Jorge was raised a strict Catholic. He was unsure how to feel about the Pagan magic that was protecting him so well. On the one hand, he felt like a traitor to God. On the other, he was alive and faring well. The Deep Ones were stronger than he thought they would be, and more fierce than he expected. He found himself at a loss. He wanted to need to call for God and Jesus: these things were monsters, demons, living proof that the Devil was out there. Here he was fighting them off with a shield and baton, and without God.
Jorge wondered if the magic actually belonged to the Saints. His grandmother always said the old gods were actually saints in disguise, faces of the One True God. However, the spell couldn’t protect him from the hazards of daydreaming. A Deep One seized him, stretching its long arms around Jorge’s shield and enfolding his body in a crushing embrace.
Jorge reacted quickly. He splayed his legs and pushed his shield so he could slide out of the creature’s grip. He took a step back, but the Deep One was fast and closed quickly. Jorge knocked the creature’s grabbing hands away using his shield and then kicked the creature viciously in the groin, hoping that it would hurt the beast. Without pausing, Jorge swung his baton at the Deep One’s knee. The Deep One lost balance and crashed to the ground. Jorge struck it one more time, aiming for its head and hoping to knock it out.
He was a warrior for God, but not the God he knew. It was exhilarating and confusing. He thought that if he’d survive, he’d think a lot about this night.
Mother Hydra’s spirit had taken root in Helen’s body. The malevolent goddess’ spirit was already forcing its host body to bend and twist into a monstrous thing, exhibiting sagging, scaled skin and distorted proportions that made a mockery of the human form. Mother Hyrda’s slit-pupiled eyes darted around as her keening wail continued. Minerva covered her ears, overwhelmed by the sound. August considered his options.
He could use the same spell he used on Dagon, but it would leave Helen’s body in its new, transformed state. He could let the police take Mother Hydra into custody, but he worried that, that would be an unwise course. The federal government would get their hands on an Elder Goddess, and there was no telling where that would lead. He could tell the police to kill the monster, but then Helen would die. August hated having no easy answers.
The police were handling the Deep Ones well enough. They’d be nearer sooner than later. August felt forced into a corner.
“Away! Away! Into the darkness of oblivion. Death had called thee. Thou art a mortal thing, constrained to the limits of the mortal coil. Thou art bound to oblivion. The end has come!” recited August, pointing a finger at Mother Hydra. The creature stepped forward, but it already seemed less coherent. Its screaming stopped as it fell to one knee.
“What did you do?” shouted Minerva. August could see she was furious. She must have been able to see the energy of his spell and the resultant exorcism of the Elder Goddess’ spirit.
“I stopped it.” said August.
“Yeah,” said Minerva, distanced.
“What? What did I do wrong?” asked August, feeling accused.
“No. You did just fine,” responded Minerva. She absent-mindedly folded The Shroud and shoved it under her arm. August could see that something was bothering Minerva, but she wasn’t talking.
“Ugh!” moaned Perry, crawling like a baby.
“Am I okay?” asked Perry.
“For now” said August, walking over to lend him a hand.
“Is she okay?” Perry struggled to his feet with August’s help and shuffled towards Helen. He turned his head from her, his hand held over his mouth. He squatted, looking like he would retch.
“She’ll live, but she’s never going to be the same.” said Minerva. She knelt beside Helen’s body, studying her rapid breathing.
“It might be better if she went to live with the Deep Ones out at sea.” Minerva said.
“That’ll be her decision to make. It’s the best we could do.” said August.
Perry liked his new apartment. It gave him the sense of a new beginning, and it let him forget his abduction. Occasionally, he thought about Dagon. He had tasted the power of a god and he didn’t mind it. He knew in his heart that Dagon would have usurped his consciousness, but that didn’t stop him from fantasizing about having the power of a god.
“Could you imagine that Seymour? If I were a god. Hawkins in accounting wouldn’t ever give me any lip. I’d be able to write my own ticket. You could be a god too, maybe.” said Perry. Seymour meowed in offense.
Perry stepped back to look at the shadow box he hung on the wall. It had a few newspaper clippings, some bits of seaweed rope, and the crown his father wore in it. He looked at the artifacts of his adventure and sighed.
August sat in the office alone, busily writing labels for each of his field kits. Minerva’s look after he banished Mother Hydra still bothered him. Did she feel sympathy for the Elder Goddess? Did she feel bad about what had to be done? The questions tore up August for weeks before he finally broke down and asked Minerva over coffee one day.
“You did what you thought you needed to do. There’s nothing wrong with what you did, but it isn’t what I would have done.” explained Minerva.
“If I could have, I would have used my magic to separate the two, to heal the woman before separating the entity. I’d have banished Mother Hydra instead of destroying her.” she continued.
“So that she could come back again and again without end? An eternal terror?” asked August, trying to understand.
“Yes. Because someday, humanity will be gone. Someday, the Elder Gods will inherit the earth. It is inevitable. You killed something that should have been eternal, and you don’t have any reservations about it. That disturbs me.” admitted Minerva.
As he wrote out the label for his goblin grabbing kit, August mulled over Minerva’s words. Was what he did callous? Was it wrong to kill a creature in order to protect the world? Then, August thought about Mr. Kane. He thought about how many vampires Kane killed. How many werewolves, goblins, chimeras, witches, and giants had Kane slain in the name of protecting humanity? August always thought there was a separation between him and Kane. August wondered if he was wrong