IN THIS EPISODE: …The monsters have a free-for-all with the twins caught in the middle…
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CHAPTER 38 – All Monsters Attack!
Opal Cushing – The Tomb of Bastiti in the Waxworks
The First Night of the Full Moon
As Victoria’s fangs sank into Vincent’s neck, the sculptor’s eyes rolled back in his head, and all life seemed to go out of him. She held him tight in her red-draped arms, clearly enjoying her power and her much-anticipated revenge.
Opal could hardly believe what she was seeing. In just minutes, the world had turned upside-down, and her life had become total insanity: Paul was a werewolf, Victoria had transformed into a vampire, and one of the mummies in their father’s prized exhibit had come to life and was apparently looking to resurrect Queen Bastiti’s mummy, as well.
A day ago—even an hour ago—Opal would have sworn all of this was impossible.
Keep it together, she told herself. If you crack up now, none of us will get out of here alive!
Maintaining her composure proved difficult, though, when the entire mansion had gone mad around her.
She and Topaz finished scrambling to their feet next to the faux-tomb wall, where Victoria had thrown them.
“Are you okay?” Topaz whispered urgently.
“Just a little bruised.”
“What should we do?”
“We can’t just leave Paul here,” Opal replied. “We have to help him!”
“But…!” Topaz said, pointing.
As the twins watched in horror, the thing that had been Paul threw back his head and howled, his transformation complete. Fur covered his entire body, now, his hands and feet had become claws, and his face was a savage, snarling visage, half man and half wolf.
“H-he really is a werewolf!” Topaz gasped, seeming to have at least as much trouble believing it as Opal.
Opal nodded; her voice had deserted her, because, at this point, what could she say?
At least the wounds on Paul’s wrists seem to have healed, Opal thought. That left the twins with an entirely different problem, though. Now her would-be boyfriend was a ravening beast, straining furiously at his bonds. Rescuing a man would have been difficult amid this madness, rescuing a monster…
“We can’t let him loose,” Topaz said, as if reading her thoughts. “He’d just kill us. He might kill everyone here!”
Everyone else here could use killing, Opal reflected darkly—but thoughts like that wouldn’t help them, either.
“Leave my servant alone,” rasped the mummy of Sethotep. During the confusion, he’d stopped his chanting, crossed to where Victoria was draining the life from Vincent, and seized her by the back of the neck.
She let go of her husband, and he slumped limply to the floor. Whether he was dead or merely unconscious, Opal couldn’t tell.
Victoria hissed at the mummy like an enraged cat, spinning in his grip and baring her blood-stained fangs. She slashed at Sethotep’s chest with her fingernails, which now had grown into talons.
The claws raked across the mummy’s chest and his wrist, sending up clouds of mildewed dust. He dropped her, but didn’t seem much harmed. A smile cracked Sethotep’s ancient lips.
“You cannot hurt me,” he gloated. “The spell that resurrected me has made me impervious to all earthly harm. I am immortal.”
“So am I!” Victoria hissed. Her face contorted with rage as she charged him, slamming her head and shoulders into his gut.
The force of the blow took the mummy off his feet, and he crashed hard into one of the fake tomb walls. The impact shook loose one of the torches lighting the exhibit.
The firebrand fell into the startled mummy’s lap, and for a moment, Opal thought he’d go up like a tinderbox. He didn’t though. Instead, he merely laughed, picked up the torch, and thrust it into Victoria’s face as she came at him again.
The vampire screamed as the fire scorched her hair and burned her youthful countenance, sending up a cloud of misty smoke. She backed off, cursing and blinking cinders and ash from her eyes. But as she retreated, that greasy mist regathered around her. In just a few moments, her hair re-grew, and her skin mended itself until she looked inhumanly beautiful once more. Not even a scar or a trace of scorching remained.
The mummy laughed. “So…” Sethotep said, snuffing his torch by crushing its blazing head in his bandage-wrapped hand. “It seems that only the fires of the gods will harm either of us.” Again, he smiled, almost seeming to relish the challenge of battling a foe as powerful as himself.
“There are no gods,” Victoria said. “Only death!” She leapt at him again.
Both Opal and Topaz jumped at the sound. The battle between mummy and vampire had held them mesmerized.
Snap! Snap! SNAP!
Just that quickly, the wolf-man who had been Paul Shaw Longmire broke the leather straps holding him to the sacrificial altar.
As Victoria and Sethotep battled behind him, the werewolf stood atop the altar and howled.
“We should go…!” Topaz urged, pulling on her sister’s sleeve.
“I…” Opal began, but she knew her twin was right. They couldn’t help Paul now. Trying to do so before moonset would only get them killed.
Both sisters began backing around the wall of the faux tomb, toward the front exit, though Opal wasn’t sure what they might do once they got there, aside from flee.
Maybe we can lock them all inside the mansion, she thought. But would that even contain these monsters?
Victoria and Sethotep were ripping at one another with their claw-like hands, tearing off strips of each other’s undead flesh. But those chunks merely faded to mist or crumble to dust, only to re-form moments later, leaving the combatants as good as new. Whatever supernatural forces had created them apparently had made both monsters immortal, if not invulnerable.
The vampire charged again, snarling, slavering—a creature of claws, fangs, and fury.
But the mummy caught her and threw her across the room into one of the Bastiti displays. The collision with Victoria’s body smashed the life-size diorama into shards of wax, metal wiring, and painted wood.
Opal gasped at the bone-shattering impact, but a moment later, Victoria rose again, apparently unharmed.
Hissing venomously, Victoria leapt at her foe once more.
“Oh, no,” Opal muttered, a chill shooting through her; her initial gasp had drawn the attention of the werewolf.
Previously, the beast had merely been reveling in his newfound freedom, but now he turned and gazed directly at Opal.
In the blazing-red eyes of the creature had been Paul Longmire, Opal saw no remainder of the man she loved, only feral bloodlust.
The werewolf stepped toward the twins, crouching to spring.
“Run!” Opal whispered, trying to keep Topaz behind her. She didn’t want her sister to die because of her own foolish mistake.
“No!” Topaz replied. She snatched one of the burning torches from the wall and handed it to her sister. “Take this!”
Opal thrust the firebrand in front of her as the werewolf lunged.
The flaming head of the torch caught the monster full in the face. The beast growled as the hair and the flesh of its wolfish mien sizzled and burnt.
It quickly backed up, out of reach of the torch, hatred flaring in its blood-red eyes. But even as the wolf swayed warily, eyeing its enemies, its hair re-grew, and its damaged flesh knitted back together once more. It seemed that like the vampire and the mummy, the werewolf could not be permanently harmed by such an ordinary thing as fire.
Opal watched her foe, barely able to breathe, trying to remember what did harm a werewolf and also wondering if she would dare use such a weapon if she remembered.
She held the torch before her, hands trembling. At least it was something.
“Go, Topaz,” she whispered, her throat dry and her voice hoarse. “Get out of here.”
“Nope,” her twin replied. “The fire may not hurt it, but it doesn’t like the flames, either. We just need more.” She looked around, but none of the other burning torches lay within easy reach.
The vampire and the mummy were heaving heavy display pieces at each other now, as though the furniture weighed nothing. Sometimes, the intended target stepped aside, allowing the fixture to crash into splinters against another display or a wall, but other times the monster took the full brunt of the blow, only to laugh and rise unharmed once more.
Vampire… mummy… werewolf…! It was like something out of a nightmare.
Eyeing Opal’s torch, the wolf-man crept closer.
“Here, light this!” Topaz said, thrusting something slender and golden toward Opal’s torch.
As the tip of the object blazed bright white, Opal realized that her sister had retrieved the Torch of Sekhmet, the warrior goddess, from the entryway connecting the tomb exhibit with the Chamber of Horrors, below.
As this second torch flared, the werewolf stopped in its tracks.
Topaz had been right (though she’d always been better at sensing feelings than Opal); the werewolf didn’t like fire, even if it could regenerate from any damaged caused.
“Get back!” Topaz commanded, stepping toward the beast. “Back!” The ancient torch shone brilliantly in her hands.
“Yeah,” Opal reiterated, keeping side-by-side with her sister. “Back off! We don’t want to hurt you, Paul, but…”
She couldn’t tell if some part of the man inside the monster heard her, but the wolf turned and bounded away, putting the blood-stained altar between itself and the twins.
As the beast landed, though, a china doll cabinet—aimed at Sethotep—crashed full force into the wolf’s hairy body. The mummy laughed wickedly at the mishap; the vampire merely snarled, angry at having missed her target.
The piece of furniture did no more harm to the werewolf than it would have to either of the other monsters. The beast rose from the wreckage, howling with rage, and leaped toward Victoria.
Surprised, the vampire backed up, and the wolf fell upon her, claws raking.
“Time to go,” Opal whispered.
She and Topaz backed toward the main exit, keeping careful eyes on the creatures who had once been Paul Shaw Longmire and Victoria Duprix, as the two fiends rolled around on the debris-strewn floor of the faux tomb.
Suddenly, Topaz gasped, and her torch clattered to the floor.
Opal wheeled, and her blood ran cold.
The mummy of Sethotep stood behind Topaz, holding Opal’s twin sister by the neck, lifting her off the floor.
A wicked smile cracked the undead architect’s crumbling visage,
“I need more blood,” the mummy said, “blood, to revive my queen!”
TO BE CONTINUED…!
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