28: Guardz

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When It Happened (Chronicle Time): December, 2003

Who Was There: Latrell Dupree (Eric), Zeke (Bob), Stu (Chris), Hakim (Storn), Alan Wingate (Matt)

What It Was

It's Christmas without the Aces. And things are about to get seriously weird.

The Full Horror

Alan Wingate is walking into his precinct when his cellphone rings. He picks up the call and hears the voice of a beat cop he knows, who tells him he is watching an ogre on a brownstone roof.

"Ok?" Alan replies, because what else is there to say?

"Yeah, he's up there now," the cop continues. "Big motherfucker. Tusks and everything. Dressed in a Santa suit." ('Wha-?', thinks Alan.) "And he's got a big bag with him."

"Wait, he's doing something--. He's pulling something out of the bag. Looks like a long sheet of paper. Ok, he's lookin' at it. And now he's lookin' at it again.

"Ok, now he's putting the paper back in the bag.

“And now he's goin' over to the chimney. And he's lookin' down the chimney.

"Ok, he's turning around. And now he--.

"Oh man. Oh man. No. No, don't do that. OH, MAN. Awwwww."

Alan shuts his eyes, as the cop continues.

"He did it. He really did it. Big mother took a dump down the chimney. Just took a shit right there down the hole. Guess the people in there musta been naughty this year."

Alan has barely hung up, when he hears the roar, "WINGATE!!! GET THE HELL IN HERE!!!"

The voice, of course, is that of his CO, Lt. Vince Capelli. Vince actually likes Alan, but he hates the weird cases that come to Alan from everywhere in the NYPD. Most of the cops are glad to have someone to pass the truly bizarre cases to, but with Alan on his watch, that makes them Vince's problems too. He's grateful Alan isn't a head case--he would have thought a guy like that would be--but that doesn't help his mood when something truly fucked up comes across his desk.

And right now, Capelli's phone is ablaze with blinking lights. Alan can hear the loud buzz of people yelling complaints and screaming in rage into the phone, as Vince looks up to glare at him. "What the hell is this, Alan?! You hear what just happened!?! A giant in a Santa suit?!? And what the fuck are you doing about it?!"

Before Alan can say, Vince gestures to shut up. "I can feel it. You feel that?! Feel it? That's the feeling of my phone about to ring again. And you know who's going to be on the other end of that line, Alan? Do you know? Bloomburg, Alan. Mayor-fucking-Bloomburg. He knows MY NAME now, Alan. He knows you answer to me. He doesn't even wait for the Commissioner."

"Alan," now almost pleading. "Please. DO something. It's Christmas, fer Christ's sake. If he starts getting bad publicity the Mayor's gonna go fucking ape."

Alan manages to calm Vince down, and promises him he knows just what to do. He waits for the lieutenant to calm down, then leaves the station, heading for the Renaissance.

Meanwhile, at the Renaissance....

....The guards, Latrell, Hakim, Zeke and Stu, hear a tremendous crash downstairs. From the locked room where the Aces put all the stuff brought back from Lesek Czernin's place. And that is just the kind of thing the guards were afraid would happen with the Aces out of the country.

A few minutes later, four very unhappy men are down in the basement, steeling themselves to face whatever is waiting for them on the other side of the heavy supply room door. When they open it, sure enough, it's something Not Good. One of the items retrieved from Czernin's apartment has started to glow with a sickly, pulsing, green light. It's also vibrating at the same frequency as the pulse, which was what made it and everything else on its shelf fall to the floor with that mood-shattering crash.

Of course, the guards have absolutely no idea what to do about this. They need an occult expert, and they sure can't go bother Mr. Katsoulakis. But that leaves only one option. They're going to have to find Martin Murray.

And that's when they hear Tamara on the intercom: "Hey, guys!! C'mon up to the roof!! I did it!! I got it working this time!!"

Tamara is excited about something. That is also Not Good.

A few weeks before the Aces left, several packages arrived for Tamara, and she asked the guards to move them down to the basement and into one of the larger rooms down there. Ever since the Aces left for Scotland, there's been a lot of banging and hammering and strange noises coming from the basement. But now, apparently, she's up to something on the roof.

When the guards get there, they find Tamara with a big grin on her face, looking immensely proud of herself. Some of the serpent people's equipment, brought back from Wardenclyffe, is set up on the far side of the roof, at the end of a chalk line marked off in meters. Tamara is standing at the other end, wearing a Kevlar vest and big goggles, and holding what looks like some kind of gun.

Waving to the guards to stand back, she gets ready to fire the thing. Moments pass in anticipation. Suddenly she pulls a trigger and the gun begins to glow golden-orange. The intensity builds with a strangely appealing whine, and Tamara starts to get a funny look on her face.

Then there's a tremendous BANG and the serpent equipment explodes in a ball of sparks and flashes. Tamara lets out what sounds like a terrific orgasm and sinks to the ground. "Whoa!" she laughs giddily. "Backlash!"

The guards aren't sure what that's all about, but one thing for sure: the serpent equipment is now a pile of black and shriven metal. Judging by Tamara's reaction, nobody is going to be firing the gun more than once in a fight, but there's no doubt it works. Tamara picks herself up, and heads back downstairs saying, "I think this is going to need more research!!"

And now the guards hear a knock on the front door. It's Alan Wingate. Looking for the Aces. But all he's going to get are the Guardz.

The brownstone where the cop saw the ogre is only a couple blocks away from the Renny. Alan gives the guards the story along the way, including one piece of information the cops have learned since then. Wherever Santa Ogre takes a shit, the entire building becomes infested with roaches. And these aren't just any kind of roaches. These are Super Roaches.

Which means they are going to need some serious extermination. Fortunately, Latrell knows who to call.

Critter Apocalypse!

Minutes later, the Bug Van roars around the corner and screeches to a halt barely a foot from Wingate and the guards. Morry "the Hammer" Bromwitz, and his assistant, Spencer, are out in a flash. When he hears about the Super Roaches, Bromwitz turns to Spencer and gives him a Look. "This is it, kid! Time for the new rigs!!"

Spencer goes pale. "Oh, uh, I dunno, Boss...." But Bromwitz is already pulling out two enormous bug-sprayers that look suspiciously like the throwers from the movie Ghostbusters. The two men suit up, and after a whispered argument at the door, Spencer very reluctantly leads the way inside.

There's a long moment of silence. Then a crash.

Then: "HOLY SHIT!!!"

And then a whole bunch of smashes and crashes and bells and whistles and a few seconds later, Bromwitz and Spencer bursting out of the front door and tumbling down the front stairway to sprawl on the sidewalk. Both men just lie there, babbling something like, "BIG! BIG!!"

Looks like it will be up to Alan, Latrell, Hakim, Zeke and Stu after all. With no giant bug rigs, but plenty of guns and baseball bats, the guys gear up and move in.

Things go great. Well, until they meet Mama Super Roach. But the less said about that the better.

So What About That Idol?

By the time the five battered but victorious men return to the Renny, Tamara has locked herself in her lab, and while the guys find some of the noises coming from it really intriguing, the guards and Alan have more pressing things on their minds. The first of which is the idol. Alan checks it out with his Sight, and sees powerful images of horrible crawling things. Bugs. Or worse.

Latrell asks Art to contact Jamal, and one hour later, he gets the call. "What up, dog?" (Only Latrell gets that greeting from Jamal.) Latrell asks if Jamal help them find Murray.

"Murray? What the fuck has he done now?" Latrell explains, and after a long silence, Jamal tells Latrell he can find Murray at 151 W. 34th St. Which also goes by the name Macy's Dept. Store.

Yes. Martin is Santa. A very squalid Santa. Needless to say, the kids telling him what they want are looking a lot less happy than usual.

After a moment of serious shock and awe, the guards grab Murray and bring him up-to-date while Hakim takes his place as Santa. A few minutes later, Zeke, Stu, and Latrell are wondering why the hell they are following Murray into the men's bathroom at Penn Station. Martin insists it's the perfect place to perform the ceremony that will track down Santa Ogre.

Murray recognizes the idol as a nameless African Cockroach god. Nameless, because of humanity's "insane prejudice" against that miracle of nature, the roach. The guards stare at Murray like he's crazy, but the man just goes on. Obviously, he explains, the spirit of the god has somehow possessed the ogre. To find them, all he needs is a map of the Renny's neighborhood.

Latrell hands him one, and Murray spreads it on the floor of the bathroom. Then he loudly hocks a loogie and smears it all over the idol. Then another loogie, which he slaps on a map. Then a third loogie, which begins to ooze across the map until it stops over another brownstone. Simple as that, Murray tells them.

After recovering from that little experience, the guards grab Murray again and drag him from the bathroom, heading straight for the brownstone. Sure enough, Santa Ogre is up on the roof, already twice-checking his list, which turns out to be an entire New York Metro phonebook with all the pages torn out and taped sloppily together in a long chain.

When they interrupt, Santa Ogre looks up slowly and in a very slow and not terribly bright voice, says, "Hullo. Whut's your name?" Hands whap foreheads all around.

The ogre tells them, "If you don't tell me your name, I can't give you your present," and then starts to belch, each time spewing a shower of roaches from his mouth. When the ogre finally stops, he looks at Alan and the guards apologetically and says, "Not feeling so good."

The guards tell Santa Ogre to stop with the roaches already, but he insists, "You guys are gonna put me behind schedule." Exasperated, they ask how many names are left. "Well, I got all these names here and only a couple days left, so if I take the names and divide by the days... ummm... What was the question again?"

By this point, Murray is completing the spell that draws the Cockroach God out of Santa Ogre and back into the idol. After a battle that is short on time but long on bad memories, the guardz defeat the animated idol and can finally head home--to get started on the scalding hot showers they're going to be taking several times a day for at least the next couple of weeks. Which leaves Santa Ogre free to leave much nicer gifts for the rest of Christmas Eve.

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