By wildvine 13 Comments
"What's going on now?" Ellen Sallis murmured into the phone, not believing what she was hearing. "Are you telling me Ted is still alive?" The thought made her feel all kinds of conflicted, her stomach fluttered uneasily.
"We're not entirely sure." The AIM agent on the phone replied. "It could be him. Or maybe just his consciousness imprinted on the form. Was your husband a mutant ma'me?"
"I don't know. I don't think so."
"Its okay ma'me. The world has become much more tolerant towards mutants---"
"Ted wasn't a mutant. He was just a man, and he died! They found his car in the swamp."
"And no body was ever recovered." The agent replied, his patience wearing off quickly. "There have been a number of sightings of a hulk-like creature in an almost direct line from the Florida Everglades to New York. Now we've intercepted sightings of 'something' similar in appearance haunting the sewer system. It can't be a coincidence. Sallis, or something that thinks it's Sallis. What would Sallis be doing in New York?" The agent asked, knowing the answer.
"It's coming for me?" The phone nearly dropped from her shaky hand. "This isn't an Poe story! People don't come back for revenge!" She could hear the panic in her voice, but was helpless stop it.
"This can be turned to our advantage." The agent replied. "If its coming to you, then we'll be waiting for it."
* * *
After some discussion, Mercy and lance had decided to explore the tunnel opposite of the shifty jumpsuit guy. "What are you going to do if you find something? Interview it?"
"That would make for a hell of a story." She replied, stepping around a moist pile of 'something.' "I'll settle for an exclusive photo though." They walked in silence for a bit, concentrating on their footsteps. As she walked, Mercy became aware of another smell. Kinda earthy, but rotten. Like decomposing compost. It seemed out of place. Not exactly pleasant, but definitely a step up from the other smell. "Do you smell that?" She asked.
"I don't think I'll ever smell anything again." He grumbled.
But she was already turning down a dim lite side tunnel, following the odd smell. "Hey! Don't get so far ahead." He called, walking as fast as he dared on the grubby floor to catch up.
What they found was far from what either had expected to see.
The tunnel ended in a dead end. Mud was piled up in big heaps. Growing from the heaps were the pretties flowers Mercy had ever seen. "Monster gardener?" Lance snapped off a few pictures. "Not as sensational as killer monster. Maybe the nove--" Thunk!
"What?" Mercy looked back absently, already writing the story in her head. Lance was on the ground, the maintenance guy from before, holding a heavy duty flashlight.
"This just in. Reporter and sidekick disappear in the sewers. Maybe she should have taken the hint and left."
"Oh please. You think you're the first goon to threaten me? I was born in this city." She felt around in her purse discreetly for her taser. She was a little scared, but hid it well. "So what? You work for some shady group, and you're covering up the creatures existence?"
"Not quiet. The truth, as they say, is stranger then fiction." He stepped closer to Mercy.
* * *
Man-Thing felt the fear. It was slight, but stinging, and getting worse. It rose up from water silently behind a human. Another saw him, and her fear rose from annoying to painful. Man-Thing grabbed the human from behind, only to be assaulted by its sudden fear. Man-Thing tosses the human across the tunnel with one hand. Its scream was silenced as it hit the wall with a wet cracking sound.
Man-Thing turned to the woman, her fear like daggers in its chest. It reached its hand out, strange pores opening to release bio reactive chemicals.
'Okay Liddle. Here's your story. Do your job.' She thought too herself. She took three slow breaths to calm herself. Then, "Mercy Liddle, from the Daily Bugle. Can I get an interview?"
The human female was talking to it. Her fear, while not gone, was retreating. Man-Thing slowly lowered its hand again.
The monster stood very still, maybe confused. It was as big as reported. almost seven feet tall. Its large eyes were indeed a dark red color. "Um, can you understand me? Thanks for saving me." No reaction from the monster. "I bet you have a story, shame you don't seem to talk." She was feeling much more calm, despite the weirdness of the situation.
The monster reached out one massive hand, opened palm up, obviously an invitation. Mercy nervously put her hand in the monsters. If it wanted to hurt her, it would. It reached out its other hand, and touched two fingers to her forehead. And suddenly she knew its story. How it had been a doctor named Ted Sallis, how his wife had betrayed him. How he had became this thing. She even knew the creature itself had almost human memories. That these images were called up for her, and would just as quickly vanish again.
She also understood what it was doing here. Maybe she could have stalled it, distracted it from its mission. But it would only be that, a delay. She watched as it left, silently. At the last minute she remembered to get a picture, and snapped off a fast one.
* * *
Ellen Sallis sat in the living room, as calm as she could be. The sound the glass shower stall breaking made her jump a little. "Stay calm." A voice said through her earpiece. She nodded, even though no one could see it. She watched as something from a Lovecraft story walked from the bathroom, trailing glass and filthy footsteps.
"Ted.." She began, surprised by the sudden wave of emotion she felt. AIM agents came in from the hallway, the bedroom, and the window. The first one sprayed Man-Thing with a blue liquid.
"Pheromone blocker administ-- Ahhhhhh!" He called out, before he was grabbed and tossed at the window, taking out another agent with him.
"Creature is partially neutralized. Light up the Christmas tree." Team leader ordered. Two agents approached from the front, and back of Man-Thing holding heavy duty stun prods. "Engage the target." One agent slammed the stun rod across Man-Thing's 'face' while the other jammed a stun rod into its lower back, to no obvious affect.
Man-Thing swung back, striking the agent behind him, and sent the agent flying backward and through a wall. Man-Thing reached forward and clutched the other agents head, and squeezed until he stopped screaming. Man-Thing released the limp form to drop to the floor. The team leader had vanished. Man-Thing turned to the couch Ellen Sallis was hiding behind.
"Why did you run?" She asked, standing up. "Why didn't you just give them the serum? We could have had a good life together!" Man-Thing stepped closer, one hand raised. But something was wrong. The blue liquid had numbed some sense in it. "Do you think I haven't punished myself enough since you disappeared? Do I deserve some final judgement? What about your son?" She asked, crying now. Man-Thing was suddenly aware of another life in the room. One that felt no emotion at all. It gently touched her belly.
The lack of emotion soothed it, but it sensed humans coming. attracted by the fight. But it held for just a moment, touching her belly, feeling a connection it couldn't understand.
* * *
A few days later:
Mercy sat at her computer, starring at the story she had painstakingly written. There really was a monster in the sewers. Or had been, rather. She had a feeling it had moved on, having accomplished its purpose here. At least, she hoped it had moved on.
Andrew Forson let the phone ring twice before picking up. "Status report." He ordered. Various video screens reflected off his visors.
"Mission fail." The team leader replied. "Subject possessed greater strength levels then anticipated. The pheromone blocker worked great. That should make the chem boys happy." Forson was not amused.
"Losses?" Forson asked.
"Only one casualty. The rest of the team sustained heavy injuries. Stun prods were completely ineffective."
"Form a new team. This time take some harmonic displacers. Any casualties are acceptable. That creature is the property of AIM. Project Gladiator depends on retrieving it. Don't fail AIM agent." Forson hung up without waiting for a reply.