by GDL 629 19136
“Geez, Wes! Why’d ya make this thing so hard to fix?” Sandy thought aloud, sitting there by himself. Sandy Hawkins had been engrossed in repairing his gas mask, having only recently found the time since he returned from his adventure as the Sleeper in England.
Poor Aunt Dian was still getting better since her ordeal. (*) Wes was upstairs giving Aunt Dian her daily treatment, and Sandy knew they desired to be alone. Sandy could certainly sympathize with Aunt Dian, having spent several years as a silicon monster. Thankfully, Rex Tyler and Wes had finally cured him.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Sandman: Crimson Tide.]
A sudden whiff of smoke roused Sandy from his musings, and he looked up to find nothing less than a huge, red-bearded Viking, dressed in animal skins and wielding an immense mallet, standing before him and speaking with a booming voice that threatened to shake the walls of the Dodds estate.
“Good evening, mortal youth! Mayhap this be the abode of Wesley Dodds, the Lord Shaper’s mortal agent?”
Sandy went for his gas-gun and held his gas mask up to his startled countenance. “It’s you! ‘Fairy-Tales’ Fenton — the Villain from Valhalla!”
Thor tried to explain. “Thou art mistaken, youth. I merely crave an audience with Wesley Dodd–”
“Raise ’em, mister!” Sandy bellowed as he strapped the gas mask to his head, his gun pointed at the thunder god.
Thor’s face flushed with anger, and the air began to seethe with electricity. “Impertinence! Thou hast dared to raise yon weapon at mine countenance, when mayhap we could have conversed peacefully!”
“Save it, buddy! I ain’t buyin’!” Sandy held his ground. “Especially not from some Bijou opera reject!”
Thor raised his mighty hammer Mjolnir, and lightning danced around the room, while gusts of wind tossed the desk papers around the room like an indoor tickertape parade.
“So be it, then, thou churlish boy! Thor shalt not reject the challenge!”
Wesley Dodds came running down the steps wearing his gas mask. His still-healing arm cradled the wirepoon gun, and he aimed his gas-gun with his right. He came down to the study and found Sandy being swept around by the gale winds being generated by…
“Thor! Stop this now!” the Sandman yelled out over the howling of the powerful wind.
The room went dead quiet as the strewn papers glided to the polished hardwood floor. The oaken desk was lying on its side. Bookshelves had spilled their contents, adding to the chaos of the room.
Thor gazed at Sandman, embarrassed at the shambles of the study. “L-Lord Shaper’s agent… ’Twas the boy who hath started the…”
Sandy furiously roused himself from under the blanket of falling encyclopedias. “Me?! C’mon, Wes! We kicked his keister once before — we can do it again!”
“Enough,” Sandman interrupted. “Sandy, this is Thor, son of Odin and the god of thunder — the real one,” Sandman explained, shaking his head in bemusement.
Thor dropped to one knee and bowed before the Sandman. “My Lord and noble All-Father Odin hath sent me to you, agent of Lord Shaper. Here be thy message, writ by mine father.” Thor produced a piece of ancient-looking parchment and handed it to the Sandman.
The Sandman opened the seal and, gazing at it, asked, “What’s this ‘Lord Shaper’ you keep mentioning? Hmmm… so Odin’s sent you to me to dry you out, eh?”
Luckily, Sandman’s impassive gas mask belied his tickled grin, which doubtlessly would have been taken the wrong way by the bombastic thunder god. Sandy and Thor glared at each other, trading mental daggers at each other.
“Wes? What’s going on down there?” Dian Belmont glided down the steps in her nightgown, alert and awake as she tended to be in the evening hours. Thor gulped as he beheld Dian, who took to the Sandman’s side.
“It’s all right, Dian. We’ve got everything settled down now,” the Sandman reassured her, happy to see her looking more like herself with every passing day.
“I wouldn’t go that far, Wes. Do you have any idea how much work it’s going to take to clean this mess up?” Dian said in a somewhat serious air.
Sandy grinned. “That’s OK, Aunt Dian. We’ve got ‘Björn of the Gassy Winds’ here ta wear the apron!”
Wes and Dian exchanged glances. Now they had two kids in the house to contend with. “You both will start cleaning up. And I want the two of you to start getting along — understood?” The Sandman pointed to Thor and Sandy.
Sandy sulked, putting his gas-gun down, and picked up some of the books. Thor lifted the overturned desk and set it back down properly.
Wes removed his gas mask and looked at Dian. “This should be interesting.”
“What are you doing?” came from the mouth of Dian Belmont as she had snuck down to the kitchen for something to eat a little while later.
Wesley had nodded off upstairs, and today she felt well enough to go it on her own. It had been months since Dian had ventured out of the bedroom in daytime, and she crept down only to find Thor bending down near the liquor cabinet. Now, Wes never drank, while Dian would only nip a little every so often. But as Wes had explained to her, Thor was absolutely forbidden by Lord Odin to drink mead.
Thor jumped up immediately at the sound of Dian’s voice. “Uhh… g-good morning, Lady Belmont, I was merely seeking…” Thor stammered.
“A drink?” Dian asked. “And what would Odin say to that, not to mention the people who supplied the drink?” She arched her eyebrow, glaring at Thor. “I recall a mention of being cast into Hel, correct?”
Thor’s eyes darted from side to side. “B-but, ’twas but for mead only…”
“I think that all alcohol would fall into that category, Thor, as far as Odin was concerned,” Dian replied, bringing her face directly in front of Thor’s. The thunder god’s eyes glazed over.
Dian continued. “And I think this household has taken enough of a taste of Hell recently. Do we understand each other, Thor?”
“Y-yes, milady,” Thor replied.
“Very well. I want no trouble for Wes or Sandy. We are here to help you. I am here to help you — believe me. I know addiction quite well, and perhaps we can both help each other. All right?” Dian smiled warmly at this childlike god who was, in truth, several thousand years old.
“Agreed, Lady Belm–” Thor began to reply.
“Call me Dian. If you wish to talk, Wesley and myself are here for you.” With that, Dian turned and walked away.
Thor’s gaze followed her as she paused for a moment by the window. She stared at the rays of sunlight coming through the partially opened blinds, then she pulled them tightly shut and continued back upstairs. Thor nervously closed the liquor stash door while watching the form of Dian glide up the stairs.
“Nosferatu,” he whispered fearfully to himself.
“Ha! Boardwalk with a hotel! Pay up, buddy!” chuckled Sandy Hawkins at his hapless co-player.
“Nay! Thou dost asketh too much, Sandy Hawkins! Thou hast already depleted my funds in this mortal game!” replied the visibly agitated thunder god, who happened to be playing against the biggest Monopoly shark in three states.
“Hey, fair’s fair. Now, since ya already owe me two-thousand clams, just fork over all yer green properties, and we’ll call it even.” Sandy had “innocently” suggested that Thor take his mind off of hooch by trying some other activities.
Wesley Dodds looked up from his journal and shook his head. Dian Belmont rested her hand on his shoulder. “I see our children are getting along well,” she added sarcastically.
Suddenly, a booming round of laughter echoed from the god of recovering inebriation. “Oho! Thou hast landed on mine own property! ‘Tis now fifteen-hundred mortal dollars that thou owest the thunder god!”
Sandy frowned for a second, until his golden disposition returned. “Well, Stormy, just take it outta the money you owe me.”
A shrill noise suddenly erupted from a scale-shaped sand sculpture on Wes’ desk. “It’s a call from Burke; they must’ve found some more!” Wes rose in his chair.
“Sandy, Thor… care to help me do a little cleaning up downtown?”
Clem Burke used the near-spent cigarette to light his next. “#@%$^&… Hope this tip is good.” He poured himself another shot from the bottle in his desk drawer.
A small form peered in his window from outside. “Oh, it is, mortal… it is!” The shadows obscured the slightly built man, dressed in animal skins. “That’s right, my stupid, stupid Thunder God — come to your undoing!”
Then the cackling little man disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
The Sandman and the NYPD had been making some headway into controlling the vampire population over the last few months, and whenever any possible sightings were found, they were given top priority. Burke usually had to keep things quiet, at the behest of his so-called superiors in City Hall, so he usually informed the Sandman on the Q.T. One such case was unfolding as the heavily customized roadster pulled up to the apartment building.
“Geez, Sandman, how come they never hang out at the Hilton?” Sandy joked as he exited the car with the Sandman and Thor.
The Sandman smiled beneath his mask. “Because places like the Hilton draw too much attention,” said the Sandman as he held his gas rifle in his good arm.
“Shall I call down the lightning, servant of Lord Shaper?” Thor interjected, anticipating the thought of finally getting some action, albeit against creatures that he tended to avoid. Dian had given him pause for concern, as she had seemed to come close to being one of the undead herself.
“No, Thor. We still have the element of surprise. Sleeper, we’re all going to stick together when we go in, OK?” Sandman said to his two companions.
“Just call me Sandy; I’m tired of hearing jokes about my being a mattress. Besides, no one’s ever connected me and my alter ego.” Sandy held both a gas-gun and a wirepoon, ready for battle. “By the way, I added some holy water to the gas compound; should prove useful.”
The Sandman nodded. “Let’s go in.”
Erin glared out from the dingy curtains of their rented room. “Hurry! SSSandman’sss here!” She and her companion had escaped the dragnet so far and were not about to be caught now.
“Quiet! We have the advantage — there’sss only three of them, and we know they’re coming.” Roger flung the drained corpse down to the floor.
It would be a shame to leave this hotel, they figured, as it had provided the two vampires with a steady supply of fresh victims. And they were being very careful to kill the cattle first, then drain the blood.
“Ohhh… I’d say you could use some help, my hapless parasites,” said a voice from the corner, where an evilly grinning, slender man dressed in animal skins could be seen.
Roger growled at the newcomer and prepared to spring.
“Ah-ah-ahhh… I wouldn’t, if I were you. I’ll fry to where you stand, tick-boy.” Loki then smiled even more widely, unnerving the two undead. “I’m here to help you… as long as you help me. Now listen.” The eyes of the merriest prankster since before the Joker got his first makeover flashed, enthralling the vampires.
As the heroic trio entered the dilapidated hotel, the dazed clerk regarded them with suspicion. “May I help you?” he drawled lazily.
Thor plopped his enchanted mallet unto the desk, which didn’t faze the befuddled clerk. “Aye… where be the nosferatu thou harbor in thine most foul dwelling?”
The Sandman shook his head. “Very subtle.”
The clerk suddenly grew hostile and reached for his phone. “Get out of here, you kooks, before I call the police!” Sandy sprayed his gas-gun at the hapless clerk, who slumped onto the counter.
“Check his neck, Sandy; if my suspicion is correct…” the Sandman began.
Sandy pulled back the clerk’s collar, to find two small bite marks on his throat. “Yep. They must’ve done it to keep things quiet around here.” Sandy then opened a vial of holy water and poured it out onto the wounds, which burned as the clerk jerked up and howled in pain.
“Relax. Better to burn a bit now than be buried, friend,” said Sandy in his best bedside manner.
“Wh-what’s going on here?” stammered the clerk, who was suddenly much more awake.
“Any new tenants with strange behavior around here?” the Sandman asked.
“Well, yeah. The couple up in 515 — they never show their faces all day,” the clerk offered.
Sandy and Thor followed the Sandman to the stairwell.