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D Is For Damien: Chapter 25

The D's Unleashed

THE SMALL GROUP on the catwalk remained silent, too shocked to speak.

Luther lowered his gun and let go of Father Damien's arm. The priest fell to the floor, seemingly unconscious.

Damien stood looking at the bleeding wound in his chest for several minutes, with what appeared to be curiosity. He gingerly touched it and looked at his hands, then looked up at Luther, who still stood, stone faced, upon the platform. After another moment of this staring down Damien's head bobbed and he swayed as if dizzy, then dropped to his knees with a dull thud. He looked at his bloody hands again, and--strangely enough, in a day already made very bizarre--a faint smile came to his face.

"'The same--thing will--happen--to you,'" he said softly, with a touch of irony in his voice, and then collapsed.

Total silence. Dino, Kat, Miss Clare, and the kids stood on the catwalk, staring with horror at the scene below. The cultists did not move either. Luther continued looking down at Damien, waiting for any telltale movements. They were all so engrossed in staring at the fallen singer that no one noticed that Father Damien, behind Luther's legs, was still faintly conscious, and started pulling himself slowly toward the altar. When he reached it he clawed at the cloth spread out over it; the D's, upon the altar, slid toward the edge and practically fell one by one into his hands. Taking the gold and silver D's, he hooked them together, and Luther turned around just in time to see him put the diamond D in place. His eyes widened.

"No!" it was Luther's turn to cry.

Too late; with a sudden explosion of light and sound the D's were activated, shooting out a ray that sent the cultists running to the corners of the room, shielding their eyes and ears in pain. The others on the catwalk did the same, overcome by both the light and amazement. Luther dropped the gun with a hiss, clapping his hands to his face. Father Damien couldn't look at the D's without going blind; he turned his head away and shut his eyes tightly against the glare, holding them away from him with outstretched arms. After several moments the light and the deafening hum subsided and everybody was left in confusion, the cultists running around and the others on the catwalk trying to make out what was going on. This enabled the priest to jump down and run to Damien. All effects of the poison were gone from his system--he felt the same as he had before Derrick had struck him. Even that pain was gone. On the floor he knelt by his nephew's body and lifted his head. Damien's eyes were glazed and staring; he was still alive, though barely. Father Damien held the D's to Damien's breast and the light flared up again, filling the room and dazzling the eyes of the beholders. The priest turned his face away again, trying to cover Damien's eyes at the same time. When it subsided once more Father Damien dropped the D's carelessly on the floor where they broke their hold and skittered away from each other. He looked down into the face of his nephew.

"Damien?" he asked anxiously. "Damien, can you hear me?"

The singer took a breath and blinked several times, then managed to lift his head and pull himself up on one elbow. He felt his shoulder and the pain was gone; then he remembered what had happened and felt his chest. The wound had completely disappeared as if he'd never been shot at all; the only reminder was a torn hole in his shirt. He could only stare in amazement, then looked up at his uncle.

"They really do work," was all he could say.

Father Damien smiled and nodded.

Damien continued staring at him, then another faint smile lit up his face. "I knew it all along," he said.

Dino shouted suddenly from the catwalk, "Damien! He's getting away!"

The two turned their heads. The rest of the cultists had fled when the D's had first started glowing, but now Luther jumped down from the platform and dashed from the room. Damien hurriedly scrambled to his feet and started off after him.

"You guys find Mabarak!" he shouted back over his shoulder. "I'll get Luther!"

Father Damien snatched up the D's and ran to catch up with the others on the catwalk, who were coming down to find the trapdoor. Miss Clare led them back down the hallways to the little room, where they started climbing down the hole, back into the tunnels.

Damien sped through the building as fast as he could, his lungs burning for want of air. But Luther was much faster than he was--he always had been--and escaped the building, continuing off in the direction of--if Damien was correct--the park. Growing more exhausted by the minute, he nevertheless followed, forcing his legs to pump faster, determined to catch the one who had tried to kill his uncle and himself.

After an eternity of running they got there; the two of them raced after each other through the park in the darkness. Luther found the observation deck and ran up the walk, somehow ignoring the lake surrounding it. Damien followed him up to the top level, where as soon as he reached the last step Luther whirled around and gave him a vicious kick in the chest that knocked him back down. He coughed, the wind knocked out of him, but got back up and scrambled up the steps again. Here was the platform Chernobyl and Shirana had been on before; it didn't allow much room for wide movement, but there was nothing he could do about that right now. Luther whirled on him again and snarled and bared his teeth like some feral animal, swinging at him. Damien ducked but Luther hit him the next time, right across the face. Damien staggered back, dizzy. As he did so Luther brought his leg up behind Damien's, tripping him. Damien fell sharply onto his elbows and Luther kicked him in the side of the head. He could taste blood in his mouth and see bright swirls of color in front of his eyes. But after a moment they faded away, and he put out his hand and managed to trip Luther. When he fell they scuffled for several minutes, neither of them able to gain the upper hand. Finally Luther pinned Damien and snarled down at him.

"Nonbeliever!" he barked. "I got rid of your sister and I can get rid of you too!"

Damien howled and attempted to knock him off. He only succeeded in hitting and dazing him for a moment, and Luther laughed at the air.

"So much for assault and battery," he crowed. "Now it's time for you to meet your Maker--or should I say, your Unmaker!"

Back in the tunnels the group rushed through semi darkness, trying to find a way out. The kids were clinging to Kat and crying harder than ever. Miss Clare saw something and lifted her flashlight; a light formed up ahead, and they realized that they'd returned to the room with the giant window under Lake Huron. They stopped to catch their breath, and heard a noise. From the other doorway a shadow emerged, and they cowered back against the wall. Mabarak stumbled into the room, wheezing and still clutching his wounded shoulder. There was a spatter of blood down the front of his suit. He laughed hoarsely and lifted his gun.

"Did you really think you could get rid of me?" he rasped, swaying but still steady enough to do serious damage should he choose.

No one spoke. Indeed it seemed there was nothing left to say. They'd just about given up all hope of ever getting out of these godforsaken tunnels.

"I didn't think so," Mabarak replied for them, cocking the gun.

Miss Clare stepped forward to face him off. "Think again," she said, and aimed--but not at the lieutenant. Her arm shot up to point at the giant window above them. Mabarak's gaze followed her arm, his eyes widening in horror. There was a bang, and a tremendous shattering crescendo. Water gushed into the room.

The last thing they heard from Mabarak was a strangled scream of terror.

The water came down over them in a torrent, forcing the air from their lungs and nearly crushing them. Somehow, as if by a miracle, they managed to swim through the onslaught to the surface, trying to escape the vast whirlpool the draining water created.

Luther's head shot up with surprise at the loud whooshing sound coming from the lake. Damien saw his chance and raised his foot, kicking him squarely in the chest. The high priest fell back, striking his head against the wooden planks, and slid down, unmoving. Damien spat blood, then staggered to the side of the deck, panting and looking over. From the whirlpool emerged, one after the other, seven glistening heads--Father Damien, Dino, Kat, Harvey, Esmeralda, and Wolfgang, and finally Miss Clare. They all sputtered and paddled at the swirling water furiously, and at last managed to swim away from the pull of the water, clutching at the reeds and the wooden deck supports.

The moonlight caused a shadow to fly by as Damien fell to his stomach and reached down as far as he could. Father Damien grabbed his hand, gasping at the air, and Damien helped tow him up. Then, together they assisted the others up onto the deck, all spitting out water and shaking with cold. Nearby, in the center of the waning whirlpool, Mabarak's ivory switchblade bobbed briefly to the surface, then slowly sank back under the waves.

"That--that was too much," Dino gasped.

Father Damien sat up, covered with wet sand, still panting. "Where's Luther?" he asked.

Damien looked up with a start. His eyes searched the observation deck, the water, the beach, everything--but Luther was nowhere to be seen. He scrambled to his feet and thumped down the stairs to the lower level. When he reached the end of the deck he saw footprints in the sand leading away out of the park, like a trail left to taunt him. With a cry of rage and despair he struck a post with his hand, and dropped his head.

There were several moments of wave-washed silence before he felt a hand on his shoulder. Lifting his head, he saw his uncle, looking at him with sympathy and understanding in his eyes. For a moment all he did was stare.

"Let it go," he said softly, the wind quickly drying the water from his clothing and rustling the leaves in the trees. "You're not a superhero. You've done all you could."

"But he got away again," Damien said, his voice cracking under the strain. He hated it but he could feel tears fill his eyes and stream down his cheeks; he turned his head away.

"He can't run forever," Father Damien replied, squeezing his shoulder and causing Damien to look back at him. He gave a faint smile. "Remember, according to the laws of physics, an object in motion cannot stay forever in motion. Or, better yet, he'll someday get what's coming to him."

Damien's eyes filled with anger. "I hope he gets a lot," he said, but then the anger left his eyes, replaced by sadness and regret, and he dropped his head again and shook it.

"No," he murmured, "I take that back. I just hope he gets what he deserves."

He looked out over the water, to the horizon which was still dark but growing ever brighter in the coming daylight.

"Whatever that may be."

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