The Walkers

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Dead Need Cash

"Hail to the king," said the Elvis impersonator. He punctuated his words with a shotgun blast. Emily Torres flinched as others around her instinctually hit the ground. Emily and her Scott had moved to this fine city to avoid any more undue excitement.

Best laid plans of mice and men, Emily thought as Elvis thought he saw someone going for a gun. It turned out, an old lady's heart was acting up and needed the medicine inside her purse. Elvis chucked the small orange cylinder against the wall. "We all die, hon."

Four presidents poured through the front doors of this rather ornate bank. Emily always thought this bank had more in common with a hotel lobby than a financial safe house of any kind. Elvis noticed her admiring the architecture and pointed the shotgun at her head. "Get on the floor, you stupid bitch."

The King didn't actually use the word "bitch" but Emily would be damned if she repeated what he actually said. As the vulgar Las Vegas icon barked orders at the presidential quartet, Emily fell to her knees. "All the way." Then, she laid down on her stomach.

There was no reason in the world to try and be a hero in this situation. The bank was federally insured just for such lunacy. Nobody here was faster than a speeding bullet. Elvis Presley and the four presidents would get their money and leave so then the old lady could get the necessary medical attention.

If this were a movie, Emily Torres, being a nurse, could just rush in to save the old lady's life with her nurse fu and she'd be the big hero. In reality, she had no training as a first responder and the old lady's condition could be one of a hundred different things.

"Dennis?" A young college-age bank teller squinted his eyes as he stared at the Elvis bank robber. "Dennis Hooverman?" Elvis tilted down his garish sunglasses to get a better look at the man. "Is that really you?" The man (his nametag said Richard) stared blankly. "Why the Hell are you doing this?"

Elvis placed the barrel of the shotgun against his forehead. "I need the money, Dick." Elvis' bad Southern accent had dropped off. "As for Dennis, I hope he's your friend because saying his name just got you killed." Before Richard could argue, the shot blasted him up.

Elvis turned around to see a thirty-something-year-old Hispanic with a police-issue revolver in his hands. In a movie, the off-duty cop at the bank would be the one to stop him. "Wanna shoot me, pig?" Elvis put the gun up against his jumpsuit. "Go ahead. Have fun."

In her brief stint with complete insanity, Emily had read about people like Elvis Man here. Schizoid delusional types, he was organized enough to rob a bank but crazy enough to step in front of an off-duty cop pointing a gun at him. The cop fired it once.

To anyone in doubt about Elvis' death, the shot robbed even hard-die skeptics of their conspiracy theories. Emily could list the half dozen types of entrails, organs and bodily fluids spilled onto the floor. Elvis Man was deader than dead. Nobody could survive that.

Emily smiled. Perhaps the movies got it right every once and a while. The cop, announcing himself to be a police officer. Detective Alejandro Ruiz to be precise. He grabbed Elvis' shotgun and pointed it on the four presidents.

The heart had already gone out of them with the death of their ring leader. They'd have surrendered to Alejandro if he had nothing but a BB gun at his disposal. Let alone a police-issue revolver and a stolen Remington shotgun.

Emily Torres had seen the thing that Alejandro Ruiz didn't. A tiny mouse gun in an ankle holster on his right leg. Emily noticed it because she thought it was something a cop would notice before she did. But it didn't register as something important. Elvis was dead. What good would that gun do him?

Then, Emily saw something she couldn't believe. Elvis Man, with a gaping hole in his chest she could actually see through, wrapped his arm around his right leg and arm himself with the holdout gun. Impossible. You're dead.

Emily wanted to warn Detective Alejandro Ruiz but it would have been risky. She could be hallucinating and the cop had four very alive armed men to worry about. She kept her silence and allowed Elvis to draw down on him.

Since the night Emily had seen a little girl awakened from a coma by a witch, she had spoken with every shrink she could afford to see. They all said the same. There was nothing wrong with her. Brief lapses in objective reality happened even to the perfectly sane.

Ever since therapy, Emily had never spoken of the incident, even with Scott who had been so patient with her about calling off the engagement. Her stint with madness was fleeting and she was happy to get back to the business of living her ordinary life.

The shot stopped in Alejandro's lower back, a direct hit to the spine. Elvis Man got up and placed the gun behind Alejandro's right ear. "Oink, oink," Elvis said before pulling the trigger. The five robbers grabbed their duffel bags and waited for orders from Elvis.

"Listen up, everybody," Elvis Man said as he grabbed his shotgun from Alejandro's corpse. "I ain't nobody anyone knows." The man in the polyester jumpsuit bared his teeth. "I'm the King and I don't consort with peasants." Emily made a run at the revolver.

Emily Torres hadn't planned on going action hero on this Elvis, Nixon, Kennedy, Clinton and Obama. The police would come in and ask her what she saw. Everyone would lie and claim that Elvis had a bulletproof vest and some squibs loaded with red dye to pull off the illusion of him getting shot.

None of them had the balls to admit what they really saw but her. And that would cost her everything. Her job, her sanity, her Scott, her everything. She needed to end this in a way that left no doubt that this man was walking off a GSW to the chest cavity.

In a movie, she'd have gotten to that gun, bought valuable from the robbers at gunpoint and the cops would arrive to see for themselves why his wound should have killed him. Then, she would not look like the drooling maniac in this strange situation.

In real life, Emily did manage to get the revolver. She fired one shot at Elvis' forehead. The bullet passed right through this time without even a single drop of blood. Elvis returned fire. The buckshot clipped her in the right shoulder and she left over bleeding.

One of the presidents, Kennedy ran up to her, pointing a Colt .45 in her face as he started unzipping his pants. Emily kicked as hard as she could. She felt the man's tenders erupt into bruises as her left leg connected with his groin. He squeezed the trigger.

Elvis Man pushed Kennedy's arm. The shot went wide and spared Emily a kill shot at point-blank range. "Don't do her." Kennedy looked over at Elvis Man. If not for the mask on his face, his expression would have been one of frustration. "She's a virgin." Elvis looked over at Emily. "We need her."

Elvis Man got up real close to her. That was when she noticed the smell. Living with her cat Whiskers, she knew the difficult of trying to mask objectionable odors. Elvis Man smelled like roadkill dipped in cologne. The smell almost made her forget about the gunshot wound in her shoulder.

The shotgun's barrel ended up planted against her nose. "You got two options, girly girl." Elvis' head pointed at the door. "You can come with us." His head then pointed at the robber in the Kennedy mask. "Or I could let the 35th President finish what he started." Emily grabbed Elvis' hand. "Smart girl."

It takes one to know one. Dennis Hooverman knew a virgin when he saw one. Especially one fighting against a rapist. She wasn't just protecting herself from a particularly hideous form of violence. She was guarding something sacred to her. Her own virginity.

Dennis didn't waste any more words. No more lectures about the other times he had tried to turn a bank robbery into a rape-fest. No more "straighten up and fly right" pep talks to get Larry Lynch's head back in the game. Dennis phased his hand into his neck below his jawline. "Game over, Larry."

Dennis' three cohorts did a double take. Not because he had offed Larry. They had a pool going on how much longer he'd tolerate his crap. No, they did a double take at the sound of his real voice, a nasally high-pitch one.

In truth, Larry Lynch never fitted in with them. Dennis Hooverman, Matt Azaria, James Simon and Henry Groening were old friends from high school. Larry Lynch was the jock douchebag who used to stuff their kind into cafeteria garbage bins. No love lost there.

Besides, Lawrence Lynch was a time bomb ready to explode. Girly Girl had cracked his nuts and he'd be whining about going to the hospital despite the risks. Killing Larry was the best way to stop any of his complaints before they happened.

Even as a kid, Dennis was ashamed as how his voice sounded. He was a white Steve Urkel. So he got good at doing voices. Even his closest thing to friends never heard him speak in his real voice before. Dennis wanted it to be the last thing Larry ever heard.

The mood in the utility van shifted from exhilarated to morose. Only Hank kept his cool. Unfortunately, he was up front driving, a direct consequence of his sang-froid. The other two guys were at the verge of weeping. Homos.

A couple knocks came from the giant wooden coffin next to the front seats. The coffin had belonged to Dennis, one of his mementos he borrowed from his funeral. A woman was now housed in its stately mahogany interior.

Because of their need to keep the kidnapped in a total sensory blackout, the weapons they had acquired for the robberies were strewn about haphazardly in the back of the utility van. Jimmy, the neat freak, was freaking out.

Hank, the man with the plan, had fashioned a bandage sling for the lady so she wouldn't bleed to death in the van. She was going to die soon but, if she died now, all that work patching her up and kidnapping her would have been a waste of time.

As Larry gargled on his own blood, Matt held his hands over his ears. The emo-bitch of the gang, Matt obviously forgot about the crap this meat-head had put them through. Those were their high school years and he crapped on them. Him and his pack of ape-men.

Larry Lynch only joined the group for the marquee value of teaming up with a dead guy. True to form, this high school quarterback had washed out and dipped below the poverty line to become a part-time mechanic. And full-time alcoholic.

Still, Dennis Hooverman couldn't be too angry with him. If he hadn't gone into rape mode, Dennis would never have noticed the purity ring or her shocking misuse of the color pink. Also, his freshly deceased corpse would make a fantastic appetizer.

It always amazed Dennis how quickly he got used to the idea of being a nachzehrer, a corpse-eating corpse with ghost powers. Perhaps a life of being out of touch with reality helped to smooth the turbulent transition into an undead lifestyle.

Whatever the reason, Dennis had to admit that being a nachzehrer had its advantages. He didn't have to worry so much about getting hurt. As long he didn't get hit in the brain-case while solid, Dennis was virtually invulnerable.

That wasn't to say this new lifestyle didn't have its flaws. For one, he smelled like a dead quarterback's jockstrap. He had tried every kind of perfume and cologne he could think of. Nothing could hide that rank odor for too long.

Then, there was the little matter of his situation. He might be undead but down there he was dead dead. While he never had much sway with the ladies growing up, not being able to jerk off at his leisure was killing him ... again.

As the ride back to the Fortress reverted to silence, Dennis retreated into himself. Dennis remembered that fateful afternoon when he stepped off a curb and got hit by a dark red Dodge Caravan. He also remembered his lengthy stay in the hospital and a frisky physical therapist by the name of Stacy Gwen.

Aside from having a kick-ass name, Stacy Gwen didn't seem to mind his extra pounds or his dozen little zits. She just wanted someone to play with. While she didn't pop his cherry, that crazy slut did things for him he'd only ever read about in porn mags.

While Stacy Gwen redefined "physical therapy" for Dennis Hooverman, a medical mistake happened. One of his ribs, split during the accident but overlooked but the admitting doctor/insomniac, pierced his heart. He died on the operating table with a smile on his face.

Dennis got his knob polished after getting hit by a car only to die from the complications. If his life had been a story, it would have ended on a high note if it had ended there. Instead, he woke to find himself underground with wood on all sides.

After a moment of panic entertaining the notion that his parents had buried him alive, he found himself on top of his grave site. That was the first time he manifested his ghost powers and it would be far from his last as Larry Lynch's death could attest to.

Therein lied the irony. Getting a taste of real sex only to have it ripped away. Being a nachzehrer (or whatever Hank called it) was great but it sucked too. So Dennis wanted a cure for it ala Nick Knight from Forever Knight.

As luck would have it, there was a "cure" of sorts for his undead condition. One of the main ingredients, the ivory-white flowers from a Protoanthus shrub, cost more than crack. The other ingredient, dried tanna leaves, didn't get any cheaper.

Being legally dead with no access to the money his parents collected on his life insurance, Dennis Hooverman needed to get the money and fast. That was when he got the brilliant idea to rob a few banks disguised as Elvis.

Of course, then, he got the even more brilliant idea to gather up a couple of old friends to help him with the caper. Even with these ghost powers, it couldn't hurt to have the cannon fodder handy to take a bullet or two for him.

Dennis was a coward at heart and he knew it. These guys were so floored by his undeadness that they cheerfully offered up their lives to him. Besides, Hollywood made the classical bank robber look so damn cool. Who wouldn't want to rob a bank?

Then, the melancholy set in. Unlike these red shirts doomed to die for their Captain Kirk, Richard Punch had been a real friend. He heard his real voice and didn't even laugh. Killing him was the only thing he regretted doing so far.

Dennis Hooverman tried to focus on the future. Once he got Human Life 2.0 up and running, he'd kill the last survivors, move away, change his name and do his best to forget that any of this awful crap had ever happened.

Ian Rockwell arrived in the Aleph Rock with Nergal. He tried many times to get the old demon to explain the bizarre nature of this strange locale but each time he received some mind-numbing riddle as opposed to an actual answer to his question.

From the first time he witnessed Nergal retreat to this strange locale rather than oversee the completion of a delegated task, Ian knew that the Aleph Rock meant something very important to Nergal. Being here was more important than being anywhere else.

If memories served him correctly, Ian had visited this place three times before Nergal would even give him a name. Then on the fourth visit, Nergal let slip the fact this odd place was on Earth but could only be reached by magic.

Atop this plateau of ochre rock, a swirl of living paintings danced in the clouds above their heads. Ian tried many times to look straight into the images. He never remembered much except a throbbing pain to remind him not to try again. Ian couldn't help it.

The urge to decode these movies in the sky overwhelmed his sense of self-perservation. He tried so long and hard to look at the metamorphic clouds that a line of blood dripped from his left nostril. A virtual impossibility for his vampire flesh but it did happen.

Ian never considered himself a religious man. He once dated a religious girl and went along with it for laughs. Even now that crosses could brand his flesh, he never felt anything that made him feel beholden to a higher power. Even when he sided with the berserkers, they were just means to an end.

The Aleph Rock commanded a respect. Even Nergal, a demon who could likely destroy anything and anybody by sheer force of will, was cowed by that electrifying current of energy that seemed to criss-cross this sunless wind-swept location.

Ian often wondered what would have happened if he had died without the aid of a vampiric resurrection. Would he have ceased to exist? Would he descended into the bowels of the underworld to be the plaything of demonic lords like Nergal?

Times like these made Ian Rockwell gratify that Nergal couldn't decipher the thoughts of a living-impaired. He had seen how frighteningly well he broke even the strongest of spirit by probing the depths of their minds and salvaging its dark treasures.

A mind-reading fire-starting teleporting telekinetic, Nergal could have done many of things he ordered others to do in his steed. His tendency to delegate such pitifully easy tasks implied that he had his share of weaknesses. Ian Rockwell had only learned a few of them in his otherwise invulnerable arsenal.

Aleph Rock felt like one of Nergal's weak spots. Ian Rockwell couldn't figure quite yet what about this place could be a flaw in the demon but it felt like his Achilles heel. Ian just didn't know how to exploit it. Thank God he can't read my thoughts.

A fast-moving cloud caught Ian's attention. At that moment, something clicked. The cloud of random images collapsed into a single coherent narrative. He saw himself dressed in Parker Evans' cape and ready to do battle with Noah Walker, the only individual in his life that passed for his arch-nemesis.

Ian saw how he opened the fight with a knife that spoiled his girlish features. Then, Ian heard the sound of his voice. What he had remembered as epic banter sounded like a childish word games of a complete retard. His words sounded dumb in this "recording."

Ian pantomimed each strike and counterstrike of their battle until Noah got lucky with a vial of holy water. His luck would not last as Ian feigned weakness to draw him in. If he had simply stabbed Noah Walker with a knife or a shadow blade, the fight would have ended quite favorably for him.

Noah Walker would be dead and Ian could reap the benefits of an undead existence content with his revenge. Instead, like a lot of neophyte vampires, Ian had confused fighting with feeding and set to work on drinking every drop of blood out of Noah's veins.

The fact that Noah could have easily finished him off made the defeat even more humiliating. If not for a timely distraction, Noah could have recovered his fruity little half-sword and finished him off with a decapitation blow.

"Another day." Those were Noah's last words to him. As if killing Ian the next time they met was an inevitability for Noah. The little nerd he used to assault with spitwads and paper footballs had gotten too big for his breeches. Noah begged to be humbled.

That was the heart of their little conflict. Noah Walker was a freak who had violated the natural order of things. Ian Rockwell had became a freak himself to beat him at his own game. Each time, Noah managed to outfreak Ian.

If he wanted to, Nergal could have roasted the little bastard on spit and served him with gravy. Instead, the inscrutable demon allowed Noah and his family of freaks to live with only a couple half-hearted attempts of their lives to break up on the monotony.

"You are hoping for a chance to kill Noah Walker." Ian tensed up, afraid that Nergal could read his mind. "These clouds are very instructive." Nergal pointed up at the one Ian was staring at. "That is why I forbid you to kill him."

Before Ian could complain, Nergal rose his right hand. "Trust me." Nergal pointed to a cloud next to Ian's. It contended a vague image of Noah killing a vampire. "Noah will suffer more alive than he ever could in Hell."

Nergal's cloud and Ian's cloud both vanished. A third larger darker cloud replaced both of them. "We are all part of a greater destiny of which even I am merely a pawn. I come to this place between places to seek my answers to a thousand questions and to learn my place in the grand scheme of all things."

Then, Ian Rockwell saw it. The kind of thing a person didn't forget ever seeing. It was a look of terror. Being a self-confessed, he knew what a look of terror looked like. He knew what a word of terror looked like even when the wearer was trying to conceal it. What made this look of terror most memorable was the fact that it was being worn by a nigh-invulnerable demon and he was making no effort whatsoever to hide it.

"What's wrong?" That was a stupid question if he ever heard one before. It was obvious that something was wrong but something was wrong by the standards of a demon, did Ian really want to know. Therein lied the conflict he always felt in the presence of Nergal. A battle between what he considered his right to know and the bliss of ignorance, not matter temporary. Ian asked again. "What's wrong?"

Nergal sneered. "I heard you the first time." Nergal was a nasty piece of work to be sure. He could be condescending in the extreme and given to mind games but this was the first time he had been downright rude with Ian. The shift in behavior wormed out at Ian, telling him of some unspoken anxiety on the part of a demon.

"You have no conception what is about to." Nergal pointed up at the dark cloud that had swallowed up the sky. "She is coming." Again, Ian tried to interpret the images in the clouds by himself. It usually took a while for such attempts to cause him pain. Ian blacked out the moment he stared up at the dark ominous dark. Whatever it was, the cloud bore a message so potent it crushed his brain while it attempted to decipher it.

"Paul Utah," Bernard exclaimed in an involuntary reflex to the young bespectacled man at his door. "What are you doing?" As a cop, Bernard tried to get a jump on any surprises coming his way. Surprises weren't a cop's best friend. He knew a guy on a force. Guy Stephenson. Got shot down during a routine traffic stop. Surprises were what got people killed.

Being alert and ready for anything was the closest thing to a vaccine for the ills of this world. "Why are you here?" Paul walked in without an invitation. He was alone but he could tell this was business of the highest caliber.

Many things disturbed him about Paul Utah's sudden arrival. For one thing, Bernard had not given him his full name last time they met. Paul had only a face and a first name to go off of. Secondly, even he had figured out where he lived, his primary residence was still being rebuilt from the fire caused by a rocket launcer of all things fired by what had been a pretty decent neighbor.

All in all, Paul Utah could only be at his mother-in-law's apartment because he spent a great deal of time seeking him out.

"Bernard, may I call you Bernard?" Bernie smirked. Paul had asked a similar question when they first met. Paul shifted through the piles of papers stacked in the main room of the apartment. "We don't have time for stupid questions." Paul Utah placed special emphasis on the word stupid as he continued neatly ransacking their apartment. "I wasted enough time finding you."

Bernard placed a hand on Paul Utah's shoulder. "Please." Paul looked up at Bernie and adjusted his glasses a bit. "I need to know why you're right." Bernie sighed. "My family has been through a lot lately." Bernie looked around, remembering that the family was grocery shopping. "If something bad is coming for them, I think I have a right to know."

Paul gently removed the hand from his shoulder and looked Bernie in the eyes. "Please, Paul."

Paul sat down in an antique piece of furniture and grabbed the pile of paper he had been sorting through. "Morrigan." Bernie froze in place. "What do you know about her?" Bernard Walker didn't think he would ever live to hear that name spoken in mixed company again.

It was the name of a nightmare, a terrible beast way beyond the prospects of an even a determined Morrigan because Morrigan happened to be a goddess of unspeakable power kept in check only by a convenient barrier in Hell erected by mysterious means. "Someone is trying to set her free."

Paul Utah continued going through Bernie's papers. "I applaud your attention to detail." Paul threw the newspaper clippings of the Elvis bank robberies. "You have an uncanny gift for always being on the right track." Paul sighed. "A contact of mine sold a collection of rare ingredients. He claims that the money he received were bank notes that originated with these robberies." Paul smiled. "These men are planning to summon Morrigan."

"Bernie." Michelle looked around at Paul as Noah and Alyssa followed behind her carrying groceries and Grandma Laurie followed behind them carrying the baby. "Who is this?" Bernie took in a full breath of air. He had some explaining to do and could only hope that his family would understand his reasons for shielding them from this awful crap. These were not things even hunters could deal in without undue risk to life and limb.

"So ... let's get this cleared up." Mom paced around the room as Dad finished explaining a couple more of the secret he had been keeping from his family. "The Palladian Society, a cult of devil-worshipers, are, in fact, a league of magicians working undercover to track the habits of dark magicians, is that right?" Dad and the man named Paul Utah nodded in unison. "You are also the ones responsible for summoning the Benandanti in the past." Mom continued to pace the room. "Except this time, you don't know who summoned us and you are worried that this may be the result of some dark force at work."

Dad and Paul nodded, this time Dad a little faster than Paul. "I have only one question. " Dad stepped closer to Mom. Noah Walker waited with bated breath for Mom's response. "Why the Hell did you wait until now to tell us?" That was the magic one-billion-dollar question. Much had happened in the time since Dad acquired this bit of intel. They had faced numerous monsters. One of which actually killed him to say nothing of the ones that came close. All this time, Dad was holding out of them. It made Noah sick to his stomach and he was his son. He could only imagine what his wife could be feeling right now.

Dad shrugged in a defeated pose. "I didn't want any of you to have to worry about this." Dad looked around the room for support. "Being a Benandanti is hard enough without something that makes you doubt your own destiny." Dad made a grand sweeping gesture with his hands. "Why we are here hasn't changed. We are here to fight monsters. We do that regardless of who summoned us." Dad smiled. "They cannot control us. We choose our own destiny."

At that moment, a big black man with broad shoulders appeared in the room. "Well spoke," the man said in a genteel affectation. "We choose our own destiny until Morrigan awakes and kills us all for sport." Everyone stopped and stared at this bizarre newcomer. "I apologize. Where are my manners?" The man bowed to everyone present. "I am Nergal. I am -"

"A demon," Grandma Laurie finished as she edged away towards a set of weapons hidden in the furniture. "I do not know what business you have with us Nergal but you had better leave. I cannot kill you but I know a dozen ways to make you suffer for this minor trespass, you foul hell-spawn."

Nergal shrugged. "This is the discrimination I must deal with on a daily basis." Nergal sighed. "It is not easy being a demon who works on the side of angels." Everyone stared at Nergal and then at Grandma Laurie. After a moment of hesitation, she abandoned her search for a weapon. "Thank you."

Nergal sat down next to Paul. "We are here because a little brat by the name of Dennis Hooverman as expressed an interest in freeing Morrigan from her cage." Nergal smirked. "I can't begin to describe to you the kind of devastation that would take place if such an experiment were to succeed."

A long haggard breath left the demon's lungs. "We are united in a common goal. To make sure that ritual summoning fails and our world continues to exist." Nergal looked around. "It is not my nature to team up with humans. Anymore that it is your nature to team up with demons." Nergal leaped onto his feet and paced around. "These are desperate times and desperate times call for desperate measures."

Nergal placed his hand in the center of the room as if offering it up like a couch at the center of a huddle. "We stand united or we will surely die." One by one, each hand in the room placed itself on top on the demon's right hand. "Good." A bolt of electricity surged through the room and Noah, Alyssa, Mom, Dad and their new friend Paul found themselves in what looked like an abandoned warehouse decorated in occult symbols. "Are we there yet?" Nergal asked in a teasing fashion.

A group of four people approached them. "What the Hell?" the one dressed like Elvis said as they looked them over. The other three were men dressed in Presidential maskes. Nergal appeared behind Elvis in an attempt to intimidate him. "Nergal, I presume." A look of confusion crossed Nergal's face. Elvis smiled. "I'm sorry." Elvis grabbed Nergal by the throat. "Is my intangibility interfering with your powers." Elvis made a tsk-tsk noise. "Too bad."

Elvis pointed at the ritual symbols adorning the walls. "I bet all these symbols with your true name written in Old Atlantean can't be helping you much either." Nergal lunged his open right hand at Elvis as if expecting something to happen. "Morrigan may not be free but she can still whisper to me."

Elvis shook his head as the other President tied Nergal up. "Why did you even bother coming?" Elvis paced around Nergal. "Didn't you have some butt monkey you could have attended this shindig for you." Elvis pointed at his men. "Who are these idiots you brought here?" A tremor of fear shot down Noah's spine when he realized he couldn't move. In fact, judging by everyone else's lack of movement, nobody could move. "They are powerless against me." Elvis tilted his head to one side and looked at Nergal. "I am not being rhetoric here. If you have answers, I would like to hear them."

Nergal smirked. "What you are doing is evil." Elvis nodded with pride. "Morrigan cannot be controlled." Nergal's eyes widened. "She is a force of death and destruction. Her imprisonment, unlike mine, was a just act to prevent the destruction of a world even Hell needs in order to survive." Nergal stared at the center of the ritual space. "If you do this, Morrigan will not answer your prayers. She will destroy you the moment she has her freedom."

Elvis shook his head and leaned into right arm as it smashed into Nergal's human face. "You couldn't be anymore wrong." Elvis clicked his fingers. Obama left the room for a moment and came back with a bottle blonde light-skinned Hispanic woman in his clutches. "Morrigan is a complicated woman." Elvis smirked. "You tried to woo her yourself. She gave you the one-time gift to be able to turn the undead back into the living. Indeed, she knows that spell is her only bargaining chip. If she wants her freedom in exchange for the spell, I am ready to accept those terms."

Noah could feel his head spinning. Here, Dennis Hooverman, dressed as Elvis, talking like a Harvard professor giving a lecture, was weighing the pros and cons of summoning a goddess of death. And for what? So he could be human again? If he was willing to endanger the entire human race for that privilege, then how human could he have ever had? "Okay, boys, let's get this show on the road," Elvis said returning to his Elvis voice.

A chorus of guttural noises escaped Elvis' lungs as he held a giant blade in the air. The woman struggled as Elvis approached her. The ground quaked as Elvis drew closer to her prey. A sickly reddish glow irradiated from the center of the ritual space. It was Morrigan, begging to be set free. Noah could hear her voice in his head.

Shots rang out through the room. Two bullets went through Elvis' back and out his chest. He stared down at the wounds. "Impossible." He looked over at Clinton pointing at gun at him. He took off his mask, revealing a twenty-year-old man with scruffy brown hair. "Et tu, Henry." Elvis reached for a derringer in his ankle. Henry fired again this time into one of his knees. "What the Hell, Hank?" Elvis gritted his teeth. "You were the good one."

Henry pointed the gun at his head. "I am the good one." Elvis struggled to stay on his feet. "Listen, I was okay with all this." Hank looked over at the girl Obama had brought him bound and gagged. "I was even going to let you kill the girl." Hank looked at the center of the ritual space. "But if a demon says you've gone too far, then, guess what? You've gone too far."

Henry walked up to Elvis and tossed his derringer away. Hank showed him the bullets in his revolver. "Meteoric iron." Elvis smiled at the private joke. "The books said nothing on Earth could touch you in your intangible state." Henry whispered in his right ear. "These babies aren't from Earth so I figured it was worth a shot." Everything froze as Elvis dug his fingers into Hank's chest. Henry dropped the revolver onto the floor. In seconds, Henry the would-be hero was dead.

"Anyone else want to be a hero?" Before he had even regained his bearings from all of his injuries, his right ear exploded into bloody chunks.

"Yeah." Noah stood with the smoking gun in his hands. "Me." Noah fired off the last bullets in the gun. One for each eye socket. "Elvis has left the building."

Noah had guessed, quite correctly, that the spells at work in this room were powered by Dennis' willpower. Once he had taken a few shots, Noah was free to move. Too busy dispensing with his traitor of a friend, Noah had gotten the gun with the magic bullets off the floor when Henry dropped it. This time, he made sure to plug him enough times in the head.

It worked. Obama and Nixon laid on the floor in fetal positions, recovering from the blows to the head Noah had given them. These guys weren't hardened criminals. They weren't fighters. They weren't soldiers. If he had to guess, these guys were just oily nerds who fell in with the wrong crowd of undead geeks and their treacherous butt-monkeys.

In the blink of an eye, Nergal vanished into thin air. Even an ancient demon hadn't figured out he was free until Dennis Hooverman had ceased to exist for the last time.

Paul stood over the body of Dennis Hooverman. "Nachzehrers are stubborn." Paul Utah tossed his Zippo lighter onto the Elvis impersonator. Paul looked around at the crowd of people. "A little fire solves everything," he said with a smile as he took his leave.

Despite the possibility of learning Nergal's true name, the Walkers decided to let Paul Utah's little fire burn through the abandoned warehouse. They rescued the woman, of course, but this place would be in flames by the time police got here and it would be ashes by the time of the firefighters managed to put out the fire. Either way, the possibility of anyone summoning Morrigan was effectively zero as were the odds of Dennis Hooverman coming back to life a second time.

At this point, there would usually be a celebration. The heroes would go to comfort the damsel-in-distress. The mysterious helpers would say good-bye and look forward to their next team-up. Instead, the Walkers vanished into the night after making an anonymous phone call to the police.

The other two Presidents, Nixon and Obama, had already abandoned their two dead friends. The woman, whoever she was, would have a tough time explaining what happened to the police. Hopefully, Dad would pull a few strings and make sure the other Presidents got what was coming to them.

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