth exposed. It drooled in anticipation of biting through our flesh.
Replacing the obsidian knife back into its sheath, I leapt up and launched my swords into my hands and slashed them at him. He dodged to my left and blocked my slash. I bounced off him and leapt at Moloch and sliced my blade into his shoulder He knocked me to the floor. I stood and faced him.
Moloch had a shocked and pained look on his face. But then he cracked it into a smile.
“Perhaps you’d like to join me? I may have an opening soon.”
“Don’t think so. What did Moses say to Pharaoh? Let My People Go!”
“You’re not in a position to challenge me!”
“I just did!”
Perez lit one of his gas bombs and tossed it at Lilith, who rushed into the stairwell and down as the gas exploded harmlessly on the stairs, igniting them.
Johnson and Rodriguez each lit the fuse of the preparation laced with deadly herbs, gunpowder and gasoline and tossed them at Malvoglio and Moloch. They exploded on their skin and they shrieked in agony. Malvoglio rushed out the door and Moloch flew through the broken windows.
We quickly ushered the Stones into the stairwell and down, all the while as I looked back at Moloch and Malvoglio, watching to see if they dared follow us.
We worked our way down the stairs, through the flames, step by step.
We slowly got down to the eighth floor and the exit into the octagonal stairwell. We cracked the secret door open and exited. walking down to the fourth level and into the lobby.
Off to our left was Lilith. To our right was Diva. Fyren walked through the front door and they began to converge on us.
“Get some gas bombs ready!” I shouted.
There was a crash of glass from above us. The dome had been breached. Shards of glass showered us as Moloch broke through and began flapping his unholy wings in flight. I took off after him.
Rodriguez, Kowalski and Johnson each lit a gas bomb while Perez loaded his RPG.
Suddenly Fyren, Lilith and Diva rushed at them. Perez fired a grenade at Fyren who dodged the shell which exploded on the entry way to the lobby, blowing out most of the windows. Johnson tossed his gas bomb at Diva and scored a direct hit. She burst into flames and began to howl in anguish, but had the foresight to rush backward and roll on the ground as Johnson ran toward her with his hacksaw in one hand and his Glock 9 in the other. Diva crashed through what was left of the glass and rushed down the street at incredible speed and disappeared from sight.
Simultaneously as Lilith approached, Kowalski tossed his bomb at her, exploding on her right shoulder, setting her right side on fire. He rushed at her with his tree saw, but she smashed him with the backside of her right hand knocking him back to the wall. He pulled out his double barreled shotgun as she approached while in flames and let her have both barrels into the upper torso. The force of the blast blew her backward. She fled into the darkness of the night.
While this was happening Fyren rushed toward Perez, who was reaching for his .45, while Rodriguez aimed his Street Sweeper at Fyren and let him have two quick blasts, lifting him off his feet and onto the ground. Rodriguez grabbed his gas bomb and rushed forward and tossed it at Fyren, bursting on his groin, engulfing his lower abdomen and thighs in flames. Perez grabbed his axe and rushed to Fyren, who did a back flip back of 25 feet and rushed out of the building.
I reached Moloch and thrust one of my swords at him, but he dodged it and rushed toward the hole in the dome he had smashed through to enter the lobby. I flew up at him to attempt to block his departure, but he swept a clawed hand at me, striking me in the face, knocking me to the ground. As he exited through the hole in the dome, I took off after him, while telepathically sending a message to Kowalski to get the men to escort the Stones outside, into vehicles and drive far away from here.
“Let’s move the family outside into the street toward our cars and get them the hell out of here!”
Perez pulled out his MAC-10 and scanned ahead for threats while Kowalski, Johnson and Rodriguez rushed back to the Stones.
“Let’s go. Falco thinks we should make a run for it. I concur.”
Julie looked at Dan who returned her gaze. They each took the hand of one of their girls.
“OK. We’re ready,” Julie said.
Rodriguez walked behind them and lifted the Street Sweeper.
“I’ve got your back!”
“I’ve got your front!” Johnson said taking his position in front of them leveling his M-16 to the exit.
Kowalski reloaded his double-barrel and said, “I’ve got point. Let’s move!”
The group moved cautiously, but quickly toward the lobby’s exit doors and out into the night air all the while scanning from left, right and center for threats. As they walked down the concrete steps in front of the Bradbury Tower, all the while crunching broken glass down to the sidewalk. They turned left and began to make their way toward their cars.
Meanwhile I flew toward Moloch, who had attained an incredible rate of speed and height with his wings flapping. Every time I got close he would swoop down and then rise up. I was chasing, but not closing the gap.
Moloch suddenly did a steep dive toward the ground. I attempted to follow, but he was too far ahead. At the last instant I saw him pull up and he plucked a homeless bag lady off the street and fly up toward the Book Tower ripping her to shreds, consuming her life’s blood and tossing her lifeless corpse on the top of the Book Tower. He landed next to the corpse.
I flew up above Moloch and glared at him.
“I see you’re wearing the ring,” he declared. “The ring you usurped from my cousin, Victor. I want it back!”
“Come and get it!”
“In due time. You will soon regret having ever challenged us!”
“You won’t have time to regret when I am through with you!”
Suddenly, gunfire rang out from the street below. Moloch’s eyes glowed red as he chuckled and then emitted a full throated laugh. “Looks like your friends are in trouble!”
Kowalski, Perez, Johnson and Rodriguez escorted the Stones down the street toward their cars and escape to freedom. As they neared their cars a pair of black Escalades pulled up broadside and skidded to a stop, blocking the street. Men poured out of the SUVs with guns drawn on the sheltered passenger side.
“Drop your weapons and move away from the family!” Frank Morgan commanded.
Raymond Chang, Jerry Jaworski, Franklin Mack, William Mosely, Wardell Reed and Rick Griffith took up positions behind the twin SUVs.
“No fucking way!” Kowalski shouted back lifting his double barreled shotgun at them. “Back the fuck off!”
“You’re outgunned officers,” Morgan declared. “Drop your weapons!”
Rodriguez directed the Stones back from the scene of the confrontation, behind a stone building sign. Perez loaded a grenade into his RPG.
“Hide behind this. It should provide some cover,” Rodriguez told the Stones. “We’re going to try to get you out of here.”
Rodriguez moved back to his fellow officers, Street Sweeper at his side, a .45 drawn.
Suddenly Morgan and his boys opened fire, knocking down Kowalski, Perez and Johnson. Fortunately they were all wearing Kevlar so the would-be wounds were just bruises. Rodriguez opened fire at the men behind the SUVs, who took cover from the fusillade. Perez picked up his RPG and fired it at the SUVs which were parked nose to tail. It flew out at tremendous speed and exploded with incredible force at the front of one and the back of the other. Each SUV blew into the air, the gas tank of the rear facing vehicle exploding in flames while the engine of the front engine’s gasoline igniting and creating another explosion blowing back the men seeking refuge.
I flew toward the sound of the gunfire only to witness twin fireballs as two SUVs were lifted off the ground, gunmen blown away from the explosion. I landed next to Kowalski.
“Are you alright?”
He patted his chest. “Kevlar and vest. Otherwise…”
“Let’s make short work of them.”
Kowalski nodded in agreement.
Kowalski, Perez, Johnson and Rodriguez all rose and moved forward into and around the flaming carnage of the destroyed automobiles. I levitated above the scene and took it all in. Four men were on the ground, stunned, but in varying degrees of recovery. There were three fleeing. I took off after the three fleeing. I landed in front of them.
“Who the fuck are you and how did…” his question was cut short by my grasp of his throat.
“You’re not the one asking the questions here. Who are you and why are you here?”
“I’m Raymond Chang. I was forced by the mob to come on this job. They killed my friends and threatened to kill me unless I helped them.”
“And you?” I gestured to the other two.
“Same here. I’m Jerry Jaworski. He’s Rick Griffith. We’re just here trying to stay alive.”
“Normally I kill people like you. You’re not good, but you’re not evil yet.”
Suddenly Susan and Lucy started screaming. Dan too. I left the three criminals and flew back to the source of their panic and landed.
“My Mommy! It took her!” Susan said.
“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” Lucy sobbed. “I’m never going to see my Mommy again!”
I reached down and lifted her chin up to look at my face.
“No Lucy. If I have anything to say about it, you’ll see your Mommy again.”
Dan glared at me. “I don’t know what you are Falco, but if you can save Julie we will all be more grateful than you can ever know.”
“I’ll do what I can.”
I leapt into the night sky and flew to the Bradbury Tower where Moloch surely had Julie and to my next confrontation with evil.
Kowalski ushered Lucy, Susan and Dan into his police cruiser. He got in front and floored it, causing it to peel out and fishtail down the street onward, hopefully to safety.
“What about Mommy?” cried Susan.
“We’re going to try to help your Mommy. We just want to make sure you’re safe.”
I flew around the tower several times, trying to detect Moloch. I finally landed on the patio and strode forward into the nightclub space.
When the explosion happened, Frank Morgan was blown back about forty feet, yet was miraculously unharmed and fully conscious. He got up, turned his back and ran like hell as far away as his legs would carry him.
He had successfully fled from the scene of carnage and defeat. His evil muse had led him into a scene of defeat. He felt used, and rightly so. He had been used merely as a decoy. He would seek another spirit in the future.
The wings flapped and the beast flew, then suddenly swooping down to the pavement, targeting the young mother with her two children and husband nearby. Moloch scooped her up and flapped his wings back toward the tower. She screamed very loudly and long.
“Hush my child. Usually the ones I pluck are already dead as I have begun to feed upon them. You are one of the lucky few who will witness my transmutation.”
Moloch successfully flew into the penthouse and alighted.
“Diva! Guard the woman! Lilith! Guard the stairway!”
Diva took Julie by the hand, walked up the steps, and down the hallway to the room Julie was to be imprisoned in and closed the door behind her.
“The invader approaches!”
“Fyren! Bring out the bloodstone!”
Fyren went behind the bar and opened the cupboard that contained the bloodstone and took it carefully out.
“Place it on the bar!”
“Malvoglio! Attack the policemen!”
Malvoglio jumped out the window Moloch used for his hunting forays and unfurled the skin that stretched from his elbow to his hip, caught a draft and began gliding down the street toward the police and their captives.
Kowalski and his men were in the process of fastening flex cuffs to Mack, Mosely and Reed when Malvoglio swooped down on them and sunk his claws deep into Mack while biting down on his neck, spitting out a huge hunk of flesh and muscle, the blood churning out of his body and into Mavoglio’s greedy mouth.
“Kill it!” Kowalski commanded and Perez unloaded half a magazine from his MAC-10 into it, while Johnson fired controlled bursts of his M-16 and Rodriguez started firing his Street Sweeper.
Kowalski threw the first of Mama Midnight’s preparations at Malvoglio which hit him in the face, lit one of the second and threw it catching him dead in the center causing him to scream and howl. He then lit a gas bomb and threw it with all his might. It smashed in his clavicle and engulfed him completely in flames. Kowalski unfurled his tree saw and rushed forward and began to saw into Malvoglio’s neck, cutting through sinew and muscle and bone til he reached the other side and Malvoglio’s head fell to the ground, his flaming body following suit.
Perez picked up his axe and walked toward Mack’s corpse, lifted it over his head and brought it down, cleaving the head from the body.
“What the fuck was that?” Mosely cried out.
“Your lucky, fucking day!” Johnson snapped at him.
“Perez!” Kowalski barked. “Take the remaining Stones in one of the cars and drive them far away from here. Rodriguez! Take these two scumbags to jail and get the hell back here! Johnson! Let’s go back to the tower and see what we can do to help.”
“OK Lieutenant!” Perez barked and walked over to the Dan, Lucy and Susan.
“You best come with me Mr. Stone. And your children too.”
“What about my wife?”
“Falco’s on it. We’re going to see what we can do to help. I’m going to see you to a safe place and come back here.”
“Alright,” Dan said. “Girls! Let’s go!”
They followed Perez to his car and got in, Perez behind the wheel. Hit the switch locking all the doors, fired up the engine, drove onto the sidewalk around the burning Escalades and floored it, peeling down the boulevard to hoped for safety.
Rodriguez and Johnson grabbed Mosely and Reed, shoved them into the rear of Rodriguez’s car, with Rodriguez taking the wheel. He rolled down his window.
“Take care, brother. I don’t think I’ll be able to stand another partner.”
“Shit! I already can’t stand you!”
The two men laughed and then relaxed, suddenly serious and grasped hands.
“You’re the best, Rafer.”
“You’re the man, Tony.”
They released their grips and gave each other a knowing look. Rodriguez fired up the engine and took off to the nearest Police Station.
“OK, Johnson. Check your gear and let’s go help Falco,” Kowalski said.
They walked into the lobby of the Bradbury Tower and over to where they had left the extra gas bombs. Johnson popped in a fresh 50 round clip into his M-16, checked his remaining potions from Mama Midnight and two gas bombs.
Kowalski reloaded his double-barrel, checked his remaining potions and picked up another gas bomb. He once again had two. They headed back to the Bradbury Tower.
I flew up to the tower penthouse and circled it. I could see they were inside, the crimson light from their enormous bloodstone illuminating them. I also knew that Kowalski and his men had killed Malvoglio. I was grateful that there was one less beast for me to deal with.
I flew down to the penthouse at an enormous rate of speed and stopped in mid-air in the center of the room, released the swords into my hands and began to spin like a top, faster and faster with my swords extended in a deadly twirl, cutting through whatever stood before me rushing around the room. Fyren and Lilith moved quickly and evasively, yet I got closer at each pass. I spun up toward Moloch and threatened him. He flew quickly away from my threat. At that moment Lilith saw an opening and leapt at me. I changed the gravitational center of my spin and approached her from the side, my swords slicing through her, cleaving her into eight or nine sections. I came to rest on the floor and glared at Moloch and Fyren.
Moloch glared at me, his eyes burning crimson. He encanted “Il diaspro sanguigno. Libera la tua potenza per me.”
His enormous spherical bloodstone began to emit more light and started to crackle with crimson lightning that spread throughout the room.
“Concentrarsi sul intrusa!”
The crimson lightning emitting from the bloodstone all converged on me, flowing into my body and coming out through my hands and head and eyes toward the ceiling and into space. I was trapped. I felt power being sapped from my center. I began to be lifted upward to the center of the room held up by the crimson energy. Moloch began to laugh. It chilled me to my core. I began to tremble in fear. I felt close to defeat. How could I have ever believed that I could outwit a 4,000 year old demon?
“Prepare for your second and final death!”
Just then Kowalski and Johnson crossed the threshold into the room from the secret stairway. Kowalski saw the energy coursing from the bloodstone into my body, lifted his shotgun and fired both barrels at the bloodstone, shattering it, the energy dissipating, leaving my body, allowing me to drop to the floor.
Moloch roared in anger and rushed at Kowalski and Johnson. Johnson threw the first potion at Moloch catching him square in the face. Moloch fell to the ground clutching his face, roaring in agony. Johnson lifted his M-16 and emptied his clip into him while Kowalski pulled out his .45 and emptied his clip into him as well. I leapt into action, extending my swords coming behind Moloch and plunged my right arm sword through his back on the right side. He moaned and howled in agony.
Fyren leapt toward me, transforming into the ugly beast he truly was with his vicious sharp teeth and rat-like appearance.
Kowalski threw Mama Midnight’s first potion at his head where it burst. Clutching his head Fyren fell to the floor. Johnson lit the fuse on the second potion and flung it catching Fyren full on the chest as he turned to face them. Johnson slapped a fresh clip into his M-16 and started firing. Kowalski lit a gas bomb and tossed it at Fyren where it burst, engulfing him in flames. Screaming and howling in extreme anguish Fyren fell to the ground, writhing in agony. Kowalski rushed forward, unfurled his pruning saw and sawed Fyren’s head clean off.
Moloch smashed me in the face. I fell with great force into the back bar breaking glass and shattering wood. I rose and focused all my energy into my ring and pointed it at Moloch. There was a high pitch whine which got lower and lower in tone and descended to the subsonic as a column of crimson energy began to extend from my hand to Moloch’s abdomen. He began to scream as the energy entered him and passed through his eyes, hands, mouth and the top of his head. I unfurled my obsidian knife and flew at him. In mid air, I cut through his chest, reached in and pulled out his black heart and took a bite, spat it out and looked at him.
“Not too good.”
I swung the knife and cut off his head, his ancient, wicked body falling to the floor.
I floated down to the floor. I looked over at Kowalski and Johnson.
“Thank you. I thought I was finished.”
“Think nothing of it.”
“We’re not done yet. We have to find Julie.”
We ran up the stairs and back to the room that had been Julie’s prison before. The door had an obstruction blocking the opening. Probably a chair against the doorknob. I stepped forward and flung it open, the chair flying across the room. Julie was sitting on the bed, a terrified look in her eye. The window overlooking the sheer drop was smashed. Diva was gone.
I rushed over to her and grasped her shoulders.
“You’re safe now. Your family is safe, thanks to these men,” I said gesturing toward Kowalski and Johnson acknowledging the rest of their crew.
“Thank you Rick!” she said throwing her around my neck, sobbing against my left shoulder. “It’s always you! It always was you. It will always be you.”
I pulled back from her.
“Lieutenant. Take her to her family. I’m spent. I need to rest.”
“Sure thing Falco. She’s safe in our hands.”
I walked down the hallway and into the penthouse, through the broken windows, onto the patio and into the night. I levitated up into the sky and viewed the skyline of Detroit. There were towers with lights blazing and towers that were dark. There were lines of headlights on the interstate and isolated headlights moving through the canyons of the city. I had just been in one of the dark towers of the city and revealed its dangerous and evil secrets. We had fought an immense evil and emerged victorious. This was not the end though. There was more evil in this world to be confronted. Though I was evil, or should be, somehow I had become an agent for good. I felt a strange sense of satisfaction realizing that I had done well, protected the innocent and punished the evil. I wasn’t finished though. I just needed to get to bed and sleep this one off.
Kowalski and Johnson ushered Julie down the hidden stairway. As they neared the exit Rodriguez entered the stairway with his Street Sweeper brandished, pointing up at them.
“Hold on Brother. We don’t want to be casualties of friendly fire!” Johnson exclaimed.
“Holy fuck! It’s you buddy. I thought I was walking into a shitstorm!”
“You missed it. You got the term right though!”
Rodriguez rushed up and embraced Johnson. He had tears in his eyes.
“I told you, you were the best!!”
“You’re the man!” Johnson said, tears streaming down his face.
“OK girls! Let’s get the lady back to her family.”
“Aye, aye Lieutenant!”
Kowalski called Perez on his cell phone. Turns out Perez had taken Dan, Susan and Lucy to his home. His wife made snacks for them. Perez sat on the front porch with his MAC-10 and his .45 standing guard. His wife had a .45 in her purse and went to the range with her husband often. She was a crack shot, but didn’t tell the Stones anything.
Kowalski, Johnson and Rodriguez pulled up at Perez’s house with Julie in tow and parked. They all got out and walked up the walkway to Perez’s front door.
“It’s great to see you,” he said to Kowalski and the men. “And it’s awesome to see you,” he said to Julie. “How did it go down?”
“Falco came through. We came through for Falco. One of them got away though. The most dangerous ones are dead. I think we’re all safe now.”
Perez got up and opened the front door.
“I’ve got someone here you probably want to see.”
Julie stepped through the front door. Lucy and Susan burst forward from their seats as thought they were shot from a cannon, tears streaming down their cheeks, embracing their mother and weeping.
“Mommy! I thought I’d never see you again,” said Lucy.
“Me too!” said Susan.
“Me too!” said Dan who had joined the hug fest, tears streaming down his cheeks. “I thought I’d lost you forever. I guess we owe Falco and these men a debt of gratitude we can never repay.”
“Oh Dan! Thank you for your love and understanding. I love all of you so very much!”
They wept and embraced in the relief and pure joy of survival and restoration. They were a family once again.
“Excuse me?” Kowalski addressed them. “Perhaps we can get you to a hotel?”
“Forget it Lieutenant,” Perez said. “They’re staying here with us tonight. Come by in the morning when you figure out how to get them back home.”
Kowalski smiled. “OK Perez. It’s a good play. Rest well everybody. You’re in good hands with Sergeant Perez.”
Kowalski, Johnson and Rodriguez turned and walked out of the house, down the walkway to their car, got in and drove away.
I lay in the cocoon of my tomb and reflected on the challenges of recent days. Julie and her family were safe. Four monsters were destroyed. One escaped. Slumber seemed just beyond my grasp, even though I was exhausted. I depressed the button that opened my tomb. It opened and I got out and walked through my apartment. I walked over to my computer and opened my email and read through the requests for Falco’s help. There were mothers looking for sons and daughters who had run away, men looking for wives who had run away. All that and more. There was an email from Kowalski. I clicked on it and opened it.
Falco. It was an honor to have your back tonight. I like to think we helped. I know we couldn’t have done it without you.
I stifled back a tear and wrote a reply.
I couldn’t have done it without you.
I rose in the late afternoon, refreshed myself and dressed. After a tall glass of blood I felt ready to face the world. I applied a generous coating of sun block, put on my fedora and sunglasses and drove my Civic down to Gehenna Street, parked and walked down to 666, raised the knocker and knocked three times.
I heard the shuffling from inside as she worked her way toward the door which creaked open, stopped by the chain. Her eye peered out at me.
“Mama. I came by to thank you. We couldn’t have defeated them without you. Your potions made a critical difference for us.”
“You’re a curious one. You one of them, but not one of them. Who’s we?”
“I’ve got some cops on my side. We’ve joined forces. Moloch is dead.”
“Oh! Praise be to the almighty. You might be a devil, but you’s an angel! That’s what you are. You’re the dark angel! God’s avenger from Hell!”