The pain was incredible, but he didn’t cry out. It fit him, it was supposed to be there in his heart and veins and every nerve. The thing in front of him leapt for him – he felt that more than saw it. He threw up a barrier and though it broke it, it was bounced back. By then Bryan had snapped the arm off of a pew. He swung it with all the force he could pull from himself and struck the thing in the head with a satisfying crunk.
It went down, skull cracked, skin torn from the scalp, but it didn’t stay down. It was only slightly fazed. Bryan tried to hit it again but it both blasted him backwards and ran for him. The only thing that saved him was another barrier he put up to save his bones as he struck the wall, and a temporary loss of coordination in his enemy.
He lamented giving up his knife after the first Eternal fight. If he had it now he wouldn’t be wasting all this time. He swung the chunk of wood and only grazed the thing as it stepped back. Then it threw up containment around Bryan, and Bryan did the same back.
He didn’t have time for this. If the Possesseds captured all the demons he wouldn’t have anything to work with. And then this would have all been for nothing.
The crack of a gunshot filled the room, and the thing fell, its containment dropping from Bryan so quickly that Bryan nearly fell on top of it. Harper ran over to stand on top of it and fired four more rounds point-blank into its skull.
Had she had that gun from the beginning, or did the Office issue it to her after he had gone nuts? Why hadn’t she told him?
There was no time to dwell on it. The marks from the chunk of wood were already stitched back together, and the bulletholes wouldn’t be there for longer than a few seconds. Bryan grabbed its foot and pulled it towards where the gate had opened, dragging it through the blood and gore that had once been Skinner and Coates, leaving a trail of red down the aisle.
“What are you doing?” Harper said, following him.
“Getting rid of it.” His voice was deep, rich as if it were two voices speaking at once.
He shouted to the Possesseds to get out of his way, and shoved them aside if they didn’t listen. He saw their eyes dart to him and back to their task, and he saw wild fear and determination in them all. They were leaving this to him. Skinner and Coates had tried to help – had helped – but now they were dead. The rest couldn’t do anything, could only do what was in their job description. They were counting on him to figure out something.
He couldn’t fuck up this time.
The thing kicked, and Harper fired more rounds at it.
“That’s all I have,” she shouted.
“That’s good enough,” Bryan said. “Barrier yourself and get to the platform.”
Instead she grabbed the thing’s other foot and helped him drag it. But she did think to barrier herself. By the time they got it on the platform it was twitching again.
Bryan looked around for something to strike it with, but Harper snatched up the podium with demonic and likely adrenalic strength and brought it down on the thing’s skull, smashing it completely.
“Jesus,” Cam said. He had jumped up there with them. So had Hussein. They both looked like hell. There were two demons currently housing in Hussein, but he was taking it. He had to – he couldn’t put either of them away while keeping up such a strong barrier around himself.
Bryan didn’t have a barrier. The demons didn’t seem interested in him. He had known they wouldn’t be.
He didn’t have time to think about it.
“You’ll have to throw him in,” he shouted at the three around him. He didn’t have to shout. Sure there was chaos going on, but besides cries of pain there was little to be said when capturing. But the energy in the room seemed to command shouting.
“Throw him where?” Hussein shouted back.
Bryan didn’t answer. He knew now the words the hooded figures in the dead place chanted. It was like he could finally think clearly, that he had never thought clearly in his life prior to this moment. Even as acid coursed through his veins and his muscles sang his thoughts were clear.
Soft clicks came from the thing. Its skull was knitting back together, the brain seeping back in through the cracks.
“Jesus,” Cam said again.
Bryan spoke. It wasn’t English. It wasn’t any language of this world. It was a language from worlds upon worlds away, not even of this universe. He stumbled the first couple of times, his mouth and throat unused to the sounds, getting the feel of them. Then he had it.
Every demon not yet captured flew to where the gate had opened, called there by his words. A new gate opened, formed of the demons. Because that’s what the gates were – a funnel made of demons, linking one Earth to the next. How had he not known that?
Harper and Cam and Hussein lifted the body as Bryan went on repeating the words, willing the gate to stay open, the demons to swirl into nothingness. Because this gate didn’t link to another Earth. One Possessed didn’t have that kind of power. This gate went nowhere, went only to the space between Earths, and that was good enough for this.
The thing was together now, its eyes focusing, its mind realizing what was happening. As it was tossed through the gate it grabbed Harper’s wrist, and she went with it.
Cam caught her, but fell in halfway himself before Hussein caught him by his other arm.
Bryan halted his speech for the briefest of moments, wanting to stop. Wanting the gate to close them off. Harper would be gone, Cam might be pulled in as it collapsed. He would be rid of them.
Why would he want to be rid of them?