Kolchak: The Night Stalker/Yu-Gi-Oh!
Game of Darkness
Notes: The characters are not mine and the story is! I've been toying with an idea where Kolchak is pitted against one of the most ruthless and sadistic paranormal villains ever—the psychopathic Yami Marik from the anime and manga Yu-Gi-Oh! Hence, this story was born. As per the Moonstone Comics, the time period is the present day. But unlike them, Kolchak and company are still in Chicago, right where they should be!
The street was dark and deserted. A chill autumn breeze rolled down its center, carrying several dead leaves with it. Overhead, a streetlamp flickered, threatening to plunge the road into a deeper night.
Carl Kolchak stumbled away from the direct scene, gripping his tape recorder in a still-shaking hand. His heart was racing as he backed into an old telephone pole. His clothes were rumpled and torn, and his hat and hair awry, but he barely noticed. As he pressed the Record button he gazed out at the lonely street with paranoid eyes. There was no sign of anything out there now.
"Tonight I've experienced a kind of evil that I had no idea even existed," he said, releasing a shuddering breath. "There's no mention of it in books on mythology or legends or fairytales. From all that I've gathered from my attempts at researching its origins, there is only one of its kind. But one is just too many."
His knuckles went white as he clutched the small machine all the tighter. "Thanks to this . . . this thing, several people are dead, several more are badly hurt, and several others' minds have been severely damaged." His voice darkened to a level foreign to all those who knew him. "They might never recover.
"It all started one week ago, on September 30th.
"The Art Institute of Chicago, located in Grant Park, is one of the most prolific art museums in the United States. At one million square feet, it is also the second largest. Only the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City surpasses it in size.
"Its many halls are filled with a wide variety of art, from Classic to Impressionist to Contemporary, as well as artifacts from important time periods. Rome, Greece, Egypt—they're all represented here.
"On September 30th, at 12:05 A.M., the museum suffered a robbery. The strange thing was, out of everything valuable the thief could have taken, the only thing he was interested in was an old Egyptian staff.
"I take that back. There was something else strange about that robbery, something far more unexplainable and disturbing.
"The police were at the scene in minutes. I shouldn't have been awake to arrive at the scene myself, but I was, thanks to a losing battle with insomnia. What I found at the museum woke me up for the rest of the night."
Kolchak parked his yellow convertible outside the museum and hurried towards the steps, where the police and other reporters were already gathering. He pushed his way through the crowd and to the front doors, where a uniformed officer was writing on a small pad of paper.
"Excuse me?" he called over the cacophony of voices. "What happened here?"
The officer looked up and groaned. "Kolchak, go away. Please." He looked back at the pad. "It's just a simple robbery, nothing that would interest you. There's nothing to sensationalize."
"Sensationalize?" Kolchak echoed in dismayed disbelief. "Sensationalize? I'm not a cheap tabloid reporter. If you can even call what they do 'reporting'," he muttered as an aside. Louder he continued, "I'm just trying to get to the truth."
"Uh huh. You know, that's what they say too," was the reply.
"Who?" Kolchak frowned.
"The tabloid reporters," the officer said, not glancing up even once.
"They wouldn't know the truth if it walked up and smacked them in the face," Kolchak declared. "Now about this robbery . . ."
The policeman let out a huge sigh. "Okay, Kolchak. I'll tell you about the robbery, if that will make you happy and go away." He flipped the pad shut and stepped closer to the front doors. Kolchak followed. "Someone slipped past the alarm system, broke a case in the Egyptian exhibit, and took what was inside."
"And what was inside?" Kolchak asked.
"Just an old staff," the officer shrugged. "The security guards probably surprised him then or he would've taken more."
"What do you mean they 'probably' surprised him?" Kolchak watched the other man carefully for his reaction. Something strange was going on, that much was clear.
The policeman had had enough. "I mean exactly what I said. Look, Kolchak, we're really very busy tonight." He took hold of Kolchak's arm, trying to steer him around. "Why don't you go home and get some sleep?"
"A few minutes ago I would have loved to do just that," Kolchak quipped, "but now, far more fascinating things than sheep are prancing through my mind."
As the officer prodded, he refused to move. "Hey, wait a minute! Why can't you ask the security guards if they 'probably' surprised the burglar?" he asked, looking over his shoulder.
Another policeman appeared in front of him as he broke through the crowd. "He didn't say we couldn't, Kolchak," he said. "Now, we'll be happy to escort you to your car." He grabbed Kolchak's other arm.
With two people pushing and pulling to get him to move, Kolchak was finally forced to. "Were the security guards hurt?" he demanded, glancing back and forth between the two law enforcement officers.
"Do you see an ambulance around?" one of the officers replied, his voice far too smooth for comfort.
"No, actually I don't," Kolchak said.
But before he could inquire further the crowd crowded around them. In all the commotion Kolchak pulled free, ducking behind a news van. The other reporters hailed the police officers, calling questions about the case. They jostled and shoved as they pushed forward, waving their hands for attention.
Kolchak held on to his camera and tape recorder as he weaved through the throng. At last he broke free and ducked around the side of the building, breathing a sigh of relief. Maybe he could slip through a side door and find out what was happening in there. Whatever it was, it was a lot more than what he was being told—as usual.
Unfortunately for him, all doors seemed to be guarded by one or more officers. His frown deepened. This heavy display of security told him what he already suspected—this was more than a simple robbery. And could it even be called a "simple" robbery anyway, when all the thief wanted was an old staff and had gone to so much trouble to get it?
He hurried to the policeman watching the nearest door. "Officer! Officer, thank goodness I've found you!" he exclaimed. "There's a riot going on at the front of the building!"
The officer tensed. "A riot?" he repeated. He frowned, distrustful. "Are you sure?"
"Oh, of course. Of course," Kolchak returned. "Can't you hear that wild crowd?" He gave a mock shudder. "They sound furious enough to break down the doors if they want to."
"Or if you want them to," the policeman said dryly. "Sorry, Kolchak, I'm not leaving my post."
"Come on, you don't really think the thief is going to come back to the scene of the crime to get anything else, do you?" Kolchak said as he gestured at the door. "That maybe he'll want a few Egyptian vases or those containers that the ancient Egyptians put people's guts in after they died?"
"I have no idea," was the flat, unimpressed reply. "You're wasting your time, Kolchak. Go home."
It certainly was a waste of time. Kolchak moved to walk away, then stopped. "Or maybe what you're really worried about isn't him coming back to steal anything," he said. "Maybe you're afraid of another incident like what happened to those guards."
The policeman stiffened, caught off-guard by the remark. "Who told you about the guards?" he demanded.
Now Kolchak was triumphant. The officer had all but admitted something was horribly wrong. His stunned and then urgent expression said it loud and clear.
"Oh, it's been floating around," Kolchak said, casually stepping closer to the door as he spoke. "There must be a security leak somewhere down the line."
"No one's heard anything from me!" the other man declared in indignation.
"Of course not, Officer, of course not," Kolchak said soothingly. While the sentry was distracted he tried to reach around to test the door handle. His hand was still en route when the police officer spoke again.
"I never once said anything to anyone about how those guards were killed!"
Kolchak froze, his hand still in position. The guards had been killed? And for an old staff? What was the dark explanation for this?
Recovering before it could look suspicious he said, "They're also saying the guards shot each other by accident while trying to apprehend the robber."
The policeman's mouth dropped open. "What?" he cried in disbelief. "How did something like that get strung around when they were both found lying on the floor, their faces the very epitome of terror?"
Kolchak hurried to scratch this incoming information on his notepad. "Oh, you know how rumors start, Officer," he said. "One sentence is twisted or one word is left out and suddenly everything has a new meaning."
"And I suppose false things are being spread about the staff too," the policeman ranted, his face turning reddish-purple with anger.
"Oh yes," Kolchak nodded in complete, deadpan seriousness. "Yes, they're saying all kinds of things about the staff."
"All those stories about it having hidden power to torment the mind into insanity are just that—stories!" the officer cried. "That sort of thing can't really happen!"
Kolchak's eyes widened. Supposing they were not just stories. Could the staff have been used to kill the guards somehow, maybe through heart attacks brought on by something they had experienced? What had they looked so terrified about?
Both the policeman and Kolchak jumped a mile. Captain Quill was coming towards them in full dress uniform, looking very displeased.
"What have you been telling this reporter, Barnes?" he demanded.
"Nothing, sir!" Barnes exclaimed. "He was telling me about the rumors going around about the case already. It's outrageous!"
"Rumors? There are no rumors!" Quill turned to glare at Kolchak. "You're up to your usual tricks, I see. Kolchak, you're not welcome on museum property. I'll have you escorted back to your car."
Kolchak was frustrated. "I beg pardon, Captain, but there's something going on here that people need to know about!" he cried. "Those two guards were found dead looking like they'd seen nightmares come to life. And that staff is supposed to have the capacity to torture people's minds into insanity. What kind of nut broke in and took it? Did he kill the guards with it? The public needs to be warned about this!"
Quill was unimpressed. "The public would think the same thing about you that I'm thinking right now," he said. "It wouldn't do you any good to print garbage like that."
"I'm not trying to do me any good," Kolchak retorted. "Look, Captain, if the story goes out and even one person believes that there's a maniac loose with a possibly mind-altering staff . . ."
". . . Then I poor pity that person," Quill said. "Barnes, get him out of here."
Barnes gave an awkward nod. "Y-Yes, Captain," he stammered. He grabbed Kolchak by the arm, leading him away from the building. "Let's go."
Kolchak had no choice but to move. Behind him, the museum stood as firm and unyielding as Captain Quill, keeping its secrets.
Barnes refused to leave Kolchak alone until they reached the yellow Mustang. "Don't try to get in again," he warned then, slowly backing away.
Kolchak threw up his hands in surrender. "I won't, I won't," he said.
He watched the scene at the museum with narrowed eyes. The police were going inside now, shutting and presumably locking the doors behind them. No matter how the reporters lingered around the doors and called in, they were ignored. For the time being, learning anything looked hopeless.
Maybe tomorrow he could hit the morgue and see if Gordy would help him again.
A low chuckle somewhere behind him sent a chill down his spine. He whirled, his heart pounding. "Who's there?" he demanded.
There was no answer.
"September 30th, 3:07 A.M.
"Gladys Martin was walking home after a late-night stop at her local grocery store. She never imagined what would be lurking in the shadows, waiting for her, as she turned onto her block.
"The police weren't able to imagine, either. Whatever Gladys saw that night, it left her in a state of total and complete shock. She's still in a coma at Chicago General Hospital."
Tony Vincenzo was not in a good mood. As soon as he had arrived in his office later that morning, he had unfortunately discovered a message from the police department. Carl had been poking around again, at the site of a museum robbery in the night, and the police were not amused—even less so because he had been piecing together a wild story from the information he had received on the case.
Tony slammed his hands on his desk. "What am I going to do with him?" he ranted to no one in particular. "I should fire him. I really should. I don't know why I don't."
"Because I'm the best reporter you have and you know it."
Tony looked up with a start. Speak of the devil—Kolchak was standing in the open doorway of his office, coat in hand. Tony got up and went around his desk, glaring at him.
"Kolchak, what were you doing last night?" he demanded.
"It's funny you should ask, Tony," Kolchak said. "I was just coming to talk to you about that."
"The police came to tell me first," Tony retorted, his lips pulled in a thin, humorless smile. "Do you know what they said?"
"No, but I can guess." Kolchak walked around Tony and into the office, glancing at the note on the desk. "They're probably complaining that I was obstructing an investigation and requesting you to keep a tight leash on me. Am I correct?"
"Kolchak, they said you were spreading some story about an Egyptian staff that made the two security guards go crazy and drop dead!" Tony yelled.
Kolchak held up a hand. "Not true, Tony. Not true. It was Officer Barnes who told me about the guards and the staff. I just started trying to put the pieces together."
"And you found several missing!" Tony shot back.
"There's more than several missing!" Kolchak exclaimed. "Tony, I don't know what's going on. All I know is that the police are trying to cover it up."
Tony nodded. "Uh huh. They're always trying to cover something up, aren't they, Carl?"
"They are!" Kolchak turned away in frustration, storming to the door. There he stopped, looking back. "Tony, if you could see even a small portion of what I've seen these last few years, you'd know I'm not crazy."
"Kolchak, what I heard on that tape of yours, that otherworldly screeching, was horrifying enough to last me a lifetime," Tony said.
"And you don't know what that was," Kolchak said. "You said it yourself, you couldn't say for sure that it was just some prank!"
"All I know is that whatever it was, it landed you in the hospital after almost fatally beaning you in the head!" Tony cried, his voice still rising. "That wasn't any prank. You're always getting yourself in these situations! I don't know how you've managed to stay alive all this time, but your luck's going to run out sooner or later!"
Kolchak stared at him. "Tony, I don't believe it," he declared. "You're worried about me. You're getting downright emotional over the possibility that one of these days I might not come back."
"I'm not worried and I'm not getting emotional!" Tony ranted. "I just want to know why getting at this 'truth' you're always talking about is worth risking your life!"
Kolchak had not known what to say when Tony had asked him the same thing at the hospital. He did not have any better idea how to reply now. He turned away, starting to pull his coat back on.
"Speaking of getting at the truth, I have somewhere I need to be right now," he said. "Maybe we can pick up this conversation over lunch."
Tony followed him to the door. "It's not going to get picked up, at lunch or anywhere else," he retorted. "You just don't want to talk about it. Oh, you're always willing to tell me all about the latest nonsense you're looking into, but never what makes it so vitally important. And frankly, Kolchak, I'm getting tired of it."
"Oh, I'm sorry, Tony," Kolchak said. "It really can't be helped." He hurried to the door leading out of INS.
Tony glared after him. "I'll never understand him," he said to the room. "Never." He went back in his office, shutting the door after him.