12.b: The Battle For Hell Is Underway!

It was Reverend Tommy’s voice.

It had that same stilted, booming quality that sounds both fake and super-real, the kind of voice that draws you in and compels you to keep listening. I paused, for just a second, as he yelled it, although to be fair I would have probably paused anyway because of the scene that was unveiling.

I saw Reverend Tommy on a winged horse, diving down underneath the mountain, which was being held up in the air by those two giants. There was a whole horde of Valkyries behind him, in what I assumed must be battle formation, while others spread out around and to the sides of us. There were probably, I don’t know, like 200 of them.

Then, on the ground, was a crowd of people that might have been two or three thousand thick, people like the ones I’d seen from time to time: bedraggled, torn up, half-eaten, scarred, horrifying and horrified souls, rushing forwards as Reverend Tommy yelled at them.

“Spare nobody,” he said. “All of the Blockers must be sent to their destinations,” and though he wasn’t yelling his voice carried somehow over the din that was the sound of six thousand dead feet rushing forward, of 600 wings flapping and carrying spear-wielding beautiful naked women, of demons growling. Reverend Tommy was carrying nothing himself; he simply held the reins of his horse and waved his arms, directing people. There were ray guns popping and crackling all over and I could smell the electric feeling in the air.

“Come on!” Steve gasped at me and tugged on my arm.

“Let her go,” Brigitte’s father said. “You’re time has ended. Can’t you see that?’

“It’s you who ended, piecemeal old man,” Steve snarled, and shoved Brigitte’s dad, who stumbled back.

“Do you want me to take care of him?” one of the guards said. Steve shook his head.

“He may still be of use. We need the Reacher, though. Hurry.”

He grabbed my hand and pulled me along with him.

“I’m not sure…”

“You’d better be sure. Do you think they’ll spare you?” He pointed back.

Kill them all!” yelled Reverend Tommy and I saw him pointing towards the still-idle group of zombies that Steve had assembled. I recalled his sermons before. I looked at the crowd of people rushing towards the motionless ranks of… all the girls that were like me. The horses swooped down and ducked towards them.

Steve said to me:

“Tell them to fight.”

“What?” I asked. He was tugging me towards them, and towards a rocky box that stood near them.

Tell them to fight. They are your army. They will do what you say.”


Steve put his hand on his head and continued forward. Men in polo shirts shooting ray guns rushed past the other way, all under the shadow of the still-upheld mountain. I wondered by Reverend Tommy didn’t have the two giant demons simply throw it back down and crush us all.

Then I got nervous that he’d think of that and I moved faster.

“They will listen to you. That’s what I’ve explained. You are their queen, the one who can command the lesbian zombies that have been created throughout history. Recent history, anyway. Or older. I don’t know. But you are it.”

“Why me?”

I don’t know. Tell them to fight!” I looked where he was pointing and saw the crowd of people had reached the lesbian zombie army and was knocking them down, beating them up. The zombies… my people?... didn’t react.

NOW!” Steve yelled.

“FIGHT THEM!” I yelled as loud as I could. “FIGHT BACK AND WIN!” I didn’t know what to say. Given what you know of my life, so far, I suppose it goes without saying that I’d never commanded an army of put-together dead naked women before.

The zombie army jumped to life. The women turned and began fighting and yelling and howling and pushing and shoving. It was hand-to-hand combat, punching and kicking and screaming and the sounds of body after body clashing into each other as the two crowds of people… the two armies, I guess, rumbled into each other.

Steve kept tugging me forward and I tried to watch them fight as I was following him. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go with him wherever he was going, but I knew I had no hope going with Reverend Tommy. I heard rock creaking and looked up. The two giant demons were shuffling off to the side, holding the mountain, and I felt a little better about that. We were almost to the little rock cage. A ray gun beam passed really near me and I looked back, wondering why Steve’s guys were shooting at us. But they weren’t: some of the people in Reverend Tommy’s army had picked up the ray guns of people who’d they beaten up or killed and were shooting them towards us.

“They need better directions,” Steve said. “Give them more goals. They’re simply fighting anyone they see, anyone who’s not a lesbian zombie.”

“What?!” I said. “This is crazy! I’m not a general or something. I don’t know what to do.”

Steve pulled up alongside the little rock cage thing we’d been heading for. We flattened ourselves against it and I looked back. I could see the remnants of the Blockers’ headquarters, beds and desks and computers and the Map, still all standing but without the carved-out mountain around them. The polo shirted guys were outnumbered by Reverend Tommy’s army, but they had better weapons and were more disciplined than the damned souls that Reverend Tommy was commanding and would have won but the Valkyries were obviously, even to me, the difference. They were in formation and swooping down and stabbing guys and grabbing ray guns and tossing them to the dead people and hemming people in. I watched as one horse got in the way of a ray gun and dropped, and even as it did, two other Valkyries swooped in: one caught the falling woman and the other stabbed the shooter in the head with her spear.

“Tell them to move towards the left and flank the dead people around the back. Tell them to start picking up the ray guns that they find and shooting them. Tell them to watch what the others are doing and learn from them.”


Do it!” Steve said, and I did it, repeating his words as much as I could and as loudly. I saw the lesbian zombies spread their naked line of fighters off to my left, the ones behind who hadn’t yet been able to fight moving around and cornering the damned souls in between them. Some of them, nearer to us, I saw wrestle away ray guns and begin shooting at the damned souls.

“Tell them to target the Valkyries,” Steve said.

“Now, wait,” I said.

“Just do it! Those women are killing my men.”

“I’m not mad at the…”

“Do it! Do it or I’ll..”

I turned towards Steve and said “Or you’ll what?” but I was distracted as I did that because I caught a glimpse of what was in the cage that we’d taken refuge in front of.

It was hard to catch more than a glimpse of, really, because it was… weird. That’s the best word I can use to describe it. It looked like a demon crossed with a monkey, a short little thing that had really long arms and really short legs and a squat, demon head with fangs all over the place, and its hands were even larger than that, but that’s only an approximation because as I looked at it, it seemed to suddenly be huge – like, it was bigger than the whole world we were in, which can’t be, right? Then it was tiny, then it was long and short all at the same time: somehow stretching for miles and then tiny, then it was a speck, and then it was like a mountain, and this was all at the same time. I couldn’t, I decided, look right at it. Looking at it was the seeing equivalent of standing on super-slippery ice: the same way your feet never get a hold on the ice, the same way you never trust where you’re standing, the same way you don’t want to move but you don’t want to stay there – that’s what my eyes did when I looked at that thing: they didn’t want to look away but as I looked my eyes started watering and I couldn’t focus and it was just everything and nothing.

It was, I realized, moving and doing things, and there were two men in there with it, one who was holding a little gadget and the other who was feeding it little pretzel sticks, one at a time. He would stick them into the side of the thing’s mouth and it would chew it slowly into its mouth while the other man pushed buttons on a gadget and talked into a little microphone at his mouth. I saw the thing move its arm, which seemed to grow long and short at the same time and then it pulled it back and suddenly whom! There was a giant tank next to us, this great big giant machine that was easily three stories tall and was shooting at the Valkyries, shooting bolts of light kind of like coalesced ray gun beams at them, and the pretzel-feeding man said “Good boy!” and gave him another pretzel.

The tank-shooting thing started to rumble forward and a crew of Valkyries dove down. It fired at them: fshoom fshoom fshoom and the horses started on fire and one of the Valkyries went hurtling over her horse’s head and fell at my feet.

You guessed it: It was Ivanka.

12: A: Steve Tries To Prove Some Things.

Part Twelve:

As we sat down around the little table, I heard even more rumbling and pounding. Steve leaned back in his chair and seemed oblivious to it. Brigitte’s dad looked up every time there was a thump or grumble, though, and it made me nervous. The whole thing should have made me nervous, I suppose, but everything’s relative, right? So once I got used to the fact that my whole body was in Hell, captured by revenants trying to stop the end of the world, and working with the reanimated corpse of my girlfriend… Brigitte!... then it took something even more to make me nervous, and the mountain or whatever we were in, shaking and rumbling, was that something even more.

“Is that normal?” I asked when a particularly loud thump boomed over us. I heard talking and running from out in the map room and as I thought of the map room, it made me want to go look at it again.

Steve was looking at his Read-Or unit and didn’t answer me right away. Then he looked up at me.

“You really miss her, don’t you?”

“Quit reading my mind. I’m serious. Turn that thing off or I won’t help you,” I snapped back at him.

“I think you’ll help us. Because I can tell you a few things, and I will if you promise to help me.”

“Things like what?”

“Things like is Brigitte really pregnant? And does she really love you? Those are your two questions, aren’t they?”

“Leave my daughter out of this!” shouted Brigitte’s dad, suddenly, and Steve stood up and waved the Read-Or unit furiously at him.

“You be quiet! You be quiet and shut up! Fat old man! You do not understand just how little power you have here, do you? You’re not very necessary to our plans, at all. You’re a nice tidbit to have. Having you here will help us command the octopi and use them as you have, and will convince your soldiers and corporate executives to work for us – but if they don’t, well, then, we’ve gotten this far without octopi and clerks, and we’ll get farther, still.”

“I will not help you.” Brigitte’s dad said. I suppose I should have felt kinship with him, that we were both resisting Steve and his demands, but I didn’t. All I could remember was that he’d kidnapped me – that naked and spreadeagled time—and I hated him for it.

Plus, I thought maybe I hated him because I thought maybe Brigitte had been tricking me and if she was tricking me then she was doing it because of her dad, right? So I hated him for that, so when he said he’d never help Steve, I instantly wanted to do the opposite and thought maybe I will help them.

I didn’t say anything, though.

Steve paused after he talked to Brigitte’s dad, standing, and pointing at him, and then said, with more dramatic flair than he’d had yet: “So you shut up, or I”ll have you taken back apart.”

Brigitte’s dad went sort of pale, and quieted down.

“Now, then,” Steve said.

There was a larger THUDDING sound, and then three quick louder pounding-kind of things, and I swear everything shook.

Steve looked down at his Read-Or unit. He went over to the wall and picked up a little cord with a tiny headphone on it. He put it in. “What was that?” he asked.

There was a pause as he listened.

“Keep me informed,” he said. Pause. “No, via Read-Or.”

Then he put the cord back and fiddled with the Read-Or unit and then sat down again. The pounding continued, louder. There was a genuine buzz of activity behind us, and I could feel the tension rise in the room. The guys holding Brigitte’s dad at ray gun-point were all keyed up. I could tell.

“So, as I was saying, I want your help, and I can trade you information. Good information. I can tell you if Brigitte is really pregnant, and if it is truly yours, and whether she really loves you, and I can prove my answers. But I need your promise, first.”

He stopped, looked at the Read-Or, and pressed something on it. “Double the energy, then,” he said. He turned back to me. “It appears that something has roused some local demons and they’re attacking the mountain. Nothing we cannot fend off, but it is curious. I know you had a run-in with similar demons when you were last here. I wonder, can they sense you? No mind. We’ll get it under control”

The battering was louder and louder now. He glanced again at the Read-Or and frowned but then turned back to me.

“I will trust your word. If you promise me that you will help, that you will command the lesbian zombies to help fight off Armageddon, then we will in turn provide you with answers. And when it is over, when the end of the world no longer looms, you will be free to go. You have my word on that.” Pause again, while he looked right at my eyes. I was fascinated and couldn’t look away – I’d never seen such sincerity behind a pair of ragged, torn-up, half-sewn revenant eyelids. “And you can trust me.” He finished.

“How can you prove it?” I asked.

“With this. With other information. I can show you what happened. I can either prove that the love of your life is carrying your child and pining away for you, or prove the opposite. You’ll see.”

I thought about that.

I pictured the rows of … lesbian zombies… waiting for me to command them. What would we have to do? Where would we go? I had a million questions. Who would we be fighting, and how? Demons, Samson, missiles, tentacles… I shivered a little.

But I wanted to know. I wanted to know. I wanted to know if Brigitte had ever told me the truth. About anything.

The mountain was shaking good and hard now, and I felt dust crumbling a little onto my hair. I looked up and watched the rock-ceiling of the room move back and forth, vibrating.

I looked back at Samson.

“Prove one of them to me before I decide,” I said.


“How do I know you can prove it? How do I know I can believe you? Prove one to me before I decide, then I’ll see if you can really do it. I’m not going to promise you anything and then find out you lied to me.”

“You could always then renege on your own promise,” Steve said. There was a loud crash and he paused to look at the Read-Or. “The gate is holding well,” he said. Then he tried smiling. It was hideous. “As you’d expect,” he said. “We know what we’re doing. But I may have to go attend to this, so get on with it.”

“First prove one of them to me,” I insisted. “Or I don’t help. I’ll refuse.”

“We could kill you, then.”

“You won’t,” I bluffed.

“I might.”

“Then go ahead. How do you know they won’t simply make another one of me and then they’ll have me?”

Inside, as I said that, I felt a little sick. That was the first time I’d ever used my… whatever I am… to my advantage. Up until then, I didn’t want to really admit what I knew I was and that I was so different. But when pushed to it, I guess, I had to acknowledge that I am what I am, and that I’d better accept it and take whatever advantages I can.

Whatever I’d said, it scared Steve, I could tell. He straightened up and put a hand to his lips, lips which were gray and parched and peeling and rotten and gross, and said: “There is that.”

He thought a moment more. There was another large sound, and he glanced at the Read-Or, then said: “Very well. I will show you the truth of Brigitte’s pregnancy.” He fiddled with the Read-Or unit, punched some buttons, spun the flywheel, and turned it towards me. “Look at this,” he said.

It showed me Brigitte, in her apartment, and I saw myself lying in her bed, too, next to her. I was naked, and Brigitte was almost naked. She had only a t-shirt on, and I remembered that t-shirt, a little tank-top that she’d been wearing when I woke up that morning. This was our first night together.

I was asleep. I could tell that because I didn’t move when Brigitte got up. As I watched, my eyes twitched and turned and my hands scrambled and my legs moved. I was surprised by how much I moved during my sleep, and I remembered what Brigitte had said about how I slept. But I didn’t watch me, much, as I was distracted by Brigitte, who stood up, and looked at what I realized was the mirror in her bedroom– she looked directly at the Read-Or unit, and I thought that must be how it does it, looking through mirrors or something—and she took a deep breath. Through the t-shirt I could see her breasts, the nipples poking out the fabric, and the t-shirt lifted up so that I could see where her legs ended, smooth and clean, and then she turned around and looked at the bed, again. Her shirt didn’t cover her backside, and I saw the perfect, soft curves of her butt, where I’d so many times already run my hand over and rested my face sometimes.

She climbed onto the bed and I continued, in the Read-Or, twitching and tossing and turning. She slowly and gently moved me so that I was lying on my back, and then she carefully laid herself down along the length of me, her legs matching up perfectly with mine, her groin pressed against mine, her breasts mashed down onto mine, and her face staring into mine. We were very close to the same height, she was a little taller, and somehow she made us match up.

In the Read-Or, I stopped moving.

Brigitte laid her face alongside mine for a moment, then began moving, a little, rubbing against me, slowly, and put her hands alongside my arms, then pulled me against her so that as much of our bodies as possible were touching. She then gently, while still moving subtly and keeping our bodies pressed together, pushed her lips against mine, and when she did that, her eyes open, my eyes closed, there was a glowing flash of bluish light that electrified both our bodies – hers fully, and mine dimly – and then she pressed her lips hard up against mine and moved her body more sensuously, in the glow, rubbing and touching me and pulling me to her and then finally she threw her head back and gasped and rolled off of me and lay there on the bed, rubbing her lower belly and smiling.

Her smile, I thought, was a nice one. A happy one.

Then the mountain got lifted up off of us, and we all looked up to see two giant demons holding the mountain over our heads, moving it off to the side while all around us Steve’s men in polo shirts shot at demons and Valkyries with ray guns and yelled and other demons and people fought them. I heard someone yell:

“Dear God, There Are Thousands Of Them!”

It was Reverend Tommy’s voice.

Part 12: The Mountain Under Attack.

A. Steve Tries To Prove Some Things.

B. The Battle For Hell Is Underway.

C. I Change Sides.

D. Meanwhile, In New Yo... I mean, Tampa. Meanwhile, In Tampa.

Meanwhile, In New York.

Meanwhile, In New York:

The man slumped against the desk where he kept his monitor and looked around the room. It was a mess, and he had to do something about it. He could not leave it that way. Not for lots of reasons. What would customers think, if they came in and saw a messy shop? That he was one of those grab-and-hack purveyors, that’s what they’d think, and would not pay top dollar. What was the point of staying up all night cutting and sewing pieces of bodies together and then reanimating them for a few dollars? No point, that’s what.

Plus government officials might come in. He’d thought the revenant and his men were government officials in the first place. They drove gasoline powered vehicles, for one thing. That was something only soldiers or government officials did, anymore. IF government officials came in here and saw the scattered parts of the men he’d used to try to reassemble the old guy, the blood, the ray gun scorch marks, they’d start investigating and he didn’t need that.

Plus it wasn’t right to have this mess in front of the Display.

But he couldn’t clean it up now. He had to get upstairs and open the diner for the day. It was nearly 7 a.m. and people would be expecting their breakfasts. He sighed and stood up, walked over to the Display’s cabinet and looked at it, glittering and sparkling and seeming almost alive the way the light played along the thousands of little chips sculpted into the shape of a beautiful woman, reaching up, reaching towards Heaven, where the man sent the souls of the women he’d taken and turned …

… turned. That was where he left it.

He reached out a hand, held it just alongside the face of the Display, almost as though he was about to caress its cheek. But he didn’t touch it. He knew he was not worthy enough to touch the Display.

He wondered where she had gone, the one that looked like this.

“You’re quite an artist,” a voice said behind him.

The man jumped, startled, and turned around. He had been surprised, but was not scared by the voice because he recognized it.

“Lieutenant,” he said, and put his tired hand up in a salute. There was blood on his arm and he was exhausted.

“At ease. We’re not in the service anymore, are we?” Samson stepped to one side, gently pushed the man to the other so that he could see the Display. “Did you do this?”

“Yes,” the man said.



Samson reached out a hand, but he, too, did not touch the chips. He wiggled his fingers a few inches from it. “Looks 3-D but it’s not, is it? That’s excellent work.” He turned back to the man. “I knew you had it in you way back when, didn’t I? I told you you could do this and you did it.”

“You were right,” the man said.

“Making you a lot of money?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you use the diner for cover?”


“Good. Nobody’s suspicious? Nobody’s found you?”

The man wondered if he should tell Lieutenant Samson about the revenant. The revenant had sworn that he would know if the man talked about him at all, that he’d find out instantly, had said I can read your thoughts, you know, and the man wondered if that could be done, could be done from far away, that is. He worried that it could.

“Nobody,” he told Samson.

“Nobody except the revenant. Steve. Is that right?”

The man bit his lip.

“I’m not reading your mind. I know he’s found you, though. I know what he had you do. Did it work?”

The man tried desperately not to think about anything the revenant would be able to read and nodded his head once.

“So you can do it with men, too?”


Samson considered.

“Who’s this modeled after?” he asked, pointing towards the Display. “When did you make this?”

“I began that with the first one, years ago.”

“You did.” It wasn’t a question. Samson was thinking, the man realized.

“Yes. I began making it and sculpted it over the years. It’s a mosaic.”

“Yes. I see. It is.” Samson turned back to him, then. “It looks like someone, doesn’t it?”

“Yes. It looks like…” The man thought for a moment. He was bad with names. “Rachel.”

“Why’d you name her Rachel?”

The man shrugged. “I just go with what pops into my head.”

“Did you recognize her when you made her?”


“From this?” Samson pointed at the Display. “It looks exactly like her.”

“I didn’t realize that until later.”

“And you didn’t recognize her from anything else?”

The man shook his head. Should I have? He wondered. He was nervous about thinking, though, and so he tried to stop again.

Samson pondered a moment and said “How’d you make her the boss?” The man just looked at him. Samson waited, then said “You know she’s the boss, don’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“She commands them.”

“She does?”
“You didn’t know that?”


“You didn’t know she was the head zombie?”


“You didn’t do anything special to her when you made her?”


The hand, the man thought, a little guiltily. Samson was not touching him and so he wouldn’t have picked that up, right? The left hand. He could see it in its velvet-lined box.

“Who ordered her?”

The man panicked. “I’m not… I don’t…”
Samson looked at him and his eyes were smiling and kind, just like in the old days. “Hey, bud.” Samson said. “Hey. Remember, sitting there in the treefort in the jungles of
London? Ray beams flashing all around us? Leaves pilfering into nothingness, firebombs falling to strip away foliage, it’s just you and me there on the platform, and you got hit? Remember what I did?”

“You saved my life.”

“I did that for a reason,” Samson said.

“You did?”

“Yeah. I did. I knew you had talent, and I knew we needed your talent. There’s another war on, buddy. Another war, and you’re helping me fight it again. I saved you for a purpose and your purpose has been to create these zombies, so that they can become an army for us, an army helping us fight the greatest of all wars.”

The man got tears in his eyes. “My life has a purpose?”
Samson said “It sure does.”

“A good purpose?”

Samson said “You bet.”

The man started crying, and smiling. “I don’t even know what to say.”

“Say the name of the person who ordered Rachel, who gave you the specifications.”

The man said, “I wish I could.” He sniffled and shook his head and wanted to hug the Lieutenant. All those years mucking about in blood and sewing things and working in the diner and now I find out my life has a purpose! My life is worth something! He wanted to help Samson. But he said, now, “But he never gave me a name.”

“How were you going to deliver it?” Samson asked.

“I was supposed to knock her out and ship her via lizardline,” the man said.

“To what address?” Samson asked.

The man walked over to his computer screen, waved a hand. A few thoughts, a wave of the hand, and the address came on the screen. Samson walked over and saw it.

“Damn,” he said.

He recognized the address: It was God’s vacation home.

Are you Afraid of Public Speaking?