Thursday, February 13, 2014

12/28/12 - The Master and Mother!@#$er - Epilogue

Let's swim to the moon, uh huh
Let's climb through the tide
Surrender to the waiting worlds
That lap against our side 

Moonlight Drive - The Doors (1967)

* * *

How best to describe what happened next?

It was as if the world had been holding its breath for two years, afraid of being heard by something terrible that had suddenly appeared. And then, just as suddenly, it could finally exhale, and take a deep, relieved breath of sweet, clean air.

The terror was over. The horror was gone. And the world would never know why or how.

True, some lasting damage had been done. The undead swarms created by the Red Queen stayed in the world, in spite of what had happened to her, and went on to cause numerous problems throughout Eastern Europe. Likewise, a number of demon-machines that were active when their misshapen master went back The Pit were also left behind, and either found new masters or went feral. The Holy See would never be quite the same again, thanks to certain obscene suggestions made over the telephone, and any number of strange, occult experiments would come back to bite the Soviets in the !@#$ for years to come.

(There was also a rash of dream-poisonings, some time later, when an overlooked pallet of bootleg Russian vodka was unearthed in Chicago, of all places)

But by and large, things returned to normal.

The barrier between Earth and Hell became strong, once more. Moscow no longer had a blood-red etheric glow, almost visible to the naked eye. Rogue magicians empowered by the negative vibes lost their mojo, would-be diabolists no longer enjoyed an unfair advantage, and the so-called Church of Satan (formed the same night the Supreme Six came through) lost any real sinister edge it may have developed as certain mysterious members dropped out of sight.

The shadows became less ominous. The light became that much more golden. The sunrise was truly gorgeous, once more, and the stars shone brighter at night.

SQUASH continued to be a problem, of course. There were more thaumathematical hi-jinx, ridiculous attempts at spiritual sabotage, and the like. But, by and large, it had had its last hurrah; it would never attempt anything that grand and dangerous ever again, either because the Kremlin simply would not allow it, or because its now-emasculated leader lacked the conviction.

Of the remaining members of the "Super-Lucky Six" -- as they would later call their fortunate band -- they maintained some degree of contact. Dr. Krwi and SPYGOD became better allies, and then friends, however tempered with tough love. Jim Morrison also aided the COMPANY on a few notable occasions, mostly involving strange magic and large parties. It's said that he and John were seen together in New York City, now and again -- talking philosophy in dark clubs or just tramping it up in the worse ends of town.

Doctor Power, on the other hand, remained somewhat aloof. He'd help SPYGOD out on a case or two, given his work with the Freedom Force, but wouldn't stick around long thereafter. He was also notoriously bad about taking phonecalls, much less answering them.

In fact, on the one, very memorable occasion that the other four got together, late in 1970, to stop something else from coming through into our plane, he was strangely nowhere to be found. It was as if there was something about what the six of them had done that he wanted to avoid revisiting at all costs.

Or maybe something in the future was concerning him.

* * *

July 3, 1971
Paris, France

It's early in the morning, and the Lizard King is getting ready to walk on down the hall.

He stares at the ceiling in his bath, his eyes unfocussed, seeing further than he should. His mouth is on fire with the blood he's just vomited up, and his nose still aches from all the heroin he snorted, this morning.

Pamela's in the other room, asleep. She begged him to call a doctor, the last time he puked, but he told her no. He said to just go to bed and sleep -- he'd join her, soon.

Of course, that was a lie.

He's known for some time how this song was going to end. He saw it before, down in that weird, domed room under Moscow. Every time the Demon Magician, Voland, threw the red fire at him, this moment in time became more certain a thing. More real.

It was just a question of how he would get from there to here, was all.

Not that he'd really been all that careful, between then and now. How could he? There was so much to do, the last few years. All those fights against the darkness, all those struggles against menaces too weird and insane to deal with.

(All those problems with the image his handlers helped him make...)

No. He can't think about that, now. He can't hate poor Ray-Ray or John, or anyone. There's no time for hate, now.

Not now that it's almost over.

He's known for for some time that the end was near -- little hints, here and there, that the world was beginning to reject him. The look of his bloated self in the store windows of Paris. His troubles with breathing, or moving. The spasms and the hiccups.

The blood he kept spitting up between drinks.

Even today, out with his old friend, Alain, that mustachioed demon had been mocking him. There'd been a laughing man with a crazy mustache on the way to the restaurant, laughing as he walked on down the road. There was the chance forming of hideous, prophetic words from noise when they went back out for another drink. And there'd been that leering face from that !@#$ movie he's watched with his woman, earlier in the night. "Pursued," it was called.

(Of course it would be, wouldn't it?)

"You know what you have lost here, Lizard King," Voland had sneered, just three years ago: "I'll see you in The Pit yet."

But the joke was on him, now wasn't it?

He wasn't put on this world to just die and go up or down. He was put here to go across, over and over again -- time to time, place to place, maybe even world to world. He was put here to be here when he was needed, and then charged with moving on when it was time.

And now -- now that his body was tired and used up, and someplace else needed him more than our world did -- that time was fast approaching.

So no. No hate. No regrets. No should have, would have, could have beens. No fear. No tears. Nothing to look forward to, here. Nothing to hold him back, anymore.

Nothing but the promise that his soul made, all those years ago, when he was young and fresh and had no idea of the great secret the world was keeping from him. Not until that trip from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, and the dead Indians on the road.

Not until he saw his life reflected in the death of someone else, and the endless spirit came to claim him, adding his face to the ancient gallery.

A line from that movie echoes in his mind -- almost something he might have written, himself, once upon a time.

"Out back there was some cattle bones. All of a sudden I couldn't breathe, and then as I walked around the side, I came upon some unmarked graves. If that house was me, what part of me was buried in those graves?"

No part, really. This failing vessel is only flesh. There is nothing here to take with him, where he is going, except maybe a small remembrance of times gone by, and friends he spent those times with. The ones his future selves will remember. The ones his past selves knew were coming.

The moment, singular and eternal, that no demon can even hope to occlude.

So Jim Morrison looks across the worlds, and smiles at what he sees there. Another boy, looking his way, with eyes just like him. A man-child with a mind ready for the experience of the lifetime, and a soul empty and waiting for a promise.

His face ready to take its rightful place in the gallery.

Jim shuts his eyes. He breathes in. He breathes out.

And then he walks on down the hall

* * *

There is no question that Colonel Bulgakov is dead -- and good riddance to him -- but what is not readily known is exactly how he died, or when.

It's generally accepted that he died at some point during the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It may have been in the early years, after the Soviets finally decided they'd had enough of SQUASH, and left them out to dry. It may have been near the end, as its former super-agent Boris Yeltsin -- who'd made certain they were no longer available at the table -- became a hero during the attempted coup.

As for exactly what happened? Well, one must realize that, in all such matters, truth is highly subjective. There are any number of accepted stories, all of which carry the requisite SQUASH poetry. And there are any number of reasons why this, that, or the other theory is more likely than its cohorts.

And one overriding reason why none of them really work. 

So, in spite of how amusing it would be to believe that he was dragged screaming and alive off to The Pit after a final summoning gone wrong, we should remember that he was too good a thaumathematician to have that happen to him.

(We should also remember that, following the debacle of 1968, he had someone else do the summoning for him.)

And, in spite of the deliciousness of believing that, the night SQUASH's replacement came fully online, he was crushed under several tons of rock and concrete when the Beehive was destroyed without warning, we should also remember that he had any number of escape routes, and means to avoid serious injury.

(Plus, if anyone could have crawled out of a cave-in and come back, it would have been him.)

And while one can't help but be amused at the notion that whatever dark bargain he made in order to escape death, all those years ago, just ran out of time, and he had to pay the bill at last, those who knew him have often said that was never a barrier. In fact, they say the deal had actually run out some time before, but he'd always found a way to extend his stay on the Earth by a decade or so.

(There always were so many young and foolish thaumathematicians, ever-so-willing to assist the Colonel in a "late night experiment.")

So no. None of those stories are adequate or sufficient. None of them account for the fact that, though he could be a stupid fool at times, and so arrogant that he had no idea when he was committing the most disastrous of mistakes until well past the point of no return, he could always find some way to get out of it. Even if that escape was aided by his enemies, if only by accident.

But the fact remains: Colonel Bulgakov is dead. One can only hope that he died in a manner befitting the amount of woe and ruin he caused the world -- especially his own country, when all was said and done.

And good riddance to all of that.

* * *

John vanished, as they always figured he kind of would.

It was back in 1997, during that one weird thing some people call a Crisis, and others call The Opportunity. He was helping contain the structural reality damage in Trenton, of all places, and he stepped out of sight to do something. He must have done it, because the repairs held, but he never stepped back, either.

No last words. No goodbyes. No cryptic remarks. Just the utter absence of a man.

(Not even Wayfinder could locate him. He said it was as though he'd just never been. And that spooked the old !@#$ like you wouldn't believe.)

SPYGOD's dealt with a couple other Grey Men since then, all wearing the same kind of weird, film-grey coats. None of them care to say where John is. When he asks them, they just ask "which John?" and then smile.


But every so often, when he's alone or maudlin or both, SPYGOD gets the feeling that John's nearby, somehow. Even with the Chandra Eye, he can't see him, but he can feel him, somehow. And he can feel he's telling him to get a !@#$ grip on himself, because nothing ever got solved by whining about a !@#$ thing, now did it?

And he would be !@#$ing right. 

* * *
Rezscow, Poland

The sad thing was that, if he'd just called Doctor Krwi at his !@#$ safehouse when he realized he needed him, this could have been avoided.

Around the end of October, SPYGOD realized he really needed to talk to his vampire hunter ally. He'd been avoiding it for a time, because they'd had a serious misunderstanding towards the end of the Imago Occupation.

(In other words, SPYGOD had been a !@#$ing jerk, and Krwi had called him on it)

But needs must as the devil drives, as they say. So he'd started calling him, using the line he'd had before the Invasion. But he wasn't picking up.

So he got his people on trying to roust him from whatever hole he'd dug himself into. He'd made threats and promises, and delivered on some of both. And his subordinates scurried this way and that, searching for a man who was very difficult to find when he did not want to be found.

He'd been using his cellphone, which could usually get him anywhere, but that cellphone had been burned some time ago. But there was another number, somewhere in SPYGOD's possession, that led to a safehouse in scenic Rezscow, where he liked to hide out between killing runs.

And if SPYGOD had just called the old man there, when he'd realized he needed his help, Doctor Krwi would probably still be alive.

But he didn't. And on the 4th of November, SPYGOD got a call from one of his COMPANY Agents, out in Poland, telling him to get on a transport and come to south-eastern Poland as soon as he could.

He needed his boss to come and tell him if the sorry, bloated, and hideously-mangled body he'd found in what appeared to be a vampire hunter's stronghold was, in fact, the man he'd been looking for.

Sadly, it was him. Doctor Krwi had been dead for at least a week, maybe longer. And he hadn't died easy or well from the looks of things.

He'd died slowly, and in pain -- a lot of pain, from the looks of him. One wouldn't expect any less, given the number of horrible and sadistic enemies the old man had racked up over several decades worth of fighting the bloodsuckers. Indeed, he'd often joked that, when they finally got him, he'd be lucky if they just tortured him to death instead of giving him the bite, just to get revenge.

(He'd also said something about having enough garlic in his veins to marinate a whole herd of cattle for stew, which was how he planned to avoid that threat.)

But that wasn't what got to SPYGOD -- seeing the man he'd called ally, then friend, then pain in the !@#$ in that sorry state. That wasn't what made him go insane with anger and tear the place apart. That wasn't what made him burn it to the ground when he was done, and stomp back to his transport ready to kill the next person, place, or thing that even looked like it was going to look at him funny.

No. It was the fact that, when he looked at what was left of the old man, he realized he'd been raped. To death.

And then he realized by who.

He didn't want to go into details. He didn't want to tell anyone what he knew, for fear of word getting out. The trial had already gotten that cat out of the bag, but he didn't need anyone to know just how active the culprit was in the world.

All he could do was give the old man the dignity of making sure his body could in no way, shape, or form be revived by his true enemies. It's what he would have wanted, and all he could have done for him.

But as they flew back to America, and every mile on the way, SPYGOD was forced to realize that he knew. He knew, !@#$ it.

He knew that, if he'd called the old man, they would have talked about this little problem with what he'd been feeling in the White House, lately.

If they'd talked about the little problem, Dr. Krwi would have known that he was in America, and not Poland.

If he'd known he was in America, and not Poland, he wouldn't have opened his door up and let his murderer in, because he would have known that something was fishy.

And if he hadn't opened his door up and let his murderer in, he wouldn't have spent the last however many hours of his life being !@#$ed in every single hole he had, plus a few more that his attacker decided to make with that blessed sword the old man used on vampires.

Every mile on the way home, he realizes this. It makes him sick. He tries to drink it away but it doesn't help. He wants to smash things but then he'll just have to swim home, and haul his Agents besides.

All he can do is tell himself that he's done being careless, now. He's done with failing to anticipate this danger that's out there, loose in the world.

And when he finally finds his Alter-Earther, he's going to do things to him that will make what he did to Dr. Krwi look like an overly-firm handshake.

Oh yes. He will.

* * *
There's also the matter about a conversation that took place between Doctor Power and SPYGOD, not too long after SPYGOD found out what happened to Doctor Krwi. In fact, it took place after a very fateful and tragic Thanksgiving at the White House, when SPYGOD had to deal with the source of that nasty feeling he'd wanted Doctor Krwi's help with. 

"Dealing" meant bringing in a special gun, which resulted in a very unfortunate death. It also meant that whatever political and personal currency he'd cultivated with the President of the United States of America -- both during and after the Invasion -- was completely gone.

And it also meant that, given how Doctor Power was responsible for what happened, SPYGOD had no !@#$ing compunctions whatsoever about making good on his long-standing threat to take Doctor Power's namesake away from him.

It was quite an impressive conversation, really, but there was only one way it could end. And that was with SPYGOD striding out of the Doctor's sanctum with a former superhero in tow, and telling him how and where to get help for his serious problems.

Not the greatest end to one of the few remaining members of both the Liberty Patrol and Freedom Force, one might say. But it wasn't really his end, either. Just another serious bump in a lifetime full of them.

That is, however, another story for another day.
* * *

As for the Hell Blazer -- no one's entirely certain what the entity formerly known by that name is doing, down in The Pit. 

He has not made contact, ever, and he does not answer when called. Not even Doctor Power could ever summon him up. 

It's almost as if he didn't want to talk to anyone. 

Some say he's biding his time until he can break the entire operation. Some say he's gone bad, like he said he would, and that the increase in vampire attacks is his doing. But you can never trust Demons, as they tend to tell you exactly what you want to hear.

SPYGOD still keeps his gun handy, just in case.

* * *

There's also the other four members of the Supreme Six to consider, down there in The Pit.

They are not happy demons, those four. They scream and howl at the barrier between worlds, scrabbling to get out and away. They dream of atrocities and grand unmakings. They promise pain and pleasure, knowledge and experience.

And they would burn the world, if they only had another chance to get out and play.

Will they ever have it? Who can say? A year doesn't go by that some !@#$head with more old books than sense doesn't try to raise them from their prison, the better to curry their favor. Sometimes these idiots even manage to raise one of them, though not fully and never for long.

But so long as the Hell Blazer doesn't care to move, and Behemot is stuck in our world, calling up the whole gang to effect a great and terrible change just is not going to happen. At all.

But still they try, because they're greedy and short-sighted and mad and stupid. And still they die, because they almost always get Voland, himself, and he's still really !@#$ed off about losing out on Morrison. And still nothing really happens to change the balance between good and evil, light and dark, and up and down in our world.

Hopefully it stays that way. We have enough problems as it is.

* * *

And what of Behemot, then?

The demon cat has lived in Neo York City, with SPYGOD, ever since the events of 1968. He drinks between three and five bottles of high-test, liver-rotting vodka a day, and goes through a can of high-quality cat food every so often, when he remembers he needs to eat, too. He used to spend most of his days sleeping on an AK-47, but when that was lost SPYGOD got him a better gun, and now he sleeps on that, instead.

Once a member of the Supreme Six, he is now known as Bee-Bee, as his owner won't have "Commie" spoken in his house.  If he misses being a prince of Hell, he doesn't show it. He seems content to laze around, and seemingly aspires only to stay drunk, or maybe get it on when his biological urges send him off to tomcat.

He will not come when called. He tolerates no petting or belly rubs except once in a great while, and then only from SPYGOD.  And no one !@#$s with that cat.

No one at all. 

(SPYGOD is listening to The Best of Tchaikovsky and having a number of drinks for absent friends)

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