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A Bounty on Justice

Full fan fiction stories

Moderator: Rik


Post Mon Jan 24, 2005 2:05 am

Posts: 1
Hi Folks. Here is a story about Mr. Justice that I wrote this past summer. In the grand tradition of comic book writers I have chosen to ignore any facets of the character's established continuity that didn't suit my purposes and wrote whatever the heck I felt like writing whenever the Muse struck. I hope that someone will find some entertainment in it.



A BOUNTY ON JUSTICE



It was not until her friend had fallen asleep that Pat Clark allowed tears to well up in her eyes. For over an hour she had managed to disguise the anguish in her heart with sunny smiles and reassuring chatter as she tried to cheer up a sick friend. But after Lenore Lamont succumbed fully to the sedative that a nurse had administered during a hasty visit, Pat looked down at the repulsive creature that had been, just a few days before, one of the most beautiful women in New York, and cried.



Pat and Lenore had been “the bestest friends” since the First Grade when “Lenny” decked a boy (now a well-known prize fighter) who was trying to tie her and Pat’s pig tails together. As she grew older, Lenore started flooring members of the male . in other ways. She enjoyed the adulation, but still managed to put things in a Lenny-like perspective. As she told Pat, “Once my mug started appearing in those d---ed society pages it seemed as if I had every hormone-raging kid, field-playing bachelor, straying husband, and second childhood-experiencing old goat in town after me in hot pursuit of my affections…or Daddy’s money.”



But Pat was to learn what really lay beneath the veneer of Lenore’s beauty and wealth when Mr. Clark, a candidate for mayor, became the target of an exceedingly vicious smear campaign orchestrated by his political enemies. Reduced to almost pariah status within his social set and unable to shield his family from the firestorm of lies and deceit that was raging around them, Clark had finally had enough. Not realizing that Lenny, the only one of Pat’s friends who hadn’t abandoned her, was visiting, he called his family together one night and wearily told them that he was withdrawing from the race and they were going to leave town. Suddenly he was staring like a headlight-mesmerized deer at a teen-aged girl with a face out of a Raphael painting who was excoriating him like an Old Testament prophet.



The astonished Clark family soon realized that Lenny’s outburst was not a spoiled adolescent’s tantrum over the loss of a best friend but a spontaneous and genuinely felt expression of indignation at the thought of appeasement or surrender in the face of injustice. Was Kent Clark the kind of man, Lenore demanded to know, who would let himself be driven out of the city he was born in and loved because of trumped-up accusations leveled by a bunch of lying, graft-grubbing scoundrels?



The more he listened to her, Mr. Clark decided that he, indeed, was NOT that kind of man, and he wasn’t even ashamed that it took a girl who was not even out of high school yet to smack him in the face with that fact. As Clark himself put it, how can you ignore a girl who quotes Davy Crockett’s “Make sure you’re right, then go ahead” to you? With the full backing of his family Kent Clark went ahead, faced his enemies down with the courage he had shown in the Argonne Forest during the Great War, and ended up winning the mayor’s office against the predictions of all the pundits. As icing on the cake, the grand jury that had been investigating him was dismissed, and a new one was convened to look into the wrong-doings of the men who had tried to sandbag his political career.



Pat thought about these things as she took one more look at her friend. The sight was as horrid as it was inexplicable. Lenore’s creamy, flawless skin had turned to something resembling ancient, weather-beaten leather riddled with pustules and scabs. The glorious mane of jet black hair was gone, replaced by a few gray, straw-like wisps; the mesmerizing green eyes, which had always glimmered with passion and/or mischief, had receded deep within black caves; the remnants of her beautiful teeth were black stumps; and her athletic but man-baiting curvaceous frame had shrunk and withered to the that of an emaciated pygmy. She looked like a Mayan mummy, as if she had aged a thousand years overnight. And that was the most horrifying thing about her transformation. It had literally happened overnight.



Lenny and Pat had last seen each other at a nightclub two evenings ago. The former had been her usual vivacious self when the two friends parted, but the next morning she was found in her present state by her maid and rushed to the hospital (along with the maid, who had to be placed under medical care for severe shock). The best doctors in New York and the Eastern Seaboard had been brought in to examine her, but all were bewildered. Lenore’s industrialist father, operating under his usual assumption that any bad news about his family would probably have a negative effect on business, used his money and commensurate influence to keep the news of his daughter’s malady out of the papers. He swore all family members and servants to secrecy. But his wife, at her wits end, thought that the mayor might be able to do something to help Lenny and surreptitiously called Kent Clark. He, in turn, called his daughter.



Wiping away her tears, Pat turned away from Lenore’s bed and rushed into the comforting arms of a tall blonde man, burying her face in the material of his suit coat. She did this partly to attain some relief from the stench that emanated from Lenore’s body and filled the room…a sickly sweet, extremely unpleasant odor…the smell of death. It was one of the reasons why Pat and her friend were able to spend so much time alone with Lenny. Even the doctors and nurses made their visits into the room as brief as possible.



“J-James,” sobbed Pat, addressing the blonde man, “what kind of disease is this?”



“It’s not a disease, Pat,” the man said quietly, but with an edge to his voice.



The grieving young woman had not really expected a definite answer to her question. But for reasons that she herself did not fathom, this reply, spoken with conviction, disconcerted her. Signs of perplexity and fear joined the look of sorrow on her face, and an uncontrollable feeling akin to panic seized hold of her.



Realizing that he had added to her anguish with his statement, the tall man increased the pressure of his embrace slightly with one hand, and, with the other, he gently pulled her chin up until he could look directly into her eyes. At his first glance Pat had the sensation that beams of some sort of light had momentarily flashed from his eyes, and she began to feel calmer as her irrational fears dissipated.



“I’m sorry, Pat,” the man said soothingly but without condensation, “I didn’t mean to upset you any more than you already were.”



“But what did you mean, James? How could it not be a disease?”



The man Pat called James took a sad but searching look at the pitiful husk of a woman lying in the hospital bed before answering. “Because,” he finally began, “most illnesses that affect people are caused by strange looking microscopic creatures like bacteria or viruses. But as weird as most people consider these so-called microbes to be, they are of this world. The thing that did this is to Lenore…is not.”



“A thing? What kind of thing?”



“In this world I believe it is called an incubus.”



Trying to digest this piece of information, Pat turned her eyes away from James for a moment and saw the other man in the room. She let out a startled cry and her companion whirled around. On James’s face Pat saw something that she had never seen before: a look of dumbfounded surprise. Pat was dumbfounded herself. It was not apparent how this stranger could have entered the room without the two of them knowing it. They certainly would have heard the door open because, on the orders of Lenore’s father, it was closed at all times and a guard was posted who was to let only hospital staff members enter. Pat and her friend had gotten in only because she was the mayor’s daughter and had invoked her father’s name.



But someone else was indeed inside the room. There was a strange quality about the sculptured features of the newcomer’s face that simultaneously reminded Pat of a classically handsome Greek god and a medieval gargoyle. He appeared to be well-built, but it was difficult to tell because of the bizarre cut of his outfit, which Pat believed was called a zoot suit. The last time she had seen an article of clothing so garish it was being worn by a comic in the “burley-cue” (burlesque house) that she and her sorority sisters had gone into on a lark. Its loudness certainly matched the apparent quietness of its owner’s entry into the room. The most unsettling thing about the man, however, was the unwavering gaze from his feral eyes.



As an attractive blonde, Pat was accustomed to admiring looks from the opposite .. But suddenly she fully understood the meaning of the phrase “he undressed me with his eyes.” The stranger’s stare was so intense, and the smirk of lascivious delight so starkly apparent on his face, that Pat felt as if she were being physically disrobed in front of him. Confused and fearful, she reflexively crossed her arms over her breasts and turned her head to look for help from James…and received another shock.



In the place of the tall, pleasant looking blonde man stood a powerfully built figure in an outfit even more unusual than that worn by the newcomer. At first glance it appeared to be the type of form-fitting costume worn by circus acrobats and trapeze artists. It essentially consisted of a blue leotard and white gloves, cape, and boots. But the hues were so vivid that the clothing, although opaque, seemed to have been fashioned out of the very substance of an azure blue sky and that of a cloud lit up by the sun. The being’s face was as white as its cape, but the rest of the head was covered with something resembling a helmet the blue-black color of a storm cloud. Counteracting the weirdness of the visage was a benign quality of the features that projected an overall impression of kindliness. The most arresting part of the face, however, was a pair of pitch-black caverns surrounding pale circles of light. These were the being’s eyes, It was said by some, particularly men with evil intentions in their hearts, that gazing into those black holes could teach one what Nietzsche meant when he wrote about looking into the abyss and the abyss looking back. Such were the eyes of Mr. Justice.



Those eyes were now focused intensely on the face of the gaudily dressed figure, who, for his part, stared impudently back. Pat’s eyes darted back and forth between the two of them. In the two years that she had known her friend, since 1940, she had never seen him transition from his human form, which she called “James,” to his spectral form, “Mr. Justice,” in front of a third party. As an agent from the spirit world charged with protecting America from supernatural enemies, Mr. Justice had found it expedient to blend in with the general population by taking the appearance of a “man on the street.” He sedulously guarded this “secret identity.” Only a select few, like Pat and her father, were entrusted with any knowledge of it. In light of this, Pat was bewildered to see Mr. Justice expose himself, as it were, to this strange man who had somehow entered into Lenny’s hospital room without being detected..



An eerie silence ensued while Justice and the intruder glared at each other. To Pat, the tension emanating from this staring contest was palpable and almost had the feel of a physical contest about it, as if the two were Indian wrestling or engaged in some other test of strength. With the unsettling power of the stranger’s eyes no longer focused at her, Pat was able to get a good look at his face, The shape of the head was long and angular, the features somewhat pointed, the hair a bit shaggy, and the expression permanently sardonic. There was something about his appearance that brought to mind pictures that Pat had once seen, in a book on Greek mythology, of creatures who seemed to be half-goat and half-human. As she looked closer, a more recent memory came to the surface.



“I know you!” she exclaimed with the excitement of sudden recognition, “you were at the Kit Kat Club the other night.”



“Yeah, that was me,” answered a voice that was guttural but oddly cloying. The stranger’s eyes broke away from their struggle with the eyes of Justice, and a lecherous gaze was once again focused on Pat. “You remember me, eh? I remember you too. You like me, eh? Don’t worry. After I finish with the Blue Booby here I will have the full pleasure of knowing you, just as I got to know your friend Lenny.” A tongue, fast as a serpent’s, flicked out and licked his lips lustfully.



“ENOUGH!”



The voice of Mr. Justice erupted ominously, reverberating in the room like the rumble of thunder as he raised his right arm and pointed his outstreched hand at the intruder. Shafts of light emerged from the tips of his fingers to form a larger and very bright beam that was met in the middle of the room by an equally large, but less refulgent, beam of light coming from the hand of the stranger. The immaterial Indian wrestling appeared to have resumed in a different form. For an inexplicable reason, the clammy grip of fear seized hold of Pat once again. She felt she was being swallowed up by darkness and chaos. Struggling to overcome the despair and bewilderment that beset her, Pat raised her eyes to Heaven and cried “Help me!”



As if in answer from above, or at least sideways, a Gideon Bible careened into her head with a resounding smack and ricocheted away. Startled, Pat looked around to see an array of small objects---a water pitcher, a glass, some flower arragements, Lenore’s medical chart, Pat’s purse---whirling around the room in a bizarre parody of the solar system with Mr. Justice and his opponent in the center like twin suns locked in battle.



Later, Mr. Justice would explain (at length, with big words and a number of diagrams and sketches) that the objects were set in motion by apergetic residual kinetic energy radiated as a electro-magnetic manifestation of the temporal-spatial dissociation resultant upon primordial cosmic force propagation. Or something. All Pat knew at the time, as she narrowly avoided a bedpan (thankfully empty) that skimmed by barely an inch above her head, was that the things seemed to be moving faster and more erratically as the light beams emanating from the hand of Mr. Justice grew intensely brighter. Some of the things started bobbing up and down like the bouncing ball in the sing-along feature at a picture show. With a cry of panic and a grunt of exertion, Pat leapt to Lenny’s bedside to prevent a rocketing wash basin from striking her sleeping friend.



Thus, for the remainder of the battle between Mr. Justice and the intruder, Pat stood by the bed deflecting everyday objects that were serving as pucks in a bizarre sort of aerial hockey game. Pat herself could feel waves of some kind of force hitting her like an ocean tide, and Lenore’s bed started to shake. Fortunately, the sedative she had been given was a strong one, and she did not wake up. But the environment in the room seemed to be growing more dangerous with every passing second. Pat was unsure how much longer she could protect her friend. As it transpired, the contest between the two supernatural beings—for Mr. Justice’s opponent was obviously not an ordinary man—would soon come to an end.



Pat could see that the beam emerging from the hand of Mr. Justice was growing brighter and longer, while the other beam was becoming steadily shorter and duller. The impudent sneer on the face of the intruder was now replaced by a scowl of consternation and exertion. Finally, with a derisive grunt he leapt out of the way of the beam projected by Mr. Justice and raised his hands. They had been normal looking hands when Pat had first seen them, but now they were hideous, gargantuan, claw-like things. A grim smile played briefly across the face of Justice as he lowered his right arm and the rays ceased emanating from his fingers. In seeming response, the things that had been soaring in a wild orbit around the room deigned to obey the laws of gravity once more. Pat became preoccupied with protecting her sleeping friend from falling objects and almost forgot about the battle taking place until she heard a savage snarl. She turned her head in time to see the creature in a zoot suit lunge at Mr. Justice, slashing wildly with its nightmarish talons.



Again and again, grotesquely long, razor sharp nails sliced the air with unbelievable speed and ferocity. But air was all they sliced. The grace and agility with which Mr. Justice evaded each attack was the most uncanny thing Pat had ever witnessed. Judging from the look on the attacker’s face—which was becoming more and more beast-like with every passing second—he evidently shared her astonishment. In his case, however, astonishment quickly evolved into frustration. Frustration, in turn, led to a momentary pause in his assault, and the consequence of that pause was a blow from the fist of Mr. Justice that struck like an azure lightning bolt and spun the creature around a full 180 degrees in a swift pirouette. No less swift was the kick from a booted foot that sent him lurching uncontrollably forward.



Faster than thought itself Mr. Justice’s right arm shot forth once more, and the gloved hand at the end of the arm was holding a sword. Pat had no clue where the weapon came from—she had few clues about anything at the moment—but from the sword’s point she saw something resembling an incandescent, jagged green flame shoot forth and envelop the stranger in an emerald conflagration. A shriek of agony burst from the beleagured antagonist’s lips. Then, as if someone had carelessly yanked the tone arm off of a revolving phonograph record, the cry screeched into silence. That was because the lips in question, along with the rest of the head they belonged to, had disappeared.



By now the entire room was bathed in an eerie green light as the decapitated body, engulfed in verdant flames, continued to stagger forward drunkenly until it collided with the door. At that instant the emerald fire sparked instensely and then flickered out, accompanied by a crackling sound. Mr. Justice shouted something in a language Pat did not understand, but she clearly recognized it as an imprecation uttered out of anger. Having come to a halt, the body was bent at the waist with the shoulders pressed up against the door. The hands, now human-looking again, were positioned on each side of the torso. It looked as if a man had rammed his head through a door made of solid wood and was now trying extract it. Pat let loose an involuntary giggle. In spite of the bizarre events of the past few minutes it did look comical.



Mr. Justice took a step foward as the body, still headless, stood erect and turned around. The head popped, almost literally, back into view. Its face was the color of a ripe cherry, and the features were contorted in rage. The eyes, although seething with anger, also looked as if they were on the verge of breaking into tears.



“Ah-Ah-I wuh-wuh-will kuh-kuh-kuh-KILL YOU!” blubbered the creature as Mr. Justice advanced toward it. Then, to Pat Clark’s eyes, the being’s form seemed to quiver, shrink, and vanish altogether. Another unintelligible curse erupted from Mr. Justice. A bit of movment in the corner of the room closest to the door caught Pat’s eye. She focused her gaze just in time to see a cockroach disappearing into a tiny crack in the baseboard. Pat turned to look at Justice, but he too had vanished. Then a small blue blur in the same part of the room where the insect had been drew her attention. It was a minature Mr. Justice entering the aperture in the baseboard.



Pat’s head was reeling and she had to sit down. Questions swarmed through her mind. Who was that strange, unpleasant man, or was he even a man? What connection did he have with Lenore’s horrible malady? All of those bizarre events of the past few minutes—light beams shooting out of hands, objects flying around the room, the sword, the green light, the disappearing and reappearing head—what did it all mean? Where was Mr. Justice? Was that really him, about an inch and a half tall, chasing after a cockroach? And what was that infernal rapping sound?



The last question actually had a down-to-earth answer. Alarmed (and awakened) by the noises coming from Lenore’s room, the guard hired by her father managed, after several tries, to lift his bulk out of his chair, lumber over to the door, and knock several times. Getting no response, he opened the door quietly and gingerly stuck his head in far enough to glimpse a room in disarray, with furniture askew and objects scattered everywhere.



“What on Oith happened here?” shouted a voice that could only have originated in Brooklyn, handily consolidating Pat’s series of questions into one succinct query, “Jeez, lady, did youse get mad at yer guy and decide ta try out yer pitchin’ arm on him?”



At a loss for a good explanation—or any kind of explantation, for that matter—Pat did an impersonation of Charlie McCarthy without Edgar Bergen. Her silence gave the guard time to enter the room completely and take a good look around. A furrowed brow and pursed lips indicated that he was perplexed.



“Where’d he go, lady?”



“W-who?” stammered Pat.



“Da big jamoke in the blue soot who came in wit’ ya, who’did youse think I wuz talkin’ about?” The brow furrowed deeper, “I’m a perfessional, lady, and I know he didn’t leave da room because nobody gets past me when I’m on guard dooty.”



Several of his past employers would have vigorously debated that statement, but Pat was in no position to argue the point and reverted to being mum.



“C’mon, lady,” pressed the guard, emboldened by Pat’s apparent nervousness, “don’t be coy wit’ me. Where is he?”



“Right here,” answered a voice directly behind the fellow, who screeched and sprung into the air like a scalded cat (an accurate similie in this case, to which Pat could attest, having witnessed what had happened one day when the Clark family cook had accidentally spilled some boiling water on Dinah, the family feline). Bolting across the floor in a panic, the guard would likely have collided with Lenore’s bed had he not been stopped abruptly in his tracks by powerful hands that gripped his arms and turned him gently but irresistably around. He found himself staring into the earnest blue eyes of a pleasant-looking blonde man wearing a blue suit—the very man about whose whereabouts he had been inquiring.



“Are you all right?” asked Mr. Justice in a solicitous voice.



“W-w-where da blazes w-w-was youse?” stammered the guard after taking a few moments to regain his voice.



“Why, I’ve been here all along, over in the corner over there. I saw you, but you apparently didn’t see me. Why did you come in here, anyway?”



“I, uh, hoid some funny sounds comin’ from ins here, so’s I comes in and sees stuff layin’ all over da place.”



“What stuff?” asked Justice, with puzzlement in his voice.



“Whaddya mean, what stuff? I means all dat stuff dat….dat…wuz….dere.”



In point of fact, as Pat could plainly see, the room was still in chaotic disorder. But, thanks to the suggestive powers of Mr. Justice, the bulging, disbelieving eyes of the guard saw only an ordinary hospital room with everything neatly in its place.



“I-I-I…” said the guard.



“There’s no need to explain,” interjected Justice, “you thought you heard a noise and came in to investigate. You were just doing your job.” He put a hand on the man’s should and began to gently but firmly guide him to the door, making sure that the fellow didn’t step on any of the objects that were invisible to him.



Once he had escorted the flustered guard completely out of the room and into the corridor, Mr. Justice stopped, turned to face the man, and looked directly into his eyes with a probing gaze. After a moment he spoke the following words in a quiet but oddly forceful tone.



“You will return to your chair, sit down, and stay there until Miss Clark and I leave. From this day forward you will no longer sleep or drink on the job, and you will carry out your duties to the best of your ability so that your employers will not find reasons for dismissing you as readily as they do now. On payday, you will take home the amount of money that you now spend in the bars, and you will spend in the bars only the amount of money that you now take home. In this way you will do a better job of taking care of your wife and children, and they will be happier. So will you. Do you understand me, Robert?”



“Gotcha,” replied the man who had been correctly addressed as Robert. Mr. Justice gave him a friendly pat on the back, and Robert turned, walked over to his chair, and sat down. Because he was acting like a “normal” person and did not appear to be in a zombie-like trance, no one watching him could have suspected that he had just been placed under an extremely powerful and virtually permanent form of hypnotic suggestion designed to help him obey his better instincts and ignore his baser ones. The members of his family would never know what had made him change his ways, but they were grateful that he had done so. Less grateful were the owners of the taverns in Robert’s neighborhood, but they managed to survive the reduction in his patronage.



Mr. Justice allowed a brief smile of satisfaction to appear on his face for an instant. He felt that he had done at least one good deed that day. But perhaps, he mused darkly, it would be the last good deed he would ever do on this earth. He went back into the hospital room where he saw Pat kneeling aside of Lenore’s bed with her hands pressed together in prayer. He did not disturb her, but busied himself in picking things off the floor and straightening up the room. When he sensed that she had finished her supplications, he gently helped her to her feet and suggested that it was time to go.



Neither said a word as they left the hospital and walked to Pat’s car, which Mr. Justice inspected at length with exceptional thoroughness before they got in it. Pat didn’t bother to ask him what he was doing. There were too many other questions on her mind.



When he was finally satisfied with the car, Justice opened up the passenger door for Pat and helped her in. He then got behind the wheel and started the engine. Although he possessed many extraordinary powers and had traveled to strange worlds and planes of existance virtually unimaginable to the human mind, nothing seemed to thrill Mr. Justice more than whizzing down an open highway in Pat’s sporty roadster with the top down while Pat struggled to keep her scarf from blowing off. Maybe it was because he was indeed, at his core, the spirit of an 11th century English prince and could never get over the marvels of 20th century transportation. Whatever the case, in his “human” form Justice took boyish delight in making the powerful engine perform at its maximum capacity, and he had a series of speeding tickets as souveniers of the times he had done so.



Even in recent days, with gas rationing in effect because of the war, he was still guilty of giving in to his heavy foot now and then. But today he drove conservatively and well within the speed limit. Although she was lost in her own thoughts for a while, Pat eventually noticed that she was not hanging on for dear life during a motor trip with Justice and turned her head to look at him. On his face was something she had never seen there before—a look of anguish. Sensing that she was staring at him, he met her gaze and, in a tone of voice that matched the sadness in his eyes he said “It’s all my fault, Pat.”



“W-what? What is?”



“This terrible thing that has happened to Lenore. It is all because of me.”



“What do mean? You said that Lenny’s illness was caused by some kind of, of, what did you call it?”



“An incubus. The very one I just fought.”



“That man was an incubus? But he was dressed like one of those men who handle prostitutes. What do they call them…gimps?”



“Pimps,” replied her companion. Pat had lived something of a sheltered life, but Mr. Justice’s encounters with the American underworld had brought his vocabulary of argot up to date. “But,” he continued, “ it was limping a bit after our fight, so perhaps it can be justly called a “gimp” as well…if such terms can be applied to something that isn’t human.”



“Isn’t human?” repeated Pat, “then just what is he…or it? And why does it look like a pimp or gimp or whatever is they call them?”



“An incubus is a spirt—an evil one—that enters the room of a sleeping woman and…” Justice paused as he searched for a euphemism, “has its way with her.”



“What?!” In spite of herself, Pat almost burst out laughing.



“It’s true!” intoned Mr. Justice with such gravity that Pat’s mirth, little as it was, vanished instantly.



“An incubus is a type of spirit,” continued Justice, “and when a spirit takes on the guise of a human being, it chooses a form that matches its true character. Incubi take great delight in abusing and subjugating women. That is why they often look like pimps.”



He paused for a moment. Pat noticed with curiosity that he seemed to be breathing somewhat heavily. “What is worse,” he went on, “ like a vampire the incubus siphons off some of its victim’s life force in order to maintain its own vigor. Usually it is only a small amount of the woman’s force and often its theft is not noticed or is soon replenished. But in Lenore’s case…”



The abrupt silence drew Pat’s attention to Justice’s face. It was contorted with anger. A chill went down Pat’s spine. She had never seen that emotion displayed so vividly on anyone’s face before. When he resumed speaking, his voice was deep and hollow.



“…in Lenore’s case, the filthy thing took it all…all of her youth, her vitality…and it left what you saw in that room. And it did it because of me.”



“What do you mean?”



Justice took a long breath. “As I have told you, Pat, I was sent to this world because evil supernatural forces are at work interfering in the affairs of humans, and this meddling has helped lead to the great war that your country has just entered. My mission is not to help your nation win the war; it must do that on its own. I am charged with preventing powerful and malignant beings, such as the one called Satan, from directly aiding the Axis powers. In other words, I am here to make sure there is a fair fight. That is the desire of the One who sent me, because humans must make the choice to follow good or evil themselves…”



“Yes, I know all that,” exclaimed Pat impatiently, “but what does that have to do with you and Lenny and this inky…this monster?”



“It is because of the bounty.”



In Pat’s mind, which she currently thought she was losing, images arose of Clark Gable sporting a pony tail but no mustache while Charles Laughton’s stentorian voice kept shouting “MISTER CHRISTIAN, COME HERE.” She contemplated staging her own mutiny. Getting a straight answer out of Justice was impossible at times. Right now, with her nerves on edge, she wanted to give vent to her fear, anger, and frustration by screaming and screaming at him. But she took hold of herself and instead uttered a sardonic “The what?”



“The bounty on my life…or existance, if you prefer. Satan and his allies have offered a reward for my extermination. Apparently I have been a bigger thorn in their sides than I thought I was.”



“They’ve put up money for people to kill you?!”



“Not money. Supernatural beings have no need of material wealth. They traffic in other things, like human souls and the power that can be derived from them. I have heard that a thousand souls have been placed on my head, but that may be an exaggeration.”



“But, can you…can you be…”



“Killed? Not in the mortal sense of the word. But I can be…perhaps the best word is “neutralized.” In essence, the Mr. Justice that you know would cease to exist on this world or in any other reality.”



“Are…are you serious?”



“Have you ever known me not to be in matters concerning the forces of evil?”



Pat had to concede he had a point there. In fact, she thought, he could very well have ended his last sentence with the word “be.” But that would have been unkind and not quite true. She noticed, though, that he seemed to be growing uncharacteristically testy.



“I cannot fault Satan and his minions for trying to destroy me,” continued Justice, “for that is in accordance with their role in the endless struggle of good and evil. But I was…SO…STUPID.”



Pat was alarmed at the vehemence with which he spat out these words. She had never seen him so disturbed, and she could scarcely believe the words that next came out of her mouth in a reassuring tone: “James, calm down. I’m sure you weren’t. Tell me what you are talking about.”



He seemed to take her admonition to heart, and when he spoke again it was in a milder but still serious tone of voice.



“When I was sent back to this world on my present mission, I thought it would be wise to adopt the guise of an ordinary citizen of your country so that I could move among your people without attracting undue attention. This “secret identity” had the added advantage of making it more difficult for my enemies to find me for the purpose of taking me unawares. Until now. And my blundering is to blame. Because of my actions, well intentioned though they might have been, the incubus deduced that Lenore was someone close to me and deliberately attacked her in order to draw me out into the open.”



“W-What!?” But, you and Lenny hardly know each other. Why would anyone think that you two are close?”



“Because of the fundraiser for the war refugees,” replied Justice.



Pat sat in puzzled thought for a few moments until a sharp intake of her breath signaled that she had realized what her companion was trying to tell her. It had been several weeks ago. She and Lenny had been organizing a society event to raise money for people, primarily children, who had been displaced by the war in Europe. Veterans of such work, they were both tired of dealing with the inflated egos and overbearing demands of the Broadway actors and Hollywood film stars who were usually brought in as draws for these kinds of benefits. Then, while walking past a newstand that had a display of so-called “funny books,” Lenny got the idea of inviting one of the real-life costumed, crime-fighting “mystery men” who seemed to have popped up out of nowhere during the past few years and busied themselves with fighting gangsters and foreign spies.



Everyone on the planning committee, including Pat, thought it was a marvelous idea. But no one could figure out how to contact the Wizard, Steel Sterling was on a special assignment for the Army, and J. Edgar Hoover said that he could not spare the Shield for even a few hours in spite of a personal entreaty from Pat’s father, the mayor of New York.



Believing that Mr. Justice would flat out reject the idea of appearing at a social gathering, Pat didn’t even try to broach the subject with him until Lenny prodded her unmercifully. To her amazement, he said yes. When she asked him later why he agreed, he started to give her a long-winded dissertation on how he had reached the conclusion that this his appearance would be a humanitarian gesture and not a violation of his mandate to refrain from aiding America’s war effort directly. But when he saw he was losing her, he cut the lecture short. He told her he was doing it because of her. Simply because she had asked him to do so.



He had been a huge hit at the benefit. A famous debunker of psychics and channelers had offered to give $25,000 to the relief fund if he could not prove that Mr. Justice was a charlatan. His bank account’s loss was the refugees’ gain. Best of all though, was the way that the displaced children who had been brought to the function took to Mr. Justice. Pat had thought they would be frightened by his somewhat sepulchral appearance, but he won them over quickly and entertained them wonderfully the entire evening.



Much of the credit for the event’s success, however, belonged to Lenore, who was mistress of ceremonies. Because of her outgoing, gregarious, and fearless nature, Lenny could take charge of almost any situation. An evening with an entity purportedly from The Great Beyond turned out to be no exception. Lenore somehow managed to engage the featured guest of the benefit in an improvisational comic dialogue wherein Mr. Justice played a sort of George Burns in mummer makeup (albeit without the cigar) to Lenny’s Gracie Allen. Anyone listening to the routine would have thought that the two were old acquiantances..



Suddenly, to Pat’s horror, she realized that someone, someone evil, had thought exactly that. This person, if he could be called a person, had attended the fundraiser to get a look at the elusive Mr. Justice. Perhaps he did not have the means at hand to destroy Justice at the event. But, as he watched the impromptu routine, he concluded that the best way to draw Mr. Justice out into the open would be to inflict harm on Mr. Justice’s “girl friend,” Lenore Lamont.



Pat thoughts raced back to a few evenings ago when she and Lenny had decided to have a night on the town—something they had rarely done since Pearl Harbor—and wound up at a slightly seedy place called the Kit Kat Klub. There they had encountered a crude character who Pat now recognized as the same one Mr. Justice had just fought. The would-be Romeo had tried persistently to foist his attentions on Lenore, but she had brushed him off with a skill and aplomb developed from years of dealing with a veritable legion of gigilos. It had seemed that she had gotten rid of him. But Pat, to her sorrow, now knew better.



A sick feeling, tinged with guilt, told hold of Pat’s soul. It was not unlike the feeling that many war veterans experience when they look back and think about their buddies who had died in combat while they had lived. If anyone could be called Mr. Justice’s girl friend it was her, Pat Clark. By all rights, Pat thought, she should have been the one the incubus was after. She should have been the one it followed home. Hers should be the shriveled-up body now lying in that lonely hospital room. And, although she had never considered herself a self-abnegating person, Pat would have willingly traded places with Lenore at that moment if her friend could be young and beautiful again.



After a minute or two of this train of thought, however, Pat’s native good sense took charge. She realized that wallowing in feelings of guilt and despair would do neither Lenore nor herself any good, particularly since she had the feeling that the incubus would turn its attentions to her if it managed to get Mr. Justice out of the way. That was a frightful thing to consider. But as FDR had said, the only thing to fear was fear itself, and for Pat the best way to deal with that insidious emotion was to talk openly about the things she feared. She resumed the converstion with Justice.



“So you think that this…what do you call it?



“An incubus.”



“You think that this incubus was at the benefit, saw you and Lenny together, thought you were good friends with her, and then robbed her of her life force in order to get you to come to her hospital room so that he could attack you?”



“Yes.”



“But, how could that be? From what I have seen you’ve always been able to detect the presence of these supernatural creatures no matter how well they disguise themselves as human. How could you not have known that the incubus was there at the benefit?”



A look of perturbation appeared on Justice’s face that was matched by the strained tone in his voice as he answered



“Because…because I simply…couldn’t! They are creatures of stealth. Even in the hospital room it was standing right behind me, and I didn’t sense a thing. There could have been an army of incubi behind me, and I wouldn’t have known they were there!”



Pat noted wryly that even though the being who had once been known as Prince James of England had purportedly spent the last 900 years as a spirit, his male ego was remarkably intact, and male egos had a difficult time dealing with their personal shortcomings. Her instincts told her, however, that saying anything that could exacerbate his feelings of frustration would not be advisable, so she attempted to mollify him by making a positve observation.



“But you didn’t seem to have any trouble handling him.”



“No,” he agreed, “but it was daytime and the icubi do not have their full range of powers during the day. They tend to be a boastful lot with an overly high opinion of themselves, however, and it probably convinced itself that it was strong and cunning enough to deal with me at any time, not just at night.”



“I thought you were wonderful,” she said sincerely, “but where did that sword come from?”



“A fifth-dimensional compartment from which I can retrieve when I need it. It is a replica of Excalibur that King Arthur, or his spirit, rather, presented to me when I was in the division he commanded in the Celestial Army. It was given to me for…my service.”



Pat had heard him talk about his time in the Celestial Army on previous occasions. It was where he had learned to use many of the powers that he utilized so effectively in carrying out his mission on earth. She knew from his hesitancy that he was being modest. She had a hunch that such a sword was only awarded to celestial soldiers who had accomplished extremely meritorious deeds.



“What was that green light that glowed from it?” she asked.



“One of the most potent varieties of power in the universe. I am permitted to use the sword to draw forth this power from its source only under the most dire of circumstances…such as to save the life of a mortal from death by sorcery, which was the case with Lenore. My plan was to invoke the power of the green flame to imprison the incubus in an interdimensional zone of confinement. Once it was safely incarcerated there, I could begin the process of forcing the creature to return Lenore’s life force to her. Unfortunately, the…



“Return her life force to her? Do you mean you can cure her? Make her young and well again?”



“Yes, I believe so. Theoretically, it should be a fairly straightforward procedure. But first I have to get my hands on that abomination…and I came so close. The green flame was doing exactly what I was willing it to do when that…that…lummox ran into the door…a wooden door. For a reason that I cannot comprehend, the power feeding the green flame “short-circuits,” to borrow a term from earthly science, whenever it comes into contact with wood. Without the emerald fire the incubus returned fully to this dimension and then made its escape.”



“But how? I remember him pulling his head out of the door and threatening you, and then he just vanished into thin air.”



“No, it left the room in the same manner in which it had no doubt entered it. It changed itself into the form of an insect resembling a cockroach and crawled through a crack in the wall.”



“That can’t be!”



“That is something that incubi do. Considering their character, temperment, and habits, the cockroach is an apt guise for them.”



“Wait a minute,” said Pat, as the mention of the cockroach refreshed her memory, “I thought I saw you going through a tiny crack in the baseboard.”



“Yes, I assumed a diminutive size and attempted to pursue the incubus, but I lost it in the crowd.”



“Crowd? What crowd are you….oh…you mean…?”



“I am afraid so. For all its vaunted reputation, that hospital has a severe infestation problem. As I recall, your father is on its board of directors. You should speak to him about fumigation.”



“I, uh, will make a note of it. But what about the incubus? How will you find it so that you can help Lenore?”



Mr. Justice laughed, something Pat had seldom heard him do.



“I do not think we have anything to fear on that score. Now that the incubus knows that I, in my mortal guise, am a close acquaintance of the mayor’s daughter, it will find me…and you.”



He pulled the car over by the side of the road, turned off the engine, and looked straight into her eyes.



“Pat, I do not know if I can protect you from it. The incubus may destroy me and then come for you.”



“But you beat it so easily!”



“All the more reason for it to take no chances this time. As tempting as the bounty on me is to creatures of the incubus’s nature, I doubt that it would have come after me if it did not have an ‘ace in the hole.’ When it comes for me again, and it will, it will be fully prepared.”



From his words, Pat thought for an instant that he might be afraid of being “neutralized,” as he put it. But as quickly as that thought had come into her head she dismissed it and berated herself harshly for thinking that there was any trace of cowardice in Mr. Justice’s nature. She had seen him throw himself with reckless abandon into battles against the most fearsome monsters imaginable, and this very afternoon she had been struck by the cool and masterful way he had handled the incubus. No, she concluded, he was not afraid, But why did he seem so troubled? Her consideration of that question was interupted as Justice continued speaking.



“If the incubus does succeed in its attempt, it may not matter in the overall scheme of existance. The One who sent me will send another to take my place, and another after him if need be, and the eternal struggle between good and evil, light and darkness, will continue until Armageddon. But, although I know that my personal existance is not so important and I am willing to sacrifice myself for the the Good and the Light, well, I…I mean…what I want to say is, uh.…”



Pat turned and stared at him. She had never heard Mr. Justice stammer before. It was a little disconcerting, but amusing as well. In his eyes she saw a peculiar intensity that had never been there before, and she didn’t know quite what to make of it. Then he uttered words that she had thought she would never hear from him.



“I love you and I don’t want to lose you!”



If Pat Clark had any doubts about the sincerity of his words, they were dispelled by the warmth of his embrace and the passion of his kiss. After a few minutes of blissful reverie, however, they were both brought back to reality by a honking horn and shouted wisecracks from teenagers in a passing car.



Pat checked her hair and makeup in the rearview mirror and saw that her face was as flushed as the red hair of the freckle faced kid driving the jalopy whose occupants had cut short her long-awaited tender moment with her man—and if he wasn’t a man he had sure done a darned convincing imitation of one just now. Abruptly she burst out in giddy laughter. Her companion looked at her concernedly, but she put her hand on his and squeezed it to let him know that she was okay. And she was.



She was laughing partly because she was deliriously happy at that instant and partly because she realized the absurdity of what had just happened. Who would have thought that a little bit of necking—a silly word in itself—would be just the thing to endow her with a fresh and powerful resolve to face the sinister forces that were threatening her and her best friend and….her man!



“James,” she said at last after regaining her composure, “I know from what you’ve told me that you have been around in one form or another for over 900 years, and I used to think that it would take you that long to say the words that you just said to me. I love you too.”



He started to say something but she put her finger on his lips “Hush, we’ll talk about this later. Right now I want to know what we are going to do about Lenny and this incubus.”



Mr. Justice smiled at the mention of the collective pronoun. Perhaps he smiled because it was absurd to think that a mortal unversed in mystical matters would be of much use in a deadly battle against an incubus that was adept in the type of sorcery that could destroy a battle-scarred spirit warrior like himself. Then again, maybe the smile was there because, after nearly a millenium of fighting a good but often lonely battle against myriad forces of evil, he had at last found something that he had never had during his all too brief mortal life—a woman with whom he had forged a bond of love and who would stand by his side no matter what the future held.



“I think,” replied Justice, “that I know what it is planning, and I believe I have devised a way of dealing with it. But you will have to play a role.”



“Ha! If you think this incubus is a tough customer you just try and stop me from ‘playing a role,’ Mister. When do you think he’s going to strike?”



“During the hours of darkness, quite likely this very night. It will do doubt wish to avenge its defeat this afternoon as quickly as possible. In any event, until it does make its move I want us to stay close together at all times, especially at night.”



“You mean, you want to stay at my house?”



“Yes, but only because I don’t want to take the risk of the incubus capturing you and holding you as a hostage to lure me into a trap. We have to be the ones who lure it into a trap, and I think the plan I have come up with overcomes the one weakness that I have in regard to the incubus—my inability to sense its presence.”



“There is no way at all that you can figure out if he’s around?”



“I did notice that its presence seemed to make you uncommonly nervous and agitated. You started acting that way even before you noticed that it was in the room at the hospital, and I think you have a sensitivity to its aura of evil that I do not have.”



Pat made a wry face. “What are you saying? I’m going to be a…a…canary in a coal mine?”



“No, not at all. I was simply noting that you may possess some degree of psychic ability. Perhaps it can be developed, but we do not have time to work on that now. The plan I have developed requires us—both of us—to set a trap for it. I am confident that it can work, but I want you to know that, whether in the mortal world that you inhabit or the spiritual or immaterial realms, there are no guarantees. If the plan fails, we will both perish…together.”



“What is this plan, James?” asked Pat in a steady voice.



Before answering, Justice made another thorough search of the car and its environs to ensure that the incubus had not stowed away in the vehicle or followed them somewhow. He then explained his stratagem in detail. When he had finished, Pat took his hand and held it for a long while as she thought things over. Finally, she turned to him and asked “Do you really think this will work?”



“Yes, but…”



Once again she put her finger on his lips to silence him.



“No buts. Make sure you’re right, then go ahead.”



Many hours later a beam of moonlight shone through the window of Pat Clark’s bedroom and softly illuminated the form of Mr. Justice, with well-developed arms crossed over a powerful chest, seated in a chair near Pat’s bed. For this evening, and perhaps for many others, the dictates of propriety would have to be breached. However, Justice’s self-appointed sentry duty was not destined to last long.



The country house in which Pat was currently living was modern and well built, but not inpregnable to insects. Not long after midnight a creature resembling a cockroach made its way into the bathroom adjoining the master bedroom. The tiny shape crawled across the floor. Just as it passed through a sliver of light cast by the moon it suddenly turned into something much larger. Without the slightest sound an angular head manuevered itself through the open doorway so that malevolent eyes could stealthily survey the scene in the bedroom. That scene included the outline of a head rising above the back of the chair and the recumbent form of Pat Clark in the bed. Neither Justice nor Pat gave any outward sign that he or she was aware of the presence of the incubus.



Satisfied that it had not been detected, the incubus withdrew its head. A moment later, its entire body appeared in the doorway, where it had command of the entire bedroom. A malevolent smile appeared on the bestial face of the incubus. Hairy, claw-like fingers brought something resembling a panpipe up to cruel-looking lips. Pointing the instrument straight at the figure in the chair, the incubus began blowing into the panpipe-like thing, although no sound came out of it—at least no sound that was audible to humans or even to the ears of Mr. Justice. But somewhere in the infinite reaches and dimensions of time and space something heard the song sent by the incubus—and responded.



The incubus move a bit closer to the bedroom, apparently to gain a better position for what it was doing. Instantly, the silhouette of a head broke away from the dark outline of the chair as a well proportioned masculine shape stood erect and took a step or two forward. The incubus froze. If it had possessed a heart, the organ would have stopped permanently. But the figure did not approach the incubus or give any indication that it even saw the creature. It advanced no further but stood in the center of the bedroom and appeared to be looking around like a man who had heard a strange noise and was trying to discover its source.



As a precaution, the incubus receded somewhat into the shadows of the bathroom but continued to blow into its instrument, which it kept trained on the individual in the other room. A cloud drifted in front of the moon, taking away the one source of illumination in the house. The entire bedroom grew dark, but one particular area seemed to be blacker than anywhere else. That was the space directly behind and above the person standing in the room’s center. Without warning, something long and sinuous lashed out from the blackness and coiled itself around the torso of the caped figure that, in the space of a heartbeat, became almost completely and inextricably bound by a writhing mass of tentacles. Overhead, the amorphous black void swelled up like a coal-black storm cloud and metamorphosed into a cephalopod-like shape that maneuvered itself directly over its victim. Sinister red eyes focused intently downward as a hideous, razor-toothed maw resembling that of a lamprey opened and fastened itself with savage forcefulness around the top and back of its captive’s head.



Convinced that its foe was now helpless, the incubus strode boldly and even jauntily into the bedroom. It stopped in front of the imprisoned figure, albeit a prudent distance away, and laughed uproariously when it saw the unmistakable signs of fear in the features of Mr. Justice.



“Well, well,” said the incubus, adding a vicious snicker, “how the mighty have fallen. I betcha right now, if I gave you the chance, you would be more than happy to get down on your knees and kiss my feet and beg for your worthless life. But you ain’t gonna get that chance because you didn’t show me any respect and I’m getting paid too much for killing you. But that’s business.” He case a leering eye toward the bed. “Right now, I think I’m going to have me a little pleasure, and just to show you that there’s not all hard feelings, I’m going to let you watch…at least for as long as you still have eyes!”



Chortling raucously, the incubus turned in the direction of the supine form of Pat Clark, still apparently asleep. As he walked toward the bed the clouds passed away from the moon and the resulting light revealed that he was completely naked. With a deft flick of its wrist the incubus threw off the covers, lept nimbly on top of the shapely feminine body, and grabbed hold of the nightgown prior to ripping it off. In a flash, long-lashed eyelids opened, and slender hands took hold of the creature’s wrists. The incubus smiled. He liked it when they fought back. It gave him an excuse to hurt them more.



He exerted a little pressure, and a little more, and then much more. But instead of tearing the nightgown he found his arms actually being forced back. What was more, the grip of the delicate-looking hands around his wrists was painful. Growing frustrated, he struggled harder with his intended vicitm, who showed virtually no signs of strenuous exertion but simply stared steadily and blandly into his eyes.



An unearthly shriek of pain drew the incubus’s attention to the center of the room where a plethora of tentacles flailed wildly as numerous strange scarlet streaks and wounds appeared on the appendages and main body masss of the creature that been called forth to destroy Mr. Justice. It was as if invisible swords were slashing it to pieces. In its torment, it released the body it had entwined and flew madly around the room like a balloon with its air let out until it suddenly just disappeared.



The incubus gaped about himself dumbfoundedly. He honestly—a word seldom associated with anything about him—did not know what had just happened. Then the moonlight shone fully upon the figure standing a short distance away from the bed. The realization dawned upon the incubus that he was looking at Pat Clark. But if that was the woman over there, who was it who was laying beneath him? Seized with dread, he looked down into the eyes of Mr. Justice.



The incubus put up a savage fight—after its attempt to flee was thwarted by the iron grip of Mr. Justice. The sharp, jagged teeth and the wicked talons that appeared on the hands and feet of the incubus had a telling effect during the battle that ensued—as attested to by the horrified scream of Pat Clark. Her treasured matching sheet and pillowcase set, which she had gotten on sale at Bloomingdales, was being cut to ribbons. But, in time, the vigor of the incubus’ combative efforts subsided, and Mr. Justice had him securely pinned to a floor strewn with shredded bedding and feathers from torn pillows.



Positioning his face directly over that of the supine incubus, Mr. Justice began an incantation in a language that had been old when the earth was young. As he did so, narrow, incandescent beams of light shot out from his eyes directly into those of the incubus. As the chanting continued and the light beams glowed steadily, something resembling steam rose out of the incubus’s body and into the air before fading away. The creature cried out in pain and tried feebly to struggle. But Mr. Justice carried on implacably with his strange rite, and the steam-like substance emerged at a quickened pace until the the area immediately around Mr. Justice and the incubus was obscured by a sort of fog or mist.



Finally, after what had seemed like an eternity to Pat, Mr. Justice rose to his feet and the mist surrounding the incubus slowly dissipated. When it did, Pat’s eyes grew large and her hand shot to her mouth. The creature lying at her feet was now withered, desiccated, and scabious, just like Lenore was in the hospital room…if not more so. It was lying so still that Pat thought it was dead, but a feeble moan indicated that this was not yet the case. Then the thing slowly raised a shaking, skeletal arm, made a movement of its fingers, and turned into a cockroach.



Pat jumped instinctively back as the crawling thing made its way to the nearest wall and disappeared behind the nightstand. Pat looked searchingly at Justice. “A-aren’t you going to…”



“Kill it?” he asked? “No, I have taken away all its powers and its life force. That superannuated husk and that vile insect are the only two forms it has now. It will never be a threat again, and it will serve as a living warning to others who may wish to try for the bounty.”



As he talked, he noticed something lying on the floor near the entrance to the bathroom. Hewalked over to pick it up. It was an object resembling a panpipe.



“How do you feel, Pat? Did the kraken harm you at all?”



“No. It was just like you said it would be. It felt a little creepy and uncomfortable, but that might have been because I was already jumpy. You were right, I do get agitated when that incubus is around, even before I see him. But that other thing didn’t hurt me at all.”



“I knew it couldn’t, not in this world. But it very definitely could have destroyed me. My greatest fear was that it would not be fooled by the spell I had used to make you look like me, and vice versa. That was why I tried as much as possible to give you my mystical “scent” and disguise mine. Fortunately, the kraken went directly for the being to whom the incubus was guiding it with this thing.” Here he motioned to the panpipe-like instrument. “I knew that once it had eaten through the illusionary magical ‘coating’ and come into contact with the corporeal matter of your body, it would be poisoned. Even if it hasn’t perished, I have no doubt that it will not be in any condition to attack spirits of my nature for a very long time.”



Pat nodded wearily and sank down into the chair. She felt drained and wanted to go to sleep. Then a thought struck her.



“James, you said you took away its life force. Did you…?”



“I believe I did.”



“Why didn’t you tell me! Don’t just stand there you big lug. Let’s go! Can you fly us?”



“Well…”



“Oh, you and your secret identity. Who is going to see you flying with me in the middle of the…”



A glance out the window showed that the sun was already rising in the east.



“Oh, all right, let’s drive. If we flew my hair would be a rat’s nest by the time we got there. But don’t you be a Sunday driver this time”



In a whirlwind Pat threw on a dress, fixed her makeup, ran a comb through her hair, grabbed her hat, her purse, and the hand of Justice, now back in his “human” form, and whisked him to the car in her wake. When he opened the passenger-side door for her she paused for a moment, turned, and gave him a stunner of a kiss. Then she commanded him to rev up the horses and burn rubber.



At the hospital there was a commotion in Lenore’s room. It was like a beehive with a swarm of doctors, nurses, and Lamont family members buzzing around in confusion. It took a while for Pat and Justice to even set foot in the room, as there was a much more professional guard on duty this morning. Once they did get in, they couldn’t even see Lenore. The area around her bed looked like a football huddle. Exasperated, Pat shouted “Lenny!” at the top of her

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