Doc Tesseract

The adventures of Greg Silverman, retail industry employee, prospective college student and superhero.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I Stared Down a Demon. What Did You Do Today?

Well, that was an interesting little crisis. It might have gotten me fired, but it was still really interesting.

I'm working at Electromat today when the sigil goes off without warning. I negotiate a bathroom break with Brett, and run off to answer the call. "Quint, what's going on?" I ask in as low a whisper as possible, hoping and praying no one wonders why the guy in the next stall over is talking to himself.

"It's an emergency! Meet me in Manayunk now!"

"But I'm at work! What the hell am I supposed to do?"

"Whatever you can, damnit! Thousands of lives are at stake here!"

Let's see: risk getting fired, or piss off a man who can not only conjure fireballs, but juggle them? Tough decision. I run back to Electromat, and tell Brett I've had a stomach bug all day that just took a turn for the worse. He, in an uncommon show of charity, gives me the rest of the day off, and I port home, get into costume, and port into Manayunk.

"Where are you?" I yell into the sigil.

"Corner of Belmont and Baker! Hurry; we don't have much time!"

I port to the corner of Belmont and Baker... only to see Quint and a bunch of other heroes fighting the most butt-ugly monstrosity I've ever seen. It has two hundred eyes like black holes peering out of a bulbous head, poised on an insectoid carapace. It has four arms and G-d only knows how many legs, all of which end in claws that look like they could rend the Earth in two.

And it hates. I can feel it coming off the beast even from hundreds of feet away. It hates me, it hates Quint, it hates the Earth, it hates G-d, it hates the Devil, it just hates.

And I have to fight it. Yay, me.

I port to the roof of an apartment building near the big nasty to get a closer look. Now I see the other heroes who are fighting with Quint. Lady Liberty, just back in town, and Talon are there, but what surprises me are some of the other guys. There's Hierophant from Boston, and Ghostdancer, who usually patrols the West. This must be bad.

Finally, I port down to street level and enter the fray. "What in the name of God is this thing?" I yell to Quint. The thing notices me, and I just nearly dodge a claw from above.

"Glad to see you joined us," he shouts back. "It's Azazel, the Forgotten Reaper, baron of the Malebolge and a very pissed-off demon. This was what our sorcerer was trying to summon all along."

"So, uh, where is our sorcerer?"

"Serving as a fresh coat of paint in what used to be that apartment complex." Quint points to a building that looks like someone ripped the front off of it. "I think you can help us."

"What can I do? It's not as if..." Then it hits. "You want me to send this thing back to Hell?"

"I want to see if it can be done," Quint said. "We're throwing all we've got at this thing. It seems to be weakening, but as long as it clings to the Northern Eagle Line, it's gonna keep fighting."

"I think I need some help. What exactly does Hell look like?"

"Ah, damn, almost forgot. You ever read Dante's Inferno?"

"Yeah, Sophomore English."

"It's that, but with less fortune tellers, suicides, pagans, etc. Just focus on the geography and you'll be fine. Just wait for our signal first, okay?"

I can only sit there and watch. Hierophant keeps levitating cars and throwing them at the beast, and Lady Liberty manages to rip off a pincer or five, but still the thing stands. Finally, Ghostwalker yells, "Quint, it's losing it!"

"Now, Doc!" With that, I close my eyes and focus on the Cocytus, the Ninth Circle of Hell, an icy lake that gives any student of Mrs. Teller's class full right to act like a jackass and say, "Actually, Hell did freeze over already." There's a mighty roar, like space itself being torn apart, and when I open them, Azazel is gone, and everyone's just staring at me.

Suddenly, there's clapping. Not just from the heroes, but from bystanders who've come to survey the aftermath. And I'm just standing there, feeling like a big damn hero.

Not a bad way to spend the day.


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