Nulling The Void - part 2
“We don’t have time for this,” said Tyna. “Carey?”
“Start the car.”
“Don’t start the car,” said DeSchayne.
“Honey,” said Tyna, “Start the engine.”
“What are you thinking!” said DeSchayne. The engine came to life. “Hey! Turn it off!”
“Hit it Carey!”
“No!” DeSchayne cried. Carey floored the pedal. The wheels spun at length before gaining purchase and the buggy leapt forward. “Are you kidding me!” DeSchayne grabbed Carey by the shoulders. “Every honky cop in town ‘ll be after us! And who’s butt do you think they’ll throw in jail!”
“Sorry bro. Tyna’s right. Who cares about jail when there’s a demon taking over the world?” The Honda crashed over a curb jostling all on board. They roared over a park lawn as the cruiser followed, spraying coloured lights everywhere.
“You keep us outta the river!” DeSchayne snapped as they flew downhill. Carey swung right and they raced along the riverbank just ahead of their pursuer. “No risk of you going to jail, boy!”
“Why? ‘Cause I’m white?”
“’Cause I’m gonna kill you first.”
“That’s harsh, bro.” They roared toward a steep embankment where an overhead bridge spanned the river. Carey drove straight at a dimly-lit footpath tunnel.
“No!” cried DeSchayne. “No no no!” They plowed into the tunnel. Steel squealed against concrete. Sparks flew and they penetrated the tunnel. The cop veered landward at the last moment, rising sideways on the steep hill, canting too far and tumbling over. The cruiser skidded to a halt on its roof; wheels turned up to the night sky and spinning uselessly.
“Hoo haw!” sang Carey as the Civic emerged from the tunnel, its body somewhat re-designed.
DeSchayne sat rigid and open-mouthed as the misshapen Honda raced up Townshend Line to higher ground. Finally: “Well, thanks for getting rid of those pesky side-mirrors for me.”
“Hey – who needs side mirrors?” said Carey. “In India cars don’t have any mirrors.”
“Isn’t that fascinating,” said DeSchayne flatly.”So they can fit through pedestrian tunnels?”
“No, I think it has something to do with Vishnu putting eyes on the front of their heads for a reason.”
“I’m gonna put a couple holes in the front of his head,” said DeSchayne to Tyna.
Tyna crossed her arms. “You love your stupid car more than me.” DeSchayne rolled his eyes.
“It’s just an object, bro,” said Carey. “We’ve all had to make sacrifices, you know." He glanced continuously in the only remaining mirror, expecting flashers which never came.
The ground leveled and they turned into a short dirt driveway, halting at a chained-up gate. Beyond the frost fence stood a collection of towers and transformers and a low shed of concrete and metal. The engine ceased, surrendering the night air to a steady racket of crickets. Carey turned the switch to kill the one working headlamp and the four riders emerged, Carey with duffel bag in hand. They approached the gate.
“Now what?” said Carey.
“We consult the cards,” said Tyna. The boy drew a packet from the pocket of his gray pleated trousers and unpacked the cards, He surrendered them to Tyna who shuffled them deftly. “Walter?”
The man eyed the stack. “Pick a card any card?”
“Yes.” She bit her lip as Walter cut the deck and turned up a card. It bore the image of a king surrounded by nine golden goblets. They stared.
“Now what?” said Carey. Light flashed briefly in the sky.
“We drink?” said DeSchayne. Thunder rumbled gently.
“Let me think,” said Tyna.
Walter grinned mischievously and whispered: “Who’s up for a tickle-fight?”
“Is that a combination lock on the fence?”
“Yes,” said Carey.
“Draw again, Walter!” She proffered the cards. Walter turned up a card depicting a princess before a field of thirteen stars. “Now one more time!” He did so, drawing a knight with three swords. “Nine – thirteen – three!” she exclaimed. “Try it DeSchayne!”
“Try the combination. Nine – thirteen – three!”
Lightning flashed again and thunder followed. DeSchayne spun the dial this way and that. The lock clicked pleasingly and released. “Hot dog!”
He unthreaded the length of chain and shoved open the squealing metal gate. The crew piled in between the humming towers and monuments.
“What are we looking for?” asked Carey.
“I don’t know. Walter, draw again.”
Walter stepped up and drew again. His eyes bulged. “The tickler!” The image was that of a grimacing skeleton astride a black horse. Tyna paled. Thunder cracked.
Carey stared at the card. “Death!” he said breathlessly.
“Mulligan,” said Tyna, slipping the offending card to the bottom of the deck. “One more time, Walter!”
“You can do that?” said DeSchayne.
“Huh huh ho!” sang Walter, drawing a card of fiery orange and red.
“The Prince of Fire!” said Tyna. Their faces suddenly washed with light and a boom of thunder made them jump. An electric pop rang in their ears followed by a chorus of sizzles as smoke and sparks issued from some of the looming structures around them.
“I don’t like this,” said DeSchayne. Lightning struck again and again; the crash of thunder immediate. Tyna squealed. Walter’s spongy cigar hit the ground. “Yeah, I really don’t like this. Why don’t you draw a get-the-freak-outta-here card?”
“shazzam,” said Walter matter-of-factly. The others ducked as a symphony of electrical fireworks blossomed all around them. Then all at once the night was dark and silent. Even the crickets seemed stunned into silence.
“I think we blew a fuse,” said Carey, righting his hat.
Suddenly flames leapt into the air from a single structure; a mechanical monument about eight feet high. “Give me the Sonambule!” Tyna yelped. Carey unzipped the bag and drew out the Alice in Wonderland tome, its pages tea-soaked. “No, the whole bag!” He dropped the book back in, re-zipped the bag and handed it over. Tyna took it by the handles and approached the burning structure wide-eyed. The others followed just paces behind her. “Back where you came from demon! Back to the flames!” She hurled the bag into the air and they watched it vanish into the fire.
“Nice,” said Carey. “Nice eulogy. Short and sweet.”
“Now what?” said DeSchayne. A deep deep rumble was then felt as much as heard.
“We get the freak out of here,” said Tyna.
They turned their back to the prospering flames and made for the gate. “I’m driving,” said DeSchayne.
“Shot gun,” said Carey.
“Lazer beans,” said Walter.
DeSchayne yanked ineffectually at the driver’s door handle. “Gimme the keys.” He turned up his palm.
“Shit,” said Carey.
“No shit,” said DeSchayne. “Just gimme the keys.” A blast of hot air swirled through and around them
“They were in the bag.”
All turned to look at the flames which had trebled in height and grew swiftly taller before their eyes. The hot wind sent Walter’s long white hair dancing in the air. The ground began to tremble.
“Oh my god,” said Tyna.
“You threw my keys into the fire!” DeSchayne blurted. “With the demon?”
“He threw the baby out with the bath water,” said Walter.
“Who’s got a coat hanger?” said Carey.
“Yeah, I’ll check my pockets,” DeSchayne snapped. “You little-“ he reached for Carey’s collar and the youth slipped barely from his grasp. A deep rumble accompanied a marked increase in the earth’s trembling. The flames leapt higher still.
“Oh my God oh my God,” sang Tyna.
“Hallelujah!” said Walter, bringing his palms together; his face awash in the orange light of flame.
“This is bad,” said Tyna. “This is really bad. I’m not even kidding.”
“Whadda we do?” said Carey and DeSchayne in chorus.
“Jinx!” said Walter. “Buy me a coke.” The ground positively shook. The flames leapt straight into the swirling clouds.
“Run!” cried Tyna. They ran, Walter cackling with delight.
A grand explosion flung the hydro sub-station far and wide.