Jason Voorhees was dead.

When did he die? Was it in 1957, when a young boy fell into a lake and drowned while the camp counselors, who should have been watching him, made love? Was it in 1984, when a young boy named Tommy Jarvis hacked him to pieces with a machete? Or 1988, when the same Tommy Jarvis dumped him in the lake and ran a boat propeller against his skull?

Now Jason's corpse lay at the bottom of Crystal Lake, neither alive nor dead. Its mind had no semblance of sanity. The dark spirit that refused to quit the rotting corpse craved only murder.

And as it floated, a presence came before it, and spoke. The voice was that of his beloved mother.

Once again, it is my duty to claim you. And once again, I offer you freedom for blood.

One rotten, algae-covered finger twitched.

Go, said his mother. Punish them.

He began to writhe, the soggy rags of his clothes tearing as he disentangled himself from the chains. A booted foot brushed the silt at the lake floor, then came down firmly, followed by the other boot.

Since his lungs were filled with water, he walked along the bottom of the lake, moving toward the shore. Small fish darted away from the battered hockey mask that covered his face.

As the water became shallow, his head broke its surface. Water sloughed off his sodden flesh. The gleaming reflection of the moon was cut into a million slivers as Jason Voorhees returned to Camp Crystal Lake.

Jason's mind was devoid of higher thought, yet possessed of a devilish cunning. When his waterlogged boots squelched on the beach, he changed his gait to minimize the noise. He paused, listening. It was early autumn and near midnight, and a breeze was blowing through the yellowing leaves.

Then he heard it. Laughter, a woman's laughter, like the tinkling of chimes on the wind. Another laugh, deeper this time. Jason passed into the trees with an eerie silence, as if the forest itself were complicit in his task.

He passed a stump, and embedded in the wood was a long machete, apparently left behind by some forgetful camper. Its brand-new blade gleamed in the starlight, the edge razor-sharp.

What is a knight without his sword? his mother's voice whispered.

Jason pulled out the machete and turned it over in his hand. The light of the full moon flashed on the metal.

A few moments later, laughter turned to screams.

#

Headquarters for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense

Fairfield, Connecticut

Spring 1994

"That movie is terrible."

"It's a classic."

"Hellboy, no critic would ever refer to Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter as a 'classic.'"

"Pffft. Critics," said Hellboy. "Critics said Ishtar was terrible, and that movie is hilarious."

Abe Sapien sighed. "I guess we don't have a common frame of reference for quality cinema, so this argument is over."

"Fine by me. I'm gonna watch Captain Kronos." Hellboy began perusing the racks of videocassettes in the rec room.

The two were enjoying some much-needed downtime at the headquarters of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. The B.P.R.D. had been formed after World War II to combat supernatural threats against the United States and the world at large. Founded by British professor Trevor Bruttenholm (pronounced "Broom"),, the B.P.R.D. was now a fully-funded federal agency.

Hellboy and Abe were rather unique members of the Bureau. Hellboy was a demon. He had appeared in a ball of flame in England in 1944, the result of an occult ritual by Nazis gone awry. He had been rescued and raised by Bruttenholm, who had also given him his name (though Hellboy had long suspected the American G.I.s who had accompanied Bruttenholm may have come up with the nickname).

Hellboy's existence had been public knowledge since 1952 when, after a successful mission to destroy resurgent Nazi forces in Brazil, he'd been granted honorary human status by the United Nations. Of course, that didn't mean Hellboy didn't draw plenty of stares when he was out in the field.

Even as an infant, Hellboy bore his defining feature: a gigantic right forearm and hand that appeared to be made from blood-red stone. The hand was impenetrable to any weapon known to man and struck with the force of a sledgehammer.

Hellboy also had horns on his forehead, though he filed them down to stumps. He found doing so made it a bit easier to fit in among humans (and to pass through low doors).

Abe's origin was just as mysterious. He had been discovered by accident in an abandoned room in Washington, D.C. in 1978, floating in a century-old water tank. A piece of paper tacked to the side bore the inscription "Icytho Sapien, April 14, 1965" - the day Lincoln was shot. When they finally managed to wake him, they found he couldn't remember anything about himself, not even his name. And so they had christened him "Abraham" Sapien.

Where Hellboy was big and bulky, usually wearing a beige trenchcoat that made him appear even larger, Abe was lithe and slender. His skin was a blue-green color and covered with smooth scales. Black stripes lined his head. He was hairless, and small fins sprouted from his calves, forearms, and neck. His facial features were mostly human, though his lips had fewer muscles than a human's; he had learned to speak with difficulty, and his smile, he'd been told, was downright creepy.

He ran a stony finger along the videocassettes. "We've got to put these in some kind of order," he muttered. "Can't we get an intern to do that or something?"

"We don't have interns. You can't trust a college kid to keep their mouth shut, even if they sign a non-disclosure agreement."

Hellboy grunted.

"Besides," said Abe, "I think Manning would want to make better use of an intern than organizing your collection of movies taped off HBO."

"Screw Manning," Hellboy said.

Abe rolled his eyes. "Come on. You've been on Manning's case for months now."

"He's a pain in the ass."

"He's not," said Abe. "Honestly, I think you're bothered by this whole thing with the Professor and you're taking it out on Tom."

Hellboy paused in his search. More than a year earlier, Professor Bruttenholm had joined the Cavendish expedition. The Cavendish brothers were famous, fabulously wealthy explorers. Having climbed Everest, circumnavigated the globe in a sailboat, explored the darkest jungles of Africa and South America, and hitched a ride into space on a Russian orbiter, the brothers had started looking for more esoteric challenges. After a long and unsuccessful search for Atlantis, they announced a new expedition to the Arctic Circle to investigate "rumors of an ancient civilization."

Bruttenholm had volunteered to join them. Hellboy had argued against it, pointing out that the professor was in his seventies, but in the end Bruttenholm had won.

The last report from the expedition had been months ago. Hellboy had been frantic at first and tried to mount a rescue operation. Dr. Tom Manning, assistant director of the B.P.R.D., had argued that a loss of communication had been expected, pointing out to Hellboy that he himself had once vanished in Marrakesh and reappeared eight weeks later in a block of ice in Alaska.

Hellboy had been forced to give it up. But ever since, he'd been bad-mouthing Manning to anyone willing to put up with it. That population consisted of exactly one person: Abe. And even he was reaching his limit.

"Forget it," Hellboy said, returning to his search.

"Hellboy..."

Hellboy's finger stopped on cassette. "Here we go," he said, pulling it out. "Haven't watched this in...well, months at least."

Abe sighed again and slumped in his recliner. He'd hoped to watch Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, but it appeared that Hellboy was, once again, not in the mood for a Merchant-Ivory film. In fact, he was never in the mood for a Merchant-Ivory film. Their one viewing of A Room with a View had been due to Hellboy's having been completely stone-drunk.

Just as Abe was preparing himself for ninety minutes of Horst Janson and large-bosomed British actresses, the intercom buzzed. He leaped out of his chair to answer it. "Abe here."

"It's Manning. Is Hellboy with you?"

Hellboy was making frantic "no" gestures. "Yes he is," Abe said, and Hellboy slammed his fist on the media center (fortunately for the faux wood, it was his normal-sized left fist).

"Good," said Manning. "I want both of you in the briefing room, pronto. Something's come up."

"On our way." Abe clicked off the intercom and smiled at Hellboy. "Duty calls. I'm afraid we'll have to catch up on the good Captain's adventures some other time."

"Damn it," Hellboy muttered.

#

Hellboy followed Abe into the conference room, trying not to glare at Manning. The assistant director was dressed in a sharp black suit. He stood at the front of the room, flipping through pages on a clipboard. Next to him stood a younger man Hellboy didn't recognize.

But he did recognize the blonde woman on the other sofa. "Kate! When did you get here?"

"This morning," she said, smiling as she got up and hugged him. She was petite and he was huge, and he practically enveloped her with his stone hand.

Kate Corrigan was a professor of folklore and mythology at New York University. She'd been serving as a consultant to the B.P.R.D. for years. Hellboy was trying to convince her to join the Bureau permanently, and he thought he was making progress. With the recent absence - Hellboy couldn't bring himself to call it a disappearance, not yet - of Professor Bruttenholm, the B.P.R.D. has been relying even more on Kate's encyclopedic knowledge and research skills. Over the last few years, she'd also become one of Hellboy's best friends.

"I heard about the professor," she whispered to him. "I'm sorry."

"Hey, he's a tough old man," Hellboy said. "I'm sure he's fine. We'll hear from them soon." He sounded about as confident as he felt, which wasn't much.

Kate nodded. "Let's hope so."

"Find anything interesting in Yorkshire?" Kate had spent the last three months in England, researching a new book she was writing on giants in folklore.

"Just a bunch of terrified locals who swear Jack-in-Irons is up and around again," Kate said. "You may need to check it out."

Hellboy sighed. "Great."

"Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats," said Manning. The man next to him looked to be in his late twenties, with short-cropped red hair and glasses.

"Who's the new guy?" Hellboy whispered as they sat down. Kate shrugged. Hellboy looked at Abe, but the agent's attention was focused on Manning.

Manning gestured to the newcomer. "This is Special Agent Harold Green of the FBI. They've been having some trouble again down in Crystal Lake, New Jersey, and they've come to pick our brains."

"Oh, not this again," Hellboy groaned..

"What was that, Hellboy?" said Manning, clearly annoyed.

"Busted," Kate whispered in a sing-song voice. Hellboy glared at her.

"Look, this Crystal Lake thing has come up over and over again," Hellboy said. "We tried to check it out last time and the FBI told us to pound sand. Now they want our help? Besides, I thought they figured this guy was a serial killer, or a bunch of copycat killers cashing in on that stupid legend. Must be something in the water down there."

Green cleared his throat. "Actually, Mr. Hellboy, you may be right. About the water, that is."

"What do you mean?" asked Abe. He sounded intrigued. Hellboy rolled his eyes and sat back on the couch, throwing his stone arm over the side.

Green looked at Manning, who gave him a go-ahead nod. "Okay, here's what we know. In 1957, a nine-year-old boy named Jason Voorhees drowned in Crystal Lake. His mother, Pamela, was a counselor at Camp Crystal Lake, a summer camp for kids and teens. She quit after that, and the following year she murdered two camp counselors, though we didn't know she was the killer for another twenty years. The camp closed after the murders, but re-opened in June 1979. Then Pamela went on another murder spree until she was killed by one of the counselors, Alice Hardy."

"Decapitated," Hellboy whispered to Kate, making a slashing motion across his throat.

"All of this is public record," Green went on. "But then it starts to get weird. In August 1979, Alice Hardy vanished from her home. There was a lot of blood, but no body was ever found. Then nothing until July 1984, when over the course of six days almost three dozen people are murdered at Camp Crystal Lake. Most of our information about the killer came from a young woman named Ginny Field, who claimed it was Jason Voorhees. Somehow, she said, he'd survived his drowning and was living as a hermit in the woods. We did find the old shack, but there was no sign of Jason.

"There was a spree of copycat killings in 1987 – that guy was killed. Then in May 1988 there's another series of murders." He paused here, looking over his notes, but his hands seem to be trembling a bit. He appeared to notice it and quickly put his hands behind his back.

"Witnesses say the killer is a huge man in a hockey mask," Green continued. "The same witnesses claimed he drowned in the lake – again, I guess – but we never found a body. Then nothing until now. Six new murders, and no leads."

"So why call us?" said Hellboy. "Couldn't it be another copycat killer?"

"Maybe," Green admitted. "I'll be honest with you: coming here was my idea. My bosses didn't want to do it. But we need to come at this thing from every angle, to stop this thing once and for all."

"How were the victims murdered?" Kate asked.

"It varies. He's pretty creative that way. But it's always brutal," said Green. "There's no real M.O., though he seems to like machetes."

Kate made a face. "Ah."

Manning said, "The Bureau will help you in any way we can." He turned to the agents. "Any ideas, folks?"

"I could check out the lake," Abe offered.

"Good idea," said Hellboy. "Go jump in a lake."

Ignoring Hellboy, Kate said, "Do they have a library? I could check out the town's history. Maybe we'll find something there."

Green smiled. "Thank you. That would be great. Assuming the Bureau can spare you?"

"Certainly," said Manning. "There are no significant cases right now. We could even send Hellboy..."

"Nope," said Hellboy. "No thanks. I still think is the wrong tree to bark up, and I've got better things to do with my time."

Green looked crestfallen. Manning glared at Hellboy. He could order Hellboy to go, and they both knew it. But instead, Manning said, "Well, you've got Mr. Sapien and Professor Corrigan. And if you need any other support, let me know."

The meeting broke up. Abe saw Hellboy head for the door and ran to catch up with him.

"I guess you really took my advice to lay off Manning to heart."

Hellboy kept walking. "The FBI has always treated us like crap and now Manning's loaning us out to them?"

"Us?" said Abe. "I volunteered. So did Kate. You're hiding out here."

"Fine," said Hellboy. "If you want to go traipsing around some summer camp and get chased by a nutjob with an axe, be my guest. I'm going to watch Horst Janson fight vampires."

Abe stopped as his friend stalked on. "You do remember you've fought actual vampires, right?" he called after him. Hellboy waved a hand dismissively.

With a sigh, Abe headed to his room.

#

Crystal Lake was in northern New Jersey, about a two-hour drive from B.P.R.D. headquarters. Green packed Abe and Kate, along with two other FBI agents, into a big black van. "FBI standard issue," the agent had joked.

As they got underway, Abe turned in his seat to face Kate. "So, do we count this as your first field mission?"

Kate looked up from the map she'd been studying and smiled. "You know, you look ridiculous."

"I know." He'd donned his usual disguise before they left – a complicated affair that included a black trenchcoat, gloves, a hat, glasses and a fake mustache and beard. They referred to this persona as "Dr. Abraham Sapien." Unlike Hellboy, Abe had never really been officially "outed" to the public, and while his existence wasn't technically classified, he preferred to go incognito when he could. It just made life easier.

"As for a field mission," said Kate, "hardly. For one thing, I'm not an agent, remember?"

"Not yet," Abe said.

"Not at all. And second, you're the one going into the field. I'm going to be safe and sound in the town library."

"If you say so," said Abe. He gestured toward the map. "What's that?"

"Just a map of the lake and the surrounding area," said Kate. "It's got the locations of all the murders marked on it." She turned it to show Abe, and he saw a mass of red dots in one area near the edge of the lake.

"My, he does keep busy," Abe said, with little humor.

"Yeah," said Kate. "Grim." She put the map back in the file folder she'd been given by Green and flipped through some of the other pages, stopping on an artist's sketch. She held it up for Abe. It depicted a man in ragged clothing wearing a hockey mask and holding an axe.

"That's our killer?" said Abe. "Looks like demented Wayne Gretzky."

Kate nodded. "Not exactly a traditional monster, is he? There's not much in here to suggest he's anything other than your average serial killer, except for the fact the he keeps coming back from the dead."

"Assuming it's the same guy," said Abe.

"Right. Hey, Hellboy said you guys tried to check this out before and the FBI wouldn't let you. When was that?"

"After the murders in '88," said Abe. "I pulled the file before we left. There was some unusually isolated storm activity on the night of the murders and our research team thought there was enough weirdness to check it out. I didn't go, I think I was in Canada at the time. But Hellboy went down there. I guess the FBI gave him a hard time. His notes in the report are…colorful."

"Ah," said Kate. "So that's why he was so grumpy at the briefing."

"No, he was already in a bad mood. You know, the professor and all."

Kate's face fell. "Right."

Abe reached over and touched her shoulder. "I'm worried about him too. But Trevor has fought things far worse than any of us have. Except maybe Hellboy."

"I hope you're right," said Kate. "Speaking of, I wish he'd come along."

"Me too," Abe admitted.

Kate turned her attention back to the file folder. Getting the hint, Abe turned around and unzipped his backpack, rummaging around until he found what he was looking for – the Gameboy he'd stolen from Hellboy's room.

As they sped toward Crystal Lake and a possible encounter with a mass murderer, Abe tried to beat Hellboy's high score in Tetris.

#

Kate gave a little wave as Abe slid the van's door shut. She turned and faced what was - supposedly - the Crystal Lake Public Library.

It was a two-story house that looked like it had been built sometime in the late Dark Ages. There was the vaguest hint of paint clinging to the shingles, and if Kate had to guess, she would have said it was once red. The wooden beams of the porch were worm-eaten. A faded sign hung near a screen door with the words "Public Library" printed on it.

The steps creaked beneath her feet. She hopped up and reached for the door, which, like the steps, announced her presence more loudly than any doorbell could have.

To her surprise, the inside of the house was much nicer than the outside. What had once been a large colonial living room (and probably a kitchen and bedroom, the walls having been knocked out long ago) had been converted into a small but cozy library. Shelves lined almost every visible square inch of wall space, and each shelf was crammed to bursting with dusty hardcover volumes.

"Can I help you, miss?"

Kate turned and saw a woman at a small desk, peering at her over a pair of spectacles - honest-to-God spectacles, attached to a chain around her neck. The woman's hair was gray and wiry, and her expression, while not unfriendly, was all business. Her hands hovered over the keys of an electric typewriter, as if she might begin typing again at any moment.

"Hello," she said. "My name's Kate Corrigan. I'm with the...I'm a professor from NYU. I'm doing some research on regional folklore and I'd like to have a look at some of your town histories."

"Oh?" said the woman, raising an eyebrow. "So do you want folklore or history? Because they're two different things, wouldn't you say?"

Kate smiled. "Yes and no. I guess I'd just like to see anything relating to local town history, Miss-?"

The woman's expression softened. "You can call me Leah. I'm the librarian, although, as you can see-" she gestured around her "-this isn't much of a library."

Kate smiled again. "I like it," she said. "And you wouldn't believe some of the books I've come across in small libraries like this."

"I might," Leah said mysteriously. "But let's get you started." She pushed the typewriter aside and clasped her hands on the desk. "First things first. Do you have two dollars?"

Kate raised an eyebrow. "For what?"

"For your library card. We've got bills to pay, Professor."

Kate grinned and fished her wallet out of her jacket. "You librarians are a greedy lot," she said. "And call me Kate."

#

Green parked the van near the camp's visitor center. Abe got out after Green and the other two agents, whom Green had introduced as Vinnie Camiso and Sara Kim.

Green and Kim were dressed for the chilly early-spring weather – jeans and boots, with Green wearing a blue button-down shirt and Kim a plaid flannel top. Camiso, rather incongruously, was wearing a suit, looking every inch the G-man.

Green went to get their equipment from the back of the van.

"Do we need to, uh, check in?" Abe asked the other two agents, pointing to the visitor center.

Camiso chuckled. "No one to check in with," he said. "No one will come within a mile of this place these days, not even the rangers. Most of the recent victims have been bennies."

"Bennies?"

"Tourists," Camiso said. "Some people say the word comes from Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York. Other say it's from Benjamin Franklin - that is, the one-hundred dollar bill, since that's the kind of money tourists would throw around."

"Vinnie's just trying to sound like a local," said Kim. "But a real local would know that 'bennies' only refers to tourists visiting the Jersey Shore. Vinnie's from Arizona."

Camiso grinned. "You know why New Yorkers are so depressed, Kim? Because the light at the end of their tunnel is New Jersey."

"You need some new material," Kim said. "I'm from Toms River," she said to Abe.

Abe stared at her.

"That's in New Jersey."

"Oh," Abe said.

"All right, let's head down to the lake," said Green as he came around the van with a large duffel bag. "Do you need us to carry anything, Mr. Sapien?"

"Just Abe, please. Mr. Sapien is my father." He chuckled at his own joke - he didn't know if he'd even had a father - but the agents just looked confused. "Uh, no, I didn't bring anything with me." Unlike Hellboy, who carried a belt full of charms, gadgets, and a giant pistol, Abe tended to travel light.

Green started down the path to the shore. Abe could see the path well enough in the waning light, but the brush was closing in on both sides – a sign of the rangers' absence.

Camiso hung back and walked next to Abe.

"Aren't you a bit dressed up for this?" Abe said, nodding at his suit.

"Oh, well, I guess so," Camiso said. "I don't know, I feel weird being on duty and not wearing a suit. Comes from my dad. I don't think he's worked a day in his life without a suit on." After a pause, he said, "So...what's it like working for the B.P.R.D.?"

It was a question Abe had heard many times. It always struck him as funny. What else was he going to do? Flip burgers? Manage a Bradlees? Being an amphibious, blue-skinned man limited his career prospects.

"It's interesting," said Abe, regretting how passive-aggressive it sounded.

"I bet," said Camiso. "It's weird to think there was a time people thought the supernatural didn't exist. I mean, before Hellboy, you know?"

"Some people still don't think it exists," said Abe. "They think Hellboy's a government hoax, just a guy in a suit. And some people think what we call the 'supernatural' is just science we don't understand yet."

After another few minutes of trudging through the forest, their feet crunching on pine needles, Abe asked, "Have you ever read Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke?"

Camiso shook his head.

"It's a science fiction novel. In the book, an alien race conquers Earth, but it's a friendly regime - they bring an end to war and usher in a worldwide utopia. But the aliens don't reveal what they look like for decades. When they do, it turns out they look exactly like the classic conception of the Devil – horns, wings, cloven feet, the whole thing. The novel claims humanity had a kind of collective precognition – the idea of the Devil was really humans' foreknowledge of the coming of these aliens. In the end, the last generation of humans evolves into a higher state of being and destroy the Earth in the process. So while the aliens aren't evil, they do bring about the end of world – from a certain point of view."

Camiso was silent for a moment, then said, "So you think Hellboy's going to bring about the end of world?"

Abe frowned. "What? No. Not at all."

"Oh. Sorry," said Camiso, embarrassed.

"It's fine," Abe said reflexively, thinking, it's an entirely fair question. No one knew anything about Hellboy's origin, or what his stone hand was, or whether he had some greater cosmic role to play in future events. Abe knew it was something his friend tried not to think about. But it was hard to ignore, particularly when so many religious groups were constantly calling for Hellboy's death. They believed he was an emissary of the devil, if not Satan himself. Hellboy had recently told Abe about a particularly ugly incident in Missouri in 1959, when he'd been lynched by a group of fundamentalists (who had rather hypocritically recruited some supernatural assistance).

The two men were silent for a few minutes. Finally Camiso said, "By the way, I don't know if Harry told you, but he's got a personal stake in this case."

"Oh?" said Abe. He didn't like to gossip, but if there was anything that might affect Green's work on the case, it would be good to know.

"Yeah, his cousin Paula was killed by Jason - or whoever the killer is. She was a camp counselor during the '88 murders. They found her..." Camiso hesitated. "Well, there wasn't much left to find."

"Yes. I read the case file." Almost every inch of Paula's cabin had been covered in blood. That explained Green's hesitation when discussing that particular set of murders during the briefing.

"Harry was still at Quantico then," Camiso continued. "When the latest killings started up, he asked to be put on the case."

"Isn't that a bad idea?" said Abe. "Putting someone with an emotional involvement on a case like this?"

"Yeah, usually," said Camiso. "But no one else wanted to touch it. Plus, Harry was pushing for the B.P.R.D.'s involvement. Our bosses probably figured it was time to bring you in, but you must know how a lot of the Feds feel about you guys..."

"Yeah."

"So since Harry was willing to lose face in talking to you guys, they gave him the case. Anyway, it's just something I thought you should know."

Up ahead, Abe could see a break in the trees. They were nearing the shore. "Thanks," he said. "And what about you? How do you feel about the B.P.R.D.?"

Camiso grinned. "Hell, I want to join you guys. This is the most interesting case I've ever had. It's like the X-Files – you've seen that show, right?" Abe shook his head. "It just started last month. It's about two B.P.R.D. agents. Hellboy's in it too. They hired an actor to play him and everything."

"Really?" Abe couldn't believe he'd missed that. "Who plays him?"

"I can't remember his name...he played the bad guy in that Stallone movie Cobra. Anyway, it took me five years to get put on a multiple homicide case. Most of the time I'm either pushing a pencil or sitting in a basement with a headset, listening to a bunch of wanna-be mobsters bitch about their golf handicap."

Abe smiled. The young agent's enthusiasm was infectious. "Well, after you've got a bit more experience, apply for the Bureau. Maybe I'll recommend you."

"Really?" said Camiso, genuinely surprised. "That'd be awesome."

They came out of the forest onto the shore. The beach was a narrow strip of sand; there was barely more than ten feet from the forest to the water's edge.

Green set the duffel bag down in the sand. Kim, Abe and Camiso got to work setting up the four plastic folding chairs they'd brought with them.

Green unzipped the duffel bag and took out two halogen lanterns, which he lit and handed to Kim and Camiso. Then he began pulling other objects from the duffel. One of these was a long, slender tube. He unscrewed the lid and tilted it; a harpoon gun slid out into his hand.

"Brought this, just in case," said Green. "Want it?"

"Not right now," said Abe. He was stripping off his disguise, carefully folding the jacket and putting it down on the sand, then placing the fake beard, glasses and hat on top of it. "Maybe later, if it turns out we need to do some hunting. But I don't imagine our killer spends much time underwater."

Green shrugged. "Who knows what he does?" He hefted the harpoon gun. "You sure you don't want this?"

Abe shook his head as he stretched his muscles. He saw Camiso and Kim watching him, staring at his blue-green scales and the fins along his arms and legs. After another minute of stretching, he began to wade into the water.

"Be careful," Green called after him.

When the water became waist-deep, Abe dived into the lake, vanishing beneath the surface with barely a ripple.

He immediately opened his gills, relieved to be able to use his more natural breathing organs for a while. While he could breathe air through his lungs, they weren't as efficient, so he had less energy on land than in the water.

He'd been looking forward to a swim, but the water wasn't nearly as clean as he'd hoped. And yet, judging from the way it tasted, it wasn't that polluted. There was a different kind of uncleanliness here.

Abe watched as an ugly brown fish swam past him, its tail wriggling frantically to build momentum. Leaves and other matter lay decaying on the bottom, and Abe thought he saw some long gray objects that could have been bones.

He stopped swimming. Something felt...wrong. Hovering halfway between the surface and the bottom, Abe peered into the murk. The lake almost had a presence, like so many haunted places he had visited. And he had the vague feeling it didn't want him here.

He looked down. Had something just moved near the bottom...?

A few powerful strokes brought him closer. He let himself float forward, his eyes wide, their nictitating membranes having clicked into place to protect them from impurities in the water.

Something long and slender moved along the bottom. Abe started, thinking he was seeing some enormous snake. Then his eyes focused and he realized what he was looking at.

He reached down and touched the length of heavy chain. It was swaying very slightly with the lake currents. Carefully he followed the chain deeper into the lake until he came to a large boulder, which the chain had been wrapped around.

Puzzled, Abe inspected the area around the boulder. As he ran his hand over the muddy bottom, he felt a sting and yanked back his hand.

A thread of blood seeped from his finger. He reached down and carefully patted the sand with his webbed hands until he found what felt like a wooden handle. He grabbed it and the object came out of the dirt.

It was a machete.

#

At the library, Leah had dug up nearly a dozen books on the history of Crystal Lake. Most of them were simple affairs, meant for display on family shelves.

There was precious little from the last twenty years. Leah explained the murders had cast a pall over the town, and with each fresh wave of killings the town tried to forget the past and start anew. They'd even tried renaming the town "Forest Green" in the mid-1980s, but after the '88 murders they'd gone back to Crystal Lake. Now, Leah said, there was talk of capitalizing on the Jason Voorhees legend and using it to draw in tourists.

"I don't like the idea myself," Leah told Kate. "It's not like we're talking about the Jack the Ripper murders a century ago. A lot of the victims' families still live here in Crystal Lake. And people are still dying! Sure, the camping business has dried up because of it all, and we've got to find a new way to make money, but celebrating Jason Voorhees or his awful mother isn't the way to do it."

The most intriguing book Kate had come across was a collection of stories about Crystal Lake compiled by Fred Christy, who, according to Leah, was an uncle of the man who had tried to re-open Camp Crystal Lake in 1980 (and had been murdered by Pamela Voorhees). Christy had gone to many of the town's older residents in the 1960s and written down whatever stories they knew. He'd also dug through old letters, diaries, and logbooks dating back to the 1600s.

Kate put the other books aside and started in on Christy's book. At first, the stories were standard colonial era fare: troubled winters, failed crops, fighting with Indians over the land, and issues with the Dutch government, who founded the original colony. But what Kate found most interesting was Christy's discovery that there was no mention of a "Crystal Lake" until the 1640s. Before that, the town had been called Bladell, and there was no reference to a lake at all.

So what happened? Kate wondered. Where did the lake come from? She had a hunch that whatever the answer was, it was important.

The other interesting thing in Christy's book was the particularly bloody history of Crystal Lake. There had been a battle in Bladell during the Pequot War in 1637, when a hundred settlers and their Mohegan allies had killed nearly three hundred Pequots. After that, there were several long stretches of relative peace punctuated by abrupt outbreaks of violence.

In 1683, a settler named Jared Hawkins had killed his wife, children, mother-in-law, and brother, then gone into the town square with the bloody axe and attacked anyone he saw until he was shot by the town constable. For years afterward, whenever someone died under mysterious circumstances, it was said that Jared Hawkins had done the deed, his murderous spirit haunting the town which by then had been renamed Crystal Lake.

During the Revolutionary War, a band of Hessian mercenaries took over the town inn. Two townspeople were killed and the innkeeper's daughter was raped. That night the townspeople attacked the Hessians as they slept, hacking them to pieces.

Even Christy, writing more than a decade before Pamela Voorhees's killing spree, noticed the odd history of violence in Crystal Lake.

Around six o'clock, Kate set Christy's book aside and began skimming the other books, looking for records between the founding of the town in 1622 and the appearance of the name "Crystal Lake" in the 1840s. Whatever was responsible for these killings, she suspected, had its origins in Crystal Lake's own history.

She was beginning to suspect Green might be right - there might be some sort of murderous spirit living in the town, possessing people and causing them to go berserk. But once those people were dead, they were dead. Despite the rumors, Jared Hawkins was never actually seen again after he was shot.

If the witness reports were to be believed, Jason Voorhees had returned from the dead time and again. Why him? And more importantly, how?

#

Hellboy sighed as the credits rolled on Gunga Din. He'd spent six hours in front of the TV. He felt like his eyeballs were going to ooze out of his head. He grabbed the remote and pressed rewind.

What now? he wondered. He felt vaguely guilty for his behavior at the briefing - and for letting Abe and Kate head off to Jersey, possibly chasing a serial killer, while he sat around the rec room eating popcorn and watching old movies.

He thought about asking Manning if he could head down to Jersey. But that would mean swallowing his pride in front of the man.

Screw Manning, he thought – he could just head to Crystal Lake on his own.

Then he remembered what it had been like when he'd gone down to Crystal Lake in May '88. The FBI agents investigating the case had been arrogant and some had been flat-out racist toward Hellboy. Sure, none of them would say anything to his face - he was seven feet tall, after all - but they'd stonewalled any attempt he'd made at an investigation.

The tape squealed as it finished rewinding. Hellboy got up, ejected the tape, and slid it back into its spot in the media center. Then he noticed the brand-new, unopened copy of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Liz had given him last Christmas.

Chasing down false leads in a dirty old campground - or Harrison Ford killing Nazis?

#

Abe sat in a folding chair on the shore, shivering in his coat. The autumn air was freezing. He'd even put the fake beard back on in an effort to keep his face warm.

Camiso and Kim had gone to the visitor center to warm up. Green was sitting in another chair nearby, turning the rusty machete over in his hands.

"It's got to be his, right?" said Green.

Abe shrugged. "I couldn't tell you. It's not the one he's been using lately. That one's been in the lake for a while."

"Not too long," said Green, scratching at the rust near the hilt. "It's got 'stainless steel' printed on it."

"Which dates it to sometime in the last hundred years," Abe said.

"Oh. I guess you're right." Green swung the machete through the air, making cutting motions. Abruptly he dropped it.

"What's wrong?" said Abe.

"Nothing," said Green. He was trembling. "It's just..."

"Your cousin?" Abe said.

Green looked up sharply. "How did you know that?"

"Camiso told me."

"Oh," Green said. "Yeah. I was just thinking...that maybe that was what he used to kill her. Paula, I mean."

Abe reached over and put a hand on the man's shoulder. "It's okay," he said. There were never any good words for this sort of thing.

Green shrugged off his hand. "I'm fine." He took out a pack of cigarettes and a silver lighter from his jacket. A moment later his cigarette was a tiny orange speck floating in the twilight.

Abe sniffed the air. "Those are Zincos, aren't they?"

"Yeah." Green looked surprised. "You smoke?"

"No. But that's Hellboy's brand."

Green pulled out the cigarette and looked at it. "Huh. I keep meaning to quit. I know these things give you cancer but, eh."

They heard a rustling behind them. Green practically leaped out of his chair, his hand flying to the holster beneath his coat. Kim emerged from the forest carrying a flashlight.

"God, you scared the piss out of me," Green said, dropping back into the chair. "Sorry, agent. That was sloppy on my part."

"No problem, boss," said Kim.

"Where's Camiso?"

"He took the van into town to check on Professor Corrigan. And to get some snacks."

Green sat back down. "That's a good idea. But you should have gone with him. I told you, no one goes anywhere alone while we're down here." He smacked his arm. "Should have told him to get some bug spray too."

"I thought we brought some?" Kim said. She took the chair next to Abe. He was trying to think of a way to start a conversation with her when she took out a paperback out of her bag and started to read. Taking the hint, Abe turned away.

For a few minutes the only sounds were the gentle lapping of the waves, the breeze in the trees and the chorus of insects.

"So what's the plan here?" Abe said finally. "Are we just going to wait by the shore and hope he shows up?"

"I guess I never really figured that part out," Green said, looking sheepish. "I thought the B.P.R.D. might have some ideas on how to find him. Or lure him out."

"Well, according to the file, it seems like he's particularly drawn to couples having sex."

Green leaned over to look past Abe. Without looking up from her book Kim said, "You even think about it and I'll shoot you."

Green chuckled. Then Abe leaned over to Green and whispered, "I didn't say it had to be her."

Green stared at him, inspecting his face. "You know, it's kind of hard to tell when you're joking, Abe."

Abe leaned back in his chair, then slowly turned his head toward the lake. For a moment he was quiet. Then he began to laugh. After an awkward pause, Green joined in.

Annoyed, Kim put down her book. "What's so funny?"

#

The thing called Jason Voorhees watched the strangers from the forest. They weren't young, foolish prey, he knew that. They were the tougher kind, who carried weapons and could fight back.

And somehow, in the depths of his decayed mind, Jason was dimly aware that one of them wasn't...human, not like the others. And not like Jason, either, though he was no longer strictly what one could call human.

The slaying had been good so far. That first night he had killed three people, catching them all unawares, two in the throes of lovemaking. That was the best sort of kill - to turn their ecstasy to terror, to end their lives in that moment of emotional and physical triumph.

And just this night, he had come across a middle-aged man dragging a screaming little girl into an RV parked near the campground. Jason had strangled the man with a steel chain. The girl had fled and he had not pursued her. Children offered little to savor, their lives so small.

But now, as he watched the strangers on the beach, he felt a strange unease. Something warned him to be more careful with these victims, particularly the green man with fins like a fish.

He would have to kill them one at a time, saving the fish-man for last. As the three on the beach laughed with one another, Jason faded back into the forest.

#

The little bell rang as Camiso entered the library. The librarian peered at him over her spectacles.

"Hi," he said, grinning. The woman didn't reply. "I'm, uh, my name is Agent Camiso..."

"Your name is Agent?"

"What? No, my name is Vinnie." He scratched his head. "I'm looking for a woman named Kate Corrigan, is she…?

"Back here," Kate called from a far corner of the library. The librarian watched the agent as he made his way to the back.

He found Kate hunched over a small table, a pile of old books spread around her, lit by a yellow desk lamp with a shade that had gone out of style at least three decades earlier. "Charming little place," Camiso said. "With a staff to match."

"Oh, don't mind her," Kate said. "No one likes men in black."

"Black is slimming," Camiso said, making a show of dusting the shoulder of his suit. "I just wanted to check in, see you if needed anything. Any luck with the books?"

"Actually, yeah," Kate said. "I think I've struck gold - academically speaking."

She explained how she'd moved on from the official published histories, typeset and bound, to the library's small collection of journals. Some of them had spent decades, even centuries as family heirlooms before being bequeathed to the library. The writing style was archaic and the handwriting often illegible, but that was something Kate had had a lot of experience with.

"So I was reading this journal by the wife of a wealthy farmer in the 1630s," Kate said, showing Camiso an old moth-eaten volume. "I found there were two pages that had been stuck together somehow. So Leah and I got them apart, and found this." She pointed to a particular passage, and Camiso read:

I write this so that the Black Mark on the Soul of Bladell might have some record, though the Men of the Town wish it to be forgotten forever. In May in the Year of Our Lord Sixteen Hundred and Thirty-Seven, the Men of Bladell did invite the Indians, with whom they had made war, to a great Feast to make peace. And after the Indians had eaten, the Men did attack them with rifles and swords and Slaughtered them without Mercy.

As he lay dying, the Chief of the Indians did Curse our Town and our Founder, Zebulon Vourheis, saying that here the White Man would Murder his Brethren forever.

The Men of the Town buried the bodies of the Indians in a field. That night there was a great Earthquake, and the field collapsed and created a great Pit. And then it rained for Twenty Days, and the pit became a Lake. And tho the Men of Bladell decreed that dark day of Murder never be spoken of, the Lake is forever a reminder of our betrayal of the Indians.

"Vourheis?" Camiso said. "As in Jason Voorhees?"

"Has to be, right?" said Kate.

"But – an old Indian curse?" said Camiso. "I mean, how does that work? This was the 1600s…the whole thing with Pamela Voorhees only started twenty years ago."

"Well," said Kate, "I've found lots of violent incidents going back centuries. It's not a stretch to think the Voorhees family was somehow involved in each case, and it just wasn't recorded."

"So what does it mean, then?" said Camiso. "If it's just a curse, what is Jason? A cursed person? Is this Indian possessing him?"

"I don't know," Kate admitted. "There are a lot of Native American myths that deal with cursed souls. And it's not like this is an exact science."

"Okay. So what do we do?"

"They've got a phone here. I'm going to call the Bureau and ask them to contact one of our Native American specialists. In the meantime, I'll keep researching…maybe I'll find something we can use."

"All right, sounds good," said Camiso. "I'll go fill in everyone else. Who knows…maybe we'll be able to wrap this up tonight."

#

Hours later, Abe and the agents still hadn't seen or heard any sign of the killer. They had gorged themselves on the snacks brought by Camiso and the agents were now taking turns dozing and keeping watch.

Abe didn't sleep. Instead, he listened to the sounds of the lake and the forest, enjoying the opportunity to experience nature. He spent too much of his time cooped up in the Bureau's basement, hiding from humanity. Hellboy seemed to enjoy moving among humans, but Abe still felt self-conscious.

At one point he'd heard a helicopter off in the distance. Otherwise, it had been very quiet. Jason, it seemed, was taking the night off.

Kim, who was on watch, smacked her leg. "We need that damned bug spray. Hey, Vinnie," she said, shaking Camiso awake. "Didn't we bring bug spray?"

"Huh?" he said, struggling to wake up. "Bug spray? Yeah. In the van."

"Can you go get it?" she said.

"Why me?"

"Because you parked the van and know where it is."

"You're the one who wants it. Just take a flashlight."

Without opening his eyes, Green said, "Camiso, go get the bug spray."

"Fine," Camiso growled. He got up out of his chair and headed up the path.

A minute later, Abe said, "Aren't you supposed to go in pairs?"

"Oh…shit," Green murmured, opening his eyes. "Kim, go find Camiso. Now. We'll keep watch."

Muttering beneath her breath, Kim got out of her chair. It took her a moment to find the path, but eventually she began stalking away.

Green sighed. "Newbies always get so grumpy on stakeouts."

#

Camiso hummed to himself as he made his way up the path. The light from his flashlight bounced along with his steps. Only a few beams of moonlight filtered through the thick cover of pines trees above.

Camiso knew this was the most dangerous time on a stakeout, when you were tired and your guard was down. Jason Voorhees could be anywhere. The thought gave him a little jolt of adrenaline and he became more alert.

The van was just where he'd left it, near the visitor center. He stuck his flashlight in his mouth, unlocked the van door and slid it open.

Something hit his back. He gasped, more from surprise than pain. He tried to turn to see what had hit him, but found he was unable to move and tumbled to the ground.

The blade of a machete stuck out from his back. It had severed his spine. Camiso barely had time to feel the first tingle of agony before the blade was yanked out.

He screamed. Nothing came out but a wet gurgling sound. Blood poured from his mouth as the machete came down again.

#

The kill had been swift and effective, but so unsatisfying. Jason turned the machete, looking at the blood that dripped from the blade. There was no sign of emotion, no pleasure or disgust. Just detached interest.

"Camiso?" a woman's voice called, accompanied by the sound of crunching leaves. "We need to stay in pairs. Where are you?"

Jason carelessly shoved the body beneath the van. Then he maneuvered around behind it, out of sight.

#

"Vinnie?" Kim shined the flashlight in the direction of the visitor center. "Vinnie, are you in there? I swear to God, if this is a gag, I'll kill you." Unnerved, she drew her gun, holding the flashlight beneath it with her other hand.

Another flashlight beam was bouncing up the trail, followed by swift, clumsy footsteps. "What's going on? What's all the yelling?" asked Green.

Sara swung her flashlight toward the open passenger door. "No sign of him."

"Shit," said Green. "Where the hell is he?"

"Wait a second..." said Sara, aiming the beam of her flashlight along the ground. "Oh my God!"

#

Green was still staring at Camiso's severed head, his bile rising in his throat, when the attack came. Kim saw it first and fired three shots, but they didn't even seem to slow Jason down.

She gave a little yelp, there was an awful sound, and then she was on the ground, her torso a few feet from her legs.

"Oh Jesus," Green said. His training kicked in and he unloaded his pistol into Jason, but again, the shots didn't seem to have any effect. The killer launched himself at Green, swinging the machete wildly. Years of martial arts training helped Green duck just in time, the machete whipping over his head.

He grabbed Jason's arm and tried to twist it under him, but the man – or whatever Jason was – was inhumanly strong. Lifting Green like he was a child, Jason threw him at the van. He hit it hard, slamming his skull on the bottom edge of the open door.

When his vision cleared, Green found himself looking at a can of bug spray.

He grabbed the can and thumbed off the plastic top. Jason was looming over him, machete held high.

But then Green had his lighter in his hand, and as Jason began to bring the machete down Green hit the nozzle on the bug spray. A gout of flame enveloped the killer and he stumbled backward in surprise.

Green got to his feet. Jason was batting at his burning clothes in a bizarrely casual manner, like it was more annoying than anything else.

"Abe!" Green shouted. "It's Jason! He's here!" He searched the ground, desperately trying to find his gun. He stumbled over Kim's body and fell.

Her eyes stared at him lifelessly. But her hand was still clenched around her gun. Green reached for it.

#

Abe, who had remained back on the beach at Green's insistence, leaped to his feet at the sound of the gunshots.

"What's happening?" he shouted. "Green! Kim!" There was no answer. He started toward the trees, and when he heard Green shout his name, he broke into a run.

He emerged into the clearing near the visitor's center. His piscine eyes, which were sensitive enough to pierce through the murkiest water, could make out the shape of the van ahead of him. The doors were closed.

For a moment he was motionless, listening for a twig snapping or a footfall on the soft ground of dirt and pine needles. But the rustling of the trees in the wind smothered all other sounds.

"Green?" he said. "Camiso?"

It would have been impossible to describe how he knew the attack was coming - perhaps a shift in the wind, a change in the way the leaves rustled nearby - but Abe lunged to the side just as the machete came whistling over his head.

He could hardly make out his attacker, but he could see the old-style hockey mask floating in the dark above him - and the gleam of the machete as it swung toward his neck.

With a leap that was rather graceful under the circumstances, Abe sprang away from the killer and hit the ground rolling. He got to his feet as quickly as he could, keeping his head down and his limbs close to his body to offer the smallest target possible to his pursuer. Somewhere, far too close behind him, he heard the swish of the machete cutting the air.

He tried to run but tripped and stumbled, landing face-first in the muddy dirt. Even as he fought to get to his feet, he wondered how the ground had gotten so muddy – it wasn't raining. And then he saw Kim – or what was left of her. The dirt was soaked with blood.

He barely had time to register this before Jason was on him again, machete raised high. Abe kicked his legs, desperately trying to backpedal from his sitting position, but his feet slipped in the bloody mud.

The blade came down -

- and shattered.

#

Jason held up the hilt of the machete, looking with curiosity at the jagged remnant of its blade.

"They don't make 'em like they used to, huh?"

The speaker was tall, even taller than Jason, with bright red skin and a chiseled face topped by odd flat projections on his forehead. He wore a beige trenchcoat, and his right hand was huge and appeared to be made from stone. It was the fist that had shattered the machete.

The creature's other hand was pointing a very big gun at Jason.

"Sorry, pal," the creature said. "Looks like you brought a knife to a gun fight."

The blast caught Jason in the shoulder and sent him flying across the clearing until he smacked into a tree.

"So much for you," the creature muttered. "You okay, Abe? Sorry I'm late..." The creature's voice faded as Jason slipped into darkness.

No, said his mother. Not yet, my son.

#

"...and then Kate called the Bureau and asked me to come down with one of our Native American ritualists," Hellboy said. "But turns out our usual guy is up in Maine, so I got here first. Kate's gathering up some books but should be here any minute. I guess they're going to try to do some cleansing spell to ditch the curse or something."

Abe was leaning against a tree, trying to get his heart to stop pounding. "He...he butchered them..."

Hellboy looked down at the remains of the agents as he reloaded his pistol. "Yeah. But now he's down for the..." Hellboy trailed off as he saw the tree across the clearing.

Jason was gone.

"Oh, sh - "

The hilt of the machete sunk into Hellboy's right biceps, the remaining six inches of the blade tearing through muscle down to the bone. Hellboy felt his arm go numb. He swung wildly with his left fist, but Jason was already gone.

"Son-of-a-bitch!" Hellboy roared. Gritting his teeth, he grabbed the hilt of the blade and yanked it out. He tried to flex his arm at the elbow, but between the stabbing and the weight of his right hand, his entire arm might as well have been made from stone.

"Jesus," Abe breathed. "Are you all right?"

"God damn it," Hellboy muttered. "Sadistic little bastard..."

"Where is he?"

Hellboy looked around, but there was no sign of Voorhees. "Dunno. Dammit, dammit." He drew his pistol from its holster, then gestured toward the agents' remains. "Look around, see if you can find one their guns. And stay close."

Abe gingerly went over to the remains and began searching them. Hellboy tried to cover him, pistol in hand, but given the tree cover it was practically pitch-black. His stone hand hung uselessly at his side, blood trickling down the sleeve of his coat.

Abe found a gun in the dirt. Since he had no special fighting abilities like Hellboy's stone hand and toughness or Liz's fire, he practiced his shooting regularly. Fighting the urge to gag, he searched Kim's body and found two more cartridges. A quick reload and he was ready. "What's the plan?"

"Plan?" said Hellboy.

"Yeah. It'd be nice if we had some idea what we were - "

The clearing flashed and there was a deafening report as Hellboy fired his pistol.

"Gotcha, you little - " Hellboy snarled as he ran into the forest.

"Wait! Dammit, Hellboy...!"

"Stay there!" Hellboy shouted back.

Abe stood where he was for a minute. Then, remembering the remains of the agents nearby, he swallowed and headed for the lake.

#

Jason ran through the trees, his unreliable legs stumbling against the branches and rocks. No one could have said what Jason was now, but whatever had happened to him, it had made his body less nimble than it had once been. Usually this posed no problem, as he rarely bothered to run his victims down; but he had never had to flee before, either.

Whatever the creature was, it was more dangerous than anything he had ever faced before. His shoulder stung where the giant gun had torn a hole through it - stung in a way beyond mere physical pain. There was something about the gun, or perhaps the shot, that had hurt him not just physically, but had struck at his unnatural core - the part of him that allowed him to return time and again.

He needed a weapon. His instinctive, murderous mind instantly remembered where it had seen one.

Jason slowed, ducked down and took cover in the brush, and then began to circle back toward the camp.

#

What the hell is this guy? Hellboy wondered as he ran through the underbrush. A zombie? A revenant? Some sick scientist's experiment? Not many of the human-sized creatures Hellboy encountered could take a point-blank round from his pistol and live to tell about it.

He tried to think quickly. Kate had said something about a curse –

He stopped, realizing his crashing run through the forest really wasn't accomplishing anything. The only sound was the rustling of the leaves in the wind.

"Come on out, you psycho," said Hellboy. "What - scared to fight someone who isn't a teenage girl?"

There was no answer but the endless wind. Hellboy cursed and holstered his gun. The thing had led him on a wild goose chase through the unfamiliar forest and away from -

Abe.

#

Though the moonlight was moving in and out of the clouds, the beach alongside Crystal Lake was a lot brighter than the woods.

Abe found his bag and rummaged through it until he came up with his watch. He clicked the backlight switch: 3:30 AM. Dawn was still hours away.

Keeping a close eye on the edge of the forest, Abe considered his options. Hellboy could take care of himself. Kate was still in town, trying to find a way to put Jason Voorhees down for good. And the agents...he tried not to think about their bodies, or rather, what was left of them...a shabby pile of remnants in the dirt...

He realized no one else knew about the agents yet. While it was doubtful the B.P.R.D. or the FBI could send any more help soon enough to be useful, he could at least use the satellite phone to inform them of the agents' deaths.

A flicker of movement caught his eye. Something had moved near the chairs.

Abe stood up, checking behind himself almost instinctively - Jason seemed to be very good at sneaking up on people - before turning back to the chairs and looking at the forest directly behind them. He couldn't see anything now.

Then he remembered: the rusty machete. Hellboy had shattered Jason's other one - he might be looking for a replacement. Abe quickly crossed the beach to the chairs, trying to remember where he'd seen it last. Hadn't Green been holding it? He ran his hands over the sand, searching.

Something sheared through his fingers, and Abe yanked back his hand. He'd cut himself on the machete's blade again.

Damn, he thought, gonna need a tetanus shot at this point. But he breathed a sigh of relief as he found the handle and picked up the weapon.

He thought about Green's sister, and how Green worried this might have been the weapon that murdered her.

That led to another realization. "Wait a minute," he said to himself, "where's—" There was a sound like a pneumatic hiss behind him and he lurched forward.

The tip of a metal spear stuck out between his ribs. Dark blood began to trick down his blue-green skin.

Even as he turned the shape was already flying at him, one scabby fist swinging for his head, and the world went dark.

#

Jason tossed the speargun aside. The weapon required too much time and effort to reload. He picked up the machete, his fingers slipping around the familiar grooves of the handle. Flakes of rust fell from the blade.

Beneath him lay the fish-man, the sand turning dark beneath him as blood ran from his wound. Jason looked down at him, turning the machete over in his hand, seemingly hesitating.

Kill it, said his mother. Kill this blasphemous spawn of Num-Yabisc…

Jason gazed absently at the fish-man's smooth, gleaming neck, imagining it parting almost effortlessly, the blood coming out in thick jets, the meat bursting out like stuffing from a pillow...

KILL IT! NOW!

#

When Hellboy had gotten back to the visitor's center, Abe was nowhere in sight. A new car was there; Kate must have borrowed it from someone. So where was she?

Gunshots broke the silence. Hellboy ran toward the beach.

He arrived to find a bizarre tableau: Abe, lying face-down in the sand; Jason a few steps away from Abe; Kate, standing further back on the shore, clutching a book and looking shocked; and Harold Green, soaked in blood, standing between Jason and Kate, his gun held in a trembling hand.

"Green?" Hellboy said.

"I..." Green's voice was hoarse, and he paused to cough. Blood dripped from his mouth. "He cut me good but…I managed to hide in the van…passed out…"

"Well, we've got him now," Hellboy said as he walked cautiously toward Jason. He didn't want to make any sudden moves that would allow the psycho to finish Abe off for good.

Jason started toward them, the machete still dangling from his hand.

"Watch out, he's fast," Green said.

Hellboy chuckled. "Forget it," he said. "He can't get to you guys without going through—"

Jason's hand lashed out and the machete went whipping through the air. It struck Green and lodged deep in his shoulder, severing it all the way to the breastbone. A gout of blood spurted into the air.

Kate screamed while Green, in his death throes, reflexively fired the last few shots from his gun. As Hellboy lunged to catch him as he fell, one of Green's bullets caught him in the leg.

"God damn it!" Hellboy bellowed. Green was still writhing in his arms, gurgling as he choked on his own blood. Kate helped Hellboy lay the dying man on the ground.

Hellboy looked at Jason, who was slowly walking toward them. Jesus Christ, he thought, this penny-ante thug is slaughtering us!

"It's too late for Green," Hellboy said to Kate, who was still cradling the agent. "Go help Abe while I take care of this guy."

She hesitated. He saw the blood on her face, the panic in her eyes, and he put his hand on her shoulder. "Abe needs you."

She looked into Hellboy's eyes, and her face hardened. She nodded.

"Good," said Hellboy, getting to his feet to face Jason. "That was your last victim, you bast - "

Jason snaked around Hellboy who, caught off-guard, missed with an awkward from his left hand. The killer backhanded Kate, then tore the machete out of the dead man's shoulder.

"Dammit!" Hellboy put himself between Jason and Kate again. "Need your little knife to feel tough, huh?"

Jason didn't say anything. Hellboy decided he wasn't going to underestimate this freak a third time. He tried to flex his right arm - it was still numb, and he didn't think he could throw a proper punch with it. But if he could get Jason into a headlock…

"C'mon, c'mon," he muttered. "Come and get me..."

Jason turned and ran toward the forest.

"No!" Hellboy leaped and grabbed Jason's shoulder with his left hand. The killer struck out with the machete, but Hellboy was ready for it; he yanked his hand back just in time, and Jason struck himself instead.

Jason struggled to pull the machete out of his own shoulder. "Idiot," said Hellboy. He grabbed Jason by the back of his ragged shirt, lifted him over his head, and threw him into the lake. "I'd tell you to stay down, but we're way past you getting out of here alive."

Hellboy waded into the lake, stopped a few from Jason and drew his pistol. The killer had struggled to his feet and was still trying to pull the machete out of his shoulder.

"This is just sad," Hellboy said, and he pulled the trigger. The 20mm shell caught Jason in the chest with such force it flipped him backwards. After a moment, his body floated back to the surface, face down and motionless.

Shoving his pistol into its holster, Hellboy called out to Kate, "How's Abe?"

"He's alive, but he's lost of a lot of blood," he called back.

"We need to get him to a hospital," Hellboy said. "Let me grab what's left of this guy and – "

The machete shot out of the water and stabbed deep into Hellboy's abdomen. Startled, he fell. His trenchcoat and stone hand dragged him underwater. When he got back to the surface, sputtering and coughing up water, he saw Jason above him, his battered hockey mask gleaming like a ghoulish death's head.

Hellboy felt a stinging pain as the killer reached down and yanked the machete out of his stomach. He turned around in the water, getting on all fours in an effort to push himself to his feet, and the machete thumped into his back.

Hellboy roared in pain. "That's the last time you hit me with that!" His right arm was still numb from the stab wound to his biceps, but he twisted his torso as hard as he could, his right hand swinging like an anchor on a chain and smashing directly into Jason. The killer stumbled back and the machete went flying from his hand.

Hellboy got to his feet and shrugged off his coat. Water and blood streamed from his body.

And then Jason was rushing toward him. Hellboy yanked his pistol from its holster, aimed high and fired.

The gun clicked empty. He hadn't reloaded since his last shot. "Oh shi - "

Jason crashed into him. Hellboy was driven down into the murky water as the killer struggled to get his hands around his throat.

It was at that moment that Hellboy felt the strength return to his right arm. His superhuman healing had finally caught up. He clenched his stone hand, pulled back and took out all his anger and frustration on Jason.

"Boom!"

The blow launched the killer out of the water and sent him hurtling toward the center of the lake.

#

On the shore, Kate had managed to get Abe on his back and elevated his legs. She was narrating the battle to him.

Abe whispered something. "What?" Kate said, leaning down to hear him better.

#

Gritting his teeth, Hellboy was wading toward Jason when he heard Kate calling out to him.

"What is it?" he shouted.

"Abe says there's a boulder with a chain wrapped around it in the middle of the lake…"

Hellboy looked out at the lake and rubbed his chin. "Chains, huh?" He reached for Jason, who was splashing in the deep water. Using his stone hand, Hellboy grabbed him by the shoulder and lifted him up. He held the killer out at arm's length. Jason struggled against him, but couldn't get a grip.

Without a word Hellboy began walking deeper into the lake, dragging the squirming Jason behind him. After the long battle and all the injuries, the killer seemed worn out, and his resistance became increasingly feeble.

Hellboy took an enormous breath as the water went up and over his head. Thanks to his stone hand and some clever use of his left hand and tail, he was able to lurch along the bottom rather than float. All the while, he kept a tight grip on Jason.

There wasn't much light, and so Hellboy didn't know he'd reached the boulder until he stubbed his hoof on it. It took everything he had not to blow all the air in his lungs out in a curse.

Jason was barely moving now. Hellboy hauled him onto the boulder and started heaving the chains around him, tying them into a knot in the small of the killer's back, out of his reach.

Freed from Hellboy's grip, Jason floated upward until the chains caught. He began to spin, slowly and listlessly, a prisoner of the lake once more.

#

When Hellboy returned to shore, Kate was tending to Abe's wound. "Looks pretty clean," she said. "I don't want to take out the spear, but I've staunched the blood a bit."

Hellboy touched Abe's shoulder. "Don't worry, I know you've got guts," he said to Abe. "I've seen them!"

Abe groaned.

"What is it, Abe? What do you need?" Kate said.

"It's…not that," Abe gasped. "He just quoted…Captain Kronos."

#

The B.P.R.D. and the F.B.I. arrived shortly before dawn with the now-unnecessary reinforcements. Abe was taken by helicopter to a hospital close to the Bureau, while Kate decided to wait until the Bureau's Native American ritualist arrived to perform a cleansing spell.

Against the protests of Kate, Hellboy decided to hang around too. Within a few hours his body had already healed most of his wounds, though the pain in his gut where Jason had stabbed him with the machete would linger.

"Gonna have a lot of fun writing this one up," Hellboy muttered.

Kate nodded, a sad look on her face. "Those poor agents."

"Yeah," said Hellboy. "I know. If I'd been here…"

"Hey," said Kate, touching his arm. "It's not your fault."

They watched the ritualist as he chanted over a small fire, speaking words that were old long before the white men first came to those shores.

"Think this'll work?" Hellboy asked.

Kate shrugged. "Hard to say. The record of the curse wasn't very specific, so he's just doing a sort of all-encompassing cleansing spell. But it all depends on how much of Jason Voorhees is really due to the curse...if anything at all."

"Well, he's not going anywhere for a while. I got him wrapped tight in those chains."

"He's gotten out of them before," Kate pointed out. "At least, that's what Abe thinks."

Hellboy shrugged. "Well, we'll come back for him as soon as…" He trailed off as a B.P.R.D. agent came running toward them. "What's up, Bud?"

"It's Professor Bruttenholm," the agent said breathlessly. "He's back."

"What?" Hellboy's lantern jaw fell open. He looked at Kate.

"Go." She was smiling. "I'll be along soon."

Hellboy looked back at the lake. He was smiling too. "Yeah. Like I said, he's not going anywhere. I'll come back for him after I check in with the Professor."

As he turned to leave, Hellboy noticed something. It was the moment before night gave way to dawn. Squinting, he could just make out what looked like a canoe floating in the middle of the lake, with what looked like a girl sitting in the middle of it. He went to tap Kate's shoulder, but decided to look one more time to make sure he wasn't seeing things. But then the light faded and it was night, and darkness covered the lake.

END