Welcome to my serial science-fiction/fantasy adventure, The Only City Left. This is the story of Allin Arcady and his adventures through a dying, planet-sized city called Earth. (Click here for the Table of Contents.)
At the end of Part 82, Doyle brought Allin to the Roof of the World and exposed him to moonlight to start his transformation into a werewolf. And then the ghosts arrived.
The Only City Left: Part 83
The ghosts! Xerxes hadn’t let me down after all!
Spectral blue hands shot out from all sides and grabbed onto Doyle, pulling him away from me despite his insubstantial form. I didn’t take my reprieve for granted. Though the ghostlight in the room was as powerful as the moonlight pouring in from above, it didn’t stop my transformation. I immediately put my werewolf strength to good use breaking the straps that held my arms and legs.
I let loose a mighty roar as I rolled off the gurney and onto my feet. It felt spectacular to be free and upright again, and I was ready to crack some skulls together in return for all I had been put through. Doyle already had his hands full, so I looked to his henchmen and the quack doctor. Of course, they were werewolves now too, and they had me outnumbered. Unlike me, though, they were completely taken aback by the flood of ghosts pouring through the floor and filling the room. I could use their confusion to my advantage.
Before I could go on the attack, a familiar ghost separated from the pack and intercepted me.
“Xerxes, what’s going on?”
“This is the moment of which I spoke outside of the Garden,” he said. “Prepare yourself.”
Part of me itched to stride past him and wade into battle against Doyle’s henchwolves, but his words brought me up short. Prepare myself? I looked back to where Doyle wrestled with his attackers. Though he flung ghosts away as quickly as he could, their sheer numbers would eventually overwhelm him.
“Looks like your guys are handling it,” I said. “I’ll take care of his men.”
“My guys are handling them as well,” Xerxes said.
I saw what he meant. Another group of ghosts was threading up through the floor by the bar and latching onto Doyle’s hapless men. Unlike Doyle, his wolves didn’t stand a chance against the combined power of that many of the undead. Individually, each ghost couldn’t do much, but together, with each one stealing just a little heat energy from one wolf at one point on the wolf’s body—the heart, for instance—the ghosts proved that they could combine their influence to lethal effect.
One of the wolves managed to fight free and stagger away along the wall behind the bar, which unlike the side walls and the ceiling had not turned transparent. He ducked through a doorway that I had not even realized was there and slammed it shut behind him. This was no impediment to the ghosts, of course, who phased through the wall after him. On this side of the wall, the other werewolves dropped to the floor one by one, their vital organs frozen inside of their bodies. It was a sterile, dispassionate affair and once the ghosts finished with the wolves, they turned their attention to Doyle, adding themselves to the scrum. Seconds later, the ghosts who had followed the fleeing wolf phased back into the room and joined their friends.
“I guess you don’t need me after all,” I said.
“No, Allin, this is when we need you the most,” Xerxes said, floating between Doyle and me. “I must say goodbye now, and good luck.”
“Goodbye? Where are you going?”
He ignored my question and turned to face Doyle. “A final piece of advice: If you fight Doyle on the level of beasts, he will win. He’s had more practice.”
I started to speak, to tell him that I didn’t understand, but he shot away from me and leaped toward Doyle. Instead of joining the fray with the rest of the ghosts, he bypassed Doyle’s defenses and simply immersed himself in the spectral werewolf’s chest like a swimmer diving into water.
The other ghosts took this as their cue to do the same, as if all their struggles to this point had been to distract Doyle until Xerxes gave the signal. All I could do was watch in confused awe as ghost after ghost stopped grabbing at Doyle and instead simply melted into him.
Doyle had been monstrously large to begin with, and as the hundreds of ghosts who filled the room continued to merge with him, his body expanded and pulsed with their added energy. It must not have been a pleasant experience, because he writhed in place and loosed a series of anguished roars. He grew so large that he began to lose definition, to become less an inflated werewolf and more a tiny sun with head and limbs poking out. I held up my arm to shield my eyes against his radiance.
After the last ghost disappeared into the sphere of energy that had been Doyle Arcady, I could still make out a hint of Doyle’s face on the sphere’s surface. His mouth was a stretched oval of silent agony, his eyes two exaggerated saucers of astonishment. A second later, even those features dissolved. Finally, the sphere reached some critical mass and burst apart.
The shock wave knocked me off of my feet and rattled the walls. When the shaking subsided, I sat up and looked at the space where Doyle had been. A grey cloud of smoke was all that was left of him and the ghosts who had swelled his body past its breaking point.
They did it, I thought as I grinned like a dog eyeing a treat. I don’t know how but the ghosts actually did it! It cost them their afterlives, but they erased Doyle from existence!
Then, laughter. Not mine. A form stepped out of the dissipating cloud of smoke. My grin turned to a snarl of disbelief.
Doyle Arcady, in all his werewolf glory, stood before me. He no longer glowed a ghostly blue, for he was now all too alive. The ghosts’ sacrifice had been in vain. Doyle had survived.
* * *
9/15/13 News: Oh noes! That might not have worked out as planned (or did it?). I’m just back from a week-long vacation today, so if you need me, I’ll be asleep for the next two days.
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