The Third Deadly Sin
part 5 - Final
Mikey landed hard, his flashlight flying out of his hands. The strap on Don's bag slipped down and caught his arm, tangling him up as the weight on his chest turned into weight against his neck.
The spinning flashlight came to a stop, its light shining towards Mikey's feet. It gave off enough illumination so that Mikey could see it was Donatello on top of him, his hands wrapped tightly around Mikey's throat.
"Do . . . ." Mikey choked out, but couldn't say anything more as his oxygen was cut off.
Frantically beating at his brother with his free hand was ineffectual; Don was nearly as strong as Raph. Mikey's eyes started to roll back and his vision blurred. Donatello was going to kill him.
His hand fell away and hit the pile of junk that was under him. Curling his fingers around the first thing he could grab, Mikey brought his arm up with his final bit of strength and hit Don across the head.
Don's fingers were still clamped around Mikey's neck as he keeled over sideways, pulling Mikey with him. Twisting out of Don's grasp, Mikey sat up quickly, shrugging the duffel bag off so he'd be free to fight.
He didn't need to; Don was out cold. Mikey crawled up next to his brother and checked his vital signs, making sure he hadn't cracked open Don's skull when he'd hit him. After ensuring himself Don was all right, Mikey sat back and took several deep breaths, lightly touching his sore neck.
"Oh shell," he muttered aloud, shaking in reaction to his close call. Being killed by his own brother sounded like the worst possible way to die.
Mikey didn't have time to relax; he could hear the others coming. They'd found a way down to the basement and were fortunately more intent on finding the chandelier than on killing each other. For now.
Jumping to his feet, Mikey darted to where he'd seen the chandelier and quickly pulled the debris away from it. The fall hadn't damaged it at all; none of the light bulbs was even broken.
"Gotta be a way to destroy this," Mikey said, still talking out loud. "The crystal at the bottom cracked open somehow so that means it's not indestructible."
Pulling a nunchuck from his belt, Mikey spun one end as hard and fast as he could, building up as much kinetic energy as possible. Bringing it down it one smooth motion, he slammed his weapon against the chandelier.
The end snapped back at him so fast he almost didn't dodge it in time. The nunchuck had rebounded off the chandelier, leaving the cursed object completely undamaged.
Cursing under his breath, Mikey danced around the floor as he held his now numb arm. Shaking it to bring the feeling back, Mikey tucked his weapon back into his belt and yanked out his stun gun.
As the others drew closer, the chandelier's glow became brighter. Mikey decided that maybe it was electrically charged somehow and that the voltage from his gun could short circuit it. Don had said he'd set the voltage pretty high.
Taking careful aim, Mikey pulled the trigger. The projectile flashed out and stabbed at the chandelier, ricocheting as it connected. Mikey saw a white flash as though the chandelier was shielded and then he flung himself to the ground to avoid being struck by his own shot.
"Crap!" Mikey shouted in a combination of fear and frustration.
Rolling up to his feet, Mikey began anxiously looking for something that might be strong enough or heavy enough to break the chandelier. That's when he heard Donny groan.
Mikey also heard Raph shouting obscenities and he knew he was out of time.
Snatching up Don's bag, Mikey drew the welding gloves out of his belt and pulled them on. He tossed the duffel next to the chandelier and then carefully picked up the light fixture, making certain it didn't come into contact with his body. Mikey figured he'd already tempted fate once and that was more than enough.
Stuffing it into the bag, Mikey zipped the duffel closed and slung it over his shoulders just as the light from a set of approaching flashlights started to swing around inside the basement.
"M . . . Mikey?" Don stammered.
Mikey glanced around and saw his brother was sitting up, one hand on his head where Mikey had hit him. Moving fast, Mikey pulled off the gloves and jammed them into his belt. Then he grabbed the end of the dangling rope and began to pull himself up hand over hand.
"No! Bring it back!" Don yelled after him, stumbling as he tried to scramble to his feet atop the pile of junk.
Three forms came barreling out of the darkness, racing towards him as he climbed. Mikey caught the end of the rope between his toes and flipped it up, catching it in his left hand just as Raph jumped at him.
"Dammit, Mikey! Ya' can't have it!" Raph yelled, so furious his voice cracked.
Mikey saw a flash of light reflect off steel and looked down to see Leo pull one of his swords. Wrapping the excess length of rope around his hand, Mikey lunged upwards, desperate to stay out of Leo's reach.
If his brother's had been anywhere near normal, they would have worked together to reach him, but they weren't thinking as a team. Each of them wanted the chandelier for themselves, the others be damned.
Mikey managed to hoist himself out of the reach of Leo's katana and Don's bo staff, but then Casey remembered his stun gun.
Drawing the weapon, he fired it at Mikey without even a warning shout. Mikey saw the gun come up and swung his body out of the projectile's path. The motion caused the rope to snap against the plywood sheet closest to the hole in the kitchen floor and the sheet popped out of place.
As the rope dragged through the broken boards, Mikey plummeted back down towards his brothers. Frantic, he began clawing his way up as fast as he could climb, all the while hearing his pursuers shouting at him.
The rope finally caught on a floor joist and held, coming to a stop so suddenly it nearly shook Mikey from his perch. Chest heaving, Mikey tightened his grip and looked down.
He could see Casey attempting to target him again and then Raph got the same idea, bringing his hand up with the stun gun in it. Without taking time to think about it, Mikey pulled his own gun and began to shoot.
Casey took a direct hit to his chest and fell quivering to the ground. Raph caught a projectile to the shoulder as he tried to fire his own weapon and he dropped first to his knees; then fell forward onto his plastron.
Leo whirled aside and Don threw himself backwards, but not fast enough to avoid being hit in the thigh. He landed amongst the broken boards, his shaking sending them clattering in several directions.
Mikey's oldest brother was fast, but Mikey had practiced shooting at moving targets in too many video games. He led Leo as his brother dashed towards the protection of darkness and then fired, scoring a perfect hit on Leo's shoulder.
Verifying that they were all down, Mikey pulled himself the rest of the way up, crawling out of the gaping hole on his hands and knees. He tossed the rope aside and then lost his composure for a moment.
Trembling, Mikey braced himself with a hand against the wall. Still on his knees, he took several deep, measured breaths to steady his response to the adrenaline flowing through his system. Not knowing exactly how much time he had before the others recovered, Mikey got to his feet.
Mikey knew he had to destroy the chandelier. The house owner knew it even as he lay dying, trapped and unable to move he'd still left a message telling them, telling Mikey, what to do.
The man was obviously trying to take it out of the house, but Mikey didn't think that was the answer. That cursed chandelier had been a part of this house for who knew how long, probably purchased and installed by the long ago wealthy man who'd built the house.
Leaving the house with it would subject even more people to its allure and it wouldn't break the spell that the thing had on his family and Casey. It had to be destroyed once and for all.
There was nothing in the kitchen that Mikey could use to try and break the chandelier, but he remembered seeing construction tools in the foyer. Running as fast as he dared, Mikey headed for the front of the house.
He found the tools lying near the base of the stone entry and noticed right away that the screwdrivers they'd found buried in both corpses matched the set lying on the floor. More than likely the owner had been hired to take the chandelier down and had wound up as one of its first victims.
Mikey dropped the duffel bag on the floor and put the welding gloves on again. Leaning over, he extracted the chandelier and set it next to the tool kit. Picking up a hammer, he spun it so the claw end was facing the chandelier and caught the dangling crystal chain between the prongs.
Holding the chandelier down with one gloved hand, Mikey yanked back with the hammer, trying to snap the chain. Gritting his teeth, he pulled with every bit of strength he had, but the chain held firm.
With a cry of frustration, he spun the hammer around and began pounding on the chandelier.
"Break, break, break, damn you!" Mikey yelled as he swung the hammer, but all it did was bounce off without leaving even a scratch.
Throwing the hammer down, Mikey sank to his knees next to the chandelier and panted. Panic was trying to crawl into his throat and he swallowed it; giving up now spelled doom for his entire family.
"Stupid fucking cursed piece of shit," he murmured, using Raphael's technique for venting his frustration. It actually made him feel better and he chuckled; then he started laughing.
Mikey bit his own lip to stop what had almost become hysterical laughter. He'd indulge himself later; right now he had to think.
"Okay, Mikey," he said to himself. "What do you remember about cursed objects from all those movies you've watched? Besides the fact that they're dangerous and usually kill people."
He mentally ran through a huge list of movies he'd seen on the subject and realized that the one thing they had in common was that the original owner of the object usually knew how to control it. They knew how to use it for personal gain without being affected by its power.
The original owner of the chandelier had hung it in his foyer. That was helpful. Not.
Mikey frowned and looked up at the ceiling where the chandelier had been hanging. There was nothing else up there except a smooth expanse of plaster and the wires that had held the thing in place.
And then Mikey looked down. Down to the section of stone over which the chandelier had been suspended.
Getting up slowly, Mikey stepped up onto the entry and approached the star that had been designed into the stone. Up close, he saw it wasn't a star; it was a pentagram.
"Holy crap," Mikey muttered.
Around the edges he saw fragments of broken glass and knew immediately that it was from the crystal ball that had been covering the ruby. The workman must have nearly dropped the chandelier as he brought it down from the ladder, and the ball had hit the pentagram.
Hitting the pentagram had broken the unbreakable chandelier.
Something was written at each of the points of the star. 'Negatus Avaritia Ut Operio Avaritia'. It looked like Latin to Mikey, but Don was the only one capable of reading it, and he wasn't available.
Mikey had turned back towards the chandelier when loud noises drew his attention. Looking up, he saw his brothers and Casey rushing straight towards him.
With no time left, Mikey dove for the chandelier and snatched it up. Leo was almost on top of him as Mikey twirled aside, nearly tripping on the stone step.
A snarl to his right warned him to dodge as Raph lunged at him and he saw Don pulling his bo staff out as he leaped onto the stone entry.
Casey's golf club was in his hands and he was bearing down on Mikey from a fourth direction. Surrounded, Mikey threw himself to the ground and slid into the center of the pentagram.
As soon as the chandelier touched the star, the ground started to shake. A bright yellow light stabbed its way up through the outline of the star and a blast of air hit Mikey hard enough to send him flying backwards.
Mikey's shell slammed into the front door and he lay stunned as he watched the chandelier rise up three feet into the air. The pentagram opened up beneath it, a loud roar accompanied a vacuum that was so strong Mikey had to brace himself to keep from being pulled in.
He looked around for his brothers and Casey; fearful that they would be sucked into the hole, but saw that all four of them were frozen in place as they faced the chandelier.
Thick red glowing tendrils shot out of the ruby and wrapped themselves around the mesmerized foursome. Mikey could see that the vacuum was trying to take the chandelier into the depths of the opening, but the chandelier was fighting back by holding onto its captives.
Mikey knew right away that his friend and his family were feeding the chandelier with their energy. As long as they held onto their greed, they were fodder for the curse.
The wind whipped around Mikey as he held himself against the wall. His brothers and Casey stood on four sides of the chandelier, rigid and unmoving as tentacles of pure power held them.
Mikey could see that it was draining them to keep itself afloat. The vortex inside the opening in the stone platform continued to churn, pulling loose objects into its bottomless pit. While the chandelier held its four captives in its grip, it was too powerful for the spinning winds.
"Leo!" Mikey shouted above the roar. "Please, Leo, let it go! All the money in the world is meaningless if you don't have anyone to share it with! Remember what you told me; the only thing we have in this life is each other! It's trying to kill us! Turn away from it!"
He thought he saw Leo's stance shift and he tried one more time, "Leo, save us!"
Leo's eyelids moved and then closed. He blinked twice and then his eyes cleared. With an effort, he slowly began to turn, fighting the tentacle that was trying to keep him in place.
As he turned his back on the greed that was holding him, the tentacle dropped away from his body, winking out of sight. The chandelier seemed to tip sideways then, its grip lost on one of its foundations.
Mikey turned his attention on Raph next. "Raphael, listen to me! You are stronger than this thing, stronger than anything! Remember Mrs. Morrison? Money doesn't mean anything to you; helping people does! The chandelier wants to hurt innocent people!"
Raph mouth shifted into a snarl, his teeth showing. With narrowed eyes, he twisted first to one side and then the other before wrenching his body away from the tentacle. With his back to the chandelier, the cursed object lost its second anchor.
"Casey! Remember your dad! He fought the protection racket; he hated greedy, evil people! Evil people like Hun! Don't turn into Hun! Don't let your father down!"
Casey tipped his head back as Mikey's words reached him. Letting out a long, drawn out shout of rage, Casey threw his arms into the air and spun away from the chandelier.
One last tendril held on, its grip on Donatello tight. The chandelier was halfway into the hole and the tendril around the genius brightened perceptibly. Mikey knew it was going to burn Don out completely if he couldn't think of a way to free him.
Thinking fast, thousands of instances of Donatello's selflessness came to mind, but he just needed one. One that had made a big impact.
Sitting up as tall as he could, Mikey yelled, "Donny! Remember Sydney? Remember the crystal moon and the lone survivor? He lied to us and he tried to hold Sydney and her friend's captive! He lied because he was greedy; he wanted all of us to be his slaves! Remember how you promised to save Sydney? Remember how she cried when you did save her?"
Mikey saw Don's fists clench and his jaw start to work from side to side as he ground his teeth in concentration. The chandelier began to wobble; its last tendril fading in color while Don fought its power.
"Let me go!" Don shouted, stepping backwards and jerking against the tendril.
It released him with a loud pop and he quickly turned his back on the cursed object.
The house began to shake harder then, bits of plaster and rotting wood raining down from above them. The chandelier spun like a top, the glow from its gems creating a kaleidoscope along the walls.
And then it fell into the golden light from below. As soon as it disappeared from sight, the stone floor snapped back into place and the vortex stopped as suddenly as it had begun.
Mikey slid along the door and onto his side, breath gusting into his lungs. Exhausted, he could only look over to where his brothers and Casey were, watching as each of them fell to the ground.
With an effort, he asked, "Are you guys okay?"
Leo pushed himself upright, turning towards his youngest brother. "I'm all right now, thanks to you. Are you hurt?"
Mikey bent his knees and tried to stand up, wincing at the pain in one of his ankles. "I think I sprained something, but I'm fine."
Raph got up and made his way over to Mikey, grabbing onto an arm and pulling him to his feet. He put a shoulder under Mikey's arm and helped him walk to where the others were standing.
"Oh Mikey," Don said, "I'm so sorry. I don't know what came over me."
"Forget it dude," Mikey told him with a grin. "Cursed objects have that kind of power. None of you should blame yourselves for getting caught by it."
"But you didn't," Leo said. "It made us want all kinds of material things and you would seem to be a . . . a . . . ."
"Prime target?" Mikey finished for him. With a laugh he said, "Yeah, I'd love to have all of the latest video games and a few rare comic books and stuff like that, but all of that is pretty trivial compared to what you guys wanted. You just want us to be completely safe, Leo, that's a pretty strong wish. And Raph doesn't want to feel like an outcast in his own city; wanting to walk around in the sunshine doesn't seem like too much to ask for.
"Casey wanted security for himself and April, and a little fun in his life. And Donny, you just wanted to live the dream of being able to work in peace and then share your discoveries with the world, making everything better for everyone. That chandelier grabbed onto the best parts of you guys and twisted things by offering you an easy way to your goals."
"But I still don't understand why it didn't get ya'," Raph said.
Mikey held up his hands, still covered by the gloves. "Well, these helped. I watched enough movies to know not to touch the thing. I guess my being the youngest and having the least feeling of responsibility makes me pretty content with life the way it is. I don't really want anything that I don't already have."
The ground under their feet shook hard at that moment, almost throwing them all down again.
"I don't think this place is gonna stay up much longer," Casey said.
Don swooped down and grabbed his duffel bag as Leo led the way back towards the kitchen. Raph held onto Mikey, helping him stay off the ankle that had already begun to swell.
Circling the hole in the kitchen floor, Leo kicked the back door open and held it as Raph pulled Mikey through. Don followed quickly, but Casey ducked to the side, digging into the pile of stuff that was against the wall.
"Come on Casey," Leo called as the house shook again and the upper floors began to cave in.
Casey jumped through the doorway and Leo ran out behind him. The five of them rushed to a side fence and Leo cut an opening for them to squeeze through as the house began to collapse.
On the other side of the street, they watched the walls and roof fall in. The sound of sirens in the distance told them someone had called the fire department.
"What did you go back for?" Leo asked Casey.
Casey grinned and opened his hand. He was holding three glass doorknobs.
"Not worth as much as that chandelier," he said, "but at least I ain't going back empty handed."
As they headed towards the nearest manhole cover, Mikey looked up at Raph and grinned.
"Hey bro', you know my favorite thing about a haunted house?" Mikey asked.
Puzzled, Raph said, "Nope. What is it?"
"Getting out of it," Mikey told him.