Chapter 50: I

I

Outside the house, Kodek threw Anna into the backseat of Petersen’s revving Buick. As soon as he got her in, his hand began frantically pulling at the last of the black creature before it slithered completely inside her face. It kept slipping through his fingers! Panic his him like a bucket of water.

What happened?” Petersen yelled from the driver’s seat. “Where’s Lizzie?!!”

She’s dead! Fuck! Go!”

Where?!”

Hospital! We have to get the baby out of her!” Kodek had managed to get his fingers between the thing and Anna’s cheek, and when he pulled he could feel the sedative of the underside spikes already putting his hand to sleep. “GO!!”

Petersen hit the gas.

As the Buick sped down the street, screeching as Petersen took the corner with a rock hard left, Kodek began laughing maniacally as he was able to retract the creature’s black jelly-like tentacles from her face. Unfortunately, the thing decided that if it couldn’t have Anna’s face, then it was going for the car. It seem to actually grow new protrusions that formed/shot out from itself and stuck like suction-cups to the interior of the car… and then the blackness started to spread out, coating the interior of the Buick with alien shit. The inside of the car looked like it was being taken over by The Blob.

Shit!” Petersen screamed as he sped the vehicle towards the hospital. “Not again!”

Kodek figured he was referring to the alien battle they’d survived outside of the company warehouse. That seemed like eons ago, now. And then suddenly, everything when BLACK behind the sound of screaming metal and smashing glass.

Sirens. Red flashing lights. Sounds like voices over a radio…

Unnnnghhh….

What the fuck am I doing? Kodek wondered to himself, pacing in the sterile, vacuous hallway. Me. I. 1. Yes, 1… One of these days… The sound of the double doors as they swooshed/chunked open. He stepped through the hospital elevator doors, turned, and hit the DOWN button. The square illuminated orange and the elevator doors began to close. You’re thinking too much… again. Just go get yourself a coffee, he told himself. Try to keep calm. The doctors said the baby should be fine. Anna was currently unconscious and they were about to C-section the newborn out of her. At least we’re alive. Petersen was alive too, downstairs in the lobby trying to track down a doughnut at midnight. Good luck. The bandage wrapping Kodek’s head itched.

And no sign of the Black-Thing tentacled/dripping Mass…

A prodigious hand shot into the elevator just as the doors were about to close tight, and the safety bar kicked the doors open again. The hulking Greek fella stepped into the elevator.

Sorry about that – thanks,” he smiled at Kodek.

Big fucker.

I overheard the doctors talking to you. They said you little girl was going to be alright. That’s good.” The Greek stuck his hand out. “Oh, and, congratulations.”

Instead of shaking the man’s hand, Kodek looked at the button panel inside the elevator. “What floor?”

Lobby, I guess,” The man said. “So, what’s her name?”

Anna,” Kodek grumbled. He really wasn’t in the mood for a conversation. It was late and his head was throbbing, and if the truth were to be told, the absence of the Black Mass seemed a little malicious and its whereabouts was grating on his mind. We were all unconscious until the ambulance showed up… it could have gone anywhere!

Anna,” The Greek said, “Nice name for a new daughter.”

New daughter? “Oh, no, Anna’s my wife’s name. Our little girl… Well, we haven’t thought of a name yet. We were thinking Ro-”

I’m sorry, that must’ve been a bit rude,” the Greek said, turning to Kodek and offering his hand again. “I’m Thaddeus. Sometimes I can be a bit forward without even thinking about it.”

Fuck, these hospital elevators a slow, Kodek’s mind screamed silently. His head was itching like a motherfucker, now.

Thaddeus?” Kodek double-checked, taking the Greek’s hand this time and giving it a firm shake. “I’m Kodek.”

Kodek, huh? That’s an interesting name.”

Yeah, well, so is Thaddeus, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

Not at all,” Thaddeus said good-naturedly.

Only other place I’ve heard that name before was in a Stephen King novel.”

Yes,” Thaddeus agreed, “The Dark Half.”

That’s right. I’m glad you remembered, because that would’ve driven me crazy all night.”

Thaddeus smiled. “Opening scene in that book was in a hospital, too.”

Too?

You’ve read it, too?” Kodek asked.

Yeah. I wanted to see where my parents got the name from.”

Kodek felt a chill roll down his spine. “You were named after the character in that book?”

Yeah. Parents were big Stephen King fans. I have a brother named Jordy Verrill. Well, those are his first two names. Obviously, he has the same last name as me…”

Kodek had stopped listening. “Um,” he interrupted, “That Stephen King book you were named after?”

Yes?” Thaddeus raised an eyebrow. He knew he’d fucked up.

Wasn’t that just published last year?” Kodek asked.

Was it?” Thaddeus asked back. “Damn…” he muttered. And then his hand shot out, and before Kodek could stop it, Thaddeus hit the EMERGENCY STOP button. “I really should stop telling that story. Only thing is, you’re the first person who’s ever pointed it out.”

People should read more.”

Maybe.”

Did Larry send you here?”

Larry the Brain?” Thaddeus clarified. “No. I was asked to come here by someone else. I was asked to tell you not to go after Brain.”

I don’t even know where the hell he is. Besides, I’ve got a wife and a new daughter and I’m not going anywhere until I know they’re alright.”

They’ll be alright,” Thaddeus told him, and the funny thing was, as soon as Thaddeus said that, Kodek could feel all the tension release from his being. Like he knew on some metaphysical level that the big Greek was right. “Brain’s hid himself in the loop,” Thaddeus went on.

The Loop?”

That’s what the execs at Morimoto are calling it now. It’s one of the new corporate buzz words. For us, anyway.”

Us. Interesting.

We figure he’s hiding out in Los Angeles somewhere in the sixties writing episodes for The Twilight Zone. But he’s screwed, the corpse he was using as a doorway is totally rotted now, because he got that thing stuck in its own loop, too. Massive inter-dimensional degeneration.”

Kodek couldn’t tell if Thaddeus was fucking with him or not. “Corpse?”

Zarana.”

Do I know her?”

Thaddeus mumbled something that Kodek didn’t quite catch, but his mind was already onto something else, anyway.

But you aren’t going to get him,” Thaddeus continued “This is all done. As they say, not with a bang, but a whimper. Brain’s out of The Corporation, he’s fucked, he likely won’t find his way back, and you’re not supposed to go looking for him.”

Fucking mind-readers. “Why not?”

It’s for your own good,” Thaddeus said flatly. “Excuse me,” he cleared his throat, “your own safety, is what I meant.” He reached out and hit the DOWN button, and after a moment, the elevator began to move again.

What about the documents I have?” Kodek asked.

Thaddeus shrugged. “Things change, documents go out of date and information becomes redundant over enough time…”

Did The Corporation send you?”

Thaddeus grinned. “We’re all The Corporation, now.”

DING!

The elevator doors opened, and they got out on the Lobby floor. “Remember,” Thaddeus placed his fedora on his head, “Don’t go after Brain. Even if he comes back. Safety first, right?”

Sure,” Kodek said. Thaddeus gave him a thumbs-up and disappeared through the front doors of the hospital.

Who was that?” Petersen appeared with a plastic-wrapped doughnut.

He said he was from The Corporation, like all of us.”

Petersen tried to chew the plastic packaging open. “Is everything okay? Didn’t look like we were in deep shit, or anything.”

I don’t know,” Kodek said, and finally turned his attention away from the glass hospital doors, and the dark night beyond.

Where’d you get that doughnut?” he asked Petersen, a little more life in his voice now. He really was starting to feel better.

Vending machine,” Petersen hiked a thumb back over his shoulder. “Around the corner.”

Hang on,” Kodek said, taking the plastic-wrapped doughnut from Petersen’s teeth and turning it over, inspecting the wrapper. “This thing expired last month,” Kodek told him.

Petersen shrugged and continued to tear at the wrapper with a slightly determined frown.

Nobody listens anymore, Kodek observed. “They got coffee there, too?” he asked.

Yeah.”

They both headed around the corner, behind the set of elevators. Kodek thought back to what Thaddeus had said: That Brain wouldn’t likely find his way back. Likely… Eleven floors up, Kodek’s new daughter began screaming. Anna would be unconscious for a while yet. And outside, things got a little darker when the clouds drifted across the moon, blocking the light of the night. And Thaddeus was nowhere to be found.

Somewhere, out there in the darkness, things continued to go on as they always would, while someone whimpered, and elsewhere, somewhere off in the far distance of the night, Kodek could make out the thin sounds of an old Black Sabbath song from the eighties, with Ronnie James Dio singing, who at this point in time was miles away from dying by his undetected stomach cancer. He heard the song in his mind… “I, I, I…!”

Kodek had always been a fan of music.

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