(This is part two of my Halloween adventure. I would suggest reading part one first.)
Hydrangea waits patiently for me to finish throwing up. Nearby, the headless body of the zombie cop is still twitching. His head is around here somewhere.
“Gaagh,” I manage, spitting.
“Are you okay?” Hydrangea says.
I straighten myself, try to recapture some dignity.
“Sorry,” I say. “I think it’s that salmon I ate.”
We hear them coming before we see them; moaning, gargling, knocking shit over, stumbling around in the dark inside the Museum. Then they burst out of the loading bay door: a pack of ravenous ghouls. There’s about a dozen of them, all with that same hungry glazed look, all with the same reaching, tearing claws.
“Stand back!” she says.
Hydrangea gestures with her gloved arms and right before her in mid-air, a glowing Asian symbol appears. She shouts something like “Shoyeee cham!” and just unleashes Hell.
A howling wave of concussive force blasts out of the glowing symbol, pulverizing the throng of advancing zombies. They splatter like they’re made out of fragile bags of blood.
My ears pop.
The air smells of ozone.
The glowing symbol fades.
The entire loading bay is now awash in blood and unrecognizable organic matter. There are only a few recognizably human parts. I would throw up if it would help.
“What the fuck was that? I didn’t know you could do that? What the fuck was that?”
“It’s a lost discipline; sound as a weapon.”
From inside the Museum we hear an unearthly bellowing.
“Come,” she says. “Yungtun-Trogyal knows we are here.”
We pick our way through puddles of blood and mounds of brain and gut and enter the Museum. It’s dark in here on this lower level.
“Shasti,” she says, and a ball of light appears in front of us, floating like Tinkerbell.
“Neat!” I say, then instantly feel stupid.
Hydrangea whispers something in Tibetan to Tinkerbell and it speeds off down a black hallway.
“It will seek out the lama,” she says.
We hear more bellowing from deeper inside the museum, and what sounds suspiciously like zombies. Hydrangea is staring off into space; I imagine that she’s controlling or watching Tinkerbell gliding through the Museum.
“Anything?” I ask. She shushes me.
More screaming, howling. It sounds like more ghouls coming this way.
“Come on,” I say.
The zombie noises – moaning, bumping into shit – are getting louder. Then I see them, lurching and shambling down the hallway towards us: another dozen ravenous ghouls. Has this Yungtun guy been saving up all these ghouls for Halloween or something?
“Heidi!” I say. She’s still staring into space.
The Hungry Ghost zombies pour forward, hissing and groaning.
“Come on, hurry up! I see dead people!” Sorry, I was under a lot of stress. I can't be funny 100% of the time.
Her eyes snap open and she looks at me. She’s beautiful, fierce. “He’s above us, on the main floor! I must destroy him! Hold them off!”
Hydrangea spins and runs outside, leaving me to face the zombie horde.
Luckily, I still have my tire iron.
Killing zombies is like anything; once you do it once, it keeps getting easier. I swat the lead zombie (a groundskeeper with a big chunk missing from his neck) in the head. The combination of tire iron and super strength makes quick work of his head, leaving me with a headless body that sprays blood all over my armor. Great.
A couple more zombies stumble forward, clawing at me. I kick one back into the advancing mob and backhand the other with the tire iron. Another one down.
I swing, and another one loses a head. Then another. One of the zombies grabs me around the waist and starts gnawing at my armor. I drive the tire iron down into its head. It lets go.
And at one point, in this gory vignette that would make Conan the Barbarian sick, at one point I think to myself, It’s Halloween and I’m killing the undead. This is so awesome.
Then I hear Hydrangea scream and it stops being fun.
The Asian Art Museum is a monolithic post modern structure made of enduring stone; there is no way I could hear her scream if she were upstairs, particularly in the middle of a zombie orgy of death. It must be the dorje.
The other day she gave me a dorje, a Tibetan charm or amulet or something ( see post Hydrangea 10/28). She said it could be used to communicate with her. I had forgotten that I had it in my utility belt, along with the phurba, the ritual dagger…
A zombie claws at my face. There are still six of these guys, in between me and her.
I bust a textbook roundhouse kick on this zombie and kick his head clean off. Wow, that works.
I bull my way through the rest of the zombies and run down the corridor they just came from. I can hear them behind me, roaring and groaning. Fuck ‘em, I’ll come back and behead them later.
I switch to night vision on my goggles as I run down the hall. There’s got to be a stairway or something…
I hear her scream again, then a roar like a lion.
“Fuck!” Where are the fucking stairs in this fucking place?
I find a broad staircase of white stone leading up. A sign says EXHIBITS. I take the stairs six at a time and skid to a halt on the slick marble of the main floor. It’s dark, except for the eerie green glow of the exit signs. How am I going to find her? This place is huge.
I shouldn’t have worried. A huge flash of fiery light bursts from the Himalayan Culture exhibit to my left. I charge in, bloody tire iron in hand.
“Heidi!” I scream.
Hydrangea lies motionless on the floor of a large exhibit room full of prayer wheels and masks and rugs. On the other side of the room a skinny shirtless white guy with glasses sits in the lotus position. Some kind of energy vortex spins on the wall behind him like a black hole. The 21st century model of Yungtun-Trogyal, I assume. And between the skinny guy and Hydrangea –
--a giant red Tibetan demon, floating in mid-air.
She’s dead, I know it. He’s killed her.
The Tibetan demon turns towards me. It’s like a big evil genie; the demon’s lower body disappears in a column of red smoke. The top half looks solid enough – red leathery skin stretched over a muscular frame. It has big bulging eyes, gleaming tusks, and crazy black hair. It has a necklace of human skulls.
“Kharabi sahandru!” the demon says in a deep voice.
A giant flaming scimitar materializes in the demon’s hands.
The white guy is still in the lotus position, eyes closed. The weird vortex of dark matter behind him still spins. What did she say the guy’s name was? The host body for the lama?
The demon is coming now, raising his fiery blade.
I leap out of the way as the blade comes down with a mighty cymbal crash. Sparks fly.
Edwin? Albert? What’s his name?
The demon swipes at me again. I roll out of the way. From my utility belt I pull out my phurba, the ugly little knife that cost me five hundred fucking dollars. Hydrangea said it was a fake, made in Bali, but right now, I’ll take what I can get.
Albert. Albert Meers, that’s his name.
Roaring, the demon spits fire like a dragon. Direct hit. What feels like hot lava splashes over my chest. I can see nothing but fire.
Fuck this. On fire, I charge towards Albert Meers, a.k.a. Yungtun-Trogyal, the wrathful and victorious teacher of evil, towards the fucker that killed Heidi.
I yell, “Albert Meers!”
His eyes open. For a second, he looks surprised, confused, like he’s waking from a dream.
I ram the fake phurba right in his chest.
Albert Meers, insurance agent from Omaha, NE screams as he looks down at the cheap Balinese trinket imbedded I his sternum. He screams as blue fire suddenly engulfs him. He screams as his features burn away and in his place, screaming, is Yungtun-Trogyal, the Tibetan sorcerer, awash in fire. The evil old man howls in pain.
Behind me, the Tibetan demon blows away as if it’s made of smoke.
Yungtun-Trogyal reaches for me with skeletal hands, burning. Just for good measure I brain him with the tire iron.
The fire goes out as the wizard flops to the floor, headless. The spinning dark vortex winks out of existence.
I drop the tire iron with a clatter and run over to Hydrangea. She’s not moving.
“Heidi!” I grab her, shake her gently. I should take a first aid course because I’m pretty sure that’s not what you’re supposed to do to injured people.
She coughs and her eyes flutter open behind the domino mask.
“Wh-what--?” she manages.
“It’s okay,” I say. “It’s okay, everything’s okay.”
She smiles weakly as she surveys the scene.
“You saved me,” she says, in her Katherine Hepburn voice.
Hydrangea gently grabs the back of my neck with a gloved hand and pulls me close. She smells good.
“I like it when you call me Heidi,” she says softly.
We kiss for a long time.