The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions)
I Want You (She's So Heavy)
Al Bruno III
The chase continued up one side of Route d'abbaye and back down the other. Jason Magwier always led them to the right place but never at the right time...
The building at 411 Route d'abbaye was long and squat, once it had been a school for the underprivileged but now the windows were bricked over and the fire exits had been welded shut. The only way in or out was through the heavily secured and well guarded main doors.
Now those doors were torn from their hinges and the guards were dead.
Zeth had looped a length of dirty rope around the long hilt of Maxwell’s silver hammer and slung it over one shoulder. He fidgeted and fussed with it as he spoke, “This is getting monotonous.”
“And terrifying,” Lorelei added as Magwier led them inside.
The former schoolhouse had been extensively remodeled, the walls leveled and an industrial sized kiln installed where the cafeteria had been. Rows of steel benches filled the rest of the work area, each one held an ugly-looking, half-completed idol.
Zeth asked, “What went on here?”
“This was a sweatshop of sorts,” Magwier grabbed up one of the statuettes and examined it. It was eight or nine inches tall and vaguely human shaped, with a head that looked like a bloated hand and arms that coiled like snakes, “They make bootleg religious icons.”
Lorelei took the idol from him and frowned at it, “They?”
“Children. Paid pennies a day,” Magwier took the statuette back from her, “and you can tell. This doesn’t look anything like him.”
For a few moments Lorelei tried to imagine what it would be like to spend hour after our in this sunless place- the roaring heat of the kiln, the endless monotony of the work, the joylessness of a desecrated childhood. It made her feel angry and helpless.
The sweatshop’s office was on the second floor but somehow the stairway had been reduced to splinters.
They stood there staring up at the doorway, it was almost five feet above them. Magwier looked around the room thoughtfully, then handed the ugly idol to Zeth. “Come on my dear,” he held his arms out, “I’ll give you a boost.”
Lorelei groaned with exasperation, “One of these days we have got to invest in a rope ladder.” Once she was up she scrambled into the office on all fours, “I see a body!”
“I want you-” Magwier called after her and then suddenly paused. He rubbed his shoulder and whispered conspiratorially to Zeth, “...she's so heavy.”
“What was that?” Lorelei shouted down.
“I said I want you to catch this!” Magwier shouted back.
The idol flew up into her hands. Then Zeth half-boosted, half-threw Magwier up through the doorway. Magwier barely had time to get out of the way before the tall black man leapt up through the doorway and landed with catlike grace. He shifted the hammer slung over his shoulder back into place.
The office itself was cramped and opulent with fine paintings and a mahogany desk with gold trim. There were exotic plants in each corner of the room and a walk in humidor with an airtight sealed glass door. In the middle of it was the body, lying there unmarked and serene with its hands folded over its chest, “He looks so peaceful,” Lorelei observed. This was one of the Lunts all right, there was no mistaking those features so regal yet so inbred, “He looks like he died in his sleep.
“We sure he didn't?” Zeth asked.
Magwier had the statuette again, he was tossing it from one hand to the other, “Blackwell Lunt must have submitted quietly. Dr. Flesh can be merciful so long as you don't make him exert himself.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
Lorelei snorted to herself and turned away, “So much for a dramatic rescue.”
If she hadn’t turned away she would never have seen the knot of shapes beginning to drop and slither down from the ceiling of the sweatshop’s main room.
“Jason!” she screamed.
As the shapes continued to bleed and ooze down onto the floor they realized that it wasn’t a group of attackers they were facing but a single gelatinous mass.
Now it was Zeth’s turn to shout, “Cream-colored Christ!”
It surged towards the office, making a sound like surf crashing against rocks. Shapes rose up and bubbled back down, rubbery arms and half finished faces churned in the seething mass. It swept up each of the tables before it and tore them to pieces then it began to rise up, moving towards the office in a wave.
Suddenly Magwier was in the doorway. “What is the meaning of this?” he bellowed, his voice louder than it should have been. It boomed, “Why aren’t you working?”
The thing froze in place with a shudder. Faces bubbled up like pustules, each one clouding with confusion.
Magwier held up the idol, “Look at this shoddy workmanship! You expect me to pay your families for garbage like this? I’ll see them out in the streets! I’ll see you all in chains!”
Lorelei and Zeth exchanged horrified glances. Magwier threw the statuette. It shattered. The shape splashed backwards splattering itself against the far wall and squealing with a dozen voices.
“You did it,” Zeth gasped. He hadn’t even realized he’d been holding his breath.
Lorelei asked, “What was that?”
“A little gift from Dr. Flesh,” Magwier narrowed his eyes.
Zeth said, “I thought you said he didn’t like to exert himself.”
“But what was it?” Lorelei asked again. She was shaking all over and hated herself for it.
“It was the children,” Magwier’s said, “what’s left of them anyway. Now we’ve got about 45 seconds before it realizes its been tricked. To the humidor!”