by GDL 629 19136
The Sandman and Dian Belmont heard the shots ring out a few blocks away. “We’re there,” Dian said as she gunned the roadster’s engine.
The last member of the gang ran, shooting back at the two creatures who came closer and closer, and the pounding of his heart drew them to run even faster.
The blood-soaked pair hissed and buzzed like flies, their voices echoing in the young man’s head like klaxons.
The street punk ran for the corner.
Dian couldn’t swerve away in time, as the gang member rolled over the hood of the roadster and onto the front mirror. Luckily, the reinforcements to the car that the Sandman had added worked, albeit not so lucky for the alley punk, who flipped over the hood and fell, badly injured.
The Sandman jumped out of the slowing vehicle, his guns raised. “Dian, see to that man! I’ll go and see what’s happening.”
The robed man lunged at the Sandman like a frenzied beast. The crime-fighter ducked under the predator, who ran into the side of a tenement housing. The gas-gun shot out, enveloping the attacker in a greenish mist. The robed man coughed and staggered, then rose up, if a little shakily.
Not good, thought Wesley Dodds, obviously surprised at the ineffectiveness of the gas.
Then something struck the Sandman from behind, knocking him to the ground. He spun around just in time to avoid a claw-like hand lashing out for his chest. The ruddy-complexioned, auburn-haired vision’s beautiful features were contorted like an animal.
Her robed companion was now behind the Sandman, and the two were closing in. The two horrors then circled around the Sandman as he waited for the attack.
Sizing them up, the Sandman quickly realized that hand-to-hand combat with the two of them would not be in his favor. As the twin horrors prepared to strike, the Sandman sprayed the gas-gun while firing his wirepoon at the upper ledge of the tenement house. He began retracting the wire, while still spraying the gas at them.
The woman lunged at the Sandman while furiously gasping for breath; the man fell down to his knees, shaking the cobwebs from his skull. As the wirepoon lifted Sandman over the gassed creatures, he kicked her talon-like hands away. The woman quickly grabbed her companion and tore open a manhole cover.
Before the Sandman could glide down the wire to the street, they had slithered down into the sewer system.
Dian had called for an ambulance while stabilizing the intended victim’s condition. “He’s alive, but in pretty bad shape,” she added.
The Sandman pried open the manhole cover and, after firing some gas-gun insurance, peered down the opening.
The two had vanished.
The Sandman and Dian had no time to spare, as the sirens blared in the distance. They loaded the lone survivor of the slaughtered street gang into the roadster and sped off into the night.
Wes removed his mask and replaced his glasses. “Turn right. The hospital’s over the next block. We can leave him in the back.”
A few blocks away, a manhole cover slowly cracked open, and two robed creatures furtively emerged.
“Sssoon… Dala… sssoon… our army will emerge,” hissed the hooded man. “Tomorrow, they will rise, and will add to our ranksss…”
The hooded man and his companion crept into an unfinished abandoned tenement housing, a filthy room that teemed with rats, insects, and garbage. An assortment of food containers and drug paraphernalia lay broken around the mattresses.
In the corner of the entrance hall, a pile of human bodies were strewn about, their unmoving forms strangely avoided by the vermin.
“Why me, God? Is every-f***in’-body out ta get me?!” exclaimed Clem Burke, gazing at the massacre before him. He coughed hard, more from the residue of his encounter with the Sandman yesterday, he rationalized, rather than his three-pack-a-day habit.
Four victims now, added to the similarly murdered two back at the morgue. The count was rising, and still no clue as to the murderer or murderers.
Burke almost found himself wishing that the Sandman would find the killer or killers. Then he’d lock ’em all up.
The dream had seized Wesley again, drowning him in its intensity.
Wes splashed through the dankness of the tunnel, his vision barely helped by the infrared lenses in his gas mask. The buzzing grew louder. Wes could feel the pounding of drums as much as he could hear them.
Amid a pool of deep red, he saw two flies hovering over the corpse of a rat. In the pool, tiny flickers of light danced in the calm liquid.
Three flashes of light shot out, almost blinding Wes.
Then four flies. The pool started to ripple. The lights popped on and off.
Another flash, and suddenly there were ten flies. Wes didn’t stop to think why he counted them; a voice urged him on. “Notice the pattern, Wesley.”
The pool began to shake, further marring the pinpricks of light.
Another flash, and now there were fourteen flies descending upon the rat. The pool tossed and turned violently, the rays of light beginning to go out.
Wesley sat up, awake in his chair where he had been dozing. He glanced out the window to see the setting sun.
The Sandman had another visit to make.
“Hey Phil… Phil! Yo, Phil! Wake uuuppp!” Marty had grown tired of watching the TV show, whereas Phil was heavily engrossed in it.
“C’mon, Mart… just let me catch the ending! Sheez, I let you watch your goddamn soaps last shift!” said Phil, not moving his eyes from the screen to even reply.
“They’re not for me — my sister works all day and doesn’t have a VCR yet.”
“Uh-huh.” Phil cracked a smile.
“Well, she doesn’t! They’re, like, five-hundred bucks, y’know? Reaganomics sucks.”
Marty and Phil’s reverie was truncated by a loud creak. They both stopped and looked at each other.
“Was that you?” Marty asked nervously.
“Naw, dude. You?” replied Phil.
Suddenly a hissing noise, very similar to the escaping cooled air of a corpse locker, was audible. Then another hissing noise, more like a snake, could be heard, coming closer and closer.
“Uhhh… Philll…” Marty didn’t want to turn around and look.
As Clem Burke looked up from his cluttered desk, there stood the Sandman, stepping from behind the door. Burke went for his gun.
“Don’t bother. You’ll be out before you can open the holster,” replied the Sandman, pointing his gas-gun.
Burke sat back in his chair and let out a deep sigh. “All right, you got me for now. What the f*** do ya want?”
“I’m here to talk. The murders occurring are beyond the realm of normalcy.”
“No s***.” Burke was biding his time. Sooner or later someone would come knocking, and then the Sandman would be caught.
“Lieutenant,” sighed the Sandman, “I am here to help you. The murders are the work of the supernatural.”
Burke was getting angrier. “What, you tryin’ ta tell me we got, what…? Count f***in’ Dracula running around? You’re nuts!”
“Not Dracula. There are two creatures. From their appearances, the research I did indicates that they are called the Monk and Dala. Having fought them firsthand, I can assure you that they are most definitely not human. The Batman once encountered them almost fifty years ago and thought he destroyed them.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Batman, Detective Comics #31 (September, 1939) and Batman, Detective Comics #32 (October, 1939).]
“The Batman. Right. So why don’t you call Superman, fer Christ’s sake? Why me?” replied Burke sarcastically.
“I do not know if the Monk and Dala’s existence is scientifically or magically based, and since Superman is vulnerable to magic, I won’t put him in danger without knowing what we’re dealing with.”
“Sorry I asked,” said the exasperated Burke. “So why–?”
Suddenly, gunshots were echoing outside the office.
“What the f***?” Burke jumped up, while the Sandman had already gone out the door.
Burke ran out to see what the commotion was all about. The Sandman by then had vanished. “He’s quick. Betcha he’s a Goddamn vampire!”
The entire precinct house seemed under siege. The two corpses from the morgue were running down the hall, screaming and hissing. They were dragging the limp forms of Marty and Phil, the morgue workers. Fallen officers lined the hallways that were in the two undead creatures’ path.
“Jesus!” Burke went for his .38 and fired two shots at the corpses’ heads. The shots had no effect.
With a shriek, Stephanie clutched Burke’s throat with her hand, lifting him over the floor. Burke kicked and flailed, but couldn’t break free.
He felt dizzier and dizzier as the seconds seemed to grow longer. The overhead lights began to swirl red, like going down a tunnel. Pale, greenish mists began to frame his vision, as he felt like he was falling.
The shock of hitting the floor woke him up.
The two reanimated corpses were bent over, choking as the vapors of the Sandman’s gas-gun overwhelmed them.
The Sandman shot out his wirepoon gun, ensnaring Stephanie and Antoine in a steel cable. They writhed around furiously, wailing their inhuman cries.
Burke accepted the small mouthpiece that filtered out the gas filling the hallway, as the Sandman kept his wary eyes upon the creatures.
“So… now do you believe me, Lieutenant Burke?”
Burke nodded warily, still not comfortable with the presence of the horrors rolling around, trying vainly to break the cable that held them prisoner. Burke wasn’t too comfortable with feeling gratitude toward the Sandman for saving his life, either. Besides, he was still trying to catch his breath.
Outside the precinct house, two hooded figures closed in on the 1930s roadster parked near the corner.
“That car… looksss… familiar… doesss it not, my dear?” said the hooded form of the Monk.
“Yesss, my brother…” Dala replied with a widening evil smile. “Deliciousss…”
In the roadster, Dian Belmont sat quietly waiting for the Sandman to return. “Well, he’s been here before, and got out in broad daylight…”
Dian sighed, drumming her fingers on the dashboard, her impatience at not being in the thick of the commotion distracting her from the reality creeping toward her.
The Sandman and Clem Burke stood before the two feral creatures bound before them, watching the vampires shriek and snarl in defiance of their captors.
Suddenly, the two stopped. They seemed to be listening to an inaudible voice, nodding their heads, then muttering answers in a sub-vocal growling. Their faces went blank, as if they were receiving instructions. Then their faces twisted into smiles. Antoine and Stephanie suddenly let out a shrill round of laughter.
“What the $^&*@*’s up with them?” inquired Burke, scratching his head.
“Communication of some sort, I’d say.” The Sandman readied his gas-gun, in case this was another attempt at escape.
“Ohhh… put that away, Sssandman! You’ll have to play with usss… if you want to ssseee your woman… alive again!” proclaimed Antoine, while Stephanie cackled in assent.
An icy cold fist clenched at the Sandman’s heart. “What are you talking about?” he said, aiming his gas-gun at Antoine’s head.
“That isss your car outside, isssss it not? The roadssster?” hissed Stephanie. Antoine laughed aloud at her question.
The Sandman grabbed Antoine and aimed his gas-gun directly into his face. “You tell the Monk — not one mark on her!”
“Well, Sssandman… that dependsss… on you!”
The gas pellet she had dropped had slowed down the attacking revenants when they pulled her out of the car. But they had shaken off the effects of the gas and flew after her, easily spanning the two blocks Dian had put between them.
Dala leaped in front of Dian. Her rubied lips pulled back to reveal her sharpened canines, sending an instinctive shiver through Dian’s spine.
Remembering her training with Wes, Dian blocked Dala’s savage attack with an upward kick to Dala’s chin, sending the horrifying beauty into the alley.
She turned to run, then felt two claw-like hands grab her shoulders, holding her off the ground. She broke into a clammy sweat, as time seemed to slow into pounding heartbeats. The heated stench of the Monk’s breath hit her like a charnel furnace, a dizzying illness paralyzing her.
Dian felt a sharp, stinging pain and stiffened as two icy blades stuck deep into her throat.
Waves of involuntary pleasure ran reluctantly over her very being. As she looked down at her body, lattice-like patterns of pulsing blue covered her.
She saw the reddish tinge flowing out from the patterns toward what looked like a kaleidoscope of wings fluttering about her neck, sending warm, soothing feelings throughout her.
The dizziness was too much, and she fainted, with one sound uttered from her quivering lips.