Monday, July 7, 2014
All Hellephant Breaks Loose
Ewan and Deuce made it out of Morloxian’s lab without trouble. By now the place was practically deserted. Even the Tiger Yakuza had vacated the premises.Everybody, it seemed, had heard that weird roar from behind the metal doors. Nobody wanted to stick around to find out what had made it.
Ewan charged outside, back onto the mini golf course, and stared around. “Which way’s the—”
The sod covering the old swimming pool had scrunched back to reveal a metal hatch, now almost completely open. Loading dock, Ewan thought. So that’s how they got all the big stuff in there.
Suddenly a huge furry trunk and a pair of curved ivory tusks thrust up through the opening. That horrible trumpet/roar sounded again, this time with no doors to blunt it. This was accompanied by the shriek of metal as the rest of the impatient beast shouldered its way out of its underground holding pen and into the light.
Behind him, Deuce swallowed a howl of alarm. Ewan, who saw stuff like this at the movies every weekend, just stared.
The thing that thrust itself to freedom wasn’t quite a mammoth, in spite of the trunk and the tusks and a giant bulk that made the statue of Godzilla look like the Geico gecko. Its huge ears came to points and sat too far up on its skull. Its feet, the size of manhole covers, had claws. A wolf’s tail sprouted out of its backside. Its shaggy pelt was brownish blond. It looked like something out of Ice Age, if Manny and Diego had a kid.
It had blue eyes. Human eyes
Ewan’s gut dropped into his undies. All of a sudden he knew what had happened to Freddy.
Even that wasn’t the worst of it. Freddy had passengers. A mutant werewolf crouched on his neck. The fella with the mismatched limbs and bad body haircut had to be the Doctor.
Between them, clutching at the mammoth’s pelt to keep from falling off, was Maureen. Her scream was lost beneath another roar from the mammoth.
The beast paid no attention to them, or to the humans currently fleeing Uncle Fuddy’s Funland. It swung about and lumbered toward the highway, picking up speed as it moved.
“Lupa help us,” Deuce moaned. “What do we do?”
Ewan’s hard stare never left Maureen. “We bring him down.”
“With what? I doubt if Dante left a bazooka in his car.”
“Then we improvise. Is there a gun store around here?”
Deuce shrugged. “It wouldn’t be Montana if there wasn’t.”
“Let’s go, then. I’ll drive. You call Dante, tell him we got us a big problem.” Screams and the squeal of brakes told them the Freddyphant had reached the highway. “I don’t think we’re going to lose him.”
They ran for the car. Behind them, a shaking human teenager was recording it all on his cell phone. “Dude,” he said, “you won’t believe this. This course has some serious hazards.”
# # #
Maureen dug her fingers into the mammoth’s pelt all the way up to the knuckles and still didn’t hit skin. She lay flat across the monster’s back and tried not to think about what kind of loud, wet noise she’d make if she tumbled off. It had started off at a gut-shaking lurch, but its gait seemed to be smoothing out with practice. This was a positive thing. The beast sounded really pissed off. She didn’t want to annoy it further by ralphing into its hair.
“Whooo-HOOOOO!” Morloxian pumped a fist in the air. “Look at my baby go! Can I cook, or can’t I? By the way,” he added, much less enthused, “where are we going? You’d better not be taking me to Hancock. I’m guessing my unannounced defection left him a little perturbed.”
The mutant werewolf grinned at him over his shoulder. Maureen tried not to look at his fanged and furry face, tried not to remember he was Pete. “Not Hancock,” he rasped in his rough, bestial voice. “I am to deliverrr you to my lorrrrd.”
“Oh shit. There’s another one? I was afraid of that. I guess that accounts for all those tigers. Well, you tell your lord he can bite me.” Morloxian scrambled up. Before Pete could stop him he leaped for the mammoth’s lupine tail, swung himself down to the tip, and let go.
Maureen didn’t bother to scream. As far as she was concerned, he was now one less problem to deal with. She couldn’t hope for Ewan to rescue her. What could he do against this monster? For that matter, what could she?
Her stomach did a somersault. She clamped her jaw shut and hung on and told herself not to think about Pete’s hideous transformation, or how far below her the ground was, or how much worse things were liable to get once Dumbozilla here finally stopped. It really, really sucked to be the group girl in these circumstances.
# # #
Morloxian timed his fall perfectly. He landed in the moat surrounding Dracula’s castle. The scummy water was just deep enough to save him from serious injury. Almost. He tried to stand and his ankle buckled. He went down butt-first in the water.
“Son of a bitch,” he said philosophically. Now he’d have to find another sponsor, build another lab. Great-Uncle Franz’s hidden catacombs had served the family well for generations. No chance of salvaging anything now, thanks to that idiot mutant mutt running off with a giant hairy, walking billboard. If Hancock didn’t come after him, some other shifter was bound to.
Maybe he’d head for New York, for the Catskills. He still had family out there.
“Well, well, ladies. Look what we’ve got here.”
He jerked his head up. His captive harem had apparently made it out of the lab intact. They’d also armed themselves with the iron putters ditched by the mini golfers. They moved into a ring around him, smiling.
He didn’t like the look of those smiles. No sir.
“Hi, Morry.” Candi bounced the shaft of her putter in her palm. “Mind if we play through?”
He looked at their implacable faces and swallowed. “Oh, bugger,” he said.
The ladies lifted their putters and closed in.
# # #
Ranjeet grumbled to himself, but only briefly. True, he had lost the scientist, Lord Ghan’s primary target. The Yakuza would be following at a discrete distance. They would have seen the Doctor drop off. No doubt they had collected him already. Besides, it wasn’t as if he was returning to Lord Ghan empty-handed.
The Atcheson wolf-mammoth paused to challenge a tour bus. Ranjeet tugged on his ear until he turned. “Not here,” he crooned in Urdu. “There will be bloodshed and destruction aplenty for you. But not here.” Atcheson trumpeted his frustration, then turned in the direction Ranjeet guided him.
The Ghan family had trained him well. He had learned how to control elephants in his native India, and knew how to manipulate Atcheson from his undercover stint in the group. This hybrid creature was easily steered.
Lord Ghan would be ecstatic. The tiger lord had his own crew of scientists. They would surely glean something from this mammoth offering, and from Ranjeet’s own mutated body, and that of the woman who smelled like a she-wolf, the unexpected prize.
He glanced back at Maureen, her hands knotted desperately in Atcheson’s pelt. She smelled different to him now that he had a wolf’s nose. Enticing. Exciting. He’d never viewed her in that way when he was human, but this new body had other ideas. Feral, primal ideas. Perhaps Lord Ghan would see fit to reward him for the gifts he brought.
The quickest way to his lord’s stronghold was up Route 15, directly through Talbot’s Peak. The beast beneath his feet hungered for destruction. Perhaps it might be wisest to let him run rampant through the shifter town. Drain off some of that massive energy, slake the bloodthirst a bit. Then he’d be more tractable by the time they arrived at the Ghan compound.
He tugged on Atcheson’s ear, and dug his foot-claws into the mammoth’s skull. Atcheson barked and bolted forward, leaving the exit behind, aimed for Talbot’s Peak.