The Christine Plague

Part IV

Bonecrusher returned to his post on the bridge about the same time that a strange man in a business suit floated up to the top of the semis.

"Who are you?"

"Um... Carl Richter. Financial advisor. What's going on here?"

"Killer cars are roaming the city infecting other cars, inanimate objects are going wild, and we need all the help we can get. Do you do anything useful?"

"I'm an occult expert of sorts..."

"SAT wants to talk to you desperately."

Carl was briefed about the situation. He had some suspicions, but needed to look at the area of the ritual. He poked around, looking at signs. Clearly it had been a summoning ritual, and there were signs that life force had been shunted around in the ceremony. He looked carefully at the skeletal remains, and discovered that they weren't beyond hope. Their life had been drained from them, but their souls were still intact. He had read about magics like this, although never performed them on such a scale... it looked like a miscalculation had added the occultists life-force to whatever had been summoned.

Traditionally, there was a simple way to get them back. Blood sacrifice, killing one to raise another. He didn't like that idea much, and was sure SAT would like it even less. He had an idea that you could substitute multiple people's blood for a single death, but wasn't sure if it would work. He got as far as considering opening a vein and seeing what happened, but remembered that he no longer had blood of a normal type, having substituted a fluorocarbon replacement so as to amplify his natural talents.

He convinced the SAT officials that he was qualified, and persuaded them to set up a "blood bath" at the hospital, which had been turned into a kind of temporary headquarters, being a primary crisis point. He chose the skeleton that seemed to be wearing the most elaborate and impressive robe, as it was likely to be the man who knew most. It was going to take some time to get results, if any, from that, so he went to look at captured objects.

They had all been animated, and all had a similar feel. They had had a small fragment of life force transferred to them from some source, and had been enabled to transfer more to other objects. He felt confident in his ability to reverse the flow, returning the life force to its source, and making the object a kind of "antibody," which would transfer the reversal to objects trying to infect the object. The only problem was that reversed objects would no longer be animated, and so wouldn't move, unlike the animated objects.

Through SAT, he put out a call for paranormals, to take "antibody" objects and distribute them through the city. People who could move cars fast, and distribute them.

Out in the city, cars were running wild, and paranormals were running wilder. Flinger, Mistress Napalm, and Fay had pooled their abilities and were carving up a bridge into 12 ton sections, to be made into barricades. They suspected that the police and SAT might not see this as necessary as they did, and were trying to be stealthy about it.

Flinger was trying to persuade Fay and Mistress Napalm that what they really should do was save some "infected" cars, so that they could spread the plague to the rest of the country, so that economical, ecologically sound mass transit systems would have to be substituted. She was close to persuading them when the police and SAT finally showed up at the bridge.

They all scattered, and pretended to have arrived. SAT knew better, but was stretched way too thin to have collected good evidence against them. One quick lecture in the third person about "villainous paranormals causing property damage" later, they were all co-opted into the effort to put antibody objects in circulation.

Elsewhere, villainous paranormals were having their own problems...

"Leroy! Where are you taking the Centipedemobile? Leroy? Leroy, you're taking it through the wall of the base, Leroy!?"

"Boss, that's not me, that's my armor."

"What? Your exo-skeleton has stolen the Centipedemobile? Quickly, Leroy, to the Foxbatmobile, we must catch it!"

"... Boss, isn't the Centipedemobile going the other direction?"

"I know that Leroy. It's all part of my master plan. Now help me wrestle with the steering wheel..."

Cars were being disinfected and distributed rapidly, and were having a great effect on the spread of the infection. The masses of "dead" cars that would surround a single antibody seemed to have a near irrestistable attraction to cars that were still "live" and looking for new cars to infect. It wasn't working as well for light bulbs... they tended to be attracted to light bulbs in high places, which meant that when they encountered an "antibody" light, the light bulbs dropped to the ground and shattered, so the counterinfection wouldn't spread.

In the hospital, Alan Wiese's mind was returning to consciousness as flesh returned to his bones. The last thing he recalled was the chilling pull of the ceremony, and a sudden flash of cold. He didn't think the ritual was supposed to have ended with him lying down, nor with the smell of antiseptic and blood that assailed his nose. He opened his eyes and knew things had gone severely wrong, as he saw a SAT agent, a clear paranormal carrying a giant oak club, and a slightly bluish man in a business suit looking at him.

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Last modified: September 26, 1996

The Other Gretchen <gretchen@remarque.berkeley.edu>