144-Terror of the Seas

Okay, I know this one is long, but it’s already been way longer than I thought it was going to be, and I didn’t think it was fair to break it up any more than I already had. In any case, I finally came up with a title, and I hope you enjoy the final installment.

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Slumber worked fast, but even still it was late August before he was ready to move. By that time Harry was well into the second phase of his operations. The asphalt surfaces in parking lots and residential streets across the non-English-speaking world were being replaced with a harder version of his rooftop paint. There were small outlets everywhere for free electricity to plug your automobile into while you shopped, visited the dentist, or anything else you chose to do with your car. Having invested considerably in production facilities there, (which he then helped run as community owned properties) Africa was poised to become the major powerhouse for the assembly and sales of a new generation of electric automobiles. Even the United States government couldn’t keep California from breaking ranks and beginning resurfacing projects. There were even rumors of legislation calling for non-electric automobiles to be completely phased out of the state.

And this was just the beginning.

Harry drew up plans for atmospheric scrubbers to be installed in specific places around the world to best take advantage of global wind currents, and oceanic platforms capable of filtering and restoring tidal quantities of water. He designed the means to create drugs that retooled a person’s immune system to grow it’s own viruses — viruses that would seek out cancerous cells in that person’s body and restore those cells to their original non-cancerous states. He drew the outlines for earth-normal, self-sustaining and self-replicating city-domes, powered entirely by the sun and supplied completely from the ground beneath them as they slowly spread across the surface of the moon. He sketched the form of a human super-philosophy that could, he knew, bring the world of man together as true brothers and sisters. There was so much more that he wanted to do, but time was running out, and Harry knew the world wasn’t going to allow him his peace much longer.

It was the afternoon of September second.

“Harry,” Daemona said softly, “they’re on the grid. We’ve got about a half-hour.”

“Missiles?”

“Strictly conventional. He wants to be here for the big finish. I’ve already launched the interceptors for the missiles, but I’ve left that alone, as you requested.” She pointed to the clump of forty or so large boats speeding in towards the island.

“Thanks. I’d hate to disappoint my number-one fan.” Harry turned to look at her, standing next to where he sat watching the monitors. He reached up and placed his hand on her back, letting it slide down to her perfect hip. He had known that speaking her name would cause her to obey him, that oh-so-short year ago. He had not realized, because he had not looked for it, that she would fall in love with him. And the even greater surprise, that he would fall in love with her.

She stood there, expression unreadable, looking at him for a long while. Finally she said, “Harry love, if Slumber makes it in here, all your plans are going to be destroyed.”

“I know.”

“He doesn’t care like you do. He’s a dupe. He’s sacrificed himself for the greed of the ones he’ll leave behind. He’s shortsighted, and he’s dangerous.”

“I know.”

“Harry!” Daemona’s eyes flared a brilliant scarlet along with her temper. “I found out what Slumber wished for!” Harry turned to look at the monitor showing Wolcott Slumber’s small fleet of vessels closing in on his island, but the frustrated demon spun him back around to face her. “Bentroth himself gave him the words. ‘When next you meet at odds of purpose you shall defeat Harold Scotts utterly.’ That’s now Harry. Harold Scotts is you, and if you stay here and fight him, you’re going to lose!”

“There’s nowhere to go, Daemona.” Harry turned to face the monitors again. “Look.” He had widened the parameters of their detection devices. Satellite images showed a ring of naval vessels around his island, several miles out. There had to be over two-hundred ships from who knew how many navies, and smaller vessels without number. “They don’t want to get their hands dirty, but there aren’t going to be any escapes either.”

Daemona smiled sadly. “I told you that you should have built a teleporter before you worked on that ‘perfect amusement park’ thing.” She laughed softly to herself and wiped away a tear. “I know you can’t see what Slumber is up to, or anything he’s set in motion — but you still know what’s going to happen to you, don’t you?”

Harry looked into her eyes. “Yes.”

“How does this all end?”

“It ends with you taking my soul to Hell.”

Harry and Daemona had moved to the communications room to greet Slumber. Now that giant plasma wall-screens were actually practical Harry had known that the Bond villain in him had to have one for occasions just such as this. He had gotten his at Best Buy.

Harry stood in the center of the round room with Daemona at his side. The huge screen flickered to life and then they were facing the eight-foot tall head of Wolcott Slumber, quite at odds of purpose. Wolcott gave them his most charming smile. Harry thought he looked smarmy, but admitted to himself he might be biased. “Hello there Harry! Glad to finally meet you face to face, as it were.”

“Really.” Harry responded, appearing quite unimpressed.

“Have you met Bentroth? Of course you haven’t. But your little lady there knows him for sure. Knows him real well.” Slumber stepped aside to reveal a burly black haired man with yellow skin and a sharp-toothed smile, wearing an expensive-looking Italian suit. Bentroth had the grin of a man who had the upper hand and was about to use it to twist your arm off. He waved at Daemona.

“Hi girl.”

Slumber stepped back into the screen. “As I’m sure you’re aware by now, there is a ring of naval vessels around your little home here, Harry. Any movement in any direction will be interpreted as an attack, and they will all quite happily blow you out of the water.” Harry turned and whispered something to Daemona. She handed him a legal pad and a Sharpie, and pressed a button on a console. Harry started writing as Slumber continued. “Of course I’m betting you’ll stay right there. Almost praying for it, really. See this?” Wolcott pulled a wicked looking blade, dark with age and use out of the sheath at his waist. “This is what I’m going to kill you with Harry. I’m going to stick this in your throat and…”

The scene rocked to one side as a dull orange glare lit Harry’s screen. The speakers muffled the boom, but instants later the thunder of the explosion rolled over Harry’s house. There was a loud and steady stream of profanity issuing from the communications array. “What the hell is happening? What’s happening!?” There was a fit of coughing. “What is that smell!?” Finally the picture righted itself and a sweating and much less charming Wolcott swam into view. “What is this? What have you done? There was nothing!” There was a loudCLUNK from the TV speakers and Wolcott stumbled forward, crashing his forehead into the camera. As he backed once more into focus, a drop of blood ran into his eye. Harry thought it looked like the man was crying backwards.

“The smell is acetylene gas, Wolcott. Daemona here just remotely ruptured the plastic canisters on the sea bed. That’s why it looks like the ocean is boiling around you. I imagine the explosion was caused by a cigarette.” Wolcott’s eyes widened as he quickly scanned the cabin for lit cigarettes. There were none. The acetylene is also why your little fleet is now dead in the water. The molecules are too small to filtered out by your engines’ air filters. Freezes an internal combustion engine tight.”

Wolcott’s eyes bugged as he stared at Harry on his own, somewhat more ship-practical-sized television screen. “How did you know where were going to be?” Wolcott rounded on Bentroth like a startled leopard, “How did he know where we were going to be!? I’m supposed to destroy him!”

“Relax Wolcott. It isn’t his doing.” Slumber looked as if he wanted to claw at Harry though the screen. Harry did not envy him the news he was about to hear. “Your wish is still functioning perfectly. I cannot use mine to know anything about you or your doings. However, I am still fully aware of the things I am going to do.” Harry held up the legal pad so that Wolcott could see the coordinates written there in black ink. “These are your coordinates, where you are right now. I may not have been able to know directly that you were going to come at me from this particular angle Wolcott, but I certainly knew that I was going to write on this pad. Months ago.” Faint screams began in the background from the speakers. Slumber appeared not to hear.

“It doesn’t matter, Harry.” Wolcott spat the words out like bitter acid. “It doesn’t matter what tricks you have, what you think you know. I’m here, and we are at odds of purpose, and I am going to defeat you, Harold Scotts. Defeat you utterly!.”

“Yeah yeah, I know.” Harry responded placidly. He could hear gunfire from the speakers. Slumber had obviously heard it too but would not be deterred from his cobra-dance with Harry. “That was in Vegas, where you got that wish, am I right?”

“With this knife, Harry.” Wolcott was waving the knife in front of the camera again.

“You were in the Tropicana, losing at poker. Just some mid-level cog in a giant oil machine. Sick of your job and your empty, meaningless existence. But the card dealer turned out to be a demon — offered you the deal of a lifetime.” Wolcott looked momentarily flustered at Harry’s words. Bentroth walked calmly to his side and put a hand on the man’s shoulder. Wolcott regained his composure and once more transfixed Harry under his venomous gaze. Harry, oblivious to the hate, continued. “You wished to be the most powerful man on earth. You wished to be invisible to my special knowledge, and you wished when next we met, to beat me.”

“Destroy you.”

“Aren’t you interested in knowing how I know these things, Wolcott?”

“It doesn’t matter and I don’t care.” Slumber ignored the men in the cabin of his vessel as they began urgently running about shouting orders. Several of them ran from the room.

“I know because I was there Wolcott. Even before you made your wish to be invisible to me, I knew you were a threat, though I couldn’t perceive what kind. I was sitting at that table when you made your deal. Up until that point I had been taking your money quite handily.”

“I… remember you. You were disguised. After I made the deal I beat you in the game…”

“Beat me? Wolcott, there’s no need for modesty now. I would say you destroyed me utterly.”

As the implications of these words sank in, the cabin began to fill with dead men. Countless soldiers sent by the oil nations of the world to kill Harry over the last year, killed themselves by Daemona, and then brought back to a hellish unlife by her demonic power. They now served Harry unswervingly. Daemona blinked at the screen.

“Where were those guys?” she asked.

“I sent them down to wait by the acetylene canisters last week. They were riding the bubbles to the surface.” Daemona looked at Harry blankly, then punched him in the arm. “Ow! That hurt!”

“That’s for not telling me Slumber had already defeated you! I thought you were a goner!”

Harry rubbed his bruised triceps truculently. “I couldn’t chance saying anything. If anyone knew, your old boyfriend there might have caught wind, and the whole plan would have gone in the crapper. I know how to protect myself, but he can read your mind.”

On the screen, Bentroth was watching the dead soldiers tear Wolcott Slumber limb from limb. He had already stopped screaming. The demon looked up into the camera and grinned. “Nice to see you again babe. You got one night left with loverboy here. Hope you remember tomorrow, how nice I’ve been today.”

With that Bentroth leaned over and reached a hand into Wolcott’s chest. He pulled it out again and slid it into the breast pocket of his suit. There was a not-scream that seemed to sing at Harry out of his bones, as if they were all vibrating against each other. The experience left him rattled.

“Bye now.” Betroth winked to Daemona, and was gone.

They stood watching the dead soldiers shamble about the boat’s cabin for almost a minute before Daemona walked to the console and switched it off. She turned to Harry in the darkened room, her softly glowing eyes bathing him an intimate red. “Let’s make it a night to remember.” She led him from the room.

The next morning, Harry was wakened by the sun and the sounds of birds coming in through his window. He was tangled in the sheets and it was a few seconds before he realized Daemona wasn’t in the bed beside him. He looked around and saw her sitting at the foot of the bed, back to him, obviously crying. He went to her, and they sat together, naked and drawing warmth from each other’s bodies for almost an hour. Eventually, she was able to look at him. “I… um… what about all your… plans and stuff?”

“Don’t worry about it Daemona.”

“But when you’re gone, I’ll be back in Hell. Who will see to all of your creations? Who will take over for you?”

“Let’s not talk about that. Let me just look at you. You’re so beautiful. You know that?”

“Harry… be practical, please. Its… its time.”

Harry looked at the clock. “I suppose it is at that. Well, just one more thing then.”

“What’s that?” Daemona sniffed.

“I have one more wish left.” Harry stood and walked in front of her, taking her hands in his. She started to cry openly, knowing that whatever it was, it no longer mattered. It was over. Unless…

“Harry, wish for an heir. You can wish me to be pregnant with your child. I can carry it, it’ll grow to continue your work. Everything you’ve done here, it won’t have been a waste!”

“That’s not what I’m going to wish for, and you know it.”

Daemona couldn’t help looking hurt. “No Harry, I don’t know it. I don’t know what you want, so why don’t you just tell me!” Harry waited a beat and raised her arms, bringing her to her feet. He took her around the shoulders and stared into her tear filled eyes.

“I didn’t tell you what my final wish was for the same reason I didn’t tell you how I planned to defeat Slumber. I know you would never betray me, but Hell knows your mind. Anything you know, they know. I couldn’t take a chance on them moving against me before I was ready.” He smiled at her.

“Okay. So what’s your wish?”

“I wish for an extra soul.”

Daemona blinked once… twice… and a fleeting smile stole across her face. She punched Harry in the arm. “OW! Stop it! I told you that hurt!” Harry said, but his grin belied the protest. Daemona reached into Harry’s chest, and pulled out one of a pair of ephemeral nothings, nothings that meant the world to Harry. She smiled, sniffed, and wiped her nose on the back of her hand.

“Be right back.” she said, and disappeared.

4 Responses to 144-Terror of the Seas

  1. Finally! A variation on a tired old theme that is fresh and interesting. If you ever put that to comic form I’d certainly by a copy.