THE TEMPLE OF MAGGIE STONE
Chapter 12 Delphin Part 2
Maggie screamed; then she wailed. She hit her knees, crying. Robert tensed up and clawed at the knife in his back. He groaned and coughed then fell to the ground. Delphin didn’t waste any time. He rushed toward a corner of the room and grabbed a strange clay jar with an animal head on it. It looked like something out of Egypt, like a miniature version of a mummy’s sarcophagus. Delphin held the jar out in front of him, eyeing Pinkerton. Pinkerton stood still.
“What’s the plan here, Delphin?” he asked coolly. “It’s already over. You know that.”
“Leave, or I’ll put her in this jar,” Delphin said in his strange accent.
“It was a brilliant plan, in its way,” Pinkerton said. He began to walk slowly toward the door, forcing Delphin deeper into the room. Pinkerton’s face looked relaxed, apathetic to the bleeding man at the door and the weeping mother by the wall, but his knuckles were white around the handle of his cane. “She hired you and gave you the janitor position, allowing you access to the lab.”
“Yes,” Delphin said. “Leave.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that. And even if I could, I wouldn’t.”
Delphin stiffened. He opened the lid of the jar and began to mumble a bunch of syllables Maggie didn’t understand. At first, nothing happened. Maggie noticed Pinkerton fiddling with the handle of his cane. Then she felt nauseous. Before she knew what was happening, Maggie began to vomit all over the carpet. Terror swept over her. She looked up at Pinkerton who refused to acknowledge her.
“Pinkerton, what’s happening!” she wailed between heaves. He didn’t answer. Delphin continued to mumble. There was a steadily increasing intensity in his voice and the room began to creak and shift as if something were alive inside the walls and floor. The jars on the shelves shook. Maggie could hear them jostling and see the liquid inside them vibrate as if there was a loudspeaker turned up all the way. His voice began to echo like he was in a cavern. Maggie wasn’t sure if the reverberation was in her head or inside the room. Pinkerton kept a steady gaze on Delphin, still fiddling with his cane. Then Maggie began to feel light-headed, and soon, Delphin began to sound far away, and Maggie found herself hovering over her own body. It had fallen lifeless into her own pool of vomit. Gross, she thought. Strangely, nothing seemed out of the ordinary until she felt herself being slowly pulled away from her body. She looked up and saw where she was being pulled to. Then a flood of emotions roared through her all at once. First, it was disbelief; then it was panic. She was heading for the jar, and her mind raced back to image in the book. “The Transfer of Souls.” “I’ll put her in this jar.” Understanding washed through Maggie. Delphin meant to trap her in the jar like a bug. She began to try and pull away or swim away, but she kept floating gradually toward the jar. Maggie imagined herself tapped inside the darkness forever. She screamed. She cried. She begged, but nothing helped. Her essential self kept floating causally toward the pot, like it was her home away from home…for eternity. Delphin’s voice sounded far away and slow.
“She’s screaming!” she heard Delphin say. He sounded like distant thunder in a storm.
“Please!” she begged. “Please, don’t put me in that thing! I’ll do whatever you want, please! I want to see Ray again! I want to be with my husband! I want another chance, please! Please, don’t leave me in there! Don’t leave me in the dark!” When she looked over and saw Delphin’s twisted smile, she broke down into a frenzy of wild sobs and tears. She was inches from the jar. The stale, still eyes of whatever animal that head was supposed to be stared at her with indifference. She couldn’t look at it. She turned to Pinkerton and saw that he had unscrewed the top of his cane. The handle of the cane was in his hand, and protruding from his handle, was a foot long, thin, silver blade. Slowly, he launched the silver blade toward Delphin. She looked over at the janitor as the knife slowly glided toward the old man. His smile molded and twisted into an expression of fear. Then everything went black.
When she opened her eyes, she rolled out of the pool of vomit and looked up. Delphin had stopped chanting. He was grabbing his stomach and grunting. He was on the ground. The clay jar shattered beside him. Pinkerton tried to steady himself on what remained of his cane, but he fell, face-first. Still, he got to his hands and knees and crawled toward the dying man. Maggie watched him scrambled toward Delphin feeling nothing but numb shock.
“Are there any others!” he cried. Pinkerton crawled on top of Delphin and punched the old man square in the nose. Delphin said nothing. He just looked at Pinkerton with wild pain and hatred. The old man smiled. His yellow teeth grinding, and his equally yellow eyes wide with pain. Pinkerton was not smiling, not even his small cocky smirk which had never fully left his lips. The young man’s fedora fell off his head, spilling a tangle of blond curls that obscured his eyes. “Are there any others!” he repeated and punched Delphin a second time. Still, the old man did not speak. Blood poured from his broken nose.
Pinkerton grabbed the handle of his cane which protruded from the old man’s plump stomach and began to twist. Delphin howled. Pinkerton kept twisting. Finally, a word formed on Delphin’s lips “NO!” he screamed, his eyes bulging.
“No what?” Pinkerton said.
“No one else!” Delphin screamed again.
“How did you help Silas steal the bodies!” Without waiting for a response, he started twisting the knife again, stirring it like Delphin’s stomach was bowl of soup. Blood spurted from the wound. Maggie fought the urge to vomit again.
“Sleeeeepppp!!!! Delphin wailed. “HE…TURNED OFF…THE CAMERAS…I PUT EVERYONE…TOOO…DEEEEPPP…SLEEEPPPP!!!”
Pinkerton stopped stirring. “Why?”
“Because they told me to,” Delphin panted, clenching his stomach. Blood seeped through his fingers. The old man’s face was ash white. “They told me to. They made me…they told me to.” Delphin’s eyes rolled to the back of his head. His body went limp. Maggie didn’t know if Delphin had passed out or was dead, and she didn’t care. She suddenly remembered Robert.
“Pinkerton, my son!”
Maggie rushed to her son’s side as Pinkerton made his way to them, leaning on the wall for support. Robert looked up at her, his face pale, and his eyes wide, but he was alive. By some miracle, her son was still alive.
“Maggie,” Pinkerton said when he reached the two of them. “Inside your rooms there should be a couple first aid kits in the bathrooms. They’re not much, but they should have some disinfectant and gauze. Go!”
Maggie did as she was told. She ran down the hall and went first to her bathroom then to Robert’s. Sure enough, there were two tiny, white first aid kits in the medicine cabinets. She grabbed them and raced back to the two men. When she arrived, Pinkerton took the kits and reached into Robert’s pocket, pulling out his cell phone. He then reached into his own pocket and pulled out a small tablet of paper and a pen. He wrote down a number and tore the sheet of paper loose, handing it to her.
“Call the number,” he said. “Tell them we have someone injured. Don’t bother telling them the address. They already know.”
“Shouldn’t we call 911?” Maggie asked.
“The police are useless here.”
Maggie nodded. If the police came, Robert might get the help he needed, but she and Pinkerton would be carted off for breaking and entering as well as murder. Then who was going to fix this mess? She called the number and told the voice on the other end that her son needed help. She only half-listened to the voice’s words. She was too busy watching Pinkerton wrap the gauze around the knife sticking out of her son’s back. The voice said something to the effect of help is on the way, and she hung up without saying anything else. Then she knelt beside her son.
“Mom,” Robert gasped, reaching out to her. She took his hand, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“It’s okay, son,” she said. “Just be still.
“You’re lucky,” Pinkerton said. “The knife nicked your spine but missed everything important. You’re probably going to make it, but we need to get you out of here.”
“What happened?” Robert asked through gritted teeth. “All I heard was chanting then a bunch of screaming.”
“Nothing good,” Pinkerton said. “And nothing you can help with. Do what your mother says and take it easy.”
“That’s easy for you to say,” Robert muttered.
“Hey, I’ve had a knife in the back, too,” Pinkerton said, smiling again. “It wasn’t a picnic, but I survived.” Pinkerton rolled Robert onto his side and inspected his work with the gauze. He then sat back and took out his pipe and a leather bag filled with tobacco. In all the insanity, Maggie had forgotten the young man smoked.
“Is that really necessary?” she asked.
Pinkerton held up his free hand. It was shaking. “Yep,” he chirped, and began loading the pipe.
Maggie and Robert watched the young man load his pipe and begin smoking it. What followed was ten minutes of awkward silence. The only sound was Pinkerton puffing his pipe while Maggie squeezed her son’s hands. During that time, questions darted through her mind so quickly she hardly had time to register them. Finally, six men came through the elevator. One man held a pair of handheld radios. Two men held a gurney while the others carried medical supplies. The three holding the supplies rushed to Robert, and Maggie stepped back. Pinkerton stepped back as well, still smoking his pipe. He met with the man holding the radios, again leaning on the wall for support, and motioned Maggie toward him.
“I need you to get a hold of Ryna and Abubakar,” Pinkerton said to the man as Maggie approached. “The situation has escalated beyond what my team and I can handle.”
“They’re in Des Moines, looking for that Silas guy,” the man said. “Who knows how long it’s going to take for them to get here.”
“I understand,” Pinkerton said. “But I think I’m going to need my best, and Logan can handle himself while they’re gone.”
“How bad is it?” the man asked.
“Bad,” Pinkerton said. “We’ve put the whole thing together pretty quickly, but I think in doing so, we forced their hand. There are a lot of people in danger down there, sixty or so. I need help. Just get them here as fast as you can.”
“I’ll try,” the man said. “But I really don’t think it’s going to be fast enough.”
“Do your best,” Pinkerton said.
“The knife didn’t puncture the lungs,” a voice called out to them. “But the internal bleeding is bad. We don’t have much time.”
“I’ll keep my men on standby,” the man said. “Seriously, if you need help, we can get fifty guys down there right now.”
Pinkerton thought for a moment then shook his head. “No, your men should set up a perimeter. We don’t want one of those bodies to escape. But keep it subtle. It’s a city after all. We don’t need rumors. The only two bodies that should be allowed to leave are her,” he pointed to Maggie, “and Dr. Lane. Beyond that, if you see a naked man or woman with colored hair bolting down a street, shoot it.”
“We have to go!” one of the paramedics shouted.
The man nodded, then turned back to Pinkerton. “I’ll let Ryna and Abubakar know, and we’ll form that perimeter. Be careful.” He paused then added. “Should we give you a radio?” He offered Pinkerton one of the radios.
“It won’t do any good,” Pinkerton said. “If things get as bad as I think they will, they won’t let a signal leave this building. The radios will die within the hour.”
“Should we send someone down to check on you in couple hours?”
“No,” Pinkerton said. “They’ll know and cut your men off from us. Then we’d have to rescue the staff and your people.”
The man eyed Pinkerton then looked at Maggie. “No offense, sir, but you’re not much. I hate to leave you two alone.”
Pinkerton smiled. “It’s a rescue mission. We don’t need to kill them all, we just need get everyone out in time. We can box them in and collapse the building afterward.”
The man blinked. “Oh, well…I suppose that makes sense. A little extreme, but there may not be another way.”
“There isn’t. These things have advanced bodies. If they escape the building, we’ll never catch them all.”
“Then there’s no choice. We’re with you. Good luck.”
The two men with the gurney lifted her son and began to carry him out.
The man shook Pinkerton’s hand and shouted, “Let’s go!”
“I should go with him,” Maggie said. She started to follow the gurney, but then, she looked at Pinkerton and stopped. The young man leaned against the wall, hunched and pale…and panting. The confrontation with Delphin had already wore him out, and there was a bag of weapons in Robert’s room which had to be carried to the young man’s team. He wasn’t going to ask the man or any of his team for help, and he certainly wasn’t going to ask her. Whether this was due to pride or an unwillingness to put anyone else in danger she didn’t know, but she could tell by the look in his eyes that he meant to carry those weapons down the stairs alone, no matter how long it took and no matter the challenges he faced along the way. Ray was like that. He’d been stubborn. Even when he was in his eighties, he would never ask Robert for help. The old man meant well, but his pride made him a liability. Pinkerton was the same way. He was disabled, but he would never fully admit the fact to himself. In this way, intelligent or not, he was a liability, too, and if it came to a fight, one of Pinkerton’s team would risk their lives to keep him safe when they should be shooting monsters. She didn’t have all the facts, but she understood that time was of the essence, and Pinkerton was going to slow everyone down, whether he was willing to admit that to himself or not. She looked at Robert who was being carried down the hall.
“You should go with him,” Pinkerton said. “I can handle things from here.”
“No, you can’t,” Maggie said quietly. She continued to stare at her son, fighting back the tears which burned her fake eyes. She couldn’t help him. But she could, at least, help this boy who fancied himself a detective. She didn’t want to die, but she’d already lived a full life, and she stolen enough time. She turned to Pinkerton. “I’ll carry the weapons to your team. You can’t grab all of that stuff in one trip, and we can’t waste any time.”
Pinkerton frowned, and looked away from her, staring at the elevator at the end of the hall like it was some foreboding opponent. He seemed more afraid of that elevator than the monster’s downstairs. “I can’t ask you to do that,” he whispered.
“That’s why I’m not giving you a choice, young man,” Maggie said.
Pinkerton smiled, not a cocky, confident grin, but something genuine and sad. “Thank you,” he whispered.
“You’re welcome,” Maggie said. “I’m going to say goodbye to my son. You should probably grab the handle for you cane.”
Pinkerton nodded and limped into Delphin’s room while Maggie rushed to the end of the hall to meet her son before he reached the elevator. She beat the gurney to the elevator and touched her son’s hand. Robert looked up at her, and she could tell he was hurting and scared. He was hooked up to an IV. She’d been around enough IVs to know the liquid inside was for his pain, and he was already beginning to feel the drug’s effect.
“Robert,” she began. “I have to go. I don’t know when I’ll be seeing you again. Just know that somehow, someway, I’ll find my back to you. You’re going to be okay. Tell Ashley I love her. I love you, Dear.”
Robert squeezed her hand. His grip was weak. Maggie could only hope it was the drug doing its work. “I will.” He looked into her eyes. “I love you, Mom.” Then he closed his eyes and sank onto the gurney. His hand went limp. Maggie swallowed hard, fighting the urge to ask if he was dead. She knew he couldn’t be. The paramedics, or whoever they were, were far too calm for that, but some frantic part of her mind screamed just the same. She stepped away from the elevator and the men carried her son inside once the doors opened. Soon, all six men and the gurney were gone, leaving Maggie alone in the hallway.
Maggie wanted to cry. She wanted to scream. But there wasn’t time. So, she took a deep breath, and marched to Delphin’s room. She stopped and stood in the doorway. Pinkerton was, once again, wearing his fedora, and was screwing the handle of his cane back onto the shaft. She looked down at Delphin’s corpse.
“He’s dead then?” she asked, already knowing the answer, but feeling the need to say something.
Pinkerton nodded then said, “Robert will be fine, but if we make it through this…” He paused, took a breath, finished tightening the handle, and looked back up at Maggie. He didn’t say anything; he simply stared.
Maggie studied him and a wave of pain flooded her once she understood. “I won’t be able to see him again, will I.”
“You might get to say goodbye for real,” Pinkerton said. “I think, I can promise that much.”
“Can I ask why?”
“First, let me ask you a question: what happens if you get out of here?”
Maggie stared at him. “My old life is gone.”
Pinkerton nodded. “Where things stand now, Robert still has a chance to return to his normal life. He knows almost nothing about what’s going on, and if someone starts poking around after today, his lack of knowledge will save his life.”
“But I know too much…as they say.” Maggie felt cold, and she wanted to scream and accuse Pinkerton of something, anything. If she could’ve thought of a single way to make her situation out to be someone else’s fault she would’ve taken the excuse. But it was nobody else’s fault but her own, and she knew it. She’d cheated. So, instead she asked, “Who’s going to come after me?”
“Whoever told Delphin to put the staff to sleep. It could’ve been the demons; it could’ve been the government; it could’ve been someone who knew about the project outside of the government and staff. We don’t know. But this situation isn’t contained. There are other players, and we don’t know who they are, not yet.”
Tears ran down Maggie’s cheeks. Still, she laughed. “It figures. You know the saying about something being too good to be true?”
“Yeah,” Pinkerton said.
The two were silent for a minute, then Maggie asked, “Who are you really?”
Pinkerton smiled and met her by the door. He took a moment to adjust his fedora. “They’ll be time for that later, but first, I have one more interview with Dr. Lane.”