Thursday, June 7, 2012

Two-Gun Kid: When Hell Freezes Over

"You seriously want me to believe that you don't know anything?  Do I look like an idiot to you?"  I was laying it on thick; this guy didn't know anything, but I wanted the word to get around.  Two-Gun Kid is asking, and he means business.

Before he could cry out again, I hit him in the temple with the butt of my pistol.  He drooped forward, unconscious but not dead.  I might be ruthless, but I don't kill without reason.  Not even demons.

Problem is this: two nights before, hell froze over.  Not in the "the day I miss a shot is the day hell freezes over" kinda way, even though that's true too.  I mean, the real hell really froze over.  Doesn't sound like too big a deal if you've not been down the Handbasket Highway, but it is.  The ground got cold and a bunch of plants were dying.  The ocean water got cold and a bunch of fish were dying.  It stays frozen and a whole bunch of people start dying, and that's not a pattern I want to see.  You see, I'm a people myself and I'm partial to being alive.  Always have been, some would call it an addiction.  That's why I go around beating the crap out of demons and shooting up zombies and staring down vampires.  It's not fun and I don't have any want for adventure; it's what I gotta do to stay alive.

I walked out of the backroom and through the bar.  Nobody looked at me; they all seemed real interested in what was in the bottom of their cups.  I started whistling a tune I'd heard at an Irishman's funeral once and walked out the door.  Even before it closed, I heard the sound of a dozen of Satan's lackey's breathing for the first time in minutes.  I smiled; scaring the hell outta demons never gets old.

I walked through Boston, considering my problem.  Hell was frozen, I needed it to not be.  Nobody up here had any answers; all my roughing up had done was grow my reputation a little.  If anything was going to get done, it would be down there.  Now, how to you get to hell without dying?

I must have got some help from the man upstairs, cause without knowing it I ended up in front of the bookstore of Rusty Reynolds.  I knew Rusty from way back, and he was as good with a card catalog as I was with a gun.  If there was a way, he'd find it.

"Rusty!" I said over the bell as I walked inside, "I need to go to hell."

"No surprise there," he said, "I've been saying the same thing for years."

"Laugh it up, Professor.  Can you get me there or not?" I asked him.

"I could probably find something.  Question is, why?" he said.

"Why do you think?  The devil's living the Eskimo dream, and ain't nobody else gonna fix it.  I reckon it's gotta be me." I said.

"I guess it was you that's been cracking the head of every demon between here and Fleet Street?"  he asked me.

"Yeah, for all the good it's been.  Not a one of 'em knew anything about anything."

"Don't scramble them too hard, Matt.  I just got a new batch of demon erotica in, I gotta have someone to sell it to.  This stuff makes the second level of Hell look like a nunnery; the society ladies won't touch it."

"I'll keep your customers safe as babes if you get me where I want to go."

Gamble searched through his books for hours.  I wandered in and out, mostly spent my time at the grease pit diner down the street.  Half a pie and a pot of coffee later, Gamble had found what we needed.

"Here it is," he said,"'The serpent's domain has not one mouth but many.  To guard every mouth, a monastery shall stand, our monks ever ready to defend the Earth from the hordes of Hell.'  From the secret letters of Pope Pius VII.  That's your in, Matt."

Half an hour later I was headed to St. Clements Monastery.  A familiar face met me at the door.

"'Evenin' Father Reynolds."  I said as I tipped my hat.

"Kid, we've known each other since we were both tadpools.  Will you please call me Rusty?"

"I will when you take off that collar, Father."

Father Rusty shook his head.  "What can I do for you, Kid?"

"I need to get to the basement, and I need everyone else to get out."  I quickly explained my plan to him.

When I got to the end, he just said, "I'll be damned if that's not the dumbest thing I ever heard.  You're gonna need someone down there who knows the language."

"You want me to take my priest with me to Hell?" I said.

"The way the protestants tell it, that's where I'm going anyway.  Might as well scope out the landscape.  Besides, without me, you'll have to search for Satan.  I come with you, he'll come collect us in person I'd imagine."  Damned if he didn't have a point.  I didn't have time to waste search through all the levels.

"Fine.  You still have your gun?"

"Never leave home without it.  Let's go."

Father Rusty found a monk and sounded the evacuation.  Ten minutes later, we were in the basement.

"Okay, Kid.  Let's see if this works."

I took a bundle of dynamite from my duster and set it in the middle of the floor.  I laid the fuse running back to the door, then placed a cracked baptistery over the the dynamite to keep the blast focused down.  After I made sure the fuse wasn't blocked, I ran back to the door.  It wasn't fool-proof, but it would be better than nothing.  I lit the fuse and we took cover.


When the smoke cleared, there was no more baptistery.  What there was, though, was a big hole in the basement of the church with a blue glow coming out of it.  As we looked, we started to see arms reach out of the hole to find purchase.

"So, did you have a plan for plugging this thing up?  Or were we just going to let the demons run roughshod over the city?"

"I didn't, but I think I have an idea.  Go get some holy water.  I'll keep these pinned down until you get back."  As he ran off, I found a piece of rubble to get behind.  When I saw a mouth (or beak, or maw) I shot.  There were a lot of demons, but I had a lot of bullets.  Helps when you don't miss.

Rusty came running down the stairs with the holy water.  "Okay, make a circle with the water and bless it."  He nodded, then ran off do it, and I watched his back.  He finished quickly, and we sat back to watch.  Any time a demon got close to the line, he'd burst into flame and die on the spot.  It didn't take too many of those  for their buddies to get the hint and back off.

"That won't last forever, I'd suspect.  They'll figure some way across it.  Demons are crafty bastards.  Should give us enough time to get down there and back, though."  I said.

I tied a rope off and threw it down the hole.  Guns at the ready, we dropped down the hole into Hell.  Right into the lap of Beelzebub himself.

"Well, this is a treat.  I haven't had priest in a good long time.  I'll have a good time watching you get nice and tender.  I might even break out the barbecue sauce." Satan practically salivated at the thought.

Here's something about travelling in Hell.  It's not like walking around on the surface, where you move your feet and distance passes under you.  Well, it is, but not when you're with the devil himself.  He can't be bothered to walk.  He moves Hell under him until he's where he wants to be.  So when he came to collect us, he also took us right where we were headed anyway.  The main event, the primary Pit of Hell.

While Satan was gloating over his victory, practically breaking out the cookbooks to decide how to cook up his treat, I was able to make it to the edge of the pit.  There was only one shot at this before he figured out what was going on.  Better make it count.

"Hey, what are you doing?" Satan said as he turned around to look at me.  I didn't have much time left.  I pulled my last grenade out, pulled the pin, and threw it right where the flames of Hell should have been.  Now, a grenade by itself doesn't make enough flame to relight those fires, but a grenade with a gas soaked rag around it just might.

Light it did!  There was a flame ten-feet high that shot out of the pit.  Whatever was stopping it from burning had been blown away and all that was left was the hottest flame I've ever felt.  Fires sprung to life around us; after just a few moments I could feel them burning my skin.  While Satan was distracted, watching his plan burn away, I ran back to where Father Reynolds was.

"Rusty, let's go!  We gotta get out of here!"  I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him toward the opening.  He climbed the rope and I shot demons that got too close.  When he was clear I pulled myself up like a shot then pulled the rope back.

"Time to get that thing closed back up.  Where the hell is Gamble?" I asked, looking around.

"I'm right here," Gamble said as he guided two big men down the stairs.  Between them was a hose as big around as a skinny man's waist.  When they got to the hole, one of the men pulled a lever, and concrete started pumping out like a fire hydrant.  It took a good little while, but they finally got enough in there to clog up the hole.

"Well, I guess that'll do it after all," Rusty said when it was all done.

"Yes, I reckon it will.  Two-Gun Kid's still got it."

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