The Valerian Invasion - 22

by John Hammersmith

Disclaimer: This is a copyrighted work of fiction.  Any similarity to any actual events or characters, living or deceased, is merely coincidental.  The author of this manuscript reserves all rights.  All illegal copying, distributing or publishing is strictly prohibited.  Only one (1) copy of this text may be downloaded to be read off-line.  ©2000 Panic Attack Productions, Author: John Hammersmith.

Part Twenty-Two

“MEG!” screamed Commander Kari in anxious concern.  “Please, tell me you are all right!” Despite her urgent pleas, the headset still remained completely silent, as it had been for twenty minutes.

Somberly, Lieutenant Tatiana hugged Kari reassuringly, gently rocking her grief-stricken friend in her arms.  In a tender voice, she said, “I’m sorry, Commander Kari.  I think it’s safe to assume Meg and her team have been captured, somehow.”  Delicately wiping away the tears from Kari’s eyes, she added, “Now it’s our turn to fight these evil Valerians, Kari.  Let’s do it for Lady Hydra and Meg!”

Without any warning, the sensitive mood was shattered when a pair of armed guards leapt down into the underground bunker with Kari and Tatiana.  Rushing to secure the area, they both seemed oblivious to the huddled pair around the bend, and Tatiana swiftly held a shushing finger to her lips as she grabbed two stakes from her duffel.  Before Commander Kari could even guess what the tent posts were for, Tatiana quickly stretched a taut line between the two anchors before lunging back to Commander Kari’s position.

Just as the officers came into view, Lieutenant Tatiana sprang out from hiding, instantly surprising the two unwary travelers.  Immediately, the dedicated soldiers gave speedy chase, oblivious to the thin metal tripwire sprawled beneath their feet.  As they toppled awkwardly to the ground, Tatiana summoned Kari and they both disabled each repulsor device before knocking the two guards senseless.

Wasting no time, the two ladies tore off the bulky armor, making certain not to damage any of the intricate electronic devices running all along the surface of each slick and menacing costume.  For Lieutenant Tatiana, the outfit proved to be a solid fit.  However, for Commander Kari, the armor fitted quite loosely, so she decided to pad herself on the inside, thoroughly hoping her petite figure would look convincing inside of the large security suit.

Once properly donning the powerful repulsor shield armor, each lady quickly switched on the repulsor device, effectively offering ample protection against any firepower.  In grim determination, Kari said, “All right, Tatiana, let’s move!”

Quickly, the two disguised teammates crawled out of the deep trench, anxious to assist their brave friends inside.  Walking purposefully, the two disguised adventurers strolled confidently up to the nearby door.  Reaching into her breast pocket, Lieutenant Tatiana produced a shiny keycard.  Sliding the thin, plastic card through the digital locking mechanism, the door instantly unlocked.  Quickly, both ladies journeyed inside the buzzing door, hoping their involvement may help to end the grim charade once and for all.

As they wandered past dozens of other armed officers, they nodded as they slid past, struggling to remain inconspicuous while also trying not to appear too exuberant.  Quickly, one shielded guard said in a gruff tone, “You two are coming with us! Turner needs us downstairs, pronto!”

Without saying a word, both ladies proudly saluted the barking officer.  Instantly, the large group of twenty marched forward until they reached a series of elevators.  As everyone funneled inside, Commander Kari smiled underneath her facemask, absolutely amazed that their deception worked without a hitch.  As they began to swiftly descend, Kari thought adamantly, ‘Remember who you are fighting for, Kari.  Make these bastards pay dearly for capturing Lady Hydra and Meg!’

As soon as the elevator reached the subbasement level, the doors swung open.  Both Kari and Tatiana maintained utterly silent, despite the shocking scene on display before their darting eyes.  In every direction stood either stiff plastic mannequins or shiny platinum statues, all frozen in surprised or seductive poses.  While most of the victims appeared to be female, several of the abnormally attractive mannequins along the floor were in fact male.  Quickly, they all pushed out of the confining elevator to be greeted by a scowling Scientist Turner.  “All right, men,” shouted Turner aggressively.  “I need all of you to split up into two divisions.  The first group will be stationed within the transport room.  The second group will follow me into the control room.  I have reason to believe intruders have invaded both restricted areas, so it shall be each division’s duty to neutralize any unknown threats.  Does everybody understand these commands?”

Exuberantly, all twenty gathered shouted, “Yes, sir!” All of a sudden, Commander Kari tossed a glance to her left, then let out a faint gasp as she saw her buddy, Meg.  Even though the precious Scotswoman was still wearing thick armor on her shapely body, she remained in motionless silence as bustling security guards pressed in around her.

‘Poor Meg,’ thought Kari woefully as she struggled to maintain her focus on the task at hand.  After discretely signaling to Lieutenant Tatiana, they both split up into different divisions, Tatiana taking the transport room assignment, while Commander Kari ventured towards the looming control room, still locked up tightly.

Scientist Turner nodded to his assembled team briefly before jamming a large key into the locked mechanism.  Quickly, a bellowing alarm began to ring out as the door lunged upward, slowly revealing light from the control room beyond.  Suddenly, the thick metal gateway began to buckle outward, the rugged steel collapsing amazingly from inside of the control room.  Quickly, the series of gears inside began to strip, as the calibrated mechanism malfunctioned, no longer able to lift past the bubbled surface of stainless steel.  In pure shock, Turner exclaimed, “Look out, it’s going to blow!” In an instant, everyone leapt away from the pressurized entrance before even larger dents began to appear along the rugged surface of the colossal gate.

Then a massive concussion blast rocked through the underground complex as the weighty door blew off its track, sending shards of jagged metal flying.  Several brawny guards were thrown by the powerful blast, sending them flying before landing with a thud against the floor.  In an instant, all ten of the guards sent to the transport room came running in to assist their comrades, anxiously assessing the situation with dire concern.  Thick clouds of smoke began to seep in from the grinding internal motor as Turner and his guards looked on in absolute revulsion.

Once the smoke cleared, a harmless-looking young woman glided through the gaping entrance, scowling in pure rage.  Quickly, pulsing ripples of bright yellow energy fluctuated around her entire body, like a rippling halo of luminous force.  With vile venom, the mysterious lady yelled, “Your leader, Emperor Titus, is dead.  If you don’t wish to share his grim fate, I suggest you lay down your arms and surrender, immediately.  We are not your enemy, people of Valeria, but we will destroy you if you stand in our way.  Our human allies will be released from their torturous captivity!”

Scientist Turner immediately stepped forward in anger, proclaiming, “What sort of treachery is this! How dare you waft in here, barking orders at us!” Turning to his confused brigade, he bellowed, “Attack her, you fools!”

Several flaming volleys quickly flew through the air, aimed at the intimidating woman hovering just outside of the doorway.  Even the transport room team swooped in to lend a hand, firing dozens of shots from across the room.  The disguised Lieutenant Tatiana and Commander Kari deliberately fired misguided shots at their apparent ally, making certain not to intentionally strike her with any missile blasts.

Raising her left arm into the air, the dominant stranger instantly raised a glowing psychic barrier in front of her targeted position.  Immediately, the multitude of shots ricocheted right back at the stunned horde, dissolving upon contact with the repulsor armor surrounding their bodies.  The entire time, Scientist Turner lurked further from the action, lingering safely towards the rear of the room.  Meanwhile, all of his officers stood simply aghast by the incredible abilities displayed by the rebellious vixen looming over them.

In vile resentment, the naked woman again screamed at the foolish security agents, saying harshly, “I believe you have met your match.”  Raising her left arm into the air, she closed her eyes tensely before waving with a sweeping gesture.  Without delay, all of the combatants that were gathered in front of her floating position began to topple under the force of the violent mental projection.  Like tumbleweeds being tossed aside by the wind, each of the burly soldiers flew across the room with immense force.

In the confusion, Scientist Turner became pinned against the wall, but unlike his loyal officers, he didn’t have the advantage of wearing repulsor shield armor.  As his body pressed violently against the sturdy wall, a security guard clumsily flew into him, paralyzing him in an instant.

Then, to everyone’s complete surprise, one of the shorter guards crawled off of the ground and lifted up a glistening right arm, saying in a low mutter, “Glass.”  In one speedy motion, the slight officer dashed out, immediately reaching out to the motionless Scientist Turner.  As the gloved hand brushed against Turner’s face, he immediately began to alter, glowing intensely as he silently fell under the effect of the aggressive guard’s command.

As the remaining soldiers looked on in astonishment, Scientist Turner’s body began to swiftly lose all color, quickly becoming pale and translucent.  Within moments, his grimacing face began to throw brilliant reflections throughout the room as his handsome mug became nothing more than shimmering curves of pristine glass.  Flowing down his taut neck and shoulders, the transforming wave began to create a deafening ringing sound.  Before long, Turner’s chest and arms succumbed to the glassy alteration, yet to those looking on, only the chiming sound was percievable.  Since Turner was still wearing his flashy blue suit, all visible aspects of his swift change were completely hidden by the sharp-looking threads.  However, the crackling sound swiftly rolled down his helpless body with dedicated efficiency, until all that remained was a unique glass sculpture, dressed in the finest of management apparel.

Loud groans of defeat filled the room as the disoriented officers began to mourn the loss of their esteemed commander.  As they turned their angered focus towards the malicious agent that transformed their leader into unmoving glass, Kari slowly tiptoed backwards, hoping to avoid the wrath of the disgruntled soldiers.  Before they could lash out at poor Commander Kari, the mysterious girl hovered over to the remaining guards, saying abruptly, “Lay down your arms, gentlemen! We don’t mean you any harm, but we will annihilate you if you fail to yield to our wishes.  Slowly place your weapons on the ground and deactivate your armor!”

Everyone, including Commander Kari and Lieutenant Tatiana began to drop their cannons to the ground before switching off their powerful armor.  In futile frustration, each of the warriors raised their hands into the air, quickly surrendering to the stunning woman floating over them.  With a quick mental command, Lieutenant Godiva triggered a reaction within each repulsor unit, effectively rendering every suit of armor utterly harmless, no longer able to be used against them.

In a warm tone, the authoritative lady said, “My name is Lieutenant Godiva.  I promise each and every one of you, I will not harm you unless provoked.  If you follow my directions and offer assistance when needed, I don’t see any reason why you cannot remain here on Earth for as long as you’d like.”  Spinning around effortlessly in mid-air, the silver warrior summoned the rest of her weary crew, saying in excitement, “Eddie? Sergeant Magnum? The area has been secured.”

Offering assistance to the nearly crippled sergeant, Eddie staggered through the decimated doorway.  As Sergeant Magnum wobbled within Eddie’s tight grip, he asked frantically, “Where’s Meg? Is she all right? Please, somebody tell me she’s safe from harm!”

Quickly, the short security guard slid off her helmet, revealing herself to the anxious sergeant.  In a tender tone, Commander Kari said, “Magnum, she’s over here.  She’s been captured, I’m afraid, but we should be able to restore her soon, I hope.”  Pointing to the still figure donning repulsor armor, she walked up to her adorable friend, delicately switching the pulsing armor off before pulling off Meg’s helmet.

“Oh, God!” yelled Magnum as he broke free from Eddie’s grip.  With tenacious effort, he dragged his broken body over to Meg’s location, whimpering despondently as he carefully traced a trembling finger across her hardened face.  With a steady voice, he whispered into his beloved’s ear.  “Don’t worry about a thing, my love.  Scientist Turner and Emperor Titus have been defeated.  Please be patient, darling, and we’ll free you as soon as we possibly can.”  Slowly, the battered sergeant began to remove the constricting uniform from Meg’s stiffened figure, delicately unveiling his adored lover in pure dedication.

Within her unmoving condition, Meg could only watch from her fixed position as Magnum fawned over her in fearful concern.  The very instant she spied his blood-soaked and tear-streaked face, Meg felt rapturous jubilation upon seeing her precious savior.  Yet deep worry also pounded through the paralyzed victim as she studied Sergeant Magnum’s severe wounds.  ‘If only I could move, I could help him,’ pondered Meg helplessly.

While remaining visible to only a select few, the ghost of Lillian McAlistar slid across the sprawling preparation room as she endeavored to investigate the situation in earnest.  Urgently, she called out to Lieutenant Godiva, saying, “All of the guards are currently accounted for, Carrie.  However, we should still keep a watchful eye on the transport room and the elevator, just in case.”

Godiva wasted no time, swiftly nodding her approval to the doting ghost.  As Lieutenant Tatiana lifted the helmet away from her head, Lieutenant Godiva reached out a friendly hand to Commander Kari and Tatiana.  In a warm voice, Godiva said, “I’m Lieutenant Godiva.  I understand you both took good care of Sergeant Magnum.”

Smiling proudly, Kari replied, “Oh, yeah, he was pretty beat up when we first discovered him.  But to be truthful, Sergeant Magnum has saved us all dozens of times since.  He’s one helluva warrior! And a masterful strategist!” With a warm smile, Kari introduced Tatiana and herself to the silver warrior.

Lieutenant Tatiana studied her concerned teammate, Magnum, still grieving over the stiffened condition of his romantic obsession, Meg.  With a delicate voice, the Russian beauty said, “The first time I met Magnum, he saved my friend, Lady Hydra and myself from a wicked lady named Plastique.  If he hadn’t shown up when he did, I’m certain she would’ve transformed us both into mannequins.”  In pure admiration, Tatiana concluded, “He’s a first rate officer.”

Lieutenant Godiva beamed as she heard how much of an impact her buddy, Magnum had made on the lives of these two brave ladies.  As she lowered herself to the ground in front of the reminiscing pair, she said, “I’ve always been extremely proud to work with Magnum.  His bravery and resilience are a shining example for us all to follow.”  After sharing a gracious hug with Kari and Tatiana, Lieutenant Godiva asked, “Would you two be willing to stand guard in the transport room? We still need to remain extremely cautious, and I don’t want any guards sneaking up on us now that we’ve secured the area.”

Commander Kari instantly saluted the radiant woman, grabbing Lieutenant Tatiana by the arm as she headed towards the distant transport room.  Already, twenty women were gathered fearfully inside, truly concerned by the brutal battle recently concluded.  Commander Kari quickly addressed the weary damsels, endeavoring to put their minds at rest.  Slowly, the antsy women began to calm down, as they understood the situation in full detail.

Back in the preparation room, the noble team of liberators struggled to organize, hoping to begin the lengthy process of restoration that would bring precious life back to the hundreds of trapped competitors.  Eventually, as Sergeant Magnum returned from his mournful state of mind, Lillian introduced herself to the broken sergeant.  While definitely surprised by the wispy ally, Magnum didn’t show any fear as he gratefully thanked the mortally departed spirit for her dedicated assistance throughout the duration of their desperate quest.

As the survivors discussed the best strategy for bringing the situation to a successful conclusion, the entire complex began to quake violently as a loud roaring sound began to drift in from the control room.  All around them they could see dozens of delicately balanced mannequins teetering, their stiffened muscles unable to adjust to the quivering motions rolling up from the ground.  Quite a few of the captured ladies did topple to the solid floor, but fortunately their plastic bodies proved to be rugged.  None of the rigid ladies split apart or cracked from the force of the brutal concussion.  In an instant, everyone inside of the transport room came running out into the preparation room, hastily trying to comprehend what was causing the disruptive disturbance.  In shock and surprise, Eddie exclaimed, “Now what?”

Suddenly, a small screen embedded in the wall powered up, revealing a well-dressed man sitting behind a cherry wood desk.  As the tremors began to increase, the ghost of Lillian McAlistar screamed in a rage, “Sweet mercy! That’s him!”

Instantly recognizing fearful anger in Lillian’s expression, Eddie projected to the beautiful ghost, asking concernedly, “What’s wrong, Lillian?”

Before Lillian could calm down enough to elaborate, the man began to speak.  “Hello, adventurers.  Please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Stephen Davis, CEO of the Nil Corporation.”  Immediately, Eddie, Niko and Godiva let out a gasp as they stared into the conniving face of Lillian’s partner and executioner.  With a smug smile planted on his lips, the wicked executive continued.  “First, I would like to thank all of you for making Pure Adrenaline such a financial success for myself and my shareholders.  We couldn’t have done it without you!”

Sergeant Magnum howled in fury as he cursed this madman, the one truly responsible for their agonizing plight and Meg’s unfortunate capture.  Eddie immediately remembered to capture the scene for posterity, depressing the record button in haste as he aimed the lens at the flickering screen.  ‘I can’t believe he’s still alive,’ thought Eddie as he stared at Lillian’s killer resentfully.

Without further delay, Stephen Davis said, “Several months ago, we discovered an emergency beacon emanating from the surface of Io, a moon orbiting Jupiter.  It took quite some time for our scientists to decipher the cryptic message radiating from the surface, but eventually we learned that an advanced race of beings were marooned on the desolate planet.  Being a concerned philanthropist, I decided to send an excursion team to assist the Valerians, merely hoping to save them from any potential harm.”

“Yeah, right!” screamed Godiva in wrath.  “You decided to save them out of the goodness of your heart,” quipped the sarcastic woman in annoyance.

Immediately, Davis pouted, saying dejectedly, “That hurts.  Your words wound me, little girl.”  With a slight chuckle, the well-groomed man continued.  “As you’ve probably guessed, our rescue mission proved to be a phenomenal success.  Once the survivors were delivered to Earth, the linguistics department spent several weeks teaching them our language and customs, hoping to help them to acclimate to our culture.  Before long, the adaptive aliens could effectively communicate with us, learning at an incredible rate of speed.”  Unceremoniously, the arrogant man plunged a green button on his desk as he winked to the fearful people watching him on the screen.

The small group of soldiers gathered along the wall cheered in celebration, proudly displaying their admiration for Stephen Davis, their newfound savior.  Meanwhile, the humans huddled around the meager screen gasped as they felt the ground beneath their feet lifting with great force, surging upward with immense might.  Tossing a weary glance to the transport room, Lieutenant Godiva suddenly noticed the once level corridor was beginning to shift; the preparation room now loomed several feet higher than the transport room.  Quickly, a heavy metal door began to lower, hissing loudly before slamming shut, completely sealing off the preparation room in an instant.

Outside of the massive domed structure, a significant change promptly occurred.  Wild sirens rang out and bright yellow beacons flashed, signaling the first phase of departure.  On the ground, dozens of soldiers and workers scurried about frantically, clamoring to enter the altering compound before thousands of gallons of water seeped in from above.  Likewise, all personnel located within the loading dock instantly fled to safety further inside, well aware of the dire consequences should they fail to immediately relocate.  After a few moments, several heavy doors clamped down throughout the building, quickly sealing and pressurizing the hidden spacecraft loaded inside.  Then, the entire roof of the building swiftly began to retract, and the nose of a ship began to barely peak out from the hollowed out ceiling.

To the unfortunate few that failed to head the ominous warnings, a watery grave awaited.  For as soon as the massive ceiling began to pull back, several tons of salt water poured down from above, violently crushing everything within its path.  Large and small sea creatures flailed about as they found themselves suddenly plummeting, dropping nearly a hundred feet straight down.  Before long, most of the cavern was completely filled with salty ocean.  Poor Lady Hydra, still posed and secured to the floor of the cave, could only look on in horror as she found her gilded body becoming totally immersed in dark seawater.

Within Orientation, a loud rumbling sound could be heard as the ground shook with persistent tremors.  All of the ladies gathered within the photography studio looked on in shock as a blubbering trickle of water began to pulse up from the transport tube in the center of the room.  The two ladies perched on top instantly leapt off of the strange device as soon as they felt the cold water lapping at their legs.  Without any hesitation, each woman fled from the safety of the locked workroom, quickly scurrying outside to catch a glimpse of the commotion.  Likewise, the overworked support staff in Orientation dropped everything as they fled, hoping to witness the grand rebirth of the Valerian Empire.

Still anchored just off the island coast, the sprawling ocean liner bobbed precariously as the waters beneath lunged with tremendous force.  Huge whitecaps sprayed salty mist everywhere as the once tranquil lagoon began to rock with violent might.  Even though the sky remained clear and blue, to the unfortunate few still waiting to be escorted ashore, it felt like a wild hurricane was blowing the ten ton ship like a paper sailboat.

Then, in an instant, the large domed structure began to invert as it surged upward.  Large wedges of stainless steel began to poke through the water’s surface, eventually spreading open once becoming exhumed from the rocking waters.  In the center of the grinding commotion perched a massive rocket, secured firmly at the nose and base.  With a mighty splash, the separating slices of silver metal immediately began to form a floating launching pad.  All along the distant shore, groups of Valerian workers hooted and hollered in excitement, graciously celebrating their comrades’ clandestine journey home.  In stark contrast, a large gathering of human contestants gasped in horror as they saw the mysterious rocket looming on the horizon, confusion and fear quickly rolling over their facial features as they looked on in shock.  Slowly, the cascading waves began to still as the speedy and unexpected mechanical conversion reached a conclusion.

After waiting for the excitement to still, Davis continued with confidence, “Once we had achieved a common language, I sat down with Emperor Titus, hoping to strike a bargain with the Valerian people.  Eventually, we reached a mutually beneficial arrangement.  The Valerians would provide their extensive scientific discoveries and technologies exclusively to the Nil Corporation in exchange for transport back to the planet Valeria.”

“You traitorous fiend!” screamed Commander Kari in disgust.

“Oh, come on.  Don’t be such sore losers,” mocked Stephen Davis from his undisclosed location.  “A few hundred lives are a small price to pay for the significant scientific knowledge acquired over the past few months.  I mean, let’s face it, none of you are going to discover a cure for cancer, are you? How about engineering new life forms, or creating new, more durable metal alloys? I doubt any of you are capable of achieving any of these advances, no matter how diligently you struggled to try.  This way, you can feel confident that you’ve been able to help your fellow humans to live more trouble free lives for many years to come.”

“But at what price?” replied Lieutenant Godiva in a fury.  “I’m certain the Nil Corporation plans to make a hefty profit from your ill-gotten formulas and cures!”

Giggling like a small child, Stephen Davis responded, “So much the better.”

Sergeant Magnum immediately pleaded with the cruel man, saying in a huff, “But we already killed Emperor Titus.  Why do you insist on following through with his vicious plan?”

“So ignorant,” bellowed Davis as he groaned.  “Don’t you get it? It makes no difference that Titus is dead.  By mutual agreement, all of the data to be collected will be transmitted the instant I press the launch button.  Apparently, Emperor Titus didn’t trust me enough to hand over his knowledge outright from the beginning.”  Slowly, the evil corporate madman laughed wildly, taking extreme pleasure in seeing his victims squirm.  “Besides, in order to eliminate any trace of impropriety or misconduct by the Nil Corporation, it’s imperative that the spaceship be launched.  I plan on covering my tracks.”

As the bitter executive continued to mock and berate them, Lillian scowled in pure infuriation.  Eddie immediately sensed her desire to rectify the situation.  With a determined outlook, he projected, “You can reach him, can’t you? Take me with you! I’ll wipe that smile off of his miserable face! Let me avenge your death, Lillian!”

Lillian smiled wearily to her brave companion.  As Eddie handed his camera to Lieutenant Tatiana, Lillian reached out her spirit, gently making contact with Eddie’s mortal aura.  Just as before, he began to pale before becoming invisible, fully wrapped up within Lillian’s resolute soul.  Once completely mystified, Lillian nodded assuredly to her dedicated friend before lunging into the flickering screen.

Eddie screamed in pure terror as they sped through the intricate electronic device.  Quickly feeling like a launched electron inside of a particle excellerator, he spun around the delicate circuitry, pulled by Lillian’s expert guidance.  In a millisecond, they followed the conduit to an external satellite dish aimed at a distant device circling the globe. “Hang on!” screamed Lillian as they felt themselves propelled at the speed of light, launching at blinding speeds towards the orbiting satellite.  As they cleared the atmosphere, Eddie gasped as he saw his first glimpse of outer space.

“Amazing,” projected Eddie in awe, but his tranquil sense of wonder only lasted a brief instant.  For as soon as they reached the Nil Corporation’s private satellite, they immediately hurled back to the Earth’s surface.  Eddie howled in abject horror, as the ground seemed to loom larger with every passing second.  More intense than any falling nightmare he’d ever experienced, Eddie struggled to remain calm as they descended, eventually nearing the Australian continent.  Before he could even prepare for it, he found himself dropping faster than a skydiver without a parachute, eventually slamming into another satellite dish on top of a towering building, then through a sprawling digital cable.  Following the path to the source, Lillian quickly led Eddie into a large camera perched on top of a sturdy tripod.

As they ventured away from the holograph camera, they could see the dastardly Stephen Davis watching a small screen, savoring the angered screams emanating from the distant Valerian headquarters.  With a maniacal laugh, Davis screamed, “So, as the chief executive officer of the Pure Adrenaline planning committee, I’d like to congratulate each of you for participating in the most extensive game ever created.  But, as you know, every game has a loser I’m afraid, and your moment of defeat is at hand.”  Still toying with the fear-struck competitors, he wiggled his finger playfully over the red button as he laughed boisterously.

Suddenly, to Stephen Davis’ absolute bewilderment, a menacing face appeared from out of nowhere.  “This is for Lillian, you murdering bastard!” Summoning every bitter ounce of aggression and rage, Eddie slammed his forehead into Davis’, instantly knocking him back in his swiveling chair.  Plumes of red blood began to gush from the executive’s nose, coating his five thousand-dollar suit instantaneously.  Wasting no time, Eddie continued to pummel the sinister wretch, throwing blow after blow at the stunned man’s twisted face.

As Davis twitched in pain and revulsion, he could suddenly see a ghostly vision coming into view.  It was difficult to make out at first, but as the mist slowly began to take on a shape, he felt a twinge in his stomach as he began see a familiar face drifting over him.  With thick bile in her throat, Lillian screamed, “Remember me, asshole?” A soft whimpering sound slipped out of his mouth as he studied the vengeful face of his former partner.  “You sick twist! You honestly thought you could kill me in cold blood and not suffer any consequences, didn’t you?”

“L-L-Lillian?” stammered the conniving man in absolute fear.  Then, to his utter dismay, more ghostly spirits began to descend, looming over him with grim determination.  Instantly recognizing dozens of innocent people he had ordered to be killed over the years, he screamed in regretful terror.  “But, this isn’t possible,” muttered the wicked man in denial.

The haunting faces began to rotate around him as he struggled to flee from the accusing expressions closing in on him.  Pressing in tighter, they began to chant, “Now is your time to die.”  Unable to tear his face away from the avenging spirits, he stumbled briefly before falling.  Crawling on his knees, he begged for mercy, but no clemency would be allowed.  “Die, Davis, die!” urged the mysterious voices with greater intensity.

“Stop!” hollered Davis as he swung his arms wildly, hoping to halt the barrage of negative ghouls picking him apart.  However, his fierce jabs failed to connect, and he began to spin out of control.  Before he could steady himself, he plunged into a sparkling window, shattering the pristine glass into a thousand pieces.  With a scream pulled from the bowels of his wretched soul, he fell, dropping like a cannonball from his lofty office window.  From eighty stories up, his broken body slammed into the glassy tower many times as he toppled, his feeble body becoming brutally thrown by the gale force winds whipping through the downtown region.  Many of the angered spirits followed him down, continuing to taut him until his body crashed into the concrete ground below.  His lifeless corpse bounced several times after the initial impact, until all that remained was a jumbled heap of tattered bones and blood-soaked clothes.

As several appalled screams floated in through the window, Eddie ran around the abandoned desk expeditiously, struggling to understand the nature of the rigged control panel resting on the cherry tabletop.  After a few minutes of careful analysis, he grabbed a nearby letter opener, slicing the black cable leading into the back of the silver remote box.  Slumping back in the comfortable chair, he sighed out of pure relief, certain that the mysterious contraption had been effectively deactivated.  From the nearby screen, he could hear his compatriots howling their enthusiastic approval.

Lillian gracefully returned to Eddie’s side, feeling warm liberation knowing that her mortal enemy had been finally vanquished.  With a soothing voice, she said, “That horrible man finally received proper punishment for snuffing me out like a rabid dog.  I can’t thank you enough for offering you assistance to me, Eddie.  For many years after my death, I felt truly despondent and helpless, knowing I couldn’t bring my executioner to justice.  I feel like a massive weight has been lifted from my heart.”

Eddie rose from his chair as he bowed sympathetically.  With a tender tone, he replied, “I wish I could have been there to protect you so many years ago, Lillian.  I can only imagine how much better the world would be with you still in it.”

If a ghost were capable of blushing, Lillian most assuredly would have as she stared longingly at her mortal companion.  Gently reaching out a glowing appendage, she softly touched his spirit with her tiny hand, effectively cloaking him within her mystic powers once more.  As she pulled him back into the humming camera, she whispered, “I may only be a bodiless ghost, but you know just how to make me glow like a content woman, Eddie.  I feel whole again, and I will never fail to remember your kind support.”

To be continued...

On to Part Twenty-Three

Return to the Story Archive