It was stifling in the back of the heavily armored BearCat. The small, slit windows didn’t offer much relief from the heat given off by a dozen armored, nervous men. Minerva’s brow was damp, and August felt trapped. He never thought of himself as claustrophobic, but the cramped space was getting to him.
“Hey,” muttered one of the SWAT team members. “You’re that guy that traps ghosts huh?” He flipped up his face mask; he was sweaty and caramel skinned, with no creases in his face.
“Amongst other things,” replied August.
“Anything paranormal, really. We’ve dealt mostly with faeries, vampires, and witches. Basically, if it threatens the safety of society and has some kind of magic about it, it could end up on our desk.”
“What are the things we’re going up against? It can’t be normal if they brought you in.”
“What’s your name?”
“Jorge. Jorge Hernandez.”
“Well, Jorge, these are Deep Ones. They’re generally larger than men and possess unnatural strength for their frame. Most know a little magic, but the most deadly weapon in their arsenal is their bite. Their teeth can saw through most conventional armor, and their saliva has a potent digestive enzyme that breaks down flesh pretty quickly. Their scaled hides make them difficult targets. I went after one with a Winchester and he hardly flinched.”
“August!” interjected Minerva. August looked at her, befuddled. She motioned towards Jorge, mortified. August saw that fear had crept onto the man’s face. In fact, everyone in earshot had started to shift uncomfortably.
“Uh,” said August without eloquence. He wanted to apologize, take back everything he said, and start the day anew. He studied his hands instead, until Minerva leaned close, and whispered.
“Tell him about the spells you brought.”
“Oh yes. We can actually start them now,” announced August with renewed excitement. “I have a stone for everyone. Please, pass these around.” August handed a palmful of small, smooth river stones to Jorge.
“There each have a purifying magic on them; they’ll undo the effects of a Deep One’s bite if you can rub it on the wound within a few seconds. It’ll still hurt like hell, but it’ll keep their saliva from chewing through you.” August unraveled a scroll from his belt and briefly studied the runes painted on it.
“I can cast a protective shielding over willing subjects; the notes on the scroll say that it’ll only work on people that believe in the gods of the North, but I suspect that the note’s just an example of eleventh century bigotry. Still, if you object to this, I can’t cast it on you. It’ll ensure the survival of one mortal wound, so it’s a little handy. Anyone?”
A sea of hands went up around the BearCat.
“That’s good. Just bow heads and we’ll see what we can do.” instructed August.
A dozen shadowy shapes cavorted in the headlights that surrounded Perry. He was scared, angry, and frustrated. He struggled against the ropes that bound him to the same stake as Helen; she let out a small yelp each time he tugged too hard.
“Stop struggling,” petitioned Helen, “You won’t be able to escape. If you simply surrender, they’ll go easier on you.” Her calm, submissive demeanor irked Perry. He was never one to seek conflict, but the situation clearly merited at least a little aggression.
“I don’t want any part of this,” said Perry through his teeth.
“You were born for this, and so was I. Just goes to show that you can never run away from your fate.” Helen’s voice was hollow and disconsolate.
“You can’t just accept this! It means losing your life,” argued Perry. As he struggled, the binds seemed to tighten.
“I don’t think I was using it right anyway.” said Helen morosely.
Perry caught a glimpse of reflected light beyond the cars. He squinted, trying to make out something in the darkness, but it was to no avail. He banged the back of his head against the stake and strained against his bonds.
The air was cold, wet, and heavy; Evan breathed it in greedily. His body was electric with nervousness. His entire life had led to the moment when he would bring Father Dagon and Mother Hydra back to their children, and that moment was at hand. He slid a diaphanous tunic over his head, admiring the gold embroidered fish that swam along its hems. Evan enjoyed the private ritual of preparation, and took joy in placing ten ornate rings on his fingers. He smiled proudly while he clasped a heavy mantle trimmed with hundreds of delicate bones around his neck and gingerly place a crown made of coral on his brow. He secretly wished they were performing the ritual in a temple instead of a rock quarry, but he would have to make do.
“Father and Mother, together again,” announced Evan as he strolled into the circle of cars. The entire gathering jerked to a halt as he spoke.
“Tonight, the stars are right for resurrection, and tonight our progenitors will walk again. Witness! These bodies are the vessels of the gods! These lives are sacrifices!” A droning murmur rose from the crowd in response to his words. Evan looked at the gathering around him. Many were fully transformed Deep Ones, primal and vital. Others were only half changed and imperfect. The minority were still mostly human. Their pink skin disgusted Evan, as did their hairy arms and legs. He looked at his son, struggling in his bonds.
Another voice boomed from the darkness, electronic and distorted. It was the police! Perry looked at his father and looked like he was about to laugh. Evan grinned and shook his head.
“They can’t save you boy. You’ve already been saved!”