Author note: This is my first attempt at a Hellboy fiction. I've tried hard to keep the characters in character. Not always easy. The events in this story are based on experiences I had as a child, Canadian folklore and my own personal nightmares. To take these and put them together appears, to me, as ideal material for Hellboy and Abe.
To state the obvious: Mike Mignola owns Hellboy, Abe and the B.P.R.D. Only those characters not affiliated with the B.P.R.D. belong to me. Please do not sue me. Agent Barker is mine, but exists for the sole purpose of being chauffeur to Abe and Hellboy. Comments welcome.
Chapter 1: Esther's secret
Esther sat in her living room, watching the clock tick away each minute of the day. They would soon be coming for her; they always came when the clock struck midnight. Her eyes remained fixed on the old brass pendulum as it swung from side to side within the oak case. Hour after hour passed as the hand crept closer to midnight. Esther sipped her tea, her eyes now on the tealeaves floating in her cup.
The chimes within the clock began to announce the coming of midnight. Trails of faint mist began to pour from the old case, filling the room. Suddenly figures began to melt out of the peeling wallpaper, dogs, horses, deer and ducks filled the rooms. They flew at the grandfather clock, surrounding it at is continued to chime.
Mist continued to flow from the clock, forming itself into the shape of a six-foot tall man. He looked around the room calmly and before the old lady. His misty form and empty eyes stared at her, Esther turned away.
"Your day will come and I will have you."
The clock chimed one last time. The man disappeared.
Esther sipped her cold tea and looked at the animals. They faded back into the walls. It was four in the afternoon.
"A simple haunting? I am not so sure." Hellboy paced in the back of the modified cube van, talking with a disguised Abe. "Neighbors and cottagers have reported strange lights and sounds from the home of Esther Williams for several decades. Reports are consistent with a true haunting. The animals become restless, then quiet. Esther is not seen for a few days after each episode, nor does she invite people over for tea. She normally knits the kids mittens, pets the dogs and has everyone over for tea. She's a sweet old lady, brother blue. There has to be something else going on here. We just have to find out what that 'something' is."
Agent Barker's voice echoed to the back of the van. "Eagle Lake, five kilometers. Hold on. This is going to be one bumpy ride."
The van made it's way down a secluded logging trail and into a small clearing. Abe opened the van's door to reveal lush forest and greenery demolished by the loggers. He paused at the sight, not a good start. Any spirits here would be restless.
Hellboy passively stepped out of the van, his hooves leaving deep indents in the open soil. He patted the Samaritan at his side. "Shall we?"
Agent Barker led Abe and Hellboy through the bush to where a small path led to a small dilapidated house. "She's expecting both of you. I will be in town. Radio if you need help."
Hellboy stood at the back of the house and tapped the door with his stone hand. Abe stepped gently around the overgrown garden path and admired the many unkept lupines and daisies that grew freely around the old home. The door swung open at the weight of Hellboy's fist, revealing a tidy, yet decrepit, house. An old lady sat in the living room, peering forward to catch a glimpse of her visitors.
"Come right in. Please, do not be alarmed at my lack of reaction. I know who you are. You are my last hope. Please, help me before I die."
Hellboy and Abe walked into the old house, the floorboards creaking. Abe took a seat while Hellboy remained standing since all the chairs were antiques and looked fragile. His yellow eyes scanned the room, searching for any relics or occult artifacts that may be the cause of this ongoing problem. Peeling wallpaper, old photographs, torn linoleum, antiques and a clock that needed setting; nothing unusual for the home of an eighty-nine year old woman.
"Tell us everything," stated Abe, "from the beginning".
Esther sipped her tea quietly. "It has always been a problem with this house. I was born here, as was my mother before me. Every so often, weeks, months or even years, John visits me. He has watched me grow up and each time he comes he says 'your time will come and I will have you'. I am getting old; he will soon come for me. Though I know no why." Esther stared into cup. Upon noticing it empty, she arose. "Would you care for some tea and marmalade?"
Abe politely refused. Hellboy reached into his belt and pulled out a small metal star on a chain. "No thanks, M'am." Esther disappeared into the kitchen.
Hellboy walked around the room, dangling a small amulet from his left hand. The star began to pull towards the earth, jerking periodically as Hellboy walked through the room.
"We have a talker, Blue." Hellboy grinned.
Esther walked back into the room holding a tray with three cups of tea, crumpets and marmalade.
Abe looked at the old grandfather clock in the corner. This was taking far too long; it was nearly midnight according to the clock. Abe checked his watch; it read eight in the evening.
"Won't you have some? It is very seldom I have company and you both must be very tired after your trip here." Esther plunked tea before Hellboy, who looked at the hot brown liquid with disgust. Abe poked the stale crumpet with his gloved hand as inconspicuously as possible. Esther resumed her seat and resumed sipping her cup of tea.
"Would you mind if I took a look around, M'am?" This was not really a question; Hellboy immediately began walking out of the living room, leaving Abe with Esther.
The amulet continued to jerk over the floor, shaking madly at certain points. There was something big here, something not entirely evil but very angry. Hellboy stared at the floor. There was something about this house. A cold breeze began to flow. Hellboy noted the windows were closed. Suddenly a flood of deer headed towards him, faint phantom deer that floated through the walls. Ducks and wolves followed, their screams and cries echoing in his head. Then there was chiming.
"Hellboy! Come quick" Abe called out. Esther sat in her chair staring off into space, her finger pointed towards the chiming grandfather clock. The pendulum swung rapidly, the hands moved.
Hellboy watched as the clock continued to chime, a rusty, sickly chime. Dust flowed from the clock and formed into the shape of a man. He stared at Hellboy with empty eyes.
"You cannot stop the inevitable. It is her fate."
Hellboy raised the Samaritan and pointed it at the figure.
The sound of shattering china echoed in the room as Esther dropped the teacup from her lifeless hand.
The red demon holstered the Samaritan. "Like hell."