Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Mel/Johnny, Charles/Doris, Carter Baum
Fandom: Public Enemies
Genres: Challenge, Holiday, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction
Rating: (this chapter): R
Warnings: Please note that this story will contain gore, violence and character deaths. Each chapter will have their individual warnings. This chapter: Gore, violence, character death, cannibalism
General Summary: On Halloween, the Bankers Building becomes a literal House of Horrors.
Chapter Summary: The Monster continues its murderous hunt.
Date Of Completion: October 15, 2011
Date Of Posting: October 31, 2011
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Universal does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1951
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for my 2011 Guns_Fedoras Public Enemies Fic/Art Halloween Challenge. Option 1: (Elements of Halloween used set in or around Halloween: Pumpkins/Jack O’Lanterns, Black-And-Orange, Monsters).
All chapters can be found here.
THE SMELL OF THE GRAVE
Is damp and dark,
As despair settles
O’er like a shroud.
Pain roared through him as Mel screamed again, a red film lowering over his eyes like a theater curtain. Like a wounded animal he fought on instinct, the throbbing pain enveloping his entire body. The pain was primeval, filling him with its relentless fiery needles, but a flicker of thought was centered on Johnny as he hoped that he could get away.
The smell of the grave pushed him down as he fell, fell, fell away…
“Johnny, take Charles and run!”
Johnny heard Mel’s warning and said urgently to Charles, “Take off, cowboy!” Charles was still dazed but he obeyed the gangster’s command and ran out into the hall. Johnny grabbed a rifle out of the cabinet just as a terrible roar spilled out of the hallway, followed by Mel’s agonized scream. Heart pounding, he dashed into the hall.
What he saw was seared into his brain: Frankenstein’s Monster had grabbed hold of Mel, blood spurting from his ruined shoulder as the Monster methodically pulled, separating flesh from bone.
Terrified, Johnny raised the rifle and fired, hitting the Monster in the chest. Howling in rage, the creature threw Mel at Johnny. The gangster grabbed his lover and pulled him by his good arm. Johnny cried out as sharp nails nicked his left eye and cheek and grazed his side, drawing blood. He and Mel staggered, the agent’s eyes pain-glazed as the Monster shuffled after them.
“Hurry, darlin’. Oh, I’m so sorry.”
Panic fueled Johnny as he pushed Mel through the squadroom and out into the hall, the smell of decay and death turning his stomach. Charles was holding the elevator doors open and Johnny nearly sobbed as he pushed Mel inside, the Monster howling as it moved inexorably toward them. Johnny wrapped his arms around Mel as Charles hit the button to close the doors, a gnarled hand inches from getting caught.
Johnny held onto Mel tightly, Charles standing like a statue at the control panel while they descended. His eye watered as it stung, blood running down his cheek and side. The elevator reached the bottom, the doors opening out into the basement. They staggered out into the darkness, finding a half-empty storeroom. Charles locked the door behind them as he switched on the lone lightbulb.
Johnny helped lower Mel to the floor, propping him against the wall. He felt sick as he saw the blood soaking Mel’s jacket and shirt. He stroked Mel’s sheet-white face as the agent whimpered.
“It’s okay, Sunshine, it’s okay.” Johnny fumbled for his handkerchief and he tied it around Mel’s shoulder. Mel sobbed in pain, Johnny apologizing over and over as he felt the fear tie his guts in knots. “I’m sorry, darlin’, I know it hurts.” He tried to ignore his own pain in his side.
Mel looked up at Johnny with pain-glazed eyes. “Johnny?”
“Yes, darlin.” Johnny caressed his cheek with a shaking hand.
“We’ll get out of here. I won’t let it hurt you anymore.”
“It hurts,” Mel moaned.
“I know.” Johnny kissed his lover’s temple, stroking his hair as tears streamed down his cheeks. “I know, sweetheart.” Mel gasped softly. “What is it?”
Johnny put a hand to his face and it came away sticky with blood. His eye was filling with blood, too.
Mel further pointed a shaking finger to Johnny’s shirt, which was soaked in blood. Part of his greatcoat had been torn away, leaving jagged edges.
“What’s goin’ on here?” Charles asked with a slight tremor to his voice.
“Dunno.” Johnny tried to tamp down his worry about Mel’s blood loss and the burning pain in his own face and side. “Mel thinks we’ve been invaded by aliens from outer space and I guessed supernatural forces since it’s Halloween. Whatever it is, we’re in…” He looked up as he heard a rifle bolt being pulled back. “Charles?”
“The fog’s lifted, Johnny-boy.” Charles’ eyes were like blue steel. “Whatever spell that thing cast on me, it’s gone now.”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m gonna go kill me a monster.”
Johnny stood and grabbed Charles’ arm. “You can’t go up against that thing alone! I’ll go with you.”
“You stay with your man. That thing killed Jerry and Doc. I plan to avenge ‘em.”
“You need a chance…”
“I can get some explosives from the squadroom. I know where the key to the cabinet is.” He set his jaw. “That thing is not gonna kill someone else.”
“I still think you need help.”
Charles shook his head. “You’re not one hundred percent yourself, Dillinger.” He looked at Mel, who was struggling to stay conscious. “Stay with Mel.” He drew Johnny aside. “He’s real bad off. He needs tendin’, and if…well, you wouldn’t want him to die in this dirty storeroom all alone, would ya?” At Johnny’s stricken look, Charles squeezed his shoulder. “That stringbean’s a lot stronger than he looks. Take good care of him. He loves you somethin’ fierce.” He took a deep breath. “Tell Doris I love her.” Johnny nodded, distress in his amber eyes.
Charles unlocked the door and went out into the darkness.
Doris stood silently with Carter and the other agents and police. Construction workers were attempting to open the front door with acetylene torches. So far they were having no luck. The blackened windows hid horrible secrets.
Crowds of curious citizens had gathered, some in costume on their way to parties. Doris slipped her hand into Carter’s and gripped it hard. He squeezed back. Clouds blotted out the moonlight, a cold wind sweeping down from Lake Michigan. She grabbed her skirt to keep it from flying up. Only the murmur of radio reporters could be heard in the silence, the street blocked off so no cars went by.
Doris felt a heavy foreboding as the wind blew stronger and the windows began to weep blood.
Charles was in full hunter mode. He had stopped by the squadroom and picked up his weapons and now was hunting a monster. His blood was running cold as his gaze was steely-eyed. He no longer knew fear. He was a Hunter and nothing would stop him from getting his prey now.
“Johnny…Charles…” Mel clutched Johnny’s shirt, his body trembling. His skin was cold to the touch.
“Charles is doin’ what he’s gotta do, darlin’.” Johnny put his greatcoat around the two of them. They had no way out unless Charles did what he intended to do. Maybe if he was successful, they could get out of here. Somehow that monster was the reason they couldn’t get out through the lobby doors. He was sure of it.
If anyone can kill that monster, it’s that crazy Texan.
Here was their last stand. If the Monster found them, Johnny would fire his revolver but if that did not stop him, he would use the gun on Mel and then himself before he would allow either of them to suffer the kind of pain that Mel had already endured. He tightened his grip a little harder as Mel shook in his embrace. Johnny kissed his lover’s temple
“I love you,” he said softly.
Mel sighed. “I love you, too.”
“I’m glad I came.”
They were quiet for several minutes, then Johnny said, “Do you believe in Fate?”
“Maybe, though I’d like to…think free will…has a hand in our lives.”
“Maybe it does. Or maybe we’re on a path from the day we’re born.”
“My, so…philosophical, Mr. Dillinger.”
Johnny felt a pleasant shiver go down his spine as honeyed Southern tones delighted him. He had always been affected the way since Mel had said his name since their first meeting in the Tucson jail.
“You rub off on me, Sunshine. In more ways than one,” he smirked, trying to keep his own panic down.
Mel chuckled weakly. He shuddered as his fingers gripped Johnny’s shirt, trying to ride out the pain. Johnny kissed his cheek, trying desperately to hold Mel to this world.
“I know, Sunshine.” Johnny rubbed his back. “Soon we’ll be warm and safe. That cowboy of yours is gonna see to that.”
Mel’s voice was faint as he said, “Jerry…was killed. Charles knew him…a long time…”
“Stay with me, Mel. Stay with me!” Johnny pleaded.
Mel’s head lolled against Johnny’s shoulder. “The thing came from outer space…” He chuckled softly, ending in a sob. “It hurts so much…Johnny.”
“I know, honey, I know.” Johnny was heartsick as he saw the fresh blood growing dark on Mel’s shoulder and running down his arm. Tourniquet or not, his Mel was losing too much blood too rapidly. He thought of Charles’ words about Mel dying alone in this place and wanted to scream to an uncaring Universe to save his Sunshine.
Why is this happening? Why did so many good people have to die tonight?
But of course, he never got an answer. Maybe it was just as well. If the answer was that the Universe just didn’t give a flying fuck, it kind of made everything pointless, didn’t it? Better to believe that someone up there cared, even if only a little, because Mel mattered, damnit! That he knew, deep in his soul.
“Don’t leave me, darlin’!” he begged.
Mel looked up with clouded eyes, but his mouth curved into a smile. “Not until my last breath,” he said in a whisper, and Johnny sobbed as he carefully hugged his Sunshine.
Charles could smell it. It was close by, waiting for its next victim.
Well, there ain’t gonna be a next victim.
He caressed his shotgun. He had a tommygun, revolver, and the goodies that he had taken from the squadroom, carried in a bag slung over his shoulder like an avenging Santa Claus. His World War I ordnance training was going to come in handy.
He smiled as he rounded the corner and saw the Monster. He lifted the shotgun and fired.
Outside, Doris wrapped her hands around a cup of hot coffee. She was not fond of the circus atmosphere with vendors showing up, but coffee was welcome right now.
She nearly dropped the cup as an inhuman howl pierced the night air. Everyone stared at the Bankers Building as blood seeped down the façade, the windows weeping.
Everyone held their breath, sensing the end, one way or another. Doris closed her eyes and prayed as Carter put his arm around her shoulders.
Johnny held on tightly to Mel, not caring that blood was soaking into his clothes. His blood mingled with Mel’s, and he was glad that they were together. Mel clung to him, his breathing ragged.
Johnny heard the howl as it shook the building, and hope flared in his heart. He projected his willpower upstairs, wishing that he could help the cowboy, but he would never leave his Mel. No matter what happened, they would face it together.
Charles emptied the shotgun, then picked up the tommygun and let the bullets fly. The Monster roared as it staggered, but it still kept coming. Charles put in another clip and it still kept coming. He grabbed the grenades from the bag and released the pin on the first one, throwing it with unerring accuracy at the Monster’s chest.
With a howl, the Monster lurched forward and Charles attacked again, yelling as he made his last stand.
The explosion rocked the Bankers Building, the windows on the top floor shattering. The glass rained down on the street below as the crowds ran.
The shards glittered ruby-tipped in the moonlight.