Chapter Seventeen --The End
Faith drove back towards town like a madwoman, while Garham and Breckinridge held on tight.
"Faith, what the hell is this about and what did that message mean?"
"You ever hear about Glorificus aka Glory?"
"Riley mentioned her once, hellgod trapped on Earth right?"
"Yup, almost took out th'world by creating a portal to all other dimensions or something. Anyway her spirit was stuffed int'a a human body to hold it. "
"Like what you were saying about the witch?" Breckinridge cut in.
"Ayup! Anyway she opened th'portal by usin' a blood based ritual. Ya know th'old blood sacrifice trick."
Graham nodded, "Blood is always power."
"Sure is Gray."
"So how did Buffy and friends beat her and save the world?"
"Ritual required th'source of th'blood t'still be livin' for th'duration of th'ritual..."
After a beat Graham's eyes widened, "Oh shit..."
"I said this was gonna be ugly....."
Darby sat back in the booth and sipped his coffee. It seemed the wind had picked up too, so all that was visible through the windows was a gray wall of rain. Shelly had managed to use the gas range and some candles in the kitchen to keep cooking too, so the smell of burgers drifted in. The old man sighed and wondered how he had outlived his only child...it just wasn't fair.
There was a flash of lightning and an immediate crash of thunder as the bolt struck the tree next to the cafe. All the occupants of the building jumped at the sudden blast of sound. For a moment all was quiet and still except for the pounding of the driving rain. Then a creaking groaning sound began as the tree slowly, inexorably began its fall. It crashed through the cafe roof like the judgement of God; splitting the building in half. Sue-Ann and Lulu were trapped on one side of the foliage wall, Darby and Shelly on the other.
"E'rybody alright?" Sue -Ann yelled out. With the massive hole torn in the ceiling, the wind was drowning out normal tones of conversation.
Darby found himself pinned into his booth by one of the errant branches, "I'm a stuck here good'n tight without some help!"
"I hear ya Darby! How 'bout you Shelly?"
There was no response from the kitchen.
"Oh hell. Darby kin ya hang on a bit? Shelly ain't sayin' anythin' back!"
"Sure enough! Y'all better check on her first! I ain't hurt at least!"
"C'mon Lulu! Let's get back there!"
The two Hatfield women started pushing their way through the leaves while up above, perched on the edge of the hole, Pumpkinhead grinned and chose his first target.
Jimbo stumbled into town just in time to see the lightning hit the tree behind Dolly's. He felt in two places at the same time. Down at the street soaked through and aching as well as powerful and destined; looking down from above and savoring the feel of revenge. He broke into another burst of running and pushed his way past the shattered glass of the front door.
In the kitchen Shelly was pinned under a branch. Coming to after being stunned by the impact, she stared up and saw the Pumpkinhead's massive form crouched and waiting; perched on the roof's edge like a colossal gargoyle. She screamed.
Sue-Ann, Lulu, Darby and Jimbo all heard it. A high pitched scream, louder than a human could be reasonably assumed to produce.
Jimbo snapped out of his fugue state and yelled, "Who all's here! Are y'all alright?"
"Jimbo!" his grandfather called back in response. "Izzat you boy?"
"Pa! Hell yeah it's me! Hang on old man!" he started pushing his way through the branches and leaves towards the sound of the voice.
Pumpkinhead heard the commotion in the front and ignored it. They weren't its targets after all. Neither was the one screaming...the other two though.
Lulu Strong née Hatfield was right behind Sue-Ann Hatfield, her cousin. She never saw the two split-ends of the Pumpkinhead's tail lash down from above and embed themselves in her back, one under each shoulder blade. She felt a stabbing pain that burned to her very core as she was lifted effortlessly from the floor. She gasped as the air was forced from her lungs by the force of the impacts, and with the coughing and choking, couldn't speak or even scream for help.
Pumpkinhead lifted Lulu's dangling form up beside its perch and carefully poked both of her eyes out, before almost casually tearing her head off.
In the cafe, Jimbo screamed as it felt like rebar was driven into his back. Then an intense burning pain struck his eyes, and he collapsed on to the floor next to his grandfather. Darby bent to help his grandson up.
Outside Faith slid the SUV to a halt and grabbed her axe, "I got the back! Gray! You and B-Boy got th'front!" the other two piled out as well and ran towards the front door.
Breckinridge saw the thin man in black standing under an undamaged piece of roof, "So you came to watch the fun, Ed Harley right?"
"Oh I know it ain't fun. It's what my price is. Burn in hell or try t'stop folks from makin' th'deal. If they still make it, I gotta watch th'consequences."
"Oh, that means the end is near then?"
"I ain't m'place t'say...I jest know I gotta be here."
Around back, Faith had just kicked the kitchen door in and, glancing up, saw Pumpkinhead with Lulu's head in one taloned hand and her body in the other. Almost without thinking she threw the axe.
The heavy weapon impacted the creature in the chest causing a spray of grayish ichor. In the front of the cafe, Jimbo screamed again as it felt like he was being split in two.
Anse pulled up his truck in front, just in time to hear the scream as he got to the front door. Just inside he saw his lawyer talking to a thin man in black, while that Miller guy was clambering through the tree branches that filled the eating area.
Ted ran around back in time to see Lehane looking up at a thing that had apparently torn his wife in half. Without a seconds hesitation he shouldered his shotgun and, as quickly as possible, emptied it into that grinning skull-like face.
Jimbo spasmed eight times in rapid succession and clutched at his face. Graham had gotten to them by this time and was trying to extract Darby from his pinned position.
"Don't ya worry 'bout me Graham! Save m'boy!"
"You first Pa!" Jimbo gasped, "Git him out'a here Mister Miller!"
Anse looked at the ghost of Ed Harley, "I know ya? I think I do."
"Nope, not formally leastwise. I met ya when you were still tiny though. Ya used t'come int'a my store."
"Ed Harley? But yer dead?"
"Anyway, Anse Hatfield. Ya might want t'head 'round back..." at that moment the shots resounded even over the wind and rain.
Breckinridge stared after his boss as Anse turned and ran towards the side of the cafe, "He's dead or soon will be, right?"
The thin man nodded, "Some things jest cain't be stopped...and sometimes there jest ain't no happy endin's."
Breckinridge nodded, "Yeah. I know."
Pumpkinhead roared and dropped Lulu's remains splattering Sue-Ann with gore. It then leapt at Faith and Ted who both jumped to the side, out of it's way. Ted dropped the now empty shotgun and drew his pistol. Yelling, "Ya kilt m'wife ya sonuvabitch!!" before starting to squeeze off shots.
Faith stayed low out of the line of fire and tried to leg-scissor the creature and knock it off balance. It was strong. Stronger even than the Beast, "Just makes it wicked harder then..." the Slayer thought as she stopped the attempt.
Ted had managed to hit the Pumpkinhead in the eyes a few times while it was trying to dislodge Faith. Each hit causing a matching scream from Jimbo in the front. Breckinridge with his strength had managed to break the branch that was trapping Darby in his seat and was carrying the old man outside, while Graham dragged the screaming and convulsing Jimbo.
Anse made it to see the fight as Ted ran out of ammunition and started to change magazines. Faith took advantage of the respite in shooting to leap onto the Pumpkinhead's tail and swing it like a hammer, letting go in time to let the creature crash into the wrecked kitchen's outside wall. As it picked itself up, Anse and Ted began shooting again.
The Pumpkinhead ignored the bullets as so many mosquito bites and advanced on Faith, its 7' frame dwarfing her 5' and a half feet. Faith grinned, this is what Slayers lived for.
She started with a leaping sidekick to the thing's throat. Even if it didn't breath it would cause it to stumble back which set it up for a tumble into a leg sweep. This time, as it was off balance, it fell with a resounding splock into the mud. Faith pounced onto it as it struggled to rise; grabbing one of its bifurcated tail ends and stabbing it in the eye with it.
Around the corner came Graham, Breckinridge, Darby, and Jimbo. Darby had picked up his walker from the outside and was hobbling along, while Graham was supporting Jimbo who kept screaming in agony then going into convulsions periodically.
In a blind fury Pumpkinhead grabbed the nearest item, a cinder block from the back wall, and threw it at Faith who almost casually punched it out of the air; splinters of cement raining around her.
"Yeah bra, yer wicked strong, but ya ain't nearly as fast as me, and yer seriously lackin' in th'skills!" Faith did a quick Ali shuffle in the mud and grinned wider.
"Holy shit!" Anse yelled at this display of power from the short brunette.
At the sound of his voice, Pumpkinhead grabbed another cinder block and sent it flying, pulping the Hatfield's chest almost casually.
A stream of sub-machinegun fire ripped into the creature's side in response.
"Gray!" Faith called out sobering quickly at Anse's sudden death. "Don't get its attention!"
"Oh Christ!" the ex-soldier saw the thing swing towards him. He dove away from the other three hoping to keep them clear.
Pumpkinhead started his charge only to slip slightly on the soggy mud. This gave Graham enough time to roll away. Then the creature got broadsided by a dead man. Breckenridge pushed it away long enough for Graham to regain his feet.
"What th'hell?" Faith yelled out. "Ain't ya evil?"
"Nah, I'm just a lawyer. It's a common mistake though. Kick this thing's ass Slayer!"
"Oh yeah!" Faith scooped up her axe and charged back in. Faith was fast, skilled, and experienced in fighting things tougher than she was. Pumpkinhead had reach, strength, mass, and was basically unkillable. The Slayer could make it hurt and even bleed, but she could not drop it. Finally, Pumpkinhead got a lucky shot in; sending Faith sailing through the air and crashing into the woods.
The thing turned and faced the cafe and strode forward ignoring the bullets from Ted's and Graham's weapons...
Breckenridge turned to the ghost of Ed Harley and asked, "How many Hatfield's are there anyway, and does it matter if they're just around Barnes?"
"Well this deal weren't all that specific. I'd guess no t'th'second part, so th'first part really don't matter..."
The vampire turned to Graham, "We have to stop it before it starts killing every Hatfield in the world."
Graham face turned cold, "I see...Darby, would you say Jimbo made the deal?"
The Pumpkinhead headed into the forest and picked up Faith's stunned body.
The old man looked at his pain-wracked grand-son and nodded, "Yeah...he's payin' th' price."
"You know what has to be done right?"
Darby McCoy stared sadly at the driving rain and nodded in assent again, "Yeah...I always knew."
Graham put his hand on the old man's shoulder, "You might want to turn your head."
Darby looked at the shape of Pumpkinhead returning with Faith's battered body in its claws, and closed his eyes.
The sound of the shot still surprised him.
The rain broke, and Ted Strong pulled the body of his wife out of the wreckage of the cafe. He sat weeping on the muddy ground. Graham and Breckenridge extracted Shelly and the still hysterical Sue-Ann. The old witch came out of the woods and walked up to where Darby McCoy and and the bruised and bleeding Faith stood next to the body of his grandson. It lay almost peacefully.
"What d'ya want old woman?" Darby asked.
"Ya know what I'm here fer Darby McCoy. Th'deal was made and th'price needs payin'. I'm here t'collect," Haggis bent and picked up the corpse of the youngest of the McCoys and returned to the shadows of the woods.
Faith closed her eyes and sighed, "So Graham...nobody won here?"
The ex-soldier looked out the hunched figure before it vanished in the shadows, "No Faith, nobody wins when revenge is involved." He looked down at the sub-machinegun, "Nobody ever wins."
Barnes Alabama is a quiet place where not much happens. The roadhouse, motel, and cafe are closed now and meth was harder to find in Atlanta for awhile. The woods are still there though and the poverty...
Haggis returned to Razorback Hollow and a pumpkin patch in the depths of the Boggywater. She climbed that pillar of vines and clay, still with the body on her shoulders. In the nest-like depression at the top she lay it down and covered it with the earth. As she left the patch, she turned and spoke, "Sleep now, you'll be needed sometime..."A/N
Thanks JanessaRavenwood for a great Challenge. I just hope I did it justice.